Friday, December 25, 2009

Oh Come.

Oh come.

Come all ye,

From the most superior wise men among us, to the simplest shepherds, come.
Come to the manger.
Leave your burdens. Leave your regrets. Leave the life lists.
It's time to go to Bethlehem.
Where love first came down.
We're not that far now.

Come and behold Him. May we have eyes to truly see the magnificence.
May we somehow be able to catch sight of the miracle.
May we be captured by the manger throne. What hope it brings to all people.
The beauty. The cost. The love. The sacrifice.
How could heaven's heart not break on the day that you came?
May we celebrate the day that you were born to die.

Sing choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing all ye citizens of heaven - Glory to God.
Glory in the highest!
Not just a song, an anthem.
Not just in this day, but in this life.

May we never cease to praise you.
May we worship with all that we have.
May we falter so that your strength can be seen in us.
May we give you all the glory.

You are the air we breathe. You are the love we need. You are the life in us.
What an indescribable gift we have been given.
Freedom. Peace. Joy. Love.

Oh come.
Let us adore Him.
Come, let us adore Him.
Oh come, let us adore Him.

You are Saviour.
You are Lord.
You are Prince of Peace.
You are King.
You are Everything.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ordinary miracle.

Sunday afternoons at Gwopapapou are the best.
Snag a tap tap after the church service and veer off dusty Route Nationale 1 road through the royal blue and red metal door. Collapse into a white plastic picnic chair on the porch and the waitress already knows the order.
Sip Coke out of 1/2 litre glass bottles and mow down on rice, plantain and the best fried chicken in the world - and if you have room left in your belly, there is even coconut ice cream to top it off.
There's my plug for Gwopapapou... Hope your mouth is watering.

Today I was privileged to dine with my friends, Sadrac and Wicky along with Sadrac's sister, Sidonie. Sidonie goes to school in the Dominican Republic and is studying to be a pediatrician. She is home until the new year, so I saw her at the church service this morning and then she was able to join us for lunch!

When the plates arrived, we bowed our heads to pray and Wicky suggested that Sidonie pray for our meal in Spanish. I agreed and then offered to pray in Creole as well (I'm trying!). With that, Wicky said that he would pray in English, and then Sadrac chimed in that he would pray in French. So thus began our very 'cultural' prayer time!

As we said our 'Amens' I looked around at the faces around me and I realized the simplicity and also the miracle of the moment. Miles away from my Canadian family, friends, climate and language, I felt overwhelmed by the sense of community and love that I was able to share with this 'Haitian family'. Despite the culture barrier, there was such a sense of unity, love and community... It was the kingdom of God!

I sit here tonight as a testament to how universal and powerful God's love is. How a timid little girl in pop-bottle glasses, who can barely have courage to go next door and play with the neighbour can be the same one to jump on a plane alone and fly hundreds of miles from the 'safety net' of home to be welcomed in by a bunch of strangers... And ultimately, how these foreign people have earned my trust, respect, and seized a special place of my heart.

Sidonie, Wicky, Sadrac, Volcy, Sandi, Jean Ronald, Nahomie, Erta, Patris, Natalie, Billy, Vena, Mommy Edit, Fan Fan, Carpel, Dooken, Jean Jacques, Charlins, Rosemond, Naliz, Poppy Patris, Zo, Mimose, Mommy Sadrac, Dusten, Mr. Marc, Wontousley, Madame Cheep Cheep, and the many others who I fail to mention in this moment...
Thank you for overlooking my quirky Canadian default modes and calling me your sister. Thank you for seeing beyond my limited language and encouraging me in ways that don't require words. Thank you for challenging my shallow views. Thank you for reminding me of what true joy is. Thank you for inspiring me with generosity and selflessness. Thank you for adopting me into your family.

And thank you for prayers around a patio set.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


This morning I woke at 4:30am - No alarm required.
Just the knowledge that today I'd be hopping on a plane with Rachel and flying home to Canada for Christmas! Over the past week my mind has been replaying memories from last year, and anticipating all that the next 2 weeks will bring.
My hockey duffel bag is packed. My only pair of close-toed shoes are by the door. My camera is charged. My trinkets are packaged. I am READY.

So after my 2 hour sprawl and stare at the ceiling, I figured I could get up and officially start the day. I bounced out of bed and made my way out the door to see Rachel waiting for me. Rachel was not happy.
Apparently JFK airport has some winter warnings happening, and as a result our flight was delayed. Not this evening, not tomorrow, Monday.
My heart hit the floor.
That's 2 valuable days of Canadian lovin' I lose, plus the wait continues for 48 more hours.
In a frenzy, I got a hold of my parents, and my mom spent the next 2 hours on hold with Delta seeing if there was any possible way we could take another route.
Unfortunately, Monday is the best and only option.
So I sulked.
Then I cried.
Then I heard the voices of the Hope House kids, who spent last night sleeping at the guesthouse as a part of their annual Christmas party. They were eating breakfast and were getting ready to open their gifts downstairs. So I dried my tears, threw my hair into a knot, and headed down to see them.
When I opened the door to the kitchen a dozen beaming faces greeted me.

