My Summer So Far

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Saying goodbye to Haiti at the Cap-Haitien airport.

The Fourth of July usually marks the midway point of my summer break from Haiti, which began on May 25 and will end on August 25. It is difficult to believe that the summer is already halfway over. This past year was a very busy one. I held down three jobs (one at the Bible college, one at the English-language Christian high school where I also teach, and one as a freelance translator), which led to fatigue at certain points of the year. In addition to this, my parents flew out about a month before I did, making the last few weeks especially lonely. Add in the sweltering heat and I was more ready than usual this year to be flying home.

One thing missionaries to Haiti quickly realize is that while Haiti is a very poor country, it is not cheap. I had been flying American Airlines since 2014, when they first started flying into Cap-Haitien. This year, however, I found that their prices had ballooned from $400 to over $700 for a roundtrip ticket. After doing a little research, I realized that due to the quirks of airfare route pricing, it would actually be a little cheaper to fly to California (my brother had invited me to visit him and his friends in San Diego) and then on to North Carolina. After my first flight landed in Atlanta, I had a minute of minor culture shock when I went to Subway and the girl behind the counter handed me a stack of paper napkins (not 1 or 2 napkins, but a STACK!) without my even having to ask. In Haiti, where resources are almost always limited, I would have had to ask and I would have received exactly one napkin.

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“Potato Chip Rock” near San Diego

In San Diego, I spent a few days with my brother and his friends, exploring the city and eating some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in my life (one of my brother’s friends was a local and knew all the best places to go). After they flew back to Portland, I stayed with Pastor Steve Fitzpatrick, who often comes to visit us in Haiti and was gracious enough to host me at his beautiful home in the foothills. His home was close to the desert and on one day, I drove down there and hiked up into a palm oasis in the canyon (alone in 100-degree weather, which is not advisable but makes for a good story). I also got to explore the Salton Sea. On another day, Pastor Steve and I drove across the border into Mexico, which was also a unique experience.

After six days in San Diego, I packed my bags and drove north to Los Angeles, where I got to attend the wedding of one of my friends from my first year of Bible college. It was encouraging for me (still single at 32) to see my friend, who is over 40 years old, marry the love of his life. He cried a little as his bride walked down the aisle. She couldn’t have married a nicer guy.

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I traveled all the way to Santa Barbara and met a guy from Cap-Haitien!

After two nights in L.A., I spent the last night in Santa Barbara, about two hours up the coast where I connected with Jon, another friend from my Bible college days, who introduced me to a Haitian brother (Gérald, or G, as he goes by in the U.S.) in his church. G, a professional photographer, was from the same city (Cap-Haitien) as me and was a very gracious host. He gave me a book of photos he had taken on his last visit to Haiti. He will be joining us in January (Lord willing) and giving his time to the Lord by volunteering as a photographer/videographer in our ministry. It is amazing to see the connections the Lord weaves together for us.

After flying back to North Carolina, I moved into my aunt’s house for the summer. She is in Germany for the summer but has been kind enough to let my parents and I crash here until we go back to Haiti. Shortly after returning, my mother learned that she has breast cancer. The diagnosis came as a shock and it shook all of us a little bit. We prayed earnestly that it would not be too serious and it looks like it will be an easy fix. She will still have to undergo some radiation after her procedure, however, and it remains to be seen what the side effects will be. Needless to say, we would appreciate prayers for a smooth operation and speedy recovery.

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This book scanner at UNC-Wilmington got heavy use from me.

Since returning to North Carolina, I have been spending most of my time scanning, editing, and formatting e-books for the Bible college. The school stopped printing books last year, so for the second summer in a row, I have brought back all the textbooks for the coming year to scan. It is tedious work but this is the last year I will have to do it since by the end of the summer, textbooks for all four years will have been scanned – a major accomplishment!

