Hello blog reader, it’s me Jackson. If you were to ask me how i’m doing right now I would give you an answer I don’t usually give. I’m doing really good! Most other times I just revert to “okay” or “alright,” but this is different. Why am I doing really good? This past week I have been so steeped in community and connectedness. Not that I wasn’t already but I guess I’m realizing it more.
Community with Yahweh, community with my Haitian brothers and sisters around me and community electronically with my friends and family in the states. A few days ago I chatted on the phone with my friend Lucas about life and how it relates to faith and, right after that I went up in the dorm where Elmond and Marc-Donald were ironing and trying on some of their church clothes. We were just giggling and chuckling at the silliest things and I had kind of an epiphany in that moment there watching Elmond wave his arms like an overly passionate pastor and eating my Nutella, and this epiphany has been unraveling itself for the past few days. The people that God has put in my life are such an immense gift!! Whether I’m catching up with my momma over the phone on the hike she recently went on with Pops, sitting in bible study as the only American and focusing with all of myself to understand and be a part of the conversation, feeling The Spirit wash over me while listening to a song about heaven recommended by a friend, packing up a house full of things with Kate and Mica, listening to an old mentor recount an opportunity he had to pray over someone in his life, or having small talk for the first time in a long time with an estranged friend. I am so blessed to be a part of it all. God just plays Tetris so well, stacking all of these colorful blocks on top of each other and I’m blessed to be a watch him play the game and maybe even be a block myself.
After reading this short blogpost I want you to do something. Call that person you’ve been wanting to catch up with or maybe the one you don’t want to catch up with but need to, sit and listen to your children or parents or whatever other family member is near you, take longer than usual at the supermarket to truly ask how the store clerk is doing. Be present with those around you! God put us on this earth together so let’s act like it! Grace and Peace to y’all and blessings over your next interaction, big or small.
Mwen vle esplike nou yon tikras de sa mwen te fe pandan moman Break / poz nou te genyen an .
Pandan moman break la mwen te jwen yon opotinite pou te ansenye nan yon conferan Nou genyen ki fet chak Ane Nan yon vil ki rele dechapel. Nou te gen diferan atelye de travay tankou :
Mwen te gen yon chans pou te dirije atelye de dans la, mwen te ansenye yo kisa Dans ye e pou kisa yon moun danse .
Mwen te gen sije sa yo mwen te pale sou kisa:
E mwen te patage temwanay mwen avek yo , e yo te apran anpil de dans atrave temyanaj mwen .
An menm tan mwen te apran pandan moman sa ,koman mwen ka itilize yon kamera ,koman mwen ka fe yon foto ki gen yon bel kalite tou sa.
Lem gade ane pase ansanm ak ane sa mwen ka di jen yo te apran anpil bagay sitou pou adorasyon ansanm ak fotografi gen ladan yo kite itilize kamera pou premye fwa, chante pou premye fwa yo te vreman deside pou yo te apran e ou ka we fason Bondye tap travay nan lavi yo wow mwen te vreman rejwi nan sa , e mwen di Bondye mesi pou fason li tap opere nan lavi yo e mwen espere lot ane pou Bondye fe plis ministe nan lavi yo .
If you follow our blog regularly, you'll know that I generally write blogs that are more focused on teaching a concept and are less personal to me. Today I was in the middle of writing another more technical post and I stopped. I wasn't happy with the post, I wasn't happy that it was getting too long, and I wasn't happy that I felt like I should explain 10,000 more things to help reinforce my points.
And you know what? Nobody was asking for that blog post anyway!
Instead I want to write a more personal post. Instead of putting more information and teaching out there I want to put Jay out there. I'm not a "feeling" type of person so this is a little weird to me, in fact, I've spent most of my adult life saying "I'm a numbers guy" or kind of segmenting the people in my life. Work friends don't know what I like to do for fun and fun friends don't know what I enjoy at work. That's not super healthy and I want to try to be more open.
I'm not gonna call it a resolution, It's just what I feel like God has been teaching me through these past few months. That relationships are two way and by being closed off I have made it difficult for those around me to get to know me, enjoy the things I enjoy, and be a part of my life. People can't read minds and so they can't know for sure what you are thinking or feeling in any particular situation unless you share!
