Team HURRICANE

Wow!!!  Mission USA (from the Chapel, Akron, OH) came in like a hurricane!  This week has been nonstop ministry, clinics, maintenance and improvements.  It’s been incredible!

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At the beginning of 2013, Mission USA sent us a 3/4 size school bus to use for teams coming into Haiti to serve.  As many of you know first hand, the bus has been an incredible blessing.  Teams that would normally be difficult to get from point A to point B are now easily transported.  Even this team of 34 was able to travel all together to Grand-Goave.

Later in the year, Fred and Sandy Muffet (Mission USA founders) asked if we could use another bus.  The response was affirmative.  I shared our vision for transforming a large vehicle into a mobile medical clinic.  There are so many who just do not have access to medical care in their towns.  We currently do mobile medical clinics, but we often have to run back to Thozin to get supplies we weren’t expecting to need.  Using a stocked vehicle helps us to avoid that situation and provides privacy the patients might not otherwise find.

Mobile medical clinic donated by the Chapel (Akron, OH)

Mobile medical clinic donated by the Chapel (Akron, OH)

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Our friends in Akron immediately went to work, locating a bus, remodeling it into a clinic, purchasing other needed items (generator for the Thozin campus, two commercial grade ovens for the main school, washing machine and flat grill for the missionary compound and so many other useful items).  They went through the bus, to make sure everything was working properly.  They installed cabinets, counters, a sink – even an exam table and wall partitions for privacy.  They held a big food packaging event and packed it all into the bus, along with all the other purchases and donations.  The bus was so heavy, they decided to truck it Miami, rather than driving it.  Fred and Sandy traveled to Miami to get it to the shipper and take care of all the paperwork.

The bus arrived ahead of the team, and has been parked, awaiting their arrival.  Wednesday was like Christmas morning.  We are so grateful to all our friends at the Chapel who joined the Mission USA team to bless the MOHI school and communities.  Thank you!

Unloading the bus, medical and disability ministries

Unloading the bus, medical and disability ministries

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Once the bus was unpacked, the team started working on several other projects, such as plumbing, pouring a slab for the new generator, medical clinics in St Etienne, disability ministry, Electronic Medical Record data entry, village ministry, cooking and feeding the poor, and loving on lots of little ones.

Love those kids!

Love those kids!

Pastor Drex Stuart

Pastor Drex Stuart

Village Ministry

Village Ministry

plumbing, maintenance and electronic medical records

plumbing, maintenance and electronic medical records

Mission USA purchased tiles and paid to have them laid in the kitchen at the missionary compound.  Pastor Hakine picked out the tiles.  I was QUITE nervous about them, but once the floor was done, I saw that they were perfect.  We plan to use the scraps to make some counter tops.

The kitchen's looking good!

The kitchen’s looking good!

 

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Breakfast has been GREAT fun with the new flat top grill.  The menu has expanded with pancakes, French toast, home fries, etc.  All things that were previously not possible to make for a large team.  Now teams can participate in cooking their meals, too!

Breakfast Fun

Breakfast Fun

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Mission USA and Help 4 Haiti went in thirds with us to purchase a three-wheeler:  motorcycle front with a trailer on it.  It has already been a great help for moving people and items between the school and missionary compound.  I think Fred and Kevin have been having fun driving it, too.

The trike has been busy all week!

The trike has been busy all week!

Church was extra special this morning, as we welcomed Drex and Jo Stuart back to Haiti for a short visit.  Drex and Jo actually lived at the MOHI missionary compound for several months, while they began construction of the Hands and Feet Project’s children’s village, here in Grand-Goave.  During that time, we fell in love with Drex and Jo.  It was so great to have Drex preach, with Lex translating this morning.  He dressed up an elder from his church as a Roman soldier and talked about the armour of God.  It was a very memorable and encouraging message.

Pastor Drex Stuart

Pastor Drex Stuart

As I’m sure you can tell, we have been having a blast with Mission USA.  We still have several days together with them.  More good reports to come!!!  Here’s a few more pics from this week:

Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday

A little Kempo?

A little Kempo?

missionaries and babies - LOVE!!!

missionaries and babies – LOVE!!!

Mission USA at church in Thozin

Mission USA at church in Thozin

Dieunison : Bicycle repair man?

Dieunison : Bicycle repair man?

Four Years Later

 

March will mark 14 years since our arrival in Haiti to start Mission of Hope International.  Lex felt God calling him here and our pastor (and many others) confirmed it.  We came with some previous experience in Haiti, lots of grandiose ideas and a few good friends’ support.  It’s never been easy, but it has been very rewarding.

From 2000 to 2010

From 2000 to 2010

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January 12, 2010 we saw the majority of the physical work we’d done destroyed.  At the time we were so grateful to be alive that the buildings didn’t really mean much.  Eventually the tremors stopped enough that we could start cleaning up, which meant demolishing what was left.  It was hard to watch buildings come down, knowing how hard we had worked on them and yet we were so grateful that no lives had been lost in them.

