Friday, Feb. 11
The view toward Gentilhomme, Haiti from Miguel’s Dominican border town home in Jimani at sunset on Thursday.
A full day of travel — 18 to 22 hours — driving from Jimani to Santo Domingo and flying back to the States marks an end to the short-term part of Mission: Haiti 2011. The work in Haiti goes on 24/7 through our missionary Miguel, the four Monte Pou Kris churches, and the eight teachers we support in those villages. Please join us in keeping them in prayer.
We have been blessed to have been brought together by God, Who prepared the days and the ways we would serve. This team successfully reflected the love of Christ onto others.
To God alone be the glory!
Thursday, Feb. 10
Miguel, Jordan and I met and, with Rosie’s translation help, we reviewed this trip and discussed future plans for the mission. A high priority is to finish building the church at Jimani with the support of Steve, Eileen and Lisa’s church in Canon City, Colo. Miguel will continue to address the spiritual needs with a visit to a different Monte Pou Kris church (in Gentilhomme, Malasi, Thoman and Jimani) every weekend, and through the monthly seminary.
There continues to be a need for financial support for this ministry as our monthly budget for the work here is about US$3,000, excluding special projects, church builds and emergencies. The fruits of the labor are showing, however, which is priceless.
The team, consisting of six (of the eight) members who have been on mission with us here before, recognized some of the progress. Team members, who volunteer their time, talents and money, cherished moments spent in the mountains with children, caring for the sick, and being in worship with brothers and sisters in Christ. As Steve summarized again: “Feeling at home. Feeling you are where you belong.”
“I have so much love for this group,” Rosie said during our meeting. “To climb so far to give to the people something the government would not do. To spend so much money and give all your heart to the people.”
Wednesday, Feb. 9
Steve teaching midwives from Malasi and Gentilhomme.
Steve met with five midwives from Malasi and Gentilhomme to learn how they deliver children and what types of complications they experience, and then offered some tools and suggestions to assist future child births. For instance, here they would tie the umbilical cord and burn the end. Steve provided 100 clips as an alternative. He also gave bulb syringes to suck the mucus from a newborn’s nose and mouth, an alternative to the midwife using his or her mouth.
This type of education and having been able to identity a person from the village qualified to leave medicine with to dispense while we are away were highlights for Steve. On Monday and Tuesday, he and the medical team saw 167 adults. Considering many were women with babies and other children, we are estimating that 400-500 people were treated in Malasi alone.
Hiking across the hills between Malasi and Gwo Cheval.
After teaching and dispensing meds, we prayed with Pastor Vilicuis and the Monte Pou Kris church leaders in Malasi. Then we packed up and headed down from the mountains. Eileen said leaving the children was one of the worst parts of her day. After some border hassles and other difficulties, knowing that Satan was trying to deflate the sense of fulfilling God’s will on this mission, we huddled in Jimani. Jordan shared his daily devotional (“He will be there for us in every single challenge that life throws our way”) and each member prayed in a circle prayer.
We are back in the Dominican border town for two nights. Miguel, Jordan and I are meeting to discuss (with Rosie’s translation help) plans for 2011. We lift our remaining time together. We give Him thanks for using us to do what He has, turn to him for every challenge, and pray for wisdom and discernment for future planning.
Tuesday, Feb. 8
Sometimes the moment is too much: a father sitting outside the Climbing For Christ mission house holding his little girl, crippled (unnecessarily) by polio. Never mind that a vaccine could have avoided this. The man did not know; he came from another village to Malasi to see a doctor from the States. Maybe the Americans would have some medicine to help. We might as well have been empty-handed.
We could only pray. Jordan anointed the child and we asked the Great Physician for healing. Only He can do such a thing.
Dr. Steve and team seeing a crippled girl with her father.
It was a tearful reminder as dozens of people again were being treated by our team that we can only do so much. It’s all about God and the power He gives.
Schoolchildren in Malasi with Jesus-centered heart crafts and “Friend of God” bracelets brought by Eileen.
In the morning, our VBS crew taught about brushing teeth, clean water, sanitation and, more importantly, prayer. We can talk to God. We can ask God for help and give Him thanks for all things, like the love of a father carrying a crippled girl who, we request in the name of Jesus, would be made well.
Monday, Feb. 7
The Monte Pou Kris health clinic and puppet show began anew in Malasi, while a few of us road-tripped to other villages that have asked Climbing For Christ for assistance.
Steve and his team, headed up by Lisa and Malasi’s own Clanice, again saw more than 100 patients. The worst of these was a young girl born with water on the brain and, as a result, developmentally disabled. They also treated a family with a horrible skin condition; clearing out the mission house and washing the heads and skin of each family member.
Another dose of puppet education on hygiene was also offered by Eileen, Justin and Rosie.
