Wednesday evening update

Wednesday evening update

We have now received reports that everyone at Wings and St. Joseph’s is safe and – as far as we can tell right how – the buildings have suffered only minor damage, all things considered. Praise God! Thanks to each of you and your generous gifts, we were fortunate enough to be able to construct buildings that can withstand hurricane force winds, and those investments have paid off. Unfortunately, most Haitians do not have those luxuries. Renee recently wrote:

The LST families are the poorest of the poor and we expect they will have damage. It was scary and hard to live through the hurricane in a sturdy cement building; I can’t even imagine what they went through in their simple homes – some with dirt floor and tarp walls. They are exceptionally vulnerable. They will need help. 

With your support, we will provide them with the help they need.

The LST staff are surveying the families to identify the damage to food and crops. Losses of crops mean loss of income and more food shortages.

And, not surprisingly, the elections have been postponed. Add political insecurity to all the other insecurities that our brothers and sisters in Haiti are experiencing right now. The storm may have passed, but there is still a very long road ahead.

So many of you have already made wonderfully generous donations. We can not thank you enough. But we can promise to be good stewards of your gifts.

If you, or anyone you know, would like to help the families who have been affected by Hurricane Matthew, you can do so easily by clicking the button below or by sending a check to the office (27 Horne St, Raleigh, NC 27607).

Hurricane Matthew Relief Fund

Thank you for your prayers and expressions of grief, love, support, and concern. We will continue to send and share updates as we receive them.

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Tuesday evening update

Tuesday evening update

Renee was able to send out a very short message around 1:50pm today. We have not heard from her or any of our other loved ones in Haiti since, most likely due to lack of power and internet.

I am not sure if this will post. It is 1:50 PM. The Internet has been down since a little after 9 AM, I think. Cell phone service only working in about 20 second bursts very infrequently. Wind and rain is still bad in Jacmel. The wind was really wicked for a few hours mid morning to about 1PM. We are still holding out own at Wings, but wish this was over. It seems like it will be a long day followed by another long night.

The New York Times reports that one of the bridges collapsed, cutting off transportation. Reports also indicate that Les Cayes, Guichard’s home town, was hit particularly hard.

Plantains were unable to be harvested in time before the storm, which will undoubtedly contribute to a food shortage. Additionally, the storm destroyed avocado and banana trees, another major source of food and nutrition.

AID workers are expressing concern about lack of safe drinking water, which could lead to another cholera outbreak. Children are especially vulnerable. A UN official has said that this hurricane has caused the biggest humanitarian crisis since the 2010 earthquake.

Undoubtedly this will affect members of the SJF, both directly and indirectly. Though we have not heard of any damage reports yet, it is very likely that there will be – if not to the SJF buildings directly, then most certainly to the homes of employees and almost certainly the homes of LST students.

If you would like to donate toward offsetting these relief costs, you can do so easily by clicking the button below or by sending a check to the office (27 Horne St, Raleigh, NC 27607).

Hurricane Matthew Relief Fund

Mesi anpil to those of you who have already generously blessed us with your gifts!

Thank you for your prayers and expressions of grief, love, support, and concern. We will continue to send and share updates as we receive them.

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Coveting your prayers…

Coveting your prayers…

Friends, your prayers are strongly coveted as Hurricane Matthew heads toward our loved ones in Haiti. Our last update from Renee was at 5:30pm:

I think we are in the calm before the storm. After about 16+ hours of rain starting last night, and wind throughout the day, it has been eerily calm the past couple of hours. No rain and very little wind. Lots of dark skies though. The storm is moving very slowly, which isn’t good. The longer it takes to pass, the worse it will be. It will be completely dark in the next 30 minutes. Then the long night begins, with the storm expected to hit in the middle of the night. Right now we have city power, which is good. I’m not sure how long that will last. I imagine at some point that will go down, for how long will depend on if/how many of the power lines in Jacmel get knocked down in the wind. The internet is really slow now because of all the cloud cover. I also imagine that will go down at some point. Cell service has been in and out all day. That could get knocked out too. All of that is to say, I’ll continue to update, if I can, but there are a lot of factors that may prevent it, for however long. The kids have all had dinner and are now hunkered down in their rooms. We have a few staff members here tonight. Hopefully we’ll get through the night okay. Please keep us, and all of Haiti, in your prayers.

You can get the latest updates as they are posted on theSt. Joseph Family facebook page. We will also share an update as soon as we are able after the storm has passed.

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How Plastic Yarn Builds a Community

How Plastic Yarn Builds a Community

In November of 2012, a mission team from the Midwest arrived at Lekòl Sen Trinite in Jacmel for their yearly visit.  They brought some plastic balls of yarn that parishioners made from plastic grocery bags.  They were hopeful that they could start a small cottage industry with their newly formed Women’s group.

