2016 Word of the Year

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Since 2015 was a year unlike any other, I’m not quite sure how it can be topped. But I’m more than willing to try. My word for 2015 was JOY. With all that was going on in our lives, all of the change and transition, I knew I needed to keep a sense of JOY. Not just for my sake, but also for the entire family. I wasn’t perfect and there were moments that I allowed heaviness to prevail. But I can also look back over the past year to all of those moments where life was filled with JOY.

Now as I choose my word for 2016 I’ve been going back and forth between a couple of words. But I’ve finally settled on one. PEACE.

There were many times of uncertainty during the past year as Robin and I left jobs, left our home church, left friends and family, sold our house and gave away almost all of our belongings. Even now in our new job, home, and country, there are times when it feels a bit heavy and the uncertainty can get us down.

Honestly, I think now that we are here, the uncertainty is even greater. We are still getting established and there are still so many things we don’t know. We had so many dreams and ideas before we came. We still have so many dreams and ideas; ideas we would like to try and ministries we would like to see grow. But we are not completely sure how our ministry here in Haiti should look. We are not completely sure how to prioritize our time and energy.

As we continue to learn more about the culture and the people, we want to get it right. But we don’t want to be paralyzed by fear and uncertainty. As we grow in our roles here, we want to honour God and honour the people around us.

So, as we seek what God wants for us and our family, we also want to seek God’s peace.

Which leads to my word for 2016…. PEACE.

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Slice of Life – Food

Food is such a huge part of a culture and a community. Living in Haiti means not just eating foods that are new to us, it also means shopping for food in ways that are different.

Different isn’t bad… it’s just not what we are used to and it definitely adds to our adventure. And one of the biggest adventures is driving one hour up a rocky mountainous road to the Palma Market. Just when I think we are crazy to be driving up here, I see an overloaded truck with wobbly wheels that is somehow driving up and I know this is possible especially with a rugged vehicle. I would make the trip up here when we want fresh meat.

Palma Market

Otherwise, I would shop at the market just around the corner from us. It has plenty of variety for local produce and also quite a few vendors who sell assorted housewares. It is helpful to have a large bag and a handy husband who doesn’t mind carrying the load. It is also helpful to be willing to barter. I know the vendors are laughing at me as I leave, but for the most part, the prices are excellent and I would rather not even barter but just pay their price. But I try.

Local Market

It is such a treat to have fruit that is vine ripened. It is necessary to wash all the produce thoroughly with a bleach solution and to carefully pick through the beans. But so far, I have been pleased with what is available locally.

As far as canned goods and non-perishables, there are a few vendors in town who carry a small selection. The store I go to the most is called “The Orange & Green” store. I’m sure you can see why.

Orange & Green Store

I can buy groceries such as powdered milk, margarine, canned peas, and also shampoo and soap. No need to barter here. Just pay the price.

Lobsters

It doesn’t happen often, but when we want lobsters, we wait for the fisherman to come to our door. Many of the cooks here make a nice lobster soup and it is worth the wait.

It’s great to have these local options but there are items that make a trip to Port au Prince worth it. There are plenty of choices there including mid size grocery stores. The prices are steep and I put back a few items because I just couldn’t pay the price.

PAP stores

But with our coolers in hand, we can stock up on some supplies for a few months. Port au Prince also offers some home and furniture stores. Again, the prices are fairly steep but it was fun to see the eclectic selection.

Ice Cream

On a final note, I would never pay the price for Häagen-Daas ice cream in Canada. But we called it lunch and throughly enjoyed our indulgence.

A New Normal

The parking lot of donkeys outside the market.

The parking lot of donkeys outside the market.

So, how are we doing? Well, I think things are going well. We’re settling in and getting used to our new normal. Honestly, it hasn’t been hard and it hasn’t been easy. It just is.

And what does that look like? I’ll start with the critter adjustments.

