2 Haiti 4 Him

The Heckman family serving the Lord in Haiti at Emmaus Biblical Seminary

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fall is Here!

So we realize that, theoretically... on paper... its Fall.   But for the first time in my 30+ years of life, I have had no real indication that Fall is anywhere to be found!

This week has been in the upper 80's and low 90's with evenings that barely dipped below 80 degrees...
in fact, we have had two of the hottest nights since we arrived just this past week!

Fall is a favorite time of year for me... 10 years working in a retail coffee business helped to make it even more special...  Pumpkin spice coffee and cappuccinos, chai lattes, fall mugs, spiced apple cider, pumpkin crisp and bread mixes, candy corn.  And then there's always cooler weather and breaking out the sweatshirts... and evenings wrapped in a blanket reading by the fire... You get the idea!

I have to say that our transition to Haiti has been amazing and our whole family has adjusted really well to our new home... but I am realizing NOW how much we take advantage of the things that are just always the same.

As I thought about that truth, it reminded me of an even greater truth about God... how often do we take advantage of the seasons, surroundings, families, blessings that God has given us... the things that are just always there?

What about this...

How often do we take even our FAITH for granted?

Friday morning in chapel Matt spoke on what it truly means to be a Christian.  He began his message with a rhetorical question...

The Christian: Committed to an ideology or transformed by the power of the Gospel?

When you read that statement you may be thinking that the obvious answer to that question would be the latter of the two.... a follower of Christ is committed to being transformed!

But if we really stop and think about this statement... is it REALLY true?

Let's stop for a minute and break that down...

An ideology is a system of ideas or beliefs... a person who is committed to an ideology is following the doctrines or customs of that particular group.

Although we may say that we believe that transformation is the desire of the Christian, how many of us are simply going through the motions of doctrine or customs... attending church on Sunday, going to a Bible study or youth group, reciting the Apostles Creed, singing hymns or worship songs from memory...

Don't get me wrong, all of these things are good things in and of themselves, but if that is what its all about, we are missing it!  This is NOT the Gospel!

The apostle Paul spoke against this very kind of "faith"...  he lived most of his life committed to an ideology. One day, on the road to Damascus, he was confronted by Jesus and he was radically changed... transformed by the power of the Gospel.  It was no longer about the customs, laws, rituals, but all about allowing the Holy Spirit to come into his life and change him from the inside out.  Paul didn't settle for a one-time experience with Jesus... he chose to dedicate his life to Him!  He understood the great need for the world to know of that same transforming power... that God desires to have His Kingdom come on EARTH as it is in heaven.

There is SO much more to life than an ideology... there is so much more to faith than just going through the motions.  I will even go so far as to say, because the Bible clearly states, that a Christian cannot JUST be committed to an ideology we MUST be transformed.

We miss the message of Jesus when we try to live for an ideology.  And more importantly, we miss our opportunity to show a world in need the truth of the Gospel message!

Here are the questions that all of us should be asking ourselves...

Have we taken advantage of the "faith" that we have always been "doing" instead of living out our faith through the Spirit?

Did we settle for a religion instead of a relationship?

Are we committed to an ideology or are we truly being transformed by the power of the Gospel?  

Our hearts desire is NOT to bring ideology to Haiti but to live transformed lives and to show others how they too can be transformed.

I sure do miss Fall... but at the same time, and in the same breath, I can say that I KNOW that God desires for me to be here and I wouldn't exchange this opportunity for anything.

Please continue to pray for us as we seek His will and desire for our work here in Haiti.

Thank you!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A GREAT week... AND an Eventful Day!

It has been a week since I last posted... I can't believe how quickly time flies by!

Things are going really well here!  (Today was an adventure though...  I will get to that in a bit!)

We have been here for 28 days now and it feels more like home with each passing day...

We have experienced a variety of church services...

The first picture was taken in the church in Vaudreuil (Dr. Lucner's church) and the second in Flaville (Bellony's church)...

We've had a WONDERFUL time getting to know the visiting professors who have come to teach here...

This is our kids with Bob and Launa, originally from Ohio, but now living in San Antonio.  Bob is teaching Pastoral Theology here at the seminary.  They are staying with us until this coming Saturday.  We will miss having company in the house... and they have been such a huge help with laundry, dishes, cleaning... and the kids have REALLY enjoyed playing games with them...

And Junior joined us one night too... it was lots of fun!

With having guests here, I have done quite a bit of cooking and baking (pretty much entirely from scratch.. which is all new for me!)...

Homemade pizza is an extra special treat... and the Cokes are even more extra special-er... I'm pretty sure that's not a word, but I'm still using it!!  Coke bottles are HUGE here (as you can see!) and really cheap (around a quarter a piece!)

