I guess time has gotten the best of me, I look back on my last post and realize its been almost four months! I feel like a slacker, to those of you who have always been dedicated readers, I apologize!!!
A major update is needed….
I am still in Haiti, happy and healthy as ever. In December I made another change, leaving an unhealthy work environment, deciding if life was keeping me in Haiti or pulling me out. In the end the answer is always clear and Haiti is still home.
I am now teaching at Quisqueya Christian School, a venture that is completely new for me. I wish I was more diligent about posting and could say how excited I am for the challenges, new experiences and developments that lie ahead-but the reality is I have already lived through the last four months, I can only go back and recount it.
To the best of my ability I will try to retell the months that have passed, the lessons I have learned.
Although it has only been four months, I have a long path ahead of me on this new journey. I am excited and nervous in the same breath.
Last week I was subbing for a senior English class at one of the American schools in Haiti. The sub plan was to go over with the students Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”. I know I have read this poem, but (sorry Mrs. Brooks) I don’t remember analyzing it in high school!
“THE ROAD NOT TAKEN”
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both,
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Through as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
It seemed fitting as I have some big decisions coming up…
The students and I read through the poem together and discussed it stanza by stanza. We evaluated each of the roads; talked about if they thought one was better than the other, did one seem more interesting? Finally we talked about how the traveler made up his mind and how the poem relates to our own lives.
The last question on the sub sheet I was to ask the students was this:
“Why did he lie in stanza four?”
Well I can tell you I did not ask the students this question, because after reading through the poem a number of times, I could not figure out the answer. How did he lie??? I wasn’t really sure…”Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” He took the road less traveled; don’t we all take the road less traveled by at some point?
When the teacher returned (a teacher with a degree in English I just want to add), he discussed the poem with me and helped me understand it a bit more. I had a whole new understanding.
“Then took the other, as just as fair,”
“Thought as for that the passing there had worn them really about the same,”
“And both that morning equally lay”
After discussing and re reading, I realized the above three statements lead the reader to believe-although the paths may look different-they were traveled just as equally!
“I took the one less traveled by.” There’s the lie. The roads where traveled the same. “just as fair” “about the same” “equally lay”
So why is it so often boastfully said ‘oh I took the road less traveled’?! How do we really know? When time comes to make those big decisions, we feel we have discernment, we are confident in our decision; but can we really say we are taking the road less traveled?
Sometimes only when we are past our decisions and the road has been chosen, “Somewhere ages and ages hence;” after our choices are over and lived out we are able to look back at our decision and say we came to a fork in the road and not knowing it at the time, “I took the one less traveled by,”
As life continues, we come to new decisions, “Yet knowing how way leads on to way.” One path brings us to the next one, and again we are forced to make a decision.
Why do we want to be able to say we chose the one less traveled by? To show we have courage, to blaze our own trail? I suppose the motives of each of us are different, no two snowflakes are made the same. We each look down our roads as they divulge before us and make our decisions, leaving behind us “wanted wear” of our paths.
Whatever the road we choose, no matter right or wrong, one thing will always be the same-our choices, each and every one of them will make all the difference,
“And that has made all the difference.”
Whether we take “The Road Not Taken” or “the one less traveled by” we must be confident in our decision, in our own ability to discern which path is right for us.
For me, I trust God, trust the plan He has for me and know that for that reason, whatever path I choose will be the right one.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
Good luck to you in your decisions, I hope you make the right ones as I pray for myself I am making the right ones…
I ended up not having much of a Thanksgiving and I started feeling sorry for myself last Thursday. My family was together in NY and my sister in law was sending me pictures, I was missing home more than ever before.
This longing for home made me start second guessing myself and my future choices!!! I am in a major decision making time in my life right now and smack in the middle of it I start thinking to myself ‘well I miss home and family and friends, I guess it’s time to go back??’ WHAT?!?? SERIOUSLY?!?!
So I miss some peeps that I saw a month ago and will see soon for Christmas, and that means I have to feel sorry for myself. Snap out of it!
I sort of feel like a hypocrite, I have so much to be thankful for and because I wasn’t able to have a traditional Thanksgiving means I forget about all that?! Come on!!! Snap out of it!
