I don’t often share anything in the world of IT Security because I rarely feel like I have anything to add. Don’t worry that hasn’t changed. Nevertheless, this article that I came across via @TaoSecurity is the best overall article on where we stand as a society regarding cyber security (and really automation in general).
It’s an absolutely fascinating read on the economics, trends, and realities we face culturally and globally. I can’t recommend it enough. Without further ado…
I came across this video via the @DailyGood twitter feed. It’s well worth your 10 minutes as the man featured describes the difference between gratitude as an expression and gratitude as an embodied attitude. He continues on to discuss the difference between questions and answers… wisdom and knowledge, but perhaps even more importantly the beauty found in the pursuit within relationships.
I don’t agree with his implication that wisdom seems to only be found in questions, but I do agree with his emphasis there is a real importance and art to asking the right questions in the right environment, how important one is to the other, and that there is an experience that transcends mere knowledge. My own inadequacies in asking the right questions can be felt all too painfully in the counseling office (and the consulting office) while my inadequacies in creating the right environment are probably felt most profoundly in my friendships, or perhaps more profoundly… in my husbanding. Both are an art. One that I continue to learn… and hope to master.
Julio’s video also reminded of the difficulty of judgment.
“Don’t judge me!” or “He/She is sooo judgmental!” These demands and opinions are thrown around like candy in our culture, and I’ve often struggled with what they mean. When I “judge” someone I pronounce no sentence. They suffer no material consequence because of my opinion. So… what’s the problem? Julio reminded me that there is a type of judgment other than right and wrong. There is also a judgment of value and I suppose that’s what most fear when speaking of judgment. Being judged in value and found wanting.
It was a healthy reminder for a guy who is all too often dismissive of others. I was reminded that people are made with the Imago Dei, and each of us is valued by God, Christ, and the Spirit. Another reminder of the centrality, meaning, purpose, and value of the Gospel.
I hope the video blesses you like it did me.
The following was written in an email from my brother. It’s long. I don’t know if anyone will read it in it’s entirety, but I hope you will. There’s not a man on earth that I respect more. I apologize for the formatting issues.
Well, I made back from Haiti safely. I had an unbelievable time partnering with Mission of Hope and I still have so much to process from the trip. Ill do my best to make sense of the chaos of thoughts and emotions that are still in my head from that trip. Warning…this is LONG!
What’s Haiti like?
In short, Haiti is a mess…almost hopeless.
Government and leadership
Check this out …“In 1991, 200 years after his predecessors had dedicated Haiti to Satan, Jean-Bertrand Aristide became president of Haiti and attempted to renew the contract. In 1997, the contract was broken forever. In 2003, in a last desperate attempt to retain power, Aristide made Voodoo an official religion.”
Voodoo, is the official religion.
And Haiti is the only country in the world to ever have dedicated itself to Satan. That probably says enough right there.
Corruption is rampant. Its really a way of life…an industry even. Just travel to through their airport to see this. People fight each other to take your bags for a little bit of tip money. And you can pay an airport “official” a bribe to cut in line. A couple was placed directly in front of me in line on our way out of the country.
They don’t have the kind of structure in place to estimate this sort of thing. According to CIA factbook and Wikipedia, more than two thirds of the population is unemployed or underemployed.
The government takes what they want without regard for the future. They countryside should be lush and green. However, it looks more like a desert in most places, because of a decade of deforestation. Without all the trees, the land has been eroding into the ocean, which has killed the reef and driven the fish away. I am sure some people fish, but there is no fishing industry to speak of. I didn’t see a single person selling fresh seafood. They continue to cut all the trees and plants down to make charcoal.
Check out “Ghosts of Cite Soleil”. I haven’t watched it yet (I will), but I hear it is really graphic…http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0479046/. Cite Soleil is the second largest slum in the world located outside of Port Au Prince. Someone said the largest is in Nairobi.
