Food Security…and the Lack Thereof
Something happened to prices in the open market while we were in America. Plastic cups, which sold for seven Haitian dollars per sleeve now sell for twelve. Eggs, which sold for about $30 Ht now sell for $45. So it is for most everything that we buy locally. While most food prices have increased by 50%+ wages have not. It is times like this that often lead to uprisings in such a poor economy. Please pray for the people of Haiti who struggle day in and day out to put food on their tables.
I remember when A. Jay was a colicky baby. At about 4pm each day he would start screaming and crying. It’s just heart-wrenching for a mom to deal with an inconsolable baby. It lasted only a couple of months, but I worked hard every one of those nights to try to comfort and calm him. I found that if I stood in front of the dishwasher, with it running, and rocked him in my arms, that he would calm down. I would put a blanket on the floor and put him down once I felt he was sleeping soundly. Lord help me when the dish washer came to the end of the cycle. I had the cleanest dishes in Gardner during that time. I would make sure the dish washer ran until at least midnight every night. I would do anything in my power to keep him from waking and screaming again.
I often think of that time when I consider the mothers in this country who are so challenged to feed their families. A hungry baby cries and cries. A hungry child whines and cries and pulls on mom’s skirt and it never stops…until food is given. A. Jay was only colicky for a couple of months. There are children whose lifestyle is to be hungry. How do these moms cope? Why do they have to? It’s one of the injustices in this world, for sure.
School feeding programs are one of the best ways to ensure that children are eating regularly. When we first started the mission, we didn’t have food for the students. What a difference when we started feeding the kids. So often the kids would fall asleep during class. After we started feeding them, they were lively and rambunctious. Their grades improved. Their faces changed. Everything about them seemed to improve. I was seeing with my own eyes what I had learned in school, that it matters what we eat. For some of our students, if they didn’t eat at school, they would likely not eat every day.
It costs a lot of money to feed school children everyday. We have over eight hundred children in school. Over the years we have received some of the school food from the World Food Program. We actually were distributing food (rice, beans, oil and salt) to 30 schools in partnership with them. Now, for reasons beyond my comprehension, no food is being given by them for any of these schools. We are grateful that when we really needed it, Food for the Poor and Kids Against Hunger came through with food for us. Food for the Poor gives a portion of the food we need. Kids Against Hunger has sent us two containers of rice and soy meals. This food helps to feed our school kids, but we also distribute it to others in need, such as orphanages and families in crisis.
Sharing food with the COBBA orphanage (Archaie, Haiti)
While we were in the States, we had the privilege of participating in a food packaging event at The Chapel. As a result, there are cases of food that will be available to us in January to help continue feeding these and other children.
It can be a bit nerve wracking to not know where the food is coming from for the school. But I always remember the verse from the Bible that says, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.“ (Psalm 37:25 KJV) and I am confident that the Lord will always provide food for these youngsters (aka “my babies”).
Amazing! Five Fire Departments from rural Massachusetts have donated over a ton of peanut butter to Mission of Hope International! We are so grateful to Cheryl “Chel” Finn, who caught the vision and ran with it. Now it’s no longer hers alone.
Last Fall, we asked friends and partners to collect peanut butter for us so that we could ship it to Haiti. Everywhere we went people were bringing us peanut butter. It was great. Chel, who teaches and works with many firefighters in Massachusetts, spread the word among her friends and co-workers. Well, that spark caused a fire and there developed a competition between several departments to see who would donate the most peanut butter. Chel’s husband, Charles, crafted the Great Peanut Butter Challenge trophy, which went to the Douglas Fire Department, with over 200 jars of peanut butter donated.
This Fall, we didn’t ask for peanut butter donations, but the fire that started last year, rekindled. Now we are no longer counting jars, but rather by pounds. Here are the resulting donations: 1st place East Brookfield 732.05 lbs … 2nd place Rutland 491.625 lbs … 3rd Douglas 369.125 lbs … 4th Mendon 287.359375 lbs … Honorable mention Uxbridge 186.6875 lbs … All together these five fire stations donated just over 2,066 pounds of peanut butter.
The Great Peanut Butter Challenge
It’s fun to see the competition and enjoyment caused by the Great Peanut Butter Challenge, but it’s rather sobering to realize that this peanut butter will impact the lives of hundreds of children living at risk. According to figures from the CIA World Factbook, the infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births) in Haiti is 50.92. 18.9% of children under the age of 5 (when they are most at risk of death) are underweight. We are talking not only about quality of life, but life and death. We are so grateful for the efforts of so many to send peanut butter to Haiti. The peanut butter has been donated, now we need to ship it to Haiti. Because of the overwhelming response, we are in need of about $2,000 more this year than last. Please consider donating to get this peanut butter to where it will make a real difference in the lives of children.
We have been so blessed to have Leah Fuller with us for three months, working in the Thozin medical clinic. I have enjoyed the “deep” conversations we have had over patient issues, general injustices and cute babies. Leah spent 6 months with our fellow missionary friend, Ed Locket, prior to coming to MOHI. She adopted many of his skills for loving on kids, remembering names, interrupting adult conversation to pay attention to them, etc. I have had so much fun walking between the office and the missionary compound with her. All the little ones call out to her along the way. It’s precious.
Leah will be returning to MOHI in January to serve full time – for a “to be determined by God” length of time. Together with Angela, we will continue providing the much needed services and medicines to the people of our communities and the students at MOHI.
I remember hearing my mom/grandmother saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of medicine.” It’s so exciting to me that MOHI is becoming more and more proactive in prevention. All of our students receive medicine to help them not contract worms and they are being taught good sanitation practice. The community and our staff are also learning the importance of good sanitation, as Pastor Kevin has been sharing educational videos (in Kreyol) in the clinic waiting area. This week he also held a class for our workers at the missionary compound about food safety and hand washing.
The Mobile Medical Clinic Arrives
We have been talking about the mobile medical clinic. We have walked through it. We have helped pack food to put in it. We have been a part of the packing. We have dreamed of its arrival in Haiti. Now, we have seen it arrived here. I can’t even describe to you the excitement I felt upon seeing the bus drive into our Thozin campus Thursday night. I told our staff that was there for the arrival, “it’s 38 feet long!” Pastor Hakine said, “Oh no, it’s much longer than that.” I took the tape measure out and we measured it – 38 feet. The point is, it’s sooooo long! That means there’s plenty of room for holding everything we need to drive to a remote location and hold a medical clinic.
The mobile medical clinic has arrived!
Leah shared a story with me recently, that just reaffirmed in me the need for this bus. She told me of a woman who lives in a remote area where there is no healthcare available. She had high blood pressure, but could not afford to get herself to the next city, be consulted by a doctor and purchase bp medicine. The woman eventually had a stroke and is suffering from the damage now. A mobile medical clinic visiting her village monthly would have made a world of difference for her. High blood pressure and diabetes are both situations that need to be treated continuously. I believe that the Lord will utilize this bus to save many, many lives in many remote areas of Haiti. Please keep the medical ministry here in prayer, trusting the Lord to grow it and sustain it, according to His will.
Paul Fallon’s time here also overlapped with the Bless Back Worldwide team. (You remember Paul Fallon, architect extraordinaire!!!) It was great that Melissa, who is our point person for BBW, was actually on this team and got to share some ideas with Paul. We had a great meeting where we developed more of a plan for the medical clinic, the addition of dental and a new position for the school science lab. The recent BBW teams have included dental professionals and they have barely been able to scratch the surface of the need we’re seeing here. It’s wonderful that BBW is interested in long-term solutions for our students and communities.
We were blessed this morning by a timely message (for me, at least) from Pastor Kevin. I was encouraged to stretch my faith. I shouldn’t depend on what I know I can or cannot do, but I should expect God to do amazing things, just as we see recorded in the book of Acts.
Pastor Kevin and Tammy will be leaving this week for a quick trip back to the States. We pray they are able to accomplish everything they’re setting out to do and return to us encouraged and just RARIN’ to go.
Church Service in Thozin
We’re implementing some changes in our Children’s Sunday School program. Honestly, it’s pretty exciting! Lex sat down our leaders and laid out some of his goals for the program. Angela is now adding her experience to that of our other Sunday School leaders (Alexis, Carline and Luc Sony). We’ve also added a budget, to enable a snack and drink for the kids. This morning was a great start, but it seems that we will need to increase our staff pretty much…immediately, as we had 148 children in three classrooms. Nevertheless, it was a very encouraging start. There are lots of great things in store for these kids!
