Education Brings Advancement and Peace

Posted on September 2, 2012 | By :


Whew – what a last couple of weeks it has been. I hope this post finds you doing well and loving life wherever you may be. Everyone in Leveque and La Piste made it through the storms just fine, and the extra rain has actually done some good for the gardens in Leveque! All of the floods receded very quickly – most them pretty much receded after 1 day. While there was some damage to tent cities, and there are many who are picking up the pieces of their homes and businesses, most people had enough warning beforehand in order evacuate certain areas and have safely returned to rebuild and settle in again.

We are busy at work here trying to get children in Leveque registered for school, setting up for a fall series of agricultural seminars, and getting ready for the next move in and housing distribution for 20 families on Saturday September 8. It will be a busy fall as tensions in the community have turned to new friendships and learning opportunities, which means we are back on schedule cranking out houses and looking at a housing distribution each month, until all homes are done and there are no temporary houses left in the Leveque area, and no deaf families left living on the outskirts of the slum in Port au Prince.

In recent months we have experienced a beautiful change of heart in the leaders of the nearby communities – as you go about your prayers this week, please keep the men in the attached picture in your prayers – to my right is Karlens St. Gerard, Karlens works with me almost everyday in the community and is a talented interpreter as well as a talented teacher and coach in the community. The two young men to my left in the photo are Thimagene and Rosemond – we are very close now, but these are men who back in March were angrily in my face on a daily basis, causing trouble, inciting the community to riots, and uttering many of the most hurtful and hateful things I have heard in all of my travels around the world. Day in and day out for over 4 months, our conversations have slowly, slowly changed to very productive discussions regarding opportunities for the community as a whole to advance together – that the presence of the deaf community is a tremendous help to the community as the new solar lights, the clean water filtering system, the new church, and the upcoming school, as well as many education programs are all a direct result of the deaf community coming to live in Leveque. I am excited to report that Thimogene and Rosemond have caught the vision . . . of what this community means not only for them, but what it means for their country – they have caught the vision that together we all have a chance to make history in Haiti, to become a community that is truly a light for every other NGO or aid organization wanting to work in true development for displaced persons. Instead of anger, these two young men have been productively engaging in opportunities and supporting us as we attempt to provide those opportunities in education for everyone in the community. I prefer their firm handshakes and and “bro-hugs” over machetes in my face any day :) .

For Thimogene, Rosemond, and a half dozen other leaders, their greatest desire in education was an English course for adults in the community. As you have read on this blog, that course is still going very well and truly provided a foundation for our newfound friendship and work together. These young men reached out to me about 6 weeks ago for a conversation after class, starting the meeting by saying, “we have a very large problem . . . “ my first response was obviously, OH CRAP – things were moving forward so well, what has happened now? However, Thimogene stated, “we are all brothers and sisters because we are all Haitians, so we have a big problem because we cannot communicate with our deaf brothers and sisters. We need more classes for that . . . “ I think I would call that conversation “the win of the YEAR!!” How about that BOO-YEAH and AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The sign language classes continue to go well, and are held two evenings a week, taught by a deaf woman named Nadine. The class started out so large that they actually had to split up into two separate classes. What a great morning it was this morning as I was sitting in Mackenson’s home and Rosemond came in to sign “good morning, how are you?” I gave him one of the biggest high fives I have ever given :) . Again – it is so beautiful to sit with these men who several months ago were in my face as some of the angriest young men I have ever encountered – we now sit every single week for an official meeting, and cross paths often in our various educational offerings. This week we also started a new course in literacy in French for adults in the community. After English, basic literacy in French is the greatest desire for 70 adults within the community. Guess who agreed to volunteer to teach the courses twice a week if I agreed to fund all of the materials for the class . . . .? You guessed it – Rosemond, Thimogene, and Karlens. AMEN!!!!

The Haitian school year starts in October so we are now working to get all of the children registered for school. There are still many children in La Piste who will be waiting to start school when they move to Leveque, and there are still parents who are deciding not to send their children to school even though they have sponsorships and are only responsible for the uniforms and books – something that every family can cover. While that decision is discouraging to me, we will keep trying and doing our best to instill the importance of education to everyone within the community. Our adult classes in English, French Literacy, and Sign Language are going well. The adults in the community have remarked many times that they are happy to be advancing in some way. Many of these adults may be waiting for another year until their homes are finished and built, but the opportunity to pursue something worthwhile has been a great peacemaker within the community. We are always thinking of ways to expand and improve, and we are always engaging in discussion with the community leaders in order to continue progressing in education for all ages in Leveque. Basically with literacy and conversational courses in French, Sign Language, and English we have classes, languages, and opportunities flying all over the place – AMEN once again.

Church construction in Leveque is going well. The church congregation in the community has also been steadily growing in recent months which is great to see every week. I think the more people worship together, learn together, and engage in recreation together, the better chance we will have at a very close knit community that two years ago was just a large group of displaced persons with no history together. That will be really neat to see. Pastor William continues his incredible efforts in learning and encountering the Bible as he leads deaf church two evenings a week. I am excited to walk with him as he continues learning.

