HEROES

Posted: May 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

Living in Haiti has given me opportunities to walk shoulder to shoulder with people that I would consider heroes. I’ve seen their lives and heard their words and watched when they found themselves in places that seem more nightmarish than reality. I’ve seen Haitians, especially due to the 2010 earthquake, suffer unimaginable tragedy but refuse to give up or give in to what had happened to them.

These heroes are  just ordinary folks.  They aren’t superstars but rather folks that daily make decisions to do the right thing, even when it could be the hardest thing.

There is a Haitian lady that I have known for about 10 years, who for some undiagnosed reason has not been able to walk since 2002.  Life in Haiti, especially for the poor, often has more questions than answers. It isn’t unusual for me to hear of someone I know or know of that has died, and when I ask the reason for the death, I am told something like,”The person had a bellyache or headache, went to the hospital and died.”

When I asked this lady why she can’t walk, she told me that she started having cramps and then after a few months couldn’t walk. And that is that, except for this lady it isn’t. She says that she was born in 1955 and that she’s 69 year old. So she really isn’t sure which is not unusual here in Haiti.  She lives with her daughter who is in her 30s and that, of course, is a story in itself.

This lady, although not able to walk, is quite active and productive.  She has a garden where she grows vegetables.  She does this by scooting along on the ground, tilling the soil with a machete and planting and watering the seeds, all by getting around by dragging herself along by her hands.

ropes2 Recently we had a group with us comprised of college instructors and students. We had this lady teach the group how to take apart flour sacks strand by strand and then make ropes from the strands. She does all this while sitting on the ground.  She will spends hours a day doing this and then she sells the 10 foot or so rope for about 50 cents USD.

We have a heart for her and others that against great odds don’t give up.  She isn’t interested in living off of charity. She wants to work and be productive.  It may be what keeps her alive.

We can help her best by placing orders for ropes and by buying the produce from her garden and the peanut butter she makes.  Experience has taught us that long-term handouts don’t work and if anything makes for more dependence.

We are committed to strengthening families by helping with education, by providing jobs and job training, by purchasing from those like the rope making lady, by teaching biblical principles by which to live and by showing the love of Jesus in word and in deed.

Help us help others. Help us by strengthening families. Help us provide jobs so people can  be independent.  Self sufficiency leads to a better community.  A family where mother, father, and children live together help make a culture strong.   Help from Heartline can be a springboard for a family to be successful. When parents keep their children and can provide for them the country will start to take a different shape.  So in that sense, when you give monthly to help Heartline strengthen families, you help make Haiti a stronger, better country.  What difference can $25 a month make?  All the difference in the world.  Let’s change Haiti for the better, together! Click here to help Heartline Strengthen Families!

As our rope making friend knows “A cord of three strands is not easily broken”.  Families, Heartline and You!

John McHoul

www.heartlineministries.org

 

 

 

CHANGE

Posted: April 25, 2016 in Uncategorized
How terrible it will be for anyone who argues with their Maker! They are like a broken piece of pottery lying on the ground. Does clay say to a potter, “What are you making?” Does a pot say, “The potter doesn’t have any skill”? Isaiah 45:9
flour2Imagine being in a market, specifically in the isle where the flour is displayed and while looking over the selections, you hear this coming from one of the bags of flour. ‘This is what I am, take it or leave it, like it or not. I am what I am, and I’m not changing to please you.’
Probably the most difficult part of change is first seeing the need to change. This must be the work of God, who illuminates our lives through his word and allows us to see that which before hand we were blind to.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12
Simply put, we won’t desire change until we see the need to change. Sounds simple and perhaps it can be, but usually it isn’t.
Helping the mouthy bag of flour see what it could be by showing it delicious items made with flour (cake, desserts, bread, pizza…) you’d think would prompt change.  But it usually doesn’t.
Change usually comes about through struggles and trials.
Dear brothers and sisters,  when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4
Once we understand that it is God that desires change in us, and that he is the potter and we are the clay, we then are able by his grace to face whatever God allows into our lives to effect change. It’s a whole lot easier when we see the big picture: God is the Potter and we are the clay.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23,24

John McHoul

LESSON LEARNED FROM A DONKEY

Posted: April 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

Untie Your Rope and Run Free

March 9th usually comes and goes around here with lots of arguments. It’s John’s birthday. Every year I buy things he won’t wear or won’t use. Birkenstock sandals sit on the bottom of his closet still in the box. Yankee’s tee shirts, Sriracha sauce tee shirts, Boston tee shirts; all hang in the closet unworn. He doesn’t even like cake. He’s a birthday Grinch but I can’t let it go. It’s not in me, so the fight continues.

