Thursday, February 16, 2017

Being Thankful, Even When It's Hard

To be honest, this has been a bad week.  It’s been a week where children have died.  It’s been a week where we have failed a new mom and her newborn.  It’s been a week where the realities of Haiti have seemed too much.  It’s been a week where as much as I wanted to, there was nothing else I could do.  It’s been a week where God chose not to step in, even though I thought He should.

It’s been hard.  It’s been long.  I’m tired and I’m sick, yet neither of those changes anything that has happened.  As I was dwelling on what a rough week it has been, God reminded me of how much I have to be thankful for.  That’s what I want to focus this blog on. 

I am thankful for two successful weeks of surgery.  Overall, 85 major operations and over 30 minor cases were completed.  Not only were physical needs met, but every patient was also prayed over and poured into.  What an opportunity that is.  My Aunt Debby was there for the second week of surgery! I am so thankful she was able to come and see a little of what my life is like as well as pour into her patients. 

I am thankful to be surrounded by children who love me even when I don’t deserve it.  There is so much love on this campus.  Between the orphanage, the Miriam Center, and the nutrition program I am showered with hugs and kisses everyday.  For Valentines Day, the preschool had a party where they all dressed up.  I loved being a part of it!

I am thankful to be in a country where I can openly share about the gift of God.  Even if my message was rejected, I can only pray that seeds were planted. 

I am thankful for the continuous opportunity to learn, for both myself and the staff here.  We have had many opportunities to learn these past two weeks from nurses, doctors, pastors, and so many others.  We also made some mistakes this week and learned from them. I am thankful though that we were able to make changes for next time.

I am thankful that so many people loved Owens.  His death hurts so many, but also shows how loved he was.  I am thankful for all the people that poured into him his last couple of weeks and tried to help as much as possible. 

I am thankful for Lovemicka's life and the eternal impact she had on so many.  I am thankful that she is no longer in pain and is rejoicing with our Savior. 

Most of all, I am thankful that this life is only temporary.  I am thankful that there will come a time with no more suffering or pain.

Revelations 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  Thee will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Christmas parties, birthday parties, and more!

Blogging is not something I necessarily enjoy, but something I am striving to get better at doing.  Sometimes I feel like if I don’t have a big story there is nothing to blog about.  However, I am slowly realizing that’s not true.  For example, there hasn’t necessarily been a big story these past couple of weeks, but many exciting things have happened.  Here are a few of my favorites:

I came back into Haiti after a month stateside for the holidays.  I am very thankful for my time in Kentucky with friends and family.  It also gave Liam and I some time to work through wedding planning.  However, after a few weeks away I was very ready to be back home in Haiti.  I may not have had the best trip here and had some unpleasant surprises to welcome me back (hello black mold everywhere), but I am very thankful to be here.   

The day after I got back we had our staff Christmas party.  It was so fun to see everyone all dressed up.  Most people also came with their spouses, so it was so enjoyable to meet them.  It is very common for couples (and whole families!) to wear matching outfits to events like this.  I told Liam we will have to find something that matches!  We also did a secret santa.  Let me tell you, they take secret santa to the extreme.  Music is going and you dance until you find who you had and then dance together.  My secret santa gave me a beautiful vase with fake flowers.  The whole night was a lot of fun!

Another highlight of my first week back was Benji’s birthday!  He officially turned three years old.  We had a celebration with his family and a couple neighbors and friends.  He got all dressed up and was the life of the party.  The very next day he started preschool. It has been quite an adjustment, but everyday seems to be getting a little better. 

We also had a mini Christmas party for the nutrition program.  Daybreak Community Church helped me collect items and each child received a new church outfit, a pair of socks, underwear, and a hair bow (for the girls).  On top of that, each mom received a care package.  The packages had nail polish, nail clippers, deodorant, a wash cloth, a mini soap, a mini shampoo, a mini lotion, toothpaste, dental floss, a toothbrush, and some pads.  They were so surprised and excited to receive a gift themselves.  There is more to this story though.  A lot of the families use the excuse “we don’t have clothes for our kids, so we cannot go to church.”  That was the main reason why I wanted to get church clothes for all of them.  Last Sunday we had eight nutrition program kids (and guardians) at church who are not usually there!  What an answer to prayer!!

