Posted in Mission Stories



On Thursday, we boarded the plane from Lexington to Miami with my parents! On Friday, we flew from Miami to PAP. Then on Saturday, we finally flew home to the Mole! ✈️

It took us 3 days to travel here – and another 3 days for me to recover. Jose & Asher took VERY good care of me and my parents. Even still – the chaotic airports, hard hotel beds, and the bumpy ride from the airstrip to our house…resulted in a VERY painful & sore shoulder.

My Haitian kids are still waiting (over 18 months already) for an appointment at the Embassy so they can renew their visas. They haven’t seen my parents since January 2022, when they joined us for Christmas. It was a very short but sweet family reunion on the airstrip!💕🏝️

I’m SO thankful for your prayers, our safe travels, for the hilarious stories we experienced with my parents, and for finally getting back into my normal routine!!

Posted in Mission Stories

NO Hokey Pokey in 2023 For Me…

You put your left arm in. You put your left arm out. You put your left arm in- and – you shake it all about! You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around! That’s what it’s all about!

Wait. WHAT?!? I can’t put my left arm in or out!  No Hokey Pokey for me this year!

As some of you may remember – I fell in October while walking up exactly 2 steps. I put an emphasis on “exactly 2” because that’s basically the minimum amount required in order to quantify as steps.

Our twin toddlers can walk up these 2 steps unassisted! But me – not a chance! I have fallen both up AND down them! Each time, I have required surgery to repair something from those falls! Last time it was my right hand.

ANYWAYS- My left shoulder hasn’t gotten any better these past 3 months. I still can’t lift my left arm up or out. 

Malaya was scheduled to leave Haiti this past Thursday. She convinced me that I needed to leave with her and see my orthopedic surgeon. She’s so bossy… I think she gets it from Jose! 😉😂


Today – I found out that I completely detached the tendon that is connected to my rotator cuff.

In medical terms the report says “Complete tear with refraction of the supraspinatus tendon. It’s a full thickness tear”.

My surgeon said, “Imagine a yo-yo that bounces back-up and the string completely wraps around the coil. You detached that tendon so forcefully that (like the yo-yo string) your tendon completely snapped and then recoiled itself around the shoulder socket. It’s wrapped so tightly it’s barely even visible in the MRI.”

I had right shoulder surgery a few years ago. At that time – I had a small rotator cuff tear with minimal damage.

But what I have now is the “worst case scenario”. He said he sees it all the time – so there’s no worries. BUT as far as shoulder injuries go – I’ve done as much damage as anyone could possibly do.

To which I responded… “Well of course I did! I don’t like to do anything half-way”!

Surgery is on Tuesday. They will send me home on a IV pain pump.

He said he knows I want to go back to Haiti 10 days after surgery- which he WILL allow me to do. BUT he thinks I’ll change my mind because I will still be in significant pain.

To which I responded, “Thanks for ALL the positive encouragement!”

Recovery is 3 months in a sling followed by  3 months of physical therapy (which I can do on my own in Haiti).  I also can’t lift more than 2 pounds for a total of 6 months.

So 2023 is already off to a bang for the Castillo Clan! #neveradullmoment

Posted in Mission Stories

It’s Beginning to Feel More Like Christmas…




Our campus generator has been out of commission since Thanksgiving night. My parents lent us their portable generator & we were able to pick it up from Port-de-Paix last week. It’s just big enough to keep our fridges on and charge our electronics. We can also roll it over to the church – so that we can move forward with some of our planned activities (on a much smaller scale).

So although we aren’t able to do 10 Nights of Christmas Movies on the basketball court, we have done 2 Friday night movies in the church. It’s a much smaller crowd with only 300-400 kids. We give each child a bag of popcorn along with a raffle ticket when they arrive.

At the end of each movie, we call 20-25 numbers. If their number is called, they come up front and are handed a bag of rice to take home. We’ve given roughly 50 bags of rice away over the past two Fridays. We have found that the most organized & least chaotic way to give things away is though ticket-drawings. Everyone seems to respect the winners and there’s never been any drama.


From Thursday:

This little spitfire is on her way home for the holidays! I cannot even BEGIN to express how happy I am! 🎉🎄🎅

Fabi keeps asking me how many more sleeps until Malaya comes? The babies have no clue she’s coming but they point to the phone all the time and say her name.

