Author Archives: wendy

About wendy

A stay-at-home wife & homeschooling mom, God has given our family an unexpected passion for the children in a little village in Haiti.

Because He Cares

Cast your burdens on the Lord and He will sustain you. Psalm 55:22

The principal of the school, Pastor Samuel, has done so much to improve the school in Carrefour Poy.  Since he’s been in this position, he has implemented improved record keeping practices and added three grade levels plus several vocational and extracurricular options for the students to participate in. Every time I talk with him, I’m impressed by his heart for these kids and his desire to offer them a well rounded education.

Pastor Samuel has a passion for education.

Of course, all of these wonderful additions add to the needs of the school.  In all honesty, there were several moments during this trip when I felt overwhelmed by the burden of the incredible amount of need & feeling like I have to figure out how to provide for these things:

The sewing class is in need of sewing machines. 

The computer class needs 30 laptops in order to eliminate the ongoing expense of renting computers. 

The computer class uses rented computers powered by a generator.

The music class currently consists of music theory and learning to play the recorder; but Pastor Samuel eventually wants to have a full band so they are in need of  band instruments. 

The music teacher plays a clapping game with the students to teach rhythm.

Honey bees got into the jewelry supplies.  They were eventually able to get rid of the bees by burning everything, so now all those supplies need to be replaced.

The addition of the upper grade levels has meant many more teachers, since each teacher typically only teaches one subject at that level.  That means that the school’s payroll has increased to the point that it exceeds the amount we are currently able to send each month. Combine that reality with the fact of out of control inflation in Haiti, and we have some underpaid and somewhat disgruntled teachers.  

On average, the teachers are paid about $50 a month.

It felt like I was confronted with a new need each day of our visit, progressively adding to my  feeling of stress and overwhelm. Even typing all that out, my heart begins to feel that burden. 

Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:7 that we can give all of our worries to God because He cares about us. Jesus told us that we can rest in Him because His burden is light.  Clearly, I struggle to take a hold of these promises!

Thankfully,  my husband continually pointed me back to God throughout the week, reminding me that this ministry originated from Him and that He will provide for the school’s needs as He sees fit. During one conversation with someone who asked me to meet another need, Jeremy said, “Instead of asking Wendy for this, you need to ask God!”  

Truly it is God alone who has the ability to meet all these needs.  He cares. Even more than me or Pastor Samuel or anyone… God cares about this school, the teachers, and these children. We get to partner with Him to do His work here on earth, but He is the One who provides what is needed, when it is needed.  What a relief it is to rest in that truth!

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Categories: Child sponsorship, Children, Education, Haiti, Missions, Teachers | Leave a comment

Haiti: January 2021

After months of canceled plans and stay at home orders, I’m still processing the fact that my husband and I spent a week in Haiti! I had been trying to plan a trip for over a year and the timing just wasn’t working out. When Pastor Gilbert unexpectedly visited our church on a Sunday in October, the plans just came together as we talked after church.  We bought tickets on faith, but in the back of my mind, I knew that the trip was likely to be canceled. We were sitting on the plane between Miami and Port-au-Prince when it finally hit me that the trip wasn’t going to be canceled!  We were really doing this!!

This was my fourth time in Haiti and the first time without at least one of my children.  My husband had been to Haiti 5 times previously, but it was our first time to get to go together!  That was just one of many blessings about this trip. Although it was in many ways a difficult trip and there were several moments of discouragement, God was abundantly gracious to us… He was our strength in exhaustion and weakness, our peace in confusing and unfamiliar circumstances, and our joy in discouragement and overwhelm.

It was wonderful to see the school again and realize how much it has changed since the first time I visited 8 years ago! Over the years, the Bridge program has enabled them to add 7th, 8th, and 9th grade classes. More recently, they’ve been able to add plaster and paint to the entrance and courtyard, as well as adding a sewing class, computer class, music class, and the art clubs which make paper bead jewelry and macramé!

