Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas -- Unscripted!

Flexibility -- that's our character quality to work on these days. I think we are doing pretty good so far; at least we have managed to keep from going absolutely crazy in spite of the seemingly constant changes in our plans! Our plans for Christmas vacation have changed so many times already we've just scrapped the whole idea of planning, and we are having a totally unscripted 2 weeks. We've already had the chance to have a last minute Christmas party, we are preparing a last minute Christmas dinner for tomorrow, and we are just waiting to see when the presents will arrive (they are stuck on the boat in Port-de-Paix; we've had so much rain lately they can't unload the boat!).

So you can probably figure out that one of our plans that got canceled was our trip out to the new property. December was a tough month for us financially. Part of that was due to some lean support coming in the months previous to that, but another big part was due to some administrative/financial problems and the way we receive our finances. So, needless to say, we've had a few stressful days this past month; and as a result, we are staying put for the holidays (and changing plans again and again!)

It actually has been good for all of us to have to put our heads together to figure out what we can/can't do, and how to sacrifice one thing in order to have another. Sometimes it's easy for us all to forget where we came from. Most of the kids here came from situations where they lived and survived one day at a time, never knowing where their next meal would come from. But after a couple of years of never thinking twice about whether they'd eat their 3 meals a day; or whether or not they could do/have what they need/want; well, that has a way of dulling the senses a bit, and can make you forget how blessed we all have been. So, while it's been a bit stressful, it's been good.

Don't get me wrong, we've not gone hungry at all -- we got through the end of the school semester, with the school bills all paid, and some of the kids even got to participate in their school's Christmas program (this picture is of Lala, Nani & Ivinsky at their school party, with Joseph, the one who takes them to and from school every day).

But, through it all we've been blessed to see God provide for us in different ways than we normally do. One example of that was when Linda's family in the town of Bayeux heard that we weren't able to come for Christmas; they pulled their resources from their gardens and livestock and sent them to us so we'd "at least have food for all the kids". One day last week Daniel, their delegate, showed up here loaded down with all kinds of goodies: home grown rice, vegetables, fruit, spices, chickens, goats, cassava, sugar cane. They told us whatever they had planned on giving us while we were there with the kids, they decided to send so we could eat it here! We were extremely surprised and humbled by this kind gesture from our future neighbors.

And we are very thankful! Thankful for the many people who help support this ministry in so many ways, whether it's by giving financially, praying, encouraging, helping us work through the sometimes very complicated administrative/financial issues that pop up from time to time or simply offering a chicken or a goat for our kids' Christmas meal. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful group of people standing behind us, and working together with us as we bring the hope of Jesus to those in need here in Haiti.

And what better time of the year for us to have had these problems, and be blessed as God takes care of them through the different gifts of those who support us. At a time when we pause to specifically remember God's gift of his Son who brought us the Good News of His Kingdom; we have been blessed with tangible reminders of His love for each one of us and have had a bit of a taste of His Kingdom right here and now. Maybe having an unscripted Christmas isn't such a bad thing after all!

So, breathing a sigh of relief, this week we were finally able to get cash from the bank. And, even though we thought it wasn't going to be possible, our youth pulled off a Christmas party complete with Wise Men (and women),








King Herod,
















some really good food















and just a really nice time being together.




We don't know where you'll be, or how your Christmas plans will turn out, but we want we want you to know that we appreciate you all very much, and wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

All is well!

Greetings to you all! My apologies for the period of silence. Life has been, well, hectic as usually. Every day something will happen and I'll think, I should put that on the blog. But then the moment passes, we get busy again and I forget about it. So, I'll do my best to catch you up on the past couple of weeks, and a glimpse of what's ahead (or should I say what I think is ahead!).

First, a look back. We had asked you to pray for Linda & my trip to the US. Thanks so much for praying, we had an incredible trip. In some ways it was the most stressful trip I've ever taken, as I just kept having one problem with my bank after another. I spent so much time on hold on the phone it was crazy! Then when I finally got through to someone, the security questions they asked me were wild. "10 years ago when you opened this account what was the zip code of the bank where you opened it?" (umm, I'm lucky I can remember what country I was in when I opened that account). At one point I had to ask if they were joking...how are people supposed to remember such things? Gone are the days of asking for your mother's maiden name -- at least that I could always remember.

Anyway in the end, this just made things a lot more hectic for us, and I ended up pulling a few all-nighters to get everything done before we headed back to Haiti. Were we ever relieved to finally get on the plane and shut our eyes for a little sleep. What a time to get bumped up to first class! We were grateful for the extra nice place to sit and sleep for a while, but unfortunately Linda was so exhausted she couldn't even wake herself up to enjoy the first class meal.

Our travels took us to Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Penney Farms, Port St. Lucie, and Miami Shores, as we visited with friends, family and supporters. What wonderful visits we had at each of these places. Every time we finished visiting with one group of people Linda and I would drive on to the next, and all we could talk about was how blessed we were to have such incredible supporters behind us as we serve God in this ministry. It was a very encouraging time for both of us as we met and fellowshipped with some people we've known for years, and with others that we just met. Here I am with one of the newest members of our partner team!

We did get a chance to enjoy a bit of down time, particularly in Port St. Lucie when some friends from PA came down to spend a few days with us. Here's Linda enjoying some Friendly's ice cream. All in all, we are thankful for the great trip we had, and even more thankful for the awesome partners God has given us in this ministry.

Meanwhile, back at the HOH they were waiting for our return. Everyone says life is just boring when we aren't there, they say the HOH is actually quiet. We find that hard to believe, however, as we aren't the ones who make noise when we are here. The HOH is never quiet (well maybe in the wee hours of the morning), but that's what they say. And they were so happy to have us return.

We were also ready to get back, and had been congratulating ourselves on planning our trip so well that we'd be getting back right before the weekend. "This way", we smugly said, "we can rest up from our trip, and start the week out fresh."... Yeah, you can laugh. We do occasionally have random thoughts like that, but as you can imagine with over 90 kids in the home, that didn't happen.

We got in late on Thursday afternoon and on Friday afternoon received a visit from some security guard with an arrest warrant for one of our kids! Uh, what was that again, was exactly our response as the guard stood before us (especially since things are supposed to be so "quiet" at the HOH when we are gone!). Well, after many phone calls and the weekend spent learning the ins and outs of the judicial system of Haiti. In the end, we learned that the warrant wasn't legal, neither was the security guard (good thing we didn't let him take the boy with him!!). The whole issue was over a traffic accident the kids had gotten into; that wasn't their fault and we were able to settle the situation by the time the weekend was over. So this was our welcome back to Haiti weekend!

We celebrated three birthdays this past weekend -- Manno, Lovedine, and Nani all have the same birth date. It's hard to believe that Nani is now 3, here's a picture of both her and Lovedine (who turned 9).


















The kids, with St. Germain at the lead, are busy decorating the house for Christmas. This is their favorite time of the year, and the house looks so festive. We are able to use the things my sister and brother in law made for us last year, including the homemade Christmas tree and the stockings. Here's a glimpse of what it looks like...

Now, two weeks after getting back, life is pretty much back to normal. School, studies, Bible lessons, and all these good things. The house is full, there were numerous new kids who came during our absence, and we are still having trouble calling all of them by name (it's harder when you have to learn a group of them at one time instead of just one or two).

