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News from Furcy

Current News

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The Furcy School and Store Roofs are repaired after Hurricane Sandy damage

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A Project for Clean Water in Every Furcy Home

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New Mission House in Furcy

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Business Training Session for Furcy Store

News in 2013

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The Furcy School Roof is being repaired after Hurricane Sandy damage

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All students in Furcy School now have a hot meal, every day

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Furcy Women are empowered with New Skills for Commerce

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The New Furcy Store is set to open March 2013

 

Past Years

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Dress Down Day at Sports and Medicial Sciences Academy

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Union Brothers Concert at Nichols United Methodist Church

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Haiti Mission Partners Conference

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Celebrate Haiti Worship Time

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Union Brothers Concert

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Reflections From the College Team

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Seeds of Change

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Union Brothers Concert

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275 Attend Youth Retreat

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Haiti Visit, March 5 to 12, 2011

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2000 Meals Links of Love

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Mountains Of Hope For Haiti Plants A Seed

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Hurricane Tomas Did Not Stop Foundation Building

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Rev. Tom Vencuss report on March trip to Haiti

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Haitian Methodists, UMCOR Assess Needs

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Earthquake in Haiti: The Church Responds

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The New York Annual Conference relief effort.

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The Wethersfield United Methodist Church

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Pastors Tom and Wendy Vencuss come back from Haiti with the Exandus family.

 

The Furcy School and Store Roofs replaced after Hurricane Sandy damage
March 2013

Last fall, during storms “Isaac” and “Sandy”, the Furcy Community sustained a lot of structural damage as well as loss of crops and livestock. The roofs of the Furcy School, the Furcy Store, and the School Cook House were blown off and/or damaged. Thankfully, through the generosity of many faithful “partners” including CRECHE, Covenant World Relief, North Park Church, Haiti Response Plan, EMH, MHH, and UMCOR, there are now brand new roofs on the School, the Store, and the Cook House! There is also a new roof on the Mission House, which is being constructed and funded through the Haiti Response Plan/UMCOR Matching Funds Program and Partnership. In ways that we could not have imagined last fall, our loving God is continuing to provide and protect our friends in Furcy!

 

News from Furcy

A Project for Clean Water in every Furcy Home
March 2013

Last month, Jeff Baker from Missouri, and Bob Ford, from Texas, visited Furcy and met with the pastor and a number of other community leaders to introduce, and demonstrate, a Sawyer Water Filter. This is an easy to use method of producing clean, potable water. With a small crowd gathered in the church Jeff took a jug of water from the cistern and ran it through the filter system. Within several minutes he had filled his water jug and was drinking clean water. Jeff and Bob will be back in May with additional filters to do a more formal instruction and to train community members in the use of the filters. In a country where the high majority of people do not have access to clean water and, where waterborne illnesses contribute highly to medical concerns, this will be a great addition to the Furcy community.

 

News from Furcy

New Mission House in Furcy
March 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mountains of Hope teams have been working on the new Mission House in the village of Furcy. The roof is on and the local workers will begin doing the finish work. We are hoping that the May "Mountains" team will be the first to use it for their accomodation!

 

News from Furcy

Business Training Session for Furcy Store
March 2013

In preparation for the opening of the new Furcy Store, 4 members of the Furcy Community, (Pastor Ezaus, Pastor Elise, Dumerise Tilo Ismaye, and the new Store Manager, Deristel Josaphat) attended an EMH/UMCOR Agricultural Boutique Training on March 19 and 20, 2013. It was held on the Freres Campus at Delmas 95 and was attended by about 20 participants, including Pastor Wendy. The training was excellent and offered many practical ideas for managing and operating an Agricultural Boutique, allowed opportunities for good discussion, and provided relevant materials for participants to use. We are thankful for this training as we look forward to the “April Opening” of the Furcy Store!

