Friday, December 28, 2012

We Need YOUR help!! (Updated 1/11)

Over the last year, Okipe has done a fantastic job raising funds for a brand new Children's Village for the children at the orphanage in Anse a Galets, Haiti. We are coming close to meeting our goal in order to get the kiddos moved into their new houses by March 31st.
The 80 children currently living at the orphanage.

Currently, the 80 children are living in a two story "house" with no running water, no kitchen (just a fire on the cement in one room with a pot to cook), and very little electricity when they have the funds to run a generator after the sun goes down.  Multiple children share a bed every night while others sleep on benches and cement floors.  There is no yard for the children to play in, so their play area is two hallway areas. The government has deemed the property unsafe and the director, Madame Soliette has been told she HAS to move the children by the end of March.

Play area, eating area, laundry folding area, etc...

 The local Haitians working and learning new skills!!

A team of people who are dedicated to helping Mme Soliette achieve her vision have come together under the direction of Shine's Bill Cody and put together a coop called Okipe.  We are working alongside Mme. Soliette to assist her in achieving her dream of creating a Children's Village for the children of her orphanage.  The almost 4 acres have been purchased and the first phase of the building is almost finished. There will be about 10 children in each pod with one house parent. Each pod will have clean, running water, enough beds for each child and a bathroom!! There will be a common "cafeteria" with actual tables and chairs to eat on. Currently the children sit on the floor or benches in the hallway and eat on their laps. This will also double as the school area until the money is raised to build the school.
The new housing pods!!

I have seen this property first hand and my heart about explodes every time I think about the children moving in!! We have also found it important to use all Haitian workers to complete this project with just a few non-Haitian supervisor/trainers. It is amazing seeing the locals learning so many new skills that they will be able to use for the rest of their lives!!

Here's where you come in!!  We are trying to raise the rest of the money so that we can get the kiddos moved in on time.  We are asking you to consider giving to our 150 Campaign.  We are looking for 150 people to pick a number from our chart and send that amount to help reach our goal. There is an amount for everyone, even children!! For example, if you pick the #1, you would give $1. If you pick the number 84, you would give $84. And, if you feel that you and your family can afford to give over $100, please choose a number above 100. We are hoping to get all of the numbers X-ed off by the end of January!! Please consider helping us reach our goal so that these children can get moved in to this amazing facility and Mme. Soliette's dreams can become a reality. We are SO CLOSE!!

If you are willing to help, please just leave a comment below, or email me at with the number that you and your family would like to have.  I will be updating the chart regularly so if the number is not "x"ed off, then it is available!!  You can pay with cash, check, debit/credit or Paypal.

Thank you SO much for your help, you are making a huge impact on these children's lives!!

(Updated Saturday 1.11.13)

Please feel free to share via your blog and facebook to spread the word!! THANKS!

Click on the Donate button below and enter the number you would like to give!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Heart is Full

I don't know what it is about Haiti...well, maybe I do...these people love well. They love the Lord. They love each other, and they love strangers. How can you not love to be in a place where love is so abundant?  Mom and I were welcomed so warmly. Every time we saw another person, they dropped what they were doing, came to us and greeted us with a HUGE hug. It is so nice to be loved. To feel appreciated. And to feel that the love and appreciation is genuine. And it definitely goes both ways. My heart has been captured by Haiti and by the people here. We have made eternal friendships!!

Our trip has been great! We have had fantastic weather since coming to the island. It is much cooler than this summer. (About 15-20*) We're sitting in the upper 80's and it is wonderful! (Especially when I hear that it's in the 30's back home!)  I have taken mom to see the new hospital, the new children's village and the market. And we have definitely spent time at the orphanage.

Our first day up at the orphanage, Mme. Soliette let me give Asemidade a picture that Morgan really wanted her to have. The kids don't have a lot of personal property and this was something that meant a lot to Morgan and to Asemidade!!

A beautiful start to our Sunday - a day full of blessing and worship!

 The joy that simple gifts bring is priceless!!

Our interpreter, Mr. Bee and his kids. Bee loves the Lord and cares deeply for all the people he meets. He and his wife Juliana have done a fantastic job raising their children to love the Lord and respect others. Jaron gave Elbenson a football this summer and Elbenson played with it so much that the stitching had come open. He tried to restitch it the best he could, but was SO excited when he got a new one!! 

