Mission Moments: Haiti 2020

Gary Fallesen

Mission Moments: Haiti 2020

Gilbert Lindor, Gary Fallesen, Elaine Fallesen and Missy Jean Dedrick in Loveland, CO.

Gilbert’s return to Colorado

And other adventures of C4C

By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ

Introduction: In August 2007, Gilbert Lindor was rescued from the jaws of death by Climbing For Christ in his mountain village of Gentilhomme, Haiti‎. Gilbert had fallen in a ravine while playing and severely broke his leg. With no medical care available, his father wrapped his leg and laid him in the family’s small house. Twenty-seven days later a C4C worker found him – by following his nose. Gangrene had set in. We evacuated Gilbert to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where his leg was amputated. Gilbert’s life and soul were saved. Today, he is the leader of C4CNG (Climbing For Christ’s New Generation in Haiti) and studying medicine in Santo Domingo. C4C is supporting him and, for the second time, bringing him to Colorado for a prosthetic. Welcome to Gilbert's journey:

Friday, Jan. 3 (5:30 pm Eastern US time)

 

JFK selfie: Reunion with Gilbert.

We’ve been reunited with Gilbert! Elaine and I flew from Rochester to JFK to meet Gilbert, who flew in from Santo Domingo. I met him outside customs and helped him negotiate security. We all fly together to Denver tonight.

It has been many years since we’ve seen each other face to face, although I am in almost daily email contact with Gilbert. Gilbert brought greetings to us from the New Generation, a group of young people who are carrying on the work Climbing For Christ began from 2005-2013.

Saturday, Jan. 4 (12:45 a.m. Mountain US time)

We landed in Denver shortly after 10 p.m. and by the time we collected our luggage, rented a vehicle, and drove to the hotel, it became the next day in this time zone. Gilbert sat next to two college girls on the flight – both with dogs. He must have thought flying here is the same as taking a bus in the DR or Haiti, where people board with their chickens and goats. Welcome to America, Gilbert!

Saturday, Jan. 4 (noon Mountain time)

 

The Word, coffee, and Gilbert: hanging out together at our favorite Denver Starbucks (REI Flagship Store) studying the Bible. God is so good.

Saturday, Jan. 4 (9 p.m. Mountain time)

 

Dale Brons, center, speaking in Spanish to translate for Gilbert during our Coffee Chat. (Photo by Missy Jean Dedrick)

Dale and Linda Brons from Missy Jean Dedrick’s home church, The Firehouse, joined Missy, Gilbert, Elaine and me at our first Colorado Coffee Chat in Denver. Missy joined our staff full-time on Jan. 1. She is spending the next two weeks with us to start the work God has for her with Climbing For Christ.

Gilbert shared his story in Spanish, with Dale translating, and I filled in the blanks on our involvement with Gilbert through the years. Gilbert speaks Haitian Creole, Spanish, and a little English. He started going to school in Gentilhomme when he was 10 or 11 in the first church Climbing For Christ built in 2006. He realized the value of education from the beginning – and now he is preparing for his seventh semester of medical school in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He told Dale that his life has been hard, but God has provided for him and Climbing For Christ has blessed him.

Sunday, Jan. 5

 

Gilbert (left to right), Missy, Rachel, Mike, and Elaine getting caught up. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

Gilbert, Missy, Elaine and I drove to Loveland, where we’ll be staying until Friday. Gilbert meets with Joe Johnson at Quorum Prosthetics on Monday morning. He’ll be getting fitted for a new prosthetic leg, which Joe is making, and then undergo therapy during the next two weeks.

In the meantime, we’ll be bringing Missy up to speed on all things Climbing For Christ. This began today with a meeting with Rachel and Michael Wall of Durango. The Walls, who coordinate our Western Slopes area, are on the Front Range for a college ministry retreat in Estes Park. Our arrival in the area was divinely timed.

We spent 2 ½ hours getting caught up with the Walls, who have been on a combined nine Evangelic Expeditions and last year went to Pakistan with another C4C member who formerly served there full-time.

