Sunday, June 29, 2014

Give thanks in all circumstances

Friday evening.  Ti Luc is asleep and I have a little charge in my laptop so am writing this with a flashlight on the keyboard.  I will send this out whenever we get electricity again.  Luckner has arranged for someone in PAP to search for a piece for our generator.  When you read this you will know some electricity has been restored to our compound. [Thankfully a part has been found and the generator seems to be running again now, Sunday.]

Give thanks in all circumstances.
This, like a lot of things in life, is easier said than done.   Why is that so?  Do we sometimes allow ourselves to become stressful when things seem to be going wrong and things get difficult?  Do we sometimes take it upon ourselves to worry and fret about others.  I know sometimes I allow myself to do that first instead of saying 'thanks to God' first in the circumstances.  I am guilty of that at times especially when those circumstances affect loved ones including children in my care.  When I stop, take a deep breath, and tell God I am sorry I allowed myself to start to fret, and give him thanks in those circumstances instead, immediately I feel much better.

For awhile here at HATS we have found ourselves in difficult circumstances.   I have often heard said - "Things are going wrong today." "Things have not gone right this week." "Nothing has gone right for awhile."  What does that mean exactly - "Going right"??  Going as we want them to go?  Every day smooth sailing?  

Are we being stretched?  Are we outside our comfort zone?  Are we allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed?  Have we said 'Thank You God' in the circumstances?

Here at the HATS-Haiti Mission things have been difficult for some time - especially with illness due to the Chikungunya virus.  We had several teachers sick at the same time.  Students seemed to be falling like flies - even in the midst of exams - at our school and also in government grade six and grade nine exams. 
June exams in Ti Luc and Leica's class

Too, we had employees on the main administration/orphanage compound get sick.  Sometimes 2 and 3 at a time.  Only two employees have not gone under with Chikungunya.  House mothers were off for 4 to 10 days and returned while still suffering as others were worse than they were.  Several of our children have been ill with it, the two who have been hit hardest with this are Ti Fi and Ti Luc.  These two precious children have some balance problems when well.  With this virus they have had, and still are having, some serious balance issues.  With everyone who gets it the fatigue seems to stay for a very long time. 

I thank God for the two employees who have not gotten ill with Chikungunya, and for those who returned to work while still unwell, so the children could be cared for.  I thank him for Luckner who kept going and pushing to see the school exams finished.  I thank God that we have some tylenol that helps a little.  I thank him that we have beds for those who are ill to lie on.  I thank him that we have people praying for us. The list of things I am thanking him for goes on and on. 

 I have been thinking about the many people in Haiti ill with this horrible Chikungunya that do not have tylenol, or a comfortable bed to lie on. They are so much worse off than we are here at HATS.  I am praying for those people and especially for the children, and for seniors who had not been in good health before.  Let us not focus on our problems but think about and pray for those who have a lot less and are suffering a lot more.  

Tuesday night past during a storm lightening hit our transformer for EDH (Haitian electricity source).  The next day, Wednesday, the generator quit - a big part was burned out inside.  On Wednesday too we discovered that the inverter that supplies electricity to the main house/administrative building, when there is no EDH or generator power, was dead.  Not one, not two, but three sources of electricity were out.  Three strikes and you're out, right?  No. Definitely Not.   With God we are never ever 'out'. 

2 Corinthians 4 talks about being hard pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair.   This mission belongs to the Lord.  When walking with God we should not be in despair for any reason.  He has continued to build and raise up the HATS-Haiti Mission.  He will continue to do so.

Between May 2013 and May 2014 there was a team from my home town of Springdale, Newfoundland fundraising for a needed new and bigger generator for HATS-Haiti mission. They worked diligently and with the help of generous supporters of their 'generator project' they did indeed raise sufficient funds.  We hope for a part to get this one running again while we order a new one for the mission. 

At this time God is helping us to continue to take care of the children in the present situation and circumstance.  There is a chorus that says "Bigger than all my problems, bigger than all my fears; my God is bigger than any mountain we can or cannot see."  He was, He is, and He always will be biggest than anything that can trouble us.  We need to tell him thanks all the time and let Him take care of things in His way and His timing. 

