Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wrapping up...

School is over for the year! We've had a great fall term leading up to Christmas, but as you can imagine, we've all been anticipating the holidays!
Yesterday we had our last day of class before break - and we spent it at the beach! All week I told the kids I had some surprises up my sleeve, and so on Friday after devotions they opened their stockings and included inside was a ticket to the beach. They were pretty excited about it, and we had a wonderful time. Basking in the waves of the Caribbean sea under a cloudless sky with my students, I thought of all of you back home in the frigid north and was thankful for a day in paradise... I could go on but I think I'll stop there - I don't want to make you jealous! ;)

When we arrived back at the mission, I was also thrilled to see that one of the Canadian containers had arrived! I had about 10 big boxes outside of my door, which was quite a treat. Most of them I still haven't opened - They are donated books for school with the kids which I am very grateful for. I think I might make a little project for the kids and I on Monday to open them all up and see what goodies are inside. Along with the school boxes were 2 rubbermaid bins which I had packed before I left. Inside there were many decorations for my apartment, so I'm excited to find a place for everything! For those of you coming to Haiti with the Canadian team in January, I'm excited to show off all of my interior decorating! :)

So the rest of my last weekend in Haiti will be spent wrapping up all of my school plans and packing to come home. It still feels surreal that next week at this time I will be home in Canada. I feel like the past 3 months I have begun a whole new life in a completely different world, so it's going to be really crazy to go back to where it all began. I honestly never thought that I would feel like this... I am sad to leave. It's hard to know what to do with these emotions - I am so excited to go home and be a part of the Christmas celebrations - there really is no place I would rather be this time of year. But these past few weeks in Haiti have been so wonderful. I am starting to make friends with the Haitian people, and I feel like I'm a part of something so much bigger than myself. It's the feeling I get every morning when I walk outside and see the view of the water and the mountains. It's bigger than a calling... It's the life I am living every day... It's like a dream! And I think if this was it - If I wasn't coming back in January, I would really struggle with the goodbye. Fortunately, it's not over and I get to come back in the new year. I guess this feeling confirms that the country and people of Haiti are really finding a place in my heart. I'm not done here. I feel like I've only just begun. It makes me think of what will happen when my year commitment is over and I am left at a crossroads - to stay here or come back... It's still very unknown - after all it's still a ways away, but I continue to pray that the Lord would guide my steps and lead me where I belong. Whether it be Haiti, or Wainfleet or somewhere in between.

The feelings of love I have for this place take me back to my struggles and fears I had about leaving during the summer. Reading my June/July/August blogs and journal entries I am reminded of my feelings of the unknown and uncertainty about what I was getting myself into. But now that I'm here, I realize how all of my stress and worry was so unnecessary. I am amazed how the Lord has carried me up to this point and He has totally showered His blessings on my life. And to think, if I would have turned down this opportunity because of fear, how I would be missing out on this. I can't imagine turning this life down now that I'm here, but when I had to commit without knowing what was ahead, it was difficult to submit. It all just comes down to faith - believing without seeing.

It's eye opening to see how Satan takes advantage of our fear and paralyzes our faith.... Working at a mission like this has always been my dream, but I struggled when I had to say yes... It was so hard to step out - and even after I decided to go, I wavered and worried about what would become of the life I had in Wainfleet. I just realize how much the Lord had already taken care of everything, and before I came here He already had plans for all of the experiences and joys that I am living everyday. 

It just makes me want to surrender everything to Him. So many times I hold on to things because I don't want anything bad to happen, or just because I want control. But looking back on these past 3 months, I am speechless. I can't even express in words how much the Lord has met me and shown me how much He really can do when I offer up my life.
Let me also say that sometimes it's in the deepest, darkest moments that we fear the most which are the times that are the most beautiful. It's not just in the sunshine and happy smiles that I see the Lord working. It's in the places of sorrow and confusion - when I have to simply let go and trust. I don't know what's ahead next month, next year or beyond, but I do know more now than I have ever known that the Lord has more in store than we could ever dream, and He wants to do something amazing with each of our lives.... I just want to keep living in the sweet spot!

So in just a few days I'll be flying home and it will be wonderful to see you all.... You have become like a big northern family to me, and I can't thank you enough for the love and prayers you have showered on me as I've ventured out. I know that the time will fly when I come home, so don't expect to see a blog for another couple weeks.... Until then, may you all cherish the joy of the season and look ahead to more blogging in 2009!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Barefoot Wanderers

I had a great week with visitors from Canada this week. Friends of the van der Marks (Ken and Debbie Gibbons and Heather Fretz) arrived last Friday and I got to host Heather at my house. Fortunately, I put the finishing touches on my spare room a few weeks earlier, so it was nice to have a roommate for the past few days! And it couldn't have worked out better with my new kitten - Heather is a vet! She was able to give me some great tips on how to keep Hanna happy and healthy. A few of you have inquired about her progress since my last post, and I am pleased to inform you that Hanna is becoming quite at home, and we've had some good bonding so far. 

She greets me at the door and cuddles on my lap, and the best part - She trapped and killed a mouse! On Monday morning I woke up to find a dead mouse on my bathroom floor. It's still unknown if Hanna simply found it or caught it, but I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt! ;) If this keeps up, I think I will become a 'cat-person' after all! The only thing she hasn't killed is a scorpion that was in my apartment for a few days....

Heather mentioned to me that early one morning she saw a small scorpion in the bathroom. She wasn't able to kill it, so we were both hoping that it had kindly exited the house as it had entered. However, on Wednesday night I saw it again in the kitchen, and promptly snapped a picture before swatting it repeatedly with my trusty fly swatter. Apparently the smaller the scorpion, the more poisionous it is, so I'm hoping that this creature doesn't have any friends!

Now to expand on the title of today's blog... Today I just got back from a riverwalk/orphanage visit with the college team that is here for the beginning of December. We drove by bus down a side street out of Cabaret until we ran out of road, and then hiked for about an hour through the jungle until we reached a clearing, where we gathered the local children to sing songs, tell bible stories, play games and pass out candy. During the trek, we accumulated many tag along children - barefoot wanderers. Most of them were wearing only oversized t-shirts and walked on the path of dirt - but sometimes sharp plants and rocks - with us with no shoes. I couldn't really take any pictures, since both of my hands were pre-occupied holding onto theirs. But as we ventured deeper into the barren land of Haiti, I began to think about the lives of these dear children. Most of them weren't much older than 6, and yet they latched onto us without any signs of needing a parent. As we followed Amy, who leads the teams on outreach trips, I thought about how desperate these children must be, to follow a group of strangers, not knowing where they are going, and to show no concern in returning back to their homes. My heart broke for the little ones that we had to leave when we got back to the bus - I can only hope that they had a family or home to return to. I guess it's still just a shock for me to understand this culture and this generation of children. In Canada, you wouldn't think about letting a child wander off, or fend for themselves, and yet no matter where I go outside the mission, I always see children alone and unattended. Children in Haiti have to grow up fast. Much faster than children back home. 

