Thursday, March 31, 2022

 We are quickly approaching the end of  March 2022.  How time flies.  Linda and I continued to trade places for the first part of 2022.  I was fortunate to be in the US to watch the Super Bowl.  That was a treat for me.  I was also able to see Maliya on her birthday.  Linda was able to be with the kids for New Years and Valentines.  As we finish March, I am in the US and will be here for a while.  We are, like everyone, struggling with the inflation.  We have decided that I will stay in the US for a while and find a job.  Please pray that God guides us and brings me to the right job.

I worry about Linda being alone in Haiti.  She rarely leaves the house without a dog in the car.  That is comforting, but not ideal.  The security situation in Haiti continues to be bad.  Kidnappings are commonplace and no one is immune.  There are many videos circulating within Haiti, showing kidnappings and attempted kidnappings.  The government recently released a statement indicating that some kidnappers now have police uniforms and cars.  They documented what to look for if the police are on the street asking you to stop.  Things like, are they wearing police issued boots or tennis shoes, are they next to a police car, and does it have the police plates on it?...not things we would typically think to check.  When someone with a gun is telling me to stop, I am usually looking at their face or the gun, not his shoes. This has created a lot of fear in the general population.  There was recently a crew of people working on the road that we live on.  It is a dead end road and we are the last house.  I walked up to the top of the road, about 100yards, to see if I could get through with the pickup.  I was stopped twice by neighbors to ask if I was not concerned about being kidnapped if I was walking on the street.  I think this indicates the level of concern in Haiti right now.  There seems to be more police activity recently.  I have heard of more arrests of gang members.  Hopefully this trend will continue.  Please pray for the security situation in Haiti.

Please pray for Agape Flights. As you might have seen on Linda's Facebook page, they had a plane burned by protesters the last week of March.  The current belief is that the protesters were looking for a commercial plane (believing that the commercial airlines have the main roads blocked to make money on flights).  The protesters apparently stole this plane, rolled it out of the airport onto the street, and burned it in protest.  There were no injuries to Agape personnel reported.  This is a stark reminder of the frustration the population feels.  Please pray for peace and  for Agape Flights.

 

Our seeds arrived, thank you Hope Seeds.  We ordered 250 family packs of seeds.  Each packet contains a variety of seeds for a family garden.  We have distributed about 40 packets down in the area we live, gave Leanne 5 packets for her family and neighbors, and sent the remaining packets to Sonis.  They are planning to do a gardening class with the school students in Sonis.  We hope to see a bumper crop from this project, and lives touched through this.


 

As mentioned in the last post, gymnastics has been struggling.  Many of our students have sent messages that they would like to come to gymnastics, but are unable due to insecurity. While in the US, Linda was able to secure dates for the gymnastics competition and setup a week gymnastics camp.  Now, she is working on paperwork for visas and other things.  Please pray that the students will be safe and able to prepare for and go to the US for this competition.   

We feel very blessed to be serving in Haiti and able to bring gymnastics to Haitian kids.  We ask that you pray for the security situation in Haiti, pray for our family, pray for hearts to be touched for God, and prayerfully consider helping us with what we feel God is calling us to do. 

 

God Bless

 

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Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Better Late then Never

 To all of you who follow our happenings here in Haiti, we apologize for the lateness of this year-end post.  The last Quarter of 2021 was crazy for us.  Due to the security concerns and difficulty in getting supplies (mostly food, gas, diesel, propane) we decided to evacuate the kids to the US.  They are all in North Carolina and Linda and I have been trading back and forth every few weeks.  Linda was able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with the kids.

While in North Carolina, Linda found a gymnastics location that is willing to help us do a competition.  She is working on the details of traveling to the US with about 10 of our gymnastics students.  Getting Visas and other paperwork is a daunting task.  For some of these students, it will be their first time outside the only world they have ever known.  This will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for some and we have many that will not have the funds.  We are excited God has given us this opportunity.  Please pray that we are able to get all of the necessary paperwork completed and that we do not need to leave any students in Haiti, due to paperwork.  If you would like to provide support for this trip, please mark your donation "Gym Trip". .


 

The security situation in Haiti continues to degrade.  Many who have the means to leave Haiti have done so.  Those who do not have the means are scared they will be the next victim of kidnapping or other gang violence.  The government appears to be addressing the issues, however they are out manned, out gunned, and out financed.  We almost never leave the house without Django in the car.  He stands guard with his back feet on the rear seat, his front feet on the center console, and watches every person near the car.  He loves this and it shows. Sad to think that we need him, but what a blessing he is.


