Friday, December 23, 2011

One Week

A week from today I will marry the most amazing man I know. Wedding planning is really not my cup of tea, so I'll be relieved when all the wedding is finally over. Mostly I'm looking forward to Arold moving into our apartment and being able to share all of life with him. I love him so much and I'm ready to merge our lives into one.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Preschool Christmas Party

Each year, the preschool teachers put together a Christmas party for the preschool students on the last day of school before break. (If you click on a picture, you'll be able to see it in a larger size.)

This year we had some pretty awesome donations and were able to give the students some pretty awesome gifts.

 They try to do something a little different each year, but they always have food and a gift to give to the students. This year they had cake, pate, palme (something sweety and flaky), cheese puffs, popcorn, candy, and various types of pop to drink.

 Unfortunately I left before they opened the gifts and didn't think to leave the camera with someone else. :( Sorry for not having pictures of the most exciting part!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In the meantime...

I keep thinking of things that I should blog about, but I never get around to actually doing it. So you'll have to make do with some pictures. Maybe after Christmas and the wedding (just a few days left!), I'll have more time to sit down and write out some thoughts. Until then enjoy these pictures of the preschool Christmas party.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Grab Bag

Some days are a "grab bag." You just never know what you are going to get.Yesterday was one of those days for me.
Here's a sampling of what I was up to yesterday:

  • teaching students how to make a PowerPoint presentation (only it was with OpenOffice software, not actual PowerPoint), which was really above their competency level but they enjoyed inserting pictures
  • helping two students fill out applications for the YMCA Ambassador's Program in English and writing references for them
  • coloring some full page letters for a banner
  • learning about networks and CSSIP, both of which are computer stuff that goes way over my head!
  • verifying student data for our current class rosters
  • discussing school policies and spiritual gifts with Beth
  • taking pictures of some friends before they went off to meet Oprah

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Video from a team member

There was a small  medical team of about 10 people here from Nov. 28th to Dec. 5th. This is a video one team member put together that shows what it's like to work in the clinic. He did a great job. Check it out!

If you are ever interested in coming to Haiti to help in the clinic (we need lots of non medical people to make the clinic function) or in some other way, please contact me!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Guest Teacher

Last Monday a computer guru arrived at the guest house to volunteer his time with MTM. Not only was he enthusiastic about sharing his computer knowledge with the students, he also speaks French fluently! He provided a great opportunity for our students, and I'm thankful for his time here. The students are very sad to see him go.

End of the semester exams started on Tuesday, so the schedule for computer class was not consistent. The high school students were quite occupied with studying and preparing for their tests. However, each afternoon the majority of the class joined us in the lab after they finished their exams. The boys especially were eager to jump back on the computers.

Thomas taught the students how to create a folder on the computer and also reviewed the basics of word processing. The students worked hard each day to re-familiarize themselves with the computer, and he even created a friendly competition several days to test their knowledge. I am so excited for the jumpstart Thomas has given to my "advanced" computer students.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


These beauties were delivered to my doorstep today, along with 15 eggs. 

I paid $4.50 for everything you see, and a few you don't see. There are two mirliton (the green squash), a small bunch of carrots, an onion, four bananas, and 15 eggs. The eggs cost $2.50 on their own, so the veggies were CHEAP. But I gave the delivery boy, one of my awesome students who needs a job, another $3.75 for his services. That brings my marche total to $8.25 for this week, which seems a little high. But now that I see how this is going to work, I have a whole list of things for him to get next week!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Computer Lab Rules

Yesterday was the first computer classin Gramothe for the 2011-2012 school year. The kids were ecstatic! I was so happy to see their beautiful faces that I just wanted to stand and look at them all. However, we got down to business right away. After greeting the class, I presented the rules. First we had to discuss what "rule" means, and then I give them the list of rules that will keep their teacher happy.

  1. No food in the computer room.
  2. Put your chair away before leaving.**
  3. Put your bag on a hook or your lap. No bags on the table.
  4. No listening to music without permission!!
  5. Clean your shoes before entering if they are dirty.
There are several other procedures we'll work on in the weeks to come, but if they can do these things for me--especially 2, 3, and 5--I will be a happy woman. I can't tell you how much I hate when there is no room for laptops because the table is full of bags. It drives me crazy about as much as drumming pencils on the desks.

**Unfortunately, there were two girls who failed to put their chairs away last class. Their punishment is that they don't get a chair next class. The other students think the girls won't forget to put their chairs away again. I agree.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

So Happy Together

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Morning Procedures

Every school has a morning procedure. In the States we often say the Pledge of Allegience. In Haiti they sing the national anthem. Here's a little snippet of what that looks like in Gramothe.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In the Land of Rice and Beans

Ah. It is such bliss to be back in Haiti...other than the needing to unpack and put everything away part. I really loathe unpacking. Maybe I'll just live out of my suitcases for the next week and then unpack.

