Monday, September 26, 2011

a reason to hope.

the knowledge of our own poverty is what brings us to the proper place
where Jesus Christ accomplishes His work.
~ oswald chambers

and there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
and love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
get over your hill and see what you find there,
with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
~ mumford & sons

may the God who gives hope fill you with much joy and peace while you trust in Him.
then your hope will overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit.
~ romans 15:13

Friday, September 23, 2011

To be continued...

A month can hold so many things, and since I've been back it's been filled to the brim with a mix of events. There was the grand opening of the new 3Cords building, sweet reunions and new friends, baby walks (are they ever growing!), a wedding, mouse captures (and escapes - yikes), a school kick-off, waiting outside the principal's office, and indulging in my favourite fruit season... who says you can't eat avocado and drink grenadia juice for every meal!?
Now that we're on the brink of October, the dust is beginning to settle a little more. Noah and Caleb have been on vacation with their parents as well, dwindling down our class to just Zach and I, which has been great, but also very different from what I'm accustomed to. This 'breathing' time has given me an opportunity to look beyond my horizon to some of the other ministries and needs on campus.
I ask you all for prayer as I seek out the different ways that I can serve in this place, and to find wisdom and peace in knowing where I fit. That I may discover new investments - not just a way to fill up blank spots in my days, and to strike new chords with the passions in my heart that the Lord has given me. He has guided me so faithfully these past 3 years, and I am excited to see what doors will open in this next chapter.
To be continued...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Get growing.

Almost every property in downtown Port-au-Prince is bordered by a wall or gate of some sort.
As we were zigzagging through the city streets today, dodging incoming tap taps and bustling pedestrians, a certain cement wall caught my eye. Through the stones and cement plaster raised from the jam-packed sidewalk, there were a few different kinds of plants growing outward. Something about this little drive by sighting stuck with me and wrapped me up in my thoughts for the rest of the ride home.
Maybe it's because Caleb and I have been studying plants in his science unit and I've been drilling in the needs of living things. Water, sunlight, good soil, carbon dioxide... You know, this lesson isn't rocket science - after all we see this growth happen everywhere, but the sight that flew by me downtown defies those simple odds. Somewhere back in time, a few seeds found themselves caught between a 'rock and a hard place' (literally), and had to beat the odds to sprout and flourish. Call me crazy, but that process has given me a new perspective.

Ever since I've been back in Haiti, I have found myself dwelling frequently on the things that I lack. There have been a significant amount of changes since I was here last June including the dynamics and number of staff, my job, and the daily routine... And they just keep on coming. I have had numerous chats with the Lord about this, knowing that it's all in His plan to teach me more about who He is. And yet deep down inside I feel like I have a 'right' to some of the things He's taken away, as if they are necessary for my survival here - just as the plant needs those few staple provisions to stay alive.

Driving past that wall of cement today was a bit of a wake up call for me. A testimony so to speak, that in the darkness and dryness of a dusty wall of cement, a seed could have enough gumption to grow. Or maybe not so much accrediting the seed with the gumption, but a miraculous demonstration of the Lord... Even if the only fruit was for me to see it and get a kick in the pants.
The truth is, I'm going to adjust to these changes one way or another, but right now a lot of it has to do with my attitude and openness. The title of my blog that came to me in a prayer over 3 years ago is still staring back at me as I write this post - embrace hope. Because if I can turn my eyes from the rear view mirror, I will be able to see the bright opportunities waiting for me on the road ahead... I'm pretty sure once the seed caught a glimpse of the light, it made the process a lot more easier.

Deep down inside, there's something new to sprout. The change may seem dark and dry, but the hope and promises of the Lord are more than enough to get me growing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The principal's office.

The back-to-school week has always been known as a little crazy, but I think this year's 5-day stretch takes the cake. Amongst the gear-switching of routine and extra-curricular action, I found myself sitting outside the principal's office multiple times... And contrary to the norm, I actually wanted to be there.
To recap on some previous blogs, I have been working alongside my friend Robenson to try and enrol the mountain family kids into the school at Mission of Hope. Before I left Haiti for the summer, I met with the principal (Met Soufrann) a few times and we got the ball rolling on their files for the upcoming school year. This week, I was back at his doorstep ready to finalize everything for the year ahead. Fortunately, the national schools don't start classes until October this year, which has given me a bit of an extra cushion to lay out all the groundwork before the offices become grand central station.

