Sunday, May 28, 2017

Mango season

                                                            Many Hands for Haiti Campus

It's Mango season! For rural Haiti, this is known as the time of year when no one goes hungry. In the Central Plateau where Many Hands for Haiti campus is located there are numerous varieties of sweet, juicy mangoes to 'pick' from. OR, if you use the traditional Haitian method of obtaining mangoes, there are many varieties to 'throw a rock at' to get it from the tree, into your hand, into your mouth.

             Picking mangoes with an apple picker basket on the end of a LONG piece of Bamboo

Last week, we waited for the Missionary Flights International plane to arrive at the Pignon grass airstrip with a team of college students that were saying goodbye after a week of mission service with MH. The wait was longer than anticipated due to a delay in Port au Prince because the recently elected Haitian president was in transit.

While we waited there was time to enjoy one last delicious mango, or two, picked directly from the tree. The team marveled at this beautiful experience.
We wondered how many airports there are that could offer fresh picked mangoes right on the airstrip while passengers prepare for departure.
We concluded that this is the best airport in the world.

            Even a PET cart turns into an off road vehicle to travel on the roads during rainy season.

Jobs are scarce in Haiti no matter what the season but rainy season does provide an interesting job that needs to be done. The historic Citadel just outside of Milot, Haiti is the location. The job is scraping lichen off the brick and rock fortress walls, inside and out. Shown here a ladder is achored with 2 cannon balls.

                                                                   It is precarious work!

                     The moist, humid air is the perfect environment to produce these vivid colors

Many people must take resources they have and pair that up with an entrepreneurial approach.         "Kokoye", coconuts, and a macheti provide this young man with a bit of income.

With a macheti, the top of the coconut is 'whacked' off to create just the perfect opening from which to drink the coconut water inside. We have heard this liquid referred to as nature's Gatorade.

After the water has been drank the second step is to 'chop' the coconut in half, slice off a portion of the shell for a spoon, and procede to scoop the 'meat' to reap the remaining nutrutional benefit of the coconut. MH Chaplain, Pastor Lumanes, demonstrates the technique. Just another aspect of a cultural day trip to the Citadel.

A recent visit to Anglen, the woman who was pronounced dead and then reappeared after 2 years, 
provided her family with a gift of food and a time for a prayer of encouragement. She looks physically more healthy but we could see signs of a troubled woman, emotionally and mentally. She had some things to say but she did not want her family members and others that were in the yard at the time to hear. She was very welcoming to our American team but was visibly resistant to the Haitian people. 
This is understandable given her story of all she has experienced in the past. She invited Pastor Lumanes to visit one day soon to talk. 


The last Sunday of May is Mother's Day, "Bon Fet Manman".  Mothers at church Sunday morning were honored with a special song and a small gift: a ribbon pinned like a corsage along with a package of cookies wrapped in white paper and a piece of candy. 

A group of young people brought a Mother's Day gift to MH Campus Sunday afternoon. The basket contained six pineapples and three coconuts. The gift also included singing two special songs with a Mother's theme. 

A very special Mother's Day meal was delivered to this elderly couple. Their grandson helps care for them. As they saw the gift come into the yard they sat down right where they had been standing and quickly, desperately, unwrapped the food and began to divide everything 3 ways. Heartbreaking, yet what a pleasure to have the privilege of sharing such a simple gift that was recieved with such gratitude. This in itself was a treasured Mother's Day gift for the hands that delivered it. Thank you, Lord.

MH Head Security, Kalo, asked first thing one morning, "Tout bagay anfom?",  
Is everything OK? That morning the answer was realistic. NO, not everything is OK because           Satan is working very hard all day every day, creating challenges, causing trouble, using                   deception, causing doubt, fostering jealousy, taking pride and using it for his gain, stealing the focus that MUST remain on JESUS as the one and only thing that can fill lives with confidence, joy, LOVE.  

