Have you ever felt like you just knew you had God's plan for your life all figured out and you were pretty happy with it and proud of yourself for figuring it out? It turns out that many times when we get to that place we are blindsided by a new revelation that God is not so easy to figure out! That is what happened to us.
We were in Haiti serving full time as missionaries and even though it was the toughest thing we had ever imagined, we loved the people and loved the ministry and thought we would be there for a long, long time. Then last summer we came home for a few weeks and to get Megan married off, when we discovered one of our other children had a significant learning disability to go along with some other issues. As we looked into it, we really began to feel that we could not take care of that in Haiti. Then our youngest son who we were also having tested due to some suspected problems was diagnosed with autism. Through all of that and other issues we were working through in our family, we felt God was closing the door on us continuing to serve as full time missionaries in Haiti right now. But we had no idea what that meant. Joy and I both had to battle being depressed and discouraged. I felt I was letting everyone down. I thought about all the fishermen and people we love in Haiti and how they had not yet come to know the love of Jesus as a reality in their lives. I thought about all of the people here that supported us in Haiti and helped make it possible for us to go. I really thought about the 2 missionary families that God had sent to serve with us in Haiti. How could I let all of them down? How could I disappoint everyone and give up?
I spent several months battling all of those feelings in South Florida where we put our kids into school and programs to start to address their issues. I tried to figure out why it had to work out this way and what I would do now. I had no backup plan. We did not go to Haiti with a plan B. I tried to find where I could get a job in ministry in Florida. I thought for sure that had to be God's plan. I could be a missions pastor. I could serve for an association as a missions coordinator. Anything God! Just open a door. Nothing. For 6 months we had no job and no direction. God was doing other things. He was refreshing the relationships in my family. He was causing us to depend on Him even more. It was not fun though. It was confusing, disappointing, frustrating, and scary. I could not do optometry in FL because of their licensing laws. I did not think I wanted to do optometry anyway. I never felt as alive and fulfilled as when I walked through the fishing village in Haiti. When we fed the kids in schools, and held the ones at the children's home. How could I go back to optometry and feel that way. All of these thoughts and emotions tormented me and all the while Joy was trying to figure out how to take care of the kids in a new state.
But God is always faithful. He is always good. He led me to a place where I could work part time at an eye care practice in a position other than an optometrist. It let me get back into the practice and God used that to rekindle the desire to minister to people in that capacity. I got my optometry license in GA and tried to get a job in places that I decided I wanted to live. But God never opened a door. Then a couple of months ago I got a call from a doctor about 2 hours from my home town in GA to come and visit his practice. He invited the whole family to come and stay at his house for the weekend. We went and really felt it was the leading of God. Joy was sold before I was. I decided long ago I never wanted to live in southwest GA. All I remembered was football camp and it was HOT and gnats. But then again we were living in Haiti. It was definitely not HAITI!
So right now I am sitting in my office in Albany, GA where I have joined an amazing practice where I can serve. The kids and Joy are in south Florida. I drive up every Monday night and back home after work on Thursday night until the kids finish school. In June we will all move to Albany full time to begin the next phase of our family's journey. We are still active in Haiti. New Vision is still serving under the leadership of our board and the missionaries on the field in Haiti. We have more needs than ever to take care of the kids and people there. I hope to get chances to share about the ministry and help people get involved here in the U.S. I will also be leading trips down and helping in any way I can. We have Justice here with us and are meeting with immigration attorneys to get her status secure. We are still believing God for JP to be able to come here with us. He is living with Dago at the moment and doing great.
Keep us in your prayers and pray for Haiti. I can't say that I have reached the place where I am fully accepting of our new plight but I am fully accepting of the goodness of my God and His total love for me and my family. I am so happy to see our kids getting the care they need. Thank you to everyone who has continued to support the ministry through this transition. We believe that New Vision is going to be more impacting than ever in 2013 and beyond with the help of friends. Keep in touch and let us know how you are doing in your journey as well.