6th Grade Graduations

We just returned from a recent trip to Haiti in early June and it was a particularly emotional one.  We witnessed some amazing things at the school that we knew would bless you.  

18839671_10211488338276970_8938135405810095853_o

Thirteen of our students graduated Grade Six – many of whom who have been here since we first opened!  We’ve watched these boys and girls become young men and women before our eyes.  They came to us as skinny, underfed, illiterate kids who couldn’t sit still and they have grown into strong, solid, smart and secure graduates.  Honestly, it was a little overwhelming to see them in their graduation gowns and hear their classmates roaring their applause and approval.  It was a fitting honor and justly deserved for each one of them.  Most of these graduates have already accomplished what their parents could only dream of, and they are well-prepared for whatever the Lord has for them.

 

19222637_10211612732746754_7571192228348357756_oAnd, what great students they are!  We had the privilege and honor of reading and evaluating several of the original books that they had written.  They wrote beautiful and touching stories about the earthquake that devastated Haiti.  They wrote fiction stories about talking trees and animals, and they wrote stories about poor missionaries who spread the Gospel across Haiti.

 

 

 

18880339_10211526667195169_8356317289609941334_o

And, just in case we had any doubt how well these students understand the Gospel, we were certainly assured in church a couple weeks ago.  There, two of our Grade 6 students took the platform for ten minutes to read Scripture and preach on giving to the poor!  To punctuate their point, these “poor” students presented each of us with a $0.25 bracelet that they had bought with their own money.

 

 

You are making an enormous difference in the lives of these young Haitian men and women.  And, they are making an enormous difference in all of us.

She Praises Jesus

1688b

Meet Anne Marie Elizabeth Leveillé, a 70-something grandmother living in our village of Tavet.  Her grandson Ricardo (pictured) was instrumental in starting our school five years ago and he has been a regular volunteer/laborer/moto driver since the very beginning.

Madame Leveillé is nearly blind due to heavy cataracts in both eyes.  As a result, it is difficult for her to get around.  But, she still helps us in the most important possible way.  She prays.  

1685b

She prays for students, she prays for teachers, and she prays for Americans who support Trezò.  She prays in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night.  She is a regular fixture in the village, sitting on her porch with her hands uplifted, praising God and asking Him to cover His children with grace and mercy.

When the hurricane hit last month, her thirty-year old roof took a beating and she was left to live alone in a badly damaged home.  It was a pretty easy decision to spend a little time and money last week to repair her roof, but when we started into it the roof was too far gone.  

img_4193

So, we replaced the whole thing: the joists, the planks, the ridge, and all new corrugated steel.  It was finished in a day, and that very night our entire area was hit by a storm dumping two inches of rain in about two hours.  Thankfully, Madame Leveillé remained dry and safe, under a secure new roof.  

img_2349

We visited her again in the morning and the first thing she did before even greeting us?  She praised God, the giver of all good things.

Thank you for your generous support of Trezò.  You have been the hands and feet of Jesus to hundreds of people in Haiti, including one very dear Anne Marie Elizabeth Leveillé.

Support Trezo By Shopping Amazon!


Raise your hand if you like to shop on Amazon! Did you know that you could support Trezo by simply shopping through a special link? It’s true! We’d love to show you how you can use Amazon Smile to shop like you normally would, but also help Trezo out in the process.

What is Amazon Smile?
Amazon Smile is a website operated by Amazon itself that lets customers enjoy the same exact experience that they would shopping through the normal Amazon site, while donating 0.5% of your purchase to eligible charitable organizations- like Trezo!

How Does it Work?
When you first visit Amazon Smile, (use this link), make sure that the site says that your shopping will support A Turn to Hope, this is the organization that Trezo does business as (dba). We are one in the same. *If you do not see this as the organization to support, you can simply search for “A Turn to Hope”, Franklin TN and find it that way.

Once you have selected us to support, now when you shop Amazon, remember to go through smile.amazon.com to shop and the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of your purchases to Trezo!

Your shopping experience will be the same as you have always known. Same prices, same products, same service. Only, you get to help Trezo out too!

We are thankful for all your support and prayers for Trezo. YOU make it possible to change lives at our school in Haiti! Thank you!

