Friday, December 24, 2010

New Traditions...

We've been having a lot of conversations between the two of us about what Christmas should stand for in our little family. As newlywed's its been interesting to learn about the different ways our families celebrated Christmas, and we're finding ourself in this little place of choosing what that will mean for us. It's been fun, challenging sometimes, but always ending in laughter and reminding ourselves what Christmas really means...

So a few new things happening in the Markley household...

1. We're staying in NC for Christmas! I've typically boarded a plane around 6am Christmas morning and went to my brother's house. We've decided that for now we will always spend Christmas morning at our house. There are many reasons for this, but the big one is related to tradition #2.

2. We're going to always be a part of Christmas Eve at Crosspointe. Yes, it is sorta my job, but even if I didn't have to be there, I wouldn't want to miss it for anything. Today we're wrapping up the final 4 of 7 services this week. We expect to be exhausted, so why wouldn't we spend some time at home on Christmas?

3. We're heading to Durham Rescue Mission tomorrow morning to celebrate with the men in the shelter as they receive their Christmas gifts. The folks at Crosspointe generously gave all of the presents for the men, women and children in the shelter. We figured it would be fun to be a part of actually "giving" them their gifts... So in our exhaustion we're getting out of bed and going to the mission at 6am. As painful as the early wake up sounds, I'm getting more and more excited about it by the minute!

4. We're hosting friends! We have a few friends who don't have family nearby, so after we serve, we're having brunch. It's a treasure to have friends who are like family!

5. And we're anxiously awaiting news from friends and family. I'll admit, as excited as I am to be "home" for Christmas, there is grief in my heart about not seeing any of our relatives and close friends from outside the area. A few weeks ago the cards started coming in, and we had an idea... let's not open one of them and instead put them on our tree until Christmas morning. So, we're excited to see the faces, read the stories, and hear from our loved ones Christmas morning, even if it isn't in person.

Monday, December 06, 2010


I find that I'm in this weird season of re-discovering who I am, and more importantly, learning "whose" I am.

I got married. And my world has drastically shifted. I knew it was coming (we had a few months of planning) but what I didn't know how to plan for was the new identity that came with my new role of "wife."

First, let me say, I LOVE marriage. I LOVE my husband, and I wouldn't change anything, even if it meant more comfort in my heart through this transition.

But, this new identity, is hard one.

No, its not about names, as I've already mentioned to some of you that I still often times correct myself... "hello, my name is Pam McKerr... I mean Markley" is a common phrase.

It's the new role. Let's face it, I've NEVER been a wife before. And like other things, I really want to be excellent at it. But I'm not sure how to do that...

I'm not sure how to be a friend that is "married" or a pastor who is "married" or a wife who is a "pastor."

I'm finding that this change also brings about thoughts of who I want to be and what type of person I want to be. I am redefining what matters most, and what takes precedence in life. It's confusing. difficult. and sometimes makes me want to hide under the covers.

But I find myself incredibly thankful that my friends, co-workers, and husband are all quite patient with me as I figure out how this new role affects all other areas of my life. I am more so, incredibly thankful for a God who has planned this for me, who knew where I would be, and chose this man for me, and will guide me through the process.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

World AIDS Day

I was in 8th grade when I first heard the phrases HIV and AIDS. I remember the panic, and I remember the "talks" we had in class. I also remember when Magic Johnson made public the fact that he had HIV. I remember hearing a lot of statistics, and really HIV/AIDS was only a bunch of statistics to me... until I moved to Tanzania in 2006. When I started walking around Unga Limited with mama Diwani, I started to see the faces and hear the stories of people affected by HIV/AIDS, and the lack of education on how to prevent the spread of the disease.

It was in Unga Limited that I met Elizabeth. The girl who will forever for me be the face of AIDS. I met her a few months before AIDS took her life and I am forever changed. It will forever break my heart to think about the fact that a disease that can so easily be prevented has taken the lives of so many like Elizabeth.


Simply put... I'm impatient. When I desire something... I often lack the desire to wait for it. Sometimes you don't really have much choice to wait, and recently, a desire of a lifetime was filled. And while the wait wasn't always fun, I will say emphatically that it was worth it. Well worth it.

I was that girl. The girl who was always watching her friends in relationships. I didn't date much in high school. I had a very protective big brother and most boys in school were scared to come near me. Even with a big brother I still managed to date the wrong guys, the guys that no one wants their daughter dating. By the grace of God, and with the protection of an older brother, I made it through. I was the girl who watched her girlfriends as they were "wooed" by this guy, adored by that guy. As I approached college, I watched a handful of them fall in love and get married. And I stood. Waiting. I won't dare say it was easy. I believe God created us for relationships... and this is only one type of relationship, but for many girls, it is THE relationship they are waiting for.

