Filed under Missions

Monday in Jeremie

Blog Post By: Jenny Neely

Monday morning:
We started out with a devotion from one of the youth from The Refuge church in Murfreesboro, Steven. He is a very vivacious, lively guy who has made many Haitian children laugh already!  He read from Proverbs 3:5-8 and gave testimony on how the Lord called him to go on this trip. There were times when he wasn’t sure God was confirming the call due to the cost of the trip, but Steven trusted anyway and the Lord provided the way!  This was a great devotion for us, because we tried our best not to have any expectations as we would start our VBS that morning. We truly wanted God to lead and not have any agendas.

When we arrived at the orphanage, many children were eagerly awaiting our arrival. Dou Dou yelled at them from inside our truck to move out of the way as the bus came through.  We started out with praise and worship, not knowing if we would have electrical power. Praise the Lord we did!  We sang “Peace, Love, & Worship,” the theme song from last year’s kids’ camp. It is a favorite with the Haitian kids, too!  We then sang two songs that we had interpreted 2 years ago: “Allelu/Praise Ye the Lord” and “This Little Light of Mine.” The kids that have been here since the beginning remembered both songs! In fact, when I arrived Saturday, some of the kids greeted me by singing “This Little Light of Mine” which made made my day!

After singing the two songs in Haitian Creole, we introduced “Experience You,” this year’s kids’ camp theme song and theme to our VBS curriculum. We will teach the kids how God speaks to them through His Word, prayer, and through others.

“Experience You”
Oh Lord I’ll pray. Oh, yes I’ll pray,
And I will read the words You say.
And I will go where You are, too.
Oh, God I want to experience You
Oh, God I want to experience You.

Trevis led the Bible lesson,which was from Hebrews 4:12a, “The word of God is living and active.  It is sharper than any sword that has two edges.”

The kids enjoyed a craft of scratch pads, writing the verse with a stylus. Afterwars, they enjoyed a snack of granola bars, also known as “bon bons.”

After lunch, we headed to the local church close to the guest house where we taught VBS to the local village children. We had about 50 show up!  But my favorite part in that was that our older orphans who sang in the Bondye Bel video were driven to the site to meet us!  I was encouraged to ask a couple of the girls to help lead music.  I picked Cherline and Merline.  They were nervous at first but warmed up quickly! This was specifically to give them a chance at leadership.  After we sang our VBS songs, the rest of the kids from the orphanage came up to sing Bondye Bel and a couple other songs they learned.  They did a fabulous job, and actually put on their Sunday church clothes for the occasion.  We were so proud of them!

Trevis taught the lesson, and we had plenty scratch pads for them to enjoy a craft. Afterward, we put some praise music on, got out the frisbees and soccer balls and enjoyed some recreation!

Later that evening, we returned to the orphanage to watch “The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” The kids had seen the first two movies and were eager to see the third one!  We watched the movie on one of the side walls of the church, and the kids did all the work moving the pews to get ready. The smaller children clung to our sides, sat in laps, and many of them fell asleep!  (We started rather late!). The kids would identify a character all at once by saying the names, but an appearance by Aslan brought on applause every time!  It was a GREAT day in Jeremie! Praise the Lord!

The Jeremie 15

Blog Post by: Trevis Smith

First day began with a “Haitian wait” at the airport as we awaited our flight to Jeremie.  We were there with one other mission team traveling to Jeremie (with another organization) and only one plane available and operational.  After several hours, we departed to our final destination.   Upon arriving at the orphanage, on cue, the kids began to chose us as if claiming us for their own.  The ones who had been before (myself and Jenny Neeley only) were quickly met with the ones in the past who had connected with us prior.  I heard my name called from several different directions, seemingly everyone knew who I was and either remembered me from past trips, or heard the first few call my name and then echoed it over and over.  It was a moment I will never forget, imagining this is what it would be like as I entered Heaven’s sanctuary, with everyone knowing and calling my name as if they had been anticipating my arrival for years.