There is always a lot more going on – but I have something else to write about this evening. It has recently been decided that for many reasons, I should head back to the US for a time to regain my health, be refreshed and restored, and regain strength in order to truly be in this for the long haul. I will not go into many details, but it is definitely time for me to take a step back and to find some rest and healing around family and friends in the United States. I know that most missionaries reach this point at some time during their first few years of life and work in a country as dark and difficult as Haiti – I am incredibly thankful for all of the people I work with at the 410 Bridge, Frazer UMC, and Mission of Hope who did not question anything when I explained what I have been feeling and experiencing in recent months – every single person has clearly and beautifully supported a time to get to the US and regain my health.

Many people from those organizations have served abroad before and have been able to comment well on current needs. Life down here is often crazy, incredibly in your face, sometimes very violent, usually quite dark, often extremely unfriendly, and just overall extremely taxing – amidst all of that, you are conducting business in 2 or 3 languages not your own. There are those great points of light and hope and joy in this work, but that does not mean that everything else does not wear you down. We know that the war is already won!!! But there are many battles to fight – and man have we been fighting . . . All that means is that it is time to refresh, recharge, and get healthy so that worldview and perspective can shrug off that darkness in the strong pursuit of the joy and light that we know exists here.

The deaf community has become my family – and I look forward to a long future together pursuing sustainability and a flourishing life with them in Haiti. This is a community that is changing the history of this country – that is changing the course of deaf ministry and development work around the world, and that could be one of the coolest social reforms that Haiti has seen in decades. I hope to be here for pretty much all of that, and to be a leader in supporting the deaf community through all of that – for right now, that means I must step back for a time and allow the leadership council and ASDH (Association Sourds D’Ayiti – Association of the Deaf in Haiti) to rise to the occasion and be challenged in new ways. Me not being here may be just the thing the project needs to get to the next level . . . I would love nothing more than to come to that realization several months from now!

As you pray this week and over the coming month, please pray for healing, for restoration, for health, for a peaceful heart, and for wisdom and clarity as we work through some tough times, and continue to seek peace.

I will end this post with a prayer from my journals for the last week
“Lord we thank and praise you for challenges – Lord, amidst whatever challenges and darkness may be weighing heavily on our hearts, we know that you are stronger and can overcome anything. Lord, help us to focus on You – to focus on You for whatever period of refinement you have in store for us when we are brought to this place. God, as one leader takes a step back, give other leaders the opportunities to step forward. God, that as they encounter trials, challenges, and maybe make mistakes, you remind them that You are always with them. Lord, for whatever is heavy, whatever is dark, and whatever stands in the way of a heart fully surrendered to You, I pray today that Your light penetrate every corner and dark space. Lord, we do not wish to hide, we do not wish to cower, and we thank you for the opportunity to be humbled, and to come to a new understanding of You and Your work in our lives. Tonight Lord, I pray for peace, I pray for peaceful hearts and quiet minds. It is You who brings perfect peace, perfect healing, and everything that is Good for Your children. In Your name I pray. AMEN.”

Hoping to see some of you in the US while I am there. Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement and for so diligently following this blog. I will be sure to write A LOT while I am home as this is clearly meant to be a time of refinement and hard reflection. I will definitely look forward to the first blog post from back here in Haiti and several posts from the US!!

grace and peace,
Kyle

Kyle Reschke

About Kyle Reschke

Kyle is a missionary of Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery Alabama, in partnership with 410 Bridge and Mission Of Hope. He is the Project Coordinator for the Haiti Deaf Community.

1 Year in Haiti – WOW What a year!!

Posted on August 18, 2012 | By :


Bonswa! I write tonight from my home in Titanyen, Haiti. As a beautiful electrical storm rolls in off of the mountains, I am enjoying the distant rumbles and peaceful night to write outside.

This blog is about 1 week overdue as last week marked the end of my first year living in Haiti. I have struggled in the writing of this post due to the difficulty in trying to summarize the mountain of amazing events that occurred over the last year. For those of you who have followed this blog regularly, many of those stories have been mentioned . . . but be assured, there are dozens more to be found in the 1000+ pages of my personal journals from the last year (not sure when those will be typed up and included in this blog as they are obviously always in progress). There are also a couple of publications I have begun discussing with experienced friends – maybe the next year will see the fruits of those discussions.

Before the end of the month we will be moving in 20 more families, and if everything remains on schedule we will have relocated everyone from the old camp within 8 to 10 months. The deaf families in the old camp are eager and anxious for their new homes – we are building as fast as we can. We are praying hard for these families that as they prepare to move they are excited and ready to settle in to their new homes – that they find peace amidst the anxiety that can come with a large move, and that the deaf families already in Leveque will be waiting with open arms to help them settle in!

As I sit tonight to try to summarize or give any reflections on the last year, I am left with one overwhelming thought . . . “it has been quite a year . . .” We have A LOT of work ahead, but it is also remarkable to look at what has been accomplished in the last year. The community at Leveque threw a beautiful anniversary party for me on the day that marked the end of my first year here. I was brought into the garden of a deaf man with my eyes closed for the entire community to surprise me with their presence, their hugs and kisses, and their gifts. There was also a slideshow of pictures from the last year and several speeches and presentations from the deaf leaders who have become my family. I will summarize here the words of two people as they presented their gifts. First, JoJo is a man who was born without arms or legs. JoJo is an incredibly wise member of the community who is also an extremely talented artist. JoJo presented me with a painting of the community of Leveque and simply stated – “Mr. Kyle, all of your ideas are to help us with a new life here. Everyday we all know that Leveque is in your head and that Leveque is in your heart.” A beautiful painting and beautiful words that I will treasure forever.


