Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Another fulfilling successful day!

Tuesday April 12, 2016

When we arrived at the church this morning we had some time to fellowship with everyone before starting praise and worship.

I am not sure if we mentioned this in any of the previous posts, but we are happy to say that Pastor Weston (from Villa Alpha) has been able to attend every day of the conference so far.  We are hoping this will help him network with other churches to begin a relationship that could help Villa Alpha in the future.  We know that going to Villa Alpha was God’s plan; however we are not sure where we need to go from there yet.  In the meantime, we feel that by attending this conference it is a good step in the right direction for his village.

We went into praise/worship session and then split into our groups like yesterday. Cindy taught on Abraham & Sarah and then continued into Proverbs 31.  The women enjoyed this study and had several questions (which Cindy did an amazing job answering).  Pastor Todd taught out of 1 Peter 5, the Justified Pastor. The church leaders had a discussion about Timothy, Paul’s son in the faith and the need for the church leaders to make disciples by mentoring. Fighting the good fight from I Timothy was also discussed. Eric led a discussion about love and leading others to Christ.
After lunch Cindy taught a joint session on spiritual depression –a continuance of studies she’s been doing at First Baptist!  Further evidence that all of you back home truly are here with us and all of our Bible studies have been instrumental in leading us to this point!  At 2 pm Glenda, Jenn, & Des went to the school for VBS.  It was the PERFECT ending to the last day of our VBS sessions.  We had 51 kids attend from ages 9-12.  We had the honor of reading them letters and sharing cards from the students at Central Elementary….this was very entertaining because Mrs. Glynda was trying to tell the Haitian students about ‘wrestling’ and even tried to demonstrate some moves!  We also taught on Jesus’ love, interacted with the children through songs, activities and discussion and when 4 pm rolled around, we had a difficult time leaving for the day.  It was a very fulfilling day ---we could NOT have asked for Gods light to shine brighter!

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of the truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15

Good night from Haiti!

John, Jenn, and Dez

Monday, April 11, 2016

Monday April 11, 2016

The conference began in full force this morning with 15 pastors. Todd and Eric began talking about Grace; which is growing to be the theme of our conference. There were about 20 church leaders and the discussion began concerning a praying church and moved into being a Christian soldier. There was much discussion concerning grace.

Cindy, Glynda, Des, and Jenn had about 40 women and the discussion centered on Hannah. Our interpreter Keby’s mother and a few helpers provided a meal of chicken and rice.  John and Glynda spoke on the 5 Love Languages with the help of Jack and Freda Jones (Thank you so much Jack and Freda for your wisdom!!!).

Glynda, Des and Jenn went down to the school to lead VBS from 2-4. They taught the children a song Mark and Cindy came up with years ago, which they have used in Africa also…it was a huge hit (check out the video on Aaron’s Facebook). They had planned for 50 kids, however they reached 91 before the day was over.  A lot of adjusting had to be done, but it was a very rewarding experience to see so many children wanting to come learn about Jesus’ love.  We made do with smaller sandwiches and sharing water!  We also continued a project we started on Sunday making pictures frames for all of the students-this has been tedious as we must take an individual picture of each student!  Their pictures are gorgeous and we cannot wait to present these gifts to Madam Patrick at the school!  We also started a large mural with painted handprints---these kids make us smile!!!  They are making this mural for Central since they were so awesome in donating school supplies!  And once again, when considering the change in numbers, plans, and activities, we learned the need for flexibility.

We are trusting God will do His work, not only in the lives of the Haitian people, but in our lives as well. After seeing Village Alpha on Saturday it makes you wonder what God has in store for these people. It would be very easy to become overwhelmed and not do anything at all. However, that is not acceptable. We are convinced that God has called us to Haiti to point others to Jesus and the way to do that IS by doing pastoral leadership conferences, to encourage our Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ and to network the churches.  God’s word never returns void. We may never see the fruits of God’s labor in our lifetime, but that will not keep us from sowing the seed.

“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire.  And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it."  Isaiah 55:11

Good night from Haiti! 

