Saturday, September 26, 2015

Hard to know....

Wrestling with situations that we will never be able to fully understand the magnitude of pain and suffering that poverty and injustice brings is something that keeps us fully relying on God.  There are many times it is hard to know how to respond or what God is prompting us to do to help through MH4H.

God tells us over and over in scripture that whatever we ask in Jesus name will be given. We ask for answers and ask if you would also bring this before God.

Today we are searching for answers about what to do in this situation.  We had a visit from a young father who has come to us many times in the past three weeks asking for formula for his two month old baby because the mother is sick and can no longer nurse the baby.  We have been able to offer assistance because of the generosity of some teams that have visited and brought cans of baby formula.

Two days ago the young man came and said, "I do not know if I can count on my wife" meaning he was afraid his wife is going to die.  We know the wife had been in the hospital the first time the man came to visit.  We could sense the desperation now and began to ask how we could help get her to the hospital and how soon we should go. He thought a minute and said, "Lendi." Wait a second....Lendi? (Monday) that was on Thursday! If he thinks she is dying we can't wait until Monday. We persuade him to agree that we would go Friday morning.

So yesterday we went to his house to make arrangements for the wife to go to the hospital. She is very sick.  He is not ready to take her...Now he says Madi. Tuesday. What? He says he needs to wash some clothes and find some food and blah, blah, before she would be able to go to the hospital. What? Do we force him to take her? What do we do? We get this thought.... a thought we hate to even consider but it could be...could it be that he is so burdened with the outlook of caring for his baby AND his sick wife that he is thinking he can't do it and is waiting for her to die? Hard to know.

We prayed together, told him we would bring some food later and left the house kind of numb. Hard to know.

So this morning, after kind of a restless night, it is still hard to know. Waiting on God and asking you to help us cover this in prayer. That is the part we CAN know..."Everything to God in prayer." Tomorrow is Sunday, a day to worship and give thanks for all HE has done and will do.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Patience Class

Patience class.  Our class was in session this morning.  It was test day.

As we left the dorm at 7:00 AM for staff/community devotions at the Sylvain Campus Gazebo, the intention was to return to the dorm afterward and spend at least the entire morning working on bookkeeping/accounting tasks.  Right about 8:00 as our closing prayer was ending, some guests were arriving at the Gazebo.  Yesterday the purchase of a small piece of land adjacent to the MH4H land had been negotiated.  The sellers had come to exchange the land deed for the agreed upon amount of money.

Here in the Haitian countryside nearly ALL transactions, no matter what the nature, are completed in CASH. to the bank we went to make a quick withdrawal and get back to complete the sale. The MH4H motorcycle is such an asset to the work being done.  It provides quick and easy transportation, as easy as it can be on what we refer to as roads.  We arrived at the bank a few minutes before it opened.  Just a short wait and we were at the teller window greeting the nice Haitian woman who supervises the other bank tellers.

We are 'preferred customers' and have gotten pretty good at Haitian banking.  We state why we came..."Nou vle Retre (a $pecified amount)"  (We want to withdraw $----). "Nou bezwen $---- in US and $---- chanje (shan-jeh) nan Gourdes".  (We need.....   .....Change to Gourdes).  Our friendly bank lady gives us an apologetic look and says, "Pa gen, nap tounen demen maten" (We don't have it, come back tomorrow morning).  But we say, "Nou gen moun tann pou nou." (We have people waiting for us). NOPE, come back tomorrow.  Seriously!!??!!

                         This is an example of Haitian money, Gourdes, but there was NONE today. scrounge around to see if we can 'find' enough to complete the land transaction.  In the mean time, Claudin, MH4H agronomist who negotiated the land deal, needed a piece of plain white copy paper, not very easy to find here, so he could hand write the contract agreement for the sellers to sign. Then we needed to discuss some motorcycle repairs that were critically needed on his bike. All the while, the family was waiting for us at the Sylvain campus. Come to think of it, they were in patience class too.

