2 Haiti 4 Him

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

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bring Back His Donkey

This past week was full.

Full of busyness- house cleaning, laundry hanging, food making, dish washing, story sharing, trip taking… but ya know what?

I love doing hospitality!

I love meeting visiting professors and watching them give sacrificially of their time, talents, resources, gifts; I thoroughly enjoy hearing about their families and ministries back home; I am SO blessed that our children get to know these people from all over the world who love Jesus and serve Him with their lives…  it is truly a JOY!

I also love our times in church or when we come together for chapel here.  The way Haitian people worship is refreshing.  It's beautiful.  It's powerful.  When they sing it FILLS the space.  When they clap it ECHOES throughout the room and out to the streets. When they pack out a church service… they PACK OUT a church service!

With all that is going on here, inside my home, its easy to spend nearly an entire day inside, especially when visiting professors are here and there is SO much to do.   Getting out to church on Sunday and to chapel each week is a blessing.  

Being amongst God's people, broken and in need of a Savior, just like me, feels right.  

Coming together to worship Him is such an important part of being a follower of Christ… with all of our faults, despite our differences, because of what HE has done and continues to do in our lives, we worship. 


I love how Friday chapel is a constant for us.. not just to get out and about, to see students and to feel community, to lead worship (something both Phil and I really enjoy doing)- all of these are a HUGE blessing- but most importantly because God always meets me there.  In chapel.  He always gives me something that I need to hear. Something that helps me to grow.  I love it.

I was recently challenged, very deeply, in chapel.  Challenged by a message that Vilmer preached this past week; a message that cut right to the core of my being… 

and I am not only challenged, but I am encouraged to share this message with you.

Two weeks ago, Larry Lain, a visiting professor who grew up as a missionary kid here in Haiti, spoke about how "the main thing is that the main thing remain the main thing".  

Many of you may be familiar with that phrase!

So what is the main thing? 


When the Pharisees asked Jesus what THE most important commandment is, He responded with two things.  In short- Love God. Love people.  

THE most important thing that we can do as followers of Jesus Christ is to LOVE God with all that we are, which in turn, leads us to love others.

Vilmer continued on with this, digging a bit deeper into what it means to TRULY love others.  He headed straight for 1 John 4:7-21.  The word love can be found 14 times in just the first 6 verses!  John had quite a bit to say about love… and here, in this passage, he stresses some very important truths.

Here are a few things we can glean from the text and what I received from Vilmer's message:

If we love God, we WILL love others.

Love is the "glue" that holds together faith IN God and obedience TO God.

Righteousness has everything to do with OTHERS… we are NOT righteous if we don't love our brothers and sisters.

John uses the same Greek word "LOVE" for how God loves us and how we should love others.  We are commanded to love AS HE LOVES.  Unconditionally.

NOT  "I love you because…"  BUT  "I love you EVEN THOUGH…"

So, Emily…  what's the whole "bring back his donkey" title of your post, you ask?

Well, its one thing to SAY that we actually love. And its EASY to love those who love us, those who we get along with, those who are easy to love…

but the reality is, we don't have to be TOLD to love those people.  We just do it.  
Because its easy.

It's those people who have wronged us. cheated us. lied to us. hurt us. owe us. frustrate us…

THOSE are the people that John is talking about here. 

 In verses 20-21 he says, "if anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God who he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother."

Hate may seem like a powerful word here, but here is the harsh reality:  if we aren't really LOVING them, then we are HATING them.  There is no in between.  We are called to LOVE.  And nothing short of that is acceptable.  

In Exodus 23:4-5, God's people are commanded to show this kind of love… "If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him."

THIS is LOVE.  Not only loving those who love you, but showing love to those who, not just don't like you, but hate you! Seeing past one another's faults, beyond our hurts, despite the pain… and simply LOVE.  

Our own needs aside. Against everything the world tells us to do. Sacrificial. LOVE.

How did God show us LOVE?


"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

And through that sacrifice, we can live through Him.  We CAN love through Him.

In fact, we are REQUIRED to love because of God's love.

How?  How do we do this?  

There is more to glean from John's text...

"...He has given us His Spirit." 

If we are truly followers of Christ, He abides IN us.  His Spirit enables us. THAT is how we love.

I don't know about you, but I want to live THIS kind of love.  
I want to live the kind of love that causes me to bring back that donkey.  
To go out of my way to show love to people, even people who have hurt me.  
No matter what.

Can I do it on my own?


But I'm SO incredibly thankful that He doesn't ask me to. 

Whose donkey might He be asking you to bring back?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Month in a Post...

Where do I begin?

I know.. I know… its been almost a WHOLE month since my last post!  (Thankful that Haylie has been filling in the gaps!)

I can't even use the excuse that I have been busy with classes (the semester ended.. A MONTH AGO!)

I can't say that we haven't had internet (its been GREAT for a few months now!)

The only thing I can say is that I have been enjoying these last few weeks and now that things have settled in to the new semester and life is "back to normal"  I am SO excited to share what has been going on with the Heckmans in Haiti…

and pictures always seem to be the BEST way to get that done!!!

So here goes…

On Christmas day we celebrated together as a family- having our standard Christmas breakfast of cinnamon rolls…

(Pepper loved Christmas too… what dog doesn't LOVE to rip apart wrapping paper!?!?)

… and then we hit the road with the Gross family!