This past week, I took a break from the tedium of scanning in order to spend a week at the beach on Topsail Island with my family. My brother flew in from Portland and my sister drove down from West Virginia with her rambunctious 3-year-old, Sam and we met at a beach cottage a friend of ours let us stay in for free for the week.

Both of my siblings have now gone home and I’m back from the beach, a little tanner (but not much – my family is Scots-Irish, which I’m pretty sure is one short step away from being a vampire). I have one more major trip to look forward to this summer. I’ll be heading to Montreal from August 10-14 to preach at a supporting church and give a presentation about our ministry. I am excited since it will be my first visit to Quebec and the first time that I have ever preached in French (although I’ve preached in Creole many times).

In the meantime, I’ll be putting my nose to the grindstone to get the rest of the books ready before heading home on August 25. If you’d like to connect with me, drop me a line in the comments and I’ll give you my e-mail and phone number. I’d love to hear from you.

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“If You Will Hold the Rope”

245931835_640In 2010, just before the earthquake happened, I was sitting in the Port-au-Prince airport, waiting on a flight that was running late. As so often happens in Haiti, I struck up a conversation with a couple of airport workers who, once they discovered I was in seminary, started me asking questions about the Bible. Before long, a small crowd had gathered. I remember looking around and hearing what I believe was probably the voice of the Lord, saying, “They are so hungry and have so little (spiritual) bread.” (To read the whole story, click here.) Haiti is full of churches and religion, but it has very few trained leaders in local churches.

In 2013, I moved back to Haiti with a desire to be part of the solution. I wanted to help disciple young leaders for the local church. For the last four years, I have been teaching at the Bible college my Dad founded. I have had the opportunity to teach some exceptional students, but I have also seen how great the need is for theological and spiritual formation among local-church leaders there. (Once, one of my students raised his hand after I had taught for about half an hour on the Gospel of John, mentioning the Trinity several times, and nervously asked the question, “What is the Trinity?”) The task of teaching in a foreign language has been difficult but interactions like that have helped to convince me that I am doing valuable work.

Doing that work requires money. (I often wish it didn’t, but it does.) For my work at the Bible college, I receive the equivalent of about $50 per month. Last year, I also began working as a history teacher in an English-language high school for which I receive $350 per month. I also have a translation business on the side, but my income is mostly supplemented by partners like you who contribute to keep me financially afloat. When I was first considering moving back to Haiti five years ago, I told the Lord that he would have to help me raise whatever I needed because I am naturally shy and not very talented at self-promotion. The Lord came through and he has done so every year. I have never had to worry about money since moving back.

However, I am at a point in my life where I need to start building a larger base of support. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere but paradoxically, it is also an expensive place to live. I am looking for at least 10 regular partners who would sign up to give on a monthly basis. Here is what I spend my money on:

  • Rent/food — My parents have never asked me for anything, but I give them $300 per month because they are allowing me to live in their house, eat their food, and drive their car. They lost a renter this year (they were renting out their guesthouse) and I would like to be able to move in and pay them the $500 per month they lost.
  • Student loan repayment – about $300 per month
  • Car insurance/vehicle fees – about $40 per month right now; will probably go up soon
  • Gas for the car – runs about $100 per month (diesel is about $3.20 a gallon in Haiti right now)
  • Travel – I travel back to the U.S. once a year. Roundtrip airfare to NC is running about $700 once a year or broken down over 12 months, about $60 per month.
  • I would also like to be able to have medical/dental insurance for myself.

I would like to raise at least $1,000 per month in support to complete the translation and teaching incomes. I currently raise about $130. With your help, I will be able to continue sowing my life into theological training for young Haitian leaders.

In Philippians 1:5, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi that they had been his “partners in the gospel from the first day until now.” Similarly, William Carey, before setting out as the first missionary to India, famously told a small band of brothers in England that “I will go down if you will hold the rope.” Some are called to go; others are called to give. All have a part to play in Kingdom work. Would you be my partner in the Gospel? Would you hold the rope?

