Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Our Final Day in Haiti

February 24, 2014 (7 weeks ago)
Guest Post by Daniella M.

Our last day in Haiti.

Experiencing the outdoor market, visiting the Apparent Project, and giving out about 100 plates of fruit and many balloons at an orphanage was a perfect way to end our trip!

In the morning Will and I went to the market together and had fun trying on some clothes and bartering to get the 'Haitian price' instead of the 'blan' price.

 
It was a very interesting place; each 'booth' consisted of a bunch of nailed together boards with tarps overtop, all connected but on different levels with concrete steps everywhere.
 
 
The vendors sold everything from fruits and vegetables to household items, pharmaceuticals, clothes and  meat! The latter could be found on the ground in large baskets basking in the sun and covered with flies! I even saw a basket with skinned baby goats, feet and fuzzy tails still attached! (No, we did NOT buy one for supper!) 
 
 
As we walked Will had some guys asking her if they could be the father of her child. Then, when we were leaving, as we side stepped piles of garbage and dodged motorcycles and tap taps, some guys asked why she hadn't found a husband in the market! She just laughed and told them she was married. Never a dull moment in Haiti!

Our next destination was the fruit market, where we bought watermelon, mangoes and bananas for all the kids at an orphanage we planned to visit that afternoon.

 
When we finished loading all the fruit there was a police truck with 3 large policemen, guns hanging out of the window, blocking our way because we were on the wrong side of the road. After some motioning and shouting on their part, and Will pointing out that she was now unable to move the Toyota because they were blocking her, we were able to go on our way.

After a quick lunch at the Krul's house and some time spent cutting up all the fruit, we stopped in at the Apparent Project, had a tour and made a few purchases.
 
 
 
 
Then, at the Rainbow of Love Orphanage, we handed out the fruit and balloons. The kids loved it! They also loved looking at the pictures of Canada we brought along.

 
 
 
 
And so our final day in Haiti ended.

Our whole trip really was an awesome, life-changing experience for us, full of adventures and amazing memories!

Thanks Krul family for letting us be part of your lives for a couple of weeks and for your care and support for the duration of our stay!

Our goofy parting shot!

 

Back to the Capital

February 22, 2014 (7 weeks ago)
Guest Post by Daniella M.

As we made our way back from the beach to the capital city we were once again mesmerized by all the things we saw: broken shacks, crowded together; mothers sweeping their tiny yards while naked babies crawled around beside them; skinny cows and goats wandering over the busy highway; overcrowded tap taps with wheelbarrows, tires and wood strapped to the top; and big trucks barreling down the road loaded with sacks of food while women and children slept among the sacks. 

 
 
Once inside the bustling capital we were quickly surrounded by a mass of slow moving tap taps and other vehicles.

 
At a snails pace we crawled through the busy streets where vehicles moved in all directions with what looked like little rhyme or reason. We had to wait for quite sometime for a stalled vehicle and then had to weave through bustling markets as vendors tried to sell us their goods through the taxi window.

 



As we passed a crowded tent city I tried to imagine what it would be like to live there. 

 
It made me sad thinking of the squalid, cramped conditions that these people had to endure day in and day out.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Haiti's Beauty

February 19, 2014 (7 weeks ago)
Guest Post by Daniella M.

Today we took a taxi to Club Indigo to spend a few days relaxing and enjoying Haiti’s natural beauty.

Again the drive was very interesting; in the city we saw many neatly uniformed boys and girls walking to school. As we reached the outskirts of Port au Prince we saw more and more children getting rides on tap taps and motorcycles.

 
 
We also saw many women carrying heavy loads on their heads; large buckets of fruit, bricks, and 5 gallon pails of water! One lady was carrying a bag so big you couldn't see the top half of her body! Driving in Haiti is never boring, that's for sure!

We really enjoyed our time at Club Indigo and were amazed at the beauty of God's creation.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Lesson in Thankfulness

Tuesday, February 18 (7 weeks ago)
Guest Post by Daniella M.

