God will take care of you…

It’s Monday night, March 23. The routine is the same, but our hearts ache. Nurse Eden, brush her teeth, read her bedtime story, pray and sing her lullaby. We start singing the verse, “No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you” and tears stream from his eyes. We don’t know when Jeff will be able to sing to Eden again. It could be weeks, it could be months. To lighten the mood, Eden thinks Daddy is laughing and starts to chuckle. We end the song in tears and laughter. 

Rewind. 

Jeff has started working but things have been slow paced as he eases himself into the workings of the hospital. We begin adjusting to our routines and settle into our new space. Eden begins to walk more confidently outside with the rocks, leaves, flowers, dogs and chickens. Despite the poverty and crime all around us, life is peaceful within the hospital gates. We feel safe in our little compound with eight missionaries living in a fenced off area. It’s breezy and the sun shines.

On Sabbath afternoon, we take our usual walk around the neighborhood and up into the hills. We receive the familiar stares and “Chinwa” (Chinese) comments that I have come to understand, but this time was different. As we keep walking, some utter “Kowonaviris” and others cover their nose and mouth. I begin to sense the reality of our situation if COVID-19 enters Haiti. How will the people respond? There is a possible case of COVID-19 in the north and we discover the man being tested is getting harassed by the Haitian people…

Our missionary community prays that God would spare Haiti from the virus, but on the night of March 19 we receive the news. Two cases of COVID-19 have been confirm in Haiti, and country is on lockdown. Airports, ports, schools, churches and factories have been shut down. A countrywide curfew has been mandated. It seems that we won’t be going anywhere any time soon. What does this mean for the hospital? What does this mean for our family and fellow missionaries? Jeff gets to work immediately coordinating with the other administrators, planning for a screening process, and implementing what he can with the other volunteers and hospital workers. His once slow-paced days are now in full force. However, things seem to move frustratingly slow while the weight of responsibility bears down on his shoulders.

Every day we receive decision-altering news. We are staying in Haiti through this crisis to support the hospital. We will be safe. Will we be safe? Some predict a humanitarian crisis so electricity, food and safe water may not be available. What will that mean for Eden? Maybe it’s not safe. Asians and Whites are not welcome by the community. Foreigners are bringing COVID-19. The hospital will be in danger. They are threatening to burn down the hospital. Maybe we need to leave. We can’t leave. We are at a loss. After the airports closed, we hear about repatriation flights that will evacuate foreigners to the U.S for only a few days. Jeff needs to stay and work for the hospital, but perhaps Eden and I should leave. But how can we separate our family and for how long? Weeks? Months? Eden will be running and Daddy will miss it. Eden will be talking and Daddy will miss it. We keep praying for wisdom, and the answer is unclear. The morning of Monday, March 23 comes and we need to make a decision and get a flight booked for the next day. I don’t want to leave, but what about Eden? We are leaving.

That night we have a nice dinner with the other missionaries and the Haitian administrator’s family. After dinner we discuss our plans. Four missionaries, including Jeff, will be staying to help the hospital. Soon after, we receive news that the hospital leadership is very concerned about the community’s reaction to foreigners being at the hospital. Some community members are threatening the hospital and things could escalate fast. The Haitian administrators make it clear – we must all leave. It’s for our safety, and for the safety of the hospital. The gravity of the news sinks in, coming from leaders who are well connected with the pulse of the community. It’s not what we want to hear, but we all know, God has answered our prayer. It’s time to go. God’s timing has been revealed. By Wednesday, March 25, all the missionaries leave Haiti Adventist Hospital (HAH) with heavy hearts.

