Wow, we are sure going to miss them.

My Grandpa asked me last week “Stephen, how do you think the change in roles affected your time in Haiti these last 3 months?”

You see, when we arrived we weren’t sure if we would be teaching (like we had done in the past) or overseeing a classroom taught by DVDs, or if our main focus would be more on the discipleship/youth leaders/more-time-for-Mikey/technical skills training. Sure enough, that’s what our role was. We didn’t know how that would affect us, or the kids, but we had been praying that our roles could be more along these lines. We saw how valuable education was, but last fall when Anna’s hand got an infection that required us to fly out for surgery, we (and the mission) realized that the kids needed Haitians to oversee the Abeka Video School program so it could continue even when we could not be there.

We saw the great need for youth leaders to connect, disciple, and just do life with these 30 kids as they grow up. Anna wanted more time to be able to spend with Mikey. I wanted more time to teach the boys mechanics class. So it worked out.

As I look through the pictures on my phone I am reminded of all the fun times that we have had with these kids. So this next section is going to be an over view of my phone’s camera roll over the last 3 month.

I got to show Carl the Airliner that we fly on to come to Haiti, he was amazed at how many people just kept coming off of that thing!
Anna, Maria, and Jamesly knitting on the porch
Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 6.29.27 PM
My twin brothers were able to come and make some fun videos and really connect with the kids. They all continue to ask “when are Paul and Luke coming back?” (photo credit Paul and Luke)
Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 6.29.53 PM
My twin brothers were able to come and make some fun videos and really connect with the kids. They all continue to ask “when are Paul and Luke coming back?”                (photo credit Paul and Luke)
David, Anna, and Maria reading “The Chronicles of Narnia” picture book.
Teaching the kids spoons on fun nights (later we found out that they were playing spoons to gamble for each others crackers they get at recess. We are such great influences aren’t we? haha)
Soccer tournaments, starting out with the Haitian national anthem.
Egg sandwiches after the soccer game (because they played so hard for those 90 minutes)
Spending the night on the boy’s side of the orphanage
Going to the beach with all the kids, what a blast!
The beach wore some of them out completely 🙂
Seeing some of the boys take initiative to make a garden, and being faithful with it was encouraging to see! They are growing cucumbers, carrots, and sweet peppers.
This one reminds me of Alaska, except it was probably about 75 degrees that morning!
Dressing up Mikey in his “swag” and taking him to Naton (the fancy store in town)
Making model airplanes with Jamesly (I’m not sure who had more fun)
Taking apart model airplane motors and putting them back together to show them how they work.
Watching a movie under the fort we built in our living room.

When we would try and explain to the younger ones that we would be gone for 5 months over the summer so that Shaggy (that’s what they call me) can go to school to be a pilot they had a hard time understanding that. They would say “Ray and Bonnie always leave for one month, why will you be gone for 5 of those?” So you all know, Lord willing,  we plan to return back to Haiti this fall to continue working with these guys that we have grown to love.

On our last Saturday there, instead of having Bible study at our house we wanted to leave the oldest class of 8 with an idea for what they could continue to do for the summer when we are not there. We all met in their classroom and challenged them to do this every week until we come back in the fall. Pray for them to be faithful in this time. It was such a good time we had there that night, being serous and taking prayer seriously. (something that doesn’t always happen)

Prayer night in the classroom

So to answer my grandpa’s question I told him, “Well Grandpa, with these new roles we have really been able to grow deeper in our relationships with the kids. We are getting to know their individual personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and how to relate to them on their level better. And the hardest thing we are realizing is, wow, we are sure going to miss them.”


This Thing Called Hope

Just write for yourself. It’s what I tell myself, sitting on the couch on Sunday morning. I put my headphones in, attempting to block the sound of Haitian church and screaming singers. Just write for yourself..

And so, I do. Free from the weight of expectation or the fear of judgement, I spill myself onto the pages of a worn-out journal with blank ink. 

It is hard to know what to say and how to write an update. There is a part of it that I love.. almost really, need. Because it’s in the words scrawled on paper and the letters typed on keyboards where He meets me, again and again. He whispers the things He has been trying to tell my heart a thousand times.. but it’s here, away from the busy of the day, that I finally listen. Here, where I finally pause and let His words sink in.

