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,