The Perissiens in Haiti: Season 5

Ballad Photography

Writers of popular television shows often say that the fifth season is the hardest to write.  Okay, that’s not true at all, but it got me through my first sentence of a long-overdue blogpost (which sometimes is the hardest part).

This August, we began our fifth season in Haiti.  Like television shows, we see our cast changing season-to-season, encounter new plot twists, and get to experience our own character development.

Season Five Casting:
-Cassie is returning for her fourth season.  She along with Kristen were our pioneer teachers at the JAK Academy.  However, Cassie has returned alone and in a new role.  She has stepped in to administration as a co-director along with Paul’s protégé Samuel.  This summer, we got to celebrate with Kristen as she married Blarizel (as we call him) and they are starting their life together in Toronto.   We miss her a lot and hope that she not only makes cameos in our story, but may even return for future seasons.
-Returning to teaching this year we have Peyton (3rd season), Kenzie (2nd season), and Emily (2nd season).  We are so grateful for the faithfulness of our teachers to leave careers or potential careers stateside to teach local Haitian kids in English and with the love of Christ.  If anyone knows someone who would be interested in this, please let us know!
-Also returning this year for their second season are Isaac and Chelsea who are solid supports for Paul and me.  With Isaac running financials, Chelsea running sponsorship, and together they run short-term team experiences, they keep us sane with helping hands and insights. 
-Our new cast members this year at the JAK Academy are Marissa (1st grade), Krista (Kin 3), and Paige (student specialist).  We are excited to get to know them more in our communal living and kingdom work together.
-As far as our Haitian staff, we’ve still got our solid team of Ronald, Lubin, Gertrude, Kenold, Samuel, Robenson… the whole gang.
-One new cast member we are excited to welcome is our doctor who will be moving from Port-au-Prince to come live on the compound with us and serve in our new medical clinic opening late fall!

Season Five Plot Twists:
Okay, so that may be a little dramatic of a statement, but it’s continuing on with the analogy, so we will go with it.  And, since I don’t know the future, I can’t tell SPOILER ALERT or anything, but here’s what we’ve got going on this year.
-Paul has resigned his role as the director of the JAK Academy (to Cassie and Samuel as I said earlier) to focus his time more on just being the Haiti Director of the mission.  This has been a much-over-do and much-need change, although he’s shocked that he’s not really any-less busy than when he was doing both things.  He’s working a lot with legalities in Haiti to make sure that we are as “by-the-book” as we can be and setting a good example for the community.
-I (Bethany) have also resigned my old job of running the sponsorship program to take on the new task of opening our new medical clinic.  There will be much more to say about this as we get closer to opening, so stay tuned for that.
-Tiona and Lieuna get to spend half of each day over at the orphanage with Gertrude’s mother, whom we affectionately refer to as Grann.

Season Five Character Development:
-Paul always never ceases to amaze me.  As long as I’ve known him, I’ve seen small leadership opportunities and ministries given to him, and over the years they have grown into big, bigger, and even huge opportunities and responsibilities. He not only has stepped up every time, but thrives at each new platform.  Please pray for him as he continues to learn to juggle life, make very hard decisions, and discern directions – as well as keep that charm and goofiness about him that makes him oh-so-very Paul.
-I (Bethany) will be forced to grow (and already have) as I take on this new leadership role in the community.  Truthfully, when I think about the reality of it, it makes me pee a little, but I’m excited for a new challenge ahead.  I am forced to push harder into my study of the Creole language and interaction with the people in this village, as well as leading a group of people for a similar goal to provide as excellent quality of medical care we can.  I am grateful for the time I’ve had with my babies over the past few years, but also I am very excited for the opportunity to re-get-to-know the people in this village and have hands-on ministry.  
-Tiona and Lieuna get a very special opportunity to get to know their Haitian roots in a way they never would have if they just stayed with me all day.  Almost half their waking hours immersed in Creole, Haitian food, and interacting with the kiddos in the orphanage that we love so much that are their new brothers-and-sisters.  It truly is a blessing for them as well as us.

For new episodes of Season Five, please follow Mission-Haiti on Facebook (@Mission-Haiti) and Instagram (@mission_haiti).

Thank you for all your help to get here.  Also, feel free to take a browse around as I’ve re-vamped the blog (after all, it’s about time after five years, right?!).

Alright, Cheers!  Until next time!

Pregnant & Pumpkin Spice to Pampers & Pepperment

It’s at this time of year that we look back on the year and remember the Lord’s faithfulness and look forward to new seasons of life.  This holds true for the Perissien family as well.

