15 August 2018


OK, so I've had lots of good questions lately about what all in the world is going on (and who all these people I'm talking about are), so I'm going to do a "here's where we're at" post!

YES, our EBS Haiti international team has been changing a lot lately.  Last week, Mark and Marybeth moved into the apartment above the men's dorm, where we used to and still will house teams and visitors.  They were mostly recently working as OMS missionaries at West Africa Theological Seminary in Nigeria, and are now serving for this academic year at EBS as the VP for Academics and the Librarian!
YES, the Heckman's are both in and out and about!  Phil and Emily and Haylie are here right now for six weeks, then will be in New Jersey where they are building a new home and helping Haylie and Ethan continue to adjust to college (!I wish everyone would stop growing up so fast!)  Phil and Emily will continue that pattern, coming during particularly crazy times and visiting team times for a few weeks at a time, Emily helping in a major way with hospitality and teams and Phil working like crazy on the new classroom building. 
YES, the Edlers are coming back again someday and yes, sweet Jacob is now a permanent part of their dear family!  They've been away since February, first finalizing the adoption and speaking in several churches in Canada, and now in Northern Ireland, more speaking and visiting of family and introducing everyone to their newest son, and in September they'll be moving back into the house across the driveway. The girls are incredibly excited to have other kiddos living on campus again, and suddenly the female dominated kid population at EBS will go to four boys, three girls.  We can't wait to have Bill and Julie back, Bill teaching at EBS and Julie working at Bethesda Clinic down the road in physical therapy. 
WHO are the McGhees? As of May, Rob and Lori ALSO moved in next door (yes, it's a little crowded next door these days :), Rob as the IT Director (taking a huge, huge load off of Matt and improving our systems greatly) and Lori as the Business Officer Manager (taking a huge load off of me!) I am finally getting OUT of finance, just helping she and Jodenel this semester as needed, and focusing more on EBS Marketing and story-telling, on the four kiddos at home, teaching English and continued hospitality. They are also helping in a major with hospitality, which as you know EBS does in a big way year round.  
Meanwhile, we still have lots of other help coming and going, from visiting professors, like Dr. Paul Gaverick (working on the secret victory handshake with Lily below) currently here with IWU, family like Rick and Carol, who got in yesterday and are helping with the new building and training of Lori and getting the new year started on the finance front, and teams like pictured below, giving us a day to get on top of back-to-school painting!

Meanwhile, new student interviews are finally wrapping up, faculty forum is today, and student orientation is Thursday and Friday.
Back at home, there is this sweet man, still getting lots of love and sleeping better and just all around a bright, sweet spot in our lives and days....
...and his ornery littlest big sister, who is in a very "I can do it all by myself" stage, but won't let ME do anything all by myself, like exercise :)

She is SO hilarious, and will talk your ear off all the day long.
The new classroom building is obviously NOT going to be done by the time school starts next week, but we are hoping and praying for next semester!  It will be SO so good to have two classrooms that are actual classrooms (not the cafeteria or the library, where big classes are currently held) and that are large enough for our larger cohorts.  It's going to be beautiful, and also provide a few more badly needed offices!  Pictured here in the new classroom building, the cafeteria (middle) and the administration building (right).  
And finally, YES, the new dog is working out well...Jaxson eats like a horse and is getting bigger by the day, loves the kids, barks but doesn't bite, and has become Sadie's constant companion since the Heckman's moved her BFF Pepper to NJ :)  

Anything I didn't answer? Send me an email or comment below, and I will!

We are grateful for how God has and is providing the help and the expertise and the experience we need, as we need it, and please continue praying with us for all these transitions!  

12 August 2018

Family Day!

EBS Family Day yesterday was such a special event. It was a lot of work and it was warm and the Ayars family decided to be hit by the bad colds going around, but it was so good to get to know our staff and their families better, to watch all the kiddos and grandkids have a blast, and to enjoy some of the beautiful things about this family and culture!
Family is a big deal in Haiti, and I especially loved watching everyone loved easily on each other's children. There's no such thing as other people's children in Haiti, which is part of why we're always so blessed by how people love and care for and even discipline our own.  Our head of security taught our dean of development's son how to ride a bike. Our secretary's husband played soccer with our maintenance man and his kiddos.  Matt was throwing the football with Edlin's daughter and Lori was butchering badminton with the cook's daughters. We have staff members with doctorates snd staff members who never had the opportunity to attend any kind of school, and yet everyone has a Father in common, which was most obvious.

How could Claudel be ANY cuter?
He couldn't.

