Stay Connected

Wednesday
Dec102014

Sleighbells ring... are you listening?

Hmmm, not sure I have heard the sound of sleighbells at all lately, in fact, I am not sure if I ever have! But, hey, it's Christmas time and everyone seems to be crazy about this fat, jolly old man with an overgrown beard for a month solid. Society is bent on convincing us that we need to shop more and buy our kids lots of stuff so that we can lie to them and get them to believe in this guy who does not exist, with a bunch of flying reindeer, somehow tresspassed into our house on the eve of Christmas to fill our house with more stuff. The whole thing baffles me. How far have we come that we can hardly even mention the real reason for the season in public. Why is that? Well, for the conspiracy theorist that I am, I believe that the enemy of our souls is doing a real good job at getting our society dooped, guilting parents into debt and deception, all in the name of miracles, magic and dreams. But why? Is Jesus so hard to believe in that we have to replace him with a make-believe man of few words(hohoho)? A man that most children only have the hopes of having one glimpse of in the whole year and that will only honor their wishes once a year- if they are nice and not naughty? And really, do any parents ever give their kids coal anymore? So, we are essentially telling even the naughty kids that its ok, they can get away with it and Santa will still reward them. The whole thing actually really gets me. In fact, I think that Satan has our culture worshipping this made up god in a huge anti-Christ effort to cloud over the true meaning of Christmas and draw people away from meeting the actual Savior of our souls. Satan is tricky. He likes to use bright colors, flashy costumes, sparkly fairy dust and incredibly ridiculous settings to draw our interest away from the exact opposite God presents to us- a simple child, meek and mild, born in a humble stable with no huge audience or huge announcement (except to a few wise men and shephards who were observant enough to be watching). Jesus' Christmas was not piled with useless shimmery wrappings, but was presented with a few very special and significant gifts- gold, frankincense & myrrh. He was not untouchable, but born in a very real and commonplace way, accessible to anyone, yet not demanding our attention... just... inviting it.

Shouldn't we rather spend our time remembering the true reason we celebrate? Others may wish to partake in all of the false god celebrations of Santa Clause (forgive me if that is sounding harsh). I won't judge any who do, but that is not what its about. I just would rather teach my children that there is a more precious gift than just a wrapped present under the tree. And there is a more priceless sacrifce that was given for us when God sent His one and only Son, a babe wrapped in cloth and placed in a cattle stall. I would rather reminisce and spend my time worshipping the King who came to deliver and save, His birthday that was fortold for generations. And I would rather celebrate together with my family the awesome fellowship and privilege we have to know Jesus everyday through His love, Word and grace, rather than have my kids write letters to Santa for their own selfish gain. I would rather find ways to reach out with random acts of kindness to show God's love, not just this month, but all year around. I would rather give of myself and teach my children to do likewise, just as our Christ does for us. That is the true meaning of Christmas, to celebrate the greatest birth of all. The most beautiful of stories foretold in Isaiah 9:6 (and all througout the OT), and brought to pass in Luke 2 (and all throughout the NT).

Those are my musings of the season. Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas time with all the lights, decorations and smells. But I love the why most of all.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday
Nov292014

Inspiration through a cold winter's day

Well, today's post is far from Haiti, but more of my personal musings and inspirations. With Marc still away in Haiti, surely sweating as he works hard to get things lined up for construction projects and medical team clinics and such, I am back up in Canada literally freezing my butt off today. The blizzards of winter have finally hit. I have to be grateful for the beautiful summer and fall this year and for it taking a while to get the winter snows caught up, but when it comes, it comes in a blast. So my days are mostly inside, busying the kids with school work, starting in Christmas crafts and to my bubbling joy, giving them some art lessons. Of course, on this very worst day so far this winter of -21 degree Celsius weather, all the kids had afternoon activities we had to get out to and after battling the gusty winds of snow that kept drifting over the van, we made it ever so gingerly to gymnastics and Asher's taekwondo testing for brown belt, which I might add he passed fantastically. When we got back I was determined to get the van back into the garage so we wouldn't have to be abruptly thrust into the cold winds and struggle to get the vehicle warmed up next time. This required some maneuvering since we have some stuff in the garage that had to be moved around. But we got it! Yeah.

