His Heart for Haiti

Giving Hope Through Child Sponsorship


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Covid-19 Updates!

Recently God provided lots of rainbows to remind us He is faithful!

God knows! That is something Haitians say all the time. This describes well the last few months. “God knows” just covers it better than anything else…because it is so true!

Because of Covid-19 Susie and Grace had flights to return to Haiti that never materialized. So they moved into Grant’s new apartment and made the best of it while we waited. As the months continued on it became very obvious that I had to return to the U.S. if we were to be together again anytime soon.

Pastor Peterson explaining the Community Development program to pastors!

Because of Covid-19 the new Community Development program we are helping with has slowed down. Pastor Peterson recently qualified and met with pastors about the program, but we are not able to begin the training until larger groups are allowed to get together. In retrospect it has been a blessing to have lots of time for he and I to work together and be positioned to start the program well.

Being dropped off at the Cayes airport to begin a long day of travel!

God provides! Last week I was able to fly back to Indiana with missionary Jan Gutwein on his personal plane. Once the day was worked out things moved along quickly, and we were soon airborne! We dropped off two other missionaries in Florida, Sheila Moser and Diane Vrooman. The flights from Haiti to the U.S. and from Florida to Indiana were long and interesting, but our reunion with our wives was the perfect ending to the day!

Jan Gutwein’s plane that brought us safely back!

The all-day flight has ended!

God cares! After Susie picked me up in Indiana last week we began a two-week quarantine (and late anniversary get-away) together in Holmes County, Ohio. I was exhausted and we were thankful for these days to catch up, pray and reassess. How long until we can return to Haiti? God knows that too.

Together again!

Trinity continues to teach at her little school in Bonne Fin. She will be busy moving into the new school once the school year is over soon! She is hoping to come back during the summer but that isn’t certain. Grace has her eyes on the goal of finishing her freshman year soon. She is thankful that her teachers in Haiti have been working with her almost daily by internet. She has been enjoying her Ohio friends a lot since her stay here has been extended again!

An entire year of learning together!

Lots of fun art projects!

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The new Bonne Fin school is coming along!

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New murals are popping up inside!

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The Child Care library is slowly gaining momentum!

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The sweet family we are helping my brother build a house for!

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It now has a roof just in time for the rainy season!

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The small original stone and mud hut is directly in front of the new house!

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We can’t do everything, but we all can do something that’s in our power to do!


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HVAC Work Team and Other Updates!

It was great to have visitors for lunch again!

It was a great boost to have a team of four come from Ohio this month to install the office air conditioning units! The team worked together so well and so quickly we had time to explore Haiti a little bit too! A special thanks goes out to Ethan Schar, Ben Schar, John Rufener and Brandon Luginbuhl who served us here.

Saying goodbye to the kids Sunday morning at the massive Renault Sunday School!

Around 1,500 kids!

Thanks for your visit!

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Sunday afternoon visit to St. Louis Island with two other work teams and the Steiner family!

Visiting Eric and Melanie Stoller at the dairy farm!

Time for a little farm tour!

Meeting a few cows!

Leave it to the experts!

Flying right along!

Drilling hole number ten in the sun!

The office workers even had a little cake party to say thanks!

We were able to visit Hospital Lumiere, the Cancer Redemption Center, Centre Lumiere (Domestic Center) and David Brown’s school. We also took some gifts and supplies to the homes of two older sick ladies.

We drove to a waterfall but the water was sort of at flood stage!

They found the beach to be much more relaxing!

A new community discipleship program is starting! It is a huge blessing to get to assist with a new HarvestCall program in Haiti called GCCD (Gospel centered community discipleship). We are training a Haitian who will then teach communities across the south with God’s Word so they can rise out of spiritual and physical poverty. It is a huge visionary five-year program with the goal to transform many hearts, churches and communities. The training includes application activities for the church to work on together; for example, repairing an elderly lady’s home or digging a well. We are preparing the first teaching module for the Haitian context and also selecting churches to begin working with. We would really appreciate your prayers as we want to prepare well and work effectively. God is our strength.

Pastor Peterson Benjamin is the administrator of the new program!

We are still separated! Susie and Grace are still in Ohio since the coronavirus issue stopped their planned return. We are thankful God is providing places for them to stay and we are hopeful they can return soon. Thanks for your prayers as we can really feel them! God is our peace.


