Welcome Back Bless Back Worldwide!

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

School in St Etienne

Some school staff and students

Some school staff and students in Thozin

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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.

Medical clinic

Medical clinic

Preparing the mobile medical clinic to work in St Etienne next week

Preparing the mobile medical clinic to work in St Etienne next week

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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.

This home is almost complete now.

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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.

Work in the medical and dental rooms continues.

The team from Bless Back Worldwide (Charlotte, NC)

The team from Bless Back Worldwide (Charlotte, NC)

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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!

Activity Room

Activity Room

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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?

Renée's office

Renée’s office

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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.

Pablo and his friends work in Aquin, Haïti.

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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)

These dear sisters from Aquin delivered a barrel of clothing and notebooks from Emery & Jeannita Gaudet (Leominster, MA)

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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

Our new friends from Helping to Heal Haiti

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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

Solar installation at the missionary compound

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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*

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Cuties at Church

Cuties at Church

Children's ministry in Thozin

Children’s ministry in Thozin

Sunday morning worship in Thozin

Sunday morning worship in Thozin

A Quick Update

Just some quick updates for you tonight:

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

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

Clinic with Leah and Tammy

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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

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

Renee’s office to be

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We had another great week of school. One of the great motivators for all of the missionaries here at MOHI are the little ones…

Cuties!!!

Cuties!!!

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

high school seniors cutting loose

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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

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

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

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

tiling the activity room

cabinet work in the new medical 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

Welding frames for solar panels at the missionary compound

University of Akron Team

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

University of Akron team

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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 and fun often go hand in hand at MOHI!

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Work on the school and clinic rooms continued this week, as well…

Junior assembling a desk.

Junior assembling a desk.

This week we started laying tile in the administrative offices.

This week we started laying tile in the administrative offices.

medical room cabinets are coming right along.

medical room cabinets are coming right along.

We now have sinks in the kitchen!

We now have sinks in the kitchen!

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The life of all we do can be found in serving the Lord…

Make a joyful noise!

Make a joyful noise!

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We have the most amazing kids in our schools…

The future is looking bright!

The future is looking bright!

A little timid today, but great debaters tomorrow!

A little timid today, but great debaters tomorrow!

Have you ever seen such big eyes?!!!

Have you ever seen such big eyes?!!!

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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!!!

Women’s Conference

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

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

Clinic in Thozin

A full day of clinic in St Etienne

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.

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.

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

Making doors and moldings, painting and new valves for water feeds

Aquaponics, plumbing and covering drainage area

Aquaponics, plumbing and covering drainage area

cabinets in the dental room

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!

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.

A wonderful time was enjoyed by all at the women’s conference in Thozin.

Women's Conference

Women’s Conference

MOHI "Dance Troupe"

MOHI “Dance Troupe”

heading to church

heading to the church

Team G3 sent each woman at the conference home with rice and beans.

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.

The team went out into a village to distribute food and visit with our neighbors.

So grateful for help sorting shoes, sneakers and sandals!

So grateful for help sorting shoes, sneakers and sandals!

Love those little ones!

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!

Goofy missionaries!!!

Goofy missionaries!!!

After church fun - kittens and brownies!

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!

My “Old” Friend

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

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

Story time and music instruction

Our first ever primary school concert at the MOHI school in Thozin

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

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.

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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

The team from All Saints Church with their newly sponsored class

We can always make time for snuggling!

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

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!

Let’s see if we can stop the flooding!

laptop fun time

laptop fun time

MOHI Medical Clinic

MOHI Medical Clinic

Livening up the rockers

Livening up the rockers

Building cabinets in the school and clinic

Building cabinets in the school and clinic

New bathrooms and an office

New bathrooms and an office

Demolishing the Kreyol urinals.  YAY!!!

Demolishing the Kreyol urinals. YAY!!!

This morning in Thozin

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!!!

Variety of Work

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

Preparing crafts for lessons in the primary grades

CDS aquaponics project

CDS aquaponics project

CDS students enjoy classes with their Haitian counterparts

CDS students enjoy classes with their Haitian counterparts

CDS in the classroom

CDS in the classroom

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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?!!!

Will Angelise learn how to drive the three-wheeler?!!!

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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.

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Mother and daughter?

Mother and daughter?

Starting to feel better

Starting to feel better

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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!

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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

Checking out a Kindle Reader

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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

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

Our missionary friends from the Hands and Feet Project are a vital part of the church in Thozin

LOVE the kiddies

LOVE the kiddies…and the tee shirt in the middle pic!

