Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 3

Aloha from Haiti,

Base camp and the church site are buttoned down and as ready as can be for the coming storm. The tent city that was close by us was moved a month or so ago so those people are not in the danger they were here. But there are still well over 1,000,000 completely exposed to the weather and with little options for places to go for protection. 

Please pray for the safety of the people of Haiti. Current predictions are for some heavy winds, but the possibility of heavy rains are far worse - 5 to 10 inches with up to 15 inches are possible in some places in Haiti. That could pose a huge problem with all the earthquake debris choking drainage ditches and streams. 

The two temporary missionary teams went home today and American Airlines has canceled all flights in or out of Haiti starting tomorrow morning. All that's left is the small permanent staff and Aaron Harris and I. We will see what the weekend brings !



God bless



Mark

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 2

Another chaotic day in Haiti. We have a brand new grocery store out on the highway just beyond the turn off to our road. Went there today with John Booker. It looks just as nice as Times or Safeway, but much smaller, with almost no produce and lacking some things that you would think they would have. For example they had absolutely no sugar, but had 15 feet of shelving dedicated to liquor ! But at least it's new and clean - unlike many of the local markets (as you remember). Later that day, traveled around with some pastors from the mainland who are considering bringing teams here next year. We also went back to Mt Lazar (where all the houses collapsed near Pastor Rosinell's) Also spent some time with a team from Oklahoma working at the church site. They were a great team with a family atmosphere like we have.

The biggest thing on the horizon today is the possible hurricane coming. Right now it is supposed to hit here between Thursday night and Friday morning. Currently it's still a big tropical storm, but could become a full fledged hurricane between now and then. The Oklahoma team is going home tomorrow instead of Saturday since American Airlines is canceling all flights in and out of Haiti for Friday and Saturday, anticipating the weather being very bad. We have started the process of preparing the construction sites for the bad weather. Pray for us and for Haiti. Even a normal wind and rain storm will be bad for the tent cities, but a bad hurricane could be almost as devastating as the earthquake was. We will most likely be safe in the base camp house, but many, many others will be exposed to the full force of this storm. We will know much more tomorrow evening as the anticipated path and force of the storm will be more accurate by then.

Love you guys

Mark

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Another Week in Haiti!!!

Please help us keep Pastor Mark and Aaron in prayer as they journeyed to Haiti yesterday for a week. They will be there for a week laying the groundwork, covering the base camp in prayer and helping set the path for Pastor Mark and the teams to follow in 2011. Their first blog entry from this trip is below:

Aaron and I arrived in Port-au-Prince this morning (2 am Hawaii time) and immediately jumped into the confusion and chaos we lovingly call Haiti - no immigration forms were available on the plane so we had to search for someone in customs with the proper form and then stand in the long lines to pass through customs. Finally found our luggage, but then were "chosen" (by God ?) to have our luggage searched. A young Haitian lady chose the first box and opened it to find just some of my clothes and personal items. She told us to wait right there and left - I assumed to find her superior. She was gone for a LONG time and I wondered if our first day in Haiti would start with a harsh interrogation in some private room at the airport !! She finally returned and in broken English apologized - all this time she had been looking for tape to help me close up my box !! Ha !! After that experience we walked outside into literally hundreds of Haitian "helpers" trying to help us carry our luggage, find a taxi, find a friend, find ANYTHING that would give them a chance to collect some money from us ! They're difficult to wade through but you can't blame them - they have to make a living. Finally found John Booker and loaded up for the short trip to base camp and church.

The church site is unbelievable ! The "leaning" church building that was damaged in the earthquake has been torn down and replaced by a beautiful concrete slab waiting for the structural steel framing to arrive and start the new church. The framing is in customs (and has been for the last few weeks) but should be released in the next week.... or two .....or four ! (if you know what I mean). The tin roof shed is still there for the church to meet under and on this normal work day for us, Pastor Guy and about fifty people were having a prayer meeting from 8 am until noon to pray for their nation - the "All Saints Day" and the day after are holidays here that go back to the heavy voodoo days and Pastor wanted to battle against that darkness with a prayer meeting. So he's having a prayer meeting under the tin roof in the heat, while another half dozen other team members and local Haitian workers are working on various projects around the site ! Pretty amazing to watch !!

