Category: Mission Stories
We Hope To See You THIS FRIDAY…
I am SO happy to report that Jose, Levi, and I made it safely to the states last week! (Phew!)
We were able to spend several days in Kansas City AND made it in time to attend Malaya’s graduation ceremony! I have some really cool stories, pictures, and videos to share – which I hope to post in the next few days.
Today I realized that I never officially announced (on this blog) that we found the flights we needed and WILL actually be at the party!
Sadly, I know many of our friends are unable to attend this weekend. I wish we had more options for dates but we are limited – especially since we fly back home next week.
However, if you are unable to come – would you please consider mailing Malaya a congratulations card?
We would like to surprise her at the party and have them hanging by one of the tables. This way, she will see she’s surrounded by love…regardless of how many people are available to participate in the celebration.
Cards can be sent to:
PO BOX 516
Versailles, KY 40383
IF YOU NEED MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE PARTY – HERE IS THE LINK WITH ALL OF THE DETAILS: GRAD PARTY
Pray for Haiti….On Brink of Civil War
This article was posted today. Please pray for God to make His presence known in this country that we love with all of our heart. It requires a God-Sized miracle….which we fully know He is capable of.
Lord. Have. Mercy
2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield[b] and the horn[c] of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
5 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
Lunise Jules, Mercy Corps Country Director for Haiti, says:
“Places that were previously considered relatively safe are no longer safe. Nowhere is safe, and nobody is safe. The population is being chased, sometimes dragged out of their houses, kidnapped, and killed for no reason and with no dignity, like animals.
“We are on the brink of a civil war between gangs and civilians. The population has been pushed to make impossible decisions, like choosing between taking children to a hospital or health clinics to treat cholera at the risk of being kidnapped and killed, or staying home and hoping they will get better. Now they begin to ask themselves, why not seek revenge and take justice into their own hands. They don’t have the same guns gangs own, but they use machetes and rocks.”
Judes Jonathas, Deputy Program Director in Haiti, says:
“Haiti is not a functional country anymore. Corporations are leaving, stores are closed, and schools are only partially open, but families are afraid to send their kids because there are reports of teachers, parents, and even children being kidnapped in front of schools. Nearly half of the population is starving. There is no local food production anymore. If a gang occupies an area, farmers are no longer allowed to plant, and when they manage to harvest, markets are closed, so they cannot sell their goods. Families can no longer work because businesses are not operating, and most of the time, their only income is the money received from humanitarian organizations like Mercy Corps.
“We are also very concerned about the growing number of cholera cases, but with the current chaotic situation, it is hard even to quantify the exact number. The rampant violence is still mostly affecting Port-au-Prince. As soon as you leave the capital, it’s like stepping into another country, at least in terms of security. Families in the earthquake-affected areas still struggle to put food on the table, but they are not afraid of walking around at night.”
To read more of the story – please click here.
Celebrate Malaya With Us on May 26th!
This past year has gone by quickly… and yet in so many ways – each day has felt like FOREVER!
It’s still taking me a lot of time to “be okay” with having a child living in a different country. Yet I know this is just the beginning of many, long, hard good-byes… as each of my kids keep growing like weeds! I wish there was a way to slow that down!!
It’s hard to believe that our little girl is old enough to graduate from High School. It’s even harder for my mind to grasp that I will soon have a girl in college! I feel so old! LOL!
She’s been accepted into several top-tier Criminal Justice programs all over the states. After much prayer and consideration – she will be starting the University of Cincinnati this fall.
Before Malaya headed to Haiti this past March, Marla wrote a beautiful tribute to our little girl, I am posting it below.
ON MISSION, BY MARLA CRISMAN (3/16/23)
Lots of friends & students are on mission this week. Some for the first time & some obediently going again
I couldn’t let this day slip away without sharing how one of those students is on my heart in a unique way & how I have incredible gratitude, respect & love for her
These are her bags. Packed in my car, again. We did this at Christmas, also! (Some of you heard about the Christmas ham crisis from that trip).
Anyway, this girl isn’t a fan of taking photos or drawing attention to herself. Thus, the photo of her suitcases instead of her beautiful face. She’s been on mission since the day she was born. Her parents & grandparents are missionaries in Haiti. So, she was born into this call on their lives.
Haiti has been her home until this school year when she came to stay with us & attend senior year in Kansas City. When I first met her, she was about five years old living in extreme NW Haiti serving the people there alongside her parents. Of the numerous trips I made with student groups to her parents’ mission, I always found her serving, leading & caring for our team as well as mission staff & kids.