We MUST encourage each other for the sake of Jesus to remain steadfast and diligent in what God has called each of us to do. This is for family, friends, co-workers, co-workers at MH and acquaintences. Jesus light shines!       Can you see it?

The end of a beautiful day where Jesus shines light in the darkness.  
He, in turn, asks us to shine light in the darkness. 

Please take these words from 2 Thessalonians 1 as encouragement from God right where you are today, right where your challenges and persecution lie. These are words for each believer to hold on to every day when Satan shows himself.

Greetings from Paul

This letter is from Paul, Silas, and Timothy. We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Dear brothers and sisters, we can't help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. We proudly tell God's other churches about your endourance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering. In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.

And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from Heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don't know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people - praise from all who believe. And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him.

So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 New Living Translation

Monday, May 8, 2017

Hard reality

Recently a doctor was examining a young boy that was referred to him who lives in a nearby village called Jean Brule. The boy had an abcess that had previously been removed. Since that time the boy had fallen and now was having difficulty walking  Here in Haiti diagnosing a medical condition is difficult for lack of resources. This being the case, this doctor's diagnostic tools were mainly in the form of questions to the boy and his mother and external physical observations.

The boy had been prescribed a particular medication prior to this day. The doctor commented on the situation that the prescribed medication would not be effective and began to reflect out loud what a shame for the mom to have spent money she couldn't afford on medicine that won't help anyway. The doctor paused his sentence with tears in his eyes, composing himself before he could finish the thought.        

This offered a reminder of the hard reality of how difficult it is to provide medical care here. Often medicine is given to treat symptoms without really knowing the cause which can result in an incorrect diagnosis. In this case, the family thought the fall the boy had experienced was the cause of his difficulty walking. Here the doctor shared that often something like a fall may simply exaggerate a condition that already existed.

Another hard reality medical situation we have experienced recently involves a normally healthy young man in his mid twenties who was experiencing various symptoms. Here again, medicine was prescribed but the root cause of the symptoms went unknown. This leaves question as to what his follow up treatment should be. The obvious risk is just as the boy from Jean Brule experienced; being prescribed medicine that won't treat the problem.

(No photos here... No HIPPA rules apply... just none were taken!)

Meet Jocelyn

A Friday morning visit to a friend that was MH very first recipient in our PET cart distribution program was disheartening.  Daniel Jocelyn lives in a rented room with his elderly father who also is fairly crippled because of old age.

The hard reality of their daily challenge typically might be to just find food to sustain life. Inside the one room dwelling were two partially completed handmade chairs along with one chair a bit smaller that was finished. We asked if the chairs were for sale and how much they were asking for them. "Sekant gourdes" for each chair. With the current exchange rate of 66 gourdes for one US dollar, that made the purchase price for each chair $0.76.

We asked the old man if we could buy all three which brought a big
smile to his face. We paid in advance, a higher price than he asked. We said a prayer together asking for God's provision and thanking God for the HOPE he has given through His Son JESUS CHRIST. We said goodbye with the finished chair in our hands and the next day the son delivered the other two on his PET cart.    Hope


 Jocelyn in his community
God placed on our hearts the thought of what kind of job could we offer Jocelyn. 
He has always been a kind and gentle friend and has a smile nearly every time we see him, 
even when he is hungry or in pain from his disability.

Meet Watson and Gran

Another stop was made in the same neighborhood
to pay for some items that will be displayed
for sale in our store in the MH guest house called
'Bon Bagay Boutique'.

The young man named Watson who had made
the items we were paying for was sitting
outside the house with his grandma
along with several of her other grandchildren.

Another hard reality was in sight.
It was around 9:30 on Friday morning
so it would seem that some of these kids,
including the grandson that made the items for sale, should have been in school but probably
didn't have money to pay the tuition.

