|Monday, May 13, 2013|
Have you heard the latest?!?
Check out our new page at http://www.gofundme.com/2rn73k to hear the latest news on Baby Neptune!
To celebrate the excitement of this little life, we have set a goal to raise support to feed our HOPE House kids for a whole month!
What will Little Neptune's name be? The more you donate, the closer you are to finding out! (And we don't want to be calling him Baby Neptune forever!)
|Sunday, April 14, 2013|
"You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name"
I have found that it is a lot easier to sing this song in a season of "giving" than in a season of "taking away". I remember this song was gaining popularity while I was in high school during a time I was grieving the loss of a friend who had been killed in a car accident. I repeatedly left church services or turned off the radio when it came on. I could not sing it with a sincere heart or even bare to hear the words. I think, if we are being truly honest with ourselves, this is one of the most difficult songs to sing.
Overtime my heart healed and I could belt it out with my arms lifted high. Then the earthquake hit. Again I was choking down these lyrics. I wanted to bless His name, but I was angry. Angry at the pain and injustice, and grieving for loved ones who were lost. "When the darkness closes in, Lord, Still I will say..."
Then about a year and a half later on a Saturday night I watched one of our precious babies die. Sunday morning at church we opened with "Blessed be Your Name". Even though this baby went directly from our arms to the arms of our heavenly Father, I was still mourning the "taking away" of his sweet life.
This week friends of mine unexpectedly lost their 12 year old son. Shock, pain, and grief have filled our town. Hearts are broken for this precious family who is loved by so many. Every few hours I have tried to lift them up in prayer, but most times there are no words, only tears. Yet again this song has been playing like a broken record in my head. This afternoon I am attending this young boy's funeral. Based on my own experience, I can imagine that many of his close family and friends are not ready jump to their feet and belt out these lyrics with all that is within them....but I pray that they will soon reach that point.
It is in times of loss that I am the MOST thankful that JESUS SAVES. Even when I am not able to dance and shout out Hallelujahs about it, it is my most comforting and constant reminder. If you are experiencing a time of loss or suffering right now, remember: The debt has been paid. He has won. Victory is ours. JESUS SAVES.
"Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name"
|Thursday, April 04, 2013|
The month of April has arrived and it welcomes some of our biggest events for HFAP! Frentz and I look forward to these events every year! It is a wonderful way to reconnect with so many of our faithful supporters and provide an update about our ministry in Haiti. We hope to see many of you at one of these events!
For our Midland area folks we also have our Annual Spaghetti Dinner. Frentz and I are excited to share with you all that is happening in Haiti! Something new this year is our silent auction. We have great items for bidding!
Continued by popular demand we will have: Neptune Creations, ground and bean Haitian coffee, Haitian vanilla, hand crafted wooden items, journals and much more for sale.
3rd Annual Haiti Foundation Against Poverty Dinner and Auction
Friday, April 26th, doors open at 6:00 pm for silent auction, dinner served at 7:00 pm
Church of the Servant
3835 Burton SE
Grand Rapids, MI
|Monday, March 18, 2013|
It has been just over two months since my last blog update, but don't worry, I have a GREAT excuse. For those of you who might now know yet, a few days after my last post Frentz and I found out that we are expecting our first baby! (Well, first depending on how you look at it!) A few days after that I became extremely ill. Had I been in the states, I would have been admitted to the hospital, but thankfully our well trained nurse, Marilane, came to the rescue. Since then I have remained ill. If you were to look at a checklist of possible first trimester symptoms, I could go right down and check off just about every single one! For two months I laid in bed and was basically confined to the walls of our house. Occasionally, on a good day I would sit outside with the kids for 15ish minutes. Then it was back to bed for me. Last week, after another round of IV fluid, Frentz and I decided it was time for me to get back to the states. We are almost 13 weeks along now and I am praying my health will turn a corner soon!
Despite my first trimester joys, God's work continued in Haiti. Frentz has been both taking care of me and taking on some of my responsibilities, my mother came down to Haiti to help care for me and fly me home, and my dear friend Amber flew down to Haiti to assist with our teams. Despite me being MIA, HFAP had a busy and blessed start to the year!
We kicked things off with a fabulous dental team. It was our first dental clinic and it was a huge success! These dedicated vessels served somewhere between 400-500 patients during their week in Haiti. They did everything from cleanings and flouride treatments to pulling teeth and a few oral surgeries. We are hoping to run this clinic again next year and bring in more dentists to start filling cavities! They saw all of our HOPE House kids, staff, school kids, and opened up for community. The last day during community hours people from Les Bours were lined up down the street and around the outer walls of the school waiting for their teeth to be pulled. Most patients were a bit nervous as they sat down in the chair, but the look of instant relief on their faces after the tooth was pulled out always created shouts and cries of joy!
We had 8 different teams down already this year with people from Michigan to Alabama to Colorado. A few construction projects were completed at HOPE House including a new rain catching system and shelving in the orphanage storage room. One of our most recent teams painted our logo on the front of HOPE House! It is so welcoming as we pull in the gate! Other groups came down and hosted Bible studies for staff or ladies in our birth control program, or helped out at the school building bulletin boards to display the kids artwork or making 500 peanut butter sandwiches! It was a busy couple of months!
One of the highlights was the completion of our first adoption! Our sweet little Marise-Love is now home with her forever family! Our entire staff surrounded this completed family and covered them in prayer moments before they pulled out of our gate. We are seeing movement in the adoption world and we are praying that all of our remaining children in process will go home this year!
Right now we have a medical team down focusing on women's health. Please lift up this team in prayer this week! They have a busy week planned serving our staff, our school, and over 300 ladies in our birth control program.
Frentz and I are hoping that I will begin to turn a corner as we enter the second trimester. We have some exciting events and fundraisers coming up and we hope to see some of you there! I will post specifically about these events soon! Stay tuned!
|Monday, January 14, 2013|
Migvee, 2 weeks before meeting Jesus
Plenty of remembering has been happening over the past few days. The pain. The shock. The horror. Remembering the pit in my stomach. The frantic phone calls that let me know that some of my loved ones had survived. Remembering the calls that let me know that some of them had not.