As always, the main goal was to meet with each of the sponsored students to get updates and current photos and to give them notes from their sponsor, if one was sent.  We also got to observe the extracurricular educational classes and I got to participate in several of the classrooms. It was our privilege to get to bring bonuses to the school staff, thanks to some generous extra donations. Plus, my husband got to lead morning devotions on three of the days. 

One thing I was really looking forward to was working in the classrooms to do a craft with the younger children and a writing activity with the upper grades. My reason for wanting to do this was to obtain something from each sponsored child that we could use as a gift for their sponsor. And why not do it with all the kids so everyone could join in the fun? While it didn’t work out quite like I had pictured, it was mostly successful and a lot of fun! I’m excited to give our sponsors their students craft or letter, although unfortunately I don’t have one for everyone since some of our sponsored students were absent when we were in their class.

Overall I feel incredibly full and blessed at the memories of the week we spent in Haiti! Both my husband and I felt God’s presence with us carrying us through every moment of our trip.  We got to see and experience the fruit of the last 9 years of ministry and prayer, and enjoy the smiles and laughter of so many children whose education we are honored to help support. We planted seeds of the gospel and witnessed several people accept Christ as their Savior. We were blessed to get to work with and be encouraged by some amazing people whose purpose in life is to glorify God and do what they can to help their country. We even got to spend a wonderful day of rest at the beach!

We look forward to sharing more details about a few specific aspects of the trip over the next few weeks.  Until then, “Orevwa!”

Categories: Child sponsorship, Children, Education, Haiti, Missions, Salvation | 8 Comments

Beautiful Haiti

Because we are a ministry which aims to alleviate some of the needs of children in Haiti, it is easy to focus on the negative aspects that are part of a third world country… the poverty, hunger, government corruption, and lack of infrastructure.

Although these are very real issues, there are many beautiful things to be found in Haiti. Lush banana and mango orchards growing in spite of the infamously depleted soil. Sandy beaches and blue-green waters.  Brightly painted tap-taps. The voices of Haitian woman praising their Savior. The laughter of children full of hope for the future. The dignity and perseverence of people who have been through so much and continue to smile and work toward a better future.

Here are just a few pictures so you can get a glimpse of some of the beauty I have seen in Haiti.

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The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the suffering and afflicted. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted, to announce liberty to captives, and to open the eyes of the blind. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of God’s favor to them has come, and the day of his wrath to their enemies. To all who mourn he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.

~the Prophet Isaiah (61:1-3)

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Ninth Grade

This is just a quick little post to share with you that over the summer 2 more classrooms were added to the school in Carrefour Poy, thereby creating room for ninth grade students to meet!

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View of the new classrooms

One of the most heart-rending conversations we had during our trip in April was when the eighth grade students were expressing concern about what they were going to do after they finished the school year… how were they going to continue their education?  Despite the language barrier, we could see the desperation in their faces.

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Hallway to ninth grade

So it was a definite answer to prayer to have these classrooms completed before the school year began in September.

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Happy 9th grade students

Thank you so much to everyone who supported this project with your prayers and your finances, helping make Samuel’s vision a reality!

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Samuel’s Vision

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Principal Samuel

As I mentioned a couple blog posts ago, I got to meet the new school principal, Samuel, when I visited the school in April & was very impressed by him! I was especially excited to hear about all the plans and dreams he has for improving the school and therefore the children’s education.

Samuel presided over the building of the upstairs classrooms the summer before last so there would be space for the seventh grade class, which he added for the 2015-2016 school year.  He was then able to add eighth grade at the beginning of this past school year, and plans to add 9th grade next year!  This is great news and means that your sponsored child will now be able to receive a higher level of education than the majority of Haitians, who complete an average of only 5 years of school.  In order to accomodate the extra students and classes, Samuel hopes to build 3 more classrooms before the beginning of the next school year.

Samuel is also lining the little room next to the nurse’s station with bookshelves to house a school library.

Quite a few English childrens’ books were donated to the school recently, and they hope to obtain a variety of books in Creole and French to add to the library when they can.  Caleb used some of the money he earned for the school to begin their collection of Haitian Creole and French books.

