Wednesday, July 31, 2013

So...What are you going to be doing???

Weirdly enough, when we started telling family and friends that we were moving to Haiti, no one was surprised. I guess everyone EXCEPT us "knew" this was going to happen. As we're getting closer and closer to moving day, we are getting more questions about what we're actually going to be doing when we move. Why are we leaving everything we know, a steady, wonderful job of 10 years, comfortable home, family, friends, and taking our two young kids to a third world country to live for a minimum of two years? Sometimes we ask ourselves that same question. But then we look back and know without a doubt that God has called our family and has been preparing us for the past three years for this decision.

After we returned from our two month stay last summer, we would be driving in the van and in the quiet of the drive, Jaron, then four, would say, "You know what I wish?" No what Jaron? "I wish we lived in Haiti." We never gave it much thought. Then, in January, we were asked to consider taking this position and moving to Haiti. We said no and that the timing was all wrong. Then, in February, I found our seven year old daughter Morgan's journal. Her entry read like this:

"Dear Jesus, Would you please open the doors for our family to live in Haiti? Even if it's just for a little bit?"

She had NO idea that we had been asked to consider this position. God was using our kids and preparing and exciting their hearts for this next phase in our life. So, long story shorter, we said yes. So what does that mean? Hopefully this will answer a few questions you may have!

When will you be leaving? - 
Our plan is to leave this October 2013. There are a lot of things that need to fall in place for that to happen, but we're trusting God with the perfect timing. We still need to figure out our housing situation in Haiti, decide what we'll do with our two houses here and raise the rest of our funds. 

How will you raise support? - 
We are so thankful for Craig's job. They have asked him to stay on part time while we're in Haiti. So, a HUGE chunk of our budget will come directly from them. However, we are still a bit short. We are looking for a few families to partner with us monthly to reach that budget. We also need a few people who will donate to our initial start up and moving costs. So, if you're interested in partnering with our family, please send me an email and we can get you more information!!

How long will you be gone? - 
Our initial agreement is to live in Haiti under the role of Okipe Country Representative for two years. After that, we'll see what God has in mind. Some of our dreams would take much longer than two years and we realize that it takes two years just to learn the language, culture and set roots in order to really make some traction. We're not sure if we're just laying the ground work or if we're in this for the long haul. Only God knows and we don't want to be anywhere except where He wants us to be.

Where will Morgan and Jaron go to school? - 
For at least the first 4-6 months, I, Renee, will be homeschooling. I told Craig he would be teaching some too :)  There is a Global Partners missionary who lives on the island to teach Global Partners Missionary kids. She has her hands full at this time, but in January, some of the families are leaving and we're not sure who is replacing them. So, she might take the kids at that point. We'll see :)

Where will you be living? - 
This is our biggest question mark right now.  La Gonave is an island off the main island of Haiti (about 37-ish long and 9-ish miles wide) . The island was once used as a base for pirates, but in the 60's the Haitian government, in an effort to "clean up" the mainland, sent most of their mentally ill, homeless and elderly to live on this island. One website said, "If Haiti is the country that the world forgot, La Gonave is the island that Haiti forgot." This is the island that houses the orphanage that has stolen our hearts! This site has some interesting facts about La Gonave:  Please be praying about our living arrangements. In order to have basic needs such as water, plumbing, electricity and a kitchen (luxuries in Haiti) it can be difficult and very expensive.  

What will you do? - 
Craig will be handling all things "money." He will coordinate donations for the orphanage and help Mme. Soliette track her expenses and income. He will also be working on vocational/transition plans for those children who will be "aging out" of the orphanage in the next couple years. This is a huge new phase for the village. We don't want to just send the kids out without support and a plan. We have many ideas on the table and we're discussing Mme. Soliette's dreams and visions in this area so that we can try to come up with resources to help her achieve those dreams. He will also be exploring options and dreaming with Mme. Soliette about how the orphanage can become self-sustaining...or at least bring in some income.