I didn't date much in college either. My girlfriends were always dating, but after high school, I became much pickier. Not long before graduation I discovered Christianity, and my world changed drastically. I had a new found purpose and a new identity. Up until this point my desire for a significant other was out of the overflow of a heart that felt incomplete, and out of a heart that desperately longed to be loved. But now, I found wholeness in who I was in Christ. That didn't change the desire to one day find a man to share life with, it just changed the motivation, and to be quite frank, the criteria. I didn't want to date just anyone, but at the same time, there was a lot of grief around my girlfriends always "having someone" and me being alone. I'll be honest, it was hard. I can remember one summer where 8 of my girlfriends got married, and I was still waiting.

Then came life after college. And I continued to wait. I went out with a few guys, but they weren't "the guy." I watched other friends get married, the previous friends have babies, and I continued to wait. I can remember the paradox I would experience, great joy for my friends, as they found "the guy" or held little bundles of joy (it is no secret to those who know me that I have always looked forward to being a wife and a mom.) I was so thrilled for my friends, but inside I would grieve, and I would ask God, when is it my turn?

Then I hit 30. And honestly, I was shocked that I was still Miss McKerring as I entered my 30's. All of my girlfriends, save 2, had married. Most of them had children. And when I reached 30, the high school students I mentored in college were now marrying, some of which having children... and I waited. And sometimes in my waiting, my attitude wasn't pretty. There were some pretty un-glorious conversations between me and God. Ask me sometime, I'll tell you.

And now I am going to be "that girl." The girl who has crossed "that line" into marriage and says, I am SO glad I waited.

By waiting, I have had some of the most AMAZING experiences in the world. I've traveled among a variety of cultures, I've been able to love people in many different languages, I've been unhindered in my ability to go and serve when opportunities arose.

By waiting, I learned that I really can talk, kick, scream, throw a fit, beg, plead, trust, obey, listen, rejoice with God about anything.

By waiting, I don't have as many regrets. I willfully admit that I did have a few things about my dating life I would have changed before I met Jason, but once I became picky, and changed my perspective on what I was waiting for and why... I had none. If only I had that perspective in high school. I'd have no regrets.

And the best part of waiting... is the man in the picture.
He is EXACTLY the perfect man for me. He pursues me. He loves me for me. His heart for others mirrors mine, and his quirkiness matches my quirkiness. We aren't identical, if anything we are quite opposite in many ways. Our approach to problem solving is different (engineer meets social worker?), our approach to time management is different, he thinks logically and linearly, I'm all over the place. But when we meet each other where the other person is at, the most beautiful collision of personalities occurs. Never in my dreams did I imagine God doing something so beautiful in my life. I am so glad I did not settle earlier in life. This adventure I am on, couldn't be matched. Jason loves me, for me, not for someone I might one day be. He cares for me in ways that I need caring for. He encourages me to pursue my passions and my heart, even if it might affect our plans. He embraces my free spirit, but also helps me to ground myself a bit. His committment to Christ, outshines that of any man I have ever dated, and inspires me in my committment to my marriage and to my own walk with Jesus.

There was a point, when I thought all the "quality guys" must have been taken. And I figured I would just have to give up on that dream of marriage and one day parenting cause settling still wasn't an option. And even as I doubted in my waiting that it would ever be possible, God stepped in, and put this wonderful man in front of me.

He was well worth the wait.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

My Big Brother...

Has an uncanny ability to make me cry...

We got home from Italy friday night, and apparently checked the mail too soon on Saturday, because when we came home from church on Sunday Jason found a box on the porch. I wasn't feeling well, so had already made it back upstairs, crawled back into pj's, and was crawling back into bed.

But I cannot resist opening a package... I simply cannot... especially when it's from South Texas.

Amongst a jacket I had loaned to my sister in law for the wedding, some amazing artwork from Connor, and our wedding gift was a card with a note from my brother:

I wanted to include a copy of my speech from your wedding. I had it all prepared I just never got a chance to give it, but I wanted to make sure you heard (read) the words.

Some of you may have heard that I can be a bit of an overprotective brother.

I assure you that i always had her best interests in mind, however what some of you may not know was that I wasn't always successful at protecting or providing for my sister.

When she was 10 or 11, I was instrumental in the grand idea to put the sprinkler under the trampoline in which she later fell and broke her shoulder.

WHen she was six or so, I "accidentally" hit her in the face with a shovel while trying to help our dad dig us out of a Colorado snow storm.

When she was about 4, I convinced her to run away from home with me, I think because the neighbors house we were running to had an atari or something.

When she was really little, my parent had her in one of those jumperoos that hangs from the door jamb. Well I obviously didn't think that up and down was good enough for my sister so I decided to pull her out as for as I could and let go so she could swing back and forth as well.

Clearly, I was trying to improve or enhance Pam's life during all of these but came up a little bit short. (except maybe for the shovel thing-that was a straight up accident, sorry.)

Well I am happy to say that I finally got one right.

