One of the (many!) things I love about our work here is that we get to meet so many people and make new friends regularly. So often here, I am reminded of a song I learned way back in kindergarten! The lyrics are, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” I thank the Lord for every gold nugget and piece of silver he has given us. Each of these friends is so precious.
This week we had LOTS of visits from many friends. Rick Scott and Ted Bronson returned for another visit yesterday. Among other things, they will be working on laying the carpet in the library/media center rooms.
Friends from the Hands and Feet Project with Mark Stuart, Rick Scott, Ted Bronson, Travis & Jamie Knipple and Jamie’s parents – what a great day!!!
Pastor Kevin and Tammy hosted a team of high school students from Nashua Christian Academy, which was led by their eldest son, Micah. We all enjoyed seeing Micah again. His last trip to Haiti was about 8 years, when Gama and Angela Parayson were married. Micah was Gama’s best man.
Gama and Micah
The team was involved in a variety of activities. Besides seeing the different campuses and projects that MOHI is involved with, they worked with the preschool classes, did village ministry and food distributions, visited orphanages, trained our students how to use our Kindle Readers, sang and played instruments in church services, and distributed soap and dental care kits. They also were matched up, one on one, with some of our high school students. Together they visited the open market, went to classes and enjoyed a beach day. It was really a great week for everyone involved!
Village ministry and food distribution
Working with the preschoolers
Nashua Christian Academy and MOHI students hit it off well.
Learning to use a Kindle Reader
A little sugar cane from the open market
Can you say ROBOTICS?!!!
Team from Nashua Christian Academy in the classroom at MOHI
Paul Berube, the pastor of Grace Fellowship of Nashua (NH) and chancellor of NCA, joined the team Sunday night. It has been many years since Pastor Paul has been with us in Haiti, so we were so pleased to have him back. It was a special time for Pastor Kevin and Tammy to host their pastor here, too.
Pastor Kevin enjoyed spending time with his pastor, Paul Berube, from Nashua NH
Sunday night in Thozin
When the team from NCA headed out on Friday, Pastor Kevin and Tammy’s other two children, Hannah and Ben, arrived to visit. I don’t know as that I’ve seen Tammy quite so happy as she is right now. As a matter of fact, the entire family seems quite jovial!
A Happy Groder Family!
It was a busy time for Leah in the clinic this week. Bob and Sally helped out on Monday, before they made their way home on Tuesday. There were so many people at the mobile clinic on Wednesday that Leah went back on Thursday to finish up.
We have been blessed with many friends in the Sri Lankan army, which serves in the UN forces in the Grand-Goâve area and beyond. They rotate out every six months and new troops come in to take over. Because of the great favor we have found with these men, each time a new contingent arrives in Haiti, the commander contacts us and comes to see what we’re doing. Often times, we share a meal together and talk about Sri Lanka, as well as the security situation here in Haiti. This week, the new contingent commander Col. Harendra, logistics commander Col. Jagath and Cpt. Nipuna stopped by to introduce themselves. Lex always enjoys telling the new commanders about the time he spent in Sri Lanka and figuring out what mutual friends they have.
The changing of the guard
Details on the school and clinic rooms are taking much longer than anticipated, however, progress is happening and things are shaping up very well.
Micah preached at the church in Thozin this morning. It was a very encouraging message about telling our story. Each one of us has a story of what the Lord has done for us. It’s different than anyone else’s, so we really need to make sure we tell it.
Micah preaching with Cledson interpreting
Church this morning in Thozin
There are abundant signs that heading toward the end of the school year. Our kindergarten students have songs, poems, dances and speeches that they are working on for their graduation into first grade. The 6th grade class is preparing for graduation AND their first national exam. It’s a stressful time for them. Our 9th grade classes and seniors (split into two years in Haiti) are also preparing for national exams. 2nd year seniors also have preparations for graduation.
The 6th graders are preparing to graduate into high school.
We are grateful for rain in our area. Northern Haiti has been suffering from a terrible drought, but here in the south, we have had pretty regular rainfall overnight. You can tell by this picture that our crops are appreciating it! When the harvest comes, there will be lots of smiles and wet chins!
watermelon and corn are growing in our garden
We so appreciate all the prayers and financial support from our friends and partners. Thank you! Please continue lifting all of us here at MOHI in Haiti up in prayer. Pray for our students to do well on their exams. Pray for our missionaries that we find the strength and encouragement that we need from the Lord to continue working and walking in His joy daily. Pray for all of our supporters, that the Lord would continue to bless them and supply for their every need. Pray for wisdom for all of the leaders here at MOHI. And remember, we are praying for you, as well.
“…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 3:13b-14 NASB)
Our lives consists of putting one foot in front of the other. Achieving our goals seems like an impossibility DAILY – and yet, we continue to move forward. We don’t pay attention to the negative thoughts that come, or the faith stealing words that we hear. Our eyes are fixed heavenward! If it were up to Lex or Renee, MOHI would never have made it out of the first year. But here we are! Fourteen years have come and gone. We’re still here. We’re still putting one foot in front of the other. We are pressing on, knowing that our God has called us to represent Him to our friends, neighbors, families and even those who would consider us their enemies. We are pressing forward and that route heavenward is paved with souls that need a touch from God. Lord, let us be YOUR vessels, ready to be used by our Master!
