Tag Archives: haiti

Jores – His Journey from Translator to Doctor

One of the most rewarding things we get to witness through our ministry here in Haiti is how so many lives are completely changed because of God’s hand moving through But God Ministries. We watch children grow up being better educated because so many are sponsored in school. We watch ideas turn into businesses that create income for families that once struggled to find one meal a day. We see patients with life-threatening illnesses get the health care they need because once identified, we are able to get them to the hospital or specialist that knows how to help them. We’ve seen thousands in our clinic and almost 200 babies have been brought into the world here. Mothers want to come here to have their babies because they seek the kind of care that Jesus would give, and they know that they will be loved and cared for through His love at Hope Center. We see hundreds of people weekly who finally have hope for their future as God leads us to seek ways to change people’s lives. People tell me all the time that the reason they support But God Ministries is because when they give to BGM, they know that we are using their donation in the way that we say we will use it and they see proof of the lives changed through the pictures we post of what’s going on here. Tony and I love that too. That’s why we are here as missionaries for BGM. We don’t ever want to be a part of an organization that doesn’t do exactly what they say they will do. God is using this organization to sustain a community not just today, but in the future, as we watch His hand move in amazing ways. And he doesn’t just use us, but COUNTLESS others who have come here, built relationships here, sent contributions to help people here, and even contributed to various drives in the states and then sent those goods over knowing that those goods will make it to the hands of the people who need them. It’s a HUGE, amazing miracle, and It’s fantastic to watch it unfold!

This is Jores in one of his classrooms.

This is Jores in one of his classrooms.

One person in our village who’s life changed dramatically two years ago was Jores Merilus. I have written about him before. He started out as a translator at Hope Center with his good friend Moliere. Moliere is now the principal of our But God Ministries Secondary School here in the village and is doing a tremendous job. Jores is now in medical school in Port au Prince studying to become a physician with hopes of returning to his home village to help the people he has known and loved all his life. If you want to read my previous post about his story, click here – Jores’s Story

Jores in front of one of the buildings in the middle of the campus

Jores in front of one of the buildings in the middle of the campus

In a nutshell, two years ago a team recognized Jores’s potential in medicine and told him that if he wanted to go to medical school, they would help him. They not only paid for his first year of school, but they helped him get an apartment near the school so he could be close and have a good place to study. Before then he was sleeping in a closet in a warehouse so he could have light at night to study. He had to spend a year taking preparatory classes because it had been so long since he had gone to school, but this past school year, he completed his first year of medical school. He has worked very hard in school and has done a tremendous job! We are so proud of him. He told me a few weeks ago that he has applied for an opportunity to go to Canada next summer to study for a few weeks and he is very hopeful that he will be selected. They only select two from each class to go. I’m praying that God will bless him with that opportunity.

Jores has a gentle spirit and a heart for the mission God has for him. He does not want to be a doctor just to have a job. He wants to be a doctor because that is his mission. He sees it as a ministry, and he looks forward to ministering to his village.

Jores has a gentle spirit and a heart for the mission God has for him. He does not want to be a doctor just to have a job. He wants to be a doctor because that is his mission. He sees it as a ministry, and he looks forward to ministering to his village.

Recently, Jores invited me to go see his school and apartment so I could show people what it all looks like. He toured me around the school and then took me to his apartment to see it. The school is very nice!

The apartment is….humble but functional. He is so grateful that someone was thoughtful enough to be concerned about his living situation and helped him find this apartment. He feels so blessed to be able to go to school and have a place to stay not far from the school. He can actually walk to the school from this apartment. It may not be much, but it sure beats a closet in a warehouse!

I decided to write about Jores today because circumstances with his original sponsors have changed somewhat and they are not able to help him as they did the first year. Because of this, Jores had to ask his mother if she could get a loan to help him pay for last semester of school. She did get a loan from a friend, but it has put a huge strain on her and her family to try to pay it back. She makes and sells charcoal for a living and she barely sells enough to pay for food. She often goes without eating so that she can make a payment on the loan. Jores spent the summer helping her, but now it is time for him to go back to school.

