Reaching the Mountaintop
Sometimes I feel at a loss for words. I wish there were some way for all of you to experience what I am experiencing. I will tell you what I can, but I want to encourage you to come to Haiti and experience a week at Mission of Hope International for yourself. I love what I do. I love our staff, our friends, our fellow missionaries, our brothers and sisters. I understand that not everyone would commit to spend years here, but many of you could make the sacrifice to come serve for just one week. Let’s talk about it! Write to me here.
So many remarkable things happened this week, but the most amazing is that we hit water at the MOHI campus in St. Etienne.
Back in April, Help4Haiti hosted a group from Nashua Christian school (Nashua, NH) at MOHI. Our friend, Pastor Paul Berube (Grace Fellowship of Nashua) joined the team, which was led by Micah Groder (Kevin and Tammy’s son). He had visited MOHI a long time ago, but things had changed significantly since then. When he was visiting the St. Etienne campus, he felt impressed to fund a well for the community there. We called on Blue Ridge Christian Homes, a Mennonite organization that has dug wells for us previously, and asked them to take a look at the site for us. They did come, but they emphasized that they didn’t know if we would actually find water for this mountaintop community. They said they would come back with a GPS to see what they could figure out. They never came back with the GPS, but they came back with the drilling rig. The lead Haitian worker, an elderly man who has been digging wells for years, took Lex aside and proclaimed, “I believe we’ll find water here.” Lex joined with the workers and Pastor Hakine, leading them in prayer, asking the Lord to provide water for these people, and then the drilling began.
People driving by would stop to ask who the nut was who thought they could find water on the mountaintop. People from the neighborhood came by to share words of discouragement, fearing the well would be a failure. The company drilled a little over 200′ the first day. They began drilling again the next morning and before the day was through, water came spraying out of the hole. Praise God! HE has provided water for the people of this community. The well was capped at a depth of 340 feet. There are NO other wells in the area at all! Not only will our school kids finally have water, but the people in the whole area won’t have to walk down steep mountainsides to find water far from home. This is a major accomplishment for the entire community and we are so grateful to the Lord and all those who had a part in making this dream a reality!
There be water!!! (St. Etienne Campus)
We had some great folks here this past week from Iowa: TJ Widbin, his mom Vickee and her grandson, Brendon. TJ contacted us, looking for assistance in finding people who could be entrusted with some sort of water treatment device. In a country where potable water is hard to come by, we had plenty of communities to introduce TJ to. He brought five devices with him. Basically, you pour salt water into this device which causes gas to escape and chlorine to drop into the bottle below. The result is homemade chlorine! TJ tested the local water to determine how much chlorine to add to it. The chlorine can also be produced and sold to others for less than they would normally pay for imported chlorine. The people at all five sites were really excited about this opportunity to start a small business, while helping to keep their neighborhoods healthy.
TJ making chlorine
Vickee is an RN and was a great help to Leah in the clinic. Mike and Michelle, two physicians visiting BLB, came down the mountain to work in the clinic several days this week. Cheryl “Chel” Finn also joined us for a week, rounding out an awesome group of healthcare providers. It was such a joy to see how well everyone fit together, too. It seemed like we had a home full of old friends for the week.
Clinic in Thozin
Clinic at MOHI in Thozin
Chel squeezing in between supplies
Brendon is eleven years old and a great kid to be around. He helped out with the water treatment work, as well as in the clinic. I think that perhaps his favorite part may have been the soccer. The other boys were pretty happy about that, as well.
Brendon and friends playing in the school yard
Students and parents gathered this week to receive their report cards. There were many happy children, like Kendy, Asson and Dieury who all made their way to my office with their report cards and toothy grins. And, of course, there were some disappointments as others realized that they couldn’t slide by without hard work. These will have the opportunity to go to summer school and possibly test into the next grade at the end. Otherwise, they will be repeating the same grade again. We also have an open mic during these “Remise de Carnet” (giving of the report cards) events. Parents have the opportunity to express their delights and disappointments about the school. This helps us to keep improving our schools. We also talk to the parents and students about what we were glad of for the year, what didn’t go so well, why we have the rules we do and what they can expect when school opens again on September 1st.
