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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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The Conference and Claudel in America

The Bridge table at the Missions Conference

The Bridge table at the Missions Conference

Although Grace Fellowship’s Missions Conference was almost two months ago now, I am still marveling at what an amazing and blessed weekend it was!  Before any more time passes, let me share a little about the experience.

Sightseeing with Claudel in San Fransisco.

Sightseeing with Claudel in San Fransisco.

First of all, it was so much fun to have Claudel in our home for a week and to get to know him a little better.  My three boys especially loved talking with him and asking him all sorts of questions that only children can get away with asking!

These four were good buddies by the end of the week!

These four were good buddies by the end of the week!

As for me, I am grateful for the time we had together to discuss some changes at the school and gain a better understanding of some of the challenges the school in Carrefour Poy faces.  As we discussed what we wanted to talk about during the conference, Claudel shared with me about some new government regulations which will affect the school.

Specifically, Haiti has passed a new law that requires all schools to offer 7th, 8th, and 9th grades over the next three years. They will be required to offer seventh grade when the new school year begins in September of 2015. If a school does not comply with this new regulation, it will have to close.

Although I was initially pretty discouraged at this news, God used the Missions Conference to remind me of His sovereignty, His goodness, and His abundant provision.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 7:7 & Phillipians 4:19

I feel confident that God will provide the means to keep this little school open if it is His will.  And I was so encouraged by the overwhelming response we received during the conference in donations and new sponsorships!

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Before we even knew about the new regulations, we began a program to teach the older children to make paper bead jewelry. We had quite a few pieces on display during the conference which were made by the students and the young man who is teaching them how to make it. We were overwhelmed by the positive response to this new project! Proceeds go back into the jewelry project and all extra goes towards school expenses.

Now I will let Claudel share his experience in America in his own words (with a little editing for clarity):

It is important to me today to write the rolling of a scene containing very good memory. This is my stay in the United States on the occasion of a conference organized by Grace Fellowship Church for the missionaries. My friend Wendy Chadwick and I were the representatives of The Bridge and my beloved teacher Dale Barrett and I were the representatives of TLC. In some lines I will explain the scene.

After several attempts at the US Embassy in Haiti, finally I got permission to spend a week in the United States of America with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Brother Jim was the one who pick me up at the airport. The first question he asked me: have you already eaten? As it was very late, I spent the night with him and his nice wife.

In the morning after having found some coffee by his wife, brother Jim took me to a restaurant.  Then he led me to a place where I was warmly welcomed by Wendy, Jason and Caleb.

Arriving in their house, I was extremely happy to meet all the Chadwick family. Indeed, it was fun! First they showed me quickly my bedroom and bathroom that were available to me.  Then the boys brought me outside to entertain, jumping [on the trampoline] and speaking together.

Hanging out on the trampoline and sharing stories. :)

Hanging out on the trampoline and sharing stories.

The first day of the conference arrived. In the morning, the Chadwicks, Pastor Dale and his wife and I were in a restaurant to eat together. In the afternoon, I was in a car in the company of the Chadwicks family. Arriving in the Church, I was really thrilled to see my brothers and sisters. What I found very exciting was because all eyes were on me.  I was really worried because I knew that I am not a native and I am among the natives. [But] the warm welcome [I received] was meaningful to me.  Anyway, I managed to explain the impacts TLC and The Bridge have had in Haiti.  Wendy subsequently explained some of the needs of the school in Carrefour Poy.

Claudel speaking at the conference.

Claudel speaking at the conference.

The second day of the conference at the Men’s Breakfast, I had a chance to explain the situation and needs of Carrefour Poy.  I also told about how I became a Christian.

The last day was full of activities: Sunday school, worship service, meeting with supporters of Bridge [at the Sponsor’s Luncheon] and meeting with young people [during Youth Group].

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Claudel with the youth of Grace.

How did you feel about the church’s response to the new school regulations in Haiti?

The prompt and positive response of the Church is the testimony of the commitment to bring Christian education to the children in Carrefour Poy. It’s also proof of the willingness to accomplish the mission that God assigned us through education.

Did you enjoy your time at Grace Fellowship Church?

There are a lot of things that I liked about Grace Fellowship: brotherhood, friendship, through their behavior anyone can see the holy presence of our Savior Jesus Christ in their lives.

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Claudel at the foot of the cross at Grace Fellowship.

What did you share with the church in Carrefour Poy about your time at Grace?

I share to the Church of Carrefour Poy something about the organization of Grace Fellowship. How there are compartment for kids, youth and adult. I explain to them how you wear simple clothes and how you are humble.

Tell me something that happened while you were in America that made you laugh.

A lot of things make me laugh, however, one of them was particularly pleasant. It is relative to the cultural differences that exist between our two cultures. When I was there, Wendy asked me what the Haitians do with their children’s teeth when they lose them. I told her that in Haiti, we throw away the teeth over house’s roof for being eaten by mice. While the child is throwing away his teeth he says, “Oh mice! Oh, mice I give you a beautiful tooth, I am waiting for an ugly one from you.”  Saying these words, the child is sure that he will have a new tooth more beautiful than his formed one.  When I asked Wendy how occur in United States, she told me the teeth of the children are guarded and conserved in a safe place by the parents.  “My teeth are still in my mom’s house. I can see them when I want,” she said. That made me laugh because of this great cultural difference.

What was your favorite American food?

My favorite food was “bacon” because we do not have it in Haiti. However, it’s one the wonderful food that I ate when I was in California.