It was three years ago yesterday during an interview on The Takaway radio program that Frentz shared with me that precious 18 month old Migvee had been a number among the increasing death toll. Her mother, a dear friend of mine, was bathing her in the courtyard of their apartment when the outer wall came crashing down on top of her. When she reached down to pull her out of the rubble, all she pulled out was an arm from the elbow down. How does a mother recover from that?
Outside on the street Migvee's father was carrying her baby sister, my goddaughter, Michaela. Frentz told me that she was injured and they were not able to find medical care for her. It was within seconds of hanging up after that radio interview that I was purchasing tickets for the next flight to Florida and heading to Meijer to fill suitcases with life saving supplies. For years I had promised my friends in Haiti that I cared. That I loved them. That I would be there for them. Words without actions, no matter how well intended, are dead. There was no greater time of need. I was on my way to Haiti.
Sparing you the dramatic details of the journey back, when I arrived, I found a much different Haiti than I had left merely 2 weeks prior. Rubble. Bodies. Pain. Loss. Destruction. By the time I found baby Michaela, her wounds were green and pussy; filled with infection. Her sweet, little, three month old body was cut open from the top of her head to her nose. Her stomach and feet also had open wounds. If we had come a day later, her family may have lost two daughters.
Three years later, only a small scar remains as a reminder of the sister that she lost, and the miracle that she is.
Each year that passes by little improvements are made. Though they do not happen as quickly as most of us would like. I can report that the good majority of rubble has finally been cleared. And there are far less tent cities, yet hundreds of thousands of God's children are still sleeping under tarps and sticks.
The Haitian people do not lose hope. Each day they press on and move forward, working tirelessly to afford a small meal for their children. I have witnessed them to be some of the most hard working, faith driven, and hopeful people I know.
I give thanks to God for every life that was spared. I am especially thankful for the miraculous way he saved my husband's life that day. No doubt, he was held tightly in God's hand three years ago.
When I look back over the past three years, I am filled to the brim and pouring over with THANKFULNESS. Despite life's greatest tragedies, He makes all things work together for our good. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for the beautiful family that has formed here at HOPE House. We are blessed beyond measure to welcome His little ones into our family until they return home, or move on to live with a new family forever.
We are so thankful for all of our HFAP family who rallied around us and all of Haiti three years ago, when it seemed all was lost. Without you, our ministry would not be the same. You believed in us. You believed in Haiti. And THANK YOU for continuing to believe!
"Bondye di fe pati pa'w la, pou'l ka fe pa'l."
"God says, do your part and He will do His." - Haitian Proverb
|Saturday, January 05, 2013|
Love Kelly, 1 year old
I hope this entry finds you enjoying the new year! Frentz and I arrived back in Haiti last week. We have had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas and New Years with our kids and staff. The children helped us decorate the Christmas tree and we celebrated the birth of our Savior with great excitement! The children were blessed with new toys and new clothing! They have been busy playing with their new things all week. We had a huge Christmas party with all of our staff and their families last Sunday. We had goat, chicken, rice, plantains, potato salad, and four different kinds of desserts! It was a feast! We are so blessed by our staff! It was such a treat to be able to enjoy their company and have a little fun together! We have a few comedians on our staff! The night was filled with food, fun, and laughter!
Since returning to Haiti we have had busy days loving on our kids and catching up on things like paying bills and maintenance projects around the property. My parents flew back to Haiti with us and were able to spend the week. We had a fun week hanging out with all of our HOPE House family.
It's hard to believe that we only have one baby still on formula! The rest are over a year old and walking and talking! Love Kelly celebrated her first birthday on January 1, leaving Jacob as our only baby under a year old. They grow up so quickly! They are keeping the nannies on their toes!
This week it is back to life as normal! Your continued prayers for protection and stability in Haiti are felt and appreciated!
I hope you had the Merriest of Christmases and a Happy New Year!
|Saturday, November 10, 2012|
Has God placed a calling in your life? I'm sure He has. But have you listened? I fear that all too often our response to God's prompting becomes, "Later." or "How about you choose someone else?" or the all too common list of excuses. Let me remind you of a man named Jonah. (Or go remind yourself! Jonah chapters 1, 2, and 3.)
God told Jonah to go and minister to the people of Ninevah who were living as a wicked people. Jonah did not respond in obedience. He took off in the opposite direction attempting to flee from God's request. Do you remember what happened next? While he was running from God's request he boarded a ship.....one whose destination was not Ninevah. God probably got a good chuckle at Jonah's great attempt to flee His omniscient presence. He sent a storm that caused the ship crew to panic. Jonah was thrown overboard and swallowed up by a big fish! God gave Jonah plenty of time to repent as he spent three days in the belly of this large, disgusting creature. After the third day, the fish literally, "vomited Jonah up on dry land". (Now that must have been an experience.) The next sentence of the scripture says, "The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, 'Go to the great city of Ninevah and proclaim the message I give to you.'" Aren't you so thankful He is a God of second chances? .....don't worry, Jonah decided to listen this time.
Those who know me really well know that I have an irrational fear of fish. Seriously. I remember taking a family vacation to Cozumel, Mexico when I was in the 6th grade. Before leaving, my dad purchased snorkeling gear for the whole family. We were all looking forward to this great adventure! When we finally got there and our day of snorkeling had arrived, I put on all of my gear envisioning the sight of turquoise waters and red and purple coral reefs. I got in the water, put my face mask on, and looked down. "FISH!!!!!" The screaming. The splashing. The embarrassment on my parent's faces. I quite literally walked on water making my way to the beach as I nearly hyperventilated and shook with fear. Of course my dad's first question was, "What did you expect to see?" Apparently I hadn't thought that far. But I did manage to scare all of the fish away, ruining the snorkeling adventure for the rest of the trip. (Yes, I'm a good time. You should take me on vacation!) I don't know why I am so afraid of fish other than the fact that they are slimy and their eyeballs creep me out. Or perhaps my Sunday school teachers scared Jonah and the big fish story right into me!
