Many of you will receive the GLA Christmas Newsletter this week. Twenty-five years ago on Christmas Day, a 1 pound 15 ounce baby girl was born at the local mission hospital. Her name was Angel Noel. The doctors said that she would not live so they laid her on a sheet by her mother and waited for her to die.
At Christmas lunch with the other missionaries, I heard about this baby in the hospital and decided to go see her. When I saw that little baby moving, breathing, and very much alive, I knew that I had to try and save her! I took her home and John made an incubator for her out of a cardboard box, heating pad, and a light bulb. Angel Noel went from drinking drops of milk from an eye dropper to sucking on a bottle. She not only survived but she thrived! Angel Noel will be 25 years old on Christmas Day. It seems impossible that 25 years has passed since Angel Noel came into our lives and changed our path forever!
Angel Noel was just the first baby for God’s Littlest Angels. The need to help the tiny babies of Haiti was great then and it still is 25 years later! We have only been able to do this work through your donations throughout the last 25 years! But our donations are very low this year. We desperately need your help.
Why are our donations down for 2019? Some of it is due to the political problems in Haiti and many volunteers and teams have had to cancel coming to GLA. The fees they pay help with the daily running of GLA. Tim Parker’s death was a huge blow to all of us at GLA. It was traumatic and overwhelming. Tim was a huge part of GLA and kept the place running. A few months later, Melissa Parker decided to stay in the USA and not return to GLA. Life at GLA was changing.
Then, John Bickel was diagnosed with cancer and had a brain tumor removed on Easter Sunday, April 2019. The day he finally went home from the hospital, I had appendicitis and had to have emergency surgery. People who we thought were friends and supporters of GLA began throwing accusations at John and I for things we had no control over. It seemed like Satan was attacking us from all directions and we were overwhelmed.
The US Board is wanting to replace all top administrative staff due to money issues and have younger staff who were self supporting come to Haiti to work. John and I understand this. With John being sick and unable to live in Haiti for the foreseeable future, I had planned on leaving in February 2020 anyway. I was trying to tie up all loose ends here at GLA such as transferring titles to land and vehicles to the Haitian Board.
Due to John’s Failing health and our inability to stay in county full time for the foreseeable future, the board has asked me to step down from my position effective December 31, 2019, and I have agreed. John was already laid off in November while on sick leave due to low finances at GLA.
For 25 years, God used us to build GLA into a model orphanage and child care facility. We made a lot of personal sacrifices for the children at GLA. We lived away from our families and friends. I missed the births of 7 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren! One of our grand-daughters, we didn’t get to meet until she was 2 years old! We were in Haiti when 3 of our parents passed away. We felt that God told us to take up our cross and follow him no matter what happened! We never left Haiti during hurricanes, earthquakes, or military coups. The people we served could not just up and leave, why should we? Not everyone feels this way and that is alright too. John and I just felt God calling us in this way.
It is going to be very hard to say goodbye to our Haitian family and home. But John and I know that God will take care of us in our old age and are praying diligently for wisdom. When we first started God's Littlest Angels, we both prayed that God would show us when it was time to leave and return to the USA. We prayed that God be very clear when that time came and He has been very clear that it's time for us to return to the States and spend time together and with our children and grandchildren.
The board is looking for younger staff with new ideas to come to Haiti and work, and has asked Molly Little (a previous staff member) to come back for 3 months to help with this transition time while all the staff gets used to their new positions. Ernst Beaublanc will be the new director of GLA and Magaly Francois will continue as the Haitian government liaison and Haitian director. The land and buildings are in John and my names but are being turned over to our Haitian Board and they will be in charge of the land. The land was bought by John and I for GLA in Haiti for present and future generations of Haitian children and that is how it will be used.
John and I had a vision of retiring to the States in the next year or two and then raising funds for GLA through church visits and general fundraising. We wanted to stay active in GLA because GLA was our vision from the very beginning. No one else will quite have that same vision that we had 25 years ago when our first little baby came to us. We will never tire of telling the story of that first baby, Angel Noel and the journey of GLA. We will see where God leads in future months.
At this time, John and I are planning on moving back to the states on January 2nd. Molly Little is coming to GLA to take my place on December 27th. I have total faith in our Haitian administrative staff to keep GLA running. They have been with us almost 20 years and know how to run the mission. I doubt that they will run it totally like we did and that is good. I want them to put their own ideas and dreams into GLA. Molly will be helping with the US/Haiti side of things and with be giving guidance to the staff as needed.
December 25, 1994-December 25, 2019
Since Christmas Day is the 25th Anniversary of GLA in Haiti, please consider making a special anniversary donation to GLA. Please give to GLA this Christmas season. You have always been faithful to GLA and the work that God has done through John and I and all of our past and present staff members. We have faith that God is in control and He will not allow GLA to close and funds will come in to keep GLA running. But please, we need you to make this happen.
Please go to www.glahaiti.org/donate and donate to the general fund.
For 25 years, John and I have given our lives to caring for the children of Haiti. We love Haiti. We love our staff. We love GLA. And we love all of you. Without you and God, we could not have done any of the things that GLA has done in Haiti.
And for the very last time, I get to write my signature sign off which I have used to sign every blog for the last 25 years. I write this with tears running down my face.
And Life in Haiti Goes On…
Blessings to all of you, Dixie
I thought all of you might enjoy a look back in the past of GLA and also the Bickel family and how we have changed in the last 25 years and just some of the babies, staff, and visitors who have come through GLA. These are some of the first ones that are not on the computer but were real photos that I took copies of to put here!
Enjoy! Merry Christmas to all of you!