Erin is excited to start this chapter with Haiti Awake as the Coordinator of Creative Content. She is expectant in God's ability to use all of the skills and characteristics He has blessed her with to bring glory to His name through the works of Haiti Awake in Haiti and in the United States.
When I got to Doko, I met strong people who are struggling with life so that they can bring bread to their family every day. Occupations include cultivators, farmers, vendors, and fishermen. They can’t provide all the necessaries things to get all of the kids in school on time, but they are making all of their best to make them go to school even at the age of 13 years old. -Hudson
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 .
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!
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."
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.
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
Work out details of sewing project
Look at new places to take summer teams
Afternoon with the children
9:30 Meeting with Steeve
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
9:30 meeting with Steeve
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
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 . . .
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."
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.
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.
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.
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:
Tout glwa pou Bondye. Toutan.
Although we praise God for you every year on your birthday, Wesly, today we are praising Him in a special way for giving you an another year of life. Your accident this summer reminded us just how precious life is . . . and how quickly it can be taken away.
You are an important part of Haiti Awake. We are thankful for the opportunity to continue to walk out this journey as friends together. May the Lord continue to keep you and sustain you.
Enjoy these pictures of a few of the moments we've shared together.
You are loved.
Last Friday night, Steeve and I talked by telephone. He was still in Doko with Fre Jacques and Maken, but they were finished working there and had plans to travel back to Port the next morning. We were rejoicing, praising God for everything that had transpired in Doko during the week.
Roughly an hour later Steeve sent me a text: "I just heard that Wesly and Idelmy had an accident. They are at the hospital."
That text led to a restless night followed by several busy days filled with texts, phone calls, and requests on our part for favors from people in Port-au-Prince as we tried to ascertain the severity of Wesly and Idelmy's injuries. Getting medical information about loved ones in Haiti is not always an easy thing.
Idelmy had surgery on his foot on Sunday and was discharged on Monday. Wesly had surgery twice (hand and foot), and he is still hospitalized.
I arrived in Haiti Wednesday afternoon and was able to see them both.
Seeing Wesly at the hospital is not an easy thing, but Steeve and I have been able to see him each day since I arrived.
Visiting hours are twice a day (noon to 1:30 - but they seem to cut the line off about 1) and (5-6:30 - but again, the line isn't open that long). Each patient can only receive one visitor at a time, so for the last 3 days Steeve and I have arrived about 30 minutes before the scheduled visiting time in order to wait for the gate to open where we can pass through, wash our hands, give our ID, and then be given permission to spend a little time with Wesly while trading time with other people who care about him like his mother, his brother, and other friends.
Idelmy is recovering at home. He can't do much yet because of his foot, so he has been the happy (and exclusive) user of a Kindle tablet to help him pass the time.
The privacy of both Idelmy and Wesly is important to us, and we ask you to please respect that. We also ask that you pray with us that God will allow them to fully recover. We are specifically praying that Wesly will be able to come home before I return to the States on September 7.
Thank you for loving the people we love and caring about them.
One summer Five amazingly diverse teams. And now that it's all said and done, I believe the following words more than ever:
Thankful for what God has done. Thankful for what we know He will do. Looking toward the future with great hope and anticipation.
Glwa pou Bondye.
Since mid-January, we have been earnestly praying that God would direct us to a more permanent caregiver situation for the children. With the sudden departure of their former caregivers, the staff of Haiti Awake banded together and "made it work," but we all knew that eventually we would need a more stable environment for them.
Shortly after Hurricane Matthew, God allowed Jean Fritz Jacques to begin working with us. His spiritual maturity, his gentle spirit, his quick smile were things that quickly endeared him to me personally.
And over the last 9 months, I have watched him become more and more a part of our family here at Haiti Awake.
In June, we were intensely praying that God would provide a good woman to mother the children, and one night in mid-June, God made it abundantly clear that Frè Jacques' wife, Sè Cilotte, was that woman.
Steeve and I had several meetings with the Sè Cilotte and Frè Jacques in June and July, and after much prayer and discussion on all sides, they have agreed to join the staff of Haiti Awake and move into the children's home to assume the role of house parents.
We could not be any happier for the children and for them.
The rest of the Haiti Awake staff will continue to be part of the children's lives each week through intentional interactions. For example, Wesly will continue to sleep at the children's home to provide security, and Polo will continue to administer many of the children's programs. Maken is so good with the children in loving them, being a friend, and organizing games, while Big and Donalson are great homework tutors.
We are looking forward to a busy summer at Haiti Awake . . . including teams scheduled every day from May 31 to July 1 and a team later in July.
We are thankful that Linda Estep has agreed to come to Haiti for the month of June!
Linda is a music teacher in Wilmington, NC, and has been involved in church ministry from a young age. During college, she experienced her first short-term missions trip to Ukraine that burdened her to see the world and help others. Since moving to Wilmington, she has been to Haiti three times and has come to love the people that God has placed in her life through Haiti Awake.
This summer as part of her internship with Haiti Awake, she will be assisting with team Bible Clubs, the Children's Home, and every day operations of the household. She looks forward to building stronger relationships with old friends and meeting many new friends while she is in Haiti.