Like I said before, I want to put me out there this post instead of more info. Unfortunately, I don't know how to do that without sharing info about me. Ironic, I know. I'm open for ideas if you know a good way to do that.
If you haven't guessed, I'm shy. I'm less shy than I used to be, but still pretty ridiculously shy. I'm not shy because I'm afraid of people or public speaking or anything like that. (In fact, I love teaching.) I'm shy, because I can't carry-on a conversation. 9 times out of 10 I'm really interested in a conversation, but I like to fully process the information coming at me. Unfortunately, awkward silence and 12 hour pauses in conversation to think are not really conducive to a good conversation. (I also generally respond in conversation with movie quotes and memes which also doesn't help I'm sure). I'm great at answering questions, just maybe not chatting.
One of the reasons I'm not so shy anymore is that my wonderful wife of 8 years has helped me out of it. Namely, by dragging me to events and social gatherings that I'd rather not be at. The kicking and screaming was mostly internal but it was still there. I am thankful though, because sometimes you need to do the things you don't want to do in order to grow and get better.
Anywho, more about me. I rather enjoy playing video games. Recently, I've been playing Guild Wars 2, Battlefield, and Shadow of Mordor. It almost feels wrong to put that out there, as I know plenty of people that look down at people who play video games. After that, I really like model terrain building. Some people think model trains and the like are boring, but I think they are ridiculously exciting! The amount of detail and realism that you can get into a simple model is a joy to look at. I've been doing terrain building since I was a little boy. Back then I would spend the whole day setting up those little green and tan army men across my room in mock battle. It's one of my favorite memories from when I was a kid.
In terms of work… I really enjoy work! (<--- See that was a nod to despicable me. I told you, I'm full of quotes) My favorite thing that I currently get to work on is preparing and presenting teachings. Both theological and technical construction teachings. In fact, if I got to teach both on the same day I think I would be in heaven! (Not literally of course. That would mean I was dead) Besides teaching, I miss working in civil engineering/land surveying a lot. Collecting, organizing, and drawing spatial data in the form of CAD drawings and models is a whole lot of fun. If I could figure out a way to do it part time while I was abroad I would do it at the drop of a hat. It's just that much fun.
I hope I'm not being weird with this post. I feel like I'm rambling a little bit, but I also want to be open about the various areas in my life more than I have been. Likes/dislikes and such, you know? God doesn't just want the information in my head. He wants all of me. I'm more than just the answers I give or the information I know. I'm Jay and God loves even the weird or boring things about me.
Recently I have been working part time through a school of biblical studies online. In this school we dive exceptionally deep into the books of the bible, lets just say that by the time I graduate from the school I will have read each book in the bible over five times through. The past few months my studies have been focused on the apostle Paul and his writings, and more specifically these past few weeks I have been working through 1 & 2 Timothy.
Reading about Paul's life and story so thoroughly like this is something I have always wanted to do however, I have always been a bit lost at where to start. So, getting to do it through this online school has been a blessing. There is so much I could say about what I have learned about the apostle Paul and Christ through this study process. But for now, I want to focus on one thing that I have observed to be so extraordinary about this apostle.
Yesterday evening I got to do an assignment that I thought at first was really weird, however I was so enlightened by a new perspective. The assignment was to recreate as best I could what it was like for Paul to write his second letter to his beloved child Timothy. To really put myself in his shoes and imagine what Paul was feeling and thinking. I will give you a little back history here quick on the book of 2 Timothy in case it is not currently fresh in your mind. Paul had a very special relationship with Timothy. Paul was not actually Timothy’s father, nevertheless, he loved him as a son. Paul was used by God to help disciple Timothy and then help Timothy begin to let God use him as a disciple to others too. They worked alongside each other in ministry through the highs and valleys. Now, when Paul wrote this second letter to Timothy he was in prison in Rome and Paul knew he would soon be losing his life for the sake of the gospel. So, you can understand the deeper learning you will gain after putting yourself in Paul’s shoes and reading the letter as if you were the one writing.
