Monday, February 29, 2016

Monday, February 29, 2016

Stephen and Melissa

Yesterday morning, we attended our very first Haitian church service.  We weren’t sure how many people would be out as it had been raining heavy for awhile and was still very overcast and misty outside. Karen said we may get very few out to church.  She explained Haitians do not like to go out in the rain.  They do not have such a thing as raincoat.  Most of the children do not have clothes to change into when they get wet. There were a few waiting for us when we arrived at the church and more trickled in as we went along.  In total, there were about 48 people, which was great considering the weather.

Karen addressed the crowd, asking how many people are here that you don’t know – getting an answer from all of “Two blanc!”  So she explained who we were.  A couple of ladies led us in worship.  The entire experience was very different from what we are used to in our Nova Scotia church.  We were both handed tambourines, which we were happy to play, as we had a hard time following the words of the songs – this helped us take part in the worship even though we couldn’t sing along.  Some of the children played drums.  The church is not wired with speakers – but it doesn’t need to be because they definitely have volume!  Haha!

Stephen preached a short message from Philippians 3:13-14 and Karen translated for him.  He said it was different to preach and have to stop along the way to allow for a translator, but he managed to not get lost.  It sure takes a lot more words to say something in Creole than it does in English!  Everyone seemed to enjoy the message.  A few of the girls sang some songs, Sandra did a little song all by herself, and the entire HATS group of children sang a lovely song as well.  We loved watching the children worship!

Stephen giving message in church

Yesterday afternoon, we played with some of the children in the devotional room. They all loved looking at the books – some of them did nothing else the whole time!  We loved seeing them so enthralled with the books – even though they sometimes couldn’t read the words.  They all loved pointing out the letters and numbers that they knew in the books.  They also love to play with little animals and to colour.

Markenson loves playing with little animals

Colouring is always enjoyed

Sonson enjoys playing by himself with little cars

This morning we went over to the school to say hello to some of the children while they were out on recess.  They were all very excited to see us and we got lots of hugs and cuddles.  Many of them enjoyed playing with Stephen’s beard.  They were fascinated!  We couldn’t stay long, but it was wonderful to see so many happy, joyful children all at once!

Recess for little ones

Little kids all trying to touch Melissa during recess

We are loving our time here at HATS.  We only have a few days left, but we definitely plan on making the most of it.  Happy Leap Year!

Stay tuned for another blog to come!

Stephen and Melissa

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Saturday, February 27 – 2016

Stephen and Melissa

We are first timers here at HATS.  We have heard lots about the ministry here and have had an interest in visiting for some time now.  We are from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and we are glad we are here for the next several days!

We arrived into Port au Prince early Friday morning.  We enjoyed watching our surroundings on the drive to HATS (actually, Stephen saw much more than Melissa as she had a very hard time keeping her eyes open as she was quite exhausted from our ‘experience’ getting here – poor thing haha).

Airport to the mission site

Since getting here, we have spent a lot of time with the children and trying to get to remember all of their names (we are getting close!)  Yesterday, we arrived to the compound in time to go over to the school before they finished for the weekend and bring the kids over home.

Melissa and Stephen getting to know the children

Playing 'Catch the Hat' with Sandra

Karen showed us around the school a little bit and we peeked into a couple of class rooms.  Once the children saw us ‘blancs’ they were very excited and word spread quickly.  Before we knew it we had 20 or more trying to touch us or grab onto us – and we loved it!

Last night we went for a walk with the children along the canal outside of the compound.  It was fun just getting to walk with them all and start to see their different personalities.  Stephen got to carry Sonson (or we would have had a very slow walk as he was not cooperating) but he didn’t mind!  Melissa walked along with Magdala (another one of the youngest).

Almost ready to set off for a canal walk

Walk and playtime

Today we had a birthday party for Leica.

Beautiful birthday girl - Leica

We made a cake for her this morning and it was served along with bananas (fig) and pop (ji).  Here for a birthday party the birthday boy or girl sits at the front.  The youngest brings the gift to them and we watch as they open.  Everyone takes turns going forward to hug the birthday girl/boy and saying something encouraging to them if they so choose (which we thought was nice).  The birthday girl gets served first of course, and then the rest in order of age.

