Monday, December 17, 2012
We appreciate your prayers this week.
- Isaac and I leave on Wednesday to spend Christmas in the States. Please pray for safe travels, a calm mama, and a happy baby while traveling. My mom is meeting us in Ft. Lauderdale, so I only have to do the first leg by myself. Even with my mom meeting us, I am really nervous about traveling with Isaac by myself.
- Pray for Arold as he spends the next two weeks by himself. And pray for me and Isaac. It's never easy to be apart.
- Praise the Lord for our safety while driving the streets of Petionville and Port au Prince. The traffic is scary and we had a close call today with a motorcycle. We're so thankful for God's protection!
- The youth in Gramothe are hosting a week of prayer. They asked Arold to preach tonight. Praise God for these young people who are growing in their faith and leadership skills.
- Please pray for the administrators and teachers at the school as they wrap up report cards for the first semester. It sounds like there will be some changes in staff after the new year, so we appreciate your prayers for the right people to be hired and that the transition goes smoothly for the students and staff.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Thursday, December 6, 2012
So, I'm beyond excited that Isaac gets to meet his grandma and grandpa, Uncle Jason, and my entire extended family. But I'm also really bummed that we won't be spending our first Christmas as a family together. And I won't be in Haiti for our anniversary either because it's extra expensive to travel between Dec. 20th and Dec. 31st. But my husband assures me we will have lots of time to celebrate before school starts on Jan. 7th.
I'm bringing Haitian coffee with me. You can purchase a 10oz bag of delicious Haitian coffee for just $6. Pick up in Mishawaka and Goshen on Sunday Dec. 23rd. Or I can mail it to you on Dec. 20th, but I don't know what shipping will cost right now. Cash, check or PayPal. Leave a comment telling me how many bags you want, or e-mail me britneyLsmith (at) gmail (dot) com.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Our friends from Illini Life Christian Fellowship have committed to maintaining the computer lab in Gramothe. In March of 2010 they brought 14 laptops, equipment to make the lab internet ready, a server, and then they built a computer cart to house all of the equipment. It was a huge blessing to our students and made it possible for us to teach computer skills to more students. Last spring they added three more laptops to the arsenal, and spent a considerable amount of time doing "upkeep" in the lab. Their commitment to making our students tech savvy is incredible!
In planning for their trip this February, they asked us for a wish list. Since our dream is to be able to teach all 250 high school students how to use the computer, we gave them a big list. Molly wrote back and said she thinks it's doable; they just need to ask the right people to support the project.
Sooooooo, I thought I would give YOU the opportunity to partner with Illini Life and Mountain Top Ministries. You can help Haitian youngsters in a very tangible way. Molly and Jay put together a website with information about this Lab Expansion project. Check out their website and consider making a tax deductible donation. Instructions on how to contribute to expanding the lab are at the bottom of the main page. (You'd send the money to the Illini Life church, who will purchase the computers and other supplies to bring to Haiti.)
Since I haven't been to Gramothe since before Isaac was born (and he's 2 months old now), I am deprived of interaction with my students and also having stories to share. (when I started this post I still hadn't been up to Gramothe, but I went to church on Sunday so I have technically been there since Isaac was born)
So, I snatch up any papers my husband brings home and work hard to decode them. They're all in French, remember. I'm constantly asking him if anything interesting has happened at school... the answer is almost always no. (the punk!)
This week I found a list of the class sizes. The high school numbers are down a little this year, but I'm not complaining. Teaching a class of 50 students is really challenging. Without further ado, here are the high school class sizes (some of them are approximations--since the paper with the actual numbers disappeared I had to try to remember them all).
7th grade: 50 students (always a big class)
8th grade: 32 students
9th grade: 30 students
10th (freshmen): 25 students
Seconde 11th (sophomores): 25 students
Rheto 12th (juniors): 32 students
Philo 13th (seniors): 11 students
Monday, December 3, 2012
Hey, thanks for your prayers. We really appreciate them! Here's what we're praying about this week.
- Rosias (aka Mouse to those who have been here) fell after school on Thursday and broke his arm/wrist. Beth took him to the Baptist Mission, so he has a cast and an appointment to go back this Thursday to get it checked out. Pray that his wrist will heal quickly and completely.
- Praise God that Rosias's aunt found a job!
- Another student, all I know is that she's 15, fell on her way to church Sunday morning and hurt her wrist, too. Beth wrapped her wrist and loaded her up with some ibuprofen. Pray that she doesn't have any broken bones and that she heals quickly. Micka will check her wrist for swelling in the morning and keep her supplied with ibuprofen.
- Britney and Isaac went to church yesterday for the first time since he was born. Praise God for safe travels on the ATV and good fellowship with our church friends.
- As always, please pray for our safety and health.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Mr. Isaac turned two months old last week, and I think we have officially entered a new era. Previously, we were doing pretty good if Isaac would sleep three hours at a time. He got up at least twice a night to eat, and sometimes he threw in an extra feeding just keep things exciting. I've been telling him for weeks, maybe months, that he should try to sleep for four hours at a time, but he didn't listen to me.
Well, four nights ago Isaac slept for five, count them FIVE, hours in a row. I didn't go to sleep until about 2 hours in, though, because I was sure he would want to eat around 11pm. So the next night as soon as he went to dreamland, I got in bed and promptly fell asleep because I was hoping for another five hour stretch. Well, he only slept three hours, but he did sleep 5 hours the second stretch of the night. And the next two nights he's slept at least one 5 hour stretch. It is AMAZING. Getting so much sleep at a time makes me feel like a new woman!
