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Crank it to ELEVEN!

My ears are still ringing. I don’t know what the dB (decibel) level of a jet engine is, but the worship this morning was set at about 30dB’s higher. It’s indescribable really. I’ve never had sound hurt my face before. If someone were to ask me what I got out of the service this morning, well first I would just smile and nod because I wouldn’t have been able to hear them, but once I understood the question, I think the answer would have to be permanent hearing damage. It was LOUD! But in all seriousness, what I did get out of this morning’s service was the great reminder that it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, what language you’re speaking, what sound system you’re using, or even what kind of room you’re meeting in. Where two or more are gathered, God is present, and we are all worshipping and praising the same God who was, is, and is to come! Hallelujah! I love worshipping around the world and getting a small glimpse of what heaven will be like; all of us, made in the image of God, praising and worshipping Jesus. It was so cool to all be packed into this small sanctuary, feeling hot and sweaty, not always understanding what was going on, but knowing that people were able to hear the name of Jesus being lifted up for miles around us.

After church we took a few pictures, made a couple sponsorship videos, and since the cameras were out, we made sure to get a picture of us all in our church clothes. We made sure to squeeze everybody in, especially the kids who were still hanging around and talking with us.

We loaded up the cars and headed down the road a ways to meet a family that a WWV staff member had met before. Meeting them, seeing their living conditions, and hearing their story broke my heart. Mom, Dad, and four kids living in a tin house, living on penny’s a day, if they’re lucky. The WWV staff member was telling us that when he first met this family, the mom was telling him how there are frequently times where the family will go days without food and so she will have to give them salty water to drink so that their stomachs would feel full and they could get by for a few more days. And yet somehow they weren’t sad. They weren’t upset at anyone or anything. They were joyful. Joyful people living in extremely difficult circumstances.

We sat with them, heard their story, shared a little of ours, laughed together, and talked about plans for the future. It was the prefect example of the mission of WWV being lived out right before our eyes. Making sure those kids get sponsored so they can be in school, talking about their passions and available resources to see how WWV can assist them in a developing a sustainable business, and most importantly encouraging them in their faith and praying with them. We’re all excited to continue following up with and building a relationship with this awesome family, and seeing how we can continue to build them up so they can provide for themselves financially.

After that the team split up. The ladies headed to the teen girls program, a bible study for girls to grow in their faith and better understand their self-worth and value through Christ. Courtney and Jenny were so excited about this program and how well the leaders did in communicating and bringing the word of God to life! These girls are in great hands and have such a bright and hopeful future. James and I went up the hill to reverse engineer a school desk so that WWV would know how much lumber to buy for a group that will be building a bunch of them next week.

We all met back at the guest house and, per usual, headed up the hill before dinner to see the sunset. We were joined for dinner by a family who lives in Haiti and is doing some incredible things just up the road. It was fun hearing about the experiences they've had over the last 25 years that they’ve lived here. They have some crazy stories!

It’s hard to believe we only have one more full day in Haiti. This week has flown by! We’re excited to make the most of it. We’ll see you back here tomorrow!

Posted by Jeff Rynning with

Palming A Jellyfish

“There is just SO MUCH potential here.” I found myself repeating that over and over again today. It was hard not to. We started our morning by meeting with one of the most joyful families I’ve ever met. It was evident as soon as we walked through the door. A 3 year old girl, her eyes beaming and smile stretching from ear to ear as she opened up her new pink soccer ball that her sponsor brought for her. She couldn’t wait to get started playing. It was all fun and games until her older sister tried to steal it away from her so she could have a turn. That’s when the sass came out! Turns out kids are kids no matter where you are in the world. However, the more time I spent getting to know this family, the more I realized how much they love and care for each other. We were seeing first hand an incredible example of family from mom and dad, who are not only still together (which is rare in Haiti), but who are building their marriage and family around Christ, and encouraging the people in their lives and community to do the same.

