17 February 2018

retreat

We safely arrived late Sunday night at the resort where we were staying, and the best part is that all your meals are included.  We spend so much time planning for meals and making food in Haiti that this aspect alone is a huge blessing.  Unfortunately, several of us always get sick in the DR eating different foods prepared differently, and this trip was no exception...but after getting so sick at a DR resort over Christmas, Matt and I were ridiculously picky about what we ate and all five came through unscathed.  

This is a big, beautiful team, isn't it!?  Most of these missionaries here are OMS Haiti missionaries...one OMS couple came from Oregon to lead the adult sessions, one family came from one of our home churches in New Jersey to lead the kid sessions, and one family are EBS missionaries.  The majority of the above missionaries work at Cowman International School down the road, and also one at Bethesda Clinic, one with Starfish kids, one in finance, a few with teams and maintenance and a few with ECC, Mercy, ....I think that covers everyone.  At any rate, we all get together once a week for an hour of prayer, but that means most of the time our lives are all over the place. It was a joy to get together for a few days and spend lots of time in Bible study and prayer and resting together.

One of the highlights was on Valentine's day, our last night.  Beautifully, Kristen and RJ and their daughter Gracie took ALL the kids to dinner...
...which means that we got to sit and eat at one of the resort "restaurants" without kiddos with Brett and Angie, Dave and Marilyn. What precious time being served with these couples and talking about the past and present and future, our kiddos, funny cultural stories, challenges and praises.  It was great and this good time together, not working together, was probably the highlight of retreat for me.  
Sessions together were good and solid times of study and prayer, and we also got to have family meals with lots of people we don't usually get to, without having to cook!  Praising the Lord.

The other highlight is always just good time with the girls, not trying to do French homework, not trying to homeschool, not trying to do dishes and put away laundry, but just talking and listening. You don't sleep well all in one bedroom, and you don't relax well in a van or bus for crazy long hours, but you can LISTEN well, and these girls love to talk :)   Love them, and thankful for this required time away to focus some on them!
We also got to do some shopping one afternoon (missionaries from Haiti can SHOP till they DROP when finally given a chance :) and that 15 passenger van came in useful again!
We're not going to talk about travel home day, but EBS started back up Thursday, so yesterday was a big catch up day for us and then Matt is currently teaching in our weekend program (he's got the next five Saturdays!) Emily usually leads English Chapel on Friday, but she stayed in the DR for an extra day, and the students did an AWESOME job leading...really fun hearing the songs they picked and the arrangements they made to give them a more Haitian sound!  Carol Folkeringa (our main finance guru) and Karen (Emily's mama) got here yesterday, so we're catching up on laundry and school-work and finances and getting ready for EBS board meetings the last week of February!  

Happily-Sadly, we also had to see Bill off during retreat, soon to be followed by Julie and the boys.  They are back to Canada to start and see through the adoption of a precious little boy.  It's killing us to lose them right now (or ever) but we're excited about this clear calling on their lives and grateful to do whatever we can to help make it possible.  Hopefully the predicted amount of time will be shorter, the doors will be wide open, and we're praying for lots of healing and redemption and beauty as Jacob is hemmed into their family.

We also received the official letter today for our accreditation, and Emmaus has been granted accreditation for the longest term possible, five years, starting January 1st, 2018.  Whoo-hoo!



16 February 2018

church and culture

First!   Before we ever went on retreat, we had an awesome, truly special last morning with the team from New Bedford Church!  I do wish it hadn't started so early (6:30 am departure) and hadn't included 12 people, all their bags, and all our bags for retreat in one 15 passenger van (I really should have gotten a picture, but was thoroughly buried.)  But we made it to Elizay's church, right on the water by the airport, by the time the service started at 7:10.
Seven-ten seems early until you realize how hot the cement and tin structure on the water gets inside (wish beautiful cloth covering all the windows and air circulation)...by the time the service finished at 9:30 we were pretty drenched!  It was a great service, however, and I was so glad to be all worshiping together.  That just always strikes me as special when we have people from outside of Haiti here.  Blending cultures and languages in worship is just something heavenly.
I'm never aware of how culturally Matt preaches until I'm trying to translate his preaching for a group of people from my culture.  Explaining what his stories and examples mean, culturally, always makes me happy that they are well understood and appreciated by the culture he's there to share the Gospel with!  This day he outlined some of the necessities of salvation that are often entirely passed over...probably different elements often passed over in our home culture.  
We really did love having these guys with us...and being at New Bedford this summer will be all the more fun :)  THANK YOU all for coming!  We took them to a quick breakfast in town and then off to the airport, and were on the long road to the DR by 11:30!
The first of the board members start arriving today, so I'm off to start supper, but I'll get to retreat next!


