June 2017 - Tucker Family in Haiti Update

Build it, They Will Come

20 months ago, our little family arrived in Grand Vide, Haiti on La Gonave island. Our full-time pioneering efforts have focused on building 3 Pillars: Physical infrastructure, Personal Relationships, & Spiritual health. We stand in awe at the hope that now exists in our village, all because of incredible partners & a faithful Lord. This newsletter highlights those Pillars. 

Brick, Mortar, Dirt. Physical Growth

COHH's core mission is to connect people to their Father in heaven so they encounter God's radical love & understand their invaluable worth. Jesus told us to "Seek 1st the Kingdom of Heaven & His righteousness, & all these things will be added to you". People in our area desperately need food, water, clothing, & shelter. They ask us constantly for food & money. Every time they ask, we "Ask the Lord for what they need" & pray with them on the spot. We (the "missionaries") showed them WE are not their solution.....JESUS is.  He is a great Dad...He is our solution. He led us to build these 3 things to point people to Him. 

  • 1st investment: Community Center & House of Prayer. The building is finished! Prayer & adoration are happening 3 days/week (HE is what we seek). Medical care is provided as needed (we need staff & materials); people walk up to 7 miles one-way to come see us for medical care (HE is the Great Physician). Water treatment is coming, as is a Computer classroom for teaching vocational, bible, language, & computer.
  • 2nd Investment: Farming Cooperative. 8 acres are fenced, a garage/depot is built, a shallow well is dug, 1000 tons of rock are removed (to build our 300 foot long village pier), & permanent raised beds have moringa, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, watermelon, cherries, plantains, & more planted! Over 100 chickens, 9 ducks, 40 rabbits, goats, & cattle are producing eggs, offspring, & jobs. Hunger & poverty are on the ropes!
  • 3rd Investment: Mission Home. Our 4-bedroom home is 80% complete to house our family & short/long-term friends who join us in His mission here in Grand Vide. We built it with capacity to build 4 more rooms. This is the 1st house in our village with flowers in the yard! 

Relationships - No greater love

"Return the hearts of the parents to their children, & the hearts of the children to their parents" - Malachi 4:5-6. Haiti is full of broken families; abandoned/orphaned kids, who then leave their kids. Most "orphaned" kids have 1 or both parents.  So...we are working tirelessly to reunite families. Dads feel ashamed because they can't "provide" for their kids...so they run. Restoration's not easy. It does not happen quickly. But we are not here for easy or quickly. 

Our next door neighbors are perfect examples. Mariet is a mother of 4. She makes charcoal to feed her family. When we moved in, she was exhausted & frustrated. She often beat her kids to the point of bloodshed as a last-ditch effort for discipline. Her toddler, Tipo, wandered like a zombie in the same clothes for 2-3 days...exhausted & needing a nap & nurturing. Her son, Lourens (10) planned how he could stay away because of the beatings. Her son, B Nelson (13) was angry & bitter & it showed. Today - Lourens is Elijah's best friend. He is a leader amongst his peers. B Nelson is #1 in his class in school & never misses a moment in the House of Prayer. Ashley is Lily's best friend. Tipo is flourishing. And Mariet...she now helps us with chicken egg production. She no longer beats her kids. She smiles. There are many other stories how our simple little family is making a lasting impact on those around us in dire situations. You too can make a lasting impact! Mariet's family is in the photos below.  

Want to Help? Here's a great way

We have many needs for 2017. Would you, your business, or your church consider partnering with us? 100% of your tax-deductible gift is invested directly to our mission in Haiti. Here are our needs. They are big, but every dollar counts. One-time & recurring gifts are easy via our website. www.communityofhopehaiti.org/what-you-can-do/

1. SECONDARY SCHOOL (URGENT June 15) 7th-9th Grade. Salary for 10 teachers. Books & supplies to function.

Impact: Western La Gonave has no 2ndary school. Families send their 7-12 graders to mainland Haiti to go school; separating families. Abuse is very common. Most can't afford to pay for 2 homes & food. We want to restore families together. 100+ kids from 5 villages. Already have building. 

