Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shine Brightly

This morning during my quiet time I read Psalm 32:8, the LORD says;
“I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”

As I read these words I couldn’t help but think it is not an accident that myself and nine other women will be going to Haiti the end of September and serve with Mission of Hope.  I believe each of us were hand picked for this trip.

What does the Lord have in store for us and the people we will meet? How will He knit our hearts together? What will we learn from the people we are going to serve? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know I feel amazing peace knowing WHO is in control.

I’m told Haiti is a very dark place but I also know a flame shines the brightest when surrounded by darkness. From what I’ve read and been told, Mission of Hope is that bright shining light to thousands of people. I’m so excited to see all God is doing through them and humbled by the opportunity to serve along side them and meet the people of Haiti.

My prayer for our team is that God’s love will over flow from us and shine brightly wherever we go. May we be surprised by the unexpected and our eyes open to see God's hand at work directing our steps and the events of each day and by the end of our trip may we each be a little more like Jesus.  

- Kris McBride

Sunrise in Haiti

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In 50 days myself and a team of 9 other women will be jumping on a plane and traveling 1,253 miles to  serve in Haiti for 8 days.

On paper, we know that we will be participating in children's ministry, women's ministry and maybe some home improvement projects like painting or cleaning. But, I know God has supernatural things planned for us - experiences only He can handcraft and lead us into.

As we approach our departure date, this concept of God planning our steps and experiences is in the forefront of my mind. I'm ready to see what miraculous moments and holy encounters He has for us.

This will be my 5th trip to Haiti in 3 years and EVERY trip, without fail, God takes my breath away and fills my eyes with tears of joy as I experience Him and His church in a groundbreaking new way! Whether it's in the smile of a child (who, on the surface, seems to have nothing to smile about), the greeting of a woman in a village, the faith of the Haitian Christians or the passionate worship service at the Church of Hope, I experience God in a new way through the people of Haiti.

So, again, I'm waiting on God expectantly and trusting that His will is done through me and my team. What better place to be than in the center of His will and doing His work?

- Caylene

"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" - Romans 10:15

Worship at Church of Hope in Haiti

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Forest Hill Ballantyne's next Haiti trip is quickly approaching! A team of 10 women will travel to Mission of Hope Haiti from September 29-October 6.

While in Haiti, the team will serve in various capacities within several different villages surrounding Mission of Hope (MOH). Check out Mission of Hope's website here. MOH has served in Haiti for over 25 years by providing medical aid, nutrition programs and secondary education.

Our team will stay on the 75 acre MOH property and serve alongside Haitians working at the Mission's orphanage, medical clinic, church and school. Here are some exciting facts about the work MOH does in Haiti:

  • MOH's nutrition program feeds 50,000 people EVERY DAY
  • 2,500 children (kindergarten through high school) attend the MOH School of Hope
  • 60 orphaned children call MOH's Village of Hope their home and receive education, nutrition and medical care
  • MOH is nearly halfway through their goal of building 500 homes for the poor and deaf community in nearby Leveque, Haiti
An important way you can help the team is to pray for our trip - pray for the ministry we will perform and for each team member individually:
  • Caylene Brown
  • Ashley Evans
  • Wendy Garrett
  • Patty Gemmill
  • Kris McBride
  • LeeAnn Pounds
  • Kimberly Spitz
  • Sophie Tucker
  • Erin Vinson
  • Blanca Wakefield
There are also financial needs for this trip. The cost per team member is $1,600. If you feel compelled to donate, please click the "DONATE" button on the top right of this blog. If you wish to do so, you can indicate which team member your donation should go to.

Thank you for partnering with this team as they prepare to travel to Haiti and Mission of Hope - only with your prayers and support is this trip possible!