One of the girls in her new outfit with her mom!
ALSO, our surgery wing and clinic have been getting a facelift!  This week we have replaced eight air conditioners, two washers, two dryers, a toilet, and several lights.  I am so excited to see how this makes surgery weeks move more smoothly.  The medical staff is excited about the changes that are being made.  We still have a long way to go, but I am excited about each little step that gets us closer to being where we want to be. 

I am so thankful for everyone that prays me through each transition.  It is a bit difficult coming back without the part of me who’s in Australia.  However, we are very excited about our future together and in Haiti.  I promise to try to be better at blogging as we continue looking towards the future! 

To help look towards the future.. we started building our house!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Medical Month

I looked at my calendar yesterday and could only think “wow we actually survived October.”  Before the hurricane, October was already deemed medical month between two surgery teams, a doctor doing mobile clinics, and a medical trip to Mirebalais.  The hurricane just added more on top of the already busy month! 

Several people have asked for a post hurricane update.  To be honest, this zone saw more damage after the hurricane than actually during the hurricane.  The last several weeks have consisted of almost constant downpours.  For our Mole campus, the hurricane’s destruction rerouted some of the water sources.  With all the rain, the river swelled and the campus flooded.  Some of the walls and gates fell and the clinic was knee deep in water.  La baie, which many of you have heard or read about, completely flooded.  Our church there had 5 feet of water in it.  Our staff in La Baie were so desperate for help that one walked part of the way here and one took a boat because the roads were flooded out.  I met with them to find out how we could help.  I was thinking the immediate needs: food, clothes, shelter, etc.  When I brought this up, they said, “Tore, you can give us food for a week, but then we will just be hungry again.”  We made plans on how to help the community beyond these next couple of weeks through buying fishing supplies that was lost and seeds to replant gardens. I sent the staff members with money to start this plan and will go early next week to check on things myself.  My heart breaks for this community who has already gone through so much. 

La Baie
While so many hearts were breaking this past month, so much good was also happening.  Though it was questionable whether or not they would be able to make it with the hurricane, the iTeam arrived and went straight to work.  They were a small team, but every member played such a vital role.  They ran the eye clinic and completed 63 eye surgeries.  These eye surgeries truly changed lives.  People who had lost nearly all of their vision due to cataracts were able to see again!  It was an amazing thing to behold, especially in the midst of all of the hurricane reports. 

One week later, the next surgery team arrived.  They had an orthopedic surgeon and a general surgeon.  They completed over 40 major surgeries and many minor surgeries as well! The rain caused us to have to cancel the mobile clinics because we could not cross the river.  We decided to host a clinic for our staff members and their families.   To be honest, I thought we would maybe see 25 patients.  There were so many people we opened the clinic for a second day and easily saw over 200 people.  Most of these people would not have been able to get the care they needed had it not been for the free clinic. 

So many lives were completely changed this month.  Here are a couple of my favorite examples.

During the orthopedic team last year, an 11 year old boy came in with chronic osteomyelitis, or an infection in the bone of his arm.  He had already had the infection for a year and had been turned away from every hospital he went to.  He came to us the last day of surgery of 2015 and there was not enough time for the surgeon to do what needed to be done.  I have a vivid memory of both him and his mom sobbing when they were told we could not help.  We got their information so we could contact them to come this year.  We spent the week before the surgery team arrived trying to get in touch with them.  We couldn’t reach them, and I worried about what might have happened to the boy.  On Wednesday, I was walking through the clinic and a little boy held up his arm to show me.  I yelled his name because I was so excited to see him.  His mom was surprised that I knew his name.  I explained that we had been trying to get a hold of them and I felt broken because we had not reached them.  God had provided.  The surgeon sent them for an x-ray and said we would do whatever we could to help.  My memory of them sobbing was replaced by an image of them waving their arms saying “thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus.”

