Hello friends and family,
I promised myself that I was not going to start this update complaining about the heat. Well, I am breaking that promise. ;) We are in the THICK of summer weather here in Jacmel, and it is making everyone a little grumpy. (Mostly me.) The afternoons are long and hot and humid making everyone eager for sunset when things cool down just a bit. We're fortunate to have many big shade trees in our yard, meaning that there's always somewhere to go to escape the direct sun.
The last time I updated you it was mid-June, so I thought I'd pick up there and bring you through the present.
After almost 3 months foster care with us, little Mykerson (left) went to his permanent home at A Children's Hope. He's doing well there. There are several other kids his age and he's become attached to the nannies taking care of him.
Late in June I had the opportunity to take the girls (and Schneider) out to Cyvadier hotel to watch a local dance school give their recital. It was fun to get all dressed up, even if we just ordered sodas while we watched the show.
June and July are filled with birthdays! This pic is from Nia's party. (She's now 11.)
This pic is from Sanndy's party. (She's now 13.)
This pic is from Manita's birthday. (She's now 8.)
With no school we've been trying to do as many organized activities as possible. We've taken a few trips to the pool at a local hotel. This was the day I brought the 6 boys. Man, boys are a lot of fun!
Nick has started a little running club with the kids that also includes walkers. He's got a great system down where he runs ahead for a few minutes, then runs back to the last runner/walker in the group collecting everyone along the way. Repeat over and over. He doesn't cover as much ground this way (obviously), but it keeps everyone together-ish and he gets to run the whole time. He's wanting to run a marathon in Jacmel in January, so this is all good practice. He's covering about 5 miles in an hour these days.
We've gotten all the kids signed up for library cards and we make a weekly library trip. It's different from libraries in the States-- you can only take out one book at a time and you only get to have it for a week, but the kids are LOVING it. We only have a few French books, and so for them to have access to books in French and Kreyol is a game changer. It's fun to see the kids around the house reading for pleasure. There is a VERY, VERY limited supply of English books at the library, so we've been going through our personal library and donating books we don't need anymore.
The kids are still very involved in karate. This weekend is their last tournament in the local Jacmel championship. Our sensei, Freeman, is fantastic with the kids. The kids have two hours of karate lessons, three times each week. And the cost is VERY minimal, meaning that this has been a staple of our summer.
Jean Louis, who was in afternoon school this year wasn't able to participate in karate. But now that school is out, he has the opportunity to join. He will test for his yellow belt at the same time as the rest of the kids test for their orange belt. That testing day will be for all the karate students in Jacmel, and we are hosting it at our home!
This past week I had a chance to get up to Lavanneau, which is about 20 minutes outside of Jacmel. It's a pretty rural area, and Freeman teaches a big free class up there for disadvantaged kids that couldn't otherwise afford karate. We have been partnering with him to try to collect karate uniforms for his students who lack the funds to purchase them. This will allow these kids to be able to participate in tournaments. So far we've collected about 60, but we are hoping to gather more. If you have any old karate uniforms you'd like to donate to the cause, email me at email@example.com.
All the kids Nia's age and under were eligible to participate in a new summer camp held in Jacmel. It was two weeks long and it was amazing. Just a day camp from 8am-noon for 2 weeks, it was a chance for the kids to participate in an American-style summer camp with bouncy houses and slides, a waterside, a pool, professional dance classes, cake decorating, arts and crafts, a zip line, lunch each day, and much, much more. To say that a good time was had by all was an understatement. Big thanks to Crosspointe who helped fund the experience.
The last day of camp they did a show for the parents. There was singing, dancing, acrobatics, cake, and soda. Super fun.
Last week we had some friends from Source Church in Manteo, NC visit us. Rob, Casey, and Nick were first-timers to Haiti, so it was fun showing them around and having them meet our kids and our neighbors. The guys funded a neighborhood picnic where we hosted 100 people to come and eat and have fun. We had a blast. In addition to a great meal, we had door prizes, dance contests (you simply must watch a video of one of the dance contests HERE), and a special performance by Rob and Nick, who are in a rap group in the States called WAR.
After WAR performed, our neighbor, Jean Charles, wanted to sing/rap for everyone, so we handed over the mic. Then another group of boys from the neighborhood wanted to rap for us and the mic was handed over again.
This turned into an open mic night that went late into the evening. (As is evidenced by this really blurry, night photo.) We love doing these neighborhood picnics. It's a good way to get to know our neighbors better and a good way to just have fun together. And we've learned that we need to buy a sound system, because clearly the way to our neighbors hearts was having a mic they could sing into!
Saving the best news for last, both Prisca and Sanndi have recently made decisions to follow Jesus. They prayed to accept Jesus 2 weeks ago and were baptized by Nick and Rob on the beach in a special family church service last Sunday. There is nothing that makes Nick and I happier than seeing our children chose to walk in the ways of Jesus. At the same time, we are firm believers in letting them come to this decision on their own, in their own timing. We celebrate the decision these girls made, and we look forward to helping them work out their salvation in the weeks, months and years to come.
As you can see, we've been keeping busy. We're finally starting to get some relief from the dreaded Chikungunya virus that destroyed all of us this summer. Many of us still have lasting pain, but it's definitely getting better. And Chikungunya notwithstanding, t's been a great summer together with the children. Nick and I have both noticed (as have others in our circle of friends here) that we are becoming more and more cohesive as a family lately. We love what we get to do with our lives and we know that we're only able to do that because of the support that has been so generously donated by our supporters. Thank you.
That being said, this summer has been a bit tight financially. Donations have been down a bit, which is normal for most churches and non-profits during the summer. Because we have been saving each month we've been able to pay all our bills and keep food on the table. But we've been pulling more from savings for the past two months, and that is a finite amount. We have big expenses coming up with the new school year and our furlough to the States, where we will get some rest, and get to visit our supporters, friends and family. Please consider a one-time donation if you're able to help out. Donations can be made quickly and securely at our webpage here: http://www.joyinhope.org/donate/.
Thanks for reading. And thanks for being in our corner.
With a very grateful heart,
Gwenn (for the entire Mangine Many)