Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Family Update...

As the year 2015 comes to a close, we wanted to give you a little update on our family!

As always, we've had a busy year of ministry in Haiti, so we were appreciative of some opportunities to serve together and rest and play together. 

It had been a while since our whole family had been out in the country with a team. In June, we were able to join a group from Harper Church in Port Orchard, Washington to visit their sister church in Les Irois, Haiti. It was about an 8 hour drive to the westernmost tip of Haiti. For Becky, Tessa and Braden, it was their first time seeing that part of the country (Grand d'Anse region). We really enjoyed serving together as a family and were thankful to be a part of that team's ministry in Les Irois.

This wasn't a furlough year for us, so we chose to spend our vacation time in the Dominican Republic. We drove with another family to Puerto Plata, DR (a looooong 15 hour drive) and enjoyed 10 days at a resort there. It was really refreshing to get away as a family, rest, and enjoy the pool with our friends. Then we drove to the capital city, Santo Domingo and explored the city for 1.5 days. There we were in awe of US chain restaurants, a shopping mall and the infrastructure. It was hard to believe that we were still on the same island as Haiti. One of favorite parts of the trip was doing a walking tour of the historic section of Santo Domingo. As the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the Americas, there was much to see.

This year, for the first time in our kids lives, we spent Thanksgiving with our families in NJ. Our oldest niece (and flower girl, yikes!) got married the day after Thanksgiving so we made it a priority to be there for the big event. Becky's 97-year-old grandfather had passed away a few weeks before, so we were also able to be there for his funeral service.

Rob continues to be Field Director.  This means leading and managing all initiatives, projects and staff.  This means facility, project, administrative, and team development.  There is NEVER a down moment as the work to be done never stops.  Some of this latest projects were related to leadership development, QuickBooks support and report development, web development, conversion from Google Drive to Office 365, church partnership development, etc etc.  The list certainly goes on.  He continues to feel like God is using his abilities for the advancement of the kingdom.

Becky continues to be responsible for RMI Hospitality and Bookkeeping. In addition, she volunteers as Chair of the School Board for the kids' school. In September, she also added second grade teacher (devotions, math, and science or social studies) to her list of responsibilities. This task has been challenging but Braden enjoys having Mommy for a teacher each day for an hour and a half. She still enjoys digital scrapbooking and has fun playing basketball and volleyball once a week.

Drew is 10 years old and is in the 5th grade. He enjoys playing football and Minecraft with his friends. When he's not doing those things, you're likely to find his nose in a book and considers the Narnia book series his favorite. He still really enjoys creating things with Legos and likes to have 'creation marathons' with his friends. We've appreciated seeing him grow in maturity this year.

Tessa is 9 years old and in 4th grade. She loves playing on her Ripstik, playing with her Lego Friends creations and refuses to let me cut her hair. She enjoys games and is the one Becky can count on to play games with. Our little girl who liked princesses, unicorns, and pink and purple is gone and she has grown into a young lady who likes anything involving dolphins, horses and the color turquoise.

Braden is 7 years old and in 2nd grade. He's still as silly and sweet as ever and loves cuddles and kisses from anyone in his family who will offer it. He's having to learn to ask his brother and sister if he can hug them, as not everyone in the family appreciates his snuggly nature. Our dog, Jersey, is still his favorite non-human thing in the world and we know that if we can't find Braden, we just need to find Jersey and there he will be. He loves reading, Minecraft and playing with friends.

We pray you have a wonderful Christmas wherever you find yourself and may your New Year be full of the hope that comes with a relationship with Jesus!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

One Lord, One Faith, One Church...

I recently had the opportunity to spend 5 days at the MEBSH Church in Ducis, Haiti, with a team from their Sister Church, The Village Church, from Bartlett, Illinois.  It was truly incredible to see how God can bring brothers and sisters together, in a long term partnership, and make them ONE.

How can this happen when there are SO MANY DIFFERENCES between us?
How can this happen in a world SO DEEPLY DIVIDED?
How can this happen with SO MANY MILES (literally and figuratively) between us?

Jesus.  The unity wasn't superficial.  It wasn't cursory. It wasn't fake, forced, or manufactured. It was genuine love and unity developed over time because or our mutual love for Jesus and what he calls us to together.
"I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment." 1 Corinthians 1:10
These 2 churches have had a LONG partnership.  True relationships have developed.  We here are RMI are proud of what we have been able to facilitate between these 2 bodies.

Yes, there are differences, but Jesus brings us together.

Praying together.
Enjoying one another.
Awana in action.
Delivering food to the hungry.

Walking to the home of a new mom and infant son
to encourage and deliver food.
Our Team.

Discipline of Silence and Stillness...

Stillness and silence allow for the presence of God and reorientation of life.
Does the volume of your life allow for the presence of God?

Greatest Obstacles to Silence and Stillness…

Fear, Addictions (Tech, Social Web, Entertainment Choices), Pursuits, Work Task List, Home Task List, Over-Commitment, Lack of Boundaries.

It's almost like we are addicted to noise itself.  We must remember, we have the ability to adjust the the volume.

