I love dark chocolate. It’s just the right combination of rich chocolate flavor, without being too sweet. Bittersweet chocolate, on the other hand, is just a tad too harsh to my tongue, and in my opinion, is only good when mixed with something sweet.

I’ve been back in Haiti for just over a week, after spending a week in the States. Coming and going between these two countries is definitely a bittersweet experience. The glaring differences are a bit harsh – but thankfully, spending time with friends and family was sweet enough to offset the conflict in my heart.

My week of being spoiled began with being met at the airport by the boys, my mom, and Patsy and Jerry. After being presented with flowers, I was whisked away to Rice Cooker, and was treated to my favorite chicken with green vegetables and an egg roll.  And then I must admit I requested a quick trip to the DQ to pick up a bag of Dilly Bars.

The week in the States flew by in a whirlwind of chocolate sodas, cherries, strawberries, sourdough bread, mushroom pizza, steak, strawberry-rhubarb pie, and Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream.  I got a big kick out of driving. Hopping in the car and going wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, with actual traffic rules, seemed like a novelty. And then there were the superstores…Wal-mart, Target, and Meijer. To be honest, I walked into those stores open-mouthed like a seven year old at Disney World. Huge plastic golden corn-cobs hanging from the ceiling, twenty check-out lanes, fifty different types of cereal.  Talk about overwhelmed.

Everything seemed so clean and green and nice and easy. And while I loved every minute of being spoiled in the States, images from Haiti kept creeping into my mind’s eye. I don’t ever want to take my clean, green, nice and easy lifestyle in the States for granted as I did before we started this journey.

It was a bittersweet trip. I loved every bit of fellowship, every dinner with friends and family, every night with my mom and Patsy and Jerry, every lunch with girlfriends, and worship with church families. It’s impossible to try to squeeze in five months of relationship into a short burst of time and so hard to say goodbyes again. But, each minute was sweet and worth the hard farewells…it turned out to be just the right mixture to keep me close to the Lord.

 
 
It is officially the rainy season here in Haiti.  It has rained almost every night for the past three weeks.  It’s usually hot and humid during the day and rains at night.  The past few days, it has been overcast and rained during the day.  The good thing about days like this is it isn’t as hot.  The rainy season has made everything so green around here.  It looks so different compared to the dry season.  The bad thing about the rainy season is the mosquitoes have arrived in force.  You cannot walk anywhere without getting attacked. 

We are very thankful for our malaria medicine, even though every week we all have a night or two of crazy dreams. One of Amy’s favorite past times is spraying them in our home with a lavender and citrus oil. She usually spends at least 30 minutes every night killing the pests with her spray bottle – and that’s inside our house. Imagine how bad the mosquitoes are for those in tents and for those in huts without windows or doors….and what a health hazard the mosquitoes pose.

Nehemiah Vision Ministries has been blessed with a Curtis Dynafog machine that we use to fog for mosquitoes.  The pemetherin compound used in the machine is very effecting in killing the mosquitoes, but not dangerous for people.  You can fog an area and it will be free of the tyrants for a couple of days.  We fog the school buildings before classes start and the church building before worship on Sunday’s. 

Tonight I went into the village of Chambrun and fogged the Nehemiah Children’s Home.  The mosquitoes were unbelievable!  I ended up spending about a half an hour fogging different areas of the village.  As I was walking, I would go through clouds of them and you could feel them hitting you in the head as you past.  I had a crowd of about a hundred people walking with me and wanting me to fog their area. 

It reminds me of a Haitian proverb.  “A koz pwa, ti woche goute gres.”  It translates: because of the beans, the little rock gets to taste the grease. When you buy beans, sometimes you might find a little rock or two. After they harvest the beans, they lay them out to dry.  When they gather them up a few little rocks get picked up too.  The rock only gets to “taste” the grease because of the beans.  Because of the Children’s Home, many Chambrun residents got some benefit – a night or two of relief from the mosquitoes. Actually, because of Jesus, we all get a “taste” of salvation.

