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,