-John, Jenn, and Dez 

Sunday, a Day of Worship

What a marvelous day of worship it has been!!  I can honestly say it compares to none other!!!

We started with our usual routine of breakfast, devotion, and reading of Ms. Connie’s card.  Ms. Connie you have been such an encouragement to the entire team!!  As you already know, God anointed the words you wrote before we even left American soil!  HE is SO good!!
Unlike America , church services begin anywhere between 5:45 AM and 7:00 AM.  Due to travel distance and the need for sleep, we did not attend SS but we were off and running at 7:00.  After approximately an hour of worship, song, reading of scripture, and prayer Pastor Todd brought an anointed message about facing our fears.  He used the story of David and Goliath out of 1 Samuel 17.  In view of what most of the congregation has, and continues to face…ie, earthquake, loss of home and multiple family members, scarce financial resources, down to the basics like food and water…the message brought to light a whole new perspective!  The congregation hung on every word and throughout the entire service we heard many affirmative “amens”, a few “hallelujahs”, several “Messi Seye a’”, and multiple “claps of praise”.  Our interpreter, Damendy, referred to it as congregational “feedback”.  First Baptist Church,  this may be something we need to consider. ; )

After a day lunch in Gressier we went back for the ladies to begin their first day of school.  Of course we were on Haitian time so the initial start was a little delayed but once the session began the girls were on a roll.  Papa Mark, your “one, two, Jesus loves you” was a BIG hit!!! Madame Patrick LOVED it!  Frantz (our interpreter who is totally gifted with children) created some “jiven” moves to it and now EVERYONE is singing it!!!

While the ladies were engaging with the students, registration was beginning at the conference.  Then around 3:30 our initial praise and worship began.  Following worship in song, Pastor Todd gave a follow up message to the morning’s sermon…”Failure is Not Final”.  The Truth of the Word is that there is only one final mistake, one final failure that lasts for eternity…the rejection of the sacrifice Jesus made at Calvary.  After the message we proceeded in an attitude of worship and self reflection by participating in the Lord’s supper.  This is the part that I don’t know how to pen on this page…even if it is possible?  Each person walked to the alter and Pastor Todd served everyone their bread and John served the juice.  As I proceeded in to take my piece of bread I looked at Todd and there are no words to describe the humility that he exhibited on his face.  I was instantly overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit and knew we were embarking upon a display of our Savior’s glory, humility, and grace that we were not accustomed to.  As I walked back to my seat,I asked Dez to get a picture of Pastor Todd if at all possible.  I desperately wanted those of you back home to be able to have a visual of the type of man God has placed in authority over our church body.  

After everyone was served, Pastor Todd then went to the microphone.  He very gently and humbly announced to Pastor Claude that the Holy Spirit was leading him to wash Pastor Claude’s feet. Todd then very humbly knelt and began to wash Pastor Claude feet.  This was not a drama act, a show, it was a humbled man kneeling before the pastor that he had come to pour into for the next four days.  The Holy Spirit power and embracement sat down in a way that I personally have never experienced before.  That was a true “Remembrance of Him”…an example that Christ had set before the disciples before making His journey to the cross.  In ways, that is what Todd is facing.   This trip has been spiritually and emotionally draining.   Todd is getting ready to pour out on these men like he has never done before.  I ask the church body to intercede for him this week like you have never done before.  That will be the only thing that will sustain him...God’s grace and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

If nothing else occurs this week this trip has been a success and a divine appointment from God.  But, I KNOW GREAT THINGS are in store for us this week.  We have just skimmed the top. 
We love you all!!! We miss and love our families beyond words.  Know it is because of YOU we can come.  Travis and Scott, we’re praying for you as you exemplify what it truly is to stand in the gap and be Super Mom!  Tammy, I’m thrilled to hear how God provided you a ticket to come to Haiti!! 
;)  Extra hugs and kisses to our families!
For His Glory ~ Cindy

Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’  ‘No. said Peter, ‘You shall never wash my feet?’  Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’  John 7-8

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Villa Alpha

What a great day it has been today! I am always in awe in how our Lord works to direct our steps!! He IS our front and rear guard..."opening doors" and networking in ways unimaginable!

