Every good and perfect gift is from God!

Has it really been since December when I posted in my blog? Really? Oh my! I post on social media all the time, but I sometimes forget to chronicle it all here too! There is just something about being in the US that just consumes all of your time! You have all of these things on your mind that need to be done, and before you know it, the day has passed, night has come, you’re exhausted, and you’ve only checked off two things on your list! Posting on my blog has been on my list for months now, but each day I find myself having to take care of other more pressing Haiti matters and push the blog over to the next day…and the next. So tonight, I sat down with my laptop next to Tony while he works on charts and I’m determined to “Post” before I turn in for the night.

West family birthday gathering in May

I know so many of you continue to pray for us and pray for Haiti and pray for our mission in Haiti, so I know that you are very interested in knowing what all is going on. We do thank God for all who join us in prayer and support of Haiti, particularly our dear village of Galette Chambon. So here’s what’s been going on….

First of all, our clinic continues to see many patients ever day in our village and we have a new doctor who has joined us!! I’m sure if you have been keeping up, you remember Jores! We went to his graduation from medical school last December, and he finished his last rotation in social service in May, so now he is helping in our clinic in Galette Chambon! What an amazing plan God had to take a bright young man from Galette Chambon, put him through medical school, and then place him in the very clinic he started in as a translator!! Oh, God is Good and His plan is always PERFECT. We can’t always see what the big picture is, but if we are obedient in the little steps, He will reveal his plan in the long run, and it is always perfect. We welcome Jores, and we look forward to many good reports of his work in our clinic in Galette Chambon!

The next big thing is that our schools are finishing up another great year in spite of interruptions due to COVID and having to adapt to the pandemic. For the first time, we will be graduating 25 seniors from our BGM Secondary School. Of those 25 seniors, 8 were from our original 7th grade class that started the building progression of BGM Secondary. Each year, as we added one grade at a time, and this group has moved up through the years and they are now graduating!! This is so exciting! We are also hosting kindergarten graduations for the first time this year as well! In conjunction with our high school graduates, we will celebrate all of our preschoolers entering formal education for the first time to begin their journey in education. These kindergarteners represent a generation of children who were born after But God Ministries had already begun work in their village. Seeing their siblings and friends go to school has been a normal thing. But their parents and older siblings remember the days when a formal education was not financially obtainable for them. BUT GOD… has made a way, and these children are getting to go to school in spite of their family financial situation because of sponsorships.

Our sponsorship programs continue to grow strong and we now have over 1000 students sponsored in all of our schools, both in Galette Chambon and Thoman. These sponsorships not only help all of these children get an education, but they create jobs and supply food for the children, uniforms, books, and medical care! All of these things are growing the community of Galette Chambon into a sustainable community just as God called us there to do!

Now, as we prepare to graduate our first group of seniors, we are faced with the decision of what to do about their sponsorships after they graduate. We are in the middle of talks and brainstorming now as we make plans for continuing education programs at both the local university in Ganthier as well as the new Professional School that we will be opening at our new school building near Hope Center!! Our superintendent, Arcel Moliere, has been meeting with university officials to discuss how some of our graduates can go to the university AND he has been interviewing personnel to open our new Professional School in July. Our first six-month session will train students in their choice of Plumbing, Tile, Construction/Electricity, Cosmetology, or English. The future is soooo bright in the area of education in Galette Chambon!!

This is the logo for the new BGM Professional School

Another piece of big news is the launching of our BGM Kids for Kids Goat Sharing Program. This is a new business that we have been working on and building for the last two years! Just months before we left Haiti in August of 2019, a team had helped us convert our chicken yard into a goat pen equipped with two female goats and one male. We realized that if we can help a young entrepreneur get it started and maintain it, before long, he will have a growing and thriving business raising and selling goats. The Goat Program link is now live on our But God Ministries website. When someone purchases a goat from our website, our goat farmer, Redondo and his brothers (pictured below), gifts a female goat to a needy family in the village. He discusses the contract with them, and they agree to give back the first born goat to the program. He will make frequent visits to check on the goat and make sure it is healthy while educating the family on how to take good care of their goat. Once a baby goat is born and weaned, they give that baby to Redondo, and he can give that goat to someone else. If the baby goat is a male, he can take it to market and sell it. If he needs to buy another female to gift, he will have the money to do so. As more and more families are given goats, they are given an opportunity to begin raising goats for income as well. Redondo might even eventually buy his female goats from the families who have started raising goats. This creates income as well as a good source of meat protein for families to eat. Please pray for the success of this program and that many families will benefit from it.

More good news!! Our staff at Hope Center is doing an absolutely amazing job carrying on ministry as much as they can during this difficult time when teams cannot go to help serve. Recently one of our staff members expressed to me that people in the village really want us to make a way for them to be able to experience many of the ministries they participated in when we did have teams. What an amazing idea! Our first thoughts were Motherhood Seminars, Vet Clinics, and VBS. These three ministries touch women, men, and children the most. We are now in the process of putting together plans and cost breakdowns for us to present to people who love our village as we do and want to see ministry continue through the HAITIANS. So very soon, BGM will be offering opportunities for groups to sponsor a motherhood seminar led by our clinic staff or a VBS led by our church leadership, or a Mobile Vet Clinic using our two trained Haitian Vet Agents! THIS is sustainability folks!! Through these two events, we will also be supporting local businesses by purchasing snacks, drinks, and baby supplies from local vendors whose businesses has suffered since teams stopped coming. It will also show that it isn’t the AMERICANS who bring those blessings to their village BUT GOD. God is the giver of all good things, and HE wants to continue to bless this village through programs like this. I am SOOOO excited about this!!

Other good news….because sooooo many of you have stuck with us and continued to think of ways you can continue to support the ministries of BGM in Haiti, we have already built over 20 houses for families in need in the community, our Haitian staff has returned to their regular salaries after having to suffer a significant cut when all of the unrest started, and we have been able to bless people in the village with several food distributions. We continue to run our outpatient malnutrition program, and the sewing business is not only still booming, but they are becoming more and more sustainable. We are getting ready to make some structural improvements at our BGM Primary school very soon, and the other business in the business center (Silien’s Business Services) is about to launch a school supplies business that will offer an option to buy school supplies for students throughout the year. Not only will Americans have an opportunity to purchase from our website (link coming soon!), but Haitians will be able to buy these much needed supplies from him without having to go into the city. It is so exciting to see God moving in so many ways even when the Americans can’t be there. Again, what that shows both Haitians and Americans alike is that ALL GOOD THINGS COME FROM GOD.

James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” The Haitian people have seen many, many “shadows due to change” come over their country in the last few years. It has been growing darker and darker due to corruption, violence, hunger, depression, etc. BUT GOD doesn’t change. His love is never ending. His blessings continue to flow upon our village, and we want the people there to focus on the GOOD things that are still happening. We want them to continue to see more and more blessings flow IN SPITE of the bad going on all around them. That is done through ALL of us continuing to pray, and give, and being led on how we can continue to bless them even in our absence.

One HUGE blessing we had the privilege of experiencing recently was a visit from our very dear brothers Vladimir and Pastor Mathurin!! They flew to the US a few weeks ago to be interviewed for our upcoming BGM Documentary. The documentary is being prepared for our 10 year anniversary celebration coming up in September. I picked them up at the airport and we spent a whole week laughing, eating, visiting friends, and just soaking up every precious moment we could together. Two days before we were to leave, we took Vladimir to New Orleans to just take in the city before they had to leave. He had flown in to NO before but had never gotten to see the city. It’s something he’s always wanted to do, so we made a plan! While in the Jackson area, we met up with Emily, Nash, Mary Mac and Abby for dinner, and then while in New Orleans, we met up with Meredith, Rachel, Pastor Mathurin, and Wesly! We had a wonderful time. We sure did hate to have to put them back on that plane! We do look forward to seeing them again in September though!