People carry their belongings as they wade across a flooded street while Hurricane Matthew passes through Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins - RTSQRKP

Hurricane Matthew Update

People carry their belongings as they wade across a flooded street while Hurricane Matthew passes through Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins - RTSQRKP
People carry their belongings as they wade across a flooded street while Hurricane Matthew passes through Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins – RTSQRKP

The wind continues to howl and the rain is still battering much of Haiti. The southern side of the island, where our school is located, has been hit very hard. Many trees are down, steel roofs have been blown away, and many thatch home are gone. We still have not yet made contact with any of our staff or students, as the cell service has been lost. We have heard from one man who lives less than 10 miles away, however. Once the rains let up, he will try to get to our school and get us an update.

Unfortunately, the situation there is likely to get worse before it gets better. Because of the deforested mountain terrain, very dangerous flooding is expected throughout the region. Many more homes will be lost and it’s hard to say how well the school will hold up.

Still more troubling is that the health authorities are already warning of another cholera outbreak. Dirty or contaminated water has been the cause of many of Haiti’s health crises over the years, and this storm has all the ingredients for another humanitarian disaster.

222

Haitian people are strong, and our villagers are resilient. But, there is no question that much rebuilding is in our future. Many families will be in dire need and “normal’ is a long ways off.

Please pray for our dear Haitian friends. Pray that they will get immediate relief from the storms, that they get shelter and clean water, that they will receive physical relief to rebuild, and that their spirits will be strengthened by the prayers of millions on their behalf.

Trezo will be participating in the relief efforts to rebuild our village and care for our families. If you would like to donate to help out these families, please CLICK HERE. Indicate a donation to the “General Fund” and mark “Hurricane Relief” in the notes. We are a very grassroots 501(c)3 organization and every donated dollar since our inception in 2011 has gone directly to the school and its families.

Thank you for your prayers and your care for these children and their families.

Building Fences and Community

IMG_0356
What do you do when you love to kick a ball with your friends on the school grounds, but the grounds are covered in sticks and stones and there are no boundaries?
 
If you are the students at our school, you get to work!  At least, that’s what the kids at Espoir des Jeunes  (Children’s Hope – our school) did last month.  They cleared the entire lot by hand, and then went one step further.  Using only their hands and a couple small hand shovels, they collected branches from the surrounding areas and set to work building boundaries for their soccer field.

 

IMG_0361
In a single day, they built a split-rail fence and planted some hibiscus, providing not only a boundary but a pretty one, at that.  Now they kick that ball to their heart’s and feet’s content, now they have an attractive boundary, and most important, they did it all themselves.

 

IMG_0349
One of our values at this community school is OWNERSHIP.  There is something extraordinary that happens whenever the community participates in the project.  Today we have parents that cook every day, parents that provide committee oversight, kids that keep the property clean, community adults that help with building projects, and student-athletes that build split-rail fences.

 

IMG_0352
 The place and the people here really are very beautiful.  Come and see us sometime!

Hope From The Hopeless

Me and Kids

I’ve seen the pictures. I’ve heard the stories. I’ve even felt the undeniable and overwhelming compassion for those in need. It wasn’t until I actually went to Haiti that I truly experienced the very things that I had seen and heard.

Before we go somewhere, sometimes it’s easy to have preconceived notions about a place (or a people). Mine for Haiti were still forming.

What will Haiti look like physically, emotionally and spiritually?
How will  the people act? Hopeless? Sad?
How can I make a difference to them?

The one thing that I wanted most for this trip was for my eyes to see Haiti as Jesus sees Haiti.

I had many questions. Lots of prayer and two flights later, my questions would be answered.

Haiti Mountains

Physically, Haiti was so many things. Having never been up close and personal with a third world country before, I noticed all the things that you might expect on a first visit. Trash in the streets. People walking everywhere with no shoes. Large buckets balanced on the heads of those transporting water to their family.

After a while, my focus was taken off of these things and the Lord lead me to see the real beauty. Driving through the mountains to Cayes-Jacmel, I felt close to God taking in the magnificence. How simple the beauty of sunlight coming through peaks and through to the ocean on the other side.

IMG_6979

The ocean was a marvel in itself. So vast and beautiful the backdrop for this country so deeply in need.

IMG_6752

But what God wanted to show me most during our trip was the people. The people of Haiti are what really sold me on its beauty. The students at Espoir Des Jeunes, their families, and the community around them. Some already knew Jesus and it warmed my heart to know that they leaned on Him.