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Teachers Needed at the Missionary School!

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The front entrance to the Citè Lumiere Missionary School (CLCS).

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Grace and Annie Cameus (the only two freshmen) have been buds for six years!

Here is a short update on Grace’s school! (Grace is currently in Ohio but continues her freshman year of schooling by “extension”–via email–with her teachers in Haiti! The curriculum is challenging and homework takes most of her day.) There are only 25 kids enrolled this year, with two teachers and the principal that also teaches a few classes, but the teachers are currently quite stretched covering all the ages.

Students have to be able to speak English to attend and this year about half are American and half are Haitian. Two moms are teaching French which is required in Haiti. Having this school is a blessing because it allows the parents to serve full-time in their ministries while their kids receive a good Christian education far from home.

A principal’s office was built two years ago and then a new classroom was added last year, the first time the school was modified in over 5o years! That room will be used for a science lab, but it can be divided in half later if necessary. There is an ever-expanding school library that serves both the students and the surrounding missionary community.

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Phys Ed is always interesting!

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You will find those two together again!

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Lunch with Miss Stakes, Grace’s current teacher from Louisiana!

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First through third grades are in the same room this year!

Teachers are currently needed! Grace has loved every Christian teacher she has had the past six years! Teachers are volunteers and come for one to ten years based on their unique circumstances. Some are supported by organizations working in Haiti, some are supported by their home churches. Susie and I are serving on the school board and the board is trusting God that we will have teachers next year! We are also praying that God would send a husband and wife to serve our school long-term. God is able to do far more than we ask or think! Please contact us or the school principal (see the flyer above) if you have any questions.

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Thanks for visiting our quirky old school!

 

 

 


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Separation and Updates

A family trying to straddle between two worlds is interesting, to say the least! After enjoying Christmas and New Year’s with our families and a weekend trip to Dinold and Karla’s wedding in Oregon, Mike and Trinity went back to Haiti while Susie and Grace stayed in Ohio for awhile longer. Susie plans to continue helping with her Dad’s care and Mike and Trinity needed to return to work. Mike went back to the Child Care office which was open again and Trinity returned to the Bonne Fin Missionary school where her students were all waiting! After several months together we suddenly were all going in different directions!

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Dinold and Karla were married January 5 in Oregon!

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The happy new couple!

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Enjoying Multnomah Falls in Oregon!

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“We forgot our hiking shoes Mom!”

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We had the opportunity two times to present Child Sponsorship and our journey in Haiti!

Susie and Grace are staying at Rudy & Polly Zollinger’s farm, taking care of Paisley the poodle, lots of cats and 21 goats! Grant moved in with them temporarily and they are all enjoying the change and quiet of the country. Meanwhile things back in Haiti also are very calm and seem almost surreal since there was so much unrest so recently. Medical and construction teams are visiting as normal as the highways are open and clear for the most part. The weather is great so far in both places, relatively speaking!

Our main focus is using our time wisely wherever we are, whatever we are doing. Seeing parents age and friends pass away, we see that time is short on earth! 2020, here we go…

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The goats are always happy to see us!

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Wow, it’s really cold in this barn!

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Paisley has been a lot of fun!

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Trinity is settling back in! New specs add to her teacher image!

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The new school in Bonne Fin is quickly getting completed!

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Painting the inside is almost finished!

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The kids love their Friday visit to the hospital!

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They made these sweet messages to hand out to a few lucky patients!

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Grass and landscaping are growing quickly at Child Care!

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Meanwhile, the shelves have arrived for a small library upstairs! Books are obviously needed!

 

 

 

 


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Unexpected Sabbatical!

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Flying to Port on a Mission Aviation Flight (MAF).

As the unrest in Haiti continued to rise, most of the schools we work in closed and our Child Sponsorship office also closed for many weeks in a row. (Weeks later it is still dangerous for schools to operate or the office to open to the public for fear of being targeted by violence.) The missionary school where Trinity was teaching in Bonne Fin was also halted in Bonne Fin when the families there transitioned back to the States. We realized we had more to take care of in the U.S. than in Haiti, and the door opened for our return.

