A Haitian Vacation

Recently, we took a few days out of our normal schedule, for a road trip!  Our family, along with the Kaeb family, enjoyed 4 days of driving, sight seeing, and relaxation!  (OK, some of the drive was not enjoyable or relaxing, but was necessary to get to where we wanted to go.  And, of course, we were in good company!) We all piled in the Land Cruiser, 5:30 am Friday morning, to start our journey. 20171103_091503

(Yes, we folded up the regular side-facing seats, and sat in camp chairs so we could all face-forward, and try to avoid car sickness!  The camp chairs actually made for a very comfortable ride, and took the massive pot holes and bumps quite well!).

2 stops, and 12.5 hours later, we arrived in Cap Haitien.  We were so thankful for safety on the roads, and so delighted to get out of the car.  We stayed at a small hotel that overlooked the city of Cap Haitien and the bay.  The view was gorgeous!  20171103_180043

After supper, a dip in the pool, a good nights sleep, and a yummy breakfast, we loaded up and headed to the Citadel and San-Souci Palace. (Seeing these 2 historical places was the main purpose of our trip.  This is something we have wanted to see since living in Haiti.).

We were not disappointed!  The palace, Citadel, and the view, were amazing!

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We started our tour at the Palace, built in 1810.  It was the residence of Henri Christophe.  Since being built, it has been partially destroyed by several different earthquakes.  The detailed infrastructure and architecture were still amazing!  20171104_095201

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From the palace, we mounted our 4-legged friends, to ride 3.1 miles uphill to the Citadel.  This journey took us 1.5 hours.  Here is where I want to mention that horseback riding in Haiti, is not like horseback in the US!!!!  (Enough said, I won’t go into further details, except to say I appreciate a nice American saddle, stirrups, and healthy horse.) We are very thankful that we didn’t have to walk 3000ft uphill to the Citadel, but we would have appreciated knowing that we could have driven our vehicle the majority of the way up! Haitians have to make money too, right!??

1.5 hours after we started out, we arrived at the Citadel. For us, it was well-worth the trouble getting up to it, although I’m not sure about the horses…… The Citadel was a large mountain-top fortress built during the Haitian slave rebellion in 1805.  It was built at 3000ft above sea level to deter attacks and provide a look-out.

The view from the top was breathtaking!  20171104_120608

The fort had cannons of various sizes, obtained from different nations.  A few of them still had the crest from the corresponding nation.  There were huge stockpiles of cannonballs still sitting at the base of the Fort.

After touring the Citadel, we mounted our horses for the journey back down the mountain.  Thankfully, Scott went ahead of us on the back of a Moto taxi, instead of his horse, to get our vehicle, so we could get back down in a more time-effective manor!  When we met back up with Scott, he was not feeling the best, and looked a greenish color, from his nerve wracking, death defying ride.   (I will spare you a picture of this.)

Our next, and most relaxing stop of the vacation, was 6 hours south of the Citadel.  We stayed Saturday night at a nice beach resort called Moulin Sur Mer.  The resort and grounds were beautiful, and the weather was perfect!  We felt like we were not even in Haiti!  Our rooms were clean, air conditioned, and nicely furnished!  The food was even American!   The resort had a great pool, and the beach/snorkeling was amazing!  We thoroughly enjoyed every minute spent at the resort.

They even had mini-golf, a first for us in Haiti!!

Sunday afternoon, we drove to Petionville, and stayed overnight at the Best Western, very nice by any American standard!  Monday, we toured the Haiti Baptist Mission, visited a couple of American-style grocery stores, and enjoyed the view overlooking Port-au-Prince, before heading back to Les Cayes. 20171106_091740

We were thankful to make it home safe and sound Monday evening.  We were welcomed home with supper from the Walder family!   On our 4 day road trip, we clocked 578 miles.  Now, that probably doesn’t seem like a lot of miles to the average American, but to those that have visited Haiti, and have been on these roads, that is quite a feat for 4 days!!!  We are thankful for the time away, and we appreciate getting to see a different part of this beautiful island.

Azile Dorcus

Azile Dorcus is a special place in Haiti.  It is a place where elderly Haitians reside, that do not have family to take care of them.  Basically, a nursing home.  Every time I go visit, my heart is touched by these kind, gentle souls.  The joy emanating from the residents, is contagious!  I always leave Azile feeling more thankful and blessed.  The residents have very little materially, but they do not lack in spirit or zeal for the Lord!  They are a great example of contentedness for me.