Thursday, Mike got his surgery.  I spent quite a bit of time talking to him before he went back.  He told me how he wanted to be a bone doctor so he could do these kinds of surgeries.  I went back with him for his surgery, and his mom asked me to keep praying the whole time.  You best believe that’s what I was doing.  At first, we didn’t know if he would be able to keep his arm.  However, as the surgery progressed, the infection was cleaned out and the surgery appears to be successful.  Mike still has a ways to go with 2 weeks of IV antibiotics and 4 weeks or oral antibiotics.  I so hope that one day he can fulfill his dreams of being a bone doctor.  
Mike and I before surgery
This same Thursday morning I went down to the clinic to see which patients had already arrived.  There was a young man sitting in the waiting room with what looked like a red cast on his elbow (the lights aren’t the best!).  I was confused because there should not have been any elbow surgery follow ups.  I asked what was going on, and he said he had been cut by a machete.  The red cast was actually blood soaked gauze.  I called the surgeons and they unwrapped his arm to find the bone protruding where the machete had cut through the skin, muscle, and bone.  He had gone to a local hospital, but they turned him away (which usually means they can’t do anything or don’t have much hope).  The team was able to take him back and fix his arm.  God’s provisions in this man’s life were so powerful. The surgeon said the local hospital had tried to place stitches to stop the bleeding.  They had placed a stitch around the ulnar nerve, but thankfully they didn’t tighten it.  Had they tightened it, it would have been a completely different outcome.  If our orthopedic team hadn’t been here, he would have lost his arm and most likely his life.

I closed out the medical month with a quick trip to my favorite hospital in Mirebalais with one of the boys in the orphanage.  This summer the Daybreak team detected a heart murmur on him that we wanted to get checked out.  We got an appointment with the cardiac alliance which meant we made a 12 hour trip to get there.  The doctors evaluated him and gave us the all clear saying it should go away as he ages! 

Keslen and I in Mirebalais

As I sit here and reflect on this past month I am overcome with thankfulness.  I am thankful we weren’t hit worse by the hurricane.  I am thankful for the doctors who gave up their time and energy to come and serve.  I am thankful for all the lives that were changed because of them.  I am thankful for a good medical diagnosis for Keslen and so much more. 

Trying to sum up this past month, I am brought to Jesus’s words in Matthew 11:5, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”  Jesus called us to be his hands and feet and follow in his footsteps.  These are things He did in his ministry, but the teams this month followed his example.  The blind received sight.  The lame received the opportunity to walk.  We may not have had leprosy, but we did have a case of scabies! :) Most importantly though, the gospel was proclaimed to everyone who walked in our gates.  I can’t think of a more beautiful sound. 

If you are a medical professional and want to be part of this ministry in the future, please contact me (  I would love to get you connected with one of the medical teams that come yearly.  We are always in need of more people from surgeons to anesthesiologists to scrub techs to nurses.  I can promise that by coming you will not only change lives, but you will also have your life changed.

Thank you for praying through this month with me.  Please keep me in your prayers as I have a few more weeks before I head stateside for the holidays. I am so thankful for this life God had called me to.  I cannot imagine being anywhere else or doing anything differently. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hurricane Matthew: What Came and What's Coming

Are you feeling overwhelmed by Hurricane Matthew posts yet? I know I am. There are so many posts. Some of them are confusing. Some of them are conflicting. Some of them are simply not true. I know there was one photo circulating “of Haiti” that was actually from Jamaica a couple years ago. I think often in the midst of a disaster it is hard to find the truth. Here is the truth of my hurricane experience.