Birthday hugs from Sonson and Magdala.

May we see your gift please Leica

The birthday party included races between the children. The children love it.  The cutest race was between Magdala and Sonson.  Magdala kept turning around and running the wrong way.  We are glad to be here to celebrate one of the children’s birthdays with them!

Ready  Set  Go

We are very thankful to be able to be here and we are looking forward to the rest of our time here.  We are hoping to be able to even pick up some Creole while here.  The kids were teaching Melissa some of the names for animals during playtime this afternoon.

More blogs to come!

Stephen and Melissa

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Thank you God for everything.

All of us have spent days in a manner we did not plan on or wish for.  How often have we remembered to say Thank You throughout those days?

When things do not work out as we hope how do we cope?  I would like to be able to say for myself  "I thank God throughout those unplanned, unpredictable, difficult days and for the exact way it turned out."  I, however, cannot say that as I know that I do not always do so, nor as quickly as I should.

Recently when Ti Luc and I were returning from a short medical trip to Canada we had one 'of those days'.  It was draining but turned out well and for which I was very thankful.  We were scheduled to leave Calgary on a Monday and arrive back on Tuesday.

Awakened early Monday morning - Email from airline company.  'Travel Alert' - Go online - check flight status.  Flight changed. Leaving 5 hours later than booked.
Thoughts - Relax, visit with family. No packing needed yet.  An extra five hours.

Three hours later.  Another email from airline company.  Check-in on line.  Okay.  Confusion quickly arrives - discover still leaving at 1:00 pm - not 6:00.  Almost out of time to make it to airport.  Run, rush, run, rush.  Lots of help from family.  Things thrown into suitcases, into vehicle. Rush to airport.  Airline personnel have no idea why first email was sent 6:00 am. Phone confirms it came. Thank you God second email did arrive with truth of leaving on scheduled flight.

Made it - complete with son, luggage, wheelchair and all.  Still had a flight and seats.  Thank you God.

Arrive Montreal midnight.  To fly out again - 9:30 am. Not willing to leave airport in dark and cold with Ti Luc. Need sleep for boy and self.  Find quiet place in airport; lie down on floor.  Son cannot sleep;  Mama can't stay awake.  Drift off - hear "Madam , Madam,  Madam."

Eyes open - airport security "Get up please, take belongings and son;  move down to Departure Level."  Thank you God not sent outside in cold.

Wide awake now.  2:30 am.   No books, tell son stories.  Stay awake.  Freshen up.  5:00 am look for tea for Mama and food for son.

Son has disability.  Boarded us 8:00 am.  Airline wanted flight to leave on time 9:30. Plane moved out on runway. Freezing rain problem. Sit.  Wait.  Sit.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait. Wait.  WAIT.  Five and a half  hours later - still sitting on runway.    Plane de-iced and take off - almost 6 hours late.  Thank you God we still get to go.

Flight good. Arrive Port au Prince.  Both suitcases arrive.  Thank you God.

Into vehicle with Luckner and security.  Quite late - dark.  Thank you God we will be home in a couple of hours.  Not!!!

Head home. Rain starts.  Half way home need to pull out and pass large and long truck (trailer truck) on side of road.  Bang. Tire blew.  Lost control of truck.  Slid into trailer truck.  Thank you God other truck was there.  Kept our truck from going into ditch and likely rolling and hitting a huge cement electricity pole. No injuries.  Damage to truck can be fixed. Thank you God for protection.

Rain increases.  Now heavy rain.  Two men in parked trailer truck come to help.  Four men in rain. Remove spare tire underneath truck.  Oops spare not great - lacking air.  Put on anyway to limp to town nearby.  No limping possible.  Tire completely flat when jack removed.  Bigger oops.

Rain heavier - tire removed again.  Vehicle stops.  Someone who knows Luckner.  Takes him and tire to St. Marc.  Security stays to protect Karen and Ti Luc.