As I held the hands of the children walking in stride with me, a familiar verse came into my head. It's a verse I've claimed many times, but today I prayed it for the children around me. In Jeremiah 29:11, God says that He knows the plans He has for us, plans for good and not for disaster. Plans to bring hope and a future. For the children I met today, I struggle to see the hope and the future. I am blinded by what I see. The poverty, the malnutrition, the disease. And yet what God sees is a child that He created, with a specific purpose. I questioned Him about why these children have to live in such desperation, and what they have to look forward to in life, but I can only hope that the songs we sang together so joyfully, and the love we shared about Jesus to them in that small clearing will always stay with them.

As got back on the bus and drove away from the children this afternoon, I did my best to surrender my concern for them into the hands of God. As the song sings 'He knows my name', and no matter what impossible circumstance lies ahead, I believe that the Lord knows each of their names, their needs and He loves them, just as He loves each one of us. It's hard not to be able to simply fix the problem.... It's so much bigger than me. But thank the Lord that He is so much bigger than the problem, and as I trust Him and surrender, may I be used to play a part in restoration and hope.

Monday, December 1, 2008


December has arrived!!!
On Friday night when I arrived at the Hope House for the movie, there was a string of lights hanging from the rooftop, and inside where the children eat, there was a Christmas tree complete with lights and ornaments. At first it was a little disorienting, since I have always associated Christmas with snow, winter jackets and carols being played through the media. I haven't had any of that this year, so it took me a second to click in! But whether I'm aware of it or not, Christmas is coming and that's exciting! 
So in keeping with the first day of December, I think I'll share a few more 'firsts' that happened to me this past weekend.
Yesterday after church I took my first trip into Simonette, where Patris - one of my new Haitian friends - and his family members live. He is actually getting married on December 27th, so I got to tour his new house and try some of the grapes growing in his front yard! :) In Simonette, we also got to check out Rachel's coconut tree. Yes, it's true that she actually rented a coconut tree, which means she gets to reap the benefits all year long. Kindly, she shared with us, so I had my first taste of fresh coconut milk! See picture below.... It was good!

Another first for me happened on Saturday, which might not seem as thrilling to you back home, but it was quite exciting for me... I had my first cheeseburger! I ordered one at a city near Port-Au-Prince while out and about on Saturday. After not eating one for almost three months, it was truly a beautiful moment!
And finally, I also went to my first staff meeting last Friday. Mr. Marc - who is the Haitian director on the mission - scheduled a meeting for all of the staff, so I joined in, and it was really eye-opening for me to see how many people showed up. The mission employs well over 100 Haitian people, so it was quite a squeeze packing everyone into the cafeteria.
The reason for the meeting on Friday was to discuss the financial situation of the mission. For those of you who support the mission or stay involved in it's progress, you are probably already aware of the missions lack of funding. With 2 large expansions in the works, the mission already has had to cut back in order to progress in the construction and growth of the facilities. However, just over the past few months, they have lost a few of the significant contributors, so the meeting was to inform the staff of the new standards that will be put in place in order to save money.
Sadly, it may come to the point where some of the staff may need to be laid off, since the mission cannot afford to pay them. Despite the dire situation and the concern on the faces of those around me, I was encouraged by the way Mr. Marc handled everything. He assured everyone that the mission would not be closing, only that over the next few months we all need to be aware of the situation and trust the Lord to provide. It was very heartwarming to hear Mr. Marc witness to the staff about how God knows all of our needs, and He will never leave us. So many times in our lives situations seem impossible, but when we trust God, He will give us what we need, and during these testing times, we are given the chance to trust Him and allow Him to refine us. 
Based on the financial situation, the mission is really pushing for end-of-the-year supporters and donations to cover this year's budget. Please contact me via e-mail ( if you would like more information about how you can get involved.
Finally, I just want to emphasize the feeling of community and family-like atmosphere that I experience here in Haiti. Coming here in September, I thought that I would be the one with the answers: telling others about Jesus and sharing the message of the gospel. However, I've been amazed how time and time again when I am speaking with Haitian people how they share the gospel with me. So often when I am in conversation with people they remind me about Jesus' love and the way that He provides, just like Mr. Marc did on Friday. It's quite a testament to hear these people, who have little to no possessions here on earth, speak about the treasure and hope of Jesus, their eternal riches. They can't contain it. It's humbling and inspiring for me at the same time because I feel like being here it's my job to tell these people about Jesus. However, it overflows out of them, and they are so passionate about their faith. They will never know the impact that they have on my life as they share about what Jesus has done. I want to live more like these people. Giving glory and praise to the Lord in EVERY circumstance. Not dwelling in problems that arise, but keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus. After all, like a song I've been listening to recently sings: He is big enough. May I stay fixed on that promise today.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Last week at the grocery store I bought paper towels. When I got back to my apartment and took them out of the package, they had flowers printed on them and the words ‘Home Sweet Home’. The phrase struck me for a moment, and for the first time, it sunk in. I realized that this is my home. For the past 2 months, I have been moving in, painting walls, unplugging sinks, washing floors and working my way up this point where I can walk in my front door and.... relax. Believe it or not, I think i can say it’s arrived. I’m so thankful for this piece of independence, this space I can call my own, and for the way that the Lord has helped me adjust to this new way of life. 

But this new ‘home’ is more than just my apartment, it’s life in Haiti....

It’s waking up in my bed to the sound of birds outside my window, the breath-taking view of mountains as soon as I step out my front door, riding on the back of an ATV in my church clothes through the dust and dirt of the mission road, the intense heat from the sun shining through the palm leaves... It’s walking to children’s church with an escort of 10 children clinging to my arms. It’s the hugs and kisses I receive every time I walk down to the orphanage... and above all, it’s believing that there is no better place in the world for me to be right now, than right here in this place. It’s nothing I’ve ever experienced in my entire life, but it’s everything I’ve dreamed of and more.

On Sunday morning I got to tell two bible stories in children’s church, and it was such a blessing to share Jesus with these dear Haitian children. Telling the story of the lost sheep, from the bottom of my heart I prayed that these children would listen and believe the message I was telling. Jesus loves each of them so much that He would leave the flock to search for them. In being here I have feel like I’ve captured such a passion for living and loving people, based on the blessings I’ve been given from these dear people, and it is amazing. If I can give back half of what I have received since I’ve been here, it will be a miracle.

I think it’s kind of ironic after writing all of this to say that in about 3 weeks I’m coming home. Home to Canada for Christmas! Now keep in mind that just because Haiti is becoming like a home to me here doesn’t mean that I don’t think about Wainfleet or the people I love. I can hardly wait to get off the plane and see my family and friends and catch up on all that has unravelled since my departure in September. It will truly be a sweet reunion! And Wainfleet is home to me too, just in a different way. Wainfleet is my comfort, my joy, and my foundation, because it’s the place where I recieve such love and support and feel spurred on to experience what I am doing today. I can honestly say from the bottom of my heart that I would not be thriving

here without your prayers and without the presence of the Lord.


I guess after putting my thoughts on ‘paper’ I can come to the conclusion that home is really never a permanent place where you physically reside. Home is the place where your heart belongs. And right now for me, Haiti is where God has placed me, and every day, the more I open up my heart to life here, the more I belong. It won’t be home forever. Like all of us, our callings change, and God leads us to new ‘homes’. But for now I thank God for leading me here... Leading me home.