This week at MOHI…
After such a busy time last week with the team from Bless Back Worldwide, it was nice to have a few days at a slower pace before the next team’s arrival. We were able to continue with the cabinet building, plumbing and electrical work. Leah still had a full week of clinic, with some assistance from Tammy and also Bert from BLB.
Bert came down the hill from Be Like Brit to help out in the clinic.
Bob and Sally Heier arrived on Wednesday and went right to work. Sally was able to join Leah in St Etienne, using the mobile medical clinic to care for our neighbors there. Their help is so appreciated by these folks and we are grateful for the means to serve them. Sally continued seeing patients with Leah the rest of the week and Bob was able to help streamline our mobile clinic bags of supplies and medications. Our family is crazy in love with Bob and Sally, so it was like having the grandparents in for a visit, too!
Bob and Sally Heier were a blessing in the clinic this week.
Pastor Kevin has been working on setting up security cameras at the Thozin campus…
Pastor Kevin Groder
Thursday we were happy to see Pastor Kevin’s son, Micah, arrive with a team from Nashua Christian School and Grace Fellowship. They are working with Help4Haiti this week. Pastor Paul Berube will be joining us this evening, as well.
Students from NSA are paired up this week with students from MOHI.
Students from Nashua Christian School spending time with our preschoolers
Forward in Health, from our hometown of Gardner, MA, brought a team into Haiti this week. They work near the city of Cayes. It just so happens that we are located at just about the half way point between the airport and Cayes, so they often stop for a potty break at our Thozin campus.
A team from Forward in Health stopped by for a potty break and a drink.
Our friend, Len Gengel at Be Like Brit was in Grand-Goave this week. It was so great to meet his lifelong friend, Steve Helle, who has helped so much with all the electrical at BLB.
Len Gengel came by with Steve Helle (Granite State Electric) and his daughter Daniel to see the Thozin campus earlier this week.
I love my new office location for a several reasons, but especially because the preschoolers walk right over my front step. The new bathroom is one of their favorite places and my office is right next door. Sometimes I open my door and wiggle my fingers at them with that “I’m gonna get ya!” look. Some of them start screaming. Others lay back and don’t want to step foot in front of my door. It’s a great distraction for me from the computer!
Some of the sweetest sweetie pies
Time for lunch!
Bob Heier shared the Word of God with us this morning. I tell you what, that man has a sharp sword coming out of his mouth! He shared verse after verse about who Jesus is, according to the Bible. It was a great time of exhortation and revelation with a sense of urgency to accept the sacrifice that Jesus made for each of us.
Worship service in Thozin
Would you please pray with us this week? We are feeling led to expand our campus in Thozin. There are several options in front of us and we want to make the right choice. Also, there are some exciting (however daunting) changes ahead for our family and they are wrought with emotion. It’s an exciting step of faith and we are trusting the Lord to lead us and ignite courage in each of us. Thank you for standing with us in prayer.
We set the day apart today to remember the result of the sacrifice that Jesus made for mankind. Jesus was nailed to a cross. He died. His body was placed in a tomb. God raised Him from the dead! Now He is seated at the right hand of the Father, where He is interceding for you and me! It’s a day of solemn reflection and joyous celebration, as we recall what Jesus told us as recorded in John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
Easter morning service in Thozin
We didn’t have any Easter egg hunts today, but we did invite the children from the Hands and Feet Project to the missionary compound to collect mangoes. The children just LOVE mangoes and I think they enjoy figuring out how to get them off the trees as much as they do eating them.
Easter “mango” hunt?
St Etienne cuties with their construction paper Easter baskets
We enjoyed our week with the team from Bless Back Worldwide. This team of twenty divided their time between medical and dental clinics, special activities with the preschoolers, dental hygiene instruction, soccer instruction and village ministry. What a blessing! It was great to use the new medical and dental rooms, in addition to the original clinic room, which now serves as the pharmacy.
The new exam tables got lots of use this week!
Dr Rick and Chris helped many with dental needs this week.
Electronic Medical Records functioned great this week!
We all so enjoy having Leah on our missionary team. She manages the medical program at MOHI. She’s also crazy in love with the children she serves! Here’s what she has to say about them:
Leah Fuller, RN
“One of the more entertaining parts of my job at MOHI is my role as school nurse. Being the school nurse means Band-Aids and antibiotic cream for skinned knees. It means reminding students daily that they really are required to produce the clinic pass from the school director in order to be seen (so that I know they have permission to be out of class). It is sharing a smile with a preschool teacher over her student’s vocal need for a Band-Aid for the minute scratch on their leg. It’s saying over and over and over “go drink water” in response to a variety of ailments and then laughter when students gives me the same instructions. It is surprising myself by shouting across the yard “Don’t put that in your mouth! You’re going to get cholera!” It is counseling high school students about their acne. It is a six year old with a toothless grin announcing that last week’s injury feels much better now. It is wrestling to keep a straight face as fourth graders dance at my doorstep when they are supposed to be going back to class.
“Lately, it is seizure precautions and ushering gawking students out of a room. It is conversations with another student where I tell them that, as happy as I am to see them, they cannot in fact come to the clinic again today because they were here yesterday, every day last week and three days the week before. It is preschoolers peeking in the clinic, curious about what’s going on. It is a happy dance in the office when the health department comes and immunizes our students for tetanus. It is pausing on an errand to watch the youngest preschool class dancing in their classroom, or listen to them recite a lesson. It is quiet rejoicing as kids outgrow school uniforms. It is a little boy with a tummy ache, legs swinging as he perches in the chair, telling me that the only time he ate was at school yesterday. It is joy and heartache, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The team joined Leah for two days at our St Etienne campus, where we were able to use our new mobile medical clinic for the first time. There is not a good internet signal in St Etienne, so we had to use paper records. I was thrilled, however, to find the medical professionals busy entering these records into the system when I arrived at the missionary compound Thursday evening.
