I am a bit delayed in posting the following post. I prepared it right after the Freedom Christian Fellowship team left, but there were a couple of things I had to add in before posting. Life never seems to slow down, however, around Hope Center, so days clicked by and they turned to weeks. So now that i have a few minutes to reflect and edit my post, I’m finally posting my recollections of the week Freedom Christian Fellowship came, and it makes me miss them all over again. We love you guys!!
It is never easy to say goodbye to our brothers and sisters in Christ. However, after a full week of more activities than I can count, the team from Freedom Christian Fellowship loaded the bus to head back home, leaving tear stains on my face as I hugged each one and watched them climb the steps of the bus. Telling them goodbye is like letting go of something that is precious to you, because you know you have no choice. All you can do is hold onto the memories and know that your prayers for one another keep you close until next time. Sounds like family right? Well they are indeed family to us. We always cherish their time here and this week was no different.
Pastors Dean Smith, Brad Smith, and Brian Miller and their team hold a very special place in our hearts and we know Haiti holds a very special place in theirs. Pastor Dean Smith from Freedom Christian Fellowship in Gautier, MS, has been leading pastor’s conferences here in our area for three years now. When he comes, he always brings a team of amazing people with him who show the love of Jesus in many, many ways. The pastors here know he loves them not only because he tells them so, but because he comes back. Tony and I know he genuinely loves us too. He and his brother Brad and their dear friend Brian Miller and ALL of their team members will always hold a dear place in our hearts.
It was a crazy, busy week. Besides the pastor’s conference, the team was also busy with other things happening all over Hope Center. Dean and Brian brought their daughters, Rachel and Macy along this time, and their favorite activity was playing with the kids at the orphanage. Because it was the week before Easter, and the kids were out of school, our intern Rachel had daily activities planned for them leading up to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. Every day Alex would lead them in a Bible story, they would sing songs, and they would make a craft that held some sort of significance to the Easter story. While this was going on, Brenda and Jane were leading a Motherhood Seminar.
I have been planning and looking forward to starting these Motherhood Seminars for quite some time. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time to periodically have teams come and spend a week teaching expectant mothers about pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care. I mentioned the idea in an email to Brenda before they came, and as Dean said, she took the idea on with a vengeance. She put together an amazing week of loving on these mothers, stressing to them that they were chosen by God to be the mother of this child, and that He had equipped each one of them to be able to care for her baby. There were only five mothers who participated in the seminar this week, but I am sure that as teams come and continue the teaching, more and more will come and learn about how beautiful it is to be a mother. Thank you Brenda and Jane for taking this on! You have started something wonderful!
Throughout the week, two of the team members helped in the clinic. Tom and Jonathan were amazing help in the clinic. Unfortunately Tony came down with some sort of virus, so it was great to have someone so knowledgeable and equipped to stand in for him in the clinic. Tom and Jonathan took care of many medical needs in the clinic and Tony didn’t have a thing to worry about. He certainly wanted to be able to be in there working with them, but it was a relief knowing that God had provided capable hands during this time. We are so grateful for the love they showed to the people who entered the doors of our clinic this week.
It seems like with almost every team that comes, God provides a handy man in the group because He knows that we have so many needs here that just require the attention of someone who knows how to fix it. This week was no different. We have had fans sitting in the depot for several weeks. Al Subblefield from Pensacola gave them to us to put up in the breezeway to help keep the air moving and provide softer lighting at night. Among many other “fix-it things” that needed to get done, Phillip and Matthew jumped right on the fan installation and did a wonderful job. Throughout the week, they helped with other things as well. They helped Charles and Junior get the post holes dug for the garden fence; they worked on the generator; they helped with VBS for the village kids two days, and one night they even held a youth praise and worship event for teenagers in the village. They were some versatile and busy guys all week! We are grateful for their talents and servant’s heart.
