Delegation Member Sends Update from Haiti

Jeff Boshart (top left in red hat) joins a Church of the Brethren delegation in a visit to one of the Brethren-built homes in Haiti. In the background is a house in Port-au-Prince built by Brethren Disaster Ministries for the widow of a Haitian Brethren pastor–found in good shape while nearby houses had collapsed in the earthquake. Boshart coordinates the Brethren building project in Haiti that has been rebuilding houses destroyed by the hurricanes and tropical storms of 2008.

Church of the Brethren Newsline
Jan. 28, 2010

Jeff Boshart, a member of the Church of the Brethren delegation currently in Haiti representing the US church, has sent updated information. Boshart coordinates the Brethren Disaster Ministries hurricane rebuilding program in Haiti, and has been visiting the country with a group that also includes Ludovic St. Fleur, coordinator of the Church of the Brethren mission in Haiti, and Klebert Exceus, Haiti consultant to Brethren Disaster Ministries.

The group is accompanied by Haitian Brethren pastor Jean Bily Telfort, who serves as general secretary of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren). Brethren Disaster Ministries executive Roy Winter returned to the US on Monday (his last journal entries from Haiti appeared in the Newsline Update of Tuesday, Jan. 26–read it online at www.brethren.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=10181 ).

Earlier this week the delegation group left the Port-au-Prince area to visit Haitian Brethren in other parts of the country, and to inspect the homes that have been built by Brethren Disaster Ministries following the four hurricanes and tropical storms that hit Haiti in 2008.

“I’m now in the Central Plateau after visiting displaced Brethren in the northwest,” Boshart reported yesterday. “We arrived here in Bohoc, near Pignon, in the central plateau to a place where Peggy (Boshart) and I met and later worked with a school doing gardening projects with children in the community. There is now a Church of the Brethren church plant in this community which was started last year by a seminary student, Georges, who was one of those kids who planted trees and vegetables with us. The worship leader is a young woman, Fabnise, who was also worked with us on many of our projects.

“The worship was tremendous. We were first treated to a fabulous meal which was served to the nearly 100 people in attendance. The occasion for this feast? Our presence among them and their excitement at being part of the Church of the Brethren.”

The worship service was held under sheets and tarpaulins stretched between a cluster of trees, with a generator providing power for musicians and lights. “Choir after choir came forward to sing. We sang and danced and praised God. It was a worship of praise and healing,” Boshart wrote.

“Each one in our delegation was asked to share a few words. I shared a brief meditation on Mark 4 and the parable of the sower. Peggy and I had no idea that nearly 10 years ago when we were sowing seeds with children in the school gardens, that we were sowing the seeds of a church. What a priviledge to see these young people now. Not all of the children we invested in are still with us. Some have left to search for a better life in the DR and one even in the US. One died while still a teenager of an undiagnosed illness. One died in the earthquake. We worshiped and we mourned, and we rejoiced in what is good.”

Earlier in the day, Boshart and pastor Telfort visited with several families in the community who had lost relatives in the earthquake. “The stories were heartwrenching,” Boshart wrote. “Many of the best and brightest had moved to Port-au-Prince. Four university students from this small village were living in a house in Port-au-Prince which collapsed, killing all of them. One of them was the same age as Pastor Georges and one of his very best friends. This same student was the older brother of Fabnise, our worship leader.”

The delegation group has visited with recipients of homes built by Brethren Disaster Ministries in the city of Gonaïves and elsewhere. “They are so so thankful for their homes,” Boshart said.

The Brethren-built homes are in good shape, according to reports. One home built in Port-au-Prince for the widow of a Haitian Brethren pastor has survived the earthquake well, while buildings around it collapsed. Another of the brand-new homes built by Brethren Disaster Ministries–so new it is described by Boshart as “not yet painted”–is already sheltering two Port-au-Prince families from the Delmas 3 congregation of Eglise des Freres Haitiens, who are living there with the new homeowners.

This week the delegation also visited programs in northwest Haiti that receive sponsorship from the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund, and they are “going pretty well,” he reported earlier this week.

The hurricane rebuilding work continues, Boshart wrote. During their visit, the delegation met with a representative of an organization that will work alongside the community of new home recipients to dig a well. The organization will also “set up a committee to collect monthly fees, so that when new parts are needed there will be a fund already in place,” Boshart wrote.

In addition, the delegation this week received word from Haitian Brethren leaders in Port-au-Prince that a Brethren-sponsored feeding program with children “is off to a good start.”

“We’ll return there tomorrow to see how things have or have not changed in the few days we’ve been out of the city,” Boshart concluded in yesterday’s report. “Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.”

For more reports from the delegation, go to www.brethren.org/HaitiEarthquake  to find links to a Haiti blog and video of Brethren Disaster Ministries executive Roy Winter reporting on the situation in Haiti.

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