Remise de Carnet (Giving of report cards)
My experience with missionary work, which may or may not be the same everywhere, is that there is always more work to do than there is time available to do it. We keep delegating what we can to others, but rather than alleviating the work load, it frees us up to expand the vision of MOHI further and further. God is so good, as He has placed a love in our hearts for the people in our communities and a desire to be used by Him to impact their lives. We actually ENJOY working hard. And, of course, the benefits are out of this world! One of the benefits of all this work is that there are many employment opportunities for our neighbors. What a blessing to see men and women working each day, knowing that they will be able to better care for their families with the incomes they are earning!
There’s always something to do at MOHI (cleaning, generator maintenance, laying tile, plumbing repairs, painting…)
The outside sitting area now has a floor.
One of MOHI’s former board members, Karen Page, obtained about fifty desktop computers for MOHI a few years ago. Several months ago, she was able to procure a grant from the Rotary to ship the computers to us here in Haiti. Those computers arrived this week. Now, who has the Lord prepared to come do the installation and networking for us?!!!
Desktop computers arrived this week.
We try to have at least one special event each year for our teaching staff. Sometimes it’s a week long seminar at the school, with a hearty meal each day. Sometimes it’s a beach excursion with fried plantains and hot dogs. This week we took our school administrators and teachers to a well-known resort called Moulin sur Mer, in Montrouis. They loaded up the bus at 6 o’clock in the morning for the trek north of Port-au-Prince. None of our staff had ever been to such a place and they were all rather awed by the sites, as well as by the food. Lex had to instruct them how to partake of a buffet. Each person helped themselves. As they started finishing their food, Lex told them to go get more. They were amazed at how full they were. No one seemed to have room for a second plate, even though they wished they did, as the food was quite delicious.
This was a great opportunity to set expectations with the staff for the next school year. Among other things, we talked about the teacher’s responsibility for their students going beyond the classroom and into the school yard. The need to show the younger children how to use a hygienic toilet and to remind the older ones to flush. Let’s talk to the students about how to safely cross the street and instruct them that everyone should move to just one side of the road to let a car go by. Talk with our students about personal cleanliness, as well as caring for our school buildings and yard – having a sense of pride in our school. We talked about our students reflecting the attitudes of their teachers. Are we being respectful of others, so that our students will learn the importance of respecting others? Are we greeting people who visit our school or do we ignore them? Do we interrupt others or do we wait for a pause in the conversation and say “excuse me”? It was great to see the entire staff all come into agreement about the importance of teaching more than just the lessons in the text books.
Yesterday we picked up some special folks at the airport. Leah’s sister, Naomi, and her husband, Zac, are visiting for a week. Leah has been so excited, as she has been anticipating this visit for quite some time. It’s fun for us to meet them and put faces to the many stories Leah has shared with us. It’s also a riot to feel like we have a second Leah with us at times.
Leah with her sister Naomi and her husband Zac
A team of ten people from the Peabody and Marblehead areas of northern Massachusetts also arrived yesterday. Several of them are here for their second trip. Will Coley has been here many times and went through the January 12, 2010 earthquake with us. I was really excited to watch as this team came together and began planning their goals for their time here. Part of the team will be working with a local crew, constructing a home for a family in need. We are planning to begin vocational training with our high school students in the Fall. One of those vocations will be sewing. The other part of the team will be kicking off the sewing project this week. They carried down 4 brand new sewing machines and will be teaching 3 classes per day to a total of 45 students. The training will be very practical, with the goal of students being able to sew something marketable by the end of the week.
Welcome to Sarah, Norah, Scott, Katie, Mike, Ross, Stephanie, Hanna, Melanie and Will!
As usual, we had an encouraging time in our morning services today. The word was good, the worship sweet and the temperature HOT!
Pastor Lex preaching a HOT message
Nelthon peeks out from behind his mom’s skirt during worship in Thozin.
Kids Club started this week in Thozin. We will hold these meetings three days a week for the summer. It’s a fun time for the kids. They especially enjoy singing in a microphone! We also use this as an opportunity to feed them.
GREAT Kid’s Club this week!!!
These two little guys come to the Thozin campus each afternoon to fetch water.
Thank you for catching up on the happenings here in Haiti. Remember to consider joining us in serving the Lord and the people of Haiti. I’m waiting to hear from you! God bless you!