 

As many of you know, especially if you have been there.  The road to Karfou Badio (where we begin our walk to Sonis) is pretty rough.  We had the privilege to provide some funding for some road improvements along that route.  Their goal was to make the road passable to 4x4 cars and ATVs, all the way to Seguin.  I have verified that work has been done on the road, I hope to see it myself soon.

The seeds we ordered have been delayed due to Covid.  Please pray for the staff at Hope Seeds as many have had covid.   We look forward to providing family pack seeds (We requested 250 family packs) to the people in Sonis and other areas.

I will be sending out an update soon as we are almost to the end of the first quarter of 2022.. Wow.

Please prayerfully consider supporting our work in Haiti.  We know these are difficult times, but God is bigger than our difficulties.  God Bless

Friday, October 1, 2021

Wow, a lot happening. I can't believe it is October.

As many of you will remember from our last blog post, the president of Haiti was assassinated on July 7th.  This created a power vacuum, with no clear direction for the power to be assigned to a successor.  The acting Prime Minister had resigned (or terminated...not sure) and the president had appointed a  replacement, however he had not been sworn in.  The next person in the line of succession would be the Chief Justice, who died a few weeks before from Covid.  The ,then acting Prime Minister, was pressured by the international community to step down.  He stepped down and the appointed Prime Minister became official.  The new Prime Minister has since been implicated in the assassination (along with about 40 something other people) and in response has removed the primary investigator investigating the assassination.  The other people implicated include the director of the president's personal security detail, and group of Colombian mercenaries, a private security firm in Florida, a few Haitians in Florida, and many Haitians (I am sure there are others I do not know about).  We have also learned in the last few days that the elections have been once again postponed.  These elections are to elect a new president, Parliament, and Senate (none of these are functioning right now).  Wow, what a mess, just writing this reminds me how confusing this has all been.  Please pray that God will touch the hearts of those in control and they will do good for Haiti.


 

On August 14th we experienced an earthquake.  The earthquake was a 7.2 and was centered in the southern peninsula.  It was about 8:30 in the morning, I was outside sweeping the driveway.  I ran into the house and told everyone to get outside.   Most of the kids were sleeping, and didn't move quickly.  Once outside and things settled down, you could hear the trauma and fear from all of the people in the yards of other houses in the neighborhood.  They all remember the Jan 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 200,000 people.  The estimates for this earthquake are currently at 2200 killed.  Unfortunately this natural disaster was followed closely by Tropical Storm Grace on the 17th, delaying rescue efforts.  Rescue and Aid efforts were also hindered by a gang that controls the only road that allows passage to this region.  This forced a lot of aid to be flown into a small regional airport from Port-Au-Prince.  We have been in touch with some Haitian people we know in the southern peninsula, and they have confirmed there are a lot of damaged buildings.  

We had some excitement of our own at the house.  Our inverter (this connects our house to the batteries and supplies our electricity) blew.  At about midnight one night we were all awakened by what I thought was a gunshot.  Jumping out of bed, I realized that the power was off.  At first I thought a battery had exploded.  After checking the batteries, I realized the inverter had blown.  Unfortunately it is more than $1200 to repair the inverter, so it will have to wait.  We are using a smaller inverter temporarily, this means we are running on about 1/2 of the electricity as before.  

We also had some excitement in the neighborhood.  The house across the street has been empty for the last 2 years.  We recently had neighbors for about a week.  They did some repairs t the house, painting, and cleaning the street in front of the house.  Then the police arrived and removed them from the house.  They said the people were squatters and the house was scheduled to be torn down.  Three days later, a track hoe started demolishing the house.  For the next 2 weeks every day was a noisy, dusty mess.

Linda took a small team to Guatemala for medical clinic.  They were able to serve over 400 people while there.  There are often patients with needs beyond the scope of a rural mobile clinic.  Through her many years traveling to Guatemala, Linda has learned what resources are available and was able to use this on her last trip.  A family brought a 3 year old boy who had fallen onto some rebar.  It caused severe damage to his face and other serious injuries.  Linda was able to use her resources to get him and his family to the best hospital for that type of injury.  She helped facilitate transport for the family to a hospital 3 hours away. Please pray for this young man and his family.  Thank you Lord, for having Linda in the right place at the right time.

Linda is now back in Haiti and has started Gymnastics.  We have lost a lot of students from last season. Many are not in Haiti, and many more are too concerned about security.  A lot of families only leave their homes for work/school and necessities.  We are providing gymnastics for a few students who are unable to pay. If you would like to help with this, please prayerfully consider this.  Donations marked for gymnastics will be used to get leotards and supplies for these students.  The kids are having fun and Linda is trying to get a small group ready to do a competition with another gymnastics school, possibly in the Dominican Republic or the US.  Please pray that the security improves and we can get back to more gymnastics.


