Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bon Fet Pou Gabe

We headed out on another Haiti adventure yesterday.  Gabe requested long ago that for his 12th birthday he wanted to take several of his friends to the beach.  For some reason or another, this trip kept getting postponed, and was finally rescheduled for yesterday.  

Out of all of our children, Gabe has the most friends in the village.  He loves to play soccer with some of the younger guys, he works with several of the older guys on campus when he has a chance, and he just loves being out and chatting with people.  Seeing our children develop relationships with people of different ages and different cultures has been a blessing.  Many of our Haitian friends claim that Gabe is part Haitian.  We made a list of who he wanted to invite and including our family, the list held 20 people.  As we drove off to the beach yesterday, there were 39 people in the truck….and we had told some people that we couldn't take them.    

As we assessed how many people we had and that the beach we were headed to was quite far, we decided to make a different plan.  Two friends suggested a beach that was closer so we headed there instead.  We stopped for rice and beans for everyone at a little stand on the side of the road.  I am guessing the vendor  was surprised at how much business she would do by 10:30 am!  One more stop for water and we were headed to the beach.  

When we arrived we were a little taken aback by all of the garbage on the beach.  We had seen this before, but it was quite a bit worse than any place we had gone to swim.   This particular beach also has black sand, so it looks a lot like dirt  and not very clean.  We checked out the water, though, and it was quite clean so we decided to make the best of it.  

  These three beauties played together all day and had a great time.

 What??  A cow doesn't just walk through while you are tanning at the beach?

 Trying to catch a few crabs.

 Getting loaded up after a fun filled day.

"Papito, get in the truck!  We are waiting for you!"

People swam, played soccer and other games, sat around and talked, ate some more, fished for crabs, and swam again.  It was a fun day and so fun to see Gabe have a great time with his friends.  I wouldn't say the day was a relaxing day away, but worth it for the smile on our son's face.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Saturday Mornings

On Saturday mornings I take all of our Haitian children, Zion Hope, and sometimes a few more of our children or another staff member on a walk.  I have to have at least one extra stroller pusher, so I need the help and the company is nice.  It has become a tradition for us.  No school and no church means we go on a walk and then play for a while either on the swings or on the playground.  The children love this tradition and ask when we are leaving for our walk as soon as we get up in the morning.  Getting them all dressed and in shoes takes a while.  We still don't have a great system set up for shoes, so someone's shoe is always missing so we need to search for it.  Then someone ends up with a dirty diaper so I need to change it.  A child might get a time out in the excitement to leave.  Finally, we are headed out the door!  I thought you might enjoy a few pictures from one of our recent walks.  They love to explore, call out to our friends along the way, check out the goats and cows, and step aside for the motos and trucks that come along.  

Children of the Promise has given permission for the posting of the photos on this site.  Photos taken of  the children in the care of Children of the Promise are not to be posted publicly without explicit permission given by Children of the Promise.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Girls Will Be Girls

These two little ladies are so cute.  They play together so well at times, and they also have their moments of intense competition.  They love each other, but when one of them is wearing the other ones clothes, watch out.  They sound like sisters, right?  I was making dinner tonight and came out onto the porch to find this.  They were quite serious about it, and so precious.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fun With Noel

Jadyn and Dan were doing a little horse training tonight and the children decided it was a great night for some riding!  We have worked with them for months on not being afraid of animals and I think it is finally working!  They don't panic when the COTP dog, Roxy, comes around.  They chase the cats and kitten from next door and terrorize them daily.  And now they are not only petting Noel, but sitting on her with a smile on their faces!  We will work next on Paco and Ezechiel, but Noel was getting a little jumpy and we really want their first experience to be a positive one.  Everyone enjoyed their little ride and we are anticipating much more fun with Noel!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

We Will Follow You

So many emotions fill our hearts when we talk about our future.  What is God's will?  How does He show us?  What is He calling us to do at this time?  How can we know for sure?

We have asked those questions several times in our lives and in our marriage over the past fifteen years.  We know that wherever life takes us, our job is to praise and worship and bring glory to God and to share His truth with others. To be people who breathe out the gospel in word and deed. That can be done in a youth home in Grand Rapids, in our own home raising our children, in a church setting as a Pastor, in Haiti as a house parent, anywhere He places us.

We believe that God is beginning to call us back to the United States.  While our plan is for that to take quite some time, we will begin planning for that in the near future.  He has used our prayers for direction, many discussions, and another family that we are so excited about to take over as houseparents in the Grace House.

 We have experienced the joys and struggles of living with and loving five extra toddlers in our home.  Life in Haiti can be quite difficult when you consider the heat, the difficulty in finding healthy food for your family, the terrible roads, and the contact you have with hungry, needy people every day.  It is also exhausting to deal with the physical, emotional, and spiritual issues of ten children who are all experiencing difficult emotions.  The Haitian children who are dealing with abandonment and a host of other things, and your biological children who are navigating a culture that is new to them and a way of life that is so different than what they are used to.  We miss our family and our friends in America so much.

