Important Ministry Update

To our faithful supporters,

Our hearts are heavy as we write this update on God’s Ministry in LaGonave (GML). The situation in Haiti, and particularly in our village, has become unsafe for us, and we are unable to continue our ministry. We know this is difficult news for everyone who has supported our ministry over the past nine years, during which God moved in amazing ways. 

We are happy to share more details with anyone who has questions. But simply put, we were betrayed by our ministry partner and have lost our school, to the point where we can’t even enter the school grounds. As a result, we can no longer partner with Feed My Starving Children to provide food to our precious students. This is heartbreaking for our village. 

We also learned many other things about this person and his connections in Haiti. Trust us when we say that it was becoming unsafe not only for us, but also for those around us. We heard clearly from the Holy Spirit and our Haitian friends, family, school staff, church leaders and board of directors that it was time to go.

In addition, the political situation in Haiti was degrading, and it was imperative that we evacuate. We flew out of Haiti on June 6 ahead of a much-publicized coup attempt in Port au Prince. We are currently staying with family in Atlanta as we seek God’s guidance for the future. 

So what’s next? First and foremost, if God makes it possible for us to return to Haiti in a short-term missions capacity, we will go. And when it is safe for us to return to visit our friends, family and congregation in Belle Vie, we will do that with great joy.

The good news is that the church is in excellent hands and will be safe for the future. Praise God! Theophile Church in Christ is a Haitian organization that will oversee the church and provide support, just as it has for other Haitian congregations since 1980. 

With all of these changes, the board has decided to formally dissolve GML as a 501c3 charitable organization. After July 31, we can no longer receive your tax-deductible donations. If you would still like to support the church in Belle Vie, you can donate via Theophile Church in Christ at theophilechurch.com.

We plan to settle in St. Louis and begin the search for jobs and housing. Even through our sadness and grief, we are excited to see what the Lord has for us there and how we might best serve Him. We need financial support until we get back on our feet, hopefully by the end of the year. After July 31, donation checks should be made out to us personally and mailed to 111 S. Spoede Rd., Creve Coeur, MO 63141. They will not be tax deductible.

We are and always will be tied to the beautiful country of Haiti, and we know that our time serving in our village was fruitful. As you can see from the many stories on this website, your faithful support made it possible for us to show the love of Christ to Belle Vie in many ways, including: 

  • Constructing a beautiful nine-room school, office and kitchen for our students to use
  • Building a strong church building for our congregation that can also serve as a community center and a shelter from storms
  • Building a large reservoir for villagers to access clean drinking water
  • Providing food, shelter and other disaster relief after Hurricane Matthew
  • Educating more than 225 students from pre-K through sixth grade, with 105 graduating from our school and moving on to either jobs or more education
  • Serving nearly 200,000 school meals from Feed My Starving Children
  • Serving a congregation through preaching and pastoral support
  • Leading meetings, Bible studies and worship services six days a week
  • Leading a Kid’s Club that served up to 100 kids each week
  • Mentoring and equipping several villagers to become church leaders who will shepherd our church through this difficult time and well into the future
  • Purchasing 150 goats for our villagers, giving them a source of income
  • Providing medical care, first aid and transportation to a hospital as needed
  • Caring for the elderly, the sick, the widows and the orphans in our village

We know without a shadow of doubt that we heard the Lord and followed what He told us to do. And as we have for the past nine years, we are taking each step in faith and in God’s timing. The loss of our ministry hurts, and we are grieving. But because we followed what our Father wanted us to do, we can at least grieve without guilt. 

Please pray for Haiti, the village, the church, our family and our friends. Please also pray for our former partner, that he may be restored to the Lord. And finally, please pray for us as we navigate these next several months.

Forever in His hands,

Ybene and Laura Dalla                   

Jameson’s Story

Burns are a common injury in Haiti. Most villagers only have a battery or a small solar panel for electricity, which is just enough to charge a phone or power a small light. All cooking is done over an open fire, and many common tasks require the use of fire.

One day, Jameson came to see Laura for severe burns on his face. A few days before, this young man had been heating some tools over a fire in order to fix a tire. A can of gasoline was too close to the fire, and it exploded, splashing burning gas on his face.

Laura doesn’t know why Jameson didn’t come to us right away for help. Perhaps he and his family were trying to treat his injuries themselves and finally realized that they needed help. But as you can see in the first photo, his burns were severe.

Thanks to a donation of medical supplies from one of our supporters, who is a doctor, Laura had Silvadene cream, which is an excellent medication for burns. She cleaned Jameson’s burns and applied the cream, and she gave him cream to take home so he could reapply it daily.

