His Heart for Haiti

Giving Hope Through Child Sponsorship


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The Work Begins!

The staff of the MEBSH Child Care department in Haiti. We have found them to be such lovely people!

The staff of the MEBSH Child Care department in Haiti. They have quickly become family!

Susie and I have had the pleasure of beginning our official child sponsorship work here in Haiti this month! It has been neat to see how God places us where we belong and continues to provide. We are hoping to add value where we can after we get better acquainted with the scope of our work and our schedules. In many ways Haiti reminds me of the 1950’s or 60’s in the U.S. and especially in the offices here. The desks, chairs, filing cabinets, dusty stacks of folders, cotton mops and vanilla envelopes all feel original to that era. The only thing we don’t hear is a typewriter (that I’ve noticed) because there are a few computers.

Marie Lucie is pictured above in the middle of the group. She is the heart and soul of child sponsorship in Haiti and we feel privileged to work with her. A few months ago we were meeting with Marie Lucie and I asked where our desks could be located, and she said, “Follow me.” She took us to the door of a room in the entrance hall and opened it with a key. “Here you are!”  We had been in and out of the office several times and we had no idea there was even a room there! The whole situation made me think of the parallel of God someday welcoming us into our eternal home…it is ready and waiting for our arrival!

When we follow Jesus we must leave everything behind, not knowing what is ahead. God already knows, so we simple follow, believe…and then see!  “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

One of our favorite “new things” is the morning devotions. For a half hour or more we share a song, read part of a chapter and discuss it, and then close in prayer (praying for three sponsored children and their sponsors each day)…of course, all in Creole language. Some days we understand more of what is being said than others! One special time I will always treasure was the morning we read in Romans 11 about the wild olive branches being grafted into the olive tree. By the time we arrived at verse 25 they became very animated and were making loud exclamations! (Because of Israel’s unbelief we as Gentiles are able to be grafted in and have the opportunity to inherit the promises by faith.) I’m not sure if this was something they had never read before or what, but to sense the joy a group of Haitian Gentile believers experienced over the goodness and favor of God was pretty cool. It made me think of all the tribes and nations that will be praising God around His throne someday!

We have opportunities to use our Creole when the kids come to get their Sponsorship money. We try to talk to them and ask questions. We ask what their names are, where they go to school, if they like school and their favorite subject, how many brothers and sisters they have, where they go to church, what their sponsor’s name is, etc. We also ask them if they would like a Pastor (several work at the office) to pray for the needs they have. We are looking for opportunities to share the gospel. We are stretched out of our comfort zone to visit with them in their language, but it is a good for us.

Evan is here and we celebrated with a day at the beach!

Evan is here and we celebrated with a day at the beach!

UPDATE: School has been out since the first week of May and Grace is missing it already! She did well jumping up to 2nd grade. The only bad thing about that is that our baby is a third grader already!

Evan is here for a month before we all return the end of May! We are enjoying every moment we have together. He has been studying and picking up Creole at a good rate already.

Thanks for your prayers and support and we are looking forward to two months in Ohio. Grant will be graduating with his class in Smithville and we look forward to camping the whole time and spending quality time with family and friends!

Grace has finished second grade! She is showing us her decorated shield of faith.

Grace has finished second grade! She is showing us her personalized “shield of faith.”

The class held a program for the parents. Where else can you go barefoot to school?

Grace’s class held a program for the parents. Where else can you go barefoot to school?

Evan found a mission in no time...he is taking this deaf man to the clinic all week for help with his leg injury. This bandage is really standing out for some reason!

Evan found a mission in no time…he has been taking this deaf man to the MEBSH clinic all week for help with his leg injury. That bandage is really standing out for some reason?

Here we are (once again) at the only place we eat out, The Hot Spot! They serve pizza and hamburgers as well as many other good things at good prices!

Here we are (once again) at the only place we eat out, The Hot Spot! They serve pizza and hamburgers as well as many other good things at good prices!

Thanks for your love, prayers and support!

Thanks for your continued love, prayers and support!

 

 

 

 

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Total Immersion –– Day 7

Our last full day in Maniche. A Monday full of people and activity. Laundry! Canning! Real Haitian life!

