Tuesday, August 30, 2011

a real turkey

You just never know.

You never know who will show up at the bird feeder in your parents' back yard.

turkeys at the bird feeder

You never know who God will use, either.

Peter, for example, was a real turkey.  Not in a bad way!  He was just a doofus.  And that is why I love him.  He was so impulsive.  He was always sticking his foot in his mouth and doing rash things.  He was the first to blurt out that Jesus was the Messiah. He also argued with Jesus and told him not to go getting himself killed; needless to say, that didn't go over as well.  He declared that he would never betray Jesus; then on that dark Thursday night when he had the nerve to follow Jesus and his guards all the way to the high priest's house and into the courtyard, he ended up swearing and denying that he knew him.  And breaking down in tears. 

But it doesn't end there. 

Today's Daily Office readings include Mark 14:66-72, the story of that scene in the courtyard.  As I was reflecting on it, I remembered another scene, one I prayed with during my recent retreat.  It's from John 21, a scene following the resurrection.  Peter and some others have gone fishing, and they haven't caught a thing all night.  Jesus, from the shore, unrecognized, calls out to them to throw out the net on one side of the boat - and then, suddenly, what a catch!  The part I love is when Peter hears his friend say, "It is the Lord!" Peter puts on his clothes, jumps into the water, and heads for shore. He can't even wait for the boat.  That's impulsive.  That's also love. 

John 21 - Peter wading to Jesus
(Not great art, but you get the idea!)

I just love Peter.  And I want to love Jesus as ardently as he did.  I want always to have the nerve to keep running back to Jesus when I fall on my face, as he did, knowing that I am loved first, no matter what.

After breakfast, Jesus asks him, "Do you love me?"  He asks three times.  And Peter answers, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."  He gets his feelings hurt because Jesus asks him three times - but he is able to answer three times that he does, just as in that courtyard he had declared three times that he did not know him. 

I don't have my interlinear Bible with me right now, so I can't check the Greek myself, but I have heard that Jesus asks him twice using the verb agape for love - and Peter responds using the verb for brotherly love - something related to filio (my apologies for my lack of Greek detail here; all my things are at home).  The third time, Jesus uses the verb Peter uses.  Peter doesn't get it - and Jesus is so gentle with him, coming to where he is instead of rolling his eyes at Peter's lack of of understanding and walking off. 

Jesus gives Peter another chance.  He gives us another chance.  Over and over.  And then he uses us - uses us as we are.  Jesus doesn't just leave Peter there, making up for his lack.  He moves him further on and uses him.  "Feed my sheep," he also says.  Tend my sheep. Feed my lambs.    Just as Peter is fed, so is he to feed others.  

We are fed physically, emotionally and spiritually, and then we go out to do the work God has given us to do, sharing that care with all those whose lives touch ours.  We have been given an abundance, and so despite ourselves we really do have what we are called to give.

God uses us, even when we are complete turkeys.  If God can call Peter, such a doofus, to be an apostle and to become a leader in the early church, then God can use us.  If Peter can become a minister to others, feeding sheep as well as being fed, then so can we. 

As I get ready to head to Haiti, where I will be rather unprepared for whatever it is that lies ahead, I am thankful to know that God will use me.  I need to remind myself of this regularly, I think, whenever I get frustrated with myself or feel completely inadequate to the tasks at hand.  It's not up to me in the end.  I just need to be available and responsive, allowing the Holy Spirit to work through me despite my flaws - and even through them. 

Glory to God, whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I prefer cats and ducks to hurricanes

Fluffy is not quite sure what she thinks of Hannah Montana.
Greetings from Indiana! I'm visiting my family. The weather is beautiful. I've seen old friends. I've spent time with two of three goddaughters today and may be able to see the third - or at least her mother - tomorrow.  I have been able to attend one nephew's soccer game and another's first game playing for his high school freshman football team (They both won, too!).  I have learned to brush Barbie hair, consulted in the selection of dollhouse furniture, arranged plastic horses, ridden on a backyard zip line, made pancakes with my niece, and had some good kitty time with Mia and Fluffy. 


