Graduation! We returned to Ohio on May 30th and the trip went very smoothly. Grant graduated from Smithville High School on June 1st, and even though Mike was enduring chikungunya fever (he discovered he had it the day we traveled) God helped him to deliver the graduation address! We were so excited for Grant and a very special class of kids! We had several busy weekends with graduation parties to attend and then Grant’s own party on June 15th.
We set up our R.V. at a campground a little north of our former community of Smithville. Maple Lakes Campground had several lakes, a nice pool and a private, wooded spot for us for two months. We enjoyed spending time together as a family, even though it was tight sometimes, and had to deal with a few ‘daddy long legs’ (nothing like the spiders in Haiti but still a lot of them in the woods!). Evan and Grant had landscaping jobs through the summer and could drive together. It was a little tricky to pull off while camping! The time with Evan was precious, knowing that we would be separated again soon by the miles between us. We loved getting together with family and friends too in the local area. We visited Mike’s family in Illinois and saw his parent’s new nursing home rooms as they have needed additional care as they advance in age. It was so very good to see everyone again! We were glad to answer any questions about Haiti.
Grace enjoyed her 8th birthday party at the pool at the campground. She loved the time spent together with her friends. What a good time those girls had!
It was a whole different world to be back in the States. We saw everything in a new light. The U.S. is such a rich country, so constantly neat, and the roads are wide and smooth with overpasses every mile. There is no trash left anywhere like in Haiti. For the most part, people follow the driving and traffic laws, whereas in Haiti it always seems like people don’t follow any laws (the driving is chaotic all the time with the biggest truck getting the right of way). In the States there is so much open space, so few people outside, huge, seemingly useless lawns to take care of and usually only ONE to TWO people in EVERY vehicle! In Haiti, there are always so many people in every vehicle, and sometimes piled on top too. The food seems to be in abundant in the States, of course, whereas in Haiti there is always a lack of food and many people live not knowing when the next meal may come. These are just a few differences between a wealthy country and a third world country.
We spent a week at the Outer Banks (near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina) to get away as a family and make some great memories! That time just flew by as we enjoyed the house, beach, eating out, and some fishing too! After that, Mike and Susie got away for a few days alone to bike and hike in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. What a gift that was to spend time in that beautiful valley as it was such a different climate then the tropics!
We have fond memories of some outreaches we did on the 4th of July, the Rittman Sleepwalker parade, and the evening we made pillowcase dresses at the World Relief Center. What a blessing to all work together like we did! So many came that evening to the WRC to give their time, effort, and talent. We look forward to seeing what God will do with these dresses.
We do have a neat story to share that we cannot forget! A dear brother from Smithville, Jeff Stoller, let us borrow his pickup truck the whole summer so I (Susie) could learn stick shift. I took that truck around all over learning how to drive. And I did learn and loved driving that truck! What a gift that was! Two weeks before we headed back to Haiti the clutch went out on the highway. I was able to pull over enough to the side of the road. I remember the gloom and doom when Mike told me the phone was dead too. We were supposed to pick up our daughter Grace from our friends in 15 minutes. We prayed and then Mike went out to check under the hood while I sat in the car and prayed some more. I asked in my prayer: “Please send us an angel of the Lord to send someone with a phone that I can call for help and to call the couple that was keeping Grace.” Well, soon after that, Mike and I decided it was best for me to stand outside the car and wave my hands for help (since I was a woman and we thought someone would feel sorry for me). It wasn’t long and a car pulled to the side of the road. Sure enough it was a woman! She gave me her phone and we made all the necessary calls we needed. We were so appreciative of her phone! I thanked her for stopping and letting us use her phone and asked her what her name was so that we could pray for her. She looked at me and smiled, “My name is Angel.” Wow! What a God we serve!
Our furlough ended in the best way possible…Evan, Grant and Trinity were baptized together on Sunday, July 27th! There were also three others baptized that day so it brought out many visitors. The whole weekend was a blessing to hear their testimonies, to see and hear them make their promises before their baptism, and through it all, to glorify God! God’s Word was loud and clear in the sermons we heard on Sunday. We were blessed to have friends come from Haiti and some from other States that we met in Haiti. It was such a blessing for our kids to fulfill Christ’s commandment of baptism.
Many thanks to all of you again for all you did for us during our time in the States. May God bless each of you! We love you. On August 2nd Evan dropped us off at the airport and we returned to Haiti. He returns to school soon and we look forward to his next visit to Haiti over his holiday break!