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!!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Devotion for Monday, July 19, 2010

Scripture - Some children were brought to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. The disciples told them not to bother him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” And he put his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left. - Matthew 19:13-15

Observation - The hearts of children are unlike any other and their perspective on life is something to cherish. Jesus welcomes the children, welcomes their faith and acknowledges that truly ‘the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these’. The disciples may have lost track of the importance of the children and their faith, but were clearly reminded as they tried to keep the kids away. Jesus welcomed them, prayed for them and blessed them.

Application - Even though this story refers to children, age is not the most important thing. The level of faith and trust is what concerns our Lord the most, to have faith like a child and to trust like a child is what Jesus is looking for. It’s so easy to lose sight of that simple, Christ-centered mind-set in the whirlwind that is our life these days.

Prayer - Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the children of Haiti. Thank you for their survivor hearts, thank you for their relentless spirits and thank you for the love that pours out of them so freely. We ask your blessing and protection on each and every one of them. We ask for healing and salvation, and that each one would come to know in the most personal way. Let the Haiti that they grow up in allow for vibrant ne life to sprout from the rubble. Lastly, thank you for the reminder that the faith you seek in us, is SIMPLY that of a child. Amen.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Devotion for Sunday, July 18, 2010

Scripture - So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone, especially to our Christian brothers and sisters. Galatians 6:9-10

‘Olelo No’eau (Hawaiian proverb)

“Ho’okahi ka ‘ilau like ana”

Wield the paddles together

Work together. - Coach Vernon Viernes

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Devotion for Saturday, July 17, 2010

Scripture - Isaiah 29:13 “Then the Lord said, Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote”

Observation - Here we see judgment against the Israelites who honor God with the speech and service, but their hearts are still far from Him. They have reverence for God based on what they have learned and practiced throughout their lives as Jewish believers. However, their reverence comes out as traditions which appear to be more religious actions based on repetitive rituals, rather than based on a heartfelt reverence before God. These judgments are given by Jesus later when he meets the religious leaders and Biblical teachers, such as in Matthew 15:8-9 "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men."

Application - Is it with my heart that I honor God with my words and actions? Or do I simply pray, worship and serve because it is something that I have learned to do, but I just go through the actions without a purpose and heart behind it? This is very applicable to me in my walk with Christ today. I believe that Jesus wants to have a real and personal relationship with me. He probably cringes if I speak out in honor of His name and do good works for Him, if I don't know Him or do these things out of

Prayer - Lord, I pray that I would seek You in the morning and walk with You throughout my day, that anything I do would be with a heart devoted to You. I pray that I would not fall into any patterns of speaking or serving for You out of routine or habit, that would become meaningless tasks that are not connected to anything You may want me to do. I pray that as I continue to seek You with all my heart, You would reveal Your will to me throughout each day and lead me into the things and places You have set before me. In Jesus name, Amen. - Ty Dempsey

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hawaii to Haiti - DAY 5

Haiti - Day five - early Friday morning

Haiti is an amazing place that is difficult to describe. The Base Camp director thinks that the January 2010 earthquake will mark history for Haiti like Pearl Harbor, or 9/11 did for America. But trying to explain what we see around us is tough. "vibrant life in the midst of devastation" or "glimmers of hope in near total darkness". Hundreds of local Haitians talking, laughing and selling their goods in sidewalk markets right next to collapsed buildings that haven't been touched since the earthquake. Two dozen young children standing in rows, singing beautiful Haitian songs to us as we arrive at the orphanage - and then an hour later we see those same 6 to 8 year olds preparing and cooking the lunch meal for the entire orphanage over an open wood fire in the "Kitchen", using pots and pans we normally wouldn't use to feed our own dogs. And yet they are laughing, playing and wanting to show us their surroundings with excitement in their eyes. We painted the boy's bedroom walls at the orphanage yesterday and I taught a tall 16 year old girl how to use a paint brush to dab paint in the rough concrete blocks. She was so excited and I left her to enjoy her new found talent. Later she came out to grab me by the hand, walk me back into the painted room, and then turned and smiled with gestures like Vanna White showing me the next letter in Wheel of Fortune, she pointed to her handy work of paint on the wall. It bought tears to my eyes realizing this may be the most exciting thing she does all year and sharing it with an "old guy" from Hawaii made her happy.