We are hoping to connect Missy with as many of our hundreds of Colorado members as possible. Part of her new role with Climbing For Christ will be member engagement. It is our hope to grow more active members; members who will PRAY, GIVE and GO. We surpassed 2,600 members today and we desire to see as many of those members, as possible, involved in HIS ministry.

After meeting with Mike and Rachel, we checked into our Vrbo house and went grocery shopping. We’re a family of four now.

Group selfie king Mike Wall captured another great image that he posted to social media: (left to right) Missy, Rachel, Gilbert, Elaine, Gary, and Mike.

Monday, Jan. 6 (9 a.m. Mountain time)

 

Ten-year reunion. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)

Gilbert and Joe Johnson were reunited at the Quorum Prosthetics office in Windsor, CO this morning. He also met Brendan Tuchowski, Joe’s lead prosthetist, who is doing the casting for Gilbert’s new leg. It starts out as plaster and then is made into plastic to fit before finally being made into carbon fiber.

Joe and Brendan, above, wrap Gilbert to make a plaster cast. Below, Brendan cuts off the casting. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)

Monday, Jan. 6 (6 p.m. Mountain time)

 

Step number two: from plaster to plastic. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

Joe and Brendan were very happy with the progress made on the first day with Gilbert. This afternoon, they sized him in the plastic cast made from the plaster this morning. Different parts were added to it and tweaked several times. This was the second step in the building of Gilbert’s new leg and, prayerfully, improved way of life.

We will return Wednesday afternoon for more sizing and, hopefully, the first real walking in what will become a prosthetic. If all goes well, the carbon fiber leg will be built and ready for fitting by next Monday. He would then have next week to learn how to walk on it and have Joe and Brendan to work with him.

“And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’” – Revelation 21:5 (NLT)

Tuesday, Jan. 7

Missy called Monday night’s dinner our “first family dinner.” Elaine cooked again tonight for our family of four. Gilbert prayed before the meal in Haitian Creole, giving thanks for us and for all he has received. He is grateful to be here – on earth, serving the Lord in Haiti, going to college in the Dominican Republic, receiving a prosthetic leg in Colorado. It is humbling to see his heartfelt recognition of how he is blessed.

We all should show such genuine gratitude.

It was a semi-normal workday for the Climbing For Christ staff as Gilbert laid low, singing in his room and watching Spanish comedies on YouTube. He’ll be back to work tomorrow with Brendan and Joe at Quorum Prosthetics. We were able to focus on ministry in Turkey, Malawi, and Colorado. I sent an email to our Colorado members hoping that we will be able to connect with some of them while we’re on this trip.

Thank You, Father, for blessing us with this opportunity to continue helping Gilbert and building Your kingdom.

Wednesday, Jan.8

 

First steps. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)

The smile on Gilbert’s face spoke volumes. He’d just taken his first steps on what soon will be his new leg, and he was beaming. It was a far cry from 10 years ago when, as a 13-year-old, he was in pain, disappointed to have a leg that didn’t look like a leg, and – well – crying.

Now he was grinning from ear to ear.

It was one of those God moments where you pause, soak it in, and thank the Lord for what He has done. These are the moments that keep you going when you feel too weary to even do good (Galatians 6:9), let alone face the darkness all around all of our mission fields.

 

Getting there: Gilbert smiles as Joe Johnson and Brendan Tuchowski work on his fitting.

Gilbert spent more than four hours this afternoon getting fitted in a plastic cast and leg, taking steps, having the device taken back to the workshop for tweaking, repeat. In the end, Joe, Brendan, and Joe Dertinger (the technician who also is an amputee) were pleased, smiling the way Gilbert had smiled when the reality of walking without crutches for the first time – really since he’d lost his leg 12 years ago – was attached to him at the hip.

He wasn’t ready for a prosthetic 10 years ago. He wasn’t mature enough – physically or emotionally. As Joe Johnson said on Monday, “You’ve got to want it.” Gilbert seems to be there psychologically.