Last Friday all of the American staff in Saint Louis headed to our Mole campus for some staff meetings. The plan was to fly there and take a truck back Tuesday morning. To give you an idea on how bad the roads are: it takes 5-6 hours via truck, but it took us 13 minutes in the plane. We knew a storm was coming, but we had no idea the magnitude. I packed a flimsy rain jacket just in case I needed it. Saturday evening Jody, the director of the Mole campus and our Haiti operations manager, told us the hurricane was coming straight towards us and was at that time a category 5. Original reports had the storm moving faster than it did, so we were not able to go home to Saint Louis. We started making plans for our Saint Louis campus from the Mole (ex. our surgery wing floods so we needed all the equipment moved). We spent Sunday helping the Mole campus prepare for the hurricane. While our Saint Louis campus is up the mountain some, the Mole campus is pretty much sea level and right across from the ocean. Here is a photo of the beach across from them (before the storm).

At church Sunday no one in the community had even heard the hurricane was coming. What is worse than the destruction of a hurricane? Not being able to prepare for it at all. The mission was able to send people throughout the Mole and a couple close fishing villages to warn people about the hurricane. It is hard to tell people about an incoming storm though. Haiti isn’t like the States. There are no shelters set up. There was no pre-disaster relief work or giving out food. How do you prepare people for the worst when they are already living in the worst?

For me, one of the hardest parts was the waiting. We knew the hurricane was coming, but it was moving so slowly. We knew we were in the direct path of the eye of the hurricane. We prepared as much as we could and we warned everyone we could warn. The Castillo house has a satellite TV, so we were able to watch the news reports of the hurricane hitting southern Haiti. The reports were devastating. The only thing left for us to do was wait and see if the worst would happen to us.

The storm finally hit us Tuesday morning. At this point we lost service (and tv) so we were not quite sure where the eye was. The rains and winds came with more force than I expected. At the start of the hurricane, I stood with all of the orphans in the only second story building watching the tin roof. I kept thinking if the winds got much stronger, the roof would not stay. The second story room was our backup plan in case of flooding. Where would we go if the roof blew off? I was anticipating it to gradually increase to a peak and then gradually decrease. However, the storm stayed with pretty much the same intensity for about 24 hours. The pounding rains and winds caused trees and electrical poles to fall and lots of flooding. At one point, some parts of campus were knee deep in water. As trees and other debris were falling and flying through the air, it was not safe for us to be outside. We stayed inside listening and praying for the roof over our heads and for everyone who did not have a roof over theirs.

When we first starting hearing the reports of how we were going to be directly hit by the eye of the hurricane, I thought God had placed us in the Mole so we could help with the relief work afterwards. As we started walking through the town after the storm, I realized that was not true. God had us in the Mole so we could call on prayer warriors all around the world who because of their prayers God changed the direction of the storm. I was blown away by the prayer response I heard of and felt. I firmly believe that because of these specific prayers the direct eye of the hurricane did not pass over us.

This is not to say there was no damage. In the Mole, houses and businesses were destroyed. The campus received damage to roofs as well as doors and gates being ripped off. As we walked around town, most of the gardens we saw were destroyed. We saw a lot of fallen trees and mounds of sand that had washed into houses. There were houses without roofs or walls. The fishing villages were pretty much destroyed. However, we did not see any injuries or death. I have heard reports of over 800 deaths in Haiti. Here we had none. I feel like one of Jody's prayer requests was answered. She called on people to pray that the things lost would be replaceable, and that is what we saw. While it was a long few days, the results really were an answer to so many prayers.

Unfortunately, the effects from Hurricane Matthew are just starting to be seen in the Northwest zone. Our already delayed presidential election has been postponed again. We are going to start seeing a rise in malnutrition. A lot of farmers lost all of their crops and/or livestock. This was their way of both feeding their families and making money. We are also going to see a food shortage for everyone. We are anticipating a rise in cholera, a huge problem that has been in Haiti since the earthquake. Today I met with our local cholera clinic to make plans for what is to come and offer support. Cholera has already taken enough lives. God moved mountains to protect us from the storm, and I know He can also protect us from this next storm of illness and starvation that is brewing.