Monday, November 26, 2012
Here's what we're praying about this week, and and an update from last week.
- Tania, the high school student who passed out at school, is doing better. She spent a few days at home after her visit to the hospital, but is now back at school. Please keep praying for her health.
- Jeff Smith, the student in grade 9--not my uncle in Indiana, preached a powerful message during church yesterday. Praise God for students who are willing to share the word of God with others!
- Pray for God's favor to rest on Arold's visa application as it passes through the hands of the Embassy employees.
- I'm teaching several students how to crochet in the hope that they'll be able to earn a little money for their families by selling crocheted items. Please pray that I will be able to teach them effectively and that there will be a market for their crocheted items. Our next class is Dec. 1st.
- Rosias's aunt is looking for work. Pray that God will provide a job for her soon. She's been out of work since her former employer died about a month ago.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
If you are coming to Haiti in the coming months and you are interested in bring donations with you, consider bringing something from the following unusual requests.
- feminine sanitary napkins--in the past the school office has kept a supply of sanitary napkins that the girls can ask for when they need them. This year, Arold hasn't had any to give out. If you'd like to help with this very real need, please bring a package of maxi pads with you.
- colorful grocery bags (like Wal-mart bags)--I am teaching some students to crochet and we have some projects we'd like to do with plastic yarn made from these bags. We have access to white plastic bags here, but would like some with color.
- light weight fabric--we also have some crochet projects in mind that can be made with fabric. If you find yourself in a store that sells fabric by the yard, check out the clearance section for us. Or, if you have bed sheets you no longer need, we can use those as well. We don't need anything beautiful. In fact I used an ugly brown fabric to make a toy basket for Isaac and I think it looks pretty awesome.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Monday, November 19, 2012
Update from last week and prayers for this week:
- The student who needed stitches last Monday is doing well. He busted his forehead open on the playground, so he got stitches and a tetanus shot. Arold said the bandages have been changed (probably at a clinic or the hospital) and he is doing just fine. Praise God!
- Praise God for the 78 people (mostly students) who made decisions to follow Christ at church yesterday.
- One of our high school students had an episode at school earlier this month. It's not clear whether she passed out or had a seizure, but her parents came to get her from school and took her to the hospital. Reports are that she's at home now, but she hasn't returned to school yet. Please pray for her healing.
- We finally heard from the Embassy that the initial paperwork for Arold's visa was approved. Praise the Lord!!
- The end of the semester is about a month away. Pray for the students and teachers as they wrap up this semester.
- The youth choir that Arold is leading had their first performance last week. They are excited to sign praises to God and are planning a Christmas performance/party.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Praise God from whom all blessings flow! We are definitely celebrating in the Charles house today.
We finally heard from the Embassy regarding the first round of paperwork we dropped of on October 15th. Our petition to file for a visa was approved, and we can begin working on the actual visa application. (It's a long and complicated process. I totally get why people go the States without the proper paperwork!)
We are incredibly thankful for God's faithfulness to our family. Now we are trusting that we can complete the paperwork and return it to the Embassy as soon as possible. I would say as soon as humanly possible, but the truth is if we want to be in the States for Christmas (and we do!) it will take a miracle. We would need to have approval for Arold's visa and the paperwork in hand exactly one month from today to be home for Christmas. That, my friends, will take a miracle.
But God has brought us this far, we are trusting that he will continue to give us favor in this visa process. Please pray with us that we'll be able to get the visa in time to travel for Christmas.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
January), and he has 80 students split up into 5 different groups. He also created a curriculum and book for the students with the basics in it. We are excited to be able to expose so many students to the computer and hope they'll be able to use these skills to get jobs after graduation.
Monday, November 12, 2012
Here's what we're praying about this week:
- Update @ 1:12pm: One of the students needs stitches (no idea what happened at this point), so Arold is taking him to the Baptist Mission Hospital. Pray that the student will get the medical care he needs in a timely fashion.
- Saturday was the last day of clinic for 2012. This week the team saw some patients with pretty intense issues. Pray for their healing. The next clinic team will arrive in early January.
- Isaac is 7 weeks old today. Praise the Lord for our healthy baby. He is truly a blessing!
- Pray for smooth travels as the current team makes the long journey back to Northwestern U.S. and Prince George, Canada. It's a 2.5 day trip for the Canada group.
- Please pray that we will hear from the US Embassy today! We need to move forward with this visa application.
- We're thankful that Isaac's US passport and certificate of birth abroad (proving US citizenship) arrived this weekend. Now he can travel out of Haiti when we are ready.
- Pray for wisdom as we are in the process of hiring someone to stay with Isaac while we are working. We are both a little nervous about leaving him, but we're praying God will give us peace when we find the right person.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Friday, November 9, 2012
If you have kids, you know how freely other people give advice about raising them. Apparently everyone has strong feelings on how babies should be be taken care of. This unwarranted advice can be helpful, but most new parents find it irritating. This phenomena of giving new (and not so new) parents advice about how to raise their kids seems to transcend cultures. At least, I've found it happens in Haiti as well as the U.S.
I've found that raising my son in another country means that I not only get advice from friends and strangers alike, but I also get very... interesting advice. I've heard all of the following:
- babies younger than 1 month old cannot be held in an upright position because they are too young to sit
- babies need to wear a hat to keep their head warm (remember 70* is a LOW temp here)
- babies cannot suck on their hands/fingers or they will be "distracted" later in life (my husband's family seems to think Isaac will have a lower IQ if he sucks on his hands, which he does a lot)
- if a baby cries, he's hungry--just feed him
- Take a thread from the mother or father's clothing. If the parents are away, the caregiver's clothing will do.
