Friday, November 25, 2016

What else but THANKFUL!

We are feeling very thankful for all of God's blessings.
The work here is ongoing and we are encouraged; challenged but encouraged.

As a way of saying THANK YOU, the MH Agronomy Class offered to help paint the two containers that make up the MH Agriculture Training Center where the ag class is held three days a week. 
 MH says, "Thank you! class!"

A family in the community of Fontenn is getting a new house which is happening because of a generous gift from an association of businessmen in Iowa.  
This is the delivery method for some of the construction materials.

MH preschool class from "L'ecole Lumiere" recently experienced
the first day of a new tradition for the school.  
Raising the Haitian flag while their pledge is recited.

Kids excited to go to school!

We met this cute little lady one day.  She had this pouch which she used for keeping her few Haitian gourdes (money) in a safe place.  The printing says, "Reflect the Love of Jesus Christ." This was a gift given to the attendees at a women's conference hosted years ago by the team that would come to this area from our home church in Spencer, Iowa. The pouch originally contained a small mirror.  What a surprise to discover this after many years.

Time is always a factor!  So much to do.  We get to lay out a playground area and a prayer path, both on the MH campus.  We are working on a new program called Restore:Savings, we are working on plans to have a second Thrive for Five center in another community.  We are planning for more Leadership Development work and working with MH Haitian staff to challenge them more in their responsibilities.  2017 budget is ready for approval.  MH Staff year end reviews need to be done. Today we are taking new photos of all MH Staff to be used on an updated website to be ready soon.

We feel a bit behind because we have spent five days in Cap Haitien over the past week and a half retrieving a container that was sent from Iowa for MH. The container is out of the shipyard but the contents has to be stored in Cap because big trucks that would transport it to Sylvain are not able to pass through the river because of heavy rains in the north from a few weeks back.  So that job is not done yet.

Container for MH being moved within the shipyard

Our taptap filled to the brim with select things that came with us back to Sylvain.
Tied down, ready for the bumpy ride and the rain.
The spare tire is a standard travel companion in the event it is needed.
Not really sure about the spare axel tied onto the back.  Will we need that?

Our trips to Cap have been on two different routes. One way goes through a community called Rankite. We call that route 'The Rankite Treat' because it is very scenic.  The other route is through a community called Bail, pronounced 'Baiy'. We call that route 'Baiyaiyai!' It is MORE than scenic. 
Doesn't seem we have made a trip lately where we haven't had rain.

AGAIN with the roads.  They always seem to amaze us.

"Anana", pineapple strategically planted along the mountainside for soil erosion control.

The early morning scenery through BAIY as the day is waking up..."baiyaiyaiy!"

All this and more gives us reason to be THANKFUL.  

During MH staff morning devotions one day this week we looked at Hebrews 12:1-3

The Example of Christ:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3  NRSV

Same verse, different translation...

Discipline in a 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!  Hebrews 12:1-3 The Message

May God bless you with the LOVE of JESUS today and throughout this holiday season. Be a reflection of Jesus love.

In HIS LOVE,  Craig and Christi

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bienvini---a warm welcome

"Bienvini! Welcome!" We have heard this warm welcome from many, many people as we have recently arrived in Haiti. We are pleased, we didn't forget all of our Creole. Well, maybe that is a result of not having much to forget. :)

Already, today Many Hands is hosting a Leadership Conference. Rain has been plentiful the past couple of weeks since the Hurricane passed by. The roads are challenging but 90 of the 100 people in this Leadership Development program were here on the MH Campus by 7:00 this morning. Most come on foot so just some muddy shoes to clean tonight. There have been overcast skies a fair amount of the past 3 days.

                         The clouds were amazing as we approached Cap Haitien on Sunday

The conference began this morning by several of the Many Hands staff symbolically washing the feet of the attendees to signify the leadership, which is the theme of the conference.

                   Lunch was served which included bright red tomatoes that were grown in the
                                                         Many Hands hydroponic house

                                   Two very creative guitar stands were crafted out of wood.

Over the course of the next 2 days, those in attendance will be challenged to think about who they are as Servant Leaders in Christ and how they can serve God in their communities.

Yesterday we were out in several communities to visit with some of these same leaders as well as families that have been involved with the Concrete Floor Project. As these leaders have worked together to select the families, plan with workers, coordinate materials, etc. the outcome is homes with a concrete floor, workers that have earned a wage, and leaders who have practiced leadership within their own communities.

Some are learning quite well, some need more practice. We know of community groups that have worked well together but we also know there have been some situations where there has been persecution happening among the team members within community groups.

So...teaching on Servant Leadership is worth the effort. God;s ways are hard to find for some but we are confident God can transform hearts and minds for His Glory.

The past week, Romans 12:1-2 has directed our preparation for continued ministry in Sylvain, Haiti.

1) Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sister, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living and pleasing sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship. 2) Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of you mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will

is--His good, pleasing and perfect will.

These words of teaching and encouragement are applicable in all situations. Be encouraged as you work to stay within the will of God in your life.

