Tomorrow!

Well, tomorrow is the big day. What the last 11 weeks since I moved back to Iowa have been for. Journey Church launches at 10 AM. All the hours we’ve put in come down to this. I’m excited. And nervous. And everything else. It’s been a great ride so far and I can’t wait to see where God takes us. I’m blessed to be here, blessed to know Pastor Joe and his family. Thankful that they’ve asked me to be a part of this. Of course nothing goes off without a hitch. We didn’t get a few things done we wanted to. The projector isn’t hung yet. We don’t have a full worship band. But we know God will move here. I can’t wait to see what He does. I ask that if you’re reading this, to say a prayer for us. Pray for the launch tomorrow. Pray that the snow that’s forecasted doesn’t affect us. Pray for the cold that I have. Pray for me in general. I definitely need it. Thanks for all your support. God bless!

Oh, and check out our website, http://www.journeybrl.org!

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Stories to Tell

I just finished re-reading Donald Miller’s fantastic book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  The book occurs at while Miller is writing the screenplay from his book, Blue Like Jazz, into a movie, with Ben Pearson and Steve Taylor.  In the book (Miles, not Jazz), Miller talks about how he learned how writing a screenplay is different than a book.  You can’t show on screen what someone is thinking.  or how they feel.  you have to be able to show it.  It’s a different process.  That’s all the backstory.  What the book is really about is our story.  The human story.  We all desire to live a good one.  I think that’s a universal truth.  We want the happy ending.  But the human story doesn’t have a climax like a movie (Miller also points this out).  Sure, we have a date of death but I think that’s more like the epilogue.  The scene after the credits, if you will.  In the mean time we have opportunities to write plenty of stories.

My story is sometimes grand.  Sometimes boring.  Just like all of yours.  As i read this book, I have been thinking about the last couple months since I’ve gotten back from Haiti.  Haiti is a great story.  And compared to that day to day life doesn’t seem that way.  But I think we’re missing the point sometimes.  It’s all a part of the story God has for us.  Since arriving in Iowa, Ive started a new one.  And it may not be a fantastic story yet, but it’s also just begun.  I packed up all my belongings and moved 9 hours.  Well, it should have been 9 hours.  It ended up being 10.5.  My jeep broke down in Kentucky.  The idler pulley froze up and shredded my drive belt.  Any class you take on storytelling well tell you you need conflict and drama.  But honestly I wasn’t thinking that at the time.  i was thinking it was cold.  And it was going to cost me $125 to fix.  But the story goes on.  I arrived here and immediately got to work with the new job and new church.  It’s been exciting helping build a church.  I preached for the first time in my life last week.  I gave a 15 minute or so sermon on tithing (my watch said 15 minutes…i felt like I was up there for 2 hours…I am still not comfortable talking in front of people).  But no one got up and left and no one threw anything at me.  So I think it went ok.  We’re trying to make due with what little we have at the church until we can afford to purchase some things we really need.  It’s a slow process but it’ll get there.  We are having our second preview service tomorrow.  The official launch date is March 24.  I’m excited!

The second part of the story I’m in right now involves work.  I work in advertising.  My dad found that amusing.  For those of you that don’t know, I’m a minimalist.  I don’t own much of anything.  I find it completely unnecessary to purchase a lot of fancy new things.  I do my best to try and make due and I purchase used as much as I can.  (Side note-I love Craigslist…but SE Iowa hasn’t discovered how awesome it is so there’s never much on it here.  It makes me sad.)  Yet I make my living helping companies sell things.  We have a list of “reasons why people buy things” in a training manual and, I kid you not, it says things like we buy to be happy.  Or liked.  Or to pretend we’re cool.  Or because we think we’ll be fulfilled.  I learned a while ago stuff doesn’t fulfill you.  So i don’t buy it.  But I sell it.  I do sometimes have difficulties reconciling that in my head.  But I’m a good salesman.  And I know that it’s simply a means to an end.

Every great story has a love story, too, right?  Well, mine….doesn’t.  At least not yet.  I’ve met a couple of great girls, but so far haven’t jumped into a relationship.  I don’t know if I will with either of them.  I’ve enjoyed getting to know them, but I want to pray and make sure that any relationship is edifying for both of us.  I’m too old to want to date for the sake of dating.  I want to be in God’s will more than theirs.  So I’ll take my time.

Ok, friends. That’s all I’ve got for now.  it’s time to work on my story some more.

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So, what’s next?

