LOOKING BACK AT 2013
What are the memories that stand out for you this year?
Ours would include many meaningful times of worship, fellowship with friends,
both rewarding and frustrating times of work and service, and some special times
with family. We have had our highs and lows, much the same as you. Here are a
few things that stand out from our year.
On April 3 we lost a dear friend and fellow missionary when Keith Flanagan
passed away suddenly. Keith had worked in Haiti with various organizations, but
most recently with Christian Veterinary Mission. Although he was not with Global
Missions, he grew up in the Church of God in Oklahoma. His wife Jan continues to
work here in Haiti.
We saw two family birthday milestones as Jessica turned 21 and John turned
65. We had a reception for him with friends and family in Anderson the weekend
we arrived there in June.
We had the usual exodus that happens at the end of the school year, saying
goodbye to several good friends who were leaving Haiti. This never seems to get
One special high point was attending the Church of God Global Gathering in June.
We saw friends from all over the world who were there representing the church in
their countries. It was a wonderful time of worship, fellowship, and challenge.
Just before our return to Haiti at the end of July, we were able to go on a
family vacation with all our kids, thanks to the generosity of friends who let
us stay in their cabin in Gatlinburg. We hiked, played games, enjoyed the
scenery, and had a great time together.
We had a memorable journey back to Haiti the first part of August. We do NOT
recommend leaving your passport in the seat pocket of the plane, but we were so
tired that we did exactly that. After many hours over several days spent
shuttling back and forth to the Miami airport and standing in various lines, we
finally received word that our documents had been found. We then spent 24 hours
in the airport on standby until we were able to get on another flight. That is
an adventure we hope never to repeat, and we have a new respect for that little
NEWS FROM PROSPERE
One thing you quickly learn in Haiti is that things always take longer than
you expect and hope they will. However, this year has seen some good progress
for the church and community in Prospere. One concern we have had for a number
of years is providing clean drinking water for the community there. There have
been ups and downs, with digging and repairing the well, but then the water not
being drinkable. This year, another organization (Oxfam) dug a new well in the
area, and the water is clean and drinkable. We are so thankful for this! Most of
us take clean water for granted, and itís easy to forget that many people around
the world have difficulty finding it.
There were several things that John hoped to accomplish with some of the
Prospere project money. One was to purchase more effective medicine to deal with
the high blood pressures in the area. He has had good success with lowering
blood pressures in many of the clinic patients this year. As with many things,
education is key, as people often begin to feel better and donít return for
check-ups and more medicine. This is a long-term process.
The equipment for the solar phone charger is in place. This is a great service
for those who have no electricity. Finally, John has been experimenting with
showing videos in French and English to the school children after the clinic. He
is quickly learning what is most effective and even finding some You Tube videos
other news, Pastor Francois and his wife have been in Canada for much of this
year, staying with one of their children. Pastor Francois just had cataract
surgery there this past month. We hope to see him back here for a bit. In his
absence, John has come to rely on Abel, who is assuming more leadership in the
village. He counsels the young people there and helps John in many ways. We are
thankful for this man of integrity in Prospere.
We are presently in the Advent season, a time to ďprepare the way of the
Lord.Ē And in that spirit I have a confession to make. I love Christmas cards.
Although we donít receive as much snail mail as we used to, we still receive
Christmas cards from many friends, family and supporters. We even have one
church who collects cards from its members and sends them all to us in a big
envelope. Of course, because our mail comes weekly, our cards are often late and
we always receive some in January. But I love them whenever they arrive.
The second part of my confession is that I just canít throw away Christmas
cards. I tie a ribbon around each yearís stack and tuck them away. I guess they
represent so much love, support, friendship, and memories in a small package
that itís difficult to get rid of them. And life being what it is, they often
pile up on my desk. Iím usually several years behind on actually putting them
somewhere else. So this week I realized things were getting out of hand, and it
was time to reorganize the Christmas card mess.