Lots of other preparations are starting all over the property anticipating the new church building, the Bible training school and other small experimental projects to help the church and local community become more self sufficient - plans are moving slowly forward to start a tilapia "farm", a chicken and egg production facility and even a bakery - Yes, Jara, better get ready - "Baker's Without Borders" is REALLY coming to the Church community here in Tabarre, Haiti !! There is a commercial bakery up the road about five miles that John Booker wants to get into and see if they would be willing to help us get one started on the church property !! John specifically asked if you, Jara, would be willing to take a lead role in that endeavor - pray about it. I am sure there will be plenty of time for working with the kids, but this new bakery may be God's call for you this coming spring ?!!?

Security has become a much more serious issue in the last few months as the local community has been invaded by some thieves who are breaking into houses all around. The base camp was broken into numerous times and we now have an armed guard at night (yes, a REAL guard with a real gun ! - not just our friend Antoine). I understand the guard caught someone climbing over the razor wire fence a few weeks ago, fired a gun shot in his direction to scare him away, and in his attempt to get away, the potential burglar got injured pretty bad.

But with all that, it feels like home already, although I miss everyone in Hawaii. Glad I'll get a chance to come home again to say final goodbyes before leaving for the long haul.

More later ............ and maybe some photos too (?)

Love you all,

Pastor Mark

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Let's Pray for the Cholera Outbreak in Haiti

Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti as they face another potential challenge. An outbreak of Cholera has been reported in several areas and although there is much being done to contain it, our prayers are much needed. Click on the link below to read more.

http://new.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4372&Itemid=1926&lang=en

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mahalo for Attending the H2H Interest Meeting

Thank you to all those that came to the Haiti Interest Meeting this past Sunday. We are very excited for the next season in serving the people of Haiti. Sarah will be sending out an email shortly to all those who have expressed an interest so far. If YOU would like more info but couldn’t make it to the meeting, please email Sarah@nhdh.org to be added to the email list. Please also continue to pray about what role you would like to play. Check your inboxes shortly. Thanks and Be Blessed!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Get Involved With The Next HAWAII TO HAITI Mission Trip!

Hawaii to Haiti Interest Meeting

In this next season of serving the people of Haiti, we would be honored to serve alongside you! For more information on being part of the H2H Travel Team (short term or long term) or H2H Home Team (prayer, fundraising, admin, support), please join us for an informational meeting on:


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 10th at 7:00pm
at the Kahala Resource Center (Kahala Mall, above CPK).


For more information please email Mark@nhdh.org or Sarah@nhdh.org

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mahalo for Attending the Hawaii to Haiti Movie Premier!

We just wanted to send out a HUGE mahalo to everyone who came out to the Hawaii to Haiti Documentary this past Sunday. We are so blessed to have the backing and support of a church, family and friends like all of you! We are truly, truly thankful.

Team Hawaii to Haiti

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hawaii to Haiti Documentary Premier Night!

Come check out the documentary of our recent trip from Hawaii to Haiti. Invite anyone and everyone. This will be a special night where we will come together and share stories of all that we witnessed in Haiti. Not only will you get the change to hear about our past trip, but you can also get info about upcoming trips and opportunities to be a part of the travel or home teams! We look forward to seeing you there!

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3, 7:00pm - 8:30pm

Kahala Mall NHDH Resource Center
4211 Waialae Ave (above CPK)
Honolulu, HI


For more information please email:
mark@nhdh.org or sarah@nhdh.org

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mahalo New Hope Diamond Head!

This past Sunday the Hawaii to Haiti team took over the Café to say thank you to New Hope Diamond Head! The support that this team received was so overwhelming and we are SO blessed to call this church our home. The support through love, prayers, encouragement and finances is SO unbelievable and we are truly and humbly thankful for each and every one of you. Stay tuned about for info on the next mission trip!



