Tag Archives: story

Giving thanks always and continually

fall

Oh fall. If you were only with me in Haiti. Taken in Colorado in October.

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States and although today is like any other day for us in Haiti, I can’t help but reflect on the whole giving thanks thing.    All in all I have a lot to be thankful for—food to eat, a roof over my head, a loving wife, genuine community, and good health for starters.

This isn’t always true but in general I wonder if it is easier to pick out what we’re thankful for when we’re encouraged to do so on one particular day.

But what about the other 364 days of the year?

This is what I’m asking myself this morning—how am I doing with giving thanks with a grateful heart on all the non-Thanksgiving days?  And if I could add up the moments when I expressed my gratitude on these other 364 days, how many of those would have been during a moment when all is well and in order compared to the chaotic or discouraging moments?

A friend of ours recently wrote about remaining thankful despite the valleys we sometimes find ourselves in.  I found her words encouraging and relevant to the questions I’ve been asking.  She shared the following verse:

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Always.  Continually.  All circumstances.  Give thanks not just on one day and not just haphazardly either but do it well, do it often, and do it with rejoicing.

What a beautiful and hopeful calling.  I’m choosing to trust that today on Thanksgiving and on all the other days of the year, God will give me the strength and grace necessary to live out this calling through Christ Jesus.

I’m also encouraged by people here in Haiti like Manoucha.  We recently visited this young woman who has faced tough challenges yet still manages to keep moving forward.

Crabier, Goats HTK 19-11-14_106

Manoucha shows off her beautiful smile.

We met her for the first time in the summer of 2013 after she received a goat through World Concern’s Hope to Kids program.  The program is meant to provide students with a goat—and therefore a source of income—which can help them pay for school and meet their basic needs.

Crabier, Goats HTK 19-11-14_094

Manoucha walks from her church to her home in the seaside village of Crabier, Haiti.

Manoucha is a little old for her grade at school.  As a 20-year-old she is in the same grade as her 16-year-old sister, Dieunike, because health issues in past years have kept her out of school and at home.

“Now I am well but sometimes I still get sick which means I cannot go to school or work,” Manoucha said.

It hasn’t been an easy road however she was able to begin school this year on time, for the second year in a row, and is now only two years away from graduating high school!

“I choose to keep giving effort at school so that I can one day help my family,” she said.  “I want to study to become a nurse because I like this.  Then if someone in my family is sick I can help them.”

Manoucha is already finding ways to help her family.  Her goat has given offspring and she gave one of the kids to her sister Dieunike so she can also benefit.   The gift of one goat has a multiplying effect within this family.  It is encouraging to see Manoucha continue to persevere despite her challenges.

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Manoucha with her sisters Dieunika (middle) and Nadine (far right) outside their house.

 

Crabier, Goats HTK 19-11-14_129

Dieunika and her goat.

The call to “rejoice always” in 1 Thessalonians is for all of us whatever season of life we find ourselves in. This is an important reminder for me today but also for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows in this next year and I hope it gives you hope as well.

Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends and family.

A story I didn’t write

noel

Noel (right) and another colleague at our office in Port-au-Prince.

Loyalty and perseverance.  Makings of a great story.  These are the common themes in Josette’s story, a small business owner and World Concern microcredit client in Port-au-Prince.

I’m happy to share with you the story of Josette below, thanks to the hard work of Noel, one of our colleagues.  He is one of the Microcredit Promoters, which means  he and the other promoters are in the streets, markets and squares of Port-au-Prince almost daily, engaging with clients and offering them support and encouragement.  Here’s a story from one of the clients he visits on a regular basis.

Port-au-Prince, Josette Cézair ACLAM_1

Josette Cézair (left) is one of the most loyal and honest customers of our Microcredit Program.  For more than seven years, this woman has been working in this way. Despite the many difficulties that our country knows, she has always been disciplined and faithful to her commitments.

She was a victim of the Tabarre (neighborhood of Port-au-Prince) market fire in 2012 where she lost everything, including her merchandise.  Josette had many responsibilities, especially to her family and she did not know which way to turn.  Finally, like manna from heaven, she received a loan through World Concern’s emergency refinancing program allowing her to gradually regain her regular activities.

Now she has reached her ninth loan of 200,000 gourdes (approximately $4,500 USD) and thanks to this loan has completely re-launched her regular activities.

Thank you, Noel, for sharing with us this remarkable story.  Not only is this a great story, it represents a small victory for us as we work towards more teamwork as well.