2. ELECTRICITY (100% off-grid Solar) 2 Inverters (6.5kW), 4 Controllers, 8 Batteries, Diesel Generator, Install. Current system loses power. Medical, water filtration, ice making cannot function.We already have solar panels.

Impact: Medical equipment (already donated). School Computer Lab (already donated). Ice business (creates 100’s of small businesses/jobs & sustainable income). Drinking Water Filtration. Lights for Study Hall & classes. Livestock incubation. Community Kitchen.

3. CONTAINER SHIPMENT 40 foot container that we have already loaded in Kentucky with critical tools for our Mission

Impact: Farming equipment to create jobs & food, construction equipment to remove rock, build roads, create airstrip for emergency medical care, education supplies, solar panels.

4. LAND – Farming  80 acres of farm land

Impact: 500+ jobs & family income, 50,000+ trees planted, create school lunch program, 500+ sustainable jobs & food.

5. ROOF – Mission Home Our roof is not yet complete. Rain makes lakes in our living room.  

Impact: Rainwater Harvesting, 10 short-term jobs created, 4 rooms created, dry mission teams & families

6. OPERATIONS BUDGET Utilities, Gas, Supplies, staff/labor, widow care, program supplies, communications

Impact: God is changing a generation in a nation that lacks hope & direction; Child to family to village to nation. 

We're so grateful for what's happening thru your support. Lives are being transformed for good. Arise, Shine! I

n Him, The Tucker Family. 

 

 

A House of Prayer

When we first started this journey to Haiti three years ago, specifically Grand Vide; we knew the Lord was tugging on our hearts to build self-sustainability through agriculture, education, fishing as well as care for basic needs like clean water.  We also knew that all of this would only be done through the love of Jesus, the leadership of the Holy Spirit and through the identity as a child of God. As we progressed toward our move date in April ’15, we started to sense a shift in the focus of our efforts. We had plans to have a boat purchased upon arrival to the village, so we would not have to bear the burden of the long 5-hour boat ride that everyone else so patiently endures. (it should only be about 1 hour). The Haitian “slow” boat has a small motor, yet still has the feel of a slow sail. There is no bathroom, the sun is scorching and it is just down right exhausting. Since our move here we have taken about 10 round-trip rides, which means we have put in about 100 hours on that sail. 

Although we had the finances to buy a boat of our own; the kind of boat needed to catch sellable fish, the tug on our hearts to shift our focus became undeniable to both of us. We knew we were being instructed to build a house of prayer, which became our focus when we arrived in the village last September.  We had to lay aside our plans for the fishing business and put a pause on the timing of a boat. It was hard, because it meant a viable income for our family. We were stretched to a new realm of faith to continue to trust God for our family needs.  

Building a House of Prayer was not apart of our original plan, besides who knows what that is anyway? When people ask us what we have done or what we do; we say we built a House of Prayer. This usually invites a blank stare and a few moments of uncomfortable silence. Little did we know though, we were arriving to our village when intense hopelessness had set it. They lost their crops two years in a row, because of goats and draught. Many lost their way to pay for school and everything else.  We began construction of the House of Prayer a few days after we arrived. To our surprise, the construction gave many people jobs, from foremen to gravel makers (aka single moms). Women were selling food on the streets and moms could now afford to put their kids in school. This took a burden off of us, because we arrived at a time of such great need.  We employed over 300 people, the building was 100% Haitian labor and the efforts to get building materials on that slow boat was humbling to observe. Since the boat is unable to dock on shore, every item loaded on the boat had to be put in a dingy (small boat) then transported to land….every ounce of sand, block and rebar. 

Now, I am no expert on prayer. In fact, it has taken me (us) a long time to understand what it really is without attaching some religious definition to it. In times past, admittedly it was more of a burden than a blessing. However, we see it with different eyes now and recognize its importance in keeping communion and intimacy with Father God… remaining in His love. (I understand intimacy as being open with my heart without fear of punishment).  It is also important to pray through spiritual warfare. (see 2 Chronicles 20…specifically 22).

