Friday, March 27, 2009

Still figuring it out . . .

The local McDonald's recently began doing something that I find sort of disconcerting. When you pull up to the drive-through menu order board (something I do far too often), a cheery voice greets you. Usually it is something like, "Welcome to McDonald's would you like to try an iced mocha coffee this afternoon?" That, in itself, is nothing unusual. But I have learned that the cheery voice is prerecorded.

The voice that follows is not the same. Sometimes it is a different person. Once it was even a different gender. Usually it is the same person, but the cheery voice that welcomed me is in sharp contrast to the dreary voice that takes my order. I understand that. It is easier to record one cheerful "hello" each morning than it is to repeat "So that's a number 5 with a large diet Coke?" fifty times an hour. By the end of the shift - maybe even by the time I arrive in the drive-thru halfway through a shift - the order-taker is tired.

And yet, I can't help but feel like the victim of a bait and switch.

I wonder how often I reflect two voices. One cheery voice for people I've just met, and a more shrill, dreary voice for the people I love yet take for granted. Truth be told, I do this far too often. And, if I find it disconcerting when I encounter two voices from a fast-food employee I don't even know, how much more troubling must it be for the people who know me when they experience the "Frank version" of this troubling inconsistency? These are just some of the lessons that God is teaching me this week.

I'm grateful for the refining, for the molding and shaping.

I just wish it wasn't so painful.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dave Ramsey's Town Hall for Hope

Wally and our Financial Peace teaching team just announced that South Lansing Christian Church is going to be a simulcast location for Dave Ramsey's Town Hall for Hope. This is going to be an important national event that will bring believers together at 8 PM on April 23rd for encouragement and empowerment. Together we will learn the strategies necessary to weather the financial storm that is engulfing our national psyche. Check out this video for more info.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Not sure if I like this idea . . .

Four days ago I was teaching a group of Haitian pastors about the qualifications for Biblical deacons in the pastoral epistles. When I told them that scripture says a deacon must not be addicted to much wine, they all freaked. Seriously. There was a major bruh-haha in the room. They were arguing back and forth with one another. My interpreter, Archimel, was trying to control the chaos.

Then he explained to me what was going on. He told me that the students were telling him, "No, don't write 'Not addicted to much wine.' Instead, write, 'A deacon shouldn't drink.' " To his credit, Archimel told them, "That is not what scripture says."

I was pretty interested, then, when I saw this story in the DesMoines Register about a Methodist pastor that is providing shot glasses for the local bar. They have the church's logo, phone number and the phrase, "Give us a shot."

I'm pretty sure I know what my Haitian pastor friends would say about that.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Headed home . . .

Took a trip to the Far West today to see what is happening in La Bay. We were also supposed to go to Beuchamp, but a tire in the tap-tap gave out. So we changed tires and headed back to the mission early. I was able to get some soil samples to bring back to Chris. If he can analyze them at MSU, we should be able to give the missionaries here a better idea how to work their land. Then they, in turn, can help the people in their communities.

We leave the mission in about ten hours - at 4 AM. Then it is a tap-tap ride to Port du Paix and a puddle jumper to Port au Prince. From there we fly to Miami, and then on to Detroit. I might make it home to my bed about twenty hours after we begin. Should be a long day.

Looking forward to seeing you all.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's 9 o'clock at night. . .

Do you know where my wife is? She is in Haiti. In the recovery room. Working. And none to happy to have her picture taken. Still, I thought you should all know that Tracy is hard at work on her mission trip.

Another day in Haiti . . . Wednesday edition

Yesterday was a good day in Haiti. It began sadly, though. A one-year-old boy named Roberson was brought into the clinic with severe malnutrition. He weighed only eight pounds. His mother, who is mentally challenged, was unable to care for him properly and brought him from the Far West to the clinic. He was immediately started on a special formula called F75 that contains milk, vitamins, oil and I'm not sure what else. The little guy cries all the time and even his whimper is pitiful. Hopefully he will respond to the formula and will gain weight. Hopefully the effects of his first year of life will not be lasting. Thank God for Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. Otherwise Roberson would have died.

The day ended with a "hoedown" at the mission cafeteria. All the children from the baby orphanage and Heaven's Waiting Room joined the "blancs" and the elderly folks (the gran moun) for a night of dancing, games, crafts, and refreshments. It was a blast! I don't think any of us could have anticipated it would go over so big. Here are some pics . . .

Baby Kinderson with one of the nurses about to be fed.

Suzanne Miller, a member of South Lansing Christian Church, and a nurse at Ingham Regional Medical Center, has her hair braided by a Haitian woman. This sort of activity helps the local economy by putting American dollars into the hands of Haitians.

The gran moun (Haitian for old person) enjoy the hoedown, complete with ten gallon hats.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another day in Haiti

Yesterday I learned that the missionaries have a phrase for when things don't go according to plan: "Another day in Haiti." Similar to my missionary sister's phrase, "Africa wins again," they use it whenever they are thwarted in their ministry efforts by the circumstances of living in the poorest zone of the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Yesterday's "another day in Haiti" moment: Internet service that did not work.

