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The Team

Dates: April 17-30, 2006.

Members: Brian Arnold, Rochester, NY; Walter Casper, Rochester, NY; Gary Fallesen, Rochester, NY; Todd Jenner, Cameron, NY; Todd Paris, Pottersville, NY.

Mission: To build a church in the mountain village of Jeantilhome.

 

Haiti Dispatches

Mission: Haiti team

Mission: Haiti 2006 team: (left to right, standing) Gary Fallesen, Brian Arnold, Todd Paris, (kneeling) Walter Casper and Todd Jenner.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The team returned to the United States today, completing this phase of Mission: Haiti. We rejoice in the teamwork, the relationships that developed between Americans, Haitians and Dominicans, and all that He has accomplished with and through us.

“Bal fini, vyolon dan sak (party is over, violin in case).” — Haitian proverb meaning “The party cannot last forever.”

 

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Miguel Guante, our Haitian contact, bought the rest of the supplies and sent them toward Jeantilhome. They will be delivered on Saturday and he will return on Monday to oversee completion of the church. "I love the people of Jeantilhome," Miguel said, expressing what is on our hearts. "I want to see Jeantilhome become a better place." We discussed our possible future work there, including:

  • Build benches for the church. Many of the 211 who attended worship with us Sunday morning had nothing to sit on.
  • Creole Bibles for the church. Most members do not have their own Bible. 
  • Desks for the future school. There is a teacher among those living in the village. But he needs our assistance. If the children learn to read, they will be able to read the Bible and Creole hymnal. "Some will become predicators," Miguel said, meaning those who can preach. "A few will become pastors." A child who grows into a pastor could help change Haiti.
  • Establish a clinic. "Everyone is sick," Miguel said about Jeantilhome. "Everyone has something." The village needs a first-care medical station, equipped with medical supplies and with a person from Jeanthilhome taught how to diagnose ailments and distribute medicine.
  • Provide educational materials to teach Pastor Tresin and other pastors around the area.

"Maybe these are just ideas," Miguel said after our two-hour planning meeting. "If God wants to make ideas true, it will be."

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." — Proverbs 16:9.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The roofers — Chalusma, a man who introduced me to Pastor Tresin last summer, and two hired hands from Jimani — were working soon after sunrise. It didn’t take long to run out of nails. Getting building supplies across the border 45 kilometers from Jimani to Soliette and up the mountain to Jeantilhome has been challenging. Because there is no communication, word is passed along the trail. Sometimes what is reported is accurate, sometimes not. We knew the roof would be all we could complete on this trip, and it is 7/8ths finished. There is another two weeks of work, if it is done dutifully. Miguel will oversee the final stages.

Before we left we sang and prayed and thanked God for what He is doing here. The team then walked around the building praying. It was and has been my prayer that the building would glorify the Lord, that evil would not be allowed there, and that Jeantilhome would be a village on a hill shining the light of Jesus for all of Haiti (and even the nearby Dominican Republic) to see.

We said our orevwas and climbed back down the mountain and returned to the border and back to DR.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill should not be hidden." — Matthew 5:14

Sunday, April 23, 2006

We worshiped for nearly four hours with 211 others in what they are calling the Climbing For Christ Church. Todd Jenner opened the service with a prayer. There was much singing and we were asked to speak. I told them about us and how Christ reigns in our hearts and we live to serve Him, not just on Sundays but every day. I then shared from Exodus 20:1-17, the Ten Commandments, including the message put on my heart last year: You shall have no other gods. Todd Paris spoke about the sacrifices he made to be here, and read from 1 Peter 4:1-11. Then Todd Jenner (Proverbs 3:5-6), Arny (John 3:3-7), Walter (Romans 5:1-11), and Miguel (Deuteronomy 28). Pastor Tresin "predicated" (their word for preaching) about how this church has "to be always climbing for Jesus." There was more singing and praying and we gave gifts to the church.  I was then asked to close in prayer.