 

News from Furcy

The Furcy School Roof is repaired after hurricane damage
January 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During Hurricane Sandy last fall the roof was “lifted “off the Furcy School, leaving the students and teachers without a covering. For the past several months, “temporary” tarps have replaced the roof and, more recently, two “colorful” parachutes are providing sun and rain protection. Thankfully, it has not been the rainy season! An urgent plea went out to help repair the roof and, as often happens, God answered our prayers. A “Chicago Connection” (who actually built the Furcy School in the early 1980’s) has been reestablished and has offered funding, along with CRECHE in Haiti and Covenant World Relief. Two February 2013 VIM Teams and the Furcy Community are currently replacing the roof (with metal trusses and hurricane straps) and the children and teachers will now be protected!

 

News from Furcy

Hot Meals and Scholarships in Furcy School
January 2013

All 150 children at the Furcy School are now receiving 5 Hot Meals per week at the School! UMCOR/EMH is providing meals 3 days per week and “Mountains of Hope for Haiti” is providing meals 2 days per week. UMCOR/EMH has also provided a beautiful propane stove and has offered free propane for one year! We are so thankful the children are being fed daily!

For the past few years, “Mountains of Hope for Haiti” has provided scholarships for 45 children at the Furcy School. Thanks to the generosity of the November 2012 MHH Teams and personal donations from the North Park Covenant Church in Chicago, Illinois and Evergreen UMC in Evergreen, Colorado, we are now providing scholarships for over 60 children (out of the 150 enrolled) at the Furcy School. This is wonderful, as not only are many children receiving an Education, they are also receiving a Hot Meal five days/week!

 

News from Furcy

Furcy Women are empowered with New Skills for Commerce
January 2013

For the past several years, women and girls on visiting MHH Teams have been getting together for a “Women’s Gathering” with the Furcy Women. There are typically 50 or 60 women who attend the “Gatherings” which offer a short Bible Study, a time for sharing, singing, and sometimes dancing! This is also a time when the women on the visiting MHH Teams have passed out “multitudes” of yarn, embroidery floss, knitting needles, crochet hooks, and sewing kits to the Furcy Women. After lots of practice, the Furcy Women have begun to give their handmade items to the MHH Teams who take them back to the United States to sell. For the first time, in January 2013, the MHH Teams were able to reimburse the Furcy Women $400 for their handmade products! We are encouraging the Furcy Women to sell their items in Haiti as well. Out of the “Women’s Gatherings” also came the idea of sewing. Through the generosity of several NYAC Methodist Churches, MHH was able to purchase 4 treadle sewing machines and the November 2012 Teams provided a Sewing Teacher and Sewing Classes! The November Teams also left an abundance of materials for Jewelry Making knowing there are some very skilled, creative, and talented ladies in the Furcy Community! We are very excited about these new ventures for the lovely ladies of Furcy!

 

News from Furcy

Opening the New Furcy Store
March 2013

The Furcy Community is very excited about the March 2013 “Opening” of the new Store that will bring to the Furcy community and surrounding areas a local source to the Community for seed, fertilizer, and tools!

MHH Teams, other VIM Teams, and the Furcy Community have collaboratively built the Store, with financial support from VIM Team contributions, UMCOR Matching Funds and the EMH (Haiti United Methodist Church). The Furcy “Store Committee” created a Preliminary Business Plan for the operation of the Store and chose Deristel Josaphat, to be the new Store Manager. Josaphat will continue his Managerial Training through an UMCOR Business Training Program . MHH has provided startup money and UMCOR will cover transportation costs for the initial purchase of supplies. We are all looking forward to the opportunities for growth and sustainability that the Furcy Store will provide!

 

News from Furcy

Dress Down Day at Sports and Medical Sciences Academy
May 25, 2012

On Friday, May 25, 2012, Sport and Medical Sciences Academy, SMSA, High Schoolers will pay $3 to “dress down”  so children in Haiti can dress up.  High Schoolers pay $3 to relieve uniform rules for a Friday dress down day to support MoHH.  Hot lunches and uniforms is one of the many provisions MoHH funds.

