Dear Ministry Partners,
The new school year has started and we couldn’t be more excited! This past summer was one of our busiest summers yet as we constructed and painted the new high school building, registered over 1,000 students, poured new side walks, updated the outside gate and had a Haitian artist add fun murals around the school ground. The first day of school was September 5th. For those of you who sponsor children, we hope you enjoy the new picture of your student!
This past summer, we also opened a bakery in the community, which will be run by our new full-time staff member, Justine. The bakery will provide bread for our breakfast program at the school, bread to the community and we hope it will create many jobs for people in the community as well. The summer was also packed full for the kids at Tytoo Gardens Orphanage. We had an intern from Canada who spent her days teaching English to the kids. They had daily English classes, a reading program and a reward system which kept them very busy. The older kids also participated in a soccer program run by a neighboring organization. They all got their own uniform and for most of them it was their first time being a part of an organized sports team.
Our summer was struck by tragedy, however, on July 17 when one of our three-year-olds at the orphanage passed away very suddenly from sickness. His name was Renato and we are still grieving his loss, but we remain hopeful, because we know we will one day get to dance and play with him again in heaven.
Lastly, our summer was very busy for us personally as Webert and I sought legal guardianship and travel visas for our three children. As of September 19, we were granted visas and my three children will be arriving in the States for the first time on September 29! I also spent the summer very pregnant, making it a very long and hot summer, but we look forward to meeting our daughter – due October 10 – with Webert and the children all here in the States to welcome her.
If God taught us anything this summer, it is that He remains faithful through ALL things. Over the course of the last ten years, He has remained faithful to the dreams he gave Webert to start a simple school for the kids in his community. This year we will celebrate ten years since Webert started a school with 36 students in a palette building. We will celebrate with over 1,000 students, 60+ school staff members and a whole community of people in America who support our efforts to educate the future generation of Haiti. He remains faithful to providing for the orphans of Haiti and doing great things through the children and staff at Tytoo. He remains faithful through tragedy and loss. He also remains faithful for our personal needs, wants and desires. We also want to say thank you, as so many of you have remained faithful to supporting, encouraging, and giving to our work in Haiti.
To God be the Glory
Dear supporters and partners,
The past three months have been some of the busiest months, yet most exciting! In the last newsletter, I mentioned the start of the kitchen being built. It was finished mid-August and painted by my super hero of a mom, Renae. A week after the finish of the kitchen, ground broke for a new office building. Webert and I just put some of the finishing touches on it this past week and are excited for this new space for our staff. The children were excited to be back in school.
The first day of school was September 8, but unfortunately was closed the next day because of riots in our area. We do live in a safe village, but a nearby cement company had fired some locals, so their way of retaliation was fires, blocking the main roads and gun fire – not a safe environment for children to be walking through on their way to school. Manifestations and riots are quite common when the people are trying to fight for something: electricity, elections, etc. It keeps things interesting, that’s for sure!
But, school was back open the next week and the children seem to be loving all the improvements made over the summer. We were able to paint all of the classrooms with bright, fresh coats of paint, add some cartoon paintings for the preschoolers, and do some landscaping. But, truly, nothing beats the sight of the cafeteria full of children eating their daily meal and our kitchen staff working in a spacious, clean and productive place! My mother-in-law, Yvette, has been the head cook for the school since day one. She remembers cooking for the students underneath a small tree. She is now praising God for all His provisions and her beautiful new kitchen.
If you sponsor a child, you will see you are also receiving a new photo with some updated information on him or her. We have required the students to bring their birth certificates to registration now, so just a note that you may be seeing a spelling change in your child’s name, but know that it now matches the spelling on his or her birth certificate. Yah! to getting somewhat more organized, but it’s still a work in progress! We are also excited to announce we will be handing out Christmas presents again to the children this year. If you would like your child (or children in the school if you don’t sponsor a child) to receive a present, please send $20 extra per child by November 1st (note, this is not a requirement of the program) We buy everything locally, so once we receive the money, we put packages together containing hygeine products, toys, candy, school supplies, etc. A great way to spread joy during the holiday season!
