One More Time- Preparing to come home

November 14, 2017

 

The time is flying by. November 4th we went to Port Au Prince to pick up our friend Chris Jones , he has been a team member for several years. He came with a cell signal amplifying device to improve our internet. Our internet is improved, we don’t have to go out on the roof to make or receive a phone call. We found late at night, when not many people are using the internet it works really well. We will need to experiment with it to see how we can maximize its capabilities.

Chris also brought over a hundred pairs of shoes. We divided them between two of our schools, fitting the children was a telling story. Many of the children had shoes that were too small. One little girl had two different shoes on. She also had a missing toe nail and an infected toe. The children were very happy to receive the shoes. Many thanks to the people of Dexter Michigan, for donating shoes to the “Creamery” for the school children here in Haiti.

We are having many last-minute meetings with all the groups we are working with. Our cultures are so different that getting a point across can take a very long time. In the US we are taught from the time we are young children how to work in community. Because of our education we are able to understand concepts in-depth (ie density). We try to develop our projects so the community receiving the help also has a realistic investment in the project. This is not the way the Haitians are used to. For years groups come in to Haiti and make changes and then leave. We are far more invested and are asking the same in return from the community. This is a new concept and has been a real challenge to execute. I don’t think there will be much progress while we are gone.

On our way to Port u Prince to get Chris, we stopped and visited a project that starts fruit trees and gives them to people. Tom Baarak runs the project and is very knowledgeable on tropical trees and was a wealth of information. He also gifted us with many new varieties of trees and flowers for our center.

I spent Thursday morning roasting and peeling the cocoa. This took over three hours with many hands helping. I was happy to realize I could follow the conversations around the table and insert my thought or feelings on the subject. This has been a long time coming, lots of studying. Bob’s Creole is also coming; he was able to address the church, without help of an interrupter.

Leaving is always a mixed bag. We are tired and ready to see our wonderful family.  Bob and I already have a schedule to visit many of the churches back home that support The Haiti Project. But we are also sad to leave our friends here, and the many projects we have going.

All and all it will be wonderful to be home. We plan to return to Haiti in January and stay until March, then we will go home to pack the shipping container.

Look forward to seeing many of you. Thank you for your prayers, support, and interest,

Denise sds

A Different side of Haiti

October 25, 2017

A different side of Haiti

Bob and I are spending this week helping out at Mathew 25.Mathew 25 is the Parish Twinning Program’s guest house. It is located in an upper middle class neighborhood in Port Au Prince. They have a Haitian staff and usually American that hosts for a year. The American they had this year needed to cut her stay short so presently they are looking for someone to fill this position. Because of our close ties and support we receive from PTPA Bob and I came to help out with a busy week for the staff. There has been a large group and several other guests here this week.

The devoted teams and individuals we have met are inspiring, we have been able to share ideas and get new insights into our work. As always when serving the Lord, we are receiving more than we have been giving. For some of the guests this is their first visit to Haiti, hearing their impressions brings a new light to our understanding of Haiti. Bob and I have realized we need to be more proactive with encouraging people to visit Haiti. So here is an open invitation to all of you to come and see firsthand what your donations are accomplishing.

The woman who runs Mathew 25 is named Phaimie , she is a lovely middle aged Haitian woman with endless energy. Venders selling fresh fruits and vegetables come to the front gate each morning; I find it a lovely site to watch her choose fresh food for the evening meal. With about thirty guests staying here this week we are glad to be able to help her with all the questions and needs of the guests

The contrast of the people living in this neighborhood is vast. People here are educated; they have cars, electricity, internet, and running water. The children go to school; they all seem to have nice clothes and shoes. We have not been told all week that someone is hungry or asked for money. Having an education makes such a difference in people’s lives; thank you to all of you that are helping the children in our area have an opportunity to receive an education. We truly believe this is making a tremendous difference to the future for the communities in Riviere Mancelle.