On that note, yesterday Rachel’s kittens said goodbye to their mother, and I moved Hanna (named after the 3rd hurricane which hit Haiti in September), downstairs into my apartment. She meowed through the whole night, and all day she has been hiding under my couch. Just this evening she crept out and ate a bit of her food, and now she is resting peacefully on my cushy chair. It’s going to take some time (and a lot of patience on my end), but eventually this place will be home to Hannah too. Beginnings are never easy, but they’re worth it. Welcome home.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Through it All

I had a bit of a rough week... On Sunday I came down with a minor stomach infection, and on Monday morning I woke up to another leaky ceiling. Then I actually had to call off school yesterday from being sick... again. In addition, with the consistent rainstorms we've had in the evenings, the mosquitos here are THICK! Unfortunately mosquito repellent doesn't last forever, so I'm covered in bites which gives me a difficult time getting to sleep. It just feels like everything is on a downward spiral!
During these days I've turned to the books of Psalms, and I've connected with the writings of David. One thing that I can really appreciate about him, is that he is always honest with God. He doesn't put on a show or cover up what he is feeling inside. He is completely real - sometimes blunt - and lets out his heartbreak and confusion. The Psalms are full of wonderful praises of thanksgiving and adoration to celebrate what God has done, but they are also full of David's heart cries when all seems lost.
I've been doing a lot of journalling, and I've been deliberate about bringing all of my problems to the Lord. I've prayed, I've offered up these struggles, and I've even complained. But what is amazing to me is that no matter what I emotions I experience, God understands and He meets me. He is here through it all. Of course, he doesn't zap everything back to how it should be. He does more. He offers himself. Being away from home seemed to compound all my problems this week because I felt so alone. But through these times of loneliness, I get to experience His presence so much more. He becomes evident in things that I would never realize without being in this place by myself. He is refining me and it's worth the pain because He is showing up.
And eventually, the ceiling drips stop. My body heals. The sun comes out. The mosquito's fly away (or maybe not... they are swarming around me even as I write this blog! haha). But the Lord brings restoration. He changes my heart. And above all these things, He has proven that He is more than enough.
Thank you for your continual prayer and support to me as these weeks and months go by... It encourages me more than you know!
I also wanted to give you an update on my involvement in the mission, and ask you to keep praying that I can find my 'spot'. I spoke with Rachel yesterday and she told me about English classes she has organized for the Hope House children. She offered for me to get involved in working with the little ones - singing alphabet songs, etc., which would be really fun. I'm also continuing to explore the children's church program and ways that I can plug into that. Finally, there is the school curriculum development that I have been encouraged to check out. Joanne, who is an American that came down to teach missionary children (just like me!), works for the mission and has lived in Haiti now for over 30 years. She is currently working on a Christian school curriculum that can be used in the School of Hope at the mission, as well as given out to other schools in Haiti. I have only met her once, but I really got excited from her passion about the ministry, and I hope to get to know her better and possibly assist her in this large task. So who knows!? I really don't think it's possible for me to carry out all of these responsibilities, but I am praying that the Lord will guide me to the ministries where I can be the most benefit.
Stay tuned..... :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Holy Ground

It's hard to believe that yet another week as passed by already! Let me tell you about it...
Early this week, Brad Johnson (who is the president of the mission), arrived with other staff members from the States. They all came to prepare for yesterday's big meeting in Port-au-Prince for the launch of HaitiOne. HaitiOne came from a dream that Brad had one night, where he first saw the country of Haiti (like the picture on a map), with many different colored lines going to different points all over the country. Then, in his dream he saw the lines disappear and one gold band wrap around the country unifying all it's parts. From this dream, Brad felt God calling him to start a new campaign to bring together all of the separate missions organizations of Haiti in order to change the country for God. Right now, Haiti has many private operating missions, but the goal of HaitiOne is to bring all of those Christian missions together and work together as a body - sharing resources, services and love to advance the Kingdom of God. This past Friday, Brad along with the other missions staff, met with the leaders of organizations all over the country, and have began to launch this new idea. Keep in mind that my explanation is just the tip of the iceberg, so if you are interested in getting more information, check out
So as we've been gearing up for this event, I've spent the past few nights assisting the team by putting packages together for the leaders and organizing the materials to go out. Then on Thursday night, we all gathered for prayer, and it was a very inspiring time for me. As I listened to Brad talk about how this journey first began, and the passion he has in his heart for the people of Haiti, I was very moved. He is truly living for something much greater than himself or his family and it is so evident. It just made me feel so thankful to work alongside these people so dedicated to what the Lord is doing in Haiti and in some small way, be a part of it. At one point during prayer, Brad said that somewhere tonight in Haiti, a little child sits alone in the dark, but God we know that he is your child. Those words caught in my heart because it's true. Despite the desperation I see all around me, these people belong to God. Every boy or girl without a parent, every teenager without a job, every newborn baby with aids. They are God's children, and they are the hope of this nation. It's our time to be a part of raising up this generation for Jesus.
Finally, I was encouraged by the continuing words of prayer as another staff member spoke about how the Lord ordained this ministry from long before our time. Before we were even born, God had this idea and God chose His people to carry out the task. It made me realize, how many times do I think about God pre-planning these experiences I get to be a part of everyday?... It's easy for me to take these moments for granted, or not really seize every opportunity that comes across my path on a daily basis. However, this sacred time of prayer sparked my passion and awe for the plans the Lord has for my life, and how before I was even born, he had this calling on my life. It blows my mind to think about the significance of this journey I am on and how the Lord ordained it long ago.
It is my prayer that you may be reminded of that tonight as well. Wherever you are, whatever your facing, whatever road you are on, God planned it. He created you with a purpose and the best of intentions for your life in order to serve and glorify Him. God is moving, He is up to something so much bigger than us, and He is only asking us to be a part of it. It's amazing when we realize we are on holy ground. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A little disclaimer...

I know that the majority of you staying connected with my blog have also been following along with the Nicaragua team blog, which I have been thoroughly enjoying as well. It's so great to see all that they have been able to accomplish over the past few weeks, and I admit that they do a very good job keeping us in the loop. I've had a few people send teasing e-mails that I don't keep you as informed as my Uncle Rand does with the team, but what I have to say to you is this ~ I do my best to write a post once a week, but if my Uncle Rand was here, I'm sure you'd get an update more often.... You can take that one up with him! ;)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Singing on the Mountaintop!

It has been quite a weekend.... I feel like I almost need another weekend to recover before jumping into the school week tomorrow, but I am trusting that the Lord will give me the strength I need. I just wanted to take a moment to share with you about my day yesterday. I had the opportunity to travel with Don, which is another guy who works at the mission. He is mostly involved in village outreach and church programs, and he has a regular route that he always makes on Saturday's to do children's programs and speak to families. He has offered for me to come along anytime, so yesterday was my day!