We have spent a lot of time at the orphanage loving on the kiddos. This little guy was too cute - don't you love his rolls?! He literally was falling asleep sitting up ;-)

I always think I have a lot of laundry to keep up with. (And usually complain about doing it) This was a good way for me to keep perspective. Laundry for 70+ kids is a never ending, thankless job! So, we decided to lend a hand with the folding :)

We are hoping to move the children to the new Children's Village by March 1st! We went out to the site to see the progress. I love how this man is smiling while he is sifting the rocky sand to get the finer sand for concrete mix. These men are so thankful to have a job and they are hard workers! Reminds me a bit of my dad when I watch them work :)

This is a view out the back of one of the housing pods. BEAUTIFUL!! Eventually, there will be some gardens and a soccer field out there.

 Here you can see the first phase of housing pods. There are 10 total. There will be 8-10 children in each pod with a house parent as well. Then they will have indoor and an outdoor living space. They will also have loads of area to RUN and PLAY!! In the center of the picture, you can see the beginning of the dining hall, kitchen and temporary school. (until the school is built in phase 3)

 This is a little restaurant next to the Children's Village. Every day, the Extollo team (construction workers) eat lunch at this restaurant.  This summer, this restaurant consisted of a few tarps creating an awning with an outdoor "kitchen" to serve the guys. Extollo has created enough revenue to allow these people to build an actual building for their restaurant!! So exciting :) 

Mom and buddy taking a walk by the village.

 The new hospital on the Wesleyan compound is really coming along! After all the rain, the foundation shifted a bit and they are fixing some cracks and rebuilding a few walls and learning from some mistakes.  It was neat to see grass growing between the two wards. Our friend, Julien - the supervisor of the hospital build, hand transplanted each blade of grass to start the grass here! Talk about tedious work!

Pouring the basement of the hospital, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow.

We took a walk through the market. LOVE all the people and activity at the market.

Here's the parking lot :-)

Mom and I are really enjoying our time and are so sad that we only have a few more days. Days never seem long enough. Last night, I took the computer up to the orphanage for my skype date with the kids. Morgan and Jaron were so surprised and happy to see all of their friends!! It was so cute to see them all at first - they just kept waving at each other. There were so many of them that it was hard to hear. Then, the girls all started singing - it's a universal language! All the tunes sound the same, even if you don't know the words.

I've got the JOY JOY JOY JOY down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart!
I've got the JOY JOY JOY JOY down in my heart, down in my heart to stay!
And I'm so happy, so very happy! I've got the love of Jesus in my heart!
And I'm so happy so very happy I've got the love of Jesus in my heart!!

And their lives show it!! It's true. And it made me smile. And tear up just a bit. Happy tears of course! Two more days. But we'll be back. Haiti is part of us now.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hurry up and Wait

The last day and a half has been full of hurry up and wait.  We flew into Miami Wednesday night, left the hotel at 3:45 to get to the airport by 4:00 for our 6:00 flight.  We got boarded onto our flight and sat on the run way for another two hours due to mechanical issues. We anticipated a possible delay or cancellation due to Hurricane Sandy but that wasn't the reason for our delay.  They had us all get off the plane and then moved us to another terminal and we got on another plane a few hours after our original departure time. The pilot told us that he was going to fly to Port au Prince, assess the conditions and try to land. He said if he couldn't, we'd head back to Miami.

Thankfully we were able to land and just had a bit of bumps. Then we headed to the wharf where we were hoping to catch our boat over to the island. Our normally hour and a half drive turned into about three hours. After three detours due to many bridges that were collapsed from the flooding, we made it to the guest house. The Port Authorities had not yet opened the sea for crossing, so we stayed for the night.

This morning, we were hoping that the rains would stop and the winds would die down so that we could cross over to the island. Unfortunately the sea is still rough and the authorities haven't opened them for crossing. Apparently, you can be arrested if you risk crossing when it's "closed." we're waiting for tomorrow. Hoping that things will clear up enough to cross.  There is a team on the island now who have a 2:00 flight today in PaP that they will be missing since they are stuck there. So be praying for them as well that they'll be able to get all 20 of them onto a different flight hopefully tomorrow so that they can get home.

It is so hard being so close but not being able to get the rest of the way. We are just sitting here waiting. There's not much I can do from here, so we wait. It is nice that my mom is here with me! We've also met some new friends, Eddie and Bethany. Their company has been such a blessing! They are going through an adoption and it hasn't been easy but their faith is admirable and encouraging!