Anyways, that's all just to paint a backdrop for you for the imagery on my canvas that God is inspiring in me lately. I have asked myself often this fall, why am I here with the kids while Marc is down in Haiti doing the work? We should all be down there and for all practical reasons, we chose to schedule things this way for the last couple years- to supposedly save money, to focus some attention on the kids and their schooling and activities... I often have to remind myself of these practical reasons when I'm feeling bored with such a 'normal' life here. But I am also finding that God is using these times when I feel shut in by the snow and a bit disconnected from Haiti to spark in me a passion that I've felt has laid dormant for many years. See, when I felt God called me many years ago into missions I was actually on my way to pursuing my own dreams- out of high school, first year of art college, which I landed in with the help of a number of art scholarships and a dream to live my life for art, maybe going into advertising and graphic design. Funny how God works things, cause I guess in a sense I am doing just that these days for Haiti. But in someway, I thought answering God's call meant abandoning my own dreams. And maybe it was supposed to be that way for a time. But now I have this deep urging and sense that God is reviving my passion for art and that it does not have to be a separate part of me or another life.

When we attended the MFI conference this Oct, God really spoke clearly to me in a number of ways. One way was through a workshop we attended where our good friends, Rob and Cindy Litzinger, who pastor an amazing church in Santa Maria, CA, were the speakers. He spoke on creativity and how God wants us to create because we are called to be like Him and how there really is nothing new under the sun, nothing truly original cause it all comes from God in the first place, but then is recycled, revamped, revived through many different people. He shared a great little book with us that was like a revelation to me and it ha so enlightened me. The book, called 'Steal Like an Artist', basically encourages to not be afraid to be creative, to not wait til you get some amazing epiphany of greatness that you think is so original, but instead seek out to emulate, copy, reproduce and then add your own spin on things that you truly find inspiring. It's actually quite Biblical in theory as even Paul encouraged to Timothy to follow him as he followed Christ and to be like him.

So, I'm going for it. I'm breaking out and I'm going to answer Gods call to be creative, to live creatively, to see life like He does, like an artist, finding beauty and fascination in everything around me.
I love these few quotes from the book. This first one really made me laugh, cause I have always labeled myself a procrastinator- even wrote a paper on it in college for which I procrastinated. My professor ironically commented that the paper could have been much better if I had not procrastinated. But this quote brought some light to me. I've often wondered why I find some of the things I'm required to do are such stuffing tasks that I'd rather leave for later.


And the next graph is exactly the process of creativity that has often kept me bound from even starting in the first place. That awful fear of failure, or not being good enough. But that's the awkward grace of humanity, that we all fail and yet can learn and overcome our failures til we one day create a masterpiece.

I love this last one, as I've (and we probably all do) try so hard to busy myself with all the things I think I or other people think I SHOULD be doing, that I don't often allow boredom to creep in. But in fact, it's the quiet times, (sounding Biblical again) those times we force ourselves to not DO, but just BE, that we can actually hear better- hear God, see things we normally would not, and be inspired to something new... Maybe that's another part of me being here now when I think I should be in Haiti.

I'm eager to see what is in store. So, though I do miss

Haiti terribly, I also cherish these times when the cold and the isolated culture here renders possibility for God to prompt me to try something new, to draw me to seek Him more and what more He has in store.

I hope you too will be able to find some inspiration wherever you are, whether in the cold or not.

Friday
Nov212014

Amazing Celebrations

I left Haiti last Friday on a high. What an amazing time the Grand Opening celebrations were. We had a fabulous time with all of our visitors from North America. It was the biggest crowd we have ever had all at once and every single bed in the place was full. It was amazing how well everyone got along considering they were packed in like sardines in the place. I am sure there were some personality clashes, but they were not evident. We have such amazing partners and it truly was a big party with all of our favorite people.

The Tuesday night was so much fun. The Haitian thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment, as we had the most famous Haitian comedian, Tonton Bicha, come to perform, as well as an amazing gospel group called Dift. They did some powerful evangelistic skits. There were over 1500 people in attendance and it was beautiful. I had interpret the jist of the play and skits to our North American guests since it was impossible to translate word for word during the performances. Once people understood, they too thought it was pretty funny. The best part was just having the time for everyone to come together from the community and be able to offer them some entertainment to enjoy. In the midst of such a hard lifestyle of survival, it was a great relief for many, I am sure, and brought the community together.

