Village Music 


Meet Damas!

He is a sweet and talented young man living in the Village Merci de Dieu in Haiti. He loves the Lord and has a heart to praise Him. It is very apparent that the Lord is working in him and through him. During the evening hours, you will hear praise music sounding throughout the village. This is because Damas and a few of his friends took it upon themselves to start up a youth group, praising Jesus during the week and twice on Sunday. There are many needs within the village, both physical and spiritual.

The need for deeper knowledge in Christ is not determined by the borders and boundaries of where we live. We are all in desperate need of the hope that comes from the knowledge of who Christ is.

Damas is sharing the love of Christ through his music…music that comes from an old drum, a beat up piece of tin, and an electric keyboard. 


He desires to have drums, 100 watt amp, speakers, and a bass guitar. 

Some of these items could be donated here in the states and taken down on the next trip in November; or it could be way of donating money. If you have a love for music, or knowledge to lend, it would be greatly appreciated.

This would be a great opportunity for your church youth group to come together and raise money for Damas. 

If you would like to help Damas by donating any of these items please let me know or you can donate online noting it “damas music” at

http://www.mercyintl.org/donate/

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A Servant’s Heart


…As tears filled my eyes

I felt guilt

I felt shame

I felt unworthy and overwhelmed.

I could not bring myself to eat the food that was set before me, but knew if I didn’t then I would offend the one who gave so graciously and sacrificially.

Darline Palmer is a beautiful woman, inside and out, living in Merci De Dieu Village. She touched my heart and soul for life…and I’m quite certain God intended it to be that way. I have said before, “we go to Haiti to bless and in return are blessed far greater by the people there.” It was no different this last trip and I know that my husband and step-mom would agree.

Darline has nothing, at least by American standards, and yet opened her home to us so that she could serve us a meal. She said she felt blessed by God and in return wanted to bless us with a meal because that is what God called her to do.

She wanted to bless outwardly what she felt inwardly.

This woman…

A new mom, 10 days post-partum cesarean section, worked all morning pouring herself into making a delicious home- cooked meal for us. As I sat at her table I swallowed hard and breathed deep as tears filled my eyes I felt guilt- I felt shame- I felt unworthy and overwhelmed.

I knew I didn’t need this meal, not in the way that the tiny bodies of her children needed it. I could not bring myself to eat the food she set before us, but also knew if I didn’t eat I would offend her causing her shame and embarrassment.

I questioned myself for a few minutes. I could not bare to waste a single bite, but then wondered if I left most of it untouched would she be able to give it to her children?

She walked around the room with a newborn baby in one arm and a servant’s heart in the other.

What was even more heart-wrenching was the fact that I knew where the money came from that paid for our meal…how she earned it.

I knew that, at 9 months pregnant, she sat hours upon hours in the scorching heat hand embroidering beautiful artwork onto a piece of cloth so that she might be able to provide for her family through the Threads of Blessing program.

I knew the amount of money that sat in the envelope she had received the day before and I understood the amount of money she had just spent on this beautiful meal for us.

I sat and grieved. She gave what, in her words, God called her to give.She gave in the midst of

-not knowing where her next meal would come from

-not knowing if her husband would be able to find work in a city where men and women fight to live- life.

She stepped out in obedience. She stepped out in faith trusting God- that he would provide for her family despite her questions and “what ifs.”  She walked forward in grace extending a heart of thankfulness. She sacrificed for the sake of saying “thank you” because she felt God calling her to pour grace upon us.

As we sat at her table, She told us of her days before and after the earthquake. How her family was forced into one of the many “tent cities.” How she had to sit outside the tent because on most days the temperature inside the tent reached 120. She lost everything.

She shared about God’s faithfulness to her during this time. How she continued to put her hope and trust in the One who would eventually answer her plea with the blessing of moving her into Merci de Dieu Village.

She says she continues to trust God. She continues to put her hope in Him despite the every day circumstances surrounding her. She continues to wait, persevering in prayer, as her husband tries to find a job…to make a living.

I left her house that Sunday afternoon asking myself, “have I ever truly given- Sacrificing for another?

How much more am I called to give…To pour grace into others?”

I have a budget for giving. She gave what she didn’t have to give.

My giving is not sacrificial. My giving is me giving up a luxury- a date night, a meal out to dinner, a pedicure. She gave out of obedience in fullness of trusting in the One who has always provided for her.