Pictures

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After the earthquake, we went in search of help for our communities.  We were introduced to the world of NGOs.  We began attending meetings to coordinate efforts.  Kevin Groder and Stuart Rankin stepped in to help with this new load of work, as we could have easily spent all of our time in meetings and never gotten anything else done!  Our time was consumed with consoling/encouraging others, responding to the deluge of emails, acquiring food and supplies for distribution and doing the actual distributions.  The US Navy and Marines pulled ashore by the missionary compound and we were able to set up our water tanks on the one building that wasn’t destroyed, so that the troops could bathe.

Community meeting 2010

Community meeting 2010

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We’ve grown as individuals, as well as as a mission, over the past four years.  One of our big lessons is that it’s okay to respond to a disaster with quick fixes, but that long term solutions must follow them.  We can’t, with a clear conscience, keep putting Band-Aids on festering wounds.  The wounds need to be cleaned out.  People need jobs.  They need education.  They need to have that self respect that comes from feeding, providing for and protecting their families.  They need to feel secure.  They need a home to live in.

Road project employed 3,000 people

Road project employed 3,000 people

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Over the past four years, MOHI has progressed from a Band-Aid ministry to a solution ministry.  No,we don’t have all the answers, but through God’s grace and wisdom, we do have some.  And through His goodness, the Lord has brought us some of the most incredible people who are working with us towards those solutions.

BBW Jan 2014This past week, a team from Bless Back Worldwide came to work with us.  There were many medical providers who ministered to our students and neighbors through medical and dental clinics.  Several of the providers taught in the nursing school in the next city (Petit-Goave).

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The youth on the team did fun activities with our high school students, to help them with their English and held story time with our little ones.  Others distributed home first-aid kits to the high school students, and the younger student’s parents.  They took a good while to instruct them, too: what’s in the kit, when to use it, how to use it, where to keep it…  Everyone seemed very grateful to have these kits to take home with them.

Training parents to use first aid kits

Training parents to use first aid kits

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Bless Back Worldwide also raised funds to build another home for a family in need of a secure house to call home.  They had a beautiful dedication ceremony, complete with lots of hugs.

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The team also held a mobile medical clinic in the Galet – the village just up from the missionary compound.  There was also face painting, soccer, and the distribution of dresses and dental supplies.  Many happy faces were witnessed!

Checking blood pressures, giving out dresses and face painting...each other?

Checking blood pressures, giving out dresses and face painting…each other?

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Melissa Roper, who led this team, always plans plenty of activities for her teams.  There was never a dull moment.  I’m relatively certain that the entire team is feeling a bit… EXHAUSTED today.

A little R & R

A little R & R

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We are expecting another big team from Mission USA and the Chapel in Akron on Tuesday.  We are eagerly awaiting their arrival for many reasons, not the least of them being the long awaited unpacking of the bus and the launch of the mobile medical clinic!!!  There will be plumbing, tiling, disability ministry, mobile clinics and more going on.  Sooooo, please keep us all in prayer, that we all may communicate, coordinate and cooperate well.

Mobile medical clinic donated by the Chapel (Akron, OH)

Mobile medical clinic donated by the Chapel (Akron, OH)

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This morning, we had somewhat of a memorial service – remembering what we went through four years ago and appreciating all the Lord brought us through.  We remembered how much we depended on Him during that time and determined not to turn back.  We remembered the people whose lives were cut short and prayed for their families whose hearts were heavy – especially today.

Children's ministry in Thozin

Children’s ministry in Thozin

worship service in Thozin

worship service in Thozin

Young people are learning to sow

Young people are learning to sow

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We also prayed for our friends Len and Cherylann Gengel, whose daughter Britney was one of those lost in the quake.  We thank God for their determination and desire to carry on with their daughter’s dream to help the children of Haiti.  In the past three years, they have built a 19,000 sq. ft. building that currently is home to 38 beautiful children.

Cherylann and Len speak about the friends and partners Pastor Lexidan and Renee Edme during the dedication ceremony in Grand Goave Haiti Saturday January 5, 2013. (RICK CINCLAIR / T&G Staff)

Cherylann and Len speak about the friends and partners Pastor Lexidan and Renee Edme during the dedication ceremony in Grand Goave Haiti Saturday January 5, 2013. (RICK CINCLAIR / T&G Staff)

Happy New Year!

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It was a beautiful holiday season for us here in Haiti.  I hope it was for you, as well.

The kids make Christmas dinner a very entertaining time

The kids make Christmas dinner a very entertaining time

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Christmas was so much fun with our long-term missionary friends and family.  Of course, it’s the kids that make the celebration so enjoyable.  Faith, Glory, Nathan, Ben and Caleb did just that.

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The kids enjoyed their own Christmas party at MOHI.  We also enjoyed stopping in at the Be Like Brit Christmas celebration, as well.  They had lots of skits and performances and of course the kids were all decked out for the occasion.

Christmas fun at BLB

Christmas fun at BLB

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Last week we took a short trip to Santo Domingo.  Our missionary friends, Bud and Karen Simon, were so kind and hospitable, opening their home to us.  With Bud’s help and connections, we finally located a car part we’ve been looking for for sooooo long.  Bud and Karen took us to a mall, a department/grocery store and the movies.

