Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dried Soup Mix and Dried Apple Anyone?

When the team under the leadership of 'Bob The Builder' Comeau came down last month so did 7 or 8 suitcases filled with a lot of nutritious soup mix and some bags of dried apples. This food was Donated In The Name of Jesus Christ through the Ontario Christian Gleaners. Our thanks go to Rich Huisman for making arrangements for all this to come with the team. Rich, while here, had told me there was some dried apple in the bags along with the soup mix. I, however, had forgotten that part.

Thank you Rich for bringing all this with you.

I took some bags to Luckner's to distribute to needy familes, telling him it was soup but that we were using it in various ways here onsite. Luckner made arrangements for several people to go to his house and receive some of the soup mix. He did not himself distribute. He told people it would also be good cooked along with rice or pitimi, etc. A few days later someone came to see Luckner telling him that soup mix sure helped. It had made their daily small amount of rice go a lot further and it gave them delicious sweet rice. His hungry children loved it and wanted more. Sweet? Not possible! How could the soup mix make anything sweet? The man insisted it was sweet and so he again returned to Luckner's with the bag he had received. He had been given a bag of dried apple as soup mix. I had told Luckner it was soup mix, and it was given out as such. Too funny. I then remembered Rich telling me there were some bags of dried fruit there too. Mariah and I quickly checked into what was left on site and indeed found some dried apple. My kids eat the soup but let me tell you that dried apple is a huge hit. I opened a bag while outside in the yard with all the children and passed it around. Our little Sandra, 1-yr-old, decided she should hold it, eat it, and share with others as she saw fit. Anne pranced up and held out her hands for the bag of dried soup mix I had with me. She sat down and stuffed her little face with the soup. Too cute.

Official distributor of the dried apple - Sandra

Sandra willing to share the apple, Anne not so much her soup

Jonathan 7 months says thank you, too

This nutritious food is helping children onsite, at the school, but especially so with families throughout this area. Thank you Ontario Christian Gleaners and thank you, Rich.

Our precious little Sandra is not yet walking on her own. After 2-3 steps she is scared and crawls away. This week we saw our three muskateers holding the hands of Sandra and walking/sometimes dragging her around the compound. It won't be much longer before the little handholding group will be four instead of three. Will include a photo of the four of them and a couple of other cute photos of the kids.

Anne -  going to devotions in morning

Baby Jonathan

Ti Fi

Within a couple of months our 3 muskateers may become 4 muskateers

Tomorrow morning Luckner and I are heading to Port au Prince airport to pick up my brother Don aka Misye Komic and his team from Newfoundland. How sweet it is going to be!! Let the Newfie friendly spirit and fun fill this compound, the school compound, Luckner's place and the Radio Station, and bless people throughout the area. Our own Jennifer and Jocelyn Barnes from Deer Lake are returning. They are nieces of mine and cousins of Mariah. Pastor Catherine from Springdale United Church (Springdale being my 'home' town) is coming for the first time, Emma who is very involved in the same church, is being called into ministry, and who has been helping HATS and wanting to come for a few years also coming for the first time, Alycia, also from Springdale, (daughter of a special lady Lisa who came a couple of years ago) is coming for the first time too. That leaves four other first timers to HATS who I have not yet had the privilege of meeting. Their names will make the blog this week. They are students from the Social Justice Class at Memorial University in St. John's. Their professor has been in contact with me for a couple of years and I believe the class has been doing some fundraising for HATS. Now four of that class are actually going to spend time here with us. All other team members arriving tomorrow too, like people on other teams who come down, have been busy fundraising so the work here can go on.

Again I close with thanks. Thank you so very much for all the help in any and every way.

I am here because of the children. I am here for the children. You provide lots of help for the children. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE CHILDREN

Please stay tuned all this week for blog updates from the team.
Karen

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mangos, Sleepover, Mangos, Weiner Roast, More Mangos

When the mangos start to ripen the children go a little nuts willing them to fall off the tree in our compound. One of our kids did a big no, no, as he climbed upon one of the houses in the dark and tried to knock mangos to the ground, almost falling himself in the bargain. We had a very unhappy security guard that night and one 'in trouble' boy.

Eventually mangos start becoming plentiful here on our tree and Papa Luckner gives us other varieties we do not have access to. Everybody likes and eats lots of mangos. Our little Sandra, 1-year-old, loves her mangos. She is a joy to behold as she crawls around the compound looking for one to start munching on.