In June we shared on our blog about our desire to collaborate more with the staff in Haiti who engage with beneficiaries often.  We gave them training and resources so they can help us gather photos and stories of the people World Concern is serving.

We said that through this process we hope to (a) create a spirit of collaboration, (b) further develop the skills of our co-workers in the areas of photography and interviewing, and (c) capture more stories to show our supporters exactly what we’re doing and who we’re serving.  On all three accounts we’re seeing slow but steady progress.

 

Stories and Photos: We need help!

Recently there was something a little different going on just outside the World Concern office in Port-au-Prince.  One of our co-workers was ‘pushing’ a parked van, another was ‘washing’ their hands under a faucet, and you could see someone else ‘watering’ the plants.  They weren’t actually pushing, washing, and watering; they were having their pictures taken.  We were practicing photography!

noel washing

It’s exciting to work toward something with others.  It’s also important to recognize when you need help.  Martha and I have realized we need to put more energy into collaborating with and leaning on our co-workers here at World Concern when it comes to stories and photos.

We all need photos and stories.  Our co-workers write reports of their activities and insert photos and write short stories about the people they are serving.  We do the same, primarily for fundraising and advocacy purposes in the U.S.  So why, we asked ourselves, don’t we work together more on this?

Since the introduction of our communication liaison position a year and a half ago, we have seen an increase in the quantity and quality of stories and photos collected in-country, but we know we could accomplish more if we worked even closer with the World Concern staff that are interacting with people in the field each week.

By working with our co-workers to create a system of storing and sharing collected information and exposing them to some tips and tricks of interviewing and photography, we hope to (a) create a spirit of collaboration, (b) further develop the skills of our co-workers in these areas, and (c) capture more stories to show our supporters exactly what we’re doing and who we’re serving.

We recently held our first training session on all this with our microcredit co-workers in Port-au-Prince and we had a little fun with photography practice.  They will each collect a story with photos in the next month and we’ll meet again in July to see what went well and what can be improved.  To make it even more exciting, we are having a little contest to see who conducts the best interview and takes the best photos.

Martha 1

Martha sharing about why we collect stories and photos.

They say that two minds are better than one.  Well how about a whole team full of creativity.  We’re excited to see how this journey of working together to collect stories continues to progress.

lesly & van

austin & staff 2

Checking out the finished product.

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Role playing!

Eloude & Loulou

Driving through Tapion.

Driving through Tapion.

In the coastal village of Tapion in southern Haiti lives a sweet, soft spoken woman named Eloude.  She and her husband Loulou have five children and have lived in Tapion for just over 15 years.

I first met Eloude and her family in June of this year.

In October 2012 Hurricane Sandy ripped through southern Haiti destroying more than 18,000 homes.  Eloude and Loulou’s home was left largely intact however the roof was completely destroyed.  World Concern helped them put on a new tin roof and also gave Eloude some cash to get her small business up and running again.

This was a family that left an impression.  Honestly not everyone does.  I meet many people and some interactions are impactful and others are indifferent.  However their relaxed and inviting nature, coupled with good conversation is what made the difference.

Eloude and Loulou outside their home.

Eloude and Loulou outside their home.

Well last week I got to visit Eloude and Loulou again which was awesome.  Martha and I were traveling with a colleague from Seattle and a couple donors from California in the south and stopped to see them.

Four months on since I first met Eloude and Loulou they are doing okay.  All five of their kids are attending school this year at the national school down the road which they’re proud of.  They are also adding on to their house slowly.  Eloude continues to run her small business on the road in front of their house selling pate, a popular Haitian snack, and other items.

Several years ago Loulou received a cow from World Concern through an animal husbandry project.  At the time he decided to sell his cow and use the income to purchase a motorcycle which he uses to this day as a moto taxi; giving rides to people from Tapion to the city of Les Cayes which is the largest in southern Haiti.  This consistent source of income is huge for the family.

“It [income] allows me to send my kids to school and give them food,” explained Loulou.

Although the motorcycle is still serving him well, Loulou said that people prefer to ride newer moto taxis so that’s a challenge for him.

“They say mine is granmoun,” he chuckled.  Granmoun is the word typically used to describe an elder or older person.

This family is an example of how World Concern stays involved with people over time.  Dips in private giving and grant cycles that inevitably end are challenges of course but the goal is to continue to invest in the same families and communities, and it’s encouraging to see that play out in the life of Eloude and Loulou.