Getting swallowed by a big fish? No thanks! I'll choose obedience! No questions asked. (Okay, perhaps not EVERY time, but when I remember I could be in the belly of a big fish, choosing obedience doesn't seem that hard.)
What about you? Has God asked something of you lately? Has he asked you to go somewhere, do something, or be something to someone? Perhaps a calling to the mission field? Or has He laid an unsaved person's name on your heart? Or has He called you to live more generously? Or has He asked you to rid your life of something that is keeping you from Him? Might I take this moment to caution you? If your response was anything but obedience, you are headed straight for the belly of a big fish. Most likely not literally, but these "big fish" come in all shapes and sizes. Here is something we know for certain:
And thankfully He is a God of second chances. A God who will listen to you as you cry out from whatever fish's belly you are in. He will even forgive your disobedience and set you back on dry land. You can't get away from Him by running from Him. He will redirect your path. He will call you back.
What can we learn from Jonah? Obey the first time. And if you don't, repent and definitely obey the second time!
Are you living in obedience to God's calling in your life?
|Saturday, November 03, 2012|
Clinic weeks are always busy weeks! A medical team arrived Tuesday and they have been holding clinics in Les Bours, Cite Okay, and Cite Jeremie. Their goals for this week are giving physicals to all of our students in Les Bours, seeing all of the HOPE House kids, staff, and families, and treating as many community patients in Jeremie, Okay, and Les Bours as possible. Our medical director has been training a Haitian nurse in each of these three locations who continue on with the work while teams are not here. These clinics provide a living for our nurses and treat thousands of Haitians each year.
So far this week the worst case they have seen was an elderly man who fell during the celebration of the dead. This week Haiti celebrated the day of the dead which is a heavily involved voodoo holiday. The man was most likely under possession when he took this spill. He looked like he jumped out of a 4 story building and landed on his face. He lost teeth, other teeth were in pieces still hanging in his gums, and his lips were so swollen our medical director, Gail McGee, couldn't even get her fingers in his mouth. The side of his face was raw, open flesh. They gave him shots of antibiotics, cleaned everything the best they could, and sent him home with wound care supplies, pain meds, and more antibiotics. The devil sure made a mess of his face, but God's children were there in his neighborhood the next morning to clean it. I pray this incident is enough to keep him far, far away from voodoo for the rest of his life.
Sandy damaged or destroyed nearly every home in Les Bours. The nasty, muddy, sewage filled waters took days to go down. The river to cross over to get to the school widened taking with it homes, people, and market places. The damage is hard to put to words, there is virtually no one coming to help. No insurance. No government assistance. In the mountainside and country areas some towns were completely cut off leaving whole communities stranded. Even now some of the rivers are still too dangerous to cross and children are starving to death. It came unexpected and left Haiti with devastation that will last for years. Crops are ruined. Animals and livestock washed away. Homes and businesses collapsed. It is heartbreaking. As soon as the waters receded we went out to Les Bours to deliver food and aid to 120 families. These next few weeks we will continue working on repairing houses with the funds that were donated specifically for Sandy relief.
We have two Gift of Hope ladies coming over to HOPE House making journals on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Neither of them are Christians so we have a great opportunity to introduce them to their Savior! On Thursday morning I walked down to check on them and Myslene said, "Mallery, neither of these ladies know how to pray." "That is a very big problem!" I replied. The two ladies both giggled with a small hint of embarrassment and asked if we would teach them how to pray. It was a gift from God to listen to Myslene teach them how to say a prayer of thanks to the Lord. I am excited to dig deeper with them on Tuesday morning! Please keep these two ladies, Lesna and RoseLaure, in your prayers. I am excited to see how God moves in their hearts and lives!
Angenelson is ready to go home with his mom next week. She has been saving money from the journal program and is ready to care for him. His double ear infection has completely healed and every sore and boil on his body has closed. They will be joined as a family again early this next week! Thankfully his mom, RoseLaure, has been able to visit him several times a week as she comes to make journals. Pray for a smooth transition for this precious little guy. He will be greatly missed here at HOPE House!
Peace does not come easily in Haiti. Just two days ago one of our nannies was robbed right at the top of our street by a man on a moto. He came up behind her grabbing her purse and tossing her on the ground. She was a big shaken up, but our generous supporters rallied around and she is walking away with more than she ever had before. I love seeing God use His children to turn what was intended as evil for good! This morning and last night there were people killed on Airport Road. This morning the police were at the scene and cautioning people to stay away as they tried to clean up the bodies and secure the area. We greatly appreciate every prayer you pray for peace in Haiti. They are all heard and we must keep praying!
Thank you for your continued prayers and support! It is felt and needed every day!
|Friday, October 26, 2012|
I realize I just posted about Sandy yesterday, but last night the situation turned for the worse. The rain picked up around 3:00am and it has absolutely poured since then. There are no words. The woman in this picture and the video below say it all.
While I am typing this my sister is in the kitchen singing, "My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God cannot do." Let's stand together believing in these words and lifting up the Haitian people in prayer today!
I know we just asked for donations when storm Isaac left damage in our area of Les Bours, and as much as I hate asking again, our friends and family are suffering again. We will be heading out to Les Bours the minute the rain stops. Any monetary donation will be spent providing food and dry clothes and sheets to people in need. Thank you in advance for your prayers, love, and support for the beautiful people of Haiti!
|Thursday, October 25, 2012|
As many of you have heard by now, ithas been raining in Haiti for days on end....and it looks like it will continue at least through the night and tomorrow. Hurricane Sandy came as an unexpected force leaving a great deal of damage in Southern Haiti. Fellow missionaries are reporting damaged houses, flooding roads and rivers, and the deaths of friends. Here in PAP it has been raining relentlessly, but we did not get the heavy winds that struck west of us. At HOPE House our biggest inconveniences have been leaking roofs, wet diapers, and a shortage of dog food. Our kids rode out the storm playing dress up, doing crafts, and watching movies. However outside our walls the effects of Sandy are a much different story.