We are also taking advantage of being in Port au Prince to purchase art for our Christmas sales when we get home. We found a wonderful store that sold to us wholesale. We found many new items we have not carried before, and some things we have but at a better price. We look forward to sharing these items with you when we return.

After shopping we visited a historic, Hotel Oloffson, this was the setting for the popular novel The Comedians, and had lunch. This was like an hour of vacation, which we really enjoyed. While here in Port au Prince we also got our truck maintenance taken care of.

The people from our village have called to check on us several times. They are always concerned for our safety. I miss them and certainly prefer our life in the country, although having internet access is very nice. We have been able to call our family and friends on face book messenger which helps with the home sickness part of our work here.

Thank you for your prayers and your interest,

Denise s.d.s.

Thank you ! Thank you!

October 16th, 2017

Thank you , Thank you !

The response to our need for shoes has been over whelming. Next year we should have shoes for all of our school children. What a wonderful gift. The generosity of all of you brings tears to my eyes. I am sure you will all be blessed for your kindness.

Last week was a very busy week. We traveled to Atrell an area half way to Kalabot. The road was very bad because of all the rain we have had, and a lot of the road is driving through the river. I thank the Lay Salvatorians regularly for the gift of our truck our ministry would not function without it. We helped build a school in this area several years ago. The winds we experienced from hurricane Irma has pulled up part of the roof. The school needs 50 sheet of tin (they are much smaller here) some tar, nails, and a few boards to repair their roof. We told the director of the school we would be willing to give them the materials, and pay for the “boss man” but they would need to get the parents of the school involved to help in the repairs. The people of the Parishes of St. Thomas and St. Andrews sent roof paint for three of the schools with tin roofs this year. This is one of the schools so the paint will protect the roof from further damage.

Bob and I hosted another agricultural workshop this past weekend. Alex Olivier and agronomist who works with the vanilla came and taught about the importance of vanilla to helping farmers improve their incomes. Because he now knows a little English and my Creole is better we were able to communicate much better. His project in LImbe produced a good crop last year. He told me that my plants are old enough now and should produce next year. When we return in January he will come back to teach me how to stress the plants to encourage them to bloom. They should begin to bloom in late March early April, he will return to show me how to pollinate the flowers. This will mean I will have to return to Haiti in April. We will then have our first beans in June (another trip). The beans will need to be dried, then there is a fermenting process that will require research for me to understand. The drying and fermenting process takes nine months to complete.

This is a project we have been working on for several years. Currently we have thirty- six plants growing at the center. Farmers that attended a workshop a couple of years ago bought plants and some are growing, each person that attended this workshop got two free plants. We will plant another twenty plants at the center this week.

Our goal is that the income from this project will be able to sustain our projects here when we are too old to continue our work here. The young people we are helping to get sponsors for their education will have the skills to run the center, market the products, continue educating the farmers, and administrate the funds to help the community. This is a big dream I can start to see coming together. My heart is singing with joy!

The workshop also included a session on vermi-compost (compost made by worms). We have had great success at the center with this and are producing a lot of compost. This compost has many more rewards than using commercial fertilizer. Our good friend Elwood came and taught the local farmers about how to create and then use the compost. The soil here in Haiti is very poor, this is a way to feed their plants and improve their soil.

I want to share a little more about life here. Last Thursday in preparing for our guests arriving Friday (Elwood, Anita, Alex, and Wilda) I put together a pineapple upside down cake and put in the solar oven. It seems that within minute of putting the cake in the oven the sky clouded up. The ladies and I washed a ton of laundry, and hung it up to dry. I realized my cake was not going to bake so I started a fire in the rocket stove and used the oven Robert Fairchild built to go on top of it. Because I had a fire going I decided to go ahead and prepare the spaghetti sauce for Saturday night. This took all day I finished at three o’clock in time to take the laundry down.

