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Mission: Haiti 2007

December Trip Report

By Gary Fallesen
President, Climbing For Christ

Sitting in the quiet darkness on our last night in Gentilhomme, mission teammate Karen Fullerton asked how I was feeling. “Content,” I said.

There was a sense of peace. We had completed all that we came to do on the schedule we had planned. To me, this indicated our mission trip was in line with God's will — we were abiding in the Spirit.

We had met our goals to:

  • Continue growing relationships with our Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ in Gentilhomme and in Malasi (where I visited for the first time).
  • Teach sanitation.
  • Mentor pastors by starting a seminary.
  • Work with teachers and students in the school, and expand their horizons by providing instruction about the solar system.
  • Study Gentilhomme's water.
  • Show the love of Christ.

 

Santane

Santane will be taken to the Jimani clinic in January 2008 to begin diagnosis on what can be done to fix her crippled left leg.

Health care

Reflecting on the great work He did through us during this fourth Evangelic Expedition to Haiti, we came away knowing that health care is the next big step. We have a start with an emergency plan that was implemented during this mission. Climbing For Christ will pay $50 a month to the clinic in Jimani, where Dr. Yirdana Corporan is working to help us. The $50 will cover anyone from Gentilhomme, Malasi or Jimani who is need of emergency care. The adults from those three Climbing For Christ churches do need to pay the equivalent of U.S. 25 cents a week for this “health insurance.” All children will be covered by the parent's payment. In addition, each church will be provided a cell phone (paid for by Climbing For Christ) to be used in the event of a medical emergency. This plan is the result of Gilbert Lendor's life-threatening injury in July.

In addition to starting this emergency plan, the Climbing For Christ team did provide minor first-aid care and medicine for some of the sick and injured we encountered in Gentilhomme. We also had an opportunity to lay hands on and pray for several people, including a woman with blinding headaches, a boy with an increased heart rate, and the crippled girl Santane, whom we have visited on each of the last three missions. These individuals, as well as a few others, have been identified as people whom our missionary Miguel Rubén Guante will take to the Jimani clinic.

We also left a Creole copy the book Where Women Have No Doctor, as well as some basic first-aid supplies. We provided each of the schoolchildren with a de-worming pill (a gift from Dr. Yirdana), which is good for six months.

The women in our group (Sarah Brownell, Karen Fullerton and Erica Zeiler), the first female missionaries to visit Gentilhomme, spent time talking with women from Gentilhomme and surrounding villages. Health care — or a lack thereof — was their No. 1 concern. There is no one in any of the mountain villages to treat minor problems, except the “leaf doctor” (a person who makes tea to cure ailments). Sometimes there are midwives to assist in childbirth, but not always.

 

Seminary

Pastors from four Haitian villages listening to Climbing For Christ Pastors Dan Freng, Derek Fullerton and Erica Zeiler.

Education

During worship on Sunday, Dec. 9, team member Nick Stevens spoke to the congregation (people from Gentilhomme, Malasi, and Belville) about wisdom. He explained that wisdom is the most important thing we can gain, and he told the people that the Bible is the source of all wisdom.

This mission helped provide knowledge in several areas:

  • Sanitation — Team member and SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods) co-founder Sarah Brownell, who is fluent in Creole, taught a two-day seminar on sanitation. There are no toilets in Gentilhomme. The people go to the bathroom wherever they are when they need to go. Sarah provided education about what poor sanitation does to people and suggested solutions. “Local leaders from the development group (the Gentilhomme Development Association) and the teachers (from the school) have a better understanding of sanitation issues, but need continued reinforcement,” Sarah reported. A brainstorming session at the conclusion of the seminar allowed those attending to choose the most popular type of toilet for Gentilhomme. They selected arborloos, which are inexpensive, easy to build, and provide a tree each time they are moved. A committee will be formed in Gentilhomme to get feedback from the entire village and help us prepare for the installation of toilets in the village.
  • Seminary — Pastors Dan Freng, Derek Fullerton and Erica Zeiler planned and provided material to teach seven pastors and 18 church leaders from six villages. This mentoring will continue with Pastor Dan assisting Miguel from the States. Miguel, who was trained at the Christian Reformed Church's seminary in Santo Domingo, will hold the seminary on the second Monday of every month. Within one year, the group may be ready to graduate from this program.
  • School — Nick Stevens, who has a Master's degree in education, observed, evaluated, shared, and taught alongside the two teachers we pay, Mathurin Saenril and Setoute Emilien. His findings included a need to expand and formalize the educational program, design a mean to track a student's development, and replicate what is being done in Gentilhomme from “mountain to mountain,” starting in Malasi. Nick has committed to completing curriculum ideas and planning a sequence that would likely cover six years of teaching.