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My Mom held an impromptu class showing the teachers how to use the English books for reading readiness activities.

Besides that, Samuel hopes to add a computer class for the upper grade levels, which of course would require having several laptop computers that the kids could use. He also hopes to add a science lab in the near future. Both of these additions will afford the children who are privileged to attend the school in Carrefour Poy a more well rounded education and better prepare them for the possibility of reaching their life goals!

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Math lessons

I just love Samuel’s passion for education and his heart to give these kids a great education in spite of the disadvantages of living in a third world country.  If you would like to help make Samuel’s vision for the school a reality, please let me know.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.   Galatians 6:9

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Gifts for Haiti

The following is a personal narrative my son, Caleb, wrote for school after our trip to Haiti.

Recently, I went to Haiti with my mom and grandma to visit a school in the village of Carrefour Poy. As we were planning for the trip, I thought it would be nice to bring gifts for the children at the school to enjoy. I worked hard doing various jobs and raised $700! Some of the jobs I did were shoveling gravel, pulling weeds, digging holes, hauling brush, leaf blowing, and painting a horse arena.

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Soon, we were on our way to Haiti. I brought a variety of gifts for the kids such as coloring books, jump ropes, a foam ball for playing dodgeball, soccer balls and a pump, which were donated by a ministry in Stockton, and soccer goals. I also brought some dolls and doll furniture for the girls and plans to build a dollhouse, since it would be too hard to bring one on a plane.

When we first got to the village I gave the kids their jump ropes and the soccer equipment. I could tell they were very excited by the looks on their faces! They immediately started helping me set things up to play soccer. Meanwhile, the girls were making a racket playing with the jump ropes. Before I knew it, the kids excitedly began playing soccer. It gave me joy to see all their happy and smiling faces.

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The next day we hired a Haitian man to build the dollhouse. This man lives near the village and is a skilled woodworker. It surprised me how easily he was able to build the dollhouse even though the instructions were in English.  I was amazed to see how fast he built it, especially since he did all of the work by hand; he didn’t even have any electric tools.

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The last day, we stopped at a local store on our way to the school to buy some books in French and Creole for the library the school principal plans to build.

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Outside the gate to the school, we were greeted by a crowd of children with bright and happy faces. When we went inside, we saw that the dollhouse was finished and looked like a professional contractor had built it. With excited children crowding all around us, I helped some other kids carefully set up the doll furniture. The girls were extremely happy with their new toy and enjoyed playing with it.  

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All that hard work raising money was definitely worth it. Seeing all those happy faces was like seeing the world lit up in bright gold. Despite the heat and even though I was exhausted by the end of the trip, I knew I was going to miss Haiti. It was an experience I will never forget. 

 

After paying for all the things listed in this post Caleb still had money left over, which he gave to the school for school meals and to help pay for the new classrooms Principal Samuel wants to build before the next school year.  Thank you to everyone who help Caleb with this project by hiring him to do jobs!

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April 2017 Trip Overview

What a great trip to Haiti!  I’ve had a couple weeks now to reflect on it and begin to sort through our pictures and all the information we gathered and I’m really pleased with what was accomplished.

 

It was such a joy to share this time with my mom and my youngest son Caleb.  Both of them were a huge help.

I would not have been able to get all the children interviewed without my mom’s help, plus she took some great pictures around the school.

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Mom & Wesley interveiwing Esther

She also became the primary person working with Ariol on the jewelry project which allowed me time to work on other tasks.  I’m really excited about everything they accomplished and the commitment and quality I saw from the kids.  You’ll be hearing more details in another post.

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Caleb & I on our way to check out the new upstairs classrooms!

Caleb was so helpful! On his own, he took responsibility for getting pictures of the sponsored children after their interviews and making sure they did their progress reports.  Not to mention all the money he earned before the trip to purchase toys and supplies for the school!

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All the kids were fascinated with Caleb’s hair!

