Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
We had some important family business to take care of this past week, so I had the "pleasure" of enduring some snow and rather chilly (like 15 degrees chilly!) temperatures. I'm happy to say that all is well on the home front where it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
This will be my 17th Christmas in Haiti. In my youth, my family celebrated Chanukah. It wasn't until I was 19 that I actually celebrated the birth of Jesus. Even so, because I didn't have Alexis and AJay until I was well into my 30s, I never actually created Christmas traditions. Our children were 2 and 3 years old when we moved to Haiti, so the traditions that I had tried to start, never had the opportunity to grow roots.
Haiti has a tropical climate, so the snowy themes I always associated with Christmas were absent. Going back to Massachusetts this month helped me to understand Alicia a little better, as she is coocoo for Christmas (rather than cocoa puffs). What a pleasant experience to find a Christmas tree at the Engman's home. This has been our home in MA for the past 17 years and this was the first time I'd ever seen a Christmas tree in the house. It was quite beautiful! Radio stations, stores, and malls played Christmas music all the time, There was no such thing as a "quick" trip to the mall to get AJay some jeans. We walked into the store to see a line going two-thirds of the way to the back of the store. People who might never acknowledge my presence were smiling and saying "Merry Christmas" to me. Indeed, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
As some of you were aware, I had a problem with my knee last month. Thank you so much for your support in prayer. I couldn't walk for a few days and then limped terribly for weeks. While I still favor the knee greatly, I'm happy to say the pain is now minimal. One of the advantages of meeting so many gifted people on the mission field is that I can call on them in time of need. Angie has become my personal PA, just as she is for so many of our friends and neighbors. She has kept me going. Linda Robinson is a physical therapist from Akron, OH and she has now sent me some information to help the knee recover more completely. I certainly do thank my God for both of them and am grateful to receive relief in this season of giving. Ah, it IS beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
Peanut Butter Challenge
One of the special moments I enjoyed while in MA, was meeting with the Finn family and joining them in the presentation of the Peanut Butter award to our friends at the Upton Fire Department. They won the competition by collecting 313.59 pounds of the sticky stuff! We so appreciate these men and women, and all those who had a part in collecting peanut butter for us to share with the children who are most at risk for malnourishment in Haiti. Yesterday I received the wonderful news: The peanut butter has arrived in Haiti!!! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Haiti, too!
While I stayed in Massachusetts, Lex went on to Jacksonville to be with our friends at Cornerstone Church. He enjoyed lunch with the pastor, Dr. Ron Thomason and his wife Ruth, along with our long time friends, Peter & Esther Plastridge. He was able to update them on the situation in the south of Haiti and the relief efforts we have been engaging in. The church received him warmly and offered their prayers and support. We look forward to seeing many of our Jacksonville friends joining us here in Haiti next month! Oh yes, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
In the meantime, back at the ranch...
Alicia and her students were reading the Christmas story, preparing for their Christmas pageant, and even baking gingerbread and watching the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. We got back just in time to see the Christmas Pageant. It was held at the MOHI church in Thozin and many of our friends and neighbors dressed up and came out to watch our little actors. We also enjoyed singing Christmas Carols together, as it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Holger and Sigrun Kraft joined our missionary team one week ago today. They have a wonderful gift for hospitality and are very well organized, so they will be keeping VERY busy at the missionary compound, especially as we begin preparing for the Christian Leadership Academy January 5-8.
Angie's friend, Nicole also came for a visit this week. She was on a special assignment, bringing in the much needed medications to keep the clinic running for the next couple of months. We are thankful for her eagerness to help and for Bless Back Worldwide's efforts to purchase the medicines. We are still playing catch up, due to holding clinics in Roche-a-Bateau and Port Salut, as well as our normal clinics. If you would like to be a part of helping purchase medications, you can do so on our website or Bless Back Worldwide's website. Thank you!
The medicine that came with Nicole was put to use immediately, as the next day our team made another trip to Roche-a-Bateau. Angie and Nicole, with assistance from the rest of the staff, were able to see 90 patients.
While clinic was going on, Jephte, Pastor Hakine, Holger, and Sugrin filtered water and gave it out to people in the area. After a couple of hours they went a little further out from the city, where people kept coming with whatever they could find to get drinking water. Apparently, there in the wilderness, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
There were many children who came to get water, so sigrun pulled out the candy canes. That really made us think it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
8 house kits are currently being prepared for us and shortly we will be going back to the south to erect them for 8 families that are without shelter. We are looking for another $5,000 this week to complete the purchase. If you are looking to give a yearend gift or just would love to make someone's Christmas wish come true, please make a donation toward these houses here. Be sure to leave us a note saying "hurricane housing." Thank you.
Yesterday we celebrated a beautiful wedding with Flantorge and Djamondina here at the missionary compound. I have to say, Djamondina was among the happiest of the brides I've seen married here. Her smile was even more beautiful than the surrounding decorations. I was happy to see the 2-foot Christmas tree I brought in my suitcase standing on the table of lovely food prepared for the occasion. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
We were happy to have Travis, Jamie, and baby Mara Knipple, along with their Finnish friend, Petra, join us for the weekend. This was the first time since Mara was born that they've all been with us. I was happy to fill in for Connie (Travis' mom) for a little bit. What a beautiful and happy child Mara is! I can't help but imagine Jesus in the manger acting a lot like this sweetie! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
Lex shared a bit about Christmas and the spirit of giving this morning at the church gathering in Thozin. "Christmas is never about me. It's about the person right next to me!" he shared and encouraged us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked this week.
"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas Soon the bells will start And the thing that will make them ring Is the Carol that you sing Right within your heart"