The chemical we use in the fogger is very expensive. When we purchase it in Haiti, it is $500.00 for five gallons.  We can buy it in the States for $255.00 for five gallons and then we have to pay about $100 in air-freight and another $50.00 or so in duty.  We are still checking with our air-freight company to make sure they ship it for us. 

We’d like to get more of the chemical and use it as part of our evangelism efforts. Loving others by killing bugs. Whatever it takes. If you’d like to support NVM’s mosquito ministry, please let us know!

 
 
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Yesterday we held day two of our Paper Bead Clinic. Nineteen women came to work with their hands and to try to learn a new skill...to provide for their families. You would think that sitting down under a tent cutting and pasting cardboard might be relaxing. But, for many of these women, it's a morning of frustrations. Some of them can't find their bag of supplies because they can't recognize their name on it. Many of these women do not know how to use scissors....they are trying to learn how to cut along a line to make neatly cut triangles. (And most of our scissors are child-sized, which are not ideal.)  Most of them have never used a ruler to measure with, so we resorted to creating triangle templates for them to trace...but even holding a pen to trace these triangles is a new and frustrating thing to learn. Once they get some triangles cut, they must learn how to roll these triangles around a toothpick with glue. There were many scrunched, scowling foreheads and tongues licking at lips.

Oh, the skills and education we take for granted.

After a frustrating morning, these ladies wanted to take their supply bags home with them so they could work at home until our next clinic on Monday. When I think about the lengths they are going to do seize this opportunity, I am humbled. They walk to get here. Many of them must find childcare. And many of them are intimidated by scissors and pens and rulers and this white American who makes it look so easy. They were definitely out of their comfort zone.

I am humbled. Through a homeschooling lesson, a daily devotional, and also a Beth Moore DVD, God has put Matthew 25:14 in front of me... 14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.    19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

   21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

And for the day of the clinic, God led me to share Proverbs 31 with the ladies... encouraging women to work with their hands, to provide for their families, to not let their lamps go out at night, to be women who feared the Lord. Right back at me, right, Lord!?

How often to do put myself out of my comfort zone or go out of my way to learn a new skill or even use the talents and gifts God has given me? So often it's so easy to sit back and not tackle a project because it would tax me a little. God is definitely trying to make a point. It would be easy to think that just because I'm sitting here in Haiti that I've already done my duty to get out of my comfort zone. Or that because this paper bead jewelry initiative is launching, that I've used my talents enough. But, God keeps pushing and encouraging me to not sit back and check out. I'm not necessarily saying I need to do more... but that I need to be obedient when I am prompted - and not bury my head under the covers or in a book. I see so many places where I drag my feet and make myself unavailable to Him. Imagine that. I make myself unavailable to my Lord and Savior...as if my life is really MY life. 

And so what if I don't cut straight or can't find my name or that when I try something new that my forehead gets all scrunched up and I look dorky with my tongue swishing around my lips.... God just wants me to honor him with the work of my hands and to be faithful with what He has given me.



 
Plagues 05/08/2011
 
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For those of you who love to hear about some of the more interesting aspects of living here in Haiti, I've begun a list of the plagues we've encountered so far...

1. Little green frogs who hopped across our tent and jumped out at me in the shower
2. MOSQUITOES who loved Jacob the best.
3. Attack kittens who liked to tent-surf at night.
4. Cockroaches in the new house. Big ones.
5. Golf-ball sized spiders...in our bedrooms and our showers.
6. Ants. Everywhere the kids leave crumbs...which is everywhere. Biting ants that love Jay.
7. A big swarm of bees that landed in a nearby tree....our local Haitian bee-whisperer thought they were in the wrong position to try to move them...tried to burn them out...the bees returned...then flew away in their own good time.
8. Crickets. At 4am. In my bedroom. This morning I killed the big fat juicy one that kept me up last night.
9. And now that the rains have begun, we're back to MOSQUITOES....although Pierre tried out his new mosquito fogger last night and we're hoping for the best.


