Friday, November 30, 2012

Cleaning day

I had been wanting to clean out the cubbies in the schoolroom, and do it with bleach in order to make it as inhospitable to bugs as possible. So one day I brought a bunch of cleaning rags, a jug of Clorox, and some rubber gloves, and I set to work scrubbing out each cubby.

The kids helped me, and I was amazed at the quality of their work. I honestly have to admit, I expected to have to do the job entirely by myself, but they wanted to help, and when they did, wow! they were far more effective than anyone I've ever seen! They scrubbed with true elbow grease and got everything not just a little bit better, but perfectly spotless! I was so blessed by their efforts! What I expected to have to be a big fight where I would have to be the grumpy one turned out to be a very pleasant day. We were singing together as we worked, and we all felt triumphant at the good results of our labor at the end.

The only victim of the day's work was my pretty dress. Before I left for the creche, I had an inkling that I should wear some junky cleaning clothes for this job, but for some reason I dismissed that idea and said to myself, "I won't get that dirty."

Then, as I was pouring the bleach in the bucket, I gulped. "Oh. Right. This is bleach water."

I very gingerly immersed my cleaning rag into the bucket, squeezed it out carefully, and walked over to the cubbies with the cloth at arm's length.

Then, without thinking of the fact that I needed to explain about bleach water to the kids, I handed out cleaning rags to the ones who wanted to help. They splashed the rags in and pulled them out, dripping everywhere, flinging their hands carelessly in every direction.

"AAh!" I yelped. "This is bleach water!" I tried to explain what it would do to our clothes, but all to no avail. By the end of the day, my dress was liberally sprinkled with random white polka dots of all shapes and sizes.

When I got home, I said to myself, "Well, the dress is unwearable already, so I might as well just see if I can rescue it by bleaching the whole thing. I don't have anything to lose." So I immersed the whole thing in bleach, and it instantly turned white, except for the thread that it was sewn with, which remained lime green.

I threw the dress in the washing machine with a few other white things. I came back later and opened the washing machine lid. The whole center post was uprooted and tilted sideways in the machine. Taken aback, I dug my clothes out and discovered that it was my dress's fault. One of the ties had gotten wrapped so tightly around the middle that it broke. Three strands of braided fabric just ripped in two, and the machine got all topsy-turvy, and somehow a good-sized hole had gotten rubbed into the fabric right in the front of the dress.

Alas for the dress. It would have looked pretty as a white dress. Maybe I can still sew the tie back together and add a creative floral applique to patch the hole.

But at least the cubbies are really clean!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dogs in Haiti

This post is especially for my sister, who, I'm sure, would like to know what the dogs look like here. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Haiti Fast

In the book Rees Howells, Intercessor by Norman Grubb, it talks about the concept of gaining a place of intercession by walking in another person's shoes, so to speak, and identifying with them in their suffering. Rees Howells often was led by God to walk through the same suffering as another person in order to pray effectively for them. The dedication and love that he expressed in being willing to identify with another person's hardship was powerfully used by God, and as he gained a place of intercession for a certain person or group of people, his prayers were often miraculously and dramatically answered.


As you pray for Haiti, why not consider gaining a place of intercession through a special Haiti fast? You can't all just fly to Haiti on a plane, but you can identify with the average Haitian in a special way through sharing the food that they eat and giving up your regular meals in the way that you would if you did come here to live.

Please seek the Lord for direction before doing any fast, and do it at His bidding, not mine.