How many mangos can a 1 yr old eat

How many mangos can Magalie eat.

Give me mangos and let me be

Every day we see our three musketeers - Karena, Jofky and Anne - enjoying mangos, morning , noon and evening. The only time they are not walking hand-in-hand is when their hands are full of mangos. We all, and especially security, have our hands full trying to keep these three little ones from standing or sitting underneath the mango tree. When the mangos fall they fall hard and it feels like a big rock. I know as I was under the tree today taking photos of the kids doing clean up. A mango hit my shoulder and now I am sporting a bruise.

Three musketeer mango lovers

Would anyone like a mango

Recently Mariah and I decided to have a sleepover (or sleep out) with the children. We slept in the devotion/meeting/playroom with 14 of our 18 children. We decided the babies should stay and torment the housemothers and we would handle the others. It was actually a fun time. When I took photos early the next morning I could see less bodies than when we went to sleep. I discovered I had not actually lost any kids but they sure were hidden under sheets.

8 p.m.  Female side with Ti Luc ready to sleep

Boy's corner at night.  Ready to sleep.

Early morning - some bodies difficult to find

Early morning - any boys here

I know how much my sister, Sandra, loves spiders - especially tarantulas. She has yet to see one when here. We see them often and I feel I should share some photos with her occasionally. The photo of the first one here was found hidden in the food depot inside the devotion/meeting room. The second one was found recently in the devotion room itself, but not hidden under wood this time, Sandra, just sitting there under the bench waiting for you to come visit again. There are "a lot" of baby tarantulas seen around the compound now and we are squashing as many as possible so we are not overrun by big ones later on.

For my sister, Sandra

This one for both Sandra and Blair

Last night we had a wiener roast with the children and house mothers again, which they always love, and of course there had to be mangos. Somemores can wait for another wiener roast when mango season is finished.

Weiner roast and basketball

We are excitedly awaiting a team to arrive on Monday, April 30th under the leadership of my brother, Don, or Mr Komic (as he is lovingly known down here). Don is coming with a group of Newfies. That says it all. A good time will be had by all for sure.

The last time I blogged I wrote about Radio Creole. It continues to do some great work in this area. I want to share one thing with you. Hospital Albert Schweitzer has been going through a rough time with manifestations, road closings, threats against doctors and administrators there. This escalated recently and there was a plan in effect to close the hospital for some time and several employees were to receive letters of lay offs. The man in charge of it all had gone to see Luckner prior to that and had been given radio time to share his feelings, etc. When things got worse and word was out about the planned layoffs and possible closing, there was danger of it getting much worse. Luckner used Radio Creole air time to speak to both sides. He encouraged the man in charge at HAS to do nothing without giving him a chance to mediate and try to help. Early the very next morning Radio Creole was contacted by the hospital saying they were ready and willing to meet. Good things happened. The planned layoffs are not happening, the hospital is remaining open, and those causing the manifestations and trouble decided to stop and work things out. Luckner has been on the air from the radio station a lot, encouraging both sides, and teaching those who like to handle things with violence to change their ways. This does not mean all problems for the hospital are over, but at this time things are going well, and Radio Creole remains on alert to help as needed. This area has needed a radio station like this for a long time. Too, it has needed a man like Luckner who is willing to take a stand for the betterment of everyone in this area, but against all violence and angry ways when something does not please them. Taking a stand means a lot of anger against the person who stands, but Luckner does this with wisdom and with no fear.

This past week saw another English class and another plumbing course started at the Trade School. I am again helping Luckner with the English. Another computer course will get underway soon.

I can never blog without saying thank you, thank you, thank you to all who support us - here at HATS (and also Radio Creole) - in every way. None of the work being done here could be done without all of you who are behind us. You are all of major importance to the running of the mission and to the lives of all the children who are receiving help through HATS-Haiti.

May God bless all of you.

With love, Karen and gang

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter

Good Friday is not complete here without a special soup meal with fish. The children always look forward to it. We had fun together in the afternoon. Our planned walk along the canal did not happen due to rain.

Easter Saturday we ventured out to go to the market in Verrettes to look for pants and t-shirt for Vladimy. We do not go far at Easter time due to the Rah Rah bands that tend to block the roads and sometimes cause a problem. We met two bands but they did not give us any trouble.

Easter Sunday morning we had a church service and celebrated the resurrection of our Lord.