 

News from Furcy

Union Brothers Concert at Nichols United Methodist Church

The Union Brothers Concert at Nichols Church, in Trumbull, Connecticut, on May 6, was successful, joyful, and inspiring! A beautiful performance was enjoyed by members from several NYAC churches. "

 

 

News from Furcy

Haiti Mission Partners Conference
May 17-19, 2012

Tom and Wendy Vencuss will participate in the "Haiti Mission Partners Conference" in Orlando, Florida, May 17-19, 2012.  The purpose of the Conference is for GBGM, UMCOR, VIM, and EMH to "Partner" while strategizing, planning, and creating a vision for Haiti's future.  About 80 people are expected to attend. 

 

News from Furcy

Celebrate Haiti Worship Time
Sunday, May 20, 2012 

There will be a "Celebrate Haiti Worship Time" at the United Methodist Church in Huntington - 180 West Neck Road Huntington, NY 11743, on Sunday, May 20, 2012.  A very special thank you to Jill Wilson, from Bristol UMC, who will represent Mountains of Hope for Haiti.

 

News from Furcy

Union Brothers Concert
May 6, 2012

 

News from Furcy

Union Brothers Concert
May 22, 2011

 

News from Furcy

275 Attend Youth Retreat

During the week of Ash Wednesday, 275 young people attended the 2011 annual Alliance des jeunes baptistes conservatricte de l’ouest (AJBCO) Retreat. In Haiti, this week is known as Carnival and is typically a time of temptation, partying and carousing. Choosing this week for the Retreat provides a great opportunity to minister to youth from ages 14 to 25 and provides a safe place for them to “party” in a different way, praising our Lord!

Jude Exantus is the Advisor of this Association and has participated in this Retreat since he was seven years old. The Retreat is a success due to the help of many volunteers and contributors.

This year, five days were spent at the Campus on the beach. The youth had fun in this year’s event titled “Using the Talent the LORD Has Given You”. The youth were fed three meals a day and participated in Bible studies, workshops, contests, sporting events and much more. The agenda included several guest speakers:
 

  • Jacqueline Labrom, the owner of a travel agency, spoke about business.

  • A Haitian Pastor taught about using the gifts God has given to us.

  • Pastor Wendy Vencuss and JR Dowd from WUMC, Professor Thomas Craemer of the University of Connecticut (UCONN) shared their experiences of Haiti.

 

Jude Exantus reflected upon the Retreat and expressed his gratitude toward the many contributors: “Like myself, many of the young adults started coming to the Retreat when they were small children and continue to come as often as possible. The overall experience has been a blessing and this year seeing the talents of the youth was amazing! Once again, thanks to the generous support of many contributors of the Haitian Youth Retreat. May God bless you.”

 

News from Furcy

Haiti Visit
March 5 to 12, 2011

Jude Exantus, J.R.Dowd, Thomas Craemer and Wendy Vencuss had a very good trip to Haiti even though they were not on an official VIM Work Team this time. Rather, this was more of a visit and exploratory trip. It was great to see Pastor Tom Vencuss and all the good work that he and the staff are involved in. It was also exciting to see how many teams are involved in the Disaster Response Relief efforts there!

During our visit, Jude Exantus spent six of the days and nights leading a Youth Retreat for 300 youth in the St. Marc area. J.R., Thomas and Wendy visited the camp and it was amazing to see so many Haitian youth celebrating their faith and having lots of fun! At the end of the week Jude was also able to have some “quality” time with his family, as he had not been able to travel to Haiti since the earthquake last year.

