“Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” Revelation 14:13
It has often seemed that when God nudged me to follow His call and go and live in Haiti it was either a learning opportunity for me to improve my patience when walking on uneven ground with my artificial knees and arthritic ankles or perhaps it was His way of bringing moments of joy into His activities because my engineering background brought me endless moments of torture seeing the condition of the roads, water crossings and lack of traffic regulations. Transportation in Haiti was an adventure, at times a frustrating adventure. When Dr. Doug Rutt from the LCMS came to visit in 2001 and found me in a 4-wheel drive leased pickup truck and he chided me for not taking the taptap which immersed me into the Haitian culture and in my defense, I had tried that, crawling into the back end of a pickup truck, but after several attempts it seemed to be too physically dangerous.
Modes of transportation included driving through rivers, wading through rivers, walking for hours to visit small rural congregations on dirt pathways, flying in a UN helicopter, riding a horse, a small airplane and even a boat. I came across the attached photo and it was possibly taken in 2002 and the man to my left is Pastor Israel Isidor, at that time the President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti. His earthly work ended over a decade ago and his legend in Haiti is still talked about by those of us who remember him and miss his bright, strong energetic witness. We had been visiting congregations and schools in his Les Cayes district and one day we drove from Les Cayes to Port Salute and up the coast to Tiburon. There Pastor Isidor told me we would either spend an hour in a boat or walk for four hours to reach Careasse, a congregation that he didn’t get to visit very often. The answer seemed obvious; rent the boat. The first boat shown me was a wooden Haitian boat that appeared to have been constructed by the French in 1800, cost was $200 Haitian of my money for the voyage. I am a strong swimmer, but I knew that Pastor Isidor was not so I asked if there were any other boats for rent and by the grace of God there was one other, the fiberglass boat in the photo. It would cost me $400 Haitian dollars but it was well worth the fee.
Pastor Isidor had a briefcase in his arms and his knuckles turned white clutching it as we rocked back and forth on our hour journey. We arrived and walked on a narrow dirt pathway probably thirty minutes back into the tree covered mountain to the Church and people kept coming out of the foliage along the hillside to find out who the visitors were and where they were going. There were probably a 100 people following us by the time we reached the Church. Pastor Isidor encouraged the congregation for their work, sang a few hymns and we prayed. I pray that the remainder of your journey will be fruitful as you take the message of our Lord Jesus to the lost souls of this world through your words and actions. May your labors bring many more into the Kingdom before your time spent here; serving Him comes to a close.
Dear Heavenly Father, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.
May God be with you…Jay