Monday, May 31, 2010

A Faith Like Dony...

Each day in Haiti we struggle with the right words to explain in creole our sympathies to those that have lost so much. Culturally it is the norm to ask how someone is but also to inquire on their family. Daily it is difficult when this nation has been so devastated by death that we stopped asking. So many people have lost loved ones, so many are hungry and so many have temporary shelter when they once had a home. Add that to daily struggle of finding work, paying for school and the hurts are everywhere. We have met many people here in Port Au Prince that have burdened our hearts, as we listen to their problems, it seems a short mwen regret, I'm sorry, or M'ap priye pou ou, I will pray for you, doesn't seem like enough. I know my God is big and He can bring help to the helpless and I know he hears my prayers but why does it feel like I am not doing enough.

I know I written on faith on before and I am still a work a progress, but I recently saw faith int he eyes of a friend here at the missions Dony. He had a story to tell me of the earthquake but I couldn't keep up to his fast talking so I asked Erik to help translate so I could share Dony's faith and how he knows that God would provide for him and his family.

Dony started work at GLA part time, after a stroke left him without work at a local restaurant. Recovering from a stroke in Haiti, let alone during that time providing for his wife and 8 children is a miracle. Dony is an amazing cook, we are blessed by his spirit, and his smile.
On January 11th, Dony at 52 years old had full time work with GLA, his wife sold items on the street and his children from 4 - 25 all went to school. He was blessed and living in a cement block house on a piece of land he owned.

The day the earthquake hit he was travelling in a vehicle with two others from GLA. At first they were not sure it was an earthquake. The truck moved from side to side like a roller coaster ride and the students walking home from school were falling down as they walked. It was an eerie feeling and strange sense of calm. Further down the road they saw the truth. The community of Petionville was falling down, after shocks were hurled, people were running every which way, roads were jammed with people and cars all trying to make sense of the chaos. As they made their way to Morne Lazard, his neigborhood he could only stand helpless and watch. There were people struggling to help those that had been wounded, those that cried our for family members and those that seemed in shock and wandered without speaking. Dony was overjoyed to find his wife and children safe in the street, his house was a pile of rubble, his possessions underneath the broken block and sand, but as he attributes to the grace of God his family was safe. As he and Erick tried to get help for others, they realized the enormity of the situation. They stopped vehicles and asked people to drive the wounded to hospitals but the hospitals were full and throughout the night the situation and the numbers of those hurt and wounded were too much to care for. Dony as he sat and recounted the story was excited to be interviewed but as he told parts his eyes welled up with tears and you knew that the powerless he felt was overwhelming. As Dony prayed thanks to God for his family safety, his neighbour came home and Dony watched as he searched and found all 7 of his family members dead. His wife and all his children had been inside and they all perished, he cried out in pain, ran in and out of the house and then disappeared, only to be seen days later in a state of what we would call catatonic. In Haiti they call it broken and then crazy, but we agreed that the shock of losing his family was too much to bear and he had no where to go, so to this day he lives on the streets, not talking, just walking, and for Dony it is daily reminder of what could have been for him.
Everyone was so afraid to go back into buildings, life in tent cities made them feel safe. Dony now lives with his family in a tent city, hoping to one day save enough money to rebuild. The task of rebuilding starts with clearing away the rubble, salvaging what he can and some days he says he is afraid of building again with cement blocks. This is the norm in Haiti, many are afraid of cement houses, they have seen what can happen. The statistics say over 2 million people are living in tents and over 230,000 dead. Mind boggling for those in the western world that have never witnessed such a catastrophe.

The magnitude of the pain and suffering is incomphrehensible to me. It has touched the world, but it has left a nation weary. Some of the changes I see are that in a country where disabilities were discriminated against and kept behind closed doors now are in the open. In Haiti having your hands and feet to be able to work is so important. Now amputees are as regular as children running in the street as you drive through the city. For Haiti this earthquake will change the way a culture look at handicaps. Other changes include food, transportation,and has become more expensive. Many are calling for a change in government, for social programs to be increased, for a respect for law enforcement, for schools that have closed to be reopened and feeding programs for children to be reimplemented. There are so many needs in Haiti please continue to pray. On January 12 although Dony's children were safe he lost over 25 family members from brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, and cousins. Dony's faith that God will provide has taught me once again that my faith is too small. Please pray a special blessing today for Dony and his family My thanks to Erick who helped with translation and filled in the blanks when I had questions.