Now, on a personal note, you might be wondering where we are in Tony’s journey beating prostate cancer. In my last post, I shared about how he was doing with his radiation treatments. As I mentioned then, he finished his treatments on his birthday in November and has continued to be on a hormone therapy that essentially starves any remaining prostate specific cancer cells. After his first round of hormone treatments, his PSA was not zero as it needed to be. So he continued the treatments for another round and it went down to zero. He received a third round of hormone therapy and recently, he went in to have his PSA checked again. His PSA had moved up to .3 which means there are still come prostate specific cancer cells somewhere in his body. He will now continue on the hormone therapy and will check again after three months to see if it goes back down. If it goes up, we will reevaluate our options and possible have another round of radiation. We will cross that bridge if we come to it. Right now, the big prayer request is that the PSA go back down to zero and STAY THERE. Now, for some unexpected news….Tony is having surgery on his shoulder this Wednesday, June 9th. He has been trying to work out frequently to offset the weight gain that naturally comes with hormone therapy, and he has loved being able to get back in good shape. A few months back, he started playing racquetball with some other guys at the gym and was really enjoying getting back to doing something he always loved to do. Well, a couple of months ago, he took a hard slam against the wall and injured his shoulder. I took him to the ER and they determined that he had indeed done some damage, but they wanted to give it some time to see if it would heal on its own. It has not. Last week he had an MRI done and it showed very extensive damage that is going to require major surgery and reconstruction on his shoulder. Please lift him up in prayer as he goes to surgery and then recovery. Hopefully he will be back in action quickly, but Mickie isn’t so sure if that includes the racquetball court. We will have to wait and see….

I am still working on all areas Haiti from home and it is definitely a full-time job. Every morning, after I finish my devotional time, I open my WhatsApp on my phone and begin answering questions, making plans, checking on ongoing projects and current patients in advocacy. I am so thankful that we have this line of communication and I am able to transfer documents back and forth to our staff and use Google Drive to work together with all of our staff in real time. Joel and I are currently working on getting new school pictures made and as he loads them, I will be editing them. We are also working on getting updates and we will start loading those soon too. Moliere and I just last week put together the brochure for the professional school and Didier and Vladimir helped me edit my Creole so that it is just perfect! I sent it by email to Moliere, and he is having it printed and registration will begin June 19th! I also help Didier coordinate getting medicines to stock the pharmacy, and I help him find specialists to send our patients with special needs to in other parts of the country. Speaking of patients, LyniaNara seems to be doing very well right now. We had to find her a place to live in the city so that she could get to dialysis three time per week. It isn’t the most ideal situation, but she is being cared for and making the best of it and is safe. I want to THANK each and every one of you who continue to give towards her medical care. Without your support, she would not be able to get the dialysis treatments she needs to survive. She is such a sweet and vibrant young lady, and God called us to come along side her and her family (her father is the pastor of our church at Hope Center) and provide the care she needs. It is not easy and not cheap, but God will bless our faith and obedience in this.

It was soooo good to get this picture recently. Oh how I miss this sweet smile!

I am sure I have left something out here. There is just soooo much to share when you let six months slip by without an update!! But then, as you can see, A LOT has been happening over those six months and there is A LOT to Praise the Lord about! Please continue to pray for Haiti. I have purposefully left out the bad things because I want to focus on the good things God is doing. But I do want to mention that Haiti needs our FERVENT prayers right now. The civil unrest and danger just continues to grow and grow and grow. Young people are beginning to lose hope and seek refuge in other countries. It is just becoming more and more difficult to simply survive, and those people who have no choice but to remain are hurting. This is not the time to turn our backs on them. Now is the time to beef up our prayers and beef up our support to show the enemy that he CANNOT stop the blessings from flowing through the evil plans of those who seek to destroy and control the country. God is ABLE to move and He often uses his people to do the moving together. Please ask yourself now how God can use you to help. First of all, we can ALL pray. So commit to daily prayer for God to bring an end to the suffering. Then if God calls you to do more, you can go to the BGM website and check out the other many ways you can become involved. You can become a part of our Circle of Hope, or you can sponsor a child, or you can gift a goat, or you can buy school supplies (link coming soon), or you can simply give to the general budget. I can assure you that every dime you send is used for the purpose for which you send it. It is ALL used to bless the Haitian people and further the plan of God for building a sustainable community in Galette Chambon. Your support makes a HUGE difference!!

You are soooo appreciated and we are overwhelmed with gratitude when we think of the many, many friends who have come alongside us on this journey… and we think of you often. It hasn’t looked like we would have ever imagined – especially the last few years – BUT GOD continues to use us all and continues to move His plan along by using many, many faithful people to get it done! Thank you for the part you continue to play in this journey!!

BLESSINGS!!

Mickie & Tony

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Update on West Family and Haiti

Hello Friends! It’s been about six months since I last wrote an update, so I figure I really need to sit down and do a little writing!! Thank you to all who have reached out over the past few months as well as those who have been praying for us and continue to support us in our ministry in Haiti. We feel so very blessed!!

First off, from “sick bay”……Tony is doing great. He finished his radiation treatments on his birthday, November 19th. He now will have his PSA checked frequently to make sure those numbers remain zero meaning no prostate specific cancer cells left in his body. He still has one last hormone shot treatment that lasts three months as well. We are trusting that over the coming months, he will continue show a ZERO PSA, and in due time we will hear the words “fully healed!” We just have to be patient with the Lord’s timing. Speaking of patience, I am continuing to recover from surgery on my shoulder (rotator cuff) that I had in September. I have been going to PT twice a week and am regaining strength and range of motion. Our younger son, Jacob, had to have elbow surgery a few weeks ago too. He is recovering well and has started PT as well. Hopefully we are through with doctors now for a while!

Tony receiving radiation treatments

Tony has been working with Southern Medical Consultants as one of their Nurse Practitioners serving at a local nursing home as well as two assisted living facilities. It has been a blessing to be able to practice American medicine as well as have extra income to cover all of these hospital bills. God always provides! Although working in medicine among the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge challenge for him, he continues to provide with great love and compassion, praying with his patients, and encouraging them any way he can. It’s such a blessing to watch him use his career in medicine as a ministry.

Tony and his co-workers at Southern Medical Consultants

Since we left Haiti over a year ago, I have been taking advantage of the opportunity to use my gifts of creativity in my watercolor art! I have always enjoyed painting, but I just haven’t had time to do it! I decided to make time and I have LOVED it. I’ve been selling commissioned art such as home place paintings, pet paintings, memories of scenes from Haiti and Christmas cards. It’s been a lot of fun and a source of mourning and healing as we miss our home and friends in Haiti.

Speaking of missing Haiti, one of the things we miss about our life in Haiti is having chickens! We also missed being able to just go out to the coop and grab a few eggs anytime we want them! So we decided to get four chickens! Their names are Henny, Hei-Hei, Nellie, and Nugget. They are no trouble at all and they are very, very entertaining. They are now producing enough eggs to be able to share with friends even!!

On a sad note, we said goodbye to our sweet Ody recently. He was 14.5 years old and had always seemed like a puppy to us. He was always full of energy, loving, and a rock star in Haiti. He was Vladimir’s “thunder buddy” because he snuggled up close to him during storms in Haiti. We knew his days were numbered because of his age, but we never dreamed it would creep up on us so suddenly. One day out of the blue, his health took a nose dive. The vet told us that they could tell from his lab results that he had cancer in his liver and had had a stroke. He didn’t live through the night. We miss our sweet guy so very much, but we are thankful for the time we had with him and how he made everyone feel welcome at Hope Center.

Now on to Haiti….. A number of people have been asking us lately what our plans are and what things are like over there right now. One thing we have had to learn over the course of these last 8+ years is that we must walk in COMPLETE faith in what God leads us to do and TRUST Him. Packing up and moving to Haiti back in 2012 indeed took a great deal of faith, but I believe it has taken a lot more faith to remain in the US during this time of uncertainty than it did to leave to begin with! If we could load up and go tomorrow, we would do it in a heartbeat. However, we must trust the Lord and know that he continues to guide our steps. He has been teaching us more and more that HE is the one that has done all that has been accomplished in Haiti through us and BGM and HE will continue that work with or without us. We are simply his servants whether we are in Haiti or the US.

There are three things keeping us in the US right now. First, and most of all, there are Tony’s cancer treatments. We have learned that the healing related to this is a process that we must be patient with. Once his doctor says he is free to leave the country for an extended period of time, we can check that box off and reduce the factors keeping us here. Next, there is COVID-19. Although the threat does not seem to be as great in Haiti for some reason, we don’t think it would we wise to move back while the pandemic is still going strong. Thirdly, the civil unrest in Haiti continues to create very serious dangers to foreigners, especially those connected to large organizations such as ours. I cannot publicly communicate a lot of details, but our particular area of Haiti is still dealing with grave violence and dangers that we cannot risk being in the middle of. On this, we continue to consult with our Haitian staff regularly, and they do not believe it would be wise for us to return to our part of Haiti at this time. We’ve had a few people point out to us that there are Americans with other organizations they know who are either still in Haiti at this time or traveling back and forth, so they wonder why we can’t. The thing is, although there continues to be much civil unrest going on all over Haiti, there are some areas that are worse than others. Unfortunately, the main road leading to our city and village has become known as one of the most dangerous routes in the entire country. We firmly believe that this will change one day, but for now, we just cannot return to the area. There are also differences between other missions and ours. This was wisely pointed out to me recently by our Haitian Administrator, Vladimir. A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with him, and I was crying about not being there. He said, “Mickie, perhaps God is using these bad things to show you that you and Tony DID what He called you to Haiti to do! Living here forever was never the end game. He called you here to build a sustainable community. That means a community run and sustained by Haitians. We are doing that! Your hard work and example is being lived out every day at Hope Center even without you physically being here.” God has always used Vladimir to bless us with his wisdom, and on that day I believe he shared some of his wisest words. We have no idea what God’s plan is weeks from now, months from now, or years from now, but what we do know is that He wants to continue to use us to build this sustainable community, and for now it is in a different way than we have done it in the past. We trust God’s guidance.