Today Pastor Dieuson, who works for MAF, took us to the area he lives in just outside of Port au Prince.  People whose homes had been destroyed in the earthquake had been promised land here as an attempt to decentralize the capital city. 'Canaan', also known as the 'Promised Land', was made up of a mixture of tents, shacks, and simple houses surrounded by piles of bricks, rubble and patched together tin and cardboard fences.

 
Once again we were shocked at the poverty we saw.

Jason had arranged for our family to paint a house there, hand out rice and beans, and distribute some clothing and toys we had brought with us from Canada. The house we painted was one of the nicer ones in the area, but was still just plain cement walls with a tin roof.
 
 
When we arrived the family relocated the few pieces of furniture they had, including some big water barrels, and then killed a giant cockroach whose hiding place had been uncovered!

The walls were very rough so it took a lot of paint and time, but we had fun getting splattered and the family was very happy with their bright yellow room!

 
Dieuson then showed us his church, a simple, unfinished cement building with rough, wooden benches. He was so happy and proud of it!

 
Although the people we met had little, we could tell they were grateful for what did have; an important lesson for us!

Later that day many in the community gathered in the church and Dieuson explained how we had come to share with them. We then handed out bags of rice and beans, clothes, and the kids' teddies they had brought from home.
 
 
It was so heartwarming to see how happy the children where with the gifts!

 
It was also special to see my own two girls happily handing out their toys.

We let one guy take pictures of us and for awhile didn’t think we would get the camera back because he was having so much fun with it!

Later outside children flocked around us wanting to communicate with us. With the little Creole I had learned, I asked them their names and held their hands.

Even though we wished we could stay longer and do more, eventually it was time to leave. As we drove away the back of the pickup truck became packed with kids getting a free ride.

Once again I could hardly keep the tears at bay.  I was thankful we could help and share, but sad to see the hardships they endured everyday. Yet they could teach us a thing or two about being thankful and finding joy in the simple pleasures of time spent with family and friends. 

 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Visiting an Orphanage, Baptist Mission and Fort Jacques

Monday, February 17 (7 weeks ago)
Guest Post by Danielle M.

Today was another adventure filled day with a visit to an orphanage, the Baptist Mission, and Fort Jacques in the mountains!

Driving to our first destination was an experience in its own. Will only had US dollars, but she needed diesel so it took quite a bit of negotiation not to get ripped off on the exchange rate at the gas station. Then as we merged back into traffic a guy with a diesel rag jumped onto the vehicle to wipe the dust off; for a price of course! When it happened a second time and Will motioned 'No', the would be wiper punched the vehicle!
 
 
Will explained that in Haiti simple errands can take a long time because of traffic and the negotiation involved in purchasing things.

We had a difficult time finding the orphanage as we only had partial directions. We drove down rough windy roads up in the mountains and ended up on a steep incline in someone’s yard! After a few tries and with some help from a friendly Haitian guy we managed to turn around again. Because of the steep terrain the vehicle began to give off a bad smell!

Will then get on her phone and after getting some more directions: 'go through a dip, turn right by a house with cones, go through an S curve, stay left at the Y etc.,' we finally found it.

Once at the orphanage we received a tour by a friend of Will's. I loved every minute we spent with the precious little babies in the first nursery! In box-like beds, premature and so tiny, their big brown eyes looking at us so intensely,I just wanted to hold them all at once!
 
 
We learned that some of the babies were just there temporarily until they got bigger and healthier and would return to their mothers, while others were dropped off and would be put up for adoption.

 
We then visited the next nursery where the 6-12 month old babies were. There were many cribs lined up in there.

 
The next room was the toddler room which consisted of a group of high energy, rambunctious little munchkins and a couple of very tired looking nannies. The kids were excited to see us and very loud! These children were all waiting for their adoptions to be completed.
 
 
We then went to the outdoor balcony play area which had a beautiful view of the mountains.
 
 
Enjoying the sunshine and amazing view, we played with the children and talked to volunteers who were spending time with the kids.