So what can you do? The first and most important thing is to pray. Pray for southern Haiti, which was hit so much harder than us. Pray for the storm that is coming from the aftermath. Pray for the families that lost their homes and businesses. Pray that cholera would stop taking the lives of innocent Haitians. Pray for protection throughout the rest of hurricane season. Pray for wisdom for NWHCM as we try to find the best ways to help. The next thing you can do is collect supplies. My mother is currently collecting clothes for a boys orphanage in southern Haiti that lost everything. You can also give money. Here is our disaster relief link. This money will go towards helping families rebuild, buying food for those who have none, supplying clinics, and so much more.

I cannot thank you enough for your prayers. If it weren’t for them, this blog would have a much different tone. Please continue to pray.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Nutrition Program: Help Needed

When I was preparing to come back to Haiti, I asked God to show me where to focus my energy.  There are so many health needs on our campus alone that it easy to get overwhelmed.  It didn’t take me long to hear him telling me to focus on our nutrition program.  After the preschool graduation this summer, the program got a new set of children, which makes it a good time to start something new.

The past two weeks I have spent weighing and measuring all of the children and going through birth certificates to find their birth dates (a lot of the parents only have a general idea on how old the kids are).  I have plotted all of the kids based on WHO (world health organization) standards, so that we could determine the degree of malnourishment in all of the children.  We have seven children classified as moderately malnourished and two children classified as severely malnourished.

It is hard for us to imagine what true malnourishment really is.  We have more of the opposite problem in the States.  Growing up, I never even experienced true hunger let alone malnutrition.  Malnutrition causes children’s bodies to not fully develop.  Malnutrition causes neurological damage.  Malnutrition is responsible for a third of child deaths globally.  Malnutrition causes children to die from common ailments like diarrhea.  Every 30 seconds a child dies of malnutrition somewhere in the world. Malnutrition breaks my heart.

To be frank, the food we are financially able to provide the children in our program will not reverse malnutrition.  To help these nine children, I need your help.  In Port-au-Prince, we can buy a food that is designed to reverse the effects of malnutrition.  It will also give them all of the vitamins and minerals that they need.  To buy this food for all of these children, I need just over $400 total.  On a smaller scale, we would also like to buy chickens for some of the families.  It will be a program where we supply the chickens, and they are responsible for providing a chicken coop and the food.  They will be able to keep some of the eggs for their own families, but they will also be required to bring some of the eggs back to the program.  This will allow us to provide something different in all of the children’s diets.  Each chicken will cost about $5.  Please consider helping us buy this food or a couple chickens.

You’ve read what malnutrition is and how you can help, but what does it really look like?  It looks like Benji.  Benji is almost three years old and is the height and weight of an average 9 month old.  It looks like Negie who has the best smile.  It looks like Jamesely who couldn’t wait to eat a bowl of spaghetti.
Benji beside a boy who is an average size for their age (both almost 3)


I don’t want to take away from the good things that are happening in the nutrition program.  All of the children are starting school, which will hopefully break the cycle of malnutrition in their families.  All of the children are receiving daily multivitamins with iron.  All of the children are receiving medical care that they did not previously have access to.  All of the moms are attending a weekly bible study with me.  This week we are registering one of the moms back in school because she wants to provide a better future for her two boys.  However, there is still more to do.  A quote on the WHO website stuck with me.  It says, “We are guilty of many errors and many faults, but our worst crime is abandoning the children, neglecting the foundation of life.  Many of the things we need can wait.  The child cannot.  Right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made, and his senses are being developed.  To him we cannot answer ‘tomorrow’.  His name is ‘Today’.”

We cannot show these children the love of Jesus without also meeting their physical needs.  They need strength to grow and develop now. Waiting will be detrimental.  Will you help save these children’s lives? 

