Today ends a year-long journey and begins a new one for our family. It is a gift from God that we have prayed earnestly for. We have been blessed with countless prayer partners who have been on this journey with us – too many to name. You know who you are if you have been praying with us about our situation. Just to recount, here’s our story…
When Tony and I answered the call to become full time missionaries in Haiti, our boys were fifteen and twenty. Jonathan was about to enter college, and Jacob was about to be a junior in high school. The night we shared our call with them, they didn’t seem shocked. They didn’t question God. They didn’t complain. They simply asked, “Cool, when do we go?” Jonathan and Jacob have always trusted God’s call on our lives and have patiently and faithfully walked with us as a family the whole way. They have blessed our hearts as they have trusted the Lord’s guidance for our family every step of the way. It has not been easy for either of them. We were and still are a close-knit family. We always did so many fun things together. We moved to Haiti together. Jonathan began moving our things here the day before we arrived, and Jacob moved with us on August 2nd, 2012. After that, Jonathan returned to college, and after a few months, we decided that I (Mickie) would take Jacob back to finish high school.
When Jacob and I returned to the states, we had nowhere to live because we had sold our house. Over the course of the next two years, Jacob and I lived out of boxes and suitcases. We would stay in mission houses when we could; we stayed on a houseboat twice, a cabin in the woods twice, and several guest rooms and guest houses of generous friends who let us stay for a while. We moved approximately 20 times in 24 months. Jacob never complained. He and I just prayed for God to provide, and when the time came to move, he helped me pack up and we moved. It was really hard, but we trusted in God and he would always provide.
Jacob eventually graduated high school, went to college, joined the Army National Guard, and kept moving to wherever God provided housing. After almost 5 years of moving over and over again, Jacob finally shared with us that he had become weary. He had lost so many things moving around and was tired of storing all of his belongings in a mini-storage. He had grown weary of not having a home. We thought we could make Haiti “home” for him, but he couldn’t just come here and visit on the weekend or take off time from work or school whenever he wanted to come home. He was always a guest in someone else’s place, and he felt alone. Our hearts broke for him and his situation, but we struggled with what to do about it. We began to pray about the possibility of buying a house in the states, but we were not sure if we could justify using our support funds to pay for a house we only lived in “sometimes.” ….but we desperately wanted a place that Jacob could call home, a constant place where we could stay when we were in the states, a place our grandson, Emerson, could come to recognize as Minnie & Papa’s house, and where we would enjoy making memories with all of our family when we were visiting. So we prayed….
In February, 2017, I was invited to attend the Briarwood Presbyterian Missions Conference. While there, God led me to seek counsel with a Christian counselor who was a former missionary. He offered his services for free to the missionaries there at the conference. After sharing my heart with him and using ALL of his kleenex, he proceeded to explain to me that it is okay to want to provide for our family in this way. I told him that I felt like the people who support us send support to help us do what we do in HAITI, not provide housing in the US. We just didn’t feel like we could seek support for that. He explained that the people God leads to support us want us to be all in and completely focused on our mission and free, emotionally and spiritually, to minister to the people God called us to minister to. If we are so torn by family needs, we can’t fully focus on the ministry God called us to. He said it’s natural to want to provide for your family and you should! He said, “Mickie, as much as you love Haiti and the people of Haiti, Haiti will never be your home. You are American. Your family is in America. You return to America to seek rest and reunion with your loved ones….and that’s okay! It doesn’t mean you aren’t ‘all-in’ or completely committed to God’s call. I think you have proven that very well. You still must care for and provide for your family.” I cannot tell you how relieved I was to hear these wise words. My heart just melted and my body wanted to collapse in relief to hear that our desire wasn’t a selfish desire. I went straight out and called Jacob, and we cried on the phone for an hour. This mama’s heart was filled, and as I shared the experience over the phone with Tony, we prayed together that God would provide and lead us to the right house. We would be patient and look.
Three weeks later, another church asked me to come speak to their church during their missions emphasis week. Before I went before the church, their pastor explained to me that their church already knew about BGM, and they already knew about Hope Center. They wanted to hear about our PERSONAL needs. My heart convulsed in fear. Could I REALLY share our very personal need for a house with this church? I told the pastor about what we were praying for and he said, “That’s EXACTLY what I want you to tell us about.” I trembled at the thought. I had no doubt that I would pour tears as I spoke the words publicly for the first time. The church listened to our story, comforted me in my brokenness, and blessed us with a financial gift that would allow us to take the first step towards purchasing a house. This was clear confirmation from God that HE was in this, and HE would provide.