 
 
Fedlaine and I were alone on campus today. Jay and the older three kids are currently living it up in the States. The other Americans on campus took off for the beach today, but I am just getting over a cold, so I decided to stay put. We had a great day... we slept in and cuddled and watched a movie in our jammies. I got some work done on the English curriculum I've been working on and we had a water-gun fight and a  tea party with her dolls. I miss my other three kiddos, but I'm enjoying this special one-on-one time with my newest daughter. Tomorrow, to celebrate Mother's Day we're going to paint each others' toenails...and she will probably want to do my hair. Ha!

Next week we're going to hold two paper bead making clinics for 20 women in the community. Two of the NVM kitchen workers who have been making jewelry will actually do the training, while I will be there as an extra set of hands. To date, we have sold almost $1,500 worth of jewelry and we are working on new techniques. For every item sold, the woman who makes it gets 20%, 30% goes to supplies, 30% goes to a scholarship fund for students to go on to a high school, and 20% goes to the NVM Church. Please pray for wisdom for moving ahead with this project and that we would touch many women with the love of Christ and give them hope for their future.

As I mentioned before, I am currently working on an English curriculum. We found a student book, which I am breaking down into lessons and writing lesson plans. Because I am busy being a mom and teacher and helping manage the kitchen, I have been reticent to take on teaching a class alone. We have an intern coming in a few weeks who I will team with and who will do the bulk of the teaching of a 10 week class that meets 4 days a week. In addition to conversational vocabulary, I hope to teach our class memory verses in English. Please pray for this intern and I to work well together and to teach not only English, but a love for the Word of God.


 
Easter in Haiti 04/24/2011
 
Easter in Haiti is like most days here, always an adventure and not quite what you expect.  We started the day with a Sunrise Service.  It was supposed to start at 6:00 am, but hardly anyone was there.  So our service didn’t start until after 7:00.  The service was enjoyable and we had a packed house.

After worship we planned on having a nice turkey dinner.  The plan was to put the turkey in around 11:00 and have lunch at 2:00.  About the time we were going to start the turkey, our new generator died.  After a few minutes of diagnostics, Pastor Pierre and I decided that we were having a fuel problem.   We must have had some dirt or something in the fuel.  We could get it to run if we kept pumping the fuel primer.  We drained the water separator and it looked fine.  Next we changed the fuel filter with an extra one we had for the Oliver 1855 tractor.  It still wouldn’t run so we changed the fuel separator.  We didn’t have a new one so pastor went to town to see if he could find one.  When he came back we decided to wash the old filter.  After about four and half hours, we finally got the generator going again. 

In the meantime, there was an accident down the road and Aaron Elliott, Clerice our translator, and Aubree, one of the nurses went to stabilize a severely wounded man and then transport him to the hospital.

Somehow, in the midst of all this, we managed to hide Easter presents under the kids' pillows, do a candy hunt in our house, and do an outside egg hunt with the hard-boiled eggs we colored yesterday. We even managed to get naps in, despite the lack of air conditioning....Jay slept on the floor because it was cooler.

Our stomachs are now pleasantly full from our turkey, sweet potato casserole, corn, and rolls.

 
 
Today Fedlaine's biological parents officially relinquished their rights and also signed their wishes for us to adopt her. We officially signed that we wish to adopt her. The Haitian IBESR...paperwork and a Presidential Waiver come next. We also have to update our home study when we go back to the States in May and file more paperwork.  Even though there is more red tape ahead, today was a huge hurdle. It was also a very strange experience.

After both parents finally showed up this morning, we all pile into the same truck. I sat in the back with Fedlaine's biological parents for the 45 minute ride. Everyone was all smiles, but we knew that the mom and dad do NOT get along - very awkward. Strange - today was one day I was thankful for the language barrier...I don't know what I would have said to them anyway.

