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Melissa at Messef in March, 2011.  This little boy, Pierredson, has stayed on her heart, along with all the other children, through the years. Read on to find out where Melissa is today and how that love is still being acted on.

Giving from a New Perspective

In the last year and a half, my life has literally been turned upside down. 18 months ago, I was one week into a new relationship and oblivious to the direction my world was heading. But, here I am today: married, with an almost eight month old daughter, and approaching the two year mark residing in the same municipal region. For this old gypsy, this is a drastic change and daily adjustment.

The biggest challenge I've encountered is sitting still; not being able to just pick up and go, to help out whenever, offer support wherever, and raise funds in various ways. I'm now a stay at home mom, navigating the delicate balance between feedings and nap-time to meet up with friends or make that important phone call that will undoubtedly place me on hold!

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade my new life with my daughter and husband for anything in the world, including my old life. But in all honesty, there are definitely moments when I look back on that 'constant traveller' with a bit of envy and longing. And in those moments, I have learned - or more accurately, am practicing - the art of redefining!

That is, redesigning the way I do the things I love – travelling and giving back.

Missions is a natural part of my life, and giving to ministries that support the less fortunate remains a passion. I've had to explore new ways of raising funds, because I can't take on full time projects or jobs. I've had to be content to support others who can GO rather than being the one who hops on the plane and gets her hands dirty. And that's OK.

Those who know me are already well aware of this non-profit idea I've had on the go for a few years now: AngeLissa. I use recyclable materials destined for our landfills to make unique things, like our trademark bags made from Second Cup coffee bean bags, and donate all the proceeds to those less fortunate. So, when folks like yourself purchase items from AngeLissa, we're giving back to those who have less, together.

However, the opportunity to sew for six hours a day has ultimately been reduced to sewing once every six months or so and unfortunately this has put a huge strain on my ability to raise funds. But my passion to help has not diminished one bit. And I am especially concerned about the situation at Messef Orphanage in Haiti, as it's one of the regular ministries we aim to support.

So, I decided to coordinate a co-city pre-existing fundraiser with Shauna (AngeLissa's helping hand) in partnership with the thrift store, Value Village, to help Messef through to the end of the year. Here's how it works. Value Village offers non-profit organizations the opportunity to sell them bags of clothing (along with other items), thus providing a way to raise funds.

We've already begun campaigning our friends, neighbours, families, and co-workers (past and present) to clean out their closets and bookshelves, shoe shelves, and kitchen hardware! All items will be brought to the Value Village in our respective city – Spruce Cove, AB and Ottawa, ON - to be turned into funds (by weight).

And so we set a date - October 8th - the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. After all, what better time to remind people to recognize the ABUNDANCE we have in this nation!

With renewed enthusiasm and excitement, I donned my walking shoes, grabbed my flyers and headed out the door to approach my neighbours only to return an hour later, heart broken and in tears. I had visited over 30 homes, knocking on doors telling folks I was willing to take their outgrown, too small, obsolete "junk"; only to discover that the majority of people don't share this passion for the less fortunate. I encountered but three neighbours who showed equal enthusiasm and excitement. I had many, many more view me with skepticism, disinterest and a few even down right rudely dismiss me.

Now, I don't know what you are thankful for. But when I sit for a moment and consider my life, my thanks feels limitless. When I go to the fridge or pantry, I'm thankful there's more than one option for dinner.

When I get dressed, I'm thankful for a clean shirt and clean pair of underwear, and when I don't 'feel' like wearing those pair of jeans, I am thankful that I have a washing machine to wash my favourite pair instead!

I'm thankful for our home that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I am thankful for my junky old 1996 car that still gets great fuel mileage and gets me where I need to go without any delay or difficulty.

Even more, I am thankful that my daughter has enough food in her belly each night - that when she cries, it is not a desperate cry of starvation. She has access to medication, immunizations and regular check ups to make sure she's growing adequately.

And the list goes on....

When I consider that I am of the top 5 per cent richest people in the world, I find it very surprising, even disheartening, that anyone else in a similar situation as myself would scoff at a request for old, unwanted stuff. In fact, I'm speechless.

But also relentless.

Undaunted, I will continue to make noise and raise my voice in an ongoing effort to make known the basic needs of the world - despite this growing habit to close our eyes and turn our heads. Too many seem to take for granted all the blessings we encounter daily here in Canada (and in other rich countries).

