Our ASP missionaries did a lot of hard work today!
The large group split into teams and tackled such tasks as roofing, painting, drywall, and flooring. The teams led by Matt and Steve S. worked on siding a new "tiny house" for an 86-year old man. They hope to finish tomorrow.
The teams also spent the day meeting and beginning to build relationships with the families they are assisting this week.
This day ended with dinner and fellowship. Our missionaries had a great time getting to know one of the families as well as members of another church group from Raleigh, North Carolina. And some team members got to spend time with a really cute baby. All in a day's work!
The team had a tiring but successful first day and are looking forward to continuing their projects tomorrow.
Thank you so much for your prayers for our team! Please keep praying and feel free to share words of encouragement in the comments below.
Our Appalachia Service Project missionaries left bright and early this morning from the Nativity parking lot to make their way to Brenton, West Virginia. They were sent off with enthusiastic prayers and hugs from loved ones. Our travelers will spend the week building relationships with families in the community and assisting with construction projects.
We are sending them prayers for a safe journey today and hope that they get to rest tonight in preparation for the hard work ahead.
The team had a wonderful last day in Monarch on Tuesday! Another rise and shine this morning, breakfast, and then the final trip into the village for our amazing team. This morning, they split into two groups. Ellen, Diane, Caitlin and Cindy helped to prepare a graduation ceremony and lunch for the business class students. Working side by side with members of the community, they prepared rice and beans, chicken drumsticks, and fried plantains, with fresh melon for dessert.
The rest of the team stayed with the students for their final lesson, and debrief with the class. Our missionaries continued to learn about the individual businesses (farming, livestock raising, making/selling charcoal). They also talked some more about their own businesses, and how the basic principles the class has learned were successfully applied to help them grow and profit. The students were very proud of themselves for completing a high-school level business course, and were grateful for, and impressed by, the knowledge and expertise of their teachers. They are very excited for the opportunity to put their newly learned skills into action!
The graduation lunch was a wonderful celebration for the students, attended by the class and their friends and family, our team, the Leadership Council, and other members of the community. Our team was also presented a plaque, engraved to Nativity, showing the community’s appreciation to our team for sharing their time and expertise with the business students. Members of the class were given the opportunity to share their impressions of the experience, and to pray for their new knowledge and for our team. Many of the students talked about how they came to the class with hopes and dreams, and now feel equipped with the knowledge to put those hopes and dreams into action. They are grateful to God for this class, and for the future of their businesses.
As the celebration came to a close, there was a sense of sadness as our team prepared to leave the village for the last time. Through many tears and hugs, our missionaries were struck by how quickly the bonds formed with their new friends in Monarch, and were grateful for the opportunity to share their lives with our partner community. While this particular team does not know for sure when they will return individually, Monarch and Nativity once again separated knowing that a new team will return in 2018 to keep this relationship growing strong. In the meantime, we will continue to offer prayers and support from Timonium, and they will continue praying for us!
Wednesday brings another long day of travel, an early departure from Bohoc for the long drive to Port-au-Prince, for a 3:30pm flight. With another layover in Atlanta, our team expects to be back at BWI at approximately 12:30am Thursday morning. We can't wait to see them, and hear more about their amazing mission!
Monday was an exciting day for our team! The focus of this mission is to provide business education and training to local entrepreneurs in Monarch. The class of about approximately 20 adult learners was formed by the Leadership Council through an application/interview/selection process. Those chosen were able to demonstrate a strong natural business ethic, and a desire to learn and grow their businesses through this program. They began their 25 course series prior to our arrival, so that our team can use their God-given talents in business as they get into lessons concerning start-up costs, profits/losses, supply and demand, etc. The course series is facilitated by a local Haitian vendor contracted by the 410 Bridge, and our missionaries are there to assist, bringing much value to their lessons through their experience with business here in the US.
The morning consisted of a classroom-style lesson, and the team got to know the class, learning about their different businesses and their individual goals. The team and the class then broke into discussion groups, assisted by translators, to get a feel of where these business leaders are, and to continue with these valuable lessons that will help their businesses grow. In the afternoon, they spent some time visiting with specific business owners to see their assets and operations. Once again, they found that their day in Monarch was over too soon, and they had to return to Bohoc for the evening.