The beauty and fun of Santo Domingo

The beauty and fun of Santo Domingo

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Although we really enjoyed this “almost American” time, I do find it very disturbing to realize that Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince are so different from one another.  Santo Domingo has multiple lane, restricted access highways, beautiful views of the ocean right along major thoroughfares, modern buildings, shopping malls, an aquarium, a zoo, Pizza Hut and Payless Shoes!!!  Port-au-Prince … … … doesn’t.  We were asking Karen some questions and she responded, “well, it’s a poor country.”  I was reminded that it really is, but the average annual income is twice that of Haiti.  You can see it in the environment.

We don't see many buildings like these in Haiti

We don’t see many buildings like these in Haiti

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Pastor Gwyneth Arrison, along with her daughter Faith, arrived with donations for the clinic.  They worked on several projects while they were here.  We appreciate all their hard work.

Gwyneth and Faith Arrison

Pastor Gwyneth and Faith Arrison

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This week was incredible, as we held our annual Christian Leadership Academy.  We’ve had some really great preachers minister at this event over the years.  This year was in keeping with that tradition.  Pastor Gary Collette and Bro. Dan Kramer were our keynote speakers.  Pastor Kevin and Pastor Gwyneth Arrison ministered, as well.

pastors praying over cloths

pastors praying over cloths

Bro Dan, Pastor Gary, Pastor Kevin

Bro Dan, Pastor Gary, Pastor Kevin

Pastor Kevin Groder

Pastor Kevin Groder

 

workshops

workshops

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This morning 9 people walked to the beach to meet up with Pastor Gary, Brother Dan and Pastor Lex to be baptized.

 

Baptisms this morning

Baptisms this morning

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The meetings came to a close this morning, with Pastor Gary’s dramatized message from Mark, chapters 1 and 2.  There was a paralyzed man whose friends wanted to get him to Jesus so that he would be healed.  The house where Jesus was was packed, so they made a hole in the roof and let the man down through the hole.  Pastor Gary brought out four points about this man’s friends that enabled the man to be healed.  They were compassionate, convicted, creative and cooperative.  He had some young men come up and demonstrate how difficult it can be to accomplish their goal without having these qualities and then how great it is when you do possess these qualities.

compassion, conviction, creativity and cooperation

compassion, conviction, creativity and cooperation

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Earlier in the week we took some to give gifts out to some children and their care takers.

Bringing gifts to the kids at Pastor Enoch's orphanage

Bringing gifts to the kids at Pastor Enoch’s orphanage

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The latest team from Bless Back Worldwide has finally arrived.  Their flight yesterday was canceled.  We are so glad they were able to make it today, even though it didn’t look like it was going to happen.  We have an extremely busy week planned with them:  medical and dental clinics in both St Etienne and Thozin, distributing first aid kits to parents of our elementary students and to our high school students – along with training in how to use them, English classes, fun with kids, teaching at a nursing school…  I’m sure there won’t be a dull moment.  Having lost a day and running on only a couple hours of sleep, they worked hard today getting organized to start clinics tomorrow.  Your prayer support for this team is really appreciated.  Thank you!

Bless Back Worldwide's Team Extreme

Bless Back Worldwide’s Team Extreme

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A few more pics from this past week:

Jesus loves the little children

Jesus loves the little children

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Madame Pelio with their beautiful baby girl

Madame Pelio with their beautiful baby girl

Diery and Dieunison

Diery and Dieunison

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Thank you for your part in touching so many lives, here in Haiti, with God’s love in 2013.

We wish each of you a New Year filled with goodness!

‘Twas the Week Before Christmas…

It’s been a busy week with remodeling and construction.  It’s so exciting to see the progress being made.

A new septic tank was constructed this week.  Contrary to my belief, we were able to get it done in time for church this morning.  Once it has set, men will climb into the small openings to remove the wood framing and metal poles that are holding the forms in place.

Building a new septic system...

Building a new septic system…

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Rough plumbing is now in place inside the new medical and dental rooms.  Now we are running the outdoor pipes that will go into the new septic tank.

plumbing at the school and medical clinic

plumbing at the school and medical clinic

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Door and window fabrication and installation were finished up this week.

Working on the doors and windows in the new clinic rooms

Working on the doors and windows in the new clinic rooms

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We received barrels this week from World Wide Lighthouse Missions (Manchester, CT) and Nora Walker (who received the Girl Scout Gold Award for her work getting school supplies to us).  Renord, Marie Ange, Lex and I worked hard unpacking and organizing school, office and medical supplies, musical instruments, peanut butter and more, just in time for Christmas.  Thank you!!!

Donations from Nora Walker and the Clifton Lutheran Church

Donations from Nora Walker and the Clifton Lutheran Church

Donations from the World Wide Lighthouse Missions

Donations from the World Wide Lighthouse Missions

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It costs $150 to ship a barrel from Boston to Haiti and there is no weight limit.  If your church, business or other organization would like to collect needed supplies and send them to be utilized here in Haiti, please contact us for more details.

Pastor Kevin Groder shared a message of encouragement at this morning’s service at the church in Thozin.  Gama did a great job translating, too.