All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired.
Martin Luther

Dony and Erick

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lil Boys and Rocks

Yesterday as we were heading up the hill from the mission to the work site we saw something we have seen before but it had us smiling. We were driving and these two little boys about two or three years old were on the side of the road, outside the gate of a home. What caught our eye was that they were way too young to be out on the side of the road alone. I guess I could say by North American standards they were way too young to be on the side of the road, but this is Haiti. So as we drove up, I thought how cute, dressed only in t shirts with bare feet and bums, I marvelled at the grace of God to protect children in Haiti. To protect them from vehicles that drive crazy, protect them from being abducted, a NA mom's worry when children venture out alone, and disease and hygiene as they stood in the wet mud in bare feet. Well it didn't take long to not feel sorry for them because as we drove by, they both threw rocks at the vehicle. So then we were laughing and saying oh my gosh, they had learned that young. To see the smiles as the vehicle passed by and the little boy smile of mischief, we quickly realized for kids in Haiti it is no different than lil boys back home. When Jussi was young he hid in a ditch with his friend Keith and they were throwing snowballs at vehicles, that time he hid and his friend ran, another time Jussi tried to slingshot a rock under a moving vehicle and missed and it hit the truck. So I guess boys will be boys in Haiti and forty years later throwing things at vehicles is still free game for little boy entertainment.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Okay so maybe this pic has nothing to do with the post...but you got to admit it was cute!

As much as Jussi wants to see a burning bush, and of course I would love to see someone raised from the dead, or witness a miracle healing before my eyes, I really would like to be a person who God will use like Paul. A person who is not afraid to share about my unworthiness, not afraid to share the gospel, so faith filled that I would take persecution above betrayal. I think of how great Paul’s ministries were, the documented details of his journeys captured in print for us to read, to be inspired and encouraged centuries later. I am captivated with the knowledge of life on the mission field before Internet and cell phones, before travel was by airplane. My great great grandparents were missionaries to India and Africa in the late 1800’s and although I have little information, I have been blessed with tiny writings published in church bulletins of their ministry and their travels. I am thankful that one day in heaven I will be able to hear of their stories.

Missionaries like Paul were not afraid of transparency, and that is something that has been on my heart for a while. I want to explore how I can be more transparent to those I meet. Many of us have many different masks, those we wear in front of those we meet knowing that we may never meet that person again, the mask we wear with friends, the mask we wear with coworkers and the mask we wear to protect ourselves. Why do we feel that we need to protect ourselves I ponder why are we afraid to let others know who we really are?

I think it is because of emotions and feelings. Feelings are undependable, they make us vulnerable and people can misinterpret feelings. I have been a heart on my sleeve kind of person for a long time. Most often if you are around me you know what my passions are, you know how I think and how I feel at any given moment. I am happy to share what I love, happy to share my opinion LOL and happy to listen and offer encouragement, but how can I remember to let down my guard and let others see what is in my heart. I want to be more of a WYSIWYG, What You See Is What You Get.

I want to be able to have others see “the me” that Jesus sees. The broken me, the sinner me, the helpless me, the unworthy me, and yet he loves me. I want to minister to people about His mercy and grace, His forgiveness and His love. I want to be like the women at the well, okay not the, she had five husbands part, but the one that could not deny who she was, the one that found relief in being known for all her imperfections and went out to share of Jesus in her community John 4:34 (The Message) 34-35Jesus said, "The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started … Well, I'm telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what's right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It's harvest time! .” YEP, I am the one that Jesus called to ministry.

We are so thankful that God has called us to Haiti. Some days when we are homesick, or trying to grasp the enormity of the hurt here in Haiti, we struggle with “Why us?” God shows us every time that he knows us and accepts us just as we are and that He is going to use us. That He has called us. That is the story He wants us to share in Haiti, the transparency of a life with Him, a life of grace, and the beauty of the words He has inspired for future generations to read and to learn from. I am so thankful that today as we head up tot Ft Jacques that He, my Savior, my strength and strong tower is going before me, again, to prepare the day and His plan for me. Now that is cool!