She starts flying tonight. She’s had a VERY rocky start already – between delayed flights and schedule changes.

Please pray it’s smooth sailing now that she’s checked in and starting her very first solo adventure into Haiti! ✈️ 🇭🇹

I also have to brag that my little “home-schooler” had 8 midterm exams this week – AND her lowest score was a 90%… including AP classes! I know she was worried about how hard it would be to transition to a public school her senior year – but she’s doing AWESOME! My senior girl has a 4.0 GPA!! 🎉

(We don’t know what it is that Malaya wanted Jose to give her – but she’s just as determined & stubborn now as she was when she was 3! HAHA)


From Last Week:

I’ve spent this past week in bed with a high fever and bronchitis. It’s been spreading through the campus like wild fire – and taken down a lot of our staff. It’s definitely not how I wanted to spend my birthday week – or any other week for that matter.

Today, I finally feel well enough to go online. As I read through all the messages & texts – I am reminded of the many kind people I have in my life. Thank you so much for the many birthday wishes!

Posted in Mission Stories

A Simple Family Thanksgiving…


Verse I
As the world looks upon me, as I struggle along
They say I have nothing, but they are so wrong
In my heart I’m rejoicing, how I wish they could see
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me

There’s a roof up above me
I’ve a good place to sleep
There’s food on my table
And shoes on my feet
You gave me your love Lord
And a fine family
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me

Verse II
Now I know I’m not wealthy, and these clothes , they’re not new
I don’t have much money, but Lord I have you
And to me that’s all that matters, though the world cannot see
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me


I can still see my parents over by the piano. My mom is playing while dad sings the verses. They always sang the chorus together. This song will FOREVER be in my heart and a memory I will always cherish. I know MANY of you have heard them sing it at churches or even during devotions in Haiti.

We are living in tumultuous times. The news and realities of this world can bring a lot of anxiety. Yesterday this song played over and over in my mind. In a world full of uncertainty – the one constant I can cling to – is the love and favor my Father in Heaven has for me.  Thank you Lord…for your blessings on me.


This was our first Thanksgiving without all of our kids together. Malaya is with my parents in the states. We invited Fabi’s brother to join us, because I hate an empty seat at the table.

We were able to chat with Malaya throughout the evening. The kids noticed there were no place cards, fancy cups, typical table decor, or the various desserts we usually serve. I explained, that all those little details that make our holidays extra special…..are because Malaya does them. I don’t think they realized all the ways their sister contributed to our holiday traditions.

We had planned to decorate the Christmas tree after dinner – which is why everyone is wearing Christmas colors. After dinner, we watched a Christmas Movie together  – while Jose & I began to unwrap the ornaments and string the lights..  But in typical Castillo Fashion – as soon as Jose grabbed the chair to hang the garland – the generator overheated and we lost power for the rest of the night.  #neveradullmoment

I’ll be posting another blog soon about the various Thanksgiving Activities we did this week on campus. Tomorrow we have a special Thanksgiving Meal planned with 250 children from the community! So much to be thankful for!


Posted in Mission Stories

Two Babies – Two Years Together!

It was November 17th, 2020 – when God blessed our family with two sweet baby girls! They were two months old at the time and severely malnourished. Amia had never opened her eyes before that day.

We weren’t sure what medical interventions would be needed or how much work would be required – but we didn’t really care! It was love at first sight! It took a village to help them reach important developmental milestones – and they did eventually reach them!

So this week, after 2 years together, we held an elaborate tea party to celebrate their lives! We invited 6 little girls to attend. We divided-up the classroom into half, using curtains to block-off all the school furniture.

The focus of the party was a pink tent – fully equipped with tea cups, plates, fake food, and real food! We also had a table full of finger-foods. We wanted to make it as simple as possible for the kids to play and snack during the entire party.

When the children arrived, we immediately had them pick out their shoes, skirt, earrings, a crown, gloves, & baby doll to feed! There was also a play-doh station where they could make mini food & desserts as well. We used edible playdoh – which means the kids could eat it while they played!

Before the party ended, we sang to the girls! We kept trying to get them to take a BIG BITE out of the cake. (I actually took one – trying to show them what to do). BUT instead, these girls were dainty and just grabbed a little spoon and started scrapping off the icing with it.