Here is how it would look to eat like the Haitians here:
  • You can have 3 meals a day. 
  • You have four menu choices: Spaghetti noodles, beans & rice, cornmeal, or flour & water pudding. You can add salt, and if you want to be really Haitian, add MSG. The Haitians call it Maggie. (You can pray for me extra as you consider that I have to participate in this with every plate of food I eat.) You can add a small amount of ketchup to your spaghetti. You can add beans to your conrmeal if you wish, and you can cook the cornmeal in water or in chicken bouillon broth. You can also add a pool of oil to the top of any of these. These menu choices are for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Mix and match as you like.
  • You can have as much food on your plate as you want. You will probably want a large plateful at each meal in order to tide you over until your next meal.
  • If you have dietary constraints such as being gluten-free, you will simply have to skip the meals where  spaghetti or "flour pudding" was served, without supplementing a substitute.
  • For one meal a day (usually dinner), you can have meat. Your choices are chicken, hot dog, or fish. Amount: Chicken or fish: you can have one bite-size piece. Hot dog: you can have two (inch-long) slices.
  • For one meal a day, you can have vegetables. You can choose between 2 pieces of diced potato or 3 rings sliced from an onion and cooked. Three times a week, you can add two tablespoons of tomato sauce. Once a week, you can add a spoonful of peas. 


Flour & Water pudding
Boil water. Add flour with a whisk until it is a thick consistency like pudding. You may add sugar and cinnamon to taste, if desired.

Buy yellow grits and prepare as directed on the package.
•  Cook cornmeal in chicken bouillon broth instead of water.
•  Mix in whole pinto beans to the cooked cornmeal.
•  Prepare a thin sauce with mashed beans and pour it over the cornmeal. Top with oil.

Beans and Rice
Rice: prepare white rice as directed.
Beans: use canned beans or dry beans that you soak and cook until soft.
•  Make the beans and rice separately
•  Mix the beans in the rice and add a broth of mashed beans and/or tomato sauce to turn it a different color.

Boil water. Add noodles and cook until soft. Drain. Top with a small amount of ketchup.

See photos and meal ideas in my previous two posts: Haitian Food and More Haitian Food.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

If you decide to participate in this Haiti fast, please let me know so that I can join you in prayer!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A dress called Isaac

I got this dress for my birthday, and I loved it. It had been such a long time since I had bought anything for myself, much less something brand new, from a store that wasn't a secondhand store or a yard sale. My mom and I went out together on a birthday shopping spree, and I picked out this dress, and it was special. It fit me, it flattered me, and I thought it would look perfect in Haiti. I got down here and it was the first thing I wanted to wear. I washed it and wore it again on the first opportunity. I washed it again.

Then Sheena's birthday came, and God said, "I want you to give that dress to her."

I had heard her mention casually that she didn't have many clothes. (Not in the context of hinting around for her birthday, but just in the course of conversation. We were talking about whether or not it was safe to hang clothes on the line to dry, and she had mentioned that most of her things had gotten stolen off the line, leaving her with very few of her shirts).

But THIS dress! Oh, God, surely you can't mean this dress!

He did, and I surrendered it.

My roommates and I were talking about what we could give to Sheena for her birthday, and I said, "Do you know what I think would really bless her? Some clothes. We can't go out and go shopping at the mall, but we could all give her like one thing, and they would probably all fit her, because we're all about the same size."

So that's what we did. We prepared a gift bag and I unobtrusively put my dress in the bottom of the bag and covered it with tissue paper so that no one else would see it (not that they knew what special significance the dress had to me anyway, but just because I didn't want to make a big deal of what was going on between me and God). We delivered the gift bag to Sheena on the morning of her birthday and sang Happy Birthday to her and brought her a couple of balloons.

There. The dress was gone.

Sheena told me later that she almost cried when she opened the gift bag, and she wore one of the shirts that day, and another one the next day, and different items from our gift quite often. But for a couple of weeks, I never saw her wear my dress.

"Lord," I was tempted to say. "She doesn't even like my dress."

"Quiet," He replied. "I know what I'm doing. Trust me."

Then came the day that Sheena came to my room with a gift. It was for me!

On top was a note.

Inside the present was my dress. Ah! I couldn't believe my eyes. I thanked Sheena, and thanked God, and wore it the next day.

The note got shuffled into some of my other papers, and time went by.

Then it came time for my roommates to leave. Angela went through her clothes as she packed and left many items for me that she said she didn't need and wasn't planning to take home with her. It was a dazzling array of really, really nice things! They were practically brand new, with cute styles and cute prints, and even two orange things, and all my size. And there was a lot!