When we arrived at the courthouse- the local tribunal, we were ushered into a small back room. On the desk was a school composition notebook with a little girl on the cover. I was almost too busy praying to notice, though, because the mom and dad forgot to bring their ID's and we weren't sure if we'd have to come back. After some discussion, the notebook is opened to a page full of writing. The mom tries to sign her name, but doesn't know how- almost can't even hold the pen. The dad tries to sign his name, but puts too many letters in it. In the end, they both have to make their "mark" with their fingerprint instead. Then, we signed our names to this little notebook. Only after we get outside did we even know what we were signing. Strange - official adoption paperwork in a school composition book...."signed" by parents who couldn't write.

On the long, bumpy ride home, I was almost in shock at what had just occurred. Two people signed over the rights to care for and love a beautiful, smart little girl...a treasure.  Why were they all smiles? Were they sad inside? Or, as Pierre seems to think, are they excited about the future possibilities of Fedlaine coming back to help them when she grows up? If they had had the same opportunities as Jay and I have had - loving families, education, material wealth- would they have wanted to keep her? I can't fathom their thoughts and feelings. I pray that Jesus walks with them and that they would turn to Him - I'm so thankful that He has a plan for this strange world.

 
Possessions 04/17/2011
 
It was a very stretching week last week. One of the really good things about those stretching weeks it that I tend to be more desperate in my seeking God. And He's been so good in revealing Himself to me in new ways. I love it when He speaks the same message to me in different circumstances.

We've been working through The Inheritance DVD series by Beth Moore. The thought that has stayed with me since last week is that so often we try to possess the things that don't really belong to us and we fail to possess the riches that God intends for us to have and to keep.

I was sitting in a staff meeting early last week in which Pierre was painting a vision for the Haitian staff here on campus. He was explaining some of the plans and goals NVM has for the campus. During question time, one of the Haitian workers asked why NVM had U.S. mission teams coming down and doing work on campus when Pierre could be hiring Haitian workers and providing more local jobs. Pierre did a good job in answering that the jobs where the local workers excel are being given to local workers...masonry, welding, etc, and that NVM brings in U.S. "experts" who bring needed expertise and skills.

Then, Aaron Elliott asked to speak, since he is in charge of teams. He communicated to the Haitian staff that in truth, while many Americans are very rich in material goods, many Haitians are very rich in faith - they have to be. So many Haitians exhibit a unique joy in the Lord because they depend on Him moment by moment. And it is good for the kingdom for us to share our riches....both materially and spiritually. The intermingling of U.S. and Haitian riches is a very rich exchange.

So God's been talking to me about what I do and do not possess. I do not possess stuff. It's all God's... unless I let it possess me. I do not possess my kids or my husband. They have their own journey with the Lord - one I have no control over. Even if our adoption for Fedlaine goes smoothly and all the paperwork gets done...she'll never really be mine.  I don't even possess my burdens. God has asked that I cast my burdens on Him.

I do possess the riches of the Word of God. Do I take those riches on a daily basis? God has given me the possessions of love and faith to share with those around me. Do you notice that the possessions I'm supposed to be taking hold of are meant to be shared? God has given me a field of ministry. Am I ministering to its very edges? God has given me a rich inheritance...I pray that I will be strong and courageous enough to reach out and possess it, like Joshua reached out to possess the promised land.


 
 
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It’s been a while since I’ve given you an update, so let me bring you up to speed.   I’ve been really busy!  Trying to keep up with the all the teams and their needs is hard but rewarding. 