Next up was William Saint Eloi, or “Pastor William” as we now call him. William simply stated, “1 year ago the deaf were suffering, we had many problems and did not know if there was a future anywhere for us. Then one day this tall white guy just kept showing up to our community. He just showed up again, and again, and again to learn our language and to talk with us. Then one day he started talking with us about the chance for a new life for the community, a place called Leveque. Many of us have moved here now, everyone else is very excited to move, and we are all so happy and so thankful that the community has hope. I want to say God Bless you.”

Much later in the celebration William did put on a yellow knit cap (for blonde hair) and covered himself in flour (to be white), and proceeded with a hilarious attempt at mimicking my journeys through Haiti and my mannerisms that have now become so familiar to the deaf. He had all of us roaring in laughter.

There are so many stories to share from this last year that shed light on what this work means for the community and for Haiti as a whole. Please allow me to briefly share a few of those stories as small examples of God’s work in Haiti.

A deaf man named Jean Guy Hyppolite moved to Leveque with the first group of families in February. Jean Guy has been unemployed for over 4 years and has also been separated from his son for more than three years. His son, Kevenley has been living with distant relatives several hours away and they have seen each other only a handful of times in the last 3 years. Last week I arrived in the community to find Jean Guy running up to my vehicle, excited to introduce me to his 10 year old son. Jean Guy has found employment in masonry in the community and has also cultivated a beautiful garden of corn, watermelons, beans, and plaintains. Due to his recent successes, and the opportunity for the children in the community to attend school as the school year starts in October, Jean Guy has been reunited with his son in Leveque. As the deaf community and other families find new levels of sustainability, this will continue to be the story for many families – so cool to be a part of.

Next we have Mr. Williams Sauveur. Williams is one of the greatest success stories in Leveque as he is 42 years old, was unemployed for many years, never spent a day in school and is just now starting to gain literacy. You all have seen Williams’ garden featured on this blog a few months ago and his efforts have not dwindled. Here is a man who 1 year ago was entirely dependent on food distributions and charity in order to eat and survive. Due to his work ethic and the sweat of his brow in Leveque, Williams continues to cultivate one of the most flourishing gardens, continues to be hired by construction bosses for many jobs (as he is widely considered to be the hardest worker around) and attends class 2 nights a week to gain literacy in French. Williams and several other older deaf people in the community are examples to me that we are providing the right levels of support for these families – by Haitian standards, a deaf man who is entirely illiterate is considered unemployable. Here he is today expanding his realm of businesses into chicken raising, saving money for a goat, and now supporting other members of the community out of his success. Incredible – I praise the Lord for Williams as he is a beautiful reminder of what this project means. When you provide the right opportunities for hard work, many people will still refuse to put in the work, that is the entitlement that we are always fighting in Haiti . . . but Williams is the example that the right support has been offered, and he will become a pillar of the community because of it.

As I have written many times on this site, the deaf leaders have continued to grow as servant leaders of their community. They have also continued to grow in their own advocacy and desire to seek opportunities for themselves. This year the deaf leaders formed ASD’H (Association Sourds D’Ayiti) which is now a legal organization in Haiti that is being run by the deaf Haitians. We are working hard to support this organization as they begin the initial stages of seeking government and other support on their own. The leaders have a lot of work ahead in learning how to write their own grant proposals and project plans, but I remain happy to support them in however many drafts it takes for them to take ownership of a plan and submit a worthwhile proposal.

Clean water is flowing and it is affordable – some kinks to still work out with the water committee and definitely some future expansions of the project for more volume, but overall it is working. Enough said there.

Lights in the community – solar lights for the community and increased communication ability for the deaf families. Also done for the community with 15 more solar lights for community gathering points fully funded and on the way!!

Micro-Enterprise and jobs – 8 women creating beautiful paper bead jewelry, 2 general stores, many families taking produce to market, 2 women starting this week in the Three Cords program at Mission of Hope, 12 households employed in stages of construction (1 Deaf masonry boss contractor, 1 deaf carpentry boss contractor), a movie theater built by the deaf, charging station run by a deaf woman, several families with at least one family member working outside of the community – usually Port au Prince. We have much work to do in this area and I see jobs and micro-enterprise as one of the biggest challenges facing us in the next year.

Education programs are up and running and going well within the community. The school year for Haiti starts again in October and it will be a great start to a day to see off all of these kids for their first day of school!!! Adult education programs in sign language, literacy, and English are currently being run almost every day of the week. Education remains the top priority of the community and all of our programs will be expanding drastically over the next year. On a side note – a school for the community is at the top of our list of funding needs this fall. If anyone is interested in helping to fund that, please be in touch!! We need $200,000.

In agriculture we have many great gardens underway – the deaf community has been especially interested in learning more. We have a new group of seminars rolling out this fall starting September 3 to teach any member of the community about the most efficient use of home garden space and care of a home garden.

We are relocating families for the next 8 – 10 months. Please keep those families in your prayers as they wait for their homes and as they settle in to their new lives in Leveque. Please also be praying that unity in the community continues to grow – that the hearing and deaf families can truly come together as a community.