 

There is a common saying in Haiti "si dye vle" it means if God wills.  We pray that God's will is for Haiti to prosper and that it is time for that to happen. We pray the security improves, the kidnappings stop, the fuel shortages end, the poverty is relieved, and that it is all done for the glory of God.  Please prayerfully consider supporting our efforts financially or in prayer, si dye vle



Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Haiti Politics

 Good Evening everyone,

Today has been a very busy day, with not much accomplished.  Since I first looked at my phone a 6 am, I was jolted awake.  Most mornings I have no messages or advertising from Digicel (the cell phone service provider).  This morning I woke to multiple messages.  Most only saying "have you heard?" or "don't leave your house".  This wakes you up pretty quickly.  A lot of Haitians believe that the government is tracking their conversations on social media, so it took me a few minutes to figure out why so many people were upset.  As I am sure most of you know by now, the president of Haiti was assassinated early this morning.  This creates a power vacuum in an already unstable situation.  Rumors are pervasive in the news here, so it is difficult to know what is actually happening. 

We are safe inside the house, we have enough to stay inside for 3-4 weeks.  The country is basically on lockdown.  The airport is closed, the DR border is closed, the US embassy has closed, and the streets are almost completely empty.  I have spent most of the day checking that the house is secure and checking for news.  The kids have been checking their emergency evacuation backpacks.  We are considering sending the kids to Oregon, but they don't really want to leave, and it would be very expensive. 

Please pray for Haiti in this difficult time. Pray for wisdom and God's direction for those who are now in charge.  We trust that God is in control and He will watch over Haiti.  Also, please pray for us as we navigate this complex situation.  

God Bless

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Cars, Covid, and Katanas

It seems the cars are on a rotation.  As soon as one is fixed another breaks.  A couple of weeks ago Linda called me from across town because her car would not start.  I packed up some tools and a tow strap to come to the rescue.  After checking for a spark and gas I realized the fuel pump was not working!  I checked the fuses and relays (which all worked).  It was now almost dark out, so I connected the tow strap and towed her home in the dark. The car is now sitting here waiting on me to pull out the gas tank and check the fuel pump.  Hopefully it will be running again soon.

Linda's Suzuki Jimny


On to bigger things, the covid situation in Haiti is rapidly deteriorating.  This, however, is difficult to accurately determine.  The number of cases has risen to almost 18,500 from just 12,722 in April and deaths have risen by 169.  These are only the official numbers and may not reflect reality, since most people here are not even tested.  The public concern over the virus has certainly gone up in the last few weeks.  There has been a lot of talk about covid ever since a few wealthy and prominent people have died of it.  The government mandated schools to close early and banned end-of-the-year gatherings (ie graduations).  We were likewise forced to close down our gymnastics in the end of May.  We wanted to stay open through June, but the covid restrictions hadn't allowed it.

 

I thought we had a handle on the rat problem, but I guess not.  I hadn't seen any rats for about 2 months, but the rats I am seeing now are much larger then before!  Either they did a good job of avoiding me, or a larger breed has moved in (yikes!).  We have the opposite issue with mice.  They are so small that they don't set off the traps.  Naomi tells me that the mice are so cute.

 

Please pray for Haiti as there is a lot going on with the political unrest and insecurity.  Kidnappings continue on a daily basis, robberies are now common, and the gangs have spread the violence to all areas around Port-Au-Prince.   Leanne(our cook) was on a bus last week  during a holdup where two armed men stole everyone's belongings.  She lost her cell phone, purse, and everything in it.  She was also pretty shaken up when she arrived at our house, but thank God was not harmed.  

We are currently staying home as much as possible.  The gangs are preventing tankers from delivering gas and diesel to the gas stations and it has now been this way for about 2 weeks.  Last week I heard a local gas station was receiving a delivery under cover of darkness, so I went to get in line at 6:30 the next morning.  There were about 20 cars when I arrived, most of the people looked like they slept in their cars.  I got in line and waited.  The station finally started pumping gas at 8:45.  When my turn came, they said I could buy 5 gallons of gasoline only, no diesel (they did not receive any diesel).  The attendant took my phone number and said they would call me when they are receiving diesel.  That was more than a week ago and no call yet.  The station is close enough that I would hear if they received diesel, but it is good to know ahead of time to get near the front of the line.  

