2 Haiti 4 Him

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

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Trip to Port-au-Prince

So this past Sunday, the Ayars, Ethan and I all traveled by car to Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital (the Ayars kindly invited us to tag along)! 

It was a gorgeous drive, mostly mountain after glorious mountain, but for a little while we drove along the turquoise ocean!

Here three charcoal ladies sit wearing all black clothing so they don't stain their clothes.

There was so much art-work and graffiti throughout Port.

Do you see the blob at the end of the road? Those are little houses stretching across the mountain in both directions.

Mountain-top view of Port. It is SO much bigger than Cap-Haitian!

We got high enough in the clouds that this rose was able to grow (because it was a LOT cooler up there).

Here we are standing on one mountain looking at the other, and this looming cloud just hovered precariously, almost teasing us.

At the Baptist Haiti Mission, they had a cute little flower shop where I bought some plants to take back to Dad! (If you don't know him, he's CRAZY about plants!)

Here is the ONLY place you will find a guardrail, in the middle of nowhere.

As our van climbed higher and higher we started to enter a pine forest! (You can't find them anywhere else in Haiti.)

Then we arrived at a cozy little place called "the Lodge" where there were beautiful can't-be-found-in-Cap-flowers everywhere!

This would have made my dreams come true if I saw this when I was little. (Pink AND purple on the same flower?!?!)

After a very relaxing hour at the Lodge we traveled back to Greg and Cathy Benson's house, who graciously let us stay with them! (Stacey is really close with them, since they were the ones she interned with when she first came to Haiti.) On the ride back, I saw this cute little road-side market.

This is probably my favorite picture.

Mountain after mountain after mountain....

Since Port is the capital, it is (1) a lot more patriotic, and (2) it's more modern then Cap, which means there were tons of Walmart-like stores. That of course made Sofie believe we were NOT in Haiti. On the ride back home she kept asking, "Are we in Haiti yet?". What a cutie.

We had a great time in Port, but I am thankful to be home again!

Thank you for reading this blog!

Friday, May 13, 2016

The End of a Great School Year

So... the end of our school year at Emmaus has arrived. 
Wow. What A year. So much accomplished. So many relationships built. 
Dozens and dozens of visitors passing through here, it feels like September was yesterday. 

The solar project is happening, actually happening. We've talked about wanting a solar system for years. I simply can't believe that it is almost finished.

Due to the hard work of our awesome team, the support of all of you, and our gracious Father, we have done so much this year.

I love getting to walk out here everyday and see how much God has blessed us. 
How much God has been blessing this seminary, and it's work.

I have enjoyed life with our wonderful students. Enjoyed their conversations, enjoyed their advice, and enjoyed being part of the Emmaus family with them. Our Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ, and our partners in ministry.

This here is the baby of one of our graduates from last year, who married a current student of ours. He is absolutely adorable. 

Graduation. Some people say winter is the most wonderful time of the year, but in my opinion, its definitely graduation. Everyone is smiling and laughing (even if we are all drenched in sweat and half suffocating in our fancy dresses and suits). During the service there are choirs and a marching band, beautiful songs lead by our students, an encouraging message by one of our professors or alumni, the Valedictorian of the class giving a speech (which includes him/her telling jokes and saying what they love about their fellow classmates), and praying over the students.

(And then, of course, they're are these fun moments in between...)

I loved hearing our students singing,
"Prends, o Jesus, prends ma vie,
 Elle est tout a Toi!
Et dans ta grace infinie,
Du mal garde-moi!"
The song is basically saying, "Jesus, my life is in your hands. By your grace keep me from evil."
It's a lot prettier in  French, but you get the idea :)

Here are our Port-de-Paix guys with their diplomas. I didn't have the chance to get to know these guys well because they didn't live on campus and only came for intensive courses. But I could tell by the few conversations I've had with them that they are joy-filled Christ-like men, and it was a pleasure to get to see them on this special day.

The craziest part comes right after the service finishes. Everyone practically tramples each other, hugging, hand-shaking, taking millions of pictures, all together in one sweaty mass. 