We are continuing to lead worship in chapel every Friday, receive tutoring three days a week, and the kids are just about to finish their third week of school!  We have been sweating A LOT, have seen a few tarantulas, lots of lizards and frogs- inside and outside of our house!- and we've killed bugs and rats that are WAY bigger than they should be...

And the cool thing is...
Life here is beginning to feel pretty normal!

BUT TODAY... well today was definitely THE MOST eventful day that we have had here as of yet... and one I'm perfectly OK with NOT repeating!

A couple of days ago, Haylie started complaining about a pain in her toe... and yesterday, it got much worse. After 3 different people, and one dog, stepped on that same toe, the pain (needless-to-say) got more intense!

Yesterday, at our weekly prayer meeting in Vaudreuil, Haylie expressed her pain and discomfort to Elida Walton, our new friend and fellow OMS missionary working as a nurse at the Bethesda Clinic.  Elida called Dr. Rodney (a wonderful Haitian doctor who runs the clinic, loves the Lord and is active in the local church right there next to the clinic) and TODAY we had an appointment to have him check it out!

After a sleepless night and some ibuprofen that didn't seem to touch her pain, we drove Haylie over for him to take a look this morning!

WELL...  we went into the clinic and took a seat to wait for the doctor to prep the room for us...

(Today was baby check-up day.. so there were LOTS of adorable little babies there!)

(Haylie looks calm here, but she was VERY nervous... and rightfully so!  She was getting a surgical procedure... in HAITI!!!)

At first... Haylie wanted to watch as Dr. Rodney started working...

 But very shortly after, she changed her mind  (as you can see the book in her face!!!)

Once the anesthesia kicked in, she was able to relax a bit... and after quite a bit of work, and a few stitches...

She is well on her way to recovery (...the happy face above proves that the anesthesia was working well!)  Praise God for the Bethesda Clinic and for the doctors and nurses who took such good care of Haylie!  Please pray that Haylie will have a full recovery and NO MORE infection!  

As I was reflecting on this morning's activities this afternoon, and thinking about the times of prayer we had individually and together this morning before we left and before we went into the room at the clinic (THANK YOU Bob and Launa and Deb VanAbele for joining us in prayer times for her.. they were very special!)...  I was reminded of Paul's words in 2 Corinthians...

In chapter 1 verses 3 and 4 he writes this:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in ALL our afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God..."

I love how there are NO limitations to God's comfort for us!  No matter how BIG or small our situation, struggle, or difficulty may be, God wants to be our comfort in and through that time.  Isn't that awesome!?!?  

That's how active God is in our lives... That's how much He LOVES us!

Haylie felt God's presence with her this morning... and so did we!  The peace that overwhelmed our hearts, the prayers of God's people that surrounded us today, the physician who, while caring for our little girl (she will always be my little girl!), sang hymns of praise to Jesus, and the beautiful card from the sweetest little 4 year old girl we know (Lily Ayars)!...

God showed up and comforted us today, in so many ways!  He is such a GOOD God... worthy of praise and thanks...
My heart is full today!!

2 Haiti 4 Him

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bondye Beni Nou!

This is one of, if not, THE most common phrase in churches and among Christians here in Haiti.  It's also very common in the U.S. too...

God Bless You!

When I think about God's blessings I get overwhelmed.... overwhelmed with how much God blesses us, even when we don't even realize or acknowledge Him.

Today, at prayer meeting, we went around the room and each shared a praise, lifting up words of thanks to God for how He is at work in our lives...

I LOVE how uniquely God works.  He is a God that meets us where we are, knows our every fear, struggle, weakness, insecurity, problem, need...

He comes alongside of us and shows us that He is walking with us through these very things and that He will never leave us.

These are just SOME of the words that came up during our time of praise together:

answered prayers

Stop and take this in for a minute...  this is a reflection of how God was it work in the lives of a small group of people sitting in a living room in Haiti, in just one week!

Now think about how many people there are in the world, and have been in the world, over the course of history....

you get the idea...

God's blessings are vast, they are amazing, they are personal!

With all of that being said... I need to tell you something. Today was a ROUGH day.  I felt like I couldn't do anything right, and my responses to the difficulties of the day were not what I wished they would have been.

This afternoon, as I sat in prayer meeting, I was completely overwhelmed with emotion because of how God blesses me, despite me.  That even when I am not faithful, He is.  Even when I am not a reflection of Him, He STILL LOVES me.  It's unbelievably humbling.

The reality though is this...   when life gets tough and struggles come during our days...  God wants nothing more than for us to run to Him and lay it all down.  His desire is for us to cast all of our cares on Him and let them go.  ONLY He has the ability to free us from our burdens and He is truly the ONLY One that we can trust completely....

