Monday, November 29, 2010

Elections in Haiti

In case you haven't heard, Haiti held elections yesterday. The people here want change. They wanted their votes to matter, and the people who planned to vote seemed excited to elect someone into office who will lead their country through the rebuilding process, create jobs, and find a solution to the displaced persons camps. Unfortunately, it seems that the election was not as "fair and transparent" as the Provisional Electoral Council claims it was.

I found a video online that highlights some of the problems at the polling stations. The people were upset about these problems, and rightly so. The majority of the presidential candidates called for the election to be canceled and postponed until it could be completed without fraud. The candidates asked the citizens of Haiti to peacefully protest the election. So, the people did just that. Many people took to the streets in Port au Prince calling for Preval (current president) to be arrested. From what I've read online, the protesting was peaceful and there wasn't any violence. Thank you, Jesus! It seems that the streets in the capital are calm this morning, and I'm praying it stays that way.

One thing is certain: Haiti needs a government that is not corrupt. How it's citizens go about obtaining that, I have no idea.

PS. I am safe on the mountain. The protests are far away from me, and my neighborhood was quiet all day yesterday. My neighbors had a little cookout and some compas music, but other than that there is nothing happening even remotely close to us.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Serious Stuff

Elections take place tomorrow, Sunday Nov. 28th, and tensions are running high. In the States we get up a little earlier than normal, stop at the polling station on our way to work, cast our vote, and then watch the results on TV that night. Elections here are a little different. First there are the manifestations to avoid, if you can. Then there's the widespread belief that it doesn't matter who you vote for because the system is so corrupt that whoever has the most money and/or connections will win. And there seems to be some fear of what will happen after the results are announced.

What they call manifestations here are basically disturbances that tend to turn into riots, and they are escalating in Port au Prince. Things are definitely heating up in the city. Enough that school was canceled Friday so the kids wouldn't be out on the streets. There's even talk that it could be canceled on Monday too if the manifestations don't calm down.

Please pray that the elections will go smoothly--without the violence and corruption that seems to plague Haitian politics. Pray also that people will not be afraid to go out and vote, that the person elected as president will lead the people well.

***Just a special note that there are no manifestations happening in my neighborhood. I am safe here on the mountain. The crazy stuff is happening in downtown PaP.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

QCS Discipleship Group

Willem and Beth Charles (founders and directors of MTM) have two boys who attend a school in Delmas (between Port au Prince and Petionville) called Quisqueya Christian School. The American style Christian school wants to implement a more structured discipleship program with the middle and high school students, so they are piloting a structure for discipleship between now and the end of the semester. In order to keep the groups small they asked for parents and other volunteers (in addition to the teachers) to lead small discipleship groups on Friday mornings.

Since I don't have any classes in Gramothe on Fridays, I gladly volunteered to lead a group. While this ministry opportunity isn't through MTM, I'm pretty excited about investing in the lives of some middle school girls--especially since they all speak English fluently. I have three 7th grade students and three 8th graders. They are a fantastic group of girls! I wish I could spend more time with them outside of our discipleship time. They decided they wanted to study the book of Revelation, so we are tackling the end times and all the questions that come with it, together.

An added bonus to leading one of the discipleship groups is that Beth and I get to spend Friday mornings together. We've made it a tradition to stop for coffee and a pastry after we leave the school. It's a nice time for us to get away from daily life and just chat. I really value that time with her because in many ways she my unofficial mentor. Friday mornings gives me a time to ask questions about MTM, Haitian culture, and life in general. It's almost like my own personal discipleship class.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This Just In

Four cases of cholera have been reported in the village of Bonga. MTM has ministry friends who minister in that area that will be distributing a simple bucket-water filter system there on Monday to 50 families. Our concern: Bonga is geographically close to the Gramothe/Thomassin areas & MTM has students from Bonga. 

Please, please, please pray with us for this situation as we continue to monitor it closely.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just Your Local Rock Star

There are advantages and disadvantages to being one of very, very few white people that live in the neighborhood. The distinct disadvantage is that I have a hard time blending in when I am trying to avoid certain people, like a particular student who has a crush on his English teacher. Another disadvantage to being white is that small children who aren't used to seeing white skin sometimes cry when I look at them. Not exactly a self-esteem booster.