When it rains, I sit in my house thankful for our roof. Thankful for the progress we have made in the last few years. Thankful for our faithful donors who make this all possible. Thankful for a God who uses His children to provide for His children in need. But my heart also hurts. I hurt for those still sitting in tent cities. I hurt for the mothers who are holding on to their children as the muddy waters rush under their feet. I hurt for our community of Les Bours who experiences flooding with nearly every rainfall due to their proximity to rivers and the ocean. I hurt for the devastation of damaged homes, lost belongings, and disease that each major rain brings. I hurt for the thousands upon thousands of people that will go days without food because they cannot cook in the rain and the markets are not open. When you live by buying for the day and don't have a refrigerator, pantry, or even a kitchen to store food in, days of ceaseless rain means you have nothing to eat.
Continue to pray for Haiti and all of those effected by Sandy. Pray for the sun to shine and dry up this muddy mess. Pray that the rain would cease, diapers would dry, and hungry bellies would be filled!
I am thankful everyday, (okay, most days) that I have the blessing of living here and loving these people! This beautiful nation suffers through many trials, and yet we have faith and hope that we will see God's good in all of it.
|Saturday, October 06, 2012|
Well, it's the end of the week! As promised, I have news to share! First, let me give praise to the Lord for hearing and answering our prayers! Ever since I posted the plea asking you to pray each night for the protection of our compound we have not heard a single gunshot. NOT ONE. We have had restful, peaceful nights EVERY night! No doubt an answer to your many prayers!
Also, an obedient servant of our Most High God has stepped forward to cover Angnelson's financial needs while he recovers to full health! Can I get an AMEN? Angnelson has already made such progress! He adjusted well and became fast friends with Caleb and Benly. He had some quality time with Mom when she came to visit on Thursday. His cuts are already healing! Thank you for all of your prayer for this precious little guy! Our God is so faithful.
I have two big prayer requests/exciting things to share!
#1. My sister, Brooke, is joining me as I work to launch a new fundraising campaign for HFAP! She arrives in Haiti next week and will spend one month here at HOPE House. We have a good friend and photographer flying down to help capture images and footage for our new campaign. When Brooke returns home she will be targeting elementary and middle schools to get involved. I can't release exact details yet, but it is going to be a great way for youth and children to understand and connect with third world problems. We are taking that understanding to the next level and offering students tangible ways to do something about it! Before the year's end we will be release the promo material and come Spring we will be looking for a few schools to test our our materials. By next Fall we will be ready to launch the campaign across Michigan! (And hopefully branching out to other areas where we have faithful supporters as well.) If you have children, youth, or work in a school, STAY TUNED! You won't want to miss out on this!
#2. For about a year now we have been praying about growing our women's business program. We see the great impact it has as it transforms the lives of our women and children. There are so many mothers needing jobs, and so many children suffering because there aren't opportunities. In addition to the journal program, we have three new programs put in place and ready to go....except for the location to host them. We had been looking at purchasing the property across the street from HOPE House, but because it is so expensive, we wanted to check elsewhere around the neighborhood to do a little price comparing. A few weeks back Frentz and I took an evening stroll around the area and came across a beautiful house for sale just a few gate behind our property. Purchasing this house would save us about 50% of the money and 90% of the time we were budgeting for building on the land across the street. However, we don't have anywhere near the financial support we need to make this purchase happen. We have been praying for wisdom and guidance. The owner is not willing to rent. We have continued looking elsewhere but we are not finding anything even close to what we are needing. Would you please add the Gift of Hope business program to your prayers? We have women knocking in our gates, both here and at the school, desperate for jobs and opportunity. We have the supplies, support, and program directors ready and waiting. We need a place to make it all happen! We know God has a plan!
In other news we have a few specific needs I would like to share:
#1. HOPE House is completely out of rubber pants to go around cloth diapers. The elastic has worn out on all of the rubber pants we had.
#2. Our January medical team is in dire need of a DENTIST. We have several dental hygienists signed up for the trip and we have a whole lot of kids with cavities and abscessed teeth. Are you a dentist? Do you know a dentist who has done or might be interested in doing mission work? Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have had a wonderful week of birthday celebrations at HOPE House! Kimberlie and Mika both celebrated birthdays in the last 3 days. What a blessing it was to celebrate life and the miracle these girls both are! ....and Benly loved the cakes!
Enjoy your weekend and rejoice over answered prayer! Keep 'em coming!
|Tuesday, October 02, 2012|
How could you NOT want to sponsor this cutie?
Little 18 month old Angnelson was accepted at HOPE House this morning. He and his mother are from Les Bours. He has suffered with a double ear infection for months despite many doctor visits. He also has more than 30 open wounds on his face, ears, legs, and bottom. Nearly all of these wounds are infected.
Angnelson will be living with us until the infections are gone and his wounds are healed. He is actually a cousin of Jouvenika and Jivenson. His mother is Gerlande's sister.
We need roughly $350 to provide Angnelson with all of the medcations, wound care, nutrition, and other things he needs to heal for the next month. Would you like to make a difference in Angnelson's life? Could you donate a portion of this $350 to see that he recovers to full health?
His mother is starting Gift of Hope on Thursday so she can better care for him when he goes home. She will be able to visit with him to keep their strong bond as she comes to work on her journals.
Would you pray for a quick healing for his little body? Would you pray for his adjustment here at HOPE House and then back with his mother?