The weeks ahead include:
  • Several groups of visitors breezing through the HOH, none staying for very long, but we are looking forward to the visits.
  • The kids will be writing exams again before school lets out for a bit of a holiday over Christmas and New Year.
  • We plan on taking a trip over to Bayeaux, near where the new property for Hope Village is. We will be taking all the kids who eventually will be moving over there with us so they can see the land, and start to familiarize themselves with the people and area. We are also planning on holding a Bible club with the children of the area while we are visiting.
  • Both the HOH young people and our Saturday club boys are taking a seminar offered by the Haitian Red Cross on HIV/AIDS. They've completed about half the seminar already and will be completing the rest in the weeks ahead.
Please continue to pray for God's provision of our needs. We could use your prayers as well for good health, many of our kids and young people have fallen victim to a passing virus, so that makes the work load a lot harder on those who remain healthy. Pray for our continued growth spiritually, and that we'd be a light and reflection of Jesus to others around us, as we live and interact with our local community.

Thanks for your support and your patience. I do hope the next update doesn't take so long to get out to you! God bless...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Well, it's about time!!!

I know, I know...the day after tomorrow will be one month since I've updated -- shame on me. So I am quickly trying to get this done today and beat the one month date! I have no great excuse to give you except for the same old one I always use...it has just been crazy busy around here...keep reading and you'll see some of what's been keeping us busy.

First, I'll catch you up on some of the things that were in the last update...
  • Brother Rosemond is healthy once again. He even returned to his job as head of the guards for the local hospital, so thank you so much for your prayers for his healing.
  • School continues for our students, and they are in the midst of mid-term exams. They'd love to have your prayers for them, as they are all working very hard to succeed this year.
  • The 5 little ones we asked you to pray for are healthy and either have already returned to their homes, or will do so shortly. Now we have others that have already replaced them. There is no shortage of malnourished children in Haiti these days.
  • God did indeed provide for our needs during the past month (He always does...He is so good to us). But He does tell us to ask, so please ask with us that He would continue to do so...and perhaps an even more relevant prayer request would be that we weak and sometimes worrying (why do we do that?) human beings would trust Him completely to provide for this coming month!
  • Our Bible Studies continue to go really well. It's really neat to watch how the kids (and us adults too) get the chance to apply what we learn in our every day lives...it's not always easy, but it is exciting to watch changes taking place. Please continue to pray for us, that we'd be lights in the midst of darkness.
So what could possibly have kept us busy this month? That is a somewhat silly question for most of you who have ever been here know that simply waking up and getting everyone safely through the day; healthy, happy and well fed is an enormous and exhausting task. In any case, we have managed to accomplish some other things as well, and here's a brief rundown of our activities, and even some pictures:

Late in September the mother of our good friends in Port-au-Prince (the Boucher's) passed away. It was somewhat sudden, and was very difficult on the family. In order to support the family through the wake and funeral, several of us took a quick trip to PAP. When I say a quick trip, it sounds so simple, but it really took quite a bit of planning and preparing. In the end, it was most cost effective to drive our vehicle down with those who were going along (there were 10 of us). So we left our town of La Pointe at 4:30 am on Friday morning. It only took us 7 hours to cover the 150 miles of road! That was a pleasant surprise, because it has been known to take a lot longer, so while the road was still really bad in places, it also was really good in some places.

It had been quite some time since I've had to drive around PAP, especially in our vehicle which is a little larger than I like in confined spaces with traffic whipping in and out every which way, so I was a little nervous about that part of things. But everything went really well. We spent Friday and Saturday with the Bouchers taking part in the funeral activities, and left Sunday morning to head back to La Pointe. We got back early afternoon very exhausted! Bouncing over miles and miles of washed out road does get exhausting after a while, and doing it twice in 3 days is a lot. In the end it took us a few days before we could feel rested again. It was really good for us to be there with the family though, and I know the Boucher family would still appreciate your prayers if you think of it as they re-adjust to life without their Mom & Grandma.

As means of outreach to the youth in the local community, our young people have started to have a regular game night each Friday night. Most of the boys who take part in our Bible club on Saturday, as well as some others come for a time of fun and games. Our youth play along with them, and the interaction between them is great. Our yard is a wild and crazy place on Friday evenings...it's not that big, and there's at least 80 kids participating, running here and there. It is just too much for me --my role is to sit in a chair and watch St. Germain, Rosnel, and Da make things happen! They thrive on mayhem! Here are a couple of pictures of the games.For a couple of weeks the youth of the HOH decided to try and make some money by selling BBQ chicken on the grill some friends gave us. They BBQ'd while the kids played, and then they could buy it afterwards. It was delicious, and a great experience for our youth (here's St. Germain handling the grill...)
Unfortunately, they were unable to make any money off of it, so they likely won't do that anymore. It was a good business experience for them...t but, they are going to have to put on their creative hats to try and come up with other ways to make their business ventures worth their while!

We were pleasantly surprised by a visit from some people who live in a town just up the road from us. They came here with about 15 severely disabled children whom they care for. They were taking the kids on a small trip for ice cream at the shop close to our house, and decided to stop in for a visit. They shared with us their desire to help abandoned, disabled children have a home, loving care and reach their personal potential. They are fellow believers, who have been amazingly gifted to love and care for these children. While they were visiting, they asked if we didn't have any children that they could add to their family.

I must stop here and explain that we do have 4 such young boys who have been abandoned at the HOH. I have tried for years to find a permanent home for them that could properly care for them, but I've not been successful. We had pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that they would be in our care for the rest of their lives. (We were even planning on taking them with us to our new project. Check out the Hope Village blog to find out how this event affects that project...www.hopevillagehaiti.blogspot.com). For those of you who know our kids, I am talking about; Henry-Claude, John Kerry, Moïse, and Owen.

When we introduced the director to our children, she asked us to allow them to take them into their home. We have longed for these 4 boys to have someone care for them who could do more than we were doing. We could give them food, love and care. But we were never able to get to the point where we could do Physical Therapy with them, work with them to progress as they are able to. Here was an incredible opportunity opening up for these boys. It didn't take us long to agree to come see their place, and place the boys in their care. This morning we headed out to their home and took the boys as well. It is small, but they are building a new location that will be able to care for 100 disabled children. But it was a very nice place...they hire a good number of employees to care for the children. In the end, all the boys stayed up there, and now have a new home! We are so thankful for God's provision of this new family for these boys. What a blessing it was to us. Here's a picture of Benitha getting Moïse ready to go this morning...Because it is quite late and this is getting quite long, I'm going to bring things to an end. Hopefully our next update won't be so far away in the future. One last thing I do need to tell you is that Linda and I will be leaving Haiti next week to spend 2 and a half weeks in Florida. We will be visiting supporters and speaking in meetings there. We have a very busy few weeks ahead of us, as we are driving to multiple locations around FL. Please remember a few more prayer requests for us...
  • Pray for safety as we fly & then drive many miles.
  • Pray for health for both of us, as we have a busy schedule and not a lot of time to be sick :).
  • Pray for the kids and the HOH that we are leaving behind. As you can imagine none of the kids like when we are gone, and especially don't like when we are gone at the same time.
  • Pray that we'd be a blessing and encouragement to those we visit, and that God would enable us to effectively speak about all that He is doing down here through this ministry.
Thanks so much for your partnership in this ministry.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Routine...

No matter how fun it is to have all the kids home from school during summer vacation, there is something refreshing about getting back into the routines that school brings with it. After a few weeks of the schools deciding whether or not they were going to begin in September or October we are back into the everyday fun of making sure all of our 37 students are off on time to the right school with the right uniform and the correct homework finished! Thankfully, we are a large family so we are able to divide up the tasks among everyone and somehow it all gets done! Here is a picture of some of the kids in their various uniforms...

