Blog

07 Feb
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Happy Valentine’s Day!

We think today is the perfect occasion to send you a brief Loving Haiti update, in the form of sharing some of the many things we ❤️!

We ❤️ our generous donors! Thanks to you, we were able to raise more than $120,000 during our fall fund drive. We’ve already met our funding goals for the children’s home and widow’s program, and are well on our way to meeting our goals for education, the milk and feeding clinic, microloan program, land/building project and general fund. We love and appreciate your generosity!

We ❤️ our trips to Pignon, Haiti! Loving Haiti will be in Pignon Tuesday the 17th through Tuesday the 25th of March. We look forward to being with our friends and partners, building relationship, checking on projects, playing with the kids, visiting with the other ministries in town and more! The team will consist of Mark and Jill Bell, Rich and Caroline Yonker and Lauren Thompson. Speaking of Lauren,

We ❤️ our volunteers! Lauren is currently a senior at Colorado State University who found us and reached out to volunteer. Lauren is fluent in French and has a heart for the world’s poor, and we already know her engaging personality and skills as a translator will strengthen our team. She spent a summer serving the people of Senegal and is eager to serve the Haitian people as well! Lauren is currently raising money to cover her trip expenses ($1,500). Please contact us if you feel led to help her financially!

Just as the ❤️ is the center of our logo, so love is the center of all we do. Thank you for partnering with us in the work of Loving Haiti! We love because He first loved us!

Love is about freeing up the flow from the 💝💝 (what matters most) to the 🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽 (where it’s needed most). Together, we’re making a real difference!

Caroline Yonker
Vice-President/COO
caroline@lovinghaiti.org

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06 Nov
0

Traveling Companion – Tony, Toni, Tone’

HaitiRiotsWell, I finally got on a trip to Haiti (August 21-28) after numerous failed attempts this year! There were enough canceled flights, missed connections, civil unrests, protests, and violence to produce the writing material for a limbic mini-drama series entitled, Flight, Fight or Freeze. And WOW!!! through all the drama, it was good to get back to the Central Plateau of Haiti, to the community of Pignon.

Because of Haiti’s current volatile state (www.apnews.com/Haiti) and what my board of directors had observed from my previous trip report (levels of frustration and situations warranting depressed states of mind), they did not want me to travel alone which is my default “M.O.” on the majority of trips that I had taken.

So I brought along a travel companion – my good friend Tony Viducich – on this compressed eight-day trip. My primary objective was to re-establish relationships and to be an encouragemenCentralHaitit to our Haitian friends as we un-pack our lives with good fruit like Love, Joy, Peace, Patience. Tony had been to Haiti before, but not on behalf of Loving Haiti nor in the township of Pignon. And although I had only known him a few years, we share much in common: He’s a great neighbor, brother in the faith, fellow Oregonian, high-tech colleague, sports a pastor’s heart, a systems thinker/doer, witty and humorous, and a lover of Haiti – to name a few! Tony’s also 6’6” and white, while I’m 5’9” and black, but we both stand out in Haiti for the same reason. That being, we share a sense of Joy in our calling to serve. Please continue to read Tony’s trip reflections!

 

 

 

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06 Nov
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My experience in Haiti with Loving Haiti

TonyKidsMotorcycle“Life in Haiti is difficult.”  I probably heard this statement ten times while I was there, from the young men who we met with, struggling to provide for their families, or pastor Francois.  And it is true.  The increasing cost of living due to inflation and a weak Haitian currency, the lack of reliable infrastructure, or the corruption in the government which translates to the lack of justice and benefit for the average citizen.

I was reminded that we are very much a privileged people in the US, when you see the situation which the people are living in.   It’s hard to fathom life without many of the luxuries and conveniences we have, yet this is the reality for the people in Pignon.  This was a very humbling experience, and increased my desire to be generous with sharing our material possessions with those in need.

Against that backdrop though, I witnessed love and hope that left me feeling more optimistic about the future for Haitian people.  This love showed up in how orphans were cared for and nurtured as valuable, individual lives.   It showed up in care for widows in the community of Pignon, and in a choir program, and a church service.

Hope budded with the promise of a better tomorrow, as I saw microloans being restructured, and business principles and theology taught to young entrepreneurs.  Gratitude and love from young families who see a way to go forward, and who are thriving, in spite of the difficulties.

I sensed deep gratitude and love from pastor and madam, as Loving Haiti come alongside them, empowering and encouraging the ministry of church, orphanage, and school.

So, while it is true that life is hard in Haiti, I also see the Kingdom of God breaking in to bring love, community, and development, which I know will bear fruit in the decades to come.  I am very grateful to have had the experience of traveling to Pignon, to see this first hand.  I am changed as a result of my time there.

