Posted in Mission Stories

O is for October…and Apparently Operations too!

It’s been a few months since I’ve given an update on our family.

Rosie had a seamless recovery from her scoliosis surgery. Jose, Malaya, & Asher flew back into Haiti the first week of July after the airports re-opened.

I stayed out with Rosie until the first week of August just to make sure she didn’t have any complications. The doctor didn’t want Rosie to fly back to Haiti before September.

Tom & Sharon Snivley generously offered to keep Rosie for the month of August! I am SO thankful for their love and support because it allowed me to fly home to the Mole after spending 5 months apart from the rest of my kids. **I’ll be blogging more about her adventures soon!


At the end of August, we received news that my dad needed heart surgery. Due to his age & Parkinson’s Disease – he was considered very high risk. Without the surgery, they said his heart would give out within a few months.

My dad told me that I didn’t need to fly out since I had just returned home. But if I’ve learned anything over the past 2 years… tomorrow is never guaranteed for any of us. I may not “need” to fly out… but I’d never forgive myself if something happened and I didn’t get to say goodbye. 

Several of my kids hadn’t seen their papaw since Thanksgiving. So we made a decision as a family to come out and spend time with my dad before his surgery. 

It was an emotional few weeks while we waited for his operation.  It was the first time we had ever experienced something serious like this without my sister. She has a way of making us laugh even during the most overwhelming & terrifying moments. My mom brought her ashes with us in the car… so she could “be there” with the rest of us while we awaited news.

My dad had his surgery October 1st and it went perfectly. Phew! 

With the news of dad’s successful operation – we made plans to return back home to Haiti October 15th. But as we all know… nothing this year has gone as planned for ANYONE!


Since March – I’ve been having trouble with my shoulder. I’ve done physical therapy, steroid shots, deep tissue massages, and had my back realigned by a chiropractor. Nothing has helped.

Since we were in the states waiting for dad’s operation – I decided to see an orthopedist. I had an MRI last week and found out on Monday that I have 3 major tears in my right shoulder/rotary cuff… tears that will not correct on their own. 

SO – on Sunday I’m scheduled to have a Covid-19 test and Tuesday (Oct 13th) I’ll be having shoulder surgery.

I’ll be in a sling for a month and need physical therapy for 4 months. I’ll be working with a therapist over the next 2 weeks so that I’ll know what to do once I fly back home.

Assuming there are no complications… we are now “planning” to fly back to Haiti on November 1st. I’m SO ready to be home for more than a few weeks at a time.


While I was meeting with the orthopedic surgeon on Monday… Jose was with Mikela meeting with an oral surgeon. We found out that Mikela needs her wisdom teeth out.

We all know Mikela’s got a “big mouth”!!🤣🤣 However – in reality – it’s actually too small for those teeth to grow in.

My Haitian children do not have insurance. We were just informed that the surgery will be $2800.00 and it can’t wait another year. UGH…

Mikela’s surgery is scheduled tomorrow! 😔


This year has been FULL of non-stop – never ending – unexpected expenses. 

🔴 Due to Covid – several of our supporters have had to cut back their support because they were laid off. 

🔴 Since most churches were unable to hold services – their offerings were down in general. Unfortunately, we lost 2 supporting churches this summer because they simply didn’t have the funds to give to missions. 

🔴 We do our annual boat shipment in August/September. This is where we buy a year’s worth of supplies for the ministry. This time of year is the most difficult & leanest time for our ministry account.

Our family motto is: Never A Dull Moment … we’ve lived that out ALL year long! BUT we’ve also lived a year where God showed up in unexpected ways – when hope seemed fleeting – when loneliness & anxiety consumed us.

I HATE fundraising for our family. I’d much rather share about our ministries and how God is allowing us to passionately pursue our calling. I feel guilty asking for help with our needs when I know EVERYONE is struggling. 

All we can do is let the need be known and believe God has some sort of plan to see us through… ESPECIALLY since none of our plans seem to be working out this year.

First and foremost we appreciate your prayers for our family.
-Not everyone is called to go…
-Not everyone is called to give…
-BUT everyone is called to pray.
So please keep our family, our ministry, our community, and our needs in your prayers.


You can make a donation online by clicking this link: GIVE
**Pick the “Castillo Family” from the drop down menu.


You can send a check to:
Northwest Haiti Christian Mission
7301 N Georgetown Rd Suite 190
Indianapolis, IN 46268
**Please include a note that says: Castillo Family

As always we thank you for your prayers, love, encouragement, and support! We couldn’t do what we do without it.