The medical team enters their records from St Etienne
Mobile Medical Clinic
The non-medical portion of this week’s team assisted Dr. Rick by teaching good dental hygiene practices to our students in their classrooms. Afterward, they passed out toothbrushes, toothpaste and little draw string bags to keep them in. These will be kept in the school so that the children brush their teeth after lunch each day of school. Since we can’t supervise their brushing at home, this ensures that they are brushing at least once a day. We hope this will positively impact the oral health of our students.
Dental hygiene lesson
The team came prepared to do several special activities with our 4 year old preschool students. The kids LOVED their time in the activity room with them. I suspect the team rather enjoyed it, as well!
The team carried the fun into the villages each afternoon. It was really neat to see how the children’s behavior improved each day. Even though most of these kids are not in school, they were learning right there at home. The medical team joined in a couple of the days, as well.
The Bless Back team worked with our students on the soccer field and brought books for the little children in the neighborhood to enjoy.
Bless Back Worldwide has done an amazing job funding house construction for families without homes. At the end of the week, the team gathered with pastors and the family for whom this house was built. They took a moment to meet each other and dedicate the new house.
Apparently, it was a great week for getting married. Both Junior (maintenance) and Voltaire (school director) were married this week.
Mr & Mrs Junior Dimanche and Mr. & Mrs. Voltaire Sanon
Many of you who have visited Mission of Hope International in Haiti remember Marie Yves. She left us about 1 1/2 years ago, got married and had a baby. She visited me this week with Tabitha. Oh my! What a cutie!!! And for all of you who have fallen in love with Renord (the man with all the keys and many of the answers!), here’s a picture of him with his lovely wife.
Renord and his wife in St Etienne
I hope you have had a wonderful Easter day today. Thank you for your interest and participation in MOHI. We are not here in Haiti alone. As you pray for us and give what you can, people’s lives are being touched. Thank you for all YOU do!!!
Our students and staff have been working hard, as the end of the school year comes into sight. As always, our 6th and 9th graders, along with the students from the last two years of high school, are all preparing for their national exams. These are major events in the lives of the youth here in Haiti. Families will put out a lot of money to buy new clothes and provide for their students to eat at roadside restaurants on their test days. The students are under a lot of pressure from society to do well, honoring both their family and school, while avoiding having to repeat a grade.
School in St Etienne
Some school staff and students in Thozin
We so appreciate all of Leah’s hard work in the medical clinic, day in and day out. Not only does she utilize her nursing skills, but she navigates a cultural jungle daily. She does it well! She also knows her limitations and is not afraid to call on Pastor Lex when she’s not sure if she and her patient are communicating well. We are grateful for the people the Lord continues to bring to work in the clinic, including Tammy and this week a team from Bless Back Worlwide. This team has doctors and dentists, along with several medical professionals to support them.
Preparing the mobile medical clinic to work in St Etienne next week
This Bless Back Worlwide team provided the funds to build a home for a family in need. It’s almost done and will be dedicated at the end of the week, while the team is here.
This home is almost complete now.
LOTS of remodeling/construction work continued this past week. We were blessed to bring the Bless Back team on a tour of the new medical facilities and school, as they both approach completion.
Work in the medical and dental rooms continues.
The team from Bless Back Worldwide (Charlotte, NC)
The general consensus here is that the activity room is the prettiest room in the new school. Soon we will be installing mirrors on one wall and Help4Haiti will be donating mats for the floor. THEN we will be able to hold ballet and kempo classes in there!
I was so excited today to move my desk into my new office space. I’ve been in a temporary building for the past 4 years. It was decided that it’s time to remove the plywood structure and expand the church and picnic tables area. What do you think of my new space?
It was great to meet up with some new friends this week. Lex visited Pablo Marquez’s orphanage work in Aquin this week. Pablo is from the country of Chile. Lex found him and some associates on the side of the road, in need of transportation. He helped them out and we have remained friends ever since. Lex was very happy to see the quality work that Pablo and his friends are doing there in Aquin.
Pablo and his friends work in Aquin, Haïti.
While Lex was in Aquin, some sweet sisters from Aquin came to Thozin to deliver a barrel of goods to us. We are grateful to them, as well as to Emery and Jeannita Gaudet for providing these supplies. We met Emery & Jeannita years ago at a yard sale they were doing at their home in Leominster. Apparently they would hold a yard sale every year and the proceeds would go to support a mission in Haiti. We love to go to yard sales (if we ever have the opportunity any more!) and especially ones that support works in Haiti. We struck up a conversation and they even invited us over for dinner. Since that time, Emery always stops by when he comes to Haiti and he even spent some time with us, working at MOHI and Be Like Brit. What a blessing these folks have been to so many here!
These dear sisters from Aquin delivered a barrel of clothing and notebooks from Emery & Jeannita Gaudet (Leominster, MA)
We had a team from Helping to Heal Haiti join us for dinner this week. It was nice to hear about their medical work in our neighboring city of Petit-Goâve.
