HCDF October 2019 Newsletter

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Haiti is going through some very serious struggles right now. Issues that are affecting the fabric of its existence and the livelihood of everyone living there. Please take a moment to read this article by Keston K Perry, it really hits on the history of Haiti and how that has led to where Haiti is today.

Despite the unrest in Haiti, Fond des Blancs and HCDF are moving forward safely, though not untouched by the issues facing the rest of the country. The Exode school is the only school in the area to continually be open and operating since opening day on September 9th. Construction at the primary school has come to a halt because of the inability to garner more construction materials and cement due to the fuel shortage. The local market gathering that happens every Friday where a majority of people get the weekly shopping done is still happening, but with much less product to sell which is causing a rise in prices. Roads leading in and out of Port au Prince are either blocked, burned or barricaded. The effects of this current crisis can be felt across all institutions in Haiti.

We are not sure when and how this crisis will end, but are thankful to God for always watching over Fond des Blancs and HCDF. Your prayers are being answered and your support are a continued blessing.

– Lémec Thomas, Development Director

First Day of School

The first day of school was very exciting for all the students, especially the primary school and preschool. The primary school has been open for almost 30 years and just got its first paint job. It is beautiful beyond words and the joy and pride it brings to all the students to have such a beautiful school is priceless. We thank all of our donors for their support and prayers. We strive to continue bringing Christ, joy and smiles to all our students everyday and that work never ends. Please help us continue this great work by donating, sponsoring and sharing your love story for HCDF to others. For more information on how to do that, please see the end of this newsletter for my contact info, donating info and social media info.

(Click on any of the pictures below to select a child to sponsor.)

Farming

Last season’s harvest was distributed among the participating farmers last week. The farm is able to produce three plantings a year and the farmers receive a share proportional to the amount of land they have in the project. HCDF has the lion’s share of the land being farmed and its share goes to feeding the students at the school. One thousand (1,000) meals are served every school day, and to many of the students it is a lifesaver. The need for the farm becomes ever more clear as the acquisition of food and natural good becomes more and more scarce.The farm and its continued growth and success is crucial to the self suitability of the Fond des Blancs community and beyond.

HCDF Supporter of the Month: Dixie Noble

This video was created as a memorial for Lowell who went to be with the Lord last June.

“A pair of the dearest and longest supporters of the ministry in Fond-des-Blancs are Lowell and Dixie. Lowell went to be with the Lord last June. The following video is a memorial to his contribution to the Kingdom of God. Dixie is a prayer warrior. She is now having to continue  her mission here without the loving support of Lowell. They have been as a mother and father to me. We are eternally indebted to them for their support and generosity.”

– Jean L Thomas, Founder/President of HCDF

 

“Lowell and I stayed connected with Jean and Joy (founders of HCDF) since the first time we met. We were inspired by what we saw and heard was happening in this very rural town that was practically untouched by any type of Christian Community Development (CCD). With HCDF, CCD is truly thriving; there is now a school with 1000 students, a church with seven satellite churches, credit union, and a farm. They have also done reforestation, water projects and more.

HCDF has also inspired and trained 6 young men, who have taken HCDF’s CCD model and applied it to 6 other communities. These wonderful young men and their families are answering Jesus’ call and bringing CCD to these very rural and deprived communities.

Lowell and I felt so blessed to have been exposed to HCDF. With very little to no overhead, when we give to HCDF, it goes directly to the people in need.

We love to support a place where God is transforming lives and shalom is coming.”

– Dixie Noble

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December Newsletter 2018

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Dear Friends and Family,

I recently read an article in the Smithsonian magazine about the history and attitude toward Christmas or year-end mass produced letters. According to the article 53% approve of such letters and 47% disapprove. Also, it was mentioned that with the popularity of social media where everything is reported immediately perhaps a restatement of events at the end of the year is becoming unnecessary.

Personally, I enjoy any and all letters we receive in any form. As has been my habit, this will be a combination of personal and HCDF ministry news. In the future they may get more personal from me and Lemec will keep you informed of ministry news throughout the year as well as a year-end review. I hope everyone reading this are among the above mentioned 53%. If not, forgive me, but thank you anyway, for at least taking a glance at it. HCDF News: The ministries of HCDF have been immensely blessed these past few years and continuing so this past year. After the 1986 government coup Haiti was unstable for almost two decades. During that time an imposed embargo brought a lot of progress to a halt because prices for everything skyrocketed way beyond our financial means. We are grateful we could maintain what already existed, but couldn’t add much. Now we can literally say we are being “showered with blessings.” Jean and I are in awe and wonder at the amount of resources being made available for much needed projects. We are unspeakably grateful to God for touching the hearts of people willing and ready to help financially above and beyond what we could have ever imagined. At the same time, we remain eternally grateful for those of you who have been with us through the years and always responded to emergency need requests. We are grateful to God for touching your hearts and to you for listening and making yourselves available to His promptings (and our requests). Things are progressing on three different fronts: the church, the schools, and the farm.