A house of prayer as described in Isaiah 56:

     “And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep     the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast my covenant — these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my alter; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” The Sovereign Lord declares. 

Houses of Prayer are popping up all over the world and have been for many years. They are bringing unity to the church, because the focal point is worshipping God and not denominations.They are bringing people together with one thing in mind: intimacy with our Father. 

To us: a house of prayer is a lifeline, a constant dialogue.  Sometimes with words and sometimes without. 

For us, building a house of prayer meant giving the Lord control of how He wanted to do things in our village….now we are watching Him begin to light His fire. 

 

**If you are impacted by our call to Haiti….we are always in need of monthly givers, which can be done safely on our website. Thank you for considering! 

Less Is More

After we made the decision to move to Haiti we realized very quickly that our current lifestyle would need to change. Brian and I have both made several trips to Haiti; both being impacted and humbled by our experiences and what little was needed to survive. We became very aware of how distracted we were and self-focused we have been.  For me personally, I have always gotten what I wanted and rarely had to go without. Even if my mom said no, I found ways to get my way. Destructive I know, but it brought short-term pleasure and a {false} sense of control. A lifestyle centered on how to get my way created bad habits hard to break and very self-absorbed thinking. There is no joy or contentment in the lust for more, however I believed the Lord was working these things out in me over the past 12 years of knowing Him.  I have quickly learned on this  journey to Haiti:  He has been faithful to do His part, but I was unfaithful to do mine. We have made very few sacrifices in our life; since my mindset has been centered on consumption.  I was seeing very little freedom from stuff and worldly pleasure in my life….which also lead to fearing what others thought of me.

In an effort to chip away at our habits and mindsets; November of 2013 we moved down to our basement and rented out the top portion of our home. We did this for several reasons: to knock out debt, work on changing our lifestyle as well as our relationships with one another (our children are 5, 6 and 7).  Although most of our debt was from student loans, regardless, going debt free to the mission field was a non-negiotable.  Giving up the first level of our house was the beginning of making uncomfortable sacrifices; something we needed to be comfortable with. Moving from 4 bedrooms to 1 was definitely a stretch, but it was the best thing that ever happened to our family.

As I sit and reflect on the transition from a large space to a smaller one and how it impacted us….it is a change we desperately needed. We found that the more space we had upstairs the less time we spent together, making it difficult to cultivate relationships with one another.  I was more consumed with myself and the kitchen. It was difficult for me to manage my home when the kids were on one end of the house and I was on the other.  The basement only had a wet bar, so we had to create a make-shift kitchen. I realized I did not need all I had before and it just consumed my time and energy anyway. I spent less time cooking/cleaning and managing our s-t-u-f-f. 

Upstairs kitchen:

Downstairs kitchen:

We spent more quality time together. Since we were all in the same small space we had to deal with things as they came up. We found that our children’s behavior greatly improved and I was less frazzled when their behavior was out-of-line.  We could not check out as easy when we had less space.

An amazing thing happened….because each of our sin was exposed, we saw how much our poor choices negatively impacted everyone else. We could either ignore character defects (the easy way) or deal with them….immediately and effectively (the narrow road).   We chose to deal with things instead of checking out.  My kids felt more loved and cared for and I could tell.   I began to like who I was as a mom. My husband and I became closer and we had to learn how to work together in our parenting. I flew off the handle less and allowed the love of the Lord to change me. Letting Him love me….has brought freedom from stuff, freed me of condemnation, and is changing how I view myself.

I am confessing my sin of self-absorption; always wanting more and always trying to get my way (a.k.a: CONTROL)  This didn’t just manifest in material things….it showed up in life situations and relationships. Confession brings true freedom and authentic joy.  Confession means I am am choosing to agree with God on what He sees in me and partnering with Him to make changes in my character.  It frees me and creates a lifestyle of humility and need. “His strength is made perfect in my weakness” It is no secret we are weak. Trying to use worldly things/possessions to cure me of my weakness only makes things worse and perpetuates authentically getting well.