With regard to the boys that I may have allegedly "intimidated" or "threatened" while growing up; I was just protecting her until the right guy came along.

I was protecting her for you.

Welcome to the family brother.

I bawled through each word, so much so that Jason offered to take over, but I'm stubborn and didn't let him. I feel so incredibly humbled to have such great men in my life. Even if they make me cry.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fighting for Sabbath...

It's hard. It's also hard when you throw in moving, a wedding to plan, and well... you get the point.


I'm going out on a limb here, and mostly speaking from personal experience, but I'm thinking that one of the most important spiritual disciplines is keeping the Sabbath... or resting... neither of which I am very good at... even though I recognize the indescribable value in them.

I used to be stellar at keeping my friday off as my down day. Well at least I was for the first 6 months or so that I worked at Crosspointe, but then, something happened, and I can't tell you when or how. Errands started creeping in, as did doctor appts, and well all those lovely things you have to get done M-F between 8 and 5pm. And somehow... friday was filled with chores and not so restful anymore.

A few months back I was reflecting on the Sabbath and wondering how those of the Jewish faith managed to keep it. I mean really, how in the world did they keep from lighting a fire, from cooking, from cleaning... especially back in the day when there wasn't a drive through... and it dawned on me... the fought for it. They worked hard for it.

So this weekend we tried something new. Work like crazy people on Friday and Saturday, so there would be NOTHING left to do on Sunday. I'll admit, Saturday was hard. Doing this meant some adjusting in life. I used to cook two large dinners on Sunday night. We would eat off of both of them all week. This was going to be moved to Saturday. I would also do laundry on sunday. This too had to find a new place in the rhythm of life. Last minute tidy-ing up on Sunday? Also moved...

Saturday is often busy for us, and I wondered if it would work, but we managed. Somehow we managed to fit the yard work in, and well, we were quite behind on a few things, so that took most of the day. Can I say edging? powerwashing? yes... THAT far behind :) There was also this little deal of a car being at the dealership and waiting for answers as to why it was NOT running! In addition I found myself scrubbing some baseboards with a toothbrush... yes I know, poor Jason is starting to realize what he's gotten himself into. At least he understands my fondness of a label maker! Saturday, literally, was spent, almost in its entirety, cooking, cleaning, sorting, filing, unpacking, paying bills, mowing, edging... yada... yada... yada all in anxious anticipation of Sunday.

We fought for it. We fought hard, and we won. We went to church, and after all of the services were finished we came home to an empty task list. The house was clean, the yard work was done, the meals for the week prepped... and we rested. We did nothing. I took a nap, because we all know how much I love sleep, we played a game, we enjoyed each others company, we laughed, and we talked with family on the phone... and we rested.

And it was completely worth it. Honestly folks, words cannot describe how incredibly refreshing it was to have NOTHING to do! Well I'm sure there were some things, but not anything that had to be done TODAY. We felt like new people.

And somehow, while I slept little last night... I feel more refreshed than I have for weeks.

It's worth fighting for people. Trust me. It's worth it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I am usually a person who embraces change. I moved often as a kid, and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the newness, the sorting, the organizing, the purging... the new place, the new friends, setting up the room again! Loved it. Some might actually accuse me of trying "create" change in my life as an adult in my inability to stay put in the same place for several years... I'm a wanderer...

I'm a wanderer whose heart has found a home in the heart of another. And I love this. I love that I can trust this man with my entire life and with all of me, my heart, my mind, my spirit. No, he won't be "perfect" and neither will I, but we have this hope that we will give grace when needed, always learn and grow, and love each other honestly. As well as a mutual agreement to always fight for each other and for our marriage. Yes. We know it looks easier in print than it will be, but you gotta aim high right?

So my wanderer/vagabond/explorer heart was recently surprised (read overwhelmed) the other day as I stopped to process what was going on in my soul. I think I hadn't put it all together yet, but I had been feeling the effects of it all for the last several weeks... say since May? And I didn't know what to do with that feeling... or the emotions that came with it.

There is a LOT of change going on. A LOT. More than this vagabond-change-creator has ever experienced... this coming from a girl who sold all she had, packed some bags and moved to Tanzania a few years ago.

In May, life took a turn, a very good turn, one that I am thrilled about. I said "yes" to the man of my dreams. And even though we had talked about things beforehand, it was all now becoming reality. And the changes began.

It was subtle at first. A change in how we prioritize time, a change in how we prioritize each other. A change of clothes (had to look good for pictures). And it grew... a change in how we manage finances... a change in how we operate in our previous family traditions... and it grew some more... a change in how I approach my job (sidenote: I am not quitting my job, I LOVE my role at Crosspointe, but you have to admit, when you love someone, the approach to travel and what your heart experiences with each trip is different)... a change in how I spend my free time (aka, now wedding planning/dreaming time) a change in what we read (we've got some great books we're going through on how to have a healthy marriage and love each other well.)