❤️ With Our Deepest Appreciation & Love, ❤️
Jose, Jody, Gigi, Mikela, Rosie, Malaya, Gabe, Levi, Asher, Izzy, & Fabi

Posted in Personal Stories

Rosie’s Road To Recovery – Days 2-4

I can’t believe we are already on Day 4 Post-Op. I have sat down multiple times to write an update… and have fallen asleep at the keys every time. We are EXHAUSTED!

I spent the first 24 hours with Rosie. Since then, Jose and I started rotating our time in the hospital. He covers 9am to 6pm and I do the 6pm-9am shift!

The hospital has been REALLY GREAT about letting us spend some time together with Rosie. We usually get to hang out with her an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening before we switch out. She’s still in the PICU right now but should be moving to a regular room today.

Rosie has done SUPER WELL! I am SO proud and impressed with how she’s handled everything. Rosie is a very strong-willed little girl…it’s why she’s still alive. It’s that determination and mindset that’s allowed her to survive Tetanus, Cerebral Malaria, Typhoid, Dengue Fever, etc.


Rosie is 16 years old, but has developmental delay and sensory integration disorder. She’s developmentally more like a 9-year old.

HOWEVER – after surgery – she became more like a 3-year old! With all of the pain meds & anesthesia – she became a giddy little girl! Rosie calls me “mama” and Jose “dada”. She says “HI” about 200 times a day. (Not an exaggeration).

She doesn’t really speak in full sentences but more like short sayings: I drink water, I cold, I roll over, I go potty, I hurt, etc.

“All Done” is her favorite saying. Whether it’s taking her meds, eating, using the bathroom, rolling over, etc. When she’s ready to move on – that’s what she says.

We have laughed SO much! Definitely there’s been a lot of tears and A LOT of pain… but she’s handled it all like a champ.

A few of our favorite moments:

  • Rosie LOVES her balloons! She talks to them and hugs them! If Jose hits them – she laughs and laughs.
  • Sometimes she hits the call light just so she can say HI to the nurses. At one point I fell asleep holding her hand beside her bed and the next thing I know she and the nurse are eating a popsicle. She pushed the button and told the nurse she was lonely and wanted someone to talk to!
  • Rosie has 3 stuffed animals on her bed – a koala, a panda bear, and a prayer bear. Apparently, the panda and koala have been SUPER whiny. She had the nurse put the panda in time-out. She said she just can’t keep holding them because they are being super annoying. (The kola bear is flatter and she likes to sleep on it. The panda bear has been super jealous.)
  • At one point – all 3 stuffed animals were at the bottom of the bed facing away from Rosie. She said prayer bear was praying over them because of all of the fighting!
  • When we first started feeding her – she insisted Jose makes the chew-chew train sound before putting the spoon in her mouth.
  • She likes for Jose to kiss/blow on her hand. She dies laughing. The first two days she stuck her hand out almost non-stop and craved being touched.
  • She likes to pat Jose’s head and say that it’s Chloe.
  • She likes to repeat sounds that people make. So, if the nurse drops something and says Ought Oh…she repeats it.
  • She constantly wants to look at the x-ray pictures… she cries every time we show her. She keeps thinking that it’s not really her back but someone else’s. We have to convince her every time that it really is fixed.


Day 2 & 3 were really difficult for Rosie. She just couldn’t get comfortable in bed. She hated laying on her back, it’s impossible to lay on her stomach, and her hips really hurt when she goes from side to side.

She’s got a cooling vest on her almost 24-7. It really helps with the pain but it’s also SUPER COLD. She’s constantly shivering and has a minimum of 4 blankets on her at all times. Her hands are so cold that the O2 monitor has a difficult time reading her finger. So that machine is constantly beeping.

She doesn’t really sleep more than 45 minutes at a time before she’s moaning and in pain. I know she’s exhausted and miserable. Besides her back hurting – her bowels are backed up causing her stomach to constantly ache as well. She doesn’t want to eat anything because her stomach is so hard…which makes it difficult for her to build up her strength.

The first two days she was unable to do ANYTHING unassisted. It took 2 people to help her go from side to side. BUT yesterday afternoon we noticed a huge change. She is starting to roll over on her own. We have to place the pillows all around her – but she can grab the bedrails and slowly turn on her own.

Once we help her sit-up – she can push herself off the bed. With the help of her walker – she’s able to walk down the hall and go to the bathroom. She’s been doing therapy every day and there’s a noticeable difference now.

She may get to come home sooner than later! I was talking to the doctor today about taking over her care at home… similar to how I did my sister’s home health care. I can do her therapy, get labs drawn, and do everything else that she needs.

