Saturday, November 9, 2013


As I sit in our comfortable home in Gainesville, I look out at the lush greenery behind our house and listen to the birds in the sky. It's a typical fall Florida day. I'm so thankful for all we have here. But, we are looking forward to moving to Les Cayes, Haiti early next year. There, we will still have humid and hot summer and even fall days with thunder and rains.  But, the environment will be different.  Instead of quiet, we will awake to the sound of chickens, children playing and women's voices as they prepare food for their families. Most will be cooking over an open fire.

In a way, I feel we are sitting still. I'm still teaching at the University of Florida College of Nursing full time, through the summer and fall. It's a privilege to teach undergraduate and graduate nursing students at one of the top schools in the country at a Level I Trauma Center, Shands. Again, I wonder about the clinic at Citi Lumiere at the mission center in Les Cayes and the resources there for those who need help. Or, at the hospital at Bonne Fin up in the mountains.

But soon the life of teaching nursing and being a nurse, mom, wife, and daughter will change. I will be retiring in December.  The early mornings to the hospital, the long evenings of grading papers and preparing lectures and tests will be over. Soon, I will be helping others to learn about Christ's love and learn to care for their health in a less than favorable environment. How different will it really be? 

What will it be like to live in a country with a "foreign" language? To not have interstates and large grocery stores?  It will take awhile to adjust, but God wants us there and will guide us every step of the way.  "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." (James 4:8).

Monday, September 2, 2013


View of Pike's Peak from SDB Conference!
It was really a change in August!  Joel and I spent a week at the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference in Colorado Springs, followed by four weeks at Mission Training International (MTI) in Palmer Lake, CO with some really fabulous missionary people.  Talk about a "God thing!"  We HAD to go to MTI as part of preparation for being a missionary to Haiti.  August was our only choice with our schedules. We had NO IDEA that we would be able to attend the SDB Conference. Then, would you believe they were held concurrently in almost the same place. MTI was just 30-40 minutes north of Conference!!!!

Site of the SDB Conference sessions.

We had lots of opportunities at Conference to talk to old and new friends and family about our mission to Haiti. Of course, we handed out LOTS and LOTS of our prayer cards and RMI (Reciprocal Ministries International) brochures. It was really exciting to see friends that we hadn't seen in several years. It was also a blessing to meet Danny and Danita Lee. They provided us with a wonderful place to stay between Conference and MTI. Danita drove us up to start our training. A BIG thanks to them.

The Suttons and the Harvies
Another wonderful coincidence (not really in God's world) was that we had the opportunity to meet and spend the afternoon with Greg and Star Harvie, new RMI missionaries to Haiti. They will be our co-workers at our home at Citi Lumiere, Les Ceyes, Haiti.  They just "happened" to be in Colorado Springs visiting family when we were there. We had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with them, sharing over ummm-good ice cream. By the way, they are in Haiti now. Pray for them as they adjust to the new role, the culture, and learn Creole.

Missionaries in Training at MTI - August 2013
MTI provided an opportunity to learn different techniques to learn languages, but not specific languages. With missionaries headed to China, Uganda, Bangladesh, Thailand, Turkey, India, Romania, Brazil, Albania, Spain, and Indonesia (sorry if I forgot someone), a specific language was not the goal.  We drew pictures and walked around checking placement of our tongues on our palate and our teeth and making silly sounds like "Ba! Ba!"  Although a little frustrating for we "older adults," we were encouraged to hear that we can STILL LEARN a language, just at a turtle's pace.  We also learned about stress, conflict, and dealing with others on the mission field, just like in marriages and in your stateside jobs.  But, the hardest part was saying goodbye to everyone! We were thankful to have a few extra times with the Brown family before they left for the field since they were staying in Ocala, not far from us.

Chris, Michelle Sutton and Family
Another great happening was spending some of our "down time" with Joel's cousin, Chris and his wife and family. They live outside of Colorado Springs. One evening they drove to MTI and took us to one of the best Italian restaurants ever!  If you are in Colorado Springs, we highly recommend it! We also were able to go to their beautiful home in the mountains and enjoy an afternoon with them. Joel and Chris actually beat the younger guys at horseshoes! You can take the boy out of West Virginia, but you can't take West Virginia out of the boy!

Then, reality hit and we headed back to Florida and work while some of the others headed to their mission fields.  Although rather sad not to be leaving for the field yet, God has perfect timing and has a plan for us (Proverbs 16:9).

View from the back of the MTI Training facility.

Showing Thanks for What God Does for Us.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

An update

Since I last wrote on the blog, I've continued teaching at the College. No, no summer break!   Classes are year round so I'm teaching students at the hospital and teaching an online graduate class. Joel, however, is on summer break from the elementary school.  BUT, he is really working hard outside in the tremendous heat and humidity of Florida summers.  He's back to doing tree work and some carpentry.  Meanwhile, I'm in the air conditioning, freezing!

