The trip was amazing. Miss Kathy and Miss Alice fixed lunch for us after we arrived. We unpacked our 900 pounds of stuff and began to
get to know the children. They were just like orphans everywhere, and welcomed us with open arms. The Lord sent us at just the right
time to help in the school, which we did from 8 a.m. until about 12:45 p.m. In 2-5th grade, Miss Alice has over 30 children. We helped
with every subject. Then we ran a VBS each afternoon and played with the children and had Bible studies in the evening. We ate each evening
meal with Miss Kathy and Miss Alice. They were wonderful. We would take our food down and cook it. Pastor Cebien came in on Friday,
and we went to two churches with him - country in a.m. and city in p.m. Richard preached both times. We hated to leave. We did not
have cell phone service and electricity was off most days, but it usually came on from 10 p.m. to midnight making sleeping
easier. We really had no contact. It is great to be home. We are praising God for his blessings.
Our last day of VBS was wonderful, with Matt giving a clear Gospel presentation in the teen Bible lesson and finishing out the morning
with everyone's favorite games from the week! Miss Kathy and Miss Alice have told us how much they and the teens have appreciated Mr.
Draper's chapel messages and Matt's Bible lessons in VBS. We know that only the Lord has empowered us and used our feeble efforts to
bring about the work He had for us.
Gabby mentioned this evening how much of a conviction the Philippians study has been to her personally, and Bekah told us more about
the opportunity she and Courtney and Jaclyn had to spend time with Pastor Cebien earlier this week in his clinic and university.
Pastor Cebien's Christlike example has challenged us all. His faithful, untiring work and humility has convicted us. Miss Kathy and
Miss Alice's years of service and love for the Haitian people has also challenged us. What a privilege we have had to spend time with
and get to know these wonderful servants of the Lord! As we've said before, while we came to serve, we have also been served and
ministered to on this trip. We are so thankful for the good health of the team while we've ministered, safety as we've travelled,
the wonderful leadership of the Drapers (Mama and Papa), and the amazing opportunity God gave to each of us to come to Haiti to
share His love with the dear people here and to leave a piece of our hearts in this land.
As we near the end of our time here, many of the team members are having opportunities for great conversations with the kids,
through either one-on-one time with them or with the Philippians study. We realize over and over that we are being blessed more than
we are blessing them!
School finished today at the E.B.A.C. Christian Academy, so we have tutored a lot the past several days to help these kids finish
their work for the school year. Little did we know that God sent us here at exactly this time to help in the school so that they
would be able to finish the year's work! Several of us have felt very inadequate to tutor, especially in the high school, but God
has given us grace to help these kids! I personally did not expect to have the opportunity to work in the school and I had
forgotten how much I love to work with kids tutoring and teaching, so it was a totally unexpected blessing to get to teach an
elementary student helping verbs and to help a high school student with prepositions and conjunctive adverbs! (Yes, I'm a grammar nerd!)
A few of us were also able to help Miss Kathy and Alice update all their school records electronically, and Mr. Draper and the boys on
our team did several work projects like replacing screen windows and building an extra desk for the elementary school room. God had a
plan for placing us here at this time and with these people, which was a reminder to me that He is in control of every single detail,
no matter how small we think it is!
Today the entire team felt a different and special burden for the kids here. While we have focused on building
with these kids to mentor and disciple them, we realize that many of them have very difficult backgrounds-much more heartbreaking
than we could imagine. Some of the children are not orphans, but have been brought here because their parents didn't want them
anymore. One little girl that I connected with was left here four years ago because her mother is saved but her father is not and
is abusive to her mother, so her mother left her and her three other children with Miss Kathy and Miss Alice. Today was more
sobering for the team and we held a special prayer time tonight for them.
God is still opening up new opportunities to talk with these kids and disciple them through studying Philippians with them. While
Philippians focuses on joy, it is specifically about joy through hardships. I think everyone that worked on this study with the
kids realized a little more about what all they have experienced that we have not. One question in the Bible study is "If there
were one thing you could change about your life right now, what would it be?" We as selfish Americans would answer things like
better grades in school, or different relationships back home, but the people here in this 4th world country answer with things
like wanting a better prayer life, like one of them told Kyrene earlier in the week. This is another example of some of these
poverty-stricken people who are content with their earthly possessions and have eternity in view!
