Investing in Our Teachers

From the beginning of the Bridge Sponsorship Program, God has been faithful in showing me each next step I should take in the development of this ministry. As I continue to pray for God’s guidance, He has recently opened the door to invest in our teachers in a greater way.

About 6 months ago, I came across a news report about a Haitian organization that won a world-wide award: the 2022 UNESCO-Hamden prize for Excellence in Teacher Development. We decided to reach out for more information and within a couple of months, Claudel & I were scheduled for a zoom meeting with the Education Director of P4H Global.

As we discussed whether to pursue this opportunity, I learned that there is no national certification program to become a teacher in Haiti. In fact, it’s not uncommon for teachers to have no more than a primary school education. Without training, often teachers will simply read a lesson out of the government-mandated curriculum and hope that the students understand enough to do the assignment.

P4H’s School Quality Assurance program equips Haitian educators with research-based, student-centered strategies that give them the tools they need to teach well and to transform the culture or their classrooms. The full program is three years long and includes yearly training seminars, follow up evaluations, online support, and ongoing coaching.

With that in mind, I’m excited to report that just last week three of P4H’s Education Specialists traveled to Carrefour Poy to hold the first training seminar for our teachers! Over three days our school staff learned about educational theories, a variety of learning models, classroom organization and management, collaborative learning strategies, lesson planning, and more.

Our teachers learning and practicing new strategies with P4H’s Education Specialists

All this information was presented in a fun and culturally relevant way that has ignited their excitement for teaching. I’m told it was a fun week of learning and practice. The teachers are already implementing the new methods and strategies they learned!

Teachers play a vital role in this ministry. After all, without them there would be no school! This investment is a way to show our teachers honor and to dignify the work they do. It will help them become more effective at their jobs, more confident in their abilities, and better equipped to address the needs of their students.

I thank the organizers of this wonderful seminar. This training represents a great thing for me as a teacher- it opens my eyes to many wonderful things I did not understand. I commit to using these new methods to share my experience with my class so they also benefit from them.

~Alcine Cadet Chériel, 3rd grade teacher

Our stated mission is “to help provide meals, education, and most importantly the Gospel of Christ to the children of Carrefour Poy, Haiti”. By investing in our teachers, we are better able to meet those goals and our students will be given the tools they need to rise above their circumstances and impact Haiti’s future for the better.

The three day seminar included lots of education and lots of fun!

I believe in the power of both the gospel and education to transform Haiti.  The gospel is our driving force and highest priority, and education is a practical way to help both students and teachers rise above poverty and make a positive impact on the broken systems in Haiti.

God continues to surprise me with how He uses this little ministry to support the school in Carrefour Poy, and I am humbled by the trust and faithful support of our sponsors. This training was made possible because of generous donations from people who believe in the work we do in Carrefour Poy. It is impossible to convey my gratitude.

I thank all the sponsors who agreed to invest in us through this wonderful seminar that took place from Monday 10 to Thursday 13 April, 2023. I learned many wonderful strategies and skills that will help me manage my classes better. Thank you very much and may God bless you for this wonderful work.

~ Thelot Daccueil, 7th, 8th, & 9th grade Social Studies teacher

Collaborative learning activities in practice!

“…Allow me to bring you back to 1804, when Haiti became the first free black republic in the world. Against all odds, our ancestors won the Haitian Revolution abolishing slavery forever. Today, we are taking part in another Haitian Revolution. This time we are not fighting to break shackles that bind our hands and feet, but rather the shackles that bind our minds, and prohibit us from developing. At the end of our battle, like our ancestors we will be victorious, not with guns and machetes in our hands, but rather with books and pens.”

Dr. Bertrhude Albert, Co-Founder of P4H Global
Categories: Education, Haiti, Missions, Teachers | Leave a comment

Honoring Debby

In early 2021, Debby was diagnosed with early onset dementia.  Within months she had lost her ability to communicate, to recall all the memorized scripture that had sustained her throughout her life, and to craft her beloved artwork. She went home to our Lord on December 18, 2022. It was an honor to get to speak at her memorial service along with Claudel, who shared about the impact she made on his own family as well as the school in Carrefour Poy. Here is the eulogy I shared:

Debby & I had been church acquaintances for several years before we finally got to know each other during a book study in 2011. It was during that study that God put it on my heart to begin a child sponsorship program in Haiti. At the same time, God had put it on Debby’s heart to get more personally involved in child sponsorship.  So after I shared my idea one evening, Debby approached me after class and volunteered to work with me on it!  Through our ministry work together, Debby became a very important person in my life at a pivotal time in my life.

