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.