Typically I dislike asking people for their money. I would much rather let God do the prompting and watch how He provides. Many times it far surpasses any expectation. Other times, the needs need laid out in order for God to stir hearts, and for people to respond in obedience. This is one of those time.
If you are involved in our ministry at all, chances are you know some of the heart wrenching stories of the lives of our children. From abuse to slavery. Starvation to sex trafficking. Maybe their stories made you shed a tear (or two or three), or made you feel sick to your stomach. They should, because this is NOT okay. These children need rescued. They need love. They need purpose. They need you.
It is nearly impossible to exaggerate the impact you have on a child's life when you become their sponsor. They consider you their godparents because you are providing life for them. Whether you are sponsoring a child to attend school, or to live here at HOPE House, you are providing the finances necessary to give them life.
Many of our students at school are restaveks, meaning they are slave children who have been sold by their families to work for another family. Without a sponsor they would never have the opportunity for education. And Les Bours School of Hope is so much more than just a center for education. It is where the children receive food, medical support, and love from visiting team members. Being part of Les Bours School of Hope is their saving grace.
The children and babies at HOPE House come to us with severe malnutrition, abuse, and/or deeply infected wounds. Without the financial help of their sponsors we would not be able to provide the necessary care to nuture them back to health. It takes many people and a lot of work to care for a dying child! Our sponsors play a HUGE life saving roll when they commit to sponsoring a child at HOPE House.
And to think, you could save a life for only $1 a day. Only $30 a month provides a child with all of this, and all $30 is spent on your child. Sponsorship allows you to bring a precious piece of Haiti into your life, and hope and a future into theirs.
I know economic times in the states are difficult. We feel it as you feel it. But if I may continue standing on my soapbox to say, there are very few people I know that honestly cannot afford to sponsor a child. Perhaps you have to cut out a few coffees, trips to the theater, or an evening out to eat. Please take this to prayer and see how God leads you.
There are few reasons that bring me to my knees begging people to respond, but this is one of them. These children are worth it. This program works! Your $30 a month truly transforms their lives. If you don't believe me, I invite you to come to Haiti and see it for yourself! Listen to our children sing "Yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so." Without your sponsorship, they may not hear the Good News of our Savior.
If you hear God asking you to respond and sponsor a child, please email us at: email@example.com. Feel free to designate boy/girl or school/orphanage.
Thank you for your continued prayers and your love and compassion for the people of Haiti!
Monday, February 20, 2012
Last week the HOPE House family grew a little bit larger. We welcomed a 6 week old baby girl into our care. Sweet little Love-Kelly was born on January 1st and is in remarkably good health. Yet like many children here in Haiti she has a story that starts off sad, but a future that is full of hope.
Love-Kelly's mother, Nadine, lives in a very dangerous area in downtown Port-au-Prince. She does not have her own house or even her own tent. She is living with other people who told her that she needed to get rid of her baby if she wanted to continue to stay there. With no place else to live, she began searching for an orphanage. Love-Kelly is Nadine's second child. She had to send her first daughter out to the countryside to serve as a slave child because she could not afford to feed or educate her. Nadine is hoping to find a better fate for her new baby. After a lengthy discussion about Nadine's life, education, and ability to be a good mother, she firmly believed the only way to give her daughter life was to give her up for adotpion.
We asked her questions like, "If you had a place to live with Love-Kelly, would you want her back?" "If you had a job and could provide for her, would you want to keep her?" With tears rolling down her face she said, "Yes, of course, but I would have no one to watch her. I have thought of everything and the best choice for me is to give her up so she can have a better life." We searched for ways to keep them together. I would always prefer to keep a breastfeeding mother with her infant baby! However, it came to a point where Nadine was so sure she would fail, that if she didn't leave Love-Kelly here, she would leave her somewhere else.
And so we brought her home. She is absolutely beautiful from head to toe.
I have no doubt that God will provide a loving family for Love-Kelly and that she will grow up surrounded by love and joy. But my heart breaks for Nadine and the emotions and heartache she is facing. She never intended to put her children through this pain. This is never how she envisioned her life. I cannot imagine how hard life must be to have to come to a point where you have to abandon your child, out of love, because that is the best thing for them. If you have children, can you even imagine that? To see your children sick and dying and having to choose which one to abandon? It is a difficult choice that too many mothers in Haiti are facing.
I am thankful that we were able to make Nadine an appointment for our birth control program. Until she is able to provide and care for her children, she will not be having any more. She will be beginning Depopprovera this month.
Nadine just arrived at our gate. She is going to help us with laundry over the next few months. Please keep Nadine and Love-Kelly in your prayers. Despite all of the heartache and trials, God is good, and there is great hope for both of them! I am excited and blessed to have the opportunity to know them and pour the love of Christ into their lives. I am looking forward to what God has in store for their futures!
