Fledgling Democracy

The Duvaliers, Baby Doc on the left and Papa Doc on the right (www.telegraph.co.uk)

The Duvaliers, Baby Doc on the left and Papa Doc on the right (www.telegraph.co.uk)

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It’s been 30 years since the Duvalier regime was cast out of Haiti.  History records those years as very brutal, where tens of thousands of Haitians were slaughtered by the regime.  If recorded accurately (I have no reason to think otherwise), it was a very sad season, indeed.

 

 

Former President Michel Martelly with his wife, Sophia.

Former President Michel Martelly with his wife, Sophia.

 

Since that time, democracy has been trying to take hold.  It’s been a rough path.  Today was to be the inauguration of a new president.  Unfortunately, President Martelly stepped down without an immediate replacement.  There is a transitional plan in affect and we are praying that things go as they should.  Would you join your prayers with ours for this beloved country?

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In the meantime life goes on at MOHI.  Our students had a good week of school and the clinic staff attended to many who were ill.

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We also held another outreach.  This time we helped out an area called Tomb Gateau.  I’m always so thrilled about these events, especially when it’s 100% Haitians reaching out.  Our team experiences such joy and a sense of fulfillment.  This time, Dr. Emmanuel invited a colleague of his, Dr. Michel, to be a part of the mobile clinic in Tomb Gateau, too.  This thrills me that others are wanting to be a part of helping their brothers and sisters in need.  We are so grateful to all of you who are supporting MOHI so that we can continue to reach out.  Thank you.

A cutie who got some help at Tomb Gateau

A cutie who got some help at Tomb Gateau

Cutie

Cutie

Dr. Michel

Dr. Michel

Doctors consulting with patients in Tomb Gateau

Doctors consulting with patients in Tomb Gateau

Nurse Ruth in the pharmacy at Tomb Gateau

Nurse Ruth in the pharmacy at Tomb Gateau

Great Start to a Great Year!

After a month full of constant visitors (as many as 85 sleeping at once!), and an event that brought over 400 people to the missionary compound, we were finally able to take a little breather this week.  I have to admit, though, that I really enjoyed every team we had in this month – many old friends and numerous new ones, too.

Amy took some really nice photos of our older students this week that I’d like to share with you.  I am just beaming with pride as I see how these kids are becoming adults right before my eyes.  Overall I feel like our high school students have really taken a step up in how they behave, their appreciation of the education they are receiving, and in the sense of pride they have in their school.

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Alexis has been a great help to us all month.  She helped host all the teams and did some cooking, too.  Yesterday I decided to make some peanut butter.  Natalie grilled the peanuts and then I blended up a batch.  I am particularly fond of the Haitian peanut butter that has hot pepper in it, so I tried the same.  It came out great.  Alexis and Claudeson made the rest so I could get back to the “real” work that I do.

Alexis visits a classroom with a team from TOHH

Alexis visits a classroom with a team from TOHH

Making Mamba (peanut butter)

Making Mamba (peanut butter)

Speaking of “real” work – I send out monthly receipt letters to all of our wonderful donors.  Should you need another copy of a receipt letter for tax purposes, please drop me a note at support @mohintl.org and I’ll get it right out to you.

Our nephew Gama and his wife Angela held the grand opening of their ministry, Tree of Hope Haiti this past week.  We were honored to be a part of the celebration and to be a part of their story.  According to Gama’s presentation, Tree of Hope is about community development and focuses on three areas: providing clean drinking water, shelter, and looking for sponsors to help more kids to be able to go to school.

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Since she has now made her decision public I can introduce you all to Angie Shepherd.  Angie is a Physicians Assistant from Charlotte, NC, who also volunteers with Bless Back Worldwide. She has felt the Lord leading her to come to Haiti full time.  We are excited about this move for her and are anticipating that she will join us at MOHI in Haiti this May.  She will be bringing heaps of knowledge and experience to the table, as she leads our medical team reaching out and providing even more and better services to our students, neighbors, and surrounding communities.

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The round pavilion at the missionary compound (aka choukoun) serves as the “living room” for our teams.  It’s such a lovely spot to sit and fellowship right in front of the ocean.  Many have even strung their hammocks between the columns and slept there during their stay here.  Unfortunately, we have roofed and re-roofed it several times, but each time it has had leaks.  We finally decided to remove the prawns and cover it with metal roofing.  Perhaps not as aesthetically pleasing, but much more practical.  We’d like the roof to last for more than a couple of years!  Here’s what I refer to as “the naked roof.”

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When purchasing property in Haiti, there are ways that you stake your claim and invite anyone to challenge your ownership.  This is usually done by building a wall.  A wall costs a lot of money, so we are staking our claim using an alternative method:  working the land.  Since we need to start fundraising in order to start building, we have invested some funds in gardening the lot until we are ready to start construction.  The beans are already growing, as you can see in these pictures.

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Thank you so much for remembering us and Haiti in prayer.  Today we are praying for understanding and wisdom for all leaders here in Haiti.  We are also praying for you and mostly thanking the Lord for you.  God bless you!!!

 

 

 

Blessing Back Again and Again

Amy and I are debating over the temperature here in Grand-Goâve this afternoon.  Her phone shows that it’s 73 degrees.  My thermometer shows that it’s 75.  We did agree, however, that there is definitely a wind chill that’s making a huge difference.  It’s very windy.  The ocean is high, wild, and LOUD.  We are grateful, however, that Jonas is not dumping any snow on us.

The missionary compound at 73 o75 degrees, but most certainly with a relative temp of 68!

The missionary compound at 73 o75 degrees, but most certainly with a relative temp of 68!

