July, 2020 HCDF Newsletter

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Thank you to all of you who donated, created fundraising pages and given support towards our goal of raising $260,000 for the purchase of 130 acres of farm land. I am happy to announce that with the inclusion of the K2 Foundation’s $80,000, we have now raised $197,670.96. That is amazing! We are now so close! One final push can get us there, please visit Jubilee Farm Campaign. This campaign link provides everyone the platform to easily create an individual fundraising page that can be used to reach countless charitable people within our networks. I believe there are many within our own networks that are searching for ways to make a change in the world, a place they can believe and know is making a difference. They just need someone to reach out to them, and that someone can be you. HCDF’s believes in holistic ministry, in creating a community made out of love, and we work towards creating a self-sustaining community that raises people first and seeks to bring God’s will and Kingdom down on earth as it is in Heaven.

Farm

The farm is a great blessing. We were recently able to distribute food to 150 of the most vulnerable in our community. Drought continues to devastate surrounding farmers and communities. Subsistence agriculture farmers are all losing their crops. For thousands of Haitians, this has been their main means of survival for centuries. With erosion, climate change, droughts, natural disasters subsistence farming is becoming more and more precarious. With the introduction of mechanized farming and working in cooperation with local farmers we can help create a more sustainable way of farming that can withstand these challenges and not only feed a community, but allow it to thrive and prosper.

L’Exode School

We are excited for the continued construction of the preschool campus and our secondary campus. The library for the secondary school is starting to take shape and the same for the new pre-school cafeteria. I always like to tease that the current students have got it easy, when I attended L’Exode we all had to stand to eat at our cardboard and cinder block tables. The new classrooms should also start to take shape in the next couple of weeks and I cannot wait to see them.

The government is looking to reopen school starting in August. However, we do not feel comfortable reopening at this time. There is still so much unknown, and we do not think that the health of our students and families is worth the risk of exposing them a typical classroom. We will be providing opportunities for students who did not achieve a passing grade in the first two semesters, to improve their grades. This will be done with social distancing and mask. Classrooms will only hold up to 10 students. Our biggest obstacle, in this current climate, to providing school for our students is internet and computers. The number of people who have these is so miniscule, that it is just easier to say no one has them. If you are reading this on a laptop or PC and are thinking about getting a new, sleek and powerful to lookup vacation trips that you hope will be a thing again soon, or just want to get rid of it so you children talk to you again, please consider donating your old one to us. Tell Google and Facebook that they can have all my data, if they will provide internet for the Fond des Blancs community.

Church

The Haitian government has allowed the reopening of churches again. Fond des Blancs Baptist church held its first service on July 12 since closing several weeks ago. Sadly, the government has issued no opening safety guidelines or assistance to anyone. To try to keep everyone as safe as possible our church now provides three Sunday services and a form is filled by everyone for the times that best suits them. Thermometers are also on hand to measure everyone’s body temperature before entering the building. Mask are also distributed to those who do not have one. With the support of ADF.org we installed hand washing stations. We pray these precautions will keep everyone safe and healthy.

Jean and Joy’s retirement home

In some good news, the construction of my parent’s retirement home is underway. They have been serving in Fond des Blancs for almost 40 years. Their impact is nearly impossible to measure. They have lived their lives on the foundation of Jesus’s calling in Luke 4: 18-19 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
They have sought to bring the kingdom here on earth as it is in Heaven. I love to dream of a world where we all work together to free prisoners of abuse, help those in need to rise and stand on their own, and release those weighed down by the bondage of oppression. A world where we cast aside our petty difference and stop waiting for God to come and “save” us, but choose to go to Him instead. I got to live some of that through my parent’s ministry. We are all created in God’s image, we have all been given the capacity to love unconditionally and we all have been given the light of God in our hearts, but it is up to each of us to decide how much of that light we share with others. My parents have shared that love and light brightly and unconditionally. Help me pray in blessing their new home.

Signature Row at End

April, 2020 HCDF Newsletter

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I pray that you are all healthy and safe in this time of change and uncertainty. What always brings me peace is living in the knowledge that God is the almighty and despite my failures and iniquities He has chosen to love me. The famous verse Philippians 4:6-7 “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This pandemic has many qualities, one of the qualities that fascinate me the most is how in its own troubling way, it unites us. Covid19 doesn’t care who you are, or where you are from, it doesn’t care about race, social standing or bank account. Much like God’s love, it doesn’t discriminate. God, however, does not bring troubles, but comfort and peace in our times of trouble. Here is a quick clip of my daughter Aria recites Jeremiah 29:11.