But being the optimist that I am, I've found some pretty sweet perks to having white skin and living in Haiti. First, I love the fact that the preschool children find so much joy simply in saying good morning to me. My heart overflows with happiness every time they yell, "Blan" and then smile their cute little smiles at me. They also unabashedly race to touch my arms and hands before their teachers tell themt to get back in line.

But the little tykes aren't the only ones enamored with me. I also have some high school kids who are a lot like paparazzi. Today after my 9th grade class, I had to hide my face with a piece of paper because someone was trying to take a picture of me with a cell phone!

But school is not the only place I have rock start status. Often when I'm walking to school in the mornings there are little kids that will follow me or walk next to me for at least part of the way. They are content to smile at me shyly and say goodbye when they part with me. This morning, however, there were some elementary school girls, who I have never seen before (they attend another school), who were bold enough to squeeze my hand as they "accidentally" bumped into me. They just giggled when I grabbed their hands and squeezed them right back. I was sorry I couldn't walk with them for longer. I would have liked to ask them their names.

Anyway, I think I'll start practicing my signature tonight. That way I'll be ready for my fans when they gain enough courage to ask me for my autograph.

Prayer for the new year

I was flipping through my journal this morning, and I came across the very first entry for 2010. I thought I would share it with you. Remember, at that point I had no idea that I was going to Haiti for spring break, let alone a whole year!

Friday January 1st, 2010
Lord Jesus, I pray that this year would be one of falling more in love with you and of sharing the good news with many. I pray that you would clearly show me where you want me and that you would give me the strength to follow you there. May you be glorified in everything I do and say this year.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Golden Nuggets IV

Golden Nuggets is a term I am borrowing from my friend Sini who is spending her senior year of high school in Indonesia as a foreign exchange student. She calls all the random facts she's gathered about the country she's now living in Golden Nuggets. In that vein, I am going to periodically share Golden Nuggets about Haiti. 

  • While every plot of land in the U.S. has a designated address, specific addresses don't really exist in Haiti. For example there is a main road leaving Petionville (kind of a wealthy suburb of Port au Prince) that goes up the mountain to another town called Kenscoff. That main road is called Rue de Kenscoff. It's a very winding road with turns every few hundred feet. In fact it feels like it's just a big series of S turns. Along Rue de Kenscoff there are areas, or neighborhoods you could say. The first area is called Pelerin. Every street off Rue de Kenscoff in this area is called Pelerin followed by a number. Evens are on one side and odds are on the other. The Pelerin roads start at 1 and go up to 9 I think. After Pelerin comes Laboule. The numbers in Laboule appear to begin at 9 and go all the way to 25. After Laboule comes Thomassin, where I live. However, Thomassin is a big area. It goes all the way from 25 to 60. But the thing is, the roads are not even spaced. Just whenever there is another road leading off Rue de Kenscoff it has the next number. Anyway, every plot of land has the address of their street name and number. So my address is Thomassin 40, but the other 8-10 houses on our very short street also have that address. Willem and Beth live at Thomassin 48, which encompasses a very big area. There are numerous streets leading off of Thomassin 48 and there must be 50+ houses/businesses with the address of Thomassin 48! Occasionally the people living on a street will employ the use of gate numbers, but I don't see that very often. 
  • In addition to not having street addresses there is no postal system. Bank statements, utility bills, and the like are delivered by couriers hired by the businesses. Beth told me that if a courier doesn't know exactly where you live (you know, because the address is so specific), they just ask people on the street until they find your house.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Golden Nuggets III

Golden Nuggets is a term I am borrowing from my friend Sini who is spending her senior year of high school in Indonesia as a foreign exchange student. She calls all the random facts she's gathered about the country she's now living in Golden Nuggets. In that vein, I am going to periodically share Golden Nuggets about Haiti. 

  • November 18th is a national holiday, I think it's like the Haitian version of Veteran's Day. Anyway, there is no school on Thursday. I am hoping to go to Laboule with Beth and work on some minor home repairs and of course English.