Haitian Prayer:

Your servant doesn't know left from right. Even now I don't know which one of Your hands I am in. Whether I am in the left or the right, it doesn't matter. I am in your hands. That's enough.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Babies- Calm and Chaos

This is Chaos
Some weeks at GLA we see new babies. For the last while we have not received any new babies at all. So imagine our delight when we saw two new babies up at Ft Jacques yesterday morning. After a day full of trying to teach Momma goat to feed her babies we decided she would leave them out in the rain over night, not feed them and so we committed to raising goats. Now we have two other goats due to kid in days so we are hoping to foster these two lil guys out to the one mom. For now we have them in our room, I am feeding every four hours all night long and jokes have started as to whether I am sane or not. Specifically to the Haitians I am not. They have never seen baby goats raised inside, let alone fed with baby bottles. Already they have different personalities and different sounds, how weird is that, I can tell which one is bleeting. Jussi follows me around bleeting "mama" and cat calls across the mission when I walk into a room of "mama cabrit" which in creole in goat. So I can put up with the cat calls, the babies like me, the family dachshund is pretty happy with his role of babysitter and although he had big plans of sleeping on our bed to watch over them Jussi nixed that. I hear him outside I guess it is time to open the door. Off to Ft Jacques today for another distribution and construction.
This is Calm, the smallest one. Breakfast on the Balcony, with Nathan, Hannah and Stanley Froese at GLA we had another baby, Daisy to one of the older moms. Calm and Chaos's mom has no milk, she is undernourished and young. As we were trying to get her to feed them, she stepped on the lil one and now he is bandaged and putting a tiny bit of weight on his back leg. In addition to being malnourished he walks on his knuckles, so he is fighting life most of the time. Today we thought we might lose him, prayed for him and he bounced back. After a tiny bit of Tylenol and having his leg bandaged he is eating again and is very noisy. Chaos was so much stronger when the other mom delivered her afterbirth I rubbed it all over Chaos (she can't count ) and she started licking him and let him nurse. So now she has twins. So praise the Lord he has been fostered out to a new mom and is doing well. (Although I stay quiet around the goats as he leaves the mom and follows my voice LOL) So Chaos is now in the barnyard with his new foster sister Daisy and his new mom and we have taken Calm back home with us. Calm is sleeping but Gus (the dachshund) is quite concerned so he is here sleeping on the bed too. Gus is very good with the baby, licking it clean after I feed him, and is very possessive when the baby is walking around. Never a dull moment in Haiti..and yes everyone still cat calls me "mammmmmmaaa" in goat speak all over the mission.
New baby Daisy and Chaos's new momma

Gus and Calm

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bon dimanche - Have a Good Sunday

Was awake early this morning and was thanking the Lord it was Sunday. Sunday in Haiti is a day to go to church, share lunch and visit and build relationships. Sundays for many churches start at 8am and this morning I knew a community of believers were gathering at L’eglise Evangelique Quadrangulaire. This is the home church of our Foursquare family in Haiti. Next week we will have the privilege of joining them at 7am. Can't wait and will be able to meet Pastor Guy and Sourette that we in our home church in Courtenay have been praying for the past ten years or more. That will be fabulous, thanks to contact made with John and Debbie and Elizabeth.

The sounds of singing echo early in the morning in our neighborhood and I never tire of the accapella sounds that fill the air. We can wake up slower and more relaxed, I wake before 6am each day and church for us starts at 10:15. After church every Sunday the whole group gets together for lunch and some weeks there are over 30 of us. This morning Pastor Brandon is bringing the message and he challenges us each time to walk out God's perfect plan and will for our lives and the purpose each of us has in the larger picture. We are so thankful the Lord has sent him to Haiti and to GLA. This week he started bible studies with the staff and I am excited to have the opportunity to sit in with him. Most of all his stories of bible college and life keep Jussi tearing up he is laughing so hard, so it is good to have him and his family part of our life.

Sunday at home today I am sure looks different for all our family, we miss you all, but we are thankful to be here and to be able to be in Haiti. It is one month today that we will get home, I am sure even now as we realize how soon that is, it will be tough to leave. Haiti has not only stolen our hearts over the years but you leave a part of yourself here every time you go and that is never easy.
Last night we brought some of the lil tykes down to watch Ice Age and eat popcorn and a good time was had by all the staff, visitors and kids.

Prayer requests for today:

Please continue to pray for more containers to be released.
Please pray that I can have a nap.(somewhat selfish I know) LOL Jussi will of course.
Pray for all the children that are waiting for their final papers for their forever families.
Pray for the staff here at GLA, they take such great care of us.
And last but not least that God will show us daily those here that we need to reach out to and those that we can encourage by email. Have a great they say in Haiti..Bon dimanche!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Seeking out the lost....

