Dear Friends and Family,
We want to take this opportunity to say a huge “thank you” to all of you who supported us through your prayers and donations to help make our recent Haiti mission trip a reality. We had been praying for years for the right opportunity to return to Haiti and this trip revealed that God’s timing was perfect. What we experienced and what God revealed to us during our short week in Haiti was nothing short of a miracle and has changed our lives forever. We share with you not so much what tasks we did while there (though the painting, roof-tarring, digging of septic holes, sorting supplies, and creative plumbing helped the staff at Heartline Ministries focus on ministry and not maintenance), but on what we learned and how God opened our eyes through our experience.
Twelve of us from Shadle Park Presbyterian Church and eighteen others who joined us from around North America were deeply impacted by the commitment of the Heartline staff to the Haitian people and their deeply grounded faith in Jesus Christ. These individuals are truly the hands and feet of Christ in Haiti. John and Beth McHoul, the founders of Heartline, are Americans from Boston who have chosen to live and serve God in Haiti for 23 years and consider it their home. They and their committed staff, including both Americans and Haitians, have such a deep love for the Haitian people and the land, sowing and watering the rocky ground of Haiti with love and patience, knowing the harvest comes in small increments over long periods of time. Although they are deeply committed to Haiti, what impresses us even more is their love for the church worldwide as they pray for the persecuted church and the harvest of believers every day. It would be easy to get swallowed up in the challenges of ministering to broken lives in a very broken society, but they were constantly reminding us to pray for others beyond themselves and their ministry.
Ayiti, which means “land of high mountains”, is known as the “land of unlimited impossibilities”. There is a Haitian proverb which says, “beyond mountains there are mountains”, meaning behind problems there are more problems. We witnessed this first-hand as Haiti has so little infrastructure and a government that does not seem to care about or have the means to support its’ people, and so the daily struggle to survive is paramount for the average Haitian. John McHoul would remind us each day in our devotion & prayer time that we must “lose sight to gain vision” and “God is in the wait”. You cannot live in Haiti if you cannot see what can be rather than what is, praying for patience and waiting for God’s perfect timing - a good reminder for all of us when we endure difficult times & challenges. Our pastor, Steve back at home, challenged us before we left to look for God-sightings every day and so we worked on changing our vision and asking God to show us through His eyes what can be in this land of unlimited impossibilities and in our own lives.
As we went about our tasks each day, we were able to witness how Heartline is empowering Haitians through their Maternity Center, Women’s Center, Haitian Creations sewing and beading program, Men’s Bakery discipleship program, and school sponsorship program for children from Cite Soleil, poorest and largest slum in the Western Hemisphere. They have recently purchased 10 acres of property on which they will be able to expand their ministry. (Please join with us in praying that they can purchase an additional 5 acres on the back of the property to build an expanded maternity center and possibly housing. Land is very expensive in Haiti and the current owner wants a high price). They need this property so that mothers & fathers can have hope for a future by bettering themselves and their living conditions and their children can grow & thrive in the land of unlimited impossibilities. An infrastructure is created one family at a time and Haiti is transformed. The impossible becomes possible.
Our own family experienced the impossible becoming possible through the miracle of Stanley’s birth mother Elianie being found and reunited with Stanley. We had lost contact with Elianie shortly after adopting Stanley when he was 7, and for 10 years have been searching for her. We met many dead ends and were told finding her would be like finding a needle in a haystack. Port au Prince is a city of 2 million and the slum where she lived has upwards of 250,000 people at any given time. Although our intent for going on this trip was not solely to look for Stanley’s birth family, it was in the forefront of our minds now that we were actually going to be in Haiti and weighed heavy on Stanley’s heart. When Stanley prayed out loud during devotion time that his mother would be found, John McHoul and his Haitian assistant Junior told us they would make it a priority to find her. Junior said, “God will find her if she is supposed to be found.” Within two days, they miraculously had located her (which involved hiring gang members who control Cite Soleil slum) and Stanley’s dream of being reunited with his Haitian family became a reality as they brought Elianie to see us the next day. Words cannot describe the moment of this reunion as Elianie walked into the room, looked at her muscular 180 pound grown son (who when she last saw him was a 38 pound 7 year old), and almost collapsed, overcome with emotion. Stanley took one look at her and said “my mom”, a moment forever etched in our minds. We recognized Elianie immediately and no DNA test was needed as their two faces are almost identical and there is no doubt they are mother and son. After this emotional reunion, our last 48 hours in Haiti were spent assessing his mother’s needs, working with Heartline to better her living situation and meeting his younger siblings - two brothers (Jean Marc (14) and Mark Evans (11) who were 4 and 2 when we last saw them), 2 sisters Nehemie (9) and Geralda (3), and another brother Jeraldson (7) who lives with the grandfather. In our family, Stanley is the youngest, but in his Haitian family he is now the eldest of 6!
It was not easy leaving Haiti so soon after this joyful and emotional reunion and we are still processing all that occurred, but we are thrilled that Stanley is now connected to his Haitian family. The staff at Heartline is committed to helping Elianie find better housing. She & her children currently live with an aunt in a one room house and she sells charcoal for pennies a day as her only source of income. They will also help with medical needs (mostly nutritional deficiencies), schooling for the children, and hopefully get her into the Haitian Creations beading and sewing program which will provide an income for her through sales of the products in the US and Haiti of which I (Kirsten) am now a representative. We have established an account through Heartline to support her in her efforts to improve her life. In the land of unlimited impossibilities, God made the possible happen!
We wish we could sit down with each one of you and share more of how God is working in Haiti and in our lives. There is so much more we learned and experienced our short time there and we see this as the beginning of a new chapter of our lives that involves being deeply involved and connected to Stanley’s family and Heartline. We urge you to take a look at Heartline Ministries’ websites (www.heartlineministries.org, www.haitiancreations.com) to get a more complete picture of the impact they are having in Haiti.
Thank you for all of your support and prayers,
Steve, Kristen and Stanley Renz
“With God, ALL things are possible”