With no source of electricity there is no way to put water in the tanks.  'No water' is a big problem.  A lot of people living on the compound and no water for showers, tooth brushing, hand washing, toilet flushing, drinking, cooking, etc.  Instead of focusing on the fact there is no water coming our of our taps I am thanking God we have taps that will one day give us water again.  I am thanking him that in the meantime we have a truck that we can fill with buckets and drive to the hospital area in Deschapelles and fill with water.  From 7:30 P.M. in the evenings we are in blackout.  All three houses on the compound and the security, however, have a flashlight so I am thanking him for that.  
With help from Mama Karen our boys are bathing with a little with a bowl of water each.
Have things been easy? No.  Have we been managing? Yes.  Are we all well? No   Are we all okay?  Yes.
We have lots and lots to thank God for and that is what I am doing.  Thanking him in the circumstances. 

With no electricity there is no communication with the outside world.  Many people are waiting for a response from me to emails.  I will eventually be able to get to it.  Please be patient. 

I was in touch with Liette in Calgary by text message to let her know  a little of what was going on.  Then my phone lost charge and that communication source was gone.  Thank you God that Luckner had bought a small generator to keep part of his compound going. Off to Luckner and Rose Lore's to get my phone and flashlight for our security agent on duty in the night hours charged up.  A daily occurrence, along with running to Deschapelles with buckets to bring home water.
Buckets and drum filled.  We have water for a few hours.
On Friday while I was at the school for 'Report Card Day' and Germaine was busy in the house, Ti Luc was sitting with the oldest of our children.  Ti Luc thought he was well enough (strong enough) to stand on his own.  He tried walking and fell down hard on the cement floor.  Once again his mouth took the brunt of it and a front tooth split in half, and that one and the one next to it were knocked loose.  The bottom half of the cracked tooth just hung there and caused him a lot of pain and problems.  A dentist was needed in a hurry.  Now this is Haiti so you can't run to the closest dental clinic.  There was no one at Hospital Albert Schweitzer who could help.  In the truck and off and running.  Ti Riviere first.  No help there.  We did eventually find help for the precious boy.  The bottom half of the tooth is now gone and the mouth is in healing stage.  I am thanking God for this and for the teeth my boy still has.  Too, I am thanking Him that one day, when Ti Luc is older, he will, with help from a dentist in Canada, have a full set of teeth. 
Hurry Mama - find help please.
In the truck and looking for help for Ti Luc
Ti Luc's hands tied to his legs to prevent them involuntarily hitting his mouth
 'Report Card Day' - I want you to know that all our HATS children are advancing to the next class in September.  That is a huge 'Thank you God.'  Some did not get a 'good Mama Karen' passing mark but they passed.  I had a couple of very relieved and happy boys here on Friday.  Luckner was still ill on Friday and had to be helped in and out of the truck and given a lot of support to get into the room at the school, where he had to stay seated during the presenting of the reports.  His being there, and talking to the parents, was of utmost importance and he made it through.  I regularly give God thanks for placing Luckner with this mission.  I continue to thank Him for this man who does whatever it takes, whenever it is necessary, to help keep things running the best they possibly can at HATS.
Luckner being helped into the school for Report Card Day
1 Thessalonians 5:18, "Give thanks in all circumstances."
I hope I will always do this and do so immediately, not after fretting a little first.  

I thank God for every one of you in Canada, in the US and elsewhere who are supporters of HATS-Haiti.  We need prayer support, financial support, love and encouragement.  All are important.

Without you the children in this area would not receive the care they are getting.  Thank You!!!
Philippians 1:3  "I thank my God every time I remember you."

    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.   Karen

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Update and Prayer Request

Hello everyone,

Once again, we'd like to ask your prayers for Hands Across the Sea. 