First, we went to the Potters House orphanage to deliver gifts for Bud and Jane Dennington!  What a huge blessing to hear those kids sing Christmas carols to us!!

The second half of our day was… well… a bit more adventurous!  After visiting the orphanage, we went with the Gross family to a little neighborhood where a Christmas party would take place.  The man who organized that party has been caring for about 40 kids in the neighborhood and wanted to have a special celebration!  Steve prepared a Bible story and we took goody bags and juice that they made up, and planned to spend some time helping to make the party extra special!

What made the first part of this second half of the day adventurous was getting our truck stuck in a sewage ditch!  The roads in Haiti can be VERY narrow, and when Phil tried to avoid a motorcycle parked on the side of the road, the ditch was impossible to miss!

What is SO awesome is that, thanks to the HUGE amount of help that arrived within seconds of getting stuck… we were out and on our way in less than 5 minutes!  THAT was a blessing!  I love how Haitian people live in community… they are quick to lend a helping hand when someone is in need!  :)

The second part of our adventure happened when- instead of 40 kids showing up to his party- over 100 kids arrived… hungry and ready for the festivities!  We frantically took apart goody bags and broke apart cookies and thanks be to God (it truly felt like He made the food stretch WAY beyond what it should have been!)… everyone was cared for!  And over 100 kids heard the message of Jesus' birth and how much He loves them!

Its moments like these that make it worth every trial and hardship we might face!

On December 26th, we had a great time celebrating Christmas with our OMS family and guests!  Everyone came over to our house and we shared wonderful desserts and finger foods, exchanged gifts in White Elephant fashion, and even the kids had their own exchange!  It was a great time of fellowship and fun!

Phil celebrated his 36th birthday on the 28th (funny thing... he already thought he was 36!  I don't EVER have that problem of thinking I'm older than I am… I'm still in denial that I'm in my 30s!)

We took him to the Christoff- a beautiful hotel in Cap Haitien, with a pool and restaurant...

(THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU Northridge Church for blessing all of us with that very special time at the Christoff!  What a great surprise!  We are BEYOND grateful!) 

and then I made him homemade chocolate peanut butter dessert and ice cream and we celebrated again at the Ayars house…  (as you can see they made him some beautifully sentimental party hats too!)

On the last Sunday of December, Phil, the Aberles, their guests- the Myers family, the Gross family and Elida all took the hike up to Coup a David church to join Enick in their end of the year church celebration!   (Sadly, Haylie was running a fever so we had to stay back.  Thankfully, the next day, after much rest and some meds, she was feeling much better!)  The church was packed and Phil said the service was wonderful!  Glad he was able to join Enick and take part in his special day!

The next day, on December 30th, we headed to the Cap airport to pick up our family!!!!  My parents and sister and Phil's mom came for an 8 day visit!  We could not have been more excited!  We had LOTS of great moments together...

We celebrated Christmas on New Years Eve...

We went to visit the oldest Wesleyan mission on the island, near Port Margot.  Cory and Kristi Theade have been working in Haiti for 15 years and Cory is doing some great agricultural work here!  He gave us a tour of the many plants and trees he has growing at the mission, and shared some of the great benefits they have.   Needless to say, Phil was VERY interested!  I knew a trip like that would be fun for both him and my dad!  We ALL enjoyed our time with them… and thankful that the Grosses joined us for that too!

We also had a great time at the Cormier beach and enjoyed a delicious meal there… as always!

We took them down to the new boat ramp, just a few minutes away from the seminary!  Its BEAUTIFUL!

It will be used as a stop for Royal Caribbean ferry boats… the cruise ship will dock at Labadee and then people can take a ride to this location, and even go on to the Citadel from here, by vehicle.  It is set to be opened in October of this year...

(Above is Phil with the security guys on staff there)

On Sunday, we took them to Flavil Church (which is ALWAYS a blessing) and then we invited over our tutors, Leme and Simeon, for our Sunday evening dinner and game night!

We had a BLAST, as always!  And it was so great to be able to introduce them to our family and for our family to meet them.  We are so thankful for their friendship and help in learning Creole.  They are SO VERY dear to us!

What a great time we had with our family and what a huge blessing it was to us.  Nothing beats having friends and family visit us here… to be able to share our new life and ministry with those closest to us.

The day our family left, we jumped back into ministry- in full swing!  Group Publishing sent Jobe Lewis, from Lifetree Adventures, to see the seminary and meet with us and the staff here.  We have planned our very first mission trip with them for June, and we are so excited about this partnership- and so are they!  This trip will be a combined youth outreach/retreat and service projects around the seminary grounds.  We will be hosting this team of 16 for a week and praying about future trips in the years to come!  God has definitely opened a door and we are eager to see what God has in store!

Jobe left on Thursday and the visiting professors began arriving on Friday!  Cleaned the house, made the beds, planned the menus, ordered the food and we are all set to go for four weeks of hospitality!

I LOVE having people in our home and caring for them!  I am SO excited about the upcoming semester!  I CAN'T WAIT to begin doing more youth ministry training!  I'm REALLY looking forward to getting back to leading worship in chapel each week!  I am BEYOND happy to see the smiling faces of the students, to hear the laughter and the singing, to listen to stories from the classrooms, to be blessed by the messages as the VPs share in chapel…

I LOVE THIS PLACE!  SO thankful that God has brought us here!  SO ready for all that God wants to do in us and through us in 2014!

SO grateful for all of you!!!