Friday, September 17, 2010

Headed to Haiti Tomorrow

Charlie McGee and I are headed to Haiti tomorrow. Charlie is my brother, and Charlene's. You'll have to ask him about that. Our calendar is full for two and a half weeks. Charlie is doing a gospel meeting at Roberta's the first week and we have several appointments related to my agenda. More on that in a moment.

Then we go to Gonaives to do some work on behalf of Healing Hands Int'l. That's stuff like building bunks, making a VOIP system work ("voice over internet protocol" - that's Charlie), and checking on some water wells and filtration systems. From there it's on to Cap Haitian to see some old friends, check out funding eligibility for a couple of orphanages for Orphans Lifeline, and check on little Magalie. See the earlier posts on this blog, If you are not aware of Magalie.

My larger agenda is to get a better feel for the relationship between Americans and Haitians. I plan to ask everyone I meet three questions, to be answered in whatever order they choose:
  1. What are the best things Americans can do that will help Haiti in the long term?
  2. What are the things that well intentioned Americans are doing that might seem to be helpful, but that are actually hurtful in the long run?
  3. What things are Americans doing or proposing to do that really will not make any difference in the long run.
It will not be a scientific sample, but it will give me a good idea of the conventional wisdom of both Haitians and Americans. I plan to compile and summarize the answers, report them here and and elsewhere and shape my personal efforts from what I have learned.

This research is prompted in large part by the earthquake, by the hundreds or thousands of rescue workers who responded, by reports of a lack of coordination among them, by the subsequent disappearance of most of them, and by my long existing goal to learn how best we can help the Haitian people without fostering dependency. May God bless me in my search.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hummmpf! Blogs!

Well am I ever behind? When Magalie left I lost interest in this blog. It didn't have a serious purpose. I think the purpose has to be to talk about me and the family and what we are thinking and doing. I see problems with that format. 1) I'm shy. 2) I don't want to appear to be self-focused (I'm shy). 3) I want to respect the privacy of my family and others with whom I deal. 4) A lot of what we do is boring and I don't want to bore folks. 5) I know a blog needs to be kept up in order to keep interest and I'm not sure I have the diligence to keep it up (as witnessed by the last several months of inactivity).

Why would I bother with a blog, If I am not really interested in drawing attention to myself? Basically I have some ideas I want to promote. As I have researched how to market these ideas, what I have learned is that I need an identity to tie them together. That identity is me. If I were a corporation or a church or an agency of some kind, I could hide behind that identity, but in reality it's just me. So, I have to market me in order to market the ideas. That sounds crude to me - downright repulsive.

But it's really about integrity. I decided a long time ago that who I am is a single individual. I am not someone at work, someone else at home and a third person at church. Being the same person wherever you are is the definition of integrity. And my ideas, my way of looking at the church and at God's will for our lives is a part of who I am, wherever I am. It is with me at the Minnesota State Fair or in Port au Prince, Haiti. I can't separate the ideas from what we do, though I do work at not being a bore by talking about them all the time.

One thing I keep forgetting, that makes it a little easier, is that "marketing" ideas is not about trading money for something. All the money from the sale of the books goes into publishing more books and making a few copies available to give away. My ultimate motivation is to further the kingdom of God. I need to pray that He will teach me how to do that without becoming prideful.

So here goes. I am going to attempt to keep this blog up with family news and thoughts on what's going on in the world. See also my web site which badly needs an update as well. Started working on that this morning.