According to 'Gran', grandma,
and the grandson, the money
he was receiving for the
handmade items will be what he needs
to get back in school.     Hope

It had been some time since we had seen 'Gran'. She has had a paralyzed arm as long as we have known her but that day the hard reality is she was scooting on the floor, with all of her 76 pound frame, unable to walk. Still with a gentle spirit and a sweet smile, Gran said she is getting by.

           'Gran', Grandma, with some of her grandkids when we first met her in March of 2015.
                                                    At this time, her right arm is paralyzed

This woman has 12 grown children, some of them have died as has her husband. Gran has a house full of grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren. We have heard the story of when her own children were young, how she and her husband provided food for the growing family in a loving home. We acknowledged how hard she has worked, serving the needs of her family year after year. There is still love in the house but it is the kids and grandkids that are now helping Gran.   Hope

Meet Jinette

We had met Jinette a few months ago when a MH short-term mission team brought a gift of food to the family after the hard reality of her husband having been murdered. The house where they lived was not safe at all. At the end of the day of the visit, the team had shared a blog on the MH website about the encounter. From this team blog, a donor and supporter of MH came forward saying his family wanted to give money to build a new home for Jinette and her kids.   Hope

            This house was not safe for a widow and her 4 children who are without their father
Jinette pictured in front of her old house with her four children, a couple kids from
 the neighborhood, and the team that brought her a gift of food in the name of Jesus Christ. 
The oldest boy in the pink shirt, daughter in the blue and white stripe, 
younger brother in the batman shirt, and the baby in Jinette's arms 

                            Another short-term mission team serving with MH painted the new house

Friday afternoon allowed time for a visit to Jinette's house in Maliarette with MH Chaplains Pastor Lumanes and Pastor Jean Ronel.  We went by motorcycle but had to park and walk the last maybe ¾ mile because of mud! We arrived to find Jinette and her two younger kids at home. The older two were down the road.

She had done the wash that morning which was drying on the cactus in front of the house.
We could tell the house was lived in because there were lots of dirty finger prints on the front door which was painted blue.

We talked on the front porch a bit, with the pastors asking various questions about how things were going.  She said she has a garden and works it nearly every day.  They asked who was preparing the ground to plant and she said she was. There was some new cactus fence that she had planted herself as well.

We entered the house and discovered a few things. In one room was a pile of bedding on the floor where they all sleep,  While we talked the baby fell asleep in her arms and she laid him on the pile of bedding.

There has been a lot of rain and Jinette showed where the roof leaks a bit.  We will get Boss Themeland to come and fix the leaks.  We also saw that the doors and windows have gaps between the planks that had been pieced together when they were made.  Lumanes explained this had happened because the wood was not dry at the time the doors and windows had been made.  Now that the wood had dried, it shrunk leaving behind the gaps.  We agreed to fix them up! 

We are going to get a better latch on the front door as well.  The way it is now, it rattles in the wind because the latch does not hold the door tight to the door stop. 

Jinette is a Christian and has been baptized. Before we left we prayed together.     Hope
We asked her what her biggest challenges are right now.  She didn’t hesitate to share the hard reality of her situation. Mainly she is troubled and burdened with the responsibility of providing for and raising 4 kids without a husband.  She then said she hoped she would be able to furnish the house to make it more comfortable. These are the only belongings in the house.

We walked behind the house. 
Hard reality, she is cooking for her family over 3 rocks 
out in the open with no protection from wind, sun, rain.

Jinette and her family have a long, hard road ahead.
It is such a hard reality. It is beyond words. 
There is heartache down every path. 
Where is this Hope?

Jesus gives the answer in John 16:33b when he says... 

"In this world you will have trouble. 
But take heart! I have overcome the world."  

Will you continue to pray for the light of Jesus Christ 
to shine brightly here 
so that down every path people will know


We got word that Taxi driver, Yves delivered the child-sized PET cart 
to Evenson in Gonaives. 
We heard from our contact 
that Evenson and his family 
had a genuine happiness 
that was displayed through their smiles.