Jeff, Eden and I are back in Loma Linda for an indefinite time. We are so grateful that our family is able to stay together, but our hearts go out to HAH. The devastation of COVID-19 in high-income countries has been unprecedented, however, a crisis like this in the poorest country in the western hemisphere could be catastrophic. Jeff and the other missionaries are doing what they can to help remotely, but those on the front lines at HAH are the ones meeting this challenge face to face. We ask for your prayers.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways, acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5

Waiting at Port-au-Prince airport for 9 hours.
Boarding the charter flight from PAP to MIA

Grateful

We just arrived home in Haiti a couple hours ago. We are jet-lagged, but in good health after traveling from Thailand with an extended layover in LA to pick up our baggage from our previous home in Loma Linda, which still feels like home too. The last 3 weeks, we have been in Chiang Mai at a mission training course provided by the SDA church, which was an incredible experience! I loved every moment of it! On the last day of class, we were asked to share the things we were grateful for and for some reason, I became teary-eyed as people were sharing. I didn’t even share what I was grateful for, but being in a room full of people dedicated to missions, pouring out their gratitude to God moved me. During the course, I learned a lot about transitions, culture, and missions. Many interactions I’ve had with other cultures in the past started to make more sense. Our instructors and fellow classmates, some of whom have been missionaries for many years, shared from their rich experiences, which was encouraging and inspiring. And spending time with these people for 3 weeks was a tremendous blessing in itself. Eden went to day care for the first time, so that both Michelle and I could attend class and she loved it! Her teachers and classmates took such good care of her. Our classes and Eden’s day care were all located on the 3rd floor of the hotel we stayed at and on our last day in Thailand, I wandered onto the 3rd floor and saw what it looked like normally when it wasn’t set up for Mission Institute. Our discussion tables were put away. The library of books on the tables in the back of the room was gone. Eden’s day care room was bare. All the people were gone. I felt a sense of loss seeing this. The feeling reminded me of how I felt as a kid leaving Yosemite after spending a few days there with my family and friends, reveling in God’s beautiful nature with the people I loved the most. I guess I got attached…more than I realized. But it’s time to say goodbye, to the place at least. I will cherish the memories and the lessons learned. And I’m hoping this is just the beginning of the relationships we’ve made with the other missionary families. It’s time to live out what we’ve learned. On the way back to Haiti, I thought about many blessings God has poured on us:
– One of the couples we connected with at Mission Institute, Russell and Jenene, babysat Eden for a few nights so that Michelle and I could go on date nights
– We had an extra seat on all our flights back so Eden had more room to move around. On the long flight from Hong Kong to LAX, we had a bassinet, which helped a lot with Eden’s naps and playtime.
– My sister Jennifer picked us up from LAX late at night and drove us all the way to Loma Linda and then drove home, even though she had work the next morning
– We were able to see a few of our friends in Loma Linda during our brief stay, including Eden’s BFF, Ellie
– Michelle’s brother, Elliot, helped us unload and check in our luggage at LAX, which would have been extremely difficult without him, especially because we were on a time crunch and I had to return the rental car
– We made it to Port-au-Prince safely with all 6 check-ins, 3 carry ons, 3 personal items, a stroller, car seat, and car seat base, all of which seem to be in good condition
– Eden was not upset for most of the flights, which isn’t always the case, so we were very grateful
– Eden was having some GI issues right before we started traveling, but it completely resolved by the time we started traveling back
– Michelle wasn’t feeling well once we got to Loma Linda, but once we were in the air again, she felt much better
– I’ve had a sore throat on and off the last couple days, but it seems to have resolved without progressing, which is unusual for me
– We made it from the airport to our home on the hospital compound without incident aside from heavy traffic
– We are here with renewed passion and are excited to join God and His people in His work
– We are part of a worldwide movement dedicated to sharing the gospel to the whole world
I’m sure I could go on for a while, but that’s what’s coming to mind at the moment. I’m going to join my family in taking a nap now…

-Jeff

Differences

Written during a brief pitstop in Loma Linda.

We have spent 6 weeks in Haiti and now we are back in Loma Linda for a few days before we head to Thailand for Mission Institute Training. Spending the last couple days back in the States has been such a sweet treat. Everything is noticeably bigger, faster, organized, clean, quiet, and so luxuriously comfortable. Just 24 hours of the American life makes Haiti feel like a distant dream. The chaos of the streets, buzzing tap taps, motorcycles and cars utilizing every inch of the road, the chickens, goats, cats and dogs looking for their next meal, black water and garbage collecting and flowing in the streets, the smells, the suffering… How are these worlds so different? How is it so easy to forget about the unfortunate places of this earth when you enter into a hedge of comfort? This hedge is cozy and warm.

