February 2014 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Tricotte, Haiti!!  Glenn and I, along with a team of 11, are in Haiti doing a variety of ministries. Glenn has been working on installing windows at the new medical clinic and several other construction-related projects.

Rod Tjoelker is leading a team of four who are putting a roof on a small two-story house at the orphanage.  The concrete block walls were almost completed when we arrived so they were ready for our roofing crew. They began by installing the top plate on the walls, then built the trusses yesterday, installing the trusses and purlins today, and will install the metal roofing tomorrow morning while it’s a little cooler. The lower floor of this house includes the orphanage office and a small living space for one of our teachers. Our orphanage director, Apollos, will live upstairs on the second floor.

Catherine Theriault is leading the rest of the team who are from North County Christ the King Church in Lynden, Washington. They are presenting a three day seminar primarily for women from the greater Tricotte area. Some of the women walk over an hour each morning and afternoon to attend the seminar. The title of the conference is The Miracle of Birth.  Catherine has two registered nurses with her along with three others who are sharing God’s design for conception, pregnancy, birthing and infancy care. Many of these Haitian women are uneducated and have never been taught the health issues concerning pregnancy and birthing.  They are really excited about this education and have commented that they have been waiting for this for a long time.

Our male nurse, Trevor, will be speaking to the Haitian men tomorrow afternoon. There is probably not much information correctly passed from the wife to the husband so it’s important that the men have an opportunity to hear from our professional. Hopefully then the couple will be in agreement on approaching subjects like birth control.

God has given Catherine and her team a desire to make a difference in the lives of mothers and infants. In the remote areas of Haiti, most often a mother gives birth at home and many times without any medical care.  As a result the mortality rate of mothers and new babies is quite high.  Some of our orphan children come to our orphanage as a result of their mother dying while giving birth. Catherine’s vision is to train “birthing attendants” so that no mother would be without a Christian woman who will help with the birthing process. This trip will help us identify those who are called to be trained for that purpose and then Catherine will return in a few months with another team to train these attendants.

I was in a meeting with Daniel and Glenn this morning when Catherine rushed in and excitedly proclaimed that there was a young mother in labor in the village of Tricotte. Daniel was immediately needed for interpreting at the seminar so that Lizette could interpret for our nurses, Traci & Trevor, as they rushed to the village house to assist in the birthing. When they arrived a healthy little baby boy had just been born so they were able to assist in the post birthing needs. Catherine was given the opportunity to name the baby boy and with the parents’ approval named him Samuel. The team then prayed for him, his parents, and dedicated baby Samuel to the Lord.

The timing of this was so good as it gave Catherine and her team firsthand experience with the conditions most Haitian mothers endure during birthing.  This young mother was in a very dark room in a small Haitian house.  Although they did their best to provide a sanitary environment for the birthing, it was far from that.  The newborn infant was wrapped in a clean blanket and laid on the dirt floor in the house.  Although there was a midwife there in attendance, it is very unlikely that the new mother has seen or was planning to see any doctor or nurse.

We are so grateful for those God raises up to come with us to serve in Haiti. Both the construction team and the Miracle of Birth team are making significant contributions to the ministry in Tricotte this week. Haitians are more accustomed to thatch roofs then a truss and metal roof system, so it is a tremendous blessing to have experts come to install the roof at orphanage. And we are confident that God will continue to use the birthing seminar to make a difference in the lives of mothers and infants.

Please pray with us as we identify potential birthing attendants, that God will supply women who will be able to provide much needed care during the birthing process, and that in so doing precious lives will be saved.

We thank God for your prayers and financial support – He is at work in Haiti and is using your partnership with Starfish Ministries to make a huge difference in the lives of needy Haitians.

Serving the Lord together,

Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp