Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The JOY found in GIVING!

       Many Hands Staff Christmas Party
Many Hands has been sharing blessings with many people, especially MH Haitian staff, during this Christmas season.

Above, Yves with his Christmas gift and to the left, Ermand taking his gift home.

Being on the giving end of the gift is a blessing in itself. What a 'gift' to be the giver, not feeling the need to receive a gift.

We did receive one physical gift this past week. In my opinion, a gift with so much worth. A recent MH team had put money together to bless a woman with the gift of a wheelbarrow. The woman had been renting a wheelbarrow from another person for 50 gourdes each time she used it. (The current exchange rate here is 75.5 Haitian gourdes to one US dollar.) She was using it to go up and down the street selling things, taking the wheelbarrow to the river to wash clothes, etc as a way to eeck out a living. One of the guys on the team was so impressed with her effort that he suggested the wheelbarrow idea. He had a motto... "Work will set you free".

      Shopping for a wheelbarrow in Pignon

     The team presenting their gift

The woman was so elated to receive the wheelbarrow. SO, this past week, the woman, Madam Damas, came to MH campus with a gift... a basket full of bananas, a joumou (pumpkin), and a bucket full of eggs. She wanted to express her gratitude. Amazing.

                                              Madam Damas

        A full gift basket

       Fresh eggs!

We hope you are experiencing the JOY found in GIVING during this season that will continue into the new year. God GAVE us His son, Jesus, born on this earth, so that he could be our example of how we can live a life of GIVING; GIVING PRAISE to GOD our Father, GIVING LOVE to those around us, GIVING HOPE in a broken, sinful world. There is JOY found here!

This is a season of giving. We are so blessed to have friends and family like you who give beyond the Christmas gift giving season. The support and love you share with us in various ways stays with us all year long. With humility and gratitude we say thank you for loving us. We truly have all we need in Jesus Christ and those that follow his example and give of themselves.

Just a glimpse of our Christmas Eve....  Our son Michael, his wife Brittany and her family are with us in Haiti.

Our Christmas Eve day celebration included pouring a concrete floor.

       Michael with father-in-law Jon and Haitian friend Kaiman

The whole crew with the family who is blessed with a new concrete floor.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!
     Tibens, Michael, Kaiman, Brittany, Ti Jezi

      Our Limousine to Christmas Eve service
          Jon, Michael, Brittany, and sister Hannah singing Christmas Carols in Creole by flashlight

                       MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Hear my cry, O God!

We had passed too many frustrating days interacting with some official processes within the realm of Haitian government. Our patience was depeleted well before our business at hand was finished. We know things don't go as we want them to in these situations but the pain of wasting preciouse time and even more so, precious resources, was intense. Returning home on two occasions with nothing to show for our effort was discouraging to say the least.

Psalm 61 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me abide in your tent forever, find refuge under the shelter of your wings. For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations! May he be enthroned forever before God; appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him! So I will ever sing praises to your name, as I perform my vows day after day.

Quite possibly, to put into perspective these times in the 'desert', God offered a taste of His sweet goodness in the most unexpected ways through some very dear friends that you may have 'met' before.

During a short road trip we found ourselves at Kaky's house in a nearby community called Bohoc. We were welcomed into the yard with an offer of a place to sit in the shade. We accepted even though we were not planning to stay. After passing some time together with Elisia, Kaky's mom, we wished her a good day. Elisia regretted she had nothing to give us. We said that her welcoming hospitality was a beautiful gift in itself.

Keeping an appointment to go to Joslin's house about two miles away to pick up two handmande chairs provided another experience of unexpected blessing. Joslin and his elderly father, Dieucel, each have a disability and have recieved PET carts from MH PET Distribution program.

Even with their limited physical mobility, they both make chairs to sell as a source of income. The two men are never without an amazlingly positive attitude despite such daily challenges.

They had managed to put up a small roof on wooden poles where they cook. Beans were boiling in a small pot over a fire for a very modest meal they were about to eat.

We couldn't resist purchasing not two, but four handmade chairs. All four chairs needed to be tied on to the moto just so, to be able to pass through the narrow path to get back to the bigger path to finally reach the main road. Joslin provided this service with confidence.

A week ago Sunday after church, a teeny, little old woman stopped us to say she would like to talk together. We offered that we could talk with her the next Sunday. SO, following the worship service this Sunday morning, we greeted her and confirmed her desire to talk together. She sounded a little Haitian exclamation, "Atchye!", then turned to her friend saying with enthusiasm, "oh! li pat bliye'm" "oh! they didn't forget me". "I was praying they wouldn't forget me."