Karma, Leica and Ismyis heading to church

Mama with Anne during service

Ti Luc, Anne, Judel in church

After our service Mariah and I gave something to all who attended - an item of clothing or an item for school and candy. We gave dresses to the girls and shorts to the boys that had been made by people in NS and sent down with our own Bob The Builder. Since we did not have dresses for the older girls we gave them geometry sets. We gave nice new Timbrmart t-shirts to the older boys and men. (sorry, photo of men and boys did not turn out well.)

Gifts of dresses or geometry sets

Sunday morning gifts of t-shirts

Sunday afternoon Mariah and I held a hunt in the compound for our own kids. We hid a mango, banana, and a bunch of candy for all the children. The kids had fun, but then so did the two housemothers on duty. Baby Jonathan (6 1/2 months) grabbed a candy that one of the children had found, and quickly put it into his mouth, paper and all. He was not giving it up either. No way.

Jonathan found a candy on the ground and put paper and all into his mouth

Anne, Jonathan, Sandra & Karena

Everybody with their loot - mango, banana & candy

The children love the family fun we have Easter weekends. They really enjoy it when they get lots of time with Mama Karen for three days like that. Last Easter Jessie and Seth were with us, and this year we have Mariah.

The children are now looking forward to the next team which is coming from eastern Canada, and I mean the east - the wonderful province of Newfoundland. They are thrilled because the team leader is our very own - Misye Komik (Mister Comical) Don Huxter. They are looking forward to having Jocelyn and Jennifer back again and meeting the new members of the team. The children are not the only ones very much looking forward to having Don back. Mr. Assistant Director of HATS/Mr. IMKH School Director/Mr FounderDirector of Radio Creole/Mr. Founder/Director of the CFPTM Trade School, Luckner Estimable, who we see as a brother and good friend of Don, is also anxious to welcome him back. He and the children are often heard discussing the date of arrival of Misye Komik Don.

Speaking of Luckner and his many jobs - I will tell you a little about the great job Radio Creole 104.7 FM is doing in this area.

Radio Creole

Radio Creole is not a part of the HATS Ministry but is 100% endorsed by Karen. This radio station is having a tremendously positive effect in communities in the Artibonite Valley of Haiti. People are crying out for it to become available throughout the country.

Many churches in this area are becoming filled every Sunday. Pastors have said it is because of the teaching they are receiving through Radio Creole. More voodoo priests are calling in, going to the radio station to talk with Luckner, and saying they need to change their lives. Gangs who had been trying to kill each other have been stopped due to Luckner's talking to people on both sides and his use of air time to teach how wrong it is.

A gang was operating in this area to abuse girls and women. They used cellphones to lure the females with a promise of jobs of money, often saying they were Canadian, and had only a short time to recruit. The females would believe and go to the appointment and then be raped by the gang members. Luckner talked about it on the air and continued to do so while having his life threatened. He said he would be making the names of that gang public. Not much was heard about that horrible thing that had been happening after that.

Yesterday a man went to see Luckner to ask for time to refute everything that Ian Rawlings of Hospital Albert Schweitzer had said on the radio. He kept saying what Ian said was a lie. Luckner pushed him for proof, which of course he did not have. Luckner talked with him for a long time pointing out a great deal of incorrect thinking about those who are in Haiti to help. The man stayed at Luckner's for four hours. When he left he acted very differently than when he arrived. He thanked Luckner several times. He said he could see things were not as he thought when he came. He said he was no longer interested in air time on Radio Creole. Instead he encouraged Luckner to keep up the good work on the radio so people can continue to change.

Monday night Luckner did a good teaching on the radio about the derogatory comments people make to, and about, any person who is handicapped in any way. That was one very important subject and a lot of people called in with their opinions. Again people were thanking Luckner for taking a stand about lots of things that have been accepted, and allowed to go on, too long. A lot of pastors and other people want the radio to continue daily and to grow so it can be heard further away, but they do not have the means to help.

I believe HATS is doing a lot of good in the Artibonite Valley, but Radio Creole is doing a fantastic job that HATS cannot do. It is reaching people, touching lives, and making a big difference throughout the area. Teams who come down usually go to the radio station a few times and go at least one night to spend a little time on the air, singing and/or sharing a little. It has always been a positive experience for the team members. Now we (Luckner, Mariah, and I) are looking forward to having Mr. Comical Don and his team come and spend time at the station soon.