He is working toward a degree in general medicine (scheduled to graduate in 2024 from a seven-year program at Universidad Technologica de Santiago) and dreams of being a surgeon or gynecologist. “Also, a missionary,” he said. Of course. That will never end. God saved him to help others – physically and spiritually.

We are blessed to bless him by supporting the mission (C4C New Generation in Haiti), his education in Santo Domingo, and his trip to Colorado for a new leg and lease on life.

Thursday, Jan. 9

 

Family dinner: (left to right) Gilbert, Elaine, Missy and Gary around the table tonight after a Coffee Chat with the Western New York Chapter. Muy bien” (very good) Gilbert said about Elaine’s cooking, which tonight included stuffed cabbage leaves.

Prayer is essential. God delights in hearing our prayers, and in answering those prayers.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14, NIV).

There has been and will continue to be much prayer around Gilbert, his life, and his ministry in Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic). Tonight, during a Western New York “Coffee Chat,” spiritual coordinator Jordan Rowley asked from Rochester, NY: “How, specifically, can we pray for you, Gilbert?”

Gilbert, sitting with us in the living room of our Vrbo rental home in Loveland, CO, answered: “Pray for my life, for me to be professional and always work for others and for C4CNG (Climbing For Christ’s New Generation in Haiti). And pray that I can be within the will of God, is the most important thing you can give me.”

Amen!

As we concluded our 1 ½-hour gathering online (seven Western New Yorkers were in a coffee shop in Rochester and the four of us were in NoCo), there was a time for earnest prayer. Gilbert was moved by the prayers as he has been moved in the past by all the prayer, support, and encouragement he has received through Climbing For Christ. When our “Coffee Chat” concluded he said to me, simply, “Thanks for allowing me to attend the meeting.”

The fabrication of his prosthetic leg began today at Quorum Prosthetics in nearby Windsor. It is scheduled to be finished by Monday, when we will return for Gilbert’s fitting and walking. Yesterday, after we’d finished the plastic-cast fitting, I asked Gilbert how he felt about all that was happening. He said: “I don’t have enough words to tell you how I felt. I was really thinking what I can give to you, Dr. Brendan (Tuchowski) and Joe (Johnson) for this support, and it came to my mind as I always say: ‘I can only pray for you.’ I will pray for Dr. Joe, for God to give him health and to continue with the good work he does. I see that many people come to his clinic.”

He added that he was thankful for “the patience of Dr. Brendan and you with me,” which he thought was “inexplicable.” (For the record, it’s easy to be patient with this sweet, sweet brother in Christ.) He explained that he kept pointing out different problems during the fitting in the hope that this time he will be able to continue to use this artificial limb.

“When I get there in Jimani,” he said, referring to the Dominican town where he grew up (post-accident) on the border of Haiti, “in the beginning maybe it won’t be easy. But I want to practice and be able to use it to go to university. I was thinking [wondering] if I can climb the stairs of the university with it and if I can go in the mountains of Haiti with it. But I know that with God’s help I can.”

He will pray. He will ask. God will answer – as He always has in Gilbert’s difficult but blessed life.

Friday, Jan. 10

Infectious smiles. Shrieks of delight. Occasional phrases of Haitian Creole.

Gilbert returned to Cañon City tonight and Dr. Steve Quakenbush, a Climbing For Christ Board member and veteran of six missions to Haiti, welcomed him back with a pizza party at his house. Family and friends, including Mission: Haiti veterans Lisa Mehle Glab and Eileen Lakey, were among the two dozen souls filling the home with joy.

When Lisa saw Gilbert, she exclaimed: “It makes my heart so happy.”

 

Lisa is reunited with Gilbert. (Photos by Elaine Fallesen)

It had been seven years since she’d laid eyes on him. Much has changed in Gilbert’s life and ministry since 2013, when we conducted our last Evangelic Expeditions to Haiti. Now it is Gilbert and the C4C New Generation carrying on the work.

