Thursday, March 31, 2011


Lately I've felt a little like a marathon runner.
Looking back at my return in January, I feel so far from where I began, and yet the finish line is still so distant on the horizon. Over the past 2 years in Haiti, this second stretch was broken up by some kind of 'pull out' period. A time to gobble up fresh Caesar salad and sip a Java chip, which in combination with some sweet company is the best refuel anyone could ask for. I know many who have come before and after me have gone much longer, but for me to put my best forward, this week 'pause' has been the key.

Last week was March break and yesterday morning I waved goodbye to mom and dad who came for my break to experience Haiti with me. It was more than I ever dreamed it could be. We got to experience so many faces and places, and each day outdid the one before. Trekking through the mountains, lurching by pickup through downtown Port-au-Prince, soaking up beachside sunshine, and tasting the goodness of fresh market fruit is just the tip of the iceberg. Having them in 'my world' was such a dream come true, and I wouldn't have traded it for anything.
And yet as I look ahead to the summer, the road ahead seems long and intimidating. 3 months flips between a threat and a breeze. Even as the days fly by faster than I can grasp, June feels dauntingly faraway, and there's so much to do before I can get there.

Hanging above my desk in the classroom there is a banner that flashes the word 'Persevere' in bright yellow lettering. It's a topic I emphasize to my kids frequently - a theme that I want them to understand and grab hold of not just in their schoolwork, but in their faith and the way that they live it out day by day.
It's in these past few days that I've realized that it's not just something that I have to teach, but to practice. Unfortunately, the latter isn't as easy, hence the blog and plea for prayer. The long road ahead isn't something that I should dwell on, but I do. It's like a funk of complacency and I don't like it one bit. My feet drag and excuses come easier.

Tonight I took a walk with the wind, and as I breathed in the island air, I whispered prayers of peace and perseverance in the days to come. That just as I urge my kids, instead of slowing my pace, that I could sprint and seize every moment for what it's made for. I want to believe that these coming weeks are the best ones. That the road ahead is full of goodness and my roots will grow deeper than ever before. That I will look back and testify the Lord's strength that enabled and sustained me.

Thank you for praying along with me that despite the tiredness in my heart, I would be inwardly renewed and find fresh joy in the daily grind. A daily grind that includes 7 children who challenge and fill my days with purpose, friends that bring laughter and love into my life, and a landscape out my window that brings me wonder and perspective. May I be fixed on these blessings in the days ahead, and may I persevere knowing that I'm not alone.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Meet the parents.

I have said goodbye to my parents in an airport 7 times over the past 3 years. After we let go, they stand back and watch the security line take me deeper into the terminal until I'm out of sight. Another goodbye, another chapter.

In year one, they heard me cry over a choppy skype signal from homesickness, and they read my stories of joy about riding tap taps and eating fried chicken. Year two, they listened to Jean Marc play guitar on my couch and prayed me through sleepless nights of aftershocks. Year three they watched Pierre's grin light up the video screen and tracked along with hurricane news and cholera crises.

They've been a part of the story from the beginning, from the first e-mail to weighing hockey bags, never failing to send care packages of decadent cookies with anyone from the Niagara region, and counseling me through every emotion under the sun.
I feel so blessed for parents who have faithfully supported me all this time.
We've waited a long time for this and tomorrow, it's their turn to come for a landing in Haiti.
Just the thought of spotting them across the crowd and watching the expressions on their faces in the many things we will experience over the next week leaves me pinching myself in disbelief.
I can't wait to show them my world. To introduce them face to face to the people who they have come to love from afar. To show them the places that have defined my time here on this island.

In my mind, it's as if this whole journey I'm on is a puzzle, and such a crucial piece will finally be put in place as they arrive. Haiti, meet the parents.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Here and Now.

So, what's your plan?
Are you in Haiti for another year? Another decade? A lifetime?

I can't tell you how often I get these question from both long-time friends and new acquaintances alike.
And just for the record, I really don't know.
It's certainly a topic that flutters through my brain a lot more these days. Even though we're still in March, it seems like thoughts about the next chapter reside in the forefront of my mind. Not just thinking about years down the road, but months. What will I do in the fall? Where will I be? Will this cause mean this effect?
It's a constant spin of uncertainty and expectation. Part of the anticipation is exciting, while other times I feel just plain exhausted. So many variables leave me with far more questions than answers.

This week I came across a different perspective from the book 'Forgotten God' by Francis Chan. The title of the chapter was 'What is God's will for your life?' and it is dedicated to the age old question with a new twist. After all, everyone's searching for it, and even when we think we find it, we're still itching for more. I don't think I will ever outgrow the desire to know what's around the corner.... In where I want to be, in what I will be doing, and how I will be fulfilling the gifts God has given me.
I don't think it's wrong to take time to process long-term plans, however when it becomes the focus of our everyday lives, Francis writes that we aren't being productive with the time we have here and now.
I don't know about you, but I find that quite a staggering truth. When I reflected on it, I began to realize how many times I've neglected to fully seize opportunities and drink in blessings of a day or even a moment because I'm too caught up with my '5-year plan'. I yearn to put all my ducks in a row so that I can get from my point A to my point B. The problem is that when my head is in the clouds of unknowns, I'm missing what is sitting right in front of my nose.

