PS 34:3

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

Friday, September 14, 2012

Our Trip Back

Hands and Feet Project

Friends and Family,

       I wanted to give you a quick update on our trip back to the states so that we can see as many of you as possible.  We fly into Charlotte, NC on September 20th and will drive down to Columbia that evening.  We plan on being at Northside Baptist (SC) on Sunday the 23rd.  We also have the opportunity to share with a church in Batesburg on Wednesday evening.  The following Saturday (29th) we will have a Hands and Feet fundraiser BBQ in Lexington (from 10am-2pm) for those of you that would like to join us.  We would love to see you guys out there to share with you about what God's doing here in Grand Goave firsthand.  See the attached flyer for details :-).  Later on that evening we will be heading up to visit some good friends of ours in NC.  We will then attend church with them that morning and make our way north that afternoon to Syracuse.  We will be doing lots of wedding preparations that week before the wedding on October 5th.  That next Sunday (Oct 7th) we will be worshipping with our church family at Northside Baptist (NY) followed by an evening service at RiverEdge.  We are really looking forward to catching up with lots of friends and family over these next two weeks!

Please be praying for safe and easy travels (this will be a first for us with two infants in laps).  Praise the Lord we don't live half way across the world and have to fly for more than 2 hours at a time :-).  You can also be praying for our time spent with our family and friends- that it would be a sweet time of re-connection and encouragement.

Monday, September 10, 2012

September Update

Update from Grand Goave

September 2012

A Little R&R.  Well the Sutton (and HAF) family is really excited to tell you that our crazy hectic summer is now over!!  We want to praise the Lord for giving us the strength and patience to get through 12 weeks straight of hosting teams.  We are so grateful for all the help and all the people that have started sponsoring our kids as a result of a trip this summer!  On the other hand, we are also really excited to have a little rest and relaxation from having to entertain 24/7 :-).  We have been able to hang out and have fun with the kids these past few weeks before they head back to school, October 3rd.  Our kids were supposed to start back September 3rd, but because of the hurricane- they have pushed back the start date to give those who lost homes up in the mountains time to figure out what they're going to do.

Isaac Damage

We are extremly blessed here at Hands and Feet.  The only damage we had to our property during the hurricane was 2 big limbs down on some of our trees.  Other than that, we had no other damage- praise the Lord!!  We have a huge mountain range right behind our house that takes most of the wind in hurricanes- which is a huge blessing!  We got a call at 1am from our Jacmel HAF site saying that we needed to get out of there.  The winds were crazy strong in Jacmel (causing several of their large trees to fall down and the tin generator roof to blow off.)  So we got all of the kids and staff up and drove down in 3 car loads down to our Pastor's guest house (concrete building).  When we came back the next day, we found only a few limbs down in the yard and our houses were all still completely intact :-).  Thank you, Jesus!!  This is a picture of the river thta runs through town, the day after the hurricane- it usually is small enough to jump over- not today :-)

Progress on the Mountain.

We have officially started the foundation up at our mountain property, Ikondo.  They are done digging the foundation out for our first phase and have just finished tying the rebar together for the foundation.  They actualy just finished pouring the basement floor yesterday (well, it's actually a plumbing & electrical corridor).  We have a solar powered well pump up there right now that allows the neighbors to come and get water during the day- which they love!  We are almost finished on our "Haitian style fence" around the property up there.  We've taken small 1-2" diameter sticks put them in the ground and connected them with barbed wire.  It doesn't feel as closed off from the neighbors as a 9' concrete wall does.  Andrew has been making lots of trips up in the Deuce with almost 300 bags of cement, plywood (for the forms) and rebar.  We had no idea when we got it, how much we'd use the Deuce- but it's been extremely handy these past few weeks!!!  

Our Trip Back.

We are planning on coming back in a few weeks to the states to visit family and friends.  We will be flying into SC on September 20th and staying in the Columbia area until the 29th.  We will then drive up to NY on the 30th for Angie's sister's wedding and stay until October 9th.  We would love to meet and catch up with whoever is available, so please email us and let us know if you have some free time those weeks.  We will be at Northside (SC)- Sept 23rd and the following Sunday, we will be visiting a supporting church up in NC.  

