Friday, April 13, 2012

The gospel and love translate without words.

Nana is  avèk ou always. Jezi is avèk ou always.
In the three years that my heart has been turned toward the island of Hispaniola I have longed to communicate with the population of the Haitian people whom my daughter lives and works with. I have studied with lisening to CDs in the car and repeating after the speaker pharses like "Would you like beer or wine?" and "No, I don't want to go to your house I want to go to the hotel." I have practiced reading and speaking the Haitian language of Creole using the online tutorial at and last winter when visiting Gwenn and Nick I hired a Haitian tutor to work with me every night after the children went to bed. In the afternoons they would help me with my homework and laugh at how badly I butchered their native tounge.
I learned the important things like : "Childen, come." , "Children, eat." and my personal favorite "Settle down" which is something like "poze". I used this a lot at meal time when the children's voices would echo off the walls and I would tell the children "Poze! You are hurting Nana's ears. They would laugh and tone it down a notch for a minute or two.
As I am learing more creole the children are learning more English. So we are meeting somewhere in the middle. Except for Manita.

Manita, the youngest girl in my daugther's home is a spunky little spit fire. She will run up to me rambleing full speed as if by some magic I would not have the same response I had ten minutes earlier: "Nana pa konprann kreyòl." (Nana does not understand Creole). She continues to ramble and then will finally get Nia to tell Nana what she is trying to communicate. She will climb up on my lap to have me read her a story (in English) and we study the pictures together and share the names of the objects with each other. I have told people I love them when I meant to say "What is your name?" No harm done ...right..?
I have connected at different levels with each of the Haitian children whom I consider my grandchildren. Some seem to have no doubt I am part and parcel of this whole 'family' thing. All of them know that when Nanny comes there is likely to be some surprises in her overstuffed bags. And I am thankful for each of these precious children in my life.
Everyone knows it is not right to have 'favorites'. I really don't favor one more than the others..but there is one whom I have a special bond with. I don't understand it very well but I think it has something to do with my brother.
Digger had a tough childhood. When my father left he felt rejected and abandoned. It made him angry and bitter and tough. And fiercely loyal and protective toward my sister and me. He was sometimes mean as a hornet. But I knew that I knew that I knew that he was there for me. If he caught you smoking a cigarette he might put it out on your stomach ..but he did have to make you not want to smoke. Reasonable actually. But back to Haiti...
The first time I met Yves was on my first visit after the earthquake. He was twice orphaned and living in a refugee camp alone before he came into my daugthter's home. He was angry and bitter and mean. But..when I would be struggling to get up in the back of the truck he would be the one to hold out his hand to help me up. He would pat the seat beside him and say "Nana" and get angry if anyone else tried to take that spot. But he totally won me over the morning that I was preparing to leave to come back to the US.  We had a long ride over the mountains to the airport. Our ride was leaving at 4 AM. As I rounded the stairwell there sat Yves. Sitting and waiting. Waiting to say goodbye. I was beyond honored. I was back with my brother and I wanted more than anything to be able to communicate freely with this young man.
As fate would have it and God would allow I went 14 months between my last to visits to Haiti. A lot of growning happens in 14 months. Especially when children who were once under nourished and living on the streets are now living with three meals a day and sleeping in a bead. Many of the children were maturing and becoming teens. Voices changing, taller, stronger...growing up. Yves while growing up on the outside was still struggling on the inside. His behaviour caused many problems in the home and full time staff was hired to 'look after' him. He isolated himself from his family and his peers by him angry outbursts. He needed to become responsible for his destructive behaviour.
When I arrived in Haiti last month the bond I had with Yves continued. He wanted to please me all the time. He would jump to carry things for me and anticipate my needs and rush to meet them. He wanted to work by my side and was eager to learn whatever I would teach him.

