Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mistakes are the Seeds of Ever Growing Opportunities

The more mistakes I make the more I change… the more I change the more I learn… the more I learn the more I grow… the more I grow the more opportunities appear and the more I am able to achieve in life.

This is a very simple formula, yet it has very profound implications for those who are able to understand and grasp it’s intrinsic meaning. Basically speaking, mistakes are simply a form of change that we must learn and grow from on a daily basis in order to attract the necessary opportunities that will allow us to flourish in our field of endeavor.

In our society today mistakes are frowned upon. If one makes a mistake, one is seen as incompetent and unworthy of success. Little do many people realize that mistakes are simply stepping stones to higher levels of understanding about one’s life and predicament.

Just imagine you are about to cross a river, and the only way across to the other side are a dozen stepping stones that you must walk upon. As you step onto the first stone you may be a little unsure or uncertain of yourself. You are thinking that the stone may be wobbly or that your foot may slip off, and as a result you will fall feet first into the water below. Sure, these are very uncertain times where 1 mistake could result in very wet socks. And as you progress along these stepping stones, more times than not (especially in the beginning stages of your journey), you may slip into the water. However, you have a goal, you have an objective to reach. And so you pick yourself out of the water and move forward across the stepping stones wiser than ever before for having fallen into the water below. Upon reaching the other side, you look back at your journey and realize just how much you have learnt from the mistakes you made.

Life is very much like a journey along these stepping stones. We make mistakes… We are changed or transformed by our mistakes… We learn from these changes… We grow as a result… and as we grow we make progress and attract new opportunities along our journeys. This is why it is so important never to get disheartened by the pitfalls which are there to help us gain the necessary experience we need to reach the other side of the river successfully.

The next time you feel as though the mistakes in your life are getting the better of you, try asking yourself the following questions:

How have I changed as a result of this experience?
What is life trying to teach me at this very moment?
How have I grown from the lessons that I have learnt?
What is intrinsically good about this that I hadn’t noticed before?
Where is the hidden opportunity that this experience has blessed me with?
What must I do next that will allow me to move forward towards my objective?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

God Does Not Grant Wishes but rather Opportunities to make Wishes Come True

Life doesn’t give you what you ask for, it rather provides you with the opportunities to potentially receive these things.

No matter what your religious or spiritual beliefs are, one thing is certain; God / The Universe does not play favorites. Why should God give one man a life of luxury, health and success while another suffers from poverty and illness? The bottom line is that we are what we are based on how and what we think about throughout our daily lives. The hard fact is that what we ask or wish for on a daily basis will not come to fruition if we do nothing about it.

There are so many of us out there who rely on God or an Infinite Power to heal them, to make them rich, and to make their dreams come true. What these people fail to understand is that God will not fulfill their desires. It is rather up to the person asking for these things to keep an eye out for opportunities coming their way that may possibly enable them to fulfill their needs and wants.

There is an old tale about a man caught in a flood asking God for help.

A nearby river’s banks overflow and an old man finds himself caught in a flood. In order to avoid the water he climbs up to the roof of his home and prays for God to rescue him in his time of need. Shortly after his prayer, a lady in a row boat comes across the man sitting on his roof. She asks him to come aboard so that she can take him to safety. However, the old man insists that he will be fine, and that God will save him and keep him from harm.

Less than an hour later the rising water has almost reached the rooftop of the old man’s home. At this time a rescue boat approaches the old man and asks him to come on board so that they can take him to safety. The stubborn old man reassures the life rescue team that he will be fine as God will surely save him. The boat leaves, leaving the old man sitting and praying on his rooftop once again.

Less than a half hour later the old man’s feet are now standing in a stream of water that continues to rise rapidly. All of a sudden a helicopter comes out of nowhere and hurtles down a folding ladder to the old man below. However, the old man rejects this final rescue attempt saying that God will save him. The rescue team doesn’t have time to argue with the stubborn old man and politely inform him bluntly that if he doesn’t grab hold of the rescue ladder that he will be swept away by the rising current and will likely drown. The old man looks up at the helicopter, thanks them for their help and kneels down to pray.

Moments later the old man is swept away by the current and meets his untimely death.

The old man is brought to the pearly gates of heaven where God welcomes him with open arms. Although glad to be in heaven, the old man is perplexed and confused as to why God did not help him in his time of need. And so he approaches and asks God for an explanation.

“Why did you not save me in my greatest time of need?” says the old man.

God looks down upon him with kind eyes and says, “My dear child, whatever you have asked for have I not given to you? You asked to be taken to safety and so I obliged by sending you 2 boats and a helicopter. What you do with what I provide is not in my hands. I can only provide you with the opportunities to fulfill your wants and desires. What you do with those opportunities when they come your way is completely up to you.”

The old man looked down upon his feet, a little ashamed of these hasty decisions. However, he finally understood the true and real power of prayer.

It is also important to consider that opportunities can and do at times come disguised as problems. And it is because we perceive them as being problems that we fail to take advantage of the good things that come our way everyday. In fact problems are there to help us grow, and to assist us to expand our awareness allowing for the fulfillment of our ever growing and expanding potential.

When it comes to so called problems; what you see isn’t always what you get.

There is an old saying which reminds us that we don’t get what we ask for but rather what we deserve. It simply guides us to an understanding that no matter what problems or opportunities we are faced with, we will end up getting what we deserve based on the decisions made in the moment.

Finally, opportunities / problems are like boomerangs that will tend to come back again and again in different ways, shapes and forms up until the moment we learn, grow and make use of them, thusly allowing us to fulfill the deepest wants and desires we have been longing for all this time.

The next time you are faced with a problem (disguised as an opportunity), you might find it helpful to ask yourself the following sets of questions:

How can I see this problem as an opportunity that will move me forward and past my current predicament?
What does this problem have to teach me about my life, myself and others?
How can I best take advantage of this problem and turn it into an opportunity to move me forward?
What is it exactly that this problem is hinting at? What is it revealing to me that I initially did not see?
If all my problems suddenly became opportunities, what new empowering decisions would I make today?                    
Michael V. Reynold. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Change is a Process of Transformation

My Wisdom today… “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Another thought provoking James Dean quote that shows us how important it is to be flexible in our daily undertakings.

So many times throughout our day we try and fight off circumstances, people and events. We do everything within our power to try and resist the changes that confront us, and yet we continue to struggle fighting against a powerful force that will simply not letup.

Do we ever stop to think about the actual process of change?

The world as we know it today will not be as we will know it tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. The people that we know today are not going to be the same people tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. Nor will we be the same tomorrow, next week, next month or next year.

The simple fact of the matter is that change continues to evolve and expand on every level each second throughout our day.  Change is like the wind blowing a sail boat through the open ocean. To resist change is to fight against the inevitable and all powerful forces of life. On the other hand, to harness the power of change will take one on a path of unexpected transformation that can bring many blessings and the potential for abundant opportunities.

The Quickest Path Isn’t Always the Right or Best Path to Take

Most of us have a deep fixation in our minds that there is only one way, one path towards a desired destination. We are so fixed and locked upon this journey that we will rarely accept a different opinion or perspective. We know the path that we must take and we will do whatever it takes to reach that destination no matter what difficulties may lie in our way.

“Inflexibility has killed a great many people over the course of human history.”

The funny thing about life is that it presents us with a constant array of clues that are somewhat forced upon us when we least expect them. The great sailors of days gone by picked up on this very quickly. They knew that the wind blows and directs with a purpose. They realized that through the act of harnessing this powerful force that they could redirect themselves along paths that offered less resistance and greater potential for success. Yes, indeed for them these journeys might have taken longer, however life always has a means and a purpose for everything that it throws our way.