Finally, one of the highlights of the year – with Vacation Bible school that provided wonderful learning and fellowship opportunities for 150 children in the community, all of the children wrapped up the week by singing “How Great is Our God” in sign language. The community that several months ago argued about allowing deaf people to live in the community is now learning sign language – it is common to now see people walking about the community practicing signs or songs – I can only write it once in a post, but that deserves a resounding BOO-YEAH and AMEN!!!!

Well – there are many more stories to share, but those will have to be spread out over the next year. Yes . . . based on all indications, I will be living here for a bit yet. This has been an incredible year, a year filled with some of the darkest, most heartbreaking, and challenging times of my life, but also filled with some of my all time favorite moments and experiences. It is truly unique in life to have a chance to live and walk alongside people much different from ourselves. Like William described, “one day there was just this tall skinny white guy who kept showing up everyday.” I count it the honor of my life that so many of the deaf now call me brother, and that if the deaf are asked what they think about our work together, many have responded in saying: “Man, Kyle loves Haiti, he loves the deaf, he is always working so hard to support the deaf – we think he is a little bit crazy, but we always say God bless him.” And there we are – what a year it has been.

“Lord I thank you today for the challenge that life in Haiti has been. I also praise you for the opportunity to walk alongside such wonderful people. Father God, as we move forward together I ask that you keep us focused on Your vision, on Your will for the community. Lord, that you give us strength in the face of adversity. Lord, that you give us courage to always stand for what is right against so many who would try to undermine Your project, Lord that you would give us peace, to bless when we are persecuted, and to truly show Your love to all we come in contact with – regardless of the reactions to us. God, we thank you today to look back on a year in this work, to everything that You have done, to all of the hearts that you have changed and are working on changing, for allowing us to be a part of a truly great social reform in Haiti. God, challenges and trials are a blessing, please help us to always retain that perspective. God, even in the best and most joyous of times, lift our heads so that we may look to You in Thanksgiving and praise. AMEN”

Thank you all for your support, your encouragement and your prayers over this last year. It is truly a joy to write this blog to share all of this with you on an almost weekly basis.

Cheers to a heck of a year – and cheers to the hope for the future.

grace and peace,
Kyle

Kyle Reschke

About Kyle Reschke

Kyle is a missionary of Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery Alabama, in partnership with 410 Bridge and Mission Of Hope. He is the Project Coordinator for the Haiti Deaf Community.

Challenges and Trials – Working Through Them and Keeping the Vision

Posted on July 29, 2012 | By :

Bonswa!! I hope this post finds you all doing well and loving life wherever you may be. We have had a challenging couple of months here in Haiti as we try to move forward within the new community at Leveque. We will continue to move forward as best as we can given the circumstances and climate within the community, but based on the last couple of months I have some new thoughts and reflections on the nature of work in Haiti and on the difficulties that come with development here. I want to clarify before these reflections that I truly believe that the community at Leveque is a game-changer for development, Christian mission, and the empowerment of communities in Haiti. That amidst all challenges, there is a light and a hope for the future that will continue to take stronger root in the hearts and minds of the community. In the pursuit of that light and hope for a better life there will be battles that rage, challenges that will emerge, and people who will attempt to undermine the good work for the sake of greed, political ambition and power. We know that it is often these people whom God transforms and uses for His glory – but man is it difficult to deal with them on a day to day basis right now. . .

As I have written before, Haiti can be an extremely difficult place to work. Due to the raging flood of dependency and entitlement, mixed with the violent and unstable history of Haiti, any true work in development and sustainability is difficult. I have found here that envy, jealousy, and the anger that follows those emotions can manifest terribly and become incredibly detrimental in any attempts at moving forward in communities. We find often (not always) that people here are very quick to anger and very slow to listen or discuss problems, or even come to some sort of compromise. I should clarify here that I do not blame this mentality on the Haitian people – this is what generation after generation of people here have learned – starting with the violent revolution of the early 1800s. For the last 200 years the Haitian people have learned that violence is the best way to get what they want, and that foreigners are not to be trusted or compromised with (and in all fairness, there have been thousands of foreign missions and groups who have promised the world and not come through, have come with good intentions but have done damage in the process, or have come to Haiti to exploit the people who are suffering here – there are of course, thousands more who have helped and empowered . . . ). Millions of people are just trying to survive and they are doing everything that they can to do so – unfortunately that often blocks aspects of development that will be incredibly beneficial for their communities not only today, but for the future.

I think this is an interesting reflection because it sheds a lot of light on why organizations find it so difficult to function here in Haiti and truly help people move beyond dependency. The average person in a community has learned for his or her entire life that violence and rioting are the best ways to get what they want. This is obviously a worldview that is damaging to progress and opportunities to move forward. There are millions of people in Haiti right now who are hurting, suffering and just trying to survive. There are also thousands of missions and organizations working in Haiti to try to bring aid and help to those millions of suffering people.

The true difficulty comes with the realization that we cannot possibly help everyone – that focus, hard work, and pouring into individual communities so that the Haitian communities themselves can someday become agents change for their nation is the real key – it is not billions more dollars in funding, thousands more NGOs setting up shop, etc… etc.. rather, it is hundreds more communities of Haitians helping Haitians that stands a chance of bringing this country out of extreme poverty.