Diana: Good morning!
Kids: Diana! Are you and Rachel leaving Monday?
Diana: Yes, the plane can't go today.
Kids: So you are staying today? You don't go till Monday?
Diana: Yes, we won't go until Monday.

With the news confirmed, the cheers began. The kids were clapping and laughing and shouting. I stood for a moment still wading in my disappointment, and then I started to chuckle at myself. The kids were SO excited. It was as if they didn't even need any presents. The satisfaction that they didn't have to say goodbye to Rachel and I was such a celebration.
Here I was dwelling on bad news that was really GOOD news to 58 kids.

So maybe I don't need to cry anymore.
Maybe this is right where I need to be right now.
Maybe I need to make the most of my time here in Haiti and be thankful I'm not stranded at the JFK airport.
And hopefully, Canada will be where I need to be on Monday.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Midnight Intruder

In Haiti, visitors that come unannounced and uninvited are inevitable in your home. Rats, snakes, tarantulas, frogs, scorpions, mice, lizards, ants and some other creatures yet to be identified. No matter how much Raid or Bondo you use, they always seem to find a way into your haven of comfort.

A few weeks ago in the middle of the night, I woke up with the wind blowing in forcefully from my open window. Chilled, I got up to close it, and then laid back down. I was about to fall back asleep when I felt something move in my hair. It made me sit up and gaze around for a second, but I figured it was just the wind, so I put my head down and tried to fall back asleep without the fear of a creature in my house keep me awake. Before I could relax though, I heard the lamp on my bedside table shift, and as I opened my eyes, I saw a shadow, about the size of a large rat, move swiftly from the table to the floor. Seeing the dark shadow snapped my brain into adrenaline mode as I leapt from my bed and dashed to flick on the lights. Anything to save me from the frightening darkness of the unknown. My glasses were still on my bedside table and I wasn't about to go anywhere near the THING, so I blindly searched for something to defend myself. My heart was pounding. My mind fled back to when I was laying in my bed a few minutes ago... Could there have been a RAT in my BED!?!? The horrible visions of a greasy rat climbing onto my mattress. Leaving dirty pawprints on my sheets. Stalking and sniffing me. Or nibbling my finger. Or worse.

I nervously glanced around, making quick searches under my bed, and then I stopped.
There, sitting in a calm posture in my doorway was...


I stood in disbelief for a moment, and then relief showered over me.
With much better piece of mind, I returned to my bed to get my glasses, and then managed to whisk Izzy out of my apartment and back to her home (Rachel's house). As I entered my living area I assessed the damage. Somehow Izzy was determined to get into my house and managed to break through the side of my weak window screen. I drowsily made a makeshift clamp to close the gap with some wire, and then returned to my bed to sleep for the rest of the night.

Since that time, my window has been fully repaired and my rusty window wire was even replaced with some fresh clean screen. Truly a Haitian luxury! Everything was fully re-taped and I was convinced that it would keep all of the nocturnal creatures out.

Last night I was proved wrong once again.
I woke shortly after midnight hearing some scratching noises in my kitchen. I figured the mouse family under my sink must have been starting their Christmas party early this year, and didn't think much of it.... As long as they are in the kitchen and not in my bed. I fell back to sleep and was awakened minutes later by a familiar sound. Meowing.

Good ol' Izzy had found her way inside again.... I guess the packing tape around my window didn't quite cut it. So once again I let her out of the house, re-taped the window and went back to sleep until morning.

I'm sure it's not the last time that I will get a nightly visit from my friend next door... She's pretty crafty, and it may take more than packing tape to keep her out. But this I can say without a doubt, I'll take her intrusions any day (or night) when she keeps the rest of Haiti's creepers and crawlers out!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


This week I started putting together an iMovie for my report in church during my time home. As I sat previewing the show one night, I was moved to tears by the images flashing in front of me. It was as if I needed someone to pinch me to remind me that I am here, living these pictures day by day.

It took me back to a few years earlier.

How many Sunday evening services did I sit bawling as missionaries shared their pictures and experiences working in different countries and cultures with desperate people? I remember specifically the night that Kim Schilstra and Sarah Wingfield shared their separate accounts and testified what the Lord had taught them through their experiences in Honduras and Guatemala. With all that was in me, I wanted to be with those precious children they spoke of, I wanted to experience their journeys too, I wanted to go.

