Thursday, November 7, 2013

Finding joy


That's my one word theme for this year. I think God knew I would need a daily reminder to find my joy in him.

Most days I look at my life and see all the things it is not. I'm working instead of staying home with Isaac. Arold and I are working secular jobs instead of doing the full time ministry our hearts long to do. I'm cranky and short with people at work instead of bearing the fruits of the Spirit (which are love, joy, peace, patience,kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). My life doesn't look like I think it should, and I'm having trouble coming to terms with that.

Instead of focusing on what is "wrong" with my life, I'm counting my blessings today and finding joy in those things.

  1. Isaac's hugs and kisses
  2. Isaac reaching up for Daddy as soon as he saw him this morning
  3. having one of my former Mishawaka students in class again this year
  4. Facebook messages from my Haitian students
  5. the pale sunrise on the way to work this morning
  6. my office mate at work being awesome
  7. Luci's "checking up on you" text

Thursday, October 24, 2013

(untitled post)

I really would like to make writing regularly on this here blog a reality. But I kind of think that's not going to happen in the foreseeable future. Trying to balance work, family, and the rest of life has been more difficult than I ever imagined.

I don't hate my job, just the fact that it sucks up so much of my time. In fact, there are quite a few enjoyable aspects to my job. But it's not what I want to be doing.It's just that, truth be told, I'd really rather be doing other things. Things that involve the western third of an island in the Caribbean, education, sustainable jobs, and the like.

In the moments when I'm alone, I like to think about my future life. I imagine the house we'll build in Haiti and the ministry we hope to do. I imagine what our family might look like a few years down the road and where our kids will go to school. I imagine cooking and crochet classes. I imagine myself fluent in Creole and friends with my neighbors.

Unfortunately that's not a reality right now. Until we are completely debt free, I will be doing this balancing act. Hopefully I get better at it sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

So many things

Ay. Ay. Ay.

It's been a while, huh? My life is so full of reading logs and essays to grade that I barely have time to sit down. Forget about time for reflection and writing. People keep asking how we're adjusting to life in the States, and I don't know what to tell them. I haven't really had time to think about how we're actually doing. We've just been going, going, going. Thankfully that feeling of just barely keeping my head above water is slowly fading. Or maybe I'm just getting used to all the hustle and bustle of life in the U.S.


In other news, Isaac turns one year old today. But not until 9:25 pm. I still have a baby for a few more hours. It seems unreal to think about this day last year. I was certain I would be pregnant for another week. Then, BAM, my water broke. Three hours later we were holding our precious little boy. I remember the euphoria of those first few hours with Isaac. We couldn't take our eyes off of him.

Now, we can't take our eyes off of him either, but that's because he'll get into the toilet if we don't watch him like a hawk. Ha! He keeps us on our toes for sure.

A few weeks ago I drove through a part of town I haven't been in for a looonnnggg time. Honestly, I wanted to close my eyes to avoid seeing the run down, rotting apartment buildings and the barred windows of the cash advance business on the corner. I thought about locking my doors (you know, because some thugs might have wanted to jump in my car while I was at a red light), and I also considered trying to find an alternate route that would allow me to avoid the adversity and despair of the inner city. 

How easily I forget that my subdivision, I-don't-have-to-fight-for-anything  life is not the reality that so many people live in. Four months ago I saw the faces of poverty every day, and embraced them. A few months of living surrounded by privilege and suddenly I'd rather ignore the injustice in my own backyard.

I disgust myself.

It's been difficult for me to transition from "official" missionary work--where every activity and day has purpose--to just another average Joe. I'm thankful for a job where I can impact the lives of others, but right now it just feels like a job. Making a difference in my co-workers' and students' lives is secondary to teaching the curriculum and keeping up with paperwork. When I really think about it, I know I haven't really left the "mission field." But most days I don't really feel like I am being used by God.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

keeping them close

I'm preparing to start school here in the States, but I really miss my students in Haiti. 

