Insights into these Shoes' Soul

Welcome to our blog! You'll get glimpses into the fabric of our lives... find out what is happening in our family, learn what our latest adjustment is to life in the US, find out what is going on in our minds, see what makes us smile, and hear what makes us tick. You'll also get ministry updates! We hope these insights into our souls will make you smile, keep you informed and challenge you to pray for us.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

From Our House to Yours, Merry Christmas!

5 years. That’s how long the Shoemaker Family has been in the US. In some ways, we feel like we’ve just arrived. In other ways, it seems we’ve been here forever. In some ways our lives have stayed the same. In other ways our lives have changed dramatically.

Thank you for being a faithful friend and supporter through all the change, through all these years. You have been a vital partner in God’s ministry. We appreciate your steadfastness.

We lived in Haiti for 25 years.—that’s a long time to be away from one’s home culture. It’s a good thing we had come back to the states for many summers or we would feel like we just jumped out of a time warp. Think about it...we left in 1984 and returned in 2011. Political correctness, computers, cell phones, iPods, iPads, Kindles, technologies that we never even dreamed of, consumerism that is out of control, increased governmental controls, wow—it’s overwhelming to think of how our home culture has changed.

But I have to say that we’ve had fun “re-inventing” ourselves. Coming up with just bins of personal items (no furniture) gave us the opportunity to start our household over. We’ve settled into our home and really enjoy it. I love that the whole house is air conditioned, the laundry facilities are inside the house, there is space to have a home office and my crafts and sewing as well as enough room to host people inside our home (our home in Haiti was so small that all hosting we did was done outside in the yard; our kids’ rooms measured 8’ X 10’ providing only enough room for a bunk bed/dresser/desk unit and a shelf unit).

Our lifestyle changed overnight. No, we didn’t retire (a common misperception)! Yes, we are still missionaries and in 24/7 just looks different now. Dan works in the office, is involved with guiding and growing RMI, vision casting, finance meetings as well as traveling quite a bit speaking and representing RMI in churches all over the US. I’m working at the RMI office as Director of Communication. Brochures, publications, writing, proofing, blogging and such occupy my time. A common thing that missionary wives miss the most when they come home is having house help. I’m right there with them!! I really do miss having help in the house and in the yard as well.

Dawn is #33.  This is a photo
that appeared in our local paper.
We also found ourselves in the “suburban shuffle”, driving Dawn to and from school. Her involvement in volleyball greatly increased that driving/travel. Turns out that she has a natural ability to play great volleyball! She’d never played it before her sophomore year when we arrived, but the coach at her school recognized her potential , took her under his wings and was a great mentor. Her junior year she was a starter on the varsity team who were undefeated and took the state 2A championship. Who knew?!

Dawn painting an
orphanage in Paraguay.
She feels God has called her to full time ministry as an overseas missionary and is now a junior at Trinity College of Florida (Billy Graham’s alma mater). Their volleyball team has benefited from 6’ tall Dawn’s ability to spike the ball and put points on the scoreboard. Of course being just north of Tampa, near beaches and the ocean and not all that far from home makes it easier on her. She is seriously financially challenged and is on a strict budget—a Ramen noodle every night budget (thanks to an Allstate commercial for that phrase). She is living and going to school by faith. Going to school full time, working part time at Merry Maids, living in an apartment with 3 other girls and being active in her church keeps her crazy busy. Pray for her as she struggles financially to finish her junior and senior year. She turned 21 this October!

During her freshman summer she went to Haiti as an intern for 6 weeks. Volleyball ministry with her high school coach in Ascunsion, Paraguay for 2 weeks was her overseas service her sophomore summer.  (In the picture she’s painting at an orphanage in Ascunsion.) This summer she has exciting plans too: summer school and working full time so she can get into her senior year and graduate. She’d prefer to go to an internship in Papua New Guinea, but time is short and graduating is a priority! Her heart is overseas!

Believe it or not, our first born is 24. Devon is living 40 minutes south of us with his cousin and a fellow Haiti missionary kid that he grew up with. He works as a supervisor in a designer warehouse, but his time is spent fishing (pier and deep sea), helping friends but mostly playing Ultimate Frisbee. He plays as much as possible and has been on a team in Tampa. He was the “model” for a photo shoot for Spin, a line of Ultimate clothing .
If you go to, you’ll see him (this particular image!) on their website. Breaking his elbow and separating his Tommy John tendon slowed him down (just a little) in the fall, but he’s back at work & Ultimate now. He’s still an “adrenalin junky”. Recently he took Dawn skydiving! If it involves a “rush”, you’ll find Devon there.

Two special milestones were celebrated this year..Dan’s parents, Herb and Shirley, celebrated 50 years in ministry this month. They were honored at the recent RMI Board Meetings. What a legacy!

Dan passed a major milestone as well. In 1981 he first went to Haiti as a single missionary, which means that this year he celebrated 30 years in ministry!

A lot has happened in the past 5 years...a snake that fell from the sky, the loss of 2 pets in one month to cancer (Duke the Wal-Mart shopping dog & Munchkin, the calico cat), a knee operation, a shoulder operation, sushi lessons for Father’s Day, travels in the US & overseas, an earthquake, floods & hurricanes, a lot of ministry, Dawn going to college & her first apartment, Devon’s 21st birthday, Dawn’s 21st birthday, a bird that sounds like it walked out of Jurassic Park, a pair of really big shoes that I wanted for Valentines Day and much, much more.  All 4 of us are on Facebook—feel free to “friend” us. Now that will be up to the moment information (and more pictures). RMI’s blog is, and they can be found on Facebook as well.

