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!
STACEY GAGNE – Today was day one of the building project on Joy in Hope’s land. Joy in Hope has 17 acres of land on the ocean in Jacmel, Haiti. Our team has the privilege of helping to build the first building on the land! Today we worked with a team of 15 – 20 men from Projet Connect . After the earthquake, Joy in Hope helped provide several families from one of the tent camps with rental homes. As part of a work for housing project, Joy in Hope has paid for their rent for the year with the agreement that the Haitians will help with various Joy in Hope projects to be eligible for another year of paid rent.
The men had the project underway having leveled and dug out the foundation. When we arrived we were put to work bending, cutting and tying metal and assembling posts that will serve as structure for the house. Mike and Georgette, the Directors of Development for Joy in Hope and some hired crew leaders gave us instruction and patiently re-directed people like me who are not so used to construction work. We had fun joking around while sweating and trying to stay hydrated!
It is really exciting to know that what we are doing is getting the ball rolling for the development of this land! Later this week we will get the full tour of the land. Thinking that in the future the kids will be playing here in this beautiful land on the ocean and all of the possibilities this will offer for community impact is so exciting!
Oh, and on the way home … we saw the brightest double rainbow I’ve ever seen. I think you can only see one in the pictures… so you’ll have to take my word for it.
There are opportunities to get involved with future projects or to join with the vision. Please visit Joy in Hope online or on Facebook and connect!
STACEY GAGNE - We’re wrapping up our first full day here in Jacmel. Since today was Sunday, we had a great day including church with Joy in Hope and the afternoon at Raymond Beach!
I saw some examples of how life in Haiti may not always go as planned. Like running water in the shower. As we got ready to go to church this morning we got a rain storm. Since our team and all of the children from Joy in Hope would need to pile in the back of tap taps for a long wet ride to get to church we decided to move to a plan B and had house church at the Haitian Children’s Home. It was great. The children taught us some songs in Creole and English and Nick shared a devotional focusing on the parables of the coin, the pearl and the lost sheep and talked about the truths hidden within the parables about how much God loves us and seeks us out because we are precious to Him. I loved hearing the children processing what they were learning about Gods’ love for us! This is what Joy in Hope is all about. Loving these kids. Being family. Demonstrating how Jesus loves them to the children.
After a delicious lunch made by the staff at the Isaiah house, we headed to Raymond beach. The weather in Haiti changes quickly and our rainy day turned gorgeous! We piled in the tap taps … I chose to ride in the back and it was really fun (and windy). On our way, one of the vehicles had a flat tire that was quickly changed by Nick and Hughes while the children enjoyed some sugar cane. With the conditions of the roads around here I would guess this is not an unusual thing for them.
The beach was beautiful… the view, spectacular blue water. At the same time there were also piles of trash everywhere … and livestock. This was definitely something to get used to. There were also the vendors who were determined to sell us their various souvenirs, art and food. We had a blast playing in the ocean with the kids, making sand creations, flying kites and just hanging out.
I’m thankful for a true day of rest and fun before we head into our work week. The building project work bright and early!
STACEY GAGNE - We’re here! The OBX Haiti team is settling in at our home for the week at The Isaiah House here in Jacmel. Our team of 8 from the Outer Banks, Raleigh, Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri and Pennsylvania made all of our connections and came together with about 1000 lbs of luggage. Our team ranges from one who has never been out of the country to several well seasoned travelers. Over the last several months we have connected through Facebook and it was really exciting to meet each other face to face and begin our journey. I plan to introduce you to some of the team during some of my call in reports. Members of our team will also be sharing their thoughts at OBX Haiti.
Today we flew into Port au Prince and made the (about) 3 1/2 hour journey along the coast and over the mountains to Jacmel. We loaded all of our luggage into the back of the Joy in Hope Truck/Tap Tap and were on our way. We passed by some of the tent cities in Port au Prince, many roadside markets, and then drove an incredibly windy road through the mountains. Our driver honked his horn continuously to let drivers around the upcoming curves know we were coming through (or to push our way through traffic).