What is God doing in us as we experience Haiti ? Why does He call us out of our comfort zone to go to places and do things that seem so insignificant in the big scheme of life - like painting a wall in a tiny orphanage in the devastated land of Haiti ? I believe it's mostly to cultivate the soil of our hearts so he can plant new seeds. Sometimes it takes places like Haiti to wake us from our isolated lives and give God access to change us, mold us, redirect us in our service for Him. He "turns the soil" and plants new seeds in our hearts. Like the comment Sarah made when we came back from the orphanage after holding a half dozen children in her arms - "that's it, I'm unpacking - permanently". Or last night when Pastor Gee (the local pastor of the Foursquare church) said he wanted to build a bakery to provide jobs for his congregation and help them raise money for his Bible institute - I saw the look on Jara's face as she almost bounced off her chair. Jara's dream has been to open a bakery somewhere in the world for God - is this the place ? Or when Josh realized that we had to use pick and shovel to flatten a huge pile of gravel and wondered why we didn't get a bulldozer and just pay someone to do it. But as he worked along side the crew of Haitian and they began to communicate in Creole mixed with English, Josh commented - "it's not about the task, it's about the relationships". These are seeds being planted in the hearts of the team - and we must water and nurture that seed so God can produce fruit in our team members. Maybe that "harvest of fruit" in our team members will be in Haiti, maybe not. But as all of us stay open to God's move in our hearts, watering and nurturing the seed God plants there, there will be a harvest in our lives. Our job is to give God access to turn the soil and plant the seed. Now it's up to us to water that seed with prayer - searching and listening for God to speak the details of how He wants to fulfill His call in our lives. Does God want Sarah to work with children in an orphanage or Jara to start a bakery with the local church in Haiti ? Only God knows and He will show us - as we water and nurture that seed - to see what the fruit will be and where He will harvest it in our lives.

Lord - help us to water and nurture the seeds you plant in our lives. Keep us from allowing those tender plants to dry up and die in our hearts. Produce the crop of fruit that you desire in our lives. In Jesus name, Amen.

Regardless of the Circumstances, the Future is Bright

We've had a full 3 days here so far and I've never sweat so much in my life. Really! I was sitting at dinner with my elbow out, holding my fork and within like, 10 seconds, a small puddle of sweat had built up in my elbow and as I bent it to my mouth, it soaked my t-shirt! I also haven't been so dirty at the end of the "work day" either. But, besides the heavy humidity, God's love for the people shines brightly e is so evident, you can cut it with a knife.

Case in point. Today was the first day we visited the orphanages. When we got there, the orphanage directors were there and corralled the kids to make some sort of presentation. You couldn't help but coo at the little ones in the front row. And, right on cue came the unified voice of a precious children's choir. They sang a song of welcome in French/Creole (the only way I could tell was that I heard the word "Bienvenue") and then they sang the French version of "If you're happy and you know it". So, so precious!!

Then, the leaders sat them down and we passed out the crocs and shoes we brought along. Although I couldn't understand what the kids were saying I knew they were happy; the smiles were evident for sure. And then it was a free for all. Some boys wanted to play futbal (a.k.a. soccer :->). Others wanted to help the team paint the boys room blue. Some of the little ones just wanted to cuddle. One little girl in particular stole my heart. Six year old Artime (Ar-Tea-may) held on to my hand all day and wanted to be carried too.

This little girl's heart is so compassionate and ready to love. In the middle of our time together, something got into my eyes (dust particle or something) and it began to water like crazy. It looked like I was crying and I had to get a tissue. When I turned around, Artime still near by, she was crying too...as if seeing my pain, put her in pain. She's only six! What a heart!