So please just continue to pray, as I'm sure you are :) We appreciate it!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

These Days...

These days my mind and heart are split between two places. In just a little over two weeks, I will be heading back to Haiti. I am so incredibly excited to be making this trip with my mom. My heart and my stomach are literally sick with anticipation. I can not WAIT to see friends and to hug on all the little kiddos.

17 days and counting!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

1920's Date Night

I am usually the one to plan our special nights out, find the sitter and get the details all in order. I was telling Craig that I would LOVE for him to plan a night where I didn't have to take care of any details. So he and his friend Jason heard about a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater in a town near ours and thought that sounded like the perfect plan. The boys originally thought that we would be having dinner while watching a production, but after they bought the tickets they found out that everyone gets a part and it actually very interactive. So - Craig wasn't able to keep the type of date a surprise because we had to dress the part :)  

Here we are with our friends Jason and Allison all dress in our 1920's best...thanks to Goodwill and my mother in law for the outfits and accessories!!

Craig and I at dinner
Craig was Harry Highballs - a mobster
I was Caroline Divine - a waitress
We were all at a "nightclub" for dinner

Jason and Allison
Allison was Patty Cake - The head chef
Jason was a reporter - I can't remember his name

Friends :)

Yes...we can be a bit crazy...

Overall, it was a fun night. It was good to do something different. I'm not sure if we'd every do the same thing again. Probably the most fun was finding the outfits and getting dressed up. So, Craig says we'll just have to do our own theme dates of different decades :) I thought that sounded fun! We just might get some interesting looks while we're out!! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bring Brody Home

My sister, Ryanne, is a children's pastor at a church in Michigan and one of the families at her church is going through an extremely difficult situation. One that I can't imagine being in. Please read a little about their story from their website below and then click on the link if you might be able to donate even just a small amount to help them.  Thank you so much!!

Taken from the family's donation site, written by family friends -

Friends of the Giroux Family:

On the morning of August 7, 2012 our 4 year old Goddaughter, Birklee, was taken from this world...way to soon. Since this tragedy, the family's life has been turned upside down. Birklee had a medical history of seizures and died unexpectedly in her sleep without explanation. Due to the lack of evidence, her parents have had to defend themselves against being wrongfully accused of having any kind of role in the tragic death.

During this time of unknown, their 8 year old son has been taken from the home and placed in foster care. Until Birklee's mom and dad can prove their innocence he will remain away from the family. So, it's like this family has lost two children, not just one. At the time of this update, Brody has been away in foster care for about 3 weeks, with absolutely no contact. Here's how Brody's parents are feeling today:

"Today, September 14, 2012 marks 39 days since we have seen our 4-year-old little “Birkie Bubbles,” and 23 days since we have seen our beautiful 8-year-old son, Brody. To lose one child may seem to some as a great misfortune, but to lose two children is to define the greatest sadness anyone could ever imagine. How does one cope with losing a child, let alone two? What do you say to someone who has lost both of their children within two weeks of each other? How do they do it each day? Well, we struggle just to put one foot in front of the other. We have to remember to breathe while trying to nourish and rest our bodies in order to gain the strength we need to fight another day to get our son back."

We are asking for donations and help to compile a team of medical experts to defend this family and bring their life back to a "new normal". We would also like to help provide financial help to them to cover living expenses while they stumble through this trying time.  

We realize that these are tough times for many people in this country, but if you could please consider just a small donation to our cause, it will be appreciated more than you know. You can help bring our Godson safetly home!

Please click HERE to visit the donation website and to follow this family's journey to bring Brody home.  Thank you so much for your support and for showing Christ's love to this family!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Daddy Daughter Date Night

I'm so thankful for a husband who is in tune with our daughter!  Now that Morgan is in school, she really only see's Craig about 2 1/2 hours a day.  About a half hour in the mornings and two hours in the evenings. Such a short amount of time. He could tell that she was craving some daddy time - as this girl's love language is quality time.  So...he made some time. Saturday night, the two of them dressed up and headed out for some quality daddy-daughter time. I so wish I could have been a fly on the wall for their date. She sure loves her daddy!

She's in heaven.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Would you Consider?

Do you already sponsor a child? If so, this post may not be for you. And yet, it still might be. I'm writing because some children are heavy on my heart and they need our help.