Sunday School for Cuties only!
There’s an incredible worship service happening right now as I am trying to finish up this post. Wow!!! Alexis is translating for Pastor Kevin and the music’s going and they’re singing in the spirit about Jesus coming back. I just had to go join in for a bit. Wish you all could have been here with us for this one. So glad, too, that Ed Locket is back!
English Worship Service Tonight in Thozin
We are grateful to Ted Bronson for his generosity. Ted not only donated and shipped his van, filled with electrical supplies to Haiti, but he also came himself to get things started. This week Ted worked hand in hand with our crew to get the cables run from the electric pole to the electric room, underground to the school. They installed all the breaker panels and went over details with us. Now we will be working on the inside wiring.
Electrical system for the Thozin campus
Library and Computer Lab
Having architect Paul Fallon back in Haiti for a bit was just awesome. He got the roof and stairs built in the new electrical building and did some estimates (to complete the school, to make an awesome library and to improve our medical/dental facilities). We also got to go over some changes coming up in the school and he advised us on how to adjust the use of the building to accommodate those changes. One change is that the science lab will now become the computer lab, next to the library. The science lab will join the medical/dental clinic area.
Kindle readers from Books for Haiti
Carpeting has now been purchased for both the library and computer rooms (thanks to a generous donor!) and should be shipping down here in a few weeks. Robert Ende and Cynthia Reid brought us forty new Kindle readers last week to add to our collection of books. Each Kindle can hold well over a thousand books. Many classics are available, free of charge. Others will need to be purchased. An Amazon gift card would be a great Christmas gift for our classes – just in case you were looking for a unique giving opportunity. (*smile*)
Hard working boys
We had a couple of our high school graduates join Tammy this week, learning how to use the Kindles. We are hoping to bring them on as part time librarians in December or January. Even though the library room itself will not yet be ready, we are eager to begin using the Kindles and physical books that we have stored right now. Perhaps when the rooms are ready, our staff will all be ready, too.
It’s wild to be in the school yard and feel like it’s still vacation time. The students are in classrooms once again. Yay! There’s such a sense of pride all around. We are so blessed to have a school building that is solid and provides space for each classroom to work independently.
Who misses Leah the most?
Every morning when I arrive, however, I am VERY aware that school is going on. All the preschool classes start out their day with singing and dancing in the yard. It’s so much fun to watch them. Of course they do tend to wander away and come over to grab onto the missionaries a little bit, too.
We are so blessed to have several full time missionaries working and/or living with us now. Besides the four Edmés, Angela Parayson, Kevin & Tammy Groder and Leah Fuller now call MOHI home. I am incredibly grateful that God has brought people that I can get along with. (I know, you all thought that was an easy thing, but they all know better!) I feel like we’re all family and I love it!
Missionaries, visitors, staff – we all enjoy each other!
We had a great week with our friends from Bless Back Worldwide (BBW), architect Paul Fallon and electrician Ted Bronson. The BBW team worked like a well-oiled machine. Their main goal was to perform well-child checks on all 800+ students at the Thozin and St. Etienne campuses. Goal accomplished!
Team from Bless Back Worldwide (Charlotte, NC)
Regular clinic patients, as well as many students with fevers and cold symptoms were cared for all week. Dr. Chris Kibler (Dentist) and Susan Thomson (dental hygienist) worked so hard, not only checking teeth, but also doing extractions and cleanings. The team was able to distribute food and clothing in one of the poorer villages in our area, as well as dedicating the house that BBW paid to have constructed. Madame Nelson and her three children were so blessed to be the recipient of a new home, Bible and a special “God Bless Our Home” plaque. This is the third home that BBW has purchased for families in need. Thank you!!!
Leah in front of the restaurant (turned clinic for the day!) in St Etienne
St Etienne students
Thozin well-child checks, pictures and education
Madame Nelson’s new home
Arriving at Thozin
Paul Fallon, who spent two weeks of each month here for all of 2012, is a always a welcome addition to our missionary/expats team. The timing of his return is just perfect. He helped our carpenters figure out the roof for the electrical room. He’s been doing estimates for finishing the school, as well as helping us to think through some changes. He was also able to talk medical space with Melissa, from BBW. They are very involved in our medical ministry here and it was wonderful to see her have the opportunity to talk with Paul about room designs. We also decided to move our science lab out of the new school and into the medical clinic area, where it can serve both our students and the clinic. The room in the school will now be utilized strictly as a computer lab, as we’ve discovered we cannot combine the library space with computer space. All is well and we are very pleased with having the computer lab and library connected, but separate.
Ted found himself a great electrician from Petit Goave and the two of them have started doing the “heavy” electrical work, preparing for the transformer to be installed and the service to be brought into the new electrical building.
Carpet for the library and computer lab
So many exciting things are happening at the school. The students and staff are so excited to be in the new classrooms. They’re even coming to school looking crisper and more professional than ever. The things happening in the school are exciting, too.
It always exciting to meet the new preschool (3 year olds) class each Fall. The kids are so tiny and adorable. This year all of our preschoolers start each day with some physical activity out doors. That means that most mornings when the missionaries arrive at the Thozin campus, we find about a hundred little cuties clapping, jumping, wiggling, singing and/or flying like butterflies. They’re just so irresistible!
Lex brought up an interesting point for me this morning. He was asking, “Where do you go when things are going wrong? What do you do when confusion reigns? Where do you turn when disaster strikes?” He said, “We all knew Who to turn to each time the earth shook in 2010!” We all voiced our agreement, as we remembered the night of January 12th. The tremors never stopped for more than 15 minutes at a time. Many of us were gathered in the church yard, where we tried (most unsuccessfully) to sleep. We always knew when another tremor was coming. They would come from the east and we would hear camps of people to the east of us start shouting out, “Jezi, O!” (Oh, Jesus!) We’d all brace for the tremor and shout out to Jesus in the midst of it. Then to our west we would hear the next camp and the next, shouting out likewise. In that moment when the earth no longer seems to be solid, we all knew that Jesus was the place of refuge and help.
Did I mention that I am happy to be back in Haiti? I am! And I’m looking forward to the many friends that will be coming to visit this Winter/Spring. Drop me a line, if you’re interested in coming, too!
Horses getting washed down, just down the beach from the MOHI missionary compound
Where to Begin?
Lex, Alexis, A. Jay and I just spent 5 1/2 weeks in America. We traveled by car from Fort Meyers (FL), to Charlotte (NC), to Franklin (TN), to Akron (OH), to Manchester (CT), to several locations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, to Jacksonville (FL), and to Ft. Lauderdale (FL). We took four (glorious) days of vacation (NO telephone calls!!!), but the rest of the trip we kept a very difficult pace. Thus, I’ve not posted since we left Haiti. I apologize for that. I do hope to give you a thorough update today to make up for it. Despite the pace, we so enjoyed our time speaking, making new friends and catching up with many of our faithful supporters. I will share some of the highlights later in this post.
Back to Haiti…
Just LOVED seeing so many cuties at church this morning!
Newly built church benches
What a thrill for us to return to Haiti and find everything functioning just as if we were here. Now, I’m sure it was different for our missionaries and staff, as they all took on greater responsibilities, but they did an incredible job.
Pastor Kevin and Tammy took over our roles as the troubleshooters and Leah kept everyone healthy. They were kind enough to write and share pictures with us while we were away, too. Our staff organized the opening of our schools, kept the churches hopping, built a home, church benches and an electrical supply building, kept the missionaries, orphans and students fed, kept the radio station reaching out, kept things maintained and fixed things that broke… One might think that our presence may not be needed anymore, but the welcome we received upon our return showed that we were certainly missed.
Bless Back Worldwide paid $5,000 to build a home for a family in need.
Lunch time for our first year preschool class.
A Dieu Manatise
Our return was preceded by the death of Feyo’s sister, Manatise. For those of you who have not yet visited MOHI in Haiti, Feyo is an older gentleman that we say “came with the house.” He was the caretaker for the missionary compound prior to MOHI’s acquisition of it. He is loved by so many from America and Europe who have visited here. He is now deeply saddened by Manatise’s passing. Just as in America, the death of a loved one in Haiti requires many expenses by the family. This is a time when land and farm animals are sold to pay for the funeral. MOHI is standing by the family through this difficult time. If you would like to help, please make an online donation and mark in the memo “Feyo’s sister.” We’ll make sure your gifts get to the family. Thank you.
