Saturday, 14 July 2012

We havehad a fabulous day in Haiti today. It started by heading across the border for the last time and we will stay in Ouanaminthe for the next 2 nights. We met with the church leaders this morning and Vic spoke about evangelism. To be fair the church is already very good at that because they did street evangelism and 36 people came to Jesus. We then went with the ladies of the church to buy the food for the big Meal tomorrow. Let's just say it wasn't quite like a trip to Tesco. We bought 20 chickens still alive and then hung them all on a pole attached to the back of a motorbike back to the church. Back at the church the ladies proceeded to kill the chickens and then skin them. There is also lots of rice and tomatoes and limes and garlic. The women of the church will be cooking all night and feeding nearly 600 people tomorrow. It is a real joy to be able to have fellowship in this way with the church. We have developed strong bonds in this team and really moved the relationship forward. We had a good chat with the pastor about sponsoring more children in Haiti and also helping some of the reliable people in the church get to university. We can make a real difference to people's life here provided God moves the hearts of people back home to sacrifice their money. We also visited two hospitals today and it is heartbreaking to see the conditions. Particularly the UNICEF tents for cholera victims. If we could bring a mission medic team here that would be amazing. We then saw a proper football game with lots of people watching. Vic could see a team in green and white playing there soon. Please check out the to see how we are trying to use football to raise money for the school. We are finishing the night having dinner in Ouanaminthe. It is fried chicken all round. This has been a wonderful day and tomorrow will be amazing too. This will be the last blog for the team until we are home. Thanks for all your prayers this far and please pray for tomorrow and that we will get home safe. As a leader of the team can I end by saying a heartfelt thanks to the team. Thy have all been wonderful. Lisa's wit and maturity beyond her years has been fantastic for the team. Anna's joy with the children, her kindness to the children and to me (despite my jokes) has been wonderful. Jan is so caring and really looks after the rest of the team and provides us with a fair bit of unintentional humour. Vic has been a rock and his wisdom and insight not to mention his commitment to the people of Haiti has been an inspiration to me (he will give me a kicking for this). I can't thank them all enough for their willingness to make friends and dive in to every situation. Thanks Guys. His Bless you all. As I finish writing this a jazz band has just set up and started playing and they are amazing. This is a great night and a great end to a great day.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Fun in the sun

Thursday 12th July
Our chauffeur's arrived early this morning and escorted us to Ouanaminthe. That trip has become so familiar now. Jan and I were dropped off at the border so the Pastor could go and make sure the others were ok. We found ourselves in a very surreal moment, sitting under an umbrella, on the border of Dajabon and Ouanaminthe with complete strangers. However, we managed to make friends with them by buying a pen from their stall.
As we arrived in the church, all the leaders had already gathered and were sitting in their groups eager to get strated. There was a buzz of exciteent and slight nervousness around the room. It was a strange feeling trying to prepare ourselves to go and walk the streets of Ouanaminthe telling people about the gospel. What a priviledge to be used by God in this way.
I was put in a group with a Haitian man from the church who doesn't understand or speak a word of English. So it was a challenging two hours as we walked round the village square and had conversations in a strange language. But again all I could do was thank God for the opportunity and the chance to be part of his work. It wasn't till we spoke to the last group of people that we found some folk who spoke English. Three guys who are local engineers, who were very keen to learn more about God and promised to come to church on Sunday.
We all gathered in the church afterwards and shared some of our expereinces. As a result, 36 people accepted Jesus into their lives which was overwhelming and a real answer to prayer.

This afternoon we had the chance to go with John Baptiste, who is a young guy from the church, to visit his school in Ouanaminthe. We met Pastor Dave who is the principle of the school and learned of the good work that goes on their.

Vic, Woodsy and I enjoyed walking back through the town and across the border while the girls got the bikes. One thing that I will definitely miss is seeing how people live here and being able to say 'bonjou' to them as we walk past.

