Tag Archives: Ganthier

BGM – Galette Chambon – Child Sponsorship is LAUNCHED! Hallelujah!!

It’s finally ready! What an exciting answer to prayer! I have been praying for God to make a way for the children in our village to not only go to school but be able to have a daily meal provided for them for at least two years, and it’s finally happening! Child Sponsorships for the children of Galette Chambon have begun, and the response has already been awesome!

Go to the But God Ministries home page and click How to Get Involved

Go to the But God Ministries home page and click How to Get Involved

It started two years ago when I applied for Feed My Starving Children to admit us into a feeding program through a local distributor. We were denied because we were trying to feed too many children at once, and it would not be sustainable. My heart was broken, but then I also understood. I began praying for God to provide another way. All I wanted was to see children go to school and for them to be fed. In my prayer, I said, “Lord, I know you want us to care for these children and feed them as well. Your Word is FULL of commands to care for the children and the poor, and we have a village full of hungry children. Show us how, and we will run with it.” ….and He did! The folks up in Thoman had already been running a successful child sponsorship program and over 400 children in that village were getting a daily meal at school. Although we had already been sending kids to school in our village, the money we had to send them wasn’t nearly enough to feed all of them. Although they are so thankful that we help them go to school, we knew that empty stomachs meant zero learning. So we began looking into starting the same program in Galette Chambon.

Click on the link to sponsor a child in Galette Chambon

Click on the link to sponsor a child in Galette Chambon

We are starting with 25 children. Twelve are from Pastor Johel’s school and 13 are from Professor Salomon’s school. These are the two schools we have been sponsoring for three years now. As children are sponsored, we will add more to the program. For every sponsorship, you send one child to school, paying for his/her tuition, uniform, books, exams, etc., which is great! However, once we get 50 children sponsored, it gets even better! Once we get 50 sponsored, every sponsorship will feed FOUR children and we can begin buying the rice, beans, oil, etc. to start preparing meals for ALL of the kids to have EVERY day after school. The cost is $37 per month. You are given a choice of using SimpleGive through the BGM website or bank draft. If you use SimpleGive, that host company charges a processing fee which makes it $38.50. Bank draft, I believe, is a flat $37 per month.

Click on the link for each child to read a bit more about him or her. There is a link on each page that you can click to take you to the sponsorship form. The link says

Click on the link for each child to read a bit more about him or her. There is a link on each page that you can click to take you to the sponsorship form. The link says “Click here to sponsor me!”

Throughout this post, I have inserted pictures. These pictures show you how to get to the sponsorship page and how to sponsor a child. Please take some time to go to the But God Ministries page and click the links to meet our children. Or better yet, here’s a link directly to the page: BUT GOD MINISTRIES GC-SPONSORSHIP

As you look at their faces, ask God if He would make a way for you to help one of these go to school.

When God shared His vision with Tony four years ago – the same vision He had given Stan Buckley and others at FBC Jackson – He said to Tony, “What good will it do the people of Haiti for you to take one child out of the country when I want to use you to change a generation?” THESE are the faces of that generation!! These are the children God wants to use to bring revival to a land that has lived in hunger for far too long. The vision has been happening in so many ways over the last three years, but THIS step is one that excites me more than others because this is a huge step towards changing a generation. Thank you for sharing in my excitement over this! Thank you for your prayers for our ministry here! And thank you for each and every way you support what God is doing through But God Ministries.

God Bless You!!

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Child Sponsorships Coming Soon to Galette Chambon!!…EXCITED!

I am so excited to announce that possibly next week, people will have an opportunity to go to the BGM website and sponsor children from our village! Each sponsorship will not only pay all expenses for the child’s school, but once we reach 50 sponsorships in each of the two schools we support, we will be able to start a feeding program that will feed ALL of the kids in the school. In other words, one sponsorship pays one child’s school, but it FEEDS FOUR! EVERY DAY! THIS IS HUGE!!

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For those of you who don’t know, little rural villages like ours are full of bright children willing to learn, but their families struggle to provide food for them much less tuition for school. The average income in our little village is about $400 per year. Their annual tuition is only $25 per year, but they also have to purchase uniforms, books, school supplies, and they pay separately for all exams. It comes up to about a fourth of their annual income! The schools really need more than this to be able to pay their teachers and provide adequate classroom space for the children, but they also have to offer education at a price that more people in the village can afford or no one would go to school! Many of the schools just allow some kids to go to school without paying and their teachers go without being paid often as well. It’s just a very difficult situation.

All of the children gathered outside the school for the pledge and national anthem before school.

All of the children gathered outside the school for the pledge and national anthem before school.

BUT GOD….is making a way to change all of that! We have been doing the child sponsorship program up in Thoman now for a couple of years, and it is working out very well. They now have enough kids being sponsored that they are able to prepare a meal of rice and beans every day and feed every child in the school a good meal before they leave. For most of these kids, this is the only meal they will get all day! However, with a daily meal being served, these kids will not go hungry and they will be able to learn better! Praise the Lord!!

Students waiting for school to start

Students waiting for school to start

James 2:14-18 says, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith BY my works.” THIS is where we experience REAL faith. It is when we say with our mouths that we believe in the power of a living God and then we MOVE in faith to help care for someone in need. If God calls you to do it, He will also make a way for you to be able to do it. You will not only witness the miracle of provision every month, but you will also be able to see it taking place in a child’s life in our village as we post pictures of them throughout the year. You can even come visit them or send pictures or packages to them! It’s more than just a sponsorship program; it’s a relationship of ministry with a child in need. Please pray about it!

soloman's kids

I am going to post a slide show below previewing all of the kids we will post soon. I will also post a link here to the  BGM page so you can check periodically for the sponsorships to go live. We already have a link to Sponsorships in Thoman with pictures of the kids in the program there. However, soon you will be able to sponsor kids in our village of Galette Chambon – many of them you probably even know if you have visited Hope Center! After all 25 of these are sponsored, we will add 25 more. We are trusting that very soon, all 100 kids will be sponsored and we will be ready to start the feeding program!

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God Continues to do AMAZING Things!

I tell myself all the time that I need to set aside more time to write, but if you have ever spent time here at Hope Center, you know that time is a precious commodity, and time to write is rare. I do recognize the importance of communication though, so I am always looking for opportunities to sneak off and write a post. Today I am going to try really hard to get this done because there is SOOOO much I want to share!

Hope Center....

Hope Center….

As I sit here typing, I can hear the sounds of Hope Center outside my door, and they are ever changing and ever encouraging. The sounds are more quiet today than usual. I hear Fedna singing as she washes sheets from the clinic. I hear the wind blowing through the papaya trees, and I hear the rooster crow and chickens answer back in unified clucks. There’s a lone mother goat outside the wall calling to her two newborn kids, and it brings a reflective smile to my face as I remember how excited the team was last night to be able to hold one of the baby goats in their arms after church. The team has gone up to Thoman for a hike to the river, and Tony and Vladimir have gone to Leoganne to take baby Francesca to see an orthopedic surgeon who we are hoping can help her with her feet. The house is quiet,and I am savoring the opportunity to remember and write.