J.R., Thomas and Wendy found lots of things to do around the Methodist Guest House in Petionville. They inventoried medical supplies, delivered them to Grace Hospital, helped clean up the Guest House property and visited with many team members. J.R. has been to Haiti five times, so he felt right at home. This was Professor Thomas Craemer’s first trip to Haiti and he was a tremendous asset to the group. Thomas teaches at UCOCNN and will definitely be coming up with some plans to link UCONN and Haiti!

J.R., Thomas and Wendy along with Tom Vencuss and a Haitian engineer were able to visit Furcy. They saw the pastors, their wives and some other familiar faces. The Clinic and School were closed because it was Carnival Week, but it was still very good to be there. The Church has been recently painted and looked beautiful. The latrines at the school are finished. The fields have been planted and things are growing! They met Ismay’s new bride, Isabelle, and visited their new home which is totally tiled and looking nice!

There are plans to “shore up” the School Cook House. The engineer will be drawing up plans and estimates for a Furcy store/depot (to be built on property close to the Church) and also plans for a small mission house (to be built on the current cook house location), so that is exciting!

At the Guest House, the team visited with Montas Joseph and his wife, Madame Lulu and her husband and all the other wonderful drivers, cooks and interpreters. Tom and Wendy had a great visit with Ishmael in his new home in Duplan.

All in all, it was a great trip and exciting to see all that is happening in Haiti. In the midst of the “struggles” there were “signs of hope” in many places. It is always a privilege and a blessing to walk alongside our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

 

News from Furcy

2000 Meals-Links of Love
April 22, 2011


The church school children of the United Methodist Church of Huntington-Cold Spring Harbor, NY recently celebrated reaching the $1000 milestone in the Make a Joyful Noise: Coins for Haiti effort. The program which began the last week of September 2010 is a “by children, for children” weekly collection of spare change from the congregation to purchase hot meals for their counterparts at the Mountains of Hope Methodist Mission in Haiti. Their celebration included unfurling a paper chain with one link for every meal they have been able to donate. That’s 2000 links … so far!

 

(Pictures and Article from The Vision, courtesy of Lyn Dodillet)

 

News from Furcy

Mountains Of Hope For Haiti Plants A Seed
November, 2010

Mountains of Hope for Haiti answered God’s call to help the people of Furcy after four fall hurricanes in 2008 took the crops and what little livestock the people had. The Methodist Church, in cooperation with Mountains of Hope, began a Farmer’s Association providing emergency food, seed and fertilizer. From those few starter seeds, the Farmer’s Association has grown to more than 61 farmers.

Because the village is situated on the side of a mountain, growing crops is a challenge. Terraced gardens are covering the landscape producing food to feed the village of Furcy and the local area. Cabbage, rice and beans are the staples of the Haitian diet and now the farmers are able to provide more food to sustain the village and to take their excess to market.

During a recent mission trip in November 2010, the team held a Farmers Co-Op Meeting. The farmers were given more seeds to help them grow and sustain their mountainside gardens. The loving gift of food was delivered from one Christian family to another.

The program seems to be working. One volunteer who has visited Furcy many times noted the change in children. Signs of malnutrition and starvation were dwindling. While much help is still needed for the Haitian people, much progress has been made and results are visible in the faces of the children.

 

News from Furcy

Hurricane Tomas Did Not Stop Foundation Building
November, 2010

As Hurricane Tomas was about to make landfall in Port Au Prince, Haiti, a team of 10 brave volunteers were arriving at the Guest House. Their intended destination was Furcy, Haiti to continue the work for MHH.

Slightly delayed in their arrival at Furcy due to the rain, the team finally made it, bearing suitcases of supplies for the school children and clinic. The entourage was greeted by the villagers with warm smiles and hugs for friends who were returning for another week of sharing with our brothers and sisters. Fortunately, the locals are more accustomed to the local terrain and were able to provide much needed assistance to the team as they unloaded more than 30 suitcases, countless boxes of food and supplies, and bottles of water from the van. And so, the trek began up and down the steep hills, which were slick with mud, to the village of Furcy high in the Haitian Mountains.