Honestly, I’m not sure the sponsorship program ever would have happened without her.  I was so unsure of my abilities and full of anxiety.  If I was sure about anything, it was that I had no idea what I was doing. So I thank God that He brought us together as “partners in the gospel”. She was a wise and supportive advisor, she encouraged me (or made me laugh) through my anxieties and fears. We saw each other at our best and our worst, we grew together and through it all she became a dear friend.

On our way to Haiti, January 2013

I could share so many things about Debby. You probably already know how incredibly talented she was in so many areas: a caring nurse, an inspired artist, a creative chef, blogger, missionary, book-lover, and so much more. Instead, I hope to honor Debby’s memory today by sharing with you some stories that demonstrate the core of who she was…

One Sunday while sitting next to her at church, I noticed that she was writing in a notebook. I assumed she was taking notes, but she was actually drawing out the ideas from the sermon so she could turn them into a quilt! Of course I was blown away by her talent, but more than that it shows how she genuinely saw God’s word as a thing of beauty. 

Pastor Gilbert & Dr. Legette with a piece of Debby’s artwork

Not only did Debby’s love for scripture inspire her art, but it moved her to live it out. During our work, she spent a lot of time dwelling on Isaiah 58 and its admonition against performative acts for God instead of actually feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and giving clothes to those who need them. And doesn’t that just encapsulate who she was? Debby had a compassion that compelled her to act. This compassion led her to help me start The Bridge, to minister in Kenya and Haiti, to collect clothes and shoes to give to people in need, and to financially support many people and ministries around the world.  

As Isaiah 58 teaches, her compassion wasn’t just about doing things, it was about seeing people. When we went to Haiti together, Debby had packed a selection of nail polish that she wanted to give to the female teachers. Honestly, I thought it was a little silly. Here were people who didn’t necessarily know where their next meal was coming from. What would they care about nail polish? But when she brought those colorful little bottles out… those ladies came alive!  These women who had been serious and stoic the whole time we had been there were suddenly smiling and laughing with us!  Debby saw those women for more than their needs. She saw them as whole people who deserved to enjoy fun and beauty. Debby’s love of others and her love of beauty came together in that moment to create a sacred space of communion. 

Choosing nail polish

The last time I saw Debby, she shared with me that she had “lost her words”, as she put it. Nonetheless, she made sure to give me a box of beads for the jewelry the Haitian students make and some money for the girls she sponsored. I love how that demonstrates Debby’s true essence. Even when disease had stolen her ability to create art or to recall the scriptures she had once memorized, she was still thinking about and giving to others. 

In closing, I want to read a few verses that will always make me think of Debby.  On the last day of our trip to Haiti, she shared Colossians 1:9-13 with the church in Carrefour Poy.  From verse 9, We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will, spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. 

Pastor Gilbert translating as Debby shares from Colossians

Disease may have stolen from Debby the ability to call up the words of scripture that she loved, yet those words lived deep inside of her. She lived a life that honored the Lord and she produced good fruit because she had made it a priority to know God better and better through His Word. 

Skipping to verse 12 Paul wrote, The Father has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son.

Debby’s life -her legacy- shines brightly with the Kingdom light of her Savior. I admired her greatly and miss her friendship. And I’m thankful for the assurance that God has rescued her from the darkness of dementia and transferred her into the eternal kingdom of His Son. 

“As always, I turn to my God for answers.  I’m afraid there are many things that won’t be answered clearly in this lifetime. I don’t pretend to understand why these things happen.  I won’t try to give you trite answers or to tie everything up in a neat theological package with a pretty little bow on top.  But I was comforted by the words I found in the Psalms.  For me, this is the only way I can live. I hope in my God. He is my Rock and my Fortress. I run to him in uncertain times.  And I find hope.” 

~Debby Schnabel
Categories: Haiti, Missions, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

10 Year Anniversary (plus one)

I had meant to post this last January, but it has sat forgotten in my draft folder for a year. Since I do want it to have a permanent place on this blog, I thought I’d go ahead and post it a year late!

Ten years ago, in January of 2012 we began supporting the school in Carrefour Poy through sponsorship.  As I look back on the past decade, I am in awe of all God has done in myself and at the school through this ministry, so I want to take a few moments to remember all He has done and to give Him praise!

Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. 

