BIBLES DISTRIBUTED AT RYAN EPPS HOME
This summer, an 11-year old young lady in Raleigh chose to have a car wash fund raiser for her birthday rather than having a birthday party. Her only request for the funds was that some of the funds be used to purchase Bibles.
March 8, 2012
RYAN EPPS HOME FOR CHILDREN UPDATE
On February 21, our team of 18 arrived in Haiti full of excitement and anticipation over all the activities that would fill our time at Ryan Epps Home for Children. There would be block walls to build; school rooms to paint and hang wall board; fans to hang; rice, beans, oil and goats to distribute to families; relationships to nurture; and, of course, children to hug. We also knew that in Haiti, we are on God's time line, and we should always be flexible and ready for surprises.
On our very first day, Yvon mentioned he was expecting a new child to arrive the following Monday. The young fella's papa would be bringing him from Corail, a distant part of the country, near Jeremie.
Prior to our team's arrival, the Haitian work crew completed the foundation for the block wall around the community center property and began to lay the first courses of block under the hot, Haitian sun. Allen, Larry, Les and Al eagerly joined the process of carrying blocks and buckets of cement to the wall. Our Haitian co-workers graciously gave us two shovels full of cement rather than their usual three. Les hopped onto the wall and began to lay block. Some of the team carried a newly purchased canopy to the work site so all could share in the much appreciated shade.
Back at the school, where, because of Mardi Gras holiday, school was not in session (except for Paula's English language classes), Ann C., Ann H., Butch, Craig, Chetty, Cindy, Chris, Vicky and Lisa began to cut and install wall board. Steve and Darlene concentrated on installing shower rods and curtains in the home building. Valerie and Mary Ann worked diligently to calculate accurate numbers so rice, beans and oil could be distributed to each child and teacher in the school, all the staff at REHC, all the workers at the wall and numerous families in other communities. Helen made sure each child who had been sent a gift from his/her sponsor received the gift. All the girls received a new dress. Work progressed steadily during the week, and much was accomplished.
Our hosts, Lyrvole and Gerard Chatelain, were gracious and accommodating at Villa Mamika, a guesthouse at Croix des Bouquets. The atmosphere there was restful and refreshing as the team enjoyed the evening meal and ended the day with devotions and an encouraging card from someone back home.
Sunday always has its own special rewards in Haiti. Church at REHC was a blessing as Yvon preached from God's word, and the children sang like an angelic choir. There was great joy in being in God's house on a warm Haitian morning. Following church, we were served a delicious meal at the nearby home of Boaz and Louni (Helen's son and his wife). In the afternoon, we visited the site of Hotel Montana where Haitians and Americans lost their lives during the January 12, 2010 earthquake. The hotel established a memorial garden in memory of all who perished as the hotel crumbled to the ground a little more than two years ago. Among those who perished was Sam Dixon, a United Methodist Church missionary, who was attending a meeting at the hotel at the time of the earthquake. One of our team members was Cindy Dixon, Sam's widow. We had anticipated this visit all week and were blessed to share this moment as we remembered Sam's life and the work he accomplished in Haiti.
On Monday, the work day began with our arrival at the Michaud school. From the sounds of the children's voices, we could tell that classes were now in session. The children came outside and re-enacted their school opening with the raising of the flag, their pledge of allegiance and the singing of their national anthem. Yvon let us know that Kliff had gone to Port au Prince to meet Papa Dieuferme Juste and the new child who was coming to Ryan Epps Home. The team went about their tasks at the wall, in the school and in the home. After lunch, Allen, Ann C. and Les gave out vitamins to the school children. Vitamins were donated allowing each child to receive a daily vitamin. Each child also received a small car.
Later in the morning, we saw Kliff bring a slim young Haitian man and two children, a boy and a girl, through the front gate. We greeted them and learned that, in addition to his 11-year old son, Djeffte, Papa Dieuferme Juste brought his 6-year old daughter, Dieunitha, in hopes that she, too, could become part of the REHC family. As Valerie spoke with Papa Juste, he revealed his story. About a year ago, his wife became ill. On January 14 of this year, as he put it, “Evil descended upon her and she died.” He was left to care for 5 children in the one room in which they live. He had used all the money he earned as an occasional fisherman to pay for her medical bills and funeral. He owed last year's and this year's rent on his room – a total of $126US. He knew REHC had committed to take his son, but he also brought his daughter and her birth certificate with the hope that she, too, could stay. He explained that the children did not want to be separated. We shared with Yvon what Papa said. Yvon said they do not normally take two from one family. He smiled and said, “We will see.”
Papa Juste, Djeffte and Dieunitha were a bit overwhelmed by all the activity at REHC and by the presence of the team. By Tuesday, they began to relax. The REHC children quickly adopted the two children. Yvon joyfully shared that they both could stay. There were sponsors in NC who had already agreed to sponsor both children.
Papa Juste, Djeffte & Dieunitha
As the week in Haiti ended, we had bonded closely as a team; had hung and painted walls; hung fans and shower curtains; given gifts to children; distributed rice, beans and oil; helped build a block wall; made friends in the neighborhood and visited their homes; shared meals; worshiped; hugged the neck of every child around; paid two year's rent for Papa Juste, and honored the memory of a fallen missionary at Hotel Montana.
All this work and sharings of the team are important and are given even greater significance when we think of a young Haitian man who gave up two children, one act of love that reveals a glimpse into the struggles of the Haitian people. Papa heard from far away about an opportunity for his children to mature and be nurtured in a loving environment and have a better future for themselves. Out of a love for his children and a desire that they have a better life, he brought two of his children by boat and over long, rough roads to a city where he had never been. As we rejoiced over the addition of Djeffte and Dieunetha and those who had committed to sponsor them, we were, at the same time, saddened for Papa Juste who would leave two children behind and travel alone the long distance back home to his remaining three children. Most of us will never know the anguish of giving up a child so that he or she can have a better life.
Our prayer is that God will grant His wisdom and understanding to Yvon, his family, and the staff at REHC and the Michaud school. May He give them His grace to raise children in the knowledge and understanding of the ways of the Lord. May the children at Ryan Epps Home grow up to give Haiti a better future so they never need to make the sacrifice for their own children that Papa Juste made for his.
May God bless,
Al and Valerie Carpenter
PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT COMES TO
Kameron Knight, a senior at West Johnston HS and also a member of Horne Memorial UMC's youth group, designed and raised the funds to build playground equipment for children at Ryan Epps Home and the Michaud community school. Schools in Haiti are required to have four pieces of play equipment for kindergarten-age children. Helen Little approached Kam last year about building the equipment as his senior project. Kam accepted the challenge. With assistance from Rex Everhart, Kam designed the equipment. Kam, Kam's mother Debbie, and Rex Everhart travelled to Haiti during spring break, and with the help of Haitian friends, assembled and painted the equipment. The playground equipment is well constructed and is already providing exercise and fun for the children at the community school and at Ryan Epps Home.