God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
I’m in Haiti! Wow, I can’t believe I made it! There are so many people that helped me get here. Thank you for your financial and spiritual support. I had a great day of travel April 6, My parents saw me off in Miami and when I arrived, I was greeted by the Thompson family (Rob Thompson is the RMI Field Director). I couldn’t believe I was there to live for the next four years. Beyond excited is the best way to describe my feelings of the following weeks after arriving.
My first couple of months in Haiti was really about me getting settled into my house, the language, the culture, and my job. Missionary life in Haiti is so very different then living in the States, in so many ways. From the way you buy meat, to the way you evangelize, the Haitian culture has a different way of doing things and living life. I have had a blast learning it all though, but one of the hardest things to get used to is the constant and consistent heat. I am very thankful for the funds donated to buy my fans. They make a huge difference. Life here definitely keeps me busy.
God is at work...
Ministry has gone amazing. God is doing big things in Haiti. I have been able to be a part of our many different ministries. One great example of what God is doing is a story that came from our door to door evangelism. One of our visiting teams visited a woman who was trusting in Voodoo to protect her and her soon to-be-born baby from death in childbirth. As our group started to share the Gospel, and shared how God protects, she took off her amulet, and trusted in Christ as her Savior. Praise the Lord! Not long after that we heard that she’d had the baby and I was able to go with the RMI staff to visit her. She said it was the smoothest labor she has had yet. She really felt the Lord’s protection and faithfulness through it all. I was able to pray with her, and take photos of her and her family. During another time of door to door evangelism we had 13 people accept Christ in a village called Beaumont.
Besides photography and videography, I’ve been given the responsibility of communicating with the C3 churches - answering their questions and helping plan their trips. My days usually include mornings in the office and afternoons in language study, and many other things. Some days I go out to churches to take update pictures and a video greeting from the pastor. Not too long ago I went out to one church to record the pastor receiving a gift of a motorcycle for his ministry. I’ve learned to drive a stick shift and how to drive here and now I’m an approved RMI driver!
I have enjoyed going out into the country with some of our teams. The week we spend at their Sister Church is fun, stretching, tiring - but always good. I’ve been able to be involved in the ministry that happens that week and have solid input into the nationals’ lives and the US team’s lives. God is working all around me as I work with RMI and the Haitian people. I love it so much. It can be hard, like any job, but God is blessing it. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.
On a Personal Note...
My container of personal belongings arrived the week after I did! I’m told that its transit time set a new record. The RMI staff worked tirelessly to unload it into one of RMI’s storage containers. It was all there and nothing broke. I’m so grateful for my many friends and family who helped pack everything and load it. It was a real team effort.
My housing situation that I shared in my last letter changed a couple of months after I arrived. I did stay in the single ladies house at first, but the mission center housing committee re-visited my initial request to be assigned the empty duplex across the road from the single ladies house. It was heavily damaged in Hurricane Matthew 18 months before. The larger 2/3 of the house was repaired first since a family lived there, but the smaller 1 bedroom unit on the other side sat empty. The committee graciously voted to let me have the apartment since I am to be here long term! The waiting game then started. There were many, many repairs to make to it but about 2 months later I was able to actually move in. The Lord gave me the desires of my heart - my very own place. Believe it or not, this was the very apartment that my dad lived in when he was a single missionary here, 1981-1983! God has a great sense of humor.
Part of the house includes a large covered back porch (not much of a yard, but that’s ok). I really enjoy having my devotions out there in the morning and also being able to sit outside in the evening. There are regular gatherings that I’m enjoying being a part of. Wednesday evenings there is an English Bible study on the mission center and every Tuesday afternoons there is ladies tea for the missionary ladies. We share the responsibility of hosting it and bringing goodies to share. I’ve already hosted it several times, which was really fun. The missionary body here is quite diverse in age, church background and kind of ministry they are involved in. There are a few gals my age and we’ve enjoyed going to the beach, out to eat and game or movie nights. I love being a part of the body here.
God provided an experienced house lady to work for me. Madame Mart is in her 50’s and has worked for missionaries for most of her life. In fact, she used to work for a German missionary while I was growing up here. I was in and out of her house as a kid, but never really knew the house lady. She remembered me though! She takes care of the household, cooks the main meal of the day (which is lunch), cleans the house, does laundry and sometimes does market buying. She has a sweet, calm disposition, is a strong Christian, smiles a lot and has a great sense of humor. We “clicked” right away and have a great relationship. This is a big answer to prayer because I really needed someone that I could entrust my household to! We’ve had fun exploring the recipes she knows (many of them are German, which I love) and I have taught her some of my recipes. She is a real gift from the Lord! Life here takes a lot longer to live - everything is made from scratch, meat is ordered straight from the butcher and has to be processed, electricity comes and goes and so much else. Having her help in the house enables me to focus on ministry.
