Monday, June 15, 2009

Mountains beyond mountains

The title of this blog is a common saying that has been established Haiti. Just as this island is blanketed with mountains far beyond what the eye can see, so it is with our lives as we live day by day, season by season and year by year. We all have mountains to climb, with moments both in the valley and at the summit. We are all on a journey, and when one mountain is trekked, there is always another to follow. 
With that being said, I would like to share my new 'mountain' with you. As I've already expressed in a previous blog, I have committed to another year to serve in Haiti with the van der Mark family. This year has been full of firsts and a lot of climbing - my first year living away from home, planning and implementing my first year of teaching, and my first real-life exposure to a new culture, language and climate. 
By the Lord's help and grace, I've trekked the mountain.
Even though I haven't mastered the climb or made it to the top yet, over the past few weeks I have felt like school next year will be pretty easy. Kind of like an instant replay of this year, except now I know what to expect as far as living accommodations, I'm familiar with the Haitian lifestyle, I know my students, and we've all been broken into the 'one room schoolhouse' routine. 
This feeling brought a lot of security and confidence in my own abilities. However, somewhere deep inside me I knew that the Lord had something else up His sleeve. After all, that's not the way God works. He is in the business of miracles and making the impossible a reality. My own confidence wasn't leaving much room for His strength and power. Something else was coming. So in a sense, I was waiting in expectancy for my next 'mountain'... Trusting the Lord to bring along something that I'd really have to 'lean into Him' for. I know it might sound strange... It sounds strange to me even as I am writing. Why would I ask for more mountains??? And yet, I feel that the breaking points and challenges that this year have brought me have also been the source of my greatest growth and most abundant rewards. To go into another year of teaching the same kids with the same schedule undoubtedly will bring unseen hurdles with them all going into a new grade, but I had faith that the Lord would open up another door, another mountain, where that would stretch me in my ministry in Haiti.
The Lord heard my prayer.
A few months ago, while still in 'decision' mode, Laurens and Cheryl informed me of friends of theirs from Canada (Grant and Sandy Rumford), who were thinking seriously about committing to serve at the Mission of Hope for a year (just like us). Grant is a paramedic and would be involved in mobile clinics, development of the emergency room at the Hospital of Hope, and assisting Cheryl in her many roles at the clinic. Sandy, who is currently an office worker for Feed the Children Canada (the same organization that all of my financial donations have been wired through) will be getting involved in the office work and sponsorship administration at the Mission office. 
What does this all have to do with me you ask? Well, they have 4 children. 4 children that need a teacher. So next year instead of 3 children in my classroom, I will have 7... There's my mountain!
A mountain that I can't climb alone, but it's also a mountain that reminds me I belong in Haiti and that the Lord is not finished with me yet.
Let me tell you what I know about the kids and their ages. Although I still haven't met them, I have been corresponding with Grant and Sandy and I've enjoyed learning about their family so far. I look forward to meeting with them this summer for a more formal introduction!
Another bonus is that Laurens, Cheryl and the kids already know the Rumford's well (both families attend the Meeting House and were in the same house church), so I've also been hearing a lot about the Rumford's through the van der Mark family. As you can imagine, the kids are pretty excited to have a new family, more friends and classmates to work with in the fall!
The Rumfords also have started a blog recently which I have tabbed in my links section. Check that out to read more about their family and their journey to Haiti. Please keep all of them in your prayers.
So, beginning with the youngest we have Riley. He will be in grade 1 next year so a lot of my teaching with him will be a repeat of what I have just gone through with Bridgely, although I will probably do my best to combine Bridgely and Riley together... Kind of like a grade 1/2 split. Next we have Samantha (who goes by Sam). She is the same age as Grayden, so I will be going through grade 5 curriculum with them. Following Sam comes Madison (who goes by Maddy) and her and Teagan are the same age. They have already become good friends through junior high youth programs at the Meeting House, so it will certainly be a fun year for them completing their grade 8 year together! Finally, there is Michelle who will be entering grade 11 this year. She will be following an online program available for homeschooling students, so Michelle will be fulfilling all her requirements through that program. This is good news for both of us since I certainly don't feel adequate to teach the senior years of high school - especially when it comes to math and science - yikes! The bonus is, Michelle wants to become a music teacher (all of the Rumford kids, like the van der Mark kids, are musically inclined), so it will be a wonderful benefit to use her assistance in the classroom from time to time. Through this, she will be growing in her experience as a leader and teaching skills, kind of like a coop placement! Attached below is a picture of all of them.

It is sure to be a year full of fresh challenge and growth for the all of the kids and I. Already I have been anticipating all of the fun that we will have together, as the larger numbers will allow for more 'group work' activities, and potential to combine lessons across grade levels. 
In the same way, this task also feels quite daunting. Especially when looking ahead to the months I'm home this summer, I am feeling a little overwhelmed by the amount of planning and preparation that I will need to cover for all of the different grades and levels, and the amount of resources that must be gathered during my time in Canada. I know without a doubt, just like last year, that Haiti is where I belong for another year, but it is not going to be easy. I am thankful to the Lord for confirming this place in my heart, while also trusting Him to guide me and help me to give leadership to this expanding classroom. Despite my worry, I lean on the promise that He never gives us more that we can handle!
Thank you for your prayers for me in this next chapter. I am so excited to come home and share with you more of the details of this new adventure I'm on! But for now, I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers as the van der Mark kids and I 'finish well', and look ahead to another mountain with confidence in the Lord to carry us through.


Renee said...

Wow that is exciting news and so cool that the kids almost all fit into the grades you were going to be teaching anyways. God is good and He will pull you through! But you will be certainly working hard this summer to make sure you are ready. You will do an amazing job, I am sure. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Sarah said...

I'm really happy that you're staying another year! This is really great news... and I'm really (almost in a way) proud of you. You're amazing!