August Update

Hands and Feet Project

Friends and Family, I am sorry this update is LONG overdue!  I apologize, I will put some more pictures in the next update, we haven’t had a lot of time to take pictures of what’s been going on lately.  We have been staying extremely busy with our teams back to back since June 2nd.  Praise the Lord that we’re almost done with this crazy hectic summer.  Our last team leaves September 3rd, so after that, we will be back to normal.  PLUS our kids go back to school the first week in September too- so we’re excited about having some time to rest and relax in the mornings :-).
                  Andrew has been driving the Deuce and a half into Port au Prince each Saturday to drop a team off and pick another one up.   The Deuce works really well for picking teams up- we’ve added a tarp to the top (to provide some shade or rain protection) and a luggage rack.  While he’s in PAP, our intern (Lauren) and myself (along with some of the kids) clean the guest house and make all the beds for the upcoming team.  Our hardest part this summer has been coming up with enough projects for our teams to help us with.  A lot of them have been helping us paint our barrier wall (on the inside), making us a basketball court, making some clotheslines, organizing our depot and food storage, as well as other miscellaneous cleaning and organizing projects.  A lot of our teams have also come in with VBS-like material and have done lots of lessons, crafts and games with the kids.  They have also started digging out the foundation up at our Ikondo (mountain) property.  We have about 20-30 workers on a given day up there clearing it out to get it ready to pour the foundation!  (More pictures to follow in the next update.)
                 As some of you might have seen on Facebook, this past Friday one of our 6-year-old girls from Jacmel went to be with Jesus.  They were taking a trip to the beach (like any other day) with some of the kids and a big wave came and swept her away.  By the time they realized she was not in with the rest of group- it was too late, they were unable to find her.  They did find her body several miles down the beach Sunday afternoon.  Our heart breaks for those in Jacmel who are grieving the loss of this sweet little girl.  But we can also rejoice in knowing that she is with our Lord right now and in a far better place.  So today we (the Sutton’s) unfortunately, have our first funeral to attend here in Haiti.  Please be praying for those who were close to Junette and that God of all comfort would give them His peace that passes all understanding.  Please pray for Junette’s extended family too that is now grieving too.  Pray that they would turn to Christ and come to know Him in a personal way. 
                As soon as we heard the news, we immediately told our kids (and team) and had them start to pray for those over in Jacmel.  Pastor Manyol led us in a time of prayer, song and reading of the Scripture.  It was a sweet moment to see him step up like that and lead our kids.  After that, Andrew and I sat down with half of the kids (one-on-one) and had a conversation about where they are spiritually.  We shared with them James 4:14 (life is like a vapor, here one minute and gone the next.)  It was pretty encouraging to sit down with them and find that each one professes to be a believer.  On the other hand, the discouraging thing is that you’re just not sure how genuine it is, or if they’re just saying that to make us happy.  We tried to explain that there’s a difference between knowing Christ in your head (along with all the church answers) and knowing Christ in a personal and intimate way.  In that same conversation, we then, encouraged them to be reading the Scriptures daily and to be praying to God.  When I was talking to our kids, it reminded me a little bit of the Bible belt- where a lot of people know the right things to say, but when it comes to living it out- it’s not real and authentic.  Anyways, we are hoping to sit down with the rest of the kids sometime this week to find out where they are spiritually.  If you could be praying for us as we have these conversations that they would be genuine and that we could really dig into the heart of the matter, that would be awesome!  Pray that God would change their hearts in a way that only He can do and that He would change them from the inside out.  Thank you so much!!
Much love,
  ~ The Sutton's

July Update

Update from Grand Goave

July 2012

GLORY to God!
We have some really exciting news about our well at the mountain property!!  Blue Ridge came by this week to drill our well and they found about 15 gallons/min!!!!  (To give you an idea of how excited we were, our last well on that property only produced about 3 GPM.)  Praise the LORD!  It was really neat, before they started drilling, we were able to pray both in English and Creole.  The neat thing about it was that there were lots of neighbors around and were able to join us as we began drilling for water.  We now have the green light from HAF to get started building our foundation for the permanent structure at the mountain property, Ikondo.  What a HUGE answer to prayer :-). 

Summer (and help) is Here!

The kids are officially done with school and are enjoying their summer vacation!  We have two interns who have joined us to help with teams and activities for the kids during our summer months.  Lauren is a VT graduate, who majored in art and is helping our kids make projects this summer to sell to our groups.  They have made some really cool things so far including necklaces out of rocks found on the beach and some different types of Haitian wall decorations. Our other intern, Myra, is here from CA to help us host our teams this summer.  We are so excited to have some extra help around here- especially when we have so many short term teams coming in and out.  Praise the Lord!

Basketball Court.

Our team last week also helped us pour a little pad for a basketball court.  Our kids are loving it (although, they're still learning the rules :-).  The team we have here this week has a lot of youth in it- so it's perfect: the Americans whip the Haitians in bball while the Haitians kill the Americans in soccer.


Wilson has successfully finished his first round of chemo two weeks ago.  So far, he has not had a whole lot of side effects from the meds- just some water retention.  The most exciting thing- is that they actually allowed him to come home for two weeks until he starts his next round!!  He was so excited that they allowed him to do that.  Especially because they were really hesitant at first- with a depressed immune system at an orphanage with 30 other kids- you're asking for an infection!  But he's been staying in Michelle's house and wears a mask while outside- but it's so much better for him to be with his "family" than in the hospital.  We're so thankful for that blessing.  He goes back in tomorrow for his second round- please pray for him as he continues his treatments and for strength!

May Update

May 2012 Update

Orphan Summit.
 The beginning of May started out with a 6 day trip to California for an Orphan Conference followed by some HAF board meetings.  We learned a lot at this conference and were able to get some new ideas about how to better care for our children here.  One of the big pushes at this conference was to create a "family style" environment for kids at an orphanage.  The orphan movement is trying to move away from "institutions" and giving every kid a loving family.  So we talked a lot that weekend about how that could look here in Haiti, where there is no Foster Care system and the adoption process is extremely difficult.  Another huge issue we brainstormed at the conference is what to do with our older kids and helping them transition out into the real world once they're done with school.  So we had lots of great conversations over the course of those few days together as a board and Haiti staff.