Church service in Thozin

Church service in Thozin

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Pastor Lex preached in St. Etienne.  I see that Marie Yves’ baby, Tabitha, caught his attention.

Church service in St Etienne

Church service in St Etienne

Pastor Lex and Tabitha

Pastor Lex and Tabitha

The view around the church in St Etienne

The view around the church in St Etienne

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Wednesday we will be sharing Christmas day with several other missionary families here at the missionary compound.  In preparation, our family took a trip into the capitol city of Port-au-Prince to go grocery shopping.  There were some neat things to see along the way and we appreciated the effort the store put into decorating for the holidays.

Port-au-Prince

Port-au-Prince

Thank you so much to all of you who are giving to the children of Haiti this Christmas!  

We wish you all a very merry Christmas!!!

Changing Perceptions of Christmas

I hope you all are enjoying the Christmas season, along with the weather I so associate with Christmas.  My phone has a weather app on it and everyday is identical:  Grand-Goave, mostly sunny, 81°.  It does get down to about 70° in the middle of the night.  I like that – nice and cool.

Preschool Mama

Doudley and Alexis are rather attached.  Doudley's mom is one of our teachers in Thozin.

Doudley and Alexis are rather attached. Doudley’s mom is one of our teachers in Thozin.

That would be Alexis.  She teaches the preschoolers in Sunday school and spends WAY too much time with them every morning in the school yard.

Morning Commute

Each morning (unless there’s been tropical weather) I drive through this river.  It’s mostly a dry river bed with a couple of streams running down it.  Can you imagine that there are times when it is actually full of water, from bank to bank?!!!  All those mountains in the background are great rain catchers and they send the water down hill very fast.  It’s very hard to imagine during dry seasons.  While it’s dry, however, it makes my ride much more scenic and keeps me off the main road – which I really like.

My morning commute to the office...

My morning commute to the office…

 

Clinic

This week Angela had her hands full with some challenging cases.  We are thankful to our Sri Lankan friends from the UN Camp for sending us doctors to help with the load of caring for the sick.  We are looking forward to Bless Back Worldwide sending in a medical team at the beginning of the new year and Leah Fuller, RN will be returning to work full time in the clinics.  Later in January, our friends from Mission USA and the Chapel will be with us to unload and reconstruct the mobile medical clinic that they sent for us recently.  At that time we will get it stocked and organized, and begin using it.  That will be a monumental day, for sure!

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Nine of our students received dental care at the UN Camp in Leogane this week.

Nine of our students received dental care at the UN Camp in Leogane this week.

Christmas Gifts

chickensThis week is our last opportunity to purchase gifts in time for Christmas through MOHI’s online gift shop.  Chickens, goats, donkeys, cows, beds, class parties, fruit trees and more can be purchased on behalf of a friend or loved one and given to children in the Thozin and St Etienne neighborhoods where we work.  Click here to see how you can bless a child and a loved one with just one gift.

We have been blessed by the donations to build several homes this year for families that are still without a permanent home to live in after the earthquake.  Thanks to teams from Mission USA and Bless Back Worldwide, two more homes will be built in January.  If you would like to be a part of rebuilding our communities here in Grand-Goave and St Etienne, please contact us today.

The Michel family are enjoying the home provided for them by Bless Back Worldwide.

The Michel family is enjoying the home provided for them by Bless Back Worldwide.

Love Our Church Family

For me, church is all about the people.  I so enjoy the opportunity to love on everyone and worship together.  Here are some pictures from this morning’s service in Thozin:

Children's Ministry this morning in Thozin...

Children’s Ministry this morning in Thozin…

My favorite part of the Sunday morning worship service.  Lex learned this from Pastor Kerry Twing, "get out of your seat, find someone and tell them you're glad to see them this morning!"

One of my favorite parts of the Sunday morning worship service. Lex learned this from Pastor Kerry Twing, “get out of your seat, find someone, give them a hug and tell them you’re glad to see them this morning!”

Sweet times of worship in Thozin this morning

Sweet times of worship in Thozin this morning

Renee’s Christmas Journey

Being raised in a Jewish home, I didn’t grow up with any Christmas traditions. We celebrated Hanukkah. We lit the menorah each night for eight nights and, when I was little, my parents would give me a gift each day for eight days. I remember bragging to my friends that they only got Christmas gifts one day, but that I got Hanukkah gifts for eight days in a row. It wasn’t until I was invited to my friend, Lisa Jones’ home one Christmas morning, that I realized they got more presents in one day than I got in a whole year! I didn’t much mind, though, because I got to enjoy playing with Lisa and her siblings’ toys and I really just enjoyed being with them, mostly.

At the age of 18, I became a Christian – in my case, a Messianic Jew – a Jew who believes that the Messiah has already come. At this point in my life I came to learn that Christmas wasn’t about the gifts at all, but about the BEST Gift ever given – God’s Son Jesus, who was given to mankind. He was born of a virgin and lived as a human boy. He became a man and, at the age of thirty, was filled with the Holy Spirit and began performing miracles. Those who listened to Him learned to repent of their sin and follow Him. Upon His death on a cross and His resurrection from the dead, He provided eternal redemption for everyone who would believe in Him. This is what Christmas was really about. I never knew.

