To Haiti We Go – Summer Update!

“You can endure change by pondering His permanence.” – Max Lucado

It’s a rainy June day here in Ohio as we type this update to you all. The past few months have brought about a LOT of change not just for our family, not just for you but for our entire world! We are so beyond grateful that during all of this change, this chaos, this unknown…oh friends, we have such a constant, faithful, ever-present, and all-knowing God we can rest in.

Before we go further and share some updates with you, we want to pause for a moment and THANK YOU. Thank you for praying us through our first “year” in Haiti. Thank you for praying for April as you found out about her health issues. Thank you for praying for our family as we made the hard decision to come back on furlough early so April could get help. Thank you for all who have prayed, who have given items and financial gifts to our family this summer to help us while we are here in Ohio until we head back to Haiti. Thank you to EACH OF YOU who have taken the time to just ask how we are doing, how you can pray for us, stopping and praying over us in the moment and just “being” present in our lives and listening. What a blessing you all are to our family.

APRIL’s HEALTH: 

April's

After plenty of doctor appointments and tests, they were able to rule out some things that we were thankful for. April does have gastritis but we also found out her underlying autoimmune gastrointestinal issues were worse than she thought. As her acute gastritis situation is healing more and more each day, she is focusing more now with doctors on healing all of her gastrointestinal issues as well. Pain and symptom wise, she feels 85% better from when they first came back to the states. Daily she still has symptoms and she still can’t do too many things before getting weak and in pain but she is praising God for the drastic healing she has seen in the past few months and she is excited to see where she will be health wise in the coming months. Some huge dietary changes had to be done as well that she will have to continue with. Thank you so much for your prayers.

OUR CURRENT STATUS: 

Our original plans were mid July to mid September for furlough because of our niece getting married in September. Since we had to come back a few months early due to April’s health, the first month we stayed in to help April rest and heal. As Ohio has started to open back up some more, Jim has started having coffee chats with people to connect, catch up and share how our first season in Haiti went. April has been able to do a few catch ups as well within the past few weeks as she continues to heal each day.

As churches open back up, we will be speaking at a few of them before we head back to Haiti and will continue to connect with our friends, family & supporters on an individual basis as we can as well until we head back. As of right now, Haiti is still closed and we are not for sure when they will be opened back up for people to fly back in. We are assuming and hoping that by time we head back after our nieces wedding, all will be well and we will be able to fly back home to Haiti.  Please pray with us for the protection of RMI staff and all of their family as well, from the virus. Thank you! We miss our home in Haiti and we miss our Haiti family.

We have played a lot of board games and Jim & Micaiah especially have used the first month of down time we had, to put a lot of puzzles together. We also have tried to see both sets of grandparents & aunts/uncles as much as we can so they and our boys can have as many precious moments together as possible before we head back to Haiti. Isaac, our oldest, just celebrated his 10th birthday and entered the world of double digits. 🙂

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We are continuing our Creole lessons while here as well, which is a huge thing for us still since we are still new in our language learning and have a lot to go still. Jim will be teaching April how to drive stick shift while here this summer as well so when we go back to Haiti, she will only have to focus on learning how to drive in Haiti and not worry about learning stick in Haiti as well.

We keep in touch with our house staff a few times each week to see how they are doing. We miss them greatly and are excited to see them when we return. RMI has been working hard as much as they can during this time of the virus, because not only is Haiti dealing with the virus like the rest of the world but a drought as well, making food scarce right now so RMI has been making food deliveries to our church partnerships to help those communities.

We look forward to heading back to Haiti in the next few months to continue the ministry there that God has called us to. Our first year there may have looked nothing like we would have thought or even trained for as we went through a nation wide country lock-down in the fall and then the pandemic in the spring and April getting sick, HOWEVER, God knew and He went before us, He was with us and we felt His peace and presence. This year has grown us more than any other year has ever in our lives and for that, we praise God. During the months we were able to do ministry, we saw so many lives changed, were able to share the gospel, encourage others, and become a part of the RMI family there. We are excited to see what year two brings for God’s kingdom!

“God doesn’t call us to a convenient life, He calls us to an important life.”

– Ann Voskamp

We know right now, these can be scary times, unknown times, times where we don’t know what to believe, who to listen to or what is exactly going on. We have been encouraged by the story of David and Goliath. You see, just like with Covid-19, it’s a very real and present threat, it has done a lot of damage and it is scary. Goliath was a very real and present threat to the Israelites, he was bigger, stronger and very scary. They knew the facts…and the facts didn’t look good for them. He could wipe them out. We know some of the facts too, the media tries to tell us the facts they want us to hear, BUT we can’t be like the Israelites who got so hung up on the facts of Goliath and how daunting he seemed, that they coward back and were scared to do anything.