Luckner is inundated with requests for help constantly. People think he can give them funds, build them a house, paint their houses, put their children in school, and meet all their needs. They do not understand that when someone builds something, they have borrowed money to do so, and must repay it all. They think if someone builds something they have a house full of money and can build for them too. In fact, Luckner's monthly salary from HATS goes to the bank for monthly payments, along with funds he makes selling cold drinks, etc at his business. This question was asked by one caller to the radio "How can students be asked to pay for the courses at the trade school so teachers can be paid, when the bank already gave Luckner all that money?" Obviously a complete lack of understanding.

I am feeling led today to let you know that Radio Creole is having a difficult time staying on the air due to the amount of diesel needed to run the generator. The radio station itself has a small inverter and four batteries, so for a few hours each day it can operate without the generator running. A drum of diesel at approx $250 US can keep the station on the air for a week, which means $1000 US per month needed for gas. The radio station runs solely on funds people give/donate for gas.

If anyone is interested in helping keep Radio Creole on the air to reach the people of the surrounding communities, you may donate through HATS Mercy Ministry. If you should do so, please designate what the funds are for. Thank you.

Radio

Our rainy season is definitely upon us. It rains every day and sometimes several times a day. If the sun quickly reappears it makes it easier to accept. Mariah reminds me of myself some years back - not liking all the rain so much. I remind her she has a couple of months of it yet before school is out and she heads back to Canada. I, however, will still have it until October or November. The sun just came out again so life is looking better at the moment. Funny how one gets used to tons of sunshine and how one misses it the moment it is not there.

Thank you from all of us to all of you.

Remember - no matter what HATS does or does not do -
IT IS ALL ABOUT THE CHILDREN

May God bless you and keep you.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Happy Easter everyone.

May you all enjoy a fun weekend with family and friends as you celebrate that the Lord is risen.

Things are going well here. Nothing new happening but it is time to share a little of our lives with you again.

Tuesday saw us celebrate three birthdays - Mirlande turning 11, Leica 8, and Sandra 1-yr-old. We had a fun partytime. Our little Jonathan has recently six months and so Mama Karen decided to spoil him a little at the party. I took some miniscule pieces of Oreo cookie and placed in his mouth to try. Wow, he loved the taste of it. When it was finished he would screw up his face and wail . Give him a little more and he would be very pleasant. It was just too cute. Papa Luckner promised the children that for their birthdays he would give them a gift of a small tub of icecream - a royal treat indeed. He did and it was fun to watch. Mirlande and Leica enjoyed theirs and shared spoonful after spoonful with the other children. Little Sandra just sat there putting spoonful after spoonful in her mouth. She didn't waste any and she didn't share any.

My three birthday girls, Leica, Mirlande and Sandra

Sandra doing a good job with her icecream

Tiny piece of Oreo cookie finished

Thank you Mama for another tiny piece

Yesterday was Jou Kane (Report Card Day) at our school. Parents and/or students came to pick up the report cards. Now we remain closed for another while before getting back to the work of the last trimester of this school year. All of our children passed, but most did not do as well as the last report. With encouragement and a little pressure from Mama, hopefully they will bring their averages up in June.

Mariah giving out her student's report cards

Ti Luckner was quite happy and proud when he left for his report card yesterday. He was dressed just like his Papa Luckner. Luckner had shirts made for himself and Ti Luc - exactly alike. Ti Luc decided his shoes had to be black and shiny like papa's too. It was too cute.

Papa Luckner, Ti Luckner

Papa Luckner looking at Ti Luckner's report card

We continue to take late afternoon walks along the canal whenever we can. We all look forward to these outings. Every time we go one or two of the children are too tired to continue walking and then the two strollers come in handy indeed. Recently two needed a spot in a stroller as they were very tired - one was our adorable little girl, Anne and the other looked a lot like our old old girl, Mama Karen.

HATS new child looks a lot like Mama Karen

Brother & sister.  Best friends.  Jofky & Karena

Jonathan's first walk in back carrier

Judel & Anne

Thank you everyone for your continued support of many kinds.
IT IS ALL ABOUT THE CHILDREN.
We are together in this work to help children in the Artibonite Valley. Let's continue to work together to help make changes in the lives of the children.

"Remember one person's life being changed is more important than all the material things the world has to offer."

With love from Karen and gang

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Thank you very much...

...to Bob the Builder and his fantastic team.
(I want you to know the photos of the team you will see here were taken 5:00 a.m. on the day of leaving and some were not yet fully awake.)

