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Death. Life. Run.

Time has really got away from me. There are 16 days left in 2014 and this is only my third post of the year! I just might have to resolve to do better at blogging in the new year!

I have been running a lot lately. The last time I trained for a half marathon was 2010; I was living in America and I was not a believer, well not a follower at least. The last time I trained for a half marathon I was running with the Team in Training and raising money towards cancer research. I ran for Todd, a piece of my heart who lost his battle with cancer.

This time around training has been a bit different.

I am training on the trash covered streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti as opposed to the snow covered streets of Rochester, New York.

I am training sporadically, depending on time and heat and where the latest riots are taking place as opposed to the regimented group training I remember from 2010.

And this time, I am running for life, not death.

I am again running with a group, or more for a group. This time I am running for TeacHaiti, a non profit in Haiti, a school started by my good friend, Miquette McMahon. A group of us are running to raise money for TeacHaiti.

This time I am running for education, for life.

Since moving to Haiti life has changed me. I have stumbled across many organizations here that breath life into not only the people of this country, but also those of us who have come to call it home. So many of them who are involved in education in one way or another.

Some organizations have taught me exactly what I don’t want to be involved in, while others have shown me how to live.

I am running for education.

Education is knowing and loving (and being immensely loved by) the midwives at Heartline Haiti, who have taught me how to be a better woman, who have so much love and affection for the women of Haiti, the mommas and essentially the future. The midwives who educate women on breast feeding, caring for a new infant and even contraceptives and the rights we have as women, as humans.  Education is learning I have value.

Education is what I do as a teacher at Quisqueya Christian School. It is standing in front of my classroom in my Senior Transitions class, in front of my seniors and tell them to stand up against peer pressure. Not to be the norm, but to be the change. To stand firm in your faith, to go out of your way to love, to forgive and to live. It is the education I am gaining from knowing them, teaching them; from loving them. Education is seeking after wisdom.

“My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.” Psalm 49:3

Education is breaking the cycle of poverty. It’s knowing there is something better out there, something more. It is having a dream, wanting a better life-a better life for yourself, a better life for your children. Education is more than going to school and learning, it is knowing you are beyond blessed for the opportunity to go to school, to learn. Education is finding life in the wisdom we seek.

“and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills” Exodus 35:31

Education is life.

Education is knowing there is more to this life, knowing Jesus died on the cross to wash away my sin. Knowing Jesus loves me, knowing God is looking out for me, knowing the Spirit is breathing life into me. Education is value, it is wisdom, it is life.

This time, I am running for life. I am running for education and whatever that might mean to you, but for me, it means life. For me, it means coming to Haiti. It means realizing there is freedom in my beliefs, there is freedom in Jesus, wisdom in education and life in wisdom.

As I ran my six miles yesterday, I found myself needing to recall the reason I am doing this run. In the heat, struggling to put in the miles, to wake up early, to run up that hill (because everything is up, even when you are going down, you’re still going up). I remembered my education. The life lessons I have learned, the life I was born into where education was not an option, but a requirement-given to ALL. Haiti is so different. Education is not for all. Freedom is not for all. The gospel is not for all; it has not yet reached every house hold, every ear, every soul. I took so much for granted growing up in the states, but Haiti has taught me so much.

“The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.” Proverbs 19:8

I think its perfect this run is happening around the Christmas season. Its perfect I am running to raise money for TeacHaiti (click here if you want to help me do that). It’s perfect that it’s hard and challenging and even up hill as so much of life can seem to be. It is perfect that this time I am running for life, not death.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

The Choice

I know it has been a while since I have posted…sorry. The school year is winding down and at Quisqueya I work a lot with the seniors who are preparing to go off to college. I think many of the posts over the next few weeks will be about the seniors, again….sorry.

As I am able to sit in on the senior Bible class today, Robbie is Skyping in with an old mentor, Fred Grooms, who is launching his book today “Who’s in charge of Bob?” I can’t help but wonder if the kids understand the teaching opportunity playing out in front of them; the classroom that is removed from a text book.

Skype from Haiti

Skype from Haiti

“We are each given gifts and talents. How are you using them? Just because you are good at something, that does not mean you are called to do it.” Life brings us around to where we are supposed to be. “Broaden your view of what it means to be talented” Fred said. As I am preparing for this years 11th grade retreat I reflect on this time last year. As teachers we are gifted with the unique opportunity to be a part of this crucial time in students’ lives. They are exploring their talents and gifts, coming into who they are as people.

There is heaps of talent in this room. This group of kids is going place. They are going to be adults for starters. Watching them grow this past year has been a joy. The teaching moments at Quisqueya are in abundance and I am sitting in the midst of a golden one. I find myself in awe of God, in awe of how He has used my gifts and talents to bring me to this exact spot.

I have many prayers for the students here, many prayers for the seniors we are about to send off. Fred talked about the choices we are given; “Choice. The thing I keep coming back to is choice.”

The future is full of choices. Day after day after day, the friends we have, the colleges we go to, if we want to buy that shirt, sleeping in or getting up and going to class or church. The choice is yours. Are you going to go to class and be all there? Are you going to work through the issues with your roommate or blow up and walk away? The choices we are making are making you who you are, you are each beautiful, unique and a gift from God. I can’t help but wonder as it is discussed with the speaker about their ultimate choice. “If we say yes to Christ, that means we are saying no to some other things.” Such a powerful statement and a good reminder.

