It never fails to amaze me how God sends a Word to us at just the right time when we cry out to Him and ask for His perfect peace. As you can imagine, the struggle and turmoil I have dealt with in my spirit as we have made this move back to the states has been excruciating. I have fought it in my spirit every step of the way.
First of all, I did not want to leave my husband in Haiti. Although the place where we live is not a dangerous place, and we have most of the comforts of home, it is still not easy to live there. The hardest part I think is the language barrier. For Tony, having to depend on a translator day in and day out in order to diagnose and treat the hundreds of people he sees each week is exhausting both mentally and physically. There seem to be constant misunderstandings and confusion around every corner just because of the lack of the ability to communicate freely. That is actually getting better as he is learning the language more and more, but I just wish I could be there by his side to help him through it. Secondly, I have argued and argued with God over this because I can’t understand why He would call us all to Haiti, then have me and Jacob return to the states after just 3 months! When we committed to go, we committed to GO AND STAY! So why bring me and Jacob back here when we had worked so hard to build a good relationship with the families on the hill and the families in the village? I just couldn’t understand. I cried out to God asking for the soccer opportunities to happen there in Haiti, but all I got was silence. I was getting so very frustrated because I wanted to be able to continue the ministry I had begun, but I knew I needed to make the right decision for Jacob’s future as well. I needed reassurance that going back to the US was indeed what GOD wanted us to do and not just us giving in and not being patient. Well, today I received my confirmation that we are indeed where he wants us to be.
I don’t know if you remember or not, but in my story about how we were called into this ministry, I spoke about how God led me into a study of the book of Nehemiah right after Tony was called to go to Haiti for the first time. This was two years ago. God showed me through this study that He was going to involve us in a HUGE rebuilding of an area of Haiti that would involve the efforts of many people and a great deal of organization. I took notes as I studied and then shared them with Tony. All Tony could say was, “Well, that’s big!” We had no idea what BIG thing God was going to do with us, but He eventually led us to But God Ministries, and He led us to surrender to full time missions to go to Haiti as a part of a HUGE plan that was just as He had shown us through my study of Nehemiah.
Well today, God led me back into the book of Nehemiah. In Nehemiah 11, verses 1-2, it says, “Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem. and the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem the holy city, while nine out of ten remained in the other towns. and the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem.” When I read this, I immediately began to apply it to our situation and thought about the fact that right now, our family has decided that what is best for all of us is to let Tony remain in Haiti, and the rest of us live in the US for school for a season. (I still have a hard time even typing this, but I know now that God is definitely behind this plan.) As I usually do, I began looking at some commentary on these verses and this is what I found: “Being a true leader isn’t always glamorous. There are not always hundreds of people lining up, wanting to be just like you. This can be witnessed in the book of Nehemiah. We read that the leaders lived in Jerusalem and the rest drew lots. Nehemiah is the account of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. During the restoration, enemies threatened to attack it as the wall and gates were rebuilt; it wasn’t necessarily the safest place. That is one reason the average Joe didn’t immediately sign up to live there. Jerusalem living also meant leaving a previous place of residence, which had one’s farm and livelihood. At this point, Jerusalem was not yet finished and life there would have been difficult. These leaders made a sacrifice. Someone had to live there and start the process of creating a once again bustling city. Could this be what leadership is often about? Not asking people to take a risk for you, but rather taking one for them? Jesus even said that He came to serve and to not be served (Matthew 20:28). That is what leading is. We learn how to do this in its purest of forms through Jesus and his substitutionary death on the cross. He calls us to lay down our lives for others, because He has laid down His for us (John 15:13).”
Oh my! As I read this, my heart began to beat faster and I began to cry as I realized that God was indeed confirming that the sacrifice that my family is making to live separately for a little while is exactly what God wants us to do! It was His plan all along! When I wrote my last blog post to explain to everyone what we had decided to do, I entitled it “Making Sacrifices.” I have come to realize now that this sacrifice we are making is part of what God has called us to do! As with every other trial we walk through, Jesus has gone before us. He knows how it feels! He sacrificed His place with the Father to come here and make a way for us! He knows what it’s like to leave a place where He felt He was supposed to be in order to provide for His children and do what was best for them….us! In showing me this scripture today, and leading me to this commentary, God was telling me that He DOES go before us, and He IS in this! We ARE doing what He wants us to do, and He WILL bless our sacrifice. That’s all I needed to know. Today I have a refreshed vision and a clear purpose. Whatever He wants to accomplish in this move and separation period, He WILL accomplish, and we HONOR Him when we obey – even when that obedience is very difficult.