I can't deny that the days ahead hold lots of questions and decisions. Whether I'll be back in Haiti, or in Canada, or somewhere else on the globe is yet to be determined, and that can be a daunting thing. I appreciate your prayers for not just me, but many of us at the mission who are waiting on the Lord for what He has in store for our lives as we look ahead. And yet as we wait on His leading, that we would use these days to serve and pour out day by day, not be bogged down by the questions and lack of answers.

Let's face it, life has and always will be out of my control, but somehow I let my preparatory nature get the best of me. I assume that I've got decades left in my life to live, but not even that is guaranteed. Today is all I have.
I want to claim the truth that the Lord has the bigger picture, but He reveals it to me simply by shedding light on the feet on my path, not a million miles down the road.
My prayer is that in the days to come, I will be aware of His voice and nudging as He ordains the interactions I have with people around me both friends and strangers alike. I pray that I could plug into His plans for my life daily, not what may or may not come years down the road. Most of all, I pray that I would live in the mindset that these are the moments I was made for. May I seize them for all they're worth.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jars of clay.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

~ 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 16-18

I've been reminded in several ways this week that we indeed are jars of clay. These are the words that I am holding onto today - for me, and for the ones who need it most.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mountain fam update!

This afternoon I went for a mountain walk with my buddy, Peterson.

He's one of the 6 Louisant kids that lives on the mountain property next to the mission. As I stumbled along the goat path hand in hand with this 4 year old bundle of energy, I realized how long it's been since I've given an update on him and his family.

Currently, the 4 oldest Louisant kids attend school with their neighbour friends (3 from the Ferdinand family) in Source Matelas with a teacher that I was connected with earlier in the fall. I meet with the teacher every 2 weeks or so and I am thrilled with the progress they are making. Their uniforms are still worn faithfully to school on the porch of the teacher's family each weekday morning, and I recently got to see their mid-term reports from the past term. I was so excited to look through each subject and area of learning they have covered so far. Even though it's very basic compared to what they would be learning based on their different ages, it's a great foundation of knowledge that they are establishing.

I see the children and their mothers at church on Sundays and occasionally see their fathers during mountain visits after their time working in the fields growing crops. This time of year the land is very dry from a lack of rain, and so it is harder for them to get by simply on the things they harvest. Recently I learned that the workers involved in the university being built close by their property has given the fathers some land work to do which supplies them with a small income.

The shelters they live in still consist of tents and tarps, along with sticks and other materials they have accumulated over the years, but a new page is soon turning! Over the past few months at the mission, John (the father of my students, Noah and Caleb) has been overseeing the '500 Homes' project where building is happening for families who lost their homes in the earthquake and hurricane flooding. Find out more info about this on the MOH website.
Along with many other families who will be receiving homes, the mountain families are both on the list, which is such an answer to prayer! In the coming weeks and months, more decisions will be made as to when they will be moving and other commitments connected to this project.

It's amazing to look back to my first meeting with them about a year and a half ago, and see how the Lord has been working in their lives. Thinking about changes that will be taking place in the coming weeks, I have much to be thankful for, but also much to pray about.

Recently in our weekly staff meetings, Brad has initiated a group study of the book 'When Helping Hurts' by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. Taking time to read the text has been a good reality check for me to evaluate in what ways I have been a benefit to this family, and also ways that I have unknowingly hindered them. Above all, as I continue to nurture my relationship with the children and their parents, my ultimate goal is to empower them and assist them in being self-sufficient and strong witnesses for the Lord's provision in their lives. However, when I go to visit them at their homes and am asked to make decisions or faced with potential conflicts, I can easily resort to a quick fix rather than a lasting result. My prayer is that as I continue to invest in my friendship with these dear people, that I would have wisdom and discernment in how to effectively use the blessings I've been given to bless them. That I wouldn't create dependency, but that I would create opportunities for growth and abundance in the days ahead.

Thank you all for your journeying with me in my involvements with these families. Stay tuned for all that is to come, and please pray for them and for me as exciting changes unfold in the days ahead!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Oh baby.

Monday was a rough day. Our buddy Pierre was rushed to the clinic unable to breathe, and it was a scary few hours from the accounts of those in the emergency room. The poor little guy's immune deficiency and lack of muscle makes him susceptible to a lot of respiratory infections and without the nurses, doctors and resources that were available just down the hill, we would have lost him.
This hasn't been the first scare with Pierre. Please continue to keep him in your prayers in the months to come that he would get the proper paperwork and acceptance back in the States to receive more special treatment that can't be done here in Haiti. In the meantime, praise the Lord for the committed staff at the Clinic of Hope!
A few times a week, the kids and I have prayed for Pierre and his condition, so before school ended this afternoon, we took a walk down to the baby house to see him and his buddies, Hannah and Jeremiah, Matthew and Angelie.

These babies are one of the most charismatic bunches I have ever interacted with. I think it's physically impossible to step on the porch without breaking a smile. While the Haitian radio plays, they waddle around and look at you with the most endearing puppy eyes. Random screams and squeals echo in the pink cement house they call home, and they never cease to put on the pounds. It's hard to believe these same vivacious babies were the ones who were hours from death, or abandoned on a wooden bench. In the world's eyes, their time was up, and yet the Lord didn't let them go because He had a better plan. They may not know it yet, but they are testifying a beautiful story of redemption and hope. Their lives were never an accident no matter what family situation were born into, and even now the purpose of their presence is evident to all of us who are blessed to know them... From the way they baby talk our names, to their sleepy heads on our shoulder.
It's a comfort and a wonder to know that their heavenly Father loves them more than any of us here claim to. May He have His way in their lives one precious new day at a time.