God bless!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Today was a great day in Haiti! We got to enjoy some down time with each other at a Haiti resort, Wahoo Bay. We were able to reflect on our week and share some our favorite experiences with each other, while continuing to bond with one another. In everything we have done this week we have felt Gods presence and even today while we were chilling out on the beech, snorkeling taking naps, etc.....we were still able to see and feel God in his beautiful creation of Haiti. The caribbean  blue water against the rugged mountains, the white sand, palm trees and a few jelly fish reminded us of how awesome and creative our God is and how much he must love us to give us a beautiful world.  After the drive back to MOH, we met with the hope reps and recapped the week with all the groups who have been at MOH this week. It was great to hear about all the moments where God intervened in the lives of the team members this week. The challenge each of us were given was go home and make Charlotte our mission field and act on what broke our hearts here in Haiti. Tomorrow, we leave Haiti. We have a full morning of roof construction before leaving Mission of Hope around 1:45pm. We miss you all very much and are looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow night. We're looking forward to the baptisms on Sunday and fellowshipping with our FHC brothers and sisters.  Please pray for a safe and productive morning and a safe trip back to Charlotte. We will see you all tomorrow!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, the steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,  knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."  1 Corinthians 15:58 The above bible verse holds true to the last 4 days of rigorous construction work our team has faced and that our days of labor will not be in vain, but will serve as housing for our beloved brothers who are serving at MOH as interns. The interns are called "hope reps". They support and guide the mission teams in their efforts to serve the Haitian communities.   I want to introduce you all to Pierre, one of the orphans at MOH. He is 3 and his current condition is undiagnosed because the technology is not available. Pierre is a bonafide miracle. Last Fall, one of the guards found Pierre abandoned outside the MOH gates. He was a shell of a child. Unable to move or communicate, Pierre was very uncomfortable and unhappy. Fast forward to today: Pierre giggled his contagious giggle as Mike did physical therapy. He recognized  each of us and remembered some of our names. It's beautiful to see him loved by the other orphans.  On so many different levels we've experienced God this week; such as spending time with babies like Pierre and making him laugh, picking flowers and playing basketball with the older kids, working construction along side our Haitian friends, doing our team morning devotions. In everything we do here we feel God and our filled with the Holy Spirit.  We love our God and love serving Him! We ended the night with Tyler playing a djembe drum in the middle of a intense rain storm! It was epic! (Tyler wrote this)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It's Wednesday and we're half way through our stay in Haiti. Last night we had a worship service at the Mission of Hope Church. Haitians really know what it means to praise our"Senye" (Which means "Lord"  in Creole).  We worshipped in Creole and English. It was awesome to hear the same songs we sing at Forest Hill sung by the members of MOH church. What blew us away was the Haitians sang louder when they sang in English versus when they sang in Creole. Hearing these familiar songs  in this context, with these people, took these songs to a different level. Imagine "Our God is Greater" with fist pumps,waving arms, and jumping. They sing this song the way it should be sung.  God has blessed us with great health this week. Everyone is hydrated, rested, and free of sunburn and injury. We've had a great breeze and the weather has been relatively nice this week. Considering our group is a construction team, being on the good side of Haitian weather is a blessing.  We have 1 workday left, please pray that the weather holds as we need every minute to finish the projects. We finished the 61st latrine door today and the wall framing for the intern offices. We started the framing for the roof and we still have a way to go. Please continue to pray for the teams' safety and patience. It a lot of tedious work!  Several of our team members got to venture off the construction site and do some pretty cool things. Emily went with the mobile clinic to Simonette and worked with over 100 patients.  Mike and Tyler traveled to a nearby hospital with Naoki and David, who run the prosthetics clinic. Mike worked with a patient who recently under went a transtibial amputation. Tyler took pictures. It's a great experience to work side by side with the Haitians. With a 90% unemployment rate in Haiti, I love watching the Haitians coming and going from work. Jobs are hard to come by and they are good stewards with their jobs. You hear a lot about "Haitians helping Haitians" at MOH. It's inspiring to see it. Last night we sang, "Savior, He can move the mountains. Our God is mighty to save." God is using MOH and the Haitians to move some pretty big mountains in this country. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

