PS 34:3

Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! ~Psalm 34:3

Monday, April 25, 2011

End of April Snapshot

Friends & Family,

We wanted to update you guys and give you a little snapshot of what we did this week. We had a new intern arrive this week, Zack. He is our new maintenance man/groundskeeper. Which is much needed around here. There is so much to do around here, that people's plates get really full and it's easy to spread yourself really thin. And we all know that the danger with that is that you don't do anything really well, because you've got too much going on. So I really think this will help us as a team to be more efficient and to do things with excellence.

One night this week some of the staff girls were craving ice cream. So Cameron went across the street and got us "Rum & Raisin" ice cream. We were so excited to be able to have some ice cream. Then when we had some of it was HORRIBLE!! I couldn't even finish it. I'm pretty sure it had real rum in it- yuck. Andrew woke up in the middle of the night to throw up- I'm pretty sure it was the rum in the ice cream!! He feels better now, so we're pretty sure it was just a one night thing from the ice cream.

Thursday this week was a sad day for the kids at our orphanage. It was vaccine day!! We had a nurse from the local hospital come by and bring some vaccines (MMR- except it's only the Rubella, Polio vaccine, DTAP and Vitamin A). So almost all of the kids got shots today- and some of them went NUTS! I got to give a few to the babies. Diane is really particular with how her shots are given to the babies- so we did those. The Haitian nurse gave the rest of the kids their vaccines. Dr. Ken had to hold a few down- a few of them ended up on the ground- you would have thought we were killing them! But it amazed me at how little the Haitian babies cried! We gave some IM shots to the babies- and a few didn't even cry!!! WOAH. Anyways- it was a great experience for me, especially since I'll be by myself at GG giving a lot of vaccines. I also got a private lesson from Dr. Ken on how to stitch a wound the other day. He said I could do the next one- so that'll be fun!! It's always kind of nice to know how to do that, I'm sure it will come in handy, especially when you've got 30 boys running around :-)

Friday morning, the kids that got a 7 or above (out of 10) on their report cards got to go to the beach and later that night got to go out for pizza- as a reward for doing well. We didn't go, because they needed some people to stay back with the other kids. But they had a BLAST! Then for our Friday night movie, we watched the Jesus Film in Creole (the kid version). It was really neat! Some of the older girls left the movie crying, and Stacie got to talk with some of her girls afterwards. She said that a few of them really seemed to understand what Jesus did for them and asked Jesus into their hearts!!! HOW EXCITING is that!?!? We're already seeing some answers to prayer!

For Easter, Diane thought it would be really exciting to have a special Easter dinner feast for all the kids and staff. She decided that it would be really special to have goat for dinner. So we went this morning with our Haitian cook (and our translator) to buy 2 goats. This was quite the adventure! We drove into Jacmel down a dirt road and parked our car. Then we walked the rest of the way to the live animal market. This was literally a zoo! There were people and animals everywhere! They had a bunch of cows, goats, donkeys, pigs and anything else that people wanted to randomly sell (like belts, cell phone chargers etc.) We ended up buying 2 goats for about $70 total! So we loaded them in the back of our truck- which was kind of funny. Then we drove them back to our cooks home, where some men would help her kill it, skin it, and gut it. They asked if I wanted to go see that- and I said "NO THANKS!" I got a little bit attached to the black one, because it was missing a hoof on one of its hind legs. I felt so bad for him! Anyways, then a few hours later, we had our goat meat. The crazy thing about the Haitian culture is that the sign of a good woman/wife is to be able to kill a chicken or goat! I think I would make a horrible Haitian wife! YUCK! Switching gears a little, I also thought it would be a special treat to have cupcakes for dessert. It was pretty fun because we let the kids frost the cupcakes- they went NUTS. They absolutely love helping out with that kind of stuff. I was amazed at how many of the school age boys wanted to help.

Easter is a big deal down here (as it should be). All of the nannies spent the last few days prior to Easter Sunday going through a bunch of clothes in the depot looking for nice dresses and outfits for all the kids. They each have a really nice dress/outfit, along with a new pair of shoes. All the girls were out on the porch Saturday night painting their nails and doing each other's hair. Even the baby nannies went into the depot to find the baby's some outfits!! It also was a huge deal because they "presented" most of the kids at church on Sunday. In Haiti, you aren't really "recognized" until you are presented at a church, and the pastor signs & seals your birth certificate.