I looked at them and went to Angela.

"Angela, thank you!" I said. "These aren't just any ordinary clothes, I think these are the nicest clothes I've ever had!"

She gave the glory to Jesus and said that they had been provided for her by someone else and that she had gotten them specifically for this trip and thought it was best to leave them here when she left.

Then Bethany packed and left me a whole stack of beautiful and stylish things, too. And Kate donated her cute jean skirt, and Leann (I think) left a pair of shoes and Angela left another.

After they left, the card from Sheena surfaced again, and God connected the dots of all these circumstances.

It was like resurrection from the dead. It was like planting one seed and reaping many seeds. My dress came back to me, but not the same as it left. It came back with something attached to it--God's multiplied blessings.

If I had clung to the dress and refused to give it up, I would still have it in my closet, just as I do now. But I wouldn't have the same pleasure in wearing it. My pleasure would be spoiled by the memory of having stubbornly resisted God's request to take it away. Now, my old pleasure in wearing it is not only intact, it is multiplied by all the sweet memories of what God did.

With my own resources, I have never dreamed of going to a store and buying brand-name clothes in several different styles and several colors or prints in each style. But God went shopping for me and picked out better clothes than my own taste or pocketbook would have done.

It is as if God said, "When you give me one thing, I am able to give back to you far more than you gave up. I am not limited by your resources or human supply. You gave up one dress, and your sacrifice bore fruit. You gave it up, not expecting to get it back or to get anything else in return. But you have received from my hand what only I could give. I multiply the seed sown. I am the source of bounty. I am your provision."

Oh, sweet life of dependence on His generosity!

All this for giving up one dress!?

And of course, after the girls left, Sheena and I split the clothes from Angela and Bethany. (Why would I keep them all to myself? I'm all for more sowing!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

A School Schedule!

I have been stumped, and winging it every day, because I couldn't figure out how to schedule everything in school, accounting for all the different subjects, grade levels, and abilities represented.

But thanks to the recent solitude and extra focus that God has granted me, I finally got somewhere!

I pulled out a whiteboard and some colored markers and got scribbling!

It's amazing how just having a tangible thing in your hand like a marker frees the brain to think. All the areas where I was stuck when I was staring at my computer screen just seemed to magically come to life.

One of the main challenges to putting together a schedule was this:

How do I work with one group and not with another? What are the other groups doing while I'm not working with them?

I identified four different grade levels that I have in the school. If I staggered them so that each one worked with me, then I would have to find three separate independent activities that each class could do while they were waiting for me. The only independent activity I could think of was writing. So I was stuck.

Part of the answer came to me the other day: "I have to train them to study!" But still, the question was, "Study what?" What can I prepare for them to keep them profitably occupied, that's simple enough to prevent all of them from constantly interrupting me, and yet educational enough for them to be advancing in their understanding while they do it?

So the day I sat there with the markers, somehow it all came together.

I would split them up into only two groups, not four. While the groups are working independently, I can give them different levels of work. While they are receiving instruction, they can either split their time with me or all receive the same instruction. Then I can schedule writing as one independent activity, and...aha!...a math worksheet for the other independent activity.

There. It's in Excel. Doesn't it look official?

I don't know if this schedule will work, but at least I finally HAVE ONE. If it doesn't work, I can always tweak the parts that don't work. But now I can actually use that as a base, and I can take off and fly.

This is a schedule, not a lesson plan. Now it's on to planning out those classes over the course of the school year that I'm here. Ahhh... the interesting part begins!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

In which God gives me a most incredible gift

Three days after I surrendered my alone time to the Lord, I had a room all to myself. It was not of my doing, I didn't have to manipulate it, but here I am!

That was November 18, and on November 21, I was in my room, all by my very happy alone self.

I still haven't gotten over the luxury of it.

This is how it worked out:

The day we took the trip to Port-au-Prince that I mentioned earlier, my roommates were headed to the airport. Their time here was complete and they were heading home. Once they left, I moved in with Gerda to help her with the kids while Annie was home for a week. Annie got home on the 21st, and I moved back out and down to my old quarters, now empty.

