"I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." Acts 20:24

To Tell of His Grace

Monday, May 30, 2016

All Things From His Hand are GOOD!!

I was asked to do a guest post today on my friend Sharon's adoption blog: A Beautiful Symphony so I thought I'd share it here too ~~~

The call to move to Haiti came unexpectedly. Even though we've been in the process of adopting our two newest children from here for over 2 years and have come to visit them half a dozen times, we never thought we would live here. But the call came so clear that we couldn’t deny it. 

Our church was nearing the end of a 21 day fast and we had been earnestly seeking the Lord. 

That’s when we heard His Voice, calling us to go, calling us to trust Him for this

We really had no idea what we were saying yes to, but it didn’t really matter. We knew WHO we were saying yes to and after so many years of living life for ourselves we committed years ago to Jesus and to one another that we will say yes to whatever He asks.

So long as we know it is His Will we know we can trust His heart.

Every fear we’d ever known rose in us at first.....were we crazy to move our family of 6 (soon to be 8) to a 3rd world country not knowing how long we’d be there? What would we do if we needed medical care while we were there? Where would we live? Would we be safe? What about malaria? 

So many unknowns but the ONE thing we needed to know was sure ~ He was calling us to our babies here and we were to go, knowing we’d be held by the One who is Faithful and True!!!

We stepped out in faith and made the necessary arrangements. Brodie wrapped up things at work and got everything covered for him to leave for a month at a time, coming back for a week each month to check in with clients. The big kids wrapped up school early & Kaylee Grace and I wrapped up her preschool. We made living arrangements for what we think will be our “home” for a few months but we really don’t know for sure. We packed all we could into 9 large duffle bags and here we are!

The day we stepped off the plane was technically our “Gotcha Day” ~ our two newest joined their forever family and will never sleep another night in an orphanage! I think it’s finally starting to set into their little hearts that they really are with us FOREVER ~ this isn’t just another visit where we come and then have to leave.....this is it! The GIFT of folding them into our family here in their home country is indescribable!

Our first couple weeks here our oldest daughter wrote a blog post titled, “Life in Haiti: Simple But Not Easy” and I couldn't sum up our time here better than that! I love the simplicity of life here that is allowing us to bond in deep and rich ways with our two newest treasures. I can see what a difference this slowness of life has made for them. But I’ll be honest, 3rd world living has humbled us in more ways than I would have imagined! 

It has exposed our hearts and how tightly we hold on to the comforts and pleasures of this world. The love of convenience, how addicted we are to cleanliness and life being predictable and easy, how entitled our hearts truly have become living in America where everything is at our fingertips. We’ve taken things like clean water, instant medical care and having a car for granted for so long we didn’t even realize how ungrateful we were for the simplest of things in our lives. So in many ways these first weeks here have been a stripping for us.....a pruning so that our lives can bear MORE FRUIT! Pruning is never fun and it never feels good.....but it is SO GOOD!!! 

"Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1

Another thing the Lord has been bringing to mind for me is that in Philippians 4:12 when Paul talks about being content in all circumstances he says that he “learned” to be content in whatever circumstances he was in. I’ve always admired him for being content in all the horrific circumstances he was led into and I still do. But it stood out to me that he had to learn to be content. That means that he was tested and tried just like we are! That’s how he learned!! What other way to learn other than to be put in the situation? Pauls says whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.....he learned the secret of being content and that’s how he KNEW that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him!  As we are put into circumstances that are so beyond our control, we learn that Jesus alone is our strength. He alone is our provision. He is our ALL and without Him we are nothing and we have nothing!!!

All the unknowns of 3rd world living and the discomforts here have stretched us beyond what we could have ever endured on our own. But the blessing of such a SLOW and very simple pace has allowed us to bond with our newest treasures in ways I just don’t think our big family would have at home.

I confess, when we first got here I didn't feel like this time was a "gift" from our Lord ~ it was hard and everything in me fought against the uncomfortable, unpredictable way of life I was suddenly plunged into. But I was reminded anew that ALL things from His Hand are GOOD  ~ even when they don't look good or feel good......they ARE GOOD because HE is good!!! 

As followers of Jesus Christ we are His children and heirs to all that is His (Romans 8:17). We belong to Him! 

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:11

Because He is good and because all that is from Him is good, we can trust Him! Even when it doesn't look or feel good at first we can know it IS good because HE is good!!!

Out of His goodness and grace we have been entrusted with two more incredibly precious children. And we have been given the indescribable gift of  learning to “consider everything a loss compared to knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, for whose sake we’ve lost all things.” (Philippians 3:8). 