As I revisit people and churches and communities that I’ve been to previously it brings a lot of joy to see relationships form.  My Creole is far from perfect but improving (albeit slowly) which really opens up lots of doors relationally which is exciting.  Not sure when I’ll see Eloude and Loulou again but I hope it’s sooner rather than later.

Eloude, sporting her huge smile, and her children.

Eloude, sporting her huge smile, and her children.

Reflections on prayer and a car wash

day of prayer - praying

Praying as a staff at the World Concern Haiti office.

After having spent three days in southern Haiti last week, Martha and I hurried back to Port-au-Prince for World Concern’s annual global day of prayer on Thursday.  This was our first time to participate in this day and we were glad that we got to.  In the busyness of work and life it is so refreshing to spend an entire day with colleagues praying, singing and hanging out.  The purpose of the day was to give thanksgiving for the previous fiscal year (ours ends in June), pray for the upcoming one, and also pray for the people we work with.

We began the day with a combination of scripture reading, prayer, singing, testimonies from staff about the past year, and more prayer.  When we sing together, someone almost always brings print outs of the lyrics which I’m grateful for since my French is subpar.  Oh and another interesting tidbit is that most singing in church in Haiti is in French not Creole and in most churches in Port-au-Prince French is used in the sermons as well.  Anyway, I recognize some of the tunes but there are also other songs that are completely new to me.  Haitians sing loud and proud.  Their voices together are strong and resounding. Sometimes I try and sing along but other times it is nice to just listen.  Here is a little video from our day of prayer last week while we were singing to give you an idea.

[vimeo 69688867]
See what I mean?!  It’s really incredible to be surrounded by all that powerful singing.

The second part of our day, we visited a church nearby that has a cool ministry for street kids.  This was a chance to hear about how one church is reaching out to people in their neighborhood and pray for them.  The pastor of the church was there, along with about 15 kids that he is working with.

If you have spent any time in Port-au-Prince and have driven around, you have likely had a young guy come up to your car when stopped and ‘offer’ to give it a wipe down.  By ‘offer’ I actually mean they just start doing it and if you don’t wave them off repeatedly, you better have some money nearby.  These are the kids that the pastor at this church saw frequently on the street outside his church.  Some of these kids have parents, some don’t, some have a place to stay, and some are just on their own.  Before they met the pastor, most were not attending school and they spent their days dodging traffic trying to earn some money wiping down cars at intersections.

So the pastor, wanting to know these kids situation better, decided to get to know them.  This was in 2009.  At first, they didn’t want anything to do with him because they thought he was trying to take advantage of them or something.  After three months of talking to them, a few agreed to come in the church and chat.  The pastor said it helped that he usually had some food to share with them.  Over time the pastor built a relationship with about 15 of these kids and they began to trust him more.  He gave them food when he could, talked to them and told them about the Bible.  But he also had an idea of how to get them in school and at the same time give them an opportunity to earn money—a car wash.  He pitched his idea to the kids.

“I will help you start a car wash which each of you can work at.  With the money earned together, we’ll pay for everyone’s school and whatever is left will be split among you.”

The kids agreed and the work of setting up a car wash began.  At first it was a very small thing but the pastor eventually got the local magistrate to donate a piece of land and he found funding to build a building on the property and purchase the needed materials like a power washer, soap, cloths, water, etc.  Now the car wash is a fully functioning business, all of the 15 or so kids he originally began working with are in school, and they each are paid a wage for their work.  During the school year, the kids work on the weekends in shifts.  The car wash has plenty of room for growth but right now it is meeting the needs of the kids as originally envisioned.

To hear firsthand from several of these kids about the difference they see in their lives both spiritually and economically now compared with four years ago is amazing.  After meeting them at the church and hearing their stories, some of the World Concern staff members stood up to share a bit of encouragement with the kids.  After that someone from World Concern prayed for the church and the kids, and one of the kids prayed for World Concern.  Then we all ate lunch together and afterwards walked over to the car wash to see this thing for ourselves.  It was attractive from the outside and the property was well kept after walking through the gate.  There was one concrete ramp built for cars to drive up and a couple power washers nearby.  Inside the small building on the property was a shop selling beverages and random car accessories.

day of prayer - church

At the church praying with the pastor and kids.