What gets wet has to dry. There are no electric dryers in Haiti! Wash gets started early so it has a chance to dry by evening!

What gets wet has to dry. There are no electric dryers in Haiti! Wash gets started early so it has a chance to dry by evening!

Right after breakfast, laundry started in full swing!

The work was hard, but they dug right in. They kept asking for more of our stuff to wash!

After breakfast, Trinity and I got to wash our own clothes with two Haitian ladies on the porch, luckily not in the river like most Haitians have to. Three large tubs were lined up; one for soapy water, one for rinsing, and the other one for wrung out clothes ready to go on the line. That was an experience! One Haitian lady gave me the job of rinsing the clothes and I rinsed for about an hour or more. We were amazed how hard they scrubbed the clothes and what work it was! Later we took the wrung out clothes to hang them to dry in the sunshine.

This was yet another opportunity to interact and make conversation and use our language skills. Another lady told me she has two daughters, actually had three but one got sick and died at 1-1/2 yrs. of age. She also told me she currently had a very bad toothache and that she was in pain. I told her to go see a dentist and she responded, “Pa lajan.” (No money) My heart sank. The lady had only a few teeth left in her mouth that I could see. She was headed to having no teeth left like the other lady that I was washing clothes with. She told me they were pulled out by a doctor. I was saddened and bothered. So many are so poor and there is not enough money to get cleanings or have cavities fixed.

Next up was canning jelly! They are using cherries, Haitian apples and another fruit here.

Next up was canning jelly! They are using cherries, Haitian apples and another fruit here.

They have obviously done this before!

They have obviously done this before!

They gave all the jars to us!

They gave all the finished product as a gift to us!

After the afternoon of canning a Haitian-style jelly (half sugar!), the neighbors and church folks started coming by to say good-bye since they knew we would be leaving after breakfast the next morning. We took group photos in the church in the evening and also enjoyed some time together.

The Pastor and some of his extended family. We never could figure out who everyone was exactly!

The Pastor and some of his extended family. We never did figure out who was who. Their one son is on the left.

Grant made some great friends (this man and his wife have already visited us!)

Grant made some great friends (this man and his wife have already visited us!)

A few favorite photos will finish this post!

A few favorite photos will finish this post!

No surprise, in the morning several came after breakfast to say goodbye again. The house started to fill up. Suddenly Brent and Sean also appeared to take us back home and we found ourselves standing in a circle holding hands in prayer. Then they really prayed and worshipped as we sang a farewell hymn! Many hugs followed as we packed the Toyota and then piled in with all our stuff. It was a blessing to realize we had arrived as total strangers and now were leaving with many new friends. There were so many stories and memories to recount on the way home!

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Total Immersion — Day 6

This was the Lord’s Day! It was an amazing day as we attended Sunday School, morning and evening services worshipping with the Haitians in Maniche.

As visitors we were ushered to the second row.

As visitors we found ourselves ushered up to the second row.

Sunday School – started at 8 a.m. We met in the church first and then the classes split up. We didn’t know where to go but were ushered by our Haitian friends. Mike went with the older men. Grant went with another Haitian friend. Madam Pasté told me to go with her. Trinity and Grace did not want to be separated from me so we stayed together. We listened and tried to catch what the lady spoke, but it was a long hour. Afterwards we found out why we were in such demand. They are very competitive with their stats, how many in each class, how many visitors, how many brought their Bibles!

The Pastor had no microphone so were glad to be near the front!

The Pastor didn’t have a microphone so were glad to be near the front!

Singing practice after church. Every MEBSH church has the same tin roof and the same benches!

Singing practice after church. Every MEBSH church has the same tin roof and the same benches!

Church service – I wasn’t sure if we would be asked to speak that day, but I thought to myself what could I say if the opportunity was given. Just in case, I tried to be prepared in Creole in what came to my mind. Sure enough the Pastor asked all of us to stand and speak a little Creole to the church. This was the first time for all of us and we were out of our comfort zone.

The singing was wonderful. Alive! It was so touching to sing with these people that we got to know this week. We loved it!

