Monday, June 29, 2009

Bonswa from Ayiti!

Site of Our Future Home

Bonswa from Ayiti!

That is Creole for “Good afternoon from Haiti!” It is a warm but quite tolerable Monday afternoon here in Pignon. We had a great weekend and spent our Sunday morning and early afternoon with Christie and Jean Jean Mompremier, their girls and a team from Orange City, Iowa. Jean Jean is a pastor of the Maranatha church in Bohoc not far from here.

We were so grateful to receive the invitation to go to church with them and then enjoy an “American” style meal complete with hamburgers! The kids really got a kick out of that. They also enjoyed playing with several kids, including the Mompremier’s daughters Tana and Kerri. They also got to pet their cats and new puppies, which was a new thing for them as we are constantly telling them, “DON’T TOUCH THE ANIMALS!” They just don’t get what we’re so uptight about. I am not a germaphobe, but I am honestly grateful for the manufacturers of germ-X!

We went to our first “football” (soccer) game last night. Pignon played a team from near Port-au-Prince. It was pretty crazy at times. The players get pretty fired up and so do the fans. It ended in a tie and a mad dash for the one small doorway in the concrete wall. We had to really hold on to the kids for fear they’d be run over. Our evening ended with a DVD of “Funniest Home Videos.” It was an oldie but goodie! We of course do not have any regular TV programming and DVDs are the only thing we can watch. It is only on occasion as we don’t want to start a habit of being able to watch it all the time.

Jared is already being Mr. Fix-it. Our generator was shutting off shortly after being started last Friday night, so he worked on it Saturday and it seems to be working again. He also had to fix the plumbing in the kitchen sink after it started leaking from the drain. I guess you can never get away from home maintenance!

Will and Natalie are doing well and making friends pretty easily even though there is a language barrier. I guess playing is a universal language. Will had a hard day last Friday and said he was staying in Iowa when we got back. Please keep him (and Natalie) in your prayers as this is quite an adjustment.

Today we are burning a huge pile of dried weeds and dead trees removed from the area where we are finishing our house. We were told it could be finished in two weeks, but then realized that it will always be “just two weeks!” It’s just one of those quirky things about this culture. Hopefully the contractor will be coming by today to give us an estimate on cost for completing the house and give us an idea of when he can start. Pray for hard workers and a lot of patience for us.

We are praying that our truck will be ready sometime this week. It’s tough not being able to get to certain places like the airport without waiting for a driver. We are looking forward to seeing the team from Third Church on Thursday. Will and Natalie (and Jared and myself) are really anxious to see Grandma and Grandpa Nikkel as well. We’re praying the weather cooperates so the rain doesn’t bog down the grass airstrip they will come in on.

Our Creole is coming along…slowly! Jared is pretty sharp and has some practice; I however don’t retain things well. The other night our tutor asked me in Creole if I was a good student. I had to reply honestly, “No, I am not a good student.” He just laughed. We really are doing pretty well considering we’ve only been here for 11 days. Feels like an eternity sometimes!

I think we finally have our critter situation under control. For the first several days we had cockroaches, misquitos and flies all over. Then there was the night Will woke us up screaming for Jared because he saw something in the bathroom. Jared told him it was probably just a shadow. Will said it went under the door and sure enough a 4-5 inch centipede came scurrying out. Jared grabbed MY shoe and started beating it, then sprayed it with roach spray. Apparently these are mutant centipedes because it was still going strong. I put the shoe on and stepped on it, and that nasty thing still didn’t die. Jared finally scooped it up in the dust pan and got rid of it. Bugs are a way of life here so we had better get used to it!

I had better close this up as we need to get to the internet café to send it out. Last Thursday night we went fearing it would rain, and it did. The street outside the door of the building was literally a river. The kids stood on the step and watched as branches, leaves and occasionally a bag of trash would float by. We ended being trapped there until about 7:00 when the café overseer let us out another typically locked door. Guess we learned our lesson on that one!

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We know we are blessed because of it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hello from Haiti!

Hello from Haiti! Well, we made it through our first week. I am happy to report that we are all doing well. We have been so blessed this first week, but we have also been challenged. To be honest I’ve had to stop a few times this week and ask myself what the heck we’re doing here.

When we arrived, the hospital was kind enough to have some cooks available to prepare some meals for us. On Friday a small team arrived from Community Coalition for Haiti so we had some company for the week. We hired our own cook on Saturday to help with market, laundry, cooking and cleaning. It seems kind of weird hiring someone to do things that we normally do ourselves, but the way of life here is so different. Her name is Beatris, she doesn’t speak English but she is an outstanding worker. It worked out so well because Beatris used to cook for the hospital and was let go because of lack of funding and now we have the opportunity to give her a job. I feel a little sorry for her because we keep trying to speak Creole to her. She’s a really good sport though. We just finished a pseudo conversation and we found she has 4 children: Benis, 20, Ligenz, 18, Finel, 11, and Sharen, 9. Our Creole is starting to come around. We are working with a tutor each night for about an hour and are starting to think we might be able to talk to someone soon.

