Friday, April 29, 2011

Life Change

Have I mentioned that I'm getting married? 

Well, I am, and I'm SUPER excited about it!

Arold and I are planning a small wedding in Haiti on December 30th. We hope to have a reception in Indiana when we visit during the summer of 2012. 

Marrying Arold won't change my position with MTM or my plans to return to the States for a few month this summer and fall. What it does change is the fact that I now have a life long ministry partner.

And that, my friends, is life change worth celebrating!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Oh, how I love these girls!

These four girls are in Seconde. (That means they are in 11th grade, but they have two years of high school left because Haiti has a 13 grade education system. Nothing is ever simple in Haiti, but I digress.) They're also in my after school computer class, so I've gotten to know them pretty well. However, in the beginning I could not get them to talk to me. They didn't attempt to talk to me in English, so if they needed something they would get one of the boys to translate for them. I was really sad that they wouldn't talk to me for the first couple months. But now it's a different story. 

For all of February and most of March they teased me saying they were coming to my house after school. They have an obsession with the food that I eat. The constantly ask me what I will make for dinner after I get home. Often it's a sandwich, and they think that's funny.  I've yet to figure out why.

One day a few weeks ago these girls asked me if I would take their picture. I didn't have my camera so I told them I would do it tomorrow. Well "tomorrow" turned out to be a no uniform day at school, for what reason I have no idea. Anyway, they chose special clothes for these pictures. I thought we were just going to take one group photo, but I quickly learned it was a photo shoot! First I took their individual pictures. Then a group photo. THEN they wanted to change shirts and take more individual pictures. I said, "Are you kidding me?!?" To which they said, "What does that mean?" 

 Ameline has an easy smile, is down to earth, and makes me laugh. While she's friends with the other girls, she is a bit more independent and doesn't feel the need to do everything with them. She also probably has the best English vocabulary of the four girls.

 Romanie is persistent, attempts to speak in English more than the other girls, and also speaks slowly for me in Creole. I appreciate that a lot!

Ogimene is the ring leader of this group. She's curious about everything, gets excited easily, tries to talk to me in English but often switches to Creole because it's easier, and she is a whiner when she doesn't want to do something.

 Tania is a punk, plain and simple. The girl has attitude, but it's generally not directed toward me. She has no problem telling others what to do, and she especially likes to boss the boys around. She also very rarely even attempts to speak English. She'd rather get someone else to do it for her.

Eventually we took this final picture where they look so happy to be alive. But don't let them fool you, they are definitely giggly teenage girls. It's just that Haitians don't smile for pictures.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Update List

I send out an update about my life and ministry in Haiti once a month. In fact I just sent the April update today. Sometimes these updates have repeat information from my blog, but the majority of the updates are not repeat information.

If you would like to receive these updates, leave a comment on this post. All you have to do is include your name and e-mail address in the comment form (not to be confused with the comment section) when you leave your comment, and I'll gladly add you to the list. Or you can e-mail britneyLsmith (at) gmail (dot) com with your desire to receive the updates.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Every year there is a group of churches that put on a crusade in Thomassin, my town/area. It sounds like it's normally held on the soccer field at the top of 48 (near the guest house) in December, but this year the crusade was moved to Holy week. The location had to be changed because the soccer field is too muddy, so the crusade is being held on the school yard next to my house.

I went to the opening night festivities on Sunday with my boyfriend. The crusade officially starts at 6pm, but the singers and organizers start preparing ahead of time. I could hear music starting well before 5pm. I love listening to worship songs play throughout the neighborhood. The crusade has some fantastic musicians, so their music is especially appreciated. When we arrived it was worship time. We sang songs for about an hour, but we stopped a couple different times for some really long prayers. One of the prayers was for all the people who lived in the area. The guy prayed for people who are sick, dealing with marital problems, looking for employment, and who are dealing with a host of other issues.

Singing is my favorite part of church, especially when it's all in Creole. I'm getting pretty good at singing the select Creole songs I know. But what's even better is that I am picking up other songs pretty quickly. Sometimes I only catch phrases, and other times I know the English words to the same tune. The crusade allowed me to practice some songs I have been learning at church, but also gave me exposure to some songs I've never heard before.