One special treat was to be greeted by Evelouse and her little boy, Fahensley. Both have been helped by MH for the past year and a half with chronic medical problems. The visit today was not to ask for help but just to say welcome back and to share a letter of thanks from the family.

                                 Our friends Francios with son Fahensley and wife Evelouse

Now for the excitement of TODAY... Christi was getting a chair from the outdoor balcony of our second floor apartment and was swarmed by wasps. They went straight for her knees and ankles with a result of at least then wasp stings! Safe to say she does NOT have an allergic reaction to a wasp sting. By tomorrow morning she should be free of pain.

The challenges are every day, 'chak jou', at the same time the rewards are there every day. We trust God to handle what needs to be handled and we give Him thanks in ALL things. This includes giving thanks for all the support, prayers, and love that we have known and felt from you!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Web of Collaboration

In a routine, weekly Wednesday afternoon MH Haitian Staff meeting some beautiful team collaboration was revealed.  The meeting began with the announcement that the next day was a holiday of which no one was really aware… including us.  This is a day by day culture!  Next a recap was given about projects around the compound, the Early Childhood Development Center and a storage building, that were coming to a close and then giving an introduction to one new project to begin on Friday.

                                                  Early Childhood Development Center

                                Agriculture Training Center with additional storage space

The building of a permanent gate will be underway at one of the two entrances to the MH campus in Sylvain so instructions were given on how to redirect the traffic pattern while the area of the gate will be a construction zone.

The MH Haitian staff is divided into various areas of work and ministry but the afternoon meeting brought to light the humble collaboration that God is fostering among the entire team.  An extensive list of programs and projects could be compiled from the updates each staff member shared but what stands out is the teamwork being demonstrated.

As this became evident a beautiful visual came to mind…a spider web.  Think of how one strand isn’t much but when the whole web has been ‘woven’ the result is strong and effective.  That describes our ”Pi bon ansomn” , “Better together” MH moto.  We are better and stronger and more effective for Christ as we work together, crossing over and working in partnership with our team members. 

       Pictured here are MH Chaplain Lumanes and Leadership Development Coordinator Appolon
Pi bon ansonm --- Better together

Here are some examples…the MH Agronomy garden that is being worked to provide food for the Thrive Education program as well as food to be used for short-term team meals.  There is Leadership Development coming together with Agronomy with a newly revised goat program that incorporates various community leaders who are offered the opportunity to DO leadership.  

Also Leadership Development paired with MH “Do Something Concrete” concrete floor project. More collaboration is seen even from the people we are working with as we have some of the students of the Agronomy class volunteering their time in helping prepare the ground and planting Congo beans and peanuts that will benefit the Thrive Education program.

Lumanes, MH Chaplain, has been connected to each area of ministry to complete the loop with follow up of spiritual development for people touched in some way by MH.

The PET cart distribution program was one area of collaboration for Lumanes as he accompanied MH 2-man PET team to the home of Fordue Pierre, a man receiving a PET cart.

Just in the past months since beginning his employment with MH, Lumanes has seen 16 people come to know the saving Grace of Jesus Christ. Earlier this week he made a follow up visit to a man, Francios St. Louis, whose family had received a gift of food from a team of college students that MH hosted.  Lumanes demonstrates confidence alongside gentleness and humility while he shares common, ordinary parable type stories and examples as a way to introduce people to Jesus.

During the afternoon staff meeting Lumanes shared many encouraging thoughts.  He said he certainly sees the hand of God on this work we are all doing together in and around the Sylvain/Pignon area.  He thinks God has His plan and is using MH to execute the plan.  He feels the various works of MH are tools in the extraordinary work being done, not with selfishness but with collaboration and humility because he sees MH following the way Jesus did His ministry. 

Lumanes asks that we pray for MH to be even more effective and not neglect the people that are being welcomed into the family of God.  This is just the first step. We need to follow up and disciple the people being touched. 

Finally, our team of guys, in charge of security, are working selflessly to watch over people, property and belongings so that work can continue uninterrupted.  We recently purchased a set of multiple two-way radios for use on the property.  One radio is always on in the guest house and we can hear their collaboration as they communicate back and forth together making sure all areas are covered. One night we hear Kalo calling for Felix's attention.  Felix responds...IN ENGLISH..."What's up?", translated into Creole..."Sac Pase?"

Pictured Felix (left) and Kalo (right)

We feel God used this brief hour long meeting to develop and build unity among the MH staff as each could see the impact being made for the kingdom.  That impact is magnified because we are collaborating together, standing together, fighting together, working together…for Christ.

Philippians 2:1-5  ‘Have the attitude of Christ’

"Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? 
Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 
Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, 
loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. 
Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 
Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had."

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


 Psalm 1            ...Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.  That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither-whatever they do prospers.  Not so the wicked!  They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement, nor sinner in the assembly of the righteous.  For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Blessed.  What comes to mind when you think of the word blessed or think of being blessed?  Do you think ‘happy, fortunate, lucky, life is good, God is good’?  Eugene Peterson’s book titled Answering God points to the first word of Psalm 1, Blessed, and describes ‘blessed’ in a concept of a “directional antenna, a mind-set for picking up signals we would otherwise miss.”  

