Our First Week in St. Kitts

We have been in St. Kitts for a little more than a week but it feels like we left home ages ago!

What Living in St. Kitts Means So Far…

A constant breeze…

Keeping the windows open all day and night…

Power outages every few days…

Lizards, centipedes and monkeys…

Swimming in January…

Island time…

Paying more for just about everything…

Learning to relax…

Monday…

Last Monday we flew out of Miami around lunch time and had a great flight. It was Maddy’s first flight and we weren’t exactly sure how she would do. We loaded her up with toys, gave her a window seat and charged her DVD player. Turns out, she had a blast! She even took an hour long nap!

Before we left home we discovered there were some issues regarding customs. We purchased a one-way ticket and were told getting into the country without a return ticket was going to be hairy. We were expecting a mess when we arrived. However, when the guy handling our paperwork found out we were missionaries, he stamped our passports and let us through without any issues!

We were taken to our new home where we briefly met with our board chairman and vice chairman. We had a little time to settle in and then Brandon Grayson (he and his family are missionaries here from the US) took us to the grocery store to stock up on a few things. Afterwards, Maddy got to meet Audri, the Grayson’s daughter, who is the same age as Maddy and their first words to each other were,¬†Maddy: “Audri is a ballerina!” Audri: “No. I’m Cinderella!” Maddy is very excited to be playing with another princess ūüėČ

Tuesday…

On Tuesday Sean got our island cell phones hooked up and scheduled an appointment with The Cable (no really, that’s the name of the cable company!) to get our internet hooked up.¬†Maddy and I had a chance to spend some time at the Grayson’s home so she and Audri could play together. They had a lot of fun with each other but they also bicker and fight like sisters. Let’s just say their friendship is good for each other… especially for Maddy!

Wednesday…

We took the day easy. In fact, I can’t remember ever leaving the house! We were all still very tired from traveling and Maddy started running a small fever. ¬†It’s a good thing we stayed home because we had some special visitors! About seven monkeys decided to take over our yard most of the day! Maddy loved watching them play and eat (we did too).¬†And the day wouldn’t be complete without the power going out for a couple of hours!

Thursday…

Sean went into town in the morning and got his international driver’s license and to apply for a post office box. Later on in the day we went back to the grocery store. I made my first meal plan since living in Montgomery and made taco nachos for dinner! We knew that groceries here are much more expensive than back home but we were still shocked at the final price! It’s definitely something we’ll have to get used to for sure!

Friday…

We got our internet!!!!!

Saturday…

During breakfast the power went out and we discovered that whenever the power comes back on it will take two more hours before the internet returns as well. We went swimming and had dinner with the Johnson’s who are from Alabama and work at Ross University here in St. Kitts. Their son is also Maddy’s age and they really enjoyed playing together! When we got to their house we noticed both of them and Sean were wearing Auburn shirts!

Sunday…

We attended Caribbean Christian Fellowship which is a new church mainly for the Ross students and other¬†expatriates living in St. Kitts. The Johnsons and the Graysons are both very much involved with this church and we are looking forward to making lots of connections! (Next week we plan to attend a local church with our board chairman and of course we will be visiting lots of churches and making connections on the island). After church we went to the city center and took our prayer card pictures (which will be available soon). Sunday afternoon welcomed us with another power outage!¬†It was only off for a few minutes but of course, the internet didn’t return for two more hours.¬†In the evening I went to a ladies Bible study and the guys with children came over to our house with Sean and Maddy.

All in all, we are settling in very nicely. It truly is beginning to feel like home to us. We have found a vehicle and will likely be able to get it this week! The boxes we shipped from Mobile will be in Tuesday and we should be able to get them by the end of the week. As soon as we are able to unpack all of our things I’m sure it will really feel like home to us!

Please pray for us to get our vehicle this week… it would help out tremendously! Also, please pray that we will not have to pay a lot (or anything at all) to get our boxes from the port. The taxes can be fairly steep but other missionaries have been able to collect their things without paying anything. The extra money is definitely needed! And please pray for our support. We still need to be at 100% and will continue trying to raise our support from here in St. Kitts.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been praying for us!! We are so thrilled to be here and we can’t wait to get to work!