So with apologies to all who checked in, here are some snaps, albeit a day late.

Here I am teaching in the Bible college. We talked about the importance of church elders. The board has the Greek, English and French words for the three words that denote elders in the New Testament.

Some of the kids in our group took food into the village to feed house-bound senior citizens that can't make their way up the hill to the mission compound. Megan is carrying a container with enough food for four people. This meal is the only food that many of these "gran moun" eat every day. Without it they would starve to death.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wha chu talkin' 'bout Willis!

This little guy made me think of the old TV show with Gary Coleman. What was the name of that show?

Sunday Supper

Last night's supper was barbecued chicken legs, beet salad and deep fried plantains. I'm not sure if Brenda doesn't like the beet salad, or if she feels bad for the chicken.

Nate made a friend

Nate Moreno hanging out with a little one in the mission courtyard and Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. Shortly after this Nate got involved in a scrappy soccer game. No word, yet, on who won.

Monday in Haiti

A great day. I taught about forty preachers and young men planning on becoming preachers today in the Bible College here at St. Louis du Nord. It was interesting working with a translator. When I preached yesterday at the church it was only the second time I worked with a translator. For the sermon I worked with a translator named Johnny. He leaned over just before my sermon and said, "This is my first time doing this."

I thought, "Great! Mine, too!" I asked him if he was nervous and he said, "No. I trust in God, first, and in myself, second." That is good and godly confidence. He seemed to really be into the sermon, following my articulation and gestures, and even encouraging the congregation to "Amen!" in the appropriate spots. Afterward, when I asked the missionary how we did, Janielle said, "You did well. The translator did very well!" It looks like Johnny might have found himself a part-time job. Good for him.

Today my translator was Archimel. (Pronounced like a compound of the names Archie and Mel). He is 26 and his wife gave birth to their first baby, a girl, just a few days ago. She had the birth in Port au Prince because it was a c-section delivery. She will be staying in PAP for about a month because the roads are too rough for her to take the bus to Port du Paix. To show my gratitude for his service, I gave him one of the layettes that the Everett High School National Honor Society (or was it the French club?) prepared for us to bring. The others have been placed in the hospital to be given to new mothers. They really appreciate this gift. It is really cool to think that High School students in Lansing, Michigan were so unselfish as to provide the first "onesie" that these children will wear home in far away Haiti. (Way to go, Sid!)

Teaching with a translator today really tapped me out. One the one hand, it is tough to get into a rhythm with the translator. On the other hand, it is nice to be able to look ahead at my notes a bit to see what is coming up. The students are very stoic and do not express much. This is difficult, given my humorous and expressive way (some would say silly) way of teaching. It was hard for me to know if they were bored out of their skulls, or were just listening intently.

Today's lesson was on the nature of the church. We talked about how the church is not a democracy, but a kingdom with Christ as the King. It was well received. We also talked about promoting unity in the church and the importance of remaining on mission and not being distracted by conflict over useless arguments. When I asked them about some of the "opinion" areas that have led to conflict in their churches they responded with some familiar answers.

Money was one. How do we spend it? Who gets it? Another was positions and titles within the church. Some want the titles but don't want the work. Some want to hold onto their positions as "pastor" and will not delegate, so the church does not grow. Sounds all too familiar. The day ended with a discussion, of all things, about the role of women in the church. One pastor asked me if women could be preachers or if this was prohibited in scripture.

He has seen women preaching on the television (Joyce Meier?) and wonders if it is correct or not. He thinks, "no." Another pastor has a cousin and an aunt that preach in the US. He said that, because the angels first appeared to women to announce the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that women today are authorized to preach.

Different country, same controversy.

We discussed it and, when pressed to do so, I gave them my opinion on the issue. Then I told them that this was a particularly good example of the very thing I said was so important - that we not allow tangential grey areas to prevent us from the mission of the church: evangelism and discipleship.

All in all it was a very good day. I am looking forward to teaching on the subject of elders tomorrow. I will try and post a few pictures here or on facebook after dinner, so check back.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

We're here . . .

We arrived at the mission without any hitches. We're all settled in and getting ready to hit the sack. I am preaching tomorrow (found out about thirty minutes ago). The weather here is beautiful. The mission looks great. Everyone is in fine spirits. I will write more tomorrow, or as internet access allows. I'll also try to upload a picture or two as well.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Part-way there

We are safely ensconced in our Miami hotel awaiting our morning flight out to Port au Prince. The flight in went perfectly. All our bags arrived as they were supposed to. We had dinner at Bennigan's tonight (thanks to our anonymous benefactor) and are ready to sack out. We have breakfast at 7 AM and then board the shuttle to the airport at 7:30 AM.

Here is the pool in which our high school students went swimming this afternoon before dinner. The adults stayed out of the water. We're still a bit too cold from Michigan and, in spite of the 70 degree weather, we were not ready to dive in.