Jores in front of one of the buildings in the middle of the campus

Jores in front of one of the buildings in the middle of the campus

Jores came by the house today and spent several hours just talking and visiting. We talked about faith and how the plan for him to go to med school was not his plan, not our plan, not the past donors’ plan; it was (and IS) God’s plan. He smiled when I told him that when God put him in his mom’s belly, He did so knowing about such a time as this. Now he must have faith that when God starts a good work, He will carry it through. Like Jores, Tony and I have walked the road of faith so many times before, and we know that when God has a plan, He provides. We are walking that road even now – just like Jores! So we prayed together and asked God not only to continue to provide a way by moving people to help, but to also increase our faith in His plan and give us peace. It was a good afternoon that ended with a cooling rain, which we decided was God’s blessing on our time together. We are so blessed to know Jores as we do.

jores

I am telling Jores’s story today because I know that there are people who know and love him and want to help him. There have already been a few people to express interest in helping him, so I know he will be fine. I just wanted to tell his story so that others would know as well in case they want to help him too. If you feel led to help this bright, young man realize his dream of becoming a doctor to help his village, please email me at tnmwest@gmail.com or send me a Facebook inbox message. I can tell you how you can do that.

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I always hesitate to post requests for help like this, but then people are ALWAYS asking me how they can help. They can’t know if I don’t put it out there. I do realize that there are MANY needs and it seems someone always needs help, but I also don’t believe that everyone is called to give to every situation. Some may feel led to give to one call and then others feel led to give to another. God wants to use us all to help in some way though. I pray that if God wants to use you to help Jores, you will hear His call and be blessed in doing so. Thank you for your prayers and support. We are humbled and blessed to be a part of this amazing ministry that helps so many people. God bless!!

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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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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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Gislene’s Journey

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Gislene on a good day. She loves Ody.

Many of you have been following the story of Gislene, one of the precious Haitian women that works at Hope Center with us. She has been struggling with problems swallowing, and it prevents her from being able to eat and drink. She has had very little to eat or drink for over three months and has wasted away to about 60 pounds. Back in May she went to a doctor in Port au Prince that performed a painful scope on her and reported to have found what seemed to be a blockage behind her epiglottis. She was instructed to return for an endoscopy. From that point, after a series of several disappointing and pointless visits back to the General Hospital, I consulted a Haiti Medical Facebook group, and heard back from multiple people with very helpful advice. An email group was formed, and suddenly, there were no less than 5 professionals communicating on how to get help for Gislene. The next thing we knew, we were scheduled for an evaluation and CT scan at Hopital Universitaire de Mirebalais, one of the finest hospitals in Haiti, and the ball was finally rolling. We sent in Gislene’s personal information ahead of time so that a card could be made for her first thing that Monday morning, and she could be rushed through without much delay.

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Early morning drive to Mirebalais…Just beyond the mountains ahead.

 

When we arrived at Mirebalais at 7:00 a.m. on a Monday morning, which is no small feat since it is two mountain ranges away from Galette Chambon. Our driver, Meresse, got us there safely, parked, and Odlin and I helped Gislene out of the truck. We had no idea where to go at first, so I went to the email group and found the thread of emails from Marc Julmisse, MPH, BSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer at Hopital Universitaire de Mirebalais.

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Side view of the hospital. Partners in Health built this hospital under the leadership of Dr. Paul Farmer several years ago.