The Vision.
Through a lot of discussion with our directors and prayer, we feel like we've got not only a great vision, but God's vision, for our kids here in Grand Goave.  Since we have two sites here in Grand Goave (the current site we're at & the mountain property), we want to best utilize the space for our kids.  SO the plan is to keep our current site a place where we have kids from 0-15 years old in a family style home, which would include having 6-8 kids in a small home with a "house parent(s)" where they can eat meals together and see what a family looks like.  And the plan for the mountain property is to make it a "transitional home" for those over 16 as well as a guest house for teams.  This way our older teens can continue to go to school in the mornings but also have the opportunity to learn a trade and work in the afternoons.  This would be more or less like a college type environment for them- where they're getting ready to move out on their own while learning valuable skills to be able to use in the real world.  We would love to be able to teach them various skills like welding, masonry, carpentry, farming and cooking (some very common jobs in Haiti).  The other really neat thing about having teams up on this same property would be the potential to gear our teams towards teaching some of these skills to our teens for the week they're in Haiti.  For example, it would be really neat if a team of welders came in and taught our kids for a week some basic techniques or skills.  The plan is for Michelle to take care of the site where the younger kids are and we would be up on the mountain property with the older kids and teams.  Andrew and I are really excited about this vision and really feel like God has given us a heart to teach and work with these kids in getting them ready to transition out into their culture.  


Our last team was from California and was our first returning team here in Grand Goave.  It was really neat to see how excited the kids were to see some returning faces and how they remembered their names.  The team helped us with a lot of welding and painting projects as well as just loving on the kids.  One of the big projects for the week was to make a luggage rack for our big Deuce and a half.  We are going to need some more space for luggage when we pick up bigger teams from the airport.  So that was a huge help!    Our next team doesn't come in until June 2nd.  That's when the crazy summer begins :-).  We will have teams here back to back from June 2 all the way up until the end of August- so when one team leaves on Saturday we pick another one up that same day.  So you can definitely be praying for us as we look forward to a summer of craziness.

Baby Sutton

We're still anxiously awaiting the arrival of our little "Button Sutton."  We are due June 14th, but I'm ready any day now to meet our little one :-).  It is starting to warm up down here (low 90's- which feels like low 100's when you're pregnant with no A/C).  Thankfully only a few more weeks and we'll be able to meet our little Sutton.  Other than the heat, everything else looks great- mom and baby are healthy!  It always blows my mind to be able to see so much detail of Baby's face with the ultrasound machine.


Conference.  Praise the Lord for a great time in CA of rejuvenation and time to connect with other members of HAF.  Praise the Lord for the vision that he's given to us and our leadership on how to better raise these kids.  What a great time of refreshment with others who are working in the same ministry as we are- orphan care.
Devotion time with kids. Praise the Lord for our devotional times with the kids in the evenings.  They are really enjoying it and some of them even asked to be baptized several weeks ago :-).  We are so excited to be able to sit down one-on-one with some of them and talk through what it means to be baptized.  It was really encouraging to our hearts, because they were the ones who brought up the subject!!!
Wilson. Praise the Lord- we just got the biopsy results back!  The bad news is that it is Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  The good news is that it's one of the more treatable childhood cancers.  So NOW we're trying to find a doctor (or group of doctors) that will take Wilson on as their charity case.  We've got several avenues that people are pursuing for us- so please be praying that someone would be willing to take him on as their patient.  Please be praying that God would open doors and that the paperwork and all the other details would just fall right into place for him to get some treatment soon!  

Prayer Requests:

Baby. Please be praying for our upcoming delivery (and the wait up until that day).  We are a 2 1/2 hour drive (on a good day) away from Port Au Prince, so please be praying that God's timing would be perfect and that we wouldn't meet a lot of traffic or road blocks on the way.  Pray that God would give us discernment as to when to head in to PAP.  And also pray that the whole process would be as smooth as possible (delivering where they speak mostly Creole, in an unfamiliar place and different culture.)  

Upcoming summer. Please be praying for our upcoming crazy summer of back to back groups.  It's a little overwhelming to think about having a newborn as well as having to entertain teams for the next three months.  We do have three college age girls coming this summer to help us out- to help alleviate some of the stress.  Pray that we would be able to really connect as a team and work together in unity for the Glory of God.  (Two of them are coming June 2nd and the other one is coming later in June.)

April Update

April 2012 Update

What we've been up to.

