In Like a Lion

In Like a Lion

Even if I were home in Massachusetts, I don’t think the title of my blog would fit weather-wise; I hear there is some bizarre weather going on there! It continues to be perpetual summer here…actually, it’s going to become even MORE like summer over the coming months, if that’s even possible.

I’ve been updating my blog in more of a biweekly fashion lately, mostly because I find that my weeks are already flying by. The past two weeks have been crazy busy, and they aren’t about to get any less so, hence the title for this blog!

School is picking up; we are starting to get into more intense study materials, and are really utilizing every minute of the days we meet. We have finally reached the New Testament in our Bible studies, and have been talking a lot about the importance of following Jesus and loving Him with all our our hearts, all our minds, and with all our strength. We touched on John the Baptist two weeks ago, and this week, we read the story of Jesus and the pharisee, Nicodemus. That story has Jesus and Nicodemus talking about ‘new life’, and how being ‘born again’ by water and the Holy Spirit (baptism). Before I knew it, there were shouts of ‘I want to be baptized!’ ringing throughout the choukoun from these little voices. It was amazing. We talked about how and why being baptized is a big step in someone’s faith journey, so they had to pray about it and talk with their moms and dads before anything. It just so happened on that day, some missionaries from Mission USA who were down here for a week were being baptized. So, the students stayed after school to watch the baptism. I talked them through it quietly as it happened outside our gate in the ocean; it was a beautiful thing to be able to share those moments with my students. It’s times like these where I’m reminded that this is no ordinary school environment; this is something that God has his hand completely on from the beginning, and I am awestruck every time I remember that.

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Our class is finally back together! We missed you, Faith & Glory!

I have been able to interact with little Djanicka (I finally found out how to accurately spell her name!) several times in the last two weeks. I brought her formula two weeks ago, and will be bringing more this upcoming week. There also was a party for the disabled community of Grand Goave, put together by MOHI, Strength of Heart, and Mission USA, the last two organizations having been here this past week. Djanicka and her mother Tailande were in attendance, so I was able to spend some extra TLC time with them, which was special. There have been several people over the past few weeks that saw Djanicka when I first met her, and who see her now, that have remarked at how much better she is looking, in terms of nutrition. The formula that she has been consuming has certainly made a noticeable difference, and it will continue to get better from here, God willing!In addition to the funds that have been raised over the past few weeks, WNCC put on a fundraiser for Djanicka’s cause last night, and I heard there was an OVERWHELMING response, so thank you for that. I really am floored by God’s goodness in all of this. There is a physical therapist at a mission in Leogane called My Life Speaks, who has been in contact with Angie. I am getting the contact information for her, and plan to arrange an appointment for Djanicka and her mother to see if there are certain things that can be done at home to further her physical improvement. Angie and/or I plan to be present at this appointment, so that I can talk more with the physical therapist about what materials might benefit Djanicka. Once I am able to get a professional opinion, I can have a better medical sense about what would be best to purchase and ship here for her.

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Enjoying the party with Djanicka
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Djanicka & her mom Tailande when we went to drop off formula

This past week, we had a few different organizations join us here at MOHI, and the visitors are just going to keep coming and going! Among these visitors will be my sister and her two friends; they have reached their collective fundraising goal, and will be arriving in Haiti a week from today! I am SO excited to have them here, and to have two of the most important things to me (my sister & Haiti) come together!

This past week was a busy one, but it was the type of busy that rejuvenates the soul. The guest house was filled with people and constant activity, and I was so happy to meet and be in fellowship with everyone. One thing I appreciate more and more during my time here is everyone’s individual lives and stories. I grew up in Massachusetts, but never really ventured far away from it. Now, not only am I thousands of miles away on a God-oriented adventure, but people from all over come here and I get to broaden my horizons about the world, just by sitting, listening, and talking with people, whether it be over dinner, a bumpy bus ride, or a game of Zilch (a favorite here at Militon). I have always been on some sort of journey in my life; spiritual, emotional, mental, and now, physical. God instilled me with a spirit that likes to move, and I’ve been learning that He always equips us with what we need to complete what he has planned. His journeys are always the best, though; better than any we could plan on our own. 

Quote from the past two weeks that kind of sums up my adventurous spirit:

Me: I have an itch for adventure!

Angie: I have a cream for that.

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We’re a hoot.
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“This is the way;walk in it.”

“This is the way;walk in it.”

The past two weeks have been a return to normalcy, here in Haiti!

