Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hello from the oven !!! Mariah here.

It has been an amazing first few days so far. So happy to see everyone I hold dear to my heart. All the house moms and the HATS staff, all the kids and especially my grandmother and Luckner. I love every minute here and I am glad I have the chance to spend three months in Haiti. I am doing extra work with Ti Luckner and Leica with their schooling. I have the chance to teach gymnastics to the children and also the house mothers (who love to take part). The gymnastics class is for an hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and also Fridays. I find it is great exercise for everyone and so much fun. Everyone loves it! I will be possibly working in the school (once it opens) in order to help children with their English. I will also be painting and just being a helping hand to whatever Karen (my grandma) needs doing.

Mariah & Karen
Mariah doing gymnastic class with my kids
Mariah doing schooling with Ti Luc
Mariah helping Leica with homework
Walks along the canal are a big hit and me carrying little Sandra is a blast. Most of the little kids being pushed in the stroller fall asleep along the way however everyone else seems to have a fabulous time. I enjoy every minute I pass here in Haiti and so thankful I arrived safely.

Mariah with Ti Sandra

Hi Everyone. Liz here. Mariah's doing one too.

Almost one week in Haiti and I am still pinching myself that I am really here. Fifteen years ago when I first arrived in Haiti to meet my granddaughter Mariah, Haiti and its people took hold of my heart and have never let go. It is wonderful at last to see and experience HATS first hand see the work that HATS and Karen are doing. For those of you who worry about Karen I had a successful Sunday after Church. I ''ordered" her to bed to rest and she actually listened. My threat to sit on her may have helped since I am no lightweight. I will continue this effort until I leave.

Driving through the Artibonite valley again was an answer to prayer as were views of the rice fields, the animals along the way and the beautiful blue sky.

Rice Field close to HATS Compound
Baby Cow on canal close to HATS
Each evening so far has brought thunder and lightening storms. and on two occasions pounding rain. Meeting all the children and if course Ti Luc is a highlight. I have toured the compound and the school and watched the teachers help some students with remediation including Mariah teaching. TI Luc forms letters with his toes. He does a great job. This is in preparation for the start of the new school year. By far the most exciting experience has been my visit to the new radio station in the area RADIO CREOLE FM 104.7. This is is a Christian station and I am most impressed with it. Please pray for it's success and share some financial support for electricity, equipment, and for whatever is needed. It has already made a big impact on this community.

Karen's kids with new clothes brought down by Mariah & Liz
Ti Luc writing with his toes
Luckner on radio with God's word
Radio Creole FM

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hello from Haiti once again.

I last blogged from the fabulous island of Newfoundland. In the two weeks that I have been back home in Haiti there has been no possibility of my finding a few minutes to blog or even to respond to emails. I told people awhile back that I was going to blog more often and they would be shorter. Good intentions. I am still planning on that, but life gets in the way here of following any plan. I will try to explain a little about how crazy it has been since my return but without being here and seeing first hand the insane busyness of my life you may not understand. I ask, however, that you have patience when you write me or when I am behind in communication with you. I am literally on the run all the time until I fall unto my bed late at night.

My time with family and friends in NS and NL was wonderful and needed. As friend Aimee predicted, the moment my feet hit the tarmac in Port au Prince, I was once more back in the saddle big time. I have since then been the red headed helicopter again flying high and low trying to handle things.

It was fantastic to be back with my children and to be so warmly welcomed. They truly did seem to be happy to have me back. Luckner, Jessie, and Seth did a good job of keeping things going nicely while I was away, for which I thank them again. Ti Luc enjoyed staying with Jessie and Seth but was one happy boy to have his mama back again.

The day I returned Seth and Jessie had family visitors arrive, four very nice Christian young people, who stayed with Jessie and Seth. We met up at the airport in PAP and travelled to the mission site together. I will let Seth and Jessie blog about that.

The day after my return home, Tuesday, the generator broke down once again. The batteries that provide back up electricity for my place had run out of charge while I was away. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we were without electricity. No electricity, no lights, no fan, no fridge or freezer running, and no computer. Total blackout everywhere on the compound. Florence Nightingale I am not, but I thought of the stories about her as I wandered around my house in the evenings and nights from 7:00 p.m. on with a small flashlight.

Generator repairs again
To top it all off Ti Luc was quite ill during this time. He had to sleep quite close to me for several nights.

Jordan with Ti Luc as he takes treatment
Papa with his sick boy and other kids trying to pay workers
There were many things awaiting my return and I was busy running from one to another. These things coupled with the huge problems caused by the broken down generator, made saying I was busy all the time an understatement. At the same time I was trying to spend valuable time with my children who had missed their mama.