She’s now on oral pain meds and all the IV’s are out. We already have her room fixed at my brother’s house. The doctor and I both think she will do much better if she’s home with us in her own surroundings. She only sleeps a few hours total each day but maybe if she were home she could rest more. The noises & atmosphere are an overload for her. She keeps asking to go home.

Here’s a few pictures from the past few days:

Posted in Personal Stories

Rosie’s Road To Recovery: Day 1

We want to extend our sincerest appreciation for your words of encouragement, your prayers, your love, and your support! It has felt like the day that would never come….and the day that would never end!

Rosie’s surgery was Tuesday, June 16th. 



We arrived at the hospital at 4:45am. The surgery was to start at 7am and would last roughly 6 hours. Rosie was shaking so bad that it was difficult to get her IV started. The nurse and anesthesiologist weren’t aware of Rosie’s Developmental Delay/Sensory Integration Disorder. They couldn’t understand why a 16 year-old was struggling so much to sit still and was unable to follow simple commands.

As soon as I explained that she’s developmentally more like an 8 year-old… they began to approach her differently and things went much smoother.


The anesthesiologist wanted Rosie to feel more comfortable so he took off his mask and hat. He was an elderly bald man. He said he has grandkids too and he will take good care of her. I said, “See Rosie – he’s just like papaw!”

Rosie frantically: Oh no! Papaw can’t keep his hands still. I don’t want him poking me with needles if he can’t keep his hands still. We need to find someone younger! (LOL)



Rosie had a few minor setbacks as her bones were more rigid than expected. The first update we received was a bit discouraging. They weren’t sure they would be able to fix the curve more than 10%….and perhaps the best they can do is simply keep it from getting worse. Rosie had such high hopes that the surgery would help her look “normal”.

We always remind Rosie how special she is and how God has a great plan for her life. She’s a miracle. When I give her health history – starting with tetanus at 8 days old – everyone is shocked she survived. But her response is always the same: I don’t want to be special. I want to be like everyone else.

The great news is that her surgery was actually VERY successful! In fact – they were able to correct her curve more than 80%!

**You can see in the photos the drastic difference of her “before/after” x-rays. (FYI – the “after” x-rays were taken while she was still open on the table. They removed those scissors before they closed her up! LOL!)



Rosie was taken from surgery directly to the ICU. To our PLEASANT surprise, Jose & I both were able to spend the whole afternoon with her. The first few hours were really difficult. She was in SO MUCH pain and couldn’t find the words to really express how she was feeling. We used “Feeling Pictures“ with different emotions to help her express how she was doing.


Our First Conversations Post-Surgery:

As Rosie woke up in the ICU these were her very first words:

Is it over? I didn’t die? Give me a hug. Are you sure I didn’t die? What time is it? When will they start the surgery?



Me: You already had your surgery. It’s over. You did it.
Rosie: No. No I didn’t. (Shaking her head)
Me: Yes baby. It’s over.
Rosie: I didn’t die?
Me: No Rosie. This is definitely not heaven.
Rosie: oh no. I didn’t make it to heaven?
Me: Rosie we are in Indiana in the hospital.
Rosie: Yeah. You are right. Indiana is not heaven. (She said it not me!LOL)
Rosie: What time is it?
Me: It’s 2pm.
Rosie: Oh no. I missed my surgery. It was at 7.
Me: Rosie it’s over. You already had it.
Rosie: No. I don’t think so.
Me: Yes you did it! I can’t wait for you to see what they did to your back. You are going to be taller now.
Rosie while trying to turn her head to look at her back: Oh no. I can’t even see my back anymore. Did they remove the whole thing?
Rosie: Where’s daddy.
Jose: I’m right here.
Rosie: No. I want to see Jose.
Jose: It’s me Rosie.
Rosie: oh. Yeah. You are right.
Rosie: I need to use the bathroom.
Me: You have a tube hooked up. It’s okay to pee. You don’t need to get up. You can go in the bed.
Rosie: No. I’m not a baby. That’s gross. I’m not going to make a mess.
Nurse: Rosie it’s okay. You won’t make a mess because it’s going to go into this bag.
Rosie: Well that’s nasty. You really shouldn’t be proud of that. I’m not a puppy.

The nursing staff LOVE Rosie! They are so gentle and caring with her.

Rosie got to pick out a stuffed animal from the ICU floor. She picked out a koala bear. Rosie asks every person to hug her as they come into the room AND to hug her koala when they leave the room.

They did a change of shift this afternoon and the nurse said goodbye to Rosie.