No Turning Back
You may recall a couple of months ago, at the Thozin church, a vodou priest made the decision to follow Jesus. Friday morning our pastoral staff went to his home, at his invitation, to clean out all the trinkets he had used previously in vodou. They loaded them all in the van and drove them to the river to be burned. It’s a big commitment when a man burns the items that provide an income for him. We are so happy for him and the church remains diligent in prayer and intercession on his behalf.
A firm decision to be a follower of Christ
When Leah first came to MOHI, almost 3 months ago, she told me, “If we are still friends after 3 months, I want to talk with you about coming back long-term.” Although we missed half of those three months, we ARE still friends! Leah has purchased airfare to return to Haiti in early January. We are thrilled that Kevin, Tammy, Leah and our family are all able to get along so well in our close living quarters. I look forward to working together for the benefit of the kingdom of God and the people of Haiti.
Our Time in America
Here’s a quick recap of some of the highlights of our time in America. We were so pleased to have been able to touch base with so many of you. I regret that we did not always have our camera handy to capture the moment, but we did get a few shots.
Lex looking for food in Sally’s “Haitian” garden
We stayed with our friends, Bob and Sally (Bob Heier Ministries) in Ft. Myers for about a week and a half.
Our friends Chris and Joy Youell, who organized a wonderful fundraiser for us last year in PA, are now in Ft. Myers, as well. Together they all worked hard at creating an itinerary for our time there. We were able to visit several churches, including services and/or events at Baptist churches in Ft. Myers, Port Charlotte and Lehigh Acres. We spoke with several student groups at the McGregor Baptist Church’s school in Fort Myers, Sunday School classes at Crossroads Baptist Church, and attended a couple of social events.
Sharing with the children at Crossroads Baptist Church
Aside from making so many contacts and visiting with our friends, there was yet another highlight for me in Florida. Bob and Sally brought us to ECHO. I personally enjoyed those couple of hours more than I can even express. I will share a little about it farther down in the “vision” part of this post.
Our friends Jackson and Melissa Roper were the most gracious hosts. Other than the middle of the night, they had us on a tight schedule of meetings the whole time we were with them. They work with that awesome organization called Bless Back Worldwide. (Woot!) We met with all of the organizations leaders, folks who had already made trips to Haiti, as well as those scheduled to come next month and those who arrived here yesterday.
We spent a day with Clifford Chin at the Covenant Day School, enlarging our vision for our schools here and brain storming about ways we can work together more and more. We met with principals, guidance counselors, teachers and administrators, as well as speaking to five classes. We took off from there for a meeting on the other side of town and then headed to a lovely dinner meeting at the McCloy’s home.
Ludwig and Farah invited us to their home for a Haitian-American dinner with many of their Haitian friends from the area. It was so wonderful to have a “taste of home” and meeting so many professionals who want to do something for their homeland.
We visited Elevation Church with Tom and Leigh Ann Loeblein while we were in Charlotte. That was quite an experience, as it is NOT your traditional church. It was very loud, which I am somewhat accustomed to here in Haiti, but the bass in the chest made me feel all of my fifty years. *smile* Pastor Steven Furtick shared some great insights from God’s Word. It was time well invested, for sure.
We spent just one day in Franklin with our friends Mark and Aegis Stuart, from the Hands and Feet Project, and their awesome kids, Journey and Christela. Mark’s parents, Drex and Jo, joined us there. It was so great to catch up with everyone and to challenge them to a game of bowling. Drex won. Will and Andrea (also from HAF) were around, too and we were able to talk a little shop while having fun.
We met up with our friend Hanna Wickham and her cool son Zjandre at the mall. It was a quick visit, but much appreciated. Hanna’s parents, Lennie and Amy Engman, have been our home away from home since we moved to Haiti, so Hanna’s extra special to us.
Fred and Sandy Muffet (Directors, Mission USA and Chapel Green Campus Local Missions) outdid themselves once again on this trip! They made arrangements for our family to have a house to stay in. (Since we live with people ALL the time, this is a huge treat for us!)
Fred & Sandy Muffet at the rice packaging event at the Chapel (Green, OH)
Fred and Sandy made arrangements to have a food packaging event at the Chapel (with Bob & Sally joining us, too!) on Saturday. Several lines of people (children and adults alike) worked in two hour shifts throughout the day. Lex shared before each shift about our work in Haiti, thanking the people for their sacrifice and hard work to help the children of Haiti.
Sunday Lex prayed and shared at both morning services at the Chapel’s Green Campus, as well as in the adult sunday school class. Hundreds of folks turned out for the after service cook out and were so gracious to our family.
The highlight for us was seeing the school bus that they have converted into a mobile medical clinic! It’s HUGE and AWESOME! We are so excited about this addition to our medical ministry here in Haiti. We are expecting the bus to arrive in Haiti this week. The bus will be used to bring medical care to people outside of our local areas. It will be parked regularly at our St Etienne campus, where we can utilize it as a school clinic in between its other outings. Woo Hoo!!!
Mobile Medical Clinic
Packing the bus with supplies for Haiti
As always, it was such a blessing to spend a day at the Full Gospel Interdenominational Church and their missions outreach organization, World-Wide Lighthouse Missions. Pastor Kalinsky and her husband welcomed us into their home and organized a great lunch with their staff. We were able to go over donated items with them and give some input as to our needs here in Haiti. They have committed to shipping 12 barrels to us 3-4 times per year. How exciting in that? If you have things that you would like to get to us, they are willing to add them to the barrels, too. Donations should be mailed to World-Wide Lighthouse Missions, 723 Main Street, Manchester, CT 06040, ATTN MOHI Barrels. They can also be dropped off at their warehouse. Please contact Cris Mack (860) 645-4198 to arrange a drop off time. Barrels cost $150 each to ship, so please be sure to include a check to help cover shipping costs. Thank you!
It was great to join our partners at FGIC for their midweek service. They were so welcoming and encouraging to us. This church has been a long time, faithful supporter in prayer, finances and counsel. We are so blessed to have this Kingdom connection!
Manchester is just around the corner from my hometown of Mansfield, CT. We were able to stop in for a quick visit with my brother Douglas there. We got talking about college, as Alexis is a Junior in High School now, and decided to take a ride over to the University of Connecticut. Alexis joined her uncle in his sporty convertible.
Alexis gets a fun ride with Uncle Douglas
My high school, E.O. Smith, is located right on the UCONN campus, so I was very familiar with the campus…or at least I USED to be! I was shocked with the major changes that have been made on campus with a new little city, parking garage, “high rise” apartments over the “downtown” style store fronts. The student body has increased significantly, as well, with over 17,000 students on campus. Despite all the changes and increased foot traffic, the beauty of the campus remains intact. I enjoyed my walk down memory lane and Alexis enjoyed her first exposure to a college campus.
We are so grateful to Lennie and Amy Engman for always opening their home to us and accommodating our never ending crazy schedules!!! We arrived in Westminster Thursday night and took off for Nashua, NH the next morning! Alexis is taking three classes this year through Joshua Tree Educational Services, LLC, which is located in Nashua. All of her classes are on Friday, so she was able to sit in with her classmates and teachers for both Fridays we were in New England. She spent the night and joined us the next day for our annual Meet and Greet Open House at the Engman’s home.
This year’s event was as wonderful as each of the previous ones. We welcomed dozens of friends, supporters and others we were meeting for the first time. We are so grateful for everyone taking time out of their busy schedules to accommodate us!
Sunday we went to the Clifton Lutheran Church in Marblehead, MA. It was wonderful to see our friends who had come to Haiti earlier in the year and to meet so many sweet people from their church. Lex was able to share his testimony and share some words of encouragement. We are grateful to Pastor Dave and the church for their support and donations. We are especially grateful to Nora Walker and her mom, Sarah, for their commitment to collecting school supplies and spreading the word about our work in Haiti.
After church, we drove from Eastern Massachusetts to Pittsfield, in the West for a special event. Mark Stuart and Will McGinnis had invited us to attend an Audio Adrenaline concert. We’ve been working with them (via the Hands and Feet Project) for years and it was fun to see Will at “work.” I’ll tell you what, they have some neat songs on their new album “Kings and Queens.”
We had many meetings throughout the week with different pastors, entrepreneurs, staff/board members and friends. Some folks who will be coming to Haiti soon, others who have been previously, some supporters and others who are starting to support MOHI. We just love spending time with people who love the Lord and want to be a part of bringing life to others through Him!