It was an exciting start of the school year for a few of our kids who started school for the first time. Nani was one of those. Do you remember that tiny little baby we received here almost 3 years ago, the one that didn't even hit the 2 pound mark on the scale? Well, here she is in her little uniform, heading off to school with "big sis" Lala. She had a few days at the beginning that were difficult for her, as she and Lala are in different classes at school. But she is used to it now, and enjoys saying "Au Revoir" (good-bye in French) each morning on her way out the door!

Because the government exam results this past year were so terrible, the schools are attempting to work twice as hard with the kids this year. Some of our students in the harder grades are starting school at 7am, and don't return home until after 5pm. We are thankful that they have started to take their work seriously, as we've been complaining for years that they are too soft on the kids! I think this year our kids are going to be doing some serious studying!

We've started up our various Bible studies again. It's been exciting to see some of the boys who participated in the Peacemaker seminar we held this past summer show an interest in the other Bible studies we are holding. 3 of the old boys came and asked if they could participate in the other studies as well, which of course we were more than happy to have them attend.

On Tuesday evenings we are doing a study called "Conformed to the Image of Christ", it's a study on spiritual growth in our journey with Christ. On Saturday evenings we are continuing our study on what God has to say about "Money". On Sunday evenings we are looking at different Character traits that, as Christians, should be visible in our lives. Add to these the Saturday afternoon study with the neighborhood boys and Sunday morning Sunday School classes; and my days are kept very busy trying to keep ahead in preparing the materials! What a joy it is to see God's Word producing fruit in the lives of these children and young people. Please continue to pray for us all as we seek to bring the message of the Good News of the Kingdom to the people we come in contact with.

In the midst of all this "routine", we have, of course, had some non-routine things going on as well. After all we do still live in Haiti! Here's a look at some of those things...

Da (Linda) had a birthday (I won't tell you how many this makes!), and naturally, we had a big party for her. Some friends recently gave us a barbecue, and so we had BBQ chicken and fried plantain, and of course some really good "Pikliz", what those of you who visit here mistake for Cole-slaw the first time you see it. (Believe me they only make that mistake once! It can be quite hot-- as in spicy hot). Here we are at the party, (if I look exhausted it's because I just got finished BBQ-ing chicken for 170 people!! Good thing her birthday only comes once a year!).



One of our nurses here at the HOH gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. This was her second child, but the first she's had since working here. Since the maternity room of the hospital has a window right outside our wall, we could hear her the evening she went into labor. All through our family devotion that night we heard her screams of pain. Finally Da stopped our devotions and started praying for the safe delivery of the baby, and before she had stopped praying we heard the cries of the newborn! Since she hadn't picked out a name yet for the baby, she offered us the chance to name him. After much discussion (we have many people with many opinions around here) we gave her several options, and she took them home to share with the rest of her family. We're not sure yet which one she chose! This is a picture of the newborn...

Last night we lost a little baby girl here at the HOH. She was extremely malnourished, and her family had brought her here at the beginning of the week. They chose not to stay with us at that point, and they took the little baby away with them. Two days latter they brought her back, after having gone to the witchdoctor's house to try and get help from him. Unfortunately, it was too late to save the baby, and she passed away. It was a sad evening, but we are thankful for the chance Da had to share the Gospel with them, using her own testimony of what God has done in her life.

This morning we awoke to the news that the husband of one of our employees was critically ill in the hospital. Brother Rosemond is a friend of ours, and a beloved husband of Mme Rosemond; he works at the hospital as the head guard. We'd appreciate your prayers on behalf of the entire family. He seems to be doing better this afternoon, but was still on oxygen as he's having trouble breathing on his own.

Well, that's about it for news around here, both routine and non-routine! As always we appreciate your prayers and support very much. Please continue to pray for
  • God's provision for all of our needs.
  • That we would love God and love each other in a way that brings glory to Him.
  • That we would be faithful in our service to the Lord.
  • For the health and healing of 5 little children with severe malnutrition in our care.
  • For our students to study hard and be faithful students this school year.
God bless...

Friday, September 04, 2009

A quick News flash!!

It is true...two postings in two days! No, I haven't been struck with loads of extra time and nothing to do...I just have some information that we feel is important to share with you all.

I'm assuming that most of you have read our latest newsletter telling of Linda and my leaving the HOH to begin a new ministry. (If not, you probably should... http://www.handsofhope.org.uk/files/hohnewsletter.pdf ). You will not find a lot of information on this blog with regards to the changes and transition, as we are attempting to keep the two ministries separate. If you are wanting to know more about Hope Village, the new ministry, you can look up the blog we have set up specifically for it... www.hopevillagehaiti.blogspot.com .

The one bit of information we did want to pass on to you was to let you know that our new ministry, Hope Village, will be under the same mission we are under now, CrossWorld. I, (Jenny), will remain a member of CrossWorld, and will continue on as a missionary under them here in Haiti. This seems to have caused a bit of confusion so we wanted to clear that up and to let you know that CrossWorld is supportive of this new venture. If you have any specific questions about this, please feel free to contact me directly.

As always, we appreciate you all, and appreciate your support of this ministry. We are excited about the new direction that God is leading us in, but at the same time do have some sadness at the thought of leaving a ministry that is so dear to our hearts. We still do not know a specific time-frame for this transition and change, we are working through piles of details, and things like this don't happen quickly in Haiti! We will keep you informed as we know more.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Turning the corner...

We finished with the Peacemaker seminar on the weekend. Boy did we ever have a great time together with these boys. They were so eager to learn, and in the end we had 29 boys receive certificates for completing the whole course. There were about10 more who were there for different parts of the course. The last evening we had a big contest to see which small groups remembered the most, and then ended it with a bit of a reception for everyone to receive their certificates. We were also able to give them each a Bible. This was the most exciting part for them. They were so thrilled to received a Bible, for many of them this is the first Bible they've ever owned. I was overwhelmed as I saw several of them, like Rodly, holding their Bibles to their chest and talking about how happy they were to have their own Bible...wow, something we so often take for granted!

One young boy waited until the festivities were over to come and ask Linda and I to pray with him, because he wanted to become a child of God. What a joy it was to lead this young man to faith in Jesus. That makes 2 throughout the course of the seminar, and together with numerous testimonies of how God was and is using the materials taught to work in the lives of these boys, we are so thrilled to have been a part of something that has had such an impact in their lives. Please pray that as they go on into the coming school year that they'd put into practice the things they learned, and continue to grow in their walk with the Lord. We will return to Saturday afternoon Bible clubs with them, this next week.

With the seminar finished, and all the "Our Hope" kids back from visiting their families, all of our attentions have turned to the coming school year. The uniforms and books have all been purchased, and Monday morning the schools are supposed to open. We've been hearing rumors that they were going to postpone the opening of school for a bit, but no one has made an "official" statement on that, so we are planning on sending them off as normal, unless we hear differently. We have 37 students this year in all grades, starting with Kindergarten going right up to Grade 13 in 9 different schools in our local community.

Thank you so much for praying for Angie, she has settled into life and studies remarkably well. We thank God for some very understanding professors who have been a huge help in getting her settled in and started in her studies. Carl Evens has started his classes once again at Univerisity in Port-au-Prince. He is starting his 3rd year of a Business Administration degree. He continues to live with the Boucher family, and we are so thankful for their willingness to help us out in this way.

Linda had an aunt pass away this pass week, so several of the kids have gone to Cap Haitian for the funeral. We also had a 6 year old little girl pass away earlier this week. She had arrived here severly malnourished. We had thought she was making some positive steps towards health, but then suddenly took a turn for the worst and was never able to get over that.

