The past month has felt like we were constantly battling survival. Some work “survival” and some literal physical survival. All in the context of a nation whose people function to survive every day. Needless to say it has been a hard month and we are grateful to be back in the United States now for our month-long furlough. Below is a picture of a typical Haitian house/home. We’d probably consider this “unacceptable” living conditions in the U.S. but in Haiti, this is how they live. No electricity, no running water, no toilet, no appliances. Yet, somehow they make it work. They survive. They have to. They don’t have a choice except the choice to make it work. Somehow. Some way. Day after day after day. Survival! Also below is a picture of our beautiful campus and where we get to live. Quite a contrast. It is easy to feel guilty about how good our living conditions are in comparison but at the same time, if we are honest, we realize that we wouldn’t survive for a month with anything less. We just are not as tough as Haitians are.

On Christmas Day Shelly suddenly became violently ill and this lasted for five (long) days. After what seemed like some healing and relief (which lasted a week) Shelly again began to feel sick. The symptoms were different than with the first bout but she continued to feel worse and worse with each passing day. Event though we were scheduled to fly out of Haiti on Thursday, January 16 for our furlough, we made the decision to try and get out two days earlier on January 14. After an emotional roller-coaster of finding out there were no seats available to fly out on the 14th to finding a way to make it all work out, we were able to fly out on Tuesday. We are grateful to Tim Brand, our Executive Leader who gave up his seat from Pignon to Cap Haitian so Shelly would not have to make the 2.5 hour long and bumpy ride to the CAP airport. 

After spending the night in West Palm Beach we flew to Des Moines, Iowa the next morning (15th). Without sharing all of the steps and details, Shelly is currently receiving great medical care at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines. Some of the things we were really concerned about have been ruled out, for which we are very grateful, and it appears that (at the time of this posting) Shelly has a very, very bad infection from an unknown cause. The medical team has started some IV antibiotics which seem to be helping somewhat but she has a ways to go on her road to recovery.  Your prayers are needed and appreciated.

While we feel relieved now to be receiving such great medical care this was definitely a journey of survival. We were both pretty scared last weekend and feeling a sense of helplessness. Even though there is a “hospital” in Pignon and only a few miles from our campus, it really was not an option for us as the medical care there simply is not adequate enough and the risks to Shelly’s health could actually increase if we went there. Isn’t that sad to think about when we consider the health care options for Haitians?

Haitians are tough! They are survivors! There is a lot of death in Haiti and unfortunately it is such a part of their “normal” way of life. But even through difficult health issues, trauma, and even death, they are resilient. Haitians are spiritual people and it is often in these times of hardship that they are open to the hearing the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. When we Blancs are ill, especially really sick, they are watching. How we respond demonstrates our faith and trust in God and is yet another way to witness to these beautiful people who’s life-motto is so often summed up in one word…survival.


  1. For Shelly. For her health to improve and for the medical team that is currently treating her. 
  2. For MH4H. For the staff who is working to carry out the day to day operations during our furlough. Pray for continued progress as we seek to achieve our mission as an organization. #transformation
  3. For Haiti.  As a nation, Haiti continues to struggle with identity, leadership, corruption, progress, and so many more things, Pray for God’s power and presence to be experienced. 
  4. For teams. We are hoping for a great team season in 2020. Last year so many teams were forced to cancel due to the state department’s travel advisory level being raised. Pray that the advisory remains as is and teams can come.
  5. For future decisions. There are certainly some questions about Shelly and her status as to when she would even be able to return to Haiti. Pray for wisdom and clarity in these decisions.


There won’t be a section this month for the Foodie for obvious reasons so I’ll just share a few things that both of us have been up to.

As I mentioned last month, I had taken on a few extra responsibilities, primarily with overseeing all of the finances. Well, that has continued and will continue for the next six months as our amazing lead couple, Craig and Christi Gabhart, are taking a six-month sabbatical. We are so glad that they can do this and so appreciative that MH4H is supporting this because it is important and can make all of us as individuals and as an organization, better.

Parents were required to make their second (of three) school tuition payments on or before June 3 and before school resumed on June 6. Well…of the 78 students in our school only 21 had taken care of this in time. Needless to say that first day back after break was a little “light” on the attendance count. 🙂 That afternoon, when the parents learned that we actually meant what we said about their need to be responsible and take of this, we had 35 parents come to make their payment.  Over the next couple of weeks the remaining parents trickled in and as of this writing we are back to full attendance at the School of Light (less one first grader who moved to another community).

It’s the dry season now so in the agronomy department we are maintaining a smaller amount to crops. We are focusing on the tree seedlings project and working to build up our community gardens program with local parents that seem to wane a bit in 2019 for some reason(s). But we are also busy planning for a few exciting things that will be happening in 2020. We will be doing a Phase II for the Seed Corn Project and kicking that off with a Seed Corn Seminar in March. We also plan to start a chicken operation wherein we’ll raise chickens (fryers) at our goat land property. We want to utilize that space with minimal added labor and facility costs. We are researching now and the earliest we would start having live chickens would be in September.

Shelly continued to do some Physical Therapy with Anaika (see last month’s blog for details) 2-4 times each week and she is making great progress. A recent trip back to see the orthopedic surgeon showed that her leg is healing well. Hopefully she will be able to get the external fixator off in the next 2-3 months. We are praying that she does not regress while Shelly is out on furlough. Shelly had her at a point where as long as she keeps walking and doing some exercises, she should continue to improve.

We are both looking forward to this break and some good rest. Obviously we need to get Shelly healthy again and we are optimistic that this will be sooner than later. We so appreciated the Christmas cards, letters, and some care packages that we received over the holidays. It was hard to not be with family but we did know that we were in many people’s hearts and minds and that was so helpful mentally.

Shelly and I want to wish each of you a wonderful new year. May the year 2020 and the decade of the 2020s be filled with evidences of God’s love and provision for you and your family.