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Whenever we have visitors here in Haiti, Cherlie and I try to be creative in designing activities for them that use their skills and gifts and also enhance our ministry here. Since we are in a development stage as an organization, we sometimes use our visitors to “test the waters” for us, asking them to plan and implement activities in the local communities and churches around us in order to see how they are received and whether they meet their stated goals and objectives. January 2 – 9 we were blessed to have a wonderful multigenerational group from Eastbrook Church in Milwaukee here to test some waters with us!

The group consisted of the Riebe family – Katherine and Alan and their teenage son Joshua and daughter Charis, Geri Koterman and her grandson Josiah, Michael Borst and his daughter Natalie, college student Betsy Boggs and Leona Bush. Everyone in the group spent some time observing and helping in the clinic, packing medications and helping to distribute toys and clothing to our pediatric patients. On Monday and Tuesday the group worked with various age groups in a young Protestant church that is being pastored by our clinic chaplain Adrien Jean Jacques. The church is located a short walk up the mountain from the clinic and many of the church members are our patients.

In the morning, the young people and Mike and Alan held a soccer clinic with the church youth, leading them in a devotional and then doing soccer drills and playing games in such a way as to foster team work. They also played a game of “ultimate Frisbee” with the Haitian children and discovered that they were quick learners.

Natalie, Charis and Mike sitting with some of the soccer participants

Natalie, Charis and Mike sitting with some of the soccer participants

At the same time, Geri and Leona were leading the adult members of the church in a Bible Study lesson on Ruth and Naomi, having the Haitian church members share their interpretation of the Bible lesson with everyone. It was a great time of interaction and learning from both sides.

Geri and Leona acting out the story of Ruth and Naomi for the church members

Geri and Leona acting out the story of Ruth and Naomi for the church members

Then, in the afternoon, the group held a Vacation Bible School (VBS) session with the children from the church, sharing a Bible story with them, doing crafts and playing games. The children were enthusiastic participants and loved the attention they got from the American youth.

Natalie, Charis, Josiah and Joshua enjoying their new Haitian friends

Natalie, Charis, Josiah and Joshua enjoying their new Haitian friends

The Eastbrook team leads the VBSers in an animated song

The Eastbrook team leads the VBSers in an animated song

Children attending one of the VBS sessions

Children attending one of the VBS sessions

Two of the boys comparing one another’s artwork during craft time

Two of the boys comparing one another’s artwork during craft time

Charis, Betsy and Natalie take a selfie with some of the VBS attendees

Charis, Betsy and Natalie take a selfie with some of the VBS attendees

On Wednesday and Thursday, the group did similar activities at a small Baptist church down the mountain from the clinic. This is Gemi’s (our Community Coordinator) home church and is led by a Haitian lay pastor. He and the church members were thrilled to have the visitors participate with them and they also had very lively discussions.

 highlight of Leona’s afternoon was “babysitting” for this little boy who attended the VBS session with his older brother.

highlight of Leona’s afternoon was “babysitting” for this little boy who attended the VBS session with his older brother.

Geri stands with the lay pastor of the Duchene church and his wife

Geri stands with the lay pastor of the Duchene church and his wife

The little Baptist church in Duchene – one of many churches in need of our encouragement and support

The little Baptist church in Duchene – one of many churches in need of our encouragement and support

We’re grateful for teams like the Eastbrook Church team who are able to minister to community members and support local churches on our behalf. They brought their skills and the warmth of their personalities to bear witness to the Spirit of Christ within them and their fellowship with Haitian believers was very much appreciated. We thank them for their encouragement and support and pray for them to return again in the future.

NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION

I’ve always heard it said that “necessity is the mother of invention” but I didn’t realize how true it is until this past week. We have been having a severe water shortage at our house in Jeremie and each time we have visitors, we wonder if we’ll have enough water for us to wash all the sheets and towels after their visits. Last week we were feeling a little stressed when we realized we had ten sets of sheets from our visitors from Eastbrook and five sets from the Avera group in December that needed washing and we had no water in our cistern under Cherlie’s closet. How were we to prepare beds for the seven visitors coming in over the weekend? We didn’t have enough spare sheets and now we had no water to wash the dirty ones. A dilemma! Typical of life in Haiti.

Well, we just happened to have an automatic washing machine that we had sent down to Haiti a few months ago with the intention of using it up at the residence quarters once we started living up there. It was sitting on our porch and hadn’t yet been used. So, we decided to take it up to the site and with the use of a generator that was already up there, we got water out of the cistern under the sidewalk of the pharmacy building using buckets and filled the washer with it. The water is rain water collected off the roof of the clinic. So, once we got everything set up, Cherlie proceeded to wash five sets of sheets while clinic was going on. She put up a clothesline under the trees in front of the clinic and by the time I had finished seeing all the patients, our sheets were washed and dried and ready to be folded up and taken home! Water is plentiful up at the clinic and we discovered a new use for it to help us deal with a difficult problem at home. We’re grateful that we have options to consider in dealing with the necessities of life here!

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