The Wednesday morning ceremonies were beautiful. We had dignitaries from the local government- the mayor, deputy, chief of the police, commander of the UN, congressmen and the Minister of Social Affairs. There were some other officials there as well and about 800 guests in attendance. We had a band play the national anthem for Haiti and Michele Roberts & Margaret Roberts sing the US and Canadian anthems. We had speeches from the various officials and from Tracey Minke with CrossRoads Church who solely funded the reconstruction of the technical school, and Dr. Bob Cutler who funded the construction of the medical clinic. After all the wonderful speeches, we led a tour of the facilities and did a ribbon cutting. There were tons of local and Haitian national meida there taking photos and video. We did interviews in the computer lab and we've heard that the footage has been on tv stations all over Haiti. So exciting!

I want to specially thank everyone who took the time to come and celebrate with us. For our Haitian staff who worked tirelessly to make it all come together. For our International board of directors for their tremendous support and efforts together to make Haiti ARISE a success. And to all the Haitians who participated from our church, community and schools.

Now coming back to Canada, the frozen north, its a bit of a downer. I wish that the kids and I were all down there with Marc still. I have to remind myself that for the sake of the kids we stay through the fall so they can participate in important sports and social activities for their development. But my heart is truly in Haiti and I miss it terribly when I am not there. I love Canada and it is just as much a part of our lives, but being here in winter and while Marc is still in Haiti is not my favorite. The only real downer from all the festivities that happened is some of our guests got sick on returning home, including myself. I have an impression that the food that was catered may not have all been up to par, although it was tasty and beautiful. I am really sorry for any bugs anyone may have brought back with them from that tasty meal. We rarely have food issues with our visitors cause we do all of the cooking in our own kitchen and ensure that health safety standards are kept. But this event was catered by a company from PAP that was supposedly professional at what they did. So, I'm praying and hoping everyone who got sick gets better real soon!

I am really looking forward to getting back to Haiti by New Years and being in the sun!

You can check out photos from the event here:

Wednesday
Nov122014

Grand opening set up

I'm getting more and more excited by the minute! It is Wednesday, the day that the Grand Opening celebrations are going to begin. The yard is a hub of activity as everyone is helping prepare. We built a stage, we have landscaping done, the electrical in the shops is being installed. Chairs and benches are being moved to set up tables and dining areas, and the whole kitchen has been cleaned beautifully.
The best part of the festivities is all of the wonderful people that we have here with us. They're more than 50 guests from North America that have come down to join us and they've all been helping out to get things ready. Every single bed in our residence building is full and no one is complaining. It's been so fun to hang out and have our partners get to know each other. We have people here from Washington, Alberta, BC,and Saskatchewan. Our staff and workers are thrilled to have so many people here as well. We had a fantastic leaders meeting with all of our Haitian staff leaders and our international board yesterday. All but two of our board members are here with us, as well as a large number of the Roberts family- our matriarch, Claire, as well as her two sons, Lane and James (who are Haiti ARISE Chairman and Vice-President) and their wives Michelle & Margaret, as well as three of her grandchildren- Micah, Emily and Nicole.
We had some artists from a mountain town called Vallue come to paint some murals on our walls at the entrance of the property. It is strikingly beautiful! I can't wait for tonight's activities. It's going to be so much fun. We have a famous Haitian comedian called Tonton Bicha coming as well as a gospel group called Dit. It's going to be so much fun, and it will be interesting to see if all of our foreign visitors will be able to understand the skits since they will be in Creole. 😀

Here is an album of photos you can see all the activity of the preparations.

 

Wednesday
Nov052014

Thrilled!

I can't believe how thrilled I am to be back in Haiti. I feel so much more at home here than in Canada. Wierd to say... but it's like that old TV sitcom, Cheers (yes, I was a bit corrupted as a child to watch this as a family show). Norm always loved going to the bar, cause that's where everyone knew his name. He was at home there. I could definitely say that of Haiti. There is no striving to feel like I belong, I just do. Despite my blazing white color and blond hair, no one here seems to even notice anymore. They are quick to embrace me, to be sincerely happy to see me, ask how all the kids are and hug me some more. Even the lady at the Natcom office where we get our internet and phone service. Love it. They do, however, always remark how I've gotten 'gwo', bigger, even if I have not gained weight, cause in Haitian pleasantries, this is a highly flattering comment- not one I particularly enjoy, but accept because I know they mean to compliment me. 