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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.

Tiles in the classrooms and hall

Tiles in the classrooms and hall

Cleaning up from the flooding

Cleaning up from the flooding

Repairing power tools

Repairing power tools

That’s What Faith Can Do

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!

Congratulations Leah and Tammy. Job well done!

New restrooms in the school yard

New restrooms in the school yard

Electrical work being done in the school kitchen

Electrical work being done in the school kitchen

Some of our high school students

Some of our high school students

Some of our preschool kids

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, 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.

Pastor Kevin shared a message with the church in Thozin this morning.

Paul serves the children food each day at school.

Paul serves the children food each day at school.

Special fawns to recover the choukoun are coming all the way from beautiful Jacmel.

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.

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)

 

Old Friends and New Progress

I’m so proud of our students who come to school each day, despite the often difficult circumstances they regularly face. Many of them live in thatch or tarp homes and have only one uniform. Yet, they manage to come to school clean and sharp looking. With the help of our administrators, teachers, parents and kitchen staff, the children have been doing really well in school. Each year the percentage of students passing national exams is very impressive. So many students in Grand-Goâve don’t pass the high school exams and so they return year after year after year. Eventually they pass or give up. Over the past three years, 100% of our high school seniors have passed their national exams.

Preschool and Philo (final year of high school)

Preschool and Philo (final year of high school)

Love those kiddos!

Love those kiddos!

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We’ve gotten a lot of work done this week at the Thozin campus. The electrical work in the medical and dental rooms is now complete.

Progress on the medical and dental rooms

Progress on the medical and dental rooms

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Leah and Tammy put in another full week of inventory, between seeing patients who had scheduled appointments and some other sick folks.

Nurse Leah

Nurse Leah

Inventory, patients and electricians - These ladies are amazing!

Inventory, patients and electricians – These ladies are amazing!

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Paul and Junior will continue with the electrical in the school tomorrow. The doors and windows have been going in the school all week. As you can see in the picture, they’re looking great!

Paul and Junior continue plugging away at the electrical

Paul and Junior continue plugging away at the electrical

Doors, windows and tile in the school

Doors, windows and tile in the school

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We built transitional bathrooms after the earthquake. The plywood floor has been starting to wear and really needed to be replaced. Rather than put more money into a temporary fix, this week we began building a new permanent bath house.

Making room for new bathrooms

Making room for new bathrooms

Bathrooms going up

Bathrooms going up

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The carpeting for the library and computer room has arrived in great shape. Now, we need someone to install it for us. We had someone lined up, but the carpet didn’t arrive in time. If you, or someone you know is experienced at laying carpet (it will be glued to the concrete floor) and would consider coming to Haiti to do this, please contact us by email or leave a message at (978)410.9101 and we’ll get back to you.

Carpeting for the library and computer rooms

Carpeting for the library and computer rooms

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These kids are going to LOVE working on the laptops in such a special room!

Computer club

Computer club

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It’s always a blessing when we have friends come to visit who were here in the early days. Don Haas and Marie Richard spent the week with us. Don ministered in music, preached and worked with our musicians during the week. Marie edified the church on several occasions, as well. The Holy Spirit was present in these services and many people were touched.

sweet spirit at church this morning

sweet spirit at church this morning

Sunday School - This class sings and claps louder than all the others!

Sunday School – This class sings and claps louder than all the others!

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Pastor Lex was able to minister at the church in St Etienne this morning. Although it appears that hardly anyone lives in the area, the church was once again full.

Church in St Etienne

Church in St Etienne

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We had a quiet lunch and then enjoyed the company of friends from the Hands and Feet Project. They often bring the kids down to go swimming on Sunday afternoons. It was a pleasant time of fellowship for the missionaries from both organizations.

A quiet lunch with Don Haas, Marie Richard, Angela and Nathan

A quiet lunch with Don Haas, Marie Richard, Angela and Nathan

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We are looking forward to the arrival of our new friends from the Covenant Day School (Charlotte, NC) later this week. They have some exciting plans for us, including an aquaponics project in Thozin. Please remember us in prayer, trusting the Lord to use us to reflect His light and love to everyone we encounter. Thank you!!!

 

Check out the Tiles!

Tiling has started in the new school building.

Tiling has started in the new school building.

