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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.


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.


One more week... To escape fever

Well we are holding out for one more week. Next Friday we fly out back to North America making a stop through Ontario to visit Oshawa Community Church and Impact Church in Kingston, Ontario. The weeks just before we leave Haiti are always crammed busy with preparations getting ready, as well as lots of people wanting to see us before we leave. They all want to get there last-minute request in before we leave for the summer. There are also lots of meetings to plan for programs that are going to happen in our absence and to prepare materials and resources for each group of the church and ministry to use all we are gone. We have a great leadership team that will help keep things going strong over the summer months with mostly church activities happening. The elementary school will close in June and the technical school closes for vacation in July, then there will be kids programs, youth programs, women's programs and men's programs for the church. This Sunday before we go, the women's and men's group from the church are going to visit the prison in Petit Goave. We've had our friends Mark and Elisa visiting from Canada this week and they will be accompanying us and tomorrow we will go check out the port in Miragoane. A team from EM I just arrived today will be helping us with further plan developments for our campuses and projects. I haven't had time to think about packing yet although the girls have already packed their carry-on suitcases. I'll probably need to check what they've packed, but they've done a pretty good job as they are eager themselves and ready to go.

My main concern right now is getting out of Haiti healthy and strong with our family and our other missionaries and mission team that are here right now. There is been an epidemic fever that has spread across Haiti and throughout the Caribbean called Chikungunya, which is so painful in the bones and causes major swelling in the glands that most people who get it can't even get up and walk. It seems to affect those who are under stress or already weak or worse, but it can be debilitating for up to two weeks or more. There have even been some reported cases of death because of the fever, but seemingly only in children or older adults who were already weak. This is a completely new fever for Haiti and probably the Caribbean. They say it has been in Africa and southeast Asia since the 1950s but is just started to make its way over to the Western Hemisphere. It's carried by two kinds of mosquitoes that carry the same fever called Dengue and there's no vaccine or treatment known for it except pain relievers. I'm praying hard that none of us get it as we cannot afford to lose any days before we go nor can I imagine travel with this kind of sickness. For the past week we've kept the kids inside the house as much as possible, sprayed them constantly w repellent and even spray the house so that no mosquitoes have the opportunity to bite us after they have bitten another person with the fever. I even had to opt out of our all-night prayer service tonight in order to keep the kids home. More than half of our staff and our church people have contracted the fever and it seems like people are dropping like flies around us. Please pray with us and keep us in your prayers that this fever will not hit our family or any other missionaries. Please also pray for our staff that no more are affected and that those that are sick are healed quickly.
We are eager to get back to Canada and start traveling to share about all the awesome things that God has done this year. I would say in the last six months this fever is the only bad thing that's really happened. And I praise God for that! It has been an amazing time to see what He has been able to accomplish through the mission teams that we have had come down and the operations of all of the ministries going on. Today we had a great staff meeting with those that could be there evaluating the year together. We asked them three questions:
1. In your sector what do you believe Haiti ARISE has accomplished this year?
2. Overall how do you feel Haiti ARISE has impacted the community?
3. How have you personally contributed to the vision of Haiti ARISE?

Their group answers were inspiring and encouraging as they all shared them with everybody. It was also a great activity to help them see how much they have helped accomplish this year. For those of you that will be joining us for our Annual Meeting in September, we will be sure to share the results with you! Now as we get ready to go we are looking forward to seeing all of you when we come to visit your church and area. If you would like us to come to your church and we are not yet scheduled, please make sure you get in touch with us as we will be so happy to visit with you.
Also stay posted for our newsletter which will be coming out shortly and share a bit of an overview of what's been happening.