L'opital Mirebalais

L’opital Mirebalais

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a couple of immediate replies, I knew just where to go to wait for the next step. As we waited in the already congested waiting room, I took in the faces of many, many Haitians, going through the motions preparing for a long day of waiting. Imagine my surprise when this tiny, young lady approached me and said, “Are you Mickie West?” After I nodded with a giant smile because someone there knew my name, she said, “Hi! I’m Marc Julmisse. Is this Gislene? Let me get her a wheelchair and take you where you need to go.” I thanked her and, quick as a wink, off she went to get the chair. She quickly returned, and it was obvious that Marc needed to push because it was going to be hard for me to keep up with her and push the chair too. As I followed, weaving in and out of stares, I praised God for answered prayer and finally…some PROGRESS!!

Marc Julimesse pushing Gislene through the hospital in a wheelchair

Marc Julimesse pushing Gislene through the hospital in a wheelchair

 

Within minutes we were seeing a doctor…an American doctor who spoke English and Creole. It was all I could do to keep from falling on my knees and praising the Lord right there in the exam room. I decided to remain professional. I sat down in the rolling chair, took a deep breath, spun around once, looked him straight in the face, and said, “I thank the Lord God Almighty that we are sitting in this room with you right now. To be honest, I wanna do a happy dance” He just laughed and said, “So you’re from the South? I went to Tulane University and did a rotation of my residency in a little town in Mississippi.” Oh my goodness! God is good! As I explained where we were from and where our mission is, he became completely focused on Gislene.  He was kind and gentle with her, looked directly at her face and not down on her, and discussed in Creole what her symptoms were. After a few minutes, we were rolling to CT to have a scan done of her neck and stomach. He would look it over and we were to return on Thursday for an endoscopy. Wow. We had already accomplished more in a couple of hours than had been accomplished in four trips to General Hospital in Port au Prince. The long wait for the scan was typical Haiti medicine, but it wasn’t so bad. We were still swimming in the wave of shock from everything else that had just happened. The only downer, and it was indeed a downer, was that Dr. Ward said that he suspected it might be esophageal cancer. We would just have to wait and see….and pray.

Gislene waits in the waiting room for her CT scan

And pray we did! As soon as the update post went out on Facebook, hundreds of people from all of the US as well as Haiti began to inquire about Gislene.  My inbox was packed, email flooded, and the comments and likes to the post about her were countless. There’s no doubt Gislene was being covered and lifted in much prayer.

The day of the endoscopy was very long, and most of it was spent in piercing heat. Gislene was extremely weak. She lay on the back seat of the truck and occasionally moaned the words of a song. When they finally called her in for the endoscopy, I literally had to carry her in my arms from the truck all the way to the back of the operation room holding area because they were suddenly in a hurry. They handed us a hospital gown and directed us to the restrooms to change. She was determined to walk beside me, so we clambered along. As I helped her change, I had to fight to contain my tears. I unbuttoned her blouse, and for the first time, saw the frail body that had been hidden beneath her clothes. There was nothing there. There was dark, chocolate skin draped over feeble, knotted bones like velvet curtains over a winged back chair. My heart ached. She avoided my eyes, and I kissed her cheek. It was time.

 

Gislene having vitals taken before undergoing the endoscopy

Gislene having vitals taken before undergoing the endoscopy

Two, three, maybe four hours past. I really have no idea how long it was. In Haiti, sometimes you get caught up in the drone of time like a drop of sap that oozes out of a tree and moves down the trunk at a pace that cannot be measured. Odlin and I were sitting in the outdoor waiting room waiting. We had begun to doze off after being entertained by the familiar wails of a woman in labor, the infantile cry of a goat scavenging on a nearby littered hillside, and the monotonous whirr of the ceiling fans stirring the thick air above us. We almost didn’t check up when the familiar blue scrubs made their way to the decorative, metal wall that enclosed the area. Dr. Ward’s first words were, “No cancer” and a smile covered his face and made his eyes squint together. “Wait, what? No cancer?” I had to hear it again. He confirmed, gave me a prescription for an acid reflux medicine, and discussed the next plan of action. Gislene had no signs of cancer in her throat or down her esophagus, but she would need to continue to take her medicine and find things she could eat. As we made our way back down, up, and down the mountain again, I prayed to God to just help her eat. I knew countless others were praying too. “Lord just help her eat.” We arrived back at Hope Center, and Meresse took Gislene back to her house to rest from what had to be another exhausting day for her.