For now, we are still ministering, but our ministry looks a little different than it has in the past. Again, GOD has allowed this to happen. This year, we have still built houses; we have still held school; we are still feeding children at school; we are still ministering to the sick through our clinic and patient advocacy; we are still helping malnourished children recover from malnutrition; we are still sharing the Word in our church and schools and clinic; we are still doing MANY of the things we have done for the last 8+ years, but for now, the HAITIANS are doing it, and that is HUGE! God blesses our organization financially here and we send those funds to our leadership there so that they can carry on the ministry to the people of Galette Chambon. It’s so very hard to be away, but it’s an enormous blessing to watch it happen from afar through our amazing staff.

So you might ask, what are Tony and I actually doing then if we aren’t there? Well, every morning, we open our texting app that we use to communicate with our staff, and we usually find anywhere from five to ten messages from various people there in our village. Usually, by 9:00 in the morning, Tony and I have both had conversations with Vladimir, Joel, Didier, and Moliere and sometimes Dino. Joel and I coordinate sponsorship efforts every, single day. He gets names of kids who need sponsorship or updates and he gets those names to the school. The school sends the kids to see him at Hope Center. He interviews them, measures them, takes their picture, and then he sends all of that to me so that I can put it all on the website and/or communicate with sponsors. Moliere and I make plans for the schools, discuss policies and procedures, future plans, budgeting, curriculum, student needs, facility needs, etc. Didier gets advice on clinic needs and patient advocacy. Didier and I coordinate efforts with other medical connections in Haiti that we have made over the years, and we get our patients to the hospitals and doctors that they need for specialized care. Vladimir and Tony or I talk almost daily about maintenance needs at Hope Center, inventories, and financial reports. It’s an ongoing effort, and it’s amazing to see it all happening!

This is our “Dream Team” Administrative staff. Vladimir is our Hope Center Administrator, Didier is our Clinic Manager and Patient Advocate, Joel is our Sponsorship Administrator and School Liaison, and Moliere is our School Superintendent.

Every year in the past, I have noticed that God seems to give us a vision for something specific to focus on in the ministry. Last year for me it was raising funds and building a brand new school. The year before that, it was forming and developing a school district managed by a superintendent. This year, God is beginning to grow a vision in my heart where we organize efforts to equip Haitians in our village to carry out three of the biggest ministry events we have had in the past: Vet Clinics, Motherhood Seminars, and VBS. We are currently working on plans to support a two-week mobile vet clinic utilizing our two local vet agents who went to vet agent training last year. They have a ticket system where they can charge a small amount to farmers in the village to have their animals dewormed, vaccinated, and other procedures commonly done in our vet clinics in the past. The American vets who have been heavily involved in the past will send support to help our vet agents purchase medicines and supplies and then the tickets will be distributed, meds purchased, and the vet clinic event will take place! We hope to do the same with the Motherhood Seminars. We have a local Haitian nurse who has translated these events before who will actually come conduct the seminar after a team sends supplies and funds to help her pull it off. The team that sponsors the event will send funds for the snacks, the diapers, the hygiene kits, etc. and then ship over the gift bags with water bottles and other goodies. This will not only encourage and educate expectant mothers, but it will also support local business women who make the snacks, diapers, and hygiene kits! With VBS, we would find teams that want to support a Haitian-led VBS at our church and they will send funds for supplies, snacks, and instructions. We will put together a Haitian team of leaders who lead the kids in songs and verse memorization including our pastor there who will lead the children in a Bible lesson. I’m so, so excited about the vision the Lord has given me for events to come at Hope Center with or without Americans present. After all, it is not the AMERICANS who bless the people of Galette Chambon (although the people there do enjoy our company and participation), but it is GOD who blesses the people. And as the people see these things happening without a single American present, they will recognize even more that GOD sees their needs and makes a way for those needs to be met.

Once again, Tony and I want to thank each and every one of you for the part you have played in the ongoing ministry we are a part of in Haiti. We are thankful for our amazing staff that makes up an incredible ministry team. We are thankful for health and healing and our precious, precious family. We are thankful for all of the things that God has taught us about listening to His voice, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Grace and Hope that comes with being a part of the Body of Christ. It’s a humbling thing.

Merry Christmas to you all!! Stay safe out there!!

From the Tony & Mickie West

We leave you with some pics of our sweet family times….

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Ministry & Family Update

**OOPS!! My first post had a couple of significant errors that I thought I had fixed but the wrong version must have gone out. This one is corrected.

Hey Everybody! Before I get started on this update, Tony and I just want to express our deep love and appreciation for every single dear friend who has prayed for Tony’s healing and just our overall well-being during this strange and difficult time. Your love and support has been OVERWHELMING to say the least.

It’s been about three months since my last update when life was a bit more calm around the world. Tony and I had decided to go “Off the Grid” for a couple of weeks as we took time to be alone together to process and pray about his prostate cancer diagnosis and the road that we were about to embark upon. Of course, in our minds, that journey didn’t also include face masks, hand sanitizer, toilet paper shortages, and socially chaotic whirlwind, but we’ve always just sort of rolled with the punches in life. It has not been an easy adjustment for any of us, has it? But God continues to be faithful to His promises, and we daily seek His word and the Holy Spirit for guidance and courage. “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” Proverbs 3:6.

So would you like to hear a little encouraging news? Well, I have some…..

First of all, Tony’s PSA levels (a protein that signifies the potential for prostate cancer cells) continue to go down! Hallelujah! We were hoping that at his last appointment they would be completely zero, but they were still very slightly above zero, so his doctor gave him another hormone shot and said we would wait three more months to start radiation. That means we won’t begin radiation until about mid-September. In the meantime, we are trying to exercise more, practice healthier eating, and stay in the Word. We are trying to avoid crowds as much as possible and wearing masks when around anyone outside of our close family circle. The last thing we need is for COVID to delay the radiation treatments. We covet your continued prayers. One very special opportunity Tony has had since his diagnosis has been to be able to minister to several friends who have reached out to him with prostate cancer diagnoses too. It has meant a lot to him to be able to have a community of men to share with whose experiences are fresh and difficult to process. He has been such an encouragement to them, and that is God working!!

More good news….HAITI. Where to I begin? Since Tony and I left Haiti last September, it has been sooooo difficult for us to accept God’s very clear directive to us that we are where we are supposed to be right now and that He will continue to use us from afar. When the country was turned topsy turvy with political upheaval and violence back in November and December, we went through a time of chaos and sort of stunned stagnancy as we all just hung on for dear life and prayed that God would move and make a way for ministry to continue even though Tony and I could not return yet and teams could not go. Vladimir, Joel, and Didier each stepped up in his capacity and they got the clinic open, school pictures made, started construction on a couple of houses, etc. It was amazing to see them all three just sort of JUMP into motion like horses out of a starting gate. As you can imagine, although our hearts hurt so much for not being there, they are also swollen with gratitude as we see these young men carrying on the ministry that God started years ago with all of us together. So since January, in our little village of Galette Chambon, BGM has been able to build two houses, have three large food distributions, conduct school pictures for over 800 students, begin construction on two new classrooms at the new BGM Primary school, distribute handicap equipment to many local handicapped members of our community, distribute 100 Texas Instrument scientific calculators to 9th graders preparing for the National Exam in both Galette Chambon and Thoman, and minister personally with several members of the community with urgent, specific medical needs. I will share some pictures of those things now….

There are other exciting things developing right now too that mean continued ministry in our village in spite of the difficulties we are facing as a mission there in Haiti. RH Kouti is the name of the sewing company that was started in our village several years ago. Ruth and Henry hire many other members of the community to work as they sew hundreds of uniforms for our students each year. The months of February through May are usually difficult, however, because they have finished the uniforms and have been paid for all of them and they, in turn, have paid their employees, so not much income comes in until uniforms start being made again. Recently, a sponsor sent money for them to make a dress for her sponsor child, and they did a beautiful job! Since then many other sponsors have followed suit and are ordering dresses for theirs. This has produced an income again during a particularly dry time financially for them.