Thanksgiving day/weekend is a great time to spend with family, and I am sorry I missed out on that. BUT, I have a lot more to be thankful for and I need to remember that! The entirety of my life has basically been one series of fortunes and blessings after another. Not to say I have not had struggles and hardships, but even those times I must remember to be thankful-for if it was not for our difficulties we would not be strengthened.
Here I am, less than a week after thanksgiving reminding myself to be thankful. I am out of my slump and back to the reality of the decisions I have to make. Thankful for the doors open in front of me and the opportunities that lie ahead…
Thankful I snapped out of it!
I guess it’s sort of fitting to post about the spirit of being thankful on thanksgiving, but I have been feeling extra thankful these days, extra joyful; extra fulfilled.
I have been reading a great book this week One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It reminds me of the inspiration and challenge in finding joy in your every day; every step of life, ever new leaf, every flower, every mud puddle and scent of fresh cut grass. The difficult is to find the joy among our challenges, but it’s there, the ever-present joy of life.
The loss of a job that brings new opportunities.
The end of a relationship that harvested fond memories and new experiences.
My difficulty is being thankful for each of these things. When situations are stressful and difficult, I forget to be thankful to have had the opportunity for the situation in the first place. I live a very blessed life, I have family and friends who love me and make my days brighter. I have a soft pillow to lay my head on at night and roof to protect me from the sun and the rain. When I’m sick I’m well taken care of and I never go to bed hungry or without a glass of water.
Food. Shelter. Water. Isn’t that what we were taught were our necessities; our bare essentials.; mine are taken care of above and beyond. So for this thanksgiving, I want to give thanks to all the small things, the hidden things, those that if not pointed out may be over looked. The blessings in the trials.
The soft smile of a child that says ‘thank you’.
The simple treasure of water, clear and clean running from a kitchen sink.
The gift of a hug from a friend, telling you without any words…I’m here.
There truly are a thousand gifts in each day.
As promised, I have to do some catching up on where I am at in my life. Another chapter is beginning…
I am not longer with my previous organization, I felt like a puzzle piece that seemed to fit, but as you insert the pieces around it, you find it is in fact out of place. A mirage of seeming flawless ease. I’ll be the first to admit, my little puzzle piece in this life does not fit with every puzzle, it is bold and strong willed and might have a sharp edge or two-you know the kind.
At first I felt lost, not sure what to do, not sure what was next; I was scared, I had doubt for the first time since coming to Haiti. But…that only lasted a few hours before I got smacked in the face with a little
“For we walk by faith not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
I have always tried to live my life with no regrets, understanding I am human, I sin, I make mistakes; but I know, even in the difficult times, I must walk by faith…blindly moving forward one day-one step- at a time. Learning, growing and loving as I go.
I almost wish I had sat down to write this post weeks ago, when things first changed; back when I was distraught and doubting. Things are so good and God’s timing is so indescribably perfect I can’t seem to find words to explain my transition from where I was to where I am.
I am so thankful for the opportunities I have had in the past, for the amazing organization I had the chance to be a part of, to learn from; I am blessed by the incredible women with their beautiful hearts and strength that can move mountains.
The future is unknown, but each day is a new dawn and with it comes bright new beginnings…
“The Lord makes firm the steps of those who delight in him;
though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord upholds them with his hand.”
…easier said than done. I guess I’m not sure where to start; I should go back and explain my current situation a bit as it has changed again, but I am going to save that for later. Instead I am going to pour my heart out a bit…
I find myself praying for guidance and patience these days. Life has been taking me in an interesting direction for a while now; sometimes I really do feel I am just along for a ride through a crazy fun house. Surprising situations come up and exciting doors open before me. I guess that’s all part of this journey we call life.
Today is Todd’s birthday, a great cause for celebration! He certainly did celebrate his 24 years on this beautiful earth-making today bitter sweet. Wonderful because we all had him for 24 years; yet awful because as the sun continues to rise on our days, his are over. I guess I’ll add strength into my prayers…
This morning at church Pastor John talked about living a purposeful life…it was one of those mornings when I felt like it was a message directly for me. Of course it spoke to much of the congregation, but it really hit home for me. It spoke to me in each area of my prayers; guidance, patience and strength.
“The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose.” –Richard Leider
Above was the quote on the screen at the beginning of the message.
Pastor John asked; “How do we live our life? What is our purpose on this earth? If you knew you had a terminal illness how would you live out the last days of your life?”
