Wednesday, May 20, 2015

17 Kids and Counting

One of our biggest challenges in house parenting at Children of the Promise was that we were the first. No one had ever done this before.  There was a lot of talking and planning and preparing and ideas but no one had actually lived it.  We had to figure out shopping and who to cook when and how to cook for fourteen people  and what to eat and how to discipline and where to sleep and who to hire and what to call the aunts and how to deal with our biological kids and who gives baths and when do we worship together and so many other things.  And this was amidst learning a new culture and language.  It was overwhelming and we struggled through while feeling like we didn't have a clue.  We asked a lot of questions and kept praying.  Sometimes we cried.

Then came Seth and Melissa Johnson.  They first came and stayed at our house while we went to America for a surgery for Dan and to see family and friends.  Then they moved into the Joy House and became houseparents like us!  Their situation is a little different as they had the opportunity to watch how a house ran and decide what they liked and didn't like and could change it when they were moving into their own house.  They could ask us questions about how we handled things and then they could decide if they wanted to do it the same or differently.    But they did understand better than anyone else what it was like to live in a child home day in and day out.  That there aren't office hours or separation between work and home or any QUIET to be found ANYWHERE.  They comprehend the joys and the trials and the laughter and the tears that happen in the child homes every day.  They understand the love you have for the children, but also the longing you have for them to be placed in their adoptive families as soon as possible.

Seth and Melissa are in America right now and I miss them.  Even if we don't talk every day or just call a "hello" across the dirt road, I still know that they are there.  They understand the craziness in my house because it is happening there too…..I can hear it!   Children of the Promise is growing and changing and there are more people here and soon to be even more people living the life of a houseparent.  I am so grateful that God placed us here and that we survived the first months of muddling through the waters of questions and confusion.  I am so grateful for the people that served alongside of us along the way!

We have tried to do a few photos with the Joy House and anyone who could get 17 children dressed and clean and all willing to sit and smile at a camera is welcome to come and try.  Yes, I did say 17.  Within yards of each others houses without windows.  Silence can be found at 3 am, sometimes.

If you think this looks like a lot of children, you should see what it looks like when they are all running in different directions!!

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.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

To The River!

One of the main reasons we came to Haiti was because we love our Savior and we want others to know Him.  Somedays in the day to day of changing diapers, cooking dinner, dealing with arguments, and giving baths it is difficult to feel like we are doing that.  But then there are the times when we have a great time of worship with our aunts and children, reading the Bible, singing, and praying together.  There are the times that we can help someone and when they thank us, we can point them to Christ.  Most Sundays Dan preaches at our COTP church and has also preached a number of times in Haitian churches.  There are discussions about Jesus and what he did for us.  There are the gifts of Bibles we have been able to give with the help of many of you.  There are the countless people we have met in the village or through friends and we can help them because of the church offerings or in other ways.  There are the funerals that have been conducted with the comfort of Jesus' love through difficulty being spoken.  Dan has built relationships with many others beyond the walls of Children of the Promise.  He loves to interact with people and get to know them and their life story.  Many times this brings much sadness and a heaviness that is difficult, but it has also taught us about life in a way we would have never known without these experiences.  

Dan was recently asked to baptize two individuals.  He has been asked this before and has always encouraged the person to go to their own Haitian pastor to do this so they are connected with their church.  This opportunity was different as their pastor asked Dan to baptize them because he was sick and couldn't go down into the water.  One of these individuals was a woman whom we love dearly.  Her name is Evane and she works in our home.  We work alongside her every day and have great respect for her.  One of her quotes is a highlight of our time here.  She said, "You help us walk with Jesus."  She will always be like a sister to us.
The other person was Carmello.  He has been attending Dan's Bible/English class for the past year and came to saving faith in Jesus Christ on New Year's Eve. It was a joyful day and a privilege to be a part of these moments.  

Evane walking into the water with Dan.

Our friend Papito translating for Dan

Our friend Peter with Malachi and Zion
Dan and I with Evane
Dan, Pastor Cola, Papito, Evane, and Carmello
Our friend Magalie,  Nevenson, Jadyn, and Zion
Our friends, Jason and Stacy, happened to be here the day of the baptism.  It was great to share this experience with them!  It was a hot day and they were able to experience the fun of a REALLY crowded truck in the Haiti heat with a lot of singing.   Then walking down a rocky, weedy path to a spot in the river that was chosen for the baptism.  It was joyful and emotional.  On the way home there was again a lot of singing….and after our Haitian friends sang for a while they decided it was our turn.  That day is one of my favorite memories of their trip.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

We Love Noel!

Sometime last year I posted pictures of some of the kids riding Jadyn's horse, Noel.  They love her.  They love to point out where she is eating each morning, walk out with Jade to pet her, help "papa" bring her water, and pretend they are a horse while they are playing.  It is fun to see their different reactions to animals and how they continue to grow in their comfort levels with them.  I hope you enjoy these photos!

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.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Long overdue update!

It is difficult to believe that it has really been over three months since I have updated our blog.  Life stays busy here in the Grace House and we are never bored!  There is laughter and tears, dishes and cooking, laundry and paperwork, playing and fighting, praying and seeking, and we are striving to offer GRACE to each other every day.

Dan recently returned from Florida for some medical testing he needed to do and we are all happy to have him back.  We are talking more and more often here about moving back to America and what that means for each of us.  We talk about possibilities for work, leaving people we love, returning to people we love, fears, excitement, what we look forward to, and what we will miss.  We know that we will need some time to transition back to life in America and also to be "the Willis family" again.  It will be two and a half years since we have been in a house with just the seven of us and no extras when we return in June.   At this point we plan to take some time reconnecting as a family and spending some time with extended family.  During that time we will continue to pursue job possibilities for Dan and trust that God will show us His will for the next phase in our life.

Several people have asked us what we need and how you can help us as we move forward.  First and foremost we would love your prayers.  This will be a major transition for all of us and it will involve some grieving.  We have loved and cared for and invested in these five little children for over two years and now we will be saying goodbye.  There are many more people we will be leaving also, and a beautiful country we have grown to love.  Please pray for our Haitian children, the aunts, the new family that will care for them, and their adoptive families.  We could also use your financial help to finish here in Haiti and then to transition to work in America.    We have always hesitated to ask, but a friend recently told me that if we do not ask, people do not know how they can help.  If this is a way you would like to help, please contact one of us and we can point you in the right direction.  Your gift can go through Children of the Promise and be tax deductible.  Thank you for all of your encouraging words, prayers and gifts while we have been here in Haiti.  And I promise to write more posts and show you more pictures in the near future!  I will leave you with some photos that our friend Jenna took a few months ago.  Aren't these children precious?

We are quite the crew!

The "triple threat"
The girls

Best buds

Sweet relationships
The beauty of the open road

We can't take a walk without the cows!
The milk man photo bomb! 


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.