Sunday, July 16, 2017

A new trailhead

As I believe we are all innately wired to explore the vastness of His creation and wonders, the emotions of these journeys are just as adventurous.  As I venture to seek His breathe from valley floors to towering vistas, from the greatest of seas to the smallest of meandering streams, I often ramble through a strange series of self talk that is just as confusing as it is liberating.  Whether following blazes down a well-weathered path or bushwhacking my way to unknown fortunes, the flood of voices press on and fight for traction in my soul.  I inhale a breath of fresh air glittered with smells of pines, cedars and the morning bloom. I’m excited to know my cell has no service and is merely a camera to capture a glimpse of a larger story, all the while I worry if I will need my cell to call in some imagined horrifying accident.  I doubt my own physical ability to achieve the task at hand, while I’m overcome with joy as my kids fearlessly conquer the trail and boulders in our path.  Even among the shouts of victory and bliss I play through strange scenarios of survival and rescue.  The laughter is as precious as the cooling breeze.  The questions of God and life are welcomed just as much as the swashbuckling stick sword fights, a princess fortress high upon a rock that has weathered storms we can not fathom, and the embrace that comes when the bravery and excitement of a new adventure overshadows the abilities of my children and a skinned knee tries to tear the tapestry of this present joy. 

Since leaving Haiti in early March we have been like gypsies blowing in the wind.  This time of freedom and exploration has flowered rest and peace within our hearts and minds.  From the frost covered valley floor of Yosemite, to the snow angels of the Eastern Sierras (our Caribbean skin did not fair too well to the mounds of ice and snow), to the vast and rolling Atlantic Coast, our family has laughed, cried and explored our way to a better place.  Not that Haiti wasn’t our place; it is just that no matter the length, every journey has an end; each trail reaches its peak.  With anxious hearts and clouded minds we obediently exited Haiti to venture an open road with no ending in site.  Whether exploring the oddities of Joshua Tree with adventurous friends or sitting under the awning of an RV as smells of coffee, bacon and the spring rain fill the air, our souls rested in anticipation of what was to come.  Times of painful quiet, wrestling with bi-polar like prayer and the consultation of those that have lived life ahead of what we can see, we now see a new sign.  A new trailhead waits.  And this new trailhead that awaits my family and I is no different than those wandered before.  Of course, the scenery looks different and the language on our ears has a comforting tone, we have arrived and the voices rain. 

Your continued support and prayers have allowed and blessed our gypsy bandwagon beyond words.  We are forever grateful for the steadfast faith in our family and God’s adventurous call for our family.  From the initial move to Haiti with nothing more than a few suitcases and a few faithful friends to the massive mission compounds of Hands and Feet Project, we sought to fully embrace the tattered Haitian trail.  With much exploration and hardened work behind us, we can joyfully and confidently say we served well and thank you for journeying with us. 

As we have begun to slowly meander down our new trail in the east we want to share, so that you too may rejoice in the shining splendor of our new course.  With sand between our toes and the warm, comforting sun shining overhead, we now call Jacksonville Beach, FL home.  I find it interesting to find myself back in the state for which I was born, but did not hold fast to any ties.  As we begin to settle and explore the new sites and sounds we are thankful for an interesting sense of peace and home.  With a new position at Beach Church as the Serve Pastor (aka Missions Pastor) we have a new church family to embrace and grow with.  We prayerfully seek community, which we so desperately lacked in Haiti, and find comfort in our family trips to the sea.  These short bike rides to our new sand and shore offer us some sense of familiarity as we found in Haiti, yet also offer new opportunities for joy.  Moving came with the normal frustrations, pains and miles of the seemingly endless interstate, but we are here now and we are well. 

So as the journey has begun, those familiar and unsettling voices begin to stir of doubt, inadequacy and wonder.  Am I good enough, qualified enough, will I be accepted? Have the previous trails hardened my heart beyond what I know?  The all too familiar chatter continually burdens my soul within.  However contorting this inner speech is, I also believe it is liberating and mending.  So as we walk our new shores, worship in His house and seek new friends, we rejoice in our continued opportunity to serve Him.      


 Again, we thank and value those of you that have faithfully journeyed with us over the past years of tears and triumphs.   And though our trail is different today we rejoice in knowing our friends will journey with us regardless of where this new trailhead may lead us.   



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The road ahead.

One of our family's sayings is, “The answer is yes Lord, but what’s the question.”  No matter where we live we want to be on a mission for Jesus.  We could not begin to share all of the amazing adventures we have experienced while serving in Haiti.  We are so thankful for each trial and victory as we walked whole-heartedly in what we believe God was calling us to.  The journey has been truly amazing.  

“Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that."  James 4:13-15



2017 will be an adventure for sure, just of a different nature.  After much prayer and counsel we have decided its time for our family to transition out of Haiti and our full time role with Hands and Feet Project.  God started to show our family through mentors, conversations, the condition of our hearts, and the Spirits leading that change was coming our way.  The Lord revealed to us areas of our life that we were choosing to suppress while continuing to work with our heads down and full steam ahead.  The spiritual and emotional community needs of our family are the driving factors in this decision.  As these thoughts and feelings came to light we fought and struggled, but thankfully through counsel, prayer and our community from afar, we are brought to a place where making this choice for our family is exactly what God had in store for us.  With this, we are returning to the states to seek the community we are designed for, need, and desire at this stage in our life. 

We are still partnered with HAFP through this transition and working together to get our family back to the states for a healthy reentry.  Like with most transitions, they take time, so we are working with our leadership to help create a transition plan that will set our family up to succeed, as well as those that we have worked beside in Haiti for so long.  We have repeatedly told our Haitian staff how much we love them, Haiti and Hands and Feet and that no one is at fault for the decision we have made.  We are solely seeking to place our family’s needs first, and nothing else.     

Our departure from Haiti is scheduled to take place March 9th. (WOW, that’s really tough to actually put on paper and finalize to the world.)  Upon reentry we will treat the first month or so as a normal furlough.  As we continue to seek a new place and a new life in the states, we will remain a part of the HAFP team helping as needed and as we can during this transition.  We have been loved and taken care of by our HAFP family and want to do our best to finish well.  Our long-term future with HAFP is currently undetermined as we are praying through and discussing what God has planned for us upon our return.  To be honest, we are taking blind and faithful steps as we reenter the states, just as we did when we entered Haiti not so long ago. 

We are excited about our return and the journey ahead.  Our family is wading through our emotions as best we can.   Fear, excitement, anxiousness, sadness and joy, as we look forward to the change, but mourn the loss of our precious time and connections in Haiti. 

So as we share this life changing, tear jerking, excitement filled news we have something to ask from you; our family, friends and partners in this amazing adventure. 

1.     Please pray for our family, staff, HAFP kids, fellow missionaries, neighbors and friends as we all prepare for the coming transition.  For our family we are not only running to something, but also leaving those around us, and for those we pray God fills the void like only He can.  
2.     For those of you that are our current financial supporters, please prayerfully consider continuing your gifts through June, as we remain employed by Hands and Feet while we navigate this transition. 
3.     Please pray that the Lord would grant us wisdom and clarity for the unseen road ahead.
4.     Since our long-term future with HAFP is still up in the air and dependent on many factors, regarding what is best for our family we ask for some assistance.   With this uncertainty, we ask that if you know of any opportunities for Sean, please let us know.  We have made so many valued friendships and connections over the years and are praying that the Lord will use this network to help plant our family right where he wants us.  
5.     And now for the fun one.  We want to take a road trip.  A big, long one and we may be able to see you along the way.   Nothing is set in stone, but we want to hit the road to enjoy some much-needed family time, see America and see some of you in person.  With this, as we transition back to America and hit the road please know we welcome your communication and contact.  If you see that we are in your neck of the woods, please let us know.  We don’t make any promises as this is a time dedicated to our family, but we definitely want to make an effort to see those of you that have partnered with us while we answered God’s call for our family to serve in Haiti.   

We trust that this is not a “good bye” to Haiti, but a “see you later”.  With excitement and anticipation we wait to see what the Lord has in store. 




Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016 Wrap Up

Well it's a new year, as 2016 has closed it's doors.  God continued His provision and care for our family as we pressed forward with our call to serve in Haiti.  We are thankful for the many things we have been able to do and be apart of over the past year because of His grace and guidance and from the generous support of you, our valued partners.  As we wrapped up 2016 we began to think of some of the highlights that we could share with you.  This is obviously a small snap shot of our time, but we pray it offers you a glimpse into your participation in our lives.  

Above all we want to say thank you and offer our gratitude for all the continued prayers and support for our journey while serving here in Haiti with Hands and Feet Project.

·      Hosted and facilitated over 25 groups coming to visit and serve in Haiti, at the growing Ikondo Mission Guest Village. 

An amazing week with our friends from Ride Nature!

Team Host - Joel & Fan Fan with Sheeven & Sean at Devil's Teeth overlook in Jacmel. 
Hope City group excursion to Kokoye Beach.



·      Loved and encouraged our very energetic interns over the year that came to serve along side us for 2-3 month increments.  We hosted eight interns over the course of 2016.

Cloie & Lyvie.
Jasmine loving on our Addyx.

Interns Kyle, Caleb & Parker with Chadieu, Louines, Odlin & Canes on a Ikondo mountain trail. 
Lindsey the Intern with the GG crew.


·      Welcomed Jessica, our newest staff member to the Ikondo HAFP team. 





·      Hosted specialty trips, that included two all-inclusive Audio Adrenaline led trips, while the group explored and served Haiti along side the band.  





