Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Our first full day in Haiti began with all the usual sounds; anyone who has been here knows what I’m talking about.  The sleep through the night was anything but quiet for some of the team due to the rather large party going on ALL night next door.

After a wonderful but very simple breakfast, some of the group and Karen began to share a little about their experiences during the earthquake.  As the rest of us who only knew about it through the news listened to Brian, Bob, and Karen share their stories the room was silent.  It was as if God opened their hearts and allowed them to comfortably share what was on their hearts and maybe get a little freedom from that horrible event in their past.

A Hard Day’s Work

We then figured it was time to get at ‘er.  We grabbed the supplies and headed to church!  We had gotten a start yesterday scraping the rough spots off the walls but we just couldn’t get to work because we were transfixed with the beauty of the colour scheme for the church.  We must have spent an hour ohhing and ahhing.  The scheme of Boring Keith Wight, Cracker Jack Karen, and Sulky Sandra are going to look absolutely amazing.  Words can’t describe how they look so pictures will have to do.

Boring Keith Wight and Cracker Jack Karen

Sulky Sandra

Don’t you all agree the colours are amazing?

The team worked very well today, scraping and painting…and painting.  We had great weather today and it made the day just melt away.

Nice Painting weather

Brian deux painting

Working Hard

But, all work and no play makes for a boring day.  As anyone who has been here knows, there has to be times for hanging out with the children and a midday break offered just that.

And there is always time for the kids!

As the day came to an end, the cleanup began to change the painting zone into a worship zone for tomorrow.  Once things were cleaned up and the benches placed, we headed back to the compound to clean ourselves and rest for the evening.

Cleans up well

After supper, we were reminded that tonight is Saturday night and every Canadian worth their salt knows what that mean (unless you’re me.  I don’t even know what end of the hockey bat you’re supposed to use).  That’s right.  It’s hockey night in Haiti.  And what a game!  Too bad the Leafs lost.

Hockey night in Haiti

Now, there has been a rumour going around that Karen can be a bit of a trickster.  I know!  I was shocked too.  But we were assured by her that this wasn’t so.  That she was above trickery.  Huh?

Things that go bump in the night

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday 24, 2015

Laurie Gillespie

Well, we have arrived!  After leaving Yarmouth, NS yesterday morning at 6 am Eastern time and arriving at the airport hotel in Miami after 10 pm, we dropped our bags in rooms and grabbed a quick supper at Subway before dropping in bed around 11:30 pm.  Wow! Did 4:30 am come early!  However, we breezed through the Miami airport and arrived in Port au Prince even earlier than scheduled.

of airport baggage claim

All our bags arrived safely! God is SO good as we were literally waived through Customs without them even looking at the 13 tightly packed bags of supplies and all our carry ons.  Lucky no flies were around, as I’m sure they would have flown into our astonished open mouths as we found our wonderful drivers for the 2 ½ hour ride to HATS.

Once luggage and humans were piled in the van, we were OFF!  And I mean OFF! Drivers of vans, cars, mopeds, motorcycles, trucks or whatever DO NOT slow for anything. Once again, most of us were slack-jawed at the new experience as we held on while trying to take in all the sights that bombarded our senses. My sixteen-year-old son, Will (who was also adopted from Russia when he was six and has cerebral palsy) became very quiet and sober for the first half hour or so when he realized the degree of poverty and dilapidated structures that people actually call “home.” I’m sure we were all feeling inwardly the same as our first-world problems quickly evaporated like water on the pavement does in this blanketing heat.


of the cow

woman carrying on her head

The culture shock of everything we observed had our heads spinning and minds soaking in all the history given us by our teammate, Bob Comeau.  Pictures we’ve seen in books showing women carrying goods on their heads and the military presence experienced for safety in many parts of the world became a reality as the kilometers sped by.  We learned of civil unrest and fear of personal safety that is a daily part of life; how the earthquake four years ago decimated an entire country and how they’ve rebuilt…and more of the history and workings of this amazing place called HATS.

Haitian Police

bon bagay

And then. The compound appeared. Brightly colored protected walls showing light in the gray landscape. The walls which read “Village of Hope; Orphans Today; Leaders Tomorrow” and “It’s All About the Children.”  As our van pulled through the gates, children of all ages in brightly dressed uniforms surrounded us and when we got out, we were all almost knocked over with all the hugs and blinded by the toothy grins. THIS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT.  I have never been more humbled to have the honor and privilege of being God’s hands and feet.  I know who’s going to get the biggest blessing from this week. Not Karen or the staff…..not the kids….not the community members. But, me.

