These days have flown by, filled with programs and conferences in Haiti. It is when the conference is over for the day, or when we are talking with some of the program participants though, that we really get to know and understand some of the people we love so much more.
The months of March and April were full of these types of conversations and falling in love with the people and places the Lord has brought us to in this time. We are so thankful to be with these wonderful people and to help them meet their own needs in their developing communities.
2 years ago, when we began venturing into the mountains behind our house, we met a man named Pastor Diesel. We met him in passing and invited him, at the time, to the house for our Justice Water seminars. For the following two weeks, he walked about 2 hours (often times arriving late) to get to these seminars. He was so thirsty for anything that could help his mountainside community and we formed a friendship with him that has been really life giving since then. One time, when we ventured out to see him and his family, he mentioned that he had been a pastor for 30 something years with no break and no follow up training. This conversation and friendship is how we ended up inviting some of our friends from Mars Hill and Mosaic down for a week- to train and empower these men and women who serve their communities so well. It was a great time of gathering- some people walking 3 hours just to get to the training. I believe it was also very eye opening for some of the people visiting- as I am sure it always is in some ways- Haiti is so close and yet worlds away from the USA.
Pastor Diesel and some of our friends who came to see his church and encourage his members.
How CUTE are they?! Pastor and his wife have been married for over 30 years!
We also received a great teacher and now friend, Dr. Kumi, a west-African who now lives in Atlanta. He came to teach business principles to some of our leaders in the community as well. We were so impressed by his teaching and are looking forward to future partnerships with him!
We also were able to begin construction on our much needed benches and our outdoor classrooms for our kids program. A huge thank you to our friends at Apostles by the Sea and Danny Kakish for so quickly helping us with this need! Before this, the 100 kids we had coming to our program were sitting on the floor and we had virtually no room to split them up and do more age appropriate activities. We are really excited for the ways our kids program is growing- featuring ESL, special programs like singing and dancing, and life lessons/Bible and sports. We are going to be kicking off our second annual summer day camp in July and can’t wait for that! This spring, they were able to do a special thank you to all of the mothers in the community for mother’s day, which is so so special, too!
Our business side of things has been really growing and we are so thankful, as we hope eventually it will provide MORE jobs to our community and will help offset some of our overhead as Konbit. We have an amazing sewing program, with 14 women sewing pillows and making coconut buttons in their spare time and coming in for encouragement and community on Mondays. It has become one of our most treasured times, getting to be with these wonderful women- most of them single moms who are so proud to be able to eek out a living for themselves. We are also expanding into some other products this summer/fall and hope to have these things available online to sell sometime in the next few months. We also are doing really well with our moringa sales- the miracle tree we grow in our garden. We have also partnered with a local Haitian Grandmother, who is amazing and inspiring in her own right, to sell her coffee state-side- calling it Kafe Gran (translates to Grandmother’s Coffee). We are so excited to expand this, as well.
Our water programs are steadily growing and we are so proud of our community directors, who are turning into community developers, seeing all of the different aspects of their communities they work alongside. Our friend, David, was especially busy with water projects this spring. He completed a rain catchment tank in a needy area in the mountains far away from our house and in an elderly home, partnering with both YWAM Ships and Mission of Grace Haiti. He did a great job! Our other directors are also working in some incredibly needy communities that are hard to reach and we are working hard to make sure these water needs are met and our guys can complete these projects with adequate transportation and funds.
The team at the elderly home. :)
It has been so amazing to help give oversight to these various projects in Haiti, as well as inform people in the USA about how wonderful and capable Haitians are in meeting the needs of their communities! A huge thank you to those of you who continue to see this, walk with us and help our Haitian friends have their programs and needs met.
For us personally, we are in a constant phase of asking ourselves “How does this look?” and then waiting for the path to arrive ;). We have so enjoyed what has happened so far. We have been in the USA for a few weeks now, spending time with family and having some amazing meetings with friends and partners across the US. We are heading back to Haiti for the summer camp and hopefully to begin construction on a much needed water project up the mountain, as well.