At 8:30 I jumped into the open cab of his pickup truck with the 3 other interns that are here from the United States. Before venturing too far, we proceeded to pick up about 5 other Haitian translators who came along to assist us with outreach ministry. 
Our first stop was in Cabaret where we drove down one of the side streets and immediately children who recognized Don's truck began to chase after us smiling and laughing until we stopped at a clearing in a small neighbourhood. There we sang songs and played games, followed by a prayer and memory verse challenge, and of course we didn't leave until we passed out candy. 
We stayed for about an hour in each village beginning with Cabaret, then Ti-Plasce, and finally my favourite spot of the day - Sophie, where we did our programs right by a freshwater stream. In order to get there we had to drive up the mountain which was quite an adventure in the back of the pickup. Of course, I could have chosen to ride in the truck on an actual seat, but it made the experience much more memorable, especially when it came to eating lunch on the go (see picture). 
As we entered each small village, about 50-100 people showed up.... All the way from babies to elderly people. We ran a similar program at each site, which also included me having a dance off with one of the kids... Since I'm still lacking in my creole, Don thought it would be funny to involve me this way... of course failed miserably! These Haitians really know how to 'bust a move'! :)

But driving in the pickup was definitely a delightfully-risky memory I will always carry. At one point, one of the translators began to sing a worship song from church and we all joined in singing at the top of our lungs. As I braced myself onto the side of the bedliner and we bumped along upwards toward the village of Sophie, I looked across the land of Haiti and listened to the voices of the guys singing next to me. It is truly a moment I will never forget because at that moment I felt so close to Jesus and so alive. I've had 'defining' moments in the past where the Lord has really spoken to my heart, and this was another one of those times. Despite the simplicity of that moment, it was truly invigorating and it just made me feel so blessed. I felt amazed once again to be living this dream and so thankful for the opportunity to be in this place! Sometimes it's easy for me to dwell in the disappointments, but once again, singing on the mountaintop, the Lord sang over me and spoke peace and love into my heart. It was probably one of the best days I've had in Haiti yet.

Well, I think that's all from me tonight.... All of this action has really tired me out, and I've got a big week ahead of me, so I think I'm going to call it a night. 
Sweet dreams!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bright Spots

I feel like every time I sit down to write a new blog I am flooded with so many different memories, stories and emotions... It's hard to know where to begin! 
This past week has been another blur of school days combined with team-building and outreach. At the beginning of the week, another church team arrived, and although I enjoy getting to know them, sometimes I get discouraged because I wish I could be more involved in the life of the mission with them... When teams arrive, they have so much work lined up for them around the mission and surrounding villages, and I often find myself wishing I could go along. Teaching takes up a lot more time then the standard school hours when you factor in prep work and marking, so I often get jealous of the other people on staff who get to go out and interact with the Haitian people. It's in times like this that I have to remind myself why I am here - I am here to teach these children. That is my priority! So although it may not be as glamorous as what the other staff members get to do, I still need to pour my heart into it and serve wholeheartedly. 
It's been pretty tough in school this week as I've been teaching some difficult math lessons - long division and decimals - and I've really had to lean back on the Lord. It is often easy for me to puff myself up and give myself credit for the training and experience I have as a teacher, as if I can do it all on my own. But in the difficult times of teaching and managing the kids this week, I have been reminded once again of my weakness and how I am so desperate for the Lord's patience and wisdom. I would not succeed in this task without His constant provision and guidance, and never want to forget how much I need Him... This week was just another reminder!
So let me tell you now about a bright spot in my week, which happened yesterday. It was Thursday so I had planned for a full day of teaching with the kids, but during lunch Cheryl suggested that we take the afternoon off and ride along into Cabaret to see the orphan kids with the team. I was so thrilled to be a part of the mission outreach and it was such a fun afternoon. The kids were the same children who stayed at the mission high school after their orphanage was destroyed from the hurricane, so a lot of them recognized me and blessed me with hugs and smiles. It was a joyful afternoon of singing and games, and I didn't want to leave. Near the end of our time, we got to bring out the children's meals of rice and beans, and I was amazed as we brought out the food how much the children looked after one another. Even though they were all hungry, it blessed my heart to see the older children feeding the younger ones, and despite the close quarters, I was impressed at how they all sat quietly and patiently until everyone was fed. These children have truly blessed me more than I can express in words! 
This weekend, I was also given the opportunity to go along to do kids clubs in the villages past Cabaret. So I've got to keep plugging away on my teaching prep for next week so I can afford to be out tomorrow! 
Thank you again for all of your love and prayers for me... I will leave you with some good news ~ I am coming home for Christmas! So I look forward to seeing you all in a few weeks!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Weekend Whirl

Good news everybody! We are now all on the same time!!! Since I have been in Haiti, the time between me and you people in Canada has been an hour different, but now that you have fallen back we are all on the same time. I don't know about you, but somehow to me, you all seem a bit closer. ;)
I want to begin by thanking all of you for your prayers for my ceiling... The leaking has stopped completely, so I have been able to rearrange my apartment back to normal... I'm actually sitting on my couch directly under where the leak was to write this blog and I am nice and dry! :)
The rest of my week was quite eventful leading up to halloween on Friday. I had the kids for two extended afternoons this week as a part of our new schedule, and then yesterday we had a fun day of dressing up for halloween.
I told the kids to create some crazy costumes with the clothes that they brought to Haiti, and it was amazing what wild creatures we were able to become. During the school morning, we also did a science experiment to create green slime, and in the evening the kids came around trick or treating to each of the staff apartments.
After trick or treating, we all headed down to the Hope House for movie night - One of my favorite parts of the week. I blogged earlier this month about my experience watching the movies with the kids, and once again, I was captured by the joy in that place. Sitting under a sky full of stars, watching 'A Bee Movie' projected onto the side of a cement wall surrounded by smiling children is definitely one of my favorite places in the whole world.
Despite the disappointments and struggles that I faced earlier in the week, I was once again reminded last night how much the Lord is blessing me here in Haiti, and what a joy it is to serve Him.
Tomorrow is church and I am really looking forward to the worship by Pastor Claudel - The music director. He leads such a wonderful team of musicians and singers, full of passion and praise. It is such a ministry to me to see them worship, and to hear familiar songs being sung in the Creole language. Over the past few weeks I have opted to sing the songs in English, but last week I purchased a songbook with all of the songs printed out in Creole, so I am slowly going to try to learn the songs in this new language!
I am also looking forward to observing the children's church program tomorrow during the service. After worship time, the children are dismissed to the school for games and songs while the pastor speaks. Last Sunday, Cheryl followed along with the kids and told me afterwards that I should go along next Sunday. She said that I would be a great benefit to the children's program if I would could get involved, since currently all of the children stay together in one small room and it is pretty chaotic. If it works out and depending how full my plate is, I may be able to give leadership in one area of the children's ministry - using the experience I've had in children's programs at our church, and help the coordinators develop more of an organized program. I know what some of you may be thinking - Does this mean I have to miss the message every Sunday? Well, actually, it wouldn't really bother me to miss out on the message since the language barrier prevents me from understanding the pastor... I'm sure I would learn a lot from the teaching if I could understand the language, but since I can't, it's been pretty boring to listening to 45-minute Creole sermons. It would be great for me to plug into an alternative program with the kids at that time instead of sitting in a pew feeling like I am going to fall asleep at any moment! ;)
I appreciate your prayers as I discern how I can best involve myself in the mission programs and ideas I can bring to the people involved. I will definitely keep you posted on my involvement in the programs in the weeks to come.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend and stay tuned for more news from Haiti in a few days!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Raining on the Inside