 

We had a wonderful time with a great team from Bless Back Worldwide this week.  The entire month has been incredible with so many people coming to volunteer.  We are grateful for each and everyone!

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Tuesday we had a new event, a men’s health day.  There were teachings and projects and visits with our medical staff.  It was very well received by the men who participated.  It was special to see the men grasping some new ideas and appreciating the words of encouragement.

 

 

Men's Health Day

Men’s Health Day

 

 

Lisa and Chris (pictured here) were also assisted by Georgia.

Lisa and Chris (pictured here) were also assisted by Georgia.

 

Medical services were provided by the team all week long and included dental, eyes and physical therapy, as well.  Our eyeglass clinic officially began this week, thanks to Bless Back’s donations and training!

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Linda using her skills in physical therapy

Linda using her skills in physical therapy

 

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Training for eye exams

 

There was also a week-long project with different men called “Make It – Take It.”  This was a fun time for everyone involved, as the men learned to make a small table or bookshelf.  This is where we found some of the biggest smiles.

Make It and Take It

Make It and Take It

Having said that, there were lots of smiles in Kids Camp, too.

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Georgia's always popular with the young ones!

Georgia’s always popular with the young ones!

 

We visited Paillant with the Bless Back team and saw over 80 patients and distributed rice to many more.

Dental Care in Paillant

Dental Care in Paillant

Preparing rice for distribution in Paillant

Preparing rice for distribution in Paillant

Bless Back teams always like to visit our neighbors in the Gallet, too.

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The team put in extra effort to do some much appreciated organizing and restocking in the clinic before they left.

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organizing

Not only do the Bless Back teams do amazing things for and with the Haitian people, but they also have a way of leaving us feeling encouraged.  We appreciate the many individuals that have returned several times now (Lisa, Angie, Jaime, Kelsi, Linda, Josh, Dr. Chris, Dr. Carmen, Dr. Mike, Ben, Odlin, Georgia, Georgia) who are really investing in the long-term well-being of the Haitian people.  And of course we love to see first timers come and work hard, while absorbing the many wonders of a foreign culture.  Today, I especially appreciate the amazingly, extremely, remarkably organized and yet go-with-the-flow attitude of the team leader and Haiti director of Bless Back Worldwide: Melissa Roper.  Thank you, Melissa, for all the time you put into training and organizing, as well as leading your teams!!!

 

S'mores on the beach in Haiti

S’mores on the beach in Haiti

AJay turned 18

AJay turned 18

Our “Little Man” (turned giant) AJay turned 18 yesterday, far from us in Belmont, MA.  It was sad to miss this special moment with him, but he was home for two weeks this Winter and we thoroughly enjoyed being with him then.  His (Our, really) sweet friends from West Newbury Congregational Church took him out before the snow hit.  Thank you WNCC friends!!!

This morning we were happy to have Sean Moore preaching at the Thozin church.  He shared about the Good Samaritan, but more specifically about the prejudices that we all hold.  In this story, the Jews held prejudices against the Samaritans.  In our own lives, we also tend to hold prejudices against others who are different from ourselves.  It was a thought-provoking time of self examination.

Church Service in Thozin

Church Service in Thozin

We have had a mostly peaceful time in Haiti during Michel Martelly’s 5 year term as president, but as his term nears its end, the political future is looking quite uncertain.  Today was to be election day and the new president was to be installed on February 7th, but the election was canceled at the last minute.  Members of the electoral counsel have been resigning one right after another, and the ability to have a fair and legal election seems to have faded from view.

There have been some violent incidents in scattered places, mostly burning tires and vehicles.  We do not feel personally threatened in any way.  Mostly we’d like to ask you to keep praying for direction for Haiti and for the leadership of this country.  We have so much hope for a brighter future.  Thank you for joining us in intercession for this people and for all your support.

Back to Back Teams

We are in a very busy, but really incredible season here at Mission of Hope International.  We enjoyed a week with Team G3, from central Massachusetts, and we experienced the Lord’s presence in the Christian Leadership Academy, Thursday through Sunday last week.

Team G3

Chel Finn and her team G3 focused their week with us on providing medical care and distributing food to those in need.  Liz Woods, the Dean of Students at Quinsigamond Community College, started a GoFundMe page and collected enough money to do several feedings.  We were able to do mobile clinics and food distributions in Fauche, Pallaint, and Petit Paradis, impacting hundreds of children and adults in those areas.  Chel also started a GoFundMe page that brought in $900 to purchase and transport cases of Pedialyte.  Many thanks to each of you who participated in these fundraisers!

Last year, Brian Tangney, Jr. was a part of the G3 team.  His time in Haiti really impacted his life, which, so sadly was cut short by a tragic motorcycle accident shortly after.  We had many opportunities to remember and honor Brian during the week.  We celebrated his birthday, singing Happy Birthday to him.  Each evening there were people playing a game of Connect Four, as Brian did when he was here.  Much good was done this week, in memory and honor of Brian.

Waiting for medical care in Paillant

Waiting for medical care in Paillant

Balloons are internationally enjoyed! Team G3 spent a day ministering to the people of St. Etienne, including our students there.

Chel, leader of team G3, checking out these sweeties in St Etienne

Chel, leader of team G3, checking out these sweeties in St Etienne

Ann Marie and Nick from Team G3 listen to a woman's complaints in St. Etienne

Ann Marie and Nick from Team G3 listen to a woman’s complaints in St. Etienne

Waiting to see the doctor in St. Etienne

Waiting to see the doctor in St. Etienne

Honoring My Friend

My friend, Madame St. Armand, was laid to rest a week ago Monday.  It was such a beautiful celebration of her life.  Over the years she had informed her family and friends of who should do what at her funeral.  Her children dressed in beautiful white suits, sang the song that she had asked them to sing.  The women from our church have a singing group, of which she was a part.  They sang a couple of songs and had some beautiful things to say.  I was especially thrilled that they called her “Madame Klere” (Mrs. Shiny) and spoke of how she was now shining in the Father’s arms.