We have recently been burdened for a man who lives along the road to Fort Jacques. We first started noticing him sitting in the bush a few weeks back. After about 5 days of seeing him sitting alone in the underbrush, with a shirt wrapped on his head, I started asking how we could help. Soon after we noticed he was sitting in a garbage bag or sleeping curled up in a garbage bag, in the morning and still there at the end of the day. Not only were we saddened by the state of living without shelter, the fact he was alone but we ached for the God knowledge to know who he was, what he needed, or how we could help. After asking around we were told that possibly our helping would be a detriment to him and that he may feel threatened and move. So we watched and prayed and looked for signs of community involvement or helping. In any country mental illness is so misunderstood so we felt that until he attempted to make himself shelter we would just let him be. We prayed for his safety, for someone in the community to be watching out for him and that the Lord would reveal how we could help. The Lord gave us wisdom to wait until we saw signs of residency and or makeshift shelter and then we would get him a tent and a blanket.

Praise the Lord this morning I noticed a make shift plastic bag shelter tied to a few bushes. We asked our Haitian staff what they thought about giving him a tent and blanket and got the go ahead from John at GLA to give him a blessing. We stopped by on our way home from the work site in the rain. He was mostly unresponsive to questions of what he wanted to keep, but when I opened the sleeping bag to reveal a blanket his eyes told the story. He did not want the tent, so we put the waterproof fly over the pieces of plastic, told him they were all gifts and said goodbye. I was sorry we had to disrupt his space to talk to him but aside from eyes that told the depth of his hurt, it seemed he was welcoming the gift. The statistics in the years to come of those whose hurt, pain, anguish and despair will tell the story of the earthquake and the post traumatic stress that accompanies a tragedy of this magnitude.
Please continue to pray into this man's life. We do know he is being helped by someone, I noticed a small bowl of food and a spoon. Although I cannot explain my hearts burden for those here in Haiti like him in words, knows that it breaks my heart. I am thankful that I do not need to understand the whole picture but be available when God gives us direction.
(This is once we gave him a sleeping bag and put a tent fly over his pieces of plastic)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers Day from Haiti

Another sunny warm week in Haiti and many opportunities to love babies. To celebrate Mothers Day I would like to celebrate the Haitian moms that because of reasons too numerous to mention love their children enough to ask for help. At GLA some children are here for a short time, while their families try and re group and find shelter and work after the earthquake. Some of the babies will be available for adoption once the government in Haiti allows the process to re-begin. Some of the babies have forever families waiting back home for them and still wait for papers etc to be finished. Many children came from another orphanage that received damage during the earthquake and will go back when the organization is able to repair their building and prepare for their return. At GLA there are two houses with children, the Baby House or Main House and the Toddler House up the road.

The pictures on Picassa Eight

will be from both houses. Go to the link and click on the album Picassa Eight.

Moms around the globe will celebrate the amazing privilege of having a mom. I believe being a mom is a HUGE blessings but not everyone can share in the celebration so rather we celebrate our mothers. Mom's give us life, teach, guide, get us ready for school, marry us off, babysit our kids and continue to be moms in our lives. Mother's Day is a chance to call and say hello, send flowers, have dinner or whatever your family does to honour your moms. I love my Mom.

In Haiti, Mother's Day is celebrated on a different day in the next few weeks and for that I am thankful. Without Hallmark, without pressure from the booming gift market, long ago Haiti decided to celebrate moms. We have had the pleasure of attending church on Mothers Day in Haiti and it truly a time to honour the women who work so hard for their families, whose children are the next generation and who are integral to keeping families together and caring for the community. My prayers go out to each of the moms who this year will be saddened by the sheer devastation to their families that happened one day on January 12. The reminders exist throughout the country everywhere, as piles of rubble collect along road sides, as families struggle with trying to raise children in large 5000 people tent cities, and where food has been cut off from many sources. People in Haiti are still struggling everyday, yes life goes on but I ache every time I see the excess we all have in North America. I realize that my children have never been so traumatized, my children never went without food or water, or a roof over their heads or the uncertainty of what the future would bring, Today as you celebrate Mothers Day and a beautiful lunch or dinner, flowers, chocolates, a trip to the nursery to buy for the garden, pray for the moms in Haiti. Pray that the Lord will give you a face, a name, a situation that you can pray directly into for someone unknown across the miles.

Celebrate with us the awesome opportunity to be in here in Haiti, hugging the babies that have been placed in our care. Each of you are all part of the hugs we give each day, for all that we can accomplish each day because of you back home we are able. For me today I celebrate the amazing privilege that I have of being a mom of having a mom, (hi mom) I send out hugs to all my kids! I love you guys so very much. To…Danielle, Chris, Rachel and Ryland, Nick, Kelsey and Jason, Karly, Carline and TMac and Wadner. To all that we have been blessed to have in our home throughout the years, today I send a long distance hug to you from Haiti.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Distribution Day

We went out to Kenscoff today to start a portion of the distribution for a small community in the mountains. These are the vehicles loaded and full of 160 bags. Fifty tents were in the first vehicle for those that had lost their homes. We will be back up there in another week or so.
Click on the pictures to enlarge them to see better...