Well, I've only got a few minutes to write a brief post to share with you the events from last evening... After getting home from the grocery store around 4:30, I noticed some small puddles in the entrance of my apartment. It's become pretty normal in my house to have small drips from time to time, which is caused by an unknown leaky source somewhere above me, but it's never been too severe. However, while making and eating supper last night, I heard more water coming down, and assumed it was raining outside, until I felt the cushions of my couch and saw the water near my door. Looking up at my ceiling I saw a clear line of cracks and seeping water from my front door all the way to my kitchen (about 10 feet across the ceiling). The water was dripping quite consistently at this point and I knew that I needed to investigate the situation. 
I talked to Laurens next door and we began to ask Amy and Rachel upstairs if there were any water problems. We soon found out that during the day, the mission had run out of water (a common problem), so when Rachel's cleaner had come to clean the shower, she accidently left the tap on. So from the time the water truck came to when Rachel returned from the Hope House and turned off the shower (an undetermined time, but it was at least a few hours), the water was gathering in the cement between her floor and my roof which eventually began to leak from my ceiling.
Fortunately we identified where the water was coming from, which now means that Rachel's shower will need to be repaired. And I spent the evening moving furniture to avoid the wetness as well as spreading towels and pails from one end of my house to the other.
Luckily, when I woke up this morning the leak had decreased significantly, however it will probably be a few more days until all the water has drained completely. I've taken a few pictures of the damage that I will post for you to see soon.
I need to get back to my afternoon of teaching now, but I just wanted to send you that update and ask you for your prayers in this situation.
Even though it was a complete accident, it was a little discouraging at first to see my freshly painted and decorated apartment get damaged, and yet I have come to realize that it could have been a lot worse.
Thank you for praying along with me that the leaking will subside and that I can soon get back to living in a dry house... I guess it's another lesson for me to never take anything for granted in Haiti!

Friday, October 24, 2008


Last night I had my first 'parent-teacher' interview!
I know it's quite a daunting thing for new teachers, but fortunately I didn't feel much stress. Each of my kids are very bright and it has been a pleasure to teach them so far. Looking ahead, there is of course a lot of work in store as I keep them each in step with the curriculum back home, as well as using my creative juices to combine as much 'fun' into the school day as I can... But it feels good to have one month already under my belt! :)
During the meeting, Laurens and Cheryl both shared the magnitude of their new roles at the mission, and how it would be of great assistance to them if I could extend my times with the children to two afternoons per week along with our Monday to Friday 8am-12pm school time. These past few weeks have been full in the afternoons as I've been getting my apartment more 'homey' (see picture!)
and planning the children's work for the week, but I am hoping to be of assistance to Laurens and Cheryl for the sake of their job roles. It is my hope that I can fall into more of a routine in the days ahead and be able to afford this extra responsibility. In addition, I will also plan to start my involvement in the Hope House activities beginning in November, so with all of these things coming together, I do often feel a little overwhelmed. I appreciate your prayers during this time that I would not feel too bogged down by all of these tasks, but be able to really pour myself into the ministries of each day. I tend to get stressed out when I look ahead to all of my future commitments, but I trust that the Lord will help me prioritize and get into a 'groove' where I can use the gifts He has given me.

I also wanted to tell you how much I've loved seeing the pictures of the leaves changing back in Wainfleet. I've been browsing through the Balls Falls party pictures on the church website, as well as the fall albums posted on facebook. Fall is one of my favorite times of year because the outdoors are fully vibrant with color, and I've missed that this season. Here in Haiti, the weather is still full-fledged summer heat, and as much as I can appreciate the warmth of the weather, I do miss the beauty of autumn back home.
Thinking about the changing seasons in weather also reminds me about the seasons in our lives. A song I've listened to these past few days has a line that sings 'All of my life in every season, You are still God and I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship'. I think about the seasons of my life - The times of abundance and peace and joy, as well as the times of heartbreak and struggle and pain. Through all of these seasons, I am thankful that the Lord doesn't change. He offers me the same hope and love He has always bestowed and because of that, I have a reason to worship Him.
Right now, I feel like I am in a bit of a dry season. Even though there is so much happening around me, I have become more aware of the distance of home and the comfort it brings. There have also been challenges in relationships and really discerning where I belong in this new place. But just like the song says, when I think about who my God is - the One who remains constant through every season - I do have a reason to sing, and for that I am so grateful. I want to remember not to dwell in disappointments but to count the blessings I have been given this day. 
Can you hear me singing? :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Love is Enough

Last night I took the van der Mark children down to the Hope House. Every Friday night Rachel organizes a outdoor movie night for the kids, complete with 'big screen' (projected on to the side of the orphanage), and popcorn. Since Laurens and Cheryl have been away, I have been looking after the 3 kids, so we piled onto the ATV and headed down for some movie night fun!
When we arrived, I was once again greeted by a multitude of smiling faces, all eager to sit on my lap and hold my hand. It amazed me how many of us were able to fit on the two small benches outside, and how the children were completely mesmerized by a movie that wasn't even in their language. During the movie, I had to exit twice because two little boys who sat on my lap fell asleep, and when the movie was all over, I loved watching the children laugh and play while making their way back into their rooms for bedtime.
It was such a joyful time and it reminded me of the other times I've spent with the people of Haiti... The way I've watched the older children look out for and care for the little ones. The way they share and never leave out others. The way they sing and laugh and play barefoot in the hot sand. Not once have a seen a fight between children, or watched a crying child without someone to comforting them... The people here really care - It's the gardener who waits outside my door to wave and wish me a good day each morning. It's the cook in the kitchen who shares her bright smile whenever someone comes inside. It's the elderly men and women who walk halfway across the church just to give me a hug at greeting time.
These people love. Really love.
They are like a big happy family, and you don't have to 'be' anybody to share in the love. They aren't selfish or proud. 
They live. They love - A love with no inhibitions, so innocent, so true, so evident in their lives.

But sometimes I wonder how these people can love so much and be so content... How they can wake up and face the day ahead of them when they have lost their parents? or their children? or live in pain from disease? Without support from the mission, the majority of them would be homeless, hungry and poor... These people have nothing to their name, and yet they live like they have all the riches in the world.
It causes me look inside myself and wonder, could I be that content with nothing?
I guess the reason I am writing this today is because of a simple truth that I have been hit with lately - Love is enough.

The people of Haiti have displayed this so naturally and beautifully - Love is all they need. And not only do they receive it with open arms, they give it so freely. It's something - one of the only things - that never runs dry in Haiti.

I think about my life - The blessings that I haven't stopped receiving since I was born. For health, for food, for a roof over my head, for a family that loves me, for friends that are there for me, for an education... I could go on and on. And yet so many times, my life doesn't seem good enough. I have a long list of priorities, and when one of them hasn't been met, or when something doesn't quite go my way, I let it take over my attitude and withhold love that I could share. I've been thinking a lot lately about the simplicity of love, and how it's something we as Christians have been commanded to do. It says in 1 Corinthians that faith, hope and love remain - but the greatest of these is love.
What would it look like if I started giving out love in the capacity that it has been given to me? 
Not choosing who to love, or needing a reason to love, or wanting something in return for love... Loving people because that's what Jesus did.
I think it's so mind boggling that such a simple choice can make such a monumental change in someone. Love is the answer. War, pain, confusion, desperation, hunger, rejection, poverty - The answer is LOVE. And what brings it all together for me is that the God of the universe designed it this way.

God loved first.
Jesus lived and died for the sake of love.
And this love compels me to do the same. It's my turn.