Then came Yolanda! This year I had a stroke of genius! You might have noticed that the OK (Heartline property) is filling up with animals as well as people. Students have to walk around ducklings, run from a nasty turkey, avoid sheep droppings, and put up with wandering goats as they come and go from school. The city boy has turned farmer in his old age!

I called Kelly, the world’s most fascinating veterinarian, and asked if she could find John a donkey for his birthday. Within an hour she had a just weaned female donkey and was bringing her home. On the big day Kelly arrived with Yolanda sporting a giant birthday bow! Yolanda became the gift of all birthday gifts and John loves her.

FullSizeRender(4) Every day I get the Yolanda report. She brays when she sees his truck. She nuzzles up to him, she shows affection. She gives him the cold shoulder for whatever it was that hurt her donkey feelings. This beast of burden carries none. She’s all joy and spends her days eating grass and mangoes. She turns down carrot peels and whatever else doesn’t suit her fancy.

Maxeau, the animal guy around the OK, tied Yolanda up when she arrived allowing her several feet to move and graze. He would periodically move her around. John put up with this for several weeks but then on Saturday he decided to cut her loose and see what would happen. As soon as she realized she was free, Yolanda ran in circles, ran up and down the length of the property using atrophied muscles, she kicked up her heels and sprinted free. The beast of burden was doing what she was born to do. Freedom! She exhausted herself with the joy of chase and ran and ran and ran.  Had she never run before? Once free she did what we all do when set free – run for joy!

What are the ropes that bind us? What strangles us and keeps us from going only so far? What holds us back? Are we tied to a tree with fear, lack of faith, lack of confidence, lack of knowing who we are? Don’t we know that Jesus untied the rope and set us free to run? Are our muscles atrophied from lack of use?

God spoke through a donkey once, maybe he’s doing it again. Cut your rope and let your faith run wild. Who knows where you might go!

Beth McHoul

www.heartlineministries.org

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

Posted: March 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

One of life’s biggest challenges, especially if you are in leadership or involved in helping others is being able to see what someone or something can be and not just what he or it is at that moment.

The other day, I took a break from the office and took a little stroll on the Heartline property where we have a number of animals: goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits and a newly added birthday gift for me, a donkey. I was sitting watching some of the animals when I saw something that in my 27 years in Haiti, I had never seen before, at least in the same way I was seeing it then.

Looking at it excited me as I began to realize the potential it had, if put together with a few other things that I was seeing for the fist time, at least like I was seeing them then.

I want you to see what I saw.  Here it is:

Kevet

It’s a washbasin and in Haiti it has a lot of uses. including being used for bathing, washing clothes, putting produce or other items in it that are for sale.  Often vendors carry it filled with their products on their heads and walk the streets selling their wares; and they also place them on tables for passersby to see and hopefully purchase what they are selling. Honestly, I see washbasins everyday and have probably purchased a couple dozen throughout the years.  But this time I saw it with new eyes or new understanding.  I saw its potential.

Then I saw something else that excited me.  Ready?
wood

Yes these are pieces of wood and screws.  But now I was seeing more than that.  I was seeing what these pieces could become and not just what they were at that time. Get ready to be excited.

Next I saw in the yard…

Table

A table made out of pieces of wood and screws.  Now, in the three mile ride from the Heartline property to my house, I can see perhaps 200 similar tables.  But this was the first time that I saw the potential of the several pieces of wood, that this table once was, and when I looked at the table my excitement increased.

Then I took the washbasin and put it on the table.

Table-Kevet

 

And then I got some bread from our bakery and put it in the washbasin

Bread in kevet

And then…

Vendor

I went outside the gate and there on the side of the street was a former Heartline discipleship student that was selling  bread out of a washbasin that was on a table.