I don’t have any facts here, but Im pretty sure a ton of kids dont even go to school. Finishing high school seems to not be the norm from what I can tell. Even going to college, much less finishing it, is even more rare.
Nothing is clean. There is trash everywhere in the absence of any sort of waste disposal system.
Healthcare seems to be a bit of a rarity. There are clinics and hospitals, but they are poorly equipped and the average Haitian can’t afford it anyways. People seem to turn more toward voodoo priests.
Starvation is a huge problem. I was told it is normal in a lot of villages for people to just eat one meal a day or to go without food.
Our guides told us the average family (at least in the villages we visited) had 7 or 8 children. How insane is that? In a place where it is difficult to find food or water for one person, they have crazy large families. Abstinence and sex education would be huge here.
Americans for the past 20 or 30 years have been giving the Haitians freebies as a solution for their poverty, which is not a solution at all. We have conditioned them to want and expect freebies. Every single kid we met (not exaggerating) knew at least two English phrases…”hey you” and “give me”.
This is a big one…a root cause perhaps. Everyone knows about Jesus there. We didn’t share the gospel with a single person who hadn’t already heard what we had to say. However, there is no discipleship. People’s faith doesn’t change their lives. In the villages, no one has been transformed by know and believe the Gospel. James 1:22. But, of course, a lot of them can’t read even if they did have Bibles or someone to disciple them.
What did I hope to learn or accomplish?
I hoped to gain perspective…on the problem that Haiti faces and on my own life. I hoped to expand my view of the world and maybe see it through a more Christ-like lense. Umm….check!
What does a day in the life of a Haitian look like?
This was a question JP and Brooke, who led our trip, challenged us with. This is tough. If you are one of the lucky ones to have a job, I suppose you go to some sort of gruelling job all day…and probably not just 40 hours a week. There is almost no typical job that anyone reading this letter would perform. If you don’t have a job, you probably spend the day fetching unclean water from a well and carrying back to your house. If you are lucky, a bus full of Americans will show up and break up the monotony a little. However, you probably won’t want to hang out with them, because Americans mostly tend to gawk at everything and take pictures.
What was the most surprising thing I saw?
The most surprising thing was the magnitude of the problem and the extent of the poverty. You can read books about it and see pictures and even hear people tell stories like I am telling. However, you can’t grasp it without experiencing it…its just impossible.
In this midst of all this, I was surprised to see that Coca Cola is there. Someone told me, that Disney and Coca Cola had both penetrated the entire world. They may not have pants, but they have Coke.
What was the hardest thing to see?
Kids that were Parker and Callie’s ages. Having kids of my own really made this real to me. I can’t picture them in this state of poverty and neglect. Without someone to simply hold them or kiss them or hug them…much less provide for them. Their parents had an average of 7 or 8 children and they had to worry about small things like getting water and food. There was no time to raise kids. So, even the kids that had parents were pretty much orphans.
Something else that was hard to see was that it was hard to tell the kids ages. They have all been malnourished from birth pretty much, so they are smaller than our kids…not to mention thinner. Parker is almost 3 and I am pretty sure was the size of most 4 and 5 year olds and weighed more than they did.
1 in 4 Haitian kids dies before the age of 5.
My community group at church has 11 kids…2 maybe 3 of those would be dead.
What did I learn?
I learned that it is easy to despair in Haiti (though that word falls short of the emotion I felt), but there is reason for hope. If you have made this far in this excruciatingly long letter, you are probably experiencing a sliver of the despair that I was feeling mid-week. Even if we were able to solve some of the logistical problems like housing, sanitation, food, water, etc., the people are still depraved. Violence is kind of baked into the culture. Materialism is there too (you don’t actually have to have anything to be affected by want). Most of the sins of America are just as prevalent there.
Even if there were no proverty, there would still be unrestrained sin. The people have no discipleship. There is knowledge of the Gospel but no transformation. In these remote villages, how will people get education and good biblical teaching? They can’t even get to where that is.