After playing for several hours with the kids, most of us had meandered our way out of the sun, down across the now concreted bridge and onto the porch of one of the main dorms.  As we sat with “our” children, allowing them to comb our hair, lay in our laps, and just generally receive attention not otherwise reserved for them in their present home, spontaneously one of the older girls started to sing.  Softly at first, almost to herself, but with enough emphasis to warrant even the most tight lipped child of the group to understand what was expected of them.  One by one, tens by tens, they joined in unison singing a song that while not completely understood by those of us not familiar with the Creole language, echoed an angelic praise to our Lord and Savior.  “Merci Jesu” they sang, “Merci Jesu.”  As the first song of praise dwindled to an obvious end, the same lovely older girl began to pray, lifting her hands up to the Heavens, all the while seemingly praying over our group with fervent love and passion.  At this moment, Peter, one of the young boys I had befriended on my first trip, reached over and laid his hands on me.  And while I did not fully understand what he was praying, I did hear Jesus, and my name being spoken with the French/Creole “Merci” intertwined.  It was enough to bring the toughest of men to tears, as these children with no earthly parents, living in an orphanage in one of the poorest countries in the entire world, ask their Lord and personal Savior to help you, and to Thank God for you and your team.

As God told Joshua to ask the children of Israel to stack up stones in remembrance of what He has done, so that as future generations ask what the stones are for, they can be reminded of how God allowed them to cross the Jordan river; in that same spirit I asked our team to remember this moment in time, stack our own stones of remembrance, be reminded of what God is doing in these children’s lives, as well as what He is doing in our own lives here this week.  So that when we come home and we can share with others about the work that God is doing.

Day 1 Update: July Team #1

Blog Post By: Joy Morris

We are driving up the bumpy hill, and I am trying to watch Kayla and Mike D since they are new– I want to see their response and expressions on their faces.  But as we pull up to the top of the hill, I am overwhelmed and overjoyed by faces I know, faces that see me, that light up because they know me.

The bus moves further up, and to the left I see Sofia-she acts shy, standoffish, but for that second our eyes meet, and I see her light up, smile, and mouth Joy Joy. The bus stops, and kids are surrounding it. Ritchie has been running by the bus yelling Joy Joy. He gets on the bus, goes straight to me, and we just stand there and hug. Then I see Peter get on the bus, say my name and hug me. I point to Beth because she was with him on another trip, and I proceed out of the bus to find other kids. I see Esther, we embrace; I hold her face in my hands and tell her that I love her. Where is Kettely, that rough, tough girl who I wore down last year?  We find each other, and I just cry. I don’t think I have ever held children tighter or longer than I did tonight. I held their faces and said “I love you” over and over. I heard JoyJoy called from every direction. They remembered me and knew my silly name, and I remembered them. Even kids I hadn’t met before yelled Joy Joy -they knew me because of Mike’s previous trips. What a precious reunion it was.

I think that’s how heaven will be-a glorious reunion-people running up to you, saying your name, so happy you are finally there. Even people you don’t know, coming up to say your name. Seeing Jesus’ face, having Him welcome me, showing me all the sweet dark faces that are there because people cared and came down here to love on orphans and share Jesus with them.

The saddest part of the reunion was when the kids asked me where Ryan was.  We kept telling them Ryan was not here. They said, “Ryan come in July” adamantly, like “yes, he must return and be with us.” What will it be like in heaven if people ask where our loved one is–is he coming? and we do not know or worse yet we know they aren’t coming. It was heartbreaking for me today. It put a sense of urgency in my heart to know that those I love will be there, too. The glorious reunion and the love to be shared should not be missed.

It made me think of the words to a favorite song of one by Cindy Morgan:
“I do not want to walk through heaven’s gates and not see your face
And I do not want to dance beside the streams without you with me
Or see the angels fill the sky, the heavens singing all creation cries:
‘Hosanna, Savior, God our Father, Creator, Redeemer and King’
You’ve got to be there with me
Oh please, you’ve got to be there with me.
Will you be there with me?

I can’t afford it

Blog Post By: Erica Ho

I thought about writing a disclaimer for this post. After thinking about the wording involved in said disclaimer I realized that this post needs nothing of the sort. This is for everyone.

I often have conversations that start with “I’d love to go on a mission trip, but we just can’t afford it right now.” That makes sense, I understand that families and individuals have a lot of responsibilities when it comes to money. However, I would like to pose this question: What can you change in your spending habits so that you are able to go? Or, What can you give up, sell, sacrifice to go?

Now, there are some of you who don’t have the resources at all. You don’t have the luxury of selling a piece of jewelry or furniture, you can’t simply give up lattes and suddenly pay for a trip. What if you used your skills to earn extra money? You could do handy work, take pictures, clean houses, have a garage sale, write support letters. It’s hard work! But if you really want to go, if you’ve been called, there is a way.

I’m challenging you to see past that dollar sign. To see past working a little harder, saving a little more or spending a little less. I’m challenging you to give up that vacation.

If you are called to Go, you are called to Give.


