Saturday, March 14, 2009

Nickels for Nikkels & Hotcakes for Haiti

Okay, so I promise not to use my blog solely for information about my brother and his upcoming move to Haiti with his family. But since it's pretty HUGE stuff with so many implications, spiritual, emotional and financial, I think it's worth sharing when I can. If you ever have any questions, want more information or would even want Jared & Stacey to come speak to a group you're involved with, please let me know! Soon Stacey, Tiff and I will have this kind of info up on a blog specifically for Many Hands for Haiti. I'll let you know when that happens!

Fundraising is in full swing for the Nikkels as they prepare for their June move to Haiti. Through the Nickels for Nikkels campaign, we are currently trying to raise $30,000 so they can purchase a new truck, appropriate for the Third World conditions. We are asking those at our church and in our community to bring their spare change each week to help us make this goal. (Cash and checks are also being accepted.)

We have been asked some excellent questions about this $30,000 truck Jared & Stacey need. The truck is a Toyota Hilux, a model that is actually not even available in the United States and is designed for the poor conditions and rough terrain of the Third World. I want to take a minute and answer a couple of these questions because they are valid questions that I, too, might be asking if I didn't know the situation.

Why does it need to be a new truck? After all, many of us aren't driving around in new trucks, and $30,000 is a lot of money!

A key to understanding the need for this truck is to realize how awful the roads are in Haiti. It can literally take hours just to go 10 or 20 miles, and you may even have to stop and move a tree out of the way or ford a stream on the way if it has rained a lot! For this reason a truck takes a beating! They looked into the option of buying a used vehicle, but after being driven in these conditions, a used vehicle isn't worth much. Jared & Stacey need a reliable vehicle as they will likely be offering transportation to mission teams and Haitians as well as making trips for supplies, etc.

But why a Toyota? How about a Ford or something less expensive? The American car industry sure could use a boost!

There is a Toyota dealership in Port-au-Prince, so they can purchase the vehicle right there in Haiti as well as get parts when needed (and they will likely be needed!). To buy another model would require shipping a car to Haiti, which would be very expensive, and maintenance would be more difficult as well.

In Haiti, when you ask how many people fit into someone's truck, the answer is always "one more!" So picture this truck with the bed full of people! Having a reliable truck will allow Jared & Stacey to help many people out with transportation and be better equipped for their mission.

If you would like to give to this cause, collection containers are at Third Reformed Church and Gosselink's Christian Book Store, or you can bring your donation to Marion County Bank. If you feel led to donate and just want to mail a donation, checks can be made payable to Community Coalition for Haiti (CCH), the non-profit organization the Nikkels are working closely with, and mailed to Many Hands for Haiti, PO Box 204, Pella IA 50219. Please put "Nikkels in Haiti" in the memo line. Otherwise, I am happy to collect your donations and route them to the right spot as well. So, redeem those pop cans or empty that change jar! :) With just three weeks to go, we're only at about $5,000, so there is much work left to be done!

As a celebration of what God is doing through Nickels for Nikkels, we are holding Hotcakes for Haiti, a celebration breakfast, on Sunday, March 29, at Third Reformed Church. Pancakes, eggs, sausage, juice and coffee will be served from 7:30am-12:30pm. We will be taking freewill donations to be added to the Nickels for Nikkels total.

A Hotcakes for Haiti breakfast is also being organized in Sully in early April. It will likely be Saturday, April 4, so watch for details.

Thanks for considering this cause!

Monday, March 9, 2009


It's an interesting concept that has a completely different connotation for me than it used to: being a missionary. Growing up, most of the missionaries I encountered were ones that visited our church when they were on furlough, and, to be frank, I found them to be different, disconnected, even odd. I had little understanding then and never got to know any of them well, but my guess is that those were actually probably pretty accurate descriptions. I mean, don't you have to be uniquely different to heed the call to move to a different country, give your life to people very different than yourself? You would get disconnected from your "homeland" in many ways--you'd have to.