 I'm planning to print these pictures, and a few others, to hang in my desk area at school. 

So, even if I don't have any Haitian students sitting in my classroom, at least I can see some beautiful Haitian faces while I'm working in my janitor's closet turned office.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Cutie Patootie

 Isaac loves music, especially when he helps Daddy play the keyboard.

Isn't he adorable?

Our first boat ride. Arold's not showing off his phone, he was making a video.

Isaac and his friend R. She is four months older than him, but he's a good 3 pounds heavier and at least an inch taller. Crazy kids.

Isaac helped himself to a snack while Mom was doing something else.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

starting to sink in

We left Haiti six weeks ago. I know in my head that we moved here, but until today it mostly felt like we were on vacation. Visiting my family, eating ridiculous amounts of junk food, and showing off my hubby and baby, you know? (Well, it probably hasn't felt like vacation to my husband who has been working the last two weeks. Praise the Lord for a job!!)

Today I went to meet the administrators and the English department chairman at the high school where I'll be teaching (Goshen, for anyone local). I'm getting excited about meeting my new students and having a mission field again. I found out which classes I'll be teaching, saw my office area, and picked up my keys. It's kind of fun to start something new.

But today was also a reminder that my ministry in Gramothe is complete. Magalie, Faubert, Ricardo, Tania, Ogimene, Ameline, Rony, and all the rest of them aren't my students anymore. They are forever in my heart, but they aren't my students.


Change is hard. I know I'll have new students to get to know and love, but I really miss my MTM students today.

Monday, July 8, 2013

getting settled

Well, we've been in the States about a month now. There's not much to report other than we both have jobs and we're trying to get settled.

The first few weeks felt like vacation. Except for the parts where we were job hunting for Arold. That is definitely not the stuff of a vacation. Praise the Lord he was finally hired by a company in Goshen. Someone from church got him the job and we are incredibly thankful for God's provision!

There are many wonderful things about the United States. Hot water--all the time. Access to a full sized washer and dryer. Fast food. Smooth roads. Air conditioning (though someone doesn't appreciate it as much as the other).

But there have also been many adjustments for us. We miss Arold's family, our students, our friends. My husband hasn't said so, but I think it's safe to say we both miss the food. We miss our life in Haiti, but we are getting settled here. Arold has started working. Isaac is doing a trial run at daycare while I help them out for the next two weeks. We are trying to get plugged in at church (we're attending Brenneman Memorial Missionary in Goshen for anyone wondering).

Sometimes I think it would be nice to just cocoon ourselves inside my parents' home and stay hidden away as long as possible. But I know we need to set down roots and make a life for our family here.

Overall, I'd say we're doing well. Both my guys have adjusted much better than I thought they would. I just need to remember to give myself grace while we make this transition.

Keep praying for us, will ya?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

National Exam Time

It's the season of National Exams in Haiti. The sixth grade students finished their exams last week, so 9th grade students are "writing" their exams this week.

If you think of them, pray for these guys and their classmates this week. Will ya?

Mouse and Porcupine 

Adele & Edeline

Thursday, June 20, 2013

si bondye vle

**I wrote this post several weeks before we left Haiti, so it's probably a month old at this point. So if you get the impression I'm currently in Haiti as you read it, that's why. We are still in the US and will be for a while.

Si Bondye vle is a phrase that is heard often in Haiti. It means If God wills, but the literal translation is if God wants. I remember talking to my small group about using the phrase "If the Lord wills it" at one point several years ago. We agreed that we should recognize that our plans can be changed by God at any moment, but we also felt that using the phrase Lord willing all the time seemed a bit, um, well, over the top.

Living in Haiti has given me a different perspective though. It seems that what we plan rarely happens. Unexpected events occur so frequently that the phrase si bondye vle isn't over the top at all. It's reality.

When our nanny/housekeeper leaves for the day and I say "see you tomorrow" she responds with a cheerful "si bondye vle." She knows that any number of events could happen to prevent her from coming.

