Monday, August 29, 2011

Part of the family.

I have always loved weddings. There's something about family and friendship and love and celebration all coming together that warms my heart. I remember attending ceremonies as a little girl, just to see the bride enter the church with her father. My emotion always gets the best of me watching the parents let her go, and seeing the groom with eyes full of deep adoration. Over the years, I have had the privilege of being a part of the weddings for some of my closest friends. These have been some of the best days of my life, from the wee hours of the morning primping and crimping to the late night dance parties.
Yesterday I got to be a part of a different kind of wedding. My friend Idelie (who was the teacher for the mountain children this past school year), got married to her fiancee, Duvenel. This experience was like nothing I had ever imagined, but what an amazing day it was! After church I traveled to SourceMatelas to see Idelie's family, and before we even reached her house I could see the hustle and bustle in full swing. It was as if the whole village was preparing for the wedding event. Everywhere I went, I could see people carrying large dishes, hot ironing suits and gowns, blowing up balloons, loading Coke bottles into pick up trucks and on and on.
Reuniting with Idelie's mother and siblings was so wonderful, and thus began my own involvement in the day. I first found myself in the outdoor kitchen area of their home, where about 20 ladies were all working on the reception meal. After being fed some goat for lunch, I helped about 6 ladies fry plantains. They were really sweet to let me do it with them, as I was quite a rookie!
After that was finished, I was taken to the home of the eldest brother where the bride and all of the other girls in the wedding were getting ready. Now, based on past Canadian weddings, I was prepared for somewhat of a chaotic scene, but nothing could have prepared me for what I would encounter. The house was made up of 4 rooms, and when I arrived there were probably about 35 women and girls inside. One room was full of girls getting their hair done (the curling irons and straighteners were probably radiating more heat than the sun), one room was where the flowers and food were being gathered, one room was full of gowns, jewellery and shoes, and the last was where the flower girls were getting ready and congregating. In the whole house there was just ONE mirror, and ONE fan... There are no words.
At that point, I didn't really know what to do with myself, but I didn't have to worry about that because Idelie gave me plenty of instructions. The first step for me was to take a shower, so she handed me a cup and took my out in the backyard to a tin enclosed-type closet. It was dark inside but I managed to find the bucket of water and a bar of soap. All I could do was laugh, but after being inside the house, the cold water felt SO good.
After that, I was handed a curling iron by one of the ladies so I squeezed behind the flower girls and found a vacant part of the mirror to style my hair. After creating about 4 decent curls, I was summoned into the dressing room by Idelie's sister, Sidonie, to begin helping her get Idelie into her wedding gown. Now let me just say that Haitian's go all out on wedding garb. Satin gowns, jewelled veils, long white gloves, and sparkly earrings and necklaces. I was zipping, bustling, buttoning, clasping and dressing first Idelie, and then Sidonie. It didn't help that both ladies' dresses were probably 2 or 3 sizes too small, but I did my best. Then they sent me back out to the mirror where they gave me a palate of eyeshadows, and to the best of my ability I beautified the bride (she really didn't need any makeup!). The flower girls and other bridesmaids were all trying to give their own opinions on my work, and it wasn't long before the eyeliner was snatched from me so they could do it their way. I was so relieved!
Not long after, Robenson entered the house in a cream suit and told me to come with him, so I followed him back to the other home where the wedding vehicles were parked. After snapping a few pictures, the bride arrived, and I squeezed into the small SUV with her and 8 (yes 8!) others.
I am happy to say that despite the flurry of preparation, the wedding went on without a hitch. From the grand entrance, to the pronunciation of husband and wife, to the grand feast afterwards, the wedding was so beautiful!

During the ceremony, as I sat in the front pew with Robenson and his mom and watched the couple take their vows, I tried to absorb everything that had taken place earlier in the day, and how my presence had been so undeservingly welcomed. It was such an honour and blessing for me to be a part of the wedding day, but even more, a part of their family.

Matthew 19:29 says ~

And every one who has left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit life eternal.

I have mentioned this verse in my blogs before, about the wonderful people that I have met over the past 3 years in Haiti. People who have become more than just acquaintances or friends, and yesterday was no exception. I thank the Lord for allowing me to testify His promise of provision in being a part of such a beautiful family. A family bonded together by Him.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A good place to start.

It's hard to condense the past 72 hours into this text window. Saying my last Canadian goodbyes, hurricane alerts, a cancelled flight in New York (it's official, JFK and I do not get along), an earthquake, a rough landing through storm clouds, arrival in Haiti and into the constant stream of open Canadian/American/Haitian arms.
Each one of these events is deserving of their own blog post, but I struggle with where to even begin. I had a lot of struggle in the 48 hours of my journey... Wondering what kind of a start this was to my year. With every hiccup, I found myself falling inch by inch into clouds of doubt and yearning to be back in my lovely summer days.

