Exchanging Exile for Homecoming
Greetings! We thank you for your patience in hearing from us. These past few months have been full of activity and at the same time full of loss for us at the HOH. Unfortunately, updating the blog seems to always get pushed off the “to do” list as more immediate issues come up. If you find the time in between these updates too long, feel free to join our private Facebook group. I update that on a regular basis. If you don't have Facebook, I send those updates out by email as well, so if you’d like to be on that list, let me know.
Let’s start with some good news. We were blessed to receive two precious little girls into our family. Stephania Nirva & Stephanie Nyrie lost their mom shortly after birth. We were asked to care for them until their family can come up with a plan for their care. We are only too happy to help out in situations like this. Sometimes these precious ones stay with us for a short period, sometimes it stretches out longer as things don’t always come together as smoothly as we would like. In either case, they will be loved to pieces for as long as God allows them to be in our home.
Our students in normal school are finished for the school year and are now on summer vacation. The grade 9s and 13s had their tough government exams over the past couple of weeks, and have now finished many months of long hours of preparation. Now, we wait for the results – waiting is hard for everyone. The grade 9s need to pass in order to continue on in High School. The 13s need to pass to leave normal school and move on to learn a trade or profession.
My trip to the southern US to visit HOH partners went really well, until almost the end when we heard the tough news that one of our good friends and partner in ministry passed away suddenly in a boating accident. It was one of those unbelievable moments in life when nothing makes sense and you struggle to understand it all. We had just had supper with him 10 days before the accident on our way through Miami. I am pictured here with him, Renel Noel. If I started to write a list of all the ways he helped the HOH over the 20+ years we worked together, it would take pages. But currently, he was our main contact for all our shipments of food and supplies to the HOH. I was asked to speak at his funeral, and so I returned to Miami to do that. If you are interested, you can watch it here (my speech starts at minute 59:51) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpXiYXfc9pE. There you can learn more about this man who had an enormous impact in our lives over the years. While I was in Miami for the funeral, it was amazing to watch God start to bring beauty out of the ashes of this great loss. We are very thankful for the numerous people who stepped up to start taking over some of the things he had always helped us with.
We hadn’t even gotten over the shock of this loss, when we had another big loss in the HOH family. Linda’s brother Obed passed away. The past number of years, Linda has been Obed’s primary caregiver as he suffered with debilitating mental health issues. He was an important part of our family. When times were good, he was a big brother to all our kids. He loved Jesus and showed that in his calming presence as he took part in all our activities. In the harder times, our older boys took care of him until they were not able to any longer. Obed had to be hospitalized for the past number of months as the doctors tried to stabilize him again, but were not successful. His loss has hit us very hard, but has been especially difficult for Linda and her family. Linda and numerous of the HOH kids went to their hometown near Cap Haitian to help with the funeral. Many people from our community in La Pointe also traveled over there to be with Linda through this. Linda is very grateful for all who prayed for them during this difficult time.
If you remember back over the past couple of years, we have had a lot of loss at the HOH. In some ways, it is an inevitable part of having such a large family but that doesn't make it any easier. We are blessed, however to have the confidence that our loved ones knew Jesus and are now with Him. 2 Corinthians calls it “absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” but in The Message it's written, “to exchange exile for homecoming”. These two men who meant so much to us and the others we continue to miss have gone home, and one day, we too will join them. Where would we be without this hope? Thank you, Lord!