I'm not claiming to really know what it's like to be a missionary at all. I've just been faced with thinking about it because my brother and his wife, Jared & Stacey Nikkel, are about to become missionaries in Haiti. Lord willing, they'll move in June 2009 with their two children (ages 6 & 4). I never thought I'd know and love missionaries so much and be connected so closely to these "odd ducks" willing to exchange one culture for another very different one. God is surprising, isn't He?

The journey in receiving and discerning this call has been one I've had the immense privilege of being part of, from intentional times of listening and discerning prayer together more than a year ago to creating brochures, logos and t-shirts for the cause of fundraising and launching them on this new path. I have been significantly touched by the work God has done in the heart of my brother Jared. I wish you could all hear his testimony, but the fact is that none of you would hear it like I do, like his little sister who has known him almost 30 years, fought with him, laughed with him, been tortured by him, ignored him--you get the idea. The change is deep, lasting. I know that because it's not just words; his actions are following. You don't move to Haiti with your wife and 2 young children on a whim. I'm so proud of him. So thankful to God. So sad to see them go.

So I'm not sure if any of this is making sense, but I hope you're starting to see the mixed bag of emotions this is for me and for our whole family. This process that started nearly 2 years ago for Jared & Stacey has drawn us so much closer, and I'm so thankful for that. Yet now they will physically be far away. I see the vision God has given them, the passion they have for Haiti. That makes me so excited to be part of the campaign to get them there. I love working with Stacey on projects, getting to talk with her often, using my gifts in communication to play my small part in this Kingdom advancement. But in the end I will say goodbye to my family, who are also my friends. I will miss a sweet and hilarious niece and nephew.

Don't get me wrong. This is the right thing. They've heard clearly, and they are obeying God's call. Other family members and I have been there to hear with them. We know they're called to this. And in all honesty, I never would have thought of it, but they are the perfect people. Only God has such an imagination. He sees that Jared & Stacey are his "secret weapons." He knows that they are willing to take risks, they have a crazy variety of skills, they both are great at filling in wherever there's a need, they don't have a lot of preconceived notions. (He knows more than that, but I'm not Him...) Is there sacrifice? You bet there is! But when God is driving, you know you're on the right road. And thankfully He's right there in the car to work through the pain of the sacrifice. And amazingly enough, He is also right here at home to work through it with those left behind.

This is a long post. I'm sure I've lost a few along the way. I wanted you to have some background because we are right in the middle of fundraising and preparing to send them off in June, so I will likely be using my blog to tell about those opportunities as well. Their ministry is called Many Hands for Haiti. God certainly works in mysterious ways, and I would love to get Jared & Stacey's story out to as many as will hear it. Watch for more information!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mr. Clean

Feather duster: $.97
Windshield squeegee: $2.50
The sheer joy of a "dusting" 1-year-old: priceless

Mason has a new favorite pasttime, and last night it reached a new level. He has loved to watch me sweep and mop for a long time, but now he is taking matters into his own hands. A couple weeks ago I bought him a windshield squeegee at Walmart, which just happens to look exactly like a miniature mop--the perfect size for Mason! He has been doing his share of mopping. In the middle of all this, he also developed an affection for washing things in the sink, especially if he gets to use the dish wand. Well, we were back at Walmart yesterday and needed a bit of a distraction, so I let him carry around a cheap feather duster. It was less than a dollar, so I figured I could splurge on that one. Last night Brent swept up the floor after supper with the mini broom and dustpan, and Mason couldn't wait to get his hands on it. So he walked around the whole evening with the feather duster in one hand and the little broom or dustpan in the other. And I mean the WHOLE evening. We couldn't even pry them out of his little hands at bedtime, so we gave up...see slideshow. :) He's for hire if anyone needs a little tidying up! (Just don't ask him to use the vacuum...)