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06 Nov
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A Prayer for our Haitian Brothers and Sisters

For Loving Haiti’s recent board meeting, I (Mark Bell) had asked Caroline Yonker (Vice-President) to lead us in a devotion. Inspired by Psalm 67, she chose to write a “Prayer for our Haitian Brothers and Sisters” and read it to us. It was one of the most beautiful prayers I had heard and very relevant to Haiti’s current condition of unrest! So I asked her if I could share it with our Loving Haiti friends and she said “Yes”, so I am.

Psalm 67

God be merciful to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us, Selah
That Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.

Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy!
For You shall judge the people righteously,
And govern the nations on earth. Selah

Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
Then the earth shall yield her increase;
God, our own God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us,
And all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.

 

Our Lord and oKidsAtHouseur God we come to You with our hearts and minds set on our Haitian brothers and sisters, and we ask on their behalf that You would –

Be merciful to them, oh God.  You are the source of all that is good.  Pour out Your unmerited kindness on them, and actively intervene to meet their every need.  They are in need, oh God, of many things they are powerless to do for themselves, needs that only You can meet. Intervene in the hearts of those who govern, in the hearts of those You have intended to give aid, in the hearts of all Haitians in any position of authority, President Moise especially, that they would be Your vessels of mercy.  Be merciful, Father.  Thank You that You are the source of all mercies.

Bless them, oh God.  Blessed are You, Lord God. You give such good gifts to Your children.  Bring down Your divine abundance. Bring the rains in season, Lord, enrich the earth and may the land yield its increase by Your Hand.  Bless the crops that grow, supply the Haitian people with the sustenance they need. Continue to use Loving Haiti to deliver material blessing.  We thank You for Many Hands for Haiti, Haiti Home of Hope, Project Hope and every other organization acting as Your hands and feet in Pignon, and may You increase their ability to deliver material blessing. But moreover, Father, shower them with an abundant outpouring of Your Spirit.  Bless them spiritually, oh God.  Draw Pastor and Madame, Aldinn, Madame Nicole, Janet, Son, Jerry, Ketty, Benz, Joseph, Pido, Darling …. the many names and faces before us … the children, the congregants, the teachers, the townspeople … all those who have put their trust in you … draw them ever closer to yourself.  Grant them Your gift of faith to trust You, and fill them with Your shalom in the midst of anxiety, fear and unknowing.  Bless them with Your wisdom, Your knowledge and understanding to inform every decision, and may they fully realize the blessing of the exceedingly great power available to those who believe.

IMG_2292Thank you that You do shine your face on them, oh God, that You have exceedingly great love for every child, woman and man.  May they turn and meet Your gaze, Father, and know that You are their Adonai Roi, the Lord who sees them, that You are their Immanuel, the God who is with them.  May they experience Your Presence and know that they know that they know that You will never leave or forsake them.

May they, in turn, shine like a light on a hill.  May Philadelphia Baptist Church shine like a beacon in Pignon, that You would be known and renowned throughout the town and surrounding region.  Be known, oh God, throughout the country, that the word of Your salvation, the message of the gospel, be heard throughout the nation.  May the citizens of Haiti come to know You as Lord.  May they be transformed into Your likeness, be acquainted with Your ways and seek Your will.  Transform the government, Oh God. Do such a transformative work in Haiti that all would say, “Only God could have done this”.  Cause the nation to be glad and sing for joy for the righteous judgment and governance only You can bring about.

marketMay our friends and brethren praise You, Father.  May they confess You, give thanks and glorify You for who You are and for the goodness of Your presence in their lives.   Each of us here can ‘see’ our brothers and sisters and ‘hear’ them singing.  Let Your praises pour out through the doors of Philadelphia Baptist Church and into the streets of Pignon.  You alone are worthy of our praise.  You are worthy of praise from every Haitian; may all the peoples praise You.

Our sight is limited, God, but we walk led by our faith in You and not by what we see. We stand in faith with our brothers and sisters in Pignon, trusting in all the unseen things You are doing, knowing that Your desires for the nation are good. We ask that by Your mercy, through Your blessing and because of Your Presence, all the ends of the earth would come to glorify You and look upon You with awe and reverence because only You are able to accomplish what we ask.

Glory to You, Lord.  Thanks be to You.  Amen.

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06 Nov
0

Un-Packing Joy

I believe Joy is an attribute of God, a celebration of love, and with its fruit comes the strength to overcome or suffer through any situation by ushering in His presence, allowing one to fully experience hope and a future. I also believe Joy is experienced when we allow God’s words and promises to take on flesh in our situations, whether they are Favorable or Unfavorable. Let me explain.