The church has grown substantially in the last three years. Two walls have been taken out to extend the sanctuary. There are activities of different sorts at the church every evening. Programs for all ages and needs. Give praise with us for the gentle leadership of our pastor, Jean Francois Thalon and his wife, affectionately known as Lolo who pours herself into the activities and programs of the church as well as being a teacher at the grade school. We are especially grateful for the influx of young people into the church this past year.

HCDF has given aide to over a dozen schools over the years that are not directly connected to the three main schools under the EXODE name that were established under the ministries. The kindergarten has long ago outgrown its walls. This year six new classrooms plus two bathrooms and an administration office have been built and the grounds around the kindergarten and the church have been greatly improved. There is more to be built, but these additions have impressed the community and made life for the teachers and students of the school more comfortable and learning adaptable. These additions have been needed because enrollment at the school continues to rise.

The high school which started eight years ago did not receive any new buildings or structures this year, but there still are plans for more classrooms and a library. The environment of the school has changed with many more flowers and trees planted around the property and paved walkways added. It is known in the community as “the pretty school.” We like and accept that because we believe a pleasant environment can greatly add to the health of learning. All of the ninth graders once again passed their government exams. The first graduating class graduated this past June. They all must also pass government exams before they can continue All but five of them have gone on to graduate level education. Three of the five have been hired by L’Exode as teacher’s aides at the elementary level so they can earn money to continue their education at a later time.

The elementary school has been somewhat neglected in the past few years, but things are starting to change on that front. Architectural plans are just now beginning to be drawn to add much needed classrooms there also. As the number of students in kindergarten rises, the numbers at the elementary school rise also. Every nook and cranny of the school is being used. A partition was put up in the cafeteria to make room for two added classrooms and the children now eat their lunch under tarps set up outside. Fortunately, the weather here comfortably allows for that.

The farm has had a couple of upsets due to weather and planting conditions, but lessons are being learned and improvements are always being made. There are at least three farmers from the US and Canada who have come or come regularly to share their expertise and advice with the farmers here. One of those farmers is coming in January. There were no natural disasters in Haiti this year so we should be seeing progress again soon. None of the local farmers have lost money as a result of any upsets. They are always reimbursed for the use of their land, but hopefully soon, there will be profits that will also be shared with them. There has generally been a large enough crop that the children at the Exode schools are always fed. Feeding them was the impetus of starting the farm. Two companies in Iowa have been very generous about providing us with equipment and buildings for the farm. There is much to look forward to in regard to the farm.

On a personal note: I (Joy) had the distinct pleasure of visiting Disneyland with my granddaughter and her parents for her golden birthday. I have never heard of golden birthdays before, but apparently the birthday that is the same as your age in your golden birthday. Aria was born on October 3 and she turned 3 this year. Years ago we had a lot of fun as a family visiting Disney World. Going with a little girl who believes in princesses was a completely different experience, but with just the same pleasure and fun. Watching her excitement when meeting the princesses plus Mickey, Minnie, and other Disney characters was a happy experience not to be missed. I am so grateful I was invited and able to go. Jean and I have been more then blessed and pleased to watch our son, Lemec, mature as a husband and father and now as a partner in HCDF. You all will be hearing from him very often in the future as he adapts to all his new responsibilities. Also, big news for them and us is that they are expecting a baby son in March. Both mom and baby are in excellent health and the future big sister is already excited about welcoming her baby brother into the family.

Our son, Jacques, had been stationed in Okinawa for three years, but now he has been assigned to a base in San Diego. As you may know, that is where Lemec already lives so they will be able to spend family time together and Jean and I will get to see him far more often now. Being able to visit them both in one visit will be fun as well as convenient. Jacques is a detective in the Marines and loves his work and being a Marine in the USMC.

Our son, Josiah, is most impressive in his role as CEO and founder of ADF/Association for the Development of Fond-des-Blancs. He gets the same respect as his father who is someone committed to living and working here for the betterment of everyone in the community. HCDF and ADF work conjointly, but on different aspects and in different ways of development. His exciting news is that he is engaged to a lovely young woman he met in college. She was born in and lived her early life in Guatemala until she was adopted and moved to Seattle. She spent many months in Fond-des-Blancs already last year and is committed to moving back. She is currently finishing a master’s degree. Then she and Josiah will be married in a small family wedding next summer in Seattle before she moves back. We are beyond excited for them.

