Category Archives: 2015
Today I had to say some really difficult “No’s.” I work at a school so you might thing it has something to do with my kids, but it didn’t.
This week ALL of the 26 Quisqueya Christian School students in the class of 2K15 are off on their senior trip in Florida. My classes here are pretty light, just me and one young man in sewing and me and 4 Juniors in Sign Language. It’s calm.
But today I didn’t have to say NO to a silly request from a senior or some other student. Today two young Haitian men, men who I am sure are talented and have many skills-showed up at QCS. They were just boys when I met them a few years ago, they were in a youth program that was run by one of my past organizations. Since then, not a week goes by that I don’t get a phone call from some one asking me for a job or school or money. The answer is always NO.
I am not sure how, but today they found me. They showed up here at QCS and I still had to tell them No. I hate it. It’s so unfair. Their lives are hard.
I talked to them for ten minutes or so and told them I don’t have a job for them as a teacher or a translator, a metal worker or making beads, I don’t have job for them as drivers or washing clothes or anything else.
It was heartbreaking. Saying NO never gets easier. I walked them out and they waved goodbye. I turned, went into my house, sat down in my chair and cried. I cried out to Jesus, because there is simply nothing I can do. I struggled to see the point of the last five years here. My heart breaks for those young boys, but there is nothing I can do.
And tonight I am back in my chair crying.
My seniors are on their senior trip in Florida. They have been at the HEART Missionary Training Institute since Sunday and tonight as I clicked through the pictures on face book I cried.
This afternoon things felt so helpless, but tonight I am so proud. I looked at the picture of the 26 students that make up our senior class and I am proud. They are the future. They are the ones who will provide jobs, who will keep families together. They are Haiti.
I think about the breakthroughs that last years seniors had during this same trip and my heart screams for joy to think this years group is having a similar experience. I can not wait for them to return from this trip to hear all their stories and feelings and watch them process it. The next six weeks of school are going to FLY by and my emotions are all over the place.
I can not wait for them to return from college and process the impact they can make on their country-to turn my NO into a YES.
Thank you Jesus for helping me to look to you. To keep going when my heart feels a NO. Thank you for meeting me, even when I am blinded to you. Thank you for putting me exactly where you have me.
This past weekend I had some friends come in on a mission trip. Four of them were on a team I led back in 2012 and whenever they come I always try to spend some time with them. This year, two of those people brought a team from their church and THEY led their team! I used a “Mission Day” for work and spent all day Sunday and Monday with them. They came through their church, Servants Heart Fellowship in Peoria, Ill.
I was nice to catch up and spend time serving along side old friends. We went out to the orphanage that was previously supported by an organization I worked for, but I fear no longer has any support aside of Servants Heart Fellowship (SHF). I am impressed with their dedication and resilience. It can be difficult to work with Orphanages and different organizations in Haiti, but if you are willing to take the time to pour into relationships, then you might run the risk of actually making a difference.
SHF pours into relationships. They pour into the brother/sister team who started the orphanage. A father who lost his wife and didn’t know how to care for his children. The sister who lives in the states and is doing her best to help our this father and so many other fathers and mothers who find themselves alone. The pour into the hearts of children and teachers. The goal is not adoption, some times the goal is surviving. This “orphanage” is more of a school, a boarding school if you will. SHF is in it for the long hall. They are committed to relationships and partnering with a family who are making the most to survive-at best.
I had a great Mission Day and enjoyed loving on the kids with the rest of the team. It was nice to be a part of what they are doing. The men on the team made desks and the women did some really fun crafts and a vacation bible study during the week. I even got to step in use some of my super-power-teaching-skills (Because I happen to admire all teachers everywhere and think it’s sort of a super power to impact lives in a way teachers do) the day I was there. I also got a beauty treatment, some people color their hair, I prefer to have a team of specialists pluck the greys from my skull.
Thanks for letting me spend the day with you SHF! Missing you guys already!