We still have so far to go with living out this verse in its entirety but it has been humbling to learn to abide deeper in our Lord as our ALL! 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Keegan Keeps Us Laughing!

He has worked really hard to get this girl to like him ~ lots of food bribes ;)

Keeg really wasn't excited about moving here & missing a whole summer at home ~ he's our kid that doesn't like change at all. 

Despite all this he has had the BEST attitude here ~ never complaining and always finding the humor in every situation of making it humorous somehow. His dry, witty jokes keep us laughing all day :)
He's always coming up with creative, fun things to do & keep the kids occupied. 

I have seen the joy of the Lord strengthen him in every way as he has grown in his relationship with Christ. 

His faith has been strengthened to trust Jesus to go or do things he may not necessarily want to in order to grow His Kingdom. He has a deep understanding that we are not here for ourselves & our lives are not our own. I am thankful that Jesus has given us this opportunity to strengthen his faith (and all of ours!) 

The kids at the crèche love him & get so excited when they see him coming ~ they know he's always good for a soccer or basketball game :)

Keeg, we love you! Thank you for helping us to keep our eyes on Jesus & reminding us that He alone is our life!!!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Our Beach Get-Away

We LOVED our time at the beach here!! It was so good to have some relaxing time as a family & get some sun!!! It's been one continual cloud up here in the mountains so it was so good to see the clear, blue sky & have some beach/pool time :)
We kayaked, swam in the beautiful, warm water, went snorkeling, ate amazing food & enjoyed warm showers :)
Khloe Enna loved the water so long as we didn't take her in too deep :)
Kaleb Jasse & Kaylee Grace had a blast in the pool!!! Such good play/bonding time for them :)
The boys enjoyed snorkeling & going on the catamaran & jumping waves on it
Sis loved soaking in the sun  :)
Kaylee & Khloe Enna liked the after dinner dance parties & were the life of the party!!
Khloe was quite the celebrity there ~ the boys were about to set up a booth & start charging for pictures because we got stopped about 10 times a day with people asking for a pic of her~ and let me tell you....she loved every minute of the attention & even started posing with her hands on her hips, lol. 
Brod & I loved that it almost felt like we were in America ;)
Thank You Jesus for this amazing time together making memories as a family of 8 :). So good to get refueled!! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Typical Day for us.......

We've started falling into a routine which has been so nice :)

We wake up early here (by 5am the sun comes beaming through our big upstairs window......and I found out that Kaleb Jasse & Khloe Enna's first meal at the crèche was at 5:15/5:30 so they are used to being WIDE awake by 5am). We have them lay in bed "quietly" until 6am (today we made it till 6:25am cause Sissy came & laid with us and kept our two littlest monkeys from from being too silly). 

Once we get up we get dressed and head downstairs. 

Time to eat breakfast ~ the first week Alese was our cook :). What a blessing to have her!!! We have things like oatmeal, eggs & pancakes ~ we brought "just add water" mix from home ;) 
After breakfast we clean up & do school time!

We have 2 great students
This day we read "Wheels on the Bus" and drew a picture of what we might see if we went on a bus ride......Kaylee would see lots of people :)
Kaleb Jasse would see flowers :) 

And we have one crazy little monkey that we try our best to keep quiet and keep from ripping school work  :)
When school time is over we clean up & head outside. It's been very cloudy & rainy here and the sun is usually only out in the early morning so we take advantage of it then! 

We've been playing lots of soccer 
What a blessing this courtyard has been!!

After soccer we have "towel time" where we all head upstairs with a snack and sit on our OWN towel with our own set of toys and a buddy.  We *try* to have some "calm" play time......we are getting better each day at this! 

Next we head down to make lunch & eat! We have been having PB & J's, grilled cheese and apples or quesadillas  :) Then we read a couple books and the littles take naps. This is when we do Bible time with the big kids :)

The littles wake up feeling much better and we head down to make dinner. While we make dinner we put all 3 littles on the downstairs bed to watch a movie (usually one of us needs to sit in there with them). 

We eat dinner ~ simple stuff like spaghetti with noodles we brought from home, a little bit of canned chicken we brought from home and either canned green beans or veggies from local market here :). Also lots of beans and rice! 
Sis shopping at the local market ~ making friends everywhere :)

Then onto showers/pjs and more reading books and bed :). We don't shower them everyday  (we don't have hot/warm water everyday, but most days we do~ HUGE blessing!!!) 