 New construction on the waiting room building has gone up while I've been away. The second floor wasn't even started when I left 5 months ago and now it's nearly complete.

My college friend Beth is in Haiti this week helping in the clinic. She came with me back in April of 2010 when this chapter of my life started. :)

My good friends Porcupine and Mouse. We had a lot of fun talking after clinic finished today. I've missed them!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Flying the Friendly Skies

Today I am flying to Haiti. My first flight leaves Chicago at 8:50 am EST. I'll spend a few hours in Miami's excellent* airport, and then I'm off to Port au Prince. If all goes accordingly, I should arrive in PaP around 4. By the time everyone gets their luggage (I'm flying in with a medical team) and we get through customs, we should be on the mountain by 6pm EST. It will be a long day of travel, but it will be good too.

If you think of me today, please pray for safe travels. I'd appreciate it!

*Using the word excellent is extreme sarcasm. I loathe MIA more than I loathe unpacking.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I have much to be thankful for this year.

Unfortunately I don't have much time to write about it here.

I'm headed back to the land of rice and beans in just a couple of days. In the mean time I am packing my suitcases (apparently a little too well since one of them is much heavier than 50lbs... I'm having a hard time taking things out though!), and I'm also cleaning my room at my parents. I'm not sure how one person can collect so much junk in such a short time. I thought I was being intentional about not keeping things I don't need, but it turns but I just made lots of piles of junk in my bedroom. Apparently now I feel compelled to stuff as much of it as possible into my suitcases!

If you think of me in the next couple of days please say a little prayer for safe travels and a smooth transition back to life in Haiti. Pray for my family as they transition too.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I saw this the other day and really liked it. It reminds me a lot of what Jesus said in Matthew about losing our lives to gain something better.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fun Mail

I sent out wedding invitations a couple of weeks ago. (There are only 7 weeks left until I marry the most amazing man I've ever met! I can't wait.)  Anyway, at the last minute I added two couples to our guest list. One of them has already sent a response: an 8x10 photo with a message from both the Mr. and the Mrs. Here it is:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Three weeks to go

There are only three weeks until I leave for Haiti. Please pray...

  • for quality time with my family in the next 3 weeks
  • for a smooth transition for the teacher taking over my position in Mishawaka
  • that I will not distance myself emotionally from my family and friends as a defense mechanism
  • that God will prepare me for the changes I will encounter once I get to Haiti (some staff and ministry changes have occurred in the 5 months I've been away)
  • for my loved ones to experience the peace and joy only God can give as we say goodbye for now
  • that the Lord will be glorified in everything

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Giving Up Your LIfe

Last week Pastor John preached on parts of Luke 9. You know the part of the Bible where Jesus says,  “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Then we sang a song (below) in church today that talks about being the hands and feet of Jesus. There's a line that says, "I wanna give my life away, all for your kingdom's sake."

I want that. I can't tell you how much I want that. But I also feel a lot like the rich young ruler lately. I want to follow Jesus, but it's hard to leave behind the life I have here. 

When I get on that plane to Haiti in three weeks, I'll be leaving behind

  • watching Big Bang Theory with my dad
  • hot showers any time I want
  • Christmas with my family (I start crying every time I think about this. I have a plan for skyping with them that day, but it tears my heart out that I won't be there with them.)
  • spur of the moment movie nights with friends
  • going shopping with my mom whenever she comes to Mishawaka
  • seeing my mom graduate from Bethel in May
  • being able to communicate with nearly everyone I meet
  • the many extended family get-togethers the Myers family has
  • holding my best friends' babies as we talk about life
  • giving and receiving hugs from the people I love
  • understanding everything my students say to me 
  • watching funny TV shows with my friends
Don't get me wrong, I want to return to Haiti. I'm looking forward to it. I know that God wants me to be in Haiti, and I'm excited to get back there. It's just not as easy to say goodbye to life here as I wish it was. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Where my heart is...

On Sunday I was able to be at my home church again. I don't think I'd been there in about 5 weeks. Two boys from the youth group actually sought me out to say they were happy I wasn't back in Haiti yet. They thought for sure that I had gone back without saying goodbye. Aren't they sweet?

I have really enjoyed traveling to other churches and sharing about what God is doing through Mountain Top Ministries in Haiti, but it was really refreshing to be with my church family again. I think I'll be able to worship with them for the next four Sundays. Then it will be time for me to return to Haiti and worship with my friends in Gramothe. Only four more Sundays in the States. That's both exciting and heart wrenching. Why can't Northern Indiana and Haiti be only 20 or 50 or even 100 miles apart? That would make my life much easier.

Everyone keeps asking me if I'm excited to be going back. YES!! I'm thrilled that I will be with Arold in just 25 days. I can't wait to see my students and talk about school, their families, and what's happening in their lives. Being involved in the life changing ministry of MTM, through the clinic and the school and church, is something I love about being in Haiti.