We'd appreciate your prayers for the following:
  • That our students would study hard, and apply themselves during the coming school year.
  • For God's provision for all of our needs.
  • For growth in the lives of the community boys who have been learning God's truth about how to live at peace with each other. Pray that they would be a testimony to these truths in school, in their homes, and out on the streets.
  • For the various Bible studies that are starting up, that the Holy Spirit would work in each of our lives so we can apply what we are learning, and be witnesses for the Lord where we are.
  • For continued health for us and the kids.
Thanks so much for your support in this way. We appreciate your part in this ministry, and thank God for each one of you.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Comings and goings....

A big thank you to all of you who prayed for us these past couple of weeks. It is high time I update you on all that is happening here. While we are still struggling with various health issues, in general everyone is doing much better. Linda has made a speedy recovery, thanks to all of your prayers on her behalf.

We were able to start and continue holding the peacemaker seminar with the boys from the neighborhood. Of the 50+ who were enrolled about 40 have actually showed up, and 30 of those have been very faithful in coming every night. We've worked through the first 5 lessons, and will begin #6 tonight. The HOH Young people have done a great job at helping. Here you can see them leading a worship time with the boys...


Another way they've been involved is as small group leaders as each of the boys have been placed in a small group to do activities together. They have been leading Bible studies, and helping the boys work through their workbooks.







This is such an important part that they play as they build relationships with these young boys that hopefully will last even after the course finishes. Here are some pictures of the groups working together...

Thank you for your prayers for us as we share God's Word with these young boys. One young girl who is here at the HOH taking care of a niece who is sick has been listening to the studies each night. This past week she accepted Jesus as her Savior after one of the sessions. Please continue to pray for God's Word to bring forth fruit in the lives of all those who have been hearing it.

Here are some other newsworthy tidbits...
  • In the last 2 weeks, we've enjoyed visits from both our friend Jeb, and our friends from the UK (the Brooke family and Nathan). It was nice to spend time with them all, and we feel so blessed to have such great friends, supporters, and co-workers.
  • A newsletter for the HOH has gone out, if you haven't had a chance to read it yet, take a chance to look it up on the website: http://www.handsofhope.org.uk/files/hohnewsletter.pdf . It has some important information you won't want to miss, so make sure you take a bit of time to read it.
  • All the results are back for our students who took government exams. This wasn't a great exam year all across Haiti, with very low success rates all around. For the HOH, we had a success rate of 66%. Quite a bit higher than the national rate, but unfortunately that means we had several who failed the exams and have to redo the school year. Several of them have a chance for a re-write, so some re-write exams on Monday (the 17th), and others on the 24th. They would appreciate your prayers as they are preparing for and writing these exams.
  • Several of the Our Hope kids have been home to visit their extended families and reconnect with their home communities. It is good for them to keep building these relationships, but we do miss them when they are gone. Somehow the house seems empty, in spite of the fact we have numerous visitors who have come to spend some time with us this summer. Linda's 4 nephews are here, one from Cap Haitian, and the other three from Boston, MA. Several girls have come back to see us (Helen & Vonette), and have spent several weeks with us. Other people have stopped in here and there throughout the summer, so there have been lots of comings and goings around here.
  • School is just around the corner, and we've begun buying school books and uniforms. With the start of school we will begin our normal Bible studies here at the HOH. I'd appreciate your prayers as I prepare for these.
  • Last Friday night we had a going away prayer meeting with Angie. She left to go study in the US where she had received a scholarship at LeTourneau Christian University in Longview, TX. We all shed a few tears as we said goodbye to her for an unknown amount of time. I know she'd appreciate your prayers for her as she begins this new stage of life. She is extremely grateful for God's hand in working out all the details of her being able to attend this university, and at the same time is a bit nervous as this is all very new for her. So pray that she adjusts well (she arrives there this Sunday), and that she would grow in her walk with the Lord as she studies at this school.
We appreciate your interest in the minsitry of the HOH, and in the lives of the kids in our care. Thank you for your prayers on our behalf. We'd ask you to continue to pray for God's provision of our needs, and that we would continue to be a light for Jesus Christ in this needy country.

God bless...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Prayer

Good Afternoon! This is just a really quick update to ask for your prayers for us. Things have been so busy I haven't had a chance to update the blog, but unfortunately it always seems to work out that that's when we really need your prayers! So I'm just quickly writing you about a couple of things.
  • Nani has come down sick with what has all the symptoms of Scarlet Fever. Our Pediatrician has been hesitant to call it that, but the symptoms are all there. So, she has been really sick. We were able to get her on antibiotics really quickly, so she is much better today, but we all could use your prayers for healing, for strength, and that this wouldn't spread to the other kids.
  • At the same time numerous of the other kids have come down with different viruses/illnesses going around, so things are a bit crazy around here at the moment. Those who are still healthy are trying to remain that way, while taking care of the sick!
  • Linda has been having some health troubles of her own, and this week her hemorrhoids have really started to cause problems. Tomorrow morning she will be undergoing surgery to try and take care of the problem. Please pray for Dr. Mozart as he performs the surgery, and for Linda as she undergoes it. We hear it is very painful, and her body usually takes longer to get over things like this, so please pray for her, and all of us who will be helping her get through this.
  • Saturday evening we are supposed to start teaching the "The Young Peacemaker" seminar to 52 young men from this area. With so much sickness going around it's been hard to find the time to prepare for the seminar, and enough healthy bodies to pull it all off. We know our enemy doesn't want God's truth to be told to these young men, so please pray that we would be able to continue with the seminar in spite of the obstacles that keep popping up.
Thank you so much for holding us up before the Father! When I get a chance I'll update how things are progressing.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Hot, Hot, Hot!!!!

It is definitely summer around here. We're back to working up a sweat by just sitting in a chair and doing nothing! The afternoon rain showers that occasionally come our way are a much appreciated break to the heat and humidity of the summer. But I don't really mind it that much, summer is my favorite season. For us the sun is coming up at between 4:30 and 5 am (we didn't change to daylight savings time this year), and this morning it gave off a glorious orange glow that was just beautiful. Not that I make it a habit of being up with the sun, those of you who know me well know I am a night owl, but at precisely 5am this morning a very large bang occurred right outside my window. At first, it really annoyed me off that someone would be making such a large noise at such an hour, but then I had the blessing of seeing an awesome sunrise, so I quickly adjusted my attitude!
With summer around here comes fruit! Something we don't get for much of the rest of the year (I know strange for living in a tropical climate). The latest crop has been mangoes, and once again the favorite pastime at the HOH is sitting beneath the mango tree, wooing one to fall right in front of you. I've heard kids sing to the mangoes, scold them, and even offer up a short prayer hoping for it to fall at that moment! This picture of Nani enjoying one, shows you exactly how a mango is meant to be eaten, it's not for the timid, or for anyone wanting to remain clean for that matter. Digging in and getting your whole face into it is the only way to go!
We've been occupied with many things these past couple of weeks. Most of them have to do with school ending. All but a few of the kids are done with their final exams. Most of our students passed the year, but a few didn't, making us have to think and make decisions about what we are going to do with them in the coming school year. The few who are still writing exams are those in grades 12 & 13. They will continue to write their government exams today, tomorrow and Thursday. If you think of it pray for them, these are very difficult exams, and determine whether or not they can continue with their studies and finish school, or if they have to wait a year and re-write the exams.

With the end of school came several graduation ceremonies. The two that we celebrated were for Esther, who graduated from Kindergarten, and Dieujuste, who graduated from elementary school. They looked great in their new outfits, and we had great time celebrating with them.






Here is Esther at the party we had for her at the HOH afterwards...








This is Dieujuste at his graduation with his sisters. Desimene is on the left, she also lives here at the HOH. The other sister lives in our local community.


It is exciting to see our kids work hard and get through these milestones of their lives.