Leme and Emily and Lori did a lot of work to make this happen!
Meet AnneYolie, the administrative assistant at EBS since last year and such a kind and considerate sister in Christ.  Her husband is in one of our master's programs, and it was so good to finally meet her kiddos!
Junel has been the maintenance slash runner guy for several years now and is fantastic...I can honestly say I have NEVER heard him complain. about. anything.  And he spends a lot of time in town, which usually brings that out in the rest of us :)
Joseph (above) and Jacqueline (below) are on our faithful security team, and live here in Saccanville.
 Edlin and his sweet daughter, Daphne...Edlin has been at Emmaus since long before Matt and I, and works in the kitchen!
 MaCodo works in the kitchen, too, but this was the first time I'd met her husband!  Ben was kind of a popular photo prop :)

Job is our head of security, and his kiddos and Lily went to school together for years...John Kennedy was OUT by picture time.
So many of you have prayed many times for Claudin, our dean of student life, and his sweet wife Josie!  We hadn't seen Christie and Claudel for a few months and I couldn't believe how much Claudel has grown!
Elize and his wife pastor a church near the airport, and Pastor Elize is our professor of French.  Issac is his last of seven!
Lucner is in the States, but Luna, Victoria and Victor came...I love this picture of Granny sharing :)

I ran back to the kitchen to get something and when I came back Lily had a big 'ole game of Uno going :)  Lily astounded me yesterday, helping continually. She taught games, serves lunch, helped translate, played with the kids, helped the adults, even spent an extra hour afterwards taking down chairs and tables...all without being asked. This was such an encouragement to my mother's heart and a joy to watch.

Sofie was just as helpful, but in a totally different way.  Sofie is such a dear friend...she immediately helped and befriended every little kiddo on campus, taking little ones to the bathroom, organizing games, answering questions, leading lines. Watching the girls flourish yesterday in their God-given giftings was an answer to prayer. I've said before that we're not missionaries if you're not, and it's true of our girls, too...our children all have a place in His kingdom and in His mission.
The game of the day, however, was Jenga. All the serious expressions of formal pictures were gone, and totally taken over by Jenga strategies.  

Sweet Guesica is such a God-given match for Leme...I loved having time with her yesterday. 
The downfall of the tower was major :)

We have such a diverse family at Emmaus, people from different countries and cultures and backgrounds and cities and villages and understandings, and I love how every time we are all together as family He has hemmed, those many lines are dissolved. 

Duck, Duck Goose...or Cat, Cat Dog here.

Thankful for all the love and laughter of yesterday, for the time of prayer for our marriages, families and ministries (which I totally missed in the middle of a Ben is hungry, Nora is exhausted episode), and for a new year of His work together!

08 August 2018

all the lists

Tomorrow the girls finish testing, today the Heckmans returned until September, today the now-trusted taxi driver sent us a photo of the US Embassy receipt saying Benjamin Asher Ayars has been paid for, today I moved completely OUT of the finance office and over to a temporary office in the same building (>look out< student stories and EBS updates over managing daily finances...here I come!), this evening we met for weekly prayer with all the other Northern Haiti OMS missionaries, and today felt like we're going to make it.

The frozen york peppermint patties Uncle Martin brought me helped a lot.  As did coffee. As did getting up earlier than everyone else and getting a move on the day and my devotions first thing.  As did asking the girls to step up a little more, as did getting "away" and a little bit of time in the office to actually check some things off a list...because doing laundry and washing dishes and cooking and reading books to the girls and remembering vitamins and getting everyone off to school and cleaning up and playing play dough and making lunch and feeding the baby and hanging out the laundry and pasteurizing the milk and...those things aren't ON a list, but have seemed to be about all I can accomplish in a day lately!  I'm a list lady...and knocking a few things off today on top of all the non-list things did my listing-heart good.

Saturday our first visiting professor of the 2018-2019 school year comes in to teach a master's class for Indiana Wesleyan, and Saturday is also our first ever EBS Staff Family Day...a few fun hours here on campus for all our staff and their significant others and children for playing games and hanging out and watching the kiddos and for eating burgers and pasta salad and baked beans and cookies...which yes, also means there is a LOT of food to be made for Saturday!  But it's going to be a great, fun way to kick off the school year and to love on our people and we're so looking forward to it!

Next week all our students come back...staff meetings Wednesday and new student orientation Thursday and Friday...I'm so looking forward to that as well.  Living on a campus with no students is too quiet!  I'm so thankful for the men and women God's sent us and I love when they come home.

So all that to say now you know how to pray, as we "do it all with the strength and energy that God supplies, so that everything we do will bring glory to God, trusting our lives to the God who created us, for He will never fail us." 1 Peter 4

07 August 2018

our big city vacay.