Both of our semi-adopted foster daughters are doing well in their respective lives. Manise is married with two sons and is a dentist in the Atlanta area. Fonia also as two sons and works for the state of Louisiana as a Social Worker. We are very proud of the women they have become.

We appreciate and depend on all your prayers for us and HCDF. We pray for you also. May this Christmas season and the new year bring you the rest, peace and contentment you need. We know God can give you these attributes even in the middle of hard times. Keep seeking and depending on God and he will be there for you.

Love to all,

Joy Thomas

HCDF September 2018 Newsletter

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The farm has never had a name until now. Jubilee spells JUSTICE and in the context of the Old Testament, Economic Justice. It is our prayer that the farm will spread that message throughout the community.

I would first like to address the recent unrest in Haiti and assure everyone that we, as a community in Fond-des-Blancs, are safe and have suffered little to no ill effects from the protest in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Praise be to God that Fond-des-Blancs is often shielded from any unrest that may occur in the capital. Everything is pretty much back to business as usual in Haiti..

It is an exciting time in Fond Des Blancs right now! School is getting ready to open for the new year on September 3, we are harvesting our current crop of sorghum at the farm, we recently hosted a church convention at L’Exode Secondary School and this week we received the results for our 9th graders government exams of which 100% of our students passed.

In the Haiti education there are a series of national exams every student must take and pass for certain grades in order to move on to the next grade. We recently received the results of our 9th graders government test scores and learned that all of them passed and will be moving on to 10th grade. We are thrilled by the news and are currently preparing for this year’s class. Every year we are faced with the challenge of making sure we provide every student with the text books and materials they require to be successful, but with only a few publishing companies to choose from and a limited number of books, this is a challenge every year. But thanks to our donors, motivated staff, specifically our field director Jean François, our students always get what they need.

The preschool construction is well underway. The first phase foundations have been poured and walls are coming up. Construction is moving quickly to get two classrooms completed by the opening of the school year.

I have attached a link with some pictures that show our current progress. Please continue to donate, we have not yet reached our $1,000,000 goal needed to complete construction. https://photos.app.goo.gl/1Bw2W8EesNzk2r1d6.

July 22 through July 29 our Church hosted 11 churches from several surrounding districts for a church convention. We host this convention every other year and are one of the few places that can provide the space necessary to accommodate every everyone. Times of worship and prayer started at the Church on July 22nd and did not end till July 26. Events then continued July 27th to L’Exode secondary school and ended July 29th. Jean Thomas, HCDF president, closed the event with a sermon. We are happy and blessed to have the facilities to host this event every other year.

This crop of sorghum is our most beautiful yet. The heads look level just like the ones grown in Iowa. Our next crop is beans, which we will start as soon as early September. In our plan to grow and expand we are expecting to receive new farming equipment in the next couple months thanks to our wonderful friends at Van Wall equipment authorized John Deere dealer, who provide us with great working machines at an affordable prices. We are always thankful to our dear friend Darwin, without his know-how and passion for this project the farm would be no where near what it is today.

“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24”

Thank you everyone for your continued prayers and donations for us and all the Lord has given us to do.

Yours in Christ,

 

Lémec Thomas

P.S.

A special thank you to my mother Joy Thomas. She has been writing these newsletters and keeping everyone informed since the days before email, sorry to age you mom. I will be taking on this important task going forward. I hope to continue the strong legacy she has established of sharing HCDF’s success’s, its struggles and most importantly the stories of how God’s glory is being personified through the people of Fond-des-Blancs. Thank you everyone for your love, support and donations.

 

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HCDF June 2017 Newsletter

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The Lord’s compassions are new every morning—Great is Your faithfulness! (Lam. 3:23).

It feels as if this school year has flown by, just a couple more weeks and they students will be on their summer break. We feel so very blessed by how well the school is progressing.

Architectural concept of the preschool
Architectural concept of the preschool

Every year brings record numbers of new students; so we are always searching for creative ways to make classroom spaces.  We have architectural plans for the preschool/kindergarten.  We have three L’Exode campuses but the one for the younger students is totally inadequate.  We would appreciate your prayers and contributions toward the renovation of the preschool campus.  Last week we registered 96 three year olds to start preschool in September.  This is not a record number which is a reprieve for us, but still more than we expected.  The kindergarteners have just been tested and we have 104 little ones moving on to first grade.  This is a record number and I’ll have to let you know how we creatively find space for them at the primary school campus in September.  God willing, we will find a way.

