It’s been a bit longer than usual between blog posts, and for that I apologize. A lot of different things have taken place since then, so I had to get my world to slow down before I could even hope to sit down and write about it!
First order of business, as some of you know, I will be returning home to the States a few weeks earlier than planned! We were able to get our school work done in a timely fashion, and, as a result, I am able to finish up the year a tad earlier. My flight home is now May 31, only two weeks away!
Even though our school work will be done by May 29th, it is STILL the ‘end of a school year’, which, let me tell you, is the same whether you’re in the States or in a country like Haiti. End of the school year madness exists no matter what kind of classroom you’re in. We are getting down to the wire, wrapping up learning material and reviewing everything we’ve learned this year. These students have come so far; I have been utterly blown away and amazed by the progress they have made since our very first month together in September.
This teaching experience has been unlike any other I have experienced; it also, quite honestly, was one that I don’t think any amount of college courses could have prepared me for either. Both of those experiences, my prior classroom work and my numerous education-focused college courses, helped lay a foundation for what it takes to be a teacher, how to run a classroom, and provided ways of learning that every learner learns differently (lots of ‘learns’ in there, sorry). All of those things came in handy in our Education Cooperative classroom. Things like teaching outside under a choukoun, cancelling class for a Category 5 hurricane, doing food distributions to the neighboring villages on my day off, and my students and their families turning into my own family…you just can’t learn about that anywhere else. You experience those things by getting your feet wet, sometimes literally.
Well, folks, my feet are wet, and I could not be any more overwhelmed at the success that this past year held. I am stepping back to look at this finished product, and I am in awe of it all. I am covered in dirt and sweat, my mind feels like it’s been stretched like putty, my heart has been beautifully wrecked, and yet my soul feels electrified. God has truly used Haiti, as I’ve been saying since 2015, to change my life in so many different ways. If you’d like to know about those different ways in detail, hit me up so we can make a time for coffee 🙂 (Or just keep reading because I ended up writing a mini-rant about God’s awesomeness at the end of this blog anyway)
I have also been able to continue the work of L14. A couple weekends ago, I, along with some other volunteers, made rounds to our friends that the ministry serves. We were able to bring food with us to distribute, which is a huge way funding to this ministry is used. I sat and talked with the individuals and their families for some time, and we were even able to meet other disabled individuals who we hope to add to our ministry. With your continued help and support to this specific focus of MOHI’s ministry, we will be able to provide food, medical care, and other immediate needs for the disabled individuals of Grand Goâve. If you’d like to learn more on how to do that, please visit http://www.mohintl.org/l14-ministry or contact me for more details. This ministry is SO near and dear to my heart. I will continue to have a direct hand in the goings on of this portion of MOHI, even while being stateside.
This past weekend was spent with some of my newer friends here in Haiti; I got to visit the city of Jacmel, which is a couple hours and over the mountain from Grand Goave. Haiti is so diverse; its landscapes, its life styles, its people are all different depending on what part of the country you are in. One thing I love about Haiti’s coast, though, is that no matter where you go on it, you have ocean on one side and vast mountain ranges on the other. You get the best of both of those worlds. One thing that Jacmel DID offer me, though, that Grand Goâve hasn’t, was ICED LATTES. There was a cafe with my name on it (not literally, it is actually called Cafe Koze) and it not only played big band jazz music, but it had iced lattes and I TOTALLY splurged. Iced caffeinated drinks are one of my ‘first world’ pleasures that I appreciate when I go home, because I am without it while I am down here; but, on Saturday and Sunday, it was WITHIN reach and I enjoyed it in a way that only an iced-caffeinated-drink-deprived-girl can. It will wet my whistle until I can get my hands on one in two weeks 😉
I am starting to get that feeling that I always do when a chapter in my life is coming to a close. I felt it at the end of high school, when it was a new and scary feeling, I felt it at the end of college last year, when it was a relieved and well-deserved feeling, and I feel it now, and, oddly enough, it does not feel like the ending of anything at all. It is the end of the length of my stay here, but I feel as though the ripple effect of my year here in Haiti has only just begun. I told some of my closest friends and family this, and now I will share it with all of you; the girl that left for Haiti back in August isn’t here anymore. I know that has the potential to sound all creepy and horror story-esque, but hear me out:
I left for Haiti in August of 2016, ready for the unknown. I didn’t know much, I just knew that I was headed to Grand Goâve, Haiti to teach a group of missionary children, and that God was leading and guiding my every step. What I didn’t know as I boarded that plane with my actual baggage, was that I still held on to a lot of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual baggage. All of THAT was soon revealed to me, through consistent morning meetings with the Lord, with journal entry after journal entry (I am now about to finish my FIFTH journal since being here), and with precious advice, counsel, and shoulders to cry on provided by my beautiful friends here (you know who you are and that I love you dearly). Add the prior things to the new things being added on by life in Haiti, and my soul was absolutely stripped down. God and I were going back to basics; He was shattering the hardened walls around my heart that I didn’t even know existed, but His gentle and loving hands were holding me the whole time.
I am tired, I am out of breath, I am tear stained, I am raw; but I have been made new again, only by His grace. He saw what my life would be like before I gave it all over to him, He planned ahead for this moment, He knew what I would need. He knew I would need to be beautifully broken and He knew that He would be the one to restore and rebuild me. He has kept all His promises, and done so much more than I could ever have imagined. I have changed from the inside out over the past year, but I know that God isn’t done with His work. He is NEVER done with us; He is never content just restoring us. He wants us to be in relationship with Him, to love Him AND to exemplify His love to others, to mirror Him in every way because we ARE made in His image. It’s time we realize who we are; we are not defined by who others say we are, what the scale says we are, what the medicine that we take says we are, what our career says we are. We are defined by our Father alone, and He longs to show us just how precious we are to Him; He has a plan for every single one of us. He writes our story, and each chapter is more beautiful than the next. As you watch the story unfold before your very eyes, then, and only then, will you see His fingerprints in Your life. And that is THE single most amazing thing I have ever experienced in my entire life; I can’t wait for it to happen again, and again, and again.