Miguel, Pastor Vilicuis from the church at Malasi, Jordan and I traveled by foot and God truck to Savante Zombe and Bwapin Kouve. The pastors from churches in both of those villages attend our monthly seminary and have asked for a Monte Pou Kris church. Our visits were exploratory to see how the Lord might lead.
In Savante Zombe (which roughly translates into “land of zombies”), about 150 church members in their Sunday best greeted us in song. Miguel explained that we weren’t coming to start building them a new church, but just to visit and see them. He directed them to Matthew 6:33 (“seek ye first the kingdom of God”) and told them to pray for His provision; it may or may not come from C4C. He told them they must be patient and pointed to Pastor Vilicuis, who came to us with a similar request in 2007 and received a church in 2010. The same thing occurred in Thoman.
The church at Savante Zombe.
The church at Bwapin Kouve.
The church at Malasi.
Savante Zombe currently worships inside a rented space consisting of three walls and a tarp roof. The 2-year-old church has 250 members, including children, according to its pastor. But those numbers seemed suspicious. They also have a school with 125 students and four teachers. Land for the new church has been purchased across the road.
In Bwapin Kouve, we had a similar greeting (about 125 people singing), but Pastor Charles Alexis knew we were just visiting. He asked us to pray about what could be done and said that his congregation of 150 adults is doing the same.
This church body was started by Pastor Charles in 1992. The current building began construction in 2007. It was backed by a Haitian pastor from Port-au-Prince, but that pastor was murdered and the building is unfinished. It is also a three-walled project. “If the front of the church was closed, it would be a refuge for the people,” Pastor Charles told us. We could attest to that since it was rainy and cool today with a cold wind blowing in the open end of the church.
There is no school in Bwapin Kouve, which is more remote than Savante Zombe. Both villages are located on the other side of the Foret des Pins (national forest) from Malasi. Jordan and I concluded our visits at each church with a prayer for His people. These are often the hardest part of what we do in this impoverished land. When you view each set of eyes looking intently at you as the eyes of Jesus, it is heart-wrenching.
We wait on the Lord, His direction, and what may be provided by Him through others.
Sunday, Feb. 6
It was a typical Monte Pou Kris church service in Malasi with an overflow crowd of 277 people worshiping with us for five hours. Worship included communion (the first time for 17 believers baptized on Saturday), three weddings, and a baby dedication.
The baptized were among a full house of God.
The church at Malasi in worship.
Jordan, Miguel and I were blessed to deliver God's message to the church. Jordan and I did so through translation provided by Rosie.
After I introduced the mission team to the congregation, I told them we were excited to worship with them again. As part of the message the Lord gave me, I told them we do not worship the rocks or the trees, the sun or the stars, but the One who created those things. I shared Psalm 19:1 and 148:1, 3-6. I then asked Jordan to sing “How Great Thou Art,” which he did using our backpacker guitar.
I continued to share about Who was helping the people of Malasi, how it wasn’t Climbing For Christ but Jesus Himself. I read Exodus 4:10-12, where God tells Moses that He will speak for him. I explained that when God first sent C4C to Malasi, we did not know about this place. But He did. God created them and put them here. And God built them a church.
I told them when Dr. Steve (who celebrated his birthday today) treats them at our health clinics on Monday and Tuesday, he will not be the one making them better. The Great Physician will heal them. I told him the members of this team wouldn’t be helping them, but their Lord Jesus.
After this, I introduced Jordan, who shared Joshua 1:7-9 (“be strong and courageous”). “The Lord tells us He is our strength,” Jordan said. “We look to the Lord to be our Hope.”
Jordan instructed them to be in God’s Word. Since many do not have Bibles (and we have no idea how many can read) I asked them what they had learned in Sunday School before worship. They repeated the verse (Philippians 2:6) that they had memorized. I told them they can learn the Word at church and store it in their heart to gain strength.
Jordan sharing, with Rosie (bullhorn in background) translating.
We know life here is very, very difficult, and Christ alone — no other gods (i.e. voodoo) — can help them endure. We said many prayers for the people during the worship, just as we had been doing before and continue to do after.
Saturday, Feb. 5
Janelle's "tap-tap" carrying members of the Malasi church (and Justin and Steve) from a baptism along the riverbed in Soliette.
Miguel and I looked at the water-purifying system Climbing For Christ installed last year at the church at Gentilhomme. Pastor Tresin told us it is used by “many people” every Wednesday. But Miguel cautioned, “It is one thing to say ‘many people use it’ and another thing for many people to use it.” As we are continuing to educate the people in the mountains about the importance of drinking and using clean water, and are moving ahead with plans to prayerfully partner with another organization on a water project here, we are confident that one day many people will take advantage of what God is providing.