Let’s start with the recap (well, up to last blog, that is):

Mid-June through July –
We made our way back to the states for a summer sabbatical.  Our Mission-Haiti Board of Directors is so supportive of us and invested in our well-being all-around that they encourage us to take a month and a half off during the summer (when school is not in session) to rest and enjoy time stateside.  When you look at the amount of weeks we spent in the states, it seems like a long time.  In reality, when we split it up between our three “stateside homes” in West Palm Beach, FL, Saint Petersburg, FL, and Sioux Falls, SD, our time goes by very fast.  But we always enjoy getting time to see our family and friends in all those locations.  And of course eating at our favorite places!

August –
We returned to Haiti to start our fourth season there.  We were very excited as our missionary family was growing.  Returning for the 3rd year was our Canadian sisters, Cassie and Kristin to continue teaching at the JAK Christian Academy.  Joining them again was Peyton, coming to teach for her 2nd year.  We welcomed two new teachers this year as well: Kenzie and Emily.  And with Lexi and Gerald not returning this year, Isaac and Chelsea joined our full-time missionary family to help with team-leading and other ministry help.  Our first month was crazy busy as usual.  We had our student sponsorship distribution, when over 2,000 students from our sponsorship program come through to collect shoes, backpack, school supplies, sponsor gifts, and re-register with us.  It was a crazy time, but our best distribution yet!  The rest of the month was spent prepping for the upcoming school year, bonding as a missionary family, and spending time with our Haitian family that we missed over the summer.

September –
We were so grateful to be spared from the parade of hurricanes that made their procession through the Atlantic late this hurricane season.  Because of the hurricanes, I actually got an extra week and a half in Haiti before I had to leave for my maternity leave.  But then it was the inevitable time to go.  After a tearful goodbye, Tiona and I (with the help of Chelsea) made our way back to the states.  Paul stayed in Haiti to help get the school year off and running. 

October –
After a few days in Canada trying to recruit new teachers, Paul came down to South Dakota to be with me and Tiona.  We didn’t spend much time together as a family of 3, when earlier than expected, we welcomed our second daughter, Lieuna Yanique.  For those wondering, her name is pronounced like Luna.  Think “lieutenant” or “in lieu of flowers…”  It’s kind of a nod to my maiden name Lieuwen.  Her middle name is named after Paul’s mom, Yanique, who – like a boss – raised four crazy boys in Haiti by herself for 9 years while their dad was stateside working to bring the family over.  Even though Tiona was only born 17 months before, it’s amazing how much you forget once your child is out of the newborn stage.  Lieuna is precious with her big round eyes and deep dimple.

November –
Paul returned to Haiti at the beginning of November.  Every time we have to do the long-distance-marriage thing, it gets harder and harder.  With our great missionary staff as well as a rockstar Haitian Assistant Director and Operations Directors, Paul’s job is getting easier and easier.  He even gets more time between meetings to play basketball with the youth.  Meanwhile, post-partum proved to be hard on me as I had multiple health complications and reactions to the medicines to resolve the complications.  As I tried to get back to normal physically, both of our girls were growing.  Lieuna ate well and seemed to get longer by the minute.  And Tiona seemed to be getting smarter by the minute.  When we left Haiti, she said 3 main words.  Now, she tries to copy anything you say and understands and responds to many Creole and English phrases.  Also, if her eyes are open, she doesn’t stop moving.  She’s very busy and doesn’t know any strangers, which is probably a great thing considering our life.

December –
We were all supposed to reunite in Haiti for a few weeks before our Christmas break.  However, Lieuna had some health issues for which she was hospitalized to do a couple of procedures.  We praise Jesus that all major diseases and anatomical anomalies were ruled out.  But we were advised to stay in the states until the new year.  As hard as this was for me, we knew it was best for our family.  The blow was made a little easier because Paul made a quick trip back to see us.  Then it was back to Haiti for 2 weeks.  They had exams, a big Christmas party at the JAK Academy, and as a missionary family pulled off the 2nd Annual Carol the Village.  And then a reunion in St. Pete for a few days, a couple days in Sioux Falls to have a Christmas with my family, and then a trip on Christmas morning to West Palm for a week and half with Paul’s family.  It’s great to have our family back together again.

Now looking forward to 2018

Medical Clinic –
Construction is finished on our new Medical Clinic in our village.  It has been many years in the making and we hope to open in within the first half of the calendar year.  We are interviewing and looking for good staff members to pioneer this new arm of our ministry.  This is a very important step we don’t take lightly, so please be in prayer as we are searching these positions out.

Teams –
We are anticipating another busy team season again this year with already 11 teams on the schedule before our summer break.  This is always a busy time, but it is fun to share our lives with folks for a week and see them fall in love with our Haitian family and want to join our stateside team to tell our story.  With Chelsea and Isaac on board, we are pumped for new team leadership.  They’ve proved to be a great asset in this avenue already.