This trip is going to go by too fast. I can already tell. I left the kids behind in Canada, much to their dismay and contrary to their begging to come along. We've all missed Haiti this fall, (although it has been one of the most beautiful Canadian falls we've had), but since they are still engaged in various activities, I could not bring them and I can only stay away from them for a short time. It's a new feeling to travel without the herd of kids in tow. I actually went into a grocery store in PAP the day we landed and DIDN'T buy anything! It was a rereshing feeling to be saving money, since I didn't have anyone to buy something for! No diapers needed, no special cereal or snacks... wonderful. 

I traveled down specifically for the Grand Opening, but with James Roberts (our Canadian HA vice-president) and a team of electrical guys from Eastside City Church. I was glad to have Olive Ralph, Roy's (aka Papa Noel) wife, join us as well as Edna Vega also from ECC, so I was not the only female. Hard to compete with all those die-hard Roughrider fans. I did manage to force them all out of green and into their Haiti ARISE team t-shirts though before entering Haiti, even James! He's such a rebel at heart, but who can resist complying with a sassy, bossy female. :) So they are all working hard to get the elecrtrical worked out and installed in the new Tech School shops. We've purchased a new generator to power the shops and James and Bill went on a shopping trip to get all the supplies. And the team brought lots of stuff along in our bags.

We also have three great couples here long term- Wade and Marilyn Fitzpatrick are back as Team Hosts, Paul and Diane Sampson are here to work in the clinic and in the mechanics shop, and Laurens and Louisa VanVliet are here as our Agriculture and Goat Program Developement Coordinators. It is such a pleasure seeing God's provision for what we need in the way of skills and human resources. Laurens and Louisa are busy getting the grounds ready with landscaping, Diane is painting the clinic, Paul is working with the team and servicing all of our inverters, batteries and fixing AC units, and Wade and Marilyn are moving things around to prepare more rooms to fill with all of our guests coming for the Grand Opening. We have about 40 more people set to come Nov 10-14. Can't wait. It's going to be such a blast with some of our best friends and partners here with us to celebrate. So, we are all working hard, getting things up and going... I, of course, am making sure everything has enough money to get done and preparing for some artistic decorations, and taking lots of fun pictures as I go. Look, we have a new sidewalk going to the clinic!

Last word. I of course am sooo thrilled to be back with my amazingly handsome husband. I'm complete with him.

Friday
Aug292014

End of Summer

It's amazing how quickly the summer sun seems to shy away behind the clouds of rainy days as the fall hastily approaches. I keep praying the cold weather will hold off a little longer, or I will be longing to get back to Haiti sooner than later. It's nice to be in Canada when it is bright and sunny, but the cold... well, it makes me rethink. It has been a busy summer and our busyness is not done yet. We still have about eight more churches to visit, our AGM and board meeting coming up September 19th and the MFI Leadership conference to attend. And in the midst of all that, we are working on developing our little basement in our Airdrie townhouse to make a little more room for the kids while we are here in Canada. So the rest we always hope to find while we are back in Canada, before being thrust back into our activities in Haiti, seems to elude us. We do get a sort of rest- more time as a family and couple together, a chance to travel and enjoy the beautiful countryside, and visit lots of our friends and family. So it's all good. We sure are learning a lot though about construction and the differences in building practices and styles from here and Haiti. Drywall mudding and taping to me is like art and I enjoy it, while 'boarding' (in laymen's terms, putting up drywall), is NOT my favorite, especially in a stairwell on the ceiling. By the end of each day, Marc and I are so stiff, we each take a nice hot bath or shower and then collapse in bed. We have big hopes to get this little project done before Oct 15 when Marc will be heading back to Haiti. We will see... I can understand how homeownership can become so life consuming for some people. It is important to have a secure, comfortable and restful home and really neat that you can have the possibility to express your passions and talents through things like gardening or home projects, but there is something freeing when we choose to live simpler and not so consumed with just our own desires or environment. We did not have a home in North America for seven years. It was hard to be a nomad when we'd travel around all summer, but we were also free in a way of the burden of homeownership maintenance. I don't know, there are pros and cons... I am actually very grateful that we now have a home in Canada to come back to and to be able to provide a place of security and stability for our children. Between our home here and in Haiti, they know where they belong, whereas when all we did was travel they were always wondering where we would be next. Yet, I think there can be a marriage of security and simplicity while still having a heart to be free so we don't miss opportunities to reach out and go beyond ourselves and our own environment. That's what I strive to teach my children.