We have not done any new construction at the secondary school this year.  Instead we have worked at making the campus into an environment that invites and encourages the students to want to get up and come to school every day.  Also after school hours, the whole community is invited to come enjoy themselves on the Multi-Purpose Center Courts.  There is always a basketball or soccer games happening; field hockey has recently been added and it provides a smooth area for bike riding.  A pleasant surprise to us is that the campus has become a wedding venue.  I’m sure this will become even more popular as we continue the improve the landscaping.  The outside of the buildings is being painted, and the parking lot is being paved.  It is all very nice.

Earlier in May we hosted HCDF’s semi-annual board meeting here in Fond-des-Blancs.  We are grateful for each board member that was able to attend.  Unfortunately, a couple of weeks before this, one of Jean’s brothers-in- law (Pastor Jeanty) passed away.  The family scheduled his funeral for the same weekend as the meetings.  There was no way we couldn’t join the family for the memorial service so we are pleased that the board members were all very understanding and we were able to crunch much of

The parking lot at L’Exode Secondary School
The parking lot at L’Exode Secondary School

the agenda into a shorter amount of time.   Besides attending the board meeting, they also were guest at an inauguration banquet for the cafeteria provided for all the students and all the teachers and staff of the schools.  New tables were bought to ensure all students can eat at the same time and a very nice food serving bar was added.  Until now the secondary school students had had to walk down to the primary school to eat.  Eating on their own campus is way more convenient and allows the administration to do announcements and presentations for them while they are eating.

The farm is also progressing and we are looking forward to the visit of the Iowan farmer that comes a couple of times a year to consult with our farm staff and gives amazing assistance every time he comes.  As all farmers everywhere know, we are constantly fighting the weather; so we have had some setbacks, but are still very encouraged by all the support we are receiving to make this a modern, successful farm.  In spite of weather problems, we have been able to feed the students from farm-grown cornmeal and vegetables.

There were several speakers at Pastor Jeanty’s memorial service and the theme of one of them was that although his life here is completed the work he did and started continues.  His ministry to others continues. It continues through projects he started and it comtinues through others.  Don’t we all want that said about us.  For Jean and I it is probably obvious that we have been given the opportunity to serve others on a daily basis which gives us much contentment.  No doubt all of us are given this opportunity in some form.  While you all have your personal service to do, through your prayers and contribution for HCDF you are a part of that too.  Thank you.

Your sister in Christ,

HCDF March 2017 Newsletter

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The first quarter of this year is going well. Progress has been made since the hurricane that passed over the island. Lots of cleaning and repair in our area. Many many trees went down in our yard and the school yards which we’ve tried to turn into a blessing. We have been able to give employment to a few young men to cut the fallen trees and turn them into cooking charcoal. Our schools still use charcoal for cooking the daily meals. We normally buy it, but for now we are producing our own. All the schools are functioning well and the farm is in recovery and moving forward in its capacity to produce more than ever before.

One of our satellite church school received a double whammy after the unfinished structure went down in the 2010 earthquake and then again in this latest hurricane.  This time we secured the finances to complete the whole structure before something could happen to it again.  Local mason workers put up the posts and block walls.  There are four classrooms and a church sanctuary that can be divided into two classrooms during the week.  A group of men from the US came to build the trusses for the roof.  Young people from our main church and from Haitian visiting churches put the tin over the principal’s office and placed the trusses over one of the classrooms.  Local workers will continue until it is completely covered.

Mardi Gras is a big celebrating time in Haiti.  However, most protestant churches do not join in these celebrations.  Instead, many, especially those located in the larger towns and cities choose to send their young people to rural areas for retreat camps.  We are pleased and blessed that for many years we have been a location for these camps.  With our growing facilities we have been able to accommodate even more groups.  This year we hosted in three different locations:  at the main church, at Exode grade school and at Exode secondary school.  Each group consisted of around 90 people.  The groups at the schools benefit from a close proximity to our community’s water source.  It was young people from these groups and our own youth who gave a day of service to continue work on the roofing project.  The group at the secondary school is from a church pastored by Jean’s oldest nephew for which we are pleased and proud to serve.  While he was here we were able to determine that he is the oldest male grandson of Jean’s parents and our Josiah is the youngest grandson of them with countless cousins in-between.

Work has begun on improvements on the secondary school.  The walls of the outside of the buildings are being stuccoed with smooth cement so they can be painted, tractors are working on cleaning the land for a full-sized soccer field that is situated just on the other side of the cafeteria, walkways are being improved, plants and flowers are being planted for beautification and the road next to the school will be paved to cut down on all the dust going into the classrooms, offices, and library on a daily basis.

Jean is and will be spending more and more time at the farm making sure the land is being used to its fullest capacity.  Planting has begun for corn and peanuts.  The papaya and plantain trees have already been replanted and are growing well.  We have hired a young man from the community who has completed his agricultural degree from a university and is being very instrumental in working on a large experimental garden to discover what can be best grown in the soil and climate here for future larger plantings.

