Tuesday, January 30, 2018

January Projects and Happenings

Here's just a small glimpse at some of the latest happenings around the mission house and surrounding Arcahaie.

The largest project, and one that's still going on, has been the bulldozer work on the mountain road that stretches 22 rough and rocky miles behind Arcahaie. A bulldozer was hired to move large rocks, flatten the terrain, and widen the road where it was needed.

The large bulldozer making its way through a narrow passage in the mountain.

Before construction, heavy duty metal mile markers were placed every half mile for the entire stretch of the road.
Here, Nate is drilling a hole in a rock where one of the rebar sign posts will be driven.  

There's always a crowd gathered to watch the 'dozer work.  A couple of young men have been sleeping with it every night to help prevent theft or any unwelcome activity.

We were blessed to host a large group, or two groups that overlapped, last week. The mission house was all filled up and bustling with activity.  We always enjoy the time of fellowship and singing (in English!) with a group that's much larger than our young family :)

Sharing with Emmanuel, a youth who spent a lot of time around the house.

Walking single file up the narrow path to church.


Talking with some of the neighborhood boys

Putting a cabinet together to be installed in the mission house

Lots of helpers were here to get them put together quickly. They sure transformed the kitchen area!

Over the last several months, Barry has been working diligently to establish a "pig operation." In the past two weeks, the herd has doubled with the birth of 24 new piglets.  There are many foes for a baby pig, but most of the babies are growing and thriving.  We hope this is a good start to a small business that will generate income for the mission.

Abram and David displaying two piglets from the latest litter.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Another Side of Haiti

Think back for a moment about all the pictures you've seen of Haiti. If you've never been here before, what is your perception of this country?  Do you have an image of innocent, sweet--eyed children looking a bit grungy or hungry? Is it a woman scrubbing her clothes near a stream? Is it an old man with a big garden hoe walking home after a day of working his plantain field? Maybe it's an image of the beautiful rolling mountains, or the filth of the overcrowded cities. All of these images may strike a tender spot in anyone's heart and portray a country of people that surely don't have it like we do in America.

The side of Haiti that you don't often see in photos is, to us, the most burdensome. Barry has driven home at night many times, but one particular night seems to stand out, as the whole family was along for a two hour drive home in the dark. Route National 1 is, for lack of a better word, crazy, even in the daytime. When darkens falls, however, its as though people have lost their minds. The nights are so dark here that driving visibility is minimal, yet the immense parties along the roadways even spread into the roadways. Crowds of people stand right in the lane of traffic and carry on as though they are invincible. They dance and booze and carry on and don't even flinch when headlights suddenly appear just before a vehicle quickly swerves to avoid hitting them. These parties are everywhere, and just as many night clubs are bursting at the seams. There are new ones opening all the time. Young people flock to these parties by the hoards, dressed to the tee in fashionable designer clothing.

In a country with thousands of missions and a church on every block, this is what's happening all over. There is still a voodoo temple or two for every little village.  The drums still beat at night.

The burden for souls is a real need.  Our mission is not to make the Haitians more educated, more prosperous, or get them a visa to America. Our mission is for them to kneel at the cross and begin a sincere commitment to walking with Christ. When a few devoted souls see the truth and are able to witness to their own people, that's when we'll start to see revival.

We have great hope of this happening right here in the little stick church in Hostin, where four hearts have turned to the Lord.  Renalson, at sixteen, seems to have a hunger to learn and and is evidently growing. Annette, the second to come to the Lord, is an astoundingly different person. Her once tough, snappy nature has turned to outright joy and peace.  McLawd, a younger man who has been attending regularly with his live-in girlfriend, also said he wanted to give his life to the Lord. The cost is  high, however. His girlfriend has been earnestly seeking for months, but their situation, we believe, has kept her from full surrender. Pray that these two can see what they need to do and God will help them do it.  Most recently a young mother who hasn't been coming to this church for long made a commitment after the Sunday service.  Pray that we can have wisdom in helping them all to carry on in their walk! The enemy is raging and will do everything possible to stear them off course.

We thank the Lord for working!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Broken Leg, a Baby, and a Bible Study

We are long overdue for an update! The weeks seem to fly by, and the slow/nonexistent internet connection makes the blog the easiest thing to slip past when the days are busy. 

As you probably know already, every day in Haiti has its own story, but we'll at least share a few of the recent events around the mission. 

