February – March 2017 Newsletter

Remembering Lauren James

On Wednesday, January 11, the day before we were scheduled to leave Haiti, we received word that a dear friend and UMCOR colleague, Lauren James, had passed away in her sleep earlier that morning. We changed our travel plans to wait for her sister and brothers to arrive. Together, with Brulan Jean Michel, Sarah Sandsted, and many other friends, we assisted Lauren’s family, and each other, through a very difficult time. On that Saturday, a beautiful memorial service was held in a church in the hills of Petionville, overlooking Port au Prince and the land that was so much a part of Lauren’s life. 

Lauren was the EMH-UMCOR Liaison, working with the church in the area of community development. She began her work with UMCOR shortly after the 2010 earthquake. Lauren was a “force,” a deeply gifted, talented, and passionate young woman. She had spent many of her adult years in Haiti in various capacities. Haiti was her life’s focus and passion (along with the Carolina Panthers).   

A service celebrating her life was also held in North Carolina. 

For the many who knew Lauren, and for those whose lives were blessed by her work, Haiti will not be the same.  

Lauren, may God bless and keep you. We will miss you.

Saying Goodbye to Belorne

Late in January we also received a note that Belorne Emile, for many years the Guest House Assistant Manager, received documentation to move to the United States to be with her family. For many, Belorne was the “face” of the Petionville Guest House. She oversaw the kitchen, meals, and much of the day to day operation. Her smile, laughter, and song, brightened many a day. When you came to the Methodist Guest House, you were treated like family; and no one did that more so than Belorne. 

Belorne, may God’s blessings be with you as you continue your journey.    

Welcoming Jodi Crimmel as Mission Volunteer

Jodi Crimmel, from the Upper New York Conference, is in Haiti for the next three months to serve as a Mission Volunteer. She will assist Brulan Jean Michel, the Guest House Manager and EMH-VIM Coordinator, with day to day operation, serve as a resource to VIM teams, and will help with the development of the program to address needs in the hurricane recovery area. Jodi is a long-time VIM-er and we look forward to seeing her in Haiti and pray our blessings upon her work. 

EMH 200th Anniversary and Partners’ Conference

Methodism in Haiti started with the arrival of two British missionaries in 1817. Since then the Methodist Church (which is part of the Methodist Church of the Caribbean and Americas) has grown to more than 130 local churches, and sponsors more than 100 schools and 11 clinics. This year, the annual Partners’ Conference was moved to February to coincide with a week of celebration recognizing the church’s 200th anniversary. There were worship services throughout the Circuits, exhibits portraying the history of Methodism in Haiti, a reception to welcome partners from around the world, and the dedication of the New College Bird School in Port-au-Prince. 

As part of the week-long events, the annual Partners’ Meeting was held on Freres Campus. Wendy Vencuss attended on behalf of Mountains of Hope.  

Hurricane Matthew Response Update

Assessments continue to be made to develop a long-term strategy and process to address the needs of communities in the Cayes, Leon, and Jeremie Circuits following Hurricane Matthew.  Leaders from UMVIM are working with the EMH Hurricane Response Committee to identify projects, and to prepare the local churches and communities to receive volunteer teams. Our plan is to address both church-related and community-related needs. If you are interested in more information about leading or joining a team into the recovery area, please contact Tom Vencuss at tvencuss@gmail.com

Dental/Medical/Construction Team

A team from Hyde Park (NY) and Mary Taylor (Milford, CT) UMCs will be heading to Furcy later this week. On the team will be a dentist, a Physician’s Assistant, two nurses, and several civil engineers. The team will provide a 5-day dental clinic, health/first aid classes, and work on finishing up a playground area at the school. The team will also be bringing 100 “Days for Girls” kits.  

Wendy will be arriving several days earlier with two “Move to Empower” Zumba instructors from New York who will be taking part in the EMH Youth Retreat in Mirogoane. The focus of the retreat is “Holiness and Wholeness” and Wendy and the instructors will be leading a “Body, Mind, and Spirit” Workshop which will include Bible Study, Liturgical Dance and Zumba.   

Team Members Wanted – Clean Water Team

Jack Agnew of Newtown UMC has been working on “clean water” as his Eagle Scout Project. He has raised enough funds to provide 200 Sawyer Water Filter and buckets to families of the greater Furcy community. As part of this effort, his mother, Judy Hammel, is looking to take a team to Haiti April 22 to 29. The project will include instruction on the use of the filters as well as a discussion on basic hygiene. This project will be in collaboration with “Clean Water for Haiti” out of Texas. For more information or to sign up for the team contact Judy at archdiver@gmail.com.  

 Mount Hope “Doll” Project - The Beginning of FAITH

Last night 4 ladies who have been to Furcy sat around a table in Brunswick, Maryland.  Patty Thornton, team leader, Terry Alger, Anne Backover, Jane Dixon and Sharon Morgan began assembling the first of what we are calling the FAITH project.  FAITH - Furcy Artisans Inspired to Hope!  Little Bits of Hope from Haiti Dolls will be the first item added to the FAITH project.


The team has been led by God to think more deeply about how to create a more sustainable contribution for Furcy.  This project is the brainchild of Jane Dixon from Arlington, Virginia.   Jane has traveled to Furcy the last two years and was inspired to teach the young women of that community how to knit.  Quickly we learned knitting wasn’t necessarily their “thing” but crocheting…oh my, can these young ladies crochet!  They brought us beautiful purses, skirts, and other items to take a look at.

The pattern for these amazing Little Bits of Hope from Haiti was adapted for crocheting. Yarn was left behind with a crude translation from English to Creole, and with the help of Jean Philippe Adrienne and another team, the sweet Haitian dolls made their way back to us here for completion.  Each doll will be completed and a tag with the crocheter’s name, picture and some pertinent information to MHH and FAITH , will be added.  We will pay the young ladies more than a day’s wage for each marketable doll they produce with the yarn we have supplied.  We then intend to sell these little jewels here in the States and the proceeds will go to the MHH Scholarship Fund.  

This sustainable project will help each young lady in Haiti with food, education, supporting her family, etc. and the proceeds garnered here will help the greater community with education needs through the MHH fund.

The hope of FAITH is to add more items from the artisans that we can market here.  We ask that each of you pray for this project to blossom and grow with God’s guiding hand.

Mount Hope also left funds from their last visit to assist with repairs on the school and the Furcy Mission House.

Thank you to all for your continued support!

Donations to Mountains of Hope may be sent to:

The Frontier Foundation – 20 Soundview Avenue, White Plains, NY.