Lately, as we have run into a ton of people around town, this question is posed: What are you guys doing these days? In a world where Ryan and I have been the people living overseas, it is weird to see us so often and (likely) confusing to people who know us solely as the people who work and live overseas.
It has been weird for us, too. Though Ryan has spent literally half of 2017 in Haiti thus far, I have been here since July. Both of us have spent a lot more time in the USA than the past few years, so it is understandable that people might not understand what we are doing each day.
When we started Konbit, we had a small board of 4 people and weren’t sure where to take it. Years into it now, we found that we needed to create more structure. So, that has been a huge benefit of being in the USA for this season. We have helped assemble a great team of people to work alongside us in specific ways, and we have been able to begin creating systems for the way things work on this side. We took our filing cabinet out of storage and began creating more effective methods for operating and bookkeeping- both incredibly important.
In addition to this, we have been able to amp up our funding game. Admittedly, not a fun part of the process, but a vital one. We are about to kick off our second annual Clean Water Blue fundraiser, with all funds going to our water program with Justice Water. In addition to this, we are pumped for our first annual Konbit Haiti luncheon in April. We are working on grants, and having more lasting partners in this area. It has been years since we have properly made new relationships, so this has been a huge asset to being here. We have had the opportunity to speak at multiple gatherings, from church services to schools. It has been a sweet (and challenging) time, using different gifts and skills than in Haiti, for sure!
We have also had a lot of time to promote and grow the business side of Konbit. We are excited to share that our Haitian products are represented in South Alabama’s ONLY Fair-trade market in the Tanger Outlet Center in Foley, AL: Cadeaux Caché. In addition to this, our internet sales via Etsy and Konbithaiti.org are growing. Our coffee is selling at local coffee shops and our moringa has become a staple online best-seller. We are making some EXCITING changes and growth in this area and we are so thankful we have been able to spend some time growing this: as it provides jobs AND additional funding for the ministry.
There are MANY things we have been focusing on this season of being based out of the US! It has been difficult to not be in Haiti and the DR, as we have been used to that sort of life for a while. However, there has been so much growth that it is obvious this season is what the Lord has for us. We are also gearing up for a Haiti-heavy (I can go back now!) spring/summer and these awesome fundraisers planned! We are so thankful for this blessing of working with Haiti in this capacity.
We have exciting developments involving our community center dream that we are working on, as well. We are so thankful for the way God has brought us together with people who have His heart. Its honestly overwhelming!
On a personal note, I am finally doing so much better. For those of you who don’t know, I had a heatstroke in July- the last thing on a long list of random/strange health ailments I had been experiencing. After lots of testing and prodding, my gallbladder was removed and my health has returned! Thank God and doctors and nurses and friends who all stood with us in this time. As I have been getting well, I have been working on these things and also attending graduate school full time online in International Community Development. I am learning so much that I can apply to our work in Haiti. Ryan has been buzzing back and forth from the island, bringing in goods and hosting teams. He has so enjoyed his time with our growing team- who are growing in both size and number. In his (almost non-existent) spare time, he has been doing some remodeling work in the area. Needless to say, we are keeping busy- but also getting healthy.
In Haiti, things are going really well! We just celebrated 2 years of our fruitful children’s program! This program serves 130 kids and many families in the area. We had a team recently come down and help with our Konbit Goods training and expansion. Our Pastor’s Coalition and outreaches to the community are going well, too. We have lots of projects going on with Justice Water in various communities, as well! On the ground, we are experiencing transformational development, a term I have learned through my graduate education (Bryant Myers’ book Walking With the Poor is super recommended, by the way). We are seeing people restored to proper shalom: peace with themselves, their environment, God, one another, and more. This is a beautiful thing that I am having trouble putting into words. It’s there, though :).
Once again, thank you for partnering with us, for championing us, and the people of Haiti.