Rosie started to cry: Why are you leaving? I wanted us to be good friends! What I am supposed to tell my bear? She will be so sad.



Jose left around 6:30pm and I’m here for the night.

Being in the ICU – the nurses, the smells, the beeping machines, the constant vital signs/pain checks… feeding her ice chips, helping her get comfortable in bed, reminding her what day it is, where she is, that everything’s going to be okay .. it felt ALL TOO familiar. I had to stop giving regular updates…because quite frankly – I couldn’t see the keys for the tears. My post from “a year ago today” was about officially taking over all of Lori’s home health care.

I’ll have more updates tomorrow! Please continue to lift my sweet baby girl in your prayers! I’m SO proud of how well she’s handling everything.

They said day 2 & 3 are usually the worst days of the recovery process and she’s going to have to find a new way to do her daily activities. She can’t bend/twist her back or lift anything more than 5 pounds for at least 6 months! So we’ve got quite a rough road ahead….but we know we aren’t traveling on it all alone.


There was a comment earlier today about whether something could be sent to Rosie during her hospital stay. She can’t have any live flowers… but anything else is fine. We really don’t know how long she’ll be here in the hospital. We’ve heard anywhere from 5-10 days. She will be staying in Garrett, IN (just 15 minutes away) over the next several months while she does her therapy/recovery. If you would like my brother’s home address – I can message that separately.
Currently: She’s in Parkview Regional Medical Center.
Name: Rosie Castillo
Room: PICU 2nd Floor
Hospital: 260-266-1000
Posted in Mission Stories

We STILL Need Your Help!

Last year I was so engaged & overwhelmed with caring for my dying sister… and grieving the loss of my best friend & her mother…. that I neglected to advocate for our campus needs! I forgot to ask you to collect items for our yearly shipments: like soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, school supplies, etc

So below is a list of our Campus Dreams & Goals!

We ask that you fervently pray over these needs. In full transparency, I have struggled with my prayer-life… unsure whether God hears my cries or not. There were times where I could barely stand… where I was headed for a violent fall –  had friends not “randomly” reached out and caught me.

But I know God is a GOOD God. I believe in His timing and in His sovereignty.  I do know prayer changes things. This is a world full of hurting people… perhaps you could be the reason that someone else finds their footing.  So pray over our missionaries, our staff, our campus, our needs, our community…. and most importantly your community and your sphere of influence.

Whether you feel called to help us or others…. I encourage you to do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.

The following is a list of projects that we compiled as a staff and believe position us in the best possible way for our ministry.  They’re not necessarily listed by priority….

Basketball Court Covered

  • We would really like to cover the basketball court with a high steel roof.  This way we can do sports ministries on the court even in the daytime without the kids being stuck in the sun.  We’ve tried to do some summer camp activities and the parents were frustrated that their kids were playing games on the court at 2pm in the afternoon.

**Not really sure how much this would cost because it has to be built in a way that we don’t need poles in the middle of the court. We don’t need to build on top of it…but we’d like for it to be hurricane sturdy. 


Clinic Expansion ROOF Covered

  • We would like to build a shakoon on top of the clinic. This would be a covered area with no walls. It’s a wooden roof with thatch on it….kind of that Caribbean tiki-post look. The idea is that we can do devotions up there, have meetings up there, it’s another place seminars and daily activities can happen. We can also do weddings up there….in honor of my best friend “The Wedding Lady”.

**We believe this will be $5,000. Steps leading up to this area are already poured thanks to our last team! 



  • When we first built the clinic, we did it with the mindset that it would play a smaller role in the community.  But it has actually become the main facility to go to… especially for pharmacy needs.
  • We have been blessed with start-up funds to expand the clinic – adding a separate pharmacy, lab, & overnight room for patients! This past year we completed this project! The building is ready to be used now…but we need supplies to get everything started.

**We need funds for the “start-up” supplies for the lab. We have all the larger equipment just not the tubes, slides, specimen containers, & smaller individual tests. We have an overnight area for patients – but we need IV bags/tubing and supplies so that we can treat them through the night.  We need $4000.00 to stock this new expansion. 


Granmoun/Homeless Program:

  • There are many elders who have become orphans – their children have all died out from under them. They sleep on porches or in the street. We’ve seen them abused, beaten, and I’ve treated elderly ladies who’ve been raped. They have no place they can sleep safely. One man had kerosene thrown on him because he was sleeping on the porch of a house and they didn’t want him there. They are dying without any dignity. During the rainy season they are wet & cold.
  • We would like to build a home that can house 30 men & 30 women. It would be great if we were able to feed them but the most important thing is to provide them a safe place to sleep.  They can check-in each night and check-out in the morning so there aren’t monthly costs associated.

