Saturday, March 31, 2012

First Group Leaves

Our Canadian friends left yesterday.  I really enjoyed having them around the last 10 days.

They were so prepared and left behind many toys and bags of candy to distribute as we see fit.

Here are a few extra pictures from this last week.

Driving to a site.


Playing soccer in a tent camp. 
Pastor Rod and I
Sulie (from the team) and I
Stickers the team brought that say "Happy Easter!"
Victory Christian Center of Alberta, Canada, Feed the Hungry and LeSea Global Ministries, we thank you for your service to the Haitian people.  Thank you for blessing them and blessing our team.  We are honored to have worked alongside you for His glory!

LeTante

LeTante is a site we visited with the group this week.  The team played games with the kids, did skits and sang a few songs.  They do a heart skit that is silent and it is extremely powerful.  A toy distribution for the kids and a food distribution for each family followed.  

Incredible.

The team playing games with the kids.

Chris, Cassandra, Emily, Doug

Victory Christian Center - Alberta, Canada Team
and Doreen from Feed the Hungry

*All photos by Jake Jones.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Quick Praise!

God is so good.

After all the headache the last few days at the village, God has been faithful and brought us 6 new families who are in need through the Pastor.

The President and Pastor of the village also attended an agriculture training in the area this week.  The organization is looking to use our plot of land as a sample.

Amazing.

Gramma is getting married!


My Gramma Ecker is getting married and I am overjoyed for her!  The lucky man is Dean Boss and their wedding will be April 21, 2012.  I just recently booked a ticket home for a few days in April to be a part of their big day.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tough

The team is still here and doing amazing things, but my mind has been elsewhere.

I spent Monday with Marty and Cheryl Trepus and my dear friend Johnbern (JB).  I haven't seen JB since July, so I was happy to reunite with him and to see a few familiar faces.

Russ Cole, 5 of the Paraguayans and the 4 of us met about the plans for the next week and the week after when the team arrives.  Everything was going well until the Pastor mentioned something the people if the village had said that made us raise an eyebrow.  We decided we needed to have a family meeting before making any more decisions.

The Trepus’, Johnbern and I met with the Pastor about five families that have been making the Village a living hell for the Pastor.  We all prayed and decided to take some time to think before we met with everyone in the village.

A few hours later we came back and decided tomorrow was moving day.  The attitude of these families was toxic and no additional money should be put into the black hole until they were gone.  

Johnbern did such an amazing job translating and interrupting.  I started the meeting and anger quickly ensued.  In all my life, I have never heard so many lies about myself.  Surely people have said things that are false, but this was ridiculous.  “You forced us to move here”, “You told us you would provide everything”, etc.  When the families moved in, we all signed a protocol of sorts to make sure they understood what moving to the village meant.  It was a contract that stated that we were providing shelter and would facilitate things when available, but they were completely responsible for their own livelihood, healthcare, transportation and schooling for the children…among other things.  The head of each family signed the document and apparently had amnesia about it yesterday.  Johnbern had one of the bigger trouble makers stand up and was very direct with her.

“Have you seen this?”

“Yes.”

“Did you sign this?”

“Yes.”

Johnbern read it line by line to the people.  They couldn’t say anything.  Then he asked them if they knew what a contract was.  “No.”

Oh boy.

I’ve never been in such a heated situation.  My broken creole was of no help. 

One woman was so mad, she just kept screaming and I finally had Johnbern tell her that she needed to look me in the eyes and say what she was saying to ME and not to him as he was just translating.  The whole meeting she wouldn’t even look at me… and that’s because she was lying.

It got so ridiculous, that I finally stood up and walked over to the fence.  The song in my head was “We are standing, on holy ground…and I know that there are angels all around.  Let us praise Jesus now.  We are standing in his presence on holy ground.”

After I sang, I walked to all the kids who were playing near the well.  I just sat down with them and my heart was broken.  This place isn’t ideal for everyone, but here these kids have a chance with the school nearby.  In a place away from the dangerous camp life they once lived.  I will miss them terribly.  I sang Franck’s song to them in creole.

“I am a world changer.
I am a nation shaker.
God said it, I believe it and that settles everything.”

The interesting thing about all of this is that there were many people who just sat and observed.  Not saying a single word.  I even saw people in their homes walking back and forth to the well.  It was clear by their actions that they didn’t agree with these few families and that they didn’t want to be a part of the negativity.

I am so grateful that Victory Compassion allowed me to have this day to sort out the plans for the group and to observe this.  I’m glad the people could yell at me and not at Marty and Cheryl.  They have done so much for Haiti and didn’t need to see this.

