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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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].
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.
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.
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!
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.