Pushing Ahead

Posted Apr 07, 2011 by 12 Comments

Since the middle of last year I have written several times about a remarkable family called the Elliotts.  Aaron, Shelli and their three children Isabel, Sydney and Sitota are currently in the middle of a year-long adventure in Chambrun, Haiti working with Nehemiah Vision Ministries.

Although they are by most accounts a standard suburban American family, they have been following the Path of Yes for many years.  Saying “yes” to God so consistently has led them to some interesting and unexpected places.  Apart from taking numerous short term trips all over the world, Aaron and Shelli recently took the huge step of adopting an Ethiopian orphan and are now living in Haiti for a full year.


From left, Isabel, Sydney and Sitota.

While I was down in Haiti writing about NVM’s child sponsorship program, I had the chance to catch up with the Elliotts and to see where this current adventure has taken them…

Worn Out

When Aaron and Shelli picked me up at the airport, I could tell that they were worn out.  After four months in-country (three and a half of which were spent living in a tent!), they looked just plain exhausted.

As we drove out to Chambrun together, I began to understand why.

On the ministry front, Aaron and Shelli have helped to organize and train a ton of short term trip teams from the U.S. and Canada.  In the first 10 weeks of their stay, they hosted, taught, cooked for and debriefed over 350 people!  Having traveled with many high-maintenance American teams myself, I know how exhausting this can be…  :-)

Aaron himself has made countless trips to the airport to pick up new teams, often making the trip three times in one day.  Sometimes it takes 45 minutes to get to the airport.  Other times it takes 2 hours.  Oh, and one time Aaron had to charge through a roadblock set up by angry protesters who were throwing things… You know. The usual.

There is lots of room for the kids to run around, but somehow they still manage to have a ton of extra energy…

The Kids

And then there are the kids.

Along with Shelli’s responsibilities with visiting teams, she is homeschooling Isabel and Syndey and trying to maintain a healthy family in the middle a developing country.  And although the girls work hard and usually have good attitudes, meltdowns and tantrums do happen from time to time.

But those normal emotional outbursts are nothing compared to what Sitota is capable of.  He really is a tornado.   In total “boy” fashion, Sitota manages to hit, deface or destroy just about everything he touches.  One time he poured nail polish all over their TV.  If Sitota isn’t happy in time-out, he’ll let everyone know.

Let’s just put it this way: raising children in a place like Chambrun is no easy task, no matter which country you’re from.

A Sunday Drive

All of this came to a head last month when the Elliotts went to the Dominican Republic border to renew their visas.

When these kids get back to “normal” life, they will never be the same!

Their leisurely drive was cut short when they came across a major tap-tap accident (a form of public transportation).  With the help of local police, they had to rush the crash victims back to the NVM clinic in Chambrun.

After things were under the control of the clinic staff, they began their journey again.  This time, they faced car-sickness, lots of sibling pestering and one complaint after another of thirst, hunger, exhaustion, etc.

The border was chaos.  Trucks everywhere trying to get into Haiti, lots of sketchy people asking them for their passports and for money, fights breaking out right next to them…  It was overwhelming.  Getting their passports stamped took around three hours.

When they finally returned to Chambrun that afternoon they were exhausted, frustrated and emotionally spent.


With all of these difficult and emotionally draining experiences, I think it’s natural to ask if it’s really worth it for the Elliotts to be in Haiti.  Wouldn’t it be easier for them to just go home and have someone else do the work?

Well, after spending a week with them, I think I know the answer.  Yes. It would be a lot easier for them to give up and go home.  But that is not what they are called to do.

Pastor Pierre, director of NVM, goes on and on about Aaron and Shelli.  “I have never seen someone so willing to just come and serve here,” he said about Aaron.  “Most Americans come in with their agendas and their plans, but Aaron simply comes in with open hands.”

It’s not difficult to understand why he feels that way.  With Aaron and Shelli taking over the responsibilities of caring for visiting teams, Pastor Pierre is free to pursue his own calling of growing his ministry.

Shelli and Aaron, we are all impressed with your bravery. Keep it up!!!