On Tuesday, I got to fly up to Cap Hatien with Pastor Pierre.  We had some parts that we needed ASAP that were flown it from the States.  If we brought the parts into Port Au Prince we would have to pay a higher tariff and they may be held up in customs.  Since they came into Cap, we cleared them about ten minutes and were able to negotiate the rate we paid.  We rented a small plane.  To fly commercial would have been $250.00 and to bring the parts back would have been another $250.00.  Esperandieu rented a plane for $375.00 and they said he could bring me with him.  As we flew up, we went by a Citadel that is built on top of a mountain.  It has walls that are 130 feet high.  It is truly amazing to see what the Haitians built in the early 1800’s. 

The family made quick trip to the Dominican Republic on Wednesday as well.   We can only stay in Haiti for 90 days without a visa.  We made about a "45 minute drive" to the border, crossed it, turned around and came back.  The boys were glad to be able to say that they’ve been to another country now. (Clarification from Amy...this trip took a total of 5 hours round trip...Jay wasn't sitting in the back with the boys.)

A couple of weeks ago Esperandieu and I picked up the tractor from the port.  I drove the 15 miles back to Chambrun through rush hour traffic.  You should have seen the looks I got.  It was as if they’d never seen a white guy driving an Oliver 1855 in downtown Port Au Prince before!  I also got to put the Oliver 1855 to work this week.  (Clarification from Jay: It’s not a John Deere as Amy referred to it last week.)  We had a couple of containers that we needed to move.  I hooked the 1855 up to them and lifted the front of the container up about a foot with the 3 point hitch.  I was able to pull the container about 500 feet before it started to dig into the soft ground.  The front tires came about three feet off the ground.  I decided I’d better try something different before I tore something up.  We got the backhoe and pushed while pulling with the tractor.  It worked very well and we safely got the two containers moved.

We had a huge answer to prayer on Wednesday.  Vineyard Mercy Response and GAiN USA have been building a team complex for here in Chambrun.  We have everything we need but the generator.  We’ve been praying and trying to raise the money, about $50,000, to finish the project.  Our big dedication of the complex is Monday and we have no generator.  Wednesday, a church agreed to give us the money we needed for the generator.  So Thursday,  we went and picked one out and they delivered it Friday night.  Lord willing, everything will be completed and working by Monday.

Saturday Morning Update from Amy: I'm just now posting Jay's update. As of this morning, the generator is up and running. Hot showers tonight! We ate our first meal in our new kitchen last night and today are working on moving everything from the old kitchen to the new kitchen. There is lots to organize! (Not my strongest gift...wishing for my organized friends right about now!) Jay is also putting up fence and I think there are tons of trees to plant. I went to the grocery yesterday with Dianne and found some foam water squirt sticks for the kids to play with. Ahhh...they've been very busy, running around campus in swimsuits, carrying buckets of water and squirting each other. I think we'll all sleep good tonight...


 
 
So yesterday I made a pretty outrageous cultural mistake with my newest daughter. Fedlaine was up to mischief...so to tease her I pointed to my eye and tried to tell her in Creole that I was going to keep my eye on her. So in Creole, it translated I am putting my eye on you. Then I pointed at my eyes with the first two fingers on my hand and then pointed at her eyes with those same two fingers and I kept saying, "I am watching you. I see you."

Well. She began screaming in utter terror and hid behind Anna, yelling, "Zombie! Zombie!" We finally calmed her down after several minutes.

At dinner when I told Pierre what I did, his eyes got big and he said that Fedlaine would have heard that zombies will pluck out their eyes and put them on/in your eyes. Then, apparently, zombies also do the "I am watching you. I see you"- thing that I did with my two fingers, pointing at my eyes and then her eyes.

Oops. I only had to discipline one of my boys once for trying to scare Fedlaine again with zombie signs yesterday...they have been warned and threatened...hopefully they will obey.


 

    Jay and Amy Shultz

    We have been married for 19 years and have three, almost four children. (We have one on the way from Haiti)

    Jay loves tractors and making pies and is an infamous teaser.

    Amy loves reading and teaching and is an infamous choco-holic.
    She also makes MUCH better pies than Jay!   (Jeremiah likes daddy's pies better!!!)

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