Learn from the Winds as they are our Teachers

Life has an interesting way of teaching us lessons that prepare us for the journey ahead. We all have goals, dreams and ambitions that we would like to one day successfully bring to physical reality. Yet from our very limited perspective we fail to realize or understand how unworthy and undeserving we actually are of these experiences.

Every goal, every dream, every deep intense purpose that we conjure up within the recesses of our minds is not so much a destination but rather a journey of experiences filled with lessons, hardships, and challenges that must be confronted and overcome in order to experience the pleasures of the destinations that we envision within our minds.

No man or woman EVER accomplished their goals, dreams or visions without first experiencing the hardships of the journey that led them to their final destination. When the winds came they understood that they had a choice. They could either resist and try to fight over the top of the winds of change, or they could harness the power of these winds and propel themselves forward towards their destination in potentially unforeseen ways. They realized that life is in a constant process of motion and change that adapts to our shifting thoughts, actions, emotions and goals. What we consciously think we want, may indeed not be what we unconsciously desire. Yet, the shifting wind knows and realizes these internal desires and progressively adjusts our course towards our true intentions.

Will this course bring about a smoother journey of experiences, or will it bring further hardships and lessons?

As our course changes, the winds become our teachers, they help us to understand what it will take to deserve to experience our dreams in physical reality. Without these experiences it would be impossible to accomplish what we seek. Ask the most successful people in the world if they would have become who they are today if not for those challenges, problems, or ill-fated circumstances that constantly stood in their way. They learned throughout this process that life will always throw you curve balls, and that unless we adjust, adapt and alter our course to match the changes that we are experiencing, we will suffer the consequences of ill-fated decisions that may leave us guilt ridden for the remainder of our lives.

We simply can’t change the direction of the wind, but we can adjust our sails to reach our ultimate destination.

Michael V. Reynold.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Giving God Control


I feel like so many emotions have been rushing through my head recently. Loss, grief, anxiety, fear, eternity, much has been overwhelming. I feel like my mind keeps getting taken from one to the next and I can't concentrate on one thing.

Lately I've been trying to look for God and ask for His will to be done instead of my own. It's been so hard and is so unpredictable. I can't stand unpredictability- I like things planned out and certain. Even just giving up my grandmother's life into God's hands was hard. I knew that He was able to take better care of her than I could. Seeing just how much confidence and love she had in God was so character-changing to me. Her confidence and trust in Him showed me that I too should have that same faith. It really challenged me.

Sometimes in this life there are things we wish we could control. We want things to happen a certain way but everything we try to do just fails. We try so hard and every door seems to be slammed in our face. It hurts after a while and it gets tiring. But when you feel like you want to give up and you've given it all you've got- go to God and ask for His will to be done. Maybe you've been seeking your own will and not God's.

I have found myself in that place more often than I should. I try so hard to have my will work out and do everything within me to get it done the way I want and not do it God's way. It just shows how much I don't like getting out of my comfort zone and trusting other people. I have such a hard time giving other people control of my life, I guess because so many have seemed to fail me before and let me down.

So if you have something in your life right now that you feel is too heavy to carry anymore - just give it to God. Ask Him to take a hold of it and take it off your shoulders. You don't have to carry the heavy weight anymore- it was never yours to carry. God's got it and He'll carry it for you now. Give it to Him and He will do what is best with the things in your life.


Matthew 11:28
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."

Philippians 4:6
 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 

Luke 11:9
 So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Michael V. Reynold

Encourage/Discourage - which is correct?

Encourage, not discourage! It's a simple slogan that carries a lot of weight. But how many of us really ponder over it. To be encouraged or discouraged by someone is our choice and similarly to encourage or discourage someone is our decision.
Have you ever helped a person get out of an enigmatic situation? If you have then you can really understand what encouragement means.
Have you been around people who seem to attract others? It’s a pleasure being with them and they make you feel easy and comfortable. I call them the encouraging people.
Often in your path towards your goal, you’ll find both kinds (encouraging & discouraging people). It’s your decision to decide what you want out of yourself. There are times when even a single encouraging word can save someone’s life, or can change his/her attitude towards life. But at the same time, a discouraging word can inspire the person to take a challenge and achieve his/her goal.

I think it depends on the person and the purpose for which he’s being encouraged or discouraged. What do you have to say??

A True Act of Love.

These past few days have been different and have had ups and downs. We all go through ups and downs in our lives and often feel happy one minute, and down the next. It's hard to feel content for long in this life. We may feel loved, happy, successful and talented for a little, but then the happiness soon fades away and we are discouraged once again.

Lately I've been having trouble feeling accepted and loved. It seems like people always let you down and leave you feeling unqualified. You feel like you are easily replaced and not needed or wanted. I feel like most of the people I know have just shoved me out of their life and it hurts sometimes. One minute you feel important and loved, and then the next you feel like they could care less if you lived or even existed.

Today while I was feeling down, I remembered the love God has for all of us. I remembered that God loves us all even though He sees all our mistakes and imperfections. When we are broken and are in need of sustaining, God will still stay with us and be near to us. Sometimes I feel like He draws us closer when things are harder- unlike the people we often know in this world. From some of the past friends I've had, when things got hard and trying in my life my friends fled in an instant. Sometimes it seems like all people ever want is attention and to feel secure. They don't want a friendship or to care about you. They just want something out of you.

It hurts feeling used by someone and not feeling worthy of love. It hurts when someone only wants what you can give them, and doesn't care if they give anything in return. It seems like recently in my life I've tried to give more of myself, and I feel like I've got nothing back but silence. It hurts even though I know it shouldn't matter if I get anything back. But sometimes so much silence and lack of love gets to you. You feel like there's no reason to give anymore or even try to do what is right.

But you know what? God sees all that you are doing. It's not going unnoticed. And when you feel like you aren't getting anything in return, God knows how you feel. He has showed so much love to so many people and they just shove that love back in His face and outright reject Him. I know that's gotta hurt! God understands our pain and sees all that we are doing with good intentions. And no matter how many people reject us, avoid us and let us down God will always love us more than anyone else and He will always be there for us no matter what happens. He will never let us down or  forget us. Often it may seem like He's not there or He doesn't love us, but often Satan tries to use feelings to get to our hearts to make us doubt. Don't lose your faith and trust in God. He's got reasoning for what you're going through.

His act of love on Easter shows just how much He loved you. He sent His only Son to this earth so that He could show us all just how much love He has for us. It was a way that we could see just a glimpse of the love He has for us and the willingness He had to take His life and suffer so much just for us. Nobody else has ever suffered as much for us and will never do more for us than He did. If you feel unloved today and wonder if anyone cares for you, know that God loves you today. He sees your heart, your mistakes, your past, your future, and He still loves you more than anyone. And even when things seem the darkest, it gets better. Jesus died and was put in the tomb, but on the third day He rose again and lives today! If you feel like your life is at a standstill and seems so dark, know that God is working still and you will rise up from the valley and see the sun once again!

Keep doing what is right and don't lose hope. Someone loves you more than you will ever know and He sees all that you are doing!

Sunday, April 20, 2014


                        Lately I've been having so much trouble finding joy in my life. It seems like everyday is a new struggle to wake up to. Everyday leaves me feeling burdened and aching. I can't remember the last time when I felt carefree and happy inside with no worries. The past few days have been so stressful and upsetting with making up homework for college, grieving my best-friend death  figuring out future college plans and emailing tons of college professors for guidance and assistance.

