The Hospitality House continues in full swing! I can hardly get new sheets on a bed before another guest walks through the door to stay! We certainly get our money’s worth out of this place and are planning to sign our fourth year contract before the month’s end because we believe its the best place to be where God wants us to be right now! We have had a full house pretty much since we moved in! Here are our latest visitors and how they served us and alongside us the past few months!
A few days after our beloved Bethany Ministries team departed Haiti, these lovely ladies graced our presence with their small team ready to serve! Andrea and Emma Richardson are dear Canadian friends and they brought two young ladies from Circle Square Ranch camp along too! These Canadian camp friends have been one of KOFAEL’s biggest supporters since the beginning. They brought provisions that are a huge blessing and answered prayer and have also helped us to continue with our medical insurance program for the KOFAEL ladies. The team primarily served at El Shaddai Learning Center during the week tutoring and encouraging the students in their English studies. Andrea and I had corralled our friend Betsy from Ohio to join us and she mostly hung out with me and kept me going while Andrea kept us both doubled over laughing!
Andrea’s team brought some sweet treats for these kids too! We typically don’t do handouts with teams but because we have been building relationships with these kids for a good while now, had asked their parents permission and knew that these children have so very little materially with little to no toys we decided it would be ok. These kids had asked me for months for dolls and toy cars and I had been telling them for months “Si Bondye vle” (“If good God wants” which is a commonly used phrase here). I finally got to tell them that I guess God wanted to give them dolls and toy cars because those things showed up at my house and I knew they were just for them! There were also some dresses and new undergarments for the girls. I’m still doling out underwear here and there on occasion. Like tonight when I did a scabies treatment on one of the girls and noticed her need for such. The kids were pretty well behaved as they came in to choose their gifts one by one. There were boy dolls too which the big boys were happy to choose but clarified that they were for their baby brothers.
I was over at these kids houses earlier today and saw one of the baby brothers Meshach with his doll. As we suspected would happen, the doll was naked, marked up and looked a mess. I caught myself thinking “how would they know how to take care of a doll when these kids are typically naked, marked up and look a mess themselves?” Then I watched as Meshach went over to the doll, picked it up and began cradling it in his arms ever so gently. I told him “You’re a good Papa Meshach!” And I thought to myself, “Isn’t that just like how our Good Good Father holds us even though we are all marked up with sin and messy lives.” These kids teach me so much!
We were able to connect with two of our supporting churches in Illinois over the Christmas break and learned that one pastor would be traveling to Haiti shortly after we returned! Eric enjoyed getting to spend some time with Steve Switzer and other visiting pastors with him. Eric took our Haitian neighbor Stanley with him that day to meet up with Pastor Steve. Stanley arrived back in St. Marc telling all of our neighbors about their trip to the capital. He was especially thrilled to have met so many pastors! Stanley is not yet a believer so we found it interesting that he was so interested–and gave us more hope for Stanley!
I cannot tell you how much these two ladies I sit between mean to me. There aren’t too many people that WANT to jump on a Haitian “taxi” and ride around with you through the dusty, smelly streets of Haiti! I met each of them through different circumstances in Haiti five years ago and we all have adopted children born in Haiti. I love how they get me and patiently listen to my endless chat. We shamelessly share the awesome, awkward, and awful (and everything in between) because we feel safe with each other. We are all very different but can cry together and laugh so hard and so much (because Andrea is the most hilarious person ever) we can hardly catch our breath! I love how I have been to each of their homes and know their families well enough to visualize the things they share. I love it that they can do that with me too. They are good for my soul and help me to remember that no matter what life throws at us, it is well with my soul. I’m so glad I got a good dose of these dear ones! I know they were coming to accomplish multiple things and serve Haiti (and that they did), but I am so selfishly happy that they served my heart too!
Andrea shared at El Shaddai chapel about forgiveness. Listening to her you could have heard a pen drop. Andrea and her husband Steve have run a Christian camp in Canada for the past 15 years. She knows her stuff and knows how to hold an audience. She holds me in stitches whenever I am with her. Funniest person I have ever met! One of the best too! She loves Jesus and people well! I’m thankful to call her my friend! Courtney and Serenity who are in one of the camp programs came with Andrea and Emma to serve for the week. They were a blessing as well!
Here is our sweet Emma helping one of the El Shaddai students with her schoolwork.
Emma is one of our most favorite people in the whole wide world and like a big sis to the Ream Team kids (and she fits right in with the “E” name!). Emma lived with our family for several weeks over the hot Haitian summer of 2012. We got an extra week with Emma all to ourselves after the rest of the team left. We think she will be back to stay for good someday. We are holding out hope for that day!
Elita Marguerite turned 17 on February 9th! We celebrated her birthday with family and the Carroll’s that day but it was a school night so she had a friends party later when Emma could be with us.
