Homeless in Haiti? An unexpected turn of events leading us to…..God knows where.

Before we begin to share our journey and experiences the past few months, we would like to thank you all for your prayers, your support, and all of the encouragement you have provided to our family.

Many of you know that our family traveled to the U.S. in March. The kids went to visit grandparents and Chris and Tracy went with our church to Mexico on a mission trip. It was an amazing time with close friends serving in a different country building a home for a sweet family. On Thursday of that week, Chris and Tracy received a letter from the organization by email that contained the following information:

“Respire Haiti did not find fault in your family or in your actions, and this is in no way connected to performance or expectations. Ultimately, we have determined after seeking much prayer and counsel that this is just not a good fit for our organization.”

Our hearts were shocked and we truly felt confused and unsure of what was happening. We contacted the person that was listed on the letter to try and understand where this feeling of us not being a good fit was coming from. He had no further information. He assured us that we had done nothing “wrong”, but our personalities were just not a good fit for the ministry. 

So, we did all we knew to do…..pray and seek wise counsel. Our family, close friends, and home church have been rock solid for us when our hearts felt like crumbling. Our God has continued to use you all, His word, and His spirit to lift us up throughout this time. With the small time frame to pack and move out of our house in Haiti (by April 7th), we were not immediately able to find another place to live in Haiti. Our missions pastor and his family at FBC Midlothian welcomed us into their home in Midlothian to live until God gave us some direction as to what was next for our family. We arrived in the U.S. on April 11th.

Since we have been back to the U.S., we have felt and experienced the outpouring of God’s love and grace in amazing ways. We had not planned on this trial, and we certainly had not planned to leave Haiti. But, God is good all the time and His mercy endures. You may be wondering like we have wondered over the past six weeks or so…what is next for our family?

Listening, seeking, reading, praying, and resting in God’s love for our family has been the theme of our time in the states thus far. Over time, we began to see that only a couple of doors were opened. We felt a peace and believe that the Lord is leading us into both new and old places to experience His new plan for our family. Those that know and love our family know how much we love being both a missionary family and a coaching family. It looks like God is providing the way for that to happen.

After several conversations with a very well established organization in Haiti, we are really excited to be partnering with the Baptist Haiti Mission in ministry. The Baptist Haiti Mission is affiliated with over 300 schools containing a total of over 68,000 students. Each of these students needs to be sponsored in order to attend school and pay for school supplies. As of right now, only 1,700 of these 68,000 are sponsored. This is obviously an area of huge need. Our hearts were filled with passion and desire to help with child sponsorship. Tracy will be working stateside in this role…speaking to churches, service organizations, moms’ groups, and other groups, working toward getting all 68,000 children sponsored in school. Through this ministry opportunity with the Baptist Haiti Mission, she will still travel back to Haiti several times per year to update child profiles, love on kids, and deliver needed supplies. Our family is very excited about this opportunity to continue mission work in Haiti, albeit from the stateside home base.

Another great opportunity for our family came along a couple of weeks ago as well. Many of you know that Chris has incredible gifts and talents in leadership and coaching. A dear friend that Chris has worked with in the past has taken the Head Football Coach position in Dripping Springs, TX and has offered Chris a position to come aboard the coaching staff. Our family traveled to Dripping Springs for Chris’s interview and met some really kind people. Our prayer was that God would close this door completely if our family was not supposed to go to Dripping Springs. Instead, God has affirmed this decision in many ways. We are humbled and excited that God would give our family the opportunity to be a part of two things that we truly love….the ministries of coaching and Haiti!!! 

As we continue to serve the wonderful country of Haiti, your support is needed. Many of you have been very gracious in your financial support of our ministry.  Some may be wondering what this looks like going forward. While Chris will be receiving a salary for coaching/teaching, Tracy’s position will continue to be self-funded as a full time missionary. FBC Midlothian will continue to be our sending agent and will still hold our missions account. Therefore, all donations will continue to be received there. FBC Midlothian will also continue to monitor this account and hold us accountable through reports to the mission team. We have been very blessed over the past 2 years with generous people that have allowed us to minister to a country that has so many needs, and we look forward to partnering with you in the future as well. We thank you for allowing us to give the people of Haiti a glimpse of hope through Jesus. As always, your prayers, love, communication, and encouragement are tremendously valuable as well. We love you all so much and appreciate you walking this journey with us. Blessings to each of you…we hope to hear from you soon! 

