As the daughter of a Southern Baptist Minister, Rachel grew up in the church. But that wasn't the only thing that lead her to be the chief educator of First Lutheran Church's children.
"It is the places [God] sends you in the world where your epic story is meant to be lived. Where you are meant to share His love and hope and share that with those around you."
The photos on these pages tell a different story than what would have been told January 12, 2010. At that time an earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter scale, struck Haiti with devastating force. Statistically speaking, Haiti was already considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Several government leaders perished in the quake - dealing a disastrous blow to the government’s infrastructure. A glaring need for direction was evident on a long-term, local basis; as these were not problems that could be fixed simply by throwing money at them. Thankfully, there were already some organizations on the grounds that were poised to mitigate this challenge.
Mission of Hope, Haiti (MOH), was one such organization. More help than ever was immediately required to carry out their vision: “As an organization following Jesus Christ, Mission of Hope exists to bring life transformation to every man, woman, and child in Haiti. We desire to serve the nation of Haiti, and see lives changed.” Aside from the donated supplies and money available, caring people were needed to step up and fill the void.
People like Ashley Collins...
Ashley has spent a total of 36 weeks of her life, between (4) week-long mission trips and (2) months-long internships (since 2010), working with the Haitian people who are served by the MOH organization. Obstacles had to be overcome no matter how many times she visited Haiti but the Lord has provided “sunshine through the clouds.” In addition to acclimating to the tropical climate, a language barrier (most of the population speaks either French or Creole) exists. Ashley, through the help of other MOH interns, Haitian locals, and a gifted English- Creole dictionary, has been able to progress toward a mutual, basic understanding of the language and customs of the Haitians she worked alongside of. Her roles have been different for each trip and she has predictably worked with new people each time as well.
Her most recent role, as a kitchen intern over a 3-month period, provided her with a lifetime of memories and friendships in Christ. For anyone who has spent a great deal of time in the kitchen, it should come as no surprise that she has made quite a few intimate friendships along the way; even visiting the homes and families of some of the ladies she worked with. For this trip she was located on the Bercy Campus, which is located on one of the 11 villages MOH serves. This campus, a fenced-in area near the Caribbean Sea, provides beautiful sunrises and sunsets (see photo) and is also the site of a “Grace Home,” which provides medical, spiritual, and daily care to 50 elderly residents. Despite the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, swimming was strongly discouraged; as the beach was unfit for swimming due to the fact that trash dumped in the water from Port-au-Prince regularly finds its way to Bercy’s shores. Her day usually began at 5:45 a.m. and ended around 10 p.m. The goal was to teach basic sanitation and cooking skills to the Haitian women staffing the kitchen. The main dishes prepared consisted of rice & beans, fried plantains, and desserts (cakes, cupcakes, fruit tarts, and cookies). Supplies for these dishes were acquired at the local market by the Haitian “kitchen boss.” On this trip Ashley was able to participate in on/off-site vacation bible school, soccer matches with other interns and village champions, and weekly visits to the villages. One such visit took her, via bus, to the village of Cabaret, where she was able to walk through a voodoo temple (“Hounfour”), speak with the priest (“Houngan”), and pray for him.
Is Ashley planning a return trip? She does not hesitate to answer with a resounding “Yes!” although an exact date is harder to nail down. When asked what she missed the most during her latest venture to Haiti, her answer was simply, “My bed,” and “my First Lutheran family.” MOH is doing an admirable job in changing the lives of Haitians (as well as those who are participants). Progress is being made, but a lot of work is left to do. You can bet that, if/when she does decide to return, the Haitians will greet her in a manner similar to the way she was welcomed back by her Haitian kitchen counterparts (she flew back to the US for a wedding during the internship), “Good back, Asheley!”
Written by: Shane Ramnarine
by: Bobby Collins
Worship is us giving God his breath back. In the story of Ezekiel and the dry bones, God raises an army of dry bones by giving them life. He gives them breath and not just lungs absorbing oxygen. He fills them with true life and spiritual breath which opens their eyes to see and know him in a more personal way. But if worship is only us giving God this awe-filled worship back, we will eventually run dry, and when we run out of spiritual breath we drift away from God resulting in nothing good.
Worship is a feeling that is created by God and a worship leader with the purpose of creating a time and place for God to work. Without God present in worship, we are simply pouring out emotion with an audience to harmonic noise. When we realize this, it sets the stage with the mindset of eager expectation for what God will do, not how good our guitar solo is or how loud we sing. This opens the door for the true power of Worship to be encountered. But there is one last part to worship.
Worship is an experience created when we as worshipers approach God with a mindset of awe and with open, honest, vulnerable hearts and with a spirit yearning to encounter God. The true purpose or goal (or at least what we should want) is to see God transform our lives and hearts so that we are better equipped to carry his renown to the world. This is accomplished when we approach God and only God with the intent to bring him glory and praise. But if it ends there, it is all in vain, because we need God to fill us back up with more breath and renew us and our hearts. If we fail to open our hearts he will knock on our hearts to fill us but we will deny him access. So for worship to be true and powerful, we must give God, and only God, praise for what he has done and do it with open, honest, vulnerable hearts and with no walls between him and us. If we approach God with open, honest, vulnerable hearts and minds filled with the eager expectation that he will do immeasurably more than we can hope for, only then will God be able to fill us more and more until we are overflowing with his glory and oozing the love of Christ from every pore. And what this does is it opens the door for worship to be more than hymns or contemporary worship songs or the raising our hands when the praise band plays The Stand. It makes worship an encounter with God at any time or place in any circumstance or any way!
John in the book of Revelation prophesies that when all believers are gathered in heaven we will worship God with all that we are. And so what we typically limit to Sunday morning is simply a foretaste of heaven. And that alone is the truest and most accurate description of why we were created. When we give God his breath back he will fill us with even more! So over time as we grow closer and deeper in love with God, we will be filled more with his presence allowing us to pour it back to God and shine his glory to all the nations, getting us closer to fulfilling our eternal purpose of never ceasing to worship our creator, sustainer, and God.
Finally a quote from John Piper, “Our worship is the subjective echo of God’s objective worth, the immensity of his worth is reflected in the intensity of your worship, we were made for the admiration of the excellence of Jesus. And the greater your admiration the greater the revelation of Christ’s glorification!”
About the Author
Bobby Collins has been a member of First Lutheran church for 21 years, has been playing guitar for eight years, has played with the worship band for five years, and has been growing out his beard for six years. In 2011-12, he spent a year travelling with Youth Encounter Ministry playing music and sharing the gospel with youth around the United States.