Today after we shared our praises we did a study in Psalm 2 and the words that jumped off the page to me were the closing words in verse 12....

"Blessed are all who take refuge in Him."

We are blessed when we allow Him to be our strength, our salvation.

The kids are currently memorizing one of the greatest passages of Scripture (in my opinion!), Psalm 91.  This chapter has come up OVER and OVER again in recent weeks.  I feel like God has given us this chapter to hold onto tightly... and more recently I can see why...

Life in Haiti is not easy... and God knew that.  He knew that we would need to be reminded of His faithfulness and His presence, of His protection and His peace.

The Psalmist writes in verses 1-4:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. 
He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge; 
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

May we always be aware of God's blessings... and know that when life gets hard, we are blessed when we find refuge in Him.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Life at Emmaus!

Today was a great end to a great week...

There is so much that goes on in a week here that it's hard to capture ALL of it in words, and yet I wish that I could!  Instead, I can at least capture some visuals of what our life is like here at Emmaus... (and pictures are worth a thousand words anyway right!?!) 

So here goes...

Because everything is made from scratch here, meals take a bit longer than what we were used to in the States.  Going out to the grocery store and picking up a box of cereal is just NOT really an option... and IF there is cereal it is 1) expensive and 2) either cornflakes, cornflakes, or.... cornflakes!   So, we make do!

With that being said,  I have been making LOTS of bread from scratch (AND I have had my fair share of not-so-good experiences with baking bread I might add!)  It is definitely a learning experience!

One thing that I have really enjoyed making is homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast...

Even though it takes longer for each meal, we have really enjoyed working together in the kitchen and everyone chips in so that the job can get done.  It has been great for us as a family!  Each morning we have breakfast together and do family devotions and prayer time.  Every lunch during the week we eat Haitian food together from the seminary kitchen, and dinners are usually a pretty big to-do as well!

Another meal that our family really enjoyed the other night was sloppy joes!  We order beef from a Haitian family and once we place an order, they butcher the meat and let us know when it's ready!  It is really one of the only ways that we can safely eat beef here... and we are so thankful for their family!  


Fried plantains and militon (the fruit above that looks kind of like apple slices) are also common food here!  Militon is plentiful here and is very versatile.  It takes on the flavor of anything you cook it with, so it makes a great filler.  It's also great served raw with ranch dressing (which is something you cannot easily find here... but we brought it with us as a special treat!)

Our produce is bought by a wonderful Haitian woman who works here at the seminary.  We give her a grocery list each week and she heads to the market to buy it for all of us missionaries here.  She is able to get the best prices and knows what to look for!  It is also a way that we can help to bless her and her family.  

Once she delivers our produce, we bleach everything (to be sure it is free of any possible parasites or diseases).  We eat LOTS of fruits and veggies here, so it's important that we make sure it's safe!

The kids started school this week and are really loving their new curriculum.  School starts around 7am each day and wraps up just before lunch!  

Every Wednesday we get together with the missionaries from the Vaudreuil campus for prayer meeting.  We are studying the book of Psalms together and spend time in worship and prayer for one another.  We take turns hosting it and this past week it was next door, at the Ayars house.  Phil and I led worship, Matt taught from Psalm 2 and we shared praises and prayer requests.  What an uplifting time it will be for us each week!

The kids also have some great play time together while we meet.  There are 15 missionary kids here now, between the two campuses, so there is plenty of play going on! :)

Haylie had a BLAST trying to teach Noelle how to ride a ripstick (or as Matt calls it- a "wiggle board"!) 

Noelle is NOT going to give up on it either... I'm certain that in a few days, she will be a pro!  And I'm excited that Haylie has made a new friend too :)  

For Biga's 3rd birthday, Matt got the man across the street from the seminary to bring over his horse so the kids could all take turns riding it!  (We all laughed at how silly we must have looked to that Haitian man... we were sure he was thinking "so you want me to bring over a horse to ride... for fun?"... these horses are used for carrying heavy loads like charcoal... NOT for kiddie rides at a birthday party!)

Sam and Biga going for a birthday ride...

and Haylie, who was very excited to be able to ride a horse again!!

Each Friday, we lead worship alongside of Haitian students and the student life team here at Emmaus.  It is a favorite time for us each week!  On Wednesdays, Phil and I work on music together, then every Thursday afternoon we practice in the chapel with the worship team for Friday's worship.  

Friday's chapel services are in English, so it has been wonderful to be able to jump right in, even though we don't know the language very well yet...

And speaking of language...

Two of the pastors from the student life team, Pastor Simeon and Pastor Lèmè (in the picture above), are tutoring us in language.  Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon, we work with them on learning Haitian Creole.  It has been great and we are learning so much already! They are great teachers!  It is also something that we are doing together as a family, which has been really nice!