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Thanks to donations from our friends at Mission USA and Firebrand Technologies, we were able to begin tiling some of the floors at the school. The kitchen, bathrooms, downstairs hallway and two classrooms are covered. The floors are looking incredible!  What a difference some tile makes!  We have funding for two classrooms, but still need to raise funds for 6 more (along with the adjacent gallery areas) and the administrative offices. Would your office or church group like to help us finish the floors? Please consider holding a fundraiser to tile a classroom ($800) or the administrative suite ($1600). We are getting close to the end of this first phase of construction. Please help us to finish strong. Thank you!

Adam Holt and a small team from Kids Unleashed paid us a visit this week.

Adam Holt and a small team from Kids Unleashed paid us a visit this week.

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We have started up two more laptop classes for our primary students in Thozin. Cledson Jean and Davidson Edmond are leading these classes, thanks to some training from Sora Edwards. Adam Holt, who first launched the program for us, was here this week with a small team. I’d love to tell you exactly what they did, but… well… I’m not such a tech wiz. It had something to do with updating the XOs and doing something to the server. Adam spent some time with the kids and our new trainers, as well.

Leah and Tammy have been working long hours all week, inventorying clinic supplies.

Leah and Tammy have been working long hours all week, inventorying clinic supplies.

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This has been a really hard week for Leah, as she has taken on a huge undertaking: inventorying the medical supplies for the clinic. Tammy has been right in there with her, putting in long days. So long, as a matter of fact, that I heard they’ve turned into opera singers and no longer talk in the clinic, but sing to each other. (*smile*)

The new missionary kitchen is almost complete!

The new missionary kitchen is almost complete!

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Boss Wiliere and his assistants put in a lot of hours this week, as well. They’ve been building cabinets for our new missionary kitchenette. For those of you who know the compound, it is located at the top of the stairs and will allow our long-term missionaries some flexibility with their meals. We get lots of compliments on the menu from teams coming in, but honestly, rice and beans, beans and rice, rice and bean sauce… We need to shake it up a little from time to time. And for Tammy and I, preparing meals for our families goes a long way toward making us feel like good homemakers, too.

Doald Haas and Marie Richard will be ministering at MOHI for just over a week.

Doald Haas and Marie Richard will be ministering at MOHI for just over a week.

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We were happy to welcome back Donald Haas and Marie Richard. Both had been with us years earlier. Donald set up our recording studio and trained Maestro Odenet how to use it. Marie was here when the UN Peacekeepers first arrived in Haiti. I still remember all those Barbie dolls she brought with her and all those happy little girls who received them. This week they will be ministering in the Thozin church. They started out this morning, with a full house.

A great morning at church!

A great morning at church!

Love our babies!!!

Love our babies!!!

We hosted a team from Mission E4 at the missionary compound this week. They were a pleasure for us to care for – very appreciative of our efforts and constantly lending a hand. It was a joy to see Scott’s older two children, Taran (along with his wife and 2 year old son) and Morgan. We thank God for like-minded, fellow servants. The night before they left, Lex and I brought one of the team members up to the Hands and Feet Project to meet Mark Stuart (former singer from Audio Adrenaline). To our surprise, the whole band was there. The Hands and Feet Project was ROCKIN’!!!

Oh So Good!

I so often feel like I’m repeating myself.  Perhaps people think I’m writing clichés?  But this is my life.  Week after week after week, it’s just amazing.  God sends the right people to accomplish what needs to be done.  We work HARD and we LOVE it!!!  It’s OH SO GOOD!!!

The team from Mission USA headed back to Akron on Thursday.  They ended up just as strong as they started, finishing up the plumbing and counter tops, roofing and dedicating a house, distributing food and providing healthcare to so many in need, visiting people in their homes and performing maintenance tasks…  I can’t even tell you everything they did, but mostly I know that they shared God’s love with us, our staff, friends and neighbors.  We are so grateful that they were able to touch so many and accomplish so much.

Most of the Mission USA team

Most of the Mission USA team

teacher desks assembled by Mission USA team

teacher desks assembled by Mission USA team

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Pastor Kevin became Plumber Kevin after the team left.  They gave us a wringer washer which, of course, none of us were familiar with using.  Leah volunteered to be the guinea pig and they figured out how to wash her clothes.  Plumber Kevin then went on to install several new faucets on bathroom sinks – including mine!   YAY!!!

figuring out the new wringer washer

figuring out the new wringer washer

Plumber Kevin

Plumber Kevin

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Linda Robbins, Tim and Shanda Gobeli had an extra special mission to accomplish while they were here.  They reached out to the disabled in our community.  Dozens of people were fitted for wheel chairs and other mobility assisting devices.  They were all prayed with and loved on and Linda, who is a physical therapist, was able to teach them some exercises to help them gain strength and combat pain.  Maestro Odenet set aside a day to take Tim and Shanda from house to house, visiting members of the association.  They shared the Good News and prayed, laughed and cried.  It was a very special day for everyone involved.