Hello friends.  Sorry I haven’t posted recently.  Things have been very hectic.  I returned from Haiti in November.  While I certainly do miss it, it’s been good to be back.  Although I wasn’t so sure at first.  You see, when I left Haiti, I was used to 90 degree temperatures every day.  I stepped off the plane in Nashville and it was 37.  I wanted them to turn around and take me back!  Too cold!

Since my return, everyone wants to know what I intended to do next.  Originally, I was hoping to spend some time in Africa and/or India this year.  unfortunately, finances have dictated those are on indefinite hold.  I needed somewhere around $1500/month raised and raised $350/month.  I was able to add in some one-time donations to get the numbers up to $800/month. but still had to dip into savings to go to Haiti.  But, as God tends to do, He provided me a fantastic new opportunity to serve.  I happened to be going through Craigslist in SE Iowa, where I grew up and saw an ad for a church plant that needed some help.  I met the pastor over Thanksgiving, we chatted and have continued to do so for the last month and I will be returning to Iowa to assist Journey Church (www.journeybrl.org) as they launch their church.  I am excited for this new challenge.  I will be assisting mainly with technology and missions, but, for anyone who’s helped plant a church before, you know that you end up helping with whatever needs to be done.  I’ve been in a church plant before, and am excited about getting to do it again.  The job presents its challenges, of course.  Des Moines County, IA is 75% unchurched.  This is a huge mission field.  But I’m ready for the work.  The other thing about church plants is they have no budgets.  So I could only do this if I found “real work.”  Thankfully, God provided there and i was able to secure a job at the local newspaper to pay the bills.  The HawkEye is Iowa’s oldest newspaper, and I will be working in their classified department.  I will be selling ad space in the newspaper, and online.  Though my bosses really want me to focus on the online portion and expand that.  The job should be enjoyable and will pay fairly well.  I am blessed with the opportunity, and am looking forward to returning to my roots in SE Iowa.

Of course, this means leaving Nashville.  Middle Tennessee has been my home since 2004 and it will be bittersweet moving.  I have grown up a lot here.  I have made many good friends that I will miss.  I got married here.  And divorced here.  I learned to love hockey here.  I got to work in a field I loved (music) and didn’t know I would love (missions).  I am a part of a church that has grown me a challenged me in so many ways, and become an extended family.  I got a lot closer to God and that’s a direct result of the church and the pastor, Darren.  I have a small group at the church that I have loved being a part of.  I found a men’s group in Middle TN that did fellowship like it should be done.  And I will miss all of that.  But I do feel God has called me to this new venture.  And I head back to Iowa with no trepidation.  I will work to keep this updated when I move. And if you’re ever in Iowa, let me know.  It will be great to see old friends.  God bless!

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Chewing off my last weekend other bad puns

So I know I said the last blog post would likely be my last, but with the week I had, I had to share. We had a dental team come down this week, the first that Morne Oje has ever had. It was an amazing team! We saw, I would guess, close to 300 different people over 4 days. We had 3 dentists and 2 hygienists. We cleaned teeth, pulled some, did fillings. We constantly had people lined up around the clinic to get helped. The vast majority had never had dental care. It was awesome. It was almost too bad they couldn’t stay another month as there were so many more that didn’t get helped. We need to get another team down soon. I helped in the only way I really could. I cleaned and sterilized all the instruments. It’s a good thing I’m not squeamish. I had to scrub off the blood and tooth matter off the equipment, then boil them in water to sterilize. That kept me running all week. We worked from 8 every morning to between 6 and 7 every night. I slept great from all the hard work. I told Fedony that carrying cement bags was less work! I also got a chance to get my teeth cleaned, which was appreciated. No cavities, but I was told an old filling was broken and part of it gone so I’ll need to get that taken care of at some point. I’ll start saving. I am down to a handful of days left. I head home Tuesday morning. When I get back to my computer I’ll get pictures up. Ok, have a great day everyone!

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Hurricane musings

So I am writing this starting at 3:53 in the afternoon on October 25. I start with that because I’m not exactly sure when I’ll get to post it. Power has been out now for a couple of days due to hurricane Sandy coming through the area. It didn’t hit Jacmel, but we gotta crap-ton of rain and wind from it. For those of you keeping score, this would be the second hurricane I’ve been through in Haiti, after Gustav in 2008. That was a Category 4 that hit Jacmel itself. This one wasn’t so bad. It’s confined us to the house though for the time being. I’ve only ventured outside to help open up drainage channels and scoop flood water from around the house. It got bad enough we had to put some small holes in the wall for it to drain through. I missed the 2010 Nashville flood (ironically, I was in Haiti) so I suppose I had this one coming. It was honestly the most fun I think I’ve had here, though. I just threw on my swim trunks and my Vibram shoes and got to work. The house is safe for now. But the road in front of the house looked like a river rushing past. It was pretty cool. We just emptied the buckets of water into the current. It amused some of the Haitians walking by to see a Blanc out there doing that kind of work. But that’s what I relish doing. I absolutely love digging in and getting something accomplished. Plus I got to wear my hurricane-proof coat from REI. I’m pleased to say it performs admirably.