We are also continuing preparations for launching the Goat Sharing Program. We have been working on growing the herd and organizing development of the program. Soon there will be a way for people to purchase a goat online through BGM to “give” to a family who will “pay for it” by giving back the gift goat’s first born. This creates sustainability and responsibility and a business. Our two baby goats are almost ready to be sold and given to the first recipients! We will publicize when the program kicks off!

Just recently, Stan Buckley published a post about how lack of rain has caused countless farms in both Thoman and Galette Chambon to burn up and therefore many, many people are going hungry. We were thinking a post like that would draw a little money for another food distribution or two, but it actually drew enough funds to feed thousands of people in our two villages! I’m talking fishes and loaves kind of miracle! The food distribution in Galette Chambon took many hours of preparation and organization between me and the staff there, but it’s happening! And people all over the village will have a month’s supply of food after this distribution. Praise God!! Vladimir and Didier have done a tremendous job of organizing.

More good news…. Joel organized a paint crew this week and they are painting the outside of the new BGM Primary School as well as the new classrooms. This provides income to about seven men in our village, and it will complete both Phase I and Phase II of the school. From what I understand, BGM received funds to build both classrooms and possibly one of the playgrounds. We are trusting God will provide to finish the second playground, the library, and finish the main courtyard that will become a dining and stage area. The provision of our God is just amazing isn’t it?

Meanwhile, back at the West house….. Many people have asked us the hard question, “Tony & Mickie, when will you guys be able to go back? Do you see any hope of being able to return?” The short answer is, “Yes, we have hope of returning, but we have no way of knowing what that is going to look like or when that will be.” We are just trusting God. Right now, there are three things that keep us from returning: COVID, continued civil unrest, and cancer treatments. These are three things that don’t just make us CHOOSE to stay in the states longer, but FORCE us to remain here. All are ongoing. But that doesn’t mean we can’t continue our ministry there. It just looks different. Every single day, I begin talking with staff members in Haiti as soon as I get up in the morning. We discuss plans we are making for ministry that day, next week, and months ahead. We organize, we network, we problem solve, etc. every day, just like we would do if Tony and I were still there. We all work together to get things done. I am still editing school pictures every day and sending them back to Joel who uploads them to sponsor child pages. I work with Jo and Joel together to run the sponsorship program and take care of the book keeping and record keeping that has to take place to stay as organized as much as possible. We call and text with doctors and hospitals who are working with us on several special medical cases, coordinating efforts to take care of these medical needs. Tony works with Vladimir on keeping up with Hope Center expenses and receipts and reports. These are all parts of the ministry that must be kept up with and continued daily and would not take place if Tony & I weren’t committed and able to work closely via internet with our staff there. Two weeks ago, I actually got to share the gospel with a Haitian young man via WhatsApp text in Creole because everyone there has access to our phone numbers and they know they are free to text us any time! These are our responsibilities as BGM Missionaries to Haiti, building a sustainable community, and we continue to do these things even though we cannot be there.

In addition to our work with BGM and our Haitian staff there at Hope Center, God has made a way for Tony and I to do some things utilizing the gifts He has given us to supplement our income to pay for the medical bills that are starting to rack up. As you all know, Tony is a very gifted healthcare provider. As a Nurse Practitioner, he has been able to help serve in a nursing home and a couple of assisted living facilities lately. This has given him an opportunity to use the degree he recently received, practicing American medicine, and ministering to some sweet, sweet elderly friends. His loving and very personal touch has been a blessing to many people during this time when friends and family have not been able to visit. As for me, I have taken up painting! I have always loved to draw and paint and as I have reminisced about our Haiti life, it has helped me cope with not being there by painting. Before I knew it, I was making a little income on my paintings. Now, I’ve been commissioned to do several paintings for people, I’m selling notecards made from my paintings, people have bought prints of my originals, and I’m putting the originals in the BGM Food for Life online auction in July! It’s just so cool to me how God works things out like this!

AND NOW…. Are you ready for our REALLY BIG news? We have a new grand baby!!! Yes, Abel Jefferson West was born to Jonathan & Katelyn on May 26th. He was born Haiti-style, completely natural without any medication and his mama is a BOSS! His daddy and big brother are pretty amazing too!! It was not easy having to share in the excitement of birth via text message as Jonathan tried to give us all play-by-play, and it has not been easy to exercise COVID precautions, but we have managed, had several outdoor gatherings with distance, and we could not be more excited to one day be able to hold him and kiss on him ourselves. On the day of his homecoming, the whole family waited in the yard until Katelyn brought him out of the house for Emerson to see him for the first time. It was such a sweet sight that we all were able to see. Tony was just playing around when he pulled out two PPE suits and asked if he and Tim might get to hold him if they used the suits. When Jonathan said, “I don’t know why not.” He ripped into the plastic and we grandparents took turns holding our sweet grand baby for a few minutes. We cried many happy tears!!

More good news for our family! Our youngest son is now engaged to his girlfriend, Lacey. He planned out an elaborate scavenger hunt and picnic for her that led to the final spot where he proposed. We do not know yet when they will plan to be married yet as they both have another year of school left, but we are happy for them and pray God’s blessings upon their relationship.

I will leave you with one urgent prayer request. Most of you know who LyniaNara is. For those who don’t, she is our 14 year old dialysis patient who has been in renal failure for about three years now. I speak with her family about once or twice a week keeping up with her. I have been so concerned about her during this virus pandemic. BGM continues to pay for her dialysis that she receives three times per week as well as her medicines and transportation. This amounts to about $1000 per month or more. We have no special budget for her and don’t really conduct special fundraising efforts for her. We depend on the Lord to speak to those He wants to use to help us support her medical needs and then wait on them to follow through. Right now, LyniaNara is not doing well. Her dialysis nurse is very concerned. Her health is deteriorating, and more tests are needed to discover what is going on. Please, please pray for her and her family. Her father is our pastor and the rest of her family is very involved in our church, schools, and community with education and evangelism. They need our prayers and support. Go to www.butgodministries and click GIVE and give to the General Budget and in the memo or comments, put “Medical Expenses – LyniaNara” if you wish to donate.

We are so very thankful for the faithful supporters who continue to pray for us and send support to help us even though we cannot be there right now. We do still have to eat and live, and what little work Tony and I have both been able to do here would not be enough to support us, so we want to say to all of our supporters that we appreciate your understanding our situation and sympathizing with our pain and frustration of not being able to be with and minister to the people we love in person. But God continues to make a way! Please do continue to pray for us.

Thank you again for following our our personal journey and ministry in Haiti and the US during this tumultuous time in ALL of our lives. May everything we do bring glory and honor to God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Blessings!

Mickie & Tony West

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Off the Grid

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One of my favorite pictures of us, taken in the wee hours of the morning in Haiti after a baby delivery. 

 

The past couple of weeks have been sort of surreal. Tony and I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the love, prayers, and support of so many people. It has been hard to keep up with the emails, inbox messages, text messages, and post comments that have come our way. We are humbled and feel very blessed so have such an amazing and wide circle of family and friends. If you are hearing about this for the first time and are asking, “What in the world are you talking about?” here is a link to Stan’s update that explains it all… https://www.butgodministries.com/category/stans-updates/

As we face this next hurdle that life has thrown our way, we will not be overcome with fear. We know that our God walks before us. Looking back over the past couple of years, it is crystal clear to us that He has been walking before us and saw this time coming before we even had a clue. He provided a home for us; He provided an affordable source of transportation; He grew an amazing staff to be prepared and completely able to manage Hope Center in our absence; and He has now answered the question that has been nagging in our hearts as to “Why” we have not been able to return to Haiti. With all of these assurances in our lives and in His word, how CAN we be afraid!? This is not a road we would have chosen to walk, but we will walk it shouting the praises of our Lord Jesus Christ as this experience brings glory and honor to His miraculous power and might. We cannot be shaken or moved. We claim Isaiah 41:10 which says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Did you know that God actually says, “DO NOT BE AFRAID” in 365 different places in the Bible? I have shared this fact with countless students in the past, countless Haitian friends that have come to me in desperation over one thing or another (I can even say it in Creole! ha!), and I have reminded myself of it numerous times throughout my life. Why would He say this 365 times? Well duh!! Because we have 365 days in the year and our precious Father wants us to claim it every single day of our lives because He knows that this world deals us hits every day that are cause for fear. But as the Psalmist said in Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” And God has reminded us countless times in the last few days the words of Isaiah 43:1, “But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”  Yes, he DID summon us by name, and our calling is not done. The enemy cannot stop what God has started. We will not be moved. 