To add to all the change and excitement in my life, I decided to add a member to my family! Her name is Ivory. She is a white German Shepherd and was 8 weeks old when I picked her up. So far her house training is going well. She’s still quite young and we’re both adjusting to each other. I’ve never been a dog mom before, so this is new territory for me. But I love her! She’ll be a good companion for me as well as a guard dog.
Prayers and Praise...
You can still contact me via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can keep up with me by checking out this website or find me on Facebook (look me up using “Dawn Shoemaker – Impacting Haiti”). I do send updates via email, too. If you haven’t done so, send me your email address so I can include you in those updates!
I have a new mailing address (donations still go to RMI). Please note that it has to appear exactly like this:
Dawn Shoemaker - CAY 30193
100 Airport Ave.
Venice, FL 34285
Agape Flights is a ministry that resources missionaries in the Caribbean. They fly in our mail as well as packages once a week. You can send me packages, but be aware that for anything over 1 lb., I have to pay $4 a pound. This is to defray Agape’s cost of flying it to me as well as for customs. They have a good explanation of how it works at www.agapeflights.com/missionary-partners/send-a-package. If you have a question about sending something, feel free to contact me first.
Thank you again for your faithful support. I couldn’t be here without it and I appreciate each of you so much!
Only by His Grace,
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!
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.
March 17 is my Tampa going away party. @Tampa Covenant Church, 5 p.m. Check my Facebook page or my website for updates.
March 31 is my Ft. Myers going away party: @my parents’ house, 6 p.m. Check my Facebook page or my website for updates.
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 I will 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.
You can still contact me via email, email@example.com or find me on Facebook (look me up using “Dawn Shoemaker – Impacting Haiti”). Until April 6, my phone is 239-848-2478. 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,
Monday night, February 26, there was pizza, sodas and desserts at my parents' house, PLUS 9 wonderful friends from my Bible study group and my Starbucks friends. They joined me for a packing party. I'm so grateful for their help - it was invaluable - and I'm humbled that they gave up their evening for me.
They got my bedroom furniture and a few other pieces packaged to be loaded on the container. This meant that they had to wrap each item in cardboard, bubble wrap, packing blankets and large plastic wrap. It has to be protected so well because everything will be loaded and unloaded several times and traveling in a sea container over the ocean to get to Haiti then trucked out to where I'll be living. It was a lot of work. They also worked at drilling holes in the sides of the lids of my finished bins and zip tying them shut. Then each and every item (furniture, bin, box - everything) had to be labeled and numbered. I have to provide a list or manifest for customs in Haiti, thus the labeling and numbering. The list will also help me know the basics of what is in each bin/box as I unpack. Moving overseas is not for the faint of heart!
Everyone worked hard, but we also had fun. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
The 40' container (the size of a semi-truck) will be dropped at the RMI office this coming Monday, March 5 and the loading will take place on Tuesday, March 6. Wednesday, the next day, it will be officially sealed and picked up. I've been working hard wrapping and packaging things, packing bins and boxes and doing my final purchasing. It's hard to know how to plan for the next 4 years - what will I need, etc. I have to pack everything except what I'll have in my suitcases and carry-on luggage. Those suitcases is what I'll live out of for the next month.
My household items won't fill up the containter of course, so RMI missionaries, several churches and RMI in general will be using the opportunity to get some things to Haiti that can't be sent down through the mail. They're putting supplies, tires, motorcycles and quite a bit of other things in there, too.
It's shaping up to be a stressful 2 weeks. I'm getting anxious about forgetting something - my mind is all over the place!
After the container goes I'll be a bit more free for meals and/or coffee with folks before I get on the plane April 6. I'll be in Tampa several times. There's going to be a lot of goodbyes. Not going to be shy about saying that it'll be hard. But at the same time it'll be good too - I'm going to be a missionary in Haiti! My dream and calling is coming true. Pray for me during this time!!
It is commonly thought you start your ministry when you get to the country you are going to, but really your ministry starts the moment you start fundraising. I’ve found this especially true for me. These past few months have been full of ministry, memories made, friends and family, and travel. I have loved every minute of it.