After talking in circles for two hours, we left the site while everyone was yelling at each other. 

But you know what is so incredible?  Joseph’s sister, Nerlande, was there the entire time.  Joseph translated for us in October and December.  He is such a gentle person with a sweet spirit.  She has wanted to move in since December, but we didn’t have any space.  After the meeting, I told her I was sorry for the people and understood if they didn’t want to move in.

“No, I need to move here.  I need a place to live and I want to live here.  When can I move in?”

She is the kind of person I want to work with.  The others wanted me to work for them and that is not what I came here to do.

Today was moving day for the five families.  I will miss the kids.  I will pray for the kids.  I will always love those kids.  I feel honored and blessed to have been part of their lives for even a short time.  I am brokenhearted that I wasn’t able to say goodbye to them.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Village Visit

What a humbling day.  I was excited to take the team to the village, but overwhelmed upon arrival all the same.

Before the team headed out, I gave them a brief orientation of the village and the history.  I got emotional just talking about it.  Sometimes I forget how big of a part of my life they have been the last year.

When we arrived, the kids said hello and then the bombs were dropped on me.  Digicel came out and took away their only solar light on Tuesday, then Molive Mesifort's abusive ex-husband came back and assaulted her in the middle of the night.  I was completely overwhelmed.

The team started the program for the kids and I went for a walk on my own.  Cassandra followed me and I'm so glad she did.  I sat and cried behind the latrines and she came to find me.  Her words were encouraging and then she prayed with me.  I feel so honored to know her and to have the opportunity to work alongside her.

The kids loved the program, then the team distributed giant bags of food for each family.  Amazing.

I don't know if the team realizes what a blessing they have been.  Their food delivery was truly an answer to the desperate prayers of the people in the village.


Sulie (from Canadian Team) and Nerlande

The girls playing with their new toys.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Group Projects

The team has been here for a few days now and things are going very well.  They came with LeSea Global, an organization that delivers food worldwide, and Feed The Hungry.  Both ministries deliver food to schools, orphanages and small villages.
Eve Rose at her orphanage.
(Photo by Jake Jones)

This group has been great because they are so prepared; bringing everything from stuffed animals to small candies and preparing skits and even a song in creole.

On Thursday Pastor Rod and I ventured to the other side of the island with the team to a place called Mercy and Sharing Village.  Essentially, it is an orphanage for handicap children and teenagers.  Both mentally and/or physically.  I've never seen anything like it.  I mean severe deformities.  The outcasts.  Some can't even get out of bed.  Many of the children are left at the hospital or on the streets.  They gave us a tour, we had lunch with the kids and then the team did an hour long program with games and stories, did a food distribution and passed out toys and candy to all the kids.  The people of Mercy and Sharing Village are angels for these kids.  They took in the unwanted and unloved.  It was powerful to see.

The next day we went to Eve Rose's orphanage in the morning and Max's church in the afternoon.  Both were very successful with one ending it a fight between two Moms over the toy distribution.  We hadn't even got to the food yet.  Pastor Rod and I got the team into the truck and we took off pretty soon after to leave the food distribution to the Pastor of the church and Max, our translator friend.  Safety first.

Tonight was the first time I spent with the team during their evening debriefing time.  After being here so many times, I sometimes forget the original feelings and questions I had about Haitian culture.

Tomorrow we are going to the village I helped build to do a short program and food and toy distribution.  I'm so excited to share with the team my Haiti experience and how different it has been compared to theirs.

Cassandra at Eve Rose's.
Emily and Cassandra riding in the back of the truck home.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rats


Chris found a baby rat yesterday morning.

Pastor Rod shot a rat with a pellet gun in the afternoon.


Gross.

Cassandra and the baby rat.
The girls observing the chaos.
Pastor Rod and his pellet gun.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

You know you're in Haiti when...

You know you're in Haiti when:
  • You have rice and beans for every lunch.
  • Wipes and hand sanitizer are your best friends.
  • Once you start learning the language, you realize what the kids are actually saying isn't so cute after all.
  • Its hot...always.
  • There is no method to the madness that is driving.
  • When you see ants in your suitcase and all over your clothes, you just zip the suitcase back up.  Completely un-phased.

CAD

CAD (Center of Action for Development) is a place with 90+ children that are rescue victims from a variety of situations.  It functions as a foster-care like facility where new children are always arriving and some are being sent to live with relatives when someone can be found.

We spend quite a bit of time there during the week having Church, Kidz Club, Bible Class and English Class.  They are also provided with rice, beans, and granola bars every month for the kids.