We had the privilege of shopping for carpet to put in the library room in Thozin. We decided on a floral print on a moss green background. The carpet should be shipping to Haiti near the end of the month.
Thursday was our shipping day. We did some last minute shopping on Wednesday and early Thursday and then headed to Hyde Park. We brought peanut butter and school supply donations and met Sarah Walker there with the donations from the Clifton Lutheran Church. It was quite late by the time we finished up, but we were grateful that we’d gotten there when we did. The container was close to being full, which meant that it would be shipping out right away.
A few months ago, an old friend from high school, Dr. Cheryl (Vasil) Minor contacted me about bringing a team from her church to serve here at MOHI. While in MA, we were able to join her and her husband at the All Saints Church in Belmont for a fundraising dinner for their trip. It was, of course, so great to see each other and catch up on the past 32 years! We shared with the group about MOHI’s ministry in Haiti. I love how interactive the group was, as they had lots of questions to ask. It was a late night, but thoroughly enjoyable!
Saturday was it. We had to prepare for Sunday church and pack the car for our return to Florida. We finished up early Sunday and were on our way to West Newbury Congregational Church. This is another church that has been a great support to us. Many of the members have been to MOHI, some several times. Lex shared with the congregation and we enjoyed a brief time of fellowship before hitting the road.
On our way out of town, we stopped at Paul Fallon’s home to drop off a couple of suitcases. Paul arrived in Haiti with them last night, so that was a great blessing for us!
From Virginia to Jacksonville, FL our car started to act up. We were grateful to arrive safely in Jacksonville where our friends Peter and Esther Plastridge graciously received us. John Armour (who oversaw the construction of our new school’s foundation and also created the amazing water purification system we use here!) and his son Austin spent the better part of the day with Lex, trying to fix the car. In the end, we had to go to plan B. John let us take his van to get to the airport in Ft. Lauderdale, while he and Peter made arrangements for the car to be fixed.
Since the car, which will be shipped to Haiti soon, stayed in Jacksonville, Peter and Esther decided it was a good idea to fill it with items we need. Along with their church family, they will pack the car before driving it to West Palm Beach, where Ticker will take it to the port in Miami. In the meantime, we have a hefty bill to pay for the car repairs. As always, we know that God will continue to provide!
We made it to Ft. Lauderdale Wednesday night at 9:30 and left for the airport at 4:30 Thursday morning. We had a good flight and are happy to be “home” again.
Honestly, Lex has always been the true visionary in this venture called “Mission of Hope International.” I have always been very content in supporting his vision – and sometimes he has had to “drag” me along, as it was more than I could comprehend. This year, however, it seems the Lord has been expanding my vision personally, by leaps and bounds. This vision is still in support of Lex’s vision, but is just more detail focused.
The first area that I started to get “lit” about, was bringing computer technology to our students. Child in Hand has brought XO laptops (via One Laptop Per Child) to our students. I am excited for our kids to not only learn how to operate a computer, but also to learn to express their creativity. Drawing, writing, reporting, blogging, school newspaper… The ideas are flying around and they’re all a thrill to me!
Personally, I love a good book. I like that I can travel the universe from where ever I am. My imagination is much more incredible than even the latest technologies for film-making. I grew up with a library in my school, in my neighborhood and at the neighboring university. There was never a shortage of books. That’s not the case in Haiti. Haitian schools stress reading text books and learning by repetition. Here it’s highly unusual for someone to have a novel, biography or piece of classic literature at their disposal to read.
When Paul Fallon designed the new school building for us, we asked him to include a library room. Recently I’ve been getting all worked up about the prospect of our kids having access to books on a regular basis. When our friends from Kids Against Hunger were here a couple of months ago, we started dreaming of a beautiful, inviting room for children to come to and read.
Tammy Groder, who loves books even more than I do, is cataloging all the books that we have. Melissa Lee is preparing the interior design of the library room. Brian Gosselin will be leading the construction crew coming in February to execute that plan. I am sooooo excited!
Books for Haiti is also donating 40 Kindles to MOHI, which will expand our library without taking up too much space. How cool is that?!!!
During our time in Fort Myers, Bob and Sally took us to ECHO. This was an incredible experience for me. They grow all kinds of plants that grow in Haiti. They are an information resource for all sorts of things like farming talapia, providing seeds and education about how best to grow them to, my favorite, a unique method of producing cooking fuel.
So, let me tell you about the cooking fuel. Goats are very popular in Haiti. Goats, like all animals produce manure. It was explained to me on this tour, that one can make a giant “tea bag” out of goat manure, put it in a 55-gallon drum, fill the drum with 30 gallons of water, seal the drum, install a gas line on the drum that leads to a tire tube, install a second gas line from the tube to a burner and voila! How? The manure will begin to break down, creating methane gas. The gas goes through the line to the tube, which begins to inflate with the gas. The gas is then used as cooking fuel and there is no need to cut down trees or spend money on propane. How amazing is that?!!!
At another area we saw sugar cane growing. There was a chicken wire fence going down the center of the field. We saw that on one side there was a lot of undergrowth. On the other side there was virtually none. Why? Because there were free roaming chickens on one side. The chickens kept the undergrowth under control, aerated and fertilized the soil at the same time. (It also keeps the chickens from hopping up on the dinner table, like they used to do at our place years ago!)
Our tour guide shared a story about sharing rice planting techniques with farmers in a particular country. The farmers were really not interested in listening, as they had been planting rice a particular way for generations. One farmer, however, asked for help. He followed the “new and improved” planting method. When the harvest arrived, he reaped 100% more than the other farmers. The next season, all the farmers asked the one to help them to use the new method.
My prayer is that the Lord would send someone to work with us here at MOHI who would utilize some of these awesome ideas from ECHO. I have every confidence that once the results are seen, people will want to follow.
Finally, for those of you who have made it this far, you may enjoy seeing these pictures from our family vacation. Thanks for reading and I hope to be back on my weekly writing schedule once again. Thank you!
Friends from Kids Against Hunger Global
Starting the painting day with prayer
Taking a break from painting
What a special time we had this week with our friends from Kids Against Hunger Global (Tulsa, OK). Marshall & Sherry Horn, Dr. Gary & Melissa Lee, Jillian Lee and Brian Gosselin jumped right into the fun.
The team started out on Monday, working on painting the house that KAH had paid to have built for Mireille and her family. There was quite a bit of shopping for furniture and household supplies. Brian and Dr. Lee built bunk beds and a cool shelving unit for the house, too.
Building the bunk beds…
We were blessed to have Dr. Lee working in the clinic with Leah for a few days. He did a second operation on Alexis’ toe, brought some new medicine for Fritzon (our patient with the ulcers on his ankles) and helped out many others. Leah’s Friday was the best ever, when they removed Fritzon’s dressings to find remarkable improvement.
Dr Gary Lee joined us for clinics
Tuesday the team had the opportunity to do some hot feedings. One at Pastor Enoch’s orphanage, here in Grand-Goâve and a second one at our St Etienne campus. They also had the opportunity to give some items away in St Etienne, which is always a blessing.
Wednesday all the Americans (except for A. Jay and me) took the boat to the big island, la Gonave. Lex had brought medicines and food out the day before in preparation for this visit. Over 50 people were helped by Dr. Lee, Leah, Alexis, Tammy, Jillian, Melissa and Jackie. In the isolated, fishing village of Aux Pacque, simple ibuprofen can mean a world of difference. Hundreds of packaged meals, donated by KAH, were distributed to the people, along with toys and candy for the kids. The team presented the local soccer club with new soccer balls, pumps and needles. Talk about being excited! The soccer players were very grateful for the gifts.
Thursday we all (except Tammy) went to visit an orphanage in Archaie that our friends Bob and Sally Heier introduced us to. We brought cases of KAH food with us to leave with them. The twenty children there are being raised by an older man we all call Papa, his wife, their sons and their staff. I love the atmosphere there. The kids are all very respectful and just beautiful (and great singers!). They are really doing a nice job with them and we are so glad to be able to bring assistance to them, as the Lord provides.
Friday was a day to reconnect with the kids in Thozin, to finish up the shelves and shopping for the house. By Saturday morning at 9, the curtains were hung, the furniture in place, the beds made, new clothes laid out, toys placed in toy bins and special gifts were in their places in the house. We presented the new home to Mireille and her children. There were many tears of joy (both American and Haitian!) during Marshall’s prayer and the exhorations that followed.