The Lord knew (of course) that lots of grace, mercy and peace would be needed and I'm so thankful to be home with our kiddos today and have our embassy trip behind us.  Mostly-ish behind us.

We'd reallllly like never having to do that again.

Long story short, after a rather rough evening with flash flooding and a rather rough night with little sleep, we got to the embassy an hour early, joined hundreds of others trying to get in, praised the Lord our name was on the list, and before we could enter and very suddenly we had to leave everything outside...our phones, diaper bag, snacks for Nora, wipes for Ben, water, everything.

Hoping it would be short, we went in with only our paperwork, Ben and Nora, had to navigate through lots of other lines, two security sections, and finally made it to our waiting area at 7:45.  From 7:45 until 10:45, we sat in a tiny room with a LOT of people and a dozen really unhappy small children, submitted all our applications, waited...waited...waited...made a few adjustments, waited...waited...waited, were given more forms to fill out, waited...waited...waited, answered some questions, waited...submitted more paperwork....waited.   You've got the picture.

I was praying for so much grace for Nora, who hadn't eaten ANYTHING and with nothing to give her, with nothing to entertain her with, and the Lord surely answered my prayers...she was amazing, miraculously so, sitting in her chair and singing the ABC song about 8 million times and drawing on a folder with a borrowed pen.  For HOURS.

Finally, they gave us each a form with a 45 lines of tiny boxes, and asked that we fill out every date we ever left America, the date we returned to America, the date we entered a different country, the date we exited the different country, and where did we go.  Since birth.

We spent a looonnnnggg time going through our passports filling out these forms as best we could, and seeing that everyone was struggling through these forms, overheard an agent tell one person that if they were not sure of exact dates, they could just do the month and year and check a box at the bottom that said "estimated dates."

After bouncing the baby and singing with Nora and filling out these tedious forms and wracking our brains, we submitted them and waited, waited.  Finally, they called us up, and we were given all new empty forms, to be filled out again but with exact dates (not just month and year) and "estimated dates" if we weren't sure the dates were correct.  June-August 1994 was not enough.  And we couldn't adjust the previous form.  Start over.

By now we were a few hours in, both kiddos were running out, there weren't any chairs left, and I was starting to pray that the Lord would just help us not LOSE it.

We started all over again...dozens of lines of 06-05-2007s, finally got those all in, waited, more questions, waited.  Waited.

By now, it was getting close to our flight time, Nora was starving and still somehow hanging in there, Ben needed a new diaper something awful, and I'm still praying for grace and open doors.  Like, EXIT doors.

THEN, the lady called us up and said that Ben's passport picture was no good, and that we'd have to leave the embassy, go to a new place in town, get his new pictures done and bring them back...because his arms are in the picture.

At this point I resorted to begging.  "Ma'am, ma'am, please.  We cannot do that.  Please. It's a good picture.  I have four of them.  We had them printed in the States.  Yes, they are all the same. Please don't make us do that.  We will never make our flight and my dad has our children and we'll never get back in time.  Please."
She finally agreed to let the actual consulate officer check the picture and to sit down and wait.

Finally, finally, at 10:40 (with a noon flight) we actually got to meet with the actual officer, who asked us lots of questions, did a final review of our paperwork, had us swear an oath, said nothing about Ben's arms in his picture, and declared that Ben is indeed a US Citizen, and finalized the signatures for a passport.  All we have to do is go to a different office, pay for those services, and bring back a receipt, and we could be done, and they will send us his proof of citizenship and passport in 4-6 weeks.

Matt grabs our wallet and the forms and runs to the other office down the hall...and no one is there.

He comes back, and the immigration officer tells him the guy must be in the bathroom or something, to go back.  He goes back, waits, waits, waits, and someone tells him to go back.  Maybe the guy is still in the bathroom?

Finally, the immigration officer says, "Actually, I've just been told that he went home because he wasn't feeling well."

OK.  So here is our $115 dollars.

No, can't he can't touch it.  Only the money officer guy can take cash.

OK, we'll pay online.

Can't pay online.  

We'll write a check?

Can't write a check.

Credit card? Money transfer? GOLD?

Must be cash, must be in person, must be given to the cash taking officer, who is gone and no one knows if he is coming back.  

Is there anyone else in this entire building who can take our $115 dollars?


Is there ANYONE who can take our cash and pay the cash guy tomorrow?

No.  No one is allowed to touch the cash, but it must be cash.  Nothing can be given to us until the receipt is filled out, and it cannot be paid.

Nora. Ben. Our Flight. That tiny room.

Oh my lands.