 
A few hours later, after one last cuddle with baby Josemin, we made our way back out into the maze of walled-in houses and bumpy roads.

We ate our lunch at the Baptist Mission in the fresh, cool mountain air, and the kids enjoyed the nice new playground and petting zoo there.

 
 
We then drove on to Fort Jaques higher up the mountain on a very rough road that was in the process of being redone. The fort had been badly damaged in the earthquake but was neat to see.

 
Inside the Fort there was a deep cistern with beautiful water lilies growing in it.
 
 
We also saw canons, dark eerie rooms and tunnels;  one tunnel went  all the way up the mountain to a neighboring fort.
 
 
We also had an awesome view of Port au Prince.

 
Walking through the fragrant pine trees, we arrived back at the vehicle to be greeted by a guy wanting to be paid for watching the vehicle. “Maximum security,” he said. We had a good laugh!

It was another fun-filled day finished off with a delicious meal of tacos, mangoes and papaya.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

God Uses Ordinary People

So how exactly did I become the speaker at the annual Ladies Retreat? Well, a group of four ladies, (Susette, Margaret, Karen and I) were part of the planning committee and a week and half ago all the details of the retreat had been finalized. Our speaker for the retreat was a lady named Cathy and she would be flying in from the United Sates.

Then on March 26 things changed. Susette sent the rest of this email.

Ladies I just got word that Roger, Cathy's husband suffered a stroke today. The doctors also have found a problem with his heart that will require immediate surgery. She can't come to Haiti. This has been an interesting retreat thus far. I can only suspect that the Lord has great plans unbeknownst to us at the moment.

Below is our email dialogue:

Margaret: OK..praying about this and then we need to talk about what to do. PS...don't panic! God's got this.

Me: Hi Ladies, I've been praying ever since I heard the news and feel like God is laying it on my heart to step up and do the speaking. Will you all pray please for further direction?
(Over the last few weeks, I had continued to pray, “Lord what will you have me do?” And once again I had received an unexpected answer.)

Susette: There is someone visiting us at the moment who is leading the team. She is a woman's Bible leader, gifted in speaking, and has an amazing, redemptive testimony. I have known her for four years. Last night she asked if there was space at the retreat for her to extend her stay, and attend. I told her I would ask :-) I don't know if she would do it, but I do know she will seek The Lord and pursue His will if she believes He is asking her to deliver the message. Like all of you now, seeking guidance and His answer. With all that said, Wilhelmina, I am praying for The Lord to reveal His will to us all and am open to what the Holy Spirit directs us to do. I like you, am willing to do whatever He asks. Thank you for your willingness to step up. Let me know your thoughts and if you'd maybe be interested in meeting the gal that is here. Praying.

Karen: Wow, it seems like it`s been a morning already! Prayers for Cathy and her husband and her family during this time. May the peace that passes understanding surround them and may the Lord give the doctors wisdom in treating her husband. As for the retreat speaker, it looks like we don`t need to be worried about it, let`s take the day to be in prayer about it.

Margaret: I agree to pray about this today and then talk about what to do. Seems God has given us options. Let's seek His will.

Susette: Amen, sounds good. And thank you for praying for the Dreger family.

Next day, March 27

Karen: Morning Ladies, Hope you are having a blessed morning! For the speaker for the women's retreat here is my thought... what if we split up the sessions. Will, would you be interested in doing one of the sessions and we ask Ahmes to do the other two? That would give you both some time to do prep without feeling overwhelmed. Thoughts?

Susette: Sounds fine to me. Also, I spoke to ‘Aahmes’ yesterday and she is willing to do it if we want her to..

Margaret: My thoughts after praying - 1. God knows what He's doing. 2. I believe Wilhelmina is capable and willing to teach and I appreciate her offering herself at the last minute. 3. God had already put it in Aahmes heart to attend the retreat. He already has her in place. He is obviously at work here. 4. Perhaps God has send Aahmes for 'such a time as this'. His timing is always perfect. So, I'm thinking we should incorporate Aahmes in the teaching, either splitting it with Wilhelmina, as Karen suggested, or having her do it all.

