Haitian Artisan Fair

A week or so ago, there was a Haitian Artisan Fair right down the road from where we live.  It was held at the Sugar Cane Park, which usually is a quiet park, restaurant, and museum depicting an old sugar cane plantation. It held sort of a county fair type feel with art vendors set up throughout the park, food vendors, and they even had some blow up bouncy house type things for kids. It was a different side of Haiti that we don’t get to see very often.  The middle class families and people of Haiti all together supporting the arts.  I even bought a few things while I was there.

These pretty little girls were crocheting with all their hearts!

Colorful bird made from a tire!

These guys are mosiac artists. I LOVE mosiacs!

This one was my fave.

I bought this metal sea turtle, in honor of our science class this year.

My new Christmas Nativity metal work.

Metal angel candle holders.

Callie showing off the Christmas ornament the "angel guy" threw in as a gift.

When the Creator God created man in His image, we inherited this need and ability to create as well.  I love seeing what others create!  Most of my creativity flows forth in my kitchen.  What about you?  What do you create?

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VBS in Balan, Haiti

VBS in Balan

As Eric and I were preparing to move to Haiti in 2008, it was our intention to move to Balan, Haiti.  Over the course of a few months, God directed our path toward a different direction; however, our hearts are forever bent toward the people who live here. Balan is a village that sits close to Lake Azuei which is nestled beneath the high mountains of the Dominican Republic to the west and to the east is surrounded by a portion of arid land.  The desert like thorn bushes and cacti are growing from a salty, sandy soil. Men and young boys move their herds of sheep and goats from watering holes to patches of grass throughout the day and then on and on into the days, months, and years before and behind them.

There is little relief from the pounding sun here where the mango trees refuse to grow. Most of the town’s residents live in one room mud huts with a thatched roof.  Daily living is a chore and survival demands all from those living here.  A long term solution to the water needs of the people in Balan has yet to be reached.  The ground water is salty, the lake is brackish, and the only fresh water spring is a mile and a half away.  The road to Balan is treacherous making the delivery of goods and supplies very difficult.

New Hope Haiti Mission has planted a church here in Balan. Pastor Leonel and his family are wonderful friends.  He travels to Balan several times a week to study and pray with his church members.  He is dedicated to the people, to the village, and to his church. He loves the Lord with a great passion.

It was for the children here in Balan that the SOAR group prepared short lessons and activities.  Monday and Tuesday afternoons, we headed out around noon to meet up with the children after school.  The church is sitting on a piece of property on the edge of the village and currently has no wall around it and no doors on the church.  The hardest part about a VBS in Balan is keeping a manageable sized group of kids to work with.  It always breaks my heart to have to put a bench across a doorway and a person to guard it to keep others from crossing into the church.  Unfortunately, we have learned the hard way that when we don’t keep a close watch at the doors, chaos ensues and no one gets the blessing of the story, activities, and treats.  We leave it up to the ladies from the church to figure out who gets to participate.

The kids learning to sing a song in sign language.  They were glued to Miss Wendy as she taught them the signs.

Miss Sue patiently allowing the girls at the door to braid her hair while holding sweet Aimee.

We had close to 100 inside the church and close to 100 at the doors and windows.

These photos come from the camera of Melinda Wilson. Thanks, Melinda for the great pics!  Ok, just one more picture of this really sweet little girl.

Year of 40th Anniversaries

“What if you woke up tomorrow with only who or what you thanked God for today?”

This Gratituesday, I am thanking God for my parents and Eric’s parents.  This year, both sets of our parents celebrated 4o years of marriage.  My parents celebrated just this week on October 23rd.

Jerry and Susan Salamun

I am thankful for their example of a strong, godly marriage that they have shown to me and my sisters and our families.  They have taught me many things over the years about perseverance, generosity, thinking of others over myself, and hard work.  They faithfully have shown the love of Christ and the grace to love, forgive, and serve.  I am blessed to be their daughter and proud to call them my parents.