One of the main responsibilities that Craig and I were hoping to accomplish during our time in Haiti was to establish a better understanding and tracking of all the income and expenses of the orphanage in Anse a Galets, Haiti.  After getting a better understanding of what it takes to run this orphanage on a day to day, week to week and month to month basis, we then had the task of training the orphanage director and some of her staff to keep better track of the records. We did this for many reasons, one of which so that we can see visually online from the States where she is at with her cash flow and send her more money when needed.  (As available.)

What we found was that Mme. Soliette is constantly running low on funds and borrowing money from locals and going without food, paying rent, paying her workers, etc.  It is not ideal to be borrowing money from the locals.  We unfortunately experienced the bad side of borrowing money while we were in Haiti.  Two little twin 4 year old boys came to the orphanage because their mother was doused in gasoline and severely burned and died two days later for not being able to pay her full loan back on time. She owed an equivalent of $150 US and was only able to pay back $100.  She lost her life over $50.  Borrowing money is just not the ideal situation for Mme. Soliette.

Okipe has chosen to use a model different that the traditional child sponsorship model.  What happens when certain children are sponsored and others are not? Do some eat and go to school and get medical attention while others watch from the sidelines? We don't feel that this is the best model and have adapted a "Join the Village" model.  We are asking people to team up with Orphanage by Joining the Village.

What does this mean?

By making a monthly pledge of any amount to the fund established by Okipe for the Jesus Home for Children of La Ganove, you can participate with other sponsors to cover daily, weekly and monthly operating expenses which provide these children with:

  • Life saving vaccines and basic medical care
  • Shelter and loving adult supervision by Haitian staff
  • Food, clean water & clothes
  • Primary and Secondary Education
  • And much more...
The children are currently living in a two story building where the only "play area" is a small hallway where they also eat their meals.  The boys live on the bottom floor which also doubles as the school during the day.  The boys will sleep on the floor or benches while the girls have a few beds to share upstairs. (Not nearly enough for the over 30 girls)


Thankfully, Okipe is also in the process of building a new Children's Village!! The land has been purchased and the pods that will house about 8 children and a house mom are coming along! This is a really exciting time, and we are still looking for people to get involved to help complete the funding of this project as well.  We are over half way there and are making good progress.  Our goal at this point is to have the children moving in this spring!! Each child will have their own bed and a family unit will be the model instead of an orphanage feel.  

I encourage you to take a look around the Okipe website. The blog is updated regularly with pictures of the latest progress.  

One really neat thing is that it is actually pretty easy and inexpensive to visit La Ganove.  Haiti shares our same time zone and flights aren't too much more than what you would pay to fly to Florida.  All this to say that wouldn't it be amazing to invest into the lives of 75 young children and follow their journey and one day make a trip to meet them in person and play with them and hug them?  Totally doable.  And encouraged.

This is obviously something that Craig and I are passionate about and that is near to and heavy on our hearts.  If you would prayerfully consider getting involved in this project, we would be so very grateful.  Also, if you'd like to talk more about this project and this orphanage, we would love to talk with you!!

What is one thing that you and your family could go without each month that would allow you to give $10, $15, $30 to these children?  Pray about it. If God is nudging your heart, I would encourage you to give. And I can guarantee that this money will go directly to these children.

Thanks so much for taking the time to really means a lot to us!

"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."
Hebrews 13:16 NIV

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Check it Out!

While we were in Haiti, Juli, a Compassion sponsor, came to meet the child that she has sponsored for many years. She was also able to visit many other places on the island and even made it up to the orphanage during one of our English classes.  She writes about it on her blog here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Today was an emotional roller coaster. The past six and a half years, I have spent investing into my two precious gifts from God. This morning, we dropped them both off at school.

Morgan started first grade this morning and Jaron is attending three mornings at a local preschool.  They were both super excited and that definitely helped. Last year, we had a very rough start and Morgan was in tears every day for the first five weeks of school.  That was rough on all of us and I'm so thankful that we're one day in and have no tears.  (Except from mama!)

One thing that I'm SO thankful for is the Open House/Orientation that the schools do here the night before school starts. I never remember having that growing up. I really feel like this just helps to calm the nerves for everyone. We can take all the school supplies in the night before, find the classroom and desk and meet the teacher all before the first day. 

I really could not have asked for today to go any better. The kids were excited, we were all up and ready on time and our routine was smooth. Craig took Morgan to the bus stop and I took Jaron to preschool.

 Hope you enjoyed the photos - please excuse the crazy spacing...blogger is NOT my friend :)