Mission Trips

April Mission Team Reflections

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Our team traveled to Haiti in early April 2019. It was amazing to watch the Holy Spirit powerfully orchestrate our time in Camp Marie, Haiti and with the Haitian people. Below are a few testimonies from our trip.

Haiti Unexpected Beauty

By Janci Burns

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If asked to sum up my trip to Haiti in one word, that word would be BEAUTY.  

The landscape was beautifully vibrant with vegetation, blooming flowers, banana trees, hills, beaches and oceans.  In the simple life lived in Haiti, there is beauty. The homes and businesses are full of brightly painted walls, carefully crafted pillars, and beautiful metal work.  Although there is much debris strewn around, even in that there was beauty by bits of color popping up here and there. Where it was least expected, their ingenuity in using what is available to them showed their creativity which added to the beauty.

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People that show their creativity in not just the art they make, but in the way they live. The way that they get their jobs done. Or even how bright they paint their houses. And the people. The people are so welcoming.
— Grant Burns Age 17
 
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To say that the people of Haiti are beautiful is an understatement!  One afternoon I asked a little guy if I could take a picture of him, his friends, and my son as they were making bracelets together.  Through a translator, he told me no because his clothes were dirty. I instantly tried to explain to him that the clothes didn’t matter one bit.  My clothes didn’t matter one bit. “Ou beau”, I said. “You handsome”. It was so important to me that he know that he was handsome regardless of what he was wearing.  “Ou beau” and “ou bele” became phrases that I repeated over and over to each person I met. One little boy was so serious in talking with him until I told him he was handsome and then the sweetest smile spread across his face.  (And oh, the smiles are beyond beautiful!) It brought my heart such joy to see him accept and relish the truth of who he was. They are created in God’s image and that makes them beautiful.

What a blessing to see the beauty of God’s creation in Haiti!


Relationships the Building Blocks of Community

By Bonnie Taylor

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We took part in a cooking class from Madam Leon in Camp Marie. We made fried plantains, fried breadfruit, pikliz and rice and beans. This was such a fun experience to learn how to cook some of the yummy Haitian dishes that we all love. The best part of the experience though was just building relationships with our team members and Madam Leon's family. The children were playing hand games, tag and making friendship bracelets together while the adults worked on the food. Later we got to enjoy the meal together. I am grateful for the friendships that were formed and look forward to making them stronger in the future.

After the class we set up and hosted Project Living Hopes first color run! We had 85 participants that ran down the PLH road and onto the newly excavated property. Grant Burns and Guesly Dessieux were brave enough to run the race, while the rest of the team split up and helped at all the color stations and the finish line. It was a great experience to watch the community come together for such a fun time. Before the day was over, the community was asking about if we plan to return to do another fun run. As a team we are already brainstorming on how to set up the next one so it can be bigger and even more successful.

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The color run was my favorite memory. We set up a color station and while we were waiting for the race to start, we showed some kids what to do with the color. They seemed unsure at first, but as soon as the runners were on their way all the kids were enjoying themselves throwing color and making a mess. I loved seeing and just being a part of the Haitian community. I felt instantly accepted into their culture and felt so connected the moment I got there. I already miss the country and can’t wait for my next trip back.
— Annabelle Age 15
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Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon Judy, Tammy and Katie led a parenting seminar. They were very prayerful about the planning of the seminar. We wanted to create an atmosphere that stimulated conversations within a community. We wanted to empower parents to build stronger families.The team was met with such grace, an abundance of joy, and a welcoming into this new community of parents. Conversations were started. Some of their ideas were met with, “how would that look here?” rather than a “that will never work here.” As a group this community began to build stronger families. They encouraged each other, and you could see the ideas taking root in their lives. At the end of the 3 days we were able to give out the Creole storybook bibles that you all donated. It was great to watch them gently turning the pages of this children’s bible. Their faces full of joy.

The Haitians never fail to amaze me with their happiness and close community. They are so willing to let us into their lives. Their excitement for PLH to be a part of the community is very encouraging, they really are taking ownership in building each other up.
— Shawn Taylor

During the parenting seminar, while the rest of the team put on a kids camp nearby for the local children. We went down equipped for lots of fun. We had parachutes, gunny sacks, playground balls, chalk, crayons and friendship bracelet making supplies. Leading kids can be difficult at time and is even more so when you have a language barrier. Sara Dessieux was a vital component here. She was able to communicate so well and switch up the games at just the right time to keep everyone involved. My favorite memory from the kids’ camp was after a bible story was read and we handed out crayons and coloring sheets. Haiti is such a poor country that even having a selection of crayons to color with is a rarity. Even the older boys in attendance poured their heart and soul into their masterpieces.