And then.. some more...

a change of address... a change in medications (let's face it, enough change has happened this year, we don't need to add to the Markley clan quite yet) a change in lifestyle from renter to homeowner... a change in the list of weekend chores with said home ownership... a change in living environment (someone else must be considered here, even if he isn't living here right now) a change in how I load the dishwasher, or how dishes are managed.. a change in how laundry is managed... a change in... life.

All of this change is good. All of it. And this list is not to say that Jason isn't doing a thing, or is asking me to do things his way, its just proclaiming the fact that for the last several years we have lived life differently, and we are both adults who like systems and processes, and we are both learning how to operate and love each other in our different systems and processes...

And I find myself overwhelmed. Which is where this post began. The wanderer/vagabond/explorer has found her match. What I find to be incredibly awesome, is that monday afternoon I could finally put a word or two to what I was feeling. Overwhelmed by change. Monday night I came home, and over dinner I opened up... and shared... shared my excitement for the future... and my excitement for all that is taking place... and my joy over all of it... but that there is this great feeling that is also gripping my heart... I am overwhelmed by it all.

And Jason... in all his security said... "I know." He didn't panic, he didn't try to "fix" it, he listened. I love this man.

We both know that life is radically, and quickly changing. We both recognize there are going to be points that are harder for each of us individually, and while we are excited about the future, recognize that there are going to be points that are incredibly overwhelming...

But we're not alone. We have this hope, this trust, in Something beyond us. Something bigger than us. SomeOne who dreams beyond our dreams, who leads us, who loves us fully, who guides us, and who we truly feel has brought us together. And we take comfort in that Hope. We trust Him to lead, and we find security in knowing that those feelings that might be too big to fit in our chest... aren't too big for Him. And we keep making necessary changes, and we keep celebrating, and we keep learning to love each other and keep being intentional about learning how to do that better.

And change and transition continue.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


There's a whole lot of it going on! Of course it is expected, but man, we've been busy!

When we dreamt of life together, we were excited about the future and the ways God would use us, and we remain so, however we have been in a whirlwind of planning for life together, as well as for the wedding. The list, never really seems to get any shorter, but we continue to have fun, and yes, wear ourselves out too!

One thing we've considered important is taking the time now to set healthy boundaries, and taking stands for what is important in our relationship, both now, and in the future. A few changes that have already taken place:

*A set time weekly to talk about financial matters. It's no secret finances aren't my favorite topic, but it's important that we make time to communicate about our financial goals, and the many aspects of life that affect them, its also been a great opportunity for me to learn a thing or two from someone who has a keen awareness of managing finances.

*practicing the art of talking with each other before making plans! Let's face it, I've been single for 32 years! We both have lived very independent lives, and are learning that our decisions also affect the other person.

*A "wedding-free" time set in each week. I will admit I was the first person who said my life will not be ruled by a wedding, but that is SO much easier said than done. Like I said, the task list never gets any shorter. So, in order to preserve my sanity, each week has to have some time that is "wedding-free."

*Date night. You probably think this is nuts, but life does really have a habit of getting in the way of "dating" each other, and well, even as an engaged couple, we know that "dating" is important. So we've planned those out and are guarding the time set aside to pursue each other.

And these are just the beginning. A few coming up:

*Changes in living situation. A short while ago I received my renewal letter from my apartment complex. My lease is up this month, and in order to have a shorter lease through the day we are married, my rent was going to almost double. While we may sound old-fashioned, we do believe that God's best plan for us is to live separately until we are married, but at the same time, the drastic increase in my rent was hard to swallow. We considered several options, and recently firmed up a plan where Jason will quite sacrificially move out of the house and in with a friend until the big day, and I will move into the house. Did I mention I haven't started packing yet? I should probably get on that!

*Pre-marital counseling. We know that marriage is a big commitment, and one that we agree is for life, and while we are adults, we believe we can learn a lot from others. With July being occupied with relocation and me going to the Dominican with some students, we set our first appointment for our pre-marital counseling at the beginning of August. Not to worry though, we haven't put off until August to get prepared! We've ordered a handful of books recommended by people we believe to have a strong marriage and great wisdom in the area.

So yeah, life is a bit busy! We are indeed having fun, and are very excited for life together, and yes, couldn't believe it could begin soon enough!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Choosing between loved ones...

Jason and I are incredibly blessed, and loved by many. Over the years God has blessed both of us with incredible relationships that we are amazed by. And I thought I'd share a struggle I have been journeying through. It's really silly to be honest, but I'm practicing transparency here.

The struggle, can also be called, "the guest list, " or the, "list of invites." And it is both amazing to realize how loved we are, but it is also incredibly difficult to choose between those we love, but the fact of the matter is, we are having to make some tough decisions, because we just can't invite everyone. Neither the venue or our budget allows for us to have a wedding large enough to celebrate with every friend we have. So how do you choose between people you love?