This week is the big conference week here in our village. Over 5,000 people from all over Haiti will show up for a week of Bible studies, times of worship and fellowship. Our kids are really excited about the childrens program which will have several thousand children in attendance. To get prepared they've been braiding the girl's hair with beads, pulling out the best clothes we have, and asking us several times a day if the conference is starting today. It's almost as exciting as Christmas!

I am spending most of my days getting ready for teaching the young boys the Peacemaker studies. We almost have 60 boys signed up to take the course, which is very exicting. Thank you for your prayers as we prepare to share God's truth about living at peace with each other, and resolving conflict in a way that pleases Him. In two weeks we'll also be holding our Staff Camp. This is something we do every 2 years as a way to thank our staff for their hard work taking care of the kids here at the HOH. Many of these ladies would never be able to take a vacation, so we can at least offer them a week where they are taken care of instead of them taking care of others. We have all kids of plans to pamper and care for them, so please keep that in your prayers as well.
We appreciate every one of you who supports us in this ministry. Thanks for your prayers for God's provision over the past few weeks. Our faith has been stretched, and God has been faithful. God bless...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

HOH Kids - 1: Very big fish - 0

School is quickly coming to an end. To celebrate we decided to take the kids to the beach. A man we know here in La Pointe has a beach on his property about 2 miles down the road, and he told us we could bring the kids down anytime we wanted, so we decided to take him up on the offer. After playing a quick game of "how many kids can you fit in the back of a Land Cruiser", we arrived at the location ready for a great day at the beach.

Pretty much the moment we arrived it started raining, and it kept raining for the whole next week! So much for me thinking I wasn't going to get wet at the beach. The kids and Linda were not going to let a little rain deter them, however, and they had a great time playing in the water. It did get a bit cold though with the rain coming down, and several had come to complain that they were freezing. We told them to try running around a bit to warm up when God sent us some entertainment that made everyone a whole lot warmer.

Somehow the word "Shark", screamed out by several kids while you are at the beach seems to get your blood going. We scanned the waters to try and see what they saw, and sure enough down the beach a little ways we could see a dorsal fin sticking out of the water, swimming uncomfortably close to the water's edge. I didn't know we had sharks in our waters around here, and it turns out it wasn't really a shark, but we didn't hesitate to get all the kids out of the water as quickly as we could.

In my "American/Canadian" mindset I'm thinking, ok that's it, no more kids in the water until this thing goes away...silly me, what was I thinking. Everyone else in the HOH was thinking, "Yeah, there's supper!". And as if set up by a synchronized timer all the older kids took off running down the beach towards where the "big fish" was swimming. My mind went off again, 'this isn't good, someone is going to get hurt', but their minds were pretty fixed on supper. Armed with nothing but rocks the kids lined up on the shoreline and started using the rocks to scare the fish onto the beach. Soon after a few well aimed rocks stunned fish, they jumped in the water, wrestled around with it, and soon had the fish in their custody. Who would have thought that? Here you can see the mob coming back down the beach rejoicing at their catch. (The group in the bottom left hand corner of the picture are carrying the fish. )


And just what was their catch?

It was a 5 foot swordfish type fish...it was amazing. Fishermen from the area started showing up, and were totally in awe. They'd seen the fish show up there for days, and had been trying to catch it, but hadn't been successful. They kept saying how we must be very blessed people for God to give us such a gift. Of course, then they suggested that we probably would be wise to share that blessing with everyone else in the area!

Our friend Mithou got a machete, and boy let me tell you, what a woman! She just cleaned that fish right up, while at the same time Linda and her kept watching the crowd that was rapidly expanding, trying to keep up with who in the crowd we needed to give some of the fish to. By the time we got the fish all cleaned, the crowd was so thick we could hardly see our kids, and everyone wanted a piece of the fish. So in the end we had to call our beach day over, so we could get at least part of the spoils back home with us.

It was a great experience, and made for a really great day. When we got home we had the chance to cut up the fish, and many people both at the HOH and in our surrounding community were able to eat off of the meat we got from the fish. It really was a blessing and a gift from God, and people in the area are still are talking about it!

There have been quite a few other events that have happened in our local community during the past couple of weeks, that clearly remind us that we live in a fallen world, and have helped us remember our responsibility to be witnesses of light to this needy place. One incident that affected us greatly happened to the family of one of the boys who attends our Bible club. His father was killed in a fight, and then in retribution a mob attacked, tortured and killed the man who killed him. It all happened one evening here in our little town, and as the streets where dangerous our yard started filling up with neighbors and friends trying to find a calm place. Many young people from the community showed up, and as we listened to the mob raging on the road, everyone started sharing their own opinion about what was happening. This gave Linda and I the chance to talk to many of them about what God opinion was about all of this, and more specifically what he says about taking revenge. This talk led to a lot of other topics, and in the midst of a very terrible event we were able to share God's truth with a lot of young people from this area.

So we ask that you continue to pray for us as we seek to use every opportunity we get to share God's truth with those we come in contact with. Pray as we start to prepare the "Peacemaker" course for the young men in the community. 25 of the HOH young people have offered to help me teach this course, so we are revamping it so that they can do some of the lessons and teaching. We are looking forward to what God is going to do in the lives of the young people as they learn these Biblical principles for dealing with conflict, very fitting in light of what happened.

We do appreciate your prayers and support very much, and have one other specific prayer request we'd like to share with you our partners in ministry. We've had some trouble with money we were supposed to have received at the bank, and the end result is that we are extremely low on funds right now. It is very good for us to have our faith stretched to really depend on our Heavenly Father to take care of all of our needs (like he provided supper from the beach). But we'd ask that you pray for us and ask Him to do just that...provide for our needs, and also grow our faith as we wait on Him. Thank you for partnering with us in this way! And God bless...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Moms and the Wii

This past weekend was Mother's Day here in Haiti, and as usual, our kids had a great time celebrating it. At least half of the kids here have lost their moms, so maybe that's what makes it such an emotionally charged Sunday morning service as the kids sing with all their might all the official "Mother's Day" songs. Linda and I are always humbled as they pour out their love on us for being their "fill-in" moms, and we both received a picture frame and a plaque as a Mother's Day gift, as well as a very yummy special afternoon meal. It really was a special day together here with our "improvised" family. Sorry I was too busy enjoying it to take any pictures.

Last week we celebrated the "home-going" of a former House of Hope mom & employee. Mme Merzilien passed away at an age I can't even imagine reaching, she was 105 years old! She worked for almost 30 years here at the HOH taking care of children in need, and one of her daughters followed her in this work and for many years as well. She has numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren who live in our village, one grandchild is a good friend of ours. She is known for being a joyful, caring lady, and while we know she is much better off now, she will be missed greatly.



Well, I guess it was bound to happen at some time, but in the past couple of weeks something new was introduced here at the HOH. A youth group from a church in Alberta, Canada decided they wanted to raise money to purchase a Wii for the HOH. They worked on it for a couple of months, and we just recently received it. So we are now part of the Wii players of the world. I can't tell you how much fun the kids have had with this game. Their two favorites so far are boxing and motorcycle racing, not that they actually get much of a chance to actually have a favorite. With over 100 people vying for a chance to play, and only 2 people playing at a time, it takes quite a while before your chance comes around again! We've only pulled it out twice, because I, as the official "Wii Coach/Referee" only have so much energy...it is quite an exhausting task! But as you can see in the picture of Baslet & Chedlyn, the kids are having a blast with it, and so we say a big thank you to the youths in Canada who thought of getting this gift for us.