Some of you may be wondering who Francesca is. She is one of several patients that God has led us to help in more extensive ways because they need more care than what we can give in the medical clinic here. Francesca was born without feet. We believe it was caused by amniotic bands that twisted around her ankles during development and caused her feet not to develop. One leg still has an open wound on it and the other is completely closed off.

Baby Francesca born without feet because of amniotic bands.

Baby Francesca born without feet because of amniotic bands.

After taking her to a local hospital, we have been providing wound care and education to her mother and aunt every day. Last week, God led me to contact Mike Wilson with My Life Speaks over near Leoganne. I simply asked him for advice since he deals with special needs children all the time. Lo and Behold, he said that an orthopedic doctor would be in town this week as well as an infectious disease doctor who could both take a look at Francesca’s legs and make a plan for her care. Once Tony and Valdimir arrived in Leoganne with Francesca, the doctor told them that there is a doctor in Texas that is going to start making prosthesis for children who are referred to him by Mike. Mike said that Francesca will probably be his first patient, and he is going to do it all for free! Praise the Lord!!

Francesca and her aunt

Francesca and her aunt

Every time I have an opportunity to stop and think about everything going on around here, I am overwhelmed by the many ways God is moving in our village and through our ministry. It isn’t US that is doing these things. It’s GOD who is constantly moving, providing, and building this community in astounding ways. WE are not capable of doing what’s been done here. We are only instruments that He uses to answer prayers, bless lives, and build His kingdom. It’s amazing…..

Besides Francesca, we have been working hard to advocate for several others that have come to our attention and been given special provision through the Hand of God. A few months back we saw a little boy named Daniel in our clinic and Tony diagnosed him with an umbilical hernia. I found out that some general surgeons were going to be doing hernia surgeries at a nearby hospital, so I made contact with the lead doctor there and he asked me to bring Daniel to the hospital for the surgeons to examine. I ended up taking Daniel as well as his brother and another boy named Brayence to see the doctors, and it was discovered that all three had issues with maldevelopment of genitalia. Daniel’s brother received surgery already and Daniel and Brayence are now having tests run and are scheduled to have surgery in August. God has provided in miraculous ways!

Daniel and Brayence while on their way to see the doctor

Daniel and Brayence while on their way to see the doctor

Another patient I would love for you all to be praying for is Graycey. She was born the week that FBC Madison was here and she and a baby boy were born here on the same day! Two days later, Graycey’s parents noticed something wrong with their baby and they took her to a nearby clinic because ours was closed. (It must have been on a Wednesday) The doctor at Love a Child referred her to a cardiologist in Port au Prince and he did a sonogram and EKG. They discovered that Graycey has a heart defect. She apparently has fluid build up around her heart. We contacted someone with Haiti Cardiac Alliance and they have agreed to take her case which means they will do her surgery for free! Please be praying for Graycey and her family as they wait for her to be old enough and weigh enough to safely have the surgery she needs. She has to be six month old and weigh 8-10 kg. Pray for God to hold her steady until then!

Graycey and her family before going to see the cardiologist for a workup and referral to Haiti Cardiac Alliance

Graycey and her family before going to see the cardiologist for a workup and referral to Haiti Cardiac Alliance

Since my last post, Jesula has continued to see the doctor at Bernard Mevs Cancer Center and has now started chemo treatments. Her breast cancer is still horrific, but it is slowly but surely shrinking, and the last time I called to check on her, her voice was much stronger and she sounded hopeful. She is now staying with a family member closer to Port au Prince, so they are getting her back and forth to the hospital. This is a huge relief and answer to prayer!!

Jesula has a terrible breast tumor that has to be cleaned daily and causes her intense pain. She is now receiving chemotherapy in a cancer center in Port au Prince

Jesula has a terrible breast tumor that has to be cleaned daily and causes her intense pain. She is now receiving chemotherapy in a cancer center in Port au Prince

Many of you have been praying for a young lady named Marise for over a year. She was the 11 year old who came to a mobile clinic we did in Thoman last year and she had two bones sticking out of her leg from an injury she experienced two years prior!

Marise and her sister when she first came to our mobile clinic in Thoman.

Marise and her sister when she first came to our mobile clinic in Thoman.

The next week I showed her picture to a doctor from Meridian named Dr. Freddy Grant. He was horrified by what she must go through every day climbing up and down the mountain to get water for her family. God burdened Freddy’s heart for Marise, and he began praying for God to make a way for him to help her. Last week Freddy came to Haiti, hiked with Terry Warren to find her in the remote village where she lives, explained to her mother that he had found an orthopedic surgeon willing to help her, and they all went to Carrefour to do the surgery! I cannot tell you what a huge miracle all of this is – for it to all take place in ONE WEEK!!

Sweet smile Marise gave Dr. Freddy Grant before her surgery

Sweet smile Marise gave Dr. Freddy Grant before her surgery

Many people in remote villages do not believe in modern medicine, so for Dr. Grant to convince Marise’s mother to go with him, a total stranger, who has told her she may not return to her village for over a month, is huge. I believe the many people who were praying for God to move in this situation were very instrumental in keeping the enemy at bay and placing a God-given peace and trust in Marise’s mother’s heart to cooperate with the plan.

Marise getting ready for surgery on her leg

Marise getting ready for surgery on her leg

Now Marise is in recovery from her surgery.

Marise in the hospital in Carrefour being prepped for surgery

Marise in the hospital in Carrefour being prepped for surgery

It went incredibly well and she was actually released from the hospital today! She and her mother have a place to stay in Carrefour as well as transportation back and forth to the doctor for follow-up care. All of their meals, lodging, and transportation has been paid for by generous donors that Dr. Grant contacted before the trip. There is a pastor there in Carrefour who is allowing them to stay with him and his wife, and they are looking after her care. All of these things do not come together so smoothly on their own. God has moved in a miraculous way! Thank you for praying for God to move in this young lady’s life. He is answering your prayers!

We also had several teams that built houses for families in our village. A group of girls from Natchez built a house for one of my English students and his family. The team from Beersheba Pres built a house in the village for an elderly couple and their grandchildren. And the group from FBC Jackson built a house for Bicly’s uncle who was living in the same mud hut he was born in over 50 years ago. And then the Team from Pensacola built a house just last week in our village! There is nothing like the feeling of handing over the keys to a family who has been living in deplorable conditions and seeing the look of joy and thanksgiving on their faces. God is so good!!

Some of the girls from the Natchez team with Nicoderm and his family after they built their house

Some of the girls from the Natchez team with Nicoderm and his family after they built their house

Beersheba Pres Team in front of the house they built for a family in our village

Beersheba Pres Team in front of the house they built for a family in our village

FBC Jackson group in front of the house they built for Bicly's uncle in our village

FBC Jackson group in front of the house they built for Bicly’s uncle in our village

Teams that have come in the last couple of months have built school desks, cabinets, chicken coups, and finished the terrace garden. It absolutely amazes me how much hard work and buzzing around teams do when they are here. One of the newest things we have added to the agenda here is a Motherhood Seminar. The lack of education in our village regarding childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care is detrimental to healthy births and child development. We have asked God to lead one team per month to host a seminar that covers pregnancy to newborn care and everything in between. So far we have had four seminars and the response has been tremendous! We invite up to 20 pregnant mothers for each seminar and they have learned so much that will be helpful for them and healthy for their new baby! The teams that have done seminars so far have been Freedom Christian Fellowship out of Gautier, FBC Brandon, Beersheba Presbyterian, and Colonial Heights. They have all done an incredible job! We are looking forward to seeing many positive outcomes from these seminars!