The past few weeks have been really interesting.  Often times when we arrive the kids are running and playing before we start an activity, but recently this has not been the case.  When we arrive they are sitting in silence, barely greet us, and you can see that some of them have been crying.  It is disturbing to say the least.  There are plenty of make workers, but only a few females...sometimes only one.

This Sunday we did a few activities with the kids and Pastor Dave spoke.  Towards the end Pastor Dave and Chris took the time to pray for all the workers individually with Frank (translator).  During this time, I was sitting between two of the girls and they started poking one of the male workers in the butt.  In creole I told them not to touch him and they got mad at me.

Women are not thought of as much (at least in this area), so you can imagine how girls are treated.  After they were trying to poke this male worker, the three of us were just sitting together and he pulled out his video camera.  People here don't own those...ever.  It is the first one I've ever seen on a Haitian.  It was bizarre.

A very educated translator who used to work for Victory Compassion was talking to a volunteer once and the volunteer was trying to convince him that the world was round and not flat.  The translator insisted it was flat.

There aren't books in the schools either.  Can you imagine hearing stories about monkeys, but never actually seeing what it even looks like? Even in a book?

I know I got off topic for a minute, but bare with me.  After seeing this interaction between the male worker and these two girls, I realized the dire need that exists for small groups.  These kids don't have mothers or fathers and even though it isn't our orphanage, the knowledge we have of the situation needs to move us to action.  We need to help them share their emotions so they can grow into the nation shakers we know they can be.

Burdened.

I miss my friends in Village de Nouvelle Vie.  Every time we pass the entrance to the road, I shed a few tears and my heart breaks.  It is so difficult to be so close and yet so far away.  I underestimated the emotions I would feel and the desire I would have to continue working alongside them.

When I stopped by to see them for a few minutes a few weeks ago, I sensed that they felt a bit forgotten and unwanted.  It has been unsettling to me.

I'm praying for provision - to know the next steps to facilitate assistance for them in the final things that will help promote self sufficiency.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Team Arrives

What an amazing day!  I feel so blessed.

Chris asked me to work with Jeanilia to clean the kitchen.  It was in pretty rough shape.  Jeanilia is a sweet woman who helps around the compound  with cooking and light cleaning of the kitchen and dorm rooms when groups come.  She is single and has two young kids.  I really enjoy working with her because she speaks a little Spanish, so we can communicate.

We spent the whole day cleaning and only got halfway through.  Our definitions of cleanliness vary slightly.  She doesn't typically use all the cleaning products we have because she doesn't even know what they are.  The time we spent together was wonderful and I enjoyed getting to know her a little better.

My first team arrived tonight!  It was really cool to have people around who are first timers to Haiti and so excited to help.  The team will be here 10 days and consists of 10 people from Victory Christian Center in Alberta, Canada.

There is so much more to say, but I've got to get some rest.  The mornings come early here!

Quote of the Day

You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. – John Bunyan

Sunday, March 18, 2012

When Helping Hurts


I just finished reading an incredible book called When Helping Hurts.

(I know!  I can't believe I had time to read an entire book while in Haiti either!)

The premise of the book is "how to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor and yourself".  The book revealed the painful truth about the poor worldwide and discussed strategies for moving through the relief, rehabilitation and development stages.

Basically, we need to facilitate the restoration of integrity in the poor in order to see a change in the paternalism mentality.

Poverty alleviation is extremely complex in any country, but the rule of thumb is avoid paternalism...at all costs.  Do not do things for people that they can do for themselves.  Many organizations that are "helping Haiti" are actually hurting the people by creating dependency and contributing to the vicious circle of handouts.

Check out this equation from the book:

   Material Definition of Poverty
+ God-complexes of Materially Non-Poor
+ Feelings of Inferiority of Materially Poor
Harm to Both Materially Poor and Non-Poor

Here is what the authors think the overall goal should be for material poverty alleviation:

Working to reconcile the four foundational relationships (with self, others, God and all of creation) so that people can fulfill their callings of glorifying God by working and supporting themselves and their families with the fruit of that work.

Are you sleeping yet?  These things get me pumped up!



Here is the last thing I'll share with you.  The story of elephant and mouse as told by an African woman:

Elephant and Mouse were best friends.  One day Elephant said, “Mouse, let’s have a party!”  Animals gathered from far and near.  They ate.  They sang.  And they danced.  And nobody celebrated more and danced harder than Elephant.  After the party was over, Elephant exclaimed, “Mouse, did you ever go to a better party?  What a blast!”  But Mouse did not answer.  “Mouse, where are you?” Elephant called.  He looked around for his friend, and then shrank back in horror.  There at Elephant’s feet lay Mouse.  His little body was ground into the dirt.  He had been smashed by the big feet of his exuberant friend, Elephant.  “Sometimes, that is what it is like to do mission work with you Americans,” the African storyteller commented.  “It is like dancing with an Elephant."