Years prior to that, how many days did I sit at my dad's old desk, the one with the world map glossed over the top of it. I would sit for hours at that desk scanning over the names and countries around the world. And then the day I got out my pen and physically circled the Caribbean Islands as a place that I hoped to travel someday. *Just a disclaimer, the reason for my circling was more due to the tropical beaches than the run-down village life, but all the same, I see the Lord piecing these experiences together in a magnificent way.

He has taken my dreams, my holy discontents, and even the smallest little tidbits of my childhood hopes and spun them together into a journey that I could have never imagined. Of course life isn't perfect. There are daily hurdles. Stresses and frustrations and discouragements, but even the hardest days are far outweighed by moments like these:

When I reach the summit of the hill that looks down upon the Louisaint family's home (in the mountains). My heart swells as the children look up and see us come into view. Usually wearing no more than a tshirt, they sprint up the hill to greet us. The giggles and shouts they make as they dash up the tiny path toward us is a priceless gift.

My hand was bruised after an incident on the playground with the Hope House kids. We were going down the orange twisty slide, and it got squished between the excessive amount of moving bodies around me on our descent. I knew it would take a while to recover from the pain after it happened, but it's been a month it still hasn't healed. This is a result of the constant pulling, twisting, yanking, grasping and swinging by a dozen eager hands that fight to hold it throughout the week. If my hand never heals, I will be completely okay with that.

Michelle has recently joined the guitar practice time when Jean Marc comes to play. Because there are only 2 guitars, Jean Marc and Michelle both play and I simply sing along to guide them in the rhythm. Over the past few practice sessions, I've noticed even at my strongest voice tone, I can barely be heard against the resonance of the guitars. The two of them play the praise songs so wholeheartedly, they completely drown me out. And it's so beautiful.

A couple of weeks ago, I taught the Loulous a song in our afternoon session. It comes from a song that I used to sing with the kids in Adventureland, before the days of 252. The words of the song sing: My God is so great, so strong and so mighty there's nothing my God cannot do for you. At first they could only sing the first line, and then copy the actions to the rest. Now, they sing it through all of the way and at full volume. I hear them singing it when I pass by their house in the morning as they are eating breakfast. I hear it when they are out on the playground with the Rumfords and all the kids are singing along, I hear it as we load the bus to head out on our field trip. And it always brings a smile to my face. I hope they never stop singing that song.

Yesterday morning in school it was Fun Day. With recent visits from grandparents, the kids have been stocked up with some new reading material and they were all at their desks and fully immersed in their books before school had officially begun. I took the liberty of extending our start time so that they could keep reading for a while and enjoy their stories. During the quietness of their independent reading, I scanned around the room and then at each student in my class. I watched Riley's fascinated expression as he opened the flaps of his bible story picture book, I watched Bridgely's mouth move as he sounded out the words to a chapter book under his breath. I watched Grayden find comfort on his upright plastic chair as he reclined his body and twisted his legs close to his body in a position that appeared like an acrobat. I watched Teagan and Maddy exchange glances and soft giggles as they shared funny moments of the plot line with one another. Pondering each of these children, and the potential that they hold was remarkable for me. In some small way I get to be a part of who they will become, and that is such a privilege. I can't wait to watch them be all that God has made them to be.

In a couple of hours, the junior girls will be filling my house with excitement and giggles. Tonight is our Christmas party where we're all going to dress up and eat desserts and I'll probably be painting a lot of snowmen on toes. It's been awesome to have this time with them each week. They knock on my door, bibles in hand, eager to crank the music, lounge on my couches, drink kiwi Tang and share stories. My floor will be scattered with popcorn and cookie crumbs when the night is over, and my apartment will be about 10 degrees hotter than it was when we started due to the extra body heat. And yet at the end of the night I'll switch the playlist from Stellar Kart to Brooke Fraser and as I clear the dishes, I will once again stand amazed that I have the chance to invest in these precious girls.

It has become apparent to me that no matter how many details or vivid descriptions I give, I can never truly express the fullness in my heart that comes from being in this place.

Tonight I will dream about fireplaces and snow softly falling on dad's shiny red truck, and cinnamon dolche lattes. Each day I wake up I anticipate another day closer to my flight home for Christmas, and yet, truth be known, the dreams in Wainfleet will surely be filled with different kinds of dreams... dreams about dusty feet, mist over mountains, giggling brown babies and tap tap rides. Dreams about creole conversations, children clinging to my skirt while we walk to kids church, sunsets over the sea, and the sound of hurried flip flop steps entering the classroom.

May the Lord receive all of the glory for guiding me on this path and revealing Himself in the 'whispers' of these moments He pre-destined me to dream.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


And I,
I'm desperate for You.
And I,
I'm lost without You.