When Jameson returned to Laura seven days later, his skin looked so much better! You can see how well the lower part of his face had healed in just a week, and you can see how the large burn on his forehead was healing with the use of the cream.

Continue reading “Jameson’s Story”

A Typical Day At Our School

Education in Haiti doesn’t look like education in the United States, so we thought we’d explain what it’s like to attend Ebenezer School.

Our Curriculum and Education Requirements

At our school, we provide education for students in preschool through 6th grade.

Preschool

Preschool A is for 2-year-old students. Preschool B is for 3-year-old students. Preschool C (which is the equivalent of kindergarten) is for students who are four and five years old. By the time our students graduate preschool, they should know their alphabet, be able to read simple words in Haitian Creole (their native language); know their numbers, shapes and colors; and know simple phrases in French (the other official language in Haiti). Many parents in our village are illiterate, and they depend on our preschool to teach their children these basic skills.

Continue reading “A Typical Day At Our School”

Nieka’s Story

Laura, our missionary, shares the story of this medical miracle:

Nieka, who was four years old at the time, was playing with her cousins in a tree that had been cut down or had fallen down. With the way the tree was lying on the ground, they were kind of high in the air. There were six children in all. One of the older children starting shaking the tree with all of the little children on it, and they all fell out and landed on Nieka. She was crying a little and her arm hurt, so they had her arm tied in a cloth and brought her to me.

When I untied the cloth, my stomach turned. I didn’t know elbows could look like that. I thought it was just dislocated, but I didn’t want to touch it in case it was something worse. I wanted to take her the hospital (really, just a clinic) in Anse-a-Galets, the port city of our island. I prayed that maybe there would be someone there to help her.

Continue reading “Nieka’s Story”

Genevieve’s Story

Our missionary, Laura, tells another story of how our first-aid service made a difference in the life of one of our villagers.

It was late at night when Genevieve’s parents brought her to me because she had been burned. I had to use a flashlight to see the burn, and it was bad.

Genevieve’s parents felt terrible. They had just taken a pot of cornmeal off the open fire, so it was still boiling hot. The parents had stepped away for a brief moment, and their curious little girl went to see what was in the pot. Genevieve lost her balance and fell over, and her hand went all the way into the boiling cornmeal, halfway up to her elbow. This was not a case of negligence; it was just a terrible accident.

Continue reading “Genevieve’s Story”

Fabiola’s Story

In Haiti, very few women have access to quality prenatal care. As a result, the infant mortality rate is nine times that of the United States, and the maternal mortality rate is the highest of any country in the western hemisphere. As shocking as these figures are, they don’t even include the many pregnancies that result in stillbirths or miscarriages. Often, these tragedies are preventable, as shown in this story told by our missionary, Laura:


Fabiola with Laura Dalla. Haitians traditionally do not smile for photos.

A woman in our village (we’ll call her Fabiola) had suffered more than nine stillbirths. Many people in the village were saying she was cursed.

She was pregnant again, and her pregnancy was going really well, but she came to see me because her water had broken. I didn’t know exactly how far along she was, but I knew it was too early for the baby to be born. Fabiola’s water broke at 9 p.m., and she was not having any contractions at all. So I told her to contact her midwife (who has never had any formal training). I advised that if she hadn’t started having contractions by early morning, she should go quickly to the small hospital in the port city of Anse-a-Galets, which is 15 miles (and two hours by truck) away from our village.

Continue reading “Fabiola’s Story”

Pierre’s Story

Pierre had been sick for at least a week and a half, and he had not been able to urinate at all for a week. His entire body was swollen and even red in some areas. He was having trouble breathing and was getting nosebleeds. He was in terrible pain and could only sit in his chair. He couldn’t even lay down to sleep.

Pierre had not been to see a doctor. Aside from the financial and logistical challenges of traveling to the clinic in Anse-a-Galets, his family believed he had been cursed by a voodoo priest or witch doctor. They believed it was a sickness that hospitals couldn’t help. For us, this is very difficult to understand, but for them it is their way of life. Yes, sometimes voodoo is the cause of some strange things, but most of the time illnesses are just illnesses with simple fixes.

Pierre in Belle Vie before treatment.

Pierre’s brother wanted a voodoo priest to come and try to heal him. Pierre did not want this, but being as sick as he was could not fight with his brother about it. So the witch doctor came but was unable to heal him. The witch doctor wanted to rub some kind of stuff on him that he said would heal him, but Pierre refused. After this many friends and family began to come and visit him to say their goodbyes, and his brother had even put a deposit down with the local carpenter to begin making his coffin. They were just ready to let him die instead of taking him to the hospital.

Continue reading “Pierre’s Story”