This past January marked 33 years since Jean and I moved to Fond-des-Blancs.  We are humbled by how much the Lord is blessing us at a time we thought maybe we would be looking at retirement.  Instead farm growth and school growth and opportunities for growth are far exceeding our former expectations and keeping us busy.

We want to share this excitement with all of you who have been participating and partnering with us through all these years or have just come in recent years.  You have been an encouragement to us in the lean and difficult times and the times like now when it is clear to see the Lord still has more for us to do.

Last, but not least, our church and churches also continue to grow.  Our church has been able to minister to many young professionals coming here to work at the local hospital or in other capacities in the community.  It is always heart-warming to us when we see so many of them choose to worship with us.

Please continue to pray for us and all these activities.  The Lord is leading us and we want to make sure we follow Him correctly.  Also continue to pray for all our students in our main schools and the satellite schools.  After so many years we are able to know about several success stories of former students and we want the current students to stand on the backs of those successes and become citizens of Haiti and the world to help the development of everyone.

Yours in Christ,

 

Joy Thomas

HCDF Christmas 2016 Newsletter

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The Message: Romans 3: 22-24 The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in Him.

For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity He put us right standing with Himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where He always wanted us to be. And He did it by means of Jesus Christ.

Wisemen still seek him...

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, it is good to reflect on just that.  He was born to be our Savior.  He came to set us free from ourselves and to enable us to worship Him.  As we exchange gifts with our loved ones, we can remember that we have already been given the pure gift of Christ being sent to restore us.

Jean and I can count many blessed gifts we have been given this year:

We have had the pleasure of watching our first granddaughter grow.  We did this through a couple of personal visits, the wonder of Skype, and photos.  She is a treasure and is now 14 months old.

Our son, Josiah, moved back to Haiti and is observing his first anniversary of being back.  His technical skills have been invaluable to HCDF.  Also, he became the executive director for ADF (Association for the Development of Fond-des-Blancs).  This group is being funded by the Kellogg foundation.  He has been and will be coordinating efforts between the different NGO’s that already exist here in Fond-des-Blancs and those that may want to come.  The first objective has been to survey the community as to what already exists and what the community sees as important need.  The surveys became more intricate and important after Hurricane Matthew came through.  Many people lost their homes completely while others lost their roofs and almost everyone lost their gardens.  He learned a lot about mapping while doing these surveys which seems to be appreciated by current organizations and should be useful to others.  However, right now a priority is seeking funding to use that information for helping the people with these losses.  Please keep this in your prayers and in your hearts if there is anything you can do to help.

The large HCDF farm also took a major hit during the storm.  As I mentioned in an earlier letter, the first consequence of the loss of the crop which would have been used for feeding our students.  We had a small reserve and we have been buying additional food to ensure each child gets a good hot meal while at school.  The main Iowan farmer, Darwin, who has been helping put the farm together, will be returning in early January to ensure good planting that can be harvested before this school year is over.  In the meantime, the local workers have been cleaning the fields and replanting the crops that are grown in smaller fields such as papaya and banana trees, cabbage, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, etc.  We have recently received really good news that a farm proposal Jean has been working on is being funded.  This means, that among other things, next year there will be better equipment and more land to be used.  Do pray that all this does come to fruition.  It is a major blessing that is giving us lots of encouragement.  Also, there will be training and modern technology support to individual farmers.

In April of this year Jean was diagnosed with prostate cancer and two months of external radiation was recommended as treatment.   This meant he had to move to the US for a while.  He mainly stayed with his brother who lives in the Fort Lauderdale area.  I was able to join him for a month after school closed. Before I went, Lemec and Tara traveled across the country to visit with him.  Of course, they brought little Aria with them who brought great cheer to her grand Pere.  The good news is that the treatment worked! Also during my stay, I made a trip to California to visit Lemec and his family and to Rockaway Beach, Oregon, to visit my mother.  I got to be there over the 4th of July which was great fun.  I have memories from my childhood watching fireworks over the Pacific Ocean.  On top of that I watched them from the home of my school principal from grade school.  It is nice sometimes to be with people who knew you when.  I had to leave Florida before Jean’s treatments were over, but he still had his brother and his mother looking after him.  Before he came back to Haiti he made another trip to California and Arizona.  Arizona because our middle son, Jacques, was stationed there on the Marine Air Base.  Jean was able to participate, along with Lemec, in his re-enlistment ceremony.