Finally, we were all gathered back in the same place ready to count the cash and sign the contract. UH OH...guess what?... There is a third party that needs to be involved because the seller still owes money to the person he bought the land from. So Claudin takes off to see if he can find Bariedel, pronounced Bayade, the original land owner. We went to the neighborhood boutique to buy water to give to the seller family while we wait. At least we had the shade of the Gazebo.

Claudin returns...SUCCESS!  Bariedel is on the back of the motorcycle! OK, now for the contract. The contract requires the sellers Haitian ID number off the sellers ID card. As Claudin is double checking the information he discovers that yesterday the seller had given his nickname rather than his given name which appears on the ID card. Bad news! The contract must be rewritten BY HAND with the correct spelling of his full name. We made the first move to go back to the dorm to get another piece of plain white copy paper. BUT, relief...Claudin had one extra sheet of paper in his backpack. Whew! We decide, to save time....  :(   the sellers could be counting the cash for the land sale while Claudin rewrites, by hand, the contract agreement that will be signed by both parties including witnesses.

With shaky hands, the son that has accompanied the family begins to count...slowly, carefully, cautiously. As we watch over, it is pretty clear that he will need some assistance. This young man can read, which it appears that his parents can not. Just one generation ago a large percentage of Haitian people were illiterate. This seems it would readily lend itself to fraudulent deals if people involved could not read a document or sign their name. Even today, as we make purchases which need a signed receipt or pay workers and ask for a signature, many times we get "X" on the signature line.

To assist with the counting, Claudin begins counting and laying bills in piles of an equal amount on a plank that is propped on concrete block stacks. Well of course the slightest breeze causes havoc with the bills laying loosely on the board. A stick from the ground serves as enough of a weight to hold the piles in place until the counting of dollars and gourdes has been verified.  But now Claudin must finish the job of rewriting the contract. Wouldn't you know...the ink pen he is using starts to run out. The writing was in blue ink...all we can find is black ink...that won't do for the official contract. You're KIDDING...right?  OH! Thank goodness, the blue ink started to flow. Mesi Senye a! Thank the LORD! At this point, all THAT seemed to be was God showing his sense of humor and looking on to see if we could pass our patience class.

NOW... the contract is signed! We exchange smiles, words of thanks, and handshakes. We express to the sellers how thankful we are and ask them to come by on occasion to see how God will use this small parcel of land, added to the whole, for HIS glory. The elderly, slight framed woman stepped close to Claudin and wondered if we had a bible to give her. Another son wondered, "how about 2?" So we ended the time with a prayer and a gift of 2 Creole bibles.

Today's Patience class, nearly four hours later... DISMISSED. Thank God, we passed the test. Bookkeeping and accounting will have to get done another day.

Look closely.  The terra cotta colored roof on the right is the Agronomy Training Center.  The area around that building with no visible trees is the Plantain tree field. The circular roof to the left is the thatch of the Gazebo.  Close by, a bit to the left is the Equipping Center with a mango tree on the side before the tin roof went on.

                              Watering the cabbage plants in the demonstration garden

                           Visiting MH4H board member, Tim VanMaanen assists Claudin

                                                         ...Transplanting a few plantain trees

                                     Agronom Claudin, Odenes (agronomy worker) and Tim

Pallets that came with the most recent shipment of Meals from the Heartland were cleverly turned into a wind screen for the temporary outdoor cooking area for the new Thrive program.

Amazing black dirt is such a gift on the MH4H property

Another clever use of pallet scraps...a TRASH can attached to a mango tree

RIDE FOR A CAUSE blessed MH4H with a donation to purchase a 3-wheel motorcycle
which will be a smart work vehicle for agronomy (crops and animals...the next time MH buys goats 
we won't have to WALK them home), AND for construction (money will be saved 
on transportation costs because we can haul bags of cement and other materials ourselves).  
Our friend Morales is an experienced 3-wheeler driver.  

