My family first became aware of Bethlehem ministry through our church’s alternative giving fair (Navidad Market) and moments for Mission in church service, and we began supporting a child at St. Barthélémy school in Terrier Rouge around the same time as our oldest child began kindergarten. We still have pictures of our recent students on our bulletin board in the kitchen and just placed an ornament with a past student on our Christmas tree. Rich Wheeler and I worked together on our church’s Missions Committee. Rich and Janet Wheeler were passionate supporters of the ministry and encouraged me to become more involved.
My first trip to Terrier Rouge was around Thanksgiving in 2014 with several others from our church (St. Andrew’s Presbyterian in Houston). We arrived in another world with different schedules, sounds and concerns. The people made me fall in love with Haiti. It was such an eye-opening experience to see how Espérance et Vie was able to convert our small annual donation, combined with others, into real educational opportunities for the children of Terrier Rouge.
Rich Wheeler encouraged me to join the Bethlehem Ministry Board of Directors and participate on a different level. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with many fine people all working towards creating a sustainable organization that connects hundreds of people in the US with the ministry in Terrier Rouge. Bethlehem Ministry is very different today than it was eight years ago when I first joined, but the common thread is the way that God is using the volunteers, informed by the steady guidance of the Bruno family and the Haitian people to create opportunities and serve. Today we have youthful energy on the board, committed board members, and dedicated sustaining donors all over the country working to partner with our brothers and sisters in Haiti to create educational opportunities for enthusiastic children, economic opportunities for members of their community and health services to improve quality of life. I have truly enjoyed getting to know everyone involved in the ministry!
Richard Estimable, Kelli Mayfield, Jaques-Mary Saintus, Eric Lokker, Ryan Lokker
Involving my family with the ministry has been meaningful to me. As my son was working to earn his Eagle scout rank, he was looking for a project that he could organize and lead. Through consultation with Pere Bruno, he decided to collect school supplies for St. Barthélémy school. The Scouts of his troop enthusiastically participated in working on the project, and our neighborhood was very responsive. Ryan raised money to send the supplies to Haiti-an interesting logistical challenge, to be sure! We were then able to bond when he accompanied me on another trip to Haiti in 2018. It was rewarding to see him internalize the lessons of the trip and educate his mother and sister about what he learned. He was also able to share his experience with his theology class at school.
I am so blessed to have been led to this ministry at church many years ago for it has changed me as a Christian, volunteer, and family member.
Board of Directors, 2014-2020