Also this morning…

The hike that we took this morning was behind Shernando, near a community that we have been building relationships in. From where we live you walk through a plantain field & come up here….

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Those houses on the hill are the community (the hill is to the right of the bigger one that we hike up), and the bottom of the picture shows the water source for this community. We walk down, through the water, back up again, and up the hill for our sunrise hike.  We stay up there for a little over an hour, then hike back down past cows & horses to head back home.

Today as we were hiking, Tiffany swore she heard her name…as we were hiking…with no one near us. We hear more yells (and realize that these voices are separate from the church songs and prayers we heard this morning) and see that two hills over – the children could see us & were yelling to us! Of course once we arrived near the path by the water they began to run towards us to say hello.

As they ran to greet us, two boys walked past with water jugs to get to the water source…they fetched their water & then started to head back up.

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They stopped as the other children were taking pictures with Tiffany & Gail. Look at how small they are, and look at those water jugs. The poor older one spilled some as he tripped on the steep walk back home.

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What water is fetched in.

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Can you guess how young these children are? As the sun comes up, their job is to walk down from the houses in the first picture down to this water together, to get water from a slimy water source with little water flowing.  To bathe, wash dishes, cook, possibly drink depending on how poor their family is.

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Closer view of the water.

I’ve already gotten to a point where I am thankful when the shower turns on here, because our water doesn’t always turn on. From America, my shower seems pathetic and heard to deal with – but it’s pretty easy to get used to for me. But this? I have no idea what it is like to live in the shoes of these brothers. These are my neighbors, my friends. They are your neighbor too, even if you aren’t as physically close as I am. There is plenty of water in the world, there is plenty of money in the world – the problem is distribution.  What will we do with our awareness?

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Good Friday

  

Hiked the ‘mòn’ behind Shernando for sunrise – what a way to start Good Friday & reflect on how amazing He is. I’m not a hiker, and I’m always the last in our trio as we make our way up the hill.  Breathing heavy, legs aching, wondering why I got out of bed for this…Man, was it humbling when I started to pray & I remembered my Savior. We’re in the middle of the week celebrating what He did for us – He was beaten (while being mocked in the process) to the point of ALMOST death, then he had to walk with a cross on his back. No wonder he couldn’t carry it himself the whole way.

Got to the top & reflected for a little over an hour in prayer & scripture – and when I was smart enough to remember “Communication goes two ways”, I just listened for Him. And just heard the truth that He did it because He loves me. What else do I need? What else could fill me, after hearing that truth? God loves me, and in that I am complete. And not only does He love me – but enough that Jesus went to the cross & was mocked, beaten, and experienced the cup of wrath that I deserve…He is GOD, He could have stopped anytime. It was hard for me to talk as I was out of breath hiking, imagine how hard it was to speak as He struggled for his final gasps on the cross. And yet, Jesus used his energy and words to proclaim “Father, forgive them.” Because He loves me. Because He is SO good. I am full.

‘Pikan’ that Gail picked up as we hiked back down – Our Savior wore a crown of these as He was mocked. I got just one in my finger while we were near the top & it throbbed the whole way home.

His plans are always better

I have mixed feelings when I go to make a new post.  I want to laugh when I realize the reality of my day to day life once it’s written down while I also feel slightly overwhelmed at the task of describing even something basic! For example, I have a story that takes place in a classroom – whatever is in your head, erase it. It’s probably not a Haitian classroom.

Two stories:

  • A day here is hilarious, because my Monday started with no intentions of teaching.  A friend who knows English & works with us came over and asked Tiffany to come help with an ESL class that he was starting in about an hour. If you read my last post, you know that we are currently planning on teaching ESL in Bercy – of course we’ll go help, it means that we can both serve and learn for our own class! So we walked to the market & hopped on a tap-tap, rode to our friend’s community, and started to set up. What used to be the school is currently an unused building (See: small room equivalent to the size of a shed with a door and some windows) due to lack of funds – we unlocked the door and dusted off the tables, attempted to open the windows (Success was 1 out of 3), and wrote the alphabet on the chalkboard. In the opposite of ‘organized fashion’, about 15 students came in and sat down. Our friend sits with the students and asks us to go over the alphabet, leading to us teaching for over an hour and helping each student as we were all of a sudden teachers.  I wasn’t called “blanc”, “You!”, or “Stiffany” (I get called this all the time – a hybrid of my name and Tiffany’s name) – instead, I was called “teacher”. When I heard it I was shocked to realize how abnormal my day had ended up. I am definitely NOT a teacher. You never know where you’ll end up in your day.
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One of the “students” after class

