The Family

The Family
Justice, Logan, Jacy Klaire, Joy, Josie Kate, Luke, Megan, Judah, Kerry, Jaxon

Monday, August 31, 2009

What a Blessed Week!

Mark and Jackie Ikerd arrived last Tuesday with bags full of goodies from our friends and family back home. It was everything from Cheeze-Its to Diet Sundrop! God is so good! Thank you everyone for spoiling us so much! The kids thought it was Christmas.

After such a good start we thought there was no way the week could get any better but it did. We have a well that has not worked since it was installed months before we ever got here. For over a year it has sat unused. The plan is for it to be used as a backup for our current well at the compound but also provide water for Pastor Andre's school once it is complete and the thing we were the most excited about is being able to provide water in the alley to the people of the community. Right now people pass our house everyday to go down to another hand pumped well to pay money to get water. Some have to travel over a mile and carry the water back in buckets. This new fountain in the side street will help many families and give us the chance to get to know them personally and share our faith with them.

God saw fit to help us get the pump working and get the fountain built. I plan to test it this evening and begin giving water tomorrow morning if everything works. God is SO good.

Here are some photos of that project we worked on this week. Mark turned out to be a master shovel pusher. I make a better observer!

We also were contacted on Tuesday and told of a baby in St. Ard which is where our other clinic is going to be located. The Haitian pediatrician there wanted us to come and look at a baby that showed up at the clinic and could not open his eyes. When we arrived we found out the baby was not at the clinic but at a house near by. After offroading for a while in the minibus we found the house where the baby was. He was lying on an old lounge chair under a bush. It turns out the baby was brought to the clinic and just dropped off. No one knows anything about him or his family. A girl from the clinic agreed to take him home and care for him.

When we arrived the baby had been on antibiotics for several days but still could not really even move. His eyes were horribly infected along with the surrounding tissues, he has a respiratory, GI, and genital infection as well. He is probably about a year old but can't sit up or anything because he is so sick. We got him started on other meds and will continue to monitor him over the next few days. He is being called Krislove so you can be praying for him.

Caring for the Widows and Orphans

We also had a chance to visit the orphanage next door this week. They have about 40 kids from 6 months to 16 years old. Jacy Klaire has fallen in love with the little 6 month old baby. She is a little doll named Molly and she loves for Jacy Klaire to hold her. We also have a little friend named Jonluke that is totally blind. He stayed right with Mark during the entire visit except when they pulled him away to go and change his clothes because they were embarrassed at his appearance when we took a picture of him with Mark. They were mad that he had on old clothes and did not change them before the "visitors" came.

Josie Kate loves the kids there too and tries to be mommy to all of the little ones.

I have been wanting to get to know some of the elderly and widows in the church across the street where we attend so I talked to Pastor Andre and one of the elders and lined up for me and Mark to be able to go and give them a care package of rice, beans, bouillon, and cooking oil. It was great. We got to visit 8 different widows and spend some time talking to them and hearing their stories. These were great women of faith that were living with absolutely nothing yet full of joy and fervor for the Lord. I was grateful to get to minister to them in a tangible way. Without a husband to provide they have to depend on others to help them have food. They were truly thankful and praised God for our visit and the food we brought them.

Jackie also spent one morning teaching the boys an art lesson. They loved it. They are still drawing butterflies. Our kids loved the time too. Mark and Jackie really ministered to our family this week as much as they ministered to the Haitian people. I am so grateful!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"I've never seen a racoon eat a hotdog"

I was bringing Josie Kate upstairs last night to get her ready for bed and we walked past the dog's bowl with a few onions in it. Josie pointed out the onions and I said I had never seen a dog eat onions. Her response was, "well...I've never seen a racoon eat a hotdog". It turns out, I haven't either. If any of you have let me know so I can tell Josie!

We have had a great weekend. I was up at 5:30 this morning getting pancakes and bacon going for everyone on the compound. The staff does not cook on Sunday so me and Joy will be doing that. We ate breakfast and then went to church. We used to be late for church because we had to get our four little ones ready. Today we had to get our four, and the ten boys, and walk to church by 8:30 and we made it on time. Church was good. The little bit we could understand.

When we got home I grilled hamburgers for everyone- it's American Day at the compound on Sunday- and Joy cooked some corn and we had a good time. Now we are trying to get everyone down for a rest time- especially us!