IMG_6891

We visited with the family of one of our interpreters one day. I was close to tears as she gave us homemade bread, made coffee over a fire, and served us from her best mugs. Her smile made my day. It still makes my day when I think of her.

They have so little, but you would never know it. Their joy is infectious. They were such an example of contentment. You know they have hard times. You know they lack the things that we take for granted.

Hope?

I felt it.

From people that otherwise might be considered hopeless. No, I think they are hopeful. Just in need of a little direction and help. I stepped into the trip wondering how I could help them and soon finding out that they were helping me.

I’m excited to go back again soon! Until then, I will hold what I experienced close to my heart to tide me over until we meet again.

Planting Our Harvest

galatians

What really happens when we feed our students, when we share the Gospel with a community of families, when we hire a teacher and invest in a child?

In some ways, operating our community school in Haiti for the past four years has been a lot like planting seeds. To grow, a seed needs good soil, the right nutrients, time, and God’s tender care. In our community in Cayes-Jacmel, we lovingly prepare the children, plant knowledge and the Gospel, fertilize with prayer, and trust God for the growth and the harvest.

 

In January, we had the phenomenal good fortune to purchase additional land for the school, effectively tripling our size. When God allowed us to miraculously take possession in two days, we thought there were many things we could do with the land. Our Board had ideas of putting up a fence, or digging a well, or clearing a soccer field.

 

image (2)

The students also had ideas and they acted immediately. The very first day after the purchase, our students were in the new field after school, clearing rocks and burning brush. Within a week, our students were out in the field with our director digging furrows, often in bare feet, always with crude instruments.

Then it was their turn to plant seeds.

image (1)

Kernel by kernel, the students planted row after row of corn. They waited, then they watched with pride as their new plants sprouted up days later. They continued to watch as their crop grew strong and began to produce fruit. Now that the corn in on the cob and ready to pick, they will all share in the bountiful harvest. They will reserve some of the seeds to replant for the next crop. And the next. And the next.

Our students are learning how to grow mature plants, multiply a crop and how to invest in the future. Hey, that sounds a lot like a school!

image
While we wait to see what kind of men and women these loving and hard-working students will become, we can be confident that God, who began a good work in them, will be faithful to complete it in Christ Jesus. We trust that He will produce a “crop” that will continue to multiply a bountiful harvest across Haiti.

God is “Building” Provision

And my God will supply every need of yours according to

his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. – Phil 4:19

 

We have some exciting news about the property that Epsoir Des Jeunes school is on! Here’s the back story of the incredible provision by God.

We once shared about the church that was so graciously provided to Trezò by our precious Madame Pol calling it “The Answered Prayer Church“. Her donation of that church is what started us on the path to offering education to the children of the community there in Cayes-Jacmel, Haiti. What a gift it was!

An Answered Prayer Church
Trezò’s first school building provided by Madame Pol

Trezò used this church building for a full two years to house Espoir Des Jeunes. It was about to grow more than we could have imagined! So much in fact, that the 1-room building couldn’t hold all of the students that were coming to our school.

We went from 40 to 90 students in just ONE semester! God was really up to something…

A bar and old motel in the area came up for sale that had much more space. We hoped to be able to purchase it, but didn’t have the money needed at the time.

Photo Jun 07, 9 52 30 AM
The bar/motel before we purchased

God is so faithful!

With His provision, a friend held a fundraiser during March Madness raising a very large amount of money and so in June 2013 we were able to put all of the money down to purchase the property!

This was what the building looked like before it became the school.

10959877_10204913393907470_2923409380349956175_n
What our school looks like today!

Ecole Epsoir Des Jeunes or School of Children’s Hope.

Photo Jun 07, 11 00 41 AM
Transformation into a learning environment

We have been able to make this into a loving and learning environment feeling blessed by what God has provided through these few years.

He wasn’t done!

Big News!

Fils, our principal has been talking about buying some adjoining land for a year, but we were not in a financial position to consider it. One week before the team left for Haiti, we received a $10,000 donation to buy the land!

The landowner had been negotiating with the village voodoo priest regarding the land adjoining our school. Our board members felt the Lord calling them to buy the land. A price was agreed upon and the purchase was completed while the team was still in Haiti!

627
Students standing on the NEW property line!

This picture is of the students on the NEW property line surrounding the school.