A sweet home!
The team left for the airport at 10:30 Saturday morning, but not without a hitch. That being, Kendy. Kendy is the one the Lord used to help rescue close to one hundred children from a bad situation where they were living. He’s the one that we all fell in love with and couldn’t turn our backs on. Sherry was especially determined to make sure of that. Kendy has been waiting about 5 years for Sherry to come back to Haiti. He was soooo excited to see her again. Even though he was only 4 when he met her, he never forgot her. Even Alexis and A. Jay, who are virtually never fooled by our little actors in the school, were moved by the love Kendy obviously has for Sherry. Now, as the goodbyes were being said, Kendy said goodbye to Sherry and walked away. After a bit someone said, “Hey, Kendy, what’s the matter?” He was sitting on a bench in the corner of the church, all alone, sobbing. Kendy tried hard to “suck it up and be a man” but it was hard – especially as the rest of us started to tear up!
Parting is such sweet sorrow…
Kendy is fine. Once the team left, he started planning his family’s move. His mom had planned to move in on Sunday, but Kendy (in all of his 9 years of wisdom) would hear nothing of it. Mireille finally gave in and they all carried their personal items up the mountain to their new home. I wondered if they would make it to church this morning. I was pleasantly surprised to see all of them nicely cleaned up, wearing nice clothes (and their new sunglasses) and their big smiles in church this morning. They had a wonderful first night in their beautiful new home, thanks to Jesus and their friends from Tulsa.
Can you feel the love?
I’m so excited about developments for our school library. On the electronic side of things, we have XO laptops from Child in Hand that our kids have been learning to use. Books for Haiti has procured donations for 40 Kindles, which can be used in the library and classroom alike. We have about one thousand books in French and English that are being cataloged for placement in the library. Melissa Lee, from Tulsa, has decided to make this library project her own. Now, if you know Melissa, you already have an idea of how exciting this is to me. Melissa makes everything she touches beautiful. She will be collecting books, as well as deciding on all the interior finishes for the library. We are hoping that Brian Gosselin will be returning this winter with a team to execute the plan in Melissa’s mind.
Here’s what Melissa had to say about it on her Facebook wall…
“I absolutely love to see the progress that is being made in Haiti since our first visit in 2008, through Mission of Hope International! However, we have so much more to do! We will continue sending food, of course! For now, our next immediate project is to complete the LIBRARY in the MOHI School!! Details to follow! Thank you to all our friends and family for your prayers, we appreciate you so much! Sherry Latham Horn and Marshall, Renee Rosen Edme and Lex Edme we cant imagine better people to link arms with!”
So few students have access to any books, beyond text books. I love reading books and find it so sad that these kids don’t know the joy of curling up with a good book. Well, Praise God! That’s about to change! Not only will they have access to books, but they will also have a comfortable room, conducive to going on an adventure (in their minds), as they read about far away places.
Now that Tammy Groder is here full time, she is ready to facilitate the creation of this library. She will be working with Melissa on the US side and our staff here in Haiti. She will have the opportunity to train our librarian(s), making this project happen. I just love how the Lord brings the right people together to join hand in hand to see dreams turn into realities.
This weekend we welcomed a team from One Laptop Per Child. They are working on setting up electricity for the library/computer lab and bringing Internet in a Box to our students. This will thrill our students, who will begin working with it this week. They intend to work with the kids on film making, too. Yay! We also welcomed some new friends from Missouri, Patricia Penberth, her son Stephen and their friend Allie Perry. Tricia is an RN and will be helping Leah in the clinic. Allie and Stephen will be doing various things, mostly helping prepare for the opening of school.
Today is a triple church service day. We started out with our morning service in Thozin and then went up into the mountains of St Etienne to join them for their final day of conference. It was a long service with LOTS of music. There were many churches represented and we were so blessed to see the great turnout there. This evening we will come together again at the church in Thozin for an English/Kreyol communion service.
Conference at the MOHI church in St Etienne
Our family will be heading back to America in less than a week. While I am so looking forward to having a break from what is the “norm” here and seeing so many friends in the States, it is also a time of more stress than normal, as I attempt to complete more tasks than time is likely to permit. If you think of me at all this week, please pray. I know that I can do all things through Christ. I also know that what I need to do is impossible without Him. I’m so grateful for His presence in my life this week – and always. Hope to see you soon!
I’m just bubbling over with Joy today! I’m so grateful to the Lord for putting so many wonderful people into my life and for making my life such a wonderful adventure.
My family (Lex, Alexis and A. Jay) are just my favorite people in the world – and I get to LIVE with them!!! (Bob and Sally just had to be in the pictures, too!)
Some of our best friends from Massachusetts, Kevin and Tammy Groder (along with Indy – the dog!) arrived in Grand-Goâve on Thursday. They have disposed of most of their earthly goods and come to Haiti to serve God and the Haitian people. Yay!!! They come with soooooo much to offer! I’m so excited about what is in store!
Kevin and Tammy Groder and friends at MOHI
We have 4 kittens. Indy may think they are appetizers?
Our dear friends from Kids Against Hunger Global (Tulsa) arrived yesterday! Marshall and Sherry Horn, Dr. Gary and Melissa Lee and their daughter Jillian, along with Brian Gosselin will be spending a week with us at MOHI. KAH, along with the Hands and Feet Project were very instrumental in helping us to rescue kids from a bad institutional care situation. Over 80 children were removed from the facility. Thirty-one of them are now thriving at the Hands and Feet Project here in Grand-Goâve.
These folks sent another container of KAH food to MOHI recently!
Sherry is Kendy’s best friend…he’s in LOVE!
Miklène told Brian, “I’m your friend and you’re my friend.”
Dr. Gary Lee was eager to begin unpacking…
Leah has been a God-send. She is so passionate about providing the very best health care possible for the poorest of the poor. She spends most afternoons researching issues she’s found with her patients. Every day she dresses Fritzon’s open ulcers. Here’s her update on Fritzon…
Last week I wrote about Fritzon, our 24 year old patient with the chronic leg ulcers. We were in the processing of trying to set up surgery for him, on the recommendation of a doctor in Port Au Prince. This week, I worked with an American doctor in the clinic, and consulted with a couple of other American doctors who are familiar with the situation. After talking with them, and running some test results through Google translate we have come to the decision that surgery is not necessary at this time.
For now, we are proceeding with daily dressing changes, and pressure bandages to decrease the swelling in his lower legs. Please be in prayer for Fritzon as we are almost literally pouring salt on open wounds to get rid of the infected tissue. Yes, it is as painful as it sounds. Also, please join with me in prayer for wisdom and discernment with this man, so that he can get the care he needs. Thank you.
This past week, the Hands and Feet Project here in Grand-Goâve, was kind enough to share Dr. Sotiere and his wife, Susan with us. They and Leah made a great team, with Alexis, A. Jay and Jackie supporting them.
This morning Marshall ministered in song (He Touched Me was a big hit with folks here!) This is Marshall and Sherry’s third trip to MOHI in Haiti. We are blessed each time by his anointed voice in song.
Marshall Horn singing “He Touched Me”
Dr. Gary Lee ministered from the Word of God. He read from the books of Titus and Ephesians, encouraging us all to continue doing good works, but also to expand upon them. Feeding the hungry, caring for widows, visiting the prisoner…these are all good works that Jesus talks about. We also are to do everything as though we were doing it directly to honor Christ. Even employees should do their very best work, whether they like their boss or not – whether they are feeling energetic or not. Every single thing we do, we should do to bring honor to Him who loved us and gave His life for us.
Pastor Lex translating for Dr. Gary Lee
We’ve given out a bit of clothing this week. Our teachers have received school supplies and personal items, as well.
Stanley sporting some new clothes…
Blessing the teachers…
Our construction and maintenance crew has been working hard, as usual. Junior has had his hands full with electrical issues at the missionary compound. Our generator works great (thanks to The Chapel!) and our inverter works great (thanks to Travis Knipple!), but we’re having issues going from one to the other. Sonel has been painting shelves and desks. Our farmers have been cleaning up the fields from the watermelon and okra harvest, preparing for whatever is next. All the guys have been trimming the grass, fixing benches, etc.
