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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

To Haiti We Go – END OF YEAR UPDATE!

“Our hope is not in the New Year but in the One who makes all things new!”

What a year it has been!

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80714296_10221305579646465_8796020699253702656_n In the beginning of 2019 we didn’t have a move date yet and we were still raising support. Fast forward 7 months later and we were loading our container to be sent over to Haiti so it could arrive before we did the following month. When we look back on this past year there is one resounding theme that keeps coming to mind…ONLY GOD! Only God could have gotten us to this point of moving our family to Haiti, only God could be the one who gave us such peace and unity in what we were doing, only God could do what He did in our hearts in the first four months we have been here. So much change has happened in our lives this past year, more than ever before in our lives and God has walked every single step with us.

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We love knowing as we enter this new year in our new home in Haiti, entering our fifth month here on the field, that God is the One who makes all things NEW, not really a New Year. He is the One going before us, before all that RMI does, He is the one who knows every single thing that will come our way this year and we are so grateful that we have this HOPE IN HIM! In Him is peace…in Him is love…in Him is kindness…in Him is joy…in Him is all we need!!! We have felt that more than ever the past four months here in Haiti.

(SIDE NOTE: The top image is from RMI’s annual Christmas celebration held at the Zanglais Ministry Center. It was a beautiful day held with all RMI Haiti staff, celebrating all that God has done this past year. The second picture is of our family being silly with reindeer antlers we made around Christmas time and the last picture is of Jim building a bike ramp for the boys.)

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FAMILY NEWS…

December has been a fun month for our family as we have been busy with a lot of Christmas activities with fellow missionary friends, the kids school and our own family. The boys participated in their first Christmas concert here in Haiti in the beginning of December and they did such a great job. We were so thankful for the hard work they and their teacher put into this because it was such a blessing to our hearts. Zeke turns 3 years old actually today, December 31st! We are so thankful for the gift that he is to us from God. We have loved seeing him blossom and grow just in the four months since we have been here. We call his language Zekaneze because it’s a mixture of Creole, English and toddler talk 😉

Jim and April have continued in their language studies and have been so thankful for the teacher that they have. Even though we have a long ways to go in our language study, we have come such a long ways since the first day we moved here so we praise God for that.

(SIDE NOTE: The first picture below is Isaac and Micaiah with their teacher Miss Andrews and their classmates at their Christmas concert. The second image is of Jim and the older two boys helping local fishermen and the community draw in the fish nets from the ocean. The third picture is of a really special night we had at our neighbors house. They are german and had us and another family over and shared stories from their Christmas time as a child growing up, shared neat traditions with us that they do and goodies as well. It was a wonderful night that we will always remember. The last picture is from a special Christmas concert that the local church in our village did that we went to. They did a great job! We loved watching a few of our RMI friends in it.)

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A HUGE thank you to each and every one of you who donated to RMI’s special food box fundraiser. We have been able to give out over 5,000 boxes of food, which equals to 1,080,000 servings of food! ALL GLORY TO GOD! Jim has been a big part of that with helping load the boxes each time they go out and then RMI staff take it out to the different villages, churches & schools in need. Micaiah even took part one time and went and helped load food buckets as much as he could. This has been such a huge need and blessing to the Haitian people with all the country has gone through this past year.

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The past month Jim has been busy doing various welding and other projects around the center and helping load food boxes to go out and be distributed. He is excited for teams to start in January when he can start going out with them and get to do that aspect of ministry as well.

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April has had a chance to go out to a few schools this past month with the amazing Hope for Kidz team and Jim went to one as well. It has been such an eye opening and beautiful experience to be a part of. It is so humbling to see these kids who don’t have much, get so excited over something like new bowls and spoons to eat their donated hot lunch everyday. We were excited to be a part of handing them out and seeing the joy on their faces made our hearts full. We love RMI’s Hope for Kidz program because school in Haiti is not public or free, it’s private and it costs money, which most of them do not have. So in order to go to school, most of the kids are sponsored. RMI has around 2,700 kids sponsored so far, many more still needing sponsored. We serve a hot meal lunch every day to several thousand students in all of our schools. April was also able to help with the taking of yearly school/sponsorship photos for us to send out to each of person who sponsors a child. The child gets their previous photo after the new one is taken and it is so fun watching their faces as they look at a picture of themselves.

If you would like more info on sponsoring a child yourself through RMI, please let us know and we will help you. It is only $32 a month to help a child go to school, get all their uniforms, supplies and even medical care when needed. You can send letters, pictures or gifts occasionally as well and they write back too! We got to meet the boy we sponsor this past month and it was so cool meeting him in person and talking to him and encouraging him in his studies.

PRAISES:

We are ending this year with VERY thankful hearts. We have around 77 families, churches & individuals that support us every single month so that we can be here in Haiti doing what God has called us down here to do. Without you, we wouldn’t be here so thank you for being a huge part of all the ministry work down here that RMI does because you are the hands that have sent us. You are just as much a part of this as we are! We are so grateful for you and we don’t have enough words to truly describe how much it means to us when we look at the list of supporters and see each of you giving faithfully, month after month. We know for many of you, it’s a sacrifice for your family and yet you do it anyways! Just think of the countless lives that will be changed because of what your family is doing! THANK YOU!  Thank you to EVERY SINGLE PERSON in our lives that has prayed for us on this journey, helped or encouraged us in some way. It has not gone unnoticed and we love you all dearly.

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PRAYER REQUESTS:

For the sale of our home in Ohio.

For us as we continue to transition and learn the language.

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We thank God for all He has done this past year and we are excited for this new year. We are looking forward to welcoming all the teams that are coming down soon and getting to do ministry with them alongside all of RMI staff here in Haiti this coming year! Happy New Year everyone! We love and thank God for you! 

Love, The Starkey Family