Our morning started out a little different that what we had originally plan.  Imagine that!! ;)  Due to the heavy rains making the roads up to the mountains impassible, God redirected us to a different village near Carrefour..."Villa Alpha".  Shortly after our arrival to the villa we discovered the van had a flat tire.  Once again God provided our every need while at the same time covered us with His divine protection.

Originally, we thought we were going to an orphanage. What we discovered is that this village was a community that had been "rebuilt" near the ocean's edge after the earthquake. From what we were able to assess, the population is predominantly women and children and the "housing" has been constructed on top of and next to the cities' landfill.   Most dwellings are constructed of tents and tarps with the more fortunate having some cardboard and metal sheeting. 

This village has no water source with the exception of a nearby leather manufacturing plant.  The plant has one main faucet that expels unfiltered water out from the plant thru the outer wall of the building.  The owner/operator of this plant has given the community permission to access this as their main (one and only) water supply.  While the community is extremely grateful to have this source of water, there is great concern regarding the safety in drinking the water.  The water is not purified and in all likelihood has many toxins in it (along with bugs and insects).  Also, in this community, there are no restrooms...public or private...the ocean's edge serves this purpose.  Needless to say this was a bit overwhelming for us.  It was something my eyes had never seen! :'(

What is absolutely THRILLING to me is that God, in His sovereignty, has raised up a Pastor (Pastor Senat Jean Wesner) out of this villa and has placed a pressing desire in his heart to lead this community to a personal relationship with the Most High, ALL powerful God!  

Right on the out skirts this community they have constructed a small church.  This national pastor and his wife not only run the church but they also have a "boy's and girl's club" every Saturday. Previously, they had tried holding "school" for the children yet did not have the resources to run or maintain it.  To our knowledge, the children in this community are unschooled. What is so exciting about this is that God lead us to this isolated pastor and his wife BEFORE our conference!  ODF has extended a special invitation to him, his wife, and "youth leader" to come to the conference.  This will be a significant way for Pastor Wesner to connect with local pastors! 

Originally our plan had been to go up into the mountain to do VBS with aprox 50 children and to teach general hygiene and nutrition to 50 adults.  Now that we were on "plan B" Glynda along with most of the team went into the "boys club" and interacted with the children while I went to the church and taught the women on handwashing and general hygiene.  Keby, our lead interpreter, was over filled with joy in how the day went!! I was right there with him!!!  I could not be more proud of our team!! Glynda was definitely in her element with the children. The love ( HIS love) she pours out over those kids is amazing as well as inspiring!  Jennifer and Dez jumped in with both feet and you'd thought by the end of the day they had been doing this kind of stuff for years!!  Another highlight of the morning was when John presented the "Good News" with the salvation dolls!  WOM, thank YOU!!!  During the adult session the ladies asked many questions and were very open in discussing multiple health issues.

After we had concluded the teaching sessions, Pastor Wesner took us on a guided tour of the community.  Of course each team member had their own personal escorts ranging from 3-10 yrs old! ;) Travis, I do want to warn you that you may have a surprise in Jenn's luggage when she gets home!  Getting her to say bye to one baby was about all she could stand!

Our afternoon was spent getting ready for conference...sorting supplies, looking for supplies, and delivering supplies.  Keby has done an EXCELLENT job in tending the the logistics.  It is a HUGE task!  Thank you Jesus!  We concluded the days activities with a nice dinner at a local restaurant. As much as the day was emotionally taxing, it was filled with much joy and laughter!!

Now to praises and prayers concerns...
We praise God for the privilege of having a new "opened door".
We praise Him for His sovereign guidance and protection.
We praise Him that all the team members got a good night's sleep and they are all healthy
We pray for the upcoming conference... specifically John and Todd doing the opening sessions.
We pray for Pastor Todd as he brings the morning message.  
We ask for divine wisdom and insight for any follow up that needs to be done in Villa Alpha.