I no longer saw just a table and washbasin. I saw hope, I saw a reason to get up in the morning, I saw food on the table, I saw kids being sent to school. I saw a man that could care for his family.  I saw a man that didn’t have to beg or steal. I saw what a few pieces of wood, a washbasin and a table could become.

Our theme for the  year 2016 is Strengthening Families and one of the most effective ways to do that is to help men and women provide for themselves and for their families.  I encourage you wherever you are, to see not only what is, but to see what can be with persistence, patience and God’s help.

We have made 10 tables and with 10 washbasins and with a credit for 140 pieces of bread for each vendor, we are seeing what can be as we endeavor to strengthen families.

 

Lets not see just what is, but lets see WHAT CAN BE!

John McHoul

www.heartlineministries.org

 

 

UPDATE ON ALEXANDRA

Posted: March 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

Restavek is a form of modern-day slavery that persists in Haiti, affecting one in every 15 children. Typically born into poor rural families, restavek children are often given to relatives or strangers. In their new homes, they become domestic slaves, performing menial tasks for no pay.

On January 28th Sheila Lynch wrote about a 12 year old restavek, named Alexandra, who is in our literacy program (Click here to read that blog). I, in this blog, want to update you on Alexandra and on the changes we are seeing in her life.

This 12 year old girl came to the Heartline literacy program and said, “I want to learn to read and write.” She also said that she wants to be a nurse. Well,  let me tell you that she said this to the right people, because we are encouraging her, the older women are showing their love and concern to her and the results can be seen.  She no longer walks head down, not making eye contact. She now walks with her head up and with a beautiful, toothy smile on her face.  She laughs easily and comes to the office regularly to visit where one of the office workers sits with her, loves on her and tells her about Jesus and his love for her.

IMG_0366

Alexandra with her stethoscope, blood pressure cuff and carrying bag. We aren’t showing her face as she is only 12 years old and feel it wouldn’t be appropriate.

Last week we had a group here from New Hampshire and they brought Alexandra a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff  and a personalized bag to carry them in. No one here  is going to say, “Alexandra, don’t be silly, you will never become a nurse” or “No way, won’t happen.” No, never, never!

Perhaps this is the first time she’s found adults that don’t treat her like a servant. We are giving her something to hold onto, to strengthen her, to encourage her. She can hold onto the love and patience shown by the literacy teacher. She can hold onto the acceptance and respect that she is given whenever she comes to Heartline. She can hold onto the affirmation and encouragement she receives. She can hold onto her dream because people are believing in her.  And, she can hold onto God, as his love and word are shared with her.

Will Alexandra become a nurse? I don’t know. I’m shooting for a doctor and my name for her is now ‘Doc.’ I do know this, that God in his wisdom has allowed her to become a part of our lives and we recognize the honor and privilege that God has bestowed on us by being a part of her life.

As I see people enter onto the Heartline property, often, I feel a surge of deep thankfulness to God that we can be a place for them where they can experience the love of God in word and in action.

Your prayers for Alexandra are very much appreciated. Against strong odds she is learning to read, write and dream.

My prayer is: Father, help us to be quick to recognize those that you bring to us that are in need of healing words, acceptance, extra attention and, of course,  your love and grace. Help us to recognize our own weaknesses and failures and to reach across and not down to those that you bring to us.  Help us, as well, to share about your great love shown to us by Jesus Christ.

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left. Matthew 19: 14,15

Want to help us help others like Alexandra? Click here to donate. Thank you for helping us make a difference here in Haiti!

John McHoul

www.heartlineministries.org

 

Finding Esther

Posted: February 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

This blog, minus the photo, was posted in 2012. Esther is now here in Haiti with a group from New Hampshire and so we thought it would be a good time to repost this blog.   The impact that she had on Beth some 44 years ago continues to bear fruit.

Face Book is a way to shamelessly promote our programs and almost daily I post pictures of adorable babies, ladies in labor and breast feeding.  Grandchildren and puppies also make appearances in all their cuteness.

IMG_0357.jpg

L-Esther R-Beth

Last week an unfamiliar name and a vaguely familiar face “friended” me and it took me a minute to recognize that beautiful face.   Tears flooded immediately – Esther!  My maid of honor from 37 years ago.   Esther was one of three women who mentored me as a new Christian.  She went the extra mile, no, many extra miles in forming my new found Christianity.  Esther would drive two towns away to pick me up for church and then return me home and act like she enjoyed it.  I was a young and silly teenager – it never occurred to me that this woman worked all day and was probably really tired.  She never acted like she was.