  • Creole is a very non-specific language. The word for "here" is the same word for "there." And many, many words have more than one meaning. For example the word "koud" means elbow and to sew. "Men" is hand or but depending on the conversation. It can be frustrating because sometimes I hear a word that I know, but it doesn't make sense in the conversation. Then I find out it means something else entirely!

  • Haitians do not know the concept of personal space. At church on Sunday they have no qualms about packing as many people in a row as possible. In taptaps (public transportation) they sit nearly on top of each other and it doesn't appear to be awkward. At school I often see students holding hands or with interlocked arms as they are walking. When they sit, they often drape arms over each other. I find it very endearing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Update on the Creole

When I arrived in Haiti a little over two months ago, I knew approximately 10 words in Creole. Basically, I could greet people. After that I would just stand and stare at them.

Now, only two months later, I can have basic conversations with people and they understand me! Today I read Green Eggs and Ham, in English, to the Laboule kids after school. I was able to translate most of it into Creole for them, and what I didn't know in Creole we could generally see in the pictures. They were really excited about hearing an English book.

During our class Micka, my friend who leads worship at church, came in and asked me to investigate the location of a ball. Apparently at some point yesterday Dayley had a ball that belongs to someone else. The someone else went to Micka for help. She in turn went to Dayley to find out what happened to the ball. However, he won't tell her where it is. Since she's certain he knows where it is and he just won't tell her, she asked me to see if I could get him to tell me where the ball is. She has a lot of faith in my Creole skills! Under her orders, I had the following conversation with Dayley, my little boyfriend, on our way home from school.

Me: Micka monde ou, "eske ou konnen kote bol la?" Micka asks you, "do you know where is the ball?"
Dayley: Wi. Yes.
Me: Ou konnen ki kote bol? You know where is the ball?
Dayley doesn't answer.
Me: Dayley, ou gen bol? Dayley you have ball?
Dayley: Non! Mwen pa gen blah blah blah. No! I don't have blah blah blah in Creole.
Me: Ki kote bol la? Where is the ball?
Dayley doesn't answer.
Me: Bol a kay ou? Ball at your house?
Dayley: Non! No!
Me: Ki kote bol la? Where is the ball?
Dayley: Nan Gramothe. In Gramothe.
Me: Ki kote nan Gramothe? Where in Gramothe?
Dayley: He gave me the location, but I don't remember what he said.
Me: Ou pral bay bol la a Micka demen? You will give Micka the ball tomorrow?
Dayley: mumble, mumble, mumble. 

While it wasn't exactly a profound conversation, it's definitely an accomplishment for me. I am thankful that I am beginning to understand people when they speak in Creole and that they understand me. The Laboule kids seem to be the best at speaking slowly for me... well, most of the time. Sometimes they get excited and just prattle on, but Hyphania and Nerlande are both good about telling me one word at a time so I can understand.

Now if I can get the house helpers at Johane's and Willem and Beth's to speak slowly when they want to tell me something, I will have it made!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Hard Part

I really enjoy being here in Haiti. The missionaries I am working with are fantastic, and I love my students. I am looking forward to skipping winter weather, and it's awfully nice to have so many people falling over themselves just say hello to me. It makes me feel a little like a rock star.

As much as I love being here, though, there are aspects of the culture that are difficult to deal with. This morning I was a bit overwhelmed by some of them. Awhile ago I began reading a book called Restavec by Jean Robert Cadet. It's a memoir written by a man who was a part of Haiti's socially accepted child slavery. While I haven't seen any evidence of child slavery in the two months I've lived here, last night I was talking to some friends about it. They told me stories about families in mountain villages who send their children to live with relatives or someone they (kind of) know in the city. The family is often told the child will receive an education, be well fed, and be generally taken care of. However when the families go to visit their children or to pick them up, they learn that the child has been forced into slavery. Sometimes the child has been sold or given to someone else and the parents can't find them. It's really very sad because it's a socially accepted part of the culture (at least for the wealthy who are using the kids as slaves).