Through our journey to Haiti the Lord has overwhelmed me with his love in awakening me to the dark valley of my heart; while allowing me to experience the comfort of his rod and staff. His light shines in the darkness of Nations, Cities and our own hearts. How beautifully intimate and comforting that He doesn’t run from the truth of what He sees, but actually provides a solution for it? That is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  "Let any one of you who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8:7)

The "How" of Haiti

It has been a few years since I last wrote. As I read my last post, I noticed a person trying to figure out how to make a greater impact in this world; but not quite understanding how.  I have known in my heart that there is something greater to this life; yet my comfortable lifestyle felt so conflicting with whatever “greater” was. I have had some amazing encounters and experiences that have forever changed me. My previous blog posts reflect a tiny part of that. Nonetheless, I  have constantly argued with myself about being too comfortable, yet hold quite tightly to $3.00 latte’s. When my husband Brian and I met 10 years ago, I knew there would  be something more for us as a couple in how we would live & serve…but I continued to live in the Disney Fantasyland of what real relationships looked like. Then life happened…3 kids were born in three years, and we moved to 3 major cities in 7 years. We were not hurting financially, which perpetuated our little cycle of comfort. Life and marriage were hard and painful, despite our “success”. Our marriage was a constant struggle. It wasn’t until 11-11-11  that we committed ourselves to getting well; learning to love each other sacrificially. We were  two very selfish people who needed to get over ourselves. And so it began. We humbled ourselves in community; exposing our hearts and minds to others we trusted. Through those encounters we have received much healing…which sparked even more questions: What are we doing with our life? Even with all our success, healing, and experiences with Jesus, why are we not content? We moved out of our rental and bought our “forever” home. Doesn’t buying a home bring more security, contentment? Well it didn’t. I remember sitting on our living room floor one evening overlooking our brand new “forever” deck. Brian and I had a discussion about someone we knew who lost most of the things he loved, yet had joy and contentment.  It was a very sobering moment for me and one I will never forget:  I knew we were still holding too tightly to things. Then…Haiti happened. Brian was asked to go on a short-term trip. I knew in my heart while he was there The Lord would provide direction for our family. When he returned…I eagerly anticipated news of our new direction. When we finally sat down to talk it through….there it came:

 “I think we are being asked to move to Haiti.”

 Ok….not what I had in mind.  But for some reason it sounds awesome and slightly not normal and maybe frightening?!

Then he began to share the 3 questions he felt like he was  being asked by the Father:

1)         Do you love me?

2)        Do you trust me?

3)        Do you really believe that I will provide for you and your family regardless of what I ask you to do?

His answers (without having to say them):  No, No and No.  I have to admit that my answers were the same.  I knew  without even saying it. I also knew that the answer to the last question automatically answered the first two. In reality, we loved our comforts way too much to “take up your cross and follow me”.  I liked my comfortable life….thank you very much. Besides, I love on people,  I give. I serve you Lord.  In reflection….not so much that it hurt. 

We have never had a desire to move to another country, yet we were both content with it; despite the myriad of emotions we have felt through it. Life changed forever with that conversation and I was itching to get to Haiti. Thankfully a dear friend planned a trip in September, so we went.  I visited this little village on an island off the coast of Haiti we will soon call our home (La Gonave/Grand Vide, Haiti).  I can’t say it was love at first sight, but there was a divine connection that I couldn’t deny.

The people were amazingly loving and hospitable. I felt safe and cared for.  My heart exploded for these people...

As I sit here writing this I am thinking about my friends in Haiti and how I long to see them, to live life with them, and partner together for the Kingdom. 

Grand Vide, Haiti is of the most beautiful serene places I have ever seen... 

but so impoverished that it was almost hard to notice the natural beauty. 

