Wednesday, June 26, 2019

A Disappointing Change of Plans

Unfortunately, due to civil unrest and dangerous conditions in Haiti, we have had to make the difficult decision to cancel our first session of English and Computer Skills training in Haiti.  Please see full details at https://www.ucg.org/members/news/a-project-on-hold, posted by Lena Van Ausdle.

Additional information in the excerpt below for an update sent by Chuck Smith to UCG President Victor Kubik this morning, June 26, 2019:

"Some have called it civil disobedience, while others call it a civil war. No matter what you call it - it is sad and disturbing to most everyone, especially our brethren. In a country where it is difficult just finding work or food to survive, imagine trying to live a Godly life where violence is a way of life. A life  where every store, hotel and market has guards with shotguns patrolling the grounds and checking your every move. A place where everything not behind block walls is fair game. And yet,God has raised up a rapidly growing church. 

Our brethren, for the past few weeks, have been protected but we have many who could not get safe passage to church each week. Road blocks and thugs looking to rob have made life even more complicated. Thankfully out church hall is truly a "sanctuary" for most of our brethren.Our hall is behind 10' tall block walls with razor wire on the top. We have secure steel doors to keep everyone safe once they enter the compound. 

We had hoped to have our long planned and uplifting Learning Center up and functioning this week, but due to the violence we have had to cancel the classes that were planned for the next 6 weeks to teach English and Computer Skills to 14 students, which when completed would have made them in the top 5 % of the country job skill wise. But all is not lost as we will just hope pray for a more peaceful time in the months ahead. Youth Corps and Good Works have made this dream possible and we will find a time with God's blessing when we can finish this dream. Our brethren are all safe and we have been able to provide extra food for those times when traveling on the roads are prohibited and food is scarce. Deacon Joseph Jean is seeing to the physical and spiritual needs of our 100 plus brethren in Mirebalais. 

Tuesday June 25 the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution establishing a political mission starting Oct. 16 that will officially replace the U.N.peacekeeping activities in Haiti. U.N. military peacekeepers left the country on Oct.15, 2017 after 13 years, leaving only advisors to help reform the goernment. Will this bring some much needed stability to Haiti? We can only hope and pray, since that is right in the middle of God's FOT. I am praying we can have this year's Feast so the brethren can begin to have a greater picture of the peace and prosperity promised in the coming KOG. Thanks so much for everyone's prayers and support for God's people in this troubled country. I have not been able to travel to Haiti in the last month, but I am hoping for a small window of time so I can complete the FOT plans. God has shown His protection on every trip so far, and there is much to do since the "fields are indeed ripe."

The Church has continued to grow in Haiti.  With the completion of the meeting hall, and the extra space it provides, we now have around 100 in attendance when there is peace and everyone can travel.  Please continue to pray for the safety and well-being of our brethren in Haiti, and for peace in the country as a whole.  Our hope is to proceed with the English and Computer Skills teaching project in the near future, and to hold the Feast of Tabernacles 2019 as planned.  


Monday, April 15, 2019

Almost There!


Mary and I just returned from exhausting but successful trip to Haiti. We were there from Wednesday, April 3, to Sunday, April 7.  On this trip, we had five checked bags containing the new sound system.  We prayed all five suitcases would arrive with nothing missing.  God answered our prayer--not a single item was missing, which is a miracle in Haiti.

On this 5 day 4 night visit we were able to see the church building project up close and personal. The project is about 85-90% complete. What we accomplished this week:
Delivered the sound system, installed and tested it.
Successfully wired the new electrical line into the new breaker box
Installed several 110 outlets on the interior walls
Installed 9 ceiling fans
Sanded and painted the interior walls.
Had wifi installed in the hall

The Church held their first Sabbath service in the building last Sabbath, April 13. Some additional brackets and building ties were to be installed last week as we prepare for hurricane season in the Caribbean. The steel doors have been installed and we are having the handrails for the stairway finished this week.

The much needed assembly hall comes at a time of pressing need. Our Bible Study on Friday, April 6 was overflowing our 58 seat capacity as we had over 70 in attendance. The next morning for services there were 85 plus in attendance. We had a wonderful interactive service as the Haitian brethren took part in proving the history of Passover thru the many scriptures in both the New and Old Testaments. There is a zeal and passion for God's Ways in this financially crippled country. We had 5 baptisms this trip with most having no COG background. 