When my students ask me when we will visit Haiti or when we return to live here again, I can give them my hopeful timeline but I have to include an emphatic si bondy vle. Because, really that is the only way we'll be back in Haiti within a few years.

In the U.S. it's easy to live as if I have control over my life, but living in Haiti requires me to recognize that I am not in control.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

alive, but laying low

Hi friends. It's been a while, huh?

Just wanted to let you know that we made it to Indiana safely. We are adjusting and getting settled at my parents' house. I'm having fun introducing American life to Arold. For example, we stopped at McDonald's yesterday and he ate his first Big Mac. As we left he said, "Now I know where it is and I can come by myself." I guess he has plans to eat more Big Macs.

I find myself in this strange place of wanting to show my husband everything on the list of stuff he needs to see/experience and knowing that I don't need to overwhelm him because we have plenty of time for him to experience American life.

Every day is a new adventure, and at the same time it feels like we are in a holding pattern. I have been hired by Goshen Community Schools (thank you Lord!), but I don't start until August. Arold is still applying to jobs, so any routine we have right now is only temporary. And then there's this funny feeling of our days having no purpose. We wake, we eat, we play with Isaac, we sleep, and then we start all over again. It's a strange thing to go from very full and purposeful days to this time of waiting.

Please keep praying for us as we transition to life in the U.S. So far we seem to be doing pretty well, but it's a process and it will take time. Pray that Arold will be hired for a job that he will enjoy. And pray that God will give some purpose to our days.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Our Last Sunday in Gramothe

Today was our last Sunday in Gramothe. It has rained a lot lately and the road has been getting worse and worse. There are some really big holes in the road on the way down to the riverbed, and this morning they threatened to swallow us up. There's a team of 18 people here right now, but we didn't take the truck to church. The road is just too bad. So some people walked (bless their hearts) and the rest of us rode the ATVs. I have taken Isaac on the ATVs before--always in his moby wrap--but today was scary. That road is crazy! It was a relief to get to the riverbed because there were no giant holes to swallow us up. If it wasn't our last time at church in Gramothe, I would have kept Isaac at home!

Church was really great--except for my cranky son. I listened to the sermon from the cafeteria because he was so restless/cranky/crying. I tried to keep him in the sanctuary the other parts of church, but we left a lot because he was making so much noise. Silly boy. The great parts of church were the singing time, the English sermon on following Jesus, and the part where Willem called our family up on stage. We actually were up there twice. Before the sermon Willem called us up and talked a lot about Arold and then let him say something to the church. Isaac was going crazy, so we left the stage after that. But after the sermon Willem called me back up to say something (through tears of course) to the church. It was good to say goodbye. Then the church prayed for us. Prayer send offs are one of my favorite parts of being part of a congregation. I cried the whole time, and I saw my husband wipe away tears too.

The best/hardest part of church was when everyone was dismissed and so many people made their way to Arold and me. It was like a wedding receiving line. Except I was by the door and Arold was on stage. So it was two receiving lines of one person. Rosias and Monley were some of the first people to come and hug me. They were both crying, so of course I burst into tears again. (And I had just gotten myself under control from the prayer time!) Then other students and adults in the church came to find me and bless me and Isaac before we left. It was really sweet to be told over and over again that I am loved and they will miss me. Of course I got to tell them that I love them too and God bless them. Such a perfect way to end my time in Gramothe.

Tonight Arold's family is coming over after church. It's nice to spend time with them before we go. We will miss them so much more than words can say.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Goodbyes are hard for me.

Beth left Haiti this morning. I called to say goodbye and safe travels last night and ended up bawling. Not really what I had planned.

Tomorrow are my last classes with my students in Gramothe. I'm looking forward to the time with them, but not the goodbyes.

