Q: Tell us a little about yourselves for those who don’t know you yet.
Anachemy: Hello, hopefully this section helps you get a better idea of the person Nick is getting ready to sign his life over to.
I was born in Haiti and immigrated to New Jersey with my Daddy and oldest sister when my sister was 6 years old and I was 4.
When we immigrated, my sister and I were the only two children my parents had. However, over the years our family has expanded to 7.
My parents moved to the States with the intention of our family obtaining the "American Dream". I attended school, graduated from college and went on to pursue a Masters in Educational Leadership. However, while in the process of obtaining the "American Dream," God had a better nontraditional plan for me.
Nick: My story began in France where my parents were living when I was born. They moved back to Kansas when I was about 4 years old, where I have lived most my life since. Kansas is a quiet, conservative state, and a nice place to call home.
My parents had five kids and I’m the middle child.
After graduating college from Wichita State University, I worked several years as an engineer at Cessna. After that I did some travelling. Upon returning, I decided to move overseas to Haiti to live and serve.
Q: How did you end up coming and working in Haiti?
I have always known that someday I wanted to go back and serve in Haiti. Because God had blessed my family with the opportunity to come to America and have access to quality education and a better life, I believed He may one day have me return to help those less fortunate and give back to the children there. I’ve always known there was great need in Haiti and thought, “Who is going to help?”
Fast forward to my senior year of college. I was the Student Government Association President with a great job as a research scientist waiting for me upon graduation (the American Dream). While serving as President, I was entrusted to deliver a speech at our annual academic convocation to the college community. The keynote speaker at the convocation was New York Times Best-Selling author Mitch Albom (“Tuesdays with Morrie”). This was in Fall, 2011.
Finally, the time came for me to speak and I nervously pretended to be full of confidence and grace. Little did I know, God was in the midst of things and about to direct my life on a new course. As the author was preparing to leave early, I was walking to the podium. In the intro of my speech I mentioned being Haitian, and this caught Albom’s attention and he sat back down to listen. Minutes after finishing my speech, I was informed the author wanted to speak with me. I had no idea why and could only remember thinking, “Oh no, what did I do now?”
As it turned out, one of Albom’s charities is an orphanage in Haiti. He wanted to know if I would be interested in going there to teach?
Suddenly I had the opportunity to go and work in Haiti right out of college. This had literally come to me from nowhere, I wasn’t even thinking about Haiti, and I never imagined being there RIGHT after graduating. However, I believe God gave me this opportunity because it challenged my obedience and trust in Him.
During the months before giving this speech I had drifted from God to pursue academic success and goals versus continuing to grow in an intimate relationship with Him. As I saw myself in a position I didn’t desire to be, I remember crying out to God and telling him He was the captain of my ship and that I was finally ready to be obedient. I just had no idea being obedient would mean leaving everything familiar behind and pursuing a new life so foreign.
I felt conflicted about what to do. Should I obey what I felt God wanted (Haiti)? Or should I pursue what was preached in my household during my entire upbringing (The “American Dream”)? Should I accept the well-paying job in New Jersey that was the culmination of all my hard work in the science field?
As the semester went forward, I kept praying that God would give me guidance and confirmation. Through scripture, messages at church, and the input of people I respected, I came to a peace about packing my belongings and heading to Haiti.
In April, 2012 I went for a visit to the orphanage. Afterwards, I felt a stronger sense of peace. Now I had the courage to present my plans to my parents. On the trip, I fell in love with the children and what it could one day become.
Nick: There is no short answer to how I ended up in Haiti. I guess it all started when I was in my early twenties with several life-changing events (I’m 31 years old now):
The first was a health problem. My back got messed up because a slipped disc. This led to chronic pain for a year and culminated in a surgery which thankfully fixed the situation. However, after this I didn’t take my health for granted anymore and began taking a hard look at what I was doing with my life.
The second life-changing event was having Christian friends encourage me to consider the words of Jesus in the New Testament more literally. I began wrestling with passages such as Matthew 10:39, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” “What did this mean for me in 21st century America?” I wondered.
The third life-changing event was the reading of books that opened my eyes to the disparity of wealth in this world. Books like Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most by Wess Stafford that explained the plight of so many children worldwide. “Wow, the world is a big place with far more hurt and need than I ever knew existed,” I began thinking.
The fourth life-changing event was being offered an engineering job with the Indian company Mahindra Satyam. Working daily with engineers from India gave me my first true cross-culture experience. It also provided an opportunity to share Christ with people who knew nothing about Jesus Christ.
The fifth life-changing event came in June 2011 when I suddenly found myself in a situation where everything was ending: My job had ended. A relationship I had hoped would end in marriage ended. A program I had been signed up for was cancelled. Suddenly I was completely free, all options were open, and my bank account was full of five years worth of savings from working as an engineer. What should I do?