Because of Aaron and Shelli, Nehemiah Vision Ministries is better able to pull the village of Chambrun out of poverty.  Although it may feel difficult and overwhelming from time to time, they are directly helping the lives of impoverished Haitians every day.


I don’t know about you, but when I hear stories of brave Christ followers like Aaron, Shelli and the kids, I am inspired to push ahead with my own calling even more.  Although they have faced many bumps in the road, they are moving forward, trusting that God will be there to meet them.

I want to live my life like that.

So keep on pushing ahead, Elliotts.  We believe in you!

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Next Steps
    • The Elliotts read the articles on World Next Door, so feel free to leave an encouraging comment for them below!
    • If you’d like to follow their adventures, subscribe to their blog, http://haitielliotts.blogspot.com/
    • Please continue to pray for the Elliotts as they move closer to the half-way mark. There are undoubtedly many more bumps in the road ahead, but with our prayers they will be able to make it the rest of the way!
    • Next Steps

About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.

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  1. Deanna said... 


    April 7th, 2011 at 8:46 pm  

    YEAH Elliotts!!!!

  2. Dave Rod said... 


    April 7th, 2011 at 9:27 pm  

    Just spent the weekend with them in Haiti. They are truly remarkable people. They have weathered a relentless environment at great personal cost. I am proud to know they represent our church and the Kingdom of God.

    Please continue to pray for them.

  3. Robin said... 


    April 8th, 2011 at 6:17 am  

    May God continue to bless your ministry!- I pray that I too can continue to be YES person.

  4. Steve B said... 


    April 8th, 2011 at 8:39 am  

    Being able to call Aaron and Shelli friends is truly one of the greatest blessings Julie and I have ever experienced. If you don’t have a family like the Elliott’s in your life, go find one.

    Aaron and Shelli – We continue to pray of you and miss you much. Please know not only are you making a huge difference there, you are also making a huge difference here by continuing to go through life with a posture of yes.

  5. Kristen said... 


    April 8th, 2011 at 8:59 am  

    Shelli and Aaron, you truly are an inspiration to everyone here. All of us “suburbanites” are moved by your heroic efforts in Haiti.

    Thank you for being the best role models a sister could ask for. We will continue to pray for you guys. We miss you so very much and can’t wait to come visit your home in Haiti this August!

  6. sara said... 


    April 8th, 2011 at 9:04 am  

    We are continually inspired by the Elliotts – thank you for sharing their story well, Barry!

  7. Curtis Honeycutt said... 


    April 8th, 2011 at 9:05 am  

    We love Aaron and Shelli!

  8. Curtis Honeycutt said... 


    April 8th, 2011 at 9:07 am  

    …and Isabel, Sydney, and Sitota.

    …and, in a way, Kofe.

  9. Catherine Bell said... 


    April 8th, 2011 at 10:48 am  

    Thanks for giving us such an honest picture of their challenges, Barry. Aaron has alluded to them – the challenges and the accomplishments – but it does take someone else to give us this kind of specific. Keeps us praising and praying! For you too …

  10. Jim.M said... 


    April 8th, 2011 at 6:09 pm  

    I have told the Elliott story many times since last fall, as I am sure others have done.

    Each time the listener is shocked that an entire family would make such a dramatic move.

    Each time it is an opening to discuss Spirit led Kingdom living with the person listening.

    Each time I am reminded of what it is to live by faith.

    Each time I am reminded how God provides.

    Each time I wonder what this world would be like if only we would all say yes to His call.

    Thanks Aaron, Shelli.

    Thanks Barry for showing us more.

  11. Amy Armitage said... 


    April 8th, 2011 at 7:35 pm  

    Truly inspiring couple, definitely gives me that push to know I need to and can be doing more in choosing to live by faith every day.

    Praying for you, Aaron, Shelli and your beautiful children. What a challenging, yet rewarding and life changing experience.

  12. Pat Pfeifer said... 


    April 9th, 2011 at 8:31 pm  

    Aaron, Shelli and family – We love you and are so proud of you. Shelli, let Grandma & Grandpa spoil the kids while you get rested up. We’ll be praying for all of you! Much love, Bob & Pat

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