Monday, August 30, 2010

Coming in for a landing...

It's day 4 in Haiti.
In my mind I am still landing into a foreign place. In my heart, I never left.
Let me tell you what I've been up to thus far. Deep breath, and here we go.

My flight arrived in Port-au-Prince on Thursday afternoon. Laurens and Leeann picked me up from the airport, and I ventured back while making spontaneous, out-loud observations of what was out my window... and thus began:

- A sweaty evening of hugs and reunions
- Staff meeting at the office (I am so blessed to work with these people)
- Trek to see my mountain family (What a sweet reunion!)
- Late lunch at Gwopapapou
- Visit to the Hope House
- Meteorological update from Cheri (Earl's a-comin'!)
- Trip with the film crew to the city - consisting of Boutilie (highest lookout point in PAP), lunch complete with chocolate milkshake, entering the now open-air Catholic cathedral, the metal works shops in Croix-de-Bouquet, the tent city to visit our amputee friends, and a sunset drive home.
- Guacamole goodness
- Commencement of Friday Night Lights season 4 (Texas forever)
- Church worship (Fidel, se konsa w rele!)
- Kids church organized chaos
- Gwopapapou trip #2
- Moto ride in a dress
- Skype with newly engaged VICKI! Congrats Donald!
- Mountain trek #2
- Caught in a hurricane on the way back to SourceMatelas (Hello Earl! *okay it wasn't a full-fledged hurricane, but it might as well have been with the amount of water coming down).
- Guacamole party
- More season 4
- Goodbye to Sadrac and Wicky (they are the brothers I 'adopted' in Haiti and now are heading to school in the Dominican Republic)
- Jam time with Jean Marc on his BIRTHDAY!
- Reunions have continued with the Haitian population including: Volcy, Erta, Vena, Patrick, Jean Ronald, Patris, Nahomie, Jonny, Poppy Patris, Zo, Mamon, Mommy Lucienne, Mimose, Manna, Samuel and on and on.

Today I finally got around to unpacking my bags. Yes, with the de-cluttering and continual flow of visitors (including 4 of my 6 students... it's going to be a great year!) it was an all-day activity.
Tomorrow my goal is to make it to the classroom. Somewhere in the mix I also hope to eat a mango and go to the waterfall in Sodo.

I am so thankful for these beginning days. The memories of these cherished moments will last long into the days ahead. It's been the spark to start a year of possibility and I am excited and hopeful for all that awaits in the weeks and months to come. In the same way, I know that big challenges also lie ahead. Moments where I ask questions and begin to doubt why on earth I am living on this island. Times when weaknesses are revealed and refining hurts. A lot.
I want to keep believing that just as He was with me in the upstairs bunkroom of the guesthouse 2 years ago, so He is here with me on my red velvet couch filled with wonderful people. May He continue to work in me in the year to come through the valleys and the mountain peaks. Thank you for your continual support as I embark on yet another journey.

God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. ~ Ephesians 3:20 (The Message)

Sunday, August 22, 2010


It's that time again! It seems like every other store and commercial is revolving around the season of back to school. New clothes, haircuts, backpacks, locker decor and whatever you can stuff in a pencil case.
In a very short time I will be standing in front of a blackboard, grading written assignments, explaining mathematic formulas, and racking my brain on how to make the European settlers fun to learn about... because I'm the 'teacher', right?
But recently I've been thinking about teaching a little differently.

There is 'teaching' in a school, conference, or business-style context, like what I was describing above - the classic lecture all the way to a one-on-one hands on experiment. But teaching isn't just about being in a classroom or gaining new knowledge about a certain topic, it's engrained in us as a way to grow in who we are as individuals. Teaching is happening everywhere all around us and we just fail to acknowledge it. Trial and erroring, talking out loud, discovering something new, linking together connections. In a very informal way, we are being taught and are teachers to others every minute of every day.

This week I made a list of people in my life who have had a big impact on who I am today, and who I am becoming. There is but one commonality in all of them and it is this - They have taught me at least one big life lesson.
I think the people that have the most significance in our lives are also our greatest teachers. Not the 'stand in front of the blackboard' kind of teachers. The 'sit across from you in a coffee shop' teachers. The ones who dial into my struggles and echo understanding and encouragement. The ones who's characters inspire me and cause me to exemplify their outlook or attitude. The ones that demonstrate patience and see through my stubbornness.
I want to be that kind of teacher.

But more than just being a good teacher, the question I am beginning to ask myself is, how teachable am I?

When I first moved to Haiti, I approached the people I met with the mentality that I had all of the answers. My Canadian citizenship and skin colour plopped me into a category where I could easily float along and assume that I knew it all. But the longer I've been in Haiti and the more I assess my know-it-all ideologies, the more I realize how far off the mark I am.
I want to be more deliberate this year about being teachable. Our world is full of people, culture, choices, opportunity, relationships, and emotions. And more and more I realize that by opening ourselves up to gain a new perspective, even the most unlikely people can sometimes change who we are for the better.

I think sometimes I forget that I am still learning. I give the diploma hanging on my wall permission to grant satisfaction. It's a dangerous trap. I never want my job title to exempt me from being open to a new approach or attitude. More than ever, I want to keep learning and growing, sharpening my mind and softening my heart to being better one day at a time.

To all of the gracious teachers in my life - you know who you are - thank you for the big and small ways you have journeyed with me to get where I am. And to the greatest Teacher of all, thank you for carrying me through the valleys, and waiting with me through the storm, and faithfully believing in me when I lost all hope in myself. I am chasing after You.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Translation: Almost.

Context: Haiti departure.

We are narrowing down on 2 weeks to go... As I scramble from dentist appointment to coffee date to sidewalk sale to campfire I am continually reminded of the wonderful summer it has been. Despite the flurry of activity, it has been so great to sleep past 8am, curve down some of my favourite winding side roads, and drink in the familiarity of friends and places in this land that I love.
School books lie dormant at the foot of my bed while frying pans, hand-me-downs, embroidery floss and mosquito nets accumulate in an ever-consuming corner in the basement.
My shopping list is gradually dwindling down to last minute necessities - nothing that a few Walmart trips can't fix. A toilet brush, flip flops (mostly for killing cockroaches) and guitar picks are right up there at the top with the long-awaited 4th season of Friday Night Lights... I am pretty confident that a large portion of MOH staff would disown me if I didn't bring that back.

On the flip side, my heart is beating at a quicker pace with the reminder that my 'other' life is awaiting on the horizon. In a month's time our school year will be humming, the bottoms of my feet will be permanently dust covered, mangoes will be a daily food group, and my leg muscles will be back in shape from mountain treks.
The short but sweet communication that's been kept with those still in Haiti gear me up for so much to come in the year ahead. Excitement, fear, joy, heartbreak and anticipation mesh into one of those emotions only the butterflies in your stomach can describe. Time is ticking and this time I actually don't mind. Minus the goodbye... I've never been good at those.

I am determined to make the most of these 'preske' days, and I want thank each one of you for the love and open arms you've shown me in my comings and goings. God bless you all! Looking forward to a year of possibility and change as I press on and embrace all that is to come... especially hope.