Colleen and Robin in the back of the truck handing out the bags. What a blast we have had on the last few weeks.

Second part of the distribution is the 75 large totes that went to staff at GLA, with over 80% that are living in tents. So this is a dear Nanny from the Premmie Nursery. The other picture is Jussi's two friends LOL, not really but a few security fellows that needed to be hired for extra security at the Fort Jacques property. We also have a picture of a crew making hygiene bags up under the tarp.
So next week we will send out over 90 bins with tents, and 200 more bags, in addition to over 30 boxes to a local Haitian doctor for her mission. It has been great to see so much going out and so well received in an orderly fashion. Will post up more pics on Picassa Seven....

Please continue to pray for so many in tents as it rains every night so much...!

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Day In the Life of Jussi and Colleen

My head writes in my sleep and I wish I had more time to write and to share the daily stories we hear, capture the nasty of the bugs, or simply share of the blessings we receive each day but for today I will give you a glimpse into the day of the life of Jussi and Colleen in Haiti.

Our mornings start very early usually around 530am. Today for example before church we assembled a set of bunk beds. I looked at the directions and provided a few prompts, (tongue n cheek) honestly, the directions did not always lead us to the easiest way, but I put together the ladder and drank coffee and supervised. I know for some couples assembling items with tons of little parts and pages of directions can mean heated fellowship but we laughed and teased and voila we had great looking bunk beds. Tomorrow we are getting eight new visitors so we needed one extra bed, so Tuesday am we will have 16 for breakfast, who says life in Haiti is lonely.

Most days we sit on our balcony, do our devotions and plan our day, then we walk down to the main house. I am thinking maybe it is only a kilometre and a bit but it is time to feel the morning sun and see the morning hustle and bustle of those off to work and school. We enjoy especially the opportunity to chat with people along the way. The downside would be dodging vehicles as they come barreling up the hills, spraying loose rock as they go.

Not sure of the incline but Jussi thinks it is 750 feet elevation difference. Halfway down the hill the people line up on the corner to buy water from a shop, they come with buckets, jugs and numerous sized containers to purchase water. All the water is trucked in here, including all the water we use for showers and laundry. Hence the need for army style showers and the conservation of water when doing dishes etc.

Once at the main house we check our email and then muster up a crew to head to Fort Jacques. It is the new site of GLA and up higher in the mountains than we are here, about a thirty minute ride along bumpy windy roads. The area around the Baptist Mission is overflowing with vendors selling their daily wares and tap taps interchanging passengers and people moving and walking about. Many of the ladies are spilling out into the roadway making Tuesdays and Fridays for market days a small single lane that requires skill and patience to manoeuvre without clipping anyone with the mirrors. Not for the faint of heart. The roads then wind their way through the most beautiful countryside, with tiered gardens, large mansion style houses, small shanty areas and one of my favourites, the endless hedges of Hibiscus. Our days at Fort Jacques are filled with sorting and organizing and building relief bags. Yesterday Jussi built a guard shack for the fellows on security, while I planned and organized for the team to come up on Monday to build more distribution packs.

After work we go back to the main house and have dinner with everybody, then up the hill either walking or catching a ride. Walking uphill after work and eating is not always easy and the fact we had visitors name the hill, Thigh-master. I am thinking the long term effects will be good. An evening of visiting with Brandon, Nikki and the kids, and the visitors in the house and by 9pm we are off to bed. Some days we have time to watch a DVD on the computer and some days we wait here and there but for the most part we are always moving. Days seem to go by fast and as April snuck out on us we are thankful for the warmth, the sound of a gentle breeze blowing through the Royal Palms outside our house, the banter of the children playing outside and endless sound of church, morning, noon or night, somewhere, almost all the time someone is singing.

The food at GLA is fabulous and we blessed with water we can drink, a secure space to live in and many people to chat too. A friend mentioned the other day when she was frustrated and crying, that an older Haitian man came over on the street and said to her, "Don't cry, it will be okay, we are a resilient people, and we know that you are here to help us and we will take care of you, and we know that God saved all of us from the earthquake for a purpose, so don't be sad, because everyday is a day to be celebrated." She was so taken about God's purpose to put that person in her path and as she shared I realized the beauty of the Haitian people is not always in the physical but in the depth of their thoughts about God and the quickness they have to remember who we all have to thank for this beautiful day.

This is the day that the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it!

His hands in Haiti and praying that He continues to teach us in ways that we will never imagine. C