Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Haiti Day 9

When I first arrived in Haiti I was scared out of my mind. My parents and family had been telling me that even though I said I knew a little of what to expect and feel, I had no idea what it was really going to be like. They were right. I remember thinking this is another world, there were people every where and the buildings were all crumbled with trash piled in the streets. But what I remember specifically was that I did not feel safe. It took me a few days to adjust to the everyday life in Haiti without all of the perks  we have in the U.S. Believe it or not, it did not always feel the best to work in the heat with sweat running down everywhere. Yes...everywhere. But when our team made it to the orphanage it was almost as if the heat didn't phase me. Every single one of the kids became attached to a member of our group within 30m of the first time most of us saw them. I came into the orphanage thinking I would be the one who would try and serve and love on them, but I can't remember a moment where one of them was not willing to sacrifice what little they had for us. It was so unbelievably fun to meet each one of them. Even some of the teenagers at the youth group had me laughing almost the whole service. Our last night at the church all of the kids walked us to the van holding our hands and waving us goodbye, and some tried to stowaway with us. Trust me it was tempting to let them. This morning we had to wake up at 4:25am and pile in the van at 5:25. As usual, some of us got motion sickness from the gas-to-break pattern the entire ride to the airport. And as we went threw security I got stopped because apparently you can't fly with an entire can of aerosol bug spray. When we finally got on the plane I was able to look at each person on my team, confidently knowing I became closer to them. 


Haiti Day 8

It has been a truly amazing week of serving God in Haiti. Yesterday we had to say a sad goodbye to the kids at the orphanage and the youth at Source de la Grace, and today we got to see the beauty of Haiti at the beach. It was so much fun! Haiti is SO beautiful! You look one way and see the beach and the other and see mountains! 

At the beach that we went to there was a dock that you could jump off of and we spent most of our time at the beach there. It was really cool seeing our team just have fun together having diving contests, cannonball contests, and seeing who can jump the farthest. While the beach was really fun what really stuck with me is the hope that the beauty of Haiti brings. It could easily be a top tourist destination with a little bit of simple marketing. If Haiti, as a tourist destination, was marketed right it would open up so many job opportunities for people who could otherwise not be able to find one, and that gives me great hope for the people of Haiti. 

-Emily Green

Haiti Day 7

This morning I was woken up by the sound of Mac’s feet running around in super tiny circles to get her cross country workout in for the day. After that it took me awhile to force my mind awake, but once I did I realized it was our last day working along side the community at Source de la Grace. I went to breakfast thinking how strange it is that in the very short time we’ve spent in Haiti it feels like home, and after spending only seven days together the amazing people on our team feel like family. Our breakfast was amazing as are all meals in Haiti courtesy to Francois and Angela, and if you were wondering all fruit in Haiti tastes 10000 times better than in America. After breakfast we crammed into the van and left for Source de la Grace around 8:30, and our car ride as always consisted of some of the most bizarre conversations strengthening our bonds even more. When we arrived we were automatically swarmed by the children, and where ever we went they followed. while we were there we played all sorts of games, we arm wrestled, played soccer, jumped rope, and a ton of hand games, but one of my favorite things to see in that first chunk of the morning was Bryce laying upside down on the tile stairs next to a little boy after playing out side for a little over an hour, but it wasn't just the fact they were laying next to each other it was also that the little boy would do whatever Bryce did and he just looked up to him and you could just feel the love radiate off of them. Next we went over to the children's home, because before we were in the church (its all on one compound), and when we went over there we were surrounded by the joy and the kids, but I immediately noticed that there was a little girl, Sarah, crying, but Emily Green was over there with her ready to help her in whatever way she could because God was pouring his love into her and giving her the kind of heart to go to her and do something. Next we went to eat lunch of amazing peanut sandwiches made by the rockstars Mac and Liz, and PG brought his artwork and it was amazing to see how God blessed every single one of us with a different gift and was working through us to do his will. After lunch we went back out to play with the kids and I finally saw Christlove, the girl I connected with the most in the orphanage and we jumped rope played volleyball and hand games, then she decided she wanted to do my hair… I can now officially say I've gotten corn rows (probably the most painful hairstyle ever), but you can ask any of my teammates, including the guys, it is completely and totally worth every single second of it because of how happy it makes them to be able to play with your hair. After they played with our hair for hours we left for a little while to stop at the Good Market and then the guest house. At the market we got mainly cultural food, Niaya, Mac, and I got this cool Haitian pina colada drink, and Bryce and Liz bought us a ton of the Haitian version of ramen noodles for tomorrow night. Next we went to the Guest house and had some relaxing time and played games and just sat around and talked, then we loaded up into the van to go back to Source de la Grace for youth and goodbyes. I think youth is absolutely beautiful, because they sing and they have such sweet voices, and when they pray everyone prays out loud at once and it makes like this beautiful song like chant because of all the different things being prayed for in two different languages. Also tonight at youth Grace, Esther, Emily Green, Kristie, and some people from the church  shared their testimonies beautifully. Afterwards I was called over by four girls and we sat and played games and ate s’mores until we had to leave and say our goodbyes. It was so hard to say goodbye but it felt good to know we were able to make connections with the people in such a short amount of time. When we got back to the guest house we ate dinner and had a devotional and went to sleep around midnight. good bye *waving hand*         


