Today, on July 10, our family embarks on our first trip to Haiti, as a family. Little did I know in 1998 I would someday be taking my eleven and nine-year-old with me. In fact, I’m positive the thought never crossed my mind as a senior in high school. As Catie and I went deeper and deeper into our call to serve God in the country of Haiti, the dream of this trip started in 2007. In 2008, we had our baby girl, Abbie, and in 2010, we had our baby boy, AJ. It was during this time, Catie and I both knew that someday, this trip would happen.

" is in the struggle, when we face success, failure, and audacious challenges...we grow together as a family. "

As parents, Catie and I have been intentional in the way we’ve raised our family. One of those intentions is for them to experience the global world, all the good and bad, and to witness God’s global heart in person. Haiti is a beautiful place with beautiful people and we want them to see it with their own eyes at a very formative age. Haiti is also a hard place, with culture very different from ours, living conditions much harsher, and striking poverty one can’t look past. As we are trying to develop Christian roots in our children, deep and strong roots, we believe this is done best by them seeing their mom and dad serve others. As well, seeing other sold-out followers of Christ serve others. And seeing local Haitians, who look and talk different than us, serve others.

We also want them to struggle. I want it to be hard for them. I want them to experience no air conditioning, walking the roads in the mid-day heat and carrying food home from the market, and seeing children their age, who are in dire circumstances. I want them to ask tough questions and wrestle with the problems of this world in their nine and eleven-year-old minds. And Mom and Dad will be right beside them through the struggle. For it is in the struggle, when we face success, failure, and audacious challenges, we grow as people. We grow in our faith. And we grow together as a family.

Over the past months, we’ve had family meetings to learn more about Haiti, God, and how to serve. Each member decided a “theme” for the trip, rooted in the truth of a Bible verse.

Tim: As the leader of this family and the trip, mine is Help my family know how to serve well by watching my actions, and the verse is Joshua 24:15, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Catie: Her theme for this trip is Bear with one another in love, with the verse being Ephesians 4:2-3, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Abbie: Abbie’s theme is Push through no matter what, with an acronym of P.I.G.S. (Persistence, Indefatigable, Grit, Strength). Her verse is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

AJ: AJ’s theme is Be bold, be honest, and be brave. His verse is Philippians 2:14-15, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”

Throughout this week, we will be sharing glimpses of our trip, what we are learning, and how God is moving among us. The kids will write a blog, as well as Catie, as we immerse ourselves in the work God is doing in Haiti. We are humbled we have this opportunity, as we know not everyone is afforded the luxury of a trip like this. May God be glorified through our actions this week.




  1. Marilyn and Cedric Winterboer

    Our steadfast prayers go with your family as they experience Haiti! Thank you to God that you are training your children in God’s word and truth! Blessings to each of you!!

  2. Amy Belding

    So looking forward to reading about your experiences and perspectives. All the best each day as you model love and grace.

  3. Deb Bosch

    I am so excited for you guys to be there as a family! Thank you for sharing. Kev and I will be praying for the Brand family every day!!!

    • Donna Tylkowski

      Prayers to each of their family members as they experience God’s hands in action;not only in Haiti families but your own family. God bless and protect each of you.

  4. Ruth Ann Kuhn

    Prayers go with the 4 of you as you journey!

  5. Lisa Zylstra

    I love your themes and verses! What a great focus for your time together in Haiti. Your kids will never look at the world the same again! We all fall back into old patterns once we’re home, but the heart cannot forget this sort of empathy. ❤️

  6. Pam Osborn

    What an amazing opportunity for your entire family! My prayer is that you will all grow deeper through the joys and struggles of the trip.

  7. Ken Ruefer

    We saw the latest blog. Thankful you have arrived safely, Love Mom and Dad R


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