I will always be grateful for the kindness she showed, the grace she walked in as her daughter washed our hands after the meal she spent an afternoon preparing for us- She not only served our bodies…she served our hearts forever..

Hope’s Prayers


It’s no secret that Hope is her own person. She does things on her own terms, in her own time. She isn’t as advanced in her vocabulary as Presley was at this age, but she excels in gross motor skills by leaps and bounds from where Presley was. Every evening I say a prayer with Hope that focuses on what we are thankful for. I start off by saying,

“Dear Jesus, thank you for mommy, daddy, Presley, and Hope, and….” …at which point she usually chimes in with “tank you for oranges and bananas, amen.” This evening, for the first time, she extended her list (and her vocabulary) to….

“tank you for doors, and tank you for drawers.  Tank you for Presley. And tank you for Presley’s room, and tank you for Presley’s bed.  And tank you for oranges and chicken. Ummmmm, And mommy room and mommy door. And tank you for Friends. And friends play. Ummmmm tank you for books and butterflies. And tank you for spiders.amen”

Half of these words I didn’t even know she knew!!! An evening I would like to remember 🙂

Why We Forget


Every September 11th I see two little words stamped across social media and my tv screen…”never forget.” It’s highly unlikely that any of us will ever forget what we were doing that day or where we were at. It would be like telling a friend to never forget the passing of their loved one. Many of us use the words “never forget” along with a cluster of photographs or video clips showing the horrors of that day. We do not need to see the images of that day over and over again to remember the magnitude of that dreadful day. I do not need to see pictures of my mom in her last days or visit her grave daily to remember the devastation I felt on the day she died. It’s embedded within me. It’s an experience that shaped my life and who I am. Much like 9/11. I remember having a similar feeling of grief after 9/11 that resembled the feeling of sadness I felt when I found out my mom had terminal cancer. “Never Forget”, but Always Remember”…because there is a lot more to remember than to forget. Always remember…the feelings of despair that brought a nation to its knees,

when racial lines were shattered,

and police officers were seen as Heroes for knowingly sacrificing their lives,

when Congress came together as a united people who stood for the people,

And churches filled with people who once claimed they didn’t need God, but now In their brokenness reached out for hope.

A war was fought by men who watched their beloved land under attack. And A nation rebuilt their lives and built up a broken city under the umbrella of God’s redemptive love.

It is ok to forget the horror and move forward in healing. To look at the photos from that day will bring only a fleeting moment of sadness and terror. It will not change again a nation that has forgotten God in all Its healing. For 9/11 to have been more than just “a day of terror” a changing within the heart of a nation had to of happened. A changing of a heart that says we need the healing of Scripture that claims God as Lord. It’s ok to show pictures of a rebuilt city, a life renewed, a story of bravery that came out of the ashes of that day. God, and only God, can bring redemption to a day of despair. Only God can bring forth beauty from the ashes that engulfed us that day.

15 years ago, after working my way through the grief of losing my mom, I remember writing in my prayer journal… “please don’t let me forget what I’ve learned.” I was deathly afraid of moving forward forgetting what I had learned…having everything be for “not.” Because I wanted to be changed by God and not the event.

The reality is, you do move forward, you do forget, and you do heal. The key is allowing God to change you from the inside out in the midst of your grief and pain; and then moving forward with grace in what you have learned. Sometimes in our healing we drift away from lessons learned during our brokenness. Going back to pictures of that day may bring about a feeling, but it won’t bring about a life change. There’s so much going on in America that crushes the spirit….Christians seen as hateful, police officers seen as murderers, republicans seen as intolerant, democrats seen as liars, children being consumed by the weight of a fallen world. We look to God when we fall as a nation, and then abolish Him once we are standing on our own again. We throw out claims that He’s not good because He’s not seen as present in a world that seems lost. But yet, we aren’t present for Him until we desperately need him. Shame on us America for forgetting what we learned and remembering only the event…the grief that was caught in the images of that day.

The Reality of Hope’s First Day of Pre-K 

  
Im rarely on time…for anything. And waking up early? Forget it! I’ve never been early for anything! I am either right on time or a few minutes late. I don’t think I had this problem before I had children…at least that’s what I like to tell myself. So, you can imagine, I was quite joyful when my personal alarm, Hope, came walking into my room at 6:15 this morning. I actually popped out of bed, felt rested and was ready to start the day. And it had nothing to do with the fact that she was starting school today 🙂 leaving me time to myself for 5 hours! Here’s what getting up early got me…time with my girls, time to get ready while my husband fed the girls, a huge cup of coffee, and time writing in my prayer journal. 