Recently, a group from Roanoke church sent gifts for each resident.  The men each received a new button-down shirt, slacks, and a hygiene kit (soap, wash cloth, tooth brush, tooth paste, clippers, etc.).  The ladies received a day dress, as well as a hygiene kit.  Each gift was cleverly packed in a pillow case, so each resident received a nice, new pillow case too!  It was evident that the residents do not receive gifts often!  There was singing, shouting for joy, and lots of dancing!!  I wish everyone that participated in putting the gifts together, could have been here to see the emotion and thankfulness shared that afternoon!

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Thank you to those of you that shopped and put these gifts together!  It was so fun to bless and encourage these Haitians with the gifts!

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Recently, we had the opportunity to hand out hygiene kits to the Renault Sunday school kids.    The kits were decorated and assembled by families from our Roanoke congregation, during a HarvestCall Family Missions Night at church, specifically for the Renault group!   The Haitian kids were so thankful and loved the decorated bags with “Jesus loves you” written on them.

From Roanoke, IL

To Les Cayes, Haiti

The kids waited patiently in line to receive their gift.IMG_1063

In addition to the hygiene pack, the children received their usual rice pack, as well as a pair of flip flops. Needless to say, their arms were filled and overflowing at times!

 

To those who participated in family missions night, thank you so much!  Thank you for giving of your time and talent to bless these children!  We appreciate the opportunity to not only share God’s word and truths with these children, but to provide for their health and hygiene needs this week!

Back in the swing of things

After a wonderful furlough in the US, we find ourselves settling back into the “normal” routine of life in Haiti.  It’s hard for me to believe that the beauty, chaos, and disorder of Haiti, actually feels like home, but it does!  By God’s grace, I am satisfied, and even comfortable at times, living in this foreign land.   We thank you all for your prayers for our adjustment back!

Here’s a little update, and a few of the things we are thankful for upon our return!

The girls were glad to get back into their school routine.  Bri (senior) and Chloe (freshman) are both doing their classes at home this year.  This was a big change for Chloe, as she has been at the local missionary school for the past 4 yrs, but she loves it!  Gabby (7th grade) is in the missionary school.

We are so thankful for our missionary family.  It was nice to return home and catch up with our friends that we hadn’t seen all summer!

We were also welcomed home by our Haitian family and friends!

The blessing of worshipping at Renault!  We are so thankful to be able to serve alongside Rod, Debbie, & Katie Wray in their ministry!

We also look forward to Isaac & Brittany Steiner and family joining the Construction Dept.  They arrive in 2 weeks!  Please pray for them as they say their goodbyes, and transitions to their new culture and home.

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Rainy Season and update

In mid-April, we experienced our first sun halo.  fullsizeoutput_c19

A sun halo, according to wikipedia, is “an optical phenomenon that belongs to the family of ice crystal halos, in the form of a ring with a radius of approximately 22° around the Sun or Moon.”  To us, it looked like a rainbow around the sun. (The picture doesn’t truly capture its beauty.) It was truly magnificent, more evidence of our awesome Creator, displaying His beauty through His creation.  We asked different Haitian’s about the sun halo, and got varying responses anywhere from, “it is a sign of the end times,” to “we are going to get a lot of rain in the next month.”  It very well could be a sign of the end times, but the Haitian who predicted it meant a lot of rain, was right on!

For the the first time in almost 4 years of living in Haiti, we are experiencing our first real rainy season.  It has been characterized with regular, nightly rains, and a couple of 3-4 day stretches of all day and night rains.  Fields and roads are currently flooded, rivers are raging, and most everything in our house feels damp.  We have been praying for rain, for drought stricken Southern Haiti, for 4yrs.  And here it is, God has faithfully, in His time, provided rain to Haiti.  Through this rainy season, God revealed a verse in the Bible, that has brought on a whole new perspective……

Hosea 6:3 “….He will come to us like the rain, like spring rain watering the earth.”