So I went a-travelling. I visited a number of countries, including several shorter trips to Haiti. There, I fell in love with children at an orphanage in Carrefour (not the one Anachemy works at). When I returned to America I decided I would like to attempt living overseas in a place with great material need. I felt a peace about Haiti, so I purchased a one-way ticket there and the rest is history!
Q: How did the two of you first meet each other?
Anachemy: Prior to meeting Nick, I had moved to Haiti to work as a school teacher for the orphaned and impoverished children at Have Faith Haiti Mission. I came solely to serve as a school teacher, but God had other plans. Little did I know I was entering the premises as a head teacher / building administrator / secretary and whatever else a school was required to function! What’s the saying? “People plan, God laughs.” You can imagine how hard God laughed.
Fast forward five months later to December 2012, and you have my first encounter with Nick, my now “soon to be groom.” He was the new driver for Heartline Ministries and was picking me up for Sunday morning church services at Port-au Prince Fellowship. This church is one of the few English speaking churches in the city and a place where missionaries, ex-Pats, visitors and locals gather to feast on the Word of God.
Nick: I arrived in Haiti in December 2012 and began volunteering with a non-profit called Heartline. One of my duties was driving a group of people to church each Sunday in Heartline’s 15-passenger van. Along the way we would pick up Anachemy at the orphanage where she worked because she needed a ride.
After services, Anachemy would sometimes come to the Heartline guesthouse to hang out for the afternoon or have lunch with us. So we initially got to know each other informally in a group setting.
As the months passed, the orphanage where she worked sometimes used me as a driver when they had fieldtrips for the kids. This provided other opportunities for me to observe her “in her element.” She is excellent with children!
Q: What are the first impressions you remember having of each other?
Anachemy: I thought Nick was a very nice and polite young man (definitely not from New Jersey), but I didn’t think there was any way we would ever be together.
I had been in Haiti without much interaction with other people my age from the States and thought Nick and I would have a lot we could talk about together. I thought he was someone whom I could be a friend with… or maybe just an acquaintance.
I did think he was interesting and wondered for how long he would be in Haiti? For sure it wasn’t love at first sight. It definitely wasn’t a sweet, romantic type of thing.
Over the first six months we knew each other there were no Sparks and neither of us had any interest in developing a courtship or relationship.
Nick: The very first time I met Anachemy she was standing outside the gate waiting for her ride. I remember thinking she was petite. My second impression, after hearing her speak, was that she was also soft-spoken. Little did I know then!
After a few weeks of her riding with us to church, I remember being impressed at how she always took the initiative to strike up a conversation with people sitting around her. So I picked up that she was also a friendly person, and proactive.
Q: Did you ever imagine you would find your future spouse in Haiti?
Anachemy: No! not at all! The thought never, ever, ever crossed my mind. I thought for as long as I was in Haiti I would be single. I didn’t even consider dating in Haiti.
My mom thought the same thing. She told me I wasn’t going to find anyone in Haiti and it was going to take me a lifetime to start a family. Especially since I had always said I would never marry a Haitian man. Trust me, I have my reasons why I didn’t want to marry a Haitian. I have too many bad examples as to why I should run away from one. While working in Haiti I have most certainly added some more items to my already long list of reasons as to why I should dodge a Haitian man. Haitian men, please don’t get offended, I am sure there are some good ones too.
Anyways, I could never have seen myself marrying a blond haired, blue eyed white man from Kansas either!
Nick: I didn’t imagine myself marrying a Haitian. If someone five years ago had told me this is what would happen, I would not have believed them.
I did think there was a chance I might find a missionary type girl in Haiti, perhaps one from the Midwest. When I had travelled overseas in the past I noticed there were far more single girls volunteering overseas than single guys.
Q: How did you go from acquaintances to falling in love?
Anachemy: I think when Nick went back to America that Fall I was already in love with him but didn’t know it yet. When Nick returned to America I felt like I was missing my best friend.
Several months later, after he returned to Haiti, I remember one particular night we were outside by his bike. I had on my blue dress and he asked me, “How do you know if you genuinely love a person?” I answered, “I don’t know.” Then he said, “I think it’s when we choose do right by that person regardless of what that may cost ourselves.”
Nick has always been concerned about doing the right thing towards me and I could tell it. This made a deep impression. I appreciated then and now how Nick doesn’t take advantage of my kindness or walk over me.
I believe that was that night I knew I was in love with him. But that wasn’t the night I knew he was The One!
Let’s see, that happened a bit later. We had been dating awhile and things were getting serious. We were in disagreement about how we saw our futures together. I remember one Sunday afternoon we came back to the orphanage after church and were still not in agreement. On that afternoon we prayed together. We often pray together, but this time was different. We knelt down on the floor and poured out our hearts to God. We both ended up crying! Words can’t express how we felt as we earnestly sought the Lord that day. Just being able to share that level of intimacy with Nick, and hearing him share with God the issues on his heart, I knew he was the one!