After some rest and a delicious dinner of beef stew, rice, pumpkin bread and fried plantains, our missionaries gathered for their evening reflection. They are impressed with the work ethic of the business owners they are working with, and their desire to learn and grow. There was also a sense of sadness, as they will be leaving on Wednesday after such a short time getting to know their new friends. There is comfort, though, in knowing that they are an important "link in the chain" of the relationship between Monarch and Nativity. Teams have come before them, and more teams will be sent in the future - each team bringing something special and valuable to the relationship, all for God's glory.
Please keep the team and their students in your prayers today!
2 Corinthians 12:9 - Each time he said "My grace is all you need. My power works best inweakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
Oh, what a beautiful Sunday in Haiti! While we were celebrating mass this morning at Nativity, our missionaries attended a church service in Monarch. The three-hour service was full of worship, song, music, and praise. The team sang Amazing Grace with the community, and then team leader Ellen was asked to preach for a few minutes. The verse she spoke about was 2 Corinthians 12:9, reminding all of us that God's grace is sufficient to help us, no matter what we think our weaknesses may be.
After church, the team spent some time playing with some of the children of Monarch, kicking soccer balls around and jumping rope. After lunch they split into two groups for a prayer walk through the community. Caitlin and Ellen were blessed to have been joined by the children that they are sponsoring during this walk, it was a special moment for them indeed! (Information on how you can sponsor a child will be coming soon!)
As the day came to a close, they headed back to Bohoc for some rest, dinner, and reflection time. The team is settling in well, though still in awe and wonder of their new surroundings and the daily lives of Haitian people. They truly feel that they have been brought together and to Haiti for a great purpose, and God is guiding their hearts as they seek to do His will during their time there.
Tomorrow brings a very exciting day, when our team will get into the business lessons that have been prepared for the community. We can't wait to hear all about it!
The team was up early again this morning, and enjoyed a breakfast of eggs, bread, peanut butter, and bananas before starting the long drive from Port-au-Prince to Bohoc, where they will be staying for the rest of their trip in a guest house known as Haiti Unlocked. Bohoc is just a few miles from Monarch, but the drive actually takes about 30-40 minutes from the guest house due to the condition of the road. In fact, just a few years ago, there wasn't a road to drive on at all!
The team arrived in Monarch at about 2:00pm and were greeted excitedly by our friends in the village. After a warm welcome, the team met with the community Leadership Council to share introductions, community updates, and hopes for the future. Team leader Ellen was part of the group that first came to Monarch, when Nativity chose to partner with them. Since that trip in 2015, much has changed. The Leadership Council continues to be grateful for the new school, and are also more confident in the goals that they want to achieve for their community. There is much to look forward to in Monarch!
After meeting with the LC, the team took a tour of the community, stopping to see a new water pump, a charcoal making station, and a sugar cane press. The methods used for making charcoal and pressing sugar cane are very primitive by our standards - using oxen to pull machinery, for example. Some of the team members who are new to Haiti were surprised and humbled by the lack of developed resources that we often take for granted here in the U.S.
Today was an exciting day, just the first of many to come in the next week as our team continues to share life with the people of Monarch. Tomorrow they will attend church services, and spend some more time getting to know the people of the village.
Please continue praying for the people of Monarch, and for our team! Be sure to leave messages of love and encouragement in the comments!
Our missionaries have arrived! After meeting Major, their 410 Bridge guide, they piled into vans for a short trip to their guest house for the evening, called Mon Chez Moi (My Home). They spent some time relaxing by the pool in the warm tropical breeze, and then enjoyed a traditional Haitian dinner of plantains, chicken and rice, and a spicy macaroni and cheese.
After dinner, they spent some time together reflecting on their travels, new surroundings, and feelings about what lies ahead. The team is in great spirits, full of excitement that they are finally in Haiti, after many months of planning, and energetic for the days to come. Tomorrow they will be up bright and early to make the four hour drive into the mountains, and Nativity will be reunited with the community of Monarch once again.
Please continue praying for the team, and for Monarch!