Monday, June 27, 2016

Haiti Day 6

Bonswa, koman ou ye? 

We started this wonderful day with another amazing breakfast from Francois. We are so unbelievably thankful for the effort she has put into making our stay in Haiti so hospitable even though we have once again returned to the Devil’s Armpit. 

As today is Sunday, we went to a church service that was almost entirely in Creole which was a very interesting experience. Even though we didn’t know what he was saying it was astounding to see the passion in his voice (it was very loud). We went on stage and sang with the youth group “Our God” by Chris Tomlin. We practiced it a butt ton yesterday night and it was cool to see how it all came together after so much effort. We also met the Haitian version of Ms. Sharon Green, which was pretty rad. She was the worship leader and had all of the same mannerisms.

After church we went to the National Haitian Museum and learned about the history of Haiti and how the past has contributed to both the culture’s strength and brokenness. A nation of slaves rose up with incredible strength to overcome their oppressors. I can’t imagine coming from a culture of entirely oppressed people that have been held down over and over again. When we were at Reach Global, Dave talked about the lack of entrepreneurship in Haiti that causes 10 women to sell the exact same mangos all lined up in a row. This drives down prices and reinforces the material poverty that already exists in the country. This is all routed in the turmoil in Haiti. But even with one dictator after another, Haiti has hope. The museum also had an art gallery with some incredible pieces. It wasn’t the typical art that we have all seen 1,000 time: Renoir, Pacaso, Monet. Instead, they were all Haitian artist who had a completely different take on the way the world looks than our own Eurocentric beliefs. I was looking at a painting with James that I saw a horrible message in: the poor work hard yet only the rich florist from it. But sweet James told me it meant that the harder you work the more money you make and the better person you can become. I want to be like James.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Haiti Day 5

Today we visited the orphanage for the very first time. Its been the best trip ever. When we first got to the orphanage, the children surrounded us and hugged and just loved on us for the whole time. When I first came out to see all the children, i thought that they wouldn't like me because, they liked anjian so much i wouldn't be the same. But these Kids didn't care they just wanted to be around us and never let us go. 

Another fun situation that happened was that 2 little boys came up to me with our translator James. Reshcard asked if i had a really big suitcase to bring him to texas so he could be with me. Then i told him it wasn't legal for children to be at the bottom of airplanes in a suitcase. Then he asked me how old would he have to be to get a passport and leave on a plane to visit us, i answer probably 18, and he was appalled. 

Every kid at the orphanage were the most loving, funny, and super kids ever. I cant wait to spend these past days with my new family. 


