2016 - A Year in Review
This past year started off with so many unknowns. This was the year that we thought we would be living back in the States, but we just didn't have a peace about moving back. However, we had no idea what our roles would be and what our days would look like in Haiti either. The Children's Village was running on a daily basis without the need of our help, (HUGE SUCCESS!) and even though we had our hand in many other projects, we just felt a little "lost."
Throughout the year, God confirmed that Haiti is where He wants our family for this time in our lives. We are so thankful for the blessings and joyful times as well as the hard times that brought us together as a family and made us stronger. I hope you enjoy looking over our past year as I share a few of our highlights from each month!
- JANUARY -
I started teaching two more missionary kids in January which brought our class up to 7 students in 6 different grades. This was a challenge, but such a blessing to be able to use my degree in a way that I never imagined!
We moved into a new house and we love it. It's a bit more up the mountain, out of the city, and definitely more peaceful. The kids love playing together. Here was a video I took when I caught them outside in the yard :)
- FEBRUARY -
We have all struggled with a few different sickness while in Haiti. Most of them, we were able to diagnose and treat. This month started with Jaron waking up with a very strange rash covering his ENTIRE body and a low grade fever. This lasted for about 24 hours and he woke up the next day very swollen. After that, a few hours later, he was pretty much back to normal. It was one of the weirdest "illnesses" we had seen so far.
Craig and I also helped to plan and moderate the semi-annual La Gonave Summit. This is a two and a half day event where many of the organizations who are working on the island come together to collaborate and learn from each other.
Morgan turned 10 this month! She and I went to Port au Prince for a mother-daughter date day to celebrate. We painted pottery and had lunch together. Then we went to the airport to pick up another present. She had no idea that Grandma was coming...it was a huge surprise and even though her plane was delayed a few hours, we pulled it off!
- MARCH -
This month, another missionary from the mainland brought his jetski all the way across to the island and gave the kids a turn tubing. It was a special treat!
We had two groups visit the children's village this month. The first group was our annual group from Indiana Wesleyan University. Each spring, a team of nursing students come and do a training on the Heimlich Maneuver and CPR with our house moms.
Our second team was from Fields Memorial Church in Kansas. They came and did a teacher training. They did a fantastic job!
- APRIL -
April brought three more teams. The first two worked together to build a new playground at the Children's Village. Jaron loved helping. I had to pull him away each day so that he could get to school. But, after school was done, he'd be back helping!
The team from Scotland also had a couple dentists. They screened each of the children from the village and then treated those who needed work.
The greenhouse also got a makeover this month. We were having trouble with the heat, so air vents were added as well as a sun screen.
- MAY -
In May, we made a trip to the States. We first went out to California to visit with a few of our partner churches. We had a chance to see the Golden Gate Bridge...and we FROZE!
We also made a stop at Cedar Point. The kids LOVED it. We made videos of the roller coasters to send to their friends back in Haiti :)
Then we arrived in Michigan. Another one of our partner churches spoiled us with gift cards for gas and restaurants, bought us a bunch of groceries and even threw a party to celebrate our kids. We felt so loved.
I also had a chance to spend the afternoon golfing with my brothers and dad.
- JUNE -
June started in the States. I was so thankful that I got to be there for the birth of my niece and spend lots of time getting snuggles in!
Then, we attended the wedding of our friends we met in Haiti. It just so happened that they were getting married about 3 hours away from where we were while we were visiting family in the States. It was a blessing to be able to spend time with Mati's parents too since no one else there spoke Creole.
When we returned back to Haiti, as a result of the sea salt and living by the sea for 5 years, our quad frame decided to bite the dust...quite literally. Thankfully we were able to find some Haitian welders who put it all back together and it's worked like a charm ever since!
- JULY -
Craig worked on many projects with local businesses this past year. He installed security systems, installed and trained people on new point of sale systems, and here, he is working with the pharmacy at the Wesleyan Hospital. He built a system for them to keep track of their inventory and sales. They were very thankful.
This month, we celebrated our 1000th day since moving to Haiti! What a ride...wouldn't change it for anything!!
July was a busy month. We had two visiting teams among many other things going on. The first team did some activities with the kids and house moms at the village. However, one of their team members, a massage therapist from South Carolina, started training four of our older girls in massage.
