To Haiti We Go – Christmas Update!

Merry Christmas friends & family.

We started our third year in Haiti a little differently than we originally expected due to all the hardships Haiti had happen over the summer. Over the summer, Haiti experienced the assassination of their President, a hurricane and a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The town where we live was very close to the epicenter of the earthquake.

We came back to Haiti three weeks after the earthquake and already so much of the damage had been cleared away but we still saw gigantic amounts of concrete piled up, huge balls of rebar rolled up and buildings that were severely damaged or completely destroyed.

The main store where we got our groceries at was destroyed in the earthquake but thankfully they had just built another store closer to our home. That store is significantly smaller than the one destroyed so things are crammed inside but we are grateful to still have a place to shop and one that is closer to our home now. Jim was very busy the first several weeks we were back, with earthquake relief. He did multiple trips somedays, going to the small airport we live near, to pick up earthquake relief that was coming in and then would bring it back and unload. The boys and April were able to help a few of those times as well.

After the initial heavy amount of earthquake relief was over, RMI started thinking more ahead to what we as an organization will need to do to help our churches and schools we have partnered with, in the coming months and years with rebuilding and helping them with all of the damage they had due to the earthquake. Some relief was immediate and quick and some earthquake relief efforts will be more long term and take some time to do. The past several months, Jim has been busy with keeping the internet going for our organization and several others. He was able to lead a team out near Aux Coteaux Haiti for a week as well. Unfortunately due to the state of Haiti, and specifically a lot of gang activity that is happening in the capital we are not able to currently bring teams in.

April has been busy homeschooling all three boys this year as Zeke started preschool. They first did a unit study on Transportation and now are studying Dinosaurs. Due to the current state of Haiti and teams temporarily not being able to come in, we have come up with a Virtual Missions Trip team and have been busy planning for that. After the new year, the team will be going out to some of our churches we partner with, with all of our equipment and shooting footage to later edit and put together. We will then send the edited videos as a complete Virtual Missions Trip package to groups & churches in the states that would like to have a fun day at their church where they get to “be” in Haiti with us, experience many different aspects and we hope to have some hands on things for them to do as well like food & activities.

Our Hope for Kidz team has been really busy and we have been so proud of all of their hard work. Even though the state of the country is rough right now, we still have 3,000+ kids RMI sends to school each year and so there is a lot the team has to do from pictures, letters, parent and teacher training, reports, accountability etc. RMI could not do what we do without our amazing Hope for Kidz team. April enjoyed helping a little bit with editing their photos that will be sent out to the families who sponsor them.

We had the pleasure of having 75+ people at our house for Thanksgiving and it was such a wonderful day spending time with people who we have grown to know well over the past few years. We are grateful for the community God has blessed us with and the leadership we are under with RMI. The 30+ people that RMI employs have become like family to us, and we are so thankful for the relationships we are building with them.

One thing this year has taught us, whether it’s from the ever-changing politics, pandemic, or all the hardships Haiti is facing, is that God is constant. When the world is not, He is. When the world makes us feel overwhelmed, He never gets overwhelmed. As believers in Jesus, we have this beautiful HOPE that the world does not have. We know who holds our every moment. We know who is truly in control. We know how this all plays out. We can REST this Christmas, despite the chaos in the world, because He lives!

We love you friends. We truly thank God for you. Thank you for your prayers this past year. May God bless you, encourage, strengthen and remind you of His great love for you!

Merry Christmas / Jwaye Nwèl

Love,
The Starkeys

To Haiti We Go – Summer 2021 Update

Summer is here and we have a lot of updates to share with you. It’s been a busy, crazy time since our last update around Christmas. The past several months have been unique as we were working around the pandemic and not being able to have teams come in. It was really neat though, to see how God provided and gave wisdom in what to do even when things didn’t look like they normally did for our ministry.

The beginning of the year was a bit calmer in Haiti and we actually were able to have 3 teams come. We would go out for the day to take pictures for our organization and meet the team. Then due to the pandemic, we could no longer have teams the rest of the spring and yet we were still busy praise God. We praise God that even through the pandemic, our Hope for Kidz sponsorship program is still going strong and we are so thankful for the students that are sponsored and able to go to school because of this. If you would like to sponsor a child through our organization, you can check out more information here or ask one of us! https://www.rmibridge.org/hope-for-kidz.html

Visiting the Nebraska Policard team as they built a house for a very deserving family in the local community.