Friday, June 24, 2016

Haiti Day 4

Today, me and the team said goodbye to our friends at reach global and headed back to port au prince, and though it was hard to leave, I knew God had big things awaiting us back in the city.  After many miles and a few hours rest back at the guesthouse, we connected up with the group at the church, who are all super cool, and it was super encouraging to see a youth group that met hundreds of miles away from Riverside unite with mine over worship and silly games, which was really a God given encouragement to me. On the way back, me and Kristie Vaval talked about some of the similarities we both had growing up as Pastor’s kids and it was yet another picture that God loved me and that honestly the only thing separating our culture’s was materialism (seriously, they even have their own trump) but that also the Haitian people are some of the most strong and loving you’ll ever meet.

It’s been a pretty wild ride folks. Haiti, just as it always has, has brought incredible God given blessings along with trials that are unforeseen and at times difficult to work through. Life has been made easier by this team, and today i am especially thankful for them. The last few days have been new territory for me, as we visited reach global and helped out their mission team in the countryside, now we turn to the orphanage in Port-au-prince and partnering with the youth of the local church. The last few days I have been emotionally and physically tested, but have absolutely  loved getting to know the people on this trip, as every one of them brings something unique to the table. I ask that over the next three days you pray that we are able to give each other space, and that we are well rested to walk into the Lord’s promise. 

Isaiah 6:8


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Haiti Day 3

Hello parents and friends. First, all is well and as some of you may have heard, Camron mistook his finger for a tire and was cut, but is all good. Even though he has a marshmallow on his finger, he did not let it keep him from making relationships and spreading Gods grace. This morning, we woke up and traveled to a nearby village to help the residents build tire gardens, which provide a good source of food. Canyon, Camron, and Ryan worked with a man named Joe, who is viewed as a leader in the community. the Ladies also worked in and around the community including sifting compost for the gardens! Afterwards we went to a cafe run by a local ministry that helps provide jobs to the people in the community. In the afternoon, we gathered with the kids in the community to play soccer and play with them. It was lots of fun and was a good team/relationship building experience. When Canyon went to get a soccer ball out of the water he stepped knee deep in mud and covered his shoes in socks. To show him some love a couple of kids made him take off his socks and shoes, and they went and helped him wash them. This is our third attempt at writing this, thanks to Liz, so we hoped you enjoyed 

-Camron and Canyon

Haiti day 2

It is our first day here in Haiti, and man was it a whirlwind. We started it off by learning a few common Creole phrases (which of course I forgot within 20 minutes). We then headed out on a walk around the community. The purpose of this journey was to get a feel and understanding for the community that we are being emerged in. Our sweet translators were so proud to show us around. Community is all to them. After our little adventure, we ate some and walked down the block to a road made out of softball size rocks and covered with pot holes. Our goal was to level this road. We started off with one very huge pile of rocks. We worked by shoveling, spreading, and tossing rocks for what seemed like an eternity. About half way through, a large truck drives up. He opened up the bed and pouring out came another huge load of rocks. We thought "okay, we can do this"! We put our smiling faces on and toughed it out! About half way through THAT load, guess what? Another truck pulls up and dumps off another huge load of rocks. A bit weaker, and with smiles a bit more faded, we took on this next pile. FINALLY we were finished! We had spread out all of the rocks and the road looked fabulous. We were all relieved and ready to go home, until  we got word that, yep, you guessed it, another truck was coming with another huge load of rocks... Great. By the end of the day all of us American people were exhausted and probably not the best company to be around. However, for some crazy and amazing reason, these awesome members of this community had come to help us. It seemed as if everyone wanted a part of restoring this road. This community worked together to achieve their goal. I think we can all take a lesson from these people... Especially myself. I get so caught up in doing everything myself that I forget that I cannot do it alone. We need the support and guidance from others that we would not be able to achieve by ourselves. Oh, and all thanks to God for teaching me this lesson on the first day, or else this would end up being a pretty unproductive, draining, and all together messy trip. 

-Niaya Ramirez

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Haiti Day 1

So we are officially in Haiti!! Our flights today went surprisingly fast. It must have been the tvs with free movies and games that passed time so quickly. Lessons learned today: not to buy crepes from the airport, and watching the movie 10 cloverfield lane was a complete waste of time. 