But in some ways the next 25 days in the U.S. are the hardest because the excitement about going back is tempered with heart ache over leaving. My entire family lives here. They celebrate birthdays and holidays together. They hang out and eat at each others' houses. They get to do life together, and I'm in a different country getting glimpses of it through Facebook and e-mail. Two of my best friends just had babies. I can't cuddle with them from Haiti. I can't just stop by and get my baby fix. I won't be around as they grow and change. I can't celebrate milestones in their lives, and I likely won't even know when some of those milestones happen. Living in Haiti doesn't allow me to be intimately involved in my loved one's lives.

I fully recognize that this is the choice I've made, and I am confident beyond a shadow of a doubt that God wants me in Haiti. I have the peace that only God can give about moving to a country plagued by poverty, civil unrest, and diseases like cholera. I know that once I'm in Haiti again I will be excited to be there, but saying goodbye (even when it's just for a few months--I will be back in June) is hard and I wish I didn't have to do it. I hate thinking "Is this the last time I'm going to see this person before I go?" because it makes me want to cry every. single. time.

Maybe I'm a little hormonal today and my emotions are getting the best of me.

Or maybe life is messy and saying goodbye to the people you love is always hard, no matter how confident you are that where you're going is where God wants you.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Beautiful People

I miss these people, but I get to see them in about a month.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Student Writing: Friends

Haitian culture is often more blunt than mainstream American culture. It still takes me off guard sometimes when the kids just say someone is "fat" (not overweight or on the big side). Here's another sample of some writing from one of the 10th grade students at MTM's school in Gramothe. I laughed out loud at some of Ghrismene's descriptions of her friends. I wonder what she'd say about me!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Favorite Words of the Day

I don't think I really explained this very well, but I've been teaching 8th grade reading at my old district in Indiana since the middle of August. I didn't know how long I was going to be in the States, but I didn't want to be idle for months on end. Plus, my bank account needed a boost. I talked to my district about a semester contract. They didn't want to do that. Instead the HR director suggested I start the year like normal and then resign when it was time to go back to Haiti. I was shocked. Could it really be that easy?

Well, that's what I did. My principal and the central office of my district knew when I started that I would not be here for the second semester, and they all assured me that would be fine. They just asked that I put in my letter of resignation indicating my last day as soon as possible. They wanted the letter so they could post my position and hire my replacement. Everyone assumed I would finish out the first semester, but I couldn't wait until the end of the semester to go back to Haiti. After much prayer and conversation with Arold, I said my last day would be Nov. 23rd, which is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I was pretty nervous about how that early leave date would go over with my principal and the district.

I'm happy to report that God has been orchestrating all of this. Today my principal said he thinks he's hired my replacement, and the Human Resources Director recently told me, "You're not burning any bridges or closing any doors here." He made a point of saying that if I move back to Mishawaka, I should tell them first and they'll see if they can find a job for me.

Such a sweet blessing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A New View

Pretty soon this will be the view from my classroom window because...


I'm going back to Haiti on November 28th!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Josalyn is a young twenty-something employee of Mountain Top Ministries. She's super sweet and always tries to talk to me. I appreciate the attempts even when I can't understand them. The key with Josalyn is that she truly wants me to understand her. She talks slowly and simply. And she laughs with me when I don't understand. I like her. She worked for MTM at Laboule Children's Home, but I learned recently that she is working in the cafeteria in Gramothe now.

Last night I had a dream that I was at school in Gramothe. I went to the cafeteria to say hi to the ladies. I kissed Josalyn on the cheek (as is the custom) and greeted her in Creole, but she started talking to me in English! I was so surprised, and I wondered why she had never talked to me in English before. But I didn't dwell on it in my dream because in that moment Josalyn became my best friend. I don't know how to explain it. It's just one of those weird dream world truths. You just know something, and in my dream I knew that Josalyn was my best friend.

This morning I have been practicing how to tell all of this to Josalyn in Creole. I want to tell her that I had a dream she could speak English. She'll like that a lot. I hope some day Josalyn and I can have heart to heart talks in Creole and be good friends. And I'd like to tell her about my heart dream of being good friends with her, but I think I'll just let God take care of that.

Monday, October 10, 2011


One of my students was missing from 2nd block this morning. After class I got an email that said her mother, father, and infant sister were killed in a tragic car accident this weekend. Apparently a truck crossed the center line and hit their car head on. The gas tanks on both vehicles exploded; the driver of the truck survived, but my student's family did not. I do not know if my student was in the car or not. but I'm certain the emotional pain far outweighs any physical injuries she could have.

My heart is heavy for this young girl this morning. Please join me in lifting her up in prayer.