PS: We all think the church colors will look great

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wednesday, April 22 – 2015


And we are back!
Yup, Joan and I arrived back at HATS last evening. What a wonderful Easter break we had with our family. We are here for a shorter period this trip, only a 2 week vacation this time.

We had an excellent flight direct from Montreal on Air Canada (best North American airline 5 years running). We even arrived 10 minutes early. Within 45 minutes we had all 4 bags of loot for the orphanage and had breezed through immigration and customs.

On descent to Port au Prince

Air Canada Rouge in PAP

Daniel met us with the rental van and driver. We had quite a civilized drive up to Deschapelle. Usually the driver is trying to break some Haitian speed record, passing on blind corners and wearing out his horn all at once. The key to this calm drive was the driver’s wife was with him. Good to know.

For our return to the airport we should rent the van the driver AND the wife!

What a warm welcome at the compound…… and not just the heat and the humidity.

We left this in Montreal

For this in Haiti

The kids were SOOOO glad to see us and I think Karen was too. They had a poster:

Welcome Home Keif and Jon

Welcome Poster

Welcome committee


Happiness is…

They were singing, dancing, hugging and giggles to welcome us. It’s great to be back. Now it’s time to start work and get ready for the team arriving on Friday. Their job is to paint the exterior of the church.

Color to be determined………………. Stay tuned.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Missions, Rusty Iron, and Thankfulness

Karen - Infant;  Childhood;  Teenager;  Young Adult;  Adult;  Senior (known by some as golden years - often I see it as Rusty Iron years)

Don, Ken, Bob, Karen Sandra (Karen 8)

When I was forty years old a friend asked me where I wanted to spend my Golden Years.  “Golden years?   What are the golden years?”   She replied with “age 60 to whenever.”  (Some people say 65 to whenever). I responded that there had been a lot of ‘gold’ in all my stages of life, along with some ‘silver’ and also some ‘bronze’.  I remember telling her I would spend those, so called, ‘golden years’ wherever God placed me, but I thought it would be working with, and serving, children somewhere. I had no doubt there would be silver and bronze, along with the 'golden' then too. Little did I know there would also be a lot of rusty iron.

I am coming to think that these, so called, golden years are not so golden a lot of the time.  I’ve decided for myself that at times this season of life would be aptly known instead as ‘rusty iron’.   I see rusty nails lying around sometimes and I relate it to my body.  Some days I feel like I am still 40 and wondering about those so called 'golden years'.   Other days I feel like I am really becoming a rusty nail - no longer new and shiny, no longer 100% straight and strong, not able to be pounded into the wood with a hammer - however still very usable and useful.

I have often been asked questions about my 'call to missions'.  People seem to be interested in this.  I knew at age 14 that I wanted to go and serve in  a country where there were black children in need.  My mother knew how I felt, and so did the pastors and Christians who helped me in my spiritual growth.  At the age of 13 - 16 I attended two churches in my home town - the Pentecostal (where I became a Christian) and the Salvation Army, and received  encouragement from both in what I felt I was supposed to do.  My final year of high school saw us do 'a makeshift' yearbook which had a 20 year prediction for each of us students.  Where would we be in 20 years?  I still have a copy of that page of our yearbook which says 'In 20 years Karen Huxter will be a missionary in Africa.'

Karen Huxter

I, however, was young and certainly not ready for the mission field.  I went around the mountain a few times before moving to Haiti, 20 years ago, to work with and to serve black children - not in Africa - but descendants of African heritage.

University, teaching,  marriage, working, bringing up two children, and growing with God, was my life for years as my children grew to become women.

I moved to Haiti twenty years ago, in 1995.  One thing as a missionary I  needed to quickly learn was I needed to depend 100% on God all the time.  I needed to wait on Him and His timing. I needed of a lot of prayer coverage for the spiritual battles.  I saw that I was indeed here to serve.  I needed to join God in whatever He was doing and needed to give up any preconceived ideas I may have had before coming. I had to be willing to learn, to accept, to learn some more, to accept even more, to learn more again, to laugh at myself often, and to regularly ask God to change me as he wished.

Missions to me is seeing what God is doing and joining Him in the work.  Then doing whatever is needed, when needed, and allowing the people we serve to see Jesus in us.

Karen Huxter 2010

My blogs always say "It Is All About The Children".  That is also painted on the outside of our mission walls.