Meanwhile, back in Haiti things have still been busy. We get news regularly from our Controller, Kerby Aristhene, who calls us with updates and questions on the activities happening around Haiti ARISE. There has been a lot of church activities with the youth, children and women's groups. (Check out the Haiti ARISE facebok page, as Sylvio posts a lot of pics) Construction has continued on three homes we assisted in building and on the construction of a storage depot next to the newly finished carpentry shop. We are really excited about the container that was shipped from Vancouver, as it finally arrived on site in Grand-Goave, with all contents safe and sound and accounted for. A big thank you to James Roberts and Eldon Ortlieb who coordinated the loading and shipping of the container, and Lifeline Christian Mission, also located in Grand-Goave, who helped us by receiving the container for us in port and helping it to clear customs smoothly. This container will be a tremendous blessing to the technical school as it has all the tools necessary to well equip our shop classes for carpentry, mechanics and welding. (I'll be sending pics right away in a newsletter.) We can't wait to get down there to set up the shops! I can't wait also for the Grand Opening that is scheduled for November 11-13, 2014. This is going to be an amazing time with lots of important people present! In preparations for that, our staff has also been hard at work planting flowers, landscaping, writing invitation letters to government officials and planning for the ceremonies.We also will be having an electrical/plumbing specific team coming just before on November 1 to help us get some final things set up and resolved. I am hoping to travel down with them if I can secure childcare for two weeks.

I'm getting my head ready to get back into homeschooling with the kids. Classes for the elementary school and technical college should be opening back up very soon as September is right around the corner. We have a number of young people as well that have been a part of our Education Fund program who have graduated from high school and will be continuing on into college. It is so exciting seeing this next generation of youth rise up and many of them are eager to learn so that they can in turn serve their community and Haiti ARISE Ministries.

I just want to thank you all who support Haiti ARISE and us, the Honorat family, in your prayers, friendship and financial support. Without you all, we could not be making the difference we are in Haiti today! And we want you to stay involved with us! Many hands makes the work light. So make sure you come and register with us in our upcoming events:

Annual General Meeting- September 19 @ 5-8pm being held at Eastside City Church, 1311 Abbeydale Dr. SE, Calgary, Alberta. Dinner will be provided. You can register online at: www.haitiarise.org/agm-registration/

Ride for Refuge- Oct 4, 2014- Join us for the ride! You can bike and help us raise funds for Haiti ARISE. Check out how to be involved by visiting the www.rideforrefuge.org site and make sure you do it in support of us! We already have four teams signed up to ride in Red Deer, Calgary and Saskatoon. You can ride or support.

Grand Opening- Nov 11-13, 2014- This will be the major event of Haiti ARISE's history thus far. Ten years in and we are finally having it! We can't want to see all of you who are joining us for these celebrations. If you have not solidified your plans to come yet, register online at: www.haitiarise.org/event-registration/

Can't wait to see you all!

Wednesday
Aug062014

Traveling in the Sun

We have taken to the road now. Done with flying for the moment and sticking to the pavement. We took a few flying trips already this summer to Oregon, Washing and California and although I love the destinations, I don't love all the flying.

It is a beautiful summer in Canada this year, making me so grateful to the Lord to be here and have time to spend with our family. While we are traveling to promote Haiti ARISE and share updates with our partners and new churches and individuals, we are also taking time to hang out in between with lots of precious friends and our kids. We left Airdrie on Friday, August 2 to venture across the mountains on the Canada long weekend. We braved the roads of RV's and people fleeing the city to go to some other destination away from home for the few days off work. We were pretty lucky to find a campsite in Sicamous that evening, that was even complete with pancake breakfast in the morning. The kids were thrilled, both for the tenting time and the breakfast. Then we hit the road on to Agassiz. We spent an awesome few days with our friends, Laurens and Louisa Van Vliet, who spent a number of months in Haiti with us this past spring teaching agriculture and they are now heading up our Agriculture Steering & Development Committee and planning to return again to Haiti in the fall to venture on some more researching for getting the goat farm up and off the ground. We had a fabulous chance at a Brunch on the farm on Monday morning at our dear family friends, George and Debra Boyes' place, The Farm House Natural Cheeses. These guys have actually been our inspiration for starting a goat farm in Haiti and they are doing an amazing job at providing homemade, fresh cheeses, butter, milk, creams... and encompassing the neighboring natural local farmers products by showcasing them all in an annual Brunch, a beautiful spread of gourmet foods all locally grown and produced.