We stopped for a short break in Florida and Illinois, then we settled back into the Hartzler’s basement in Ohio where we stay in the summers. Trinity and Grace have loved seeing the seasons change; first the leaves and now the first fallen snow! We are feeling blessed to have more time with Grant and also Susie’s parents and family.

With the colder weather keeping us inside, we are finally finding time to work on several new Bible studies for sharing in Haiti. This unexpected break has turned into such a gift to allow us to prepare these studies, as well as make other future plans.

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The 45 min. flight is such a gift compared to the usual 4-5 hour drive!

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A short stay in Florida!

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Change of scenery!

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Our back entrance door! Patios for Patriots just gave this new patio to veteran Stan Hartzler!

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We were glad to be present for the big “reveal” when the patio was presented to Stan!

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It has been six years since Grace experienced this!

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First snow of the season!

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Precious quality time with our parents!

 


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Haiti Unrest Continues

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A view of tires burning in Les Cayes from our back porch!

The political unrest in the country hasn’t stopped very much all year. Food prices have continued to climb as the currency is devalued. Now there is a gas shortage that is really impacting everyday life here. Schools have not started, no one is able to get anywhere or buy and sell and there is so much tension in the air. People glare at you (or demand something) when you come out of the store with groceries probably because they aren’t eating much these days. People are getting robbed driving down the road because if you have gas you are rich! It’s like everyone is grabbing what they can get for themselves even more than usual.

Schools in Haiti tried to start in September but they all gave up. If they remained open, they felt vulnerable to attack. They will try to start in October again is what we are hearing. Thankfully for the most part it feels relatively safe around our mission compound which covers two adjoining hills. Our local missionary school has been open when possible except the days when major disturbances are announced.

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Our local missionary school that Grace attends!

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Mike planned the new classroom that was built over the summer!

Grace jumped up to 9th grade this year since other kids in her class moved back in June and she was the only one left in 8th grade. There was also only one 9th grader too–her friend Annie–so Grace was able to join her! She has the same teacher as last year who she really enjoys! So some things are different and some things are the same.

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Grace and her best friend Annie, the 9th graders!

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The high school class, grades 9 and 11!

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We have been assisting recently in the youngest class, grades 1, 2 and 3!

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With schools closed, many sponsored students have time to write their sponsors letters at Child Care!

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On weekends, the room easily transforms into a pickleball court!

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Recent visitors have blessed us! We are working on a new HarvestCall community development program!

Things around here continue to happen about the same as much as is possible, although we are living on edge. The unsettled feeling we all have is always present, affects everything we do, and forces us to either choose giving in to fears or to trust the Lord. The Lord is our refuge in times of trouble!

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Fresh beef!

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Fresh chicken!

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It’s a blessing to share what we have with Haitian friends!

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Sharing God’s Word is more important than physical food (with Dinold’s sister)!

 


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Trinity’s New Role in Bonne Fin!

Trinity’s classroom in Bonne Fin!

Trinity has been living and working in Bonne Fin for almost two months now! She has been enjoying her new role as teacher for the children of the families serving at Hospital Lumiere. Among other responsibilities, she enjoys teaching the kids Bible and Creole, as well as taking them on weekly visits around the hospital!

Each student has their own curriculum and videos to watch!

Bonne Fin isn’t terribly far from our home in Les Cayes, but with half the drive being rough mountain roads, it is about an hour drive. We see Trinity almost weekly, thankfully, since the families there are obligated to get mail and supplies here in Les Cayes! She can catch a ride pretty easily.

After living with us for five years in the city, Trinity is enjoying exploring a new area in the mountains (new to her)! There is also a big difference between people in rural and metropolitan Haiti. Wherever you hike, invariably you will get invited into someone’s home to get to know them.

Friend Ruthie Feucht will be her roommate in a few months!

Hiking with others after school!

Hiking with us on the weekend!

New people to meet are literally everywhere in Haiti!

Traveling on top the Land Cruiser to get to the swimming hole!

The nearest swimming hole is down the mountain!

Another huge find is the hospital itself. Trinity has found that many patients are lonely, afraid, and in need of visits. She loves to share the gospel where possible and encourage some in their faith. Some are there for quite a long time. The hospital is only a short walk away from her current home at the hospital guest house and she finds it a blessing to spend her free time encouraging others. And every Friday, it’s a great opportunity to take her students there as well!