Below are some pictures from our fun day together!


Dress-Up & Photos


Eating & Cake

Posted in Mission Stories

October Update…

Below are posts from Facebook this month…

12-hour Movie Marathon

– October 22nd

Tonight is our 12-Hour Movie Marathon! That’s right…we’ve completely lost our minds!

For the past 2 months, all of the kids on campus (including our staff’s children) have been earning points for cleaning, good behavior, and random acts of kindness. Tonight, those with the most points were rewarded!

SO…we have 48 children in the classroom ready for food, films, and fun! We have several games to play in between films as well.

Sadly, this is the first party where the snacks aren’t up to par. We cannot find popcorn, chips, cookies, candy, chiccos, or soda in town.


Momma gigi made her version of donuts – which are honestly better than ANYTHING you could buy downtown! Gabriel made oatmeal cookies as well. AND we also have those good ole peanut butter sandwiches on standby!

We started the party at 7pm and it will end at 7am. Even if the children fall asleep, they will stay until the morning.

Sigora only offers power from 8pm-10pm. BUT nearly all of our party decorations are battery powered! We have several ryobi fans that should last 6 hours – to help with the heat. We also have a back-up “battery box” that should be able to hold the projector & phone for the whole night.

Though we don’t have our typical snacks for the party….we did manage to find the cutest UK cheerleaders to help us keep this party going! 🙂



Laughing Even When It Hurts

– October 21st

I spend the mornings teaching my kids in school. Our staff love that I’m in the classroom because I’m easy to find on any given day.

Pierre, Momma Gigi, Mme Nene, Elirose, Bena and various other staff often get into random & “somewhat deep” conversations at my desk – while the kids are doing their school work.

Things are looking bleak in the Mole, as we cannot find rice locally now. We always use a lot of analogies when we speak about life. It’s just an easy way for our cultures to connect.

I started talking about how SOMETIMES it can feel like God has left me on “read”. I know He hears my prayers – but it feels like I’m continually waiting for HIM to respond. I just keep seeing the “bubbles” – (where it looks like He’s writing) – but then nothing comes through.

Momma Gigi & some of the other staff have had some of those same feelings. They said it’s like sending someone mail & never knowing if the person received it. It’s just difficult right now to see & know if God is really “moving”.


SO – – – LEVI is sitting quietly at his desk. In fact, we totally forgot he was here.

Out of nowhere he pipes in (while still looking down at his textbook), “Well maybe God’s not getting your messages because He forgot to leave His forwarding address!”

We laughed so hard at how nonchalantly he joined our conversation with the most random comment. He is definitely one of a kind! (Just a few years ago, this kid thought MLK day was MILK day and wondered if people could choose any flavor of milk or it had to be “regular”).

It was nice to leave our heavy conversation with some much needed laughter….

At the end of the day…I have no doubt that God is on the move – EVEN if it feels like our prayers are getting lost in the mail.

And if you ever have those same feelings…. just keep holding on! There’s no such thing as “return to sender” when you’re communicating with our God Almighty!


I’ve fallen and I can’t get up

– October 13th 

I know for some of you, this post is gonna seem like shocking news…so out of my norm. (Note sarcasm)

This past Saturday, while carrying an armful of books up “exactly 2 steps” – my sandal got caught and I fell full-force on my left shoulder. Since my hands were full, I couldn’t brace myself.

No, this is not the shoulder I had surgery on before. BUT according to my orthopedic surgeon – it will likely be the shoulder I have surgery on next week.

I have it in a sling and I’m using an ice machine (from my last shoulder surgery) to help with the swelling. Because of my esophagus issues – I’m not allowed to take steroids/IB-prophin normally. However, I was given permission to take those for a few days.

I’m unable to move my left arm in ANY direction without excruciating pain. My doctor said if it doesn’t loosen up in the next few days- I’ll have to fly out to avoid having a“frozen shoulder”. He also said he’d put me on the surgery schedule right away to avoid extra time away. #NEVERADULLMOMENT

In the midst of all the political uncertainty and drama – there are still SO MANY great things happening with our ministry. Our campus school started back this week. We are flying up another plane of food!