The world is a very different place than it was just a month ago. As the rest of the world adapts, plans and prepares, so does Haiti and so does Fond des Blancs. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and 6th in the world and as such has limited resources, little government efficiency and a poor healthcare system. As of today, there are 20 confirmed cases, with only 50 or so tests administered. All schools, religious entities, and factories (some have reopened to create medical supplies) are closed. According to a 2019 study by the Research and Education consortium for Acute Care in Haiti (REACH), Haiti only has an estimated 124 ICU beds and 64 ventilators for a population of more than 11 million. Other public health experts have put those figures even lower. With ports, factories and markets (where most Haitians buy and trade goods, as depicted below) closed, there will definitely be a food shortage to go along with the numerous other obstacles that most certainly will present themselves.

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In Fond des Blancs, Haiti, we are grateful for the Farm. We are harvesting and planting as quickly as we can to create as much turnover in this demanding time. We just acquired a new water reel that will help with irrigation. It can cover an area of up to 6 acres. It is a great step towards keeping everything irrigated and watered evenly. The farm has already shown great potential for stability, longevity and prosperity. It will play a crucial role in the current and coming challenges.

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We anticipate some serious food shortage in Haiti in the near future and the farm is one potential answer to keeping part of Haiti fed. God has already started answering prayers as we now have the opportunity to purchase 130 acres of farmable land. 100 of it has already been part of the coop between us and the local farmers, but by purchasing this land we can make more long terms investment to make the land even more productive now and in the future. We are looking forward to expanding the footprint of the farm to between 600 and 800 acres over the next three years. Owning this parcel would allow us to implement some more permanent improvements that are difficult to do in a loose cooperative environment or leased land.

We were approached by the land owner and have come to an agreement of $250,000, down from the $525,000.00 he was asking. He has given us two months to exercise our option to buy, but he would like for us to pay him $100,000.00 this week and the remaining balance within the next two months. A big thank you to Don Van Houweling, the founder of Van Wall Equipment, who has been instrumental in creating what the farm is today and in the purchase of this critical piece of land. We are looking to raise at least $50,000 in this short term and, of course, the remaining $150,000 in the coming couple of months. We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone, as the corona virus is not only attacking our health, but in many cases our jobs and livelihoods as well. Please pray and look to what God is putting on your heart. I am asking for 100 people to donate $500 or 50 people to donate $1000. Those are not set numbers, just target to achieve, if you are comfortable donating less, please do so and if you feel called to do more, please do so. We will continue to pray and believe in our Lord and rest this challenge in His hands. We love you all and thank you for your continued support!

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L’Exode, like the rest of the country has closed for the forceable future. We have, however, been able to continue building additional classrooms and a library at the secondary school, while maintaining social distancing.

Haiti’s school system is based on the Napoleonic code, which used to be the French system, although they have abandoned it since 1968. Students are subject to three sets of trimestral examinations a year, plus finals in July. We had completed two of said examinations and were preparing to administer the 3rd, but then the world changed. We are now faced with the challenge of how we determine which students get to move on to the next grade and which do not. Many students have already shown proficiency and the knowledge necessary to move on to the next grade. We must however determine an appropriate system that allows for those below this line to make their case and show that they also deserve to continue.

This pandemic, I believe, will forever change how L’Exode operates. We are continually planning and reviewing how to approach such challenges and changes. Internet and computers, I believe, will become even more prominent in education. Internet continues to be a major obstacle in Haiti and especially for rural areas like Fond-des-Blancs. We are grateful to have some internet, although often unreliable and is highly expensive. I am hoping the age of 5G will offer some solutions to this problem. If anyone has any ideas or are able to make introductions to any satellite internet providers, I would love to hear from you. We are also always in need of new and used laptops and computers, no older than 5 years. As always sponsorships remain the backbone to supporting the education of our students. Sponsorship helps purchase text books every year for every student, with textbooks, state curriculums and prices changing every year, this is no small feat. Jean Francois, our field director, does an excellent job every year of acquiring these much-needed materials.
With very capable leadership in place, I have no doubt that they will continue to devise an effective plan for these coming challenges.

