2 Haiti 4 Him

The Heckman family serving the Lord in Haiti at Emmaus Biblical Seminary

Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Spring… and memories of our visit with West Park!

I know for SO many of you, the thought of Spring is WONDERFUL!

Knowing that we would be missing out on snow this past winter was a difficult reality for us as we moved to an island with endless summer…  NOT celebrating Christmas in 30 degree temperatures, NOT waking up to a snow day or two, NOT really having any excuse whatsoever to drink hot chocolate or wrap up in a blanket during the day… all of these things were a struggle for us...

BUT… with that being said…

after seeing ALL that you have endured over the past few months, the RIDICULOUSLY snowy winter you have experienced in the Northeast, we are so very grateful to be where we are!  We are praying for a QUICK change over to Spring for you all, and WARM temperatures in the coming weeks!

The second week of March was a super exciting week for us as we were BLESSED to have a team from West Park Church come to help us knock out some much needed projects around the campus!

Here are some pictures and words about our time together:

Each morning began with devotions at 6:45am, led by different members of the team throughout the week.  This was a highlight for me (and I'm sure for everyone else too!).  Listening to everyone share about their experiences and give insights into passages from their own lives… hearing about what God was saying to them throughout the week… praying together before we began each day's tasks… 
it was a sweet time!

Taking the team to one of our favorite churches was a really great experience as well.  The way that Haitian people worship is so refreshing and the message that Matt shared was powerful!  I know that all of us left church with something special that morning…

Right after church we took the team for a trip to the beach.  Sunday is our Sabbath here and we knew we would need to get this team away from the seminary to keep them from being tempted to work!  (The same goes for us missionaries too. When you live where you work, it is so easy to get caught up in doing work on our day of rest!) 

 It was a really nice day.  We love going to Dahloo Beach because the boat ride is almost as much of an adventure as the beach. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and get much needed rest before a crazy busy week!!!

On the day they arrived, we took the team around for a tour, and almost immediately after the tour was over, Nick and Bob were digging a hole in the yard to fix a leaky pipe!  Talk about jumping right in :)

Kelly and Kris were AMAZING!!!  They worked SO hard weeding the garden, painting our kitchen, living room, hallway and Ethan's bedroom, tirelessly painting the gate that Scott Hendrix welded in the HOT sun, helping with the ridiculous amount of dishes…

Kelly, Nick and Scott also helped Sam give antibiotics to our goats as well as helped castrate some of our goats…

YEAH… you heard that right!  Man did Kelly surprise me on that one…  

Kris and I preferred to take pictures, from a distance!  (Can I just say that having my best friend here was a blessing BEYOND words!)

I wish that I had taken more pictures of all the work that they accomplished while they were here!  

They finished the tile in the apartment (Scott and Phil- you rock!), and knocked out the tile in preparation to redo the men's bathroom in the dorm (Thanks beyond words Nick Hawkins! You worked SO stinkin' hard!!). Rob Skipper worked on the electric and the generator, doing most of which I can't even begin to explain because electric terms are SO beyond my understanding (WOW Rob- you were a HUGE blessing!), Scott Hendrix welded our gate and did lots of other welding in preparation for the porch to be poured for the apartment (Scott- you never cease to AMAZE me!!),  Bob Williams was an overall handy man! Doing plumbing work, his speciality, in pretty much every corner of the seminary- from the well pump and broken pipe in the ground, to the plumbing in the apartment, to helping Nick in the men's dorm to fixing my broken washer!  (I am overwhelmed with AWE at all that you accomplished and your laughter and joy through it all!).  Scott Burnley did a PHENOMENAL job at overseeing the team and all the projects, and making sure that everything was completed... working alongside of Phil (which Phil enjoyed SO much), being the brain power behind some new ventures, and everything in between!

Not only did the men and women who came on the team work HARD, but Leigha worked hard too (along with Ethan and Haylie)! Our kids got to take an early spring break from school, so they could help out the team for the week.  Ethan had the opportunity to work with the guys, helping to finish the countertops in the apartment and run errands getting supplies and tools and water, and Leigha and Haylie helped me with keeping the house clean and helped with food prep in the kitchen!  They did also have A LOT of fun together during the week.  Hearing their laughter and watching them play together was SO sweet.  MAN has Haylie missed her BFF!


If you can't tell by my use of CAPITAL letters- this team ROCKED!!!