We arrived in Port-Au-Prince just as the sun went down. I thought I had a clear understanding of what Haiti was like, but Hearing stories and seeing pictures of it is completely different than actually being there in person. The moment we stepped out of the airport, I didn't expect to smell burning trash. I guess it had never occurred to me that garbage would be everywhere. Everything, like the buildings and culture here are so different than home. I didn't understand how some of the others were talking and not paying attention to everything around us as we drove to the guesthouse. I couldn't stop watching and soaking all our surroundings in. 

The guesthouse is nice, and francoise is very kind. The dinner she prepared was great too! I'm so excited for what's to come on this trip.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Final Day in Jerusalem

Final Day – Jerusalem


Looking back over the last week it is hard to put into words how special this trip was.  We had an amazing team that was so joyful, loving and fun and I was truly blessed to be a part of this group.  Last year when we went we made some important connections with ministries that were on the ground and this year we continued to build on that foundation.  We have all seen God move so beautifully each and every day it was clear that we were right in the sweet spot.  It was so encouraging to see how many Jewish people are now coming to believe in Jesus (Yeshua) as Messiah.  The conference was so important because it gathered together all of the ministries that are currently doing service on the ground which provided us with a wide range of opportunities to connect. 

Looking ahead we all see God extending on ongoing invitation to this incredibly important place and we are excited about future possibilities.  As we met with people on the ground what we discovered is that they are all quite isolated and lonely.  There has been no good way to connect all of the ministries until this past week. So we took time to take each one to share a meal, receive prayer, and just spend time listening and encouraging.  That seems to be the thing that God is doing the most – allowing us to bring encouragement to the leaders that are on the ground. 


Yesterday we remembered our past trips with Scott as we took to Mt Arbel for a full yet exhilarating climb up the mountain.  It was breathtakingly beautiful at the top where it overlooks the Sea of Galilee.  This is the mountain where Jesus might have gone away to pray.  The weather is unseasonably warm right now at a whopping 102 degrees.  Needless to say, it was a little warm trekking up those trails.  And then to end the day we went to have a final dinner overlooking the Sea of Galilee. 


It has been an incredible week and we are so thankful for the opportunities we have had to serve in Israel.  And now we turn towards home….




Fwd: Final Day in Jerusalem


Final Day in Jerusalem

Friday, June 3, 2016

A Call to Comfort God's People in Israel - 6/2

To say that today was a wonderful expression of God's love over us doesn't begin to express the depth and width of the experience.  Each day begins with our own group worship, devotion and prayer… and God got started on us early.  

This morning was my turn to lead the devotion and God gave me Isaiah 40, "Comfort My People".  And when I say "gave" (those of you who know me know this is not what I would call typical language for me) I mean, God has been revealing to us all day that it was indeed "given".  In a nutshell, Isaiah shares what we commonly know as a Messianic prophecy, which would be used later by John the Baptist, saying "Prepare the way of the Lord."  To the Jew this phrase would be a common idiom referring to a king sending representatives out on the road before him to "clear obstacles/clear the path for the king." Since they had no Jesus reference, they would later interpret it as king Cyrus of Persia delivering them from exile.  However, on this side of the cross we now know what they did not.  Sound familiar?  This is exactly what is still going on today in Israel.  We are here working to bring an understanding of Jesus to those who are still "living in that exile knowledge." We are preparing the way for the King as His representatives, making straight pathways. What put the affirming punctuation on it, though, is that all day the themes were centered around the exilic period with speakers and organizations referencing Comfort My People.  Every time one would come up we would turn with our jaws dropped and just stare at each other. Unbelievable!!  Thank you God for your amazing confirmations today.