I find my perspective renewed, my gaze reset. I find myself amazed at the goodness of the Lord and the works of His hands, here in this place. And I also find myself deeply convicted and ever-challenged to be more of Him, and less of me. 

Haiti is a country I struggle to put to words. There is a sort of beauty here, in this land where children run the trash-littered streets, laughing and happy. You see it on the hike up the mountain, as you climb above Limbe -with its noise and trash and smog- until your gaze falls upon mountain tops and growing pineapple plants and rusted tin roofs. It’s in the morning sky that turns shades of pink as the sun brings the heat of the day. The beauty, when you choose to find it, breathes hope.

But in all honesty, it is hard to see the beauty here. It does not come naturally; what comes naturally, is just the opposite. 

All around me are a hundred reasons not to hope. Hatred, anger, jealousy, pride, and selfishness surround the little life we live here 3 months at a time. And those same qualities sometimes enter that life more often than we would like to admit. Such displays of darkness are everywhere– both great and small. And it wearies a heart. 

I can see it on the streets, where men cat-call and people bicker loudly. I see it in the eyes of the half-starved elderly, who sit in the house near the market. I see it in my own classroom, where anger has such a deep hold, three-fourths of the class wouldn’t talk to us for nearly the entire week. And just when you wonder how there could be any more, you see a facebook newsfeed full of more mass shootings and news headlines and friend arguing against friend. Every day, the reasons to lose heart stack higher and higher.

Desperate, I look for somewhere to hope. Surely in the Bible class our kids are doing this year. Or maybe in the older generation of kids. In the boy with the snazzy wheelchair that makes him grin ear-to-ear, and in the way his legs bounce (actually bounce!) in his jolly-jumper. Or maybe in that one-tooth wonder, who always has a big grin and a warm and sticky hug for you. 

But I find that those things, in and of themselves, still disappoint.

On Sunday morning I scrawl the words of Isaiah 40 onto an index card… those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. I find myself overwhelmed by verses 25-31, pausing to remember Who my God is. I’m humbled, my eyes opened to the way I fail to lift my head to the One who brings out starry hosts and has no equal. 

Why do we so easily forget Who we belong to?

I pray the words of Isaiah 40 over and over, desperate for them to take root in my life. Teach me to hope in You. Show me what that looks like, in any season or any land. I want to know that life promised in Isaiah 40– the one where His people soar on wings like eagles, where they can run and not grow faint.

It’s been almost a week since that Sunday morning, and the corners of that little index card are just starting to turn up. I’m not quite sure how to get there, to that life of hope in Isaiah 40. Somehow I think it’s a work He has to do, in His own timing. But in the meantime, I’ll start here– in remembering Who He is, and what He has done. 


Season by Season

The words aren’t there. I’ve watched the pale morning skies turn their bright blue, deep golden sunshine on the cacao and labape trees outside. I pour a second cup of coffee, my body, heart, and soul feeling the way we have been here nearly 3 months. At least the coffee wakes me up physically. 

My Bible has a literal layer of dust on it. How can you claim anything, write anything, live anything, do anything.. when you don’t even open this Book once a day? Shame runs deep, and I know its voice well. There are tears in the coffee, because I am running on empty. My prayers hit the ceiling and bounce off the cement floors and go everywhere except where I need them to. Verses are highlighted, written on flash cards to be memorized, read again and again from the page.. but I can’t make them make sense in my heart, no matter what I do.

Disappointment weighs heavy in my heart because where are You when I need You most, and I know I need You, and I’m begging for You.. and You don’t come?

The kids finish their last week of school. Wildaneise has passed onto her 6 times tables. We stand in the doorway, looking at our class of 7 working away at their Subtraction with Regrouping worksheets, no one needing help anymore. As I check the papers, I hear Mayline’s voice reading a short story reader. She’s so lost in the words of the book that she does not notice the class empty out at 12:00. I smile for the way she sounds out words, the incredible progress she has made since the fall. 