To give:

  • Visit www.thelordstable.org, click “Give Now” under the Giving menu, and set up a recurring donation for the amount you choose.
  • Specify “Missions” under Fund and type “Monthly Support – John Adams, Haiti” in the Memo line.

WANTED: Creative Intern

394968_538b_7Do you have photography & video-editing skills? Do you have a heart for missions? Would you like to put those two together? If so, this internship is for you!

Rehoboth Ministries, a Christian ministry that has been serving Haiti since 1983, is seeking a creative, mature believer with a heart for missions who will develop videos highlighting its work.

Who We Are

Rehoboth Ministries is a Christian ministry that has been operating in Haiti since 1983. The Rehoboth umbrella covers five local churches, three schools with a school lunch program, and a Bible college, all in the Cap-Haitien area. Our work is focused on extending the Kingdom of God in Haiti through the discipleship of believers in the local church.

Time Frame

We are flexible but ideally, the intern would spend at least two weeks around January 2018 (the month that our new church building will be dedicated).

Responsibilities

  • Developing promotional videos to provide an overview of the ministry and highlight needs with an eye to fundraising.
  • Enhance the ministry’s presence across a variety of platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and others.
  • Optional: Teach a seminar on photography/videography/web design to interested Haitian students.

Requirements

Time
A two-week commitment is required. Start and end dates can be adjusted based on the needs of the intern.

Other Requirements

  • Strong organizational and time-management skills
  • Demonstrated ability to multi-task, prioritize, and set and meet deadlines
  • Some knowledge of social media platforms
  • Possess attention to detail
  • Passport valid through the end date of the internship

Skills

Photography, Videography, Social Media, Writing, Creative

How to Apply

To apply, send a short autobiography, personal testimony, and a sample of your photography and videography here. We hope to hear from you soon!

Giving Opportunity: I Need a Car

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I’m looking for something fuel-efficient. Maybe something with a little more room than this, though.

In my last post, I mentioned that I’ve been teaching this year at a local Christian English-language high school. About two-thirds of my students are Haitians and the other third are missionary kids from the U.S. Teaching them has been challenging, but it has also been a lot of fun. It has added a level of joy to my life that I’ve realized had been missing over my first few years on the mission field.

To get to school, I have to commute about 20 minutes outside of town. The school is in a very simple concrete building with a big yard. There has been lots of construction noise to get used to since the school is adding on a whole new wing to accommodate the high schoolers (formerly, it went only through 8th grade). Since my parents and I share the same (17-year-old) vehicle, commuting to school five days a week has put some limits on what they can do and also puts more strain on the vehicle than usual. Since the school has asked me to go full-time next year, I badly need a vehicle of my own, especially if I end up getting married in the near future.

Used vehicles in Haiti can be expensive. Just the other day, I was looking at a 2005 Toyota Rav4 whose blue book value was only $6,000. The owner was asking $8,500, though. He felt justified in sticking to that price because of how expensive it is to import vehicles. If I had bought the same vehicle in Miami, he said, the customs charges would have brought it back to his asking price. Since most car-shoppers in Haiti tend to be upper-class elites or NGO workers with generous stipends, he might very well get his asking price. That leaves (relatively) poor missionaries like myself in a tough spot.

Long story short: I think I need to raise about $10,000 to buy a decent secondhand vehicle, I need to have the money by the end of this summer in order to work more hours at the school. If you would like to help, you can mail a donation for any amount to: John Adams, c/o Rehoboth Ministries, CAP 1385, 100 Airport Ave., Venice, FL 34285. (This is my preferred method of payment since PayPal takes 2.9% + 0.30 of whatever you give! However, if it is more convenient to donate through PayPal, click here.) I’ll keep you guys updated on the progress with this fundraising thermometer. Thanks in advance for your help! I could never do what I do in Haiti without the support of generous people like you.

UPDATE: Fundraising for this project is CLOSED. Thanks to all those who gave!

