The day for our Haiti Relief Program finally arrived, after having been canceled for snow. I had sent out 15 emails to area United Methodist Churches and 55 letters to area Baptist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Church of God, Pentecostal Holiness, Catholic, and Non-Denominational churches. Joanne and I had spent hours upon hours loading photos onto the PowerPoint, a total of 578 photos were used. In addition Joanne had found 2 hymns and a Call to Worship reading that were specific for Haiti and the disaster there, which loaded on the program. We had arranged to use a projector from Janeen Abbot and a laptop computer from Josh Dalton, since I currently have neither. We got everything together and arrived at St. Andrews UMC an hour ahead to make sure we got it all set up before anyone arrived.
Our first problem was that our PowerPoint, that we had loaded on a jump drive, would not work on Josh's laptop. When Katie Nuckols arrived she tried to help Joanne get it running, but nothing happened. The only thing we could think might cause the problem was that our computer used Microsoft Vista and his used Microsoft XP. So we called Donna Adams, knowing that she was coming to the program, to see if she had a laptop that used XP and fortunately she did.
Joanne and Donna switched everything over to Donna's computer, loaded the PowerPoint, and it popped up on the screen beautifully. So we hurried to connect it to the projector and get the program, already late by now, started. But alas, Donna's computer would not hook into the projector with the cables we had for the projector. We tried everything; we pulled random cables out to try, we even connected Donna's laptop to Josh's and then Josh's laptop to the projector. Nothing worked. Talk about a tech disaster! Finally, we decided that since Donna's laptop had a very large screen, we would turn the screen around to the congregation and have them watch it on the laptop.
Oh, did I forget to mention that we only had 25 people come for the program? Everyone there was from our 3 churches, except for one guest. So it wasn't too difficult to have everyone move close to the front and middle of the church to see the screen. We did have to skip the hymns and reading since the print was too small to see.
We had pictures of Haiti before the earthquake, that we had taken when we had visited there. Courtney and Dave had been missionaries in Haiti for 3 years. We showed slides of our first two grandchildren, Thomas and Taisie, when they were very small, who were adopted in Haiti. We also had some pictures of 3 teams of missionaries and the work they do in Haiti. We were trying to raise funds to send them. We finished with photos of the earthquake and relief effort since the quake.
After we finished the PowerPoint part of the program we had a Q&A time. Joanne and I showed some of the art items we had brought back from our visits to Haiti, when Courtney and Dave were missionaries there.
We had asked people to bring something that might be donated to "Gleaning for the World" for Haiti relief and any money received would go directly to the missionaries in Haiti. We had folks drop their monetary donations in an old washtub and we placed all relief items at the front of the church. We received $140 and a truck load of items.
I want to thank Janeen for making the projector available, Josh and Donna for volunteering their laptops, Brian Daniels for taking pictures, Joanne for all her work on the Powerpoint, and everyone there that evening for their patience with our technical difficulties.
We finally finished the whole program over an hour later than we had planned. We got home around 10:30 Sunday night. We crashed.
When I finally got around to reading my email on Monday, I found one from our district Superintendent, Larry Davies. He sends an email out every Sunday morning to all the pastors in the district with a prayer and word for us. I usually don't get to read them until after services on Sunday, since we usually leave the house by 7:30 in the morning and the email comes out around that time. I wish I could have had this one before the program on Sunday evening. It went like this:
"I've had a few computer problems this week. I finally gave up this morning and opened up another one. I guess I'm fortunate; I had another computer to turn to.
Computer problems for me often represent life itself. Things go along pretty smoothly until there is a glitch. That glitch in a computer can go instantly from smooth to disaster or at least so it seems at the time.
It's all a matter of perspective.
After you step back and look around you realize. Disaster might be a little bit too strong a word. After all, the world is still spinning. I still have a job. There is food in the fridge. I will still go to work and life will go on pretty much as it has.
More importantly, God still loves me and I can rest assured that grace is still a huge part of God's plan for my life.
So today, I'm praying that you will appreciate the gift of perspective. In the midst of your church concerns over finances, growth and other important areas, I pray for God's perspective for you.
Perspective calms the nerves and provides the proper focus. Perspective reminds you that God is in control... not you or me for that matter.
This morning, I am praying that your perspective is centered on God.
God bless, Larry Davies"
I had lost my perspective, I lost focus. God was in control and I obviously was not. The people that were there were the people God wanted there. We still collected a truck load of items for "Gleaning for the World" and some money for the missionaries. I had forgotten the lesson of the fish and loaves. I was the disciple looking at the situation and not liking what I saw. I can easily imagine Father smiling as He watched His frantic children trying to make things work, while He was welcoming those He had personally invited, and we wondered where everyone was. Often God's lessons are embarassing when we finally realize that we have just been taught, clandestine teaching. I have repented and am hoping to do better next time. I am sure there will be a next time.