If you are interested in donating money, you can give through this link (and get a tax donation!).  Please put "Tore Karenbauer Nutrition Food" in the comments section.  For more information, please contact me at

Saturday, September 17, 2016

First Week Back!

It has been one week back in my Haiti home, and I have so much to be thankful for.  I am thankful for my friends and family here in Haiti.  I am thankful for this country.  I am thankful to be back here: safe and healthy.  I am thankful for the people who make it possible for me to be here both through prayer and financial support. 

I am also so very thankful for my time in the States.  Though I did not necessarily know it, the time of rest, respite, refreshment, and reflection was very needed.  I am thankful for the illness that caused this slowdown that God knew I needed.  I was able to spend my time at home with friends and family.  I was able to spend time with Raphael and Margaret’s beautiful family.  I was also able to do quite a bit of wedding planning (which relieved a big stressor for me).  Most importantly, I feel like I was able to do a lot of reflection.  I had time to actually process some of the hard times I’ve encountered in Haiti as well as look back on some of God’s blessings and provisions.  I feel like I have come back to Haiti a new person with a new perspective. 

I’ve spent this first week adjusting back to life here.  I have been so blessed by everyone being excited I am back.  I got back relatively late, but was welcomed by signs taped to my room’s door compliments of the boys.  I was also welcomed back by many cockroaches!  After the power went out my first night back, I was trying to go to sleep.  I kept hearing a noise and thought there might be a rat in my room.  I decided to check, and thankfully I did not find a rat.  Instead, I found about 20 cockroaches in the bathtub!  Yuck!  The next day I set off a bug bomb and have killed around 50!  Hopefully that is the majority of them.  I am thankful for the boys coming to help me pick up all the dead ones – not my favorite part of life here!

Most of my mornings have been spent with Benji.  He’s been pretty sick, but we are praying the medicine will make him feel a bit better.  This boy brings so much joy into my life.  I cannot thank God enough for letting me play a small role in his life.  

My afternoons have been spent with the boys.  They started school this week and will practice reciting their lessons with me.  Before I left, they were really into playing baseball except they were using their hands as a bat.  I brought in some foam bats.  They were so excited and planned a big baseball game for yesterday afternoon.  I was informed I also had to provide music for the event.  It was so funny watching the entire field break out in dance at random parts of the game.  I will say I think they might need Coach Karenbauer to come show them how to properly use a bat, but we had fun nonetheless. 

Wadley's first day of fourth grade!

Baseball game
I have been encouraged to blog more, so I really will be working on it.  My big focus for this next week is the nutrition program.  Be on the lookout for some posts about the kids in this program and what the program is doing.  Thanks for all your help in getting me back here.  It is so good to be home. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

My Three Homes

“You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart always will be elsewhere.  That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

A few years ago I never would have guessed that this quote would so accurately describe my life.  I certainly would not have guessed that I would have three homes!  Kentucky will always be my home.  I love Kentucky, and I love being surrounded by my friends and family.  However, Haiti has also become my home.  Everyday it becomes more like home to me as I continue learning the language and culture and growing in my relationships with my friends there.  Three years ago I gained another home: Australia!  The truth is, my home is wherever Liam is, but right now that happens to be Australia.  (I do love his family as well!)  While I love having three different homes, it is hard that they are never all together.  I am always missing something. 

The beginning of July I got as close as I could to being completely home.  My three worlds collided in an absolutely beautiful way.  My church (a big part of my Kentucky family), my mom, Chris, and Liam all got off a tap-tap at my Haiti home.  While my heart was overjoyed to see them, my body was not feeling so good.  I had been up sick most of the night prior.  This sickness (which ended up being typhoid and pneumonia) got worse throughout their trip, which made things so difficult for me.  I had spent so long helping them plan their trip, but I could not participate in most of what they did. 

