December has arrived!!!
On Friday night when I arrived at the Hope House for the movie, there was a string of lights hanging from the rooftop, and inside where the children eat, there was a Christmas tree complete with lights and ornaments. At first it was a little disorienting, since I have always associated Christmas with snow, winter jackets and carols being played through the media. I haven't had any of that this year, so it took me a second to click in! But whether I'm aware of it or not, Christmas is coming and that's exciting!
So in keeping with the first day of December, I think I'll share a few more 'firsts' that happened to me this past weekend.
Yesterday after church I took my first trip into Simonette, where Patris - one of my new Haitian friends - and his family members live. He is actually getting married on December 27th, so I got to tour his new house and try some of the grapes growing in his front yard! :) In Simonette, we also got to check out Rachel's coconut tree. Yes, it's true that she actually rented a coconut tree, which means she gets to reap the benefits all year long. Kindly, she shared with us, so I had my first taste of fresh coconut milk! See picture below.... It was good!
Another first for me happened on Saturday, which might not seem as thrilling to you back home, but it was quite exciting for me... I had my first cheeseburger! I ordered one at a city near Port-Au-Prince while out and about on Saturday. After not eating one for almost three months, it was truly a beautiful moment!
And finally, I also went to my first staff meeting last Friday. Mr. Marc - who is the Haitian director on the mission - scheduled a meeting for all of the staff, so I joined in, and it was really eye-opening for me to see how many people showed up. The mission employs well over 100 Haitian people, so it was quite a squeeze packing everyone into the cafeteria.
The reason for the meeting on Friday was to discuss the financial situation of the mission. For those of you who support the mission or stay involved in it's progress, you are probably already aware of the missions lack of funding. With 2 large expansions in the works, the mission already has had to cut back in order to progress in the construction and growth of the facilities. However, just over the past few months, they have lost a few of the significant contributors, so the meeting was to inform the staff of the new standards that will be put in place in order to save money.
Sadly, it may come to the point where some of the staff may need to be laid off, since the mission cannot afford to pay them. Despite the dire situation and the concern on the faces of those around me, I was encouraged by the way Mr. Marc handled everything. He assured everyone that the mission would not be closing, only that over the next few months we all need to be aware of the situation and trust the Lord to provide. It was very heartwarming to hear Mr. Marc witness to the staff about how God knows all of our needs, and He will never leave us. So many times in our lives situations seem impossible, but when we trust God, He will give us what we need, and during these testing times, we are given the chance to trust Him and allow Him to refine us.
Based on the financial situation, the mission is really pushing for end-of-the-year supporters and donations to cover this year's budget. Please contact me via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like more information about how you can get involved.
Finally, I just want to emphasize the feeling of community and family-like atmosphere that I experience here in Haiti. Coming here in September, I thought that I would be the one with the answers: telling others about Jesus and sharing the message of the gospel. However, I've been amazed how time and time again when I am speaking with Haitian people how they share the gospel with me. So often when I am in conversation with people they remind me about Jesus' love and the way that He provides, just like Mr. Marc did on Friday. It's quite a testament to hear these people, who have little to no possessions here on earth, speak about the treasure and hope of Jesus, their eternal riches. They can't contain it. It's humbling and inspiring for me at the same time because I feel like being here it's my job to tell these people about Jesus. However, it overflows out of them, and they are so passionate about their faith. They will never know the impact that they have on my life as they share about what Jesus has done. I want to live more like these people. Giving glory and praise to the Lord in EVERY circumstance. Not dwelling in problems that arise, but keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus. After all, like a song I've been listening to recently sings: He is big enough. May I stay fixed on that promise today.