Let’s not focus on the FACTS around us so much to where it scares us into a life of panic and fear and instead focus on TRUTH! David knew how God went before him all those other times he faced animals in the wild as he kept his sheep. He trusted God with his life, with this battle and with the outcome. David knew the facts too, but He knew his God was bigger, stronger, more powerful and His God KNEW THE WHOLE PICTURE! Friends, God knows the entire picture of Covid-19 and we can trust Him with it. We don’t say this because we don’t want you to take precautions. Please do take precautions for your family. We say this so you don’t live in fear like the enemy wants you to. The enemy wants so badly for our world to be encapsulated in fear that we freeze, we don’t live our lives, we don’t keep spreading the gospel or living life to the full as God has called us to do. So in these unknown times, lets keep looking up to our KNOWN GOD, our God who sees the whole picture and our God who goes before us and will never leave us. He truly has the whole world in His hands. Leave it to him, rest in Him, seek Him, and let His peace rule in your hearts during this time!

Praying for you & thankful for EACH of you!

Love,

The Starkeys

To Haiti We Go – IMPORTANT Monthly Update!

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Hello friends! We will try and keep this newsletter short but have some important details and prayer requests in it that we’d like to share with you.

After our last newsletter in February, when we shared about the teams we both were able to go out with and all of the exciting ministry things we were starting to do, our organization had to cancel teams after March 13th due to the spread of Covid-19 in the world and borders being closed down. Once the first official case came to Haiti, we decided to quarantine due to a few factors including less medical care in Haiti and April having asthma. We went out and stocked up on food for a month and sent home our house staff, with pay, so they could stay with their families as much as possible too.

For Jim and the boys, the first month of quarantine went really well and the boys handled it great. We think because of us going through peyi lock (country lockdown) in the fall, it conditioned us for this. Being homeschoolers before Haiti anyways made it a simple and easy transition to school the boys from home. We are blessed to have a yard for the boys to run around in and plenty of beautiful sun to brighten each day.

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However, that month included a lot of health issues for April and a lot of pain. Friday will be 6 weeks that she has dealt with some severe gastrointestinal issues. Many days it left her in bed for most of the day and in pain. After the first month of it, we decided it was best to come back to the states where she could get tests, medical help and the right foods and supplements to help her heal. It was a very hard decision as our home is in Haiti and other than her health, we were doing well there. No flights can come into Haiti but they seemed to allow flights out every week or so.

Last Friday we flew on a small 6 seater plane with MAF missionary pilots from Les Cayes where we live to Port Au Prince to await our flight out of the country the next day. Our organization tried to book a hotel for us but they were all booked. Praise God for answering our prayers for lodging and friends of ours who live in PAP and had been staying in themselves, let us come and stay with them last minute and took us to the airport again the next day. From PAP, we flew to Fort Lauderdale, then Atlanta and then finally to Cleveland. It was a crazy 33 hours going through 6 airports, 4 planes, 4 cities and 2 countries but God was with us the entire time and we saw time and again the way He provided for us and led us. He gave April more strength then she had had in a long time to get through that day too.

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We were so blessed to have access to a place to stay during this quarantine time and as April is healing. Friends of ours, parents, have a place that they weren’t using and so for the time being are letting us stay here, which has been such a HUGE blessing to our family. April’s sister and Jim’s parents dropped off more than enough food before we got there, for us to last the two weeks we are in quarantine from our travels, before we can go out and get groceries. April’s best friend dropped off before we arrived, many healing foods and other things to help her.

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April has had a phone appointment with two doctors now, a gastroenterologist and her regular doctor. She has some blood tests and a CT scan of the abdomen coming up. Our guess is it’s a stomach ulcer, gastritis, pancreatitis or something along those lines but we won’t know until the tests are done. She hurts everyday but some days are worse than others so she is so grateful for the days she can sit out with us and help the boys with their schooling. Other days she is in bed for most of the day.  We do feel some healing is happening in whatever it is that she has but that she has a long road still to full recovery.

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Our home in Haiti! 

So where does that leave us? Well we weren’t planning on coming back to the states until mid July for our furlough because April’s niece is getting married September 12th. With April’s health issues, we now had to come almost 3 months early so we are not for sure how long we will be here. It all depends on how fast April heals and what happens with this Covid-19 situation and the government opening up etc. We are not sure if we will stay until the wedding and then head back to Haiti and do work throughout the summer remotely from our laptops and speaking at places if the country opens up or if we will go back sooner if April heals and then come back for the wedding. What we do know is that GOD KNOWS and we trust Him. We will look forward to the day we return to our home in Haiti. We already miss everyone dearly and the life God has started for us there.

