Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pictures are worth...

Pictures are worth a thousand words!  We seem to be long overdue on sharing an update so pictures are going to replace the thousand words we might need and then that might only be the highlights.

In December we focused time on preparing the new dorm accommodations to comfortably house mission teams.  Over Christmas we hosted a team of 5 young adults, our son Michael being one of the team members.  This team left and the next team arrived on December 31st.  This was a group of 9 youth and adults.  Nathanael, a 15 year old Eagle Scout, was the 'team leader' who was earning his Eagle Scout badge by planning, organizing, and leading the group in all the work that was done over the week they were here. With celebrating the accomplishment of earning the Eagle Scout badge, January 6th brought another switch as the Eagle Scout group left and the 3rd group from Pella, Iowa arrived.  A team referred to as Pella Christian Winterim with 11 high school students and 4 adults.  Cross-cultural trips are part of the Pella Christian High School curriculum.

Christmas team affectionately called "The Fab 5"!
Alecia, Michael, Odenes (worker for MH4H), Taylor (front), Hank (Back), Ann 
MH4H sponsored a Christmas party at a primary school located in the nearby community of Lapila.
There was a program that the students participated in with music, bible memory, and dance.
 Some snacks were shared and a meal was served to 175 students, teachers and workers.  
MH4H gave a Christmas gift to each family with kids enrolled in the Thrive for 5 program in Savanette.
While things were being organized, Ann was shining Jesus light all around the neighborhood!
Can you find Ann, Taylor and Alecia among their MANY friends?
This was during a break the morning the team was helping with the work of pouring a cement floor.
The tools used are a shovel, some 5 gallon buckets, a 2x4, and a trowel.
Christmas night sky, the stars are very intense above the mountain peak!
Imagine stars lighting the way for the shepherds on the FIRST Christmas night.
"The Fab 5" had the privilege of helping serve Christmas Dinner
to some neighbor kids that were gathered at a local ministry called "Youth Action for Haiti" 
Prior to the meal being served under the mango tree, the kids took part in lots of singing (The tune of "Jingle Bells" was sung with Christian lyrics) and the Christmas Story was acted out with an angel, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.
Following a morning hike up the mountain the team decided to buy some food to share with a family
that lives in this stick house along the path leading to the top of the mountain.  Only the 2 boys were home at the time.
We anticipated the surprise that was in store as the parents returned home to find this gift that 'mysteriously' appeared.  :)
Does that stir up childhood memories of Christmas gift giving
The following week on another mountain hike with the Eagle Scout team, we greeted the mountain family.
Mr. Fene and his wife and 3 children expressed their gratitude through prayer for the gift that was left at their home
the week before.  We learned that Mr. Fene had formerly been quite involved with voodoo practices
and had become a Christian and asked for prayers for he and his family.
Eagle Scouts and team members organized food for a distribution to 150 families.
By the end of their week the team had delivered 3 tons of rice, 1500# of beans, 6000 bouillon cubes,
150 gallons of oil,  600 pkgs of pasta, 150 cans of tomato paste.
The team also completed 3 cement floors and completed 'crepe' on the walls of 2 houses.
Nathanael was interviewed for a KCCI news story after he returned home from Haiti.
try this link   KCCI Interview with Nathanael
During an afternoon of the team sharing food, we were using bracelets with colored beads to share the Gospel and using small bottles of bubbles to help 'break the ice' since we were strangers encountering the local people.  One team member extended a hand to give a bottle of bubbles to this woman,  She immediately put the bottle to her lips to take a 'drink'.  We held her hand to not take a drink but then another attempt to take a drink prompted a remark from the neighbor to say she is 'crazy'.  We offered her a bottle of water which she drank as if she hadn't had water for days and gave whatever snacks we could dig out of backpacks from the team.  What a heart wrenching encounter.  We prayed for God to provide what she needed and for the neighbors to show love to her.
Our friends Lumanes Augustin and Jean Robert.
One of the first 'assignments' for the Winteriim team from Pella, Iowa was preparation of gift baskets to be given to the teachers at Pella Christian" School in Ba Savanette.
 Dividing the team into 4 small groups, each group set out with a shopping list and 4000 gourdes
(Haitian currency equivalent to about $85 US) to find items to fill 4 baskets per group.
Powdered milk, pasta, sugar, tomato paste, margerine, cookies, crackers, hot sauce,
matches, and laundry soap filled each basket.
Team members encountered the Haitian culture at the ground level!  
Mission accomplished!  Teachers at "Pella Christian" School with gift baskets in hand.
Big smiles and many thanks made it complete.
At church on Sunday Team 3 presented a dramatization of Balaam and the Donkey
based on scripture in the book of Numbers 22
This scene is Balaam, the Donkey, and the Angel...Numbers 22:22-35
This young man seemed to be 'the man of the house'
and was going about the hard work of covering the walls of the house with mud. 
One word...Beautiful!
Many Hands for Haiti has an office in Pignon.  We had some supplies to unload one morning
and Junior, front, and Wisnel, back, were eager to help.  