This afternoon, my sister and I had a picnic at the park and brought our cameras in order to do some nature photography.   It was a lovely, peaceful time with its moments of amusement at chipmunks, frogs, and a duck who was clearly hoping to be fed.  My sister took some fantastic photos of the frogs, but apparently I have no talent at sneaking up on them.  They always see me first, screech like a bird (the most bizarre thing!) and hop into the pond before I can take a photo; often all I got was that strange noise they made and the ripples they left in the pond. I tried, too, to get photos of the little birds bathing in the inlet by the pipe draining to the pond from the splash pad in the park. Equal (non-) success.  It was fun trying, in any case, and the dragonflies and the duck at least were suitably placid for photos.

All this and ice cream at Atz's with my goddaughter tonight, too!  Life is good.

Part of my mind has been back home in Boston all day, however. I keep seeing the satellite photos of Hurricane Irene as it approaches Maryland, where I have family; New York and Massachusetts, where the sisters live; and all those other locations up and down the east coast where my friends live. I don't like it. One of my Haitian sisters reminds me that God has it under control... and I also remember that there are no promises of absolute safety. I'm not overly worried, but I am concerned. Not all of my friends take such warnings seriously!

Gracious God, we ask your protection for all those in the path of the storm.  Give them wisdom as they make their preparations and make decisions about evacuation.  Make it possible for everyone who needs to lay up supplies to do so.  Keep travellers safe and heading smoothly in the right direction.  Guard those who must stay and work to keep others safe.  Keep those navy ships riding it out on open sea far from danger.

And Lord, we wouldn't mind a bit if you would send that storm east, the sooner the better. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

as a mother...

...cares for her children, so does the Lord care for us.

mama sparrow feeding baby
Manresa Retreat House, Bloomfield MI

current hurricane maps and a blog link

Hurricane and Tropical Storm Warnings as of Monday 8-22-11
Still praying it heads east, east, east! ... missing all the islands and Florida, too.  Thinking of you, all my friends dealing with stormy weather in these places, hurricane strength or not.  May it bring just as much rain as needed, but may the winds stay out to sea.
Projected Path of Hurricane Irene as of Monday 8-22-11, 11AM

I also have a link to share with you.  It's a blog post from someone in Haiti involving funny moments and sad, including a rat, a new mother, antics and quite a variety of text messages in church, and a patient arriving at this home.  This is someone to pray for, a person who had had surgery on the naval medical mission ship but then had to be put onshore so the ship could leave.  I can't imagine being moved like that so soon after surgery... Prayers for a swift recovery as well as the prayers around the hurricane, please.  Here is the link:


you keep asking where to stay in Port-au-Prince.. here's an option!

Well, good news.  Over and over people ask me where to stay in Port-au-Prince.  Well, the convent fell down.  Most of the Foyer Notre Dame fell down.  Holy Trinity School, which had a room or two, I think, fell down.  Lots of hotels fell down.  I don't know anymore what to say.  When I get there, I'll have more answers, but meanwhile, I have finally found this via a blog I have been following.  Of course, I really know nothing about it, other than it seems to come reasonably well recommended. However, the prices are great, the photos look beautiful, and they have free wi-fi and phone calls to the US!  I'm thinking it looks great.  Transportation will cost you, of course, as it is a few miles from downtown and a few from the airport,  but it would anyway unless you have access to a friend with a car. 

Livesay [Haiti] Weblog: Port au Prince Guesthouse: "Need a place to stay in Port au Prince? Know someone that does? A perfect location, open to the public, please check this out:"


 Key information via their page:


$50/person/night includes:
Wifi Internet access
Free calls to the US
Breakfast and Dinner each day
(Lunch available at an additional fee)

Transportation available upon request:  $20/person/round trip ($40 minimum)

Village Theodat
Rue 2 #3

Phone Numbers:
3894 5426 (from Haiti)
3490 5993 (from Haiti)
772-617-1727 (outside of Haiti)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

even the naval medical mission is fleeing Irene...

