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.