The elementary school had their last chapel yesterday. At the end the principal surprised Arold by saying some really nice things about him. They've worked together for 7 years and have formed a great friendship. Patrick got a little choked up at the end and just walked out. The kids started crying and yelling "amwey!" which is like saying woe is me. There was so much commotion some parents came down from the village to see what was going on. Arold thought it was all over the top;  I think he'd just like to slip away and not tell them he's leaving. But I thought it was a great way (minus the commotion) to send him off.

Tomorrow is my last day of classes in Gramothe. I will miss my students more than words can say. I know there will be other students later this year, but my Haitian students hold a special place in my heart.

Last church service in Gramothe is Sunday, as long as the riverbed holds out and I feel comfortable taking Isaac up.

Then it's last minute packing and flying out on Tuesday morning.

I don't want to think about that, so it's back to packing and prioritizing.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Fun Saturday afternoon!

Yesterday we took a couple of my crochet students and Ashley (who's helping out at Rivers of Hope orphanage this month) to Apparent Project. We also made a few other surprise stops, Epi-d'or and Place Boyer park. It was an awesome day. Isaac did a great job riding in the car and shopping. He even got to eat a piece of my crepe at Epi-d'or and drink some water from the bottle and a straw (probably the highlight of his day). I thoroughly enjoyed this special day with some of my very favorite students. Another gift from God, for sure!

ready for a day in the hot city

Rosias and Monley adore Isaac, and the feelings are mutual.

my hubby and a view of the beautiful park

this nice guard/police man let us take a picture with him at the park.
The park we visited was Place Boyer in Petion-Ville. It was just re-opened last week after months and months of work. It was a tent city when I arrived in Sept 2010. The tents were gone by the end of 2011, but the park looked rather blah. Last summer when I was pregnant with Isaac, they put tin all around the park while they were working on it. Everytime we went shopping at the "Haitian Wal-mart" I asked Arold what he thought they were doing in there. (He loves it when I ask him to speculate so much that he's stopped responding to these questions at this point in our marriage. If you hear me talking to myself, it's his fault.) The park was finally reopened this month, and it is AWESOME! I know some people will criticize the government for spending money on a park when there are people still living in tents, but I think having a safe and beautiful place for people to just hang out does a lot for boosting the morale.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sunday Drive

Last Sunday wasn't Mother's Day in Haiti, but it was a great day anyway. We went on a drive in the late afternoon. We went to the look out point, Boutillier, for some acra (pictured below). We were pleasantly surprised to find live music and lots of canvas gazebos and umbrellas set up to protect diners from the setting sun. It was really nice to sit and enjoy the beautiful view of Port au Prince, the wonderful weather, and the live music. Arold even recognized an actor from a Haitian movie among the other diners!

After the lookout point, we ended up turning into Thomassin 25 and driving on a newly paved road that leads up into Fermathe. Arold took me on this road once a few months ago, so I knew that we would come out around Fermathe 45 area. Once we got up on the mountain a little more we could see the look out point (all those towers toward the right on that mountain ridge below) where we had just been. I love living in the mountains! 

We ended up taking a turn to see where the paved road would take us. We started going back down the mountain and realized that we would end up in Petion-Ville if we kept going. I thought it was a great day for an adventure, so we kept going. At a certain point the paved road just stopped. We were going to turn around, but another car went on the unpaved part so we followed. We ended up driving down through Montagne Noir and into Petion-Ville. When we got to Place St. Pierre there were tons and tons of people in the park that used to be a tent city. It was so nice to see people using the park after month and months of it being closed due to renovations.  Below you can see the difference in the road. The unpaved part was really bumpy.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Special Gift

It's always been difficult for me to process changes in life--especially when it means saying goodbye to people I love. When I taught 8th grade reading, I was always an emotional basket case at the end of the  school year. Since I moved to Haiti I haven't had that problem because, for the most part, I had the same students the following year. It's been awesome to teach the same students for three years. I've seen my students grow in academics, but also in maturity. It has been a true blessing from the Lord to serve the same students year after year.