It was wonderful to see all the school children, to meet with every sponsored child and to see how much they’ve grown since I last saw them almost 3 years ago.  It is so satisfying to know that you and I have had a hand in these children’s education, their knowledge of God, and even their improved health through the meals we have been able to help provide!

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The kitchen staff working hard in the heat to feed the children

There were also a few difficult things about meeting with the kids.  Hearing about the headaches and stomach aches many of them have before the school meal is served.  Trying to straighten out names… in several cases we learned that the last name we have for a child is incorrect.  This confusion is often because the child is living with step- or half-siblings, cousins, or even friends: a reality of poverty.  A few of our sponsored children have recently stopped coming to school.  When the school staff went to check on them, they learned that the family had moved away without telling anyone where they were going- probably to try to make a better living somewhere new.

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Talking to Wismerline while she works on her progress report

Several of the older kids expressed concern for their future.  While the younger children share dreams of becoming a pilot or doctor, the older children mostly tell us more practical goals for their future: “I want to learn to sew.” “I want a job loading containers.”  “I want to finish high school.”  Many eighth graders asked if there would be ninth grade next year. We learned of one child who is not able to learn or progress beyond where he is now academically and that there are no resources for him in the village.  All of these instances remind us of the harsh realities of poverty and why we do what we do.

I was able to finally meet the “new” school principal who took over shortly after my last trip to Haiti.

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Pastor Samuel, the school principal

Samuel, who is also a pastor at a nearby village church, is a quiet, warm gentleman who desires to impact the children’s futures through teaching them the gospel and improving their educational opportunities.  His care was evident throughout the week as I observed how much better organized the school is than it’s been in the past, the expansion of the school to eighth grade, and in the educational growth I saw in the children.  He has some great ideas for future improvements to the school, which I will share with you in a future post.

One of my favorite things from this trip was getting to give bonuses to the school staff! These men and women work so hard to educate and take care of these kid – and they do it all in hot, stuffy, concrete-block rooms with no air conditioning!

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Handing out bonuses

The teachers are getting paid between $50 and $80 per month, depending on what grade level they teach.  The support staff, including janitor, nurse, administrators and cooks receive anywhere from $7 per month to about $60.  The bonuses I was able to give were small – from $10 to $20- but so appreciated.

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This teacher spoke for everyone in expressing thanks for the bonuses and support

Thank you so much to everyone who donated money toward this trip allowing me to bless these hardworking men and women in this way.  They asked me to express to you their appreciation for the bonuses as well as your continued support of the school through sponsorships.

Another exciting thing that happened on this trip was an answered prayer!  In preparation for our visit, Gilbert hired a young man named Wesley to be one of our translators.  Wesley lives in Port-au-Prince and speaks English very well. He was a great interpreter and translator of written information.  As you may remember, Claudel, who used to be my Haitian contact for The Bridge, has moved to the States. Since he left, I have not had a regular contact besides Pastor Gilbert, who is busy with the many ministries he is involved with.  Well, we asked Wesley if he would be willing to be my “communication liaison” and he said yes!

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Wesley, our new “Communication Liaison”

He has agreed to visit Carrefour Poy about twice a month to check the attendance of the sponsored children and get other updates about the kids and the school.  I’m very excited to have this difficulty solved!

One thing I really I missed was the opportunity to interact with the school kids in a more relaxed way.  This trip was packed with many things needing to be accomplished.  Next time, I’ll have to plan a little extra time into the trip for that. But overall, this trip was a wonderful blessing in so many ways.

 

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Finally!

class timeDespite the fact that I haven’t updated this blog in almost a year and a half, The Bridge Sponsorship Program is still going strong! We continue to support the school in Carrefour Poy so children can learn about Christ & get an education.

And… I am thrilled that I finally get to go visit the school and all the children in a little less than 3 weeks!

Joining me on this trip will be my youngest son, Caleb, and my mom.  It will be wonderful to share this adventure with both of them!  My main goal for this trip is to get updated pictures and information about the children since it has been two and a half years since my last visit. But, we have some other exciting things planned as well.

