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)