We must first become aware of some of the Un-situations that are all around us and are now full-strength in Haiti. You can see them at the street corners, in every city throughout the country! You see them wherever there’s an Unemployed Talent (knowledge, skills, abilities), an Undernourished Being (body, mind, spirit), an Unresolved Conflict (anger, blame, outrage), an Unsupported Life (health, education, welfare), and an Unbalance of Power (political, social, personal). Un-Situations can move order into chaos, plenty into lack, and hope into despair. In essence, their goal is to kill, steal and destroy life among the living.

For example, during this last trip to Haiti, Denny and Abby Bain’s (Founders of Loving Haiti) adopted Haitian daughters Rodeline & Misheleda gave me letters to give to a family member who still resides in Pignon. These letters included their school pictures and some money they had earned through babysitting and selling lemonade and cookies.

I asked Pastor Francois if he would call this family member to his campus, read their letters and present them with the rest of the goods. Well, all I can say is there wasn’t a dry eye on the grounds when Pastor translated their letters, showed their pictures, and gave their money.

Pastor Francois and this family member were so overtaken with Joy that Pastor himself said, “Brother Mark, you know living in Haiti can be very, very hard.” He then proceeded to tell me the story when Rodeline and Misheleda were brought to his Children’s Home at the ages of 2 and 4.  They were so severely malnourished the doctor advised him not to take the girls in, for one could surely die within a couple of days.

Pastor agreed at that time not to take them in, but as this family member left his campus he later tracked them down and said, “I have to go to Cap Haitien today, but bring the girls backBellFamily2019 tomorrow and when I return I will take them.” Pastor said to me, “Now look at them …. I see the fruits of my ministry and I praise God for what these girls are becoming and just now have done. You know sometimes in Haiti we cry not because we’re sad, but because we’re over-joyed by God’s presence” … which is His gift of love.

Through their letters, pictures and currency, we all experienced love’s gift of joy wrapped and packaged in hope and a future. I first met Rodeline and Misheleda back in 2012 when they were just 6 and 4. Now they are 14 and 12 and we (my wife Jill and I) get to bear witness to these miracles of life and experience the fullness of joy as grandparents to now 10 grandchildren.

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06 Nov
0

Vision 20/20 Fall Fundraiser Starting November

GivingThumbnailBe on the United States Postal Service “look-out” for Loving Haiti 20/20 Vision Fundraiser mailers in November.  Our goal is to raise $393,200 in donations to match the financial needs for 2020. Would you consider continuing or starting to partner with Loving Haiti by committing to a recurring or one-time Tax-Deductible donation?

Thank you for your support!

 

DONATE NOW

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27 Feb
0

Haiti Unrest Update

Because of your love for, and interest in, the people of Haiti, we want to provide you with a brief summary of current events, links to current news items, and an update from our friends in Pignon.

On February 7th violent protests broke out in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, and they have continued daily since then. The protests, centered in Port-au-Prince but also taking place throughout the country, were precipitated by soaring inflation, the inability of the government to account for billions of dollars in foreign aid, and lack of investment in Haitian infrastructure and social programs. The US State Department issued a no-travel warning for Americans 14 February. For detailed information, we include links to several news sources, below:

Miami Herald: For Haitians, a reprieve from violence and protests on Sunday, but uncertainty remains

Many Hands for Haiti posted this Pignon update

PBS NEWSHOUR: Violent protests in Haiti may mean a humanitarian crisis

Anderson Cooper Full Circle: Protests Turn Deadly in Haiti

We are in regular contact with Pastor Francois, who assures us that there is no unrest in Pignon at this time, although the community has been affected by the intermittent bank and school closures, fuel & power shortages, internet/cell services disruptions, and higher prices for food, goods & services.

Pastor’s campus, however, has kept its schools open, has its own water (well) and electrical supply (solar panels), and has access to food although the price has substantially increased over the last couple months. The increased strength of the US dollar coupled to the devalued Haitian Gourde has influenced the exchange rate: 1 USD = 82 Haitian Gourde and it’s still rising.

Thank you for praying for the Haitian people in this current crisis.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with your questions!

Mark Bell, President – mark@lovinghaiti.org

Caroline Yonker, Vice-President – caroline@lovinghaiti.org

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28 Aug
0

A Mid-Summer Update from the President

We officially passed the summer mid-point on August 6th. Although it may not feel like it, summer officially started June 21 st and ends September 21 st. My guess is that some of you are still working on getting in that long-awaited vacation, while others may be recovering from a Chevy Chase “Wally World” one. Still, others may have opted this summer for a quieter at-home “staycation”. Wherever you are at this summer’s mid-point, and whether you find yourself half-full or half-empty, my hope is that you stay hydrated, stay protected, stay playful and stay in LOVE with HAITI.