As I begin telling and sharing of our journey to Haiti, how these beautiful people are changing me (us) and the love of God is overwhelming me (us)....this blog will be about this process of leaving one life behind to embrace another (literally & spiritually).  It will be about telling stories and connecting one nation to another. I will still hold the vision of Withholding Stones…which is to first check our own heart before we respond to another’s. I maintain my promise to be transparent, to show we are not “special” or “intimidating”, but just people desiring to live right in His eyes.  WE have a story just like you. Let's find our similarities….and cheer each other on this journey for More.

Stay tuned for my next post…Our life in the Basement: preparing for 3rd world living. Kind of. 

The Butterfly Effect

When a monarch butterfly changes from a caterpillar to a butterfly; the changes it goes through are significant. Its mouth alone takes on a whole new function from eating leaves to sucking nectar. It goes from a crawling insect to a flying one all in the matter of days. During this phase of metamorphosis it is completely dependent on the tree in which it hangs. Without a “host” plant, the butterfly is completely unable to make its transformation. This amazing process can act as a great analogy for many things in life including our life in Christ; however my purpose in providing this visual is to share of a dream I have for young women.  Recently I went out on a limb myself and signed up to be an Arbonne consultant. For those of you unfamiliar, Arbonne is a cosmetics/health and wellness company that produces pure and safe skin products.  I am using this really cool business to fulfill two of my passions; that I will get to in a moment. I want to point out though, it was not my life-long dream to become a consultant. In fact, my long list of degrees over-qualifies me. That statement alone makes me very aware of my prideful heart and the impact this little business is doing for me. It is beyond what I could have imagined. I am learning things about myself that really needed some refining and experiencing a metamorphosis of my own.

natures-miracle.jpg

With that reflection out of the way, I want to share with you the two passions I have that led me to the business: I have had a growing interest, borderline anger issue, with the lack of government regulation on food and cosmetic ingredients allowed in our products.  I have learned that we have a government that is way too overloaded to keep up with the amount of chemicals and products that continue to go on the market. This makes the public very vulnerable to products and ingredients that are harmful for us…inside and out. The European Union alone has banned over 500 chemicals that are harmful to humans. Those 500 chemicals continue to be unbanned here in the United States. Our cancer and infertility rate continue to climb, with explanations that don’t really explain the continual rise. Although this issue alone deserves more attention, I don’t want to overload or bore you with my banter. What I am most excited about, is the second passion I have in the reason for starting this business:

I am using Arbonne as a platform to build a mentorship program for young girls transitioning from a harmful lifestyle into a life of freedom. I learned when I worked with this population in the past; the transition back into the community applying new life skills is a very difficult one.  It is not my goal to groom them to do the business, but to walk along side of them encouraging them in their life transition.  As the butterfly leans on the host plant to ready itself for new life, I too want to be that bridge that enables young girls to grow their wings and fly into the purpose created for them.

For my shameless plug: If you are interested in hosting an Arbonne Spa Party…I will come to your home and pamper a few of your friends and family with a warm foot soak and cleansing facial. I will coach your guests in safe skin care as well as share the plan of the business for young girls. AND you get to reap the benefits of hosting: $150 worth of products for $20 (with a minimum of 2 guest orders) as well as 35% off anything above your benefits and free shipping!! I make it worth your time for me to come love on your guests.  You can email me at withholdingstones@gmail.com.  Thank you in advance!

Not Really A Prostitute

It was her first night out. Under 18 for sure. Blonde, beautiful and well sought after. White. American. The look of fear on her face pierced my heart. I wanted to throw up, she probably did to, if she hadn’t already.  I wanted to put my coat around her and take her home...to my home, so I could mother her and tell her all the things about life she obviously didn’t know. Like the love of a man will never fill her the way she has been manipulated into thinking is true.  A range of thoughts going through my head:  “you shouldn’t be here…does your mom know you are out here…where is your mom…how in the world did you get here?”  Her name didn’t even match the situation.  It wasn’t Cashmere, Star or Sugar.  (For reasons of protection, I will call her Hope). What made Hope’s story even more complicated…she was involved in a youth group at her church. They had no idea she was on the corner selling herself. The story of how she got there I did not dare to explore, but one that is predictable. There are rules on the streets; not asking a girl how she got there was one of them. The first car pulls up. She gets in. Less than thirty minutes later the car drops her back off to our corner. Tears come to my eyes as I recall this harsh reality…my heart is pained retelling it. Hope was one of many in which I witnessed a first night out.