For the assignment, I not only had to imagine myself in the author's situation, but physically recreate it too. We cannot know with 100% certainty, but it was likely that Paul wrote this letter in prison. So to physically recreate the scene I was asked to read the letter in a dark space, with only a table, a chair and a candle for light. Was this exactly what it was like when Paul wrote this letter? There is no way to know for sure, but the idea behind the assignment was to feel what Paul felt and prison was definitely not a pleasant place. It sounds a little crazy, but it was so interesting to read the bible like this, it really helped me understand what the author and the original reader may have been feeling and thinking.
Now, I had some friends help me with this assignment by observing my reading, one of whom decided to try to put himself in Timothy's shoes. Trying to imagine what it was like for Timothy to read each word in Paul’s letter, and hear what his father in faith wanted him to know before his race was complete. I can tell you that this led to some pretty great discussion after the reading was finished. There were many questions floating around in my head, along with friends. We talked about how hard it was likely for Timothy to read the letter knowing Paul’s race would end shortly, and that he would have to go it alone. But at the same time receiving the encouragement of perseverance to keep to his calling in ministry. This led us down a lot of other rabbit trails, thinking about different callings the Lord gives to his followers. Then from Paul’s perspective, we disused a lot of things too. His life ministry, his faith and persecutions, all the way back to before Christ met him on the road to Damascus. What was so convicting for me though, was thinking about how the apostle Paul viewed death. It never seemed like Paul feared death or even saw it as death, but was rather excited for it, because it was not actually death but the beginning of life.
Here's the thing, Paul’s life here on earth sucked! He was beaten, put in prison multiple times, blamed for doing nothing, and ridiculed, and this is just the start. The apostle Paul knew and experienced daily what real percuition is. However, when you read the writing of his hands you don’t see him complaining. You see him giving glory to the Father. You see, Paul had this view that all of us christians should have. Paul was not afraid of his coming death, he was excited for it because he knew that he would mean that he would actually finally be gaing what true life is. For us today, Paul’s life is an example of what true kingdom focus should look like. Something as Christ followers, we should all strive for. This all made me think, am I actually so focused on the kingdom that nothing else matters? Am I serving like I should be? Would I actually put myself in situations like Paul did for the sake of the gospel? This is something I want to do, however at the end of the day would I actually? I have spent some time praying about this. Now, I can see it is not about intentionally putting myself in crazy situations that will bring God the most glory, but is to have a mindset that is so focused on the kingdom. That if God ever puts me in a super crazy situation, that I will be so focused on his kingdom coming that I will be able serve him and give him endless glory through it.
Take a minute to think about this: What would happen if we were so kingdom focused that nothing else mattered?
I don’t know who you are, or what your situation is, or what you are doing right now, but I have something to tell you:
As long as you are willing to learn and grow, you are exactly the person you are supposed to be, in the time you are supposed to be.
I have always loved the verse the that reads:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
But I always took it at face value, meaning that if I stay in God’s word and apply what I have learned, I would always become a better person. But I didn’t realize until recently that this was such a rigid way to look at this concept.
You see, God really knew what he was doing when he made us. He didn’t make us to be these stiff beings that walk along the straightest path from point A in life to point B. Yes, he did intend for us to follow natural paths (ie. childhood, growing up, getting married, starting a family) but he never intended for us to be cookie cutter versions of each other, or for us to strive to do what everyone else is doing to the T. This is what makes us get caught up in all the fads and elevate humans to a much higher standing than what they should ever have in our lives.
He also created us to use the experiences of our lives to mold us and shape us, transforming us into new versions of the people he created us to be, not just lessons smashed on top of each other. I like to visualize this as pieces of different colors of clay. Stacked on top of each other they may look nice, but you get a completely different color when these colors are mixed together.
The way this whole concept impacted me recently is actually during a bad week. I was anxious, depressed, and not feeling like I was doing enough of the things I should be doing. I was yearning for a time where I felt like I had things “more together” and I perceived myself as thriving. I slowly came to realize (after many words of affirmation and confirmation) that I was longing for a different me, and not giving credit to all the growing and mind-transforming I had done in the past few years to bring on this new set of challenges and rewards I was in the midst of now. Its like I was longing for a pretty shade of blue I used to be, but not realizing that I had some red mixed in along the way and I now had a gorgeous shade of purple.