1 Chronicles 16:8

  • He connected two people from different countries and cultures with the same idea of supporting a school with a sponsorship program.
  • He filled me with the passion and determination I needed to pursue this idea and overcome obstacles, in spite of my inexperience.
  • He surrounded me with people who had more experience and knowledge than myself to guide, encourage, and help me along the way.
  • He brought beloved friends into my life through this ministry who I never would have connected with or even met otherwise.
  • He has inspired many people to generously entrust us with their financial blessings to support and improve the school in Carrefour Poy.
  • He has filled me with a love for a different country and culture and her people.
  • He saved a little village Christian school from shutting  down thereby allowing the teachers to get paid, the children to receive an education, and the gospel to go forth in the village.
  • He has provided the means to build more classrooms, add more grade levels, make improvements to the school, and add vocational training.
  • He has given us the means to provide daily school meals.
  • He has used the school as an outreach to the village community, helping with people’s temporal needs and sharing the love of Christ with the children and their families.
  • He has grown this sponsorship program from a few sponsors supporting less than 20 students in January of 2012 to about 50 sponsors supporting 85 students today!
  • He has strengthened and grown my faith as I have watched what He has done these last 10 years through this ministry.

This is just an overview and I could probably go on for 10 pages if I wanted to recount every little specific way I have seen God move during these years!  What a kind, generous God He has shown himself to be. What a privilege to get to partner with Him in His work and to bring Him glory. What a joy it is to partner with each of our sponsors and to witness their love and care for these children.

To our sponsors I say thank you. God has used your generosity to work these miracles.  Whether you began sponsoring in January 2012 or are one of the many who have joined us through the years, your support is very much appreciated. From my heart, “I thank God upon every remembrance of you.”

Pastor Gilbert wanted to add his thanks and share the important role the school plays in the community of Carrefour Poy: “I have seen many teenagers in Haiti initiate into gangs’ club while many of our school children are eager to continue their schooling. Parents and children testifies how much they benefit from our school: low and free scholarship, Bible instructions, etc.  Remember our school is located in a very low class in our society; without our school, 95% would not attend school.” Thanks to your donations, these kids are given an alternative to joining a gang, the hope of Christ, and a foundation of education which can start them on a path out of poverty.  

A year after writing this, I remain in awe of God and all He has done through this little ministry over the past 11 years. And I am so excited to share a new way we will be investing in the school in the near future!

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

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

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.


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


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:


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.


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

Missions Weekend at Grace

Despite my failure to regularly post updates here on The Bridge website, God continues to provide for the children of Carrefour Poy.

I am excited that The Bridge will be featured, along with several other missionaries, next weekend at Grace Fellowship‘s annual Missions Conference.

Decorations from Grace's Missions Conference 2013

Decorations from Grace’s Missions Conference 2013

And even more exciting?

Claudel will be here!

After several attempts to obtain a visa, the government has granted him permission to spend a week in the States, and he will arrive here in just a few days! I hope that all of our sponsors are able to take advantage of this opportunity to meet Claudel and ask him any questions you may have about The Bridge Sponsorship Program and the school in Carrefour Poy.

Claudel in Carrefour Poy

Claudel in Carrefour Poy

I would especially like to invite all of our sponsors to a special lunch right after church on Sunday, March 8th in Barrett Hall at Grace Fellowship.

I hope you can join us for this Haitian inspired meal as token of our appreciation for you, our faithful sponsors, and to have a chance to get to know Claudel a bit better.  I know he is excited to meet all of you.

Here is the weekend schedule for the Missions Conference:

Friday, March 6

Banquet at 6:00pm (doors open at 5:30)

Saturday, March 7

Men’s Breakfast at 8:00am

Women’s Luncheon at 11:30

Sunday, March 8

Sunday School Missionary panel Q&A at 9:00am

Worship Service at 10:30am

The Bridge Sponsor Lunch at 12:15

Claudel will be present at each of these activities (except for the Women’s Luncheon), along with Pastor Dale Barrett of TLC Haiti, Kay Fox of Handclasp, and Luke Voight of SIM.  The weekend promises to be an uplifting, encouraging, God-glorifying time.  We hope to see you there!

Replica of a Haitian Tap Tap made by our youth for this year's conference!

Replica of a Haitian Tap Tap made by our youth for this year’s conference!

Categories: Child sponsorship, Haiti, Missions, Sponsors, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hoop Dreams

Life is just rushing by and I haven’t had a chance to finish updating our sponsors and friends about all of the exciting things that happened while we were in Haiti this summer.  To finally continue, in this post, my son Brennan will share with you the story of the basketball hoop.


I really like basketball and since other people do sports ministries, like our friends Luke & Becca who have a soccor ministry in Malawi, that got me wanting to do something with basketball.  I was able to raise money by collecting donations and doing jobs to earn money.  Most of that money went toward the cost of the trip, but I also earned some extra to pay for the hoop.  Then I found out that someone donated it!

