Before my inbox is full with messages telling me NOT to write - I figured I'd make a preemptive strike. Tara is right - nothing motivates me more than being told not to do something. It's a personality flaw, I'm sure.
The root of the problem probably lies somewhere deep in my psyche and manifests itself as a problem with authority and a rebellious spirit.
Here is the thing - ok, my excuses - I don't share Tara's love for writing. I like to do it sometimes - but only if conditions are perfect. Perfect conditions being described as follows: the children's needs are all met (no one is pulling on my leg, crying, fighting, hungry, or otherwise demanding attention), my work is all done (the pile of receipts, letters, scraps of paper and notes and to-do lists on my desk are taken care of), the house is quiet so I can concentrate (which only happens late at night), my emails have been answered, and I think I can capture my thoughts with the written word (making sense, not rambling, mixing in an appropriate amount of levity, humor, spirituality, conviction, intelligence, and deep thinking)... Oh, and my hobbies and personal interests are satisfied and I feel like I'm on top of my spiritual growth, meditation, Bible study, and prayer time. These conditions almost never present themselves. Actually, they NEVER do.
But once in a while I'll feel the motivation or I'll be prompted by guilt or a sense of obligation to sit down and write something. When I do, I feel an enormous amount of pressure to get it just right and convey perfectly the stories and emotions and struggles and triumphs we're experiencing. That pressure usually keeps me from trying. I love to talk about it all - and tell the stories...(thanks Dad, I think - sometimes we talk too much, you know?) but I have a much harder time writing. The last name is LiveSAY, after all, not LiveWRITE. I always want to include every detail and interesting tangent. That's easier to do when talking than in print - but maybe just as annoying to the audience either way. :)
I do have notes laying around with blog story ideas, voice recordings and messages and emails to remind me of things I want to tell, but they often don't make it to the blog because I want to craft them into perfect vignettes that capture everything - including the photos and video to go with it. Then the internet or computer issues add to the frustration of putting it all together.
So, there you have it...the rebuttal that turned into a whiny bunch of excuses.
This serves as notice - from here on out my posts will not be perfect. They might not be long enough or include all the details. I might not find the perfect picture or have video to accompany the story. I won't stress over not having a Bible verse to match the content or emotions included, and I might forget to share the proper prayer requests and motivate you to take action. They might not always be funny, and they certainly won't always be perfectly spiritual. I might even missspell a word or use improper grammar and punctuation;;
But I will try to share more. Ohhhh, the pressure is already building...I suddenly want to just go play my guitar.
I'll start with the story of yesterday - not all of it, not perfectly packaged, and maybe not all that interesting. Later, I'll cram in a bunch of shorter stories together so I can cross the ideas off my to-do list and relieve more of the self-imposed pressure.
I visited the prison in Arcahaie yesterday. Rusty Merrit from the mission and orphanage in Bercy was taking a short-term team there along with the pastor and members of their Haitian church. They were visiting the prison to evangelize, pray, and deliver a meal to the prisoners. I tagged along with Pastor Rony and Robenson to observe, try to help translate, and look into doing some prison ministry of our own. The group we were with did a great job sharing the Gospel with some willing to hear it, praying with the inmates, handing out tracts, and leading some worship songs.
The prison houses 210 inmates, mostly men. There was one cell housing female inmates, I'm not sure how many. The rest of the cells seemed to be 10 feet square or smaller and housed at least ten men in each one. There was an open cement yard in the middle, high walls and higher barbed wire around the compound. The prisoners were all locked in their cells during our visit, pushing their way to the front of the cell against the steel bars of their doors.
I did get to see Gerald, the father of Jean-Noah (who recently passed away after suffering from HIV). Gerald is from La Digue and was put in prison last year for murder. He and some others are accused of killing a man over a land ownership dispute. He doesn't know when his court date is, or how long he will be imprisoned. The few men I talked to at length all had similar stories - most are in prison on murder charges - all are totally innocent according to their account - none know when they are getting out. One man has been there for five years, and just received his appointment for his day in court - ten years from now. Another has been there for eight years and has his hearing in fourteen years. From what I know, the Haitian system allows imprisonment while awaiting trial (guilty until proven innocent), and obviously doesn't have a very expeditious trial/hearing process.
The conditions and atmosphere were not as bad as I'd expected. The smells, lack of sanitation, level of harassment and desperation were not any worse than the typical day in Port au Prince. Take that for what it's worth - not necessarily a good thing.
In the end, Pastor Rony and I discussed the possibility of starting a ministry to this local prison - with regular visits from our church members for discipleship and possibly delivering meals. This endeavor falls in line with my hopes and dreams for the mission and our work here this year - I feel a real calling to increase the amount of spiritual outreach and evangelism that the mission takes part in. The Lord has been pressing upon me the importance of discipleship for the Haitian believers and the equipping of them to go and fulfill the Great Commission to their own people. The rest of that story will have to wait, but if you read 'Revolution in World Missions' by K.P. Yohannan you can gain insight into where I'm at regarding missions work. (You can probably order it - free from the gfa.org website - and read it before I get around to explaining it or figuring out where we're fitting in.)
Then, the rest of the day went like this - a short trip into Port for the afternoon turned into a six hour tour that included the following highlights:
-not feeling like I was in Haiti during a visit to the Toyota dealership
-not feeling like I was in Haiti during an appointment in a finely furnished bourgeois lawyer's office (dealing with employee issues - another story on my list for later)
-not feeling like I was in Haiti standing in a walk-in freezer ordering some imported meat
-feeling very much like I was in Haiti sweating in the traffic and fumes and dust zigzagging through town during the afternoon rush
-buying plumbing and other hardware parts at Eko Depot, but having forgotten my list (on the aforementioned messy desk) I couldn't remember half of the stuff I needed
-and the most interesting part:
I chose a route on the way home that led through downtown Port au Prince and along the ocean and shipyards. (Video to follow....maybe) Once I finally saw light at the end of the traffic tunnel, I zoomed out past the dump trucks, buses, and taptaps, but immediately got caught in another traffic jam just outside the city. It was a Haitian version of the gawker slowdown as we crept past an accident involving a taptap and an old turquoise Ford Probe that crawled out of some Florida junkyard and got shipped to Haiti. I was about to take a picture or some video of all the excitement (fender benders usually result in some top-notch screaming matches around here) - but thought better of it when I saw the gun. I was stopped inches from the side of the taptap that hit the Probe, trying to discern who would win this war of words, when one of the passengers of the Probe elevated the situation by pulling a very worn and rusty looking semi-automatic pistol from the pocket of his dress pants and started waving it around. The picture would have been front-page quality...but...even I'm not that crazy. I moved on once the traffic allowed, and did not hear any shots fired as I crept away.
Now is when I normally would try to insert the words of wisdom and praise for protection and prayer requests for change and progress in this country and our ministry...but I already gave the disclaimer so I feel totally comfortable going to bed. I need to get rested up for more fun tomorrow. Don't count on hearing about all of it. ;)