The first order of business was Church as the team arrived just before services on Sunday. Quickly changing from their muddy clothes from the journey, the team joined the villagers for worship service. Volunteers noted the enthusiasm of the Haitian people who were dressed in their finest clothes and joyfully worshiped God. Imagine the most impoverished country in the world singing and praising God!

For the next four days the team focused their attention on the people of Furcy. A latrine had been dug and the first order of business was to work on the foundation. Teamed with the villagers, the volunteers carried rocks and helped mix cement for the site. By the end of their labors they left behind a completed foundation, which will become a new latrine for the school children.

As has become the custom, the team held a two-day mini Vacation Bible School for the children. They shared some of their favorite stories from the Bible including David and Goliath, acting out the story, with the aid of an interpreter. Each day they provided a meal of rice, beans and chicken to more than 175 children. This is perhaps all they would have eaten that day.

As with any Vacation Bible School, there was singing – lots of singing. One of the volunteers shared how touched she was with the enthusiasm the children and adults demonstrated in sharing God’s word through music. Singing at the top of their lungs in perfect harmony, they had God’s house rockin’! Lulu, the team's cook, was so caught up in the singing, she had to be reminded to dish up the food for the kids.

The volunteers visited with the children in their classrooms,  delivered health kits and discussed proper hygiene and teeth brushing. One activity included tracing the hands of children so they could be brought back to a Sunday School in CT as a way of connecting Haitian children with Americans.

The school was in need of a new basketball hoop. Jean Claude, one of the interpreters, headed off to town to purchase the metal pole needed for the project. The 15 foot metal pole, along with 5 gallons of water, a 50lb bag of rice and two people arrived by motorcycle several hours later. The next day the team finished digging a hole and raised the new basketball hoop for the children.

Spending time playing with the children helped develop a human connection beyond site work. We played games including a soccer game in a cow pasture, being careful where we stepped.

The clinic was opened two days so that team members could  help. Furcy has been blessed with a new doctor to work with Mary Marte, the clinic nurse. The nurse on the mission team worked with the local medical staff, assisted with patients and helped dispense much needed medicine.

Sadly, after several days, it was time to leave. Similar to our arrival, the villagers helped the volunteer team back up the mountain. The suitcases were much lighter; supplies and belongings were left behind. Hearts were heavy.

Saying good-bye is never easy. But, for many volunteers, it’s not  good-bye ...... it's more like “till we meet again.”

You don't need to go to Furcy to help.  Please consider a donation to Mountains of Hope for Haiti today.

 

News from Furcy

March Trip Report

By Rev. Tom Vencuss

Wethersfield UMC.

President, Mountains of Hope for Haiti

March 31, 2010

 

General Observations

The country itself is slowly getting back together, but it is a mess. There are many collapsed buildings, homes, and businesses that have not yet been touched, with, I imagine, many persons still unaccounted for.  

As you know, the Palace, National Cathedral, Justice Building, and many other government buildings are gone. Trinity Episcopal Church (the church with the large beautiful murals in PAP), including the school and gift shop is gone. The large Methodist Church in PAP where Pastor Paul’s ceremony took place experienced some cracks but is essentially okay. The large elementary school next to it is gone, and the large secondary school (College Bird) right next to it, is severely compromised. This, in particular, has been a significant source of income for the MCH.   

Freres School is okay—they have reinforced a few overhangs and replaced some of the brick windows with metal but for all intents and purposes the school, church, and GH are stable (except for the surrounding walls adjacent to the GH which collapsed).

School has not officially started and the government seem to be shooting for a target date of early April. Some church related schools are holding classes outside, under tents, to avoid losing more students.   

As you have seen on many news reports, there are tent cities all over the city and surrounding areas. The basketball court at the GH is filled with tents as is just about every open dirt space. It will be a nightmare when the rains pick up because there is no place for the water to go. Food and water are scarce and sanitation a real problem.