** Here is our mailing address in case anyone wants to send us care packages full of goodies! How is that for a not-so-subtle hint?

Sean and Mandi Miller

PO Box 2357

Basseterre, St. Kitts

St. Kitts and Nevis

 

Bye!!

Wednesday morning we found out we were at 95% of our support which meant we were finally approved to go!!

On Monday January 23rd we will fly from Miami to St. Kitts where we will be for the next two years! (Although, we are planning to come home for a few weeks during Christmas).

Today we are bringing all of our boxes and other things to a trucking company near Mobile where they will be driven to Miami and then shipped by boat to St. Kitts.

On Friday we will make sure our suitcases are completely packed and we will pick up a rental car.

Saturday we are driving down to southern Florida (Ft. Pierce) to stay with some friends. The drive takes 11 hours without kids. ūüėČ It will probably take us about 13 hours or so!

Monday morning we will drive to Miami, drop off our rental and fly to St. Kitts!

Our flight is scheduled to arrive at 3:20pm (or 1:20 central time).

We are very excited but really nervous too! There are still some issues that need to be worked out with customs and the board chairman in St. Kitts is trying to get it all straightened out. It doesn’t affect us going there on Monday but we might have an interesting time trying to get through customs!

Next week we will be trying to get a vehicle, getting internet hooked up in our home, going to the grocery store for the first time, getting cell phones with a St. Kitts number and figuring out how to live with just our suitcases! (Thankfully our home is fully furnished so we will obviously be fine).

In the meantime here are a few big prayer requests we have:

– Travel safety (driving and flying)

– For us to not have any issues with Customs in St. Kitts (that they will let us in without a problem)

– For our belongings to arrive safely and quickly

– That we will not be charged a lot of money (taxes) to pick up our things from the port.

– For all of us, especially Maddy, to adjust to life in St. Kitts quickly

 

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support! We truly can’t express how much we appreciate your partnership!

As soon as we get internet we will update again!

Bye for now! “See” you in St. Kitts!

Pictures of our House

When we were in St. Kitts this November we found a house that was perfect for us just a few hours before we left! Recently we paid our deposit and signed the lease! We are now officially paying rent for our home in St. Kitts!!!

All of this makes us even more eager to get there. It’s so wonderful to know we have a place… our place… waiting for us as soon as we get to the country.

It’s a two bedroom/two bathroom apartment in a two story home. One family is renting the top floor and we are renting the bottom. It’s fully furnished but we are bringing a few things anyway… like our coffee maker, casserole dish, mop and other things that make life a little easier.

Our living room is a decent size and fits three chairs and a love seat! If you had seen the size of other living rooms we looked at you would understand how big this one really is. We are especially going to enjoy the big flat screen tv you see. ūüôā

Our Living Room

Here is a view of our dining room with a table that fits eight chairs! This is a huge blessing because many of the places we looked at had “dining tables” that would only fit three chairs.

Our Dining Room

And here is a picture of both the living room and dining room. Notice the french doors with burglar bars? Now we can keep our doors and windows open while we are home (to catch the breeze) and not worry about people walking into our house…

Living Room and Dining Room

Our kitchen has LOTS of storage as you can see! Check out our sink… I’ll be bringing a dish pan or something to soak our dirty dishes. I’ve honestly never seen a single sink like that! And in case you are wondering about a dishwasher… nope… we don’t have one. We can do without a dishwasher but we are grateful to have a washer and dryer!

Our Kitchen

There are two bedrooms… and we will be bringing our own bedding. It will make the place feel more like “us”.

Bedroom One

Bedroom Two

We have two bathrooms but only have one picture. However, they basically look the same. One of the bathrooms also has the dryer in it. Hey, I don’t care where they put it… I am thankful to have one! There aren’t any bathtubs so Maddy will have to learn to shower. Hopefully that will go over well.

Our Bathroom

Sean will probably be working at home for the first few months and there is a desk in the hallway just for him.

Our Desk

Other great features of our house are that it’s on the Atlantic side of the island which means we get a constant breeze from the ocean to cool our house, we have our own dedicated driveway and our yard has a coconut tree, an almond tree and basil plants!