Jason and I have jokingly tossed around a few ideas... charging admission? Raffling off tickets? Allowing the first 175 to RSVP to actually attend and celebrate with us... of course none of these ideas are actually going to be put into practice, but it has helped to laugh through this tension. The only thing we have managed to establish is that we are asking our local guests to find a sitter for their children and count this celebration as a date night.

The hard thing is, that I am afraid of what will be communicated to people. What will a lack of an invitation say to them? Will they think we value their friendship less? Will they think that we don't care about them? Or that we don't enjoy their company?

The fact of the matter is, this is not the case. We place a high value on the friends we have, and the relationships that are a part of our daily lives.

So please receive this statement, from my heart as we find ourselves finalizing our list: We love you. We love each and every one of our friends and family members. We are thankful for you, and for the ways God has used you in our lives. Please know, that if an invitation doesn't find its way to your mailbox, that it is not because of a lack of appreciation for you, but merely because space and budget do not allow for us to have an infinite number of guests.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Just spoke with Pam. Internet service continues to be down in Jacmel so I'm posting for her. Thanks for all your continued prayers and support. The team is doing amazing, life changing work. Here is a video clip of the team in the clinic from Oprah's web guy who is on the ground there with them. Enjoy.

Jonathan Bow
Lead Pastor
Crosspointe Church

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


It seems as if each day has its own set of extremes. Today wasn't any different.

There was extreme sadness as babies cried when they were seen, and extreme hope at the thought of new life possibly entering the world in our clinic by the end of the day.

There are extremes of noise in tent city and in the streets where we are staying, yet when we walked around Old Jacmel tonight, and many of the streets were deafly silent. Somber. So difficult to take in.

And then there was extreme illness and health. Yesterday the little girl pictured below was very ill. She spent hours on a bed in the clinic with a ridiculously high fever (I think at one point it reached 106 degrees) and Chris Marsi, and Melissa spent those hours pouring over her, trying to get her fever down and trying to figure out what was wrong. Eventually we sent her on her way with meds, and hope, that she would be better in a few days.

She came back today, with her parents, the entire family grinning ear to ear, full of joy at restored health. Ok, so I know they aren't grinning in the picture, but they really were in real life. They were thrilled at her restored health, dressed up in their finest, and came back to say thanks.

And we smiled too. Some of us to the point of tears.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

4 weeks ago...

Haiti was changed forever.

This week we have been too. We have marveled at miracles, been in awe of generosity, and humbled by the measures of grace we have seen.

We have also been in awe of the devastation, the injuries, the wounds, the sickness and the improper treatment by those who came ahead of us.

We are changed. We are having a blast, and we grieve simultaneously. We will never know the depths of sorrow that is felt by our friends serving here or by the Haitian community, but we will commit to partner with them as they walk in discovery of what the "new normal" will be.

Clinic today was a great success! Yesterday we saw about 200 patients as we were learning our groove. Today we are pretty sure we doubled that. Please continue to pray for us.

(apologies for the limited photos, the internet is not cooperating.)

Monday, February 08, 2010

Clinic Day 1

Words cannot adequately describe our day.

I am SO proud of this group. Their patience, flexibility, endurance, and hard-work meant that hundreds were offered various forms of healing today.

Healing through...

giving a sick child antibiotics...
teaching a mom how to more effectively breast-feed...
listening to an elderly woman and weeping with her as she described losing her entire family...
or praying with a young man who lost his.

We got to be God's hands, feet, ears, and heart today, and we can't wait to go back tomorrow.

You can see pictures here.

Building a clinic in a shanty-town

When we refer to "tent city" we are referring to what used to be a soccer field in Jacmel that has now become home to too many people, living in both make-shift tents, as well as some tents built by the Venezuelan Government. It's sad, because so many people are homeless and living in what we would consider to be substandard conditions, but at the same time, they have no where else to go, and they are making the best of it. Our Saturday photos were a glimpse of "tent city."

Today we took over a corner of tent city, and turned it into a medical clinic. It was awesome! Several of us arrived at 6:30 this morning to start clearing the land of trash, overgrown shrubs and also of things that you don't want to say out loud. The most awesome part, was that without any prompting or asking the residents living in tent city showed up in throngs to help. Together we turned a place of squalor into a place of healing.

You can see pictures here.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Saturday Pictures: Tent City





Fast Food Restaurant






Cul de sac


Today we sang, listened, prayed and were humbled. Again, it is such a priviledge for us to be here. We have been afforded the opportunity to join the Haitian church, as they block off the road, and set up church under tarps in front of their church building.

Each of us were challenged today by the words of Nick Mangine as he preached. Many of us were brought to tears as Nick eloquently, and appropriately, led the church in taking another step forward in healing from the earthquake. This earthquake changed everyone's lives, and we get to be witnesses, and encouragers as they take steps towards healing.