I pondered the words to this song during worship in church this morning and realized how extremely counter-cultural they are.
We are a people of capability.
Independence and self-sufficiency is expected.
The more ducks you have in a row, the more successful you are.
Of course, we all have our moments... Little dependencies like stopping for directions or needing extra set of hands or getting some advice.
But that's not desperation.

Desperation is when there is nothing else you can do. Nothing else you can say.
When there is hopelessness. When there is despair.
Desperation requires us to be honest. Vulnerable. Transparent.
But that's just uncalled for in this day and age... It's translated as weak. Failing. Needy.
Nobody wants a label like that.

But the song... I'm desperate for You.
If you sing it. If you really mean it... It's true.
We're a people of desperation.
Desperate for acceptance. Desperate for satisfaction. Desperate for answers. Desperate for something more. Desperate for love.

It's easy to hide it under the radar. It can usually be masked.
But deep down there is a need that is reaching desperate proportions in each and everyone of us. We will do anything to find the cure. Everything except admit we're desperate.

I see it in the eyes of hungry children.
I hear it in the words of a friend.
I feel it in the crowd.

So what if I admitted that I'm desperate? What if I gave into the truth?
That I'm broken.
I'm in way over my head.
I'm lost and afraid.
And I'm desperate for You, Jesus.

I cannot do it on my own. I simply must lift up my hands and surrender.
Pure and utter weakness.
But Jesus doesn't smirk and tell me to smarten up like the world does.
His love for me isn't hindered.
He takes me in His arms.
He gives me peace that passes understanding. He whispers His love into my heart. And He covers every selfish motive with His perfect mercy and grace.
My life may be a spin of confusion, but He is the familiar foothold I can count on.

May our walls be broken down. May we find ourselves desperate. And may His grace and love be more than enough to pick up our pieces and fill us until we overflow with only Him.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Snowball effect

Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but this month is turning into a jam packed set of weeks. In keeping with the season, think snowball effect.... I've hit fast forward and haven't been able to find the 'pause' yet.
It's quite contrary to the first few weeks of school. The days seemed to go really slowly back in September, but recently it seems like we barely have started Monday morning, and the week is over. Here we are onto Thursday afternoon, leaving just one morning of school left before the weekend comes. Tomorrow the plan is for all 10 of us take our first field trip of the school year. It's well earned!
During our first few weeks of school I noticed us struggling to start school on time, and thus began the bell system. Every morning I give a 5-minute bell reminder and the kids are expected to be in their seats by the time we reach 8am. If they all make it on time they get to add a mini bell to the schoolbus (a decoration tin that my mom sent in a care package), if they don't make it, we take a bell out. Out goal has been to reach 40 bells and it has been attained! As you can probably imagine, we are all looking forward to getting off of the mission property and exploring Haiti's Sugar Cane Museum close to the city. It should be a great day!
When that's over, it will bring us to yet another weekend... And they are no less busy.
Friday night's I host the junior girls over for movie night where we paint nails, do facials, bake cookies and other GIRLY stuff. :) We also have been working through a 'Girls of Grace' bible study which has been really awesome.
Saturdays are my planning days. Unfortunately the lazy mornings that I have in my head - sleeping in, eating pancakes and setting up the workweek ahead - have had to take a back seat recently. There have been quite a few teams coming in and out over the past few weeks, and as a result of our lack of a group host at this point, the staff here has had to share the load. Saturday is my day, which gives me opportunities to get out into the local villages and orphanages and hang out with the kids and meet people from different parts of North America. It's a wonderful chance I have to get out and about, which I don't get to do during the week, but as a result, my planning times have been stuck into random evenings and afternoons making my weekdays more busy. I find random hours where I hit overdrive and plan more extensively in the different grades to make up for my lack of time on weekends.
Sundays are probably my favourite days, because I get to go to church and then over the past couple of weeks I've been visiting the Louissaint family in the mountains after lunch at Gwopapapou. The Hope House kids come up to the playground later on in the afternoon and I love playing with them and practicing my Creole, but when I finally sit down on Sunday night after taking a shower, I feel like I need a couple days to recover before jumping into another blur of a week.
Thank goodness Christmas is coming. I know that the time home with be a blur of gatherings and parties, but I am promising myself a few hours to sit by the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate and refuel.
Thank you for your prayers as I wrap up these past few weeks of school.... Pray that I can make good decisions about how I spend my time (when I get the choice! haha), and pray that I can have sufficient rest and downtime when I need it...
Less than 3 weeks to go now - 3 weeks to close up our school units, make extensive lists of what I school books and supplies I need to purchase when I'm home, celebrate Christmas with the Hope House kids, party it up with my students, and brace myself for a slightly different kind of climate! ;)
See you all soon!