STACEY GAGNE - Today was the day that we spent at the FBI Church, or Faith Bible International Church. WJTL has gotten to be a part of helping this church partner with Compassion as many of our listeners joined the Child Sponsorship Program in 2010.
What a difference a couple of years makes! When we were here in 2010 there was final construction taking place on the building that was newly built and dedicated. Now they have a huge thriving church with plans to build a school on the property in the near future. They also discussed plans to put cobblestone or some sort of pavers in the front entrance area where the kids play futball.
The church holds a weekly healing service on Wednesdays. It was sort of strange to be in a packed out church in the middle of the day on a weekday, however many of the people who were there have flexible jobs, no jobs, or are just so desperate for the Lord and healing that they were there. It was a powerful powerful service full of energetic worship and amazing encounters with the Lord. We saw God move in miraculous ways!!! They honored us as guests and invited us up onto the stage to share with the congregation. That was quite an honor.
We spent a good deal of time playing with the kids that were there at the church that were not in school for whatever reason. I blew bubbles with them, learned some playground games and danced with them.
Our afternoon was very special as we visited the homes of two little boys: Fitsum and Daniel. Fitsum lives with his father, sister and cousin. His mother passed away when he was only 1 year old and so his father has a lot of responsibility trying to make a living as a laborer and pay rent on his one room home. He repeatedly shared his thankfulness for Compassion and for our visit as he has very little camaraderie in his life. We were able to provide the family with several important items including rice, coffee, flour, pasta, oil, and tea.
Visiting little Daniel was special to me, as I am friends with his sponsor! I was able to represent her, bring the gifts that she had purchased for him and his mother and get to hear from his mom. He is blessed to have both parents in his life and they live in one of the nicer homes that I have visited… A two room home that even had a television. His mothers biggest prayer for her children is that they would thrive and grow up with hope and a future that she did not have when she was a child. She was gushing with thanks for Daniels sponsorship. That little boy is beaming and thriving. Praise God.
We wrapped up our day having dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant with traditional food and dance. It was a fun time to spend together as a team and enjoy the rich culture!
I will be posting another blog soon with lots of pictures. I’m thankful for another day well spent here in Addis Ababa hearing and sharing the good news of Jesus and how His love is being spread through the work of Compassion International!
STACEY GAGNE- I think these beautiful photos speak much louder than words.
STACEY GAGNE - Greetings from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia! Our team has had a very full and inspiring day today as we visited Ethiopia’s Compassion Office and the Sadamo Guenet Church project, also the home of Senait, the beautiful little girl that I have the pleasure of sponsoring.
We had the privilege of joining the Compassion staff with their morning devotions this morning. Not only did we receive encouragement as we worshiped with them, but they prayed for us. We spent time the Country Director Tsehaywota Taddesse. He truly shared his heart with us and shared the testimony of how God moved his heart for children. He shared how “God mobilizes the world for the heart of even just one child”.
It was eye opening to hear that there are 370 churches in partnership with Compassion in Ethiopia and many anxious to be added to that list! I love that Compassion has a heart to see local church bodies grow by way of families who become involved in the program and in turn become involved with the church body and learning about the love of Jesus.
This afternoon we headed out to Sedamo Guenet Church where we were greeted by the church staff, compassion site directors and families involved with the program. We were treated to a coffee ceremony, helped feed children their lunch and heard the testimony of several mothers who are a part of the Child Survival Program and have received Jesus as their Lord as a result of how they have been impacted. The CSP program is fairly new for this project, having been established in 2002. There are 36 children and 35 mothers currently involved. 183 children are registered to the Child Sponsorship program.
Our time with all of the children was very sweet; of course mine was focused on Senait and her mother Aberush. Oh how she has grown and looks so much healthier than she did in 2010! We played together, talked, sang, I had the opportunity to visit her home and present them with gifts. Mom, Aberush pulled out a special chest she had tucked away for her most special things and in it were the letters that I have sent to Senait. Wow. That brought me to tears. When it was time to say goodbye, there were many hugs and kisses as we walked out to our van. We were almost all loaded into the van and ready to close the door and Senait’s mom Aberush rushed back over to the van in tears and gave me one final long hug. Aberush and Senait live with the grandmother who pulled me aside earlier in the day to share how much her family has been impacted since Senait’s sponsorship. Though she is extremely young and shy, Aberush’s actions spoke that to me in volumes.
Child sponsorship matters. It impacts children, families and in turn communities and beyond. I welcome you to begin praying now about being involved in a families life and participating in WJTL’s 26 hours of Compassion February 20 -21. I also invite those of you who are current sponsors or even potential sponsors to pray about the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia in August with us to meet your child and get involved with a service project at the church where they receive their care. Our visits are a HUGE encouragement to them.
