We never had a short term commitment in mind when we decided to move to Haiti. It has always been about the “Long Game”. Not because we presume to know God’s entire plan but because He has never given us an “End Game”. Until/unless that changes we will prepare to do this as long as possible. People ask us ALL THE TIME, “How long are you in Haiti?”. It’s a reasonable question as so many people make finite commitments to international work. We applaud their commitment all the same it’s just not an answer we have been given. So, we make decisions to facilitate long term goals. I want to tell you about a BIG ONE we decided on over 4 years ago, but before I do…
The Urban Dictionary defines the Long Game as “Considering the future implications of current choices, thinking ahead, being deliberate and patient.”
Shane Parrish writes, “The long game isn’t particularly notable and sometimes it’s not even noticeable. It’s boring. But when someone chooses to play the long game from an early age, the results can be extraordinary. The long game changes how you conduct your personal and business affairs.” You can read the rest of the article here on the Farnam Street Blog. https://fs.blog/2018/10/long-game/
From before day 1 in Haiti, Kris and I have discussed what this needed to look like for us to do this FOR THE REST OF OUR LIFE. We have made decisions for KONBIT, for us personally, for us spiritually, for us practically, and for us relationally to ensure we can stay the course. We believe strongly that impact is compounding. That as we develop our community and relationships spiritually and physically that it is most effectively accomplished one day at a time, year after year, and by God’s grace decade after decade.
Over 4 years ago, I sat in a dentists’ chair while she cleaned my teeth and I listened to her tell me about her life as a missionary kid. She loved it and was excited abut this upcoming journey for my family. She became more somber though as she told me about her journey back to the US from where her family served in South America. The organization they served with had a rule that all Missionary kids must return to the US for college. She fought that rule as there were universities where they lived but, she ended up having to leave. She left her life in South America and landed in an American university. She didn’t understand American teenagers, she didn’t fit in, this culture was a mystery, and she could not even call her family. She explained with some emotion how letters full of grief and loneliness would take 3 weeks to get to her parents, then 3 more weeks for her to get a letter in return. This hurting 18 year old would wait 6 weeks to hear from her family and she said it was by far the most difficult part of her missions journey. She begged to come home and was told by her parents to give it a year. She did and she made it, but she made sure I understood the mark it left on her.
I took her words to heart, and decided then that at the 4 years mark of life in Haiti, we would return to the states for an extended time. Our 4 year anniversary was May 7, 2019. Anna is entering her senior year and we are preparing her for college in the US. She has a good idea where she would like to go with Levi right behind her 2 years later. We want Anna to process all the grief, the cultural shocks, the differences, while safely within the context of her family. So many practical things too! She needs to learn to drive, take her SAT and ACT, etc, etc, etc.
As a family we really need dental care (will be seeing our missionary kid friend once again), all our immunizations are expired, and Kris and I have not been on a date in over a year. On a comical note, The dates we get look like a stressful drive to the tiny store attached to a gas station 7 miles down the road. Kris and I are middle aged (shhh) and all the normal health concerns are creeping up. Blood pressure and all sort of fun stuff. We need time in the US to get medical care and begin medicine. We are like 5 houses that have had deffered maintenance and are in disrepair. We have seen and experienced so much we need space to process and repair mentally. We will be in counseling and active participants in the happenings of City First Church.
The formal plan is as follows:
We will live in America for 4 months, from August through November. A wonderful church (City First) in Rockford, IL has agreed to host us in missionary housing during that time. They gave Lydia a scholarship to attend 5th grade at their school while we are there. This will be her first time in a formal school setting. Anna and Levi will continue with homeschooling as they do now but will attend High School chapels, school retreats, and be a part of their very active youth ministry. Anna and Levi want music lessons and Lydia wants to take gymnastics. Lydia is already planning her 10th B-day party at a trampoline park. Jeff and Pat Fanger, other missionaries with KONBIT, are kindly allowing us the use of their vehicle so we do not need to rent anything. God has used the Body of Christ to put the pieces of this together like I never could have imagined.
We are all apprehensive about this time. We know it is right and that it is a “Long Game” decision, but nerves abound. We are NOT walking away from this work or from KONBIT. In fact, quite the opposite as this means lengthier time on the field and an impact that compounds for years to come, we hope and pray.
What we need from you?
-That God would continue to go ahead of us in every way. Opportunities for our kids to engage culture and other kids in the US. That they would connect QUICKLY so that their time is fruitful in friendship.
-That we would make ALL the appointments and find all the resources that we are so behind in accessing.
-That we would heal physically (Dengue 3x’s takes its toll and so does being over 40), spiritually, and emotionally.
– All things KONBIT will be continuing as normal! Jessie Mathieu, Jeff Fanger, Pat Fanger, Stanley Gregoire, and Jeanette will be working their regular hours and all things KONBIT will continue. All job creation, all Meals on 2 Wheels, The tutoring program, even our community gate ministry. That means that all our expenses will remain constant. Your continued giving ensure that when we land back in Haiti in early December that we will just jump right back into what God is doing in Lafferonnay through KONBIT.
-We will be in the area and would love to come share with you over a meal or at a small group, ways you can partner with KONBIT. We will not be traveling over the weekends (so that we can attend City First as a family) but, would love to connect any other time we can. Let us know if you would like to connect or have us come speak during the week. After all the time we have spent in Port -au-Prince traffic, we are glad to travel some hours to come see you.
Our ministry in Haiti has continued to be busy and fruitful. Here are some pics of just a handful of opportunities we have had to love and serve!