…the last one stung a little…
A question I often as myself; luckily I had a great teacher who taught me to be conscious of this question without even realizing it. Even before the cancer Todd always lived his life like it could be over before the sun came up.
I try my best to follow in his footsteps, living each day like it could be my last. Loving each person around me like I might never see them again. Todd taught me how to appreciate what I have and those I have in my life. I’ll admit I often fall short, but I try my best.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways trust in him and he will make your path straight.” –Proverbs 3:5-6
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” -Matthew 5:16
All of the above verses were discussed this morning at church; I took a few notes based on my interpretation of the message and the verses:
- I can’t do this alone, and I’m not. I need to rely on the Lord, lay it all down for Him.
- I have to remember to trust in Him and His plan.
- God created everything and thus has a plan for everything; all things are part of his plan.
- We are living this life in partnership with God; trust in that partnership.
- Part of the joy of this life is listening to God’s direction!
- We should be a light to others, lifting them up in good times and bad.
I’m still not sure where this path is taking me, but the unknown is part of the excitement, part of the joy. Everything is part of the plan and so I must not worry, there simply is no need.
People come in and out of our lives; some continue down our path with us, others were only meant to walk with us a short time. I’m not sure why Todd was taken so early from this earth, as hard as it is, I have to trust it was part of God’s plan. I often think life isn’t fair, but I suppose it is not supposed to be. There is a plan and in that plan everything is happening just as it is supposed to.
Happy Birthday Todd, always in my heart <3
I want to introduce you to Donald; he is one of our hardest working employees at REBUILD. He is caring, protective and driven; Donald cares about everyone around him and would do anything for any one. Over the last two years we have seen Donald blossom into an impressive young man, but he has come a long way from the days of his difficult youth.
Donald was a restavek, sold into modern day child slavery after his father passed away. Donalds mother was unable to care for her children and did the only thing she could think of to help her family; sacrifice one to save the rest.
Donald is 21 years old and in sixth grade. Donald started with RG as an apprentice, he quickly transitioned into part time employment attending school in the evenings. As a restavek his childhood was taken from him, his free-will was gone. All Donald wanted to do was go to school, to learn, to be able to take care of himself; now he can.
Donald has a full time job and responsibilities he never had before. Not only does Donald take care of himself, but he has helped his brother and family out as well!!! Donald has his OWN apartment, attends school at night, is a full time employee at REBUILD Globally and is taking driving lessons! We are so proud of the man Donald has become! His smiling face greets us every day and it always brightens up the room! It chills me to think where Donald might be had he never came to REBUILD…
Donald may be younger than me, he may not have a degree from a good University in the US, but Donald teaches me something every day and I am grateful for him.
Will you help more kids be successful like Donald? Sponsor an Apprentice student through REBUILD Globally and find out how you can impact the life of someone else-who knows, they might end up teaching you something!
For those of you who know me REALLY well you know my favorite movie of all time is The Wizard of OZ, I love the books, the movie, the life lessons-all of it! Sometimes I feel like Dorthy, off on this incredible journey that happened to her, meeting incredible friends, overcoming struggles, but ultimately making it to OZ and home. Unfortunately for me coming home is not as simple as taping my heels together-first of all I don’t have Ruby Red slippers and second, well we all know it just doesn’t work that way.
I travel back and forth to Haiti and the US, calling each place home. I grew up in a small town in upstate NY, went to college in Rochester, I drove often between my mothers and fathers house, grandmas, the lake; yet wherever I laid my head at night I always knew I was home.
In the book, Glinda told Dorthy she always had the ability to go home, it was with her all along; all she had to do was think real hard and say those magical words “there’s no place like home”-and the ruby slippers helped of course! Well I don’t have to think real hard, I just make home wherever I am. I suppose as corny as it is ‘Home is where the heart is.’
As long as I do my best to keep friends and family in my heart whenever I am away, I know them will always be with me- wherever life takes me. NY will always be home…and so will Haiti. Work is here, friends are here, family is here-life is here. Home is where your heart is and it sure is good be home!
I’m not sure where to begin to say thank you to the people who have encouraged and supported me over the last two weeks. After the trade show I traveled to Peoria, Ill and then to Minneapolis, MN for speaking engagements and to work on getting REBUILDers’ into stores.