One home has been completed. We need $20,000 to complete the second home as a structure. We need $13,000 to outfit the 2nd homes with plumbing, electricity, windows, etc.


 Church Needs:

  • We came up short on finishing the outside of the church. We weren’t able to plaster the sides.
  • A lot of our sound/speakers need to be upgraded/fixed. It’s very hard to do any sort of conference or big event because the speakers go in and out all the time.
  • We would like to screen the church….the mosquitos are SO bad inside the church. We can’t really bug-bomb it or control it. We’d love to add side fans onto the walls as well….as away of also keeping the mosquitos from being to bad.
  • We would REALLY like to tile the floor. We have nice instruments and the floor is rough/dusty. No matter how much you sweep – there’s always more dust to be found with the rough floor. This would allow us to keep everything clean.  Also as a church who lived in a tent for many years I think there is a want to show God continues to provide and none of the curses worked.  ***This particular need has a lot to do with the struggles we faced because of the curses that came against us – the voodoo services that burned down our military tent time and time again. It’s probably a little prideful on our part.. but in a culture where the building matters… we’ve faced a ton of battles trying to get this church completed.

**Plastering sides of church: 2200.00  **Tiling the Church: 7500.00  **Instrument/Speaker Repairs: $2500.00   **Screening the church: 1200.00 – This need has just been met! PRAISE THE LORD!


Orphanage Needs:

  • We have broken toilets and showers that need to be fixed. Those two buildings need a lot of work! When you have 35 kids…it requires constant care.
  • The government requires there to be an “office” for the kids in our orphanage. We need to build a small structure where we keep all their records & can officially receive social services when they visit each time.
  • Our wooden fence blew down with the storms. We would like to get a chain link fence to officially mark off the orphanage that way we can help them with boundaries.
  • When flooding happens everything pools right in front of the orphanage porch. We need to build a small canal//lay pipes// to redirect that water around the orphanage.
  • Sponsor one of our children at $30/month.

We aren’t quite sure what the budget is, as they are new to our list.  If you are interested in helping, you can put “Mole Orphan Construction” on the memo – and we will meet with our construction foreman to get started.  



If you would like to collect supplies for our yearly shipment or need more information about these projects:  PLEASE SEND US AN EMAIL…


If you feel led to donate towards these projects or our benevolent ministry in general – which meets the needs of the community –  the information is below! 

We are better together and every donation matters no matter how small! 

7301 N Georgetown Rd
Suite 190
Indianapolis, IN 46268
Please mark: Mole Ministry & the project you’d like to donate towards

You can write in the notes section:  MOLE MINISTRY & the project you’d like to help with! 



Posted in Mission Stories

January Family Update!

I’m currently writing you from our St. Louis du Nord Campus. On Friday we will greet our first surgery team of the year! We are SO excited and thankful for this medical team. Many Haitians have been waiting over a year for these life-changing surgeries.

We will be here for a week and then we’re heading to the states. Malaya has several doctor appointments scheduled as they continue to investigate the marks that are on her arms, legs, and back.

January 2020 has been full of many ups & downs….

So here’s a look at some of our past posts from this month.


Post 1 – The President’s wife actually came and dropped of Christmas gifts for our orphanage! They spent 5 days here in the Mole – across the street. We became great friends with their security guards. The town was completely calm during their stay. In fact, the President actually rode his bike downtown around the town square! 


Post 2 – When we get to the States I plan to upload more pictures and videos from this incredible New Year’s Celebration. It could not have gone better and the talent was insane!


Post 3 – My best friend died on January 1st 2019.  Reliving & processing those days was SO difficult.


Post 4 – Our Children’s Church Party was a blast.  I’ll load more pics next  week.


Post 5 – My best friend died on January 1st 2019.  Reliving & processing those days was SO difficult.




Posted in Mission Stories

Our Generation Christmas Party…

On December 20th we celebrated Christmas with our favorite dance group – Our Generation!

The girls have been in the states for the past 6 months and have really been looking forward to this time of fellowship together. Just like we do for our staff, we had each of the dancers draw names earlier in December.  They had to perform 2 acts of kindness without getting caught.

On Friday evening – we enjoyed a great meal together! We then divided everyone into two teams and played 10 Minute-It-To-Win-It Games! Everyone received gifts for playing!

We also revealed our Secret Santa Partner! Listening to how sneaky they were – and what things they did for their person – is always a highlight for everyone!

We finished the night with a Santa Hat Walk! Whatever number you stood on – there was a corresponding prize box!