- Lick the string.
- Place the string on the baby's forehead between his eyes.
- Leave the string there for as long as it takes.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
One of our supporting churches recently asked for a short video of our ministry that they could share during their Missions Sunday services. We were given a time limit of 2 minutes, and I think we were able to capture all the different areas of our ministry in that time. Here's a quick look at what we do in Gramothe. Enjoy!
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Here's what we're praying about this week:
- Still waiting to hear from the Embassy. Please pray they'll call us soon.
- Praise God for the Oregon and Canada team that is here this week. They are working in the clinic and building benches for the school. Pray for the patients that will come through the clinic and the providers who will treat them.
- This week is the last clinic of 2012. Our next clinic week is in early January. Pray that all the people who come to the clinic this week will be able to be seen.
- Praise God for our health and well-being. Arold recently had a cold, but he's better now and Isaac and I didn't get it at all.
- Arold's after school computer classes are going really well.
- We've recently been discussing some new ideas for our ministry here to Haitian young people. Pray that God will guide us and give us wisdom as we think about the future.
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Friday, November 2, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Sorry this is a day late, but yesterday afternoon I had to make a critical choice. Isaac went to sleep and my options were A) write the blog post I just opened, B) make something to eat, or C) take a shower. Food won that round... kind of. I got to make lunch, but it took a while longer before I could eat it!
Anyway, here's what we're praying about this week.
- The IN/CA team is wrapping up their week in Haiti today. The California group is going home to discuss projects they'd like to get involved with here at MTM, and the Indiana group is going to Dumay today. Praise God for the work they've done this week (mini clinic, abstinence teaching in the high school, food distribution, sandal distribution, etc). Pray for both groups as they travel home tomorrow.
- Hurricane Sandy was worse than we expected. We had three days of heavy rains and intense wind. Beth said it was one of the worst storms simply because it lingered so long. We're thankful the sun is back out this week, but there were homes damaged by the storm here on the mountain, so I know the damage in the city and lower lying areas was bad.
- All the rain from Sandy really messed with the riverbed. (Arold took a video I'll try to share later this week.) We're thankful for God's protection as the team (and students) crossed the riverbed this weekend for clinic and church. Pray for continued safety as the students and villagers brave the racing waters this week.
- We're still waiting to hear from the Embassy. I called yesterday and didn't get anyone helpful. Hopefully today is a different story.
- Arold's Sunday school class seems to be going well. Keep praying for the musicians to have genuine hearts of worship.
- I was able to Skype with one of Arold's computer classes. I can't tell you how exciting it was to talke to my students. I miss them. Praise God for technology!
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
A couple Sundays ago some cool people from Florida live streamed the church service from Gramothe. It was awesome for me to be able to "be" at church while sitting in my house. I loved seeing my students and worshiping with my church family! Here's a video of the singing time. You can watch the rest of the service on the Livestream website here.
Monday, October 22, 2012
Things to pray about this week:
- October has bbeen a busy month for us. We've had two medical teams, a miscellaneous team that handed out school supplies and distributed food in Dumay, and later this week another team comes in that will do a mini-clinic, abstinence training for the high school kids, and a leadership training of some sort. I think there were 4 whole days that someone was not staying in the guest house. Pray for God to be glorified in all of this, and also lift up those of us who are here full time.
- On Saturday I'm teaching some of my students how to crochet a project. We're hoping they can then sell it and make some much needed money for their families. Pray that I can communicate clearly with them and that this new skill would be a blessing in their lives.
- Praise the Lord for the good appointment we had at the Embassy last week. Now we're waiting to hear from them regarding Arold's visa application. Pray that they would call with good news soon!
- Pray for God to prepare the hearts of our high school students for the message about abstinence that they will hear next week.
- Praise God for the construction work that's being done in Dumay.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
I don't often talk about Dumay on this here blog because, well, I don't generally go there. And for me, out of sight is out of mind. For those of you who don't know, Dumay is a village about 2 hours from Gramothe where MTM has an elementary school. I think the plan was eventually to develop more there, but it just hasn't happened.
Earlier this year a group from Nebraska partnered with MTM to jump start the ministry in Dumay. They have already started building a wall around the property and a work group is scheduled to be here later this year. It's exciting to hear about what is being planned there!
This month a few people from Nebraska were here and they did a dry food distribution in Dumay. The story is that as they approached the village, Willem stopped and told two people what they were planning to do. Those people ran to tell the neighbors and this is what ensued. Sorry you can only see half of the video; I can't figure out how to resize it. (Also worth mentioning is the fact that everyone reported the distribution went very smoothly. People only ran to get in line, they didn't cause any problems once they were in line.)
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
|the principal addresses the students at the first chapel of the '12-'13 school year|
Every Wednesday the elementary school students in Gramothe start the day with chapel. Arold and Judner, the 6th grade teacher, alternate leading chapel. Typically a few students from a class are chosen to help lead the singing time while Arold plays the piano and Judner plays the drums. After that each class recites their memory verse for the week, and then there is a short devotion from Arold or Judner.It's a great time of age appropriate worship and Bible teaching for our younger students.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Here's what we're praying about this week...
