Sunday, March 1, 2015

Highlights & Poignant moments from my week in Haiti - Jim Kreher …

The two-foot-high mango trees we planted last year are now six-feet tall.  Six more years until they bear fruit...

On Saturday mornings in Minoterie, Berdy and his friends shine the shoes, any shoes, of any and all villagers at their church at no cost to the villagers.  We witnessed and took part in applying black shoe polish and subsequently shining black shoes, brown shoes and even blue swede sneakers.

A teary-eyed, shotgun-toting security guard approached me Friday night on the MOH campus seeking prayers for his wife who was in the hospital with his newborn son.  Dick & I prayed with him.

We met with and prayed with a young deaf woman.  The earthquake took her ability to walk and her three-month-old son and only child.  She says there is nothing that gives her joy.  I pray that God provides her a source of joy.

An older woman gave Darlene and me hugs of gratefulness while we sat at the pavilion waiting for our fellow team members to return from the Church of Hope in Leveque.  With no translator present, we had no idea why.  When a translator arrived, we discovered she remembered us as the team that prayed with her last year.  At the time, both she and one of her sons were ill.  Both are well now.

For the deaf community in Leveque, the darkness of night is terrifying.  They cannot hear and cannot see to sign.  I now understand the need for lighting in this village.

I had the pleasure of assisting a young father of four, Titus Jimmy, craft new galvanized-steel roofs on four homes.  His work is precarious – sheets of metal are laid over and fastened to 1x4 boards spaced 36 inches apart.    He worked with this razor-sharp metal without gloves (until I gave him mine).  He worked without a break and without power tools on the hot metal roof in the 90° temperature from the time we arrived until after the time we departed the work site each day.

Friday afternoon, at the conclusion of a team worship & communion service our Haitian friends asked that each of the 19 members of our team stand together forming a tight human circle.  Our Haitian friends then encircled us, hand-to-hand, and prayed for us.  Each Haitian prayed aloud but independently in Creole in a display that lasted for several minutes.  This was the most powerful prayer event I have ever experienced and was one of several opportunities we had to experience the joy with which the Haitians worship.

The village of Minoterie once had electricity and running water 24/7.  It has paved streets with curbs, the only paved streets I have seen north of Port au Prince with the exception of Nationale Route #1.  Due to Haitian political strife, the sole source of the village’s prosperity, a flour mill, was idled for a period of ten years.  Today the idled mill is once again operational but employs few Minoterie villagers in low-paying jobs.  The village water system is in a state of disrepair.  Buckets have replaced faucets.  Electricity is available to the village for 12 hours each day.  Still the “big city” section of this village is still significantly more prosperous then that of the Blue-to-Block section of Leveque.

I’m blessed to be a member of a church whose congregation is committed to serve beyond our walls and I am inspired by the servanthood displayed by our Haitian brothers and sister.
Now six feet tall, this mango tree stood two-feet tall when we planted it last year.  Six more years until it bears fruit.

Titus Jimmy uses a machete to notch a wood beam that provide structural support for a galvanized-steel roof in the original section of Leveque.

Worship/Communion at Wahoo Bay

The "big city" area of the village of Minoterie

The Blue-to-Block area of the village of Leveque

Hopewell's Haitian Brothers and Sister (from left to right: Yves, Rosemond, Thimonge, Ulysson, Joseph, Josue, Berthide, Roudson and Berdy (in front))

Signs placed at the entrance of our church to welcome Hopewell's returning Team Haiti.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Jen Lisowski-- Bonswa from Haiti. It is a beautiful evening at the Mission of Hope site and we are all reflecting on our week and preparing for our departure tomorrow. Jan Smith and I had a different experience from the rest of the team as we worked with the mobile medical clinic all week. There is a full clinic on the Mission of Hope campus staffed by Haitian doctors and nurses so volunteers are used to run clinics in rural villages away from any formal medical center. On Monday and Tuesday, we set up in a church in the village of Williamson and Wednesday and Thursday took us to Messaye  The church in Messaye was a new church and they are hoping to have money for a permanent building. Right now their house of worship is made of tin.
Our mornings began by piling into the open air truck and loading it with all our supplies for triage, wound care, and pharmacy. Before pulling away, our ‘medical pastor’ would share an encouraging message with us. Thursday’s message was “stay at the feet of Jesus”, a reference to the story of Mary and Martha.
Once at the church, we set up tables and chairs and quickly began to see patients. Our Haitian doctor could see 60-70 patients per day so we worked hard! After checking in and getting height and weight, the patients would come to one of four nursing stations. Each of us had our own translator and we took vital signs and listened to the patients’ stories. We heard of diseases that had been untreated for weeks or months, and those who have suffered from injuries without relief for years. There were children struggling with the normal cold and flu symptoms and then those more specific to Haiti – worms, typhoid, and malnutrition. On Wednesday I administered Tylenol to a baby while her mother held her as they waited for the doctor. The baby had a fever of 104 and we wanted to treat her as soon as possible. On Thursday, I worked with a young mother and her baby. The mother was 88lbs and unable to breastfeed because of malnutrition. Her three month old girl was only 10lbs. They were sent home with the medications they needed and the promise of formula the next day (we had run out by the time she saw the doctor). Jan worked so hard in the pharmacy dispensing much needed medication to the beautiful people who came to the clinic. We both witnessed how great the need is for basic medications – many of which were generously provided by Hopewell donors for us to bring on our trip. Thank you!! They make mobile clinics possible. Once the nurses had seen all the patients, we’d either help in the pharmacy, share conversation with our Haitian translators, or play with the kids hanging around outside (see picture from yesterday’s post J).
Thank you for your prayers and encouragement of this team. It has been a week full of meaningful moments and we have seen God at work in Haiti. We have learned so much from the faith and perseverance of the Haitian people and are looking forward to sharing that with you when we return.
Jen Lisowski