What a promise!  As I write this, physically, it is pouring down rain outside, and has been for 24 hours!  It seems like the floodgates have been opened up!  Likewise spiritually, God promises that when we call upon the Lord, when we seek Him with our whole heart, we will find Him!  He will come to us, pouring out His healing, comfort, love, strength, grace, goodness, sending what He knows we need, and can’t get for ourselves.  Great is His faithfulness!

It has been awhile since my last post, so I thought it would be good to share updates on some of the blessings in our life.

I’d like to start with a thanks to everyone who has prayed for Bos Ezekiel!  He saw the Orthopedic Dr yesterday, and received great news.  His arm is completely healed, no restrictions.  His leg is well on its way, and he was released to start walking without his boot or walker!  Dr.Belding feels his leg will heal fully and he will be released without restrictions at his appointment in July!  We hope to see his smiling face back in the construction yard soon!  FullSizeRender

Renault Sunday school is going strong and we continue to see God’s hand at work!  Rod & Debbie had a construction team put an addition on the side of the pavilion!  Now, everyone has a seat, and a dry, covered area to praise the Lord in!  It is so neat to see first hand, how God continues to grow this ministry!  IMG_0088

Speaking of Renault, we recently helped with a distribution of shoes and clothes!  We want to thank our home church of Roanoke, for all the clothes and shoes that you gave at the VBS collection last year. We put those donations together with clothes and shoes that the Wray’s received, and had more than plenty to go around!  I also want to personally thank 2 ladies from Roanoke.  One, who bought, collected, cleaned up, and boxed hundreds of pairs of shoes, that she donated!  And the other, who cleaned out DG’s end of the season flip flops and sandals to donate!  I wish you both could have been here to see the smiles on the kids faces!

 

The shoe pile!

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The girls celebrated their day off school on May 1st, by making cookies and delivering baskets to our neighbors.

We celebrated Chloe’s 14th birthday!  She is such a blessing in our life!  It is such a privilege to see how God is shaping her heart and using her for His kingdom!fullsizeoutput_c18

Bri and I attended a weekend retreat with our fellow missionary ladies.  I’m thankful it was a time of spiritual refreshing, and for the time I was able to spend with Bri.  A few of us hiked a small mountain, and really enjoyed God’s beautiful creation from the top!  FullSizeRender

My teaching responsibility at the Cite Lumiere Christian School has officially ended!  I’m thankful for the opportunity I had to teach Science to these 8th graders, and to get to know these young adults a little bit better.

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The past 2 months, these three ladies have been getting together regularly, to praise the Lord!  It has been awesome to hear their music and laughter fill the house!

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Pickle ball is one of our families new hobbies!  We have a pickle ball court measured out in the depo! fullsizeoutput_704

Sharing popsicle’s with some of the orphanage girls! IMG_0012fullsizeoutput_c22

Thanks to all those that send encouragement via emails, mail, and packages!  It is definitely a highlight in our week, to hear from those that love us back “home.” IMG_0050

Lastly, I’m thankful for my HarvestCall family, here in Haiti!  In a recent tragedy,  Janella Zimmerman,  a wife and mother to 2 young children, was called home to be with the Lord.    Though we rejoice that Janella won her victory and is in heaven, we are heartbroken for David, Cassia, Orin.  We are reminded that each day is a gift and a blessing.  We should use each day to live and serve God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.  Please continue to lift this dear family up in prayer, as well as our missionary family in Bonne Fin.15138340_1738600266463299_176130484978970140_o

May we all “Set our minds on things above, not on earthly things,” Colossians 3:2.

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Health kits!

I want to take a little time to share about Health kits.  First of all, there are several different “kits” that are assembled at Apostolic Christian Churches across the United States.  Some of the different kits include health kits, school kits, sewing kits, first aid kits, and infant kits.   Once the kits are assembled by different churches, they are sent to HarvestCall distribution centers, to be shipped to countries such as Jamaica, Mexico, and Haiti.

At the construction department, we are thankful to receive and distribute the health kits and sewing kits.   For many, many years, the construction department has used the health and sewing kits to hand out as gifts to the local Haitian ladies that cook for our construction teams out in the villages.   The ladies are always so thankful for the gifts!  fullsizeoutput_5faThis past October, after Hurricane Matthew ravaged southern Haiti, we were so thankful to have a small stock of health kits in our depo, or storage building.  With the help of another mission organization, we were able to distribute the kits to Haitians in the villages that were the hardest hit.  Since the hurricane, we have received and distributed thousands of health kits to those in need.

