Blog

Mark&Pastor
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!

Read More
DCPhoto2(W)
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.

Read More
MissionTeam2017
26 Aug
1

Join Us in Pignon!

I will be headed to Haiti the LAST WEEK OF SUMMER – September 17, through the FIRST WEEK OF FALL – September 24th. My fall trip focus is 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!

IMG_1190

Read More
WomansConference
26 Aug
0

Happenings on the Pignon Campus

Madam Francois, Pastor’s wife, just finished her Women’s Conference the week of July 25th through the 29th titled Les Amies (or Friends in Jesus). These women, in support of the vocational sewing center and community church, gathered together in celebration of life and to encourage their calling as women. Together they sang, studied, prayed, made clothing and shared stories and meals. Loving Haiti has supported this event in the past, and a special anonymous donation this year made the event extra-special!

Preparation for Back-to-School in Pignon is in full gear as Pastor Aldinn Romelus (Superintendent) and his staff are anticipating an increase in their school enrollment of 160 new students, requiring 9 new teachers and 3 new moms (as helpers for the pre-school classes). Last year enrollment was ~ 275 students. They are also working on building 6 new rooms above their existing school structure to accommodate this growth. School starts September 3rd – just a few weeks away!

If you would like to contribute to our Education Fund to support staff salaries, student tuition, uniforms, books, and materials, or contribute to our Building Fund to help complete the construction of 6 new schoolrooms, click HERE or go to our DONATE TODAY page to give your back-to-school special gift! Thank you in advance for your gift toward the education of these children.

SchoolChildrenSchoolStaff

Read More
BenzWedding-HeroImage
25 Aug
1

Benz the Builder Takes a Bride

Lucul Benz, Pastor Francois’ nephew and a builder by trade who has worked on several projects funded by Loving Haiti, finally tied
the wedding knot on June 30, 2018 . Apparently, the two most expensive things to do in Haiti are to get married and to get buried. Having
a traditional wedding or funeral in Haiti is cost prohibitive for many. Some are fortunate to find others to share the cost or to find a
sponsor (friend or relative). For many years Benz has lived with his wife and 3 children, but was never officially married. I had a
conversation with him earlier this year encouraging him to consider marrying the love of his life for the right reasons, and that this
could be achieved through a variety of means.

For example, Many Hands for Haiti (MH3), an organization working in the rural areas around Pignon, created a wedding format to
assist people like Benz who want to be married in a traditional way but can’t afford a traditional wedding. MH3 found sponsors who
provide wedding dresses for the brides to borrow at no cost, and financing for the men to buy suits and shoes. Ceremonies are held
at their outdoor event area with an officiating Pastor communicating the vows to several couples at once. Each couple is able to
invite ~5 people to the wedding and reception. Their first multi-couple ceremony was successfully celebrated December 2017, and
will be used as a model for future ceremonies as funding allows. The program wasn’t active at the time of Benz’s wedding, so Loving
Haiti was glad to help cover some of the cost. I believe the MH3 wedding format provides a great opportunity for people like Benz
and organizations like Loving Haiti! Loving Haiti will be working with Pastor Francois and MH3 for future ceremonies.

 

BenzWedding2018

BenzBuilding

Read More
LH_T-Shirt
21 Aug
0

New – LH Ambassador Program!

Much of the success of Loving Haiti can be tied back to those of you who share a heart for the people of Haiti and want to help bring about real sustainable change. People to share ideas, fund projects, participate in trips and become monthly finance partners. For your efforts, we’d like to say “thanks!”. Building on those Loving Haiti partnerships, we are creating an official “Ambassador Program”. This program is a fun and easy way to introduce friends, co-workers, church groups, community organizations, or others that are interested in what Loving Haiti is all about. We’d love to help host an event to share information, stories, and photos of the kids, businesses, schools, and others who are part of Loving Haiti in Pignon. We’ll bring all the supplies, including t-shirts to help spread the word and spark conversations.

We have t-shirts available and getting ready to place a new order soon. So, contact Mark Bell (541-760-1573 or info@lovinghaiti.org) with your t-shirt size (onesies – XXL).

It’s our gift to you to help get this inaugural program off the ground!

Read More
20 Aug
1

New Giving Option

Last month two people asked me within the same week if Loving Haiti could receive donations in the form of market securities (stocks, bonds). The answer is YES! It’s my understanding there are some tax advantages in donating securities to a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, but check first with your tax advisor.

Loving Haiti has a securities account through RAYMOND JAMES. To make a donation in the form of market-securities, give your brokerage or financial firm our Raymond James account number 3787A924, the Account Transfer Department number 727-567-3619 and the E.T.C. number 0725. Our account advisor is Sam Asran @ 970.494.6161. Thank you for considering us with your investment gifts.ts.