The evening worship began just as the morning service had: late. Church begins when people show up and as several songs are sung, more people come. The so-called 8 a.m. worship began at 9:15 and the 4 p.m. started at 6. The evening worship lasted for two hours. Arny asked if we could sing and Pastor Tresin said yes. We sang That’s Why We Praise Him off a Lenten bulletin stuck in Walter’s Bible. After we finished, Pastor Tresin said he wanted to cry when we were singing. Not because it was bad, but because so many people in Jeantilhome wanted to eat dinner and "the Americans came all the way here to carry the cross of Jesus." He proceeded to "predicate" from Matthew 27 about Jesus dying on the cross for us and how the people have to take up the cross. After preaching, he asked us to sing again. We chose How Great Thou Art. The words of the song echoed the text of his message. A God thing.

Worship turned into a congregational meeting at that point with Miguel explaining to the people all that needed to be done to complete the church. We will only be able to finish the roof during our stay.

"I am the Lord your God...you shall have no other gods before me." — Exodus 20:2-3.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Miguel told me first thing this morning that Pastor Tresin wanted me to come to his house and pray for his son and the woman his son was marrying today. I went with Miguel and the team to Pastor’s home and I prayed that the Lord would bless Orisma and Chamine (the groom and bride). I prayed that they would be one with the Lord, and live a long, prosperous and happy life together. The team returned to the church, where we are camped, and prayed together and shared the many words of Scripture given to us.

After praying, we were visited again by Miguel. This time he had another "pastor" from another "church" with him. The church was down the hill below our tents. Miguel said it was the first he learned of it. The pastor (a man named Armando Paul) asked us to come pray for his child, who is sick. We went down the hill to see a little girl who could not use her left leg. Santane is 4. Her leg has been of no use for 3 years. She hops on her right leg. We laid hands on the little girl — all six of us, disciples of the Lord. We asked that she would be healed in the name of Jesus. I am humbled beyond words to think He would use us this way. I told the team after that we have spoken about how we aren’t here just to build a church structure, but to help build the church — the body of Christ. Todd Jenner’s words echoed in my head: My faith is small, Lord, help me increase my faith. “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:21). Believe! Believe and a miracle will happen!

All of this happened in the morning. After lunch the first tin roofing sheet was nailed into place.

"Slowly, the church is becoming a reality," Miguel said as we watched. "How much of this do you understand, Gary?" (Miguel often asks me what percentage I understand of what he is telling me.)

"One hundred percent," I answered. He was beaming. I felt pretty good myself.

"I am very happy," Miguel said, looking at me and smiling. "Me, too," I said, putting my hand on his shoulder.

By late afternoon, one half (the south side) of the roof was done. While work was still going on, a choir of girls and women arrived singing songs of praise. They sang into the evening, finishing by dancing to their own singing — around the inside of the church, out the door, and back in. They danced and sang past us, each one shaking our hands. Todd Jenner leaned over and said to me, "You see what I mean. The church is alive here in Haiti and the church (building) is only half done. What joy they have in Christ."

Friday, April 21, 2006

 

Despite Miguel’s concerns from the night before, the people of Jeantilhome were at work early: bringing in trees from the mountain, squaring them and putting up rafters. It was cool in the morning and there was a rain shower in the early afternoon. Pic la Selle was in the clouds all day. But the work did not stop.  People came and stared and laughed at us. A few do most of the work, but many help.  We decided to let them do the work and we would help when asked or needed.  This is their church.

 

Near sunset as I was standing at the east end of the church, the sun broke through the clouds and shone through the other end of the church. Miguel’s wife and her cousin were singing a gentle Creole hymn. A God moment. Overhead, the rafters of the church were nearly complete after a good day’s work. A praise God moment.

 

“Don’t lose (waste) your time, live today as if it’s your last day.” — translation of Creole Hymn 54.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

 

10:30 p.m. 

After a late dinner, we met with Miguel and the pastor to discuss the church.  Less was done than we expected.  I was a little disappointed.  Finishing by Saturday and holding an “inauguration” worship, as Miguel called it, on Sunday is not possible.  There is a roof to be put on, walls to be plastered, and a floor to be put down.  And no materials on site to do this work.  “Do not be discouraged.”  We agreed that Friday everyone would work on the roof.  We would continue on Saturday.  Sunday is the Lord’s day.  We could stay as long as mid-day Thursday, April 27.  A week in Jeantilhome.  “Do not be afraid.”  We prayed as a team that God’s will be done and that we would rest in the knowledge that we did what He brought us here to do—no matter how much we finished.

