By Mark Ellis
Her mother bore five children in five years, fell into post partum depression, then abandoned her husband and family. She embraced witchcraft and ultimately became homeless in the streets of Tacoma, Washington. But God had a rescue plan to save her in the final chapter of her life.
“I cried every day for hours from the time I was nine until I was 30-years-old,” says Yvonne Trimble, who serves as a missionary in Haiti with her husband Joel. “She left when I was nine. You don’t know how much little girls are attached to their mothers,” she says.
Yvonne’s mother, Yvette, originally came to the U.S. from Puerto Rico, where she had been adopted into a wealthy family. Years later when Yvette went back to visit her father, she learned he had remarried and she would be excluded from his will. The shock triggered a nervous breakdown.
On the plane flight home, Yvette began a rant about a bomb on the plane and that her food was poisoned. An ambulance was waiting for her when they touched down and she was whisked off to New Jersey State Hospital for the Insane. Doctors at the hospital wanted to give Yvette electric shock treatments, but her husband refused.
Yvonne’s father bought a dairy farm in upstate New York at the time Yvette was in the hospital. After her release, Yvonne’s interactions with her mother were very sporadic. “She came to stay with us for a month or two, but she wouldn’t take care of us,” she notes. “In those days, they labeled her ‘paranoid schizophrenic,’ but today they would say it was a depression with psychotic features.”
One day Yvonne’s father came in from working in the fields at noon, expecting that Yvette would have lunch ready for him. When he saw there was no lunch, he started yelling and screaming.
“I can’t clean this house and cook for you at the same time,” Yvette shouted.
Nine-year-old Yvonne watched the fiery exchange, knowing her mother had just lied. “But mom, you were reading a book,” she said. Yvette gave her daughter an icy stare.
A few days later, when Yvette was driving the kids to mass, she suddenly swerved the car to the curb and stopped. She pulled off her high-heeled shoe and began to beat Yvonne on the head.
Moments later Yvonne sat in the third pew of the church, quietly sobbing. “I put my hand to the back of my head and my hand was covered with blood.”
For the remainder of Yvonne’s childhood, the family did not experience the love or nurturing help of a mom. “She wanted to drive a wedge between me and my father,” she recalls.
“You’re daddy’s little girl,” Yvette told her daughter one day. “Some day you’ll sleep with daddy.”
Yvonne says she didn’t know what her mother meant by the remark, but somehow, she knew it was demonic. “I told my father and he never touched me after that,” she says.
After Yvonne finished school and left home she worked two jobs in New York City. One Friday night she stopped to visit a friend and met her future husband, Joel, when he answered the door. It was love at first sight.
For 16 days they saw each other every day and every evening. Yvonne knew Joel was a Christian missionary in Haiti and wanted to know more about his faith, but Joel was hesitant to witness to her because he had scared away other girls with his passion for Jesus.
Yvonne patiently waited until the 16th night when Joel felt convicted about their relationship. “The Devil sent you to keep me from my ministry in Haiti,” he charged. He felt Yvonne might distract him from his calling and mission.
She knew from her 12 years of Catholic school that Jesus died for her sins. She thought, As soon as he stops I am going to tell him that.
Joel kept talking about her sins while she repeated in her mind, Jesus died for my sins.
An unusual vision
Suddenly God gave her a vision that she was standing on Calvary. She saw Jesus hanging on the cross covered in blood. His head was hanging down on his chest. His face was battered and bloodied. He lifted up His head and with his eyes said, “I did this for you.”
Face-to-face with her Redeemer at the foot of the cross, Yvonne said, “Yes, Lord!” Joel abruptly stopped talking.
“Jesus died for my sins!” she told a startled Joel.
“I need to pray about this,” he said.
The next day when they met, Joel asked Yvonne, “Have you ever thought of being a missionary?”
Yvonne confessed she had dreams of being a missionary since childhood. Without any hesitation, prompted by the Holy Spirit, Joel asked Yvonne to marry him – and she accepted.
On December 9, 1977 Joel and Yvonne were married. They knew each other only 10 weeks. By March they were together on the mission field in Port au Prince, Haiti, in what has become a very fruitful ministry known as Haiti for Christ.
A troubling discovery
In 1981, Yvonne and Joel stopped to see her mother in Florida while on their way to catch a plane to Haiti. When Yvette went to get something from the bedroom, Yvonne saw a black magic idol on Yvette’s dresser. Yvonne learned her mother was practicing witchcraft!
Even though Yvonne wept, prayed and witnessed to her, her words seemed to fall on deaf ears.
In 1998, Yvette and her second husband divorced and she received their home in the settlement. She couldn’t pay the mortgage, so the house was foreclosed a year later and she ended up living in a van for the next six years with Yvonne’s half-brother. They often fed themselves by getting day-old sandwiches left for the homeless behind the Starbucks in Tacoma, Washington.
In 2004 Yvonne’s half brother called to say the van had been impounded. He was moving on with his life. Would they take care of mom? The once abused and abandoned children knew she had never been a mother to them, and they refused.
“Now she was genuinely alone and homeless for the next seven years,” Yvonne recounts.
Yvonne’s father Tony passed away in early 2013. “I am who I am today because of my Father,” Yvonne says. “I never saw him drunk or with another woman. The Marine motto ‘Semper Fi’ was tattooed on his arm; it was who he was — ‘Always Faithful’ to God and his family.”
After her father’s passing, Yvonne told her sister, “Find mom! When you call to report dad’s passing to Social Security, find out where her checks are going.”
“I think she’s dead,” Yvonne’s sister Laura replied.
Yvonne felt in her heart that her mother was still alive. She recalled praying and fasting for her mother in 2009, the year before the devastating earthquake struck Haiti. “God, if you can do anything, save my mother!” she pleaded.
A few weeks later Laura called with shocking news. “I’ve found mom!” she cried. Laura had located her in a hospice nursing home in Seattle.
“When you call her, lead her to the Lord,” Yvonne urged.
The next day Laura called back. “Yvonne, she knows Him!”
Yvonne shook her head in wonderment. “Get out of town.” Even though she had been in ministry for 36 years, she had trouble believing this news.
A few days later, Yvonne boarded a plane in Port au Prince, bound for Seattle. When she walked into the nursing home, her mother’s first words were, “Oh Yvonne, I love you.”
Yvonne was astonished by the change in her mother’s countenance and this expression of love, the first time Yvonne had heard such words in her entire life. Yvonne burst into tears as she embraced her long-lost mother.
Yvette wore a crucifix and had a Christian tract in her purse. Yvonne – just to make sure – slowly went over the Gospel message. Yvette gave her daughter strong assurance she believed.
They spent 12 hours together; the woman for whom she had wept and almost given up hope, poured out healing words of motherly love for
the first time in their lives.
Seven months later, Yvonne’s mother passed peacefully to her eternal reward. Two months before that Yvette suffered a debilitating stroke that rendered her immobile and speechless. On the day of her passing, she returned from lunch and silently slipped away, still in her wheel chair.
“This miracle of forgiveness and restoration is a testimony of God’s sovereign power and love,” Yvonne declares. “We walk with a God of miracles. This is just one of His miracles.”
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