Tania, Ogimene, & Ameline

Before I turn into a teary eyed mess, let me say what I planned to write. Today I received a special gift from the Lord. As I was leaving Gramothe to walk home, three of "my girls" were standing at the top of the road, preparing to walk down the mountain. When they saw me, they waited and we walked together--something we haven't done since I stopped teaching computers this year. When I first arrived in Haiti, these girls were chosen to be in my after school computer class. I'm not sure who wrote their name on the paper, but I'm confident the Lord put them on that class roster. Those first few months were... interesting. The boys were falling all over themselves to talk to me. They even tried to get my phone number, so they could call me and listen to me speak. You know, to learn English pronunciation. (ha! that line still makes me laugh.) But the girls never spoke to me. They hung back and made the boys talk for them. I don't think I heard them speak until at least November, and I'm sure they weren't talking to me. Finally after Christmas of that first year, I got them to talk to me. But they were still really shy. As my Creole got better and their English improved, we were able to communicate better. Last year we often communicated in a mixture of Creole and English. They would ask me questions in Creole and I would respond in English. When I started teaching again in January, I could tell that Tana especially had improved. Today was all the proof I needed. We talked all the way down the mountain to the guest house--a good 30 minutes--all in English. I think we only used Creole to clarify once, maybe twice, the entire time. How is that for measurable growth in English?!

These girls have a special place in my heart. Evidence here. Our walk down the mountain today was a sweet blessing from God. Not only did we get to catch up and practice English, we also talked about our futures--my family going to the States and the three of them finishing high school--and God's plan for our lives. I was able to encourage them in their pursuit of higher education. (They'd all like to become doctors, which isn't realistic, so I encouraged them to consider nursing--especially in the realm of childbirth.) Also, I had the opportunity to share part of my faith journey and encourage them in their walks with Christ. It was a very sweet time, and I'm thankful to God for this special gift.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mica from Boucan

Mica is from Boucan, which is further up the mountain from Gramothe. I think she did a great job writing about where she lives. I especially liked the last couple of line. Click the picture to see it in full screen view.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Change is hard

I wanted to keep things lighthearted on my blog for our last few weeks with MTM, sharing pictures and fun stories from students, but my heart is heavy today and I just can't do it. Change has never been easy for me. As an adult it's a little easier because I've seen how God has walked with me through big changes in the past, but I still don't like it.

Yesterday was the 4 week mark. We have four short weeks to say goodbye to the people we love and pack up our lives here. I don't know which of those things I like less--the packing or saying goodbye. We want to finish well, but I think both of us would like to ignore the suitcases that taunt us from their place in the corner and pretend our lives are not about to turn upside down.

Please pray for us over the next few weeks. Pray that we'll say proper goodbyes and find closure as we prepare to leave our home and Arold's family. Pray that Arold and I will draw closer during this time, that God would strengthen our marriage as we face this challenging and stressful transition. We are confident God is moving us to the States, but that does not exempt us from the culture shock that is sure to rock our little family. Pray also that God would provide jobs for both of us.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Time flies when you're having fun!

My baby is growing up. These pictures were taken when he turned 7 months old, but he's now at the 7.5 month mark and will be 8 months soon. Time needs to slow down!

Isaac has hit all of his milestones right on track. He has 4 teeth--as of Sunday. He is trying really hard to crawl. He can pull himself into a standing position, which is scary for mom and dad. His favorite food is still bananas, and the only thing he really doesn't like so far is green beans. He can drink out of his sippy cup unassisted. 

 He continues to be very social and doesn't show any signs of stranger anxiety. At church yesterday he wanted to go to nearly everyone who smiled at him--which is a lot of people! He absolutely adores his nanny, and his face lights up when he sees her. He likes to babble and tell us stories, and he even sings when we turn on music. 