Motherhood seminar at Hope Center hosted by FBC Brandon for women in our village who are expecting babies

Motherhood seminar at Hope Center hosted by FBC Brandon for women in our village who are expecting babies

It amazes us how many professionals come here to Hope Center and use their skills and profession to minister to people in our village. We have had plumbers, carpenters, electricians, business professionals, educators, medical professionals, and the list goes on and on – all giving of themselves and their expertise to minister to people here. Below are some pictures from when The University of Alabama Culverhouse School of Business came and helped people in our village with business plans and computer programs!

Culverhouse School of Business students working with people from the village on business plans

Culverhouse School of Business students working with people from the village on business plans

The UA Culverhouse School of Business working with people from the village on computer programs

The UA Culverhouse School of Business working with people from the village on computer programs

As But God Ministries seeks to help grow the economy in our village here, more and more people are being blessed with the opportunity to make an income with their own gifts and talents. Two men from our village doing just that are Makil Geoffrard and Nathan Fenelus. Makil has been doing very well with his chicken business as he incubates eggs and grows the chickens to sell. Last month he sold over 100 chickens! Nathan is a tailor and he has started Nathan’s Shoppe Tailleur d’Espoir (Nathan’s Tailor Shop of Hope). He has started making pencil bags for DotProducts and they are selling very well! He has already started working on his second big order!!

Nathan showing off the pencil bags he made for DotProducts #entrepreneur

Nathan showing off the pencil bags he made for DotProducts #entrepreneur

Makil's chicken business is BOOMING! He is praising God for provision.

Makil’s chicken business is BOOMING! He is praising God for provision.

Recently we had a huge eye clinic and dental clinic here. The dental team from Lake, MS, led by Dr. Jimmy Hollingsworth, saw hundreds of patients and pulled even more teeth. I cannot tell you what an instant relief this is for someone who is in intense pain and cannot eat or even sleep because of it. They come here swollen and crying for help and they leave here completely pain free! While they are here, they hear about the love of Jesus and how God has provided this clinic and these resources as an answer to prayers in our village.

Jimmy Hollingsworth and friends from Lake, MS, hosting a dental clinic

Jimmy Hollingsworth and friends from Lake, MS, hosting a dental clinic

Last week we had a huge eye clinic. An optometrist named Lauren Eaton came with the Colonial Heights team and they saw hundreds of people, giving them eye exams and glasses if they needed them. They saw one pastor who was pretty much legally blind and could hardly see to go up the steps into the clinic. When he left, he had a pair of really strong glasses, and for the first time in years, he could see everything in front of him! He was praising Jesus for such a wonderful gift of sight!

This sweet man entered the clinic blind and left the clinic able to see!!

This sweet man entered the clinic blind and left the clinic able to see!!

Several of the team members who were entering records on the other side of the room said theirs was the best seat in the house because they got to see the looks on people’s faces when they could see well for the first time in years. What a blessing that was! Praise the Lord!!

Lauren Eaton from Colonial Heights team doing an eye clinic

Lauren Eaton from Colonial Heights team doing an eye clinic

The teams that have come in the past couple of months have been AMAZING! What am I talking about?…. ALL of the teams that come to Hope Center are AMAZING! I am not sure if I have group pictures of all of them, but here are a few….

FBC Madison team getting ready to head home after an amazing week of ministry

FBC Madison team getting ready to head home after an amazing week of ministry

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FBC Jackson Team before leaving Hope Center heading home after an amazing week of ministry

FBC Jackson Team before leaving Hope Center heading home after an amazing week of ministry

FBC Brandon group in front of the church

Finally, one of the highlights of our year has been the opportunity to share our home and ministry with family. We can explain all day long what it is like to do God’s work here in Haiti, but to be able to actually share in that work with the people closest to us is just extra special. Our summer began with a very special treat when our son Jonathan and his sweet wife Katelyn came to spend five whole weeks with us!!

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They hit the ground running by working in the pharmacy, helping with English class, helping with VBS, helping host a double wedding, and even got to help deliver a baby or two! The team here this week just commented on how organized the pharmacy is and it is because Jonathan and Katelyn got in there and cleaned it all up and rearranged some things to make it easier to find things.

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We got to go on a three day adventure with them to Jacmel and made a very eventful trip down to the little town of Belle Anse where we got to pay a visit to our friend Brittany Hilker at Reimagine Haiti and sweet Betsy who many of you have been praying over for a year now! Betsy’s recovery from malnutrition has been phenomenal and it is your prayers and God’s provision that have made all the difference in the world for her!

Katelyn and Mickie with Sweet Betsy when we went down to Belle Anse to visit

Katelyn and Mickie with Sweet Betsy when we went down to Belle Anse to visit

It was an absolutely WONDERFUL five weeks with them and it ended with a week spent with the entire Meeks family and the Colonial Heights Team. There are no words to describe how amazing it was to share the week with family like we did. We are so thankful that Jonathan and Katelyn were able to spend so much time here with us and even more thankful that Katelyn was able to have her family here too! This week we have Jacob and Madison here with us, and they will be here for the next three weeks! We are beginning to get very spoiled!! We will post pics of them at the end of their stay.

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Once again, I want to thank you all for the part you play in our lives here at Hope Center. Your prayers and support help make things like these happen every day here. Lives are being changed, souls are being saved, people are being healed, and God’s love is shown every single day here……at HOPE Center.

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Bondye Konnen

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!!

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The Freedom Christian Fellowship team with some of our Hope Center Family: Brian, Jane, Tom, Bicly, Brenda, Johnny, Jonathan, Phillip, Matthew, Dean, Macey, Junior, Fedna, Rachel, and Anel.

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.

The pastors that attended the pastors' conference showing off their certificates at the end of the conference.

The pastors that attended the pastors’ conference showing off their certificates at the end of the conference.

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.

Alex & Rachel lead the Easter Week VBS with the orphanage kids and Rachel & Macey hang out with the kids.

Alex & Rachel lead the Easter Week VBS with the orphanage kids and Rachel & Macey hang out with the kids.

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.

Jane & Barbara talk with the first mother to arrive at the motherhood seminar. Translator JuJu was a tremendous help at the seminar.

Jane & Barbara talk with the first mother to arrive at the motherhood seminar. Translator JuJu was a tremendous help at the 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!

Tom & Jonathan take care of Esther in the clinic.

Tom & Jonathan take care of Esther in the clinic.

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.

Phillip & Matthew putting up fans in the breezeway.

Phillip & Matthew putting up fans in the breezeway.

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.

Kelly, Leyna, and Macey with Marie Francis and Yvnante making plates for the pastors' conference.

Kelly, Leyna, and Macey with Marie Francis and Yvnante making plates for the pastors’ conference.

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 practicing her head-balancing skills while taking plates to the pastors' conference

Kelly practicing her head-balancing skills while taking plates to the pastors’ conference

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 visiting with Bicly's family in the village.