This morning our Fall team gathered at Nativity before dawn to depart for Haiti! Friends, family, Home Team members and past missionaries joined together in prayer over this amazing team before heading off to BWI for their 8:00am flight. They will have a layover in Atlanta, and then fly on to Port-au-Prince, arriving at approximately 2:45pm. Once they arrive in Haiti and meet up with their 410 Bridge guide, the team will be taken to a guest house near the airport to spend the night before heading up to our partner community, Monarch, tomorrow morning.
Please join us in praying for the team and their mission. This is an exciting trip, as they will be focusing on helping members of the community learn business and entrepreneurship skills, which will help their economy grow.
We thank you for this amazing and talented team. We ask that your Holy Spirit guide them through their journey, as it has through their entire preparation process. Help them to rely on you for strength in opposition. Let their hearts guide them as they do this important work. Keep them healthy, strong, and safe.
We ask this through Christ our Lord,
You can follow along with their journey here, and make sure you leave your messages of love and prayers in the comment section!
Our Kenyan Medical Team has returned home safely. The group has many stories to tell about their successful mission, but now all they wish is a shower and the assurance of sleeping in their own beds! Thanks to all Church of the Nativity parishioners, the mission home team, and family members who have kept our team in their daily prayers. God listened.
For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord. ~ Jeremiah 30:17
After a long day of travel, our Haiti missionaries are home! They arrived on schedule at BWI around 12:30 am and were welcomed by family and friends with lots of hugs. The team is weary, but full of joy as they look back on their amazing week. On Monday evening, the travelers will reunite with the Home Team for a mission debrief, and then later to celebrate all of the wonderful things God has done through them. We could not be more proud of this team, and their amazing work alongside our brothers and sisters in Monarch!
Thank you for following their journey, for all of your love and prayers, and for your support of NativityMissions!
On Thursday, the team had their last day in Monarch. Once again, they started early and enthusiastically. When the afternoon came, and they had to say their goodbyes, there were many hugs and lots of tears. This was made more difficult because our current missionaries don't know yet when (or if) they will be able to return again. Monarch can be assured, though, that Nativity will be back in October with a whole new team of missionaries, and that our long-term partnership with them is strong.
After their final dinner in Bohoc, they had another night of reflection, with many emotions about their last day and their good-byes. Their 410 Bridge guide, Major, helped them to process their feelings.
Here is another wonderful reflection from Adeola:
Saturday, I felt a keen sense of disappointment. I had spent a whole day in Monarch, met amazing people, listened to a diverse leadership council, and observed children at play; all things that should have made me extremely happy and possibly excited, but instead I was deep - down borderline depressed and extremely disappointed. It has taken four long days for me to have a surface understanding of the source of these feelings, I realized that even though I had worked really hard to have no expectations except to witness love, I had somehow "drunk the koolaid". I had allowed the stories of hardship, struggle, need, destitution, sponsorship etc. to poison my thoughts and pervade my being, I came to Monarch consciously thinking "I will help them however they desire", but subconsciously thinking "I'm going to help them because they need me to help". The reality floored me. What a blow to my ego, when I discovered that they didn't need me, not even to help. I was witnessing a society flourishing on faith, hope and charity.
Faith that God will provide all their needs.
Hope that if it doesn't happen in their lifetimes, it will happen for their children.
And Love of a God who in turn loves them unconditionally and love of each other.
It's funny (not ha ha), ALL of us missionaries have commented on at least one thing we love about Monarch and then compared it to the US using the statement, "that's not what happens in the US". I was so surprised by Monarch, and truthfully still in awe that I forgot for a moment that they were monetary poor, that healthcare (by American standards) is non existent, they lived in huts with dirt floors and often had to share the space with many people.
No one prepared me for children playing together, or families walking to the pump for water, or a praying and thankful community, or the amazing amount of love that could be shared between people. I knew I would learn a lot from the community of Monarch but I couldn't begin to imagine how much...
Monarch needs help because their goals for the village far exceed their resources. But rather than waiting for someone to do something, they pray and they work and they love. Monarch survives because no matter how little they have, they are always thankful.
As I get ready to return to the US, I am thinking :
• The U.S. would probably benefit from some Haitian missionaries
• I probably need my whole summer break to process this trip
• What is one thing I've learned in Monarch that I can use now either in my personal or professional life?