We have far too much to be thankful for! 

Daniel, Melissa and Pearl

Let us know what you are thankful for and join Melissa in expressing that gratitude - please click here
Melissa and Shauna are collecting goods in Spruce Grove and Ottawa so if that is your area and you can help, please let us know.
Melissa and her partner at AngeLissa and long time Friend of Messef, Shauna, are not the only ones who are coming up with fresh ideas  Take a look at what else Friends of Messef are doing to help our children.
Carol J used to live in the Dominican Republic.  She has never visited Messef but has a heart for the children.  Since her return to the UK she is still helping.  Her church, the Central Baptist Church, in Chelmsford, Essex helped with a water pump and filter many years ago.  Now Carol leads the Sunshine Group, a Seniors' club at church, and they have decided to jointly sponsor a child at Messef on a monthly basis.  We do not have an individual sponsorship scheme but the regular donation will benefit all the children.  Carol also holds car boot sales for Messef, often raising very little money, but she is not deterred.  The Sunshine Group will be the sixth monthly sponsor from the UK.  Let's see if some of you other nations can step up and join the Brits :-)
Blue Bell Woods Day Nursery in Binley Woods, UK,  invited a professional children's photographer to the nursery, and families had the opportunity to purchase some beautiful photographs of their children. Nerys (Nursery Owner/ Manager) donated the £250 commission they raised to Messef.  They also help us administer the fantastic EasyFundraising scheme for online shoppers in the UK.
Ben, my 7 year old grandson, also chose to help the children at Messef by saving his pocket money for them.  For a little boy who loves money, this was no small sacrifice.  I thought it was so cool to see Ben wearing a T-shirt the same as one of Fadelin's favourites.
Lorenzo has had a heart for Messef for many years.  He visited back in April with friends, Daniel and George, taking supplies brought through the generosity of the Romanian churches in Canada.  The crossing at the frontier is always frustrating and the journey and heat exhausting but they blessed the children in a major way.

A Serving Heart continues to be a huge source of help to the children and Friends of Messef. They are helping us with special projects and to be the hands and feet of Jesus when we are not always able to go into Haiti so frequently or for so long ourselves.

Back in April and May they helped us to realize some important improvements to the property there, thanks to money raised in the #Giving Tuesday Appeal at the end of 2015.  We were able, with the help of Jeisi Acevedo, to make the storage areas much more hygienic, in line with government demands, and to carry out some smaller repairs.  Funds remain and we will continue to work on other needs as time permits.  We thank Jeisi for giving his time freely.  It was wonderful to see the children helping with the work.

In addition, we were able to pass on a small financial gift to each of the teachers thanks to
the generosity of one of our supporters.  This was a big encourage- ment for staff who give their time and efforts, never knowing when or if they will be paid.


Julienne, from A Serving Heart, visited Messef again in September and Dr. Kerolle ran a mobile clinic examining all the children and any adults with health problems.  Fadelin has been suffering with an ear infection and complications for a long time now.  He has been in hospital in Port-au-Prince on two occasions and still there is no great improvement.  Dr. Kerolle has examined him and they are trying to establish the best course of treatment for him.  We will be helping with that.  In Haiti this is far from simple.

We are thankful to have been able to take a food run every month so far this year, with Pastor Quirico rising at 3.00 a.m. to make the long drive to Haiti or the border.
It is some time since we sent out a Newsletter so we would like to thank all of the following people who have helped since then: A Serving Heart; Dr. Kerolle; Lorenzo, George, Daniel and the Romanian Churches of Canada; Jeisi; Blue Bell Woods Day Nursery; Ben; Carol B; Minnie; Lisa; Jenny; Ashley and Naurio; Oaklands Wealth Management; Rhonda; Shauna; Tammy and Jamie; and Linda B.

We would also like to express our gratitude to Trudy, Cliff, Wendy, Barbara and Jeanette, our regular sponsors, for their support.  If you would like to join them, with no matter how small a regular donation, please
contact us.

Find out more on our newly updated website and please share with your friends.

May God bless you for your kindness and generosity.

Best Wishes,

Linda Stapleton de Martinez                                  Pastor Quirico Diaz      
Coordinator                                                          Leader

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If you cannot donate at this time but care about the children, please forward this email to anyone who may be interested and keep Messef in your thoughts and prayers. 
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