Am I surprised at her GPA? Her work ethic? How she has excelled the first year she set foot in an American public school? That she’s been accepted to her university of choice? No. None of it surprises me
What inspires me, though, is how she spends many hours in the days/weeks leading up to a trip home to Haiti preparing/packing/re-packing all the things that will bring joy & comfort to her family & their staff & the children who live on their campus
She could’ve spent spring break here. She could’ve spent spring break resting (she needs some rest!) or going somewhere to indulge herself
But, she’s on mission. On mission with her life & her whole heart & I’m so thankful to call her my friend
Love you, Malaya!
IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE OUR GIRL, MALAYA
I was waiting a bit before I posted an update about our scheduled celebration this May. Now that MAF no longer flies in Haiti, we are doing our best to find alternate transportation to PAP.
We are scheduled to fly out earlier in May, as Malaya’s graduation is on Mother’s Day. We have a few “soft” reservations with smaller companies who “think” they’ll be able to accommodate us. So please pray that we will be successful in our efforts to be there for her ceremony as well as this fun celebration.
We plan to have the gathering at Journey Church which is in Versailles, KY. The reception will be simple with cake and punch. We encourage anyone who comes to bring along their favorite desserts to share as well!
We have reserved a space from 4pm-6pm. Both my parents and I will do a 25-minute mission update starting around 5:15pm. It’s very difficult to give personal updates on public platforms, so this will be a more intimate look at the ministries we are leading on both of our campuses.
We would like to get an estimate on how many people may be available to attend. This will be a very laidback time together, but if you are planning to come – please send a quick email to email@example.com (If your plans change, it’s not a big deal. We just want an idea on how much cake we need!)
If you would like to send Malaya a congratulations card, please feel free to do that! When all of the kids at her school started mailing out invitations, she felt awkward as she doesn’t know anyone to even send them too. I explained that her community may not look the same as everyone else in her school – but they care just as deeply for her.
Cards can be sent to:
PO BOX 516
Versailles, KY 40383
Short Spring Break Update…
Malaya spent her spring break here this past March. Due to increased security concerns & recent threats from the “voodoo” community, we didn’t publicize her trip here at the time. As we continue to tackle very difficult & serious issues within our community, we have experienced countless curses buried all around our property. We have had to increase our nighttime security presence as well.
I do want to share one piece of INCREDIBLE NEWS– – which is the fact that the crates FINALLY arrived safely! It was perfect timing, as Malaya tirelessly worked to help us sort, organize, and give away these much needed supplies. We will not be posting pictures of the supplies on any public platform. However, if you have donated and would like to update your group/church, please reach out and I can email them to you.
Many have asked whether we were able to secure a generator yet. We now have the funding to purchase it from PAP! PRAISE THE LORD!!
However, traveling by road is not safe. We planned to have the generator sent from PAP to Cap Haitian by boat, and then travel by land from there. Thankfully, we did a trial run – testing this method. We shipped 2 large back-up battery systems... before sending such a large and expensive piece of equipment.
That truck and the supplies were kidnapped. We lost $3500.00 in batteries. There are Haitians who had supplies on that truck who lost EVERYTHING. There were also other missions who lost their supplies too. Our family was just a small part of a much bigger group of people who were effected by this tragedy.
Though that was a tough loss, we thank God for His discerning spirit – which kept us from sending the generator even though we REALLY wanted to. We still only have power a few hours a day.
We know that in the big scheme of things – not having power is not the worst/biggest issue we are facing right now. But man is it annoying! It seems selfish to complain how miserable we are when so many others suffer far beyond our understanding. But the reality is – we need this generator to safely make its way here for our campus. Please pray for God to reveal a way!
No Balloons, No Streamers – No Problem!
Some folks have emergency medical kits – emergency car kits – emergency weather kits….
However FOR ME – my MOST needed kit seems to be my “emergency party” one.
That’s right – if you have a party emergency… all I need to know is the theme, color, or occasion! NO balloons, NO streamers?!?! – – NO PROBLEM!! I can take care of ALL of those party necessitates – – STAT!!
My God-daughter, Kandiance, turned 5 years-old on Sunday, April 2nd! Her mother is our campus nurse and has been a VERY dear friend of ours for over a decade now.
The family had planned their own little celebration. Sadly, there was a death in the family and the adults needed to leave town. I told them they could leave Kandiance with me.
On that Sunday night, my sweet little girl had the saddest eyes …as she told me that there was NO MORE party, games, or cake. She had been looking forward to her birthday all month long. Well…. I can’t let ANY kid of mine miss out on a party!! That’s not how this family works!
SO, BY THAT MONDAY MORNING – – I pulled together the quickest surprise party I had EVER done!
By 10am – Momma Gigi was baking a cake, Pierre was inviting 11 little girls over for a slumber party, Jose was cleaning the yard & blowing up pool floats, Gabe was in the depot digging out the “girl party” tubs, – -AND – – the rest of us were busy decorating, finding games, and sorting party favors!