15 February 2018

You know those days when you’re really glad at the end of it that you DIDN’T know at the beginning of it what all it was going to entail?  It was one of those.  But it’s over, and we’re safely home again, and everybody somehow kept their grace, and the children are dirty and not well nourished but safely somehow in their beds, and I’m grateful...thank you Jesus, and for another “adventure” to forget for a while until it’s funny :)

I’m totally adventured out and sore and off to bed, but I’ll have a good summary of retreat and some pix up tomorrow, and’ll be back to blogging with internet!  







12 February 2018

I don’t think we’ll probably EVER attempt driving and hiking a team to the top of the Citadel, team dinner of homemade pizza, 6:30 am church departure with 3 girls who needed their hair done and all still don’t think they need shoes, then 12 people, coolers and suitcases and homemade bagels packed into the van, 7:10 service with translating and  Matt Ayars preaching, brunch with the team back in town, everyone to the airport and then, driving 7 hours and border crossing in a 15 passenger van with 3 littles and a pregnant lady in the rain to a place we’ve never been all in one weekend again.  Never again.  But we did.  And He brought us safely and we are showered and in beds and I’m thankful and thankful for your prayers!

10 February 2018

go, go, go!

After visiting and relation-shipping and preaching at New Bedford Presbyterian Church  so many times the last 12 years, it was really neat this week to have Pastor Doug actually preach at "our church" here at Emmaus...



It's been very special indeed having this team here, visiting with us and with Autumn!
Today was their last day, and they grand-finaled with the Citadel. Matt, Jodenel (staff) and Maurice (third year), and Lily and Sofie of course, took them, and they all had an awesome (albeit very l-o-n-g and exhausting) day!  



I love this one.  They insisted that they were "freezing" up there, so they were keeping each other warm :)  Thin blooded blondies!

Matt says that just because everybody jumps off the cliff doesn't mean he's going to :)  

They left at 8 and got home around 4:30, then Nora and I fed them all pizza and sent everyone to bed!

This morning at 4:30 am the rest of our EBS/OMS team left for the Dominican for OMS annual spiritual retreat, and so she and I spent the day trying to pack up for our family.  Tomorrow morning we leave with the team at 6:30, get to Pastor Elizay's church for the 7:10 service, then get them some brunch and off to the airport and then we also head for the DR to meet up with our team.

I'm not going to lie...Nora didn't help much.

They made good time today, but that was between 7-8 hours...Tomorrow is going to be an incredibly long day.  Would you do me a favor and be praying for us?  Not much makes me nervous, but I must admit to not feeling too good about making such a long journey on our own across two countries without anyone else to help with driving after such an exhausting last couple of days (who am I kidding...it's been a crazy few weeks!) A seven hour car trip in Haiti and the DR are not like a 7 hour car trip at home, and we would really appreciate extra travel prayers for tomorrow.  (Shelley, you have to stop telling me travel horror stories!!!) We've talked and prayed through our other options and none of them are great, either...so....we're going to do our best...and maybe need to stop calling it "retreat" :) 

Thank you for your prayers, and all your grace and love for our family.  


09 February 2018

bringing it in

My 'one day at a time' theory (I'm pretty sure I'm not the one who came up with that theory, by the way :), has been working well.  I did not account for Nora having a terrible chest cold that has had us up a ridiculous number of times every night, but aside from one-day-at-a-time with little sleep, it's been so good!
I'm always so shocked at how much Emily enjoys running teams...not because the people aren't so lovely and encouraging, but because there are SO SO many details behind arranging all the preparation, all the travel, transportation, food, translators, housing, activities, etc.  It's a LOT of work to do WELL, which is the only way we want to do it! One of the many things Emily does so well with teams is that when they're here, she puts all her time and energy in to it...and that's where my struggle is!

God's truly made my first calling our staff and students, and that's where I love spending my time and energy...but to add on 15 new and old American friends these last couple of days has truly been a joy. NOT a sustainable joy (all future teams are back to Emily :), but a joy, and I've been honored to work with our Crosspoint and New Bedford Churches this week!

It makes sense, being wired such, that my favorite things to do with teams is mesh with them with our staff and students.  

That's meant that all of their meals this week have been together with our students, and Wednesday that meant having them tour the seminary through the perspectives and opinions of Leme, Simeon and Jodenel, and then spending some time with Matt talking about all they've been seeing and about EBS.
 
And though they were working alongside several other ministries all day Thursday, Thursday evening that meant getting to put everyone together to chat for an hour, work on their common-ish language, and get to know each other!  It's always so fun to watch everyone learning from each other, giving grace, sharing lots of laughter and spending some time praying for one another.
Doesn't get any better than that!








Today the team splits in two, half working at Bethesda Clinic this morning then heading to the airport, and the other half split in two again, working at Children of the Promise or around EBS, Pastor Doug preaching in chapel today, a bonfire this evening and then everyone off for the Citadel tomorrow, much to Lily and Sofie's delight.  The girls have been adoring these teams, learning sign language, celebrating a birthday, loving a few new toys and books, and they are just so quick to make friends.  Life in Haiti has definitely worked the shy out of both of them.