We drove 3 ½ hours from Loveland to Cañon City, stopping along the way at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs. We bought Gilbert a bi-lingual Bible (Spanish and English) because he only had Creole and French at home in the Dominican Republic, where he is studying medicine and leading the C4CNG mission. Gilbert also saw his first snowfall as we drove from northern to southern Colorado.

 

Gilbert reads his new Spanish Bible during a coffee break in Colorado Springs.

We are spending the weekend in Cañon City, holding a “Coffee Chat” from 1-3 p.m. Saturday at the Starbucks on Royal Gorge Boulevard, having meals with family here, and worshiping Sunday morning at the Christian Family Fellowship and the First United Methodist Church.

Saturday, Jan. 11 (4 p.m. Mountain time)

 

Logan Copper dribbles down court with Gilbert looking on. (Photo by Gary Fallesen

We took Gilbert to a basketball game today. We went to 7-year-old Logan Copper’s youth game at the school he attends and where his mother Laura teaches. Laura is Dr. Steve’s daughter and a member of our Mission: Malawi 2020 team. (Logan’s dad, Adam, was on our Mission: Kilimanjaro 2018 team.)

After basketball, we held our next Coffee Chat at the Cañon City Starbucks. We had 13 people attend and spent two hours sharing about Gilbert and his story, and he answered several questions.

We were blessed with an $80 gift from Logan at the Coffee Chat and his 5-year-old brother Alex gave us a cup full of money he had been saving for Gilbert’s visit when we arrived at the Copper’s for dinner.

Lynn Ross of nearby Pueblo, the sister of Climbing For Christ member and Mission: Nepal veteran Dave Stoessel, asked Gilbert what he hoped to do after graduating from medical school in 2024. Gilbert answered: “I would like to do a career specialty. I really like surgery and gynecology. I would like to have my own clinic in Haiti.

“Also, to continue my work as a missionary starting in Haiti and finishing all over the world as the Word of God says in Matthew 28:19-20.”

Praise the Lord!

Everyone in attendance acknowledged what a remarkable young man God has grown Gilbert to be.

 

Gilbert answering a question through Gary at our Coffee Chat. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)

Sunday, Jan.12

 

Gilbert sharing in Spanish through a translator at the Christian Family Fellowship. (Photos by Elaine Fallesen)

We had the blessed opportunity to share Gilbert’s story in worship at two Cañon City churches attended by Climbing For Christ members and Mission: Haiti supporters.

I spoke alongside Gilbert at the Christian Family Fellowship (CFF), the home church of C4C Board member Steve Quakenbush. I preached at CFF in September 2019. I told them since they saw me last, we’d been to Nepal, Turkey, and Tanzania, and today I brought a friend to meet them. This was a special day at CFF as a pastoral candidate and former missionary to Cameroon was preaching. We were honored to be a part of it.

After worship at CFF, we went a few blocks to the First United Methodist Church (FUMC), the home church of Mission: Haiti veteran Eileen Lakey and supporter Katherine Cook. Steve and his family were members at the FUMC church in 2009 when we brought Gilbert and two other Haitian children, Sainte-Anna and Miche, to Colorado for medical treatment. That trip was dubbed the “Haitian vacation” by Elaine. There were several people who remembered Gilbert from that trip and told him how proud they were of the young man he has become.

In both churches, I told Gilbert’s story and then he spoke in Spanish to say: “(May) God greatly bless your church. I thank God for being here today, and then to my family and my older brother Gary. Thanks to the church for giving me the opportunity to greet the church.”

He reminded them of Ephesians 2:8 (“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God”) and told them “I have benefited twice – first God entered my life and second to save me from death.” God rescued his eternal and his earthly life, using Climbing For Christ as HIS tool.

Again, Gilbert quoted from Scripture, citing 2 Corinthians 2:14 (“But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume”).

“That is why I am blessed and hope to be more blessed day by day in order to bless others,” Gilbert said, concluding to a standing ovation.

