This morning I was almost overcome with tears as I was sitting in church before the service began. It caught me completely by surprise because I am not normally an emotional person. The cause of the tears was our daughter Kaylea. She was walking up on the stage to lead worship for the first time as part of the praise team. God just touched me at that moment and reminded me of how far our kids have come from the time we moved here and from that He sparked this blog.
One of the most commonly asked questions we hear is, “how did your kids adjust?” We usually answer in the briefest way possible and say “they did good”. That response is similar to when you ask someone “how are you?” and they respond “fine” but we all know there is so much more that’s unsaid. So today I’m going to share some of the unsaid.
Let me first start off by saying God confirmed through His word to Matt and I that we would be moving to Haiti with our children. So we have always had complete peace that God had already prepared our kids to be able to walk this road. I can’t say it’s been easy for any of them there have been many times I’ve had to go back to that calling to renew my faith in His promise when I saw them struggling.
I guess it’s easier for me to write about their transition now than when we were in the early stages of it because I can now see visible evidence of God’s work in their lives. I’m not completely convinced that the transition process really ever ends though. It’s been five years and there are definitely still ups and downs mixed with back and forth emotions.
Every child is different in how they process and cope. The emotional transition far outweighs the physical transition of moving. One of our kids really struggled with anger. I think more so at God than at us because God called us here and we had to obey Him. More than one of our kids struggled with being so far away from grandparents. They didn’t mind so much being here if the grandparents were going to be closer….but they weren’t. One struggled at first with the reality that friends in the states were moving on without them and those relationships would never be the same. This was an even bigger struggle because they had not yet learned the language or made good friends here to be able to move on too. Loneliness occurred for all of them but during this time the sibling and parent relationships with our kids grew stronger. Our kids went through phases of struggling and I can’t ever remember a time when all three were struggling simultaneously which was a blessing because the others were good to help them get through it.
Each time we go back to the states to visit there is the struggle of leaving friends here and then getting ready to return to Haiti is just as bittersweet. Last visit I remember Joel saying, “I’m so ready to go back and see my friends, but then again I don’t want to leave”. Joel is our social guy and makes everyone’s day a little brighter. He never meets a stranger and has made such good friends with the kids here. He is a true example of showing others unconditional love.
Dean for the first time in 5 years the last time we were in said he was ready to come back to Haiti. I never thought I would hear those words come out of his mouth and it has everything to do with our great staff here that has become such good friends to him. If you don’t know Dean he is a little man and would much prefer to hang out with adults and gets to do that everyday here. He knows so much more about how to fix and build things than any other kid and most adults I know. He has the gift of service for sure and it makes me so happy to see him selflessly using it to help others.
When we were last in the states I was most surprised to hear Kaylea mentioned for the first time that she wasn’t so ready to come back. She is usually crying every time when we have to leave Haiti but I believe God is already preparing her heart to return in a few short years for college. Kaylea’s spiritual growth has been the most amazing to watch. She plugs in wherever she is at whether in the states with the youth group or here. She is teaching a weekly bible study to teenage girls in Creole. She just recently joined the praise team at the church singing in Creole and sometimes French. She has a weekly bible study in English with other missionary teenagers. She has the gift of mercy and always wants to help with compassion ministry and willing to give of her own money to do it.
Again, there are phases our kids go through and I’m not convinced the transitioning ever ends. This is why we would ask you to keep our kids in your prayers. That God would continue to grow them as they serve here.
I remember praying many years before God even called us to be missionaries asking that He would move our family to a place where we could grow closer. Matt used to say that one of the things he enjoys most is serving together as a family. I don’t think God could have done a better job than bringing us here to do both those. What a good God we serve!