Friday, September 17, 2010

A Haitian Season

Well, it’s happened – I’m going back to Haiti. But this time it’s to serve God there full time. Hard to imagine that this would be what God has for me, but I am sure of it. I thought maybe God was taking me in that direction from the very first moment I set foot in Haiti - it almost felt like home. I was so “comfortable” there – not physically (it’s very hot and muggy !), but inside I felt so peaceful. The mission trip there with our church team was wonderful, but all the while I was also trying to “listen” for God’s voice. Am I supposed to come back here to work full time ? It’s hot, there’s no hot water for showers, living conditions are uncomfortable and it’s not Hawaii !! Yet, it seemed like God was saying “go”.

After talking to Pastor Fernando (my pastor in Honolulu) and praying about it quite a bit, along with a couple other church leaders, I felt I had to go. When I informed Pastor of my decision, he told me he agreed. He had also been praying and felt like God was saying the same thing to him. Others in the church leadership also agreed, so I began to make plans.

I will be working with the ground team in Haiti at the Foursquare base camp in Tabarre – only a few miles from the airport. My main focus will be coordinating mission teams from all over the United States who come to help Haiti through the Foursquare denomination.

Building structures and building people – that’s what I’m all about. I love to be a part of building things – been in the construction industry most of my life. And I love to assist in building people up in their walk with God. Matthew 7:24-25 says “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” The Haitian people need help rebuilding their homes, their churches and their businesses. But much more, they need their lives built on the Rock, Jesus Christ. What a great opportunity to participate in what God is doing in Haiti.

This past Sunday, September 15, 2010, we informed the entire congregation of my plans and I began to really focus on the details of leaving Hawaii. There is so much to do, but I know God will work it all out in the few short months I have left. Leaving Hawaii and my church family will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. They have seen me through so much over the past few years and I can’t imagine what it will be like without them close by. But somehow I know God will fill that void in my heart. New Hope Diamond Head will continue to be my home church and Pastor Fernando will continue to be my pastor. A couple years ago another brother at New Hope Diamond Head felt called to serve in another church in Honolulu. Someone said that he wasn’t leaving, he was just going to be, “on the other side of the church”. I feel the same way. I’m not leaving New Hope Diamond Head, I’m just going to be on the other side of the church - it’s just that other side of the church will be almost 6,000 miles away !!

Funny how things have changed for me over the past few years. It was just a little less than six years ago that I decided I needed to try to find my way back to God. I’d been away from Him for a number of years and knew I needed Him in my life again. It took quite a while, but I finally attended New Hope Diamond Head in February 2005. I wondered if God would accept me back – if He would allow me to do anything for Him. But God’s mercy and grace are impossible to understand and I felt His love and acceptance right way. In the last five and a half years, God has allowed me to do so many wonderful things in serving Him.

This opportunity to work full time in mission work in Haiti is something I would never have dreamed would happen. In fact, five years ago, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to go at all. But now I am so excited about what God has in store for me in Haiti, I can’t wait. God has opened the door for a miraculous work to be done in Haiti as a result of the earthquake last January. The nation of Haiti is ready for change and we have the opportunity to rebuild an entire nation for God. I pray that God will continue to call others to the nation of Haiti to help in the work. It may be years before we are able to measure success, but I know it will be worth the effort and the fruit we harvest will last for eternity !

Pastor Mark Olson

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A New Set of Eyes

I sat here this morning counting, over and over how many weeks we've been back! It's been 5 1/12 weeks, yet it seems like so long ago. I'm not really sure why it seems like so long ago for me? However I think about the time we were there everyday. It has changed my life in so many ways. In some ways you can see the change, but other changes only I can see. It's like I have new eyes, like I see things so differently now. I reflect on the time we went to the orphanage of Sister Eness. It was a heartbreaking day! They didn’t have much and the place was the worst conditions I have ever seen. At that moment with the eyes I had all I saw were bars on the openings that they called windows, holes in the walls filled with ants, urine soaked, rusty, torn, and dirty matresses. All I saw was rubbish spread across a back yard, a yard full of weeds and broken glass. All I saw were the children using razor wire to hang their clothes after they washed them. All I saw was a kitchen not suitable for the worst criminals in the world. I saw them using pots that looked like you wouldn’t even feed your animals in. I was afraid to look at their restroom, and actually I never even saw one! So James got an idea to clean up the back yard, at that moment I was feeling so depressed for these children thinking that what I saw was horrible. So I started helping James clean up, that's when Jesus sent me one of his children to open my eyes and change my vision! At that moment a little boy around 8-10 years old came and started to help me, we swept all the rubbish into piles using tree branches, the boy then took a burning piece of wood from the fire they were cooking with and he lit the rubbish on fire. He then took my hand and held it and filled me with so much Love. For about half an hour we stood there, unable to communicate to each other, we just held hands and watched the fire. But through the Holy Spirit we shared the Love of Christ. Through that little boy Jesus opened my heart to look beyond what I saw through my eyes, but to see things through my heart instead. He returned a vision to me that I thought I had lost and would never get back. To see the world through a child’s eyes. To see the good in what we have. To see the joy and happiness of life. We have things so good that when we see things that are not to our standards, we are shocked. Thinking how can these people live this way...Well I realized that day there is no standard of living that Jesus has. It is in our Heart. We can have the Love of Christ in whatever situation or place we are in, and those children were glowing with the Love of Christ. Thank you Lord for helping me see!

Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not only welcome me but the one who sent me. Mark 9:37

Seeing through him,

John M. Gestrich

Thursday, August 12, 2010

All for the Kids

Kristof using his amazing gift to bless the kids.

Pastor Mark and Alan.

The kids singing their welcome song to greet the Team and visitors.




Thursday, August 5, 2010

Haiti...I miss you

Daily, I get asked "how was Haiti?" and still, 2 weeks later, I struggle for the words. Trying to articulate what God did during our time there seems impossible, and oh how I wish you all could have physically been there with us. We carried your hearts, love and prayers with us. There were times, when I thought my heart would fail me...but your prayers, they carried me.

Oh those moments, they are forever branded in my mind and on my heart. Specifically at the first orphanage we visited. We were greeted with songs & smiles, just the thought of all of the beautiful faces of the children, brings tears to my eyes. The kids, in a word, breathtaking. It only took a short while for me to see beyond the gorgeous faces to the conditions in which they live. Just the thought of this, makes me sick to my stomach. When you are 8 years old, you should get more than one meal a day, you shouldn't have to cook your only meal over an open fire with no adult supervision, nor should you have to scrub your own laundry by hand and hang it to dry on the barbwire fence that surrounds the orphanage you live in. And yet these children, never complained, never cried, never for one second did the conditions they live in or the circumstances of their lives dictate their attitude, they were full of joy and thankful to just be held or played with. They are some of the strongest, most incredible kids I've ever seen.

I met one little boy names Stephan, who absolutely captured my heart. I noticed him off to the side not really participating, even when we unloaded crocs, he didn't seem to stir. I watched him and slowly made my way to him. After sitting next to him for about 5 minutes, he silently climbed into my lap. It was then that I realized the poor little guy had a raging fever and my heart broke. I sat there with him for 2 hours, just cuddling him, praying over him and fanning him.

Then we had to leave. To leave a sick child alone on the cement, with a fever in 100 degree weather...it absolutely broke my heart. And it was then, that your prayers sustained me and covered Stephan.

The next day we were able to go back to the orphanage and there he was again, same spot, same fever....Again, I spent most the day holding him and praying for him. As the time came to say goodbye, I felt as though my heart was literally going to fail me. I would have given ANYTHING to stay there with him. There was just something so wrong with that picture, leaving a sick little boy alone. And that's when I heard God speak to me...and all he said was "Trust me Sarah, I love Stephan more than you ever will, and I have a perfect plan for his life." I kissed Stephan on his forehead and told him that I loved him and had to walk away. I left a piece of my heart in that orphanage. It was then and is still now, that your prayers carried me and continue to carry Stephan.

So from the bottom of my heart I thank you, please know this trip couldn't have happened without your love, prayers and support.

We've been home for 2 weeks today. I came back from Haiti ruined. I think one of team members said it best when she said she's 'uncomfortable in her comfort', that's the perfect description of how I feel, and I want it to stay that way. Being home has been a rough transition, I have so many stories to share but I'm still processing everything. I'm slow like that, but promise that I will post more when I can wrap my mind around it all.

Sarah



Monday, August 2, 2010

The Tap Tap Rap

A little thing we like to call the Tap Tap Rap...