Speaking of benches, we have had a “bench drive” going on at the Thozin church this month. We’ve always used our school benches for church, but with the new building, the benches will be staying in the classrooms. Each new bench will cost $50. We’ve had several people pledge and/or give money toward the benches. We still need about 30 more. We’re so blessed that some of the church members have given money towards the benches, but we realize that most of them will not be able to come up with $50. If you would like to help, please make an online donation and note “benches” in the memo. Thank you.
Here are some more pictures from this week…
Jackie with a little friend
Dr. Sotiere and Leah removing Marc’s stitches…
Andrew and Lex at the Hands and Feet Project’s Ikondo construction site
Leah and Tammy enjoying a moment with the Lord…
Estanley at church…
It was just a short nap…
Praying in Sunday School…
How Amazing is this?!!!
Mr. & Mrs. Besse
Congratulations to our friends David and Cassandra Besse who were married yesterday. They first met at Mission of Hope International in 2010. Cassandra was on the first World Race team that we hosted and David was on the first Campus Focus team from The Chapel in Akron. The teams overlapped for about a week. Apparently that was long enough for them to make an impression on each other.
Last year David and Cassandra returned to Haiti together. I remember different people commenting to me about their behavior. It was known that they were “an item” and yet they treated each other as brother and sister, with much self control. They both worked hard that week, helping with school construction and before they left David popped the question. He proposed to Cassandra on the beach in front of the missionary compound, getting down on one knee and presenting a ring to her. She accepted and there was much laughter and some happy tears.
Although we couldn’t be with David and Cassandra for their special day, they were on my mind all day. I am so happy for them and pray God’s blessings accompany them every day of their lives as one.
From 2010 to yesterday – David & Cassandra Besse
Our patient’s mom’s gratitude this week: “Madame Lex, thank you. Thank you soooo much!”
Leah and Ricardo have been running back and forth to Port-au-Prince all week. Our little 4 year old congenital glaucoma patient received surgery on Wednesday. Locating medicine for him has been a nightmare.
Fritzon, the young man with horrible ulcers on his ankles was seen by a doctor this week. He then had a test done to check his circulation. It was VERY poor. He will need to have an operation where they remove veins in his thighs and implant them into his ankles. This will also require skin grafts and special dressings, so he will be returning to Port-au-Prince weekly for some time. The surgery alone will cost almost $600. By the time medicines, dressings, and everything else is done, we expect it to cost about $1,000.
Please join us in covering both of these patients with prayer. They are both so precious to us.
Under and Over the Sea…
Our family loves the ocean. Alexis and A. Jay basically grew up in it. It is full of life, beauty, a bit of danger and abundant blessing.
God has blessed MOHI with several boats. Our first boat was from a tree we needed to cut down at the missionary compound. We had it carved into a dugout canoe, called a “bwawon.” The compound caretaker (aka Feyo or Felix) would use it to go out fishing and occasionally we’d get a fish out of the deal. Before too long it transitioned into a neighborhood canoe and we were fine with that. We currently have a small Haitian sailboat, a tiny, bright yellow boat (that shouldn’t have more than 3 people on it), a 19′ motor boat and a 25′ motor boat. Both motor boats were donations. The 19′ boat was given to us by a Haitian-American doctor who has a home down the beach from us. He was so impressed with the work at MOHI that when we asked to rent the boat, he decided to give it to us, instead. The 25′ boat was donated by a couple in Massachusetts.
The smaller boats enable us to set out and regularly check fish traps. This week we had an amazing catch of 68 fish in one trap! We used a few of them to feed the missionaries here, but most of them were given away. We believe in the law of sowing and reaping, so we are expecting a great harvest of fish – on every wave!
Sixty-eight fish in one trap!
The motor boats are used for ministry trips and touring the area with visitors.
MOHI’s 25′ motor boat
The island of la Gonave is located across the bay from Port-au-Prince
The village of Aux Paque
Grand-Goâve is located across the southern canal from the island of la Gonave. We sometimes visit an isolated village along the coast, called Aux Paque. Our missionary friend, Fred Locket, built a small school and church there about 15 years ago. We have brought food, clothing, toys and school supplies to them. The village is very difficult to access by land, as it is surrounded on three sides with very steep mountains. The fourth side is ocean. The back side of the village is often flooded, so the houses are mostly located on a small strip of land. Many buildings were also destroyed there during the earthquake.
Thursday Lex, Alexis and several of our church leaders went to the MOHI church in the tiny, mountain village of Maleguy, La Gonave. This is also where Lex was born and raised, which made it an extra exciting adventure for Alexis. They landed and docked at a little pier in Trois a l’Eau and hiked up to the Maleguy. (You will likely never find Maleguy on a map, but it’s right in the area marked “Nouvelte Cite” on the map below.)
Anse-a-Galet is the biggest city in La Gonave.
The hike lasted about 2 hours and was up very rough and steep terrain. They had a donkey help to carry their supplies. When they finally arrived on a plateau, Alexis took a little ride on the donkey.
Thursday night Lex preached at the MOHI church in Maleguy. Friday they toured the city of Anse-a-Galet, appreciating all the new construction and businesses.
I asked Alexis what she thought it would be like to grow up in Maleguy. Her response? “HARD!” The hike from Maleguy to the city of Anse-à-Galet (main area for commerce) is grueling and there are no bathrooms. Nevertheless, she loved the experience. She will likely not agree to being left behind on the next trip.
School Opening Sep 2
We continue to prepare the new school for opening day. Pastor Edon’s office, in the radio studio, is being finished. Painting is in full swing again. The school administrator, director and Lex had a great meeting with our teaching staff. They are eager to get started. We are planning to have a ribbon cutting ceremony on September 2nd with all our students and staff.
Hanging curtains in the supply room
Pastor Edon’s “radio station” office
Touch up paintiing
Groders En route
Kevin & Tammy Groder
Pastor Kevin, Tammy and their dog Indy have arrived in Alabama – on their way to Haiti. They are scheduled to arrive on Thursday.
We will have a couple of weeks with the Groders before our family heads to the States for our road trip. Please remember, if you are in the vicinity of one of our stops to come by and see us. We will be in Fort Meyers, Charlotte, Nashville, Akron, Manchester (CT), All around MA, Washington DC and Jacksonville.
Church in Thozin
Here are some pictures of some of the folks at church this morning…
Michelle’s always making new friends…
Jackie and Leah
Pastor Lex praying
Our awesome band
We were so blessed by the team from the Full Gospel Interdenominational Church this week. They accomplished their goal of building shelves and desks, organizing donations and training Marie Ange and Renord so that they know how to stay organized. In addition to this, they were able to encourage the church in Thozin and distribute clothing and toys to our neighbors in St. Etienne.
Building and organizing
Time to paint!
Time to move into the supply room at the new school!
Volunteers from the Full Gospel Interdenominational Church and MOHI staff worked great together!
An encouraging word at the English Service in Thozin
Visiting our neighbors in the St Etienne mountains
A special and very happy moment for this little girl
The school building continues to near completion with the installation of the remaining railings, first floor windows and doors. It’s always amazing to me how much nicer things look when another step is completed. Speaking of steps, by the way, the masons put the finish coat of concrete on the steps this week. Looks pretty sharp to me!
Doors and windows are being painted…
Nice, smooth, crisp finish coat on the stairs…
Leah’s first week with us has been incredible! (At least from OUR perspective – hopefully she agrees.) She jumped right into holding medical clinic on Monday. She was able to help several people with ongoing problems to find some relief. She was only able to hold clinic for two days, as she had a special assignment which involved bringing two patients to a hospital in Port-au-Prince. One is a young man in his twenties who has been suffering with ulcers on both his ankles. They just appeared one day about FOUR years ago. The other is a four year old boy with glaucoma. After several tests and visits to the hospital, he is now scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday morning.
Leah conducts medical clinic, with assistance from Alexis and Jackie
We are grateful to Bless Back Worldwide (Charlotte, NC) for their support in pursuing resolutions for both of these patients. Medical care for the poor has always be a part of the MOHI vision, but for years we weren’t able to do much with it. Over time, however, the Lord connected us with medical professionals and organizations that have the capacity to bring health care to our neighbors. Even when the problem is bigger than they can do anything about during a one week trip, BBW has done the ground work to make these hospital visits and surgeries possible. They are currently raising funds to cover the costs. If you would like to help, please visit our donation page. Thank you.
