As I mentioned in the last blog post, the beginning of the year brings with it a few different tendencies. We have the tendency to look back (ESPN always did an especially good job of this the last week of the year by showing the year’s greatest plays), to look forward, and to resolve to make changes to our lives. In that spirit, we are going to do a review of 2016. We will start with just an overview of the events that transpired and close the blog with some takeaways for our ministry. The following were some of the major events that happened this past year:
- We moved out of Hope Rising and started fresh and on our own for the very first time. Our official move-in date was March 1. (Click here to read more)
- We had wonderful teams from FBC LaGrange, Christ’s Church in Jacksonville, an ATN team, and others who came down and helped us minister to our community and to our kids.
- We had 2 great large-scale fundraisers in Jacksonville in April and in LaGrange in October (these are annual events so please let us know if you want to get involved).
- Our Sponsorship Program has continued to be the backbone of our ministry. It provides financial support, prayer support, and it allows a level of intimacy between our kids and our supporters at home. Sponsors send gifts, cards, pictures, etc. to their children and have the opportunity to come down in person to meet face-to-face.
- All of our kids (except Mvinsley who was too young to be in second grade anyway and needed to repeat) passed and moved onto the next grade in school! This is an amazing accomplishment considering only 4 kids passed the first year we were with them.
- Sophie made her first trip down to Haiti in May. If you have not seen the video of her with the kids, you really need to. I may be partial, but it is one of the greatest videos I have ever seen. (Go to our Facebook page to view the video)
- We had our first 2 medical emergencies, and our staff handled them perfectly (we were in the states both times). Maekin fell off of his bike and had a compound fracture in his forearm and Woodly fell out of a mango tree and had to be taken by helicopter to Port to make sure he did not have skull fracture.
- Hurricane Matthew made landfall just a few miles away from where we live here in Haiti so we sent Sophie and Jess home the day before it hit. It turned out the Hurricane was heading right for Jacksonville (where Sophie and Jess landed afer leaving Haiti) so we each had to weather the storm in separate places. We both ended up being just fine. (Click here to read more)
- We hired additional employees to bring our total to 30 people who work for All Things New. This is one of our favorite accomplishments because of the unemployment rate in our area.
As you can tell, I am hitting some of the highlights for the past year. I do not want to be dishonest and tell you everything was always great because we all know that is not true. No business, ministry, family, or person can make the claim that everything is always good. We have challenges and setbacks just like anyone else. There were times that we struggled financially as an organization, bringing Sophie down and learning how to live with her in Haiti was tough, and living life in a different culture is always stressful and difficult. Today, however, is a day to look back at 2016 as a year that GOD chose to bless All Things New, and He used you to bring many of those blessings. We learned how incredible our employees are. Our House Mom Manager, Gina, was a huge blessing while we were in the states getting Sophie ready to come. Lener, our assistant in many different areas, helped to run things on a daily basis and keep our vehicles running and our supplies stocked while we were gone. The truth is, all of our employees handled our absence with skill and class and that is the reason that we feel comfortable leaving again to adopt our son Elijah. One of the biggest blessings GOD has given us is that He has helped us assemble an incredible team of Haitian employees that we can trust and rely on while we are gone.
Probably the greatest thing that GOD has shown us is that we can trust in Him. When I was taken to court (Click Here to read the story) here it was scary. Jess and Sophie were here and we had no idea how it would turn out. When Hurricane Matthew hit just a few miles down the road and Jess and Sophie were in Jacksonville and it hit there also, it was a little scary. When we found out that Woodly was being taken to Port Au Prince by helicopter because of a head injury and we were in America, it was a little scary. When we had to use a lot of the reserves we had saved up to rent 2 homes, supply them with water and electricity, and make them livable it was a little scary. When Sophie’s room was consistently 97 degrees at night when she was supposed to be sleeping, it was a little scary. When we had 1 month to find 2 rental houses next to each other, one of which needed to be able to house 19 kids and house moms it was a little scary. I could go on and on, but you see my point. All of these things that happened helped us to rely more and more on GOD and the love that He has for His children. These situations all worked out, but even if they had not, we can look back and say that GOD was with us. When we struggled He was there to bring us peace. When we were happy He was there to rejoice with us. When we were scared He was there to be our strength and courage. When we lacked faith He provided the faith we needed. When we were strong it was His strength we were using. GOD showed us, and is still teaching us, what faith is supposed to look like. Faith is not succeeding in all circumstances or being grateful when everything works out in our favor. Faith is knowing that GOD is there no matter what. Let’s just pray that He keeps moving us deeper and deeper in our faith and love for Him.