100_2705Caleb has been not-so-patiently waiting for his turn to go to Haiti with me for about 4 years.  He is so excited to finally get his chance!  And with his generous heart, he has been working hard to earn money so he could do something special for the school children.  He wants to bring them a new basketball and pump as well as soccer balls and goals.

I rememebered that the girls at the school were a bit disappointed when we built the basketball court.  In their minds, that was for the boys and they wondered why we didn’t bring anything for them, such as dolls.  So when I mentioned this to Caleb, he decided to get several dolls and maybe a dollhouse for the school girls to play with.

A couple years ago, the older students at the school in Carreour Poy learned to make paper beads out of cardboard cereal boxes.  They add other decorative beads to make necklaces, bracelets and earrings.  This teaches them a skill they can use later in life and also allows them to invest a little effort toward their own education, as any proceeds from the jewelry project go back to the school.

I was talking to my mom about the project a few months ago and jokingly asked her if she wanted to come to Haiti with me since I know she enjoys making jewelry as a hobby.  She surprised me with an enthusiastic “Yes”!  I know that her organizational skills (which I did not inherit) and her photography skills will be a huge asset on this trip, and I’m just really looking forward to spending the time with her.  One of our goals for the trip is to watch and learn how the paper beads are made and then my mom will hold a design class to help grow their skills.

Of course, our highest priority is always to share the good news of our Savior with these children who have so little in this life.  With that in mind, some of our generous sponsors donated money toward Gospel comic books in Haitian Creole, which  we will be bringing to the younger students, and Bibles for the older students.  We pray that God uses these gifts to reach the hearts of these children and their families.

 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?  James 2:5

 

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Big Things in Carrefour Poy

There are few big things to report that have happened recently in Carrefour Poy.

This first one brings me so much joy!

Claudel emailed me recently to tell me that the mother of two of our sponsored children has accepted Christ as her Savior!  Here is the story as told to me by Claudel:

It is a obligation for all the children of The Bridge to come to Church every Sunday. But some of them refuse to come. I [will] go to talk to them and their families. It is the case for Michelet and Michelda. I explain how it is important and who is Jesus and Michelet, Michelda and their mom all began to come. A month ago she became Christian.

On our About Us page, I wrote

Our prayer is that God will provide the increase through these children to reach their families, friends, and neighbors with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is so exciting to hear about one way that prayer has been answered.  Thank you so much to our sponsors who have believed with me that God is working through this ministry.

Michelet, Michelda & their mom in front of their home, July 2014.

Michelet, Michelda & their mom in front of their home, July 2014.

The second big thing to report is another answered prayer:

When Claudel told me about the new regulations requiring that the school in Carrefour Poy open a seventh grade class, I was so overwhelmed by the thought of the extra money we would need for that to happen, that I couldn’t even think about the space needed to house the extra classes.  I prayed about it and felt that in light of everything I was dealing with, God was not calling me to try to raise funds to build the extra classrooms.  With some trepidation, I determined to trust that God would provide another way.

At one point Claudel emailed me to ask if I had been able to raise money to build more classroms & I wrote him back saying that I was not able to raise the money, but that I was looking forward to seeing how God would answer that prayer.

Construction began when the school received a small amount of money from the Haitian government, but when that money was gone, construction stopped.

Here is how the new classrooms looked when the money from the government ran out.

Here is how the new classrooms looked when the money from the government ran out.

In August, with the construction at a stand still and new school year approaching, Pastor Gilbert came to the states and spent a Sunday with us at Grace Fellowship.  After leaving Amador County he spent the next few days with a friend who is also one of our sponsors.  A few hours after Gilbert left here, I got a phone call from him telling me that this gentleman wanted to pay to finish the construction!  Praise God!

When Gilbert arrived back in Haiti, the construction began again, and there are now 3 new classrooms on the 2nd floor of the school!

New classrooms ready for the new seventh grade class.

Construction is complete on three new classrooms which were built to accomodate the seventh grade class.

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Ready for higher education with new upstairs classrooms!

The last thing to report is a big prayer request.