My favorite memory about Haiti was when we held the kids camp. We got to hang out and play with kids from Camp Marie and build friendships. We played with parachutes, 4-square, 3-legged races, hand games, colored and made friendship bracelets. I look forward to returning someday to see my friends again!
— Samantha Age 10
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One morning the team was invited by Wilson, one of the PLH employees to attend a PE class. Wilson is a teacher at a local high school and was giving exams on a dance section. After the exams, we were taught some Haitian dance moves and some of us even got a chance to lead the class. The rest of the time in Haiti was spent getting to know the country and local communities, helping to prep for the Project Living Hope youth soccer league that started shortly after we left and touring some local attractions.

My favorite experience of the week was when Willson, one of our PLH employees, invited us to PE class. Willson is a high school PE teacher and when we were down at his class, he was doing exams on a dancing section. I loved it because it has such a different culture of dancing and I love trying something new like that.
— Courtney Age 12

So many people don’t understand the importance of when we take the time to work alongside others around us. I love that we are given the opportunity to build and foster relationships with our brothers and sisters in Haiti.  It was such a joy to be able to watch God working in our team and in Haiti……we are so glad we get to join Him in this work. I loved watching everyone fall in love with Haiti.

Encouraging and Strengthening Families

By Judy Buss

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Before leaving for Haiti, I started to have some strong doubts about my going.  Did I really have anything to offer?  I’m just a white, American with BIG ideas. Will they just see me as that only?  Or someone who truly does love God and wants to put into practice loving others?  People (and the voices in my head) kept telling me “what you are sharing is so counter cultural…they won’t get that concept…..are you sure you should be going?”  But I kept my head down, my heart open and my ear turned toward God.  I got an overwhelming sense I was doing EXACTLY what God wanted me to do.  I started to doubt again when we started with only 3 parents in attendance……but that quickly grew to 29!  People nodding as we spoke, feverishly writing notes, sticking around afterwards to introduce their families, .ask more questions and be together.  I had a huge ah-ha moment was when I shared the difference between punishment and discipline as “punishment is external, and discipline is internal.  We want to help our children make that internal “heart” change…”  Our translator turned to me with eyes and mouth wide open ”oh that is good!  I understand now!”  And as he translated, I saw the “light bulb” go on in all the eyes turned towards us in that room.  Yes, parents all over the world want to raise up good children.  Children that will grow up in to be productive, loving, hardworking individuals.  Parenting is hard.  No matter where you live.  The concepts and strategies we shared translated to yet another group of parents needing hope, encouragement and affirmation.  Being a part of that is something that has forever changed me.  Children and their parents have always been near and dear to my heart, but I now know that God has equipped me to take that love and knowledge to families near and far.  My heart was reminded that God will grant me the strength and words needed to do what He has called me to.  

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I was also so inspired by the work of PLH in the community of Camp Marie.  The clear vision and practical effort to empower Haitians there were both so evident.  So compelling.  I am so thankful to have played a small part in that vision.  I have been asked if I would go back to Haiti and my answer is a very LOUD and enthusiastic YES!  God is working……so glad we get to join Him in this work.

By Katie Walters

We live in an age where race, color, and culture are all very sensitive topics, and navigating them can be hard. Instead of embracing the difficulties in discussing the differences, we can easily just stay in our comfortable bubbles and let life roll on. I couldn’t do that in this moment. I couldn’t stay put. God called me to be a part of this team heading over to Haiti. And although it meant comfortability would be worn like a favorite jacket for a while, I wasn’t going to tell God no. Not this time. 

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We came together in prayer and honest conversations. What would this look like? What is God leading us to teach? Even though our skin and our culture may be different, we all want the best for the children in our lives. That fact doesn’t change across the miles. Instead of a parenting “conference,” we wanted to create an atmosphere that stimulated conversations within a community. We boiled down our thoughts into one driving force: we want to empower parents to build stronger families. And the work began… 

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At the end of our time together on the last day, a deacon of the church we were using spoke up. He said he wished everyone could hear what God had brought us here to teach. He said there were so many good things, and thanked us for coming. He brought a tear to my eye as he confirmed God brought us here. God opened the doors, and we are now all part of this community in Camp Marie, Haiti. 

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We handed out Jesus Storybook Bibles, in Creole, to every family who attended the conference. Everyone was leaving and saying goodbyes. I was holding onto a baby placed in my arms and loving every moment of it! I looked over and saw that same gentleman, the deacon, gently turning the pages of this children’s bible. His face said it all – joy. That moment, that face, and that feeling, is one I won’t forget. 


