After an “extended” and interesting furlough we are finally back in Haiti. We returned on jedi (creole for Thursday), August 6. It is good to be back! After so much uncertainty and watching plan after plan change and scheduled thing after scheduled thing fall through it just feels good to be here. We have decided to self-quarantine on our campus for 14 days. Not because it is required but out of respect and courtesy to our Haitian friends and co-workers. We have been able to be welcomed back by many behind masks and at a safe social distance. This has been hard and is especially hard for Haitians as they are so used to giving hugs and even a kiss on the cheek when being greeted. Even though we are staying on campus for two weeks and limiting our interactions with people, we have already been very busy getting unpacked, settling back in, establishing daily rhythms, practicing our Creole (thus the play on words in the title), and working in our respective areas. You can read about those things below.
Haiti is beautiful this time of year. It’s the rainy season so everything is nice and green. There was a fairly slow start to the rains but July was one of the wettest Julys the locals can remember and we’ve had some nice rains in August as well. These rains are so good for the crops that are planted and to replenish the ground water that is needed at the community wells. Haiti is also hot (and humid) this time of year. We are adjusting to this heat but without any means to get out of the heat it is just….hot. So, we try to focus on the beauty of Haiti while our bodies re-acclimate to the weather.
Covid is in Haiti too! It is impossible to know exactly how many cases are here due to a substandard health care system and very limited testing. Haitians will not accept the facts that this virus exists and is impacting lives in Haiti. They are calling what we can only assume is Covid a ”fever outbreak.” People are sick. People are dying. But this was true every day in Haiti before Covid hit. There is no good health care system in Haiti. Virtually no testing (except for the wealthy who live on the coasts and have access to “better” health care than the 98% rest of the country. So we will never really know the true impact of this novel coronavirus on this poor country and on these poor people. Those who have the symptoms are reluctant to admit them for fear of being known as someone who has karonavirus. There are cases of people thought to have Covid being shunned, ostracized, persecuted (murdered or houses burned down). Sad!
A perhaps even bigger threat to Haitian life is the national and local economies. The value of the gourde (Haitian currency) continues to plummet as inflation rates continue to rise. The current exchange rate against the U.S. dollar is 119/1. Just this past January it was 92/1 and exchange rate when we moved here in October of 2018 was 71/1. Prices for all goods and services have gone up substantially and as desperation sets in the incidents of crime and risks for safety increase. The opportunities to bring the hope of life in Jesus are huge at this time and we are praying that many will renounce Voodoo and put their trust in God alone.
The De Ruiters – MH4H
C/O Missionary Flights International
Unit 1045 – MH4H
3170 Airman’s Drive
Fort Pierce, FL 34946
Prayer Requests for this month
1. For our health and safety. Especially at this time of Covid and the economic problems. We’ve always been safe but as you/we know all too well, we have not always been healthy.
2. For God to use us in mighty ways to point new believers to Christ and to strengthen the faith of those who already share our faith in God alone.
3. For MH4H as we restart our PMJ feeding programs, our school, and our other Love in Action programs. That as people/children/staff assemble to participate, they will be kept safe from the deadly effects of Covid-19.
4. For wisdom for our American and Haitian staffs as together we make decisions about how to move forward as a ministry in the midst of a global pandemic and national economic crisis.
5. For us as a couple as we adjust to life back in Haiti.
WHAT THE FOODIE IS UP TO
Being back to the island feels good. I don’t think I realized how much not knowing if/when we would return colored my days. We are grateful to be here and are choosing to see the beauty of both places we call home. I recognized this choice as opportunity when I paired blueberries (from Michigan via Fort Pierce, FL Walmart), with mangoes from a friend here. The color contrast is undeniable, and each on its own, although beautiful in rich hues and bountiful in flavor is less striking. But the combination of colors and tastes exceeds the experience of each individually. Just as we are finding the combination of living in Haiti and the US surpasses our previous careers or communities in so many ways. Choosing to see this beauty where we are helps minimize homesickness. I’m grateful for God’s gifts of beauty and flavor in more than just food.