Why be Silent and Still...
  • To Hear From God… Psalm 40:6 – ““Ears you have dug for me.” He literally dug holes in our head through which His Word can pass to the heart and mind.
  • To Talk to God… Jesus himself was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Matthew 4:1), “went out to a desolate place” (Mark 1:35; Luke 4:42), and “went up on the mountain by himself to pray . . . alone” (Matthew 14:23).
  • To Worship God…Psalm 46:10 (ESV) “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
  • To Wait/Trust/Hope Upon God… Exodus 14:14 (ESV) "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Psalm 62:1 (ESV) "For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation or My hope is in Him."
  • To be Changed by God and To Reorient Our Compass…   Job 38… God says "Enough Talking!" ...Who are you, where were you, who do you think U are? Job’s response… 40:4 “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I LAY MY HAND ON MY MOUTH.”
R Kent Hughes writes that being still and silent before God is like “time exposure to God. Our souls function like photographic plates the more we expose our lives to the white-hot sun of his righteous life, the more His image will be burned into our character. His love, his compassion, his truth, his integrity, his humility…”

Practical Helps...
  1. Preparation – Take time to make a plan.
  2. Place – Find a good place where you are alone and can be quiet.
  3. Time – Find a good time that works with no distraction.  Consider a daily retreat, monthly retreat, and an annual retreat.

Do You Have Worms?

Stop and think about that for a minute. If you live in the US, is intestinal worms a disease you have to even concern yourself with? Do you watch your kids, who already don't get enough to eat on a regular basis, suffer from a constant cough, diarrhea, lack of energy, and inability to focus? These intestinal parasites are a common worry for many rural families here in Haiti, most of whom don't have even the education to understand how to prevent themselves from getting this disease and who don't have the means to see a doctor to treat this disease.

For the fourth year in a row, we've been able to make yearly deworming a regular part of our Hope For Kidz (HFK) child sponsorship program. At the end of November, all school directors of the 50 schools we have the HFK program in, came to the RMI office for what is now a regular meeting and distribution of deworming medication. They have already been trained to teach worm prevention to each classroom and how to administer the medication. They come to RMI's office each year for a refresher on procedures and to receive the medication for their schools. I love hearing stories of gratefulness and appreciation for the impact this program is having in their schools.

One of the things I love about this program is that it's not just for the sponsored kids at the school. If there is to be any impact on the prevalence of worms in the school and community, it's important that ALL students and teachers are treated. This year we distributed meds to treat 16,914 students and teachers.

I'm excited to see this program flourish over the last few years and know that I've had a small part in making it happen. If you sponsor a HFK child, a small portion of your donation went toward worm treatment for your student and many others in your child's school. Thank you.


Becky and Star Preparing Meds
Becky and Patrick Leading the Seminar

Wait, What? Becky's Teaching?

You may have noticed, but I (Becky) have been fairly silent on the blog lately. It's not that I have nothing to write about, it's mostly that I haven't had much time to put into it. I just have had too much on my plate.

Most of you know I fill two roles at RMI: that of hospitality coordinator and bookkeeper. Both jobs keep me busy and engaged in the ministry of RMI here in Haiti. Two years ago, I was asked to join the school board for our kids' school, Cite Lumiere Christian School (CLCS) and a year ago took additional responsibilities as the Chair of the Board. This role is completely voluntary. I really love our little school and our kids have really thrived in this learning environment.

One of the biggest challenges we face as a Board is finding teachers willing and able to serve. In order to keep costs low, we ask teachers to raise support as a missionary. These teachers have had a huge impact on our kids! This year, we weren't able to find a teacher to teach our second graders and it has required some creative thinking to cover this class and at the same time continue a good quality of education. We were so thankful to have a previous teacher agree to return to teach the language arts portion of the class for two hours a day (she had recently had a baby and did not want to return full time.) The solution was to find a teacher to teach the other subjects for the rest of the school day. For me, that meant taking on teaching from 8-9:30 every day. I start the day with devotions and then teach math and, depending on the quarter, either science or social studies. Teaching has never been something in my wheelhouse, but math and science is. It's been a huge challenge for me but I enjoy it most days. I think Braden likes having me as his teacher! Another RMI missionary, Tina Nunemaker, has been a great help to close out the last hour and a half of the day to teach Bible and other "specials" for our second grade class.

We just recently found out that the teacher who was teaching the second graders language arts has to return to the States unexpectedly. Thankfully, the Lord provided another teacher able to take her place starting in January for the rest of the year. Please pray for her and our students. Sometimes transition is hard, especially for 7 and 8-year-olds.

We also recently received the news that Mr and Mrs Ferris, a teacher couple who has carried CLCS for 15 school years, will be returning to the States at the end of this school year. This leaves our school without any teachers for the 2016-17 school year. We are already working hard to recruit teachers. I'm not going to lie: as the School Board Chair, this feels like a huge burden, a huge need, and it will affect our whole family in a big way. I'm trusting that God has a plan and that He will show up in a bigger way. He knows my heart for these kids, not just my three, but all the kids and families CLCS serves: for a quality Christian, English education in a school setting that will prepare our kids for integration back in the US when the time comes.

Please pray for me as I continue teaching these second graders in addition to my responsibilities with RMI. Please also join with us in prayer as we search for teachers for next school year.


2015-2016 Teachers and Cite Lumiere Christian School

Through My Lens...

I've dreamed of being a professional photographer.  It's ok to dream right?  But, I am quite certain that day will never arrive. Why? Well, first, and maybe most important, I am up to my eyeballs is other endeavors.  Second, I honestly have SO MUCH to learn about photography.  Yet, I have a ton of desire to keep learning and shooting when I can (which frankly, isn't often).

See an album of all my "Favorites" here.

Taken in Ducis, Haiti during a Church Partnership visit.

Taken during a Water Installation project in Picot, Haiti.

Taken from a boat off the coast of Zanglais, Haiti.