But this is once again where jealousy and envy rear their ugly heads. Just as a hypothetical example . . . It is a wonderful thing to start a school in a community – to be able to focus in on a community or section of a community is necessary. It takes A LOT of work, an incredible amount of coordination, and a true belief in the transforming power of education. In Haiti the difficulty in development is that the surrounding communities often then become jealous and riot or block the opening of the new school until several more schools are built for them, but the surrounding communities of those communities then perpetuate the cycle and no schools are started or built because we can’t possibly build for everyone.

The same holds true for building homes, helping people find jobs, developing programs, etc… etc… For so many communities in Haiti, this mentality hinders pilot programs, the ability to start small and work out the kinks in order to expand. When the first response is to become angry instead of sitting down to talk to try to gain clarity or perspective, there can be no real discussion about the hope of the future – about what this means for the community 6 months down the road, or even 5 years down the road. Again, I should clarify that I do not blame this mentality on the Haitian people – it is a result of what the last several hundred years has wrought in this country. It seems impossible to think about the future when the needs of today are so pressing or overwhelming. Make no mistake, the needs of “today” for millions of Haitians are extremely heavy, oppressive and overwhelming – THAT IS THE REALITY and perception of so many in Haiti – and that leads to a worldview of only thinking about today.

For those who are still trying to block our progress in Leveque, we are trying hard to understand their perspective, and we are all trying hard to help them understand our perspective as well. For housing distribution lists that were done very fairly with the community in a lottery system, the result is that some families will move this month into their new homes – that also means that some families will be waiting for a year in order to get their new homes. As a father or brother in a family I think it would be incredibly difficult if I were towards the end of the list as I watched my neighbors moving forward each month while I waited. Conversely, we also need to see (and help the community to see) that we are building homes as fast as we can, and the only way to truly move forward is if everyone cooperates and works together – but that is again the future orientation that is very difficult for the people in these communities to see.

The possibility for 2 years in the future at Leveque is that everyone has a permanent and safe home with land for a garden, a school for all of the elementary age children, a community center where adults can congregate for literacy classes and vocational training, and overall . . . a true new chance at life. That is the vision and it is truly a possibility – but that vision is only realized when there is cooperation and positive work together on a daily basis for the next many years. WOW – what a tough balance to find and keep reminding people of on a daily basis. Extremely difficult because it also takes a different worldview in love towards one’s neighbor, in placing others above yourself, and in accepting the greater and longer term vision that this is about more than just a house, more than just material possibilities – it is about a flourishing and abundant life for the next several generations of these families. It is about eternity and a life lived in service, peace and humility towards one another. Isn’t that the very nature and detriment of human pride – that it is about “me” and “me first?” This is not something found only in Haiti, it is found all over the world from the wealthiest of nations to the poorest of nations – in Haiti it is manifested much differently.

With that said, I think the positive aspects of moving forward together in new education programs, clean water, gardening and agriculture seminars, an expanding church, recreational activities (all of which have been occurring for several months now) will continue to grow and be the strong foundation for a realization within the larger community – to see firsthand that times of peace and work together have resulted in positive changes to life, and that times of fighting and discord have actually led to halts in construction, fewer opportunities to learn, and blocks to what is possible.

Whew – I could write dozens, maybe hundreds of pages more on this topic, but for the sake of some semblance of brevity will try to wrap things up here. In light of all of these challenges, I have been asking myself often, “so what do we do from here?” The simple answer is that we continue to show up, to try to speak the truth, to try to help people realize that there is something better possible. To teach people that violence will not solve these problems . . . to walk alongside a community as they start to learn a new kind of trust that peaceful work together is the only hope, not only for their community, but for their nation. The famous quote from Edmund Burke states that “the only thing needed for evil to flourish is that good men do nothing.” So again, the question that we ask is “where do we go from here?” The answer remains the same – we show up as (we hope) good men and women to walk alongside and encourage these beautiful and good Haitian men and women in the community – so that as each day comes we STAND for something better together, we STAND for communities that peacefully work together as neighbors, we STAND for communities and a nation that can be changed.

As we have been experiencing these challenges I have spent some time reading the thoughts of great reformers such as William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa – what we encounter there is the seemingly inherent difficulties that come with great social reform and change within communities. We are all confident that this community can be that change for the nation of Haiti – with the great possibility of social reform and mighty change also arise tremendous obstacles . . . that is extremely exciting, but also, honestly, that is a scary thing to face everyday.

As you can imagine – amidst the challenges I mentioned above it is exhausting, difficult, discouraging, and disheartening to show up many days to encounter that mindset so strongly embedded in communities. Please keep all of the workers in your prayers, to find some measure of peace, to find some measure of rest, and to continue to find strength in walking alongside people as they grasp for a new life for themselves. Also keep the community in your prayers – that the Lord’s peace would reign in their hearts, that a beautiful vision of the future possibilities for everyone would take the place of any jealousy or malice that may currently be overwhelming hearts and minds and consequently creating blocks to moving forward together.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement as we move forward through new roadblocks and challenges in the coming months and years. Keep the prayers coming.

In the Praise and Glory of our Reigning King!!!
grace and peace,
Kyle

 Kyle Reschke

About Kyle Reschke

Kyle is a missionary of Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery Alabama, in partnership with 410 Bridge and Mission Of Hope. He is the Project Coordinator for the Haiti Deaf Community.

Leveque Community is Becoming Magnetic for People ALL OVER HAITI!!