The Living Water of baptism touched 17 members of the church at Malasi today. A truckload of people traveled to Soliette for this baptism because there is no water source in Malasi. We were supposed to participate in the baptism, but the team’s descent off Mon Boucar (Mountain of Fire) from Gentilhomme took longer than expected. We traveled with the baptized back to Malasi, where we are working until Wednesday. We will worship the Lord with them on Sunday.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” — Isaiah 61:1 (NIV)
Friday, Feb. 4
Justin, Eileen and Rosie with their puppet friends Bob and Anna visiting Gentilhomme school.
Another puppet show and a mini-Vacation Bible School broke out at the Gentilhomme school, while in the adjoining mission house our medical team spent nearly 12 hours seeing scores of patients.
After Jordan led 60 schoolchildren in song on our backpacker guitar, he taught about prayer and how important it is for us to talk to God. Eileen, Justin and Rosie then reprised their four-part puppet teaching from Thursday. Eileen gave the students a craft project — the children made crosses out of paper and yarn — before school ended in deworming pills, song, and prayer.
There were many prayers for healing during the second day of the medical clinic. Countless people were seen, including a boy with a club foot (who Steve fitted with a splint), a man with a machete wound across his hand (which Lisa treated), and another man with keloids on his neck that needed to be lanced. Plus, as Steve said again, “a lot of fungal stuff.”
Miche and Sainte-Anne, two of the children God used C4C to assist, spent most of the day with the team. They’ve been in Gentilhomme since CHRISTmas and will be going back to Miguel’s home in Jimani after this mission.
Thursday, Feb. 3
Eileen and Justin put on a puppet show they’d rehearsed in the States with the help of Rosie's Creole translation. It’s been dubbed, “The Muppets Go to Haiti.” Two hand puppets — named Anna and Bob — helped teach the children and many adults in Gentilhomme about the importance of brushing their teeth and using clean water, the danger of inhaling smoke indoors (from fires used to cook), and that they shouldn’t play where they pee. The latter might be the next step in the process, begun in 2007 and 2008, of educating the people about sanitation.
Sanitation education continues to be sorely needed. “I saw some horrible, awful skin things,” Steve said after the first day of health clinics. He and Lisa (with the help of the others) saw more than 100 patients this afternoon. Many of the usual maladies were treated, including high blood pressure, respiratory and stomach issues, a burned baby, and many pregnant women.
While all of this was going on in Gentilhomme, Jordan, Miguel and I hiked back down the mountain and went to Thoman for the monthly seminary. Twenty-one pastors and leaders from 11 churches attended the training, which was a history on the Bible. Before the four-hour teaching, Jordan and I shared about the HIStory of the Bible and how it is God’s Word. We talked about how only this Living Word can truly change Haiti.
Monte Pou Kris church at Thoman.
On a day when it was finally (after a two-month dispute) announced that popular singer Michel Martelly will face former first lady Mirlande H. Manigat in the runoff presidential election on March 20, I told them neither politics nor government nor all the foreign aid in the world will solve this country’s problems. It is a spiritually ill place, and the church must rise up. Without God, all the building, agricultural plantings, and physical service offered will be only a temporary band-aid.
Jordan asked the pastors and leaders if they heard the children singing outside the church at Thoman. The children were repeating the hymn that had just been sung in the seminary. That is how change will occur for the better. They need to lead the people of their churches, villages and country to follow Jesus.
After the seminary, we climbed back up the mountain to rejoin the rest of the team after nightfall. While it was dark (because there is no electricity), the Light is shining brightly.
Wednesday, Feb. 2
Crossing border into Haiti.
Our day was delayed by the enemy, who got a foothold in a family member of our Haitian missionary Miguel. This spiritual attack threatened to postpone our travel across the border and wreck havoc on the plans God has for this mission. But God is in control and we were only put a few hours behind schedule, not a day — or worse.
Because of threatened, election-related violence in politically unstable Haiti, the border crossing was a gridlock. But God saw us clear of any hassles with customs officials and Haitian police manning roadblocks on the highway. We picked up our final team member, the eternally joyful Rosie, and headed back up the dusty unpaved roads leading into the mountains.
We stopped in Thoman to have Dr. Steve look at the mother of one of our church leaders there. She has a hideous tumor growing out of her mouth. In 1½ months it has grown to the size of a grapefruit. She is unable to eat, although she said there is no pain. Steve said he’d never seen anything like it. We immediately began making plans to get her to a hospital in Santo Domingo where, prayerfully, it can be removed. Please lift this in prayer to our Great Physician.
After this heart-wrenching stop we went to the new church at Thoman, which is a thing of beauty. This is the third church Climbing For Christ has built in Haiti, and each one has gotten better. Jordan, Miguel and I will be returning to the church on Thursday for the monthly seminary.
“People like, like, like,” Miguel said about the Thoman church. “For them, it is the first church.” Previously, the church worshiped in a community center shared by voodooists.
