By Rosemary K. Otzman
John and Jamie Fox of Sumpter Township and their two sons, Hunter, 14, and Logan, 12, are leaving for the Dominican Republic as soon as possible to spend at least a year there helping children.
Their rescued pit bull Rocky will be going, as well.
The Foxes have their house up for sale. They sold most of their personal possessions in a big sale last fall and pulled their children out of Keystone Academy to start them on home schooling with an accredited online program.
Jamie said in 2012, she, John, and Hunter went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic with Ron Schubert of Harvest International Ministries of Farmington Hills.
John didn’t want to go, but Jamie said she didn’t know if she and Hunter would be safe without him. He grudgingly joined the group and it changed the rest of his life.
“There is immense poverty, like you’ve never seen,” John said. “It wrecked your heart.”
Jamie said her husband cried the whole time he was there on that visit because of all the heartbreaking circumstances.
The family went out in the village with rice and beans and also passed out hygiene packs, school supplies and backpacks. They played games with the children.
They will be taking mission teams out. People come from all over the world to help and a team from Australia is due next week. A vocational training facility will be set up.
“We were invited to go and then we invite someone and hope they get the vision,” John said.
John is a laborer and equipment operator for Canton Township. He applied for a leave of absence, but it was denied because Canton never did that before.
He said once the house sells, he’ll put in his two-week notice. Most of his coworkers think he is crazy to leave a good job – but some support his plan.
“We have a strong faith,” John said. “God provided that job and will provide another.
“We had planned to be there this week,” John said, adding they had an offer on their house, but it fell through.
Jamie couldn’t be happier that her husband now is so enthusiastic about the project which will help build an orphanage for children. He and his sons have been to the Dominican Republic twice more after that first visit, but Jamie stayed home because she was working to become a registered nurse. She finished her boards in September.
The project is Restoration Ranch, which is being built on a 20-acre mango farm in the southern part of the island. The farm and orphanage is owned by Danny and Denise Stone, who have been there 17 years. There are no children at the ranch yet and the Foxes will be the first house parents.
“I had a dream one night years ago that we were going to work in an orphanage,” Jamie recalled. “I never forgot it and now it’s happening.”
John said their sons also are enthusiastic about helping the children. In fact, Hunter told them if they didn’t take up their offer for the mission, he would go there himself as soon as he was 18.
“I wanted to stress that we feel this is a divine calling we have,” Jamie said. “This is not something we are doing of ourselves. There is NO way we would be leaving our friends and family and all of the comforts of home unless we were called to do this.”
Jamie McCall graduated from Belleville High School in 1986. She is the daughter of Jewell McCall of Sumpter. John grew up in Detroit and they met at a singles retreat at Belleville Church of God and have been married 20 years. He is the son of Larrie and Tanice Fox, also of Sumpter.
John said his parents are just getting used to the idea that he and his family are leaving for a year. It hasn’t been easy for them all because the boys used to be able to cut through the woods to get to their grandparents’ home for frequent visits.
Because she didn’t want to start a nursing job and then leave, Jamie has been working in dental hygiene and as a patient companion at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.
The Foxes will be living in a town called El Cruce de Ocoa.
The Dominican Republic shares an island with Haiti, which was devastated by an earthquake five years ago. There are 10.3 million people on the island and 240,000 of them are homeless children, Jamie said.
John said the north part of the island is the “plush of the plush” but just six hours away the south part is the “area that time forgot.” He said the housing there has thatched roofs, tin walls, and dirt floors – and many street children.
John said the family has given the project a one-year commitment, but they may stay longer.
“They evaluate us and we evaluate the mission after a year and then decisions will be made,” John said.
Fund raising here at home is on-going. They go to churches and offerings are taken. Some people commit to give monthly and some give one-time donations, Jamie said.
They need lots of help and are reaching out to the community.
Those wishing to help with the project are invited to send donations to the church at: Harvest International Ministries, 23233 Drake Road, Farmington, 48335. For more information on the work, see www.abouthim.net . To contact the Foxes email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
By Rosemary K. Otzman