Uganda For Me

Blog entry and Pictures by Daniel Hobbs.


You’ve probably heard it a million times. “You go to help them, but in the end they help you.” A cliche statement. The more you hear a statement like that, the more you want to vomit.

The weekend before I left for Uganda, I proposed to my fiancé Sarah. The week after that proposal was filled with dinners, surprise parties, and a whole lot of social events that clouded my mind. It really seemed like the enemy had used the best event in my life to distract me from what I was preparing to do in Uganda. By the time the trip came around I really just didn’t want to go. Yep. I said it. After being blessed with the ability to go. I, Daniel Hobbs, was thinking,” it’s just not the best time to go…”

At one of the parties I went to, I sat down to talk with an uncle that I look up to very much. He is a successful businessman, a hard worker, but I don’t consider him a very strong christian. Sure, he believes in God, but he doesn’t practice faith. I started talking to him about Sarah, our plans, etc… and when I told him about my 3rd trip to Africa he said something that got to me. He said, ” You know, those people need help, but you gotta start thinking about yourself and your family.” And he went on to give me more advice, but that killed me. It stuck with me.

I know that he doesn’t fully understand why i do what I do. I know he thinks I am crazy for working at a church. That doesn’t mean I don’t love him. That doesn’t mean I won’t listen to his advice anymore. It just makes me realize the disconnect in those who haven’t been on a trip, or don’t understand the necessity of sending people. They don’t understand what makes us travel for 24 straight hours or go without a shower for 10days. They haven’t traveled on a bus packed with other loonies and luggage to go see a bunch of orphan kids that speak English you can barely understand.

It is hard to explain these things to someone who hasn’t been on a mission trip, because when you come back, you usually talk about the parts of the trip where you were struggling. You talk about using the restroom in a hole with flies and mosquitoes flying up out of it. You talk about eating weird things, and making sure you don’t drink the water. You talk about getting a crazy equator sunburn, and 12 hour bus rides on a seat that feels like a few metal bars and cardboard taped together.

Those are the things you talk about.

You forget to talk about the other things. The things like 14 year old boys telling you that you should be a pastor, when they can quote scripture from books you forgot existed in the Bible. You forget to talk about how the elderly, known as JaJas in Uganda, got down on their knees in thankfulness and pure joy when you brought them a couple dollars in sugar and soap. You don’t tell them about the orphanage in Kyoterea, that is truly a beacon of light in a very dark place. You forget to talk about the things you saw, where you knew God’s direct hand was working like you’ve never seen it before.

God gave me an interest in photography and travel. I am definitely an amateur  at both, but I want to use them to tell the story of what God can do. The tale of what He is doing with a Kick-boxing Champion/disk jockey, turned Ugandan preacher, known as “Pastor JJ”. Of what God can do with a group of orphan boys and girls in the middle of nowhere in Africa. Or the story of what He can do with me, a clueless, graphic designer, from Tennessee. I want to do this in faith. I believe God can use us just the way He intended to when he created us.

Spend some time looking at the pictures posted here. Try to see through the eyes of the people within those photos. And last, but most importantly, ask God what He is asking you to do when it comes to Uganda.

God is working there and He wants you to be a part of it.

So, I’ll end with this. I went to Uganda thinking I would be helping them, but so far every time I go back, the experience and relationships I build there help me more than I could ever imagine. Please, don’t vomit.

Dirt Never Hurt Anybody

By: Gay Sutley – Uganda May 2012
Well, last night I had to decide just how badly I wanted a shower. Did I want one enough to risk electrocution? Ummm…yes. So I boldly stood in the outdoor open air shower stall, with a portable shower head hung on the wall, with it’s flexible metal hose hanging in a water barrel that had been filled, jug by jug, with cold well water.

Now all I had to do was hook it up…meaning take the metal clamp that was attached to the battery (IN the shower stall!) and hook it to the exposed red wire. This brave deed would lead to a sharp spark and then would commence the water flowing from the barrel to the shower head.

Well, after facing my fear of “shock” and holding my breath, I bravely connected the clamp. SPARK!!! And that was it. The battery hummed. But no water flowed. Looks like the portable shower has quit working.

Well, everybody ought to take a cup bath with cold water every now and then. It makes you appreciate what you have at home. Oh, and be sure not to get the water in your eyes, it could make you sick. And then for extra fun just stand around in the cool night air with your long wet hair plastered to your back. Reminds you of how much we rely on electricity and running water.

I’ve decided being clean is just so American. I’m going native. Dirt never hurt anybody.