ANTS. For some reason it is a challenge to stay ahead of the ants in the house. So our new normal is me reminding the rest of the family to wipe off the counter immediately. Put all food away immediately. Don’t let any grape jelly flick off your knife or the ants will come marching in one by one until they are swarming all over the tiny speck of jelly.

MISQUITOS. Peter has not had a single bite and has not put on any bug spray. I’m a tad jealous. I douse myself with repellent at least 3 times a day and I get bitten ALL THE TIME. I’m hoping to find something that works for me SOON.

LIZARDS – Gaelle is not happy to wake up and find a cute little lizard staring at her. Today Peter came to the rescue and removed the zandolit (ironically one of the few words she remembers in Creole). I’m trying to encourage her to just ignore them. She’s working on it.

TRANSPORTATION – It is a challenge to get around here. It’s easy to walk to local markets and stores and we are blessed that WISH has suitable vehicles to go over the rough terrain. This week I tried my hand at driving. There is a larger market up in the hills and it takes about an hour to slowly drive there. So this week I went for it. An ATV was behind me and I had a fellow missionary next to me encouraging me over the rough spots. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment and relief when that morning was over.

A different kind of mule.

A different kind of mule.

BEAUTY – I can’t get over the intense blues and greens and browns that are all around me. The natural beauty is stunning and I so appreciate the gorgeous display. I wish I could adequately capture those moments and hold onto them for the rough times ahead.

The kids remember Haitian food fondly and were happy when Madame Foglas made griot.

The kids remember Haitian food fondly and were happy when Madame Foglas made griot.

9:00 PM – This has become an important hour in our house. Again, we are so thankful for consistent and reliable electricity, but at 9:00 pm each evening, the system switches to an invertor for our electricity. If we forget and open the refrigerator after 9:00 pm, then the refrigerator shuts off and our food doesn’t stay cold. So… note to self, plan ahead.

HEAT – So far Gaelle is the only one who seems to mind the heat. It has been hot and a cold shower at night feels sooooo good. But we are kind of surprised at how well we are doing with the heat and Gaelle seems to be doing better.

With any new season in life, there are adjustments. That’s the reality for all of us no matter where we live or what we do. For many of us September is a month of change as kids move onto college or new schools and after a summer of rest, a lot of programs start back up. Please know that we love seeing how you all are doing and we are so thankful that as we make our transition to our new normal, we know that so many of you are doing the exact same thing. We are not alone. We feel your prayers and your love.

That Was Then… This is Now

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THAT WAS THEN…

Dr. HC & Ella Sanders—Alice & Helen Sterritt—Earl & Doris Conley

Isaac & Ida Kierstead—Eric & Nina Haywood—Dr. Storer & Wilma Emmett

THIS IS NOW…

Dr. Bob & Brenda Bagley—Alicia Robertson—Robin White

Allan & Sheri Stevens—The Nune Family— Robin & Beth

Sunday morning was an experience that will be forever in our hearts and minds as we head to Haiti. The Mullen family are well known and loved in the Atlantic District for their musical talents. They just happen to be cousins of Robin and huge encouragers to us. Dan had the great idea of putting together 30 pianos in the Beulah Tabernacle in a program highlighting hymns of faith interspersed with stories of missionaries past and present. This was a celebration of Global Partners missions and missionaries. And what a celebration it was.

When we walked into the tabernacle Sunday morning, the air was full of anticipation and energy. 30 pianos. 30 pianists. 1 organ. 1 organist. 4 worship leaders. 500 people. 1 song leader. 1 music director. 1 narrator.

Dwight & Carol Mullen drove up from Kansas and were busy all week helping Dan move and tune all 30 pianos. Dan put in more hours than I can even imagine to pull this off. Edie Mullen has been going to Guinea, Africa for the past 10 years and her passion and love for missions was evident in her voice as she narrated the program. But she wasn’t the only one with emotion. As we sang the beloved hymn, “Jesus Saves”, our tears started flowing and I don’t know if they stopped the entire morning.