My friends also explained to me that if a woman has a child from a previous relationship and marries another man, the child is treated as a slave to the rest of the family. For example, there's a woman in Gramothe who had a daughter. Her husband died, and she wanted to become involved with another man. She knew that her daughter would be treated like a slave to the man and any kids she had with him, so she made the tough choice to give her daughter up for adoption. My heart broke for her and the daughter she doesn't have to hold any more.

And then there's the whole corporal punishment issue. Corporal punishment is definitely alive and well in Haiti. Teachers have switches or belts they carry around with them. The principal frequently has a switch in his hand. Sometimes the students are made to kneel on the cement for periods of time as a punishment. I don't think anyone in Haiti has ever heard of positive reinforcement! It's no wonder my students are constantly telling me they like the way I teach. I don't use any of the classroom management techniques they are accustomed to!

I don't share this information with you to make you think poorly of Haitians or their culture. Not every Haitian approves of child slavery, just as not every American condones drug use. The Haitian culture is not bad or wrong. It just has issues like every other culture in the world. I share this information simply to give you a glimpse into what's on my heart. I also don't want to give the rose tinted view of life here. While I like being here, there are parts that are difficult.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Give Your Best

Recently a friend of Mountain Top Ministries published a book about the founder and life changing ministry of MTM. The author, Andy DeWitt, expertly weaves facts and tidbits of history into vignettes of Willem Charles's life and ministry, making the book a very easy read. You won't want to put it down!

If you're interested in learning more about the village where I'm teaching or the organization I'm working with this year, you need to get yourself a copy of the book Give Your Best. Plus, all the proceeds from the book are going to support Mountain Top Ministries.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What a great day!

Today was an all around great day. There wasn't anything that made today oustandingly fantastic, but all the little pieces of goodness add up to one satisfying day! First, I ate breakfast with my new Canadian friends. The guys have really made me feel like a part of their team. I really appreciate how they've included me and loved me this week. After breakfast, they took me up the mountain to school. I was able to witness the meeting of sponsors and their sponsored children. A couple of the Canadians sponsor some preschool children, so the kids were pulled out of class and given some gifts. The first two kids did a great job. They were a little curious about the tall white guy who was talking to them in a foreign language, but they let us take some pictures of them on Helmut's lap. However, Frank ended up traumatizing his kids. The first girl was close to tears as she sat on his lap and the other girl started crying before she even got near him. She wanted nothing to do with the goofy white guy!

After the traumatizing of preschool children was over, I went to 7th grade to watch the Haitian English teacher. He was reviewing mass nouns and counted nouns. It was very, very boring, but it helped me know what to practice with the kids during my hour with them later in the day. I was planning to follow Mr. Gary to 12th grade to see what he would teach the older kids, but I needed a break. Instead of going to 12th grade, I headed up to my computer room to get organized and maybe do some cleaning. My Creole tutor came shortly after I arrived. I taught him to play Jenga because he heard that the kids liked it. I really wanted to win Jenga because it's an American game and I was the one teaching someone else, but the weirdest thing happened! We took out every possible Jenga piece, but the tower was still standing. That has never happened to me before. It was so strange I took a picture of the tower at the end of the game.

After the Jenga game I decided I should probably go watch the end of Mr. Gary's 12th grade class. I am sooooooo glad I didn't sit in on the entire hour. He was teaching them that the third person singular (he, she, it) version of verbs ending in o, sh, ss, x, and ch need an "es" instead of just an "s." I was there for only 15 minutes and I wanted to go to sleep! And the students didn't seem to be learning anything new. Some of them even stopped the lesson to ask me about goosebumps. It was really funny trying to figure out what "chicken flesh" was (that's the literal translation of what they say in Creole).

Oh, this is becoming a long post. I suppose if it's too long, you'll just stop reading. Anyway, last week my grade 7 class was horrible. They talked while I was talking, they wouldn't listen, and they didn't even try to understand me. Today some of the girls were kind of snotty at the beginning, but they shaped up eventually. I had an activity where they were able to get out of their seats and they seemed to enjoy it.

