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September 2013
 
 
Dear Friends in Christ,

Going to Haiti has the effect on our lives that we have walked closely with God. He shows us things that reach deep into our hearts, pulling out emotions and feelings that only He can help us through. We are humbled that He allows us to go and share His love with people who live in extreme poverty. Little can mean so much to people who have nothing.
Testimony from Ken ~ It was very exciting to be back. This was my first trip since we left Haiti in September of 1997, which was 16 years ago. We have many happy memories there. I equate Haiti with Shelby as it always felt like home to her. Though she loved people no matter where she was, the Haitian people were special to her heart, as they are to mine. While there, we were reminded of the many special times we had together in Haiti. Shelby loved to talk and laugh with people and visit with the ladies. She held their babies telling them how beautiful they were and sat in the dirt to cuddle and play with the children. Wherever we went, I could almost see her smiling, talking, and having a good time again.
Being there with my son, Kenny, was a real blessing for me as well. I had only seen pictures of his trips. Seeing the work first hand, reached much deeper into my heart. He works very hard and also has a love for the Haitian people. The air conditioner doesn't work in his truck and I suggested we have it repaired. He said that he preferred it that way because he likes to drive with the windows down. This gives him an opportunity to talk with people as he drives by. And, yes, it does. Hearing the children in the village call his name as he drives by is heart warming. We would have missed that with windows up and air running.
On a practical level, we were reminded of how difficult it is to accomplish small tasks. When we first arrived in the village, Debbi and I felt a little out of place. John, Cliff, Pastor Etienne, Lussade and Kenny have worked there so often together that they have an organized system and immediately began doing their designated jobs. With so much work just to set up, they didn't really have time to stop and assign jobs to us. Debbi and I walked, talked, and explored the village, which is set on 12 beautiful, very hilly acres. Soon I began to see a few unfinished tasks that I knew I could assist with. I asked Kenny to take us to a hardware store to gather the supplies. It ended up being an all day trip just to pick up a few items. At home I could have gathered supplies and gotten the job done in a little over an hour. Not so in Haiti. We hoped to find what we needed in Carrefour (Car foo). On the way there, we encountered a long line of traffic. We then received a phone call that perhaps we shouldn't go since they were having demonstrations. We realized that the people were blocking traffic, but seeing the police made us feel more secure about going. A few minutes later, we heard gunshots. The police were shooting into the air to scare people away from the road. We probably waited in traffic for about 45 minutes. Rolling up the windows as we went through the mob made me realize how nice a working air conditioner would have been. We ended up going to several stores to find the few things I needed, headed back to the village, and our day was mostly gone.
That evening I worked on the gravity fed showers. The water pressure is very low and we couldn't find the proper shower heads, but I was able to do a few things to improve the flow a little. Cliff was very happy that the showers no longer took 5 minutes just to get wet. I also helped put some loose wires into an electric box on an outside power pole. I did it very prayerfully not sure when EDH (ee dee ash) electricity would come back on.
After giving away so many goats in Nava, I could hardly think of leaving the village without being a part of OSM blessing some families with a goat and some food bags. It was a blessing to see the families receive a goat or a bag with beans, rice, oil, bouillon and a few essentials for their meals. The men expressed their gratitude by shaking hands and the ladies gave hugs and kisses excited to have food for a month! Thank you so much for your part in this wonderful gift.
The more I looked around, the more I saw what I could do if I had the right tools. I have already started planning and thinking about what I would bring back with me on my next visit. ~
Testimony from Debbi ~ It was a beautiful walk through the village. The homes were very colorful, the families were friendly and welcoming. I wanted to be their neighbor. Many of these families were chosen from a local tent-city. They attend a Nazarene Church there, so most of them are Christians. This made the village peaceful. The children played together and the adults sat outside and watched the men working or just talked under big trees. Each yard was full of plants, flowers, and vegetables they grew. The people are very poor, but they have a roof over their heads and I could tell they were happy. When John or Kenny starts new building projects, they hire large work crews from the village. This provides many of the men there with work, which is a great boost to them and the village. Their lives are much more difficult than ours just to survive, but also simpler than ours, without all the luxuries, chaos, gadgets, and busyness. They walk or tap-tap if they need to go anywhere. One afternoon, a woman and her children were grinding corn they had grown. The next morning, I tasted a delicious pudding like meal she had made to sell. She added sugar and milk and sold it to people in the village. ~
We had a wonderful time together with people in the village on Sunday. The church in the village was dedicated in memory of Shelby. A friend of ours, who knew Shelby, did the service. Afterwards, a large meal of beans and rice was served to over 300 people. The praise and worship service was typical Haiti, full of excitement and testimonies of God's goodness. One woman who has had trouble fitting in at the village came forward to receive Jesus Christ into her heart. You could see the love and answer to prayer for some of the ladies who knew her.