If you are able to support Angnelson financially, please send your donation to: HFAP, PO Box 120105, Grand Rapids, MI 48528. Be sure to mark "Angnelson" on your check!
|Monday, October 01, 2012|
All around it was an exciting day! We had our HOPE House kids out the gate at 7:30am. They went skipping down the dirt road to school. All dressed up in true Haitian form and carrying their Cars and princess backpacks they were more than ready to go. Not a single one of them could have been any cuter! It was Keke's first day of school ever, and she came home singing a song in French! She is so smart! She will catch up in no time! Sophonie is a very good little mentor for Caleb, Pierreline, and Keke. She knows ALL the songs and makes sure they sings them just right. She would make an excellent teacher!
After our kids were off, we loaded in the vehicles and hit the road for Les Bours. I was so excited to hug our students that I hadn't seen all summer. For many of our children it had been a long, difficult summer. They were all dressed in uniform with bright smiles on their faces ready for school to begin! ....all except the new 3 year old preschoolers that is. They had quite a traumatic day. I think 15 of the 20 cried the majority of the day. A few fell asleep after they exhausted themselves and had cried all the tears they had in them. Several others kept escaping their classroom and wandering around the courtyard in a full out panic. Poor little babies. They thought for sure they had been abandoned for ever. (See their classroom barricade and courtyard meltdown below.)
We organized books and measured children for uniforms all morning. (Uniform measurements and new benches also pictured below.) It was just a joy to share hugs and kiss their beautiful faces. Our little kindergartener with the rat bites was able to come today. He is already doing much better. Our nurse, Linda, is fixing him right up! Several other students showed up with pink eye. One of my favorite little girls, Jivenson and Jouvenika's big sister, Naphtalie, had such a bad eye infection she couldn't even open her eyes. She spent her entire day laying on a chair in the office. Many children came back to school significantly skinnier than they were on the last day of school. Thankfully the lunch program started today as well! This meal is so crucial for their little bodies.
We still have children that need sponsored! for only $36 a month you can provide education and a meal each school day to a child who otherwise couldn't even begin to afford such a blessing. Email email@example.com for more information.
|Sunday, September 30, 2012|
After much anticipation and a great deal of work and sweat, the day is almost here! Tomorrow is the first day of school and we are READY! (A HUGE thanks to everyone who donated toward Isaac relief. We couldn't have done it without you!) Classrooms painted, benches built and repaired, office organized, books purchased and covered, and registration is finished! Tomorrow we will welcome the students back to school, distribute books, measure for uniforms, and serve them a nice big lunch.
Our HOPE House children also start the school year tomorrow. Caleb, Keke, and Pierreline will all be in 4 year old preschool, Sophonie will be in 1st grade, and Naika will be in 3rd grade. Yesterday we took all of the school aged children, plus Mika (Myslenes daughter) and Natanaiel (Jean's daughter) to the pool for a last blast before class! They pigged out on cheeseburgers and french fries and swam like little fish.
If you are friends with me on facebook you have probably seen my recent posts regarding the increase of violence in our neighborhood. This past month we have had more gunshots in our neighborhood than we have had in the year and a half we've lived here. Twice this week we had people trying to break in during the middle of the night. Our dogs and guards do their duty well. No one has made it into the property. We are not the only target. The intruders seem to move around from house to house to see who has protection. This results in a lot of gunshots from neighbors protecting their property, and a lot of barking dogs! This also results in very little sleep. I have put a plea out asking people to remember to pray for protection over our compound and neighborhood each night as they go to bed. Will you join us in prayer? This property, and all that is in it belongs to the Lord.
There are so many things on my mind and new exciting things happening in our ministry. Later this week I will be able to release some new information and prayer requests! Stay tuned!
|Monday, September 24, 2012|
Anyone who has traveled to Haiti and met TiJean has not forgotten him. He is an amazing young man with a dedication to the Lord that is unforgettable. While his life may have had a rough start, countless missionaries have fallen in love this this young man and invested in his life. It is with great excitement that I am able to announce officially that TiJean is on his way to Midland, Michigan to attend school! (His plane left Haiti 8 minutes ago!)
Frentz and I could not be more excited for this young man whom we consider our brother. TiJean has been there for my husband when times got hard. When food was scarce. He is a young man with such a compassionate heart for his people. He was not able to attend school as a young child because his family could not afford to send him. He lived with his sister and sold homemade candies on the street. I remember purchasing these candies from him when I first met him nearly 10 years ago.
He has great ambitions to become a doctor. He has helped our organization and others with translating and medical clinics. After the earthquake he keep a supply of first aid supplies to help clean his people's wounds. He is truly the kind of young man that would offer you the shirt off his back or the last goude in his pocket.
Frentz and I are excited to support TiJean in his effort to earn a degree and return to Haiti to help his people. Haiti Foundation Against Poverty is NOT funding this effort. Individuals who know TiJean or have heard his story are coming together to make this young man's dreams come true. If you donate to HFAP, your money is still going to our programs here in Haiti. If you would like to help TiJean specifially, you must designate so on your check so we can direct your funds into the right account.
TiJean will need roughly $10,000 for schooling, airfare, immunizations, etc. during this school year. He has been blessed with a 5 year visa, allowing him to finish high school and begin college before needing to reapply with the embassy!
If you have met TiJean during a stay in Haiti and you would like to help support him, please contact us. If we join together to impact this boy, we are setting him up for a future to impact MANY!
|Thursday, September 20, 2012|
This morning our new little baby's birth mother came over with his birth certificate she had been making for the past five days. In my heart I knew his name would be a biblical one, but I could not even begin to guess what his mother would choose. There are some very interesting names here in Haiti!
He shares a name with a devout follower of God.
A faithful man.
A man who had his fair share of battles, but remained on God's side.
A man who became the father of Israel.
A man named Jacob.
Besides meaning "holder of the heel" and "supplanter", Jacob also means, "may God protect."
I could not think of a more perfect name.
What a beautiful promise.