I hope that you are staying tuned to the live reports. You can also go back to listen to them at our wjtl casts page. More photos are coming soon and video will be edited and posted in the near future.
Serving with joy and delight here in Ethiopia!
Lisa Landis – This Thursday I travel to Kenya to report on the community of Alendu with Rafiki Africa. Rafiki Africa works together with African communities to provide practical resources, training, real and lasting hope, dignity, encouragement, spiritual growth and guidance. It’s been two years since I visited Africa. My last trip was with Eastern Mennonite Missions in April of 2010. Before I travel on Thursday, I wanted to update you on the Guinea-Bissau school project in Western Africa. Here is a quick video of the progress:
The walls are up and the roof is on the school building in Catel, Guinea-Bissau, that WJTL listeners so generously contributed to in 2010-2011. EMM worker Beryl Forester said all the funds that were raised have been used – about $11,000.
Beryl estimates that another $5,000 would cover the cost of plastering both the inside and the outside of the school, pouring the concrete floors, putting in windows and doors, and painting the building. Of course, furnishings like desks and benches would also be helpful; making or purchasing them would likely cost an additional $3,000. This building will have four classrooms, each accommodating 30 students, 120 per session. There are two sessions per day.
There’s still a lot to be done! Catel has one of the worst educational situations in the region. Most of the teachers do not receive a salary so classes are quite irregular and the instructional level is insufficient. Sadly, many of the students who go through the program still can’t read or write when they finish.
But there’s also reason to hope! A man who is a native of Catel will soon complete his teacher’s certificate and Beryl reports that he has a dream to return to Catel to help create an effective school environment here.
Another new project in Guinea-Bissau
Another exciting possibility for the village is the prospect of getting a cashew processing project up and running. EMM is raising funds through a special Faithfunder campaign to run a pilot project. This would mean villagers could process their cashews in the country rather than shipping them to India for processing, which is what they do now. Processing the nuts locally, and establishing trade relationships directly with buyers, means the communities that grow the cashews also get the jobs and retain more of the profits. The community could see long-term economic development.
You can be part of this project, too. You can even get tasty cashew nuts in exchange for supporting it! But it’s only running until October 12. Go to www.emm.org/cashew and find out:
- Why is EMM processing cashews in Guinea-Bissau?
- What is Faithfunder?
- How can people help?
STACEY GAGNE – Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Global Disciples Banquet: “For the Healing of the Nations” held at Willow Valley/Doubletree Palm Court. We’d been promoting the banquet on WJTL and when my friend asked if I’d like to attend with her I was excited to say, “Sure!” I was thrilled to find out that Ethiopia was the featured country of the night and that there would be testimonies from Ethiopia and even the traditional coffee that I enjoyed so much when I was there was to be served!
As we arrived we were greeted with music from the Tinsae Kristos Evangelical Church choir and Ethiopian women were ready with freshly roasted coffee and popcorn samples. I was excited for more people from Lancaster County to get to have a taste of Ethiopian culture, too.
It was encouraging to hear about the work being done in Ethiopia as Global Disciples is helping to equip leaders, to multiply disciples of Jesus and see them plant churches. I loved hearing testimonies of Gods healing and miraculous moves among the people.
On one of their pamphlets, they used a phrase that I have heard used often: What’s in Your Hand?” There are so many opportunities for us to use what gifts and resources God has given us for His glory. Through our local churches, local ministries, and those touching the world like Global Disciples, Compassion International, Eastern Mennonite Missions and so many others … there is no shortage of opportunities for us to help. We just need to make sure that we are making ourselves available for God to use us!
STACEY GAGNE – Tomorrow we take the trek back over the mountain and make our way to Port Au Prince and then our team will say goodbye as we make our ways to our homes. This week we have all had the opportunity to see Haiti in a way that we had not seen it before … both for those who had been here before and those of us who had not. A lot has changed in Haiti since the earthquake. There is destruction and rebuilding, frustration and hope, turmoil and joy. Joy in Hope is in Jacmel Haiti with the desire to be a ripple … to help develop the people here. They are not here to take over or give them everything they need, but to “teach a man to fish”. They are impacting the lives of children through the children’s home and other “strategic projects for the purpose of building mutual love and trust so that we may humbly speak the message of Grace.” I saw evidence of this with them men we worked with, the diaper distribution program and even their interactions around the community. I saw the family that is the Haitian Children’s Home. I got to know Mike and Georgette and saw how they work with the construction team with respect, laughter and accomplishing the goal of beginning construction on the land.
I can’t wait to come back and see the progress on the land. I am certain that there is a lot that I have learned. I am confident that people saw the love of Jesus in me and our team. I know that God loves Haiti, these people, this ministry and His purposes and plans here will be accomplished.