 

Gifts

Joe Cisneros in front of 100 Christmas gifts made for the schoolchildren in Gentilhomme. (Photo by Nick Stevens)

Nick Stevens taught a class on world geography and the solar system. Children are taught that the stars they see shining so brightly overhead (in a place where there is no light pollution) are the souls of their dead ancestors. Nick explained about stars and planets, and how God placed them in the heavens. He then told the children about a particular star that shone for all to see the night of our Savior's birth. The telling of the Christmas story — acted out by team members Brian Arnold, Joe Cisneros, Jim Doenges, Karen Fullerton, and me — was translated by Sarah Brownell. “It seemed so real to me,” Sarah said, “that God chose a poor family from a rural town, just like Gentilhomme, to give us His son, salvation, and to change the world.”

The Christmas story, along with moments of worship shared with villagers on many of the nights, were “times when you could feel the veil lifting between heaven and earth, and you could glimpse what it will be like to live in New Jerusalem,” Sarah said.

After the Christmas story — the story of the greatest gift ever received — the team handed out presents to each of the schoolchildren. The presents were put together by team members: crayons, pencils, band-aids, bouncy balls, and hair ties placed in homemade bags (a piece of paper taped and colored by our team). The goodies given out were among the many things we delivered to Gentilhomme, Malasi and Jimani. We also brought paper, scores of pencils, pens, and crayons, pencil sharpeners, and glue. Nick delivered maps and a telescope. We provided more clothing and Creole Bibles.

 

Water testing

Jim Doenges (count-clockwise from left), Sarah Brownell, Joe Cisneros and Brian Arnold working on water tests in makeshift lab outside the church at Gentilhomme.

Water

Jim Doenges, Sarah Brownell and Joe Cisneros evaluated the quality of the water the people of Gentilhomme drink and gathered data about the distances and elevations from the village to the source of that water. People in Gentilhomme climb down a steep slope about 425 vertical feet to several mountain springs and a river run-off coming from higher up the peak southwest of where Gentilhomme is located.

In his assessment of the water, Jim wrote that the spring water was very drinkable and the stream water contained low amounts of bacterial contamination. He recommended further testing on future trips during other times of the year (low flow and high flow) as well as testing of another stream east of the village and rainwater in a cistern next to the church. We would like to use that cistern as a basin to capture and purify rainwater. This basin system is already employed in Malasi, a village 12 miles and several mountains away from Gentilhomme. The streams around Gentilhomme are the nearest running water to Malasi.

Jim will be exploring ways to divert spring water up to the village to a more accessible location.

In addition to developing a water program, we are looking into reforestation of the area and better utilization of the three growing seasons. We were encouraged that Haitian members of Floresta (a reforestation organization) attended the first of the two-day sanitation seminar. Much of Haiti has been deforested and the Gentilhomme Development Association has made reforestation of the land surrounding its village a priority.

 

Balloons

Karen Fullerton, Erica Zeiler and Dan Freng make balloon animals for students during recess at the school.

The Truth

We were blessed with an opportunity to again share the Gospel message with people from several churches during our time on this mission. While many are professing Christians in Haiti, there remains a dependence on the practice of voodoo. We made clear to the church at Gentilhomme that voodoo is wrong; there is only One True God. To believe in anything other than Christ is wrong.

