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To Haiti We Go – Starkey Family December Update!

December Update!

It’s beginning to look a lot like…SUMMER? 😉

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Holidays in Haiti

This is our first time celebrating Thanksgiving & Christmas somewhere other than where we grew up. We have definitely missed family so much but we have been trying to make the best of things and start new traditions here in Haiti for the holidays. Thankfully a sweet family sent us a Fall/Thanksgiving care package that really helped us be able to do some neat crafts & games with the kids. It’s harder here to find things and you can’t just go out to the store and pick up stuff to do neat holiday themed things, like we could back in Ohio so we were so grateful for that box.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with about 80 other local people. It was around 91 degrees that day. Many of the people we didn’t know but we did get to know a few new people and even had one of the families over to watch the OSU vs. Michigan game this past weekend. It was neat celebrating a day of THANKS with so many people.

The day after Thanksgiving, is the day we always decorate our house for Christmas and we would go out to the local tree farm in Ohio and chop down a tree. With the heat, and it looking more like SUMMER than WINTER 😉 haha, we knew we needed some help in getting into the Christmas spirit. We turned on Christmas music, a fake fireplace on our TV 😉 and had a blast decorating together. Thanks to donated foods that came in, we even were able to have hot cocoa with whip cream and sprinkles. It was a BIG treat as we can’t purchase whip cream here! Instead of chopping down a tree, Jim took the older two boys down to a field in our village and flew kites with them and the neighborhood kids that came down. It ended up turning out to be a wonderful day together!

We tried to make it feel as much like Christmas as we could, so it would help the boys have a sense of normalcy here in Haiti because we as a family did so many things around Christmas time in the states. We started on the Advent book called “Unwrapping the Names of Jesus” with the boys, which will have us learning about different names that Jesus is called and what each name means!

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We know around this time of year, people like to give and so we wanted to give a fun reminder that if you want to send anything to the boys or care packages to our family for the Christmas season, it takes a few weeks so sending now versus in a few weeks, will allow us to get it in time for Christmas. If you would like to see a list of items that are helpful or fun to have for us that we can’t get here in Haiti, our amazon wish list is HERE . Thank you so much!

Other family happenings…

We got a dog! She is a 6 week old female Rottweiler mix. We named her Reesie because her coloring reminds us of a Reese Peanut Butter Cup. She is very sweet and loves playing with the boys. She is quickly capturing our hearts and helping distract us a little, from missing family during the holidays.

We go to bible study every Wednesday night with the other area missionaries and we are so thankful that our friend Lee works hard at delivering a lesson that not only ministers to all ages but helps the littles stay attentive to the lesson. This night he did a play of when Jesus healed the lepers and only one came back to thank Him. The kids and adults were able to get involve in the play while learning about this lesson from the bible.

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April has been able to play and sing with fellow missionaries here in our village. Below is a picture of their practice for a special night of Christmas music coming up this week that they were practicing for.

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Saint Mathurine Waterfall & Day at Port Salut

This past month has brought a little bit of calm, enough to where we were able to go out twice, on the weekends, to do some sight seeing of this beautiful country. Our first stop was in the beginning of November to a big, beautiful waterfall near Camp Perrin. Our second time out, we drove through the beautiful mountains to Port Salut and went to a waterfall and then the beach! It was a beautiful day with some very yummy food as well. Jim & Isaac were very brave and jumped off a cliff into the ocean.

MINISTRY UPDATE!

This past month Jim passed his first drivers test here in Haiti. There is no actual Haiti test, but this is through our organization RMI, who wants to make sure all drivers are very capable and knowledgeable of how to drive in Haiti since driving here is VERY different from driving in the states. Jim already knew how to drive stick, so he just needed to practice driving in Haiti road & traffic conditions. April will learn here soon, how to drive stick so that she can start practicing to eventually be able to drive here as well.

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HOPE FOR KIDZ

This past month, has brought enough calm in our area, that the Hope for Kidz team has been able to go out to several schools. Most days they have been gone, as they are trying to get caught up and get to all the schools that we partner with. This is great news and it has also given April more work to do, which is great. She works on editing the pictures and information that comes in for each child.

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LANGUAGE LESSONS

We have both continued our studies this month. Our teacher comes twice a week and gives us hour long lessons each of those days, for each of us. We do them separately since Jim started learning in the states a few years ago and knows more Creole than April. We are both finding that it is much easier to read and write Creole than it is to hear it and understand quickly enough to know what to say back, since when we read & write it, we have more time to think and/or look things up. We look forward to the day when hearing and speaking is as easy as reading & writing is.

PRAISES & PRAYER REQUESTS

We praise God for the funding of our solar panel system for our house that will be installed soon. Parts are being ordered right now and everything is being figured out for the installation.