Well our past month has been packed full with visitors- family, friends and child sponsors.  We had a great time with my sister and her fianceé along with a team from the US and Australia- lots of encouragement and help.  They were able to paint the swing set, monkey bars, Faith's toy box and help us put up the chain link fence around the soccer field.  The fence around the soccer field allows the neighbors to use the field, along with our kids, but not be inside the rest of our compound.  The kids are back in school now and can I just tell you how nice it is to have them back in a routine?!  Haha- three weeks of Spring Break, I think, is a little too long :-).  We are sad to see our first intern, Joy, leave us tomorrow :-(.  She has been a huge blessing and help around here the last few months.  She fits right in here at Grand Goave.  We will certainly miss her help with the depot, teams, the HAF store, watching Faith, doing my dishes as well as her ideas on how to better improve here at Hands and Feet!!!  Thanks, Joy for all you've done these past three months- you will be missed!!!

The Well

Mountain Property UpdateOver the past month, we have been testing our well for about 10 hours a day to see how much water it really is producing.  The good news is that it hasn't produced less than 2.8 gal/min.  In testing the well, we are able to give out the water to the neighbors- who absolutely love not having to walk down the mountain to get it.  

Women's Conference

The Women's Conference had a really good turn out!  I ended up sharing some Scriptures from James and Matthew about gossip and the power of the tongue.  It wasn't a "feel-good" message, but one that needed to be addressed.  After all, the Word of God cuts deep and convicts, right?  I ended up sharing in English and the pastor's daughter translated for me- thank you, Alexis!!!  

Raining Mangos

It was literally raining mangos yesterday!!  We had one of our workers climb up in the tree (directly above our house) to shake out all the ripe mangos.  The kids were having so much fun collecting them as they fell on the roof and rolled off.  We collected 4 huge buckets of mangos to give out to our workers and kids.  We were also very appreciative for the AWESOME night sleep we got last night.  In case you can't imagine- a mango falling 15 feet onto your tin roof (that doesn't have any insulation) in the middle of the night sounds like a really loud shotgun!!  We're thankful for the "near end" to the mango season :-)

The Word

Evening Devotions.
 Andrew's Bible lessons with the kids are going really well.  They are loving the interaction and being able to answer questions!  I'm pretty sure this is the first kind of interactive Bible study they've ever had.  Most of the other studies they've had in the past are more of a teaching time- no room for questions and answers.  Each of the kids also just got a brand new Creole Bible with their name engraved on it.  It's really neat to see the enthusiasm of the kids when they read and can find the Scripture for themselves.  

Waterfall Hike
Andrew and the kids took a 2 hour hike up to a waterfall their last day of Spring Break.  They absolutely loved playing in it- despite the fact that it was pretty small and a little muddy!  They ended up blocking it off for a few minutes at the top and then let it all go at once, it was pretty dirty, but they had a blast!!  Here are two of our kids playing in it :-)

Joy- We are going to miss you!  May God bless you as you start a new chapter this fall!


Orphan Summit: We are gearing up and getting ready for an Orphan Conference this May 2-8.  We will be flying into California and attending the conference for two days followed by some HAF board meetings.  We are really looking forward to some of the breakout sessions specifically geared towards discipling teenagers, transitioning them out of orphan care into the "real world," as well as family style model orphanages.  Drex and Jo Stuart (previous HAF directors at the Jacmel site) are coming down to hold down the fort while we're gone.  

Our Garden

Our kids have been doing a great job of taking care of our new garden!!  The Northside (NY) team helped us plant some corn, watermelon, beans, beets and some flowers.  They are sprouting up and the kids are doing a great job at watering them everyday!  Jean Baptiste and Jean Marie are the two who are really taking ownership of the garden- which is awesome!  Andrew was outside working with some of the kids the other day helping them put together a little fence and irrigation system for the garden.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March (Long Awaited) Update

It is definitely time for an update from the Sutton's in Grand Goave.  I apologize for the delay in getting this to you.  We have been enjoying a month full of visits from family and close friends.  We have a group (or family friends) here with us back to back from March 18th-April 17th- so lots of visitors.

We had a great time last week with a group from Northside Baptist (NY) lead by my parents.  It was really good to get to spend some time with them.  Their team was such a blessing.  They brought so many supplies and came with lots of project ideas.  They built a swing set, monkey bars, a climbing rock wall as well as a tight rope for the kids to play on.  The kids have not stopped swinging and hanging on them since they were installed :-).  They are absolutely loving it!!!  They also made us some seat cushions for our Deuce, curtains for all of the kids rooms as well as teaching our girls how to sew a simple hem using a sewing machine.  They donated two identical sewing machines for our girls, so they can learn how to sew.   We also had a dental assistant on the team who worked with the kids and showed them how to properly brush and floss.  So- a great week with lots of different skills and talents, all being used to serve!

This week we have some really close SC college friends that are visiting this week to encourage us.  They have made a few games for the kids (ladder ball, corn hole and a washer toss) as well as some other miscellaneous projects around.  They have also been pampering us by cooking American dinners, doing our laundry, cleaning and whatever else needs to be done.  It's been great having some much needed encouragement and fellowship with family friends.

This upcoming Saturday, my sister and her fiancée come down to spend a week with us.  We are looking forward to having some time to spend with them and showing them around our town.  And then, the following week, we drop my sister and fiancée off at the airport and pick up another team.  So we have lots of people coming to help out and check out our place in Grand Goave!