Mikey has become almost too heavy for me to lift. He’s in his bed, laughing and then screaming, and then laughing again. The kids are all outside for singing group, so we steal precious moments on the living room floor. He pinches my cheeks, and it actually hurts now. His arms are strong, pushing my hands away when he’s mad with me. He can put up a fight, this stubborn child who does things in his own time. But I think he has learned that I am stubborn too 🙂 He has my heart forever entangled, and I think Stephen’s twice as much so. We have watched his tiny person emerge. And while his screaming can drive me absolutely mad, I hear him shriek and inside I whisper, “Yes.. find your voice..”

Sadrack knocks on the door. “Can you sell me two lollipops?” Somewhere along the way, we became the shop for lollipops, Cheeko’s and Twizzlers. The chalkboard sign on the door means nothing, as knocks come whether we are “Open” or “Closed”.

Bello can do his 6, 7, 8, and 9 times tables now. He tells me of the way he can do the math faster in school because it. Sadrack reads smoothly through the short story readers now, and has read every book on the shelf. Every afternoon at 1:30 they come, and every afternoon when they leave at 3 or 3:30, there is always a thank you, a smile, and a little more self-confidence behind their eyes.

I walked to Digicel twice yesterday, Stephen out with the team and us needing to buy another phone. Past the tin shacks selling crackers and candy, past the women calling for the “blanc to vin achtey” their bread loaves and fried street food, past the men who catcall and want to know if I am married (Abel has no shame, translating for me), through the mud puddles of streets, stepping in things I don’t want to know, walking along the side of the road where whizzing motorcycles and enormous trucks aren’t even an arm’s length away. We stop to hold baby Waldo along the way. I wonder who he will grow up to be, touching his tiny toes and silky soft hair.

My despair grows, because where in the world is the hope in all this? I remind myself (my emotional, feel-deep-or-don’t-feel-at-all self) that things are not always how they feel. 

We have watched God provide for our needs in the most unexpected ways. The check comes once a month, and sometimes it is more and sometimes it is less, but it is always what we need. When we find out Alaska will cost more than we anticipated, a message ‘just so happens’ to come later in the morning, asking for information on how to support us. When taxes looked overwhelming, one phone call later found us a place in Florida to help answer every complicated question we had. Nate even comes with coffee creamer the day my powdered kind has run out.

This is not a plea for support.

This is God, reminding me He has never once failed to meet our physical, financial needs. He provides in ways different than we might’ve imagined, but He’s never failed to provide.

And if I can do that for you physically, do you not think I am doing that in every sense of the way? Spiritually, emotionally, mentally? He whispers to my heart, reminding me He has not left us.

We learn to trust; things are not always as they appear, even when you feel empty inside. God provides different than we might sometimes hope, but He always provides.

So I let myself feel the sadness. I don’t deny the despair. I let the Bible sit open somedays, unopened other days. The words on the flash cards hold little meaning right now. This country does look hopeless. But these things, I’m learning, are okay. Because God is still providing somehow, in ways I cannot see right now, for whatever the reason.

And it is somehow okay. 


(We leave for Florida on Tuesday. Partly because of the visa situation, partly to get a little week-long break before being in for the month of April. So if you don’t hear from us for a while, we are enjoying paved roads, real coffee creamer, salads and red meat, and sleep 😉 

The Monotonous and the Mundane

I’ve been watching the spinning wheel load for 10 minutes now. Circling round and round, but going nowhere. What I’d give for a decent internet connection these days.. its spinning circle reminds me of a hamster on a wheel. And a lot of days I feel the same way- stuck in a hamster cage, running a wheel that goes nowhere.

Life is life; it’s hard to find new words for the same experiences. I told Stephen this morning.. “bored is the wrong word. It’s more like monotonous.” But I suppose, anywhere you go, anywhere you live.. life becomes monotonous, scheduled, ordinary. Ask the man who commutes to the office 5 days a week, week after week. Or the mom doing after school pick up, again; cooking supper, again. The college student studying from the same book in the same coffee shop for the same class.