As 8:20 Approached I thought to myself, “I should leave early! It’ll give me an extra 10 minutes to myself today!” So, that’s what I did. I grabbed Hope, put on her shoes and locked her in her car seat. I looked at the clock when I got in the car and patted myself on the back 🙂 “8:23! Hmmm, that’ll put me at her school way too early. That’s ok, I’ll run an errand and stop at Walgreens.” We pulled into Walgreens where I realized I forgot to take her first day of school pictures! Doing it at school would totally throw her off so I thought to myself, “That’s ok, I’ll take them at Walgreens…no one will know.” So…I Sit my child down in front of rock wall… click, click, click… Pat myself on the back for the cute pictures, Walk THROUGH Walgreens and realize everyone is looking at my child? “She must look cute today!” I think. I Get to the register, take out my debit card, pick up my child….”HOPE!!!! WHERE ARE YOUR SHORTS!!?!!?!” At this point, I am really worried about myself… “I know I put shorts on her this morning! She held my hand through the store so I know she didn’t take them off. Did I actually put her in the car without her shorts on?!?” At this time, I look down at my phone and realize that it is 8:33! I check out, run through the parking lot, put Hope in the car, and head home to get her shorts. After all was said and done, I pulled into DKH parking lot at 9:02. Yep! Never early, ALWAYS late!!!! But I wouldn’t trade these days with my sweet Hopers for anything!   

 

The Food that Feeds

 
There is a great need in the village, greater than the food that feeds the body. There is a need for the food that feeds the Spirit, a need for a deeper knowledge of who Christ is. We spoke to the women of the village on 2 separate occasions, calling them to walk in the light of Jesus; reminding them that we are all made in the image of God and He has poured His mercy and grace upon us. We are expected, as women of God, to walk in that grace, extending mercy to those we call sisters in Christ. 
On our last day in Haiti, 40 women gathered in the church with their Bibles, ready to hear the Word of God preached. One of the women in the village, Esther, has been meeting with 3 other women during the week to study God’s Word. Jean helped set this bible study up during her June trip. We were very excited to attend the small bible study of 3 and listen to what Esther and the ladies had to share, but soon realized that the other women were a no show. We decided to reschedule her time for Monday, inviting every woman in the village to attend, and holding the study in the church.  On Monday, After returning from registering the kids at one of the schools, I walked inside the church thrilled to see 40+ women listening to Esther share God’s Word. The women clapped in cheer as Esther closed out the Bible Study. 

During this same time, 15 men sat underneath the Palapa up on the hill, gathering together to study God’s Word with Richard and Damas leading. 

These Bible Studies are things we all envisioned after our January trip. I find it amazing that while we were all discussing together who we thought would be good Godly leaders, 

what biblical curriculum we could use to help lead the villagers to a deeper knowledge of Christ; 

God was already preparing the way, going before us, 

working in the heart of His people….

and the curriculum? well, He already had a curriculum chosen…The Bible.

 I am always reminded that God goes before us preparing the way. Even If you don’t believe in God, if you graciously took a few moments to look back on your life, in all your honesty, you would see His hand of protection in many circumstances surrounding your life. It is undeniable that He goes before us, and He was clearly already at work long before we entered the village. 

There are many immediate needs within the village, and there are many immediate “wants” within the village. Placing value on one or the other is difficult at times. I know we would all love to give out every “need” and every “want” to help the villagers live a life where they aren’t fighting for their daily survival. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting immediate physical needs of the villagers, and immediate spiritual needs of the villagers. I truly believe that God goes before us, working in the heart of His people, preparing the way for the needs of the village. If you decide to donate towards one of the immediate needs in the village, make checks payable to mercy international noting it “immediate needs” or “general fund.” Mercyintl.org

I am also a firm believer in the power of prayer. We need your commitment of prayer for the women of the village. Specifically, that they would walk under the umbrella of God’s grace, knowing that they are a child of the one true king who has called them by name, loves them with an everlasting love, and has drawn them in loving kindness. (Jer. 31:3) We would love your commitment of prayer, specifically every Monday afternoon at 3:15 as the women in Village Merci de Dieu meet with Esther to hear God’s Word.  