We also got to visit our friends at Surrey Alliance Church and thank them for their tremendous support over the last year in helping with the operating costs of the technical school as well as sending a fabulous team of hardworking tradesmen and artists. Great friends there, and kids that our kids love there too. Then Monday evening the Van Vliets hosted a lovely BBQ at their place for people who wanted to connect and hear more about Haiti ARISE. We got to visit with some old friends and make some new ones. Now we are taking a few days to visit our dear friends in Abbotsford, the Krahns, on their blueberry farm with their brood of kids (9 to be exact.) We got right to work picking juicy, plump, purple berries with them, of which they have a huge abundance this year.

After this, we will head to the Okanogan to visit Roy and Olive Ralph and have a little camp out there for a few days. Can't miss out on some Up and Down the River card games! Then we will head to Nelson, BC for a week to hang out with our dear friends and adopted ma and pa, Pastor Jim and Doreen Reimer. We'll also drop in at Castlegar Christian Fellowship and a new church contact in Fruitvale before heading back home.

This road trip is a welcome little break to some development work we've been doing in our Airdrie townhouse basement in an attempt to make a little more living space for our kids while we are in Canada. Once we get back home there, we'll get back to work. Actually, since I mentioned it, if there is anyone in the Calgary area that has any contractor type skills at all and would like to come help out, we would sure welcome a few more hands. We are eager to get this done before heading back to Haiti in the fall. And hiring contractors sure is expensive! Ouch!

Well, here's to enjoying the Canada sun and heat! Lord, let it last! And thank you for all of our dear friends and partners you have allowed us to meet over the years, which make trekking across Canada so fun.

Monday
Jul282014

Flying High? 