My favorite routine lately has been little Sadrack coming up to read with me. Bello is coming up now too in the afternoons with him. Both boys are in the same class at the orphanage, and have a motivation and desire to learn. We’ve settled into a routine, the three of us. Bello made me laugh the other day when I sat down on the couch to read with them and said, “Hey, where’s your coffee man?” Haha! 2 o’clock reading time is also my 2 o’clock pick-me-up, and even the boys know that now. In addition to reading, we’ve been studying multiplication facts. And then, when all is said and done, we play a round of Memory (I’ve yet to win a single game. Hah).

In school we’ve started learning about the continents. The kids are so funny when we point out Haiti on the map. “What?! But it’s so small!” is almost always their first remark. They have a fascination with China and Antarctica, not totally sure why.. They really love the geography though, so we are running with that in school. We started learning the continents and oceans, and now have moved onto studying North America.

Shaggy is teaching some of the boys how to ride the dirt bike in the afternoons. The process is slightly terrifying to watch, so I don’t usually stick around for long. But the boys are having fun with it, and no one has died yet, so I’d call it a success. Even a few of the girls are learning to drive it too. Female drivers are a bit more uncommon here, so it’s been neat to see some of the girls give it a go. Keeping the oldest kid’s classroom going also has been keeping him pretty busy. He has the kids come help grade papers now. Not only has it been a huge help, but the time spent together has been encouraging for Stephen, and the kids.
It’s hard to know how to write about it all. One minute our hearts are full, excited about little steps of progress we are seeing or hopeful for the ways God is working here. And the next minute, the taste of discouragement is bitter and strong. But we continue on (admitedly, sometimes not with the greatest of attitudes) and remember that labor for the Lord is never in vain. God works His own ways in His own times. It’s a truth we cling to, especially on days where we feel like our efforts are going nowhere.

God gives the little moments, not always when we think we need it, but faithful nonetheless.. the teenagers coming up for a study group, Mikey’s laughter ringing loud as he plays on our living room floor, looking back over the kids’ work and their progress, the random questions a child will come ask you that make you realize they’ve been thinking about things.. It’s a continual process of laying down our own expectations, and letting God do what He wants with it all.

We are always grateful for your continual support- for your encouragement and your prayers. Without a doubt, it is your prayers that keep us going. And we are grateful.  


A Day In the Life

It’s the fifth time I’ve tried to sit down and write this post. 

Life has been busy.

Some days, I ache to find words I do not have. Other days, just as the words come, there is a knock on the door, or the clock strikes a certain hour and it is time to go. And at other times, I’m afraid of the words that would come if I sat for too long. 

Music has been blaring in the next-door soccer field since 3 o’clock this afternoon. Literally 5 hours and counting of blasting loud Creole music with a slightly obnoxious drum beat. It sounds like the same song on repeat. I just found a dead cockroach underneath the couch I’m now sitting on. The shower has left me feeling clean- a feeling I’m thankful for after being covered in sweat and dirt and who-knows-what-else all day. The sound of the fan helps drown out some of the music. My good ole “Shaggy” (the kid’s nickname for Stephen) sits at the kitchen table grading yesterday’s quizzes. 

It’s been a busy few weeks. 3 weeks of school beneath our belts, 2 teams, and 1 stomach bug later, I’d say we are into the ‘swing of things’ here in Limbe. This week in school we are working on contractions (you + are = you’re). And I am praying one of these days we will make it past subtraction with regrouping (please, Jesus, please). School is a continuous up and down ride- the child who doesn’t want to listen one day is a grade A student the next, but yesterday’s grade A student then decides it’s their turn to make your morning miserable.. and on and on the game goes. But we are learning to roll with the tides, to Quit Taking It Personally, and to recognize what the struggle is really about (because it’s really never again the flesh and blood).

Stephen has taken on the role of being the teacher/supervisor/grader/test-giver for the oldest classroom at the orphanage. They started a new virtual school program last month, and needed someone to keep track of tests and scores, and just keep tabs on how things are going. We sat on the kitchen floor this morning, tearing out georgraphy tests from the booklets.”So did you ever imagine yourself doing this?” I asked Stephen. He just laughed. But now he sits at the kitchen table, with a stack of answer keys and pile of papers, furrowed eyebrows and pen and all.