Christine and John Lotz

I (Eric speaking) am thankful for my parents and their example of a house that stays together.  Through the years there have been ups and downs, but my parents have remained faithful to each other and to my sister Jenny and me.  I am thankful for my dad who taught me so many different talents, but most of all for teaching me that if I put my mind to anything, I can do it.  I am thankful for my mom and her example of doing what it takes to provide for her family.  I can remember as a kid my mom working all night as a nurse in the ER, and then coming home to take me to swim practice in the morning.  Thank you to my parents for loving each other and sticking together for 40 years!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Angel Bags

Our great friends from Atlanta, Georgia are here visiting.  SOAR (Serving Others and Rejoicing) ministries works to lead short term mission teams all over the world.  One of their big projects every year are Angel Bags.  In December, they pack up a big truck load of toys to give to kids in Mexico and share the story of Christmas to little ones in  Mexican villages.  When Eric and I moved to Haiti in November of 2008, they also expanded Angel Bags to Haiti, specifically to New Hope Haiti Mission and to the kids in the Balan Christian Church. You can read the SOAR blog to find out more about their trip!

The group arrived on Saturday and immediately went right to work.  They unloaded their luggage and sorted out the gift bags, reloaded and headed straight to the orphanage.  After a quick bite of Soup Joumou (Pumpkin Soup), they led the kids in some songs, a story, and then handed out the Angel Bags.

Kids love presents and these kids are no exception!  They were excited for their many great presents found inside their bags.

Hannah Hamilton came over and spent the day with us, too.  She helped Little Manno open his bag.  He is one of the newest members of New Hope Haiti Mission.  Afterwards, the kiddos had their faces painted.

Ti Chat Yo, the little kitties

Fabulous Fun!

A Goat Surprise

Through our years of working in Haiti, we have found many Haitian friends who are so generous.  We have received many gifts throughout our time here, a turkey, a butchered goat, cremas (Haitian New Year’s Eve Drink), potatoes, eggs…  I always appreciate these gifts because I know they are given with love and appreciation to our family for living and working in Haiti.

Today, Eric’s airport connection brought over a huge bag of patat, or Haitian sweet potatoes.  These sweet potatoes are my favorite sliced thin and fried; however, that is probably the least healthy way to enjoy them!

patat, Haitian sweet potatoes

mmm...

He also brought over a live goat, much to our surprise!

Grover

The kids promptly named him “Grover” borrowed from the satyr in the  Lightning Thief series.  The kids are having a great time, but our dog just doesn’t know what to think.  I am pretty sure Bella wants to herd the poor goat, but since the goat is tied, it can’t go anywhere.  Pretty much the goat just watches Bella, and Bella barks incessantly.  This could get old.

Fast forward one night.  Bella and Grover became good friends.  Bella was licking its face and trying to play ball with him.

Goat: it’s what’s for dinner…

Made with Lotz of Love

We have company coming on Saturday!  Our friends from Atlanta will be here for the better part of the week and we have all kinds of great things planned.  The kids will be taking the week off of school so we can participate fully!  Since our days will be full, and we are going to have to eat in there somewhere, I have been trying to get ahead in the food department.

Last night, the kids helped me bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies to pop in the freezer for our guests.  I asked Callie to kiss each cookie with a chocolate chip.  She gladly agreed and proceeded to kiss the chocolate chip before she placed it on the cookie.  I tried to explain that she didn’t really NEED to kiss each chocolate chip before it went on the cookie.  Needless to say, these cookies were made with Lotz of Love.

If you don’t want any, I wouldn’t blame you…but who could resist?

Meet Miss Jasmine

Miss Jasmine is part of my sanity for this school year.  She comes every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday to help watch over Aimee, Callie, Wilson, and Jett during my morning school schedule with Christa and Hannah.  Jasmine is also our French teacher. After my time with the girls is finished, she takes Christa and Hannah and instructs them in French for about an hour on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. I get the boys during French until our lunch time.  Fridays they usually watch a movie in French during French class.

Jasmine is a younger sister of one of my former Sonlight Academy students.  She speaks English, (which is a huge bonus for me) and she is great with the kids. I really want for the kids to pick up more Creole as well.  Language is so tricky.  Callie understands a lot of the Creole spoken to her, but she refuses to say very many words in Creole.  Hopefully, they are getting it!

