Back in Haiti

It’s hard to believe we are about to begin our 4th year in Haiti!  We spent a wonderful furlough in Roanoke.  It was such a blessing to be removed from the everyday stressers of life in Haiti, as well be surrounded by the love of family and friends. It was a time of refreshing and renewal for our family!   The time we shared, the love that was shown, and the memories made will help encourage us as we serve this next year.

We had great flights back to Haiti! We loved seeing the beauty of the Caribbean from above, on a clear day!

The start of our journey from Port au Prince to Les Cayes.

Some of the sights along the way. (I don’t love showing pictures of the negative side of Haiti, but it is a reality.  Plus, I’ve been told I put too many pictures of the beautiful side of the island!)

We have been back at Cite Lumiere for over a week, and we are settling back into a routine.  It’s been good to get back to our “purpose” in life, but there are certain things from a cultural standpoint, (as well as the heat and humidity😉) that just takes some time getting used to again. Thank you for your prayers as our family adjusts back to “normal” life.

We were thankful for the opportunity to return to see the children at Renault on Sunday mornings!

Thanks again for your prayers, and for following us on our journey as we extend God’s love to those in Haiti.

A bake sale!

Earlier this month, our good friends Jessica & Riley Beer, organized a bake sale.  They asked a few of the girls’ friends to bake desserts and treats, and then get together to sell them, to raise money for a “travel fund” for our family.  The intent of the travel fund is to have money put aside for airline tickets, if our family chooses to travel back to the US, other than for our yearly furlough.  The girls, (along with a little help from their moms and grandma’s), worked hard, and their efforts paid off!  Over $2000 was raised by a 2 hr bake sale in our small community!  Our family is so blessed by the love and support of our community!  Thanks to those who organized, baked, set up, and bought the yummy treats!  img_5473img_5445

The girls counting the money together!img_5472

 

Miles for Haiti 2016

We want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who supported the annual Miles for Haiti triathlon this year!   The event was a God-honoring, family event, that successfully raised a large amount of money for the construction department in Haiti.  The money raised at the event will go towards the costs of materials, used to put roofs on schools and churches for the MEBSH organization in Southern Haiti.  This is a huge blessing to the construction department, as well as the communities recieving roofs in Haiti.

Thanks to Ed & Bonnie Sauder for hosting the event, as well as the sponosors and many people who helped with the planning and organization.  Thank you to those that made donations, as well as the 180 people who participated!

Gathering before the event for instructions, prayer and message from Scott.

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The start of the tri with the swim

Random pics of the fun and fellowship from the morning!

We are humbled and blessed by the love and support from our Roanoke community!  We are encouaraged to have so many people come along beside, and walk this journey with us.  Mesi anpil! img_5434

Joy in that city!

We had the privilege of returning to Renault Sunday School program this past Sunday, after 8 long weeks!  Because of an incident occuring after the program on Easter Sunday, Sunday School was put on hold.  We have spent the past 8 weeks in prayer, alongside the Wrays, asking the Lord for direction and discernment for the Renault area and the program!  It has been a difficult time, knowing that the 1300 children that were used to receiving medical attention, food, and the word of God, were going without.  But, it has been faith building to see the Lord take a situation that “man” intended for bad or harm, and turn it for the good of these people, to bring glory to Him, and use it for His kingdom purposes.

As we turned into the slum on Sunday, we were welcomed by a group of adults and teens smiling and clapping!  As we continued to drive the alleyway through Renault, adults continued to stand on the side of the road, smiling, cheering,and giving thumbs up.  Typically in the past, the children were always thankful, and excited to see our vehicle pull in, but the adults would barely acknowledge our presence.  This time, we saw both men and women make a specific effort to stop what they were doing and welcome us in.  More and more children started following us, and soon our vehicle was surrounded on all sides, by children full of smiles!  The thankfulness, joy, and enthusiasm was palpable!  I wonder if the joy we felt in Renault, was anything similar to the “great joy in that city” mentioned in Acts 8:8, as the gospel was shared, and Christ was proclaimed to a city in Samaria??

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The pavillion was packed to overflowing, and bursting at the seams!  The worship was powerful!

We were all relieved to find our buddies again, and see that the Lord had provided for each of them during the past 8 weeks!

Join us in thanking and praising the Lord for the opportunity to serve these children again!  For those in the Roanoke area, we are taking a collection of gently used clothes, shoes, and backpacks during VBS, for these children.

Flag day & other fun, random events!

Last week, Haiti celebrated Flag day!  It is a yearly, national holiday that celebrates the Haitians freedom from slavery and independence.  I spent flag day with the residents at Azile Dorcus, the local nursing home!!  This year, the pastor organized a special party for the residents.  The Pastor had a devotional, followed by the residents sharing songs and/or testimonies of the Lord’s faithfulness through the years.  It was a special morning!