A week that I was supposed to be spending with my friends family after his funeral everything has turned into such a stressful week trying to get tons done. Why can't anything ever be simple? I feel like college has made me so stressed out recently and has left me feeling empty and questioning where God is in my life. I feel like most people don't  seem to understand the effort and heartaches of emailing college professors, meeting with deans and advisors beyond belief to try to work out my schedule and figure out classes- it has just left me worn and frail. Trying to put more effort into my work in my classes has not even shown for most of my classes and it has made me feel disappointed and discouraged that no matter how hard I try it just turns out average and my hard work is overlooked once again.

Lately I have just felt worried and stressed out beyond belief over things that I know don't really matter to most people, but they are so important to me. I think we all have things like that in our own life. We get so stressed over the littlest things but to others they are insignificant and often people don't understand the depth and hurt it causes. They don't realize just how much something hurts or the impact it makes on you.

Job 56:1-2
If only my anguish could be weighted and all my misery be placed on the scales!
It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas.

Nobody truly understands what you have gone through. Nobody knows the effort you put into things. Nobody knows how deeply something hurt you. Nobody knows the searing pain you've felt. Nobody knows the letdowns you've faced. Nobody knows the disgrace you feel when you are neglected. Nobody has seen all the tears you've cried. Nobody has seen the fake smiles you show to cover the pain inside. Nobody knows how hard you have tried to hold it all together. Nobody knows the amount of courage it takes to get up in the morning.

Sometimes it seems like nobody understands, and that probably is true, but know that God sees your pain, tears, heartaches, trials and fears. He knows everything about you. He has collected your tears and knows the hairs on your head (most of us don't even know that about ourselves). God knows you inside and out and He has a plan for all that happens in our life. Bad things happen to us and often it hurts more than most people see. Sometimes the pain never truly goes away but it can always teach us something.

The past few days I have been feeling upset with God with the life He's given me. Things have gotten so hard lately and I just can't stand another let-down. Everyday it's something else that is thrown my way. I've just been getting so weary with so much being thrown at me. I don't know how much longer I can stand it and remain strong. Today was the breaking point- I felt like everything hit harder today. I just couldn't take it anymore and I just needed to let some of it out from all that I've been holding inside. I felt like God was just slamming so many doors in my face and everything was coming back "no." Lately I've been so tired of hearing no or wait. I just need to find hope for the future, because right now there's nothing but pain.

When you feel like all you have is pain and heartaches in your life remind yourself of your eternal home. The pain that you've been feeling down here is only temporary. Remind yourself of the joy you will feel when you reach heaven knowing you didn't give up when the going got hard. Keep strong and know that God is in this life with you- you are not in it alone. You may be going through your darkest night, but know the sun will come up in the morning and all will be made right.

Michael V. Reynold

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The truth

How often do you look at yourself in the mirror? Most people look at themselves in the mirror only when they are dressing up, putting on make-up, comb their hair, and brush their teeth. What I am talking about is looking at yourself in the mirror for more than 10 minutes. I asked this question to my best friend and friends and found out that some of them just throw on their clothes and barely look at themselves for more than a minute. That’s what they do every day! Hey I did that until last year.

One thing you should do is first stare at yourself in the mirror for at least 5 minutes. Are you able to look into your eyes and say you’re happy with yourself? Are you happy with the way you look and feel? Some people can’t even look at themselves in the mirror. I have seen a man look into the mirror and punch the mirror breaking it to pieces. He just hated himself and how his life was turned out. He thought about himself to be a failure. Do you feel like that sometimes? If you do, I want to say that you have the talents and the power to change your way of thinking.

Rally yourself up.

Make a list with positive things about yourself including what you want to become. Now I am no psychologist but I use to do this when I was in High school  and freshman year of college before I took a Calculus test. I started doing this again last year. Now go to the mirror and tell yourself what you wrote on the list. Do this every day and believe it. You see our whole lives we had been surrounded by negative people. Family, friends and strangers may have put you down and put limitations. As result it went into our subconscious minds and we began to believe it. This causes a person to get low self-esteem and get on the defensive and walk around like they have a force field.

Relax and be Persistent

If you keep looking into the mirror and telling yourself positive things your life will transform. When you start believe that you have a beautiful mind and a unique body god has given you. You become what you say. People will see you different in the way you carry yourself. Your whole inner being becomes free and you see things more clearly. The chains of insecurity that held your thoughts captive will be broken. Success will definitely follow you in whatever you do.


“No man is free who is not master of Himself”

“Know first who you are; then adorn yourself accordingly.”

“First say to yourself what you would be and then do what you have to do”…Epictetus Philosopher.

 Written by Michael V. Reynold

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Kids trafficking

After watching the news this morning it saddens me to see that  in our present day, slavery still exists and the exploitation of the poor and weak are deepening poverty ( financial poverty, spiritual poverty, and emotional poverty) around the world. Human trafficking and slavery affects 161 countries around the world.  From these 161 countries, 90% of them are countries poverty stricken, leaving them vulnerable to such atrocities. There are many forms of slavery; each one of these is both damaging to the enslaved person AND also hinders a country’s growth and development. The three main areas that are affected by slavery are the labor force, education, and sociological and psychological aspects of a country. Human trafficking is largely a misunderstood subject, to better introduce the topic, here are definitions of different types of slavery that occur:

Forced Labor: forced labor may result when unscrupulous employers take advantage of gaps in law enforcement to exploit vulnerable workers. Forced labor is a form of human trafficking that is often harder to identify and estimate than sex trafficking. This occurs very frequently in sweatshops around the world, where workers are not allowed to leave or form unions. It may not involve the same criminal networks profiting from transnational sex trafficking. Instead, it may involve individuals who subject workers to involuntary servitude, perhaps through forced or coerced household or factory work.

Bonded Labor: One form of force or coercion is the use of a bond, or debt, to keep a person under subjugation. This is referred to in law and policy as “bonded labor” or “debt bondage.” An example of this is when people pay a smuggler a fee to smuggle them into another country. Then they work in exploitative conditions in order to pay off their debt.

Debt Bondage Among Migrant Workers: The vulnerability of migrant laborers to trafficking schemes is especially disturbing because the population is sizable in some regions. There are three potential contributing factors: (1) abuse of contracts; (2) inadequate local laws governing the recruitment and employment of migrant laborers; and (3) intentional imposition of exploitative and often illegal costs and debts on these laborers in the source country, often with the support of labor agencies and employers in the destination country.

Involuntary Domestic Servitude: A form of forced labor is that of involuntary domestic workers, whose workplace is informal, connected to their off-duty living quarters, and not often shared with other workers. There are numerous cases of young women being taken from poorer countries and smuggled into the U.S with promises of schooling,  however when they get to the U.S (this occurs mostly in middle class suburban neighborhoods) they are forced to work long hours with no pay and in isolation.

Forced Child Labor: The sale and trafficking of children and their entrapment in bonded and forced labor are among the worst forms of child labor. Any child who is subject to involuntary servitude, debt bondage, peonage, or slavery through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, is a victim of human trafficking regardless of the location of that exploitation.

Child Soldiers: Child soldiering is a unique and severe manifestation of trafficking in persons that involves the unlawful recruitment of children— often through force, fraud, or coercion—for labor or sexual exploitation in conflict areas

Sex Trafficking: Sex trafficking comprises a significant portion of overall human trafficking. When a person is coerced, forced, or deceived into prostitution, or maintained in prostitution through coercion, that person is a victim of trafficking

Child Sex Trafficking: According to UNICEF, as many as two million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade. International covenants and protocols obligate criminalization of the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The use of children in the commercial sex trade is prohibited under both U.S. law and the UN TIP Protocol. 