Since being back, I have found myself asking the Lord again and again, “Is there really any chance that a lasting impact can be made here?” I struggle with my own cynicism, quick to judge or point out the hundred reasons why cerain ideas or dreams would never, ever work here. It has been a struggle to view the world I see realistically, yet not belittle the power of my God. It’s a balance I’m not quite sure I will ever get a handle on. Some days I feel overly optimistic, and other days I’ve become such a pessimist I hardly recognize my own self. 

My prayer through it all has been that God would instill His heart into mine. That I would see with His eyes, and hear with His ears. And in certain moments, what He has laid upon my heart is simply this.. it’s not the people or the culture. What you hate is the evil at work within the people, throughout the culture. 

And I pray He continues to remind me of that, especially in the moments I forget it..

Mikey continues to be my little sweetheart, and dare I say has even gained some weight lately? Every time I put him in the bouncer in our apartment, the spring seems one step closer to bottoming out. He’s a little rascal, that boy. Eating macaroni noodles for me one minute, and the next spitting them out all over. But he’s got a killer of a smile and a tickle spot that simply melts my heart. 

The girls favorite afternoon activity has been knitting. I ordered in a kids knitting book, full of projects and beginner techniques and stitches to learn. They’re working on washcloths right now. Finding the time and energy to sit and fix mistakes and explain things proves difficult. There is never enough time.

Sadrack (one of the orphanage boys) comes up every afternoon at 1:302:00, 2:30, whenever I finally go to find him. First thing I am buying when we get to Florida in March is a watch for that little boy. Haha. So many afternoons I call him my saving grace. He comes up and practices reading with me (pretty sure I can recite all the words to “Little Critters: Just Helping My Dad”). Tigers, sharks, whales, and lions are little Sadrack’s obsession. So we end up reading about animals, and watching short youtube videos about lions vs tigers until the power goes out, taking the Internet with it.

And on that note of losing power and internet, Stephen has gone to switch the generators. Which means now is probably a good time to post this and sign off, before I’m rewriting this blogpost for the 6th time.


The music in the soccer field is going on over 6 hours here. But at this point, who’s even counting? 

The Bittersweet of Being Back

There’s a motorcycle rumbling outside. We woke to the familar sounds of Mondazi shouting from his room in the nursing home down below. Stephen stands at the counter, cooking eggs for breakfast.  The coffee is too hot to drink still. There are sunshine-y blue skies in Limbe, Haiti today. 

We’ve been back for 2 weeks. I have to do a doubletake at the calendar and count the days to be sure. January 6th -with its holiday embargo, last-minute flight booking, and visa hassle- seems like forever ago. In that time we’ve got a week of school under our belt, acquired nearly a dozen mosquito bites, cleaned the layer of dust from our apartment, Stephen caught a cold and a nasty stomach bug, helped unload the mission’s container that came full of supplies for the next year, been climbed on, hugged, and high-fived by the kids dozens of times, and have gone just crazy enough to be able to survive here for the next 3 months. 

Life has been so busy, but when is it ever not, right? Stephen took his instrument written test the day before our flights for Haiti left, and passed with flying colors. He spent hours upon hours studying while we were in Chicago, sitting at the little dresser with the laptop for days on end. But all his hardworking and time investment paid off 🙂 It made for a stressful time out, with everything we were trying to crunch into our schedules. But when we are in Alaska in May (and even now) we will be thankful for the timing of it all.

Now we are here. Where spiders live under the oven and cockroaches inside the kitchen drawers. Back to where there are so many children who are always wanting, wanting, wanting.. and you can only do so much. Here with school days and lesson planning and sticker reward charts (we brought back a Sam’s Club sized box of Airheads. Because, let’s get real, who can’t be bribed with a little bit of candy? Haha). Here with a new bouncer for Mikey and fun short story readers for the kids. Back to where the showers are so cold my nightly ritual of 100 jumping jacks doesn’t help ease the chill. 

I didn’t want to come back. Our time out was so nice, so almost-normal.. with clean floors, a culture we understood, family closeby, and lets not forget real creamer for the coffee every morning. I knew what we were coming back to. And while I packed our bags and ran errands, I found my heart saying, “God, make another way..” 

