Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tis the season for missions conferences!

February is the month many churches have their missions conferences. RMI has 3 conferences they will be represented in here in Southwest Florida.

Feb 1 - 5 McGregor Baptist Church, Dan & Debbie Shoemaker’s and Kim Rose’s home church.

Feb. 19 - 26 Westminster Presbyterian Church, Amanda Biser’s home church. She’ll actually be speaking on Feb. 17 and 19.

Feb. 26 Estero United Methodist Church, a Sister Church.

Here’s a sneak peak at our re-designed display.


Pray for these churches and conferences as they challenge people to consider how God could use them. Pray also that these conferences gains us good exposure and possibly contacts of folks who might be interested in pursuing a career with RMI. We really need more feet on the ground!!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Amy Long is making a transition

RMI field missionary, Amy Long, is transitioning from a 2 year term to being a full time missionary and could use your prayers as she raises additional funds to make that happen. Here is her prayer card.Amy Long's prayer card

Friday, January 27, 2012

Gary & Marilyn McLaughlin’s Prayer Card

RMI field missionaries, Gary & Marilyn McLaughlin’s prayer card is a good reminder to do exactly that…remember to pray for them and the vital ministries they do for RMI & the Haitian people!McLaughlin Prayer Card

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Rob Thompson family prayer card

RMI Field missionaries, Rob and Becky Thompson, have a new prayer card. Wow, have their children grown! Thompson's prayer card 2011

Friday, January 20, 2012

Volunteers and visitors from afar

Bud and Dolly journeyed from far away Michigan to help us out here at the RMI office!Kim's parents 2012

(Actually they are Kim Rose’s parents!! They left the snowy north to visit Kim and Barb in the sun.) They came in to help stuff, seal and prepare the year end receipts. Where would we be without our volunteers?!

Charlotte Zegers and Tom and Shirley Crick are local volunteers who have been immensely helpful!! They stuff, seal and prepare special mailings, label theBridge and get it ready to mail, collate and assemble RMI’s Orientation Training manuals. There is quite a bit of behind the scenes work that is essential to the running of the RMI office. Thank you all so much for your willingness to give your time and effort – what a service (and always done with a smile)!!

Jim & Ruth Hill 2Friends of RMI, Jim & Ruth Hill, of Michigan, stopped by for a visit and to see the office in August of last year.

We love to have our friends stop by for a visit when they are in the area for vacation, spring break or whenever!!

If you are in the area or just passing through, give us a call and come on by. We would enjoy seeing you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

RMI’s VP of Operations, Kim Rose

A key to RMI’s day to day operations is Kim Rose! Here is his prayer card.Rose Prayer Card

An Immediate, yet Eternal Community Wide Investment…

cheretteschoolbeforeEstero United Methodist Church has made a huge impact, not only for today, but for years to come in their Sister Church partnership community, Cherette, Haiti. The immediate and eternal return on this investment is simply immeasurable. It’s truly Hope for Haiti.

Several years ago, a team of leaders, movers and shakers arrived in Haiti for their first Sister Church visit with Reciprocal Ministries International and made some observations. Their Sister Church was making every effort possible to build and have a school. Yet, the Haitian church found that it was exceedingly difficult to do all that they dreamed with so few resources. They had made progress personally, but their dreams were still far off in the uncertain distant future. There were “rough beginnings”, but much was yet to be done. Along came their brothers and sisters at Estero United Methodist Church. Led by God, with heart, with compassion, with guts they sought out to raise the significant funding to make it all happen.

PA190075 - Copy - CopyToday, here in Cherette, Haiti, there is a fully functioning school. 9 equipped school rooms. A roof. Permanent blackboards. More than 80 school benches. All the teachers have their own desks, and chairs! There are security doors as well! 100% built with local Haitian workers. The hot lunch program (every child get’s a hot nutritious lunch every school day) through Hope for Kidz is in full swing. More children are now attending the school. They have added a secondary school in the afternoon, and even an adult domestic training center in the afternoons to teach adults sewing and cooking, for both personal and business applications.

PA190065It’s a new day in Cherette, Haiti.

Pastor Bientot Salomon has written a letter of gratitude to the Estero UM Church. If you are a member of the Estero/Cherette eGroup, you can view this letter here. If you aren’t a member, send a blank email to estero-cherette-partnership-updates+subscribe@rminet.org to subscribe.

More pictures can be seen here.

Here is a video that Estero UMC put together early on in this process.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A new Ride for a Haitian Pastor…

austrucmotoA great option to encourage and equip a Haitian pastor is to provide a motorcycle for his church. The Haitians pastors are best able to minister to their communities when they are mobile.

