Foret d’Pins

The Haitian Pine Forest!  Sixty-five degrees and fresh pine air awaited us at the top of the mountains, a welcome change to the hot and dusty streets of Port-au-Prince.  It is a rare day when we load up everyone in the middle of the week along with a big bag of muffins, Pringles, and some chocolate bars (that may have melted  beyond the point of eating).  Ahh, but that is what we did on Ash Wednesday, a day when all of the stores and schools are still closed in Haiti because of Carnival. The beauty of God’s creation surrounded us and at every turn we stood in awe and wonder at the One who made it.

Immediately as we hopped out of the car to hike up a trail through the pine trees, the kids spotted wild strawberries covering the ground.  They started picking and eating the strawberries.  As soon as they cleared out a patch, they went looking for more.  They were delicious, but only enough to whet the appetite for more.

There is no way these wild strawberries would ever truly satisfy my family of eight, but the kids were determined to try!  Strawberries are a coveted item amongst my kids. We found a 2 lb pack of imported strawberries at the grocery store for the bargain price of $13 just the other day.  Needless to say, we didn’t buy the imported ones.  I am pretty sure they didn’t taste as good as the wild ones anyway.

Other cool things we found on our trip to the Pine Forest:

Hannah's five leaf clover

Agave antillarum (as best as I can decipher)

Flower stalk of the Agave plant, close to 12 feet high!

As we were heading back near the end of the day.

I cherish these moments with my family.  I love the joy of hiking through the forest.  I adore the One who makes life worth living.

Saut d’ Eau

Last Sunday afternoon, we took a two hour drive out of Port-au-Prince to see a part of Haiti that we have yet seen.  Eric was scouting out the land to see about drilling a well in a little town called Zorange.  The fam piled in the car to spend some quality time together. What we found was beautiful!

The road up the mountain was actually a great road, wide and even.  This is always a bonus!  As we wound our way up the mountain, the sights of the city were diminished by an amazing view of the Caribbean Sea.

We found the little village Eric was looking for and instead of turning around and heading home, we kept going up and up.  We came to this beautiful waterfall cascading over the side of the mountain.  As we were gaping out the window, Eric asked a man on the street what we would find if we continued up the way.  He laughed and said what we were looking at was nothing and to continue further up to see the real waterfalls.  What a surprise!  We found this little community at the top of the mountain called Saut d’Eau, ( French for ‘waterfall’)and a Haitian national park.  We had to make a donation to get in and then a group of locals followed us to watch us look at the waterfalls.  Funny how they didn’t have to make a donation…

Christa with her little brothers.

Unfortunately, we showed up late in the afternoon.  We are planning a day trip soon so we can go prepared with lunch and swimsuits.  What a gem in the middle of a country where everything is difficult!

Oh yeah, and on the way home we found these amazing watermelons for sale.  Watermelon for breakfast in the middle of February? Sure, we can handle that.

 

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Hope Christian Church

Sunday morning I was blessed to attend church with my parents.  My mom was able to go for the first time since November, for the first time since her stage 4 Ovarian Cancer diagnosis. They are active members at Hope Christian Church in Waterloo, IL.  I followed them in through the front door where they were immediately hugged and loved on by the greeter and a few people in the foyer.  We went for second service with time to spare a visit to their Sunday School Class beforehand.  I stood back by the door and watched my mom and dad get many more hugs, conversations of treatments and concern, and much more love.  It kept bringing tears to my eyes, so I tried to busy myself by looking at the bulletin board and talking to a few people here and there.  Finally, we began to step out from the class and head to the service when the teacher called my mom back and gathered everyone around her for prayer.  After church, there was even more visiting and caring conversations taking place between my mom and dad and fellow Christians who love the Lord, and who love my parents.  There was even a pot of soup and a loaf of sourdough bread waiting in the kitchen for us to enjoy for lunch.

Later my mom said that she has never been prayed for like her Sunday school class prayed for her.  I love how God has placed my parents in a church that is actively seeking to be the church.  My mom is so blessed by so many loving, wonderful people.  I know that God has her right in the palm of His hand.  I am thankful that my parents are being so well cared for as I am going to have to return to Port-au-Prince all too soon.

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Going Home

Less than a week before Christmas, my momma received a diagnosis of Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer and just three days before Christmas started her chemotherapy.  It has been a hard month and a half for her and my dad with many days of uncertainty.  In times like this, it is hard to live so far away from home and so far away from my family.

God worked out the details for Eric’s mom to come for a visit in January this year.  Because she is going to be here, I feel like I can leave my family here in Haiti to visit my mom and dad in St. Louis.  I leave on Friday the 6th and get a whole week and a half to spend with my parents.  I am anxious to be there to serve them anyway I can.  I know that my kiddos will be in good hands while I am away.  I am trying to leave the freezer stocked with a bunch of food for my mother-in-law.  There is just something about these kids of mine…always wanting food!

In addition to seeing my mom and dad, I am looking forward to reading some books, catching up my blog, and spending time in God’s word.  These things somehow seemed to get pushed aside in the midst of cooking, piles of dirty dishes and dirty laundry, and educating my Little Lotzes.

Please pray for my mom and my dad.    I am so grateful for the opportunity to visit them right now!  Please pray for Eric’s mom, too, as she has to take care of six kids!  We will worry about school after I return (much to the delight of the kids).