This place is not easy.. but it runs deeper than the roads that are mainly potholes, or the mosquitos and rats and cockroaches, or the lack of order and peace and normalcy. This place will suck every ounce of hope in your bones, if your hope is not founded and grounded in Christ, and Christ alone. You will look -at the chaos, at the tin shacks and barefooted children, at the cruelty to pick on the littlest and weakest, and the backwardness that is life here.. and you will wonder why? How can I even…? What can we possibly do..? 

But God, ever faithful, will speak His peace. In those moments unexpected. You will see Sadrack giving the old man a ride back to the nursing home on his bicycle. Mikey will laugh and laugh as you carry him up the stairs to the apartment. There are knocks on the door, shoes at the entry way, and little boys who sit and laugh and pour over books about sharks and bones and “Pete the Cat”. Maria, who comes upstairs to learn to knit, and talks of unicycle riding, school, and asks questions of “Why does God… this.” And “Why did God…. that.” 

And as close as the dirt sticks to your feet and the noise is constantly surrounding you.. so is He. And He will remind you.. of the way He hasn’t called you to be anything. Not a change-maker, not a fixer, not anything. He has called you only to be willing. The rest is always, only, Him. 

To be back is conflicting. And it takes a bit of adjustment, but I’d say we are getting there 🙂 It’s bittersweet.. but isn’t it always? 

As always, we are thankful for the love, the encouragement, and the support so many of you have shown us.. through your emails, your get-togethers when we were in the States, your giving of finances or supplies or time, and most importantly, your prayers. It is priceless, and it keeps us going day after day.


Raindrops and Grace

Haiti’s gray skies promise nothing but more rain. For four days the rain has been constant. A rushing downpour like we’ve never experienced before. The yard is flooded. The ground is a slick mud pile. Our ears have been deafened by the sound of rain on tin. The kids are wrapped in sweaters to stay warm and garbage bags to stay dry. Jacquelyn’s plantain garden out back is flooded.

How do you put to words what a torrential downpour does to a country that lives most of its days outside?

The streets are dirt when it’s dry, and mud when it rains. The outside market -with its vegetables and fruits that lay on tarps spread across the ground, all cramped together with barely enough space to walk between the vendors- is a swamp. Homes are constructed of tin and scrap metal. Every roof leaks. Garbage clogs the sewers and drainage system. 

Life has been a mucky, sticky, soaking wet mess. Yesterday the sun came out for a bit, the water dried up some, and we ran around the front yard playing tag and hide-and-go-seek. It was a much needed day of sunlight and fresh air, and we were so thankful (and so ready) for it. 

Now the sun has disappeared, and the rain continues to fall.

The kids have been sick with a fever since the weekend. Every morning there’s a new face Bonnie is giving medicine to, or a different body sleeping on their couch. Ray caught it on Monday. Lou followed close behind, catching sick on Tuesday. It’s a nasty bug- complete with a fever and a cough and an ache-y body. Stephen and I are just praying that, if we are going to catch it, it happens before we have to travel back to the States. Plane rides and head colds are a miserable combination. 

We find it hard to believe the days are winding down here. In some ways, we feel as though we are just finding ‘our way’. We’ve begun to feel like we’ve established somewhat of a routine and a schedule. We’ve got a better handle on school, and the kids have been getting used to the way we do things. We’re moved into the new apartment and have drawers and cabinets organized. It seems a shame to be leaving. Yet on the other hand, we are ready for normalcy. We are looking forward to the 14 hour roadtrip to Colorado, with smooth roads and coffee breaks. A hot shower sounds incredible. The chance to be a normal newlywed couple out for a date night will be a breath of fresh air. 

We are excited to see family and friends, to tell our stories and hear other’s stories. We are also excited to take a break from being “Hannah and Shaggy”, and to find time to be us for a while.. without 1/2 a dozen children tagging along behind us. Haha. But then Mikey giggles on his mats in the kitchen, and Carl tries so hard in school, and the girls have finished their first knitting projects. And we wish we had just a little bit more time..