As we were walking around the neighborhood, a lot of the kids started to notice us and come running over. It’s pretty easy for a group of light skinned people to get noticed in Haiti. We’re not exactly needles in a haystack, we’re more like soar thumbs; we stick out. As the kids came running over I started to recognize a few of them from last years’ trip. They recognized me right away, one of them even remembered my name! I couldn’t believe it. It was so much fun to see and hear about them working hard at school, that they’re staying out of trouble, and about how much they love Jesus. I love that we’re able to develop long term relationships on a short-term trip. The kids and translators say that one of their favorite things is seeing the people who keep coming back.

After meeting with families for most of the morning, we headed back to the guest house, suited up, and headed to the beach for what was sure to be a fun afternoon! We were on our way to Wahoo Bay! Wahoo Bay is a resort a few miles up the road from the guest house. We had pizza for lunch and then spent a couple of hours out in the water. We decided to go snorkeling which turned out to be quite the adventure! You see, when you go snorkeling, you’re mostly looking down at all of the pretty coral and fish underneath you. So, you can probably imagine how surprised I was when I pulled my head up and was about a hand’s width away from a jellyfish. I know it’s technically impossible to look dead in the eye of a creature that has no eyes, but it was definitely staring me down. It was an intense moment. You may be surprised to know that I very gracefully and patiently swam away from the area in order to respect the jellyfish and uphold my own dignity. Unfortunately that’s not how it went down. I was thrashing all over the place, swimming backwards, and getting the heck out of there. Meanwhile, Jenny, Courtney, and James were floating around without a care in the world.

The experience, though traumatic, didn’t keep me from getting right back into my snorkel game. I was in the zone, seeing fish all over the place. But then I felt something tickle my side. I swatted it away thinking it was just a little fish that bumped into me, but then I felt it again. “What in the world?” I slapped whatever it was away. I couldn’t see anything so I wasn’t sure what it was. It felt like something was poking my side and then slithering across my chest. For a second I thought I might be in the clear, but then it happened again. I looked down and saw what looked like an 18 inch long black  snake-fish with the head of some kind of bottom feeding shark. It was like a foot and a half long leach with a shark head. Something fun I learned about myself today is I’m a pretty fast swimmer. I got out of that water SO fast! Thankfully, we had been out there for a while so the team was ready to head back.

On our way back we were telling the guide who brought us out there on his boat about our deep sea encounters and he was telling us that we had nothing to be afraid of because the jellyfish can’t really hurt you. He even said you can pick them up with your bare hands. He had to be lying. I’ve seen the movies. I know that as soon as you get stung by a jellyfish you’re getting peed on, that’s how it works. So you can forgive me sir, but I don’t think I’ll be grabbing any jellyfish on the ride home. Before I could even finish my thought, our guide was leaning over the boat and he came back up with a jellyfish in his hand. I felt like I was in the presence of Aquaman. Not only did he find one in the middle of the ocean, but then he just palms it like it’s no big deal? Who is this guy?

If that wasn’t enough seeing a jellyfish right in front of us, he went around and had all of us touch it to show that it was safe. I’m still not so sure, but what I can confirm is that a jellyfish does in fact feel like jelly.

Now, before I sign off for tonight I want to quickly mention why WWV takes teams to the resort for an afternoon. It’s not because we’ve worked so hard that we just needed a break. It’s not because we’re lazy and wanted to turn part of this trip into a mini-vacation. It’s not because there’s nothing better to be doing either.

The theme of today’s blog is potential. I see it everywhere I go in Haiti. From the individuals we meet, to the growth of the tourism industry, there’s potential, and it’s easy to miss that when you’re only surrounded by the hard stuff. Missing out on the potential of Haiti makes it easy to form a false perception of Haiti; that everywhere you look is going to be full of poverty and hopelessness, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Haiti is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Its future consists of strong families rooted in Christ, educated and skill-trained kids who are excited about building a strong future for themselves and their country, and men and women who are learning daily about their value and worth in Christ and how they can use the gifts and abilities they’ve been given to make a difference in the world around them.

I like to ask people when we’re meeting with them what it is they hope we know about Haiti before leaving, and often times they’ll say, “Haiti is a beautiful place with many people and resources, and if we could all just work together, we could help everybody in Haiti flourish and live a sustainable lifestyle. We may need a little help getting there, but we can get there. There is SO MUCH potential here!”

Posted by Jeff Rynning with