We also got started on our house on Monday. We hired 2 workers to start cleaning the weeds and brush from around and inside the house. For those who don’t know, the house is a cement block house that was started years ago but never finished. It is located in what used to be the garbage area for the hospital compound. On Monday we worked all day with picks and machetes and cleared a lot of brush. The Haitians I worked with worked circles around me. We also hired two guys on Tuesday and Wednesday as well and were able to clean out most of the area. I am going over there in a little while to pick up more garbage. Hopefully next week we can get the “Big Boss” over here to get a price for finishing the house. Hopefully I’ll be able to post some pictures. We made a lot of progress, but still have a way to go. We’ll keep you updated.

In Haiti there is one thing you can’t miss, and that is the need that surrounds you. We still aren’t sure what niche we will fit into exactly, but it’s obvious that there are many ways we can help. As we walked out of the compound the other day there was a young boy standing at the gate. He had a large piece of flesh missing from his arm. He said he had fallen on a piece of steel a week ago. The wound had been treated with iodine but was uncovered and the bugs were swarming around it. The next day his friend brought the boy back to us, and the wound had broken open and the bugs were all over it; it had several areas of dead tissue and needed attention. His name is Joseph Evenz. The family said they couldn’t afford treatment so Stacey cleaned the wound and bandaged it with antibiotic ointment. Stacey continues to treat the wound each day, and it is now healing nicely. A short time after Stacey treated Evenz, one of the watchmen at the hospital came to us with a tropical ulcer on his leg. The wound started as a cut from a pick ax in the garden and worsened into a large sore on the leg. He was carrying a leafy branch and swatting the wound to keep the bugs off of it. Stacey has spent the last several days cleaning and removing dead tissue from the wound and providing antibiotic bandaging. They are healing nicely and are learning how to care for the wounds on their own. I can’t imagine what we will see in the future, but we are sure God’s plan is good.

We got some really good news this week. We put a deposit on our truck a few weeks ago and were told that they had no trucks, and we would have to wait for a truck to come from Japan which would be about 2 months. Magically when the dealership found out we have all the money, they came up with a truck for us. We hope to have it in a week or so and are really looking forward to it.

This has turned out to be a little longer than I had planned. It’s so hard to convey not only what is actually happening but the thoughts and emotions that have come along with it. There are so many things that we can’t cover them all. We’re so grateful for the support we have and look forward to getting another week under our belt. If you get a chance, pray for wisdom to know what to do in unfamiliar situations, that we learn the language quickly and that we start building good relationships. Also keep the missionary teams in your prayers, specifically Tim and Catie Brand and a group from 3rd Church coming in on July 2. Take care and talk soon.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hello from Pignon!

As Beth said we arrived two days ago and are trying to get settled. We spent yesterday sorting through some stuff and getting a helper hired. She will be going to the market for us as well as cooking one meal a day and doing laundry Monday thru Friday. This morning we went with her and our translator Gevy (Jevi) to market. It was very hot and did not smell pleasant. Will and Natalie were quite an attraction, people are not used to seeing white children in Pignon.

The kids are doing wonderfully! The are so adaptable and are making friends already. Will got out his soccer ball yesterday and within 10 minutes it had a thorn in it and is not holding air. It still works, so he says! He's starting to pick up words from the other kids and will catch on very quickly if he is anything like his daddy. Natalie is making friends too and was thrilled to see Alina and Chrissy from the orphanage again.

We are without internet service and will be for awhile, no idea when the guy who installs satellite will be around. We will try to get to the internet cafe (strange to be in a country where people have no clothes and are starving, yet still has most of the technology we have...) or use the Campbell's computer at the orphanage.

A quick correction to our mailing address:

Jared and Stacey Nikkel
3170 Airman's Dr
Unit 1045-MH4H
Fort Pierce, FL 34946

We'll be in touch soon!

God Bless and thank you for your prayers!
Stacey, Jared, Will & Natalie

Thursday, June 18, 2009

They made it!

About 30 seconds after my last post, an email popped up from Jared and Stacey to let us know of their safe arrival. They are officially in Pignon, Haiti! I'll post the message below so you can read for yourselves. As you'll read, God has again shown his faithfulness in making their trip through customs completely free and uneventful!

They also received their mailing address, which is included at the bottom of their message.

Can't wait to hear more of the journey...can you?

Thanks again for your support and prayers!

Hi everyone,
Just wanted to drop a note and say that we made it, and it was relatively painless. One of our small bags did get misplaced, but we know where it is and the person who has it is trustworthy and will deliver it next week.

It is quite hot as expected, but it just rained so that was a nice relief. I am sweating profusely as I type. We did experience one very unexpected thing. We delivered 1600 pounds of our stuff to Pignon and did not have to pay any customs! We didn´t even have to see anyone. The pilot said they looked at the tubs, he told them it was personal baggage, and the customs guy walked away. I haven´t heard very many stories about someone coming to Haiti and not having to pay. God is truly good!