In that, I see a leader. A pastor. I see a woman whose heart God can use and because of it's tenderness, the future of her ministry to others who are hurting will be so so powerful. I will continue to pray for this sweet sweet girl and look hopefully into the future of Haiti. Regardless of the circumstances, the future is bright. - Liz

Speaking A Different Language

God is doing some amazing stuff here in Haiti. Looking around and just seeing the people you can just tell that they are still hurting but one little wave or smile you can see them light up and wave back and see some kind of hope in them. We went to an orphanage yesterday and spent the day with the kids. I personally almost had a heat stroke playing soccer with the kids in the scorching heat but nonetheless had a great time. I love Haiti and the people here. It can be frustrating that I cant really communicate to them but we are all trying. Hugs and smiles communicate so that's good. Well, please continue to pray for our safety, especially our health. That we would be safe some all sicknesses! Love you all! - Peter

Devotion for Friday, July 16, 2010

Scripture - May the God of peace who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will and may he work in us what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

Observation - I love this blessing. There are so many beautiful promises in here of God's love and continued support for the direction of our lives. First off God is the God of peace. He does not want our lives to be crazy and chaotic with struggles at every turn. God wants us to have a confident certainty that He will provide for our lives so that we can be a blessing to others. God gave us Jesus and through his life and resurection we are able to have a personal relationship directly with Him. Just like a shepherd we are lead to where He needs us to be and carrying the right tools with us. God will not send us over a cliff like drowning lemming, but if we are lead to a cliff He will undoubtedly hand us ropes and D-rings and a harness and a way back up or out. God will give us the right tools and also the right training to use them in the correct manner. Maybe it will be like a mountain rescue where we can bring those who are injured back to safety. Maybe it will not be as dramatic as that, it could just be offering a hand to someone who tripped and fell.

Application - We can apply this by always keeping Jesus in our hearts and using the confidence of God's love to be able to bethe tools for good no matter how daunting the tasks we are given. The Lord will give us the ability to show His love.

Prayer - Thank you Lord for all of your many blessings and promises for our lives. Please help us to use the tools you have given us to do good in the world, to set right what has gone wrong and to mend any broken buildings or people you may put in our path. Please continue to equip us for the future and help us to bring glory to Your Name.
Amen. - Bunny Hidano

DON'T EVER stop praising the Lord!

Haiti is quite an experience. I've never been on a mission like this before. There was a lot of hard work to be done but doing it together as a team has been so much fun and getting to know my team better has been such a blessing.

Yesterday, we spent the day at an orphanage and I FELL IN LOVE!!!! Every child there is absolutely beautiful, both inside and out. It was really cool to watch how the children interacted with us. Some were shy, some really outgoing and energetic. Most were so eager to play with us and help with painting their room. It was so nice to see how they worked together and loved each other. Who would have thought that God could use these young kids to help me put life into perspective.

To see the joy in the lives of the people here has changed my life forever. They experienced something so devastating yet they are all so happy. Instead of turning from God, they now praise and worship Him for all the good He has done in their lives. How often do we turn our backs from the Lord when we go through challenges? If there is only one thing I take back with me from this trip, it is no matter what I go through, no matter how tough or challenging it might be -DON'T EVER STOP PRAISING GOD!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oh Haiti, we love thee

So far, soooooo good! I feel like we've accomplished so much already and we've only been here a few full days.

Day 1---We walked to the church to take a look at the construction we would be working on, this church was BADLY damaged during the earthquake and they are preparing the land to tear down the giant cement building and put a steel structure in it's place. This new structure will serve as a medical clinic, church and leadership development. After taking a look at that we walked to a neighboring refugee camp, it was as you can imagine, hard to see....these people who have nothing, but still were so happy just to see you, they wave and the children just run up to you and hug you. It was such a gift after such a long day.

Day 2--To prep the church property we needed to clean out and sweep the inside of the church as well as level out loads of rock that had been dumped. The fab four ladies (Jara, Liz, Olivia and myself) spent the morning sweeping and cleaning the interior. The men had it a little more rough and they hauled rock all morning. The afternoon was a major team effort of picking up and moving rocks...one stone at a time....we built a huge chain and threw rocks to each other....it was HOT (we're talking over 100 degrees & 100% humidity--CRAZY) but it was a TON of fun! We had the best time full of laughter and joy! We ended up moving over 2000 rocks...that felt like boulders. Truly teamwork. On the way back home we saw some children playing down the road and waved and before you knew it, they were running towards us, it must have been 30-40 children from the ages of 3 or 4 to 14....they came and we grabbed soccer balls from the base camp and played soccer in the dirt field. It was so fun just to love and hug the children, we took lots of photos and had a BLAST just holding them and playing with them. We all agreed that after seeing the children we had totally forgotten about the work that we had done all day. It was really such a gift :)