Madame St. Armand’s daughter, Madame Renord, reflected on her mother’s life.  She told us that she died the way she had lived, “with a sack on her head.”  That sack was  how she started each of her children in school and paid for them to go to high school and then on to university.  This sack provided food and clothing even for her grown children and grandchildren, as she always said that it was here children that were her bank account.

Lex preached a message to everyone gathered, thanking them for accepting Madame St. Armand’s invitation to gather on her behalf.  He shared of her faith in God and her decision (aka a choice) to follow Jesus.  He preached to her widow, her family, her friends, pleading for them to join her in submitting the rest of their lives to Jesus.

Madame St Armand's children sing the song she instructed them to sing at her funeral

Madame St Armand’s children sing the song she instructed them to sing at her funeral

Christian Leadership Academy

Our annual Christian Leadership Academy kicked off Thursday night with Pastor Rex Holt.  Pastors Dan Lee, Brock Tharpe, and Nick Acker rounded out the guest speakers.  There were many times of anointed prayer, powerful preaching, sweet fellowship, and delicious meals.  We were blessed to have Don Tiesenga, Haitian pastors, and local missionaries join in the workshops.  Holger and Sigrun Kraft, from Flensburg, Germany, totally blessed us in the kitchen with wonderful dishes (like amazing lobster), homemade breads (pizza buns, oatmeal and white breads), and desserts (cookies, banana cake) to enjoy with the over 400 Haitian guests in the Academy.

Pastor Nick Acker leading a workshop at the Christian Leadership Academy

Pastor Nick Acker leading a workshop at the Christian Leadership Academy

Pastor Dan Lee

Pastor Dan Lee

Pastor Rex Holt

Pastor Rex Holt

Long time friends, collaborators, and brothers in the ministry - Lex and Dan Lee

Long time friends, collaborators, and brothers in the ministry – Lex and Dan Lee

Pastor Rex brought beautiful dresses for the little beauties in the Gallet.

Pastor Rex brought beautiful dresses for the little beauties in the Gallet.

Baptisms during the Christian Leadership Academy

Baptisms during the Christian Leadership Academy

Three More Teams

Last Saturday we said good-bye to Team G3 and hello to three more teams.  This week we hosted a Mission E4 team, our friends at All Saints Congregational Church and West Newbury Congregational Church.  We had 75-85 people at the missionary compound all week!  Yes, it was busy, busy, busy!  What a blessing to be able to facilitate for so many people wanting to serve Jesus by serving others.

I have to mention this:  I was especially thrilled to welcome almost two-year-old Theo Ramaeu, who was here with his parents (David & Mindy) and grandparents (Wayne & Patsy).  What a joy to here little boy sounds all week long.  And his vocabulary was impressive, too!

Theo on the way to Haiti!!!

Theo on the way to Haiti!!!

Our friends from the Parish of All Saints in Belmont, MA joined our students and neighbors in making music this week.  Revs. Paul and Cheryl Minor, who pastor the church, were joined by their daughter Rachel-Anne (graduate student in chorale conducting at the University of Connecticut), our son AJay, David Doneski, Esq. and his wife Dr. Sandra Doneski.  They used their voices, hands, recorders and Popsicle sticks to teach music to our preschool and elementary students.  The week culminated on Friday with a school-wide, morning concert and a luncheon/training session with the teachers.

Lex presents AJay and his host family from the Parish of All Saints at church in Thozin

Lex presents AJay and his host family from the Parish of All Saints at church in Thozin

Parish of All Saints Team

Parish of All Saints Team

Music in the classrooms with All Saints Church

Music in the classrooms with All Saints Church

Music in the villages

Music in the villages with Sandy and Rachel-Anne

 

 

The team from West Newbury Congregational Church also joined in the musical training, having brought color-coded bells (amazing fun!) and drum sticks.  They were also involved in several other projects with our students, served in the medical clinic, assisted in the Paillant outreach, and built a water tower for the little village MOHI has been building with our partners.

Maddie making friends in the Gallet.

Maddie making friends in the Gallet.

Olivia made even more trips her second time visiting MOHI.

Olivia made even more trips her second time visiting MOHI.

Learning to drum

Learning to drum

West Newbury Congregational Church worked so hard. A day off at Bassin Bleu was well deserved!

West Newbury Congregational Church worked so hard. A day off at Bassin Bleu was well deserved!

Dinner with Olivia and eighty something others!

Dinner with Olivia and eighty something others!

Rob (WNCC) was always helping to carry the food from the kitchen to the choukoun for us. Here he and Edna were cutting up fresh pineapples for breakfast.

Rob (WNCC) was always helping to carry the food from the kitchen to the choukoun for us. Here he and Edna were cutting up fresh pineapples for breakfast.

Lex joined the youth devotional one morning

Lex joined the youth devotional one morning and we are thrilled to have our dear friend Kelsi join us this week.

WNCC working on the water tower

WNCC working on the water tower

WNCC sharing music and Theo "reading"

WNCC sharing music and Theo “reading”

The team from West Newbury Congregational Church

The team from West Newbury Congregational Church

It was just an incredible week with some of our very favorite people.  Both of these churches are a constant source of encouragement to Lex and I personally, and are faithful supporters in every way.  We love that they come to Haiti, roll up their sleeves and dig right into the work, too.

David & Mindy Rameau and Rachel-Anne Minor found their Gordon connection in Haiti.

David & Mindy Rameau and Rachel-Anne Minor found their Gordon connection in Haiti.