A few weeks after that Lemec was able to return to the base to pin Jacques to his Sargent status.  Although his rank is currently Sargent, he is called Agent Thomas as he is being trained to be a detective.    Not long after that he was reassigned to the Hansen Marine Base on Okinawa.  We have not Skyped with him yet, but we have been keeping in touch via Messenger.  He says he is adjusting to his new environment.  I’m sure he would appreciate your prayers.

Last month, November, the HCDF board members met in Orlando for meetings.  These meetings are always a good opportunity for fellowship for us as well as a time for sharing ideas and counsel.  Also, we were pleased to add a new member to the board, Joleen Darragh.  Joleen came to know of us through her involvement with the architectural program at the University of Tennessee/Knoxville that has designed all the buildings for the high school and are working on designs for the preschool/kindergarten.  She is no longer with them, but has remained a vital part of our ministry.

While we were in Florida Jean went in for his PSA test to confirm the radiation treatment worked.  It took a couple of weeks, but we finally got the good news that he is in the clear.  We praise God for this.  Jean never felt ill and hasn’t had horrible side-affects from the radiation for which we also praise God.

So as you can see we have many reasons to rejoice this season in all the gifts God has been and is pouring down on us.  As we celebrate this season, we are especially grateful for the gift of Himself for our lives with Him now and forever.

We hope all of you can rejoice with us and for His gifts in your lives.

A Blessed Merry Christmas to All,

 

Joy Thomas

HCDF November 2016 Newsletter

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T“hough the fig trees do not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crops fail and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I (we) will rejoice in God my Savior.”

Habakkuk 3:17 & 18

Dear Friends and Family,

The above verses perfectly describe our community in Haiti.  As we have seen in the past, the Haitian people are of strong wills and strong faith.  They do not give up easily and they are not giving up now.  Their crops are corn, peanuts, plantain, beans, papayas, as opposed to figs, grapes, and olives, but the loss is just as real and the rejoicing and hope for the future is just the same.

Fond-des-Blancs was severely hit and damaged during the storm of Hurricane Matthew.  We are very grateful that we did not have any loss of life in our area, but there is damage in many other ways.  Everyone lost their gardens and many of their animals both of which are crucial to their daily livelihoods.

Our first response was to send the bulldozer to be the first to get out on the road to start the clean up to allow traffic to flow again so supplies could get into the area.  Schools in the area were closed for a week so the buildings and yards could get cleaned and dried.  They are all open and functioning again.  We have begun giving tuition assistance to all our students to allow their parents to use those resources to fix their homes or start their gardens again.  Through the churches and in-community surveys of needs, financial assistance is being and will be given to those most in need.    The first aid is going to families of those in our church, however the aid won’t stop there.  We are here for all citizens of Fond-des-Blancs and the surveys that have been completed will ensure that those with the most urgent needs will be at the forefront of receiving assistance.

Many, many trees went down everywhere including our yard.  We still cook with charcoal at the schools and these trees will be repurposed to become charcoal which will be used for the cooking of food for the students.

Everything at the farm was destroyed.  We had one small patch that was not destroyed during the middle of the storm, but then the rain kept coming and destroyed that patch also.  However, we did have a reserve of corn in the grain bins which were not ruined so we are still able to feed the students temporarily.    We will use the extra assistance donations coming in to buy food for them until another crop from the farm can be planted and harvested.

A group of six people, all who have come before and worked together before even though they are from three different states (Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky) came to put the roof back on the multi-purpose building.  They worked tirelessly to get this done which they did plus a few other extra jobs.  We are grateful to them, their families and their churches for making it possible for them to come.

“The Sovereign Lord is my (our) strength; He makes my (our) feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me (us) to tread on the heights.”  Habakkuk 3:19   We continue to move forward.

Your prayers and generosity have been a major encouragement to us and the people of Fond-des-Blancs and we hope you understand that.

Yours in Christ,

 

Joy Thomas

HCDF October 2016 Newsletter

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Update about the effects of Hurricane Matthew on Haiti’s Southern Peninsula

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31:25

JOY:  The Haitian people have a right to be weary and faint of heart.  Tropical Storm Sandy, the 2010 earthquake and now Hurricane Matthew all of which gave immense devastation.  The loss of life is unimaginable, but for those who survived, life continues and usually with gratefulness to God for what is left.  The physical needs of Haiti are once again on the minds of everyone.  All of us who live here are grateful for all the care and concern sent to help.  With the help from others the Haitian people will be refreshed through their constant stamina and their faith in God.

JOY:  Both Jean and I started writing a letter.  I was going to integrate his into mine, but since our writing styles are so different I decided it might be fun to share both with you even though some of the information is repetitive.