My Trip to Merci De Dieu, Haiti-August 2015

As most of you know, we have just returned from our trip to Haiti! It was a wonderful trip filled with God’s mercy and grace. I have a guest blogger today! He was a part of our team and this was his first trip to Haiti. He puts into words what most of us feel, or have felt, upon returning from Haiti. It is the people and their heart for the Lord that we fall in love with; and the reason so many of us return year after year!

Merci de Dieu (Thanks to God) Village Aug. 2015

I have just completed my first of many visits to the Village of Merci de Dieu in Haiti, a project of Mercy International. The Village consists of 63 homes, a church, a clinic, a large gathering area, and a lot of hope and love. I know that written words cannot possibly describe my experience adequately, but I feel compelled to write a few down anyway. There are way too many thoughts and experiences to list, so I’ll attempt a “short” summary.

As a reminder to us all, in January of 2010, a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, killing at least 225,000 people and displacing nearly 2 Million. Far too little has been done to aid in recovery and rebuilding since then. Mercy International is one of several organizations committed to help. It was through Mercy International that I had the opportunity to be a part of this life changing experience.

Several of us met at the airport in Miami to fly to Port-au-Prince together. The drive from the airport to the village did not exactly go as planned. Heavy rains and garbage clogged streets and turned a normal one hour drive into about five hours of mostly stopped, stop and go traffic jam. The streets were lined with severely damaged buildings, mostly dark, as there was still no electricity available; piles of trash that they simply lit on fire when the piles got too large or someone was just in the mood to burn something; and lots of people walking, trying to get somewhere, or nowhere, but wherever they were going, I’m sure that little promise awaited.

When we finally arrived at the Village around 1 A.M., we were warmly greeted and some of the women of the Village had prepared a meal and were waiting for us. We finally retired to our bunk house, anxious for the next day, but looking forward to a few hours of sleep. Actually, we were hoping for a little more than we got.

The Village Church wakes early, as dozens of villagers gather at the church each weekday morning at 4:00 AM!! Sometime around 5:00 they are in full voice and are quite proud and enthusiastic in their singing, it is very loud. The language in Haiti is primarily a Creole French, so of course I couldn’t understand a word they were singing. That’s not exactly true, “Hallelujah” sounds the same and means the same, probably in every language. It was also easy to recognize the sound of joy, hope, and faith. I miss waking up to that sound now that I’m back in the states.

Over 200 beautiful, smiling children live in the Village. Everywhere we went, several young children wanted to hold our hands or ride on our shoulders. The more we walked through the Village, the more kids started following our little group. It was like the Pied Piper. Anytime that we sat down, there were 3 or 4 kids sitting on our laps, or hanging on us. They loved looking at all the pictures on our iPhones. These kids have so little, yet always seem to remain positive, always smiling. Sometimes, a drink of water that doesn’t smell, or a little extra to eat, really is all it takes to make their day. We were blessed to have the opportunity to provide a little extra love and attention for the kids, it really seemed to make a big difference.

One of our projects for this trip was to build bunk beds for some of the Village families that don’t have enough places for everyone to sleep. Have you ever had to sleep on a cement floor? One might ask, were you sober. Imagine only having a slab of concrete to lay your tired warn out body on night after night. These families are grateful for a floor, four walls, and a solid roof, not to mention running water. A bed… well, that is just a bonus. Some of the boys in the Village helped us with our bed building, taking great pride in the chance to help. I had a couple pairs of leather work gloves that I used throughout the day and when we were done I gave them to a few of the young men to keep as their own. One of the boys wore them around the rest of the day, even though we were done working. He was so happy and proud to have them.

Many of the Village families lived in tent cities following the earthquake (hundreds of thousands more still do), for two or three years, or longer. Imagine living in a tent smaller than some of our walk-in closets, and being in that tent for three years. A tent that you had to leave when the sun came up and couldn’t return until the sun went down. As the sun rises, so does the temperature inside the tents, reaching 120 degrees or higher. When it rains? Well….

How does one survive living in those conditions? For some it involves taking whatever you can steal from whomever you can. Fortunately, for many, it involves prayer and faith in our Lord. Merci de Dieu is an answer to many of those prayers. All of the sixty-three homes, have 2 small bedrooms, running water, and a flushing toilet, and have been built to provide a respectful and loving alternative for some very fortunate, and grateful families. One family that we got to visit with, an educated man with a wife and three young children, had a good job and nice house until the earthquake. They shared with us that they lost everything, but the clothes on their backs and lived in a tent city for 2 ½ years. Somehow they maintained their faith, strength, and self-respect. When we met him, he was dressed in a long sleeve dress shirt and dress slacks (I understand this is his daily routine), while we were all soaked with sweat. It seems to me that no matter what obstacles or hardships have been forced upon him, he refuses to let those determine how he sees himself, and present himself. Now residents of Merci de Dieu, he found that many of the other adult residents still could not read or write. Unasked, and unknown to the management of the Village, he took it upon himself to teach them for free. He is now working with seventeen adults, teaching them to read and write. He does a lot to help the Village and typically refuses payment, stating that the Village has done so much to help his family so he wants to give back. I understand that soon, he will begin serving as the teacher in a new Village school. Currently, many of the kids proudly put on their school uniforms and walk 3 or 4 miles to school every day. They are proud that they are going to school. There are many other heartwarming stories involving other residents. It’s really hard to try to keep this writing short!!

One of our group members leads the Threads of Blessing program in Haiti. This involves helping the women (and one man so far) of the Village learn needle work to create beautiful works of art that are sold stateside and can be framed or made into pillows. All the money goes back to the women who created the art piece. We had the opportunity to attend the meeting when they received envelopes containing their money. For several ladies, the envelopes contained well over $100. This is just the beginning. They were so excited and proud, and do all for the Glory of God. They are also learning a skill that may become a sustainable source of income. Considering that unemployment in Haiti is approximately 85%, and the average monthly income is under $100, the sales of these needle work pieces can make a huge difference.

We packed our bags with used clothing and new toys to give to the kids (primarily the little ones) and passed them out Saturday afternoon. They were thrilled, and it was a really rewarding experience for all of us. Another thing that we noticed, is that whatever clothing they have that is nice, they wear all the time. Their appearance is very important to them.

We were reminded that it does not take a lot of “stuff” to be happy. These people have so little, yet remain positive and certainly seem happy. They are certainly thankful that their lives are so much better than when they had to survive in a tent. When I compare their attitudes to, what seems to me, the attitude of many (I know, not all) of the poor in the US, I see very little similarities. Even when I compare their attitude to the attitudes of many of us who don’t have to live in poverty, I see little or no comparison. I think that Faith plays a big part in their attitude. I think that there is recognition (consciously or not), that they have been blessed, and the Lord has provided most of what they NEED in order to survive and be happy. There is little time or reason to worry about things that they might WANT and don’t yet have. I think that many of us, including our children and grandchildren, could learn from this. There is a common and recurring them throughout the Village… Faith, Hope, Love, and Appreciation. Those aren’t the first four words I choose to describe the community that I live in, how about you?

This was my first mission trip to anywhere, but it will not be my last. I look forward to returning to Merci de Dieu, and doing more to help, both while I’m there as well as when I’m not. There is always a great need for sponsorship of families or children. I hope that if you have read this, you will also consider helping some of these beautiful people.

Thank you.

Greg

Sweet Hopers is 3


Every day brings a battle of the wills with my sweet Hope. She can wrap me in her hugs, kisses, and high fives, and turn a bad day good. But she can also bring a moment filled with peace and turn it into the most exhausting task filled day. I don’t think I understood the fullness of motherhood and all its daunting days until she graced us with her presence. It is difficult at times and just plain hard work. There is a battle raging within her daily to be the most and do the most. She loves to swim and knows she can’t, but will carry on in a pool as if she does. They say a child is born with the flight or fight instinct. Hope is definitely one who has the instinct of fight in her. She can get herself out of almost any situation, and she usually holds it together through persistent effort. She enjoys life and has a heart to love others. She cares for them deeply and gives a grace filled hi to almost anyone. She is definitely one who has never met a stranger. Her outgoing attitude lends her to be a leader…she will lead a flock to good behavior or bad decisions, depending on her mood. I have seen her walk into a room with such bold statements and capture the hearts of those around her in minutes. She is a remembered soul…whether it’s for good reasons or bad ones.

She loves her sister and looks up to her… wants to be just like her. Presley adores her and I’m beyond thankful for the sweet, rule following heart she has because I imagine that when it comes time for the teenage years she will be the one that has more of an impact on Hope than we, as her parents, ever will. Presley will be Hope’s common sense, and Hope will bring a little bit of rebellion into Presley’s life.