The front of the missionary compound - yes, this is where you stay when you volunteer in Haiti with MOHI!

The front of the missionary compound – yes, this is where you stay when you volunteer in Haiti with MOHI!

The Choukoun at the missionary compound

The Choukoun at the missionary compound

Bless Back Worldwide

Last night a team from Bless Back Worldwide arrived at MOHI in Grand-Goâve.  It’s always so exciting to see team members return again and again, and show the newbies the ropes.  (They’re only newbies for a few days.)  This team has some great plans for this week, including medical and dental clinics, a Men’s Health Day, education, kid projects, outreach day, and a new idea, the Make It and Take It carpentry projects.  Your prayers are coveted for this week.  We are expecting many great moments for all involved.

Pastor Lex used Dr. Kibler as an example in his message this morning.

Pastor Lex used Dr. Kibler as an example in his message this morning.

Church in the overflow area

Church in the overflow area

Melissa greets the church

Melissa greets the church

Enjoying getting to know Dr. Alfred & Toni!

Enjoying getting to know Dr. Alfred & Toni!

 

 

Goodbye 2015

CollagesAs 2015 was nearing its close, our thoughts turned to you and the work that you enabled to take place during 2015 at MOHI in Haiti.  We so appreciate you and others who have stood hand in hand with us to bring healthcare, education, spiritual life and growth to thousands every week.  We are committed to living in Haïti to facilitate all the details, but we are so glad we are not alone.  We have felt your prayers here with us and your financial support enabling ministry to take place.  We certainly could not be here without that support and so once again, we say thank you.

We’d like to share some pictures of some very special moments at MOHI in 2015.  We hope you enjoy remembering with us what the Lord has done in our midst this year.

Blessings!
Lex & Renée

The medical ministry impacted thousands of lives this year.  We were sorry to see Leah head back to the States, although we are very happy for her and all the Lord is doing in her life there.  She laid a wonderful foundation in the clinic and did a great job working with our new Haitian staff.  Our partners at Bless Back Worldwide have continued to work hand in hand with us, greatly impacting lives again this year.

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leah clinic

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Last year’s dental team reported very poor dental hygiene among our students.  Bless Back Worldwide started teaching and put a fluoride treatment system into place that turned that around almost immediately.  This year the reports were amazing!

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Just about one thousand people were fed each school day this year!  For many, that was the one meal they received many of those days.

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The Lord used many friendss to provide food, medical care, medicines, footwear and clothing to people in remote, mountainous areas of Grand-Goave, Leogane, Jacmel, and Mirogoane.

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We also were able to invest time and resources into a local village.

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11058642_10152836220466056_7234890487053892574_n-001The aquaponics project flourished – literally!  Big fish and plenty of veggies were produced in this first unit.

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A solar array was installed in Thozin so the medical clinic could remain functioning even during blackouts.

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Music education came into the classrooms this year, along with recorders and bells.

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Homes were built for families in need.

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A well was drilled for the little village of houses being built by MOHI, our friends and partners.

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The MOHI women put on an inspiring conference with wonderful guest speakers!

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Plywood “transitional” classrooms were replaced with concrete ones.

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Baby Melissa, sister of the somewhat well known Kendy, Asson and Stanley, was born at the front gate of the MOHI campus in Thozin.  The Bless Back Worldwide medical team was there to catch her and sweep her into the clinic.  She’s a chunky monkey today!

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All MOHI high school seniors to date have passed their national exams.  Woot!

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Forty-six new Believers were baptized at the missionary compound.

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About 800 children and youth are receiving a high quality, Christ-centered education, daily meals, and basic healthcare at MOHI.

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The library became a reality this year!!!!

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We were finally able to procure the property next to the Thozin campus.  The expansion has begun!

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Thank-You

Sweet & Sour Sauce

Sometimes life reminds me of sweet and sour sauce.

The Sweet…

Lex and I are so thrilled to have Alexis and AJay back in Haiti with us for the holidays.  We are so proud of them and how they have matured into such fine, young adults.  Our friends here in Haiti have been so eager to see them, as well.  Feyo was so excited when they drove into the yard, giggling and peering over to the car.

Traveling to Haiti

Traveling to Haiti

We’ve enjoying sharing the abundance of items that have been donated to MOHI with our friends and neighbors here in Haiti.

2015 Children's Christmas Celebration at MOHI

2015 Children’s Christmas Celebration at MOHI

We held a wonderful children’s Christmas celebration on Wednesday.  Each child received a bag of gifts to take home with them, as well as yummy treats and a meal.

Gifts in the Galèt

Gifts in the Galèt

On Christmas day we were able to give gifts to all of the children in the Galèt (village near the missionary compound).

Christmas night we were joined by several missionary families for Christmas dinner.  We all made some of our favorite dishes to share together.  The highlight of the night for us was giving gifts to the missionary kids.  Having grown up on the mission field, Alexis and AJay are especially tender-hearted toward missionary kids.  They know exactly what to get for the other kids and they did a great job making a lot of smiles.

Christmas for missionary children

Christmas for missionary children

Mandarins are in season!  YUMMMMM!!!!!

This is a mandarin

This is a mandarin

The Sour…

I feel like over the years I’ve learned to deal with the sour and move on.  The past couple of weeks have been tough though, as we have lost several friends and loved ones.

Jean Michel was killed in an accident.  Two of our properties border two of Jean Michel’s properties.  We have been neighbors for many years.  He used to pay AJay, right along with other neighborhood boys, to do odd job for him.  As a local judge for many years, Jean Michel would often call Lex for advice or to advise him of difficulties in the community.