Poverty and slavery

Slavery contributes to a country’s poverty because it inhibits the labor force from reaching its full potential. Construction, research, farming, technological development, and hundreds of other occupations contribute to the betterment of a country. With a strong labor force, a country can work together and slowly work itself out of poverty. Slavery, on the other hand, battles against this movement and emotionally scars, emaciates and inhibits the creative power the labor force of a developing country. The work that these enslaved people are putting into their slavery should instead be directed to their home country’s economy and development. The revenue and economic benefits that the human traffickers generate rarely flows into the country where the slave is originated from.  For example, many American Products are produced in sweatshops, these products produce economic benefits for the United States since we enjoy many low priced goods at the expense of human trafficking. Sweatshops produce a minimal benefit to the local regions they operate in.  These enslaved men and women should be working on their own farms, factories, or starting their own businesses and contributing to their own country’s economy, instead of increasing the wealth of other countries.

2.Effects on education

Education is a second area that is affected by slavery.  Lack of education greatly hinders a country’s ability to emerge out of poverty. In my research on the subject I see that  in  2009, it was estimated that the total number of people enslaved in the world was about 27 million. Out of these 27 million 50% are children (Human). That’s a total of 13.5 million children that are forced or lured away from their homes. These 13.5 million children, ranging anywhere from 5 to 14, are not given any form of education. Of course, it is to be expected. If the human traffickers and “pimps” won’t even provide safe and human living conditions, then why would they bother on spending on their slaves’ education?

According to Alexander L. Peaslee, “In the last one hundred years significant economic growth has been achieved only in those countries in which a high proportion of the total population is found in primary schools”. Education is crucial to a country’s development. It plays a major role in technological advancement, medicine, health, economic development, and other key areas. With education people can be informed of the dangers of AIDS, HIV, and other diseases. In addition, with a good education, they will not find the need to resort to the scams and false promises that human traffickers have to offer. Education is necessary and if 13.5 million children worldwide are being forced into slavery and deprived of an education, then the countries affected by slavery will struggle with their future development and escape from poverty.

“Kidnapped from their villages when they are as young as five years old, between 200,000 and 300,000 children are held captive in locked rooms and forced to weave on looms for food. In India, Haiti-as well in other countries—the issue of slavery is exacerbated by a rigid caste system."

3. Effects on the people’s sociology and psychology

“In a post slavery societies where the colonial settlers co-exist with natives and descendants of freed slaves, there persists a culture of absolute economic and social segregation, discrimination, injustice and inequality against natives and descendants of freed slaves. It is a world in which the natives,  freed slaves and colored peoples are marginalized to the extent that they have been perpetually deprived of their lands, voices, beliefs and customs; they have no say in decisions affecting their existence and welfare” (Overcoming).

Slavery not only cripples a country’s work force and education, but also destroys cultures and people’s physical and mental state of being. Those who escape slavery are left with physical scars, long-term psychological damages, and are “misfits” in society with their lack of education and the severity of their trauma. They are demoralized, marginalized, and scarred physically, mentally, and spiritually. In a nutshell, without the proper help and support, their freedom can mean nothing with their past and trauma haunting them every second of their lives. These cripples a country. Children that are abused rarely return to normal lives. On the other hand, they will live in conflict with society and either join gangs or sort to drugs and alcohol. The effects that slavery has on countries affected by slavery is incomprehensible and irreparable.

Written by, 
Michael V. Reynold

The challenges of modern life

Women and their children face more and more problems nowadays. Why them in particular? Because for the first time in history, women have numerous ways to choose not to obey their husbands or communities – as they feel oppressed or are victims of violence and discrimination. This in turn affects their children, because they witness the violence, sometimes lose the opportunity to go to school or because they suffer from the consequences. If a mother has work and raise kids all alone, without the right help and institutions this often causes children to suffer from preventable diseases as the family has to move to improper housing, downgrade its living standards (hygiene, foods), etc...

Our societies are going through deep changes worldwide and guaranteeing one’s freedom means also guaranteeing their basic rights: access to employment, housing and healthcare. In the case of women’s emancipation, it’s not just about their rights or freedom anymore, but it’s also about making sure that their children’s rights (e.g. education, basic needs) are respected as well.

Michel reynold

Friday, April 11, 2014

Causes and effects of poverty

Several issues like hunger, illness and thirst are both causes and effects - for instance: not having water means you're poor, but being poor also means you can't afford water or food. In a sense, they’re a characteristic of poverty in that they define poverty. Therefore, you should always look at both ends of the problem - and you can refer to the article on the causes of poverty to complete the picture.

The poverty cycle

The effects of poverty are most often interrelated so that one problem hardly ever occurs alone. For instance, bad sanitation makes it easier to spread around old and new diseases, and hunger and lack of water make people more vulnerable to them.

Impoverished communities often suffer from discrimination and end up caught in cycles of poverty. Let's find out just what this means concretely.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Education, women & family poverty.

7 The common challenge that millions of women face around the world is having to raise a family on their own. Of course there are different reasons for that. In some countries, women run away from their violent husbands, in others the husband died from preventable diseases, sometimes it’s a simple case of divorce and so on.

The real problem comes after when women have to make a living all while raising their kids on their own. Most of the time, this situation creates more family poverty, be it for a few years or for a lifetime. The core of the problem is that in many countries, to begin with the United States, a single salary isn’t enough to sustain a family. That's where they fall into poverty. This is a systemic problem of the labor market that simply doesn’t provide wages high enough at the so-called bottom of the pyramid (i.e. where the poorest are).

The education trap

While welfare programs do alleviate poverty, in the case of the US for example, it’s become obvious that they often don’t help actually lifting people out of poverty. They just make life in poverty more livable.

There are several reasons for that and trying to sum up the whole situation in one sentence is just simplistic and idiotic. Why ? Because these families have very different needs. In some cases, the best way out is to invest in children’s education, but most countries have failed to do so and the result is none of these kids go to university.

In other cases, it’s women who need education and by developing a few well-chosen skills they could actually earn a decent living that could reduce family poverty. But training programs aren’t for everyone either, some women already have experience or specific job skills and need economic support while waiting for the job market and the economy to be fixed. Hoping that happens sooner than later. Or maybe they need help with job-hunting, finding and targeting the right sectors which can make good use of their skills (e.g. help with CVs, job search or job interviews).

Women, at the center of families

In recent years, new tools to lift women out of poverty (e.g. micro-credit) have completed a very limited list of strategies dedicated to fight the feminization of poverty. But governments shouldn't ignore the basic changes that can turn millions of lives around - as it happened in developed countries in the 20th century. In Europe, the world wars caused very deep social changes by bringing women into the factories since men were busy fighting on the front.

Long story short, the changes that have had the biggest impact were all based on the idea of gender equality: providing women the same rights as men. That entails, giving them the right to own land, to start and own a business, but also the right to access common goods and services: healthcare, legal help, employment but also tools and resources shared by a community (e.g. land, forest).

They work more than you’d think…

The result of recent studies on families living in poverty pointed out the huge amount of work that women carry out by taking care of their kids and helping out in their community all while going to work (when possible). But what made a difference in terms of bringing equality of rights for women has been the presence of organized groups who campaigned together and shared information and skills to find jobs and create change in their country.

After all, single parent families are often made of women who decided to build a new home because life under their husband’s roof was not bearable. In a sense, these women live in less poverty than they previously did, but they often need support to set up this new life - as anyone would.

The best strategy is always to offer both job opportunities and training, along with social safety nets to help with the kids and coping with the temporary lack of income. And this obviously means that governments should make sure that women and children are entitled the same rights as those with higher social status. But then again, that's if they really want to fight family poverty. More often than not, they really couldn't care less.

