29 November 2011

If You're Not Dead...

If Youre Not Dead by ethurphotos
In my roamings around the internet, I stumbled across this. I can't endorse the group, because I don't know enough about them, but the question they pose is interesting: Who would you give a second chance?

It's a question I've been mulling over since a conversation with our front office staff. We were discussing the fact that the U.S. is deporting a lot of Haitians at the moment. Human rights advocates in the U.S. are shocked and appalled by this, because of the earthquake-damaged-poverty-stricken-hell-on-earth-nature of Haiti (that's their opinion, not mine, by the way). But it turns out that my coworkers were upset for a different reason...

THEM: Living in the U.S. ruined those people, so they should just keep them.

ME: What do you mean, ruined? Like, made them spoiled so they can't live without their iPhones?

THEM: Yeah, spoiled. Spoiled. But spoiled because of drugs and crime. They never would have done drugs here. Drugs come from other places, so it's their problem if those people are rotten now. The U.S. has big prisons and we don't, so they should just keep them.

ME: They're not as big as you'd think.

From there, we continued a political discussion which I won't recount here (because I hated talking about it enough the first time). Suffice it to say, the outcome of the conversation was this:

"Those people are rotten."

Spoiled, like an apple is spoiled when eaten by worms. Like milk that's curdled. Like bread that's molded. Spoiled in an irreversible sense, something deep down in the nature of who they are.

I resented that. I told them so. I told them "those people" can and do change.

They disagreed...which broke my heart.

And since then, I have been thinking about human nature. I've been thinking about psychology, about prisons, about drug rehab programs, about foster homes. I've been thinking about the trash heap that these "spoiled" people grow up in. I've been thinking about how to dig them out.

I've been thinking of K, a friend here. He got deported from the U.S. after having grown up there. He lives here now (but he speaks English like a New Yorker, which makes me giggle). He has some problems...but he started coming to my church a month ago. "There's nothing like this in Haiti," he tells me. "This guy is real," he says, pointing to Seige, our pastor. "He's simple, and he preaches the Word. It's like, wow. And I watched them to see how they'd treat you, if they were asking you for stuff. But they didn't." I asked him if he was coming back, and the look I got in return told me that was a stupid question.

I'd say he's changing.

And more than anything, I've been thinking about Christ's power over life and death, over change and stagnancy. That picture at the top of the page sums it up for me: "If you're not dead, you're not done." If I don't believe that, then I don't believe the Gospel...because everyone made in God's image can find it again. We know that in God's kingdom, the deadwood gets cut down--but it doesn't take much of a bud on the branch to keep you around. If you want life--real life--you can find it there.

But on the other hand, my friends were disturbingly correct. If I won't accept God's help to change, I won't change. My vices and addictions may change, but I won't. If I remain a fan of Jesus instead of a follower, I get out of my faith what exactly what I put into it: nothing. How do I know? I've tried it. And it was a huge waste of time.

What am I trying to say? I'm not sure. Maybe just that I can't give up on those curdled milk, wormy apple, moldy bread failures. Maybe just that, as one of them, I won't.

24 November 2011

Ten Things I'm Thankful For, In No Particular Order

1. No school today. Every week day, we "get to" listen to a chorus of motorcycles, crying kids, and people chattering in Kreyol. It really ramps up just about the time we were supposed to be eating dinner...but today, school was canceled unexpectedly. I don't know how or why, but we weren't complaining.

2. Got to Skype with the fam. I could see them, and thanks to the inventors of the iPhone and the mirror, they could see me, too. Missionaries would have killed for that 100 years ago, and it's free.

3. My pumpkin pies turned out okay...even though I forgot half the milk.

4. Giant Supermarket had cranberry sauce. There's just something about it that just makes Thanksgiving.

5. Four cool kids who ate what we put in front of them, said please and thank you, wore out my dogs, and gave me hugs.

6. David took two days of vacation this week, and I went to work without him. I had no idea work would be so much more boring just by removing my husband. I was itching to get out of there at 3:00...but I got to hang out with him today and yesterday.

7. It's almost Christmas. Christmas. And after that, David's parents come to visit...I'm thankful for families who will spend time, money, and safety to see us. 

8. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to me, the precious blood of Christ that bought me (I Peter 1:24-25). I still don't deserve a drop of it.

9. I have a toilet; three, in fact. I realize how silly that sounds, but November 19th was World Toilet Day. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized how great it is to have one. Not just because I'd have to go outside at 4:30 AM to...(ahem). But "as of 14 October, about a year from the start of the epidemic, Haiti's ministry of health reported 473,649 cases of cholera and 6,631 deaths attributed to it across all 10 of the country's departments." (For the rest of the article, click here.) And I bet there a lot more going unrecorded who never make it to a hospital. But I have a toilet, and that helps more than just me.

10. You. Yes, you. You pray for us and support us, and please believe me when I say that nothing can replace it and nothing could mean more.