Children’s Church is so much fun and everyone LOVES the new format. Momma Gigi, Mme Nene, Abbey, & Pierre are all participating with the “therapy” side of the group discussions. ALSO – I’m finally in a groove as I teach school every morning with my kids. ***This is NOT the time to fly out.

We continue to dig-up curses buried all around our home. Everyone thinks all of my medical drama is a result of those curses working against me. In Haiti, there’s no such thing as me simply having “bad luck”. Instead, they’re giving all the credit to those who wish to prove satan is more powerful than the God we serve.

SO…I appreciate your prayers for healing right now! Between my left shoulder and my right hand – I’m quite the mess aren’t I!?! I keep it interesting that’s for sure!



– October 1st 

Jose and I were up until 2am decorating the cafeteria for tonight’s big Children’s Church Kickoff.  THIS IS WHEN I REALLY MISS MALAYA!

Momma Gigi and Pierre both came over and asked if they could help, knowing that Malaya is usually with me. I said, “Sure. Take this suitcase and decide how to decorate the tables”.

We all laughed because they had no clue what to do – me either! Lol! They did help move tables and such… but Malaya is the master at taking my ideas and making it look right!

This series is all about emotions and a COMPLETELY different format than anything we’ve ever done.

The 2.5-hour weekly service will be all about naming, expressing, processing, and sharing our feelings. It’s 13 weeks long.

Joan (my therapist) and I have worked tirelessly together as we “made-up” this curriculum all on our own.

The kids will be divided into 7 teams. Each table will have a leader who can read and write so that everything that’s shared is documented. The kids will be building a bracelet throughout the series as each week they add a different bead (facial expression) to their string.

They will each have an individual compact mirror to learn how to make the facial expression.

We have a Mr Potato Head that has velcro on the facial pieces – so the kids can change up the expressions.

They will each have a dry-erase “blank face” – so they can draw that feeling too.

Each table will have a sand tray full of toys that they can use to express “their” world as it relates to the lesson.

My children are each assigned a table as well to help the leader. The idea is that anything revealed about a child’s “home life” can then be followed up by me privately in my therapy room.

There’s still SO MUCH left to do… but at least the lighting and stage area is ready for tonight’s Emoji Movie.

(Here are some pictures from the kick-off. I will post a full blog soon with updated pictures & more information about how great everything is going!)


Posted in Mission Stories



I really appreciate all of the emails, texts, and messages – SO MANY people wanting to make sure we made it home safely. I had started a post shortly after we arrived, but I now realize that the update never loaded.

We DID have a smooth day of travel from PAP to the Mole. All of the kids met us at the airstrip!

For the past 11 years or so, we’ve only had a fence around the front & sides of the property. The back of our compound had a “literal” hedge of protection, which consisted of brush & cactus. During our recent battles with a particular voodoo group – they burned all of the brush behind our property – leaving our back area COMPLETELY exposed.

Thankfully, a “surprise” donation was made last year – making it possible for us to continue the concrete block/chain-link fence all along the back. So, for the first time since moving here, our campus is now fully enclosed. Talk about God’s timing! As the politics in Haiti have gone to the extreme – that back fence has provided a sense of security.

Though our village doesn’t really participate in the riots – there has been an increase in activity all along the back of our property. We’ve added extra security at night – providing coffee, more tactical equipment, another gun, & walk-talkies.

It’s SO SURREAL to have a meeting with the guards about how “intruders” will be handled should they want access to my home. If you’ve seen my previous post about “Teaching my Teenager, Malaya, Self-Defense” – you can imagine all the gadgets I have stashed all over the place! Though no worries, my gun is secured in a lockbox.

The biggest issue our village is facing is the lack of supplies. Diesel/Gas are an issue no matter where you live in the country. We only have power a few hours a day. Because our internet signal is tied to the town’s power – that means most of the day we cannot communicate with the states or anybody else in town for that matter.

Since the roads are blocked in the main cities… there are no trucks of rice, beans, or food making their way here. Whatever trucks are able to sneak through the barriers are bare by the time they make it to us. We’re the last stop on anybody’s route….so it’s slim pickings.

We were blessed this past weekend – as we were able to have our staff buy some food in PAP. MAF will be bringing it up this week when they pick-up other travelers. This is basically the only way we are able to find what we need…. buying in PAP and flying it here.

