As a college freshman in 1997, I became friends with some guys who, from day one, it was obvious we were going to get along really well: Phil Penner, Robbie (affectionately Vato) Mezger and Shane Gauthier to name a few. During spring break the four of us had plans to pile into Phil’s Corolla, drive 40-some hours to the Sonora Desert and play basketball with a bunch of guys Vato grew up with in Mexico (our idea of a good time). It would have worked had it not been for the 26 others who wanted to go too! Needless to say, we traded the Corolla for two 15-passenger Econolines and made the trip.
The following year we assembled a small army to help rebuild a town on the Honduran-Nicaraguan frontier that had been totally obliterated by the hurricane. I remember lying under the stars on piles of timbers—now houses, dreaming of days beyond academia when we all could be working together.
One by one we graduated, got married, and went separate ways. Phil, while serving with his wife and daughter in a place traditionally hostile to the Gospel, went home to be with Jesus in 2008. Vato moved his family to Bosnia (think ethnic cleansing)—to some of the most sleazy and slimy places I’ve ever heard of. Shane and his crew split the last decade working in the barrios and shantytowns of Tegucigalpa and Nairobi.
Last year when Shane started at the Wheaton College Grad School, we began talking…about the dream. One thing led to another, and four days prior to the earthquake Shane and his wife, Kara, visited us in Haiti. Earlier this month I went to Wheaton to hang out with Shane & Kara (Gabriel, Hammer, Grace and Charity too) and work out the details to move their family to Haiti this summer!
Shane is the kind of person who—had he been in Port-au-Prince after the quake, thugs would have been distributing aid items rather than looting houses. That’s typical of what he does.
Although we haven’t posted much in the past month, we’ve been working nonstop laying the foundation for long-term recovery through an intriguing sustainable development and discipleship initiative. STAND BY