Five years ago I was involved in a ministry of outreach to women in prostitution in the city of Seattle. Every Friday night you could find us on their corner from 11p to 3am (this ministry still exists today). A one-year commitment for me until the season of life changed.  It was a very unique experience and one that changed me forever.  It is how I got introduced to the term: “modern-day slavery/human sex trafficking”. By definition: Sex trafficking occurs when people are forced or coerced into the commercial sex trade against their will.  Child sex trafficking includes any child involved in commercial sex (the demand for younger girls is unfortunately high). Sex traffickers frequently target vulnerable people with histories of abuse and then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage, or other forms of control and manipulation to keep victims involved in the sex industry (www.polarisproject.com). The average entry age for a girl in the “lifestyle” is 13…everything about that is illegal and devastatingly sick. Part of our note keeping out on the streets was trying to predict if the girls were over or under 18. Streets all across America have young girls being picked up by men for sex. Girls are being sold at truck stops, residential brothels, strip clubs and massage parlors. Then there is the beast of the internet; the driving force behind trafficking. People on porn sites are abused humans; stripped of their dignity. Whether they choose it or not; it is up to us if we will participate in their demise. Trafficking isn’t just happening in big cities on the coast on in Vegas. My particular city is St. Louis, a city officially on the sex trafficking route, because it links other cities together by its highway system. In the mind of a pimp/trafficker it is the perfect place to be, because everyone thinks it is only happening on the Coasts or in other countries.

In the young impressionable and vulnerable mind of a child a pimp/trafficker gains affection through manipulation and keeps her trapped and enslaved. You know what that means for the “older girls”,which means girls only in their 20’s, this is their story too. No one chooses this line of work. Even if they do; sit with that thought for a moment. Sit with them in their pain that would lead to this kind of a choice. Sit with them in their humanity. Sit with all of them in their humanity. “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7b)

**if you want information of how you can get involved email me at withholdingstones@gmail.com

Withholding Stones

Why Withholding Stones? There is a story in the bible that tells of a woman caught in adultery. The religious leaders brought her to Jesus to see if he would agree for her to be stoned; according to Jewish law. However, Jesus' response leaves them all speechless: "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Instead of throwing stones to kill her; amazingly they withheld them realizing their sin united them. Her sin is obvious, however the emphasis is the opportunity for her redemption. What the religious leaders meant for her harm; Jesus turned into an opportunity to heal her heart.

About 6 years ago, while living in Pasadena, I was going to school and volunteering at a recovery home for women. Many of the women were former prostitutes. I spent a lot of my time listening to their stories. Serving and loving these women transformed my life. It made me realize that in a broken state, we respond to life in broken ways, no matter what our story looks like. Serving the women made me realize our unity. The lust that lured me into one failed relationship after the other in my own life damaged my heart like it did theirs. I responded to life based on the pain my choices created. We each had a past that made shame linger. Beside our sin uniting us, so did the powerful love and forgiveness of our Father God through Jesus our Savior. Withholding stones has the power to transform lives as it did to the woman caught in adultery and as it did for me.
As we are challenged in our habits of stone throwing like gossip, condemnation and judgment, allowing our hearts and minds to be transformed, we see how united we are in our suffering. Relationships are transformed. Mindsets are challenged. Love is easier and people are healed. 

I am writing to challenge you and me. I have made a decision to be as vulnerable as necessary in my posts to get the message across. I will write about subjects that push the envelope of comfort. I may offend you or make you blush at my material. However, what I am committed to do is unite us in our brokenness, that when surrendered leads us to a new and fulfilling life. To encourage grace rather than stone throwing. I do not claim to be perfect at withholding stones, but what I am committed to do is allow myself to be accountable and continually transformed by the renewing of my mind and heart. 
(scripture reference: John 8)