Looking forward to all the things God has in store for the 2014-2015 school year,
Blessings to you from Haiti,
These past three months have been nothing short of exciting and busy!
In May, we had a very succesful week with a group of men from Sioux City, Iowa. Their goal for the week was to pave a road that goes up our very steep and rocky road to the school. God blessed us with four shady, overcast days of work and a beautiful sunny day on Friday for a beach day. My brother, Luke, was a part of the team and our sister, Megan, was able to join us at the end of the week. Everyone in the village keeps telling me how much they love the road and they don’t have to worry about falling anymore – what a blessing!
Our school year came to an end in the middle of June. We celebrated it with our preschool graduation and our son, Loveson, was part of that. We had a total of 60 children graduate preschool, who will all go to 1st grade now and wear yellow uniforms instead of orange. Now, it is July and we are in the full swing of things with school registration. We will be updating the sponsorship program and taking new pictures of all the children (so, look forward to a new picture of your sponsor child in October!)
We have also started the new project of building a new kitchen and cafeteria area. This building will have a full kitchen prep area for our cooks and washing area. Before, our dishes were washed under a small shaded area in buckets and the cooks prepped the food in a small space behind the school building. I already can’t wait for the first day of school to be able to see our cooks working in such a beautiful new space – they deserve it since they are the ones who are feeding 900+ mouths a day! The cafeteria will give the children a big new space for eating. We also envision the cafeteria area being used for community events, large meetings, etc.
In other news, there has been a wild virus going around Haiti, called Chikangunya. The symptoms are a high fever and severe joint pains, with a rash and itching that follows. A lot of people in our community have come down with this and the clinic at Tytoo Gardens has barely been able to keep up with the demand. There’s nothing you can really do for the virus if you get it besides taking tylenol or ibuprofen for the fever and pain. Pray for healing as many people are still suffering from pain and having a hard time recovering.
Many blessings and love being sent from our growing and beautiful mountaintop – thank you for being a part of the excitement & making all this Kingdom work possible,
Kayla Grooters Raymond
Dear Ministry Partners, The end of another school year is approaching quickly and I cannot believe how time just flies by here. I have been living and serving here for two full years now, and although so much has happened and I have a lot of great stories to tell, there never seems to be an end to the list of needs I see. We have had so many people bless and support us. The growth of our school and some of our programs alone is simply amazing.
Just this past month, we had someone come and within two days had a garden at the school! We are going to start planting mango trees, hoping they will provide some shade on our school yard, but this will also be an effort to teach the students about planting and growing things on their own! We also envision this program growing to a point where we can grow all the vegetables and herbs we need for our daily meals. Next month a group of football players from Morningside College and men from Sunnybrook Community Church in Sioux City, Iowa will be visiting. They plan on paving the very steep and rocky road leading up to the school. It will be a lot of hard work, but will be such a huge blessing to have that done. We praise God for all the ways He provides for us and our work here in Simonette. We couldn’t do it without Him and all of you faithful supporters, who continue to walk beside us. Please keep our students, staff and my family in your prayers as we head into a very busy time of year.
The school year will be finished mid-June and we will be sending 60 6th graders and 30 9th graders to National Exams. The entire month of July we will be registering our 900 students for the 2014-2015 school year and updating the sponsorship program – look forward to a new photo and letter from your sponsored child! We also pray for Webert’s next visa application and process. God willing, we will be able to travel to the United States as a couple for the first time after all of the work is done!
Keep up with our family adventures and my stories at http://www.kaylagrooters.com
And as always, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for believing in our ministry and supporting the work we do. Days here can be very long, hard and sweaty, but knowing there is such a large network of people who believe and support us, always keeps me fighting the good fight.
God’s richest blessings,