Thursday, August 01, 2013

July Gilmore Gazette: Gilmores host teams, see God work in Haiti

Bonswa Family & Friends,

We greet you from Haiti! July has been a month full of activity. We kicked off our month with an awesome time at the Yaquinto Family Reunion (Dorina’s mom’s side) in Dallas. The reunion offered us some much-needed quality time together as a family and connecting with cousins who live across the United States.

Ericlee greets some of the elders in the recently-renovated Pignon church on our first Sunday in Haiti.

When we arrived in Haiti on July 8, we hit the ground running. Ericlee and Peter were able to connect right away and cover a lot of topics, including the needs of the ministry and casting vision for the future. It’s amazing what the last two years of prayer and investment have done for their relationship and how the two love to share ideas. Dorina went to work meeting with the two groups for The Haitian Bead Project. She met some challenges with the Pignon group as she discovered some dissension among members of the group but we are already witnessing reconciliation there. Dorina continues to meet twice a week with the Savanette group and a new small group of women working in Pignon.

Dorina poses with Odette from the Pignon group of The Haitian Bead Project. Odette just joined the group in January and is perfecting her jewelry-making skills

Our first team arrived on July 10, including Doug and Brenda Round, their three daughters, along with Debbi Ball, Bev and Kelly Damm from Fresno. The team met up in Miami and then flew on to Haiti. Our week kicked off with a field trip to hike to Haiti's historical landmark, the Citadelle, and then on to Cormier Plage, one of the most beautiful beaches in Cap Haitien just a few hours north of where we live. This was a fun way to bond with the team and the orphanage kids. We had all kinds of awkward and funny moments as to be expected on a trip with 11 adults and 24 kids, many of whom do not speak the same language! Just assigning the kids to their rooms with our American chaperones and ordering meals was a huge ordeal. Some of the most memorable moments included Debbi finding a frog in her shower and, of course, seeing the kids delight in ocean play. For most of these mountain kids, this was only their second trip to the ocean.

The Gilmores pose with the kids in the Bridge Christian Children's Home in Pignon, Haiti as they show off their "Dress a Girl" handmade dresses and snazzy new polos.

On Monday, we began our Summer School for the children.  Our team took turns teaching various classes: starting the day with Physical Education led by Ericlee, then Dorina reading from The Jesus Storybook in Kreyol and sharing a Bible lesson, followed by Doug teaching math skills, then Bev teaching an English class and Debbi engaging the kids in Geography, and finally, concluding the day with Arts & Crafts led by Brenda. Our team offered the kids enrichment and one-on-one attention they do not receive in their normal school setting. This was also a great way to connect with the kids one on one and get to know their personalities.

Ericlee, Dorina, Meilani, Giada & Zayla pose at Le Cormier Beach outside Cap Haitien on a recent trip with kids from the orphanage and a visiting team.

Last week a group from our home church, The Bridge, traveled to Haiti to put on a Vacation Bible School program in St. Raphael.  It’s been several years since we hosted VBS there.  Our team chose to teach the kids about the “Armor of God” from Ephesians 6. The team did encounter some interesting challenges along the way. After reading the book, WHEN HELPING HURTS during training, they were challenged to think through how they could partner with the indigenous church in St. Raphael and empower the leaders rather than taking over the whole program. This was hard to do at first because there were few leaders and translators to work with, but as the week progressed more leaders from the church got involved teaching the Bible story, leading the games and crafts. Our team had the blessing of also developing relationships with the kids in the Kay Cadence orphanage, which is adjacent to the church. All of the orphans eagerly participated in the VBS and were quite clearly many of the leaders in the groups.

Gilmores pose with the Rounds, Damms and Debbi Ball from California outside the Bell Mission House in Pignon, Haiti.

Three team members from The Bridge – Kim McCurry, Dana Johnson and Paula Peterson – stayed on this week to help put on a retreat for the women of the Haitian Bead Project. We decided to take our Savanette group this year, which included 17 artisans, 6 cooks, our family of 5 and team of 3. We piled the ladies into the back of our pickup truck and headed for Camp de la Grace in Fontaine, owned by Caleb & Debbie Lucien and Hosean Ministries. We stayed at the camp Monday through Wednesday morning. The goal was to provide a place for the women to relax, build friendships and celebrate the way God has prospered The Haitian Bead Project in the last few years.

Modeline shows her competitive side during the Gift Exchange Stealing game during The Haitian Bead Project retreat.

The retreat far exceeded our expectations! The women jumped right into the activities. They played Frisbee, hiked, danced, painted nails, did hand massages, made art projects, sang, prayed, studied the Bible, brainstormed new products for the future, ate their fill and didn’t have to cook or do laundry or watch kids. Dorina found great joy in sharing Bible lessons with them on the topics: “You are Beautiful” and “God Created you an Artist.” Kim and Paula also shared their personal testimonies with the group. The retreat concluded this morning with the Haitian women singing a farewell blessing and trying out new English phrases like “I will remember you” and “I love you, my friend.” We were sad say goodbye after such a mountaintop experience.

Clauvintz, Adeck, Lukendy and Jemps from the Kay Cadence orphanage participated in the recent VBS program at their church.

As we head into August, we are welcoming three friends from The Well Church in Fresno to help speak at our Youth Conference this weekend and Men’s Conference next week. We ask for your prayers over their travels and many bags. They are transporting 100 Bibles from California along with many other supplies for the conferences. We return to Fresno on August 17. Please pray for our final weeks here and our travels home with our three girls. Thank you once again for being a vital part of our team!

If there's a baby in sight, our Meilani will be the first in line to hold her. She and Zayla pose here with a new baby friend in St. Raphael.

Saying Yes to God,

Ericlee, Dorina, Meilani, Giada and Zayla

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