Co-workers

Cesnel's Big Adventure

We all recognized that during the move from the old house to the new home, Cesnel worked.  He worked hard.  He worked like a man.  And we wanted to honor that.  So we asked him to go with us to Doko to work on the latrine project.

Of course, none of us could have anticipated the events that would transpire on July 6, the day after he and Maken left for Doko.

When we were all reunited in Doko the next week, Steeve and I began to discuss how to get Cesnel home to Port.  We were uncomfortable with the idea of leaving him behind to travel by bus with Maken, not knowing when it would be safe for them to return via that means of transportation.

So the decision was made to take Cesnel with us back to Jeremie by moto and fly him home with us on the MAF flight.  We did not tell him what we were doing, and he did not know he was going to fly until we were actually walking out to the airplane. 

Surprises are the best!

“When are you going back to Haiti?”

By far, the most common question people ask me is, “When are you going back to Haiti?” and since April 18, the answer has been, “June 14.”  Over and over people expressed surprise. “But that’s so far away!” And it was.  But now the date is drawing close, and last minute preparations are being made.

 

And my heart is happy.

 

It’s been a while since I took such a long break from Haiti.  But this break was so needed. I had become a little weary, a little overwhelmed, in need of a sabbatical of sorts.  On March 12, through tears, I shared the following with our Haitian staff.  It was that day that I realized how weary I had become.

 

How can a place so foreign become so familiar?

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How can I have more questions,  fewer answers?

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How can the place where I am so completely different become the place where I feel most accepted?  

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How can a place so broken be so whole?  

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How can a place that is far from home be the truest form of home?

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How can these amazing individuals I've known for a few short years be the very people who know me most fully?  

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How can there be so much joy mingled with so much heartbreak?

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How can one explain something for which there is no explanation?

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How does one remain hopefully optimistic?

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I still don’t have answers to these questions (and I know I probably never will), but my heart is more settled, more at peace.  During this time away God has used so many people here in Wilmington to fill up my heart, remind me who I am, and encourage me.

Every week I have gone to The Bridge with expectation of hearing and seeing God, and each week I’ve walked away overwhelmed by the beauty and majesty of our Saviour.

In His power, in His strength, I am ready for a busy summer in Haiti, doing life with the amazing staff of Haiti Awake and the sweet American friends who will join us this summer.

More than ever I find truth in the words of Frederick Buechner:

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
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Haiti Cheri, m’ap vini!  I can hardly wait for the first night I am there, sitting on the roof, listening to this song by Leeland, and praising Jesus for allowing me to know and love and walk the journey of life with some of the most amazing people in the entire world.
 

Ansanm pou Ayiti (Together for Haiti)

Steeve, Polo and Manoucheka attended the Ansanm Pou Ayiti Haiti National State of Health Congress which was held at the Karibe Hotel in Port au Prince May 10 and 11.

The Congress gathered over 200 policy makers, seasoned executives, public and private stakeholders, and knowledgeable pioneers in the health industry to discuss the state of health in Haiti.

Over the course of two days, attendees analyzed the current environment and health system in place, studied the role of public and private sectors in spurring innovation, discussed the challenges individuals and organizations face within the health industry in Haiti, and collaboratively examined the available opportunities for solutions, innovation, support, and systems for change to Haiti’s health landscape as we know it.

Our Haiti Awake staff learned so much and were so grateful for the opportunity to attend.

Polo, Manoucheka and I - The three of us want to thank you for giving us this opportunity to be a part of the National Congress on Healthcare Systems in Haiti.

It has been a very good experience to me especially where I was better able to understand the healthcare system in Haiti - where 80% of the population doesn’t have access to a good quality healthcare.

According to so many, we face challenges like
lack of logistics , lack of availability, lack of training, lack of rules in the systems, lack of infrastructure, etc...

After discussing all of this, we have seen that there is not an easy solution. The healthcare system in Haiti is complicated.

But as we have learned today even though it is complicated, there is hope.

We need a good leadership.
We need jobs created where people will be able to have access with a good quality healthcare
NGOs, the government, and the civil society need to work together for the benefit of the population.

I have so many notes in my notebook. These are just a few!
— Steeve - speaking for all three

Both Manoucheka and Polo sent messages of thanks which echoed Steeve's comments.