Gislene visiting

A few weeks passed, and the next team was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to go see Gislene at her house. We had tried to go that Monday and the day got complicated, so we put it off to Wednesday. By 4:00 Wednesday afternoon, Tony and I were stuck in traffic trying to get back from a trip to Port au Prince, so we told the team to just load up in the ambulance, since the bus was broken down…again. They made arrangements to go back into the village to see her in the ambulance. My fingers tremble like a drum roll as I prepare to type the next paragraph.

gislene in house

When the team arrived at Gislene’s house, there was a neighbor there visiting her, and he was singing hymns to her. Others were gathered around her praying. The team took their places around her tiny body stretched out on the cool, concrete floor and all of them began to worship with her. As the neighbor’s voice rose, a musical offering floated through the air, and Gislene’s hand lifted with the cords in praise as the Sprit of the Lord filled the room.

Gislene praise

After what must have been quite an overwhelming time of worship, the team busied themselves trying to see if Gislene could drink one of the cans of Ensure they had brought. She told them she had actually been able to eat a little lately, and she drank down almost every bit of the can of Ensure. Of course, the process was slow, deliberate, and interrupted by occasional pauses of indigestion, but she drank. The team prayed with her one more time, then piled back into the ambulance to head back to Hope Center. We all arrived back at Hope Center at about the same time. After hearing the fantastic news that Gislene was starting to be able to eat and drink again, Tony has decided to continue giving her Ensure and treating her for H.Pylori. He was afraid that a battery of tests would be too hard on her frail body. If she is able to eat, then we would continue to nourish her with calories.

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Many people continued to pray for Gislene’s complete healing. We rejoiced in the progress we had seen thus far in the simple miracle of being able to eat and drink. We felt confident Gislene was headed in the right direction and would continue to improve in the days ahead.

As the end of July approached, it was time for our family to return to the states to get Jacob ready for school. We checked on Gislene one more time, and headed off to the airport. We were gone for about three weeks and assumed that Gislene’s progress and recovery would continue. When we returned mid-August, we found that our hopes were dashed. Tony went to Gislene’s house to let her know he was back and found, yet again, a frail, weathered shell of a woman, barely able to speak. He asked her if she was still able to eat, and she slowly moved her head to say no. He asked her if she still had medicine, and she pointed to the bag of medicine that our Haitian doctor had given her in our clinic. She then struggled to explain that she had been waiting for Tony to tell her how she was to take it. Gislene had a two-month supply of medicine sitting on her bedside table and had not taken one pill since we left. Her throat was once again raw with pain and she had not eaten in at least two weeks. Her already thin body had become deathly feeble. Her skin, no longer velvet, had a dry, ashy look that more resembled dark, wrinkled tissue paper. Tony picked her up, put her in the truck, and rushed her back to Hope Center to start an IV and put her in a dorm for constant observation. We wouldn’t have a team here for two weeks, so that would give us time to focus on trying to get her to a place where she could eat again. Every day was a guessing game. I tried giving her jello, grits, apple sauce, oatmeal, Ensure, and Raimen noodles.  Nothing worked. She refused each thing with a wave of her hand and a fragile, “Mwen pa kapob” which means “I can’t.” She asked me if I had juice, so I fixed her a cup of room temp water with a hint of peach tea flavor in it. She took that and liked it. An hour later, she had finished the drink. I sat and prayed with her. The silence was a heavy stone on our hearts as we both struggled to resist the temptation of despair. I felt my chest cave under pressure and push tears out without sound. They rolled down my cheeks and dropped to rest on her dark hand resting in mine. She barely opened her eyes and gazed up at me then closed them again.

