What do we do with a miracle?

Gerald‘s wife Yannick and their sons Berlins (14) and Dawens (10) have cleared the US/Haitian bureaucracies and arrived in the US last Thursday and at their new home on Monday.Their family’s story, a harrowing tale, not only teaches us how to build partnerships responsibly,
On Saturday, 50% of Circle Thrift proceeds (all locations) went to Heads Together Haiti, our compassion team that does empowering work both in Fayet. This turned out to be almost $2,000 and will go to helping re-settle the family.
Our compassion team and some friends tried to make this frigid first impression of life in Philadelphia warmer with a care package and some drumming and dancing – check out Julian’s vid here of Gerald & Yannick dancing for joy with Dawn and the drummers. I’m really grateful for my friend to be together with his family. I also am married with two children about their ages. I can barely fathom how it would feel to be separated from my family because of violent desperation for over three years, or the joy of being together again in a new country and climate.

The Circle of Hope Leadership Team talked a bit at last Monday’s Imaginarium about partnering well. Here’s more to the story of how this partnership has worked over the years, and how we hope it will continue.

It was also a Tuesday, six years ago last week that the earthquake hit Haiti. We had already been working with Tetan San (Heads Together) for six months through our compassion team as well as other groups we’re connected to like Haiti Partners. Everyone on our team has been to Haiti, either before or after the quake. Because of Gerald‘s access to money from the US in an impoverished, rural, and now earthquake-torn region, he was abducted by a gang and held for ransom. He knew that staying in Fayet meant paying growing tributes to the gang who held him. The literacy and community organizing, including administrating the school we helped rebuild,  would be considerably compromised. His wife and two sons (then about 8 and 4) fled to a friend’s home in a nearby village.
Not knowing what to do, Gerald fled to Philadelphia in the summer of 2012, where he had a small but dedicated support network – among us. With the trauma and definite threat, he hoped to find a haven for his family and to be able to continue aspects of his community work. While speaking both French and Creole, his English was not great. We needed some creativity to get him to the US as immigration from Haiti is extremely difficult. Refugee status would only protect him. We needed a miracle.
We began a legal process/battle to attain amnesty so his whole family could relocate to Philadelphia, or at least to the US. We invested in legal help and Gerald found ways to work (like Circle Thrift!!) and develop his English language skills. A few months ago, we got the good news that even while many Haitians got temporary extensions of their Temporary Protected Status, Gerald‘s case was permanent and extended to his family. It’s taken more prayer, money, and time to get to this point.
With many thanks to Haiti Partners and the House of Grace Catholic Worker, the family is about to be reunited.
We continue, through Gerald and the rest of the team, to do grassroots work of proliferating possibilities for kids, especially, in Fayet. His heart inspires me. I’m grateful that we can partner with such a dedicated leader. With many other larger forces at work – including political and economic freezing out of Haiti since their independence, we played a role in this story before we got involved directly in 2009 with these folks from Fayet. I’m grateful for the courage of so many to stay involved, pray for miracles, and follow the Holy Spirit as we work out some small solutions to large problems. 
What do we do when we’ve prayed for something for this long that was really unlikely, most would even say not going to actually happen? Can we be grateful? Can our faith be strengthened? Do we dream bigger? I hope we can see God working in the partnership – even in the ups and downs – and feel like we can actually change the world. Jesus wants to. Jesus is.

look, mom, we’re on TV

My rather cool friend Josh Camerote has been working on a piece for Current TV on Circle of Hope for a few months.  The finished piece is now on their website and will be on their tv station at some point.

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Pardon the whacky description on the Current TV website (here is the video).  That wasn’t Josh, it was written by zippy editors I guess.  God is doing some cool stuff, though, in Philly.

I’m having trouble with the imbed, sorry about that.  If anyone has any experience with their player and wants to give me a hand posting it into wordpress that’d be awesome.

movin on up

Thanks Nick for uploading the video that Jim shot and edited.  Here is the video of the Human Chain that moved Circle Thrift on Labor Day.  Hi-res version MPEG here for dnld.

You may want to share a highlight from the day here. I previously posted about how glorious of a day it was.  I’m happy for the video and all the pictures because they are a reminder of how God works through people.  Even the face of difficult circumstances and tasks, he provides.  Not always in the way that we imagined.

CT move pics…

so Carina needs tons of props (dub kuds) for not only taking tons of pics today, but for posting them online lickety split.  what a gal!

Take a look at this one from 2233 Frankford Ave.  It looks so fresh!!!

What a moment.  Much thanks and respect to those who made it out today to help move CT up to her new digs.  Sorry if you couldn’t make it.  It was awesome.  The store should be open on Friday or Saturday at the latest.  Too many people to shout out.

Hopefully no more posts about Circle Thrift for a while! We have another building to renovate before we plant a church this fall in Camden…and lots of other stuff to write about.  But so many sweet pics!  So many good times!

my wife, my hero

Martha inspires me.  I’m really grateful for her, especially today.  We get to see the fruit of a lot of people’s hard work, some small miracles (this process of buying 2233 has been quite a ride), and great ideas.  We’re moving Circle Thrift (the first one) up to the new site today.  Getting started around 9, BBQ around 3pm.  Come on by to check it out if you want.

Martha has an incredible sense of imagination and responsibility to see her dreams through.  She is not afraid of hard work, she tries things that she doesn’t know how to do yet, she is more than capable.  What a woman.

I love that she doesn’t let anyone tell her that we can’t do something.  Go get ’em.

(Thanks for the photo, Carina!)

The next thing

This next week is quite a transition time.  I’m hanging with my kids a bunch so Martha can finish getting Circle Thrift ready to move to her next home, less than 2 blocks up Frankford Ave on Labor Day-lots of room still for you to help out with the “human chain”.  Tuesday we begin the renovation of our current spot at 2007.  Wednesday I start classes at Temple.

And if anyone can teach me basics about iPhoto and other cultish mac programs that would be cool, we won’t have other reverse images anymore here.