Alaskan Summertime

I originally wrote this on the flight home from Alaska at the beginning of August, so it’s several weeks outdated being that we are now in Nebraska and Stephen is an official certified instrument pilot.

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There’s something about it– the hum of an airplane thousands of feet in the sky with a miniature world down below, the vibration of the window seat and the melodies that whisper through my earbud headphones. There’s a stillness up here, and something about it in which I can find myself again..

Alaska has been hard. I have struggled all summer to know what to say, and flying home in the very back seat of the plane with rugged terrain below me, I leave this place knowing Alaska has grown me.

Evening sun casts shadows on the mountain range. Blue meets white long in the distance of a vast, vast world. The sight leaves me breathless. 

Summer has taught us a lot… about ourselves, about each other, about faith and trust and surrender to the One who knows best. We have been stretched beyond our limits, faced to confront the selfishness, pride, and doubt that easily grows within our hearts. We have been left amazed by Alaska, and the One who breathed it into creation. We’ve been challenged to be clay in the Potter’s hands, more ply-able as the days and seasons pass.

The beauty is always in the looking back… at least, the deep and raw kind that I’ve come to love. Always in the looking back.

In many ways it feels as though we have limped through the summer, crossing the finish line barely able to say “We survived.” Two and a half months are a blur of days and experiences and hurts and challenges and joys I feel I will find myself sorting through during the months to come. 

It’s been a summer of flight training and aviation talk and attempting to grasp what it means and causes and costs to be a pilot’s wife. It’s been a summer of flight lessons and a busy husband and me crying, overwhelmed at the thought of this being the rest of my life, and can I be okay with that? 

Surrender has been a bitter taste on the back of my tongue this summer. Because suddenly I am left with the weight of the thought: what if this costs everything I am, everything I want, everything I deeply love and dream big about? What if this.. this being a pilot’s wife.. costs everything?

Whispy thin clouds pass beneath us, and through the haze you can see the water cutting though the jagged mountains down below. Alaska, in all its beauty, overwhelms me.

I still wrestle with the question. I still fight and I still struggle. The core of it is my heart, struggling to make Him my everything, begging Him amidst the fight, “Do not let me leave here unchanged..” 

Stephen has worked some very long and very hard hours this summer, something I fail to fully appreciate again and again. He’s given this instrument training thing 110% of what he’s got, while still trying to keep up with me and keep up with life and keep his heart fixed on why he’s doing all the training and the flying. He’s been a bleary-eyed, nose-in-the-books, aviation junky this summer, and while he has SO enjoyed the training and we are thankful for it, I think we are both ready for the change of pace and focus that awaits us in Haiti.

The horizon blurs in a hue of colors– the purples and yellows and blues each running into the other. The snow caps are less and less on the mountaintops that begin to hide beneath the fog. The sun sets behind us.

At the time I originally wrote this, Stephen had his checkride scheduled for a Friday. Since then, the weeks have passed and so have his long study days. He’s officially instrument certified, and has successful passed his big oral test and actual flight test! This means he can fly in the clouds now, using the gauges and instruments on the plane to navigate. It’s no small accomplishment; in fact it’s a pretty big and difficult one. He leaves me impressed and amazed, thankful to call him mine. He has many stories from the summer, much different than mine. So maybe once he re-coops from his whirlwind of a summer, he will be able to have the time to find his voice here on this little blog.

Until then, we are enjoying Nebraska, seeing sweet and dear people, road-tripping, and warm summertime weather. 


The Brooks Range

9 airplanes and 20+ staff are loaded and ready on the runway. It’s Monday morning, and Kingdom Air Corps is a buzz of activity, getting ready for 2 weeks of Brooks Range Bible Camp (1 week of Junior Camp, 1 week of Teen Camp). We fly 6 hours up to the Alaskan villages, seeing a side of Alaska we hadn’t before. Villages accessible only by airplane. Villages without churches. Villages full of so much need.