I went to PAP yesterday to work at AGAPE- our mail service. It is a ministry that delivers mail to missionaries. Each missionary has to work in their office every quarter to help out. Yesterday I went to fill in for Jim and Gayle since they were gone. I left home early so we could get some things done before I had to get to the office but everything was closed. It was a day of Fet for the Catholic church so many of the big businesses were closed. I needed to look for a little refrigerator for our apartment so we can keep snacks for the kids and cold water.We spent about 45 minutes at the beach late one afternoon this week. It was after we visited the family we want to build the house for. Robens, a young man who has been a friend of ours since our first trip here, and his mother take in children that need help or need a home long term or short term. They want to build a small house so they can move out of the grandmothers little house and have a bed for the boys to sleep in every night. We will be giving more details about that opportunity as it unfolds in the next few days. Many of you that have been here before know Robens and know how good a young man he is. We took the family some rice, beans, melons, zaboka and cooking's a huge blessing to know that family will eat this week and they will feed children around them.

At the beach you could easily pick out our kids. They were the ones with clothes on. Robens was surprised when we told him we were ready to leave because we had not bathed the kids yet. They could not understand why we would go down to the beach and not bathe while we were there.

It was a good outing. The kids got to drink their first coconut and I drove for the first time here. We made it back home without hitting anyone or anyone's pig so I was happy!

Last week was very busy with 2 trips to PAP and a trip to Desarmes along with our normal ministry duties but it was great. We all really had a chance to work on developing some relationships that will allow us to minister and be a part of the community here. God is really opening doors and giving us favor. We are so grateful and full of anticipation as we continue to seek the opportunities He has in store for us.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. We feel safe and secure in the presence of your prayers and we know God has great things in store for our family.

You can call us on our cell phones anytime if you need to reach us. You can get a calling card or if you have an international plan you can just call us directly. Joy had a chance to talk to Shelly Benfield for a while the other night and it was a huge blessing.

My cell number is 011-509-3-638-7138
Joys cell number is 011-509-3-687-9458
We are still trying to sell our house and close out a few more things on that front. We look forward to seeing everyone in October. Thanks again for all your prayers!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How to Build a Church

For all of you who are considering a building program for your church, I thought I would give you some insight into what it will take so you can plan likewise.

First you need a big pile of dirt and rocks.

Then you have to sift the sand out to use with the concrete and pile up the rocks.

Then you have to sit and break the rocks with a hammer until they are small enough to be used in the concrete.

After you have a truck load of hand broken rocks and a truck load of hand sifted gravel you can start the foundation.

Here is a picture of what you can expect after many hours of labor in the 110 degree heat. As a note, the guy without a shirt on in the picture is the pastor...

If you are the pastor and a missionary shows up, put your shirt on and hurry over to get him a fresh green coconut. Cut it open with your machete you have been cutting the hedge with and then hand it to him to drink the coconut water.

Hand mix almost 400 bags of concrete and shovel it into buckets to and carry it to the masons.

Then you can start the foundation and blocks. After the walls are up you add the tin roof. Finally when you get more money, usually years later, you can pour a concrete floor and add iron windows. But until then, have church! 3-4 hour services praising God and seeking His provision.

So there you have. Pretty simple.

I had a chance to go to a church we are in the process of building today. The pictures show the work they are doing. The crew started just one week ago and they are sleeping on site to get the project completed. We were able to give enough money to buy food for the workers while they are there working so they can eat well so they can work hard. Getting food on the job is such a huge blessing here and it makes the moral all the better around the construction site. And many other people on the fringes of the site are fed as well so it is a service project for the community in the name of Jesus.
(The building we are replacing)

We have had enough money donated to buy all of the supplies to get the walls up and ready for the roof. The roof will be around $4500 so we will do that as God provides. I also found out today that we could buy the lot behind the church to build the out houses on and keep someone from building within just a few feet of the church. The pastor there told me we could buy the piece of land for $1500 USD. We are praying about that possibility as well.

(The current out house. It is not as nice as it looks once you get inside. Not much privacy either!)

Here are some pictures of the project. I felt so blessed today to be a part of something that will impact a rural community the way this church will. We can also use this facility for more than a school and church. We will also be having annual medical and optometry clinics there. The pastor there also wants to have retreats for people from St. Marc to come out into the valley for a weekend of spiritual renewal. Thank you to everyone that has been a part of the building in Desarmes.