Tonight has been another night in Cafe Beller, with lots of banter and laughs. (Probably due to the overdose of sun that we have all had today!) And to top it all, Vic and I had a wee dance in the rain. A very 'special' moment!

God is using us in many ways out here and showing new blessing every day.
Thanks for all your prayers and support :)

p.s. Lisa is awesome...

Prayer and fasting

Wed 11th July
This morning we joined the church for a morning of prayer and fasting. It was powerful and a privilege to be part of such an amazing church. While Vic and Woosdy continued the discipleship training, us ladies were lead off to the school to do crafts with the children, which was a quiet peaceful time for us and the kids. And they were able to their mats they made and their drawings back to mum.
We have all benn seperated and put in groups from the church to go and evangelise on the streets of Ouanaminthe tomorrow! Watch this space. Thank you for all your prayers.
Over and out.

Jan's gone (Coco) nuts!

Tuesday 10th July
This morning it was a jump on the bikes and off to the church. Vic and Woodsy were both teaching the church leaders in some discipleship training. It was an amazing morning with loud amen and nodding heads - in agreement with the teachihng that is, not nodding off! I learned a lot from what the guys had to say. After this a group of us, villagers, the pastor and the team, all went to see the land that Mission Internation bought last year. One of the young men who was with us was very brave and climbed a coconut tree, something he had never done before and dropped enough down for all pf us. I got my first coconut milk shower! but it was well worth it.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Market Day and Giving Gifts.

Hot today in Haiti 90+ Headed towards the border this morning but had to detour to load up on water. Each person needs to carry about approx 5 litres of water across to stave off dehydration. Sadly the water in Haiti is not safe for Europeans who have no defences against the bacteria lurking in the water. Passage across was wild. The crossing was seething with bodies and vehicles of every description. Hand carts loaded way beyond their capacity with bags of grain and rice and being pushed by very thin sinewy old men. Woman Balancing everything from huge buckets piled dozens high on their heads too heaps of blankets that look as if they would crush your neck vertebra. The roar of 125cc taxi motorbikes of every vintage crossing back and forth across the bridge to make as much money as they can in the market day rush. A crossing could net them as much as 30 pence. The skill and risk these guys take is like nothing you have ever witnessed. The Dominicans have built a huge shed like building to house and keep the market in the border zone and not on their territory. Over we went keeping a tight hold of our packs as the desperate can just snatch and run off with them. The kids were waiting for us at the church. We had brought the cases of kids clothing and toys that we'd loaded up with in the uk. After songs, games and a very long session of the hokey kokey that the kids love :-) we fitted the kids with clothes and toys. And do you know what the star toy was ? A bottle of soapy bubbles that cost a quid for 16 of them out the pound shop. The kids screams were incredible at seeing them. Fortunately one of the girls on the team had transported about two gallon of the wee bottles so all the kids got their share. I'm half way through teaching them ' we've got Jimmy Jimmy Johnstone on the wing ' the repetition of the words and harmony makes it easier for the toatsie kids to follow. And I'm claiming my right as an ageing hoopster to immortalise the heroes of my era :-)

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Football in Haiti

We had the much anticipated re-match of Scotland v Haiti in football today in Ouanaminthe.  Things did not bode well given Vic and I are in the twilight of our careers but fortunately Anna and Lisa are young so we were confident that we would have a chance to win.  Graciously the Haitians gave us some of their players to make up a team.  We had to go and buy a ball before we started which took around 40 mins and then had to find something to inflate it with.  By the time all of that was done we were kicking off in the midday heat.  As you can imagine it is pretty hot here at the best of times but when you play football in it, it takes on a whole new dimension. 