Our kids have been spending the last week and a half taking their midterm exams.  And because it is exam week, their schedules have been changed and they only go to school for the test- which means lots of extra little bodies running around in the morning.  It has been great for the teams to have the kids around in the mornings, but a little hard to get some "Andrew and Angie" free time.   We've also been struggling a little with some behavioral issues.  We feel a little more like a troubled teen's home, lately, than an orphanage.  The more we learn about these kids, the more baggage we're finding.  Please pray that they would continue to open up to us, so that we can better understand where they're coming from.

Another exciting thing going on this week is our church's annual Women's Conference.  Just to give you a little taste of how things work in Haiti- I was sitting in the back of our church a few Sunday's ago watching Faith roaming around.  I was listening to the announcements when all of a sudden Pastor Lex says in English, "Madanm Andrew (aka Angie), will be speaking at our women's conference coming up at the end of March."  So I thought, he was just kidding, because he was speaking in English (and most of them wouldn't have understood it).  But then, he said the same thing to the congregation in Creole.  Then I knew he wasn't joking- SURPRISE!  SO…..I am going to be speaking this Friday morning to a large group of women about gossip.  Please pray that God would speak through me as we open up the Word to hear from Him about the sin of gossip.   Pray that the Word would transform their hearts and attitudes as we dig into the heart of this topic.   Pastor Lex encouraged me to do it in Creole, but I'm not sure I'm ready to do that yet, so I think I'm going to most of it in English.  Please pray that as I prepare God would continue to reveal Himself to me and that He would give me the words He wants me to say.

-       Praise the Lord for a great visit and the time we get to spend with family and friends down here at our home :-).
-       Praise the Lord for His healing hand.  We've been dealing with a few stomach bugs (yes, it's going around even in Haiti)- but it seemed to be short lived.
-       Thank you, Jesus for a great and healthy pregnancy so far.  Baby is doing great and moving around a lot now!

-       As I mentioned before, please be praying for the Women's Conference this upcoming Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Pray that God would give me His words to share with these women and that their lives (and my life) would be transformed by the power of His Word.
-       Please be praying for our evening devotional times with the kids.  Andrew is continuing to do an awesome job with that.  The kids are really into it and excited to be able to have a chance to answer questions- something they don't get to do a lot in their church services.  Pray that it would not just be a bunch of OT stories- but that they would really see how it connects and applies to their lives. 
-       Our Thursday worship nights are going really well.  For the first few weeks, I led it by myself.  But last week we asked a few of our kids to help out- and they did an awesome job!  It was neat to see the energy it brought by adding a drum set, bass and a microphone!!  The kids really enjoyed it.  It's still a blended service- English/Creole, which is an awesome thing to experience: singing to One Almighty God in two different languages.  It gives you just a glimpse of what it will be like one day when every tribe and tongue is joined together before the throne singing to the One who is worthy!!! 
-       Pray that we would continue to keep our marriage strong and in the Word as we have lots of guests over these next few weeks.  Pray that we would be intentional in setting time aside to spend with each other. 

Thanks again for all your help and support!  We couldn't do it without your prayers- and I mean that!  We're finding out more than ever the importance and power of prayer, especially living here in Haiti with 31 kids.  Thank you!!!! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February Update

Andrew playing a game of bean bag toss (made by our last team)

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a month since I last update you!  Wow, time sure does fly by!!

We had a great visit back to the states to see family, friends and supporters.  Thank the Lord for His hand on us as we traveled those two weeks.  Faith did get to see and play in the snow for the first time (only for a day), so that was pretty fun :-)

We had many opportunities to share with and update supporters as we traveled.  We were able to share our story and ministry with a Sunday school class at a “new-to-us” church outside of Atlanta.  The next two weeks after that were packed with connecting with family and friends in SC, NC, NY and FL.  We were really excited because after sharing about what God is doing in Haiti, two other couples have joined our monthly support team!  Praise the Lord!!! 

We returned last Wednesday night to a riot of 31 kids at our place :-).  They were so excited, as were we that we had come back home.  It was so good to be back after living out of a suitcase for almost 3 weeks.  I didn’t realize how much I had missed the kids until I got back and got my 31 kisses :-).  What a joy!!!

There was a hard working group that was just here from PA.  They left last Friday and were a tremendous help!  There were so many improvements made to our campus since we left.  We also welcomed our first Grand Goave intern, Joy, on Friday!  She is a high school senior that finished early and has a heart for missions and wants to spend the next 2 months with us here!!!  She has been a huge help already- wow!

Andrew just started, this week, doing a devotional with all the kids after dinner.  He has been doing it all in Creole and is doing a great job!  We’re starting in Genesis and working our way through the Bible.  The book that he’s using is awesome because Monday-Thursday you study a passage of Scripture and then on Friday it ties it in to the cross and the New Testament with a passage out of the psalms or prophets.  The kids have been enjoying it and it’s been a blessing to us to be a little more involved in their spiritual journey.  We will also be starting, this Thursday, a worship service here on our site.  I’m really excited about being able to use my keyboard in leading them in worship.    We will do a “blended service” of Creole and English songs :-).