Please continue to keep our family, our community, and all of Haiti in your prayers. Though there are days I feel so helpless… I am not hopeless. My faith in Christ & His Sovereignty over our situation has not waivered. He is a God of miracles…and I’m just anxiously awaiting to see what HE does next.

Much Love – The Castillo Clan   



We FINALLY made it to Haiti after a VERY eventful journey. SERIOUSLY

It started off like a normal trip. We decided not to sleep Monday night, since we were leaving at 2:30am to drive from Versailles to the Louisville Airport.

We checked 10 bags and 3 carryons with no issues. We had a direct flight from Louisville to Miami. It was actually a great flight. The flight attendant talked to us for 30 minutes. As we stepped off the plane, he gave us a bag full of snacks & 8 cartons of milk!

We arrived in Miami at 9am. We made it to the gate just in time for them to tell us that the flight was cancelled due to civil unrest. It was their only flight of the day.

At first, they said there’s only 3 seats for the next day & we’d need to claim our bags. Ugh!

Thankfully, there was another amazing agent whose supervisor secured us 2 more seats & agreed to keep our luggage!

Of course, we “checked” the carryon that had our clothes in it. So we spent 2 days wearing the same outfits.



About 25 minutes before landing, the flight attendants asked if there were any doctors or medical personnel onboard. There weren’t. So I went forward on the plane. An elderly man traveling with his daughter was slumped over in his seat.

We laid him in the aisle, and the flight attendant handed me their emergency kit & AED machine. A very STRONG man volunteered to do chest compressions while I hooked up the AED machine.

I kept checking his vital signs in-between compressions. I saw that his pupils were fixed and sadly there were “no vitals” to actually report. The man who was doing compressions was determined to keep going until we got to the gate. So we worked on him together, though there were no shocks administered from the AED machine (since there was no pulse to shock).

The flight attendants were completely overwhelmed. Though they “knew” the procedures – they had never had someone die on their flight before. They just kept looking to me for all the decisions to be made.

We were still standing in the aisle when the plane landed. Another passenger was friends with the ambulance company – and she called them while we were at the gate.

She passed me the phone so I could explain what happened. I also filled out all the necessary reports once we arrived.


When we pulled into the gate, everyone remained seated so that the airport’s “paramedics” (CAN) could immediately board. Except they had NO CLUE what to do either.

The two YOUNG “paramedics” stood at the doorway for at least 5 minutes – waiting for a supervisor’s call to authorize them to board. Had I not already pronounced him, he would have likely died just waiting for help.

Even when they boarded the plane, they just anxiously looked at me – waiting for guidance. I had to walk them through doing vitals again and told them to go get a stretcher.

It was at least 20 minutes from the time we pulled into the gate and when the stretcher arrived.

The man doing compressions and myself were the ones who actually CARRIED him off the plane. I kept asking for the paramedics to help – as I have a bad shoulder/hand. But everyone just stood there frozen.

Most of the people around us were older and frail. Jose & the kids were in the back of the plane; we were just 2 rows from first class.

There was NO WAY to get the stretcher around the corner of the gallery with the man laying flat. I had backed up all the way into the cockpit and we still couldn’t make the turn.

The strong man ended up holding the stretcher upright – as though the man was gonna stand – so that we could get him around the corner. The jet bridge was FULL of employees just standing.

Thankfully, one of the men took my end of the stretcher and they carried him down the flight of steps to the ambulance.

During the flight, I consoled his daughter – who looked to be my age. Though her father was an older gentleman, she had no reservations about his health. This was a COMPLETE shock to her. She said that he had a snack on the plane and was talking to her like normal. He wasn’t on any medications but he did just recover from pneumonia a week earlier.

She thought he was taking a nap when he first leaned forward. When she tried to shake him, he wouldn’t wake up. That’s when she got the stewardess.


I have NO doubt that we were meant to miss our scheduled flight, so that I could be there for this unexpected crisis. The flight attendants hugged me and thanked me – as did the pilots. All of us were in tears. They told me that they REALLY appreciated how calm & collected I was through the whole process.

While we were in baggage claim, numerous people came up and hugged me. They said they were praying for me the whole time – AND also praying that God would bless our family & guide us safely home.