I don’t know what God has in store for our family in the coming days and months, but I do know that we are still in His hands. Jacob and I have started having a Bible study together over breakfast every day, and today I was able to share with him this amazing confirmation from God that we are doing the right thing. He too was relieved to hear it. We talked yesterday about how strange it felt to register for school and know that he will be back in the classroom and playing soccer this week. We talked about how we wish we knew for sure that we had made the right decision. Today God answered that plea to know. We have a peace now, and we are growing closer to our Father as we cling to Him for guidance and strength.
Thank you all so much for the encouragement and prayers you send our way. Your obedience to share that encouragement is a constant reminder to us of God’s love and protection. God is good…..ALL THE TIME!
Walking in HIS steps….
Today we want to let all of you know about a decision our family has made that is going to mean a great deal of sacrifice and change for our family once again. It was an excruciating decision to make, but we believe it is the right decision for the time being.
When we answered the call to missions and the specific call to serve at Hope Center in Gallet Chambon, we knew that this would be a difficult thing for our 16 year old son, Jacob. As we have said before, out of all four of us, Jacob is perhaps the one who has sacrificed the most in this move. He said goodbye to his school, friends, church, his dog, the only home he has ever known, and the sport that has been his life for 13 years – the sport he has dreamed of as his future. When we told Jacob we were moving to Haiti, he didn’t complain, he didn’t lash out, and he didn’t question. He just moved in faith with us, waiting on the Lord to show us and him what He wanted to do with Jacob through this move as well. We knew that God wanted to do a work in Jacob in Haiti as well, so we all left in faith that God would show us His plan in time. We feel strongly that God gave Jacob unique athletic abilities, particularly in the sport of soccer, for a reason. We have believed for many years that God plans to use those abilities for years to come in Jacob’s life. Jacob’s strongest desire is to be able to continue to play soccer in college one day. When we moved to Haiti, we were led to believe that he would be given many opportunities to play soccer there and that these opportunities might even present him with more exposure to colleges in the US than he would get otherwise. We decided to give it some time and just wait to see what opportunities he would get while living in Haiti. So before we left, we told Jacob that we would leave the door open for him to return to the US at some point to be able to go to school and play soccer if things didn’t work out for him to play in Haiti.
Not long after we moved to Haiti, Jacob did indeed get to play some soccer. Coach Peterson, a Haitian national coach, invited Jacob to play in two games in Cap Haitian. We had to fly to Cap Haitian because it is an 8 hour drive from Ganthier over some dangerous terrain. It was expensive, but it was also an opportunity we could not pass up for Jacob. The two games he played in were All-Star games that had been put together after a summer-long series of games that took place all over Haiti. He played in both games and did an amazing job. The crowd went nuts every time he got the ball. It was so cool seeing him interact with boys his age and play as a team even though they didn’t share the same language. We were pleasantly surprised by how well he played because just a week before we moved to Haiti, we discovered that Jacob had a serious ankle injury that was threatening to get worse if he didn’t strengthen the muscles in his ankle and let it heal. After the games in Cap Haitian, we returned to Ganthier and waited to hear from the coach about getting on a team closer to home. We realized that although it was great to get to play in Cap Haitian, we could not afford to keep returning there to play. The coach talked about getting him on a team in Port au Prince or Croix du Bouquet, but after several weeks passed, nothing ever happened. Slowly but surely, Jacob began to get more and more homesick because he was not playing the game he loves. However, he continued to trust that God had a purpose for his being in Haiti during this time. Our prayer was, “Lord show us TODAY what you want us to do, and we will trust that You hold the future in Your hands.”
Jacob decided to walk each day in faith that God would heal him emotionally, physically, and spiritually as we waited on Him to show us what He wanted us to do. Each day Jacob and I would have school from about 8:30 to 3:00 and then we would join the visiting mission team in whatever activities or ministries they had come to do. During that time, Jacob learned how to do many things that he would not have known to do otherwise. He learned about cabinetry, using power tools, electricity, medicine, and daily ministering to the needs of the people of our village. It would bless my heart to see him working along side the Godly men that God would send our way. It would bless me even more when I saw him working alongside his daddy in the clinic, helping to calm adults and children alike while they waited for Tony to take care of their medical needs. For weeks Jacob grew and grew. Although he wasn’t getting to play soccer or even work out much physically, he was growing in ways we couldn’t see with our eyes. Everyone that spent time with him fell in love with him, and Tony and I knew God was teaching him and healing him in many ways.
