God Is Not Dead, Nor Doth He Sleep

Did you know that Ti Ro-Ro died?, my son asked me earlier today. No!, I said, astonished. Stanley Pierre-Louis had grown up in our church and was a regular playmate of John and Gabe’s when they were little. He was the same age as John. As is common with most Haitians,  he had a nickname. Everyone called him Ti Ro-Ro. Yeah, they said it was something to do with his lungs, he replied. How very tragic, I thought – especially now during the Christmas season. Soeur Rolex is mourning the loss of her son. (Madame Rolex has been in our church for years.) Then my thoughts turned to others who are bearing the burden of a joyLESS Christmas because their loved one just recently passed on. I thought of others still who are close to me – still trapped in the same deep, murky waters of grief.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the most beloved poets in American history, poured out his own sorrow in the familiar Christmas carol,  I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. It has been read, sung, and translated into several languages throughout the years – largely because it struck a nerve that many of us feel at one point or another in our lives. Like so many other rich hymns and carols from the past, this too was birthed in sorrow as the author wrestled to understand just where God WAS in the mix. Longfellow had suffered much in spite of his great success as a writer. He was devastated when his first wife, Mary, died after suffering a miscarriage. Many years later, his second wife, Fanny, died as a result of a horrible tragedy. This particular Christmas carol was penned after his son, Charles, returned home from the Civil War severely wounded. Longfellow penned what anyone who has ever faced tragedy has most likely thought in the midst of their circumstances. Yet, these last two verses change the entire tone of the poem. They are also my favorite. They show that good ultimately triumphs. Why? Because God sits enthroned.

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

One day, sorrow will give way to joy, despair will bow to hope and death will lose its grip on mankind. God sits enthroned. It is my deep desire that all of you have a joyFUL Christmas and lots of laughter this season. May you have memories that last a lifetime. But in the meantime, I ask you to take time to remember those who are not celebrating, but rather enduring the holidays. Pray for them. Reach out to them. Ask them what you can do for them. Better yet, just simply sit in silence with them and let them know that you are there if they need to talk or just want a shoulder to cry on. Your presence will be a reminder that God is not dead, nor doth he sleep and through his people, he brings His comfort.

It’s All Perspective!

img_1645Beauty is definitely in the eyes of the beholder. For us, this beautiful, tall gas tank with its Christmasy green color is absolutely gorgeous.This week, we have been trying to find a gas tank for our stove. The stove in our kitchen only operates with gas, not electricity. The truck that was bringing the tanks from Port-au-Prince to Cap-Haitien broke down a couple of days ago and still hasn’t arrived. Thus, we were reduced to cooking our food on charcoal outside. Since we gave our house workers Friday-Monday off, I didn’t relish the idea of trying to cook on charcoal by myself for the first time. Thanks to some great friends who knew of our dilemma, this morning they sent their chauffeur to our home with this huge gas tank. Now, the stove’s all hooked up and the turkey that Agape Flights flew in for us at the last minute (Thanks, Agape!) can be cooked on Christmas day.

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On top of that, some unexpected surprises came in on Agape today. A friend sent all kinds of sweets specially packed for us to enjoy over Christmas. Sunset Church of God (Tarboro, NC) sent us a big food box, and my sweet sister even sent us a check for Christmas. What a day!

img_1647Having said that, an otherwise dismal day turned into a spectacular one just because friends near and far were thinking of us. Our perspective of an uneventful Christmas has turned into a joyful one. Even though we always feel an ache in our hearts when we can’t be stateside to celebrate Christmas with all our children, thoughtful hearts such these sure help lift our spirits.   Tomorrow, we’ll be enjoying a pre-Christmas dinner with some dear missionary friends.  It’s so nice to be remembered  and all these blessings definitely put things into the right perspective!

Born in a Cave

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              -Baby Matthew, wrapped in swaddling clothes

While many of us are focussing on Christmas decorations and finding that perfect gift for that special someone, there’s a whole different kind of Christmas coming up for Haitians located in the south of Haiti. Not far from the town of Jérémie, there are many Haitians who, after losing their homes and their livelihoods, are presently living in a cave.The parallel between the Christmas story and theirs is not too difficult to see. Long ago, a young mother and father sought out a place to bring forth the Christ child, for there was no room in the inn. This year, another son was born to one of the residents of the cave outside of Jérémie. There was no other place of refuge available since Matthew had already leveled everything in its path. Interestingly, the baby boy’s name is Matthew. I hope his parents will tell him that he doesn’t provoke a memory of horrific circumstances, but instead he stands as a symbol of hope and survival.