The ship only just got there Thursday, and it already had to leave today.  Last stop planned.  And now, only a few days in, fini.  Aaaaaaargh.  I'd like to think they were coming back, but the past tense used in the article about that port of call seems to indicate otherwise.  I'm just sad.  I bet they are too, unless they are just so anxious to be home after five months out that they are ready to go, period. 

Tropical Storm Irene Approaches Haiti - via BBC website Sunday evening

Looking for news updates, I noticed that once again the UK sites have more information on Haiti than the US websites do even though we're nearer at hand.  I don't know if it's just that we are more concerned with Puerto Rico and Florida, or if the UK is just more interested in Haiti than we are.   In any case, the BBC and Yahoo News UK both are covering it with decent mention of Haiti.  The article I just read on Yahoo, excerpted below, is called "Irene swirls toward Haiti, Dominican Republic"  (http://uk.news.yahoo.com/tropical-storm-harvey-become-hurricane-133316084.html ). 

For that matter, le Nouvelliste didn't even have anything front and center on their website; I had to go to Haiti News for that.  If you are interested, by the way, they gather news from around the web.
 Link:  http://www.haitinews.net/
Maybe I should be putting this on my links to the side...
Does anyone know if Le Nouvelliste has a weather page I just haven't found or if that's not part of their regular website?

Pertinent excerpt from the UK Yahoo article on the storm:

Tropical Storm Irene roared into the Caribbean Sunday with forecasters warning it could reach hurricane strength as it bore down on the Dominican Republic and quake-ravaged Haiti.

The US National Hurricane Center said the storm, the ninth of the Atlantic season, was centered some 25 miles (40 kilometers) east-southeast of St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, with sustained winds of 50 miles per hour at 2100 GMT.

Irene was tracking a path toward the island of Hispaniola, which includes Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

With the storm expected to strengthen, hurricane warnings were in effect for the Dominican Republic's entire coastline, and for the island of Puerto Rico.

"Some strengthening is forecast during the next day or so, and Irene could become a hurricane on Monday," the center said.

Forecasters said the storm could weaken as it moves over the Dominican Republic, and that the storm could later track toward the Bahamas and Florida coast. A tropical storm warning was in effect for Haiti.

Haiti dodged a weather disaster earlier this month when it was brushed by Tropical Storm Emily, but Irene revived fears in a country where some 300,000 people still live in makeshift camps after a catastrophic 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 225,000 people.

In the Haitian capital, the US embassy announced that the naval hospital ship USNS Comfort, which only arrived in Port-au-Prince on Thursday, would be forced to cease operations Sunday and seek safe haven due to the forecast.

Haiti was the ship's final port of call at the end of a five-month humanitarian aid mission in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Irene was expected to pass near or over Puerto Rico later Sunday and approach the Dominican Republic on Monday, the NHC said.

It was expected to dump as much as 10 inches of rain (25 centimeters) on Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and four to seven inches of rain on the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

yet another storm headed towards Haiti

Tropical Storm Irene could become hurricane, hit Florida (msn.com article link)

No, please, no.

I see the path of this storm is predicted to be, once again, directly over Haiti.

I feel vaguely guilty as I notice my concern for Haiti and the fact that I am not responding in like concern to Harvey, a storm over Central America.  However, my heart is most definitely in Haiti - and I will soon follow!  Can't be much over a month now, though I don't yet have a ticket.

In any case, pray for all in the path of storms, and especially for those in Haiti who may be affected by Tropical Storm Irene.  As for the storm itself, pray that it weakens and heads to open sea. They don't need another storm. Rainwater is good to have. In such quantity, not so much.

Here's the path currently predicted:

* * * * *
Sunday afternoon update, also via msn.com:

ST. JOHN'S, Antigua — Tropical Storm Irene barreled toward Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands on Sunday, packing heavy rains and winds that closed airports and flooded low-lying areas in the Leeward Islands.

