This truly was a Psalm 119: 66 trips!
American Missioner Attendees Wade McGuinn, Janet McGuinn, Lee Burton, Robin Ray, Jac (Oaky) Ulman, Janice Albergotti
Haitian Attendees , Pastor Pastor Badette Noelsaint, Jeremie (Speaker) Jean Yonel Telimon, Gebo and school Severe Jean Serge, Interpreter and Mission Leader for multiple organizations Dr. Gregury Alexandre, MD Specialist in of Church Circuit Health Board Pastor Pierre Claudel zephyr, Leon (Speaker) Wilbins Maginet, Interpreter and Mission Leader for multiple organizations Sharon Harbottle, an English Missionary for education living in Haiti Renate Schneider Dr. Catherine Wolf Edwin Belfort Belfort children’s Mother from Haiti Children Project.
Our verse for the trip was: Psalm 119:66 (NIV) 66 Teach me Knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands. Seems God answered our prayers! What a great trip with mission partners and friends to discover what God still has in store for us to do in Haiti!
January 7th We were travelling all day with overnight stay at the Methodist guest house in Port Au Prince. In the evening we met two of our rising star college students who are Haiti Children Project, Next Generation University Students. They discussed success and difficulties on daily life coming from a small village in rural Haiti to live in a big city and compete with the best for the very few University opportunities in the county. One student has decided to go to seminary, and another student did a testimony on being called an engineer for the first time in a work setting and how life changing that is! From poor village to an engineer…God is good.
January 8th Flew from Port Au Prince to Jeremie on MAF with the team landing on a dirt strip in Jeremie Haiti,
Then spent the mid-day visiting the area. Visiting local sites near the guest house including, The Good Samaritan Assisted Living, Dr. Marx, Gebo Clinic.
Late afternoon we had a session with Pastor Badette Noelsaint, Jeremie, Pastor Pierre Claudel Zephyr, Leon. We talked about people not projects. Salvation messages, investment not experiment with ministry, and about our possible continued limited involvement with the EMH (Haitian Methodist Church) in the Jeremie and Leon Circuit. We discussed what they see as the most urgent and the long term needs of their respective areas. Last year Mt. Horeb and Haiti Children Project completed the Leon and Mahot Church roofing projects for the church while doing mobile medical clinics in both churches after we got the roof on. All this work and teams were part of our Hurricane Matthew relief effort.
They now request help with youth church camps, basic computer training (with certificates!), and Lay Pastor Training. VBS is important, but it must be in connection with the EMH and be relevant including crafts made from local materials along with bible references that teach. They said VBS Noah and the Ark are worn out! Schools are the church’s lighthouse in Haiti! EMH Schools need help with fundraising on the hot meal program. Big “Arbor Day” through Trees That Feed discussion as reforestation was an issue even before the hurricane, and how it can involve kids. We need to see if we can help get a roof on the church in Fond-Rouge Torbeck in the Jérémie Circuit.
January 9th Sharon Harbottle: We discussed the Christian Education needs through DEC (Department of Christian Education) in the Grande Anse. This included children’s ministry needs and cultural relativity. Mt Horeb and Haiti Children Project (HCP) worked together to help using the gifts they have for children ministries to insure a long term success. Next is defining success. For HCP and Mt. Horeb UMC success in Haiti is bringing Christ to kids, creating long term new Christian leadership in Haiti both in and outside of the church. In other words, raising a new generation of believers committed to bringing Christian values and social justice through Christ to their community and beyond. Sharon Harbottle reminded us that kids programs should include parents. Parents are hungry for God’s word. Hot meal programs with camps or VBS is important.
Sharon agrees with pastors that we should use Haitian curriculum and that teaching in Christian education should be not only relevant, but challenging and new. (Not Noah’s Ark again). There are only 15 full time pastors in EMH, and over 600 lay pastors. They need help with events and their own edification. Team will need translators, hot meals, and DEC (Harbottle/ Department of Christians Education)) approval for content value.
We had strategy a planning session in the afternoon for Mobile Medical needs and partnerships Jean Yonel Telimon, Gebo and school Dr. Alexander, MD Specialist in Public Health John Harbottle, British GBM missionary living in Haiti. Challenged by lots of information about programs that “are coming” or are “in the works”.
Some of the discussion seems to be “in the future” while past due salaries and lack of accountably to foreign partners is creating a lot of friction. The x-ray equipment was not it because Orange Park was not notified of generator final repairs. Frankly we feel our best efforts for health care will be in the area of mobile medical clinics where we can participate and see that our funding is properly used. There was discussion that “free” healthcare both mobile and fixed clinics caused patients to “use” the clinics and medication were being sold in the market and patient follow up was poor. When patients are asked to pay…even a few gourdes they comply much better. Clinic and mobile medical closing need a better continuum of care with patient records being given back to the patient and not kept static local clinics. Clean water is a major heath issue. After filtration using clear water bottle and natural UV known as SODIS should be promoted. We think Sawyer filter are safer, and easier to use. Currently we do not work in the area of water filtration. However along with reforestation it is simple, inexpensive, can and should involve kids, therefore should be considered. Ventilated latrines fall into the same category of being highly effect, inexpensive and help kids. Currently team that could teach CPR with a certificate program would be widely accepted.