In the end, we barely made our flight with four not-super-happy humans, (one of whom at this point had entirely overdone his diaper and peed all over me), left the money and some papers with our taxi driver (have I said oh my lands yet?) to try to go and pay somehow today, and got back in time to see a gorgeous double rainbow that I am claiming was for me, and sadly saw dad off this morning.
We also lost Nora's beloved llama-llama :)

Praising the Lord for God's miraculous help with Nora and Ben in a difficult situation, praising the Lord for all of the paperwork being finished and us having everything that we needed to have his citizenship confirmed and his passport moving, praising the Lord for bringing us all the way safely home and protecting our kiddos while we were apart, praising the Lord for my Dad, graciously loving on my girls and giving them a really fun 24 hours without Mom and Dad and the littles (and wishing terribly we'd left Nora with him!), praising the Lord for guiding us and helping us through a really frustrating situation, and praying (pray with us) for everything to be FINISHED and resolved somehow today or soon.

The trip was a time of needing to dig deep, and I'm so thankful that in those seasons of needing to draw on Him, He. Is. There. and enough.  More than enough.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers, and I was so blessed to hear from some of you and know and count on your prayers!  Life in Haiti...always an adventure!

06 August 2018

We are all safely home and my dad leaves in the morning...thank you for your prayers...update in the morning!

05 August 2018

Grace, Peace, Mercy

We have made it safely from Cap-Haitian to the big city of Port-au-Prince... Lily and Sofia happily at home with Grandpa.  We are staying at a small hotel near the airport, and will head to the embassy at 6:30 tomorrow morning for Ben’s 8 o’clock appointment, our taxi contact noting that Monday morning traffic between here and there is horrific.  We have so much paperwork and copies and tax receipts and so many applications filled out that I can’t imagine us being any more prepared. Thank you for your prayers for everything to go smoothly and we hope to be on a plane by noon back home.

I was feeling a bit anxious about our trip, especially during a more politically unstable time, but the Lord has met me in several ways. First, Dave reminded me Wednesday that our safety isn’t anywhere near as much concern to the Lord as is that we are poured out for his glory, and so instead of obsessing and praying over our safety, I have been praying that we might be used by him.

Also, though when Haiti is in the news we often remind people that we are much safer in Cap-Haitian than what they are seeing, and that things are much calmer than in Port-au-Prince, the Lord reminded me yesterday that we are not safe because of which city we live in but we are safe in the middle of His hand.  If He is with us, and He is, then what can man do to me?  

Finally, I was blessed with peace on the tiny, turbulent plane this afternoon… Ben’s first flight at only three weeks. I was reading on in my Bible readings, today in second John, and the promise was that grace, mercy and peace will be with us through God the Father and through Jesus Christ.  If grace, mercy, and peace are what the Father gives us, then those are to be the things that we are giving to others as His vessels. I am to be an agent of grace, mercy, and peace in the world of my day-to-day, able to give those things because God my Father gives them freely to me.  Just that realization erased what was left of my own turbulence.  

He has with my children, on opposite ends of the island, He is with us, and I can still hold firmly and share freely His grace, mercy, and peace. 
Our praying neighbor-friends this morning, lifting us up...what a gift!

Thank you for being among them!

03 August 2018

family time and a trip to the big city

We've had a fun few days introducing Grandpa to his 8th grandchild, 1st grandson!  He's been homeschooling, washing dishes, playing Yahtzee and helping us hold down the growing fort, especially as Matt's been super busy this week with two weeks before school starts!
I keep finding these Lily-view photos on my phone :)

Matt's quiver is full :)  Love these sweet ones.
Mark and Marybeth moved to Emmaus on Tuesday from West Africa Theological Seminary (WATS) in Nigeria.  After a summer in Atlanta, they're with us for the year, Dr. Mark as the librarian and Dr. Marybeth as the VP for Academics.  They got here right in time, and we're thankful to have them on the team! 
Dad brought this cooling pad, which is now Ben's favorite place to sleep :) 

These girls have finally finished their review and head into final testing next week!  We'll be awfully glad when it's all done, though they've been really enjoying the time with their teachers...they both are so blessed to have great teachers this year.   
We need to ask for your prayers...before the school year gets started, we need to get to the embassy with Ben to get started on his birth abroad paperwork, on his social security card and his passport.  The only US Embassy is in Port-au-Prince, and so on Sunday afternoon, Nora, Ben, Matt and I fly to Port, Dad keeping the girls, and Monday morning at 8 am we have our appointment and will then return that afternoon.  We are trusting the Lord with the timing and with all that needs done in a short time.  Please pray for us, that the trip would be successful, for Dad's special time with Lily and Sofie, for our time away with Nora and Ben and for things in Port to be as boring as possible.  Thank you!