A Witch Doctor, A Sewing School and Construction Plans in Haiti

Vocational Sewing School

The sign on the entrance gate of the vocational sewing school

The Witch Doctor

There was a witch doctor next door. Literally. Right on the other side of the wall.

Mom and I heard children chanting the same phrase over and over as we worked with the sewing students at Atelier D’Apprentissage Specialise (the vocational sewing school) in Beudet, Haiti, and we asked Pastor Cadet what the kids were doing.

It turns out they were learning or performing some form of Voodoo. Pause and let that sink in. Children younger than my Lewis learning Voodoo.

As mom and I worked with this Christian pastor whose desire is for his students to come to know Jesus as they learn a valuable trade, we listened to the sounds of a witch doctor and his students.

I tell you this to preface the fact that the sewing school building, which many of you have donated funds for in the past, is not nearly as far along in the construction process as mom and I expected it to be at this point.

The Sewing School

We were pretty disappointed to see just the footings and concrete floor completed on the building we hoped would be finished by now.  And we were a bit confused by the large footprint of the foundation. But after speaking to Pastor Cadet, we learned that he adjusted his construction plan when the witch doctor moved in.

Pastor Cadet and his wife want to eventually have a building that will house the sewing school and a children’s school/activity center where kids will learn about Jesus – an alternative to the witch doctor’s programs in the community.

In order to achieve his goal, he more than tripled the size of his building plans.  To complete the building in the way Pastor Cadet envisions will cost thousands more dollars. Money that we do not have readily available to give.

But we do see great value in what Pastor Cadet is doing, so we discussed options with him to move the school beyond the open air, tarp canopy space it occupies right now. Options that would provide a usable structure while they wait and pray for funds to achieve their ultimate goal.

Haitian Construction

In Haitian construction, it’s very common to complete a portion of a building and then use that space while slowly adding more rooms as money allows. Pastor Cadet and his wife decided it would be beneficial to complete a central large room of the building now and hold off on big picture plans until sometime in the future.

Pastor Cadet currently has $1000 in a fund to go toward this phase of his project and needs $3000 more to be able to purchase materials and pay laborers to build concrete block walls and a roof. This number is subject to fluctuate depending on the cost of materials. You would think that construction in Haiti would be really cheap, but that’s not the case. In Haiti, labor is cheap, but materials can be exorbitantly high. For example, we were told that a gallon of paint costs about 4 times more in Haiti than in the U.S. It’s sad, but true.

We did not commit a certain amount of money to Pastor Cadet for this project but we hope to help him out as funds allow, and we wanted to give you the opportunity to donate toward this project if it is something that you consider valuable.

Donations can be made out to 500 Dresses and sent to Jan Nelson, 680 1st St. NE, Britt, IA 50423, or they can be made through Paypal by sending a donation to ervnelson@q.com. Be sure to note on your donation that it is for the sewing school.

Thanks for considering giving. The photos below show the new school construction project and the current meeting place for the school.

sewing school

The footings and floor of the school are nearly complete.

The school is currently held under the blue tarp pictured. The building to the right of the tarp is Pastor Cadet’s home.

 

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Plane Tickets Are Expensive But God is Good

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In less than a month, 4/5th of my family will be in Haiti. Yowzers. I’m excited, and I know this is what God has for us this summer, but I’ve also been  a bit stressed out and nervous.

One of the biggest stressors was plane tickets. Seriously, the prices constantly change! In fact at one point, I found some within the price range we were hoping for, but I stupidly decided to check another search engine just to be sure this was the best price. When I went back 3 minutes later to put the original tickets in my cart, the price had increased by $400 PER TICKET! What the What??

Needless to say, this piece of the mission trip puzzle was a weight I carried for quite a while.

When we were about 60 days out from our trip and all the plane tickets were a good $200 more a piece than I wanted to spend, I sent a text to 2 of my close friends and asked if they would pray that God would provide tickets within the range I was hoping for or that He would just allow me to be okay with spending more money than we’d planned.