After I finished teaching, I had a Creole lesson. I learned some words for family relationships, and then Arold taught me some songs. I really like learning the songs we sing in church. I'm getting pretty good at the chorus to "I Surrender All" in French, and I hope to add some others to my repertoire soon. Today I was introduced to "Nothing But the Blood" in Creole, but I left my paper at school. I won't be able to practice until tomorrow.

After school was out, I had my computer class. I really enjoy this group of students, probably because it's 15 of the best English speakers in the school. The kids are smart, and they really try hard to understand me. More of them have also been walking with me after class, which I like because it gives me an opportunity to get to know them. The girls typically take off right after class is over and walk so fast I can't keep up. Today, however, I walked with them instead of the boys. Actually, it was kind of nice to walk with them because they are a lot quieter than the boys. The girls aren't as comfortable with English, but they tried to talk to me a little.

Plus, the walk from school to the guest house took me exactly 30 minutes, which is a personal best. I am pretty proud of myself!

After school, Willem harassed me about all the boys asking for my phone number. A couple of my students have asked me for number recently, and one even admitted to some other kids (that came and told me) that he has a crush on me. Isn't that fantastic? (I hope you caught the sarcasm in that!!) To finish out the night I ate a final meal with my Canadian friends and then said goodbye. They all gave me hugs and wished me well. :) Now, I have some time to clean my little apartment and maybe study some Creole before I head off to bed.

It really has been a wonderful day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Boyfriend

I've known for a while that this particular guy really likes me.

He finds ways to be near me--it's quite endearing! He's very helpful and frequently volunteers to carry things for me. He sings songs to me, and holds my hand whenever I will let him.

Today he made it pretty clear that he wants me all to himself: he told one of my students, in no uncertain terms, that he was not to talk to me anymore. Homeboy is jealous!

Isn't he cute?

Just for the record, this little guy is NOT my boyfriend. He just wishes he was. He's one of the little guys at Laboule Children's Home, and for whatever reason he has latched on to me. He's also the one who sang at church a couple weeks ago. You can even watch the video.

After School Class

I have a computer class after school on Mondays and Wednesdays. It is my favorite class to teach because it is small and the students all speak enough English that I can communicate with them. It doesn't hurt that it's a more laid back atmosphere and we joke around quite often. The boys are talkative and always have questions. The girls are still a bit shy, but they are attempting to speak with me more and more. There are only 7 working computers right now, so the students work on the computers in pairs. Today I split them into two groups, so they could work independently on the computer. While one group worked on the computer, I taught the other group how to play Jenga. They loved it! You can view pictures on my Facebook album.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Senior Citizens

In the past two months I’ve been surprised by how many older people have come on the various teams. And by older, I mean over 60 years old. Both the medical teams that have come have included 2 or 3 seniors. I am impressed by their courage to leave the comforts of home for the rough terrain of Haiti!

Currently, there’s a four man construction team here from Canada this week. Three of the guys, all over 60, have been here numerous times. The other guy is in his 40’s, and is a race car driver. I’m still trying to figure out how he got connected with these other guys. Anyway, they are a really fun group of guys, and they’ve included me in their joking around. They even babied me yesterday when I wasn’t feeling so well (just a sore throat).

In addition to the construction team, we also have an older couple (both are right around 70 years old) from Northeastern Indiana here. They were supposed to arrive on Wednesday, but due to some passport issues and the hurricane they were delayed. They finally arrived on Saturday morning. I met them this summer at the MTM banquet, so it was nice to see some familiar faces. Plus, John is baking 36 loaves of zucchini bread and 55 dozen cookies while he’s here. He’s definitely in the running to become my new BFF!!

Being in Haiti has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of different people, and the senior citizens (I say that lovingly) have been some of the most inspiring new friends I’ve made.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Only God Knows

Every team that comes in is curious about my role here at MTM. They want to know what I do and where I live. When they find out I’m teaching English, they want to know how I get to school each morning (I walk or catch a ride with the teams that are here), if I’m learning Creole (I have a really good tutor and many others willing to help me practice), and how teaching here is different than teaching in the States (that’s a whole other blog post!). Inevitably, they also ask me how long I’m staying in Haiti. If Willem is around he tells them I am going to marry a Haitian man and stay for the rest of my life! I just laugh and tell him that I’d like to meet the guy. My standard answer is that I have committed to being here until July, and only God knows what will happen after that.