UPDATE: Her mother, step-father, 1 year old brother, and grandmother were killed in the car crash. She was at a friend's house. She has not returned to school, and we don't expect to see her for another week or so. It sounds like she has a good support system of extended family, but please keep praying for this precious girl.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Something Only God Could Do

In the middle of my hometown there's a church that's been around for nearly 200 years. For most of my growing up years Fremont United Methodist Church was "home." If it takes a village to raise a child, then the people at FUMC were definitely the village that helped raise me. I remember singing songs during Sunday school time, having awesome VBS weeks, and drawing pictures of the choir during church. I also remember when the stained glass windows were donated to the church, and how exciting it was to be a part of the service when I was an accolade or the Scripture reader. But I also remember how specific people invested in my life and taught me to live God's way. Most importantly I remember the confirmation class at FUMC and how it was that class that caused me to surrender my life to Christ. I have so many good memories from FUMC, and recently I got to add one more.

On Sunday September 25th I was able to return to FUMC (after nearly 15 years) and share with the Sunday school classes about my year in Haiti. I showed a video from MTM, talked about life in Haiti, and answered questions. Then the pastor allowed me to use his entire sermon time to talk about how the Lord called me to Haiti and how he's been faithful to provide what I need to do his work there. After church I was able to talk to quite a few people.

It was such a blessing to see and talk to so many individuals who had such a great influence on my life. I was giddy with excitement looking out over the congregation from the pulpit. I am so blessed to have the people of Fremont United Methodist Church as partners in ministry. Who knew that the ministry of a small church in a small town could have such a global impact?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Student Writing: Sports

Here's another writing sample from last year's Rheto class. Lucson was the only Rheto student who retook the national exam and passed. He is now in the first Philo class at the MTM school.

If you can get over the broken English in this piece of writing, you'll find out why there are not a lot of sports teams in Haiti. In case you don't know football=soccer outside the U.S.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Rheto/Philo Update

I've talked about the Rheto exam before. On the first test 11 of our 26 kids passed and 5 failed--leaving 10 in limbo. Yesterday the principal received the results for the 10 students who retook the exam. Unfortunately, only one of them received a satisfactory score on the retake. I'm bummed that so many of our students will be repeating Rheto, but I also know that they will be better prepared for the test when they take it again next summer. In the meantime I suspect that they are highly motivated to study and learn what they missed the first time around. But I'll be able to tell you for sure in a few weeks when I'm back in Haiti (news about that will come in the next week or so).

Here is the Rheto class studying calculus and chemistry.

So the official class roster for Gramothe's Philo class, which is the final year in the Haitian education system, is 12 students. The 11 boys* and 1 girl in the class will take the Philo test at the end of the year. Those who pass will be the first graduating class from MTM's schools!

*Using the word boys to describe this class really isn't fair. The majority of them are older than 20 and they really are young men at this point. It makes me chuckle that I still consider them boys.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Patience & Faithfulness

My one word theme for the year 2011 is "patience." How fitting. Everything about my life has required patience this year. And here's the gut level honest truth: it sucks.

I have never had patience. People used to tell me "Patience is a virtue." I would instantly complete the sentence with, "I don't have." Unfortunately patience one of those skills you have to practice in order to get better at it, and my version of practicing doesn't generally end well. Most of the time this "practice" ends in prayers that go a little something like this, "Jesus, I need patience--NOW!"

In order to really get a handle on patience, I wrote several definitions of patience in my journal at the beginning of the year. They included the following:

  • the quality of bearing provocation, annoyance, hardship, misfortune or pain without complaint, loss of temper, irritation or the like
  • an ability to suppress restlessness and annoyance when confronted with delay
  • quietly and steadily persevering
I think the one that has stuck with me the most is the second one. Sometimes when I'm in the store and I have to wait in line for *gasp* 10 minutes (generally less) to check out, I ask myself if I am suppressing my annoyance. I think what I like most about that definition is that I can still feel annoyed I just have to keep it from leaking out of me in visible ways. I tell myself that's the first step in mastering this thing called patience. I figure after I can keep my annoyance inside maybe I can start decreasing the amount of annoyance I feel until one day I just don't get annoyed at all.

In the midst of learning to be patient, I've realized that this time is about more than just developing a useful skill. Forcing myself to wait, to be patient, has opened my eyes to the faithfulness of God. When I'm busy checking items off a list or making myself crazy trying to plan all the details of my life (specifically the ones I don't have any control of anyway), I don't have time to see that God's got it in control, that he's faithful to do what he's promised. But when I step back and wait on the Lord--when I suppress my annoyance I'm able to see past myself and into the depths of Almighty God's faithfulness.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My long lost friends...

I miss my friends Rosias and Monley. They were in my 7th grade class and my computer class after school. They were also the boys who walked down the mountain with me after school every day. Often Rosias walked me all the way to the end of my street because he lives past my house. (Monley lives inside 48, so he turns off before we get to the main road.) These guys are the top students in their class. They study English ALL THE TIME, and they like asking me questions. Lots and lots of questions.