Building Projects –
With our missionary family continuing to grow, we need to grow with it.  We have new teacher housing and new Haitian staff housing planned for our compound.  We have a great construction boss and  team that we work with in our village and we are ready to have him and his staff on the yard.  Their work ethic and attitude are truly humbling to watch as they construct these buildings with string-lines and mixing concrete by hand.

Home –
Obviously, the biggest thing we are looking forward to is going back home to Haiti as a family.  It was more apparent than ever this fall that Haiti is home and that is where I wanted to (and felt like I should) be.  Of course, it’s going to be busier than ever with two kids now, but we are blessed to call that place home with our hodge-podge of missionaries and Haitian nationals we call family.

If Jesus should tarry, we look forward to an exciting 2018.
Thank you all for your prayers and support.  We love you all.

Hope you had a Merry Christmas and Bonne Année (Happy New Year!)

Final Days. Final thoughts.

Well, season three is coming to a close.  If our life were a TV series, I would doubt the sanity of the writer this past season.  But considering it’s the Omnipotent Creator of the Universe, I think we’ll give Him a little more credit and faith.  However, that being said, this year did throw us for a loop and we had plenty of character-shaping plots to work with this year.  It has been a tough year physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  But there has been some high points as well.  You know, every night when we have a team on the ground, we go around and name a “high” and a “low” of the day.  In the spirit of that, I’d like to give some highs and lows of this past year.

High: Jean Alexis Kuislin Christian Academy continues to blow us away.  With our amazing Missionary and Haitian teaching staff, these kids are getting a dynamite education.

Low: Category 4 Hurricane Matthew devastated Southwest Haiti, and caused us to quake in our boots a little bit

High: By God’s grace alone, we had no casualties in our area!

Low: Feeling exhausted running 12 teams already this calendar year

High: With teams come new people to speak with, learn from, and watch fall in love with our country.  Not to mention, a large supply of chocolate and treats that come down with them!

Low: No electricity

High: We now have a beautiful view of the ocean from our homes/balcony.

Low: Accepting the fact that you can’t help everyone.

High: Our 3 Missionary teachers signed on for yet another year of crazy!

Low: Our 2 Canadian teachers having to cut the year a couple weeks short and head home due to health issues.  Please continue to pray for Cassie as she still is not well and does not have answers yet.  We love you, Cass-a-frass!

High: Having a local tailor make all of us missionary ladies traditional Haitian dresses for Haiti’s flag day

Low: Rain.  Lots and lots of rain.  Rain=all things stop.  School.  Church.  Activities.  All stop.

High: Starting Vendrefi Teenage Girls’ Bible Study

Low: Saying good-bye to our dear, beloved friend, Delord, as he moved to Chile.

High: Tiona is healthy and growing strong.  She is made for the chaos of Haiti, the constant change, and the many new people who come into her life for a week.

Low: Tiona getting super restless on days without teams, where I need to sit and get some work done on the computer.  Getting constant attention is her (or better yet, my) enemy!

High: Expanding our food range here on the compound: Fried pickles, Chicken-Pot Pie(-ish), Funnel Cakes, and S’mores!

Low: The JAK generator getting stolen while we were in the states.

High: Watching some of our youth/staff members (Samuel, Robenson, Gregory, Elisée) growing as leaders

Low: Many students in our sponsorship program leaving school, mostly hurricane-related

High: The medical clinic construction is underway!  Such a huge need in our community.

Low: Still looking for staffing for the clinic.  Really need the right people on-board.

High: Great new beginnings such as adult literacy program and the elderly home.

Low: Mosquitoes.

High: Dressing up like crazy-pants and Christmas Caroling throughout the village

Low: Mold.

High: A Chinese food restaurant opened in Les Cayes.

Low: Ants.


Low:  It’s getting hot.  Like, really hot.

High: Providing Hurricane Relief materials: 10 villages. 968 Homes. 4,481 People. 29,003 pieces of tin. 3,374 pounds of nails. And building 8 whole new homes!

Welp, that’s where I’ll stop for now.  We are currently teaching our English class “From this Valley” by the Civil Wars.  The lyrics of the chorus plead “Oh, won’t you take me from this valley, to that mountain high above.  And I will pray, pray, pray, till I see Your smiling face.  I will pray, pray, pray to the One I love.”  And there it is… Lots of highs and lows, as I’m sure you can say about your last year as well.  But, the Lord has proved His faithfulness and we are continuing to seek His face.

In about a week-and-a-half we will be heading stateside for nearly two months.  Traveling two our two homes in Florida and one in South Dakota.  Planning on seeing many friends and family.  And, of course, eating as much steak, burgers, and Chick-fil-A as we can!  And hopefully getting a little rest too.  We thank you for being such an important part of our journey this past year.  We’ve said it many times, but we truly cannot do this without the support of you guys in the States.  To God be the Glory!

Until next year.  With much love,

Bethany (Paul and Tiona too)