There are some sporadic posts online in the expat group chats of stations that have gas or diesel.  Maybe 4 stations a day in a city with millions of people, and this surprisingly creates chaos!  We are down to our last couple of gallons of diesel and about 4 gallons of gas.  We use the diesel to run the generator and pump water for the house. If we are careful, this might last us 4 days, then we will need to carry water in buckets.

 

I have been involved in a couple of "planification" meetings regarding Sonis recently.  I have also been talking with another Haitian who is trying to get the government to provide some support for the local schools up in the mountains.  We're tentatively hopeful, but I am not sure how far this might get since the government doesn't have any real money (but God can do all things).   These are some pictures of the school and students.

Sonis students outside of the school


Bibles in Sonis

 

 

 

 

On the 1st of May, Linda was in a NPC (National Physique Committee) body building competition.  I am very excited to report that she did very well.  She placed 1st in Masters for her age group, 1st in Masters overall, and 2nd in the open.  And the kids were very excited to see her trophies (3 Katanas).  Now, I just need to keep the kids from trying to play Fruit Ninja in real life! This is a tremendous accomplishment to rank 2nd in the open competing against women less than half her age.  This has earned her an invitation to compete in Bermuda and other opportunities.

Linda's trophies

 

 

 

 

Linda and Django

 

Linda is currently in South Carolina for another competition (NPC Nationals).  If she places well in this competition she would receive a pro card (an official qualification to turn pro).  This has been a goal of hers for a while.  She is very close and I believe she will do very well this week.  Linda celebrated a birthday this last week of June.  When she finishes her competition, she will be off to visit our son David who also had a birthday this week.  After a visit with David, she is heading to Guatemala with a small team to do some clinic ministry.  Please join me is wishing her success in her competition and God's protection for her, David, and the team. 


If you would like to support us in this great adventure that God has us on, please prayerfully consider supporting us in prayer or financially.  We feel so blessed and encouraged by the support we receive.


God Bless

Saturday, April 3, 2021

2021Better than 2020?

Like just about everyone, our hope for 2021 to be better than 2020 was high as the year began.  Since this year began, we have seen some of both.  With God all things are possible.  

The US government is now requiring a negative covid test to enter the US.  Haiti has been requesting negative tests for a while, but has begun requiring them for entry into Haiti.  There is still a significant amount of concern regarding covid in Haiti, however so far Haiti has been spared the devastating effects that were predicted.  A lot of prayers have been answered in this regard.  As of the time I am writing this Haiti is reporting 12,722 cases with 251 deaths from covid since this began.  This is a blessing, but we must remain vigilant in prayer.

The rats at our home have been brought under control (mostly), so I have turned my attention to the mice inside the house.  You know you have a mouse problem when you catch 2 mice in 1 snap trap at the same time (I would post a picture, but it is a little too graphic).  We have caught 12+ mice in the past 3 weeks, often times with no bait on the trap.  We seem to have some mice that are too small to trigger the traps.  We caught a mouse that was no bigger than a quarter (body size).  We hope to have this under control soon.

I seem to be continually working on cars here.  Mostly because parts are very difficult to find, or are extremely expensive.  I buy brake pads for Linda's little pink car from Britain for about $20 a set, while those same pads are $200 here in Haiti.  I want to buy local, but cannot justify 10 times the cost.  For those that don't know Linda's car is a Suzuki Jimny.  They are all around the world, but not in the US.  We have made some upgrades to the suspension to handle the tough roads here.  She has a bushing that has gone out and I cannot get a replacement.  I have ordered the material to make a polyurethane bushing myself.  I am learning how to do a lot of things myself, that I would not even consider in the US.  In February I took all of the fuel injectors out of the Kia pick-up to clean them and put them back in. 

Linda's car

      
Kia's Fuel injector



I was fortunate to go to Sonis (the village in Novelle Terrain) a few weeks ago.  It was my first trip on the motorcycle trail that we have provided some supplies for.  I can tell you that I am getting a little old to be on a motorcycle for 4 hours on a trail barely wide enough to walk on with 1000' drop offs on either side.  Rosias (Mouse to some of you) hired motos to take us up there.  We met up with the motos in Kenskoff at the moto "station".  As we were getting ready to leave I noticed a group of other moto taxi drivers watching intently.  I asked Rosias why the attention, these drivers see white people all the time? He said he told my driver that I may want to drive part of the time, so they were all waiting to see me drive the moto with the driver as my passenger.  So, I traded places with the driver and we started up the mountain from Kenskoff to Sonis.  These are small (150cc) street bikes, not designed for this type of use.  After about 30-45 minutes, I decided to let the driver drive.  Probably not the best idea, as he was in his early 20's and then it became a race to Sonis with the driver for Rosias. I survived the ride, but was sore for a while.  While out there, I was able to attend church and take some measurements from the spring to the village for the water supply.  I was given a tour of the school, and we discussed some options for next school year.  

