Monday, February 28, 2011

Guest Post

It’s been a remarkable couple of days here in Port au Prince!

Yesterday (Sunday) we went to Quisqueya Chapel with Jason and Will. This is a local multicultural, non-denominational congregation of about 300 people that many local missionary families as well as Haitians attend.

Shortly after the service began a girl of about 8 or 9 began screaming in what at first seemed to be a seizure. Several of the church members carried her outside and Joyce went out to see if she could help. Once outside, many people placed their hands on her body and began praying over her. As they prayed, her screaming stopped, but as soon as they paused, it would resume.

Jason later explained that her screaming was actually cursing and blaspheming God, and that it started as soon as scripture reading began. She was demon possessed, and the Haitians, who are more familiar with this recognized it.

As the people continued to pray over her, she began to calm down and eventually relax. Praise God for answered prayer!

Although to our western minds, what happened was unsettling, the church service set against this experience was incredible. During the service we really felt the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Today (Monday) Jim went flying with Jason while the rest of us worked to complete the homes in Port au Prince. The women painted the home we had completed Saturday, while AJ and I completed a second home with the help of about 6 Haitians.

We finished working around 10:00 a.m., and then spent some time visiting the homes that previous teams had constructed. At 11:00 a.m. we took some more Bibles and coloring books to the Christian School we had visited on Friday. The looks on the children's faces as they each received a book and a pack of crayons was priceless and heartwarming.

After visiting the school we spent more time exploring the area. As we walked we passed by a man we had met on our last visit. He asked us to pray for him as he was studying seven languages to help him become a missionary to various people groups. We prayed with him and he was grateful for our visit and prayers.

The women spent the afternoon helping the women at the Apparent Project design and sew a new purse. Once completed the purses will be added to the Apparent Project's product line. By the end of the day, 8 of the 13 women had already completed their first purse.

Tomorrow the men fly to Jacmel first thing to begin building there, and will be staying at Calvary Chapel's guest house. Jason, Will, Jayden and the women hope to join us there on Friday.

We have been very blessed on our first few days here, and have witnessed amazing and incredible things. We have been able to talk and build relationships with the Haitians, as well as been given opportunities to bring Gods Word. Our prayer is that God will continue to bless our work here for His Glory and to the furtherance of His Kingdom.

by Chris Klaassen

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Busy Day for Team Three

Up at 6:00 and at the job site, ready to go, at 6:45.

The tap tap and workers were already waiting and it didn't take long for the building materials to get loaded.

It didn't quite all fit so the men carried some of the walls. One of the Haitian workers who watched said,"Well if the white men can carry that all the way to the job site then I can carry these beams!"

Once the men left, the ladies got to work cutting out pattern pieces and sewing a purse.

Jayden enjoyed spending time with his new Grandma.

Grandma Beeke coloured so intensely that the table began to shake giving me quite a scare! "Earthquake," I gasped, white as a sheet. It took me a while to recover.

I did eventually though, and enjoyed spending time with the ladies and going over the purse pattern and instructions with them.

The finished purse turned out great!

We plan to begin teaching 10 Haitian women how to make the purse this coming Monday.

After a lunch of rice and beans, the team hit the streets again.

This time the ladies went with to help build the homes as well.

The men had finished their first home that morning.

That afternoon they started working on the second home.

At 2:30 the team headed back to the Apparent Project for the feeding program.

It didn't take long for news to spread and children to gather.

Laura and I collected tickets at the gate. One little boy broke our heart and we both had to fight back tears. He had only one ticket for him and his sister. "You need one ticket each," I told him in Creole. "But my ticket counts for two," he said. "Only one per child," I insisted. He looked down at his ticket and then with his big brown eyes looked back up at me. "She can have it," he said, pointing to his sister. He turned to walk away, but I pulled him back. "Just come in," I said, tears choking my voice. Haiti breaks your heart sometimes.

To see the children so desperate to come in, so desperate for a plate of food, and a piece of clothing. But also to see their love and concern for each other. Three and four year-olds feeding their younger siblings, 5 and 6 year-olds making sure everyone in their family receives a piece of clothing.

Words just can't describe it all. Words just aren't enough.

Monday, February 21, 2011

God Answers Prayer

God answers prayer. Just not always in ways we expect.

When I shared my worries with God He did not take my worries away. Instead He led me to the text in Isaiah; "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusteth in Thee." (Is 26:3)

When I prayed and asked God to help me deal with someone who frustrated and annoyed me God did not change that person. Instead he reminded me softly that; "The fruit of the Spirit is.... gentleness.." (Gal 5:22)

When I struggled with life here on earth God said; "Set you affections (mind) on things above, not on things on the earth." (Col 3:2)

When I was afraid, God said; "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Tim 1:7) He also said; "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear." (1 John 4:18) I memorized these verses and when I began to feel afraid again I repeated them and the fear went away.

When I prayed and asked God to help me be a better wife and mother God did not point out my faults but simply said; "Love suffers long and is kind." (1 Cor 13) I tried it and soon realized that my biggest problems were selfishness and impatience. When you are long suffering and kind there is no room for either.

