Greetings from the Mountains

Pic of us - 2 As we come to the end of our 7th week here at Baptist Haiti Mission (BHM), we want to update you on what’s been going on! We thank God for the clarity and confirmations He’s given us in directing us here to serve with this dedicated team of missionaries. It’s truly an honor and privilege to be part of this mission that takes seriously their goal to glorify God and advance His kingdom by strengthening the churches of Haiti.

With a mission that works with 350 Haitian churches, pastors, and schools, that sponsors 3,000 students, hosts Master’s level pastoral training every two months and a Summer Bible Institute every July and August, operates an 80 bed regional hospital, and maintains a self-help store and restaurant that sells Haitian made products, there’s an enormous amount of administrative work to be done. Keeping track of people, meetings, needs, and all the financial transactions that go with it involves time, computers, and patience, especially when you’re dealing with multiple currencies (including two Haitian currency systems!).

Sara has been working full-time at Mountain Maid, the self-help Haitian store/restaurant that helps to support so many of our Haitian families here in the mountains. Dennis has worked in the operations department, the central administrative office, and provided some eye care. This weekend he was able to get the major pieces of equipment moved into the eye clinic at the hospital. He’s scheduled to begin seeing patients there on a regular basis on July 1.

After living for four weeks in the apartment of a missionary couple on furlough, we moved into our own apartment three weeks ago. It’s been enjoyable, and at the same time, very busy fixing things up and getting organized. We look forward to getting our own batteries and inverter in the next few weeks as we’re ‘borrowing’ the current of our neighbors above us at the moment. We’ll be taking some pictures and getting those out soon.

One of the most rapidly growing ministries of BHM is the camp ministry at Montrouis. We lived in Montrouis for over two years while serving with New Vision, and that’s where we met Chris Lieb, who is also now our BHM director. Chris and his family continue to live at the camp and run that ministry, and God has blessed it in a huge way. We’re rejoicing for the 19 Haitians who trusted Christ this past week as a result of the camp ministry. Please pray with us for these young lives that they will grow deep in their walk with Christ and become part of our local churches.

This week we had a woman from western Nevada with us who sponsors 13 children in our school sponsorship program. This is her first trip to Haiti, but she’s been “part of the BHM family” for many years. It was very encouraging to hear how she and her husband, who is a pastor, have slowly added one child after another over the years as they’ve come across a little money here and there. She’s had a very rewarding and adventurous week visiting most of her students at their schools and homes in the mountains. Education is such a huge blessing in Haiti for those children who are able to go. Among other things, it enables them to read a Bible and discover the truths of the Gospel for themselves.

One of the neat opportunities we have every morning is meeting for devotions with a group of 20-25 of our workers. We open with 3-4 songs of worship, and then one of the missionaries shares from the Word. Everything is in Creole as most of our workers don’t speak English. Right now we’re going through a discipleship series that covers the basics. Dennis had his 2nd opportunity to share this past Friday, and God graciously enabled him to speak well enough to be understood. Probably most are believers, but some are not. This is another group of men and women you could remember in your prayers.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement to us. God has been so faithful and awesome. We look forward to sharing more of what God is doing here in future updates. Please stay in touch. May God bless you abundantly with His amazing grace and truth!
For His Glory,
Dennis and Sara

Time of Transition

Greetings to all! It’s way past time to update you on what God’s been doing in our lives. As you may or may not know, last summer the Hattens and we found God shifting our focus regarding the children’s home. Instead of looking for land to build a new children’s home, we were led to look for younger children’s home directors for the long-term. The first couple we talked to was Stephen and Autumn Byxbe of Together We Can – Haiti. Stephen and Autumn have lived in Haiti for over 4 years, were former house parents at the New Vision children’s home, and are in the process of adopting one of the original children in the home. They are very familiar with the kids and are well qualified for this special ministry. Within a matter of days after talking with them, the Byxbes let us know that God was leading them to say ‘Yes’. After much work on remodeling a larger two-story house near downtown Montrouis, the children were transferred to their new home the last week of January and are doing well.

Our school, New Vision Academy, has been a tremendous blessing to our eighteen students this past year, and we thank God for all He’s done through it. However, in latter November the Hattens discerned that God was not leading them to continue the school after May of this year. As a result, we faced a significant decision point in the future of New Vision Ministries. Would we look for another building to rent after the school year is over (and the lease on the mission building is done) and continue our current ministries? Or would we consider other options?

