I’m not sure what the word on the streets is these days, I bet it’s probably hard to keep track of the flighty Stone family. So, we thought you should hear straight from the source in case you haven’t yet-we are officially moving to Nicaragua! The skeptic in me will believe it once we are actually there, but the plans are in motion, and we are heading that way.
We are ready for a change, it’s been on the horizon. Almost three years in Haiti, and while three years doesn’t sound like a long time, it indeed has been a long three years. Since the beginning of this year, we have been praying about this. We have been seeking the Lord and His will for our lives-asking Him to show us if a move would work out, or if we were to stay in Haiti. Since God was so dynamic in leading us to Haiti in the first place-you can read about that crazy story here– , we weren’t sure if we were to ever leave Haiti or what that would look like. But just because He clearly and divinely told us to come to Haiti, we finally realized didn’t necessarily mean we were supposed to stay there for life. His Word is full of promises that reminded us He was faithful in showing us His will for us and our time in Haiti, and would be faithful in showing us what was next.
As we prayed about our future and what He wanted us to do, several things began popping up. It was amazing to see the way the Lord was moving and working, showing us that if He wanted us out of Haiti He could open any doors and make that happen. Some of those things that popped up seemed so divinely orchestrated that we almost immediately jumped on them. It can be so hard sometimes to discern an opportunity from what the Lord wants. Have you been there? When something seems to fall right into your lap, and especially if you are praying about, then of course that is from the Lord-right? Well, we found it wasn’t that easy to discern. Just because a few job offers came our way, didn’t for sure mean that was what He had for us. We decided to look into those opportunities, and as we did, it was then that God clearly closed the door on them.
You know what I mean. It’s the same idea when you feel trapped in a job- unsure you’ll ever find something else. Or simply being afraid of change and unknown. That’s why so many American’s polled say they are unhappy in their jobs. I just read a survey in the paper that said over 60% of Americans were “unsatisfied” with their current job. That sucks. That is high. There are so many factors that can keep us in those miserable jobs-if you have been there you know what I’m talking about. But don’t get me wrong, we were not miserable in our jobs at all, but rather have seen people do the same thing in Haiti-simply staying in Haiti when they are tired, beat down, and miserable, simply because the unknown of packing it all back up and heading back to the states seems just as daunting, if not worse, than the original move out to Haiti.
And that was sort of the spot we found ourselves in. We were getting tired. We were frustrated and feeling burnt out on many things. We had felt that way for a while, and were continuing to pray for our attitudes, fresh compassion and love for what we were doing. Spoiler alert: missionaries are deeply flawed human beings, and well, just all sorts of screwy. In fact, it’s our joke with our bible study group here in Haiti that we are all so jacked that God had to move us to a third world country to work out our ‘issues’. We were too messed up to work on them in normal life in the states, so He had a special assignment for us oversees to work on them!
The awesome part is we are still very much loving what Living Water is going, and how they do it. They continue to earn our respect as they work to change how they are bringing communities the gospel, providing clean water, and teaching hygiene education. The changes made to the Haiti program are amazing, we are amazed and humbled that God has allowed us to be a part of that. It’s going to be hard to leave it now too, after we have put so much sweat and tears into the program.
But again, God has been faithful and especially in the last six months, as we have been thinking about transitioning out, He has provided some amazing Haitian staff. He has provided two dynamic drillers, who can operate the rig we use with confidence and ease. They know what they are doing, but are also not afraid to ask a question if need be. That is a beautiful quality, and one that is rare to find. God has brought us many ‘software’ people-who are implementing the gospel as they work with partnering with the local church. He has given us a hygiene coordinator who truly cares that her fellow Haitians know the truth about germs and how to keep themselves healthy. And just a week before I left in July, he brought along a me-but Haitia!! Just what I have been praying for-well certainly not another me-I don’t think the world is ready for that. But what I mean is another woman to take over the role I was doing with the teams while they came to visit. I was really struggling with leaving, and the little voids that it would create here and there. But when Fabi came along, I was filled with renewed hope that the Lord is in control and this was his perfect timing. Her job while teams are there is what I was doing-taking them out to the drill site, introducing them to the community, helping them communicate and interact with the community in a healthy way, leading VBS stories and health and hygiene lessons, taking them to church members homes to pray with them and love on them. And Fabi took that over-with charm and love-the very first day she worked for us. It was nothing short of a miracle. She was compassionate and loving, but also outgoing and able to make decisions. She is amazing, a total gift from the Lord.
It has been humbling to see the way God has filled these little ‘voids’ I boastfully thought I would leave. I got it in my head that I was the best thing for all the jobs I was doing and He was showing me something different. While He used me in those positions for a while, I think His ultimate goal was to have the same thing done, but by Haitian women. And that couldn’t really be done while I was there, because I was there! Other leaders won’t usually step up when there is still a leader in place. So of course my positions and jobs couldn’t be filled until I was gone. And a week before I left, and within two after I left, almost all my old jobs were filled. And not just filled with a placeholder, but filled with women that have exceeded all my expectations.
I told you about Fabi, well two other women are Manette and Juana. You know Manette, you have met her several times already. Well, she stepped it up big time. I already knew she was talented in the kitchen, but I didn’t know how well she could run the guesthouse in my absence. I first got a glimpse when I had maleria last fall, the week we had a team, and had to lie in bed forcing her to pick up all the slack I couldn’t do. And so here she is, in my absence, fixing three meals a day instead of two, making dessert much better than what I was throwing together, and doing all the shopping herself. Doesn’t sound like much maybe, but not in Haiti. Shopping for a team of 12 is a two day project-for the two of us. And cooking, cleaning, planning and keep house for our guests was a three person job. So I am so very impressed they are pulling it off beautifully just the two of them. And let me tell you, it humbles me to see me not needed! But in a good way, in a prideful way. I love seeing that the Lord has brought along strong and beautiful women who love Him deeply and are intimately caring for the needs around them.
And as Brandon is still laboring away, we are praying the Lord will continue to be faithful and provide Haitian men who will step it up and take over the many roles and responsibilities he has shouldered over the last two years. I don’t think they can replace his position with just one person, it will probably be more like four! I know you think I’m just bragging on him (and yes he is that stellar!!) but he really does so many big and little things that make the program run and work in the North. So please pray with us that the right men will be hired for those positions, and he can begin training them to take over the program.
We are hoping the move and transition to Nicaragua is just around the corner-our sites are on November. We’ll keep you posted !!