Uganda Sneak Peek

The Uganda team is on the way back to the States! From what we have heard through our limited communication, they had an amazing week! Stay tuned for a blog series recapping their week of ministry!

(photo cred. Daniel Hobbs Iphone 4)

The Gift of Prayer in Haiti

By Tami Heim, Video – Kim Powers, and Photograph – Pam Ferguson


Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances: for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – I Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV


Pray continually.


Paul’s word to the Thessalonians is the core message we bring to the children of Jeremie, Haiti this week. The cover of our weekly lesson plan highlights why this message matters:


For an orphan, prayer is one of the only things

that gives them power or independence.


Through prayer, they have access to the

omnipotent God of the universe. 


It is crucial to help them understand

the importance and the freedom of prayer.


Yes, it’s crucial the children understand. It’s crucial for them, the women who care for these children every day, and all of us to all understand the importance and power of prayer.


It’s Thursday morning, the kids are in school, and we make a special trip to the orphanage, but this time it’s to love on and pray for the mommas. Mommas are the women responsible for the care of 10 – 15 orphans living together in one small house. They monitor the day-to-day activity and ensure the children adhere to a daily routine.


Eight of the mommas assemble in the church at Dou Dou’s encouragement. The men and teens on our team do a good job of keeping a few of the children, not in school, out of the sanctuary while we meet.


Kim Wood and Pam Ferguson are equipped with cameras because we want to have pictures of them with their names just like we do for the children. Dou Dou and I sit off to the side and invite them one by one to come and share their stories, needs, and how they want their Long Hollow family to pray for them.


We listen and I record what’s on their hearts. The weight of their life affects us deeply. They share of the pain, loneliness, persecution, and the extreme poverty that fills their life. I write down each ones prayer requests as Sherry Gray and Cory Conquest alternate escorting them to a quiet place for one on one prayer.


Once the season of prayer is complete, we present them the gift of something fun and something functional. Pretty headbands fill the space for fun and functional goes to the duffle bags they can use to sort and keep their belonging ordered. They are genuinely grateful for both the prayers and the gifts. To show their appreciation, they sang for us.


We do what women do well – we shed tears and then wipe them from the cheeks of others. We hug and hold each momma with the same love and compassion we show the children. Another day passes and with the gift of prayer we’ve discovered more about how to do justice, show mercy, and walk humbly.


On behalf of the women on our mission team, we ask you to pray for the mommas of Jeremie, Haiti.


  • Whisper their names before the throne of grace.
  • Ask God to meet their many, many needs.
  • Implore Him to empower them be the women He is calling them to be.


Gueline Guilloux

Elise St. Ilfort

Roselene Julot

Rosete Valentin

Miclaine Louis

Joslaine Bienneme

Emela Lindor

Francois Mondeuis


Learning and Living Out Colossians 3 in Haiti

May 28, 2012 – Day 2

By Tami Heim

Verse 12 Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Breathe deep the hot and hard aroma of Haiti and the change begins. It’s a different world, life, and people. I watch my team members react. Sometimes a person’s heart breaks right away. Other times the fracturing is slow. Either way, compassion eventually consumes those who come here. A connection is secured to the heart of Jesus and to what the Word says about Him “And He was moved with compassion.

There is no question. I know I am exactly where He wants me to be.

The mission is not complicated – be Christ’s hands and feet. Pray up and dress in kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. It’s time to leave and make a difference in the lives of the children who will fill our days this week.

Verse 13 Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other.

God has a specific purpose for every team who agrees to GO in His name. And so it is true with everyone on this trip. The conditions and environment demand a double dose of grace and flexibility. Derek leads us well and reminds us often. We roll through the inconveniences and forgive quickly whatever part of the day deviates from the original plan.

Verse 14-15 And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people.

This trip, like all the others, begs for Christ’s own prayer to be answered, “Make them one as We are One.” We move and work in concert. Some on the team has traveled this road together in the past. They’re comfortable and in harmony with each other. The rest of us find our fit by falling into the new spaces God’s carved out for us as members on this team.

I am grateful. Everyone comes with a unique gift to offer. As living sacrifices we’re here. We show up. God shows up. Love binds us in unity of purpose.

Verse16 The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

We head to the orphanage and as the big machine, ‘Chuck Norris’, climbs up the hill, the site before me is one visited in a hundred dreams since the last trip. Children spill from doors and rocky slopes. They know we are coming because of the brief time we shared with them on Sunday night. Each child is bursting with his or her own version of joy. Their excitement matches my expectation.