Christa glaring at me during French class.

 

Miss Jasmine and Aimee

 

She even helps me with Aimee’s hair.  It is so hard to braid!

Thanking God

My friend Debbie Hamilton read something to me a couple of weeks ago that went something like this, “What if you woke up tomorrow with the only things that you thanked God for today?”

I have to say that this thought has lingered long and hard in my mind for the last couple of weeks.  I have not failed to remember it each day since I first heard these words.  It has turned many thoughts of thankfulness into prayers of thankfulness.  It has made me look for people and things in my life for which I need to be thankful.  Each day, I find more people to be thankful for and certain things that would ordinarily be taken for granted, I have been turning the praise back to God.  We people have a tendency to turn toughts like this one into little superstitions.  I want to genuinely be thankful for the amazing gifts that the LORD has given to me!

First and most important, I am thankful for the spiritual blessings that God has given to me.  Ephesians 1 outlines these cleary.

1.He chose us.  v.4

2.He predestined us to be adopted. v.5

3.He has freely given us grace through Jesus. v.6

4.Redemption through his blood. v.7

5.Forgiveness of sins. v.7

6.He made known to us the mystery of his will.  v.9

7.He marked us with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.  v.13

Next, I am thankful for my amazing husband.  He has blessed my life in so many ways through his love for the LORD, his love for me and the kids, and his love for other people.  God has gifted him in so many ways and I love that he is able to use his gifts and talents to serve the people of Haiti.  God placed him with Operation Blessing just before the 2010 earthquake to minister to the needs in Port-au-Prince.  I am proud to be his wife and proud of all God does through him.

Eric and me at Club Indigo

Wow!  There is so, so much more, but it will have to wait for another time.

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers.

Baby Kittens

Poor Sophie Cat

Last Sunday, (when we were all busy painting the living room)  Christa snapped this picture of her poor kitty.  She finally gave birth to five really sweet kittens later that evening.  In fact, the first one popped out right under the kitchen table.  We quickly moved her over to a safe corner so she could have the rest…well, right after she ate the placenta.  Weird, but true.

Five Day Old, Muffin

The Whole Gang

"I Surrender!" (one week)

Joumou

It is pumpkin time everywhere, including here in Haiti.  I love the deep green of the Haitian pumpkins and wonder why in the States, we find so many orange pumpkins except at the specialty pumpkin patch.  In all my years in the States, I have only used pumpkins in decorating, carving, and pumpkin pies made from canned pumpkin.  I think I have been missing out!

We started our pumpkin day with Pumpkin math.  We gutted the pumpkin and while the kids removed the seeds from the rest of the innards, I put the pumpkin flesh into the stock pot with just a little water and cooked it while we were working at the table.  After we removed the seeds and washed them up a bit, we divided them between all of the kids.  Christa had 200 seeds and she worked at dividing them into groups of 9, then 8, and so forth.  We worked those division problems on paper and then acted them out with the seeds.  Hannah reviewed regrouping 10’s, and Wilson and Jett practiced counting by 10’s, 5’s, and 2’s.  Callie worked on counting by 1’s.  I don’t think anyone learned anything new, but it was fun to get our hands dirty.

Jett, always ON the table!

Hannah and Callie

After we finished counting the pumpkin seeds, I removed the yummy orange flesh from the peel and pureed it.  Aimee has a nice stash of homemade pumpkin baby food.

Sweet Pumpkin Face

I coated the pumpkin seeds with coconut oil and salt and roasted them at 225 degrees for about an hour.  Wow!  They were so yummy!

Later that night, I made Diri Ak Joumou, or Rice with Pumpkin for dinner.  It was good, although all of the kids weren’t completely impressed.  Eric wants some meat loaf.  I think it will make a great side for some meat loaf.

Our pumpkin day wasn’t exactly like we would do it in the States.  We didn’t get to go to a pumpkin patch and ride on a hayride.  We didn’t get our picture taken on a hay bale next to a scarecrow; but, we had a fun day together!