I love Haiti

This week I have really been grateful for where God has placed me. I love Haiti. I think Haiti has changed me more than I could change Haiti, or shall I better say that God has used Haiti to change me and teach me many lessons. I know a lot of our missionaries and teams say so too when they just come on a short trip. I remember my first mission trip to Jamaica that absolutely changed my life.... Why? Why does Haiti or other places have such a profound impact on people's lives? I have lots of theories, full of those. Lots of spiritual principles I can see that apply, but I don't know if I can ever fully explain the mysteries of God's ways at work in our lives to teach us and grow in us.
Here are a few things this week I am grateful for that have been teaching me some good lessons:
Haitians know how to pray, with fervency and passion. Out of necessity, out of their prospective poverty, they know their humble place and when you call for a prayer service, people come. We've had two, powerful all night services of prayer full of people and prayer that is not just this quiet, keep to yourself kind of reflective prayer. No, it's noisy, Scriptures being read loudly, arms waving wildly, voices crying out in song and cries. It's beautiful. One after another, someone gets up to the mic to motivate the prayers of the people, present prayer requests of repentance, liberty, healing- and not personal requests. Not simple requests of 'so and so has a cold,' or 'so and so needs food'. No, passionate, deep prayers. Even the children know how to pray! I have learned a great deal of how to press in and seek God for change of my own heart, for my family, for this country. Haiti has taught me this. In fact, when I think about it, this lesson started years ago when Marc and I were in Bible College and he would get up at 5am to prayer for two hours- EVERY MORNING! My lessons in prayer, though they started way back then, still stemmed from Haiti. My husband is still a passionate man of prayer today and still strives to inspire others to pray fervently for God to move.
I've also learned that living a life 100% for God and ministry in a foreign field (though it's Marc's homeland), provides a fertile ground for raising our kids to also be passionate about ministry. Today I was truly blessed as we went up to Tapion Church, our children/youth church up the mountain from Grand-Goave. Our young girls club from our church went up to assist in their service and build relationship w the youth there. Miesha and her friend, Norlie, came along to join us. To my surprise, Miesha offered to take the small kids w Norlie for them to lead the kids in so be and games. She and Norlie even led the little kids in a skit of Jesus. I just sat back and watched, with great contentment in my heart. After the Tapion service, I brought the girls back to our church for their choir practice. All my girls are singing and dancing with the girls choir, ages 3-13, and Miesha has a solo. I pray God keeps raises these kids of mine up to make an even bigger impact in the world than I.
Another great lesson I have learned in Haiti is to be content with what I have or what I am able to do. In North America we have way too much striving and for things that are not of lasting or eternal value. We are never satisfied w our clothes, our cars, our fitness, our hairstyles... In Haiti, Haitians do take great pride in what they do have. They dress sharp, like to have the latest hairstyles too, yet... there is still a great element of having to be content with the little they have. I have learned to sacrifice a lot living here in many material ways, but it has proven to be so life-giving and freeing to my spirit, not to mention I save lots of money not buying useless stuff. Even with the slim selection of food entrees has helped me be grateful. There is one reputable restaurant we frequent. The meals are consistently tasty, but the selection is either fried chicken or fried goat w plantains and salad. That's it. That's the menu. Nothing more, nothing less. Yet, it's the outing we look forward to all week long. In my eagerness to attempt an exercising program here, I seized the first pair of runners I found in some of the clothes missionaries left and started jogging. My route is always the same, from home to the campus, a whole 1 km, yet by the time I arrive, I am sweating enough to have run 5km, thanks to the humid temperature even at 7am. After twisting my ankle about four times on the rocky road, I decided I should content myself with walking instead. We then got to pick up some used bikes from the market, which I excitedly worked into my fitness program to save my ankles. To my luck, I have a knack for hitting ever single big rock or bump head on with force, but I am still happy. Happy to have a bike, happy to have an avenue to exercise and happy to save my ankles. I may not lose all the weight I would like to, but that's ok. In fact, Haitians think being a bit bigger is beautiful. I'm in the right place. :) My only problem is no matter how long I spend in the sun I still am as white as ever. I may braid my hair, speak perfect Creole, dance, sing and pray like a Haitian, but I'm still a very white American. Yet even in this, God has given me contentment. He has called me to be a vessel of reconciliation, a symbol of how God is reconciling the world and drawing them to Himself, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.


Learning to Pray

As a growing my walk with the Lord, I never cease to be amazed by God's amazing grace. He's constantly teaching me new truths and I am continually humbled by the faith that is model to me by the beautiful people He has called me to serve. We just finished a tremendous week for Easter with activities and programs in the church and then an amazing youth conference and finished up with a powerful four day crusade. Thousands of people came out with a hunger for the Lord. Some people were delivered and others received. The worship was so vibrant and lively. All of grand-Goave was able to hear the gospel because the sound system was so loud.
Now this week has been a real learning time for me in prayer. We had our first all-night prayer meeting Friday night and it was so intense, the Holy Spirit was moving in powerful ways. There is such a thirst and hunger for God's Spirit here that it is just overwhelming. The church was completely full by 8 PM and we prayed fervently and nonstop until two in the morning. People brang their sheets and blankets along with their kids to prepare to be there all night long. We sang praises, read the Psalms, and prayed loud and quiet at different times in the service. The new passion was ignited in my heart to pray even deeper than I have before. I have been thirsty for this. When I don't know what to pray I am encouraged by reading the Psalms and praying the Psalms. The atmosphere was so thick, it was a great preparation for Sunday morning. We had a good friend of ours come to preach in the church and he spoke a true message of repentance. Many fled to the altars at the end. I really feel that God is doing a new thing here in Grand-Goave, Haiti. Marc has called for all-night prayer meetings every Friday night for this month so that we can seek God for revival in this land. Most importantly, it's bringing a revival in my own heart. Thank you God for your amazing grace.