He does a good job of playing on his own for short intervals, which allows us to get some housework done. His favorite toy is the laptop. He especially likes when Grandma and Grandpa are on Skype because he gets to touch the keyboard sometimes! Other favorite toys include an apple, a giraffe rattle Miss Amanda brought to him, and anything he's not supposed to touch (like cords). 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Student Work

My students in grades 9, 12, and 13 will take national exams this summer. Their scores will determine whether they get promoted to the next grade/graduate or whether they repeat their current grade level. In preparation for these national exams, I use test questions from prior years during class. Recently I had my grade 9 students work on writing production. It was painful to say the least. In the end they produced some decent work. Today's example is from Kettly, a young lady who is progressing quite quickly in English. Click the picture to make it larger... and comment if you need any help deciphering what she wrote.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

MTM's senior class of 2013

I'm currently working on the senior class yearbook. They gave me their individual profiles and about 50 pictures they want in their book. They also have a few other pages planned, but I need to finish the others first. Here are a few snapshots of our senior class this year. They are an amazing group of young people. 

There are 11 students in our Philo Class (seniors) this year.

The gentlemen. Love this pic of them!

Three of the ladies. (I don't know why there isn't a picture of all 5 girls.) 

Monday, April 29, 2013


Have you heard of Apparent Project? I hope I've talked about them before because they are an amazing organization working here in Haiti. They provide jobs to a couple hundred people, many who started out living in tents but are now able to afford better housing and to send their kids to school. So many good things happening at Apparent Project!! Please check out their website and consider making a purchase. You won't regret it!

Anyway, last year at some point my coworker Johane had some people from Apparent Project come and train a few "kids" in Gramothe to make paper beads. After some trial and error, there are three young people from Gramothe that have been successful in selling their paper bead jewelry. Our medical director brought some Victoria's Secret bags for them to make necklace/bracelet sets and they were pretty awesome looking. I've been wanting my own necklace, but wanted to put it together myself. So I asked the kids to make me 200 beads. (I needed choices, right?) I thought it might take them a while to finish the beads, but the kids were finished in less than a week!

I am now the happy owner of three different types of beads. My favorites are the small orange-ish beads that Magalie made. So versitile. I have too much to do here before we leave to start playing with these beads, but I have projects in mind for all of them! In fact I wish I had beads in a few other colors, so I may be purchasing more beads in the next couple of weeks.

If you're interested in purchasing some beads from these students, shoot me an e-mail or message on Facebook for more details.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Savoring these moments

Just a typical day at school. Kids playing. Teachers watching. Sun shining. 

I'm trying to savor these ordinary moments, to remember whenever I start to miss Haiti and our life here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Drive

These are pictures from a drive we took a couple of Sundays ago (before the little gas crisis). We went to eat in Kenscoff and then took an exploratory drive down a side road on our way home. It was fun to see a new area, and of course I loved the view of the mountains.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Students at Work

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wish they'd told me...

Apparently there's a prize to the teacher who can leave the most notes on the chalkboard at the end of class. My Senior students took 25 minutes to copy these notes a couple of weeks ago--and they weren't messing around.

I think I need to step up my game if I want to be in the running for the Most Notes prize!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Trying to Remember

We're in the midst of some very frustrating "teething" days. My normally happy baby is quite fussy and can't sleep for very long without waking up to fuss some more. These pictures help me remember that good days will come again. Hopefully sooner rather than later!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Official Bittersweet Announcement

I'd like to skip this post all together in order to ignore reality, but I know I can't do that. *sigh* Here's goes.

We’re thankful for the ministry God has given us with Mountain Top Ministries. Arold has been at the school since 2007 and I've been here since 2010. We have invested in our students through English and computer classes, crochet lessons, summer VBS, and countless hours in the school yard building relationships. Nearly 20 of these young people have been baptized in the last two years. Arold has taught Sunday school classes, played on the worship team, and most recently started a gospel choir with the youth. We have both been privileged to play a part in providing life changing medical care to more than 7,000 patients through the clinic in the last two years alone. There are a lot of good things happening through the school, medical clinic, and church in Gramothe.

