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!

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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.

Digital Book Project

Every semester, at our little Bible college in Haiti, the toughest task we face is simply putting books into students’ hands.

The biggest obstacle is cost. Most of our students can’t afford to spend twenty dollars for a new book. As a result, we contract with a local printer to have copies made that sell for seven dollars, which is still a lot of money to most of our students. Over the course of four years, students spend an average of $280 on books. That might not sound like much, but the average annual income here is $800. Imagine being married, with children, and having to spend 10% of your budget for everything this year on books.

The other big obstacle that we face is time. The printer often returns our books with pages that are missing, crooked, faded, or blurry. Sometimes, the political situation in the country complicates things. In January, rioters threw a brick through the print shop window and blocked the road leading into town for weeks. As a result, books that had been dropped off in late January ended up not being delivered until early March. There has to be a better way.

The Solution

By going digital–scanning our library and pre-loading it onto tablets–we could deliver books to students not in a matter of weeks or days, but seconds, and we could cut their book fees by over 80% to boot. The solution involves three steps:

  1. Scanning the Books
    All the books we assign will be transported back to the United States and scanned into e-books. This part won’t cost us anything.
    Cost: $0
  2. Buying the Tablets
    The Amazon Fire, which costs $50 and comes with free shipping, lets you hold a library in the palm of your hand. Its seven-hour battery life gives students lots of time to read before recharging, an essential feature in the Third World where electricity is erratic. Once we sell the tablet to students at-cost, they won’t have another book to buy for four years. Book fees will drop from $280 to $50.
    Cost (initial stock of 20 tablets): $1,000
  3. Clearing Customs
    Customs fees in Haiti can be unpredictable. We will budget for at least 20% of the cost of the tablets. Any and all leftover funds will go to providing scholarships for students.
    Cost: $200

    TOTAL PROJECT COST: $1,200

Will you partner with us to turn this dream into reality?

2020 Vision: Scholarships for the Bible School Class of 2020

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John 3:16 in Haitian Creole

This past week has been Spring Break for our Bible school. The students are enjoying a week off from their labors as the temperature and humidity begin to inch upward once again toward summertime levels. As the class of 2016 makes one final push toward graduation this June, we are thanking the Lord for his faithfulness over the last year. Thanks to his grace and your support, all eleven of our students were blessed this year to receive a full scholarship upon payment of 25% of their outstanding debt.

  • 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. As a result, teachers were paid on time and  improvements are already in the works, including the renovation of a room that will soon serve as an office and library.
  • In 2016, we have raised $320 so far. Added to the $632.45 surplus, we currently have $952.45 available for scholarships for students for the upcoming year.

This fall, we will be taking in a new four-year promotion (the class of 2020). We do not yet know how many students we will have, but the last three promotions had six, seven, and four, respectively. I would personally like to see us hit ten new students this year, meaning we would need about $2,000 more to cover tuition 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. 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.

Mèsi davans (thanks ahead of time) for your support!

Internship in Haiti

haiti-mapWho 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 school. Our work is especially focused on extending the Kingdom of God in Haiti through the discipleship of believers in the local church.

The Internship

10623705_700017683409275_1156528898621162866_oWe are looking for a creative, mature Christian with journalistic skills (writing, photography, video editing) who will cultivate a stronger online presence for a 33-year-old ministry. Previous experience with video editing, photography, and social media outreach is strongly preferred. Previous experience with French and/or Haitian Creole is a plus but not required. The intern will create stories through words, images, and multimedia that illustrate various facets of the ministry for ministry partners overseas, as well as operating the ministry’s web and social media outreach. The intern will also develop and teach a weekly class to Haitian youth about photography, video, and web design. This is an ideal “semester off” experience for students looking to venture outside of their comfort zone, gain valuable cross-cultural, journalistic, and teaching experience, and explore Haiti, the world’s oldest black republic.

Time Frame

Begin: September 1, 2016
End: November 30, 2016

Submission Deadline

All submissions will be considered until the position has been filled.

Paid / Unpaid

Unpaid (meals/lodging provided)

Applicants should provide the following materials

Please submit a resume, including any relevant course work, and all previous volunteer involvement. Please include a cover letter summarizing applicant’s Christian testimony as well as the reason he/she wants to work with Rehoboth and what he/she hopes to gain from the internship experience.

Responsibilities

  • Writing articles on various facets of the ministry accompanied by photographs
  • Writing human-interest stories and interviewing people
  • Developing promotional videos summarizing ministries and highlighting needs for fundraising purposes
  • Establishing a consistent presence across a variety of platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and others
  • Teaching a weekly class on photography/video editing/web design to Haitian students

The position is a supportive role that requires one to work efficiently on both team-based and independent projects.

Requirements

A 3 month commitment is required. Hours per week are flexible and will vary depending on the needs of the ministry. Start and end dates can be adjusted slightly based on needs of 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

Preferred – Writing Skills, Photography, Video Editing, Social Media, Communication Strategy, Creative

How to Apply

E-mail me.