Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Return From Haiti

I am breaking my Lenten fast from blogging for this news update.
Deborah and I returned from Haiti this past Friday night. Thank you all for your prayers.
We were able to see almost 400 patients in 5 days and we were able to visit Fr. Andrew's parish of Saint Simon Jude and do a small clinic there on Sunday as well as one in his rectory when we got back. Through the generosity of you at home through CD sales, coffee sales and fund-raising, we were able to give Father a financial gift of 2700 dollars.
He is feeding 600 people twice a week operating a soup kitchen out of his home(rectory) and can really use the money as the food-aid is starting to dry up. The Missionaries of the Poor (Father Ho Lung's order) were with Fr. Andrew for the past month helping him distribute food and supplies to the poor. We had a great time with the brothers (MOP) and prayed the liturgy of the hours with them. We all slept in tents at the rectory as no one is sleeping inside, though structurally the rectory held up ok.

The earthquake hit as Fr. Andrew was consecrating the Precious Blood. As he held the chalice up in the air, the ground started to shake and he planted his feet firmly on the ground and knew he had to finish the consecration. As he finished, he watched the walls of the parish perimeter collapse in front of him and the houses and buildings beyond the Church crumble to the ground. By a great miracle, the Church building still under construction did not get damaged and everyone at Mass was safe. He quickly ended the Mass and told everyone to get home to check on their loved ones. Soon after he returned to the rectory, families of the parish as well as others started to stream through the broken walls of his rectory compound. In a few short days, the garbage dump near the Church became a tent city and Fr. coordinated the food and water and tent distribution. He then began coordinating the food kitchen back at his rectory which is still distributing food and water twice a week to all in his neighborhood, not just Catholics in his parish. He is also giving out meds that had been left with him from our last mission in November in between medical team mission trips. A small team led by Tom Kardish from OLMC Doylestown helped with this effort a week or so before we got there.

The city of PAP is a mess. Piles of rubble and collapsed houses and buildings are everywhere. The destruction is random though, as some structures are left untouched standing next to others that are flattened. Many streets are blocked off and the people are living in the streets in tents or makeshift structures of tarps, ropes and scrap tin. The buses and taxis are running and people are buying and selling along the roadways as usual.

We spent most of our time at Shiloh Baptist where I worked with a team from New Covenant Christian Community in Bethlehem. Most of the people we saw had the usual hypertension, worms, diabetes, anemia, acid stomach, headaches, vaginitis, skin infections plus post traumatic stress. Several people had poorly healing wounds from injuries suffered in the quake. One young girl came on crutches with one ankle crushed and only a strap-on cast for over two months!

Despite the devastation and suffering continually experienced by the Haitian people, they manifested a joy and confidence in God that is absolutely supernatural. At mass on Sunday, it was packed and the congregation sung their hearts out and lifted their hands in praise to the Lord. God is close to the poor and truly in "the least of these" we experienced His presence and were privileged to have the opportunity to minister to Him in his people.

On a much sadder note, we received word mid-week while we were in Haiti that my father-in-law passed away. He had been battling pancreatic cancer heroically but it was time for the
Lord to call him home. It was hard to be away from the family at this time and not be there for my children who were very close to him. I had known him since I was 14 years old and he was like a father to me, in some ways more than my own. I am thankful that we did get home in time for his memorial service. I rejoice that he is re-united with my late wife Sue. Please keep them in your prayers.


Anonymous saintos said...

Russ, I have thought of you so often. Thank you for sharing these stories and please know I will be praying for the peace of your father in law's soul. God bless you.

March 16, 2010 10:57 PM  
Blogger Shirley said...

God bless you for the work you did there, and Fr. Andrew as well. With 3 major earthquakes to start this year, I have a feeling that He is just warming up.
Sad about your father in law; may he rest in peace.

March 16, 2010 11:58 PM  
Blogger Whatseduptonow said...

Hello from Cyvadier. We are fortunate that our clinic is intact. Unbelievable amounts of patients for our first day. I am concerned that we do not have any anti depressants as the misery is all around. We did not see much of PAP and will tour Jacmel on Saturday.
You and your family are in my prayers

March 17, 2010 6:53 AM  
Blogger Joyful Catholics said...

What a sorrowful time, but yet one of joy to know your father in law is no longer in pain and will see his daughter again, as Mary hugs him a 'welcome' and leads him to His Lord. God bless you and yours, Russ. I prayed for you today, for your sons, and Deborah and that all you friends in Haiti and here at home may know the LOVE of GOD and HIS HOPE in ALL situations. That HE IS BIGGER than every thing that comes to us, no matter how tragice or sorrowful, HE IS THERE. Blessings, my friend.

March 18, 2010 3:41 PM  
Blogger George Weis said...

Dear Russ,

Glory to God! I am so encouraged and uplifted at the work you have done and continue to do with the people of Haiti... the Lord surely must be smiling down on you and Deborah for the love that you continue to have for those people.

On the other hand, my heart goes out to you for the loss of your Father In-Law. May he be of eternal memory!

God bless you my friend. The Love and Peace of Christ be yours throughout your whole life.


March 20, 2010 8:18 AM  
Anonymous Barb L. said...

Russ and Deborah, Thinking of you and your family, with love and prayers for you.

March 22, 2010 9:02 AM  
Anonymous Theo said...

As horrid as tragedies like these are, there is some small consolation in seeing Christians come together, regardless of doctrine, and support their petitions through action.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” – James 1:22


“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:14

The mystery of suffering remains (to me) just that: a mystery. Why is it redemptive? How is it actually a privilege to suffer when it is so ordained by God?
“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him”- Philippians 1:29

I dunno why, but so it is. We are redeemed by Christ’s suffering and at the same time it has been granted to us (as a gift, it seems) that we can suffer for Him. That’s, “for Him!” Mind-blowing, eh?

Perhaps it’s simply a necessary part of Christ’s saving work while we remain in this life—a part of the “to live is Christ,” (Philippians 1:21) package of Christian sanctification.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” – James 1:2

Perhaps these scriptures should appear in the Catechism under the heading, “So, You Wanna be a Christian?”

March 27, 2010 11:47 AM  

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