Alo or hello in Creole from Steve Harvey!  It has been a beautiful day similar to the beauty of the Haitian peoples’ smiles. It shouldn’t be any surprise about the Haitian spirit since I experienced their beautiful smiles and spirit a year ago.
I wanted to tell you about worship on Tuesday night when the pastor suggested we find someone and pray for them. Next to me was a very nice Haitian lady that grabbed my hands and started praying for me. I couldn’t hear her very well and even if I did I couldn’t understand what she said. But it was a very spiritual moment because I could feel her passion flowing over for Jesus and directed toward me. This was just one of many God moments I experienced.

Today we went to the beach for our last day and had a great time. Haiti really is a gorgeous country and we all enjoyed the water and beach. Later in the day we had communion with our group and the translators and village champions from Mission of Hope. The sun was shining, the water was sparkling and the palm trees gently waved in the breeze. Communion was held with each of our pastors, Dan, John and Vicki delivering some well thought out words and then the sacraments were served. Our Haitian friends wanted to pray for us together and circled around us with joined hands. They prayed out loud and the Holy Spirit was so strong that I couldn’t speak about it until writing in this blog.  Blessings from Haiti!

Jan Smith hard at work filling prescriptions at the mobile clinic at Williamson.

Jen Lisowski with one of her favorite patients.
Oh no, someone is missing their stethoscope.  This might be a future Haitian nurse!
Our group of Hopewell and Haitian folks ready for communion.

Pastor Dan is blessing the elements.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Last Work Day in Haiti - Thursday Night Blog

--Dick Pry
Hello from Haiti. We finished up our work today and are pretty tired. I have slept well here but I can feel the fatigue creeping in. Our final task this morning was to “paint the latrine” that we helped build. We were told we were going to dig the latrine but luckily saw that the Haitian workers had already dug the hole when we showed up on Monday. We helped the skilled laborers to haul block,mix cement and sifted limestone to make the cement- - but no digging by we Americans required!!!
We arrived this morning to see all of the block walls up and the latrine just about done. The only task left was to apply the Caribbean Green color to the walls. We put almost as much paint on ourselves as we did the latrine but by lunchtime the masterpiece was done. Both Dan and I turned around and encountered our little helper Jackson’s head with our rollers. He had two nice streaks down his head!!! The corrugated steel door was put on and it was ready for use. No idea who used it first but I am sure it was greatly appreciated.
As with every mission trip, the real joy is seeing the appreciation in the faces of the ones you visit. From the children who come up and sit on your lap to the aged elderly gentlemen who was hauling cement- - - they all smile and express their gratitude.
I choose to totally disconnect from the typical American life during these trips- - - and that is what I do. I don’t think about work, I don’t care about the news-I don’t text or even think about e mail. I just do what God has called us to do- - - to help those less fortunate.
I led the devotion last night and it was about shedding your baggage- - - to see what really is important in the big picture. Once you come on one of our amazing Beyond the Walls trips- - - you will grasp the phenomenal work that our campaign does to help the less fortunate- - - - - from Coatesville to Philadelphia to Haiti to South Africa.
Thank you Steve Morton for your vision for this wonderful mission of HUMC that we call “Beyond the Walls!  What a blessing!!!!!!!—

Here you see the blue Samaritan Purse temporary emergency structures that were built in 2010.  Families have been living in these tents for more than five years.  Right next door you see the new construction of a cinder-block home to replace the tents.  Hopewell has funded one of the cinder-block homes that is under construction.

Carey is a small-child magnet.  Here is one of many children that found her way onto Carey's lap this week. 

Our work and our week could not be accomplished without the assistance of Village Champions, who advocate and set priorities for the people of their village and translators whose Creole-to-English skills enable us to Communicate with villagers.  The two translators in the back row on the right are deaf and serve as Village Champions for the deaf community that live in the village of Leveque.

Impromptu worship in the small church adjacent to one of our roof-repair work sites.  Haitian prayer is always preceded by one or two songs to set the mood.  Our Village Champions initiated this celebration and villagers joined us.