I encourage you to ask your family members about today. Ask questions about what it was like, how they felt, what they saw. I know that I, myself, will never forget the face of an elderly Haitian woman weeping after being given permission to do so by Nick. Never. I don't know her story, I don't know how the earthquake changed her life, but what I do know, is that she was given the freedom this morning to let her heart break before God, and again, she is changed.

Future Clinic Location

This is one of the many images we've gathered of "tent city" on Saturday. Today it was officially decided that our team will erect another tent here, this one 20" X 40" and create a clinic for those needing care. Set-up starts at 6am tomorrow morning. We hope to have the supplies set up in the tent in order to start by 8am.

One team, many purposes...

A quick try for internet access proved successful! Thanks for being patient with us. Mostly wanted to post a quick update to assure the families that we are all here, safe and sound, and having some fun.

I'll try to post more pictures and stories if internet allows, but for now, rest in the knowledge that we are all safe, we are all together, and we are all doing well. We are ready and eager to start clinic tomorrow, and are overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity that has been given to us as a group representing Crosspointe Church.

It is an honor to be here. We recognize that this trip isn't just about medicine, but that it is about healing in many ways. It's about encouraging our friends the Pye's and the Mangine's, and their kids, it's about reminding them that even when crisis hits, as a church we are here for them, that we love them, that we are committed to them, and we will help them move forward.

This morning it's about worshipping in the street with the church here, praising the God we all know and love, and reminding them, that He is here. God has never left them, and He never will.

(for our families watching this blog for updates...if the blog is quiet, please don't worry about us, it mostly means that internet isn't allowing for us to post. The phone allows for almost continual twitter updates, so watch the sidebar to the right.)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Update from Jacmel Haiti

Thanks for praying!

Team #1 is on the ground in Jacmel, Haiti! As of now the second team will board a plane at first light Saturday morning and fly to Jacmel. They have accommodations through G.O. Ministries in Santiago.

Rick Smith (for Pam)

Quick Update from the DR...

This is not Pam sorry if I disappoint but she asked me (Rick Smith) to get this quick update out.

9 of the team are now on the way to Jacmel, Haiti from Santiago. One of the airplanes that they were scheduled to use had mechanical issues in Jacmel earlier so not all of them could get on the plane.

The 9 that are on the way to Jacmel right now are Angela Kline, Trish Koslowsky, Kris Stoner, Jennie Kowaleski, Brad Carlson, Chris McDaniels, Cecile Noel, Marslyn Clark and Melanie Mangum.

The remaining 6 are still hopeful to get out yet today depending on the availability of another plane. Worst case is that they will travel to Jacmel first thing in the morning. Accommodations have already been arranged if they need to spend the night in the DR.

Updates will continue to be posted here as soon as they are available.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

What a little teamwork does...

15 people
2.5 hours
30 bags
1600 lbs of medical supplies.

It's gonna be an awesome week!

The final stretch...

What a week! It really has been an army of people behind this venture. For the last 4 days vehicle after vehicle after vehicle after vehicle (yet get my point) has shown up at the church with supplies for our team. It was AWESOME how much God provided, and after packing our 30 bags last night, we have the wonderful dilemma of figuring out how to get the leftover supplies to Haiti in the coming months. Thanks to American Airlines, we were able to overpack 5 of our bags, without cost. We have 25 bags at the regular 50lbs mark, and 5 at 70lbs. It's a bit crazy.

In addition to supplies, there have been loads of people at the church helping to count, sort, and prepare for last nights packing event, as well as some kiddos from different classes bringing in meds, and money for relief items. It really has been fun to watch God do his thing in our lives.

This time tomorrow we will be in the air! We admit, we are excited, and we also admit, there are some butterflies in our stomachs! We appreciate the prayers, and your willingness to support us in this journey.

We will do our best to update you on how things are going, when internet and time allows, but we are also committed to our task at hand, bringing relief. If you want to follow the stories, this is the place to be, in times where I can't update the blog, I will try to update via Twitter, and you can follow those updates to the right.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Travel Plans are firming up...

I mentioned in a previous post the hoops we had to jump through to move forward with plans to head to Haiti this weekend and the assistance that G.O! Ministries is providing us to get to Jacmel, Haiti.

Last week I contacted them, hoping, that just maybe someone would be able to give us some direction, little did I know that they would be so thorough, and committed to getting us there.

The original plan as mentioned before:
Fly into Santiago
Drive to Pedernales (9 hour drive)
Spend the night in Pedernales
Get on a Dominican Navy Boat to Haiti.

I mean really. They were going to arrange ALL of it. And to be honest, the adventurer in me was looking forward to it, even though I knew our team would be EXHAUSTED before we had done any work in Haiti.

But G.O! Ministries didn't stop there. They have found a way to fly us directly into Jacmel, the day we land in the Dominican Republic. How awesome is that! They had already found a solution, but kept looking for a better one, and have been so awesome in the ENTIRE process. I know we aren't the only group seeking their help.