 

The students at CLCS school shared a track and field day with Bonne Fin Geckoes!

The last day of school and goodbye to Mr & Mrs. Ferris, who have been teaching for 15 yrs at CLCS!  This would be a good time to mention we are still looking for teachers for this coming school year! img_5232

Sharing freeze pops with the children at the orphanage!!

A fun day with friends on a small island!

 

Discovering a new island

We love having family and friends come visit us in Haiti!   It’s always a blessing when we get to share Haiti with those we love!  The week with my parents was no disappointment.  We decided to try  going to a new place, a little island off the main land, by Saint Louis.  We heard the island had an old French fort on it, as well as 2 shipwrecks close to the shore to snorkel around.  I want to preface this by saying trying new activities, places, and restaurants, in Haiti, is quite different from the US.  In the US, you typically know what you are getting.  It’s easy to look up reviews, and make an educated decision.  In Haiti, that is not the case.  Rarely, do we experience what is expected, and often we are disappointed.  We have found that it’s best to go into things with low expectations and with flexibility in mind. I’m not trying to be negative, its just a fact of life here.  So, we warned mom and dad that the island adventure could be a bust, but we decided it would be fun to explore a new place, and we would all be together.  We had a wonderful day!!  Everything went great!  The French ruins were amazing, the weather was perfect, the snorkeling was good, the beach was clean, the water was crystal clear, and we found cool shells!  Hard to believe we were in Haiti!!

A few other highlights from the week…..

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Lots of laughs and games

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Supper at the Bistro

Visits from friends

Celebrating Chloe’s 13th Birthday a few days early!

A puppet show at CLCS

The most touching experience of the week, occurred when we visited a local deaf school.  The school project is overseen by Jamaican missionaries, Tony & Cilda.  I could write an entire blog post on Tony & Cilda, and their faith (maybe in a future post).  It has been a privilege to get to know them, and witness their faith and contentment in the Lord.  We enjoyed getting to meet the deaf children, see their “classroom,” and then  hand out gift bags, donated by St.Peter Luthern church.

The school building

We want to thank mom and dad for visiting, and thank the Lord for a blessed week together!

Sam

If you have visited Cite Lumiere, and have been to the school yard, chances are that you have seen, or even met Sam.  Sam is Haitian gentleman, around 60 yrs of age (no one knows his exact age), who lives in a homemade tree house, nestled in the corner of the school yard.   He has been around this area for years, and grew up in an orphanage on the compound.  Sam is a friendly and unique individual.  Generally, you can find him raking or maintaining the school yard, climbing coconut tree’s, riding his bike, or hanging out in his tree house.   Often, you see him holding his fake gun, as he fulfills his self-appointed security guard duties.  He lives a pretty simple life, which is kind of refreshing.

It was recently noticed, that Sam’s tree house was becoming a hazard for him.  Termites had caused extreme damage, the roof was leaking, and much of the wood was rotten. After much discussion and planning, a simple design for a new house was formed, and approved by Sam.  Local missionaries donated the funds to build him a new house, and the construction department built it, with a little help from Sam.  It was a fun and rewarding project for Scott, Ed, and the bosses.   Scott enjoyed his interaction with Sam, and he let Sam choose where to place his windows, and what size he wanted them.

Sam’s house pieced together with old lumber, tree branches, and sticks.

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Here is the finished product…….  With a million dollar ocean view out the back!  img_4937img_4935-1

The old tree house, and the new house.

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Sam is so thankful for his new house, and very happy to show anyone who wants to see it.  Its good to know that Sam will stay safe and dry during the upcoming rainy season, and hopefully for many years to come!

Everyday life

Our family is on our 3rd year in Haiti.  When we first arrived, I wondered if I would EVER feel remotely comfortable in this new country and culture.   Through God’s faithfulness and provision, as well as the many prayers of our church, family, and friends, things that once looked and felt so strange, now seem fairly “normal.”  I would not say, I’m completely comfortable here, nor do I want to be.  But, I’m so thankful for the progress that has been made.

I get a lot of requests from those that have never visited Haiti, to post pictures of our environment.  So, I have made a specific effort in the past 1-2 weeks, to take pictures of my surroundings, some of which have become “normal” for me.   Things that I would once stop and stare at, I have realized that I barely notice.  Enjoy the beauty of God’s creation in southern Haiti, as I show you pictures from our “everyday life.”

The view from my morning walks.

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Thousands of cow paths to walk on.

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Tilling a field.

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A fence row

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Drying clothes on Cacti.

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Thatch walls and rusty tin roof.

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Thatch house and roof.

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Views of town/market.

(Too bad you can’t get the smells and sounds to go with it!)

