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!