Rich vs Poor

Rich vs Poor: Promoting Mutual Understanding
by Michael V. Reynold 
(Saline Michigan)

Following the course of major social problems such as poverty, drug abuse, violence, and oppression, it often seems that nothing works. Government programs come and go as political parties swing us back and forth between stock answers whose only effect seems to be who gets elected. If standing cause of chronic suffering there is.
Live in a big colony, and the building has 30 floors. There's a beautiful sea view from my house, 15th floor. But between my building and the highway before the sea, there is a huge slum.

I really feel bad, as for them living in front of rich people must be really sad. Looking at us they must be feeling really bad as they don't even have basic amenities.

I have a maid who lives in that slum. She comes two times a day in my house but she works very hard so that she can provide an education to her 2 sons and daughter and above all feed them. Her husband is an auto driver but doesn't give her a penny. My parents too make sure that she and her kids get the basic needs of life. Through her savings she shifted to a rented house of 1 BHK.

Now after 4 years of work in my house, she is like a member of our family. She is well-respected too. She is a role model for that whole slum area and even for people like me as she taught us that "handwork and perseverance is the key to any problem".

People just see and feel disgusted about the mess created by slums. But the first step to tackle this issue - reduction of poverty - must be to promote the mutual understanding of both worlds. And we need to spread awareness about an economically well-developed nation. If a nation is developed or even just a particular region, it makes a lot of difference in reducing poverty. 
As a society, then, we are stuck, and we’ve been stuck for a long time. One reason we’re stuck is that the problems are huge and complex. But on a deeper level, we tend to think about them in ways that keep us from getting at their complexity in the first place. It is a basic tenet of sociological practice that to solve a social problem we have to begin by seeing it as social. Without this, we look in the wrong place for explanations and in the wrong direction for visions of change.

Thinking with families, not for them

Thinking with families, not for them

It can be very tempting for governments to try to impose a certain lifestyle on people, especially on women, according to what they believe is right for them. All around the world, men think and debate on behalf of women about what they think is best for them… which often reflects their own interests rather than those of the female-headed families.

The problem with this is that it’s based purely on personal beliefs and views rather than facts and reality. They think that families in poverty are poor because they’re lazy or because they’re just not cut for education and getting high skilled jobs. In other words, pure discrimination plays a big role in causing family poverty. In this sense, many welfare programs actually do more harm than good – because they were not designed with families’ real interests in mind or with real data to craft their programs.

What welfare is needed then?

An efficient welfare program needs to realize that women have very different needs. And the thing is, welfare alone can’t do the job for a whole country. It needs to be completed with an education system and a job market that are effective and deliver their promises.

There are recurring problems that create ever more family poverty across several countries and that need very different types of support:

Healthcare costs are a huge burden on the finances. In rich and poor countries, families can’t save any money because of this;
The same goes for child care, especially with single mothers who need help with their kids when they have to go to work;
Providing parenting support with nurses and experts on education. If the parents are separated, fathers should be encouraged to help as well. When living in poverty, parents can be under a great deal of stress that will affect their children one way or another (alcohol, substance abuse, work-related stress and hence lack of patience).
Other ways to alleviate family poverty

Other key changes that will change the life of millions of families in poverty is to make sure the minimum wage is set at a level allowing them to live decent lives. Also, offering sexual education and contraception helps prevent unwanted pregnancies that are a major cause of poverty in teenagers. This is one of the main reasons for young women dropping out of school and it causes them massive problems to find a job later on.

What else ? Making sure people have a right to affordable, decent housing (i.e. not slums) can make a huge difference. It is in fact one of the most basic human rights, recognized by most countries in the world, but guaranteed by only a few. What’s more, it goes without saying that building a "healthy" economy that provides jobs for everyone can lift millions of families out of poverty…

In the end, whatever type of welfare you go for, make sure it remains focused on women’s and children’s well-being (education, hygiene, diet). Investing in well-being and in people’s needs remains one of the best ways to tackle poverty in the long run.

Written by Michael V. Reynold.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What is Haiti trip like? A volunteer's reflection.

Friday, April 27, 2012 – Armed with a packed day with meetings in the office, folks are asking “are you ready for the Haiti trip?” I say “yes”, or at least I think so. My bags are mostly packed. My work related items are ready to be left in the hands of others and my ToDo list is diminishing.
As for those two bags at home, one is filled with my personal belongings for the week away and the other bag is filled with items to be left behind for the locals we run across. This “other bag of stuff” is filled with deflated soccer balls, stuffed teddy bears, musical instruments and a variety of gum, candy, cookies plus more edible treats.
I am eager to invest time this evening and Saturday with family and then awake very early Sunday morning for my drive to IAH to join Ben Neikirk for the 7AM flight to Miami. There we will connect with our entire Convergint team of travelers for an afternoon flight towards Port au Prince, Haiti.
Saturday, April 28, 2012 – Today was spent with my youngest of two daughters and taking in one of my favorite past times...we went to a sanctioned NHRA event for exhilarating speed, noise and display of horsepower. We enjoyed the carnival food, fast cars and great father/daughter conversations.
Returning home to pack those last minute items, my daughter and I stopped for pizza thinking this would be my last great meal prior to arriving in Haiti. Returning home around 9PM, my best friend and girlfriend came over for a root beer float, a relaxing evening on the big comfy couch and a movie. In bed by 10:30PM, sleep was short as I had to awake at 4:30AM to shower and shave prior to placing my oversized bags into Sandi’s car for a chauffeured drive to the Houston Airport.
Sunday, April 29, 2012 – Awaking and gathering all items for this well planned journey, I phoned my dear mother in route to the airport and said goodbye for the week. Once at the airport, I said the same to Sandi. Checking in for the flight, I was quickly reminded of Ben’s upgrade of my seat into 1st class towards Miami. How cool is that? Gotta love the fact that Ben goes out of his way to live his life purpose and help many in his midst. Thanks Ben!
Once in Miami, we met our sponsors from Poured Out and began to learn of each day’s agenda. Per the itinerary that was voiced of our daily activities, we looked forward to the hard work and bonding we will accomplish as a team. I state that I am eager to meet the locals and also interested in getting to know a bit about them. I prayed that our short week will promote change in many hearts of those traveling plus allow for insight and growth in many ways.
Now some 30,000 feet in the air and soon touching down in Miami, I will be greeted by 30 other Convergint colleagues who will also be eager to continue our journey into Haiti. Many of us had read the stories, gleaned pictures, swapped stories and visited a variety of web sites learning all we could about this country we would soon be arriving. We all were quite prepared to confirm our emotions about this extremely poor and devastated country.
Arriving in Miami as planned, many of the Convergint colleagues I knew, yet there were a few I had met for the first time. Approximately 1/3 of us were a little hungry so us hungry folks went to locate what could be considered our last good meal for the week. Locating food and now armed with full bellies, we boarded the seemingly full 757, pushed off and were Haiti bound at 2:50PM EST. While in the air, the pilot advised that the flight would be 2 hours gate to gate and the weather in Haiti is forecasted for rain upon arrival. Gleaning the week’s forecast for Haiti prior to leaving Houston, I was surprised to see rain in nearly every day while we would be in country. The percentage of rain was 70%-90% each day. Not knowing if this meant a little rain each day or rain all day, our spirits were not minimized at all. Rain or shine, we are ready to tackle the 47 Bio Sand Filters plus larger water
filtration projects within local communities and the small school construction project we will tackle tomorrow.
While meeting/greeting the Poured Out team, I was impressed with this rather grass roots team that will be accompanying us on this mission. Many of the Poured Out folks had made one initial trip and decided to return as often as possible. Truly feeling as this trip will not only be fun, educational, and beneficial to us Convergint folks, we are pumped that we have been provided this opportunity to provide aide to many families we will be serving. Per the Poured Out sponsors, the itinerary was set many months ago with local leaders in each community. These local leaders are typically Directors in a local church community and the locations of our week’s work had been pre-selected due to a large number of factors.
When asking the Poured Out Sponsors of the typical group size, I was surprised to hear an answer of 12-15 people. Our 31 Convergint colleagues were applauded by our sponsors for being their largest group to date. Oh, I was also advised that should we get all 47 Bio Sand Filters installed this week, all previous records will be shattered.
Now that we were airborne, all passengers on Flight AA803 are of many walks of life. Although few looked missions minded, many looked business oriented and traveling for commerce purposes. I am curious to see how everyone disburses upon deplaning. Better sign off for the moment, as I need to get those Customs Forms completed and watch this in-flight movie. Quick question? I wonder if my bags are below? What about the bags of all others on our team?
Landing in Port au Prince was quite uneventful and
clearing customs took very little time. With 60+
bags belonging to all of us Convergint colleagues,
we managed to only have one bag as a no show.
Although this missing bag could have been a loss, it
was one of the extra bags packed with items to be
left behind and this bag was promised to be
delivered to us the very next day. So glad to have heard this so the locals would receive some goodies...
Loading all of us and our bags for the trip to Petit Guave, some of us rode inside of trucks, some in full size vans and most rode in the open beds of pickup trucks. While in route to Petit Guave from Port au Prince, the 37 mile drive took over three hours. Road conditions and people on the move make this short distance a very long drive. Driving through many smaller cities of villages was quite visual. We saw devastation and wide spread chaos everywhere. The devastation we saw does not begin to explain the hundreds of tent cities we passed.
Seeing all styles of homes and buildings along this interesting road, I was shocked to see the low quality of home structures and overall living conditions. Piles of trash were everywhere (often littering the streets) and the large quantity of “tents” or structures comprised of tarp material were everywhere. So many people and many appeared to be jobless.
Our initial glimpse took us back emotionally, yet we
began to see that these people were beautiful in so
many ways. Most were well dressed and some were
in suits, dresses, etc. And most clothing worn by the
people were very white plus clean. At this point we
had not seen people who looked sick and we
assumed that there had to be many who were sick or injured but were being cared for by the families/communities inside of those thousands of tents we passed.
It is now 11:30PM local time and we arrived safely at the compound. We met a few families on the compound and they were friendly plus helpful. Once we scoped out the compound in the dark, we all set out to set up our beds with the required bed bug coverings for mattresses, nets for thwarting off mosquitoes and then set out for our 1st debrief as a group in the compound’s dining hall. Teams were assigned for the next day’s activities. At this 1st debrief we were formally introduced to the many Poured Out personnel who were local, as we had flown with the US based persons from Miami. These personnel pertained to Construction, Medical, Security, Translators, Team Leads, etc. All appear to have been very experienced and round out a qualified team.