We praise God a great Thanksgiving.

We praise God that this month brought enough calm that more ministry things were able to be done and we were able to explore the country a bit.

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We ask prayer for our continued language studies. That Jim and April will be able to quickly learn Creole well so they can further develop relationships and do more.

We ask prayer for the sale of our home. The people who were renting from us and trying to buy it, can no longer due to things on their end so our home is now for sale again. Please pray for the quick sale of our home as this is not in our budget.

Pray for April & the boys as this time of year has brought more times of missing family so much and wanting to see them.

Pray for the RMI Haitian staff. For encouragement, provision and for things that God knows. If you would like to donate towards something special for the holidays, we would LOVE to ask you to donate to RMI and check the box for it to go specifically towards the Haitian staff. Go HERE to do so!

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We cannot thank God enough for you, our supporters. We go through our monthly support list every few months and we recently just did. It made our hearts so happy to see the faithfulness of month after month, giving that the families on our team have given to God, so that we can be here serving in Haiti. You will never know how much that means to us, that you are partnering with us in reaching and discipling people for Jesus here in Haiti. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Love, Jim & April

 

November Newsletter – An Important Update!

“Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with Joy….” – Psalm 34:5a

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We’ve been hesitant to share what all Haiti has truly been going through, for many reasons. We are so new here, so much to learn, that we don’t feel adequate enough in the knowledge of all that is going on, to be able to have a voice about it. So instead, we have been listening, loving, supporting and encouraging those that do. We also never want to come across and share information in a way that is not completely accurate or inflammatory, similar to what media does. We also don’t want to NOT share anything at all because we know that leaves you all in the dark to knowing what truly is going on and how you can specifically be praying for our family and for the country in Haiti.

Pretty much right after we moved here, all chaos broke loose in the country. Jim teases that it was because the Starkey family moved in. 😉 It has been building up for quite some time and the country has already been going through a lot in the past year. However, the past 2 months has been a whole other level of hardship for this beautiful country. In summary, there are many things from government & politics, to fuel shortages, economic situations and more that are playing into this. Due to all of these issues that are VERY big, the past two months the country has been without fuel for the most part in many areas and lack of food in many areas due to roadblocks/manifestations stopping the food and fuel from getting out of Port Au Prince and going to the rest of the country. Many schools, including those in our area, have been closed and barely open if opened at all since the start of school. Gangs are sadly taking advantage of the crisis and adding fuel to the fire of all that is going on. There has been so much turmoil that has happened just because of the roads not being safe and clear for passage through.

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Jim & Zeke praying together with the RMI family one morning during devotions.

We have not been able to have any teams so far and have to keep cancelling them for their safety.  I am thankful RMI takes that seriously and puts the priority of our teams safety when thinking about teams coming in. We also can hardly get out to the schools where our Hope for Kidz sponsorship programs are, because of safety. We have not been able to to travel hardly anywhere outside of our village and Cite Lumiere center due to all of the widespread turmoil. The boys have had a lot of school at home or half days in other locations, to help protect them against all that is going on. This has caused for many days of trying to be creative with our family, and trying to think of things to do in our home or on the little center we live on, so that we don’t go stir-crazy!

Even with all the protests, manifestations and roadblocks, we still feel VERY called to be here right now. While many parts of the country are not safe, and roads many days are not safe, we feel VERY safe in our little village/center where we live. The people here have only been kind & welcoming and have shown how they are watching out for our family. So we praise God for where we live. We at least have a yard the boys can play in and a 2-3 minute ATV drive area that is still safe for us to go.

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Devotions one morning were on how we get through hard times together. Going through something together is much better & easier than trying to do it alone.

We have been so grateful with how our field director here in Haiti with RMI has handled all of this. We are so grateful for the RMI family here in Haiti that we get to do life with. We love them so much already and praise God for everyday the office is open when we can all come together in the mornings for devotions. It strengthens each of us, to be together! We have had many beautiful times of prayer on our knees and in circles together as an RMI family, praying for each other and for this country. We have had great devotions on reminding us of the JOY we can have in Jesus despite our circumstances, on even when we go through a valley God is WITH us and that even if this isn’t what we thought we would be doing or expect, God is still working in the small things, in the things we wouldn’t have thought He would be! He just asks for our daily obedience, our surrender to Him and seeking Him to see what He wants from us that day. He has impressed on our hearts a lot about all that He can do through this situation to bring Him glory, people to His kingdom and that we just need to trust Him.

