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.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Is it Christmas Already?

Christmas in Florida means we decorate dressed in shorts and with the air conditioning on.  And we put lights on the palm trees.  While it’s a bit different from the rest of the US, it’s actually just what we did for so many years in Haiti.  What’s not different is the reason for this very special season!  God’s gift of His son to us is not something we take lightly and for which we are very grateful.  We pray that this Christmas season will be special for you.

This year we are trying to embrace our new titles...that of Nana and Pop Pop.  On Mother’s Day Devon and Kristen told us they were expecting Jan. 20, 2016!  A few months later they skyped with us to include us in the reveal party...the cupcakes were pink! We’re anxious to meet Riley Jade in a few weeks. It’s hard to wrap our heads around the whole concept of Devon becoming a dad, but it is going to happen!  The picture on the left was taken at Thanksgiving - 8 weeks to go.  The next picture was their baby announcement featuring their dog, Chloe.  We’re excited to meet this new little Shoemaker girl.  Mostly we just want to spoil her and hand her back to her parents.

In February we told you of Dawn’s engagement and upcoming wedding this past month. Unfortunately things didn’t work out as hoped and planned and she broke off the engagement in June.  It was a heartbreaking and difficult decision but we agree with her that this marriage was not God’s best for her.  We’re thankful/proud that she was wise and discerning in taking this step.  Since then she’s made very purposeful steps to continue her path to become an agricultural missionary.  She is now an intern at Morningstar Fishermen (an aquaponics training and research center) in Dade City, FL - an hour north of Tampa.  Besides aquaponics training, she’s learning about sustainable agriculture, alternative energy and even bee keeping.  They were excited when she came to them with a research project relating to developing sustainable, locally produced food for fish projects.  God has given her a perfect place to live (furnished garage apartment!) 10 minutes away.  Having special, godly landlords is a plus, too!  Since the internship is not a paid position, she transferred her Starbucks employment to the closest one (30 minutes away) and is working there.  Her life is busy but she’s found she enjoys the rural area she’s in.  And she’s at peace that this is the direction that God has for her right now.

In the “never have done that before” category was the February RMI Board Meeting that took place in Haiti.  We’d never actually met IN Haiti for a Board Meeting before but it was a wonderful and rewarding experience.  Besides the day and a half of meetings, together we visited a school, participated in the Hot Lunch Program by helping serve the food, visited a Homes for Haiti home, toured the new RMI Haiti office, and met with the staff and missionaries.  It was a full 5 days!

Another “never have done that before” is the fact that our church asked Dan to lead a Creole language Sunday School class (there’s alot of Haitians attending our church).  It’s just getting off the ground, but it’s a new adventure that he is enjoying.

This was a year of growth in RMI.  In the US International Office a new couple joined the staff.  To accommodate John and Joanne Miner, Dan and RMI’s VP of Operations, Kim Rose, renovated RMI’s current office.  They built a wall to divide a large work space into 2 and built a new conference room in the large garage area.  When the dust settled, we moved offices around and were able to give the Miners their own work spaces.  It was well worth all the effort.   RMI is growing in Haiti, too.  Recently a new missionary family arrived and have settled in nicely.  They are finished with language study and are actively involved in RMI’s ministries.  There are now 4 families in Haiti!
Deb’s sisters’ fall get together has morphed into an entire weekend, which is good because it’s hard to catch up with each other in just a day.  This year’s outing was in Dillsboro, NC.  Not only did we shop til we dropped (which at our ages, is a lot sooner than it used to be), but we had an open air train ride in the Nantahala area.  The trees were just starting to turn and it was beautiful weather.  [L to R: Deb, Marti, B, Carrie - we have a lifelong habit of arranging ourselves in birth order for pictures!]
Dan’s travels and speaking schedule keeps him jumping on and off planes and in and out of cars hither, thither and yonder.  He’s had some unique opportunities to share RMI’s ministries with churchs and groups in New Jersey, Cincinnati, Atlanta, & Orlando.  Oh, and Haiti and Colombia, too.  He was invited back to speak at a Haitian church in NYC where he enjoyed preaching in Creole and then being translated into English.  Most of these trips he makes himself, but Deb has been able to join him occasionally.

Most of the time Deb holds the fort down at home and continues to work at the RMI office.  She’s kept busy in the Communications Department.   Besides new brochures, documents, promotional material and presentations, she’s been involved in RMI’s new website.  It should be ready by January!

This year we said a final goodbye to the last animal we brought with us from Haiti. Princess was 20+ years old and we miss her. She was a faithful companion who did her part in re-populating Haiti’s cat population. But the Shoemakers aren’t cat-less!  ...we have 3 US born cats that own us now.

And speaking of our move here to the US - this coming May we will have been here 10 years!!  It’s really hard to believe it’s been that long.  At times we feel like it was just last week, but at times it feels like we’ve been here our whole lives.  It’s kind of surreal...10 years!

