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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ˜‰ 

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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.


We Are Here

Nebraska is cold. My always-chilly fingertips and triple-layered clothing can attest to that.

The wood floor creaks beneath my bare feet, water is boiling for coffee on the stove, and there’s a white-lit Christmas tree in the corner of the living room. We’ve been on the road for 11 days, traveling Chicago to Colorado, and now Colorado to Ainsworth. Scotty and Toby have opened their home to us, showing us a kindness and love that is overwhelming. So many people, in so many different ways, making all of this possible. 

There has been lots of rushing since the moment we boarded that plane in hot, sunny Cap Haitien. Unpacking and repacking, reuniting with family, holiday fun, phone calls and bills, and a never-ending to do list. But morning comes with its ticking clock and bright sunshine, bringing us an unexpected gift of quiet, and stillness, and time. 

It seems like a lifetime ago… the day we landed in Cap Haitien and began the start of this crazy new life. And here it is December already. The frigid showers, spelling test Fridays, sleepless nights, afternoon bicycle repairs, lesson planning days all behind us. I smile for the memory of it- the way the start of it all was so rough, the doubts, the struggle. Until suddenly, life seemed normal and life seemed good. Yes, still hard and exhausting and overwhelming. But there was grace. One day at a time. 

7 months married, we have grown both individually and together. We’ve gone from long-distance relationship to constant companions. And our biggest concern and biggest prayer, He has met. We walk away from 2 months in Haiti stronger together. Every struggle to communicate, every effort to work together, every little frustration, every sometimes-too-honest thought… all of it, He took and used for His good. 

And there is this compelling in my heart.. to tell them about how it was all Him. Of how it always has been and always will be because of Him. His goodness. His mercy. His strength. His love. His power. His presence with us. We have been but the mere vessels. Broken, under-qualified, and weak. He has been so good.

We have come home. Or maybe, we have left home. It is hard to know, when your belongings are stored in boxes in basements and garage shelves and totes in cement rooms. 

We are taking it as it comes, and trying not to freeze as we travel across central United States. We miss those little rascals… those crazy bicycles and stupid pencils and knocks on the door during lunchtime. 33 little faces and voices and sticky fingers have wound their way into our hearts.

As always, we are so thankful for your constant prayers, your support, and your outpouring of love.  We hope to see as many of you as possible while we are stateside, but we can’t seem to figure out how to be two places at once. So if we do not see you this time, maybe the next.

With love, 

from the girl who constantly has a hot chocolate, or fresh coffee, or warm chai tea in hand, 


hiking the mountains in Colorado

A Rainy Sunday UpdateΒ 

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 πŸ˜‰ 


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. 


Our First Update

We are here. Rooster-crowing, sun-scorching, trash-burning here. I don’t dwell on the thougt for long, as if the reality were as fragile as a bubble that could burst at our fingertips. But we are here.

It is a strang feeling to put into words. Everything is the same and different all at once. The ground we walk, the faces we know, smells and sounds in the air… They whisper of things so very familiar. And yet, there is an unknown to it all as well. We struggle to find ‘our place’. Together. As a couple. Married. Not as a team member or the teacher-girl.

When our plane landed in Cap Haitien at 12:30 on Thursday, we looked at each other and realized, “This is it. We are actually doing this.” Waiting for our bags took forever at the airport, with throngs of people shoving and pushing and crowding to the luggage belt and through customs. But all four of our duffel bags made it, and not a single thing was missing or broken. 

The traffic is crazier than we remembered and the roads have gotten much worse in the last year. The weather is also hotter than we were prepared for. I think we have yet to stop sweating! Haha. We are staying in the team rooms while the apartment we will eventually stay in is being finished. School starts Monday, giving us the weekend to adjust and settle in, which is so nice. The plan is to tag-team and teach the youngest classroom together. There’s some strong personalities in that age group, so maybe we’re a bit.. Apprehensive? But glad to be able to fill the need. 

As we continue to adjust to life here, we feel a bit inadequate. But the Lord continues to remind us that is exactly how He wants us. 

All in all, we are happy. Despite the heat, the cockroaches and spiders we find on our walls, and the struggle to find our fit. Stephen is helping Lou this morning with some electric and plumbing work. The team just left for Carmot. The kids are whizzing around on their bicycles. Mikey’s giggles come from the hammock beside me. My coffee is growing cold… 

It all is so surreal. 

We are so thankful for your love and support and prayers and encouragement that has gotten us here. We are now hooked up with Internet, which is exciting! It can be pretty sketch and unreliable at times, but we plan to stay as connected as we can.


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 πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚ 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! 

These Lessons We Learn

It was the one plant I thought wouldn’t become much of anything when I picked it out. I didn’t plant it in a real pot with a good drainage system, or care about the amount of sunlight it would get. I put it in the barrel beneath the overhang in our backyard, giving it the leftovers of the potting soil and compost we had bought for the other plants. In my eyes, it was dead the day we planted it.

I watched it with half a heart, unfazed by its lack of growth. As the other plants grew big and began to flower, the little pepper plant stayed the same for a good portion of the summer. Unchanging. Until one day, we found buds. And for the first time, I started to think that maybe this little plant could become something after all.

Now the pepper plant is the last plant standing in our garden. Several weeks ago, the garden bed failed to keep up with the downpour of rain we had, and the bottom broke out, killing our vegetables with it. Then the tomatoes wilted for reasons I still can’t figure out. All within the same week. But the pepper I planted, the one I thought was futile, now has half a dozen peppers growing on it and continues to burst with more buds.

The Lord continues to teach us using some of the most ordinary of moments.

It seems a fitting lesson to learn right before we head to Haiti. He reminds our hearts again and again.. You do not know what I am doing or the purposes I have.

As we enter into this new season, it is easy to form our own ideas of how life will look, who we will help, and the way we will impact. Right now we are struggling to surrender all of our expectations. Because He has taught us it’s not always about the garden bed. Sometimes He is about the little pepper plant tucked away in the corner of the yard.

We are so thankful for those who have supported us on this journey so far. Many have offered their prayers, their encouraging words, and their finances. Words cannot express how humbled we are by your generous hearts. Seeing God’s people pray and commit and come along beside us has made a powerful impact on us. We are overwhelmed by all the next few weeks hold, but we are greatly encouraged by your love and support.

Thank you for making this possible!