All our staff members are so proud to have us meet their spouses or fianc├ęs, and take pictures of them too :) (Don't you love our guys' silver and red suits?!)

Merlande Raymond, one of the two female graduates and me...

Then, of course, there is the after party at the seminary. Hundreds of happy people with their families, eating our Haitian food made by our splendid kitchen staff. My favorite part was getting to see my closest friends of the students, laughing and joking together like we were never apart. They left last Friday since it was the last day of class, but came back today for graduation. Maybe to you a week apart from them seems like nothing. But after spending almost every day of my life with them since Christmas break, a week seems like forever. I have literally been counting down the days until this momentous day.  

Now I know that I might have made life in Haiti sound absolutely perfect, and that life at Emmaus is a care-free vacation. But it isn't. Emmaus is my home. Haiti is my home. I am certainly in love with what God is doing here, but don't get the wrong idea. We struggle through everyday life. We experience good days and bad days. We miss family and friends back in the states. Its hot, sometimes really hot.  But it is all worth it.  It is worth the difficult stuff because we are working towards helping Emmaus be what God intends it to be. We have gone through so much, seen so much pain, but continue to give God glory in the midst of suffering. We believe that as Christians, we can find joy in our pain, and that it helps us to grow stronger.

"But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold. 
My feet have closely followed His steps, I have kept to his way without turning aside."
Job 23:10-11

So yes, God is doing wonderful things through Emmaus. Yes, I adore each one of our students and faculty and life here in Haiti. But we are still human. We still struggle. But we use this as an opportunity to learn, so that we may be made better. We still need your support. We need your prayers, your encouragement, your love. Thank you guys for being here with us on glorious days like today, the average days, and the days when nothing seems to be going right.

Thank you so much for reading this blog. 

Until next time... :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Little Bit of Everything

To start off, I just want to thank everyone who supported the making of this basketball court! It has been used non-stop since the day Dad told them they could use it! 

I actually didn't even like basketball before this court. I have been practicing a lot with Ethan, and I can officially say I know how to throw the ball now :)

I feel like these past few months have been full of accomplishments! So much has been done from the basketball court, to the new computer lab, to the starting of the solar project! 

Now for a shout out to ANDREW!!! You've done a lot since coming here, from painting gates to putting up signs (and SO much more!).

You've really helped to lighten my Dad's load by mowing  the lawn, and helping landscape!

I have LOVED life at the seminary (if you didn't already know that!). I feel like we just keep growing  
spiritually, and maturing in our faith!     

I love Emmaus Sundays, when the students visit other churches and lead the services. 

I've been getting to know different students better and have really enjoyed hanging out with them. 
(Here I am riding in the back of the Ayars' truck with a bunch of students, which was a blast!)

As for Rosa, she is currently at her home in New Jersey with family! (Don't worry, she's coming back!) Before she left we visited Belony's church. (He's one of our staff members at Emmaus.)
Of course, wherever Rosa goes she magically finds a baby to hold!

After the service Belony asked the young women to stay back for a bit. We went to one of the classrooms and Rosa shared her story with them, and encouraged them. It was really nice to hear the girls ask Rosa different questions about her testimony.

The Ayars family have been wonderful neighbors and great friends. 
(And their girls are growing up SO fast!)

Nora gets cuter and cuter by the day, and she has grown close friends with Pepper!

A couple weeks ago Mom, Rosa and Ethan traveled to Port-au-Prince so Ethan could take his first shot at the ACT test! They got to meet up with Junior which was so nice!

While they were away Dad and I spent the weekend together, and we worked on preparing our garden! We tilled, shoveled, and planted seeds!

After they got back, we took a trip to the beach...
If you don't know my family well.... here is the picture that says it all :)

Andrew decided to reaffirm his faith by having Matt baptize him. He had already been baptized as a baby, but he wanted to show that it's his personal desire to follow Christ!

Thanks for reading this blog! 

Stay tuned for another blog about the end of the school year at Emmaus!