We love this house and can’t wait to move in! Plus, it will be nice not to live out of our suitcases for a while!

St. Kitts Trip Recap

We had a wonderful time in St. Kitts this November 2nd – 11th! Although we missed Maddy very much (she stayed back in the States) we were able to meet a lot people, see much of St. Kitts and Nevis and get familiar with the work of CEF. I’ll warn you though… this post is going to be long!

Child in Sandy Point

The Timeline

Wednesday:

We were up and traveling to the Pensacola airport early Wednesday morning… 4:30am to be exact! After connecting in Miami we landed in St. Kitts around 2pm in the afternoon. We were in awe of how beautiful the country is with it’s mountains and bright blue ocean! It was almost surreal to know we were finally there, standing in a place we had only read about for months!

On the way to the place we were staying we noticed a blending of the “old” and “new”. A cruise ship was in the port yet we dodged a herd of goats on the main road… something we had never seen in America!

Wednesday evening we attended a local women’s bible study at a church. Sean was able to share about us and we all participated in CEF’s World Day of Prayer! We got our first taste of island life in St. Kitts when the power went off! Investing in surge protectors is definitely on our “moving” list!

View from Brimstone Hill

Thursday:

We ate lunch with another American missionary family, the Graysons, who are in St. Kitts permanently as they minister to the people in many ways. Their daughter is only two days older than Maddy! We are really looking forward to building a strong friendship with this family!

Thursday evening we were able to attend the National Board meeting. We met all of the members and had an opportunity to socialize. The board has only been formed for a few months but they really “get it”. They have a strong desire to see all of the children reached and really see themselves as the leaders of CEF in St. Kitts and Nevis. We are truly excited about our partnership with them and we see great things happening because of their willingness to work!

Black Rocks

Friday:

We began the morning by house hunting… which is fun anywhere but is REALLY fun in another country! We found a great house that morning… it was huge, had a great view (but 80% of the country has a great view since it is an island afterall) and even had fruit trees… but… it was too far from town.

In the evening we attended a pastors and children’s leaders conference, with about 40 people! This was a time when Sean got to introduce himself to many of the churches we will be working with and answer their questions about CEF.

Brimstone Hill View2

Saturday:

Tour day!!! Nigel, the board chairman, picked us up before lunch and took us on a tour of St. Kitts! We went just about everywhere! The highlight for Sean was going to Brimstone Hill and for me (Mandi) it was stopping in Sandy Point for a barbecued chicken leg, johnny cake and Ting from a roadside grill. And I don’t mean¬†restaurant… I mean a person who set up his grill on the side of the road! Delicious!

Saturday evening Nigel took us to a popular restaurant called Fisherman’s Wharf and it was amazing! We will not be lacking in good food, that’s for sure!

Sean at Brimstone Hill

Sunday:

We attended the Saddlers Pentecostal Church where Sean was given about five minutes to introduce himself and CEF. The vice chairman for the national board is an elder at this church and his father-in-law is the pastor. We met a lot of people and had a great time. Afterwards we were invited to lunch at the pastor’s home and we really got to know the family. Plus, they fed us very well! ūüôā

In the evening we got a call about a house and we decided to take a look at it right then. It was the best option so far and we really liked it! The house was in a quiet neighborhood and had almost everything we were looking for. It quickly went to the top of our list!

A Black Sand Beach

Monday:

Monday morning we packed our overnight bags and rode the ferry to Nevis. We sat in the front of the boat, in the sun, without sunscreen. Luckily we didn’t burn too bad but we learned to carry sunscreen with us at all times.

Nevis is smaller and calmer than St. Kitts. A board member from Nevis gave us a tour and we were struck with it’s beauty! There is a mountain in the middle of the island and tons of great beaches all around! We quickly decided that we would come to Nevis once every month or so to spend the day at the beach!

In the evening we attended another pastors and children’s leaders conference just like the one in St. Kitts. Sean was again able to share about us and CEF, and answer questions about how the churches can get involved. Afterwards, we stopped in for some Chinese food (in the Caribbean!) and slept in our air-conditioned guest room!