I, Renee will be communicating and coordinating travel and accommodations with visiting Okipe teams. Along with teaching Morgan and Jaron, Mme. Soliette has asked me to have some literacy classes with the house moms. A lot of them are not able to read or write. I will also be teaching English classes at the Children's Village and the local National School periodically.  

Along with these roles, God has put some other dreams and visions in our hearts as a family. We'll see if those doors open over the next couple years, or if we're just laying groundwork. But...this post is already long enough...I'll save that for another day :)

Do you have any other questions? Please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them!

(Thanks to Matt Smith and for some of the above pictures!)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Weekly Grocery Shopping

As I'm sitting here planning meals for my family and making out my grocery list for the week, I came across this post from Okipe. This is the orphanage that our family is moving to Haiti to help.

How much do you spend on food shopping for your family weekly?

One "study found feeding four a healthy diet can run between $146 dollars a week on the low end, to $289 on the high end." 

That's an average of $868 (£566) PER MONTH to feed just 4 people.

Imagine you had to feed a family of 80!

Mme Soliette does.

If she spent the U.S average on food that would cost her $17,360 (£11,315) per month just on FOOD.

Guess how much Mme Soliette spends to feed over 80 mouths per MONTH?

$4,200 (£2,740).

In fact, Mme Soliette could feed, clothe, educate and efficiently run an entire village for over 80 orphans for just $12,000 per month.

Unfortunately, she has to do it on just $9,000 per month just now because we do not have enough sponsors yet.

Mme Soliette's goal is not just to feed and look after 80 orphans. Her dream is to equip them with a great education and upbringing to enable them to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Today you can help her achieve her dream for all these precious children.

From as little as $10 per month you can Join the Village and help ensure all these children have a better today and brighter tomorrow. Mme Soliette is committed to her children but she needs your help now.

For the price of a Cafe Latte per week you can influence some of the poorest and neediest children on the earth today. Please consider and act now, giving any amount you can afford. Please click this link for simple and quick instructions on how to Join the Village right now:

Thank you for caring and for making a difference. )

Saturday, July 13, 2013

To Haiti, Michigan and Back

A couple weeks ago, my sister and I had the once in a lifetime (hopefully not) opportunity to get away just the two of us and head to Haiti!  It was such a special time for the two of us to spend together. I was so thankful that she could be there and see in person where we'll be and meet the people who are so close to our hearts. 

I'm so sad that we didn't get one picture (besides a crazy one in the airport) of the two of us. Either she or I were taking the pictures the whole time. :(

So far July has been pretty crazy. I've tried to cut back on many of my responsibilities so that we'll have more time to travel to see family and friends before we leave.  I am so thankful for Craig's job for the past 10 years, but man, to say it's been a CRAZY six months would be an understatement.  We were very thankful to have a little bit of time over the holiday weekend to get away and spend some quality time with family.  We headed up to Michigan and got to spend time with ALL of my siblings! It's been over a year since we've all been together. I love that Jaron is making a silly face in him :)  I am so thankful for my family and will miss them BUNCHES while we're in Haiti.

I love taking this picture as often as I can when I see my grandma. She is so special to me and I cherish these memories!

On the Haiti front...We're still making arrangements for our big move. If you wouldn't mind, we would really appreciate prayers right now regarding housing. Both here and in Haiti.  We have a rental house that we will most likely try to sell and we are still trying to figure out what to do with our current house and all of our belongings.  We also found out a couple weeks ago that we will not be staying on the Wesleyan Campus where we originally thought we would be living for at least the first 6 months. Housing on La Gonave is not cheap. It's not expensive to live in a third world country if you live like most of the locals. However, if you have electricity, even limited, and running water, the price of housing is very pricey, especially when they see that "white people" are the ones looking.  So please just pray that God would open doors and give us direction and wisdom while we're making some of these decisions!