All this to say. God has you where you are for a purpose, and he has equipped you perfectly for this season you are in. Enjoy it, even if you feel like the season sucks, I can 100% guarantee that you will look back and either say “wow, that was such a great season of life, I am so thankful that I was able to experience it” or “ugh, that season of life was horrid. But I know I learned so much and if I hadn’t experienced these things, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Embrace and enjoy differences.
Don’t be afraid to be self-aware and celebrate the small revelations.
Don’t get hung up on what you don’t have and what could have been.
Just walk forward being open to learn and grow at all times.
Trè byento nou gen poun pataje yon mizik ke nou tradwi an kreyòl, mizik sa gen anpil chalè, li vrèman pèsonèl ak BonDye. paske li di nan mizik la espwa ap leve nan mitan sann yo. sim ta palew de mizik sa m tap diw le ou kriye alelouya ak tout fòs ou, perèz pèdi pouvwa sou ou, Ann tann li ansanm. M panse kew pral renmenl!!!!
Vandredi pase a nou te gen yon evanjelisasyon nou te fè nan Bourèt ,nòmalman jan de aktivite sa yo toujou fèt avèk yon machin , ak cha oubyn yon kabwa pou pote spike , dèlko etc. Men akoz de fason wout la toujou gen blokis, nou te anvizaje poun itilize yon Bourèt pou transpò a te ka fèt pi fasil e pi rapid .
Nou te rele bouret sa Jackson. Awwww! Yon ti istwa de Jackson: chak nou di ki Jackson ,gen yon staff nou genyen nan baz la ki rele Jackson, li te toujou panse ke se avèl nap pale ,men se de bourèt la nou tap pale. Hahah! antouka sa te amizan . avan, mwen te panse sa te parèt yon ti kraz komik pou'n te fè evanjelizasyon nan yon bourèt. Mwen tap di kisa moun yo pral panse de nou ? eske yo pap di nou fou?
Mwen panse nou pa tap gen moun ki tap vle tande nou , men lè nou te kòmanse rive bò mache Bon bèf la nan SenMak, mwen te sezi wè moun ki tap travèse lari a pou vinn asiste avèk nou . mwen te ka wè fason moun yo te angaje yo avèk nou ,machan yo te kite sa yo tap vann nan pou yo te ka vinn adore e priye avèk nou ,m te ka wè prezans Bondye te la . nou te ouvri kad la si yon moun te bezwen priyè, yo te ka leve men yo pou nou te ka priye pou yo, epi te gen yon dam ki tap vann sou lot bò lari a, li te rele nou poun te priye pou li, lè nou te fè sa pou li, li te di li te santil pi byen, e nou te di Bondye mesi pou sa
Preche levanjil la pa osi konplike ke jan apil moun panse'l la, menm jan mwen te panse'l te konplike avan an , men BonDye montrem depi nou gen volante e nou fè plas pou li lap fè anpil bagay ke nou pat menm panse. Ann Bay Bondye glwa ak posiblite ke nou genyen e lap pwovizyone rès yo, pa bliye Bondye renmen w .
Oftentimes as humans we want to stay where we are comfortable, but in reality, comfortable doesn’t really produce fruit nor does it teach us a whole lot. We know we serve a God who desires his children to learn, grow and produce such fruit, so it only makes sense that God so often calls us up and out of these comfort bubbles to try and learn something new. In my personal experience I feel like if we are unwilling to take the first step out of this safety net, the Lord will give us that extra push we need, whether we like it or not.
In complete honesty this is something God is continually working through with me, jumping out into the unfamiliar is really scary. Over the past several months God has been calling me out to use my voice to serve and worship him. The first time I had heard God calling me to do that I was like: “Yeah, no God. I don’t think that’s for me.” I do not have any real talent or experience in music of any kind, so you can see my hesitation. It was a situation for quite awhile, because I knew God was asking me to do and learn something in the musical world, but I unfortunately let fear of failure postpone any movement in that direction. However, God really wanted me to step out, so he sent that extra shove I needed.
A few months ago I was worshiping the Lord with some friends in a morning devotional. It was right after the devotion ended that God used the two people leading the worship to push me to step out. One of the leaders came over to me and asked me to join in leading worship next time. I then replied with a defiant “No! I love singing but, I am not a good singer!” Then the other worship leader chimed in in objection saying: “That is a complete lie.” Yeah, in that moment I felt a deep conviction because what God had been telling me about using my voice to serve him popped back into mind. It honestly does not matter if I am good at singing, what matters is that I am obedient in what God is asking me to do.