In my head, I know that everything I have is God’s anyway, so if He wants me to take a bunch of moola out of savings and push back the next home improvement project for a couple years, I should be okay with that.

(But my house needs lots of improvements. And selfishly, I don’t want to put off fixing my bathroom for another year or two. It’s very possible that Corey is going to fall through the floor by the shower one of these days, and I have run into walls and stubbed my toes on many middle-of -the-night occasions on my way to the toilet in my twilight zone bathroom. . . you can read a bit about our housing adventures here.)

The day after I texted my friends, I woke up in the wee hours of the morning. 4:00 a.m. to be exact. I could not fall back to sleep so what did I do? I searched for plane tickets. At 4:30 a.m. I found tickets at the price point I wanted for same day travel (lots of tickets to Haiti require long overnight layovers in airports).

And I bought them.

And you know what? Since that time I’ve checked on prices just for fun, and they are never that low.

And that, my friends, is God taking care of His girl.

It’s still not cheap to take 4 Harms people to Haiti, but I know God’s got us. I know this is what we are supposed to do. And I am so excited to serve him and see Him work in our lives.

Preparing for Sewing Classes in Haiti

 

Today my mom taught me how to make the projects that we will be working on with 30 Haitian students next month. Together we carefully worded step-by-step instructions and took photos of the steps. Now we’ll use an online translator to translate the English to Creole and then print copies so the students can follow along as we show them how to make a simple backpack and fabric storage container that hangs on a clothes hanger.

Mom is an ace at this. I am just hoping I don’t mess anything up.

At this point we don’t know the skill level of the students or how many sewing machines we’ll have available to use.

We do know that we will be dripping with sweat. After a never-ending Iowa winter, I will try very hard not to complain about the heat as I wring my skirt out. 🙂

Prayer requests:

  • That we will be flexible and go with the flow.
  • That the projects we have planned are appropriate for the students’ skill levels.
  • That the devotions I write to share at the beginning of each class will draw the students’ hearts to Christ.
  • That we can overcome the challenges of the language barrier.
  • That they will have bottled Coca-Cola available for my enjoyment (Okay that’s a totally selfish one, but seriously, one of the things I love about Haiti is drinking Coke out of a glass bottle.)

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And the Winners Are…

quilts

…Sharon Sweers (ISU quilt) and Shelly Olsan (Ballard quilt)

Thank you to all who donated toward our trip and to all of you who are praying for us.

We will head to Haiti on July 21 and return on July 28.

Mom has started planning sewing classes. We’ll be making backpacks. But before we go she’s going to have to teach me how to make them (because I’m not fantastic at sewing 🙂 )

Corey and the boys will be fixing and remodeling a building on the Mission to Haiti campus that was damaged during the earthquake several years ago.

I’m excited that my boys have the opportunity to experience a world very different from their own and to serve Jesus in a tangible way working alongside their dad. #blessedmama

We’re Going to Haiti (and Giving Away a Couple Quilts)

 

The last time I went to Haiti was November 2015.  It was a trip I took with my mom to teach sewing classes. Corey and I went together to Haiti two years prior.

During each of those trips I thought, “Someday, when they’re old enough, we need to IMG_1885IMG_5359bring our boys here.”

Then I got cancer and life as we knew it drastically changed. Everything was readjusted on the scale of importance. We focused on me, which was a necessary thing to do, but thoughts of a return trip to Haiti fell to the recesses of my mind.

Then last fall, I had the opportunity to ship some dresses to Haiti with a friend. After handing off a suitcase filled with dresses to Jessica, I didn’t give it much thought. Not until she texted me one day in December and said, “Kim, can I come over to your house and talk to you about my trip?”

So Jessica came and sat with Corey and me and showed us photos and cried as she told us stories and talked about how her teenage daughter’s eyes were opened in a new way to Jesus’ love for the world.