JOY:  Fond-des-Blancs was in the zone of the worst winds and rain, but because it is located in the mountains and not on the seacoast we have survived with lots of damage, but no deaths.  When Jean and I first moved to Fond-des-Blancs, I complained (only partly jokingly) that he couldn’t hear God calling him to a coastal area.  We’re on an island surrounded by coastline, but we are in the mountains.  I am rethinking that complaint.  Recently we have seen in Malaysia, Japan and Haiti how easy it is for the ocean to totally wipe out coastal cities and locations.

JEAN:  For 24 hours, hurricane Matthew, a category 4 hurricane, battered Haiti with incredible wind and rain. The devastation on the southern peninsula is beyond words. Some who flew over the most severely affected areas reported that the physical devastation is even worse than the 2010 earthquake in terms of loss of homes and life-sustaining gardens. Over 1000 casualties have been reported so far.

JOY:  For this storm in our area the wind was worse than we have ever seen.  Many tin roofs were taken off of homes as well as the main roof of our new multipurpose building.  The roof of our school library did not come off, but unfortunately many of the shelves were too near windows.  I took many away from the windows before the storm, but more rain than I anticipated blew in.  I am doing my best to dry as many of them out as I can.  Our six interns who have been in their selected communities for a couple of years now also suffered damage, but no loss of life.  A couple of them lost their whole church/school buildings and a couple others lost the roofs to their buildings.  We will be giving assistance to all of them for homes and churches.

JEAN:  Our community of Fond-des-Blancs, not in the direct path of the storm, suffered major damages as well. There are no gardens left, signaling hunger for months, if not years, to come. The tin roofs of a large number of houses were simply blown off. The largest section of the roof of our new multi-purpose center at L’Exode Secondary School was picked up and dropped in the middle of the street. Our entire crop at the farm is gone. The loss in terms of livestock is also painful.

 

JOY:  The ten miles from our community to the main paved road has never been paved.  We have worked on it several times. Our bulldozer is working on it again to enable cars and trucks to go out for and come in with needed supplies. There were certain areas that had become impassable.

JOY:  My experience at our weekly market last Friday was very uplifting.  Even though there was no guarantee at the time that supplies could be restocked, but no one hiked up their prices and everyone was happy for everyone else who could give good news of survival.  As mentioned non-perishable items will be re-stocked, but all the small gardens in the area plus all the corn and peanuts that had just been planted at our large farm were all washed away.  This is a huge financial loss.  We plan to give several tuition scholarships to students whose families lost the most.

JEAN:  As we look at the options before us:

  1. Respond to the housing crisis. A home that should not house more than two or three people is now a shelter for several more homeless extended family and friends.
  2. For most farmers, it is too late to prepare their lands for a new crop before the first of the year. But they can begin to grow their livestock herds; especially goats and pigs.
  3. Not just our school, but several others suffered major damages to their buildings. Most have no source of finances to rebuild.
  4. The number of trees that have been uprooted present another danger to the fragile ecology of the community. We need to either (or both) produce or buy tree seedlings for replanting.
  5. At least for the L’Exode schools, we would like to assist with a few months of ‘free tuition’. This would give the parents a time to recoup. Any financial contribution designated to that end would help.

Hurricane Matthew in Fond-des-Blancs

JOY:  Thank you for all your notes of concern for our welfare.  Like everyone else I have spent the last couple of days drying out our home and sweeping away the thousands of leaves blown in from the trees, but relieved and happy we are not with loss of life in this area.  We move forward with yours and and help.

Yours in Christ,

 

Jean and Joy Thomas

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August 2016 Update

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As I write this, Jean has less than a dozen more radiation treatments and them he will be able to return to Fond-des-Blancs. He was diagnosed with intermediate prostate cancer last May..

In another month he will need to be tested again to ensure the radiation did its job.   We trust it did and are grateful for the care he has received and the fact that he has gotten through it without any negative side effects.  We’ll let you know the results of the test, but we are already more grateful than we can say for all your prayers and words of encouragement.  Jean says the time went much faster than he expected it to because he had so many people come to visit him to break up the time plus he has gotten to take a couple of trips without missing too many treatments.  He made two trips back to Haiti and one trip to California.  He will make one more trip to San Diego on his way to Yuma where he will get to be a part of a ceremony of our son Jacques reenlistment for his second term with the United States Marine Corps and will get to spend a little more time with our precious Aria.

Our granddaughter, Aria, is now 10 months old.  After the school graduations I came to the US to spend some time with Jean.  We had a week together and then I left to spend a week with my mom in Oregon for the 4th of July and from there to San Diego for a week with Aria and her parents.  Jacques rode over from Yuma for the weekend.  It was a treat for me to see everyone, but Aria is definitely a huge focus for us right now.  She has a sweet and fun personality which makes it very hard to leave her without a return date in mind.  However, I did leave, but only after taking dozens of photos and videos that I look at daily.  I came back to be with Jean.  We have tried Skyping, but that is still a little confusing for her.

