PS 34:3

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

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

News from Haiti

Dear Supporters,

We've got some exciting news to share with you guys!  This upcoming June 14th, we will have another Sutton missionary join our Grand Goave family- yes, we are expecting Baby #2.  Faith will no longer be the "baby" around here.  It's funny because our kids have been asking us, "When are you going to make another baby for us?  We want you to make us a boy!!"  Hahahaha- so cute!  We have a great French OB/GYN doctor in Port Au Prince and he already did an ultrasound a few weeks ago.  Thanks in advance for praying for us and our new baby!!!

Much love,
  ~The Suttons