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Views from a drive in the country.

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March

It’s been a busy month!  We have enjoyed several teams, including an awareness team, well-drilling team, trade school team, and a construction team from Florida/Georgia.  We have taken some time to have fun and relax too! Here are a few of the highlights from this month….

Chloe and I found a new “Tropical Garden!”  Its a really neat place, tucked away down a long path.  Chloe found lots of new plants and flowers for our pots!  Its not ‘Lawnscapes,’ but it is nice for Haiti!

Les Cayes has a new restaurant!    Its called the Bistro, and is located in downtown Cayes.  It has a large menu, its fairly quick, and has a nice, little outdoor patio out the back!  We have eaten there several times, and really enjoy the food!  We are excited to have a good place to eat out!

Bri turned 16 on the 21st!  We enjoyed dinner together as a family on her birthday, as well as taking her friends to the Bistro for dinner later in the week.

We spent a Sunday afternoon with the Seel family at a local beach.

 

Finally,  we hosted an Easter Sunrise service and breakfast on our roof!  We had over 100 missionaries join us in celebrating our Risen Lord, as the sun peeked up!  It was a neat morning, as we worshipped together.  After the service, we enjoyed breakfast together!
 

Over 100 made the effort to attend the sunrise service on our roof!
Some of the missionaries from Bonne Fin even made the trip early this morning!

Everything was beautifully set up by the Yordy's!

That pretty much sums up our highlights for March! We are looking forward to see what April has in store!

Roanoke Team, Part 2. The Weddings!

A little background on weddings/marriage in Haiti……  Haitian culture dictates that a couple should have their own house, with furniture, as well as a formal wedding ceremony and celebration in order to get married.  The problem with that, is the overwhelming majority of Haitians can not afford to do those things.  Its very rare, that a couple would get married without having these things in order.  So, a likely result is that couples live together and have children together, but are never married.  According to the bible, this is a sin.  Some of the social ramifications of this are the couples often feel shame throughout their life for living in sin, and they can’t be members of their local MEBSH church, which means they can’t serve or teach in the church.  The Wray’s wedding ministry is a way to work through the local MEBSH church, to provide the formal wedding attire as well as a small reception, after the pastor marries the couples.

Our team assisted 14 couples in getting married!  Preparations started the day before the wedding with some team members packing flowers, wedding dresses, suits, ties, shoes,etc… and others baking cupcakes!

After supper, we all helped cut 500 buns!  Many hands make light work! Singing while you work isn’t too bad either!

The next morning we were all up bright and early to put together the 500 pork sandwiches for the reception.  After breakfast, we loaded up and started the 1.5 hr drive to the church. Once at the church, we unloaded all the wedding attire, and set up the changing rooms for the brides and grooms.  The girls really enjoyed helping each of the brides pick out their dresses, shoes, veils, and flowers!

After each couple was dressed, they headed out to each of the 5 different photo stations!  The photographers had a tough job!  Culturally speaking, Haitians don’t smile for pics, nor do they show affection in public!  But, who wants a wedding album full of pictures with yourself frowning, and no kissing pics?!  So, each photographer and their assistant worked hard to get great pics!  Some even managed to get the couples to kiss for a picture!  Each photographer had specific pictures or poses they were to get.  This job wasn’t for the faint of heart or for those who were claustrophobic in big crowds!  You really have to look hard in some of the pictures to even see the photographer!  They did a great job!   Some of the grooms were sharply dressed in the suits that were collected by the Roanoke church!

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 Next was the ceremony! We ate lunch at the Pastors house, iced cupcakes, and prepared for the reception during the ceremony.img_4633img_463420160302_12421120160302_114346

The reception was as organized as chaos can be!   We had to make our way through the church, (completely packed with people) to hand out a sandwich, bottle of pop, and a cupcake to each of 20 guests for each bride and groom.  There was NO time or room to take pictures!  It was an experience the team will not forget!  One of the most impactful parts of the wedding ministry experience, was the following day, when the newly weds returned their borrowed dresses, suits, etc, in exchange for their wedding album and framed 4×6 picture of themselves.  The couples shared their personal testimony of how being married impacted and will impact their lives!  Each couple also shared their thankfulness first to the Lord, then to the pastor and team for making it possible.  One of the couples that were married, were in their 80’s, and had 14 children.  They were so thankful to finally be “legitimate” before God, and be able to be used in their local church.  The bride also shared how she hopes this will set a standard for her children of the the importance of being married.

Here are a few random pics from the week!

We will not soon forget our week spent with the Roanoke team!  We will cherish the memories that were made, and the bonds that were formed.  Thank you to each of you who made the effort to come and support our family!  May the Lord use your week in Haiti to touch your heart, and impact you in a deep way!   We love you!