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.