After the singing there was an offering. I felt like the offering was a little awkward. Some guys stood in front of the crowd and anyone who wanted to give something walked up and dropped their money in a basket. It was a very drawn out process. I suppose the awkward part was that I felt like sharing the Good News with people should not be preceded by asking for their money. There are 30 churches who are working together to put on this crusade, and it seems like they should be able to share the costs so that they don't have to ask the community they are trying to reach for money. I guess I need to explore a little further my thoughts about taking an offering at a crusade.

After the offering a pastor was introduced and he gave the message. He read a long passage in Ezekiel chapter 19. I should probably look it up and see what it was about. After that he talked for a long time, and said the phrase "moun ki aksepte kris..." or "ou bezwen aksepte kris..." about every other sentence. (That translates to people who accept Christ... or you need to accept Christ...) Seriously, it was a bit repetitive. However, at the end there were some people who came forward for the alter call. There were pastors standing by ready to pray with anyone who wanted to accept Christ for the first time or rededicate their lives to him. There were several little old ladies who went first and then some more people. In all there may have been 15 people who eventually went forward.

I was super excited that people are eager to begin or renew a relationship with Christ. I'm especially excited about the young people I saw go forward. I don't know any of them by name, but I recognized a few of them from school. Their new found commitment to the Lord excites me. I hope that the crusade continues to refresh and awaken the faith of those in my community.

Benefits of a Vehicle

One of the requirements for me to return to Haiti long term is that I have my own vehicle. Currently I walk to and from the guest house and school when I don’t have a ride. Since the school is only 2 miles from my apartment and the guest house is between them, it’s really not a bad walk. In fact I enjoy the exercise. However, if I need to go somewhere else I have to bum rides off of other people. There are several benefits to me having my own car in Haiti.

  1. More time for ministry. First and foremost if I had my own vehicle, I would be able to spend more time on ministry and less on traveling. Because I don’t have my own vehicle I depend on primarily Beth to take me anywhere else I need to go. I love spending time with Beth, and we often have really good talks while we’re in the car. The problem is that with two boys in school and a guest house to run, she has waaaaayyyyyyy more errands to run than I do. Often on Fridays we leave the house at 10 am for the discipleship classes we teach at her boys’ school and do not return until 5pm or after. If I had my own vehicle I could be back by 1 or 1:30 and still do some work in the afternoon. I would also be able to go to Laboule Children’s Home on Saturdays (or whenever I wanted) to teach English, do craft projects, or just hangout.
  2. More flexibility. The second best advantage to being able to drive myself around is that I wouldn’t be tied to someone else’s schedule. I would be able to go to the grocery store or Laboule Children’s Home when I needed to go instead of waiting until someone else was headed that way. I would also be able to commit to other activities—like a Bible study—because I would know I could get myself there.  
  3. Aid Team Travel. Also having another vehicle and driver would help when we have teams here. Often the teams take a tour of Port au Prince, go to Lookout Point, or head up to the Baptist Mission cafĂ©/museum. Another vehicle would help transport people during those trips. Just last week some people had to stay skip the tour of Port au Prince because there weren’t enough vehicles for everyone.
  4. Makes life easier. Public transportation is overcrowded, unreliable, and unsafe (due to the overcrowding and crazy driving). It’s an option, but not a very good one. Beth has allowed me to bum rides off of her this year, but she needs her own flexibility back. Having a vehicle of my own would make both our lives a little easier.
So what kind of vehicle am I looking for? Well, with the roads in Haiti I will need a 4 wheel drive or all wheel drive vehicle. Ideally it would run on diesel, have less than 100,000 miles, have new tires and brakes, and be in really good condition. Practically, I'll take whatever God provides.

If you want to donate a vehicle to MTM (totally tax deductible!) that can be shipped to Haiti or would like to donate money towards the purchase of a vehicle (still tax deductible), please e-mail me at britneyLsmith (at) gmail (dot) com.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


A grand total of four posts for April so far.

Wow. I'm a slacker.