Pastor Luterne from the church at Thoman showed us the banana and plantain plants C4C provided three years ago. They are now bearing fruit and we ate the sweetest bananas that I believe God has ever made. The fruit and the church filled my heart with great joy.
From Thoman we traveled to Soliette, where members of the church at Gentilhomme were waiting to help carry our gear and medical supplies up the mountain to the village on a hill where God used us to build our first church in 2006. We climbed in the dark, which was a blessing because it was cooler than the heat of the afternoon. As we walked toward the church, school children sang the song our Mission: Haiti 2009 team had taught them: “Friend of God.“
That we are. And we pray they are, too.
Tuesday, Feb. 1
There was an evening worship in the Monte Pou Kris church at Jimani to welcome us back. After listening to numerous praise songs, Jordan and I were given an opportunity to share. I used Philippians 1:6 and blessed the 80 school children, the three teachers that C4C supports, Gilbert Lindor (whom God used us to rescue several years ago), the pastor and church leaders, and finally the whole church of more than 100 adults with the words: “He who has begun a good work in you will bring it to completion in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jordan encouraged the church with the words of Matthew 22:36-37, instructing them to love God with ALL their heart and ALL their soul and ALL their mind.
Steve with a youngster at mini-clinic in Miguel’s garage. He couldn’t help him with his homework, but he did make many feel better.
The team sorted medicines again tonight, preparing bags for clinics in Gentilhomme and Malasi. We will be crossing the border on Wednesday with our first stop in the mountain village of Gentilhomme.
Steve held a mini-clinic in Miguel’s garage earlier in the day, seeing many adults and children from the church and school in Jimani. He felt it was a successful warm-up for the days ahead.
Steve, Lisa and Eileen’s church has a special relationship with Jimani. They are raising the support to build the Monte Pou Kris church — the fourth C4C Haitian church on the island. In following up Jordan and me tonight, Miguel spoke about the HIStory of the Jimani church, and how it grew from a small body that rented property to a larger church that is in the process of building. He said this is because God sent Climbing For Christ here, and God continues to use brothers and sisters in Christ to nurture and support one another to His glory. We are blessed to be His hands and feet among the Haitian people. We know that the good work He has begun in us will be carried on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Monday, Jan. 31
For the Western USA team members it was a full day of travel — flying out of Denver, Colo. shortly after midnight, meeting Jordan and me in New York City early this morning, flying to Santo Domingo, and then making the tedious six-hour drive to the Dominican frontier town of Jimani. We arrived in Jimani around 11 p.m. local time. The trip was not without incident. One of our 11 duffel bags was suspiciously missing when the flights ended and then Dominican customs officials decided to inspect all of the medical supplies (as team members prayed). They seized a handful of bottles of vitamins that were past the expiration date but still good, especially in dirt-poor mountain villages where there is no medical assistance. Satan, get behind us.
The team is a little tired, but excited to be here. We are sleeping tonight at the Episcopal church in Jimani and will be working in Jimani on Tuesday before heading for the hills of Haiti on Wednesday. Four of the six American members have a combined 18 missions to Haiti. For Eileen and Justin it’s a new experience, although they have lived it vicariously through their family. Eileen is Lisa's mom and Justin is Dr. Steve’s nephew. This is a family affair. Of course, we are all related through the blood of Jesus. And it’s in His name that we have come to serve.
Sunday, Jan. 30
Dr. Steve serving the Lord on Mission: Haiti 2008.
“I know that God had His hand on choosing the participants for this upcoming trip,” Steve Quakenbush was saying recently. “May every moment be spent being His hands and feet so that all the glory will go to our awesome Savior, Jesus Christ.
“What a joy it is to be able to serve the 'least of these!'”
Dr. Steve, our resident Mission: Haiti team physician, will be heading for the Chaine de la Selle hills for the fourth time in a little more than three years. He'll be rejoined by five other veterans of Mission: Haiti — Americans Lisa Mehle Glab (third trip), Jordan Rowley (second), and me (ninth), along with Haitians Miguel Rubén Guante (ninth) and Rosie Joseph (third). There will also be two newcomers on the team — Lisa's mother (Eileen Lakey) and Steve's nephew (Justin Johnson). [CLICK HERE for team bios.]
“We have organized health education classes this time, including some formal midwife training, in addition to the usual clinics,” Steve said, describing some of what God has planned for this team.
We will be educating villagers about oral hygiene, clean water, respiratory issues, and personal hygiene issues related to toilets and skin problems. Steve calls it “trying to take this trip 'to the next level.'”
Additionally, there will be Vacation Bible School teachings for the children, seminary training for pastors and church leaders from a dozen villages, visits to other villages, and, of course, the usual divine appointments to answer.
“The things that God is allowing us to do on this mission are turning out to be amazing,” Steve added. “I pray He is pleased with our work.”
The team is ready to go.