Friday, October 19, 2018

October 2018 Newsletter - Home

Our first month in Haiti. This at Morency Church

It is hard to believe that it has been nine months since we last sent a letter.  A lot has happened in those months that leads us to say that this is our last newsletter as part of the RMI organization.

As usual, we had a very busy spring with RMI hosting church teams and visiting churches. However, we knew that it was time to make a decision about staying in Haiti longer than our four year commitment ending the beginning of September 2018 or leaving and going back to the United States.  It was hard to believe that the time had passed by so quickly.  So much happened during that time both as an organization ministering in Haiti and to us personally.

We made the decision soon after Christmas that it was time to return to the United States.  We definitely were not getting younger and Laura continued to deal with worsening sciatica in her left hip and leg. This caused her to work at the computer helping teams to come to Haiti from home, often lying in bed.  We also felt that we needed to be closer to our children, grandchildren, and new great-grandchild.  Therefore, we made the decision to leave the end of June so we could visit family, supporters and churches in July and August as well as find a home and settle-in.  Even after a trip to Gainesville, FL and six weeks of physical therapy in April and May, Laura's pain only grew worse.  All the plans we had to travel were cancelled and has yet to happen!  Laura is now scheduled for surgery on October 29 for a total hip replacement.

Our home in Gainesville, FL
We purchased a small home in Gainesville, Florida and were able to quickly furnish it using living room and bedroom furniture stored after Laura's parents died in 2016, receiving generous gifts (like a
flat-screen TV) from friends, visiting several "second-hand" furniture places and watching Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for additional things we needed.  We were SO thankful that we were able to totally furnish our home with the money we received from selling everything in Haiti and monetary gifts from supporters.
God has been so good to us!

Joel is so excited that he was able to return to Littlewood Elementary School as an ESE Aid with the same teacher he worked with for years before we left.  He's also very involved with a ministry called International Friendship.  They teach English to international students and scholars using the Bible. Most often they are Chinese. However, this fall, Joel's group include a Japanese young man and a Brazilian young lady. He is also working with two young Haitian men who challenge us to speak Creole!  Exciting!

(Pictured is Denis, one of the two young men from the Simon village that we support in school. He is
one of triplets!)

Most of the time, Laura is at home with trips out for the weekly women's Bible study, church, and small group weekly meetings.  Constant pain is now affecting both hips and legs which limit her activities. Knowing she will be "grounded" for a couple months after surgery,  she did fly to Charlottesville, VA to visit with her son and family and her daughter and family even with the discomfort.  Her son just retired after 20 years in the Air Force with the last four years in Germany. Laura had not see her son and his family for almost five years. However, there are many other children to see as soon as possible!

For now, Gainesville, FL is our mission field although we really miss Haiti and the wonderful missionary and Haitian family there.  There is no way we can thank each of you enough for your thoughts, prayers, and financial support over the past years.  We ask for your continued prayers as continue our ministry here in the United States.

We do urge you to consider supporting RMI, especially the Hope for Kidz program ( and the Seventh Day Baptist Missionary Society (

God bless you! (Bondye beni nou!)

Joel and Laura

Address: 4133 NW 19th Drive
               Gainesville, FL 32605


Thursday, January 4, 2018

The End of 2017 and New Beginnings in 2018

We were blessed this fall, 2017, with an increase of teams coming here. The fall is usually our slow time after a total break in August. Most teams are sister church teams who came to help and visit with their sister churches. A few had not been to Haiti for two to four years. AND, we had two new prospective teams.  God is great!

Praise God!  In 2017, 540 people accepted Christ, more than 16,500 children received deworming medicine, 40 teams visited RMI/Haiti, and thousands of food boxes were distributed in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.  By the way, RMI at Cite Lumiere is a major distributor of food for "Feed My Starving Children." If you want to see our own Benjamin Altema, Haitian Administrator of the RMI Haiti office, click on this link:

RMI Team in Haiti Fall 2017

Our RMI team on the ground has expanded to 41 Haitian administrators, staff at the Zanglais Ministry Center and the Cite Lumiere office/depot, three missionary teachers at the Cite Lumiere Christian School, and missionary families of Thompsons, Nunemakers, and Suttons.  Even with all these folks, we find ourselves short of people and resources with the many teams now coming to help RMI and their sister churches.

We're excited that Rob and Becky Thompson with family are back on the field. We are also anticipating the arrival of Dawn Shoemaker, the Speel and Starkey families soon.
Andrew enjoying Giant Jinga

We enjoyed the month of August in the States, primarily Gainesville, FL (annual checkups), D.C. area, PA, and the farm in WV.  Rather than travel everywhere in a short time, we asked family to join us at the farm. We were excited to see 5 of our 8 children with their families and both our siblings.

We were very happy to have our FIRST family visitors in 3 1/2 years, our nephew Perry Barbee and son Andrew.  Andrew fit right in with the missionary community and wants to return.

Finally, we were blessed with some time with family in the States for Christmas. However, we found that we are very "climatized" to warm weather in Florida and Haiti, so hugged close to the fire while in the D.C. area.

We see one of the greatest needs here as education.  So, we are using ministry funds to support six children and a young adult in school. It is exciting to see Saed, 25 years old, doing well in 4th grade. He didn't have the opportunity nor funds to attend school. He's doing well now. He's not an unusual case. No one goes to school anywhere, even public schools, without money for tuition, uniforms, and books.  Pray for him and the others here.

We are back and Haiti and ready to welcome many more teams as the holidays end.  We continue to welcome your prayers and financial support. 

Bondye beni nou!

Joel and Laura