Jill Foster – Grepen tree nursery and House of the Good Samaritan
Having completed my first year in mission and celebrated my one-year anniversary, I feel that I have come a long way from where I started. As I’m continuing to learn more, my confidence has grown in my ministries.
At Grepen, I work in the tree nursery and am a valued member of the team. While my work there has changed very little from when I first began, I am now a lot more confident in my skills there.
I recently wrote a proposal for a new project to renew the soil on the mountaintops of Haiti. I am currently in the process of submitting it and hope that in the next few months it can be approved and work can begin. Since it is a long-term project, I may not be able to see its conclusion, but I am happy to contribute in these developmental stages. I will be proud to hand over the reins to local Haitians.
In the afternoons I often spend time with the residents at the House of the Good Samaritan (Maison Bon Samaritain, a home for the elderly). I often make an effort to greet everyone when I first arrive and talk with them. With others, I’ll play a game of cards or dominoes.
In the last few months, I’ve been helping with a “Forever Friends” partnership program between MBS and Jesus Mary School (Lekòl Jezi Mari), the school where Abby works. Twenty students participate in the program, each partnered with a resident, and every month they exchange drawings. Every other month, the students come visit and sing songs or tell jokes with the residents doing the same, as much as they are able.
When the due date for the drawings approaches, I assist the residents with those. I often draw what they request, and they fill it with color. I give advice on the color choices and offer encouragement during the process too. When it comes to color, I encourage them to go outside the box. For example, I drew a pigeon and someone said that pigeons are white so there is no need to color it at all. In response, I encouraged them to give it a bunch of different colors, for fun. When it comes to coloring inside the lines, I just tell them to do their best and that’s enough. It takes practice.
Another project I continue to facilitate at MBS involves signs of letters. While the final product is intended for the school, this project creates a fun activity for the residents at MBS. Armed with 90 8”x12” plaques of plywood, we are creating three colorful sets of the Haitian alphabet. Using acrylic paint and a variety of painting techniques, we have finished the background designs and are about two thirds finished with painting the letters onto the boards. This will take a little more time to complete and hopefully in the next month or two, we can finish and present the alphabet to the school. From there, we will find another activity to do.
These ministries have been such a blessing for me. Grepen gives me the chance for some real hands-on work and MBS gives me the challenge of bettering my language skills. But most of all, I have made many friends in all these places and look forward to working and spending time with them. They have all been so welcoming to me, and I pray that we may continue to work well together and share our lives together.
Sami Scott – Hen House
Despite COVID 19, the work at the hen house continues, seven days a week. Hens don’t have holidays or vacations. The first group of 1,000 hens we bought in August 2019 are now nearing the end of their productive lives. The 700 new hens we bought in October 2020 are producing well.
I have been in quarantine for most of the month of January so the other staff have had to shoulder more of the responsibility. I have also had to trust in their abilities and in the processes that are in place.
In the few times I have been at the hen house, I have concentrated more on the administrative aspects of my ministry. I am also using my enforced time at home to start posting in Quickbooks. That will be my focus until I can get up-to-date.
Abby Belt – Jesus Mary School and Mercy Beyond Borders
As a result of COVID-19’s global reach, my ministry focus at Jesus Mary School (LJM) in Gros-Morne, Haiti, has shifted. When we began the new school year in November, I took over the PE classes. It has presented a great opportunity to continue to grow with my students and colleagues as many of them are introduced to some sports for the first time.
We began with everyone’s favorite here, soccer. Monday through Wednesday, my first through sixth graders keep me on my toes as we explore different drills, terminology, strategies, and how to break through our limits. Thursday and Friday, I get to work with some of my favorite little ones in our three preschool classes. Their adorable, chaotic energy is life-giving, and we make each other laugh quite often. With each class only having one day for PE, we spread units over several weeks, especially since they are experiencing these sports for the first time.
Last week we began basketball. For a majority of my students, it is an entirely new sport to play, but they are determined and excited to set the foundation for this sport. I’ve been playing basketball since I was 4 and feel blessed to get to share that love with my students. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be covering the basics in dribbling, passing, and shooting. At the end of every unit, after a test day to check comprehension, they get to scrimmage.
After basketball, we’ll tackle volleyball and handball together. I have a competition set up among the classes. Whichever class accumulates the most points by the end of the school year will get a party day, complete with cake and their choice of a short film or whatever games they want to play. While only one class will get the party, the rest will be surprised with a field day of sorts for our last week of class. Each class wants to come out on top, and it is fun to watch them compete for that spot.
Things at Mercy Beyond Borders (MBB) are as lively as ever. Our scholars continue to show strength across the board. Despite the many setbacks of the past couple of years, they continue to rise, show up, and give every effort. Haiti is lucky to have these young women up and coming.
I continue in my background capacity, working in data analytics and library support. Our community as a whole here continues to go to work, to find laughter, and to live in the hope that exists wherever humans are present. There is still lingering insecurity in Port-au-Prince, as I fear there will be for some time yet. However, our kids are in school, learning and growing and enjoying youth.
My students at the school and at MBB continue to inspire me and give me great hope for where they will go. It continues to be one of the greatest blessings of my life to be a part of their lives and discovery of this world.
I hope wherever you are, and whatever today may look like for you, you are able to find joy in all the little moments, and peace in the uncertainty.
Peace and Agape.