Project Living Hope’s Vision at Work

By Tammy Henderson

What a great trip to Haiti. I have been supporting and following Project Living Hope for the last 3 ½ years or so. Their vision for the Haitian people is amazing. They come alongside and encourage the Haitian people. Not to just do the work and provide them stuff, but to work alongside and to help them see a better future.

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What a great experience to be there and to see the property now that it has finally been acquired and excavated. Just standing on the property was a humbling experience. God has worked miraculously this last year through PLH in Haiti. 

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It was a wonderful to watch people enjoying the PLH property. Guesly and the other PLH staff are working alongside and encouraging the Haitian people to take pride in what they are doing. How humbling it is to watch and appreciate these families. I am feeling very blessed to have been apart of this trip.

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These are just a few stories of what God did through our team while in Haiti. It was powerful having the privilege to minister to the beautiful people we encountered. If you'd like to hear more, ask any of the PLH team members about their time and they will be sure to share with you even more.

MISSION EXPERIENCE UPDATES: SOCCER AND BASKETBALL TRAINING

In the midst of all the news about construction and the launching of our youth soccer program, we also had two teams visit Camp Marie to train soccer and basketball coaches.  Here is a brief synopsis of each trip.

Soccer

By Collin Box

January 2019

We started with seven of us driving to PDX in the pounding rain with 11 full-sized bags full of soccer equipment, not including our personal items. After nearly 24 hours, picking up other team members from Eugene, Colorado, and Kansas, we made it to our home for the next week just outside Camp Marie. The home was a hostel of sorts with 35 beds, of which our team took up 11, along with our driver, security and 10 Haitian coaches from Port-au-Prince who were there for the coaches training.

After catching up on some rest and settling in, we went to church in Montroius (pronounced Mowi) on Sunday morning. I had been to this church one year before, and as we sat on the hard wooden benches in the back of the concrete church building, Benedic, who I had met last year, opened the service.

After he said something in Kreyol, we began to sing. The highlight was a line from one of the songs - “Li Kapab” - He is able. The phrase stuck with me throughout the week.

After the service, we visited the Project Living Hope Property, had lunch, and then decided to head out to the field in Montrouis for a soccer game against the locals. This was by far the best American team I’ve played with down in Haiti, but the terrain still made it difficult. The game finished 3-0 in our favor.

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Our coaches training began the following morning and would continue through Friday. We had about 35 coaches at the training. In the morning, we met in a small church building right next to the road. Guesly brought a battery powered projector that allowed Aaron Lewis and myself to show some slides and video each day. We also were equipped with two 18”x24” white boards and a bag of mostly dried out markers. We had a classroom session assisted by several translators, and then spent part of our time on the basketball court across the street demonstrating drills. Intermixed with our coach education were some powerful devotionals and trainings on how to be a “coach de vie” - a life coach. The intention of Project Living Hope is to utilize soccer as a means to create community and make disciples. These trainings were provided by both Guesly and Thonny.

After lunch inside the church (which was getting pretty hot by that time), we had the coaches plan their session in small groups before heading over to the soccer field at the Project Living Hope property just down the road. We walked the mile down the newly completed road, side-by-side with the Haitian coaches as they offered us free Kreyol lessons. We also seemed to accumulate kids everywhere we walked. One of the days, I was walking towards a girl who must have been two years old as she announced over and over again, “Blanc! blanc! blanc! blanc!” (White, white, white, white!)

After school got out, the kids began to arrive. We had around 200 kids by the end of the week, who were divided into smaller group. The Haitian coaches took the lead as we gave a little advice and simply participated alongside. It is amazing how quickly relationships can happen with a ball at your feet.

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My biggest takeaways from the week:

  1. After coming for the first time to this community last year, it was incredible to see the amount of progress that has been made. One year ago we did our first coaches training in the area, had our first English classes, didn’t have a field to play on, and PLH did not have any staff living in the area. One year later, they have a soccer field, a road, weekly English classes for three different levels, four local staff coaches, two administrators, a land manager, a U23 league, and a youth soccer program. There are some great people on the board at PLH, but it is apparent to me that God is behind this and is very active in the community. The people are excited, and the culture is already changing.

  2. I was really impacted by the relationships we formed with the Haitian coaches and staff that we stayed with. I had met some of them before, but this time I felt like we really got to be with them and understand their way of life more than ever before.