In the afternoon, a carefully planned lesson on prayer is delivered. Worship bounces from floor to beam, sometimes in words we fully understand and then other times with words we don’t. The melody synchronizes our tribute to the Almighty – three in One. In these precious moments, God is purely glorified.

Verse.17 Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.

We don’t permit the heat of the day and the lack of electricity at the guesthouse to discourage us. Under the gazebo our evening team devotion focuses on what it means to ‘do justice.’  Derek shares a quote from Tim Keller that sums it up, “Give others what they are due because we are all made in the image of God.”  That’s why we come. That’s why we give.

No one escapes when the love we pour into these children comes splashing back on each of us. The Creator’s master plan for this day is complete. Whatever we did, we did it all for Him. And now in the final hours of this day, we listen to the rain falling. We share, laugh, and remember – in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.



A Dance in the Haitian Moonlight

The May Haiti team led by Derek Hazelet is kicking off a Summer on mission. We will be with our Haitian friends for a total of seven weeks over the course of the Summer. Please pray with us as we invest in the children and the community in which they live. Check out the latest update from the team below!


May 27, 2012 – Day 1

By Tami Heim

Sometimes an image gets stuck to your heart and you know as soon you see it the memory of it will never leave you.

The 4:30 AM appointment to gather at Nashville International Airport arrives and so does the team of 18, each one a little groggy, but ready to serve. There’s a long day of travel ahead and I sense the team is up for the challenge. Derek Hazelet has masterfully planned the trip and it looks as though everyone has followed through on his or her delegated pre-trip assignment.

Baggage is carefully taped in orange and yellow duck tape. Many place the tape over the remnants of colored tape from trips gone by, but Casey Ball, Syndey Conquest, Bronte Deno, and Jaycee Polk adhere theirs with all the intentionality that comes from a person’s very first trip to Haiti. I smile. I know what will happen when they get there. I’m certain this trip will be the first of many.

All things go as planned, but one change brings us very good news. It turns out flights are altered and the whole team can now look forward to spending our first night in Jeremie – together. We thank God for the news and this blessing.

Dou Dou meets us at baggage claim in Port-au-Prince and works us through the crowd. Forever our hero, Dou Dou ushers us to our next flight, waves goodbye, and promises to see us around midnight. Once again he single-handedly drives our luggage 110 miles on roads and terrain that will take him at least 8-10 hours to conquer.

The guesthouse is a welcome sight. We unload and I hurry to distribute letters from my husband, Dale, to the local children who cling by the fence around our complex. They are thrilled and each one reads his or her letter out loud. The whole team finally settles in, prepares for dinner, and is happy to attend Sunday evening services with the children of Jeremie.

It’s almost dark when the bus makes it up the steep hill. The kids know the sound and many leave the service to come and greet us. There’s nothing like the expressions of children when they see it’s you and their uninhibited sounds of utter delight. Kids crowd the entrance to the bus. Next comes lot’s of hugs, lots of kisses, and lots of little arms reaching up eager to be scooped up for a big face-to-face cuddle. No one resists them.

Beatrice finds me. She is growing into a stunning young girl. I can’t believe how quickly she’s changed in just two years. She takes my breath away and in an instant, she perfectly fills my wide-open arms.

I give her a twirl and kiss both cheeks. I look into her big brown eyes and tell her softly and intently her Momma Cindy and Poppa Trey love and long to see her. I explain slowly how they think of her every minute of every day and ache to have her with them. In this sacred moment, I am the messenger. I experience this young girl’s joy made absolutely complete as soon as I let her know, Momma Cindy is coming soon. July. Momma Cindy is coming to be with you in July.

Beatrice squeezes me as tightly as she possibly can and then bursts into dance. She sings and dances off into the night.  I watch her image cast against a Haitian moonlit sky and I weep.

I think about the words of a book I read on the flight to Miami earlier this day.


The motive of a righteous heart is not to get away with anything.

The motive of a righteous heart is to be loved and to love.

~ Brian McNicol, The Cure


This is God’s gift to me on our first day and it’s one I’ll hold forever. Before I go to sleep, I give thanks to my loving Father. I praise Him for Cindy and Trey Emerson and their decision to obey God and make Beatrice their own. I ask Him to remove the obstacles that keep them apart and to bring her safely to them in His good and perfect time. I ask Him to do the same for every adoptive parent waiting. And finally, I thank Him for the privilege of being here and allowing me to share the moment Beatrice danced her dance of being loved and loving in the moonlight.