Jim is a part of RMI’s Suntech team and he has loved being a part of it. When people and churches donate towards a church or school to have a solar system put in, the team goes out and installs and sets it all up for them. Jim has loved seeing the reactions of the people when the power comes on for the first time. Electricity is something we take for granted that the people in Haiti do not have for the most part. This is such a huge blessing to the churches and schools to have for numerous reasons.

RMI wanted to try and connect our Haitian churches with their partnership churches back in the states as best as we could since they couldn’t come down at the time. We already have our partnership facilitators go out and visit the churches every month to get updates and see how they are doing so that we can send those updates to the churches but we wanted to do more. Both sides of the relationships (those in Haiti and those in America) were greatly missing each other and so RMI came up with “Bringing Haiti to America” videos and so due to various factors including very slow internet in Haiti, we are slowly getting these done. However, the response from the churches has been great and they are so thankful to have these videos from their sister church. Dawn, April and Jim go out with various RMI partnership facilitators like Perguens, Frantz, Anderson & Edy! Dawn and April capture the ground footage and all the updates on projects, the school, church and pastor and his family. Jim uses his drone to get overhead footage of the church and school. April then edits the footage into videos that are sent to the churches in America. We also have been doing “Day in the Life” videos and will continue them after furlough. We highlight a RMI Haitian staff member and through the video, people get to know more about them, their life, their work at RMI and their family. It’s been a really neat addition to our Facebook page, so if you haven’t liked RMI’s Fb yet, make sure and do so!

FACEBOOK PAGE LINK FOR RMI: https://www.facebook.com/reciprocalministries

This was up in the mountains of Camp Perrin as we did a river hike one day with friends.

Our family is doing well for the most part, which we praise God. The boys finished out their school year and did wonderful on their year end testing. Reesie our sweet dog was really sick and we thought we were going to lose her but thanks to so many of you that prayed, we are so glad to report she is well and doing great. In May we added two new fur members to our family. Blizzard and Lemondrop, both bunnies! The boys are smitten with them.

We headed back to the states mid June for a few months of furlough. During this time we are speaking at around 6-7 churches and taking time with family & friends. It’s a great time for us to refresh, rest and share what God has been doing through and in RMI in Haiti this past year! Furlough is actually a really busy time for us with doctor, chiropractor, dentist, and eye appointments we have to cram in, speaking times, and spending as much time as we can with our family and friends…BUT it’s a good busy! It encourages our hearts to spend this precious time with them. We definitely miss our RMI family back in Haiti though during this time!

We would love for you to specifically pray for Haiti right now as their president was just assassinated a few days ago. Please pray for the government leaders in the coming days and elections that will decide who will be the next president. Please pray for the christian Haitian leaders across the country who may be tired and weary but need to continue to be there for their community and church. Pray for wisdom, strength and endurance for them and that they would model Jesus as they walk through these days. Pray for the Haitian families, so much I could say here because they are so dear to our heart, but God knows…so just pray for them to feel His love so deeply!

Thank you friends for your support this past year, our second year in Haiti. With our family learning to do life and ministry in Haiti during a period of time with country turmoil and a world wide pandemic, you will never know how much your prayers mean to us. We especially want to thank those of you that personally reached out with messages, emails or care packages. It touched our hearts that you think of us even when we are far away. God is so good friends, let all of us keep clinging to Him, trusting Him for every step of the way! Praying for you all and thanking God for each of you reading this!

Love,

The Starkeys

To Haiti We Go – Merry Christmas/Jwaye Nwèl

So many things run through our mind as we think about what we want to share in this “END OF YEAR” newsletter. As you all know, this has been the most UNEXPECTED year and year of unknowns most of us have ever faced in our lifetimes. There is truly SO much we could say but we decided to keep this one as SHORT as we could but with a LOT of pictures!

Our Hope for Kidz program!
Devotions every morning together to start the day out. This day included a little laughter too!
Jim eating breakfast with one of the teams this past fall.
An outdoor service that the teams do in the village they are in when they come.

One of the things I love about RMI is that we local source as much as we can. When funds are donated towards a construction project, we hire out local help instead of using all of our guys or having a team come down to build it all.