The group began teaching women how to crochet, and several women caught on very fast.  One of the volunteers suggested it would be great if they could find a crochet teacher in Jacmel to help the women continue developing their skills.  The afternoon school classes were coming into their classroom and one of the teachers came over to us and said that she knows how to crochet and she would be willing to spend some extra time teaching the women.  That’s how it all began.

Time passed and in 2013 two more groups traveled to Jacmel.  Each time they brought more yarn for the women. One group grew to two – meeting once a week to pray, study the bible, sing praises to Jesus, and learn how to crochet.

By 2014, both groups had bonded and were praying together for the church and the mission teams that had become part of their lives.  On every trip the volunteers visited the women’s homes and brought what little they could to help with their daily struggles to care for their families.

The dream had been to come up with a marketing plan for their bags, but so far the mission team hadn’t been able to make it happen. The Haitian women never became discouraged and continued to make their bags as long as they had supplies.

In November 2015 the Lord provided a way. A mission group from St. James’s Episcopal Church Photo of women's groupin Virginia was in Jacmel painting the new Wings of Hope building at the same time that the Midwest team was there. The two teams talked over dinner about the bags, and the next day they bought 28 bags from 14 different women.  The Haitian women saw the processes from beginning to the end.  They received their earnings the next day, and it brought such joy to them as well as to the both visiting mission groups.  One mother sold eight bags and she said, “Now I have money to take my child to the doctor.”

It was through the women’s perseverance and the mission team’s belief that the Lord would provide the way. To this day, the team continues to supply the women with the plastic balls of yarn.


James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because when he has stood the test,
he will receive the crown of life.”

 

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Reginald’s Legacy Story, Part 2

Reginald’s Legacy Story, Part 2

Read Part 1 of Reginald’s Legacy Story.

His trip to the United States was quite the adventure. The first adventure was getting a visa from the United States Consulate and permission to travel for the surgery, which was not easy. There were a lot of firsts, starting with his first plane ride. A few days after he arrived in the US, Reginald celebrated his ninth birthday. He had his first big American-style birthday party. A little boy who lived across the street from his host family invited his entire Cub Scout Pack and they threw Reginald an amazing party. They didn’t speak the same language, but when little boys have soccer balls and Matchbox cars, that is common language enough.

Reginald spent several weeks in the United States for the surgery and recovery. All the time his days were filled with much laughter and fun as he explored, had adventures, and made new friends. He became a great ambassador for the St. Joseph Family and Wings of Hope. He spent time at the schools of his new Cub Scout friends, was featured in several newspaper articles, and brought his exuberance and joy everywhere he went.

But, his Wings of Hope family was never far from his thoughts. As Reginald was showered with gifts while he was in the US, he remembered his friends, and began setting aside some of his toys for them. He asked to buy special gifts for certain friends when he and his host family were out shopping. By the time he returned to Haiti, Reginald had a special gift bag prepared for each and every one of his brothers and sisters at Wings of Hope. The day he arrived back home at Wings of Hope was filled with much celebration and Reginald got to be like Santa Claus and he gave out all the gifts he picked out for his friends.

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Reginald’s Legacy Story, Part 1

Reginald’s Legacy Story, Part 1

Reginald had a hard start to his life. His mother died during labor and the doctors amputated Reginald’s left arm near the shoulder to get him out of the birth canal and save his life.  He was Photo of Reginaldborn prematurely and was small and had health problems. His challenges didn’t stop there. He was also very much alone. With his mother dead, no one in his family stepped up to care for him, or even visit him in the hospital. He was cared for by the hospital staff for several months. There was a woman who often came to the hospital to pray with the patients. After seeing little Reginald there on several of her visits, she began to ask about him. She saw this little baby for more than the disabled and abandoned child that he was. She saw something in him that made her see him as her son. Eventually the woman was able to take Reginald home. He lived with her for several years until tragedy came to little Reginald’s life again when his adoptive mother died. The woman’s neighbors loved Reginald, but none of them could care for him, so he was taken to the Haitian department of social services, who then brought Reginald to Wings of Hope. He was only five-years-old.

Reginald was a happy, adventurous, and energetic little boy. He blended in well to the Wings of Hope family. Because he was physically disabled since birth with the loss of his arm, Reginald learned to cope to be able to do everything he wanted and needed to do with one arm. He was always very independent and worked hard to make up for his missing arm.

“I loved living at Wings,” Reginald said. “I loved playing with cars and spending times with the people who would come to visit us. They would take us to eat at the Baptist Mission. That was fun.”

photo of reginald after his surgeryOne thing he couldn’t get past, however, was the pain that the amputation caused. Because the amputation was not done correctly, as Reginald grew, so did the part of the bone that was left in his upper arm. It protruded through the skin and would cause painful infections. If he bumped it or it got hit with a ball when he was playing, it hurt and tears would roll down his cheeks. Thanks to generous doctors and a hospital in the United States, when he was nine-years-old, Reginald went to the US for some life-changing surgery. The doctors fixed his amputation site so that it would stop hurting and be infection-free, allowing Reginald to run and play without pain.