Take a look at some of our pictures from our Fabulous Evening Together!

Posted in Mission Stories

Christmas Eve Granmoun Feeding…

One of our favorite things to do is feed the elderly folks from our community a hot meal! They are always SO thankful and sweet! Every year we pass out 200 cards inviting them to join us on Christmas Eve. We always share the Good News with them and pray over them.

We have posted several other Christmas Posts on our ministry blog: 

Here are some pictures from our annual feeding.  

Posted in Mission Stories

Christmas Bingo Fun…

Malaya and I spent all morning setting up for our annual Christmas Bingo Game!

Our core staff invited 5 friends/family to join us today at 4pm. We had over 156 people in our cafeteria. We played 5 rounds of Bingo and had over 20 winners each round. Everyone who won received a cash prize AND they got to pick a present from our tables!

We also made sure that every single person left with something! A MERRY time was had by all!

We would like to extend a special thank you to Sue Lukomski. The majority of our tables were filled with goodies because of all of her efforts!

Here’s some pictures of our incredible night together!


Posted in Mission Stories

We Are Home!

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. Now that I’m back home in Haiti – I plan to write more frequently.

I started summarizing the past few months and then decided it would be easier to just cut and paste my Facebook posts.

So below are some of the posts I’ve made since I blogged in October. It’s been a VERY bumpy ride…but I’m thankful to be home. 

Thanks for your patience, prayers, encouragement, love, and support!


Our “Joy Story” Children’s Church Kick-Off has begun!!


I am happy to report that we made it home safely! THANK YOU for all of your prayers!

I’m also SO excited to share that we have electricity! We don’t know how long it will last… but we’ve had power every day since we arrived. Pierre said that the town has been WAITING for us to put up all the lights & start our Christmas Festivities. It’s the signal that it’s okay to celebrate even when times are tough. So we’ve been working nonstop since we arrived.

Tonight is our Children’s Church Kick-off. We will be showing A Toy Story to introduce our “theme”… which is – A Joy Story! Jose, the kids, and I will be dressing up as the characters tonight!

We have Staff, Dance, Youth, & Children’s parties to plan…. Christmas Bingo, 10 Nights of Christmas Movies, Food Give-aways, Animal Give-aways, & many other activities that will be starting this week.

We will also have a New Year’s Eve dance competition. We’ve already got 22 teams signed up! There’s 185 people coming from the Port-de-Paix area to participate! With all the drama in Haiti – I assumed the turnout would be really low… but instead everyone is just super excited to do something fun!


I also wanted to THANK everyone for all of the thoughtful birthday messages!

Yesterday was a very difficult day… honestly I’ve found it difficult to breathe ever since we arrived home.

We decorated our tree last night and took our annual family photo. We normally mail out our Christmas Cards before Thanksgiving but we obviously got a late start this year. We’ve been doing cards since 2002. Lori has always helped us come up with the theme & written the poem. It just doesn’t “feel right” celebrating my 40th birthday without talking to her… without her picking out the clothes for the kids…. without her telling me what to write.

As we were decorating our home, I created a little square in her honor. The stocking was hers when we were children. Whenever I told her I loved her – she’d say “ Love You More”. I bought that sign for her funeral. The Mickey Mouse was a present she got for her last birthday. Her ashes are in the black bottle that Mickey is holding. Each piece in the little square has a special meaning to me.

Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to move forward … and as we begin to dive into all our upcoming ministries.


That awkward moment…

1- When your basement floods the day you are packing 16 suitcases and two of them are soaking wet… AND you have to do laundry again… AND you have to throw away boxes of food you spent hours shopping for.

2-When it’s 2:30am and you load up your van to head to the airport BUT it won’t start because the battery is dead.

3-When you are the first people in line at the ticket counter (an hour before it even opens) and yet the last people who are finally checked in because the lady is Ridiculously slow.

4-When half the kids make it through the TSA line and the other half are stuck waiting for boarding passes… AND every single carryon gets flagged… AND 4 of us get patted down… AND Asher asks if they will pat him down too because it’s “not fair” that the other two boys were.

5- When TSA can’t help the others stuck behind us because we’ve sucked up all their manpower and counter space with all the extra security checks.

6- When you were the first people at the airport and YET you have to run to the gate where they are holding the flight for you… AND everyone already hates you from back at TSA!

7- When it’s not even 5:30am and you’ve already had the most mentally exhausting day!


Ready or not – Haiti Here We Come!!