In the picture you see, Pastor Guilluame is sitting on his brand new Honda 125 motorcycle. Pastor Guillaume is the pastor in Astruc, the Sister Church to The Orchard EFC in Arlington Heights, IL. Pastor Guillaume will now be able to much more efficiently and quickly visit Cayes for his ongoing Biblical seminary training, visit his people throughout the Astruc community, and visit the multiple other M.E.B.S.H. churches he oversees throughout the Astruc district as M.E.B.S.H. District Pastor.

A motorcycle is a ministry tool that expands the ministry horizons toward more effective ministry and service to the Haitian people.

Astruc Church and School… Dewormed!

Recently, The Orchard EFC paid for and initiated their second annual Deworming Clinic in their partnership community, Astruc, Haiti. RMI Pharmacist Becky Thompson, Nurse Denise Joseph (Benson’s wife), RMI Translator Marie France, and RMI Administrator Benjamin Altema completed this clinic. Every child and adult in the Astruc church and school received deworming meds. The Orchard EFC team will be arriving in Haiti in less than one week to do deworming clinics (among other things), including prevention training, to deworm 2 more communities in their Sister Church Partnership District.

According to Deworm the World, “Over 600 million school-age children are infected with parasitic worms. These infections are chronic and widespread, harming children’s health and development and limiting their participation in school. School-based deworming is universally recognized as a safe, simple and cost-effective solution. The benefits of school-based deworming are both immediate and enduring. Regular treatment can reduce school absenteeism by 25% and increase adult earnings by over 20%, and at a cost of less than 50 US cents per child per year.”

You can see more pictures here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

4:53 p.m., January 12, 2010 will never be forgotten

Jan. 12, 2012 earthquake timeA point in time that changed the history, landscape and the national psyche of Haiti. Today is the 2 year anniversary of the 7.0 earthquake that hit just to the southwest of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Every Haitian was affected in some way, if not by losing family, friends, homes or jobs, then by being injured, or having to take in homeless family and/or friends. Having their governmental buildings and office destroyed, the places they shop, go to church, or school destroyed has irrevocably changed life as they knew it.

There are still over 500,000 living in tent cities. Just think of that! That’s the size of Lee County, where the RMI office is located. All those people still, 2 years later, living in tents. It is mind boggling to think of what it means to live like that for so long.

RMI is happy to be a bright spot in that sea of hopelessness through Homes for Haiti. Last year alone RMI built and provided 59 homes. But the work is not stopping there! Here are Facebook entries from 2 of RMI’s field missionaries posted just this week:

From Gary McLaughlin:

Thursday, Jan. 7: Starting Saturday we'll be building 4 homes in 5 days. Taking Sunday off to attend church at Picot with the Loomis Team. It's going to be a great week.

Saturday, Jan. 9: First house was finished today and the new owner is the retired pastor's daughter that was trapped under the rubble in Port-au-Prince for I think 9 days. I saw her are CNN news come out of the rubble, stand on top of the pile of broken blocks, put her arms in the air and praise God for sparing her life. She lives in the Simon area, right next to Citi Lumiere, where many missionaries live. It was a great day 1. One of 4 finished. Picot tomorrow for church service with the team.

Tuesday, Jan. 10: We'll be loading #4 home on the truck this morning and taking it to the site for assembly. Weather's been great and the team is strong and working hard. Hardest part of the job is holding Wilfred [Haitian contractor in charge of building the homes] back so the team can do the work. That's a good thing though, ah? Good day all.

Last of 4 homes finished by 12pm today. This afternoon we put in 5 bio water filter systems. Another great day in Haiti for us. Praise God!

Loomis building 4 houses in 2.5 days #1Loomis building houses, Jan. 2012Loomis house

Wednesday, Jan. 11: Up at 3:30 this morning and off to Les Anglais for kids pictures and to check on the three new classrooms OSLC [Our Savior’s Lutheran Church] had us put up for them. Going to be another great day with Marilyn, Benson, Merry Raymond and Marie France.

3 houses built in Aux Coteaux, incorporated into the school building for 3 classrooms, Jan. 2012

(Explaining his photo of the 3 classrooms) Three homes purchased for classrooms. Church took a wall out and made them wider. Not finished yet but first room had room for 39 kids. I was thinking they could do 18 or 24 depending on what class was in them.

(In response to a comment about the 3 classrooms built from the houses.) I was thinking they would be hot too when I first saw these homes but the opposite is the case. They are cooler inside than out. You can put this house in the direct sunlight all day and it's cooler inside than out. The roof is a reflective galvanized material and the walls are white painted aluminum.

From Becky Thompson:

Biosand filterTuesday, Jan. 10: Nebraska team finished 4 houses in 2.5 days for earthquake displaced people. They are WAY ahead of schedule! So the rest of today and tomorrow morning they are installing biosand filters in people's homes and helping with some small projects around the mission center.

[Bio-sand filter is shown at one of the installations.]