Today held tremendous blessings for us as we went to a little church up in the mountains this morning with Pastor Cebien, and
then to a larger church in the city for the evening service. Mr. Draper preached and the team sang special music in both churches.
The faithfulness of these believers was a huge blessing to the team! We took the bus from the orphanage up into the mountains this
morning and we were able to see much more of Haiti than we had so far, including a breathtaking view of the ocean from one point on
the road up. Several of the orphans came to the evening service with us and we all sang on the bus the whole way there and back.
Several team members commented in our team meeting tonight about that being one of the biggest blessings of the day.
Courtney also told us about just watching the people on the streets as we travelled today and realizing the spiritual darkness of
this land. It made her feel "desperate" for them, as I think it did for all of us!
Kat noticed some of the girls from the orphanage crying in the service tonight while the team sang, and while we realize that we
have ministered to them through our feeble efforts, they have actually ministered to us and blessed us far more than we imagined.
One of the children asked Lucas today why he smiles all the time, and he was able to tell them that it's because he has the joy
of the Lord and wants to spread that! I think we've all been blessed by hearing the stories of many of these children, not all
orphans, and seeing the joy that they still have, despite all the trials they have been through in their young lives.
Today was a full day of activities with all the kids. God blessed the efforts of the team today through all the different games
we played with them this morning, and then the huge water fight that broke out this afternoon! Even Dr. Draper got a bucket of
water thrown on her! Jed mentioned tonight that just seeing the joy on the faces of the kids during games was a blessing.
Jaclyn's water bottle had fallen in the dirt today and a little girl picked it to wipe it off with her dress. The selflessness
of these kids is both an encouragement and a rebuke to us.
The new president of Haiti was inaugurated this morning so we started later so that they could watch the inauguration on TV.
Cassie and Lucas both commented tonight that the kids here are so concerned about their new leader and about praying for him.
It's been awesome to see them so young but so concerned for their country.
Sam had a chance to go through some of the Philippians study with a girl tonight who had been very unresponsive the past few
days, but she opened up to Sam a little more tonight and they were able to talk more than before. Jessica also mentioned the
encouragement it's been to be able to spend time with Miss Kathy and Miss Alice in the evenings after dinner. These ladies
have so many stories to tell and lessons to share with us. During our ten days here, I think we only began to tap into their
30+ years of missionary experience and wisdom! We came hoping to minster to them, but they have ministered greatly to us!
Mr. Draper speaks in the teen chapels every morning. The teens are really blessed by his presentation of God's Word. He incorporates
the gospel into every message. During the activity time in VBS, Jed was having a hard time explaining the games with the children.
One of the older orphans, Guilin,
translated and the kids came to order immediately. Jed was really blessed to have Guilin with him. Cassie, originally from Haiti, said
that she was able to connect with the older girls. She said it was a blessing to hear how the Lord is working in their lives. She
normally stays with the younger children because she has become one of our main translators, which has helped the team tremendously. But
she enjoyed talking with the older girls and getting to know them better as well.
Stephanie said that she was not feeling that well today and was planning to rest in the evening, but on the way back some of the team was
going over the Philippians study with the children and she came back out to help out and take a small group. She was working with
Jean-Pierre and Reginald. She said that it was a different opportunity because she did not have much interaction with the older guys, but
she was able to answer difficult questions they had about the study. And the Lord gave her the strength to get through the study and
the wisdom for the words to say.
We are all getting ready for a much anticipated field day for the children. We are hoping that we can teach them a few American field
day games and have some water games in the late afternoon.
The day started with chapel and then off to school. Since the school year is ending soon the children are busily trying to finish
their paces and we all jump right in to school and start tutoring those who need help. There are a few that are helping Mr. Draper
with work projects around the compound. VBS was a success. The drama committee did puppets for the elementary age group. They
started going through the fruit of the Spirit-Joy, Peace, and Patience. Cassie translated for the little ones. The older orphans
enjoyed the illustration skit that I put on. The theme verse was Proverbs 3:5-6. We had a mixture of lots of random ingredients and
had one of the older boys taste it. We were all shocked that he ate it. Then Lucas had to try some as well. Lucas, however, did not
handle the mixture as well as Frantz did though. The application from the illustration was that we cannot just offer God anything and
we must give Him the best of us-offer our lives as a living sacrifice to Him Rom 12:1-2. We did have "manna-cakes" prepared after the
illustration to show that with the right ingredients God can use us.