I thought about how hard it is for the woman here. I then realized, they would not bake a cake they wouldn’t have the flour, eggs and sugar to spare. Not to mention they don’t have ovens solar or otherwise. I wash clothes in wash tubs, with a hand crank wringer in the roof using a hose for the water, I did not have to carry the laundry down to the river or carry water to my yard to do the wash. I have clothes lines and clothes pins, I do not have to lay the clothes on rocks or over bushes. My life here is much easier than theirs and I should not complain.

Thank you for all your prayers and your interest,

Denise s.d.s.

Over Whelmed!

October 3 2017

Over Whelmed!

Bob mentioned our young friend who came to visit this weekend. He is a very fine young man, a high school student with very good grades. He has leadership skills and hopes to continue his education into college. He attends church each week and plays the drum for the service. His father has left their family and the mother has very little money. He has told us he doesn’t have money so he can’t eat all day, then when he goes home often he can’t find food. I know most the children here don’t get to eat every day, but when it is a good friend it really brings it home.

He has three siblings, a sister in a vocational school and two younger ones at home. The two younger children are eligible to go to school but can’t attend because like many other children here they don’t have shoes. It is so frustrating! I want to buy the children food, shoes, fix people’s houses ect… ect… But the problems are too great; there are far too many people in this situation. If you help one there are thousands more in line for help.

We try to find solutions but they seem to always have another problem attached. So the kid gets to go to a good secondary school but has no food, how can we expect him to keep his grades up without anything to eat? If we give one kid money so they can eat every day, then what about all the other kids with nothing to eat? If we buy shoes for two children so they can attend school, what about all the other kids?

We do feed children every night what is left on our table; I know our cooks feed some elderly people in the community from our groceries. But how do we reach something sustainable? Some of the road blocks are cultural, not only here in Haiti but universal. We have men leave their families in the US but we have welfare, and job training, and jobs. Opportunities for families to eat, children can go to school, mothers can find jobs.

Bob and I ask if you could please collect shoes (any size) for our next shipping container that will leave in March. We know it is just a Band-Aid but without education there is no hope for change. Your donations to the school lunch program are a big help, the children and staff are thrilled on the days they get a meal. Creating jobs would help but this is also difficult, we continue to strive for more possibilities for the people here. We continue to educate the farmers so they can produce better crops to improve the families’ income. There are also our programs with the women’s groups providing education and training to create art we can bring back to sell. We can see improvements; we can see some of the families are raising themselves up. Jesus did say we would always have the poor among us, I guess it is just hard to live among the poor.

Thank you for your interest, thank you so much for your prayers,

Denise sds

Give us this day our daily bread.

Give us this day our daily bread.

September 30, 2017

Today I sat and listened to a young friend, Louienel, he is in the 13th grade, with two more to go to graduate secondary school.

We have known Louinel since he was an infant. Last week was his birthday, he is now 18.

He has been sponsored in school from the beginning.

He now goes to secondary school five kilometers away in town.

He studies very hard and is doing very well.

Today I asked him what problems he wants to solve in his country. He is thinking about that.

He said he knows that he needs schooling to solve problems.

He would like to be an engineer, or a doctor, or maybe a priest.

Last year he asked me for a bicycle. A friend of ours in the US made that possible.

This year Louinel only comes home from school occasionally and on weekends because he often does not finish school until 6:00 in the evening.

When he stays in town, he stays with another of our young friends older sister. This young man is also in secondary school and also stays with her during the school week.

When Louinel is home on the weekends he prepares for the following week and studies. And visits us. On Sundays he plays drums in church.

Drums are the only instruments we have at church. Drums and singing. The singing is beautiful. So are the drums. Sometimes when the Holy Spirit fills the church, there is dancing.

Today I asked him how his mother was, he replied, “not so good, not so bad”. We have not seen much of her lately. She normally comes to church weekly. Her life is difficult.

His father had asked to come visit us last weekend. His daughter, Louinel’s sister,

needed some tools for a class on electricity she is taking afternoons.

We told him to come. I very well may have the

tools she needs.

He did not come until late Sunday while we were occupied, I told him to wait, but he left.