 

Gary using Google Translate (and some laughter) to share Gilbert’s message to the First United Methodist Church with Eileen Lakey, left, and C4C Board member Steve Quakenbush looking on. 

After worship – church was much more sedate than Gilbert is accustomed to at home – we were invited to Eileen and Katherine’s home for brunch. Eileen pulled out old Mission: Haiti photos to show Gilbert. The fellowship-and-feasting tour continued in the evening at the home of Brooke and Justin Lee, Steve’s daughter and son-in-law.

We are grateful for family in Colorado, especially in Cañon City.

Monday, Jan.13

 

Gilbert sees his new prosthetic leg for the first time. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)

Gilbert seemed anxious on our way from southern Colorado back to northern Colorado and Quorum Prosthetics. “Are you nervous? Or excited?” I asked. “Excited,” he said, smiling.

A few hours later he was walking on his new prosthetic. “Is he a rare case?” Elaine asked our friend and Quorum founder Joe Johnson. “Absolutely,” Joe said, “a clinician might see one case like this in his career.”

Gilbert’s life story is a rare case. Rescued from the jaws of death by a loving and merciful God who sent His workers to care for and help him from July 2007 until this very day. Words cannot describe what is in our hearts as we watch him walk and struggle and walk again more than 12 years after losing his leg.

 

Learning to walk again.

The anxiousness I saw early in the day seemed to return at times as he wrestled with the prosthesis. Joe told me it is a solid year-long process (at least) for someone amputated at the hip to become fully functional with an artificial leg. I knew Gilbert did not know this; he’d expected to put on the leg, put down the crutches and walk normally again.

As we waited for prosthetist Brendan Tuchowski to make one of several corrections on the leg, I sat with Gilbert and told him what Joe had said. I explained everything to him and then did some coaching.

“It’s hard, but you have to be patient,” I said. “It will take time to learn. Just do not give up.”

“OK,” Gilbert said in English, “I will (not) because it is important for me.”

Three hours after arriving at Quorum in Windsor, CO, we all walked out to the car and went shopping for shoes. Gilbert needs two now, not just a shoe for his right foot.

 

New kicks to go with the new leg.

After settling into our second-week Vrbo rental this evening, I asked if he was still excited about the prosthesis. The leg stood, leaning against the wall, in the corner of his bedroom. “Yes,” he said, smiling again.

I asked if he could tell me what he was feeling. This is what he said:

“I want to tell you that the work C4C was doing in Haiti (from 2005-2014) was priceless. That is why only God will reward you. I am saying that now because when you were traveling there, I stayed in the pastor’s house (but) I didn’t know anything about what you were doing in Haiti. But seeing the broken yesterday (as he looked through a photo album of Mission: Haiti 2013 at Eileen Lakey’s house in Cañon City, CO), I was impressed. I congratulate all the missionaries of C4C for the work they are doing throughout the world. I’ve been learning a lot from you during these two weeks.

“I also want to tell you that I am very happy to have received the prosthetic. Really very (happy). Only in these first days, I find it a bit difficult. But I really loved it and it is a bit more comfortable than the first. I hope in God to be able to use it properly for His glory.”

 

Walking in the Light: Gilbert stepping out into the parking lot at Quorum Prosthetics in Windsor, CO.

Tuesday, Jan. 14 (8 a.m. Mountain time)

Just posted a short video on our Facebook page of Gilbert’s first steps with his new leg yesterday at Quorum Prosthetics. Today, he will walk as much as possible to start figuring things out before returning to Quorum for therapy tomorrow and Thursday. Praise God for this opportunity. Pray for Gilbert as he learns to adapt to the new limb.

Wednesday, Jan. 15 (1 p.m. Mountain time)

 

Walking with Brendan. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)

Gilbert progressed by leaps and bounds in less than 48 hours with his new leg. Joe Johnson was grinning joyfully when he saw Gilbert walk into Quorum Prosthetics in Windsor, CO using one crutch. “He’s a professional,” Joe said after watching Gilbert go up and down stairs.

