Sunday, December 18, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

We have received many requests for our new address and inquiries as to where we are and what we are doing now.  It is time to fill you in because much has happened in our lives!

We  have now been back in the States for almost 18 months.  That doesn't seem possible, but as you all know, time marches on.  Our first  year back was spent seeking God's will for a new ministry, and there were many days that we wondered why He was not answering.  Dan was working in the Christmas trees and then as a car salesman, and even though some people are called to those things, we believe he was created to be in ministry.  He was able to minister to people in those settings also, and filled pulpit many times in that year.  As many of you know, we were in Lake City, Michigan during that time, in the same area that we had been in before we moved to Haiti.  After we settled there and began to have time with friends there and feel so well loved and cared for, we wondered if it had been a good idea because we were likely not staying.  Our children (and I, if I am honest) began to dread interviewing at other churches because we really wanted to stay where we were.  We continued to pray and to trust that God would lead us exactly where He wanted us, but it was hard.  

Fast forward to June which had us interviewing at a church in Kalkaska, Michigan just a mere 30 miles from Lake City.   In God's good providence Calvary Baptist Church of Kalkaska called Dan to be their pastor.  We love our new church family and we feel like we have the "best of both worlds".  We have old friends just down the road from us who know us well and can encourage and build us up and we have a new set of friends that we can enjoy getting to know and ministering to and with them.  We were able to commute from Lake City until we found a home and have now moved a little further "up north".  

And yes, we bought a house!  For the first time in our married life we are living in a home that we own.  We are all delighted and happy, if not a bit overwhelmed, with settling into life in the country.  The children all have animal plans and there was much debate over a horse pasture and a baseball field and it turns out that we have room for both.  We are so blessed.

Jadyn is now 15 and continues to love on her dog, Shiloh, enjoys rodeo, reading, and artistic endeavors.  Our second teenager, Gabe is 14 and loves soccer, baseball, and hunting.  Malachi and Isaiah also played baseball this summer and really enjoyed it.   At 9 and 10 years old they were each able to hunt a day with Dan, and they love the freedom to run and play on our property.  They beg Dan to play football every day when he gets home from work and he often complies.  All of the children are enjoying getting to know new friends and also enjoying time with friends they have known for years.  Zion Hope still thinks she is the princess of the family, even though she claims that she hates being the youngest.  She is in Kindergarten this year and I have to ask her to stop doing math and go play because she is so intent on finishing her book early.  She loves her new kitten and plays with it more than any of her toys.  

We all miss our life in Haiti.  We miss our kids and the ladies that did life with us.  We miss our Haitian friends and the international staff that lived at Children of the Promise with us.  We miss the simple way of life there.  We have been blessed to experience that culture and those people and we are forever changed.  We can't wait for the day that we will visit there again!  We have found that life is good and God is good wherever we are and He calls us to different places for different seasons and is always teaching and training us.  

We are still working on getting settled in our house so once again I did not take the time for a Christmas letter and photo so I thought this would suffice.  Maybe next year!  We invite you to join us this season in rejoicing because we have a Savior who came to this earth as a baby to live and suffer and die for us.  Praise Him, serve Him, love Him and adore Him!

In Christ, 
Dan, Holly, Jadyn, Gabriel, Malachi, Isaiah, and Zion Hope 

Friday, March 18, 2016

What I Learned

This week marks the week three years ago that we embarked on an adventure that changed our lives forever.  We arrived on Haitian soil with our family and began the process of falling in love with a country and a people that became family to us.  When remembering the good, we also think about the challenges.  That first month when we didn't have hot water and we were trying to convince our two year old that a cold shower was a good idea, waking up in the morning to people we could say good morning to, but not much more than that, seeing the needs of the Haitian people every day and really, truly wondering what was the best way to help, those are the things that cross my mind.    I  thought that on our three year anniversary we could share some things that we didn't know three years ago.

I didn't know I could love another child so deeply that was not biologically related to me and that I wouldn't have the chance to raise to adulthood.  I didn't know I could sweat so much.  I didn't know I could communicate my love for another person without truly comprehending their language.  I didn't know I could hurt so much for people and feel so helpless.  I didn't know how tired I could get of having other adults in my house every single day.  I didn't know I would love watching my children love on their "brothers and sisters" every day and grow so comfortable with so many children that were different from themselves in many ways.  I didn't know I could stay in my house or "neighborhood" without leaving for almost a month with no breaks.  I didn't know I would think it was cool to have my kids going on tarantula hunts.  I  didn't know how a tradition like taking ten children on a Saturday walk every week could be so loved and so hated at the same time.  (I loved the excitement and beauty and smiles….hated the heat and the sweat and the tantrums on the road with the whole village watching).  I didn't know how stressful it would be to never have privacy…living on campus and having no window panes, just screens.  t didn't know how beautiful worshipping God in two languages every night with children piled on me could be.  I didn't know I could love watching my husband try to make the aunts who lived with us laugh when they were having a bad day  (He almost always succeeded).  I didn't know my children would grow so attached to a country and a people that they wouldn't want to leave.  

We are still transitioning but there are fewer tears.  We can talk about memories and look at pictures and laugh.  We can remember and we pray for our friends and for adoptions and the country.

So many people are wondering about our future.  So are we!  We are still trusting that God has a plan and that He is using this time of waiting to grow us and prepare us for what He has for us next.  Yes, we have talked with churches.  Yes, we have been interested in ministries.  At this point, God has not said "Yes" to anything that we have considered.  We get discouraged at times and wonder about His plan, but He is faithful.  He is good.  A song that has become very precious to our entire family is one that is sung by Lauren Daigle.  It is entitled "Trust In You".  I will share the chorus, but then encourage you to listen to the entire song.  

When You don't move the mountains I'm needing You to move
When You don't part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don't give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

We continue to trust, and would love your prayers for peace and for wisdom, both for us and for our children.