Today I told Louinel to tell his father to return.

We shall see.

Today Louinel told us he is often hungry. He said that often when he goes home his mother has no food.

His family is better off than most.

Everyone is hungry.

When he visits us, we share food.

It is never enough.

Everyone is hungry.

During lent we collect money to buy food for the children in school. There are 850 children in school.

This year we collected enough money that the children are only going hungry 3 of the five school days a week.

We only buy local food, the money goes into the local economy. Maybe. just maybe, the local people who raise and sell the food to the schools will be able to eat a little more often too….

We have had some success!

September 17, 2017

Sometimes we have successes

Many of you are aware that I have a group of ladies that make rag rugs to sell. When we arrived in Haiti Madam Alexie ( who makes the rugs with a different pattern) brought me three rugs she made over the summer. Her rugs are of the best quality so I sell them for thirty-five dollars. After church on Sunday she stopped Bob and I asking for help with her house. It seems that the high winds we received from Hurricane Irma blew in one wall of her house. She wanted help from us for the repair.

This is difficult; we have two other families who have asked us to build them a new house, because their houses are in such bad repair. Our funds are donated for specific purposes, and the funds that are not specified are used to fill in shortfalls. We don’t have the funds to build houses no matter how real the need is.

That afternoon we had some American visitors, Gail who has been living and working in Haiti for the last year and a half. Asked if I had any rugs? She is returning to the US for a wedding, and needed a present for the young couple. I showed her the three I had and she decided to buy two of them. Madam Alexie needed 15 bags of cement to fix her house, the cost here would be 105.00US for the cement, we fronted her money for the third rug and she had the 105.00Us she needed to fix her house without help from us. I did offer to take her to town to buy the cement and transport it in our truck to save her the delivery charge.

This was seeing real progress in helping the people here to rely on their own abilities to help themselves. I am proud for Madam that through her own skills she was able to repair her home. Yes I do sell the rugs but to me this is giving a hand up not a hand out.

Our young friend Maxo (young man we helped to get to hospital in the south of Haiti) had surgery to cover his bedsores this week. I got a report that he did well in surgery, and will be able to move to the rehab facility in a few days. I praise God for this blessing in his life.

We have spent a lot of time this week at the hospital; this is confusing and tiring work. One of the patients’ we brought back from Port with us last week had abdominal surgery. She needed to go on Monday to the local hospital to have the stitches removed. The doctor here has wanted to see her every other day to be sure she doesn’t get an infection. A man in our village came to us with a tooth infection that was visible on the outside on his face, and another gentleman has a hernia in his groin I wanted o be verified before setting up surgery in Port for him. Although Bob and I hadn’t planned on medical (other than supporting the clinics) being a part of our ministry here it’s hard to ignore the need.

Although we have been once again spared from a direct hit from Hurricane Marie we have had a lot of rain, the roads are so muddy! But everything is very green. I pray for all those that have been hit by ll this year’s hurricanes.

Thank you for your prayers and interest,

Denise sds

safe and sound

September 12, 2017

Safe and sound

After many preparations and concern we and our many friends here were spared from Irma’s path. We have several bananas plants down and papaya trees but no other damage. We got a lot of rain and wind. We have heard that the bridge connecting Haiti with the Dominican Republic is down and there has been flooding in certain areas, but nothing devastating. Considering what happened last year with Hurricane Matthew we feel very blessed. In church on Sunday they thanked God they were all spared.

We have very little internet here we can message on Facebook or Whatsapp but not really google something, so we had to rely on family and friends for information on the path of the hurricane. It is like being blind in this age of technology. We are very spoiled in the US to have all this information available at all times. Not everyone working here in Haiti has this problem. Those here full time or those who work in a city can get better internet but it is expensive and we don’t have the funds for it. Sr. Jackie and Sr. Pat are very kind to let us come and use their internet whenever we want.