- There were 22 people here for a long weekend (arrived Thursday night). They were only here for three days, but they were able to accomplish a lot. They sorted and distributed school supplies, presented a Bible lesson to all the elementary classes, painted some classrooms, loved on some orphans, distributed dry food in Dumay, live streamed the church service on Sunday morning, and probably a few other things I'm missing. Praise God for these new friends and pray for them as they travel home today. Our last two teams have had to deal with major delays in Miami, and I hope this team can avoid that.
- We are headed back to the Embassy today for an appoint about Arold's visa application. Pray that we will be able to move forward in this process and that our interview will go well today. (It's just a preliminary interview, not the final one.)
- Arold is starting worship team practice this week. Pray for him as he teaches and guides this group of musicians. Pray also that the musicians would learn what it means to be worship leaders.
- Lots of exciting construction is being planned in Dumay (where MTM's second school is located). Pray for God's guidance as things move forward there. Also, we're really thankful for the guy who is the driving force and financial sponsor of the work happening there. Praise the Lord for his partnership with MTM!
- Isaac has a little bit of jaundice. The doctor said to put him in the sun for 5 minutes twice a day for 5 days and it should clear right up. Pray for this mama not to freak out and that Isaac would be jaundice free soon.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
There are a lot of things I would like to write about, but the combination of time, energy and fingers that feel okay to type is rare these days. Here's a quick look at our life lately.
- We made the trip to the US Embassy this week--twice. Wednesday we submitted Isaac's paperwork to be recognized as a US citizen, and Thursday we had our "interview" for that paperwork to be approved. The interview was basically me swearing that everything in the paperwork was true and that I am married to Arold. The consular officer was very nice.
- While at the Embassy on Thursday, we submitted the first round of paperwork for Arold's visa. It has been very frustrating to try to connect with a person at the Consulate about that, so I am extremely grateful the Consular officer was able to direct us to someone helpful on Thursday. We ended up staying at the Embassy for about 3 hours on Thursday morning, but felt it was worth it since we got the ball rolling with the visa. We have an appointment with an immigration officer on Monday afternoon to hopefully start the next round of paperwork for the visa.
- Arold started a youth choir in Gramothe. He's at repetition (practice) as I type this. The youth are really excited about having a choir, and nearly all 32 members of the youth group were present at the first practice. I think the plan is that they will sing in church once a month. I can't wait to hear them when I go back to church.
- Speaking of church, I haven't been to Gramothe since Sept. 16th for church. And I don't remember when I was there before that. I really miss seeing my friends in the village and being in church, but the ride down to the riverbed and across it are not really an option for me right now. I still have to be careful about how and where I sit, so going to Gramothe is going to have to wait until I'm all the way healed.
- I miss being at school with my students, but I love snuggling with my baby anytime I want.
- Did I tell you that Arold also started a Sunday school class for the worship team? I kind of volunteered him for it, and he wasn't exactly thrilled about that. BUT in my defense, we had talked about how the musicians needed some solid Bible time in their lives and that having a Sunday school class for them would be ideal. In addition to the Sunday morning class, Arold is also planning to have Wednesday afternoon practice with them to work on their musical skills. They are all self taught for the most part and could use a little more practice/instruction. I'm hopeful that the sound will be much improved when I go back to church.
- School seems to be going well so far this year. There were 450+ students in school last week, which is impressive when I think back to my first year here. In the fall of 2010 there were only a handful of kids who came to school the first week and we weren't up to 400 until about a month into the school year. I'm glad to see this cultural shift. Education is important!
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Here's what we're praying about this week:
- Praise: Last week was a great week of clinic with more than 500 patients being seen in 4 days.
- Pray for God's favor to rest on us as we go to the US Embassy tomorrow morning. We will register Isaac's birth abroad and hopefully submit the paperwork to start Arold's visa. Pray that our paperwork is accepted, and also pray for the logistics of taking a two week old baby to the Embassy and waiting in line for who knows how long. We have an appointment, but I know from others that the appointment time doesn't mean much. Plus our appointment is at 7:30am and the Embassy is on the other side of the airport. We'll be on the road before the sun comes up.
- Praise: School is off to a good start. There were about 475 students at school yesterday, which is almost 80% of what we expect our total enrollment to be for Gramothe.
- None of our students who took the grade 12 national exam for the second time passed the exam. They've already spent two years in grade 12 in Gramothe, some of them did grade 12 at another school before coming to Gramothe, so they are officially finished with high school. As sad as it is for me to see them go, I'm excited to know that some of them are pursuing vocational training. Pray for these young people as they seek God's will for the next step in their lives.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
Friday, October 5, 2012
I just got word that we can file for Arold's visa and report Isaac's birth abroad next Wednesday October 10th. Yahooo!!!!!!!!!!!! This is a definite answer to prayer. I have been trying to contact the US Consulate about the visa application process for many weeks and could never get a real person on the phone.
Please pray that God would go before us and that we would be successful in both of these endeavors. We want to visit my family in Indiana at Christmas and we need a visa for Arold and a US passport for Isaac before that can happen. We are trusting God to provide these documents so we can travel in December.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Monday, October 1, 2012
So much is going on this week. Please join us in praying...
- Praise God for the birth of our son Isaac!! I had a super fast labor and delivery (3 hours!), breastfeeding is going better than expected, and we are all doing well. We're so thankful that Isaac is healthy and there were no complications during birth.
- After much anticipation (maybe only on my part), the 2012-2013 school year starts TODAY! Pray for the students, teachers, other staff, and principals as they begin this school year.