In the mean time, RMI is still busy and helping as much as they can even during this Covid-19 situation. They have been reaching out to the churches and pastors throughout Haiti that we partner with and checking in on them and sending updates to the churches in America that are partnered with them. It’s been beautiful to read the correspondence and how they are praying for each other. RMI is also doing a LIVE zoom today actually with all of the churches in America that come down and do ministry with us. Thankfully so many things can still be done online and with computers so we are thankful for that. There is also school construction going on in Barth that is really needed there and so in that area there are no confirmed cases and they are working hard to try and get this school done for the children by September.

 

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QUICK FUN FACTS:

*Micaiah our middle son turned 7 in March and celebrated his first birthday in haiti.

*Micaiah lost his first tooth and was very excited as he had been waiting a long time.

*Our family even during quarantine, was able to celebrate our first Easter in Haiti and spent the week remembering all that Jesus did for us. We had fun doing a reenactment play of Palm Sunday outside. Reesie our dog was the donkey and we had plenty of palm branches to use.

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Zeke, our 3 year old LOVES to help so in this picture he was helping daddy hang up laundry. 

PRAYER REQUESTS:

*Prayer for April’s health and healing for all her gut issues.

*Adjustment for the boys and our family as we adjust to the cold, to life here in America since it’s so different from Haiti and much different than when we left it 8 months ago due to Covid-19.

*For God to show us even through this time, what He wants us to do each day and how we can be fruitful in this season.

 

To Haiti We Go – Monthly Update!

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Transition is a weird thing. You are trained on it, you read about it, you hear about it from countless others and yet until you actually go through it, you can’t fully understand and process what all comes with TRANSITION! Moving to Haiti was a BIG event, a big life change for our family and transition has been the process of us adjusting to that.

The first several months, including the holidays, had some tough moments for our family as we missed everyone and everything we held dear back where we lived all of our lives up until this point.

It has been so REFRESHING this past month, in January, to feel like we have taken a new step in our transition. We still have our moments for sure, and I am sure we have many to come but oh the beauty we have found in this month.

We feel like we are finding our FEET here, our groove 😉 We are slowly building our circle more here, which helps us feel more connected. It will never take away from the family & friends we miss and love dearly back in the states but we praise God for the brothers & sisters we have here that we get to work with daily.

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We were both able to serve with teams in January. Jim helped the first team of the year, who stayed local in our area to help build a home for a very deserving momma of 6 children. April went out a few weeks later with a church from Nebraska to Policard, which is high up in the mountains here in Haiti. We get to help be the “bridge” between both cultures & languages. We are praising God for two people that came to know the Lord in Policard! Countless lives have been encouraged, changed for eternity and given hope this month through the three teams we had that came here.

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When not out with teams Jim helps with any welding projects, other projects they give him around the office and depot and is the one that helps fix the community internet issues when things go wrong.  He also is taking language lessons and helping teach April how to drive in Haiti. He also helps with the boys homework after school and other family happenings in the evenings. He also drives to the local airport almost weekly to help pick up our community mail from Agape Missionary pilots.

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While not out with teams, April spends half days at the office working with the Hope for Kidz team, taking pictures of the day to day happenings with RMI to share on social media and occasionally going out on day trips where teams are, to capture with photography what they are doing. She is focusing on learning the language and learning how to drive here in Haiti as well. The second half involves helping the boys with homework, playing with Zeke and just being a momma!

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The boys are so loved here by the RMI staff. The teams have been so kind with them too and there are usually a few from each of the teams that really love spending time playing with the boys and helping them. Our boys talk about it and really appreciate it, they can tell when adults are “kid people”. One lady was a momma of 4 or 5 boys and she let them talk her leg off one lunch, about sea creatures, Wild Kratts & Coyote Peterson. She became famous in their eyes when she shared she knew all those things too and that one of her sons was on an episode of Coyote Peterson!

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On non-team weeks, during the week days we get up around 6:30 and get the boys to school by 8 and we head to the RMI office for morning devotions before we start our day. We pick up the boys at 1pm from school and have lunch outside with our house staff. One of the things we love is holding hands together and praying before we eat lunch. The rest of the day consists of homework, and other community events we may be a part of and family time. Team weeks, it looks a LOT different and is a lot busier but we love it!

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We are so grateful that our solar system is all installed and has been providing electric for us beautifully. This came at the perfect time because of some things here where we live and the house we live in and so we thank God so much for providing us with solar system. What a blessing it has already been to our family.

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We PRAISE God that we are in contract again with our home. We are praying it goes through this time on the buyers end and all works out so our home can be sold!!! Please pray with us for the complete sale of our home. Thank you so much!

We praise God for the language we have learned in the past almost 6 months. We have a long ways to go but it’s so neat to see where we have come. When April was out with the team a week ago, she teared up one time as they were singing and she realized she knew enough of the words to understand what the song was about.

We have so much to be thankful for. He has shown us so many things along this journey here in Haiti and our lives are forever changed because of it.

We love you all & will never be able to share with you enough, how much it means to us that you are praying for us!

Love,

The Starkeys