May God protect you little Jacob. May He keep you safely wrapped in the shelter of His wings.
|Wednesday, September 19, 2012|
"...For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may bodly say: 'The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'"
Yesterday morning I had the privileged of doing what I consider to be one of my most important jobs in Haiti, praying and singing scripture over our newest, nameless baby. My heart swelled with awe for our God, and love for this precious life. God knows his name. He knit him together in his mother's womb. He has been fearfully and wonderfully made.
In a world of uncertainty we have the blessing of being certain about the things of our God.
Certain that He will never leave us or forsake us.
Certain of His unconditional love and never ending grace.
Certain that He hears our prayers and answers according to His will.
Certain that He is faithful to provide.
Certain He is good.
While the future of this little life in my arms is uncertain, I rest in the fact that He belongs to my Father. He knows. He has a marvelous plan. He will never leave him. He will never forsake him.
What a blessing it is to serve our Mighty God!
|Monday, September 17, 2012|
As much as I appreciate the wonderful compliments we are receiving from Haitians and visitors alike regarding the level of child care we are providing here are HOPE House, it also makes me very sad. People who come to visit HOPE House for the first time often say things like, "Wow! This is amazing! I have never seen childcare like this in Haiti." "Your children are all so clean!" "I can't believe your nannies are actually playing with the children." "Your children all have hair!....and it's braided!" I am so thankful for our amazing staff and donors that make all of this possible.....and yet something inside me starts to twist and turn until I am in physical pain.
Here is why:
What planet do people possibly come from where they think they can move to another country (or stay in their own country) and treat other people's children in a way that they would never even consider treating their own? I have witnessed first hand over and over again the disgusting sin of using and abusing children. Just because they are not your child does not give you the right to feed them last, dress them in rags, or deprive them of education. Why is our vision of "orphanage" a bunch of dirty children all alone in cribs or playing in the dirt without clothes or shoes? I have visited animal rescue missions in the states far cleaner than some orphanages here in Haiti. These "warehouse" orphanages need to stop.
When has it become exceptional for children to wear clothing instead of smocks? Eat real food instead of slop twice a day? Have toys and learning activities planned instead of sitting in the dirt? Where I come from, these are all BASIC things. Things all children deserve.
Children deserve to go to school.
Children deserve to wear clothes and shoes.
Children deserve to play and be clean.
Children deserve to eat food. (Even the occasional chocolate cake! ...See Guerlens below)
Children deserve to love and be loved.
What we are doing should not be exceptional! This should be the standard. (Not to say all other orphanages are not doing this, but there is a very sad majority that aren't.)
Nine times out of ten the problem is not that the insufficient orphanages have insufficient funding. It is far more common that their funding is misdirected. And if they do not have sufficient funds to properly care for their children, then they have taken in too many.
Until they go home or find new permanent families, our children are part of this amazing HOPE House family.
Our children love to go to school and have a personal tutor to help them with their studies.
Our children love to dress up and get new shoes.
Our children laugh and play with each other and their caregivers, and they shower twice as often as I do! (And I do shower everyday!)
Our children eat the same food we do. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks)
Our children are loved every hour of the day.
If you are not prepared to love children as your own, then you are not prepared to care for children.
Okay.....I need to get off my soapbox, eat some dinner, and hug some babies.
EVERY CHILD DESERVES TO BE LOVED.
|Thursday, September 13, 2012|
We have certainly had a busy day here in Haiti! I woke up this morning at 7:00 am and couldn't get breakfast down without a knock at the door. A mother had brought an ill infant here seeking help. After all of the necessary steps happened, we were able to take in this new little one and help mom make a birth certificate for him. For now, his name is just "baby". He is about two months old and only weighs 8 lbs 8 oz. His legs and arms are extremely long. His skin dangles from his bones. He is quite malnourished, even at his young age. The nannies and children were so excited to love on a new little one. Marie whisked him away to bathe him. Naika helped me pick out his wardrobe. Caleb announced to every staff member as they came in the gate that he has a new sister...which led to a conversation about boys and girls. "Baby" is pretty enough to be a girl! He is beautiful. The nannies were all fighting over who got to be in charge of the "baby". (We hope to have a name soon! Mom said she would think of one before getting the birth certificate printed.)
We made it out to Les Bours today! The school definitely suffered from the heavy rains and winds but I was encouraged that there is nothing beyond repair. We have 4 classrooms that need repainted, benches and chairs and need remade, and some school supplies that were ruined. The paint on the clinic and where the rain same in through the windows really took a beating. Some of the benches are repairable, but others we will need to remake entirely. We are estimating about $3,000 needed to restore the school before October 1st. The rest of storm Isaac funding is repairing housing. We were able to meet with several parents today. Lord willing, two weeks from tomorrow everything will be complete!
We had a meeting with our director and principal and were able to hash out a lot of details regarding classes, teachers, contracts, registration, etc. It was an extremely productive day!
Please keep the people of Les Bours in your prayers. The violence in and around Cite Soleil has been terrible lately. There have been several killings of light skinned people this week. Our precious children live in an extremely poor and dangerous area. We are praying they all return to school on October 1st safely!
On the way home we stopped at the airport to pick up an urgent letter flew in with MFI. We are sending TiJean to the embassy tomorrow morning to request a visa to study in the states. He has been accepted at Midland Christian School. We have all of the necessary paperwork complete. Now it is up to God and the embassy. His appointment is at 7:00am tomorrow morning! Please join us in prayer for our brother TiJean! He is a wonderful young man and most deserving of this opportunity!
Pictures and more updates to come!
|Saturday, September 08, 2012|
We have been back in Haiti for a week, most of which was spent having quality time with our kids. We miss them so much when we are gone. We had memorable one on one dates with them all week long, evening movies, manicures and pedicures for the older girls, and plenty of special treats! It is so much fun listening to their imaginations run during playtime. They daily play Rapunzel, Strawberry Shortcake, and Mallery and Mr. Frentz. There are times the nannies and I are in tears from laughing so hard over when they come up with! It is so beautiful to see their love for one another. We are all truly family.
