This is an inspiring story of a married couple who is willing to give up their home, careers, families and surroundings to help kids in need. They will move in February 2013. Information about how to help support the Aschlimans is at the end of the article. Prayerfully consider helping them with their financial needs.
This was published in the News-Banner in 12/12.
Bluffton resident Lisa Aschliman is hoping the transition from learning Spanish to Creole is an easy one. Since 2003, Aschliman has taught Spanish at Norwell High School. In December 2012 she and her husband Bruce resigned their full-time jobs (he worked at Aquatic Management in Bluffton) to work as missionaries in Haiti with the Bluffton-based organization Loving Shepherd Ministries (LSM).
Ed Schwartz is president of Loving Shepherd Ministries, a Christian organization serving orphaned and at-risk children in Haiti and Ethiopia by providing them with permanent, godly families.
Working with missions groups outside of the United States is not new to the Aschlimans. Since 1992, they have been involved with short-term missionary trips organized through the Apostolic Christian Church (country location) of which they are members. “I’ve probably gone to Mexico 25 times to help churches and children’s homes,” said Lisa. Bruce has often accompanied her, assisting with maintenance and car mechanical needs and other critical projects. Lisa’s knowledge of the country’s language was a boost to their work in the Hispanic-speaking country.
That advantage was not applicable when in March 2012 the Aschlimans traveled to Haiti for a month to see the work of LSM.
Bruce had spent the month of January in Haiti helping with the work there at the request of Ed Schwartz, president of LSM.
He enjoyed the experience so much that he convinced Lisa to return with him two months later. Together they visited 12 homes, each filled with a dozen children and their house parents. “Most of the children became orphans from the earthquake in 2010,” said Aschliman.
Visiting Haiti and seeing the work being done there for approximately 200 orphans between the ages of two and 18
was an eye-opening experience for the Aschlimans. “We realized just what a wonderful thing was happening for those children who had nothing.” Upon returning to Bluffton one month later, the Aschlimans told Schwartz they would like to help with future projects in Haiti.
He took them at their word. In October 2012 Schwartz talked to the Aschlimans about returning to Haiti permanently. “He asked Bruce and I to go to Haiti to live and work with the ministry there on a long-term basis,” said Lisa. Bruce would assist with maintenance and shipping. Lisa would serve as the mission’s child-development coordinator.
The Aschlimans were floored at the request. “We had full-time jobs and a mortgage,” said Lisa. But they told Schwartz they would pray and ask God to reveal His plan for them. For a week the Aschlimans prayed, listened to sermons and songs on Christian radio stations, read devotional comments and the Bible. After seven days they came to a mutual decision. “We believed God wanted us to go to Haiti and that we should obey Him,” said Lisa.
In December the Aschlimans resigned their jobs. Within the next few weeks they hope to sell their home, car, and other belongings to prepare for their move which they hope will be in February.
As LSM’s child-development coordinator, Aschliman will work with Haitian teachers to offer educational assistance, tutor students, and implement art and music in their education. Bruce will help with the school’s ranch, farming and vocational training. “He may help create a mechanic’s garage,” said Lisa.
The Aschlimans will have to learn the Creole language, which is part French, part Western African dialect. “Hopefully it will not be too difficult,” said Lisa.
The Aschlimans will not serve as house parents or assist in adoptions for the children. “The people living together in the homes are considered a family with siblings and parents,” said Lisa. “The idea of LSM is to create permanent families for the children who no longer have families.” All of the children in each home are either females or males. House parents are recruited among local churches. The Aschlimans will live in an apartment in Les Cayes, Haiti.
“We hope these children will be the leaders in tomorrow’s Haiti,” said Lisa. “They could be future politicians and professionals who are needed to help the country get on the right track.”
Note: Another Bluffton resident, Zach Bertsch, is working with LSM to add more homes in Haiti. Since being diagnosed with cancer in 2010, Bertsch’s Cancer Redemption Project (http://cancerredemption.com/) has planned four new homes for orphans in Haiti for a total of 16.
For more information about LSM or to make a financial contribution in honor of the Aschlimans in Haiti go to www.loving-shepherd.org.
The Aschlimans will record their Haitian experiences at bashsblogspot.blogspot.com.