But this question of how long I will stay weighs heavy on my mind. I love working with the kids from Laboule. I hate to think about what it will be like to say goodbye to them. I also really like my high school students. The boys that are my escort home from school have become some of my favorite people here. They asked me last week why I didn’t want to be their teacher again next year. It hurt my heart to hear their question and I wanted to promise that I would be here again next year!

But I can’t make my students any promises because my heart also hurts when I think about my family, friends, home church, and dog in the United States. I miss them! Facebook and Skype have provided avenues to connect, but they’re not the same as being there. I can’t make library runs with Jen or attend impromptu game nights at the Shipes’ apartment. I can’t go shopping with my mom or call my dad to fix something at my house.

I guess what it boils down to is this: Only God knows what the future holds. So instead of being distracted by questions of where I’ll be a year from now, I am choosing to rest in the knowledge that God will let me in on the plan when I need to know. Until then, I need to spend my energy on the here and now—loving and investing in the people God has put in my life.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

More funny school conversations

Remember the student who wants my phone number so he can listen to me talk? Well, last week he was preparing to sing a song in church. He wanted to sing part of it in English, so he asked me for help on the words to the song "He Touched Me." I think it was originally sung by Elvis, but I don't really know the song. I had to look it up online. Anyway, he sang the song at the close of service on Sunday and it was fantastic.

Wednesday was the first day back to school after our November 1-2 holiday. As we were walking home after our computer class, the boys were talking about the song Wesley sang during church. They were congratulating him on singing so well, and also teasing him a little about the way he was standing during the song. I wasn’t involved in the beginning of the conversation because someone had asked me a different question. The first thing I heard one of them say about the topic was, “He touched me.” But it was implied that Wesley touched the speaker. Now, I know they were talking about the song, but I couldn’t just let them say that without telling them what Americans would understand that to mean!

I explained that when they are in church and they say, “He touched me,” most people will understand that you are talking about God. But when you are on the street and you say, “He touched me,” people will think you are talking about a person touching you… in a bad place. So don’t say, “Wesley touched me” if you mean his song made your heart happy because people will think Wesley is touching you in bad places. My explanation was followed by an uproar of laughter and many shouts of “Yes. Yes, I understand!” They thought it was so funny that they continued to talk about Wesley “touching” them. They wanted to nickname him “Mr. Touch Me,” but I finally convinced them that was not a good idea.

Later on in our walk, one of the boys called Shnider a girl. Everyone thought this was hilarious as well. Basically his response was “okay whatever,” so A. said something really fast in Creole. Then they really started laughing.  Rosias shouted, “Say that in English!!” I was nervous about what I was going to hear, but basically what A. said was that Shnider should deny being a girl and prove his manhood by showing everyone his… Well, I'm sure you can figure it out.

I suppose it doesn’t matter what language they speak, boys will always be boys!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


For your enjoyment, here's an actual converstation that took place today on the school yard.

Student (21 years old, in the highest grade): Miss, do you have a ph...?

Me: Do I have a what?
Student, acting shy: Do you have a phone?
Me: Yes. Why?
Student: You give me please your number.
Me: I don't know my phone number.
Student: I don't understand.
Me: I can't give it to you. I don't know my phone number.
Student--now he's so shy he asks his friend to come and translate for him. 
2nd student, 23 years old in the highest grade: He wants your phone number.
Me: I know, but I don't know it.
2nd Student: You don't know your phone number?
Me: Nope. 
2nd Student with a shocked look: Oh.
The two boys talk for a minute in Creole.
2nd Student: He wants for you to call him.
Me: I know. He gave me his phone number on Sunday. 
2nd Student: But you not call him.
Me: I know. It's not gonna happen. Why does he want me to call him?
2nd Student: We like the way you pronounce words. We want to sit in our house and listen to you talk. Why can't we have your phone number?
Me (laughing): Do you have other teachers' phone numbers?
2nd Student sheepishly laughing now: No!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Adult English Classes

My job here is to teach English, but I never imagined I would be teaching so many classes! I have six regular high school classes, one special high school class that meets after school, and a class with the kids from Laboule.