I miss their silly nicknames for each other, their enthusiasm for learning new things, and their willingness to help with any task I ask them to do. I especially miss watching them grow in their relationship with the Lord. These boys are going to great things for the Lord--I can't wait to get back to Haiti, so I can continue to invest in these future leaders' lives.

Student Writing: Parents

Here's another writing sample from one of my older students. She wrote about her family and how much she loves her parents. I think she did a fabulous job.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In no particular order...

I miss Haiti.

I miss Arold.

I miss walking up the mountain to school.

I miss Haitian bread.

I miss walking down the mountain with my students.

I miss hugs from Nerlande.

I miss singing Creole songs at church.

I miss students in uniforms.

I miss seeing cute babies in the clinic.

I miss talks with Beth on our way to the city.

I miss hearing people speak in Creole.

I miss rice and beans.

I miss Haiti.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


In Haiti I would hear people use the word tale (tah-lay) fairly frequently. It took me a long time to figure out what it meant. Rosias and Monley, my 7th grade friends, tried to explain it to me several times. Eventually I understood it to mean "wait." During class my students would call me over to help them. When I was helping someone else I would say tale, tale to them to indicate that I was not ready to move on yet. That was acceptable, and they understood what I meant. But tale doesn't mean wait. It means soon.

There's a medical team working at the MTM clinic this week. It's the second team of the season, but it's the first team that includes people I already know. Some of them have posted pictures of that beloved place on Facebook. My heart cried tale, tale tonight as I looked at pictures of the clinic and school kids in Gramothe. I want desperately to be back in Haiti. I enjoy being in the States, but I long to be there where God has called me, to be with the students who have carved out such a special place in my heart, to be the hands and feet of Christ to a people who need Him. 

I would like to return to Haiti on November 28th at the very latest. The only thing preventing me from jumping on a plane right now is that my ministry is not yet fully funded. To live and serve in Haiti I need $2500 of support each month. Some very awesome people have already committed to giving 56% of that each month. Would you consider partnering with me financially, so I can return to empowering the youth of Haiti? 

Just one gift of $50 each month would bump me to 58% funded. Giving $100 each month would take me up to 60%. Being fully funded would only take 22 families or individuals each giving $50 per month. Please consider supporting this strategic ministry to defeat generational poverty through education.

Tax deductible donations can be made to Mountain Top Ministries either on their website or by sending a check to MTM, PO Box 7053, Terre Haute, IN 47802.  To set up an electronic funds transfer/recurring monthly automatic donations, call Deb in the MTM office at 812-870-5101.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rheto National Exam Results

My Rheto students, most pictured at left, received the results of their exams recently, and Arold was kind enough to tell me exactly how each student did. There were 26 students in Rheto at the end of the school year. The class started with quite a few more than that, but for various reasons some of those students dropped out during the year.

Remember that the Haitian National Exam is a pretty serious thing. The students in Rheto (essentially juniors in high school) can't move on to their final year of high school if they don't pass the exam. They're tested in 6 subjects and had 1400 points possible on the test. Anything over 699 is passing, and somewhere in the mid 500s is the cut off for failing. We'll say it's 550 just for clarity's sake. Anyone who scores less than passing (700) but more than definite failing (550) is in limbo. Those students didn't pass, but they were close enough that the National Ministry of Education will allow them to "retake" the test. It's not exactly a retake though. If the first test included biology, this time they'll have chemistry instead. I suppose there are some pro's and con's to taking a test over different subjects the second time around, but it would stress me out!

So, here's how our Mountain Top Ministries students fared on the Rheto national exam.

  • 11 students will definitely be moving on to Philo next year, which means 42% passed the exam with flying colors
  • 5 of the 26 students definitely failed the exam, so we have a failing rate of 19%
  • the remaining 10 students will be retaking the exam this coming week, which means 38% could go either direction
I hope that our first Philo class (MTM is adding it this year for the first time) is at least 20 students. Hopefully of the kids retaking their exam will pass and be able to move on to Philo. The teachers have been working with the 10 students retaking the exam since the scores were released a couple of weeks ago. Please pray for these students as they prepare to take the exam again.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Student Writing: Letter to Miss Smith

At one point this year, I asked my Rheto class (the highest grade level MTM's school in Gramothe offered last year) to write a letter to me. I asked them to explain on aspect of Haitian culture to me. This is Nolken's letter about school. Can you guess which line is my favorite?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Student Spotlight: Shnider

Shnider is quite the young man. He's fluent in English and loves to talk, so I know quite a bit about his life. At the beginning of the year, he was one of the three boys that walked down the mountain with me. Often we walked all the way to the MTM guest house gate because he lives just past Willem and Beth. I like Shnider because he often explains the culture and traditions to me before I ask.