Karen contacted me today via text message to let me know that the electrical transformer at HATS was struck by lightning last night and needs significant repairs.  As a result, the orphanage and school has no power, neither from Haitian power nor from the generator.  This means water can't be pumped from the well.  Right now, water use is severely restricted (washing hands and cooking only).  Karen and Luckner are hoping to find someone to go to the city to look for parts as Luckner is too sick to go and Karen is too busy taking care of sick children.   Please pray that the parts can be found and the repairs made quickly.

Tifi and Ti Luc are both still quite ill with Chikungunya, but are slowly improving.  JJ is sick now as well.  Please pray for protection and healing for the children and staff at HATS and for everyone in Haiti affected by this virus.

Karen, Luckner and the staff are committed to the work in Haiti in spite of the many challenges they face on a regular basis.  Your prayers and financial support make it possible for us to continue to do the work that is needed with the children and families in Haiti.  Thank you!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Prayer Request

This blog is a request for prayer support for the HATS-Haiti Mission.

My last blog mentioned the problems in our area of Haiti - the Artibonite Valley - caused by the Chikungunya virus.  At that time we had teachers, many students, and several of our employees on the main compound sick with it.   Since then we have had other employees get it.

For the past few days we have had three of our children - Ti Fi, Djemima and Josie with it.  Since yesterday Ti Luc is quite ill with it.  This morning Luckner has it.

I am asking for prayer for the employees that have had it and are still trying to recover, for Luckner, and for the children who are ill.  Special prayer is requested for Ti Fi and Ti Luc.  They both have balance problems when they are well, and now they are unable to stand at all.

Please pray.  Thank you.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

The main reason for this blog... to let our HATS family and friends know that we are doing okay.  Chikungunya is causing a lot of sickness in this area.  HATS school compound  and our main orphanage/administration compound have both been hit.

We have had, and still have, many teachers and students down with it.  We have had two of our four security agents, three of our five housemothers, our laundry lady, and myself ill with it.  It hits some harder than others, some recover more quickly than others, some think they are okay and end up in bed again.  I got sick on Tuesday, three days in bed, Friday was up a little and today, Sunday, I am okay.  I still suffer from pain in my joints and don't have my full energy back, but I am fine.  One consolation  is "the evidence suggest that once you get it and recover, once your immune system clears the virus, you are immune for life. "  Hopefully this is fact.

What is this 'Chikungunya' that is causing so many people to be ill?   It is a virus, transmitted to humans through an infected mosquito.  It has been reported in Africa and Asia for years.  It apparently arrived in the Caribbean in December as it was then that WHO reported it in Saint Martin.  As of May 6, 2014 it was reported in 14 countries in the Caribbean, including Haiti.

We have been operating at the school with not enough teachers and every day missing a lot of our students.  Our final exams for this year start tomorrow morning.  Hopefully our students will be there to write exams and hopefully we will have enough teachers to supervise exams.

I am certainly hoping that our own children here at HATS do not go under with it.  They, too, will be heading over to the school for exams tomorrow.  Only Djemima will not be writing exams this week.  She will have regular classes as she will be writing the government exam for grade six next week  in Verrettes.

This morning it was obvious in church Chikungunya was causing problems in the area.  Our worship leader is recovering from this illness and could not lead worship.  Yesterday I asked Leica and Djemima to do so.  One of our students in the sponsoring program for years, and a regular church attendee, Clemanta, came here yesterday to prepare to lead worship with the two girls.  Too, the three girls sang something special in church this morning for today which is "Fet Timoun" in Haiti.  I did not have the strength to prepare a message for today either.  I told them there was a message in every song we sang in our worship service and it was enough.  We were missing a lot of regular church attendees this morning, but still had a fair number out to church. I asked how many people there had been affected by the virus in some way - been sick themselves or some family member.  Every hand in the church was raised.  I noticed one of our housemothers did not appear to be well during the service, and seemed to go downhill during the service.  Afterwards I sent her home very quickly on a moto taxi.  I just now had a call from our housemother in Ti Riviere letting me know she will not be able to come to work tomorrow due to the virus.