Favorite American food?  Bacon!!! :)

It was interesting to see America’s obsession with food through Claudel’s eyes. But he did agree that bacon is the best!

What did you think of the beach?

It was an exciting experience to go to the beach. It was an unknown ocean to me; the Pacific and also because it is in front of the Asian continent.  And because the sea was beautiful like the Haitian waters of the Caribbean sea, even [though] they are more hot than the California beach.

The beach in Northern California is much colder than the beach in Haiti!

The beach in Northern California is much colder than the beach in Haiti!

Thank you, Claudel, for sharing your experience of America with us!  We loved having you in our home, but more importantly, it is a privilege to work with you to help educate and bring the Gospel to the children of Carrefour Poy.

What an honor it was to share about The Bridge Sponsorship Program during the Missions Conference!  I am blessed to partner with so many brothers and sisters in Christ to accomplish God’s purpose together.

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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!

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Daily Bread

“The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one bread, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”                   1 Corinthians 10:16b-17

Praise God for providing FOOD for hungry kids!

Praise God for providing FOOD for hungry kids!

One of our goals from the beginning of this ministry was to provide food for the students at the school in Carrefour Poy.  Pastor Gilbert told us that if we could get 100 kids sponsored, they could afford to feed the children a meal every day of the week.  Unfortunately, we are a small ministry in a small community and our sponsorship rate has consistently stayed at around 35-45 kids.  But fortunately, this is not our ministry, but God’s, and He will provide for His children in His own way.

PRAISE GOD!!!  He is providing school meals for the children 5 days a week!

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Ready to face a day of schoolwork with a full tummy!

Recently, the school in Carrefour Poy began receiving food from a ministry called Misyon Lespwa (Mission of Hope).  Misyon Lespwa gives the school boxes of rice mix and the $250 food stipend that we send each month is spent on extra ingredients like oil and spices, as well as coal to cook with.

The rice mix which is provided by Misyon Lespwa.

A box of the rice mix which is provided by Misyon Lespwa.

It is an example to me, once again, of God’s sovereignty and how He brings His people together to accomplish His work.   We are praising God for His provision!

“So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”  Romans 12:5

Serving up the cooked rice.

Serving up the cooked rice.

The following is an email I received from Pastor Gilbert:

Hello, Wendy

Yesterday, I was at Carrefour commenting on the impacts the Bridge program on the community. I sent Claudel for some little interviews with few parents:

Free school, free uniforms, free first aid, free books, all the above where mentioned by the parents to expose all the benefits they found in the school. There were many testimonies of gratitude toward the program. Many of them stated the fact that their children would not ever be able to go to school if it was not The Bridge.

Many children used to cry when they stay home and se others going to school, this was the testimonies of some children to express their happiness for being in school the enjoy the classes; but, the food is exceptionally, because they go home with a full stomach.

I have interviewed all the teachers this morning; positively, there is a great difference due to the fact now, they get the little salary on time. They really expressed their appreciation to Bridge for the sponsors’ help and support.

Finally, the Bible training to the children helps them to know Christ. Hopefully, many of them will become Christians which is the main purpose of the Christian school.

Special greetings to all the sponsors and all the church members for prayers and financial support. We love you, and we pray God to bless you.

Thanks again,

Gilbert

Thank you!

Thank you!

 

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Claudel

Claudel joyfully learning about the book of Romans in November 2011

Claudel eagerly learning about the book of Romans in November 2011

I would like to introduce to you my dear friend Claudel Romulus.

Claudel is the administrator of The Bridge Sponsorship Program in Carrefour Poy, Haiti. He is a very dedicated young man with a passion for affecting the future of Haiti through the spreading of the gospel of Christ and by the promotion of quality education.

Claudel accepted Christ as a child at the age of 10 and was baptized at age 15. Shortly thereafter, he began teaching in the children’s Sunday school classes and later the adult classes. He is currently serving as the principal of Sunday School at the church in Carrefour Poy.

Claudel lives in a small cement house with his father in Carrefour Poy. He also has a mother, two sisters and one brother who he does not live with. He tells me that his family is unable to live together because his father does not have the money to feed everyone in their family. This is one example of how poverty affects families in Haiti.

In my last blog post, I discussed the disparity between the dreams these children have for their future and the reality of the poverty they live in.  Having grown up in Carrefour Poy, Claudel experienced that same poverty. His father tries to earn money by farming his little garden plot so he will have produce to sell in the market.  

And what are Claudel’s dreams? God has gifted and called Claudel to become a pastor. However, because pastors in Haiti do not earn a salary, he also wants to become a lawyer so he will be able to support himself.

Thanks to God’s provision, both of these dreams are coming true for Claudel!  Through the ministry of Pastor Dale Barrett of TLC Haiti, Claudel is studying theology and will graduate as a pastor next year.  He was able to complete his first year of law school with some financial help from an American donor.  He is now in his second year and is praying and trusting God to provide the funds to continue to pay for his schooling.

This remarkable young man is a pleasure to work with. He is eager to serve the Lord however He leads. He is a beautiful example to me of glorifying God by walking in faith no matter what the circumstances.

His story is also a great example of how we as Americans can be a part of God’s work in poverty stricken countries by investing in the education of one individual for the glory of God!

Wendy and Claudel in front of his house in Carrefour Poy, January 2013

Wendy and Claudel in front of his house in Carrefour Poy, January 2013

Categories: Child sponsorship, Haiti, Missions, Sponsors, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

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