PS 34:3

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

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beginning of May Snapshot

We had a great week last week!! We didn't have our language class, but we still tried to study on our own in the afternoons, to make sure that we're using the time we have here in Jacmel wisely. Anyways, but in addition to our studying and working on our Creole homework, we were able to do a lot of really fun things! Monday I was able to help out with the feeding program. Because the kids didn't go back to school until Tuesday (from their Spring Break), some of them were able to help us with the program. It was really neat to have them be a part of a huge ministry! We feed about 50 kids each Monday. The moms will bring their own bags (sometimes they'll use a pillowcase or their tattered purse) along with a "Hands & Feet" laminated card- meaning that they've been approved for our feeding program. Then they all stand at the second gate handing us their bags through the fence. Then we'll run the bags inside and fill them with 3 bags of soy rice (which has some protein in it) and 1 can of formula or 1 can of powdered milk (depending on the age of the child). Then we run it back out to them and they're all set for the week. It was really neat to see some of our grade school boys helping out with this incredible ministry, in addition to their excitement!!

A few days last week, Andrew and I worked on taking the jungle gym apart. They are wanting to redesign in and move it to a different spot in the compound (so the boys can have a bigger space to play soccer.) One of the girls at our orphanage goes to a special ed school and doesn't go back to school until this week. So she was outside helping us take apart the jungle gym all morning. She was so cute- she helped me take the screws out with the cordless drill. Then she was so excited to help me carry some of the wood to the other side of the compound. Then when some of the other kids got home, a lot of them started helping us carry the wood! I thought to myself, "What in the world? Why do these kids want to help us carry wood?" After thinking about it, I really think that they just wanted to hang out with us- how crazy is that?! These kids are so hungry for your love and affection, that they're willing to carry 2x4's across the yard just to be with you! WOW! What an amazing responsibility the Lord has given to us- to love on these kids who have no other family!!

Then on Friday, we were able to drive down to Grand Goave - my first time seeing it!!!! It was an AMAZING weekend. We got to met Drex & Jo Stuart (Mark Stuart's parents- the ones who pretty much ran the orphanage for the past 5-6 years.) They are here until the end of June to help figure out some temporary housing for the new GG site. On Saturday we got to go over and meet all of the kids. They were adorable!! As soon as we hopped out of the truck, we were greeted with 31 huge hugs and smiles! We were able to take pictures of each of them and get their names, so we can start making prayer cards and praying for them by name (as well as trying to match faces to names.) But I couldn't figure out why they were so dusty!! It literally looked like some of them had just been rolling around in the dirt. It didn't take me long to figure out what they were doing. We went out behind the church and there was a construction site (where they're building a new school building) and they had a walk out basement partially dug. Somehow these kids had created a "cement hill" and they were riding on the empty cement bags down this cement hill. They were sledding down the hill. Some of them even got resourceful and used a broken plastic slide, turned it upside down, and put 4 kids on it and rode it down like a toboggan. Hahah- it was so cute but you can imagine how dirty they were from that cement dust!!! Anyways, it was really neat to see them in such good spirits for really not having any toys or anything to play with! We can't wait to get them over to the new site and let them run around and have some fun with soccer balls, bikes, kites etc. Then one of the boys showed us their rooms. There are 24 boys living in a 32'x15' room! They sleep at least 2 to a single bunk bed, while others are sleeping 3 to a bed. And these boys aren't all that young- 5-16 years old! There are only 7 girls, so their room isn't as cramped, but they are still sleeping 2 to a bed! They have no room for their clothes or "stuff" except under their bed- which they share with another kid. After seeing where they are living, we are so excited to get them to a temporary housing- where they'll each have their own bed and a cubby space for all their clothes and belongings!!

After that, we were able to go see the new property and it looks awesome!! It has 5-6 big mango trees as well as hundreds of plantain trees (so we'll try to keep as many as possible, to provide for shade and food :-) Currently, the only thing on the property is a well. It is about 60' in the front, runs back 490' and then fans out to 120' in the back. So it's a pretty good size property. So the plan. Drex & Jo are here to help us build some temporary housing to get these kids into their own beds. We were going to buy some treated lumber from a guy we met at church on Sunday who is with Samaritan's Purse. But it turns out, that they wanted to donate 10 shelters to Hands & Feet for these temporary buildings. So, hopefully this week we'll be able to see some progress. Our tentative move in date to GG (for us & the kids) is June 20th. We have another missionary family (with three young kids) who are going to be coming down this fall to help us design a master plan for the GG site. (He is an architect/construction manager.) Anyways, once we get a master plan for the site, we'll start building our permanent structures. So lots is happening!