If you should pop by the HOH during the evenings these days, you'll probably feel like you've entered into a three-ring circus. While our actual numbers have gone down to around 90 kids, many other kids from our community are preparing for their final exams. Because we have electricity, they come here to study, and it can get quite crazy around here after a while. But if you remember from the last blog, everyone starts writing exams soon, and the government exams will start towards the end of June, so please keep praying for them to work hard, study well, and be examples as they write their exams.

I learned during the last Boys Club we had with the community boys that 6 of them have come to know Jesus as their Savior since the club started! What a joy it was to hear that and watch them stand up to give testimony to that during the last club of the season. We look forward to studying the Peacemaker series with them during the month of August.

I am studying an online course throughout the month of June. It's called "Foundations and Principles of Holistic Ministry" through the Chalmer Center for Economic Development. So far I've learned a lot, and have been able to keep up with the work load (it only started two days ago), in spite of faces like this popping out of my desk every now and again! It's amazing I get anything done at all!

We continue to have our family devotions in the evenings, and lately have started sharing with each other how the Bible was "alive" for us in any given day. Our hope is to encourage them to read their Bibles on a daily basis, and look for ways it impacts their lives and the lives of those around them. Pray for growth in all of our lives as we seek to become more like Jesus, and then seek to witness Him to those around us.

We continue to appreciate your prayers and support very much, and are so thankful for so many people holding us up before our Father. He is so patient and kind, and He cares for us so completely. Thanks for your part in this ministry.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Back at the HOH

I always hate leaving the HOH for an extended period of time, but there is nothing quite as pleasant as returning after being gone for a few weeks. Often I can hear the cheers coming from quite a distance as we honk the horn on the car announcing my arrival (I'm usually not the driver!). It does indeed make me feel special.

Then comes the kisses...everyone has to greet me, welcoming me home, there are hugs from the younger ones, and in the case of Micah, his hug lasted a full 10 minutes as he wouldn't let go until he finally fell asleep in my arms! He looked quite different as he has had his curly locks cut off, and now is sporting a bald head, but as you can see, he's still cute!

I was gone for 4 weeks. The first of which was some time spent in Port-au-Prince with the other CrossWorld Haiti missionaries at our annual retreat. We had a good time visiting with each other, and really enjoyed having our good friends Walt & Dotty Baker there with us. Walt's sharing from God's Word was just what I needed, and it was a huge encouragement to me.

The other 3 weeks I was in TX, at my sister's house. They were full weeks of buying shoes and school supplies to ship down to Haiti, visiting friends and supporters, and also getting a bit of rest. Unfortunately, the getting rest bit was too short, so I got back to Haiti feeling pretty exhausted, and have spent some time the past couple of days trying to catch up on some sleep!
So the next few days will be filled with trying to catch up on things that didn't get done in my absence, and trying to catch up on all the news of things that did take place while I was gone.

School is almost over for the year, and everyone is studying hard for final exams. We have 13 students who will be writing various government level exams this year, and we'd appreciate your prayers for them as they'll be writing them during the last weeks of June and beginning of July. Here's a list of those writing the exams:
  • Grade 6: Joseph, Stevenson, Dieujuste, Donald, and Kendrick
  • Grade 9: Mikerlange, Mirlène, St. Germain and Rosnel
  • Grade 12: Ricardo, Dada, TiBen
  • Grade 13: Caleb
Thank you for your prayers. Pray that they'd be diligent to study, that they'd be in good health to write the exams, and that they'd be examples to the other students as they write their exams.

The Saturday boy's club continues to meet, but this Saturday will be the last as everyone is preparing for exams and then summer vacation is here. We do have plans to do some things with these boys during the summer as well, to keep up our connection with them. Continue to pray for them to put into practice the things they are learning, and for those who do not yet know Jesus as their Savior, that they'd fully understand the Gospel message, and come to faith in Christ.

There are several things going on at the HOH that we aren't able to share with you, but still desperately need your prayers. Hopefully in the next month or so we'll be able to share everything with you, but in the meantime, we'd appreciate your prayers for wisdom, a Godly attitude and the fruits of the Spirit as we deal with some difficult situations. Thank God with us that He is Faithful, and totally in control, and we can count on Him for everything we need.

We appreciate your partnership in this ministry very much...God bless, and hopefully the next update won't be as long in coming as this one has been!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pressure...

That single word aptly describes what life has been like at the HOH these past few weeks. We've been experiencing a lot of it on many different levels, and the ups and downs of it all has made life feel like an never-ending emotional roller-coaster ride. Here's a bit of a glance of some of the things we've been dealing with...

The most recent incident of dealing with pressure happened very early this morning. I had had one of those nights, you know where you can't sleep, your mind is thinking about a million things all at once (none of which seem very logical by 10 am the next morning). It was 3:30 am and I had already tried reading a book, spent time praying, and was about to pull out the book again when my phone rang. In the 5 seconds it took me to reach for the phone and see who was calling me numerous scenarios had already gone through my mind...is it family, a friend, a wrong number? Who calls people before 4am? Then I saw it was Benitha, our oldest girl who stays with the younger girls downstairs. "Jenny", she said, " one of the propane tanks is leaking, I can hear it, and we can smell the gas". I jumped out of bed, woke up one of the older boys thinking perhaps it had a leak at the top and we just needed to turn it off. I was wrong! At the very bottom of the tank was a hole, and propane was hissing out with a lot of force! It had just been installed and was completely full, and we could already smell propane throughout the whole house. We quickly woke everyone up and sent them outside, called in some help from our neighbors/friends, and tried to plug the hole...umm, we found out that was not possible! Not even with duct tape, which we have been told can do pretty amazing things. Needless to say, a lot of praying was going on, as were phone calls back and forth to my brother-in-law in TX who works in the gas industry. In the end, everything worked out OK, one of our maintenance men came and unhooked the tank, carted it far away, and eventually the propane dissipated, no one was hurt, and nothing was damaged...and for that we praise God for his graciousness to us.

Wisenika, a cute baby girl who had been abandoned at the local hospital joined the HOH family in late January. She had been born with multiple disabilities, but seemed to be doing ok until a couple of weeks ago. She took a turn for the worse, and nothing we did seemed to help. After weeks of struggling to survive she passed away on Friday evening. We were relieved to see her suffering relieved, but it's always hard to lose one of our kids.

On Monday of this week we received word that Jn Daniel's younger brother who lives in Port-au-Prince (PAP) had been hit by a truck. He had been driving a little motor scooter. Their uncle in PAP had been trying all day to find out where they had taken him, and late Monday afternoon they found out he had died during the course of the day and had been taken to a morgue. As you can imagine, it was a shock to everyone, especially Jn Daniel's family, but here at the HOH when one of our kids is hit with something like this it hits us all. We all shed tears as Jn Daniel wept for his brother, who was not a believer. With much planning, Jn Daniel picked up his mom and another brother and they headed to PAP on Tuesday to help with the funeral plans. Please pray for this family in their time of grief. Jn Daniel is the only believer, pray that in the midst of his own grief he would be a witness for Christ, and have the opportunity to once again share his faith with his family.

Max, who had broken his leg a few weeks ago was able to get his cast taken off...note for anyone who has ever wondered: it takes hours to soak off a plaster cast! No sooner did he have his cast off when Marco slipped on a wet spot on the floor and broke his arm! I guess with 100 kids around we shouldn't be surprised by having a few broken bones every now and then. We have been speculating as to who might be next, especially since they kids have pulled out some of our old roller blades and have started to whip around the house with them again!


Several of the kids came down with malaria, Micah was by far the sickest of them all. For days he couldn't keep anything in him, and we couldn't keep an IV going as he was so agitated. Everyone took turns trying to help out, even Lala & Nani, who decided to climb into his crib with him. Thankfully, we eventually got the malaria under control, and he is doing much better.