Someone in St. Marc awakened - emergency - tire needs to be repaired.  Obliged.  Tire repaired.  Return with tire. Fixed but not great.  Put on truck.  Head home once more.  Thank you God.

Arrival at HATS Mission approx 1:15 am, instead of expected arrival of 5:30 pm.  Thank you, thank you God - for safety all along the route.

Our drive home from the airport quite late -  in Haiti -  in the dark and rain - with a  tire blowing - really could have turned out much differently.  Thank you God.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Our HATS children sometimes ask for things they cannot have, show they are not happy about being turned down, and complain about certain things in their lives or not in their lives. They are children.

When they do we quickly remind them of how very much they do have. We ask them to thank God for all the positives in their lives and to remember how they have been blessed.  When they focus on this an attitude change begins.

Sometimes I too need an attitude change.  I need to bring myself up short and focus on all the blessings in my life here in Haiti and thank God many times every day for all of these.  If I allow myself to focus on what I miss about spending time with my family and friends elsewhere it is detrimental to me living with a joyful spirit here. I need to remind myself to say 'Thank you God' for every part, of every day, and for everyone who is a part of that day.

Thank you God for all the children whose lives are being touched by the HATS-Haiti Mission.  Thank you God for every person who has been a part of this work since day one.  Together we've made a difference.  Together we will continue to make a difference.

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

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thursday Tidbits

February 25th – 2016

Anytime after a team leaves there is a bit of a letdown and re-programming to get back in the routine. Team Texas did a fantastic job with the inverter shed roof, the new storage cupboard, the water tank shut off, the painting but most importantly the support and time spent with the kids and Karen.

They left a void!!!
Here are some pics of what Team Texas missed this week after they left for home:

Praying with Mama before school

Jofki gets 20 to life for looking so good

Tifi loves the tire swing – ALONE

Yea, the animals and colouring books are coming

Doctor Joan with patients Magdala and Jonathan

Markensen and Jonathan hanging out

The HATS kids pose with the Referee before the soccer game with Team Texas

Lookout... Karen has been cleared for TakeOff and she is on the warpath. Time to hide.....

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


...does not really cover all that is in my heart for the Texas team.    Hopefully you know my feelings.  I know that God knows how much I appreciate each and every one of you.

You came on a Thursday and you left the following Tuesday after accomplishing a phenomenal amount of work, enjoyed a lot of fun time with the children, and prayed with and for us.

Kids enjoying facetime with Julie's daughter, Molly. Monday afternoon

Your sense of humour, your work ethic, along with your prayer support and encouragement has done wonders for me.

You just left and we are already thinking about when you return.  I saw you off on the early morning bus and walked back to the house with tears flowing, already looking forward to us getting together again.

Bye beautiful Morgan

Bye gorgeous Claire

Three of the four muskateers

Still very dark outside but look at those faces. Jordan, Brooks, Kyle and Julie. Ready to leave.

Van loaded. About to pull out. Karen very sad.

May God bless you as you have just richly blessed the children and the rest of us here at HATS.

Thank you for helping keep this mission -
A L L    A B O U T    T H E   C H I L D R E N 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Monday, February 22, 2016

Brooks and David

Last full day at HATS.

Last night we observed our favorite Team Texas Tradition – sitting up on the rooftop with Karen, talking about life, looking at the gorgeous Haitian sky, and spending time encouraging and praying for Karen. We learned that apparently we at Team Texas aren’t the only ones who have to listen to DG. As Karen informed us last night, God agreed to send her to Haiti after she told Him she wasn’t going to China. We’re thankful God upheld His end of the bargain, as Amarillo, TX to China is a really long flight.

This morning the boys set to finishing up their tasks set before them by Associate Director of Team Maintenance, Keith. Milford and Kyle finished the utility room cabinet and also replaced the faulty light socket in Ti-Luc’s bathroom. Every team needs a Mechanical Engineer who can also do a little electrical work on the side. Just don’t tell his union. Thanks Milford. Every team also needs a pastor who happily assists the Black Blanc while also humming the bass line of our favorite hymns and praying fervently that Milford is not electrocuted.

guys and cabinet

Julie American, Jordan, Morgan, and Claire did some paint touch up, assisted Joan in the devotional room depot, and were mobbed by the Pre K students during their recess.

mobbing of the girls.