God's work with orphans in Deschapelles, Haiti

This is true for HATS but first and foremost it has to be "ALL ABOUT GOD".  If it is not all about Him I cannot serve anyone, reach anyone, teach anyone about Jesus, be a blessing to anyone or be blessed by anyone.


I am extremely thankful for all the stages of my life – infant, childhood, young adult, adult, senior - aka rusty iron.  I am extremely thankful for my upbringing in a beautiful town called Springdale, in Newfoundland.

I remember as a young adult my mother lovingly saying that I walked and talked later than my three brothers.  She attributed this to having three brothers willing to carry me anywhere and everywhere and for giving me what I wanted without my having to ask for it.  She then continued to say -  however after I did get going I did not slow down in the walking or talking.  She also used to say I danced my way out of the womb and continued to dance all the time.  She encouraged me with all three – walking, talking and dancing - throughout my life.

 This being on the go, talking easily to anybody and everybody, (including before small or large groups), and dancing whenever music is heard, (especially Newfie music) has carried me into this ‘rusty iron’ stage of life.

I am thankful for everybody who has come into my life both in Canada and in Haiti– as a child, as a young woman, and as an adult – including these senior 'rusty iron' years.  I am thankful for every experience – the happy ones and the unhappy, painful ones.  All have made me who I am today.

 I am very thankful for all my family members in Canada.  I often really miss my Canadian family, both in the east and the west.  I am thankful for the family God has blessed me with here at the HATS-Haiti Mission.  I am very thankful for my ‘special’ adopted 9-year-old son, Ti Luc.  He is a very special boy with an immense sense of humour, with patience, understanding, and a caring heart that is far beyond his age.

Karen and Ti Luc (now 9)

 All the children keep me on my toes and keep me going when I start thinking of, and longing for, those in Canada.

Mama Karen and Sandra

Mama Karen and Anne

Team Canada

Despite missing loved ones in Canada it has been, and still is, a privilege and honour to serve here in Haiti.

I, am also thankful for my friends.  I have lived in six different places - Newfoundland, two years in Quebec, eleven years in the Yukon, two in Ontario, and seven in BC, before these 20 years in Haiti.  All the friends I had, and those I still have, from these six places, have touched my life and helped shape me.  Like family - friends are also important.  Sometimes it is not easy to find people you can trust and forge real friendships with after a move – this I have found especially so in Haiti. Having said that I must go on to say I truly have two 'real' Haitian friends here, male and female, who I see regularly at work and in visits, that I appreciate a great deal.  One of these friends has also become a brother to me.  Yes, I have a chocolate brother, as well as a chocolate son. He is younger than me but insists he is 'my big brother' and takes his role as big brother quite seriously.

Since the three brothers I grew up with, and the wonderful one I received through marriage to my sister, are in Eastern Canada I greatly appreciate the one I have here in Haiti.

Don, Ken, Bob, Karen, Sandra (rusty iron versions)

Too, I am thankful for the many people who are a part of the HATS-Haiti Mission family – those who have supported with finances, with prayers and with encouragement.  I am thankful for all who have come down and helped, short term and long term, and for those who are booked to come this week in April, in May, and again in June.  There are many who cannot come but you are a very big part of this mission.  Your support is invaluable.   HATS-Haiti would not be what it is without you.  May God bless each and every one of you.  We will continue to walk together to help this mission make a difference in the lives of the children we serve in this area of the Artibonite Valley.

God's work with educating children and care of orphans in the Artibonite Valley of Haiti

I T    I S     A L L    A B O U T    GOD   


I T    I S    A L L    A B O U T    T H E    C H I L D R E N 

God bless you all.    Karen

Sunday, April 12, 2015


from Sunday afternoon fun family time.




Karena, Anne and Sandra

Double Trouble

Jofky (Trouble 4)

Judel (Trouble 3)

Dieunel and Ti Luc (Trouble 1 & 2)

Josie has a fever

Ti Fi


JJ, Leica, Djemima


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Thank you

Thank you very much to the March team - Lynn, Lynda,
Tachina, Francine, and Tony.  You guys were great.
You came from across our great country of Canada - Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and British Columbia.  You came to paint the inside of our church and within a few days time - paint it you did.

You came to serve with positive friendly attitudes and were open to anything and everything.  You each left your imprint on the children.  They continue to ask about you.  

Thank you to all five of you.

Love and hugs coming to each of you from your HATS-Haiti family.