Fundraising events: I have had several fundraising events in Tampa. The first one was the largest one and it went very well. My dad and a Haitian pastor’s wife made a delicious Haitian dinner as myself and other volunteers set up tables at a gorgeous outdoor event center. About 50 people attended, and God blessed the event spiritually and financially. It was such an encouragement to me! The next Tampa fundraiser was thanks to my best friend, Kate. Before I leave for Haiti, I have to furnish and outfit my home. As a single who moved quite a bit since college, I found I actually had very little of what I needed. Kate saw this and hosted a beautiful Missionary Housewarming Shower for me. It was a fun time and I was humbled as people opened their hearts and helped me begin to outfit my home, especially my kitchen! Thank you to everyone that have come to support me through these fundraisers and many other ways. I appreciate all you have done for me.
I’ve hosted a few small fundraisers in Fort Myers as well. God used these to bring in a number of new ministry partners. When a dear friend, Asia, heard about the Tampa shower, she felt lead to host a similar housewarming shower here in Ft. Myers. God blew me away - it was an amazing time. So many of my new community and ministry family showed up and blessed me beyond measure. I receive so much support and encouragement from my Bible study. I can’t express how much it has meant to me. I love you guys to the moon and back.
About those T-shirts: A unique way to share in my ministry is the T-shirts that were custom designed for me. It’s a special way to raise awareness for Haiti, raise funds for my ministry and challenge people. The back says “You can be comfortable or courageous but not both.” I’m choosing “courageous”, how about you?! If you are interested in a shirt, let me know (include your size). Each shirt is $20, or $25 if I have to mail it to you.
Travel: What an awesome, fun, and loving trip I had to Washington state in August. I was able to visit Harper Evangelical Free Church (near Seattle) and Packwood Community Church (near Mt. Rainier). Blown away is a good description of how I felt while being there. Such beautiful people of all ages and backgrounds. A huge thank you to Dave and Kim Ness for hosting me as I visited the Seattle area. A great couple with beautiful hearts. They hosted an open house for me at their home and also at a restaurant. During those times I was able to meet the pastor of Harper and many past team members who have been to Haiti with RMI. I enjoyed talking with them about Haiti and their experiences. A huge thank you to RMI missionary alumni, Gary and Marilyn McLaughlin, for coming to pick me up and hosting me for the rest of my time at their home in Packwood. They also hosted a couple of open houses at their home. I was able to share my ministry with some of their church community and neighbors. My time in Washington was a blessing and I loved every moment. It’s a gorgeous state with heart, passion, and love. I can’t forget to thank the Rose sisters for reaching out to me, and blessing me with their quality time.
One significant trip I made was to Haiti in April. I accompanied a videographer and photographer as they took footage for RMI. I was able to rent and use the very camera that I will be using in my ministry in Haiti. It was valuable on-the-job training and made me even more “thirsty” to get there and get involved in what God has for me.
Speaking Engagements: I have been able to share in my Tampa area home churches, Cross Life Church and Tampa Covenant Church as well as many individuals in the Tampa Bay area. I’ve also had the opportunity to share at various Life Groups and Bible study groups at my Ft. Myers home churches, McGregor Baptist Church and Summit Church. I’m excited about being able to share my ministry with churches in Jacksonville and Bradenton in the coming months. I love all my ministry family so much.
Financial Update: This news is especially exciting!! God is so good! He is the one who is guiding me in this journey to Haiti. He is providing the funds through His people so I hopefully can go in MARCH 2018 – just a few months away! This is contingent on having 100% of my finances.
I have 97% of my monthly support needs raised. Would you be one of the final donors that I need?
My one-time costs need is now at 90% raised. This means that I need $3,000 to reach that 100% goal. Would you be able to help with that need?
I’m so close. If you have felt led to give monthly, please start as soon as possible. My organization can only count written or received financial commitments. I know we can do this. Enclosed is a support card for your convenience. Please consider what you can do. You can send in support via a letter or go online to www.RMIBridge.org/financial-donations.
I need your help - pray that God would provide opportunities to share about my ministry and support need. If you know of a church, Bible study or other group that would be interested in my ministry, please contact me.
Haiti is always on my mind and in my heart. Being a part of the team in Haiti is something that I think of often. I am beyond blessed to have this calling, and be a part of God’s plan to impact the Haitian and American community. I want to challenge my friends and family to find the community God has called them to. It might be your work place, or the places you play, maybe your neighborhood, or your carpool. Always be bold and know that it’s worse to not follow God’s leading than to be disliked by your coworkers.