Leica, Clemanta and Djemima leading worship in church this morning

If you do not hear from me for some time, rest assured we are doing okay.  The next couple of weeks will be very busy ones - even if no more sickness hits HATS.  Hopefully and prayerfully it will not continue here.

Yesterday we had a birthday party for three of our children who all have birthdays in June - Dieunel, Jofky and      Ti Fi.  Dieunel's birthday was last week, the others this week.  The three birthday children were eager to have the 'ti fet'.

Three brothers carrying things outside for a b-day party

Jonathan saying Happy Birthday to Jofky

Anne wishing the kids happy birthday

Djemima who is a 'gem' with helping TiFi wishing her a happy b-day

Waiting patiently for cookies, cake and juice

Today all the children were told to spend time studying to prepare for tomorrow.  This is not easy for Ti Luc as this mama cannot help him due to not knowing French.  Instead I gave him some words to write on his blackboard to check his spelling.

Ti Luc practicing for his spelling exam

After they had spent some time 'supposedly' studying for the exam tomorrow they came to have library time.  I love seeing the children pour through books, in both English and French.  Often they come and ask lots of questions, which shows they are truly interested.

Library hour for those who have already studied for exams tomorrow

Thank you everyone for continuing to walk with us even though you are not here at the mission site with us.  I want you to know how important you are to those of us in the HATS family who are here onsite.  We need you.  We appreciate you. Together we will continue to make a difference in the lives of the children in this valley area.



Monday, June 2, 2014

Thank you Team Newfoundland

Wow.  Another great team has come and gone.  All members on this team were from Newfoundland - Springdale (my home town) and one lady from Grand Falls.

They worked very hard before they came and also while they were here.  Under the leadership of Emma O'Rouke they did a fantastic amount of fundraising in hopes of 'helping' HATS to purchase a new generator.  Well they did nmore than 'help', they raised enough money to buy a generator and to have someone come out from PAP to  install it.  The old one has served us well for more than ten years, but is very tired and worn out as well as too small to do the job that is necessary.  While Emma and assistant group leder, Don, were here one year ago somehow they received some incorrect information as to the cost of a new generator for HATS.  Emma decided they should try to raise the sum they had been told.  That figure, however, was less than a third of what was actually needed and of what, with accurate information on the cost, they actually did raise for HATS.  With an awesome team effort and with the great support of the people in Newfoundland they actually raised more than $22,000 for a new generator for the mission.

Good things coming up

While here, despite the intense heat and humidity, they continued to work hard doing anything and everything that needed to be done.  A lot of small jobs that were very important to Karen were taken care of.
Photos of the team members:

Trusty team leader ready to start her day in the sun

Two 'grown' men on two little 'timeout' chairs

Emma - a second mama to Ti Luc

Jenny - Karen's energizer Bunny ready for church before leaving before airport

Lacee with two sunburned knees. Ready for church and then airport

Joanne ready to leave with the team

Jerry and Ti Luc. Arm wresting and soccer buddies

Todd - Newly hired security agent

Don helping move a huge sack of rice

Alycia - not doing so well on her last morning

Me and me wonderful brudder - on the roof of the mission house

Thank you for all the work you did team.  Thank you for all the time spent with the children.  (I know that was a difficult task. LOL)  Thank you for all the support and encouragement that you gave me.  I appreciate it more than I am able to put into words.  You left yesterday.  You are missed today.  Already looking forward to your return next year.

Blessings to all of you.   Karen

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hi everyone, Jenny and Alycia here writing about our last day at HATS

Last night was a special night. The team, along with Karen, sat in our newly painted and freshly cleaned (by us) gallery and enjoyed hot tea (minus the salt that we added the night before, mistaking it for sugar!). We also got the pleasure of listening to some stories told by Karen which we all look forward to so much each night. Listening to her tales of joy, of belief… belief that anything and everything is possible even when the whole world is against you. With God by your side, anything is possible. Tales of triumph, of despair, of hope, and of sadness – she has so much to share and we are so eager to listen! We sure will miss our nightly gatherings.