I’m still processing this day and how quickly someone’s world can change forever. My heart went out to the daughter, as I imagined what it would be like to board the plane with my dad – joking around – only for him to die sitting next to me. It was just so terribly sad.

We appreciate your prayers for our safe return. Please keep them coming as we continue our travels home tomorrow. Due to the unrest, the MAF pilots were unable to fly yesterday, as the roadblocks kept them from driving to work. They flew today. However – they are actually with us at the hotel because it wasn’t safe enough to drive back home.

Lord. Have. Mercy.


We will be heading back home in the near future. (For safety reasons, we can’t give specifics.)

There’s A LOT to do and we’re genuinely excited to re-establish our routines! Our suitcases are full of supplies for our new Children’s Church theme, as well as tons of play-therapy supplies for the campus kids.

However-this will be the first time in 17 years – where I’ll be in Haiti and Malaya won’t. She’s been there without me – but I’ve never been there without her.

The crates are all packed, but the docks in PDP are currently closed due to politics. Once things settle down, we have arranged for them to be picked up in KY and driven to Miami.

Anytime we travel, there’s usually drama with luggage, flights, weather, etc.

Please pray for a SAFE, SMOOTH, & UNEVENTFUL journey back home. Haiti has many planned demonstrations and manifestations happening this month. School openings have already been postponed until November.

We are well aware of the escalating battlefield we’ve been called to serve at – both spiritually and politically. Thankfully we serve in the Lord’s army and we know how the war ultimately ends.

Posted in Mission Stories

Fall Family Update – August 2022

It’s been a fast moving & travel-filled  month for our family.  Here’s a peek from our latest and greatest adventures!

I finally found now a “new” hand surgeon… (apparently my previous surgeon left the practice). I’m trying not to take it personal! 😳 😂
My initial injury (from last year) required 2 separate surgeries on the palm of my hand. I had the first one earlier this year.
My second surgery was scheduled for this summer and involves removing a tiny bone at the base of my thumb. My hand would need to be casted with my thumb completely enclosed in that cast.
HOWEVER- A few weeks ago I managed to rip tissues & nerves on the upper-side of my thumb. (I was gripping a brush at the time). ***In order for this area to heal – I need to wear a brace that splints my thumb outward! 🤚
In typical “Castillo Fashion”- my procedures are complicated and cannot be performed at the same time – even though they are less than an inch apart.
So I’ll be wearing this brace for the next 3-6 weeks. Once they know for sure it’s fully healed – I’ll have the surgery on the palm of my hand which will require 3 months of casting & several more months of therapy.




We drove to Liberty, MO for a short 4-day trip. We needed to meet with the school officials & submit paperwork for Marla to be Malaya’s temporary power of attorney. It was a quick trip – but LOTS of fun! The kids got to hang out with old friends they hadn’t seen in years.  Even Jose & I got to meet up with dear friends for a hilarious evening of fellowship!


We are excited to announce that Malaya finally got her wish! She will NOT be driving the big family bus to school! Instead, she now has a 2008 Hyundai Santa-Fe! I personally think it’s a missed opportunity for fun & fellowship by NOT driving our big white van! 🙂

As many of you know, my best friend, (Diane) traveled to Haiti multiple times a year for her wedding ministry. Her sister Kathy often traveled with her. When Diane passed, Kathy & I began to develop an even closer friendship.  She even came to Ohio to help me organize my sister’s Celebration of Life Service.

Her son had a vehicle from when he was in school, and she no longer had any use for it. SO…she donated it to Malaya!

Jose flew down to Louisiana a few days after we returned from Missouri, to pick up her car! He then drove the 12 hours back to Kentucky! Though the vehicle is older, it’s in EXCELLENT condition.  We have no concerns with her traveling from Missouri to Kentucky for visiting.


After Jose came back from LA – we headed to Michigan to spend the week with Tom & Sharon Snivley!

We were able to meet new friends & reconnect with old ones at their special cookout! Abbey was also able to spend a few days with us before she flew back into Haiti! Malaya was SO happy to have that special time together, knowing she won’t see her for several months.