Sorrowful yet Rejoicing

“…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…” – 2 Corinthians 6:10

After spending the summer in North Carolina with my parents, I came back to Haiti alone this year. Since my parents had a conference to attend in October, they stayed in the U.S. for a little over a month longer than I did. I enjoyed this month of solitude far more than I had expected since the decisions constantly needing to be made kept me very busy. Upon arrival, I immediately had to get the air conditioning in the car fixed (in the sweltering late-August heat) and found that the inverter batteries we use for backup electricity in our house had worn down to the point that they needed to be replaced. As a result, we didn’t have electricity for nearly half the day until early October when we were able to purchase a replacement. During this time, in addition to my regular administrative and teaching duties at the Bible college, I started a new job at an English-language Christian school.

This semester has been an emotional rollercoaster ride. After having spent all summer digitizing books, the roll-out of the new tablets with digital books proved to be a success. The new class also had nine new students, which was far better than the 2014 class, which came in with only four. A couple of weeks later, however, I was called to the office when one of the new students showed up acting aggressively and saying disturbing things. Before the encounter was over, he had stripped naked and had to be restrained. His pastor came after about an hour and drove him home but he took off once again almost immediately and could not be found. He showed up at our school again a few weeks later and that time, I refused to let him in. A couple of days after that, I received the terrible news that he had been shot dead by a police officer. Folks who knew him said the officer had had it in him for him for years. I felt terrible after hearing this news and wished that I had driven him straight to the hospital the last time I saw him. Attending his funeral was a very sad experience.

In early October, Hurricane Matthew (a category 4 storm) swept through southern Haiti, doing a tremendous amount of damage to the towns of Cayes and Jeremie. Several hundred people were killed during the storm and over a month later, relief efforts still have not been able to provide food and shelter to everyone who needs it. To make matters worse, people have been killed while fighting over relief shipments. Our church raised a few hundred dollars and sent it down with our pastor’s wife, who was born and raised near Cayes. While northern Haiti was completely spared from the hurricane, it was not spared from four days of nonstop rain earlier this week which caused massive flooding in most of the city. Many people in our church, which is located in a low-lying part of town near the sea, were directly affected by this storm. Since Haiti has experienced a communications revolution in the last few years, most people own cell phones and can access social media inexpensively. It was surreal to see people’s status updates in real time about water up to waist-level inside their homes.

In addition to the more dramatic moments, it seems like living in Haiti brings neverending expenses with it. A brother in the church began having epileptic seizures and needed money to travel to the only part of the country where he could receive care. Our car, which is getting old requires constant attention. I drove around for the first couple of weeks without air conditioning. Next, one of the windows wouldn’t go up and everything inside got soaked when it rained. After that, the radiator started overheating. The replacement of the inverter and batteries cost over $6,000. As I write, the electric wires to our house have gone bad and we can’t get city power. Nearly everything here seems to be more expensive yet we are frequently forced to work with technicians who are less competent than they would be in the U.S. It’s frustrating. Sometimes, the expenses have nothing to do with repairs. We had to shell out money to a lawyer when our neighbors paid us an intimidation visit and took us to court over a land dispute. These things can wear down one’s patience over time. It’s difficult not to let resentment work its way into your heart.

We’ve had reasons for thanks as well, though. In October, we had a teaching visit from Steve Fitzpatrick and a couple from Quebec whose church began supporting us. An American organization also confirmed its intention of building us a new church building, a project that has been in the works since 1993 (!). In January, they will be coming to install a new water-purification system that will provide clean water to all of our schoolchildren. Also, on a personal note, it was fun to watch the Chicago Cubs win the World Series for the first time in 108 years. We know the election has shaken things up in the United States. We’re poised for a presidential election of our own here in Haiti on November 20; we pray that it will put an end to over a year of political infighting and transitional government. As the semester winds down and we head into the holidays and the new year, I want to ask for your prayers and thank you for your partnership in the Gospel this year. So far, 2016 has been a year laced with hardship but also one filled with the sustaining grace of God.