Leyna visiting with Bicly’s family in the village.

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.

Rachel playing with the kids at the orphanage

Rachel playing with the kids at the orphanage

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).

The team at dinner sharing some love for Hannah on her birthday. This cookie is for you!! Happy Birthday Hannah!

The team at dinner sharing some love for Hannah on her birthday. This cookie is for you!! Happy Birthday Hannah!

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.

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Living Stones and Kingdom Work

Some weeks here at Hope Center are quiet. As I sit here writing on my blog, I hear a rooster call in the distance; the guineas in the yard are calling out to let us know that Jillian has arrived; a baby is crying in his mother’s lap while they wait to see the doctor; and Madame Marta is greeting people in the yard as she looks around for trash to pick up. “Ti cafe ak pen souple,” she asks as I step out onto my front door step to say hello. She’s asking for a little coffee and bread for breakfast before she commences with her work. At 85 years old, she comes to Hope Center every day with a bag in her hands, working to keep the place nice and clean to earn chicken feed for her chickens. She’s like the Hope Center Clinic cheerleader in that she walks around among the waiting patients in the morning, greeting them with a kiss on the cheek and asking them how they are doing. Her voice dances with the mountain fresh air and touches my heart. I glance out my front door and see the flower petals waving in the breeze and the empty chair swing spinning in a slow circle. It’s a quiet week here.

Sitting on the love seat in my house, looking out my front door, listening to the sounds of Hope Center

Sitting on the love seat in my house, looking out my front door, listening to the sounds of Hope Center

Other weeks are not so quiet. Last week, Hope Center was one of those not-so-quiet weeks. That’s not a bad thing at all. It’s actually a very good thing. When teams are here, every day begins with a buzz of anticipation as team members prepare for the tasks of ministry they have planned to do. As the day progresses, the team members gather back together for lunch and then dinner and share with one another about the things God did through them over the course of the day. At the end of the week, we are amazed at how God multiplied their efforts to do many great works that will carry on many months and years to come. It’s often too much to recount. This is the case with the Crystal Springs/MSU team. The group from New Zion Baptist Church, some students from Mississippi State University, and our Jacob and his girlfriend Madison all joined together for an amazing Spring Break of ministry at Hope Center in Haiti.

The Crystal Springs team in front of our church at sunset

The Crystal Springs team in front of our church at sunset

Their plans for the week included building benches for the church, hosting VBS, building a house for Johnny’s family, helping with clinic, and hosting a ladies Bible study. With God’s help and provision, they accomplished all of these things and more.

On day one, the buzz of the saw in the yard cranked up early as half the team immediately got to work on making benches. Charles had created a design that is very sturdy and will allow for a hymnal tray to be added to the back of each bench later. These benches will allow us to pack in so many more people in our church as we grow in numbers every week.

Also on the first day, another group of team members loaded up and went into the village to begin work on building Johnny’s family a house. The house they have been living in had three rooms, but only one of the three rooms had a roof, and it was falling in. There was only one working door on the house, and inside was dark and dusty from the mud walls and heat. Their new house has two rooms with a vented roof for air flow and windows to allow for light to come in during the day. It has a locking front door and a concrete floor instead of dirt. It may not seem like much from American standards. but to this family that has endured many a muddy night as the rain poured through their tattered tin roof, it is a blessing from God that they have prayed for for a long time.

In VBS, the team loved on children throughout the village each afternoon, teaching them about the joys and benefits of knowing Jesus. They talked about how Jesus is the light and He shines through us when we let his light shine. They gave out little LED flashlights from Community Bank as a useful reminder of the light of Christ. They also gave out water bottles that said “Jezi se vivan” (Jesus is living water). On the last day, they walked the children down to the well that the team members had fixed in their “spare time” and let the kids fill their water bottles up with fresh, clean water. It was LOTS of fun!!

Ladies Bible study was a huge blessing to the women of our village. They love spending time with the American women, discussing issues important to women and letting God minister to their hearts through song and sharing of the Word. On the last day, the leaders of the Bible study washed the ladies’ feet to demonstrate the love of Christ in us as we minister to one another. It was a touching moment. Even Jess got in on the special time as he washed the feet of a man that came to the bible study and then he and Junior washed one another’s feet. Such a precious time!

Throughout each day and in between all of the planned activities, many team members helped with clinic by working triage, counting pills, and entering information into the computer from patient files. There is always an abundance of activity that goes on behind the scenes each week at Hope Center, and this team jumped to action whenever a need was seen.

I could talk about and post pics of all of the things this team did to minister to the people of our village last week, but time will not allow because it was MUCH. I will list other things below and post a slide show of all of the pics of the week below. Suffice it to say that we are so very thankful that people are willing to be led by God to come serve in our village at Hope Center, Galette Chambon. We do not take lightly the sacrifice it takes to come here and serve. However, we do know that God blesses people who trust in His provision and say YES when he calls them to come serve. And when people come, they allow God to use them in many amazing ways, and those works carry on for many years to come. It’s called KINGDOM work because as people come serve, they are building the Kingdom of God up in a way that has eternal impact in people’s lives.1 Peter 2:5 says, “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” When teams come here to work, they are like living stones that build up the kingdom of God. Their sacrifice is an offering that is acceptable and blessed by God. Long after a team leaves, the memories of laughter, prayer, worship, and hard work echo through our minds, and through the minds of the people they touch, and we are all blessed.

Other things the team did: (I’m sure I don’t have a complete list here either!)

  • Fixed the village well that has been broken
  • Worked on electrical issues within Hope Center
  • Installed an outlet in the ag missionary house
  • Worked on the ambulance and bus
  • Helped with ESL classes and Creole Literacy class
  • Fixed a door latch on the mission house
  • Fixed the deep freezer hinge
  • Changed oil in the skid steer
  • Visited people in the village
  • Watered trees in the village
  • Built a chicken coup
  • Special VBS at orphanage
  • Shared in song during worship service at church
  • Helped deliver a baby at 3:45 a.m.

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Working Together-Getting it Done

Last week at Hope Center, we had another combo team here from South Carolina and Florida. Sometimes team members may be a little apprehensive about joining up with a team of people they don’t know from somewhere else, but inevitably the members end up becoming close friends as they serve alongside one another and our Haitian staff and friends.

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SOOOO much happened last week that there’s no way to include it all! The first team arrived on Sunday afternoon. The team was from Lauren, South Carolina. They immediately unloaded the bus and began pulling out all of the goodies they brought for the children in the orphanage for the upcoming birthday party. Charles and Hannah had worked hard with their home church over the winter break to organize and accumulate birthday presents for each child in the orphanage so that over the course of this year we can have birthday celebrations for them. The South Carolina team had agreed to get the gifts to Haiti, and they were extremely excited to be delivering them. The team members had also chipped in by purchasing sheets and towels for the orphanage as well. For a while there was a sea of pink and blue all over the tables as we sorted through the gifts and prepared to take them to Rachel’s apartment at the orphanage.