A. Jay and Linda Robbins

A. Jay and Linda Robbins

Tim and Shanda Gobeli, with Cledson, Maestro Odenet and his son, Nelthon.

Tim and Shanda Gobeli, with Cledson, Maestro Odenet and his son, Nelthon.

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In the midst of all the excitement with this team, we were still able to move forward with the medical/dental renovations and school completion.  This week some of the floors were completed, tile work was started in the bathrooms and fans and lights were installed in some of the rooms.

Fans and lighting fixtures in the dental clinic

Fans and lighting fixtures in the dental clinic

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This morning’s church service in Thozin was really awesome.  We were not expecting Lex to be here this morning, but his plans changed and he was able to come back early and join us.  I’m so glad he was!!!  He felt he had a special message for the church this morning.  It may not sound like mighty revelation to everyone, but it was just what the Doctor ordered for our church.  He spoke of conviction, faith and perseverance.  He talked about decisions being made out of our convictions (so be careful who you let convict you!), how faith is based on that conviction and the importance of persevering through all those opportunities to give up that flood our minds at times.  In concluding his message, he did some role playing with people in the church.  It was hilarious and enlightening, as many of us were able to identify ourselves in the various roles being acted out.  It was a “fun” way of being convicted.

Play acting grabs everyone's attention

Play acting grabs everyone’s attention

Surely, the presence of the Lord is in this place!

Surely, the presence of the Lord is in this place!

Cuties at the church in Thozin this morning

Cuties at the church in Thozin this morning

Oh how the people here LOVE to have a shoeshine!

Oh how the people here LOVE to have a shoeshine!

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This week we are hosting a team from Mission E4 at the missionary compound, while they go out to work at their orphanage/school sites in Lacul and Fauche.  Scott Long (Mission E4′s founder) and I go back a LONG way (- the pun really was not intended).  Scott’s mom and dad prayed with me when I made the decision to follow Jesus and helped to lay a strong spiritual foundation in my life.  I actually lived with Scott’s family on two different occasion, beginning when he was about 16.  His sister and I also rented an apartment together.  It’s so cool to see how our lives are still bumping into each other.  All our staff here know him as “Madame Lex’s brother.”

While the team was away today, we ended up having a spontaneous missionary lunch upstairs with Kevin, Tammy, Leah, Gama, Angela, Nathan and my family.  We used the new flat grill from Mission USA to make grilled cheese sandwiches (a REAL treat, since we can’t usually purchase cheese here in Grand-Goâve!) and stir fried veggies.  While the food we serve our teams is raved about, it gets old after months of eating it, so the change of pace was a real boost to our morale today.

Grilled cheese sandwiches and stir fried veggies.  YUM!!!

Grilled cheese sandwiches and stir fried veggies. YUM!!!

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Congratulations to Gama and Angela, who are expecting another little one!

Gama, Angela and Nathan Parayson

Gama, Angela and Nathan Parayson

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This week, the medical clinic will be closed for inventory.  Pastor Kevin has designed a database to track our meds, so between Leah, Angela and Tammy, we’re hoping to have everything counted and entered into the new system.

I want to mention how proud I am of my children, Alexis and A. Jay.  They have been working so hard with our teams translating, while going to school and keeping up on other activities.   And as many of you can attest to, they are GREAT translators!  It blesses me that they help so willingly and really enjoy getting to know so many people.  I could never find someone to fill in the gaps the way these two do.  I have to wonder what God will do when they head off to college.  YIKES!!!

Happy birthday to A. Jay, who turned 16 this week!!!

A. Jay and Alexis Edmé

A. Jay and Alexis Edmé

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I love to share with you about all the really cool and wonderful things happening here at MOHI, but that doesn’t mean we live on a cloud of goodness.  Just like you, we are in the midst of a spiritual battle.  Sometimes the emotional burden (whether our own or more often from concern for others) can wear heavy on those of us here full time. We need to be reminded regularly to cast those burdens on the One who cares for us.  Please do remember us in prayer.  Lex, Alexis, A. Jay, Kevin, Tammy, Leah, Gama, Angela, Nathan and I are strong in the Lord, not in our own might.  Your support through prayer is so appreciated.  Thank you.