 

 

Read Part 2 of Reginald’s Legacy Story.

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Welcome, Vilner!

Welcome, Vilner!

For several years Vilner attended classes at Wings of Hope as a day student. He lived in an orphanage near Wings of Hope when Wings was in Fermathe. That orphanage did not have any programs for kids with disabilities and Vilner flourished with the opportunities he received at Wings of Hope. When Wings moved to Jacmel the other orphanage recognized that Vilner would have many more opportunities living at Wings of Hope, so they transferred him to Wings. Vilner is now a full-time member of the Wings of Hope family. Vilner has a physical disability and uses a wheelchair. He also likes to get out of his chair and crawl. He has a speech problem and cannot speak clearly, but he has no problem communicating his needs and wants in other ways. He is a very intelligent, funny and personable young man. He loves to interact with the other kids and can often be found pushing a line of wheelchairs across the Wings courtyard. He likes to help the other kids any way he can.

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Delome – Small in Size, Big in Spirit

Delome – Small in Size, Big in Spirit

One of life’s greatest rewards for anyone who has spent time at Wings of Hope was to make Delome smile. His elusive smile was hard-earned, but when granted, it lit up the world. He was small in size, but he had a mighty heart and a powerful spirit.

Unfortunately for the world, on August 22. 2016, that smile faded away. Delome passed away that morning. He had been sick for several weeks. Despite medical care and the best efforts of the staff, his little body just had enough. The prayers that had been lifted by hundreds for his healing led not to his earthly healing, but allowed him to escape the pain and suffering on earth to become whole and happy in heaven.

Delome became a member of the Wings of Hope family in 2001. The staff didn’t know much about him, including his age. From his size and look they guessed he was about a year old. Over the years, Delome grew older, but didn’t grow much bigger. By the time he passed away, he was at least 16-years-old, but was the size of a typical-developing 18-month-old. He also suffered from other physical and mental challenges — mental retardation, physical disabilities, developmental delay, and vision and hearing difficulties. He was non-verbal, but expressed his feelings by grunting, making noises and crying.

Delome loved the sunshine and to sit in the sun. He loved to dance and play, and he loved to swing. Delome also loved the annual Wings of Hope beach trips. He became so relaxed as he drifted in the waves that he often fell asleep as he floated. Because of his size, Delome was often chosen to play Jesus in the annual nativity play that the Wings of Hope family puts on.

photo of delome as baby jesus in christmas pageant
What Delome loved the most was the one-on-one attention he received from his care-givers, visitors, and his fellow Wings family members. Delome loved to be held. Because of his size, people were drawn to him and to pick him up and cuddle with him. There are multitudes of visitors who have their own pictures of them holding Delome. Many have said his quiet presence deeply impacted their lives. Delome often rewarded this special attention with one of his elusive but award-winning smiles. For times when he was especially happy that smile was combined with a deep belly laugh.

photo of kc holding delome
While we will miss Delome’s smile and presence in our lives, we know he now joins the legion of Wings of Hope angels that watch over their brothers and sisters on earth.

photo collage of delome

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Extended Family

Extended Family

In June I had the chance to introduce my daughter to Haiti, and to the St. Joseph’s Family.  Having said that phrase so many times, the word “family” starts to simply become part of the name, but this visit once again reminded me of its true meaning.

The only thing about the trip that worried me a little was the airport arrival, as I had previously arrived with a group including old Haiti hands.  It can be a bit chaotic, and seeing my brother Walnes standing at the end of the gauntlet of tap-tap drivers awaiting our arrival made my morning.  He made us welcome at St. Joseph’s in so many ways.

Perhaps the highlight of our entire 10 day trip was the invitation he gave to visit his new house under construction in Peguyville, just a couple of miles from St. Joseph’s.  It was so delightful to meet his wife, brother-in-law, toy poodle (no kidding!) and especially his two children, the youngest asleep in her crib.  My daughter fell in love with his son, who followed us upstairs as we took a tour of the construction site and heard Walnes’ vision for the house and his studio.  It was the sort of “family visit” one can expect when you are welcomed into St. Joseph’s family.

— Mark

new home construction

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Exercise Fun!

Exercise Fun!

One of the women in our group brought a large aerobics / games mat with her to Wings of Hope, and it was put to use immediately! The idea is for each player to take a turn rolling two big foam dice. The number on the dice corresponds to a “station” on that mat, such as: push-ups, sit-ups, raising your arms or legs, etc.

Emmanuel, the teacher doing physical therapy, made it a point to include every child, regardless of their physical limitations. His patience and enthusiasm made this class not only beneficial for their health but so much fun.

Wheelchair, verbal or not, every child was able to participate and they loved it!

— Kim

Frank Ely doing situps

Josephine does situps

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