It’s been an eventful start to the year. I figured that if I didn’t write it down, I wouldn’t remember it.
The year started with some bad news: our colleague, RMI’s VP, Kim Rose, fell off a tall ladder at his home on Jan. 3. An ER visit, dislocated shoulder, broken arm, sprained wrist and torn Achilles tendon later determined that with surgery and weeks and weeks of recuperation and physical therapy, he would be ok (that’s the good news part of this scenario). But for us, this has meant that he has to work from home and we in the RMI office are “limping along” (pun unintended) without him.
Good News – we live in America and there was a peaceful, orderly transfer of power in our country. But since this isn’t a political blog nor do we make political statements I won’t comment on the people involved. From the perspective of one who lived for 25 years overseas and traveled to quite a few countries in Europe and Caribbean, I can say that I enjoyed watching the inauguration and I love being an American. Seeing the flag, hearing the songs (well, except that one from Missouri – I couldn’t figure that one out), watching the pomp and circumstance – it made me realize that I really did miss seeing all that throughout the years of being gone. We really do have a wonderful country – even with it’s imperfections and challenges. (The good news/bad news in this will have to be determined by the reader depending on your view of things.)
But it’s the stuff in our personal lives that this blog is about.
So…the good news is that our nearest and dearest friend, Jules Gedna, finished his battle with cancer and graduated to see our Lord face to face on Jan. 19. He is no longer in pain. The bad news is that we have lost our dearest friend and closest partner in ministry. In our early years of ministry in Haiti…the 1980’s and 1990’s, he was almost the only co-worker we had. RMI would not be where it is today if it hadn’t been for Jules’ tireless, selfless, loyal work for us and the ministry. You can read more about Jules from RMI’s Facebook page HERE, particularly the Jan. 19th post, or from the Facebook group, “Remembering Jules Gedna” HERE.
A team member (who became a good friend and eventually a fellow missionary) wrote: “I have enjoyed reading the tributes to Jules and Dan (on the occasion of his 60th birthday on January 29) but struggle to find my own words. I cannot seem to share my first memories of the one without the other…they blend in the fog of my first experience in Haiti! What a remarkable situation we are now considering…memories of two brothers – one now singing in glory…the other remaining here to celebrate his 60 years. My most powerful early remembrance is of the two together – partners-in-crime / brothers in the ministry. I recall the sensation was ‘I can trust these men!’ Dan commanded it and Jules exuded it. They trusted each other and the God who loves them…they would escort us up the ‘ramp’ (a particularly tough part of the main road up and over the mountains) to see Jesus in Beaumont, Haiti…and so they did…and we did…see Jesus! I know I will never be the same…and I sing with great joyful gratitude to God for bringing me into the company of these two Godly men! Although I have stories of memories that have grown like mountains upon these, none can overshadow that ‘first time’ in Haiti and the gentlemen who facilitated my unique encounter with God. I am forever grateful.”
One piece of good news was that 2 weeks before he died Dan and Dawn flew to Boston where he and his wife, Marthe, lived and spent a day with him. Dawn and Jules have had a special bond since she was born on his birthday. Dan showed Jules pictures of the hurricane aftermath, they visited and Dan prayed with Jules. The bad news was that they knew this was to be their last visit. It was bittersweet but they were glad that they went.
Dan and Debbie, as well as representatives of the RMI Haiti staff, attended his funeral in Boston on Jan. 28. He leaves behind his wife, 2 adult sons and 3 grandchildren.
Dan’s 60th birthday was Jan. 29. Very good news indeed!! The bad news is that there was no celebration because we were involved in a huge missions conference at our home church that day. We felt very sad about this…but have decided that we’ll have a dual celebration in March when Debbie turns 60. We hope to be able to take a special trip sometime later in the year to mark those milestones and our anniversary at the same time.
Jan. 22 we made a trip to Ft. Lauderdale to help our sweet Riley celebrate her first birthday. It was a fun day to be with both sides of the family. She took her first steps on Christmas Day so she’d had a month’s practice being on her feet. While we were there she enjoyed practicing going up and down the little steps into the house and out of the house, in and out, and in and out again. She’s already pretty agile on her feet. She was overwhelmed with all the people that were there and even all the presents – but she has the hang of ripping up paper. One of the things we gave her was her first rocking horse that happens to sing….and she was afraid of it and burst into tears when it started to sing. It was cute. Another toddler that was there has one just like it – so she stood by it pinching it’s ear to activate the song and did a little bouncy dance to the song. In time she’ll like it and be riding it – it’s just her little size. [This is Riley on the horse about 10 days later, riding it and squeezing the ear to hear the song.] That’s the good news of that day.
The other good news of that day was that we lived through a terrible accident on the way home. We were almost home, traveling on the main road into town when a minivan came barreling down a side street at 50 mph – not even applying the brakes for her stop sign. She blew right through it and slammed into a truck that passed between us and the minivan in the intersection. The 2 vehicles crashed, twisted and turned all around us in the intersection, debris from both vehicles flying everywhere. It happened in a millisecond. And somehow we drove through all of that without a scratch on us or even the car. Our blood pressure and adrenaline levels were entirely another matter. We pulled over, called 911 and checked on the occupants of the vehicles involved. EMT’s were quickly on the scene since the station was right up the street. The jaws of life were required to extract the van driver. As Dan gave his statement to the police, Dawn and I walked around the debris field on the side of the road. The truck bed had been full of construction equipment so we saw tools, buckets, gas cans, a chunk of cement and a huge sledgehammer. How some of that didn’t hit our car is a mystery to us. We do praise God for His mercy and grace for protecting us!
The bad news was that this was not our first encounter with the police that week! Several days earlier Deb’s van was broken into during the night. We say “broken” into but really all the thief had to do was to open the door since she accidently left it unlocked that night. Some very nice headphones and a bag of change was all he got for his efforts but it still left us feeling creeped out. Dan and Dawn’s cars were locked and didn’t have a problem. She won’t be leaving it unlocked again!
Well, that’s enough good news / bad news for now. See you all in the next post.