I know God is bigger than all this, but God chooses to work through us…His body, His church. And there simply isnt enough of his body there.
On that day, in the pit of my despair for this situation, Brad Johnson, the founder of Mission of Hope gave the back story on the organization…why, when, and how it was founded, what they are currently investing their resources and energies in, and what his vision for the future is. It was profoundly impactful for me and lifted my spirits.
Brad Johnson had been serving in Haiti for some time when a Haitian family sought his help to medical attention for their sick child who was about to die. The drove 20 miles to the nearest clinic, which was closed. Once they got their, the child died in his father’s arms, and he held his dead child in his arms for the 20 miles back. Brad later found out that the child didn’t die from sickness…it died from starvation, because the family had spent all their money to get a voodoo priest to heal their kid and then didn’t have any money left to feed the child. That was the straw that broke the camels back as he tells the story. He decided to dedicate himself to doing something about all of this.
Today, Mission of Hope has an orphanage, a top notch school that senators seek to send their kids to, a hospital, a church, and a business called 3 Cords that employs women amputees. On top of all that, they currently distribute 50,000 MEALS A DAY!!! They also played and continue to play a huge role in disaster relief since the earthquake in 2010. They also are in the process of building a 500 hundred home sustainable community called Leveque. They are spear-heading an initiative called Haiti One that seeks to bring all the ministries and charity organizations across Haiti together and increase communication with the goal of increasing effectiveness. Im sure there is a bunch of other stuff that I am forgetting as well.
Now, why did this give me so much hope?
1) They want to shut down the church at Mission of Hope. Instead they want to establish solid churches in each of the communities and train up pastors and leaders within the communities. YES! That exactly what they need! I remember the light bulb that turned on in my head and turned my despair into hope in this moment. MOH doesnt need all of Haiti coming to their church; most Haitians can’t even get their on Sundays or Tuesdays or any other day for that matter. They need community, in the biblical sense. They need strong biblical teaching and leadership in addition to accountability and discipleship from the people they regularly live life with. This is the same reason that it should be discouraged for Americans to live too far from the church they are a part of. If you travel a great distance to church, it is easy for you to be disconnected and isolated in your everyday life. And your everyday is much more important than what you do on Sunday.
2) The orphanage. You cannot adopt out of this orphanage. Thats strange, right? The reason they do this just helped me realize that Brad and MOH are bought into the concept of changing Haiti and that it is going to be a marathon of a race. You cannot adopt out of this orphanage, because they are pouring into these kids in the hopes that they will raise up the next generation of leaders. They need the leaders to be placed back into Haitian society in order to create change here. They don’t need these leaders leaving the country.
3) They take a scientific approach to their efforts. They don’t just do. They do, then they measure, then they adapt, and then they do more effectively. It is a very mature mentality. Even in the business world, the most successful companies are the ones that constantly learn, adapt, and innovate. At MOH, they founded the school and began teaching kids, but the kids were passing out in class and they struggled to learn and pass their classes. MOH observed this problem and figured malnourishment was the problem. They hired a woman to grind peanuts all day into a primitive peanut butter paste. A little peanut butter on a piece of bread each day and the kids no longer fainted in class for lack of nutrition. Also, they had been keeping records of test scores, and they noticed a measurable increase in test performance. So, they adapted and married normal education with some nutrition training and the kids are doing fantastic.
If I could summarize, I left Brad’s talk energized and hopeful. I felt without a doubt that if anyone was going to change Haiti and make any lasting impact there for the Kingdom, it was going to be MOH. Their leadership is amazing. I am sold out for Watermark here at home, because the quality and vision of the leadership, which flows into every aspect of the church. The language and vision that Brad articulated felt very much like something that would have come out of Watermark, and I felt like this was leadership I could be on board with.
What does Mission of Hope need from us?