I don't have any kids. I'm the single person again.

This frees me up tremendously. I feel like dancing. I feel lighter than air. I feel so liberated to pour into others now. I can finally devote the time I need to elements of class prep that just had me stumped. I can offer to take kids for a while to let one of the other ladies have a break. I can have all the school-age children at Club Indigo over to my room for school time. I can make the projects that have been weighing down on me, like the gift packets for the nannies at the creche. Ah...I finally feel like I am bursting free to thrive and act and actually accomplish the roles that God has given me, instead of just barely keeping my head above water and operating in survival mode. I feel like I am released to do the work I am called to do and have the possibility of doing it well.

I am incredibly thankful.

This side of the room has become like our little community center. It's a school room, movie theater, dining room for group pot-lucks, music lesson studio, you name it!

Important note: I don't want any of this to sound like I disliked my roommates or chafed under the crowded conditions. We had such a fabulous group of girls together, and we had a thriving, happy, unified relationship. For having 5 women in such small quarters, we had practically no bickering, gossip, or raging emotions, and that is amazing evidence of God's grace being supplied to us. I love the fact that the girls and I shared this room. It's part of what makes living here a happy thing. All the memories of what we did and said here still float through my mind as I walk through the room. "Remember when so-and-so's bed was there?" I will think to myself. "Remember when we had the table there, and we cut up all the vegetables for stir fry together and told stories?" "Remember when there was a huge spill there?" etc. etc. etc.

No, my relationship with my roommates was purely positive. But their time came to an end, as I knew it would, and their departure made it feel like my own time in Haiti was starting over from the beginning. I know, however, that my laments over their absence cannot bring them back. Just as God gave grace for the season we were together, he is giving grace for this new season. I rejoice in it and I am thankful for it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

In which I surrender my right to be alone

Not everyone likes to be alone, but I do. They say you can tell whether you're a true introvert by asking yourself this question: Do I recharge by being around people, or by being alone?

For me it has always been the latter. Being around people drains me, so I can only do it for so long. Then I need to get alone for a little while until I store up the energy to face people again. I feel like I could be alone forever without suffering the least bit of loneliness. 

One of the things that I was recently longing for, that came to an excruciating point of longing, was time to be alone. I just wanted to go away from people and be by myself. I wanted to recharge, rest, and not talk to anyone or see anyone for a really nice long time, until I felt ready to face people again. I have been surrounded by missionaries and children constantly, and don't get me wrong--they're wonderful people and amazing lovable kids! But when you have 5 adult women and 4 kids living in a 15x19-foot room, and there are constantly needy kids tugging on you, begging for your time, and needing to be taught, fed, clothed, bathed, and otherwise cared for, and then you stack up two continuous months of this on my poor little introverted soul, that little introverted soul just starts withdrawing, disconnecting, trying to invent a way to get alone, and constantly being drained more. 

The other night I was walking down (alone!) from the 3rd floor to the 2nd floor, and I just cried out to God about it, begging Him for a chance to just be alone, without shirking my duties or carrying less weight than everyone else or being selfish and leaving all the brunt of the work to others. And He asked me one of those penetrating questions that reset my whole perspective.
"Do you really need to be alone?"
So of course, my mind started clicking through all the possible answers. My first reaction was, "Yes! Of course! You know me! Don't you see how much I need it?" But the question didn't go away, and it slowly dawned on me: 

All I need is Jesus. 

I don't need alone time in order to be an effective missionary--I need Jesus. 

My source of recharge is not in getting by myself; it is in Jesus. 

On the one hand, letting go of my desire to be alone felt terrifying. What if God took me up on it? What if I never got to be alone again? Just thinking that thought was enough to trigger a panicky, clutching, reflex-like motion. I wanted to grasp, manipulate, and struggle until I got to be alone, and then I wanted to stay there for as long as I wanted, basking in the silence, and recharge. A lump rose in my throat at the thought of giving up something so precious, so dear, as my alone time. To give up the right to it, the title to it, the "mine-ness" of it--that would be a sacrifice. 

