Wednesday, January 30, 2008

We are still here!

The past few weeks have been packed full of activity. For two weeks we enjoyed having a group of 9 people here from the Seattle area (and one from Il.). They come every year, and as always, were so helpful during their time here. They come with the intention of fixing as much as they can, and making our lives much more bearable during the rest of the year. They certainly fulfilled that once again this year. The fixed many leaking roofs, and other problems we had during the rain. The put in all the electricity in the new building, and helped with many computer networking and internet problems. And also fixed up our vehicles for another year of rough muddy roads! I'm sure there's much more they did, that I've forgotten to write down!

Things are going well here at the house. We are thanking God so much for the full time nurses that have made Linda and my jobs so much easier. Especially as we had some extremely ill children be admitted during the past couple of weeks. Most of them are doing much better, some have returned home, unfortunately, one little girl passed away after several days of much struggling here at the HOH.

While I have told some people this news already, we are pleased to announce that Ciliana (the 1.8 pound preemie we've received back in December 2006) finally tested negative for HIV! Praise the Lord with us. We've had so much fun rejoicing with her. Everyone who comes by the HOH has to pick her up and dance with her in their arms. She had no idea what was going on, but she sure enjoyed the attention. It almost feels like she does realize something has happened because since that day, she has really had a spurt in her growth and development! You can see her here starting to take her first steps unassisted! We praise God for her, and are so thrilled to have her as a part of our lives. We can't wait to see what He is going to do with her in the future! But for now, we are enjoying the little changes that happen every day.

This coming week our students have a week of vacation as it is Haiti's Carnival week. They have been busy planning two days of fun for the young people in our town. We did this last year and it was well received, so we plan on doing it again this year. There isn't much for young people to do when they are on vacation from school, and so many just end up getting into trouble. We hope to use this as a method to reach out to them, have a chance to share Jesus with them, and also to allow them some time to relax and have fun. St. Germain, our resident event coordinator, is spearheading this event, and it will take place Feb. 3-4. That gives us the whole weekend to prepare for it, and from what I hear we are going to need every bit of it!

We have started up our Bible studies again, after having stopped them over the Christmas holidays. It's been good to be back into studying the Word together again. It is exciting to see God working in the hearts of our young people, calling them to present themselves as "living sacrifices". Please keep them in your prayers. There are so many temptations and bad influences around them. Pray that they'd be open to the Lord's working in their lives, and willing to be different from their peers, in order to allow His working to be displayed in their lives.

Linda has had a bit of trouble with her health again, and it's becoming more and more evident that she has diabetes, she is on a very low dose of medication, and seems to be doing better than she was. Please pray for wisdom for the doctors, and willingness on her part to keep up with a healthier diet and with the medication

God has heard your prayers concerning the need for more financial support for the HOH. While we have received an increase over the past few months in support coming in, we still need more, and ask you to please continue to pray for Him to supply the things that we need.

We would also ask you to pray concerning the shipping of things into Haiti. The shipping company we've used over the years is threatening to close up shop. I talked to the owner last week, and he told me he might rethink his decision to close down, if all goes well on this next boat load that he is bringing in. He wants to come into Haiti the beginning of Feb. So, I'd ask that you pray that all goes well, and that this shipping company would not shut down. It is such a vital link for us to receive donated supplies, most particularly clothes for the kids. We can't even begin to process what it will mean for us if we have to start looking for clothing to buy here in Haiti, the time and cost involved in that will be huge. So please pray with us, that the shipping company will still make runs, and if not that God would open up other options for us to receive the things we need to make the HOH run.

One last request I'd like to share at this time, is for me as I am trying to finish up translating, and preparing the second half of the Young Peacemaker's course. Last year over Spring break we taught the first half to the young people and children here at the HOH, and the principles they learned in the course have been life changing for them. This year we hope to finish the rest of the course. The only problem is that I'm finding it very difficult to find the time needed to translate and prepare the lessons. The date is set for the 14th to the 19th of March, so please pray that I would be wise in how I spend my time, and also that I would have a clear mind and health to do the work, and have it done in time for the seminar mid-March. In preparation for the second half of the course, the young people themselves are doing revisions of last year's lessons each night during our family devotions. It's interesting to re-hear the course, but this time from their perspective.

