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!

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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.

God Can Move Mountains!

Yes, God CAN move mountains!  In our case this past weekend, God moved eight refugee families TO the mountain to live in new duplex homes!  We praise GOD for making this happen.

New duplexes just finished for 8 refugee families!

New duplexes just finished for 8 refugee families!

As a result of the generosity of a Lions Club in Finland, and Dr. Kerry’s initiative, a grant was awarded to New Vision in September 2012 to build 4 duplexes for 8 refugee families.  A local pastor made his land on the mountainside available at a special price, and the

Handing over the keys to a proud new family.

Handing over the keys to a proud new family.

construction company from St. Marc finished their work within budget!  (How often does that happen?!!)  As we learned how to get lots of water up the mountain for mixing concrete, the hand of God became more and more evident to all.  GOD CAN move mountains of obstacles, and He proved it once again.  We rejoice with these families who now have permanent places to live.

Celebration Ceremony with all the families.

Celebration Ceremony with all the families.

New Vision Ministries Update

We praise God for providing a one-year lease renewal on our current mission building that houses our children’s home.  We continue to pray about the long-term plans God has for these dear children.  The kids are doing well, and we’re thankful for the progress they’ve made in school this year.

The first duplex for 2 refugee families is finished!

The first duplex for 2 refugee families is finished!

The first of 4 duplexes was finished during February, and the final 3 are now under construction.  They’re projected to be done later this month.  We praise God for how smoothly the construction has gone!

Our buses and pickup have been repaired, and are ‘back on the road again’.  We still have a Ford Excursion that needs heads replaced, so if you know of a Ford diesel mechanic out there who wants to find some warmer weather for a week or so, we have all the parts and tools ready to go.  Just let us know!

Another project of the Indiana team - building bunk beds for the mission

Another project of the Indiana team – building bunk beds for the mission

The medical building partnership we formed with Life Connection last fall is going well as Dr. Tom and Sara are doing medical clinics two days a week, and Dr. Dennis is doing eye clinics 1-2 days per week.  We’re putting together multiple ideas for using the “Community Center Building” that we built last year in the fishing village.  These include moving the English and Creole (literacy) classes there, as well as the Bible studies that have been going on at the fish house.  The Indiana team was able to finish the electrical in that building, and Stephen Byxbe’s medical team did clinics there for two days at the end of January.

The long-awaited container from Barbados was released at the beginning of February.  We’re now waiting to find out how flexible the donors are in allowing us to utilize the various materials, especially the wood and roofing materials. We’d love to use them to finish the many damaged and incomplete homes of our friends and workers.

We know of a few children we would love to sponsor for school this year, even at this late date!  They’ve recently been dismissed from school for lack of payment, but had been attending since October.  If God is leading anyone to consider this need, it takes $200 to sponsor a child.

The fishing program has hit a snag, and we’re presently in the process of restructuring the ministry.  Please pray for us and the fishermen that God would have His way in everything.  The women’s ministry is also undergoing a re-design that we pray will foster a more responsible attitude in each of the women.

Some of these changes are necessitated by the shortfall in donations to the ministry.  We’re trusting God to meet our needs.  Please pray for us as we seek to use the funds we have according to His will for this ministry.

Thank you for your prayers and partnership with us here.  We love you, miss you, and look forward to hearing from you when you can.  God bless you.

For His Name’s Sake,

Dennis and Sara

Back in Haiti

Time again for an update!  We returned to Haiti on January 15 and the time since then has flown.  The precious time we spent in Indiana and Michigan was wonderful as we visited family and friends.  Although we were both ill those first days back, we were able to celebrate Christmas, as well as special occasions in our family. Not having our Winamac home available in which to live was not a problem thanks to dear friends, family and our church.  Our first grandchild, Kale, was born to Andrea and John after Christmas and we were blessed to hold him on his first day of air-breathing life!  Austin will marry Nicole in April, and Erika and Travis announced that they too would bless us with a grandchild in August!  So, our family is growing quickly!

In the time we’ve been back to Haiti, we’ve had visiting teams from Texas, Indiana, and North Carolina.  Another group from Indiana will be here next week. Discipleship training, vehicle service, and construction-related projects have filled these past few weeks.  The long-awaited container(s) from Barbados were finally released Feb. 1, so we’re anxious to see how God will use these items in His ministry!  We thank you for your continuing prayers for us and this ministry.