Fabulous Conference & Crusade

We just finished up a tremendous week of spiritual activity. We held our 2nd Annual Youth Conference with 300 youth in attendance and over 50 of our church people cooking, serving, cleaning, transporting and leading worship. I am especially blessed to see the quality of young leaders that are rising up in our ministry. I am so proud of them. It has been an amazing privilege in the last few months for me to work w the worship team and the children's workers and I am so impressed by these their passion for God.
We were very blessed to have Pastor Travis & Amy Hansen from Generations Church in Grand Prairie, Pastor Ed & Francine Allan from Daystar Church in Leduc, along with two great couples from their church, and Our dear friends and Chris and Rebecca Girvan who are now youth pastoring in Innisfail. These pastors shared their hearts with our youth and then preached powerful evangelistic messages each night at our four nights of crusade. There was overwhelming response and many conversion and rededications. We are feeling so spiritually recharged and full of Gods amazing presence. This is what it truly is all about! Thank you Jesus!


Easter Sunday

Today is the day that The Lord has made! What a beautiful Resurrection Sunday. It was Gods plan from the beginning to make a way to reconcile us back to Him so we could be in relationship w God. His Son was ready from the beginning to give His life. Throughout the OT he gave signs and types of men who served as a sign of the plan of salvation, starting with Adam, Abel, Enoch, Isaac, David, Jonah.... All the way to Jesus. And a Sunday morning like today God accomplished His plan of salvation by giving Jesus the victory over death! Hallelujah! We had a beautiful Good Friday service and Resurrection Sunday celebration today with all our choirs singing- men, women and kids.
Our girls have been practicing w their choir for weeks now and had new uniforms made, all decked out even down to matching ribbons and socks. So cute!


Blogging Blues

Ok, I think I have officially decided I am not a blogger. Not because I don't enjoy writing and recounting stories, but because the imposed expectation of a blog seems to be something that is done daily, and if not then at least weekly. I fall short on that account. I know it is important for everyone who may read this to know and be encouraged about what is happening here at Haiti ARISE, but with the pile of activities that always seem to be overflowing my plate, I often rely heavily on the teams to do the bulk of the blogging and story telling. And I have to say that there have been some good bloggers on our teams with great writing skills. I have enjoyed reading them myself to hear about their experiences and I am right here, participating with them in it!

Well, having said all that, it is ever more apparent our evident need for a media guy or gal, someone willing to step in and assist with our communications, social media, videos, website updates, photo galleries, etc, etc, etc... Any hands??

We've been having a lot of fun here distrbuting gifts over the last few weeks to sponsor kids and this Sunday we have our last horray doing so in our Sunday School party. From the gift catalogue purchases this year, we will be giving away 31 soccer balls, 17 baby packs, 38 Bibles, 2 clothing packs, 6 mosquito nets, 8 school supply packs, and some garden tools, as well as 11 goats, 5 pigs, and 26 chickens! Boy, its gonna be a party.

Then we are gearing up for a week full of activities- kids program, field trip for all of our church committees, special services for Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The following week we will be having a youth conference and then the crusade in town. Phew! I'm tired already and this week is supposed to be a vacation! It'll be fun though.

So for those who are faithful blog followers, I owe you a million apologies for not living up to the expectation of daily or even weekly blogs. Sigh. I have however been more actively posting photos on Twitter and Facebook, with Marc help even. So you can check us out there! And I am resolving to give some more attention to this blog. No promises, but I'll do my best to keep you in the loop! But hey, check out the Team Blogs for sure! They are exciting and fun to hear of their adventures and the projects they have contributed to.


February gone and spring has sprung

It's amazing how quickly time flies by. We have been so active here with the ministry and things moving forward. The agriculture classes are so excited to see their plants growing wildly as the rain and spring time has come. Marc is even one of the keen students excited about his being plants.
We've been distributing Bibles to pastors in the area for them to distribute in their churches. It is awesome to see how happy they are to receive these boxes. Thank you to the Gideons for making these Creole Bibles available to us! Mark also met with the Association of Pastors in Grand Goave to help plan for our crusade that's coming up this Easter. We will be having pastors Ed Allan and Travis Hansen and Christ Girvan coming from Alberta to help us with the youth conference and the crusade.

We are also eager to get the Christmas gifts distributed from our Online Gift Catalogue. They were supposed to go out in February, but due to some other events planned in the church and area during Mardi Gras break, we could not hold our gift distribution celebration. So we are busy making purchases and preparing to give out to all the sponsor students and plan for a celebration event during Easter break in April just before the youth conference and crusade.



January post

Wow, I for sure posted a great blog reviewing all of January's activities, but seems it was all for not, as it has disappeared into cyberspace. :(
To check out photos and what's been happening though, check out our FaceBook page for Haiti ARISE Ministries, or Lisa Honorat.