I seriously need to rant a little about the whole airport experience these days. Anyone who's had to fly, would you agree? It used to be novel and enjoyable, with an excitement to venture somewhere far away and new and those assisting you at the airport used to share with you in this excitement. But nowadays, it's just a big pain in the butt once you walk into the airport til the moment you're finally sitting in your seat on the plane.
Let's walk together through the agony of checking in and security... Unless you are part of the elite Business class, or have your Star, Gold, Latitude, Priority or whatever other tier you've managed to reach from racking up frequent flyer points or paid extra for those few extra inches of leg room, then you'd be waiting in line with me while that isle on the other side of the line divider stays virtually empty. (I'm not bitter to those who have reached a higher tier, just find the ladder a bit ridiculous. Marc reached Priority once and was fun while it lasted.) It's even better if you have the privilege of traveling with an infant, whom you can never enter on your booking itinerary online or beforehand. I'm usually refused at the little electronic check-in kiosk that's supposed to make life easier since I have an infant- why wouldn't they make the process easier FOR those traveling with children?? It takes extra long for the agent to figure out how to get the lap infant onto my boarding pass, but eventually it's all squared away, after paying an extra tax for baby. Ok, on ahead to security, the most joyous part of the adventure. They have the line for families and handicapped at most airports now, which is a nice gesture, but does not actually get you on ahead of anybody, since I always seem to be the target of random selection for screening. Ok, why would a mother with five kids in tow bother transporting drugs or bombs?? Just sayin'. And why in the world do they have to check your boarding passes five times in the same line up?! I love it when they tell you to put your boarding pass in your passport with the photo page open in one line. Then at the next line you enter they tell you something different, with a slight attitude at your perceived stupidity for not knowing what you're 'supposed' to do. Pretty soon too you're not gonna be allowed to travel with any liquids, gels, gum, metals, foods, or electronics... Maybe not even paper! Can you believe that a security scanner picked up that I had a paper receipt in my pocket and I was told to remove it? Heck, it'd be easier to travel in your bathing suit and then buy what you need at your destination. (I dream of a day when that's all I will need to travel with on my way to an exotic beach destination...but that's besides the point.) Then at least I wouldn't have to unpack my whole carry-on in front everyone to expose all my belongings, or have my body scanned through my clothes.
Well, since I'm a conspiracy theorist, I think it's all a big scam to force us to buy more- $5 bottles of water, $10 sandwiches. Or maybe it's all politics, a way to avoid the real issue of why the whole security process even had to be instituted- extremist terrorists who, from what I've followed mostly seem to be from the same type of people group. Maybe I'll get myself in trouble saying so, but it is a free country with freedom of speech, right? Instead of making us all suffer with cumbersome security systems and processes that waste a whole lot of our time and energy, why can't they profile based on those groups who've posed the threats in the past? (I'm not at all meaning to comment racially.) Why are these 'random' security checks posed on the vast majority of innocent travellers just trying to get to their exciting destinations? I know, it's all in the name of safety, for the common good, while we risk losing our rights of freedom, privacy and who knows what else.
Today, we had an early morning flight, thankfully with no kids this time and it was a bit less painful. But they tell you to be there two hours before. Security wasn't even open when we got there two hours before. Marc and I were the first ones in line and what do ya know, they had to screen us. Seriously? The first ones in line? I jokingly asked the officer if that body scanner they made me stand in causes cancer. He didn't seem to think that was funny. Then when they told me I had to have my hands swabbed to check for chemical residue, the machines weren't even ready yet. I tried to lightly joke with them again that they were getting right on it first thing in the morning and again not amused. I know they are just doing their job, but do they gotta be so serious to make you all nervous like they are going to find out some secret sin of yours before you're able to escape on your voyage? What have we done anyway? We're just trying to get to that fun getaway.
Well, we finally get through and to our gate. When called to board, the list if all the elite tiers is rattled off for priority boarding and THEN pre-boarding for those who may need a little extra time with little ones or elders. I'm sorry, but how is that pre-boarding if half the plane is already loaded with the elites? What really cracks me up is when they finally call economy class passengers, but you better not go into the Priority boarding side of the lines even though it's empty and there's two agents taking tickets.
Kay. I think I've said enough for now. Maybe another time I'll rant about the actual airlines and immigration. That's another load. I do want to say of all the flights I've taken lately, I appreciate Westjet the most. They really do try to bring the fun back into flying high, once you get through check-in and security. I guess a solution to this experience would just be to not fly. Unfortunately, that's impossible for our lifestyle.

Thursday
Jun052014

Party til the end

Well, we made it. In five hours we will be on our way to the airport and still none of our family have contracted the epidemic virus, Chikungunya that's hit Haiti. We've been praying so hard. Unfortunately, Marilyn got it and one of the members on the EMI team that was here this week, but Marilyn is ding much better and hopefully no others will get it.
We all leave the campus tomorrow, so today was a pretty crammed day getting everything done. All those last minute loose ends and many others that you didn't expect to pose themselves, were in a mad rush to get accomplished. The list of priorities kept shifting each day as we've gotten closer to departure, yet there still has been time to teach the youth worship team a dance, enjoy some goodbye parties, take Bibles back to the prison and gather all of our staff for EMI team's last day presentation of what plans they are developing for us. The ladies group together with the young girls club put on a lovely party for me, Marilyn and Elisa tonight. They all shared some encouraging words, prayers, some songs and the girls even danced. We eat cake and drank pop and gave lots of sweaty, enthusiastic hugs goodbye. I love these women so much, an exceptional bunch and it's a blessing to be a part of them. The girls choir also had a party for Miesha, Jasmine and Ariana. I think they had a blast, as their singing and dancing was louder than ours. They all left with candies, drinks and dresses made from pillowcases that a friend from Strathmore gave this year. Then we ended tonight before packing the rest of our bags w a party for Kiki, our little guy that lives w us. He's 10 years old and is an orphan. He'll be staying with our nanny, Nadia, while we are gone, then come back home when we return in the fall to our house. He's already considered an Honorat, just doesn't carry the name officially...yet.
Yesterday, the boys club had a party too for Asher, complete with cake and a trophy for their soccer tournament. The only one who didn't get a party this time was Marc and Austin, which didn't bother either of them. They were too busy eating the cake from the others.
Elisa and I went back to the prison w Johny Laguerre, one of our youth workers and Musset who is our Tech school director. It was a long day and they wanted us to distribute the Bibles, not just drop them off, which it's a good thing we did cause so many others wanted the Bibles too. I was even shocked at two men in civilian attire actually grabbed two out of our hands while we were giving them to the prisoners and were forceful about it. I didn't know at the time they were policemen, but I was really mad at them, cause we had just enough and I thought we'd be short. The prisoners were all so grateful, lots of them started reading right away. Some of them passed us thank you notes. We were glad to find that 8 of the 135 prisoners we met in Sunday had been released. Some prayers answered for sure.