4-29-12 God you are Awesome! It's hard to put into words how amazing today was! I had no expectations coming into this mission trip , the only thing that I truly wanted was to be filled with the holy spirit and be led by him each day.  Today the spirit had us by the reins! We started the day off worshiping in the MOH church with hundreds of Christian Haitian  brothers and sisters. It was an awesome experience watching them praise and worship our one and only God in such a humbling and exciting way. They were loud, happy, joyful and just so grateful for our Jesus Christ and the hope and future he gives us. It was kind of a humbling experience because we have so much and they have so little, and they were praising and thanking Jesus for his great love and blessings like they were the ones that had everything. As I'm thinking about this I realized that they did have everything. God is everything, and everything else is nothing! So after church we take off to visit the village of Bercy which is a beautiful piece of property by the sea.  The future plan for Bercy is to build schools and housing, but also to make it a nice resort so people will continue to come to Haiti to serve, but also relax, have a good time, and the money from the resort will help support the new schools and other future needs. At Bercy We spent time watching kids play in the ocean and viewed some new construction sites. God has an awesome plan for this village and it was great to see it in the works. The second village we visited today was LeVeque.  This is a new village that has 350 new homes and through the MOH will eventually have 500.  Visiting LeVeque was the highlight of my day. We were greeted by 100 kids wanting to be held, played with and loved. We all had kids in our arms,  or on our shoulders. We played soccer with them and taught them how to do pull ups while tickling them and making them laugh.  I think we all experienced Jesus loving on these kids through each of us.  We ended today in devotion as a group of new friends praying and worshipping the Great God that we began the day worshipping. Today was a Great day in Haiti! 
Bonjou!The Wifi at Mission of Hope is down, so we will do our posts via Phil's phone. Saturday, we made it safe an sound to the campus. Sunday we went to church and it was amazing! The people of Haiti know how to praise the Lord! Most of us do not Creole, there was no language barrier as we all worshiped together. It was the most beautiful sound. Monday we started our projects around the MOH campus. We have a group putting up walls in the offices for the MOH interns, one group designed and are building screen windows for the offices, and the last group is building doors for the latrines at the villages. We are continuing these projects today. We have been blessed with great weather and an amazing breeze. Everyone is healthy and taking in all His goodness. He has protected us from injury, given us good rest, and really brought this team together is such a unique way.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Almost Gone!

April 28th is almost here! Our team of 12 will be leaving for Haiti this Saturday!

In the week leading up to a trip like this, you can imagine our team is full of anticipation. There are the "To Dos" we each have to cram into 4 short days; packing, immunizations, and loose ends at work. There are the nerves about flying to a country that some of us have never been to: lost luggage, language barriers, and foreign customs. But these don't come close the anticipation we have for what God has waiting for us in Haiti. We are praying and know God will use this experience to make an impactful difference in our lives and in our relationship with Him. God is capable of teaching, showing, and blessing us in ways we cannot imagine as we run around and prepare in Charlotte this week.

Mission of Hope (MOH) is doing amazing things in Haiti. Through the church, school, orphanages, hospital, and nutrition programs, MOH cares and provides for adults, childrens, and orphans. As an organization following Jesus Christ, MOH exists to bring life transformation to every man, woman, and child in Haiti. That is the vision and MOH is leaving a very distinct footprint on the country of Haiti. The impact this organization is having, and will continue to have, will change the country. Through MOH, God is nuturing the future spiritual, political, and social leaders of Haiti!

What MOH is doing for the country of Haiti is a big deal and we get to have small part in it! It is an opportunity and experience that we are very blessed to have and humbled to be a part of.

We expect to experience humility in a country in such dire need as Haiti. Most of us probably did not expect to be absolutely blessed and humbled by the generousity, prayers, and support of our family, friends, and co workers. Your involvement has truly encouraged us and God has used every token to prepare and fuel our hearts. Thank you! God has His hand on this trip and has given us each a gift and purpose. Every prayer you pray and dollar you give has the same deliberate purpose.