Posted on July 7, 2012 | By :


Bonswa!! I hope this post finds you all doing well and loving life amidst grand adventures. I write to you tonight from the new 410 Bridge guesthouse in Cabaret. I am about ready to fall into bed for a good night’s rest, but wanted to get a few of these thoughts down before I close the day.

Our rapid pace of growth and progress on many projects remains unabated this week and I once again have much to report. In exciting news, we welcome Kathryn Montoya to Haiti this week. Kathryn is very experienced in deaf ministry and will be spending 5 weeks with us here in Haiti in order to pour into the deaf leaders and take some of our spiritual development and educational development plans and programs to the next level. Check out her website at http://www.cbdeafministry.org. It is once again amazing to reflect on all of the people that the Lord has brought together in this great and challenging work in Haiti. I praise the Lord this summer for all of our teams, partners, and the people working so hard in the US in support of me and our Haitian staff – I especially praise the Lord for Elizabeth Beaird, Mary Davenport, and Kathryn Montoya for their willingness to take the leap of faith to come to Haiti at such a critical time in our work.


Ok – let’s get to all of the exciting announcements from the last week. Earlier this week we welcomed a new baby into the Village of Leveque and I was honored to have the opportunity to not only hold him on his first day in Leveque, but also to help name him. Please keep baby Daniel and mother Margot in your prayers as they go about their new lives in Leveque. (see photo of the glowing mother!!)With each new arrival to the community, I reflect on all of the new opportunities in front of this next generation – instead of a future in one of the most dangerous slums in the world, baby Daniel can enjoy the peace and quiet of Leveque – where his mother pursues a new small business, his two older brothers and older sister enter into the Mission of Hope school, when he is able to walk he will play soccer in a safe space on a full soccer field – and even better . . . baby Daniel is now part of the generation that will change the course of history in Haiti – starting with his life in a community that is redefining holistic development, community unity, foreign missions, small scale agriculture, and the pursuit of a life free from dependence and entitlement.

The most exciting afternoon of the week for me was the arrival of 8 deaf men from a small community in the far Northwest of Haiti. Mary Davenport worked with this community earlier in the summer and told them all about the community in Leveque. Of course these men needed to see it for themselves :) . After hours and hours of travel they arrived in Leveque and were blown away by everything in the community. These young men said over and over that Leveque is so beautiful and they never thought anything like it was possible for deaf people in Haiti. Visiting with these young men really helped me to put many things back into a healthy perspective – while we have encountered new challenges in some areas that have delayed various aspects of development, it is important to take that step back and reflect on what has already been done – that this project and work with a community in this way is truly unique in Haiti. Are we supporting the community perfectly – no . . . are we making some mistakes along the way – of course . . . but at the same time we are all learning and working very hard to empower a community, to change worldview towards a perspective that empowers a community to seek their own solutions. In the process Leveque is becoming a magnetic community for deaf people all over this country; deaf people who cannot believe that something like this is possible . . . until they visit and see it with their own eyes. That is cool. The deaf leaders from the Northwest connected with the leaders in Leveque and in La Piste and I pray that much fruit will come from that connection. My specific prayer is that the leaders from La Piste can teach and empower the leaders from the Northwest – but along with that, I think the perspective of the leaders from the Northwest can positively influence the entitlement mentality that has crept in for many deaf families who have received free aid for over two years at the Red Cross camp in Port au Prince.


In other exciting news, the church on the hilltop in Leveque is cruising along. The progress made in the last week is remarkable to me – everyday I visit Leveque and stand on the hilltop to pray over that land. While I pray I am blown away at the visible construction progress that occurs in every 24 hour period. Please keep that land, the workers, and the leaders of the community in your prayers – pray specifically that the work being done and the resulting community gathering place becomes one more source of unity for the community.
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We had an absolute blast at our weekly soccer game last week as the soccer field is leveled and we experienced a heavy rainfall that turned everything into deep mud – of course, everyone just started dancing in it and our soccer game turned into one HUGE mud-fest!!!! A lot of fun – I always enjoy the opportunity to be a part of this community cutting loose, smiling, laughing, and getting just a little bit crazy :) .

I end the post once again with a prayer from my journals this week:

“Lord, this morning I pray for your vision. Father God, that once You have placed that vision on our hearts – You give us fire and passion. Passion for You and for Your glory in this work. Lord, such passion is magnetic, such passion is undeniable. As it exceeds the possibility of articulation and enters the realm of the vision of Heaven on earth – we know that no one can deny Your work, Your glory, and Your hands of provision. Father God I pray this morning for energy – Lord, some days I am tired and it feels that energy and passion have waned. Father, You promise you will restore our souls and take us to those quiet riversides. Lord it is only You who can grant magnetic passion to everyone here in Haiti – the kind of passion that will work and work and work towards the ultimate end that is Your glory. Give us the strength to focus on You and the strength that only You can grant. AMEN.

Thank you all for your prayers, support and encouragement!!

grace and peace,
Kyle

Kyle Reschke

About Kyle Reschke

Kyle is a missionary of Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery Alabama, in partnership with 410 Bridge and Mission Of Hope. He is the Project Coordinator for the Haiti Deaf Community.

Water Flowing in Leveque!!

Groundbreaking for New Church!!!