Here, as everywhere in Haiti, they wore their very best to church.

Here, as everywhere in Haiti, they wore their very best to church.

Afterwards we went for a walk to the river. This time we had a few Haitians that went with us. It was very hot. We finally got to the river and it was very low. It is the rainy season and it is not raining much. They say this is the second year in a row this has been the case.

On the way home, Grant’s Haitian friend wanted us to stop and visit his Aunt briefly so we followed him. When we found her in the back yard with a small circle of friends, I leaned against a tree and a lady sitting there told me “Don’t touch!” (in Creole) I was surprised! They were making some kind of drink or liquid for something in a large basin which a man was pouring over the Aunt’s foot. It was green and it had an unusual smell. I didn’t feel comfortable. Mike heard the explanation, “Exorcist.” He told me quietly that it was probably a witch doctor so we said, “Ale!” (Let’s go!) and headed out of there really quickly!

We enjoyed a walk through town and to the river.

We enjoyed a walk Sunday through town and to the river.

A view of the new levee walls they are building to prevent the town from flooding. These were a incredible, at least a mile long!

A view of the new levee walls they are stacking to prevent the town from flooding. These were incredible, at least a mile long!

A very tall mapu tree. Haitians relate these to evil spirits and so they do not cut them down!

A very tall mapu tree. Haitians involved in voodoo activity associate these with evil spirits and so they do not cut them down!

Evening song and prayer service – We sang and then everyone prayed out loud. A special Haitian friend invited our family to sing a special song to the ones there. We stood in front and sang, “The Solid Rock” in English (3 verses we could remember!) They loved it! They said, “Amen!” afterwards. Then they were so excited that they wanted to also sing it in Creole! Pastor Enock preached to all of us from Luke 12:32–35. He talked on trusting and staying fixed on Jesus. It is dangerous to put your trust in anything else, like money, a house, things, etc. It was a good sermon from what we could get out of it!


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Total Immersion — Day 5

Saturday is always a market day in Haiti. So before we got up there were the typical noises of a market day in progress! We had to go see for ourselves, of course!

It seems like everyone is selling about the same thing. The smells are very interesting!

It seems like everyone is selling about the same thing. The smells are very interesting!

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The meat market where you can get about anything!

The meat market where you can get about anything!

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We even started recognizing some of the locals by this time!

By this time we even started recognizing some of the locals!

Work on the church addition was going strong again. It was so interesting to watch how they build the rock foundations. It was basically a lot of cement mixing, rock carrying and skillful rock stacking! Grant decided to get into the action today.

The entire foundation for the church addition was completed by the time we left.

The entire foundation for the church addition was completed by the time we left!

Chiseling and piling rocks all day in the hot sun to create the foundation walls!

Chiseling and piling rocks all day in the hot sun to create the foundation walls!

Experienced enough at roof construction, Grant tries his hand at foundation work.

Experienced enough at roof construction, Grant tries his hand at foundation work.

We had been given a nice size stack of pillowcase dresses to give away, and we had also shipped down buckets of bagged rice pilaf from Ohio…so we brought one of those. Madam Pasté knew who needed these things so we saw some smiles as they were distributed through the week.

This was the sweetest girl, and we have special thoughts and prayers for her.

This was the sweetest girl, and we have special thoughts of her and prayers for her in her need.

A smile is worth a million words! Thank you for sharing!

A picture is worth a thousands words! Thank you for sharing your talents to clothe a child!

There was even a small pillowcase dress for the little girl they all called "Baby!"

There was even a small pillowcase dress for the little girl they all called “Baby!”

These bags of rice pilaf serve  ten people! Thanks for sharing your time and talents to prepare this gift for a needy family!

These bags of rice pilaf serve ten people! Thanks to so many of you for sharing your time and talents to prepare these gifts for a needy family!

Thank you for showing the love of Jesus Christ in word and in deed!

Thank you for sharing the love of Jesus Christ in word and in deed!


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Total Immersion — Days 3 & 4

We found out quickly what Haitians love to eat for breakfast...soup!