Evenson's family was told 
that because Evenson could not walk
he was "cursed". 
Being Christian the family 
did not believe that. 
They know now that the family 
is being blessed because of Evenson.    Hope

By the way, we are having pentad for supper tonight.  
Hard reality for these two foul.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

"How are you?"

          It was a simple, thoughtful question, asked the other day in a social media message.
                                             "How are you? Things back to normal now?"

We recently returned to Haiti from time spent with family and friends in the states ranging from around Iowa, to Michigan, to Minnesota. We discovered we have become 'pansies' when it comes to cold weather. God arranged the circumstances so that partly we could 'just be' and we are thankful. We celebrated our son's ordination, we celebrated birthdays, we celebrated special time with those that care for us, we celebrated our Risen Savior, we celebrated hours with our grandkids.

We organized and packed what needed to accompany us back to Haiti. Included in that was a 2017 Mary Englebreit wall calendar. Eventhough it is long past January, it seemed God used the first-of-the-year colorful calendar page to send us off.

After this time of renewal it feels right to be focused again on daily mission and ministry with Many Hands for Haiti. Then comes that simple, thoughtful question, "How are you? Things back to normal now?" Here is the response in the message string..."Thanks for asking. Today seemed to feel challenging. Just some mental hurdles probably. We were talking with Appolon and Jean Ronel about a special select group they have chosen to offer some extra leadership training for. They talked about these 20 people and the possible persecution some may suffer because they were selected, which sets them apart from the remaining 80 people who are in our leadership development program of 100 participants." (Insert sad face emoji) The response continued, "Then we met with some leaders (some may be 'leader-wanna-be's') in Sylvain today. They had grievances to air." (insert another emoji!)

Reply from the message string, 'Ugh---That sounds hard! Did you find a solution to the leadership problem?' Then our response, "Not anything that seems like steps forward in our minds. Appolon and Jean Ronel said that it is the way it is here. It feels like if that is just the way it is... What a challenge for anything to change. Is it worse even than if the government is oppressive... that when your own fellow man must knock down anyone that strives to achieve some thing more than another??"

"OK...One more thing that caused stress today. There is a pentad, a guinea hen, that will not stop squawking.  Claudin says it is lonely and crying for a mate. I asked Claudin how much it would cost to buy it from the neighbor and then eat it for supper!"  Another message in this same message string at 11:32 PM... "There goes the pentad, AGAIN."  The reply, 'Aiy, yai, yai!'

Hmmm, what a day that was.

The following afternoon there was time to get out the drill and the tapcon screws to hang that new 2017 calendar in a prominant place on the concrete block wall of our apartment. God used another calendar month's sentiment to encourage us and keep us on track.

These challenges must not become heavy.  God will carry our burdens and show us answers in difficult circumstances.

We returned at the start of rainy season which means...THE MUD IS BACK. There is no complaining to be heard about the rain or the inconvenience of the mud because rain gives LIFE here. So, that same afternoon, Many Hands security guys Kalo and Regis, organized a few strong young neighbor boys to help with a little road maintenance.   These boys worked hard loading rocks and broken concrete block from around MH campus into the three-wheel motorcycle bed. Then unloading in key places on the road in front of our campus to help create a barrier so the rain water flows at the side of road rather than all over the place. What fun it was to treat them to an ice cold 'pure cane sugar' Coca Cola and a snack.  The hot sun and hard work makes a working man thirsty.  Three of the boys were finished with their Coke and the bottle was still cold!

Little Oscar from next door worked hard too.
He was the chief horn honker on the road crew.
We apologized to his dad for giving him
a bottle of Coke which came nearly up to his waist.
We felt sorry for Oscar's mom.

Still that same afternoon a trip was made to Acassia, about 40 minutes away, to visit a mom and her son about a possible new house. If Mom can show ownership of the piece of land where their existing 'house' (using the term lightly) is located, there is a generous gift from a family in the US waiting to be used. Another very fitting calendar page....

