Day 26 – Thursday, March 15th
Relentless Scripture: Matt 6:46
Relentless Focus: Principals and Principles
Relentless Example: “… do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?”
Today I observed how Pastor François artfully helped resolve two principal money disputes. One occurred on his compound and the other at the Pignon Airport. I got a little more insight into the Haitian culture, although these particular behaviors are not exclusively Haitian. But through these behaviors I could see why some who are poor stay poor, and why some who are rich, stay rich … it’s a matter of principals, and principles.
The first is related to the fence project, which by the way is going well. They, the six workers today including the Boss Man (foreman), have just completed the foundation for the section securing the cooking and generator areas. They will start applying the blocks tomorrow. The foundation was dug deep and constructed with rebar and various sized rocks and concrete mix and looks attractively Haitian.
As I heard the workers this morning continuing in their work, I also heard Pastor having a heated conversation with the foreman about a delinquent worker and a decision made that wasn’t authorized by him (the economic or principal buyer). You see, for the first two days, 5 workers were employed on this project (2 higher skilled/3 lower skilled). This was a verbal agreement acting out in good faith by Pastor and the Boss Man. Pastor and I had earlier calculated the labor costs per day and figured that it could be between 4-8 workers at varied skill levels. This morning, there were 3 higher skilled workers along with 3 lower skilled workers (although one late). However, the Boss Man never asked Pastor for permission to add the 3rd skilled worker. The budget may not have allowed for that and he can’t just assume that because Pastor’s working with an American, there’s money in the budget. Fortunately, the issue was resolved swiftly and Pastor even invited him to sit down with us at breakfast. He accepted.
Now regarding the young delinquent worker …. Pastor read him the “Truth in Love” Righteous Riot act, and basically said, there are not enough jobs in Haiti to begin with, and if you can’t find enough discipline to get here on time then this job ends now! The young man apologized to Pastor and asked him to give him another chance. And Pastor did. Pastor then turned to me and said, “What’s lacking in Haiti are principles that the people can work and live by … this is a very big problem here!”
The second dispute is a reoccurring situation in which missionaries in Haiti are held captive to principal Custom fees and practices that are charged for goods received from outside the country. For example, Missionary Bill and Jennifer are part of a missionary alliance group I believe called Missionary International Flights. They coordinate a variety of missionary logistics in helping to meet some of their travel and transportation needs. About once a week, there’s the potential to receive packages/mail from the States, or to send things to the States. Today the plane was loaded with passengers and packages as missionaries and their teams were moving into Pignon, Haiti. This was a good lesson in why, if you can buy it here, you should, because the custom tax imposed on items can cost these missionaries more in some cases than what was paid for the item itself, plus the MIF standard shipping fee. Missionary Bill received several items today which totaled over 200 pounds. The largest and most expensive was an air compressor for his power tools. Bill has no issue with paying his fair share; the problem is, he and others like him just never know consistently what that fair share is! There’s no formula or criteria which these customs guys disclosed. It’s random from week to week, from person to person, from item to item. It’s like those tax collectors back in Jesus’ earthly ministry. Bill ended up this time having to pay a little less only because Pastor François was able to help secure a lower price.
According to principle, you would think that if any one group was a custom fit for a custom break it would be the missionary on a customs’ tax. I mean come on … they are helping this country’s poor and less fortunate, which includes about 80% of the population, with their time, talents and resources; although, they are in service for the Kingdom of God.
As I was witnessing these tax invasions, I mean collections, I started to get all hot and bothered for the wrong reason. Then my principal Lord reminded me of some of His principles, which are:
1) Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven Matt 5:10
2) But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you … Matt 5:44
3) For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? Matt 5:46 (ouch)
All then I could say is, I’m Loving Haiti. What a great lesson in missions I learned.
Pray for Loving Haiti: Missionaries’ safety in travel, along with their goods Pray for Me: I got to Love that tax-gatherer.