Written by Ana Gobledale
"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!'" —Isaiah 6:8
We walk up the dirt road to the first home where children, grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins greet us. We find a mother and her newborn, their faces radiant. The child sleeps in his mother's arms, both surrounded by the palpable love of their family.
After sharing a prayer, we continue up the dusty road to the next home where we find a pastor grieving the death of his mother. Family and friends sit in the shade of a canopy of trees. We crowd into a small room and join in prayer.
When we started out this morning, we had no way of knowing what was ahead. Our intention was to meet with some of the pastors and let our guests from Wisconsin glimpse Haitian life in beautiful Jacmel. God brought us safely over the mountain and then gathered us into the community of faith to experience the gift of new life in the arms of a mother and the gift of life eternal in the arms of a loving God.
This is the day that the Lord has made and we have rejoiced and been glad in it!
National Spiritual Council of Churches of Haiti
Health and Wellness Program
Port au Prince
Nikki cared for our daughter, Katy. She cleaned our house, washed our clothes, and patiently guided us into the culture of Botswana. Her children were the same age as our children and we shared the joys and frustrations of parenthood.
Nikki tested positive for HIV earlier this year. She died four months later. Her 12-year-old daughter, Boipuso, has come to live with us. While we are in the process of adopting her, her five older brothers and sisters have "adopted" us. Every Thursday is family night at our house. They all come for dinner and we celebrate birthdays, American and Botswana holidays, or just play cards. When Nikki's oldest daughter was married, we were parents of the bride.
We grieve the loss of a good friend but celebrate the joy that our new family members have brought us.
Tim and Larry Colvin
United Congregational Church of Southern Africa
When Diane was first asked to consider developing the fledgling Habitat for Humanity program in Bangladesh, she responded, "Not in this lifetime!" A few months later when the offer came again, she flippantly remarked, "In your dreams!"
But God's call persists, and now Diane and I serve as co-directors of the National Program of Habitat for Humanity in Bangladesh.
Tim and Diane Fonderlin
David's parents, from the Mongu people, sold precious chickens to buy his books during his school years. His one outfit, kept meticulously clean by its nightly washing, will see him through the year. In winter he adds a sweater. In summer he rolls up his sleeves. He rarely visits home, for the four-day trip by train, bus, cart and foot is too timely and expensive. There's no phone.
He is proud to have a surveying job in Beijing and to be sending money home, so now his sister can attend school.
Kate Goodspeed (now in the USA)
Amity Foundation Education Program
My literature classes at Haigazian University bring together a variety of people: Muslims (Sunni, Shiite, Druze) and Christians (Orthodox, Maronites, Protestants, Catholics).
Reine, born into a Maronite family in Abou-Dhabi, explains, "Studying literature helps us see the other side of issues. We become more tolerant of differences, and learn to analyze ourselves—our ethics and values." Jodina, raised as a Sunni Muslim, feels literature "forces me to ask why and how, and get beyond my culture."
When I wonder why I'm teaching English literature in Lebanon, I picture my diverse students studying together around one table, building mutual respect, friendship and trust.
Haigazian University, Beirut (1999-2001)