Add to these events, exams at school for the kids, and numerous other fairly major pressures we aren't able to share with you, it has been quite a month! So we are so very thankful for your prayers on our behalf, even though sometimes you may not know exactly what's going on, but you pray for us nonetheless. Thanks!

Lest you think we are by any means discouraged....think again! Remember the roller-coaster ride, with the ups and the downs. Well, with all the "downs", we've had some pretty major "ups" during this month as well, and they by far outweigh the "downs". So, let me share with you some of our more encouraging moments of the past couple of weeks.

Remember the group of about 60 young boys who have been attending our Character Studies every Saturday afternoon? Well, they just can't get enough of the Bible stories and lessons we've been teaching them. They get very upset if we have to cancel for some reason, and we've received numerous reports back from people in the community wondering what's been going on with these boys because they can see obvious change in their lives. One lady told us about one of the boys who every day shares Bible verses he's read in his personal devotions with whatever friends he runs into. Another mother came by to tell us she doesn't even recognize her son anymore, he's a totally different boy. She couldn't thank us enough for taking an interest in helping these young men. Well, a few weeks ago the boys themselves came to us and asked us if we would study the "Young Peacemaker" series with them. We had done that series with the HOH kids over the past couple of years, and have posters of different lessons still hanging up around the HOH. They've seen the posters and have decided that they want to learn what the Bible says about getting along with others, and helping them resolve conflict! Ok, I admit, I was just a bit shocked to have them come and ask us that. So, we are going to make some time this summer to teach them those lessons as well. It's so neat to see God working and transforming these young lives!

Then, the young people of the HOH decided they wanted to do something special over the Easter weekend. They spent hours planning a "Spiritual Life Conference" with the theme of "Living in Unity with each other", and using the life/death and resurrection of Jesus as an example for us all. It was really exciting for me to see them implementing some of the different techniques of teaching that I've been using with them in our Bible studies over the past few months. They did skits, role plays, story telling, and all kinds of things to share their message. It was a great week, ending with an incredible worship & celebration service Sunday morning. We had over 100 people from our local community join us each night throughout the week, and on Sunday morning as well. On Saturday night we had a time of testimony for anyone who wanted to share. Some of you may remember Clervi, he was one of our older boys who out of rebellion left the HOH some years back, and has not lived a life pleasing to the Lord since then. He showed up for every meeting, and on Saturday night got up in front of everyone and said he knows he has not lived as he should, and that his relationship with the Lord has really gone backwards. He asked everyone to pray for him, that this would be a new beginning for him, and that he'd regain that ground that he'd lost. Wow, that was incredible to hear, and so we'd love for you to pray along with us for Clervi, that'd he'd be serious in his decision to start anew, and that he would grow in his walk with the Lord.

So...the ups, the downs...it's all been there, but what a joy it is to know that we serve a living God, a resurrected Lord; and it is a privilege to be His hands and feet bringing His hope to the children and young people in our corner of Haiti. Thanks so much for your prayers, your support, and your encouragement.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's 70°F. and we are chilled!

We aren't great weathermen here at the HOH, but one thing we know these days, we're having a lot of rain, and a lot of very cool (for us) weather. The jackets/sweaters/pants/blankets are back out again as we brave low temperatures around 21°C during the nights. Ok, so I know these are spring temperatures for many of you, so we are trying to "enjoy" it as best we can, and think happy thoughts of spring along with you all...

Our numbers here at the HOH have not gone down at all. We are now sitting at 99 kids, we did hit 100 last week, but unfortunately one little girl passed away over the weekend. The incoming kids continue to have malnutrition, but we also received one little girl who is a Collodion Baby this week. I had never heard about it before and had to look it up on the internet. It is a skin condition that the babies are born with, this little girl is 4 months old, her name is Jepsny. She is greatly improved since coming here and being plastered in Vaseline twice a day, but her condition is so terrible I can't even think of sharing photos with you all. Hopefully, one day she'll improve enough for me to do so.

We were very glad to receive a shipment of food from World Vision last week. Their food helps us supplement what we feed the children, and enables us to save money by not having to purchase everything that we need. We are also able to help numerous people in our area who have been having trouble feeding their families, by sharing some of the food we received with them.

The kids are back to school, and most will begin to write their exams this week. They'd appreciate your prayers as they study and attempt to pull their grades up with this mid-term exam.

My trip to Miami went really well. I had a great time with our friend at the Miami Shores Presbyterian Church. It was a really great weekend of hearing what God is doing around the world, and I was very happy to be part of it by sharing what God is doing here at the HOH.

We are back on schedule with our Bible Studies, and kid's clubs. Last week one of the young men who comes to our Saturday afternoon Bible club accepted Jesus as his Savior, it was a very happy time for us to see him make this decision. Please continue to pray for these studies, that God would use them in all of our lives, to enable us to reflect Jesus to those around us. Pray for Shilder, that he would grow in his new found faith.

Please continue to help us pray for people to support this ministry financially, as you can imagine with the economic crisis everywhere, we are feeling it here too. Pray that God would provide for all of our needs, and that our faith would remain strong as we wait on Him to do that.

Sorry to not have more interesting news/pictures for you on this blog. These days are days of simply pressing on, sharing the love of Jesus with those we come in contact with. Please pray that we would be faithful to love God and others as we live among and interact with people in this area of Haiti.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Time for an update!

A great big tropical hello to everyone! These have been beautiful days, not too hot, not too cool; a mix of rain and sun, vacation from school, and much activity here at the HOH. Our numbers got up to a whopping 98 this week, two have since returned to their homes, and another has come, so we are now sitting at 97 kids! I don't think I need to say it, but I will anyway, it's a bit wild and crazy around here!
Most of the kids coming in have severe malnutrition like Jameson who just arrived today. It's sad but with all the nutrition programs being run throughout Haiti today, they only want to treat the ones with severe malnutrition. That means that when children like Jameson come to the hospitals or clinics to be treated before they are gravely ill, they are sent away with no nutritional help at all. Two to three weeks later they are severely malnourished and on the verge of death, and that's when we get them at the HOH. We usually find out quickly which way they are going to go, and in all reality they don't spend a lot of time here. It usually only takes a couple of weeks of treatment for them to be healthy again, and for most of the children we receive that is the way things turn out. For the few who don't make it, they are only at the HOH for a matter of days, if even that before they pass away. It is a frustrating reality these days, and while we wish it wasn't so, we are so thankful that we are here to receive these little ones in their time of need. We are even more thankful for all of you who enable us to give them hope.

We have had a very busy month of February, full of activity. We've had visitors or teams every day, except for 4, during this month. We enjoyed the team from East Stroudsburg, PA. They were a great encouragement to us, and helped with numerous projects around the HOH and especially at the hospital. Of course it was great having our good friend Bonita and her family here for a few days, and also the men from Wisconsin with Doug Anderson. The few days they were here were days of great encouragement for us, and we appreciated the times of sharing and prayer we were able to have together.

One of our dogs gave birth to 8 puppies, adding greatly to the general population of the HOH. Thankfully many people in our area wanted the pups and we were able to get rid of them quite quickly, but before they found homes the pups endured many hours being "loved" by the kids here at the HOH. No one "loved" them more than Nani, she was constantly carrying them around, and amazingly they never seemed to mind.

The young people of the HOH planned a Valentines party for the evening of the 14th. We enjoyed a nice evening playing games, and just spending time with each other. It was nice that it was Ernst' birthday that day too...we love reasons to have a party around here!