Linda has been very busy with Counseling, Dog training, Training for her next competition, and Gymnastics. Both of our dogs participated in the first Society Canine Haitian (SCH) competition in February.  Cristof is still very young, but placed third in German Shepherds.  Django did well, placing first in the Terrier group and receiving the hardest hit award for attacking (video attached).  We are confident for the next competition to have Cristof place better and hope Django can bring home the best in show.

Cristof

  
Django  











Linda has a bodybuilding competition in early May. She is constantly modifying her diet to be ready at the right time.  I don't like to see her stress over one pound here or two pounds there, but she enjoys it, so we encourage her.  She has reached the point where people see her and say to me, "Don't mess with her".  My usual response is that I just need to be able to run faster than her. 

Gymnastics is also getting better.  With  Covid and security issues, she lost quite a few students.  Most have started returning and new students are starting as well.  She has also started teaching gymnastics at a local school for their after school program.  There are a few students that show great potential.  This is a much needed outlet for kids here.  Linda has also been approached about doing gymnastics with the Haiti Special Olympics.  This is something Linda has done in the past and she loves it.  Please pray with us that the details can be worked out.

The general situation in Haiti continues to be unstable.  Two weeks ago there was a SWAT team ambushed by a gang.  Many police officers were killed and brutally displayed as trophies.  The gang also "acquired"  an armored vehicle in the ambush.  They were attempting to raid an area suspected of housing kidnapping victims, but the gang knew they were coming.  This was shocking even by Haiti standards.  The kidnappings continue and have actually increased.  We are not as big a target for kidnapping as a well known Haitian, but there is still considerable risk.  I am glad that Linda has Django or Cristof with her in the car.  This is not perfect, but it is a good deterrent.

We feel so blessed to be here and pray that we are making a difference.  We pray that we can help make Haiti better in 2021 than 2020. Please consider signing up for our newsletter notification and prayerfully consider supporting our efforts in Haiti.


God Bless



Friday, January 1, 2021

New Year New Haiti ?

 As we wind down 2020, many thoughts to look back on and many more for the future.  In the beginning 2020, the kids were in Oregon and Linda and I were trading places every few weeks.  The kids and I spent most of the year in Oregon trying to get back to Haiti, before finally arriving in August. Once we arrived, most of my time has been spent repairing things that had issues;  The generator had a dead battery, the gas in the pickup was bad (I had to completely remove the gas tank from the truck to clean it), Linda's KitchenAide had bugs in it again, and many other minor items were in need of attention.  

Inside KitchenAide
Toyota gas tank
Toyota gas tank

 

We also returned to a rat infestation.  They are mostly staying outside now, but they are quite comfortable just running around the yard in the daytime.  I have had ten traps set up outside for over a month and only caught one rat.  This has been very frustrating.  I have tried multiple different types of traps.  They seem to learn quickly, and are reproducing faster than I am catching them.  I have looked for a BB or pellet gun to buy, but they are not easily found here.  I was told by another American that they must be registered like a regular firearm (this is very expensive).  I am going to try to make some alternative. 

In March, Linda took second place in her second bodybuilding competition.  This is a great accomplishment.  She has worked hard for this, and we are proud of her.  It has been a great way to promote the gymnastics, as well as the fitness training business she is running.  We have stopped gymnastics for December, and look forward to starting again in January.

 

As you might remember from an earlier post, the Haitian government has been manipulating the exchange rate for the currency.  They injected US dollars into the economy to bring the exchange rate down.  The exchange changed from 115 to 60 in just a few days.  This made everything effectively twice the cost for us in Haiti.  The current exchange rate is 67 gourdes for a US dollar, so for those of us with US money everything is still about 40% more expensive than in September.  

 

60 Day Chart


We were privileged to bring some Christmas party supplies up to be sent out to Sonis and given to the students.  The motorcycle road is not yet paved all the way to the village, but we hope to see that completed soon.  We are hoping to get supplies to the village on motorcycles instead of carrying everything in. 

 

       
Christmas party supplies















As we finish this crazy year, please pray.  So many of our supporters have been affected by the COVID-19 restrictions and we are receiving a lot less support (down 75-80% from last year)  This coupled with the exchange rate, we are really feeling the pinch.  Please prayerfully consider supporting the work we are doing here in Haiti.