The motorbike was purchased in Hinche and was driven back to Sylvain.
Not and easy drive.

                                                    Trusses and rafters...ropes and ladders

One word...~Balance~

This was THURSDAY....

Now it's TUESDAY!

The Equipping Center 
God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called!  
Please pray for Haitians of all ages that will come here to be equipped to serve HIM

This morning we studied 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 during our morning devotions. 

Living by Faith

16For this reason we never become discouraged.  Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day.  17And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble.  18For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen.  What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever.

This afternoon in a conversation with Appolon, MH4H Haitian staff member, his concern for the Haitian people was shared in regard to the dry weather that has plagued the area.  He said Pignon is a bit better off but the area to the north, DonDon to Cap Haitien all the way to the Dominican Republic, is terribly dry.  There has been hardly any rain.  Even the sugar cane is dry. He said this is the first time he has ever seen this, "Every garden is lost.  How are people going to keep alive?"

Living by faith.  That's how.  Is this another example of Patience class?  Trusting God to provide and being patient during the wait?  We must fix our attention on things unseen.  Not a day goes by here without requests for help.... legitimate needs.  Some simple, others very complex with grave circumstances.  Please pray for endurance for the Haitian people as many suffer through 'small' and temporary trouble.  Give the people patience during their suffering.  It WILL bring tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble.  

During devotions we agreed that as Christians we need to stay in the competition for eternal life in heaven,  no matter what the persecution, no matter what the cost.  Don't give up competing.  Even when the body is weak, the spirit can be strong.  Keep in the competition every day, no matter what the cost.

What about YOU? 
"Ou kapab fe sa... avek Bondye"  You can do it... with GOD.   What cannot be seen lasts FOREVER.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A couple essential parts and Back to School

The realization that there were two essential parts left out of the overview of the construction zone in Sylvain has prompted this update.   SO...given we are working on new development in the countryside in a third world country one must realize there are no restaurants to get a quick lunch in the middle of a workday and get right back to work.  Food preparation here takes a long time. There are no packages of pre-made food to open and heat.

Food is prepared for the construction crew each workday by a hard working woman from the neighborhood in this 'kitchen'.  The woman is Rosita who was mentioned previously that asked Jesus to be Lord of her life.  Some family members have been helping Rosita with the cooking. Today we were captivated by the sight of Rosita's granddaughter, probably 7 years old...carrying a large wash tub on her head as well as a big shovel with two empty 5 gallon buckets latched on by the wire  handles!

Also...think about a construction site in the undeveloped countryside...what else would be an essential part of the daily routine with a construction crew of around 20 men?

Yep!  A Haitian Port-a-potty.  

Another side note...It is interesting to observe nearly all of the workers...
wearing flipflops on the job.

School starts here in the Central Plateau of Haiti on Monday, September 7th.  We hosted a back-to-school party for some of our friends who have helped Many Hands for Haiti throughout the summer.

       Pictured left to right...Craig, Kenedy, Christi, Roodson, Woodson, Heidi, Fransley, Richelin

What's a party without some snacks and drinks?  We had bread with Haitian Mamba (peanut butter), Cheecos (like Cheetos), Craig's famous popcorn, and ice cold 'Koka' in glass bottles.  As we began to enjoy the food, Woodson said. "oh no, we forgot to pray before we ate."  So we gave thanks for the food and the KOKA!  We finished the evening with a few hands of 'En'
(pronounced eh) which is 'one' in Creole... which is 'Uno" in Spanish.  In other words we played the Creole version of Uno.

Back to school also means a distribution of 'Meals from the Heartland' which are pouches of rice and beans along with a flavor and vitamin enrichment packet all packed in boxes.  MH4H distributes boxes to 10 schools and a handful of other designated recipients.  One school, located in La Belle Mar, sent representatives, all women, with a total of six donkeys and horses to transport their 28 boxes back to the school.