In the future, we hope to overcome what language barrier exists and do more outreach to those living in the villages of Gentilhomme and Malasi who are not Christians. “Language is always difficult, but the effort and personal contact communicates importance regardless of the words,” Nick Stevens said. “Also prayer. Ephesians 6 teaches us the armor we have for spiritual warfare, and only two (weapons) are offensive: the Word and prayer.”

We will continue to pray for the people of Gentilhomme on a daily basis. Our work there is far from finished. The Lord has much more for us to do and is waiting to send His blessings to the many Haitians we will encounter in the Chaine de la Selle mountains.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” — 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NIV)

What's next?

Climbing For Christ is praying about, reviewing, discerning, and planning 2008 mission trips to Haiti. Among the goals:

Health care

We need medical personnel to hold clinics in Gentilhomme and Malasi. This is a top priority. A medical mission team will (prayerfully) be formed to carry out the work that is urgently needed to improve the health of the people in those two mountain villages. Our personnel will provide instruction to leaders so that basic first-care services can be provided in an ongoing basis. E-mail gfallesen@ClimbingForChrist.org if you can serve in this area.

Sanitation

A community arborloo will be constructed on our next visit to allow villagers in Gentilhomme to see and use a toilet. In the future, we will provide toilets for each of the houses or groupings of houses. An arborloo costs only $30 to build. We could construct arborloos for all of Gentilhomme for less than $3,000.

Seminary

Missionary Miguel Rubén Guante has been equipped to continue this program, initiated with the help of Pastors Dan Freng, Derek Fullerton and Erica Zeiler. Pastors and church leaders from Gentilhomme and surrounding villages (including Malasi, Soliette, Thoman, and Jimani) will attend monthly classes, and Climbing For Christ may return in December 2008 to complete their studies.

School

Continue to develop the education being offered in Gentilhomme and replicate it in Malasi. We are currently paying two teachers U.S. $100 a month each. We need to add a third teacher (from Malasi) to those we are supporting. Additionally, we will continue to provide school supplies to Gentilhomme, Malasi, and Jimani.

Water

Further testing on water sources as well as the cleaning and preparing of the cistern outside the church for capture and purification of rain water. We will be investigating the most efficient and least expensive method to divert spring water up the steep slope to the village for easier access for the people living there.

Ongoing

Monthly expenses for this mission include a salary for missionary Miguel Rubén Guante, expenses for travel and communication for Miguel, teacher salaries, health-care assistance with the clinic in Jimani, and support for the church and Pastor Meristaine Tresin of Gentilhomme.

More on Malasi

Miguel visited Malasi five times in 2007 and Gary Fallesen went there with him on Dec. 7 to meet Pastor Verite Velsuis, the teacher of a school that was started in November, and other people of the village. God has called Climbing For Christ to serve in Malasi as we are serving in Gentilhomme. 

Help wanted

You can help by supporting this mission through prayer and financial giving. Send tax-deductible donations to:

Climbing For Christ
c/o Mission: Haiti
P.O. Box 16290
Rochester, NY 14616

You can also serve on an upcoming Mission: Haiti trip, dates to be determined. If you feel called to go, e-mail gfallesen@ClimbingForChrist.org for more information.

 

Thanks

The Mission: Haiti team wishes to thank our prayer warriors — from the Climbing For Christ Prayer Team and members to our church families and our loved ones. We could feel the prayers being poured out on our behalf.

We would also like to thank those who generously gave — be it financially to help a team member get to Haiti or through the donation of school supplies and Christmas gifts for the children of Gentilhomme and surrounding villages. You are a blessing to this ministry.

Most of all, we want to thank the Lord for using us to serve the people of Gentilhomme, Malasi, and Jimani. We believe revival is coming to Haiti, and we are convinced that it will start in mountain villages such as Gentilhomme. To God be the glory!

 

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