Please pray for Haiti! Pray for Godly people to rise up with boldness and courage to help lead this country in the way it needs to go. Pray for their protection. Pray for a permanent solution to the fuel crisis and government issues. Pray for the hearts of those causing destruction, to be turned towards God. Pray for the people of Haiti. They are going through so much, have so little and are so worn. Pray for strength, encouragement, protection, and provision for them. Pray for RMI, for wisdom in this new season with how they would handle it, how we can be a light during this time, and what God would want our RMI family to be doing during this time in Haiti. I believe God is working MIGHTILY in this crisis. I see their faith, their utter dependence on Him, their cries out to Him. He is listening, He HEARS THEM, He loves them and He has plans for them. So we do not give up HOPE because we know He is working!!!!

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Birthday Tacos for Jim’s 35th Birthday on October 29th!
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Little by little, week by week, we are learning more Creole, which is a blessing for us to be able to connect with our Haitian friends more.
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Jim and Isaac making fruit smoothies!
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Jim and the boys one evening at sunset.
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The boys with a craft/fall care package we received this past week that made them VERY happy!

FAMILY UPDATE!

Despite all that we shared above, God has truly blessed our transition here. The boys have transitioned way better than we could have asked for. We are human, so we still have hard days, days that tears come because we miss family so much. However, God is so good and has helped us through this transition. The boys are enjoying school and their new friends. They love our home & yard here and play outside A LOT. They love the weather and that it’s always summer here. Isaac has enjoyed making juices with the new fruits we have found here in Haiti, Kiah loves finding new tarantulas and bugs to play with and Zeke loves to play with Merita, one of the ladies who helps at our house. She is so good with him and helps play with him when we are studying our Creole, having lessons etc. We had our first bout of illness with Isaac but praise God, it was nothing too serious and he is healed now. We have learned that through moments like that, it just helps us depend on Him more, seek Him more and so through those moments, we grow closer to Him. Jim turned 35 last week so we celebrated him with tacos! We experienced our first earthquake as well in our second month. It was a 4.6 and was in the ocean right outside our city so April actually felt the house move when it happened. Praise God nothing bad came from it and we all were safe.

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PRAISING GOD FOR GREAT NEWS!

With the fuel crisis in the country, we realized how beneficial having solar panels would be for our family. Having solar panels would allow us to not have to rely on if we had diesel or not and would allow us to Lord willing, have 24/7 electric for our family. It would also cut down on our monthly utility bills as well, having solar panels. However, solar panels are not cheap and so we had just started talking about putting in our next newsletter, the need for them and we were going to do a fundraiser for them. However, God had another plan! A friend of mine from school days, contacted us and wanted to help us and asked how. We shared with him a few ways and God laid it on his heart to actually fund the ENTIRE project for our solar panels. They are PAID IN FULL and will be installed very soon. Not only does this help our family but this gives RMI work as well as they will be the ones installing them. Jim actually went out with the team a week or so ago to start learning how to install them as well. So we praise God for our friend and his willingness to follow Gods leading in this way to provide for our family. We praise God for this gift and are so excited to have these installed soon!

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Wednesday night bible study with fellow missionaries that live in our area.
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The boys doing their schoolwork at home, one of the days they couldn’t go into school.
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Jim and April both have had the privilege of giving donations a few times during the RMI morning devotions. Our friend Perguens translated for us.

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PRAYER REQUESTS
  • For Haiti! Please see first section for specific ways to pray.
  • For our family as we seek the Lord each day, on what He would have us do in this season.
  • Thank you for those who have been praying for Isaac. His schooling is improving slowly but he has a long ways to go so please continue to pray for wisdom for us & his teacher to know how best to help him and for healing in his body so he overcome the struggles he has.
  • We have three close family members who are going through hard health situations right now. April’s sister Monica & April’s aunt Nina both just had surgery and are healing. April’s dear cousin Laura is currently in the hospital fighting some life threatening situations with her asthma.

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We are still in need of monthly supporters, so if you have been following our journey and would like to become a part of our support team, CLICK HERE or contact us and let us know! We would LOVE to have you on our team and it would be a great encouragement as well. Thank you to all of our current monthly supporters, YOUR sacrifice of giving, is allowing us to be here in Haiti doing whatever God asks us to do. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Thank you everyone for your prayers, your encouragement, care packages etc. You will never know what all of that means to us! WE THANK GOD FOR EACH OF YOU!  

Love, The Starkey Family

OUR FIRST MONTH IN HAITI!

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What a journey this first month has been!

In the past month, A LOT has happened! Here are just a few of the things that have happened small and big, silly & serious over the past month.