Monday, March 12, 2012

On April 28th, twelve folks will embark on Forest Hills next mission trip to Haiti.  The purpose of this trip will be to work to accomplish our vision to glorify God by making disciples who Know Christ, Grow in Christ, and Go for Christ.  We will do this by working with Mission of Hope (MOH) to help bring church advancement, education, orphan care, nutrition, and disaster relief to the people of Haiti, specifically by assisting each of these programs construction needs. We will also spend purposeful time as a team sharing, asking questions, and learning to grow in our faith and in our relationship with God. 
 The work that God is doing through MOH is having a huge impact on Haiti.  On this trip we will interact with children, adults, orphans, churchgoers, and missionaries.  MOH has a Church, School, Orphanage, Hospital, mobile medical clinics, several villages under construction, and a nutrition program that feed around 60,000 meals a day to poverty stricken children. 

 In late April or early May, MOH will open a new warehouse. This structure will give them the opportunity to more than double the amount of kids that they are able to currently feed. 
When our team was at MOH last November, we had the opportunity to install a roof on this warehouse. While we worked, we had the opportunity to teach several Haitian temporary laborers how to install roofs. This resulted in them getting full time employment at the end of the week.  They can use our help again to help put some of the finishing touches on the warehouse.

We would love your involvement.  We are going to be collecting new tools to take with us to donate to MOH.  Painting supplies are really hard to come by in Haiti, so brushes, rollers and roller naps would be helpful.  We also would love for you to be praying for us, as our team develops, and prepares to go.  Lastly, we will need to raise financial support.  The trip cost will be $1600 per person, and every gift will help. 
All trip deposits and donations can be made out to Forest Hill Church, and place Haiti 4/28 in the subject line. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Day of reflection

For our final day in Haiti we took a 45 minute drive to the ocean to visit the Wahoo beach to relax, reflect and spend some time together. It was a pleasant change to see the lush landscape near the ocean and to be able to reflect on the week.

While at Wahoo some of us took time to snorkel over a reef, collect shells on the beach or just relax. The emotions of the week, the sighs and the time we have spent with the local Haitians has clearly weighed on us. Most nights we debriefed as a team on what we have seen and on the days activities. Often they turned into long discussions or just periods of tears.

Throughut the week we have seen so much advancement at the food distribution center at the main MOH campus as well as at the other locations. The school at Bercy wasn't started when we visited there on Sunday. Today when we passed the location they have already made significant headway. Nothing stays constant around here - the pace is very fast. This trip has clearly had a significant impact on many of us. Developing a heart for Haiti was easy - knowing what to do about that is much tougher.

Many of us have decided to sponsor some of the kids enrolled in the MOH school. This helps cover the related costs for the kids to ensure they continue their education. One of our team members got to sponsor one of the MOH orphans. Almost all of the orphans are already sponsored (until they are 18) but a few new additions to the orphanage offered a very unique opportunity to sponsor one of these very special kids. We have seen how blessed we are and it is our privilege to pass the blessings on to others.

We encourage any of you who have followed us through our trip to visit the MOH website if you are interested in finding way to support MOH. All of us are very willing to talk your ear off of it if you want more details or if you want to learn how you can participate in an upcoming trip there.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Providing for the future

Wednesday evening concluded with a time of powerfully intimate prayer - prayer that is building up our individual as well as team character.

Thursday morning arrived with excitement about the day's activities, as well as the daily bright morning sun.

After breakfast the bus loaded for a visit to another MOH target community - Source Matelas - with our serve partners from Texas. Upon arrival we dispersed into the village for evangelism and prayer with the villagers. Students that attend School Of Hope greeted us and served as interpreters and village guides, in addition to the incredible guides provided to us by MOH. These children took us to their families as well as other villagers that they knew wanted prayer.