Our friends from Simcoe, ON have been here for a week now. They always bring a lot of excitement to the HOH, as I'm writing this update they are teaching the kids to play floor hockey in our hallway! They've brought an activity for every day including sewing projects, a number of the girls have learned to sew cloth diapers for us to use. Other fun things they've been doing with the kids is hand painting, face painting (see Jn Mary's lovely face in the picture!) lots of toys and fun games. Since the kids have been on vacation from school it's been great having activities to keep them busy, and let them enjoy themselves. The Simcoe crew hasn't only brought along fun and games, they've also brought some good times of learning and fellowship. Last night their team leader, Wally, spoke to the kids in our family devotions. He talked about how they are lights in our community here in Haiti, and how they needed to shine brightly for the glory of God. To illustrate his point he passed out flashlights to each of us, and turned off the lights and turned on the flashlights and sang "This little light of mine". It was a special time of remembering how we are to be lights to those around us, and it was great time of fellowship with our friends from Canada!

The reason the kids have been off school is because it's "Carnival" week here in Haiti. For two days this past week we opened up the HOH to the kids in the community to come and have some "fun days", we set things up almost like fair, there was games, movies, music, food and lots of fun. At times there were well over 100 people here at a time (not counting our 98!). All of the boys who are involved in our Saturday Bible club were here (you can see them playing dominoes in this picture), as well as a number of employees from the hospital, and other people from our community. Everyone was able to find something to enjoy themselves, and we were proud of our young people for their hard work in pulling off these fun days. Once again St. Germain did the bulk of the planning and organizing for the day, he really has a talent for these types of things.

In spite of all the other ativity, I've been able to get a few office/administrative type things accomplished, the biggest of which was a new prayer card for the HOH. It only took me about 40 tries to get the picture that we wanted, mostly because my subject (Lala, who will turn 4 in a month, can you believe it!) has really turned into quite the little ham (this is one of the pictures we had to scrap as she struck this pose right as I clicked the picture!). I did finally get one we liked however, but you'll have to wait to see the finished product...

I'm hoping to get a prayer letter written in the next couple of days, and also a new presentation as I'll be speaking at a missions conference at the Miami Shores Presbyterian Church during the weekend of March 5-8th. So you can keep me in your prayers as I try to get a lot done, in the midst of some already very busy days.




There's lots more I could write about, like Max who turned 1, learned to stand and then promptly broke his leg all within a few days of each other!






Or, Altagrace, who after more than 4 years of sitting in a wheelchair unable to use her legs has actually starting to walk using a walker...who would have thought this day would ever come? You'll be hearing more about this in the future!

But they've taken the power, the hockey game is winding down, and our afternoon meal is really starting to smell good, so I best get moving. It's been fun going through a recap of life here over the past few weeks with you though...

We'd appreciate your prayers as we continue to grow, shine and reflect Christ to those around us. Please pray for all the travel that's coming up over the next week and a bit, the team taht's here will be leaving, another group of visitors will be coming, then I'm leaving for Miami. I'll be back in Haiti on the 10th of March, Lord willing. Pray for a good time at the mission's conference, and if any of you live in that area and want to come and hear the presentation, and visit with me, please contact the church for more details. Pray too that God, who is faithful, would supply all of our needs during these days as we receive more and more kids needing our help.

One last thing. Some of you have written questions or requests in the comment option on this blog. The only problem with that is that it doesn't give me a way to get back in touch with you, so if you'd like to write me an e-mail asking your questions feel free to do so at: houseofhope1@hotmail.com

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Off and running in the New Year...

It hardly seems like a new year anymore. The way this year is flying by it'll be over before we know it!

The new year started for us with full schedule of visitors and visiting teams. The whole months of January and February were and are completely occupied with visitors, including every single day of the month of February! I'm not sure what it takes to become an official travel agent/tour guide but if hours put into making travel arrangements count for anything I must be close! We do enjoy these teams and visitors however, and look forward to the ones still on their way here.

The team from Snohomish, WA was here for two weeks starting mid January. As usual, they fixed tons of things around the HOH and also the hospital and various campuses. We so appreciate these guys who come back every year, and work so hard to get everything in fixed and in order again. They always find things to fix, usually things I didn't even know needed it! This year we were able to take a trip with them out to Bayeaux (outside of Cap Haitian) where Linda's mom lives. It was an interesting trip, as it was the first for me to go by motor boat around parts of the North coast where the road isn't passable. Going there wasn't so bad, but coming back the waves were huge, and the captain not quite as good, and most everyone got a good case of sea sickness! We were all quite happy to get our feet on solid ground again.

A week and a half later I turned around and went back out again, this time with our friend Jeb. We decided to drive out there on this trip, and about 7 hours later weren't too sure which was worse...I mean we only went about 40 miles up the coast, as a crow flies. Unfortunately, we couldn't take the crow's road...it was either: an hour and a half in a bumpy car over terrible roads followed by an hour in a boat over wavy waters followed by a 10 minute hike then another hour and a half over completely horrible, never before seen so terrible roads; or 7 hours bumping along over terrible roads driving about 100 miles just to get to the town about 40 miles away. I've come to believe that helicopters area a great thing...I guess I don't need to say how sore and tired we were, but they were good trips, and it was good catching up with Linda's family again.

This week we look forward to a group from E. Stroudsburg, PA (they are traveling here as I write). They will be working on a number of projects at the hospital, and also spending time with our kids here at the HOH for a week. Then our good friend Bonita and her family will pop in for a quick visit, followed by a quick visit from Pastor Doug Anderson and some friends. Hopefully I'll get a chance to update you all before the next group comes after that.

Things have been going well at the HOH. We had a bit of a lull in the numbers of children moving through here, allowing us to catch our breath, and catch up on everyone's name. When they are coming and going so quickly it's hard to keep up with everyone! We currently have a total of 91 kids and young people here, most of those being admitted continue to have severe malnutrition. One little six year old girl, Fredeline came in late December swollen from head to toe with a protein deficient form of malnutrition (first picture) - KWASH. Now just over a month later she is doing incredibly well and almost doesn't even look like the same girl (2nd picture). She is a little giggle box, who loves being here and playing with the other children. Her family is amazed at her recovery, and spoke to our staff members about it. They said they would now give testimony that God was here in the House of Hope. They said, "We visited so many witchdoctors, doctors, churches and hospitals with Fredeline, none of them were able to help us. But here, God healed our little girl." This story is repeated countless times over and over again at the HOH, and not everyone gets it, but are we sure glad when they do, because it really is all about Him. God is here and He is working, to Him be all the glory!

What a joy and privilege it is to be God's hands and feet, bringing hope to these precious children. We certainly couldn't do it without all of your help, praying for us and supporting us in the many ways you do. So thank you for helping God's glory be known, in this little corner of the world.

Here are some prayer requests for the next little while (see I do have high hopes of updating you again before too long!):
  • Some of our students didn't do too good on their first semester of school this year. We had a very serious and stern talk with them over the weekend, and they all have renewed their intentions to study hard and get better grades. Pray for them to be faithful in this part of their lives and to make the effort to study hard, and learn the things they need to.
  • Pray for all the traveling of our visitors to and from the HOH. Many are coming and going, so pray that all the logistics would work out, and that they would have safety as they travel here.
  • Pray for the various Bible Studies we continue to do with our young people, the children, and they 60 or so boys from out in the neighborhood. It is really hard for me to find the time to make up all the various Bible Study materials, so pray that when I do find the time that I would be able to use it wisely and be able to stay on task to get the lessons prepared. Pray that God's Word would continue to transform our lives, and to make us more like Jesus every day.
  • The economic troubles all over have affected us here as well. Pray that God would continue to provide for all of our needs, and that He would give us wisdom as to how we can better use the resources He has already given us.
Thanks again for your various means of support. God bless you all.