Shnider is the oldest of 7 kids (well he might be the second oldest, but he's the oldest boy for sure). He is a young man of integrity who sets a good example for others. He often volunteers to help with tasks at school and church--in fact it would be a lengthy list if I tried to tell you all this kid does in Gramothe. Willem trusts Shnider more than any other student because he is so responsible and dedicated. This year he was in charge of making sure the generator always had gas. He would carry the gas containers to the gas station (a tap-tap ride halfway down the mountain), get gas, and then carry it back up the mountain. One time he walked up the mountain to school and discovered that the generator didn't have any gas. The elementary was supposed to be having chapel, so he ran from Gramothe to Thomassin 36 (maybe 2 miles) to find Willem to get money and buy gas--all before school started.

Shnider was in Rheto this year, which is the equivalent of being a junior in the States. The Ministry of Education requires all Rheto students to pass a national exam to move on to Philo, the final year of high school. Shnider earned the highest score of the MTM Rheto students. He's looking forward to being among the first students to graduate from an MTM school. The kid has big dreams for his life. He wants to go to university and eventually marry and have a family. But most of all he wants to serve the Lord with his life. Pray that Shnider would continue to shine the light of Jesus Christ so that others will come to know the Lord.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Support Update & God's faithful provision

I think it's time for another support update, but I'm not sure where to start. I've been overwhelmed with the goodness of God and how he is providing for Arold and me. I feel like I'm on some sort of Extreme Home Makeover show where the family is blessed beyond belief with what they've always dreamed of but never would have been able to do on their own. But instead of a house, I'm getting the financial and prayer support that I need to return to Haiti. Some days I am so overwhelmed with God's goodness and the way he's providing everything I need that I can't even form proper prayers to thank him!

Here's a look at what God has been up to this summer.

What I originally needed to return to Haiti full time:
  • $2500 in monthly support
  • a vehicle to drive in Haiti
  • a way to ship some personal belongings to Haiti
  • renters in my house in Mishawaka
God has provided...
  1. Renters for my house in Mishawaka at the exact time I needed them. They pay their rent on time, and are in general great renters.
  2. Space in a future trailer for my personal belongs. Some friends of MTM allowed me to deliver some furniture and about 15 rubbermaid tubs to their storage facility earlier this summer. They will store my stuff until there is another trailer headed to Haiti, at which time they will load it all on the trailer for me. This is fantastic because I don't need those things right away, and it will be like Christmas when they finally arrive in Haiti. 
  3. A man I have yet to meet has donated an SUV to MTM for me to drive in Haiti. Say what?! I know, it's something only the Almighty God of the universe could do: A total stranger donating the perfect vehicle for my ministry!! Call me Doubting Thomas, but I really thought I was going to have to return to Haiti without a vehicle. It just seemed too big a project to really happen. Here's a picture of "Traxy" the Tracker. Okay, so the guy who donated the SUV is not a total stranger. He knows my mom and apparently she's been forwarding him my newsletters this year. His daughter is going off to Europe for a year of language school, so he decided he would donate her vehicle to MTM for me. It's a Chevy, so at first I thought I wouldn't be able to ship it to Haiti because there's no way I would be able to get parts for it if something broke. But it turns out the motor is made by Suzuki, and there are about a million Suzuki Trackers in Haiti. God is AMAZING and clearly knows what he's doing!!
  4. The next hurdle was shipping Traxy to Haiti. I started asking some questions about the process. It was overwhelming and confusing. Then a friend of MTM again stepped in and said, "Don't worry your pretty little head about it. We'll take care of everything." *Sigh* Not only do I have a vehicle to drive in Haiti, I also don't have to figure out all the logistics of getting it there. Such a HUGE blessing!!!
  5. And then there's the monthly financial support. God is providing just the right people to be a part of this ministry team. I am so blessed to have the continued support of so many people, but it doesn't stop there! It seems like weekly there are new people joining my support team. Currently I have 53% of the monthly support I need to return to Haiti. My mom thinks that's not very much, but I'm confident God will provide the rest in his timing. 
Friends, join me in praising God for his goodness. Maybe you'll be able to form articulate prayers on my behalf because I think I'll just keep repeating my "Jesus, thank you, thank you, thank you!!" prayers until I the awesomeness of God's provision is not so overwhelming.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Student Writing: School

Here's another writing sample from one of my students in Haiti. He was given the topic of school and had to write 25 lines about it. He does a great job describing his school.

Monday, September 5, 2011

School Party Video

Here is a little taste of church in Haiti. The high school kids were having an end of school year party, and they included some praise and worship time. These kids are getting ready to go back to school sometime this month.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

National Exams, grade 9 results (UPDATED)

Earlier this month I shared that MTM 6th graders had a 90% passing rate on their national exam. Well, the 9th grade results were released last week and I have the breakdown to share. For a review of the national exam policies, read my previous blog post about it.

There were 52 students in grade 9 at the end of the 2010-2011 school year. (It was a really full room!) I haven't confirmed that all 52 of them took the exam, but I assume they did. My percentages are all based on having 52 kids in the class. Either I was wrong about how many students were in grade 9 last year, or not all of them took the national exam. There were 50 kids from MTM's school in Gramothe that took the 9th grade exam.