The Daybreak Team

Though I was sidelined for the majority of their week, it did not stop me from seeing the relationships they built and the wonderful work they accomplished.  The focus of their time in Haiti was the boys in the orphanage.  They had many activities planned with them including a two-day boot camp run by an army colonel, a beach trip, hiking, devotions, and medical exams on all of the boys.  It was so funny watching the boys doing push ups and tying knots.  Mingua Beef Jerky donated jerky for the boot camp.  One of my favorite moments came when the boys were eating it.  One of them said, "Tore, I don't know what this stuff is, but it is too good!!!" All of them thoroughly enjoyed the jerky!  While the boys loved the boot camp, it also gave them an opportunity to see what appropriate male role models look like.  The men in the group led them, taught them, and loved them.  In a country with a lack of male Christian leaders, it was an amazing sight to see.  Here are some of my favorite pictures.

Liam and his boot camp team
Learning the perfect push up

Their home
The hardest part of their trip for me was when we went to La Baie.  The group bought bags of groceries and Creole Bibles to do a grocery ministry in the community.  We split in two groups and let God lead them to homes who needed to hear His message.  At each home we were able to share some scripture with the families, pray for them, and give them a bag of groceries and a Bible.  This has always been one of my favorite things to do.  My group went to some homes that we have been visiting for the last several years.  In 2013, God led us to a house with a very sick mother.  We prayed desperately for her healing, but God had other plans and she died a few months later.  We visited this family every year after and tried to help the father and his children deal with their grief.  In March, I unexpectedly found myself at this man's house again.  I had been hiking with a group and they stopped at his house.  They shared their faith with him.  Afterwards I stayed back to talk to him for a little.  He shared how much of an impact the Blue Grass team made in his life by returning to his house year after year and how he felt our prayers.  I was excited to bring the team back to see him this summer.  However, he was not there when we got to his home.  His daughter informed us he passed away very unexpectedly not long after my visit.  While my heart is sad over this loss of a friend, I am thankful that I was able to share with him one last time.  I pray he took the words to heart and that we will meet again one day.  I also pray we were able to bring a little comfort to his children who now have now lost both of their parents. 

While some parts of their trip were hard, so many parts were full of so much joy.  My favorite part of the whole trip was the awards ceremony that they hosted for the boys at the end of the week.  We had a VBS, juice and cake, and then a devotion.  Each boy was recognized for participating in boot camp.  They were called up one by one where they got a certificate, a new outfit, AND a brand new pair of tennis shoes. (a HUGE thank you to everyone who donated money or bought shoes for them!)  The boys were so incredibly excited to be individually recognized and get their surprises.  We closed out the night with singing and dancing.  It was such a beautiful night.  Everyone went to bed with full hearts.  

After nine packed days the group went home, but Liam stayed for another week.  Even though I was still sick, it was so much fun to explore Haiti with Liam and watch him fall in love with the people I love.  He spent a lot of time with the boys and tried to teach them to say “g’day mate.”  It was quite the sight to see.  We spent quite a bit of time with Wadley and Benji.  It did not take Liam long to see how they had captured my heart.  Liam was able to spend some time in the aquaponics system to see what his future could look like in Haiti.  We also took a quick trip to the Mole so he could see our other campus as well as meet Jody, Jose, and Susan.  His time in Haiti was busy and full of many adventures, but I think he went home ready to come back again. 

When Liam left Haiti, I made the difficult decision to come back with him.  I had not intended to come back to the States until November, but I needed some time to rest, recover, and gain some weight back.  While I am missing my Haitian family so much, I know I needed this time in my Kentucky home.  I am thankful for the support and prayers that I received both in Haiti and since I have returned.  During my last week in Haiti, the boys held prayer services for me three times a day.  They would pray healing over me, sing worship, and share scripture.  I am so thankful that these boys are being raised to fear God in a way that they can offer their lives in true dependence on Him.  What a beautiful sight. 

My plan is to return to Haiti in the next couple of weeks.  I ask for your prayers as I continue to recover and prepare for my journey back.  I cannot wait to hug these boys again!