On day two the Pensacola team began arriving. Because of the winter storm in the states, many flights have become delayed and rerouted, making people miss flights and have to rebook. It took two days for them to all get here. As team members arrived, everyone seemed to just fall into place where their help was needed. Junior, Dr. Seth, and Jimmy set up shop in the dental clinic, Craig, John, and Carroll worked with Makil and Woodnorder in the orphanage building a shaded area, Cindy helped Rachel get unpacked and organized for plans she was making for the orphanage, and Nancy was able to offer some amazing help to Hannah with homeschooling Lilly.

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One thing I thought was really cool was that on Monday, we were trying to figure out where everyone would work. Susan and Joe were in the pharmacy, but were a bit overwhelmed by the idea of filling prescriptions all day not knowing much about the medicines we had in there. Suddenly, someone said, “Clark has worked in a pharmacy before, why don’t we go get him to come work in here!” So we sent for Clark, who was helping the other men build a shade area in the courtyard at the orphanage, and asked him to help in pharmacy. Oh my goodness….this was one of the best moves made all week! Clark did an amazing job in the pharmacy. Susan was able to help us enter patient records into our computer system as they came in which was a huge help. Joe, Robin, and Adaire worked with Marc and Estima in triage, and Tony & I floated around fielding questions and helping everyone get what they needed when they needed it.

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Once the Pensacola folks arrived, we were able to double our patient intake because we added Dr. Mitch to see patients while Kirsten and Karen helped with pharmacy, lab work, and assisted with other needs in the clinic, and Susan was able to completely focus on entering patient records. Don, Eb, Peter, Seth, Ethan, and Doug immediately got to work on orphanage needs and Craig, John, and Carroll shifted to building an agricultural nursery in the ag yard for seeding plants before transplating them to gardens. Debbie, Natalie, Kim, and Tracey helped in both the clinic as well as the orphanage throughout the week. And at some point during the week, the men built benches to be used in the orphanage as well as in the clinic waiting area. These will be used every single day as people wait to be seen by a doctor, thankful that God has provided healthcare for them as well as a place to sit while they wait.

Pensacola & Laurens men working with Makil on the orphanage shade area

Pensacola & Laurens men working with Makil on the orphanage shade area

On Wednesday, the medical team packed up and headed back to the back of the village to a small school where they did medical checkups for all of the school children. They saw many, many children and their parents at the clinic. Our dentist, Dr. Seth stayed here at Hope Center and continued seeing dental patients. At one point, Tony and Kirsten had to return to Hope Center with a pregnant mother because they thought she might be in labor due to some belly pains. Once they arrived, they decided to send her on to the hospital. While they were here, a man brought in his mother who had recently had a mastectomy and was severely infected – almost septic. The infection was horrible. Tony drained the site and cleaned her up as much as possible and they sent her on to the hospital too. Tony said that had he not been here to see her and had we had to send her away, she probably would have died over night. God knew she was coming here and used the pregnant mother to get Tony & Kirsten back to Hope Center to get her cleaned up, antibiotics on board, and sent on to the hospital. God is always in control!

Dr. Shubert with two sweet children on mobile clinic

Dr. Shubert with two sweet children on mobile clinic

Karen and Clark with school kids at mobile clinic

Karen and Clark with school kids at mobile clinic

These two teams worked non-stop all week! They worked seamlessly and enjoyed worship time together each evening in the breezeway. On Tuesday night, we all went down to the church for worship time with the local membership. Tuesday night worship services are always such a wonderful time of ministry and praise. Someone had put a bug in Pastor Mickenson’s ear that Adaire was an amazing pianist, so he invited her to play a couple of songs. They ended the worship set with “How Great Thou Art” and the entire place was rocking with praise! It was a glorious time as both Americans and Haitians worshipped in song together with hands raised and voices loud. I think we all floated out of there that night, fed by the Holy Spirit, and blessed by God our Father.

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One of the biggest events of the week was a birthday party for the children at the orphanage. Much planning had gone into the event, and everyone had a great time! Many children here don’t even know when they were born, and they certainly aren’t accustomed to celebrating the day of their birth. We want these kids to look forward to their special day every year and know that they are loved and that God has blessed them and has a great plan for their lives.

Hannah and Adaire and other team members serving up birthday cake!

Hannah and Adaire and other team members serving up birthday cake!

As we do every week when a team comes, we went on a walk through the village as soon as we could sneak in a couple of hours of free time. We went up on the hill visiting with families and explaining to the team members how God has provided in so many ways for the people here. We stopped by Mdm Marta’s house, and as usual, she invited us all in. She fell in love with Clark, and he asked her if she would go on a date with him. She laughed and said “Wi!” So on Tuesday night after church, we prepared a big meal for them and set up a table out back with flowers and a candle. To Clark’s surprise, Mdm Marta invited a guest to their date!! Mark said he got “swagger jacked” and we all enjoyed watching Marta and her friend enjoy a dinner together. It was a sweet time. Marta was eager, however, to box up her food and take it up to her house to share with the children, so the romantic dinner was cut short. That Marta is something else!!

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On the last day of the week before time for the teams to leave, we thought we were going to have a baby! Kirsten had prayed and prayed that she would get to help deliver a baby while here. The first-time mother came in with pretty strong contractions, but she was extremely anxious. After a little while in the clinic, she requested to go outside to deliver. The team made a bed for her outside under the almond tree, and the wait began. We thought a baby was inevitable when the mama’s water broke, but unfortunately contractions pretty much stopped after that. Tony eventually made the decision to let Meresse take them to the hospital. We were all sad that we couldn’t deliver a baby, but we were glad that the mama was going to get the medical attention she needed too. She came back today with her mother and husband and brand new baby girl. Both mom and baby are doing great…and so is daddy – who was quite nervous when they were here. Ha!

Kirsten and Karen with Tony and Alex laboring a mother under the almond tree

Kirsten and Karen with Tony and Alex laboring a mother under the almond tree

As always, it’s hard to say goodbye to a group of people who you have worked & worshipped with all week. It seems like just about the time you have gotten to know everyone, it’s time to put them all back on the bus and send them to the airport. They leave us with many great memories though and friendships that will continue on in the weeks, months, and hopefully years to come. They leave a part of themselves here at Hope Center, and they take with them a heart full of blessings from serving however God led them to serve while here. We are thankful for their time here. Until lot fwa! (next time!)

South Carolina team picture before leaving

South Carolina team picture before leaving

The Pensacola team before leaving Hope Center

The Pensacola team before leaving Hope Center

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Looking Back and Forward at Hope Center

Hello Everyone!

As we prepare to head back to Haiti after a LONG winter break, we are excited about all of the things God has planned for 2015. We already have many teams scheduled to serve at Hope Center over the coming year, and we look forward to meeting and serving with every single one. I prepared a newsletter this week that will be going out in the mail to those on our physical mailing list, but I wanted to add a link to it here too. Just click on the link below, and it will open in PDF format.

Newsletter February 2015

We also created a slide show of some highlights from 2014 at Hope Center. Hope you ENJOY!!

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Here are some people and things we would love for you to join us in praying for:

1. Mdm Anastasia Senatus: She is the elderly mother of one of our security guards. His name is Anel. We have been taking her to Mirebalais Hospital over the last few months trying to get help with a large tumor growing on her forehead. It has eaten through her skull now and is very large. This coming week, she will go to Mirebalais to meet with a neurosurgical team who will begin preparations for removing the tumor. Please pray for God’s protection and healing for Anastasia and guidance for the doctors who will be helping her.