Bible College Scholarships

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Bible College Graduation

Summertime, and the living is easy! Since I last wrote, our Bible college class of 2016 has graduated. It was wonderful to have Rev. Dick Iverson, a veteran minister from Portland, Oregon, who has been hugely influential in the network of churches my parents are associated with, fly into Haiti and speak at the graduation. We were supposed to fly out of Haiti together, but a crack in the runway in Cap-Haitien forced us all to take a bus together across the border to the Dominican Republic. Although it was an inconvenience (especially for Brother Dick, who is 86!), we flew out of Santiago and made it to our respective destinations in one piece.

Over the last month, I have been enjoying my “time off” in North Carolina. While I’ve managed to visit my sister and her family and squeezed in a couple trips to the beach with my brother, the bulk of my time this summer has been spent scanning and editing our books into digital copies. I’ll spare you the details (they’re tedious), but I’ve been working about 8-10 hours a day, five days a week. The fruit of all this labor, however, will be sweet. This fall, for the first time, our Bible college students will purchase tablet computers rather than physical books. Over the next four years, they will pay 20% of what they would have paid for four years’ worth of books!

 

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This fall, we will be enrolling a brand-new class. We don’t yet know how many new students we will have, but our receptionist informs us that we have had four applications turned in so far. (I have been praying for at least ten new students.) As a result, the next goal we have is to raise enough money to give our students scholarship to help with their tuition. We aim to raise about $200 per student, per year. For ten underclassmen, plus four upperclassmen, we would need to raise $2,800.

  • In 2015, we raised $2,832.45, well more than the $2,200 ($200 per student per year) we needed in order to offer a full scholarship to all eleven of our students.
  • In 2016, we have raised $680 so far. Added to the $632.45 surplus, we currently have $1,312.45 available for scholarships for students for the upcoming year.

Practically, what this means is that we would like to raise $1,500 by the end of August to cover tuition for everyone this year. If you would like to partner with us this year, you could put a student through Bible school for less than the cost of a pizza every month ($20).

There are two ways to give:

  1. Mail a check to: Rehoboth Ministries, c/o The Lord’s Table, P.O. Box 11049, Goldsboro, NC 27532. Make the check out to the Lord’s Table, and be sure to write “BIBLE SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP” on the check. (Due to the fact that PayPal takes a 4% cut of all online donations, we would prefer you use this option if at all possible.) One hundred percent of what you give will go to covering students’ tuition.
  2. Or, to donate online through PayPal, click here and then click the yellow “Donate” button in the right-hand column. Enter the amount you would like to give and tick the box to make your donation a recurring payment.

Thanks for helping to scholarship the classes of 2018 and 2020!

Digital Book Project (Update)

UPDATE 2 (May 11): Looks like we’ve got it covered! Praise God! (If you would still like to give, we are still raising money for student scholarships for next year.)
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UPDATE (May 11): As you can see on the thermometer, we now have $795 pledged! Another piece of good news is that Amazon.com was offering $10 off the price of the tablet the other day, so we went ahead and bought 20 tablets with the money that we had raised. We still have a way to go to cover the costs of transportation and customs dues, but we are happy to be well on the way toward meeting our goal! Thanks so much to those of you who have partnered with us. If you would like to help us get the rest of the way, click here.
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Last week, I introduced you to our Digital Book Project. In a nutshell, books are too expensive to produce and to buy, so we aim to raise $1,200 by August 30 in order to digitize our Bible school books and load them onto tablet computers that we sell to students at-cost. This digital transition will save our students 80% of what they are currently spending on books, and it will save our school the time and money it takes to produce those books.
I am happy to say that so far, we have had a solid response! Thanks to those of you who have given, we are already well over 10% of the way toward meeting our goal, and there has been more money pledged to the project as well. Of course, there is still a long way to go, so we could still use your help! If you would like to partner with us to save our students money and move our school into the 21st century (or just learn more about the project), click here.