On April 6 we put Dawn on the plane to Haiti. For several months we’ve helped her pack, labels things and get ready to go. We attended fundraisers in Tampa and in Ft. Myers, then as her support came in, she was able to quit Starbucks. She was given the go ahead to order the sea container and we packed some more in earnest. There were packing parties at the house where her Starbucks friends and church friends came and helped her wrap and prepare her furniture for transportation and label everything (she had to have a manifest of everything she was putting on the container for customs). Then her friends came to help pack the container. Her belongings only filled half of it and the other half was filled with supplies and equipment for RMI’s missionaries and ministries. You can see pictures of all this on her website, actingonfaith.org.
By the time the container was sent on its way, Dawn was down to living out of 3 suitcases, a backpack and a carry-on…for a month! But she had planned well and she was able to focus on spending time with supporters, getting her paperwork in order to get her visa once she gets there and all the many last minute details. Her Tampa friends hosted a very nice going away party and we hosted a large going away party at our home for all her Ft. Myers supporters and friends. It was a challenge, but we managed to feed and fit 50 people in our house! Both times were a tremendous encouragement to her!
A last meal with her grandparents in Naples and her brother, sister-in-law and niece in Ft. Lauderdale and then it was time to get on the plane. She was so excited, she hardly looked back as she took off down the airport.
RMI staff met her and all her luggage arrived fine. They arrived in Cayes in time for supper. [Here she is that night in the yard of her new house with RMI missionary Becky Thompson and her daughter, Tessa.] After a good weekend they were all surprised to see her container arrive Sunday night!! That was a record time for a container to be shipped, worked through customs and received in Cayes. They unloaded it the next morning. Most of her things went into a storage area until her house is ready for her. But she was able to unpack her bed, refrigerator and a few other essential things. I’m including her March newsletter which answers some of the “where will you be living” kind of questions.
So now, the house is quiet, no more packing and preparing, no more trips to Tampa, and we hardly know what to do with ourselves. Well, that’s not exactly true….we’ve turned her bedroom into a 2nd guestroom (which we’ve already used twice in the last 10 days) and are now trying to get our overdue gardening/spring planting done. Dan was able to go on a 3 day motorcycle ride around central Florida with several buddies. He needed that break and change of pace. And we are getting ready for a trip to South Carolina for my mom’s 80th birthday.
Here is Dawn’s March newsletter:
It’s finally happening!! April 6 I fly to Haiti. I say finally because becoming an overseas missionary has been my life goal, my “dream job”, a specific calling from God for a very long time. Thus I can tell you with a tremendous amount of excitement that I’m flying to Haiti on April 6!
God has been Faithful...
By the time you get this letter, I should be at 98% for both my monthly support needs and my one time costs. I’ve been able to purchase what I need here in the states with those funds. Once I get there and set up house, there will be costs that I have to pay there in Haiti - things like buying propane tanks, buying a stove (it needed to be bought in-country because the ones there will not have all the electronic controls like the ones in the US), housing fees, getting satellite internet set up and quite a number of other things. God has allowed me to share at quite a number of churches and Bible studies. Some of them were new opportunities and some were contacts from my college and post-college years. Some in Tampa, Myakka City (a small town near Bradenton), here in Ft. Myers and I sure don’t want to forget my new ministry partners in Washington state. In some I was given just 4-5 minutes to share while some gave me the entire service. And God worked. He spoke to people’s hearts and my funds have come in. I so appreciate everyone’s love and sacrificial giving!
The Sea Container is on its Way...
Each step of this journey to get to Haiti has had it’s own set of challenges. Trying to work at Starbucks and do deputation at the same time was difficult. It left little time to shop for a household of things (everything from couches, tables, chairs, to the bathroom sink) for 4 years. I was so glad when Feb. 2 came and I turned in my apron! Since then I’ve focused on whittling down my list of needs and sharing about my ministry. Oh, and packing. Five days before the container was dropped, I had 9 wonderful friends from my Bible study group and former Starbucks co-workers who came to my house and spent 2.5 hours packing my bedroom furniture, securing my bins with zip ties, and labeling and numbering everything.
The container is 40’ - the same size as a semi-truck. My belongings didn’t fill it up, of course! RMI used about half of it to get quite a number of things for the ministry to Haiti that just can’t get there any other way...like 4-wheelers, truck tires and an industrial stove for the Zanglais Ministry Center. There were 40 pillows and sets of sheets for the Ministry Center and many other supplies added to the container.
We had to have everything packed, bubble wrapped, stretch wrapped, labeled and ready for loading day, March 6. Since my parents’ house could only hold so much stuff, we rented a storage unit until we could get them loaded. I’m so glad RMI has experience in doing this because I would have never known that a forklift, rental truck and all kinds of other equipment was needed to load it.