We had an amazing day celebrating our Lord's resurrection! We got to church at 9:15 for a 10:00 service, because we might not have had any seats. So we were sitting in this extremely hot church with a few ceiling fans for 45 min before the service with 9 babies and 50 other kids :-) As a part of the service, Pastor Maxie asked the kids to come up- we had almost 50 kids presented from HAF, and there were about 20 other kids from other orphanages that attend that church. The pastor asked Diane if she would promise to raise them up in the Lord and to teach them the way that they should go. Then he turned to the congregation and said something to them in Creole (and I'm assuming he asked if they would commit to pray for them- because he said something about "praying" and they all said "wi"). That was about all I understood :-) So it was pretty much like a baby dedication service. Then after that, he took each kid/baby in his hands and prayed over each one- even Faith! It was so sweet- almost made me cry! What a special moment. Our service was about 2 hours and 15 minutes today, because of all the dedications AND the special music, which was amazing! The choir did two songs that were great. It was also really neat, because we're starting to be able to understand little bits and pieces of the sermon, so that was also encouraging.

Then we went home and relaxed for a while this afternoon and helped get ready for our special Easter dinner tonight. It was fun, because some of the kids helped us prepare some of the food. When dinner was all ready, we had the kids come and sit down and they sang their prayer. They sang one song in Creole and then they sang "Awesome God" in Creole and then a few times in English- it was awesome! I love hearing our kids sing. Then we, as the American staff, served all the kids and nannies. It was fun to be able to serve them! The goat meat was actually really good!! It just wasn't a lot of meat from the 2 goats to serve 74 people! But we all got a little bit- and there was plenty of other food. We made a few American dishes (devilled eggs. potato salad, yams and funfetti cake).

After dinner, the kids watched a Michael W. Smith music video and loved it. It was amazing to hear them singing on Mighty to Save! They knew all the words, it was so cute! I think that pretty much sums up our Easter Sunday. A little different than a traditional American celebration, but it was still really special!!! One thing that I really don't miss is the "easter bunny" from the states! I HATE the fact that it takes away from the believers day of that's one nice thing we don't have to worry about down here!! I hope you all had a great Easter!

Yesterday was Andrew's & Josue's (our spiritual development coordinator) birthday. Since Josue wasn't there yesterday, we celebrated it tonight with another birthday cake and candles. That was pretty fun!!! I think that pretty much sums up our week.

- Praise God because we are so blessed to have an amazing support team!!
- The Deuce made it to the shipyard in Miami (finally!)
- The Jesus Film seamed to have an impact on the kids

- Continued health especially for Faith
- Continue to pray for our language study, which is going pretty well so far.
- The 37 kids at Grand Goave- spiritually, physically and emotionally
- The staff that will eventually be at the GG site (nannies, cooks, spiritual development coordinator, construction workers, interns and translators...) that they would be godly men and women sold out for His purposes.
- The construction at GG, and that it would go smoothly. We're hoping to get out to see it this week- so please pray that that would work out.
- If you wouldn't mind, joining with us in praying for our long-term health insurance to go through. We currently have a short-term policy in the meantime, but they are still waiting on some records from a few doctors offices. This has been a two month process now! Pray that they would get all that they need, so we can start our long-term policy.
- The devil is continuing to attack us to prevent us from being effective. Please pray that we would not fall into his schemes and that we would continue to stay strong in His Word and His power!

Thank you so much for your prayer support!! You have no idea how much it means to us to have so many people praying daily for us! It is so humbling and yet encouraging to get emails and texts from you guys! Mesi bokou!!! Thank you so much!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mid April Update

Family & Friends,

We are getting pretty well adjusted to life in Haiti. It is so much different: extremely humbling but we are loving it! We've been to the "market"/grocery store, gas station and the construction store (Haitian Home Depot) by ourselves and have survived without a translator :-) We just wanted to share a few stories and experiences with you that we've come across over the past two weeks- to keep you updated on what's going on down here.