It was in those days that I stumbled on a verse that I jotted down quickly for future reference. Little did I know how soon I would need it.
Look to the Lord for strength. Seek His face always. ~ Psalm 105:4
These words became my foothold.

Despite the unnerving circumstances, the promise here provided me with the peace to look to the faithfulness of my Father. The One who holds the earth in His hands, and whose presence is ever with me. Amidst the turbulence happening physically and mentally, it was certainly a good place to start.
It's my prayer that this verse would continue to resound through my days in the year ahead. That I would be made weak so that I can testify the strength of the One who is strong. May He be ever glorified. Thank you all for your many prayers that carried me back to my home sweet Haitian home safe and sound.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Last night on my drive to a coffee catch up, I saw birds flying overhead in a V formation.
I smiled to myself thinking about how in just a few weeks the skies will be full of Canadian geese making their way south for the winter. And also how tomorrow, I too will be in the sky above... A little earlier than the usual Canadian snowbird, but heading south just the same.
It's been the best summer a girl could ask for, and from some recent status updates I've seen on facebook, I know I'm not the only one with that opinion... Can't summer just last forever!? From the weddings, to the travels, to the home cooked meals around smiling faces at home in the kitchen, I couldn't have asked for anything more.
The coming months hold hope for a great fall term as I soak in a different kind of sun and switch gears into a new role and routine. Thank you all for making the last 2 months so memorable, for your heartfelt encouragement and for your every/anyday prayers. I look forward to seeing you all on my Christmas break!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

i thank God i miss you.

Living in two different worlds leaves me with an inevitable reality: No matter where I go, there will always be someone I miss. The faces above capture a very small percentage of some of the dear friends in my life - people that I didn't know I needed 3 years ago.
In 2 weeks I will be returning back to Haiti and reuniting with most of them, only leaving me to miss the ones that I get to be with right now. It's never an easy trade-off one way or the other, but Ben Rector puts a good spin on it.

'Sometimes I feel these words are cheapened by the way they're said, we do not mean them.
From a million miles away words are all I know to say, so I am speaking to you write now...
I thank God I miss you.'

I thank God for bringing such beautiful people into my life.
I thank God for the memories we've shared through the valleys and the summits.
I thank God for each one of you who has shown me a glimpse of what real community and love and joy look like. Thank you for being a shoulder to cry on, a reason to dance, and the most inspiring people I have ever known.
I thank God for bringing you into my life - some for a short time, and some for a lifetime.
I thank God I miss you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Purpose in the process.

We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at that goal is of little importance. What we see as only the process of reaching an end, God sees as the goal itself. - Oswald Chambers

Often times in life I have expectations. Expectations of myself, of others, and of God.
I believe that if I pull my weight, and if others cooperate, and if God is what I believe Him to be, then my life will reap the benefits. It's like a math calculation... Equate in the proper variables and you should end up with the desired product. Sure, there can be hiccups along the way, but nothing too costly, and in the end it will be worth it because with everything working in harmony, the desired goal can and will be attained.

Unfortunately I have a far-too large and ever-growing collection of stories and experiences that don't fit into this cookie-cutter model I set up for myself. No matter how high I keep my chin up, the reality of life is harsh. It leaves me asking questions without answers.
I don't have to list examples here. We all have them - A bad diagnosis. A lost job. A broken relationship. An abandoned child. A homeless family. And on and on it goes.

The beginning quote from 'My Utmost for His Highest' was a reminder to me this week that often my human perceptions of what our lives are about aren't always what we want to admit. A happy life of rainbows and lollipops may be endearing, but who needs God in that? The more we seek out a life free of pain, the less we recognize God's purpose in the midst of it.
What Oswald is trying to say here is that there is little we can learn about His character unless He takes us through the storm. Without being able to look back and testify His strength in my darkest moments, I wouldn't be able to understand who God is. And ultimately, our lives aren't about a particular outcome. It's not about succeeding, or reaching the summit, or redeeming our pride, or overcoming our illness or even saving the world. Instead, it's about us becoming closer and more reliant on a God who loves us more than we can fathom, and trusting Him above all the tangible things on earth.

For the things that concern me today, and for the people closest to me, I am praying not just a matter of winning and losing, building and breaking, surviving and dying. Instead of wanting to just reach the other side in one piece, I pray that we will find purpose in the process and faithfulness in the Father as we pick up the broken pieces. He is the only One who can put us back together.