Day 3---Today we went out to the soccer field I mentioned to pick up trash. After yesterday we realized that the field they use for practice is an old landfill, when we were out there, we picked up garbage bags FULL of broken glass, plastic and so on....we even found a large kitchen knife AND a syringe...it was so fulfilling to be able to get all of the potentially dangerous stuff off that field and know that the kiddos would be safe to run around!
Later this morning, we headed out to the 1st orphanage of the trip! I was sooooo excited! When we arrived there, there were only the younger children (under 12) as the rest were at school, they opened the gate to let us in and the kids had prepared songs for us. I stood with Jara, holding hands, in tears---such a beautiful sight to see. After their song it was a FREE FOR ALL, hugging on each one and learning their names. The beauty in the eyes of the children at this orphanage is unparalleled. They are so sweet and loving. We sat all the children down and they all got their new Crocs. To say they were excited would be putting it mildly, they put them on and off they went to play soccer or just dance around it their new shoes. Wow. (To everyone that donated shoes, THANK YOU, you truly made a incredible difference in the lives of these little ones). Soon after, Kristof went to work painting a mural, while some of the team painted the bedrooms and others (like me) played with the children. As soon as the travel team girls sat down with babies in their arms the older girls from the orphanage attacked, hence the new corn rows hairstyle I am currently rocking ;) It was hilarious...and painful, but they loved it!

One of the most powerful parts of the trip for me personally so far, was actually at the base camp, we have 2 beautiful haitian women that work in the kitchen at the base camp preparing meals. We heard that one of them, Linda, has 2 small boys, ages 4 & 6 and so I kept out 2 pairs of crocs for her boys. I had one of the interpreters explain to her that I wanted to give her these shoes for her children. She looked like I had given her the world and with tears in her eyes, she hugged me and kept repeating "merci, merci, merci" (thank you). It is hard to put into words how amazing moments like this really change you...I know back home I have a ridiculous amount of shoes and to think that such a simple act can move someone so deeply...It humbles and challenges me...

It's 7pm now and we are about to head into a night session, so I should probably get going. Sorry for rambling on and on, I just really want all of you to be able to experience this trip with us. It's only a peek at what's going on and all that God is doing, but I hope it helps you all to know we brought your love and support, and really we couldn't do this without you all.

Tomorrow morning we head out to another orphanage were we will stay for the duration of the trip, so we won't be able to update because there will be no internet or cell service. Please know we love and appreciate you, our home team, our backbone...so much.

Much love you all,
Sarah (on behalf of Team Hawaii to Haiti)

Devotion for Thursday, July 15, 2010

Scripture - 12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13"Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Hebrews 12:12-13 NKJV

Observation - In Paul’s letter, he encourages us to endure hardships so that we can persevere through any disciplines. For if we weren’t disciplined by the Father, how can He provide the strength that is needed for us to fulfill His plan and purposes.

Application - This amazing mission trip has brought you to a place of desolation and what seems to be a chaotic world that seems to have no end of being healed. YOU were chosen to go to Haiti by the Lord, to encourage others around you to continue to be strong and healed through the word of the Lord. He gives us the strength so that we can be a light for those who don’t know Him. As you help to fix broken homes, lives, and hearts, remember to seek Him daily on this journey so that you can gain strength.

Prayer - Heavenly Father, I thank you for the team that you CHOSE to send to Haiti. It is by Your will and strength that they survive the devastation that they see. I ask for Your protection over the team; spiritually (as the enemy will try to attack the good they are doing), emotionally (this kind of devastation will truly be taxing on the heart), and physically (that all be strengthened by You). I pray that they continue to shine brightly with Your light in the darkness. Amen. - Kim Matsukawa

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Expired Passport

How insane was that. I got my passport renewed the last day within 30 minutes and made my flight @ 12:30 to Haiti. God's hand is definitely in my life and I am super humbled by this experience. Other than feeling like the biggest dufus in the world for not overlooking my passport. I feel like I needed to go through that experience. Back home I am bombarded on how I can make money, get famous, and by a lot of new toys. Going through this experience and seeing God make a way where there seems to be no way boggles my mind.