Read More
Beauty-Header-SO[2]
08 Apr
0

There is Beauty Everywhere

The last hours of my trip that help me summarize my first week in Haiti.

We left Pignon in a 6-seat Cessna, returning to Port au Prince on a MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) flight instead of by car the way we’d come.  I have a love of soils and landscapes, so was thrilled to see Haiti from the air!

Haiti has a centuries-old history of environmental degradation– deforestation, soil erosion, the sedimentation of rivers – resulting in a landscape that’s been described in terms such as “barren” and “ravaged”.  One might say the land is impoverished.  AND YET, I saw such beauty through that poverty – the arc of a sinuous river, the rugged shape of a mountain range, the pattern of soil and rock …It is t

And I realized, the Haitian landscape is a metaphor for the Haitian people – impoverished, AND YET, there is such beauty in the midst of poverty!

There is beauty in a child caring for another, making sure no one is forgotten and everyone receives their share when tootsie rolls are dispensed.

There is beauty in the service of 3 teenage boys to their 64 other “brothers and sisters”, setting up the outdoor “theater” for movie night, walking back and forth through the little audience to pass out special treats.

There is beauty in the deepening relationship between Haitians and Americans in the body of Christ in Pignon.

There is beauty in the declaration of gratitude by a young businessman who’s received help from Loving Haiti; his first words after hello, “I give thanks to God, and I give thanks to God for using Loving Haiti.”

There is beauty in the commitment of a husband who has lost his wife in childbirth, walking miles to the feeding clinic for formula for his infant daughter.

There is beauty in the joyful chorus of 30 children singing Christmas songs in Creole.

There is beauty in a child taking my hand to walk me down the hill.

There is beauty in holding a sleeping child peacefully in my arms.

There is beauty in the embrace of a woman I’m meeting for the first time, whose language I don’t speak and whose skin is not like mine, but we embrace because we are one in Christ.  We serve the same God and worship the same Savior and we are brethren.

There is beauty in the trust and great affection the children have for Manman Jill and Papa Mark.

There is beauty in the heart of a man, Pastor Francois, who has dedicated his life to serving his people.

There is beauty everywhere in Pignon, and I am grateful to God for granting me the opportunity to see it!  Loving Haiti nurtures this beauty. I am privileged to be a part of it!

IMG_2327  IMG_2311IMG_2292

Click Here to View Print Article

 

Caroline Yonker was a research associate at Colorado State University for 30 years.  Since her retirement in 2008, she has been privileged to participate in short-term missions in South and Central America. She has served on the Loving Haiti board since 2017.

Read More
IMG_7686
17 Aug
0

2017 Summer Review by Mark Bell

Howdy, Friends and Family of Loving Haiti,

As President of Loving Haiti, I just wanted to pause as we take in summer’s last breath and personally say, THANK YOU! I know it’s just two words out of millions on record, but these two words expressed out of a heart of gratitude and in the context of our Loving Haiti family and friends, really can’t be said loud enough or often enough.

IMG_6041

It’s because of your love and support over these seasons of life that we can together both pay and pray our blessings forward, making a difference in the lives of so many in the community of Pignon, Haiti.

Last month I traveled to Pignon as part of a Loving Haiti team of 15 members led by Denny Bain, one of our founders who now serves as our VP/COO. Denny organized and planned out the entire 10 day trip agenda and logistics.  It was the first time in our young history that we travelled with such a large and very diverse group of people. The team ranged in age from 8 to 60 plus and from students (primary, secondary and college) to teachers (active and retired) to business professionals (profit and non-profit).  By the way, Denny did an excellent job as Trip Coordinator and Team Lead. Thank you Denny! (If you are interested in traveling with us in the future, please contact us at info@lovinghaiti.org or call @ 541.760.0835, or write us @ 1607 Somerville Dr. Fort Collins, CO 80526)

IMG_6961

For the majority of the team, it was their first time to Haiti. And for some, it was the first time in any impoverished country, surrounded by the beauty and ashes of both hope and despair. As Pastor Francois welcomed the team he reminded us, “You are now in Haiti. You are now in school where much learning will happen”.  In Haiti, in my humble experience, it’s not a matter of what lessons are being taught, it’s whether they are being learned (on both sides).

IMG_7015
IMG_1260

So we began our trip with a beginner’s mindset, posturing ourselves for Listening, Looking and Learning before Leveraging our specific gifts and talents into a position where they could now be Leading, working relationally alongside the Haitians, striving to empower them to a sustainable, independent lifestyle.

IMG_7517

The team did an exceptional job in Loving on Haiti and its people as we learned more about and experienced our 4 – Transformative Platforms: Children’s Home and Widows Care; Education and Leadership; Business and Vocational Center; and our primary partnership with Pastor and Madame Francois of PBC, Pignon.

