Monday, August 04, 2008

Outback was Outstanding!

Our first team after returning to Haiti has come and gone. It was "Outstanding", as the team leader would say. We had a wonderful time out in Les Irois Haiti.

This team was what Harper E Free Church called a "rogue team", because it was planned outside of their regular sister church visits. The team members consisted of 5 married couples and the main project was a marriage seminar. Other events were done like a HFK's meeting, a youth meeting and a Ladies Tea.

We also walked 2 miles up the mountain to visit a satellite church in Jorge, but the main focus of the trip was the marriage seminar. When Billy and I visited Harper church in Washington state back in March of this year, we were not sure how this kind of seminar would go in Haiti as we had not handled this kind of project before. We have done leadership seminars, youth seminars, ladies seminars, but the marriage seminar was new for us. We were concerned about many different things but our main concern was that the teaching be fruitful and with the cultural differences, we just didn't know if that was possible. We were also a little concerned as to what it might "stir up" in the marriages of the leadership at Les Irois church and the surrounding satellite churches. We didn't know if they would be open with us or receive the teaching well. There was some concern that they wouldn't openly share their struggles especially with their spouses sitting in the same room with them. Well, God knew what He was doing when he put this team together. It was an amazing time. Pastor John Edgecomb, of Harper E Free Church did an outstanding job of putting together material for the marriage seminar. Billy and I worked together to tweek it to meet the culture here. Benjamin (our head translator) was instrumental in translating the material where it could be understood culturally and yet not lose any of the value in it. And God showed up! Doesn't He always! Sometimes I wonder why we doubt HIM! If we just take the steps He will direct our paths and that is what this team did. We worked together to make sure that all bases were covered as best as they could be and then we prayed and turned it over to Father God.

The first day of the seminar went very well. Pastor John gave his teaching and then we broke up into small groups. We wanted to separate the men and women and see if they would open up to us about some of their struggles. Our team of Americans began by sharing some of the struggles they have in their marriages hoping to set the example. I just about fell off my chair when these Haitian men & women started opening up. They shared their struggles and were very open about wanting to work to find solutions. I was just amazed at how God worked in them. They were open to trying to work on their own behavior instead of trying to change their husbands or wives. What was even more amazing that first day was that the men's group talked longer than the women's group. They say that women have 10,000 words per day and men only have 2,500, well that was not the case during this particular session.
On the 2nd day of the seminar, the direction we were going was changed by a question that was asked by one of the Haitian pastors. Pastor John Edgecomb felt led to "go with it", so as a team that is what we did. The question was, "what do you do when one of you feel called to ministry and the other one does not?". Pastor John looked at Billy and I and asked us if we would be willing to share our testimony about how we were called into full time ministry. We shared with the whole group how we struggled with one being called and the other not and how God changed my heart after a season of prayer. Amazingly, one of the other couples on the US team had a similar testimony with a very different outcome, one that took them out of full time ministry in the church. They shared their testimony right after ours. Both testimonies being shared back to back like that gave the Leadership two great examples of how God works differently in our lives and what He might be calling one couple to do, might not be what His desire is for the other couple. These examples are just a couple of the ways that God worked in the lives of these people during this seminar. The church at Les Irois is excited to take this teaching to the leadership and others in their church congregations.
At the end of the 2nd day of seminars, every couple present, Americans and Haitians renewed our wedding vows. We started with Pastor John Edgecomb leading the renewing of vows between the Pastor of the Les Irois Church and then he in turn lead Pastor John and his wife Cyndee in the renewing of their vows. After they were done, then the rest of us couples did a group renewing of our vows with the American pastor saying them in English and the Haitian pastor saying them in Creole. I don't believe the Haitians had ever seen anything like this before, at least not at this particular church. It was awesome to see and everyone celebrated with wedding cake after the last kiss. I have to say that our staff were tickled at Billy and I renewing our vows. They whooped and hollered and were teasing us about our kiss.

As a special bonus for the Haitian church, the US church came with 10 beautiful wedding dresses for the church to loan to couples when they get married. This is very important to the Haitian people. They want to be dressed beautifully for this most important day!

The team had a couple of days to decompress both at Zanglais at the Retreat Center and here at the Mission Center before leaving early Friday morning. Our family got up together and accompanied them to the airport. Yes all 4 of us got up at 5am. There were lots of tears as we said our goodbyes and the Harper team got on the plane. They have since arrived home safely and are sharing the stories of how their trip went with family and friends.
Pastor John Edgecomb shared with Billy and I how special it was for us to be a part of the team and even told us that they considered the rogue team 2008 to be 6 couples not 5, as it had originally started out. It touched our hearts to get so connected to not only our American team but also the Haitian people in Les Irois. This was a great homecoming for us and an Outstanding trip.

Debbie Moses

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