Good morning! We found out quickly what Haitians love to eat for breakfast…pumpkin soup!

After breakfast we took a walk through the town and out to the river. It was hot, but better wherever we found shady spots to stop. It was nice to just get away and be together as a family!

We finally found the Cavillon River.

We are suckers for palm trees. They are so large in the tropics!

We finally found the Cavillon River. It seemed very pure compared to most rivers we have viewed here already!

We finally found the Cavillon River. It seemed very pure compared to most rivers we have viewed here already!

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A great shot of how close some people live to the rivers. The river is very low right now. This might be a picture of poverty, but the yard is swept spotless!

A great shot of how close people live to the rivers. The river is very low right now. This might be a picture of poverty, but notice how the yard is swept absolutely spotless!

When we returned, we sat on the front porch, studying, working on the computer, etc. Soon, no matter what we started to do, the Haitians were right there at our elbows. If you tried to study the Bible, you would turn your head and one would show up next to you. They were very interested in what we were doing and especially interested in wanting to learn English. We had English/Creole studies more than a couple of times. We enjoyed teaching each other! We loved interacting and developing relationships with all ages. God created language!

Here's a good chance to make friends and try to communicate...

Finding a good chance to make friends and try to communicate…

This is what we started seeing every afternoon as Grant conducted impromptu English classes!

This is what we started seeing every afternoon as Grant conducted impromptu English classes!

There was always somebody asking questions about English or Creole!

There was always somebody asking questions about English or Creole! Notice an ENGLISH sign in this photo!

After lunch, we sat on the porch with the Haitians. We got the game “Zingo” out for the kids to play. It is a Bingo type game that uses pictures. The kids loved it! Trinity was playing the game with them but they were wild. It was hard for them to sit and play a game. We worked with Haitians on English again all through the afternoon.

After school the games started up again!

After school the kids flooded in again! It was impossible to get them to understand they could sit down to play a game!

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We ended up showing half of the “Jesus” film one night and half the following night. Several of us had to go into town and “talk it up” as we invited people to come! We love to see and hear the people’s reactions as they follow the life of Christ through his early ministry to his death and resurrection. It touched people every time! We hope we can plant seeds for eternity as we share the life and word of Jesus together.

Here is a sign posted near the side door of the church. We are still wondering what went wrong in translation?!

Here is a sign posted near the side door of the church. We are still wondering what went wrong in translation?! Seems like we can help each other out this week!

 


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Total Immersion — Day 2

On the second day, breakfast was very filling with fried eggs, white bread, cassava bread (flat bread), yams, large apricots, mangos, and very sweet coffee. After breakfast I went to help wash dishes. They washed mounds of dishes outside all day long on a long table. Haitians enjoy being hosts so I found I really had to assert myself to help.

I was walking up a hill of dirt to get across the construction area and I totally wiped out! This ended up being the perfect thing to happen…it broke the ice with one lady! She said to me later, “Ou tonbe!” (You fell!) I started to laugh and then she started rolling with laughter. We connected! This was the beginning of our friendship and it provided an entrance into the workers club!

There are no automatic dishwashers in Haiti. This is something we are still getting used to!

There are no automatic dishwashers in Haiti. This is something we are still getting used to!

The dishes are never done!

The dishes are never done!

Shelling beans in the shade was such fun! You can see the outside showers and outhouses behind us.

Shelling beans in the shade was such fun! You can see the outside showers behind us.

Another time I was able to help shell beans with them. I sat down next to the ladies and shelled and enjoyed listening to them speak back and forth with each other. Soon one started singing then they all jumped in and started singing. It was very enjoyable to just listen and watch. Even though they like to host they did seem to appreciate me making the effort to help and also understand their culture. They would always say to each other in Creole, “L’ap travay!” (She is working!)

How do they prepare food?

I really enjoyed watching the food being prepared. One “kitchen” was inside and one was outside, but there was so much to prepare they also cooked in several outside areas. Usually, they had other pots cooking over charcoal in the inside kitchen along with the outside pots over fires. Haitians work so hard. My eyes were opened to how long it takes to cook anything. And they stick together…they are like one big family working together. First they have to get the wood and get that fire going. Many of the young teenagers or young adults were either peeling fruit or vegetables or carrying the water.

