As Mary and I are reflecting this Thanksgiving, we are very thankful for all the friends God has given us to encourage us through good and difficult times. We have been blessed in so many ways. Mary is grateful to be back in her home and involved in the activities of decorating. This transition has been very difficult for us, but God is giving us His graces day by day as we walk with Him. We have been moving back into our home over the last two weeks and are near complete with that task. As we have unpacked boxes and moved furniture around, I have found myself in tears several times, wondering how God would allow us to live in a home like this when we have friends like Giny, who lives in a hot tin house with her husband and children which is smaller than our bedroom, while many live in mud huts. And the boxes which we have been unpacking are about the size of many of the boxes in those mud huts which contain all the possessions of our fiends like Madam Jean Baptist who is one of the elderly women. As we unpack clothes and shoes, I am reminded of those who do not have cloths and our friends like David, who we see many times wearing women's shoes just to keep the bottom of his feet out of the mud while we seem to have clothes for each day of the month. I am continually confronted with God in processing how He has blessed us. What portion has He blessed me with, for my own benefit and pleasure and what portion has He given me to share with others who are less fortunate than we. It seems we are continually building bigger closets, barns, garages, to keep more things in. I just realized for the first time, that I have never placed a limit on how many articles of clothing, or how many shoes I am willing to be satisfied with. How much is enough and where do I cross the line of failing to help those who are destitute because I want to satisfy my own greed and lust by wanting one more. As we reflect during this season about our blessings, may God give each of us discernment in our relationship with Him, how much is enough for us to enjoy and how much he has given us to help others.
As I reflect on these things and what I am grateful for during this time, I think of each of you who have realized God's blessing on your life, and therefor you have given out of your abundance so that those less fortunate would have life a little better. Thank you so much for your prayers, contributions, confidence, encouragement, and love towards us and our friends.
We have been very thankful to Kara and her writing contributions during her spare time of many other activities. She will be returning stateside this week. Attached is her update from Gonaives and Jubilee with photos and copy and pasted below without photos. In her update, she talked about the containers arriving with the equipment and materials which we needed. Thanks to everyone for their prayers for these containers. It has been a long time coming, but it arrived without problems in customs or demands for bribes and we praise God for this.
We have been very pleased with Scott Peter's presence in Gonaives. He continues to bring much light to the darkness. Below is his blogspot if you would like to follow how he is making a difference. http://www.scottsinhaiti.blogspot.com
Robert Lane, Mary's brother is home after several stints. Praising Him.
April is back in Gonaives. Praising Him for her recovery
All the activities of transformation in Jubilee.
Kervins continues to need our prayers.
Praising God from who all blessings flow.
With love in Christ,
It is two days before Thanksgiving, and although we aren’t feeling the fall season, we are feeling Thankful. I am thankful that Kervens is sitting across from me; he has had a month full of doctors and nurses and scary situations. Martha Hannah has been on call and God has been in every moment, working as a team to try to get Kervens back to feeling well. After taking him to get tested in Port Au Prince he has been diagnosed with Epilepsy. They are still working to get him on a plan to minimize the effects.
There is much more beauty blooming here to be thankful for! Karen and Kim from Kids Against Hunger visited us earlier this month-- they immediately became a part of our home and family. We are so appreciative of their efforts to keep food in the tummies of our Jubilee kids! Also, the guys’ house is progressing in leaps and bounds. While teaching school, I would look out my window and see the walls climbing higher every morning. And with the recent arrival of Sam Brooks and his construction abilities, the thought of having the house done before Christmas is a little more tangible. Both of the containers arrived undamaged, which was a kind of miracle in itself, bringing us a much needed backhoe. Ben Rustin has been our designated driver, working to smooth out unused land in Jubilee and accelerate other projects in the area. We were also blessed with new tables and chairs from the school. The kids were surprised and thrilled on Monday morning when they each took their own seat and spread their arms across the fresh tabletops.
Chris is still teaching English-- he has opened an earlier class for beginning English, and uses some of his advanced English students as translators. The class is attended so heavily that he had to move to a bigger room, and even then people stand up, line the walls, and pack together elbow-to-elbow on the benches. From the back of the room I watch the wide demographic take notes together, draw pictures to remember better, and pass comments back and forth about how entertaining “Mr. Chris’” explanations are. Before Chris, the only available English classes were taught by semi-fluent Haitians to other Haitians. Now the teachers of those classes have a way to improve their English and continue learning, while their students have a way of checking their pronunciation and context.
The school is being blessed with new revelations concerning how to improve the childrens’ comprehension and learning pace. It is also blessed with the return of April as she brings a fresh look into class and renewed health in her body. Tia, in addition to teaching kindergarten and pre-k, has been mentoring teenage girls and employing jobless Mommas. Her focus has been to bring healing to broken situations and reconciliation where distrust has reigned. She is always pursuing how to provide safer home-lives and restored worth. Laura Lynn is being an incredible Momma to Youvendjy, both of whom we are inexpressibly thankful for. She continues to principle the Jubilee School, as well as mentor young adults and bring advisement to all of our questions concerning relationship building and project management (which sometimes includes doing a little damage control.)
Momma Kati and the trade school are working with Shelley and Corrigan Clay, the founders the ApParent Project, an organization out of Port Au Prince. To call what ApParent Project does “amazing” is to understate their actions. They are truly an example of impact and an example of God’s reformation and restoration. They have been working closely with us to share local artisan resources and they are marketing products made here in Jubilee. So far it has been a great success, providing orders of angels bracelets in the three digit numbers. That, paired with other huge support, guarantees that the artisans here will have work throughout this year. Just writing about it gives me chills, I wish you could see the faces and feel the excitement of these incredibly skilled and creative individuals.
I, after a laborious decision making process, will be returning to the US to continue my education in Agricultural Science. I have been spending my last month here teaching at the school, taking product and project photos, tagging along with Chris to English class as technical support, taking longer evenings in Jubilee, and, of course, writing. Physically, I will be flying out on the 26th of this month, but mentally I am already plotting my return. Haiti feels like my home now, and the people that I eat breakfast with in the morning and walk through the streets with in the evening truly feel like my family. I feel honored to have been able to spend fall semester here, and I feel humbled by the stories I have had the rare opportunity of hearing during my stay. I hope to find a way to communicate these things to you while I am processing it all in Athens, Georgia.
Thank you for playing your part in the vision we all share, and for the encouragement that has come to me directly. I am constantly reminded that the things we do, even if it is just opening our eyes to the injustice, our ears to the stories that need someone to hear them, and our hearts to the love that God wants to fill our lives with, make a much bigger impact than we will ever know. These are the things that bring lasting change, these are the things that bind us together as a global community.