Our other July team came from Cornerstone Fellowship in California. After SO much planning, we took all of the kids ages 13-17 up to Cap Haitian in northern Haiti. It was a six hour bus ride. The kids got to spend two nights at a hotel and we visited Palace Sans Souci and the Citadel, two of Haiti's popular historical monuments.
This month was also a turning point for us in Haiti. In July, Craig accepted a job with Extollo International as their in-country director. It was such a blessing to see that God had something planned for our family and that we made the right decision to stay in Haiti. We are so thankful for this new job and all of the challenges and opportunities that it brings.
We also had some friends visit from the States. It's always so special when we can share a glimpse of our life with friends from back home. It was a great time of reconnecting and letting our kids get to know each other! Here's a video from one of our adventures while they were here.
- AUGUST -
This month, Craig and I celebrated our 14th anniversary!
A second team from Cornerstone Fellowship came and did a camp for the teenagers at the Children's Village. We also broke a record for how many people we've had in our new house :) The last day, we hiked up the mountain at 4am to overlook the city while we watched the sunrise.
The kids and I took a spontaneous trip back north to meet another baby cousin. We had a great time visiting with family and enjoying the fall weather of the midwest!
- SEPTEMBER -
September was a busy month at the Extollo Training Center. Craig spent most of the month on the island overseeing the electrical and concrete and forms training.
With Craig's new job on the mainland, crossing the sea has become a regular part of our week. Sometimes, the kids and I will cross two or three times.
- OCTOBER -
We started this month off with Hurricane Matthew. The predicted path showed to pass right over Haiti and our little island of La Gonave. We prepared as well as we could and tried to warn as many as possible, but then, we just sat and waited. We had a few extras at our house for about 3 days since the hurricane actually moved slower than expected and then the roads were too flooded for them to get home. In the end, the damage in our area was not as bad as we had anticipated and we were so thankful. However, there was significant damage in the southern part of the country.
After the hurricane was over, we got an email asking if we would be interested in talking with Michaela on CNN Headline News. I had written a blog that spread pretty quickly, and after a crazy 48 hours, we found ourselves skyping in from Haiti live on MichaeLA.
This month, we also welcomed a friend and her new baby into our home. She was a first time mom and her baby was born six weeks early. Jaron LOVED having a baby in the house to snuggle!
- NOVEMBER -
This month we had a belated Halloween celebration with some neighbor missionaries on the island.
We also spent a lot of time organizing and cleaning at the Training Center. We found lots of interesting things...
I was also offered a job with Extollo International as their Social Media Manager
Finally, one of the biggest things that happened this month was the creation of Morgan's project Mopaja. You can find out more about it on her website! We are very proud of Morgan and her heart and we are excited to see where this goes this next year. Here's a video of our first trip to Sous-Platon.
- DECEMBER -
We finished this year with a very busy month. Remember Essie, the massage therapist who came in July? Well, she came back for the second week of training with the girls from the orphanage. They did a great job and got lots of practice working on visitors who were staying at the guesthouse. Before Essie left, each girl was able to purchase things for her business and were given certificates of completion.
While Essie was on the island, we were also busy over at the Training Center. Extollo partnered with Kids Against Hunger for their first ever in country packing event.
Even though Craig is spending most of his time on the mainland, he is still busy and needed when he makes a trip to the island. He has been helping local small businesses with their computer and inventory systems. He usually gets a call within hours of returning to the island :)
We are so thankful for trustworthy employees who help keep our house going, especially now that we are traveling so much between the island and mainland. This month, we had a special Christmas party for our employees and their families. It was a lot of fun and awesome to see them so happy.
There is never a dull moment at the training center! Things continued to progress and the bulldozer came to grade more land this month.
We are forever grateful to all of you who support our family in so many ways. This year we have been stretched, learned a lot and received many blessings. Our prayer is that as we are blessed, we will be able to be even more of a blessing to others. We are so thankful that God has placed our family in Haiti for this time in our lives. Our kids are thriving. We are growing in many ways. We miss family and friends SO much, and we LOVE having visitors. If you and your family ever want to visit, we would love to have you!
I love the beginning of a new year. The fresh start that we all have. I want to leave you with words from Colossians. They are some of my favorite verses:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do,whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.