A Transformed Life

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It will be one year, 6 days from now, since we first moved our family to Haiti. What unknowns we had, what a peculiar first year we had, what depths of sorrow we had at times with missing those we love most and the life we knew for the past 35 years behind us and yet what great depths of JOY we had as well as He did so many things in our lives and hearts that we will forever thank Him for.

“Jesus is our STRENGTH and what we cannot do or bear, He can both do and bear in us.” – J. Hudson Taylor

Our furlough time and time that we’ve have had for April to heal is coming to a close and we will be heading back home to Haiti soon. We miss our home, our RMI family, our friends, and are excited to see even in the chaos of 2020, what God will do this year and we look forward to being a part, no matter how small, of whatever He invites us along to do this year. So as we prepare to head back, we have three churches we will be speaking at and meeting with another mission group from another church before we leave.

Just like last year before we left, we are taking this time to prepare our hearts, and spend some time with those we love most. We know saying goodbye will be just as hard if not harder again, but we know without a shadow of a doubt this is what He has for us and so we walk forward, rejoicing, with anticipation knowing that these goodbyes are not forever but what we give up now, will Lord willing, produce something far greater for eternity!

“All our difficulties are only platforms for the manifestations of His grace, power and love.” – J. Hudson Taylor

We would love to pray for you as you pray for us. Please leave us a comment, message, email or call us and share how we can be praying for you. What a privilege we all have, to have that access everyday, to go before His throne and pray for each other.

We would love prayer for the following:

  1. Finishing up well here with speaking, goodbyes & packing.
  2. Safe & smooth travels back home to Haiti.
  3. April’s continue healing with her gastrointestinal health.
  4. Transition into year two in Haiti, as Jim and April start ministry work, Jim works on a new position he has and April as she schools the boys from home. 
  5. For us to be aware in the moments God is wanting us to say or do something. For wisdom, discernment, grace & love as we grow relationships more this year and show His love however He asks us to each day. 

We want to leave you with this, a life transformed. I am sure many of you have heard of J. Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China for 51 years. What many know is of the life he dedicated to the Lord, the hundreds of missionaries that followed after him to China and the thousands since then who have come to know Christ. However, what you may not be as familiar with is the story of his praying mother. J. Hudson Taylor was actually living a life in the world, away from the Lord and fully for his own self. He left all he had grown up to know and learn from his childhood for the passions and possessions the world had to offer.

His mother, Amelia, knew the best thing she could do for her son was to commit to praying for him. One time she went away from their family home and was determined to pray for her son until she came to a sense of assurance that God would save him. She locked herself in her room and pleaded that God would extend mercy to Hudson.

Amelia, J. Hudson Taylor’s mother.

Coming home from her time away, her son greeted her and said “Mother, I have some news to tell you.” and before he could say anything she shared with him how she already knew because during that time away she was praying for him and God reassured her that Hudson had come to know Him. Amazing how the same time God was working in his heart, he came to know Christ and was praising him for his salvation, his mother was away, praying on her knees for that very same thing.

He shared their last time together and how she sat beside him on his bed and they sang one last song together and then prayed together. They then had to say goodbye, never expecting to meet on earth again. As he stood on the dock, and the ship left the gates, he said he could hear the anguish of her cry that came out and how it felt like a knife going through him. He said he never knew so fully, until then, what “God so loved the world” meant.

Friends, we share this to encourage you and remind you of the intense power of prayer. No matter what you find yourself facing this year, lets all remember to go to God FIRST about it before anyone or anything else.

“When we work, we work. When we pray, God works.”  “Learn to move man, through God, by prayer alone.” – J. Hudson Taylor

Praying this also encourages those of you who are in the parenting season right now, especially in this crazy year of 2020, that no matter how you feel as a parent, no matter how weak you feel this year, how you feel you have failed, or that you don’t have the strength to handle this year….pray! Prayer isn’t a last resort, something we do on the side or a plan B.

Friends, prayer is the most powerful thing we can do for our family. Fervent prayer on behalf of our family…WOW…can you imagine what things will come from that!

Love,

The Starkey Family

 

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.