We got a new chlorinated filtration unit for our compound at HAF in Jacmel through Water Missions International. So now we will be able to drink straight out of the faucet (it's a little hard to brush your teeth with bottled water- but we're getting used to it.) We are also going to have enough clean water to be able to use it as a community outreach as well- which we are so excited about! Praise the LORD for clean drinking water!

This is an extremely sad story that we came across last week! Diane told me that there was a single mom on the porch who was bringing her kids to the orphanage to give them to us. We sat down with her (and a translator) and heard her story. Apparently, she has 3 kids (5 yrs, 3 yrs, 9 months) and can't feed them. She explained to us that she cries every morning when her kids wake up hungry and she has nothing to feed them. She gets occasional help from her family/friends- but not enough to provide for them. She will also sit out and beg for food. She told us she has no where else to turn, the economy is so hard, she has no job and can't feed her kids. Diane tried to explain to her that this is the ABSOLUTE last resort, we don't like to take kids away from their parents. The father is apparently nowhere to be found- hasn't seen the kids since Jan 1st. As I was sitting there listening to the conversation of this desperate woman with a 9 month old baby in her arms and her 3 year old son playing on the steps, I just wanted to CRY! I cannot imagine having to make such a HUGE decision: getting to keep my kids, yet not being able to feed them, or giving them up and knowing that they're going to be fed! SERIOUSLY?!?! I also thought about that little boy playing on the steps, this might be the last day he has with his Mom- does he even know what's coming?! My heart just breaks for these people in this situation! I'm sorry to bring such a heavy story today, but I just can't get it out of my head! The saddest part is that she is not the only one in this same situation- there are so many women who come to the feeding program on Mondays and want us to keep their babies! This story happened last week, and the lady came today to bring us her kids with all the paperwork. But we were able to start her on the feeding program and give her enough formula each week for her kids, so that she can keep them. She seemed to be happy about that and so did we!!!

Another crazy story: for our morning workouts on Tuesday/Thursday we hike up the mountain. So one morning during our hike, we saw these women coming down the mountain with huge bags and baskets on their heads. They wore no shoes until they got to the grass- because it would wear their shoes out to quickly (from the rocks). I quickly found out that these women come from over the mountain, all the way into town EVERYDAY to bring their fruit & charcoal to sell. Then they buy whatever food they can afford and carry it back up the mountain to their village. I don't know how many miles, but they told us it's a 2 1/2 hour hike- EACH WAY! And they usually only make about 50 cents/day with what they sell in town!! Can you imagine, not only having to hike up and down a mountain for 5 hours each day, but barefooted and carrying a huge weight on your head- for $0.50 per day!?!? These women are amazing and make me so grateful for what I have!!!

Our language classes seem to be going pretty well. We are starting to put simple sentences together- which is exciting! We just learned a bunch of question words today, so that should help a little when we try to go shopping :-) The only down side with our language class is that our tutor is encouraging us to produce and speak Creole a little faster than Andrew likes. He likes to comprehend everything before he starts to say it. Last week our tutor had us read a huge paragraph in Creole out loud one at a time- so you can imagine how Andrew felt about that. But other than that, they are going really well. We're learning LOTS!

- We're getting acclimated to the heat and the culture here in Haiti.
- Our family has been free of illness so far!
- Faith is really healthy and now weighs 13lbs 12oz!!! She's a giant next to some of the Haitian babies!

- Continued health for us and especially Faith!
- Our language study- for understanding and patience as we learn this new languaculture
- The 37 kids at Grand Goave (where we'll eventually be)- spiritually, physically and emotionally.
- The staff that we'll eventually have at the GG site (nannies, cooks, spiritual development coordinator, construction workers, interns, translators...)- that they would be godly men and women sold out for His purposes.
- The construction at GG. Long story short: we need to find some temporary housing for the kids (that is going to be better than the school they're living in now.) We are shooting for June 20th to be done with the temporary housing. Then in the fall, we have some engineers coming in from the States to figure out a long term plan for the site. But until then, pray that God would work out the details in getting these kids some temporary housing. (It looks like we will be moving there around the end of June as well.)

Thank you so much for all your prayers and support!! We are so grateful to have all of you as a part of our team in reaching these kids!! THANK YOU!!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

We're here!