Here they come to visit Hospital Lumiere!

Special things are planned with each visit!

New babies to see!

Sharing gifts or songs with kids!

Interacting with the people takes courage!

Bryce made a new friend!

Art classes for all the kids!

Two of a kind!

School days in Haiti are for making memories!

 


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Haiti on Our Minds

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All together again for a short time!

Furlough is always a great time to reconnect with family and friends! It is also an important time to reassess our calling to Haiti and our past service, all the while preparing for another term ahead. We are constantly talking about Haiti and making plans for what we want to accomplish going forward and how to give God more glory. We want to be very intentional and Spirit-led in everything. It is a wonderful challenge.

We enjoyed camping, a short trip to downtown Chicago (Grace had never been there!), seeing Evan & Leah several times, and just being back in Ohio with family & friends. At the end Susie and I had a special week getaway in Tennessee. (We decided it has been 25 years since that was possible!) All the while, Haiti was never far from our minds. God puts the desire in our heart just to love people there, give the gospel message where we can, and encourage them to a closer walk with Jesus.

Trinity traveled back to Bonne Fin, Haiti at the end of July. She jumped right into teaching several missionary kids that had recently moved there. She already loves it and is looking forward to all the opportunities to share the gospel and meet new Haitian friends, as well as do life with the other missionaries there!

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Evan & Leah came camping with us one weekend and Susie’s dad visited a few times!

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Grace’s teacher from Haiti–Miss Stakes–also camped with us two nights!

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We also enjoyed time with Grant and Dinold when we could!

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A great catch!

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Our short Chicago trip in July!

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Visiting the bean was a must!

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The Chicago Art Museum!

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A Monet moment!

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The Miniature Rooms are our favorite!

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Another favorite is the Lincoln Park Conservatory!

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Chicago-style pizza gets a smile!

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Handing out tracts and sharing Christ at the Lego store!

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Cousin time!

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Always time to praise!

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Our Tennessee get-away cabin above Chattanooga!

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Hiking near the Tennessee River!


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From Haiti to the USA

IMG_5004It seems to happen every year. Ten months simply flies by and we are faced with getting organized for our summer return to the USA. It is always a lot of work, but so worth it!

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The pile of rocks that will transform into our new side yard wall over the summer!

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Saying goodbye to Tessa, Grace’s best friend in Cite Lumiere for the past 5 years!

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Trinity moving to Bonne Fin! After returning in July she will be the teacher there this Fall!

Because of ongoing demonstrations and many roadblocks on the highway to the airport in Port-au-Prince, we were unsure how we would get there. We were blessed to find a small plane with room for four returning to Port the same day as our intended flight to Ohio! As we flew up, little did we know we were in for a day of adventure…

This was our first time flying from Cayes to Port! We were amazed to see the countryside pass beneath us. Everything was pretty unfamiliar from a different viewpoint except when we followed the highway we could make out the major towns. As we landed in Port, the left wheel did not rotate on touching down! It quickly started smoking and then blew! Mike saw the whole thing. The pilot also saw it and started braking very quickly, so the landing was fairly smooth all things considered.

We truly give God thanks for intervening for us. Thankful for the many prayers on our behalf. We never had to deplane on the runway before. A truck quickly came out with a new tire and whisked us back to the terminal. We weren’t even able to say thanks to the pilot!

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Pushing up the plane to change the flat tire!

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Our first experience together out on the runway!

We had a surprise waiting on each of our next two flights, too. Flying to Atlanta, a couple with two Haitian girls from Green Bay, Wisconsin sat in the same row as we did. We quickly found out they had just adopted the two girls and were on their way home! They had endured eight trips over the last six years, and we were the lucky ones to watch them finally go home together!

Flying to Cleveland, Susie sat right next to another missionary from Haiti she had started talking to before we boarded, who was on her way home to Holmes County, Ohio. Of all the seats on that plane, they ended up sitting together! They were so excited to get to continue to talk the whole flight! It was special a visit.

Evan and Leah were waiting to pick us up in Cleveland! We were so happy to be safely home, back with loved ones again, and enjoying much cooler weather. God is so good. We are blessed to be staying with Stan and Gloria Hartzler in Orrville, Ohio again this summer, as we have the past three!

