I have been working on this post for two weeks now. It has been extremely difficult to write it just because I am writing about our time together as a family in Haiti over spring break and I just didn’t want it to end! I think I will start with a recap…. It has been a difficult year and yet it has been a glorious year as well. To think, this time last year we had just returned from Spring Break in Haiti with a team from Petal, and we were making plans to move to Haiti to serve full time. Now, a year later, we have sold a house, two vehicles, all of our furniture and most of our belongings, moved to Haiti; opened the medical clinic full time; opened the dental clinic (Tony learned to pull teeth); finished the orphanage; began making our house a home by painting walls and building cabinets; raised money for scholarships for over 200 children in our village; built over 20 houses and moved 18 families out of a tent city and into those houses; hosted many, many teams that have come from the states to serve in VBS, construction, medical and dental clinics, evangelism, and discipleship; taken mobile clinics to remote parts of Haiti; hired a Haitian pastor and countless other Haitians who for the first time have steady income for their families; seen over 150 people come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior; and now we are about to begin having services in our new church. Of course, this is not a complete list either! If I listed out everything, it would take forever to list and forever for you to read, so I have mainly hit the high points. In the midst of all of this, our family was faced with a difficult decision to sacrifice time together as a family in order to give our youngest son an opportunity to finish school in the states. It changed the dynamic of our experience dramatically, but God has assured us over and over again that we made the right choice and that He has the whole plan under control. This decision, however, has required more faith and trust in God than even our first decision to sell everything and move! We have had to trust that God would provide us a place to live while here in the states; trust that He would provide support that would cover the increased cost of living in two different countries for a period of time; trust that He would sustain us while being separated by so many miles and missing out on precious moments that we would prefer to enjoy together as a family. But God does sustain us, and He has provided in ways beyond our imagination, and for that we are so thankful. It is so hard…but it could be a lot worse, and we are thankful for what we have and how God has blessed in so many ways along the way. Now to Spring Break… Before we all arrived in Haiti as a family, the Lord made a way for us to be able to do some things together in the states as well. The week before spring break, we were invited to Briarwood Presbyterian church in Birmingham, AL, for a missions conference. God blessed us beyond our wildest dreams by introducing us to so many new friends and giving us many opportunities to visit with other missionaries and share the story of our mission to Haiti to countless people in Birmingham. We are so thankful for the new friendships we made during our time there!
At the end of the week, Tony went to Brandon to get Jacob and take him down to Dallas for a soccer showcase, and Jonathan and Katelyn came to Birmingham to finish the week with me and catch our flight to Haiti for Spring Break. I am so thankful that Tony could take Jacob down to Dallas and watch him play soccer. It is hard for me not being in Haiti, but I know it is also very hard for Tony not being able to see Jacob play sports. It is a sacrifice we have both committed to, but it is not easy by any means. We are thankful for chances to be able to to do these things that we used to take for granted before our call. At the end of the weekend, Tony and Jacob caught a flight from Dallas, and Jonathan, Katelyn, and I caught a flight from Birmingham, and we all met in Miami for our flights to Haiti together. When we arrived in Haiti, the team from Grace Chapel in Madison was already there. As always, God had already planned to have the perfect group at Hope Center for such a time as this. The team was a group of young people all around Jacob’s age that worked on construction and VBS with children on the Hill. Jacob had planned to go to Leoganne and join up with a group from Crossgates that was serving at an orphanage there, but after getting to Hope Center and getting to know this group of teens, he decided to just stay home and serve with them instead. I was actually glad it worked out this way because our family was together all week instead of separated once again. We enjoyed working with the team on a few things, but we also enjoyed just being “home” together as a family during this time as well.
We gave out lots of hugs and Easter suckers to the kids, and we enjoyed just walking around in the village and visiting with friends that we enjoy catching up with when we return to Haiti. We got to celebrate with the families on the Hill as they experienced electricity at their houses for the first time. We got to see great progress in the construction of the church at Hope Center which has made us look forward even more to worshipping with our Haitian brothers and sisters this summer. There was one really cool moment in clinic during the week that I wanted to mention. On Thursday, Tony sent for me to come down to the clinic to meet someone. Sitting there in the chair next to Tony was this precious elderly man. Tony introduced me to him and explained that this is the man who walks 8 hours every two weeks to come have his blood sugar levels checked and refill his prescription. He lives up in the mountain area. After kissing my hand, he immediately started trying to tell me something. Vladimir interpreted and I learned that this is the man who is responsible for initiating God’s vision for Hope Center and calling us to Haiti in the first place. He said, “I am the one who went to the mayor and explained that we need to partner with someone in the US to build a clinic here.” He is such a precious man!!
Another precious moment was when Tony showed up in the house in the middle of the morning with this sweet baby in his arms. She is 3 months old but she looks like she is 3 weeks old! Her mother brought her into the clinic a few weeks prior and Tony was not sure if the baby would survive. She was severely malnourished and very sick. Tony prayed for the baby with the mother and asked God to give him the wisdom to prescribe the right treatment and for God to give health to this baby. God has answered his prayer! The baby is healthy and growing! Hallelujah!
At the end of our week together, we all went up to Thoman to go to Mathurin’s church. Jonathan and Katelyn sang and Bicly joined us for church and dinner. On the way back down the mountain, we all stopped to take in the beauty of God’s creation and take pictures. It was a PERFECT week, and we are so very thankful for the time we had to spend together!
We thank you all so much for your continued prayer support as we seek to find a balance between serving in Haiti and supporting our boys as well. God is teaching us so much about our faith and perseverance at this time. As I studied the book of Hebrews this morning, God reminded me that the picture of our life doesn’t always look the way we thought it would look, but that doesn’t make it an imperfect picture. God’s plan IS perfect, and if we just trust Him and remain faithful to Him, He WILL bless us and reveal to us the perfection of His plan eventually. So many of the heroes of the Bible endured great hardship. They trusted God and He brought about so many mighty things for many years to come through the perseverance of His faithful servants. I want to be a faithful servant in both the work He has called us to as well as the role He has given us as parents. In both He is creating a legacy of faith that will endure long after we are gone. That is His perfect plan, and we are honored and committed to that work. HE is faithful to complete that good work through us, and no matter how hard it is sometimes, we will never give up on His great plan for our lives.