Health kits include; soap, washcloth, nail clippers, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and a hair comb.  Occasionally, we receive kits with shampoo.  img_0013.jpg

We feel it is necessary to pass on a huge “Thanks,” to those that organize, purchase supplies, assemble, pack, and ship the different kits!  We also thought you might enjoy a few pictures of some of the recipients.

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Thanks again for all those that have invested time and effort into health kits!  Your efforts are not wasted!  The health kits have blessed many Haitians, and will continue to do so for many years! It’s our hope and prayer that God will continue to be glorified and that His love will be shared to those receiving health kits!   Matthew 25:40, “…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”  

Eureka Bible Team

We just finished a great week with a small team from Eureka Bible church!  We are so thankful that Scott’s mom, sister, and brother-in-law came to visit, and that they brought Pat, an awesome mechanic! They were a small, but mighty team, and got a lot of work accomplished!

We were blessed by Cory, Kim, & Edie’s organizing skills!  They spent 2 days cleaning and organizing plumbing and electric supplies, while Pat worked his magic on some of the vehicles.

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We at worshipped at Renault on Sunday morning, and helped with a distribution of clothes and health kits afterwards!!

The team spent 2 days working with Scott, Ed, and their Haitian bosses putting a roof on a church in a local deaf village.  The team really enjoyed getting to know Tony & Cilda, the missionary couple in charge of the project.  They also enjoyed interacting with the deaf children at the school.

Bri and Chloe were also thankful for Kim’s hair cutting skills!!  She did a great job!

We enjoyed many dinners together on the porch, as well as dinner at the Bistro, a local French restaurant!  (Thanks, Pat!). IMG_0763IMG_0781

We spent our last day together exploring one of our favorite little islands, and enjoying the natural beauty of this country!

Thanks so much for visiting us!  We had an awesome week with you!IMG_0793

Update on life!

Life continues to keep us on our toes!  Between our visiting construction teams, transition in the construction department, and everyday life, we are thankful for our “Rock,” the unchanging, Lord Jesus Christ!   He is our one and only “constant” not only here in Haiti, but in life.  We are so thankful that He is in control, and sovereign over all!  “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2

We enjoyed a great week with the Peoria team!  They got a lot of work completed, and had a lot of fun doing it!  What a great group of guys!  fullsizeoutput_7d2

Next was the Pinetta team!  Another great, encouraging week!   I was deeply impacted by this team’s huge hearts and love for the Lord.  It was evident in all they said and did!  2017-03-11 07.44.46

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Serving with the Wray’s at Renault continues to be a highlight of our week!  img_6405

We celebrated Bri’s 17th Birthday this week! Can’t believe how fast 17 years has gone!  IMG_0750

Today, Brent, Alisha, & Silas Wagenbach, our partners in the Construction department returned to Indiana.  It was bittersweet for us.  We are happy and thankful for them that they are following the Lord’s direction on this new path in their life, but we will really miss working with them here in Haiti.  We are so thankful for the many memories we have shared with them in Haiti.  They have been such a blessing to our family!   Pray for their family, as they adjust to their new life in the states. IMG_0745

The construction department’s farewell gathering at the beach for the Wagenbach’s. fullsizeoutput_79c

We are so thankful that Ed & Julie Sanders have joined us in full-time ministry at the construction department.  They are also a blessing to our family! Pray for them as they continue to transition to living in Haiti full time.  fullsizeoutput_821

Boss Ezekiel continues to recover.  He now has all his casts off, and gets around with a walking boot and a walker.  He is gaining strength and movement in both his arm and leg, and hopes to be cleared to return to work in May.  His positive attitude continues to amaze me.IMG_0744

Thank you for your continued prayers and love!

A week of translating!

The week following the Roanoke team, Bri, Chloe, & I had the privilege to translate for Rod & Debbie Wray’s medical team from Missouri!  The team consisted of 7 providers/Physicians, along with Nurses, Pharmacists, Paramedics, and other miscellaneous helpers.  We have gotten to know several of the team members from their previous visits, and really looked forward to translating for them!  This week didn’t disappoint!