The team hit the road at 9:00 this morning for the long drive back to Port-au-Prince to make their 3:48 pm flight. They will stop again in Atlanta, and then on to BWI, arriving at 12:31 am. Please pray for their long day of travel, and for Nativity's partnership with Monarch!
Our next reflection is from Sarah DeVan, one of our wonderful teachers who stepped out in faith to take this journey. Here are her thoughts on teaching the Haitian students during their language exchange lesson:
[Monday] we taught the Haitian children the English colors and numbers. It was an amazing experience to teach the more than 50 students we had gathered. Halfway through reviewing the colors, we noticed one diligent student in the back of the room who had brought his coloring page back from the day before, and he was resourcefully using the back to write down the names of the English colors we taught. His thirst for knowledge and perseverance was so admirable.
In the United States, students and teachers can sometimes take for granted the vast ability of resources and access to education. But, in Haiti, their quest for knowledge is so inspiring. I know I will be a better teacher in the United Stats for having experienced education in Haiti.
Returning Nativity missionary Kelsey Brown also has some words to share on why she keeps going back to Haiti - this is her third trip, and we are so blessed to have her strength and dedication on our team!
I keep returning to Haiti because I feel at home here. It is my happy place, my home away from home. When I rounded the corner and I saw that the new school had been built, it was unbelievable. I was filled with joy, amazement, and proud of the people of Monarch for having the perseverance to continue and see this project through to completion.
One of the things that I have appreciated most on this trip is their willingness to never give up when trying to share about their way of life. Yesterday, a few girls from the town taught me how to play their own version of a game. We didn't speak the same language, but we were still able to play and laugh, and the excitement on their faces as I caught on was priceless. Through coming to Haiti, I have learned so much about the universality of the human spirit.
Thank you for the wonderful reflections, ladies! Stay tuned for more!!
As our missionaries are wrapping up the week and processing everything they have seen and experienced, they have sent us some wonderful reflections of special moments they had during the week. We're happy to share them with all of you!
Our first two reflections highlight their Sunday Mass experience:
From Will Kelly:
I was really engaged in the whole mass, even though I didn't understand what was said. The passion of the people was very inspiring and moving. When we were able to sing and I played guitar, it was very special to see the smiles on their faces. The Pastor told Major that he would like for us to play another song, and the congregation all said "Again!" and wanted another song too.
I have led worship for the teens and congregation at Nativity, but now to have the same experience in Haiti was a dream come true. It was an intimate environment, and I was able to feel the passion of each individual person in the church.
Then I was blessed to be joined by two Haitian drummers, and that really showed how music is truly universal in that you don't have to speak the same language, yet there is a beat inside all of us.
This was a powerful experience, and one that our whole team will remember for a long time.
From Brian Phebus:
I really enjoyed being able to experience a Catholic service in another country. Due to limited resources, they were not able to have Eucharist, and it gave me a new appreciation, and I feel so grateful for the blessing to have Eucharist each week. The service was led by a Deacon, and that also made me realize how grateful I am to have a priest to lead mass each week at our church.
Check back throughout the day and evening for some more reflections from our fabulous team!
Today marked the final day for our medical team at the Kiu clinic. We’ve heard from Dr. Lynn Chincheck, D.D.S. who declared the mission a success. She and the rest of the team, ably assisted by some Kenyan doctors and nurses, treated a total of 517 people over three days. She said she loved “the docs and nurses and the amazing assistants on our team!”
Nurse Gina Knorr reported, “We were told for the size of our group, this was an impressive amount to treat. As we departed the village, emotions were high. We stood together hand-in-hand with the community leaders, pastors and other members of 410 Bridge. God was so present, it was palpable. As we left, we stopped by the water project the Church of the Nativity helped fund. It is on the grounds of a local school, and we were warmly welcomed by several students. We ended our day with a surprise campfire. This morning (Thursday) we prepare to depart for our next adventure with full hearts. We all look forward to seeing our loved ones soon.”
The hard-working group is now on its way to Amboseli National Park for some much-deserved rest and recreation. Amboseli is located in the southwest corner of Kenya near the border of Tanzania. Snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro towers above the park’s marshy swamps and dusty plains that are filled with an abundance of wildlife.
Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. ~ Jeremiah 33:6
Please pray for the missionaries to have a fun and relaxing day today!