Aboard the ambulance airport transport with empty suitcases.
PAP airport
Quick visit with family.
En route to Chiang Mai

Arrival

Two weeks ago our family moved to Haiti. After 9.5 years of Jeff finishing med school, residency and waiting for placement, the anticipated move finally happened. We sorted through all our belongings, shipped our container, packed up our luggage and made very good use of our Amazon prime account. The journey went surprisingly well with our 11 month old, Eden. She tends to be very vocal and high-pitched on airplanes but this time she slept through. Thank you, Jesus, THANK YOU.

God is merciful..

We arrive at PAP airport and count our 9 pieces of check-in bags, carry-on bags, and diaper bag plus stroller. Everything made it! We exit the bustling airport with some hired help and wheel everything out to the humid warmth of Haiti – it’s not as humid as I remembered. We are happy to see the familiar face of Mr. Michel, the hospital’s driver, greet us at the parking lot with the Haiti Adventist Hospital (HAH) ambulance ready to transport us to our new home on the hospital compound. Mr. Michel skillfully drives through the Port-au-Prince traffic, dodging/plowing through potholes and garbage, and weaving through traffic on both sides of the road while I sit in the back holding Eden tight in her carrier, bracing myself for the next bump. She doesn’t seem to mind too much and eventually falls asleep. 

Temporarily staying in the unit on the right, moving into the unit on the left next week.
A warm welcome 🙂

We push our way through the hospital gates (literally) and Mr. Michel drops us off at the volunteer housing units. The greenery within the hospital walls brings relief to our eyes and we are warmly welcomed by the volunteer family at HAH. Since then, we been living in a temporary space until our duplex unit is available. 

December in Haiti – keep forgetting in this tropical weather that Christmas is right around corner.
Enjoying simple comfort food – ramen

Our days are simple but busy. Wake up, play with Eden/prepare breakfast, Eden naps while we read our devotions and try to study Creole, Eden wakes up, go to the market to buy a bundle of bananas, 4 large mangos and 3 ginormous avocados all for 300 goud ($3!), eat lunch, play with Eden, Eden naps while we have 2 hours of Creole language training with a private tutor, Eden wakes up during or after Creole lessons, prepare and eat dinner, play with Eden, Eden goes night night, study Creole and do other miscellaneous things. We are so grateful to have this designated time in Haiti to focus on the language and settling in before Jeff starts working full time+ at the hospital. Eden has been adjusting well, eating happily, and moving constantly. She loves the mangoes. 

One of Dr. Scott Nelson’s “leisure” Sabbath hikes – huffing and puffing up the steep slopes.
Exhausted from the hike
The hospital driveway and newly constructed planter island
Afternoon stroll at the neighboring Adventist University campus
Happiest outside
The edge of the University campus

We really miss our family and friends back in the States. All the support and prayers we’ve been receiving has been overwhelming and so special. We feel so blessed and loved. 

LAX airport – Last look at our family before we go through security. ❤

The Call

7.24.19

Michelle and I received a phone call from the General Conference today informing us that our call to Hôpital Adventiste d’Haïti (HAH) has reached the GC level. We have been waiting for this call for some time. After our initial plans to serve as Deferred Missionary Appointees in Africa fell through last year, we did not know where God was leading us. But we had His Word:

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there  you may be also.

John 14:1-3

In Christ Object Lessons, it says, “Not more surely is the place prepared for us in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated on earth where we are to work for God.” COL 326.4. We knew that God had a place for us. Through a series of events starting last August with a text message from Dr. Scott Nelson, an inspiring orthopedic surgeon who currently lives at HAH, we are now preparing to move to Haiti. As we prepare to go, we will certainly treasure these remaining months with our friends and family here in the states. At the same time, we are very excited to see how God will lead us as we take the next steps of our journey. Please pray for us as we prepare to go to the place God has prepared for us.

post