Saturday, January 28, 2017

What else can happen in a few months, well a year?

Every time I post something on the blog, I am in New Year's resolution mode.  Yet, here I am over a year since I last posted on the blog.  I'm active on Facebook, as is Joel, and often talk about the events of our daily lives.  We send out a newsletter online through Mail Chimp, but neglect the blog! If you are NOT on our newsletter list and want to be just send an email to laura.sutton@rmibridge.org.

With that being said, the year 2016 was one of joy seeing many American sister church teams and other individuals come to Haiti to visit their sister church or to help RMI.  It was also one of enjoying the fellowship of family and friends in the "States" during our two month home visit, the fellowship of seeing old friends and meeting new ones at the church conference at Houghton, New York, and the relaxation of time at the farm in W.Va. where Joel grew up.

The two months in the States were very busy with trips to visit family and friends in Lost Creek, WV, Salemville, PA, Aurora, OH, Wheeling, WV (St. Clairsville, OH), the Washington, DC area, and finally Gainesville, FL.  We also were excited to spend time with cousins in the Columbus, OH area and fellowship with the church there.  Needless to say, we ended up pretty tired by the time reached Gainesville, FL on our way back to Haiti.  Gainesville was where things didn't quite go as planned.  I (Laura) had all my annual check-ups and Joel and I had our dental check-up.  To our surprise, I needed minor surgery and so we added that to our schedule and were thankful the George and Mary Lebo home opened their home to us for an extra week.


My mom and dad - Leland and Lettie Bond
But 2016 was also one of loss of much beauty and many homes here in southwest Haiti during Hurricane Matthew and the loss of both of my parents and Joel's younger brother.  Jim died in March, Dad died April 3, and Mom on December 14.  As a result, we made several unscheduled trips back to the States. I was glad to spend a week with Dad before he died and extra time with Mom. She had a series of health problems in October necessitating a return to Pennsylvania.  I was thankful for the extra time with her since my last trip was when I arrived an hour before her death.  



From our roof


Although we were in the primary target zone of landfall for Category 4 Hurricane Matthew, our home did not sustain a lot of damage.  We had only a piece of roofing come off,  exposing our home to the rain and wind, plus extensive water coming in through walls, ceiling, and windows.  What else would you expect from 140 mph winds and torrential rain?!!!!  Although we pushed water out for at least 12 hours, we were thankful for minimal damage, especially when we looked around our neighborhood and listened and saw the damage elsewhere.  Some nearby towns and villages were almost totally destroyed, especially those near the oceans. Many of the Haitian churches we serve lost churches, schools, the parsonages, and many homes. Praise God, there was little loss of human life in those churches. However, much of the crops, livestock and safe water supply was destroyed.  We are thankful for all the help we received and are still receiving here.

Flooding weeks after hurricane from the RMI Office





What followed was almost 6 weeks with limited or no power and internet as well as a 100 year flood two weeks after the hurricane.  This flood destroyed much of what was left after the hurricane for many people.  Cholera also struck in areas where water supplies were contaminated by waste and dead animals.
Desriveaux Church
Port Salut - Favorite Beach and Restaurant spot
As Joel and I look back, only God's strength sustained us during this time.  We ask for your prayers as there is much to be done and our resources at RMI are stretched.  But, God is GREAT!  He has plans for us and they are plans for the good (Jeremiah 29:11)


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wrapping Up 2015, and Looking Ahead






As we are approaching the end of this amazing year of adventure here in Haiti, we are feeling truly blessed by God. The last year or so has had its ups and downs, but as many Haitians say, “Se la vi” from the French saying that means “That’s life”.   And isn’t that the way life is and has been from the beginning?  No matter who you are, where you are from, or your financial status, there will be good days and bad days. However, as Christians, we have the hope of eternal life that we believe has come to us by the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ that raises us above the highs and lows of life. Looking forward to celebrating another of many Christmases that help us focus on the sacrificial coming of the King of Kings in the humble form of a baby boy in a lowly manger. Thank God He came to us, because there was no way we could ever work, or scheme, or connive our way to Him!! In John 5:24, Jesus himself says, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has passed over from death to life.” What a perfectly powerful, but simple promise!!

Another promise that I love, is “And we know all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” ( Romans 8:28 KJV ).  Notice that it doesn’t say “all things will be good”, but this promise has a good ending. It is what we look forward to and it is why we can continue to work even when things are not going as we planned or hoped!!!  We both love where we are in the village of Simon with all the crazy Haitian life going on around us; but, honestly, some days it is too much. We know, however, as we go from day to day learning more about the people with their culture and language, we will appreciate this time even more when we are able to communicate well and interact naturally. The “old timers” keep telling us to “Hang in there. It will come and it will be so much fun when it does!” I truly believe God has called us to live here; I also believe the promises of the “old timers”; and, I realize that if we keep our focus on what God wants us to do, taking it one day at a time, we will find our way here in Haiti.

Children, many of them, walking to and from school!
Amidst all this pondering thought about how blessed we are to be here, I have the strong realization that a huge portion of that blessing comes by way of so many of our family, friends, and coworkers for the Kingdom of God in the US and around the world. We are so thankful for all the consistent prayers offered in our behalf before the Throne of God!! We know we could not survive here without that! We are also amazed and thankful for the financial support that has grown by God’s urging folks to see our needs (almost without our asking), and that is, in and of itself, a huge blessing! Please continue to be as faithful as we finish 2015 and look forward to the opportunities and challenges of the coming new year.

Speaking of opportunities, God has given us the time to travel back to the States the last two weeks of this year. We will spend a few days in Gainesville, Florida to take care of some routine medical appointments, and to catch up with some of our friends and supporters there. Then, we will go north to the D.C. area and to Pennsylvania to spend the Christmas with family and check on Laura’s mom and dad. They have been struggling with many health issues over recent months. We will return to Haiti in early January and hit the ground running. Joel will go out with the first church team that will come shortly after we get back, and Laura will jump right back in there too.  In fact, there will only be a couple of weeks in the time up to early July that will not be devoted to church teams coming to relate to their sister churches. Then, we will be on “home assignment” during the months of July and August. This will  give us some time to recharge our spiritual and physical “batteries”. We are looking ahead to more time for reconnecting with family, friends, and churches that have been so instrumental in helping us to serve our Lord here in Haiti.
Once again, we say “thank you so much” to all of you who are supporting us in prayer and financially! We also want to wish everyone a very “Blessed Christmas, and a Spirit-filled New Year”! In the words of Tiny Tim from the classic, A Christmas Carol, “God bless us everyone”.

Bon Fèt Nwèl ak Bondye beni nou!
(Merry Christmas and God bless you!)

Joel and Laura Sutton
Missionaries
Reciprocal Ministries International

Haiti