Ourselves and the staff made our way back to the office and gathered again in the conference room.  Then we went around in a circle and each person shared about something from the day.  It was so encouraging!  We closed the day with more prayer for the church and those kids, then some of the staff members started discussing how we as a staff we could continue to bless and encourage those kids.  Not sure what they will come up with but it was certainly an impactful day for everyone.

Personally, there were three things that I took away from this day.

  1. Both personal and collective spiritual health is so important.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in work and everything else that goes on and forget my own spiritual life.  I realize (frequently) my need for Christ however I struggle to consistently set aside time and energy to pursue my relationship with him.  A colleague here in Haiti recently said, “We work out our bodies and eat and brush our teeth and everything but we also need to take care of our soul!”  Couldn’t have said it better.  Likewise, we cannot neglect the spiritual health of the community.  I’m thankful that each morning the World Concern staff gathers for a quick prayer together.  No better way to start the day.  I think it’s powerful when a group of people are working toward the same goal and all agree that God must be at the center.  This day of prayer was a good investment in the spiritual health of the staff here.
  2. I need to be intentional with people and persistent like the pastor was in pursuit of those kids.  It took three months for the pastor to get the kids to even talk to him.  What if he had given up after one or two?  I admire his relentlessness and want to also be more intentional.
  3. Haitian led interventions are here and are working; you just have to look for them.  There is so much more to Haiti than a rough history, poorly spent aid dollars, lots of missionaries, and poverty.  But if you are not familiar with Haiti and rely on the news for your information, it is no wonder this is what you would believe.  Unfortunately these kids’ story may never make it on CNN but what is happening in the lives of those 15 young people tells a different story than what you typically hear from the media.  This is encouraging and should be celebrated.  This story shows us that even with limited resources and no outside help initially, a sustainable Haitian led ministry is possible and can succeed.  We (the church, international community, foreigners, NGOs) should do everything possible to support these types of interventions without getting in the way.  Easier said than done of course but we must have that vision and start somewhere.

Contrasts – Beauty & Injustice

In Haiti I am finding there are contrasts.  On one hand you see natural and human beauty, life, color, intrigue, laughter, and hope.  On the other is disparity, injustice, limited resources, and struggle.  The impression I get is that life is both precious and wonderful but also difficult and full of challenges.

I hope in this post, and in anything I write, to show both sides and provide accurate, honest observations.  If I focus primarily on the immense poverty, that is indeed real, I am not telling the complete story.  Likewise if I speak only of the moments of roaring laughter (also very real), and success and good times, then I am obviously living outside of reality.  If you hear tension in my words, that is okay; it is there.  As Martha and I adjust to living in a new culture and learning a new language, we are also adjusting to having the responsibility to communicate most truthfully what life is like here for the Haitians we are fortunate enough to meet.  As you can imagine this is a process that we are working out each day.

It is a great journey to be on because we are constantly learning new and interesting things.  I want to grow in my ability to accurately present the contrast (both sides) of life I see in Haiti so the best and most honest portrayal of Haitians can emerge.  They deserve it.  I share all this with you just to provide some insight into our process of becoming better and more well rounded storytellers.  Thanks for listening.

Office Sign_SE Haiti DRR1Martha and I returned recently from a trip to southeast Haiti that I think shows this contrast.  Haiti has ten Departments (think States or Provinces), the South East Department being one.  In the southeast, World Concern is meeting the needs of people through disaster response, disaster preparedness, and micro-credit.  We joined Bunet, World Concern’s Disaster Risk Reduction Coordinator, on this trip to see how we are providing clean water and preparing communities for future disasters.

I want to share with you about the commune (think collection of small communities) of Grand Gosier.  Grand Gosier is a rather isolated commune, near the sea and near the Dominican Republic border.  One reason it is so isolated is because of the poor condition of the road that leads to it.  From Jacmel, the big city in southeast Haiti, you must travel approximately 84 kilometers east to reach Grand Gosier.

Those 84 kilometers took us over four hours.  While rock crawling at a snails pace can be exhausting, the views are stunning.  This is one contrast I noticed on the trip–you have poor infrastructure yet stunning natural beauty.