Having this little routine helps all of us :). And we will be able to keep a similar routine once we get home so that will help everyone adjust ;)

Our sweet friend, Julienne, came over tonight & taught us how to make her amazing French toast casserole which we will eat tomorrow morning :). She also brought us a loaf of cinnamon bread from a local bread seller ~ delicious ~ we will definitely be getting more of that when we can! 

We've been walking to the crèche a few times a week ~ it's a nice walk for the big kids and Brod and I but it's a little long (and all uphill the way there) for the littles. Plus the traffic here is crazy and pedestrians definitely do not have the right-a-way!!!  ;)
Enna rides in the baby carrier ~ it's the only way I get her up these hills, lol!
Keegan surrounded with his buddies at the crèche 
Memory match game back at home while I get dinner ready ;)

We are all missing home (well, except for Kennady!). We realize how much we take all the simple things for granted like clean water and having a garbage system and a car :). It's good for us to be here & rely on Jesus & each other in this way! 

We went to Giant Market in town today & you would have thought we were going to Disneyland with how excited we all were, lol!
Each kid got to pick out 2 treats ~ Kaleb Jasse chose Oreos & a mini box of Lucky Charms :). Big kids chose things like chips & chocolate milk. Kennady asked us to stop by the local market so she could get avacados for her treat :) Kaylee chose Gatorade & fruit snacks :). 

It was such a simple thing for us all to get out but it really was a special treat!!! Just getting to go & choose some of the comforts from home is such a blessing! 

We've only been here 2 weeks but wow! We have really seen such amazing growth in Kaleb Jasse & Khloe Enna. They came from such a loving environment & that makes trust come much easier. They had such a solid foundation ~ what a blessing Chances for Children is!!!!! Amazing nannies that truly love! We can see already what a difference their love has made in these 2 little lives :)))

Khloe Enna's passport is ready for pick up ~ Kaleb Jasse's should be ready later this week.....praying passports come soon! 

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Markets Here

We have been learning to shop locally as the American-type grocery store here (Giant) is SO expensive! We can only go to the American-type grocery store when the Guest House Manager for Chances for Children goes into town (this is the only time we have a ride). I buy our meat there but we can't buy for the whole week as our refrigerator doesn't have power much of the time. We keep our meats in the freezer and it keeps it cool enough for a few days worth of meat ~ then we use our good ole' Costco canned chicken that we brought from home the rest of the week and plenty of rice & local bought beans ;)

Today I rode into town with Julienne (Guest House Manager) and she showed me meats that are safe for us at the grocery store as well as veggies from a beautiful local market (much bigger than the local market in Kenscoff where we have been walking to). I got watermelon, 5 large avacados and a pineapple for $13. 
At Giant I got bottled water, apple juice, some veggies for dinner (locally grown), ground beef & chicken, apples, tortillas, cheese, oatmeal, and some snacks foods for kids (cheese-it's, powdered donuts.....you know, the essentials, lol) and a sponge and spent $155 US dollars!!! I added it all up & figured it would have cost me about $70 at home.

I'm so thankful for our friend, Julienne! She's really been so helpful with teaching us which sellers to buy from locally and with helping me negotiate prices (they typically charge Americans much more). 
Julienne, Felicine (one of Chances for Children's sweet drivers........he is the first orphan that Pastor Maxime hired when he aged out of the original orphanage that C4C originated from....Pastor Maxime is the pastor that runs all the churches C4C has started), and Kaylee Grace & Kaleb Jasse. Julienne loves Jesus and it has been refreshing watching her walk out her faith here in Haiti :)

We LOVE this little break in the rain ~ lots of time outside these last two days :). But I know they need the rain just as much as we do ~ they've been in a drought so they are so thankful for every drop just like us at home :)
Alese, we miss you! Come back & visit anytime ;)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Our Boys are here!!!!

Sooooo thankful the boys arrived yesterday!!! 
Thank you, Jean Robert, for bringing them to us! And thank you for being the best neighbor anyone could ask for ;)
We love our boys!!! And Kaleb Jasse is thankful for more boys so he's not the only one ;)

We showed them around the property here then went out to dinner for my birthday :). 

And had fun with friends here joining us!

We all walked to the crèche today ~ we've only walked a few times. It only takes us about 20 minutes to walk there but today was a crazy walk.....LOTS of Motos and tap-taps that really don't care much about pedestrians. We must have gone at a busier time today because it was a lot harder to navigate & keep littles safe ;). There is a really sweet family that is on their two-week bonding trip that we got to hang with today.....they are adopting a sibling set of FIVE!!! It's been so great getting to know them and fellowship with another family that loves Jesus! AND they only live about 3.5 hours from us (at Apple Hill~ Carol....just up the road from you guys so when we go see you & Courages we can visit them once their kids are home!!
After naps we played outside a lot because it didn't rain earlier at all ~ we were so thankful to have extra time outside!!
We are getting ready for dinner now & ready to relax :)

We are thankful for this time to BOND with our littles (and bigs! We get sweet time with them in the evenings especially!) We are all trying to adjust to life here (except for Kennady, lol, she loves every minute!) but one thing I know for sure ~ we have WAY MORE time to bond as we hunker down here. 