Brooks and David sun-bathed on the hot tin roof, cut their arms on the barbed wire, and fingers on the tin. It was hot. How hot was it, Brooks? It was so hot, Brooks did his best Seth Huber impersonation and went tank top on all of us. Thanks for showing us your snow-white guns.

David and Brooks celebrating

After work was done, it was time for well-deserved play, including Hockey Night in Deschapelles. This fun was followed by the other Texas Traditions – handing out our team shirts and then praying for all the kids.



The worst part of every trip is saying good-bye to so many sweet faces. But we know they’re in the very best of hands.  And we hope we got enough done that Keith can spend his last few weeks here with his feet up enjoying mango smoothies. Eh!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Brooks and David.  

Sabbath Day in Haiti.  

Our favorite day in Haiti every year is Sunday.  For at least one Sunday every year we experience an aerobic worship service and today was that day. While we may not understand the words that are being sung we certainly know and appreciate the spirit with which the service is led. We also appreciate the mid-worship water break.  This is something that church leadership in North America have not quite embraced or found necessary due to the efficient central heating and air systems prevalent in our worship facilities as well as the fact that Yolene (Deschapelle’s most prominent aerobic  leader) has not brought her worship team to North America – just yet.

After sweat flowed from our brow from the worship session, Brooks brought a wonderful word that Karen ‘translated’ into whatever was on her heart and mind at the time.  Team Texas closed the service with a wonderful rendition of Amazing Grace.  Certainly the tone and pitch of our melodies have been enhanced greatly since Kyle and Morgan joined the team and since Brooks, Julie ‘American’ and David realized they should lip sync most of the words.

Brooks Preaching

Team Texas singing

HATS kids showing Team Texas how it’s done

This also calls into question why Luckner planned his vacation to Montreal during the exact same time that Team Texas was in Haiti. Could it be that Team Texas is not the No.1 rated guest performer on Radio Creole 104.7, and Luckner did not have the heart to break the news to us face to face?  Surely not…Kirk Franklin, Mercy Me and the Gaither Vocal Band would be certainly be disappointed if they knew their message of hope and love was not being belted over the airwaves in the Artibonite Valley.  

After lunch, Brooks presented his famous trick show.  The kids were spellbound and the house mothers were a little shocked it could be done.

Audience waits for the show

Perhaps, Brooks’ greatest ‘trick’ of the day was the hypnosis of Karen during which the Texas Team took a Sabbath rest with Karen’s encouragement.  Once Karen woke from the hypnotic state, it was back to work – well it was actually back to sidewalk chalk and a walk along the canal.

Walk along the canal

All and all, it was a nice, calm and peaceful day at our favorite non beach resort in Haiti.

Tomorrow, we must paint trim, finish the utility room cabinet and install the new hot tin roof or Keith says that we will not be able to leave on Tuesday morning.

Update to follow Monday night.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Saturday, February 20th-2016

Jordan & Claire.    

While there are certainly many things to report from our day at HATS, our day started as it should…with the kids.

 While Karen is excited for us to play there were many jobs to get done. Hence, the whip was cracked and we all got back to work. The ladies were back in the girls dormitory to finish up painting the bathroom and it’s official, it looks amazing.

The men moved at a much slower pace but continued to persevere in their respective jobs. Milford and Kyle began working on a new cabinet while David and Brooks continued their war of attrition with the termite infested converter shed. Everyone will be happy to hear that the Haitian Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (HOSHA) did stop by for a visit but luckily our guys were following most HOSHA guidelines and bylaws. Only one citation today, they spotted a redhead on the roof.  They were extremely proud of JJ’s safety precautions, not using a battery or a bit in his drill.

There was a soccer game today. We can report that the North Americans took it on the chin 2-1. You will be glad to know that there were no injuries but it will be an early bedtime for everyone.

The reality for all of us here is that this place is changing the world one heart at a time. We are simply blessed to be a small part of the Lord’s work here.

It’s all about the kids!!!