Our new friends from Helping to Heal Haiti
We have been working for some time now on the electricity at the missionary compound. We often think about where we started. We had no intention of having full-time electricity at the missionary compound, but the Lord has provided beyond what we had expected! Thanks to so many generous partners, we now have a 20kw generator and a solar array with a bank of 24 batteries. I remember waking up 3 and 4 times a night in the summertime, as we normally didn’t have electricity in the early days. I would take a cool shower and head back to bed, trying not to move and fall asleep before I started sweating again. Now, we normally have electricity 24/7 for all of our guests at the missionary compound, as well as for all the full timers. Fans at night make for happy campers in the morning! Praise God!!!
Solar installation at the missionary compound
I love going to church on Sunday mornings. Everyone dresses up in their “Sunday Best” and stuffs into our overcrowded, hot box – aka the chapel. I’ve gotten into the habit of handing out lollipops to the kids as they come in, which has made me a lot more friends. This morning I had the opportunity to hang out with Phalard’s new baby, too! *SMILE*
We’ve been getting rain a few times a week now. It’s very welcome, after such a long, dry season, but it also causes new difficulties, as you can see in this picture…
A night of rain in the mountains has a major effect on everyone down below
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Leah has been doing a great job organizing the clinic ministry and Tammy has been a great help to her.
Clinic with Leah and Tammy
Leah has also been working hard to train some help for the clinic. This week we saw Fritzon, who has been a regular patient for months and months, starting to learn to take blood pressure readings. We’re so glad that he’s doing so much better physically, that he is able to consider working now. Praise God!
training Fritzon to take blood pressure readings
My office has been in a temporary building, built a few months after the earthquake. We need the space in order to accommodate more people in the church, so we located a small room to put me in for now. It should be ready for me to move into later this week. Once I move, we will tear down the office.
Renee’s office to be
We had another great week of school. One of the great motivators for all of the missionaries here at MOHI are the little ones…
Our high school seniors like to look mature and serious when they are in school. We caught some of the girls cutting loose on the roof, dancing. What a joy to see that they are still kids at heart!
high school seniors cutting loose
Occasionally (not often enough, however), we take time to be social with other American missionaries and expats. This week we had the privilege of making dinner for our friends at Be Like Brit. We enjoyed having a social evening together.
Pastor Lex puts on an apron to cook for our friends from BLB
This morning was part two of the “Pop the Zit” message. It’s been a tough message for many of us, as we consider the spiritual sicknesses festering in us, because we choose hold on to offenses, rather than forgiving. Nevertheless, it’s a very liberating message, as we choose to act on the words that being shared with us.
church service in Thozin this morning
About 70% of the buildings/homes in Grand-Goave were destroyed during the earthquake in 2010. Even now, many families are still living in insecurity and harsh conditions, under tarps. In an effort to help those in greatest need, especially families with children, we have been partnering with our supporters to build homes for these families. This week we’ve been constructing a home for another family, due to the generosity of Bless Back Worldwide.
house being built for a family in need, thanks to Bless Back Worldwide’s donation
Work continues on the new school and clinic rooms in Thozin.
tiling the activity room
cabinet work in the new medical room
We’ve been working on the electrical deficits at the missionary compound for quite some time, now. We recently acquired solar panels and have been working on welding frames for them to mount to the roof.
Welding frames for solar panels at the missionary compound
We had a great week with our friends from the University of Akron. They brought us goodies – like a router and antennae so I can still work. The satellite that we’ve been using for the past thirteen years is being decommissioned, so we have been looking for an alternative. Fortunately, Pastor IT Kevin Groder is my neighbor and made some recommendations. I’m still working out the bugs, but the items the team brought down for me are a HUGE help!
University of Akron team
All of us loved working with this team, as they were very flexible, always cheerful … yes, I did say “always!” Every team member was such a blessing to all of us here. We are so grateful that they came. Some of the things they worked on this week included painting, entering medical records, transferring ebooks onto our Kindle Readers, helping in the medical clinic, assisting with the solar installation at the missionary compound, loving on kids, wood working and sorting clothes.
Work and fun often go hand in hand at MOHI!
Work on the school and clinic rooms continued this week, as well…
Junior assembling a desk.
This week we started laying tile in the administrative offices.
medical room cabinets are coming right along.
We now have sinks in the kitchen!
The life of all we do can be found in serving the Lord…
Make a joyful noise!
We have the most amazing kids in our schools…
The future is looking bright!
A little timid today, but great debaters tomorrow!
Have you ever seen such big eyes?!!!
Thank you for taking the time to check out what’s been happening this past week at MOHI. Please “like” our page on Facebook for regular updates. You can also follow us on Twitter @mission_of_hope. Thank you so much for your prayers and support!!!
MOHI Board of Directors member, Pastor Carlos and his wife, Rita; Chals & Chel Finn and their “G3″ team; and Alan Bowdler and his team from the University of Akron are all here making this an incredible week. It started out with a sad moment, as we learned of a fire just down the road from us, in a very poor village. A woman had gone home, after picking her preschooler up from school. She put the children down for a nap and placed a pot of beans on the fire. Beans take a long time to cook, so women usually take care of other tasks while waiting, so the mom took a bucket and went to fetch some water. It was a very windy day. She arrived back home to find her tarp-covered home on fire. A neighbor saw the fire from his garden, where he was working, and he had already arrived and pulled the 18-month old, Milove, out of the house. He was too late to save the other child, who died there.