It is amazing the power of football in just about every country of the world and Haiti is no different.  Vic had brought a full set of strips for the Haitians and their team looked fantastic in the team photo before hand.  They looked very professional and nothing like their Scottish counterparts.  We won this match last year but it was not to be a repeat this time round.  Although we scored early and held the lead till half time, a combination of good play from the Haitians and tiredness in the heat from us saw the Haitians run out deserved 2 - 1 winners in the end.  It was cool because it made the crowd very happy.  We probably had about 100 people watching the game, some even sitting on the roofs of houses etc.  We have started a hoops 4 haiti iniative which aims to tie in with Celtic football club and generate much needed funds to build the school.  If we can use the power of football and the pwer of God to change this part of Haiti it will be fantastic.  Please pray for the work we are doing here and that we will build lasting friendships with those we played with and against today. 

All of this came after a Friday where we spend more time working with the children in the church.  we are really starting to bond with the children now and have started to teach them phrases in English.  They particularly enjoyed the MI team trying to say John 3 v 16 in Creole. It was a market day and so there were less kids (probably about 60) today but that was good in some ways because it gave us more space to play games with them.  We taught them the hokey cokey which makes me sweat when I do it in Scotland, doing it two or three times in the Church in Haiti makes me look like I have just had a shower in my clothes. 

The market day was also an experience.  Basically on a Monday and a Friday the Haitians are allowed to go the market in dajabon and buy things to sell in ouanaminthe.  The border becomes a seething mass of people but there is also a lot of sadness there too.  As is often the case the weak get left by the wayside.  It is also quite intimidating for 5 white people to walk through.  We are very grateful for the people like Wilner who look after us and keep us safe in those situations.  It is not the same border crossing as last year because it has been closed on safety grounds and so all the people cross in the one place and that makes life very difficult. 

It was a good day though because I was able to go to the market in ouanaminthe with the Pastor and buy 10 bibles in Creole for the Church.  We will be running a discipleship course next week with the leaders of the church and it is important that they have sripture in front of them.  They are not expensive for us but they are expensive for them and so it was a great privilege to be able to buy some for the Church.  I pray that God will use them to develop the Church in Ouanaminthe. 

Before we left, we were reminded of the difficulties of life here.  One girl in the church wasvery ill and did not have enough money for medicine.  We were able to help out a little bit with that which is nice but the Pastor confided in me that it is a real burden for him to have so many people in his Church struggling for health and being able to do so little to help them.  Hopefully in the years ahead we can start to lift that burden just a little bit. 

Finally, please pray for the team that we will continue to stay safe and well.  From a leaders point of view the team has been fantastic.  I am so honoured to be here with them.  Vic will be preaching tomorrow in the Church so please pray for God's blessing on him as well. 

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read our blog and to pray for us, it means more than you will know to all of us here. 

God Bless

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Good Starts and Hard Finishes

Todays trip over the border into Haiti coincided with the arrival of the Haitian President in the area and much like when the Queen visits an area everybody becomes a jobsworth. So today the border guards decided that our usual free passage would now cost $40 each evrytime we crossed! Enter stage left Pastor Rolex Poisson. Not a man to be trifled with in this area if you know whats good for you. After some very cool reasoned debate, the rude and bolshy border officer melted like snow off a dyke in summer. Strike one the Pastor. onto the church and the kids. This was one of the biggest and best kids work sessions that we've had so far. We reckon there were about 140 children in the church. After some really dodgy acting from the MI story tellers and some fun songs the kids were treated to some sweets and more mayhem from the team in the form of handing out Celtic strips to the kids under the Hoops4Haiti initiative which will drive funding to the area..All i'll say is if I have to wear a Davey Cooper Rangers shirt for Haiti funding then Woodsy had to don the Hoops :-) Woodsy and myself then  headed out at the Pastor's request to meet a family in some serious difficulty. This is the tough part. When we arrived this wee family of three was cramped into what wasn't even a shack of polythene and bits of wood built around a very old bedstead. Due to illness the dad Antonio couldn't afford to pay for the rent of the ground it was on and hey were about to lose even this bit of scant protection from the elements.Thankfully the immediate danger has been averted and Antonio, Paulette and baby Routla have some cover for a while longer.Importantly we manged to pray with them our brother and sister ain Christ asking for god's protection and love upon them. I made the mistake of trying to cover the hurt in my heart for this wee family with anger and put myself on a right downer. We made our way back to pick Lisa, Jan and Anna to continue with our visits in the community.In one house alone 4 young women made it clear to the pastor that they would like to become Christians and ask the Lord into their hearts. A very special moment of singing and praying took place there and then on the doorstep which the Pastor and Church will follow up on to support the young Christians in their journey. A tropical rainstorm curtailed our visit short and we had to hightail it to the border before it closed. And hey ho, the president had left and ther was no longer a $40 requirement to cross! As I stood in the torrential rain and watched, we were excited at the sight of running torrents in the gutters and warm rain bouncing of fconcrete,yet i could not get Antonio, Paulette and baby Routla in their shack. the rain would not be exciting or fun for them.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Ouanaminthe at last.