The party started at 4:30pm and lasted until 9am on Tuesday! Below are some pictures from that fun-filled, last-minute, surprise party! #neveradullmoment
Rosie’s Granny In The Mole…
We had such a pleasant and COMPLETELY unexpected visit from Rosie’s granny this month!
We send monthly support to her family, but we haven’t actually seen her in person for nearly 3 years! She lives 5 hours away from us. She is deaf and doesn’t know ASL, which makes it difficult for us to communicate with her regularly.
For those of you who do not know the story of Rosie’s Granny.... you can click HERE to read about it.
Granny showed up on Good Friday! I was over in the cafeteria, decorating for Sunday’s Easter Meals. I heard a motorcycle pull through the gates and watched it park right in front of the cafeteria. I had NO IDEA who it was; I assumed it was someone dropping off supplies from downtown. I continued hanging decorations until I felt the tightest squeeze I have ever felt! I turned around and sure enough….there she was….GRANNY!
Rosie was over in the shakoon, sitting with Momma Gigi. I yelled over that GRANNY WAS HERE – and just like the scene out of a movie – I watched Rosie run as fast as I have ever seen! She rushed to granny and picked her right up! All the kids on campus were screaming! Momma Gigi, Asher, and I were in tears…. we haven’t seen Rosie light-up like that in a very long time. It was the most beautiful and precious little reunion!
Granny hasn’t seen Rosie since her scoliosis surgery! She’s about 2 feet taller than granny now!
This past week has been an unforgettable time for both Rosie & her granny! They spent time at the beach, shopped downtown, cooked for each other, and spent hours and hours watching movies together on the patio!
Granny left a few days ago, but we are still laughing at all the crazy things she did this week! She’s seriously a hoot!! She has such a light and breezy spirit about her!
What an awesome and much needed surprise this was for Rosie and the whole family!
A Different Kind of Community Outreach…
The past few months have been a roller-coaster of emotions – to say the least. The spiritual and mental battles we have faced over these past few months only seem to be intensifying. We KNOW the reasons why, but it doesn’t make it any easier.
Since February 5th, I’ve been hosting a 3-hour “therapy” session with 180-250 children from the community. At first, we all met together as one big group. I honestly wasn’t sure how “well received” these meetings would be. After all, there is ONLY ONE focus for these gatherings…. to discuss physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
However, after our first 3 sessions together – we were maxed out on space. The children were consistently returning and inviting their friends and extended family members to join. So after much prayer, we decided to add another 3-hour session and divide the children in half.
I have hired 14 leaders to help me each week – all teenagers. I also “hired” my own kids to be apart of this program as well. We continue to work with our stateside trauma therapists – updating them weekly with our findings and seeking advice as we move forward. They have offered to FaceTime with all of our leaders on a weekly basis as needed.
This family ministry has fully engaged my children in a way I never thought possible. If you could watch Gabe sit down with little kids, asking them to put bandages over the areas of their “doll” that had been touched….or see Mikela fill out worksheets with tears rolling down her cheeks as the children answer questions…. you’d be overcome with emotions much like Jose & I. This program has opened up a lot of very difficult family discussions as they try to process all the information that takes place each week.
I spend 2-4 hours with the group of leaders every Saturday so we can prepare for the following week. The teens can read and write very well. They understand how to communicate serious subjects with children. They also know that EVERYTHING discussed must be kept confidential in order to protect the children who attend.
We ultimately divided all the children into 7 teams/families. Three of those teams meet together each week for session 1 – and the other 4 teams meet together for session 2. Each of the teams have 2 leaders assigned to them. The idea is that each team becomes a small family, learning to trust and share their stories freely with the leaders.
I have created my own curriculum. I have powerpoint slides, lessons, children’s books, activities, worksheets, self-defense classes, coloring, etc.. – ALL translated into Creole!
At the end of every session, we spend 30 minutes completing worksheets with all of the kids. We play a video and pass out coloring sheets, so there is something for everyone to do – – WHILE the team leaders call each child individually for a private conversation. It is through these private conversations that we ask very specific questions about any abuse they have endured or secrets they would like to reveal.
I truly believed that these private conversations would be short and the worksheets would be mostly blank. I know it takes awhile for kids to open up AND this program is just something I made-up on my own. I seriously have no idea what I’m teaching from week to week. I just make it up as we go.
Last week while I was talking, I totally got off track and randomly pretended that I was an abuser and Pierre was just a little boy. My plan was to drag him to my home…as part of an object lesson that I was making up on the spot! LOL! After we finished the lesson – I decided I’m gonna teach self-defense techniques the following week. So I spent this week watching HOURS of self-defense videos on youtube.
I taught the leaders 4 different techniques to break free from attackers- and they then taught their teams! The kids LOVED it so much – I told them we would try to learn 2 more moves each week for the next month! I have NO IDEA what those moves will be – but I watched enough hours of them on youtube I’m sure I won’t have any trouble!
