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February 2007
Dear Friends in Christ,
The beginning of this month Sara and Micah returned from a 10-day trip in Haiti. They joined a small group lead by John Leininger and spent time in Port-au-Prince and Joli Guibert. The first few days were spent at a Harvest International Orphanage near Port-au-Prince. There they helped with health check ups and took updated photos of each child in the orphanage.
Sara and Micah were excited to visit Pastor Peti Noel's school in Petionville; this is one of the schools sponsored by OSM. The children and teachers were very excited to see them. Right as the small American group walked up to the school door the children enthusiastically welcomed them. In unison, and in English (with a strong Creole accent) they said, "Good morning! We want to welcome you. We are glad to see you. Thank you for the food." This was followed by the children singing a few songs for the group. The children were well behaved, polite, and very grateful for the few items we gave to each of them. It was so good to see their smiling faces and hear their beautiful singing once again. While Sara and Micah were at the school, they were able to check up on some of the school's needs. Money was left with Lussade to buy more dishes and a much needed LP gas stove for the school. They have been cooking on an open fire; not only is this dirty and hot, but it also uses a lot of charcoal which is more expensive. Sara and Micah were advised not to visit Pastor Mark's school being there was fighting with guns and machetes in the area, but money was left for some of that schools needs as well.
The economy in Haiti is very poor as usual. Lussade told us that the price of beans (which along with rice is their main diet) has gone way up. Viewing the extreme poverty in the areas of both schools, I can't imagine that the school children receive much more if any food in addition to the one meal a day provided by the schools. We are very grateful for the provision over the past years enabling OSM to sponsor feeding programs for these schools. Unfortunately we do not have full financial coverage for Haiti and it is only a matter of months until the Shelby Memorial Haiti Fund runs out. Some of the school children pay an average of $8.00 a year to attend. Many cannot afford even that, but are not turned away by the pastors. The tiny bit of money coming in does not allow near enough for the teachers' salaries, much less any extra for food. I was told at times the teachers are paid out of the pastors' pockets. Pastor Mark's and Pastor Peti Noel's families have been dear friends of ours for many years. They, along with all the school children, are very precious to us just as they were so dear to Shelby's heart. Please be in prayer with us for the Lord's provision and direction in continuing the support of these two schools. To provide food for both schools and support Lussade, it is a monthly cost of $1,050.00; this is about $5.00 per child.
The day after visiting the school, the group boarded a small plane and flew southwest to Cayes. The next morning they were off to Joli Guibert. It was a 5-hour drive on a road that resembled a dry Texas riverbed, VERY bumpy! The following five days were spent in medical clinics, evangelism, teaching, and fellowship with the Haitians in the surrounding villages. It's a very long drive for these people to the nearest hospitals. Even for those who could afford the bus fare, most don't have the money to pay a hospital. The clinic days were full of people from morning till evening. Some waited all day just for medicines as simple as Tylenol. Sara spent her time in the clinic taking in patients and finding out their problems. Having no medical experience she was surprised to be given this job, but had a great time doing it. Some things were simple to treat, like giving out Tylenol, anti acids, worm pills, treating wounds, and washing the many babies and children with scabies. With the heavier situations, Sara went to the doctors for help. Micah spent the first day of clinic in the eyeglasses section. His job was to take one patient at a time, do a few simple tests to determine which glasses were needed and give them the right ones. He spent the second day cleaning wounds, which he thoroughly enjoyed, working some in the pharmacy and even washing some babies with scabies. Many people were seen, ranging from those needing just a worm pill to the ones in urgent need of surgery. For the latter, the way was paid for them to be seen and treated at a hospital. The group also spent time doing some hiking and evangelizing. They spent one day in Pestel a town on the coast, and even got to go on a ride in a small dugout canoe.
Sara and Micah were so blessed by their time spent with the sweetest country people in the beautiful mountains of Haiti. They met many people who had known and loved Shelby from the many times she had been in that area. These friends expressed how they loved being able to talk with Shelby as she was fluent in the Creole language. They were excited and surprised to see some of her family again.
Shortly after the Haiti trip we were informed that Esther, one of Pastor Mark's daughters, went home to be with the Lord. Esther was a dear friend of Shelby's and someone our family has known since she was a young girl. She was a very intelligent woman who did beautiful embroidery work and loved the Lord. Esther was deaf, but is now hearing the voice of the Lord and the beautiful music of heaven with Shelby.
During our Florida visit last December, I (Ken) ventured north with the boys to Tattnall County, Georgia, to do some ancestry investigation. Our family can be traced back at least 4 generations there. Some of my fondest childhood memories are attending family reunions. I remember visiting cemeteries and churches my ancestors help found, most being Primitive Baptist. One cemetery, the one of my Great Great Grandfather Henry Kennedy, I had never seen because my Dad wasn't exactly sure where it was located.
While visiting a cousin, Ann Riggs and her son Daniel, I inquired about the Henry Kennedy Cemetery and they told me exactly where it was. Needless to say I was very excited. After arriving at the location, we could see from the road what seemed to be a broken down chain link fence in the middle of a field behind a beautiful, well kept, older home. It was obvious no one was home, so I took a chance and trespassed through the field. What I found was both exciting and disturbing. It was the cemetery I was looking for with Henry Kennedy, and his first and second wives, but it was in horrible condition. It honestly hurt me to see it that way. The boys and I made plans right then to return soon and do something about it.
After a little investigation I located the owner of the property that surrounded the cemetery. He was very happy we wanted to clean and repair it. Next, I called our dear friends John and Jan Anderson in Ocala Florida, John is in the fence building business. They graciously agreed to help and the plan was on the way.
During February, Debbi, the boys, and I took some time off from OSM duties and made a trip to Georgia along with the Anderson family to clean and re-fence the cemetery. Only one mishap occurred, a tree fell the opposite direction we intended, straight into the cemetery, no one was injured, the stones and the fresh set fence poles were not touched. Praise the Lord for His protection over 9 people and the cemetery itself!!
During my ancestry investigations I have learned that Henry, as well as his son, William (Bill) were professing Christians. Bill's wife, Sarah Sands Kennedy had charged her granddaughter, Virginia Collins Scott, (who is a vibrant 91 years old and we were honored to meet her) to write the story of how each of my great uncles and aunts, as well as my grandfather came to Christ. What a blessing to now own a copy of this writing.
This month has been very full with the trips to Haiti and Mexico along with our family trip to Georgia. Once again it is your love, prayers, and support to O.S.M. which makes this possible. We thank the Lord for His safety and direction, and we are grateful for each of you. May our Father pour out His love and grace over you and your families.
Blessings in Christ,
The Kennedy Family