2. A 20 year old young man named Louinel: We met Louinel a few months ago, and he begged us to help him. He is suffering from gynecomastia, and it is painful to him both physically and emotionally. He has met with doctors at Mirebalais and we have him on a 90 day trial run of tamoxifen, but if that medication does not help him, he will be looking at possible surgery.

3. A little boy named Franzil: A few months ago, Dr. Freddy Grant noticed that Franzil had an irregular heart beat and suggested we take him to see a cardiologist. Kathy Warren took him up to Mirebalais a couple of weeks ago, and they determined that he has a hole in his heart. They put him on medication and said they are optimistic he will grow out of it. Please pray that God will close up the hole and give Frantzil a long, healthy life.

4. Pray for us as we begin Creole Literacy classes and English as a Second Language classes in our village of Galette Chambon. We pray that starting the classes will go smoothly and many will come to know Christ and grow in their personal relationship with Him as well through these classes.

5. Construction projects: Please pray for us as we re-open the clinic at Hope Center, begin documenting and reporting patient records to the Ministry of Health, and look at clinic expansion in the near future.

6. Clinic: Please pray for every single person who enters the doors of our clinic that they may not only experience physical healing, but spiritual healing as well as we share the love of Christ with them.

7. Church: Please pray for our church and Pastor Mickenson Gilbrun as he leads and shepherds our congregation to a deeper understanding of the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus Christ.

8. Agriculture: Pray for our community as we explore ways to irrigate gardens and grow our chicken program into a business that will lead our community one step closer to sustainability. Pray that our terrace gardens will prove to be a great education opportunity as well as provide food for our community.

9. Pray that God will lead us as we prepare to begin having monthly Motherhood seminars in our village that will educate new mothers on prenatal care, childbirth, post-partum care and breast feeding.

10. Pray for our orphanage as we prepare to take in seven more children bringing our total to 20. Pray for Ydalia and her staff as they adjust to the increase in children and pray for our new interns as they get settled in and help love and educate the children in the orphanage.

 

There are many more prayer needs, but these are just the first 10 I could think of tonight. I’ll blog more as the year progresses.

We love you all and are so very thankful that God has blessed us with YOU as our prayer partners in this ministry.

MAY GOD BLESS YOU ABUNDANTLY!!

 

 

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January 31, 2015 · 5:42 am

Every Day is a Day to be Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

I apologize to all of my blog followers because It’s been a while since I have written on my blog. Our internet has been a bit sketchy, and time has been even more sketchy, but I decided today that I would try really hard to get a post out and be better about posting in the future. I post to Facebook all the time because it is easy to do with the internet on my phone, but we discovered that we can use a little Digicel thumb drive to get Internet on the laptop, and today I am trying it out. Hopefully it will work!

As the great Eucalyptus tree reaches towards the heavens, I want to lift my eyes towards my Father in heaven and rejoice in His love daily so that I too may give off a sweet aroma of his love and strength as I grow in Him and through Him.

As the great Eucalyptus tree reaches towards the heavens, I want to lift my eyes towards my Father in heaven and rejoice in His love daily so that I too may give off a sweet aroma of his love and strength as I grow in Him and through Him.

Today, God reminded me through Philippians 4:4 that in order to live a healthy life, we must learn to rejoice in all things so that we may be full of joy (“Always be full of joy in the Lord, I say it again – rejoice.” Philippians 4:4 NLT). It always amazes me how God sends just the right Word for things I am dealing with at particular times in my life. I don’t really think it’s worry that I deal with. God taught me to release worry to Him a long time ago. I think the biggest hindrance to joy I find that I deal with is gratitude. People who are ungrateful are miserable because nothing makes them happy. I don’t ever want to let daily frustrations wear down my gratitude to a point that I am ungrateful because it is at those times one can forget to be thankful. So first of all, I am thankful that He reminds me to have joy and rejoice in Him daily so that I don’t get bogged down in self pity or focus on the negative. When we focus on negative, it infects every part of our lives. Rick Warren calls it “stewing without doing.” He pointed out in my devotional today that we need to choose to think on the positive and on God’s Word.  So today I choose to be grateful and rejoice in ALL things and focus on His Word that tells me to be full of Joy in the Lord.

Thanksgiving in Haiti 2014: We are grateful to God for children who love Him with all their heart, and we are thankful to Him for bringing them to us safely for this amazing Thanksgiving week 2014!

Thanksgiving in Haiti 2014: We are grateful to God for children who love Him with all their heart, and we are thankful to Him for bringing them to us safely for this amazing Thanksgiving week 2014!

This week has been a very special week for Tony and me, and we are very thankful. It’s not an average week at Hope Center because there hasn’t been a team here, and we have had the blessing of having our children here with us. We have had an opportunity to refresh our minds, recharge our batteries, and enjoy many beautiful sights in Haiti that we normally don’t have the time to visit. It has been an absolute pleasure to enjoy the beauty of this country with our children. All week long we have been reminded of all the many blessings we have to be thankful for.

We did have a small glitch in our plans when the kids arrived at the Birmingham airport at 4 am to find out that Jonathan’s ticket had somehow been canceled. Tony and I worked feverishly to restore his flight, but we were not able to get anything that would get him here on Friday with Jacob and Katelyn. He ended up having to spend the night in the Miami airport and catch the first flight out to arrive early Saturday morning. It was frustrating at first, but we decided that since there was nothing else we could do about it, we would choose to rejoice anyway. Jacob and Katelyn were able to spend some quality brother-sister time, and Jonathan was able to catch up with some friends of ours from Birmingham and even get a few goodies for the orphanage kids while waiting for his flight. We were just thankful we were able to get him a flight at all on such short notice.

With all three kids finally under one roof on Saturday, Thanksgiving week started with an evening of celebration for Tony’s birthday. Jonathan, Katelyn, & Jacob gave him gifts that he has been in much need of, a new water bottle and a new Bible. Both of his have been falling apart. We had a great time on our first night together in Haiti. We have so much to be thankful for!

Tony with the kiddos after celebrating his birthday. They gave him a new Bible, water bottle, and a box of Reese's cookie mix! Yum!!!

Tony with the kiddos after celebrating his birthday. They gave him a new Bible, water bottle, and a box of Reese’s cookie mix! Yum!!!

I took a picture of our refrigerator because it’s an unusual sight. Most of the time it’s pretty empty, but with the kids coming, Tony & I filled it up with snacks for the week to make it more homey. There’s just something about opening the refrigerator and finding snacks that makes it feel like home, and there’s just something about seeing one of our youngun’s stand there with the door open looking for what might satisfy that craving they’re having that just feels right. Refrigerator searches, naps on the couch, movies in the dark, and late night card games are some of the many little pleasures we enjoy when the kids are home for a visit. We take it all in, and we are so grateful for these precious ones and their safe travel to Haiti to spend Thanksgiving holidays with us.

 

Saturday afternoon, we went on a walk through the village to tell everyone hello and let them visit with the kids. People have been asking about them for months now, so we knew they would be very happy to see Jonathan, Katelyn, & Jacob. We had a great time visiting with everyone. I love how everyone greets us with a hug and a kiss and calls our children by name when they see them. This village is home to us now, and I think everyone looks forward to our kids visits as much as we do. I think the one person the most excited to see us was “Manu.” He ran straight to Jacob and jumped in his arms. He absolutely loves Jacob.

