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A Conundrum

Sunday, July 7, 2024

I hope you enjoyed the Independence Day holiday! Our freedom is a gift, yet it is not free. May we be a grateful people.

Before I get too far into this post, we have a need that I'd like to make you aware of. There's so much more we would like to do with our website. Making the necessary changes and upgrades is likely way more than any single volunteer can manage. But if we work together, I believe it'll happen and be even better than we hope.

Are you good with graphics? Writing? Proof Reading? Photo and video editing? Do you have an hour or two a week to spare? More? Please join our Website Solutions Team! "Many hands make light work!" Please click on the graphic to sign up.

I remember many years ago, a childhood friend of mine was expecting her first child. She and her husband had his name picked out well in advance: Stephen. Now, I’m sure there were many reasons they chose this name, but one reason surprised me and has stuck with me all these years.

My friend confidently reached out to me, firmly gripping and shaking my hand, while, in a very deep (manly) and professional voice, with an unmistakable air of confidence, said, “Stephen ****. Pleased to meet you.” She imagined him becoming a lawyer one day and wanted to make sure his name went with the title. (Side note: he did indeed become a lawyer. Great foresight, Mom!)

It feels good to be able to identify oneself and one’s position with confidence.

People call me a missionary. This is a conundrum for me. The actual word is not found in the Bible. Well, can you tell me what a missionary is? You likely can. In my experience, however, there are almost as many different understandings of the term as there are people talking about it. Is it...?

  • Someone who leaves home to preach the Gospel in a foreign land, a different State, a different city, down the street…

  • Someone who leaves a life of luxury to suffer for Christ in an impoverished land where they live as the natives live

  • Someone who is a hero

  • Someone who preaches the gospel with the aim of starting churches that can reach people groups who have not heard of Jesus

  • Someone who lives out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) to go

  • Someone with an Apostolic gifting who starts churches in areas with a culture different than their own

  • Someone who makes disciples in distant lands

  • Anyone who is sent to preach the gospel – which would include all of us

  • Someone who does humanitarian work

  • Someone whose whole life is a vacation in a tropical paradise

  • Someone who couldn’t fit in their own culture, so they go find another one where they are accepted

  • Someone who annoyingly tries to proselytize poor people

  • Someone who is a flag bearer for colonialism

The list goes on and on. Some of these definitions could cause the bearer to become prideful, while others would destroy their sense of worth. Personally, I have encountered people with the “missionary” title who fit into every one of these definitions, further demonstrating the absence of a universally accepted definition for the term.

In my early years serving in Haiti, I remember feeling offended by my well-meaning brothers and sisters back in the US. They would be surprised to see us and ask, “What are you doing here?” This was often followed by, “When are you leaving again?”

At that time, I heard not that I was missed and my presence valued but rather, “Why are you back here when you’re supposed to be a missionary?” and “You better not stay here for long. You HAVE to be in Haiti.” (I had a warped perspective because of my own definition of "missionary"!)

Others would say, “You eat out too much. Your children need to have regular meals at home.” I may have lashed out once or twice (being the mama bear that I am) with, “My children eat rice and beans every single day. They don’t like rice and beans. If God sends people to take them out to eat, I’m all for it.” After all, doesn’t He love and care for my children as much as He does the “non-missionary” kids? Of course, HE does!

Today, I no longer try to fit into the “missionary” mold, and I am much more confident in knowing whose I am. I am a follower of Christ. Whether that has me in Gardner, Grand-Goâve, or Luperón is really none of my concern. It’s quite simple. Where HE leads, I will follow. HIS expectations are what matters most to me.

Now, having said all that, let me be a little MORE transparent here. It’s been a tough week for me. I went from a house full of amazing people (Lex, Taran, Justin, the New England Chaple team, and a brief but significant visit from our pastor)... me, myself, and I. This was followed by receiving more pictures and videos than ever before (several of which I share in this post) of people I love and have missed desperately in Haiti.

I think Lex knew this was coming. He suggested I return to Gardner for a bit to enjoy our grandchildren while he was in Haiti. And yes, I would have totally enjoyed them - and a bunch of other people, too!!! However, I chose to stay. Each trip requires a transitional period – which requires time and emotional energy – which cuts back on what I have available to complete the tasks required to keep the mission moving forward.

And so, here I am, sharing with you today from a sense of loss. My Haitian friends and families are not lost. I am simply facing the reality of how much I truly miss them.

And on that note, let me catch you up on the absolute whirlwind of activity at Mission of Hope International this past week. Let’s start with Haiti.


Monday was picture day for our students in Thozin. Most of these students still need sponsors. Please reach out if you would like to help one of these youngsters go to school, receive health and dental care, and eat regularly.

Tuesday was graduation at our main campus in Thozin, Grand-Goâve. Congratulations to the class of 2024!

The kindergarten class is also a part of the graduation ceremony. This is an opportunity for parents and families to watch their little ones speak, dance, sing, and more and they graduate from preschool into primary school.

Wednesday was graduation day at our St. Etienne campus.

On Thursday, all hands were on deck as the churches came together to welcome brothers and sisters from other congregations throughout the area. Decorations had to be made and hung, rooms had to be prepared for sleeping, and food had to be prepared for everyone.

We were pleasantly surprised by the attendance, considering the country's current insecurity. I especially loved seeing Grand-Goâve churches and their pastors come together to build one another up.

In addition to their fondness for beauty and service, the women in the church LOVE to sing and praise the LORD! These are the mothers of the church and so loved by the entire congregation. They are the center pole of the tent, so to speak (in a Creole proverb sort of way).

This video was particularly impactful to me, as I recognize almost all these ladies. When they are finishing up their song, they file off the platform while continuing to sing until they find their seats.

The conference continued Friday and Saturday and finished up this morning.


In the Dominican Republic, Nurse Marlouse was present in Baraguana, Cambiaso, and La Grúa this past week, where her many friends awaited her arrival.

Behind the scenes, we have been working closely with our friends from Bless Back Worldwide on the business academy. We are so pleased with the obvious results from the training that Aquilina completed to become our first Business Coach in the DR Academy. Our first round of classes are scheduled to begin at the end of the month. We are super excited!

In La Grúa, we are seeing the reality of the “Like, Know, Trust” factor. We arrived in the village as complete strangers. Over time, we began having conversations and praying with people to the point that they started to like us. The response to the fire, and our concern for their health, and their babies further brought that like further along to trust. I know this, in part, due to the fun way a particular situation unfolded this week.

We registered 41 children, ages 6-15, for a reason unknown to them. They were definitely curious, but didn’t get upset with the non-answers they were given. (Note, when we first came to register babies for START NOW, a fair number of moms did NOT register their babies, based on past negative experiences.) We made ID cards for the children and passed them out. The children still didn’t know why. We gathered them all together and had them stand in a line. Every single one of them was present. And then, Nurse Marlouse said, “Run home, get a bowl, and come back right away.” Whooping, screaming, hollering, and laughter ensued as they took of running for home. They were back in a flash. Every bowl was filled and then every bowl was empty.

Thanks to our friends at New England Chapel, the children will be fed Monday through Friday for July and August. Look at these children. Even though they are fed at school, most of them are still very thin. I wonder if they are fed at home at all? Will you pray with us as we consider how best to serve these children in the Fall?

I’m done for now. Congratulations if you made it this far! Thank you, thank you, thank you for your love, support, and encouragement. We are so much better together!


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