When I struggled with an issue regarding the future God said; "Blessed are the meek." (Matt 5:5) I wasn't sure exactly what it meant to be meek so I looked it up. To be meek means accepting God's dealing with us as good, without resistance. In order to be meek I had to put our future back where it belonged, in God's hands.

Looking back I realized that God answered all my prayers, just not in ways I had expected. In none of these instances did God change my circumstances, instead He did something much greater - He changed my heart.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rain in the Desert

My eyes scan the barren landscape until I spot the narrow, dirt landing strip.

As our small aircraft descends the temperature rises. Dry heat parches my skin.

I look down as we approach and am struck by the sheer desolation. The ground begs for water, for relief.

A few minutes later the airplane's wheels make contact with the unforgiving earth. I brace myself as we lurch over the dips and ruts. Jason breaks hard. The strip is short. Finally we roll to a complete stop.

Looking out the window I wave at the boys and the donkey who intently watch us from the edge of the runway. My mouth is parched.

We deplane and are greeted by Judy and Manis. They are the founders of Lemuel Ministries here in Anse Rouge, and we are here this weekend to distribute food for their food for work programs.

They show us the guestrooms where we can stay. It's a new addition since last year and I like how cozy it looks.

Once we've stowed away our bags we get to work dividing up the shipment of rice, flour, magi, oil and fish.

It's a big job and I soon find myself elbow deep in flour. Jayden thinks this is great fun.

With all of us working together we finish two hours later.

The sun is setting by the time we carry the last bags of food into the storage room.

As the sun disappears from view the moon and stars appear. We look in wonder how bright they appear without any man-made light to obstruct our view.

The next morning we wake up to roosters crowing, chickens clucking and donkey's braying.

Jayden likes the fact that the windows have neither screens or window panes and climbs up to get a good view of all the animals outside.

That afternoon all those who participated in the food for work program come to collect their food.

As the people take their food home, many using wheelbarrows provided by Lemuel Ministries, the sky darkens.

Will the long-awaited rain finally come to quench the thirsty ground?

Will it rain in the desert?

Thunder rumbles. Lightning flashes. Then God open the clouds and torrential rains pour down.

We stand in awe at God's power, at His goodness. We rejoice together at His mercy.

Rain in the desert.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Day in Pictures

The day started early...

A new home for an expectant lady currently living in a make shift tent...

Her son watches.

Back at the Apparent Project Anne Marie and I work on a design for a purse that the Haitian ladies can make and then sell in the US or Canada.

You can tell by my smile that it's a success!

Makensia and Serlo come to work at the Apparent Project and it's very special meeting their twin baby girls.

Lillien soon nods off.

Lillian quickly follows suite.

At 12:30 Jilner comes on his motor bike to give us a ride to the job site.

Once he's dropped us off he goes back for Anne Marie.

Brian, Jason and a crew of Haitians work hard all morning.

Another family member of the lady who will receive the home cooks for all the workers.

Once the house is framed, we head up to the Baptist Mission.

We enjoy the great company and great food!

A little time to check out the souvenirs,

and then a trip up to the look out.

We end the afternoon with a quick grocery stop at Eagle Market.

See any similarities?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


It’s 10:00 a.m. and already getting warmer.

At the front gate I unlock the small door in the heavy steel security gate, ease it open and slip through. Jayden follows close behind me. A UN truck is parked on the street a few meters away. It wasn’t there yesterday. As Jayden and I pass the truck, the soldier sitting in the back smiles and waves. A Haitian police truck is parked just down the road. “Must be beefing up security around the senator’s house,” I muse, “Oh, when will this election nightmare be over!”

I reach down and clutch Jayden’s hand, and together we walk down the dirt road, stepping around the ruts and mud puddles. “Bonjou, bonjou,” I greet the people who pass by us; their friendly responses of “Bonjou” are as warm as the rising Caribbean sun.

"I can’t see her,” Jayden complains.

“Just wait,” I tell him. “I think she’s behind the black truck.”

As we approach the truck, the old lady sees us coming. Her weathered face breaks into a wide smile, displaying several missing teeth. She waves both hands in the air to greet us. We wave back

We cross the street, and as I greet her, Jayden begins to inspect the goodies in her basket. “You can pick out some cookies, Jayden,” I tell him.

In a minute, he has a package in his hand. “A lollipop too, Mom?”

“No Jayden.”

“Ba li yon,” says the old lady. (Give him one).

Now I have two pairs of eyes pleading with me. “Non, li pa bon pou li,” I insist firmly. (No, it's not good for him). I don’t like lollipops because the sticks come off which make them a choking hazard. I press the money into her hands and we say goodbye. She blows kisses at us as we continue on our way.

A little further up the road, we are spotted by two young boys. Immediately they begin to run toward us. It is Palo and Wilson. They throw their arms around me in a big hug.

"Bonjou zammi yo mwen!" I say. (Good morning, my friends)

"Nou remen ou!" (We love you!")

I smile. "Mwen gen bon bon pou ou," (I have a treat for you) I reach into Jayden's pooh backpack for the small package of cookies. Jayden starts to cry.