For the amount of times I've put myself first and cared more about what people think or what I deserve - It's time to let it go. It's about time that I learn from these people in Haiti and begin to show how this love of Christ has changed me.
It's time to forget about what I think is right or wrong, or what I deserve, and it's time to let my worries and insufficiencies stop taking control of my attitude.
It's time to love.

This isn't a one time decision or a simple commitment. It's a constant choice and action and it's not easy. But how can I not love when God loved first? How can I not give when He gave everything? How can I not forgive when I have received indescribable grace?

This world is full of remedies... Full of ideas of how to 'fix' our problems. But what I have come to realize by watching the people of Haiti, is that the solution is not possessions or power or pride. It's love. And I definitely cannot do it alone, but with Jesus inside of me, I can be used as a vessel of His grace and joy and love.
I want to live in the love of my Father and give that love out today.

Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Thursday, October 16, 2008

If I Settle on the Far Side of the Sea...

Written Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - 7:30 pm

It’s been a rough, tiring past couple of days... I’ve been going non-stop teaching, painting my apartment and watching the van der Mark children in the afternoons - as Laurens and Cheryl have been moving into their home and taking a exploratory trip to another mission on the north part of the island.

And on top of it all, I haven’t had internet. For some reason my connection has been lost for the past few days, and so I have had no contact with anyone from home. Tonight it’s all kind of caught up with me, so even though I am unable to post a blog tonight, I am need to get my thoughts down (I will post the blog for you to read as soon as my connection returns).

After supper tonight, I was feeling very discouraged and lonely, so I read some verses in my bible and began to look at the many cards I was given from family and friends. Reading all of the loving messages and encouraging words first brought tears, but then filled me with a sense of peace and purpose. Even though these past days have been testing on my patience and hope, I still have a lingering comfort in my heart.

One of the verses that really jumped out at me from the cards was from Psalm 139 - If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

How I long tonight to be home - I think I would do just about anything to sit at the kitchen table with my family, or take a long drive through the countryside with friends... But the Lord has placed me here - Just as the verse states: He has ‘settled’ me on the far side of the sea (the Caribbean sea to be exact). Although I am faraway from home, I am not alone. I am held fast by the right hand of God. 

Over the past five weeks I have undergone a huge life change. Change in country, language, climate, job, living space, people.... I’ve had to adapt to new responsibilities and customs and expectations... I’ve also been trying balance all this change with my ‘old’ life by keeping in touch and somehow helping you all understand this new life I am in.
And yet through all of this, the Lord has remained true and faithful - guiding me and revealing His character in surprising ways. He has been right beside me. My best friend, my comforter, my shepherd. Just as I wrote about the mountain and the valley, I can testify that tonight, He is with me here in the valley. It’s dark and scary and lonely here, but He is with me. I am confident in His power to carry me through - and when He does, I’ll have the chance to look back and once again, be amazed by His faithfulness.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Thankful List:

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I hope you are all enjoying the holiday weekend and are celebrating this season with your families. As I've mentioned before, it's not easy being home at this special time... I miss seeing the changing colours of the leaves, and the smell of apple crisp baking in the oven, and being surrounded by a table of family faces for thanksgiving dinner. But once again, the Lord has provided in other ways and I truly feel blessed to be in this place. Even though thanksgiving isn't officially celebrated in Haiti, on Saturday night us Canadians (the van der Mark family, Rachel, and I), joined together for thanksgiving dinner consisting of pizza, vegetables, german crepes, ice cream and cinnamon twists. We all decided that just because we didn't have turkey and stuffing didn't mean we couldn't celebrate the holiday, so we each went through our fridges and brought together our most special items. And keeping tradition with all thanksgivings, we ate A LOT! :) I am thankful that I was able to share that special meal with my new 'family'!
This past week at school I also had my kids reflect and write about what they were thankful for. As I was reading their responses I began to think that I too need to make my own thankful list. So often we just take things for granted, and yet thanksgiving is a time for us to really reflect on all that we are blessed with. So here are some things I am thankful for this October:

- Warm sunshine and tropical trees
- The view of the Caribbean sea from my front door
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
- Yolty's lunches
- The beach
- New friends
- My very own apartment
- Cool showers
- My macbook
- Skype video chats
- Facebook pictures
- ATV's
- My mosquito net - Or as Darcie likes to say - Canopy of dreams!
- Music
- My ipod dock
- After supper chats 
- E-mails from home
- Starbucks frappuccino's
- Wireless internet 
- Fans
- Antibacterial soap
- Bright new paint
- Raid Roach Killer
- Sticky traps
- Fantastik antibacterial spray
- Fresh, clean water
- My pillow
- Prayer support
- My bible
- Orphan smiles

........ I think I could go on and on...... 
I am so blessed! I am thankful for life here in this place. For the health and strength to wake up each morning and embrace the day. For the joy of serving and being in fellowship with brothers and sisters not just in Haiti, but all over the world. And most of all, for the freedom I have through the price that Jesus paid on the cross - which enables me to have hope for each circumstance, knowing that His promise of goodness and love endures forever.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I’m excited to give you an update about my week in Haiti!

On Wednesday, it was my birthday, and I had planned to have a special morning at school with my kids and then to go down to the Hope House in the afternoon. However, these plans all changed when Rachel knocked on my door shortly after I woke up and told me that I had one hour to get ready before we were heading out on the town! Shocked, I asked “But what about school!?!”, and she smiled and told me that she had already discussed it with the van der Mark’s, and I had the day off.

So, still unknowing where we were going, I jumped in a truck with Rachel and Patris, and we began to head up the mountain. I was amazed at the breathtaking view of the villages and homes below... Even though the pictures don’t do justice, I’ve included some for you to take a peek at.

When we arrived at our destination, I found out that we were at the Baptist Mission. This Christian mission is similar to the Mission of Hope, except it has been around for a lot longer, so they have many ‘attractions’ including a zoo, museum and gift shop. We spent the morning exploring through the mission and taking pictures, and then sat down to a delicious meal of pizza and ice cream.... Ahhhh, what a wonderful taste of home! :)

On the way home, Rachel and I also seized the opportunity to stop by the grocery store, so that was an added bonus!

That evening after supper, the van der Marks and Rachel had yet another surprise waiting for me... A birthday cake! :) It was very special to share it with them. Looking back on the day, I am just amazed how the Lord abundantly blessed me. Even though it wasn’t easy to be far away from those I love, I am so thankful to have been able to experience my birthday in a different place, and for all of the special memories I made... It will definitely be a birthday I will never forget!

Another celebration I was fortunate to be a part of took place last night. The Cabaret children who have been staying at the mission since the hurricane are returning to their orphanage today. So last night as a special celebration, Rachel had organized a party for all the kids, complete with singing, skits, dancing, games and best of all, CAKE! The party actually came together last-minute, so right around supper time Rachel called me and asked if I would be willing to help her finish the cakes. So before the party as Rachel ran errands, I stayed in her kitchen and made 4 batches of icing and decorated the desserts. It was such an fun job for me, knowing that it would be such a treat that all 150+ kids would get to enjoy. 

