Solar energy & a great team!

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Greetings from Haiti! It’s July and the sun is at its tropical best! Not only is it helpful for my tan but it now contributes toward my electrical needs too!

It has been a year in the making but my home in Petit Goave now has a complete and operational solar panel/invertor/battery power system. When one considers that such a system provides lights and fans where there were none and that it also allows for refrigeration and even air conditioning one fully appreciates my excitement! I now have around the clock refrigeration which gives me safe and nutritious food options. I now have glorious rest at night because air conditioning pushes back the brutal heat. Less of my time and resources will be spent on survival and more will be spent on ministry because many of you invested in this system.

Last year Terrell drove the solar panels he gifted all the way from Texas to south Florida‎ where they were then air freighted to me. Early this year John gave the invertor and solar/ battery controller which is the heart and brain of the system. Caroline and her group shipped the invertor to Haiti. Andy in Port au Prince invested his time and considerable talent welding the frames that secure the panels to my rooftop. Stuart took great steps to acquire a tiny device called a network terminator (no Swartznegger jokes please) required for the system to operate and get it in the hands of Wesley who was traveling to Haiti on a mission trip. Jack, an electrical engineer travelling with Wesley’s team, checked my work connecting the myriad of parts of the system and held my nervous hand as we went through the boot up process.

What an incredibly beautiful picture of the church in its many parts doing their individual tasks to accomplish the ministry of the kingdom.

‎Thank you for your love of the Lord and his work! Thank you for your encouragement to me! May God richly bless you for your investment!

Anonymity is not quite ‎possible being light skinned in a dark skinned world. I hadn’t given much thought about my comfort with living anonymously until I began to live in Haiti.  I just was not comfortable with being so scrutinized all the time. I began to feel so… well…conspicuous!

When I moved recently to Cap Destree at the foot Tapion Mountain I feel like I am in a parade as I make my way along the long bumpy road to my house.  ‎Children as well as adults from the neighborhood call out to me “blan” or “mon blan” as I pass by, not a term of respect or disrespect but really the only way they know how to be welcoming and to acknowledge a light skinned person.

As someone doing Kingdom work here it really puts a higher requirement of conduct on me.  ‎Just saying this makes me realize that I should have already been leading a conspicuously Christ-like lifestyle before moving here. But there was a large safety net in anonymity that lulled me into complacency. Here mistakes are painfully public and embarrassing and snaps me out of complacency. It tests my resolve to take every thought (and word) captive and to be the light of the world Christ calls me to be.

‎Meanwhile I am getting to know a few in the neighborhood and becoming known by many more. Now I hear “blan Ernie” as I pass by. Soon it will be “zanmi” (friend) and then, God willing, mon frer (my brother).

I will keep you posted as life unfolds here.

The plane carrying the nineteen people ‎from Ash Creek Baptist Church in Azle Texas was late arriving at Toussaint  Louvature Airport in Port au Prince Haiti. Because it was late there was no room at the two gates for the plane to dock so everyone de planed onto the tarmac. It was the hottest part of the June day and walking on the runway felt like “walking into a dragon’s mouth”!  Two hours later the luggage was retrieved and stowed on two vans and the team is headed to the Fort Royal Hotel in Petit Goave, a two and half hour ride. The luggage was unloaded at the hotel in the rain storm that popped up just as they arrived. The hotel staff had a large buffet prepared for the grateful and weary group.

Arrival in PAP

Thus was day one for Team Azle!

Six months of planning had gone into this trip that was to have two tasks. One team was to conduct vacation bible and the other was to paint the interior and exterior of the primary school of Cap Destree (both tasks to be done at the same place at the same time)‎.

Plans were made, Haitians were‎ hired, drinking water was chilled and the work commenced. While VBS was being conducted in three classrooms the other three classrooms were being painted. The painters were not expecting to see 150 gallons of paint waiting for them. The VBS leaders were not expecting a low turnout at the starting time or that the numbers would swell to over 200 the first day. But no one complained or slowed down, not even when VBS moved to the newly painted rooms on the third day. This was one of the most prepared and hardworking teams that I have hosted.

Newly painted school

VBS set up in newly painted room

Madam Bail (Pastor Phenix wife) and her team of church ladies prepared Team Azle’s lunch‎ and served it at my house next door to the school. Nobody, not even I, was expecting the sumptuous meals that those ladies laid down for us. (there is talk of a Haitian church recipe book in the making).

Wesley, pastor of Ash Creek Baptist Church, was out of his comfort zone as he brought the message in the hot tin building of the church on Sunday. Working without a pulpit and barely corralling‎ notes being blown by a fan he still brought a clear and well received sermon with the help of our good friend Charly who translated. A Haitian ladies group performed to music several times. Pastor Phenix introduced his wife’s family and the elders that help with the church ministries. The church was packed out with overflow seated all around the outside of the church.

Church building

Sunday Service

‎While all of these wonderful things were happening an entire community took notice. The neighborhood was electrified by the excitement and commotion that the team inspired. New respect was afforded Pastor Phenix who is already known for bringing the gospel, education and community development to Tapion Mountain. And now the little girl on the corner still runs excitedly to meet me when I pass but now calls me blan Ernie instead of just blan (white).

And she asks me where are Libby and ‎Sharisa and Jaycee and….

Thank you Team Azle. That little girl and I will remember you for a long time.

 

For those who would like to help with our continued ministry in Haiti the link for online giving is:

https://texasbaptists.givingfuel.com/um-ernie-sharon-rice

For checks, make them payable to BGCT and send it to the following address with a note that it is for Ernie & Sharon Rice’s ministry in Haiti:

BGCT
7557 Rambler Road, Suite 1100
Dallas, TX 75231-2310

 

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