She needed to share the hardship she faces in life with a house that is falling down, with grandchildren in her care, and in general, being without food. With the promise from us that we would be praying for God to provide what she and her family need, she was already showing hope and confidence that God would indeed come through for her.

Just one half hour later we encountered our dear, elderly friend, Mizou, walking on the street in town. We had not seen her for quite sometime.  It is difficult to communicate with her. For one, she has no teeth and second, she can barely hear but we certainly understood her joy as she greeted us with kisses. She struggles as she walks with a cane but even if she can't do anything else, she walks at least one and one half miles to church EACH Sunday.

As we talked, Mizou again expressed how long it had been since we had seen each other and she shared in detail that she and her daughter, maybe in her late forties, had both been sick. Mizou was describing how her heart would beat SO fast. And that her daughter had been in the local hospital, she was so sick that she could not walk. The daughter was better now but it had been such a time of hardship.

With the offer to give her a ride the one and one half miles to her house, came another occasion to greeted with joy qs we arrived at her home, this time by the daughter and Mizou's two great grandsons. Arms waving in the air indicating thanksgiving for the encountered visit on that Sunday afternoon, there was a filling up of our souls as we were feeling 'blessed to be a blessing'.

Back into town to finally find some Sunday lunch for ourselves, yet another opportunity came before us. A local homeless man who wanders the streets begged for a little money to buy some food. As our usual MH policy was stated that we could not give him money, we said we could follow him and buy some lunch. Just that quick, HE hopped on the back of the moto and off we went following the directions of where we could find him some food. Accepting his sincere expression of thanksgiving we wished him a good day.

So many blessings had been given and received already. God had one more in store on this day. A local man, Jean Gary, who is an accomplished seamster had requested a meeting to discuss some upcoming work he would be doing for MH. In December MH will be hosting two wedding ceremonies, double from last December.  Jean Gary will be making the necessary alterations on the wedding gowns for the brides and the suits for the grooms. We sat outside in his yard while he made a few alterations using his treadle sewing machine.

Again, with joy, he showed such willingness to offer his services in whatever way we could use him.  Behind us was the house, still under construction, that he is building for his family. Beside us was the motorcycle he recently had managed to purchase. Yet another expression of deep gratitude came as he gave credit to the work of MH for these blessings he had realized in his life at this time. He said everything he has right now is all because of the ministry of MH. We gave a response clarifying that those blessings came out of God's goodness but also out of the man's dedication and God-given talent in providing service to MH.

We receive such encouragement as we hear about the lives of some of the people we have interacted with over time.

You have 'met' Tibens in the past. He is a mason who works alongside MH. Recently he was the Boss for a new home build project MH did through a generous donation from a MH supporter. After he had paid all his workers he shared detail on exactly how the money was distributed including the amount he had for himself.  He continued by telling how his money had been used which included the purchase of 2 goats. Just yesterday, he was very proud to report that one of the goats had given birth to 2 kids and after sometime, he was able to sell the two grown kids and that money was used to pay for school for two of his children. AND he still has the initial goats he had purchased.  We give thanks to God for this provision.

Maxino relies on his Mobility Cart each day. The independence he has is life changing for him. With some help with dress pants and shoes that he could wear to church, he came and worshipped together with people in his community. He went forward to give an offering. Small as it may have been, it gives strength to his faith to be able to share the gifts God has given him. We give thianks for Maxino.

As we cry out, "Hear our cry, O God!" God hears and reveals his love in so many ways. We give thanks for ALL the Lord has done and will do. In Jesus Name!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

a story of perseverance

Persevering at all odds is a strong Haitian characteristic. But, what do they do when the road feels too long and too steep to keep going? Accept less than the best?

Contrast a trait of Western American culture... There was an eighty-foot tall antenna positioned at the top of the mountain that we hiked with a recent mission team hosted by MH here in Haiti. About a year ago, three of the sections of the tower had been taken down leaving about twenty feet of antenna still standing. One team member who had been to the top of that mountain before expressed her relief, "I am glad it is only that high. If it were highter, I would have to climb all the way up." There are those times, because of resources and personal confidence, we as Americans may choose the highest, the most, the best, the ultimate, for the reason...because it is there.

Here is a story of a family that has faced much hardship to the point of feeling overwhelmed into weighing the choices at hand.