I don’t know of a wedding that took place in Grand-Goâve without Elize being a part of it.  He was a young man (mid-twenties) known for making decorations for special events.  He came down with a sudden fever and died the next day.

Pastor Edon’s dad died passed on Saturday night.  He was 98 years old!  Pastor Edon and his family are traveling hours on foot into very remote mountains to lay him to rest.  We are praying for their safety as they travel.

Madame St. Armand

Madame St. Armand

I considered Madame St. Armand a dear friend.  An elderly, hard-working woman, she brightened my expression just by walking into the room. She was crushed by a tractor trailer that went out of control near our Thozin campus.

Jeanne DeTellis, founder of New Missions, recently lost her husband to cancer.  Jeanne has always been such an inspiration to me.  It was through New Missions that I first came to Haiti.  It was through her example that I learned the importance of working hard on the mission field.  And as I’ve watched her (albeit it from a distance, but closer thanks to Facebook) being there for Dennis through the final weeks of his life and struggling with his departure, I’ve felt my own heart breaking from the pain I know that she’s feeling.

1 Corinthians 15 talks a lot about death.  I love the last verse of the chapter that sums it all up “ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”  We all will die one day, but whatever we’ve done in the name of the Lord has a purpose.

I ask that you’d join me in praying for the families of these precious brothers and sisters who have gone on before us, that they would find strength and courage in the midst of this difficult season.  Thank you.

Transitioning to 2016…

As the year comes to a close, I can honestly look back and say that just like the sweet and sour sauce, the sweet parts of life dominate the sour ones.  Each and every day, thousands of lives are positively impacted here at Mission of Hope International in Haiti.  So many sad stories have turned into joyful and hopeful stories.  Each child touched influences dozens of other souls.

Lex and I are so grateful to each of you who have stood with us this year.  Thank you for the time (volunteering and praying) and money you have invested in the lives of so many here in Haiti.

For those of you currently planning an end of the year financial contribution, I hope that you would consider donating to Mission of Hope International.  There are several ways that you can donate today:

Purchase gifts for children here in Haiti.

Sponsor a class for 2016.

Make a general one-time or monthly donation to ensure lives continue to be impacted.

Thank you for a great year.  We look forward to a wonderful 2016, working together to change lives and destinies.

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Wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!!!

The Spirit of Christmas

School

As the current school term comes to a close, there are specific activities that our students look forward to – or don’t.  Our preschoolers are always thrilled to receive their various projects to bring home and share with their families.

End of the term means the preschoolers get to bring their work home to show off.

End of the term means the preschoolers get to bring their work home to show off.

The elementary and high school students invest time in preparing for end of term exams.

Exam time

Exam time

Exams

Exams

Merry Christmas!

I feel like the Spirit of Christmas is alive and well at MOHI in Haiti year round.  But there’s something extra special about the Christmas season.

Students practice for weeks to perform at the Christmas party, coming up on Wednesday.  Many thanks to those of you have donated to the party.  If you would like to be a part of the Christmas celebration, please donate to MOHI to make a donation before Wednesday.  (Be sure to mark “Christmas Party” in the memo.)

Gift choices are available in our Gift Shop, should you desire to give a more personal present to a child in Haiti.  This gift can also be given in honor of a friend or loved one.  Just include their name and address so that we can send them a card, informing them of the gift.

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Alexis and AJay will be joining us in Haiti for Christmas.  Yay!!!!  I hope that you, too, will enjoy celebrating the birth of Jesus while surrounded by loved ones.  Merry Christmas to you!

Medical Clinic

We are grateful for such a wonderful medical staff.  It’s a joy to see them really engaged in caring for our students and the communities we serve in.

Medical clinic at the MOHI Thozin campus

Medical clinic at the MOHI Thozin campus

Nurse Martine enjoys the company of a small patient

Nurse Martine enjoys the company of a small patient

Waiting to see the doctor

Waiting to see the doctor

Church

Here at MOHI, we are committed to ministering to the whole person: spirit, soul and body. Providing a spiritually alive atmosphere for the community is thoroughly invigorating. Attending church is not only a time to be fed spiritually, but an opportunity to encourage one another to good works. I love seeing old friends and making new ones each week.

Church service this morning in Thozin

Church service this morning in Thozin

This little man cracks me up every Sunday at church! He's so snugly and totally spunky.

This little man cracks me up every Sunday at church! He’s so snugly and totally spunky.

Construction and Maintenance

All the planning, coordinating, and fundraising for the proposed projects at the campus expansion in Thozin will take some time. However, there are some things that are certain and we have started there. Cleaning out the ditch along the main road was the first task. Building a small “bridge” was the second.

A footpath through the middle of the campus has to be rerouted for the sake of security. Several of our neighbors are landlocked, so we determined up front that we would set aside a portion along the perimeter of the land for a right-of-way for them. The “bridge” is a small, reinforced-concrete pass over the culvert alongside the road. We wanted to be sure to have this in place before we enclose the new lot.

The

The “Bridge”

This week we performed a variety of maintenance tasks, as well as taking down the water bladder. The water bladder was installed by Samaritan’s Purse after the earthquake, almost 6 years ago. It served the community well, but has so many leaks that it became difficult to manage. We will purchase water storage tanks and reroute the plumbing in order to keep the water flowing for the school children.

Radio Station

Thanks to a solar powered, battery system, Radio-Télé Partage 106.3 is on the air 24/7.

Junior performing maintenance on the batteries that keep the radio station powered.

Junior performing maintenance on the batteries that keep the radio station powered.

We play a variety of Evangelical music in English, French, and Kreyol. We also have a diverse mix of enriching programs: high school and elementary level interactive exam prep, health discussions and education, Bible Preaching, Daily noontime prayer, morning praise and prayer (to name a few).