After this, we all proceeded to our cots as we were pretty tired from another wonderful hard day of work at HATS. As we settled, some stayed awake while some were off to dreamland within minutes. The sleeping beauties were quite the harmony! First Don, then Joanne, and then Emma and it went on, and on, and on!

Bright and early, the beautiful sunrise above the horizon awakened each of us… our last full day here had begun. We knew this would be a special one – special with Karen, special with each other, and special with those precious children. We began our morning with our healthy breakfast which included the most delicious fresh fruit and fresh bread from the bakery. After breakfast, we helped the two older boys, Moise and JJ, wash Mama Karen’s truck. Thanks to Lacee and her early morning thinking, we used freshly picked limes as a natural deodorizer to remove the fishy odor from a spill inside the truck.

With a freshly cleaned truck along with Karen and Richard (the head security here at HATS), our team was off for another Haitian adventure to Ti Riviere to visit an old palace (198 years old) that has 365 doors! On the drive to the palace, we witnessed real everyday Haitian life. It is difficult to describe in words the emotional impact of seeing this first hand from the pan of Karen’s truck; however, we will try our best. We saw children and their families bathing in the dirty river, while some others were doing laundry. We also saw many locals working, whether it be in the rice fields or working in local stores (don’t picture a walmart, more like run down sheds). Despite the poverty and poor living conditions, the view we encountered was breathtaking. Haiti has the most amazing natural beauty with its rolling mountains and rich plantation views – what a treat!! On the way back to HATS, we stopped at one of the local side stores where we were treated to a nice cold pop to cool off on this very hot day. We also visited a local “pharmacy”. Unlike our pharmacies, this was a VERY tiny store, with not much medication at all – not quite like a visit to Lawtons.

Group photo at the palace of 365 doors

Enjoying the view of the valley

Looking to buy cold drinks on a hot day

After we returned and ate our delicious lunch, the boys headed to the school to set up the benches for tomorrow’s church service. Meanwhile, the girls decided to go play with the children. This turned out to be a disaster for Jenny! Moise, who is eleven, had no experience with doing hair; however, without Jenny realizing, he decided to wrap her hair around a small comb into a big knot!! The housemother came running with a huge knife ready to cut the comb out after realizing what Moise had done. Joanne panicked and sent Jenny running for Emma’s help! One hour and plenty of oil and patience later, Emma finally extracted the comb. Jenny was SO relieved, but had to medicate with Tylenol for the pain in her head. We haven’t laid eyes on poor Moise since!!

A horrible thing had been done to Jenny's hair

Karen specifically told Jenny, Alycia, Lacee, and Joanne to go take two children each by the hand and bring them up to the house for a treat. Upon returning, we could not figure out why the door was locked.  Surprise! Water balloons came flying off of the roof and the water fight had begun! The kids and adults alike had so much fun!

Surprise attack from the roof

Don was very wet

Josie says - Got you Emma

Fun water fight

After supper, it was time for us to pile in Karen’s truck for the last time to head to Radio Creole at Luckner’s for our one and only debut of Newfie music. We rocked! Although Lacee was disappointed that she wasn’t allowed to whistle on the radio, she still managed to make a good beat on the homemade drum. During our radio session, Luckner announced that our team had brought some medication along with us to help relieve the symptoms of Chikengunya. Within minutes, people were lining up at the door and Jenny distributed the medication – it almost looked like trick-or-treating! We ended our evening by presenting Luckner with a monetary gift and some treats. He is a Haitian role model who, as most of you know, works very closely with Karen. He was so thankful for the efforts of our team and our supporters – you guys!

Fun evening at Radio Creole with Luckner

Jenny distributing tylenol while at Radio Creole to help those with Chikungunya.

We are closing in on our last night at HATS with so many mixed emotions as we miss our families at home but are not quite ready to leave our Haitian family. The experiences from this past week have been life-changing and will be instilled within us forever. We have made so many wonderful memories and long-lasting friendships. Karen, from the bottom of our hearts we thank you. And to the children, your laughter, acceptance, and unconditional love will never be forgotten. We will return next year, whether you want us to or not! (Haha)