Hopewell's Latrine Team.  If you need a latrine built we now possess expertise within our own congregation.

Prayer with a Leveque home owner.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday Night in Haiti - Passing it On

Passing it On
One of the highlights of this week has been sharing our love of Haiti and the Haitian people with new friends, from Hopewell and beyond.  Several months ago, Cammy and Cheri asked me to have lunch with them to chat a bit more about Haiti and why/if they should come along with us in 2015.  In doing so, I realized that it was so hard to adequately capture all that has been in my heart since I came last year – words and pictures just do not do it justice.  When Cammy and Cheri made the decision to come, I was overjoyed!!
Alongside Cammy and Cheri, we have new Haiti team, Hopewell members: Becky Bennington, Dan Hepner, Ray Koplinka, Darlene Alleger, Jen Lisowski and her uncle, Bob Teter and Bryan Page, Stan Johnson, friends of Dick Pry.  It was been an absolute privilege and joy to watch them all experience Haiti for the first time.  It is no secret that the highlight of my experience last year was being inundated by the timoon! (Creole word for children).  So far this week, most of our “newbies” have had the opportunity to be surrounded by numerous children as I was last year, and thankfully again this week.  Even as the children were clamoring to hold their hands, be picked up, wait for a turn in the jump rope line, or just get a quick hug, I could so readily see the light of Jesus in their eyes – the eyes of my team members and the eyes of the children.  Even our strong, work-minded men were instantly melting as children approached them with outstretched arms, aching for attention, fun and love.  Seeing all of our new team members be so smitten has been incredibly moving.  So, the positive energy continues to flow and it will be a true blessing to share our 2015 Haiti experience with all of our friends and family.  .
Your Hopewell Team Haiti is doing beautiful things – they are a true model of Christ’s love for others.  “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should also wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you”  John 13:14

--Carey Burke

This  morning Jan Smith and Jen Lisowski left for their mobile medical clinic to the town of Messaye.  Below are a few pictures of the vehicle they travel in and then a picture of Jen with her patients.

See below for pictures from our work today and also building relationships in Leveque.

Pre and Post Painting at Michel's home.

This latrine is almost done and Hopewell will be painting it Thursday morning.  

A new finished tin roof.
And now our night ends with a devotional led by Dick Pry on baggage however, first the Men (minus John) had to wash dishes for over 120+ diners. See them in action below. :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday Night in Haiti 2-24-2015

It is Tuesday night and we have had a full day. .  more roofing, more latrine building, village time with the kids in Leveque. Others in our party, Bob Teter and Jen Lisowski, traveled to the mountain town of Turpin to visit a child that Bob has been sponsoring but returned for the afternoon village time. Jan Smith spent the day with the medical team in Williamston and we will hear more about that later.  After supper, we attended Tuesday evening worship at the Church of Hope down the hill from our quarters.  We are weary, but content…   

Each night we gather for a devotional.  We began on Saturday night focused "Following" and then "Compassion".  During our devotional time this evening, our discussion and focus was ‘Service’ with the key scripture passage being John 13:14 and 15~ “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”, We talked about service and what it means to submit to whatever it might be that God has in mind for us at any given moment in time.  Though there was no literal foot-washing today, each one of these humble servants of our team willingly submitted to the call of Christ to “do as He has done for us”. And each one of us was deeply moved as we allowed God to do His will.  When you look at these pictures, we pray you can see the joy we experienced as we served, in Jesus’ name. – Pastor Vicki

Below are pictures of some our team at Leveque school. What a joy!
Bob Teter

Cammy Brantzeg leading jumping rope.

Carey Burke

Pastor Dan

Jim Kreher

Kids and more kids

Ray Koplinka

Stan Johnson

Pastor Vicki

Monday, February 23, 2015

Well, it is Monday and it is our first official work day. Painting,


and digging a latrine, carrying cinder block

and by the end of the day, the latrine had 5 courses of block, one roof was almost completed and a pastor's house was painted inside and out. es, it was hot today (sorry friends) with temps in the high 80's to low 90's with accompanying humidity. So much to see and experience today in this very poor country with so many bright and faithful people. Our three groups worked hard today with only one mishap. We spilled white paint on the floor in the back of the bus that caused a bit of consternation

 but...we got through it with our Haitian friends really taking it all in stride. What is also so inspiring is seeing so many young people here from around the United States doing exactly what we are doing. These young people are deeply devoted to Christ and to serve in so many meaningful ways. I for one am taking all this in since this is my first international mission trip and I can tell you that this has been a remarkable journey thus far. We are all looking forward to our return on Saturday to Downingtown and to all of you, and the sharing of this incredible experience. We closed the night with a devotional on compassion led by Pastor Vicki and we shared God sightings from today. What a moving experience this continues to be for both first timers and veterans.  Continue to pray for us as we pursue the will of serve Him!  Pastor Dan