The radio station has been a wonderful tool (and a lot of fun!) for many of our high school graduates. Davidson (pictured below) started in 2nd grade at the original MOHI elementary school in Thozin back in September 2000. After graduating, he and his sister both became employed full-time, but they still take time daily DJing at the radio station.

Radio/Tele Partage 106.3FM is on the air 24/7, thanks to a small solar-powered battery system.

Davidson is on the air at MOHI's radio station: Radio-Tele Partage 106.3FM

Davidson is on the air at MOHI’s radio station: Radio-Tele Partage 106.3FM

Do You Degaje w?

MOHI Birdie

DEGAJEA Kreyol Lesson and More

There are several words in Kreyol that automatically bring a smile to my face.  BAGAY, for example, means “thing”.  In and of itself, there’s really not anything humorous about this word.  Right?  But, BAGAY is soooooooo overused that it’s like it becomes a comedy show all by itself.  Much of Kreyol is less precise than English or French.  Sometimes in conversations we find ourselves saying such outrageous things as “Well, just go BAGAY the BAGAY.”  And most of the time, we understand each other perfectly.  BAGAY qualifies as one of my favorite Kreyol words.  Most Americans say it like “Bug Eye,” which adds to the humor, too.  [“Go bug eye the bug eye!”]

 

DEGAJE is not a favorite, because I find it humorous, but rather because it feels so much more descriptive than any English word I can think of to replace it.  A big part of living in Haiti and surviving is dependent on your ability to DEGAJE.

 

I sometimes use Google Translate to help me out between French, Kreyol, and English.  I typed in “DEGAJE” and it responded with “release.”  I thought that was an odd translation.  I then typed in “DEGAJE W” (“w” meaning “you”) and the translation it gave was “survive.”  Now THAT I found interesting.  I’ve always translated DEGAJE as “to make effort.”

 

Here are some situations we might run into in Haiti (you may run into them where you live, too) where the word DEGAJE might be appropriate to use:

 

  • The pot handle is loose and we don’t have a screwdriver that fits the screw to tighten it. We use a butter knife.
  • We didn’t buy enough meat on market day Wednesday. The next market day is Saturday.  Today is Friday.  We substitute dumplings or avocado for the meat.
  • The gas gauge needle is on “E.” We walk.
  • The one king-size bottom sheet we have is torn. (Perhaps no one thought to mention it to us so we could replace it.)  We take two twin flat sheets to cover the king-size mattress.
  • The generator breaks down in the middle of the night. We sweat.
  • There’s no electricity and it’s soooooooo hot. We take a cold shower.
  • There’s no water in the shower, because there was no electricity to use the water pump to fill the water tanks. We use a bucket on a rope and draw water from the well.  We take a “bucket bath” using a large cup with the bucket of water.

These are all situations where we would say “degaje w.”  Here’s the (fill-in-the-blank) problem – here’s the solution (works on ANY problem!): DEGAJE W!

Would you say that means we make an effort?  Survive?  I suppose they could be considered interchangeable terms after all.  But how in the world does “release” fit into this at all?   If you don’t release the situation – if you can’t get past your own will and how you intended for the situation to play out – how will you survive?  Release must be the first part of DEGAJE.

 

MISSION UPDATESThe Real Reason You’re Still Reading

Tonight I am DEGAJE-ing with this blog post.  Each time I tried to upload a picture (and it was more than a few dozen times!) I got an error message, suggesting that I try again later.  I know, from experience, that sometimes waiting for “later” becomes “too late,” and I miss my posting deadline.  So, today, I am DEGAJE-ing with a different format, working offline and praying it can be uploaded later.  If this post has a different look to it, it’s because I had to DEGAJE M (“m” meaning “me”).

December in Haïti

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Christmas Cheer in Thozin

This year we are in the “holiday spirit” a little earlier than usual.  Our friends were so excited to see we brought Christmas lights for the school/church yard in Thozin.  There was no complaining about all the work involved in putting them up.  Each time exam time approaches, many students come to our yard in the evenings to study, because we have a nice big light at the entrance.  Now they are enjoying all the pretty colors, too.  I think there may be MORE students than usual.

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Preparing for the Children’s Christmas Party

It looks like there’s dancing going on!  Lots of kids are preparing for the children’s Christmas party, just ten days from now.  Amy Long and Maestro Odenet wrote a song together and Amy has been busy teaching it to several classes.  Our childen’s workers have been planning this party for a while now, and it’s sure to be the best thing around.  Lots of music, balloons, glow in the dark decorations…did I mention music?  Rest assured it will be LOUD, too.  Christmas is a very special time for us all.

 

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Pwa Kongo – aka pigeon peas

December is also the month that the pwa kongo (pigeon peas) become available in the open market.  These will be harvested over the next two months and then not again until next December (late November).  This is by far the favorite bean in Haiti – and we eat a lot of beans here.  None compare to the pwa kongo, though.

 

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Gwo Djak Garden

A lot of planting happens in December, as well. This is one of the MOHI gardens. As you can see, Jeff has planted many bananas and some fruit trees. Beans and some “American” veggies are on the way, as well. One of the biggest challenges gardens in Haïti face are wandering animals. After working full time for months to plant a large garden, a few loose goats can destroy much of the work. Jeff is working hard to keep the goats at bay.

 

Maintenance

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Paul mopping the school floors.

Eight hundred students, two school campuses, and a missionary compound where we receive the many guests coming to work at MOHI, equals a LOT of maintenance!  While our goals are much loftier (education, discipleship, job creation, healthcare, community development, caring for children as risk, and more), maintenance tasks (painting, landscaping, plumbing, electricity, building repairs, excavating to avoid the neighbor’s water that was diverted to us!,  roof repairs, sweeping, mopping, cooking, cleaning, and much more) need to be kept up to date – even as we embark on new projects (sports complex, playground, and workshops for vocational training, to name a few).