 

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For Such a Time as This…

I can remember those times in my life when God has drawn me closer to Him and held me by His side. Some of those times are times that I wish not to remember fully…the death of a child, the crumbling of a marriage, and the feeling of devastation/loss of a friendship in turmoil. Looking back, I do however wish to remember the redemption side of each of those stories, the perfect plan that God carried out to heal my heart (and the hearts of others) and bring me closer to Him. But, other times…I wish to treasure and never forget the intensity of the lessons that God was/is teaching me. For such a time as this.

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God is showing me so much about who I am and what His purpose is for me. Our family has recently moved to a different place in Haiti. Change is good, sometimes hard, but with God’s help, it is a beautiful adventure. I don’t know if I fully understand what my role in this new community looks like quite yet. Of course, I always strive to be a Christ follower first, help mate to my husband, and an intentional mother to my kids. These are, and always will be, my first priorities, and honestly, they take much of my day. Little people need to be educated, fed, watered, played with, and encouraged daily no matter where you live (and on most days, this is such a joy to be doing).  And keeping up with the house, etc….well, it all takes time. These things are all things that are impacting eternity, although sometimes I allow satan to attack and I allow myself to think I am not doing anything worthwhile. We feel strongly about discipling our sweet kiddos and growing them into young men and women that will make an impact for Christ in this world.

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But outreach…what does that look like in this new community called Gressier? We don’t live in a village anymore…people are not just “there” as you pass by to talk to.  There are a lot more gates…and people tend to stay behind them. So, what is my role? God has shown me in the past week that my role is the same….to love my neighbor as myself and to be the hands and feet of Jesus to this community. The avenue to get there might be different though…a little longer, rockier, and even steep.  My love for loving others has not changed, but I am needing to reach beyond my comfort zone to apply it.  I feel like God has been telling me to get up and get outside, go for walks, knock on gates, start conversations, hold babies, encourage young moms. And so, that is what I have done over the past few days.
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And you know what? I can feel it…I can feel the uncertainty that was residing in my heart begin to fade. I can feel God’s purpose begin to fill me up again. And I can see that God brought our family here…for such a time as this. My husband has great God given talents that are going to blow the socks off of this community. He is in his niche again, and my heart is so happy for him…for such a time as this. And me? Well…I think God has given me a heart to love others, and to spread His love specifically to the women and children in this community. Bible study? Weekly lunch? Parenting classes? I might not know the details yet, but I know He has brought me here…for such a time as this.  God’s story is always better than mine. And His plan for our lives is no joke. He doesn’t need me to make the world go round, but I can sure bring Him glory while I’m going ‘round the world….for such a time as this.

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Pine Cove… The Place We Call Heaven on Earth

One week per year. The week we let all else fade away. It is our favorite week of the year. Our family new year. Our family huddle. A week of rest and spiritual renewal. A week that we vowed would always be priority for our family. It is Pine Cove..our heaven on earth.

We live in Haiti now. It is not always easy to make Week 2 at the Woods the time that we travel back to the states. But it has honestly become more of a priority than ever before. The gift of incredible leaders pouring God’s truth into our lives and hearts is one of the greatest gifts to our marriage and family. And the crazy, amazing counselors that rock our world….I really don’t know where or how Pine Cove can possibly find these amazing college students that have impacted our family year after year. But we are forever grateful for this gift…the gift of Family Camp.

From the moment we arrive at the gates of Pine Cove Woods in early June, our hearts breathe in a sense of peace coupled with anticipation. The anticipation comes from past years of incredible experiences and the excitement of what is to come this year. The sense of peace is rooted in friendships that run deep and a sense of being back home where everything is right. We often talk about Week 2 at the Woods as if it is the greatest family reunion for our family.