My focus has always been on working alongside the people and this book emphasized just that.  I love the validation!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pastor Dave - YouthVision International

Pastor Dave Rogers and his wife are the founders of YouthVision International and they have been friends with Pastor Rod for years.  There are some people that are completely contagious to be around and  is one of them.  After starting youth clubs all over Africa and in places like Brazil, you can't help but be drawn to the stories and methods of progress.  He is so wise and I feel honored we (Cassandra, Chris and I) got to spend time with him before the arrival of the rest of our team.



At our leadership meeting on Saturday morning, he had a powerful message on loving children and teens.  The youth workers were very moved and asked a lot of great questions.  Definitely insightful.


I'm so grateful that he came to Haiti to share his vision of starting small groups so that children and teens can share what's on their hearts with a mentor.  These kids need someone, anyone to provide an outlet for all the emotions they have at that age.  I really feel like here the children grow up exponentially faster than in the States.  The majority of young girls have been sexually abused and have STDs.  At CAD, most of them were in some type of slave-like work.  These kids desperately need to talk to someone and to build a relationship with a mentor who can help them navigate who they are and who they can be.  It's all about restoring integrity and giving them hope.

Pastor Dave is a true visionary for reaching and loving people.  I feel honored that he spoke into my life in just the short time I've known him.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jean Pierre


This is my friend, Jean Pierre.


At one of the sites we frequent, there is a wonderful guy who is in a wheelchair.  Here in Haiti that means that he has been completely outcast.  Little attention is paid to him since the accident he had that put him in this wheelchair.

I had the opportunity to spend time with Jean Pierre recently when a woman from the Victory Church in Tulsa came to visit and assess his current situation.  Frank translated for us while Darlynn spent time moving his limbs and observing his capacities.



Frank, Darlynn, Jean Pierre
Jean Pierre was a very young boy when he ran away from home because his sister was abusing him.  He became a street kid where he wiped car windows for money.  One day, he was flying a kite in the road and a car hit him in the back.

He was never taken to a hospital.  Instead, he was taken directly from the scene to CAD, a foster care-like housing facility.


He has a gentle spirit.  Jean Pierre’s smile reaches far, but when we spoke with him, he was very shy.


“Jean Pierre, when did the accident happen?”


“I don’t know.”


“Ok.  Well, how old are you?”


“I don’t know.”


This young man is mentally capable, but has been oppressed for so long.  They say he CAN walk, he just hasn’t been mobile because his body healed incorrectly from the accident.


We looked in his file to find that he is 20 years old and has been at CAD since 2001.  That means the accident was 11 years ago.



Darlynn touched his muscles ever so gently to massage them…pain.  He tried to straighten his legs…dead locked at basically 90 degrees.  We checked the range of motion in his arms and asked him to write his name.  It took him 3 minutes to write 5 letters, but then he started to draw and it was beautiful.  A true artist.

He is so special. I am hopeful working with Darlynn will help him.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Singing


One of our translators and my dear friend, Franck, made up a song to sing to the kids.  It is amazing and I wanted to share it with you all.

Haitian Creole Version:
Mwen se yon moun kap chanje mond la.
Mwen se yon moun kap sekwe nasyon an.
Bondje te dil; mwen kwe/so ranje tout bagay.

English Version:
I am a world changer.
I am a nation shaker.
God said it, I believe it and that settles everything.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Note of Encouragement


CAD is a special place.  We spend quite a bit of time there between Kidz Club, Bible class, English class and the building projects that have happened.  One thing the kids love is writing notes to Chris and Cassandra.  I got my first note Sunday.  It was so sweet and just the pick me up I needed.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Time Change or Time to Change?


Today President Martelly decided to help solve Haiti’s issues!  For the first time in over 240 years, he decided to “spring ahead” for Daylight Savings.  Yes!  Just the change we needed!

(I am being sarcastic.  I know text doesn’t always translate tone.)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Where I Live

Out of all the places I have stayed in Haiti, this place would be the Hilton Hotel.

Our Compound
Where Cassandra and I live!
This is where we will meet and have meals when we host teams. 
Amazing Kitchen!
Where the teams stay - we have two buildings like this.
One for the ladies and one for the guys.