Thanksgiving took on a new and special meaning this year, having just returned from a nine-day trip to Haiti. Thirteen of us came together for the trip, one from Canada, Enumclaw WA, and California, eight from Christ the King Church in Lynden, and Bernie and myself.
One of the most significant times on the trip involved traveling to the village of Ravine. Starfish Ministries opened a school in Ravine this past September, the first educational facility in that village. It was interesting to see boys and girls taller than myself beginning their education in kindergarten or first grade. There are four classrooms with about 150 children attending.
The children were so friendly to us, gathering close around, the boys shaking our hand and the girls eager to receive a kiss on the cheek. I asked each child in my limited Creole, “kouman rele?” Each was eager to share their name. I thought how God knows each undernourished, uneducated child by name. He created each one in His image. It is His desire they come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. As each child begins his or her education they will also hear the good news of the gospel taught each day.
While in Ravine we were able to be part of the feeding program there. In September, the teachers had said that the children were unable to learn because so many came to school each day hungry. Through God’s provision we were able to begin a feeding program in which the children all receive one good meal each day at noon. The teachers say it has made a huge difference. Our team dished out a full bowl of food for each child and the children waited patiently for the teacher to give thanks. I watched one little kindergarten girl as she dug into her bowl of rice and beans. Those precious spoonfuls of nourishment could not get into her mouth fast enough. I wondered, being it was Monday, if she had eaten over the week-end. With each grain of rice cleared from her bowl she sat contentedly, her tummy full, eager to get back to learning her colors, numbers and letters. She will also learn about the Provider.
As we came to the Ravine school Monday morning Bernie noticed a little girl sitting off by herself a distance from the school building. She was dirty, undernourished, dressed in rags, and sadly looking on to what was not hers to enjoy. Upon asking about this child he learned that both parents were dead and she lived with a guardian aunt. Pastor Diogene asked the aunt if she would like the child to be taken to the orphanage and she was in quick agreement to that. Tuesday morning we took little 7 year old Cenide to the orphanage with us. It took her no time at all to settle in. Wednesday afternoon as she and I walked along the path in Tricotte she started jabbering to me.
How I wished I’d learned Creole. The words I did not understand, but the message of her eyes was clear, “I am glad to be here.” And I could only speak in strange words to her, “I am glad to have a new friend!” One at a time, God cares for His own.
Much was accomplished on this trip. The men worked very hard bringing electricity to homes in the village of Tricotte. The homes have electricity for only three hours a day but it was heartily welcomed.
Pastor Kim Ryan of Christ the King Church preached Sunday morning and also brought messages Monday and Tuesday nights on the subject of the Holy Spirit. How eager the people are to learn.
The gals on the trip planned a fantastic party for the kids of the orphanage. It included soda pop, ICE (a rare treat), peanuts, scads of candy, bubble gum, balloons and animal balloons, games of basketball, the game of duck, duck, chicken (called duck, duck, goose in the states) and lots of finger and toe polishing in bright greens, blues, oranges and purples. There also was a lot of hugging and just hanging out!
Our children in the orphanage will have another grand party for Christmas. They once again asked for a cow for their Christmas feast. And Pastor Diogene’s wife, now in Tricotte with the children, promised lots of other good things to eat and fun things to do. If sponsors would like to contribute to the purchase of things for the party for all the children it would be welcome.
We are grateful that Jesus Christ came to earth many years ago as a baby to become the sacrifice for our sins. May you and your family have a very blessed Christmas.
Serving our Lord together,
Bernie and Sheryl Bovenkamp