Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday in Christianville

It is Heidi and I am writing on last full day at Christianville. I miss my kids and husband terribly, but I can honestly say I am going to be very sad to leave this place. When I met Gary many years ago he always said his heart is in Sevastopol Ukraine, I never knew what that meant. I know now. I think leaving here will be hard, going back to the comforts of America knowing how kids, babies and families are living here.
With that said, let me tell you of a few of the experiences we have had lately. Two days ago Nicole and I went to participate in something called "popcorn ministry". A local pastor who oversees five churches here, named Pastor Leguire runs this ministry where he goes out to the local villages and as we drove in kids were chasing the truck with bags and bowls in their hands and smiles on their faces that spread from ear to ear, running trying to reach the truck. Once we arrived at the church site he explained to us that all the voodoo temples within several miles of where we were got demolished in the earthquake. However this church remains standing. Not that long ago it was just walls and a contractor came down here, saw the church and raised money to put a floor and roof on the building.
We were outside and over 70 kids ran from all directions as the kids sang different songs, one of which was Papa Abraham. It was so touching and sweet. Then Pastor Leguire and a women from Iowa shared the story of David and Goliath with felt charactors to tell the story. Then they sang a song about David and Goliath. After that they sat in a circle and got popcorn in their bowls and bags. They may have come only for the popcorn but they also got the Word too!
The drive home was extremely heartbreaking for me. Home after home after home all destroyed. Nothing just rubble. People living under jerry rigged tents made with tarp and twine. This country was poor before the earthquake, and now, it is devastating. That was hard for me.
Our group did some major work. We dug a trench that was about 2.5 feet deep and about 60 yards long. We also assisted in building a wall and in sifting sand to make a stucco for the walls.
Yesterday we took a trip to the beach, it was very refreshing. Many of us swam to the island that was about a 5 minute swim. It was a great time, hunting for shells and looking at crabs and other creatures. Then we swam back. On the drive to and from we passed through a market in Carre du Four and it was amazing and awesome.
I love it here! I am excited to see my man and my kids, but I sure hope I will be back here some day, if God wills it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Service day with EFCA


Hey all,

It's Denny and Scott writing here. The girls left us with this responsibility because they were out of time from uploading the pictures. So, this is what you get.

Bernt, Nicole, Heidi, Chris, Sara and Kids went to the beach today. We haven't talked to them yet, but we're going to assume they had a good time with their needed rest. Bernt couldn't work with us today because he gave his shoes away to a Hatian worker at Christianville. We'll let them update you on that time tomorrow after church.

Scott's sitting here with his arms clasped behind his head and just said "Man... something smells." Needless to say, I'm sure all at the table here do.

Scott and I, Sue and Stephanie (Iowa) joined several team members from EFCA TouchGlobal building transitional shelters for people in Marshelle (small village outside of Gressier). Joe (Christianville), his Dad Phil, Uncle Dan, and Jim went with Wes and other TouchGlobal people to build a large bunkhouse at an orphanage in Leogane. Steve from Michigan, Cathy, and Big Dave (TouchGlobal) worked with us building the homes from Samaritans Purse. We built 2 complete homes, and roofed 9 from 8am - 4pm. Scott was in his element. He is the roofing master, and was able to teach some valuable time-saving techniques to the TouchGlobal team.

There are 7000 of these Samaritans Purse transitional shelters that need to be constructed.

Much help is needed here.

Since the earthquake, 1,000,000 people have been displaced from their homes.

Let me try to help you visualize these homes. Pre-fab wood walls arrive in pieces to make a 12x12 shelter. You assemble the outer walls, then the roof trusses, then the 3-stack bunk bed that sleeps 6 children. There is a ladder that stabilizes the 3-stack 2'x12' plywood beds. There's a 'larger' bed probably twin bed size for adult(s) to sleep on. Then you take 5 sheets of sheet-metal and tack them down to the roof trusses with sheet metal screws with washers that keep the roof from leaking. Later, Hatian workers will come and pull the blue Samaritans Purse tarp around the shelter frame for the walls.

When you see the impact on the lives of the people here, from receiving shelter over their head, they are so grateful. It was such a blessing to be able to work alongside EFCA volunteers today and see the way God is providing for these people. We are thankful for to the Hatian people and to God for the opportunity to share the love that he has for these people. Our God is sovereign, compassionate and rich in love.

Tomorrow morning we will all go to the Christianville church service. We are looking forward to that. Continue to pray for health, strength, and rest. We love and miss you all.

Scott and I are going to head back to Christianville now. We hope all of you have a good weekend. Praise God with us!

In His service,
The Hiawatha Haiti Team

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hiawatha Team Report 1

Bonswa! (Haiti's afternoon greeting)

First off, for you worriers (my wife included) we are all doing great! No sickness, injury, sunburns, or exhaustion. Praise God for that.