Rebuilding Haiti is an agonizingly slow process. But we are there for the long haul! We have a committed cross-cultural team who feel called of God to continue to serve Him there. For the missionaries, this is their home. For the national staff, they are thrilled to be a moving force in helping their own country. They feel empowered to accomplish the tasks given them and work tirelessly. We are so thankful for this on-the-ground team!

Food for Haiti continues to meet the needs of hungry Haitians. Last year over 67 tons of food (822,672 Meals) were distributed and approximately 2600 children were provided with a daily hot lunch at school through the Hope for Kidz program. Plans are already made to distribute more in the coming months.

RMI leadership, Dan Shoemaker and Kim Rose, will be going to Haiti Jan 23 to 27. It will be a time of meeting with our missionaries and staff as we plan activities, etc. for this year. They will also be meeting the new president of MEBSH and his staff to introduce him to Kim and to begin a dialogue as to how RMI and MEBSH can continue to work hand in hand into the future. In addition, they will visit several businesses that RMI is interested in working with to create jobs in southern Haiti in some of the towns where we have Sister Church Partnerships.

At the end of their trip, they will be attending a one day conference in Port-au-Prince designed to bring non-profit agencies together with Haitian businesses. The goal is to better understand each other and to encourage more partnering together in buying supplies or services from the businesses instead of going outside of the Haitian community for these things. The conference is a part of a coalition of agencies that RMI is a part of called “Rebuilding Haiti”. This coalition is striving to see 100,000 jobs created in the next 10 years as well as leadership development and pastoral training.

Arise Haiti croppedLike we said, The work goes on! Pray for Haiti and the rebuilding efforts. Pray for RMI’s work there. Pray for our staff and the teams that are going to minister. We cannot do all that we are doing without your prayer involvement and without your financial involvement. You can donate online HERE.

Remember Haiti with us.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Larry Smith, former RMI Board Chairman, passes away

Larry Smith

It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of former RMI Board Chairman, Larry Alvin Smith, of Lafayette, Louisiana on January 4, 2012. Larry was 63 and is survived by his dear wife, Kay, and 5 adult children, Ally, Jason, Becca, Jessie and Lizzie.

Larry was an entrepreneur, a businessman, a fabulous chef and host, a violinist, avid golfer and many other things. He was a charter member and elder of Trinity Bible Church for over 30 years. It was through Trinity’s involvement with RMI as a Sister Church that he first went to Haiti in the 1990’s. He fell in love with the Haitian people and he made sure that his next visit included his wife, Kay. Over the next 15 or so years they returned to visit their brothers and sisters in the Picot church numerous times. When there were school or church benches to be built, Larry joyfully grabbed the glue bottle and became the “Mighty GLUEMAN"!. The Picot people loved Larry as much as he loved them. Being a chef and from Louisiana, he wanted to share some of his homeland’s delicacies. He brought in sausage, bought local chicken and made gumbo for 75 people during one of his visits. Each year after that it grew, meaning he needed to bring in even more sausage. The team’s rallying cry each visit was “forget the luggage, but make SURE that sausage gets there!”. Every time the team arrived, the Haitians greeted Larry with cries of “GUM – BO!!!” Eventually they were feeding 700 people before they had to call it quits. To this day everyone in the area remembers Larry's Gumbo!

Larry joined the RMI Board in 1998 and became the Chairman in 2001. He served in that capacity until 2007 when, according to Board policy, he cycled off of the Board. His leadership and input for those 9 years were priceless. We appreciated his involvement with RMI over the years. His care and concern for RMI in general was amazing. We enjoyed Kay’s involvement with RMI as well. They were both a breath of fresh air. At one meeting Kay was unable to come with Larry. She missed it so much she made it known in no uncertain terms that she was to come with Larry each and every time, no matter what. Since he owned Acadiana Bottling Co., the Lafayette area’s Pepsi distributors, it became the unofficial drink of the RMI Board. Larry took his loyalty to Pepsi very seriously and wouldn’t tolerate a Coke product anywhere near him. We quickly learned that it was nothing to joke about. :)

For several years, Larry organized and hosted a golf tournament to benefit Hope for Kidz.

Larry and Kay were great friends with RMI President, Dan Shoemaker, his wife, Debbie, and their 2 children, Devon and Dawn, for almost 20 years. When they came home from Haiti and went through the Lafayette area during the summers, Larry and Kay hosted them in their home. He cooked and hosted gatherings with a flair, let the kids ride horses, fish in their pond, swim in the pool and generally made them feel like royalty. On one memorable occasion, Larry made arrangements for his family, the Shoemakers and several Trinity church friends to celebrate Devon’s birthday in his presidential suite in the Cajundome during a Charlie Daniels / Dave Mathews Band concert. He treated everyone to a fabulous catered meal and a gourmet birthday cake. Another year he treated them to an Elton John concert in the suite. He is the reason that Dan, Debbie, Devon and Dawn all love hot, spicy Cajun food. It was delightful when a foal was born during one of our visits, and Larry named it Dandee, after Dan. After one of his first visits to Haiti, he fell in love with Debbie’s Mango jelly. He took it home and had his lab formulate a mango drink from it.

