Alumni Voices | Katie Glafcke (Marquette `06)

Katie Glafcke (Marquette `06) and her husband Matt made a monumental decision for their family of seven of last year.  After prayer and discernment, Katie and Matt decided to become full-time lay Catholic missionaries serving abroad.  With their five children, including baby Daniel, the family embarked on the formation process, a time of preparation for the adventure they were called to undertake.  After months of formation, the Glafckes landed in Haiti to begin their mission work.  Read this reflection from Katie to get a glimpse of life as a family of missionaries.

We were not born in Haiti

So much of this new life is simply baffling. Day and night my mind is overcome with thoughts and reflections as I desperately try to understand and process how to live in Haiti.

There are powerlines and yet no public power. There is a cell tower and yet no consistent cell service. The girls’ new favorite Haitian oxymoron: There is a library, but no one is permitted to check out any books.

Just this week we traveled an hour outside of L’Asile to a remote village called Roche Plate. The land was completely different than any other place we have been in Haiti so far. The dirt road was smooth, the river we crossed collected in bends deep enough to swim, herds of buxom horses grazed. Pristine. Glorious. Peaceful.

It stands in stark contrast to the harsh, chaotic and rubbish-filled environment that is our new day-to-day.  In L’Asile we are surrounded by concrete, noisy motos, and scrawny donkeys and scrappy goats that wander aimlessly picking through the trash that lies strewn about everywhere. Even the river that rings the town looks more like a dried up canyon, pock marked with human debris of every sort.

We traveled to that remote village to visit a young family with newborn triplets. They live in a small two-room stone house built by the grandfather. The roof is thatched with palm branches. There is no window, no running water and no power. They cook their meals outside in a pot perched on a few large rocks. Despite the meagerness of their home, it is immaculately clean. Pure white sheets cover their beds and the dirt floor is swept spotless. 

The triplets are about 3 weeks old. They were born inside their home. The grandfather helped deliver them. They are tiny, but seem to be thriving. How can this be?

Here we are, closing in on 12 weeks into our new life in Haiti. We are renting a spacious, bright concrete home with tile floors. We rely on Haitians to deliver our water, wash our clothes and cook us a healthy meal each day. And yet, most days we are scarcely surviving.  How can this be?

We were not born in Haiti! 

Of course I wasn’t. I was born in Milwaukee at St. Joseph’s hospital. I grew up loved and cared for by both my parents. The only time I went to bed hungry was due to my stubborn will, when I refused to eat whatever was set before me.  

I attended Catholic school from age 5 to 22. School is more than books and homework, projects and exams. I was immeasurably blessed by the teachers, mentors and peers who encouraged me and helped me to learn and understand how to succeed in our world. Work hard. Believe in yourself. Be independent.

After graduating from Marquette University, I settled into life as a wife and mother. We saved up and eventually bought a home in the suburbs. Matt’s business flourished and our family continued to grow. All those years of hard work had paid off. We were living a comfortable life.

And yet, something was missing. Not something. Someone.

Jesus was pursuing us.

Yes, Matt and I had been raised Catholic and dutifully attended mass on Sunday. But Jesus isn’t interested in dutiful obedience. Jesus desires our hearts. He longs for a relationship with us.

Just like any healthy relationship, things didn’t change all at once. Slowly over the course of months, we began to hear Jesus speaking to us through Scripture. Repent and believe. Follow me. Be not afraid.   

So here we are now.

A husband, wife and five young children, living in Haiti. We are still figuring out this new life. But we are confident in the Lord.  He knows we are struggling to learn the language, to stay hydrated, to make friends and feel at home. Afterall, we are not Haitian.

We are the Glafcke Family. We have been called to share the love of Christ with the people of Haiti. 

 If you're interested in following along with their journey, follow the Glafcke's blog Laughter is the Key.