The broken leg happened to our old neighbor Joez. He was one of those involved in our unofficial business loan program with the purchase of a motorcycle to be used as a taxi. Last week he was on a return trip down the mountain on a different motorcycle, with two other men (Merlin and Evanson) on the same bike. They struck another motorbike and since Joez was sitting at the handlebars, he got the worst end of the deal. His leg is broken in several places, requiring a plate to fix it. This unexpected incident put a damper on his plans to travel to Chile.  The plane tickets he purchased by selling the motorcycle will have to be forfeited.  He was reluctant to go in for surgery and have a plate put in his leg for fear it would give him life-long trouble. However, a reminder that he would never walk right without it was enough to convince him it would be best. So it was after much communication with a friendly and helpful Doctor that Joez was reserved a bed and an operating time at the hospital. 

In more uplifting news, our friends and neighbors Rameau and Helene, who were married early in March, welcomed their first baby home last week.  Their little daughter, Darla is healthy, but Helene is still trying to recover from a not-so-easy delivery. We praise the Lord for bringing this sweet little girl safely into the world, and we pray her parents can set out to lead her on the right path. 

On Saturday, we were pleased to host the large monthly Bible study with several other missionaries from around Haiti. Some traveled more than four hours to come here. It was a tremendous blessing to sing with a large group of around 60 people, followed by a couple hours of thought provoking discussion on a passage in Collosians.  The remainder of the day was spent with a meal and fellowship. It's so interesting to hear about what others encounter while they live in Haiti! They went back to their respective missions leaving us refreshed and encouraged. 

Things are still going well with the little church here in Hostin. We've been enjoying the consistency of having a regular church to attend every Sunday and Wednesday, and many of the same faces keep coming back for each meeting. There seems to be several that are counting the cost, please help pray for them! Some of them often bring friends along for Sunday morning. 
The young convert, Renalson, seems to be growing, and he's even been holding his mom accountable to do what's right!  A young mother that attends faithfully asks nearly every meeting for prayer. She desires to be soundly converted, but there are major issues in her life that are a great challenge to overcome!  I believe that God will meet her when she is ready to give it all over to him! 

With a continually-growing heard of farm animals (sheep, goats, pigs, cows, rabbits, broilers and laying hens), and still traveling to preach, Barry's days stay plenty busy.

Thank you for your prayers for the Haitian people. The seeds are still being planted, but God gives the increase! 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

More Turmoil on the Blacktop

"Sak pase la!?" The question was posed to the man in another truck who had just come flying up around us in busy Cabaret. The main stretch of road through town is always crowded and bustling with vendors, buyers, motocycles, tap-taps, and various passers-through.  We were headed back to the mission house after a mostly successful but long day in Port-au-Prince.  Now we were getting to the final 20 minute stretch of the hour long drive.

Like so many other days, traffic wasn't moving through Cabaret. There are just too many people trying to go different directions at the same time, so we were paused and waiting. Unexpectedly, a white sedan came swiftly around the curve from behind us.  Somehow he thought that by quickly swerving around us, he could get through, but there was no room.  So, "what's going on here? You can't go through...." But he was sure he could.  After some untranslatable shouting and a few gestures, he squeezed his way around, scraping the side of his truck on our front grill guard. Everyone was stuck so tight there was nowhere to move to help him clear a path. When traffic finally cleared, the man bolted like he was on a mission.

When we were out of town, we saw that he was slowing down, letting us go around.  As soon as we got around and resumed speed, he was right on our tail,  so close we were sure he was trying to ram into us. The best choice was to slow down and let him pass again. By now we were all trying to figure out just exactly what his problem was, and praying silently. When the angry driver now stopped square in the middle of Route National 1, and moved from side to side without letting us pass, Barry went off the road to go around. As we passed, the nose of the other truck came toward us and missed the passenger side door by merely inches. This man was clearly trying to hit us!!

After this dodge, there were several more passing rotations, then when the man was ahead, he again stopped his truck, and this time lunged out in front of us with one arm out and the other concealed. Guns are not exactly rare in this country, so we suspected the worst.  The confusion as to what exactly was the goal this man had in mind continued while we flew the long ten minute stretch to Arcahaie. We just had to make it to the police station. While we continued in prayer, the white truck passed us one last time and took off at full speed. We lost sight of him, but we knew it wasn't over yet.