  3. There was one night in particular where we were back at the house after a long day of soccer. After dinner, we had a devotional that Josh Noonkester led. Then one of the Haitian coaches spoke up and called out in front of everyone else, “Two of you are here who are not followers of Jesus. How can you claim to be a ‘life coach’ if you don’t know the One you are leading them to?” These two coaches then proceed to, in front of all 30 of us, tell everyone their reasons for not following Jesus and then both asked us to pray for them because they wanted to do so. It was a special night.

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Thank you to all of you for your prayers and support. It was a blessing to go and play a small part in helping empower Haitians to build a better Haiti.

To read more about the soccer mission experience here is a blog post written by Ryan Botkin who served on the team.

Basketball

By Tyler Butenscheon

March 2019

Empowering Haitians to Build a Stronger Haiti is the heartbeat of PLH. I saw this in right before my eyes on a trip to Camp Marie, Haiti in March. Every morning trained coaches were taught, encouraged and then released to lead their own kids basketball camp in the afternoon. Can empowerment be effective with that short of a turnaround? The answer is a resounding yes. 

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We had dozens and dozens of coaches that came out each day to the community basketball court right in the center of town. At the end of our training we had 35 coaches receive a coaching certificate. These are the coaches that were with us every day. They listened, worked hard and implemented our skills and leadership principles. Beyond that we had dozens of more coaches and community members who came out to watch and learn about basketball and PLH for one or more of our training days.  

Because of the draw of our coaches camp there were a couple of great scrimmage games that we got to be part of. One was the American coaches verses the Haitian coaches. The Haitians loved seeing how they matched up with us. Their skills are still developing but their athleticism and tenacity are phenomenal. The other game was two local adult Haitian teams that squared off against one another. This second match brought people out from everywhere in Camp Marie. The sidelines were filled with people 3 deep trying to get eyes on the game as we simply provided referees and cheered them on. What a beautiful site it was to see how sport can bring a community together and build relationships. 

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Part of our training with the coaches each day was an opportunity to remind them just how important the afternoon would be as they coached and led the kids camp. Sure, we taught them some fundamentals of the game (dribbling, passing, shooting, defense, rebounding, etc). And yes, we coached them in how to run drills to help kids practice and develop those skills in fun ways. But beyond that, and more importantly, we emphasized over and over how these coaches weren’t just coaching kids in a sport but they had opportunities to coach kids in life. They had the opportunity to empower the next generation to be the leaders necessary to change the course of Haiti. They had a platform to show the love of God and share the gospel of Christ. 

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We were amazed each afternoon as the coaches stepped up and led the kids camp. All in all there were 80-100 kids throughout the week who were led by these newly trained coaches. The coaches were passionately engaged in their interactions with kids. They were nurturing in their approach. They were wonderful examples of sportsmanship and hard work. Ultimately, they were great examples of Jesus to their players. The highlight of the kids camp was when the coaches specifically paused to gather the kids and teach them about Jesus. It wasn’t forced or awkward. It was simply coaches who were empowered and passionate about their first love, Jesus, and sharing him unashamedly. It was a beautiful site to see.  

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Athletics is one of 4 main areas we focus our work at PLH. We say, "Lives of young people can be drastically changed for the good when they become involved in an excellent, Christ-centered sports program.” We saw truth that first hand. We witnessed relationships blossom. We saw confidence rise. We experienced the love God among people. Basketball was the bridge we used to aide these endeavors. As one coach put it after receiving his certificate, “Thank you. You changed my life."

To read more about the basketball mission experience here is a blog post written by Jacob Biviano who served on the team.

PRAY FOR HAITI AND AN END TO PROTESTS

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Thank you for your support of Project Living Hope and the Haitian people.  We wanted to give you a brief update about the PLH construction work in Haiti and some of the events that have been happening in the country over the last few weeks.

We started the first phase of construction on our property at the beginning of February. Even though there were some setbacks, we had an incredibly successful first week.  We will be posting a second blog post with updates about the construction in a few days. We will have some great stories to share with you! Unfortunately, we were not able to proceed with the second week of work due to the continued national fuel shortage and protests that broke out throughout the country.  This cut off our supply of fuel to power our equipment and made it difficult for the organization housing our team to power their generators or replenish food and water supplies. We made the difficult call to halt the construction project until things return to normal and brought our excavation team members home to the US.  We are so thankful for the work that was completed, the commitment of the volunteers, and the safe journeys home.