It’s hard to know where to begin..
Every summer, Kingdom Air Corps puts on a Bible Camp in the Brooks Range for the village kids in Northern Alaska (also called BRBC). They fly out staff and supplies for 2 weeks in the middle-of-nowhere, Alaska– no cell reception, no internet, no roads. The kids come from 2 nearby villages– Alacacut and AKP. We spent the night in Alacacut on Monday night, finding ourselves weathered in. We spread sleeping bags and camped out in the community building in the village, Alacacut’s sweet missionaries bringing us dinner of soup and hot dogs.
The village doesn’t have running water, and so the main wash house is located in the center-ish of town. For $4, you can wash a load of laundry. And $2 will get you a 10-minute hot shower. The village is quiet when we arrive, and cold. We are a big group of white people, walking in the direction of the Fox’s house (missionaries who live in the village). An occasional 4-wheeler drives by. Village life is what they call upside down– day is night, and night is day. Because summertime up here in never dark. So life doesn’t typically begin until 5 or 6 in the evening.
The next morning, the town feeds us pancakes and sausages for breakfast. I talk with the woman standing over the stove, listening to the story of her daughter who started packing for camp 3 months ago. We quickly learn how eagerly these kids anticipate camp, and how much it means to them. Pancake batter splatters on the stove. I struggle to wrap my mind around village life and how this camp impacts these kids- something I will do for the next 14 days. I ask if I can help, but “No, no. We are happy to be able to do this..”
We arrive at camp, and the set up immediately begins. Tarps need to be pulled across cabin frames and tents set up. A small generator runs electricity to the lodge, and a water pump system so that the kitchen has running water for dishes and cooking. There is 1 day between when we get there, and when the first batch of kids come for Junior Camp. That one day goes fast.
Looking back now, I have to smile at the way the Lord works. When we found out about Brooks Bible Range and that we would have the opportunity to go this summer, I found myself making deals with God. And essentially our deal ended at this, “I will do anything. I want to do anything. I feel adequate to help in a lot of ways, but just not a counselor. Ok, God?”
Sure enough, God has a way of taking that “never” and placing you smack in the middle of it. And Tuesday afternoon, when more planeloads of kids came than ever before and the cabins overflowed, Stephen and I found ourselves as makeshift, last-minute counselors. 43 kids came to camp that week– one of the biggest years yet. The following week (Teen Week) is a lot smaller, and we resume our general staff and craft-time coordinators job.
Planes come and go all day long– dropping off kids, and then turning around to go pick up more. The ones left are acquainted (or reacquainted) with their counselors and friends they haven’t seen since last year. Then, when another plane comes, the counselors and staff are left frantically trying to corral the kids off the grass runway and keep the kids away from the airplane until the propeller stops spinning. We thought we had experienced crazy to its fullest in Haiti, but this was a new one, that’s for sure. haha!
There are aspects to village life we try to understand during our 2 weeks there. “I won’t get picked on this week... There’s too much drama at home, I don’t want to leave camp… We would go to a bible study, but our village doesn’t have one.. Does a person who commits suicide go to heaven?”
The devastating need breaks my heart and weighs heavy on my mind. For 2 weeks I find myself constantly wondering, “God does this do anything? It is 5 days of camp. 5 days.” I question and wonder.. why no missionaries and no churches in these villages where kids are hungry for it? Why doesn’t He supply?
We swim in the ice-cold river (ok, I swim twice. And watch the rest of the days). We run around on the airstrip, playing Wreck the Castle and Drip Drip Drop. We sing before chapel time and help kids find the verses the speaker is referencing to. We roast marshmallows and stay up late, late, late. In Cabin Time and Bible study, we tell classic Bible stories that most of the kids have never heard before. One morning, little Anna in our cabin wanted to be woken up early to read her Bible. I asked if she had heard the story of how God created the world, and after she said no, we spent the next half hour reading through the first few chapters of Genesis and talking about the story of creation and Adam and Eve and the serpent.
The need is overwhelming.
Two weeks come and go, with so many stories and experiences between the days. And flying home in a cozy, little 150 plane there is this realization that the need.. it will never end. Somewhere, always there will be need. And so we do what we can, when we can, where we can, for however long we are there.. and trust that God will put us where He wants us how He wants us, and will grow seeds long after we have left.
(we have so many stories and photos to share from the past 2 weeks, so rest assured you’ll hear from us again pretty soon 🙂 Leave us your questions in the comments, or things you are wondering about.. so we can try to explain things better to you and know what to write about!)

Hello Alaska 

The day’s chilly wind and gloomy skies are a stark contrast to the Caribbean heat and bright sunshine we’ve known since September..

Where do we even begin?