Water_Grand Gosier SE 1

Once we arrived in Grand Gosier, we caught up with Pierre; the coordinator for the project in this commune.  He explained that the water system for the area, which includes new piping and water collection points, had been damaged by a storm in 2007.  Since then those not fortunate to live close to the water source have been forced to spend a lot of time and energy walking to reach water.  Even while we were visiting with Pierre, children and women walked past us carrying water.  All kinds of jugs, bottles, and containers are used to transport water.  Occasionally we saw someone guiding a donkey, loaded down with water, but the majority of people were walking.  It was early afternoon, and limited cloud cover meant it was a hot and dusty journey for them.  Soon, those long journey’s will not be necessary.  Once finished, the project will provide nine water collection points throughout the commune which will shorten the walk to water for many.

Women on their way home stop to watch the on-going water system work.

Women on their way home stop to watch the water system construction.

The long walk.

The long walk

As we were listening to Pierre speak about the project, I wondered what precautions were being taken to ensure that this time the water system will be more resilient against the next storm.  Unfortunately, hurricanes and heavy storms are all too common in southeast Haiti.  Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy in 2012 are the most recent reminders of the devastation such storms can cause.  Combined these two storms killed 87 and affected 205,623 people.  We cannot stop the rains and winds from coming, however we can be sure that communities are prepared as best as possible.

New metal pipes looking shiny in the sun.

New metal pipes looking shiny in the sun.

Pierre explained that the prior water system had used PVC for the piping, but his team is working to replace all the PVC with metal.  Though a seemingly small step, using metal  will be a huge step towards increasing the system’s and the community’s resiliency.

 

 

Girls fill up their containers with water at the community's lone water source.  Soon water from this source will be transported through pipes to other water points making collecting water easier on these girls.

Girls fill up their containers with water at the community’s lone water source. Soon water from this source will be transported through pipes to other water points making collecting water easier on these girls.

There is another contrast I saw.  It is dry season right now and therefore you have the land which at times looks tired and thirsty, yet you also have a water source waiting to be released and delivered to people throughout Grand Gosier.  When the repairs and construction are completed, this water system will provide clean water to people whatever storm or dry spell comes their way.

There is more I want to share from our trip to Grand Gosier and also someone I want to introduce, but I will close for now before this turns into a book.  Stay tuned for more about how World Concern is impacting lives in southeast Haiti.

 

Capturing transformation

Check out this new video from World Concern!  Photography and video are wonderful tools to use when telling a story.  Our hope is to use multimedia to better communicate with you about the ongoing and enriching work of World Concern in Haiti.  Martha and I are excited to introduce you to the vibrant and hopeful Haiti we have come to know.  Thank you for your partnership in transforming communities in Haiti.

Note: Props to the great communication team at World Concern for creating this video

Rebuilding a country and a home

It has been nearly two and a half years since the earthquake that devastated much of the capital and surrounding areas.  Those 30 or so seconds caused so much damaged and affected so many families.  The work of healing and recovery continues, however we witnessed some of the progress in Port au Prince.  As we drove away from Toussaint Louverture International Airport, the car met smooth pavement as we turned onto one of the capital’s main roads that has been repaired.  Lining this road were solar powered street lights which show the way for drivers after sundown.

In Port au Prince, World Concern has been particularly involved the last couple years in rebuilding homes.  There has been a lot of criticism, some more valid than others, of the international community and Haitian government for failing (or not moving fast enough) to sufficiently house the estimated 1.5 million Haitians displaced by the quake.  For me, as a newcomer to the country, I was hoping on this trip to simply listen a lot and see what I could discover first hand about the challenges and successes.  The situation is far from simple and 1.5 million people is a lot of people.  It is impossible to fully understand the complexities surrounding the recovery process in one short week, however I was grateful for the time we did have to meet individuals affected by the quake and hear from our staff about World Concern’s role in providing a home for families.

We met Lucmireille, a 34 year old mother of two.  Her temporary shelter sits on top of a small nub of a hill at the end of a curvy gravel road.  Our jeep worked hard to get up the steep road and I thought of Lucmireille and her neighbors who make that hike on foot.  Although some major roads in the capital are well paved, small neighborhood streets like Lucmireille’s remain rocky.  As we approached her home, I noticed the view.  The hill provides a nice, wide view of the city below.  Port au Prince Bay seemed close and the hot sun gave its’ water a blue tint.  There were several moments during our week in Haiti, like this one outside Lucmireille’s home, where I stopped long enough to admire the beauty of the place.  I’m glad I did.

Like many others, Lucmireille and her family fled to the countryside following the earthquake.  The countryside provided safety and peace from the chaos of the capital.  Life was hard though, as resources outside the city are often more limited.  So her family returned to Port au Prince, even though they knew they could not afford to rebuild their home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the summer of 2011, the World Concern staff met Lucmireille and soon her home was rebuilt.  “We now have better security, since the shelter was built,” says Lucmireille.