While we have been blessed to be a part of the ministry here, we recognize that our time with MTM has come to a close. After a lot of prayer and many sleepless nights, Arold and I have made the difficult decision to move our family to the U.S. for the next chapter of our lives. We are still passionate about empowering Haiti’s youth through education, and we hold a special place for Haitian kids in our hearts. We look forward to the day that God will move us back to Haiti. But for now, we’re preparing for an international move during the first week of June.

So, the bitter part is that we are leaving our students, our church, our first home, and Arold's family. It's definitely not going to be easy. The sweetness that helps us deal with all this bitter is that we'll be close to my family, have constant electricity, and be able to enjoy all of the conveniences that life in the US has to offer. 

Pray for us, will you?

P.S. Nothing is wrong. Yes, it is very fast timing, and we are as surprised as you are that we're moving to the States. We are confident this is where God is leading us for this phase of our lives, so as hard as it is to leave Haiti we need to be obedient to Him.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

10 reasons I love living in Haiti

10. the church is the social hub--There's something to be said for having a social life that revolves around the church, especially when the church is within walking distance from your house.

9. the slower pace of life--I don't have meetings to attend. I don't keep a day planner. I don't have places to go after work, so I don't have to think about making dinner between work and other stuff. It's nice not to rush around like a crazy person every day.

8. the mountains--I don't think gazing at mountains, near or far, will ever get old. I also love the fact that the temperature is a good 10* lower on the mountain than in the city. And I love/hate the exercise I get walking up and down the mountain to school. (I curse the mountain when I'm doing the walking and bless the mountain when my pants feel baggy.)

7. the beauty--have you seen the flowers here? Or the mountains? Or the waterfalls, beaches, and lakes? The landscape is gorgeous.

6. the chivalry--I don't think I've carried anything heavier than Isaac since I arrived in Haiti. The very clear gender roles mean that any nearby male will come to my aid if a task is "too difficult" for a woman. Some women might be offended, but I rather enjoy it!

5. the fresh produce--Have you ever had a banana or mango fresh from the tree? So much tastier than the stuff Americans buy in the grocery store. We buy most of our produce from the local farmers' market, and most of it is so fresh it's still covered in dirt from the field.

4. the cultural focus on relationships and people--I'm a task oriented person, so I still get sucked into the "gotta get this done" mindset, but I'm learning to enjoy people and the time I have with them--even if I don't accomplish all I set out to.

3. the weather--This is a no-brainer. I live on a tropical island and 60* is considered cold. I'll take the humidity and heat over winter any day.

2. the resiliency of the people--Life is hard here, but my friends are making it work. My students are rolling with the punches, making lemonade when life gives them lemons, and generally showing me what it means to keep on going when all you want to do is give up.

1. my students--I haven't shared as many stories about my students lately, but they are still as charming as ever. They always ask how Isaac is doing and often want to know why I don't bring him to class. My students are dedicated to their education and determined to rise above their current circumstances. They want to learn and put forth great efforts to get an education.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Joyeuses Pacques!

Wishing you many blessings as you celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ this weekend.

Happy Easter from the mountains of Haiti.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

6 months

Isaac was 6 months old on Sunday. It doesn't feel possible that our little guy is already at the half year mark! But it also feels like he has always been a part of our family. How is it possible to feel both of those at the same time?! We are so blessed by this little man.

Here are are some 6 month stats and pictures for you.

weight: 19 lbs 6 oz   90th percentile
height: 66.5 cm (26.3 inches) 50th percentile
head circumference: 44cm (17.3 inches) 50th percentile
teeth: two bottom teeth

eating: nurses every 3 hours during the day; has tried sweet potato, papaya, and applesauce all one time each; LOVES bananas; will start some cereal this week (I had no idea what to get, so the doctor helped me figure it out); drinks 3-5oz bottles while I'm at school