Posted on June 27, 2012 | By :

Bonswa!! I hope this post finds you all doing well and loving life wherever you may be. I apologize for the time since my last post – we have been very busy and all kinds of new challenges have arisen of late. A couple of days ago I took some time to write a different blog post for this week, but in light of everything else going on, the updates I write for you all tonight are just too exciting to hold off announcing any longer. The other post, which was more of a personal reflection on the nature of ministry in Haiti and the foundations of poverty in the developing world will be posted sometime in the future when I am in need of a post :) . I am sure you will all probably find these deaf community specific updates to be more interesting and exciting.

The month of June has been extremely busy with several teams (including several members of my family). My father, sister, aunt, and mother traveled to Haiti in the beginning of June to work on a service trip and check out what we have been doing for the last 11 months together here in Haiti. It was wonderful sharing all of this with my family and stepping back to watch them as they interacted with my new deaf family. Many of the deaf even remarked to my mother and sister that we are all now family – my mom found that on many occasions she was quite famous and greeted with an extra hug or kiss on the cheek. She teared up a couple of times when she realized that for most of the community she is forever referred to as “mama Kyle.” We were all quite emotional as we shared in this experience together, and once again it was amazing to share this life with my family. My family has always been supportive of this work, even when they did not quite understand why I kept passing up good jobs and other opportunities in the US – for them to see my heart and to see this work in Haiti provided a lot of clarity and understanding. For my parents, who obviously worry for their oldest child, it was great seeing the community that surrounds me, and how well everyone looks out for me. My mother has gone back to the US and tracked down a group of people who meet for coffee once a month at a local Starbucks to practice sign language – like I have written so many times before on this blog, that is what this work is for. . .To empower communities around the world towards a biblical worldview and a worldview that can break cycles of poverty as well as show all of us that love transcends all cultures and languages and glorifies God with the realization of His vision for His children around the world.

I could write so much more on the joy of having family and friends here – suffice it to say here that the Frazer UMC trips in June, the Frazer Youth Group trip in mid-june, and the recent trip from SeaCoast Church in Charleston have been a true blessing to me and to the community  . . . Let’s keep it going!!! Sign up for trips . . . . :)

The biggest news of this week is that we have finally broken ground on the new church at Leveque!! We have been eagerly awaiting this day alongside of the deaf leaders who are excited not only for the jobs that church construction provides, but more importantly for the new opportunities to worship alongside their new deaf and hearing neighbors. Please be in prayer for the land, for the local leadership, for the workers, and for the residents of Leveque. Please pray that as the community worships together, they also use that time of worship as a foundation for fellowship, friendship, the true Biblical view of church and community, and the foundation of strength for the trials ahead.

I include here the text message I received from Mackenson as the heavy machinery rolled into Leveque to clear the land on Tuesday – “Brother now we see big car come for clean land for add church we very excised.” PRAISE THE LORD – I arrived at the community 5 minutes later to find William dancing on the hilltop as he waved us to walk up and check it out! We spent time up there with the team and with residents as we prayed over the land, worshipped together, and prayed once again for the Lord’s continued blessing and favor on the community at Leveque. Once again, keep these items in your prayers.

Ok – now check this out. In the same fashion of the Lord’s past beautiful provision in this project, a friend of ours named Dee Mathes who runs Mission Hearts ministry visited us in Leveque on Saturday with a special presentation. Dee showed us all a video from a service at her church with an incredible artist named Mark Eckel – I highly recommend you check out any videos you can find on YouTube with Mark Eckel SPLAT. ( http://thegrablegroup.com/other-clients/splat-experience-marc-eckel/ ) SERIOUSLY – check out this site and all of the other videos you can find – they are well worth your few minutes in watching them.

Eckel’s work is an absolutely amazing visual artistry that left the deaf leaders and myself on our knees and in tears. To be honest, I thought this was the big surprise Dee had told me about and was thankful for the worship experience . . . but then Dee informed us that she had a gift for the community to grace a wall of the new church in Leveque. You can see here a Mark Eckel original that Dee has been holding onto for years, for the right time, for the right people to give it to. When Dee learned of the new church construction at Leveque, she was given total clarity that this was the place for the beautiful art. The deaf community and I were so overcome by such a generous a beautiful gift. I can’t wait to hang this up with the deaf leaders in a few months for the opening service of the new church on the hill. BOO-YEAH!!

Also in big news over the last couple of weeks, our new education programs have been started and are going well. We have almost 3 dozen hearing children attending sign language classes 3 times a week with a young deaf leader named Alexis Ganesly. We also have English and Literacy classes meeting three times a week taught by a Haitian man we hired named Wisky. Wisky covers the majority of the classes and is a very good man and a very good teacher. I teach every Wednesday evening for several hours and was pleased to find that the community overloaded the school house with a standing room only crowd and a line out the door for my class last Wednesday. I will need to write another post with the details of our exciting new education programs, but for now, they are truly one more source of possible unity between everyone in the area. The more opportunities for deaf and hearing people at Leveque to work and learn together, the more chances there will be for people to start friendships, to engage in life together, or at the very least, to begin learning about one another. When we take the time to learn about one another, we know that the beautiful truth of the inherent worth of all human life is undeniable. Please keep these programs in your prayers – that the Lord would use them mightily to bring people together and change this nation forever!