There were many precious children at the church service. Two of the most beautiful little girls sang and danced like angels during the service. Their mother shared she had just lost an 8 month old baby a few months ago because of diarrhea. How sad! They didn't live at the village at that time. We thought about how nice it would be to have a nurse come check up on the children once or twice a month, and we know the perfect woman to do so.
It was a privilege to help pick out a family to receive a new home thanks to the support of one of our OSM families. There were lots of families to choose from, but the Lord made one stand out to us. John Leininger had found, picked up, and transported to a hospital a man he found pulseless and lifeless beside the road. No one would touch the man because they believe if they do, they are then responsible to care for the man's family if he should not live. Even the local police chief would not help this man. John finally got someone to help load the man into his vehicle and he took him to a hospital. The man passed away and John located his widow and their family. This is the family for whom OSM will be building a home. We look forward to sharing more about the family as we get pictures and additional details in our next newsletter.
After our stay at the village, we went up the mountain and spent a couple of days with Lussade's family. We stopped at Pastor Marc's home/church/school on our way. The school children had already left, but it was very nice to see and visit with him and his wife. We talked about the church/school building, which is almost falling down around him. The wooden structure is rotting. Kenny plans to return with Boss Leona to see about rebuilding this structure out of block. What a blessing and privilege it would be to help Pastor Marc and the school children in this way! Please pray with us about this need for his church and school. The next day we went to Pastor Peti Noel's school. The children waited for us so we could personally visit with them. The children were singing a beautiful song as we entered the room. They were waiting for their lunches of beans and rice which looked great! This welcome was emotional as it brought back so many memories of living there, the beautiful Haitian songs and people praising Jesus. Pastor Petit (Petty) showed us a room he would like to rent for cooking and feeding the children. He requested assistance from OSM for this rental. Also, where the school is located, there is no space for the children to play. Literally, it is on the side of a very steep mountain, in the city. Kenny will return and look at a piece of land Pastor Petit has located which would give a little more space for the children.
While on the mountain, close to where we used to live, Lussade and his wife blessed us by inviting some of our dear friends and serving us all a wonderful meal. Boss Leona-a skilled mason, Mari Camelle-the cook from the school where we used to live, Nadja- our former house helper and cook, Met Philemon-a teacher at the school we lived in, Wilda-Brigitta's birth sister, TonTon-our former neighbor and laundry helper, and Md. Lizanne-our former neighbor and laundry helper, all came. What a blessing to see and visit with these men and women again. Wilda asked if we could help her start a small business. With Brigitta's help, we purchased enough goodies to give her a good start as a merchant (mer shant). Lussade will oversee this project and if she does well, we hope to help with more later.
Kenny is still working in the village. Please keep him in your prayers. We would really like to return over the next month to continue with some projects. Please pray with us about this possible trip. Finances will be our deciding factor. Also pray that OSM will be able to assist with arranging for a nurse in the village.
When we returned home, we were told that our storage shed in Nava which was full of tools, was robbed. It's not a huge surprise, but disappointing all the same. In Haiti, we had a window broken out and the rearview mirror stolen from Kenny's truck. Also, one family had their goat stolen in the village the night they received it. Coming home, the news is full of satanic activity throughout our country as well. As we have told lots of American teams, satan often comes in to destroy our joy after such an uplifting time. Though he is having a field day now, having some victories, it is temporary. Christ is coming back and He will reign victorious in the end! It is a privilege to serve Him!
Hallelujah! You who serve God, praise God! Just to speak His name is praise! Just to remember God is a blessing-now and tomorrow and always. (Ps.113)
Because of Christ,
The Kennedy Family