Haitians do a lot of food preparation by squatting. We like our countertops!

Haitians do a lot of food preparation by squatting. We like our countertops! Here they are making black bean sauce.

Cleaning the rice was a process that we don't even think about having to do!

Placing the rice onto the woven baskets for sifting out dirt!

The food was served hot for lunch and then reserved cold for supper.

Rice and beans were served hot for lunch and then reserved cold for supper nearly every day.

The lunch that day was very good with rice with beans, millet, fried plantains and okra, mangos, abriko, and 7Up. After lunch I tried to help with dishes, but it didn’t happen so I went and watched the ladies cutting up goat meat and chopping spices for supper! Womens work is never done! Supper was delicious with rice and beans, goat, papaya, mango, and grapefruit juice.

What was it like hearing the Haitian language at full capacity?

It was a good challenge! We tried our best to listen and understand, but it was difficult unless they slowed down. They speak fast like we do and it is hard to catch the whole thing. Yes, many times we said in Creole, “Slow down.” Having an entirely Creole immersion gave us a better grasp of the everyday language and common expressions they use. The repetition was good for us. Many times they would stop talking and ask, “Konprann?” (Understand?) That was always a very difficult question for us to answer!  They really wanted you so much to understand everything they were saying.

The area kids started dropping by after school. We played all sorts of games with them…just hanging out with the Haitian kids was very enjoyable. Then Madam Pasté took us for a walk across the road to see a few houses and introduce us to her neighbors. The kids followed along as we held their hands. It is always interesting to see how the Haitians live.

Balloons were always a favorite way to interact with the kids.

Balloons were always a favorite way to interact with the kids.

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This was a spontaneous group that showed up every afternoon!

This was a spontaneous group that showed up every afternoon!

This is our favorite photo! Grant got to teach so many boys a few sports moves.

This is one of our favorite photos! Grant got to teach these boys a few sports moves and they often came looking for him.


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Total Immersion — Day 1

View of downtown Maniche, where we visited the market and took a few walks.

View of downtown Maniche, where we visited the Tuesday and Saturday markets and took a few walks.

Some missionaries here made the suggestion that we should try a one-week “total immersion experience” into the Haitian culture and language. So last week that was what we did! We were blessed as a family to visit the village of Maniche, about 40 minutes north of Les Cayes, where a MEBSH pastor, Enock Jean, and his wife, Francine, hosted us gladly for an entire non-English week! It was long and hot at times, but at other times things just happened that were unexpected, amazing, and totally inspiring! We all agreed that overall it was a great experience.

The front gate to the street -- a very busy area at times!

The front gate to the street — a very busy area at times! The parsonage is at left and the church visible at right.

This was a large "shot-gun" style house where all the rooms line up and you walk through one to get to another. It had four bedrooms!

The parsonage was a large 4-bedroom house. All the rooms lined up and you had to walk through one to get to another.

The friendly Maniche MEBSH church where the men and women still sat separately!

The friendly Maniche MEBSH church where the men and women still sit separately for services!

Pastor and his wife (Madam Pasté) said we became part of their family. They made us feel so welcome from the start. Every day they had much activity and people coming and going as they worked on a large addition to the back of the church. Lots of volunteers were there to help with construction; ladies made food, washed dishes, did laundry, etc.; kids helped out wherever there was something to do, from peeling fruit or vegetables to carrying buckets of water where needed. Madam Pasté was a very good manager, directing all the activity of making food to cleaning.

What was it like our first day in the Haitian culture?

We arrived in the afternoon from the bumpy ride up a mountain, then down into a river valley where the village of Maniche sits. It was obvious we arrived earlier then they expected. Some of the ladies were ironing sheets to make our beds. Other ladies were busy with making food in a separate area from the house. It turned out the Pastor and his wife actually emptied out their entire house, made up beds and put fresh linens and little decorations on top of tables in every room…and then slept in the room we didn’t take! As were checking out the rooms, we saw a large cockroach crawl under a bed. We were all thinking the same thing…we didn’t want those things crawling over us at night. Yikes! This is going to be an experience we will not forget, just with the bugs alone! (It ended up we didn’t see that many, they must have just disturbed a few as they cleaned and swept every corner. And there was a can of roach spray there too so we were all set!)