Kay and Larry were a part of RMI’s DNA for many years and made an indelible impression on all of us. His care, compassion, smile, generosity, energy, zest for life and endless ideas of how to help RMI and his Haitian brothers and sisters will be greatly missed.

Dan Shoemaker and RMI founder, Herb Shoemaker, traveled to Lafayette for the funeral which took place at Trinity Bible Church on January 7, 2012. Larry’s obituary can be found HERE.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

They make it look so easy…

gary with the ladies
Gary out on a trip with the Hope for Kidz team on their way to the Grand’Anse.

But months of hard work go into making the Hope for Kids program ready for a new school year. In fact, in October of every year, not too long after the current school year has gotten underway, the Hope for Kidz team starts gearing up for the next year. Marilyn McLaughlin, Merry Raymond, and Benson Joseph, the Hope for Kidz team, head out into the country side to get photos of each of the students. This year the team was also joined by Marie France Cherival and Perguens Hyppolite and an occasional visit by Gary McLaughlin as well.

The Paperwork:
Before photos are taken, each Haitian pastor receives a packet of applications for students to be selected for the following year. The number of applications is based on participation from the previous year, expected graduations at the end of the current year, a few additional applications as decided by the RMI field staff and any requests that the Sister church has made for additional students are also considered. Once these applications are completed by the pastors and turned into the Haiti Field office, the hard work begins.

The Pictures:
The Hope for Kidz staff makes appointments with all the churches to take the kids pictures; and then they hit the road. To locations within just a few hours of the mission center, day trips are made but for locations which are farther away, such as out in the Grand'Anse, a schedule is created which allows them to spend a few days out in the area, making visits at a different church each day. They pack their overnight bags, load up their camera equipment and head out. At the church, they set up an area that will be suitable to taking the photos. They hang the back drop (each year a new backdrop is chosen), set up the area and work with the pastor to get the children called in an orderly fashion. The RMI staffs have a list of all the kids that are to have their photos taken that day.

doing their thng

benson the photog
The team hard at work taking the students pictures.

Students waiting in the school yard to get their pictures taken and on-lookers curious as to what's going on.

One by one they are called. Two pictures of each student are taken; one with their ID number and Church location (for ID purposes) and one without the ID info for the student profiles. The staff work really hard and sometimes even do silly things to try and get the kids to smile for their profile pictures!


thank you letters
Marie France working with some of the students on their thank you letters.

After completing the pictures for the day, they enjoy a meal cooked by some of the ladies of the church. They then settle in for a good night’s sleep. Early the next morning they pack up, say their good-byes and head to the next location. This process begins in October and ends in January, once all the students’ pictures have been obtained.

The Process:
Once the team has gotten the students pictures, they begin the next step in the process. Information and updates on students are entered into the computer in order to begin creating the profiles for next year. The pictures are processed and matched to their sponsor profiles. Upon completion, profiles are sent out to their respective US church and then they wait for the magic to happen! (This is where all you amazing sponsors come in!) Though the profiles are completed the work is never done. Marilyn and Merry continue to process incoming payments, send payments to the schools, work on thank you letters, respond to emails and continuously update their records with information sent to them by the Pastors. Marie France and Perguens are also busy translating thank you letters that the kids have written to their sponsors. Benson stays busy maintaining contact with each of the schools and holding them accountable to the things they have been asked to do as part of the process as well as delivering food to the schools which participate in the Hot Meals Program. It’s a process that never ends.

So next time you walk past the table in your church lobby and see the picture of a student from Haiti (which may or may not be smiling- but trust us, we TRIED!) perhaps you’ll take a moment to remember that that child isn’t there by accident. He was chosen. And a team of individuals are working hard to make sure that he gets a chance to be known.

And maybe, just maybe, he was sent there just for you!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Good food, even better fellowship

Dec. 30 RMI’s US staff enjoyed their annual Christmas/New Year’s dinner on the Shoemaker’s lanai in Lehigh Acres, FL.

IMG_2677 - tuned

It was fun to relax together and just enjoy each other’s company! We had a gourmet meal of portobello mushroom stuffed, herb crusted Cornish hens prepared by our resident chef/president, Dan Shoemaker.

IMG_2685 tuned

We won’t say who ate more than 1 whole hen!!

We were sorry that several folks were ill and unable to join us!

The rest of the pics can be seen HERE.

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Cornish hen, scalloped potatoes, yellow squash and yeast rolls - tuned