Anyways, as we started meeting with the leaders to discuss what they learned during their private conversations – we were BLOWN away. Not only are they sharing about their tragic experiences IN GREAT DETAIL, but they are also naming the abusers who are doing it to them.
Sadly, we’ve identified in very specific and graphic detail – 132 children who have experienced sexual abuse from family members, neighbors, teachers, friends, and strangers.
As we process this information and look for ways to intervene – I have encouraged the children to share with someone else that they trust who is in their immediate circle. I also offered to go with them if they wanted me to. I explained that they can also come to me anytime – day or night – if they are in trouble.
The last few weeks we’ve had a dozen moms show up at our sessions. . At first I was nervous because these are serious subjects and if the adults in town knew what we were discussing – those children wouldn’t be allowed to attend. I didn’t want to do the lessons in front of them, so Pierre and I met with them first outside of the cafeteria.
I was moved to tears as they revealed their reasons for visiting. Their children went home and told them about what happened to them. The moms believed them but they didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know how to handle the situation with the (neighbor/uncle/abuser). The children told them that Mme Castillo said that anyone can see her if they are in trouble. So the moms were there asking for my advice about what to do!
I just can’t….. I mean the kids are HEARING and ACTING and MANY moms are seeking help!
I can’t even wrap my head around that.
There’s fruit…. there’s already fruit from this program.
With this fruit there are MANY thorns and weeds. There’s voodoo curses and threats constantly against our family. I don’t want to go into detail about that right now….but we just ask for you to lift up this program, our leaders, the children, and this community as we continue to peel back each layer of darkness!
I’m not comfortable yet sharing a lot of photos from these meetings, as I want to be careful & protective of those who come. BUT – below I’ve included a few snapshots with some captions to give you an idea about how we host these sessions.
This upcoming week we will begin bringing children into my play therapy room where we can begin to start the process of healing. (This link will take you to a previous blog about the playroom.)
**PLEASE NOTE: THE KIDS PICTURED BELOW (WHERE FACES CAN BE SEEN) ARE EITHER THE STAFF’S CHILDREN OR APART OF OUR MISSION PROGRAMS. THEY ARE NOT FROM THE COMMUNITY. AS I STATED ABOVE – IT IS IMPORTANT WE PROTECT THE IDENTITIES OF THESE PRECIOUS CHILDREN FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY.
Prayers For God To Make A Way…
MAF has tirelessly sacrificed and filled the gap for our family and ministry for over a decade!
Through my MANY medical emergencies- we’ve become very close friends with the pilots. They have stayed on our campus many times and text with Jose ALL the time (whether they want to or not!)😂😉
The running joke is that they know when we book a cargo flight – they’ll be spending HOURS loading everything Jose could think of! #NoPoundLeftBehind
It’s funny because they live in PAP but Jose buys things from there that they never even knew you could find!
They have flown our family on holidays and Sundays and during the most inconvenient times for them. They work patiently and graciously with everyone who is blessed to know them.
Losing this incredible ministry tool – is definitely prompting a whole new level of anxiety for all of the missionaries on the field. We rely on them when things don’t go as planned. And as you already know – there’s NEVER a dull moment for us!
I am going to be required to upgrade my faith and belief in God’s sovereignty …. which I know will feel VERY uncomfortable at times. It’s like having no phone signal – and therefore having no way to call 911 when/if you need it.
But God has not changed our calling or where we are meant to serve. I have NO idea what will happen to those of us who depend on this vital ministry.
But what I do believe is … whenever that next family emergency unfolds (and it will) – -He will make a way where there seems to be no way.
Please pray for MAF’s staff and family as they slow down operations and officially close April 1st.
Please pray that God will reveal a new plane service that can fill this gap – during this next year while MAF is away.
Save The Date – May 26th Celebration…
As many of you know, Malaya will be graduating
from Liberty North High School this May! WAHOO!!!
Malaya has already been accepted into several different colleges and will make her final decision soon. **Or maybe I should say her financial aid package will help her decide soon!! 🙂
The graduation ceremony will be in Missouri during Mother’s Day weekend. She will fly back into Haiti at the end of May to enjoy the summer before fall classes.
However, before she flies back home- – we want to host a little reception for her in Versailles, KY on May 26th from 4pm-6pm.
My parents, Larry & Diana Owen, will be giving a presentation for Waves of Mercy. We will also be giving an update on our ministry in the Mole! As many of you know, it’s a RARE occasion to hear both my parents and my family share ministry updates at the same time! So do NOT miss out!
The reception will be simple. We are asking everyone to bring their favorite dessert to share. We will give more details as it gets closer to time.
But for now – be sure to pencil us in on your calendar!!