View of South Peninsula and Nevis

Tuesday:

After a good breakfast we packed our bags and headed to the government headquarters in Nevis. We met with the official in charge of the Youth and Social Development. The crime in both St. Kitts and Nevis is a major concern for everyone so the country is very open to Christian programs for children. He not only wants to work with us but he has given CEF access to every community center in Nevis to have Good News Clubs! Praise God!

After lunch we caught the ferry back to St. Kitts… this time we sat in the shade.

Tuesday evening we had dinner with the Johnsons, a young couple working at Ross University in St. Kitts. They have a son a little older than Maddy and they are from Alabama! It was great connecting with them and enjoying some grits and sweet tea!

Monkey in St. Kitts

Wednesday:

We met up with a local real estate agent who had a few houses to show us. All of the places we looked at were nice but we still weren’t sure. None of them beat the house we had seen on Sunday evening.

In the afternoon we met with two government officials in St. Kitts who are over youth programs and education. Both of them endorsed CEF and also gave us access to the schools! They also shared a great desire to see CEF in every single elementary school as quickly as possible! Praise God for open doors!

Church in Bassaterre

Thursday:

This was our free day and what else would we want to do but go to the beach?! The Graysons took us to Cockelshell Beach and it was wonderful! Not only did we get to hang out with them all day but the beach was really nice. The sand is golden brown and the water was the bluest blue I have ever seen! The water was too cloudy to snorkel that day but we will have plenty of opportunities over the next two years.

The beach had a great and inexpensive restaurant that served cheeseburgers! And we were seated in a booth with a University of Alabama flag hanging right by us… much to Sean’s “delight”. He is packing an Auburn flag to bring to the restaurant when we go back in January.

After soaking up some rays all day we stopped in at Rituals Coffee Shop just in time for a power outage! While we were waiting we met Kim Collins, a world famous track Olympian from St. Kitts!

KFC in St. Kitts

Friday:

We fit in one last real estate agent Friday morning and we were so glad we did! Every house she showed us was amazing! However, one in particular was perfect for us! In fact, we put in an offer (rental offer) that afternoon! As I type this we are negotiating the lease but it looks like we will be living there in just over a month! When we get there I will be sure to take pictures of it!

After lunch we packed our bags and headed to the airport.

We got there a little early and we were standing in line when we found out our flight was delayed almost two hours!

We both read… a lot… as we waited for our plane.

When it finally arrived and everyone was seated, the pilot announced that a passenger didn’t think she would make her connection in Miami (even though they assured her she would) and wanted off the plane. So they had to dig through all of the luggage that was already below the plane so she could get off… causing about half of the other passengers to indeed miss their connections.

Luckily we had a three hour layover so after going through passport control and customs we made it to our gate a few minutes before take off! We were the LAST ones to board our plane but we made it!

We arrived at Sean’s parents home around midnight, tired and suffering from travel whiplash.

Another View of Brimstone Hill

So there is the whole trip! We are very excited about working in St. Kitts and Nevis and we are ready to get back!

 

$10,500 Dollar Match!

We got an email last week from a couple who has decided to give a match to our one-time expenses for up to $10,500 dollars! Praise the Lord!

We currently need to raise $21,000 dollars in one-time gifts just to live in St. Kitts. It sounds like a lot… and it is… but if you consider everything you would need to move to another country you will see how quickly everything adds up.

Some of the money is needed to:

РShip some of our things to St. Kitts (not everything will fit in our suitcases!)

– Travel to and from the country

– Buy a car

– Lots and lots of ministry expenses

And of course, everything in St. Kitts is double and sometimes triple the cost here in America! A car that costs $6,000 here will cost $12,000 there!

 

So please pray for people to give generously toward this match. We would love to have all of our one-time expenses taken care of as soon as possible. We still need to raise $2,200 dollars in monthly support but it would be wonderful to just focus on one thing.

We feel so blessed to have this opportunity. Support raising always seems to be one of the biggest confirmations to us about God’s call. Each time someone gives to our support it’s like God is saying to us,¬†“I am providing for you because I want you there”.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support! We truly appreciate them! You can give toward the match or a recurring monthly gift by following the instructions here. Also, please Tweet, Facebook and pass this information on so we can get the full amount of matching funds!