We have heard the joyful sound:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Spread the tidings all around:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Bear the news to every land,
Climb the steeps and cross the waves;
Onward!—’tis our Lord’s command;
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

I just can’t begin to convey our appreciation and love for the Atlantic District for their support of Global Partners, for missions, and for us. Sunday was such a highlight for us and was so much better than I could have ever imagined. Thank you Dan for your vision and hard work. Thank you to Peter Moore for your friendly ear, wise counsel and unbelievably inspiring prose. Thank you to all of our partners who have walked through this past year with us. We are so thankful for your faithfulness

House For Sale – SOLD

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We have been asking for prayer for the past 4 months for the sale of our house. There have been times that we have been totally confident and trusting in God’s timing. But honestly, there were moments when we started to wonder just what God’s timing was going to look like and those little seeds of doubt started to sprout. But thank you all so much for your faithfulness  and for joining with us in prayer. We are thrilled to announce that God’s time is NOW. Our house has sold and the closing date is August 12. Please continue to pray with us as we take care of all of the little details that come with the sale of a house. Thank you.

A 5 Year Growth Plan

May 19, 2015 --- January 27, 2010

May 19, 2015 — January 27, 2010

Adoption is a huge part of our family narrative. For those who don’t know, we began the adoption process formally in 2005. Most international adoptions are painfully slow and ours was no exception. Even though our adoption was not complete, the earthquake was the catalyst for Peter and Gaëlle to come to Canada and join our family. January 27, 2010 is a day I will never forget. Robin and I were waiting in Ottawa while some amazing men and women from all walks of life were assisting our children with this life changing event. You can see from their faces that the journey to the airport in Port au Prince was fun and exciting when it could have been frightening and overwhelming. We will probably never know the depth of their emotion as they left Haiti that day. But we do know our lives were forever changed and Peter and Gaëlle have brought more joy to our family than we could ever have imagined.

May 19, 2015 was another pivotal moment in our families’ life. We were blessed to be in Haiti for the Caribe Atlantic Area Missionary retreat. Not only was it a great time of learning and sharing and playing, but it was the first time Gaëlle has been back to Haiti since the earthquake. I felt privileged to witness this milestone as Peter and Gaëlle both stepped foot on Haitian soil together. Quite a few changes in them both but their smiles still shine.

What’s the plan for today?

What’s the plan for today?

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Our 9-year-old daughter asks that question almost every night and EVERY Saturday morning. We often chuckle at her incessant need to know the plan. And we do try to give the kids an idea of how things will play out so that they can be prepared mentally and know how to respond to the different situations they find themselves in.

But realistically, are we any different? We want to know what we will be facing. Then we can do a risk assessment, and an options analysis, and strategically plan how we will move forward.

Ok. Not every family operates like a business. And neither do we.

But as we say that we are stepping out in faith and moving through the open doors, we still want to know what that looks like. We still want to know exactly what God will be asking us to do.

After 3 days the officers went throughout the camp giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical Priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of 2000 cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.” Joshua 3:2-4

And so the words of Joshua 3 hit us really hard this week. …you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.

 We’ve never been this way before. But as we continue with partnership development and continue preparing to live, work, and serve in Haiti, we are confident that we are following God’s command for us. And as he promised the Israelites that by moving out and following the ark, they would know which way to go. So too, we will know which way to go as we obey God and start moving.

 

I Choose JOY

A few years ago I decided to jump on the “word of the year” bandwagon. I don’t know where the concept originated, but dictionaries choose one, scrap bookers choose one little word, and so in 2012 I chose my first word.

I’m not quite sure what my original goal was, but I found that my chosen word helped me to focus on something positive. When I was tempted to wallow in self-pity or some other negative emotion, my 2012 choice of HOPE encouraged a more eternal perspective and Bible verses like Romans 12:12 also helped.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

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Mug from Just Potters in Vancouver, BC.