Some of the burns suffered by an 18 month old in the house fire that killed her older sibling
I asked our friends on Facebook if they would help. There was nothing we could do for the loss of life, but with your help, we were able to help with the loss of material goods. Clothing, shoes, toiletries and cash helped to sustain them and get them back on their feet. Their neighbor brought Milove to the medical clinic at MOHI each day. Leah and Chel made house calls for the weekend, to care for the burns, but also to see the living conditions. Leah was so happy to see how well Milove was being cared for. Her wounds are doing well and no longer need to be wrapped. We will continue seeing her daily to make sure she continues to heal well. Thank you so much to those of you who answered the call and immediately donated to help this family. God bless you!
Medical clinics were held in Thozin and St. Etienne.
Clinic in Thozin
A full day of clinic in St Etienne
Stocking up on medicines means lots of work for Tammy, as she makes sure everything is logged into the new database that Pastor Kevin created for us.
Early in the week there were lots of preparations going on for the women’s conference, in Thozin. The event is organized and run by the married women in the church. They do a great job of getting EVERYONE to pitch in.
Cleaning the street light with a mop and changing the bulb – all part of preparing for this week’s women’s conference.
With the focus this week on the conference, we did slow down the pace a bit with construction and remodeling projects. However, we didn’t stop. We are so grateful that Alan Roseberry was able to spare a couple of hours to install the water feed valves and instruct Jackson in completing the plumbing in the new school. Alan is the one who did all the rough plumbing in the building, with Jackson’s assistance. Thank you, Alan!!!
Making doors and moldings, painting and new valves for water feeds
Aquaponics, plumbing and covering drainage area
cabinets in the dental room
School was in session Monday through Thursday, this week. We gave everyone Friday off to enjoy the conference.
Pastor Lex works with a preschool class on lining up to use the bathroom. They like the new bathrooms so much, we have to tell them they’re not allowed to lay on the floor!
The conference started Thursday evenning. Pastor Carlos, Sister Rita, Pastor Hakine, and local missionaries (Michelle Meece, Tammy Groder, Angie Sutton and yours truly) shared at general sessions and workshops. Leah and Team G3 also did a couple of community health workshops, with a focus on natural medicines. I’m not sure who learned more, the team or the Haitian women?
A wonderful time was enjoyed by all at the women’s conference in Thozin.
MOHI “Dance Troupe”
heading to the church
Team G3 sent each woman at the conference home with rice and beans.
Folks had a wonderful time distributing food in a local village, loving on kids and doing other tasks to help out at MOHI.
The team went out into a village to distribute food and visit with our neighbors.
So grateful for help sorting shoes, sneakers and sandals!
Love those little ones!
I am so blessed to have American friends here in Grand-Goave. When we first came to Haiti, 14 years ago, I didn’t have any American friends here. I often longed to have someone to talk with who would understand the difficulties and enormous frustrations I was going through. I thank God for my husband, who put up with me as I adjusted … and STILL puts up with me, as I continue adjusting! But today, there are several American missionaries, expats and families in the area that we are able to enjoy time with somewhat regularly. AND, let me tell you, we know how to have good fun!
After church fun – kittens and brownies!
We so appreciate Pastor Carlos, Sister Rita, Chals, Chel and their team, who will be heading home tomorrow. They have blessed many during their time here! We look forward to spending most of this week with Alan and the Akron team. I know it’s going to be another great week!
This was an extra special week for me, personally, here at Mission of Hope International. Rev. Cheryl (Vasil) Minor and I go way back to 5th grade. We were in the same middle school and high school. We never really “hung out” together, but we were both passionate about music and played/sang together for years. We hadn’t seen each other in 30 years when we found each other on Facebook. Apparently, Cheryl liked what she was seeing of our work in Haiti and, along with her husband, Rev. Paul Minor, they formed a team from their church (All Saints Church, Belmont, MA) to serve at MOHI.
Our friends from the All Saints Church in Belmont, MA
The team raised money to purchase over 300 recorders – the musical instruments – and they set out to teach our students what to do with them. I was amazed at the work they were able to do with our students. They were singing out do-re-mi’s and rhythms, while learning how to read quarter and eighth notes and play the notes on their recorders. The team also did singing and story time with our preschool, first and second grade classes. On Friday, the entire preschool and primary school came together in the chapel for a concert. There was singing and musical accompaniment on the recorders and we celebrated a birthday. I was amazed at the way they were able to hold the children’s attention throughout their time together.
Story time and music instruction
Our first ever primary school concert at the MOHI school in Thozin
Most Haitian children do not have the opportunity to study music or learn to play an instrument. Consequently, those who do tend to be seen as a bit superior to everyone else. In this regard, I am just overly thrilled that our entire primary school was exposed to learning to sing, read music and play an instrument this week. The recorders will stay at the school and I hope that in the future we will have many more opportunities to teach our students and begin to cultivate those who are actually gifted in this area. Imagine how many truly gifted musicians never get the opportunity to engage their talents. I trust the Lord has begun a great work in our schools that will reap a love of making music!
Cheryl (Vasil) Minor with the primary students, as they prepared for their concert
We enjoyed taking the team to some different places around town, Taino Beach, The Hands and Feet Project, Haiti Made, Be Like Brit, La Foia Block Factory, our St Etienne campus and the MOHI village of homes that you, our friends and supporters have built for families in need.