(Some kids playing a game in the street where you toss rubber bands. Some of you may recognize Hayden, the pastors grandson, in the orange shirt.)

Joy and the kids stayed at House of Bread today while I made the 2.5 hour drive to Desarmes. Today was our first full day here running the place and it went well. We are excited about the opportunity and we sense the presence of God on the ministry and what we are doing. We are so thankful for everyone's prayers.

Monday, August 10, 2009

In a Place where NOTHING is simple

Life in general can be frustrating no matter where you live. The apostle Paul tells us to expect every kind of trial in life. But we are adjusting to living in a place where absolutely everything we are used to having is very difficult.

To get electricity you have to have solar panels, generators, batteries, or some other source and it must me monitored continually. We run our generator from 5:30 to 6:30 most mornings and then again from 6-9 pm if we can make it that long on the batteries. That depends on whether we had a sunny or cloudy day and whether or not we did anything to use extra electricity like use power tools or wash clothes or iron. If so we have to run the generator early in the afternoon for a while and then again at night. More than once I have not checked the meters regularly and the whole compound loses power and everything has to be re-set when I get the generator going.

While the generator is going we have to pump water everyday into our tanks on the roof. So we have to hook up the pump and run it for awhile to fill the tanks which means a trip onto the roof to see how much we have and then monitoring to know when the tanks are full. That is all just for the orphanage itself.

(Josie and Judah enjoying an apple after church)

Our electrical system is totally seperate. I have been able to get it up and running with the solar panels and batteries (thanks Toby for the batteries! Everyone says they are awesome.) I never knew there was such a thing as battery envy! We do not have our generator yet. We have one on the 2nd bus but it has not arrived. It is not the one I will use long term for our home system because it is portable and is not designed to be a primary source of electricity. It will work though until we get something more long term...if I can get that bus here and out of customs. We definitely need it. We lost power at about 3 am this morning and I woke up shortly after the fans went off. It is amazing how hot and muggy it can be at 3 am.

(3 of the boys celebrating birthdays this week)

Then there is the internet that I just got back up and running this afternoon and decided I had better do a blog entry before we lost it again. I believe we will have better luck once I can get things running right but right now it is very hit and miss. Thanks to everyone for their patience.
We are learning all the responsibilities to run the orphanage here. Jim and Gayle leave Wednesday so we have to take over. It is much more involved than I would have imagined. Our days are very full and with the heat you are ready for the hot bed at night.

The kids are doing good. We are getting settled into the apartment. As soon as the bus comes we will be setting up the clinic here. Pastor Jim, the missionary here that leaves Wednesday, took me aside one day last week and told me that I needed to slow down and spend more time with the kids and everything so I have been trying to heed his advice the last couple of days and take some time out to be with them. It is hard when there is so much to do and it is all right here inside the compound. I was used to leaving work and going home to the family.

(Dieudonne (aka Jackson) holding Jaxon
Here there is always so much to do and I am having to learn to

leave it undone and do the things that are the most important. I assume that once they leave on Wednesday that things will only get busier.

It is hard learning to deal with being surrounded by poverty and desperation as well. Joy and the kids have not been off of the grounds here very often but I have to go out into town for things regularly. As we go up our steps to get to our apartment we can see over onto the road that leads to many homes behind us. There are always people there and often asking for food. Yesterday there were three little girls that Joy has been talking to some and they were standing beyond our fence in the rain saying the only english they know, "I am hungry". Joy sent me out to give them each a little pack of cookies as the rain came down harder. She was pleased to have been able to "minister" to them a little bit. This morning by 7 am there were over a dozen kids...including our three little friends...lined up on the fence telling us how hungry they were. All expecting the little cookies I am sure. We are learning how to help in a systematic, God directed way of helping and not just giving hand outs. We already 'know' that from all of the previous time here, but it is different when you see them everyday and want to help them all. Pray God will continue to make us wise and give us wisdom as He uses us to meet their needs.

One of the boys came and got us at 7 this morning and said someone was here to pray for us. We went downstairs and there was an elderly, nearly blind from cataracts, pastor that said the that God told him to come and pray over our kids. So he was so sweet as he lifted his hands to the Lord in praise and then laid them on each of our kids to pray. I could not help but think of the life this faithful servant had lived in this tough place.

Well I have to go check the batteries and get the water going. I will never take that shower or electrical outlet for granted again.