Jody Owen Castillo Ugh…our connecting flight leaves at 10:30 and we are not landing until 10:15am now. They close the gate 10 minutes before departure. Looks like today is just not our day and we will have to overnight 😢

Malaya and I both were crying as we got off the plane…knowing what a pain it would be to recheck bags and go through all the security checks again tomorrow….and they had a sign waiting for us! Totally redeemed this day! Our bags won’t make it but at least we don’t have to touch them again until Haiti! PRAISE THE LORD!!

Jody Owen Castillo God works in mysterious ways. They held the plane for us and we couldn’t have been in that airport for more than 10 minutes.

YET EVERY SINGLE BAG MADE IT!?! How?? I have no clue.

My crew looked like such a hot mess that as we went through customs they just waived us on through without opening a single bag!

This has to be the weirdest trip we’ve ever taken….so many twists and turns.


Special thanks to the Hope College Dancers! The kids LOVED their box of goodies and were so surprised that you thought of them!

You all are SO incredibly thoughtful! The picture collage is awesome too!

Can’t wait for you all to come back! We love you all!


Today we are taking Rosie to see an orthopedic doctor to discuss the possibility of their practice doing her scoliosis surgery next year pro-bono. Her curve is growing 5% each year.

We appreciate your prayers for this appointment as we fight for her quality of life.


Jody Owen Castillo Thanks everyone for your prayers! The doctor said she definitively needs surgery.

The surgeon and nursing staff are willing to donate their time and waive their fees!

Now we have to go before the hospital board and see if they are willing to waive their fees. It’s a 200k surgery. It’s a lot to ask of a hospital!

We should know something in a week or so! Please pray as so many doors have already been closed to us.


Tonight I did something that I NEVER thought I would do….

A week before Lori died, she asked me to play worship music one night in the hospital. Though she was too weak to even feed herself, I watched her raise her arms in praise as the song – It Is Well – played on my speaker.

After digging through countless journals/notebooks – I managed to find those words in her handwriting.

This evening I had them tattooed on my foot… in her writing, using her ashes. Now she’ll always be apart of me.

At the end I added “With Me” in Creole. Though I can’t wrap my mind around this year… I have FINALLY accepted that which I cannot change/understand.

Thanks Caroline for an UNFORGETTABLE evening!

It Is Well…. with me.


Last night we had the privilege of having dinner with Joe (Diane’s husband). The fellowship and reminiscing about Diane was just what my heart needed.

This morning we are seeing the endocrinologist in Cincinnati to find out more about Malaya’s health issues. Driving the road I’ve driven a hundred times…. but knowing my sister won’t be waiting for us at the appointment… passing by all the places we ate at, places we met to switch out kids…. it’s WAY more difficult than I thought.

My sister told Malaya that if something happened – she’s counting on her to decorate her house for Christmas… just like we did last year. She of course said – “You’ll be here so we can do it together again”.

Alas… tomorrow will be another difficult day as we carry out her Christmas wishes. It’s also DJ’s first birthday without his mom. So MANY firsts.


Jody Owen Castillo Thanks everyone for your prayers.

Update on Malaya: The endocrinologists were baffled at Malaya’s symptoms. They called in the head of the department and she said her labs aren’t consistent with a specific diagnosis.

Her hormone & cortisol levels are very high which is concerning. BUT to be consistent with Cushing’s disease – there’s other labs that should inadvertently be lower in order for that diagnosis to line-up.

The head Endocrinologist said in her 15+ years of working – she’s never seen such “impressive” purple/red lines that go up and down her legs, arms, and now her back. She’s the worst case she’s ever seen of that. Of course Malaya is devastated that her skin looks so bad. 😞

We are swabbing her mouth every night at midnight re-testing hormone levels and those labs will be turned in tomorrow. IF the cortisol levels are still high – then they believe there’s a brain lesion that the first MRI didn’t catch. They will want to do a more detailed MRI. They said it could be a tiny tumor and she’d have to have surgery to remove it.

IF her cortisol levels come back normal – then they are truly at a loss and we’ll be starting back at the drawing board – having to run a ton of other tests to figure out what’s going on and she’ll have to see other specialists as well. #neveradullmoment


Jody Owen Castillo Yesterday was a very bittersweet day. We were able to celebrate DJ’s birthday and carry-out my sister’s Christmas wishes. I had practically lived with her this past year and being in the home without her makes every part of my body ache.

My sister collected Manager Scenes. So Malaya very carefully unwrapped and set-up each one.

Lori had several trees. One of her favorites was her Disney Tree. That tree has been around since I was a little kid. I lived with my sister my freshman year of college and I remember decorating it with her back in 1997. She loved to collect ornaments along the way…and hanging them on the tree brought back so many memories.