Sure enough, he was already waiting for us at the police station.  It turned out that the man was a translator for one of the area missions and spoke a good amount of English. He told some version of his story to the present officer, and asked Barry why he didn't stop.
"Because you were trying to run us off the road! We had no idea what you were up to. You were mad and we didn't know if you had a gun or what!"

"I do have a gun!" He replied.

After an hour or so of sitting at the police station and filing a report, we left while the man who had tried to gain from the incident ended up being ticketed. The police only laughed at the scratch on his truck, and it turned out that he didn't have a proper license. When we made it home eight hours after we left, we were shooken up, but once again so thankful of God's protection. I know I write about that a lot, but it's so true! We never know what to expect as we step outside the walls of the mission.

And in some regard, we don't always know what to expect while we're inside the mission either. Odmar, the young man who has been to court several times demanding and receiving money for his share of the purchase price of the land, returned again the other day. He knocked loudy on the gate to deliver the handwritten court summons. "I'm not interested," Barry told him, and rightfully so. The issue has long been resolved in the Superioir court of Haiti.  Now, rumors are circulating that Odmar is displeased and plans to come to the mission with guns to forcibly take over the land and house. I've heard stories about criminals attempting to bring harm to believers, but they can't do it because of all the celestial protection that guards them. We can only speculate how many times that has happened and we're oblivious to it!

The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and deliverereth them. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Little Stick Church

After a month of inadequate phone service at home at the mission,I'm using the opportunity to finally update the blog while we sit in traffic in Port-au-Prince. It's another scorching hot, sunny day, and it seems as though everyone in Haiti is out in the streets with important business to take care of. Pedestrians carry rags, both to wipe the sweat and for a mask to filter out all the dust and exhaust. The fuel tank is running low, and every lane of traffic backed up.The smog from old, poorly maintained vehicles fills the air. Too much time sitting in this position often leads to dehydration and headaches. Nevertheless, we're doing our best to keep ourselves and the children joyful, singing songs to remind us of God's goodness. 🙂

The little church building is holding regular meetings twice a week. We've been blessed to see a group of regular attendees continue to return each time. Sunday mornings, we leave the house at 8:30 or so to make the walk at a pace the children can keep. The service starts at 9:00 with an opening song and a prayer. There is more time of singing,  which doesn't always have a lot of volume, but with the recent purchase of additional songbooks, we're hearing some improvement. Some of those who have been attending have not been in church much, if at all, before coming here. It's understandable that they don't know (m)any songs, and they appreciate having the words in front of them. After the singing and a brief opening from Pastor Bazalet, Barry has the message.  This past Sunday, however, Benji was here to preach. 

Wednesday  evening is a time of Bible study, currently examining the Sermon on the Mount. This can be a challenge, since this passage contains a lot of meat. In reality, the level of understanding for those present isn't really on milk yet. They had never heard the  difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Most of them had  never heard of the Ten Commandments.  How can someone understand that Jesus came to fulfill the law if he doesn't even know there IS a law? We  pray that this study is helpful in revealing and diagnosing sin for what it is.  Most of them also did not have a Bible to follow along with during the Bible studies, so we were gladly able to purchase some New Testaments that were just recently published. This new edition seems to be a drastic improvement over the older Creole Bible that left out some important details. 

Please join us in prayer for this little church. We have testimonies of people who are seeking the truth and say they want to leave their old lives behind, but soon, perhaps we will have real testimonies of conversion to share!

David catching a ride home from church 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Water in the rock!

The time finally came for the team from home to arrive who would set out to drill a well here at the mission house.  They made it to the mission on Monday afternoon, and after a supper of rice and beans, went right out to the drilling rig to get to work making things run properly.   Working with the equipment on hand was not going to be an easy task, but was one they were all mostly prepared for.  All through Monday evening, the team changed oil filters, cleaned parts, tore apart, re-assembled, and were able to get things going well-enough to be ready for the next day.

Tuesday morning, the men gathered outside to have a final prayer meeting asking for wisdom in knowing exactly where to start drilling. There was no expensive testing done, no water witching, just fervent prayer. The drilling rig and the water truck were parked along the west wall of the mission, and the process began.  It began as a not-so-dirty job, but by day three, the mud that was created from the mix of water and bentonite clay covered everyone that stepped near the job.  The large rocks and different soil made it a different experience for Eric Kell, a well-driller from Indiana who volunteered his time to come help. His guidance, along with a brother from Blue Ridge Mission who has a great deal of experience drilling wells here in Haiti, kept the project running as smoothly as possible. 