Emmanuel was so happy to see Jacob again. Jacob is his favorite buddy and he knows Jacob loves him.

Emmanuel was so happy to see Jacob again. Jacob is his favorite buddy and he knows Jacob loves him.

As we went from house to house visiting with people in the village, we came across one house that had a new baby in the family. Jonathan quickly scooped him up and was loving on him when two more mamas came out with babies! Three new babies all in one family!! What fun we had cuddling with those precious babies. Their mamas enjoyed watching us love on them too. Our Haitian neighbors know we love new babies, and we are so thankful they enjoy sharing their sweet babies with us.

We went on a walk through the village and came across a family that had three new babies all under 2 months old. Jonathan scooped up one of them for some sweet baby lovin'

We went on a walk through the village and came across a family that had three new babies all under 2 months old. Jonathan scooped up one of them for some sweet baby lovin’

Tony, Jonathan, and Katelyn all loving on the new babies we found while on our walk through the village.

Tony, Jonathan, and Katelyn all loving on the new babies we found while on our walk through the village.

Sunday was an extra special day because we were celebrating Jonathan & Katelyn’s first anniversary. Pastor Mickenson led the congregation in song as they all sang “Happy Anniversary” to them. Jonathan & Katelyn just glowed with gratitude in the love and acceptance of our fellowship of believers. Of course, Jocelyn rotated between their laps and Jacob’s lap all through the service, and we all enjoyed a blessing of song as Jonathan & Katelyn sang praises together during praise and worship time.

After church, our family went down to the orphanage to see the children. Jessi & Warren Flynt (from Birmingham) had sent some goodies to give to the children, so it was lots of fun to pull surprises out of a bag and play with the kids. Visiting the orphanage is often times the highlight of our day, and being able to visit with our own children made it even more fun. We played on the playground and in the courtyard until it was almost dark. I watched all of the smiling faces and thanked God for the huge family we now have.

As the week went on, the fun seemed to get better and better. Monday was the day we made plans to go on a trip up to the National Pine Forest with Kathy and Terry Warren (our new missionaries at Hope Center, Thoman). I think this trip was probably the highlight of our week. There’s no way to describe it to someone and do it justice. It’s a long, bumpy ride, but the sights and blessings are immeasurable.

Tuesday brought with it another adventure. We went from the mountain tops of Haiti to the beautiful sun-kissed seaside of Haiti. We spent one night at Club Indigo Beach Resort with the fam and the McCall’s for a much needed rest. We were excited to have an opportunity to go to the beach, but first things first, we had to stop to buy some new tires for the truck. As you can imagine, driving on these bumpy, rocky roads beats the tires to death, so in no time, they are worn down to nubs and simply must be replace. After one tire was chewed down to nothing on the drive down the mountain from the Pine Forest, we decided it was time to get them replaced before going to the beach. We were thankful to find a tire place that had NEW tires. Once that was done, we packed ourselves back into the the truck (girls with Vladimir inside and boys outside) and off to the beach we went. The trip on the way was an adventure in itself. We stopped along the road and bought a bunch of bread from a vendor so we could make PB&J sandwiches for lunch. The guys in the back decided to help themselves to a snack while enroute. We didn’t take many pictures while at the beach simply because we took a REAL break, but we did get a beautiful sunset and a picture of a boat out on the water. Rest assured, we did have some real quality down time together as a family. We are grateful…

After spending one night, we left the McCall’s at Indigo to spend a couple more nights, and we headed back to Hope Center in the truck.  Rested and ready to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner, we went through all of the preparation plans in our minds. As soon as we pulled in the gate, everyone got busy getting ready. Tony, Jonathan, Jacob, and Vladimir got busy with Woodnorder and Johnny preparing the pit for cooking the goat. (Junior had given a goat to Tony to cook for his birthday) Katelyn and I immediately got busy cutting carrots, potatoes, and other fresh veggies given to us by Miguelson’s family in the Pine Forest, and Bicly and Makil began the gruesome process of preparing the turkeys.  We went to bed late and got up early to start back to the process of cooking. The goat, prepared and wrapped up in banana leaves, cooked all night in the pit. When Jonathan and Tony lifted it out of the pit, we could smell the luscious aroma yards away. We put the turkeys in the oven at 6:30, and started mixing casseroles at 7. Katelyn was busy making desserts in our house while I worked on other dishes in the team kitchen. It was truly a team effort, and everyone was having a blast doing their part. The anticipation of having a huge feast together as a Hope Center family electrified the air, and smiles were on every face. Our friends from Hope Center, Thoman, Terry & Kathy Warren and Mathurin & Genese Merystal, arrived around 10 and we all visited in between timers going off and tables being prepared. By 12:30 all of the food was ready and we began sitting out plates and such to start serving lunch. We gathered together hand-in-hand and gave thanks to God for our Hope Center family and for the provision of food for this feast. We all ate in phases. Adults ate around 1, the orphanage kids and crew ate around 1:30, more friends showed up around 2, and we still had people coming to eat at 5. It was a full day of family, friends, and much, much thankfulness.

 

We had invited an army of people and yet we never worried once over how we would be able to afford to feed them all. We trusted God to provide and He did. Two weeks prior to Thanksgiving, the FBC Jackson team brought two suitcases full of food items to use in preparation for the meal. They also gave us money to purchase the turkeys! On our trip to the Pine Forest, God provided even more food as Miguelson’s father blessed us with several HUGE cabbages, a sack full of giant carrots, and another sack full of potatoes. All of it was used to prepare this enormous spread of food to celebrate our thankfulness to a Father who loves us and provides for our needs.

Friday was a lazy day for all of us. We slept late, hung out at the house and around Hope Center all day, and continued clean up after our huge day of feasting. We put decorations on the Christmas tree and hung lights around the room in anticipation of the season for celebrating Christ’s birth. We savored every last minute we had left together knowing that the next day our family week would be over and we would be headed back to the airport bright and early Saturday morning.

 

As I have recounted events over this past week, I can’t think of one single moment that we can’t be thankful for. I’m sure there were some stressful or hard moments mixed in there somewhere, but I honestly cannot recall a single one. I guess that’s because God continues to teach me how to have an attitude of gratitude and find ways to be thankful even when times are hard. We are thankful for our children, thankful for our friends, thankful for our staff, thankful for our family back home that loves us and prays for us daily, thankful for others who support us both financially and prayerfully, and we are thankful that God has made us part of a community of people that has accepted us and loves us because they know that we love them. We are all learning to depend completely on God to give us strength and gratitude for both the good and the bad, and we are grateful to Him for our call to service in His name.  We….are….grateful.