A solar dehydrator turned up and I am in the process of trying to dry mangoes. I’ve heard they turn black, but Google didn’t say anything about that, so I am giving it a go. Other things that could be dehydrated here couu we weren’t here when these were in season). I am curious too to see if/how our Haitian staff and friends use this dehydrator. They have been dehydrating long before I found this gadget. They might consider this one superfluous!
This week we were able to participate in a staff prayer walk on our campus. I had been a part of planning this before I left in January and it was sweet to join our staff in covering our land in prayer. I pictured the wind taking those prayers to our surrounding community and the truth of God’s love infiltrating hearts and homes.
God in the recipes we find ourselves in – the jobs, relationships, situations, and locations – show us not only how to be the salt,
but to allow you to determine the amount of our efforts, words, and gifts needed
and to determine when our efforts, words, and gifts are best applied in situations. Don’t allow us to oversalt and ruin the entire recipe.
Give us trust to believe that we may only need to be a subtle boost – not the main flavor. Let it be said of us that others might not even discern we are part of the recipe. Let us be content to be the ones who tenderize a tough situation, allowing others to be a part of the main course. Let us be the reason that others can grow and live into their gifting, because we showed up at the right time in the right ways. And let us seek to not make our saltiness known as the main experience of a recipe but let us actively seek to enhance all the other flavors in the recipes we are a part of.
Go, taste and see,
and may it be said of you
– you are the salt of the world.
Even though Shelly and I are self-quarantining on campus (not necessarily in our apartment) I have been extremely busy since arriving on August 6. My primary ministry focus has been on the school restart scheduled for Monday, August 17. Our School of Light Preschool and First Grade in our Sylvain Christian School of Light have not been operating since March 19. Normally our school year would end in mid-June and the next school year start up in early September. Obviously this year has been unique and disruptive in so many ways. The Haitian government has given permission for regions to decide how best to wrap up the 2019-20 school year and to begin the 2020-21 school year. For schools in the Pignon area we will run a 4 or 5 weeks session that will conclude the 19-20 school year. Our session will run from August 17-September 18. There are some mandated protocols that need to be in place and enforced for schools to operate and we have been busy establishing these for our school and preparing the physical learning spaces to allow for the required 1-meter social distancing between students. Because our classrooms are larger than typical classrooms in Haiti and because we limit our class sizes to 20-25 children per class, we will be able to meet this requirement fairly easily. Yay!!! We have other protocols to follow (daily temp checks at the gate, how students will eat, use the bathrooms, have recess, not share cups and school supplies, etc.) but believe we have a good plan to accomplish these. I had a meeting with our instructional staff on August 10 to go over the plan and to discuss our educational strategies and learning goals for this session. All eight of our ed staff are ready to return to work and teach their students again. I had a meeting with all of the parents on August 11 to inform them of the protocols and procedures for school to operate. It has been a long five months for them and our students so everyone is excited that school will be happening again. It’s time to learn!!!
You may recall from previous reports that MH4H also sponsors students (119 of them) in three schools in Sauvanette (approx. 3 miles north of Pignon). These three schools plan to a follow similar schedule to us. As mentioned above, the 2019-20 school year will conclude on September 18. There will then be about a month off to prepare for the 2020-21 school year which is scheduled to begin for these schools and for ours on Monday, October 12. I will meet with the leaders from these school on or around September 1 to make our first (of three) payments. These payments help to provide for the tuition and school uniforms for these sponsored children. Some of you reading this are sponsors for these students or students/children at our school and I want to thank you so much for this as your support makes operation of our schools and education for these precious children possible. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor please click here.
Our goats herd is doing fantastic! I won’t say much about them this month but will try to feature them in another blog post. Maybe October when we anticipate a bunch of baby goats arriving.
UNTIL NEXT MONTH…