Thank you monthly supporters of Haiti Awake who give to the general fund of the ministry.  Your support allows us to educate our staff, paying both their tuition and transportation to this event.   Educating the staff of Haiti Awake empowers them to do more for their communities and allows us to fulfill our mission statement  which says in part -

It is our hope to provide opportunities to Haitian Christians in a variety of ways, including personal relationships, community Bible studies, and formal Biblical training.

Our goal is to equip these local Christians to reach their own communities and their own country through showing Christ’s love in action.

And introducing our 2nd summer intern

I won't describe Hannah Hewling as a new family member, as I described Alexandria yesterday, because Hannah's been a part of Haiti Awake since the first Bridge team came in the summer of 2016.  Last summer Hannah stayed in Haiti with us for two weeks, and this year she's coming back to intern for the 2nd half of our busy summer.

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Hannah is a third grade teacher in Garner, NC, who graduated from UNCW in 2017.

While living in Wilmington, Hannah was a member of The Bridge Church, where she met Becky.  On her first trip to Haiti, Hannah instantly fell in love with the people and culture of Haiti. 

Hannah can not wait to continue to build on relationships she has made as well as, use her teaching background to encourage the children. In July,  She will be teaching English at the children’s home and assisting with the three teams during her trip.

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How thankful we are at Haiti Awake for the many people God has brought to work alongside of our staff through the years.  People like Hannah bring fresh ideas and new energy to our efforts.

Looking forward to a great summer!

Introducing a new member of the Haiti Awake Family

We are planning for a busy summer at Haiti Awake with 6 teams - back to back to back to back to back to back . . .   Our staff will work for 6.5 weeks without a day off!  We are feeling excited - and challenged.

One of the only ways we'll survive this busy season is with additional sets of hands - one of those sets belonging to Alexandria Augi .

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Alexandria Augi, daughter of Rich and Jen Augi, felt God was calling her to the mission field on her first mission trip to Arizona in 2010. She absolutely fell in love with sharing God and His love with the children there.

This March Alexandria traveled to Hait for the first time.  It was immediately evident that she felt at home with our children and our staff - and they were equally comfortable with her.  Just a few days into her trip in March, we began talking about the idea of Alexandria coming to Haiti to intern for the first half of our busy summer.

We're so thankful her mom and dad are allowing her to be part of our family this summer!

In her free time, Alexandria enjoys karate (and teaching it!), reading, and baking. While she is majoring in mathematics at UNC Wilmington, missions holds a special place in her heart and she is ready to follow God’s plan wherever it may lead her.

And this summer, He has led her to the summer internship at Haiti Awake.  For this we are abundantly thankful!

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96 hours in Haiti

Exchange in the Atlanta airport last night.

Immigration agent:  "Where are you returning from?"

Me:  "Port au Prince, Haiti."

Agent:  "Why were you there?"

Me:  "To celebrate a 3 year old's birthday."

Agent:  "Excuse me?"

Me:  "To celebrate a child's birthday.  He's 3 years old now."

Agent:  "You went to Haiti to celebrate a child's birthday?'

Me:  "Yes.  That's right."

Agent:  "That's an unusual reason to visit Haiti.  But a good one.  Have a nice evening."

  Caleb's last day as a two-year-old.

Caleb's last day as a two-year-old.

Yes, it was an unusual reason, but such a good one!  Going to Haiti this week was all about celebrating the goodness of God in the life of Caleb Steven Derard, my favorite 3-year-old.  Caleb's birthday is something I hope to be able to celebrate with him each year because his life is a miracle.

In case you've never read his birth story, you can find it here:


The short time in Hait this week was very productive, however, beyond just sharing a meal and cake with Caleb on Wednesday. 

To answer the question, "How was your week in Haiti?" I decided to share the schedule that we at Haiti Awake followed day-by-day.  I know sometimes people wonder what we do when there's not a team.  Well, this should give you some idea . . . at least of what we did April 16 - 20.

As I always say, no matter how long I am in Haiti, it's never enough time.  This short trip was definitely no exception.  Friday afternoon found us rushing to get to the airport and squeezing every last minute out of my time there.


Monday

  • Arrive on Delta 685

  • 3:30 p.m.   Meet with the children

  • Spend evening unpacking

  • 8 p.m. Meeting with Polo re: economic development and more

  • 9:30 p.m. Meeting with Steeve

Tuesday

  • Work out details of sewing project

  • Look at new places to take summer teams

  • Afternoon with the children

  • 9:30 Meeting with Steeve

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Wednesday

  • Shop for the children's home

  • Go to the market to get supplies for Caleb's party

  • Visit other missionaries

  • 11 am. Caleb’s birthday

  • Gifts for friends in neighborhood

  • Visit children

  • 9:30 meeting with Steeve

 


Thursday

  • 8:30 Go to immigration to finish application for my permis

  • Noon Meeting at hospital with medical staff

  • Pack bracelets and other Mission Made Jewelry items.   Pay everyone for a job well done.