Haiti has been experiencing inflated prices, fuel shortages, a drop in the value of the Haitian currency, and a lack of confidence in the government. This, along with opposing political parties trying to get back into power, led to 10 days of nationwide protests and roadblocks, beginning February 7th. The people are tired -- tired of living with a bad economy, government corruption, and roadblocks and protests. But it is not the general population that protests in the streets and causes roadblocks. These are mainly young, unemployed men who have been hired to shut down Haitian life to push an agenda. Workers sit at home losing their much needed pay, students miss days of school, hospitals run out of oxygen and other supplies, businesses and stores remain closed, and families run out of fuel, food, and drinking water.  

Though protests are a common occurrence in Haiti, this last round was more widespread and lasted longer than normal. Things have been a lot calmer this week (though many roads are still blocked), but we are waiting to see if it is just a respite or if this round of protests has died down. We will be assessing the situation over the next week and establishing a plan for the construction project and our upcoming visiting team trips. If widespread protests continue, we will not send visiting teams to Haiti as the roadblocks prohibit travel between Port-au-Prince and our community of Camp Marie. The safety of our visitors and Haitian staff is always our number one concern, and we also do not wish for those giving of their time to come down and not be able to experience Haiti fully. We are optimistic that the situation will continue to quiet down and we can resume with the project and planned trips.

Our community of Camp Marie and the surrounding areas remained fairly calm. Our staff helped care for our visitors, stepped up as the leaders they are within their community, and continued to move to advance the mission of Project Living Hope.  The Haitian people are hopeful and resilient. This is not the first time that they have had to deal with protests, nor will it be the last. In times like these, we see them come alongside and help support one another in amazing ways.

We ask you to continue to pray for Haiti. Even when these protests die down and life returns to normal, the issues will remain. There is much to be done in Haiti. When facing these situations, we are reminded that Haiti needs jobs. If these young men had employment, they would not be protesting. Haiti is facing many challenges, but we have faith that God can overcome these and we must faithfully continue the work that He is calling us to do -- to empower the Haitian people to build a stronger Haiti. Thank you for praying with us for positive change and forward movement.

Would you like to hear more about Guesly and Sara’s recent trip to Haiti, the construction project, the situation in Haiti, and how you can be praying? We have two opportunities for you to hear from Guesly and Sara firsthand and join us in prayer for the Haitian people:

  • Monday, February 25th at Foothills Church in Stayton at 6pm. Dessert will be served.

  • Monday, March 11th at Garden Way Church in Eugene at 7pm. Pie will be served

PLH Mass Grading Project: Groundbreaking News

GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY

February 2, 2019 was a monumental day, we broke ground on the Project Living Hope property and began the mass grading work that is needed for construction of the King Center! It’s a huge milestone and it’s only just the beginning!

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Project Living Hope Founder and President Guesly Dessieux, the Dessieux Family, Camp Marie Mayor, Mary Lourdes, the construction team, our Haitian Staff, and dozens of community members came out early Saturday morning to mark the occasion. This is an exciting new chapter and we are so thankful for all of your prayers and support that made this monumental day possible!

PLH President and Founder Guesly Dessieux standing on the first location to be at finish grade elevation.

PLH President and Founder Guesly Dessieux standing on the first location to be at finish grade elevation.

TIMELINE

We are tackling this project in phases as it is a large under-taking. Below is a rough idea of the project phases:  

MASS GRADING WORK

We are thankful for the volunteers and champions for giving their time, talent, and treasure. Progress has proceeded well so far. We have a committed and focused team with a great vision, and a welcoming community in Haiti. We have consulted with project managers, engineers and construction professionals. There is approximately 88,000 cubic yards of material that needs to be moved.  It has been estimated that it will take two-months to complete the grading and excavation of the site. We have skilled operators from the US working alongside Haitians to complete this project. We have had more than a dozen volunteers commit to the project and it’s been amazing to see God assemble the teams and work out all the many details. We are still recruiting for teams that will be traveling at the end of February and early March. We are specifically looking for people experienced in operating D7 bulldozer, 336 excavator, 966 front loader, roller, and haul truck.  We will also need the leadership of a project manager / site superintendent to manage the work, and a surveyor or grade checker to help make sure the grading work is completed according to plan. The trip costs approximately $1500 per person, which includes airfare, accommodations, food and transportation. All travel arrangements will be taken care of by Project Living Hope. If you cannot afford the cost, but are willing to donate your time, we have some scholarships available. If you are interested in being on a team or supporting a team member, please contact us.  A ton of planning, preparing, organizing and prayer has gone into this project and we are so thankful for everyone that has helped make this possible!

Would you like to give a one-time or monthly gift designated to the building fund?