Thursday, February 16, 2012
We have been so blessed by an awesome work team this week! So much is getting accomplished, and we have no shortage of projects! Part of the team has been working on hooking up our water and electricity around the back side of the property and over to our storage rooms, staff bathroom, and Jean and Lucienne's house. It is always a challenge coming down to another country and doing work that you are used to doing with all of the materials available in the states! Flexibility and innovation are key! This group has both! The other half of the team has been helping me sort through and organize all of the boxes and bins full of donations from our last shipment. Just two days ago I couldn't even walk into the storage let alone find something! Now it is beautifully organized and labeled! I know exactly what we have and where it is! Praise God! That alone makes life so much easier!
The team took an afternoon to set up the new playground equipment! The kids are absolutely loving it! I think the slide is the biggest hit! It's hard imagine that these children are 4-9 years old and have never swung on a swing or slid down a slide. This is all new for them! My favorite part is the three person porch swing! Perfect for rocking our precious babies! ....and in about 10 years the mango and chadek trees should be large enough to provide shade! HA!
So far over 130 families have benefited food, clothing, and sheets from the shipment. Praise God! We are so thankful to blessed to spread God's love and hope to those in need. Thank you for donating to HFAP!
Also, thank you to everyone who has been praying for Guerlens. He is officially back in Michigan and the surgery behind him! Please continue to pray for his recovery, health, and appetite.
The team has been able to enjoy riding around in an air conditioned van this week! We were able to get our new full sized van out of customs and complete all of the paperwork for licensing literally 20 minutes before they arrived. I am so thankful for a vehicle that provides protection on all sides! God is good!
I have so much more to say....including the story of our new baby girl, Love-Kelly....stay tuned!
Thursday, February 9, 2012
(The pictures above were taken just before Guerlens went in for surgery. His head will look so much different once the wrap is off the and the swelling goes down.)
The surgery was a success! The surgeons were very pleased and found nothing unexpected. They were very interested to see how pointed the back of his skull was. They were able to split the bone and reshape his skull without any complications. The surgery was over shortly after 5:00pm yesterday evening. It was difficult to see him after surgery, but I am so thankful that he was not in pain. The nurses have been wonderful and Guerlens has been so comfortable. He opened his eyes for the first time after surgery at about 11:40 last night. I was sitting with him and he heard my voice and jumped awake and even gave me a little wave. At this point, he is far more scared than he is in pain. I am thankful that even though I can't hold him, I can wrap my arm around him and sing him to sleep. He has been doing a lot of resting which is so good for him.
This morning the swelling had already noticeably gone down. By about 10:30am he had his catheter and his hand IV taken out. I got to feed him a little lunch, but he was not able to keep it down. He is drinking clear fluids well. Please pray that he will be able to keep food down soon. He has such an appetite and he wants to eat so badly. For now, the pedialyte is holding him over.
It is amazing to think the journey this little guy has been on. Less than a year ago he was sleeping on the streets of Port-au-Prince with little food, little protection, and little hope. Because of our amazing supporters, we were able to provide Guerlens with a loving home when he was only 6 weeks old. Our staff fell head over heals for him despite the shape of his head. For the first 6 months of his life he showed little progress and little personality. I spent months wondering what I could do for this boy and how he would ever find help. Then something miraculous happened. This great adventure leading up to his surgery began in late October when he was officially diagnosed with craniosynostosis. It is hard to believe all that has happen in the last few months. Our God is so great! Countless people have given generously of their time and money to help Guerlens have a better life. From the bottom of my heart, I cannot thank them enough!
The hardest part is behind us now! Guerlens has a beautiful head that will hopefully be unveiled tomorrow! Please pray that a bed opens up in the pediatric wing so we can be with him more. Please pray for him to be pain free and feel safe and comfortable. Pray that he will be able to keep solid foods down so he can fill up that little man belly of his!
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for playing a significant role in Sweet Guerlens' life!
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Guerlens and I are loving New York! We have been able to see so many things and meet so many amazing people! I cannot believe how friendly and kind the people in New York are! What a wonderful place to be. Every person we have met or run into has been so welcoming and generous. From directions in the subway, to "goodmornings" as we walk down the street. From the gentlemen who carry Guerlens and his stroller down the stairs, to the amazing staff and volunteers at the hospital. From the people who offer to take our picture, to the kind hosts and waitresses at restaurants. This place is nothing short of amazing! I have never been surrounded by so many helpful, friendly, kind people in my life! We love New York!
We have had the opportunity to meet with Guerlens surgeons and all of the people involved to make this happen...and there sure are a lot of them! The Posada Foundation is covering all of Guerlens' hospital expenses. The two surgeons, Dr. Staffenberg and Dr. Weiner are donating their time. Together, they are financially making this happen. The National Foundation for Facial Reconstruction has provided us with housing and connected us with all of the right doctors, papers, and other appointments to get ready for the big day. NYU Medical Center has cooperated with all of organizations involved! All for one very special little guy! How GREAT is our God?