This picture pretty much shows how our support has been this last year.  Since we’ve returned to the US, our support has steadily dwindled.  Contrary to what some have thought, we aren’t retired and we are still missionaries needing regular support.  We’ve seen God supply our needs and we are incredibly thankful for our faithful supporters for continuing on with their financial gifts to our ministry with RMI.  You all make it possible for us to continue to move forward in this ministry.  As the end of the year draws to an end, would you remember us with a special gift for our support?  Your donation will, of course, be tax deductible...and much appreciated!

We pray that this letter finds you and your family doing well and rejoicing in God’s love, grace and mercy.
With love, 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

For the First Time in 28 years

Our new prayer card has 2 issues with it.  It gave me pause but we decided to go ahead and get them printed this way.  Can you tell what the 2 things are?

1 - Devon is not on the card.
2 - Dawn is not on the card.

For the first time in 28 years there are no children on our prayer card.  It was a sad moment when I realized that I'd be creating it without them.  They are out on their own.  A sad, bittersweet moment.  Yet I'm glad that God has protected and guided them and they are starting the journey of their own independent lives.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Look at 2014

Since it's hard to capture every highlight of 2014, we're going to settle for a summary...

...we spent our 31st anniversary (in March) in Charleston, SC.  Despite the biting cold and wind, we enjoyed the horse & buggy tour, historic homes, the battery, and restaurants. Our favorite dish was shrimp and grits. Poogins Porch was a gem of a restaurant in a restored historic home, one of many such restaurants that we enjoyed.  It was nice not to have to eat at chain restaurants.

...a dream of Dan’s came true when he got his motorcycle license.  We had to laugh at him taking a 2 day course for it especially since he’d been riding since he was about 11 yrs. old!  When a friend upgraded his bike, he offered Dan a deal he couldn’t refuse for his old one.  It’s already “tricked out” so all he had to get was a jacket and helmut.  If you want to go on a ride, just give him a call.

...Devon and Kristen are living in the Boca Raton, FL area.  Devon is managing a full service salon for the new owner, his father-in-law.  He is getting quite a bit of valuable “on the job training” from an astute businessman.  Kristen is working with him in the salon.  They are both enjoying this new adventure.  Recently they were able to move to a town home, giving them more space for their lab, Chloe.  If you need quality salon services, look up Salon de Soleil in Boca Raton.

...Deb joined her sisters for their annual trip to the mountains in October. This year they prowled the little towns of Blowing Rock and Boone, NC. The fall leaves were gorgeous and it was cold but they had a good time together and made some great memories.  The plaque says (appropriately!) "What happens with the girls stays with the girls."  She was also able to spend several days with her mom in Greenville, SC.

...after several weeks we finished repurposing a piece of furniture into an aviary for our finches.  The aviary fits perfectly in the only spot we have for it (which isn't near any counters, tables or chairs.  The upper 2/3 is open for them to fly around. The bottom portion is plexiglas to keep the cats from climbing and getting to them while the top has bars. Having the drawers for storage is a nice plus.  We’ve already had 1 clutch of 2 babies hatch.  They are fun to watch and listen to their quiet chirps and songs. The aviary makes a great cat TV, too.  The 4 cats sit there and intently watch everything that the birds do.  Not bad for something gotten from Craig's List!

...2014 was Dawn’s year for significant change in her life. 

In May we celebrated her graduation from Trinity College of Florida.  She actually finished her course work in December then stayed in the area to continue working at Trinity as acting Director of Facilities & Maintenance and at the local YMCA.  She worked hard for this accomplishment and we are so proud of her!

...during those spring months she also awaited God’s direction as to her next steps.  In March she received a call asking her to be the graduate assistant volleyball coach at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL).  After praying about it and making a visit to the campus she accepted the position and made arrangments to pursue a masters in mental health counseling at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (the grad school associated with TIU located there on the same campus).  We found ourselves packing Dawn’s possessions once again, but this time we moved her from Tampa to Ft. Myers.  After getting everything into her car (a notable accomplishment), she and Debbie then made a marathon 2 day drive to Chicago.  Chattanooga was mid-way there and they had a short but fun overnight with Debbie’s niece and her husband and son.

After helping Dawn unpack and get settled, she flew home.  Dawn enjoyed her coaching and found the course work challenging.

...graduating college, moving from Florida (away from palm trees and warm sandy beaches) to the suburbs of Chicago (huge, endless city, the freezing cold and blowing snow), changing jobs, transitioning from playing volleyball to coaching, AND starting grad school have been significant changes for Dawn.  

The new year will bring yet another change as she takes a semester off from grad school and moves back to Tampa to work as well as see what the future holds for her and her boyfriend, Jeremy Richardson.  He is a physical therapist and an accomplished Ironman Triathlete but more than that he loves the Lord.  They bring out the best in each other and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.  We’ll let you know if their status stay tuned!

We appreciate those of you who support us so faithfully.  Your support is so vital to us in our ministry with RMI.  Please keep RMI and our family in your prayers.  Our support continues to dropped yet our needs have not.  Would you consider making a one-time gift to our support account?  You can donate online HERE.

We also appreciate your friendship over the years.  It’s such an encouragement to us.  Thank you for being a part of our family.