  • A few nights ago, I asked a little boy (no older than 5 at most) how he was. He was silent and turned around, walking up the steep side of a ravine. I had no clue what to do, but decided to follow in case that was his plan. I started to walk after him, trying to keep balance as I wondered how this little boy with no pants or shoes was doing it. He walks over to a goat and starts to tug on it…this is where I start to talk in English as if he’ll understand. “Did you want me to follow you…?” “Oh look, there’s a goat where you’re walking, be careful!” “Um, maybe that’s someone’s goat, you might want to stay away!” …..Um, no. He’s going right for it, he looks back at me. I say “Ouvle ede?” (You want help?)…He’s still pretty quiet but starts to tug on the rope and try to get it so I mentally cross my fingers that he somehow owns it, and I go to help. I keep looking around for some guy to run over and yell at me for untangling his goat – but it didn’t happen. Eventually we get it untied (there were some tough knots, this was a five minute process of “The kid is still silent” “We’re on the side of a hill, one tug too hard and I’m gone” “There’s a goat under me how did I end up here?” “I hope I don’t get a machete to my hand for stealing a goat” “HOW IS THIS KID DOING THIS WITH ONLY A SHIRT ON?”) and the kid peaces out with the goat.  Luckily I looked up and an adult looking on kind of nodded like, yes, that kid’s family owns the goat. 

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So who knows where the day will take me tomorrow?

GREAT tweet I read tonight that I’d like to share: “I was determined to have a quiet night alone and ended up talking to two strangers for two hours about Jesus. His plans are always better. I’m pretty sure that the stories that I have shared aren’t exactly parallel to @kaylajohnson28’s beautiful example of replacing our own plans with God’s – but I think that they reflect the truth that we sometimes find ourselves in a place that we would never plan to go.

Whatever plans we make for our day, week, year – His are definitely better. Better than we could intend in our own plans, and better than we could imagine in our own minds that were CREATED by him.  I know that some awesome reward has come as I have let go of myself & my own motivations to make room to let God make HIS plans happen. Self-denial is hard, and SO not our nature, but it will lead to much better days.  (This includes the harder choices, when the story doesn’t have a funny side to it like the ones that I have shared today. Believe me when I say that I have been there & I am so glad that I made the choice that caused my own tears in the past so that I can type this to you today.)

Let’s all plan to be content in pushing down our own plans to make room for what we were DESIGNED for this week. Agreed?

(As always, MESI AMPIL for your prayers & support!)

How do you put it in words?

I realize that I still have not given a basic update since I got here, please know that it’s been on my mind! There are two roadblocks: time (we’ve talked about that) & the simple/complex truth that it’s impossible to explain one day, let alone two weeks in Haiti.  But I really do want to involve everyone in this movement, so here I am to try to bullet-point life since I landed 2 weeks ago:

  • I landed & once again felt like this is just where I belong.  How does a foreign third world country feel like home?
  • The medical team was wonderful. True medical skills & knowledge, compassion, an awesome group dynamic, and passion in the partnership between Grace Fellowship & Canaan – I could not have started my year off in a better way.  Our partner pastor, Samedy, is full of passion for people and he led the team much better than I could imagine.  The team was already planning the next trip on their last day.  And speaking of teams, I joined an amazing one with the CPR-3 Movement.  
  • Returning to Canaan was just awesome. A little boy named Devison grabbed my heart for some reason last June – he found me before our church service was done.  (Church in Canaan: A lean to wrapped in tarp, where people bring their own chairs. Devison was outside looking in through the door.)
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Devison after he said “wi” to remembering me

