Someday I am going to start my own business.
Someday I am going to get back in shape.
Someday I am going to read that book.
Someday I am going to make a difference with my life.
Someday I am going to finish my education.
The problem with someday is that someday becomes another someday which becomes another someday which becomes…
You see there are only seven days in a week and “someday” is not one of them. What are you waiting for? All you have is today. You have no guarantee of someday. So why not decide that someday is today?
Consider this your nudge.
So yesterday I offered the first of three lessons from my recent time in Haiti that I am reflecting on now that I am home.
The first is this: I lead an over-privileged life for which I am often under-grateful. Read on for the next two:
2. It is in giving you receive
I headed into Haiti because there were some things I thought I was to give. Things like: some mentoring with a young Pastor; coaching and strategic planning with church leaders; advancing a water purification project; taking a micro-financing concept to the next level and a teaching to deliver in a church worship service.
And I did give all that…but I must confess the people there gave me far more than I had to offer them. They freely gave me of their joy…a joy that was infectious and so un-attached to circumstances. They gave me of their faith…a faith that fully expects God to come through with what they need to get through the day – literally what they need to get through the day. And they gave me the wonderful gift of community…a place where I was given love, acceptance, and appreciation in spades. I came home (in the words of my wife) spent, scruffy and “stanky”…but oh so full of peace and joy and contentment.
Was it worth missing a flight and having to drive 9 hours over bone-jarring roads? Was it worth trying to sleep through steamy tropical summer nights with no A.C.? Was it worth rising with the sun and then going non-stop until dark-thirty? Was it worth a steady diet of rice, beans and either goat or fish that arrive on your plate – whole and stare at you as you dig in? Yep…it was a bargain. In the words of Jesus: “Give, and it will be given to you”.
3. I can do more
In a Sunday church service while I was there, our partners honored me with a plaque to say thanks for all Cypress Meadows has done for them. A very kind and unexpected acknowledgement. An additional honoring came from a group of college students I met up with along the way who are interning at a mission for the summer. They enquired as to why I was in Haiti. So I spoke of the school, the water filtration systems, the chicken farm, the micro-loan project and they had a hard time wrapping their minds around how a church that averages 500 people on any given Sunday could pull all this off. And it must have struck a chord with them for they began giving me the “rock-star” treatment…but oddly rather than feeling like a “rock-star” I was a little humbled and haunted. Because I know the truth…and the truth is I could do more, a lot more.
I’ve just spent the last five days and four nights in St. Louis du Nord, Haiti.
The time spent there is still being processed…but there are three things I will be ruminating on in the days to come.
I will mention one today and then a couple more tomorrow:
1. I lead an over-privileged life for which I am often under-grateful
- The average Haitian has a daily caloric intake of about 1,500 (1,300 is considered minimal for life) – I was able to help a young boy who was in tears, doubled over in hunger pains after not eating for a couple of days. There are days I think I must throw away more food than he will have to eat.
- More than 60% of Haitians do not have access to clean drinking water – I am embarrassed to think of how much water I literally pour down the drain. On a positive note, I was delighted to meet with 100 families that Cypress has put a water filtration system in their homes and hear that for the first time in their lives they have potable water. Yea God!
- 80% of Haitian homes have a per capita annual income of less than $100 – because of the generosity of some Cypress people I was able to help a Haitian woman start a micro-enterprise and I met with church leaders, with whom we are partnering, to offer micro-loans so other entrepreneurs can have the same opportunity. Additionally, I lugged three suitcases… each packed to the gills with 50 pounds of new and like-new clothes to give away- thanks again to the wonderful people of Cypress. What knocked the wind out of me is the realization that if I tracked the money I squander on junk…I probably could, instead be doubling the annual income of people living in abject poverty.
- Four out of five Haitians are illiterate and no single church can educate the whole county, but we can do our part…I got to visit the school where 300 of the 400 students get an education because they are sponsored by Cypress Meadowers. This is the ticket out of abject poverty for those fortunate enough to get an education, especially for girls and young women, and it is working in St Louis du Nord!
Sometimes life doesn’t work out like you planned.
Sometimes things don’t go as you had hoped.
Sometimes you just have got to say: “It is what it is…time for Plan B”.
Well, I am in St. Louis du Nord, Haiti right now working Plan B. My trustee assistant, Alana skillfully put together my trip itinerary on short notice so I could spend a few days pouring into the leaders of our partner church and school here; three car trips and three plane rides…no biggie! Problem was the schedule was so tight there was little room for margin of error, and so the 40 minute sit on the tarmac in Miami threw a monkey wrench into the deal which caused me to arrive at plane #3 just as they closed the cabin door, and no amount of begging or bribing could get them to open it back up. So…I was faced with either waiting 24 hours in lovely downtown Port au Prince or hire a tap-tap (Haitian taxi service) and embark on a beautiful, but bone-jarring 6 to 7 hour ride by the beaches and through the mountains. Since my time here is short and my agenda full…hello tap-tap and hello jarred bones.
The important thing is I am safe, here, and work is about to commence.
And you understand this because no one gets through life without a Plan B or two. Sometimes companies downsize… sometimes spouses break their vows…sometimes kids make bad decisions…sometimes hearts break…sometimes dreams go awry…sometimes things just don’t work out like we had planned. So sometimes you just got to say: “It is what it is…time for Plan B” God often does some of his greatest work in Plan B…just ask Abraham, Joseph, Mary, Paul, Esther and just about anybody else in the Bible.
So how about a celebratory fist-pump for the Texas radio producer known as RAY!
This week while running errands and flipping stations on the radio dial I caught the news that RAY had just spent 17 and 1/4 hours setting a world record for fist-pumping…breaking the old record by a convincing 15 minutes. A record by the way that had been set just days before by a guy who had super glued his fist together to insure perfect formation. I had no idea that fist-pumping was a competitive sport and neither did I know it’s participants were dedicated enough to resort to “performance enhancing adhesives”. (But I am a bit of a dinosaur you know…still not on facebook and I just started the blogging deal.)
So while some people build orphanages, broker peace agreements, battle HIV/AIDS or rescue young girls and women abducted into the sex trade…RAY has made his mark for posterity and enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame by setting a world record for fist-pumping. “My arm hurts, but it was awesome!” he said afterwards. Awesome? Really?
Forgive me if I sound just a little bit cynical (I do have that tendency), but as far as I am concerned the people who are really doing something awesome are the un-sung Cypress Meadowers who feed the homeless and under-resourced every Saturday night or rock babies in the Cypress nursery so parents can sit in a service uninterrupted or hand out smiles and programs as people enter the Cypress auditorium or sponsor a child in our partner school in Haiti and partner orphanage in Kenya or one of any other of the dozens and dozens of responsibilities and roles it takes to be the church to a world in desperate need of God’s grace.
So how about a great big “Jersey-style” fist-pump in honor of the Cypress volunteers who are changing the world one precious life at a time.
I do wonder, though…after RAY set the record, what did he do to celebrate?