As a young adult, I learned from my pastor’s wife, Bev Long, that making Christmas cookies and a birthday cake for Jesus were some of her family’s Christmas traditions. I enjoyed taking part in this tradition with Bev, Patty, Debbie and Dee. We ate a lot of cookie dough and made a huge mess. It was tons of fun.

After Alexis was born, I read an article about the importance of establishing family traditions. So, I decided I would adopt Bev’s family traditions. This meant that I made cookies and let Alexis (as a 1 year old) play in the flour and dough. She was covered, head to toe. It was fun for her and I took great pleasure in that. The following year, I was VERY pregnant and on bed rest, so our developing traditions had to be put on hold for a bit. The following year, we moved to Haiti.

Lex was never much into holidays and once we moved to Haiti, I had already adapted to that way of thinking. I don’t recall ever being upset with him for not wishing me a happy Valentine’s Day or forgetting our wedding anniversary. They simply were never a part of our consciousness. We did, however, always made a big deal for our kids’ birthdays. We still do, but it’s mostly because THEY do and we know it’s important to THEM.

What about Christmas? This Christmas will, I believe, be our 14th Christmas in Haiti. Here, we have church activities on Christmas Eve. Sometimes it’s like a big talent show put on by the youth group. Other times, we have a night of prayer. Always, at midnight, we thank Jesus for His life and sacrifice for all mankind. Often times we have a meal together and get home very late…or early, as the case may be, on Christmas day.

In our home, no one wakes up early Christmas morning to open presents. On the contrary, we may take the opportunity to sleep in and may even take the day off. When the kids were little, I remember making a birthday cake for Jesus, asking Lex to tell the Christmas story, and sharing little packages of cookies with Alexis, A. Jay and a few of their special friends. As they got older, that tradition fell by the wayside. The celebration of Christmas was at the church on Christmas Eve and the kids enjoyed being a part of that – especially staying up until after midnight!

In Haiti, Christmas day is often spent visiting friends and relatives. Moms will often make an extra special meal, which means there is meat for everyone. Kids often go in search of their god parents, hoping to get a little gift or a couple of Haitian dollars from them, but in general, most kids do not view Christmas as a time to rake in the toys.

For missionaries on the foreign field, Christmas can often be a sentimental and somewhat difficult time, as families and traditions from home are missed. This year, our missionary compound will be open to missionaries serving in and around Grand-Goave. For those who miss baking, they can come join us Christmas morning, making all those special cookies they’ve made with their families over the years. We’ll also make a special dinner, although it’s not likely to be “traditional.” Perhaps we’ll make some new “Missionary” traditions, like swimming on Christmas day and always having BBQ ribs and grilled lobster for Christmas dinner.

Clinic and Church

This week we hosted a team from Clinicians of the World, founded by Dr. Rowlens Melduni. This organization is based in Rochester, Minnesota, but the team had people from may States (NC, GA, CT, MS, NY, CO). The team consisted of 13 medical personnel (MDs, PAs, RNs) and 7 others to support them. They worked in several of the remote areas of Grand-Goave, as well as seeing some patients in our clinic. Dr. Melduni is a Haitian-American cardiologist who has a heart for the people of Grand-Goave. We were blessed to be able to provide logistical support for his team. Angela and Tammy worked hard this week, inventorying our medical supplies.  We also had extra help this week from the UN medical staff that came to consult patients. Our compact camera died this week, so I have very few pictures to share with you. Unfortunately I have not found any pictures posted by the Clinicians of the World team yet that I could share with you either. I was able to get some pictures from this morning from Davidson. Pastor Edon had a fervent message for the church in Thozin this morning. Can people tell you’re a Christian by the way you behave? Christianity is more than going to church and saying you’re a Christian. As Mother Theresa once said, “Preach the Gospel everywhere you go. Use words when you have to.”

Worship Service in Thozin

Worship Service in Thozin

Children's Ministry

Children’s Ministry

Little friends from Be Like Brit

Little friends from Be Like Brit

We had a fun afternoon at the missionary compound. With no teams in right now, it was very quiet – for a while. THEN the fun began! It was so nice to have the children from Be Like Brit spend a couple of hours with us. I believe I was the blessed recipient of at least FORTY kisses – one from each of the kids and six from Fafane! Once the kisses were done, the kids got down to serious business. They hoola hooped, played with Saphira (the cat), punched and kicked Kevin’s punching bag, played a little soccer, played “school,” danced, chatted and explored. Chrislove and Mackenlove, who are both very accomplished hoola hoopers, were obviously excited to show off their skills to the other kids.

Lots of activities took place at the missionary compound today!

Lots of activities took place at the missionary compound today!

Christy is incredibly CUTE!

Christy is incredibly CUTE!

I hope you all are enjoying the Christmas season where you are. It looks like many of you have had some cold weather and frozen precipitation. We’ve had some cool evenings. It was 71 degrees when we came over the mountains from Jacmel earlier in the week. That area gets down into the 60s overnight at this time of year. No matter the weather, let’s all keep Jesus as the center of lives and celebrations. Merry Christmas!