I struggle with the issue of trust and making myself vulnerable with people, you usually see me in and out of church being anti social. When I found out my passport was expired. I gave up right then and there. To hear the words from Peter saying I believe you’re meant to be on this trip. I doubted that. Who gets a passport in 2 hours before there flight.....no one. My team came together and worked as one body to fight for me and help me get to where I need to be. It is by Gods grace and mercy I am here.

I am broken, humbled and @ a place where God can work in my life. If I didn't go through this I would have been too prideful to experience what God has for me. Breaking down ways in my life and healing me as we speak.

God really had something better in mind.

Kristof

And without FAITH it is impossible to please God

A verse that really stood out to me in today's devotions was Hebrews 11:6 And without FAITH it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

This is so true, here I am today in Haiti thousands of miles away from my home and my family. Missing them more than I could ever imagine, knowing that they may be uncertain why their father is gone. As much as I do miss them I am glad that I got this chance to test my faith and be obedient to do his work. I am here solely on the fact that I have the faith in my father Jesus Christ, the father that has shown me unconditional love, the father that has always been there for me. I have come to realize that I have nothing without faith. I am honored to have the opportunity to walk in my faith and do God's work in a land where the foundations have crumbled, but God's foundation has just begun. It is so exciting to hear from our brothers that are here in Haiti that God is sending his people here to do the work that is needed, they have gotten so much done and yet there is lots more to do. So just remember if God put's something in your heart and you get the chance to take that leap of faith, than do it. The rewards are unexplainable.

By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is /god. Hebrews 11:9,10

All for Him,

John M. Gestrich

Devotion for Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Scripture - 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them

Observation - The Hebrew writer is recounting the faithful walks of the fathers of his own faith, remembering that those who faithfully followed God did not see the promise in their lifetime... yet they still believed.

Application - I often think when I read this chapter about the "faithful," those who trusted and believed God even when they didn't see a reward in their own lifetime. But reading this time, I realize that it is really GOD who is faithful! We go through ups and downs in our walk, but God loves us unconditionally and is longing, probably more than we are, for the day that we join Him in His (and our!) heavenly home... for ever!

Prayer - You are with brothers and sisters in Haiti who have suffered tremendous tragedy. And I imagine that their trust and faith seems out of place with the devastation that surrounds them. I bet they have a handle on this scripture far better than we do at the moment. As you help them to meet their physical needs, be sure to listen as they share their victories and help you understand why they are longing—as we should be!—for a better country, a heavenly one.

Love you all! Praying for you. Don't forget to drink PLENTY of water!

Barbara Gum

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hawaii to Haiti - DAY 1

It’s 1:30 pm Monday. Just took off and climbing to altitude. What a morning it’s been so far !! Up at 5:30 for devos and left the house at 7:00 - headed for Longs to pick up food for the plane, mac-nuts to give the ground team in Haiti and baby wipes (in case the cold showers aren’t working in Haiti !). Sarah calls – “Uncle Mark, we have a problem !” Kristof’s passport had expired in April and none of us caught it. Copies of the passport made for the files, reviewed by at least three people and none of us saw the expiration until 7:15 this morning. What can we do? How can we leave one team member behind ? What will Liz (Kristof’s wife) do ? – will she go with us and leave him home – how can she do that ? No way are we going to get a new passport in 3 hours !!?

But God has other plans……. Sarah was calling me from Zippy's and “just happened” to be with Aunty Lynn, who “just happened” to know someone in our church who “just happened” to work at the passport office. I meet Sarah at Zippys and the team begins to arrive. Liz and Kristof arrive as well, trying to look “chipper” while I know they must have been in agony on the inside. We gather to pray and see what God has for Kristof and the team. It’s 8:00 am. With some coaching from Aunty Lyn and Aunty Renee by phone, Kristof heads off downtown with Liz and Erin, gets new passport photos and goes straight to the Federal building passport office. Sarah goes on-line and after the frustration of being hung up on and using only her cell phone to navigate through mazes of directions, she finally secures an appointment for Kristof at 9 am - it’s now 8:48. I call Kristof on my phone who is at that moment going through security at the Federal building – “Kristof, your appointment is in 12 minutes, get to the counter now !!” The rest of the team sits with us at Zippys having a “nervous” breakfast. Peter comments – “I just have this overwhelming feeling that Kristof is going with us”. My faith isn’t quite that confident, but it’s slowly starting to grow. We wait, talk, wonder and wait some more …… Liz calls at 9:40 – “he’s got it !” All he has to do is wait for it to be printed and they can be on their way to the airport !! I am amazed !! What a miracle – a new passport in under 2 ½ hours from the time we realize the problem until he has the approval in hand. As we sit there rejoicing at Zippys, we begin to think ………