     The 28 boxes weighing an estimated 850 pounds are quite a load for these 'beasts of burden'.

It was an amazing sight... these women working together as a team, skillfully tying the heavy load securely, and guiding their caravan, maybe while singing..."Through the river and over the mountain to La Belle Mar we go".  Or maybe not!  (Oh wait..that is "Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go")

Even as much of a privilege as it is to be able to attend school, Back-to-School time brings economic hardships as families are trying to pay school tuition fees and pay for school shoes and school uniforms to be sewn and buy the needed books and school supplies.  We can sense a heightened desperation all around.  We have been fielding an increased number of pleas for help in a wide range of situations. One way MH4H has been able to ease the burden just a bit is by sharing back packs that have been brought by Mission teams over that past several months.  We had intentionally held on to them to be shared at this optimal time.

One morning this past week the staff devotion time was focused on the Word of God from
1 Peter 1:3-9...   A Living Hope:  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith--being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  We also turned to Hebrews 13:5b  Because Jesus said: I will never leave you, I will never forsake you."   As a group we repeated the verse out loud numerous times... 
"Paske Bondye te di: Mwen p'ap janm vire do ba ou, mwen p'ap janm lage ou."  

In times of hardship, God's word brings HOPE to a potentially hopeless setting.

Recently we met Wikenson, a 4 year old with similar problems seen in Elinise, the 3 year old that MH has been providing the means for physical therapy and doctor appointments.

Such situations just shout "The Least of These".  We are constantly trying to discern the right situations for MH to get involved.

Wikenson is actually the third such child in need that we have met.

The following picture shows John Kerry Cadet, 20 months, who came to us a few weeks ago.  His father walked from Bohoc which is a good 4-5 miles from the dorm.  He has been bringing John Kerry by foot into Pignon multiple times a week for physical therapy sessions hoping to see improvement in his son's condition.

We are praying for God to show a way to ease the burden for the families of children with these special needs.

Hebrews 13:5b  Because Jesus said: I will never leave you, I will never forsake you."   
"Paske Bondye te di: Mwen p'ap janm vire do ba ou, mwen p'ap janm lage ou."  

This thankful family has been blessed to have a one room concrete block house provided by MH along with partnership from Christ Covenant Church in Knoxville, TN.  Veronique George lives in Sylvain with her 3 children.  Her husband passed away and she has been doing her best to be the head of the household.  Hebrews 13:5b  Because Jesus said: I will never leave you, I will never forsake you."   
"Paske Bondye te di: Mwen p'ap janm vire do ba ou, mwen p'ap janm lage ou."  

Another house build project by MH is down the road from the dorm.  This house is being built in the same 'lakou', yard, as another existing house where 16 family members are residing together. The man standing in the doorway had put up the stick walls and had started gathering wood to be used for the roof.  MH is supplying the materials and labor for the roof and doors.  The materials to 'Krepi' the walls and pour a concrete floor will also be provided by MH.  The labor will be done by this man and his brother who have concrete pouring skills.

Hebrews 13:5b  Because Jesus said: I will never leave you, I will never forsake you."   
"Paske Bondye te di: Mwen p'ap janm vire do ba ou, mwen p'ap janm lage ou."  

Saturday is Market day in Pignon.  MH purchased some goats to begin a breeding program.  A young man seemed to be observing as we were adding to the number one by one.  He came close saying he was 'grangou', hungry, and needed money for food.  It is such a hard thing to handle as it is not the best thing to just stand and hand out money.  We were looking ahead to the task of getting the goats from Pignon out to their new home in Sylvain.  Rather than giving a handout, we asked if the young man would help walk the goats in exchange for 20 Haitian dollars (about $2.00 US).  He agreed.  He used part of the money on the spot to get some food to eat before the 1 1/2 mile walk to Sylvain.  He got a meal, we benefitted from his help, and we became friends.