We invited Lori’s grandkids over to help us decorate. I feel like it’s my honor & duty to include those precious girls as much as I can. She loved them as though they were her own little girls.


The Castillo Clan will be at the Convention Center today! Stop by and see us….maybe take a kid home with you! 😂

We also have a special 40th Anniversary Dinner tonight. Message me if you would like to attend. We still have open spots! It’s free! @nwhcm #icom #haiti


I’m not looking to cause a debate or anything…

BUT – in full sincerity – there’s something I’ve really been struggling with this year. I don’t like that I struggle with it…but it’s my reality in face of losing my best friend, my sister, my youth pastor, my best friend’s mom, & Malonea -all within 1 year.

So here’s my thought-provoking dilemma:

Does God heal the sick (on earth) based off our prayers?

Part 1 of my Dilemma:
Lori died of an infection….not the cancer. Some may say she wouldn’t have had the infection had she not had the cancer but the immunotherapy was shrinking the cancer.

Part of me wonders: What more could I have done to prevent the infection? If only I had…… (made everyone wear masks 24-7, watched her drains closer so she didn’t keep pulling them out, fought harder for her last two treatments of immunotherapy that she missed, done more, etc) maybe Lori would still be here.

When I have shared those guilty thoughts with others – I was asked the question… Do I believe in the sovereignty of God? Did I believe that I could change God’s will for her life? After all, He knows the numbers of our days just as He knows the number of hairs on our heads.

Okay… I really absorbed that and tried to process those feelings… because I do believe God is all-knowing and I do believe God is a good God.

SO if that’s true…then here comes Part 2 of my dilemma:

Part 2 of my Dilemma:
So – if we really believe that God’s will – will be done – regardless of why His will was what it was – – why would my prayers for complete healing here on earth matter?

Lori may save more people in her death than in her living. I’m not debating whether God will work all things out for the good of others. I’m not debating that it was His will for her to go now.

BUT – He already knew how long she and Diane were going to live. He knew the number of their days. I believe He even cried with us.


On the one hand – I could think I didn’t pray enough. And someone would say – God is sovereign. Don’t beat yourself up. Everything is in God’s hands. When it’s our time – it’s our time.

But if I shouldn’t feel guilty that I didn’t pray all day and all night long – then did any of my prayers throughout the past year (specifically for healing on earth) even matter at all?

Am I praying for healing in hopes that I get closer to God? In that case the prayers are really for me.

Or am I praying for healing because I really believe I can change God’s mind? Wouldn’t He already know that He’s gonna change His mind regardless – if He knows our forecast for the future?

Does that make sense at all?

I’ve been searching deep within the Word. I’ve read more books than I can count in the past few months trying to find some sort of peace over this.

I have no problem asking God to give me strength. I have no problem asking for God to protect others. But several people have asked me to pray for healing (on earth) for their loved one…and I’m so confused about whether I believe it even matters.

I’m truly looking for your honest and sincere feedback.

Perhaps it’s a question that just can’t be answered until I see the face of Jesus. I accept the not knowing. But I went to nursing school and not Bible College… I haven’t quite mastered my understanding of the Bible.

When someone asks me to pray for them – I take it very seriously. I won’t say yes if I don’t mean it. I learned that from the Haitians. They won’t offer to pray if they don’t believe in it. I’m just not sure what I believe now….


Posted in Mission Stories

Prayer Requests for Rosie & Malaya…

Friday afternoon, Malaya’s primary doctor and dermatologist worked together and came up with a “likely” diagnosis for all of her weird health issues.

So, Saturday we began our long series of tests to see if she has Cushing’s Syndrome.

They took 9 tubes of blood on Saturday. Later this week, she’ll have an MRI to see if she’s got a pituitary tumor in the back part of her brain. Then they’ll do a CT scan of her chest/abdomen. They will also admit her in the hospital for 24-hours so they can draw blood levels throughout the day/night.

Last week, we found out that Rosie’s scoliosis is continuing to grow roughly 5% a year and it will be debilitating for her as she gets older. Her curve is already over 50%. There’s concern that as the curve continues to grow – it could put pressure on her lungs.  She will NEED corrective surgery.

Because we can’t get insurance on her and she’s not a US citizen – it’s been EXTREMELY difficult finding a surgeon willing to operate. We have reached out to Shriners and MANY other medical facilities/programs without any luck.

I’m not gonna lie… I’m feeling very frustrated/overwhelmed/confused that we have to even think about these things with all that we’ve already been through this year.

We appreciate your prayers for peace, strength, patience, wisdom, and answers as we trudge through these rough waters.