Karena loves her gift of a mirror from Mama
Mirlande, Leica, Karma, Djeumima
A surprised Anne
During this busy time we managed to have a birthday party for Vladimy who turned 16 and Judel 4.

August birthday boys - Judel 4, Vladimy 16
The family of Jessie and Seth left on Wednesday of last week. That meant a day off the compound for Luckner and I to go to Port au Prince. We did manage to take care of a few necessary things on our list that day. Jessie started to feel ill before going to the airport with her family and she continued to get worse over the next few days. She was a very sick girl and I must admit I was more than concerned. I wanted to try to take care of her on-site to shield her from having to go to the hospital. Luckner and I were able to find a nurse and medical supplies, i.e. IV fluid, etc and have her taken care of here at their house. We thank God that now Jessie is much better - not yet back to complete health - but she is up and around and smiling again.

Jessie getting nursing care
Early Saturday morning saw us back in Port au Prince once more. This time to pick up my precious granddaughter, Mariah, who has come to help me for three months, along with her other grandmother, Liz, who is with us for a short visit. It is good to have them both with us. During the next three months Mariah is going to be very useful in many areas and already today that is very apparent. On the ride to the compound after picking them up we had a flat tire. Change it quickly in the heat right? Not! No spare under the truck where it should have been. Oops. I had dropped the spare tire off for repairs a couple of days before heading to Canada. Obviously in the excitement of packing to leave I forgot to get it picked back up and also forgot to let Luckner know it was not back on the truck.

Sleeping Mariah, Liz and Daniel in packed full truck
Enroute to home with Mariah and Liz - flat tire no spare
The latest word on schools in Haiti is that we will be opening on October 3rd. This will actually give Luckner and I a chance to do a little more work on the construction project underway at the school. The cement roof on the office/library building was poured a couple of days after my return. There will still be more work to be done on the school compound, which will be undertaken later when funds arrive for same. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I will be able to get in touch with you, the sponsors, who have a change in your sponsored students.

Just finished pouring cement roof
Over the past few months a very important project - a Trade School - has been constructed, by Luckner, on land that he was able to purchase next door to his house. He had it built as a community project and I might add a necessary project for this area. People here, visitors from Canada and the US, as well as myself, saw this need and are thankful for it. I, however, also saw the need of it being separate from the HATS mission. I, however, am, and always will be, a part of it. Involvement and support for this project is needed and there is a possibility of this coming from a group of people in NS. Hopefully help for courses to be taught and for people in our area to be able to attend the Trade School will come.

Radio Station on top. Trade school below
Luckner has built not only a community trade school but also a Radio Station which sits on top of the school building. Radio Creole FM has quickly become well known and has become a very important part of this community. Radio Creole plays a lot of Christian music, has prayer time three times a day, and very important Christian messages are going out to the people. Lives are being changed, people are seeing the need to leave a life of darkness to walk in the light. Of all the projects and work Luckner has been, and is, involved in I see this as the most important of all. This is something else I am happily involved in and plan to always be a part of. Today Mariah and I spent 1 1/2 hours down at the Radio Station when Luckner had a person in the station explaining Voodooism. Luckner, knowing the word of God as he does, asked the right questions and gave the right responses. It is fantastic to see people coming to the Lord through the word and music of the radio station.

Radio station at Luckner's. Announcer with Ti Luc
Luckner and I are working together to help meet needs of the people in this area physically, emotionally and spiritually. We do this through education - elementary and high school, daily meals at the school, mercy ministry into the community, further education through the Trade School, and Christian teaching and prayer support through the radio station.

Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU for all the support. We will continue to do what we can at this end but without you at the other end nothing will be accomplished.

May God richly bless each and every one of you - our extended HATS family.

Mariah and Ti Luc happy to be together again after 9 months
Nana Liz with Karena Mariah

Karen R. Huxter, Founder/Director
Hands Across The Sea - Haiti

Monday, August 15, 2011

Seth's Blog

Well, I didn’t plan on writing the blog today, but I started getting sick last night, so today I’m trying to recover. Hopefully I can get back to my work tomorrow because I’d like to get a few things done before Karen gets back. (I wrote the majority of this blog last Tuesday while I was sick. Thankfully it didn’t last and I was back to work on Wednesday. That’s the reason this blog is so late though; I got well and was too busy getting things done to finish it! I’ll add a few comments throughout the blog to update you guys and I will put those in parenthesis)

We’ve talked to Karen a few times since she’s been gone and it sounds like she is having quite the time in Canada. Of course she misses her kids here, but she’s getting some much needed rest. yesterday she called and got to speak to each of the children! They are so happy and a few of them have already started asking , “when will mom be home?” All we’re telling them right now is, “soon,” but they haven’t quite grasped the concept of that term yet and think it means later today. Needless to say we’re getting bombarded by the kids!