And that was it.

It was like God was nudging me, “Kim, it’s time.”

But that’s a big deal. Taking 4/5ths of our family to a foreign country for 8 days is not an inexpensive venture.

But Corey and I both know that we want our boys to see Jesus clearly. And we desire for them to serve Him. Of course they don’t have to leave American soil to do that, but I can’t think of a better opportunity to expand their worldview and their Godview than the place where my worldview and Godview were rocked.

So here we go…

We, along with my mom, plan to travel to Haiti this July. Though details aren’t set, Corey and the boys will likely do construction work while mom and I teach sewing classes at the vocational school we taught at in 2015.

The cost of this trip will be approximately $6500.

That looks like such a big number to me. But I was recently reminded that my God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and when He leads us to something, He provides. Whether that’s from our bank account (everything we have is His anyway, right) or through the blessings of gifts from others.

My fantastic mother made the two quilts pictured and gave them to me to help defray the cost of our trip. If you feel led to donate any amount, your name will be put in a drawing for one of these quilts. Simply send a note with your donation letting me know which quilt you’d like a chance at receiving.

God is good. And I’m so thankful that He lovingly urges me on to do the things He wants me to do. And I’m beyond excited for the possibility of this experience with my mom and three of my four favorite men in the world.

Kim (and family)

Please don’t feel pressured to give, but if you do you, can write a check out to me and send it to 804 Timberlane, Huxley, IA 50124. Or you can donate through PayPal (make sure you specify friends and family, not goods and services) to ckharmsfamily@hotmail.com. (Don’t forget to mention which quilt you’d like your name in the drawing for.)

Last Chance to Donate Dresses for Haiti Shipment

 

Mom and I plan to send a shipment of dresses to Haiti in 2 weeks. We are still taking donations. If you have any formal dresses, sundresses or wedding gowns you’d like to add to our box, let me know.

Donations can be shipped to Jan Nelson, 680 1st St. NE, Britt, IA 50124.

If you are local to Huxley, you can drop them off at my house – 804 Timberlane.

 

Donate Your Wedding Gowns and Formal Dresses to Haiti

Renting wedding gowns to brides for their big day provides income for Mdm. Bennison in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In addition to renting out wedding dresses, she also sells formal dresses.

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Mdm. Bennison

We’ve given dresses to her a number of times, but it’s been a while so we decided it’s time for another shipment to expand her inventory.

Here’s what we’re looking for.

Formal Gowns

  • They must be current. No 1980s stuff that you find in the back of your closet. Life in Haiti might be a lot different that life in the US, but Haitian women have access to TV and Internet and they know what’s in and what isn’t. If you think it’s too out of style to wear, they probably will too.
  • We’d love a set of bridesmaid dresses if anyone has multiples of the same dress.

Wedding Gowns

  • Specifically larger sized wedding gowns (size 14+). Though we’ll take smaller ones if they are current.

We’ll be accepting donations throughout the month of February. Thanks for considering helping us out in this way.

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Photo from the wedding of a wonderful guy (my interpreter for the week) that mom and I attended while in Haiti in 2015.

Contact us at 500dresses@gmail.com with any questions.

Haitian Girls with New Dresses

My friend Jessica and her daughter Anna went to Haiti this fall and took a suitcase filled with our dresses.

This was her first trip to Haiti, and as she spoke to Corey and me about her experiences on the trip, we had to keep the Kleenex handy. God is so good, and he just does such amazing things when we say “Okay, I’ll go where you are asking me to go and do what you are asking me to do.”

Jessica took a bunch of photos and I’m sharing some of them with you here today.  They laid out the dresses in a classroom and let girls take turns coming in to try them on and choose one. It was the first time these girls have “shopped” for clothes.

Mom and I are thankful to be a part of the things God is doing with these dresses. And we are thankful to those who have supported this ministry.