 

She went on to say, “If you don’t have a house, you have to do whatever you can for yourself.”  Although Lucmireille continues to face challenges, she is thankful for the shelter and is happy that her oldest child is in school.

 

When you think about the quake and the devastation as a whole, and of the millions of Haitians affected, you get overwhelmed.  Meeting Lucmireille showed me that although life is not easy, there are small victories that deserve to be recognized and celebrated.  I hope you too can celebrate the fact that Lucmireille has a place to call home and be encouraged that although not immediate, change is happening.

Haiti Day 5 – In Action

Martha and I spent the day talking with farmers and cow herders.  These individuals in rural, southwest Haiti are hard working and enjoyable.  What a pleasure to listen and hear of their challenges and successes.  There is certainly power in a story.  Martha and I desire to come alongside individuals and communities in Haiti to provide an avenue to express their story.  We are telling these stories:

  • To encourage you about how lives are being changed
  • To remain transparent as an organization about how our resources are being used
  • To show people with means ways to become involved in long term development

At this time, World Concern Haiti does not have the resources to quickly communicate its’ impact on people’s lives.  This is why our role in the organization is key.   

During our week in Haiti we have seen the value of communicating great stories and cannot wait to return and do it full time!  Tomorrow we will leave Haiti (for now!) and fly back to Seattle.  This trip has been very beneficial in preparing us for long term service.  We are looking forward to talking with you soon and sharing more about what is going on here in Haiti.  Thank you for your partnership!

Friends, meetings, dinner parties – a week in review

This has been a full, yet fantastic week.  Martha and I are doing a pretty good job of balancing our day jobs with making preparations for Haiti, raising support, and touching up on some skills.  Some days are longer than others, but all in all we’re growing more affirmed in our future ministry and have been given all the strength we need to ‘keep on keeping on.’  I wanted to share a couple highlights from this past week with the hope of letting you see what our lives are like doing this time leading up to our departure for Haiti.

Martha and I have applied to receive support from our church here in Seattle.  This week we had our first ‘interview’ with some members from the mission committee.  It was encouraging to hear about the vision the church has regarding missions and how our work with World Concern fits into that.  Following some good conversation, we had the opportunity to pray together.  This was another reminder of how blessed we are to be a part of a solid community of believers.  The next step in this process is to make a presentation of our work to the entire committee in the near future.  Looking forward to that.

As you may or may not know, Martha and I have begun learning French.  We are using a software called “Tell Me More.”  We decided to go with a software option versus a class or tutor because of the low cost and flexibility.  In general we are pleased so far with the program and since we both enjoy language it has been fun.  The majority of Haitians only speak Creole.  Why then are we learning French?  Our Haitian supervisors and colleagues at the headquarter office in Seattle agreed that having a basic understanding of French would be helpful for the transition to learning Creole.  Additionally, some things like government documents in Haiti are often in French, so it will be valuable to understand the language for that reason.  Eventually we will focus exclusively on learning Creole with the end goal of becoming fluent.  We want to invest in our Haitian coworkers and neighbors, as well as do our best to share accurate and in depth stories of what World Concern is doing in Haiti, so really knowing the language is essential for us.  In addition to using the “Tell Me More” language software to learn French, we have been listening to French music and watching French movies.  This week we watched a French film called “The Class.”  It follows a classroom in urban Paris that consists of a diverse group of lower class students and highlights the issues they face.  Slow moving at times but I really recommend it.  We’re hoping simply hearing the language will help us pick it up quicker.  We’ll see!

One of our goals prior to arriving in Haiti is to really be present each day and build strong relationships with people here.  A way we are attempting to do this and at the same time tell more people about our future work is through dinner or dessert nights.  These informal, laid back events may be hosted at the home of a close friend or anywhere else that a friend of ours allows us ‘into their circle.’  Our friends Andrew and Tessa invited us to join their small group this week for dinner and to talk about what we are up to.  It was really fun meeting new people, hearing their stories, and sharing ours.  If this sounds like something you would be interested in hosting for us let us know!

So this was our week.  We are always amazed at the people God puts in our lives and how he provides for us.  Pressing forward in anticipation for what He has next.  Happy Easter:)

Oh and it was my (Austin) birthday this week!  How could I forget?  I think 26 is going to be a good one.