With this said, many, many people have asked us “How can I help?” Of course, our immediate response is PRAY. Tony and I have absolutely NO DOUBT that it is the prayers of God’s people what have carried us and strengthened us and even provided for us for the last seven years!! It’s a miracle actually! Praise be to God!  Today a precious friend felt led to post on Facebook a suggestion that people help us financially. In obedience to God’s lead, I have to share how people can do that if so led. It is so hard for me to share this because asking people for help is not an easy thing for us to do, but I have learned that is pride. As a very dear friend explained to me before we moved to Haiti, “You better get used to it because it is your life now. Don’t let your pride stand in the way of letting the Body of Christ BE the Body of Christ.” Oh how wise his words were. They are still not easy to put into practice. So, as you pray, if God leads you to want to help us in this way, we will humbly accept your help. We have no idea what we are in for as far as future medical expenses are concerned when it comes to the surgery Tony is having or what additional expenses will come after that. We do have insurance, thankfully, but I have heard from people who have gone through this before that the 20% insurance doesn’t pay can be a huge bill.  We just know that God does know, and He will lead and provide as the needs arise. We have always been able to trust Him to make a way and today is no different. Someone asked me about Paypal and we do have it. It’s under our email: tnmwest@gmail.com. And our Venmo is @Mickie-West-1 .  PRAYER is our biggest weapon and our biggest need. From there, we trust God to lead. 

Now, as the day approaches for Tony’s surgery, a precious friend that we don’t even know personally (now THAT’s God!) has offered to let us stay in their cabin in the mountains for a week. We will take this time to breathe deeply, pray earnestly, and prepare our hearts for the battle ahead. Our armor is the finest and our weapons are fierce, praise the Lord! So over the next week, Tony and I will be going “off the grid,” reflecting on the greatness of our God and what precious, precious friends He has given us to walk along side us. Please continue to be in prayer for us… and know that if you text or email or call and we don’t reply, we will definitely get back in touch with you when we return. Thank you all so much! We have so much love for you, and so much to be thankful for…..we are overwhelmed with joy…..

 

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Giving Tuesday

It has been eleven weeks now…. Eleven weeks of desperately crying out to God for change in the political climate in Haiti. When Tony and I left on September 16th, we only intended to be gone for two weeks. We left Haiti to attend an awards ceremony at Samford where Tony was being recognized, then we were going to visit family for a week and then return. We had return flights booked for October 2nd. However, from the very day we left until now, the country has been in complete chaos and pretty much locked down. We were advised by our Haitian leadership to stay in the US until some sort of resolution is achieved in the crisis, but that has not happened yet. This week seems to be a bit more quiet around the country, but because there has been no resolution in the political situation there, everyone seems to be both rushing around trying to take advantage of the reprieve and walking on eggshells as they wait for things to become violent again. Right now, however, we are all doing the best we can to minister to needs in our village as God provides. Our Haitian staff has done an excellent job of doing just that, and our mighty and loving God has provided in ways that have blessed many, many people of our village. Thankfully we have been able to coordinate via internet and accomplish many good things.

Last month, when I updated everyone on the crisis, I reported about our plans for our schools, building houses, painting projects, etc. We believe that as God moves us to do certain things, He is doing so because He is preparing to meet needs as we prepare, so in faith, we begin preparations. We praise the Lord that He has allowed us to be able to continue to keep schools in session, carry out three food distributions, build two houses, and finish one of the painting projects!

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The students in all three BGM schools have been able to continue school every day in spite of the political unrest experienced throughout the country. Most schools throughout the country have been closed for two months. However, because we employee over 100 teachers and staff from our local village, they have been able to come to school and continue business as usual. This also means that children throughout the village are eating every day because our cooks prepare a hot meal for all students daily.

Praise God, we have been able to complete three food distributions in the last month. First, God made a way for us to get a whole pallet of Manna Packs, so we were able to give those Manna Packs to every student in our elementary schools. Each child received two packs which meant siblings took home even more for their families. We also were able to give rice, beans, oil, and pasta to over 150 families in our village. Lodana is one single mom in the village who not only received food, but will also soon be moving into a new house that BGM is currently building! Lastly, when we went to pick up two more months’ supply of Manna Packs from Love a Child, they also shared with us 24 food sets that included beans, rice, and oil. We gave these to a local organization in our village that ministers to the handicapped people in and around Galette Chambon. The president of the organization and his wife came to get the food supplies and they distributed those this week.

 

Providing jobs is one way that God continues to bless people throughout the village. The teachers and school staff are not the only ones being paid to work. God has provided funds for building FOUR new houses in the village, and that not only means that these families will soon move from devastating living conditions to brand new homes, but it also means that construction workers are getting paid for their work! As sustainability is achieved through job provision, families are fed and lives are blessed. Recently, our clinic doctor advised that we paint labels on all BGM property because sadly, as the country continues to be in crisis, we can expect crime to escalate. He said that it was necessary to mark property so that it can be identified in case of theft. Although the reason is a tough reality to accept, getting this job done meant four young men got paid to do this work. We got word today that all desks, benches, tables, etc. at Hope Center, the church, and BGM Primary have been painted. Soon another painting project will begin that will provide even more jobs. As soon as we are able to purchase and order paint, we will start painting the school! This will employ many people and it will add bright color to the village that will also bring a ray of hope to those who see it and recognize that God continues to work and bless in our village.

Another miraculous need was met recently when our school Superintendent’s baby came home from the hospital. At the time, Haiti was in a very chaotic state and there was danger on every road. Many businesses were closed, and baby formula was nowhere to be found. Moliere’s baby girl was born premature at 28 weeks back in August and she remained in the NICU at Hospital Mirebalais for over two months. It’s a miracle in itself that she even survived, but once she was released, her parents were able to safely get her home as well! Praise the Lord! Once they got home, her daddy went out to buy the formula that had been prescribed for her. He couldn’t find it anywhere. He wrote to us to see if we had any in our clinic. Our staff went to look, and we had five cans of the exact formula he needed!! Hallelujah!!

If you look back at the picture of the formula on the shelf, you might notice that it is the ONLY thing sitting on the shelf. Sadly, our Hope Center Clinic pharmacy shelves are bare. Before Tony and I left for the states back in September, Tony gave our staff a list of medicines we needed to purchase in order to keep the clinic open. As the clinic remained open that next week, they went through what medicines we had left very quickly. However, the streets were too dangerous for them to try to get out to purchase more. In the past, we have relied heavily on teams generously donating medicines for our pharmacy, however, we have not been able to have any teams come with medicines in many months. This makes it necessary to buy medicines in country, but there is not really any large, comprehensive source to buy them. It takes multiple trips to many different places to find the medicines frequently used in our clinic. Our doctor has tried multiple times to get to Port au Prince to try to purchase more, but her sources were either blocked and she couldn’t get to them, or they were closed, or they were out of the most commonly used medicines. If we don’t have medicines, it doesn’t do anyone any good to be open. However, while things are quiet this week, we are working with other medical professionals in the country to try to obtain the medicines in order to open the clinic next week.

Giving Tuesday

Our clinic was the very first mission outreach we began back in 2012. When we first opened, we thought we were serving a general population of 9,000. However, we soon discovered that people from neighboring villages were in desperate need of healthcare as well and that number increased to 25,000. People often walk for days to get to our clinic, over mountain ranges, and often through extreme heat or storms. It’s not unusual to see people sleeping on the benches outside our clinic because they walked for two days to get care and they want to be first in line when the clinic opens. Over the last seven years, God has made it possible to treat literally thousands of patients who were in desperate need of medical attention. Hundreds of people who were dying from complications related to hypertension have since been on daily medications to get their blood pressure under control. They have scheduled, monthly appointments to monitor it, and the improvements in community health have increased dramatically. We have been able to safely deliver nearly 600 babies over the years in a healthy and loving environment where we not only give them the medical attention they need, but we minister to them, love on them, and talk to them about how God has a special plan for their lives and their baby’s life. We have sewed up countless wounds from moto accidents to soccer injuries. We have helped people manage colds and allergies, diabetes, rashes, and pain. God has literally performed miracle after miracle in our little clinic, and it has been exciting to watch and heartbreaking to see it stalled.