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A Trip to Grand Anse: God Provides!

This past week my mom and I spent the week on school visits in an area called Grand Anse. It was a true Haitian experience! As you see in the title, what we took away from this trip is that “God provides.” And He did so from the very start!

Ordered fish – if only we knew how much of it we’d get the rest of the week!

On Monday afternoon after two hours of bumpy and curvy roads, we arrived in Jeremie, where we planned to stay the night. Upon arriving, we found out where we planned to stay wasn’t going to work out. As we talked about plan B, three white ladies pulled up next to us. We were ever so glad to hear they spoke English and were from the States! And better yet, they were in Haiti to serve the Lord! We told them about our overnight situation. Right away they invited us to their guesthouse for the night! After pointing us to a good restaurant, we headed their way. You see? God provides.

The three ladies who let us stay at their place!

It was a real blessing to hear about their ministry, encourage one another and make connections with them. We even got French press coffee in the morning!

Here is where the ladies run an American school and teach students God’s Word!

They sent us off Tuesday morning with a prayer and off we went to do our school check-ups. We soon found out that a lot of the schools we wanted to visit on this trip were closed due to an extra week of Easter break. That was a bummer and it changed our plans quite a bit. But being flexible is something Haiti has taught us!

Most of the schools we visited were along the coast.

The view from the first school. They said in this area you can spot Cuba at night!

The youngest class didn’t know what to think at first…

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But like any kids, it didn’t take them long to warm up when shown love!

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The middle preschool class!

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The oldest class of the three!

The pastor and kids saying goodbye!

Next we headed back to the same restaurant for a late lunch. It was full of men watching TV while waiting for their food! Susie wanted to share the gospel with them but the TV was too loud. She asked Marie Lucie and Junior if she could turn it off. They both looked at her funny and shook their heads. My mom barely got out the words, “With God nothing is impossible!” when all the power went off! All of our mouths dropped open! Junior and Marie Lucie looked at her again but this time said “Well, Go!” As Susie talked with them, the three of us sat shocked in the back, prayed and praised God for the door He just opened! You see? When we couldn’t, God provided.

Later we stopped at a gas station and had some good spiritual conversations with others. When we went on our way again, we got a flat tire. Thankfully it happened at just the right time, before it got too dark! Again, God provides.

Poor Junior got stuck with three girls!

We drove on and arrived at the next guesthouse where we would be staying the second night. Early in the morning, we set off again to our next school, a good hour away.

Although the roads were bumpy, at least the views were nice!

Can you guess what this is? Chocolate! This part of Haiti has chocolate trees everywhere and is known for exporting it!

It has smaller seeds inside and they lay them all out to dry in the sun.

When we arrived one girl took one look at us weird whites and couldn’t stop crying!

The orange plate is a frisbee. We left one with the kids but we most likely just donated another plate to the school!

This class absorbed the gospel tracts like a sponge!

After this school we planned on going to another one. We drove another hour to find that the road went no farther. We thought about hiking but we asked a Haitian along the road how far it was and he said, “You still have awhile!” Now, if a Haitian says that, yikes! It must be far. There was no time to make it before school ended. We decided to turn around and head to the pastor’s house where we’d be staying that night.

The pastor’s wife had food prepared for us and they gave my mom and I a room to ourselves. Unfortunately, the room had some pipes connected to the bathroom next door, so we got some interesting whiffs throughout the evening. I was glad for my cold!

Menu: rice, fish, yams and dried plantains. The area’s speciality!

Thursday morning we got up extra early because the schools were a good drive into the mountains! I’m not a morning person, so I was barely with it at 5:00 but I decided to open my Bible anyway. The verse I read was Acts 20:24. “But none of things move me, neither do I count my life dear to myself, that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” It was a great verse for the day!

Here we are at the start, all smiles…good thing we took a picture before and not after!

Not long into the drive, we realized we had no idea what we were in for. The road got so horrible that the back of the truck hit the ground many times. We were bumped up and down and side to side like hotcakes. About two hours in, we (thankfully) came to a place where the truck could not go any farther! So we parked it at a house and used our feet the rest of the way!

They make it look so easy…

These boys were so excited that they came down from the school to meet us halfway and hike back up!