We’re excited to get started on our project this week, but first tomorrow we will go to church and then spend some time at the beach with the Joy in Hope family. The rest of the week we’ll be working on building a home on their land (the foundation has already been laid for us), spending time with the kids, sorting through and distributing the supplies we’ve pulled together and learning more about the people here in Jacmel.
Here are some pictures that I took along the way (many out the window of a moving van).
STACEY GAGNE -
It is a very exciting time right now. I’m currently packing my office for our move to Junction Road while also packing the items that I need for Haiti. As I’ve been sitting here loading files into file boxes I was thinking about the trip and what I’m most looking forward to.
On the practical side, I have to admit I’m really looking forward to that moment when we get our luggage loaded onto the truck! I’ll also be glad when I pack my luggage into the car on Friday knowing that I have fit everything I could think of into my carry on. Woo hoo. Sweet relief!
The thing I’m most looking forward to, though, is those moments of just being there, in the moment, loving people! When I traveled to Ethiopia with Compassion last year, I quickly found that the things I will bring and the “help” that I can give are certainly important … but the time spent playing with the children and hearing their stories and telling mine … making live, human connections … these are what I took away from the experience. These are the moments I’ll be sharing with you back here at home. It’s my desire to connect you with the organization: Joy in Hope, while also showing how JOY and HOPE through JESUS are being displayed in another part of the world. What an opportunity!
Packing, Preparing and Full of Anticipation
STACEY GAGNE -
This morning I had the opportunity to be on the Get Up and Go Show during the 7:00 hour to share about my trip to Haiti next week. We also got to interview Nick Mangine live from Jacmel, Haiti on Skype. It was great to hear him briefly share his heart and give our listeners some framework for what our time will be doing while we are there. You can hear the interview at the WJTL Casts page.
This Friday, my friend Chris Boone and I will be flying to Miami to join the rest of the team as well as Gwenn Mangine who is returning to Haiti after a visit with her family. I am really anxious to meet the rest of the team and to see Gwenn. I’ve known Gwenn and Nick for years through the Creation Festival family.
When the team is all together, it’s going to be quite a sight to see all of our bags full of supplies all in one place! Saturday morning we fly out of Miami to Port Au Prince and then will make the journey from there to Jacmel. Apparently depending on weather it could be a 2 to 4 hour ride. That will be quite a journey, I’m sure!
Please check out the Joy in Hope Facebook. If you scroll down through you can see lots of pictures including some of the homes that other mission teams have built and of course there are lots of pictures of the kids. Our team will be building a small house on the Joy in Hope land while we are there while also hanging out with the kids in the Mangine house, the children and families in the community and doing whatever else we can to help and be an encouragement.
Below is a picture of 9 of the 12 kids in the Mangine home. I can’t wait to see them!!
Counting down the days!
STACEY GAGNE -
Last night I had the opportunity to sit in at a very important movie premier. I attended a screening of 58: The Film at Manor theater in Lancaster. Hope International hosted this screening and helped to prepare, share scripture and even pray with the audience in attendance before and after the film. Hope International is one of the lead agencies partnering together in this initiative to fight poverty. Other lead agencies you may recognize include Compassion , Food for the Hungry, International Justice Mission, and many others (complete listing is available at the Partnering Page of the 58 website). The coming together of so many organizations really excites me! But I am getting ahead of myself.
58:, named for Isaiah 58, is a reminder that God desires us to carry out the True Fast, one that cares for the poor and oppressed. It’s also a reminder that the end of extreme poverty is possible and in fact is already starting to happen. While the film took us on a journey across the world, we witnessed some really hard stories in areas like Ethiopia, Kenya, and India. We also saw the impact that is being and has been made by those who have chosen to do something! Though there is still so much poverty in the world, huge leaps have been made and there is hope if we continue to prayerfully act!
On a personal note, this was incredibly timely for me as I head to Haiti next week. I am invigorated and inspired. It also brought me back a year to my own time in Ethiopia. (I think I even recognized a Compassion staff member!)
I would encourage you to check out 58:. Find it and “like it” on Facebook and then get a screening set up for your church, small group, business or organization. Also, consider “What’s in your hand” that may save a life!!
Desiring for “our light to break forth like the dawn”