 

 

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Fresh Water in Medan Belize

A week ago Sunday, our whole family was invited to attend a small ceremony signifying the completion of another joint organization project.  The Clinton Foundation, Greif, Caribbean Harvest, and Operation Blessing joined forces to build a small addition to a community building that Operation Blessing previously built for a small village located on Lake Azuei.  The purpose of this addition was to provide more surface area with which to collect rain water for those who live in Medan Belize, Haiti.  This group of people live right on the brackish waters of Lake Azuei, which is huge and beautiful, but can do nothing to help meet the fresh water needs of the people.  Operation Blessing provided the labor and know how to get the project from vision to realization on the ground here in Haiti. Eric was in charge of implementing the plan on a short deadline.  It is always tricky trying to get a project to come together, especially when you are waiting for important supplies in customs!

Many people from these organizations were coming Sunday afternoon to present the project to the village.  We showed up Sunday morning to spend the day at the lake while Eric had some last minute things to see to completion.  The kiddos had fun swimming with the little kids from the village.

Splashing in Lake Azuei

Lake Azuei, with Dominican Republic mts in the background

Lunch Break

Eric spent much of his Thanksgiving weekend altering these tables to hold the big containers that are to catch the fresh rainwater. He worked hard ensuring the details would come together at just the right time.  Thankfully, customs cooperated and released the huge water collection containers in time for the installation and the ceremony.

Rainwater Collection Containers

They worked great!

The Operation Blessing water truck was on hand to test the system.  They pulled the hose up to the roof to make sure the gutters would capture the water and lead it safely down into the reservoirs.

I am thankful that my husband gets to be a hero to a lot more people than just me.  I am thankful that there is another option for the people of Medan Belize to receive fresh water.

Eric hard at work!

Sisters

This Gratituesday, I am thankful for my sisters.  I am so thankful for the family that I grew up with.  Although my sisters and I do not get to talk a whole lot and are able to see each other even less, I am so blessed by their devotion to the Lord and to their families.  The times we do share are spent in meaningful conversation, intense board games, and a LOT of laughing!  Between the three of us, we have 13 children, which makes for a houseful of giggling, rambunctious cousins.  I am hoping to meet up with them soon; it has been way too long since I have seen them last!

The cousins petting the Baby Bella, back when she was just a pup.

My sister Jeanna and her little G-man, Garrett.

My sister Joy, and her oldest daughter Madison.

These pictures are about a year and a half old.  They were taken before our family headed back to Haiti after a brief stay in the States following the 2010 earthquake.  We are way overdue for a long visit!

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God’s Blessing, My Children

When I was in college, I was an active participant in Christian Campus House at the then Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.  The name is now Missouri State University and the Christian Campus House is still a strong training ground for young Christians to learn to serve and to become “doers of the Word”.  It was through CCH that I went on my first cross cultural mission trip, and ultimately through Campus House that I found myself in Port-de-Paix, Haiti after I graduated.  I learned a lot about serving and doing as an extension of my love for the Lord, and my relationship with Him.  I am forever grateful for my years at campus house!  I met so many great people and I am so thankful for fb and for the opportunity to keep up with my college crowd.  It is amazing to see how God is using them across the US, and the world.  Truly CCH did (and still does) an excellent job training young people that our Christian service was something that was to go with us, no matter where that might be.

During our eight years in Joplin, five of those years were spent at the Wesley Foundation for Missouri Southern State University.  Eric and I were able to reverse our roles and be the campus ministers for some great college students.  Our oldest daughter, Christa was just a year old when we took that job and just after the beginning of the second semester, Hannah was born.  Wilson came along a couple of years after that and then Jett after a couple more.  It was a crazy time of babies, toddlers, much cooking, small group meetings, one-on-one meetings, late nights and early mornings!  Eric was also a student at Ozark Christian College.  Our lives were full and there was always something going on.  I remember having to cut short a discipleship meeting with one of our female students to attend to a crying infant. I remember praying, “God, I could do so much more for you if I didn’t have all these kids!”

Talk about a sudden and instant conviction from the Holy Spirit!  As if God really needed me to help Him accomplish anything, and what or who could be more important in my life than my husband and my children.  That was a humbling time of repentance and submission before the Lord.  God didn’t want me to do a lot FOR Him, He wanted me to become a lot LIKE Him.  I am so thankful and blessed that He chose six beautiful children to help transform my image into the image of His Son.  Oh, there is much left to transform and I am thankful for the willingness of my children to help teach me all about patience, love, self-control, kindness, and thankfulness, and self-sacrifice. 😉

Since that time, the Lord has continually drawn me closer to my home and to my family.  We are now in Haiti, homeschooling and living almost every second together.  Some days and weeks are difficult, but that is when we step back, re-evaluate our blessings, and re-establish our priorities.  Now I am thankful to be a “doer of the Word” in my own home with my own kids. I am grateful for the privilege I have to share the Lord with my little Lotz family.  Ok, maybe it isn’t so little anymore…

Callie (3), Jett (5), Wilson (7), Hannah (9), Christa (11) and our newest baby girl Aimee (8 months).

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.”  James 1:22-25

A little "jumpoline" fun!

Thanks again to Melinda Wilson for taking some pictures of my kiddos.

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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!

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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.

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