Based on our gifts and skill sets, we’ve always believed God brought us to Haiti to work in a supportive role with an established mission that clearly shares our spiritual convictions and priority of making disciples. That is, advancing the kingdom of God in such a way that Haitian lives are transformed for all of eternity! Because of this, we determined that God was leading us to find out if there might be other possible partners, opportunities, or ministries for us to work with. If nothing was found, perhaps God would be telling us to patiently continue doing what we’re doing with New Vision. Or, perhaps it was time to return to America. On the other hand, if He had another plan for us, He could show that to us as well.

So, in early December, we began our ‘exploration’ by talking to a ministry friend with Baptist Haiti Mission (BHM). BHM is a long-established, large independent evangelical mission that was started in the mountains behind Port au Prince in the 1940’s. One of the many things that impressed us about BHM is their emphasis on strengthening the churches of Haiti. That is their motto and theme, and everything they do is focused on making disciples through local Haitian churches (they have 350+ churches/schools over central and northern Haiti). It was very “interesting” to learn that one of the ministries BHM wants to develop in the coming year is their ophthalmology service, and they need equipment to start doing cataract surgery. They have well developed discipleship/training ministries, a solid school sponsorship program, a very fine hospital, and many other ministries, all of which need ongoing missionary and administrative support.

During December we made two exploratory trips to the main BHM campus in Fermathe, which is located 5,200 ft. above Port au Prince. After spending time there, and getting to know the ministries and other missionaries who serve there, we were convinced that God was calling us to serve with BHM. Dennis will do eye care and administrative work, and Sara will assist with various ministries, including their education and Haitian sustainable income programs. It will require that we relocate to Fermathe, and we anticipate moving there in latter April.

As we mentioned earlier, we’ve been surprised and amazed to see how quickly God has put all of this together. But as we look back, we also see how God has been preparing us for this kind of ministry for some time. It will be very hard for us to leave Montrouis and New Vision, and all of the wonderful friends we have here. While several things are changing here, we’re comforted to know our faithful God has everything under His control, and is making sure all things work in conformity to His will. We’re so grateful for your prayers and support. May He be praised in the days ahead!

For His Glory,
Dennis and Sara

NEW VISION through Cataract Surgery in Haiti

Surgical Team led by Dr. Eric Purdy

Surgical Team led by Dr. Eric Purdy

For the first time ever, cataract surgery was done last week in Montrouis, Haiti at our nearby hospital in Pierre Payen.  Not only was cataract surgery done, it was done with the same state-of-the-art, small incision, no-stitch procedure currently done in the US called phacoemulsification (or ‘phaco’).  To our knowledge, this is the only phaco machine that “resides” in Haiti. 

 From two teenage type 1 diabetic girls to several patients in their sixties and seventies, Haitians who were blind or nearly blind from their cataracts were operated on by Dr. Eric Purdy from Ft. Wayne, IN during the four days of Oct. 29-Nov. 1.  One of the many highlights of the week was the impact the surgeries had on the lives of two diabetic girls. 

Teenage diabetic girls 1st day after surgery!

Teenage diabetic girls first day after surgery!

From the minute the patch came off the eye on post-op day one, one of these girls was able to see her sister for the first time in two years!  Smiles and tears flowed for all in that room.  In fact, both of these girls did so well with their cataract surgery on the first day that they had their other eye done on the last day of the week.  All one-day post-op visits were very encouraging, and their one week post-ops are being done this week.The idea of providing cataract surgery began last February when a partner of New Vision visited one of our eye clinics and witnessed the overwhelming number of untreated cataract patients.  When told that  very few patients had access to affordable, quality cataract surgery, the dream was launched that would ask God to address this huge need.  Dr. Purdy was consulted and gave countless hours of telephone and email time explaining how to make this happen from his many years of doing cataract surgeries in third-world countries. 

Dr. Eric Purdy performing cataract surgery

Dr. Eric Purdy performing cataract surgery

Not only did he freely offer his invaluable advice, he agreed to come down the last week of October to do surgery.  Then, another special friend of New Vision was moved by God to provide resources that enabled quality cataract surgery equipment to be purchased.  A bus was provided that could transport the heavy, bulky operating microscope, stands, stools, examination chairs, and many other supplies that were needed.  Through the prayers of many, many people, God graciously delivered the bus just in time for the scheduled week of surgery!