Then I landed in the hospital for six months after back surgery for scoliosis.  It was a hospital for crippled children and I attended school from my bed so visitors weren’t allowed all week.  Except for clergy and  Esther was a youth pastor.  Faithfully she visited me during the week when no one else could and she sweetly forced me to memorize scripture that I still know today.  Scripture that formed my new Christian identity.  Scripture that became my mindset.

Altar call was the norm at our church after the sermon.  I ran to the altar many, many times pouring out a confused, new believer soul.   It was a beautiful ritual, old time Pentecost and I miss it still.  The front of the church would be lined with hunched over backs, weeping in repentance or praising in thanks.  Esther would slip behind me and pray with me.   I could count on her.  She would often pray “God give me a tender heart”.  I barely knew what that meant but I prayed it too and God answered.  I have one.  I cry at the drop of a hat.  It’s embarrassing and I can’t control it – I lack many gifts, but I do have the gift of a tender heart and God gave it to me through the example of Esther.

I was telling John about reconnecting with Esther and he said “Did you tell her you are here because of her?”  Even he knew the impact Esther made on me and the Christian I have become because of her example.  I was a young sponge and drank in what Esther had to offer and it has borne fruit.  Who I am today is because of the examples I had many years ago.   Women that took time to mold me and invest in me.

Years later when our daughter Morgan was born she needed a regal middle name to go with her unisex first name.  John named Morgan and she is so like her dad.  I chose Esther for the middle.  Queen Esther after my darling friend who I hadn’t seen in years but stayed in my heart.  Queen Esther who found herself in terrible circumstances and rose to the occasion.   Who wouldn’t want their daughter named after a queen and after a beautiful, tender youth pastor who impacted the life of a lost teenager.

The famous quote from the book of Esther reads “for such a time as this”.  Esther had me in her sphere of influence for but a moment of my life at time when I was teachable, new and vulnerable.  She impacted my life when I didn’t even know what was happening.  I just followed her loving example of a Christian who gave to the youth around her and took an interest and went the second mile.

We lost touch.  Many years and complicated lives have separated us.  We’ve rejoiced at meeting again.  But Esther’s influence was here all the time helping to make the foundation of who I am as a Christian.

Some of us are fortunate enough to have mentors that mold us and shape us in ways that make us able to impact those around us later.  It was a window of time when I was clay to be molded and Esther stepped in for that moment.  Such a time as this.

Beth McHoul

www.heartlineministries.org

HOW HARD CAN IT BE?

Posted: February 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

This blog was published in the February 2016 issue of the Heartline e Letter. Click here to sign up to receive the next e letter

The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10

Helping is easy, except when it isn’t, and often it isn’t. Helping is easy from a distance, but not so easy close up.

We just left a meeting with two guys from the slum, Cite Soleil. They’ve come to us several times, asking if we could start a literacy class for people in their area, except it can’t be in their area, and it can’t be in Cite Soleil. It can’t be in their zone in Cite Soleil because it isn’t safe and because people from other zones can’t just freely go into a different zone.

Heartline Literacy ClassThey came to tell us that they have found a place, outside of Cite Soleil, but close enough so the people can walk to it and not have to spend money on transportation. But they have no money for the rent. This class would be to teach adults, to read and write. Imagine not being able to read a book or write a few lines or even sign your name. Imagine going through life placing an ‘X’ as your signature because you can’t write your name.

The needs here seem never ending: Housing, School, Medical, Work, Food…Heartline has been here for 26 years, not just walking alongside those in need, but fighting for them.

I believe that if we love God, then it should matter if people can read or write. It should matter if people live in abject poverty. It should matter if people can’t get quality heath care. It should matter if people can’t find work and provide for their families. It should matter if people go hungry and not by choice. It should matter that kids can’t go to school. It should matter that people don’t know Jesus.

Heartline is here because we love God, and are fighting to make a difference in the lives of people that God loves, and for whom Christ gave His life.

Your prayers, your support, your encouragement, your giving helps us help others.

Thank you for caring! Thank you for making a difference!

John McHoul

www.heartlineministries.org