Disclaimer: I know there are many books and opinions of how orphanages can and should be run. There are books and opinions on how missions can and should be run. Heck, there is a big book that tells us how life should be, but the truth is, sometimes we get it wrong. Sometimes we have days when we get it right and some times not so much. Opinions and views differ and although I appreciate those differences, I’m asking you….don’t rain on my parade! GREAT job SHF!!!
This past week has been Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week here at Quisqueya. Being the Student Activities Coordinator and the Student Council Adviser, I was able to be in on all the behind the scenes work for this week. Normally the administration puts on a nice breakfast for us on Monday mornings, but this year there were demonstrations in Haiti and we did not have school. Tuesday was supposed to be cupcakes made for the teachers and staff by one of my seniors, but demonstrations continued into Tuesday and although we had school, Krysta was not able to make it in. She was busy baking away on Monday and that plan got postponed until Wednesday.
Tuesday started the week of with cards made for each teacher, faculty, and administrator here at QCS. My friend Elisa (the art teacher) was eager to help out with this feat for the second year in a row! A huge thank you to her and all of the elementary and high school art students for making such beautiful and thoughtful cards! This is secretly my favorite part of the week each year.
Wednesday Krysta blessed us with her wonderful baking skills. (Not that I’m bragging, but Krysta has already been accepted into Johnson and Wales, Culinary Institute of America, and Institute of Culinary Education). She is an amazing baker and I look forward to what she can accomplish with her gifts. Thank you Krysta for going above and beyond with this task. It was a hard choice between double chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and carrot shavings, and vanilla cupcakes with Oreo bottoms and vanilla/chocolate frosting and a marshmallow on top. It was a tough choice, but there were only enough for one per person.
Thursday my Student Council put together a very thoughtful gift for each of the teachers. QCS travel mugs filled with assorted candies and adorned with valentines day wrapping.
I also need to mention that in Chapel on both Wednesday (for High School) and Thursday (for Elementary School) Elisa did a beautiful mime with some Sign Language for the teachers. The song was about thanking them all for giving of their life and their time and as a result “I am a life that is changed.” It was a beautiful dedication from the students to the teachers and there was not a dry eye in the place. Especially when all of the elementary students joined in the miming at the end, turned to their teachers and thanked them for what they do. I might be crying as I type this recalling what a special moment it was, especially for me as the Sign Language teacher here.
Today I am missing the annual Ice Cream Celebration put on for the faculty and staff from the board. I fully plan on purchasing my own ice cream when I am in Florida this week for Carnival break to make up for my loss. Although perhaps the three cupcakes I ate on Wednesday (*Confession: I didn’t stick to the one per person rule) should be my compensation for missing out.
However, the seniors passed out their Valentines Day Roses this morning and I am enjoying seeing these gems of Gods creation on my desk all morning. My students really are thoughtful and gracious. They are giving and full of joy and I am so blessed to have them in my life.
I am the person who receives many emails from teachers and staff saying how much they feel appreciated this week. I get many emails that say “great job” and “keep up the good work,” but its not me. It’s those kids. Those same kids that make me a little crazy sometimes and might even be making me a little more like my mother each day. I really feel its important to let the students know how much we all appreciate their hard work and thoughtfulness. So I want to pass on the gratefulness and the appreciation this week. Thank you for all you guys did this week! You went above and beyond and I love you all! And I definitely definitely feel appreciated.
I couldn’t decide which pics of the Mime/Signed Performance to put in from High School Chapel so there are lots more below:
I guess I am a little overdue in writing this, but as I was retelling the story of my recent half marathon here in Haiti to a friend she said “this sounds like it needs to be a blog post.” So here it is.
Me and a few other teachers at Quisqueya had been training for this race since October(ish). Every run seemed to be a “hill run”, even thought the training calendar said hill runs were only to be done once a week, but….This is Haiti. As the weeks went by the runs got longer and harder down here in the heat, oh and the hills, but we managed to get the miles in…most of them.
The last two weeks of training were going to be over the Christmas vacation which Jesse and I would be spending in Florida with his family. A trip that couldn’t come soon enough and didn’t last long enough. I was looking forward to some nice runs in a more mild climate, but still sunny Florida with my running pal, but…This is Haiti and two days before were to fly out to our fantastic holiday Jesse had a motorcycle accident, severely damaging his foot and taking him out of race contention.
