Friday, March 26, 2010

Going to Haiti

It seems like every year or so, the news cycle stops hovering around elections, politics, and personal finance to spend two weeks focused on a natural disaster. In 2004, it was the tsunami. Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. We caught a break in '06 and '07 before 2008's earthquake hit the Sichuan province in China. And early this year, we all know about the massive earthquake that devastated Haiti--the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

To be completely honest, these events never resonated with me. Oh sure, I watched the news and maybe contributed a few bucks to the Red Cross, but once the news cycle moved on, so did I. Katrina probably had the most impact on me, but that's only because I visited New Orleans for a conference a year later and saw the city still struggling to recover. Even then, I wasn't really moved to do anything more about it then tell a few people what I saw.

The earthquake that hit Haiti, though, was different. Like most of us, I watched the news coverage--but it grabbed me the way other stories didn't. I saw the devastation, watched the Haitian people scream and cry in the streets for help, and my heart absolutely broke for them. I really couldn't tell you why. Maybe it was a combination of things:

  • These photo essays from The Big Picture, which captured the pain and suffering and reality of what happened: Earthquake in Haiti, Haiti: 48 Hours Later, and Haiti: 70 Days Later
  • The fact that Haiti is only 600 miles from the U.S. (about the distance from Boston to Buffalo) and yet malnutrition and poverty run rampant there.
  • Some of my earliest memories of church involve listening to a Haitian congregation sing, laugh, and pray noisily as their congregation met in a room below the sanctuary in our building.
  • A slow realization that I had a chance to really do something to show love and help those in need.
So a few weeks ago, when my friend Doug asked if I wanted to go to Haiti, I immediately said, "Yes."

Plans fell into place and I can now let you know that this May (the 23rd to the 29th), Doug and I will travel to Haiti with Adventures in Missions--an organization that's dedicated to helping deliver support and relief to some of the most impoverished areas of the world.

We really don't know what to expect. The country, which was impoverished before, has been completely devastated in the capital city of Port au Prince and surrounding areas. There are so many needs--food, water, medicine, rebuilding, rehabilitation--that we don't know yet what area we'll be helping in. All we know now is that we're going and we're going to help however we can.

But we can't do it alone. We need help. Maybe help from you.

  1. We need prayer... neither of us have ever done anything like this or put ourselves into a situation like this one.
  2. We need awareness... not for what we're doing, but that Haiti needs help. Recovery will take years, but the news cycle has already moved on. Please don't forget.
  3. We need help... again, not for us, but for Haiti. If you want to help support our trip, you can do that by donating through eventbrite or directly. Know that we plan to use any money we raise beyond our own costs to buy supplies to send to Port au Prince in advance. (Other great organizations you may want to support include, the Red Cross, and Yele Haiti)
I'll keep posting on this blog with trip updates, news from Haiti, and everything else. So stay tuned.

Thank you for listening and thanks in advance for helping.

(Here's a video Doug sent me from the blog WhyIsMarko. It was shot recently in Port au Prince.)

(I wrote this post while listening to "Blood Bank EP" by Bon Iver)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You Might Die Today -- Scared or Inspired?

I'm reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan (my good friend Doug Tappan) picked it out. I just started it and have only read two chapters, but already the book's gripped me and got me thinking.

This morning, I thought about death. Good times!

I wanted to share the chapter's intro with you and see if you started thinking about mortality, too. And, if you did, how do you feel about it--scared or inspired?

"You could die before you finish reading this chapter. I could die while you're reading it. Today. At any moment.

But it's easy to think about today as just another day. An average day where you go about life concerned with your to-do list, preoccupied by appointments, focused on family, thinking about your desires and needs.

On the average day, we live caught up in ourselves. On the average day, we don't consider God very much. On the average day, we forget that our life truly is a vapor.

But there is nothing normal about today. Just think about everything that must function properly for you to survive. For example, your kidneys. The only people who really think about their kidneys are people whose kidney's don't work correctly. The majority of us take for granted our kidneys, liver, lungs, and other internal organs that we're dependent upon to continue living.

What about driving down the road at 65-mph, only a few feet away from cars going the opposite direction at the same speed? Someone would only have to jerk his or her arm and you would be dead. I don't think that's morbid; I think it's reality.

It's crazy that we think today is just a normal day to do whatever we want with. To those of us who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money,' James [the brother of Jesus] writes, 'Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes' (4:13-14)

When you think about it, that's a little disconcerting. But even after reading those verses, do you really believe you could vanish at any minute? That perhaps today you will die? Or do you instead feel somehow invincible?

Frederick Buechner writes, 'Intellectually we all know that we will die, but we do not really know it in the sense that the knowledge becomes a part of us. We do not really know it in the sense of living as thought it were true. On the contrary, we tend to live as though our lives will go on forever.'"

Sorry guys, I don't mean to be a total downer... but when I read this, it got me thinking: what if today really matters? What if we lived every day as if it were a gift or our last one? What would we do differently?

(And would we blog about it?)

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