On Sunday – we spoke at my brother’s church in Garrett, IN! The congregation fully embraced our family & also shared funny stories about my dad from when he went to high school there. As always – It was SO nice to connect up with Bud’s family too! We’ve really missed them. Rosie especially grew close to them during her scoliosis surgery. It’s still really hard for her knowing she’s stuck in Haiti waiting for her visa.

We left our boys in the very capable hands of Tom & Sharon – so that Jose & I could drop Malaya off at school in Missouri! They have already traveled to ball games, camps, & other various fun spots!

Now that Malaya is gone….we asked them to teach our boys how to do laundry and get them back on track with daily chores! We encouraged them to run a mini boot-camp …where they also have to participate in daily exercise & have a routine. YOU KNOW – do all the things that their “legit” parents should make them do! HAHA!



Sadly for us, the time has come – for Malaya to begin her new journey as a Senior at North Liberty High School.  

We met with the school counselor last Friday. Malaya got her class schedule at that time too! We toured the school, paid for her parking pass,  met some of her teachers, and were invited back for a more “official” orientation this Tuesday.  School officially started yesterday. The school is HUGE – over 2500 students! It’s a big change from being in class with just siblings!

There was a Senior Sunrise event yesterday morning. All the seniors were invited to bring blankets and meet at the school early to watch the sun rise together.  Though she recently made some friends from her small group at church – she’s starting her social life from scratch. She didn’t have to go – BUT she decided to experience it anyways!

That girl… she doesn’t let anything hold her back! When we left Kentucky in her car, she said she wanted to drive the whole way. It’s an 8 hour trip (plus all the bathroom breaks). We told her that we should rotate driving –  so that she can rest some. But of course….she wanted to prove she could do it! AND SHE DID!

WE COULD NOT BE MORE PROUD! Jose & I will fly back to Kentucky on Saturday. Then on Monday – Tom & Sharon will drive the boys down with a u-haul full of boat supplies! We will spend the next two weeks packing crates & packing suitcases as we prepare to fly back home!

Please keep Malaya & our family in your prayers! My heart is not ready to fly back home without her!

Posted in Mission Stories

Ashes To Ashes…

Tonight, my family sat around the tree we planted in Lori’s memory – discussing our favorite memories.

***This is actually the 2nd tree – the first tree died. Typical… my sister is full of drama! Now you know where I get it from! 😉

This tree was planted in it’s place this past month. It’s like the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. 🎄

My friend/therapist – Joan- came tonight to lead our little service. She spent several hours helping our family grieve & remember the best parts of my sister.

Kelly Green is the color that represents Gallbladder Cancer. Each of us tied a green bow on the tree.

But before the service concluded… in order to make this “her” tree…. Jose dug around the roots.

I then placed my hands in a tin full of her ashes – so I could spread them with the soil and tree roots.

As I held bits of her bones and even a staple from a previous surgery she had…. I couldn’t help but wish I was holding her earthly body. How she would laugh that she’s finally at her “goal weight” 😂😭

What I would give for one last touch of her hand.

Until we meet again…

Posted in Personal Stories

Through It All… 3 Years Later

It will be 3 years tomorrow…

I thought it would hurt a little less each year. But it doesn’t. It’s as real today as it was then.

I’ve been balling my eyes out – walking in circles…. literally – as I’m slowly making my way around the park.

I have nothing profound to say or to share… I just miss her with every ounce of my being.




JULY 12th

She has RISEN!!

I know it’s not quite the same as when CHRIST rose from the dead – but it is truly a miracle… something no one expected would happen either.

She is unable to walk, sit on her own, or care for herself…but she is strong willed & determined.

The doctors continue to be baffled & confused that she’s still here. They are still VERY pessimistic about the final outcome. However, she’s already proven them wrong each and every day.

Her infection is under control and labs are abnormal… BUT today they are starting to move in the right direction. She is in NO WAY over this and each day has it’s own set of complications. Her complications have complications. But she is STILL here.

Yesterday she turned 49, Bud turned 48, and Mikela turned 16! It was quite the day for celebrations!

I still can’t organize my thoughts into words….but I am thankful for the way you surround & love us.

Keep believing.
Keep praying.


July 18th

Urgent Prayer Request:

The past few days have been the most difficult by far. On Tuesday night after 24 hours of un-responsiveness, we prepared to sing Lori into Heaven. We wept all night and said our goodbyes. At 5am, Scott leaned over and told her he loved her as her respirations became shallow. THEN – Out of nowhere she looked at him and said, “I love you too, Scotty”.