Michael V. Reynold

Monday, April 7, 2014

Today is a good day.
Today I woke up in a hammock on a rooftop with the star-speckled sky and a monstrous mountain as my panorama.
Today the breeze is warm and the air is salty and the mosquitos aren’t biting.
Today a precious deaf orphan named Kerby climbed up and down me like I was a tree and he was the cutest monkey in the world.
Today a pastor’s eyes welled with tears as he stumbled over the right words to make me believe that which I already know; his community desperately needs clean water.
Today I drove a truck through thousands of high-speed motorcycles and cars and people and only barely hit one market stand.
Today I heard my King’s word preached in a beautiful, foreign, passionate tongue –and I understood it.
Today I ate pancakes and a chicken-hot-dog and sweet plantains.
Today I watched a circle of grown men in rocking chairs open their hearts to Haiti for the first time.
Today I floated out of my skin as a hundred harmonic beautiful voices swirled into the sky, praising God for one more safe night’s passing.
Today the sun was scorching til the clouds were plenty.
Today I was scared that a mob of charcoal-black-painted parading people might significantly hurt me.
Today I drove down the road with a truck full of charcoal-black-painted celebrating young people, singing together and high-fiving all the way.
Today I saw a 100-year old lady dance for her Maker.
Today I saw plastic wrap used for kites and basketballs used for soccer and soap on a stick used as a magic wand.
Today I
Lived in
Breathed in
Reveled in
The beautiful chaos
that constructs my calling.
May Yahweh grant me the strength of spirit, perseverance of will, and clarity of vision
to see tomorrow as the same. 
-Michael V. Reynold
JULY 20, 2013

Dear Partners in Ministry,

“I just got my heart back!” 

Those words, along with a flood of emotion, came to mind as I entered the Gulf Coast on my third disaster relief trip following Hurricane Katrina.  I told many people after my previous trip that “I left my heart down there with those devastated people.”  Many of you know that Disaster Relief has a huge place in my heart.  I was actively pursuing opportunities to do Disaster Relief ministry full-time when God called us to Haiti back in 2009.  There are no doubts that God opened the door and called our family to Haiti to serve among a people who live in a constant state of disaster.  Our family answered God’s call to go, and we feel a great sense of satisfaction and completion from our time in Haiti with Global Partners.  However, my heart never got away from Disaster Relief.  Anyone who has volunteered for Disaster Relief has witnessed the impact this ministry has on the people devastated by natural disasters. They have also seen God’s hand perform miracles.  One lady in Orange, Texas shared the following emotional testimony on video. 

I am Cindy Jackson.  When Rita came through it destroyed another home I had.  I was able to take my insurance money and buy this home.  Then Ike came through and paid us a visit, and I had approximately a foot and a half of water, and no flood insurance.  It ruined a lot of things in my home.  The enemy tried to throw me in a pit…this wonderful organization called World Hope showed up…James told me he would send a guy over to look at my electrical, and when I came there was a whole crew of angels on my driveway.  It truly felt like in the body of Christ how you know its one thing to say things but to see it enacted.  Jesus’ hands were on my driveway.  At first I was overwhelmed… and couldn’t believe that someone was here to help like that.  I want to thank you all for coming and giving me hope for the future.  God just continues to show His hands by sending people to help.  Thank you for doing what we as Christians are sent out to do.

I was blessed to be the leader of that “whole crew of angels” on her driveway, and I would need much more time to tell the amazing chain of events that actually made it possible for us to be the “hands of Jesus” on her driveway that day.

Heidi and I want to thank you once again for your prayers for and financial support of our family’s ministry in Haiti during our term with Global Partners. We are so thankful to finally announce that I have been offered and accepted a ministry position with Poured Out.  This group ministers through Disaster Relief in the United States and in Haiti through bringing life-giving water to areas where there is no potable water.  The base of operations for Poured Out is in Michigan, but they have decided to add a “Southern Connection” to the ministry.  I will respond to disaster stricken areas inside the US and lead short-term mission teams to Haiti from our base of operations in South Carolina.  Poured Out is not an official ministry of the Wesleyan Church, but will soon have status similar to World Hope International in the way it is recognized by the Wesleyan Church.  One of the founders of the Poured Out ministry is an ordained Wesleyan pastor, and a recent press release on called Poured Out “the disaster and relief partner of The Wesleyan Church.”  However, the ministry partners with businesses and other denominations to bring clean water to orphanages and villages in Haiti, and to bring much needed assistance to people affected by disasters. 