Lex preached at the church in St. Etienne this morning. Those of you who have visited this campus would agree with this: Where do all these people COME from??? When you go through the area you see mountains all around and a few houses. Certainly there are not enough people living in those houses to fill the church. Yet every Sunday morning people are there. Many of their homes are tucked away under trees in the surrounding mountains – or in the mountains beyond those mountains.
Church in St. Etienne
Church in St. Etienne
Our computer club kids got a great boost last week, thanks to Sora and James’ help. The kids are so excited about all they can discover and create on these laptops. Read Tracy Stalls’ blog “Touched by the Sun” to hear some more about this program. Tracy played for the US olympic volley ball and now represents Child in Hand. We are so grateful to Child in Hand for bringing this program to MOHI.
Great fun exploring and creating
Did I mention that Saphira had kittens? They’re just now venturing out of their box. Soooo cute! These are the great grandchildren of our first cat, Beauty. Our missionary friends (and almost-family) Scott and Tanya Long, along with their children Taran, Morgan and Tia, gave Beauty to us almost 13 years ago. We have found that all of Beauty’s offspring are great hunters, just like she was. Forget the mouse/rat traps, we have the best weapon ever. Looking forward to these four growing into mighty hunters, too.
What a wonderful day today was – the whole week, really. Despite LOTS of drama, seemingly on every front, the peace of God truly ruled in our lives this week. I LOVE it!!!
Last Saturday I sent the bus to Port-au-Prince to pick up a group that was coming in on Tuesday. RENEE!!!!! Well, at least it wasn’t the opposite and they were waiting for us. Right? What can I say? I was eager to see our friends from Manchester, CT.
L to R: Renee, Kim, Rob, Rev. Lautenbach, Adrienne, Pastor Lex
Full Gospel Interdenominational Church
I grew up in Mansfield (maybe 1/2 hour away from Manchester). My mom and I would go to Manchester every couple of months for our “big” shopping trips. Not only did they have downtown shopping, but they had the Manchester Parkade, which was all that in its day. Uncle Max, Aunt Belle, Chuck and Spin also lived in Manchester and it was a big deal to get to see them, too. Although I haven’t lived in CT for decades now, there’s one thing (and probably ONLY one thing) that I remember from Main Street, Manchester. There was a sign in the shape of a cross with “Jesus Saves” written on it. Growing up Jewish, I didn’t have a whole lot of understanding of Christianity, so I always found that sign intriguing. I’d heard that Jesus was born on Christmas, had been killed by the Romans (as my mother pointed out when I was upset that my classmates told me the Jews had killed him) and that something weird happened on Easter – what it had to do with bunnies and eggs I still don’t understand. So, a sign that read “Jesus Saves” just made no sense to me.
Rev. Eleanor Kalinsky
Now, decades later, some of our best friends and supporters in CT are from that “Jesus Saves” location – the Full Gospel Interdenominational Church. We absolutely love the Pastor, Rev. Kalinsky, her staff, the youth, the older folks, the babies…the WHOLE lot of them are such a wonderful family! I have learned so much from their words, but especially from their actions. They are a very disciplined and well organized ministry, yet their love for one another, their neighbors, the world and especially for the poor is so tangible and obvious.
They are a church that works, seemingly nonstop, at serving all people everywhere. I LOVE that they love the people of Haiti and have partnered with us for many years. Rev. Kalinsky sent us some of her best, this week. Rev. Jon & Adrienne Lautenbach and Rob & Kim Camire have been building shelves and organizing school supplies and other donations.
This morning, Rev. Lautenbach had the most encouraging message for the church in Thozin. He read from Mark 6:45-51 and talked about the difference it makes when you invite Jesus into your boat. He gave several physical examples…
- He told a dead branch to produce fruit. Of course a branch has to be connected to the tree in order to do that (we can’t produce fruit on our own without being connected to Jesus).
- He took his shoes off and told them to walk. We can’t be empty (without God) and go anywhere.
- My favorite example was the empty water bottle. When he put it down in front of the fan, it was blown over. After that it was fair game for anyone to stomp on. Sometimes we feel like that flattened, empty water bottle. But Jesus can reach down, pick us up and fill us with water. In front of the fan, the full bottle was not affected by the wind, no matter how close he put it. When he picked it up, threw it on the ground, and stomped on it, it wasn’t affected. This is reflective of how our lives are transformed when we invite Jesus to be in us and with us every day and in every situation.
Invite Jesus to fill your bottle
Lots of encouragement was given this morning
Besides shelving going up, the widow grills and doors are being installed right now. They look nice, will help keep the painted walls cleaner (kids keep climbing in and out of the windows!) and they will secure the first floor so that we can begin moving supplies into the building. We are now preparing for school to open next month (Sep 2) in the new school building. Yay!!!
Window grills are being installed
We had a great week with Sora and James, volunteers from One Laptop Per Child. They taught the kids how to play music on their laptops, how to set up a blog and they began to learn about reporting. We’re so grateful for people who are willing to invest in these kids.
James, Sora and Junior working with our students
Leah Fuller arrived yesterday, in high gear. She went straight from the airport to the clinic. Bless Back Worldwide made arrangements with some doctors in Port-au-Prince to see a couple of our patients. I spent some time catching Leah up on their situations. She will be accompanying them to Port-au-Prince a couple of times this week. She’s looking forward to hearing what the doctors think and being able to ask questions, so she knows how to follow up with them. I’m glad Leah’s so eager, because she definitely has her work cut out for her this week.
Gama, Angela and Nathan
Angela was able to hold two days of clinic before heading to America.
Gama, Angela and Nathan arrived back in Massachusetts safely. We miss them, but are so glad that they have a couple of weeks off to enjoy time together as a family. Jackie has kept busy entering data into the electronic medical records. Tomorrow she will start working with Leah.
The Missionary compound (aka Cayes Mirliton) was almost totally destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami in January 2010. By God’s grace (and many generous supporters) we were able to build back better. For the first time ever, Lex and I slept in the new missionary housing. We liked being near by the team that is in and the quietness. Lex enjoyed an early morning swim. I enjoy walking barefoot on the tile floors (I just DON’T walk barefoot anywhere else in Haiti!). We brought our cat, Saphira and her two week old kittens with us, too. We thoroughly believe that we are blessed to be a blessing. It’s so awesome to see the missionary compound busy, not just with teams working with MOHI, but with local missionaries and children from the Hands and Feet Project, volunteers from Mission E4, One Laptop Per Child, Unleashed Kids, F1 Engineering and others. Sundays are officially hot dog and french fries day here. The ocean was full of friends in front of the compound today.
The Ever Enlarging Tapestry
Gama, Angela and Nathan will be heading back to the States next month for a well-deserved break. I was really concerned about Angela being gone for an extended time, knowing how much her absence would be felt by the hundreds served in the clinic each month. I put the word out to some different organizations and medical professionals that we needed someone to cover for Angela, but had not received any response. It became a point of prayer, “Lord. I don’t want to see the clinic shut down! I believe this ministry is YOUR will and, as such I know that YOU have a plan come this August! Thank You for Your guidance and for providing for every need.”
Leah Fuller and a few friends
Little did I know that Leah Fuller was praying, too. Leah was coming to the end of a 6 month term of service with our good friend and fellow missionary, Ed Locket at the “Happy House” in the neighboring city of Petit-Goâve. She was seeking direction, as she was certain she would be returning to Haiti soon. Ed stopped by MOHI with a small group, just a few days before Leah would be heading home. While he and Lex sat down to talk inside, Leah and another nurse sat in the yard. I suggested that they go up to the clinic to chat with Angela. When they were done with Angela, Leah approached me about coming to serve at MOHI. Everything fell into place quickly, including Ed’s blessing for her to come to us.
Don’t you love seeing such a clear answer to prayer? None of us knew what God’s provision was, but we knew He had one. A couple more threads were woven into this beautiful tapestry of His! Oh, and here’s the bonus (another thread, too!), Jackie Scarello…
Jackie and Alexis
Jackie will be spending another month and a half with us this summer. She is training with Angela for a few days on our Electronic Medical Record system, so that she fully understands it and is able to teach others. The timing is perfect for everyone involved. Jackie particularly enjoyed working in the clinic when she was here earlier this summer. Now she will be an integral part of that ministry for the next month.
My family will be heading to the States in September. Again, God’s provision is always just right. Kevin and Tammy Groder (a couple more brilliant and vibrant threads in the tapestry!) will be making their move to Haiti in just a couple of weeks. This allows a couple of weeks for them to transition into their place here before we leave. It also enables Leah to be able to stay after we’re gone, as we would not have left a young woman here without a strong authority figure present. Now we can leave, knowing that long-term missionaries are still at work here in our absence.
