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.