This blog has been written by our son Sam and, I believe, worth sharing and worth    reading.

butler mcpherson

Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Time is of premier interest to me.  I do not mean to say that I am not a time waster and I have not made myself a disciple of Rudyard Kipling who said, “Fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.”  It might have become clear with these blogs that I am against obsession of any kind.

It is how time moves and how we interact with it that interests me.  Time seems to move like a two way conveyor belt; it slowly moves towards you and slowly moves away but it never stops.  I think about things that we once valued and now have forgotten.  Think about styles or songs or movies that were the most popular in their day and now have faded away.  Authors who were the most important of…

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ROSENA

Posted: June 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

On the morning that 50 souls died in Orlando another man went into eternity in a hospital in rural Haiti.  His second wife, Rosena, works for Heartline at the maternity center.  She lives a quiet life under the radar, ever worried that she might do something to lose her job.  She lives week to week and month to month and needs her salary to survive.  She cares for her husband’s children, her own children and some extended relatives. 

haiti_building300Her first husband was a police officer and he died when the police station collapsed to the ground in the earthquake.  His body wasn’t located for a month.  She later married a man who had also lost his first spouse.  Together they made a family.  Then he got sick.  He went from being a large man to a skeleton, he went from eating a lot to eating nothing.  He couldn’t keep anything down.  He checked into General Hospital but they went on strike -the hospital closed down.  He went to the new hospital run by Partners in Health.  He didn’t like their diagnosis so he moved on.  He tried voodoo.  He tried another hospital.  Then, on Sunday, he died.

Rosena is from a country family and they sent her to school a year or two when they could, but she says she couldn’t learn well and did not stick with it. Unfortunately Rosena never learned to read or write.  The microwave is a mystery to her and because she was not afforded everything all of us reading this have had, she cannot tell the difference between 3 minutes and 3 hours when she heats up food for a postpartum Momma.  Oh the simple chores that are denied a person who never had a chance for an education.  Most illiterate folks I know have incredible memories committing lists in their heads because a pencil or a phone would do them no good. 

School is an incredible gift – a gift Rosena missed out on. 

Life is so unfair.

While we were celebrating Troy’s birthday Rosena started her mourning.  She just got the news that her husband had died.  Through tears she asked Tara and I for rent money.  Confused, Tara asked why she needed rent money rather than funeral money.  The needs are one in the same.  She can pay rent or put the money towards a funeral which culturally is more important.  She cannot do both.  Do you pay for the living or the dead?  Here in Haiti the dead usually win hands down.  You get first priority and dibs at the cash once you die.

This dear, soft spoken, timid lady lives on the edge.  If she falls off, lots of people fall with her.  She quietly does the post-birth laundry, the dishes for all the ladies in the program, mops the floor and goes home to take care of children.  Life has never been easy for Rosena. 

Rosena cares for a lot of people who depend on her.

She is a key person at our maternity center and we appreciate her.  I think she’s too timid to believe us – or maybe it feels too risky to believe that we really truly care about her – it could just be another thing in her life she might lose.

Heartline employs lots of people like Rosena.  Precious people trying to keep a job and keep their family afloat, keep the kids fed.  If kids can go to school it’s like hitting the lottery.  They know education is invaluable.

Now Rosena has to do it alone so the kids who live in her house can have what she never got.  A book, a pencil and a classroom to sit in.

When you support Heartline Ministries and choose to send a donation each month, you support a lot of folks like Rosena. 

Please “Join the Family” by supporting us at $25 per month and help us continue to employ wonderful women like Rosena.

Beth McHoul

www.heartlineministries.org

Join the Family

I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:36

Their scrubs/jumpsuits are red or blue labeling them according to the crimes they were suspected of. Red states that the wearer is a violent offender, a murderer or a kidnapper. The blue wearers are the fighters, the thieves, common crimes in any culture. They all just looked like women to me. Doing hair, sitting in the cell staring, hands up for the bread and butter we passed through the bars.

Bread and Butter

Putting butter on the 400 pieces of bread to be given to the ladies in the prison

I have long wanted to visit the women’s prison here in Haiti. The Beltis Bakery opened that door for us. Everyone loves bread, and the overburdened prison system welcomes Heartline folks each week, bearing hundreds of pieces of bread. The Bread of Life comes too. No, wait, He was already there waiting for us to make His presence known.

We passed through the thin corridor of cells littered with water jugs and the stuff of life for the barely living. So much stuff. Makeshift clothes lines with clothes, bras, undies hanging across the crowded space. Thin mats lined the floor without room to walk. 9-10-11 women in a cell created for two. I kept focusing on counting bread and handing it through the bars while fighting a sense of claustrophobia. So many ladies in such a small space. I expected the atmosphere to be hostile, the prisoners angry but it seemed to me like most were resigned and bored. My mind went to the heat of summer and how unbearable this place must be. Panic and suffocation would surely be a constant companion.

I would like to sit with each woman and hear her story. What were the events that brought them here to this miserable place? Did a desperate event bring them here? An injustice? A lifetime of bad choices where right choices were never an option? A fight? A jealousy? A wrong place at the wrong time? Or a lifetime of prison both in and out of jail. Stories need to be heard. The hands that reach through the bars for bread are hurting, lonely, and not heard. This corridor of cells was so loud but is anyone being heard? Days could be filled just holding those hands that grasped the bars and respectfully listening. Would some ladies lie? For sure. But truth always shines forth when love and acceptance are there. When hands are held in a quest for listening.

I sat with an 8 month along pregnant girl and her small belly. She worked as a domestic and was accused of stealing money and thus landed here. The inspector told me pregnant women keep their babies with them for 6 months for breastfeeding once they are born. Born into prison, surrounded by bars and sadness. I’m thankful for the bliss of mother’s milk and the closeness with mom that gives not a care where they are.

The Heartline team is allowed to have a meeting with 20 women a week for a month. Then next month a different group of 20 will break the boredom and join in on a service. Red and blue sat on folding chairs, singing with us and praying with us. One blue gal wiped her face as tears flowed, my heart ached for her. Our team, led by Moise and Vanessa is so respectful and kind. The music was loud with clapping and waving. For a few minutes we were transported from a corner meeting room in a prison to a worship service. For a few minutes we were all free.

I asked how many were mothers. Several raised their hands and we talked about kids with aunties and grandmas. We talked about the love of Jesus and how He is there in their overcrowded cells. The justice system, like everything else in Haiti, is broken and many aren’t getting due process. But we can bring the Savior into the cell, into the misery, into the resignation. He is so very willing to go to prison and He asks His followers to show up there too. Bread is real and fills the belly, hope is real and fills the soul. I saw Jesus in prison yesterday. He’s called the Bread of Life.

Beth McHoul

http://www.heartlineministries.org

Heartline is working to Strengthen Families through job training and job creation. Click here to see how a gift of $25.00 a month can have a powerful impact on lives here in Haiti. Together we can make a difference!

 

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