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

Friday, July 21, 2017

A few months later - July 2017

It's hard to believe that September 5 will mark the end of our third year in Haiti!  Looking back, these almost three years have been a blessing scattered with hardships.  But, isn't life the same wherever you are?

We are getting ready to go to the "States" for a month.  It's been a busy summer with teams in June and July along with the absence of other RMI American missionaries on the field since the middle of June. However, we are so blessed with our Haitian staff/missionaries, especially administrators Benjamin Altema and Benson Joseph. We couldn't function without them.

Personally, I miss Becky Thompson, Tina Nunemaker, and Star Harvie since I assumed the role of hospitality coordinator for the teams in their absence. This is in addition to my other role of helping teams get ready  to come to Haiti. Joel picked up the slack of the other American RMI missionaries by going out with teams to the far reaches of island! Two sister church teams required more than eight hours of tough driving one way! He continues to do maintenance at the five RMI facilities but he greatly misses Daniel Nunemaker who was always with him and helping him with maintenance.  Sadly, Daniel will not be returning to Haiti in the near future.
A new home by RMI with funds from a RI church

In many ways, Haiti is showing some recovery where the hurricane hit in our area on the southwest end of the island. Remaining trees sprouted leaves and banana or plantain trees were almost fully grown within a few weeks.  We often ask ourselves whether it is so much better than right after Hurricane Matthew or have we become accustomed to the devastation!  People are going around doing their daily business as if nothing happened. Yet, there are still many in the mountains starving, many are without shelter, and many are without clean water after 10 months.  Please continue to pray for this place.
Roofing a school by their sister church

Recovery means more goats are now available for the children as are seeds for the farmers. We thank the many who have donated funds for food, water filters, construction projects, goats, and seeds the people here can never afford.

We're thankful to those who gave of themselves and time to help here. Many work teams and several individuals came to help sister churches, RMI, and others here. One special young woman is Kendall Kehres, a student at Wheaton College, who gave six weeks as a summer intern.  This is her second summer in Haiti. She was joined by Lauren Nagy, a church friend, who was here for three weeks.  Both helped with teams, the MEBSH Home for the Elderly, around the office, and Hope for Kidz.
Kendall Kehres

Lauren Nagy
Change is constant on the mission field.  The Clemm family, who lived below us, left for Germany.  RMI Missionaries Greg and Star Harvie as well as Daniel Nunemaker are no longer here as part of the Haiti team.  Our missionary community also lost a beautiful young mother, Janella Zimmerman from Bonne Fin, in a tragic car accident.  As missionaries, change is constant, but we miss each of them.

On the up side, Rob and Becky Thompson and their family will be returning to Haiti in just a few weeks. Courtney Westcott, Janae Stork and Joslynn Stakes are now RMI missionaries teaching at the school. There are two other young families in process of joining us. We are really blessed by such a great team.

We continue to ask for prayers and support as we begin the next year in Haiti. It will be a time of decision making and prayer for us as we seek His will for our future.

Bondye beni nou (God bless you),
Joel and Laura