Our latest appointments with the two surgeons have put me at such ease. Guerlens is in wonderful hands here at NYU. We were unable to have the surgery performed in Haiti, due to loss of blood. The survival rate would have been less than 50%. He was more likely to die than live. This morning, while meeting with Dr. Weiner I asked what the risk of life is for this surgery here in the United States. Less than 1%. Amazing. There is also less than a 1% chance that he would suffer any brain or long term damage. There is a 10% chance that he would need a future operation to continue to reshape his head. Both surgeons are extremely confident in the surgery and the outcome for our sweet boy. They said we will be amazed at his beautiful round head when they remove the head wrap! I just can't wait! They will reshape the whole back of his head and make it wider. The only thing they will not reshape is his forehead, but overtime they expect it to flatten and reshape with the rest of his skull.
Guerlens is scheduled to go in for surgery at 1:00pm tomorrow. I will be able to hold him in my arms while the anesthetic kicks in. Once he is fast asleep I can lay him on the operating table and he won't know anything happened until hours after surgery when we are standing by his bedside. It is such a blessing that he is still so young and has no idea what lies ahead. He has nothing to dread or worry about.
Please pray for a smooth, successful surgery. Pray for Guerlens tomorrow morning as he will be very hungry! He cannot eat after midnight tonight....and the boy LOVES to eat! Pray that his stitches will not get infected and that he will not need a blood transfusion. These are the two most common risks of this surgery. Pray for comfort and no pain. Pray he feels safe and can rest well in his hospital bed. And pray he only has to spend one night in the PICU! (After that we can be with him and he can be out of his bed in the regular pediatric wing.) And pray that this is the only operation he will ever need!
Our God is so good! I know your prayers will be heard and answered! I will leave an update here on the blog tomorrow night. We hope he is out of surgery around 5:00-6:00pm.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
It's old news by now, but nevertheless it's still exciting and a huge answer to prayer! The container finally arrived! After 4 months of sitting in customs, Papa Frentz took matters into his own hands! I could hardly believe my eyes or contain my excitement as the bright yellow sea container backed down our street and into our gate! What a glorious day! With the help of Joseph's men it was unloaded in a matter of minutes. And with the help of my wonderful mother, the supplies were somewhat organized and in storage rooms in a matter of days. Just in time for my departure to New York City to be with Guerlens during his surgery.
The very first delivery we made were the preschool chairs to Les Bours! Our poor kids have been standing, sitting on the table, or sitting 3 to a chair. We have 60 preschoolers and there were a grand total of 9 chairs left. The kids' faces lit up as we handed each one their very own brightly colored plastic chair. All of the kindergarteners began chanting, "Mesi! Mesi! Mesi!" The teachers were equally as excited with their little desks and chairs. We delivered a truck load of school supplies! Everything from chalkboards and backpacks to markers and paper. Our school nurse, Linda, was excited with her new desk for the clinic! She had previously been using a preschool table. It was a very happy morning!
The next morning we went down to Cite Jeremie to set up our new clinic. We had previously been hosting our clinics in a large canvas tent. Our Haitian nurse, Marilane, has rented a house, and we were able to rent two rooms as a permanent clinic. Marilane has been seeing and treating patients everyday for months with very little medications or supplies. We unloaded a desk, folding table, patient table, a cot, folding chairs, a filing cabinet and more! The filing cabinet and several other boxes were full of medications for the beloved peopled in Cite Jeremie and Cite Okay.
I am writing this post in an apartment in Manhattan with little Guerlens. We have this weekend to check out the sights, but starting Monday morning he is going to be a busy little guy with several appointments a day leading up to his big surgery on the 8th. I will be receiving more details Monday or Tuesday about the exact time of surgery, but right now they believe he will go in at 8:30am. The surgery should last 3-4 hours. Please pray for wisdom for Dr. Saffenberg as he and his team perform the surgery. Pray for Guerlens to feel no pain and to recover quickly. We are so thankful to have received such blessing for Guerlens' life! Everyone we have met here with the Posada Foundation, NFFR, and NYU Hospital has been so gracious and kind. Everywhere we go people fall in love with our sweet boy. He certainly is a charmer!
I also ask that you would lift Jouvenika up in your prayers. She has been in our care at HOPE House for about 4 months now because of a wound on her leg. Everytime is scabs over and we think she is ready to go home, it opens back up again. Her body does not want to kick the infection. We have started her on a new antibiotic. We are praying her body will respond to this new medication quickly. Otherwise, we will have to take her in to have her bone and blood tested for infection.
I have been feeling sick ever since my first night in NYC. I'm not sure whether it's allergies or a flu bug, but I just feel plain miserable. Guerlens just went down for his nap, and I think I will join him! A nice rest and a warm cup of tea is all I have on my schedule this afternoon!
As I learn more about surgery times I will post them here so you can be specifically praying for Guerlens. Thank you in advance! Our God is a great, loving God! The ultimate healer and redeemer!