Long story short I slowly stepped and am still slowly stepping out to use my voice to serve God through worship. Now it is actually one of my very favorite things to do; it’s just crazy how many people and opportunities God has sent to continue walking me along this special path.
What I'm about to say is 100% something I need to hear myself, but be encouraged and be brave! If God is asking you to do something out of your comfort zone, don't let fear stop you, because whatever’s on the other side might be your new favorite thing. Will it be easy? Most likely no, but do it anyway!
This is a story of how God still moves. So a few weeks back Louis, Myriam (a Saint-Marc staff member) and I were sitting together, praying for all kinds of stuff, reveling in the goodness of God and working through some tough questions together. Louis had been experiencing some visions and sensations from God that We were really trying to understand and interpret.
At one point it popped in my head that what Louis had been seeing was similar to Elisha, a prophet of God from the old testament. I told Louis this and he said that he didn’t really know that much about the old prophet. Then Louis told us of another vision he had roughly a week prior. Hopkins, the head of our transportation department had been headed to Port-au-Prince to drop some people off at the airport when he got caught in traffic because of some gang violence in the area; he had been stuck for a while waiting for the problem to resolve. While this was all going on, everyone on campus in Saint-Marc gathered to pray for the safety of Hopkins and company. During said meeting Louis had this vision where he saw an army of angels surrounding Hopkins’s vehicle protecting them. Louis only shared this vision with Hopkins’s wife at the time, but there in that meeting with Myriam and I, Louis brought it up again.
After I heard this, I was freaking out. Louis had just shared of a vision almost Identical to one Elisha had in 2 Kings. Wayyy back then, Samaria, the capitol of Israel was being attacked by the Arameans, there were loads of enemy chariots and men ready to take and capture Israel, but Elisha had no fear. He was able to see into the spiritual realm. What the enemy forces didn’t know is that there was a much larger army of angels with their “Chariots of fire” protecting Israel. Elisha saw this truth, Elisha had a vision, and so did Louis. This does not have a whole lot to do with the ability of either Elisha or Louis, but the way that God does not change. He is still moving the way that we see in the Bible. Are we open to hear these things? Are we open to see?
Grace is an interesting word. It's thrown around a lot, especially in the Church and has a few different meanings. You might hear someone call a judge or a king "Your grace." A parent might say they are giving their child grace by allowing them to do something they haven't earned. You might say someone has grace because they are a great dancer. There is even a weird instance where we use grace by saying that someone's "saving grace" is their humor, wit, or whatever. As an example of a redeeming quality they might have.
There are so many different ways to describe the word that it seems like we have lost what it means to be gracious. God has been faithful to show grace throughout the history of man-kind. Over and over again. In fact, one of the reasons the prophet Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh was because he knew that if the people there repented that God would be gracious to them. (Jonah 4:2) Jonah was seriously complaining that God was too gracious and merciful!
The part that gets me is that even though we can easily see that Jonah is being dramatic, we as Christians fall into the same mentality so often. Unbelievers and even other Christians are so often subject to our judgement. They support this or they have done that and through our actions we make sure they are aware that they are outside of God's grace. Or maybe we even sit outside their circle waiting for God's judgement to fall on them.
The crazy thing is that this is exactly what grace is for! Grace is unmerited favor on God's account.
Meaning we didn't earn the grace that is given to us anyway! Time and time again God reminds us that our best is really not that great. We would do well to remember that because it makes God's grace all the greater! If we, or they (whoever 'they' is for you) deserved the grace given to them, it wouldn't be that great of a thing. It's only when we recognize that our best, our thoughts, our anger, our righteousness is not worth anything that we are free to see God's grace as everything!
So today, I want us to do a little exercise. Take a break from all the social media, the calls, and the emails and just remember. Remember how you have been shown unmerited favor. Remember how you have done nothing to be called righteous and it has always been God.
John Bradford, a sixteenth century reformer was once watching a group of prisoners being led away for execution when he said, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." John Bradford recognized that without the unmerited favor of God he is exactly the same as the worst humans. That his best isn't enough to make him higher than anyone. The humility it takes to recognize that is something that I pray all of us will one day have.