Thank you again for being a part of our family! You make it possible for us to continue to be in ministry.

P.S. The Christmas ornaments are from our personal tree.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mr. Duke

For the first time in 20 years, we are now dog-less.  Our beloved dog, Duke, died the day after Thanksgiving.  He had a very fast moving cancer; he was only sick for 3 weeks and died only 1 week after we got his diagnosis.   This picture was taken 3 days after his diagnosis, 4 days before he passed away – doesn’t look so sick does he?!  We were shocked and surprised since he was only 12 years old.  I asked the vet how we could possibly lose 2 pets in one month?!  Munchkin just died in October.  We miss him very much, more than we thought we would.  He joined our family at Thanksgiving time in 2001.  He was a well traveled dog.  Born in California, he flew with his owner, a missionary in northern Haiti, to Haiti and lived there until the owner had to leave and gave him to us.  To get to us, he traveled on a tiny 4 seater plane from far outback in northern Haiti to Port-au-Prince where Dan met him.  He and Duke then flew from Port to Cayes in a little bit bigger 17 seater plane.  He arrived with a smile a mile wide.  After 5 years with us there in Cayes, he flew with us in a DC-3 to the US.  Here are a couple of memories of that day that I posted to Facebook:  

A memory of Duke: The day we moved from Haiti, we flew directly from Cayes to Ft. Pierce, FL then drove with our 3 cats, Duke & all our stuff across the state to our home in Lehigh Acres. Devon was already in the US & met us in Ft. Pierce. He took Duke out of his crate & sat him in the passenger seat of his pickup. They drove 3 1/2 hrs. to the house that way. Duke thought he was king of the world; his smile was so wide it seemed to take over his face. When we stopped at McDonalds for a quick bite to eat, Devon went through the drive thru & ordered Duke his own hamburger.

Another memory of Duke that makes us laugh: The first night after flying all the way from Haiti and arriving in our new home (when we 1st moved here 5 1/2 yrs. ago), we put Duke outside on the lanai (screened in back porch) to sleep for the night. Dawn & I said good night to him and then turned & walked into the house, shutting the sliding glass door behind us. We turned around just in time to see that he was trotting along behind us with the intention of following us into the house. Remember, this dog had just flown from Haiti that day where he'd been his whole life. He'd never seen or experienced a glass door before. He did a "face plant" smack into the door at full trot. He stumbled back & the look on his very expressive face was priceless. He was completely surprised, perplexed, shocked, stunned & when he saw Dawn & I laughing uproariously at him, he was embarrassed. It took him a while to adjust to seeing us but not being able to get to us. After that we saw him occasionally stop & check to make sure the door was open before he proceeded to enter the house.

After being able and enjoying roaming free all over the mission center, he had difficulty being tied to a cable or fenced in.  He escaped a number of times from the cable which resulted in many frantic searches.  After we got the fence, he (and we did too) learned that the bottom of the fence is only just sitting on the ground, it is not anchored except at the poles.  So he dug under.  Several times.  Again resulting in many frantic searches.  We live 1 block from the busiest east-west road in our country, 6 lanes wide and across that road is a very busy Wal-Mart.  The first time he disappeared after dark, we searched for over an hour and finally gave up for the evening.  An hour later there was a knock at the door.  A uniformed officer asked us if we’d lost a dog.  When we replied yes, (nervously because we’d only been there 6 months and hadn’t yet bought his dog license!) she said that she thought she may have him in her van.  And there was Duke with his mile wide smile from his wonderful adventure.  She said that he’d been caught running up and down the grocery aisles at Wal-Mart.  Thank the Lord she was happy to return him without a fine.  That was not his first visit to Wal-Mart; he returned 2 or 3 more times.  He was so friendly and nice that inevitably someone would pet him, hang onto him and call us from the parking lot.  We’d go over and retrieve him and he’d have that mile wide smile on his face.    We spent a ton of money trying to keep him in that yard!

He especially loved it when Devon and Dawn came home.  He was all over them in an instant when they walked in the door.  Being a lab/most likely pit bull mix, he had the friendly, faithful, people loving qualities of both breeds.  His favorite place was sitting on your feet (if he could get to them) or sleeping at one of our bedsides.  When Devon spent the night at the house, he would let Duke sleep with him on the bed.  Believe it or not, he’d grab a corner of the comforter and suck on it.  We had to warn other overnight guests to keep their door shut during the night or else Duke would join them. [This picture with Devon was taken a few months after we arrived in 2006. The picture below was taken by our house sitter one time when she stayed at the house.  Duke climbed into the bed with her several times.]

In some ways he was like a typical cartoon dog…he dug all kinds of places in the yard to have a nice cool place to lay.  If we gave him a chew toy or a bone, he’d go straight away and bury it.  Every now and then we’d uncover a toy and play with him with it, but as soon as we turned our back, it was gone, back to the bowels of the earth never to be seen again!  We learned to give him bones on the lanai.  There he’d usually eat or gnaw on it.  We’ve been given wild boar bones for Duke once a year for 3 years, so we froze them and would give him one every few days.  He would literally dance in excitement when he saw one of those bones coming out of the freezer.  We did love him and he loved us.  Amazing how God has enabled some animals to be so responsive, loving, friendly and faithful to us humans.  Our lives are enriched because of them.