"Sa pou li, nou pa ka pran li." Palo says. (That’s his, we can't take it.")

"Come on Jayden, sharing is caring." I urge him. He reluctantly lets go of the cookies and we divide them. Quick as a flash the boys pop the cookies into their mouths. "Mesi, mesi" they say, grinning.

“You’re welcome.” I tell them in Creole.

When the cookies are gone they start to sing. The song is about washing your hands before you eat or else you may get sick and die of cholera.

"But you didn't wash your hands before you ate your cookies," I tease them.

"We didn't really touch it," they assure me.

I laugh. True enough.

Jayden and I continue walking to the Williams’ house where MAF’s Pathfinder is parked. It’s been almost two weeks since a vehicle has been available, but Glee, who is a teacher, has agreed to ride with the pilots to school today so that I can use the Pathfinder. Today is errand day.

After unlocking the vehicle, I strap Jayden into his seat and then back the Pathfinder through the gate onto the street. When I get out to close the gate, Lovena walks by.

"Bonjou," I say, "koman ou ye?"(How are you?)

"Mwen bien." (I'm well)

She kisses my cheek, and we chat for a minute.

As I drive home, I remember how I first met Lovena several months ago while walking home from the store. She was walking home from school. After introducing herself, she asked me if I knew Jesus. "If you don't,” she said, “I'd love for you to come with me to church!"

My smile at the recollection turns into tight-lipped concentration as I maneuver the Pathfinder over some potholes as big as drainage ditches.

When I honk the horn outside my own gate, Denise comes out the small door and gets into the Pathfinder. She needs to cut more cereal boxes to make jewelery beads so she's coming with us.

At the school library, Jayden and I pick out five books each; we both love to read. Then we drive on towards the Apparent Project building.

“I feel much safer driving than walking,” Denise tells me.

“Why is that?” I ask her.

"Because when you're walking you can get kidnapped and sold for $5,000 US dollars!"

"You mean like when the family pays to get you back?"

"No. They sell you to the Jed that eats you."

"I've never heard of that." I reply, unsure of what or who the ‘Jed’ is.

"But if you truly know Jesus," Denise continues, "then they can't touch you and you will be returned to your family."

"Hmm, interesting. Did you by any chance hear this on the radio?"

(Haitian radio is full of all kinds of stories and “urban legends,” my favorite one being a bridge that is being built from Florida to Haiti that will be completed this October. When I argue the impossibility of this with various Haitians, the response invariably is "Americans can do anything!")

"No, I didn't hear this on the radio. The pastor from our church was talking about it. A lady from the church we attend lost her son that way and she will never see him again."

I nod, unsure of how to respond. I've never heard of this before, and it seems unlikely for someone to pay $5,000 US dollars for a piece of meat, if they really meant to eat you, that is. I've never heard of witch doctors having that kind of money either. Also, considering the number of news reporters here, surely someone would have jumped on that story if it was really true. I can just imagine the screaming headlines: BEWARE OF CANNIBALS IN HAITI.

I honk the horn insistently, and then nudge the Pathfinder into the intersection in front of a ‘tap-tap’ pickup truck, its cargo bed loaded with sacks of rice.

"Well, Denise,” I agree, “I guess I feel safer driving, too.”

At the Apparent Project, building materials are being unloaded from a truck.

"Great!” I say excitedly, “this must be the five houses that MAF paid for!”

I park and unbuckle Jayden, while Denise grabs her cereal boxes. At the front gate, I stand on my tip toes and peek over. The guard recognizes me at once and unlocks the door.

Inside, Denise gets right to work cutting the boxes into long thin tapered strips to make the beads for her jewelery. I find Shelley Clay, who runs the Apparent Project, in her temporary office where she is working on her computer. Shelley tells me about the sewing program that a sewing team has started. I inspect the wallets and card holders a group of women are working on. It’s nice work.

For the next few hours, Shelley and I brainstorm ideas: the merits of sewing larger purses; the uses of tea tree oil; how to help moms with babies; and jewelery. Then we go downstairs to see Baby Pierre.

Vesline, his 17-year-old mother is currently living at the Apparent Project and she smiles shyly at me. "Vesline's mother died suddenly two weeks ago of cholera," Shelley tells me. "It's so sad." Thankfully, Baby Pierre looks healthy enough, and he smiles and coos in his sleep.

We walk back upstairs and I go check on Denise. She is almost done cutting up the cereal boxes. I help her finish up, and then we say goodbye to Shelley and all the artisans working at the tables.

Outside, the sun is a ball of fire. I brush back the hair from my face in the burning afternoon heat.

The black Pathfinder is like a baker’s oven; even the A/C blowing hard can’t cool it down. I roll down the windows a little, hoping to catch a breeze.

A twenty minute drive later, we’re back at our gate.

Denise waits in the Pathfinder with Jayden, while I run inside to get our empty 5-gallon Culligan bottles for the last necessary errand; a trip to the store to stock up on food and drinking water. Tomorrow, the names of the participants in Haiti’s runner-up elections will be announced, and the ‘word’ on the street is that things could erupt in violence all over again.

Oh, when will this election nightmare be over!