In 2013 I read Ann Voskamp’s book “1000 Gifts” and so I chose GRATITUDE. I picked a Bible verse for every month to go along with my word and I found that focusing on gratitude was powerful for me. When I found myself worrying about something going on around me, I would consciously shift my thinking and start thanking God for all the wonderful things going on in my life. Before I knew it, the worry was gone.

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Shining Light Jewelry on Etsy.

In 2014 my word was generosity. For those who know me you may be aware that I can be just a teensy bit critical. So choosing generosity was a way to be more intentional about my spirit and exhibiting grace and letting go of my criticism.

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So here we are in 2015. It took me a while to choose a word, but once I decided on JOY, it seemed so obvious. I know this year will bring lots of changes for our family and me. Some of the changes will be obvious but I’m sure we will be surprised by some of the issues we will face this year. Through it all, the partnership development, the closing out of our Canadian life, and the transition to our life in Haiti, I want to be fully present and engaged in the moments that are happening now. I know that JOY is not about my circumstances, but for me this year, I don’t want to miss all of those small moments that bring me joy. I want to find JOY in my every day life. I want to choose JOY.

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Stephanie Ackerman from the blog Homegrown Hospitality.

Here are a few of the moments that have brought me JOY lately.

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Gaëlle enjoying the snow.

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A kid who will help shovel out the driveway.

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A text from a daughter far away.

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Homemade pizza.

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A scented candle on the nightstand.

2015 has just begun, but I know my one little word will be a constant reminder to look around me and be joyful in all of the little moments of my day.

I Wasn’t Expecting That

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I don’t know why but every once in a while, I’m just going about my business and life is moving along and out of nowhere, something completely unexpected and not so pleasant comes along. Over the past few months, there have been a few moments when I have paused, looked around, and thought, “What is going on?”

Health issues – Family issues – Work Issues

Basically, things that we all go through; just life. And there were moments when I felt defeated. But then, also out of the blue, somebody would come along and say something or do something that would completely encourage me.

A couple of weeks ago, a lady came up to me at church and said the Lord had spoken a Bible verse to her just for me. What an inspiration. I just love those moments and am so thankful for the obedience of her and others who hear God’s prompting and follow through.

The verse she shared was from Revelation 3:8. And it was just what I needed to hear. I wasn’t expecting that but I am so thankful.

Ministry of Preparation

As Beth and I prepare for the international mission field, it is becoming evident how much work and preparation needs to be done before we can deploy. I thought our mission field was going to be Haiti but have recently realized that we have a chance to influence others for Christ during this preparation phase as well. While explaining to people at work why we are leaving and where we are going I have had a chance to share my faith. It has been very encouraging to have these conversations in an environment where we don’t generally talk about God.

This past March I made a trip to Haiti and visited a small school on the island of LaGonave. I had been there before and each time the community had progressed just a little further on building a new school. However, this last time the school was at a standstill due to the lack of materials and money. The community had a plan and vision for their school so my friend and I decided we were going to do something to help see the school to completion.

When I returned home I started to talk about my trip to some colleagues and a few seeds were planted. We discussed taking a team of RCMP staff to Haiti and have them raise the funds needed. We are now a team of 13 and are well on our way to reaching the goal of $15,000 to finish the school. These colleagues are from across the country and come from diverse backgrounds. All of them are very excited to be able to help out in this small way. But, the best part is they will get to see first hand how God works in such a challenging environment, and through people of faith in Jesus Christ, witness dignity in the midst of poverty.

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Our Team Poster used to promote our trip in April.

This will be the first time to Haiti for all but one (he was born there). As Beth and I step outside of our fence of comfort, we are inviting others to step out with us. In the case of my colleagues, I am inviting them to step beyond their fences and hopefully see Christ’s love in the process.

Bless, be a blessing to others and in the process you will be blessed. 1 Peter 1:9