August Mission Experience: Building Relationships

By Amy Bentz

On August 1, 2018 our team departed PDX and began our journey to Haiti. Our team consisted of twelve members coming from all over Oregon. The main purpose of our trip was vision casting and building relationships within the community of Camp Marie, Haiti, the community where Project Living Hope is based. Because we believe Christ intended relationships to be the building blocks for change, we want to be known as an organization rooted in relationships.

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The first stop on our trip was to The National Museum of Haiti, where we learned about the history and the people of Haiti.

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Our next stop was Extollo, an organization we are partnering with. We currently have four men from the community of Camp Marie enrolled in their masonry program. We toured the facility and were able to see first-hand the ways they are teaching and empowering Haitians to learn masonry and carpentry skills.

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We arrived at our guest house that evening. The Ortlip guest house is located 10 minutes from Camp Marie in the neighboring town of Montrouis. It’s a beautiful location and we enjoyed our first Haiti sunset.

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Day two, Julia began giving violin lessons. The students were eager and learned so much!

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Then we hiked the PLH property and picked some watermelon to have with lunch!

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We ended our day with a cooking class. We first shopped for the ingredients in a Haitian market. Then we worked side-by-side with Haitians and learned how to prepare plantains, bread fruit, and pikliz. It was a great experience, we all enjoyed working together to prepare the food and then eating together. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip!

On day three, we attended church in Camp Marie. Pastor Marcel delivered a beautiful sermon on the importance of a strong church - one with spirit-filled leadership, doctrinally sound messages, uncompromising convictions, a strong emphasis on faith and prayer, faithful and generous giving, people who serve in the strength of their spiritual gifts and who value relationships, and a vision for the lost world. The worship was beautiful and our own team member, Julia, played violin with the worship team.

After church, we walked into town, visited a few of the PLH staff members’ homes and met their families. We also were able to introduce the team to the magistrate of Camp Marie, Marielourdes. She welcomed our team and expressed how excited she is to be working with PLH.

After lunch, we set out for the Olympic Center to watch a soccer game. After we arrived, a tropical storm blew in and the game had to be canceled. It was quite a storm! It even hailed, which is a very rare occurrence in Haiti. The children were running outside and catching it in their hands and eating it. While we didn’t get to see a soccer game, there was no shortage of entertainment. A group of young men entertained us with some street dancing.

Day four, our team split up. One group stayed in Camp Marie and the other traveled into Port-au-Prince. Mike and Julia had their second day of violin lessons. The church’s music director was there helping the kids learn and his son took lessons that day.

Brad, Walky and Ian took video and measurements of the road. They got to speak with Marielourdes, the magistrate, about our equipment needs and plans for the road. They also got to meet a number of community members who live near where the road will be built.

The rest of the team visited GOEX and LIFE SA, two apparel production facilities. We met our operations manager, Thonny Fabien there, so he could see the two companies that make t-shirts and sports uniforms.

In the afternoon, we went to a village near Croix-de-Bouquets where a number of artisans make and sell metal pieces made from old oil drums.

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Day five, half the team went to Port-au-Prince while the other half of the team stayed to work on the road and for day three of violin lessons.

The team that stayed in Camp Marie visited Clean Water for Haiti and the PLH property. They were promised that the equipment for the road would be available on the weekend, so the Camp Marie team offered to go talk to the director of ODVA (the department in charge of road building in Haiti) to discuss our needs. While they were there, they worked out an agreement to send a bulldozer down to widen and extend the road to our property the very next day! Praise the Lord!

The Port-au-Prince group went to two companies, Haiti Design Co. and Deux Mains. We took an artisan workshop where we got to learn how to make Haitian jewelry.

Day six was our last full day in Camp Marie. Before we left for Camp Marie, one of our Haitian team members, Obenson, led our team in a prayer for the road.

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I think we were all nervous that it wouldn’t actually happen. But, when we got to Camp Marie, the bulldozer was there! He cleared the road while the community members watched and cheered!! Praise the Lord for His plans that happen in His time.

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All the violin students came together for one last lesson. Two were able to play “Twinkle,  Twinkle Little Star” for us. And Julia gave the students a mini recital to show them what they are striving for.

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In all, the PLH vision trip was a tremendous success.  We were welcomed into the community and the relationships that were established further unified PLH and the community of Camp Marie. It was exciting to be a part of this trip and to see God work through our team.

We gathered together yesterday, with our families, one month after returning home, to reflect on our trip and celebrate the relationships we established as a team and with the beautiful people of Haiti.