Haiti is also very beautiful when you consider the magnificence of the mountains around you, the adorable children and the women you consider sisters that you work with each day.  The joy you see in those needy people despite life's circumstances, and the simplicity of walking the dirt roads with the cows, goats, and people you have grown to love are irreplaceable experiences.  We love this country and these people in a way we never knew we would.

As we were talking and dreaming and praying about our future and weighing our reasoning for staying in Haiti or not, we always struggled with leaving these children who are in our care.  We love them so much, have invested so much in them, and really want what is best for them.  Would they experience more abandonment?  Is it fair?  What if adoptions in Haiti continue to stand still?  We knew that if He called us out of Haiti, leaving them would be very difficult.  During this time of seeking His will, God in His good providence showed us a family that was interested in being houseparents at the Grace House.  We had already met them as volunteers, and could sense in their personalities and through a few interactions that they would be a great addition to the COTP family.  We felt as if this was another door that God was opening for COTP, while freeing us up to make the decision we needed to make without excessively worrying about the children here.

Therefore, through talking with the family that will replace us and our immediate family, we have decided to extend our contract for four months beyond our original two year contract and live in Haiti until July of 2015.  We have many mixed emotions about this, and all seven of us are feeling different emotions at any given time.  Some days we cannot imagine leaving and then some days we long for cool fall days in Michigan and visiting with family and friends.  We would love your prayers as we live these next ten months, knowing that we will be leaving this place and these people at that time.  We want to finish well this great ministry to which the Lord has called us.  We also have a mixture of some anxiety coupled with excited anticipation as we seek the Lord's will regarding what ministry He is calling us to next.  Please pray for clear direction.  We will also be looking to do some fundraising for our last several months in Haiti.  If you would like more information about that, please let us know.  

There is one more matter that several people have asked us about.  When we moved to Haiti, adoption was definitely on our hearts and in our minds.  Since moving here, with the laws changing and so many unknowns with Haitian adoptions, we are not able to adopt from here at this time.  We trust that God knows what is best and have accepted that for our family at this time.

So many of you have prayed for us, written us, and supported us through this time.  We are so incredibly grateful.  We will continue to need your prayers as we walk through the next several months of loving  these people God has brought us to, and seeking Him for our future.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Abide in Him

There are many things I should be doing right now.  Laundry is dry on the line, children are waking from naps, the floor needs sweeping, a dinner plan needs to be made, but I can't stop thinking about this.
I am reading in John for my devotions in the mornings.  Today I was in John 15.
John 15:4,5  "Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

It keeps coming back to me today.  After starting school a little late because of problems with the toddlers, after having to be forgiven and to forgive after impatient words were spoken, after pondering with my husband about how to help some people we know, after dealing with a child who is struggling with missing loved ones, after being discouraged about the needs in a country we have grown to love, after sweating much of the day.....
I can't help but think that someone else might need this reminder.  Abide in Him.  It is the only way.  He alone can give peace.  Abide in Him in the struggles.  Abide in Him in the joy.  Abide in Him ALL DAY LONG.

I am clinging to that today.  Apart from Him I can do nothing.  He is The Vine.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Night Fun

Here is just a quick shot of what might happen here on a Sunday evening.  Dan made dinner tonight and often brings up the computer to listen to music while he does the dishes.  He was watching/listening to some music videos his brother Jed and nieces have done and graciously sent him.  I came into the kitchen to find this scene.  Everyone likes your music, Blood Harmony!  It doesn't look too comfortable to me, but everyone seemed quite content with the arrangement.  Sorry about the photo quality...I had to catch the moment quickly before it passed!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A prayer request and some pictures

Blogging is hard sometimes.  There is always something to write about, but the timing is not always right.  Right now is one of those times.  We have many emotions about our friends here in Haiti and the hardships they face.  Right now it is "back to school" time, a very difficult time for anyone with a school age child.  It is a time when money is often short.  Difficult decisions need to be made.   Maybe parents have to choose what child will go to school this year if they can't send more than one.  Maybe they do not have enough money for any of them.  They often look to others to see if they could borrow or get the money from someone else.  I could write a whole blog about this, but I will not at this time.  I will just ask you to pray for children and parents during this difficult season.

Our internet has not been stellar lately, and we always have something to keep us busy!  I know I have not blogged in quite some time, so I thought you might enjoy some photos.  Dan's sister, Rachel Shaw, along with our nephew and several people from their church in Michigan recently came on a mission trip to Children of the Promise.  They did a little Bible school with our kids and I decided to share a few of the photos from that.  Our Haitian children are learning and growing each day!  They are so fun to watch and play with and laugh at.  They are toddlers and preschoolers so they are challenging also, but so fun!  Enjoy the photos!