When I went down to the church (where the party took place), I was thrilled to see so many excited children laughing and singing. It was such a joyful evening, but it was still difficult to say goodbye to all of the beautiful Cabaret children. Fortunately they aren’t going too faraway, so I will be able to go and visit them on occasion, but last night as they all returned to the high school (where they have been staying) for bedtime, I went along and my heart broke. Most of the children were preparing their beds (a flat sheet on the floor), while others lined up by an old, dirty bucket to use the bathroom, and still other small children, too young to get ready themselves, remained outside sitting in the gravel and waiting for an adult to take them to bed. It all started to hit me, that the lifestyles of these children, so seemingly desperate, was normal. These children have probably never slept in a comfortable bed, worn clean pyjama's, taken a warm bath, or felt the comfort of a loving mother who tucks them in, like I and most North American children have experienced. As I held, smiled and kissed the little ones around me, I whispered a prayer in my heart for each one. During this special time, Lord spoke to me and reminded me, despite the pain I felt for these children, He is the same Father to them as He is to me. Even when their care seems inadequate and their futures are full of unknowns, He made each one, and created them with a specific purpose. Just as I feel His presence in my life, He loves each one of them and will be faithful to them through the calm and through the storm.

Sometimes I question pain and why bad things happen to people, especially the innocent children of Haiti, and yet I have realized that without pain, there would be no hope. I feel blessed knowing that in some small way I am able to play a part in offering these children hope, and as the little boy in my arms fell asleep, once again I felt a fullness in my heart that this is exactly where I need to be. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


It's been the start of another busy week here in Haiti!
My teaching is going very well with the van der Mark children and we are almost ahead of our school schedule which is great! I have felt so encouraged by the way that I have been able to handle all of these new 'teacher' responsibilities and still have time available to be involved in the other activities around the mission.
Good news from last week - I managed to get groceries and fill my fridge with wonderful food to enjoy, as well as get some paint for my white walls. Right now we are experiencing some daytime power issues which will hopefully be resolved soon so that I can paint with fans and music - 2 very crucial things when it comes to hard work in Haiti! But I am really excited about the colors I chose: One thing to remember that on a Caribbean island, everything is BRIGHT! So to my delight, I chose a fresh coral color for my bathroom and a beautiful sunshine yellow for my bedroom. The main kitchen and living area will be a neutral sand color so that I can afford to keep my wild colored furniture without risking a clash! :)
Another highlight to my weekend was spending Sunday afternoon with my new friends, Rachel and Patris. Rachel is a fellow Canadian who grew up in Niagara Falls and is going on her third year here in Haiti working as the Hope House coordinator - and all of the other responsibilities that title entails! Over the past few weeks she has had her hands very full in overseeing the care of 100-plus orphans who are staying at the mission while their home is repaired from the hurricane damage, one top of all her other duties!
But with everything slowly coming back to routine, she came over for a while after church and we had a great time of catching up and sharing about our past few weeks in at the mission. Afterwards, we went along with Patris (a friend of Rachel's from Haiti) to Yolty's, a Haitian restaurant complete with dirt floor and stray dogs. Despite the sketchy atmosphere, we had some awesome Haitian food and I got to know them both a lot better.
I just want to thank you for your prayers in this area. I've shared with many of you that I was really trusting that the Lord would bring along some friends that I could lean on in Haiti. I was amazed how just that morning I had read from Psalms 27 and the words that stuck with me were - I truly believe that I will live to see the Lord's goodness. Wait for the Lord. Be strong and brave and wait for the Lord. 
I used these verses as I prayed on Sunday morning, specifically for good friends, and I was just in awe about how the Lord specifically answered my prayer. It just reminded me once again about all of the prayers that you have been lifting up for me over this past month, and I can truly testify the Lord's presence and goodness to me these days.
I can honestly say that without your prayers and the Lord's blessing, I would be drowning in a sea of fear, uncertainty and homesickness in Haiti. Yet I look at this place around me and I am filled with hope and courage to shine the light that I have been given. Even though I often have a heaviness in my heart, I feel compelled by the love of my Saviour to live each day to the fullest and spend it all. May it be all for His glory. Even in the hard times, even when my prayers don't seem to be answered (at least not in my timing), even when I don't understand, I know I can trust the One that has called me here, because I know I will live to see His goodness.
It is my hope that we would all be aware of His goodness in our lives, in the light and in darkness, and be reminded that His plan is always the best. All around me in this place there are majestic mountains and I look at them a lot. They are gigantic and glorious, but I just had a little epiphany - without the valley, there would be no mountain. If there was never pain, we would never truly know how beautiful joy and laughter is. And this is a promise I cling to most of all, that my God will never fail, He is with me just as much in the valley as He is on the mountain.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ups and Downs...

Wow! It's hard to believe that we are already into October!
It seems kind of crazy to think that just a few weeks ago I was home and living such a different life than I am now... Even though time is flying by so fast here in Haiti, it just seems so surreal that it hasn't actually been that much time since I left. I guess it tells me that I am adjusting to life here, and the Lord has surely been with me through the good and the bad.
I had a bit of a frightening experience at church this past Sunday. During the worship time, I was standing while I sang and I was feeling fine. As time passed, my feet began to get tired and I sat down to give myself a rest. As soon as I sat down I felt sick to my stomach and although my stomach wasn't aching I knew that I needed to exit. I tried to sit quietly and let it pass for a few moments, and all of the sudden I began to see black spots invade my vision. I felt very dizzy and fortunately was able to take hold of Cheryl's arm who was standing beside me. When I told her what was happening she helped me exit and told me to keep my head down. She said that I needed to help my body get the blood to my brain or I would faint. A few feet away we had parked the ATV, so slowly we made our way to it, but I had to keep stopping because my vision got really bad. At one point all I could see was white, and then everything went black. I felt so dizzy and my body felt very heavy. I had to crouch down very low on the ground and steady myself. Fortunately, I had 'Dr. Cheryl' talking me through everything and she drove me back up the hill to my apartment where she got me a cool glass of water and helped me lay down. I spent the afternoon resting and drinking lots of water since it turned out that I was very dehydrated. Due to the full day in the sun at the beach on Saturday, I think the heat caught up with me. So that was my first 'sick' day in Haiti... Let's hope that it's one of few!
Over these weeks there have been other low points, like having a lack of power or water, and plenty of bugs irritating me from sun up to sun down. And of course with one of my favorite holidays coming up next weekend, I'm definitely not looking forward to missing out on the family feast and fellowship together.
It's important for me to be able to share these struggles with you so you know how to pray for me as I deal with daily disappointments and frustrations. However, as I've expressed in previous postings, I don't want you to get the wrong impression. I am truly loving my life here in Haiti. This afternoon, after spending the morning teaching my kids, I had over 100 children playing on the jungle gym outside my door. I had to check that I wasn't dreaming. It was truly a blessing to go out and play with them and spend the afternoon laughing and talking and loving on those beautiful orphan children.

The times that I have experienced with the children of Haiti, and other moments - like watching the Haitian sun set over the mountains, or reflect on what the Lord has been doing in my heart these days far outweigh the low points. I wake up in the morning, and I can hardly wait to start my day, because even though I can expect to be let down by the temporary discomforts, I can also be assured of being filled with joy and peace and love and life. It's these moments of reflection when I know beyond a doubt that this is what I was made for. Thank you Jesus for bringing me to this place. A place where I can make such a tangible difference and be filled until I overflow.

