Tuesday, July 26, 2011

In The Village

Good Morning everyone! Dios los bendigal!

Well for the past few weeks Laura and I have been working alongside another Ministry in a small Haitian village located near Puerto Plata, the main city on the North Coast of the D.R.  I call it a Haitian village as most of the inhabitants are migrant Haitian workers who came to the D.R.  years ago to work in the cane fields of the D.R.  Many of these people are here in the D.R. illegally but choose to stay here because even as poor as they are here things are much worse back in Haiti.  Many of you have heard the term, "Stuck between a rock and a hard place?"  This is the situation here...I will explain.  These migrant workers have been coming to this country to work in the cane fields as the land owners needed the cheap labour.  Economics:  The average Dominican earns about 8000 pesos per month minimum wage...about $200 Canadian Dollars.  There is no base rate for Haitians in the D.R. unless they have a working VISA to be here, then they qualify for the minimum wage.  The illegal Haitians can earn about 100 pesos per day of hard work or about $2.50 per day...more than double what they could earn if they had a job in Haiti.  See the problem yet?  About 20 years ago the world began to cultivate and produce another product that has virtually decimated the cane sugar production in most of the third world...anyone know?  Sugar beets.  In 2001 the Dominican Republic produced over 100,000 tons of sugar for use and export, which created thousands of dollars of revenue for the country and thousands of jobs.  Enter sugar beets...today there is virtually no production of cane, only one area in the country still harvests cane sugar...and they use it to produce a private label of Rum.  No sugar is exported today, no jobs are available for thousands of illegal migrant workers that have lived in this country at the will of the Dominican Landlords that cannot sell their crops.  Not our problem?  I beg to differ...the inhumanity of humanity is so prevalent on this island that it leaves a feeling of utter despair when you walk around one of these villages located within an overgrown and unproductive cane field...there are hundreds of these villages all over the island.  These people have little to no idea what has happened to their jobs and are left to fend for themselves, trying to scrape out a living doing anything.  Which ends up being less than what they deserve.  So who is to blame for all of this mess that now consumes the lives of thousands of people?  Including the already overburdened economy of the D.R.  Oh maybe there is no one to blame, maybe these people did this to themselves...maybe they should have stayed put in Haiti, even after generation after generation of people continued to suffer under gross persecution by their own government?  Maybe we should blame the Dominican Landlords, who brought many of these hopeful migrant workers to the country and offered them a better way of life through jobs harvesting cane for suger...who ultimately could not foresee the end of their own commodity because the world developed a better, cheaper product?   Maybe we should then blame our own country and other countries who produce massive stockpiles of sugar beets that drive the price of sugar so low that cane production becomes worthless...even with labour at less than $3.00 per day per person?  No I don't think you can blame any market economy that demands competition on a global scale, I do believe that this market product...namely sugar cane...can be valuable to a world economic climate.  This will likely involve a restructure of the production environment here and in many cane producing countries to evolve an industry into biofuel production.  A product in high demand and one that creates many jobs and huge revenue streams for the producing countries.  But these changes take time, time in research, time in investment, time in construction and then time in building a new commodity which the world must migrate to...over time.  In the meantime, thousands of hopeful people who have committed lives to one industry are now stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Make sense now?  There is an end in sight, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  How long must they continue to endure and require the assistance of Mission Groups like us and others to keep these people alive!  As long as it takes!  There is no choice for these people so while they wait we will continue to provide as much as they need to live, medical aid, clothing, food programs, life skills training, evangelizing and many other programs beneficial to survival.
This short "rant" that I have released upon you is designed to  make you aware of what we are seeing; this is the face of humanity right here in the Dominican Republic, in a small village, in the middle of a dead sugar cane field with nowhere to turn to and nowhere to go.  What most of you see is the face of InHumanity in your world, far away from humanity, the real humanity of this world.  God does not want us to hide from all of the other problems we might be aware of, rather He wants us to be involved in whatever capacity we can.  If you can then you must help.  Last week we counselled with another Missionary who assisted in the protecting of two brand new orphans whose young mother had just passed away from some illness.  They are 7 and 8 years old and the older is mentally handicapped...the 7 year old had been caring for mother and sister for many days alone while she watched her mother dying and never knew what was happening.  The family has been on a food bag sponsor program for some time now and the other villagers brought the death of the mother to the attention of the Missionaries.  Since then the girls were removed from the village for safety, as they might become victimized, and an uncle was located nearby.  Please pray for these two and others in this family as this tragedy is far from over, these children have yet to be raised.
Last month we also learned of another woman who was pregnant with quadruplets.  She gave birth on Saturday to two boys and two girls...at 7 months of term; all of the babies lived for a few hours...long enough to pray over them...none of the babies survived.  A challenge even in the first world...in the third world, almost impossible.
Again, I tell you these things not to express the tragedy of a cruel world, but rather to show you the inhumanity we all live in within the world man has created.  For it is undoubtedly tragic that humanity should watch or ignore the inhumanity of human suffering.  These tragedies will undoubtedly continue...Jesus told us that
"For you have the poor with you always..." Matt 26:11 and Paul encouraged us later "they desired only that we should remember the poor..." Gal 2:10
Give where you can, give where you find yourself, for there is where your ministry lies.  If you feel compelled to help in any way please contact us by email.  A fundraising newsletter is forthcoming.