Over the last month there has been widespread, violent rioting in the city of Arcahaie as the citizens are protesting the government.

Claudel sent me this picture of the riots in Arcahaie.

Claudel sent me this picture of some of the rioting in Arcahaie.

Since Carrefour Poy is on the outskirts of Arcahaie, it has been too dangerous for the children to go to school so far this year.  Please join me in praying that this rebellion will come to a quick and peaceful resolution and that the leaders of our school will use wisdom as they balance the safety of the children with the importance of their education.

Oh Lord, God of our Fathers, are You not God in the Heavens? Are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in your hand…

2 Chronicles 20:6

Categories: Children, Education, Haiti, Missions, Salvation, Sponsors | 1 Comment

Enough

I am very hesitant to post something so personal as this blog is supposed to be about Haiti and the work that God is accomplishing in Carrefour Poy.  My purpose is to point to God, and His all sufficient grace, not to talk about me.

A year ago today, I woke up in my own bed for the first time after 10 days in Haiti. As I reflect on the past year on a personal level, it has been one of tiredness and sickness, but more importantly, one of being reminded that God is enough.

Six months ago, as the calender was turned to 2015, I was dealing with pain, exhaustion & other unusual & ongoing symptoms. Through the various doctor visits, tests & procedures I kept hearing a word whispered to my soul:

“Enough”

During those hectic, stressful months, I wanted to shout “Enough!!!“, but the word whispered to me was soft and gentle, reassuring and comforting:

“Enough. I AM enough.”

I heard the word when I was told it was probably cancer and then later when I was told there was only a small chance it was cancer. I heard it through the very busy weeks before the Mission’s Conference when we didn’t know if Claudel’s visa would be approved and then when it was approved, as I scrambled to get my house ready for company and to prepare for the conference. During the conference weekend, I not only heard it, but felt it, like a presence when God showed up big time in every detail of that blessed weekend, big and small. And I heard it when I went into surgery a week after Claudel returned to Haiti. I even heard it during the long, anxiety-ridden month after surgery that it took to get the final biopsy report on whether or not it actually was cancer.

“Enough.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

Although the nodule on my thyroid was cancerous, I am praising God that it had not spread beyond the nodule and it was completely removed during my surgery. I will not need further treatment for the foreseeable future.

When I sat down this morning to write this post, this is not at all what I had intended on writing about. I’m not even sure why I am continuing to type not knowing if I will post this. We all have trials. We have stress. It is part of the human experience. I look around me at the troubles of this world and get overwhelmed. Whether it is financial difficulties, health difficulties or the heartbreak of a family member walking a rebellious path. Then there are the world-wide problems: poverty, starvation, sex trafficking, ISIS. How can we NOT be overwhelmed?

So what does this have to do with Haiti and this blog?

For one thing, I have felt completely insufficient to run this ministry over the last year.  And yet, God has provided. Through people who have prayed for me and encouraged me.  Through the many cards & notes I received.  Through my friend Ashley who has been doing some of the regular monthly & quarterly tasks.  Through quite a few new sponsors who have joined us.  And even through other ministries who have provided for some of the needs in Carrefour Poy.

God has shown Himself to be faithful.  I have been reminded of His sovereignty and goodness time and again over this past year.

As we approach the new school year in Haiti, plans are being made to comply with the rule requiring schools to offer seventh grade.

They have begun building classrooms above the existing classrooms to accomodate more classes and students.

They have begun building classrooms above the existing classrooms to accommodate more classes and students. We are praying that God will provide the resources to finish construction before the new year begins.

I have a tendency to carry this sort of burden as if it is my job to provide everything necessary to accomplish this.  But again, I hear my Savior whisper,

“Enough. I am enough.”

By my own effort, I am not enough.  I don’t have the time, energy or finances to accomplish much of anything on my own.  So I am praying and trusting God for His provision for the school in Carrefour Poy as I have seen Him provide for me over this past year.

His grace IS enough.

 

Categories: Child sponsorship, Education, Haiti, Missions | 4 Comments

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