We met a man tending to his field of beans, and prayed for him and his field - prayer that God would strengthen him and protect the beans to take the field to full harvest so that the villagers could receive some food. We prayed for several families who had health issues and were desperate to find work so that they can provide for their families. And we prayed with a woman who wanted to receive Jesus to provide for her eternal salvation.

After lunch our team returned to the Village Of Hope at Leveque for some more painting and some time playing with kids. We were fortunate enough to go back to the same part of the deaf village as where we painted on Tuesday, this time to paint the outside of houses. The home owners, two deaf women, were overflowing with joy that we had upheld our promise to return to finish painting their houses. Unfortunately we were not able to completely finish their two houses. However, we know and they know that very soon the painting of their homes will be completed - Jehovah Jirah!

In our short time spent at Leveque, we met and befriended several adults in the deaf community. Perhaps the most beautiful of all was an older man named Jean Louis, whose smile and sparkling eyes were infectious. At the end of our time in Leveque, Jean Louis was playing soccer with several guys from our team and kids from the community. No doubt this will be a priceless and teachable moment for the kids to see the value in this man who has been ostracized his entire life.

As is the customary behavior for kids in the village, they came around to watch us and ask for handouts. What we've noticed is that there is a substantial difference between the behavior of the kids who are receiving good education and those who are not. It's into this world that MOH is making remarkable inroads - through education, nutrition, and the churches - to change their future for greatness and develop the Haitians to be a people who can provide for their own futures.

The Lord our God provides in countless ways, and we're learning to open our eyes each day to see these ways and praise Him for each and every one.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

School makeover - Haiti edition.

Today we had the opportunity to go into a functioning school in Minoterie - a near by village where a couple of our translators live. The school provides education and food for about 300 kids between the ages of 4 and 14. Our job was to paint the classrooms. There were many fingerprints drawings and marks that covered the walls. We provided a colorful two tone paint job in 4 of the 6 classrooms.

It was an experience to see how attentivite and focused the kids were in their class. Shortly after we arrived it was clear that little school work would happen as the kids were very distracted by all of us being there. School was let out some could take over the class rooms and quickly many of the kids and us retreated to the soccer field, playing out front or just holding a couple of kids.

We asked one of our translators why the kids flock to us anytime we leave the MOH campus. Mischloot informed us that there were two reasons: he let us know that when kids see Americans we represent hope to the kids. They know that we come brining gifts, food and necessities to them. Even when we show up to a school to paint and don't have food or gifts for them - they know that we came from the US to bring them help. It was very powerful to hear that we are their visible sign of hope
The second answer was that the Haitian culture isn't one that show or states affection. The kids flock to us to get hugs and love to give them some of the love that they are longing for.

We continue to see how God is working in this place and how just a little hope offers those barling hanging on increase their faith and strength.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Widow's Mite

The team woke refreshed this morning, after a windy night kept us blessedly cool. After breakfast of some weird-looking eggs (we think) we headed back to the village of Leveque, one of the MOH construction sites. The goal for the day was getting the inside of four homes painted. Who knew painting on concrete was so difficult! We worked in the new deaf community, which consists of about 60 homes. We were so thankful that our team leader, Shawn, actually knows some sign language and was able to bridge the language barrier with the home owners. We were with the Texas group again, and we split into two groups to paint. The houses have a small front room and two smaller back rooms. We had to move all of the possessions out of the homes first, which was eye-opening because it only took a few minutes (it takes us forever to do that!). One gentleman had ALL of his clothing in one small suitcase. In some houses the owners painted with us. We were able to pray with them in creole, English and sign language. Since there weren't enough paint rollers to go around some of us played with the local kids again. It was inspiring to see the number of Christians in this community and the church hasn't been built yet (it was dedicated this week). The other clear sign of God was that MOH hit water in this village this week and they will have another source of water. After dinner we had the opportunity to worship again at the MOH church. One of our translators is the worship leader so we got to spend the day with him and then have him lead worship for us and about 400 local Haitians. Many of the faces in the service were famarilare to us through the MOH orphanage or the villages we spent time with. Their worship is so much more intense then what we are used to. Their love for the lord and desire to give Him praise are very clear through their body language. Most of the congregation has very animated hands reaching to the sky, voices raising above the band, tears and people dropping to their knees in complete surrender. Knowing what these people have in the way of basics necessities, the daily challenges they face and the sheer poverty that surrounds this entire area - we were amazed at their worship. One of the most impactful visuals was seeing them tithe. They gave generously even in the current condition of their families, villages and country. As we were cleaning dishes from dinner our final team members (Mary and Will) joined us. We are safe and healthy and wish our loved ones a Happy Valentines.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Already Worth It

