Sunday, March 23, 2008


A few pictures from our Easter celebration today. We had lunch at our house after church and then had an Easter egg hunt with 13 adults standing around watching Tanner hunt for eggs :) It definitely wasn't like the Ebersole egg hunts growing up...with kids running around in every direction trying to find the most eggs. It was an extremely competitive endeavor, which I know is no surprise to those who know our family. Poor Tanner needs some cousins in town or even better, some siblings, to bring a little more excitement to the hunt!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter celebrating the fact that we serve a Lord who is alive and wants to have a relationship with us. In fact, He delights in us - how awesome is that!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

another point of view

Chris shared a testimony from our Haiti trip at church this morning. He did such a great job that I wanted to share it here:

Faith yes, love still the best
And love we did – planted seeds of the Gospel, encouraged would be pastors, prayed for those overseeing orphanages, discipled youth on the street, loved the lonely, hopeless, and dying wherever and whenever we could.

As we came back my thoughts were on “The Church” as we see it in Acts–
Can it be done? – I know it can! We met together, ate with and enjoyed each others company, prayed together about what we were to do (such as giving to the needy, when there are so many, etc.), we mourned with each other over what we saw or felt, laughed over things out of our control (no hot water, A/C, mosquito nets, or luggage), sacrificed for each other (mostly aisle seats for me and my leg), gave to each other whatever we had (food, money,…sarcasm (a hard time), stomach viruses,) whatever we had.

It was easy to recognize where we were - In a foreign and hostile land (here at home we sometimes forget and simply or naively call the land we live in …“the world”).
We looked after and checked on each other, for we could not afford to assume that someone else would, or that it was just “our leader’s job”. Although “Momma Duck” (as we affectionately named Jada) did a great job of watching over us.

Our Mission – our focus – was always on others and the Kingdom
It was never about ourselves.
Church services we could not understand (except for one of us “Ask Shonie about that”).
Singing or attempting to sing from a hymnal written in another language to a very roughly tuned guitar.
No A/C, carpet, or comfy chairs, no big restaurant to rush off to after Church
It did not matter – We were on a mission, and it wasn’t about us.
Everything we learned (the language, customs,etc.) things we prayed for, spent time on, places we traveled to,… fears we overcame. It was all done with a hope that someone else’s life would be better off for it. Every moment had a purpose. And it felt good!

If you are here this morning and benefit from our mission statement of being saved, healed, trained, and released. Remember whatever you gain here, it is ultimately intended to benefit someone else. And I pray you will not forget your mission when you walk out the door.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

God answers prayers!

i have to share a great testimony of answered prayer while we were in Haiti. As I mentioned in a previous post, Chris tore the meniscus in his knee right before we left for Haiti. By the time we left, it was really hurting him and he could not put any weight on the leg. So off we went with a knee brace, ice packs, and a cane - with a lot of people praying for him! The first few days in Haiti it was really bothering him but then God took over! Every morning that he woke up, his knee was a little better. By Wednesday, he was not using the knee brace or the cane and by Friday, he was on the playground playing soccer with the kids. It was truly a miracle and there was no explanation except prayer. When we returned home, he went to see his doctor who explained that if the meniscus lays a certain way it can alleviate some of the pain. However, it usually flaps up and that is what causes the pain. I know that God miraculously laid that cartilage down while we were in Haiti! We serve such an awesome and powerful God!!

The greatest part about it was that Chris had such an incredible time with the kids and really bonded with them. He would have missed out on a lot of that if he had not injured his knee because he would have been doing construction work like he originally planned. God used the knee injury to put him exactly where he needed to be. Praise God!!

The second day after we returned home, Chris woke up and said it must have flapped back up because it was hurting again! He did have surgery yesterday to correct it, and everything went well and the doctor said he should have no long term damage. Thank you to everyone who prayed for him...God heard your prayers!!

The rest of the story...

We have been home from Haiti for 5 days, so I guess it is about time that I update the blog with the rest of our Haiti trip. Here are some excerpts from my journaling for the last half of our trip

Tuesday (March 4)

Today we visited another orphanage that was a 15-20 minute walk from the school. This orphanage was much smaller and cleaner which definitely made it easier to visit. They have babies and young children up to age 5 and currently have 27 children. The great part was that all but 2 of them are currently in the process of being adopted. The couple that runs the place said that most of their children get adopted soon after they arrive. They also get a lot of brothers and sisters, and most of the time they are adopted together. It was refreshing to see such a ray of hope for children who have been neglected and abandoned. The walk there was the first time that I have really been out in the streets and it really gave me a better picture of Haiti. Out on the streets, people are hanging out everywhere you look and the poverty just stares you in the face. The homes here are concrete or cinder block and most of them are half finished. Occasionally, you will see a nicer painted cement home with a wall around it, but they are few and far between. Since there are very few cars and most people don’t have electricity, people seem to spend most of their time outside just hanging out with their neighbors and friends. April told us that if a house does have electricity, it will draw a crowd at night because everyone wants to hang out by the light. There is a house next to our hotel that we have wondered about because there are always a lot of people there in the evenings…now we know it is because they have electricity and it is one of the few lights in the area at night! It really is hard to get your mind around the lives these people lead. Even though you see it all around you, I still don’t think it really sinks in. April made the comment yesterday that she has been here for 10 years, and she has really gotten to know her students and what their lives are like outside of school. However, no matter how many times she goes into their homes and experiences their life, she always has the option to leave. And that is an option they don’t have. Because we can leave, we can never really know what it is like to live in such poverty. Experiencing it for one week on a mission trip is a great opportunity to gain a new perspective on what is really important, but we can always go back home. It breaks your heart when you realize that the majority of these Haitian people will never know anything different.