After Brad’s speech, he took some questions. I asked him “What do you need from us? We were certainly not going to make any great change in a week. Do you need more money, more teams, more supplies…what is the greatest need?”
He answered quickly…money and Haitian leaders. With more funds they can do more and they can compress the schedule for their vision. We can’t raise Haitian leaders here in the States, but we can equip them to do what they are already doing with excellence. They don’t explicitly need teams of Americans to be showing up all the time, but it doesn’t hurt. Primarily, hosting teams like us accomplishes the goal of spreading the word. You can’t fully grasp the situation until you go there. I saw pictures, read stories, and heard firsthand accounts. I still didn’t get it until I went their. So, Brad’s ask was to spread the word back home.
America has the greatest giving capacity of any country that has ever existed. Imagine what we could accomplish if we actually gave.
I also asked, “Have you recorded this speech? There is something profound about hearing the vision from the person who is casting the vision, and I knew I was going to come home and do a poor job of retelling it.”
He answered that they didn’t have a video, but they were working on it. They are going to make it in June. Stay tuned. Ill try to keep my eyes open for it and send out a link when it is available.
What is my response?
For starters, I am going to send both of my old laptops to MOH with the Watermark team that is going in June. I was going to sell them and get an iPad 2. I asked Brad if they needed computers or laptops and almost cut me off to say “always”. They need laptops, and right now I have plenty. 2 Cor. 8:14
I will also be looking for other ways to cut back here and give to their cause.
My friend, Mike Frizzell, from my community group encouraged me in a different way. I told the group that I did not intend to go back, because according to Brad, they don’t need me there (my words, not his). They need another me. They need someone else in my place, so they can experience what i experienced and spread they word like I am doing. I decided I probably would not return unless I was helping lead a team. Mike encouraged me to pursue this end, because as he put it, “Giving an extra $100 a month is interesting, but it is not a force multiplier.” Like Brad said, they need me to spread the word, which has a greater impact than just focusing my efforts on squeezing out extra pennies, though they need that too.
So, I have an email out to Watermark to see what it take to initiate and/or lead another trip…we will see what happens.
What was the worst part of the trip?
The bathroom where we stayed had been ravaged by a bunch of dudes all week. One night, I had to stand in mud, dirt, and really coarse sand in the shower and try to kick it all down the drain. On the last day, the shower clogged up right before I got in there, and I got to take a shower in a 4 inch cess pool.
What was the funnest part of the trip?
The team. Hands down. I have not laughed so hard for so many days in a row in my entire life I think. We had a ton of fun hanging out and laughing with each other. The funnest part of hanging out with the team was our jam sessions. We developed several funny ongoing jokes that made it into improv comedy songs from our own Alan Murray…”Voodoo Rat”, “Rat Exterminator”, “Free Willy” (about kids with no pants), “Blow, little fan, blow”, “No pants, no piggy”. Check it out:
I even got a change to dust of my drum skills on the drum box after a 12 year hiatus.
What did we accomplish while we were there?
Like I have mentioned, we didn’t spread the Gospel in the sense of reaching un-reached people, but I can say with confidence that we accomplished something while we were there. Everyone knew about Christ, but it was important for them to see how we loved and cared for them. Merely holding a child’s hand or playing with them went a long way. Most kids (and adults) don’t have anyone that is actively loving on them. It is probably difficult to even understand love without and example, so how will they understand God’s message of love?
We came in the name of Christ and Mission of Hope. We demonstrated love to everyone we came into contact with (we even help some people pull a car out of a ditch). Through our efforts and the efforts of others like us, Mission of Hope has a great name in Haiti. Its not about us; we are only their to help them as they educate, train, disciple, and care for the people of Haiti in God’s name.
If you are still reading this, that is truly remarkable…you are one of the few. Thank you so much for caring enough about me and the Haitians to read my story.
I love all of you…even the ones that didn’t make it to the end.
ps. Feel free to ask if you have any questions about any of this.