Tomorrow is a day that has come to be known as Giving Tuesday. This is a day when people from all over the world donate to organizations to help them function and serve others the way God called us to serve. Many of you will see numerous calls for support on Giving Tuesday, and it might become hard to decide which organization to give to in order to do your part in this effort to support missions throughout the world. I wanted to write to you today to help you know that But God Ministries is one organization you can give to that uses every penny given exactly for the purpose to which it was given. If you research various organization reports, you will find that many report “administrative costs” to be as much as 80% of their budget! When this is the case, your funds are being given primarily to pay individuals who work within the organization as well as pay for offices and travel and elaborate mail outs. BGM is different. Our last audit report showed that our administrative costs are less than 10% of our organizational budget. That, my friends, is nearly unheard of throughout many of the larger organizations out there. That doesn’t mean that these organizations are not doing great things by any means! It just means that you don’t necessarily have a clue where and how your donations are being used. Every week, BGM tries to give reports through social media stories that shout praises to our Almighty and Loving God and show the world the amazing things He continues to do through BGM. Today I am asking you….as you consider which organization to give to – whether it be $5 or $5000 – no matter how big or small – will you please consider donating to But God Ministries tomorrow for Giving Tuesday? Your donation will be used to minister to the sick and provide healthcare and medical services to those in need, and most of all, it will spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a village in Haiti that has been experiencing miracle after miracle DEMONSTRATING God’s love in many, many ways. …..Thank you for your support.

Go to the But God Ministries website and click “Give”  or click the link provided here. You will be asked to create an account if you wish to give online. You can also send a check or even set up a recurring bank draft. We also have created the Circle of Hope which is an elite group of individuals who have committed to sending $100 per month to help us support our Hope Center operations and Haitian staff in Haiti. But if you give to BGM’s General Fund tomorrow on Giving Tuesday (December 3rd), your gift will go towards funding our clinic in Galette Chambon specifically. Your gift is very much appreciated. May God bless you for your prayers and your generosity.

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Solidarity is needed for Hope

Many people have been texting, writing, inboxing, and calling over the past few days asking for an update on what is going on in Haiti right now. I honestly don’t know where to begin because so much is happening on both a national and personal level that our heads are spinning and we don’t really know what to say anymore.

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When we run into friends and they smile and ask, “How are you?” we just don’t know how to respond. We could just say, “Great!” and that would be a total lie because we are NOT great by any means, and we can’t even feel human and utter those words at the same time. We could be partially honest and say, “Well, we are somewhat ohhhkayyy….” but that really wouldn’t be true. Yes, WE are okay. We are in a house in a safe community with a grocery store less than half a mile away, and running water, and electricity at our fingertips, so yes WE are okay….but we are NOT okay. We can’t say, “We are heartbroken” either because (1) most people really aren’t looking for that response when asked in passing, and (2), it just opens a can of worms that would require a response that could take two hours or more to spell out. There IS no short version. We can’t express our hearts in a few minutes. So to be honest with you, we would just rather stay inside the house with the TV chattering in the background as we sit silently next to one another reading whatever news we can find about the latest events in Haiti. It’s gut wrenching….

Every day it seems to be the same thing over and over again. We often wonder, how in the world can this keep on every, single day? Where does the mob find the energy and money to keep doing this? Well, I guess when you don’t have anything else to do, and you want to be heard, and some even have a way of turning the situation into a lucrative one, you have your answer! Haitians are sick and tired of being sick and tired. They are fed up with being called, “The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere” Bleh (vomit). They are tired of hundreds of thousands not being able to get ahead while the elite rake in money and ignore the poverty, foreign governments offer subsidies and grants to a corrupt government that squanders the money and the cycle just continues on. Many are tired of their country being ransacked by the angry mob, tired of not being able to carry on their lives and be able to go to market and have access to healthcare – even if it is charity healthcare – tired or not being paid for their work, and tired of their country being thought of by the rest of the world as a dirty, dangerous place. So those are the players….the mob, the elite, and the tired and frustrated “everyman” who just wants a bag of rice that doesn’t cost a month’s wages (which they don’t have). Specifically, it seems like the majority of people rioting and shouting are calling for the current president to step down because of alleged corruption and his inability to govern or protect the people. I have no idea if this is the solution to the problems, but I also don’t feel like locking down the country and tearing it apart is the answer either.

Ultimately, JESUS is the answer. I was texting with a young Haitian friend the other day and his wise words gave me chills. He said (and I translate) that “there are many, many Haitians still clinging to old, demonic ways and thoughts of the past. It is because Haiti gained her independence with those practices and her people have continued to rely on the practice of voodoo that we cannot progress. Our people do not think clearly because our ancestors fought with evil practices and evil creates chaos, confusion and hatred. We can’t put our heads together and trust one another to work for the good of all. We can’t seem to recognize that these practices keep us enslaved. We need to get out of this bondage – this system of the past is what continues our suffering. We don’t ever change. We need solidarity or Haiti will perish.” As I read his words, I raised my hand in praise and agreement, and I pray to God that there are many more in Haiti who recognize and believe this too. It is THESE who will bring change to their nation. For God’s word says in Ephesians 2:14-18, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups [Jew and Gentile] one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. . . . His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you [Gentiles] who were far away and peace to those [Jews] who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”  God’s plan is peace, and the way to that peace is solidarity in Jesus.

….So we have been stuck here in the US now for over 5 weeks, and the nation has escalated to utter and complete chaos and disaster. Many say that “Haiti is on fire,” and that is the truth on so many levels. News outlets are calling it a “humanitarian crisis.” Hospitals are either closing or struggling to stay open. Hotels and businesses are starting to post announcements that they are closing their doors for good. Some humanitarian and Christian organizations have pulled their staff out of the country and are evaluating whether or not they can continue to serve in Haiti. Everyone else there still carrying the torch is exhausted, frustrated, and exasperated. Many forge on working hard to take care of the masses as best they can in spite of the chaos. HERO Client Rescue is one organization that is putting their own lives in danger to transport people in urgent medical crisis from hospital to hospital through dangerous crowds and burning tires in search of medical care. Most of the time, it takes multiple stops and the exhausting, heroic efforts of many to get one patient transported and admitted into a hospital only to find that the hospital doesn’t have the supplies or the staff to handle it. The rest of the humanitarian workers there at various missions do what they can to help those in need around them and pass the time making the best of their situation.

Tony and I are members of a WhatsApp group made up of hundreds of expats all over Haiti, most of whom live there like us. Some are still there, others are in the US like us and are watching in order to update our staff or followers here in the states. This week there was a rather large yet peaceful march sponsored by the Catholic church in Haiti. One member of the group explained that it was organized by a subset in the Catholic community called the Conférence Haitienne de Religieux. This word “Religious” in this sense is used in a more restrictive sense unlike the common usage which refers to any group practicing any religion. In this more restricted sense, it refers to members of communities or groups that take the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. Basically, it refers to the nuns and sisters and brothers associated with the Catholic churches in Haiti (Fr. Louis) It was a positive and peaceful gathering that I believe offered hope to those who watched and participated. This was a good sign of progress. Their voices singing in unison praising God was very comforting to hear (see video below).

As far as BGM is concerned, there is no question in our minds right now about whether or not we will carry on. We have a very capable staff at Hope Center that is doing the best they can in difficult circumstances to carry on ministry in our village. A few weeks ago, the Ministry of Education issued a statement that all schools in Haiti needed to close for the safety and well being of their students and employees. I received the text from Moliere, our Superintendent, stating that our schools would have to close and my heart sank. If the mob feels like it has to rip the country apart, so be it, but the children must be able to go to school. For so many, education is their hope for a better future. But the protestors want to make a point by shutting down everything in the country, and that includes schools. So we went along with it for a couple of weeks until I started getting reports of many of our school children being hungry. I just couldn’t stand it. Moliere was upset about it too, and we made the decision to open the schools, if for nothing else, to feed the children. Our village is out in a rural area where there are no roads. The children walk down goat paths to get to school, and all you see for miles is thorny bushes and farm land. There IS no rioting, protesting, rock throwing, or tire burning going on in our village. So Moliere opened the schools, the teachers showed up, the cooks started cooking, and within a few days, all of the kids were back in the classroom! That sure made my heart glad.

Today we also started something special for the kids at Children of Christ Home. Their school has been closed too because of the danger on the roads, so today we brought in tutors to help them with school lessons while they are not able to go to their school. It isn’t the best situation, but it is making the best of a bad situation. Five teachers will be coming to Hope Center every afternoon to give the kids lessons, and then the kids will do their homework in the afternoons. This keeps the kids focused on their education and gives them something to do during the day that is organized and beneficial. Some of the professors made a video call for me before lessons started today to tell me they are excited about teaching the kids. I’m so proud of our team for organizing this!!

We are also making plans to start two painting projects soon as well. Joel will organize and effort to paint BGM on all of our desks and benches and other furniture and supplies so that all of our inventory is clearly marked as BGM property. We were advised to do this as preparation for possibly continued difficulty in the future. He will also organize the effort to paint the school soon! I am super excited about this because it will put more people in the community to work as well as encourage people to see that the blessings in the community are not going to stop just because the city is in flames.

