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 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:
This past weekend I got to take part in one of the many perks of my job. I was one of the chaperones of an annual weekend trip here at Quisqueya Christian School to the mountains of Seguin. I have been on some beautiful hikes here in Haiti, but never as far as Seguin. As Student Activities Adviser, part of my role here at QCS is to plan trip such as this one. I have to say I learned a lot through trial and error…
Like having the donkeys sent down and a price negotiated ahead of time…oops. But, like everything in Haiti, we figured it out without much stress (and with the help of one of our amazing parents)! Loading all of our bags onto donkeys we set off for what we thought was an eight mile hike.
The sound of laughter, the excitement that can not be contained on your face, life is full of blessings…
The groups were spread out over the hike, but with a route carved into the side of the twisting mountains we were able to see one another, even those a mile or so ahead of us! I am still not sure if looking up was a good thing or not at times; looking up and seeing mountains as far into the distance as you could and hearing “we are going over that mountain”
“Umm, Im sorry, but WHAT?!?!?” is what I was thinking in my head. Trying not to show my complete exasperation and exhaustion to the students we were trying to encourage. “Oh yeah guys, we totally got this!!”
The whole trip was breathtaking to say the least (and yes, I do mean that both ways). I tried many times to capture the views in a photo, coming up short every time. There are sights of this country that are something only to be seen with the eyes, no photo will ever do it justice. As I stood eye level with clouds, I looked around to mountains on every side as far as I could see.
I mean, hopefully we do…
There were no cars, no noise and stifling air of the city; only beauty, beauty beyond words. Blessings beyond compare…
As we huffed and puffed up, I made sure to try to point out and appreciate as much beauty and blessings from God as I could. Every flower, every berry and tree, little huts made of stone, every rock. It was all beautiful.
But none of it was as beautiful as my seniors. They are so special to me and I am so proud of them. Coming up a two mile hill (9 miles in) and meeting the front group coming back down to help the rest of us, what a blessing. They were encouraging to one another, cheered each other on and waited until every one of their classmates made it to the top.
Before arriving at our destination, we had a three mile hike through the pine forest. It was a necessary break for our feet and legs after nearly nine miles of up, up and more up (in case you are bad at math like me, what we thought was an eight mile hike was actually a little more than 11-oops!)
Beauty is everywhere.
The horses, grass on our feet, waterfalls, the music of nature; more blessings, everywhere blessings…
After settling in and taking the coldest shower I think I have ever taken in my life we gathered together for a meal, debrief and devotion. Over the course of the weekend we read through and discussed the entire book of Ecclesiastes. We focused our weekend on wisdom and leaving for college with wisdom in the hearts of our students. Here at Quisqueya I am blessed to have the opportunity to continually speak wisdom and truth into the hearts of our students.
Learning with my students, watching them understand, falling in love with God each day; more blessings….
During our first debrief everyone went around and shared one thing they enjoyed about the day. I so love hearing the way our students care for and about one another.
The second day a causal hike to a waterfall and cave turned into an extreme three mile adventure down a river bed.
“Since no one knows the future, who can say what is to come?” Ecclesiastes 7:29
Although I was worried at times, like when the water was up to our shoulders, it turned out to be an amazing time for our students! I can’t imagine the day going any better. I love the plans the Lord has that far exceeds ours. The debrief that night was one of my favorite moments, asking the kids “Where did you see God today?” I loved their answers, but mine was my favorite. I saw Him in you! In your strength and enjoyment, your complete appreciation for the beauty around you.
I am blessed by each of you.
They took the time to look around and appreciate the moss and the water. They took the time to stop and wait for each other, to help one another down the river. I am so proud of the people they are becoming and honored to be a part of their stories in a small way.
It is the company we surround ourselves with that make us who we are. Our experiences, our reactions, our joys and laughter together, how we conduct ourselves in difficult situations. We set the bar high for ourselves and for those around us.
I am proud of you all!
Ecclesiastes gives us much wisdom and I am grateful to have shared that with our students and those with me in the mountains. Be joyful in your day. In the warm hike through a wooded forest and in the freezing river. Be grateful in your day. In the sights of the mountains around you and in the road that never seems to stop going up or ending. For there is much to learn from every situation.
“When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider;
God has made the one as well as the other.
Therefore, you cannot discover
Anything about your future.” Ecclesiastes 7:14