News From IM Missionaries
Brian & Lynette Smith
May 18, 2020
Dear Called To More Supporter,
We wanted to thank you so much for your faithful prayers and support of us during our journey to the field, our time in Haiti, and through Brian’s recovery. We are praying that all is well with you and your loved ones through this time of unknowns and pauses. While our flesh might quiver, we can have confident assurance in the One who knows all of today’s and tomorrow’s details.
We write to send you an update on our current situation, Brian’s health, and our looking ahead as far as we can know. Brian has returned to full health and while he has times of arthritic-like joint pain now and again, he is able to live life as he would consider normal. He was medically cleared the end of January and we were granted home assignment until the completion of the 2019-20 school year for Ricky and Calen to avoid another transition in education. As you probably know from our Facebook posts, Haiti has been in a time of uncertain political turmoil since August that reached a boiling point in November and while there was still concern of its future path, it seemed to be improving toward normal. Though with the recent worldwide pandemic crisis, Haiti has seen more valleys than mountain tops and no one really knows what will come next. Also, while we have been stateside for Brian’s recovery, the school Ricky and Calen were attending in Haiti, underwent some major changes. With you as not only our ministry network, but as our supporters and friends, it grieves us to share with you that we have been seeing the doors close for our time in Haiti. The disruption within the boys’ school with no other viable options for their education, housing challenges, and the frequency of instability of the country that limits our travel and interactions with those we felt called to serve has led us through a time of discernment of God’s plan for our first term of international ministry service. This has been no easy path to consider with the strength of the call to Haitians we both felt and were affirmed, as well as the possibility of placing miles between the strong relationships we built in the short time of living in Haiti. All that to say, we have arrived at a definite spirit lead vision and opportunity for our family to move forward.
We were asked to visit La Romana, Dominican Republic, for three and a half days of consideration. One of the primary goals for this trip was to explore and visit schooling options for Ricky and Calen. We were able to tour a certified international school for grades pre-k through 12. It is all English speaking and it is classified as a high ranking school within the DR. Ricky really could see himself attending there. Calen, while he had a favorable disposition with this place, was really excited about the idea of attending a bi-lingual school. We looked at a few other school options, most of which we believed would not be a good fit for our family. We finished our school tours with a bi-lingual option, which Calen was really excited about its potential. It functions all in Spanish, except for 7 hours per week of English within the student curriculum.
While in La Romana, we met with our colleagues Ketly and Vital Pierre who are working with church planting, as well as construction and implementation of a community center along side a Baptist alliance of churches in eastern DR. We also visited the El Bueno Samaritano Hospital in La Romana, which is a Haitian run hospital plant from Bon Samaritan L’hopital in Limbè, Haiti. We did visit several of Haitian batey areas, which are housing communities provided by the sugar cane companies for Haitian migrant workers and their families. These workers and families are brought to the DR to work as cane field laborers and are often exploited and left with very few opportunities. We were housed at the Mission Maranatha dorm “Casa de Pastor” during our stay. This is a huge housing area for visiting mission teams that can host 125 people at one time. The hospital hosts a large number of visiting teams on a consistent basis throughout the year that assist some at the hospital, but mostly reach out to the nearby bateyes through medical missions. There would be opportunity for us to connect with these efforts as well.
The community center is only three years old and assists low income Dominicans and Haitian migrant families with after-school programs, music classes, physical therapy, immigration status paperwork, and many other programs. It is an incredible ministry that is still in its infancy and is expanding and continuing to grow. They are hoping to have the 3rd floor completed by the end of 2020, but the timeline is unknown now that the country is closed because of COVID-19 and the work teams have been cancelled. Ketly and Vital are in need of assistance and would enjoy an opportunity to have us assist them with this ministry and gain experience through their discipleship programs, church planting, and pastoral development seminars.
There are so many Haitians living in and around La Romana that we were able to speak Creole and be understood many places we went. When we were in the batey areas, Haitians were shocked and amazed that we could speak Creole and were very open and accepting of us. They are used to seeing white people, who usually only speak English or Spanish. We could see with the experience and credibility of living in Haiti, that we have a unique position for God to utilize us with Haitians in places other than their home country.
Now that we have returned to the USA and have had time to pray and meditate on all that we witnessed in the few short days, we have submitted a request and have been approved by International Ministries to reassign our ministry work to partner with Mission Maranatha in La Romana, Dominican Republic. We will work directly with and learn from Ketly and Vital while forging our own relationships and offering our talents in the existing ministries. We have been encouraged in our decision to enroll both Ricky and Calen in the English speaking international school together in order to make this transition as easy as possible. We also have permission to travel to Haiti as much as we feel lead, to assist our IM partners in Haiti and connect with our relationships there. We don’t know that the door to Haiti is closed forever, but see that it is for the current season. We have and will continue to be in contact with our Haitian partners to encourage, pray for, and further develop our partnership for future opportunities to work together.
Presently we are unable to apply for missionary visas until Washington, DC reopens for business. We also cannot apply for Ricky and Calen to go to school until the Dominican Republic reopens. There is still so much we don’t know since this pandemic has shifted so many things, but we are comforted knowing that there is a next step and that God is using the experience that we have gained in Haiti. The call to love and serve our Haitian brothers and sisters has not changed, God just changed the location and our human plans. We will continue to work with Haitians and learn Spanish to assist the impoverished Dominicans.
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
(Proverbs 16:9, NIV)
Thank you so much for your prayers and for your support of us. We are excited to see what God is doing and blessed to have you along the journey. Please, pray that we continue to see things align and doors to open for visas, enrollment to the school, and moving our things from our house in Haiti to La Romana.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions, we are also willing to connect with you, your group, or your church during this time while we are unable to physically meet.
Prayers and Blessings,
Brian, Lynette, Ricky, & Calen
Facebook Page: Called To More
PS- Upcoming but limited special giving opportunity…International Ministries 2020 MATCH!
Starting June 1st, 2020 until funds are depleted, any NEW or INCREASED MONTHLY support for global servants will be matched for the year! (e.g. New $100 monthly recurring donation matched $1,200. Existing $100 monthly recurring donation increased to $150 matched at $600) Current Funds to be Matched: $239,000+
*Card transactions are preferred, online or through Donor Services.
Details and Giving at: InternationalMinistries.org or by calling Donor Services at: 610-768-2323