Soon the clinic will open as well once we get organized and purchase medicines. When all of the riots started, it was about time for us to purchase lab supplies and medicines. Our doctor was not able to get money or safe transportation to go into Port au Prince to purchase supplies, so our pharmacy and lab are practically empty. Because there has been no electricity, the vaccines and lab supplies that are supposed to remain refrigerated have ruined. Our staff has to clean all of that and properly dispose of it, and then we have to see what we can replace that does not need refrigeration. Once all of this preparation is done, we will get the word out that the clinic is open again to minister to the sick of our community. Please join me in praying that this happens soon!

I look forward to hearing the beautiful sound of these precious voices floating through the air as I prepare to face each day of ministry at Hope Center. I look forward to seeing all of the faces of school children and staff members and neighbors coming in and out of our doors and out in the community. I have no doubt that one day it is all going to be better, and perhaps through this difficulty, God will shape Haiti into an even more beautiful place than it was before. I know that He is shaping all of us! I don’t know about the rest of the country, but I believe God is creating an atmosphere of “solidarity” in our village, and that is a recipe for Hope!!

Philippians 1:4-6 says, “Always, in every prayer of mine, making request for you all with joy,  for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  We are all counting on this!!

Thank you all so much for your prayers!!

~Mickie

Facebook: Well written post by Jonathan Harold LaMare about what it is like “When Haiti is Hot”

Washington Post Article: “There is No Hope”: Crisis Pushes Haiti to Brink of Collapse

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Negotiating with Gangs

The past few days have been excruciating. We have felt so helpless here. But “excruciating” does not even begin to describe what it has been like for people in Haiti. People are running out of food and water and gas while gangs and protestors continue to hold the whole country hostage and literally rip it apart and burn it. It is time. It is time to call upon all prayer warriors and make clear the urgency for the need for prayer. Haiti will one day be restored back to normal, and we will return to our call of ministering to the people of our village as we always have, but right now…. RIGHT NOW WE ALL MUST RECOGNIZE THE NEED TO BE ON OUR KNEES IN PRAYER!!!

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When Tony and I left Haiti on September 16th, it was starting to heat up. The day after we left, the heat turned up a bit more. By Monday, September 21, it was cranked up in full force. At this point, it is utter chaos. When things get hot like this (and this is worse than we have ever seen it), a million things start darting through my mind, but the primary concern I feel is for LyniaNara. Her life depends on being able to travel to and from Port au Prince for dialysis. When things are like this, her travel becomes impossible.

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LyniaNara

LyniaNara has a routine, and situations like this disrupt that routine and her body begins to shut down. A normal week for LyniaNara is not easy, but it is necessary for her to survive. She leaves her house at 3 am with her father to head to a dialysis center in Canapé Vert above Port au Prince every Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday. It takes two hours to get there, four hours spent on dialysis, and another two hours to get back home. If all goes smoothly, she gets home in time to get ready for school which starts at 1. Over the last few months, her routine has gone very smoothly and she has been looking soooo healthy. She beamed with excitement the day she came to pick up her uniform for school. It was the same uniform we had made for her two years ago when she was so sick she wasn’t able to start school. She has missed two years of school because of her kidney failure. This year, it fit her perfectly except for the length. Two years…and she is as small as she was when she was 12 only taller. But the smile on her face was electrifying. It was a good day.

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Today, however, is NOT a good day. On September 21st, I checked on LyniaNara, and her sister, Daphka, told me that she was able to get to her dialysis clinic that day with no problem. I told Daphka to let me know if they have any difficulty in the days ahead. On Sunday, Daphka texted me and said they could not find gas to prepare to go to dialysis on Tuesday. The search began for an ambulance that could go get her immediately. I was hoping this would be easy, but it was not. Most likely, if we managed to get LyniaNara to the dialysis center, she would need to stay nearby for the rest of the week so that she could return for more dialysis, so I reached out to the expat community looking for a place for her to stay. We contacted the guest house where she stayed last time the country locked down, but HERO Rescue said that would be too far from her dialysis center for them to get her there. After hours of searching and inquiring, a Haitian doctor contacted me named Dr. Junior Etienne. He works with MSPP and he began looking for a a guest house that was closer. He managed to find one that was a short walking distance from the dialysis center. Whew! This was a relief! Now to figure out how to get her there…

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LyniaNara getting dialysis at Alliance the last time she was critical

All day Sunday, we worked with HERO and CAN and Dr. Etienne on trying to find someone who could get her to the dialysis center. Because of the gang that has been terrorizing anyone and everyone on the highway between Croix des Bouquet and Ganthier (our city), we could not find anyone willing to take her and we couldn’t find any ambulance service that could come out to get her. The roads were filled with debris from protests and burning tires, and gangs were shooting at any vehicle trying to pass through.

Everyone was paralyzed. Daphka said that LyniaNara was hanging in there, but her feet were starting to swell. Daphka went to Hope Center to ask Didier to get some lasix from the pharmacy. He got her fixed up and that bought her a bit more time…

Monday, we continued to work on finding a way to get LyniaNara to dialysis. We called HERO Rescue, CAN Ambulance Service, and even looked for possible helicopters that could come. No luck… We were hopeful when Daphka texted and said that CAN Ambulance service had called her and told her to get ready that they were going to try to come get her. I told her to go to Hope Center and ask Didier to charge her phone and give her money and food for the trip and stay at the guesthouse. He instructed her to divide up her money and hide it in various places. Reserve 5000 gds in her bag to use as bribe money in case they run into any gangs on the way demanding payment for passage. Didier took care of everything. We waited….. and waited…… no ambulance. We later found out that one of the CAM Ambulances had been ambushed while on another call and the vehicle was torn completely up. Their other ambulance had no tires left because of hitting debris in the streets. The ambulance was not coming.

LyniaNara’s health was declining rapidly. I checked back with HERO as well as Doctor Etienne and both said that the roads were just too dangerous to ask anyone to travel and it was the same on my end. We had just gotten word that Dieudonne, our orphanage administrator, had tried to go get food for the kids at the orphanage and was ambushed by the gangs as he tried to enter the highway. The truck was shot five times and windows shot out. Dieudonne managed to get away, but he had to leave the truck. The gang seized the truck.  We eventually found the truck and negotiated to get it back. We knew at that point that there was no hope of getting LyniaNara out.

This morning, I was awakened by a steady ding on my telephone as one text after another started coming through. Didier was texting me to say that LyniaNara was in bad shape. Dr. Etienne was texting me to see if we had come up with another plan. Alex, the owner of the dialysis center was texting to see if I had heard from LyniaNara. Everyone was worried and none of us knew what to do. I began to pray, “Oh God, help me figure this out! Show us the way!!” Then it hit me! We negotiated with the gang to get our truck back; perhaps we could negotiate with the gang to let us through with LyniaNara. After making some calls, we managed to get the gang to agree to let our driver pass through in our shot up truck with LyniaNara and take her as far as Croix des Bouquet. We would have to pay the gang 5000 gds to get safe passage. 5000 gds….. That is the exact amount Daphka had put in her bag for negotiation. God reminded me that He goes before us….

I called Dr. Etienne and he began making arrangements to meet our driver in our truck in Croix des Bouquet. I contacted Daphka and told her to be ready, reminding her of Isaiah 41:10 that says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” She sent a picture of her and LyniaNara in the truck getting ready to head to Croix des Bouquet. We are now praying that God hold them all in his “righteous right hand” and give them safe passage to the dialysis center and give our driver safe passage back to Hope Center. They all must pass through very dangerous areas.

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LyniaNara and Daphka in the truck getting ready to pass through the gangs to get to the dialysis clinic

We are now calling out to everyone we know that believes in the power of God to move mountains. Please pray for their safety to get to the dialysis center. Please pray that the dialysis can restore LyniaNara to good health. Pray that the girls remain safe in the guesthouse in the days to come. Pray that Meresse and Elorge can return safely to Hope Center. THANK GOD for people like Didier, Elorge, Meresse, Dieudonne, Dr. Etienne, HERO, CAN, and countless other brave people who are doing all they can to maintain things while the country falls apart.

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Dr. Etienne now has LyniaNara and Daphka with him and they are heading up to Canapé Vert to the dialysis center

Pray that Haiti will be restored to peace and that people can find the food and provisions they need to return to normal life. Pray for God to move over all aspects of this time of chaos in Haiti. Oh God, please move!!