We had another night of friends helping load the rental truck with the things at my house and some of the storage unit stuff. The next day, March 6, we had a wonderful crew of volunteers who came and worked hard all day to load everything onto the container. What a huge job. It was sealed and sent on it’s way. Pray with me as it makes it way through the Port of Miami, onto the container ship, across the sea to Port of Port-au-Prince, through customs and then on the road to it’s final destination at Cayes. If all goes well, it should arrive in Cayes about the same time I do on April 6. Believe it or not, I’m now down to living out of 3 suitcases, 1 carry-on and my backpack. Amazing! This is becoming real!
Before I leave...
The month of March will be very busy. Every weekend is planned, and the days in between are starting to fill up with last doctor visits, paperwork for customs, paperwork for my work permit (I have to get fingerprinted and a good conduct police report!), etc.
Once I get to Haiti...
I will be staying in temporary housing at first. I’ve been assigned to live in a “single ladies house” and 2 of the 3 ladies that are in there right now are in transition and in the process of leaving. Once they leave, repairs will need to be done before I can move in. This house is approximately 80 years old and much of the time it’s been occupied by single ladies. The wiring needs to be updated, a number of things replaced, painting, leaks fixed, etc. Most of my belongings will be stored at RMI’s storage and depot yard in a secure container until the house is ready and I can actually move in. This house has 3 bedrooms with each room having its own bathroom and a common living/dining and kitchen area.
Where will I be located...
My house is located on the Cite Lumiere Mission Center. It is the same mission center where I was born and grew up. In fact, the house I grew up in is right down the hill from where I’ll be living. The mission center is basically 2 hilltops. The Haitian church association that RMI is affiliated with, MEBSH (Mission Evangélique Baptiste du Sud d’Haïti) - the Evangelical Baptist Mission of Southern Haiti - owns all the property and buildings and I’ll be renting my house from them. The mission center has a number of homes for missionaries, a missionary kid school (where I attended), a hospital, dental and maternity (where I was born!) clinic, all the offices of MEBSH and its departments as well as the RMI office and it’s storage/garage/depot yard on it. It’s about a kilometer long, end to end. The homes are concrete block; some of them have concrete roofs and some have tin roofs. Mine has a tin roof (with a drop ceiling).
The mission center is located right outside of Les Cayes, Haiti’s 3rd largest town and the major town in the southern peninsula. It’s a mixture of a “big city” feel and yet rural too. It’s about 5 hours from the capital of Port-au-Prince. Most of my living and shopping will be done in Cayes (the name is usually shortened to just “Cayes”, pronounced “k-eyes”). My travel with teams will be in different villages all over the southern peninsula. The other place to note is the Zanglais Ministry Center. It’s located about 45 minutes east of Cayes. I’ll be spending quite a bit of time with teams there.
My RMI Teammates...
I’m so thankful that I’ll be a part of a large team working with RMI. There are 9 US missionaries and about 40 national staff working with RMI. Some of the national staff used to work with my parents when they were there, so they knew me when I was a kid. Quite a number of missionaries working with other organizations live across the street, down the road and next door, too. I’ll be well taken care of! I appreciate that they emphasize field orientation and language study first before starting ministry. That’s what I’ll be doing during my first 3-4 months besides getting my house in order. I know I’ll be anxious to get started in ministry but I also know I need to be properly equipped beforehand with solid language skills.
Please Pray with me...
I am filled with many different emotions, happiness, excitement, amazement, and a little nervous. I’ve been waiting to go to the mission field for a very long time. God has blown me away with His provision, love, care, and direction.
* Pray that the last funds I need will come in before I leave for Haiti April 6. RMI has cleared me to go, but those last funds need to come in. If you feel led to help, go to www.rmibridge.org/donate.
* Pray for my transition to living in Haiti. It’s going to be so different, and away from family and friends.
* Pray that my housing situation continues to work out. There are many details and repairs to take care and it’s hard to be patient. I’ve been “in transition” for a long time and I just want to settle in and “make my home”.
* Pray for me as I go through Creole language study. I want to do well. I have a good base from my growing up years, but I really need to do a lot of catching up to get it up to a ministry level.
* Pray that I’ll find a good solid niche in the RMI team.
* Pray for my relationships with my roommates. With housing so tight, other single ladies will be assigned to the other bedrooms in the house and I won’t really be able to “pick out” a housemate.
You can still contact me via email, email@example.com. You can keep up with me by checking out my website, www.actingonfaith.org, or find me on Facebook (look me up using “Dawn Shoemaker – Impacting Haiti”). Once I get there, I’ll let everyone know my new address and phone number.
Thank you again for your faithful support. I appreciate you so much!
Only by His Grace,
Her support is currently at 98%. We’ve seen God do amazing things in providing for her one-time needs and her monthly support. It’s been so encouraging to her and exciting to see this blessing and affirmation of her call of God on her life. We are very proud of her to say the least. She’s finally there! Her life-long dream has become reality. But…
Now we have to figure out how to do this empty nest thing.