Here’s an update for Karen on Ti Luc:). He’s still having a great time, but he still misses you. We decided that we probably shouldn’t feed him cinnamon rolls every day or he might not want to leave our house. Over the weekend, though, we made french toast. Ti Luc had already eaten because he was too hungry to wait for the french toast, but after he smelled it and saw what we were making he insisted that he had some too. I told him that only French people eat french toast so he wasn’t going to be able to have any. That didn’t do it for him, though. He kept insisting. So we came to the conclusion that he could have some if he had a french mustache. He was more than fine with that, and if we wouldn’t have washed it off, he would have kept it all day- He was proud of his mustache! Jess also got some new hair this week, thanks to Antwa!

He misses you!
The Frenchman!
Jess getting her hair done

As for work, not much has changed. Jess finished painting the devotion room and is now working on the front depo (She finished it!)

Li Bel!

I’m still working on dressers part of the day, but have also started putting up new separating doors at the school to split up the preschool classes(I finished those Thursday). I’m building the dressers in the devotion room because that’s where I have the most room. It thought it was going to be really tough building with the kids around (and it has been at times), but the kids have behaved very well. One day all the little kids sat very attentively and watched me build for about an hour. It may have made a difference that Jess and I had convinced them that I was building houses for frogs and lizards. We’ve been giving the dressers to the kids as they have been finished. To keep the kids from any sort of jealousy, we’ve been drawing names out of a hat. The kids are so excited to get their dresser! Hopefully this sickness doesn’t persist so I can get those things done. (I finished the dressers and we gave them out over the weekend. The kids had a great time moving all their clothes and reorganizing their rooms!)

Dressers 101 with prof Huber
Eating watermelon and waiting to see who gets the first dresser

The kids have also been doing a little work this week. They’ve been cleaning the sides of the kids homes- even Ti Luc was pitching in on the work.

Working hard
Cleaning Day
Cleaning day2

It hasn’t been that exciting of a week, other than that we’re having to conserve generator time because we’re running short on gas and can’t get more until Karen is home. And of course we haven’t gotten Haitian power all week! There’s not a whole lot to say, but I will share a couple funny stories.
God has quite a sense of humor. First, I must explain a few stories from a television show Jess and I have been watching lately. Recently a missionary friend lent Seinfeld season 6 to Jess and I, so we’ve been watching one every now and again. Anyway, a few weeks ago, we watched the “Big Salad” episode. In the episode Elaine asked George and his girlfriend to pick up a big salad for her from the cafe they eat at all the time. George paid for the big salad but the girlfriend picked it up and proceeded to give it to Elaine without any explanation as to who bought the big salad. This bothered George so he subtly told Elaine that he had bought the big salad to which she and eventually the girlfriend got upset that George had to have credit for it. In the next episode, the Seinfeld crew went to a different cafe and Elaine tried to purchase a big salad, but the waitress said that they only have small salads. The reason those stories are so funny is because both of them were reenacted here last week. 1. While Jess was painting the devotion room she overheard Karena(2) and Judel(3) having a conversation. One of the kids favorite things to do here is act like they are making different kinds of food. Anyway, Karena said to Judel, “I have a little salad for you.” To which Judel responded, “I don’t want a little salad, I want a big one!” And Karena replied, “I ONLY have a little salad!” 2. A few days ago Marguerite(who cooks for Jess and I) brought a big bag of cherries to devotions which she had picked up on her way to work. Later that morning, Jess and I were on our way back to the house and Jacque stopped us. He wanted to inform us that he had given the cherries to Marguerite. We thought it was slightly funny because we both thought of Seinfeld, but we thanked him for his generosity. When we got upstairs, we told Marguerite how thankful we were for the cherries that Jacque had given us, and she started laughing out loud. She told us that he had only given her 4 cherries to put into the bag with the rest of the cherries!
Oh, I forgot about tropical storm Emily! I guess I forgot about it because it didn’t hit us. We had a scare at first because it was projected to go right over us, but it shifted course and missed us completely. We had the chance of getting up to 20 inches of rain, but we didn’t get any and only had an overcast day.
So when the Canada team came in May, they sent along names or phrases for each of the kids and for Karen’s home. Well, we also got a phrase for our house too. Jess found it under a pile of stuff in our office this week so we finally put it up. Thanks, its perfect! And thanks also for the kitchen utensils!