We wait on the Lord and we pray and trust that order will be restored to Haiti soon and we can get back to doing what God called us all to do. Haiti is a BEAUTIFUL place with AMAZING and RESILIENT people. I look forward to the day when Tony and I can return and embrace the people who have worked so hard to maintain life as best they can in this situation. They are HEROES.

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Be Still My Heart

Over the past three weeks, I have had a lot of time. Normally, time is something I DO NOT have a lot of. Our daily lives are usually very hectic and pulled in a thousand different directions. However, when Tony and I left on June 6th to go to Fort Lauderdale, FL, for a quick anniversary weekend, we had no idea that our little get away would turn into a three-week+ hiatus. We left on June 6th and have had to cancel 3 return flights already because we were advised that it wasn’t safe to return yet. So here we wait….(I’m not a fan of sitting.)

I have asked the Lord many time why we have not been allowed to return to our mission in Haiti during this time. I have watched from afar as other missionary friends of ours have continued to carry on their work in places not far from ours, and I ask, “Lord, why is it they can be there and we can’t?” Although I have seen and heard accounts of the political turmoil Haiti is in and the violence that has ensued as a result, I still ask God why?! Why can’t we just hunker down and wait it out? Why do we have to sit over here waiting and doing nothing? Why have so many teams had to cancel…again? Why? Why? Why?!!!!!

Then the Lord quietly speaks to my spirit and He just says, “Trust me, and pray.”

So every day my first prayer is, “Lord help me to trust You!”

Here we are in the middle of a huge campaign to build a new school, build over 140 desks, 15 chalk boards, purchase teacher desks, filing cabinets, chairs, cooking equipment, and the list goes on and on… and at the same time, teams can’t come in and help! When the flow of teams stops, they use the funds they raised to recover their financial losses or redirect them to another mission, and that leaves our little village standing here with our hands held out, reaching towards Heaven for provision, tears running down our cheeks, begging God to help us trust HIM to provide. …and He asks, “Is that such a bad thing?” ….I am broken. After all, who has provided every other blessing we have received for this village over the last 7 years? Where is my faith? Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” This is a promise that I have learned to COUNT on, and yet I still get anxious.

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We KNOW that God has led us to this point of building our own school. And we KNOW that God moved people even before we began the campaign to contribute to the construction of the school. We’ve been walking on water here!! We know that God has continued to move people to help and support…and yet I get anxious! I begin to sink. Why? …and God says, “THIS is the question you should be asking. WHY do you get anxious?!” His word says, ““Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world” (Psalm 46:10). YES!! This school WILL honor Him! So I pray for His Holy Spirit to still my heart. I pray that no anxiety be allowed to stir my spirit, but that my full trust and faith in Him cause my spirit to be steadfast and calm. …and I pray that He continue to move people to give and support and pray so that HE may be glorified even in these hard times.

The enemy wants me to become disappointed and lose faith. The enemy wants me to worry when I post a request for child sponsors and only two people respond. The enemy wants my disappointment to shake my faith in God’s ability to move His people when I look a the huge financial deficit this political turmoil has brought upon our ability to carry on the very basic tasks set before us. My heart breaks when I have to tell a teenager who lost her sponsor that she can’t go to school next year if she doesn’t get a sponsor. So I don’t tell her. I just pray and ask God to move someone out there to choose her. “But what if they make excuses and don’t choose her?” I ask God. Again, His response is “TRUST ME. I know who to move.”

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So to answer my first question of WHY we are here, He reminds me that HE is God and that I must be still and trust Him….and pray. Will you join me in praying for God to continue to move in our little village and to provide all of the resources needed to build this school, sponsor these kids, and pay our staff to carry on the work needed to be done even when we can’t be there? Will you step out of the boat in faith with me and ask God how He wants to use you? Walking on water can be amazing and a bit scary at the same time, but when we step out in faith to His call, and we realize, “Hey! I’m WALKING ON WATER HERE….WITH JESUS!” Then it gets to be pretty exciting! Just look…….

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So these are my biggest concerns right now, and they are the reason I pour out my heart in words on this post. I can’t look at others and compare my own situation to theirs. I shouldn’t ask why God has me here while they are there and let the enemy turn my questions to anxiety. I simply must focus my eyes and thoughts on God’s guidance and His abundance of provision. I’m here to wait on Him and to TRUST Him. And pretty soon, He’s going to have me walking on water with him again. I can’t wait to get my feet wet!

Here are ways you can help:

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PRAY –

  • Pray that God will move in the political situation in Haiti.
  • Pray that God will continue to provide for the building and opening of the school.
  • Pray that He will speak through us as we have difficult conversations with local leaders.
  • Pray that He will replace lost revenue due to team cancellations so that we can continue to pay the staff that is currently running things in our absence.
  • Pray that He will provide leadership and healing in the local church at Hope Center.

SUPPORT –

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Their Hope Will NOT be Shaken!

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Every year, high school students all over Haiti gather at designated locations to take a three-day National exam, and it determines whether or not they can pass to the next grade. It is an extremely important exam. Over the last three years, our students have significantly raised the bar in the Ouest Department gaining national recognition for their impressive results.

This year, BGM High School has about 50 students taking the exam. Of the 50, 39 are sponsored. Their sponsors paid for their exam and they even received scientific calculators to use on Wednesday when they take the mathematics portion. They have worked so hard to prepare for this test. They have gone to study groups every weekend for months. We are so proud of them. We are praying for much success!

Sadly, the country of Haiti has been in disarray again over the last few weeks. The opposition groups that want to remove the president from office are funding gangs to wreak havoc upon the country to force the president to resign. A few days ago, they announced that they would shut down the roads this week with fire, rocks, and much violence in order to prevent students from being able to attend the exams. Last night, I texted our Superintendent, Moliere Arcel, and asked him if our students were going to be able to attend theirs. He said that the exams had not been cancelled, and the students were making plans to go. Today, I was told that Dieudonne and Bicly left early this morning to the testing site for Bicly to take his exam. I continued praying……

We all know how much pressure big comprehensive exams are. Can you imagine how difficult it is to concentrate on an exam while knowing there could be a gang of thugs outside trying to shut it down? Can you imagine knowing that your entire year of school depends on this one exam and there are citizens from your own country trying to block it? My heart just breaks…. Please pray for our precious students as well as all students across Haiti who are taking this exam in spite of the odds against them. They are so brave. Their hope WILL NOT be shaken!

……Please join me in praying for our students. Please continue to pray for peace in Haiti. Pray for clarity and pray for safety. It’s hard to know what is true and what is not true in situations like this. The ones who suffer the most in times like these are the ones who suffer daily under the oppression of a grossly lopsided economic divide. These are our friends and Haitian family. They carry on knowing that God is their provider and He is in control. What amazing faith they have!! Join me in covering them in prayer, please.

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It begins with a click….

One thing we as Americans take for granted is the availability of education. For most of us, whether or not our child will be able to go to school each year has never been a concern to cross our minds. School is compulsory, and it’s just a natural part of every American child’s life. This is not the case in Haiti. Although there are public schools, they aren’t really free, and parents have to pay for transportation to get them there. For villages that are not on the main roads with easy access to transportation, the only choice for education is the small, private school in the village. These private schools are dependent upon tuition to pay their teachers and pay for supplies to run the school. Most families in remote villages with little income cannot afford to pay this tuition, so the result is hundreds of kids not going to school and many small private schools with inadequate facilities and teaching staff.

God led us to change this situation for the children of the village of Galette Chambon, Haiti, where we live. It all began with the BGM Child Sponsorship Program. It has totally revolutionized education in our village. No longer do children in our village have to worry about whether or not they can go to school. They no longer have to take turns between siblings going to school because their parents can only afford to send one child at a time. As long as we can find sponsors, these kids can go to school for free. This is a huge miracle!

Our BGM Child Sponsorship program has been going on now for about five years, and as the years tick by, sponsorships change hands. As this school year comes to an end, we have a significantly long list of students in the program who have lost their sponsor for one reason or another, and they now need a new one in order to continue with school in the Fall. We have not notified their parents yet because we would really prefer to find a new sponsor before it comes to that. If you have ever considered sponsoring a child, please check out our website and pray about sponsoring one of these children. It’s only $37/month and every single penny of the money goes to the child’s education. BGM does not use one cent of sponsorship money for administrative costs. Your sponsorship pays for the child’s tuition, uniform, books, backpack, supplies, a hot meal every day for ALL students, teacher salaries, school supplies, school improvements, and the list goes on and on…but it ALL goes to the school.

Please consider sponsoring one of these children today! I really don’t want to have to go to any of these children and tell them they can’t go to school next year because they lost their sponsor. Some have been sponsored for five years now. Surely there are people out there who have felt led but just haven’t done it yet. Today is the day…. It begins with a click:

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