When we got it there I couldn’t wait to put it up, but we had to wait until Tuesday because that’s when the rest of the team would be there to hang it.

When we got to Carrefour Poy, we saw that the wall wasn’t high enough for a basketball hoop and the ground was muddy and rocky with roots sticking up from a nearby mango tree. We talked to Claudel and Pastor Gilbert who made some phone calls that we couldn’t understand.

Discussing the placement of the court.

Discussing the placement of the court.

After a while, the man who lives next door to the school came with an ax and began chopping up the roots.

Monsier Lebreton chopping out the tree root.

Monsier Lebreton chopping out the tree root.

Then he skillfully climbed the tree and chopped down a branch that was in the way.

Chopping down a branch from the mango tree to make space for the basketball court.

Chopping down a branch from the mango tree to make space for the basketball court.

While he was doing that, someone drove away in Gilbert’s car and came back with a trunk load of bricks.

Some of the school boys unloading bricks from the back of Gilbert's car.

Some of the school boys unloading bricks from the back of Gilbert’s car.

After the bricks were unloaded, some men from the village started building the wall.

Then, one of the kids who goes to the school started bringing wheelbarrows full of gravel to use for the cement for the court.  Thankfully, the money I had raised for the basketball hoop was available for all the supplies and to pay the people who did the work!

By then it was late and we had to go back to Gilbert’s house, so unfortunately we weren’t able to see the cement being poured.

The next day the rest of the team arrived in Haiti and  I was very glad to see other kids who spoke English!  While collecting all the luggage at the airport, we found out it had been quite an adventure getting the basketball hoop there.   The airline workers said that they can’t transport that big of a box.  After a long discussion trying to come up with solution, Christian, the leader of the team, asked if it could be transported out of the box.  The lady said “Yes, of course that will work.” So they took it out and put all the bolts and brackets in separate suitcases.  Thankfully, it all got there safely!

All ready for the hoop to be hung!

All ready for the hoop to be hung!

On Tuesday when we got to Carrefour Poy to teach VBS the wall and cement was all finished and ready for the hoop to be hung!  After the VBS was over, several of the team members and I put the basketball hoop up.  While we were working, we discovered that the battery powered drill that Gilbert had wasn’t strong enough to drill through the cement wall.  We had to get another drill and plug it into the generator that they have at the school.


Brian securing the brackets to the wall.

After all the bolts and the framing were installed, I got to attach the backboard.  I also got to put the netting on the hoop before it was attached to the backboard.


Kyle, Brian Sr., Brian Jr., Brennan and Christian on the court with a group of kids in Carrefour Poy.

All the kids were so happy that once the basketballs were pumped up, we immediately started playing. Even though the Haitians didn’t know all the rules, they knew the gist of the game, and we had a lot of fun!

A group of kids enjoying the basketball court!

A group of kids enjoying the basketball court!

*Special thanks to Mike Stromberg, Brian Whaling Sr and Jr, and Kyle Catto for helping with this project, as well as the whole team for making sure the hoop made it to Haiti!


Categories: basketball, Children, Haiti, Missions | 1 Comment

The Children and their Families

So much was accomplished in my 10 days in Haiti.  In my last post, I was unable to figure out which details to share and which to leave out and so I ended up just writing a brief overview.  Now I am going to attempt to share the main points of interest in a few posts without turning this into a 47 part series!  So many things happened that I want to share with you all, that it will be an exercise in restraint.

My first priority for the trip was to meet with every child who is sponsored through The Bridge.  I had asked our sponsors to provide me with a note of encouragement for their child, a picture of themselves and if possible, a small gift of some sort.

Ronaldina loved her doll!

Ronaldina loves her new doll!

I know our sponsors truly care about the children they sponsor and I wanted the children to be able to connect with them; to understand that they are a real person who not only is paying for their education, but also thinks about them, prays for them and truly cares for them.

So, my first two days in Haiti consisted of meeting with the children and delivering those gifts to them.   It was a joy to watch the children open their gifts and to see their smiles!

Monel was excited to have his own flashlight.

Monel was excited to have his own flashlight.

However, this was also one of the parts of my trip that I struggled with.  I never intended to become Santa Claus to these children, but I am afraid that that is exactly what I set myself up for.  As fun as it was to actually deliver the gifts, throughout the time that I spent in Carrefour Poy, children were asking me for things- a “machin” (toy car), “poupe” (doll), or “one dollar”.  I felt like I was causing greed and selfishness to come out in their little hearts.  And it was heartbreaking not to be able to give a little something to each and every child. In the interest of luggage space, I had only brought gifts to the sponsored children.  (We actually brought another gift for the whole school, but I will write about that in another post.)

