While the title of this month’s blog are words used at Christmas time the thoughts of cooler temps and even some snow on the ground are just that….thoughts. It’s hot in Haiti right now! The temperature range in Haiti does not vary much year round. It typically gets in the 90s during the day and down into the 70s at night. BUT…in June, July, and August the range is the upper 90’s and 70s while in December, January, and February the range is in the lower 90s and 70s. And since we are in the rainy season now you can add some humidity to the mix. Needless to say that without A/C we rely on showers and fans to keep things bearable. The body does acclimate and this is not really a complaint as much as it is simply sharing with you what we are experiencing right now. However, in the midst of all of this heat and humidity it is mango season. So fresh mangos every day if we choose. Just need to knock a few out of a tree, peel and enjoy! Definitely not sick of those yet. And avocado season has arrived (see pic below – egg added for size comparison) and that’s pretty good as well. We have nine different varieties of mango trees on our campus and several avocado trees to keep us supplied. We certainly can’t complain too much as we have a beautiful place to live as compared to so many here like the house in the picture above that is literally crumbling.
August is also the time of year where campus is relatively quiet. The school year ended back in June but we still had our feeding program running through July. August is a time to give our PMJ staffs a little break (although they would all rather work and continue to get paid) and allows us time to prepare for the upcoming school and program year. We have to admit that we do enjoy a little quieter and slower pace on campus but we also miss seeing all the beautiful children and their caretakers each day. School and our First Thousand Days (PMJ or Premye mil jou) feeding program will start up again on September 9.
THIS MONTH’S PRAYER REQUESTS
(We know that even though we forgot to include this section in last month’s blog your prayers for us continued. Thank you so much!)
- For continued health and protection for us. With the exception a few small bouts with stomach bugs and some minor cuts, abrasions, and skin rashes, we have been healthy and injury free.
- For our marriage to remain strong and that we can use this time on the mission field to grow even closer together as husband and wife. That’s not necessarily easy to do but is what we desire.
- For continued language (Creole) acquisition. While it continues to develop and improve (slowly) we both so desperately want to be able to communicate better with the Haitians. This will likely be a prayer request as long as we are here. J
- For Haiti as a country. We are thankful that the Travel Advisory has been lowered and hope that it can remain this way as this allows teams to come more easily.
- For the upcoming school and program year that will start up on September 9. That the children and families who participate will be blessed and may continue to grow in the love and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
WHAT THE FOODIE IS UP TO…
Since we have been here long enough that everything doesn’t feel new, there are times when it seems there are some rhythms to the days. July was sweet with Morgan, Aaron, and Steph visiting. It was so good to share this part of our lives with people we have history with. Such a great gift to spend so many days with them. Seeing them leave was hard, but their being here was the incentive I needed to learn to get around on my scooter more, in order to show them around, so I do feel a bit more independent these days.
The prayer path is being extended, so I have started to ponder new themes/ideas for benches. I don’t have clarity yet, but trust that inspiration will come in time! The prayer labyrinth is completed and there will be more about that soon.
Watermelon rind pickles were a recent foodie try. We were eating watermelon – picture more seeds than edible melon, and pale pink! But it was refreshing just the same. Dean – our favorite architect and creator of both functional and beautiful furniture and housing here mentioned he used to eat watermelon rind pickles. I tried a version that didn’t require canning or really much processing. I probably won’t be going to the work of those again!
Avocados are officially in season!!!! In addition to our version of avocado toast, guacamole with cassava bread from the market, and sliced avocado on every dish, I just made avocado “lemon” (citron) cake. I have quite a list of things to try: avocado fritters, avocado chocolate popsicles, and avocado fries!
Round three of my garden went in this week. So far there are actually some green seedlings popping up! Maybe this time I will be able to eat something grown in it! I am creating an umbrella type cover for the hard rains and intense sun from leftover roofing palm fronds. I also rescued a cactus from the prayer path clearing project – I’ve heard you just stick cactus pieces in the ground and they grow- I’ll let you know.
