Monday, July 16, 2018

Life Transforming Relationship

FB_IMG_1530634851371“On our trip in February 2016, the team from The Bayou Church visited our Sister Church in Petit-Trou, Haiti. During home visits, we split up into three groups, and one group was able to deliver a food box to a woman who had lost her home to a fire that year. We wrote down her name "Sally Ma" because that's what it sounded like to us. At that time she had been living under an A-framed tarp.

On that trip, after talking with Pastor Solvat, we assessed that the biggest needs of the church were to finish building the parsonage and to rebuild a home for Sally Ma (Salimene, Selèmen or Selìmen - we have gotten different spellings each time we go). Our church raised $30,000 that June to rebuild the parsonage (each year our church does a "Big Give" now called the "Make a Difference" fund and that year, Haiti was one of the 5 recipients of that fund). After the parsonage rebuild was under way, we started raising money for Sally Ma's home. This time we reached out to the community and friends on Facebook, set up tables in our church foyer. [The picture is a card that showed her tent house.  The card was passed out at church, to our friends, family and co-workers as well as shared on Facebook.]FB_IMG_1530020898444

On our trip in April 2017, she had moved from her property to her daughter's property and had rebuilt a makeshift house using one standing cement wall, cement slab, tarps and tree branches. Another small group from our team went to visit her and pray with her.

It took us from January to October to raise the money to rebuild her home. When our team arrived in Feb 2018, they had already cleared the land. This time our entire team went out to pray over the land where her home would be built.

fundraising poster

When our family visited in June 2018 the house was almost complete. She was not well when we saw her in June, but I am so grateful that I was able to hold her hand and pray with her one more time. She called me "cheri" [dearest] and smiled when I introduced her to my kids who had worked so hard making videos, working the table at church, and taking pictures for me to put on Facebook, putting together their birthday and Christmas money to add to her fund - they were a huge part of the fundraising.  Three weeks after our family visited, she passed away from uterine cancer.”

~ Casey Hilty, The Bayou Church, Lafayette, Louisiana

concrete house for woman who lost house in fire 3 with Hilty family

The Hilty family was able to visit the home when they were there in June.  Casey shared that raising these funds for this widow and her family had a tremendous impact on their church’s lives and on their family’s lives.  Their kids were very involved in contributing to the raising of those funds.  “Sally Ma’s” family also were impacted as they experienced the love and care of The Bayou Church for them and their mother. 

It was truly a life transforming relationship.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

A Season for Goodbyes

Suttons croppedJoel and Laura Sutton arrived on the field in September of 2014.  Joel was an invaluable help in many areas.  He pretty much did any maintenance that needed done, not only on RMI facilities, but often on missionary homes as needed as well. He spent a lot of time at Zanglais with projects such as the desalinization unit.  He also was a driver for many of our teams and was either the missionary host or additional RMI staff on teams.  He even used his experience in tree removal after Hurricane Matthew in 2016.  He worked tirelessly opening the roads around their village and on the mission center as well as taking trees off homes in many areas.  His willingness to help in any way has been so appreciated. 

Laura’s role of facilitating all the teams and their details was an integral part of RMI’s ministry.  She helped them in coordinating their flights, their projects and ministries, and a million details to make the 40 teams we had last year run smoothly.  With her extensive nursing background, she taught several health seminars.  She helped host many a team out in the country.  She also helped nurse the various illnesses or injuries of staff or team members.  Her smile and help in keeping things organized is already being sorely missed. 

Their 4 year term has come to a close and they are returning to their home area of Gainesville, FL.  Joel plans on working with International Friendship again, a ministry for international students/families at UF.  He also may do some work at the elementary school with disabled children.  Laura hopes to be involved in women’s and children’s ministries at their home church and with individuals and community agencies needing help with nursing care.  They plan on spending time with their kids and grandkids, too.  We are sorry to see them go but wish them the best in their new endeavors.

Janae-1_thumb1

Janae Stork taught at the missionary children’s school on the mission center.  She taught Bible, social studies, grammar, writing, and literature. She was there for 3 school years but only 1 with RMI.

She returned to her home area in Illinois, but won’t be there long since she will be marrying a gentleman that she met on an RMI workteam from New Jersey.  We’ll miss her but wish her the best in the future. 


Courtney-1_thumb1Courtney Westcott also taught at the missionary children’s school on the mission center.  She taught 3 years, 1 year each in first, third and fourth grades and every subject except French and P.E.

She met most of the teams and had lunch with them. She also volunteered for the missionary body by sorting mail for the past two school years.  Courtney will be missed and we wish her the best in the future.

Monday, June 04, 2018

From Voodoo to Christ: A Life Transformed

Praying with woman as she took off voodoo amulet and accepted ChristEven though her family protested, Madame Emil took off her voodoo amulet and trusted Christ as her savior.  She was 8 months pregnant at the time and her family insisted that this decision and the taking off of her amulet would result in harm to her unborn baby.  But she was firm in her decision.  It was a moving time for the team from Nebraska who had come to her home with their Haitian C3 pastor and an RMI translator to share the Gospel with the family.  The angels rejoiced when she joined the family of God.  The pastor made a point to follow up with her to support her in this life transforming decision.  The local Haitian church did the same thing as they took her in.