Our kids love their bi-weekly trips to the Hands and Feet store.  I was really impressed with several of our kids this past Saturday that didn’t want to buy anything!  They didn’t even want to buy a small piece of candy because they wanted to save up for the next time.  We also just recently were given some musical instruments for our kids to use.  So now- we can have a full band.  We have a drum set (no cymbals yet), several guitars, a flute, tambourines and a keyboard.  The kids love their supervised time in the new music room, thanks to Joy!

An update on the mountain property.  Over the past month, we have been testing our well a few hours a day to see how much water it really is producing.  It’s giving us between 3-5 gal/min so far (during the driest time of the year.)  So now, we’re expanding our test a little and seeing how long will it sustain at that rate.  Today we have a few of our workers up there running it for 10-12 hours.  We will continue this over the next few weeks to see if it will sustain or if we’ll need to drill for another well.  We have the go ahead to drill another well (or just drill deeper in our existing well) if we need to – so that’s exciting!  Once we figure out this water situation, we’ll be able to get a better timeline for when we’ll start with our permanent structures up there on the mountain.

-       Praise the Lord for safe travels as we visited family and friends back in the States.
-       Praise the Lord for our new financial supporters and prayer warriors!
-       I am so thankful to the Lord for Joy, our new intern who is helping out so much around here!  I now have time to focus on some activities that I’ve wanted to do for a while with the kids.
-       Thankful for all the opportunities we’ve had lately to be able to talk to the kids about Christ and his power over their fear of demons and spirits.

-       - Please continue to pray for our kids spiritually.  We are just now entering a time of the year where voodoo holidays and practices are more prevalent.  Our next-door neighbors have been practicing voodoo by celebrating, sacrificing and playing drums from about midnight until 5am- keeping a lot of us awake several nights.  With that comes a lot of fear among our kids.  Two prayer requests here: 1.  Pray for our kids and that they would realize that if they truly do have Christ in their hearts, there is nothing to worry about.  Pray that these conversations would lead them closer to Christ!  2.  Pray that we would be a witness to our neighbors who are practicing voodoo.  Andrew has been next-door a few times to talk with them.  Pray for good conversations and that they would be drawn to Christ in him.
-       - Pray for our well situation on the mountain property.  As we do these tests over the next few weeks, please pray that we would be able to get some answers about how much this well will produce- so we can move forward with our permanent buildings.
-       - Continue to pray for our family.  Please pray that we would be able to keep our marriage a priority amongst all the demands of living at a Children’s Village.  Pray that our marriage would be strong so these kids can see what it looks like to have a biblical marriage, in a culture where the families are all mixed up.
-       - Pray for our upcoming short-term teams.  We have one coming this Saturday, and then three different teams in March.  Pray that we’d be an encouragement to them and that God would touch their hearts and give them His vision for the world!
-       - Lastly, continue to pray for vision.  Pray that God would give us His vision for and wisdom on how to raise these children. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