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We praise God for opened doors that allowed for the road to be built out to our property.  Having access to the property is huge and will now allow for soil testing to be done, getting us one step closer to construction! Our soccer teams have been doing well and we just launched our young men’s league on August 12. Our English classes will resume in September and we look forward to expanding into new job skills and sports in the upcoming months. Thank you for your faithful support of Project Living Hope!

Breaking News: Road Construction is Underway

By Sarah Comstock

The King Center property that Project Living Hope purchased last Fall is located just a half-mile from Route 1. For all intents and purposes, this is the only passable road between the Northern city of Cap-Haitian and the capital, Port-au-prince.  This makes the location ideally situated. The ease of access it has to many major cities will, in the unfortunate event of a disaster, mean we are in the best place to make the greatest difference.

When we bought the land, we made an agreement with the farmers and the City that they would carve out a wider, more drivable road between Route 1 and our property.

Until this week, there was a just a small footpath leading off the dirt road through the town of Camp Marie to our property. But this week, they started road construction!

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Through her government connections, the mayor of Camp Marie, Marie Lourdes, made arrangements to get the necessary equipment, and the community members worked together to make this possible. We are excited for this new development because we have a construction team heading down in August.  We will now be able to get vehicles, large equipment and constructions supplies to our property more efficiently.

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If you’ve been with us to Haiti, talked to a PLH board or staff member, read previous blog posts, or been to a fundraising event, we hope you see we are taking a different approach to the ministry of poverty alleviation.  Where many, well-intentioned organizations fail is that their donations and assistance create a cycle of dependency that keeps the people they are serving coming back for more. There is a time and place for relief aid that provides for the immediate needs of the people we are working with.  In the case of a natural disaster or a similar crisis, relief is the right help. To really be successful, however, we must move into a partnership role with the people we are serving.

We must focus our efforts on long-term development, rather than immediate relief. Which is why we are partnering with the community members to work together on this project.

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They are starting excavation on the road, then we hope to bring in professionals that can train them to build drainage and pave the road. Without their involvement, the King Center will only ever be Project Living Hope’s project.  But with their efforts, this will be Camp Marie’s project. We are taking the time to build relationships, get to know the strengths and weaknesses of the community members, and work with them to accomplish the goals that are best for them.  We are joining their community!

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As progress continues to move forward, we have new needs and prayer request that we are hoping you, our Champions, can help us with:

  • We have a construction team going down in August but are still looking for a few more team members.  Do you have experience or know of someone who has experience in construction, operating heavy equipment or training others to do so? Our plan for August is to clear a portion of the land that we plan to build on and to start putting up fencing on our property. We would love your help with this.  We have a second construction trip scheduled for the first week in December. If August is too soon for you but you would still like to help, consider signing up to go in December. Learn more here.

  • Although the road is starting to take shape, we will need some help making it better. We need to set up a drainage system to make sure that the road stays as dry as possible during the rainy season and we are also considering paving it or adding gravel.  Your prayers and support in this regard would be helpful. Do you have skills in this area or do you know of an individual or a company who might be interested in helping us with the road? Email us.

  • Finally, please pray for the community leaders, including the mayor Marie Lourdes. Pierre Descieux, our Director of Operations in Haiti, has been in regular communication with Mrs. Lourdes and other community members.  Pray that these relationships will continue to flourish as we work together.

January Mission Experience: Planting Seeds of Hope

Last month several people from Oregon served with us down in Camp Marie, Haiti.  They were involved with training coaches, running soccer camp, teaching English and building relationships.  Read reflections from three of them below.

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From Collin Box:

One moment that really stood out to me was the last night of our soccer programs in Camp Marie. One of the coaches called to me, "Coach!" I looked over and saw him extend his arm toward me, holding a freshly opened coconut, his machete in the other hand. 

As I shared fresh coconut juice with several of the other Haitian coaches on the sideline, I took a moment to observe the lopsided, gravel-covered field. Before the practice began I had spent several minutes pulling glass shards and rusty nails from the center of the field. But now, the field was bursting with joy. Each coach was working with their group, with nearly 200 players filling the pitch. One of the coaches was leading his group of girls in a song as they cheered on and waited their turn. Parents were watching on the sidelines. Even the mayor of the town made an appearance. 

I spoke with Benedict, one of the lead coaches from Camp Marie. He said to me, "You are the first group to come here and do something meaningful for our community. Other groups have come and taken from us, but you have helped bring our community together and are giving hope to the children.” 

 

From Arsinio Walker:

It was an exciting and very humbling experience… would do it again in a heartbeat! 

My Favorite Moment.

My Favorite Moment.