RMI staff going to visit ladylady and 3 day old baby

Recently the RMI staff heard that the baby had been born, so they made a visit and brought a box of food aid as a gift to help the family. 

They were able to meet the 3 day old baby girl.  Madame Emil shared that it was the smoothest labor she has had yet (she has 3 other young children). She said she really felt the Lord’s protection and faithfulness through it all.  What a beautiful testimony! 

The local pastor went with the RMI staff and shared the Gospel again with her father.  He wasn’t ready to make that decision, but the seed has been planted.  And the pastor and church will make sure it is watered!

pastor sharing the gospel with the fatherThis is the kind of vital, life transformative ministry that RMI has been involved in for the last 30 years. 

What a privilege it is to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this family’s lives.  Pray with us for the father’s salvation.

lady, her kids and father

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Touching Lives for Generations to Come

Longtime C3 church, Creekside Community Church (Gainesville, FL) has felt burdened to build up basic educational opportunities in their C3 church, Baraderes, and its district churches for quite awhile.  Many of the district churches are very remote, from small gatherings on nearby islands to the mountains above Baraderes.  In order to do that they needed to strengthen and resource those churches.  Before a school building could be built, they had to build proper church buildings.  So this is what they have done.  Over the past several years they’ve built 3 church buildings and have committed to building a 4th one.  They’ve also built 1 school, committed to building another one and added one room onto a school to store the food for the Hot Lunch Program.   All of this has been done using local labor and under the supervision of RMI’s construction crew.  Way to go Creekside!

These efforts will reverberate not only throughout the region but down through generations to come.

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Baraderes Church...the school is on the first floor and the sanctuary is on the second floor.

Riviere Salee new church funded by youth creekside 2018

Riviere Salee Church, funded by the youth of Creekside.

Creekside team in Pederin church that they paid to build

Pederin Church praying with the Creekside team.

Grand Boucan, Baraderes district,

Grand Boucan Church’s current meeting place.  This will be the next church to be built.

Monday, May 14, 2018

HFK Child Sponsorship Spotlight: Nedchaida


Meet Nedchaida, a sweet, 7-year-old girl who lives in the Anse a Veau area.  She is in the second grade and receives a school sponsorship through our Hope for Kidz Child Sponsorship Program.

Nedchaida lives out in the country, not in Anse a Veau town proper.  It takes her 45 minutes to walk to school each day (one way).  She usually meets up with other school-mates on the way.  There are 45 children in her 2nd grade class.  Her coursework includes Haitian history and geography, math,  Bible, reading/writing/spelling in Creole,  and French.  Except for her Creole reading books, the books for most subjects are in French (the official educational language of Haiti)  but the students are taught by the teacher in Creole so that they understand.  She is learning to read in Creole from a book called "Reading with a Happy Heart."  Her class is currently learning addition.  She is very involved in the children's group at her church, where they learn Bible verses and sing songs. When I asked her her favorite song to sing, she sang "Father Abraham" for me!  She was very shy during most of our conversation, but when we were done I watched her skipping down the stairs and down the street next to her mother. That made me smile!

Nedchaida is the youngest of 5 children.  Her mother has a very kind smile and expressed how grateful she is for the sponsorship her daughter receives.  When I asked her mother what she did for work, she said she has a garden and  has a "little business" which is pretty typical.  Likely just selling whatever produce grows in their garden or little snacks.  Nedchaida's dad is currently living in the capital, Port au Prince.  It sounds like he has skills as a mason and works when there is a job available.  She helps her mom washing dishes each day.  She loves to play hide and seek and jump rope and she especially loves to play hopscotch!  When I asked her what her favorite meal is her eyes lit up and said "mayi moulen ak sòs pwa!" which is polenta (a cooked corn meal dish) and bean sauce.  Her enthusiastic reply gave her mother a laugh!

I really enjoyed getting to know this little girl and her mother and to see the difference a sponsorship makes in her life.   If you sponsor a child through our Hope for Kidz Program, thank you!  You are making a difference in that child's life and in the life of her family!

Our C3 Partner churches are working hard to secure school sponsorships for children for the 2018-19 school year.  If you would like more information on how to sponsor a child, contact your church's HFK Coordinator or go here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

RMI Turns 30 Years Old

Yep, that’s right.  RMI is 30 years old.  God has done amazing things in and through RMI and our C3 Partnership Program these past 30 years.  Our foundational program, C3 Partnerships, was a vision that started as a seed in the hearts of Herb and Shirley Shoemaker and Dan and Debbie Shoemaker and finally became Reciprocal Ministries International (RMI) in April 1988.  Herb and Shirley ran the stateside administration and Dan and Debbie, along with a handful of Haitian staff, ran the Haiti side.  From that simple beginning of desiring to see the US Church and Haitian Church experience the unity of the Holy Spirit and minister to one another reciprocally, God has raised up RMI as one of the largest missions working in South Haiti with 35 ongoing partnerships, some that are 30 plus years old.  What an amazing tribute to our Lord as we see His faithfulness demonstrated in so many ways over these past 30 years.