- Praise God for the 12 (of 14) Philo students who passed the national exam! Only 4 students passed the test the first time they took it, but the other 10 were able to retake the exam. Only two of our students did not pass. (The only girl in the class confused one of the test times, so she missed that test and didn't get enough points to pass. Otherwise we may have had 13 students pass.)
- Our second clinic team is arriving today. They'll see patients Tuesday through Friday. Pray that God would give them wisdom as they treat the patients who come this week.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Isaac Steven Charles was born Monday September 24th at 9:25pm. He weighed 7 pounds and 14 ounces and was 19 inches long. We were discharged this morning and have enjoyed being at home lounging in our own bed. Birth story and more pictures to come another day. This family needs some sleep!
Monday, September 24, 2012
Here's some of what we're praying about this week:
- Pray for a natural and uncomplicated birth for our son
- School starts on Oct 1st. Pray for a good start to the school year.
- Praise God all the paperwork has been turned in for Britney's permis de sejour.
- Pray for God's favor as we apply for Arold's visa (waiting on one last piece of paperwork and our baby to be born before we take it all to the embassy)
- Praise God for a successful first clinic week Sept 11-15th.
- Pray for the next clinic team as they prepare to serve Oct. 2nd-6th.
- Pray for all the teams coming in October: two weeks of clinic teams, a non-medical team (I dont know what they are doing yet), and a group of people coming to check out how they can get involved. It will be a busy month for MTM!
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Saturday, September 22, 2012
While Rosias was crocheting, my husband worked on his very first banana leaf card. I showed Rosias some as an example and my husband decided he could make them. He left the house with some scissors and came back with a big chunk of banana leaf "bark". I think he would benefit from having a razor blade, but his first card turned out alright, don't you think?
And then there's poor pitiful me. All fine motor movements (typing, writing, drawing, crocheting, etc) make my fingers go numb because of this pregnancy induced carpel tunnel. So I just cut up plastic bags to make plarn for later use. I'm planning to crochet some baskets when I can feel my hands again, so I figured I could work on preparing my supplies while the guys worked on their projects. It was a fun day!
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Living in a foreign country requires learning new customs and adjusting to a new normal. All those interesting tidbits I learn as I live in Haiti are Golden Nuggets. And what kind of person would I be if I didn't share those Golden Nuggets with others?
As I drove home from the grocery store yesterday, I thought about some observations I should share with all of you. Some background information: this grocery store is about 5 minutes from my house. It's a smallish mom and pop type place, but it has nearly everything I could have on my shopping list.
- I bought 6 items. All of them were put in their own plastic bag. One was even double bagged, so I left with 6 items and 7 bags.
- All the cashiers at this store are female. All the bag boys are men. The more I think about it, the more I realize this is true for all grocery stores I've ever been to in Haiti. Gender roles are very defined here and apparently running a cash register is for women and bagging up items is for men. It is worth noting that the cashiers will bag items if a bag boy is not available.
- The grocery store is expensive. I can buy 5lbs of flour at the boutique next to my house for $16, but at the store it's at least $20* if not more. AND the last time I bought flour at the store it had bugs in it. I've never found bugs in my boutique flour... and I've been sifting it ever since I found those bugs!
Eggs are even more ridiculous. A dozen eggs at the grocery store costs $25-$30, but we buy a flat of eggs (30) for $39 at the boutique next door.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Here's what we're praying about this week:
- Marie Carme's baby died this weekend. Please pray for this family.
School should start today. Should because there was a flurry of phone calls prior to 6 am this morning about whether or not school was actually going to start today. Arold had a family thing for some cousins yesterday, so we were not in Gramothe for church and missed any announcement that may or may not have been made.School will not start in October in accordance with the Ministry of Education's edict. Please pray for the students--especially those who were looking forward to a consistent daily meal when school started.
- Praise God that all my paperwork has FINALLY been completed for the permis de sejour. We only had to go to the Immigration office four times last week to get it all submitted. Now we wait for them to prepare it. I can go back at the end of October to pick it up. (It's the end of the fiscal year, so they need two months to fill out a piece of paper that staples to my passport.)
- The first medical team of the year is arriving today. Praise God for the services they will provide to the many patients that will come this week!
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
I've been trying to menu plan since I returned to Haiti in July. It helps me stay motivated to cook every day, which I think I've mentioned before is not really my cup of tea, and it also helps me know what to buy at the grocery store. Sundays are our "Big Haitian Meal" day, but last week I found a piece of meat at the grocery store that looked like it could be a pot roast. So I bought it for our Sunday meal and cooked it in my pressure cooker with potatoes, onions, and carrots.
I. LOVED. EVERY. SINGLE. BITE. As we were eating I kept asking my husband what he thought and declaring it was "so, so good."
To be honest, it really wasn't an amazing pot roast. In fact it was just mediocre. It could have used some more seasoning or spices of some kind, but it did taste good and filled our stomachs. I guess I thought it was so great because it was a little taste of home that I didn't even know I was missing.
Rewind a couple of weeks to a cold and rainy night. Since I've been pregnant I have been HOT. Even at night when it cools down I typically want to turn the fan on to help cool off before I try to sleep. But a few weeks ago a storm rolled in and the temperature really dropped. It got down to less than 70* (I know that's not really cool for most of you, but around here it's quite unusual for this time of year). I was actually cold enough to put on long pants and a long sleeve shirt and even socks! I felt crazy wearing so many clothes in August in Haiti, but it was so refreshing to curl up with my husband on the couch and pretend it was fall!