I am keenly aware of the fact that what these precious souls truly need is food, water, an education and most importantly the Gospel of Christ.  These are the reasons The Bridge exists.  I guess my hope and prayer is that somehow the love of Christ will shine through the generosity of our sponsors in the gifts they sent.

Claudel, Sander and Alix helped the children write thank you notes after they received their gifts.

Claudel, Sander and Alix helped the children write thank you notes after they received their gifts.

After meeting with all the children who were available in those first two days (there were just a few who were away or sick), I visited a few of the families at their homes to invite them to a meeting for the families of The Bridge kids. As I didn’t have time to go to everyones’ house, (well, really I quickly became worn out from walking around the village in the heat and humidity), Claudel invited the rest of the families.

This family consists of a father, daughter and 3 brothers who are either cousins or friends of the family.

This household consists of a father, daughter and 3 brothers who are either cousins or friends of the family.

Several months ago, I was praying over this trip & asking the Lord to clarify the things He wanted me to do. During that prayer, I had the thought to invite the families of our sponsored kids to a meeting to talk to them about The Bridge program.  Along with that thought came a very brief outline of four points to share with them.  Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I HATE to speak in front of people!  I wasn’t sure if this was really what God wanted me to do, but besides that, I wasn’t even sure it was something I could do! Nonetheless, I wrote down the four point outline & kept it to pray over.  Eventually I asked a couple other people to pray about it also and I mentioned it to Gilbert and Claudel as something we could do if we had time while I was there.

As the time drew near, we scheduled the family meeting into the trip, but I still didn’t know what I was going to say about the 4 points that God had originally given me.  Finally, 3 days before I left for Haiti, I sat down at my computer & filled in some details about those points.

I woke up the morning of the family meeting feeling paralyzed with fear.  I emailed a few friends to ask for prayer and then I prayed, read scriptures, and reviewed the message I would be giving, but my nerves would not calm down. During the whole long drive to Carrefour Poy that day I felt sick with anxiety.  The youth group team prayed for me also before I left them in Bellanger where they were teaching VBS that day.

Claudel helped to serve the meal after the meeting.

Claudel helped to serve the meal after the meeting.

And then, when I got out of the car in Carrefour Poy, I had a minute to check on the cook who was preparing the meal we were serving the families before I was taken into the main church building and it was time.  In that moment, my nerves calmed, and I was able to share the message I believe the Lord wanted me to share.

It wasn’t a long or particularly deep message. It was all about the fact that we, as sponsors, love their children because of Christ’s love for us.  I talked about the importance of the children for the future of their community & the beautiful country of Haiti.  I talked about the importance of their role of influence in their children’s lives, the importance of education, and that we all- the children, their families, the teachers and the sponsors are all a team working together toward the goal of helping each child reach his or her potential.

Somehow I had the presence of mind to snap this picture of my audience right before I started speaking.

Somehow I had the presence of mind to snap this picture of my audience right before I started speaking.

Then I reminded them that we do this because Christ first loved us and I shared a short and simple Gospel message. I had just finished sharing the Gospel and was about to finish my message when one of the fathers who was there stood up and began talking loudly while flailing his arms around.

I have met this man a few times before and he is one of the local voodoo priests.  I don’t know if he had ever been in a church before, so I was so glad to see that he had come.  I don’t really know what he was saying, perhaps he was just talking nonsense, because pretty quickly after he stood up the rest of the audience was trying to shush him and get him to sit back down.  As I watched him, I thought for a moment that maybe he was calling curses down on me, and yet I felt completely safe and at peace, knowing that God was protecting me.

I ask that you join me in prayer for this man and his family.  Specifically, that the Gospel message would take seed in his heart and that he would respond to God’s call.

The voodoo priest with two of his children, both of whom are sponsored through The Bridge.

The voodoo priest with two of his children, both of whom are sponsored through The Bridge.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.     John 1:5

After the voodoo priest settled down and I finished my talk, I asked the families if they had any questions for me about The Bridge program.  Several people raised their hands, and although there were a couple questions, most people simply wanted to express their thankfulness to those who are sponsoring their children. I wish you all could have been there with me to see the gratefulness in their eyes as they told stories of not being able to afford books or uniforms or even tuition, and the hope that they now have for their children’s future thanks to your generosity.

From the children and their families, from Claudel, the teachers, Pastor Gilbert, and from me… Thank you.

We love, because He first loved us.     1 John 4:19

Categories: Child sponsorship, Children, Haiti, Missions, Sponsors | 2 Comments

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