It has been THREE MONTHS now since we’ve been back home in Haiti. It has felt GREAT being back and getting back into the swing of things.

Year two has been such a better adjustment for us and we feel so much more at home this year. We feel more comfortable doing things, have developed more relationships, and have more of a better idea of the ministry things we are doing currently etc.

We still miss our family & friends dearly but we praise God for how He has helped this new land be our home too. So many people here are dear to our hearts now and we truly love living here in Haiti.

Our friend Perguens and Jim as we waited for our permis photos.
This is a VERY common site to see both genders, but especially ladies carry all sorts of goods around on their heads many times with no support from their hands. Very impressive.
One of the churches we partner with that takes a little bit of a walk to get to.
A time of prayer and encouragement with families near the local church and community where the team is staying.
Windy, Patrick and Marcel helping with our solar projects. A big GOAL of RMI this year is to go FULL solar at our facilities to help with costs.

Since we’ve been back, Jim’s been really busy with either taking teams out (we’ve still had three teams this fall as the pandemic hasn’t hit Haiti like it did the states), language learning, learning his new position as the area “internet guy” or other various things with RMI.

April has been busy homeschooling the older two boys, learning the language and getting tested by RMI’s depot supervisor to be able to drive the automatic car here in Haiti. They don’t have driving school or tests officially here in Haiti but RMI likes to do their own testing to make sure all drivers are ready to drive here in Haiti as it’s a NIGHT and DAY difference from driving in the USA. April passed the automatic test and will be working on passing the manual test soon as well. She goes out from time to time to take pictures of various projects that our organization is doing and of our school and church partnerships. She also is the one who posts on RMI’s social media from the Haiti side of things for RMI.

The boys have been doing GREAT with school and have loved being homeschooled. So far they’ve studied about Asia, Space, & Europe this fall. Zeke has fun doing some “fun” school with them, then going off and playing or reading with April. The beauty of living in Haiti is the boys have SO MUCH outdoor time to play in the beautiful sunshine. They have adjusted so far this second year SO well. They are thriving here and we praise God for that! Both older boys can drive the ATV quite well now, which they are super excited about.

Our home!
Wednesday market day!

Even though the pandemic hitting the world has definitely changed how things look for what we do here in Haiti, it hasn’t changed our mission or purpose. We have still been very busy with the solar & construction projects, Hope for Kidz sponsorship program, which is a huge undertaking and all the other things we do with our food, goat, and water filtration programs. The behind the scenes work that goes on in our organization is truly amazing. We have such hard working, dedicated people that love God and love people. This time has been especially hard on our churches we partner with, so we’ve been doing our best to help see what their needs are and helping where we can.

Daddy picked up some sugarcane for the boys.
One of the views of where we live.
Jim and Frantz giving devotions.
The sunsets here are breathtaking.

Si Dye vle, if God wills, we are preparing for a great 2021. Our churches in the states are very eager to come back to see their partner church here in Haiti. The relationships they have built over the years run deep and so both sides miss each other so much when things like a pandemic stop teams from being able to come. We are praying that Lord willing, our full calendar of teams this winter/spring will be able to happen.

Along with Jim going out with teams the week they are here, April will be occasionally going out as well and sometimes going just for the day to the teams that are within a 1-2 hour drive, so she can take photos and capture their trip and time with their sister church.

This gal would giggle every time I went to take her picture.
Family time!
Zeke’s good friend Anderson.
Kiah riding our ATV to the ministry office.

This has been a very hard year for the world. We have been grateful for all of you more than you will ever know. We have been praying for all of you. If you are reading this, we thank God for you. It means so much to us that you take time to read our updates, pray for us and support us in any way you can. That is very encouraging to our hearts. Being on the mission field can be lonely at times and feel kind of like “in between places” or worlds but it’s also a VERY good reminder of how this world truly isn’t our home.

For those of you on our financial support team, we know this year has been hard financially on many and that more than ever possibly, helping our family stay and serve in Haiti, is even more of a sacrifice on your part. For that we are eternally grateful. You will truly never know how much of an eternal impact you are making by what you give. We praise God for you, we pray for you and we thank Him for all of you who have brought our family to Haiti.

View as we drove in the mountains.
One of the schools we partner with!

From our family to yours, MERRY CHRISTMAS / Jwaye Nwèl! We love you all!