I certainly can’t talk about this week without also mentioning two very special people we had with us who were not a part of the FCF team, but they were definitely a VITAL part of our Hope Center team this week. We have had two short-term interns here with us in the last few weeks, and as always, they have been a HUGE help and made an amazing contribution to the ministry of Hope Center. Kelly Dukes and Leyna Hendley have been here before at different times, but it was definitely God’s plan for them to be here at the same time during this week. Again, God provided who we needed when we needed them, and Leyna and Kelly were right where God wanted them to be….Hope Center.
Kelly’s expertise as a paralegal was extremely valuable this week in helping Tony with paperwork in the clinic. Tony has been working hard to get our clinic working under Haiti Ministry of Health standards, and with that comes a LOT of record keeping. Kelly took on the task of entering patient records into the computer and assigning dossier numbers to all of them. She spent HOURS on the papers, and she helped Tony find his way out of a mountain of paper work. Not only did she help with this, but she also took on registration in the pastor’s conference, made the coffee each day for the team and pastor’s conference, helped us prepare lunch plates for all the pastors, as well as many, many other odds and end things that she gladly took on to help out. It’s always good to have Kelly around, and we are so thankful to have had these few weeks with her at Hope Center.
Leyna is one of those people who has a contagious, genuine love for Jesus, and every single person she comes in contact with can see it and feel it in her smile and her touch. I truly believe that she sees every moment she has interacting with people as an opportunity to show the love of Jesus and allow that person to introduce her to a new experience in life. Leyna spent her time here at Hope Center doing many things. She helped Hannah with the girls and homeschooling; she helped in the pharmacy; she helped Vierge and Marie Therese in the kitchen; she helped prepare the lunch plates for the pastor’s conference; and she absolutely LOVED it when she had opportunities to go into the village and connect with people. Leyna and I had three very special occasions when we were able to visit and love on people together. One was when we went to Bicly’s house because his mother had invited us to come eat pigeon! Leyna has an adventurous streak in her, and she loves to experience other cultures. Rachel and I went with her to Bicly’s and we all had a delicious meal of pigeon and bread and sauce sitting at Bicly’s dinner table and enjoying great company. Another special time was when we went back to Bicly’s and shared in worship with his family and neighbors at a revival service they were having. We prayed and sang with them and worshipped our Father together, and I am so thankful for this time she and I shared with these precious people. Lastly, Leyna and I had an opportunity to minister to a young woman on the way home from Bicly’s house, and I think this was probably a highlight in her time here at Hope Center. When we were walking back to Hope Center from Bicly’s house, we came upon a young woman walking on the main road. We began to initiate conversation with her and we found out that she had been to the clinic and needed to go get her husband and go to the hospital in Croix des Bouquets. She didn’t feel well and she had no money to pay for food or transportation to Croix des Bouquets, so she had a very long walk ahead of her. When Leyna and I arrived back at Hope Center, we grabbed up the keys to the truck and a got a little money from Tony and headed out looking for her on the road. We found her, pulled over the truck, and asked her if she wanted a ride. She climbed into the truck and immediately fell apart in tears. It was obvious that she was overwhelmed. I could tell that she had been praying for God to help her, and in minutes, He answered her prayer by sending us to give her a ride. As we rode, we talked about the love of Jesus and how God knows our needs. Along the way, Leyna and I realized we had rushed out of Hope Center without our passports and I didn’t even have my purse or driver’s license. We immediately prayed for protection and favor and trusted God to do just that as we went on our way to Croix des Bouquet. By the time we arrived at the house where her husband was working, she had a totally different countenance. She was smiling, happy, and grateful. Leyna and I had no doubt that God had used us to remind this lady of His love for her and that He provides for our needs.
To recount every exciting event that happened throughout the week would take forever, so I will spare you the reading. I do, however, want to thank each of you who pray for us and for those who come serve here with us. There is no telling how many lives are changed every single week around here as people share the love of Jesus with people who depend completely on God’s provision for their every single need. Oh that we could all come to that place when we realize that HE is Lord and Bondye Konnen!! (God knows).
We are thankful for another amazing week with the Freedom Christian Fellowship team and Leyna and Kelly. We look forward to the day you all return and share your love for Jesus with the people of our village.