The fast-moving storm, tracking west-northwest at roughly 18 mph (30 kph), was taking an unpredictable path that left people in the islands of the U.S. Caribbean anxious about the winds and rain to come.

On its current forecast track, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Irene was expected to pass near or over the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico later in the day. It's expected to strengthen into a hurricane on Monday as it approaches Hispaniola, the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. More than 600,000 people in Haiti still live without shelter after last year's earthquake.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

just thinking about Emily and my upcoming move

I've just heard that Emily has been downgraded. She's not even a tropical storm now, just a depression.  And we all give great thanks!
weather.com on Tropical Depression Emily as of Thursday evening      8-4-11

Emily drenches the DR

It appears she is still dropping heavy rains in various places in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.  See video here:
I wonder how Darbonne has fared?

Checking one of the blogs I follow, I hear Port-au-Prince hasn't had any real storm activity at all. You can read the short report here:  http://livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/2011/08/thankful.html.  And one of my friends posted on Facebook from Port-au-Prince saying that Emily was no more. 

Such good news.  Such relief.  The last thing people need right now is more flooding.  Never mind the winds; a regular heavy rain is enough to cause trouble.   Imagine having not only flooded roads, but for those still without sturdy homes, a floor of mud or muddy water in your dwelling.  All this and cholera too.

Up north, Le Nouvelliste reports that some 300 families have been victims of flooding and that several cholera treatment centers have been swept away.  Here is the link [ http://www.lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=95699&PubDate=2011-08-04] and some of the article for those of you who read French:

Emily se dissipe mais les fortes pluies restent menaçantes

Haïti: La tempête tropicale Emily qui balayait Haïti jeudi s'est dissipée, mais les autorités restaient vigilantes en raison de la subsistance de fortes pluies qui menacent les camps de toile abritant des milliers de familles poussées à la rue par le séisme de janvier 2010.

Dans son dernier bulletin, le Centre national américain des ouragans (NHC) a indiqué qu'Emily s'est transformée en zone de basse pression, mais que de "fortes" précipitations tombaient toujours sur Hispaniola --l'île que se partagent Haïti et la République dominicaine--, avec des vents soufflant à 55 kmh...

Dans le nord d'Haïti, plus de 300 familles ont été victimes d'inondations et des structures de traitement du choléra, qui sévit toujours dans le pays, ont été emportées, ont annoncé les autorités...

Même dissipée, Emily devrait entraîner des précipitations allant jusqu'à 50 cm par endroits et provoquer des inondations subites et des glissements de terrain dangereux, a averti le NHC.

Prayers continue.

*  *  *

Meanwhile, back in the US, I think about my upcoming move, and I wonder what it will be like to see Port-au-Prince again.  Everything I remember there been pretty much leveled.  Hard enough to see in photos and even to imagine.  Seeing in person not only that much damage but also that many people living in misery is going to be rough.  As if seeing the poverty wasn't hard enough two years ago.  I hate that my friends have been living with this (and millions of others, too).  It's going to be so hard... And I have never been so sure that I am supposed to be there. I don't know what I'll be doing, but it doesn't matter.  I still don't have a date, but I am assuming it's less than two months now.   Mentally, my countdown has begun.


It appears that Emily has been falling apart a bit.  Normally saying this about someone isn't a good thing, but when the Emily in question is a hurricane/tropical storm, that's good! 

The latest from Le Nouvellliste, a Haitian newspaper, is that they are expecting 4-6 inches of rain and, if I understand correctly, more in the mountains.  Here is the link to the article dated Wednesday 8/3/11 :


the most recent satellite imagery of Emily via weather.com
The Weather Channel, however, predicts much more rain.  Up to a foot.  And, as they point out, there are well over a million people still living in tents. 
projected path for Emily over Haiti 8-3-11
Prayer, then, would be appreciated.