UN, US-AID, and other international organizations are present to provide emergency rations but food and water lines often stretch a quarter mile easily. Other supplies are readily available from international stores but prices have come up and are beyond the ability of most to afford.

The airport is still compromised but they have set up entry and departure terminals at either end—it just takes a lot longer to enter and exit.

I met a medical team from the states that has a “traveling clinic” and they, as you might expect, are not seeing earthquake related physical trauma but rather chronic routine issues such as our Clinic sees. They did have many patients with psychological trauma and grief. They had several pastors on had who helped with this.

There is, as you would imagine, a deep sense of sadness and grief over the country and yet in the midst of it all, life has gone on. You see parents braiding the hair of children, men being shaved, people cooking, children playing, buying, selling, all amazing, all things considered.

Furcy

I traveled to Furcy with a small group of pastors and friends, some of whom have not been to Furcy in many years. It was a fun day.

The Clinic is fine—a few spider cracks but nothing significant. The Clinic was up and running—our nurse, Marie Marte, was there as was the doctor. There were about 30 people, mostly women and children waiting for care. And, many of our friends were present selling their food items.   

The Church has a few dislodged blocks (mostly around door jambs, windows) and a few cracks but again, nothing terribly significant. The School is fine and the cookhouse at the school is the same, but requiring significant repair. The Principal’s house, which wasn’t solid to begin with, has been fully compromised and needs to be removed. He is living in the Clinic and has asked for wood to build a room in the village cook house for his lodging.

Though schools are not officially open, there was one class at the school with about 40 students and two teachers.

The Farmer’s Association has the same number of participants (about 60) and they said they have seed and fertilizer for the next planting season.

The Clinic Administrator indicated a need for more meds. There had been an influx of people to the Clinic following the earthquake and the doctor does offer a “traveling Clinic” to those who cannot walk to the facility.

Guest House

The GH is up and running. Again, food and water are available but more expensive and there are stores available. Everyone there is okay and asked to be remembered. 

A number of people are living in the vans on the property. Some are drivers and interpreters who lost their homes and they just don’t have any place to go. Some others are living in tents. I spoke with two of our interpreters, Jean Claude and Joseph, who were caught in a building collapse. They survived and are well, although Jean Claude continues to experience neck problems. 

There were two teams there, a Baptist traveling medical team, and a Methodist group from Illinois who have a project near Carrefour. They were there to check in on their mission sit.   

Future Teams and Plans

Travel: there is no problem getting in and out of the country, nor getting around, provided that vehicles are available. The GH has three main vehicles and a smaller Montero.

Food and Water: again, no problem except for increased costs.

Future Plans: There was an UMCOR/NGO Consultant present at the Guest House. His role is to serve as a liaison to the other NGOs, government agencies and help develop a plan for UMCOR and VIM for their future work. There are plans to hire several persons to oversee the coordination of relief/recovery efforts, work with teams, and generally organize the UM response.  

Many people are asking, what can we do? Right now, we are doing what we can do. We have people on the ground putting things in place, making arrangements and generally organizing a plan for future VIM Teams. From my perspective, at this point there is little that the average VIM Team can do directly in regard to the disaster. We will need to wait until we hear some updated information and plans from Greg Forrester (our Jurisdictional VIM Coordinator) and UMCOR to fully define needed teams: i.e., medical, dental, educational, VBS-type, etc..

A difference I described between this situation and something like the Gulf Coast is the fact that many on the Gulf left before, during and after Katrina—and there was a great need for self-sustained volunteers to do the short and long-term recovery work. In Haiti, there are more than enough people there to do much of the removal work. However, safety, regarding the dismantling of buildings and homes, and the skills necessary to repair and rebuild are significant issues. In many cases these are beyond the skills of the average VIM team. 