I promise to post again within one week – truly . . . I promise . . . I am sorry it has been so long since my last post. We get caught up in a lot and sometimes lose track of how well we are doing in keeping everyone informed and in requesting your specific prayers and support – I will do better.  Thank you all for your prayers, for your encouragement, and for your support of this work.

grace and peace,

Kyle

LEAPS AND BOUNDS IN DEAF ADVOCACY!!

Posted on May 30, 2012 | By :

Bonjou!! I hope this post finds you all doing well and loving life amidst grand adventures. I write to you once again early in the morning from the front porch of Mackenson’s home, with a warm cup of Berthide’s delicious coffee by my side. The deaf construction crew sits next to me as we all soak in the sunrise before getting to work for the day.  The alarm went off very early this morning to allow me an hour for a solid run through the mountains near Leveque – what a great way to start the day in the midst of a busy week. I am reminded this morning of a chapter intro from “In the Heart of the World” by Mother Teresa that I read this week. Echoing Matthew 6:25-34, the short little intro stated simply this:

“Yesterday is gone.

Tomorrow has not yet come.

We have only today.

Let us begin”

I LOVE IT!!!

We have had a great week so far with many meetings and some wonderful training/discussions that have been led by Emmanuel Jacques (a French Diplomat and member of the organization International Deaf Emergency (IDE). I have mentioned this organization before as we are partnered together in this great work to support and walk  alongside our deaf friends in Haiti. IDE was started to help deaf people in crisis all over the world and I am honored to count many of the staff of IDE as good friends and as colleagues in our work in Haiti. As I have commented many times on this blog, it is always amazing to me how work in Haiti has brought together so many different people from around the world who are all passionate about a flourishing life for the Haiti deaf community.

Emmanuel Jacques – affectionately known to us as “Manu” is also deaf and extremely talented in conducting seminars and classes with the deaf community in Leveque and La Piste. For the remainder of the week we will be engaging the deaf leaders in empowerment seminars including classes in self-advocacy, community advocacy, interviewing, professionalism, the development of community vision, and the importance of follow-through and accountability. I am extremely thankful for Manu’s presence here this week as he adds A LOT of weight and amazing expertise to many of the programs and developments I have been discussing with the deaf leaders. I have truly been enjoying soaking in all of his lessons and his teaching style with the deaf leaders.

I am reminded this week of our core Bible verse with the 410 Bridge – 1 Peter 4:10, which states, “as each has received unique gifts, let us use them to serve one another, being good stewards of God’s varied grace.” We have many wonderful partners and organizations in this work, and they have all come together with incredible passion. This week I think specifically of IDE and FDH (Friends of Deaf Haiti). These organizations bring a knowledge of deaf culture and an ability to relate to the deaf community in Haiti that I  will never have – I am humbled, encouraged, and inspired by these great new friends.

I am so passionate about the possibilities of our work together because I see the impossibility inherent in this project if any of us were working on our own. The main reason things have gone well so far is that the Lord has abundantly provided so many passionate people and organizations, including the deaf community themselves, as they have survived so much and shown a resilience that is truly astounding for all of us to witness.

On a related note, we have had many classes and seminars conducted in the last month, and I am always encouraged by how eager the community is to learn. From Basketball drills and bible studies, to practice interviews and advocacy sessions, Mack, William, Berthide, Melanie, Josenel, Jonas, Mirlaine and Geovany (to mention just a few) have been rising to the occasion to soak it all in.

This week has also provided fantastic sign language practice for me with many additional hours signing with Sandrine and Manu who sign much faster than what I am used to down here in Haiti. They have been gracious in their suggestions and encouraging in their praise :) .

I have a few more prayer requests this week – please be diligent in your prayers – we all feel them down here and are thankful to know that we can trust in your disciplined prayer life.

  1. Please pray for the new community leadership committee at Leveque. They were chosen by their community and and the committee includes equal representation from every population in the area – however, they are receiving some opposition from our usual troublemakers in Leveque. Please pray that the Lord’s peace would reign and that those who are having issues with decisions find the strength to pursue resolution peacefully and effectively.
  2. Please pray for the Water Committee – also chosen by the community. We are moving forward well with our water solution for the entire area and these leaders have a lot of responsibility thrust on their shoulders. Please pray for wisdom as they lead this initiative and community asset – wisdom to lead effectively (and question effectively if something is unclear).
  3. Please lift up everyone who is struggling in the community. As I have written many times before, there are many challenges ahead – we know they can achieve something truly remarkable if they work together. As there are still factions within the community, please pray that everyone comes to the all important realization that mutual support, respect, and hard work together is the KEY.

I close with a prayer from my journals this week

Lord, I praise you for this beautiful morning. That we can once again face the dawn in hope and in excitement for the tasks and possibilities of the coming day. Lord, today I pray that you help us all find silence and peace. Lord, that as we engage in so many tasks and may become overwhelmed by all that must be done, grant us Your vision of life in the center of Your will. Today, help us to be drawn into silence – into the place where we can truly listen to Your voice and only Your voice.

Lord, grant me the humility to learn when I need to be learning, and the confidence to teach when I need to teach. And when it is time to put everything else aside so that I may be drawn more closely to You, give me the strength to do so. Father God we praise you today for the opportunity to whole-heartedly pursue Your will for our lives. It is in Your most holy name that I pray today. AMEN.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement. Please know that your prayers are being answered!

Wishing you all the continued experience of the abundant grace and peace of our Reigning King!!!!

Kyle