In the meantime, please pray for me…
You can contact me directly by phone at 239-848-2478, or my email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Only by His Grace,
Ok, I have to admit that growing up in Haiti has left me a bit geographically challenged. I now live in Ft. Myers, FL. I have no problem with Florida, the southern states of the US and even Chicago. But when I was invited to spend a week in the Seattle area I confess I had to figure out where it was. I found out that it was the farthest point, clear across the US, from Florida and I was shocked that it'd take me more than 8 hours just to fly there!
However, despite my initial challenges and surprises, I'm ready for a great adventure and a lot of fun! Harper Evangelical Free Church (of Port Orchard) has been a part of RMI's C3 Partnership Program for many years. They've supported my parents for a good bit of that time. And they wanted me to come present my ministry and get to know me (many of them met me as a little kid in Haiti but that was years ago). They're familiar with Dawn 1.0 (me as a kid) and now I get to introduce them to Dawn 2.0 (me as an adult).
I'll also be meeting with leaders from Trinity Presbyterian Church (Seattle area). They contacted RMI a couple of weeks ago to express their interest in becoming an associate C3 Partner church and were excited to be able to talk with me about RMI and my ministry. The timing worked out great since I was already going to be in the area. God's timing is always perfect.
Another really cool part of my visit is going to be spending time with former RMI missionaries, Gary and Marilyn McLaughlin, who live in Packwood - I'm told it is on the back side of Mt. Rainier, up in the mountains. They were good friends when we were both in Haiti a few years ago. I haven't seen them since 2006 when we returned to the states to live. They are going to host 2 open houses for me to get to know folks from 2 churches that they've been involved with (both have been to Haiti with RMI in the past).
I'm looking forward to seeing mountains and forests...quite a change from the palm trees and sand that I'm used to. But most of all, I'm looking forward to sharing with as many people as possible about my passion to serve in Haiti and about my ministry. Pray with me that as I speak, God would lay it on people's hearts to be involved as supporters. I want to get to Haiti so badly, but I can't without those funding needs met!
P.S. I have to give a shout out to CrossLife Church in Tampa, one of my home churches when I was living there as a Bible college student. Last weekend the pastor graciously gave me the whole service to share in! It was an amazing opportunity to have so much time to share. You all know me...I can talk and share for an hour - it's getting it all squished into those 10 minute slots that I'm sometimes given. Don't get me wrong. Any opportunity to share is a gift! Being given a 5-10 time frame is just more challenging because I have so much I want to say! Thanks so much CrossLife!
Yes, I'm actually in Haiti...but it is for this week only. I am shadowing a videography/photography team from Hank Pro Studios and getting some fantastic on-the-job training. I was able to rent and use the exact equipment that I'm hoping to buy before I go permanently and it's been invaluable to learn the nuances of it and be able to assess it.
This week has had it's ups and downs. We've been working at getting good shots and footage of RMI's many ministries, doing interviews with staff members and getting shots of life in Haiti. Unfortunately it has been raining much of the time. In fact, 35+" has fallen since last Wedneday. In Cayes, the town where I'm staying, there is massive flooding. [Where I'm staying, on the mission center, is on 2 hilltops, so I'm in no danger from the floods.] All along the southern coast I'm hearing reports of bridges out, a lot of flooding, many crops lost (which would have been the first harvest since the hurricane) but only 2 reported deaths. The humidity and wet conditions have played havoc with our equipment and resulted in some lost footage, which of course is discouraging. But this is Haiti and we have to be flexible with both our expectations and our schedules.
Yesterday we were able to go up in the mountains to a well-known waterfall to get footage to show the beauty of Haiti. Then we stopped at a Sister Church to do some interviews. The last time I visited that church was the summer of 2010 when I was an RMI intern. There's so many reasons why this is such a key trip...the learning and gaining experience but also reconnecting with old friends, some of which only knew me as a kids when I was growing up here and some I haven't seen since I was here in 2010.
There is an RMI team in-country right now and we are going to try to get past the mudslide on the main road and make it all the way to the outback where the team is in the village with their partner church. We hear that it is not raining in that area of the country. That's not to say that it's going to be on some rough roads, though, because it's in a very remote area. Hopefully we'll be able to film and men's meeting and a women's meeting, among other things.
Keep praying for me. It's been an intense time and there are still several more days to go. Pray for the rain to stop and that the rest of the time here will go smoothly so we can put together some great videos for RMI. In the meantime, here are a couple of shots of me working.