American Airlines originally had us booked to fly out on Sunday, but actually messed up our reservations and had to re-book us for Monday. If they hadn’t “messed up” we would have been sitting at Zippys on Sunday with absolutely no way to get a new passport !....... And if Liz hadn’t looked at the passport so early that morning …… (Why did she look at the passport that early anyway ?!?! ) And if Aunty Lynn hadn’t been with Sarah braiding her hair when Liz called her ……. And if Aunty Lynn hadn’t know the person in our church who “happened” to work in the passport office …….. What a wonderful miracle !!

But God wasn’t done yet ! Because American Airlines had messed up our reservations and had to re-book us for Monday, James and I couldn’t fit on the same plane as the rest of the team. We had to take another flight from Honolulu. It was disappointing, but we would deal with it. We figured out how to keep track of everything with having to travel separately and James and I would leave Honolulu an hour later than the rest of the team. I was especially disappointed as the team leader, not being able to fly with the rest of the team. Now as we sit at Zippy’s waiting for Liz to call, Sarah tells us – “oh, by the way, I just found out your flight is delayed two more hours – you leave three hours after us”. Another obstacle ? or a time to again lean on God ?

We all arrive at the airport and begin to check in. Aaron Harris goes to pick up Kristoff with his new passport as we drag our bags through Agriculture inspection and on to the Self Check-in Machines. As the rest of the team gets their boarding passes and moves on to drop their bags, James punches his information in the Self Check-in and receives the message – “There is a problem and we cannot finish your check in – please see a ticket agent”. Uh-oh ! What now ?! I punched in my information with the same results. We wait in line for the next ticket agent wondering what is up. James got to the counter first and as he talked to the ticket agent he suddenly smiled and walked back to tell me – “the delay in our flight would have made us miss our connection to Haiti – they “somehow” put us back on the same flight as the rest of the team !!” How did they do that – put us on a full plane that last week we couldn’t fit on ?!?! Only our God knows !! Another miracle – thank-you, Lord !!

Bags checked, we gather for prayer and photos and to say good-bye to Erin and Aaron - our home team leaders. We all acknowledge how God’s hand has already been with us working miracles - and we haven’t even left Honolulu yet !! Some of the team start to work their way to security and some make a last minute stop in the restroom. Liz and Olivia wait by some of our carry-on bags. Suddenly a man walks up to Liz and Olivia and asks what the “Hawaii to Haiti” t-shirt means that Olivia is wearing. Olivia explains and the man hands her $ 100 in cash and walks away !! You are absolutely amazing God !! We haven’t even left Honolulu and you’ve shown us your miraculous, loving hand three times already ! What more do you have in store for us ?!?!

I am convinced now that this is not the end of His miracles on this trip – it’s only the beginning !! After a few more glitches with Liz’s ticket (she realizes at security that they have printed Kristof’s name on her ticket as well as his !!), we finally board the plane and settle into our seats. What a start to this wonderful adventure with God !!

Phew !!! Amen !

Devotion for Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Scripture - “Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” Hebrews 10:23

Observation - Hebrews Chapter 10 is talking about how the old Laws of Moses have been overridden by Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. There is no longer a need for us to sacrifice animals in exchange for forgiveness, all we need now is to sincerely repent. Christ sent his Son to Earth as the ultimate sacrifice for us all.