71 degrees in the mountains on the way to Jacmel - 87 degrees in Jacmel - elevation makes a difference!

71 degrees in the mountains on the way to Jacmel – 87 degrees in Jacmel – elevation makes a difference!

A Bless Back Thanksgiving

This is our second year of celebrating Thanksgiving with a team from Bless Back Worldwide.  Since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, we still worked during the day on Thursday, but we had a wonderful feast and time of giving thanks in the evening with the team and some of our fellow missionaries from Grand-Goâve.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Throughout the week, the team kept us busy with medical and dental clinics, dental training in the school and teaching at the nursing school in Petit-Goâve.  It was wonderful to be a part of touching so many lives throughout the week.  The week ended with a food distribution in a very impoverished area of Grand-Goâve.  The people were so grateful for the food and enjoyed spending some special moments with the team.

Teaching at the nursing school in Petit-Goâve with Bless Back Worldwide

Teaching at the nursing school in Petit-Goâve with Bless Back Worldwide

Food Distribution in the Galèt

Food Distribution in the Galèt

Dental Clinic with Bless Back Worldwide at the St. Etienne Campus

Dental Clinic with Bless Back Worldwide at the St. Etienne Campus

Little Ones

Little Ones

The Blessed Back Worldwide Dental Training Team

The Blessed Back Worldwide Dental Training Team

Medical clinic with Blessed Back Worldwide

Medical clinic with Blessed Back Worldwide

A blessed week with the team from Bless Back Worldwide

A blessed week with the team from Bless Back Worldwide

Angela held her first seminar this week for the children’s ministry teachers.  They went over the lessons they will be teaching for the month and prepared the craft items together.

Children's Ministry Teacher Seminar

Children’s Ministry Teacher Seminar

As we said goodbye to the Bless Back Worldwide team yesterday, we said hello to another team.  Clinicians of the World will be staying with us for a week, while they conduct medical clinics in the mountain areas and with local orphans.  Friday they will work with us in the Thozin medical clinic.

Clinicians of the World packaging medicine for the mountain people

Clinicians of the World packaging medicine for the mountain people

Today we had another wonderful time of fellowship, worship and preaching here in Thozin.  Pastor Kevin Groder shared from the book of Matthew, the story of the master who went on a trip and entrusted his servants with his wealth.  He encouraged us to use whatever talents God has given us – don’t just leave them on the shelf, they are to be used for God’s glory.

Children's Ministry

Children’s Ministry

Sunday Morning at the Thozin Campus

Sunday Morning at the Thozin Campus

Ah, The Children

Sunday morning worship service in Thozin

Sunday morning worship service in Thozin

Sundays are really the highlight of the week for me.  I enjoy church, hearing the Word of God preached, worshiping in song and praying with my brothers and sisters.  I think my very favorite part though, is seeing the children.  In Matthew 18, Jesus talks about children and tells us that we should become like them.  As I observe the children, I realize how much joy they bring to me.  I pray that I bring joy to my Heavenly Father, too.

Cuties

Cuties

 

This morning several of the children were wearing tiaras and little Christy was dressed like royalty for her birthday – she’s two years old, now.  Renord borrowed one of the tiaras while he was doing some silly acting during children’s ministry this morning.  It was great fun!

There seemed to be an abundance of royalty present this morning in Thozin

There seemed to be an abundance of royalty present this morning in Thozin

In America we do a great job of teaching our children ownership and responsibility.  Here in Haiti, parents do a great job of teaching their children to share.  This is something that I see in my husband.  I don’t know that he knows how to finish a plate of food on his own.  No matter how hungry he is when he starts eating, if anyone else is around they are likely to eat some of it, as well.

Share...this is what we do

Share…this is what we do

Lex’s dad raised crops in huge gardens.  Lex told me how his dad came home one night with 8 small watermelons.  He put them out on the table.  All the children knew that he’d brought one for each of them and were eager to receive theirs.  However, he started cutting the watermelons and passing the pieces around to the children.  He told them that whatever they have to never keep it all for themselves.  Whatever God gives you is meant to be shared.  This is one of the many fundamental differences in our cultures that Lex and I have had to face.  To this day, he is MUCH better at sharing than I am.  For me, I give because I choose to (out of the “goodness” of my heart – ouch!).  For Lex, he gives because that’s what we do when we receive from the Lord.

Children's Ministry

Children’s Ministry

We’re excited to have another team from Bless Back Worldwide serving with us here in Haiti this week.  They arrived last night.  Tomorrow they begin medical and dental clinics.  Please pray for God’s wisdom and knowledge to be imparted to the care givers.  We’re grateful for God’s amazing provision!!!

The team from Bless Back Worldwide

The team from Bless Back Worldwide

Remodeling has begun to make room for two new rooms, one medical and one dental.  We have been digging to bring water into these rooms.  We’re doing the concrete finish on the ceiling and finishing the window frames.  One of the rooms used to be the director’s office.  We had to take down all the shelving and relocate the library books, too.