July 2010 New Hope in Action

New Hope Diamond Head welcomed back 2 mission teams in July, one from Taiwan and the other from Haiti...check out the latest edition of New Hope in Action.

NHIA July Edition from newhopediamondhead on Vimeo.

Blessings of Darkness

Wednesday at L.A. airport waiting for my flight home

Special Reading (not in the Bible reading sequence): Isaiah 45:1-8;

Title: BLESSINGS OF DARKNESS !! by Pastor Mark Olson

SCRIPTURE

Isaiah 45:3 (NLT) - And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches. I will do this so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.

OBSERVATION

Isaiah gives Cyrus a word from the Lord for his anointed ones. We are also His anointed.

APPLICATION

God has treasures upon treasures for his children ! They may not be gold or silver, but they are treasures from Him, nonetheless. These treasures are sometimes hidden in darkness – in secret where they are not easily seen. And sometimes, for God to reveal those treasures, we have to go into the darkness. As we attempt to follow God closely, we will encounter “darkness” in our lives – stresses, difficulties, disappointments, challenges, obstacles, doubt, and many other things that try to push us off God’s perfect plan for us. We want to live in the light, but sometimes, God allows the darkness to come so we can test His light. You can only tell if a flashlight works well, but testing it in the dark. We can only know God’s light in our lives deeply after it has been tested in the darkness.

We have all taken a step of faith to go to Haiti and be available for God to use us and work in our hearts. Everyone was touched beyond measure. We encountered darkness, God tested us in that darkness and showered us with blessings as we went to the cross for strength in that darkness. It was uncomfortable in the dark. We were out of our comfort zone. But in that darkness, we all turned to the “light” of God’s love, blessing and power to bring us through. I never felt closer to God and more in his blessing and anointing as I did in Haiti. There was something about it there that I know you can understand, but many others won’t be able to. We all felt close to Him because we were living in the darkness of Haiti – spiritual attacks, uncomfortable surroundings, etc. - and we drew close to Him for strength and comfort. And what a blessing it was to feel that closeness !!

Now we are back in our comfort zone – familiar surroundings, friends, A/C, hot showers, the comfort of our home church, etc. Do you still feel that same closeness to God you felt in Haiti ? Do you still feel the power of God’s Holy Spirit as strongly as we all did when we were praying at the orphanage against the evil spirits in that valley? Maybe, but most likely not.

It’s amazing to me that when I am comfortable, I don’t feel as close to God ! My comfort can make me lazy and keep me from having to draw near to God for His comfort. But when I am in the darkness, I press for God ! I do everything I can to lean on Him, because I don’t have the other things that so easily distract me. The darkness is where the real treasures are ! Secret riches from God are found in the darkness, in the difficulties, in the stresses, in the “uncomfortable zones”.

Don’t allow being back in our comfort zone to suck us into complacent lives. Stay “uncomfortable”. Ask God for “discomfort” - darkness if you will - to press us into Him and to find the real treasures of God found only in the darkness. Allow God to test us in the darkness so we will turn to His light and learn how to use his Holy Spirit power to overcome the darkness - and then to find those treasures found no where else ! Thank God for the blessings of the darkness !!

PRAYER

Lord, help me to press into your treasures. I understand that may require doing radical things, making radical changes, and maybe experiencing discomfort and even darkness. But then show me those treasures found only in the dark – the secret treasures of your kingdom found only in the dark. I want to press deeper !! In Jesus name, Amen

Sunday, August 1, 2010

By seeking Him, He will deliver!

Well I am finally home! I got to go with my family to South Dakota and see Mount Rushmore. It was a 10 plus hour drive there from Minnesota. Usually I would be frustrated during a long drive like that seeing farm after farm, but I really enjoyed it. I just felt so blessed to have the freedom we have and the beauty of America. As we drove I reflected on my life and how I used to live and where I am heading now. God has changed so much things in my life. Through this trip I feel that he has given me an overwhelming amount of grace. Grace that I can use with my family, with the ministries I serve in, and anyone that I may work with in future things that I do. Grace, Compassion, Unfailing Love, that no matter how difficult the circumstance, how awkward the situation I'm in, how hard it may be, God gives me Grace. Grace to Love how he loves! If we just do things with more Grace, our days would go so much easier!