January 10th Guest Speaker Renate Schneider, MA Psych, MA Pastoral Studies, REEGT, RPSG T , President Haitian Connection, Director Divergent Thinking Institute Director Program Sante Mantal Jeremie, Liaison Jeremie Breadfruit Flour In-country coordinator, Partners in Parenting Haiti www.HaitianConnection.org. On her tenure in the Grande Anse. Overview of challenges, changes she has seen, and the future needs and best practices of new missioners. She taught us that there are levels of poverty…. Some people for instance have a table and a chair, some don’t. Before I never differentiated. They are helping women with new homes that cost only $2,000 each and are constructed more like homes in village communities, but have good floors and roofs. Many of these homes will include bio-sand water filter and a vented latrine for healthier living. Trees that Feed are the best Arbor Day project. It literally means planning Trees That Feed people. Like breadfruit.
Renate worked with Haiti Children Project kids on peer to peer mental health issues. It works and is helpful. She also discussed the need for more breadfruit flower production. It’s healthier, gluten free, and plentiful. But more important it creates jobs from the farm to the table. Renate has started a Foster Care program that essentially works just like our Caregiver stipend and school program for younger kids at HCPO are in. It was refreshing to see us both on the same course, eliminating many of the complications that an orphanage creates. Renate also spoke passionately about the need for woman literacy and micro credit programs. My biggest take away about Renate and her years of experience is that “think small and get started” work in Haiti. Seem it may work best. She is one of the most joy filled happy people I have encountered and she shared success and failure with the same passion.
Edwin Belfort has been a mother to all the kids for many years. Her love and compassion for them is on her face and in her action. We have her bring the kids from the communities to the guest house so we don’t go into their communities as outsiders and upset the delicate balance that exists between neighbors who could become jealous for the help these families and kids are receiving. The kids are all healthy and happy. Grades are always a challenge but all but two of the kids are near the top of their class. The challenge of 50 percent inflation makes a hard life even harder. We will be making stipends larger to keep the family to a level that they were previously at.
Edwin love the kids and brought us two new candidates for the HCP stipend and school program. We agreed so we are adding new kids to the family often. Non restricted donations allow us to help kids without a direct sponsorship. We feel this allows us the freedom to help as many kids as often as we can.
On the 10th and 11th Lee accompanied Jean Guerby his Haitian equivalent and Haiti EMH Goat program director to a Goat Program Field Review January 9 and 10. This program has been implemented for several years and has had good results. Lee Barton our resident “Goat Man” graduated from Clemson University with a degree in Animal Science and is currently in SC working in animal health sales. Lee loves seeing new projects and programs like this being used to help others.
The program ran out of funds before coming sustainable. It involves assisting families in need by increasing their capacity to carry out this breeding activity and by providing them with a possibility of income generation. Each person who receives a goat has the responsibility to transmit 2 female goats to 2 other people who are called second-order beneficiaries. The second-order beneficiaries will do the same and so on. They sign an agreement for the breeding of goats and for the transmission of donations (in our jargon, we call this process “Passing-on-the-Gift”); a contract is signed on the “passing on the gift” by each beneficiary. One of these people from each group is designated as a “male goat guardian”. This guardian signs a contract to take care of the goat and put it at the service of the community. We received testimonies of gratitude in the distribution of goats in several localities. According to one of the beneficiaries, the introduction of the improved goat in his community will not only allow his goat to be more profitable, since his descendants will have more market value, but also livestock represents a source of income since they will be able to count on the sale of one or more goats in the future to finance his activities or of emergency needs. 320 people in 16 groups received 320 goats and 16 improved goats in areas affected by hurricane Matthew.
On January 11th, we went to Dr. Katie Wolf’s clinic, which is about an hour’s drive up in the mountains above Gebeau – between Latiboliere and Previle. We toured the clinic and then one of the communities where they have a water and sanitation program and have built latrines. It is very enlightening for visitors to get out into the local communities to get a feel for how rural people live. We met and prayed with some patients and were able to share health kits and pillow case dresses prepared by our UMC partners in the US! The vented latrine program cuts health care down by sanitation and is a community based project. Haitian Health Promoters do training in communities without pay.
Upon our return that day we visited the last of our Hurricane Mathew relief effort. Our longtime friend and interpreter Pastor and Police Chaplin Wilbins Maginet’s own mother and father along with 12 family members lost their entire home and are living in a tin shack. We were able to help them build a new concrete home with a truss roof, now under construction. Thanks to donors like many of you, this family has hope and a future that include being out of the weather and off of contaminated dirt floors.
January 12th. All day travel from Jeremie MAF, then Delta all the way home. Thank you for taking your time and resources to make a difference in the lives of the people of Haiti. You will be blessed, they will be blessed, and God will be glorified by your service and sacrifice.
Success outweighs all failure in Haiti. Progress no matter the size is progress. If God calls, He will move. It has been our experience that mission that involves building, stock and inventory, employees, facilities typically do not last. Investing in people and in communities always has positive results, as we have seen with Dr. Marx, Wilbins, Edwin, and many of the HCP students such as Maillard, Deuce, Evonne, Benson, and Davit! And the NG HCP program as well as Stipend and School Fee programs.