I am so grateful for the people who asked me to visit; for the people who not only believe in what I am doing, but who believe in me. You encourage me every day and are the reason I am able to continue in this line of work. I am grateful and honored by the generosity of so many.
In Ill I was able to connect with two stores that will now be carrying REBUILDer’s, volunteer at a soup kitchen, speak to the community as well as Servant’s Heart Fellowship Church about my journey and work in Haiti. Servants Heart has been a huge encouragement and support for me since I met them in Haiti back in March. They have welcomed me into their homes and their families and I am so blessed and encouraged by each and every one of them.
From there I traveled to Minnesota and spent a week with a family I also met in Haiti. They were so kind and generous to open their beautiful home to me and take care of me all week! I spoke at the Rotary and Northern Lights Hockey team and had some very encouraging meetings. Somehow I was able to fit in TWO trips to the Minnesota State Fair and of course the Mall of America! It was an enjoyable and productive trip!
It is an incredible feeling when you know others believe in you. I feel so encouraged and uplifted after the last two weeks! Now I have ten days to catch up on emails and follow ups and get things in order to head back to Haiti and join Julie and Sandra and the REBUILD team! I will definitely miss the ease of the first world, but I am excited and anxious to get home and be with my team again!
Thank you to all who support me in one way or another! I have crossed paths with so many people who truly help me continue, without each and every person I would not be able to do what I do. Thank you a million times over.
“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” –Matthew 7:18-20
Blessed to be surrounded by good trees!!!
Since being in the states I have been doing a lot of talking about Haiti, what I do there, REBUILD, why I went in the first place…I have to admit I am finding it difficult. I can’t seem to explain to someone why I live in Haiti, why I was called there, I can’t find the words-or at least I don’t feel like I can.
I can’t take your hand and put it on my heart to help you feel what I feel. I can’t take a string and tie it to my soul the way it is tied with so many others, because for those of you out there who have been there, you know. You know how captivating it is, yet I am not sure I can figure out how to explain why?
‘Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.’ -Helen Keller.
The people of Haiti are beautiful and strong, resilient and proud; but how can I tell you and make you understand? In Haiti there is true raw suffering every day; earthquakes and hurricanes affecting the ‘poorest of the poor,’ routine struggles of poverty and starvation. I seem them as rich in faith, a strength I don’t have. I like to think I see people for their strengths and not their struggles, at least I try to. Maybe it’s the strength of the Haitians that captivates me, or maybe it’s more selfish-maybe it’s the strength Haiti gives ME that draws me to it. Whatever it is, it’s magnetic and has captivated my heart.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” –Matthew 5:3
Haiti helps me feel my own strength. It forces me to rely on the Lord, to walk each step in Faith.
What makes me keep going some days? What makes me stay? What makes me keep doing what I’m doing? I’ll admit it, I have asked myself all of these questions at one time or another.
I’ll never know some of the suffering in the world, but I have managed some how to deal with my own personal suffering whatever that might be. Divorce, death, mental illness, heartache…I have had it all and it all has shaped me and my path in life. I will never be able to put someone into my shoes, nor will I be able to stand in theirs. We can do our best to share experiences, we can show pictures and explain, but we can never really put another person in a time and place or experience.
So how can I tell you why? How can I show you with my words and make you feel it with my pictures?
I am not sure how to explain to you why I am in Haiti, I am not sure how to tell my father or my brother what it means to hug our street boys, or show my aunt how awesome it is when one of our artisans teaches me how to sew on a petal sewing machine. I can’t transport my family and I can’t transport you.
I guess what I am trying to say is surprisingly enough I find myself having trouble finding the words to share my experience; to share the beauty of Haiti and the strength of the people there. I am trying my best, it’s part of my job at this point…to make people understand with pictures and words. You can’t describe the most savory mouth watering cupcake any more than you can explain the fibers of your soul, what makes your heart beat day in and day out.
As for what keeps me going, what keeps me in Haiti. I might not be able to explain why. It just is, it’s a feeling I know is right from the souls of my feet to the soul of my heart. I keep taking leaps of faith and God keeps putting the ground in front of me. Don’t ask me why; just know it is what it is.
“For you, God, tested us;
You refined us like silver.
Your brought us into prison
And laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads;
We went through fire and water,
But you brought us to a place of abundance.” –Psalm 66:10-12