To Haiti We Go – Summer 2022 Update

Hello everyone! I know it’s been a while since we have posted here on our blog. I (Jim with help from April ) will attempt to fill you all in on what’s been going on with us since our last blog post. If you don’t follow us on IG or Fb already, please feel free to do so as we do more updates on there.

To start things off, we were able to go back to the States for the month of December for a very special “Surprise” visit with family for Christmas! We had fun going to a Christmas tree farm and cutting down our own Christmas tree. The older boys remember doing this when we lived in the States, but for Zeke, we know it seemed like the first time!

We also were able to go see a BUNCH of Christmas light displays! Between the Columbus Zoo and also fairground light displays, April and the boys got their fill of Christmas lights, something April has definitely missed while being in Haiti.

We were able to meet up with a friend who is going to college in Ohio! Her and her family live less than a half mile from our house in Haiti. It was great talking to her and seeing what Ohio college life is like through the eyes of someone from a different culture.

Zeke turned the big 5 while we were back in the States! It was fun to spoil him while in the States. Because of distance between family and COVID, we ended up having a couple of smaller “parties” for his birthday.

When we returned to Haiti, we got right back into ministry and home life.

My (Jim’s) responsibilities are mainly maintaining the internet in our area. Me and Steving work hard to make sure everything is running smoothly. If you know anything about Haiti, you know that that is a full time job!

April has done an AMAZING job homeschooling our kids! From coming up with ALL of the curriculums, projects, and activities for our boys, her days are packed! It is so fun for me when I get home for lunch everyday and hear about what the boys have been learning.

Something that we had mentioned in our last blog post was April and I being a part of a new ministry team, The Virtual Missions Trip Team. Our goal of the team is to go out to some of our churches in Haiti we partner with, with all of our equipment and shooting footage to later edit and put together. This helps bring updates and share what is happening in Haiti, in a more personal and fun way through video! 

This has been a challenging project as neither April or I have had much experience with shooting and editing videos, much less doing everything in another culture. But our guys in Haiti have been a joy to work with and have been helping us out when we go out to the countryside to shoot video! We have been able to put together some videos as we put together this project. Here are two of them you can check out:

YEAR IN REVIEW GENERAL VIDEO: https://youtu.be/wjx2H8YnnH4

DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CHILD IN HAITI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgtlEWJ2F0A&t=1s 

A new fun addition this past year that we added to our home is a chicken coop that I built and April painted. We have all really enjoyed learning how to take care of chickens and we really love having fresh eggs to enjoy.

One of the new things we got to do this past spring was visit some friends in the town of Jeremie, Haiti for a weekend! We had never been up to Jeremie, and we were just blown away by the countryside and views! It was so awesome to visit new places and experience new things. We are so thankful for our friends, the Germeil family, for “hosting” us. They took us around and showed us the beautiful city of Jeremie and the surrounding area. It was so nice to relax and hangout with some friends and hear more about the ministry they are doing in Haiti.

The boys having a blast in Jeremie, Haiti as we visited with friends.

This year, April and I had something big up our sleeves. Back in February we started planning a surprise for the boys. We had asked Grammie to visit us in Haiti and she said YES! So in March, I had the privilege of picking my mom up at the Les Cayes airport. April and I hadn’t told the boys she was coming, so it was SO COOL when I pulled up to our house and the boys saw Grammie sitting in the car. They couldn’t believe it at first!!

It was so neat to be able to show my mom all the places that we have talked about, from our neighborhood, to the grocery store, to where I work at RMI, to the beautiful beach at Port Salut! And, as an added bonus, Grammie got to celebrate Micaiah’s 9th birthday with us. We had a blast showing her our life in Haiti!

Isaac and his friends doing a worship dance for the Easter sunrise service.

As travel restrictions have been lessened, RMI has been able to have more teams come down to visit their sister churches. A team came down at the end of April, as well as a couple teams came down at the beginning of June. Our fall is getting pretty filled with teams as well, which is exciting.

The earthquake last August did enough damage to a part of our roof to where we had to have it replaced this past spring to be safe. The guys did a wonderful job and it looks great.

Right now we are currently back in the States on home assignment for the summer. This summer has been packed so far. From getting together with friends and family, to speaking at 10 churches, we are definitely on the go! We know as you read these blog updates, you mainly see all the good that happened throughout the year, but we also have plenty of hard as well but through it, God keeps growing us and it helps us appreciate even more, the times of respite we get here in the states to visit with family & friends.

One of the things that has been a blessing to us, is that throughout the last 3 years, we have had amazing support, both through prayer and financial. This summer though, because of inflation and the cost of living in Haiti, we need to focus on raising more financial support. We need to raise $600 more in monthly support before we go back home to Haiti. Would you please consider supporting our family or increasing your support if you are already a part of our amazing team? Please click on this link https://tohaitiwego.com/donate/  or contact us directly and we can help walk you through the process.

Thanks everyone for reading this. Thank you for praying for us! Please continue to do so, for wisdom, for good health and for us to be watchful and aware of when the Holy Spirit is directing us to do something on any given day. Also be in prayer for RMI and all the people we work with and for the people of Haiti. 

Bondye beni nou (God bless you)

The Starkeys

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