"Job well done boys!"  their reward...a cold Tampico drink and a new t-shirt.
Junior and Wisnel aren't the only kids in the neighborhood.  The big one in the middle moved in last June.
The Winterim team from Pella, Iowa provided a song at the funeral of a girl that passed away
while the team was visiting patients at the hospital.
Her name was Edelene, 6 years old.
Beatrice and Evenie, team cooks, are "Pi bon!"  The best!
Here they are making a favorite sweet treat "Deuce", coconut candy.
Liz Clarke is the manager of the MH4H frozen yogurt shop, The Mango Tree, in Pella, Iowa.
She is spending the month of January in Haiti.
Since she is not at The Mango Tree in Pella she decided to be IN a mango tree in Haiti!
Our Haitian staff took an afternoon to investigate a nearby community to see if MH4H could begin working there.
Through our investigative efforts we discovered this foot bridge
located about 2 miles from the dorm where we live right now.
Kind of a surreal sight here in the countryside of the Central Plateau of Haiti.

So...the past weeks activity has been challenging and rewarding all at the same time. We might use words like scrambled, scattered, random to describe our current state of mind!  With cultural challenges we might even feel stalled with the need to refocus.  Physical as well as emotional challenges have left life here somewhat upside down! We need to set aside some time to re-group as well as take care of some housekeeping tasks.  When things are too jumbled even simple things can seem difficult.  

We are reading a book by Alan Hirsch called The Forgotten Ways.  It is about reactivating the missional church.  In the forward to the book it talks about defragmenting the hard drive on your computer and how we need to defragment our ideas about the church and missions.  We have so much information that has been gathered over the years regarding how to do missions, that we can get slowed down by trying to process all the information, just like our computers and somewhat like our state of being after the past weeks.  :)

HOWEVER... some concepts we are eager to see presented in the book include "to stop pining after balance, safety, and stillness; and to stop being afraid to mix it up in the cultural zeitgeist or to be in the thick of things.  When you open the windows to the world, maybe we aren't letting the zeitgeist IN so much as letting the Holy Spirit OUT to blow where it wills." (had to find the definition of zeitgeist, noun......the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.)

With the work before us it is important to maintain the focus and keep our eyes on Jesus. We don't want to be slowed down by processes and information that get fragmented.  Those things that matter most need to stay the main part of each days activities and not get scattered or scrambled so we can maintain clarity and conviction day by day to follow Jesus in ANY circumstances.

Galations 5: 6b ...the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.

Each day may we express with clarity and conviction the love that only comes from faith in Jesus as our Lord.

"We must play down our longing for certainty, accept what is risky, and live by improvisation and experiment."  Hans Kumg

Let the Holy Spirit OUT!  Craig and Christi