Poured Out is a faith-based ministry just like Global Partners and requires their missionaries to raise support in the same way.  It is a registered 501(c)3 Non Profit, and can receive tax deductible contributions.  We would appreciate your prayerful consideration to continue supporting us through another organization. However, we will understand if you are unable to do so. Please let us know at your earliest convenience if you will be able to continue your support of our ministry as we transition to our role with Poured Out.  I will send more information about how donations can be made to Poured Out for our support once I receive your response.

You can read more about Preventive health strategies and meaningful missions and poured out. 
"The more you have going for you the more potential you have for identity issues. Why? Because it’s easier to base your identity on the wrong things. It’s rather ironic, but the greatest blessings can become the greatest curse simply because they undermine our reliance upon God and become a source of pride instead of relying on God’s grace, you rely on your brilliant mind or charming personality or good looks. Instead of living out the motto in God we trust, we trust the dollar bill that saying is inscribed on. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with money, smarts, charm, and all the rest. They are gifts from God. But if you fail to praise God for them, they will become a source of pride. Pride is simply the failure to praise. And the lack of praise always gives rise to pride. The Creator has hardwired you to worship. In fact, you can’t not worship. The question is not whether you will worship. All of us worship all the time. The question is who will you worship? And you have only two options either you will worship God with a G or you will worship a god with a g. And if you choose to worship the god of you, you will become a disappointing little God to yourself and all who worship you. Ultimately, all identity problems are really worship problems. Identity issues are the result of worshiping the wrong thing. " (Street Cred -Kelly Greene)
I owe my God so much praise today, he has blessed me with this wonderful opportunity to worship him through serving the people of Haiti with clean water; he has blessed me with great health; he has protected me and my team through some of crazy experiences that are now becoming normal. I sit here reflecting after an extremely long day of travel yesterday. A day that started at 4am from Detroit, then to New York were you have to go through TSA again (figure it out LaGuardia), then down to Miami where I watched hundreds of people scramble through the airport on their way to some wonderful spring break destination. I completely forgot that it was spring break due to being completely overwhelmed and consumed with working, traveling and everything else going on in life. But in that moment I began to thank and praise my God for what I get to do instead of vacation. I thought to myself, thank you Lord for allowing me to spend the next 6 days maintaing 9 water filtration systems that you have blessed our organization with. You have provided the funds, the people, and the technology to supply thousands of people with clean drinking water. And it’s my “job” to maintain them! We began to board another plane down to Haiti were I could predict a Haitian would be sitting in my seat on the plane. Sure enough I happen to come to my row and there he was, as innocent as possible but totally guilty of taking my seat. I just had to chuckle. Landed in Haiti, and as normal had to wait forever for our bags, something that we have grown totally used to. It is nice to finally be in a place were I don’t have to stress about not having my stuff, or my needs, or my problems fixed now! I have learned to rely on God to provide the resources in Haiti that he sees fit for our mission, so if that means I don’t have any clothes for the week, that means I don’t have clothes the week. 
God continuously shows his power and protection over our team. We’ve had to travel through the night in our truck the past two nights and haven’t had a single issue mechanically. He also granted me the strength and focus to drive tonight not only through Port Au Prince in the dark but during Carnival crowds. I did, however, get stopped twice tonight by the police which ended both times in a bribe to remove the hilarious accusations. I couldn’t help but pull our team together after the ride and praise the Almighty. He deserves so much more praise then we give him as an organization, and WAY more then what I give him. I’m thankful for a roof over our head tonight as the rain begins to trickle down in Petit Goave and extremely thankful for the people that he has surrounded me with this week and in life. 
Today before our trip into Port Au Prince we stopped in at Papette Wesleyan Church and School to check up on our waterhouse that was built by Fall Creek Wesleyan Church in Indiana. The first thing I noticed when opening the door of the waterhouse was the 133,000 gallons of clean water that had been made since September. The Lord literally poured out his presence upon me as I stood in amazement that he can just take willing and able servants to bring life and clean water to the church, school and community. I began to discuss with the Pastor Wilzor and another leader of Papette a few minor changes that I wanted to make with the system to increase it’s productivity. He began to share with me about how he was so appreciative of Poured Out and the blessing of the waterhouse. He couldn’t believe how much we cared about the project and how we took responsibility to come and check up on the filter. I realized today that not only do we as staff of Poured Out watch so many water projects in Haiti get neglected and left, but the local leaders noticed them too. I began to thank him and his staff for watching over the project, protecting the equipment, and for taking care and responsibility of the project. Again I can only praise my God for what he has allowed me to be responsible for, to care for, and to serve him through. I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and live life for the God-moments in villages like Papette and Fondoux. Pray for our team this week as we will be driving quite a bit, and through the celebrating villages as Carnival begins tomorrow and pray for those coming to be awakened to what God is doing here in Haiti through the hearts of his people. 
I found out something today… one of the most beautiful looking people I have ever seen in my life took his own life.  I mean, for real.

He lost his job and whatever else, he took his own life.

As strong as I thought this guy was, I never ever had the nerve to talk to him.    He was “out of my league”.

Can I tell you something?  I have made myself sick.  

That guy mattered.  And I don’t even know his name.  

What was I thinking “out of my league”?  that’s so absolutely ridiculous.

What if I would have been brave and talked to him?  What if I would have befriended him?
Oh what if?

I can live in what if’s but I can live in the “I will” place.  I will treat each person I meet just like God would, with love.  I will be brave.

Immediately I think of Joshua 1 where God just spells it out, simply… BE BRAVE – I will go with your wherever you go.

Look at these verses:
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life.  (If God is for me, who can be against me??) As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. (no matter how hard something is, He’s not going anywhere!) 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. (He has come before me!!!)
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you (do what He asks!!!); do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. (even if I mess it up, He will use it for good – Romans 8:28) 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (This makes me think of John 1 – The word was with God, and it was God) 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I read this and I can’t help but think “God, I am so thankful for the call You have put me, and I am thankful You never leave me…  Here I am…. Send me! I won’t promise that I might not ever get nervous, but I promise, I will go, and I will just reach out for Your hand… that I  KNOW it will ALWAYS be there”
Trust is not an option when you are in community with others. But to be honest it doesn't always come easy for me.

Years and years of making poor choices in friends, people move away it happens. Counting on people is hard. Trusting them with my heart.

One thing about obedience and trust and (for me) why it's so hard is that it was unfamiliar, and because of that the outcome is unfamiliar. If you never ate ice cream, it could maybe be scary if you ate something that looked similar but was gross. The outcome could be scary.

The thing about being obedient and trusting is that the results are great (for the most part) and the rewards of doing it far outweigh the risks.

Doesn't always seem easy, but it gets easier, and certainly more familiar.

True Community cannot be built without trust (and love).