October came and we realized it was getting time to make a decision about what Jacob would do. Soccer season was starting soon, and if he was going to play, we would have to prepare for his return to the states because it was obvious he wasn’t getting to play in Haiti like we had hoped. We asked Jacob what he wanted to do, and he was clearly torn. He had developed some very strong relationships there at Hope Center that would be very hard to leave. Vladimir has become like a brother to him. G has become a true friend that enjoys singing and laughing with him. Mathurin spends time with us each day drinking Koolade and making silly faces for the camera. Esther makes special dishes for him that she knows he loves. And visiting teams go on and on about what a wonderful young man our son is and what a joy it is to see a young person so compassionate and friendly with adults. Yes, Jacob has grown tremendously. He has matured and learned a lot about serving others.
Jacob has also healed physically. Over the years Jacob has injured almost every muscle group in his body. Every time he gets injured, he makes himself play past his pain and grabs short opportunities to heal, but he has not actually given his body a good break in over 10 years! In the past three months, however, Jacob has been able to let his body rest. Although I am sure his stamina has suffered, his muscles, joints, and bones have had an opportunity to get some much needed rest. Now he can rebuild his cardio stamina and muscle strength by daily training and working out, and once he gets back to playing, he will be like new.
With all of this in mind, Tony and Jacob and I prayed together and asked God to lead us to what was best for our family and our son at this particular time. After asking God for guidance, Tony told me that Jacob must return and he had a peace about that. We decided that because we are his parents, and God has given to him to us to raise up to become the Godly man he was meant to be, one of us needs to stay with Jacob while he is in school. We decided that I would return with him because the specific calling God gave our family was to move to Haiti and run the medical clinic and oversee daily operations. That is Tony’s forte and he loves it. God has been preparing Tony for just this thing for years now, and we can see that clearly.
With all of this decided, Jacob and I returned to the states on Wednesday, October 17th, and he will start back to school on Wednesday, October 24th. I cannot begin to describe what a difficult week this has been for us. Last Sunday, we went to church at the little village church where we have begun attending. At the end of the service, I went before the membership and explained what we had decided and asked that they support my husband in our absence and that they pray for our family. They all verbally committed to do just that. They all came and hugged us after the service and told us how much they love us. It was such a beautiful time. Monday Jacob and I went up on the hill and took pictures of all of the school children on their first day of school, then we walked them to school and watched the principal/pastor get them all set up in their new classes. Here’s a picture of the kids before school and Jacob walking them to school.
The next day, Tuesday, all of the children came by Hope Center on their way home from their second day of school. They wanted to show us their books they got at school. Each one pulled out a stack of books they had been assigned. They were so very proud of their books. Jacob and I could not hold back the tears as we looked into their hopeful eyes and thought about the fact that we would be leaving the next day. When they saw the tears flowing, theirs began to flow too and one of the older boys said, “Pa kriye. Nou wè ou pita.” (Don’t cry. We will see you later.) We were ALL crying by then, even the mother who had brought them by to see us. I explained to the mother, Emmanuella, that as mothers sometimes we have to make sacrifices for our children that are hard, but we know that the sacrifice we make is what is best for our child. In the long run, a few months is but a very short time compared to the years ahead for our children. She nodded and told me she understood and that this was the very reason she moved her family to Gallet Chambon.
So Jacob and I have now moved back to Brandon for a long visit I like to say. Thanks to the amazing generosity of our home buyer, we are able to stay here for several weeks until we can work out something more permanent. Tony will be here on October 25th and he will get to be with us for 18 days! We will cherish every single one of those days too. Jacob will re-enroll in school this next week and immediately start back to soccer. Right now he his conditioning twice a day to get his body back in shape for the season to start. We have enjoyed several visits with Jonathan too so far and that has been so nice. He came over for lunch today and the three of us ate sandwiches and talked until he had to head back to school. We have missed him so much. Getting to see him play a guitar solo at the Movement last night was a treat I have missed so much. Tony will be joining us each week too since the Movement is streamed live on the internet!