 

6:30 p.m.

After 2 ½ hours of climbing, we crested the hill overlooking Jeantilhome.  For the first time I saw the church with my own eyes—cement walls where once thatch stood.  When I gave Miguel a Mission: Haiti t-shirt on Tuesday, he looked at the photo on the back.  It was of the thatch-walls church.  “It doesn’t look like that anymore.  It looks like a building,” he had said.  I could see that now and I felt as if I would cry.  I felt a great sense of pride, not personal, but a joy in doing the Lord’s work.  It had been a hard day.  I was better hydrated than the last time I climbed here, and it was not as hot and humid.  There was an occasional breeze and some clouds.  But about one-third of the way up I felt another familiar feeling.  I felt as if someone (or something) was pulling down on my 45-pound backpack.  Was it my weakness or a spiritual force?  Was something trying to hold me back from reaching Jeantilhome?  I pushed on.  To cope with my discomfort I thought of Christ and how heavy that cross was on a back torn by so many Roman stripes.  How could I feel sorry for myself after all He did for me?  Besides, when I am weak, He is strong.  Pastor Tresin met me on the trail into the village.  We hugged and he pointed to the church and thanked me and thanked God.

 

“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  — Deuteronomy 31:8.

 

10:00 a.m.

It is time to go into Haiti.  We go with thse words from Philippians 2:5-7 on our hearts: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant...“

 

NOTE: The team expects to be out of contact for several days while in Haiti.

 

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

 

After a long day of bus rides from Santiago to Santo Domingo and finally to Jimani, we are near the border to Haiti.  Tomorrow we return to Jeantilhome.  Miguel Guante, our Haitian contact, says the people are eager to see us.

 

Last night, as we settled into bed, Miguel shared with us in Creole Psalm 121.  It was fitting, since that was what Pastor Larry Stojkovic used during a prayer circle and laying on of hands at the airport in Rochester, N.Y. before the team left.  Miguel repeated verse 8 in English: “The Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore.”

 

10 p.m.

We worshiped with the church in Jimani this evening. The church is a temporary structure. The church was destroyed in a flood two years ago. The flood killed 1,200 people, including the pastor and his wife. But as I told the congregation, the church is not a building but a body of believers. Each of the team members spoke to the congregation of about 75 in a worship that lasted more than two hours. The team is ready for tomorrow’s crossing of the border and expectant of good things to come in Jeantilhome.

"If I were the sea, I would give a fish to God. I am not the sea, I am a man, so I give God my heart." — paraphrase of Creole hymn sung during worship at church in Jimani.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

 

Santiago, Dominican Republic—Miguel met us at our hotel here. We arrived at 2:45 a.m. today.  Miguel came at 1 p.m.  He brought with him digital photos taken April 12 in Jeantilhome showing that the cement walls have been completed on the church.  Pillars were being put in place for the roof and plastering started inside.  The building is 8 meters wide by 12 meters long.  Miguel says we will finish by Saturday and worship together inside the new building on Sunday.  We know that this is only a building and that we are the church. 

 

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” —1 Corinthians 12:27.

 

Monday, April 17, 2006

Our five-man team is ready to go. This trip was delayed once. On Jan. 7, as I was preparing to buy airline tickets, a CNN alert came in my e-mail: the United Nations peace-keeping commander had killed himself in Port-Au-Prince (see Haiti News pages). My heart told me to postpone our trip, which was scheduled for February, around the time of the presidential elections. A State Department contact in Port-Au-Prince suggested that I listen to my heart. He said it was “nuts” there at that time. More nuts than usual. So we postponed our trip until April. But the people of Jeantilhome did not need to wait for us. They began construction, making cement blocks and putting up the walls of the new church around the thatch walls of the old church. Now we go, eager to serve.

To read the Haiti Mission HIStory and more photos from the start of the church building, CLICK HERE.

— Gary Fallesen
“To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11)

 

Church blocks

Cement blocks were made when construction began on the new church in Jeantilhome in February. (Photo by Miguel Guante)

The Word

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
— Ecclesiastes 4:12

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