  • It’s a little intimidating/overwhelming to land & ask the questions “What are my goals?” “Why am I here?” – but I’m covered in prayer and SO have peace that transcends understanding! I’m starting to fund my place.  I get to help with partner (church to church) communication and I’m going to teach English in Bercy with Tiffany! (I am not a teacher AT ALL…but I speak English. So here I am, qualified to serve even though it seems funny to me.)  **Teachers/anyone with ESL experience, please comment with suggestions and also where to get materials!
  • Learning Creole.  I’m impressed with what I know so far & simultaneously discouraged in feeling helpless in communication.  I want to build relationships yet feel frustrated as I visit Samedy’s wife & can’t engage in true conversation. I buy my food in market but can’t understand the prices on my own yet, because I don’t know all of my numbers.  I start a conversation and have to stop as they start to talk more in depth, feeling bad as I cut them off with “pa komprann”.  I’ve also only been here for 15 days, so I’m trying to remind myself that it’s a process! And I have help everywhere around me.
  • What does a day look like for me? I wake up (after sleeping through the rooster’s crows that I am now used to) & go to a propane stove to boil some water for coffee. Tiffany & I read (or more often, get distracted by Shernando staff) while deciding what to do with our day, sometimes we have plans and sometimes we don’t – but every day ends up full.   We may walk to market, our main source of food, to buy veggies to go with rice and beans. (We may buy meat…Raw chicken, on cardboard, flies all over it, put in a bag with bare hands as I pay for a bundle.)  We travel by walking, motorcycle, or sometimes the public transportation of a tap-tap.  And once we go out, I try to build relationships and learn Creole as I start to immerse myself in the culture.  Every day looks different.  I can write more about day to day things in another post, I could start and write for hours to explain just one day!

So as brief as I can make it, there are some basics about life in Haiti so far. There is so much more to it, but this is a blog and not a book 🙂 Please feel free to comment or contact – I’ll update soon as I attempt to give you a glimpse of the country that I am serving in!

What Do I Miss?

I don’t miss a certain food, and I’m not necessarily homesick.  But I seriously did not realize how much time I save in everyday tasks in Ohio, things that I don’t even think about.  2 days ago I did my laundry.  Half of a basket took me about 2 hours, not including the dry time as my clothes were hanging up.  Yesterday we ate dinner around 6, but my market run was at 1 and we started to cook at about 3.

Especially for a woman, time is not something to be taken for granted in Haiti.  And I’m saying this as a girl who doesn’t have to fetch her own water or watch any children.  Ironically, I’m reading The Hole in the Gospel right now & the book was just talking on the same subject.  Specifically, it talked about water.  It was funny as I started the chapter…

“Most of you probably rolled out of bed today and took a hot shower” (Nope)

“You started your coffee” (I got out my water to start boiling it over a propane stove?)

“And turned on the faucet to brush your teeth” (Nope, I use a water bottle. There wasn’t any water coming from the sink anyway.)

“You then went to the fridge” (Don’t have that luxury here) “and put a clean glass in the door to get a stream of fresh, cold water” (I got some room temperature water from the Igloo.)

The book assumes the audience isn’t spending a year in Haiti. I laughed and pointed out the irony to my roommate, but the chapter still made me sit back and think.  Even here, I have such a higher standard of living.  I felt that I wasted an afternoon because I had to do laundry.  I could not make plans one afternoon because I had to start dinner right after lunch.  These are things that we don’t even think about, that cripple the time of others.  Even as I miss the free time I used to have, I still have a lot of time for myself.  Imagine if I didn’t have an Igloo of clean water.  Imagine if I had children, or was a child myself who had no time for school.  Imagine if I wanted a job, but barely had time for daily chores.  I didn’t realize how much of my time would be consumed by the lack of technology (and electricity) that is common to me at home, yet I am still taken care of well compared to my neighbors here in Cabaret.

I’ve wanted to write a new post all week, but between an internet stick that doesn’t always want to work and the plate of things I have to do after my everyday tasks are done – it has waited until now.  Just think about if I was not as blessed as I am, if my worries were much deeper than reading and posting on a blog and going to meet our partner pastors.

It’s Go Time.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways

(Psalm 91)