As the days passed, she began to regain strength, but her eating was still a struggle. The next team was arriving on Saturday, so we would have to take her back home to continue recovering. We talked with her family about the importance of finding things that she could eat or drink without burning her throat. They promised to take good care of her and let us know if her condition worsened.

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Team on their way to Gislene’s

 

After arriving at Hope Center, the next team was eager to see Gislene, so we made the trek deep into the land of mango trees to find her house. Children were playing with sticks in the dusty earth near her house, and the curtain hanging in her doorway was flapping in the mountain breeze. She was laying on a mat on the floor as her father sat on a small, wooden chair near her mat with no emotion on his face, but heavy concern in his eyes. We visited with Gislene, and  she actually sat up for photos with us. She seemed to feel better, but she was still very thin. The urgency to pray rushed through our veins, and we prayed with her, crying out to God for His intervention. I couldn’t help but notice the old, rusted bullhorn sitting silently on her table. She had bought that horn months ago with plans to walk through her village proclaiming the way of the Lord to her friends and family. To share the love of Christ has always been her heart’s desire. The bullhorn sits silent. Its silence makes my heart hurt.

Gislene visit

For the last two weeks, we have made frequent trips out to Gislene’s. Two teams have now ducked through her doorway, passing through the flapping, pink curtain, feeling the heaviness of sickness creep over us like a vapor encasing every inch of the room. Yesterday, as we approached her house, we could hear many voices crying out to God in prayer as others sang hymns of praise inside the small space. Gislene’s frail fingers rise from the edge of the bed in an attempt to praise with them. The room is full with friends and family, Haitian and American, all searching for words but finding none. We choose to simply listen to the words of song floating through the air. We don’t understand most of the words sung, but we do recognize the spirit of the Lord there, and it is good.

 

We really don’t know what else to do at this point besides pray. We ask God for guidance in every step with Gislene, and right now He says to pray and let her friends and family minister to her. Something tells me it won’t be long before the Lord calls her home. My struggle is between the desire to fight for her life against the peace of knowing that she is growing closer to a reunion with her Father. My mind becomes desperate with the knowledge that she is only two years younger than me, and I know that there must be a medical response to her illness. At the same time, I sense that she has come to accept her condition and desires to approach her destination with dignity and peace. It’s hard to understand this sometimes. Tony understands because he was once a hospice nurse. I am afraid that some people see our current position as “giving up” on her. However, I know that our God knows where we are. He speaks to our hearts with love and He can heal her or take her at any moment. I do not know what His plan is besides to love Gislene. He knows His plan for her life better than we do. We trust Him with every moment, and we pray that He will be glorified in our lives as well as Gislene’s. He already has been glorified in her life and continues to be. The love in that house of hers is enormous. It echoes through the silent bullhorn on her table.

 

 

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Finally Heading Home…

Our bags are all packed….The house is cleaned out. We will make our final trip to the mini-storage tomorrow, finish up last minute errands, and around midnight Wednesday night, we will be headed to Birmingham to catch the first flight out to Haiti. Ahhhh…..my heart flutters just thinking about it!!

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Living room at the FBC mission house where we have spent a good part of the last year. We are so grateful to have had this place to stay while in the states. It has been so comfortable, and a comfort for Tony to know we were safe and secure. We will miss this place.

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Six very heavy suitcases ranging from about 55 to 70 pounds. Whew! Tomorrow is going to be interesting….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even while I type this post, Tony is texting me updates on a mother in the clinic in labor. She’s 19, it’s her first baby, and she is scared. I send a text, “Remind her to breathe slowly..respire dousman.” As if he needs me to remind him. “Okay,” he texts back. “Be sure to explain to her what to expect. It’s her first time. She’s scared,” I text. “Wi (yes)” he texts back. “Tell Vladimir to massage her feet with lotion and sing to her,” I text….nothing. I know good and well Vladimir isn’t going to massage her feet and sing to her. That’s my job! …and I can’t wait to be there to do it too. I can’t wait for the hugs and laughter of the children in the orphanage as they pile on one another wrapping their arms around me and pulling me down to their height. I can’t wait to walk around the village to each house saying, “Bon swa!” to all of my neighbors, exchanging kisses on the cheeks, and listening as they tell me the latest news. The children will all run into their houses to get their report cards to show me because the last time I was there they were taking final exams, and they will want to show me what their final grades were. Home….