Pastor Kevin & Tammy Groder after a swim at Cayes Mirliton
In case you’re wondering about Kevin and Tammy, they are officially “homeless” for the next couple of weeks. They closed on their house a few days ago and are now preparing the internet connections (and all the other things they do) for SoulFest this week. Very soon they will be calling Cayes Mirliton (our missionary compound) their home. Yay!
It has been quite a while since we’ve been “teamless” at MOHI. Lex and I both had lots of work to catch up on, so we are grateful for the extra time we had available this week. My work is pretty unexciting – bookkeeping, responding to emails, bookkeeping, staff meetings, bookkeeping, responding to emails, setting up team schedules, bookkeeping, updating the blog, bookkeeping, processing photos, bookkeeping, responding to emails, bookkeeping, dreaming of how to do all the things I’d like to do if only I could wrap up this bookkeeping and catch up on these emails… You get the picture?
Staff and Students painting school benches
Lex, on the other hand, has much more variety in his life. For starters, I’m pretty certain he has a minimum of twelve different meetings on any given days. People, often unknown to him, come looking for help (hunger, medical need, death in the family, clothing need, a dispute that needs a mediator, counseling…) or wanting to sell him something (an animal, land, a vehicle, seafood). He also meets with staff, construction workers, area/foreign ministers, foreign security personnel, local police… The list goes on and on. There are projects that require his presence several times a day, such as building maintenance, construction sites, vehicle repairs, gardens… He helps to match prospective employees and employers in the area. Oh, and then there’s the “prospective” projects that require a zillion planning meetings. They may or may not come through, but his presence is required if we are to even be considered for them. In the midst of it all, there is the need for prayer and study – making sure he is filled to overflowing, so there is plenty to share with others.
Catching up on some maintenance at Cayes Mirliton
This is what our lives look like when we are not interacting with teams. Often times when we go back to the States we see people “wowed” by the title “missionary.” Well, the cat’s out of the bag, now. “Missionary” is not a glorious position where we walk on water every day. It is a rewarding position, where we do what’s necessary to meet the needs of others. You don’t need to live in a mud hut in a foreign country to do the work of a missionary. On the contrary, it’s God’s desire that we do this work where ever He has us.
One week without a team was good for playing catch up. Now, we’re preparing to receive a small team from World Wide Lighthouse Missions (an outreach of the Full Gospel Interdenominational Church in Manchester, CT). Whenever I talk about WWLM or FGIC I tell people, “You’ve never seen a more organized ministry in your life!” They are truly gifted in this area. As such, we requested their help with our donations room in the new school building. Rev. Lautenbach, Adrienne, Rod and Kim will be joining us for ten days of building and organizing. I’m really excited to see how their plan unfolds. In Connecticut, they accept donations of clothing and other goods that can benefit people in need. Their experience will be a great benefit to MOHI as we establish a system for receiving and distributing donations.
We are expecting Sora and James to be joining us this week. They are volunteers with One Laptop Per Child. They will spend four days working with our computer club kids, with the hopes of moving them toward becoming bloggers and investigative reporters. Our hope is to get to the point where our kids will be publishing a school newspaper.
We are pleased to be welcoming John Armour back to Grand-Goâve tomorrow. You may recall that John created an amazing water filtration system that we use here at MOHI. This system utilizes nano-technology, is very low maintenance and filters at high speed. Branches of the Vine donated one of these units to us after the earthquake. The Chapel purchased a second unit for the missionary compound this past Winter. John also worked hand in hand with our Haitian construction crew, laying the foundation for the new school. We couldn’t have built this building without his help, for sure. John is an incredible problem solver. We are rarely short of problems, so he’s sure to keep busy around here.
I’ve been telling you about the mobile medical clinic being prepared for us at the Chapel in Akron. Here’s a sneak preview…
This school bus is being converted into a mobile medical clinic!
No Alter Call
This morning in Thozin we had a lively service and a powerful message. No alter call was given, but the Lord brought people forward anyway. A long time friend of MOHI came to Jesus this morning, along with a very influential business man from the area. Rich or poor, beautiful or homely, Jesus sacrificed His life for ALL. What a joy to see people drawn to Him, determined to lay down their own lives, take up their cross and follow Jesus!
Here are some pictures from this morning’s service:
Pastors Clement and Edon
A Lesson in Colors
Father and Son
Sleeping on Michelle
Mme. St. Fort and a little friend
Mother and Daughter
The end of Tropical Storm Chantal over the MOHI Thozin campus
We’re in the midst of the calm after the storm. It’s been so quiet here at MOHI for the past two days. I almost don’t recognize this place. While I’m very grateful for a little break, I’m looking forward to activities starting up again soon.
This past week we housed a team of 51 for Mission E4 at our missionary compound. The team seemed to have enjoyed their stay. A. Jay went to work with them for a couple of days and got to enjoy a baptism service where both Haitian and American youth made that all-important decision to follow Jesus.
Team from W Newbury Congregational Church
We also worked with a wonderful team from the West Newbury Congregational Church during the week. Long-time MOHI friend, Mindy Rameau, led a tea of twelve to come along side and help with the ministry here. Steve and Wayne built screen doors and shelves for the missionary compound. Doris led a group in children’s ministry. They had their hands full with a bunch of VERY enthusiastic children. Between them and their translators they were able to maintain order, sing, pray, read stories, eat and do lots of hands on projects. Although I’m sure Doris’ team is resting up from the week still, they all had a grand time – almost as much as the children did. Angela was glad to have help again with Mindy’s nurses and physical therapists arriving on the heels of the Bless Back Worldwide medical team’s visit. They were able to follow up on a couple of surgeries from the week before, as well as seeing many new patients.
We had an enthusiastic week with the computer club, as Junior put in some extra days with them. We are looking forward to getting some projects going with them soon, as Sora and James (I understand they are INCREDIBLE young volunteers from One Laptop per Child!) will be spending a week working with the club to create projects that can be shared in a blog. I dream of these computer club kids one day developing a school newspaper!
We’re having trouble sitting. Our chairs and benches get a LOT of use! We are currently working on reupholstering a few dozen chairs. We’ve put a request before the church, asking each member to donate a bench. We will be repairing/painting our school benches and putting them into the new classrooms, as we prepare for the new school year opening in September.
Recovering our chairs
I think Nathan’s trying to tell us something!
This week we enjoyed some help from our Sri Lankan friends, serving with MINUSTAH in our area. They brought a back hoe out to our St Etienne campus and excavated some of the mountain to give us more space in front of the school. Their help was greatly appreciated.
Times of Refreshing
Our dear friends Pastor and Madame Ignais have been such a blessing to us since MOHI started working in Haiti over 13 years ago. We have a “give and take” relationship with them. If we are working in les Cayes, you KNOW we are staying at their guest house. They have been a rich source of counsel to us and they have sought out our advice, as well. This week, Franchette (aka Madame Ignais) brought a women’s association to Grand-Goâve, blessing our church with teaching on marriage and a wonderful time of worship.
Pastor Ignais & Franchette Augustin
Pastor Kevin ministered in the Word of God in Thozin this morning and this evening. As you can see in these pictures, if you’re very observant, he was relating the story of David slaying Goliath.
Goliath way soooo tall…David only needed one of the five stones…Goliath was laughing so hard at this little boy named David…David slayed Goliath with one little stone
We had a beautiful time of worship this morning at the church in Thozin.
The Big Move
We are so grateful for Kevin’s presence here at MOHI for almost a month now. Thank you, Tammy, for your sacrifice!!! Kevin heads back to Massachusetts on Tuesday to be reunited with Tammy, close on their house (Yay!!!), spend a week working at Soulfest and finishing up preparations for moving to Haiti. By the middle of next month, we are expecting Kevin and Tammy to be here in Haiti with us full time! Room number 1 is now theirs (Sorry Drex and Jo, but we’ll have another one ready for you in a heartbeat, should you come back for a visit!). The Groders have so much to offer. We’re going to have to make a conscious effort not to over work them upon their arrival! Please remember them in prayer over the next few weeks. There will plenty of opportunity for stress to lay hold, but let’s pray for a smooth and easy transition for them.
The first round of “moving” barrels arrived yesterday. I’d say they included the Groder tool shed. Woo Hoo!!!