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...


video

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...