Well we finally made it here to Jacmel, Haiti. After a great commissioning service at Northside last Sunday, we finished saying our goodbyes and packing up the Deuce on Monday. We flew out early Thursday morning with Missionary Flights International. Faith did great on her first flight ever!! Then it took us 4 hours to drive from Port Au Prince to the Children's Village in Jacmel (on the crazy mountain roads!) No matter how much you read about and try to prepare for culture shock, I've discovered there is no real way around it. The poverty in Haiti just breaks your heart!!!

It's been really neat to see the excitement here at the Children's village. The staff here at HAF in Jacmel consists of Dr. Ken & his wife Diane and their 18 year old daughter, Emily. Also, there are 2 interns here as well, Stacey & Cameron.

The past few days we've been hanging out with the kids and learning the ropes. To get an idea, a typical day usually looks like the following: Each morning (except Sunday) we have a staff meeting/devotions at 6:30am. Then they give us 30 minutes for a workout. After that we all work on various projects while the kids are at school. The kids come home from school around 1-2pm. Then they have some time with Jose-way? (I'm not sure how to spell it yet:-) He is a Haitian man who speaks pretty good English and is in charge of the children's spiritual development. He does devotions with them in the morning, makes them memorize Scripture and tutors them in the afternoons to help them with their homework. Then the cook fixes them dinner and they have a little more time to play before their bedtime at 8:30pm. That's pretty much the routine.

They also try to take a handful of kids to the beach on Saturday. Yesterday was Faith's first day at the beach. She looked really cute in her bathing suit, but doesn't particularly love the water yet :-) They now have a nursery at Jacmel and they have 8 babies! They are so cute!!! As a staff, we will watch the babies on Sunday morning so that the nannies can go to church. We usually will have a worship service ourselves on Sunday night or go to the Sunday night service at the local church. The rest of our Sunday is spent relaxing and resting, which is much needed around here!

We start our language classes tomorrow. We will go from 2-4pm on Monday, Wednesday, & Friday for 6 weeks. They also have 2 paid translators here at the orphanage, so we might try to see if one of them would be willing to work with us for a few hours a day as a language helper. We are really excited and anxious to learn Creole.

We're going to put some more pictures of our apartment on facebook. We are in an apartment in the guest house. We have a bedroom with a closet, living room, kitchen (with stove & fridge) and a bathroom. We also have an a/c unit in our bedroom- which has been a tremendous blessing since we don't have our fans yet!! We only turn it on at night though because of the amount of electricity it uses during the day. It's pretty warm down here (low-mid 90's), but we're gradually acclimating.

Another big question we've been asked is about the food. We have a cook that prepares all of the staff's food (different from the one that cooks the food for the kids). She is Haitian and we've had a lot of chicken legs and rice. We also have a lot of bananas. The other day we had these plantains that were smashed into thin patties and then fried. They almost tasted like french fries, but much healthier- according to Dr. Ken. We have plain oatmeal for breakfast just about every morning, which is alright. I've been learning to put peanut butter in it to make it taste a little better :-) I think that's about all the updates I have now. Thank you guys so much for praying and all of your support in the last week before we left! We had so much help from friends and family- we couldn't have done it without y'all!!!

- We're finally here! God was watching out for us all along the way! We had a few belts break on the Deuce on the way to Florida, but God provided the belts we needed with the help from some great friends.
- Praise the Lord we had a safe flight from Fort Pierce to Port Au Prince, and that Faith did well!

- Pray that we would adjust quickly to this new culture and language. Pray for understanding as we start our language classes tomorrow.
- Pray that God would continue to keep us all healthy, especially Faith.
- Pray that the Deuce with all of our stuff in it would be able to be shipped out soon without a lot of problems. (It's a long story, but it is still waiting to be shipped out from Miami.)
- Pray that we would be able to find a way to communicate with family and friends, other than email & facebook. We thought we'd be able to skype, but because it's all satellite based, skype crashes the system.
- Pray for the staff that are going to eventually be at Grand Goave (our future home)- translators, spiritual coordinator, nannies, cooks and interns. Pray that God would be preparing them for each of those tasks and that we would be able to have a real connection with each of them!

Thank you so much for praying!! You have no idea how much we feel your prayers back home- THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts!

For His Glory,
~Andrew, Angie & Faith