If we have internet service at the mission compound, I will blog a bit tomorrow night and maybe post an arrival picture if I can take one.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Headed to Haiti

Myself, Mrs. Frankly, and our daughter are headed to Haiti tomorrow afternoon. We will be flying out of Detroit to Miami. On Saturday we head from Miami to Port au Prince. We are part of a team that includes several other folks from South Lansing Christian Church as well as my former church, Butler Church of Christ, and my home church in Garrett, Indiana.

I will be teaching a group of Haitian preachers on the subject of church leadership. Tracy will be working in the medical clinic. Abby will be assisting in the baby orphanage. It will be a full and challenging week.

If the internet is up and going, I plan on posting some pictures each day so you can keep up with what we're doing, so check back often.

And, don't forget to pray for us.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Would you pay to see this kid bald?

Its pretty hard to get my son to cut his golden locks. I sound like such and old guy these days as I complain about "these long-haired kids." Recently, though, I learned that my son Caleb is participating in St. Baldrick's, an organization that is dedicated to curing childrens cancer. He joined the Lansing Police Department team to raise money for St. B's by having his head shaved on March 15. Mrs. Frankly and I made a small donation to support Caleb and the mission of eradicating childrens cancers. I thought maybe you might like to as well. If so, click here.

Truth be told, we would pay just to get him to cut his hair. That he is helping cure cancer along the way - that is gravy! Thanks for joining the effort. . .

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Strange headlines: volume one

Put Down the Phone and Step Away from the Nuggets
Meet Latreasa L. Goodman. Frustrated by the Fort Pierce McDonalds, Ms. Goodman called 911 to report that the golden arches ran out of McNuggets recently. When the cashier told her that they would substitute an item of equal value, Goodman called 911. Three times. Now she has been charged with "misuse of 911." If she is acquitted I want to talk to somebody about the straws being left out of my bag at the Potterville McDonald's drive-thru last Saturday.

No, Trooper, You Can't Poach that Deer
Two Michigan State Troopers were recently sentenced to jail and fined for poaching a deer while on duty. Aside from the brief time they will spend in the pokie, the two will have to split fines and court costs of about $9500. Which is about what I spend every fall on licenses, bullets, doe urine, beef jerky and Lucky Charms for deer camp.

(Not So) Shocking New Research
Strangely enough, scientists have discovered that teens who listen to sexually degrading lyrics are more sexually active. The University of Pittsburgh's study reveals that they are more than twice as likely to engage in intercourse. Go figure. My dad listened to "Little Deuce Coupe" and drag raced. My peers listened to "I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night," and, as it turns out, we often did party every day. Should we be surprised when our kids listen to Pussy Cat Dolls and wish their girlfriend / boyfriend is hot and freaky?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Figuring it out . . .

My spiritual formation coach, Dean Trune, challenged me a few weeks back to identify a character trait that I would like to work on in my life. After some prayer and thought I suggested that an area where I need to grow is identified in James 1:19-20 - "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."

Dean thought that was a good idea and pointed out the connection between my mouth, mood and morals that is found in the juxtaposition of the verse that follows: "Therefore get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you."

I don't know why I didn't spot the connection in these verses before now, because I certainly have seen how the two - morals and mouth - connect in my own life. Whenever I am struggling with any moral temptation I find that I am more likely to become angry and shoot my mouth off. My temper is shorter and my tongue is quicker.

Dean suggested I ask God three questions in light of what James writes:
  1. Show me where I chose not to listen well to others or to you.
  2. Show me where I spoke too quickly or where I spoke and you desired my silence.
  3. Show me where I displayed anger that offended and help me understand what "right" I chose not to surrender to you.
Of course, as soon as I committed to serious exploration, I was confronted with a situation that proved to be a test that I failed. Arriving at the church yesterday afternoon a few minutes early for my scheduled 4 PM meeting, I found my office door open and my floor covered with instrument cases, purses, coats and a miscellany of musician detritus. The orchestra that was using our building for their afternoon concert found my door open (apparently it was not pulled completely shut when we left after church yesterday morning) and decided to drop their things in my office.

I did not respond well. I became angry, and rather quickly. After all, there was a $2000 Mac on my desk, a check for $150 that someone left so their kids could attend an upcoming youth conference. I had a file cabinet full of confidential counseling files that were all vulnerable. These warranted the door being locked. On reflection, however, I had to ask myself, "Had the door been locked, would my response have been any different?"

Truthfully, probably not. I sort of feel like my office is mine. And that when someone uses it without my knowledge it is a violation or personal affront - sort of like someone using my toothbrush at summer camp. The bottom line is that it is MINE. That, in regards to question number three above, is the right that I chose not to surrender to God yesterday. And that is why I failed the test. Concern for the security of my files, and the protection of my office equipment is legitimate, but should only have produced concern, not anger.

Bottom line, I've got a ways to go to. I am still learning, still be shaped, molded and, at times, chastened by God. But at least I get the sense that I am starting to figure some things out.