Thank you so much for holding us up in your prayers. You are an important part of this ministry, and we thank God for each and every one of you.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Home Again

Happy New Year to all of you! The years just seem to fly right on by, and if the first week and a half of this on is any indication of how fast this one will go by, we are in for a major roller-coaster ride!

Well I know some of you are itching for news on how our trip went, and as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, I thought I'd take you on a bit of a picture essay of our trip. We left of Friday morning at 4 AM, or I should say we were packed and ready to go, but the driver for the kid's vehicle didn't show up until 5. We arrived at Linda's families village at around 3 so it took about 10 hours to go the approximately 100 mile distance between the HOH and her village.

7 of us including Lala, Nani, Oliana, Linda and I rode in Linda's vehicle. We took the drive much slower than the other vehicle that had all the other kids. We also got stopped by the police for not having the correct paperwork, which was the correct paperwork for our section of Haiti, but when we went over into their section they wanted different paperwork. So we spent some time at the local jail getting it all sorted out! The kid's vehicle as it turned out didn't have any paperwork at all...and they went right through the police screening! Go figure!

The kids rode on the back of a truck. Needless to say their trip was much rougher than ours, with all the sun, rain, mud, dust, suitcases, food, hard benches, squished in like sardines...but they sure had a great time! A friend of ours found the truck for us, and convinced the driver to take us there and back for a very reasonable fee, half of what other people were asking us, so we thank God for working it out for us that way. It was very nice for them to all be able to travel in one vehicle.

We were welcomed into Bayeux, Linda's village with open arms. We (all 35 of us) stayed at her mom's home. Where she already had a number of grandchildren and relatives staying for the holidays, some days we were close to 50, but in true Haitian fashion, there was always room for everyone, especially if you didn't mind where you slept for the night! With so many people in each room, it was sometimes difficult to get everyone to quiet down and sleep at night, but it was great for bonding together, which was one of the biggest blessings that came out of our trip. Even though they all live here at the HOH in a similar setting, there was just something about being in a different place that just caused relationships to grow deeper, and everyone was able to get to know each other better. It was amazing to experience the hospitality of the entire village as family members and non relatives alike brought us sugar cane, grapefruit, coconuts, and sweet oranges by the wheelbarrow full. They also gave us home grown rice (yummy!) and several goats were also provided for special meals. We were all made to feel right at home.We had the chance to spend a day at the beach (which just happens to be a beautiful part of Linda's families property located a few miles outside of the main village!), and it was really a lot a fun...

Thanks to St. Germain, Lala learned not to be scared of the big waves.

She also helped some of the older kids bury Jn Daniel in the sand.

Nani decided she preferred shade to sun, and sand to big waves!

The boys took a trip one day into Cap Haitian, the closest city to where we were. They enjoyed seeing some different sites there, such as National monuments, and town squares.

Meanwhile the girls got to some really fun things too, like...
cooking the food

and, washing the sheets and clothes in the local river!

Of course there were a few inconvenient things that happened on the trip like... running out of gas (and yes we know for all you diesel mechanics out there that is a very bad thing to do),

and getting the car stuck in the river!

Of course it wasn't too much fun for the kids driving through very cold weather through the mountains on the way home either. I pulled out my thermometer to see just how cold it was, and it was all of 72°F (or around 22° C). I guess it's all relative to what you are used to, I was surprisingly very cold myself! Since we are usually in the mid 80's to mid 90's most of the year, that dip into the 70's was quite a shock to our systems!

All in all, however it was a really great trip, and we are so thankful for God's provision for us to be able to make it together. Some of these kids had never been on a vacation of any kind before, so it was a really neat experience for them.

Now it's back to work, however. The students are all back in school, our Bible studies have started again, and we are looking forward to a number of visitors and visiting teams over the next few weeks. Things went smoothly here at the HOH in our absence, and in spite of several very stressful times since being back, we are working our way through them, and thank God for his faithfulness towards us.

Thank you so much for your prayers for us. Please continue to pray for the sick children we have here, as well as for God's provision for our needs, both financially, and materially. Pray also for each of our spiritual growth as we daily have opportunities to live out our faith in a very dark environment. Blessings on you all!