Here at the Christianville compound, we are united by the love of Jesus. It's great to see teams/people from Iowa, New York, Kansas, Michigan, and Florida just to name a few all working hard for the glory of Christ. We pray, eat, and work together. What a great example of the body of Christ.

The Haitians are extraordinarily friendly. Even though there is an obvious language barrier, (Haitians speak a language similar to French called Creole) a smile and a "Bonjure!" goes a long way. We work alongside them and they always outwork us. It's amazing their endurance, determination, and work ethic.

After a long day of digging trenches, hauling/sifting dirt, and/or creating cinder blocks, food has never tasted sooo good. Rice is a staple at every meal, but they've also had some gumbo soup we couldn't get enough of, chicken, bread, and mango juice. It's great!

At the end of the day, we enjoy some devotions followed by some card games or cribbage. We are soon ready for bed (if we even make it though the games without falling asleep) and enjoy a bunkhouse with our fellow short-term missionary friends. The limited water and electricity have hardly been noticed. We are constantly reminded and amazed at God's provision.

I'll have to end it here as internet time is a valuable commodity and I don't want to take advantage of our hosts.

Thanks for your prayers and it's been fun to talk up Hiawatha church!

-Bernt and the rest of the Hiawatha gang.

P.S. Heidi 'Stephens' Munson will be posting pictures on her Facebook account. Please be on the lookout for those. (Hopefully it works as uploading pictures down here on a limited bandwidth is frustrating and very time consuming.)

Hard Working Team

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Internet is spotty here. Hopefully we can have a team member post tonight.

Scott's bag was found in Port au Prince yesterday! This is great news as he was sharing clothes with the other guys. He now has all his clothes and belongings he packed.

We have an amazing team. We were all talking about how random of a group God chose to put together. None of our team has complained a bit yet. It is amazing. And I am not just comparing them to teenagers. There are other adult teams here at Christianville that are simply disgruntled with the construction work. But our team is great and I am very thankful for them!

Chris and I are trying our best as team leaders to make sure the our team works - why they came - but also gets to see Haiti. Yesterday they got a tour of the Christianville grounds, today or tomorrow we will tour Reserve (the local neighborhood), and hopefully Saturday we will either have a beach day or a Port au Prince day - still to be determined.

My nuclear family is doing okay. Chris and I are battling Haitian Happiness (think Montezuma's Revenge) and Luke is feeling really homesick. Yesterday Luke told us that he feels so homesick and Eloise said, "I'm not homesick. I want to stay here forever. I'm moving here as soon as I am old enough." And Kate said, "I don't want to go to Haiti. Let's go to the other Haiti."

The temperature is a good 10-15 degrees cooler here than in Jacmel and at night it is significantly cooler. Makes for good sleeping. Luke keeps waking up scared in the middle of the night because it is so dark here that you can't tell if your eyes or open or closed. Just not used to that from living in the city with a spot light in our alley.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

They've arrived

After a few airport delays and a lost bag of Scott's, the group got here to Gressier safely and spent today making bricks, sorting rubble and digging holes to help build a wall around where the new clinic will be built. It is amazing to work alongside the Haitians who leave us in the dust when it comes to how fast and efficient they are. We need breaks every 15-3o minutes or so and they just keep on going. No major injuries so far, and we all look forward to some group time tonight and more work tomorrow. Keep praying, and we'll update more soon.


Friday, June 11, 2010


This morning Chris and I went on a "date" to Pinchinat. We really haven't had any time to spend together since we've been here, so if a half hour in a refugee camp can count as a date - then that is how the day started. Gwen took us there. She hired a few of the ladies who live there to be the cooks at the soccer camp. So she needed to pick them up for work. We approached a huge wall with barb wire over the top. The wall had written in English, "We Need Canada". After going through the gate there were just rows and rows and rows of tents - green military tents. The ones without windows. Each tent had a number spray painted on it and each tent had one small cot in it and a few possessions. The tents are stifling hot - even for Haitians. The babies are covered in heat rash, and the families spend their days outside their tents in the rows between them sitting on small chairs. Micro commerce has started a bit. There was a tiny market in the middle of the camp. It is unclear how many people are in the camp - 2,000 at least.

I really thought it would be Chris who had a harder time. But I think it was me. I spent a lot of time in a Liberian refugee camp in Ghana, hearing war stories and doing a VBS. I've seen malnourished babies covered in flies. I don't know. This was different. Venezuela apparently "set-up" the refugee camp. I suppose that means that they provided the tents. And at one point there were six thousand people in the camp. So a significant number of people have "gone home", whatever that might look like. But those remaining have no where to go. Their houses were destroyed and they own no land to put tents on. Pinchinat is their home.