Each of our sessions have been packed with speakers, musicians and talks from leading Messianic Pastors and Organization Leaders giving us sort of a "State of the Israel Union" for the rise of the Messianic church in Israel.  Today alone we met with so many, from a woman who works "underground" doing humanitarian work with refugees to a young man, Daniel, a teacher who's ministry is to host groups for Shabbat, and is preparing to have us celebrate Shabbat on Friday night. I am particularly excited about tomorrow morning as we will have a two hour session in leading worship and prayer in the Prayer Tower.  Sharon and I were able to go and have a 15 minute taste of what's to come.

One of the highlights for the group today was a guest musician named Benny Prasad.  Wow!! I've never witnessed anything like him.  To look at him you might think he's a hippie from India.  Slight in build, long wavy hair, with a mouse-ish voice, but what a humble servant of God. His story speaks to the ways God can use anyone regardless of race, health, or ability.  When we had walked in I immediately noticed the guitar on stage - it was so unique - custom built with two drum heads embedded into the front face, one at the top above the neck and the other at the lower bottom.  Above the bridge was another set of strings attached above the sound hole leading to the bottom of the guitar that are used as a drone or harp. We were amazed as we heard him play this thing slapping and strumming at the strings and drums with such precision.  But, as if that weren't enough, it turns out the real wow factor lay in his personal testimony of faithfulness. Following God's leading, in 2010 he received the world record for being the fastest man to travel to every country in the world - that's 257 countries total!  Now that's a whirlwind tour of 6+ years unashamedly sharing the gospel and his music, and many of those places suffering persecution for the sake of the gospel.  Inspiring to say the least…

We ended the day by walking down to the Old City of Jerusalem to see the incredible light show celebrating Israel's independence.  There were literally hundreds of thousands of people out in and around the city.  The lights were fantastic, and as a bonus my sweet Sharon found a cotton candy stand. I'll let you in on a little secret - for the entirety of our 26 years of marriage I can say she still gets a little "school-girl" giddy over cotton candy.

I feel like today was reminiscent of the apostles telling us that Jesus did so many amazing things that there's no possible way to write it all down.  God is truly good. We have been deeply blessed to connect and endear ourselves to what He is doing in the land.
Be Blessed!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Jerusalem Encounter

Yesterday A few of us went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum. As I left the Lord began to impress upon me the weight of remembrance. So, today we took time to remember the covenant God cut with Abram in Genesis 5 - the promise of many descendants/ a people and the land. Then in Romans 11 we are reminded that the root supports us not the other way around and we get to carry the message of salvation to the Jews. But we are cautioned not to become arrogant. We prayed for the church worldwide to have a softening of hearts and revelation of these scriptures to see that the Gentiles (that's us) have a role in restoring Israel. And so we are here this week pursuing God's invitation for our community in the fulfillment of scripture.

We spent the day at the Jerusalem Encounter conference. Being in a room with a few hundred people who are trying to figure out how to respond in tangible ways to the scriptural commands to support Israel is really amazing. We worshipped in English and Hebrew, heard powerful speakers and heard about several ministries here that are ministering in the name of Yeshua (Jesus). Two years ago on our first visioning trip we had Shabbat with a founder of the non-profit that is hosting this event. He shared a dream that was in his heart. Today we are at this conference, which is that dream manifested. We have had so many confirmations and encouragements that we are on the right track to figuring out what our community is called to as we pray, worship and serve in the land.

Most impactful thing I heard today:
Christians wonder why Jews can read the Bible and not see Jesus.
Christians read the Bible and don't see the Jews.
Christians and Jews read the Bible and don't see the Arabs. We are selective.
The truth is we are ALL made in God's image and we are called to respond in love to one another.

Tonight we reconnected with Chaim Malespin, whom we met two years ago. He runs an organization that helps Jews make Aliyah (return to Israel) and assimilate into society. God is blessing his ministry with great favor! It was a joy to spend time hearing the story God is unfolding - one testimony after another of God's miraculous provision, guidance and love for His people.

New experiences for the day... Falafel in the shuk (open air market), walked 10,000 steps without trying, dessert made from ground sesame seeds that is actually good, Messianic hip hop (who knew?!), and discovered a new restaurant we love, Trattoria.

We have one prayer request - sweet sleep for everyone.