Nou vle aprann pale kreyòl byen vit!  (We want to learn to speak Creole quickly!)  

Tomorrow, Bill, the visiting professor who has been living with us the past two weeks, is heading back to Northern Ireland and the next round of visiting professors will be coming to the campus to teach.  It has been a pleasure to have Bill stay with us and to get to know him.  Please pray for safe travels for him tomorrow as he returns home and for the other professors as they are traveling here.  We are excited to have the opportunity to open up our home once again for these next couple weeks!

As you can tell, we have been busy!...  But we are loving every minute of it and God continues to confirm in our hearts that we are exactly where we are supposed to be!  

Before I close I want to show you one more picture from this week...

Below is a rainbow that appeared in front of the mountain behind our house on Monday evening.  I have seen lots of rainbows, but every time I see one, I have to stop and take it in!  They are so beautiful and are such a great reminder to us of God's faithfulness...

And yet... most Haitians view rainbows much differently!   Are you ready for this...

Voodoo (the religion that SO many Haitian people practice) teaches that if you point at a rainbow, your finger will fall off! (Crazy isn't it?!?!)  They believe that rainbows are a living spirit and they are afraid...   What God created as a promise to His people of His faithfulness has been distorted.  It breaks my heart that so many people here don't know the truth, that they live in fear of pointing at the very thing that God has given us as a gift.

When we see rainbows in Haiti (which we have seen almost, if not, every time we have come here...) we are reminded of the need to preach the Gospel... to help others understand God's love and desire for the people of Haiti to be free from the bondage of voodoo and to enter into a loving relationship with Him.  

And the truth of the matter is that no matter where we are living, that same need is present.  There are people in all of our neighborhoods, families, communities, and workplaces that are in bondage to sin... people that desperately need to know the truth of God's faithfulness and love.  We just need to be willing to share what we have with others.

May we constantly be reminded of God's faithfulness to us and may He stir in our hearts a desire to lead others to Him and to live as His children!

2 Haiti 4 Him.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A NEW understanding of BIG!

SO this post will be SHORT and SWEET  (actually it is ANYTHING but sweet...)

The other day I posted a picture of a big (at least I thought it was at the time) spider that I killed on our porch...

In case you forgot what it looked like... here it is:


I now have a NEW understanding of what BIG really is!  I call this picture...


That was the tarantula that was on our door the other night... 

and that is Junior's hand holding a TINY little quarter a few inches in front of the HUGE eight legged arachnid (which actually makes the quarter look a little larger than it really is)...

I'm guessing he was about 8 inches in diameter!!! YIKES!

A welcome I would have preferred NOT to have... but certainly not the last time we will see one of these I'm sure!  

Just had to share our special moment with you :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Are we willing to be God's people?

Friday's chapel service was REALLY good.

The question that Dr. Vilmer left us with at the end of his message was this...

Are we willing to be God's people?

I would guess that most followers of Christ would immediately say "Yes" to that statement without even thinking...

As he said those words, I thought  of course I am willing...

BUT here is where it gets a bit sticky...

God says in Leviticus 19:1-2, "Be holy, because I am holy."  He isn't saying do your best to become as holy as you can, nor is he saying to act holy... He is telling us that our BEING should be HOLY.

In other words, if we are to be God's people, then holiness MUST become our nature. What we believe about God and what He desires us to be is not JUST a matter of belief... it should be our way of life!

This changes the game...

What it really comes down to is this...  if we have a poor understanding of who God is, we will never truly become like Him.  Until we grasp His character and His nature, ours can never be a reflection of His.  But if we are to be His people, not only should we understand how He desires for us to live, but we also need to LIVE it.

Paul expresses this same idea in the New Testament, but uses different words.

Galatians 5:6b says this, ''The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."

We can say that we have faith, but if our actions don't flow from God's love, then our faith doesn't count for anything.

We could even put it this way, "LOVE, because I am LOVE."  Just like holiness for God's people is not optional, LOVE is not either.... and LOVE is the key to Holiness...

God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son...  John 3:16

God demonstrated His love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us... Romans 5:8

We love because He first loved us...1 John 4:19

If you love me, you will keep my  commandments...  John 14:15

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets...  Matthew 22:36-40

So here is the connection...

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 says this, "and may the Lord make you increase and abound in LOVE for one another and for all...  SO THAT He may establish your hearts blameless in HOLINESS before our God and Father..."

The key to Holiness is Love...

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him."  1 John 4:7-9

Love isn't easy... in fact, God's love is demonstrated for us in self-sacrifice, servanthood, obedience, humility...

So here is the question we should be asking ourselves every day-

"Are we willing to be God's people?"