Church

Like our schools, our church services have been suspended. We are exploring different avenues to keep everyone connected. With the lack of internet as mentioned before, this is no easy task. We are looking into radio broadcasting, but receiving shipments during this time can be difficult, so we are not sure if and when we can have this up and running. Above is a video of our choir worshipping during one of our last church services.

Thank you

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. I pray for health and safety for all of you. I would love to hear how all of you are doing at this time. Please reply to email and share your thoughts, questions and prayer request.

Yours in Christ,

Lémec Thomas

P.S
Please ship all physical good donations to
Jean L Thomas
MFI/HCDF – Unit 2085
3170 Airmans Drive
Fort Pierce, FL 34946

All monetary donations can still be mailed to
P.O. Box 934696
Margate, FL 33093

HCDF January 2020 Newsletter

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HHello Family and Friends,
What a blessed time the holidays, Christmas and New Years are! It is honestly my favorite time of year! its a time that really brings people together; a time that provides us the opportunity to look at the world through a lens of love, put aside our petty differences and remember that our Lord Jesus Christ came down to live among us, share our struggles and die for us.
His message wasn’t one of condemnation, separation or of nationalism, but of love and salvation for everyone. I love the Haiti Christian Development (fund) and our supporters with all my heart because everything that we do is guided by His message. HCDF’s guiding light and mission has always been to bring good news to the poor. How else do you bring good news if it is not with love? What wonderful news it is to know that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, but that you are loved by an almighty God, the alpha and the omega, and that He has a place for you with Him and in His presence for eternity.
We start this year with great anticipation, joy, love and thankfulness. Last year was filled with so much blessing and growth! Thank you to everyone for your steadfast stewardship last year. Our Lord’s hand is truly on Fond des Blancs and HCDF, and his impact is undeniable. Through natural disaster, political unrest and an ever-changing world, Fond des Blancs can truly be seen as a community like no other. It is truly a community of togetherness; a community where everyone is welcomed and loved. Our passion at HCDF is to continue that legacy and open this new decade with servant hearts, open arms, thankfulness and love. Thank you to everyone for supporting HCDF! Our connection to one another is greater than earthly bonds; our connection is certainly heavenly bound!

 

Lémec Thomas
Development Director

Current updates:
In good news, Haiti’s unrest seems to have subsided. It is now once again safe to travel in and out of the city of Port of Prince.

Church

The church celebrated the new year with a week of a week of awakening as a prelude to the new year. The church brought in the New Year at midnight together with worship and fellowship.
Baptism were held last week.Several young people gave their testimony and dedicated their lives to our Lord and Savior.

Decade in Review:
HCDF and Haiti had what some could call an adventurous 2010 decade. The previous decade started about as terrifying and bad as decade can begin for an impoverished country like Haiti. We were hit with a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that literally shook the fabric Haiti’s existence. We lost of friends and loved ones, feared an uncertain future filled with more questions than answers. But through the hardship and despair Thousands of Haitians worship Jesus in the streets.
Fond des Blancs responded in kind and God has provided. The previous decade brought new schools, new leaders, a farm and more.

Please watch this video:

Pre-School

We are nearing the completion of phase one of the pre-school construction. We will be beginning the second phase this year. We are eternally grateful for the support from our friends in Iowa; Sukup Manufacturing and Vanwall equipment !

Farm

The farms continues to be a blessing.We will be harvesting our first corn crop of 2020 in March. We however have been struck with some bad news. Our dear friend Darwin, who has been instrumental in the creation and growth of the farm suffered a serious hand injury while working on some farm equipment. He was so excited to come back for another visit from Iowa and set up some new equipment and train our local farmers on how to use them, but sadly this will not be so for the foreseeable future.  He was able to get bandaged up at the local hospital and has since been flown back home for more extensive treatment. Please keep Darwin in your prayers and pray for a full recovery.

Secondary School

Despite the unrest in the country and other set backs were able to continue construction of new classrooms at all levels of Exode’s school. Thank you to everyone for your generous donations and support. The kids now have beautiful, light filling classrooms.

Primary

We are nearing completion on adding a new cafeteria and multiple classrooms for the primary school. Before this new cafeteria the students would stand and eat outside under a tree.

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