Secondly, I knew he was the one by how good he took care of me when I had the Chikungunya virus!
Nick: For me, considering Anachemy in a romantic sort of way was something that crept up on me. We were genuinely “just friends” at first.
A quick check of my e-mail shows that nine months after arriving in Haiti we had begun “talking frequently.” Somewhere in those nine months we went from acquaintances to close friends.
For several months I went to live in a fishing village with the intent to learn the language better. One day, Anachemy came out with several others to visit and bring a gift of lots of food, which was much appreciated. But what I remember most about that day was the conversation we had and how much I enjoyed talking with her. I realized there was more to this girl than I had given her credit for before.
After returning to Port-au Prince, the two of us had several more deep talks together and soon I was looking for excuses for us to be together or trying to find reasons I needed to call her on the phone. However, I still didn’t think of myself as being “In Love” with Anachemy. I was in denial!
It really sunk in that I was smitten with her after returning to the States that Fall. For the two months back in Kansas I missed Anachemy terribly!
Upon returning to Haiti, I asked her out for our first date and she said yes. I don’t think we ate much at the restaurant because we were too busy talking. We were there so late the restaurant finally kicked us out long after closing.
As things later progressed, one way Anachemy “reeled me in” was by never initiating things. Yes, she would let me know she was interested (sometimes in not-so-subtle ways), but she never phoned first, or e-mailed first, or initiated an outing first. She always left the leadership in my court. The fact she never chased me was very attractive, and if she had ever begun doing so I think I would have ended our budding romantic relationship. It was fun chasing her, and in the end it was especially nice that she let me catch her!
I agree with Anachemy that the afternoon where we both prayed and cried together was a turning point in our relationship. I think it was then we both knew we could make things work because, at the end of the day, we both are committed to centering our lives on God.
Q: Do you think God brought the two of you together?
Anachemy: Yes! I firmly do believe God has brought us together.
The year before Nick and I started dating, I had been in a bad position not following the Lord. Yet I knew I wanted to get things right between myself and God again.
Also, I had been disappointed and hurt by people. I remember specifically praying and asking God that He send me the person He had designed for me. I went in my bedroom and got on my knees and cried out to God. I came clean before Him and told him I wanted to get back on track (again, but this time fully committed). I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I put things before God and gave him my heart and asked Him to please send me someone who would love me, who would take care of me, who would pray with me, and who would lead me spiritually.
Then I prepared to wait a long, long time.
Later, as I got to know Nick, I realized God had answered my prayer! Nick exceeded the expectations and requirements I had asked of God. I felt like not only had God heard my prayer, he had acted on it and sent Nick. This makes me feel so blessed and favored by God. It makes me feel like I matter to Him. It makes me feel happy.
Nick is everything I’ve ever wanted in a guy. And he can put up with me… God bless him!
Nick: There is no doubt in my mind that God has been working in and through our relationship.
Before meeting Anachemy, my prayer was that God would send me a Daughter of His who would be a partner in life and would love me as much as I loved her. With Anachemy, that prayer has been more than answered.
While I don’t believe God has only one person picked out and that if we don’t find that perfect person we have forever missed the boat, at the same time, in this particular instance, I do firmly believe God was at work in the two of us coming together.
The way we complement each other, the way we inspire each other to center on God, the way our personalities mesh, the way I would never normally have considered Anachemy for a spouse because of our dissimilar backgrounds and race…. I’m convinced she is a better pick than I could have come up with on my own. Believe me, I’ve tried coming up with a few “picks” of my own before and those relationships were train wrecks. I can’t take credit for finding someone as special as Anachemy.
The “happenstance” that brought our two lives into contact with each other in the first place is pretty amazing, I think.
The reason I was picking up Anachemy for church in the first place was because Beth McHoul (Beth and her husband John are the founders of Heartline) had learned there was a young lady at an orphanage on Delmas 33 who desired to go to an English speaking church but didn’t have a ride.
How did Beth find that out? Because on a flight back to America Beth happened to sit next to a young lady (Laura Beth) who had just spent time volunteering at the orphanage Anachemy works at. The two of them got to talking. What’s more unusual is that both ladies had their seats changed on that flight! If the conversation between them hadn’t happened, it is possible Anachemy and I would never have met.
Do I think God orchestrated that meeting? Yes, I do.
Q: Anachemy, what is the craziest thing you’ve done with Nick since meeting him?
Anachemy: There have been so many crazy moments it would be hard to pinpoint just one. How about a list?
1. Driving into a lake… Something is to be said for leaving things to the imagination. Therefore, I will let your mind wonder on this one.