Over the course of the next year, Tony & I began looking at houses online. Jacob would help us look too. We searched Zillow and Houses.com and other sites. When we were in the states, we would go look at houses on our list and take notes. We made offers on two houses, but the doors closed, so we kept looking. Finally, one year after God began to grow the idea in our hearts for a house, He led Tony and me to this house in Florence, MS.
On the day we went to look at it, we had Emerson with us. As soon as he got out of the car, he ran to the play set and began to play. When we went inside, he ran and played as if he were right at home. He loved it, and so did we. We were only there about 30 minutes. We didn’t test anything out or inspect anything closely. It just felt right, so we began the process of making an offer. After we made the offer, we discovered one glitch. FEMA had made an incorrect flood zone ruling on the property that would require us to get flood insurance temporarily until the ruling could be reversed. There would be no way to know how long that would take. This would increase our house payment by $200 per month which was way more than we needed to pay. So we prayed, “God please push FEMA to reverse the ruling soon!” We prayed and waited and moved forward in faith with the closing process.
We knew we would be returning to the US in March for deployment meetings for Jacob, so we tried to push for closing on the house during the same visit to the US. We would be in the US for ten days, and the first closing date we set was for March 13th. On the morning of the 13th, we rented a moving truck to go to Hattiesburg to get all of our furniture out of the house that we had rented for Jacob while going to USM last semester. They had allowed us to keep his furniture there until we found a house. Some sweet friends from FBC Madison joined us and we loaded everything up. As we were putting the last things onto the truck, I received a call from the mortgage company. They were having difficulty establishing our proof of residency for an FHA loan because we spend so much time in Haiti. We headed on to Florence, but it was looking like we would not close that afternoon. We drove up to the house, parked the truck in the driveway, and met with the selling agent and our buyers agent to figure out what to do. The seller’s agent called the seller and explained the situation and they agreed to let us go ahead and move all of our belongings into the house even though we would not be closing that afternoon. Wow – BUT GOD!
Over the course of the next week, we got settled into the house and immediately began making memories in a house that did not belong to us, but we IN FAITH claimed as the house God led us to, and by grace the owners believed with us. We ran into hurdle after hurdle that delayed closing time and time again. It was so stressful, but we realized that God was not CLOSING the door; He was simply DELAYING it. The enemy tried to discourage us with these hurdles, but we held onto our faith that this was God’s plan. One evening we were talking with some friends and I said, “Wouldn’t it be something if God was allowing closing to delay so that the FEMA ruling would have time to come in?” Sure enough, about a week later, the FEMA ruling was reversed and closing was moving right along smoothly!!
Tony and I both had to return to Haiti to host a team, so we asked our missions pastor, Scott Ross, to be our Power of Attorney and sign papers for us at closing. He graciously agreed, and yesterday, on Good Friday, we met via FaceTime with the sellers, our agents, closing attorney, and Scott, and we closed on the house! We’ve already made some precious, precious memories with our children and grand baby there and we look forward to many more made in the future. God has blessed us in such a special way by sending us so many prayer warriors all over the world who have prayed with us over this. He has raised up support to help us be able to afford to make the payments and pay utilities. He has provided friends who will watch over it while we are gone and who will even help us with some needed upgrades and minor “fixes” that are needed. He has provided furniture and many other things needed to make this house a home. God has provided every single need and for this we are shouting His praises from the mountaintops!! …..Literally. From the mountains of Haiti to the quiet community of Florence, MS, we are praising God for his provision and grace, patience, and strength to get us to this point in our journey. No more searching for a place to stay when we visit our family. No more wondering where our son will live. No more digging in the mini-storage for clothes to wear or hunting gear during hunting season.
Of course, we didn’t have time to move everything out of mini-storage before we left for Haiti, but we are looking forward to the day that we can close that door one last time and know that what little we did keep when we moved to Haiti has its place in our new home. Now we can be “home” no matter where HOME is – whether is Hope Center in Haiti, or Minnie & Papa’s house in Florence.
Thank you Jesus!! And thank you to every single person God has placed on this journey with us! May God bless you for your faithfulness as He has used so many of you to bless us in so many ways. We are overwhelmed…..