Everyone likes to be a part of a new project, but certainly we can’t let the completed phases slip as we progress.  Right?  It is because we have great facilities, furnishings, supplies, tools, and staff, that we are in a position to prepare this generation for the future.

 

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Junior cleans the solar panels, so they get full sun exposure.

As such, I would like to thank the many people who make regular monthly donations to keep our staff paid, our students fed, our communities healthier.  Plain and simple: this mission would not be functioning without you.  You are living out the Christmas message all year long with us.  THANK YOU!!!!

I also want to recognize our maintenance staff – the ones who do the less seemly jobs that are most necessary to support all the activities here at the mission.  The cooks, the bathroom monitors, those that clean, caretakers and security guards – chapo ba (hats off) to you!!!

 

A Few More Pictures

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“Christmas is a time to stop thinking about yourself and what you want. It’s the season of giving!”

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That’s baby Melissa, who was born under the MOHI welcome sign in Thozin. Have you ever seen such chubby cheeks?

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Dr. Emmanuel examining a patient from another school.

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Would you say she’s happy to be in school?

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Sometimes it’s the only meal for the day

Finally!

The Moment We Have Been Waiting For…

It’s been a very long wait – about a year and a half or so.  There were many hoops to jump through and many delays.  FINALLY, thanks to many of you, our partnership with White Stone Church (Knoxville, TN) and MEGA-patience from all of us…

The land lot next to the school in Thozin has been purchased and ownership has been transferred to the Mission!

Land Pics

 

What’s next?  The plot plan…getting the big picture from an architectural perspective…and beginning excavating for the necessary drainage for the property.  The longterm plan involves a sports/tutoring/discipleship program for students in the area and vocational training for our high students.

Re-directing water

Re-directing water

As the details come into focus, I will be sure to update you on what the needs are.  Obviously it will take a considerable amount of money to secure the land with a wall, excavate for drainage and a soccer field, and build the necessary structures.  Maybe you’d like to help out by doing some fundraisers for us?  We’re also going to be looking for teams to come down and assist with these projects.  You might want to consider putting a team together to come work with us on it.  Right now, I’m asking for prayer that we would have godly wisdom in working together with our partners to formulate an awesome plan.  Would you pray with us?  Thank you!!!

Paillant Outreach

What a blessing to be able to reach out to the Paillant community in the mountains overlooking Miragoane.  This area is special to Dr. Emmanuel, as this is where he grew up and where his family still lives.  The mayor has been so gracious to us, always making sure the MOHI team has something to eat for lunch and water to drink.  He stays with us to ensure everything is done in an orderly way.

Food, Footwear,Clothing ... and LOVE Distributions!

Food, Footwear,Clothing … and LOVE Distributions!

Medical Outreach

Medical Outreach

This time, our missionary friend, Ed Locket, and a visiting team from the States stopped by to work with us for a little bit.  Ed’s quite the photographer (as are some of the youth that he’s taught), so I thought I’d show you one of the pictures he shared with us, too.

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For those of you who didn’t see my avocado picture earlier in the week, I’ll share that one, too.  Dr. Emmanuel’s father actually gave us a few avocado’s from his trees in Paillant.  We have avocados at the missionary compound, but it would take three or four of them to give you the fruit from just ONE of these!  And they were sooooo yummy!

HUGE avocado from Paillant

HUGE avocado from Paillant

Paillant is beautiful! It has an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, so of course we had to support the local economy!

Paillant is beautiful! It has an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, so of course we had to support the local economy!

Little Star

I was so blessed to see Amy act on some advice I gave her last week.  She wrote down some words for a song that she could use with her next preschool project – stars.  She brought it to Maestro Odenet, who (as I so knew he would!) jumped right on it and had music to go with it the next day.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a video to share with you, but it’s a very catchy tune.  Thus, I have been humming it all day long today.  Great job, Amy and Maestro Odenet!!!

Those "Little Stars" look pretty big to me!

Those “Little Stars” look pretty big to me!

For Where Your Treasure Is…

I have been contemplating Luke 12:34 quite a bit this week.

Luke 12v34

We have some incredible people who really invest in this mission.  They invest their earthly treasures: time and money.  They invest their heavenly treasure, too – the time they spend communing with Jesus.  They talk to Him about this mission.  And they listen to what He has to say about it, too.

In His presence

In His presence

We have faced so many challenges over the years.  We decided many years ago that we are not interested in being in Haïti on our own, doing our own thing.  We love this country and her people, but it’s way too much for us to handle.  We knew we only wanted to be here if the Lord was with us and guiding us.  Whenever challenges (sometimes heart-wrenching, emotionally traumatizing challenges!) have come our way, we have stood on that commitment.  If the Lord is here with us and wants us to continue, He will resolve the issue.  If not, we don’t want to be here on our own anyway!  We know that these incredible people who have invested so much in this mission are interceding on our behalf.  Whether it’s a financial situation, local politics, deception, or withstanding being lied about, there’s always a solution.  Often time that solution comes through their treasures – their time, money and prayers.

I want to encourage you to get involved.  Now, I’d prefer that you get involved with MOHI, but it’s really best that you get involved where the Lord leads you.  When I say “involved,” I’m not referring to talking.  I’m referring to putting your treasure there – knowing that your heart will follow.

A Sad Moment

Many of you have met Dieury and Dieunison, the two orphan boys who live in the little village we built together with our partners.  Their grandmother, who was not able to care for them, passed last week.  Obviously it was a difficult moment for the boys.  Marie Ange worked so hard to get them dressed well and cleaned up for the funeral.  For a family that is already so fractured and impoverished, dealing with the expenses of a funeral is an extreme hardship.  If you would like to help out, please make a donation – even a small one.  “Many hands make light work.”  We would love to remove some of the debt burden from this family.  Thank you.