Happy Thanksgiving.

14 November 2011

Shameless Plug

Hey, you were warned. This is another shameless plug for SendThemForHim.com, the site that gives to our ministry support when you shop through them.

Does it cost you more money? Nope. Just time. I was curious, actually, so I timed it. Without using my bookmark, it only took me 49.4 seconds to get to Amazon.com through their site. So if you've got 45 seconds, you can help this couple stay in Haiti gratis (that means "free").

How does it work? Well, I'm glad you asked.

Step One: You'll start by opening this link in a new tab or window: http://www.sendthemforhim.com/files/Groups/Harms/MerchantList.html

Step Two: Find the store you're looking for. Click on the category next to it, and scroll down until you find it again. Click on the picture to the left to be taken to the website.

Step Three: Shop!

Step Four: Pay!

Step Five: Actually, there were only four steps. Sorry about that. I got carried away by how easy it was. Send Them For Him will automatically credit the charity percentage back to us. Elementary, my dear shopper.

As you do your Christmas shopping, please keep us in mind! We appreciate anything you can do.

13 November 2011

In which Christine tries to cram a whole weekend into one day

This morning, I did not go to church. My yard guy called me last night to see if we were coming.

O: Are you coming to church tomorrow?
Me: We'll see. I'm not sure yet.
O: I don't like it when you don't come. I want to see you. You didn't come last week.
Me: That's true. But I went to Bible study on Friday.
O: Evangelicals are supposed to go to church. It's good to be together.
Me: That's true, it is. Maybe we'll come.

But we didn't. We slept in, because both worked on Saturday and were exhausted. And now I am bravely attempting to cram an entire weekend into one day, before we must go back to work on Monday.

This morning, I locked the dogs on the porch and broke out our new basketball. "You do realize it's only 7:45 AM, don't you?" David quietly reminded me, as I started dribbling. Really? I'd already had pancakes (a weekend tradition) and answered some e-mails. I stopped to listen. Our neighbors were already up. Life here starts at 5 AM anyway.

Our yard is completely concrete. There are about three places where it's not, as if someone sighed and said, "Well, I guess if it's already growing there, we can't stop it." It's bad for plants, but perfect for basketball. I wanted to play HORSE, but we settled on PIG instead. I stumped him with my "backwards over the head" shot, but he won in the end...but only by one "G." After he beat me, we let the dogs out, to see what their reactions would be. I don't know if you've ever shown a Haitian dog a basketball, but there were two distinct reactions:

1) Gracie couldn't believe her luck. Her "grandparents" had brought this GIANT ball--just for her. She couldn't figure out why I was throwing it up into the air instead of letting her chase it, but oh man, was she ready for it. She practically bounced up and down, ears up, tail wagging, barking, as if to say, "Go ahead, throw it--I don't know how I'm going to get it into my mouth to bring it back to you, but I will find a way."

2) Nessie couldn't believe what horrible people we were. We were throwing things. It almost hit her. Her barks were meant to mean, "How dare you bring that implement of pain and torture into my yard?" When she wasn't barking, she was skulking out of range and acting incensed.

As you may have gathered, there was a lot of barking. When the ball went inside with David, Gracie stared at the back door, willing it to open. She was unsuccessful, and then heard a noise in the street and went tearing around the house to see what it was. At this point, Nessie came over to be petted to make up for the indignity of balls falling near her head. She followed me around as I watered my plants.

Nessie remained in the backyard, sleeping under the stack of black plastic chairs my parents bought me last week. She woke up briefly when I came out to put some laundry in the machine. Whites: pilot shirts, socks, underwear, white cotton shirts. Essentials, people. My goal is two loads. Ambitious, but if we don't get rain, we'll be set for most of the week.

Since then, I am planning a baby shower for a friend. Next on my list is "doing nothing." Otherwise known as "resting." If I don't, I'll be wiped this week. Let's face it: I'll probably be wiped anyway...but a nap never hurt anybody. As soon as the church in the ravine gives it a rest, maybe I'll give it a try. While I sleep, David will probably download "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," and after that, we'll listen to it and snicker while I bake him something delicious.

Ah, weekends. What would we do without them?

06 November 2011

Happy birthday, David Harms

Many of you probably have this picture on your fridge. It's a good one. We're both smiling, and we look very "put-together," like good missionaries should. You probably love it.

Here's the one I love. We were supposed to be seriously trying to take the picture for our prayer card, and here's David, making faces and cracking me up. I wish you could all put this picture on your fridge, because this is the real David, right here. That quiet guy who comes to your meetings and sits in church and flies you around in airplanes? He's just fronting. This is him. Right there.

So here's to my 28-year-old husband...I'm late, but I'm sincere. Thanks for another year of cracking me up when I need it the most. Thanks for loving me so well, even when you don't feel like it. Thanks for your helpfulness, your integrity, your good advice. Thanks for being David Harms...no one else could do it so well. Happy birthday.
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