Ever wonder what happens at HOPE House on a Saturday morning? The babies play with their favorite nannies, the children braid Barbie's hair, Ging plays with his bus, Benly rides his "machin", Kimmi plays ball with Marie, and Jouva sings songs to Jesus.
I am looking forward to the arrival of our new guest house manager, Lonnie on Monday afternoon. He has committed to spending the Fall with us leading teams and running the guest house operations. From there, we will see what the Lord does! As we grow, we have a greater need for long term help here in Haiti.
This past week our time was spent heavily in the adoption world. Please pray for families who are currently in process to adopt from Haiti. Policies are changing and deadlines to continue adopting under the old policies are coming this week. With this comes much stress as paperwork is never easy in Haiti. We trust the Lord has these children and families in His care.
This week the large majority of our time will be spent in Les Bours and preparing for the next school year. We will be able to asses the damage of Isaac, bleach everything we can save, purchase new books, and prepare our class lists. Thank you for all who responded and donated for Isaac relief. We have repairing, cleaning, and restocking of books and supplies to do from the storm damage. Everything must be accomplished by the opening of school on October 1st. Many of our student's homes have been damaged or destroyed. We will help everyone we can with the funding provided.
Praying you all enjoy your weekend and remember the great gift of grace you have received through Christ!
|Monday, August 27, 2012|
It just doesn't seem fair that the same people have to keep suffering so much. Our community of Les Bours is one of the poorest in Haiti. Women are selling and abandoning their children because they cannot feed them. Many of our students are already child slaves that have been sold by their birth families. People resort to eating dirt cookies, which are sold all over the area, because they are cheaper than rice. What little housing they have is largely made up of makeshift tents, pieces of metal, or straw and cow dung. Even those fortunate enough to have cement block walls, still have dirt floors inside. They can't afford to send their children to school, let alone feed them each day. Violence and rape runs rampant through the area. And the latest tragedy is the destruction caused by Storm Isaac.
Frentz has been on the phone with several parents in Les Bours following the storm and just this morning we watched video footage of our area. (See video below) It is absolutely heart breaking. The muddy waters are flowing over the busy paved road we travel to get to the school. Anyone who has traveled to the school knows that this road was built higher than the surrounding land. We take a big plunge off the road and onto the dirt path and leads to the school each time we visit. The land off the opposite side of the road is even lower. If water is covering the road, which it is, it is safe to say that the homes of many of our children living on the opposite side of the road are completely underwater. This includes several of our women from the Gift of Hope Program. (Gerlande and Jiniole)
We have heard reports from our parents in the area that our school has flooded. Most likely our benches and tables will need replaced after sitting in sewage filled waters for days. Our kitchen that we worked so hard to complete this year has flooded, ruining the cupboards and the school supplies and books in the storage room. Until Frentz and I return to Haiti this coming weekend we will not be able to assess the damage or the costs or repairs but it is safe to say that it could run $8,000-10,000. School is scheduled to open October 1st. This only gives us one month to make all of the necessary preparations for our students to begin class.
Beyond our school, we are worried for our students and their families. It is likely that we will lose many students. They will move to other areas since they no longer have housing in Les Bours. Many families will need repair work done. Others will be starting all over again.
Currently everything is a muddy mess. They have nothing dry and nothing clean. Children are sleeping in the mud. Within the coming weeks and months we will be fighting off diseases and illnesses that come along with standing water, sewage, and bugs.
Your prayers for the people of Les Bours and in other parts of Haiti are desperately needed. If you would like to help us repair our school and assist our student's families please send your donations to: HFAP, PO Box 120105, Grand Rapids, MI 49528. Please designate that it is for Isaac Relief. For those who sponsor children in Les Bours, if you would like to send special assistance to your child's family you may add it to your next payment.
Thank you for always being faithful! Help us be a light of hope in our Les Bours community once again!
|Saturday, August 18, 2012|
Just in case anyone is missing updates on the kids as much as I am missing them, I posted a few short clips of a couple of a couple of our girls singing in English. In the evenings at HOPE House the children pull out their special mats for story and singing time. You can check out these new videos on our YouTube channel at:
There is a birthday cake in the oven down at HOPE House! It is Ricardo's first birthday today! What a year it has been for him. Both his mother and father died before his first birthday. He was left in a tent with nine children and his grandmother. For months he survived on fried flour patties that were pushed in the sides of his cheeks. In April when we brought him home to HOPE House he only weighed 7 lbs. We are pleased to say he is over 20lbs now! He is crawling, waving, and has gained great strength and head control. He has brought us so much joy and laughter. (If you are in need of a good smile today, watch Ricardo's YouTube video in the jumparoo located on our YouTube channel.) Happy 1st Birthday Ricardo! We wish you many, many more!
Frentz and I have been enjoying our stay in Michigan. We have been doing quite a bit of traveling, preparing and sending out our latest newsletter, and catching up with friends and supporters. We left Haiti with a piece of lined notebook paper listing backpack and lunchbox requests for all of the school aged children written in Naika's perfect penmanship. Most of the requests revolved around princesses and Cars. (Go figure!) We finished the last items on our list today...guess it's time to head back to Haiti! Less than two weeks and we will be there!
This coming Thursday Cornerstone University is hosting the Haitian Women's National soccer team! HFAP has been chosen to receive a donation from Cornerstone and all of the proceeds from the game. We are excited to cheer on the ladies and celebrate all of the great support we received from the Grand Rapids community after the earthquake. We would love to see you there! I will be giving a short presentation. There is no charge for tickets, just a donation at the door that will be given to HFAP. Come and bring your friends and family! The game will begin at 7:00pm at Cornerstone University. Hope to see many of you there!
Hope you are all enjoying your last bit of summer!
|Saturday, July 21, 2012|
It's hot in Haiti! Summer is well underway. Our kids are currently enjoying a water fight in the yard. I think I'll make this short and sweet so I can join them!