January Update

Friends and Family,
                 This is a much needed and long overdue update on our lives for the past month.  It seemed that every year during the beginning of December (when we were in the States), our lives got so busy.  We had parties, Christmas programs, rehearsals, shopping to do and who knows what else.  I thought that the month of December wouldn't be as crazy in a third world country- but I was wrong!  Ours was busy for a little different reason, but still crazy nonetheless.  Anyways- I will give you a quick synopsis of the last month.
We had a group come in December 10-18 to help us with some activities with the kids- making Christmas cookies, building some bunk beds and helping us with our Birthday party for Jesus.  The group acted out the Christmas story while one of the girls read it in Creole, we sang some Christmas carols, happy birthday Jesus and then had a bunch of American food for the kids.  I think they really enjoyed it.
            The Jacmel kids got pretty well adjusted to life in Grand Goave- going to church and school here.  I don't think we ever got adjusted though :-).  It was a really stressful month of having the kids here with no end in site (we just didn't know when they were going to move back.)  The kids were all out of school by December 12 too (which didn't help with our downtime :-).  The biggest issue was that our campus is not big enough to host 100+ people (for a long extended period of time.)  The kids were getting themselves in trouble just because there wasn't a whole lot of space for them to play.  So anyways, after a long stressful month they went back to their home on December 19th.
            I will tell you that the day after they all left, it felt really quiet and empty.  We didn't know what to do with ourselves :-).  It was weird only seeing our 31 kids instead of the 89 kids that were just running around the day before.  But it was a refreshing and much needed quiet time.  I felt like I was able to focus on getting Christmas presents organized, stockings labeled, making ornaments with the kids and just hanging out with our kids on their break.  We had a lot of fun that week before Christmas. 
            Celebrating Christmas in Haiti is definitely a lot different than what we're used to- but fun!  For example, it never really felt like Christmas because it was in the 80s all the time- that was a little weird.  But we did have a fake Christmas tree with lights, stockings and Christmas music.  The Haitians typically don't do a lot of gift giving, since they are so poor.  Most of their celebration is on Christmas Eve with lots of food and music.  Our church hosted a Christmas party on the 24th that we went to with our kids.  Then the following morning Andrew and our kids went to church and came back to find lots of presents and an American breakfast casserole waiting.  The kids had never received so many gifts before!  They were blown away at all the stuff!  It was really neat because we had four different groups that gave the kids presents.  A lot of their sponsors gave them a backpack filled with stuff, the Northside Kids Music and Missions gave them a huge box full of goodies and sneakers, the Lexington Business Exchange gave them each some toys and a Christmas outfit and one of our best friends who monogrammed a towel for each of our kids.  We literally had to take a break in the middle of opening gifts.  It had been 1 ½ hours and we were only half way done!  We also left a few gifts to be opened the day after because the kids were getting worn out :-).  When you think about 31 kids opening gifts up individually for a picture to send their sponsor, it adds up really quick :-).  Anyways- they were really excited and had an amazing Christmas! 
            Yesterday I was blown away at our kids.  They started coming to me one by one asking if I could type this thank you letter to their sponsors and those that gave them their gifts!  Some of them would come to me with a letter and asking me, "what is their name, so I can write this letter to them?"  It was the sweetest thing!!  And the best part- they would all end it with "I love you."
            We decided to make New Years really special for our kids- so we decided to take a road trip to Jacmel to visit their cousins :-).  We loaded up in two pick up trucks (because the battery for the Deuce was dead) and started over the mountain.  It was pretty funny because this is the first big road trip for most of these kids.  It was just like any other family- "are we almost to Jacmel yet?" (30 minutes into the trip).  We also stopped about 45 minutes into the trip for a puke and pee break.  Haha- the mountain road is pretty curvy, so we had to stop about every 30 minutes after that for several of them to get it out of their system. Then once we got there, we went to the beach with the kids.  This was the first time a lot of them had seen such big waves!  Our beach on the inside coast of Haiti in GG is protected, therefore, not as many waves.  They had a blast at this sandy beach in Jacmel.  Then later that night we had popcorn, cake and a movie- which they really enjoyed.  What a great New Years! 
            OK, now, thinking ahead to the next month.  We are planning on coming to the states for 2 ½ weeks: January 20- February 8.   We will fly back to Atlanta late on Jan 20 to spend the following day just resting as a family and getting used to American culture again.  Then we will spend the 22nd visiting and sharing with a new church.  Then we will head to SC Jan 23rd and will be there until the following Sunday, Jan 29th.  We will then make our way north, making a few stops on the way to visit friends.  We will then be in NY from Jan 31-Feb 6.  Then we will fly to Florida for two days to visit my grandparents and head back to Haiti Feb 8.  We would love to see and visit with as many people as we can- so please help us out and let us know what nights you're free so we can start planning out the schedule :-).  Thanks!

-       Praise the Lord for an amazing Christmas and New Years with the kids!  What a great time to be able to spend with these kids and share about why we celebrate this season!
-       Praise the Lord for his sustaining grace in getting us through the month of having the Jacmel kids here!  (There were a few times where I thought I was going to go crazy :-).
-       Praise the Lord for a healthy pregnancy so far- feeling great!
-       Looking back on this past year for our kids- praise the Lord for providing each of them with their own bed, space for clothes and belongings and more importantly a place to call home.
Prayer requests:
-       Please be praying with us about our mountain property.  (I don't know how much I've already shared with you guys.)  HAF owns a piece of property on a mountain here in GG, but they weren't able to find a lot of water when they dug the well last Spring.  We would still love to be able to use our property up there for building our permanent structures.  We've got all the supplies we need to test the well to see how much it actually will produce.  Please be praying for us as we pursue this next phase in starting to potentially build on this property!  Pray that God would provide the water that we need to be able to sustain a HAF village up there, if that's His will.
-       Pray that during this next week of kids being off from school that we would really be able to pour into their lives.  We are starting to plan out some Bible studies and devotions with our kids.  Pray as we plan this that we would be able to communicate it well to the kids and that they would continue to grow closer to Christ.
-       PLEASE continue to pray for the salvation of our kids!  In the next few weeks, we would like to sit down with each kid to be able to talk through the Gospel with them and ask them if they've ever made a decision to follow Christ before.  Please be praying for these conversations and that He would bind the enemy as we become more intentional about investing in their spiritual lives.
Thanks again for all your love and support over this past year!  We are so grateful for your prayerful, financial and emotional support!!! We hope you had an amazing and Christ-filled Christmas and New Years!!!

Much love,
   ~ The Suttons

but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faintIsaiah 40:31
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Crazy Week Update!