We found it interesting after Elita made her guest list for her first slumber party that there were girls from five different countries (Haiti, USA, Ethiopia, Taiwan and Canada) coming! Such a sweet memory for my travel and language loving girl whose goal is to travel the world. She is aching to do that sooner than later having spent her whole life almost all in Haiti. But sometimes the world comes to us. She is learning that. We are so proud of all she is learning and the young woman she is becoming. Prayers appreciated for Elita as she struggles to catch up in school. We are not on the graduate when you turn 18 plan and we are totally ok with that. Elita didn’t really have much schooling until age 13 and that schooling began in a second language for her. Considering these circumstances, she is doing awesome! She has such a diligent spirit towards her work and a voracious appetite for reading! We praise God for her!
This is Figaro. He never knew there was a song about him but he certainly does now that we can’t say his name without singing it! Figaro moved in the day after Emma left. We have known Figaro for a little over four years now. He was living with his aunt while finishing school in Port au Prince the past few years. Our first year in Haiti, Eric shared the gospel with Figaro and he trusted in Christ alone as his Savior! He has such a sweet personality and smile. He is currently taking a few night classes in St. Marc and now has a day job at El Shaddai Learning Center! He has secured a little house in our neighborhood to rent for himself but the landlord has not yet come through on his promise to fix what needs to be fixed in order to make it livable even after paying. We are happy to have Figaro stay with us for the time being as he is learning the ropes, navigating a new town and making new friends. He has agreed to watch over our house and dogs during the time we will be away this summer.
Figaro loves to sit and look through our books. Here he is discussing the New Christian’s Handbook with Ethan.
This story is too cute not to share again. One night I came out of my bedroom after taking a shower and getting ready for bed and find Figaro grinning from ear to ear while reading one of our children’s books. He looks up bright eyed and says “Wow! Did you know the story of Ruth and Naomi, it is a happy story!!!???!!! I have heard this story many times in church but it is always a sad story when told in Creole. Did you know that Ruth is the grandmother of David? THE King David? I didn’t ever hear that before! Oh wow! You see, Ruth and Naomi had hard times and there was little food and they had to leave their home. They were poor and didn’t know how they would survive but God took care of them. Can you imagine? They were so poor like this without a home or food and then their grandson was a KING! Wow! This is such a happy story for Haitians to hear!” Then I asked him if he knew that THE KING Jesus was also a descendant of Ruth and Naomi and David? He said, “Really?” Then we read the genealogy of Jesus Christ together in Matthew 1. He was so excited to share this great encouraging news with his family and friends!
Eric met Stan in Fiji about 20 years ago. Stan represents Ambassadors For Christ around the world. His ministry of Proclaiming Christ’s Aloha throughout the islands, across the nation and around the world caught Eric’s attention as a 21 year old and he told Stan, “I want to do what you do. I want your job!” When Eric was about to graduate from grad school he and Stan met up again to discuss future ministry plans. A decade later in Haiti which is Stan’s 30th country to minster the gospel of Christ, they finally join up to serve the Lord together. Stan proclaimed Christ’s aloha and the Hawaiian language was a hit at school, at Haitian churches and at our international church. We were blessed to receive a few gifts from Hawaii and send him off with gifts from Haiti! We have been exceedingly encouraged and challenged in our walk with the Lord for getting to spend a week with Stan.
Stan spoke daily at El Shaddai Learning Center challenging our students from the Word to impact the world. No matter the cost students, it is worth it! “Make your mark without leaving a stain.” Stan helped to prepare our students for Mission Dalencourt. The students went out and served the community around the school in a variety of ways (picking up trash, going door to door and asking if they could pray for people, and giving out water bottles whiles sharing about the Living Water) and made a mark, indeed an eternal mark! Way to go El Shaddai students and staff. “You have no choice, but to choose!”
Montrouis International Fellowship invited Stan to share at our monthly Lord’s Supper service. We have believers from five different countries worshiping the Lord together. Stan sang a song in Hawaiian about faith, hope and love. May we continue to reach out to the nations and offer hope in Christ.
Last but not least we have Mrs. Katherine who has graced us with her sweet spirit and teacher’s heart for the past month. We put out a plea about six weeks ago for a volunteer teacher to come live with us and help our kids with their schoolwork. The daily distractions, ministry opportunities and obligations, household chores, neighbor noise and constant interruptions do not usually lend us a hand in giving our children the undivided attention they need very often. It was beginning to take its toll and we didn’t know what else to do but ask for help. God provided Mrs. Katherine whose family back in Texas graciously loaned her to us for seven weeks! She has been a steady source of encouragement and tutoring to our children, especially Elita Marguerite who needs it the most. Katherine has been a missionary in India with her husband and youngest son and has visited her daughter who is a missionary in Senegal with her husband and young children. So I figured she would fare just fine in Haiti. She was my teacher for one semester when I was ten years old and I knew her children growing up. It is very special to have her here with us. She patiently puts up with us and loves engaging everyone who walks through the doors of the Hospitality House. She can surely testify to the fact that we need as much help as we can get as there is truly never a dull moment around here! Thankful for her calm in our storm, her heart for sharing the gospel, connecting with people and being available and willingly used by God for His glory!
Thankful for the many ways through His people that God provides for what we need so that we can continue to do what He calls us to do! There is never a dull moment when we follow Him!