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-Joel with the cave-dwellers

Our friends, Joel and Yvonne Trimble, have been actively involved in helping bring restoration to the south of Haiti. Joel has been helping put new roofs on homes and together they have managed to raise donations to bring food, blankets, clothing and other items to these cave-dwellers. We are so proud of their tireless labor for the Haitian people. Joel and Yvonne have been serving in Haiti for over 40 years now and are good friends of ours. When going through the awful crisis of 2010 when Prit had two back-to-back brain aneurysms, Joel and Yvonne were among the first of our friends to call me long-distance and were a tremendous source of encouragement during a time of great duress.

We’d like to give you the opportunity to send a Christmas offering to their ministry. This would enable them to provide supplies for these folks who have suffered unimaginable loss.

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    -Parents and children are living inside this cave

 

 

If you’d like to help, click on this link haitiforchrist.net/give

Let’s Party!

Elementary School

Friday, our school here in Sainte-Philomène had their annual Christmas party. Thanks to Bonnie Dopher from Hamilton, Ontario, the kids received homemade sewn pouches that took lots of time, effort, and lots of love to make. The boys’ pouches were filled with marbles, little toys, balls and such, while the girls’ discovered colorful barrettes, hair ties, and knick knacks in theirs’. These were some happy kids! Thank you so much, Bonnie, for making our students’ day a whole lot brighter and for your labor of love! Bonnie made a huge boxful of these items plus other gifts, then paid to ship it all the way from Canada to Haiti!

Bible Institute

Friday afternoon, the students and professors of our Bible institute gathered together for a party as well. While munching on cake, pastries, and other sweets, there was a lot of laughter and good-natured bantering about which professor gave the hardest tests and which one showed no mercy in their grading. The professors responded by telling whose papers they enjoyed grading the most and those they didn’t. All in all, it was a great time of fellowship and stopping to give thanks for each other and for the special time of togetherness that Christmas brings.

Mercy Chefs Come to Cap-Haitian

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We had a wonderful 2-day visit from the Mercy Chefs team based out of Virginia Beach, VA. Gary Leblanc, founder and President of Mercy Chefs came with 4 other members of his team to install a water treatment system donated to Rehoboth Ministries. Unfortunately, two drivers who were bringing the system over from the Dominican Republic couldn’t get to Haiti in time to make the installment. The same rains that pounded Haiti for weeks on end wreaked havoc in the Dominican too. When they arrived to Monte Cristi, the road was impassable and they had to turn around. The Mercy Chefs team flew out on Saturday. They will send a team back to do that installation work for us in a few weeks. In spite of that disappointment, we had a wonderful time of fellowship with the 5-member team. They also installed water treatment systems in missions located in the south of Haiti where Hurricane Matthew did its greatest damage.

Our good friend and a great supporter of our ministry, Richard Baker, is also on the board of Mercy Chefs and we were thrilled that he was able to come as well. “Bake” as we know him and his wife, Linda, have done an unfathomable amount of giving towards our feeding program. We visited our main compound in Petite-Anse while the team was here so they could see the program in action. Bake also ministered to our leaders on Saturday morning. He shared scriptures and told his testimony of how he got saved, how the Lord helped him start his real-estate business and how the Lord has worked deeply in his life. He encouraged our leaders to love one another and labor to build each other up. It was a powerful time in the Lord and our leaders were deeply moved. They gathered around Bake and prayed for him afterwards.

We thank the Mercy Chefs for their wonderful visit and look forward to their return. I guess we were having too much fun because I forgot to get a picture! But, you can click on the link and read all about their wonderful ministry. It was easy to hear the hearts of these men as they spoke. They have made multiple trips to Haiti, but this was their first visit to the north. We are looking forward to their return.

Nèg Banann Lan is President!

 

15109382_890916191043109_6035529594911329867_nHaiti Has a New President! Jovenel Moise has won the Haitian Presidential election with over 55% of the vote. That’s not too bad considering there were three other candidates in the running. Thanks to the prayers of many, peace reigned throughout the nation of Haiti as its people turned out in mass to exercise their right to vote. Anyone who knows anything about Haiti’s troubled history of dictators, coups d’états, and violence will appreciate the great significance of an ordinary, untroubled day in which the average Haitian could cast his or her vote.

Jovenel Moise resides here in the north of Haiti. He is a very successful businessman who has huge banana plantations. Many of those bananas he now exports to other countries such as Germany. For this, he has earned the name Nèg Banann Nan or Mr. Banana Man. Jovenel was former President Martelly’s favored pick.

We ask that you would pray for Haiti’s new President. Haiti was already the poorest country in this hemisphere. Now, in the wake of Hurricane Matthew’s devastation in the south and the continued rebuilding after the earthquake of 2010, he has his hands full. New outbreaks of cholera along with other candidates now demanding a recount are only a few of the items on Jovenel’s challenge list. However, many of our Haitian brethren are greatly encouraged and believe this is the dawning of a new day. Let’s hope so!