The first 2 clinic days were held at Renault, the area we go every Sunday morning!  We love to use our translating skills to help this area, because they otherwise do not have access to medical care.  The Haitians are thankful for the opportunity to see a physician, even if they just receive vitamins or Tylenol!  It is fun to see the children that we have come to know and recognize, with a parent or other family member!  The team arrived early Monday morning to transform the pavilion into a clinic!  There was an intake/waiting area, Physician benches (exam rooms are a luxury that is not available :)), pharmacy, scabies treatment area, nursing/wound care/ treatment area, and dental clinic.  Clinic was started each morning with a prayer.  Over 750 patients were seen each day at Renault!

Wednesday, we moved to a different slum in Cayes, La Savonne, and worked out of a church!

Friday, the clinic was held at the Wray’s camp, and the Dr’s saw the local village folks!

Overall, it was a great week, and the team saw over 2800 patients in 4 days!  We were blessed to be able to use our Kreyol to help out with the medical clinics!  It was a great experience for all of us!  The Dr’s were so kind, patient, and even took the time to explain many diseases/symptoms to the girls, as they translated.  Bri & Chloe listened to heart murmurs, learned some basic assessment skills, and even assisted with some simple procedures!   Bri also learned how to take a blood pressure!  It was awesome to be a part of this team, to work together, and share a glimpse into the medical world with Bri & Chloe!  In Chloe’s words, “I wish I could translate for this medical team every week!”

Side note…..  Gabby would could have joined us as well, but decided not to due to her tendency to pass out when she sees blood or other abnormalities.  Let’s just say, medical is not her thing ;).

Roanoke team

Two weeks ago, we welcomed our hometown church team from Roanoke!  Our family had been looking so forward to this week, and we had such a special time together!  The week flew by, and was over way too quickly, but we were left with some great memories!!

Our first day, we recovered a school roof that had lost its roof in the hurricane!  The men worked on the school roof, while the ladies built and painted 10 school desks!  The local village children were around all day, and eager to help!  Once the desks were finished, we had lots of time to play!

Sunday, we had the opportunity to take the team to Renault Sunday school! It was such a blessing to be able to share this part of our life with those we love!

Sunday afternoon, we took the team to explore one of our favorite places, the waterfalls.20170212_155932

Whats the Roanoke team, without a good tarantula hunt??

Monday was back to business, as we headed off into the mountains to the village of Thomaset.  We drove 2.5 hrs, where we parked our vehicles, and prepared for our 3 hour hike in back to the village!   fullsizeoutput_624

Thankfully, we didn’t have to worry about carrying the lumber and tin for the church and school roofs.  The material had been dropped off 1 week prior, and carried back to the church by the church members!  We were also thankful to see the mules, that we loaded up with generators, water, cots, and supplies for our 3 day stay.

The hike was challenging!  There were many little hills, and 1 large, steep mountain to climb!  Thankfully, the ladies of the village, came and helped us with some of our supplies and packs! The Haitian ladies were so inspiring, as they quickly maneuvered the rocky paths, in little plastic shoes, carrying our supplies on their heads and backs!  So many spiritual lessons were learned from the journey!

The view when we arrived at Thomaset, was incredible!  We were able to see the north shore of the island!  fullsizeoutput_613

The guys went right to work on the school roof, as the ladies started the church benches.

Many memories were made as we worked, ate, and shared life together.

Tuesday afternoon, just as the men were finishing the church roof, it started raining!  We stood inside the church as it rained, and thanked the Lord, that this small community now has a dry place to worship the Lord!  The afternoon was topped off with this beautiful reminder of God’s promises!fullsizeoutput_5f8

Wednesday, we packed up, ate a small breakfast, and headed back to our vehicles. I think everyone was thankful to arrive back at the guest house, to have a soft bed, American food, and a shower!

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A big thanks, to the guys, who despite wanting to rest and shower when we arrived back, continued working on projects for the Construction Dept.

Thursday, we enjoyed a meal and spending time together at the beach!fullsizeoutput_607

We want to thank the Lord for His protection, provision, and for the spiritual blessings on the week!  We also want to say thank you to each and every person on the team, for taking time from your schedules to come down and encourage not only our family, but the other missionaries and the Haitian believers.  We had a memorable week, spending time out in the “bush” together with you!  One we will not soon forget!  We are so thankful for the bonds that were formed this week!  Love to all!