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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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! 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Early August update

For a quick update, we've been working the last couple weeks to get things wrapped up and tidied up at the mission house, awaiting our first overnight guests from the States. Once the ceramic was finished and the bathroom fixtures were in place upstairs,  there was a lot of touch-up painting and some heavy cleaning to do.  Barry put together a rustic little bed for the extra mattress that was purchased long ago and had previously been laid on the floor for guests to sleep on.

Things slowly came together and we're currently hosting the Zook family. The couple and their young daughter  attend church with Katie and brought her down to stay with us again. Dennis has been traveling to preach with Barry, having their first long trip together yesterday  morning.

Saturday evening we decided it would be nice to walk over to Barbancourt, our old neighborhood, and introduce the Zooks to some people. When we got to the river, which is roughly the halfway point in the back-trail, countryside hike, the sky started growing a little darker.  One of our old neighbors was upstream a hundred yards  finishing  his evening bath, and he pointed at the sky and told us we'd better start running.

We heeded his advice and picked up the pace, but it was too late. As we ascended the steep bank headed to Barbancourt, the downpour unleashed on us. In only moments the hill was too slippery to climb while holding four-year-old Abram. I slipped under the covering of a scraggly bush, trying to give him a bit of relief from the rain, since he was frightened by the sudden torrent that was so strong it was even hard to see where we were going.

As I climbed under that little plant roof and tried to keep my little guy protected from the rain, I had to think of the stories I've read about Christian refugees fleeing for their lives with little more than the clothes on their backs. For a brief moment I was closer to the reality of what they must endure while living in those conditions. Am I truly thankful for the roof over our heads to keep our young children out of the elements?

Lemรจ, the old neighbor who had been upstream, soon came dashing along and swooped Abram up and continued on the way. Katie was carrying Bethany in the backpack and also headed up the hill to try to find better cover. Barry carried David, and Dennis had their little Elizabeth.  Bethany and Elizabeth, who were both wearing sun hats and were apparently tired of being so hot all day, both thought the unexpected shower was quite amusing.

When we finally all slipped and slided our way to Barbancourt, the first house at the end of the trail was the Saint-Hubert house, where Piker's family were all huddled on the front porch staying dry. By now our clothes were all wet enough to be wrung out, and Piker's mom wouldn't allow that for the little children. She hurried inside to rummage out towels, the smallest shirts she could find, and some of her daughter's old dresses and began helping the children get into some dry clothes. It seemed she was more than happy for the opportunity to help us out a bit.

When we're used to temperatures in the 90s, a drop down to 80, while dripping wet, really did start to feel pretty cold.  We sat on the porch and visited, bought some glass-bottle Cokes from their little store, and waited for the rain to let up. When the sun started slipping behind the trees and the rain was still falling, we knew it was quite unlikely that we'd be heading back home the same way we came, so Barry took a motorcycle taxi back to the mission house to get the truck. Although we enjoyed the visit, we were glad to see him come back so we could get home to some dry clothes.

Sunday morning, all nine of us packed into the cab of the Ranger and headed to the town of Mouri, for services at Franz's church.  It was a familiar scene again, as the older folks nodded in agreement while the younger crowd did their best to giggle off the conviction, lest it settle too deeply into their hearts.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Fetchin' the Well Rig

We can't say enough to express our gratitude for all the prayers that were lifted up on Barry's behalf yesterday. The journey to Southern Haiti to get the well-drilling rig was nothing short of an adventure, and we know that it was the hand of God watching over him and the two others involved that allowed them to arrive back at home safely.

Barry, Rameau, and Ocean started their trip in Rameau's truck at 5:00am yesterday morning, already tired from a less-than-restful night of sleep.  The drive to Petit-Goave took three hours, then there were two hours of treacherous mountain road to climb. When they reached the mission where the rig was located, they were a little caught off guard by the condition of the equipment. It was parked several years ago, and hasn't moved or even been started in quite some time.  When they turned the ignition key, nothing happened.  The possibility was considered that maybe it wasn't in the Lord's plans to bring the rig down, but after five hours of vigorous repairs, both the water truck and the driller were up and running. At 2:00pm they started the hazardous journey back down the mountain trail. There were several times when Barry could tell that many people were praying for him, Rameau, and Ocean. 

The old trucks barely had sufficient power to make it up the steep inclines, and more than once they began to roll backward. There were places where, if they looked out the window to check where the tires were rolling, they couldn't see the ground they were driving on, but only a downward fall for thousands of feet.

There were two flat tires, one of which was slashed when they got down the mountain and reached Petit Goave. Thankfully, they were equipped with extra tires that happened to be the ones needing replaced. Dusk was settling in and they still had several hours of traveling to do, but no lights worked on the equipment. This caused another several hour delay, as they worked in the dark to get some LED lights wired up. They knew the road going through Port au Prince was very dangerous, people being shot and robbed at night. Barry thought the Lord was closing the police eyes because they rolled through several checkpoints with no stops. But in Port,  a group of about 10 fully armed police with face masks stopped them, they demanded them to pull over and began the harassment. Barry told them what was going on, and asked them if they would just let them go and maybe even assist them through the bad area. They laughed at him and insisted on giving him a 10,000 goud ticket for no license plate lights on the trucks. Barry said, "Ok, if that is what you have to do." The chief reaponded with a question. "What do you want to do?" Barry said he wanted to go home, but he was the one with the gun so he had the final say. Ocean had had enough and told them what he thought about them, so after giving Ocean a ticket and letting Barry go, they were back on the road. Ocean wanted to take a long detour around this dangerous area but Barry insisted they just drive through, remembering God is in control. As soon as they entered this bad Zone, the rig died, once again, so they began cleaning filters and got it back running. The next day they were talking and realized that God had taken away all fear while in that zone, even forgetting about it while the machine was there stalled. Praise the Lord!

 When they were 30 minutes from home, the well-driller quit again. Barry got out to go talk to Rameau about what they'd do next, and he was already sleeping behind the wheel of his stopped truck. They decided to leave it there in Titanyan, in front of the police station, for the rest of the night. At 3:00am, 22 hours after he left, Barry pulled back in the gate of the mission, driving the water truck.

They returned to Titanyan the next morning to get the rig running again and bring it the rest of the way home.

The only thing lost through the whole ordeal was the a cooler (otherwise known as an ice chest ☺), which was stolen from the back of Rameau's truck. Material possessions are replaceable, but praise be to God that everyone was kept safe. The group at the mission that had the rig expressed their doubts that the trip could even be done, but here it all sits, right in the front yard of the mission house. 

Now, we wait for the next phase of actually operating it and seeing if we can't get a well drilled. :)