We ask our kids where their favorite place in the world is and without hesitation, they holler “PINE COVE”!!! The experiences that our children have been blessed with are second to none. DisneyWorld?? No way…we want PINE COVE!! Every single awesome, fun activity is used as an avenue to spread the gospel of Christ. Zip lines, water skiing, skeet shooting, horseback riding, CLUB, the BLOB, and Friday night carnival are just a few of the activities that our kids are swept away daily to enjoy. During their time with friends and counselors, my husband and I sit and listen to some of the world’s greatest speakers. And, one of our very favorite times that is carved into the schedule are the Tuesday and Thursday date nights (living in Haiti, there are no date nights so this is very special to us).

Words cannot describe the fun times and meaningful memories that Pine Cove holds for our family. Some of our deepest friendships have developed during our week at the Woods every year over the past eight years. Some of the times where we feel closest to God are right there at our favorite place on earth. God’s love, His people’s servant hearts, our family, and the beauty of His creation all meet up in one place…the place and time that we look forward to most every year….Pine Cove. Our heaven on earth.

In honor of our love for Pine Cove and Super Bowl Sunday, Pine Cove is hosting Super Goal Monday…what does that mean? Well, it means we have coupons available for discounts at Pine Cove Camp in the City, Pine Cove Overnight Youth Camp, and Pine Cove Family Camp. You will never ever be sorry that you invested this time and money into your family. So, Monday, February 3rd ONLY, you can register for camp and receive the following discounts when you use the coupon code SGMBLOG:

Camp in the City: $15 off

Overnight Youth Camp: $25 off

Family Camp: $100 off

So, go right now and do NOT miss this opportunity to save money and have the greatest time of your life!! Go online to http://www.pinecove.com or call 877-474-6326 and register for the most amazing experience ever!!!

(NOTE: I could post millions of pictures proving that Pine Cove is the very best place on earth….however, the internet in Haiti makes it very difficult to upload all of our fun photos! So, go to Pine Cove and take your own awesome pics because it will be so worth it!) 🙂

Another Year Gone By

Dear 2013,

You changed me. Forever. At the end of 2012, we had lived in Haiti for almost 4 months. Everything was new. Most things were different. And our family was beginning to see life differently.

But now, it is 2014. We still experience new things often. All of the things that we saw as so different feel so familiar now. And we are experiencing life in the most amazing ways.

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My prayer is still the same. Our family goal is to live life among the people of Haiti in a way that Jesus becomes real to them. The gospel of Christ…a story of redemption…the gift of grace and salvation all brought down to us.

I’ve learned the significance of the value of life. I’ve learned that although I sometimes think I want something to go my way, but God always has a better way. I have an increased desire for my life to be less about me and more about Him. I fail at this so often but God offers me so much grace.

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Our toes are wet. Our hands are dirty. Our knees have been scraped up a bit. Our hearts are different….changed. War wounds are there. Scars abound. Joy is complete. The rawness of life is sometimes beautiful, sometimes scary, sometimes nerve-wracking but always feels extreme.

He is malnourished. She is a child slave. Their family lost a child two days ago and now another child is suffering with fever. He hasn’t eaten in three days. She was beaten because she got mud on her school shoes. They sleep under a tarp on bed of dirt.

We love them all. They are family to us now. They have taught us so much about life. Our faith has been tried, strengthened, and deepened. I’ve seen the faith of the people around me and wondered if I ever really understood faith or even joy or loyalty. I’m so thankful for the example they set for me. Life is raw, but oh so real…a little rough around the edges.

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So what do we make of this? What role is God asking me to play in the lives of the people around me? When someone experiences tragedy, will they feel God’s comfort when I am around? When they experience joy, will they see the celebration of joy in my heart too? I hope so. With desperation, I hope so.

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So, thanks 2013. Some days felt unbearable, but God’s hand was in every moment. Our lives and hearts have been touched forever. Until next year…..

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A New Beginning….

Happy fall ya’ll!! We hope you are enjoying the beautiful season of changing leaves, weather, and football!!! With this season of change, our family has some exciting news to share with all of you as well. Over the course of the past year, our family has learned so much as a missionary family, enjoyed the wonderful little village that we live in, and served in a country in desperate need of Jesus. We are so thankful for the year that we have spent with myLIFEspeaks, and the wonderful blessing Neply has been to our family.