IMG_6640

IMG_1045

Although there were no physical building projects that we took on this trip, our goals were simply to invest in and build relationships with the Haitian people and among our team; to learn and see the ways in which Loving Haiti has mutually prospered from our existing partnerships in Pignon and look for ways of strengthening them; to both give and receive love unconditionally, without judgment, shame, humiliation or fear; to have fun and look for ways of expressing joy while living in the tension of beauty (hope) and ashes (despair).

IMG_7124
IMG_7131

The kids from the Children’s Home are always the highlight of every trip. The team loved on them, and loved on them, and loved on them and again loved on them from every height, width, depth, and breadth – dimension of their being. As much as they gave of themselves, they received much more in return from these kids. I think team member Destini said it best: “Haiti is a place where we gave and received genuine love and friendship.”

IMG_7709
IMG_1210

Although these kids enjoy playtime and entertainment (like any other kid on the planet), they appeared to be even more content just being still in our presence, being valued and appreciated by the words off our tongue and the touch of our hands. They also enjoyed playing games and are super competitive (serious) and yet fun loving (silly) … so we played their games while teaching them some games and activities of our own (Chess, 4-square, Sorry, Chutes and Ladders, Uno, Nails and Feet Care, etc.,).

IMG_7570                  IMG_7026           IMG_7027

 

IMG_7041

We traveled together (either walking or packed like sardines in vans/trucks) to the marketplaces, city landmarks, the beach, restaurants, the river, the mountains and church. We even converted a carport into an outside sit-in movie theater and watched movies through a digital projector powered by a diesel generator.

IMG_7156

IMG_1190

Our agenda allowed us to also visit and experience other partnerships in public charity, like Many Hands for Haiti (transforming communities by strengthening families – Education, Agronomy, Safe Homes, Medical Assistance and Leadership and Economic Development) and Haiti Home of Hope (providing healthy doses of Hope through their Milk/Feeding Clinic and Orphanage).

IMG_7098IMG_7706

 

Through it all we traveled together, laughed together, cried together, ate together, experienced sleep deprivation together, dripped sweat together, worked together, played together, prayed together and Loved on Haiti together.

IMG_7417 IMG_6154

In closing, I’d like to again quote one of our team members, Juliet, who said, “A lot of people have asked what we built down in Haiti. At first I would respond, awkwardly, with ‘Oh, we didn’t build anything, we just spent time with the kids.’ The more I think about it, the more I realize that is not true. We built something stronger than any building. We built long-lasting relationships that we will continue to invest in.”

IMG_7500IMG_4773

So please, safely enjoy the last blast of Summer as Fall is just a few horizons away. We’ll be kicking off our Fall Fundraising Drive in October as we move closer to our 2018 fiscal/calendar year. However, there are still opportunities to give before then – keep in touch with our latest blog on Loving Haiti, Facebook or our Website – lovinghait.org. Please click here to learn more about our special “Back to School” fundraiser!

Again, thank you, thank you and thank you, for all that you are and for all that you do for Loving Haiti.

IMG_7641 IMG_7683

 

 

Your most appreciative LH President – Mark Bell.

IMG_7729

Email: mark@lovinhaiti.org
Cell Phone: 541.760.1573

 

 

Read More
20170712_085155[1]
14 Aug
1

Help Make Back to School Extra Special

The Situation:

The school year for most of the children in Haiti will start September 4th (our Labor Day Holiday). We recently received some communication from Pastor Francois with whom we partner in Pignon, Haiti, asking if we could help with the cost of school clothing (uniforms & shoes) and the cost of school enrollment (books, documents, school supplies, tuition).

12DF399B-4837-4474-8525-91FF0813DBE5

The number of children Loving Haiti supports in the home has increased to 62, of which at least 51 are school aged (ranging from pre-school to college) and will be attending various schools in Pignon and Cap Haitien. Not all the children are currently attending school due to age, physical or mental capabilities. Other children are receiving vocational training through Madame Francois sewing center or receiving mechanic training like Phillip.

 

The Cost:

Uniforms – $2097 (classroom and outdoor activities)

Shoes – $1,525 (classroom and outdoor activities)

Enrollment – $10,510 ($206.07 average cost per enrollment)

Total = $14,132

 FA86FE47-8988-430A-AFDC-A96F204B17D4

The Opportunity:

Would you please consider this opportunity to help make “Back-to-School” a special day in the students’ lives from the Children’s Home?

Our Goal: $15,000 by August 31st.

IMG_0408

My wife Jill and I will jump start this fundraiser by donating the first $1,000. If you are willing and able, please join us in making education a gift, so that all can “Learn to Love and Love to Learn”. Mesi`, mesi`.

To donate please click here:


 

Visit Easy Fundraising Ideas

 

 

 

Thank you for Loving Haiti,

LH President – Mark

 

Read More