Bonswa Friends and Family!
            I want to apologize to you all!  I have been meaning to update you guys on what has been happening here in GG lately, but it has been the craziest week of our entire lives!  To give you the relatively quick version:
            Our other HAF orphanage in Jacmel got broken into last Friday night.  There had been several break-in's in Jacmel over the past month, so they had three guys from the States who were bringing in some security cameras, electric razor wire and some additional motion lights.  These guys came in on Friday and were going to install it on Saturday.  Unfortunately, it was a day too late- because they got robbed on Friday night.  PRAISE the LORD that no body was hurt!  There were seven armed guys who broke into the girls house first looking for money.  The staff lead them around the campus giving them their money.  They took money, laptops, a wedding band and cell phones.  The only kids that were awake at all during the whole incident were the older girls!  Praise the Lord that none of the other kids woke up and as a result now have to deal with the post-traumatic stress.  We are so thankful that no one was hurt! 
So we got a call from the Mulligans (the new staff there in Jacmel) at about 2am saying that they got robbed.  The decision was then made by our directors at around 5am to move all of the kids out of Jacmel and move them to the GG site!!  Number 1, they didn't feel like it was still safe for them to stay there with all of the kids.  Number 2, they also wanted to put pressure on the local police to do something about it- by not supporting the Jacmel economy for the next few weeks.   When I found out that all 55 Jacmel kids (along with some of their staff) would be moving over here- I was a little overwhelmed!!  We don't have a whole lot of room for our 31 kids- let alone 55 more plus staff!!! 
            This next part is my favorite part of the story so far.  Saturday morning we had about 50 local workers show up at our site to help us build a house for these kids, most of whom were from our church!  They all worked Saturday and Sunday for free- we just fed them lunch.  It was also really neat to see Pastor Lex, Len- an American contractor who is starting another orphanage in GG, working alongside HAF to help us give a safe home to these kids.  Another big thanks to Mark & Will who were down here on Sunday to help out with whatever- and believe me: whatever is a big help in a situation like this :-0.  It took about 3 van trips to get the kids over here and about 3 big truck loads of food, supplies, mattresses and chairs.  (We didn't know the Deuce would come in so handy!! :-)  For the next 3 nights, the kids were a little crowded but shared beds, slept in the guest house and slept in tents under the dining area.  We finally finished with the house on Wednesday- so we were able to move some of the kids over and spread them out a little. 
            The next big question: how long are they staying here?!  We're not sure, only God knows that answer :-).  We were thinking about 2 weeks.  They would love to move back as soon as they catch who's responsible for all the robberies, but it will be an even harder decision to make if they don't find them soon.  The Jacmel kids are going to school with our kids, so they aren't getting too behind in their school work. 
I do want to take a minute to brag on my kids for just a minute.  The first night, our girls made the Jacmel girls feel so welcome!  They wanted them to share beds with them, so they wouldn't have to sleep alone (especially being the first night after the break in).  Then our girls gave up their second uniform to the Jacmel girls, so they wouldn't feel as left out at school.  The Jacmel girls were just going to have to wear their blue and white uniforms- but our girls gave them their only other green uniform to make them feel like they fit in a little better!  HOW SWEET IS THAT?!?!?  No one asked them to do it- we just found a bunch of Jacmel girls in our GG uniforms the next morning with huge smiles.  What a sweet moment :-).  
A few days later, I heard the older girls in their room right before bed singing praises to the Lord.  They sang for about 30 minutes, reciting Scripture and praying out loud.  What an amazing testimony and encouragement to me.  It hit me like a brick wall: this past week- when was the last time I spent 30 minutes just singing, praying and reading His Word?!?  I was really convicted, and God chose to use our girls to show that to me- how humbling!  I had been so wrapped up in building this house for them and making sure everyone had everything they needed that I had not spent time sitting at the feet of Jesus.  It reminded me of Mary and Martha- and I was wrapped up in my Martha world again- when all Jesus wanted was for me to have a Mary spirit and sit with Him.
So we've been adjusting to life with 80 something kids around here- including toddlers!  It's been crazy to say the least but fun at the same time (if I'm honest, probably more crazy days than fun at this point.)  But we're learning a lot and I know God's using this to stretch us and form us into who He wants us to be.   I'm not sure what He's preparing us for- but I'm not sure I want to know at this point :-).   So thank you for your prayers for us as we try to gel together as one HAF family. 
After this week- I have a whole new perspective on the verse John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

-       Praise the Lord no one was injured in the robbery!
-       Praise Him for the amazing support we received from our neighbors here in GG- what a beautiful picture of the church coming together!
-    Praise the Lord for allowing the house to come together so quickly- 48'x16' house built in 5 days in Haiti is unheard of!!!
-       Please pray for those directly involved in the robbery.  Pray for the older Jacmel girls who witnessed them breaking into their house.  Pray for the Mulligans and the other staff that experienced those terrifying 45 minutes with the robbers.  Pray for their healing and that they would experience God's peace that passes all understanding!!
-       Pray that God would work out details (manpower, time and supplies) of getting the Jacmel site fixed up so the kids can return.
-       Please pray that they would find out who is responsible for all these robberies.
-       For our family: pray for patience, rest, Godly wisdom, perseverance and flexibility (we were supposed to leave today for our vacation to the DR for the week.)
-       Pray for all of our kids that are feeling the stress of living in such a small area with not a lot of room to play and run around.  Pray that they would get along and that they would be able to play together.
-       Above all, that we would continue to show Christ to these kids despite the craziness of the situation!
Thanks again and much love, 
      ~The Suttons

but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faintIsaiah 40:31
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6