Dieury and Dieunison's grandmother's funeral was a difficult moment for them.

Dieury and Dieunison’s grandmother’s funeral was a difficult moment for them.

A Couple More Pictures

There are couple of other pictures I would like to share with you. This first one is of Pastor Edon while Pastor Lex was preaching this morning. It caused me to giggle to see him reading from the Haitian Creole Bible on his telephone. How much things have changed. When we first arrived in Grand-Goâve there were no cell phones in the area. We used to go wait for phone calls at the local, State-run telephone company. Now, everyone has a cell phone, or someone close to them that has one. Now, Pastor Edon can even use his smartphone to help him do his work, as well as studying his Bible.

Pastor Edon reading the Bible in Kreyol on his phone.

Pastor Edon reading the Bible in Kreyol on his phone.

Many of you remember Marie Yves. She worked for us for several years, hosting groups – She is featured in the video on our website home page. She got married and moved to another town almost three years ago. Today she and her beautiful baby girl, Tabitha, came for a visit. They joined us for church in Thozin and lunch at the missionary compound. It was a special time for everyone.

Tabitha - Marie Yves' daughter

Tabitha – Marie Yves’ daughter

 

Thankful for this Week

Happy Thanksgiving to you!  

I hope you had a special day, as we did here in Haiti.  We joined together with several other missionary families, Haitian leaders and our medical staff to give thanks to the Lord together and enjoy a special meal.  I appreciated our time together so much that I didn’t stop to think about taking a picture to share with you.  (My apologies!)

Another Mountain Outreach

I do have pictures from earlier in the day that I’ll share with you.  Lex, our medical staff and a few local volunteers loaded up the bus and headed up into the mountains of Chérident once again, to continue reaching out to the people of that area.  The need is so great, that it can be very difficult to handle on an emotional level.  When the team arrived back for Thanksgiving dinner, they looked pretty exhausted.  However, there is such a contentment when you know that the Lord has utilized you – your hands, feet, voice, knowledge…  Fatigue is pretty minor by comparison.  Once again hundreds of people were seen by our medical staff.  Others handed out food from Kids Against Hunger Global (Tulsa, OK), clothing and footwear.

Chérident Outreach

Chérident Outreach

 

Clinic

Our clinic in Thozin continues to provide needed care to people suffering from chronic conditions (hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, sickle cell disease, etc.), as well as a plethora of other ailments, both common and uncommon.  Regular checkups, especially for young children, and the elderly saves lives.  Because of supporters like you, a great partnership with Bless Back Worldwide (Charlotte, NC), and various other medical professionals who volunteer their time, we are able to continue providing this support to our students and communities.  Thank you so much for all your support!!!

Thozin Clinic

Thozin Clinic

 

School

We have some pretty awesome students in our schools!  It just thrills me to see how the preschool and elementary students have learned to interact well with adults and visitors.  They used to be so shy around us, but now they smile, say “Good morning,” and even shake hands and give hugs.  Sometimes they are even a little too comfortable, but I prefer that over closing up.

As you can tell from the pictures below, the kids are thoroughly enjoying taking care of their teeth during school.

The things we do for healthy teeth!

The things we do for healthy teeth!

School Fun

School Fun

 

Christmas Tree Fun

Amy’s project with our preschool classes this week?  Christmas trees!!!

Christmas Trees in the Preschool Classes

Christmas Trees in the Preschool Classes

 

Church and Politics

We are in a politically fragile time in Haiti, as election results are being announced and challenged. We also have the final round of presidential elections coming up next month. This morning Lex was able to share a little bit with our church about what the Bible has to say concerning our relationship with our government (Romans 13).

Pastor Lex

Pastor Lex

Living in Haiti, I have learned it’s best not to be overly outspoken about my political opinions. I do think about how Jesus focused on His heavenly kingdom much more so than the political kingdoms (nations). He also told us to pray that we may live in peace, and so I endeavor to do that.

On another note, I just love it when the children are dismissed from the adult service to go to children’s church. That’s when Lex tells us to get up out of our seats and go look for someone we’re happy to see. Lots of hugs and kisses ensue.

Children's Church

Children’s Church

I'm always thrilled when Pastor Lex says "Stand up, find someone and tell them your happy to see them this morning."

I’m always thrilled when Pastor Lex says “Stand up, find someone and tell them your happy to see them this morning.”

 

Flooding

Friday morning, I woke up to the sound of distant thunder around 4 o’clock.  The thunder continued all morning, eventually bringing rain.  (It’s very unusual for us to experience morning rain in Grand-Goâve.)  The rain makes quite a racket on our metal roof, but all of a sudden it was making MORE noise.  It sounded like little rocks hitting it.  I ran outside to see if it could be true.  Sure enough there was hail bouncing of the roof of the kitchen.  Then a piece hit me in the face.  It was about the size of a pencil eraser.  Everyone I asked about it had never seen hail before.  It also brought us two days of cool temperatures, which I really appreciated!

Unfortunately, the storm that brought hail to the missionary compound, brought flooding to our Thozin campus.

Flooding in Thozin

Flooding in Thozin

 

Congratulations to Madona Bazile!

Today was a very special day for Madona. She graduated from nursing school today. Madona has been a part of Mission of Hope International since the very beginning and was a part of our first graduating class. This is a wonderful accomplishment that she worked very hard for. We are so proud of her and wish her well in her career as a nurse!

Madona's graduation from nursing school

Madona’s graduation from nursing school