Susette: I agree with your thoughts, Margaret. Let's pray about coming to a consensus soon so the speaker(s) can prepare.

Me: Hi Ladies! If Aahmes is willing to do it that would be great! ( Thinking to myself; phew, what a relief, I’m off the hook!)

Margaret: So, Will, are you saying to have her do all of it?

Me: Yes, if she could do all the sessions that would be great.

Margaret: Looks like the consensus is to let Aahmes do all the sessions.

The next day… March 28
Me: Good Morning Ladies! Although I've come up with a hundred excuses why I shouldn't be involved with the sessions, (too young, no experience, 7 months pregnant, tired, etc) I still feel God wants me to play a part in it. So I was thinking maybe I could meet with the speaker and work a little alongside her? What do you ladies think? If yes, Susette do you know if she is available some time tomorrow? Please let me know your thoughts! Thanks!

For every excuse I had God, had directed me to scripture.

Me: I’m too young, I’ll probably be one of the youngest ladies at the retreat!
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Me: I’m so busy already and being 7 month pregnant I just don’t have the energy to do it.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Phil 4:13

Me: I’m tired and weak.
For when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10b

Me: I’m really tired and just don't have the energy to speak for hours!
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. 2 Corinthians 12:10b

Me: I ‘m shy and afraid of speaking in public.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Tim 1:7

Margaret: For every reason you have for not being involved there is a reason for you to BE involved. What better way for someone to START a speaking career than to work under an experienced speaker. I think if Aahmes is willing that it would be a good idea. I was thinking of asking if Aahmes would be available tomorrow too, since I'm coming across town, I'd love to meet her & pray with her. Wilhelmina, perhaps we could go together? Karen would you be free too? How about 11AM or about then?

Susette: Sounds good to me! I will let Aahmes know and plan on me being there as well :-)

Karen: It would be splendid to spend some time in prayer together with the speaker! I'm available as well tomorrow morning. Looking forward to our time together tomorrow morning!

The next morning. March 29 I’m wide awake at 4:30 a.m.. My mind keeps whirling with scripture verses that go along with our theme, Col 3:2 Set your affection (mind) on things above, not on things on the earth. I finally get out of bed and get behind my computer. Within an hour and a half I have 14 pages of notes typed up. Why do I have to do this? I wonder. I’m only helping out the speaker, not speaking!

A few hours later I had my answer.

Susette: And yet another interesting turn of events. I find it interesting that Margaret had mentioned Aahmes having arisen "for such a time as this." --Esther. I too, had had the same phrase in my mind when things unfolded last week. As you read on, you will see what I mean. Wilhelmina, I think you're up :-)

Aahmes: Up cant' sleep… As God ministered to the girls and I tonight during our devotion time, on the book of ESTHER I said to the girls "Esther fasted and prayed… she waited on the Lord before she moved ahead, she waited on His plan, not hers…" and something dropped in my Spirit that was familiar "conviction" and I knew He and I would be up late… As I prayed I heard the name David.. I went to 2 Samuel 7… and I saw my heart wanting to stay here in Haiti and wanting to serve God at the conference, but it is not me, I am not the "Esther "that He will raise up at this conference it will be another… And it's not a permanent no, it's a no for now… I don't know why, but I know it's His will for me to return to the states. I asked If I could stay for the retreat :) but not speak… still no… I am so sorry.. The Lord has shifted me to pray for this "Esther He is rising up" and I have already begun praying for her, and for everyone to know by the Spirit of the Living GOD who she is. I didn't want to not respond to Him immediately and be tempted to stay anyway… or the women to pray for me when they should be praying for her… I am so sorry I moved ahead without Word confirmation for myself-- please forgive me.

I cried when I read it. God’s ways are not our ways; so although I was 7 months pregnant, young, shy, weak, and unqualified, I knew what I had to do.