Sitting in a Key-West style restaurant in the airport, surrounded by key-lime pie colored walls and benches, a wall of windows showing off the Miami sky, and a Backstreet Boys song flowing from hidden wall speakers, I ordered a fish sandwich.  My stomach had felt bad from the moment I stepped into the airport, as it does every time I returned from Haiti, but I convinced myself it was hunger lingering from the hours and hours since my 6am protein bar. My server brought out my sandwich shockingly quickly, and my heart sank at the plate’s outrageously American portion size. Craving protein, I pulled the giant slab of fish out and ate it on its own, relishing every bite of the fresh (tasting) seafood that’s impossible to find in Michigan. As I ate the last bite, I sighed, full, and sat back. I stared at the plate of food left, a giant toasted bun, two slabs of lettuce the size of my hands, and a tower of French fries, and began to cry. I thought about trying to hide my tears, but instead decided to just let it happen. Better to have someone ask me why I was crying than to pretend nothing was wrong. Better to have someone ask me so that I could tell them about the hundreds of children I have met, played with, loved, and been loved by, than to pretend I hadn’t met them. Better to explain that those precious little ones were starving to death -quite literally- every single day, than to pretend they didn’t exist.
With a heavy heart and full stomach, I continued to cry as I remembered the image of the two brothers we had met in the mountains of La Fond, starving and brittle, providing a haunting caricature of the term “skin and bones.” Pictured twelve and seventeen, the boys had been long ago left in the charge of their sister while their parents were living far away, attempting to start a new life in the city. I stared at my mound of unfinished bread, feeling more and more sick as I tried to calculate how many days this much food would keep alive two boys who could barely finish the two saltine crackers our team tearfully fed them. I am not one to waste food; anyone who knows me knows that. I eat off the floor and out of the trash, I stow away other people’s leftovers and table-bread in my purse at restaurants, and I scold anyone around me whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs; but there I sat with this guilt-mountain on my plate, my heart breaking equally for the starving boys in Haiti and the people in America who can’t see any reason to cry over leftovers.
We warn our volunteers about the frustration they may experience upon returning to the states after a week in Haiti. We give them tips on coping with the excess, the wastefulness, the aloofness, the pettiness. Haiti changes their hearts, some for a week, some forever, and they see their country and the world in a different way after just 7 days. People ask me if I still go through this ‘culture-shock,’ even after having gone to and from Haiti every few weeks for the past three years. Do I just learn to accept America for what it is and Haiti for what it is? Am I able to pass off American Culture as just a different situation, a different place? Am I able to consider that the Haitians ‘don’t know any better’ than their situation? They ask if it’s becomes more normal to go from Haiti back to the US, they ask if it gets easier, if I get used to it, if I grow calloused to it.
The answer is no.
The answer is that it gets worse and worse with each trip back to North America. The answer is I feel physically ill every time my feet touch American soil upon return. The answer is I battle daily with my flesh and my King over the bitterness and anger that rages and grows within me towards the American people. The answer is that despite how much I adore my friends, I find myself less and less able to relate to their lives. The answer is that the country I was raised in very rarely feels like home to me anymore. The answer is that I feel my soul growing more and more feral, barbaric and discontent, and with that comes a great deal of loneliness.
Friends, family, strangers, hear my heart; I am eternally grateful for the freedoms allotted to me having grown up in this country. I believe Christ loves the American people just as much as he loves his children anywhere else. I recognize the enormous blessing it has been to live in a community of people who have supported me and Poured Out.
I was hoping by the end of writing this, I would have a resolutory statement or series of statements, but it seems I do not. For today, I will pray for Yahweh to show me how to love without judgment, how to lead by serving, and how to lean on He who adores the starving and the gluttonous.  For today, I will simply cry over leftovers. 

Trust is not an option when you are in community with others. But to be honest it doesn't always come easy for me.

Years and years of making poor choices in friends, people move away it happens. Counting on people is hard. Trusting them with my heart.

One thing about obedience and trust and (for me) why it's so hard is that it was unfamiliar, and because of that the outcome is unfamiliar. If you never ate ice cream, it could maybe be scary if you ate something that looked similar but was gross. The outcome could be scary.

The thing about being obedient and trusting is that the results are great (for the most part) and the rewards of doing it far outweigh the risks.

Doesn't always seem easy, but it gets easier, and certainly more familiar.

True Community cannot be built without trust (and love).
As we reflect on the year that has gone by, our minds are filled with images of smiling mothers, , holding babies and celebrating a new water filter arriving at their home. They are filled with the vivid sights of homes flooded with mud and water, or left splintered on the ground from a tornado. They are filled with the sounds of mourning, the sorrowful wail and the hushed sob. They are filled with the smell of molding wood and filthy latrines. They are filled with the heartache that comes with working in the midst of brokenness, destruction, and aftermath.
Yet, in and through these overwhelmingly sorrowful times, we have watched God open up hearts and send volunteers and resources to help heal. He has provided opportunity for us to join hands with teams from all across the country and pray with a homeowner who has lost everything, or for a family getting clean water for the first time, reminding them that they are loved and known, and to give hope through working hands and open hearts. In those sacred moments, it is an honor to represent a living God who weeps with those who weep, and promises to mend the broken-hearted.
As we think about this year, we are reminded of Matthew 6:33, where we are instructed to seek first the kingdom of God, and we are encouraged and inspired to continue to work in these relief settings. We are reminded of the hard places we travel, the death, the infant mortality which is so prevalent, and the cries of God’s people for such simple things: water to drink, shelter to sleep beneath, food to eat, and most importantly, hope through loving action. And yet, in these dark places, we have seen the Kingdom emerge, Jesus Christ being high and lifted up, and God bring radical transformation through simple efforts by simple servants. We stand amazed to see thousands of gallons of clean water each day flow into the cups of thousands of school children, families, and communities. We stand amazed as we listen to the testimonies of pastors and leaders who have seen economics, family life, and spirituality change in their communities. Just last month at a leader convention in Haiti, pastor Alexander shared that his community has seen a 70% rate of healing from diahreal disease since they first started getting water filters a few months ago. We were reminded in that moment, as God’s spirit spoke to ours through their simple smiles and bright lit eyes, that he can take a small filter and multiply it’s affects, like fishes and loaves. That He can and does use a small organization with a big heart to change the world for his Kingdom, and we were humbled about what He has been able to do with us and through us.
I wish I could sit in your living room and share a cup of coffee and tell story after story from the high mountains of Haiti, to the impoverished fishing villages, to the Bronx of New York and the plains of Oklahoma. Stories of broken, hurting people who have a little more hope than they did before we met. People who no longer have trees smashing their roofs, or water flooding their entire home, or thousands of dollars of uninsured damage, or water that makes them sick, or children lost to dehydration-disease. Stories of restoration, stories of new beginnings, stories of teams praying with homeowners and watching God do so much more in the heart of that person than we could ever do for their home. Stories of church people discovering what it is to be the Body. Stories of young and old, discovering a place to serve and finding purpose again. Stories of taking people to a foreign third-world country and showing them that those it’s filled with are just people like you and me. They are just moms wanting their hard-earned and minimal income to send their children tot school instead of the hospital. They are just dads who wonder if their sons will live to grow up and learn their trade, to work alongside them in the fields or the market. They are just people, hungry for love and desperate for health.
I can’t sit in your living room, not today, as travel to aid those affected by the Oklahoma tornado, but I can say thank you. I can say thank you for believing in me, and believing in what we do.  I can say that if we seek first the kingdom of God, there is so much more granted unto us. There is the ability to touch lives for Jesus Christ. The ability to bring healing, hope, and health to our brothers and sisters. I have discovered that ‘all these things granted unto you’ may mean that we get a front row seat to what God is doing in our lifetime to make Himself known. It may mean hearing the spirit call and following it into the forgotten places. It may mean witnessing resources being multiplied and miraculous provision, watching with baskets in our hands as barrels overflow with fish and our hearts overflow with gratitude.  
As hard as it is to get caught up and find the time to thank you, it’s even harder to ask if you would consider investing for another year. It’s a humble place to be, where others have to resource you, and yet it’s a beautiful place. A place that makes me dependent upon God and his provision. If you are not in a place to give for another year, I understand, as so many things can change in our lives over 12 months. I want you to know that I have asked God to bless you and to keep you close to his heart, to honor your sacrifice, and to whisper in your ear of the works you have helped accomplish. You are a true partner. Blessed are the feet who go to the places that are broken and bring the good news.