The February 2012 Team has made it to Haiti! We landed Sat afternoon and, after a harrowing drive thru Port-Au-Prince in the back of a rather questionable van, arrived at Mission of Hope. A team from Texas is working with us this week, so while we waited for them to arrive, we spent some time resting and settling in to our bunk rooms. Once the mosquito nets were in place, and we had lathered on the Deet 100, we explored the 80 acre campus a little.

When Texas got here, we ate dinner, which was much better than expected! Our trip leader, Shawn, had said he gained weight last time he came, and we are beginning to understand why. After our meal, everyone serving on campus (in addition to our 11 and the 15 from Texas, there are about 50 here from Canada) came together for a welcome from the MOH staff and some time for worship. The generator that runs the power here is not 100% reliable, and the lights went out right as the acoustic guitar started. It was actually a perfect way to end the night, praising the Lord in the dark, with only our voices ringing thru the night.

We all slept very well (perhaps it had something to do with getting up at 2am on Sat!) and started the day Sunday with an official tour of campus. The scope of MOH is unbelievable, with the construction/mission arm, a school, an orphanage, clinic, prosthetics lab, nutrition program, sewing/craft ministry... It is truly incredible. We ended our tour at church, which was spoken mostly in Creole. It is an open-air building, shaped like a cross. The authenticity and joy in the way the Haitians worshiped was inspiring to all of us, and despite the language barrier, we sang and prayed along with them. You could feel God's presence in that building!

The remainder of the day we spent driving to the two MOH villages being built. We will most likely be working at these villages later in the week, but it was great to see them and hear the plans they have for these locations. The people were so warm and friendly, and so happy to welcome us. The children just come running when they see the bus, and tug on you and hug you and insist on being picked up and carried and played with. I'm sure we will talk much more about the kids later, so I'll stop there for now!

Today (Monday) we hit the ground running and spent the whole day in some of the remote villages on the hillsides of Haiti. We had some awesome interpreters with us, to bridge the language gap, and we walked through the villages, meeting people who live there. They were also welcoming and kind, and the children are SO loving! As we stopped at various houses, we asked if the family had any specific needs we could pray for. Whether they were believers or not, everyone was willing to share the needs of their family. We laid hands on them and prayed, and encouraged them with love and laughter.

One of the most incredible moments of our day happened about 20 minutes into the morning. After we prayed for a woman who was without a job and desperate to provide for her family, a young woman came to the interpreter and said she wanted us to pray for her because she wanted to know Jesus. Talk about an eye-opening experience! After some Creole discussion to ensure that she understood what she was asking, she knelt on the dusty road and we laid hands on her and prayed over her right there. It was incredibly powerful. If God isn't gracious enough, after she stood up, another young woman knelt with the same request!! It was amazing, and humbling, and such a huge thing to experience. God was truly moving in that village and we all felt so blessed to just be there to witness it.

I have to sign off now,but I left it on a high note :) We will try to blog later in the week, and keep you updated on the ways we continue to see God's hand here in Haiti. Keep the prayers coming, as they are obviously working!

Love, Erin (and the rest of the team!)