Monday, March 18, 2013

February-March Gilmore Gazette: Gilmores celebrate opening of new orphanage in St. Raphael, Haiti

Dear Friends & Family,

Thank you so much for all your prayers and support these last few months. God sustained us through the busyness and has even thrown open some new doors and connections for us as we continue to serve with Christian Friendship Ministries in Haiti.

Trinity Community Church team poses with Gilmores in front of the Mission house in Pignon, Haiti

January trip to Haiti focuses on building relationships

As mentioned in our last letter, we traveled to Haiti at the end of January with a team of 8 friends from Trinity Community Church. This trip was three years in the making as team leaders Richard & Gina Wathen followed a prompting to help build an orphanage in Haiti. The roof went up in January on the new orphanage building in St. Raphael. The team had plans to work on some of the finishing touches. Our group accomplished what they set out to do: they built beautiful beds. They fashioned tables and benches for the kids to eat on. They checked off their to-do list. They even enlisted help from some of the Haitian young men and built relationships across cultural lines with them as they worked. But more than that, they "looked after" orphans as it talks about in James. They showed the kids how to create with Legos and rock baby dolls. They encouraged the kids’ help in the building projects - drilling nails into the beds and carrying wood. They played baseball. They sang. They bestowed lots of high fives and hugs. They learned their names. They prayed over the kids. They are already making plans to go back, to bring their extended families, to help raise up sponsors. Check out this short video for highlights from our trip.

Lukendy, the youngest boy at the Kay Cadence orphanage, checks out his new Lego set.

Dorina and Gina also had a chance to work with the women of The Haitian Bead Project. These women (and now 3 men) were eager to get new supplies and refine some of their jewelry-making skills. Gina and Dorina were both able to share devotions from the book of James. One of Dorina’s highlights was visiting Moise in her new home, which was built using money saved from selling her jewelry. One of the team members, Grant Porter, is a videographer and he helped document Moise’s story. Dorina is looking forward to a short film he is developing about the project so we can share with supporters. We came home with our suitcases stuffed with jewelry – lots of beautiful new inventory for spring. (We are still looking for new markets to share these products. Please let us know if you have any connections to businesses in your area or would like to host an open house for Easter or Mother’s Day gifts.)

Savanette artisans learn new technique for making jewelry.
Gilmores welcome opportunities to share in February

Our family hit the ground running when we returned in February. Ericlee hosted the 3rd Annual Valentines Couples Challenge at the Crossfit gym where he works. Twenty one couples participated from all over California. This was another exciting opportunity to share about Christian Friendship Ministries and raise money for a new school playground.
Each year our sending church, The Bridge, in Fresno celebrates a “Missions Month” in February. This year the focus was on raising support for a project through Children’s Hope Chest in Swaziland. Our kids were eager to learn about the Swazi people and culture and see the comparisons to their Haitian experiences. We were also invited to various Sunday School classes, life groups, luncheons and other events to share about what God is doing through our organization in Haiti. We counted it up and we spoke 14 times throughout the month. Whew! We were so grateful to meet many new friends from the Bridge and Swaziland. We even gained some new supporters. The whole month was a huge shot in the arm for us as we move forward with God’s call on our lives to offer a hand up, not a handout to Haitians. We also celebrated our Giada's 4th birthday on February 16. She chose a party at a local trampoline arena with friends.

Our Giada Esther turned 4 on February 16. We celebrated at a local trampoline arena with friends.

Marching forward even through hard times

The last week has been difficult for us as we got word last Tuesday that our dear friend, Jim Healy, was killed on his bicycle. Jim was one of Ericlee’s junior high leaders and has remained an important mentor in our lives through the years. His wife, Janine, is also in Dorina’s Bible study group and has been a huge encouragement on the journey of being a mother. We continue to feel the weight of this tragedy within our community and mourn for Janine and her three children. We have hope knowing Jim is in heaven and many have accepted Christ as a result of his passing.

Ericlee & Dorina pose with dear friend Jim Healy, who was recently killed in a cycling accident.
We are beginning to make our summer plans for travel to Haiti. Ericlee is planning a trip in early June with one of our board members, Tanner Munro, and several friends. The men hope to make some improvements on the mission house and at the complex as we prepare for several teams going to Pignon this summer. Our whole family will be living in Haiti in July and August this year. Please continue to join us in prayer for God’s provision for our travels.

Because Christ's Love Compels Us,
Ericlee, Dorina, Meilani, Giada and Zayla

"Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this, to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world."~ James 1:27

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