School has been going well; we spent the first week back reviewing and refreshing before spending the past two weeks starting new material. It didn’t take long for the group to gel back into it’s dynamic, minus two of our friends (who we look forward to having back VERY soon!). While our science area this year focuses on the land animals of God’s kingdom, the kids took a special trip to study outer space over Christmas break. I had assigned them some reading and activities that helped them learn about our universe and beyond while we were apart, and upon my return, I was met with such enthusiasm about that area of study. The boys loved learning about the stars and planets so much, that we decided to have our own star gazing night sometime in March. Details are still being worked out, but I will most definitely not say no to kids wanting to learn MORE about a subject! Especially when it involves astronomy!

Thank you to all those who have been donating to Jenika. This past week we were able to get to the capitol, Port-au-Prince, where there are grocery stores that contain more options than the local markets. We were able to get two 900 gram cans of baby formula, which, after being broken down by measurements and estimated consumption, will last a little less than a month. Each can was a little over 900 Haitian Gourd, which equals out to almost $15 American dollars. That means that for Jenika to bed fed consistently on formula, it will take about $30 every month. img_6918Because of the past and continuing generosity of you all, being able to buy her this formula consistently has become a reality. I will be dropping off the first portion of the formula this week. Above is a picture of the first of many ‘meals’ for this beautiful girl. While monitoring her formula, I will also be looking more into what else we can do for her with the funds that have been raised so far, and will keep you all updated to the status of that as well. Ideally, providing for her immediate physical needs would be the path to go on, and that will be what I specifically look into.

If you haven’t donated specifically to Jenika, and would like to, please go to:

www.mohintl.org/donate

-select the option for ‘Alicia D’Olimpio’, and put in the memo section ‘Jenika’

Also, if you are in the Massachusetts area, there is a fundraiser bowl-a-thon being hosted by the West Newbury Congregational Church at Leo’s Super Bowl on March 4th, and 100% of the donations go to Jenika’s funds. Please email sue.hersey@verizon.net for more information about that fun & helpful opportunity.

In other news, my sister and two of her friends will be coming down to Haiti in LESS THAN A MONTH! They will be spending their spring break here in Grand Goâve, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Two of Alena’s friends have interest in the medical field, so they will be assisting and helping in whatever capacity is needed in that area at the time. My sister will be a little bit of everywhere, I think. That week, there will be no school so I am able to spend as much time with them as possible, and I will be able to show them life down here to the best of my ability. I am trying my best to not plan to jam pack EVERY moment of their stay down here 😉 My sister is also raising funds for her stay here at MOHI. If you would like to help contribute to HER ministry here, please go to:

https://www.paypal.me/AlenaDOlimpio

and donate to her and her friends’ work here on their spring break.

As the end of February draws closer, there is a choice that is weighing heavily on my mind and heart, one that has to be made sooner rather than later. As many of you know, I made a commitment for one year as the homeschool teacher for the MOHI Education Cooperative. I am set to return to Massachusetts in June, where I will be taking on the job of summer camp director at the West Newbury Congregational Church. What comes after camp ends in August, however, is foggy at the moment. I have been in constant and fervent prayer about whether God wants me to return to Haiti in September, or if He wants me elsewhere; and, by elsewhere, I mean that I have NO idea where that could be.I have not heard from God on this choice the same way that I heard Him for my moving to Haiti; and as I type those words, I remember the words of Aslan from Narnia when he tells Lucy, “Things never happen the same way twice, dear one.”I have been frustrated and somewhat fearful as my choice looms, and I have yet to hear a loud and clear cut answer from Him. God knew I needed a loud and clear answer last time; maybe He doesn’t think I need that this time.All I want, in the end, is to go where He wants me to go, to do what He wants me to do, and to serve where He wants me to serve. I have my own selfish desires, but they pale in comparison to my knowledge that God’s plan is FAR better than one I could concoct on my own, and my ultimate desire to follow where He leads. He has been faithful, and has taken care of me every step of the way. I can’t, I won’t doubt Him now.

I do ask, though, that you all join me in praying for my future. I ask that you specifically pray for clarity in the upcoming decision, to return to Haiti in the fall of 2017, or to follow Him somewhere else and go down another path of ministry.

As always, thank you to those of you who read this blog, who message me on Facebook, who email me, etc. Your love, care, and support means the world to me, and no matter what the future holds, I will never forget each and everyone of you, and the part you have played in this amazing journey that I am currently on.

I’ll end this week’s blog with two verses that God led me to right before I slept last night:

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’” Jeremiah 6:16

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21

I didn’t even go looking for those verses. It was one of those weird ‘Bible Roulette’ moments…crazy, huh? God is so good.

Home Sweet Haiti

Home Sweet Haiti

And just like that, I am back in Haiti!