Oh, also our new address for those who don´t have it. We just got it today.

Jared and Stacey Nikkel
Unit 1045-MH4H
Fort Pierce, FL 34946

And They're Off!

Following their moving sale and commissioning service during the first weekend of June, the Nikkels had a few days to get last-minute items, pack and say many difficult goodbyes. They left for Ft. Pierce, Florida, last Friday, June 12, and had 5 days of relaxation before leaving for Pignon, Haiti, today.

While in Florida, Will and Natalie spent lots of time swimming and loving it! They discovered that Natalie is quite the little fish! They even tried to catch a space shuttle launch while they were there, but it was cancelled due to a leak of some kind. (Stacey reported that Will thought they should have just done it anyway.) In addition to the fun, they spent 4 hours at Sam's Club trying to buy the supplies they think they will need for the next year. Imagine trying to figure that out! Stacey said the few days of down time was really good for them, even though it is difficult to truly relax with such a big change coming.

This morning they left bright and early on an MFI (Missionary Flights International) and should have arrived in Pignon about 11:00 this morning. (Side note: Haiti does not participate in Daylight Savings Time, so they are currently on the same time as we are here in the Midwest.)

Below is a snippet from an email Stacey sent yesterday, and below that I've pasted some prayer requests she sent as well. After a long time of planning, their journey in Haiti has officially begun. Please keep them in your prayers!

"Tomorrow is coming fast and we are anxious to get to Haiti! Jared made a second trip to MFI with our luggage and found out we would be accompanied on the flight by some baby chicks and ducklings, Natalie can hardly wait to see them. Our flight should be 'non-stop' to Haiti, meaning we won't be stopping for fuel in the Bahamas. We'll pick up a customs agent in Cap Haitien on the northern coast, then fly into Pignon around 11:00. If everything goes well, we should make it through the customs check, hopefully with some of our cash left in hand. We've been told it can get pretty expensive, depending on the agent. So please pray all goes well with the flight and with customs!

We will be in touch as soon as we can. It could take some time to get someone from Port-au-Prince to come install a satellite so we will have internet service. Until then we may be able to use a local internet cafe (sounds strange for a 3rd world country!) or possibly at the Campbell's, our friends from the orphanage. At any rate we will try to get a message out to someone that we arrived and are getting settled. First order of business is to find a tutor and someone to run to market and cook for us. After that, piece of cake, right? We're looking forward to what God has in store for us and more importantly the people of Haiti."

Please pray for the Nikkels:
  • For Will and Natalie, anything the spirit lays on your heart; this is a big adjustment for them, and mom and dad need extra patience and grace during this transition as well
  • Protection over our marriage
  • Protection over our family relationships
  • Peace, patience and grace in everything we do
  • For there to be a set of truck keys in our hands soon!
  • God's mercy and grace as we are not even slightly prepared for what He has in store (it's so good to know He uses the ordinary!)
  • Anything else you can think of to add would be great....

Thanks for your continued support!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Commissioning Service

You are invited to a Commissioning Service for Jared, Stacey, Will & Natalie Nikkel on Sunday, June 7, at 7:00 pm in the Third Church sanctuary (708 E 13th St, Pella).

The service will be a special time of worship, encouragement and blessing for the Nikkels as they are commissioned to serve full-time in Pignon, Haiti. You can hear their story of God's powerful call on their lives and be part of their formal send-off. All are welcome!

Moving Sale

Hello, Many Hands Supporters! It is now less than 2 weeks until the Nikkel family leaves, and they are feverishly packing their house and preparing to be out by this Friday, June 5. There is much to do, and you can imagine that it is stressful. Not only is there the physical and practical aspects of packing, buying necessary items, deciding what to keep and sell, but there is also all the emotion of major life change, goodbyes and fear of the unknown. Please keep the Nikkels and their families in your prayers daily!

Moving Sale:
Friday, June 5: 1pm-7pm
Saturday, June 6: 8am-1pm
307 Liberty Street, Pella
(in alley)

On Friday and Saturday, June 5-6, Jared & Stacey are having a moving sale in Pella--at my house, actually! As Jared put it, "Think of all the stuff in your house, and then think of selling it." That's what will be on the sale. To name a few items, they have entertainment centers, a rocking chair, PlayStation 2, a weedeater, a leafblower, garden tools, hunting/fishing/camping gear, lots of toys, Dora the Explorer 4-wheeler, a queen size mattress, twin beds, bedding, a pre-lit Christmas tree, boys and girls clothes and much household miscellaneous. In addition, a couple other people are adding items like an infant carseat with base, infant bathtub, boppy pillow and an infant gym. Stop by and tell others! You can also see our ad in the Town Crier this week. If you have questions about anything, give me a call at 641-621-1628 or 641-780-1400. They must sell everything!

See you there!