Lafayette Church ‘Adopts’ Village

Post a Comment » Written on August 16th, 2007     
Filed under: News
By Stan Friedman

LAFAYETTE, IN (August 16, 2007) – In this third installment of a four-part series, the adoption of three Haitian girls by Richard and Sandy Doyle leads Lafayette Covenant Church to bring new hope to the entire village of LaMare, Haiti.

The people of LaMare, Haiti, empathize with the pain of Richard and Sandy Doyle. “They know what it’s like to lose children,” Sandy says.

The villagers also are grateful that the Doyles and Lafayette Covenant Church have sought to bring life out of Jeremy Doyle’s death.

Church members had never heard of LaMare until the Doyles adopted three girls from the village in 2000. Sandy had been overwhelmed by the poverty in the country and met with the church’s mission commission to determine what could be done. Many children suffered the effects of starvation and rarely received a hot meal, so the congregation  decided to start a feeding program. A team traveled to Haiti to build a kitchen for cooking hot lunches.

While there, they learned of the village’s other desperate needs, especially the need for education. Teachers were few and had not been paid in a year. Soon they would have to find other employment. Without the possibility of educating their children, LaMare was losing hope for a future.

Today, a wall of the Indiana church is lined with pictures of 358 students who attend the local school. Most are children of elementary age, but some are in their 20s. They had been illiterate when the church began sponsoring the school and are excited to be learning with the children.

The school used to have only five teachers but now has as many as 11, says Adam Marcelin, the 67-year-old pastor of the local church. Lafayette Covenant now pays the teachers $70 a month, an excellent salary for the area.

Pastor Adam, who visited Lafayette Covenant recently, remembers praying for a miracle to keep the school open. When he learned the church would pay the teachers, he says, “I feel like the door of heaven opened up!” When the teachers learned the good news, “They were jumping up and down. They were really happy,” he adds with a big smile.

They also wept when Lafayette Covenant members presented them and the children with Bibles. The children now read them to their parents, most of whom are illiterate.

Lafayette Covenant has begun paying the tuition for the LaMare students to attend secondary school, which provides for the teachers’ salaries. Students must walk to the school four miles away. Previously only two children a year from LaMare would attend high school. “Now almost every child can go,” Pastor Adam says.

“It all keeps coming back to education,” says Sandy, of the village’s future.

The students now receive hot meals several times a week. The food is cooked in a new school kitchen outfitted with utensils and equipment purchased with money raised by children at Lafayette Covenant.

The church “adopts” every child at a cost of $120 each. All children must be adopted before any new project, such as buying school uniforms, is undertaken.

Cost of the program now runs nearly $50,000, say Richard and Sandy, project administrators for Haiti Missions.  Funding for the mission work began with collecting change in large jars at the church.  “For a long time, that’s all we operated off – spare change.”

Just getting to LaMare presents major obstacles in addition to the cost. After arriving in Port-au-Prince, they must take a Mission Aviation Fellowship flight to Pignon (pronounced penyon), where the small plane buzzes cows and goats off the grassy landing strip before touching down.

From there, mission participants must make a 12-mile hike or drive in a four-wheel vehicle across roads that are hardly worthy of the designation. On the first trip, church members waded through water that reached their chests. “That’s how determined we were to get to the village,” Sandy says.

Church members who have traveled to Haiti have become part of the villagers’ entire lives. In addition to various building projects, they have delivered babies, cared for  medical and dental needs, and attended a wedding and funeral.

“They are family,” Pastor Adam declares.

Brian Dillman says his own purpose for working in LaMare changed shortly after arriving in the village. “It was no longer about the project,” he explains. “It was about being brothers and sisters in Christ.”

The Doyles three adopted daughters from the village also have returned to help with the work. Keeping connections is important for the girls, Richard says.

On the first visit, LaMare residents primarily watched the work, but that changed in subsequent trips. “Now, people stand in line to help,” Richard says. The people in the village now pray for the Lafayette church.

Church members are adamant that their goal is to help villagers develop the ability to grow LaMare. “This is all about community development because they have to work to get paid,” Sandy says. “This is not a handout; this is a handup.”

Four-part series

“Losing Jeremy‘That Was God Preparing Us for the Girls’”

“Lafayette Church ‘Adopts’ Village”

“Lives intersect after tragedy”

Only local businesses are used, unless the needed supplies are unavailable in Haiti. For example, local tailors sew the new uniforms, and food for the hot lunch program is purchased solely from area vendors.

The Doyles hope to raise an additional $20,000 to $30,000 to begin construction on a new church. The current building is beginning to give way with the roof sagging and the walls bowing. The church is the center of the community’s life, Richard says.

Pastor Adam says his congregation and the rest of the community now look forward to the future. “They have hope,” he says.

That, the Doyles say, is exactly what Jeremy would have wanted.  “During his short 18 years of life Jeremy was focused on reaching out to the lonely, the hurting and the hopeless,” Sandy says. “He has been our inspiration for this ministry.”

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