Then I found a recipe online for pumpkin spice lattes. You better believe we will be drinking pumpkin spice lattes the next time I get my hands on a joumou (pumpkin)! I just used the last of the joumou I had baked, pureed, and frozen to make pumpkin bread; otherwise we would have had some already.
I thought there was one other thing I realized I missed lately, but I can't think of it right now. I'm making white chili today, so I can pretend it's fall again.
Monday, September 3, 2012
Please pray for this precious little one fighting for his life, Marie Carme, and the entire family.
UPDATE 9/4: The baby is at the Medishare hospital. He looks just like his sister Rebecca and weighs 4 lbs. Mom is supposed to stay home and take care of herself, but should send milk every day. The American nurse that Willem talked to said the baby looked great and she was hopeful he would make it. Please keep praying!!
Last week I wasn't able to post because of tropical storm Isaac--he knocked out the internet for few days. Sorry about that. Here's what you can pray about this week.
- Praise the Lord for making it through T.S. Isaac with only minimal damage (trees down) in our area of Haiti. Life was back to normal in Thomassin by 3pm on Saturday.
- Baby Charles should be here by the end of the month! We've taken a tour of the maternity hospital and are now seeing the doctor every 7-10 days. We are praying for baby to come when he's good and ready--and for a natural, uncomplicated birth.
- School will start in Gramothe on September 10th. The Ministry of Education doesn't really want schools to start before Oct. 1st because then schools can charge an extra month of tuition. Since our kids don't pay tuition, we should be fine, but we appreciate prayers that no waves will be made by opening in September.
- The national exam results are back for all of our students. It was not a good year for our students. We're in the process of identifying areas of weakness and setting goals for our staff and students. Pray for God's wisdom in this process.
- The first medical team arrives Sept. 10th. Pray that we'll have a great start to this new clinic season, and praise him for those who are sacrificing a week with their families to serve in the Gramothe Clinic!
- Arold is now teaching a Sunday school class for the musicians in the church. Praise God for this new class, and pray that the Lord would work in and through my husband as he leads this group.
Friday, August 31, 2012
I don't know if you know this about me, but I like to read. A lot. I will read just about anything I can get my hands on. But I really like fiction. Stories are powerful... and easier for me to process than most non-fiction. Lately I've been reading lots of the free books I downloaded from Amazon's Kindle store. There have been some really great books among those free ones! And I also have some pregnancy/childbirth and parenting books I've been working on. (Not quite the same as a good historical romance though.) Anyway, my point is I like stories. I don't generally choose non-fiction unless someone recommends it to me or I start having dreams about
my new friends, er, the characters in my books.
Today I was thinking about some books I'd like to read this fall, and I realized that there are multiple non-fiction books on my list. More than I've probably ever had on my list at any other point in time. I haven't read them yet, but I've heard really great things about them. So, I'll share my list with you and if you've read them or want to, we can have a nice chat about them. We can even start a little book club if you are up for it!
Books I want to read
In no particular order
Thursday, August 30, 2012
We're still alive. We promise.
Friday night Tropical Storm Isaac blew over Haiti. It was... intense. Friday afternoon it rained and rained, but the wind didn't pick up until the evening.
We were safe and dry (except for some water that sneaked through a window and got the tile floor wet), but we could hear a tin rough flapping in the wind during the night. We're sure that family didn't make it through the night dry.
Saturday brought more rain and some wind, but the not the crazy variety of the night before. By 3pm he sun was trying to peek through the clouds and the rain had stopped. We ventured out of our house to get a 1000 piece puzzle from the guest house. (The internet was out and we needed something to keep us busy.) It rained again that night, but sans wind. Our neighborhood had branches and trees down, but no serious damage.
We have seen some of the pictures from other areas of Haiti--mostly the tent camps that are on much lower ground. Our hearts break for them.
I came across this blog this morning that talks about Weathering Isaac in other neighborhoods in Haiti.
Keep praying for this island and the people who call it home.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
My current favorite is Black bean, Corn, and Zucchini Enchiladas. You may have heard me talk about them before. This is probably the best meal I've made all summer. I really want to eat them today, but it's a lot of work for this pregnant momma. First I have to make the flour tortillas. Then I have to pressure cook the beans, chop the veggies, and make the BEST enchilada sauce ever. Then I have to sautee the veggies and put everything together in the pan.
However, looking at the delicious pictures on those links has just convinced me to get to the kitchen and get started! Maybe I'll share another recipe later. For now I'll be working on tortillas and enchilada sauce.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Would you pray with us for these requests this week?
- Praise God that Dayley's infected ankle wound is finally healing! He still has an open wound, but it is draining on it's own and doesn't look disgusting anymore... just raw. And there is quite a bit of new skin growing/forming in the area. He tells me it still hurts, but he plays and comes to church, and I think the wound will be completely closed before school starts. Praise God and keep praying for his healing.
- We have computer class with the young people in Gramothe every Mon. through Fri. I am excited to get to know this new group of kids, but building relationships takes time and investment. Pray for me to remain patient with them (I always have this problem at the beginning of the school year. I just want to pick up where I left off, but I have new students that are still trying to figure this lady out!)
- Pray that God would give us favor as we apply for my permis de sejour. We are still waiting on one paper and then will file the application as soon as we have it.
- Praise God for the beautiful weather we've had this month! We've gotten some much needed rain, but mostly at night when it doesn't effect traveling to and from Gramothe. And it hasn't been too hot for this pregnant lady.
- One of our older neighbors died last week. Pray that the peace of God comforts his family as they prepare for the funeral (it should be on Saturday).