Thanks G.O! Ministries!

The Pre-Pack...

I honestly don't know when it started. I know packing for this trip began a good month ago. There is so much packaging waste with medications that we often break down the packaging, combine what can be combined, and this year, we added an extra step. Counting out the prescriptions that would be handed out and putting them in bags for easier distribution.

We have been so incredibly blessed by so many people who desire to see this trip a success. Most of the prescription medication, pain reliever, vitamins, and supplies were donated to our team, and every time a load shows up, we rejoice, and wonder, can we get it all in?

Here's a glimpse at what has been going on in the Crosspointe Community:

Thanks MAP, Kidspointe North, Medwish, Science with a Mission, Walmart, Ward Drug and I'm sure there are more of you that I am unaware of! Thanks for giving, and thanks to all of you who spent hours counting and sorting!

Monday, February 01, 2010

It's the plan, it could change.

Flexibility: refers to the ability to bend without breaking, whether or not it returns to its original shape.

There are two phrases I use often when training our short term teams to serve in Haiti or Kenya. The first one, flexibility is the key to missions, has been said about 100 times a day since the earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, 2010.

That night whether or not we were going to go to Haiti became a huge, difficult to answer question. We had a group of Doctors, PA's, Nurses and support people who for the last 9 months had been preparing to take medical care to the community of Jacmel, Haiti. This is an annual trip led by Crosspointe church in partnership with Joy in Hope. We had been planning for months, gathering supplies, meds, food, etc. We had NOT been planning on an earthquake.

Flexibility is key.

There were several things to take into consideration for this team. Was it safe? Could we get there (after all the Port au Prince airport was closed?) Could they still host us? Would they? What was best for them with all the work they were doing? It would seem that of course a team of medical professionals would be helpful, but given the pace the missionaries had been keeping...was it a good idea for 3 weeks later to have a team of non-Creole speaking Americans show up?

So we remained flexible. And I found myself saying or typing regularly, "this is the plan, things could change."

Then last thursday we got the go ahead. Joy in Hope wanted us, and they knew that housing would not be an issue, and basically, if we could get to Jacmel, they wanted us. Which started a beautiful journey of watching God provide, again and again.

American Airlines wouldn't let us fly into Haiti. But they were willing to fly us anywhere else. So... how about the Dominican Republic? It's a bordering country, why not? After about 2 hours on the phone with them, we managed to get all 15 of us on a flight to Santiago, Dominican Republic. On the same flight, no less. Not a small feat. We would have to leave a day earlier, but, none of us were really bothered by it! Now to figure out how to get us from Santiago to Jacmel. The plan, fly to the DR on the 5th, and out the 13th. This was the plan, it could change.

A little face book post goes a long way. Who knew people read status updates so frequently?

Within hours we had gears turning and I was filling out forms to apply for assistance in getting from Santiago to Jacmel, which, really isn't that close. Same island, but still not that close. On Friday morning I received a phone call from GO! Ministries working in Santiago. They were willing to help us get to Haiti.

The plan: Arrive in Santiago, DR around 4pm thanks to American Airlines (who by the way reimbursed part of our fare, in travel vouchers no less, but they did reimburse some of it. way cool.) GO! Ministries would meet us at the Santiago airport, help us get food, and then they would drive us (15 people, 15ish carryons, and 30 checked bags of medical supplies (5olbs each) to Pedernales, on the border of Haiti and the DR. It would be a 9 hour drive, so we would collapse into beds of a hotel that GO! Ministries suggested and recommended. Then early on the 6th, we would rise, and be transported to a Dominican Republic Navy boat, and the DR Navy would transport us to the port in Jacmel. This was the plan, it could change.

Crazy. It sounded a bit exhausting, but, honestly the adventurer in me was pretty stoked.

So I emailed the team, this is the plan. It could change. Be prepared for anything. Adjust your carry-on bags accordingly.

And then last night I received word again, the plan changed. They would be flying us into Jacmel, Haiti!

Still an adventure, a much shorter traveling one. This is the plan, it could change.

So this week, the people below are preparing to head to Haiti. That's the plan, we hope it doesn't change. Please commit to praying for them. Our travel dates of Feb 5 - 13, 2010, but as we have learned, things change. We don't anticipate changing them or our plans of how we hope to be helpful and effective, but, things change. They've changed almost by the hour for the last 20 days. I am excited about the journey ahead, and mostly about serving with this group of people. They have proven themselves to be flexible, beyond the breaking point as far as logistics and such were up in the air or changing by the minute.

Crosspointe Medical Team:
Brad Bieber
Melissa Bieber
Karen Campbell
Brad Carlson
Marslyn Clark
Beth Gozon
Angela Kline
Trish Koslowsky
Jennie Kowaleski
Melanie Mangum
Chris McDaniels
Pam McKerring
Paula McIver
Cecile Noel
Kris Stoner

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Story...