Remember, prayer moves mountain!  Thank you for interceding!
For His Glory! ~ Cindy

"Jesus replied, 'Everyone who drinks some of this water will be thirsty again.  But whoever drinks some of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.'   John 4:13-14

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Day 2

Good Morning from Haiti!!! 

So many exciting things happening today as we share His word and continue preparations for our 4 day Pastoral conference!  We started our morning with breakfast and devotion!  We spent the first half of the day visiting the supermarket (westernized) and a large outdoor fresh market!  We were able to meet several Haitians as we moved from stall to stall purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables which required some ‘bartering’ skills—this is why our interpreters are such a huge asset to our team!  We unexpectedly and unknowingly encountered a booth with Voodoo paraphernalia but our interpreters quickly steered us away!  Our market experience was invaluable for multiple reasons, especially because of our desire to learn and understand Haitian culture!

After a brief lunch, we headed to a local school supply store to pick up supplies that had been pre-ordered by Keby, one of our interpreters!  We did have a small hiccup with our van overheating but after requesting a little intercessory prayer, we were back on the road! 
Next, we headed to a meeting with our Haitian leadership team at the local church where we will host our Pastoral leadership conference!  This is the very same church that ODF visited in February of 2015 and my, how things have changed!  This church was destroyed during the Haiti earthquake and was in the beginning stages of being rebuilt when we visited a year ago! God has done great things here and the progress speaks for itself!  We LOVED seeing what this congregation has accomplished!  We covered the conference itinerary and met with Madame Patrick to discuss the schedule for VBS at her school. During the conversation with Madame Patrick (through an interpreter) we discovered our group of expected children had grown from 100 to 150 and although we had only planned for 2 days with the children at her school, we are very excited to tell you now will be doing 3 days at her school.  Madame Patrick had already arranged for 50 children to come in to school on Sunday and they were very excited to participate in VBS so we are very thankful for this additional opportunity!  We, as Americans, tend to set schedules and itineraries that we expect to follow. However, we have consistently prayed for the ability to be flexible when plans or needs change.  We are continually reminded of Proverbs 16:9… “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

By this time, we were hungry, hot, and tired so Keby picked out a restaurant where we could sit down and have pizza.  Leaving the church, we ran into a traffic jam that made Dallas look easy to navigate.   We were amazed at our drivers skills as he navigated through the traffic where a 2 lane road instantly became 4…it put a whole new perspective to the phrase “free for all” J.  Shortly after arriving at the restaurant it started to rain very hard and although we did not realize it at the time, rain meant God was changing our plans for the following day.  Keby received a phone call advising us we could not go up to a mountain village as we had previously planned.  We were all really sad to hear this news but once again realized---God has a plan and we must stay flexible!  Originally, our back up plan was to go to the orphanage, however Keby contacted a several locals who spoke of a village in need that had not previously been visited by any Americans called Villa Alpha.  We all agreed that this was where we were called to go!  We hope to share pictures soon but we do have limited WI-FI!

Therefore, I will praise You among the nations, O Lord.  I will sing praises to Your name. Psalms 18: 49

-Jenn & Dez

Friday, April 8, 2016

He prepareth our way!!!

As I reflect back on the day’s activities… even the last 3 months my heart is overwhelmed with the faithfulness of our Savior!! Today’s travel could not have gone any better! Ok …maybe one thing…Dez got her sunscreen confiscated going through security. : )  God is such a God of details!!!  There are so many examples!...the Holy Spirit prompting me not to forget some important phone numbers, two kind gentlemen unloaded all of our luggage out of the van, no one in line when we arrive at XNA to check in, all 12 pieces of luggage were packed to the exact weight, perfect flight connections, just enough time to get a nice lunch before leaving the States, no wait going through customs upon arriving in Port au Prince, no problem claiming our luggage, all 12 pieces arrived, security allowed our interpreter, Keby, into the “secure” area to greet us, down to traffic being minimal getting to the guest house!  Not only was I overwhelmed with His faithfulness, I was very minded of the power of intercessory prayer. YOUR prayers!!!  The team has had countless communications throughout the day reminding us that everyone is praying for us.  Please know that through this upcoming week you, our church family, are our Aaron and Hur.  It is through prayer that you will be holding our arms up enabling the battle to be won!!!