Thank you all for your continual prayer. I know without a doubt that it has played a main part in my smooth transition to this new life, and I am so grateful.
Oh, and one more upside to look forward... Tomorrow is grocery day! After being here for over three weeks, it's about time we got our OWN food... So it will be nice after tomorrow to open my fridge and actually have food to snack on! That's another thing that I'm learning in Haiti - it's all about the small things! :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Beach and a Baby

It's been another busy week here in Haiti! Fortunately, yesterday I was able to 'getaway' to a local beach resort and spend a day by the Caribbean sea. For those of you who grew up with me, you will be able to appreciate this more, since it was always a dream of mine to live by the Caribbean sea! It became clear to me yesterday that the Lord never forgot about it. :)
I'm including some pictures from the day, and I look forward to returning there again sometime in the future! :)

As far as the rest of my week goes, I'm sure you are all anxious to know about my sink situation. Well, on Wednesday afternoon, the plumber came to check out the problem, and after a bit of sweat and elbow grease, my drain was working perfectly! I also had him check out my low-pressure shower head while he was here, and now I can actually wash all the shampoo out of my hair in the shower instead of having to rinse the extra suds out in the lower tap. It was pretty thrilling! 
Another eventful afternoon this week was on Thursday when I travelled with the van der Mark family and a few Haitian's from the mission to a school shelter in Cabaret. It was the same place I had visited a few weeks ago with the medical team, but this time we brought with us a ton of new clothes that had arrived on one of the containers. Before we left, we organized all of the shirts by gender and size, and then we took a large truck full of everything to the school. It was such a blessing for me to be part of the distribution of the shirts. From the moment we arrived, all of the residents began coming out and swarming around the truck. They were so thrilled that we had come to them and over the afternoon more and more people lined up.
We tried to bring some order to the process by having the men, women, and children line up and come in a separate times, which worked for most of the day until the end when they realized we would be leaving and things got crazy! We had all of the clothes in a school room (where the people with lost homes have been sleeping) and one by one they would come in to get sized in some clothing and then exit the room for the next person. This method was working well for us, until we started recognizing people. We began to realize that when people would leave with their shirt, they would get back in line to come and get more clothes. It was hard to turn away these people, knowing how desperate they must have been to stand in a long hot line just for an additional shirt, but we still had many more clothes to give out.
As we were passing out clothes in the schoolroom, there were also many young men and women poking their arms through the cement holes in the walls. I could hear them calling out to me 'Blanc! Blanc!' (which means 'white' in creole), hoping that I would pass them some clothing through the windows so that they could avoid the line. As the hours passed, the crowds of people outside grew, as word began to spread through the villages, and the volume of people's voices got very loud. By the time we left, we managed to give out clothes to the majority of families, but there were still people who did not get to us in time. It was very difficult for us to leave, but we had to abide by the rule at the mission - where that staff must return to the mission grounds before dark, due to the danger in the villages at night. Hopefully we will be able to go out again soon and give out the remaining clothes.

I want to share with you one encounter that I had in the school room that I will never forget. After giving out clothing to the men and women, young mothers began coming in with their babies. As we began to sort through the baby clothes, one of the mothers gestured for Cheryl to see her baby (she had remembered that Cheryl was a doctor from our previous trip). As Cheryl held the baby, I could see her concern as she told the mother that she would need to come to the Hospital of Hope the following day. The baby had an extremely high fever, and Cheryl said it was very important for the baby's survival that she come to the clinic. As Cheryl wrote down the mission information for the woman, I came aside the mother and felt the baby's forehead... It broke my heart. The poor baby, only two weeks ago was burning hot. She was wrapped in a thick blanket and wasn't even sweating. It was clear that this baby was very sick and immediately I shared Cheryl's concern for the baby's survival. When I got home from Cabaret I began to pray that the baby would make it through the night so that she could receive treatment at the hospital. 

The next day was Friday, and I was anxious through my whole morning of teaching to see if the baby had come and if she was alright. I spoke to Cheryl when she returned from the hospital later that afternoon, and to our shock, the mother and baby had not come. Cheryl thought that it was probably due to the cost of transportation to get to the mission that the mother was unable to afford. So in this blog, I urge you to pray for the precious baby who is in desperate need of a doctor. I don't know if I will ever see or hear of the mother or baby again, but it is my prayer that the mother will find a way to bring her baby to the clinic on Monday and that she can get the proper treatment for her child.
Please keep this in your prayers, and I will update you when I know anything.
Thank you again for all of your prayers for me and the missions staff in Haiti. It is such an encouragement to know that I am being lifted up and that the Lord is in control and working through each aspect of life here.
May we continue to live in the peace that He is Sovereign and that there is hope in every circumstance.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Week 2 - Life in Haiti

Good afternoon everyone!
I thought that I would take a bit of a break to give you all an update on my week so far. It's day 2 of our second school week, and so far the kids have gotten progressively better at working through our morning routine. I especially love how the three of them are avid readers. You probably won't believe me, so I am attaching a picture, but at 'recess' time instead of going out on the playground or having a snack, they sit on my couch and READ! It kind of shocked me at first... I thought that I was coming across as too strict about learning :), but I realized that they actually love to read! The only slight problem with this is that we only have so many english books here in Haiti, so hopefully we can find a way to get more books throughout the year!

Another part I love about teaching is listening to Bridgely do math. He is my youngest student and is just beginning to learn how to add. But what is unique about him is that when he works, he always sings... It's so cute to listen to him belt out the numbers and hum different tunes while he is adding numbers. Fortunately it doesn't bother Teagan and Grayden, so I let him sing to his hearts content... I should really take a video of it sometime. :)

As far as other Haiti life goes, this morning I woke up very hot and sweaty and realized that my fan wasn't on. My first thought was that it had quit in the middle of the night so I tried to turn it back on, but I soon found out that the power was out in my whole house. At breakfast this morning, I learned that due to the generator and inverter tendencies at the mission (don't ask me to explain this any further... I am not an electrician!), our power source will need to be repaired, and who knows how long it will take... It could be a few weeks or even months. Fortunately I still have water in my apartment, and wireless internet, so that is a blessing, but if you think of it in the coming days, you can pray that the power problem can be repaired quickly and easily. 

In addition, my kitchen sink in my apartment is extremely clogged. When I moved in a few weeks ago, some Haitian men had just finished painting, and they had drained all of the extra paint in my sink. The water from the tap became progressively slower to drain over the next couple of days, and despite my attempt to unclog it with Drano Max, it's still fully plugged. There is a Haitian plumber that works for the mission who has been asked to come and fix it for me, but he still hasn't shown up. As you can see, my sink is pretty disgusting right now. It's full of cloudy, dirty water with cockroaches floating in it, and it's beginning to smell. So you can also pray with me that the plumber will come to fix this problem soon!

Well, I think that's all for now. I am going down to the warehouse for the rest of the afternoon to organize children's clothes that were found at the hospital. When we organize the clothes in advance by size and gender, it makes distributing them in the village a lot easier. Even through such a seemingly insignificant task, I get such fulfillment to sort through the clothes, knowing that each piece will be received by families with gratitude, and worn for many years to come. 
Thank you again for all of your encouraging words and for keeping me in your prayers. I am attaching a few more pictures with this post to show you more sights from Haiti, and children I've met so far. When I browse through my photos after I've put them on my computer, sometimes I have to remind myself that I actually took the picture! It's amazing to reflect on what I've been experiencing!
Bye for now :)