It is difficult for me to explain all the details that went into this process, seeing as I don't entirely understand it all myself, but I do know that it wasn't an easy task for all those involved. Threats of hurricane Irma loomed over us through the week, but it remained north of us while only dumping some rain and offering a bit of relief from the sun. It did, however, affect the itinerary for half of the people who were down here working. They had planned to leave Sunday morning, but their flights were canceled. If they wanted to leave any sooner than the following Thursday, they now had to leave Saturday.  While this was good news in getting them home to their families, it left one less day to finish the job.

By Friday it was looking as though they would be able to reach water. At 307 feet into the earth, they hit a waterway that seemed to be sufficient. Sixteen pipes, each at 20 feet long, were stacked one over the other into the whole that reached the water. Next, they all had to be taken back out.  One at a time, the old, sturdy truck lifted them out, and they were guided back down to lie on the truck where they were first taken from.  When this part was done, the well pump was lowered into the hole, only to realize that the pump we had was too small for the size of well. It was a little bit disappointing at the time that the job couldn't be finished before most of the group went back home, but things came  through in the end.

This week, we were able to get Blue Ridge to come out and bring a big enough pump, and clean out the hole. Wednesday evening we learned that we had water flowing at 40 gallons/minute! We are so glad to now see water flowing from the ground! Barry is working today to get the pipes hooked up to the water tank on the house, and get the wires that power the pump buried in the ground. 

Words can't express how thankful we are that God answered prayers and provided water for the mission!  After being so tight with water for nearly two years, the children couldn't help but run and play in the fountaint it came gushing from the pipe. We are thankful, also, for all who volunteered their time to come help with the process and "play in the mud."   In the rough, mountainous, island nation of Haiti, the Lord has provided "water in the rock!"

Making Repairs and Getting things Running.

Mike, from Blue Ridge, sat on a piece of cardboard when the fire ants were unbearable.

Mervin providing his mechanical expertise

Our old neighbors from Barbancourt, always thankful for work, hand dug the trench to run the water line.

Just beginning to drill.

Taking a break and juggling some breadfruits :)

Getting a little bit messy

A panoramic view of the whole operation

Sunday, September 3, 2017

A New Meeting Place

One thing that's been lacking is a place to send people who are seeking a place to go and hear the Word of God regularly, and surround themselves with sound doctrine, and sound believers.  For quite some time there has been a vision for such a church.

We are one step closer to that vision with the recent completing of a very simple, breezy meeting house. In the immediate moments following the completion, while the men who built the church were still there, and many neighbors had gathered around, the first impromptu message was preached. Barry stood in the midst of the group and shared without a translator, filling in the gaps with hand motions when the right words  were lacking.


The following weekend, and official meeting time was announced and an evening service was held. Pastor Bazalet officiated while he and Pastor Willy, a pastor who has become a friend over the past year, led the singing. This time with Franz's help, Barry preached the first "official" sermon, clearly establishing the vision for this new church.  When the service began, only a handful of people were present, but by the time the message began, every spot on the newly constructed benches were filled.

We are more then excited to see how the Lord can use this new meeting place to further His Kingdom! 

He Blinded Their Eyes

In another noteworthy event, Barry and his team had traveled via motorcycles to a mountain church for an evening meeting. Pastor Bazalet and Franz rode on one bike, while Barry drove the other with Dennis, who was still here visiting at the time, riding on the back. On the trip back down, Barry and Dennis were some distance ahead of Franz and Pastor Bazalet. They didn't see many people, but they did pass a group of men standing along the roadside.  People are typically friendly on these isolated mountain roads,, but these men didn't seem to notice that Barry and Dennis were even there. When they reached the bottom, Barry and Dennis realized that their Haitian teammates were delayed in coming. As it turned out, the group of men they had passed had stopped Franz and Pastor Bazalet.  It was learned that they had seen the group going up the mountain and had set out to rob the Americans on their descent, hoping to score a large sum of cash. However, it was as if they were completely blinded to even passing Barry and Dennis and stopped  the Haitians instead!  When they realized they had the wrong guys, no harm was done and the attempted robbery failed. .  Another marvel in the way God watches over the missionary!