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


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

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)