When we first felt called here I thought we'd be doing other ministry stuff at the crèche just since we'd have so much time & originally we were going to be living on campus. Now I see that it is such a blessing that we are further away from the crèche and have this one thing we are called to: loving one another & helping Kaleb Jasse & Khloe Enna LEARN what family is and love them whole with Jesus' love! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Our Place in Haiti ~

We love where we live! We feel very safe (even when it's just us girls alone here). It's so adorable & very clean! 

We are staying on a huge property which is kind of a bed and breakfast (although there aren't any guests right now and it sounds like most of the time all of the rooms are empty but I think at one point it used to get busier.) We are in a separate little apartment just to the side of the main property but still in the same gated area. There is a huge wall surrounding the property and a full time guard (and guard dogs which are locked up all day and come out as soon as it gets dark.)

Here is what you see when you enter the apartment:
This is our knook area where we eat all of our meals. Starting later today we will be squeezing around with all 8 of us with the littles on our laps ;) Notice our artwork decor above the table? Water color paintings by the kids hung on twine :)

Through the double doors is the kitchen:
We have a fridge and a great stove that lights without matches!! 

We have our dish system all set up ~ one bucket for washing with dishsoap and a touch of bleach and another bucket with water & a couple tbs of bleach. We were taught this at the guesthouse when we go on missions trips in order to not get sick from the water. 
This is my little dish helper ;). At night it gets pretty dark ~ we do have electricity & lights they just don't get that bright. 

Here is the living area (sorry boys.....the TV is not hooked up) ;)
This was taken yesterday when the sun was out~ beautiful views and such great light that comes in each morning. 

The spiral staircase leads to the master bedroom where the littles and I have been sleeping in a very nice & comfortable king size bed

This is the area in our room just as you come up the stairs where we will be putting an extra mattress for Kolson & Kaleb Jasse to sleep (Brodie and I will sleep with Kaylee & Khloe Enna) 
More awesome bright Windows ~ no light in master room so they are much appreciated during the day!! The red suitcase is Kaleb Jasse & Khloe Enna's "dresser" and next to it is out toy area where we lay out towels and play

Here is our "closet" area (also in the master)
We have hanging space & the brown suitcase is my "dresser" ~ we have extra blankets & pillows stacked for nighttime (it gets cold here at night since we are up in the mountains). 
This is what our bed looks like at night ~ I scoot Enna over & squeeze in between the girls ;) 

Here is the master bathroom (we only use the toilet~ sink is broken & shower sprays right onto the toilet 😂) 
 I took this picture standing directly under the shower head so you can see how it would spray right on toilet. We just use shower downstairs ~ much easier!!
Here is downstairs bathroom 

And downstairs bedroom right off the kitchen 
Kennady & Keegan will sleep here

This is our view ~ and our extra steep driveway that goes up to the gate surrounding property. The house right in front of us has a little boy and little girl living there who sit out in the driveway and chat with our Haitian kids (yelling hello at each other over and over). It's really cute :)

I've been fascinated watching all of our neighbors. They work SO hard from the second it gets light (5am right now) until it is dark (about 6:30pm). I see women doing laundry all day......washing very early, hanging, then taking it all down when the rain comes only to put it all back out the second the rain stops. I see them walking to the market to gather food for dinner, carrying large bags back on top of their heads like its nothing. They are VERY resilient & work non-stop just to get the basics done.....then start again the next day. We are falling into this pace of life slowly but surely.....learning this simple way of living. 
My little side-kick helping me fill water bottles for the day :)

There is nothing easy or convenient about the way that they live but the pace & simplicity is truly a beautiful thing. It is such a gift for us in this season......all distractions being pulled away so that we can focus on what's most important ;)

Well......not all distractions......we do have electricity & pretty good wifi & we've noticed some of our Haitian neighbors appreciating that & stopping by to charge phones/laptops/get wifi. Our good friend, Jean Robert who has been our driver for the last two years every time we come, is our next for neighbor! What a blessing he has been!!! 

There is also a large courtyard that we play soccer in when it's not raining in the morning
We LOVE to get out & run around when we can ~ well, Enna doesn't want to run so we just sit and watch ;)