If you’re like my wife Jill, who works for Poudre School District in Fort Collins, Colorado, you may already be back to work after summer vacation. It’s hard to be thinking “back to school” when it’s only mid-summer, yet the hard reality for many is school will soon be back in session. I know for some parents this is indeed exciting news … the summer has been both good and exhausting, and you welcome with great joy the advent of the new school year! So please allow me some of your precious time to update you on what’s happening with LOVING HAITI before we Fall out of Summer.

First, thank you for partnering with us by generously giving of your time, talents and treasures, allowing Loving Haiti to: partner with others as we work to strengthen individuals and communities; love and serve orphans, widows and the severely malnourished; educate and vocationally train children and young adults; and equip and empower businesses and community leaders. I will never get tired of saying this … we are what we are, and we do what we do because of your GENEROSITY!

My Mid-Summer update consists of a variety of Stories from Pignon and Washington DC, to our new Ambassador program to help spread the word about Loving Haiti. Click on the headlines below to read each of these stories.

Loving Haiti Goes to DC

Benz the Builder Takes a Bride

Happenings on the Pignon Campus

New – LH Ambassador Program!

New Giving Option

Join Us in Pignon!

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27 Aug
0

Loving Haiti Goes to DC

Carol_&_George_MadisonThis summer started on a high note with an invitation for Loving Haiti to visit the District of Columbia (DC)/Virginia area, hosted by one of our board members Carol Madison and her husband George (Photo).

The purpose of the trip was to make connections with specific individuals and organizations, develop relationships and explore potential partnerships with Loving Haiti, and communicate with those who have expressed an interest in traveling with the Loving Haiti team on one of our trips.  We met with:

Tom and Elizabeth Adams. Tom, who recently retired from the State Department, was the Special Coordinator to Haiti under the Obama administration. His primary role was to administer assistance in the form of relief, rehabilitation and development programs to Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake that killed approximately 225,000 people and left countless homeless. He and his wife shared the trials and triumphs (wisdom) of their 45-years on the international assistance front, working with various countries. This was one of my trip highlights, and I will share more at a later time.

Mike and Jenny Slattery. A young married couple with 5 children, Mike and Jenny have been involved with child sponsorship programs in Haiti for many years, and are considering opportunities to travel to Haiti with the Loving Haiti team.

Jamie and Andy Haith. On the pastoral team at Holy Trinity Church (HTC), Pastor Jamie headed to Haiti the week of July 16th with their team from HTC. HTC has been active in child sponsorships through Compassion International. They are open to opportunities to partner with and experience Haiti with the Loving Haiti team.

Christine Buchholz. Christine is Vice President and justice advocate of Restavek Freedom (org), an organization designed to bring awareness, education, and development to end child slavery in Haiti. Christine gave us a primer course regarding Restavek Freedom, their work in Haiti, and tangible ways we can partner with them in their mission. This is important because children at the home Loving Haiti supports may come to us from a restavek situation. We want to continue to provide a safe haven for children who may have been part of child slavery in Haiti.

Paul Boesen & Anna Green. Paul is an administrator and Anna a teacher of English Now School. Anna shared her experiences teaching English as a second language while in the Peace Corps in Mauritania. She shared practical tools, resources, and ideas that could prove helpful in teaching English as a second language in the context of the Haitian culture.

Aaron and Abbi Osborn. Aaron is on the pastoral team at Reston Bible Church. Loving Haiti began partnering with Reston Bible Church in 2012 (my first trip to Haiti), but it wasn’t until 2016 that I met Aaron and Abbi and their 3 kids. They are a beautiful young family, an extension of God’s love to the people in Pignon, Haiti. Together, we have worked to improve the quality of life for the children and the basic infrastructure of Pastor Francois’ 3-acre campus. Loving Haiti and Reston Bible Church plan and coordinate our efforts in response to specific needs in Pignon, and share our best cultural practices, challenges and what we learn (not wanting to repeat our mistakes or duplicate our efforts).

The trip was a great start to the summer! We learned a lot, made new friends and potential partnerships, and were able to better appreciate the unique aspects of how we operate and serve relationally alongside the people of Haiti.

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26 Aug
1

Join Us in Pignon!

Right now, we are tentatively planning a 2019 summer trip either on June 2-10 or June 9-17 to:
– Relationally strengthen our partnerships in the Pignon area
– Ensure financial accountability
– Evaluate donation effectiveness
– Conduct needs assessment, identify growth opportunities, and challenges

If you or anyone you know is interested in traveling to Haiti with our Loving Haiti team, we normally take our team trips in spring (around spring break windows), summer (mid-July), and winter (late-December into early January). These trips are scheduled for 7 to 10 days. The price varies depending on the season of travel and number of people on the team; the cost is generally $2,200-$2,500 per person.

Please leave your contact information at info@lovinghaiti.org or call me personally (Mark Bell, 541.760.1573) if you would like to join us!

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