  • 3 pm April birthday party for children and staff

  • Meeting with the wash ladies

  • After dinner, rooftop meeting to close out the week

 

Friday

  • 8:00 Meet with ladies again

  • 9:30  Meet with Steeve and Polo re: children's home

  • 11:00  Staff meeting

  • Noon  Finish last minute packing, eat lunch, grab a shower and dress for airport

  • 1 p.m.   Say goodbye to kids

  • 1:15 Leave for airport

  • Leave on Delta Flight 684  3:30. p.m.

The summer is coming up quickly.   We plan to host 6 separate teams in June and July.  Much of the next two months will be in preparation for hosting our friends and sharing more of what we believe God has called us to in Haiti - Community Development, Economic Development and Church Ministry Development based in Relationships, Gospel, and Hope.

Until next time . . . 

Thoughts on a quiet Friday evening

I've been home from Haiti less than a week, and my emotions are still all over the place.   As usual, those closest to me are asking questions, sometimes probing questions, trying to see where I am, how I am emotionally.  And it's truly a moment-by-moment thing.

On the one hand, I came home with my heart so full.  So, so full.  God has brought an amazing team together at Haiti Awake, and recent additions to our team have eased my burden so much.  For this, I am thankful.   I found so much joy in my 12 days in Haiti.  So much joy.  I was not exhausted like I have been in the past because "Men anpil, chay pa lou" (many hands, burden not heavy).  I wasn't necessarily longing for home (but really, where is my home now?) as I often am after being away from my family for an extended period.

At the same time, I came home with my heart once again tender toward so many things.  Tears haven't been too far from my eyes on any given day.   I often pray that as I continue to see and experience more of Haiti and her people that I will not become jaded, that I won't become callous, that the things that once broke me won't become routine and common.    Like so many, I pray the prayer Bob Pierce once prayed, "Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God."

So tonight I sit here in the quietness of my Wilmington home, missing the sounds of Haiti (the rooster who crows both day and night, the barking dogs, the beeping horns, the ridiculous nightclub down the street . . . ), I am filled with immense thankfulness for all that Haiti has become to me - and to so many others - through Haiti Awake.

And I pray that in some small way God will enable me to give back a little of what I have received from the most precious people in the most precious place.

Here are just a few photos of some extraordinarily beautiful moments.

Knowing what you know, what will you do?

Knowing what you know, what will you do?

And because he saw himself in relationship to a people in a place, he saw himself as responsible for the way their world turned out, for the way it was and the way it ought to be.    Steven Garber

2017 in Review

It's been another year.  We have another opportunity to look back and see God's providence, His faithful hand, His leading...and to see that once again, we never walked alone.

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The first four months of the year were marked by change as the children came under our care. We also began to discuss the idea of expanding Haiti Awake outside of Port au Prince, hosted teams in the new upstairs guesthouse, launched our child sponsorship program, and added stateside coordinators - Hannah Telman, Liz Kyle, and Alicia Mercer.

Glwa pou Bondye.

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The middle four months were characterized by teams - five of them to be exact . . . in addition to the four we had already hosted in the first four months of 2017.  Fun times.  Busy times.  Times of growth.  Many of this summer's team members became sponsors to our children, and for that we are grateful.  

Relationships. 

Gospel. 

Hope.

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The latter part of 2017 brought great joy, as well as some hard times.  The children returned to school for their 3rd year of schooling since Haiti Awake began providing for their tuition, and we rejoiced. Haiti Awake was also able to open the copy center and begin its first chicken project during this same period. We are thankful that God continues to expand our resonsibilities. We also were forced to think about the brevity of life when Wesly and Idelmy were involved in a serious accident.   And we finished out the year with a wonderful Christmas celebration provided by friends and sponsors.

We look forward with great anticipation to where God will providentially lead in 2018.  We anticipate growth through new business opportunities as well as outreach and expansion of responsibility outside of Port au Prince.  But we recognize and affirm the truth found in Proverbs 16:9:

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.

Tout glwa pou Bondye. Toutan.