Here in the silence, the memories flood my mind. 20 kids with pink eye. Endless knocks upon the door. Jovenal’s back injury that left us googling signs of internal bleeding. It seems like a lifetime ago. The whisper of praise in seeing Jovenal up and walking by the time we left Haiti. The tug-of-war in leaving those 33 kiddos. The sheer exhaustion. The traveling. Colorado mountains and the celebration of a sister’s high school graduation. A heartache trip to Chicago. Us sitting on the living room floor, talking of memories through the tears; saying goodbye to my grandpa, sent home on hospice and dying from liver cancer. Attending his funeral last week, in all its surrealness. Alaska. So many new faces. Such a new way of life.

8 short weeks have held so much.

We are here. Nestled into a quaint little camper where our refrigerator is in the shower and towels line the windows because Alaska never grows fully dark in the summer. I double check my math, making sure it’s our 3rd week here. 

It is hard to describe our days, because each day is its own kind of different. 7:30 breakfast, 12:30 lunch, and 6 o’clock suppers are dependable. Stephen’s groundschool lessons faithfully begin at 9:30 each morning- something he has really enjoyed and learned a lot from. Some days there are sight seers. Some days Stephen is off for an unexpected flight to Palmer. Other days he surprises me by walking into the camper in the middle of the afternoon. Some days the air is still and silent; other days, the rumble of airplanes taking off and landing is seemingly non-stop. 

Regardless, life is busy here at Kingdom Air Corps. 

Moose walk the woods behind our camper- a sight better enjoyed indoors rather than out. Alaska’s mountains are an altogether different kind of beauty. Before we left Chicago, someone described Alaska to us as God’s land.. and from whispering winds to breathing-taking mountain views to wooded tree areas, that description has stuck with us.

We are adjusting to a new rhythm of life here on “the ranch” as they say. Stephen’s time and purpose fills much quicker than mine, as there is often something to work on, something to study, or a project to lend a hand with. In all honesty, I’ve felt quite lost the last few weeks. For what seems like the first time in a long time, there are no children to tutor or classroom plans to make, no nanny responsiblity to fill, no family to cook supper for, no Mikey to cuddle or kids to give attention to. After spending time giving and helping a ministry, this summer we find ourselves on the other end- we are now the ones receiving someone’s hard work and time and energy. 

This is life. And we are adapting to the changes. Right now Stephen is back from ground school, studying and reviewing things he learned this morning. More instructors have come in during the last week, as well as teams from Texas and other places in the States. The pace is picking up here, and more dinner tables fill as the days go on. The pine cones that were just babies on the tree outside our window are nearly full-grown now. The heater has kicked on, easing the chill of a drafty camper. The sky threatens rain. 

Now that we are settled, we are planning to post more regularly once again. I have a video of Stephen’s first takeoff here on the grass runway, but despite my numerous attempts, it just won’t upload. It may have to wait until we are back home.. but slow internet and water that turns to ice cubes mid-shower keeps us from forgetting where we came from 🙂  

You’ll have to follow us on facebook (Stephen has an album on his page) or my Instagram to get our photo updates, the files seem to large to upload to the blog. 


We Have Arrived!

It has been a busy month as we made the transition from Haiti to Alaska.. but we are here now in Sutton, Alaska where moose walk around our camper/RV, the mountains are breath-takingly gorgeous, the sound of flying airplanes can be heard overhead, and it is so cold (it’s really only like 50 degrees. Haha)

We arrived late on Saturday night and are adjusting to the rhythm of life here at Kingdom Air Corps. There are so many stories and experiences from the past month we have to share with you, but for now we’ll leave you with this view from our bedroom window 🙂 


On This: A One Year Anniversary 

A year ago, the weather was perfect. The skies were sunny and blue with just-budding trees, a picture-perfect spring day.. Today we find ourselves with 33 kids, here with the humidity stuck to our skin. An endless flood of knocks not the front door. Here, where we woke up to a grasshopper crawling up the wall behind our heads. With days ever-so frustrating, and ever-so full. I have come to know you in a much deeper way over the course of a year. And you.. me. 

Sometimes it seems we couldn’t be more opposite.. you, the lover-of-breakfast and practical thinker, the one who is 5 minutes early for everything and has a bit of a sugar addiction. And me. Coffee lover and please-don’t-give-me-anything-to-eat-before-ten, please. The one who is usually scrambling to find her shoes when we’re already 5 minutes late, and likes making low-sugar, gluten free desserts whenever she can.