The EMI team worked hard this week to develop further plans for our campuses. Tomorrow they will continue on to Port Salut to go visit our friends we just saw a few weeks back. They are just getting started with their work and have similar vision.
I'm going to miss Haiti of course, but looking forward to getting away from the heat and this epidemic going around here. Also look forward to seeing our Canadian and American friends and family.

Sunday
Jun012014

Prison visit

Today we went to visit the prison after church. Our women's group and men's group from the church, about 25 people in total. Our ladies group all gathered their resources together- rice, beans, oil, canned fish. We prepared the meal before church as well as hygiene packs for each of the 150 prisoners. Our men's group bought drinks and we went w money in our pockets for any unseen needs. Our Canadian friends, Elisa and Mark, came and contributed too. They both have a heart to see those unjustly imprisoned provided legal assistance. This was an introduction for them of just how rough the just system, or lack there of, is in Haiti.

In Haiti prison is no cushy place. This is a missionary visit that is a very difficult experience. The prison we came to visit was in Petit Goave, the next town after Grand Goave.The station is dilapidated and rundown, paint peeling off the walls and the smell of urine and sweat fills the air. I can't imagine it's a smell anyone can get used to even after being here a while. Those that land here are in deplorable conditions. There are two cells, maybe rooms that are 12' x 12', and each was holding 73 men. There's no space for all of them to lay down. If one has been in jail a long time more than the others, he may have the privilege of a makeshift hammock tied w a sheet and rope. If others want to have a little rest in it they'd have to pay about $20 US. Many innocent prisoners are here with little hope of being released if they don't have a lawyer or family to fight for them. Most prisoners don't eat every day since families have to bring food for them. Even those who so have family that bring them food may not get to eat much of it since other prisoners take their share. There is no place in the cell for them to relieve themselves, there's no beds let alone a mattress and some don't even have clothing to put on.
We arrived around 1pm and were well received by the policemen on duty. We had to request permission from the court ahead of time, so with our letter of approval it was not difficult to get in. We first visited the prisoners, standing in the corridor of the two cells, gate locked behind us and many arms reaching through the bars towards us. We sang and prayed for them, with many expressing sincere thanks and passing out notes to us with their names and requests for prayer, sandals, money, legal assistance with some even stating the reason that landed them there. We promised them all we would pray for them. Then we served them rice and beans by bowls that were passed by chain into the cells, later accompanied by the hygiene packs. We were even able to have funds to give every prisoner 100 gourds, which is only about $3 US each, but can still help them buy some sandals or crackers.
The visit deeply affected everyone in our group, but most of all Elisa and Mark as well as Jean Sylvio who accompanied us on the trip. Last year he fell into a situation that landed him in one of those cells. In fact, that was the reason for my first prison visit when he was there. He was very somber and reflective and openly shared about his own experience in the prison and his gratitude for the grace of God on his life to be free today.
While we were sitting back after and watching as family and friends brought food in, I was looking around at this seemingly God-forsaken hell hole (excuse the expression), and suddenly a small bird flew right into the station, landed on a table to peck at some dropped pieces of rice, flitted around and then flew away. I was struck by the startling contrast of beauty and freedom against this hopeless backdrop of bondage, as though God was reminding me that no matter how deplorable this situation looked, He is still in control, the Maker of even the birds of the air that are clothed in splendour and do not toil for their food and that He can care for even the least of these prisoners where they are. After all, isn't that the very reason He sent us, to care for the orphan and widow and visit the prisoner in their distress? That is true religion, doing the will of the Father. And if that is a part of what He has called us to as missionaries, I am more than happy to endure the pungent smells and deplorable sights to fulfill His will.

Here's a few photos. We weren't allowed to take any inside, but this is just out front and some of out group after we distributed. Tomorrow we will be sending 150 Bibles too.