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.”


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!)

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 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! 

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 😉 


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 🙂 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

Support Letter Time-Lapse

While the blog has been quiet lately, life definitely hasn’t been! After compiling a list of names and addresses, printing labels and addresses envelopes, fighting a 2-day stomach bug, and taking multiple trips to the post office, the support letters are officially out!

We thought we would share this time lapse video we made with you! Here’s what hand-addressing, return-label-sticking, and stamping 147 envelopes looks like.