We arrived in Tricotte, Haiti the afternoon of Saturday, January 20. After settling into the guest house, we headed to the orphanage to greet the kids. They were waiting for us and began singing a “welcome” song. After enjoying a short program, Glenn Bridges, Neal Hershey and Paul Bovenkamp assembled a trampoline that Glenn had brought from California. And then the fun began! The kids had never seen such a thing. Glenn demonstrated, and then one by one they took their turns. It was great to watch! The kids reacted by literally rolling on the ground with laughter. The girls were a little slow in participating at first but with a little encouragement, they were soon jumping along with the boys. Over the next 6 days that we were there, the jumping never ceased.
I was encouraged by the amount of “farming” going on inside the orphanage fence. Many of our boys have started their own small garden patch, separated by stick fences. They have worked up the soil and planted bush beans, corn, tomatoes, melons, squash and even some sugar cane. The gardens were really lush as the boys have been daily watering.
The quilts continue to brighten their rooms. The temperature dipped to 68-70 degrees at night while we were there. The kids told me that they were thankful for the warmth of those quilts on those cold nights.
Doug Jarvie sent the needed parts for the completion of the orphanage water system. The cistern was over half full so we have about 20,000 gallons of water on hand. The water is pumped from the cistern into 2 “poly” storage tanks, then through 2 water purification systems and into the orphanage bathrooms. The first evening of the running water, I went into the boys shower room – about 10 little boys, under the 4 shower heads, were all lathered up, laughing, and enjoying their first ever shower. We truly appreciate the efforts of Doug and others for the design work and installation of this water system.
I had the opportunity to visit each of the 4 schools that Starfish Ministries now supports. I met with the headmaster of each school and was updated on the progress. Each indicated that their school is almost filled to capacity. The current need is for additional classrooms in each school. The Beaudois headmaster encouraged us to visit another village, Ravine Beaudois. This village, a 40 minute walk from Beaudois, has no school. About 200 kids in the village are not going to school. We are considering the possibility of starting a school there in the fall, which would require classrooms as well. The needs are great! It’s our desire to meet the needs as God directs us. Please pray with us concerning these needs.
Meeting with the headmaster from our school in the village of Champagne was a tremendous blessing. After visiting each class in his school, we sat down in his little office. He shared with me, through Pastor Diogone’s interpretation, a touching testimony. Last summer he was very discouraged when he was told of the loss of their financial support. He remembered when he first started the little school, several years ago. He put in long days as he taught a couple of grades in the morning and a couple more in the afternoon. Over the years, financial support had come and things had improved. Now it was gone! He didn’t know if he could continue. The people of Champagne are so poor and the parents can’t afford to pay tuition or buy books or uniforms. He and his wife went to their knees and began to pray. The answer came in August when Starfish Ministries decided to support his school. As he shared with me, the tears flowed freely and he began to raise his hands in praise to the Lord! I wish you could have all been there to experience his joy. He then gave me the letter below to share with you. I left there encouraged and praising God for “all His benefits to me” and for giving us the opportunity to be a small part of what He is doing in these schools in Haiti. I thought of all of you and your support in prayer, finances and encouragement. Together God is using us for His purpose. Thank you for your part.
Serving our Lord together,
Bernie & Sheryl Bovenkamp