I am the voice of a people who weep in the night.  Hear our prayers.

Bless you all
Thank you for your continued prayers

Friday, July 1, 2011

Although we believe that God has sent us here to operate a mission guest house, this is not the only task. The call is there and we are waiting patiently for His lead. It’s like a pie graph to me. 75% of the pie is all one color. The guest house is first, foremost, and what God has trained us to do. As easy as pie…so to speak. The talent has been given and waits to flourish. Mike and I are so ready to “get on with it”. But for some reason God has emphatically, in many words, over in abundance, LOUDLY and demanding almost said "REST".
"But we're not tired" we pray in protest.
"Rest and wait" are the orders. OK. Fine.
Month One: Many miles walking on the beach in prayer and worship. Some guilt arises for we feel the waste of time. The Proverbial Scriptures come to mind about laziness, non-prosper, sleeping, slumber, not eating, start plaguing us from the enemy. But our God knows us better than that. But still, "Be still."
Month Two: Lets try to move ahead on a purchase of "something" at least. Sure we found "something", of course, but is it His will? Not quite. "ARGH! What are we doing here when we are doing nothing?"
What we didn't see was the relationships we were building with the mission groups. Didn't see that the communion with His body was with love, grace. A shoulder here, an ear there, words of encouragment and advise...just "hangin" with them.
"OK, Lord you have a point. We need to get to know them as brother's and sister's in Christ and they need to know we will be there for them. How could we possibly think we are a "Missionary Service" if we didn't know what "service" to perform?"
Month Three: Spanish Lessons...getting to know our surroundings, couple of road trips exploring.
"See the People. Who are they? What makes them tick?" comes to us.
Our prayers changed from, "God show us what to do with getting this plan on the ground" to "What can we do to help others?" So we tagged along with some mission groups. A feeding program here, painting schools and clinics there...painting, painting. And you guessed it, more painting. Then the phone started to ring. "We could use your help." We consulted our filled up day timer...yeah right!
We're involved with church planting (Spanish and English). We've helped run 2 medical clinics in two villages for a few weeks while the Mission couple went back to the US to rest and take care of elderly family. We will be keeping a feeding program afloat while that other couple go home to Canada on furlough. We've been building a relationship with one young man who graduated from High School and we are currently helping him to qualify for a scholarship to go to University. The scholarships are available through another Mission group in the area. I guess just doing what God drops on your doorstep is all you really have to do to make a missions life matter. I'm reminded of some lyrics from an older Amy Grant song: "All I ever have to be is what You made me, any more or less would be a step out of Your Plan. As you daily recreate me help me always keep in mind, that I only have to do what I can find."
Do you remember the pie graph? We have 75% taken care of with His provision and the talent He gave us. But what about the extra 25% of the pie? What is this allotted too? How about learning the mission field itself. What the missionaries go through everyday. Who they pour out God's love to without restriction. Learning how to service these same missionaries according to what battlefield they were on as they eat their dinner and share their testamonies of the day. To know exactly what they went through and how to respond to them with dessert, love and actual true empathy after their hard day. 
We could've never began to learn this being on a building site all day watching the guest house evolve. We would've never gotten to know the heart of these devoted people or the ones whom they serve. We would've been caught up with a house, finances and business related issues to ever give a second thought to the actual humanity of it all. Utterly useless as we serve their coffee after dinner to really understand what they've just been through.
Yes, 75% is taken care of. But right now, God is more concerned with the 25%. In our seeing, learning and understanding completely the people we are here to serve. God knows we will have success when He releases the guest house. Understanding, empathy, compassion, love. This is not business, its humanity. Learning the new talents God is teaching us.
Be blessed and thanks for listening. Laura