About Us

The Haiti Story

In 1987 Rees and TJ Johnston (along with their two very young children) moved to Haiti where TJ served as a volunteer for Mission with the Episcopal Church of Haiti. He was responsible for encouraging and supporting partnerships between Episcopal churches and schools in Haiti with churches and schools outside of Haiti.

Early on in his time in Haiti, a young priest named Father Fritz Valdema came into TJ’s office (he didn’t speak English and TJ spoke very little Creole at that time) and told TJ that he was being transferred to the Island of LaGonave where he would become the priest in charge of all the churches and schools on that Island that is one of the poorest places in Haiti. He had never been to LaGonave, he had no resources, he had a very young family, and he needed help to get started.

From that day on Pere Val (Father Fritz Valdema and his wife, Carmel) and TJ began a partnership that continues to this day. His first trip to LaGonave was TJ’s first trip to LaGonave. TJ and Pere Val worked and served together in Haiti for three years prior to TJ returning to the US. Since 1990, TJ has introduced countless churches, medical professionals and friends to the ongoing work of Pere Val and Carmel Valdema. In 2004 Light from Light started under the name CHAP (Christian Haitian American Partnership).

It began as a partnership between churches and schools in the Myrtle Beach area with churches, schools and the Lespwa Timoun community health projects in and around Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti. Presently, Father Fritz “Pere Val” leads the St Simeon parish for the Episcopal Church in Haiti. Carmel Valdema, is a registered nurse and founder of Lespwa Timoun “Hope for Children” Medical Clinic. Since that time they have shared their lives, ministry, families, hard times, and deeply rich and rewarding years working together in many different areas of Haiti.

What began in such a simple way decades ago, finds expression today in the partnership between Light from Light and Lespwa Timoun. Their partnership has grown way beyond their families but the love, respect, and faith that marked the beginning of the adventures together, continue to be the sustaining values of all that is being done today.