A few weeks ago Johane asked me if I would be interested in practicing English with a couple ladies from our neighborhood. I met them and since they speak better English than most of my students, I agreed to work with them three times a week. I really wanted to have class just once a week, but I don’t have anything else to do so how could I say no?

The first class was quite intimidating. When I arrived home from school there were double the amount of people sitting under the tree than there are normally. I was nervous I they were all coming to my class, but it turned out most of the guys stayed outside. However, there were still 7 or 8 people who trickled into my apartment to learn English! Fairly quickly we learned that about half of them need a beginner’s course in English, so I said I would teach a class for them on Mondays. Since that was one of the days I was going to teach the more advanced class, my initial students made me promise to practice with them another night.

I was really nervous about the initial beginner’s class, but it turns out only Windy and Taina are serious about learning English. Thankfully, I’m back to having just one neighborhood class! Our class was canceled for most of last week because of the team being here and my unpredictable return from the guest house each night. Then yesterday I looked for them a couple of times around our designated meeting time, but they weren’t out by the tree. That was fine with me because I really needed a nap after my Creole lesson, but I wondered if they still wanted to have class.

Tonight, however, Windy and Erika came to class. Taina’s husband is here visiting from the United States, so she came a little later. She ended up bringing her husband, and it was nice to meet him. I’m still curious as to why he lives and works in the States and she lives here, but I didn’t really feel like tonight was an appropriate time to ask.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fall Break

The last week has been a whirlwind of activity! Last Monday a team of 23 people arrived. They hosted a very successful medical clinic on Tuesday through Friday, but they wore me out! Some nights I didn't get home until 6 or even 7 o'clock, so I didn't have much time to wind down before I went to sleep. I traveled with the team to and from Gramothe, so I spent more time at school than I normally do. I was able to help in the clinic some, but mostly I tried to stay out of the way. They were an awesome group of individuals with some incredible skills, so they didn't really need my help. In the afternoons I was able to sit with my friends Arold and Nalouse while we waited to go down the mountain in the truck. It was really nice to get to know them a little better.

Two downsides to having the team here were that I missed my Creole lesson on Wednesday and I didn't get to spend much time with the boys who normally walk me home. The kids came and found me during their breaks, and we still had our after school class. Yet, I missed the conversations we have walking home from school. (And don't tell anyone I said this, but I think I missed the exercise too.)

November 1st and 2nd are national holidays in Haiti, so there is no school today or tomorrow. (Can anybody say Fall Break?) One day is All Saints Day and the other is the Day of the Dead. I'm told Christians do not celebrate these holidays, but that's about all I know. About two weeks ago some people in Gramothe (not anyone who goes to church) pulled all the grass out of the cemetery and did some general cleaning in preparation for the holiday. Tomorrow when I go to the guest house I'll be able see if they are doing anything over there.

My Creole tutor offered to have a lesson with me today since there's no school and neither of us had anything to do. He give me a lot of words I had been wondering about, and then he gave me the French and Creole words to songs we sing in church. I am very, very excited about being able to sing along in with the rest of the congregation. However, he made me sing the songs after he had given me the words, and now he's convinced more than ever that I need to sing a special song for church!

Tonight I'm supposed to have an English class with some ladies from the neighborhood. I really enjoy talking with them. They speak pretty good English already, they just want someone to practice with.


I've shared about my early to bed, early to rise sleeping pattern before. This week though, my body has decided 4:30am is the appropriate time to wake up. It doesn't matter that I stay up until 10pm or that it is still pitch dark or even that the roosters are fairly quiet at 4am. My body just wakes up and refuses to go back to sleep. After tossing and turning for 45 minutes this morning, I finally decided to just get up at 5:15am on a Saturday morning. Now that's what I call ridiculous.

UPDATE: Today and tomorrow are holidays in Haiti, so there is no school. Although I went to bed before 8:30 last night, I'm very happy to report that I did not wake up this morning until after 6am!