This past year has been quite the ride. For both of us, it has been the craziest 365+ days of our lives, and we are so grateful that God has continued to sustain us, lead us, and show his faithfulness to us. We have experienced great joy, great difficulty, and seen great clarity in God holding us in his hands.

And it all started by reading a little book. In the spring of 2008, we were living in Jacksonville and both Diana and I read a book by Gary Haugen called Just Courage. The basic premise of the book (which we highly recommend) is that we are invited by God to live our lives in such a way that we require him to be faithful and for us to be dependent on him giving us courage. Every day. So we prayed that God would lead our lives to make us depend on him for that courage.

We had no idea where he would take us, and most of the time we didn’t even know (and often are still unaware) of just how much courage God provide our hearts with. And he does it for every one of his children.

Disclaimer: Reading the book mentioned above does not guarantee you have to live through an earthquake in Haiti.

As we look back on this past year since we moved to Haiti, and as we look forward to the days, weeks, and months ahead, we are grateful for the courage God promises us.

There have been times of great fear, and times of great unknown. The day after the earthquake was the worst and hardest day of our lives, with hopelessness and despair gripping this country. We experienced fear. I experienced it when we flew back to this island the week after the quake to drive in food and supplies, and Diana was afraid of her husband driving across the border where people had been shot for food. Diana was fearful when she flew back to Haiti that week to bring Mindylove to the US, and as her husband, I was afraid of my wife flying into the center of a capital city within a country in complete and utter chaos. Yet in all of this, there was indescribable, unimaginable courage – courage that we were largely unaware of, but that was gifted to us as God so led.

We love Haiti. And we love living here. We thank God he has opened the door for us to be here. And yet, often my mind races back to the hardest times living here. I recall the many tears we have cried. I think of the hopeless faces with have encountered. I think of the horror of earthquake aftermath and the car accident trauma in our hospital. I think of the sick people no human can heal, and the millions of hungry people we cannot feed. I recall the frequent injustices we see firsthand that make my heart sick. I think of the draining nature of all of it, and I wonder at how a human heart can survive pain like that.

In that wondering, I am brought back to thanking Jesus for giving us courage. He commands us to “be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:9) but then he actually provides the courage for our hearts as well. And we know this is truly good news.

And we have witnessed truly great news play out. We have seen God rescue orphans, and have watched amputees walk again. We have been able to be a part of God feeding the hungry, and we have witnessed his protection. We have made lifelong friends, had hearts melted by countless children, learned a new strange sounding language (yon lang ak son dwol yo), laughed a lot, welcomed many dear visiting friends, and we have received a gift of real hope of seeing Haiti transformed.
Mindylove with family
A day of God's provision. A little orphan girl came home!
We want to thank all of our friends for praying for and encouraging us this past year, and we hope that you will continue to pray for us. And if you don’t believe in prayer, or God, or him giving us courage, we pray that God would draw you to himself, and make you dependant on him, and his courage, for every day of your life. 

Also, if you have a few hours free, order that book, Just Courage, and read it. I hope it will help you see the freedom we have been given ever more clearly.  
Today I'm going to introduce you to the people that I got to work with all last week.  They are beautiful.  Their stories are filled with so much sadness and pain, but they are beginning to live life with joy again.  I wish each of you could experience this with me, as you would fall in love with my new friends, too.  They have changed my life.
Meet Fabienne.  Fabienne was a professional dancer before the earthquake.  During the earthquake, she was stuck under rubble, and had to have her leg amputated.  She had her surgery at Mission of Hope, but because the prosthetics lab was not open yet at the time, she got her leg from another relief group.  Then, she came back and got physical therapy at Mission of Hope with her new leg.  She came back to visit us this past Friday, and here she is... dancing again!  It puts tears in my eyes.  She is precious.  And you cannot even tell she has a prosthetic limb.  She dances with such ease and grace.  I wish I got to spend more time with her, but it was just a quick visit.  After about five minutes of being with her though, I realized that it was HER that I had seen on a PBS news clip that featured a Haitian dancer amputee!  

Here she is again... teaching me to dance! :)

Meet Douly.  This is the second week Douly is with us, and I've had the privilege of seeing him open up and laugh a lot over this past week, which has been amazing!  The first week he didn't smile at all.  After a few days, I learned that during the earthquake, Douly was in his house with his 4 siblings, and all of them died that day when his house collapsed.  There were no adults there, and I'm not sure how long Douly was there alone, with his crushed siblings around him.  Another sad thing is that Douly's mom left when he was 4 years old, as did his dad.  He lives with his 25 year old aunt, Nadege, who was also taking care of the other 4 before they died.  I got to connect with her a lot this week, and it was really special.  I couldn't help but compare myself to her... as we are the same age and nearly have the same birthday too.  How vastly different my life is from hers... becoming the mom at age 20 when her sister leaves.  Then, dealing with the loss of all but one, and spending 6 months wondering if he will ever walk again after losing a leg.  She has no job, and hasn't been able to finish school because she can barely get enough money each week to feed her family.  However, she is SO full of joy and life, and I felt so blessed to be around her.  She braided my hair while all the other amputees watched so intently, and we danced and made braided hairbands.  Back to Douly.  After his week of physical therapy (I am the PT when we have no one else!), Douly was walking SO WELL!  From Monday to Friday he was drastically better.  Now he's walking with a cane that I cut for him that's about 2 feet tall with star stickers all over it.  He loves it. 

Meet Geraldine!  She is one of my favorites!  She's 11.  My favorite thing about her is how shy she is.  So many times throughout the day, she will try to hold back a smile, and then I just say, "Geeeeraldine.......!" and she bursts out with laughter.  She was back this week for her second leg, as she outgrew her old one.  She was so so happy with her new one!  Here she is dancing, after watching Fabienne (above) dancing.   It is so neat how amputees encourage each other and show each other that they really can do all the things they used to do! :) :)