Living in Haiti for four weeks now can literally and figuratively be describe as a new “season” of life for us. Haiti does not have the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter that so many parts of the world have (we did miss seeing the Autumn colors this year). Haiti only has two seasons; the dry season and the rainy season. While we are still technically in the rainy season, the views and colors we see (mostly green) are here pretty much year round. Where we live in the Central Plateau region of Haiti it is stunningly beautiful and we are enjoying our views of this part of creation each day. Our adult kids have sent us pictures and videos of snow already falling and while we miss the beauty of snowfall, the tropical climate here is pretty nice. The metaphorical change of season for our lives is definitely one of adjustments: New daily schedules (and Haiti operates on daylight hours so presently that means we are often up at 4:30-5:00AM and heading to bed around 8:30-9:00PM). New foods to try and to eat. New jobs and responsibilities. New modes of transportation. New language to learn. New colleagues to work with and share space with. New connectivity challenges (i.e. internet). New daily noises (roosters, bleating goats, braying donkeys, LOUD Haitian music, LOUD “conversations,” motorcycles coming and going). Varying water temps while showering. Navigating the roads without any road signs, traffic signals. And the list could go on and on. All this “new” is both exciting and difficult. It still seems surreal at times when we consider that a year ago from right now THIS was not on our radar at all. We continue to feel affirmed in our call and we are content to be in Haiti serving God and the beautiful people that live here, but it is not without its challenges so we continue to ask for your prayers for us, for MH4H, and for the country and people of Haiti. We are amazed by the outpouring of support that we are receiving through posts, prayers, and financial gifts. We truly are humbled to be here and are greatly encouraged to be in partnership with so many of you. #BetterTogether
"The metaphorical change of season for our lives is definitely one of adjustments."
Prayer Requests or this month
- For physical health and safety for us and our team.
- For our hearts, spirits, and minds as we adjust to all of the “new” on a daily basis.
- For acquisition of the Creole language. So, so needed for our work here.
- For our children and family back in the States.
- For protection against the dark spiritual forces as Satan is not pleased we are here bringing Truth and Light.
Some have asked how to send us mail. The mailing address is:
WHAT THE FOODIE THINKS – Shelly
Last month I used the word daunting, this month I am sticking with that word! Do you remember how in the t.v. show Sesame Street one of the first lines was always: “this episode is brought to you by the letter D? Well “this entire opportunity might be brought to us by the adjective daunting” Daunting can have different connotations, one of them meaning formidable and unnerving. Yes, living without a job and rhythms that gave structure to my week is unnerving. Learning a new language is definitely formidable. The last time I studied this hard was related to Physical Therapy – which is a language that has come easily to me. This new linguistic adventure – is not so easy!
Daunting can also mean awe-inspiring. The daily beautiful sun rises and sun sets are daunting in this way. When we moved to Holland three years ago I loved the beauty of all the trees, but missed the “big sky” of Iowa, with its expansive canvas for the display of day beginning and ending colors. Haiti has been a gift of blending the beauty of the Iowa wide sky with the beauty of Michigan trees. Even when I have days of feeling very much out of my element, the undeniable beauty of this country does settle me, as evidence of our creative God’s great love.
The chocolate avocado pudding was actually delicious, we even made it a second time!
One of my latest cooking attempts involved winter squash known as a “Haitian pumpkin”. I decided that I would prepare it the same way I have prepared pumpkins/squash in the US. Both roasting and cooking did not soften the slices. I tried cinnamon, sugar, and butter to create a pumpkin pie-esque dish. Still not a smashing success. With several different cooking styles/seasoning I was not able to find a way to savor the pumpkin. I am confident it still was nourishing for us – full of beta carotene, anti-oxidants, Lutein, immune boosting nutrients, etc., but it still was not savored.
Then last weekend I had some Soup Joumou – Haitian Pumpkin soup. This delicious dish is a historical tribute to Haitian independence in 1804. When independence was won, the newly freed slaves ate this soup that previously was not permissible for them to eat, celebrating their successful revolution and independence. So Haitian pumpkin in the right hands and cooking methods can be delicious
Conversely we had cooked lettuce the other night, not particularly a savory option either. In this culture lettuce isn’t eaten raw in salad form. Cooked lettuce and poorly cooked Haitian pumpkin both illustrate mistakes that can made when making decisions based on previous experience in new opportunities. And the reality I’m realizing even as typing this is that this is true everywhere. Maybe I needed a multi-sensory experience to learn this lesson that is available to all! So I’m chewing on this truth; taking take the time to learn from and about these people who have a history that colors all of life, I will gain nourishing gifts that point me to God, the divine source of life. So beyond pumpkin soup, I am watching to learn how to nourish (empower and encourage) and to savor (relish and honor) all those I share life with here in this part of the world.
Savoring the Divine,
"MH4H makes education programs a key aspect of its ministry."
DAWOL’s DOINGS – Darryl
My daily morning routine is pretty consistent. I’m up at daybreak, mostly because most of Haiti is up too and the noises are getting started (although the roosters have been crowing since 3:30AM), make myself a tumbler of coffee, head up to the rooftop for devotions and the sunrise, do a quick walk-about around campus just to see how things are going and if any of the staff that have arrived already need anything. We have staff devotions each weekday morning. These are Haitian led and done entirely in Creole. After devos I check in with my direct reports and then usually head to my desk in the admin building and create my TTD (Things to Do) list for the day, and I get to work knocking those things out. No two days are ever the same which makes for a nice variety.
I am overseeing three key areas of our in-country ministry, namely Education, Agronomy, and Leadership Development. I think what I’ll do is take one of these and give a little extended report on some of the happenings in these areas. This month and next I will share a bit about Education since this plays such a huge part in so much of what we do as a ministry organization.
MH4H recognizes that a key factor in creating and sustaining a healthy community (and society) is that its people are educated. The adult literacy rate in Haiti is right at 60% meaning that 4 out of every 10 Haitians cannot read or write. That maybe does not sound all that terrible until one considers that the Haitian government’s definition of being literate is whether or not a person knows the numbers and can sign their name. The reality is that the majority of Haitians, especially those that live in rural Haiti, cannot read or write. We have several programs that we run to help combat this and most of these educational programs operate under the umbrella of our Love in Action initiative. Our main ministry focus is on children and we operate a Christian preschool that has three classes (PS1, PS2, & PS3) of 20 students in each classroom. It’s called the Yellow Iron School of Light and it is a great school. We have a wonderful staff of six Haitian teachers and helpers who work with these students each day and are so dedicated. These children are so precious and they are learning so much. Our lead teacher, Juna, has been teaching for more than 10 years and states that our 3rd-year (PS3) students are at least a year and half ahead of where most Haitian children would be at this point in a “normal” Haitian school. Our teachers are licensed and we deliver a robust curriculum that includes Bible stories, creative and cooperative activities both inside and outside of the classroom. Our students also get to eat a hearty lunch each day and they receive periodic health assessments. I am so proud of this school and our staff and it is truly a highlight of each of my days to greet these beautiful sons and daughters of the King every morning. For the first couple of weeks they would call me “Blanc, Blanc, Blanc” (which just means “white, white, white”). Now they know me so I am greeted with healthy dose of “Mister Dawol, Mister Dawol.” #LoveIt
We also provide some educational opportunities to our parents as part of our Premye Mil Jou (First Thousand Days) program and I will share more about those next month. And of course, Shelly and I need our own type of education as we have started Creole lessons (see pic below) with an excellent Haitian tutor named Darling. 🙂
Until next month…