Please pray for our family as we prepare for this time of separation and adjustment. We all have a peace that God is still leading us and showing us where He wants us to be. Tony absolutely LOVES his work at the clinic at Hope Center, and he is making a difference in the lives of many, many people there. God is growing him and using him in mighty, mighty ways every single day, and that is an amazing place to be! You can see it in his face below that he loves where he is right now.
The teams that come in each week from all over the country love on him and they enjoy sharing and learning from one another. We talk with Tony every night since we have a US land line there at the house at Hope Center. We also text often during the day. We are going to try to work it out so that either we go there to visit or he comes here at least once every couple of months. This will put a huge strain on the budget, but we also know that God will sustain us. Again, one day we will look back and see that this time was very short in the grand scheme of things. My mother explained things to me so well when she replied to an email I sent her expressing my anguish over leaving….”Yes, your ministry is important, and yes, Jacob’s situation is important, and yes, your separation from Tony is important. But the question is, can any of this be changed? Seems to me at this moment of this day that first, you are going to have to leave the ministry you’ve started but will therefore be placed with a new job pertaining to that – and that will be finding a way to continue without actually being there in person. Second, Jacob will one day know beyond a shadow of a doubt what real sacrifice is…when he is a parent and is faced with parental sacrifice for the good of his child, he will make the right decision because he saw you and Tony make the right decision even though it hurt your heart….’God’s way is not always my way, but I KNOW that His way is the best way, and it’s the way I would choose if I knew all that God knows.’ Praise the Lord for HIS OMNISCIENCE! He is all-wise, all-knowing, all-powerful, and ALL LOVE; therefore everything He does and allows is motivated by His Agape love – that love that is so deep, wise, and strong that we as human beings cannot even understand it!” I am so blessed to have such a wise and understanding mother. She has been so very supportive to me and my husband through every single step of this journey. She has loved Tony as her own and she has shared many wise words and encouragement to both of us. And she is SOOOO right. God gave our boys to us to raise up to be Godly young men who will make a difference for the kingdom of God one day themselves. We have always prayed fervently over the decisions we have had to make regarding their lives and their future. This time is no different. I will find a way to continue to be a part of the ministry there at Hope Center as well as be here to prepare our boys for their future. God is leading the way. He goes before us and leaves His footprints for us to follow.
We do appreciate your prayers and your support as we continue on in this journey. We will continue to include you by sharing pictures and stories of all of the many victories and miracles God performs through Tony and the visiting missionaries to Hope Center at Gallet Chambon, Ganthier, Haiti. We praise the Lord for His provision and His strength. He will see us though!!
Walking in His Steps,
Mickie West (and Tony, Jonathan, & Jacob)
Hello everyone! The reason it has been so long since my last blog is because the connection we have in Haiti is not strong enough or secure enough for me to be able to login to WordPress. I have been trying to get it worked out, but I just don’t have a whole lot of time to play with it. Because of this, I have had to wait until we make trips to the US to post. Fortunately, Facebook doesn’t have the security restrictions that WordPress has, so I have been able to update many of you with the posts I often put on Facebook to see what all we have going on. However, there are also many who do not use Facebook, so I am going to sort of recap some things here for those who have not seen everything I have been posting on Facebook. I have decided to do it week by week starting with the Park Place team in early September.
God has been doing many, many exciting things in our midsts at Hope Center in Ganthier, Haiti, over the last few weeks! I will go back to the beginning of September and recap many of the things that have happened as best I can.
On September 8, a team from Park Place Baptist Church in Pearl, MS, arrived at Hope Center. It always amazes and thrills me how God goes before us and knows what our needs will be long before we do. He has sent just the right people at just the right time over and over again, and this was again the case with the four men from Park Place. The game plan for this team was to do maintenance work around Hope Center in the mornings and VBS in the afternoons. In just one week, this team of men installed an automatic switch on the generator, installed a water filter for our entire water system, moved the light in the work shed to give the whole room better lighting, fixed a wiring problem in the mission house, installed several outlets in the breezeway, creating a charging station for not only tools but cell phones (this was one of the most popular things they did! Ha!), installed a ceiling fan and the dishwasher in Esther’s kitchen, and they loved on the children who recently moved into the houses on the hill in VBS every afternoon.