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Meet my friend Jores Merilus

Meet my friend, Jores Merilus. It thrills me to introduce you to him because he is a perfect example of what God is doing not just in our village of Galette Chambon, but in countless other communities throughout Haiti. The people have been praying, and God has been answering. Psalm 34:17 says that “when the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” As people like Jores cry out to God, and then continue in faith serving Him and seeking His will in their lives, God moves, and amazing things begin to happen!

jores

When Jores was a child, he ran along the many pathways and rock roads that wind their way throughout the village just like everyone else. He went to the well getting water for his mother just like all of the other kids. He helped his family grow their own food, and he helped his father keep up the family business of making charcoal and selling it in the market. This is the life of any young man growing up in our village. Jores was no different than anyone else….or was he? Yes, Jores was indeed different because Jores not only went through elementary school,  he went on to high school, and he not only completed high school, but he learned English well enough to get a job translating at Hope Center on a daily basis. Jores also volunteers as an English teacher at a local school in the village teaching young people who want to learn English as well. Jores is a giver. He is an extremely intelligent, highly motivated young man who has had a dream of becoming a doctor for a very long time. That dream is about to come true!

Last summer, a team was visiting Hope Center and we went to help Jores with his English classes. While there, I was watching Jores interact with his students, and I turned to one of the team members and said, “You know, that young man right there has the potential to become anything he wants to become. I have prayed and prayed that one day God would lead someone to sponsor him and send him to college.” I had no motive. I was just making conversation and bragging on one of the amazing young men who works with us. The week passed on, and on the last day, before the team left, this team member pulled me aside and said, “Mickie, I talked with my husband, and we want to sponsor Jores in college.” I was floored. God had heard Jores’s prayers, knew the desires of his heart, and had moved me to make conversation with the very one He had appointed to use as the vehicle that would take him to the place where his dreams would come true. In October, Jores began taking some preparatory classes to get him ready to take the entrance exam for medical school. He completed the classes in January and took the exam and PASSED it!! Now Jores is preparing to enter college and begin a seven year journey to the destiny God planned for him before he was even born.

I have no doubt that Jores will make it through college and become an amazing physician. He will continue to give of himself and his gifts as he ministers to people in ways I don’t even think he can imagine. ….But God had a plan and Jores had a dream. Jores prayed for God to hear his prayers and help him to somehow realize his dreams. In faith, Jores continued to grow in his relationship with the Lord, serve the people of his community, serve in our clinic at Hope Center, help his mother with their family charcoal business, and patiently wait upon the Lord.

Please pray for Jores in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead as he continues on this journey to his destiny. Pray for God’s provision. Pray for endurance as Jores has many long hours of studying and preparing. Pray for protection among his family as they adjust to his changing schedule and pressures of school. Pray for his sponsors and others who are led to give to help Jores’s dreams come true. And please continue to pray for Hope Center as we adjust to not having Jores around daily in the clinic. He will be missed.

We are so very thankful to be a part of this incredible miracle taking place. I am just overwhelmed with gratitude to our Lord Jesus for placing us in this place where we can experience His greatness every single day.

**For those of you who want to pray with us for something specific related to Jores, we are praying that God will provide for a specific need that Jores has for this coming year and that is a laptop computer. In medical school, he will be expected to do research and write papers frequently, and all of this will be required to be done on a computer. Jores does not have a computer to do his work on, and a laptop would give him the ability to take his work back and forth with him to school. I have no doubt that God is going to lead someone out there to bless Jores in this way. If God is leading you to do this, please send me an email and we can get it worked out. Our email address is tnmwest@gmail.com.  I will close now expressing our gratitude to you for your many prayers, words of encouragement, and support for all that God does through us, But God Ministries, and Hope Center. We are indeed so very blessed.

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Tony and Jores outside Hope Center Clinic after a long day’s work

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Good News and Challenges

One exciting thing about being a Christ follower is that He is always shocking our socks off with the way He works through His people to bless others. A few weeks back, we put out a post asking people to give to sponsor 200 children in school, and guess what! We have 200 children sponsored for school tuition for the upcoming school year! Hallelujah!! It’s a pretty cool thing when we begin to pray, God prompts the hearts of His people, His people follow through, and BAM! It’s done! This is so exciting! I live in a world of miracles, and I am pretty pumped about this place. Ha! soloman's kids

So that was the good news….Now for the challenge…..

Now that we are able to cover the tuition for 200 children in our village, their needs are not completely filled. In Haiti, children must wear closed toed shoes, carry their books (that they must purchase) in a back pack, and wear a uniform. The parents in our village don’t have the funds to buy these things. Just last week, we kicked off a tennis shoe and back pack drive hosted by Crossgates Baptist Church in Brandon, MS. If you live near Brandon and you have new or gently used tennis shoes and/or back packs, please, please drop them off at Crossgates Baptist Church. There is a big trash can in the lobby that has a sign on it. Put them in there. Thanks!! 

Now suppose you don’t live near Brandon or you don’t have tennis shoes or back packs to give. You can still help if God prompts you to help! There are several ways. 

1. You can go to http://www.butgodministries.com and click “Donate” and choose “scholarship” on the drop down menu and give. All funds that continue to be given to our scholarship fund will go to help pay for uniforms and books for the children. 

2. T-shirts!! If you know of someone who owns a screen print shop that would we willing to donate 250 t-shirts to one of our two sponsored schools, please, please send me an email or reply to this post. (tnmwest@gmail.com) Of course, you need to check with the business first to make sure they are on board. Ha! The principals of each school have agreed to allow their children to wear an alternative uniform that is a t-shirt in their school colors. If we have enough for each child in the school to get one, no one will be without a uniform and feel different from everyone else because they can’t afford it. We are working to have uniforms made for all of the children, but in the meantime, if they can wear a t-shirt, that would be great! Call someone you know that owns a screen print company and ask. It’s an opportunity to give a huge blessing to school children in Haiti that wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise. 

3. If you sew, or know someone who does, and you would like to help us make uniforms for school children in Haiti, please let me know. We are working on getting the sizes of the children who need uniforms, and we are also working on getting the fabric and patterns. This has turned out to be a bigger task than we imagined, but God will provide what we need when we need it, so no worries. When we acquire the patterns and material, we will get the information out and let people get to sewing! I just need a list of willing tailors!! 🙂  Email me at tnmwest@gmail.com.

johel's kidsPhilippians 4:19 says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” It is this very promise that we share with the Haitian families daily who are our neighbors and friends at Hope Center in Galette Chambon. We know that God knows their needs and He is already moving His people to give in order to supply those needs. If one person refuses to obey, He simply moves someone else to receive the blessing of giving. Regardless, He moves and people give. We have complete faith and trust in Him to do it. 

People ask me all the time, “What do you all need down there?” Well, the answer to that question varies, but SPECIFICALLY, right now we need funds for books, tennis shoes, back packs, school t-shirts, and uniforms. GENERALLY, we need people to pray and be willing to ACT upon the movement of God upon their heart. Remember: God WILL move people to help His children. The question is, is He moving you? If He is, then you will not regret acting on it.  

Proverbs 11:25 says, “The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” We have learned that there is no greater blessing of joy than to give of ourselves to help others in need. There are many, many needs in this world, and I pray you will seek God to know how He can use you to meet those needs. When you say, “Yes,” the blessings begin to flow. 

Thank you for your prayers; thank you for your obedience; thank you for your love for our little village of Galette Chambon. Lives are being changed here, and a generation is learning what it means to trust in the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength.  

God bless you all! We are so very thankful for you!!

~Tony & Mickie West

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