Exactly 12 of our 9th grade students did not pass the exam. They will have to repeat 9th grade again this year and take the exam again next summer. When Arold gave the names of the students who didn't "meet success" as my students would say, I was really sad. It seems there's a whole bench of girls (they always sit on the same benches in class) that didn't pass. I don't know if they just didn't study enough or if they struggle in other subjects. They were on the high end of average for English, so it will be interesting to see their specific scores.

That means 38 out of 50 students passed the exam, giving 9th grade a 76% passing rate. I'm so excited to see these students move on to 10th grade! The 9th grade exam had 1400 points possible in 6 different subjects: Creole, French, social science, Biology , Math, and English or Spanish. (I don't remember if the students get to choose the foreign language they want to test in or if the government decides each year.)  Students needed at least 700 points to pass the test. The highest score an MTM student received on the 9th grade exam this year was 956, and actually two students had that score. The lowest score of an MTM student in 9th grade was 452.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Student Spotlight: Richmond

Richmond (pronounced reeshmoan) will be a Rheto student this year, which is the equivalent of being a junior in high school. He is definitely a class clown and likes to be the center of attention. He is generally enthusiastic and full of energy. I got to know Richmond through my after school computer class. He loves learning about the computer almost as much as he loves making people laugh.

At the beginning of the year, Richmond was a little rougher around the edges than many of my other students. For example his topics of conversation were more colorful than most of the other kids. However, I saw a major change in Richmond once he started attending Willem's discipleship class on Monday nights. Then I gained some insight into his life. Richmond told me, through a computer assignment, more about his family. He says his mother was a "woman of the night" in Cite Soleil before she died, and his father was a man of adultery. He admits that he was doing life his own way for a long time, but this year he has learned about the Lord because of being at a Christian school (MTM's school in Gramothe) and the discipleship class. Pray that Richmond would continue to grow in his relationship with the Lord and become a shining light to his family.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Another 9th Grade Post

Last week I wrote about a 9th grade student named Ti Blanc. Then I shared the results of the national exams for 9th grade. Today I have a piece of writing from one of the 9th grade assignments this year. To help the students practice writing in English, I gave them each a paper with a topic already written on it. They were required to write 25 sentences about that topic. I know that sounds like a lot. It was. They made me mad the week before, so I gave them a longer assignment as a punishment.

Anyway, this particular piece of writing comes from Jean Ricard, who is probably the best with English in his class. He was also the class president this year. It's not perfect English, but I think you'll get the general idea of what he wants to convey.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Student Spotlight: Ti Blanc

Ti Blanc (pronounced tee blahn) is translated as "little white." His real name is Dieufills, but I’ve never heard anyone call him that. Nicknames are common in Haiti and his dad is likely called Blanc because he has lighter skin. Therefore the son became Ti Blanc because he’s a smaller version of his dad.

Ti Blanc was in 9th grade last year. To move on to 10th grade, students must pass the national exam for the 9th grade level. Along with the rest of the 9th grade students, Ti Blanc had to take and pass a national exam in order to move on to 10th grade. The scores are in and Ti Blanc will be moving on to 10th grade this year. This young man is a natural leader, and often keeps his classmates in line when they act out during class. In addition the kid is hilarious, but he is also very responsible and sets a good example for other students. 

An example of his antics: This is Ti Blanc's awesome outfit for the end of school year party. I burst out laughing when I saw him the first time that morning. I can't tell you how ridiculous this outfit is in the mountain of Haiti. The other kids thought he looked like a painter and they laughed quite a bit about it. He was very proud of having a funny outfit for the party.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

National Exams

Similar to public school in the United States, students in Haiti are required to take standardized national exams. At the end of grade 6, 9, and 12 students must pass an exam to move on to the next grade level. At the end of grade 13 students must pass a test to graduate from secondary school.

Haitian national exams work a little differently than ISTEP+ in Indiana. Currently in Indiana students are tested in Language Arts, Math, and Social Studies or Science depending on the year. In Haiti, students are tested in every subject. Another difference is in the scoring. In Haiti students receive a score for each subject, but all their scores together determine passing and failing. For example, the test may have 700 points possible. A student could receive a 0 in math and still pass because the sum of their other subject scores is enough to meet the cut off.

Recently the 6th grade scores were released. Gramothe 6th graders had a 95% passing rate with 41 of 43 students passing. MTM's school in Dumay had 78% passing rate with 14 of 18 students passing the national exam. The two classes combined had a 90% passing rate. That's incredible!

Hopefully the 9th and 12th grade scores will be released soon so I can find out how my students did. I hope their scores are just as amazing.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I miss Haiti

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mark Your Calendars

I will be sharing about Haiti and my students at Brenneman Memorial Missionary Church in Goshen, Indiana on Sunday August 21st.

