“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
November of 2017, Jessica, Ben, Emily and I traveled back to Michigan to anxiously await the arrival of Nicholas. He was due some time in December of 2017. Turns out the 6th which is St. Nick's feast day. This trip home would turn into something that no one would have ever predicted.
Sometimes we have a plan. We set that plan in place and then a meteor comes and blows it to smithereens. Even after we pray about that plan and believe in good faith that it was Gods will. Even, sometimes, it WAS in Gods will. If there’s anything my adulthood has taught me about being a child of the Lord most high is that He can choose to change that plan. At any moment. Regardless of what “I” think to be in my own best interest.
Our plan was to come home November 4th, spend a month preparing for the new addition, enjoy Thanksgiving with our families, have a baby. Well, that happened as planned. We had planned on enjoying Christmas with new baby and family, spending January raising support for us as a family since we’re only half way to our monthly support goal, then leave February 3rd back home to the DR. This was the part that God had other plans for.
Instead, around November 20th, a blister I from hiking and walking the last two weeks we were in the DR turned into a diabetic ulcer. At the same time I came down with what I suspected as the real respiratory flu. The left foot became infected and I ended up at UofM with a small hole in my foot. I was given a days worth of IV antibiotics and sent home with oral. I was told to wear a walking cam boot. Stay off of it as much as possible and pack it with gauze. Throughout December I wore this boot. The entire time, I was creating another issue. It made me walk unnaturally on my right foot.....causing a blister to form unbeknownst to me. Well, after Christmas and into the new year, I developed a more severe infection than I had on my left foot, but this time, on the right foot. It swelled up and turned an angry shade of red and moved up my leg. On the 3rd of January, I ended up back at UofM. This time, they gave me IV antibiotics and sent me home with a different oral than before. I ended up back there two days later with a much worse and more swollen foot. I stayed there for about 6 days with IV’s and was released. Monitoring this healing process throughout January and into February with my team of infectious disease and podiatry doctors, they weren’t happy with my progress. So they decided to do an MRI. It turned out, the infection had reached the bone. Very surface level and preliminarily, however, it still needed to be dealt with. The doctors decided surgery was called for and I went under the knife to have it cleaned out. The worry was, I may lose the middle toe. So I agreed to have this done quickly and while we were in Michigan with good medical care vs. in the Dominican Republic with less access to health care. The surgery was successful in saving my toe. Obviously, our tentative departure of February 3rd was pushed back indefinitely. Here it is, April 4. I still have a small hole about the size of a pencil lead. Coming from a hole about the size of the eraser that went from the bottom through the top, it’s come a long way. I’ve been on more antibiotics than I can count and I’m still packing this dressing every day, but we have spent a lot of good time with family celebrating holidays, most recently Easter. My white blood cell count is still slightly elevated, I am still on antibiotics and we still don’t have a definite return date. We hope it will be mid April, but could be longer depending on the status of this whole deal. So as they say, time will tell.
The whole reason for this blog post is this:
No matter what our plan is, we need to always be flexible. Trust the plan given to us. Trust the burdens we are supposed to carry.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
I had trusted in the fact that I would be able to come back to Michigan and earn extra money by working. I trusted on my own abilities to supplement our income in a time where we needed it most; the arrival of another child. I trusted that I would be provided opportunities to work as a man. Instead of trusting the Lord and His plan. Subconsciously, I didn’t realize I was not doing that. But what His plan was for me was this:
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:2.
He wanted me to sit still and enjoy His plan. Which was, not worrying about tomorrow. Or, worrying about how we were going to support a third child financially. He had many things He wanted me to see, to hear and to investigate from the peaceful shore of still waters. From the silent meadow or green grass (or cold snow flakes) swaying gently in the breeze.
There literally was not anything that would’ve kept us home during this time other than a medical issue of some sort. And so, His plan was enacted to make that happen. If I have to be the recipient of those medical problems than so be it! I’d gladly take all of those versus one of our children or my wife. Through Him, even negatives equal positive. Sometimes we need something to remind us of that.