- Lots of kids and parents are showing up for registration. Pray that God would prepare the hearts and minds of the students and teachers as they get ready for the start of school on Sept. 10th.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Friday, August 17, 2012
I caught myself praying a very Haitian prayer the other day. (Not a bad thing.) I think I was praying before our meal, but it really doesn't matter if it was mealtime or bedtime or just anytime. While I was praying I heard myself say, "thank you for the life you've given us." It's an English variation of the Creole prayer merci pou lavi ou bay, which translated simply says thank you for the life you give.
I often hear Haitians say this phrase while praying. It's used during church prayers, mealtime prayers, and prayers said at school and other events. I used to think of it as a nice general prayer. You know a good ole, Thanks God for my life. But ever since I heard myself pray that way I've been thinking about what it means.
I used to have a different life. A very different life. I taught 8th grade reading at a school I loved. I was part of a teaching team that worked together and supported each other. My students and I spoke the same language. I was deeply invested in my students and knew many details about their families and home lives. I also was very involved in the youth group at my church. I walked along side those teens as they figured out what it meant to follow Christ--and thoroughly enjoyed being with them. My family and friends were close by and I connected with them frequently. I was gainfully employed (something I really miss). In my old life if I wanted something, I bought it. I enjoyed the stability and predictability of my life, as well as constant electricity and warm running water. Shopping, restaurants, gas stations, nearly every store or business I needed were mere minutes away. I was independent and self-sufficient. My life was full and more importantly fulfilling. It was a good life.
Just two years later, my life is a bit different. I'm a foreigner in a strange land. I teach in a school where I can't communicate with most of the staff or students. I can't be deeply invested in my students' lives because we don't understand each other. I attend church, but I'm not a vital (or even non-vital) part of ministry there. I talk to my family and friends via Skype now--when it's working. I live in a developing nation where important paperwork is completed by hand. Corruption plagues the government. Riots are commonplace (though we haven't actually had any for quite some time). I am now dependent on the generosity of others to be paid each month. If we need to buy something, we have to budget for it. I get charged more at the farmer's market because of my white skin; beggars are especially persistent with me for the same reason. Electricity is not guaranteed. I need help ordering at restaurants and sometimes checking out at the grocery store. I can't remember the last time I went anywhere on my own. The convenience of life is gone. But this life, this inconvenient and sometimes frustrating life, is still good... and fulfilling.
I'm thankful for this life God has given me. I have an amazing husband (cheesy, but true) who loves me and takes care of me. Arold and I are part of a ministry that is literally changing lives. Even with my limited Creole, God uses me to impact the lives of young Haitians. I am blessed with fellowship and encouragement by the myriad of people who come through the guest house to serve with MTM. Learning to budget has been a good skill to add to my toolbelt, and learning to live without the things I think I "need" has been a good exercise in what Haitians call degaje, making do with what you have. It also causes me to come face to face with my own selfishness and sense of entitlement. (while not fun, it's good for me, right?)
I never could have imagined living this life, but it's the one God has give me and I truly am thankful for it.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Blue pens have special power here in Haiti. For some reason blue is the OFFICIAL color for documents and exams. Kids can only use blue pen
on their exams and are supposed to use it for all homework too. Sometimes they won't even take notes or do classwork in another color or with a pencil. If they don't
have a blue pen in class that day, it's like the world has ended and they can do nothing. Nothing. It's pretty ridiculous.
Part of Haitian culture is that they are pretty formal when it comes to "official" things. Like uniforms are a big deal. Once in my senior English class last spring I had each student stand and read something. One boy got up there with his shirt untucked. I didn't notice, but the rest of the class stopped him and made him tuck it in before he could continue. That's how serious they are! So if they are supposed to use a blue pen for something, then they refuse to use anything else.
With that said, here's a picture of our blue pen bin from the supply closet. We'd like to give all the students a blue pen with their back to school packet of supplies. If we don't have blue pens, we'll give them whatever color we have. But we don't even have a lot of other colors right now.
If you are coming to Haiti this year, at any point, would you consider bringing a few packages of blue pens with you? If you aren't coming, but would still like to help our students, you can mail donations to the MTM office in Terre Haute, IN, at any time and someone will carry them into the country for us.
Mountain Top Ministries
c/o school supplies
PO Box 7053
Terre Haute, IN 47802
Also, see my post about other school supplies.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Last week we did the VBS for the younger kids in Gramothe from 9-11ish. After we finished with them, we would go upstairs to the computer lab for an hour and half and have class with the teenagers. Arold was in charge of the class, and did a great job explaining new concepts to the kids. Some days I think his lessons were derived from their questions, and other days he had a plan going into the class. They worked on basic formatting in text documents for most of the time (bold, italics, columns, colored text, font size, etc), but they also had a long lesson on computer components and how they work (ie how they store information and what you can do with them).
Monday, August 13, 2012
Here's what we're praying about this week:
- Praise God for a wonderful week of VBS with the children in Gramothe. We averaged around 15 kids per day, with the majority being boys. It was a great time of learning from God's word and building stronger relationships with the kids.
- Dayley still has an open wound on his ankle. We went to visit late last week after VBS to check on him. It's gross for sure, but if Micka can keep it clean it should heal just fine. Please pray for Dayley as his ankle heals--he does have pain and infection is still a possibility. Pray also that God would give Micka wisdom as she cares for Dayley and his wound.
- We have nearly all the documents necessary for my permis de sejour. I hope that we'll be able to get the last two and apply by the end of the week. Pray for God's favor!