We were blown away. She came back to us. She was eating, talking, and coherent.

Today she should have received the next round of immunotherapy. However, she has become unresponsive yet again.

Her labs have never looked better; they truly believe the immuno is working. All is well except for one lab….her white blood cells. Her infection is back and they are afraid she’s going septic again….she will not survive if that’s the case.

We are surrounding her, loving her, singing to her, reading scripture over her, and praying that Lori will come back to us as she has time and time again.

We have given her permission to leave us and accepted that fate if it’s His Will. But every time we let go….she comes back.

It’s such an emotional rollercoaster….we have wept till there were no more tears and rejoiced with all that’s in us when she opens her eyes and looks at us.

So if it’s His will for her to live….please pray that she will not suffer and that this is not septic shock.

And if it’s His will for her to enter into His Kingdom… the prayer is the same – that she will not suffer anymore.




Unfortunately, she is not coming back to us this time. Her organs are shutting down.

Thank you for your prayers. Our family is coming together during this difficult time and it’s absolutely the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do.

I don’t know how to do this…. I don’t know how to breathe in this world without her in it. My dad can barely stand as he grieves and I’m really concerned about his health.

Please pray for her comfort and pain as she transitions out of our hands and into His.



I appreciate the prayers and messages so much. Mom and I have been reading over them as we wait. Last night we were told it would be just a few hours….then we were told it would definitely be this morning. Still we wait.

Her birthday balloons are still floating with helium. How can we celebrate life and death so closely together?

Though she’s unable to talk or move – she looks me in the eyes when I rub her face. Tears stream down her cheeks. She’s still here though so much of her is gone.

She hears us though she can’t really respond verbally she squeezes a hand or raises an eyebrow. Mainly she moans in pain.

We cannot understand how she’s still holding on… what is she waiting for.

Her lungs are slowly filling with fluid and hearing her gasp through crackled breaths is like nails on a chalkboard.

I have had so many people message me asking how I am “really” doing….. I wish I had some sort of “Godly” response of how He’s given me strength and peace.

But in full transparency I’m confused and I’m angry. I believed the miracle and if it wasn’t in His will then why let her come back from the dead time and time again? I just don’t understand.

She’s still in pain despite our best efforts and she just deserves more than that. She’s a good and faithful servant whose suffering seems so unfair.

Please pray for God to show mercy on my sister.


July 20th 

Lori left our loving arms and woke up in His at 4:45am. Surrounded by friends and family, she passed away peacefully.

I can’t put my feelings into words right now… and I don’t know how to keep breathing without her in this world….but I do know the suffering has ended.

Please keep praying peace and strength over our family as we begin to make arrangements that we pray will honor her.

Pic taken August 22nd 2018… her first chemo treatment.



Today is Gabriel’s birthday…. he is turning 12.

Gabe had an undeniable & special connection with Lori. He spent more time with her than any of my other children.

In fact, anytime he started a conversation with her… he’d greet her by saying – Hey Lolo, it’s your favorite nephew! (which often made Levi & Asher mad!)

They spoke every week through voxer. He has spent weeks/months at a time with her throughout his childhood.

She promised him last month that they would bake a cake & have their own special day together.

But he doesn’t want to celebrate today….. he said the only cake he wants is the one they were going to bake together.

Oh. My. Heart.



Every morning & evening I brushed Lori’s hair, applied moisturizer on her face, and swept her lips with her favorite raspberry flavored lip gloss.

Now when I close my eyes….I see her sweet face….I so desperately want to touch it again….

I’ve spent the past 2 days planning her Celebration of Life Service and it feels SO UNREAL….like I’m living someone else’s life.

I lost my best friend January 1st and my sister July 20th. I feel so broken….so very, very broken.

You’re in a better place,
I’ve heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times
I’ve rejoiced for you
But the reason why I’m broken,
the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place
Lord, won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow
I’ve never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don’t understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I’ll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I’m still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place
Lord, won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow
I’ve never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbyes
And in Christ, there is no end
So I’ll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place

Lord, won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow

Won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow

I’ve never been more homesick than now