You deal with my crazy. My funny-random crazy that dances in the kitchen and eats ice cream cake for dinner. And my terribly obnoxious kind of crazy, the kind where I should learn where the line lies and that jumping out from behind the dark hallway door isn’t funny. And then there’s just plain crazy.. where 4 innocent words at the dinner table are taken so personally, and the next hour of your life feels like mayhem. 

We rented our very first house together. The one on 1st street, back when your commute to work was 2.5 minutes long. We’ve unpacked and repacked countless times, it seems. Now our things are stored in my parents basement. We’ve planted a garden; watching it fail, succeed, and then die early. We’ve spent a lot of hours on the road. A lot. We know how to maneuver the airports and which bags to pack what luggage in; we learned our lesson about holiday embargo. 

A lot has changed over the course of a year. More memories than this page can hold. Looking at you, sitting across from the table, I think of all the changes that have taken place. 

I think we both worried the first year would break us.. that marriage and house-renting and moving to Haiti and then to Alaska would be something that would ruin us. We knew how crazy it was. And if we ever forgot, there were people to remind us. 

But there was one thing we got wrong. One thing I wish we could go back and tell ourselves as we worried over decisions and was this the right one?

God is so much bigger than either of us can fathom. 

Not only is He bigger than our hearts can know, but He will hold us and go before us and keep us. April 23, 2017 has come. And here we are, sitting at the kitchen table while the noise from the country of Haiti floods into our windows and the kids knock on the door and the humidity sticks to our skin and there are receipts for Alaskan Airline tickets in our email boxes.. we are here, and it is only because He is too. 

Despite the changes, despite the differences between us, despite us ourselves.. He is faithful. And good. He is the reason, the sustainer, the provider. 

One year later, and I still think you are cute with your hair sticking up in the back and your eyes that light with a mischievous secret. One year later, we have had many a hard moments and many, many highlights. One year later, it is still you I want to crawl into bed next to (and I don’t mind it if you’ll kill the spiders and set the rat traps).

All my love,


Also, let me apologize in advance for the way I will probably smell like pee by the end of today. If that’s not romantic, I don’t know what is. 

Endless Adventuring

There’s a ziplock bag full of poop sitting on my shelf, and I wonder if it’s really only been 2 weeks that we’ve been back. Meds litter the countertops- children’s Tylenol, eye drops, Pepto, antibiotics, ibuprofen, and Gatorade packets creating a new medicine station. Wildaneise lays sleeping on the couch across the room. Yesterday it was Jantzy who fell asleep in the same spot after crushing his fingers in the door. Two days before that, Maria. Shaggy goes to switch the laundry. One more knock on the door. Water boils on the stove for macaroni noodles. 

Ray and Bonnie are out for the month, their absence strongly felt. 

We got back two weeks ago (May 31st) after stopping in the Bahamas, Port-au-Prince, and Pignon. We flew in MFI, the old DC-3 inching its way back to Haiti.. back to the kids we’ve come to love.. back to the humidity.. back to our class of 7.. back to the loud and the crazy.. back to some of the fullest, and yet most draining, days. 

To call the last 2 weeks a whirlwind seems like an understatement. I carry a ziplock bag full- of Joshua’s antibiotics and iron supplements, of ibuprofen pills, of pink-eye drops, children’s tylenol and antifungal cream. And never, ever forget the tissues. To and from, across the compound, every morning at 8 a.m. and every night at 8 p.m. We fall into a rhythm, Shaggy and I. Our heads hitting pillows by 10 o’clock, our eyes awake by 6. Day in and day out, until it all starts to blur together.

With 16 children on eye-drops for pink eye, we’ve made countless runs to the sketchy, road-side ‘pharmacy’ in the last week. Every day a new name is added to the calendar hanging on the kitchen wall, one more ‘welcomed into the family’ (as the kids are saying whenever someone gets the dreaded ‘peesh peesh’). They welcomed me Monday, something that seemed inevitable. 

The word ‘busy’ takes on a whole new meaning these days. More often than not, I am looking for ‘just a minute’.. but the interruptions seem unending. I count the 15 days we have left here, remembering there is grace for just this one. The busy, quite honestly, is exhausting. But there is a beauty with in it, for the way we’ve come to know these kids in a new way. 

