TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
Nov ember 19, 2009
Even though November 26, 2009 is not a holiday in Haiti, I will still be reminded of things to be thankful for.
This year was filled with the blessing of fifteen (15) mission teams coming to serve the ministry here. Overjoyed with the abundance of willing volunteers, the time to expand out into other areas of Haiti is very evident. Teams are now going to Jacmel and soon to Cap Haitien and Ouanaminthe and possibly to work with the Haitian sugar cane worker communities in the Dominican Republic.
Teams have come willing to do what needed to be done. A recent team worked at GRACE School on Ile-a-Vache. Coming to help build the school was their dream. What was needed at the time of their arrival was a latrine for the 300 + students who are now attending a school that only three short years ago consisted of 60 children meeting under a mango tree. Talk about servant hearts! These men reminded me of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. They dug and dug and dug to make that latrine a reality! Not a glamorous job, but certainly an important one! That’s what missionary work is all about. Work done for the glory of God!
The orphanages in our sponsorship program have reaped benefits of visiting missionaries too! Toting dozens of pieces of luggage, they have helped to supply food, clothes, sandals, hygiene products and many other needed items for the children of the orphanage. Those who have pledged to sponsor a child help the orphanages to operate on a daily basis. The “Children of Israel Orphanage” child count remains at 29, with no new children admitted or no adoptions during the year of 2009. We are eagerly looking forward to starting the wall around the new orphanage campus early next year. The “House of the Lambs of God” Orphanage continues to add new rooms to its campus and the number of girls residing there keeps growing. During my October visit there, the count was at 30 children, with more expected in the near future. The still-under-construction orphanage in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic has a waiting list of 7 boys and a long line of children that need to be added to that list. We are praying for sponsors to help make it possible for these children to also have a place to call home.
The lines for everything in Haiti are long! The line for children needing assistance to attend school will undoubtedly be longer for the 2010-2011 school year. By the end of August 2009, I had to start turning away children whose families came asking for assistance. The families were asked to pray that God would open doors for their children to be helped next school year. We were blessed to be able to help over 125 school children in the LesCayes area alone. Our volunteers, who are administering school sponsorship programs on Ile-a-Vache and in Jacmel, have found equally large numbers of children needing tuition assistance in those communities. God has blessed all of our sponsorship programs with many faithful donors. Hundreds of children are able to attend school, some of whom are fifteen years old and attending school for the first time in their lives! Generous donors have also sent us backpacks and pencils and other school supplies. In a country where most of the learning is done by memorization, due to lack of books and school supplies, these donations are a true blessing for the school children of Haiti. My joy comes when one of those students comes to me, later in the school year, to proudly show me the school uniform they now wear or display a recent report card that indicates that they are taking their education very seriously!
For the children coming to me for medical assistance, a new blessing has taken place in the last year. All of the surgeries that needed to be done this year were able to be performed right here in Haiti! A new program has brought in doctors from other countries on a regular enough basis that the kids can have surgery here, with a family member at their side. Undoubtedly, there will still be some serious surgeries that cannot be performed here and there will be cases that I cannot find help for or conditions that are too complex to be corrected. Recently, families with children with severe birth defects have come hoping for “a miracle.” Sadly, I must turn them away because even with a multitude of surgeries and therapies their child cannot be made “whole”. Those are the tough ones – the discouraging parts of the work here. I thank God for the “successes” that keep me going! What a joy it is when a little 4 year old returns to visit me who without the surgery received when she was but a year old would have certainly died! Thank you God for balancing out the hard cases with the “happy-ending” cases!
Another joy that 2009 has brought is the launching of a feeding program for the children of GRACE School! Through the efforts of a ministry called Trinity HOPE, over 300 school children are now being fed a nutritionally-balanced meal EVERY school day. Previously, the children of this community often would find themselves without food to eat once the fruit-bearing season had ended. Families were too poor to buy expensive rice, when growing season was past. The children sometimes resorted to eating dirt when hunger pains grew too severe. What a HUGE blessing the school feeding program is! Not only are little bellies now getting nutrition on school days, but the children can now study without hunger pains invading every fiber of their bodies making it impossible for them to learn.
God has granted miracles large and small! The biggest miracle has been that of the reality of the building GRACE School. My husband was called “crazy” by his friends when he mentioned his dream for a school/clinic/vocational center/guesthouse in the community of his birth. He did not have even a dime in his pocket to make a start. But God did! My husband and I talk often about what an amazing God we have, as evidenced by the building of the school and the outpouring of people willing to help make it happen! The first floor is all finished (except for the cosmetic items) and already people are scrambling around to find funding for the second and third floors. Only a Great God can make things like this happen! Isn’t He amazing?!?!?
When you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal this year, I am sure you will reflect on all that you have to be grateful for, even in light of the poor economy that has faced everyone in the last year! Please add a special prayer at your table for the children of Haiti!
I will not be sitting down to a meal with a stuffed turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, but I will certainly be thankful for all of you who have found various ways to help make a difference in the lives of Haitian children! What an amazing God we serve!
Nora Léon Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time ………….