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The blog on this page contains messages from Sam.  Check back often to get the latest on his ministry in Haiti.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!
The reason for celebrating Christmas is CHRIST!  Although there are ongoing efforts being made to remove Christ from Christmas I for one will always stand by my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ--Happy Birthday Lord!
Christmas greetings to all my family and extended family--all you who participate with me in this ministry to the Haitian people.  To all the churches and individuals who have encouraged me, prayed for me and stood by me- Merry Christmas and a happy New Year 2009!
Especial best wishes and love to my Mom, Dad, my sisters and their familes,  and my Gospel Growers family--Angie Brannan, Billy Proske, Becky Walker, Mark and Tina Myles {and kids}, Wanda Cervinka,  Bruce and Mary Wharram and Don and Judy Petersen.
I count on your continued support and prayers in 2009!  Let's work harder to get the Good News out that Jesus is the hope for the World--and He's coming back soon!
8:43 am est 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas in Haiti
     I thought that you all might be interested to know how Christmas is celebrated in Haiti.  Haiti, though officially Catholic, has  a growing Protestant population.  So Christian holidays are observed here.  Many of the Christmas ideas are similar to ours.  There is much talk of Pere Noel {Father Christmas} or Tonton Noel {Uncle Christmas},  but everyone accepts the true reason for Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World.
     As you know Haiti was hit by 4 hurricaines this past Fall.  And this in a country already impoverished and in dire need.  Since the departure of the Duvaliers in 1986, this country has been in a decline from which it has yet to recover.  The cost of living and inflation along with  insecurity and unemployment have all but done away with the traditions of Christmases past.
     People in the cities would decorate much as we do with colored lights and such, and there were a lot of tasty things on the holiday menu.  A pig or goat usually had the starring role in this culinary drama.  There would also be copious amounts of rice and beans served up with a spicy sauce and accompanied by fried plantain {a banana like thing}, and colorful salads.  An absolute must was the traditional  Christmas beverage cremasse.  Its kind of like our eggnog in that it has a milk base, spices and alcohol but no eggs.  Children would be treated to fried dough balls called marinad, flat flavored dough cakes called Pate {pa-tay}.  Hard candies were a must and balloons sometime are distributed.
     Haitians aren't really partial to pastries but they satisfy their sweet tooth with sugary coffee, juices or colas.  You'd most likely think them too sweet.  Being a chocoholic I suffer greatly as chocolate candies arent around much. Guess they don't like them.  Its all I can do to find some M&Ms ocasionally!
     The poorer people in the countryside have a leaner holiday menu, but the gaity and festive cheer wouldn't be lacking!  The main activity is the 24 December evening Church service usually held around midnight but security problems have curtailed this and an early evening one is now in vogue.  There is singing of many of the Christmas songs we sing but in French or Creole.  People will visit relatives and friends though the giving of gifts is not as frequently done due to the hard times.  But they simply like to be together and be merry.
     The more important service seems to be the 31 December New Year's Eve evening get together.  People usually start to arrive at church in the early evening and there is much singing, praying and witnessing of God's many blessings during the past year.  After the sermon things really get down.  There are dramas, jokes, riddles and songs which go on until well after midnight. 
     On New Year's morning the tradition is to prepare soup gerimou.  It is a pumpkin based thick soup that has spices, bits of salted pork, potato, cabbage, carrot and perhaps alittle rice or noodles thrown in for good measure.  Its GREAT!!!
   Sadly, so many of these traditions are dying out and many Haitian children today havent experienced Christmas as their elders have.  Even soup gerimou has fallen victim to the troubled times in many homes.
  God bless you all, and may you have a merry, Jesus focused Christmas this year and a New Year bright with the hope in God's promises to His people!!
11:49 am est 

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