A few pictures from the orphanage today (we did face painting with the kids...they loved it!)

Thursday (March 6)

As we get closer to our departure day, it is getting harder to think about leaving this place. Chris really had a tough time today. He has really connected with the kids…which I knew he would. He has always been great with kids and they love him! It is always neat to see how God uses things in our lives. When Chris injured his knee right before we left for Haiti, he was so disappointed because he really wanted to help with the construction of the new church they are building. He didn’t know what he would be able to do in the school. But God had plans!! Chris is having so much fun with the 1st graders and the 7th and 8th graders. In fact, when I meet kids in his class and they find out that I am married to Mister Chris, their faces just light up. We have one more day to go, and I know we are all a little anxious about telling the kids goodbye.

Now I want to share some funny things from today. We have such a great team, and we all get along so well together. Chris is always telling us that we are the giggliest girls he has ever seen! We sometimes sound like a bunch of middle school girls at summer camp. We were really hooting and hollering tonight at dinner, the laugh till you cry kind, when Shonie was rehashing Sissy’s bad day. It started off this morning when apparently Sissy, Shonie & Sherry were on the roof of the school having their quiet time. The roof is a flat cement two story roof with no sides. As they were leaving, Sissy was headed for what she thought were the stairs. However, she got distracted with the scenery and was walking towards the edge of the roof without looking where she was going. Shonie noticed just in time that she was a few steps from walking right off the roof! Shonie hollered at her and stopped her just in time. Of course, it was one of those things that was rather scary and traumatic at the time, but boy was it funny when they were telling it later. The roof incident was then followed with several other things later in the morning. Sissy & Shonie were sitting on a bench in the playground, and Sissy had just finished saying that she was having a bad day when a volleyball from the other side of the playground flew across the picnic table and hit her on the head. She then gets up and moves to the other side of the picnic table, and a few minutes later she gets up screaming because a dog just walked over and pee’d on her skirt! I was laughing so hard and crying when they were telling this story at dinner. Sissy said she went on a hike that afternoon and it started to look like ran, and she made the comment that this was the day she would get struck by lightening. Thankfully she was spared! This trip has been overwhelming in so many ways, with the poverty and needs all around us...I think God knew we needed a little laughter today!

Friday (Mar 7)

It was tough today saying goodbye to all the kids. This week has flown by, like we knew it would. We have been practicing songs with the different classes all week, and today they did a performance. It was so touching to see the kids really worshipping the Lord in song. In Haiti, music seems to be a big part of their culture so the kids love to learn new songs. In fact, they just belt it out...something you don't see with American kids. For the most part, our kids get nervous at the idea of singing in front of people whereas these kids just sing at the tops of their lungs with no insecurity or inhibitions. I wonder if our overstimulated and media obsessed culture breeds insecurity in our kids??

After school, they had a baptism in the ocean right outside the school. That was incredible to witness! In Haiti, many of the parents don't allow their children to be baptized. I'm not sure if it is the public proclamation they don't like or what - but I was glad that we were able to be there for the baptism. Here are a few pictures:

After lunch, we went downtown to the market. April took us to her local "Wal-mart" - a large warehouse with lots of vendors and all kinds of miscellaneous things. She told us not to touch anything, because if we touch it we buy it. That was very hard for me, being the touchy feely person that I am! I had to stick my hands in my pockets!! After visiting several little stores, we hopped in the back of the pickup truck and drove for about 20 minutes to a hospital called the House of Hope. It was a nice facility, for Haiti, and Jada even pointed out that they had actual landscaping - or at least an attempt, which is something you just don't see here. We visited the pediatric section for terminally ill children. We took candy with us and passed that out and just loved on the kids, holding them and talking to them. I was holding a little girl probably around 18 months old whose name was Nena. April told me that she came to the orphanage as a tiny baby with AIDS, but she had recently been tested again and it came back negative! She was a beautiful little girl and we found out later that one of the nurses was in the process of adopting her. After our visit to the hospital, we headed back to Sonlight in the back of the pickup. Chris commented that he felt like a walking mud pie by the time we got back. The dust here just cakes everything!