Finally we arrived!

The priceless love between the young pastor and his daughter!

Marie Lucie does a great job getting the kids pumped up! Before we left, they served us yams and fish. The next school was said to be an hour down the path. A lot of the kids wanted to go with us and as we passed by their neighbors, we got surprised looks as to where we were heading. We figured we were in for a ride!

A lot of the houses were made with mud and sticks.

What they do with beans…

I overheard Charlene, the older girl next to me in the photo below, tell the other older girls: “I only went on this hike because I like to hear that girl speak Creole!” I’m not sure if that was a compliment or not, but either way, I’m glad she came along. She didn’t realize till later that I was an American, and I was glad. I told her that just like she didn’t choose where she was born, neither did I. We really are more alike than we are different!

They were sweating too, you just can’t tell as much!

About a good hour into the hike, Marie Lucie started to get a little nervous. We wanted to get back before dark and it also looked like it was going to rain. We thought about turning around, but one Haitian said, “It’s only 10-15 more minutes!” We figured if we came all this way, we might as well keep going.

We eventually reached a place where you could look down into a valley. One girl pointed to what resembled a little speck and said, “Look, there’s the school!” We reached the school 50 minutes later!

Almost there!

The girls come to this market every Monday!

It was a two hour hike from the first school to the second. When we got there, all the kids and teachers were waiting for us in the yard. We mentioned we’d like to talk to them, and they told everyone to go up to the school, toddlers and all!  We are more used to talking to teens/adults about the gospel but God provided the right words to say!

Can you imagine this as your school?

After our talk, they told us they had food for us. You guessed it – rice, fish, yams and dried plantains. Oh and hot coffee…that didn’t quite hit the spot after a hot hike, but we drank it. It’s probably all they had!

They gave us a gift of two roosters. Then they told us they had animals prepared for us to ride back on! We were excited!

We soon realized it wasn’t exactly what we imagined…

Let’s be real. Our bottoms began to hurt. We tried to look up and enjoy the views! We also tried to distract ourselves by singing!

But when we got back to the first school, Susie could take it no longer. She jumped off and started walking! I thought maybe things would get better if I had the mule to myself, so I stayed on it. And bore the consequences later!

Susie was ever so glad to walk again!

We were thankful to reach the truck, only to be bumped around all over again. But hey, at least the seats were comfortable. After two hours we stopped at a different pastor’s house who had the same menu, but thankfully, there was chicken too!

Sometime during the drive, I heard some strange noises and felt something against my foot. I had quite a scare when I realized they put the roosters under my feet! My bag had been covering them very well.

I made Marie Lucie put the roosters up front with her!

We kept going, it was dark, and we were exhausted. How much longer could it be to the guesthouse? Well, apparently we forgot how long it took us the day before… Marie Lucie said, “Oh we have another hour!” Either you laugh or you cry so we decided to laugh! We enjoyed listening to Marie Lucie and Junior sing all the way back! We think they sang every song they knew! It was 10:30 when we arrived.

We learned a new phrase that day: “Fyel pete.” It’s when your intestines are at the point of explosion. It’s more of a funny thing they say after a long, hard day. Which was right on!

They were all ears at the Salvation seminar!

On Friday, we led a seminar on salvation with the pastors and teachers we visited that week. They came from all over, including the ones from the long hike. One of the teachers who helped with the mules said that not long after we got in the truck, it started pouring rain. They had a dangerous time walking back to their houses with the mules! Looking back, it truly was amazing that during the hours we were walking, it never rained once. You see? God provides!

The two balls hanging were made with plastic cups attached together! How creative and resourceful.

We headed back with full hearts. On our trip back our left mirror broke and there were some interesting sounds from the truck, but we were surprised nothing worse happened with everything it went through!

Thanks to all who prayed! The way the Lord provided through giving us a place to stay, opening doors for us to share the gospel, to stopping the rain is something we won’t soon forget. Sometimes I read through the Bible and don’t understand why I don’t see God at work like that today. I’ve concluded that the fault is not with God but with us. As long as we are “in the boat,” we won’t see much happen. It’s not until we take a step out of the boat – out of our comfort zone, relying totally on Him – that we’ll see His power displayed in amazing ways.

“Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” Ephesians 3:20-21