Bob The Builder

Bob - lovingly known by all of us at HATS as our very own "Bob The Builder". Bob, thank you so very much for coming for your 10th time and for all the hard work in the intense heat. Bob, you truly lived up to your "Bob The Builder name". You showed your expertise in roofing at that community church and it will never be forgotten by anyone who has seen, or who will see, it. It was not only building skills that were noticed here. You did a great job as leader of the team. You are very welcome to bring a team here again.

Scotty

Scotty - seen by many of us as a brother to our own Brian de. Scotty, you do resemble Brian in looks and in actions. It was great to have you here for the first time. Thank you for deciding to come. You worked hard in the heat as well and nothing seemed to faze you. You were an important part of the project.

Steve

Steve - For someone who supposedly knows nothing about construction and tools you could have fooled all of us. You were in the midst of all the work in the heat and doing anything and everything you could. Thank you for coming on the team. We all loved having you here. Thank you for bringing your daughter, Robyn, with you. Thank you, too, for the delicious breakfast.

Rich

Rich - Thank you for coming back for your second time with us. Thank you, too, for bringing your two wonderful boys, Josh and Noah with you. We were all thrilled to welcome you and Josh back and to meet Noah for the first time. Thank you, too, for bringing your nephew, Dakota. A first time experience for him too. Rich, we saw your skills in helping Bob with a roofing project when here the last time. Once more you worked hard in horrible heat and did a good job. Thanks, too, for sharing in church Sunday morning. It touched hearts, not to mention gave me wet eyes.

Josh

Josh - It was wonderful to have you back. The children had been anxious to see you again. Thank you for returning. Thank you for working diligently along with the men in that heat. You are a fine example of a teenage boy. I can see where you can be a positive example to many. My kids love you and look up to you.

Noah

Noah - How lovely it was to have you join your dad and brother this year. It was great to have you here. You fit in beautifully with the adults and the children. You, too, worked hard on the project. The kids see you as Noah the Wonderful. Thank you for coming.

Dakota

Dakota - Thank you for coming along with your uncle Rich and your cousins. It was a pleasure to meet you and have you with us. You are a hard worker and you were a big asset to the team. I regret we did not have the chance to put your masonry skills to work. Who knows - perhaps another time!

Robyn

Robyn - You were a delight to have around. Thank you for coming and for working. You certainly are not just a pretty face. Thank you for being willing to do anything and everything that was proposed to you, and for doing things on your own as you saw the need. Thank you for the patience you had with my children and all the time you spent with them.

Carolyn

Carolyn - Thank you for coming on this team. I was delighted to have you here and to get to know you a little. I know I now have another 'friend' in Calgary. Thanks for pitching in wherever and whenever needed. Your love of children was obvious to all of us.

Maddy

Maddy - It was a delight to meet you and to have you here. Thanks for all the time you gave the children. Thank you for willingness to work, doing whatever we needed, whenever it was needed. I am really glad that your mom, Aldonna, did not come without you.

Aldonna

Aldonna - Thank you so very much for coming and for having beautiful Maddy come with you. It was a pleasure to meet you and to have you on board. Thanks for jumping in wherever needed and for the projects with the children. You are certainly a 'teacher', and one gifted in art, with a lot of patience for children. The children's art projects you had them do are all beautifully hanging on their walls and I trust they will be for a very long time.

My thanks to all the males for all the work in the heat on the construction project and for the positive time with my children. Thank you to the four ladies who worked too, but not with their muscles doing construction. Thanks ladies for doing, going, being, playing, painting, doing a project with the staplegun, an art project, cleaning, changing lots of diapers, and lots more.

Early morning bus ride back to airport

Thank you to all the team for the love, acceptance, affection and fun and games, for all the children, as well as accepting all the employees and communicating with and helping them. Thank you to all of you for your acceptance, and support, of me and what I endeavour to do here. It means a great deal. Last, but certainly not least, thanks to each of you, for your awesome sense of humour. Fun and laughter are so important and we did lots of it.

Luckner has asked me to say "Thank You" from him too for coming, working, and for your acceptance of him and for taking relax times on his roof. He, too, would happily welcome you back.

Airport arrival.  Goodbye Haiti

At HATS-Haiti mission it is "All About The Children" Thanks for helping make it so.

God bless each and every one of you. Thanks again from all of us.
Karen, Luckner, Mariah, children and employees