Saturday, July 28, 2012

Race for Hope 2012!

This morning was amazing!  The Ellis Family (Mike, Rebecca, Haden and Emma) along with the youth  at FBC, Mtg (led by Brock Hendon) put together the incredible Race for Hope!  When they began planning the race about two months ago, Chris Bowers with About-Time-Events, said to expect about 100 - 150 runners.  He said this was the norm for a first race.  Needless to say, we were all blown away with 400 runners today!   Chris said the difference was that God was in this race, because it was to glorify Him!  In addition to all the runners, we had so many hard working volunteers setting up, giving out water, cheering the runners on , and cleaning up after the race.  We are so grateful to all the runners and volunteers and can't thank you enough for your support!  The entire event was so encouraging and uplifting!  Thank you Ellis Family and FBC Youth!   Another big thank you goes to all of the businesses and organizations that sponsored the race!

It is the desire of the Ellis Family to allow God to bring something good out of their tragedy of losing Cole.  The number of orphans in the world today is a global crisis, and the Ellises are being obedient to God's call to help orphans in Haiti by raising funds for Cole's House at Children's Hope in Jacmel.  We are thankful for the their heart and passion for the fatherless!
Christy Colee and Dow Birchfield

The Teel Family all registered and ready to run!

A great turn out!

Hope Birchfield and Lilly Frankum

Hayden Parker warming up the runners!

Runners at the start line
First Baptist Montgomery Praise Band

And we are off!

Taylor Rowell was a top runner.

Haden Ellis presenting Caroline Stewart with medal!

Haden Ellis with Daniel Okabe who won the 10K

Monday, July 23, 2012

July Changes!!!

July has brought many changes to Children's Hope  in Jacmel.  The first one I will mention was a very sad and difficult change.  On July, Friday 13, Social Services in Jacmel removed Fedline from our care.  Her uncle wanted her to come live with him and was not aware of the previous abusive home where she lived.  Fedline came to CH in March of this year and had already become such a special part of the big family.  She was very quiet but her smile would light up a room.  It was extremely hard on the staff and the children but mostly on Fedline.  She did not want to leave.  Please pray that Fedline is safe, loved and provided for and being taught about Jesus.  CH is so thankful to have had the opportunity to share Christ with her during her stay.  May that seed grow into a beautiful servant who comes to love Jesus with all of her heart.

We had a three year old little girl for one night but a staff member at Social Services has taken her in.  Next came two other children who we think will be with us permanently -  Tina and Nobert (not siblings).  Nobert is six and has adjusted quite well.  Tina may be around 9 or 10 and has not adjusted well.  She tends to want to be by herself and cries at times.  When I know more about their story, I will pass that on but please pray for Tina.

The last change that I want to mention is in relation to Patrick O'Connor.  Patrick has served as our first intern and has been in Jacmel since late May.  He has formed such a strong bond with the kids at CH but will tell them good-bye this Friday and fly home on Saturday.  Please pray for Patrick and the children as they say good-bye.  Patrick has been an awesome intern and has helped pave the way for future individuals to serve in this capacity.  A big thank you to Patrick!

Patrick with Lovely, Elida, Nathalie and Geralda
Fedline left CH on July 13

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July Mission Trip - Part 2

Monday morning started with a lot of excitement as we transported half the children to the Alabama House to work on their own personal photo album.  They are the subject of a lot of pics but never get to see the finished project, so we gathered up a lot of individual pics of them and special people in their lives.  The kids loved looking at the pictures and some spend two hours non-stop working on their books.  A special thanks to GAs at FBC Mtg. who gathered stickers.  Also while at the AH, Shan Stallings completed updated academic assessments on the children.  The other half of the kids stayed at Children's Hope and enjoyed playing lots of games, a craft, and the Noah Ark story told by our very own Troy Amster!

In the afternoon, the kids were treated to a movie, The Jungle Book.  Patrick O'connor initiated a reward system for the kids and this was one thing they had earned this summer.  Troy and Ann along with the teenagers in the group headed off to Pastor Paul's church to join about 20 Haitian teenagers in a game of soccer.  This was followed by Troy explaining the plan of Salvation to the teens and two boys accepting Christ.  Later in the week, Troy, Dow, Steadman, Will and Davidson followed up with them presenting a Bible in Haitian Creole from Pathfinder Mission.

Tuesday morning mirrored Monday morning  except we reversed the groups.  Tuesday afternoon found a half the kids heading to the beach for swimming and their first ever swimming lessons compliments of Troy and Ann.  Most of the kids took to the lessons very well surprising us all.  Even the staff members of CH gave it a try with a lot of success.  The other kids enjoyed time at the AH playing with homemade play dough and decorating homemade cookies (provided by Haden).  The kids loved decorating cookies and licking their spoons clean.  On Tuesday night, we all ate at Cap Lamandou which is a hotel/restaurant overlooking the Caribbean and was recently purchase by Comfort Inn.