My first reaction to reading through the cards is great joy and gratitude for
the dear friends who, whether near or far, are a part of our lives. My second
reaction is a deep seated guilt about not having communicated better during the
past year (again). The tyranny of the urgent would have us focus on todayís
to-do list and the deadlines for the week. Itís a struggle just to write a thank
you note and get it in the mail on time. Birthday greetings are almost all on
Facebook. And to answer pen pal requests seems like an impossibility from
another time warp. But I still feel guilty when it doesnít happen.
And yet, I find that feeling inadequate (which happens frequently) puts me in
the perfect place to experience Advent. When I feel self-sufficient and on top
of things, I feel grateful, but not as much like I need a savior. When the
weather is good, people say nice things, the kids are well behaved, and the
potholes are filled in, I can do this life thing, without any help, thank you.
But when Iím so tired and overwhelmed that I just want to escape, the traffic
and the kids are both horrid, and yet another responsibility appears on my
plate, I tend to react more like a frustrated four year old. Yep, I need a
savior. And thatís why I love Advent, because I know heís coming. Yes, of course
heís already come. But it helps me focus on what is important, and not just
urgent. This poem expresses it well:
No one can celebrate
a genuine Christmas
without being truly poor.
The self-sufficient, the proud,
those who, because they have
everything, look down on others,
those who have no need
even of Godófor them there
will be no Christmas.
Only the poor, the hungry,
those who need someone
to come on their behalf,
will have that someone.
That someone is God.
Without poverty of spirit
There can be no abundance of God.
Will I still feel guilty? No doubt. After all, I was brought up well, to
take on too much responsibility. Will I still need a savior? Yes, always. May
you feel your need and draw close to the manger as we enter into Christmas.
Living-Link is a program whereby churches and individuals can give tax free
donations which go to our familyís personal support here in Haiti. Some of this
money is used by us personally for daily needs, and wants, some for things that
make it possible for us to carry out the clinic ministry here such as our office
and car, and medical equipment expenses, some is used for our medical insurance,
continuing education, and travel funds so we can visit and give first hand
reports to those who give to keep us here.
At present we have approximately 97% of our Living-Link budget committed to
us but Church of God Global Missions desire us to have approximately 110% in
order to make sure weíre covered for increases in things like insurance, and
cost of living, etc. As a Living-Link supporting church, the church commits a
designated amount of money per month or per year and for that commitment we, the
missionaries, commit to report on the ministry with our Living-Link partner at
least four times a year and make a personal visit to the church at least once
every five years.
To you our living link supporters please accept our sincere thanks for
making it possible to us to live in here in Haiti serving the Church, the poor
and needy of this land, and Christ. We know that many of you give very
sacrificially for us and we are humbled by your generosity.
If you or your church would be interested in becoming a Living-Link partner
please call Debbie Taylor at the Church of God Global Missions
(1-800-848-2464). She will be glad to assist you.
If you would like to give individually toward our personal support please
send these funds to :
Church of God Ministries
PO Box 2420
Anderson IN 46018
On the memo line of each check please write LL#42.10001 John Ackerman
Haiti still has a haunting natural beauty. View
some photos here!
The Ackermans are Career Missionaries with the Church of
God (Anderson, IN) and would love to hear from you. Their mail in Haiti is
delivered by Agape Flights, Inc. You can write to or email the Ackerman family at the
- Postal address
John, Jodie and Jessica Ackerman
Agape Flights #237
100 Airport Ave.
Venice, FL 34285-3901
- John, Jodie and Jessica
- Financial Support
- The Ackerman's work is supported by contributions from many individuals and Church of God
congregations. Despite the widespread poverty in Haiti, it is expensive to
support missions work there. We appreciate your tax deductible gift and
commit to using it wisely. Donations may be sent to:
Church of God Ministries
PO Box 2420, Anderson, Indiana,
or call (800) 848-2464, ext. 2129
Please be sure to specify the John Ackerman family and
use Project Number 42.10001 in your gift.
For a gift toward projects at the Prospere Medical Clinics, use
Project #42.30233- Haiti Prospere Clinics
Click here for a list of minor things needed
which will go a long way (perfect for children and Sunday School classes)