On Sunday, we got to go visit the church that the kids go to. It was awesome too! Pastor Lex is a local Haitian pastor who spent many years in the States and then came back to Haiti to minister. He is the one who took these children in (I'll have to tell you that story later- about how we got these 31 kids) and started a church and Christian school. Anyways, this is a protestant church (they really don't have denominations down here- or so I've been told.) They are extremely lively though! They've got a keyboard, electric guitar, bass and drums! It was really neat, because they did 2 songs in Creole that we recognized: "I'm Trading My Sorrows" and "How Great is our God." It was neat to be able to worship our Almighty God with them, in spite of the language barrier. Also, alleluia seems to be the same in every language :-)

We are now back in Jacmel pressing on with our language studies- which is going really well, by the way. I also have a few random tidbits that I found out this week:

1. There are no mice down here- just RATS! Dr. Ken was telling us about one time they found this rat in the garage. He cornered it, so he thought he was good. Then it started crawling up the wall!!! He said the body of the rat was a good foot!!! I think I probably would have passed out if I came across a foot long rat in my apartment!!! YUCK. But you know, it's funny how God continually prepares us for what's ahead. When we first moved into our house in SC, we caught 6 mice- I thought THAT was disgusting. Then a few months after we moved in, I found 3 little lizards in our house too- I flipped out!! I hate mice and lizards! Haha- the only two animals that get into your house down here (other than bugs) are rats and lizards! I guess God was preparing me for Haiti in more ways than one :-) Not to mention about how He has been preparing me for the heat. I grew up in NY, moved to SC (a little warmer) then now to Haiti (even warmer!) It's amazing to look back and see how God prepared us along the way for things that He knew were coming up ahead!!!

2. Dr. Ken heard about an orphanage in Les Cayes that was about to be shut down by Unicef (child protective service agency.) They had about 90 kids living on a pretty nice compound. Apparently two churches helped support this orphanage- one provided the funds while the other provided the care for the kids. They had a falling out somehow (I don’t know the details). When Unicef found them, these kids hadn’t eaten in who knows how long! They had the huge bellies and the skinny legs and arms. There was no food to be found anywhere on the compound. So, Dr. Ken heard about their need and went with a group from Jacmel to deliver a bunch of mattresses and a bunch of that soy rice with milk. Dr. Ken arrived on Sunday, and Unicef told the orphanage to try to find the kids moms by Monday. So Monday all but 20 moms showed up to pick their kids up. I asked myself, why are these kids at an orphanage if they still have moms around? This seams to be a huge issue in Haiti!!! Apparently, this pastor had offered to give food to these kids, a clean home, as well as an education- which the mom could not provide. A lot of Haitian moms are unable to provide for their kids (and the dads are completely out of the picture). It is heart wrenching for these moms to give up their kids, but their alternative is to hear their kids cry each morning because they are hungry, knowing she can’t give them anything. What mom in this situation wouldn’t let her kid live at an orphanage if they were promised food, a bed, and an education!?!? Anyways- really heavy stuff! The whole point of this really long story was to tell you that there is a possibility of Hands and Feet opening up an orphanage down in Les Cayes where those 20 kids are left. So that’s pretty exciting. It’s not in the works yet, but a possibility, so be praying for those kids!


- HUGE praise item: we just got approved for our long term health insurance just this past week!! Praise the Lord! Thank you guys so much for praying!! I am convinced that the reason it went through this week was because of your prayers!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

- We got to go visit Grand Goave without any issues or problems. We were so excited to be able to meet the children that we'll be living with in a few months! Praise Jesus!

- We also are extremely blessed to have Pastor Lex as a close friend (who lives in GG). What a tremendous resource to have a Haitian- who truly knows the people- so close by. Not to mention that he (and his wife and 2 teenage kids) can speak English fluently! We are truly blessed to be able to have such an amazing resource right there already. Alexis (Lex's 14 year old daughter) is already really involved in these kids lives - she teaches some of the girls dance and also how to sing. So she is already wanting to be involved when we move to the new site!


- Please continue to pray for these 31 (I messed up last time and told you 37- but there's only 31) kids at Grand Goave. Pray that God would draw them to Himself and that they would see Christ in us as we get ready to move over there.

- Continue to pray for the staff that we'll have at GG: the nannies, cooks, interns, the other missionary family that's currently raising support.

- Pray for Drex & Jo as they make decisions about this temporary housing. Pray that God would give them discernment and wisdom. Also pray that they would have all the materials that they need and that the details would just fall into place. Things tend to take 5 times as long to finish in Haiti- just because of the nature of this country. So pray that we'd be able to meet our deadline of June 20th.

- Also pray for our entire Hands & Feet team to be united and intent on one purpose. Satan is trying to render us useless, so pray that any issues that come up in our team would not divide us- but draw us even closer together. It really is a spiritual battle as Paul says in Ephesians, and I've never felt it so much before as I have here. Pray that we would stand strong against the enemy's tactics and that we could have a united front for His Glory!!!

- The Pierce's will be leaving this Thursday for a month (their first Grandbaby is due.) Be praying that we can step it up and have more energy (as we'll be short staffed a little). And that it will run smoothly while they're gone.

Thanks again for all your prayers and encouraging emails!!! I may not respond to everyone that you send, but know that they are a HUGE encouragement- you have no idea! So thank you for your partnership in bringing the Gospel to these kids!

Much love,

~The Suttons

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