Our house is full– of kids coming for movie nights, the air heavy with the smell of popcorn.. and boys at the kitchen table, practicing their reading and math skills in the morning, a more relaxed version of school.. of kids, who maybe just need a quiet place for an hour to actually sleep in quiet.. of little ones coming to count the money in their envelopes and buy lollipops from our little shop we’ve acquired.

This afternoon I sat on the trailer out front, watching Stephen practice the motorcycle driving with some of the kids. Half a dozen kids hanging out, each waiting their turn. There is a parade of children wherever we go, even for the most mundane of tasks. Joshua and David (the orphanage’s two youngest) each hold onto either side of my shorts anytime I’m at the orphanage (making the fear of being de-pants-ed very real. Haha). 

We went into Cap yesterday to go to the airport to pick up the mail. Because Hannah and Shaggy don’t know how to say no, we brought along 8 of the boys for a fun outing. They all enjoyed the ride, and we brought some snacks and music speakers to pass the time (it’s a 2-hour drive in, and a 2-hour drive back because the roads are so bad). While we waited to get the mail, we happened to see 2 airplanes take off. Talk about an exciting event! I’ve never seen 8 boys jump out of a vehicle so fast! Haha. It was a long day, but it was a day filled with much laughter and fun memories.

The time is so full and so busy, there isn’t much chance to think about how it is winding down.. as much as the crazy gets to us at times, there are moments that make us think ahead to summer, and how we are going to miss these kiddos. Having both Ray and Bonnie, and Lou and Deb gone makes us realize the relationships and sweet company we took for granted, and how we will be missing them too. We also never realized how many sick children and grandmouns (old people) there were until both Bonnie and Deb were gone. 

In the distance, the dogs bark. Beside me, Stephen catches up on the ever-growing emails and to-do’s. I’ve a new-found appreciation for the mosquito net tucked around our bed, after Stephen and Abel killed a spider literally the size of my hand in the kitchen today. I’m trying not to think about the rat I saw scurrying in the rafters at the entrance of the house. When we left the orphanage after nighttime devo’s, all the children were still alive, no one was hanging from the ceiling fans, and we only had to take 2-ft long spanking sticks out of two of their hands.

All in all, we’ll call that a pretty good day.


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? 

A Christmas Update

I’ve wanted to post some pictures of the kids that we have been working with and I felt led to do that today, Christmas Eve. Let me explain why.

For those who haven’t kept up with us, Anna and I got married in April. People called us crazy when 5 months later we went to Haiti for two months to start serving with Grace Mission, mainly working with the 33 orphanage kids. It was hard adjusting to life in Haiti at first, but by the grace of God we made it and are actually excited to go back in January. 🙂 We got back from Haiti a week before Thanksgiving and traveled around seeing family, speaking at churches, and seeing many of you great people for 3 weeks. These last 3 weeks before we head back to Haiti have been here in Chicago. Anna has been making sugar cookies (see picture below, she’s amazing), as well as getting to spend time with her family. I’ve been studying hard to take my Instrument written exam for my Pilots license. The hope is that this summer when we go to Alaska, (May 22nd-beginning of August is the plan right now) that I will be able to get my instrument rating. The mission we will be at is called Kingdom Air Corps and we will be attending the summer training program they offer.

I wanted to post these pictures at this time because Christmas is the reason we are doing what we are doing. It’s the reason we gave up great jobs (Hey, I miss you guys at Precision Autobody, and I know Anna misses the Samuel family). Its not because of the holiday itself but it’s because of Who’s Birthday we celebrate. It’s all because of Jesus. He is the one that we are following and trusting and has made it possible for us to do this. Yesterday was 8 months since we have been married and it’s only because of Jesus that we have the love and patience and grace to be a team working in the same direction. It hasn’t been all easy though, but has been so neat to see how he has brought us together so much through all of this. We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than here, in the will of God.

I want to say a huge thank you to those who, being led by Jesus, have supported us through many prayers and financial support. We couldn’t have done this without your obedience to Christ’s leading in your lives.







Group Photo! 
Anna helping Roden-flor and Judline learn to Knit




In Cap Haitian, Haiti
Colorado-Hiking in Estes Park


Colorado- Hiking in Estes Park



Look at those! 

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

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.