The past few weeks have been filled with highs and lows. The typical Haiti roller coaster. Thankfully we are held and protected in the palm of His hand through it all.
Exciting things have been happening at our school in Les Bours. The teachers had their yearly training seminar, the children took their end of the year exams, and earlier this week we had kindergarten graduation. (Graduating from kindergarten is a very big deal in Haiti! Check out our YouTube page to view a few videos of the ceremony.) The children recited scripture, prayed, danced, and sang. It was precious! A proud day for them, their parents, and our organization.
Our clinic and birth control program are growing faster than we can keep up with! We have hundreds of women wanting to start our depo-provera program. Would you consider helping us provide women with birth control so they can focus on feeding the children they already have? For just $30 a month you can support 15 women to receive birth control. That's only $1 per day! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or to set up an automatic payment.
Several of our favorite journal graduates came up last week to make more journals. They did such a beautiful job! They were thankful for the opportunity to make a little extra cash to feed their children. We are thankful for your journal orders!
All is well here at HOPE House. The kids are all healthy and loving summer! Our new nannies are still doing an exceptional job. I wake up every morning excited to go down and love on our babies and children. They all have such precious and unique personalities. They all add something special. to this beautiful HOPE House family.
Be sure to check out our YouTube page to view the new videos I have posted. (Keke and Caleb playing Rapunzel, several of kindergarten graduation, and a new short promotional film for HFAP.) THANK YOU Pat Ryan for blessing us with your amazing talent and putting together these short films for us! Words cannot express our gratitude! We have been praying for this for years!
ENJOY!! (You can click below to view one of the new promotional films. The rest of the videos are located on our haitifoundation YouTube page.)
|Sunday, July 01, 2012|
Happy July! I'm not sure what happened to April, May, or June, but July has arrived!
A wonderful group from Alabama just left us yesterday. They were here for prayer ministry and also served with us at the school and here at HOPE House. I was so blessed by their work in our garden! They braved the spiders and lizards, and turned our scary jungle into something beautiful! Each person on the team blessed us in a unique way. God is good!
This past weekend we received both sad and joyful news that Marie Claude had passed away. She had battled with breast cancer and an infection from her mastectomy for almost two years. Despite her pain, infection, cancer, and partial paralysis, she continued to give glory to God from the floor of her home. We were so blessed to know her and hear her testimony. We dreamed and prayed for her to received a total healing, and that's exactly what she received on Thursday evening as she jumped into the arms of her Savior. How thankful I am for our beautiful Savior who came to shed his perfect, precious blood, so that we could have hope of eternity with him. What a Mighty God we serve!
This past week we enrolled 20 new 3 year olds for fall preschool class in Les Bours.....and we enrolled some definite cuties! All of these precious children need a sponsor so they can begin school in September! The sponsorship money paid during the summer months is extremely important to help cover the costs of their uniform and books. For only $30 per month you can give a child the gift of education! (And for only $6 more you can provide them a nutritious meal through our lunch program every day of the week!) That is money well spent!
I have added a new video to our YouTube channel! Now that we have an internet that actually works (80% of the time instead of 30%) I hope to continue to upload new videos of all the different aspects of our ministry. In this short video clip you can see our growing Ricardo! Those of you who follow us regularly may remember his story. Both of his parents died last year soon after his birth. He was brought to us by his grandmother when he was 9 months old. She was only able to feed him fried flour patties which she stuck in the cheeks of his mouth. He was not receiving the nutrition he needed to survive. At 9 months he only weighed 7lbs and was unable to hold his own head up. Take a look at what a couple of months at HOPE House does for a starving child!
|Thursday, June 21, 2012|
My lack of blogging this week has not been due to lack of things to blog about! ......on the contrary, I don't know where to start!
We had a team of youth from CCC in Midland, MI serving with us this last week. What an amazing group of students! Ready to serve the Lord in any capacity! I was so thankful for their sweat, dedication, and compassionate hearts. They were able to accomplish SO much for us, both here and HOPE House and at our other ministry sites. They cleaned all of our windows, bleached down the containers, made hundreds of servings of baby food, built walls for the orphanage showers, set up gazebos for shade, planted palm trees, and constructed a shaded area for the laundry ladies to wash under. And all of that was just for HOPE House! They also put together a VBS for our Les Bours students, and teamed up with our medical director, Gail Mcgee, to host a clinic that served over 2,000 people!
Clinic weeks are always full of highs and lows. People suffer with serious infections and illnesses that can go untreated for long amounts of time. Skin fungi taking over their scalps, children suffering from severe malnutrition, babies collapsed in their mother's arms from dehydration. (Not to mention worms and vaginal infections) After a little TLC from our loving nurses, medications to help their conditions, and the healing touch of our Father, their health and lively hood are greatly improved. We love and are thankful for our medical care providers!
Our HOPE House kids all had their physicals last week. They are a strong, happy, and healthy group of kids. We are looking forward to adding to our numbers as soon as we have commitments from financial sponsors! (For more information on our financial needs email: email@example.com) Our kids just LOVE their new home. I took a few pictures of them eating lunch today, and one of the boys bedroom with the curtains hung. Kim and I are finishing the decorations in the nursery this week! So thankful for her art and painting skills! (Mine are lacking, to say the least!)
Our God is good, all the time. We have been so thankful for this season of blessing, but it has not come without stress, pain, and trials. We have so much to be thankful for, like the food we eat each day, running water, electricity, beds to sleep on, and the comfort of our little oasis amidst the chaos. God is working in mighty ways! Please pray that we will keep our eyes and hearts focused on this, and not on all of the distractions, frustrations, and worry that His enemy throws our way. We have been feeling our fair share these past few weeks. But above all, God is good. All the time. And all the time. God is good.
As Kim just painted above the door or our home,
"In life and in death we belong to the Lord."