With this new land, we have been able to triple our footprint and now have opportunity for some incredible growth for the school. Some things that we are considering for the space are more buildings, a well, food storage, crops, a small playground, a soccer field, etc. Possibilities galore!

With each new blessing that we have received, we are reminded of our purpose and God’s plan for our school. We pray that we continue to walk in God’s purpose to further these children and their family’s lives.

We can’t wait to see what God has for us next!

January Haiti Trip: Interview with Megan

Megans pic 1

So much to say about our recent trip to Cayes-Jacmel, Haiti! We asked those that went on this trip some thought provoking questions to try to gain perspective from each.

Today’s interview is with Megan. She is a high school junior and this was her very first trip out of the country and also on a plane! She worked really hard to raise the money needed to go on the trip.

Here is what she had to say about the experience.

What was your favorite part about the trip?

My favorite part of the trip was showing up to the school and having all of the kids run up to me and hug me and just smile at me like I was the best person they had ever met.

What was the most challenging part of the trip?

The most challenging part of the trip leaving the kids and not knowing when you were going to see them again.

What did you learn about yourself on the trip?

I learned that I love being in Haiti and with the people in Haiti.

Yousline is on my lap and these are other girls who where hanging around me that day
Yousline is on my lap and these are other girls who where hanging around me that day

What did you learn about the culture and community in Haiti?

Haiti has a very different culture than we do. They do not value material items like we do. They love getting new things but if they don’t have new things they are still happy. They do not complain about what they don’t have. They are a very close community. When the kids played soccer and our final day parents showed up and cheered for their kids.

 

megans pic 3
This is me and Yousline the little girl I sponsor at the school

 

What experience had the biggest impact on you during the trip?

The biggest experience from this trip for me was when I got to take the little girl I sponsor at the school to the doctor. I was able to spend the whole day with her and we bonded a lot.

Tell us about the students and teachers at Espwa des Jeunes school.

The teachers are always happy and willing to help you. They did not speak amazing English but some of the new some English and they tried to help you when you did not know what to say or do. The kids are amazing there is never not a smile on their faces and they just love being next to you even if you are just sitting there doing nothing.

megans pic 4

How was God revealed to you through this experience?

God was revealed to me through the schools morning “meetings”. The kids sang songs about how they loved God and how God loved them. They sang about how they would miss us. They all prayed together and then on their own. They knew that God loves them and they showed how much they love him.

Preparations For Upcoming Trip to Haiti

 

We are getting closer and closer to our scheduled trip to Haiti. The team is getting stoked!

Supplies are being collected and the preparations are underway. A trip like this doesn’t just happen. It’s thanks to those who put their time and effort into it that make it possible. We are so thankful for those who have helped.

The Bible mentions being prepared numerous times. Be prepared to share the reason for your faith. Be prepared, for we don’t know when Jesus will come. Not to mention the preparing that God does for us. Each and every step along the way, He prepares a path. Obviously, the preparation is a very important part!

We thought that we would share with you a little peek into our prep as the team gets everything ready for the trip.

IMG_3169

This is Hannah and Megan. They are both high school juniors joining the team on this trip. It will be Megan’s first trip out of the country and also on a plane! Both of them have worked really hard over the last 2 months earning the money for their trip.

They’ve done everything from babysitting, pet sitting, and cleaning neighbor’s houses to earn money.

Talk about being prepared!

IMG_3170

 

Katie and Kerri are best friends. They have been loyal supporters of Trezò for over a year. They have helped raise awareness about the school and helped us find sponsors for several of the students.

They’re both so excited to finally meet the children that they have been helping from afar!

IMG_3171

On the left is Colleen. She is the mom of one of our board members and was on the original mission trip to the Tavet community in 2011 before the school was started. She sponsors one of the students at Espoir Des Juenes and is so excited to go back and visit the community again!

Julie, on the right, has been to the Dominican Republic but this will be her first trip to Haiti. She also sponsors one of the students. She works as a teacher’s assistant here in the US. Her son, Gibson (not pictured here), will also be joining her on the trip.

The team is planning an art camp with the students during the week they are there. They will have music, drama, Bible verses, and visual arts to teach the children about their worth in Jesus.

Each visual art project coincides with the songs, Bible verses and the play that they will help them perform. At the end of the week, they are going to invite the parents to come and see their art display, the play, and music!

What a week this is going to be. See more of the plans and how you can pray for those going on the trip here.

Stay tuned for pictures and information about how the trip went!