I can not explain the amount of joy living in Hope’s heart. She is the type of person we all strive to be, happy. She leaves us questioning, “was she born happy or does she make a daily choice to be joyful”? She wears her heart on her sleeve and her emotions run free. She has a look of fire that makes one wonder, “what did I ever do to her”?

When I think back to a few years ago, before she was here, and the amount of indecisiveness that plagued me. I’m amazed at God’s leading….how no matter where I turned, God placed in me a yearning and tugging in my heart that there was a little girl, yet to be born, who was meant to be a part of us. It was a difficult time. And the days of toddlerhood can still be difficult at times, but the joy she pours out into life outweighs all of the “hard.”

I envy her heart. I envy the love she has for others, her strong independent personality and even her stubborn, strong-willed mind. I have heard people tell me, “parent her right, and she is going to do something great!” I’m pretty sure God already has that one figured out 🙂 and I am confident that she will follow His leading.

She is confident and challenging, lovable and exhausting, driven and stubborn, dependent yet independent… She is a constant release of hope and that is why she is our sweet Hopers!

What to Say to Those that Grieve

  

Right outside our bedroom window sits a recycling bin that has just been engulfed by years of memories…pictures, letters, cards, and photos. One bin holds a thousand memories of past pain, joy, and hope.

 The picture above brings about such mixed feelings for me. I have the tendency to harbor memories. I love memories. I love history. I love the lessons taught, the lessons learned, the joy captured in a fleeting moment. However, when you spend more time revisiting old memories rather than making new ones…well, then it becomes a problem. Memories are meant to be shared, and meant to be kept hidden in our hearts. Finding out who to share those memories with, and relive those memories with can be a wonder. 

I opened the card sitting atop the pile of memories and read a painful line of words that brought back a flood of emotions I had once forgotten. I attached to those emotions…pain. Memories of a difficult time when no one had the “right” words to say so they said nothing at all. A time when God’s goodness stood in darkness, and His will was questioned by many…not just me. My mom’s death affected the lives of many. I don’t think I really ever understood or grasped the reality of that until the moment I looked at this mountain of letters and cards from dear friends…and not so dear. We were all left speechless by the outcome of losing a woman who shared her smile and love for Jesus with the world. Friends who wrote and openly admitted, “I don’t know what to say, but I pray! I pray hard… for you, your family.” In a world where we feel like we always have to have something to say, always an opinion, always a political view, sometimes silence is best. Sometimes silence heals more than a word. It is in our silence that God tells us, “sometimes we know not what we ought to pray for and so He intercedes for us on our behalf.” Romans 8:26-27. We might make notions about what should have been said, what should have been done in every circumstance that seems unfair. But sometimes those notions are brought about by pride. A pride that says our opinion should be heard in every chaotic circumstance of pain and unfairness. 

It is ok to say “I’m speechless.” It’s ok to say nothing at all in the midst of the grief stricken. It’s ok to say nothing, but rather close your eyes in prayer and sit in silence with those that hurt and are overwhelmed. You need not say you’re sorry, or apologize for your lack of words. 

There are no words that can bring healing in a time of grief. There’s only One who brings comfort to a broken heart. There’s only One who heals in the midst of the grief that comes with loss. Words are not needed, prayers are. Words do not need to be shared, tears do. Sit in silence and share your prayers in the presence of those that have lost and grieve….and persevere in those prayers because the hardest days are not the ones in the beginning, but rather the months and years after. The loneliness that spills out of every corner of your being the moment you’re left alone to “do” life again while the world around you continues on as normal is the hardest part for those that have lost…at least for me it was. Your acknowledgement that it must be hard ~still~ because time doesn’t heal, God does, will mean more to the person than the words of “I’m sorry” you’ve spoken in the past. Show up in their lives months down the road, bend a knee, and persevere in prayer for those that hurt. This is what you can do for the hurting and grief stricken.

The Difference of One

locked doors

2-18-15 ….I love how God weaves His will through the lives of many…connecting our stories together for His glory. What a gracious God we serve to allow us to experience His goodness, taste His grace, and see His glory. What an absolute joy to witness this in the day to day events of Mercyintl.org

God used the death of One man to begin a rippling effect in Mercy international. I know that so many stories could come from Dr. Leininger and his family on how God has moved and worked in the lives of those living in Haiti for decades. I am blown away every time I hear a story about God working in Haiti and through Haiti. I’ve heard countless stories of His goodness in this forgotten nation since my little sister and my dad took their first mission trip in 1995. Proof that the Lord goes before us preparing our hearts for His way.