STACEY GAGNE - It’s hard to believe we only have one full day left here. Have we really been here almost a week? This morning our team headed back to the work site. We’ve gotten used to the routine of getting picked up by Mike after breakfast, heading to the Texaco to pick up water and ice and making our way to to the land. After yesterday’s full day of work, we were careful to take more breaks. We realized our stamina is not the same as the Haitians. At the same time, it was fulfilling to see that we had learned a lot and were able to mix cement without a ton of coaching. The walls are starting to really come up and by the time we left at lunchtime, the back wall was level and looking great!
One of my high points of the day was the last hour or so on the site when I started using some of the French and a tiny bit of Spanish that I know to communicate with the guys on the land. I realized that when I really listened that I could pick out a word here and there and I think they were surprised with how much french I could understand. As the week has gone on I definitely have had a lot come back to me. After working with these guys all week, it was fun to connect a little even in such a small way of exchanging a few words. We’re building walls together and in a small way it felt like other “walls” were starting to come down.
This evening Gwenn and Nick and our team went to Cyvadier, a great restaurant just outside of Jacmel with an ocean view. We really enjoyed our meals (I had lambi thai or thai conch with rice). Even more-so we really enjoyed hearing stories from Gwenn and Nick and having dinner as a group of friends who feel more like family now.
Tomorrow morning Gwenn is taking Bonnie and I with her to Bwa Vital, one of the newer, cleaner tent camps where we will be doing diaper distribution. Bwa Vital is a major upgrade for the residents there who have moved from Pinchinat were conditions were very poor. I’m sure it will be a mixed experience for me as I know there are some children with some severe health issues there. I’m thankful that in addition to all that Joy in Hope is doing with the Children’s Home that they are reaching into the community and helping in so many other ways. We will also be visiting the land and getting the full tour and also having a walking tour in Jacmel.
One more day. It’s hard to believe.
STACEY GAGNE – Today was the most labor intensive day of the week for us. We worked a full day mixing cement, filling buckets and helping to pour it into the foundation. Yes, we became human cement mixers. While we continued to work on the building there were other locals out in the brush cutting down vines, brush and small trees. There is also a large area of brush that is being gradually burned out because of thousands of bees and hornets! We are steering clear of it. Mike said that they should be able to harvest the honey once the bees move on, though. Nothing goes to waste!
This evening after we cleaned up and were waiting for dinner, one of the Jacmel Bay artists came by to show us (and sell) some of the jewelry he has made. Jacmel Bay is a project that my friend Denise has developed to help hearing impaired artists in Jacmel develop a trade. They make necklaces, small nativities and other beautiful creations that are in turn sold in the US to help raise funds for missions trips. (I sold some to help raise funds for my trip.) I loved making the connection with Jeann Ferissien. I’m wondering if he made any of the necklaces that I sold!
Please pray for Joy in Hope as they seek to raise funds in the midst of all of the work that they are doing. This is a growing ministry in Haiti that is making an impact. There are opportunities to support the ministry that needs base support and there are also missions staff like Mike and Georgette, Directors of Development who are still working towards full sponsorship.
Thanks for praying for our team, too. God truly put together a group with varied gifts, skills and personalities who can work well together and are now friends!
STACEY GAGNE – Today was a very full, productive and fun day. Our team spent the morning working (and playing) on the Joy in Hope land. We continued to work with rebar and other steel making parts that get put together for the base poles and connectors where the concrete will be poured for putting this house together. It’s amazing to think that all of these little metal square and triangles we are making are going to help hold this building together.
I had brought some hacky sacks along to the land hoping that some neighbors would show up and they did! I had fun playing with the boys and showing them how to hack. Some of the other team members got in on the action, too.
A funny (now) story from this afternoon that is a good example of the unpredicable nature of living in Haiti… one of our team members was in the shower after our time at the work site. The rule of thumb in conserving water is to get wet, turn off the water, lather up, then rinse off. Well, though there is plenty of water in the cisterns, it’s practically a full time job for the staff here to keep switching between the two, pumping, and keeping up with the whole process of keeping the water going. Well one of our friends got stuck in the shower for a good 10 minutes all lathered up. We could laugh about it tonight.
This afternoon and evening we spent time at Joy In Hopes Haitians Childrens home (aka the Mangine home). We were able to present them with the bags and bags of formula, cloth diapers, school supplies, clothes and more that we brought. We also spent time tie dying t-shirts with the kids and that was a big hit. Dinner tonight was Haitian spaghetti with picklies (a spicy sort of coleslaw). YUM. The spaghetti was a drier version of our spaghetti with tons of spices. They like to eat it with mayonaise, ketchup and/or hot sauce. Interesting .
Tonight our team packaged up all the disposable diapers that we brought that will be distributed at the tent camps. We also spent time debriefing (which we do each night as a team). We share our highs and lows from the days and have a devotional time. I love to hear the different perspectives of the team members and re-live the days memories together.
Tomorrow is a full work day. Stay tuned for more updates!