And the child grew and became strong, he was filled with wisdom, and the Grace of God was upon him. Luke 2:40

I thought it was neat that God really showed me early in the trip that my mission work starts at home! My heart is at home. I really feel that there are so many people to help and save right in our own back yards. When we arrived at base camp, we met this group that was leaving to stay up at the orphanage, they just happened to be from a homeless shelter in L.A. called the Dream Center. Coincidence, never with God. He always has a plan before we ever know it. Well I soon found out that these guys from the dream center serve 3,500 to 4,000 there a day! How awesome is that. Right then and there I was determined to listen to the Lord and I knew that's what he wanted me to do. Build a Christian based shelter somewhere on Oahu that can help give Love and hope through Jesus Christ. We can have people come from all over the world to serve in our center. Who wouldn't want to come to Hawaii to serve Christ. Eighty percent of the program would be run by volunteers. I am so excited to get back to work in the Hearts for Homeless ministry and do the good work of the Lord. I will continue to seek the Lord for guidance in whatever I do! By seeking him, he will deliver!

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all things will be given to you as well Matthew 6:33

Thank you Jesus,

John M. Gestrich


To be continued...

Friday, July 23, 2010

LIVING the Word

It's been a long two days back reintegrating into the society we left barely two weeks ago. Yet, it sometimes feels like a lifetime ago.

I certainly feel profoundly changed from this trip. One thing in particular that I can't forget is how much really LIVING the word transforms not only the person who's living it/ in it but those around you. It's like God is pleased to be right there in the room enjoying it just as much as you are.

Case in point: Psalm 133: 1-3--"BEHOLD, HOW good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

2It is like the precious ointment poured on the head...

3...for there the Lord has commanded the blessing, even life forevermore [upon the high and the lowly]."

There was so much undeniable unity on this trip within the team. God had to have handpicked each one. We may have disagreements here and there but none of it affected the overall sense of the group as a whole. We ate, slept, worked and served as one continuous unit.

All the prayers, support and, overall--God's spirit that brought us through to the end with so many good things sewn up in our hearts that only comes from a place of true, God-honoring, Biblical community.

It was so good that some of us, after not sleeping and getting up at 3 or 4 in the a.m. on our first night back (yesterday) Facebooked each other to meet at Zippy's for an early morning devo/breakfast. It was fabulous!

We have not only been blessed to be able to serve those in Haiti but have come back to Hawaii with 12 other brothers and sisters in Christ, some new, some old--but all now FAMILY!

No one can argue that God, our Jehovah Jirah, certainly, gives the best gifts! In Christ Alone, Amen. ~Liz

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The mission isn't over just cause we are home...

Part one of many to come:

As I left Port Au Prince, Haiti, I thought to myself, John what has the Lord shown me or done through me during this mission trip. As I reflected I realized where do I start...First off this is my first time out of the country, so it completely took me out of my comfort zone from the minute we landed. It made me really rely totally on my faith alone. A lot of times in our everyday life we think we are stepping out on our faith!, but are we really? We usually step out only to a certain part, when it gets uncomfortable we can take a step back and forget about it! At home it is just so easy not to challenge ourselves or we just get in to a routine that is just the norm for ourselves...Well team and fellow brothers and sisters, like I said before. The mission isn't over just cause we are home, use the fire you have right now and further God's kingdom at home. Step out on your faith daily! Seek him daily!

But you man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, Godliness, FAITH, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of FAITH. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:11,12

From the first minute I walked off the plane I felt God stretching me in so many ways. I could feel his presence and guidance. He gave me a sense of compassion and love I never realized I had. Love and compassion for the people of Haiti, love and compassion for my brothers and sisters on the team with me, and love and compassion like never before for my family. Instantly we were as one with God. Together with the home team and the church at home I felt we were spiritually untouchable. Untouchable from the enemy! I felt as we were transformed into soldiers for the Lord!

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Well gang I just got back and here I go again. Off to be reunited with the wife. I am sooooo excited! Excited to share the Love with her. Thank you God for giving me a supportive wife, a wife that loves me and will walk together with me on the road you lead us! I may not get back on the computer till the 31st. I will continue this blog as soon as I can. Love you all.