The generator switch was the most pressing need. Installing this would automatically convert us from city power to generator whenever the city power stops. This installation has already saved a significant amount of money on fuel costs because we are using the generators less and less. One cool thing that happened this week for me was seeing Jacob and Michael Gibbs work together to fix a wiring issue in the house. For several weeks, we were experiencing some shocking around a few outlets in our house. As a matter of fact, one wall in Jacob’s room had become so charged that he touched the wall one time and it knocked him down! Michael showed Jacob how to use a meter that checked the voltage in certain places in the house and they traced the source of the problem which was a pinched wire in an outlet in the master bedroom. Michael and Jacob fixed the problem, and then I had the privilege of watching the two of them pray and thank God for showing them the problem and allowing them to fix it safely. It was a beautiful sight seeing a Godly man take time to teach Jacob a skill that he will probably use other times in his life and then turn it into a praise moment as they gave the glory to God for their success. Michael’s obedience to God not only fixed a serious problem, but it allowed him to minister to my son in a very special way.
These four men worked so hard this week, and in the afternoon it became fun time as Jeff shared the gospel with the children in very creative ways and we played with all of the toys the men brought in recreation out in the courtyard. Each day the children would show up around 3:00 and Jacob and I would join Jeff in the courtyard for recreation. We would play frisbee, t-ball, soccer, jump rope (the jump ropes became microphones as the girls gave us concerts), and nerf football. After about 30 minutes of play, we would all go to the breezeway for Bible study. Each day, Jeff had a new story to tell the children. He started with creation and gave them a world sticker to remember that God created the heavens and the Earth. Then he gave them an apple silly band to remind them of the story of Adam and Eve and how sin entered the world. On the third day, he gave them a little kazoo after he told them about the birth of the long awaited messiah, Jesus, and how the angels rejoiced at his birth because Jesus was the son of God, born to become the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. On the fourth day, Jeff gave them a necklace that had a cross and beads that represented the gospel message. He recapped the message and told them about Jesus dying on the cross and defeating the grave as Savior of the world. On the last day, he gave them a little bottle of bubbles and showed them how when you blow on the stick, the bubbles don’t stay where they are. They float off in many directions carrying fun to others around them. This represents our job as Christians to tell others about Jesus. Once we know the good news of Jesus, we don’t need to just let it “sit around bottled up.” We need to let it spread around for others to hear and come to know and enjoy the good news as well. It was a simple message, but the kids got it! They LOVED the review time as Jeff asked them questions about the message the day before. They were eager to recount what they remembered and learned. What a blessing! They also LOVED song time. Jeff played the guitar and the kids sang songs like “Yes, Lord!” and “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High.” Still to this day the children ask me about when Jeff is coming back. He obviously made a great impression on our “Children on the Hill.”
Another big improvement the men from Park Place accomplished was installing Esther’s dishwasher and ceiling fan. The Great Bridge Team from Virginia had purchased Esther a dishwasher, but time ran out and we were not able to get it installed. The guys from Park Place not only installed it, but they hung a ceiling fan in the kitchen to help with some of the heat. A lot of work takes place in that room! These hard working teams must eat, and Esther makes sure that happens. Here is a picture of Esther beside her dishwasher in her kitchen. It is amazing how many things have happened here in just a few short weeks. It is because God sends teams specifically equipped for the work He wants done here. He not only wants to bless the people of the village of Gallet Chambon, but He wants to make the work of the teams here as productive as possible. The conveniences He has allowed to come here insure that each week is the most productive it can be. Thank you Lord for so many amazing blessings!
There were many, many praise moments we shared with these four precious men. We are so thankful that God not only called them to come bless our ministry, but He equipped each one specifically for the task He wanted accomplished in this particular week. He used them to fix problems, add conveniences, and minister to the people of not only our village but the village of Thoman as well.
As I look back on the things this team accomplished, I am overwhelmed with amazement as I recognize that God does go before us! He knows our needs and He is already preparing His people to be used by Him to meet those needs. When people recognize His call and they say, “Yes! I will go!” He takes care of the rest. If you believe that God is calling you to go, don’t wait to know the details. Just say yes and he will show you when it’s time. Sometimes He reveals that purpose months before you go, and sometimes He saves a little bit of information to reveal to you once you get there. Our God likes surprises too! Either way, when you go, God will show you the purpose He has for you, and I am sure that purpose will not only bless the people you share with, but it will bless you as well.
Again, we thank these four men for their obedience and we thank God for the purpose he had for each and every one of them!
I am trying a tool I found in WordPress that allows me to post by email. I am hoping this is going to solve my connection problems when I try to post updates while in Haiti. I may not be able to post pictures through this method though, but at least I can update our friends and family on our blog. Let’s see if this works