I guess my tears at this point are over my extreme, total, utter disappointment at international aide organizations. I was here after the quake - I saw what happened. I saw the World Food Program come and drop literally tons and tons of food at the doorstep of missionaries, or in the midst of crowds of gathered people, like at Pinchinat. Sure World Food Program can say on their website that they distributed X tons of food. Great. What does that mean for the long term? Basically their efforts fed a few in the short term. Dumping aide in tent cities encouraged slums. Dumping aide at the foot of missionaries caused security issues at the least. There was no training for the missionaries in safe distribution methods. Just hey, "you're white, you know people, pass this out." And I suppose it may have worked in some areas.

The problem is the total lack of coordinated efforts. Venezuela can say they provided tents for shelter, Planned Parenthood can say they provided thousands of condoms to slow the amount of STD's in Pinchinat, World Food Program can say the provided X calories worth of food, Doctors without Boarders can say they provided one day here and there of medical care, Unicef can say that they provided a water bladder that sometimes works. And these are all fine things. The problem is that people in Pinchinat are still hungry, still diseased, still jobless, still homeless, still living in conditions that Americans would never consider submitting their dogs to.

The solution - I don't know. But what I do know is that God chose to break Gwen Mangine's heart and give her a desire to provide holistic, long term care for the people of Pinchinat. And Joy in Hope, the small org that she works for is attempting to get a census of the camp, record the needs of each individual there, and try to get a list of the resources available in the area. The goal is to connect each individual with the individual care they need. So the girl with a cancerous mass on her neck can possibly see a cancer specialist, and the babies whose diarrhea constantly mixes with the mud - spreading disease - can have diapers, and the malnourished babies can have formula. Joy in Hope is a very small organization attempting to do what multi-million dollar orgs like the American Refugee Committee do, providing holistic care to refugees.

But the problem continues. In a few months it is rumored that large funding organizations like the UNDP and USAID will put out requests for proposals to fund organizations working in Haiti with millions and millions of dollars. And Joy in Hope won't see that money. They will be deemed too small, too young, too incapable to manage a few million dollars. Who will get that money? The World Food Program, Planned Parenthood, UNICEF. And they will pass out more condoms and provide more food and dig a few wells. They will add the stats to their websites. Great. And the people of Pinchinat will remain reliant on Joy in Hope to connect their specific needs with these resources. Joy in Hope will help and God will provide for the people of Pinchinat. I will write proposal for those funds on behalf of Joy in Hope. They will be denied. But I will write them nonetheless.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


My kids have taken to playing Uno constantly. It is nice they found something they can all do together and actually have fun doing. Yesterday after the soccer camp got set up my sister, Teresa, saw all the soccer kids in her makeshift clinic, under tents in the soccer field. Then all the kids got a meal of beans and rice and hot dogs and juice.

Today was more of the same. We woke up early, ate a bizarre breakfast of some creamy corn meal stuff and started sorting meds. I luckily was able take a nap as I simply couldn't sleep last night. Then we all headed to the land to set up for the soccer camp. I found myself sitting in the shade taking care of Kate and Nora most of the morning with Luke and Eloise off in the woods building forts, and Chris attempting to keep the high schoolers in line. For the most part the high schoolers are doing well - you can read posts about their trip at

My kids were getting hot and board so I left Nora with Chris and headed to the beach with my three. The beach was really fun. There wasn't sand, just little pebbles and the older two really enjoyed sitting in the really shallow water and being crashed about by the waves. Kate loved the waves but was scared of them as well. So I spent my time holding her. It was so cool and refreshing. I was then crowded by about 4 young Haitian boys interested in watching me change. Awkward but whatever. Then carried my salty, stinky, rocky crew back up to the soccer camp. A friend of mine gave me a ride back to the guest house with my kids and Nora as we were all hot and sticky and tired. Seems like I've been single parenting quite a bit these past few days but it will be different once the soccer camp is over.

Today I was sitting under a tarp in the shade drinking bottled water like a fiend. The kids playing soccer get one small water bottle after each game they play. Just made me realize that this is how missionaries live day in and day out and how hard that must be. Living with such amenities amongst such poverty. But it wasn't wrong for me to stay hydrated and shaded, and it wasn't wrong for the soccer camp coordinators to limit water distribution. Just a weird feeling in general.

Tomorrow Chris and I will be heading to Pinchanet, a large camp for internally displaced persons here in Jacmel. Just Chris and I are going with Gwen, a missionary here. We don't want our kids or the high schoolers exposed to the camp. I am looking forward to seeing this place and dreaming with Gwen about possible ways to make a lasting difference there.