For the last week we have had a steady stream of parents coming to ask for money to send their children to secondary school. We chose six; three we have been sponsoring and three new kids. They have to bring us their report cards to prove they are attending and passing their classes. We feel they are truly the hope for sustainability in the area. The workshop a couple of weeks ago was proof of what can be accomplished with education.

Robert has been a great help to us in many ways. He had an experience in Africa several years ago working with a mission there. He has been encouraging us that our work here is very important and he feels we are doing a good job. He has drawn up plans for the new school at Kalabat , now we can get estimates for the construction. The sisters are anxious to get started and have all ready gotten some of the materials. Until we can find funding children will have classes in the church and we bought several tarps to make temporary class rooms. Robert will fly home God willing on Friday. We will take him into Port on Thursday. We will bring a patient that had abdominal surgery home with us.

My friend Anita now lives in the South of Haiti close to where the hospital Maxo is in. She had to go to the hospital for another patient and she broke her toe. So she checked in on Maxo, she reported he is doing well. His sister is with him and they are planning on doing surgery this week to cover the wounds where the bed sores are. I am so happy to hear this report and look forward to seeing his progress in the rehab program once he is well enough to start.

Last Sunday I took several people to Gonaives to pick up a man who had TB and was in Mother Theresa’s hospital there. The hospital is very beautiful and everything is very clean. The sisters of Charity are always such a delight. They always seem so happy and so are their patients. Our friend looked very good and seemed to be recovered well. The trip takes over an hour but is really only 20 miles away. The road has been slightly improved but you can still only travel about 20 kilometers an hour. The family invited us to come and visit. We don’t usually visit our neighbors they come to our house so this will be interesting.

We got news a good friend and supporter died yesterday. We are very sad we have been praying for him and his family. This makes it hard to be way the times we miss with family and friends. Although we try to make up for it when we return it is not the same as being there at the time of the event.

Last night Geri and Gail the two volunteers at the Sisters house invited us for dinner. It was wonderful food and fellowship. We were happy for a little diversion things have been pretty intense these last few weeks.

Thank you for your prayers and your interest,

Denise sds

September 12, 2017

Safe and sound

After many preparations and concern we and our many friends here were spared from Irma’s path. We have several bananas plants down and papaya trees but no other damage. We got a lot of rain and wind. We have heard that the bridge connecting Haiti with the Dominican Republic is down and there has been flooding in certain areas, but nothing devastating. Considering what happened last year with Hurricane Matthew we feel very blessed. In church on Sunday they thanked God they were all spared.

We have very little internet here we can message on Facebook or Whatsapp but not really google something, so we had to rely on family and friends for information on the path of the hurricane. It is like being blind in this age of technology. We are very spoiled in the US to have all this information available at all times. Not everyone working here in Haiti has this problem. Those here full time or those who work in a city can get better internet but it is expensive and we don’t have the funds for it. Sr. Jackie and Sr. Pat are very kind to let us come and use their internet whenever we want.

For the last week we have had a steady stream of parents coming to ask for money to send their children to secondary school. We chose six; three we have been sponsoring and three new kids. They have to bring us their report cards to prove they are attending and passing their classes. We feel they are truly the hope for sustainability in the area. The workshop a couple of weeks ago was proof of what can be accomplished with education.

Robert has been a great help to us in many ways. He had an experience in Africa several years ago working with a mission there. He has been encouraging us that our work here is very important and he feels we are doing a good job. He has drawn up plans for the new school at Kalabat , now we can get estimates for the construction. The sisters are anxious to get started and have all ready gotten some of the materials. Until we can find funding children will have classes in the church and we bought several tarps to make temporary class rooms. Robert will fly home God willing on Friday. We will take him into Port on Thursday. We will bring a patient that had abdominal surgery home with us.

My friend Anita now lives in the South of Haiti close to where the hospital Maxo is in. She had to go to the hospital for another patient and she broke her toe. So she checked in on Maxo, she reported he is doing well. His sister is with him and they are planning on doing surgery this week to cover the wounds where the bed sores are. I am so happy to hear this report and look forward to seeing his progress in the rehab program once he is well enough to start.