Not only did we arrange projects for the team, but we also held a conversational English night so they could have a chance to meet some of the students that we have the privilege of working with each day here at Emmaus. (And for the students to get some practice in speaking English!)

And after the English class, the team convinced the guys to go next door to the chapel and play some music for them too!  The guys are SO talented and were excited to have the opportunity to share!

The relationships that were built in that short time were the biggest blessing for so many of those on the team.  And it was a blessing to my heart for the team to catch a glimpse of why we love working with the students here at EBS. 

THE hardest part of any team coming is saying goodbye.  That last day was bittersweet.  To have so many people that we love and care deeply about come and visit us here in Haiti was so very special for us.  Our hearts were renewed and refreshed by their company and the work they accomplished was an added bonus!  Many tears were shed that day (okay A LOT of them were mine!)… but they were a mix of sadness for saying goodbye and joy for the time we had to share with them!

We cannot thank West Park enough for joining us here and serving alongside of us in Haiti!!!


Monday, March 17, 2014

The Blessing & Necessity of Retreat

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement! 

The first week of March marked our missionary retreat in the Dominican Republic… and what a blessing that time was for us!  

Just this past week we had visitors from West Park Church, one of our supporting churches back in NJ, and the church that I grew up in!  I have so much I want to share about their visit… and will be posting very soon about their stay here with us :)

But first… retreat!

There is something special about getting away from home and work and retreating somewhere else for a few days.  As much as I try to set aside time to rest and Sabbath, it is SO incredibly difficult to do that when your home is your workplace!  

The trip to the DR is a bit of a drive (6 hours of driving, not including stops!), and can be quite an ordeal at the border (you never know when your passport might get held up on one side and you get stuck on a bridge in between two countries… yeah. that happened!), but despite the little hiccups we had, it truly provided a time of rest and relaxation for our family AND a great time with our wonderful OMS family (in Haiti and the DR!)

Here are a few pictures of our retreat!

Okay… so I know what you're thinking.  Seriously Emily?  Your first pictures of retreat are these?  But I must say… this trip was the first time I have seen road signs, lines on pavement, organized traffic patterns, and WORKING traffic lights in 6 months!  It was pretty exciting! :) 

Each day we gathered together for morning and evening sessions with Craig and Deb Torrell.  They graciously came to spend a week with us, helping us to understand the importance of rest and time with our Father.  It was truly a blessing to be told to slow down… sometimes we need to hear that from someone else in order to let it sink in!

The beauty of the Domincan truly helped me to bask in God's Presence!  The view from where we stayed was absolutely breath-taking!

One morning I took a contemplative walk and was SO overwhelmed with the beauty of His Creation I could do nothing but sit and worship.  What a sweet time that was for me!

Meals together each day, with our OMS gang, was lots of fun too!  Fellowship and taking time to sit and eat and talk together is a beautiful expression of God's heart for His church.   (And the food was REALLY good too!!)

The ocean provided lots of excitement for kids and adults too!  I am STILL finding sand in my ears!!!

Another adventure was our visit to the local grocery store…  I haven't seen one of THESE in over 6 months either!  At first I thought it would be a super exciting time, but to be honest, I felt totally overwhelmed.  The variety and quantity of things surrounding me and my desire to limit my spending to a minimum created quite a difficult time!!!  Imagine only going to a grocery store like this twice a year… and trying to figure out what you might "need"!  I finally had to stop and breathe and commit to sticking to my list and not getting caught up in it all!

In the end it was nice picking up a few items that we can't get here in Haiti- things like cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream, … and that trip to the grocery store truly helped me to think about what my "needs" and my "wants" really are…  I actually enjoyed putting a few things back on the shelf or saying no to some things and thinking about how much more I would enjoy them when I go back to the states this summer!  What a good lesson that was for me :)

Even getting stuck between borders on the way home provided a great time of getting to know Ryan and Cheyenne better… when you are THAT close for 6 hours though… its inevitable!  :)

All in all, retreat was AMAZING for our family!  I am thankful for time away, to reflect and to rest.  We ALL need time to retreat… even if its just a day trip to a favorite spot (at home in NJ, that spot for me is Delanco Camp!)… a time to take in the beauty of God's creation, to spend time alone with God, and to just be still.

As hard as that is for me… I know how much I truly need it.  To "be still and know" that He is God.

When will you retreat?  Where will you go- even if its just for a day, or an afternoon? 

Take time to spend with the Father.  HE is the only One who can truly fill you up!!!