The doors and windows were shutter-style and had large hooks to secure them shut!

The doors and windows were shutter-style and had large hooks to secure them shut! See that clock? On Sunday morning it got moved into the church so the preacher wouldn’t go overtime!

The center room which served as dining and living room. You can see how they keep the food covered on the table at all times.

The center room which served as dining and living room. You can see how they keep the food covered on the table at all times.

One of the bedrooms where the kids slept. The windows were kept closed all the time and it was usually dark and hot!

One of the bedrooms where the kids slept. The windows were kept closed all the time and it was usually dark and hot!

We decided to take a walk out to the market. We were surely noticed as we walked the streets! We were definitely stared out, “white fish out of the water!” We tried to be friendly as possible, saying “Bonswa!” (Good afternoon!) The majority of them were very friendly and receptive. Others we weren’t sure. We really felt uncomfortable taking pictures and some said “no.” We kept walking the streets of this town and Grant started talking to some Haitian boys about his age. Many were standing around. Soon there was a crowd of people surrounding us. We made conversation as best as we could. They seemed to enjoy our conversations, and then gave a friendly goodbye when we felt we needed to move along. We were stared at again all the way back to the Pastor’s house.

After a supper of fried chicken, rice with beans and mangos, we went to their church to observe a prayer meeting. We sang a few songs with them and introduced ourselves. After the singing, we were directed to pray. This was when we had our first experience in Haiti where everyone got on their knees and prayed together at the same time…out loud! It was very interesting as we heard the sound of many voices going up and down, up and down in prayer. This wouldn’t be the only time we would experience it that week! They seem to be quite fond of doing it that way.

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What was a Haitian house like?

In a Haitian house, there are usually no screens so you have to get used to all kinds of bugs that will enter. Our first night was surprising so we knew what to expect (dread) the other nights. It was especially difficult with the mosquitos or other tiny little bugs. We sure did itch and itch, to say the least. At night I would write on my journal before bed. If a light was left on, you had beetles flying around, bugs nipping at your legs, and those irritating mosquitos. We crawled under our sheets and covered up well so we would less interaction with any bugs. The last night, I finally wore socks to bed to keep those critters off my feet.

The doors and windows are shut at night and most of the day. Not only to keep out intruders and bugs, but we found out the cultural mindset is to close everything up to keep out evil spirits! So, needless to say we had some long, hot nights trying to stay covered up! We did have a fan in every room which was wonderful…until the electricity went out.

We had to adjust to only having electricity at night, not during the day. We charged all our phones, cameras, and laptop at night, ready for the next day. We also had to adjust to using the outhouses and no sink. There was three outhouses next to each other out back and it was always a struggle to use them. You tried not to breathe too deeply or you might pass out. One thing we remembered quickly: don’t forget your own toilet paper! It was hard to get used to not having a sink either, which made it more difficult to brush your teeth at night. We adjusted to using the outside faucet by the house to wash our hands and brush our teeth. There were outside showers that we could use. They had some privacy with a wrap-around wall. But luxury of luxuries…one inside shower! When you are hot and sweaty, even a cold shower isn’t too bad. You just get used to taking fewer and quicker showers!

We could never find a trash can in any of the rooms. We found out quickly all trash goes outside! You see litter everywhere. But here they had a large barrel close to the dish washing table. Once that gets full they burn it back behind the house. We got used to collecting our trash in a corner inside the house and then taking it outside. We don’t realize how accustomed we become to having a trash can in every room in our home in America.

This little kitty was the perfect companion for Grace when she needed something to escape to. Madam Pasté is here with her.

This little kitty was the perfect companion for Grace when she needed something to escape to. Madam Pasté is here with her.

Here is the pastor, in charge of an entire district of MEBSH churches and schools.

Here is the pastor, in charge of an entire district of MEBSH churches and schools. He was a very warm, kind man.