Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas In Haiti

Aloha everyone - or Bon Jou (good morning) as we say in Creole

Well, our Base Camp in Haiti is closed down for the holidays as all our staff are taking a much needed rest. I'm in Florida now but look forward to returning to my "home" in Haiti at the end of the month. Over the last month or so we haven't had as many teams in Haiti as earlier in the year, but still lots of work got done !

In Jeremie, some of our staff, along with a small team from DC, finished the bathrooms, storeroom and bunk beds - enabling the orphanage children to move into their new home. The bunk beds and dorm rooms are in such contrast to where they used to sleep. What a blessing to see the completion of something that was started over a year ago with the purchase of property for the new church and orphanage. And you may remember that our church in Honolulu - New Hope Diamond Head - donated money that was used to purchase the new property in Jeremie. Thank-you again New Hope Diamond Head for starting something to bless the Jeremie children and congregation. And thank-you to all the others - churches and individuals - who donated money and time to build the new church and orphanage on the Jeremie property. Their lives are permanently changed for the better by your love and donations. The work in Jeremie is not finished, but the children now have a wonderful new place to live (and go to school) and the church congregation has such a beautiful place to worship God.

Back closer to Port-au-Prince the work continues on the Torcelle Orphanage (I previously referred to as Bellande's orphanage). After lots of work relocating the stream, and building a canal along the edge of the property, we were finally able to building concrete footings and start the structure for the new orphanage. Currently the kids that will live in the new orphanage are living in two different places. Six of the youngest girls live with us at Base Camp and the others live in a temporary house close to the new orphanage. Eventually we hope to have 25 children in this orphanage.

The other exciting project at the Torcelle property is the new church. Now that the stream is moved and the property protected from flooding, this summer and fall we were able to build a beautiful temporary church structure for the congregation. After we finished the wood framing and roof, the Haitian congregation finished the floor, platform for the pulpit, the tarps for the walls and all the church decorations. Pastor Bellande used to have his church services in a tiny rented house close by, but on December 4th, the congregation had their first church service on the new Torcelle property. It was especially exciting for me to attend and celebrate with the congregation. Even though I am just getting to know many of them, I can easily see their love for God. Pastor Bellande asked for me to share a couple thoughts during the service and all that studying Creole finally paid off as I was able to share with the congregation in their language without an interpreter (although I probably sounded like a two year old trying to talk to them ! Ha !!).

And we continue to assist with the tent city near our base camp church. So far this year we've been able to install over 100 tarps on existing tents to stop the roof leaks and set up over 30 new tents for the families there. One of the joys of working with the tent city Haitians is seeing the new babies born there. They start out life in such difficult conditions, yet they also bring great joy to their families. Often I've been asked to pray for the newborns and it such a blessing to pray over these young ones - they may have to live very difficult lives, but God loves them and it's an honor to pray for them.

Have a great Christmas and we'll see you next year !!

God bless

Mark Olson,Foursquare Haiti

The finished Jeremie church & orphanage with many of the orphans and school children ready to start their school day.

Two of the children in the Jeremie orphanage admiring their new bunk beds and brand new living quarters.

The new Torcelle orphanage - slowly climbing out of the ground, along with the pile of sand we use to make the masonry mortar. In the background you can see some of the hard working ladies from the Torcelle church making our lunch over an open fire !

The Torcelle congregation having their very first Sunday service in the new church. Without moving the stream this church would not have been possible. Our temporary footbridge over the new stream canal is in the foreground of the right hand photo. The new Torcelle orphanage is being built behind the new church.

And just a few of the children who will live in the new Torcelle orphanage. Some of the cutest kids on the planet in their new school uniforms ! The girl on the left if Jesula (pronounced Jezi-la - which means "Jesus is here"). She is one of the care givers for the orphanage children.

One of those beautiful new born babies in our local tent city. This baby lives with her mom, grandmother and great grandmother in the same tent !! The grandmother is Keket who gave her heart to the Lord in the spring of this year.