If we made that choice, we still have to choose what we are going to do with it. Are we going to choose to the impact the world for the glory of His kingdom or are we going to say thank you for my salvation and all these blessings OR are we going to make the choice to profess our faith by how we love and live every day?

Are we rooted in Him? Is our faith enough? Are we truly grateful for our salvation?

There is so much I want to say to this years seniors. As you head out into the world, know I will always worry about you. Know I will always be here for you. Know the future is ahead of you and it is YOURS for the taking. God will use each and every one of you in ways you will never imagine. No Bible class, retreat, transitions class, or lecture will ever prepare you for life. Life prepares you for life. Don’t miss the moments ahead by making the wrong choices.

Be Love.

The Bible says the greatest commandment is:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbors as yourself.'” Matthew 22:37-39

Today I am trying to do just this, Love God. As a follower of Christ this is something I try to do with my heart and actions each and every day, love others. Love them at work. Love them at home. Love them on the beach, or down by the sea. Love others, right where they are, right where I am. I won’t say it’s always easy, but it is my calling. It’s all of our calling.

BE LOVE. Love God, Love others. We don’t have to go anywhere to show the love of God. I don’t have to be called out onto the mission field, or tent cities and orphanages.  We can be the love of the Lord and allow it to shine through our hearts where ever we are. Any place, anywhere, any time. BE LOVE.

Trust; life is happening just as it should…

…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

Women’s Self-defense and Empowerment Training with Brookview Church!

I had full intentions of posting this blog before I left to New York for the holidays, but unfortunately that did not happen. I’ll back track a bit and do my best to catch up!

In mid December a group of 10 joined us here at World Wide Village from Brookview Church in Seattle, Washington. This team came prepared to do three separate two day clinics on women’s self defense and empowerment training. Pastor Jason and his wife Jen wove together a great program with a perfect mix of biblical principles while Erin and her husband Jon educated the women about the male and female reproductive system, how STD’s are transferred, and women’s rights. Erin is a police officer in Seattle who also teaches self defense classes to women.

Explaining the female reproductive system.

Brookview really hit the ground running; as soon as they got in we went out to Luly to make bracelets with a few of the ladies. Jen made bracelets with two string colors woven together to make the word ‘selfless’. Pretty quick it appeared the ladies were not understanding how to make them-nether was the team. It was great to see on the first day how they problem solved this challenge as a team; they were flexible and enjoyed their experience even though it did not go as planned.

Selfless bracelet!

The first two days of clinic were spent at La Piste with 30 deaf women. I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with the deaf ladies in this capacity. As the clinic unfolded I watched the ladies faces and saw them understand the different concepts and principles. When it was time to try out some of the self defense techniques the ladies really got into it. La Piste is on the cusp of one of the most dangerous slums in the western hemisphere. For a year after the earthquake 400 deaf Haitians lived in 40 tents in this area. When I got to bed at night, I lock my door; I can’t say the same for them. I feel so blessed to be a part of the empowerment of this group of women. They are all special to me, beautiful – strong women who deserve respect, especially when it comes to the men in their lives.

‘Throw your hips into it!’

 

Even Betha gave it a try!!!

The second two days were spent with a group of ladies in the World Wide Village community of Luly. 30 women from around the community met with Brookview for the self defense and empowerment training. There were clear differences between the ladies at La Piste and the ladies at Luly. The harsh reality of life for Haitians continues to remain outside my imagination. Although I live in Haiti, I live behind safe walls in a safe community. The ladies at La Piste don’t live the way I live. I am fortunate and blessed beyond my comprehension in the life I live. The ladies at Luly are blessed compared to the women living in camps and slums. I am so grateful Brookview decided to do this training and invest in these women.

‘Use all your strength!’

The last two days Brookview did their training in partnership with WeADVANCE (weadvance.org), a women’s clinic in City Soleil. I was not a part of this as I headed home for the holidays, but Ali here at World Wide Village told me it went just as good as the first two sites and was unique to the women who were in attendance. I am sorry I missed it, but hopefully Brookview will return soon to continue their empowerment and education of the Haitian Women!

New Coub Bouton!!!

Each day Brookview wanted to provide the ladies with a snack at noon. At the end of the first day they made prayer bracelets and each Haitian woman got a letter and a picture of a prayer partner who attends Brookview Church. Brookview then took their picture for their partner in the states to have. There was also an exchange of prayer requests and the ladies made bracelets to remind themselves to pray every day for their prayer partner.

Making Prayer Bracelets

At the end of the second day the ladies received a certificate with their name on it from Brookview and World Wide Village as well as a Coub Button to carry with them for added protection in addition to their new skills! The ladies at Brookview really wanted to make sure they knew how special they were by washing and massaging their feet and painting their nails! It was a beautiful way to end the training!!

Painting and washing the ladies feet at La Piste

 

Brookview Church team member painting nails.

Once again my life has been enriched by the amazing people I find myself surrounded by. I am so blessed by the opportunities I have been given. To witness the deaf women at La Piste grow from tents to wooden shelters was a blessing, now I was a part of educating and empowering some of those women. Again I find myself speechless and in awe of the amazing life I am living. Thank you Brookview for your vision, hearts and service; come back to us soon!

Brookview and the ladies at La Piste with their certificates

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