When we pray for God’s will to be done in our lives, what are we getting into?  What should our approach be with the unknown we are seeking and asking for?  

According to Peterson, “Apprehension will make us cautious, crippled for taking risks, if risks need to be taken.  Stoic dutifulness will make us heavy-footed, clumsy in the dance, if a dance is scheduled.  The blessed arouses expectation, a readiness for a more that is also a good.  We don’t know the contents of the Blessed, or the difficulties-how could we, we are not there yet- but we sense that we are entering a way on which we will become more our true selves, not less, not other.  The anticipation of being blessed works changes in us that make us capable of being blessed.”

For us personally, we return Blessed from a short time in the states focused on family and friends, and ourselves, to the ministry work God has called us to, with our “directional antennas” up and a mind-set to pick up signals we might otherwise miss.  We return Blessed with a readiness to see what God will reveal to us.  We certainly feel an expectation to learn the contents of the Blessed and we anticipate the way God will impact our lives to become, step by step, more our true selves.

One story we have enjoyed sharing with the people we were blessed to be around during the past two weeks is about Regis Joseph, nicknamed Felix, who is on the Haitian staff with MH and serves as a security guard on the Many Hands campus.  

Late one Saturday afternoon Felix was on duty keeping watch over the campus.  He heard some commotion and discovered a stray dog had made his way onto the grounds and was attacking a resident goat that was part of the MH goat program.  

You can imagine the desperate yelps that could be heard as the dog was winning the battle.  In the midst of the scuttle Felix had an eye on the dog, reached to pick up a rock from the ground, and with ONE attempt, ’fired’ the rock and successfully hit the target, the dog’s head.  With the sound of the last YELP, the ordeal was over.  The result… a dead goat AND a dead dog

Continuing on with Eugene Peterson’s commentary of Psalm 1…Torah, law, God’s Word, a noun derived from a verb, yarah, that means to throw something, let’s say a rock, so that it hits its mark.  “Torah is God’s words that hits its mark, hits the target of the human condition.”  Can you picture Felix’s rock hitting the mark, the target, the dog that attacked the goat?  “God’s word has this aimed, intentional, personal nature.  When we are spoken to in this way, piercingly and penetratingly, we are not the same.  These words get inside us and work their meaning in us."

Peterson wants to convey this truth, God’s word speaks to us, addresses us.  “We learn that all God’s words have this characteristic: they are torah and we are the target.

God’s words, each one creating and saving words, HIT us where we live.  These are words we take in, words designed for shaping new life in us.  If we murmur and mumble the words, hear and rehear these words as we sound them again, the sounds of the words have the power to sink in to our muscles and bones.”

As we re-enter our particular mission field with a renewed focus on God’s word, using the Psalms as tools for prayer, we are primed to concentrate on the things of God that are real and visible.  We are prepared to be Blessed because of the opportunity for murmuring and hearing God’s words that hit the mark and shape our lives.  Let the words from Psalms, the prayer book of the bible, be real to you as well to touch you, train you, give you directive.

Last month Many Hands Haitian staff had a retreat at the MH guest house.  
We talked about the Mission, Vision, and Values of MH and talked about 
the overall purpose and strategy of the work God has laid out for us

Unity was another topic reviewed during the staff retreat.  A simple motto has been repeated in the past months...If I hear it I will forget, if I see it I will remember, if I do it I will understand.  A volunteer project was on the retreat schedule for day two of the staff retreat. One goal in understand UNITY as a team by working together. This is the before picture of a house that would be painted for its residents by MH staff who were about to be BLESSED!

This house was funded by a MH supporter and was built under supervision of MH


Gelene and Paula, Thrive for Five Program helpers are good at working together.

Jean-Ronel, left, Appolon, background, and Lumanes, right,
are having no trouble at all practicing Unity!

Left to Right...Jean-Ronel, Woody, Claudin
        Kalo is painting the front porch and Odenes is standing on a chair to reach the top of the wall

                    UNITY!! and a painted house is what we have to show for the effort.  All were blessed!

The job of painting the house went so well the team moved down the road and knocked out house #2.

The before picture...
this house has a new concrete floor and fresh krepi (cement covering) on the walls inside and out.  Again, funded be a MH supporter with the work organized by MH.

Jean Rene and Liz


Incredible...In just under four hours on a Saturday morning,
 the MH volunteer team painted two beautiful homes
     As house #2 was completed, the family gathered on the porch to express their thanks to the team

The team packed up and headed back to the guest house.  
In the quiet of the moment, Paulene, the woman of the house, raised her hands 
repeating praises to God for the gift shared that day.   She feels blessed!

MH team cooks Evenie and Beatris cooked while the other team members painted.  
The entire team gathered for a noon meal to celebrate a tremendously rewarding experience.