While we have been in the US, Darwin, the main farming expert from Iowa who comes down twice a year, was there in February and came back again last month, just on time for another corn harvest which ensures we will have food for the students when school starts next month.  The Lord opened a door wide open for us to become agricultural farmers after USAID stopped giving food to schools in Haiti.  The farm has been a huge blessing to our ministry in enabling us to continue feeding the students.  There are more doors that are cracked open which may enable us to enlarge the farm and make food available to many more areas. Along with local workers, Darwin also finished framing the transformation building.  This construction is taking a while because of the tedious English instructions require Darwin’s presence, but progress is being made.  For now, the corn is transformed to cornmeal with a mill located at the school.  We will be happy when this can be done on site at the farm.

We have a record number of students coming into first grade this year.  We are facing some growing pains. It is not yet clear how we will find enough classroom space for all the incoming students.  We still have space issues at the church also where the preschool and kindergarten classes meet.  We have a plan for remodeling, but do not have the finances for it yet.  For now, we make do by using the sanctuary.   We need to move things around, but we still have plenty of room at the secondary school for this coming school year.  We’d appreciate your prayers for the space issue solutions and that we will find enough good teachers for the added classes.

Our son, Josiah, moved back to Fond-des-Blancs this past January.  He is heading an umbrella organization put together by the Haiti Christian Development Fund and a couple of other local non-profit organizations which have been active in the Fond-des-Blancs community. This association will work as a clearinghouse for all future development in Fond-des-Blancs. The organization has received a generous grant from the Kellogg Foundation to assess the local resources and needs, bring most of the local organizations under this umbrella and gain legal recognition for the association.  He has hired a surveying business from the city and two local people, one of them a L’Exode graduate who was an intern with the Caleb Center last year, to work along with him.  More local people will be hired and trained to do some of the surveying work.  Along with his work he has kept up with his love for soccer.  This Spring and Summer he has coached and played with a few different teams.  And helped organize a tournament funded by the Kellogg people.  One of Jean’s trips back was for the finale of this particular tournament.  Josiah’s friend, Felicita, is also living in Fond-des-Blancs and working with HCDF in our libraries, with the school sponsorship program, and will probably start teaching Spanish at the Secondary school this Fall.

Soon after our return, the church will be hosting a convention with other churches in our fellowship.  Getting together is always something everyone enjoys.

It seems trite to say that I don’t have enough words, but it is true we don’t know how to thank you enough for all your prayers and words of encouragement you have given us at this time of Jean’s health needs plus all the history we have with so many of you.  God bless you.

Signature Row at End

HCDF June 2016 Update

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Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18

We have many things for which to rejoice and to be thankful, all the while remembering and feeling the need to pray continually.

I think most of you know that Jean has been diagnosed with intermediate prostate cancer.  His recommended treatment is two months of radiation five days a week.  After many medical tests and a few dry-run type tests, he finally received his first dose of radiation (June 7).  It went well and it is comforting to me that he is on the road to recovery.  We are thankful for all of you who have already begun praying about this situation.  We can all rejoice that this was discovered in the first place and we have insurance to help cover most of the expenses.  The treatment cannot be done in Haiti so he is spending this time in Florida.   I will join him later this month after school exams and graduations are completed.

All the schools are running normally.  We have close to 30 6th grade students graduating from the grade school and close to a 100 from kindergarten.  We are excited and happy about the latter, but this many will be a logistical problem for the grade school to able to receive them, but we will get it done.  All the same, we can use your prayers that we make

wise decisions that benefit all the students and teachers. May 18 is Flag Day in Haiti and it was well celebrated at L’Exode with parades, singing and dancing, basketball and soccer games.  The events were well attended; three other schools were invited to participate in the day’s activities and help us fully use the new multi-purpose/sports center.

The Fond-des-Blancs area has finally been receiving plenty of rain which has been a great benefit to the farm.  The farm has been able to supply plenty of cornmeal, sorghum, plantains, sweet peppers, and papayas to the schools to enhance the school menus.  It is also growing peanuts as a contract for another organization which provides some money for other types of food at the school.  We are incredibly grateful for how successful the farm has become so quickly.  Thank you for your support of this very necessary endeavor.

We are grateful to have you rejoice with us and to be thankful with us for all we see the Lord doing in our lives and the lives of the people of Fond-des-Blancs.  We hope and ask that you continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Your friend and sister in Christ,

Joy Thomas