But you know what? I'm okay with that. I think I might have something to write about later this week. Until then, enjoy the crazy spring weather for me. I'm stuck with sunny 75* weather every day.

It's a really rough life I live, right?

Monday, April 11, 2011


 A couple of weeks ago, my friend Arin wrote me an email. She said her family wanted to send me a care package and wondered if there was something specific I wanted. I knew Arin liked to read so I asked her to send me a few paperbacks if she had any laying around--along with a few other things. Well, her package arrived, via a doctor who was coming to the clinic. It was HUGE. I thought she might send one of those small flat rate boxes, but she packed the giant box chock full of goodies for me. There were some school supplies, facial wipes for after I walk up the mountain, Crystal Light Peach Tea packets, and a smaller box that was gift wrapped. I was really curious about the smaller box. There was a note attached that said several families in our church made the gift possible. I am so incredibly blessed by my St. Mark family already. I thought their package was awesome.

Then I opened the small gift wrapped box. I had no idea what was inside. Once it was open I thought I might pee my pants I was so excited. Arin and some other families sent me a KINDLE and a $25 gift card to the Kindle store!!!! OH MY GOODNESS!!! Can you believe how amazing they are?! I had never considered buying a Kindle, so it wasn't even on my secret wish list. However, it is an AWESOME gift!! I love, love, love to read. I cannot get my hands on enough books here. I have access to a library, but I frequently forget about it. I also have some audio books on my computer, but when it's not charged and there's no power I can't listen to them. Now I can download books and read them anywhere.

Doesn't it look just like the picture on the box?

I am overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness and generosity of Arin and her cohorts. If you helped make this happen, please accept my sincere thanks!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Last year for my spring break I came to Haiti to help in the medical clinic. Willem kept asking when I was moving to Haiti. I thought he was joking. Little did I know I would move to Haiti in September.
My friend Abby is here for her spring break. She's helping in the clinic and hanging out at my apartment. It's been such a blessing to have another familiar face around this week. Willem keeps asking her when she's moving here. She thinks he's joking.

Any guesses on where she'll be living in September?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Out of My League

So, the Illini Life team that gave the computer lab a makeover included a couple of high school teachers. One teaches physics and the other chemistry. Both had expressed interest in seeing a high school math or science class. When I delivered my graded exams to the principal, I noticed that there were a couple of grades working on math. I quickly gathered the guys and took them to high school. At the end of our tour we found the Rheto (like 12th grade) studying some math on their own. I quickly ushered the guys in the door and told the kids they wanted to see some math. What followed was magical: two teachers engrossed in subjects they know and love, surrounded by students who have calculus and chemistry memorized. Yes, memorized. It's crazy. I was totally out of my league. I prefer grammar, essays, and literature.

Chemistry on the left, one giant calculus problem on the right. Do you see how it takes an entire chalkboard? It wasn't finished yet and ended up using 3/4 of the total chalkboard--which happens to be two ginormous boards side by side.

But it didn't end there! Jay was so impressed, he took Sammy to the computer lab to show him a program on the laptops. I'm glad Jay found someone to explain the program to because when he showed me my eyes glazed over and I went to my happy place.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Computer Lab Makeover

Jay shows some of the boys how to use a complicated math program that I will never understand. That particular computer was bought by the Internet Club at Central High School in a city in Illinois. I think Champaign.

Rosias found this old projector during the computer room makeover and decided to be the film crew. He was enthralled with that old projector even though it would only project a very small area, no matter what we did to it. I think he entertained himself for several hours looking at old filmstrips and even drawing on a blank one. He thinks I threw the thing away (it is defective), but I secretly held on to it and will give it to him sometime in the future.

Matt and Matt on the left were the computer gurus who set up the internet and the network. Jay was one of the masterminds behind the entire extreme classroom makeover. And that thing in the middle? That is one very awesome purple laptop cart!

I love this shot! They may not have been raised with computers like a lot of American kids, but they catch on quickly.

Here I am doing something really awesome. I'm sure it was really awesome because 4 teenage boys are watching so closely. I think maybe I was showing them my skill with the program Paint.