And you know what the great thing was? It was such a blessing to be part of the women’s retreat and share the words God had given me to share! God took away all my fear and nervousness and refreshed me as His word refreshed the ladies there. Although I never would have done something like that on my own, it was so exciting to follow God’s leading and step out in faith.  Through this experience I learned that I serve a God whose ways are not our ways and whose thoughts are not our thoughts, but whose ways are much greater and better than ours could ever be. Jesus said in John 10:10 I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

The morning after the retreat I read this in my daily devotional:
It was called: ‘God uses ordinary people,’ and said, "If you have faith in God and are willing to do what He asks then God can do incredible things through you. God is not looking for ability but availability. He can give you ability in time. If you make yourself available to be used by God, just watch what He will do!"

How timely and how true!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Update

Rainy season is in full swing. Almost every evening the skies open and torrential rains soak the ground. The first night it happened we were in for a surprise. After a three month dry season, we had no idea that the roof over our head had deteriorated the way it had. As we prepared for bed one night the rains began and it wasn’t long before water came pouring through our bedroom ceiling. Being 7 months pregnant and having just finished another busy day I was too tired to care, even if that meant sleeping in a puddle or getting wet sheets, so Jason got to work on his own with buckets and tarps to keep us dry.

Although rainy season is here, Haiti obviously didn’t get the memo that it’s supposed to be spring. My yard looks much more like fall, with a daily mass of leaves carpeting the ground.

Thankfully the rain has eased a lot of the dust issues we were experiencing, but now the mosquitoes are back in full force.

I’ve also encountered my first scorpion in the house. It was big and mean and black with cruel looking pinchers. One morning it jollily crawled out of the kid’s bedroom. I quickly pulled off my flip flop and smacked him. The smell that radiated from his body was nasty! I’ll take a cockroach over one of those critters any day. Thankfully, I haven’t seen one since. Hopefully that was my first and last time!

These past weeks are guest schedule has been busy. It started with a couple from Grand Rapids who are interested in mission aviation. When they emailed asking all kinds of questions, Jason invited them for a visit so they could see for themselves and we could answer their questions in person.

We had a really nice time with them! On the first day they arrived, Jason had taken the day off because he had worked the previous Saturday. After stowing their luggage we headed up into the mountains to explore.
 


Although we hadn’t planned on hiking, on impulse we decided to take a walk.

That’s how I at 7 months pregnant ended up traipsing over steep mountain trails in my flip flops.

We should have thought that through a bit better!

However, it was interesting and beautiful and I made it! “The Big Fat Momma,” like the kindergarten kids called me the other day, is still in pretty good shape.

The day the couple from Grand Rapids left, a team of 13 from our hometown arrived to stay the night. Not only that, MAF Canada’s president and the Director of Volunteers and Partner Relations also arrived that same evening.

While organizing for and taking care of all our guests, I rather suddenly became the speaker for our annual women’s retreat that weekend, but that’s a whole story in itself which I hope to share on my next blog post!

While I was away at the retreat, Jason was very busy with our president and director, flying them to various airstrips, visiting the ministries we serve and setting up meetings.
 
He also had the responsibility of looking after our two boys. With a little help here and there from our babysitter Jessica, he managed fine. He even took the boys to the shack for lunch one day since they love the chocolate milk shakes there.

Jayden has been counting the days till we leave for Florida, which is ten days from today. Since I’ve taken the quote from Jim Elliot to heart, “Wherever you are, be all there,” I’ve discouraged him from this practice, but he assures me he is just practicing his math skills!

Before we head on to Canada we hope to spend a few days in Florida to rest, visit with friends, alleviate some of our reverse culture shock symptoms, and spend some quality time together as a family before we spend most of the month of May apart.

We are very thankful to share that God has provided a place for us to stay in Canada for the duration of our time there. It’s fully furnished, has multiple bedrooms, and is close to both sets of parents.

Other than that we are healthy, happy and very excited to see how God has been at work in and around us.