You can't have a goat breeding program without the other half of the mating process.
Here we have...

a stud.  :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Blessed be the LORD forever. Amen and Amen. Psalm 89:52

We have pondered the concept that we are with MH4H here in Haiti not necessarily serving 
the Haitian people but specifically serving God.   
                               "Blessed be the LORD forever.  Amen and Amen.   Psalm 89:52"

The progress being realized on the MH4H Sylvain Campus is such encouragement from the Lord.  
We think Proverbs 16:3 is where it's at!   
       "Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established."

Read fast...tomorrow these photos might be OLD NEWS.  We hope so!

The gazebo, in Creole: cazibo, has been a blessing since the first day it was in use.  Each weekday morning at 7:00 AM the MH staff and a handful of other friends and neighbors come together for a time of worship through song, scripture with group discussion, and prayer.  Yesterday morning after the discussion time the wife of a nearby witch doctor responded by wanting to have Jesus be Lord of her life.  The MH Haitian staff approached the moment with confidence by speaking to her to be sure she understood what that would mean on her part.  One staff member boldly stated that as she would become a Christian she could face persecution starting right then.  The woman wants to be a Child of God.  "Blessed be the LORD forever.  Amen and Amen.   Psalm 89:52"

Today the "Well House/Prayer Hut" has the first layer of Krepi, the smooth cement finish on the walls.

The pump for the well will be secure and the back side, a prayer area, 
is a place to give thanks for such things as simple yet as essential as water.  
"Blessed be the LORD forever.  Amen and Amen.   Psalm 89:52"

The current BIG project is the "Equipping Center".  The Haitian work crew is led by contractor/project manager, Jim.  They are working hard each day in the hot sun but making great progress.  Some evenings we receive a progress report on the days work such as this:
  • Half of the perimeter columns were poured yesterday. The remainder will be poured today.
  • The bond beam on the block will be poured Thursday
  • The well house was rough plastered and forms and steel were placed for the bench.
  • We will form and pour the center columns tomorrow.

     Not much for automated equipment here.  See the small cement mixer in the background to the left.            Concrete block, rock, gravel, sand, water are the recipe for most construction projects in Haiti.
         Day by day, wheelbarrows and buckets and shovels and hard work will get the project done.

The Equipping Center will be the location of the Thrive program.  
A daily, weekday meal will be served.  See the serving counter to the right.  Supply room on the left. 

Serving counter

Outdoor kitchen 

Equipping Center storage rooms on the opposite side of the outdoor kitchen and serving counter

The Equipping Center will not only be used for the Thrive program.  This facility will allow MH4H to host conferences, seminars, community meetings, as well as events with a worship setting.  All this to develop and grow Spiritual Leaders for Christ.

Next week there will be American missionaries coming to work with MH4H to help with the roof.

Ephesians 4:11-13  The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, 
to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.  

This structure is labeled the Agronomy Training Center.  Two shipping containers were carefully placed  with construction of a roof to complete the facility.  It's first use however will be to host the Thrive program until the Equipping Center is ready for use.

Today an introductory Thrive meeting was held to help parents understand what the program offers. "Blessed be the LORD forever.  Amen and Amen.   Psalm 89:52"

2015 Thrive Program group

             Moms, Dads, babies getting the feel for the program and MH staff share what it is all about.

Included in the report from Jim, the contractor:  All of the bench lumber has been cut and router-ed. They will be sanding them tomorrow.   This is being done at Jim's warehouse about a mile away.
Another update from Jim included:  I stopped by the welding shop today to drop off steel for the tack plates on the columns and I see they are hard at welding on the benches.  I also had him make hurricane straps for the container roof.

Seedlings ready to be transplanted into the Sylvain model garden that will teach and train community members on how to have a more productive garden.

Colossians 3:23  Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward: 
you serve the Lord Christ.