Welcome to Easter Zone

I promised last time that I would write about my background a bit. Well, Here we go. Some people would say my testimony is a bit boring, and I actually used to struggle with that a bit. I mean, if you’ve gone to church for a big part of your life you’ve heard many people’s stories of how they were dramatically changed from a life of sin to a relationship with Jesus. Praise God for those stories because of God’s grace! I don’t have one of those stories. I gave my heart to Jesus when I was a little boy (5 years old or so). I realize, what does that mean at that age? Did my life drastically change at that time? It didn’t stop me from pouring pickles into my mom’s fresh load of laundry or enticing my brother to spray a water hose into our bedroom window. More importantly than getting saved so young, I grew up in a strong Christian family. I didn’t just hear about Christianity, I saw it in action in my family and the church we were involved in. I was encouraged to grow in Christ everyday. In one of my previous blogs, I wrote about the hometown that I grew up in. I realize that Coffeen was a lot different for me than it was for a lot of other people. That’s because it’s not about the place you live, it’s about the people you live with. My experience in Coffeen, is completely based on the family I grew up in. The reason my testimony is boring is because I never did drugs, or got drunk, or had sex before marriage; I didn’t have some big rebellious period in life or a time when I seriously doubted who God is. That has nothing to do with me, though, I’ve realized that I needed just as much grace as those who have a “good” testimony. Also, who knows who I would be now if I didn’t realize my need for Christ so young. I think as Christians, we get glimpses of our primal nature from time to time and I realize that without keeping myself in check, I would have passion for money, fame and women. I would probably be a much different person now and who knows if I would have been able to let those things go after I had them. Even if I have lived a pretty “righteous” life, I still can’t claim to be “good,” even if I feel like I deserve that tag at times, because Jesus didn’t even claim to be “good.” (“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good.” Mark 10:18) Jesus knew that the definition of good was in his father- in God. All, I know is that I thank God for his grace in giving me a boring testimony.

So how did I get here? Let’s start a long time ago- I was born Sep. 5th 1983 to Stan and Cindy Huber. I have 2 sisters(3 and 4 years older than me) and 1 brother(1 year younger), and we were all home schooled through high school. Through Jr. High and High school our family hosted foreign exchange students from all over the world. We all went to Greenville College in central Illinois. Since it was only 20 minutes from our home, Coffeen was the place to go for late night coffee and games. While I was on college, I really started to develop my Christian worldview. One of the things I realized was that I don’t want to do something just because that’s the way it’s “supposed” to be done. My senior year in college, I even questioned why I went to college, not that I didn’t have a good future but because of the pressure of so many youth to go to college no matter what. This wasn’t a rebellious spirit toward everything, but toward the American Christian worldview. I mean, is it God’s will for every youth in America to go to college? I would say no, but that’s the pressure a lot of youth felt. I didn’t want to do something because it would give me success in the world or make me a lot of money so I could have a comfortable house for my wife and two kids. I’m not saying those things are bad, unless it’s not what God wants for you. I wanted to do God’s will at all cost.

I think the rest of my life reflects this thought to an extent. I studied Sports Management and Business in college. I was also really involved in soccer. After college, I got the opportunity to try out for some professional soccer teams, so I didn’t want to miss out on that opportunity. In the process of trying that, I realized I also needed to make some money and since my dad was a carpenter and he had taught me some things, I started to do that to give me the opportunity to pursue soccer. Soccer fell through, but during the process I realized how much I loved carpentry and also that I didn’t like the hours involved with sports management. Carpentry changed from doing it to play soccer, into doing it to travel and serve and because I loved it. Over the next few years, I traveled to Kenya, Brazil, Romania, and Mexico (multiple times) on mission trips, all the while developing a business in carpentry. God gave me a peace in ‘wasting’ my college education, because I was doing what He wanted. Also, I would never give up going to college when and where I did because I was a part of 3 of my soccer teammates turning their lives to Jesus (which is alone worth college tuition), as well as my spiritual development during that time, friendships, and because for about two years straight my carpentry clients were all professors at the college!

This thought process also played a part in my marriage to my beautiful wife Jessie! We are 5 and a half years apart. A lot of people will say there’s nothing wrong with that, but I started dating her when I was out of college and she was a senior in high school. Everything in my pride told me no, but I questioned, “is this weird because people think it’s weird, or because God thinks it’s weird?” And I realized that God didn’t think so. If I hadn’t let go of my pride in that, I wouldn’t have the wonderful woman that I do now!

