New Friends, A Wedding Fiasco, and the Kids First Snorkeling Experience

One of our favorite places

One of our favorite things to do in Haiti is head to the beach as often as possible. We don’t get to do this very often because we don’t often have a vehicle to drive the 2 hrs it takes to get out there and it can often be very expensive for a family of six + (this particular day we had two +). We were invited to join our dear friends the Broersma family and got to meet other sweet missionaries the Hopp family beachside! The Hopp family lives and suffers for Jesus next to Kaliko beach. They were able to help us out with the expensive part of our beach trip since we were hanging with them on their stomping ground. Oh yeah. The Hopps have four kids, two girls and two boys like we do. And the kids all have E names like ours too! Their oldest son is also named Ethan. But our Ethan buddied up with their Elijah instantly. Our friend Emma was with us and the Hopp’s have a little Emma that buddied up with our Esmée. We had a really great time and so appreciate the hospitality and fellowship of our fellow missionary friends. A man with a boat came ashore where Ethan and Elijah were playing and suggested that he take them snorkeling. The boys thought that was a great idea. Since we didn’t have to pay for the beach and there was a wedding going on we were trying not to disturb, we decided to head out to sea and see something new. Esmée decided she would rather stay poolside with her new friend little Emma so she was not included in these pics. But unlike us she got first choice of hot food since we had just ordered lunch before deciding to jump on a boat. Esmée and the others that stayed ashore got to witness the wedding fiasco. Never a dull moment in Haiti! We also got stuck in the rain with a flat tire when we were trying to get back to a friend taken into police custody because we had his motorcyle papers in the truck we were driving! Like I said, never a dull moment around here! 
Wedding’s are a big deal in Haiti.
We had watched the guest arriving and waiting for hours.
The stage was set.
Musical tunes from familar disney movies delighted our children
 (American Tale’s “Somewhere Out There” seems to be a wedding favorite around here).
Wedding party arrived. Bride and Groom arrived.
The limo arrived.
We had never seen a limo in Haiti before.

I snapped this picture just as we were leaving for our snorkeling excursion. But we found out when we returned that this beautiful wedding was not to be. Apparently the groom was already married and the first wife found out about this rendezvous and showed up just in time with the police who disbanded all intentions of a marriage ceremony taking place. We felt extremely sorry for the bride though we wondered if she was an accomplice to the crime. Babysitting poolside on this day proved to be quite as interesting as diving for exotic sea snails.

And they are off!

I think I could hear Ethan squealing under the water in excitment at what he was seeing! 

Three peas in a sea.
They are more excited than they look. 

Elita Marguerite braved the snorkel as well. Emma was a great coach! Elita was excited to tell all about the things she saw underwater but she didn’t quite get the hang of the mouthpiece. She is always willing to try new things and we are so proud of her. We assured her that she will get the hang of it next time. 

I was very thankful for our friends that volunteered to watch our small Haitian + poolside so I could share my kids first snorkeling adventure with them. I think the last time I went snorkeling was on our Israel trip in 2005 when this guy turned one! My how time flies!
Our smallest Haitian +. He loves the pool and asked to go swimming every day. This was his last big hurrah before he was taken back to the orphanage. He was with another American foster family for 2 months after needing to be out of the orphanage for medical care and was with our family his last two weeks. We know the abrupt transition back to orphan life is very hard for him. Emma went to see him last week and he is certainly not the same little boy he was a few weeks ago. Please, please pray for his little heart to be guarded and healed and for his adoption to be completed soon.

This is our Emma who spent the summer and many adventures with us. We love and miss her always smiling face!

There is a reason those things are called masks. They might mask excitement and make us look silly, but they also help unmask God’s beautiful creation. 
Here is a piece of God’s beautiful creation that I brought up from a coral reef. It was a really cool sea snail! It ended up in the Hopp children’s salt water tank as a thank you for their hospitality! 

If only we had remembered to bring the disposable underwater camera we were saving for a moment like this so we could show you more than the sea snail!
Maybe next time!
Wonder who will join us next time?