Please keep us in your prayers!!! We have so much work to complete that we’ve been called to! We’re halfway to our monthly sponsorship support!! We cannot do this without all of you! We do not collect a salary, all of our work is done through our supporters graciously donating their resources and prayers. With that support, it allows us to serve over 20,000 people in need along the border. Implement real change that is sustainable, lower the infant mortality rate from 25% and educate people out of poverty. We love you all!! You’re all in our prayers as well!!
Today I want to update everyone on our petition to Cross Catholic International for assistance with the El Chivo Preschool. Last year we contacted Cross Catholic International about the possibility of partnering to ensure the success of our Preschool & Child Development center in El Chivo. This is a project very close to my heart for many reasons. Most notably, however, because it is the multi-faceted solution to a problem that we face daily -- severe childhood malnutrition. Some of you may remember that several years ago we, along with dedicated teams of volunteers, took in severely malnourished children while the Nutrition Center was temporarily closed. While that season was chaotic (imagine 15 sick toddlers converging on one space... lots of giggling but also lots of craziness), it was also eye-opening. We took a front row seat to the lives of those who live on the Haiti-Dominican border. We saw it all -- everything from loving families that simply didn't have the resources to care for their little ones to children that had been neglected, abused and in the worst of cases even used in ritualistic ways.
However, as with many seasons of life, this one came to an end as well. The renovations on the Nutrition Center were eventually done and we transferred the children to their care as soon as the facility was re-opened. Talk about transition. We went from being parental figures for many children to empty nesters overnight. Even though we weren't responsible for direct care anymore, we couldn't forget their faces, their names and their stories. And we wanted to stop it from happening to more children. We moved from being a band-aid on the boo boo to trying to solve the root issue(s).
Lots of long discussions and brain storming sessions later we launched the Preschool & Child Development Center in El Chivo (in the Spanish version of the official title Sr. Roselyn's name is in there somewhere... but after re-typing this sentence like 4 times I can't seem to translate it appropriately into English... so just know that we named the project after her lol). This project aims to provide a safe place for children to eat, play and learn while their parents are working, thus combating some of the top causes of severe malnourishment. We desire to lay the groundwork for educational and social success by exposing children ages 3-5 to Christian values alongside a preschool curriculum.
After contacting Cross Catholic and explaining the project itself, we asked for assistance via a connection that long-time BBOH supporter, Rose Marie Smillie, made for us. To our surprise and great pleasure, they replied and set up a site visit with one of their on-the-ground facilitators. Fast forward 6 months or so, and we are happy to announce that we are the recipients of a $10,000 Vehicle Grant through Cross Catholic International. We used these funds to purchase a new-to-us Land Cruiser dedicated to the needs of the preschool (think school bus meets grocery- getter). This means that the kids don't have to ride to the school packed into the back of a pickup truck (exposed to the extreme heat, rain and in danger of falling out), but rather inside of a 4x4 vehicle equipped for the rough terrain.
We could not be more grateful for the partnership with Cross Catholic. They are a phenomenal organization to work with -- thorough, passionate and sincere. Sending a huge THANK YOU to all of the CCI staff that worked on our proposal and to their donors who makes partnerships like this one possible.
Many people have asked so I want to make sure that I say a few words about Nelson as well. If you aren't sure who Nelson is, please read this post and this one too. He is doing SO well. Nelson continues to live in Port-au-Prince with Sr. Luevia. She has graciously allowed him to live in a home associated with her projects and diligently saw to it that he is in school and learning. Kailey has spoken with him several times and gives a glowing report each time -- he is healthy, happy and learning. God is good. And so is Sr. Lluevia ;) Kailey is planning to go to PAP to visit him as soon as she can. If you would like to support this cost or contribute to the cost of Nelson's schooling and living expenses, please let us know! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and support for Nelson. Your kindness is encouraging. Thank you!
For healing in Adam's feet, that we may be able to travel soon.
For continued guidance as we plan and prepare for long term volunteers and begin new projects.
For successful support raising while we are here in the States.
We are Catholic lay missionaries serving along the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Join the Support Team today!
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