setting our eyes (the little victories)

“The days in Haiti drag on for an eternity, but the weeks go by so fast..” is what she told me one evening as we stood beneath the tin roof– mosquitos, dogs, and kids biting our ankles. And it remains so true. A week can hold so much it feels as if you’ve lived a lifetime. 
Trying to convey, in writing, what all happens in a day proves to be a challenging task. Each day holds its own unpredictability. While this makes life exciting and exhausting, there also are moments where you just want a bit of normalcy. For Stephen especially, no longer waking up to a straightforward 9-5 job is a hard adjustment some days.

On Monday we spent the day getting reacquainted with the process of school, after teachers and kids had the weekend off. On Tuesday it was mashing avocado and feeding Mikey on the balcony upstairs. Wednesday was the endless project of bicycle fixing. I don’t know how many times a day one of the boys on the compound comes and asks, “Where’s Shaggy? Can he help me fix my bicycle?” Thursday we broke out the water guns and ran the compound, soaked to the bone. Friday was pancakes and YouTube videos with the kids in our class who were rewarded for having good behavior. 

The weeks are a rush of spelling words and school struggles, bicycle fixing and Mikey-snuggles, market runs and reading practice. Before long, it is Saturday again. 

We are adjusting. Slowly, but surely. We joke that, by the time we are fully adjusted it’ll be time to go back to the States and we’ll start at square-one again in January. The mosquitoes still bite. Our showers are still freezing. Rats still crawl the ceiling. But we adjust. We adjust until somehow it all seems normal. 

We take it all in, moment by moment. We celebrate the small victories, and pray over what look like impossible hurdles. Mikey eating 1/4 of an avocado every afternoon for 3 days in a row. Carl’s smile coming back. Finding a bin of old schoolbooks and short readers. Telephone calls to family back home. Bello’s sweet and simple, “thank you” after a water gun war. 

In a country riddled with what looks like hopeless corruption, selfishness, and evil, we face a choice each and every day. God continues to whisper to our hearts, “Where, dear ones, will you set your eyes?” And while we struggle and while it may be imperfect at times, we choose again and again to set our eyes on Jesus– the one who saves, and redeems, and restores. 


Inadequacy and Bicycles

There were a lot of things I meant to do this morning. And here I find myself at 10:30, drinking yet another cup of coffee, still in my pajamas. 
It is hard to believe a week has come and gone. School started on Monday, and I suppose all we could say as we locked the classroom door on Friday was, “Well, we survived.” 

The most trying three-and-a-half hours of our day happen between 8:30 and noon, when 7 high-energy and strong-willed kiddos are ours to teach. I’m pretty sure we tried all the bribes in the book, every reverse-psychology method known to man, and any kind of consequence-and-reward system we could think of. And they all backfired. 

To be totally and completely honest, on more than one occasion this week we were ready to say we were the wrong people for the job, pack our bags, and pray until our knees blistered that God would send us back to the States. But we are still here. Our bags are still unpacked. And we are still inadequate. 

We take each day as it comes. Somedays, this means staring blankly at the wall while we eat our lunch and try not to think about the summer of normalcy we left behind. Other days we revel in the rain that thunders on the tin roof, we chase children around the yard until we are out of breath, and our joy overflows as laughter rings loud from the boy who lays in the hammock every afternoon. Each day holds its own. And we are along for the wild ride.

In the afternoon, Stephen has spent a lot of time helping some of the boys fix their bicycles. The depot is a mess of tools and parts and little boys here, there, and everywhere. Carl and Stephen spent a good 3 days fixing up Carl’s bike, and no sooner did they have everything working when Carl broke his bike, yet again. In the same day, 3 hours after Stephen helped Abel fix the chain on his bike, I found Abel walking his bike back to the depot. After asking him what happened, he showed me the massive rip in his tire where he ran over something in the soccer field.

As people, we long to see progress and evidence of the fruit of our labors. But if you do that here, you will quickly find yourself in a place of deep discouragement. We talk about it as the night grows dark and the mosquitos bite at our ankles. How can we make a difference here? The spelling words, the broken bicycles, the math lessons… Everything you do feels like emptying the ocean with an eye dropper. And that’s on a good day. 

It takes a morning of coffee, classic hymns, and 3 hours of sitting on the dirty cement floor at my Savior’s feet before I can realize… If this labor is in and of myself, it is in vain. But this labor is for the Lord. And though we know not His purposes for it all, there is a peace that comes when you surrender it to Him. We can rest in knowing that this labor is not ours. It is His. And whether we see the fruits of it or not, He will use it.


It’s Here!

Wow It’s here! TOMORROW we fly out for Haiti! Its been so neat to step out in faith and follow Gods leading and see him be faithful every step of the way! I’m excited to be going back as a married couple 🙂 last time we were there we had been only dating a month! It’s been amazing to get to know Anna more and more and see how God really knew what He was doing when we brought us together. I can’t think of anyone else that I would want to be serving alongside. 

It’ll be so good to see everyone when we get down there. It sounds like we will be serving alongside some super cool people. 🙂 Im looking forward to see what Mikey’s response is when he sees Anna (He’s the special needs boy that Anna has spent many hours working with). Thank you all so much for making it possible for this to happen through your prayers and financial support. I ask that you would continue or to begin to keep us in your prayers. We need it as we are going in to a country where spiritual darkness is very evident. Pray that the light that we have would shine bright, all for the glory of God! 

