This Thing Called Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do we so easily forget Who we belong to?

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

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


An Update

5:30 comes early, awakening me with its pitch-black skies and faint rooster crows. But these days, it’s the only time I can find a moment or two of peace. Coffee steams in the pot on the counter, the open windows bringing in the coolness from last night’s rainstorm. I watch the minutes tick on the clock, begging them to slow down just a little.

We’ve been in Haiti for 2 weeks now. If it weren’t for the calendar on the wall that says it’s true, I’m not sure I’d believe it. It is the end of our 2nd week of school, the books and papers scattered across the shelves and countertops attest to that. It’s hard to know where to begin, or what to say. These two weeks have held more than we know what to do with– joys, so many frustrations, broken-heartedness, and much laughter. Being back is this unexplainable mix of both bitter and sweet. 

Other than a fine layer of dust, when we got back we found our apartment the way we left it– nothing broken or damaged, missing or stolen. The kids took a few days to warm up to us, which we anticipated. Now the little battery-operated doorbell rings every hour, if not more. Little brown faces stand in the hallway, asking “Where Shaggy?” when I open the door. 

Good ole “Shaggy” is a busy beaver these days- working on projects and helping the boys with theirs. I wash dishes at the sink and watch from the windows at the parade of small people who follow behind him in the afternoons. Stephen started Bible study back up again, and so Tuesdays and Thursdays the house is full of lollipops and boys and questions. We plant in hope, and then we let God make things grow.

School is school.. except it is not. Yesterday we were reminded of the so many hurts and feelings and issues that come into the classroom from orphanage-life. And I find myself broken hearted, because these are issues and hurts I cannot begin to imagine or relate to. It is easy to question, “Why have You sent us, God?” But for whatever the reason, He has. We find ourselves asking for His wisdom, His patience, and His grace for every moment. Because 2 weeks into school reminds us that we need Him, desperately. 

Our new books are the amazing and have saved my sanity over and over again within the last 2 weeks. The kids love them too, especially their new Bibles. We have a full day- with group devotions starting at 7:30, and then school from 8:00-1:30 (with a 30 minute lunch break at noon). The schedule is full– Bible, math story problems, spelling, history, writing, math facts, reading comprehension, and science. It is a long day for the kids, and they’ve done well adjusting to it. There’s a handful who have their sights set on the 3rd grade (Kristine with iWilGo has set up an awesome education plan with the 2 older grades) and so that has been motivation for quite a few of our kiddos.

With Ray and Bonnie gone, little David and his sidekick Joshua are my constant companions from the moment I walk out of our apartment door until I peel them off of me in the evenings. They pull at the sides of my skirt wherever I walk, saying, “Pote’m. Hold me. Hannah pote’m.” Such cheeky monkeys that love every kind of trouble they can possibly find. And have a knack for shrieking with a kind of shrill that turns my insides out after about an hour (nevermind that they are being constantly picked on by anyone just a smidge bigger than them). Poor Shaggy gets to deal with me at my grouchiest and tiredest when we come in at 6:30. He is patient and ever-loving, and I find myself grateful for him over and over again.

We are adjusting to the rhythm of life again in Limbe.. crowded market places with sewage underfoot.. humid days that leave you in a constant state of sweat.. hardened cement floors and cockroaches in the cabinets.. the smell of pee on your clothes and skin by the time you close the door every night.. We are reacquainting ourselves with the struggles and the joys. 

By now the sky is a watercolor full of pinks and blues, and you can hear the rumble of mottos on the street. Haiti is coming to life, and the noise will be constant now until we fall into bed tonight. The day lays outstretched before me, full of many unknowns. My heart is weary just at the thought.. But He promises grace for just this one.

So I pour another cup of coffee. We will scramble the eggs and burn the toast, brushing teeth and strapping on sandals in the rush of the morning. And then we’ll step out, into that crazy unknown. And we’ll cling to His promise, that His grace is sufficient for just this day; and dedicated unto Him, He’ll use our labors of this day.


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.


Season by Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is not a plea for support.

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

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

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

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

And it is somehow okay. 


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

The Monotonous and the Mundane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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