So down to the principal's office I went on Monday afternoon, where I first met up with Robenson to develop our 'game plan'. This pretty much consisted of me telling Robenson what I hoped we could come away from the meeting with, and him refining those ideas into a feasible course of action. From there, Met Soufrann invited us in, and we began assessing each of the mountain children based on their age and the grade level they would be placed in.
Unfortunately, it wasn't long before we were made aware of another hurdle. The documented information that we had discussed about the children before I left last June had been lost in the heap of file folders on his desk, so we couldn't move forward until we had new copies of their birth certificates to verify ages. In addition, the kids also needed photos for their files.
So back to the drawing board... We scheduled another meeting for Tuesday, and I left feeling slightly defeated at our lack of progress. Robenson was still in good spirits though, and he assured me that if we focussed on getting the missing pieces in the coming week, there was still lots of time to sort things out before October's school start.
By evening, I was feeling better because I had gotten another printout of the birth certificates (thank you Mazurs for your copy services!), and Robenson informed me by phone that he had been in touch with a photographer from SourceMatelas who would get pictures of all the kids the following day.

Tuesday afternoon I bounded down the hill once again, straight Met Soufrann's office with birth certificates in hand. Another hiccup. Due to some all-too-familiar cell phone service issues, Robenson was MIA and I couldn't get a hold of him. So I left the birth certificates with Met Soufrann and we postponed our next meeting for later in the week.

Thursday rolled around and down again to the principal's office I went. The secretaries and janitorial staff were getting pretty used to seeing me at this point! Robenson was waiting for me on an orange plastic chair in the hallway, and we caught up on our latest advancements. He informed me that the photos had been taken and would be printed on Monday. Things were already looking up!
We got up from our chairs to go in to see Met Soufrann, and he quickly came around the corner of his office door informing us he was off to a meeting. We all stood there for a moment not sure what to say, and then he quickly switched directions and rushed us and his secretary into his office, telling her write fast to get the paperwork done before he had to leave. Bless his heart for taking time for us! Soon another school administrator (Jocelyn) joined us and began confirming placements of each of the children. The sad news I have to tell you is that the 3 oldest children: Francia, Wala and Shaylyn are too old to be enrolled in the school, so Robenson and I now need to investigate other village schools that may accept them. The good news however, is that the 5 other kids: Peterson, Dida, Senson, Elumain and Jean Berthel will all be attending classes at the School of Hope this coming school year!
After Met Soufrann confirmed logistics, he went on his way to the next appointment, and we stayed with the other administrator to complete the paper work. Sitting there with Robenson and witnessing Jocelyn finalize the enrolment was such a rewarding moment for us, and I can't even begin to say how grateful I am to the Lord for His provision in this. Only He could have aligned all the details so perfectly.

I also can't go on another sentence without recognizing all of the Haitian staff at the school for their faithfulness and hard work in making this happen. I would have easily understood if they would have discluded these children - with no past identification or association with the school - from enrolling. However, it truly reflects the heart of their ministry and their passion to see a future generation of literacy and life-change.
Thank you all for your continued prayers and support in these days of waiting and searching out possibilities for these students, down until the last pieces are in place. If you would be interesting in sponsoring one of these five beautiful children, or any other children attending school this year, please contact me or e-mail
Let the learning begin!

Monday, September 5, 2011

back to sChOOL!

The pencils are sharpened, the desks are cleaned and arranged, the books are lining the shelves, and the BB guns are loaded!
To state the obvious, this is a very different and stretching kind of school year for me... The do-it yourself calendar that once hung on the wall a few feet off the ground to be in reach for my smaller students is now in storage, along with the primary colour wheel and easy readers.
Instead of singing the months of the year and counting coins, I am diving head-first into Algebra, American history, and the scientific method to name a few. With Zach in grade 8, Noah in grade 7 and Caleb in grade 6, it became apparent to me over the summer that my story circle and finger plays weren't going to cut it. Instead I had to think a little more outside the box in the line of creepy crawly, flex your muscles 'coolness'.
Hence - the back to sChOOL title and knock-off Ray Bans for everybody!
Cheesy? Maybe.
Effective? I'd like to think so!
See for yourself here:
(Wish I could post pictures on my blog page, but the internet isn't cooperating very well today!)

Praise be to God, we started school this morning and had a great kick-off. We dove straight into the story of David in the bible, hung up our American, Canadian and Haitian flags, and the boys even got their first whiff of that 'new book' smell. I'm excited for all this year will bring and for the daily learning that will come about for each one of us.

A few months ago, one of my previous students shared a few of her favourite songs with me, and one of them was titled 'Lead Me' by Sanctus Real. If you've heard the song, you know it's geared more towards husbands and fathers, but as I sat alone in the stillness of my classroom this morning, before any boys came bounding in, I hummed the chorus to myself.
Father, give me the strength to be everything I'm called to be
Oh Father, show me the way to lead them, won't you lead me.
Lead me, cause I can't do this alone.

... So that when the sunglasses come off, the blaring speakers are turned down, and they look back on these days in the years to come, that they would remember the ways that they grew not just in knowledge, but in their love for the one true Leader of their lives. May they rise up to become all He has made them to be.