In the meantime we will continue to train and orient people through our ERT trainings and Haiti orientation sessions, and when the time comes begin to assemble teams. One of the things we must remember is that this situation will be with us for a long time. The early teams will be selected from those with particular skills, physical abilities, and prior Haiti/international mission experience.

It is our hope to continue our work in Furcy. Mountains of Hope for Haiti, our Conference mission program, is continuing to monitor the situation in Furcy and will work within the overall response plan to continue our commitment to the village and people of Furcy.  

Our Conference Mission leadership, and representatives from Disaster Response, Volunteers in Mission and Mountains of Hope, will continue to work on and advise our response.

It goes without saying that we should all continue to pray for the people of Haiti, educate ourselves about the crisis and ways to help, and to support our UMCOR and Conference  initiatives.

A Prayer for the People of Haiti

Out of the depths we cry to you, O God. We cry to you for our Haitian sisters and brothers. We thank you for upholding them in their suffering. Give them continuing strength and comfort. Give us love and courage to stand with them and work with them as they struggle for healing in the midst of tragedy. Keep us committed to the truth and empower us with your Spirit of love. We trust in your continuing mercy as we bring to you our own desire to be in solidarity with our Haitian brothers and sisters.

 “O L’espri Sen, desann sou nou; nou gen yon misyon pou Ayiti.”

O Holy Spirit, descend on us; we  have a mission for Haiti. Amen.

In faith,

Tom

 

News from Furcy

Haitian Methodists, UMCOR Assess Needs

By LINDA BLOOM

Printed with permission from Good News Magazine

 

The Methodist Church in Haiti (MCH) and United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) are identifying suitable projects and assignments for volunteer teams wishing to assist with earthquake recovery in Haiti. Both groups are asking volunteers to delay their arrival in Haiti until those assessments are complete.

Evaluation in the six church circuits most affected by the earthquake are being made to determine the extent of the damage in Church communities and beyond, according to the Rev. Gesner Paul , President of the Methodist Church in Haiti. “Suitable projects and assignments for volunteer teams wishing to contribute to the recovery effort will not be identified until this process is complete,” he wrote in a January 28 letter to the United Methodist Church.

Pastor Paul estimates work teams for priority projects probably could schedule trips for late March and April, once the emergency relief and debris-removal phase is completed. Rehabilitation work also needs to be completed at the Methodist Guest House in Petionville before the building can host volunteer teams again.

Pastor Paul expressed deep gratitude for the outpouring of love and support  from United Methodists. “You have kept us in your prayers and we are grateful. You  have sent donations through the United Methodist Committee on Relief. We thank you for your generosity. You have expressed your selfless interest in volunteering your time to come to Haiti to help with the recovery effort and we look forward to welcoming you.”

Once areas for relief and rehabilitation are prioritized, United Methodist Volunteers in Mission “will be integral in the long –term recovery of the churches and communities in Haiti, and available to come and help in meaningful ways,” he wrote.

UMCOR Executive Melissa Crutchfield expects that medical personnel, structural engineers, and architects will be among the skilled volunteers needed at the beginning of the recovery process. Debris removal must be done before rebuilding can begin and UMCOR and the Methodist Church in Haiti are among the groups organizing cleanup teams of local citizens in “cash for-work” programs. Structural engineers and architects are among the skilled volunteers who can contribute to what must likely will be a national rebuilding plan, Crutchfield points out. “It’s critical that we have some experts to lay solid foundation,” she says.

In time, however, many types of volunteers can partner with the Methodist Church in Haiti in both spiritual and practical ways through the earthquake-recovery period. “ I believe there’s an opportunity for volunteers in the longer term for rebuilding not only the church structures but the church community,” Crutchfield said.

 

News from Furcy

Pastors Tom and Wendy Vencuss come back from Haiti with the Exandus family

WETHERSFIELD

Wethersfield Family Gives Haitian Family Shelter In Connecticut

By REGINE LABOSSIERE

The Hartford Courant

January 21, 2010

 

A lot can happen in 15 seconds. Even more can happen in four days.