I will speak very briefly during both morning services (3-5 minutes) and then I'll head over to the Sunday school area to share in more depth about what I'm doing in Gramothe.

WHO: Britney Smith
WHAT: sharing about Haiti
WHERE: Brennemen Memorial Missionary Church, 61115 State Road 15, Goshen, IN 46528
WHEN: Sunday August 21st at 9am & 10:30am

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Student Spotlight: Samy

Samy is a man of integrity, a hard worker, and one of our brightest students in Gramothe. He will be in the Philo class this year (the equivalent of being a senior), which means he will be in our first graduating class in May. When he graduates from high school, Samy would like to attend university and/or seminary.

Samy came to us from Cap Haitian, which is on the north coast and several long hours away by car. The details of how he came to be in our area are still a little fuzzy for me. His family still lives in Cap Haitian, and when I first arrived in Haiti last September, Samy was homeless. For a while he bounced between homes of other students, but in June Willem found a more suitable living arrangement for him. Life has been difficult Samy, but he hasn’t given up his hopes and dreams for the future. He knows that with God the impossible can become reality.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Student Spotlight: Ojimene

This is beginning of a new blog series. I miss my students in Haiti. Many of you tell me you enjoy learning more about specific students. Every so often I will introduce you to one of my high school students in Haiti. I'll tell you a little about their personality and what I have learned through observation and conversation.

Ojimene (woh-gee-men) is 17 years old and will be in Rheto (the equivalent of being a junior) for the 2011-2012 school year. She is timid, curious, and gentle. Ojimene lives in Thomassin 48 very near to Willem and Beth’s home. I often see her carrying water and running errands for her mother. One of the things I like most about Ojimene is her beautiful smile. She enjoys playing jokes on others and is very rarely without a smile. Ojimene patiently decodes my attempts at speaking Creole and speaks slowly so I can understand her. She is not very confident speaking English, but she is quite sassy with the boys in her class. The girl can definitely hold her own. Ojimene dreams of becoming a doctor when she finishes high school.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Support Update

This has been a very encouraging week.

  1. I received an e-mail that a couple wants to donate $1000 to my ministry in Haiti.
  2. I am tentatively scheduled to share at my parents' church on Aug. 21st. Once it's confirmed I'll share more details.
  3. Some friends e-mailed me yesterday to say they are going to partner with me for $100/month, which is totally awesome. But it's even better: they want to bless Arold and me with more talk time while I'm here in the States. I sent the "how to" email a couple of hours and go and they've already sent some minutes to Arold's phone.
Such sweet blessings.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Who do you know?

I mentioned earlier this month that I will be able to return to Haiti and my teaching position there when I am fully funded. In order to live and teach in Haiti, I need $2500 a month. Thankfully some very awesome people (most of whom sponsored me last year too) have collectively pledged $1200 per month. In order to raise the remaining support I need, I am sharing the story of how God is working in Gramothe and giving people the opportunity to partner with me in ministry. Already I’m scheduled to share with two area churches and at a camp in the coming weeks, but I would like share with more people.

Today I’m asking for your help. Would you consider your connections? Do you know a group or organization that would like to learn more about what God’s doing in Haiti? Do you attend a church that is looking for a ministry to partner with financially and relationally? Mountain Top Ministries hosts teams from the US and Canada who serve in a variety of ways (medical clinics, construction, teacher training, pastoral training, church seminars, etc). Do you own or work for a business that makes tax deductible donations to non-profit organizations? Do you know someone who is looking for a cause to champion? Do you know an individual who is passionate about education, serving the poor, or missions?

Who do you know that could potentially partner with me in breaking the bonds of poverty in Haiti?

Shoot my an e-mail at britneyLsmith(at)gmail(dot)com with any connections you are willing to share with me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sseko Sandals: I want some!

In case you don't know I work for a non-profit organization, specifically a ministry. One of my favorite things about Mountain Top Ministries is the fact that they empower Haitians to change their own lives. They don't just give handouts to people; they do ministry in a way that gives dignity to the people they're serving. MTM teaches skills and then provides opportunities for Haitians to use those skills. It's a beautiful thing.

This week I learned about a company in Uganda that has the same philosophy. Sseko Sandals provides young Ugandan women the opportunity to further their education. In the 9 months between high school graduation and the start of university classes, Sseko Sandals hires young women to make sandals so they can afford to attend university. As their website says, "These women will not make sandals forever. They will go on to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, writers and teachers that will bring change and unification to a country divided and ravished by a 22 year-long war." And I believe them.
Check out the Sseko website to get the whole story. They just celebrated their second birthday, and they have lots of stories and pictures on their website. I am really impressed with this company and what they are doing in Uganda. After you spend some time perusing the website, buy yourself some sandals!!!

I am currently drooling over all the possibilities. I will find a way to work these sandals into my budget. And when I do, I'm sure there will be more pictures here on my blog.