If that were not enough, God continued to pour His blessing out on us by allowing us to have a divine appointment on our Altlanta flight involving one of our flight attendants.  This attendant had been kind enough to strike up a conversation with Desiree.  After Des informed her that ODF was going to be doing a Leadership conference in Carrefour, the attendant asked Des of other locations for ODF mission trips.  Des informed her that we had done several trips to West Africa to which the attendant responded by telling us she was from Senegal!!   In fact, this precious young lady was of the Wolof people group and she has dual citizenship in both the US and Senegal.  She has lived in the states for 26 years but makes 2-3 monthly flights to Dakar as a flight attendant with Delta each month.  By the end of our conversation God had allowed me to show her pictures of our work in the Casamance, including the schools and medical clinic.  She then proceeded to tell me of a gentleman located in Atlanta who is instrumental in transporting medical and educational materials to Dakar.  She gave me all of her contact information and said she would love to assist us in getting medical supplies to our clinic.  Only God can network such a meeting as this!!!  If for no other reason, He continues to show if we will walk in obedience to His call He will flex in ways we could never imagine!!  He IS our Jehovah Jireh!!

Once we were through the airport it didn’t take long to realize that our van was quickly filling up with luggage…I guess you might say our “cup runneth over”.  God quickly provided us with a second vehicle and we were off and running.  Traffic was minimal and we were able to get a nice meal before going to the Guest house.  Our accommodations have been more than we expected:  what a blessing!  Thank you Jesus!  We will begin organizing and preparing for our leadership conference first thing in the morning, rest assured much to share….until then:  many blessings from your ODF Haiti Mission team! 

Additions from Jenn & Des:

It is a blessing to be mentored by such a great team of missionaries with so much experience.  We have already learned so much and look forward to being a part of God ‘s plan here in Haiti!  

"It was He who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the for the work of ministry, that is to build up the body of Christ..." Ephesians 4:11-12

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thursday, March 5th -Relaxed morning...

Good-morning all!  This morning we had the privilege of sleeping in til 6:45!!!  After a delicious dish of  "bla" (pronounced "blay") made of kale, cracked wheat and carrots we headed out and assisted with Christianville's sponsorship program. For those familiar it reminded me a lot of IRCD in Dakar.  There were 24 students...the youngest 15 y/o.  We did photos of each child, ht/wts, took family history, gave "goodie bags" and the Pastor Todd prayed with each child.  These children were very healthy, well educated, and very well behave.  It went like clock work.  There was one young man, Louie, who spoke 5 languages and his dream is to be a surgeon.  How encouraging it is to see the desire in the students to learn and pursue their dreams!

Today the team is going out to an "orphanage" that I visited in November.  Actually it is a lady who has taken in 14 children that were left as orphans after the earthquake.  We are hoping to be able to drop by a few "blessings" and then we will receive far more.  They love to sing songs, quote some scripture passages, and interact with some "drama" activities. 

As we are out and about today please ask that God would divinely direct our steps, provide His sovereign protection, and begin speaking to us as to what HE wants us to do next.

We haven't had the opportunity to post a lot of pictures.  The conference was a HUGE success!!!  I don't thing we will ever know this side of heaven the impact that has been made.  Since pictures speak louder words, following are some of the highlights of the week....
Dr. Bob teaching at Christianville on Sat

Church Sunday at Christianville

Baptism at Christianville Sunday

School the Ladies ministered at..

Todd's breakout session w/Pastors

Communion to begin the conference w/pure hearts!

Guys in the "TapTap"

Glynda interacting w/our lady interpreters, Lorette and Sarah.

Ladies w/their tamborines!
Connie loving on a baby!!!
Dr. Bob and Pastor Todd interacting w/pastors