At about 4 p.m. on Jan. 12, Jude Exantus had just gotten off the phone with Wendy Vencuss, a pastor from Wethersfield United Methodist Church who was visiting Haiti. The friends hadn't seen each other in a while and planned to meet a few hours later.

Exantus was in downtown Port-au-Prince, on his way home, and had stopped at a gas station for a 5-gallon bottle of water. Fifteen seconds later, the air was so white with dust, he couldn't see more than a few feet in front of him.

Buildings around him had collapsed, including a school behind the gas station. Children, some with broken bones, were jumping from the school onto the roof of the gas station, onto the roofs of cars, onto the ground, screaming in pain and for help.

"I could feel the ground come up, then back down, then the ground moving back and forth. I was watching houses coming down while it was happening," Exantus recalled Wednesday.

Miles away, in Pétionville, a section of the capital city, Vencuss and her husband, Tom, also a pastor at the Wethersfield church, were standing outside the Methodist mission house talking with a few other people. The ground shook violently. The protective wall surrounding the guest house shattered. The house next door, with people inside, crumbled. Water was being thrown from their swimming pool. Tom Vencuss, a volunteer emergency medical technician, walked around with a stethoscope around his neck to let people know he could provide medical help. The mission house set up triage with the limited supplies available.

A week later, Exantus, his wife, Claudia, and their two children sat in the Vencusses' Wethersfield living room.

"We're home with our family, but also we have another family with us," Wendy Vencuss said. "I'm just thankful they're here."

The Vencusses met Exantus in 2002 when they went to Haiti to organize mission work. Exantus, who was born and raised there, worked as their translator. The Vencusses have since become close with Exantus, his wife, and their children, Jude, 4, and Ciarra, 2. The Haitian family has stayed with the Wethersfield couple for months at a time.

When Exantus heard that Americans were being evacuated, he asked the Vencusses if they would take their children back with them, since they were born in the U.S. and are American citizens.

Jude and Claudia Exantus, who have tourist visas to the U.S., went to the airport with the Vencusses early Thursday morning, Jan. 14, just in case the children weren't allowed on the plane. Lucky for them, not only were their children allowed on the plane, but so were they. They were taken by the U.S. Coast Guard to the Dominican Republic, and then they flew on commercial airlines to Puerto Rico and New York. Four days after the earthquake, they arrived at the Vencusses' home.

"It's a miracle we all got on the same plane," Wendy Vencuss said.

Jude Exantus said being away from his home during a time of extreme need is difficult for him and his wife.

"It's just getting harder and harder, especially since every time you speak to someone and they tell you about someone who died. [But] I think we did what was right for our kids," he said.

Now that they're all in the U.S., they have a few goals. Jude and Claudia Exantus would like to get permanent resident status so they can raise their children in American schools. In the meantime, they plan to return to Haiti to be with their families and help in the relief efforts.

Wethersfield United Methodist Church has created a fund, called Haiti Home Relief, to help the Exantus family while they're in the U.S. They had gone to the airport with only the clothes they were wearing and a small bag of their children's things.

Many church families have dropped off clothes and food or taken them shopping. The family will move into a friend's house in Cromwell Saturday. Jude Exantus, who regularly gives speeches about Haiti when he visits the U.S., would like to do that again during this stay. He also is planning a charity concert with his singing group, the Union Brothers Singers, made up of about a dozen of his family members, some of whom are in New York.Tom Vencuss, who is the disaster relief coordinator for the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, is raising money and organizing a relief trip back to Haiti.

"For me, it's a recommitment to the people of Haiti," he said. "To know that someone knows them, cares about them and remembers them is important."

•For more information about Wethersfield United Methodist Church's Mountains of Hope for Haiti relief campaign and Haiti Home Relief, visit wethersfieldchurch.org.

 

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