Gilbert went for several walks on Tuesday, including strolls around the neighborhood where we are staying in Johnstown, CO. Elaine remarked that when Gilbert walked around the corner away from her, she felt like she was watching her child head off to school on his own for the first time.

Brendan Tuchowski made some slight adjustments and added some more cushioning to two spots on the prosthetic that were causing soreness. Then he told him to keep walking. We’ll return tomorrow for final fixes.

 

Gilbert with the rock star, Craig DeMartino.

Craig DeMartino, a long-time Climbing For Christ member and amputee from nearby Loveland, stopped by Quorum to visit Gilbert. Craig connected us with Joe originally. Joe has built all of Craig’s legs, which he’s used in ascents such as the “Lurking Fear” route on El Capitan in Yosemite. He was the first amputee to climb El Cap in less than 24 hours – ascending 3,000 vertical feet in 14 hours. He later did “The Nose” route (3,100 feet) in 13 hours.

Another visitor was a writer from Amplitude magazine, a publication for amputees that is doing a feature on Joe. The writer photographed Gilbert walking and asked me about his story. More interviews for stories with the Loveland newspaper and Denver’s CBS News affiliate about Gilbert and what God has done in his life are scheduled tomorrow. To God be the glory!

Wednesday, Jan. 15 (11 p.m. Mountain time)

 

Craig belaying for Nathan at Whetstone’s gym. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)

Craig DeMartino invited us to drop by a Fort Collins gym, where he does an adaptive climbing program. Gilbert enjoyed seeing everyone climbing the walls but wasn’t interested in doing it himself – especially on Day 3 with a new leg.

We visited the gym after meeting up with another long-time Climbing For Christ member and Mission: Haiti veteran, Nick Stevens, who bought us dinner in Fort Collins. It was good to get caught up on Nick’s ever-growing family and connect him with Missy.

Then it was on to another Colorado Coffee Chat. I told Gilbert we had “one more stop today to meet C4C people.” He remarked: “Oh, good, C4C people are my family.”

He met a couple more family members at a Starbucks in Timnath, CO. One, Julie Schiffmacher, is a veteran of two Climbing For Christ expeditions (Indonesia and the Philippines) and, like several others we’ve spent time with here, interested in GO-ing.

Thursday, Jan. 16

Gilbert is videotaped by a TV reporter from Denver, above, as Brendan makes final adjustments to his leg. Below, Gary and Gilbert are interviewed for the story on CBS Denver Channel 4, scheduled to air this weekend. (Photos by Elaine Fallesen)

The final adjustments to Gilbert’s new prosthetic leg were completed in and around interviews as the Loveland Reporter-Herald newspaper and the CBS Denver affiliate (Channel 4) visited Quorum Prosthetics. The reporter and photographer from Loveland were the same two who covered him in 2009, when he received his first prosthetic.

Gilbert was surprised and a little embarrassed by the coverage.

“I think that all things are planned by God and in His time,” Gilbert said. “I did not think that the TV staff would interview me, but that was planned by God.”

We retold his wonderful God story.

“I said on TV in Spanish that I feel very grateful to God for allowing me to be here and to be able to get the prosthetic so I can have more comfort in my studies,” Gilbert said. “I also added that when my leg broke, my family did not have enough financial resources to take me to a hospital, so my leg was infected until God used a C4C worker who could move me and operate on me.  

“I answered the last question saying that the prosthetic leg would help me to have more ability to continue my studies and to be able to do the work of God that is a recommendation of God.”

 

Three Amigos: Joe, Gilbert and Brendan. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

“Taking photos with Joe and all of you is a great blessing to me,” Gilbert added, “because I feel in the family. C4C is a great family and is a blessing to belong to it.”

Gilbert will continue “practicing” his walking and Elaine will be taking him shopping for new pants (that will fit better over the prosthetic). We are also working on 2020 plans for the New Generation in Haiti. There is still work to be done.

