Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September Gilmore Gazette: Transitioning Back to U.S. Life

Dear Friends & Family,

Hello from Sunny Fresno! We are experiencing heat of a different kind as we said goodbye to tropical humidity at the end of August and hello to the hair-dryer hot heat of California's Central Valley. As the final small airplane touched ground at the Fresno Airport, we were relieved and blessed to be home!


We concluded our three-month stint in Haiti with a flurry of final meetings with people in the ministry and heartfelt goodbyes. During our last week, we hosted the Esther Women's Conference with our friends, Serena & Lindsey Isaak and Kathryn Haw, joining us from Fresno. God worked in a powerful way in the 80-some women who came to stay on our mission campus from the various churches. The theme was friendship and the highlight was witnessing five pairs of women who publicly reconciled with each other after a powerful teaching on forgiveness. Ericlee also had a very meaningful final meeting with all the laypreachers in Pignon. After spending time throughout the summer visiting most of the outstations where they conduct weekly meetings, Ericlee felt like he had really built rapport with many of them. One of the laypreachers shared his heart that "people, not buildings and programs" are the heart of this ministry.

We are reading a book called, When Helping Hurts, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert that has also helped us process a need to focus on people. This book helped us draw a distinction between relief, rehabilitation and development in ministry. After observing, listening, brainstorming and living the needs of the Haitians for a longer term, we see that there are many material needs among the people in Haiti. However, we need to stop dumping relief (money, supplies, etc.) on them and start praying and thinking of creative ways to develop jobs, encourage discipleship and rebuild communities. To borrow a quote from the book, "The goal is to restore people to a full expression of humanness, to being what God created us all to be, people who glorify God by living in right relationship with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation."


In the last few weeks we have been home in Fresno and transitioning back to U.S. life. We have to be honest and say it's been overwhelming at times to jump from Haiti to the U.S. Sure, we love 24-hour electricity, flushing toilets, the abundance of fresh Valley summer produce and other favorite foods, air conditioning and paved roads. Yet, we find ourselves missing the slower pace of life in rural Haiti and the emphasis on relationships rather than to-do lists.

We were blessed to find a rental house in our old neighborhood with a great backyard for the kids and proximity to family and our church. Meilani started right away at Fresno Montessori School. She goes five days a week for afternoon kindergarten. We love watching her dive into all the enrichment activities and she is part of a very diverse class where most of the kids speak a second language at home. We were blessed to see her fitting in right away and her teacher even celebrating her experience in Haiti this summer.


Many may be wondering how we intend to shape our time back in the U.S for these next several months. Our first priority is having a baby. Dorina is due November 22. We are gearing up for the big day and the arrival of Gilmore girl #3! Dorina will also be devoting some time to communications projects for the ministry and getting our new Haitian Bead Project off the ground. She will be selling the jewelry made by Haitian women in various venues in California.

Ericlee is now focusing most of his time on fundraising and sharing about Christian Friendship Ministries with contacts in the United States. We realized this summer the dire need for someone on the stateside to continue to raise support and tell the story of Haiti. Our goal is to recruit more friends to help develop this ministry. Ericlee plans to devote a minimum of 30 hours weekly to meeting with pastors, friends, local businesses and others who share our vision. We have three major fundraisers already planned, and we have had many invitations to share with local school groups, clubs, mission organizations and in people's homes. In addition, Ericlee will be working 10-12 hours weekly at the SPEED Crossfit gym. Our plan is for him to keep his "foot in the door" there as the owner Erik Traeger is hosting two major fundraisers for CFM. This is also an opportunity for Ericlee to continue pursuing his passion for fitness and nutrition.

We want to express again how grateful we are to each one of you for your continued prayer, emotional and financial support of our ministry to Haiti. We really could not continue to answer God's call to connect resources to Haiti if it were not for your sacrifice and partnership with us. We hope we can visit with many of you this fall and winter. Please do not hesitate to call or email us to get together. We want to soak in this time with our community.

In His Grip,
Ericlee, Dorina, Meilani, Giada & baby girl Gilmore

-Please pray for our family's transition back to U.S. life.
-Please pray for Dorina in these final 8 weeks of pregnancy.
-Please continue to pray for God to help us build bridges across cultural lines with the Haitian leaders in our ministry. Our desire is to stay connected with them even across the miles and we pray for opportunities to do that.
-Please pray for our fundraising efforts this fall, particularly as we raise money for a sustainable Solar Power Project, improvement of the schools and churches and raising scholarships for the students in our ministry.
-Please pray for our Remember Haiti Marathon Team as they continue to train for the big race on Nov. 6.
-Please pray over our new small business venture to help develop jobs for women in our ministry through the Haitian Bead Project.
  **Keep up with our weekly prayer requests at our REMEMBER HAITI blog:

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Our firstborn heads to her first day of school

Last Thursday was our Meilani's first day of kindergarten at Fresno Montessori School. We just returned from Haiti in time for a parent orientation and the first official school day. We are so excited for Meilani to be a part of the Montessori experience. Ericlee and I visited the school last spring and we love their philosophy of education. The students are able to visit different stations around the room and choose activities. They are taught independence and responsibility. Ericlee especially loved the way the students learn Math and Reading and have the opportunity to excel. Each student works one-on-one with the teacher on these skills. We also love that they emphasize healthy snacks and eating. Meilani was delighted that the snack the first day was "something healthy" - slices of cucumber and bananas!

They also enjoy Spanish class, Dance & Movement, as well as a Large Motor Skills practice outside each day. In the Spring, the class will focus on learning through art. Meilani's teacher has a special heart for teaching cultures of the world and each month they will be focusing on a different continent this year. Meilani can't wait to share some souvenirs and experiences from her time in Haiti.
The class of 15 students is very diverse with kids from many different cultural backgrounds. The majority of the children also speak a different language besides English. This is one reason we thought the school would be a perfect transition place for Meilani as we have just returned from a 3-month stint living in Haiti. Daddy was so proud of his Meilani. It's hard to believe that our firstborn is 5 years old now and off to school!
Grandma Chris took the day off work and joined us for a picnic at the tables outside Meilani's classroom. The class starts at 12:15 p.m. each day. The afternoon session affords us family time in the mornings and lunch together.
Giada was there to send her big sis off to school as well. Giada informed us: "When I get bigger, I go to class like Lani."