The next day when I had to say good bye to him was agony. I wanted so much to say so much...  I told him that God understands. I asked him if he missed his family. He started to cry. I asked "Do you remember your mother's name?" He said "Yes". He told me the names of his mother, father, sister and brother. And he continued to cry. And I cried with him. I put one of my hands on my own heart and one hand on his and told him "Nana is avèk ou always" ( Nana is with you always) and then the hand that was on my heart I extended to heaven and said "Jezi is avèk ou always" (Jesus is with you always.) As our tears ran down our cheeks the other curious children began to huddle around whispering about the fact that Yves was crying. And then with a motion from the front gate his ride was ready to go. He said " I have to go now." We hugged and he turned and left.
Having worked in youth ministry for many years I knew there was so much left to say and I felt like I had failed him. For all my practicing and parroting my words were just not enough.
Re-entry was a  little harder this time for there was so much more I wanted to do. It was a great trip on so many levels. But coming to church that first Wed night I was still feeling such a burden for Yves. I asked Pastor Rob, who had been a troubled youth himself if he would pray with me. The power of the Spirt of God was palatable. He prayed against the powers of darkness that held him. He prayed for his mind, body and spirit. He prayed that the power of God would fall on him and he would be delivered... and he prayed..and then he prayed some more.
The following night as bible study I asked for prayer again not willing to stop praying until an answer came. And we prayed.
The next day Gwenn wrote me a simple email. "Great news!" was in the subject line. The night before Yves had gone with the family to a revival meeting at one of the camps. He asked Christ into his heart. I read the email through sobs. I messaged Pastor Robb and the Brandi who leads the Bible Study with her husband. God's faithful hand was so powerful.
I do believe that God used me to plant seeds in Yves heart.My faltering words did not matter.My words were not important.  The grandmother  seed that says "I am with you." The seed that says "Even if you are a jerk I love you. " The seed that says "You can." That was what God trusted me to give. I believe God used Pastor Robb. I believe He used the Bible Study group. I believe the prayer of agreement broke down strong holds that needed to come down. But more than all of these I believe that God placed Yves with Gwenn and Nick so that he could be re parented and come to understand 'family'. God knew that Yves would come to know Him. He also knew that the road to healing and wholeness would not be accomplished with one trip to the alter. Each day Yves will have to wake up and decide this day whom he will serve. So glad he has a family to help him to make good choices.
Tomorrow Yves will get baptized. Nia will be baptized as well. Two very different stories. One never changing God A God who is not a respecter of  language. His gospel is not understood with words.For He speaks to the heart. And  now ...the story begins.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Nothing but the Blood of Jesus

Today is in the tradition of the Christian church known as Maundy Thursday. It is a day of remembrance. It is the day when we think about the words of our Messiah as He broke bread and  had fellowship with His closest followers. His closest friends. He knew as He knelled in front of Judas to wash his feet that within hours this same man would offer to Him the 'kiss of death'.
As a woman who is facing the birth of her child He knew that no one else could do this for Him. He knew the only way through it was to go through it. Unlike the woman in labor He would not cradle a precious babe and be able to forget the pain as "water gone by". There would not be encourages around Him. Only mockers. And when He cried out to the only One who truly understood His pain that One would turn His back and forsake Him. The Father God. The only Son.
Last night at Source church Pastor Frank was not there so Pastor Robb brought the Word to us. He spoke of the blood. Life is in the blood. Without blood there is no life. He spoke of the Cross. The life giving blood.
I have pictured myself at that scene. I like to think that I am brave enough to stand at the foot of the cross with Mary the mother and the 'other' Mary. I like to think that I am loyal and that I would not have left Him. I see his blood on the His head, His hands, His feet...the cross, the ground and yes even on me for to be this close it surly would have smeared my cheeks.
I think back to the death of my father. He died of cancer. I was not with him for the long months of his illness but was there for his last days. He coughed and with the cough came blood and it stained my shirt. It was precious. It was intimate. It was not gross or ugly. I was close enough...
But in the end Jesus was alone.
As Pastor Robb spoke of Jesus on the cross he spoke of Him crying out to the Father. At the moment he spoke the word "Father" a baby who was seated right behind me at the exact moment said "DaDa". In the moment all of the divinity that is Jesus on the cross collided with all the humanity of the baby in Bethlemhem. His cry on the cross was not to some far away theoligical diety. His cry was "Abba, Daddy!" and His Father turned His back as the life blood left His body. As He breathed His last and died.
Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Thank you Jesus for your blood that covers me.