Let the work begin! - dental and medical rooms in Thozin

Let the work begin! – dental and medical rooms in Thozin

Tammy and Pelio pack the library books

Tammy and Pelio pack the library books

It’s so cool to see the growth in the medical ministry here at MOHI.  We miss Leah, but Angela has still had lots of others working with her.  This week several UN Peacekeepers assisted, as well as Kristin who was here for three weeks at the Be Like Brit orphanage.  We are grateful for all the team work!!!

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An old friend is back.  Colonel Nandana was here in Haiti with the third Sri Lankan contingent in 2009.  Now, he has returned as the commanding officer for all the Sri Lankan Peacekeepers in Haiti.  We were honored to give him a tour of the new school and show him a bit of the medical ministry.  The school kids loved seeing his men up close.

Colonel Nandana, commander of the UN Peacekeepers from Sri Lanka

Colonel Nandana, commander of the UN Peacekeepers from Sri Lanka

The Thozin School

The Thozin School

Pastor Kevin and Tammy Groder are back from their quick trip to the States.  Kevin was able to have some medical tests done, which showed that he has a herniated and bulging disc in his back – the source of the pain he’s been experiencing for about 9 months now.  While it’s very painfully, it doesn’t look like it requires surgery.  Please join us in praying for healing and relief from the pain.  Thank you.

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Overflowing Thankfulness

I’d like to start out today with pictures of this week’s cuties.  They are the ones who help us to get up every morning and face hardships without wavering!

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God has blessed us with so many wonderful friends and partners over the years.  I am so grateful for each and every one of them.  Mission of Hope International would never be making the impact it is today, if God hadn’t brought us all together.  How cool is this?!!!!

 

As we approach the American Thanksgiving holiday, I have been praying for you all and thanking the Lord for you.  Individuals who believed in the vision from the very beginning committed to pray and give regular donations to help get this work on its feet.  I think of the people the Lord used as His mouthpiece to advise us along the way.  When the right decisions to make seemed contrary to what we’d always known, there were words of confirmation coming at us at every turn and so we stepped out into unfamiliar territory time and time again.

All the times that I needed a friend, I found one.

 

I remember how Lennie and Amy Engman opened their homes and their lives to us.  We’d gone to church together for years, but we didn’t know each other, at all.  How many times we have called on them over the years!  They were grandparents for our children and counsellors for Lex and I.  Amy provided so much motherly wisdom to me, as I endeavored to raise children in two different cultures.  To this day we can call on them, day or night, and KNOW that they will do everything they can to help us.  God has provided for us in incredible ways!!!

 

In the early days in Haiti, we really had nothing.  Every time we returned to the States, David and Jane Case (another couple who didn’t know us from a hole in the wall!) would buy us all new underwear, shoes, clothing, soap, shampoo – all the basics that we needed, but had no money to purchase.  Again, that was God’s provision for us, but it took willing souls to make it happen.

Hundreds have supported this mission with financial gifts.  Some, I have never even met, but the Lord knows each and every one of you.  I pray that His blessings overtake you!

 

Over the years the Lord has brought people of kindred spirit to encourage us and work alongside us.  Many have put their hands to work, constructing the school, restaurant, transitional houses and permanent homes.  Others have worked with our school teachers, students, pastors, nurses, mechanics, carpenters, masons, administrators, etc – sharing their knowledge to help our friends to learn even more.

 

I think of our amazing board members, Gloria Harvell, Carlos Pereira and Gama Parayson, who use their skills to help run this ministry.  They all work full time and have responsibilities at home and in church and yet they all put in extra effort to ensure MOHI is running smoothly.  Thank you JESUS for these special people!

I am blessed with an amazing husband, Alexis, A. Jay, Gama, Angela and Nathan, who are all missionaries at heart.  I thank God that He has brought along our dear friends Kevin and Tammy Groder and our new friend, Leah Fuller, to join in serving Him full time in this place that we all love so much.

 

Many organizations have partnered with us over the years, too.  Some have partnered for specific projects and others in a long-term relationship.  All are so valued!

 

Today I want to share with you a little about our partnership with Bless Back Worldwide (BBW).  BBW has been sending teams to us for just over a year now.  They focus on medical missions, but also do quite a bit of teaching, children’s ministry and soccer clinics.  They have been helping to build homes for families in need (remember, about 70% of the buildings in Grand-Goâve were destroyed in the earthquake!) and paying for surgeries and other medical needs.

 

We spent time with most of the leadership and board members of BBW while we were in Charlotte this September.  Talk about people of “like precious faith!”  I must say, we were exhausted from all the questions when we left Charlotte, but we were also very encouraged to be partnering with an organization that desires to learn and adapt to a culture that they admittedly do not know.  (FYI, they are quick learners and know an awful lot about Haitian culture already!)

A recent team from Bless Back Worldwide

A recent team from Bless Back Worldwide

 

I remember one of the board members asking us, “What is priority for you right now.”  Knowing that they focus mostly on medical missions, I so wanted to respond with something medical in nature, but that really wasn’t the case.   Lex and I knew very well that our priority was to finish the new school in Thozin, so that’s what we told them.

 

I will never forget Jane Case telling Lex, “You have not because you ask not!”  She was referring to James 4:2.  Without preaching a whole message, (which I could so do right now!) maybe we all should consider what she said.  No, we shouldn’t go around asking people for their stuff, but I know most people would love to bless someone with something they need – they just need to know that it’s needed!  Sharing this need with BBW enabled them to consider the need and decide if/how they wanted to help.