Everyone was so excited when the team chose a class to sponsor, on behalf of the church – especially the students IN that class!
The team from All Saints Church with their newly sponsored class
We can always make time for snuggling!
We had a special invitation to dinner with our Sri Lankan friends at the UN Base. It was so kind of them to accommodate all 15 of us. We all enjoyed hearing more about Sri Lanka, playing pool, talking politics and eating some hot and spicy Sri Lankan food. YUM!
A great evening at the UN
While we enjoyed the team from All Saints Church, lots of work was still going on around us. Cabinets/tables/counters /desks were being fabricated, electricity was being wired, bathrooms were being plumbed, drainage was being installed, sermons were being preached, the sick were being treated, exams were being taken, classes were being taught, soccer, dance and karate were being practiced… That’s but the tip of the iceberg. Here are a few pictures from the past couple of weeks:
Let’s see if we can stop the flooding!
laptop fun time
MOHI Medical Clinic
Livening up the rockers
Building cabinets in the school and clinic
New bathrooms and an office
Demolishing the Kreyol urinals. YAY!!!
This morning in Thozin
We will be starting our Women’s Conference Thursday night. Please remember to pray for this special time of ministry with Sister Rita Pereira as our keynote speaker. We are also expecting the G3 team from the Worcester area of Massachusetts. They come each year and are a blessing – especially in our medical ministry. Again, your prayers are appreciated.
I often feel like saying “thank you” is so minute, compared to the enormity of what our partners are enabling to happen here in Haiti. Nevertheless, I will say it again, with all of my heart, THANK YOU!!!
The team from CDS finished up this week and headed back to the Charlotte area. They connected one on one with some of our high school students, painted a neat mural (Fishers of Men), did lots of activities with our younger classes, planted some of the amazing Moringa trees, worked on a video and built a hydroponics system for the school in Thozin. They also spent some of their afternoons sitting in school classes with their new Haitian friends. It was fun to hear some of their reactions to the classes and even to see that they enjoyed the time. We are so grateful that this team chose to serve with us for a week here in Haiti and hope they will return to do even more.
Preparing crafts for lessons in the primary grades
CDS aquaponics project
CDS students enjoy classes with their Haitian counterparts
CDS in the classroom
Angelise has worked with Mission of Hope for the past thirteen years. She held several positions in the school and now oversees the care of our visitors at the missionary compound. She’s a good cook, a hospitable person and a tough boss to work for. We are hoping that she will be able to learn how to drive the three-wheeler so that she can come and go to the open market as she pleases.
Will Angelise learn how to drive the three-wheeler?!!!
Leah was not feeling well toward the end of the week. She’s so dedicated to her patients and just had the hardest time to tell people to come back next week. She saw many of them and then we asked our friends at Be Like Brit to lend us the amazing duo visiting them. Dr. Greg and Amalia Ciottone came down the mountain to MOHI and finished up seeing the rest of the patients so that Leah could head home for some rest. (It’s pretty cool to see God’s provision in so many details in our lives!) Tammy did lots of mothering and Angelise made some “ji sitwon” (key lime juice) which does an amazing job at getting rid of tummy issues. Praise God Leah’s feeling better. She was able to attend church services and take part in the beginning of our new book club.
Mother and daughter?
Starting to feel better
O o o o o o O o o o o o O o o o o o O
O o o o o o O
Our computer club expanded last month. It’s amazing to see so many little ones now pecking away on their XO laptops. We remain grateful to our friends at Child in Hand and Unleashed Kids for all their support in this program!
This week I spent a moment with our sixth graders. They were talking about wanting a library. I shared some of our plans with them. It was really cool to explain to them what the Kindle Readers are, how many books they hold and to let them see and read from one. We are all so looking forward to the new library. We ARE still looking for a carpet layer. PLEASE share this need with your family, friends and associates. I trust God has someone ready to come install this beautiful new carpet for us, so we can get the library open earlier rather than later.
Checking out a Kindle Reader
Our service in Thozin this morning was extra special to me. One of the most influential men in Lex’s life spent a couple of nights with us and was able to preach at church this morning. Pastor Revenais took great interest in Lex during his teen years and it was he who baptized Lex, at the age of 15. I love to hear him preach. The way he communicates might not go over well in an American church, but he communicates with the Haitians as no other I’ve heard. He gets right into the heart of the matter with stories about the things that are discussed in their homes and in the market place. He shares stories about incredible conversions and God’s amazing grace seen in their lives. I also appreciate the role he has filled in our lives over the past 14 years as counselor and friend.
church in Thozin this morning, with Lex’s pastor, Jean Francois Revenais
Our missionary friends from the Hands and Feet Project are a vital part of the church in Thozin
LOVE the kiddies…and the tee shirt in the middle pic!
Our English service tonight was amazing, as well. Angie and Alexis led the congregation in praise and worship in two languages, English and Kreyol. Pastor Kevin shared a high-tech message – meaning he used the projector and played a song, too. He encouraged us that no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in, we know that God has prepared a way for us to make it through.
Alexis and I will be spending this week in Tulsa, OK. Alexis will be touring ORU and taking her SAT before we head back to Haiti. We covet your prayers. Thank you.
Here are a few more pictures of some of the activities from the week.
Here are some photos from this week. After the pictures I have a great song to share with you with a bit of a walk down memory lane, so please keep paging down.
Congratulations Leah and Tammy. Job well done!