The month and a half spent at home in the States was wonderful. I am so thankful that I got to see everyone that I did! Spending time with family, catching up with friends, and eating LOTS of food that I had been missing really made my time special. Christmas and New Years were both wonderful holidays that I was able to spend with the people that mean most to me. I got to travel a lot of the east coast to visit friends and family. I even got to spend time with newborn Lainey Jean Rameau, AND attend Jordan & Sean Dillon’s wedding, both two VERY special events that I was happy to take part in.

I am also thankful that I was able to visit both churches that so avidly support me, Free Christian Church and West Newbury Congregational. Being able to speak to both congregations and share about my first months in Haiti was a humbling experience. I even got a job set up for the summer while I was home! I will be the Koinonia & YAS Day Camp Director at the West Newbury Congregational Church for the summer of 2017. I am so pumped!

I arrived back in Haiti on Monday afternoon. This week has already flown by; we started the MOHI homeschool back up again, and we didn’t miss a beat! We are missing two of our group, Faith and Glory Sutton, until the end of February. It’s their turn to enjoy a month in the States! Until their return, it’s a boy’s club!

I want to thank you all for your continued care and concern for Jenika. While I was home, so many of you shared your heart with me, and told me that her story really made an impact. I was able to stop in and see her quickly this week; I had been gone quite some time for such a little one, so she did not recognize me right away. I will be going back to check on her this week, and will keep you all posted.

I feel like coming back to Haiti was as easy as riding a bike. When I first came here in August, looking at it as ‘home’ was very different than looking at it as ‘home’ now; then, it was new, I didn’t have relationships yet, and I was finding my footing. Now, it actually does feel like coming home; coming home to my friends, to my routine, to the life that has made me into the person I am right now. God is good.

And, to sign off from today’s blog post…

GO PATRIOTS! 🙂

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Hi everyone!

I got home this past Saturday- things hit the ground running, which is why I have not posted yet! I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible while I am home.

The last week in Haiti was a great one. The kids put on a wonderful Christmas pageant, and we finished off the first half of the year wonderfully! I will miss my kiddos while I’m gone. We also were able to do a day of medical outreach and water filtration last Thursday in Roche a Bateau, which I was thankful for before my extended absence in the States.

I will not be blogging while I am home, as I hope to catch up with all of you in person! I will pick back up when I return to Haiti at the end of January.

You can reach me via my email, Facebook, or my (new) stateside number! I will leave all of that information below.

Much love to you all, and Merry Christmas!!

Email: alicia.dolimpio@gmail.com

Facebook: Alicia D’Olimpio

Number: 9783977927

Let Your Heart Be Light

Let Your Heart Be Light

This past week has been a joyful one to be sure!

The students and I are getting ready for Christmas. We spent a lot of time getting as much work done as possible before our long break (I’ve become “that” teacher….); we’ve been preparing for our Christmas Pageant, which will be taking place at the MOHI church this Friday evening at 5 p.m; we also have a Christmas party during the day on Friday, to celebrate! I have been so impressed with my students and their progress over the past few months. It’s crazy to know that when I get back here at the end of January, there will only be four months of school left. Before I head home on Saturday, I will be writing up individual ‘report cards’ for each of my students, as well as preparing work for them to do over the break, as a result of my extended time in the States.

Also during this past week, Angie and I stopped to check in on Jenika. Angie checked on Jenika’s general health, and I brought a can of formula. Again, I want to thank all of you who have been praying for her, as well as those of you who have donated. I have experienced immense amounts of generosity for this precious girl; my heart is full. I will be in communication with MOHI while I am in the States, so I will be able to keep tabs on Jenika even during my absence.

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Jenika & her mother Tailande during our check in

This week is going to be busy! Along with preparing to leave, Christmas activities, and making sure my students are ready for the break, a group of us here are also planning on taking a trip south again to Roche-à-Bateau to do some medical outreach and water treatment. Angie’s PA friend Nicole will be arriving at MOHI on Wednesday to replenish our medical supply, and we, along with other MOHI members, will be doing a day trip on Thursday.

Sitting on the porch this Sunday afternoon, a cool breeze blowing, and the ocean in the background, I am experiencing mixed emotions about leaving for a month and a half. This place has become home for me; it has become a place of constant growth, healing, encouragement,  and beauty. It took a few weeks for me to feel like this; as some of you may recall, one of my first blog entries here mentioned homesickness. I can trace the switch right to the hurricane. The coming of Matthew, and then the experience of the aftermath, changed my heart and mind. I knew that God had me here at that time, at this time, for a reason, and that was enough for me. I was all in, finally, and I haven’t looked back since.