On Sabbath afternoon, deacon Joseph Jean took Mary and me to a couple of the huts behind his home.  Two different ladies in our congregation inhabit these huts, and both of them are in dire need of repair.  When it rains, the rain pours inside.  One of the ladies owns a small plot of land where we hope to build her a 12x12 block house with a roof to keep out the rain.  This same lady just buried her 3 year old grandchild at the back of this plot of land.  The child was born handicapped and had just passed away.  The funeral was held on Sabbath morning.  We hope we can help both these ladies so they and their families can stay dry when it rains.

The highlight of the trip on Sabbath morning--five people were added to the body of Christ in a baptism ceremony at the Wozo Hotel.

 It was a tiring but worthwhile trip.  Our goal is to have everything 100% completed on our next trip. We thank everyone for your prayers and your support of this great work being done in Haiti. The Mirebalais congregation will keep the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread for the first time. They are excited and eager to learn more by keeping God's Holy Days and learning God's plan of salvation for not only them, but for the entire world. Please keep them in your prayers as they travel down "The Road To Eternal Life!

BUILDING EXTERIOR








BUILDING INTERIOR


Finishing the trusses
Tired puppy
Painting
 
Looking toward the front, where the podium will be
Milot doing a little painting



One of the four speakers installed around the room

Electrical completed!



Standing in front, looking toward the back of the building



Steel entrance door
Walando, an excellent carpenter

Back entrance


Outlets along one of the walls


L to R:  Joseph Jean, deacom from COG 7th Day, Chuck, Pastor Michelet from COG 7th Day, Milot (Joseph Jean's assistant)


Testing the sound system
Part of the sound system


BRETHREN


Newly baptized members
One of the newly baptized members, washing dishes outside the Jean home
Friday Night Bible Study








The twins, riding to Church
Lively singing during services










Elderly lady on her plot of land.  Her grandchild's grave is right behind her.



The home we hope to repair

Friday, January 25, 2019

"I Love It When a Plan Comes Together"

In the infamous words of Hannibal Smith in the TV show The A Team,  "I love it when a plan comes together!" The plan for our new church building in Haiti is coming together nicely. I made a working trip to the island on Sunday Jan. 13 and stayed thru Wed. the 16th. In four days we were able to complete about 1/3 of the rafters for the roof the new meeting hall. The new structure will give the United Church of God not only a place to worship each Sabbath, but also a learning center and a safe haven during the annual hurricane season. The 1700 square ft. building (which is built to international building codes - unseen in most of Haiti) is planned for completion around the 1st of April. Most of the brethren do not have electricity. The new building will have a dedicated transformer with reliable power and internet access for use of the brethren and community.  The metal roof has been ordered and our plan is to have it installed by February 10. This will officially “dry us in!”

On another positive note, on Tuesday morning, Jeanly Libersonn was baptized.  Jeanly lives a four hour bus ride from Mirebalais.  He made the trip to Mirebalais and stayed with Joseph Jean for about a week before the baptism.  He had been studying and communicating with Joseph form some time.  His family come from a different faith, and were not pleased with his new beliefs.  When he was getting ready for the trip to Mirebalais, his family hid his shoes and his clothes.  He had to borrow clothing and shoes for the trip.

A Bible Study was scheduled for the Tuesday night I was there. A heavy deluge of rain ensued, and deacon Joseph Jean thought it best to cancel. It had been extremely hot and humid since I had arrived. I was exhausted from the day’s hard physical labor, and had lain down for a rest. About 15 minutes later, Mr. Jean knocked on my door. He informed me that around 40 people had walked through the heavy downpour to attend the Bible Study, and we needed to go ahead with plans to conduct it. I got dressed and was immediately enthused and energised when I arrived and saw everyone joyfully singing hymns while waiting for the Bible Study to begin. We had a wonderful Bible Study.

We thank our God and Father for the incredible blessing of this building and remember the words from Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” Now we must begin to prepare for the spring Holy Days in our new building--the very first United Church of God Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread in Haiti. 



Building as seen from street-level

Side wall prepped for rafters

Rafters are going up!

Baptism of Jeanly Libersonn.  L to R, Mr. Michelet, Milot, Jeanly, Joseph Jean