On Tuesday afternoon, I sat in the bedroom working on some of the bits of this blogpost. On the other side of the door in the kitchen were Shaggy and Carl. Earlier they had been thumping around in the eaves mopping up puddles of water, now they were finished, and eating cake at the kitchen table. I listened to Carl’s question after question, changing from bicycles to life to spiritual questions. Every Tuesday afternoon is another boy at our kitchen table, another set of questions, and another testimony of what God has done. (Stephen has been doing a bible study with the boys once a week, and part of that study has been getting them to share their testimony with the group). There are always questions that come up at the most unexpected times.. “Hannah, does Shaggy have another girlfriend?” is one we hear often. “Did you make Hannah take a blood test before you got married?” was one that blindsided Stephen a bit more, in the bike depot surrounded by tires and bike parts. “Are you gonna take another boy besides Shaggy oneday?” The questions go on and on.

The questions remind us we don’t know why we are here or how God is using us. Because you can think you’ve come so they can read better and solve math problems. You think you’ve come to do a bible study and teach boys to fix bicycles and maybe ride the dirt bike. You think you’ve come to make the boy in the pac’n’play giggle and engage this beautiful world around him. But the unexpected questions in the unexpected moments remind us God has us here for His purposes, being mere tools and instruments in His hands, for whatever ways He deems fit. And we may never fully know what those ways are. We only are faithful to Him. 

Those words are easier to type than they are to live out.

Downstairs below us in the senior home, Mondezi shouts. 6:30 shower time, right on schedule. Today promises another day of multiplication bingo, spelling tests, and 1/2 a dozen energetic children climbing all over us. It’s funny the things that begin to seem normal. I’m exhausted already.. to think of the battle over pencils, the relentless teasing among the kids, and the arguing that seems to take place in the classroom. God really does give only enough grace for the moment you need it, and not a second before. 


A Rainy Sunday Update 

Haiti’s Sunday brings rain. Droplets form on the edges of the tin roof overhang outside the kitchen window. The leaves of the labape tree are coated with the moisture. It seems the buzzing fans cannot keep away the humidity today. The air is heavy with it. There’s a rooster crowing in the near-distance and the chitter-chat of the grandmounyo speaking Creole down below. 
Within the last 10 days we’ve moved to a new apartment on the compound. Ray and Lou have been hard at work since we got here in September to fix this place with plumbing and doors and all the essentials. Almost 2 weeks ago we were able to move in! All the kids joined in on the crazy commotion, helping us load storage bins and duffels, then driving the four wheeler across the compound and carrying everything upstairs with us. It was quite the commotion, but with the crazy also came the kids’ fun excitement and their sweet willingness to help.

We find ourselves so thankful for Lou and Ray’s hard work. And for the space… for the AC unit in our bedroom window that helps us sleep at night.. For the table in the kitchen, strewn with books and pens and writings. For the kitchen space to unpack our canned goods.. for a bathroom shower we can use without having to wear flip flops.. for the little bit of peace we can find here in the midst of a crazy culture. A clean, organized kitchen also makes Stephen a happy man because it means his wife will cook more often. Haha.

Yesterday we had an all-out water gun fight with the kids. We’ve been promising the kids for a week now that we would have a big water gun fight. Last Sunday, the day we were supposed to do it, we had rain all day. And the next day. And the next day. And every day, there were Jamesly, Jahntzy, and Jenni at our heels the moment we walked out our front door. “We gonna do the water guns today?” Finally we had a hot and sunny day yesterday, so we filled buckets with water, handed out the guns, and soaked each other silly. 

Last Sunday was our 6 month wedding anniversary. Like all newlyweds, we celebrated by sleeping in until 7:30, eating rice, rice, and more rice, hanging curtains for 2 hours, and watching a movie on the big projector screen with the kids. Haha. As we made plans to pursue Haiti and overseas missions, we knew it would not be easy, especially being so newly married. But a month and a half into Haiti and 6 months into marriage, we find ourselves thankful for where God has us, for the ways the experience has grown us individually and together, and for the way His grace has carried us. The future is riddled with so many questions and uncertainties, but God gives us today, and we are learning to be in just this moment now.

The team that is here from Nebraska has been a huge help in staining and sealing our cement floors. Stephen tends to wear flip flops around the house no matter what, but this bare-feet lover is especially excited to be able to walk around without shoes on again. The team also brought us in some crispy apples, which was an unexpected surprise! Sometimes it truly is the little things.. 