It is hard to believe that we are heading back home tomorrow. It has been an incredible week. I'm sure I will be processing for weeks all that God has shown and taught me.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Haiti update

I have journaled A LOT the last few days, but here are a few of the highlights:

We arrived in Port-a-Prince around 12:30 Saturday afternoon. At that point, we rode in the van for about 2 miles to another smaller airport where we boarded a “puddle jumper” for the flight to Port-de-Paix. That was an experience! This plane held 20 people and was SMALL! I know they make smaller planes but I don’t think I ever want to be in anything smaller than that!! Talk about feeling every little bump. But it was a short trip, about 45 minutes, and overall it wasn’t bad. Of course, the whole flight I was thinking about my carry on bag that they decided was too heavy for me to take on board and they insisted on checking. So I sat there at the window watching the pilots and other Haitian men arguing, rather heatedly, about whether or not it could go on the plane. After about 10 minutes of intense conversation, I watched as my bag was rolled off to goodness knows where. Not only was that my overnight bag with clothes for the next day and toiletries and camera, but it made me a little nervous to think that a bag that couldn’t have weighed more than 25 lbs was such a point of heated discussion. Were we really that close to our weight limit?? I felt like we all needed to hold our breath for the flight! And then there were the strong gas fumes as we prepared to take off. In fact, Paul had Shonie convinced that the liquid dripping out of the engine was gasoline, thus explaining the gas smell. Once we got in the air, he then proceeded to tell Shonie that the good news was the smell was gone and no more gas was leaking out…bad news was that he hoped we had enough gas left to get there. So we had Shonie worried about our gas and I was worried about my bag (aka camera!) and the weight on the plane. But we made it! For the landing, we came in on a little road…and I mean little, dirt road right next to a river. All along the river there were women washing clothes and the river banks were covered with clothes laid out to dry. It was an incredible sight! We were definitely not in America anymore!

After we landed in Port-de-Paix, April and John from Sonlight were there to greet us. It was so refreshing to see April’s smiling face as we got off that plane! At that point, we discovered that all of our baggage was coming separately and we would not get it until the next day. Great…I didn’t have anything except the clothes on my back! So we all piled into the back of a Ford pickup truck and headed for Sonlight. That was another interesting experience. It was about a 10 minute ride, and the streets were just total chaos. There are obviously no traffic laws, except that the biggest vehicle gets the right of way. That usually was us but a couple times we met big dump trucks and then we just had to lean in so we didn’t lose an arm! For the most part, people are walking or riding mopeds. In fact, the “beeps” from mopeds are pretty much a constant noise around here.

We are staying in a “hotel” of sorts across the street from Sonlight. Our rooms are very basic…nothing fancy but they have running water and electricity which is more than most people around here. A funny thing about the electricity in the hotel is that it only comes on in the evening and then goes off around 6:30 in the morning. But that works for us since we aren’t in our rooms much during the day. The shower consists of a pipe coming out of the wall, but there is warm water if you let it run for about 20 minutes first. Jada had us prepared for no hot water, so I am very grateful! Although I must say I feel like a very spoiled American as I write this.

On Monday, we spent the morning at the school. We were all in different class rooms assisting the teachers with whatever they needed. It was great to interact one-on-one with the students…but I will share more about that later. In the afternoon, we went to an orphanage across the street. I don’t even know how to put into words what we saw and experienced. This orphanage houses around 200 kids with five families living there to oversee them. I didn’t see many of the adults, but there were kids everywhere! They were very dirty with dingy, ragged clothes. And they literally mobbed us when we walked in there. Within minutes, we all had children hanging on each arm, trying to get in our lap or on our back…and just wanting to touch us and have us hold them and love on them. It was heart-breaking to see children in such conditions. I wanted to scoop them up and just take them home where they could have people that love them and take care of them and meet their very basic needs for clean clothes, a roof over the head and food to eat. There was one little girl named Menushta who latched onto me and stuck with me pretty much the whole hour we were there. Someone told me she was 4 years old and I just kept thinking of Tanner. It was a really hard place to visit and I am still processing everything I saw. In our team meeting last night, someone made the point that it gave them a new perspective on what it means to be an orphan. What a comfort to know that we are told in Psalm 68:5 that God is a father to the fatherless. I have a better understanding after today of why orphans have such a special place in God’s heart!

A few pictures. Here are some preschoolers at Sonlight Academy:

This is Menushta and another little boy from the orphanage:

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Almost there

We spent the night in Ft Lauderdale and now we are waiting for our flight to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We had a really nice hotel room last night…with beds that were a little too comfy  In fact, it isn’t feeling much like a mission trip yet…but I know that is all about to change. They just announced that our departure has been delayed for an hour due to some problems with the plane. Not exactly what we wanted to hear since we are all excited and ready to get there.

Here we are...ready to go!

As I am sitting here typing this blog, I see several members of our team who have befriended some Haitians waiting for our flight. They are having a lesson in "Creole"!