Family XMas 12-23-12

By far, what we miss the most living in Haiti is our beautiful family.  We took this picture this past Christmas, and the only one missing is our grandson, Kale, who was born just one week later!  Thank you again for your love, prayers, and encouragement.

Together for the Advancement of His Kingdom,

Dennis and Sara

Home for the Holidays!

We are anxiously preparing for our trip back to Indiana on Dec. 10th.  Many of you may know we have a nice family renting our home until theirs is built.  Thanks to some wonderful friends, family, and church family, we will have plenty of shelter and comfort the entire five weeks we are home.  Our official address is still 730 S. 25 W. Winamac, and we continue to get mail delivered there.  However, we have discontinued our home telephone number (946-6025), so we will be available only by our cell phones, which remain the same as before:  574-225-1045 (Sara) and 765-490-0837 (Dennis).

We will not only visit our kids, parents and siblings, but we will welcome Baby Kale Fenchak into the family some time around Christmas (due date is Christmas Day)!  Andrea and John are awaiting his arrival in Indy.

It’s interesting and very different to observe Christmas in Haiti.  We see very few “signs of the season”, although the hotel where we stay did put up a Christmas tree and a few lights this past week.  While it may seem a little lacking as far as our traditional, American “Christmas spirit” goes, in many ways it seems closer and more real to the first Christmas 2000 years ago.  In a very poor land where the people have no means to commercialize or sensationalize, it’s like the simple stage is set for the amazing miracle of God coming to earth!  We pray that against the backdrop of the long, dark nights of Haiti, this truth will once again burst forth in all its brilliance:  Jesus is Christmas and He is the reason for celebrating!

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible while we are back. We also look forward to sharing more about the ministry here in our next update.  It will be coming soon.  Thank you so much all for your love and prayers.

Merry Christmas!

Jwaye Nwèl!

Dennis and Sara

More Light Is Always Good!

Just yesterday Sara found a desk lamp to help her read the small print on the package inserts in the clinic’s  pharmacy.  For those of us in the second half of our lives, more light is always good!

A few weeks ago we did a medical/eye clinic in a nearby area, and we immediately noticed that the usual number of people were not present when we arrived.  I asked one of our Haitian translators about that, and he told me that most people were either in the cemeteries celebrating the dead… or fasting.  My friend explained that the evil people were practicing voodoo as part of the Haitian holiday called “All Souls Day”, or “The Day of the Dead”.  At the same time, the Christians and some moral people were fasting in prayer.  Quite a contrast!  (My friend defined “moral” people as those who try to live upright, decent lives, but don’t have Christ – 1 John 5:11, 12)  We had a slow day in the clinic, so our conversation continued…

I asked my friend what percentage of people he thought were in each group.  He estimated that currently about 60% of Haitians practice voodoo, 20% practice Christianity, and 20% are moral.  He said if you go back 30 years or more, the percentages would have been closer to 80% voodoo, 10% Christian, and 10% moral.  I asked him what he thinks is responsible for the change over the past 25-30 years.  He answered by saying “more light”.   He went on to explain that more kids are going to school today, and this has helped to open the minds of the younger generation, and given them more light to see that the darkness of the past doesn’t have to control them.  An ‘enlightenment’ of sorts has been slowly emerging that gives new vision and new possibilities to those who are willing to consider them.  He also said the advancement and light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has exposed evil and contributed to these encouraging changes.  Evil is slowly retreating to specific locations, and is not as prevalent everywhere as it used to be.  Many evil families now have a Christian or two in the family.  And even those areas that have been most evil and dark now have churches that are shining Light.

As I listened to my friend’s evaluation of the past 30 years, I was encouraged to hear about the changes taking place in our area of Haiti.  While it sometimes seems as though the gospel is not advancing as quickly as we would like, it’s always good to hear about the differences more Light is making!

One of Satan’s biggest schemes is to “blind the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4).  It’s our greatest desire and prayer that God will continue to shine more Light in this land so that more and more people will see the glory and beauty of Christ!  For once you really see Him, you’re never the same… you’re forever changed!  “Seeing Him is believing Him!”