Together in Christ,

John M. Gestrich

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Last Day in Haiti

Just arrived back in Miami, checked into the hotel and took a shower. A hot shower almost seems like too much luxury, when I think that many of the people we encountered in Haiti have never had a hot shower. Yesterday we finished some projects we were building at the orphanage and then Pastor Rosinell (he was the local Haitian pastor in our New Hope in Action video a few weeks ago) took us to one of the heavily devastated areas of Port au Prince. Hundreds of homes were destroyed in an area smaller than the size of Magic Island by Ala Moana Beach Park. Nearly 100 of his church congregation lived here before the earthquake and fifteen church members died in the collapsed buildings there. We stopped and walked around some of those buildings and over piles of rubble that used to be houses and apartments. We stopped at one church member's current "home" - a dug out flat space in the midst of the rubble with a tent and a few wooden poles holding up a few odd pieces of tin. We spoke with the Haitian man there who was reading his Bible when we arrived. Continuing on, we stopped at another church members' house site that had recently been cleared of rubble and a simple wooden structure built. Behind that site was another giant pile of rubble that had been a four story concrete home until the earthquake. Now you couldn't even tell it had been a house at all. Pastor Rosinell said at least thirty people were still buried there only twenty feet from where we stood. We stared in silence as tears flowed easily down some team member's faces. Seeing the pictures on the news does nothing in comparison to being there and seeing everything in person. A local Haitian came up to me as we began to walk away and asked if we had come to work and when we would be coming back to help build more houses. I told him that I didn't know when, but I did know that I would be back. He smiled and shook his head as he understand and thanked us for being there. There are years and years of work ahead for the Haitian people and those who come to help - to rebuild the thousands upon thousands of homes and other buildings lost in the January earthquake. But there are also years of rebuilding lives there by showing them the love of Christ. As we minister to their physical needs, we also have opportunity to minister to the Haitian people's spiritual needs - and what an opportunity it is !

We were able to touch a number of lives in Haiti in our short visit there. But the interesting thing is that we were the ones who were really touched. Some of the team feel a longer term call the mission field. Others were touched with a new found fervency for the ministry they have in Honolulu. Others felt convicted to press into the next season of their lives that God had already been speaking to them about. But everyone was touched and changed by this mission trip. My "comfortable" life will never feel the same after seeing how literally millions of people live in Haiti. May God make us "uncomfortable" enough to press us into serving Him in radical ways that stretch us and push us to a deeper walk with God. May we never be the same ! Amen

Mark

Devotion for Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Scripture - “Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18-20

Observation - These are the very last verses in Matthew, Jesus has just risen from the dead and is with his disciples. At first some had a hard time believing it was true, but still they worshipped him. It is here that Jesus gives them their next assignment, He calls them to The Great Commission. They are to go out through all the nations and make disciples of them.

Application - Imagine having just spent time with Jesus who has just come back from the grave. How psyched and enthused they must have been! I would imagine that coming back from a mission trip like this will leave you energized with a new perspective on life and a new fire for Christ. We have all been called to the Great Commission and with that comes great adversity. Be encouraged that at the end of the Great Commission is also a promise - And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. As you return back to Honolulu Life, meditate in this and stand on this promise. Let the fire continue to burn strong as you re-emerge as a changed disciple fulfilling the Great Commission.

Prayer - Dear Jesus, thank you for the willing hearts that you have faithfully sent to be a part of this mission to Port-au-Prince, as part of The Great ComMISSION. Thank you for your provision, your grace, your guidance and your faithfulness. I pray that as this trip comes to end, it would only be the beginning of a renewed passion and fire for You. I pray that the lessons learned and the changes that took place would continue to resonate weeks, months and years from now and that we would be reminded at just the right times of the promise you made us - that You are with us ALWAYS, even to the end of the age. Thank you for loving us SO much! In Your Matchless Name Lord, Amen.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Devotion for Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Use this day to meditate and reflect on the past week. What were some of the biggest ways that God showed up? Has your perspective on life and your life’s calling changed? What touched you most?


HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH!!!