After dinner, we had a lot of orphans come with us and we started the Philippians Bible study. As a team we went through the study before the
trip. Before we left we made a condensed version for the orphans to go through. Kat said that when we first started we were all doing it
together with about 50-55 kids, but after the first lesson we split off into groups and were able to give more one on one time and answer
specific questions the kids had. It was a blessing to all of us to be able to go through the study with them. Kyrene said that when she
got to a question about "what would you change about your life" the kid that she was working with said they wanted a better prayer life.
That was a conviction to her.
Today was our first full day at the orphanage and EBAC Christian Academy. We were blessed by the singspiration chapel the kids did.
They all sing with such fervor in praise to the Lord. Songs were song in English and in Creolo (Haiti's native language). Missionaries
Kathy Gouker and Alice Wise run the school and orphanage. During the chapel Miss Alice leads the music while Miss Kathy plays the piano.
We also enjoyed learning new songs.
After chapel, we all headed to school to tutor the kids. They use the ACE homeschooling Pace program. Miss Alice is the second - fifth
grade teacher and Miss Kathy is the sixth - twelfth grade teacher. There are also two native Haitian women who have gone through EBAC
Christian Academy who teach kindergarten and first grade. Joanna said that teaching in school was a "humbling experience." She shared
with the group, during our team meeting, that she was not strong in grammar and was asked to help a child - Guilin with his English.
She said that his patience in learning English was a conviction to her as she helped him. Courtney tutored a girl in chemistry and that
she did not know how she was going to do it, but prayed about it and God used her to be able to tutor effectively.
In the afternoon, we had our first day of VBS. The orphans were split into juniors and teen groups. Matt was the speaker. He said that
it was a difficult teaching experience because he had never done anything like that before, but afterward the teens came up to him and
said they really appreciated his message. Sam who worked with crafts during VBS said that she felt inadequate and unprepared today and
was discouraged and prayed that God would give her the strength she needed and He did. The crafts were amazing. VBS also included
competitive activities, drama-skits, and music segments.
We have arrived safely at the orphanage and all is well. Telephone communications are not dependable and the occasional message may
be able to be sent out.
Pray for this trip--the orphans love us so readily and we can sense already that God is going to open up amazing opportunities to minister!
Today was our first day in Cap-Haitien, Haiti at the EBAC Orphanage. We were all so thankful for the Lord's protection in our travels today.
We made it to the orphanage around 1 p.m. and unpacked our very loaded bus! The children swarmed the court yard to welcome us. As soon as we
had free hands, they were quickly filled with children. You could look out and see each college student with a child holding each hand and
many more gathered around, eagerly pulling us from building to building showing us their home and school. Matt said "it was an answer to
prayer," because he expected to have a hard time communicating, but the children immediately opened up to him and he was able to communicate
freely with them. Jessica said she "was a little nervous about connecting with the young boys and relating to them" but was excited
that she not only realized she could connect with the young boys, but she also learned that she could play Frisbee really well. We had our
first team meeting last night. Team members shared many testimonies of answered prayer. Mr. Draper presented a challenge from Acts 1:8
"and ye shall be witnesses." The challenge was a great reminder of our purpose in Haiti and a great way to start our first full day with
the kids and the start of many opportunities to share the gospel. Tomorrow the children will have a singspiration chapel and we will
start VBS after school. We are excited to see how the Lord continues to work in and through our lives on this trip.
The Haiti team has worked hard this semester to prepare to minister in an orphanage in the northern part of Haiti. The group is divided
into teams to prepare for the work: English corner team, music team, drama team, craft team, games team, field day team, and VBS team.
Each day, our group will be assisting in the school, teaching in the chapel time, assisting in the clinic in the compound and helping
with work projects, as well as helping with preparing our food. Once school is over, we will begin VBS. We have vacation Bible school
divided into four parts: music, drama, Bible lesson, and crafts. In the evenings, we will be helping the students with homework, playing
board games with them, studying the Book of Philippians, or teaching English conversationally. On Saturday, we have a full field day
planned with teams and prizes. We are not sure what Sunday will hold for us, but we are willing to do whatever God supplies for us to do.
Pray for each team member as we leave today for Ft. Pierce to fly out early Tuesday morning to Haiti. We request prayer for safety,
health, and open doors for ministry in the hearts of the orphans and the children in the surrounding area who will come in for VBS.