Sunday, December 7, 2014

An update from Joel

We have definitely arrived at our Haiti Home!

    Yes, we are alive and well, and we are definitely in Haiti!  Thanks be to God who is our rock, our provider, and our sustainer.  We have been able to get "snippits" of information out via this blog, FaceBook, and other personal contacts.  We also realize our broader audience of supporters probably want to know sa k ap pase avek nou? (What is happening with you?)

RMI Retreat Center at Zanglais
     First, let me say that moving to a foreign country requires a substantial transition time even if you've visited there several times before. We have settled in fairly well for the most part; but, even after almost three months, we are aware of how little we now know or understand about the culture and language of Haiti.  We also understand more than ever the importance of becoming conversant in the language here. In spite of the fact that we both have made some cultural "booboos," everyone has been great at giving us an extra measure of grace. This makes us even more committed than ever to learning Haitian Creole well and to understanding the culture through that process - with the Lord's help of course!

   Secondly, taking on new jobs adds another layer of stress. My primary focus is facilities maintenance for FIVE different buildings/properties that are used in the RMI ministry, as well as serving as a missionary host to sister church teams visiting Haiti. My two greatest hindrances so far has been health issues and my dying old desktop computer. After a round of shingles affecting my right arm from shoulder to thumb, a severe case of gastro-intestinal misery, followed by a super high fever from a respiratory infection slowed my adjustment here.  Well, we are happy to say I'm "back in the saddle" and feeling stronger every day. The ailing computer didn't fare as well and eventually had to be replaced; but, the problem is solved and I'm making progress in that area, too!

Behind the church at Morency
Pastor's Home at Abricot

A little water in Desriveaux!

I've had the opportunity to go out with two church teams visiting their sister churches, and work with another team here in Simon on a house that will eventually be our home.  It will have two apartments and we'll live upstairs.  For one of the two trips, I went with Rob Thompson to Abricot, Haiti just for the weekend to see the sister church there . The visiting sister church from the US was there throughout the week engaged in their project. The second visit with the sister church team was to Desriveaux, Haiti where I spent the entire time with the team.  Their projects included evangelism and bringing water filters and food to families there. It rained the entire week so we were soaked along with being blessed.  Laura said there was NO rain in Les Cayes! It even rained on me during the night!

Grinding Coffee the Old Fashion Way

 Laura's area of service has changed rather dramatically from what she had expected; but, God has prepared her for this role, too. They did tell us in missionary training that being flexible is the most important characteristic of a good missionary!  Well, her flexibility is really being stretched, no pun intended!  She needed to step into a position in RMI that was left vacant when another young lady recently left. Laura will be primarily responsible for coordinating sister church teams and projects coming to Haiti to visit with their Haitian sister church.  She is responsible for communication and making sure the teams have everything in order when they come down. It's primarily a computer-based job right now, but God prepared her for this task with her years in a lot of computer work in higher education. It's a huge task for someone as new to the organization as we are, but she is working hard to "get up to speed." Thanks to Rob Thompson, the Field Director for being a great resource.  She will still be developing protocols and helping to coordinate health care/medical sister church teams, but other parts of her healthcare role are on hold.

Didine - What a great cook, "tutor," and help!

Overall, in spite of the normal pitfalls and roadblocks that occur in life, we are very excited and happy to be here, convinced more than ever that we are where God wants us to be! We feel at home. We serve an amazing God who blesses us every day. He not only points us in the direction we need to go, but makes it possible for us to get there!   Major blessings are that we have great folks from different nationalities to work with; we have an amazing Haitian cook (who doubles as a Creole teacher!); we have a wonderful Haitian pastor who is our official Creole tutor; there is a young American woman living behind us, who has become like another daughter to us; and, we have many other blessings too numerous to mention.

  Please continue to pray for our health and stamina, as well as our ability to learn Creole. Pray, too, for the situation surrounding the house where we will eventually live and share with the young German couple and their two little girls.

 Finally, what can we say, but THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all your prayers and financial support! We are truly humbled and greatly blessed by all that God has done through you all.  We can say with Isaiah 12: 2-4. "Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Beautiful Experiences as Relationships grow

Soon after we came, we were struck by the sounds at our house and the beauty of the people of Haiti.  As we go to work by walking, riding the "moto" or four-wheeler or sometimes a truck, we are greeted by a huge smile and "Bonjou!"  At the office, the Haitian staff greet us with a smile, handshake, and "Bonjou. Koman-ou ye?" (Good morning.  How are you?) We are learning to respond with a variety of phrases, but always return the greeting.  It is considered polite.

We are so thankful for the warmth shown us by all the staff with their patience and helpfulness with our hesitant, incorrect, attempts at Kreyol. (the Haitian way to spell Creole which is French).  They just smile and correct us.  Along with that, we have Kreyol lessons three mornings a week with a Haitian pastor whose English is great.  After two months, he softly responds when we say, "Oh!  I forget that word!" And finally, is our wonderful cook and housekeeper, Didine.  She is amazing in the work she does with just a few hours a day.  She may make bread, have 12:00 dinner ready, AND mop all the floors and clean the bathrooms before we come home to eat at noon.  As we sit to eat, she always joins us, prays with us, and helps us with our Kreyol. She speaks a little English, but has won us over with her Haitian dishes.

We love to walk to work or church rather than ride our "moto" (four-wheeler). I wrote on Facebook, but will repeat an experience I had recently.  It was dusk and I was walking home from the weekly (missionary) Ladies Tea.  I met an older man along the road and said the customary greeting "Bonswa (Good evening). Koumon-ou ye?" He responded, talking so fast I didn't understand except I knew a lot of what he was saying was in French.  I said that I didn't understand, that I spoke on a little Kreyol.  His response was so beautiful.  He raised his hands to heaven, looked up and said "Papa Seye pou ou ak pou mwen." God, our Lord is for you and for me.  Then, I said good night and God bless you (in Kreyol). He responded the same and went on his way pushing a wheelbarrow.