WE repeated the beach and play dough/cookie decorating on Wednesday morning.  On Wednesday afternoon, the team headed out to Basin Bleu which is a very beautiful waterfall with three very clear pools (see pic below).  The travel to Basin Bleu can be a little treacherous but the people and landscape along the way can often prove to be quite interesting.  We said good-by to the kids that night by a short visit to CH.  Our team had learned "Sanctuary" in Haitian Creole and sang this to the kids.  I gave the team 15 minutes to say good-bye because this is often a very difficult time for a team.  

I also want to tell you about the pics of the sewing clinic below.  John Turnbull who has been to CH several times and even filled in for Charley during Martie's hip surgery was the catalyst in getting the sewing clinic started.  John enlisted two friends and very good seamstress from CA to come to Jacmel and teach a group of selected women from another ministry in Jacmel to sew uniforms for school children.  The two women (Pam and Vickie) started with the ladies on Tuesday of one week and worked with them through Thursday of the following week.  The group of women had never held a pair of scissors, had no clue about measuring and were illiterate.  They took them from minus zero to making collars, cuffed sleeves and interfacing in this amount of time.  For those of you who know a little about sewing you will really appreciate this and will hardly believe that it was possible.  Pam and Vickie took these single mothers and widows who had no way to provide for themselves and children to having a marketable skill!  It was such a blessing to watch unfold.  A big thanks to John, Pam and Vickie.

Also, our continued thanks to Tommy and Joy and Martie and Charley who serve so selflessly in Jacmel away from US comforts and family.  You are all such a blessing to all the folks you encounter.

Beth and Myson
Mike and Haden
Mike and Tanya 
Jack and Thomas Amster along with Patrick

Will and Dow
Jessica, Mary Baker at Cap Lamandou

Fedline and Haden
Casimir, Mary Baker and Mary Evelyn

Pastor Paul with Edith and Lovely
Shan assessing Nana with Davidson translating

Lovenson and Thomas
Sewing clinic

Sewing clinic
Nixon leading us in song at the medical clinic

Steadman, Kenson and Lovenson

Edith - see name in playdough!
Rene enjoying his cookie - notice the icing on his cheek!

Samuel's nephew, Casimir, Emma and Alexis
Patrick with Wilemson

Mary Baker, Steadman, Mary Evelyn, Haden, Emma and Ann enjoying Basin Bleu

Dow and Alexis

Haden with Denise
Silmaine showing off her picture of Tommy and Joy
Mike to the rescue!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 2012 Mission Trip - Part 1

Our July 2012 mission team arrived in PAP on Friday, July 7th.  We traveled through the streets of PAP and then on the outskirts for about two hours and then an hour over the mountains to Jacmel.  It is easy to be paralyzed by the poverty and injustice that exists in Haiti.  I could no doubt drive myself crazy thinking about the problems that plague Haiti and the many mistakes that have been made not only by the Haitian government but others as well including the US.  However, as we drove through the slums of PAP, I kept thinking about the determination of the Haitian people.  How in the world have they survived all that they have been through and all that they face!?!?  Yet, they continue on each day plugging away and surviving.  They have my admiration and respect and this makes me want to work harder for God to use Children's Hope to change lives in Jacmel.

After arriving at the Alabama House Saturday afternoon, we headed to Children's Hope.  The team couldn't wait to meet the children.  Of course, it was love at first site!  By the way our team consisted of all the Birchfields (minus Hope); Troy, Ann, Jack, Thomas, and Mary Evelyn Amster; Deanne, Will and Mary Baker Jones; Shan Stallings, Steadman Bethea, and Mike, Rebecca, Haden and Emma Ellis.
It was also great seeing Joy, Tommy, Charley, and Patrick!

The next day we split up and half went to Pastor Davidson's church and the other half to Pastor Paul's church.  At Pastor Paul's church, they were celebrating their 12 th anniversary as a church.   Davidson not only filled the role of pastor very well but Sunday School teacher also.  It was really amazing to watch the Holy Spirit use Davidson to make the truth of God's Word very evident to a man who was asking questions.  After a quick trip to the local store where we priced Nutella at $15 a jar, we headed back to the AL House for a short rest.  Then we were on our way back to CH and then a "pot luck" at Church on the Beach.

We also welcomed the newest member of Children's Hope, Denise, who had been there for about 10 days.  Denise is 14.  She was living in the Dominican Republic with her father until he brought her to live with a couple in Jacmel about two years ago.  From all appearances, it seems as if she was a Restavik (child slave) for this couple.  While child slavery has been an issue in Haiti (and in a lot of other places) for decades, the Haitian government is now just admitting that the issue exists.  This couple was abusive to Denise, so she decided to leave this last time when she was beaten with a wire.
A friend told her about CH and social services and the police have investigated even implying that this man may be arrested!

Please check back for Part 2 of our trip in a day or two!
Thomas, Jack, Dow, Mary Baker, Steadman, Will, Mary Evelyn, Beth, Emma and Haden

Rebecca with Nana

All the gang at Church on the Beach

The children getting instructions on making their own photo album

Myson loved the pictures of himself

Shan with Danaika completing educational assessment

Deanne with Danaika and Nathalie on porch at the AL House

Rebecca with Denise (we all fell in love with her - such a sweet spirit)