I posted a story that Joel wrote about Lukane, a man in Haiti who accepted Christ as a result of the church teams visit to Baradares, Haiti. They went to Haiti again this spring in March and were really blessed to hear about Lukane and his family. In addition, the team provided a medical clinical for the folks in Baradares as well as visited the church school and another church plant from Baradares.  In both places, they were able to use a new tool for helping the people there and to provide a means for self-help.  They took an I-See kit (from I-TEC, Steve Saint's organization).  They taught a member of the church to do eye exams and to provide glasses for those who needed them just for a nominal fee. As a result, the church in Baradares will be able to continue to provide these exams (and glasses) for the folks in the area with the funds made from the fees.  God is SOOO good! 

We're excited about how God has worked in our lives and shown His hand in our future.  We will be attending MTI (Mission Training International  located just north of Colorado Spring, CO.  It is not a coincidence that the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference is the week immediately preceding the training IN COLORADO SPRINGS.  This will allow us to attend most of the Conference and network with old friends and family from all over the United States and to talk about our mission in Haiti.  AND, the College is allowing me to take the time off to go!!!

AND, we got to spend an evening with Gary and Marilyn McLaughlin here in Gainesville.  They were on their way back home in Washington state after serving almost 9 years with RMI in Haiti. It was so good to talk with them and find out some news about what is going on  with RMI, our possible housing, and Les Cayes.  Did you know that they are starting to build a new International Airport in Les Cayes, very near where we will live? That means that there may be no long drive to and from Port-au-Prince for travel.  I've always prayed to live close to an international airport, but this is REALLY close!

We would love to hear from you.  We continue to ask for your prayers and support.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Getting ready

Joel and Laura's New Picture
So, now we are missionary appointees with Reciprocal Ministries International (RMI). What's next?  

Our first task was to get a new picture taken that can be used on our newsletters an prayer cards. Here we go!  Those who know us will note that we are a little?? grayer and my hair is longer than usual. I'm experimenting to see if I like it and what waves appear. Answer is that I'm not sure and I'm fighting waves I didn't know I had.

The second was to get our first newsletter written and out, our prayer cards finished, and this blog done.  Joel designed and wrote the newsletter . The content is here on our first blog page.  Together, we made a list of everyone we could think of and Joel is diligently working on getting the newsletters out to each individual and family If you don't get one, let us know! I'm working on the technical, computer-based work such as this blog and the prayer cards.  The prayer cards are coming soon.

We both are continuing to work full time at our regular employment as we prepare to go.  I am teaching full time at the University of Florida College of Nursing with clinical supervision of beginning to graduating nursing students two to three days a week . I'm loving it and like being at Shands at the University of Florida Hospital more than being in the classroom.  Joel is at the elementary school where he enjoys his "second" career as an aide teaching exceptional students and helping with other students in the classroom. Most of the students have autism spectrum disorder. Of course, he often offers to help out with fixing broken desks, shelves, and whatever needs done and the school. In his spare time, he still does tree work and even managed to be in the emergency room with a deep cut of his wrist with a chain saw in early February. It reminded me of old times in Wheeling!

Outside of work, Joel is very active in teaching a small group of international students at International Friendship. I help out when my job and other responsibilities don't interfere. The organization teaches internationals to read and speak English by using the Bible, the most widely read English book. There are visiting scholars, graduate students, and spouses from all over the world. This year, Joel's small group has participants from Brazil, Nepal, and China.  It's a wonderful ministry and a way to reach out beyond the community. We've enjoyed people in our home from Iran, North Vietnam, China, Brazil, Nepal, and Mexico. He also is co-leading a 15 person team from church that is going to Baraderes, Haiti the first week in March.  They will be working with RMI, the mission organization with whom we will be working in Haiti. The team will be doing medical care, witnessing, working with children at the school, and worshiping with the church there. I wish I could go, but work calls at home.

We had a great trip, by car, to the northeast at Christmas to see children, grandchildren, parents, and other family.  We were reminded what it is like to drive in the snow and have zero visibility when the windshield wipers don't work in a snowstorm!  But, it was great to spend time with family and to celebrate my sister and husband's 40th wedding anniversary. We had formal family pictures taken so I'll post some when we get them back.

We continue to ask for your prayers and support as we prepare to go to Haiti early next year. We are busy reading about missions, learning about Haiti and learning some of it's language. This summer, we hope to attend a month long missionary training in culture and language. It's in Colorado Springs, Colorado so it's quite a big undertaking. We are also trying to decide what to take with us to Haiti, what to sell, and what to store. Everyone asks us about our home in Gainesville. That decision will come later on, but we pray that God will make it clear what we are to do.

God bless you all and we'd love to hear from you!

Laura and Joel