New restrooms in the school yard
Electrical work being done in the school kitchen
Some of our high school students
Some of our preschool kids
Pastor Kevin, his friend Ted Boschetto and A, Jay showed some of their moves this morning, so our students and their families could see some of what’s in store for our students at school soon.
Pastor Kevin shared a message with the church in Thozin this morning.
Paul serves the children food each day at school.
Special fawns to recover the choukoun are coming all the way from beautiful Jacmel.
A group of our high school students will be working this week with a group from the Covenant Day School (Charlotte, NC). They spent some time preparing a place for the aquaponics project.
As I was preparing for church this morning, a song by Kutless came on. It’s called “That’s What Faith Can D0.” I know the tune and was enjoying it, but then I started to pay close attention to the words. They are powerful and I suddenly felt that I wanted to share this song in today’s blog post. So, all the Bold Letters are the lyrics of the song and the regular type will be stories from MOHI that go with those lyrics. I hope you enjoy remembering with me the wonderful things God has done in our lives.
Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise From the ashes And make a new beginning
I remember when we first came to start Mission of Hope. We had spent two weeks in the country, planted the first church,formed our first leadership team and taken hundreds of pictures. It was March 27th, 2000. We we went to meet with a lawyer about the legalities of setting up a mission in Haiti, on our way to the airport and our return to the USA. When we got to the lawyers, the streets were “hot.” The lawyer was waiting for us outside his office and told Lex to drop the kids and I off and go park the car in a different area, so it wouldn’t get struck by rocks that were being hurled up the road. Not being so adept at Haitian Creole nor understanding of the waves of political unrest at the time, I thought people were shooting at each other. I grabbed my babies (they were 2 and 3 at the time) and ran into the building and up the stairs to the lawyer’s office. Lex and Josué drove down the road a ways and parked the car near the “Nèg Mawòn,” a well known statue near the palace.
Lex and Josué joined us a little while later and we had our meeting with the lawyer. The problems outside were no longer on my mind, as we began to outline our vision and hopes for our future working in Haïti. When we finished, we walked down the calm street to where the car was parked. As we came upon the car, my heart sank. Someone had forced the back (sliding) window open. Everything of value to us was in the diaper bag, because we always had the diaper bag with us – except that day, as I had run out without it and Lex didn’t think to grab it. There in the back of the car were all our suitcases and our video camera – NO DIAPER BAG. Credit cards, cash, passports, Lex’s special travel paper from US immigration, all the film with pictures of hundreds of children and their registration information – ALL lost! I stood in the middle of Port-au-Prince crying. That was the beginning of Mission of Hope International.
Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you’re stronger
Stronger than you know
With no cash or credit cards, we had to turn in our car. Our friend Walter and his family, who we were staying with, were so gracious! We had no where else to go and at the same time he hadn’t budgeted to care for our American family for more than two weeks. We went to US immigration and the kids and I had passports ready for us to leave in just three days. Lex was another story. We had found such grace with immigration in the United States, but we were now in Haiti. The Haitian woman working for US immigration didn’t want to hear anything from me. I lost my cool and had to keep my distance, for fear that my husband would never be allowed to return to the US.
On the home front, Walter remained gracious and did his best to keep us fed and watered, but we knew we were a huge burden for him. Any of you who have stayed for any length of time with extended family or friends can probably understand the emotional weight I was feeling, being dependent on this wonderful, giving family. Port-au-Prince was VERY hot and full of mosquitoes. Between the two, I was having a hard time keeping the kids content – especially being stuck in the middle of the city with no place we could go. I spent most of my time filling up big wash basins with water and letting the kids play in it. We were out of insect repellent, so at night we would burn these nasty coils that made smoke to dissuade the mosquitoes from coming near. Of course the smell was horrid (in my humble opinion!), so that added to my lack of comfort. Mostly, though, I was determined that I would not leave Haiti without my husband!
Lex would go to the immigration office regularly. I just stayed back at Walter’s. (I knew I couldn’t handle that woman we’d have to see!!!) He heard so many negative reports. It seemed everyone knew someone who needed the paperwork he needed and they had to wait one to two YEARS to finally get it!!! You KNOW I was praying. All I knew was that I wasn’t going anywhere without him, no matter what that meant for me and the kids.
Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining
One day Lex came back from immigration with a great big smile. He was talking to our “friend” (the woman at immigration) when the vice consul just happened to be walking by. He noticed Lex’s ordination card, that he had just given the woman. He started asking Lex questions and then made a call to immigration in Boston. He ended up talking with Mr. Smith, who had handled his case from the beginning of the immigration process in the States. The man knew us very well and had jumped through some hoops on our behalf already. Two days later, Lex had the necessary documents for us to return to the US. What could literally have taken YEARS took only two weeks! God’s grace got us through an delivered us.
I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
I remember sitting under the choukoun talking with a group of doctors, after having done a medical clinic at our school in St Etienne. We talked about how much they’d enjoyed doing the clinic, but also about how much work it took. Unlike doing clinic in Thozin, where all the supplies stay right there on the shelves, mobile clinics require a lot of preparations. Materials, medicines, equipment, supplies, forms, etc. all have to be gathered, packed, transported unpacked, set out, used, packed, transported, unpacked and put back in their places. One of the doctors started dreaming about how cool it would be to have a tractor trailer truck that traveled to distant areas all stocked and ready for clinics. We talked about it for quite a while and then one of the doctors said, “Of course it’s not going to happen. Who’s going to put up that kind of money for a mobile clinic?” His remark, although logical in one sense, really caught me off guard. It may look like a mountain, but if God has given that dream – what’s a mountain to God?!!!