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Our “front yard” in Haiti! Thanks to the McCall’s we have flowers!! Can’t wait to see them!

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Our livingroom in Haiti…it’s where we put our feet up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s where my heart is. It’s where I sink into my couch at the end of a full day of loving on people and sharing the love of Jesus. It’s where God has placed us for this time in our lives, and we are loving every minute of it.

These last 20 months have been both challenging and a blessing. It has not been easy to be away from my husband and the ministry we both were called to. It has not been easy moving from place to place, living out of suitcases and boxes, and being dependent on the generosity of others. It has not been easy flying back and forth to see my honey and all of our Haitian brothers and sisters in our little village. It always seemed like just about the time I would be getting settled back in and my Creole was flowing well, it was time to pack back up and leave. I have stared longingly at those mountains through tearful eyes many, many times as we rumble along the rock road to the airport. On the other hand, I have had special times too. Over these past 20 months I have spent such precious time with my Jacob, watching him develop and mature into a fine young man. I have been awed by my Jonathan watching him grow and become a godly husband and teacher.

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Oh how this mama loves her sweet boys.

I have worked feverishly on ministry needs as well as senior parent things while here and have enjoyed every hectic minute of it. It has been a full year, and God has held us when we’ve cried, He has picked us up when we have fallen, He has comforted us when we were afraid, He has protected us from danger, and He has provided for all of our needs. We have rejoiced over answered prayer for healing, gained a daughter, and celebrated a graduation. God has been so good, and my heart is completely full just thinking about it.

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Celebrating the marriage of Jonathan and Katelyn

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Tony praying over Jacob in the ER after his auto accident

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Celebrating Jacob’s high school graduation.

Now my mind turns to friends. I was just thinking last night, as Jonathan & Katelyn, Jacob &  Madison, and I went to eat and spend a wonderful evening with friends, that God has gifted us with so many absolutely amazing friends through this journey. Even while I type this, the faces of people dear to me begin to flash across my memory, and I cannot hold back the tears because I feel so richly blessed. We feel God’s love in such a powerful way through the love that is shown to us through each and every friendship He has placed in our lives. We could not have made it through these 20 months without God’s using you to support us in so many ways. There are just SO MANY of you, and I wish I could tell each and every one of you how very special you are to me and to Tony right now. Since that is not possible, I am asking God to speak to our friends as they read these words and let them know and FEEL the love we have for them. It is impossible for me to express in words how you all make us feel. Words are not adequate, but I ask my Father to bless you in return for your love, loyalty, and kindness, and I hope that you know how much we love you.  Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for checking on us. Thank you for helping us through difficult times and celebrating with us in joyful times. God has used you to bless us.

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Even though the boys are squinting, it’s one of my favorite pictures. It was taken on the mountain road to Thoman

Now, as Jacob and I return to Haiti for the summer, please pray for safe travels, continued rest and healing for Jacob’s ankle, protection from sickness, ease in settling back into our home, and precious, precious catch up time with Tony and our Hope Center family. Please pray for Jonathan and Katelyn as they continue to seek the Lord in growing their marriage and moving them down the path of service upon which He wants them to serve. Please pray for our families as they love and support us from afar. And please pray for our ministry, that GOD would be glorified, people would come to know the joy of knowing our Savior, and that our community would grow and thrive and prosper just as God has intended. We look forward to reporting many more exciting adventures and blessings in the days ahead. Thank you for being a part of this ministry with us. It is truly an honor to serve with you.

Blessings!

Mickie

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