The last team left Tuesday, just before things got bad. Good timing on their part. It was a team from Brentwood UMC. I only knew one person on the very large team. There were 23 people there. They brought me a care package from my church and a few things I requested my parents send. Like another pair of jeans to work in as one pair ripped clear across the seat and were no longer usable. They had some medical professionals that I was thankful to see. What I thought might have been an allergic reaction to a plant was ringworm. I got treatment for it and it’s getting better. The house I’ve been working on is done painting, save for a little touch up work I’ll get to when weather permits. A half day more there and it’ll be done!

Ok, that’s all for now. I’m home in under 4 weeks. Crazy how time flies.

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Ok, so it’s 7:34 in the evening on the 26th. More rain this morning. Had to scoop water out again. Got to it before it entered the house though. My only help today was 7 year old Jackson. It was suggested that as long as it wasn’t coming inside, there was no need to scoop. It was almost there and I thought it better to do it before it came inside. I gave Jackson a pop tart for helping. He loved it. I thought I was going to be sans power completely. City power still isn’t on and the generator we have was out of gas and the gas station was closed. Was going to make for a long weekend but God is good. The gas station opened again this afternoon and we were able to get the generator going again. No rain this afternoon so I took an hour and went into Jacmel. The city doesn’t look to worse for the wear. The river, though, which has been dry all fall (you could walk across it without stepping in water) was full to its banks. Crazy. As recently as MONDAY it was dry.

There’s nothing else to really update. I finished another book. A biography of Theodore Roosevelt from the end of his presidency until death. The last of a three part series by Edmund Morris on my personal favorite president. TR had an amazing life and Morris captures it all in exquisite detail. I’ve read all three. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt dealt with his life up until McKinley died and Roosevelt became president. Theodore Rex dealt with the White House years and Colonel Roosevelt, the rest of his life if you like biographies, I highly recommend them. Ok, generator back on. Going to charge this iPad again. God bless!

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It’s 10:30 AM on the 27th. The sun is shining this morning and for that I am grateful. It appears the storm is behind us. There was rain last night but not so much I needed to scoop water today. The lady that washes the clothes has come to clean all of them. She’ll have a long day, I’m afraid, with all of the extra towels, etc that were used to soak up water. We took the opportunity to clean the house. I helped clean my room. I got my bags reorganized and ready for the week. We swept and mopped and everything looks great. I’m glad to be done with it. The only thing left is for the city to turn on power. Hopefully it will be today but I won’t be surprised if its not until Monday. I’ll know more this afternoon.

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It’s 7:22 PM on the 28th now. Power came back on in all of Jacmel yesterday early evening. I celebrated by getting out of the house and having a pizza. I needed some time away after being cooped up with those 4 boys all week. I am sitting here at the Hotel Leviya right now fully intending on posting this. Unfortunately, the Internet is not working. How’s that for irony? Ah, well. It’ll get done sooner or later. I found out that for (most likely) the remainder of my time here will be spent helping build a house. I’m looking forward to it. I go home in 23 days. Still seems hard to believe. Feels like I just got here.

Oh, I suggested to the church worship team here in Jacmel they need to play Scorpion’s Rock You Like a Hurricane in church today. They weren’t familiar with it.

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It’s still the 28th but I always use the asterisk line to separate extreme changes in thought so I’m going to do it now anyway. I really miss playing music. Not that I have a desire to be a rock star and try and do it for a living any more but I just miss playing. I miss getting on stage at some small bar with a bunch of friends and ripping through a few cover songs for 50 people. I need to get a drum kit again. I want to play just for the fun of it like I did when I lived in Iowa.

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It’s 10:40 AM on the 30th. Still no Internet here. 3 weeks left and I think I finally have learned what I need to learn here. Faith isn’t black and white. Faith lies in the beauty that are shades of gray. Don’t worry about His grand plan for your life. Move forward one step at a time. He’ll guide each of the steps. I honestly don’t know if I’ll have anything more to share with you. There isn’t more truth than that. Thanks for reading. God bless.

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