As the days and weeks, and even months now, click away it is amazing to consider that we have been living in Haiti for well over a year now. Life is good and life is hard but we continue to learn and grow in so many ways as we serve God and the Haitian people we are privileged to work with and live among. Not only are we learning their language (and the Creole is coming along a bit better now), but we are also learning so many other things about how to live, how to survive, how to function, and what it means to have little and yet have enough. It is fair to say that as time goes by we are changing, and hopefully for the better.

Speaking of time change, Haiti as a country officially recognizes the bi-annual time changes just like in the U.S. (FYI – Haiti is in the Eastern Time Zone). So in early November we moved our clocks and watches back an hour and enjoyed an extra hour of sleep. However…while the time change was official, the daily rhythms and routines of the local Haitians did not make the adjustment. You see in rural Haiti things don’t run as much on actual/official time as they do on when it gets light and when it gets dark. Might as well right? And besides, the roosters, Guinea Hens, Donkeys, and every other animal that starts making noise at the crack of dawn (or before) don’t have clocks. People showed up at church an hour early and rather than wait until the scheduled time, church just started. On Monday morning our cooks, who normally show up at 6:00AM, were there at 5:00AM. Even a couple of our teaching staff showed up an hour early. And of course the vast majority of our students showed up at 6:45, a whole hour before they needed to and before we allow them onto campus. Poor Wilson (our gate guard)! Ok, so you would think that this would happen just once right? Nope! While our staff figured it out quickly, we continued to have students showing up an hour early. This went on for at least a week or two and we even started a new “system” where we let them on campus but made them wait until 7:45AM before they could go to the school building. Perhaps the moms knew it earlier but figured since their kids we up might as well get them ready for school and send them off and let someone else watch them. Ha ha!

This year will mark the first time in our 33 years of marriage that we will not be with our kids, or with any family for that matter, for Christmas and New Years. This makes us sad for sure but our situation and circumstances simply do not allow it this year. We are grateful for the technology that does allow us to stay connected while we are apart. We’ll survive of course and we will find a new way to celebrate the birth of Christ and to bring in the new year. By the way, January 1 is Haiti’s Independence Day (1804) so it will be fun to observe this from up close.

A new decade awaits and it is sure to include some good, some hard, and some change(s). We are grateful for great friends and supporters who encourage us, pray for us, and who provide the financial support that is needed for us to be able to live and serve in Haiti at this time. We want to wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
PRAYER REQUESTS FOR THIS MONTH

  1. For Haiti as a country. While it seems as though the unrest has subsided a bit, there are still so many issues that remain unresolved. Pray specifically for peace and for a functioning government that will act in the best interest of its people.
  2. For opportunities to proclaim the true meaning of Christmas to the Haitians that we serve. Many know the story but don’t always live as though Jesus is Lord of all.
  3. For our health and protection. There are so many things that we are exposed to and driving in Haiti is simply risky business.
  4. For us as we spend Christmas away from loved ones.
  5. For the upcoming team season (which starts on January 2) which is lot of work but a ton of fun! Pray that the travel advisory does not jump back up to a Level 4 and cause teams to cancel, as was the case for most of the 2019 team season.
WHAT THE FOODIE IS UP TO!

The American staff here is doing a book study, and it is challenging us in big ways.  The book is called Reciprocal Missions: Short-Term Missions that Serve Everyone.  At MH4H our core word or mission is transformation, and that applies to EVERYONE -the Haitian pregnant mom, the Haitian who learns to garden or raise goats, the Haitian child who goes to our schools,  the Americans who work for MH4H, and the Americans that come to Haiti on an Experiential Learning Experience, aka a short term mission trip. Although we all love the results of transformation, the process is often longer than anticipated, filled with road blocks, and plain hard work.  This book is giving us much to think about when we are considering transformation potential of the Experiential Learning Experience (short term mission trip). Here is my favorite quote of the day from this book (I get a new one each time I read):

“A potluck is a great illustration of what it means to have a reciprocal relationship. Everyone has a place and something valuable to share. Everyone gives, everyone receives, and therefore everyone is honored in the process. Far too often short-term mission trips feel like a catered event rather than a potluck—an event catered by American groups for the community they’re visiting.”

So as a foodie, I am savoring or maybe choking on these words a little and am inviting you to consider them as well.  Maybe try inserting different words in for the phrase “short term mission trip” like family, work, church, or really any place  relationships happen.
Speaking of potlucks, in the last couple of weeks we have actually had a couple to attend.  So much baking and cooking has been going on. Here is a run down with the outcome list afterward in 0-5 scale. 0= not worth keeping the recipe, 5= so good”!

Brownies  which called for 2 whole avocados in  9X9 pan = 0(maybe I should have considered that the size of one avocado here is worth at least 2 in the States), Regular brownies with avocado mint frosting =3.  The frosting was actually very good if you could ignore the Grinch color!

Joumou (pumpkin) scones = 5, giving us a glimpse of the “all things pumpkin craze in the states”. 

Fermented papaya =1 – this is done with unripe papaya and is supposed to add great flavor to a meal,  but I can do without that condiment!

Pineapple tepache =5 – fermented pineapple juice made with the pineapple peals. 

Fermented salsa =5.  Super easy here considering tomatoes, peppers, onion, and garlic are easy to find.

Fermented carrots/ginger – still processing!

I’ve learned a couple of lessons that really should be basic kitchen skills : a double boiler is a good thing, because a pyrex bowl explodes when trying to melt coconut oil over the burner.  And packing a mason jar too full results in a fractured jar in the freezer.

DĀWOL’S DOINGS!

I have been very busy since our last Experiencing Kairos post. Just a couple days after we sent out or November update, Craig and Christi Gabhart departed for a one month furlough. When this happens I get to be the one who is in charge of much of the day-to-day operations which includes handling of all of the finances. And since there are no checks or credit cards in Haiti, every financial transaction is cash-based. And I am talking about a lot of cash. Not necessarily a lot of value but a lot of cash nonetheless. It is not unusual that I would disperse (and account for) over 100,000HTG (the Haitian dollar is called a gourde = pronounced “gude”) in a given day. Each day is different of course but I am basically a walking ATM for the staff as they need money to purchase things for their respective work with our ministry. This may sound fun to some of you but I really don’t enjoy it. Makes me appreciate Craig that is for sure.

Many Hands for Haiti has 57 Haitians on our payroll which is amazing. To know that because we operate in Haiti and through God’s amazing work, 57 Haitians have paying jobs. That number is even higher when we add all of the day labor workers we use for specific tasks and duties that we often need (transportation, interpreting, campus landscaping and garden/agronomy help, etc.). Not only does this help these individuals and their families, it also helps to stimulate the local economy as these wages are used to purchase local food and products.

We are pretty much done with our kidding cycle. The pic above is of our latest, and I believe, last baby goat for this year. Our goat program continues to be a tremendous success in terms of the overall health and welfare of our goat herd as well as with the Power to the Parents program in which we give two pregnant goats to the parents of each of our School of Light students.They can sell these goats and use the money for school tuition for grades 1-9. The second of three tuition payments is coming up in a couple of weeks.

All of our school parents pay something for school even though we have sponsors for our students in PS1, PS2, and PS3. This buy-in/participation is very important and something we strive for in all of our programs. We want all of the families we work support and work with to be involved somehow. Nothing should be for free as that only hinders the true transformational development that we are after as an organization. We want to work with our families and not just for them. 

UNTIL NEXT MONTH…..
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