We have made it to Ouanaminthe although it took till Monday night. We flew from Port au Prince to Cap Haitian on Tortuga air in a very dodgy plane. The flight was amazing though and it was a real blessing to see so much of Haiti from the air. It is a very beautiful country For Vic and I the journey from Cap Haitian to Ouanaminthe on the bus was a bit like coming home. It really is such a privilege to be back and to meet the people we got to know from last year. The first stop was the church and it has changed a lot which is such an encouragement. Unfortunately we were too late to get across the border into our hotel in Dajabon and so we spent the night in Ouanaminthe. It really gave all of us a new insight into just how tough life is in Haiti. We slept at the pastors house and had dinner in a local restaurant. Walking the streets in the darkness is a reminder of how blessed we are to live in the UK. The more travel I do I'm the world the more convinced I am that what we have at home is the exception not the norm. Sleep was not easy to come by to be honest partly because of the bugs but mainly thanks to the dogs the cockerels and the pleasant chap who started shouting into a microphone at 5am. We will be staying in Haiti again for several nights on the way home so please continue to pray for that. The main issues are that we have enough drinking water and that we won't catch any nasty bugs. I have to say at this point that the three girls on the team have been truly amazing and an inspiration. It was a very hard journey and they have coped with everything so well and with grace and joy. They have been a real blessing to Vic and I. In truth I am the weak link of the team. When we got up we had our first time with the kids in the church. We had the chance to play duck duck goose and the kids lived that. It means a lit to all the people we meet that we have come back again. For us it is fantastic to see them again and we can already see our relationships deepen. Please keep praying for us on the team. We have had a light day today (Wednesday) but from now on the program is pretty full. Thanks for all your support and your prayers it is much appreciated.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Arrival in Port au Prince

Hi Everyone.  Greetings from Haiti and Port au Prince.

We have arrived in Haiti after a long trip through the US.  The heat and humidity in Haiti is just as we remember it being. Port au Prince is a very different experience from our travels last year and as you can imagine when you get out of the aiport it is very busy with people offering to pick up our bags.  Even the baggage reclaim was good with people arguing and fighting over trolleys and a little Haitian band playing live music in the corner to welcome us to Haiti. 

Our hotel in Port au Prince is good and clean and initially we thought it had air conditioning until we realised that it doesn't work.  Sleeping in this heat does not get any easier, particularly when you have to share a bed with Vic McLaughlin. 

Today we travel on to Cap Haitian and then take the road to Ouanaminthe and will probably have to stay there overnight. 

It is great to see the Pastor again and we look forward to seeing the Church and the others we know from last year.  The team is getting on really well and Anna has cheered us all up by purchasing a special forces water bottle in New York so she is now known as Commando Anna. 

Please pray for us all, for safe travel and that we will settle quickly and that for Vic and I who are back again that we will make more connections with people and that for Jan, Lisa and Anna that they will come to love those people like we do. 

Thank you all so much for your support and your love, we will hopefully update the blog again in the next few days when we finally make it to Dajabon in the Dominican Republic. 

God Bless