Off I went in Florida, continuing my training, alone. However, I found myself continuously looking behind me because Florida has gators and snakes and I wasn’t really looking to make any new friends. Somehow I fit in some good runs, including my long ten miler, where my running pal showed up with pretzels, water and lots of encouragement 🙂
We finished out vacation with lots of sun, time with family and trips to Target (unfortunately the Target trips had time restraints on them). The vacation had gone so great in fact that the night before we were set to return I remembered I had not yet registered for the race which was now three days away. Signing on I realized registration had been closed. Fortunately I sent off and email and got a quick response and a link to follow and sign up and all was well.
When the time came to pack our bags, well more of a organization of bags because I don’t think we ever unpacked, but such is the life; I definitely had some unsettled emotions about returning. Fortunately, I was greeted at the Port-au-Prince airport with one of my best and oldest friends, Leslie. She had arrived before us and was joining us for the race and a whirlwind weekend, in Friday, out Monday. After sufficient time waiting around in the parking lot for other staff to arrive, we finally made it home.
Jesse’s bike had been fixed by some miracle over the break and only had a few pieces of duc-tape and a missing mirror as mementos of the accident. The three of us dressed up and went out to The View for a nice dinner overlooking Haiti.
The drive out to Jacmel was uneventful (thank you Lord again for keeping us safe), I took a page out of my mothers book and read to everyone from the back seat to avoid looking at the road carved through the mountains of Haiti that can plummet one to an early death, literally at every twist and turn. When we arrived at Jacmel and registered for the race, Leslie immediately ran into the Caribbean Ocean as she had traveled in from snowy New York City. And who can resist when a bunch of your friends are doing a race, so Jesse registered as well, injured (possibly broken) foot and all. What the heck, we drove all this way!
I would love to say the race went off with out a hitch, but that would not only be boring, but would also be a blatant lie. Previous racers were upset for not getting paid their “race money”, even though they had illegally ran the race in the first place the previous year. They vowed to no allow this years race to take off. But we drove all that way so nothing was going to stop us (also the fact that we had no idea what was going on behind the scenes until after the race). All seemed to start ok, but then the scarcely “marked” course and lack of direction caused many wrong turns and frustration. About half way thorough I must have taken a wrong turn, ended up in town and took a moto taxi back to the point where I last got lost (altogether, about a mile and 30 minutes worth of confusion), I promised my driver just payment of 100 GDE if he showed up at the beach in an hour and was on my way.
At this point I was so frustrated between looking down at the road to avoid tripping or twisting my ankle and looking up to search for race signs that had turned over in the wind or fallen down all together, because who knew one piece of scotch tape probably wouldn’t hold up on a dusty tree and piece of cactus. But we drove all that way so I kept going.
Some way out, my friend Miquette, who I knew should have been WAY ahead of me, showed up behind me. She had also gotten lost. Ughh. At least she had been running with Jesse who was now with me :). Her training and strength drove her to continue hard and Jesse and I decided to walk a bit in an unsuccessful effort to regain feeling in our hips that was not only excoriating pain, but possibly also blinding. Leslie however had a great race and came back to see us at the end and make sure we found our way and eventually we did. I finished somewhere around 14 minutes and Jesse and Miquette did 17 or so…
At the finish we found out the race director was being detained in jail, the people who did the full marathon (most of which also got lost) had rocks thrown at them in protest, but at least there were coconuts and cold water. We snapped a few pics, got a few apologies and were out of there.
I was furious when it all first happened and clearly during the race, but the whole thing is sort of making its way behind me. I am glad I did it, we did get a free entry into next years race, but I am also glad it’s over.
Returning to our hotel we packed up, refueled with lunch and fresh juice and set out to hike to Bassin Blue, because we drove all this way, and its beautiful.
Leslie had a great trip and I am so excited I got to share this gem of an Island with her. I was a little frustrated with the race, but…This is Haiti and she had a blast. It was an event to remember for sure.