Last Sunday I took several people to Gonaives to pick up a man who had TB and was in Mother Theresa’s hospital there. The hospital is very beautiful and everything is very clean. The sisters of Charity are always such a delight. They always seem so happy and so are their patients. Our friend looked very good and seemed to be recovered well. The trip takes over an hour but is really only 20 miles away. The road has been slightly improved but you can still only travel about 20 kilometers an hour. The family invited us to come and visit. We don’t usually visit our neighbors they come to our house so this will be interesting.

We got news a good friend and supporter died yesterday. We are very sad we have been praying for him and his family. This makes it hard to be way the times we miss with family and friends. Although we try to make up for it when we return it is not the same as being there at the time of the event.

Last night Geri and Gail the two volunteers at the Sisters house invited us for dinner. It was wonderful food and fellowship. We were happy for a little diversion things have been pretty intense these last few weeks.

Thank you for your prayers and your interest,

Denise sds

September 12, 2017

Safe and sound

After many preparations and concern we and our many friends here were spared from Irma’s path. We have several bananas plants down and papaya trees but no other damage. We got a lot of rain and wind. We have heard that the bridge connecting Haiti with the Dominican Republic is down and there has been flooding in certain areas, but nothing devastating. Considering what happened last year with Hurricane Matthew we feel very blessed. In church on Sunday they thanked God they were all spared.

We have very little internet here we can message on Facebook or Whatsapp but not really google something, so we had to rely on family and friends for information on the path of the hurricane. It is like being blind in this age of technology. We are very spoiled in the US to have all this information available at all times. Not everyone working here in Haiti has this problem. Those here full time or those who work in a city can get better internet but it is expensive and we don’t have the funds for it. Sr. Jackie and Sr. Pat are very kind to let us come and use their internet whenever we want.

For the last week we have had a steady stream of parents coming to ask for money to send their children to secondary school. We chose six; three we have been sponsoring and three new kids. They have to bring us their report cards to prove they are attending and passing their classes. We feel they are truly the hope for sustainability in the area. The workshop a couple of weeks ago was proof of what can be accomplished with education.

Robert has been a great help to us in many ways. He had an experience in Africa several years ago working with a mission there. He has been encouraging us that our work here is very important and he feels we are doing a good job. He has drawn up plans for the new school at Kalabat , now we can get estimates for the construction. The sisters are anxious to get started and have all ready gotten some of the materials. Until we can find funding children will have classes in the church and we bought several tarps to make temporary class rooms. Robert will fly home God willing on Friday. We will take him into Port on Thursday. We will bring a patient that had abdominal surgery home with us.

My friend Anita now lives in the South of Haiti close to where the hospital Maxo is in. She had to go to the hospital for another patient and she broke her toe. So she checked in on Maxo, she reported he is doing well. His sister is with him and they are planning on doing surgery this week to cover the wounds where the bed sores are. I am so happy to hear this report and look forward to seeing his progress in the rehab program once he is well enough to start.

Last Sunday I took several people to Gonaives to pick up a man who had TB and was in Mother Theresa’s hospital there. The hospital is very beautiful and everything is very clean. The sisters of Charity are always such a delight. They always seem so happy and so are their patients. Our friend looked very good and seemed to be recovered well. The trip takes over an hour but is really only 20 miles away. The road has been slightly improved but you can still only travel about 20 kilometers an hour. The family invited us to come and visit. We don’t usually visit our neighbors they come to our house so this will be interesting.

We got news a good friend and supporter died yesterday. We are very sad we have been praying for him and his family. This makes it hard to be way the times we miss with family and friends. Although we try to make up for it when we return it is not the same as being there at the time of the event.

Last night Geri and Gail the two volunteers at the Sisters house invited us for dinner. It was wonderful food and fellowship. We were happy for a little diversion things have been pretty intense these last few weeks.

Thank you for your prayers and your interest,

Denise sds