Patients waiting for their one-day post-op check

Patients waiting for their one-day post-op check

We stand in awe of our amazing God!  He is a mighty and loving God who loves us in a way we’ll never comprehend, and has a special heart for the hurting and needy of this world.  May this ‘new vision’ of our patients impact them and us in a way that ‘opens our eyes’ to the unfading beauty of Jesus!  What a privilege we have to be part of His care to those around His world.  May we never lose ‘SIGHT’ of that!

New Bus Is Here!

Bus Arriving at the MissionOur new New Vision Ministries bus arrived this week, and what a celebration it was!  The work and contributions of so many that began last February came to fruition as Dago drove it into the mission at 3:30 pm this past Wednesday afternoon!  From school supplies to eye examination and cataract surgery equipment to Breedlove meal packs to sound equipment, this bus was full of blessings from God for Haiti.  Join with us in praising Him for providing such a quality vehicle that will serve many purposes for years to come.

Can You Hear Us??

Recently we did another Evangelistic Crusade at our Community Center Crusade 1building in the ‘fishing village’, also called Kalalande, but this time it was with a team from North Carolina.  The Community Center is used for Bible studies, meetings, English classes, the bead program, and, in the foreseeable future pre- and post-natal classes.  But it also has a great “front porch” that serves as a stage for events like this Crusade.  We rent a really loud sound system so people in the area will be drawn by the sound.  Our Haitian ministry guys takCrusade 2e over.  Maestro and some men in one of his groups sing.  They are quite popular here so some come just to hear good acapella singing.  Maestro then shares Scripture and a passionate, biblical message that calls for repentance and obedience to follow Christ as Lord and Savior.  Often Wesner, Simeon and Va also share a song or testimony.  It’s great to see our guys step up and pour out their hearts to those who have yet to bow their knee to the King.  They lay it out there – not worried about offending someone or being “too preachy”.  It’s a time wCrusade 3e cry out to God to move through this town by the power of His Spirit!  It’s a time such as Jesus declared in Matthew 4:17, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!” 

Manifestations in Haiti

In general, Haitians are very patient and amazingly tolerant of their very poor living conditions.  However, every now and then, they become frustrated and want “their voice to be heard”.  The common way they do this is with what’s called a ‘manifestation’.  They do something very visible in one of the main roads, such as turn over a car and set it on fire, drag a bunch of tires out in the road and set them on fire, create a roadblock, etc. 

This past Wednesday they turned three semi-trailers crossways in the main road running through our town and blocked all traffic for a couple of hours.  Finally, the police came and dispersed the crowd and got the semi-trailers moved.  We were going to Port-Au-Prince that morning to pick up one of our ministry partners at the airport at 9 am, and were fortunate to get there by 10 am.  Today, ‘the restless ones’ were at it again as they built a wall of large rocks in the middle of the road and stopped traffic most of the morning.  They also set up a second barricade at the (only) bridge and stopped traffic in a second place with a crossways semi-trailer.  The main road through our town is the main (and actually the only) north-south road in Haiti from Port-au-Prince to St. Marc and on up to Cap Haitien. 

So what are they protesting?  Lack of electricity.  As the city of Montrouis gets ready to celebrate its birthday on June 24, the level of frustration over the lack of electricity is intensifying.  Unless you are fortunate enough to have your own generator (or solar panels – which are very rare)… AND have the money to continue filling your generator with gas or diesel, you don’t have electricity.  Government-supplied electricity is essentially worthless – maybe 6-10 hours a week, and you never know when those precious few hours will come.

We also think of the many people here who were affected by the road closure – those who needed to get to and from the airport, conduct business, get necessary supplies, or make an emergency  trip to a hospital.  For sure, this present life is full of frustration and problems, whether you live in Haiti or America.  As we think about this life’s temporary troubles, we pray they’ll cause people everywhere to look to the One who offers the only real solution to this life’s GREATEST need… new life in Christ!

Does This Make Sense?

We’ve asked ourselves that question, and we imagine that some of our friends, family and acquaintances have as well.  Here we are, back in Haiti after a three-week trip to Indiana.  We experienced the joy of seeing our baby grandson again, celebrating the upcoming birth of another, and watching our family grow through the marriage of a son and now daughter-in-law.  Visits with children, parents, siblings, and friends were so special.  We continue to be blessed with good health.  Life is good.

 So with all this great stuff going on in our lives, why does it make sense to be away from it all and live in Haiti most of the time?  Because what we continue to believe and experience is that obeying God’s call to serve Him in Haiti is what really makes sense.