We have known Tibens and family since Christmas Eve 2014. We were going door to door in our Haitian community, in fact with our son Michael, sharing a Christmas greeting that a baby had been born and his name was Jesus. We had a small package of food and a Creole New Testament Bible to share. We visited the family and encouraged Tibens by indicating we thought he had such a beautiful family.

Over three years have passed. January 2018 we see Tiben's eight-year old daughter, Anaika, with an injured leg.


Weeks and months passed before we would see Anaika again. Tibens was not able to seek medical care for his daughter because he did not have money. He works as a mason with his main source of income being working on occasional concrete floor projects arranged by Many Hands for Haiti.

We meet again late April. Anaika is unable to walk because her leg cannot bear her weight, as slight as she is. There is infection oozing through her skin. On May 1, a Haitian holiday, we take Anaika and her mother to the hospital in Hinche, 15 miles, one hour away.

A resident orthopedic surgeon sees the urgency and calls for a 'radiografi', an x-ray. The doctor's eyes say it all when he reports what he sees; infection in the bone of the broken leg. Within hours, Anaika is in surgery; an incision from her knee to her ankle is needed to thoroughly wash the infected area. By early evening Anaika is in recovry with the prognosis that she will have multiple surgeries to continue to rid her leg of the infection which may mean staying in the hospital two and a half months.

Tuesday, May 15th, Tibens finds us on the road into Pignon. He has a worried look on his face. He says the doctor "pral koupe pye li jodia", the doctor will cut, amputate, her leg today. With a rush of panic we make a few phone calls to see if this is true. We alert MH staff and other friends to be in prayer, asking God for miraculous healing for Anaika.

We are relieved to hear no amputation was done, things were holding, "Nap kenbe",  but there was still an urgent need to see some healing. We provide some Pediasure, some powdered milk, some mamba, (Haitian peanut butter) to make Anaika's body stronger. A visit was made by a mission team that was serving with MH at this time with prayers calling for a miracle for Anaika.

During that visit to the hospital, Anaika's mom made a disturbing comment. It seems as though Anaika's mom was considering a choice she felt they could make. As she drew an imaginary line above Anaika's knee, she said, "Si yo pral koupe pye li, nou ka retounen nan kay nou"... If they cut her leg, we can go home.

As we were suspecting, the mom had approached the doctor with the question, "How long would they have to stay in the hospital if they would choose to amputate Anaika's leg instead?" It seems the two-plus month stay in the hospital, in order for the leg to heal, seemed insurmountable to the mom. The suggested amputation came from Anaika's mom as a strategy to be able to return home sooner. With prayer and sharing the love of Jesus... weeks later... "Nap kenbe", we are still holding. Healing is evident, prayers continue, and there is HOPE in the hearts and minds of Anaika and her parents.

                                         A visit from another mission team serving with MH

       Anaika with her mom, her big brother, her little sister, and her baby brother.
            Far right is MH Chaplain, Pastor Sainphirin.

Now, for Many Hands for Haiti, this help is outside of our regular developmental approach of ministry work. BUT, when this comes right up to your front door, it cannot be ignored. A clarion call was made asking for support of medical expenses.

The call was immediately answered!

Another mountain to climb is the skin graft that is needed. Anaika has been anemic since the beginning of this process which has caused the healing to be slow. The doctor said they can't do the skin graft until she shows improvement in her blood count. Because of the generosity of financial donors, MH has continued to help with nutritious fresh foods, peanut butter, powdered milk, and an iron supplement.

We find encouragement for Anaika and her family and for us in the words found in Hebrews 12:1-3

Discipline in the Long-Distance Race...
Do you see what this means---all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running---and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed---that exhilarating finish in and with God---he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Anaika's dad has shown incredible faith. Each time there has been news that is hard to accept, Tibens has been the encourager. Just last night, he shared that the skin graft is still on hold because now there is a 'fever' in Anaika's leg. He saw our discouraged look and came at us with "Discipline in the Long-Distance Race". He said he was still confident, healing will come. He has continualy expressed deep gratitude for what MH has done for his family. He says if MH had not been here to help, he knows Anaika would have died.

There is a lot more to this story that we hope we could, at some point, share with you in person.

Currently, Tibens is able to help provide for his family himself because he has work through a MH Safe Homes project. Money was given from another faithful donor to build a house for a family of 10 whose house collapsed. Tibens' mason skills are being utilized. HE is CHOOSING to persevere, run the race, and reach for the top even within the limitations of impoverished living. Anaika's dad is modeling the words found in Hebrews 12:1-3, where God demonstrates how he doesn't settle. He takes it all the way.