We are so excited to announce that we have accepted a position within an organization called Respire Haiti. Respire is in the development stage of a Sports and Recreation program focused on sharing the gospel through sports to the children at their school and in the community.  Chris has accepted the position of Director of Sports for this new program. We are excited to see Chris become a part of developing a program that uses his passions, experience, and comes so naturally to him.

We feel that anyone that knows and loves Chris will be excited for this incredible opportunity that is before us. There are many blessings in this move for our family.  Our children will be living in the same neighborhood as most of their friends that they attend school with twice per week. Tracy will be helping to develop a further vision for the special education classroom at the Respire school as well.

Although our hearts will be hurting in more ways than words can describe because we are leaving so many people that we have grown to love so much, we know that this opportunity will be such a blessing for our family. Please pray with us as our family transitions into our new roles at Respire Haiti. Specifically, please pray for our kids as they learn their new environment and miss their very dear friends in Neply. Please pray that the logistics and expense of moving will all come together quickly. Please also pray that Chris and Tracy can get some much needed rest and rejuvenation in the states before we return to begin our ministry with Respire Haiti. We are traveling to the states on November 22, 2013 and will return to Haiti on December 29, 2013. We will begin our work with Respire at that time or shortly after.

The love, encouragement, and friendships that you have all provided for our family during our time in Haiti has been amazing. God created us all for relationship, and without all of you, our work would not be possible. Our level of thankfulness and gratitude cannot be expressed with words when we are speaking of the magnitude of your support to our family’s ministry in Haiti. We love all of you dearly!

SAVE THE DATE!!

December 1, 2013

A Time Together with the Kings…

The Warehouse at 4th and Elm Church of Christ- Sweetwater, TX

3pm- Tickets $10

December 8, 2013

A Time Together with the Kings…

FBC Midlothian (only 40 tickets remaining)- Midlothian, TX

3pm – Tickets $10

Event info:
 A time of sharing about our first year in Haiti; silent auction; slideshows; and so much more!! Email kingctc@sbcglobal.net  to purchase tickets.

Haitians helping Haitians

I love this place. I love these people. In so many ways, their wisdom far exceeds mine. God has taught me after a year of living here that I need to stop and listen. Life here can’t be about getting a job done…it has to be about living life with God’s people. Trust. Lies. Unconditional love. Failures. Victories. Abuse. Reconciliation. Slavery. Freedom. Perseverance. Beauty from ashes.

I still don’t fully understand this culture and my motives are not to change the people here. As different as our worlds are apart, we have so much in common…Jesus, family, community, marriage, parenting, and life.

Sometimes the sweet people living in the village that we call home knock my socks off. Last night, I was walking down the path by the myLIFEspeaks house and stopped to talk to my sweet friend Carmella. There were so many people in her yard cutting and preparing food. She told me that they were leaving today to visit a prison and do some ministry there. I asked what that looked like and she said, “we are all God’s people. We will talk with them, tell them about God, and pray with them. Then we will give them food.” I asked her how many people they were making food for. “150.”

And my heart jumped. Maybe it is hard to understand the magnitude of this. Some of the families in our village can hardly feed their families every day or two. But they love The Lord and they want to share Him with others. Prisoners in Haiti do not eat unless food is brought to them. It reminds me so much of Jesus saying, “whatever you do for the least of these, you have done for Me.”

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The women cooked all night and loaded up to leave this morning. My heart sung as I rounded the corner and heard them singing praise songs and praying over the food and their trip. Kynlee and I joined them and prayed for their day of prison ministry as well. When they were finished, I told them how much I loved them and asked if i could pray for them. Man, I was humbled. We prayed and they left. And my heart was full.

I hope I never forget these days. I hope I learn to look to Jesus when I really want to think of myself. I hope I consider my blessings and give way more than I receive. I pray that my heart will soak in these sweet people of Haiti.

I pray that on the days that I am hungry or tired, I will remember the people that sacrificed their food to feed people that others will not and they sacrificed their sleep to prepare it.

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Humbled. Again. Thank you God.