Opportunities here, just like where you are, continue to provide opportunities to let go of expectations, entitlements, and control! Praying that the Spirit of God brings hope in God’s loving kindness and reminders of His delight in you in the middle of those opportunities. Some of my reminders this month have been new friends who are fellow expats we can share meals and laughter with, kicking a soccer ball while driving my scooter and “impressing” the young futbol players, and two separate rides in air conditioned trucks!!
Since coming back in early July I’ve been able to stay busy in a couple of key areas. In education my first order of business was to wrap up the 2018-19 school year. We (I had help) had to scan all student report cards for our 63 preschool students and for the 127 students in our three 180 for Haiti schools (located in Sauvanette) and get those sent back to our home office in Pella, Iowa so that reports could be sent to the Love in Action sponsors about their respective child/student. I had to chase down a few but eventually obtained them all. The next major undertaking was to prepare and hand out contracts to our returning instructional staff (teachers and helpers) as well as interviews and issue contracts to the three new staff members we needed to hire for the upcoming 2019-20 school year. While this is an interesting process in Haiti wherein the expected response to receiving a contract is to always negotiate and explain why the salary presented in not nearly enough. After spending between 30-60 minutes with each staff member, and holding firm knowing that our offers are really good and fair when compared to local schools and what they pay their teachers and helpers, I am happy to report that all eight staff members have signed their contracts and we are set to go for the new school year.
We have an intern working in Haiti this summer. Sarah Ripperger is from the Des Moines, Iowa area and recently graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in chemical engineering. She has a job waiting for her with Anheuser-Busch (St. Louis, MO) starting next month. Sarah has spent most of her time in the agronomy area focusing on some distillation practices. This is very small scale at this point and just an example of some things that MH4H is open to trying as we continue to look for ways to improve the economic situation in northern Haiti. It has been fun to have Sarah with us and we wish her well as she heads home in a couple of weeks and then launches her career.
Also in the agronomy world we have begun to harvest our hybrid seed corn tests. We have harvested and collected and reported the data on the first six tests that we planted on our campus and are just starting to harvest the second set of six tests that we have planted at another location. So far the date is showing some notable results and it will be interesting to compare these results in the subsequent tests. I never thought I’d learn so much about corn as I have this year. Again our vision for this testing is to determine if there are some genetically-modified drought-resistant corn that produces well in the conditions (soil, temperatures, rainfall, etc.) of northern Haiti that perhaps we could make available to Haitians to help them increase production yield since they plant corn (mayi) every year.
Finally, a quick story of reconciliation to which God gets the glory. One of our goat guards was recently having some marital problems (infidelity by his wife) that were beginning, understandably so, to affect his work. Because of this and because we care about our employees (and God cares about marriage) we met with him and offered him a 2-week paid time off so that he could focus on his marriage and family. He was suspicious at first (because this is unheard of in Haiti) and thought that this was some sort of ploy to terminate his employment. I assured him that his job would be waiting for him when this time was up and that this was a way that we could show the love of God to him and his family. We also asked our two Pastors/Chaplains if they would meet with him and them as a couple to help them navigate through this time. Bless God that through all of this they have reconciled their relationship, forgiven each other, began to attend church, and I even heard that they now plan to get married (they were together as “husband and wife” but never officially got married which is common in Haiti). Our pastors have committed to continued weekly counseling for as long as they want. If you could pray for this man (he goes by “Ten-Ten”) and his wife and their two children I/they would greatly appreciate it.
The next month will be busy with the start up of a new school and program year. My hope is that through all of these doings, people are drawn closer to the Living God as they experience his love and provisions. Haitians live in daily fear. Not necessarily in fear that someone is going to harm them but rather in a fear of what is next for them and their family. Because of this, trust is a big issue (at all levels). My desire and hope is that the families we are privileged to work with learn to trust God completely for their daily needs. Whether in abundance (not likely) or just enough I want them to be able to trust that God has them in his grip. Not just for a day or a season but for everyday and for eternity.
UNTIL NEXT MONTH…