Now Jess and I are here in Haiti. We “shouldn’t” really be here. Our original plan was to teach overseas, but somewhere “responsible” (where we’d make money and live at least somewhat comfortably). But Christ tells us to “take up your cross” and follow Him- not just whenever we want, but in all situations. It would be so much easier being home with our family and friends, “preparing” for the future. Instead, Christ has said, “take up your cross, trust me with your future here on earth, and I will prepare you for a better future in heaven.” In doing so, we’ve found peace and joy and the refreshing streams of life here in a place I wouldn’t call the land of “milk and honey.”

(We are going to pick up Karen today as well as Jess’ brother and sister and my brother and a friend. The kids are so excited to have Maman home and we are so excited to have our family come and share this experience with us!)

Here are some more photos from the week for you to enjoy! Thanks for your support of our ministry here and we pray that God fills you with His Spirit as you seek him and that His grace guides you as you serve him!

Love, The HATS team

Moise Sandra and Ismyis
Ann in her favorite place
Deiunel and JJ
Milan and JJ enjoying their watermellon
Clean laundry
Three Hungry Goats
Josie on the swing
Djemima taking care of Ann
Jofky gets his turn
Our visitor

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hello from Canada

Hello from Canada, actually from the best part of Canada - Newfoundland - lovingly known as 'The Rock'. Some may think the island is called the 'The Rock' due to the large amount of rock on the island which is obvious as soon as the ferry docks in Port aux Basques. I, however, think it is thus due to the people of Newfoundland, the Newfies, who are 'rocks'. 'Rock solid' in every way. They are the best, friendliest, nicest, most hard working, most encouraging, most accepting, most supportive, and the funniest people anywhere. Oh, did I say I am I am a Newfoundlander - a Newfie? Did I say I am proud of it? Perhaps I am a tad prejudiced, but ask non Newfies and I bet they will agree with me. Throughout the world there are Newfies and there are Wannabees. If I were not a born and bred Newfie I would certainly wannabee one.

The morning I left Haiti I held the hand of my 'special' boy and assured him Mama would return to him after a couple of weeks. Our tears mingled as I promised him that but he believed me because when I have left him I have always returned. The Springdale town reunion celebrations are finished, people have gone, or are leaving, and I am now looking forward to going home to Ti Luc and to all my children. As much as I look forward to seeing my kids again I know it will not be easy to leave The Rock. Just as a part of me stays in Haiti when I come to Canada, a part of me stays here when I leave it again.

Mama Karen promising Ti Luc she will return to him soon

From July 29th to August 7th the town of Springdale held a fantastic 'Come Home Year' reunion celebrating the past 50 years. I have been blessed to be a part of this reunion. I am thankful to three people at the Hands Across the Sea - Haiti Mission - Luckner, Jessie and Seth - who are covering for me so I can be here. I have enjoyed the RCMP Musical Ride, fun family time, walking along the shore as we did as children, and much more.

RCMP Musical Ride

I have three siblings living now in Nlfd (well one was smart enough to not leave Nfld in the first place), one in NS, and all five of us have been together here on the rock this year. They are the best family any girl (okay old girl) could ever have. I have had fun reconnecting with extended family members and friends whom I have not seen for years - some many years. While here I sat on the deck of the old homestead, looking at the water, remembering and thanking God for what I had growing up and who and where I am today. I give credit to my mother that I am loving, living, and working in Haiti. The word 'loving' is more important by far than the words living and working. The loving I do on my children in the orphanage, on the children in the school, and the people in the community surrounding the mission, stems from my Springdale, Newfoundland upbringing and from the teachings of my mother. I will always thank God that I am a Newfie - a Springdalite.

When we five old kids were five young kids there was a photo taken of us in our yard in order of age, Don being the oldest and Sandra being the youngest. January 2011 the five of us had one done in Haiti when the four of my siblings came down to help. Last week we had another photo done of us five standing in the same spot, in the same order, in the yard of the old homestead. I will try to include them with this blog. Too, I will include some random photos of my time in Newfoundland.

Five kids (us)
Five 'old' kids in same order of age at old homestead
5 kids in Haiti

Karen & Micah (one fine great nephew)
Sandra with Springdale and old homestead behind her
 On the last day for us together we held an afternoon reunion at the old homestead, with the awesome view of the bay, for the workteam that came to Haiti in January 2011. Cousin Jim from BC was missing as well as Luckner. We had a group photo taken, including Luckner in absentia but for some reason he had to remain sitting.

Jan 2011 reunion crew
Jan 11 crew minus Jim
Jan 2011 reunion Karen, Luckner and Dave
Don preparing to scan a photo needed for the blog

You will hear from me when I am back in Haiti hand in hand with my children again.

It has been good to see many of you here on 'The Rock'. I would love for you to stay in touch.

Blessings everyone.