 

The “fear” I felt, sharing our real priority with them, was that they might feel that we didn’t appreciate the medical missions that they focus on.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Lives are regularly being saved and changed through medical missions.  It has been a part of our vision since the beginning.

 

God is so good to us!  Our friends at BBW have decided to partner with us in completing the basics of the first phase of the school, as well as transforming a couple of our other rooms into medical and dental patient facilities.  Praise God!  We are so excited and thankful!

 

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The timing worked out such that Paul Fallon (yes, architect extraordinaire!) was here with the last BBW team and he was able to hear from them what they were looking for in this facility.  Paul has been such an amazing help to us since the earthquake.  He has designed buildings and done estimates and overseen work for the past three years.  We are so grateful for his continued role in the construction projects.  Alan Roseberry, who put in all the rough plumbing in the school, plans to be here to do the finish plumbing, as well as the plumbing for the medical/dental rooms.  Yay!

 

We are currently planning to fabricate a septic system in the driveway of the Thozin campus (see picture below).  This will require that we block off the front entrance area, so no one gets hurt.  This week we built stairs to the back door, which is never used, but will be now!  We will begin some demolishing (just unfinished floors) to accommodate bringing water into the medical/dental rooms this week.  Electrical conduit continues to be installed and benches continue to be built.

 

Here are some more pictures of this week’s activities…

 

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20131117 mohi church th1

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As most of you know, my husband believes in being grateful.  He often speaks of the woman from Michigan who sponsored him in school when he was growing up.  He would love to know who she is so he can give her a hug and say “thank you” for giving him an education.  There was a couple from his little village in la Gonave, Maleguy, which also played a major role in his childhood.  They pastored the local church and made sure the kids were in school and eating.  The pastor passed away several years ago, but the wife, Madame Pastor Boulou just passed on a couple of weeks ago.  Lex and some others left by boat yesterday to be a part of the funeral today.

 

I found it interesting that as Lex spoke of her, he did not show any sadness at her death.  There’s a general understanding among all “her kids” (Lex included) that she lived a full life in service to Jesus, completed it well and has now gone home.  It’s a joyous occasion!  They are happy for her!

 

Would you join me in praying for our friends at Mission E4 today.  Several of them were involved in an automobile accident in Marlborough, MA yesterday.  Two remained hospitalized.   I pray the Lord touch them and bring healing to both their minds and bodies.

Welcome Back to Ed

It’s great to see our friend Ed Locket back in Haiti. He spent a long time away and returned this week with a group from Rock Bridge Community Church (GA). This group has obviously been well trained by Ed in the arts of playing, singing, dancing and snuggling. The volume they were able to get out of our preschool classes was just amazing. They blessed many of the older elementary students with notebooks and also gave a donation for the school in St. Etienne. Thank you!!!

Ed Locket and guests descended on the Thozin campus with song and fun!

Ed Locket and guests descended on the Thozin campus with song and fun!

Now that we have supplies available (thank you to all the donors and teams that have carried them in!) the children are able to have a craft time during Children’s Ministry Sunday mornings.

Craft Time

Craft Time

In the new school building, the kids can gather all together in the activity for a time of prayer and worship, before going to individual classrooms, divided by age.

Prayer and worship in the children's ministry this morning.

Prayer and worship in the children’s ministry this morning.

The arrival of the new mobile medical clinic means many supplies have arrived, as well. The items for MOHI will be unpacked in January when our friends from the Chapel (OH) arrive. However, we were able to unload some special items for our friends from Archaie already.

Joe, from the COBBA orphanage in Archaie came to pick up goodies that were sent in the mobile medical clinic last week.

Joe, from the COBBA orphanage in Archaie came to pick up goodies that were sent in the mobile medical clinic last week.

Besides school happening daily, there’s always some other kind of work going on in the yard.  This week we had a lot of bench building going on.  We’re so grateful for all of you who have given towards the church benches.  We also needed more school benches.

More benches built this week!

More benches built this week!

Well, I guess it’s payback time.  Kevin, Tammy and Leah held down the fort while we strolled around America.  Now they are in the States while we and Angela stay on the front lines.  I suppose it’s fair enough, but I do miss them being here to toss ideas around with and be silly.

Oh how I would have loved to have had them here 13 years ago, when we were brand new to Grand-Goâve.  There were many times that I felt there was no one who understood what I was going through.  When I think about those times, verses from the book of James come to mind: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NLT)  Well, I’m still far from perfect, but I can honestly say that I am approaching that “needing nothing” stage.  I’m amazed at how content I have become.  The Lord is truly my everything.

This theme has been reverberating in our church in Thozin since last Sunday night, when we broke out in a spontaneous song, singing “Be my everything!”  Again this morning, the church lifted their voices in worship, acknowledging that He is our everything.  “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NLT)

Here are some pics from this morning.  Soooo good!

The after church crowd!

The after church crowd!

Prayer and worship in the general assembly this morning.

Prayer and worship in the general assembly this morning.