RMI’s vision of a church to church partnership has been way ahead of its time.  Today, it is one of the catch phrases that many missions toss around, but RMI leads the way as we continue to develop our C3 Partnership program.  We now have 35 partnerships (with a goal of 100) that are engaged in many different ministries and projects with their partner church and community.  Our emphasis on engaging these partnerships through our 5 point Impact Strategy is enabling our churches to minister through evangelism, discipleship, social compassion, and community development.  This model has provided them with a holistic ministry strategy through which RMI is constantly developing new ways through which our partners can minister into one another’s lives.

Over these past 30 years, God has blessed RMI with incredible staff.  From our staff at our Zanglais Ministry Center that have been with us from the beginning to our latest hires this year, God has proven faithful to provide just who we needed at that time.  We continue to see God’s blessing as we have seen our staff almost triple in the last 10 years to over 45 full-time national staff.  We are excited to see our Haitian staff leading many of our ministries and programs.  RMI has been a role model since its inception in the way it has treated its staff and pushed them into leadership roles.  Rob Thompson, our Haiti Field Director, Benjamin Altema, our Director of Field Operations, and Benson Joseph, our Hope For Kidz Haiti Field Supervisor, continue that tradition as they train and raise up leaders.

staff picture 2017

And what can we say about the way the Lord has provided the right missionaries right when they were needed?  Today as we look at the 2 families, 1 couple, and 4 single gals on the field, with 2 more families raising funds, we can only thank the Lord for His wonderful provision from where we started with just one couple on the field.

RMI’s second major program, the Hope for Kidz Child Sponsorship Program (HFKz) began in 1996 with a handful of kids and has been growing ever since.  HFKz Director, Barbara Rose, oversees the sponsorship of 2400 kids, a de-worming program impacting 17,000 kids, guiding our “Schools of Excellence” program for our Haitian partner schools, a hot meal program that feeds 8500 kids a day in 21 schools, and a large staff overseeing these programs both in Haiti and the US.

The 2010 earthquake prompted RMI to expand its vision.  In response to the great needs that resulted from that disaster and following hurricanes and floods, programs such as Homes for Haiti where we have provided 123 transitional homes, Water for Health where we have provided over a thousand water filters for families, and Food for Health where we have provided close to 4 million meals last year alone, came into being to help address those needs.  As a result of Hurricane Matthew (2016), Goats 4 Haiti was started and has provided 1500+ goats to date.

all 6 programs

We are very grateful to God for the many, many ways He is using RMI to transform lives.  And we are very grateful for all the many supporters and friends of RMI.  Without everyone’s support we would not be where we are today.  We have much to share about where RMI has been and where we are going for the years ahead.  Thank you.  We can’t wait to see what God does and how He’ll grow RMI in the next 30 years.  Celebrate with us!

Thursday, April 05, 2018

One Life Story–A Result of Child Sponsorship

Nadege picNadège Lavaud grew up in a coastal town as far west as you can get in Haiti’s southern peninsula.  Opportunities were limited and her family’s resources were few.  As poor subsistence fishermen, they could not send Nadège  to school.  The church they attended had a C3 Partnership with a church in New Jersey and the national pastor, knowing Nadège’s family’s limited capabilities, put her name on the Hope for Kidz list of children in need of support.  Someone from that church in the US faithfully supported her and the education she received changed her life.

After graduating from school, Nadège moved away from her small, remote town to attend teacher training school.  After finishing that program, she returned to her hometown and taught kindergarten there for 4 years.  Then she moved to Haiti’s capital to attend nursing school.  Last year, the director of the school called her.  The kindergarten program was in disarray.  Would she consider returning?  She accepted the challenge, returned to her hometown and proceeded to organize the program.

Today, under her direction, the kindergarten is well organized and Nadège is thriving in her role as a teacher.  She is happy to be making a difference in the same school and program that offered her so much hope as a young girl.

This is just one of many life transforming effects of the Hope for Kidz child sponsorship program.  The Hope for Kidz program is providing HOPE today for many kids like Nadège.  Through sponsorship, they can have a future.


** Don’t Miss Out on the Blessing! **

It’s truly a blessing to be a Hope for Kidz sponsor!  Don’t miss out on that blessing.  If you are already a sponsor, now is the time to renew your sponsorship.  If you are not a sponsor, there are kids on a waiting list needing that hope that sponsorship provides.  The cost is $384 a year or $32 a month for 12 months.  Go to RMI’s website, www.RMIbridge.org to learn more and to set up your sponsorship online.