When Mission USA asked if we could use another bus, we said absolutely. They asked what we would do with it. The answer? Convert it into a mobile medical clinic. That bus, already converted into a medical clinic, arrived at the end of 2013! God is so good!!! Bye Bye Mountain!
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
During our first year of school, our family had returned to the United States to raise funds – mostly to pay the school teachers, there was a sort of uprising in the school. A few of the teachers/church members came against the school director and encouraged others to become physically violent. They smashed chalk boards and threatened the director, who ran in fear. I remember the sick feeling, like my stomach had dropped into my toes. I felt like our dreams were evaporating. We were far from Haiti with no money to get there any time soon. And I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I told Lex, “If they have money to pay the teachers, maybe we should just let them take over, since we still don’t know where that money will come from.” He told me it wasn’t that they knew what to do with the mission, it was just that they wanted to have power. Sometimes people aren’t content to just walk away if things aren’t going their way. They feel compelled to destroy it. That’s what was going on. God had no part in it.
God provided the money for the teachers and for us to return to Haiti. Those people ended up leaving the church and the school and both prospered and grew afterwards. The reality is that sometimes people are just keeping a seat warm until the person the seat was intended for arrives. What a wonderful spirit came into the church once those people were gone!
I’ve seen miracles just happen
A deaf man was standing outside our church in St Etienne, waiting to catch a ride to Port-au-Prince. He was planning to visit a particular church there, looking to be healed. As he suddenly wondered why he was going to Port-au-Prince. Wouldn’t the same God who would heal him in Port-au-Prince heal him right here in St Etienne. He entered into the church and was miraculously healed!
Silent prayers get answered
In 2007/2008 two hundred, twenty-nine children were living in a church/school about 45 minutes east of us. Most were sickly, all were hungry and malnourished, few of them went to school and only a handful slept in a bed.
The commander of the UN Peacekeepers from Sri Lanka was very troubled when he visited these children and asked Lex to accompany him on another visit. Although Lex had grown up in an impoverished village and poor family, he was not prepared for the lack of care he witnessed that day. Little did he know that this was the beginning of a fierce battle for the lives of those children. Our lives were threatened on many occasions as we persisted, with the constant support of people back home like Pastor Kevin & Tammy, Kids Against Hunger – Tulsa and the Hands and Feet Project.
Eventually, after meeting with the mayor of Camp Perrin, he agreed to go retrieve 50 of the kids from his city. We went to visit them the next day with food, medicines, toiletries, clothing and footwear, knowing the families were probably not prepared financially to have their children back home.
One of the children that we were especially taken with did not come out to greet us. We went in search of Kendy and finally located him, his brother, sister and parents. No one in the family looked well fed or even healthy. We were happy to provide plenty of aid to last them a while. A few months later we sent some food to them. We later learned that one day the father was carrying on about the politicians who obtained rice for the poor, but shared it with their friends and neglecting those who really needed it. Kendy told him, “Daddy, it’s ok. God sent Pastor Lex to help us. He’ll send us food.” Two days later, the food arrived. God has provided much for Kendy and his family over the years. Silent prayers were answered.
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do
A renowned vodou priest in town heard Pastor Lex preaching on MOHI’s radio station. God touched his heart and he could hardly wait for that Sunday to arrive so that he could publicly declare his faith in Jesus Christ. He will tell you just how broken his heart was, but today he has a brand new one!
It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason
For someone not to try
Everybody’s scared to death
When they decide to take that step Out on the water It’ll be alright
Our dear sister went through 9 months of pregnancy, 12 hours of labor and an emergency c-section only to be faced with the reality that her baby was severely deformed. The baby died. As terrifying as it was to try again, this couple did and today they are enjoying raising the sweetest little girl.
Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing…
We worked so hard over the first ten years of this mission to construct places for church, classrooms and orphan and guest housing. When the earthquake hit, we lost at least 80% of all that physical work. We were so grateful to be alive and that no one had been injured at any of our campuses. It seems I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness that descended upon our lives at that time. But once again, out of the ashes, He had amazing plans. In the past four years we were able to not only rebuild, but expand beyond what we’d even imagined. The children we were caring for at the time of the earthquake were blessed with an amazing new home with the Hands and Feet Project. The churches increased incredible growth. The Thozin campus has an absolutely amazing new school building, clinics, Bible school, laptop computer training program and Christian radio station. Our visitors and full time missionaries have a beautiful and solid building to live in with pure water running through all its plumbing, an incredible ocean to look out at and electricity. We have three more full time missionaries working here and an incredible Haitian leadership team and staff. There is so much more and even more on the horizon – more than what our eyes are seeing!!!
…Overcome the odds You don’t have a chance
(That’s what faith can do)
When the world says you can’t
It’ll tell you that you can…
What were the odds that our family would survive living in Haiti. We liquidated all our earthly belongings and moved here with two toddlers and our 1999 tax refund. How crazy does THAT sound? (Even to me and I actually did it!) Even now, it is a daily walk of faith. There are way too many plates spinning for us to keep them going, but there’s faith in God!!!
Even if you fall sometimes
You will have the strength to rise
But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. (Isaiah 40:31 Amplified Bible)