    • We moved to another country and into a new house that we worked hard at to make a home.
    • The boys started a new way of doing school and met new friends.
    • We are learning to flick bugs off ourselves & food and make sure and cover up food when not eating so bugs don’t have fun in our food 😉
    • We have started sleeping with fans on us, well ok fans on us at all times really haha.
    • We have learned to drive ATV & motobikes around our village to take the boys to school and take us where we need to go.
    • We are learning what foods we can & can’t eat here and how to get them.
    • We have made new friends. We have cried. We have laughed.
    • We have wiped more sweat off of us than we thought possible.
    • We have missed our family and friends dearly, while embracing the new season God has called us to.
    • We had the privilege of going to the beach this past weekend.
    • We have started to learn the unique language of Creole.
    • We have house staff working in our home daily, which is a transition that we have to get use to. We already love them and can’t wait to get to know them more.
    • We get our meat & produce in a completely different way here.
    • We have learned to not put our seat belts on in the car until we are on the main roads because the roads in our village are so bumpy, that it hurts to have the seat belt on 😉
    • We have had fun running around in the warm rain that happens quite frequently in this season.
    • We make sure we get our showers in by 10pm each night when the electric goes off and we run on our batteries.
    • We have been learning our Haitian stove and so far its taking us 2-3 times the amount it did in the states to bake something, so it definitely has a learning curve 😉
    • We have seen a plethora of new creatures and some we already knew that are just used in different ways here or hang out in different places than they do the states. For example, goats just randomly tied up everywhere along the streets, donkeys and horses used to carry goods/materials.
    • We are learning how to pay for things in Haitian goudes.
    • We have learned to LOVE cold showers because its so hot that we look forward to a cold shower at the end of the day.
    • We have learned to be creative and figure something out with what we have.
    • We have watched the boys fall in love with this country, their new friends and yet process emotions sometimes of missing what they left behind.
    • We have learned that we truly have so much and therefore have a lot to be thankful for.
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The drive from our home and village of Simon to Zanglais ministry center & the beach is around 45 – 60 minutes. Thankfully much of it is a beautiful drive filled with mountains, trees and rolling hills.
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The boys LOVE their new way of going to school. They take turns on dads motorbike because its their favorite but he can only take one at a time. April takes Zeke and one of the older two and Jim takes the other. They switch every ride to keep it fair 😉

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Now that we have been here one month, we are moving onto the next stage which is LANGUAGE & MINISTRY! We are very excited for this. Last week we started our language lessons with Pastor Mezi and this week we start working with RMI doing our ministry work. Until Jim starts going out with teams, and in between when teams are here, he will do different projects and various things. This week he is working on welding and putting on a new railing on the stairs at one of the guesthouses that teams stay at, so that it can be safe for them. April will be training on how to plug in all the Hope 4 Kids program stuff to help them as this is their VERY busy season with getting kids sponsored, pictures taken and letters written from the kids to their sponsors. She is very excited to be a part of this amazing program.

Our mornings look like this: We wake up, get the boys ready and pray with them before taking them to school. Then now that we are both doing ministry work, Zeke will stay here at the house with Merita who will watch him a few hours while April goes into the ministry center. Then we go for morning devotions with all of the RMI staff. This is one of our favorite things as we open in singing, then one person is assigned to do devotions each day then we end in prayer and greeting each other.  April will go up to the office to work for a few hours before heading back home to Zeke. Jim will work more during the day then me at this time until Zeke is old enough to go to school. When teams are here, it’s a whole other story with how our schedule looks and so we will update you all on that next month.

Then at 1pm we pick up the boys from school and have lunch (the big meal of the day here) with all of us and our house staff. We look forward to learning the language more so we can conversate more and more with them during this time. Then on various nights here we have various things going on in the community from bible study, ladies tea, basketball, game nights etc! Remember, with not many options of entertainment here, we get creative as a little community to do things together, which we are appreciative of.

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We had a wonderful relaxing day at the beach this past Saturday. We are HUGE beach and water people, especially our boys so this made their day!

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PRAYER REQUESTS:

We fall in love with this country more every day and so then our hearts break more and more as we watch the struggles the country are facing right now with a fuel shortage & complications from that, resulting in little to no food, water, transportation, work etc for the people. The kids cannot go to school. Protests making it hard for anyone to go anywhere. Please pray for these resilient, hard working people that love their families just like you do, that love their God just like you do, that work hard to provide for their families just like you do.

Please pray for Isaac concerning school. Pray for God to continue to work healing in Isaac with some of the issues he deals with, wisdom for us as we guide and help him and his teacher as she learns what is the best way to reach & help him.

Continued good health & protection for our family. Also as we continue to transition to this new way of life and new season. Pray we will focus on God and not the things we are leaving behind or miss. That we would see this beautiful country and the people here like God does and that we stay so attuned to the Holy Spirit for His daily guidance of what He wants us to do here for His kingdom.

Thank you so much for your prayers this first month. Thank you for your support. Your faithfulness in giving how God has called you to, allows our family to be here and do what He has called us to do here. We thank God so much for you!   Love, Jim & April Starkey