Application - ‘Without wavering’...we are told to hold tightly to the promise that we are children of the Most High, that the sacrifice has already been made for our sins...but we are told to hold tightly ‘without wavering’. These 2 words are part of the direction- it’s not ‘try and get through’ or ‘do your best to hold on’ it’s ‘without wavering’, as in ‘I made you for this and you are entirely capable of it because that’s how I created you’. When you think you’re not worth it, when you think that you’re not good enough, know that God created you WITHOUT WAVERING. There was no doubt in his mind about creating you as child of his. Sometimes we can lose sight of that promise too, when we face great destruction or tragedy or everything all at once. You are sent there to demonstrate the HOPE that we say we have. Stand strong, without wavering, on that hope and these promises.

Prayer - Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being a God of purpose. Thank you for sending this team of Your children to be an example of Your Hope and Love. I pray that their faith grows as they stand strong your promises, I pray that the faith of the people of Haiti is continued to be refreshed and renewed and that you would use this destruction to rebuild with purpose the Country of Haiti all those in it. Remind us of how blessed we are to know, without wavering, that our sins have been bought and paid and that we have been redeemed. In your name I pray, Amen.

Joshua 1:7

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Joshua 1:7 - Alan

Monday, July 12, 2010

Devotion for Monday, July 12, 2010

Scripture - So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are wait for him. Hebrews 9:28

Observation - Christ's soul purpose was to bring his lost people to himself, by him coming the first time and dying on the cross for man kinds sin. We have the opportunity for salvation for the second coming.

Application - It is so easy to forget about the basics of our faith. Jesus died on the cross for our sins so that we might be saved. At times I get all caught up in all the detail of Christianity. Am I doing the will of God? Why am I struggling with this sin over and over? I can't talk to people about Jesus my life is a mess. I am not a good example of a christian. Someone else like Uncle Mark, needs to share the gospel with them. This only brings discouragement and disappointment. Not the life God set up for us to live.

Prayer - I pray Lord for this team that they will stay focused on the simplicity of the Gospel. To walk in confidence that they have been called to serve and preach the Gospel not only with actions but with words as well. Give them the hearts to connect with one person in a way that will change both of their lives. Amen. - Aaron Harris

The Team is Off with Bags of Crocs!

Wow! The Children's Ark of NHDH along with so many others gathered over 200 pairs of crocs to take with them to Haiti! What an amazing blessing! Thank you to everyone who was a part of this.


The Haiti Team is en route as we speak headed to Miami, their last stop before Port-au-Prince. Let's continue to keep them in prayer. Electricity is sporadic but we'll be updating as we hear from them! In the mean time, we'll be posting a daily devotion that we can read as a family, whether in Haiti or Honolulu, we can meditate on the Word of God as an 'ohana.

Q and A with Matt

Q: Is this your first mission trip?
A: Yup.

Q: If you could describe the way you're feeling as you prepare for this mission trip in one word, what would it be?
A: Nervous.

Q: What are you most excited about?
A: I've always liked to study human behavior. I'm most excited to meet the people, to learn more about their culture. I want to to be inspired by their outlook on life because ours is so different here.

Leading By Example

My wife, Tara, and I are so blessed to have four amazing daughters! Early on we had decided to focus our outreach efforts on helping children whenever possible. I have to tell you that there is no reward, on this earth, bigger than having your own children willingly helping others in need. Be it working on donation drives for the Children’s hospital, loading semi trailers heading to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, or working at an orphanage in China, we always participate as a family. Although, due to the unrest in Haiti, they will not be making the trip this time, my participation is made possible by the unwaivering support of my family. I want them to know, especially Tara, how much I truly appreciate all of their help in preparing for this mission trip to Haiti.

Since I was a little boy, Haiti has been a part of me. I was probably four years old, when our preacher at a small church in Baton Rouge, LA., heard the call and became a missionary to Haiti. I remember him bringing back pics, and showing them on the old slide projector. It was the little kids that stuck with me! It didn't matter how little they had... they all had huge smiles on their faces. The devastating earthquake in February brought back memories of those pics, and I wondered if any of those kids were one of the 230,000+ that were killed that day? When the opportunity to join the Hawaii to Haiti team came up, I could not say no. Seeing all of the kids, who lost their mommies and Daddies in the earthquake, running around in the hundreds of new crocs that were so graciously donated, I know that my life will be changed forever...and I can't wait!