Packing up today! 

busy weekends

Yesterday we spent the day road-tripping across Nebraska to go to the Grace Mission office in Henderson, Nebraska. Grace Mission is sending down a container of supplies (some appliances, baby wipes and formula, canned goods, furniture, etc) and we were able to put some of our own personal things on there too. Marsha was explaining the process of how it all works: The supplies/totes/appliances/furniture get piled up on pallets and then are heavy-duty saran-wrapped up. The pallets then get loaded onto the semi, which gets driven to Florida. Once in Florida, it is loaded onto a massive container that sets sail for Cap Haitien, Haiti. Once the semi is loaded up in Nebraska, the process takes approximately 4-5 weeks.

For us, the day included a 3-hour road trip to the nearest Sam’s Club (I am my father’s daughter), Walmart, and Home Depot, an impromptu lunch date with some of Stephen’s family, a lot of cattle spotting, the incredible story of Darlene Dribbler Rose (audio books are our new favorites), deer-watching, and much coffee.

All in all, it was a 13 hour day for us folks who live in the middle of nowhere, but we had  a great time. We packed things like sheets, canned vegetables, handyman tools, not enough nutella and peanut butter, and other random tidbits that become lifesavers in Haiti. God even supplied zip-ties at the last minute right when we needed them! Sometimes it really is the little things 🙂

We are continually amazed at how fast summer is flying- this time is sweet, busy, and exciting. We are overwhelmed at times, but we are doing our best to soak it all in and enjoy the moments.



On our road trip to Henderson!


Corn. And cows. Lots of corn and cows.


Packing our totes for the container!


Grace Mission’s Office in Nebraska

One Hurdle At a Time

Before getting married, one of the things we eagerly anticipated was the idea of doing life together. With that idea came the notion that we would have all sorts of time on our hands. As it turns out, the grass is always greener and time continues to slip between our fingers faster than ever.

Summer has been good, but summer has been full. However when one gets married, rents a house for the very first time, and makes plans to leave the country (all within a 6-month time span), I suppose that is to be expected.

God continues to open doors and tackle hurdles as we pursue the plans He has for us. Last week we were able to sort out what has been our biggest problem thus far- needing an organization to take on our support under their 501c3 umbrella (a fun legal term Stephen understands better than me). Because we are part time with two missions (the Aviation Mission in Alaska and Grace Mission in Haiti), neither could filter our support year-round. Stephen’s church here in Ainsworth has committed to taking in our support for us full-time, which helps make everything much less complicated for both us and our supporters. This was a huge answer to prayer and one more thing to add to the ever-growing list of how God is working all things out.

We have been so grateful for the multitude of ways people have already come alongside us to support what we are doing- Stephen’s church here in Ainsworth, my church back in Chicago, individuals who have given to us financially, and people who have invited us into their homes and encouraged us and prayed for us. It is overwhelming to think that the journey has just begun.

The coolest part of all this is getting to tell the story that God is writing, and inviting others to come alongside us. This weekend we are printing, addressing, and mailing out support letters. So if you are interested in what we are doing and would like to find a letter in your mailbox next week, shoot us an email or leave us a comment and we’ll be sure you’re on the list!


The (un)offical Update

It’s hard to know what to write. So much is behind us. So much lies before us.

Where does one even begin?

There were wedding bells and a white dress, dearly loved friends and family, vows and rings and laughter and chaos.. It all whirled by with the bliss and the romance and the insanity of missing car keys and a lost suit coat button. We left the church overwhelmed by the support and the love we had been lavished with on our wedding day.

Alabama was a refuge of sorts; the chance to breathe deep and close a door on a fast-paced world. We spent the week parasailing, talking late into the night, and eating half a pan of brownies for dinner. After a year of long distance and wedding planning, Alabama breathed life into our tired and weary souls.

Now we are here. In a summer rental house in the middle-of-nowhere (also known as Ainsworth) Nebraska. Stephen is putting in long hours at the autobody shop, working to provide and make our ends meet. I spend the days writing, making a mess of the kitchen, and going for too many runs.

So many are asking to know, “What’s next? What are your plans?”

We’ve been asking the very same thing. Haha.

To put our chaos into a nutshell… We are in Ainsworth this summer, adjusting to married life and preparing to head to the mission field in September. Our plans are to spend the fall in Haiti with Grace Mission In Haiti and to serve there in various capacities. We will come home for the holidays and a bit of a break, then we plan to return to Haiti in January. Come May, we will do away with the summer-time clothes, pack up our sweaters and jackets, and head to Alaska. Stephen is hoping to acquire flight hours and ratings at Kingdom Air Corp– a mission aviation ministry with a summer training program he was able to briefly visit last year. (Note: follow each sentence up with the line “Lord willing”)

Beyond that, we do not know. What we are continually finding true about God is that He gives us just one step at a time, the very moment we need it. Nothing more, nothing less.

We will update more in-depth in the coming weeks. In the meantime, leave us your comments, email us with questions, and keep us in your thoughts and prayers.