We are taking the week off from school. I’m not sure who’s more excited for the break, us or the kids. Haha. With the team in and with our own sanity levels, we decided it would be good timing for a week off. I’m hoping to be able to work one-on-one with some of the kids this week. Something it seems like there is never time for here. I think Stephen will be dragged off to the depot to fix bicycles. When it isn’t so chaotic that he is pulling his hair out, Stephen likes working with the boys and helping teach them how things work.

All in all, life is good here in Limbe. It has its frustrations no doubt, and its worries and situations that seem overwhelming. But it is good. God continues to be faithful in the biggest and littlest ways. We are thankful for the way God has led us here, and the way He ultimately has given us His love and grace to be His light here. There is immense peace in knowing we are His vessels- He continues to be the Provider, the Sustainer, and the One who is before all things and in all things and holds all things together.

Also the 3 cups of coffee don’t hurt 😉 


The Beauty and Why it Matters

The alarm goes off all too soon. It’s another morning where the coffee isn’t strong enough. Seems like there are a lot of those kinds of mornings here. I choose to ignore the ants in the sugar, stirring a spoonful into my coffee. Added protein. We play our regular morning game of “so what did the rat get into last night?” Milk powder, flour, potatoes, crackers.. We add coffee filters to the ever-growing list, following the papery traces to the hole in the cabinet where they scurry to and from.

So starts another morning in Haiti.

Many times I’ve said “No more.. I’m done.” I look at the sheer need- the faces hiding behind crumbling cement homes, the disabled boy in the park, the fragile frame of the elderly woman, the men who catcall, the 34 children in the orphanage downstairs, a country plagued with deceit and darkness, the 7 little lives just in our classroom. And my usual hope-determined soul has spent the last month broken at the feet of the Lord, crying for the way it’s all futile.  

But God continues to whisper, “Not yet.. I am not done just yet.” 

So we stand up, again. For another day of school. For another round of smashed avocados and peanut butter oatmeal. For another afternoon of fixing and refixing bicycles. For another cold shower and slice of peanut butter toast. Each night I fall to sleep saying “No more, God.” And each sunrise comes sweet with His mercy and grace, beckoning. “Stand again, for I am not done yet.” 

Here is the part where the story should change, where Light breaks through and Love proves stronger; the people change, the corruption and deceit are no more, and fruit for the labor is plentiful. But the boy still stands in the park, fatherless homes still crumble, and now southern Haiti is devastated by a hurricane. I sit, asking Him to tell me once again, of the power and the love and the beauty. I ask, waiting to see a love that never fails, a compassion that does not end, and a mercy everlasting. I sit and I ask, until I remember why it matters.

How does one paint an adequate picture of life here? We struggle, unable to relay all the life brings here- both the hope and the despair, the discouragement and the joy. And the way it all walks hand in hand. So many writings have been left unfinished, for the fear of sounding falsely optimistic or overly discouraged. 

There’s Carl’s proud smile over his freshly painted bicycle. Mayline pouring over math papers, bound and determined to push through until she finishes every problem. There’s David running the compound bare-bummed with mischief in his eyes and spunk in his soul. Uno games that echo loud in the orphanage. Mikey’s giggles that show up in unexpected moments. Everything, laced with the frustration and the joy and the discouragement and the hope. A mess that can never be straightened, but the way He makes it beautiful. And, whether we get to see it or not, the way He makes it matter.

Each morning we stand, again and again. And each morning we give Him our day, again and again. Knowing the greatest and only thing we can do here is done when we are on our knees. Knowing on our knees is where He makes it all beautiful. And on our knees is where He makes it all matter.


This Life We Live (in photos)

David and Joshua, enjoying mangos fresh from the backyard.
Anna and Mikey
Sunday afternoon entertainment: Stephen giving motorbike rides to the kids
Sunday afternoon trek up the mountain.
View from the top of the mountain
Stephen and Joshua enjoying the Haitian football (soccer) game
Sunday’s soccer game.. almost exactly like America.


Just riding around..
School reading time.
Fixing bicycles with Carl.