Twelve years ago today…

“Since they are no longer two but one,
let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
Matthew 19:6
This is the verse written inside our wedding bands. Today on August 12, 2012 we have been married 12 years. Many trials have come during our 12 years together that would have threatened to split us apart. Remembering to give thanks and rejoice in the Lord always in all circumstances has carried us through to this day. There are so many things to be thankful for, but next to my Savior I am most thankful for my husband Eric and that he chose to share his life with me. I don’t take that for granted but also don’t tell him enough. I’m thankful for a husband that is deeply passionate about the cause of Christ, and whose primary ministry is following Christ unreservedly and wholeheartedly wherever He leads. This is what made me fall in love with Eric and what has grown my love for him. It has also drawn me closer to the heart of God in untold ways. I am in profound awe that God would pick me be the helpmate of a man whose great attention and love toward people of every tribe, nation, and tongue and his God given ability to reach them with the love of Christ surpasses anyone I have ever personally known. My husband isn’t perfect, but when I think about Eric, I think about Jesus. He is so much like Jesus…he knows how to love and love well. He loves me well when I am hardest to love. He loves me when I don’t love him back the way I should. He truly believes that this thing we are living in called marriage wasn’t designed only to fulfill our happily ever after but to make us holy…to make us more like Christ. And the only way to become more like Christ is to fellowship in His sufferings. I am so incredibly thankful that I am not fellowshipping alone. I am thankful that we are one. We are a team that is on the same page. The foundation for every decision we make together is who Jesus is, what He has faithfully done, and what He has promised to do. When the rains come hard and knock us down we know that our Foundation will stand and we will hold on to Him. We know that our marriage is temporal. It is for however many years our Lord has granted us together on this earth. But we want the choices we make together on this earth to have eternal value. We believe this is the reason God has brought us together. This is also the reason that the evil in this present world is a threat to marriage. But a bond of three is not easily broken. How thankful I am that we share the same Christ with the same heart. How thankful I am that the children God has given us to raise together have a father that models our Heavenly Father’s example. We will continue to brave the world together in His strength until He calls us home, or until “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” –Revelation 11:15

Twelve years ago today I married my best friend and I am so thankful for that day and every day I get to spend with him serving our Savior. 

Apparent Project

Welcome to The Apparent Project…One of my favorite places with some of my favorite people! The Apparent Project is located just a few blocks from us. If you have come to visit us you have probably been here. But you don’t have to come to Haiti to visit because the AP can come to you! Check it out here!
If you need to raise funds for your organization/missions trip, check out the bracelet fundraiser!! It has been a great success in helping people get the funds they need AND helping create jobs in Haiti!
If anyone would like to help us raise funds for our adoption cost while helping others in Haiti and raising awareness about Haiti please check this out!
Scroll down to almost the bottom of the page on the link above for more info! 

Haitian hands at work

Handmade Beads

Discarded Cereal Box

Apparent Project artisans make these beads out of cereal boxes that would have ended up in one of the many trash piles that collects on the sides of the roads and builds up the ravines in Haiti. 

Instead they are recycled into something beautiful that not only changes the landscape of Haiti but many Haitian lives. 

Ready for Remake

This is where all of our cereal and other boxes go to be recycled. It makes me so happy not to put them in the trash. It makes me even happier when I go to the Apparent Project (which I do often) and see what has become of our trash.

Once trash,
now treasure

Beautiful jewelry is just one of the things that is created at the AP. They also employ and empower Haitian artisans who make things like handwoven baskets, children’s clothing, crocheted handbags, hairbows, journal covers, metal art, and the purses that typically adorn my side. Here I am with one of the artisans that created my purse. Each purse or jewelry item includes a card with a picture and story of the artisan that created it. Such as…

Marie George
Marie George is a widow with three children. She is currently homeless and was working so hard in our new rag rug program hoping to save enough to rent a house and take care of her children. We saw her potential and started her in our seamstress training program. She is doing wonderfully and hopes to earn enough to rent a house. 

But the biggest reason I love the AP and the precious Clay family who started it is because they love the Haitian people, they get the Haitian people, and they understand the true needs here. They originally came to Haiti to help run an orphanage. They soon found (like many others we know that originally came here to do the same) that orphanages are not the best way to help the Haitian people. We are not against all orphanages necessarily but are saddened by their existence and do not believe that more children who are NOT orphans going to orphanages is a good way to help in Haiti. The Clay family has two Haitian adopted children like we do. We believe strongly in adoption. We believe that caring for orphans and the poor is a very good thing. But we also believe that families staying together is a very good thing too. This is why I helped start KOFAEL (update on that coming soon)…to create jobs that will help alleviate poverty and help Haitian families stay together. 

Alleviate. al·le·vi·ate/əˈlēvēˌāt/ 
Verb: Make (suffering, deficiency, or a problem) less severe. 

This brings to mind a blog another friend in Haiti wrote recently on this subject. We can honestly say that in our year spent in Haiti we are witness to the truths talked about here. We applaud, encourage, and support others like the Apparent Project that are doing something different and beautiful to change the status quo. We especially love and affirm their mission and pray that many others will affirm these things stated in Our mission: Keeping Families Together