I feel honored to be part of this very dynamic team from our church, New Hope Diamond Head. Their willingness to jump in and pull this whole thing together, in such a short timeframe, shows tremendous dedication and their true Love for all of God's people! I am stoked to spend the next ten days with these guys and gals, because I have seen this group in action and they know how to... Git 'er Dun! - James

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Circus Act

It seems like there's this ongoing battle in my mind, a circus act of trying to juggle the responsibilities of being a responsible husband, reliable worker, full time artist, clean house, laundry, and cook dinner all @ the same time. Within all this mayhem of stuff and hoopla. I loose perspective on what’s really important. There's definitely something stirring up in my spirit. I need to set my priorities straight and return back to when I first fell in love with God. Out of sight out of mind is my motto, and the less time I spend with God, I loose sight of his perfect plan he has for me and my wife. I fall deeper into my own little world trying to build a temporary kingdom that will crumble and fade to dust one day.

Seeking first His Kingdom - Kristof

Haiti, Here Comes the Aloha!

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6

That verse that is so me! My mother and stepfather trained me to be a loving person of God from a very young age. Always happy on the outside, fun spirited and loving I was. Somewhere my path was changed and I fell away from the Lord. Inside I heard his calls to me but chose to ignore them, not for just a bit, but for a long time. Twenty- two years to be exact. My life even though was full of things, I was empty. I tried everything I could to fill that emptiness, but nothing worked. Until two years ago when my seventeen year old son said Dad, "I think you should come and check out the church I go to, I think you would like it." So I said why not! Well from the first service I knew I was on the path back home. The Lord spoke clearly and louder than ever before. He said to me " I've been waiting, come and do my work ". Since that day I raised my hand at NHDH my path has become straighter and clearer than ever before. I heard every message so clearly. To get out there and do what I was called to do, Obey the Lord. He then gave me a vision to work with the Homeless in the community, so I listened this time, and boy did he open the gates. Since then I have been doing my best to serve him. I then heard about a mission to Haiti, and that my skills could be used for this trip. I thought wow, this would be a great thing to do for God, our Church and the people of Haiti. When I heard we would be able to help children, that just touched my heart and sealed the deal.

When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these" ~ Mark 10:14

I am so grateful and so blessed to be apart of such a wonderful team and an awesome Church. I have never been out of the country and on any type of mission. I am so excited to see what the Lord has in store for us, our families, and our church in mission field and here at home in paradise. We are so lucky to live in Hawaii. So Haiti, here comes the Aloha!

If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing ~ Corinthians 13:3

Serving to Glorify Him - John M. Gestrich

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Life As A House

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."--C.S. Lewis

It's not really hard to imagine my life, my soul as a house. When I first asked Jesus into my heart, I knew that there would be great change because not only could I feel it, I saw it instantly. But, after over 12 years of change & remodeling, somehow, I was beginning to feel that God had taken a hiatus from His work on me. The "construction site" had seemed so silent the last couple years. I was beginning to wonder what was happening. Last year, in particular, felt like an eternity of waiting for the architect to come and tell me what the hold up was. I waited in anticipation, then waited some more, twittling my thumbs. It soon turned to anxiety. Was I doing something wrong? Did He even see me? Hear me?

Fast forward to the last several months. God met me in a prayer session late last year. Through the words of a brother in Christ, God confirmed that He saw me. He saw that I was faithfully waiting and to hold on...He WAS working, even though I couldn't see or hear Him audibly. As those words of promise filtered through my soul, I could finally see Him working again. Just because the construction wasn't as loud as it used to be, it didn't mean He wasn't around. He is working on the fine details of His palace of my life and will continue to do so until I go Home to Him.

And what do you know? One of those construction projects happen to be going to Haiti. What?!? So Cool!!! I get to go to Haiti and work with children and get dirty and get to go with an awesome team of really amazing people?!? This is hardly work at all! It is a stinkin' incredible opportunity to see, yet again, the glory and miracle of God in our lives (can you tell I'm excited?) :-P. Who would have known "construction" would be so...well, great?

Abba Father, You know just how to bless your child. You keep me on my toes but You are much too fun to stay away from. I am forever grateful. AMEN!! - Liz