sleeping: 3-4 naps a day with most 45 minutes and one longer nap; sleeps 5-7 hours at night with one feeding around 2; often wakes up between 5 and 5:30 to eat and talk to us (it's a party of one, we just let him lay in bed with us until he's ready to sleep again); goes to bed between 6 and 7pm and is up for the day between 7 and 8am; must be swaddled or in the car to sleep--no falling asleep while snuggling

playing: loves to take his toys out of the toy basket, chews on everything he can get in his mouth, swats at hanging toys, loves reading books, talks and sings to us, and enjoys talking to Grandma and Grandpa (and friends) on Skype; he can play on his own for about 15 minutes with his toys on his play mat right after he wakes up before he needs a change of activity; also loves jumping in his Johnny Jump Up

milestones: Isaac can sit really well on his own, transfer toys from one hand to the other, use his finger and thumb to pick things up (pincer grasp), rake toys toward him, and put things in his mouth quite easily; he does NOT roll either direction, say any words, crawl, or answer to his name; also doesn't have stranger anxiety or separation anxiety at this point

In addition to all of this, Isaac has a very distinct personality that is emerging. He smiles often, laughs easily, and loves to snuggle. He enjoys music and sometimes sings along with us. He is quite talkative, even if no one responds to him (ie the 5am talk time). He enjoys being outside and likes to look out the window when we're in the car. He isn't afraid to let us know when he's cranky (more talking, but in a different tone). And he's determined to "help" with whatever we have in our hands be it a cell phone, food, or anything in between.

Isaac has brought so much joy to our lives, and I can't imagine life without him. We love our little boy more than words can say!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Clinic Tidbits

I seem to have a problem being consistent with this blog. I wish I could say I'll get better, but I'm pretty sure I won't. I guess you'll just have to deal with my inconsistency.

There's no school this week (yay spring break!), so I went up to the clinic with the current team. I helped my husband enter patient data into the computer. I love seeing the babies through the window and knowing where the patients come from. Today there were three village names that were new to me. I didn't bother asking my husband where they were because a) it annoys him and he was already getting a little testy with the people and b) I don't think he knows where they are anyway.

In addition to learning three more village names, I also got a kick out of some names. One lady's name was Irelande Israel. (Family name is Israel.) I've met people with one country name, but this was the first person with two country names. (As a side note, her first name is pronounced ear-lahnd.) 

About 30 minutes later a man stepped up to the window with the name C'est-Homme Stanley. Which basically translates as "Stan the Man." He wins the prize for best name of the day.

Then there was the little old lady who came up to the window. She was suffering some hearing loss, so she had to ask us to repeat the questions a couple of times. Often old people don't know how old they are. Birthdays are not a big deal here in Haiti (lots of people don't know their birth date) and many people have a hard time remembering their age. When we asked this lady her age, she didn't even hesitate. She said she was 103. WOW! She was a cute old lady. (While she was pretty old neither my husband nor I believed she was 103.)

The best part of going up to clinic today? I got to hold an 18 day old baby. So sweet. (And for the record, NO, it did not give me baby fever. I'm quite content with my 6 month old for now. Thankyouverymuch.)

Friday, March 15, 2013

you can't say it's not fascinating

You'd think after 2.5 years of seeing people carry things on their heads, I'd stop sneaking pictures of them. But the truth is it's just so fascinating that Haitians can balance so many different things on their heads. This lady had been to the market and was carrying her two bags home. Other people carrying bundles of vegetables to market. I see plastic tubs and baskets full of whatever the vendors are selling. And I even see giant bamboo stalks, planks of wood, and other random long objects. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

did you miss this face?

Our little man is almost 6 months old. I don't know how that's possible. He used to be so small and snuggly. Well, he's still snuggly. But he's not small. The porker is about 20lbs!

 Somebody has learned to sit up. And puke at the same time apparently.

First piano lesson was at the guest house on Sunday before church. He loved it!

That curved bar down around his feet is supposed to be in the air with the toys hanging off of it. He loves to pull on them and swat at them. I found the toys on the floor around him like this after he had been playing for a while. He was pretty proud of this feat.