It was right after a scrimmage with some of the locals and I sat down on the field to take my shoes off. Josiah (Sara and Guesly’s son) was sitting with me at this moment. At first, a couple of kids came up to me asking questions in creole. I tried to explain that I don’t know the language, but then a kid who is bilingual started translating all the questions for me. One kid asked, “are you Haitian?” I chuckled a bit and explained that I was Jamaican…that I lived right next door. He replied “oh, you’re from Africa?” It was so cute and funny so I told him, yes we all are. After a while, a flock of children started coming around us out of curiosity. They all shouted their questions. Some asking if I’m professional soccer player, how many kids I have, what are my parents name, etc. I tried my best to answer each question, but my little Haitian translator had left. This particular experience humbled me in many ways. I realized the love these kids had for outsiders and how innocent and funny they can be. They treated us all equally; not depending on age, sex, or color. Through this experience, I can say that  I have hope for the future generation of Haiti.

 

From Julie Williams:

I attended a dessert banquet for PLH last fall.  At that event, the closing speaker said, Haiti will capture your heart – there is a place for you – so ask the Lord to guide you in what skills, talents or passions you have that might be helpful in Haiti.  Based on that prayer, an opportunity opened up for me to go to Haiti this January and help with the initial assessment and set up of English teaching classes in the town of Camp Marie.  The Lord was gracious to provide a fun and diversified team for me to partner with during our week in Haiti.  Some used their skills to teach and coach soccer and others worked with the English teaching.  We all felt a sense of unity in purpose and love for the people of Haiti.  

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Gerald from Haiti was my partner and translator in teaching the English Classes.  A highlight for me was the opportunity to work alongside this young man.  He proved to be quite proficient in English, very flexible and responsible.   Not knowing what to expect we began classes in the morning at the hotel where we were staying and then again in afternoon in a community school room in the town of Camp Marie.   Attendance and interest grew steadily as the week progressed.  Our English classes focused on simple vocabulary, conversations and games.   It was so fun working with these motivated students.    By the end of the week the students made it clear that they wanted the classes to continue.   They were delighted to find out that even though their American teachers had to leave, the classes could continue in Gerald’s capable hands.  

English skills help Haitians have more employment opportunities.  Project Living Hope seeks to empower Haitians to build a stronger Haiti.   It is now my privilege to continue praying for the fruit of the English classes and to encourage Gerald as he continues the great beginning in Camp Marie.

Much More Than Basketball

Every week on the Haitian Christian Mission campus, youth are connecting with each other and with Christian mentors around the games of soccer and basketball through the Play It Forward sports program.  Earlier this month, four guys from Oregon had the opportunity to take part in that program, both teaching and learning as they went along.  Levi Wilson and Ben Comstock along with Levi's son Cameron and Ben's son Droiy traveled down to Haiti with the intention of helping train basketball coaches and lead basketball camp.  While there, they learned that the week was about much more than basketball.

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Each day they met with about 30 coaches on the porch of the Haitian Christian Mission guesthouse.  Thonny Fabien, director of Play It Forward, started off each session with 1-2 hours of leadership training, a key element of his program.

After that, Ben and Levi had the opportunity to train the coaches for a few hours both at their desks and on the court.  One day they spent several hours teaching about calls and refereeing.  

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Then each afternoon they had around 20 Play It Forward players come for basketball camp.  During the camp, many of the coaches jumped in and helped with the kids.  Ben and Levi took down 100 reversible blue and white jerseys for the coaches to use in their programs.  They make it easy to form two teams and start a game.  

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They were also able to take down 60 pairs of donated basketball shoes, including 30 brand new pairs donated by Nike.  These shoes will belong to Play It Forward and the staff will distribute them to all players before games.  That way, students eager to improve as players will always have shoes to wear on the court.  The team also brought down 50 basketballs that were distributed to the coaches.

"Coaching and playing basketball was a lot of fun for the kids, for the coaches, and for us," Ben explains, "but this week was about much more than basketball. It was about creating relationships and equipping the Haitian coaches with the leadership skills needed to make an impact with kids back in their own communities."  Ben and Levi got to see firsthand just what the purpose of Play It Forward is.

"Thonny is doing amazing work with the kids and coaches. It is evident that he is loved and respected by everyone that he is in contact with," Ben shares.  Levi adds, "He commands respect from every Haitian I saw him interact with. He is extremely genuine, intelligent, and focused without having any air of self-absorption. This is one of the highest caliber men I've met in my life."

The Play It Forward program has already had a positive impact in Haiti and that will continue behind leaders like Thonny.  You are helping make this possible through partnering with Project Living Hope.

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