2. Being stuck in traffic four hours to go a measly four miles. Trust me, there is nothing desirable about that. However, add in the Haiti confusion, reckless drivers and insane motorcyclist and it made a good recipe for craziness.
3. An every-week-kinda-crazy: riding on the back of Nick’s motorcycle as I hold on to him and my helmet for dear life. Trust me, it’s not his driving, it’s the other drivers…maybe.
4. Missing our flight out of Haiti when going to visit his family at Thanksgiving. We flew stand-by all the way to Texas and it was quite an adventure.
5. Can you imagine a beautiful picnic underneath the stars on the edge of a cliff overlooking the lights of Port-au Prince? No, well we can help you arrange one in Haiti!
Q: Nick, do you have anything to add to that?
Nick: Just that we didn’t drive into a lake, per se, it was only a large body of water deep enough to stall our truck. And maybe deep enough for water to enter our doors and flood the floor…
Another experience we’ve done many times is purchase fruit from the open-air markets. Bartering over prices, having vendors yell at us, and walking down the street trying not to get run over by a car, qualifies as a crazy experience.
In all seriousness, there have been many opportunities for us to serve together in Haiti. Like providing a memorable Christmas for the children at the orphanage. Or distributing foods, shoes, and other items to the needy. Or working together at a dental clinic. Or volunteering at our church. For me, these are highlights of our relationship and our time in Haiti.
Q: Nick, how and when did you propose to Anachemy?
It was October last year. I had known for some time that Anachemy was the girl I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
I had always told myself that when it came time to ask a girl to marry me, I didn’t want there to be any doubt in my mind she would say “yes.” And with Anachemy, this was most certainly the case! If I hadn’t known for sure, I wouldn’t have asked her in front of others.
Anachemy had already somehow discovered that I had purchased an engagement ring and said ring was in Haiti. So she was waiting for the proposal. Not just waiting, she was prodding! The week before I proposed she asked, “Nick, I’m not going to tell you when to propose or anything, but could it please be in the next ten days?” I thought that was funny, but did end up proposing within the next ten days. She claims she doesn’t remember saying this.
I sprang the question one evening at the orphanage before the two of us left to go out on a dinner date. We don’t usually dress up to go out, but this evening I had suggested we do so and she had. I figured this would be a dead giveaway about my intentions, but she still seemed surprised later. Maybe it was because this happened on a Tuesday night and not a weekend, so her guard was down.
Before leaving the orphanage, we decided to first participate in evening devotions with the children. The devotion that night was about the difference between “happiness” and “joy.” After it was over, I added a few words about the importance of choosing to be joyful.
Then I transitioned to saying how much happiness AND joy Anachemy has brought me. I walked over to her, led her to the center of the pavilion where all the kids and staff were gathered around, and knelt down on one knee. There, I asked her to marry me. She kept nodding yes, but I wanted to hear her say “yes” before putting that ring on her finger! She did, so it was official. We had a romantic dinner date afterwards.
This picture was taken outside the restaurant that night:
Q: Anachemy, what were you thinking when Nick proposed? Were you surprised?
I wasn’t surprised that Nick did it, but how he did it. I was thinking, “Is this really happening? Oh my goodness, is this really happening?” I was in shock. I knew it was coming, but I didn’t know how it was coming.
I’m happy Nick proposed to me in front of others. I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t embarrassed or anything. At least, it wasn’t a bad kind of embarrassing. It was like an, “Oh. My. Goodness!!! Is this really happening!” kind of embarrassment.
I love all the children and staff and they love me. These are people who have watched our relationship blossom. I’m glad we were able to share that with them and they could see where a healthy dating relationship leads: marriage!
The proposal was cute, I really enjoyed how he did it. For me, it was like a fairytale. And just the way everything happened that night with the devotion beforehand and the date afterwards… I was happy!
Q: Nick, what things do you most appreciate about Anachemy?
Nick: Ahh, the list is so long! For sure what I appreciate most is her love for the Lord and her desire to do what is right and live her life by faith in God.
There are other things I appreciate too, such as her stunning beauty and attractiveness, her industriousness, intelligence, work ethic, generosity, love for me, tenacious can-do attitude, unfailing positive spirit, femininity, unique experiences, unending talents, seriousness of mind, a fun spirit, the way she complements me in so many ways, her listening ear, gentle touch, humility, openness to learn and think in new ways, ability to deal with children, and …. let’s not forget her fabulous cooking skills!
Anachemy is so different from myself that I find her endlessly fascinating. She is up for the challenge of being my wife, and I’m excited we get to share life together.
Q: After you get married, what is the plan?
Nick: We’re hoping to return to Haiti for the immediate future. Anachemy is planning to continue her role as principal/head teacher for the school at the Have Faith Haiti orphanage. I’m planning to work with the men’s discipleship group at Heartline while also volunteering at the orphanage.
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