I really do live a great life. And I have great family and friends and friends who are like family to enjoy life with. The Mangine's are some of those "friends who are like family." Nick, Gwenn and their three kids (Nia, Nico, and Josiah) live in Jacmel Haiti, working with Joy in Hope. They are living this indescribable disaster that we have watched unfold in the news the last 2 1/2 weeks.

Shortly after the earthquake hit, and after it was realized how extensive it was, as well as the lack of supplies, and the great need for relief became evident, the Mangine's asked if there was a way to evacuate their kids. They had multiple reasons for doing so, a few of which were to guarantee their safety, and also, to free them up to help in relief without having to worry about said safety. Jacmel hadn't become "unsafe" but in crisis, and in desperation, any town can become less safe.

There were just a few hurdles. Planes weren't landing in Port Au Prince, Haiti. And if they were, the road between Port au Prince and Jacmel was impassable. The golden ticket, was a runway that sits in Jacmel. It was 1400 meters long, which meant we needed to not only find a plane, but a small one. The search was on. Between emails, phone calls, and more emails and phone calls with the help of many people the staff of Joy in Hope and I were able to secure safe transport to Haiti and back. It took several hours, but we had a plane, and we had a plan. Also with the help of the many people who were following this journey we had been able to contact the state department and a variety of other folks (I can't honestly remember, sorry) and I had papers in hand to permit me to travel with the kids and get them into the USA.

Early Saturday morning I was dropped off at RDU for a journey unlike any that I have taken. I flew on US Airways to Charlotte, then on to Puerto Rico. I was greeted at the gate in Puerto Rico by a man with a sign "McKerring." I tried to muster up any spanish (swahili still takes precedent in my brain) and followed him. He escorted me to a runway where I was greeted by the pilots of a cessna 208. The guys were trying to get into Jacmel, but up until our conversation the day before had not been able to communicate with those on the ground in Haiti. They generously agreed to fly me in, so it would open doors to continue to bring relief aid into Jacmel. They shook my hand, handed me a subway sandwich and said, "We still don't have ground communication. Have you talked to anyone?"

To which I said, "Yep. I just got off the phone. They are waiting for us, the UN has the airstrip protected by armed guards, and they received your tail number and colors earlier. They're waiting."

And off we went. 2 hours later we touched ground and I fought back tears as we opened the doors to the plane and Nia came running putting her arms around my legs. This is why I was here. We made it. We got supplies, so far there hadn't been any glitches in the travel, and I was hugging my friends. I also handed them my gluten filled subway sandwich. Heck, someone should enjoy it!
After a few hugs with the Mangines and Pye's, and the exchange of paperwork to travel with three minors who aren't my own, we boarded the same plane and headed to the Dominican Republic. The guys who generously flew me into Haiti, were hoping to bring much needed supplies from a warehouse in the Dominican Republic, so when we arrived in the DR, they helped me get connected with the people coordinating the next leg of our journey, and we parted ways.

The DR proved to be the most tiresome part of the trip. I'm not sure if it was due to the fact that I hadn't really slept all that much the entire week, or if it was emotions, or if it was due to the fact that I was now in the airport in the Dominican Republic waiting on paperwork, and watching the sun go down, with three kids, who by the way had just said goodbye to their parents and who knew me well, but were obviously a little confused. After a 3 hour visit in the Santo Domingo airport we found ourselves in a van sitting waiting for fuel for what will likely be the nicest plane I have ever flown on. The plane had been sitting in the DR, and its owner was wanting it back in the states. For a greatly reduced fee, the owner agreed to fly myself and the kids back into the USA. We sat down, buckled in, and with 2 year old Josiah on my lap we all had some snacks and almost immediately fell asleep.

We were jolted awake when we touched down to refuel and go through customs in Fort Lauderdale.After a short conversation with many pointed questions from Immigration, I received my first passport stamp and check of the day. I explained the situation, handed them the documentation we were told would be necessary and was allowed to bring the kids into the USA. An added plus, was that they had real food waiting for us. It was now about 10PM and all we had eaten since leaving Haiti at noon was snacks. We needed real food.

We then boarded the plane again, and were finally on our final flight home. Around 1 am, I fought tears as we landed in Raleigh, and I praised God for his provision over the last 24 hours. He had provided planes, pilots, safety, security, and almost seemless transportation for us to get the kids home and into the arms of their grandparents.

It really was surreal, and I remain quite thankful. God is doing awesome things in and around us all the time, and I often don't take the time to notice. I've been compared to some pretty incredible people because of this journey, but honestly, I did very little. God opened doors, I had an army of people all over the country helping me to walk through those doors, and honestly, I would hope someone would do the same for me if I were in the situation. I'm human. And when family needs you, even when they are friends who are like family, you jump in.

To follow the story of the Mangine family more closely...follow their blog. God is doing awesome things in Jacmel, Haiti.