- School registration begins in Gramothe this week. Pray for the students, teachers, and principals as they all prepare to come back to school in September.
- Arold and I will be working with the Gramothe teens in the computer lab almost daily before school begins. Pray that we communicate new skills effectively, but even more so that the light of Christ shines through us as we spend time with these young people.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Here's a video from our week of VBS in Gramothe. This is a classic Sunday school song in Haiti, just like it is in the States. But most of the kids didn't know the song, so Arold taught it to them on the first day. It ended up being their favorite song to sing. The video is from the first day, so it was pretty tame and in control. They got a little louder and rowdier with each day. I loved learning this song in Creole and singing with them. It brought back some great Sunday school memories for me!
And, here are the words in Creole if you want to sing along. The video doesn't quite start at the beginning of the song--sorry about that!
Friday, August 10, 2012
This week Arold and I went to Gramothe each morning for a few hours to have a VBS type "camp" with the kids. It was a lot of fun for me to interact with some of the younger kids. And I learned some classic Sunday school songs in Creole!
Our theme for the week was standing strong (kanpe djanm in Creole). Arold taught the kids the theme and verse for the day and then told a Bible story that went with the theme. We found a Group Publishing VBS outline on the internet and modified it to work for us. It's actually a 2013 kit, so if you are interested it's called "Kingdom Rock". Here are the lessons for each day:
- God's love helps us stand strong.
- Family and friends help us stand strong.
- Prayer helps us stand strong.
- Trusting God helps us stand strong.
- God's word helps us stand strong.
In addition to the Bible lessons, we also had a time of singing and then a craft for each day. I was in charge of the craft. Mostly we used up some of the supplies that have been hanging out in the supply closet for a while. One day we used some foam stickers, another day they just drew their own pictures, and so on. A team of ladies from Georgia were here a couple of weeks ago and left some craft supplies, so we used a few of the things they left. My favorite was a coffee filter butterfly, but we didn't have the camera that day.
Monday, August 6, 2012
Here's what we're praying about this week.
- Arold and I are hosting a "camp" for kids ages 5-12ish in Gramothe this week. It will basically be a week of VBS. We're hoping to meet from 9-12 each morning and will have songs, crafts, games, a Bible story and verse for each day, and possible some literacy/math facts time worked in as well. Pray that God would be glorified through all our activities this week.
- Keep praying for Dayley and the infection on his ankle. When Arold asked Micka about it she said he was the same. I don't know if he's started antibiotics or not, so I will ask Micka when we are in Gramothe for the camp.
- Please continue to pray us as we pursue a permis de sejour for me and a visa for Arold. We were productive gathering documents last week and have sent a couple of them to be translated.
- We're praising God for his faithfulness to us. We are continually blessed by the donation of the Tracker, and we are excited to have some new people partner with us financially. We're thankful for our safe and comfortable apartment, the fact that we have everything we need for the baby, and this life God has given us.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
After a pretty lousy night of sleep for me (I just couldn't get comfortable and had to pee multiple times), we woke up to the sounds of rain. Arold's dad had mentioned a siklon (pronounced seek-lone, any guess on what it means?) yesterday, but we forgot to check the weather before going to bed. When I got out of bed this morning I noticed it was very dark and overcast, so I turned the computer on to see if we were going to get hit by a siklon. Sure enough there is a tropical storm in our area of the Caribbean. No worries though; both the Weather Channel and National Hurricane Center predict it will miss us and head toward Mexico.
Since my body was aching from a rough night of sleep and it was quite wet outside, I decided to skip out on church to stay home and rest. My husband texted me from Gramothe and said there were only 32 people at church today. Turns out I'm not the only one who stayed home this morning, so I no longer feel guilty about not going to church in the rain.
My handy-dandy thermometer (possibly one of my favorite purchases from my time in the States) said it was 71* this morning while it was raining and super foggy. That is pretty chilly for July! Once the fog lifted, though, the temperature started going up. Now, at 12:30 pm, it's not foggy anymore and the thermometer says it's a whopping 74*. The rain has stopped for now, but he sun still isn't shining.
Friday, August 3, 2012
|the first and last day of July|
how far along: 33 weeks or a little more than 7 months
symptoms: heartburn that is described as "fire acid", headaches, back aches, trouble rolling over in bed, stretchmarks (increasing quite rapidly now), a linea nigra (line on my stomach that will fade after birth), and some other things you really don't want to know about
|our new dresser!|
weight gain: As of my last appointment I had gained a total of 18 pounds, so I'm just back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I'm hoping that I only gain the recommended pound a week from here on out.
nesting: We were showered with love, affection, and gifts twice while I was in the States. Since I've been back in Haiti, I have been busy getting everything sorted and out of the way for now. The crib is up. We had a dresser made last week that will double as storage and a changing station. The clothes and diapers are washed. Now we just need to pack a bag for the hospital and put the carseat in the car. Oh, and take all the junk out of the crib so our baby can sleep there!
|crib with lots of stuff|
birth: I'm starting to get a little anxious about the birthing process. I've been reading books, watching videos online, and just trying to learn all I can to be prepared. We are having the baby at the maternity hospital in Petion-Ville. It's about 20 minutes from our house.
Currently we are praying for the following regarding birth and would love it if you prayed with us:
- that baby will move into the head down position, he's currently laying sideways and if he doesn't move, it's an automatic c-section
- that we will be able to have a natural birth with no interventions (I don't want pitocin, an episiotomy, forceps or the vacuum)
- that labor and delivery will be as fast and painless as possible (I can hope, right?)