·      Held the annual Village Values event at Ikondo with Derek Minor closing out the evening in style with an amazing concert. 

Jean Baptiste and Derek Minor headed out to check out Gran Gwav.


·      The challenging, but restorative process of our oldest HAFP young adult transitioning to life outside HAFP.  

Will McGinniss, HAFP Board President, Jean Baptiste & Sean at our time of prayer for JB.


·      Walking with our dear friends, Ti Papa and Manouchka, as they welcomed another baby into this world with fear and anxiety, but rejoiced as our God moved on their behalf.  This sweet baby girl is a true picture of redemption for this couple that lost their first child.  Dyeni is happy, healthy and cute as can be!

Dyeni - December 25


·      Continuing to work side by side with the Sutton’s to build and grow our Children’s Village, through training our local employees to rise up and take the lead.  Walking with the staff and children throughout the year as they continue to grow into their God given potential.  

Pastor Manyol, Madam Marie, Tony & Immacula participating in some games at our annual Christmas party. 

Madam Pelio, LaPaix, Samuel & Nerlande performing at the Christmas party. 
  

·      Haiti Made’s continued success and steady work flow.  The staff's continued pursuits of learning new tools and techniques to improve and grow Haiti Made is truly amazing and inspiring.

Sova showing off the crew's backpack experiment project.  

Milla, Madam Edon, Immacula, Mireille, Sova, Fira, Michel, Luc Sony & Jhonny at our annual staff appreciation lunch.  


·      The construction crews and their endless work to complete the ongoing construction of the future Mission Guest Village and finishing up the construction projects at our Children’s Village, under the leadership of Andrew and Stephen.

Ikondo fly over 


·      Jen and the kids are struggling well as they continue to press forward with home school. 

       



·       One of our focuses this past year, and will continue to be as we move forward, is to build up and entrust our local leadership team.  To name a few… our beloved mother hen, Madam Renord; the always smiling and deeply passionate, LaPaix; the diligent, quiet and oh so kind, Merlande; everyone’s friend, Samuel; and the newest to the group, our joyful and faithful driver, Pelio.  Prayers for this group over the coming year as they continue to grow in responsibility and in stature! 

Samuel and some of the GG boys getting ready for a dance performance.  

Pelio

Merlande, Madam Pelio, Samuel & LaPaix


·      Survived Hurricane Matthew as a “City on a Hill” as we opened up our Ikondo campus as a space of safety and refuge.



         
Medjine(Samuel's little girl), Audelin, Major, Kettia & Benel cleaning up debris in Thozin. 


Another Ikondo neighbor left with very little.  
        


·      Enjoyed another Christmas in Grand Goave with our HAF family and neighbors.  Because of your continued support we were able to bless 3 families with a few weeks worth of food and provisions as well as some gifts for our beloved neighbors.    
         

Michlen, Sean & Farah with their Christmas gifts. 

Maj and some of the GG boys showing off some Christmas prizes.  

Here is to a New Year, a new journey and many more memories to come! 

As I write this I ask for extra prayers for Major, Beckett and myself as it appears we are starting 2017 off with the Zika virus or some other junk.  Zika was so Haiti 2016, but I guess it wanted to make another run.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Haiti Made Showcase - Sova

Job creation is one of the most profound ways to help break the poverty cycle and you have the opportunity to play a vital role in the “Circle of Trade."  Providing dignified work opportunities in a safe and loving environment, brings joy and excitement to our family.  The Haiti Made team has grown into an extension of our family and watching them grow in skill and stature fills us with hope for the future of Haiti.  Sova (featured below) is stepping into an amazing leader, craftsman and disciple of Jesus.  He’s leadership, management and creativity is helping take Haiti Made to the next level.  We pray that his effort and that of our team will continue to grow Haiti Made and continue to bless the families of those in our community.  

If you see something on the website that strikes your fancy, please buy it!  If not, then please help share our story of change and stay tuned as we are always exploring new products.  

Hey Friends
The best orphan care strategy begins with a fight to keep families together. And the fight for family starts with sustainable, dignified jobsJoin the fight and help create jobs by shopping Haiti Made as Christmas approaches. New items available now!

Meet Sova:Long-term Haiti Made employee 
Sova has been with us for almost 3 years. We sat down with him to hear the impact this job has made (translated below): 

"My job at Haiti Made allows me to pay for my own school, plus support 8 people in my family. Before Haiti Made, I was in school but could not find work. I enjoy making our leather products, and also working on developing new products."

Sova and his brother Johnny working on leather products.
Introducing:Kreye Journal 
The Kreye Journal, named of the Creole for 'to create', is a softbound leather journal cover complete with an elastic band that helps to bind and secure your most important creative and organizational endeavors. Fits 2 Moleskine journals (included).
SHOP NOW
What's New:Website redesign, popular products back in stock, cheaper shipping 
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The Hand and Feet + Haiti Made Team
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