Thankful for all the different ways, and all that different people, God works and uses for His glory to bring people to himself.  

06 February 2018

one day at a time!

This really is the craziest week we could have imagined :)  I kicked back off teaching on Monday and remembered that I love it.  So much work.  So much time.  So many other things that feel pressing to be doing.  But I get back with our students for a few hours and enjoy it deeply.  I have 25 in English 2, 75% EBS students and 25% externs coming in just for English.

We have a couple visiting from Nigeria, so we've spent some good time getting to know them and showing them around, and then tomorrow, they go, the girls have school, Matt and I both teach (English 4 for me and Psalms for Matt), and at 11 our double team of 15 flies in from Northwest Haiti for a few days.  The rest of our OMS team leaves on Saturday at 6 am for retreat in the Dominican, trying to beat major Mardi Gras celebrations Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and we take the team to the Citadel instead.

Sunday, we take the team to a 7:10 church service at a little church one of our staff pastors, then to brunch, then to the airport, then drive all the way to Puerta Plata to meet up with our OMS team...hopefully somehow avoiding major Mardi Gras celebrations?  Hmmmm.

It's a good week for one day at a time.  Very thankful for our Haitian kitchen staff covering all the week day cooking, and for all our EBS staff helping with everything from tours to making beds to going along to the Citadel!

Our dear friend Autumn, also from both of these visiting churches, is an Occupational Therapist in NW Haiti, and is bringing the team and spending a few days as well, and I'm looking forward to some time with her, too!  She's in Haiti pretty frequently, but it's rare to get good time with her being so far away (think 7 hour bus ride, then 2 hour bus ride).
SO, pray for us as we do take one day at a time and for all of the travel with and without the team during this extra crazy season in Haiti.  Pray for our students with us as they prepare youth retreats and special services in their churches preparing for Lent (and trying to offer alternatives to incredibly carnal celebrations this next week) and pray for everybody's safety!  THANK YOU!

05 February 2018

summer speaking...

Quick search--

We have one Sunday the six weeks we'll be Stateside this summer that we are not yet speaking/preaching/sharing at a church! We're going to be around the DE, NJ, Eastern PA area. Normally, our answer to the question, "Do you want to come and share at our church?" is "This summer is already filled...I'm sorry!" 

SO, this summer is NOT already filled (just almost!) and if you'd like to have Matt preach and/or have us share what God's doing here in Haiti through Emmaus Biblical Seminary, well, it's one of our very favorite things to talk about.  (If you'd like to have us talk about our girls at any venues, that's our other favorite thing :) 

Send me an email if Sunday, June 17 (Father's Day) sounds good to your church!




03 February 2018

good work

Alright, a few shots from another busy week!  This week Marshall wrapped up the Biblical Doctrine of Holiness class, Fanfan finished 1 & 2 Samuel, and Ms. Pam concluded the Pauline Epistles. I love talking to our students about these classes, hearing all the input from the student's perspective during the day and from the professor's over dinner at night. 
What a gift to have so many cultures working together for the Gospel, learning from and enjoying and teaching each other.  
I got into Marshall's class one day a bit late...everybody was already standing for prayer.  But I loved watching the fun interaction as they discussed the test, and hearing Marshall lift everyone up.
  
Have I mentioned lately loving my jobs?  I love my jobs.
I really love this part of my job, too.  Friday morning the girls got up early and before I knew it, they had Nora all decked out in "uniform." She was SO utterly excited to be dressed like them :)  They got her a bag and a water bottle and some books and were all playing school when it was time for the older two to go.  Nora was SO anxious and ready to go with them that Matt had to take her to his office for 30 minutes so she could go to school too.  Man alive, do they grow up too fast.
Speaking of growing up too fast, Joely turned two this week!  We all love him, but he and Nora are the best of buds, playing together all day when everyone is off at school and work.  They fight like two-year old siblings, and play as hard as they can.  

I just found this shot from the Accreditation announcement in chapel...

Meanwhile, while Joel and Nora are running everywhere, the older three have been loving the tree chopping project, clearing some land for a larger classroom space!

It's been a muddy muddy week with lots of saved toads and bugs and beetles, lots of scrapes and lots of laundry. The girls don't realize it, but they are grateful to live in a culture where school is done by 1 every day, giving them lots of play time.
On days Micheline comes to watch over Nora, she gets fresh braids.  She won't let me, and she won't let Gertha, but "Mish-Mean" can make her "bel" any time :) Nora's braids always have la life of their own, sweet and spicy as she is!

Marshall is safely back to his family, Pam heads out on Monday, and Mark and MaryBeth, missionaries with OMS in Nigeria at West Africa Theological Seminary, are here with us for a few days to experience Haiti and Emmaus.  Tomorrow we are off to visit a dear alumni and his church plant and then Matt is very thrilled that our good buddies down the road have some way of getting the Super Bowl on...watching his Eagles play tomorrow evening is an opportunity he never expected to have!