That being said, I am VERY excited to be home. I miss everyone, family and friends, and look forward to seeing each and every one of you. I am excited to share my heart, my experiences, and God’s work and love in my life.

I am not sure of what my phone number will be when I arrive, so I will alert everyone to that as soon as I am able. Until then, continue to use Facebook Messenger and email to contact me, as many of you have been doing! I will be flying into Boston on Saturday evening. Please pray for safe, God-controlled travels next Saturday! I know it’s been snowy back home… 🙂

I will update this blog and my email group when I return home. After that, I will not be blogging until I return to Haiti at the end of January!

He is the reason for the season!

With a Thankful Heart

With a Thankful Heart

Happy December! That’s weird to type out since it’s about 80 degrees here…

Last week there wasn’t much of an update, just a shoutout of thankfulness to you all. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and are ready to head into the Christmas season with joyful hearts!

The past few weeks have been very productive! Our MOHI Education Cooperative class is doing great; I am so impressed by the work my students have done, and they have a lot to show for it, too! We have been working hard, but also have had lots of fun, positive opportunities to grow as a group. Last week, the students put on their very own ‘Thanksgiving Play’, where they reenacted the story of the very first Thanksgiving for all of our guests.

We had about 30-40 guests come to Mirliton for a Thanksgiving meal, and it was a wonderful time. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so I was a bit nervous that the day would come and I would be an emotional mess, missing home. Well, I needn’t have worried, because Thanksgiving here in Haiti, spent with my ‘adopted’ and ‘extended’ family in Jesus made the day so overwhelmingly beautiful. It was different, for sure, but it was a good different. We all made something that we traditionally have at our tables at home, so I made the yummy apple pie that I’ve been perfecting the past few years (it just gets better and better each year) and the D’Olimpio family stuffing that we have had on the Thanksgiving table ever since I can remember. Once our guests arrived, we all sat down to eat together, thankful for what God has given us. As I was eating and looking around the choukoun, a line from ‘my song’ came to my head: “I’ve been born again into a family, Your blood flows through my veins”. It described perfectly how I was feeling; I have been born again into a new family, the family of God, and it doesn’t matter if we are ‘humanely’ related…His blood flows through all of our veins, therefore we are part of the only family that matters.

After we finished eating, my students put on the play and they were SO WONDERFUL. We even had Pastor Lex make a special appearence as King George! My little Native Americans and Pilgrims not only put on such a spotless show, but they had so much fun doing it and were all smiles afterwards. I think we have a positive thing going, so guess what? We are now planning our next gig, our very own Christmas Pageant. The kids and I just couldn’t wait, so the day after Thanksgiving we read the story of the birth of Jesus in preparation. We will start getting ready this week, and plan on putting it on for the families (and maybe even the MOHI congregation?) the Friday before I come home for Christmas.

Speaking of, I return home for Christmas on December 17, and will be staying until January 29. I would love to see everyone that I can, so please email me or Facebook message me if you would like to find a time to meet up between those dates!

Thank you to those of you who read my blog on Jenika and have reached out and/or donated. She has received some formula over the past couple weeks, and I intend on going into the village this weekend to see how she is doing, and to find out what her most pressing needs are. I will keep everyone updated on her status.

I am always accepting donations for my continued ministry here in Haiti, and now for Jenika’s cause as well. Please contact me if you have any questions on how to make a specific donation to my ministry, to Jenika’s cause, or to Mission of Hope International in general.

Thankful

Thankful

Last night, I was sitting on the porch with Angie and Renee. We were relaxing in our usual way of chatting and playing our favorite dice game, and listening to our normal music. “My song” as it has come to be known as amongst my family and friends, ‘No Longer Slaves’ came on- and its not just ‘my song’- it’s me & God’s song. The words remind me that no matter what I have gone through, am going through, or will go trough, I don’t need to be a slave to fear; I am a child of God.

So, sitting on the porch of my home here in Haiti, with my two very dear friends, laughing and talking, I had one of those moments where I’m removed from myself. With ‘my song’ playing in the background, I looked at who I had in front of me, what I had around me, and marveled at this life I have been given. He split the sea so I could walk right through it, has drowned my fears in perfect love, and has rescued me countless times. He has given me this beautiful life, and has used so many people & places in this world to remind me of His grace, power, and love.

Spending Thanksgiving here in Haiti, the place where God brought me back to Him a year and a half ago, I am the most thankful I have ever been in my life.

I am so beyond thankful for all of you at home that continue to support me while I am here in Haiti. You are truly God’s hands and feet in my life. I love you all!

Happy Thanksgiving ❤️