 On September 23, 2013 we received the heartbreaking news that my Grandpa Axtell passed away. In his passing, he left my dad an allotted amount of money to be given to a charity or a cause of my dad’s liking. My dad talked with his good friend, founder of Mercy International, Dr. John Leininger and through their conversation felt lead to donate his father’s givings to Mercy International. The donation was used to pull a widow and her children from a wretched tent city and bring them to live in Village Merci’ De Dieu in Gressier, Haiti. It is here that Mary Marth and her children received the keys to their very own 3 room house. A house that, to the American eye, doesn’t look like much of a home at all…but to her, is everything!

It is in this home that she is able to rest under the wings of God’s protection and she is grateful. She gives thanks to God because she has a shelter, although empty, that she can call her very own. It brings her protection from the wind and rain. It brings her a night filled with peace rather than robbery and rape. She sleeps easy on the concrete floors of her new home because she knows her innocence is left untouched for the evening. When you ask the women in the village what they are most thankful for they simply answer, “a door that locks.”

One man’s gift allowed for the peace and comfort of one widow and her children.

Axtell-House#47

We might ask…

Is my money being used wisely if I give?

Does it really make a difference?

Can it really change a nation?

I don’t know if it will change a nation, but I know it changes the life of ONE….and isn’t that enough sometimes? God used One man to change a world, He can certainly use your dollar to change a life.

When my grandfather felt lead to give money to my dad he was answering a call, answering a tugging in his heart. God allows for such healing to occur in the grief stricken because He is good. He is merciful and gracious. And when my dad felt lead to donate his father’s gift to Mercy International he was answering a tugging of the heart where God opened the mightiest of doors to weave His will. Here began my family’s heart for Mercy International Village, Merci de Dieu. Thanks be to God.

Thanks be to God for his abundance of love, mercy, grace and goodness. He has done more than I could have ever imagined. I wanted Joey to get a new perspective- to give back that which God has given us and blessed us with; and in return He did abundantly more than I could have ever imagined… not just in my husband, his life, and in his heart, but in the hearts of those surrounding us. I have seen others answer a calling, a tugging of the heart, by opening their pockets and giving to a charity they know very little about. We are beyond thankful for your dollars, and the people of the village are grateful. They are grateful every time they…

-lock a front door

-fill a bottle with water

-make a 2 mile walk to school

-turn on a solar light during the evening hours rather than sit in complete darkness

-open a Bible to read to their children

-grab a bowl of rice and beans instead of going hungry for yet another day

-take their child to the village doctor rather than suffering at the hands of a voo doo doctor

-pick up a thread and needle to weave a pattern onto a piece of cloth so that they can provide for their family

-lay their head on a bunk bed rather than the concrete they walk on

They are thankful….We are thankful.

And it’s from here, your giving, that begins a beautiful story of God weaving His will through the lives and circumstances of others. When you listen to the Lord’s calling and moving- He works beautifully displaying His power. He does it in such a way that you have no choice but to believe! Believe in His goodness, faithfulness, and power. You fall to your knees knowing He has moved and He Is Real. He is who He says He is. Those looking on the outside can make accusations and predictions to what has happened or why they think it has occurred. Those who don’t believe will turn their noses up and try to discourage God’s doing –diminishing Him in the presence of themselves equating it to

“pointless”

“wasted money”

“meaningless in the grand scheme of things.”

However, those who walk in the light, those who have walked through the rows of houses lining this village know every story written, every circumstance unfolding, every prayer that was prayed, every sweat that fell from the work put into each visit, every hope, every surrendering of selfishness and pride that God used for his glory to shed light on who He is. He does abundantly more so that we might know it is Him-all Him. Nothing left to our pettiness or anything we did. He controls all, is all and does all for His glory. I assure you that the money we have given has not changed the comfort of which we live daily but it has surely changed our hearts. It broke open a sea of gratitude for the things we have, for the people who are so willing to donate to the needs of this sweet village. Thank you for being that ONE who has given so generously and has impacted the life of a village who is forever grateful to you!