The next morning offered time to go on a long-awaited hike to the top of Mount Pignon. A nice surprise, yet somewhat predicted, was to see a farmer friend that gardens at the top of the mountain. His name is Pastor Gregoir. Approaching his garden space the sound of his macheti 'clinking' against the rocks, to prepare the ground for planting, can be heard. If Pastor Gregoir were an artist making a calendar, one of his calendar pages would state his commonly used motto in life,
                                                      "IF I DON'T WORK, I DON'T EAT"

                 What's up with this? We spotted him on the path part way down the mountain.

                            Here begins TODAY!  ALL IN A DAY! ALL ON MH CAMPUS!
       Ground for a new garden has been worked by the current MH agronomy class students

Workers, hired from the community, are planting peanuts

         Tomato plants growing 
       in the hydroponic system

Ewand and Erilner assembled a child sized PET cart to be delivered to a young boy 
living in Gonaives, Haiti. The connection was made when a seventh grade girl 
named Grace contacted the organization, Mobility Worldwide, asking
 if there would be a way her friend, Evenson, could receive a PET cart. 
Mobility Worldwide contacted MH and the cart will soon be on it's way to Evenson.

New seedlings 
are soon to be ready for transplanting by the
agronomy class.

Tomatoes are doing well 
due to the rain that comes
 nearly every afternoon.

Epina means Spinach in Creole. These plants have been allowed
 to go to seed so that these seeds 
can be saved 
to plant in the future.

No this is not a 'lacey' variety 
of cabbage.  
The bugs are getting the best of it even with insecticide.

A new structure being built on MH Campus will house longer term visitors and staff. 
This is how you get concrete up to pour in the second story. Can you find the bucket?

The rain has also brought an abundance of mangoes ripening on the tree. 
This variety is called Jean Marie. 
The branches are heavy and hanging low 
like tree branches during an Iowa winter ice storm.

Again, abundance! Ti Loran is the name of this variety. 
The skin on these is tender, with the flavor and texture resembling a peach.
Do they look like decorations on a Christmas tree?

See beyond the Batis variety of mango tree as Ewand is ready 
to go out for a day of PET cart maintenance. 

AND our favorite ladies in all of Haiti, 
Evenie and Beatris, were hard at work today. 
They do all of the 
cooking, cleaning, and laundry 
when MH hosts short-team mission teams 
in the MH Guest House.

Arranged here are some of the hand made items, from local artists, in our "Bon Bagay Boutique" which is the store upstairs in the Guest House where team members can find beautiful souveniers. This trivet was made by our neighbor, Elirose who is going to have a baby, hopefully THIS WEEK! 

The cross was hand crafted out of tin by Oberne.

These paper bead bracelets were made by Judeline Pierre who lives down the Sylvain road about one mile.

This afternoon some potential 
rental land was investigated 
for a future MH animal husbandry program. 
The location is ideal. 
There is a water source from a stream that will run through during the heart
of the rainy season.

Always within reach...
functional pen holding technic.

The weekly MH "Ti Legliz", little church service, was held this afternoon. In attendance were many kids, "timoun yo", from the community. The event offers a mid-week worship opportunity along with a biblical message to build people in their faith.

There was a very special song offered by these boys as praise to our Lord, Jesus.

These two ladies were focused on the prayers being prayed. 
Neither of them could stand straight but nonetheless they stood.

The music continued through the afternoon as did the planting of peanuts 
that started early this morning.
(Look closely in the background of the picture.) 
The rain would come after the participants and workers were gone.

This day reflects finally the current calendar page for May 2017 ....

"How are you?" Today, no doubt about it...
Filled with HOPE because of Jesus Christ and God's goodness 
that can be seen all around, 
even in the hard stuff.  

Are these sentiments from a calendar? Or might they be words from God to cling to
day by day, week by week, month by month.

Travel light, Live light, Spread the Light, Be the Light.

Let Go....or be dragged.

Love people....Change the World!!

There's no place like HOPE.