Friday, Jan. 17

 

Gary and Gilbert after dinner on the lit-up streets of Fort Collins, CO. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)

Elaine and I were shopping with Gilbert for some new clothes when he asked if he could go see Joe Johnson at Quorum Prosthetics. He felt like he was sliding out of his artificial leg when he took a step, and he knew tomorrow we would be traveling from northern Colorado.

Joe was on his way out of town, but he told us that prosthetist Jeff Coniway could fix the padding inside the upper socket, so we made our way back to Quorum. Jeff made adjustments based on what Gilbert told him the leg was doing. He, like Joe and Brendan Tuchowski, commented that most people who receive a new limb keep it on for only 2-to-3 hours per day at the start. Gilbert is not most people; he has had his leg on for 10-to-12 hours every day this week.

Gilbert’s story continues to amaze. It is such a wonderful testimony to God’s mercy and love. The Loveland Reporter-Herald’s article on Gilbert, “From Haiti to Loveland: Man’s journey to walk on two legs,” was published today. Again, all glory to God!

Back on two legs, Gilbert returned with us to the stores to buy new pants, some shirts, and a backpack for college. He’ll be going back to classes Monday at the medical school at the Universidad Technologica de Santiago in Santo Domingo, DR – a week behind his classmates. We have no doubt he’ll catch up. One comment he made this week was he’ll be able to stand when he makes presentations in front of the class; in the past teachers have pulled a chair for him to sit in.

Gilbert continues to be thankful to all who have helped him, especially on this trip. “Thank you, dear,” he told me Thursday night. “I feel in family with you. You are my family. You do more things for me than my own biological family. If I live today it is by the grace of God and you. I love you a lot.”

Saturday, Jan. 18

 

Mxolisi Myeni prays for Gilbert. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)

We left northern Colorado this morning and returned to Denver for a Coffee Chat with two Climbing For Christ families. We got caught up with the Jakabs (George, Cara, and three of their four children, including two adopted from Haiti) and the Myenis (Mxolisi, Erica Zeiler, and their two young children).

Erica Zeiler Myeni, a native Coloradoan, was part of three Mission: Haiti trips in 2007, ’08 and ’10 and our inaugural Mission: Nepal in 2008. She went on to do ministry in Swaziland, where she met her husband. Mxolisi blessed us by praying for Gilbert and the empowerment of indigenous workers by Climbing For Christ.

May God continue to use us to equip and encourage the church in mountainous places.

Gilbert, Elaine and I have a midnight flight from Denver back to New York City. Then we will return to our respective homes. And Missy starts up her Home Office here in Denver.

Sunday, Jan. 19

Denver’s CBS affiliate, Channel 4, broadcast the story, “Missionaries & Windsor Company Help Haitian Man Get Back on His Feet” today. CLICK HERE to watch.

 

Special moments: There were many, many great memories made during our time with Gilbert, including this smile as he held C4C member Erica Zeiler Myenis’ 9-month-old daughter Saturday in Denver. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)

“May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed.” – Psalm 20:4 (NLT)

We returned home today, ending a 17-day journey alongside Gilbert. We said our goodbyes for now at JFK this morning. He then flew on to Santo Domingo, where he is excited to be returning to medical school tomorrow. We flew back to the Home Office in Rochester, NY.

Before parting ways, Gilbert told Elaine:

“It has been a great blessing for me to share with you during these two weeks. Maybe we had simply planned to get the prosthetic, but I think I received much more than the prosthetic from you. You have very humble and very understanding with me. I never felt indifferent to you and that leaves me with great joy. Thanks for everything. Thank you very much. God will bless you greatly for your humility and for your desire to support with all your hearts. I hope that the blessing you receive is from generation to generation.

“I will never forget you. I will always remember how you kept asking me, ‘What do you want for breakfast;  to drink and eat at noon?’ I loved that part of you. Really thanks. I will continue to pray for your family. Have a good trip.”

It was, quite simply, a special trip that will be long remembered. 

WATCH FOR MORE MISSION MOMENTS FROM HAITI, GILBERT, AND C4C’S NEW GENERATION IN THE MONTHS AHEAD.

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