But on the other hand, if I didn't think about what I was losing, but instead focused on the truth, suddenly it was possible to open my grasping claws and let go. 

Truth: God could ask me to sacrifice all my alone time for the rest of my life, and that would be ok. He could supply all my sufficiency. So there is no excuse for me to pout about not being alone. If I really live what I believe, I can lift up my head, smile, and face the crowded world teeming with people, not because I've had enough time alone to recharge and find it in myself to face them, but because Jesus in me is enough, and His grace is sufficient to give me whatever I need to pour into them. 

In that instant, God brought me to the point of surrendering my right to be alone, laying it on the altar, and giving it up. But He didn't stop there--He brought me even farther, to the point where my soul could actually rejoice that I am not alone, and I could make a wholehearted, grace-prompted declaration: "I rejoice and delight in not being alone." All of my self-pity evaporated and I was reset, recharged, and cheerful again. 

Ah, surrender--it's the shortcut to relief. :-) 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Haitian Thanksgiving

There was no football game (and no TV to watch it on, even if there had been).

There was no Black Friday sale on the next day for everyone to get excited about.

There was no one to call it the obnoxious name of "Turkey Day." (Thank goodness!)

There was no crisp, biting air and bare tree branches outside the window.

And it definitely wasn't "Over the river and through the woods."

It was simply and purely our missionary family getting together for some long-awaited American food and fellowship.

On the menu:
Turkey. It looked like ham, and it tasted like ham, but the package said turkey. So we called it our turkey ham. I actually think it was some kind of sandwich meat.

Velveeta Shells & Cheese. A yummy gift from the US-based staff. THANK YOU!

South African Stir Fry. Secret ingredient: Mango chutney. Fabulous!

REAL mashed potatoes


In the orange bowl: Stuffing, also a gift from the US staff.
On the square platter: Sweet potatoes. Yes, that gray mound is sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes here are a whitish color, apparently. They were really yummy!

We had a lovely, God honoring conversation over dinner. My favorite part was hearing stories from Annie of people whose lives God had changed and redeemed, and the results of His work in their lives.

We had lots of Haitian kids in attendance, too, and *gasp*--none of them really liked the food! To me it was like eating ambrosia and the elixir of the gods. Never has American food tasted so good. Our menu might not look that amazing to you, but all those "normal" dishes were such an incredible treat to us, they might as well have been served at the White House.

Thank you, God, for all of your many blessings to us this year!

~ ~ ~

Let me recount:

This time last year I was in Spain, serving in Betel. Thanksgiving Day, I worked in the church, and I remember saying, "Happy Thanksgiving" to some of the Americans there, and they all did a double take, like, "Oh,'s Thanksgiving, isn't it?"

I served in the jolly, happy house in Azuqueca for about three months, and went to England in February, where I served for about three more months in Betel.

I came home and spent about a month at home, recharging from my experience and absolutely loving being with my family.

I went to Ellerslie and spent 9 weeks there.

I went home and spent just less than a month, a brilliant, delicious month of time with my family.

And then I went to Haiti.

Last Thanksgiving, if you had pulled aside the veil of the future and revealed me in Haiti "on this day, one year later," I would never have believed you for a minute.

But look at the way God has led, directed, and opened doors! It is incredible! It is fabulous! All the way, I was led just to the brink of the end of the current step before I could see the next step. But God's hand of blessing has been so evident on every bit of it. I am in the grand adventure--not just a wannabe bystander watching the current flow by. I am living, breathing, and sleeping it. It is marvelous! Praise God for His abundant direction and provision!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Glimpse of the market

Usually we drive by the market on motos. We whisk through and never have a chance to interact with people. But the other day, an American we know offered us a ride to the creche in his car, and on the way he stopped in the market to buy some watermelons and bananas. This is what ensued (viewing from the back of the car).

It still amazes me how exciting it can be to just pick up fruit at the local market.

Friday, November 16, 2012

More Haitian Food

Beans and Rice

Cornmeal mush with black bean sauce and onions
Beans and rice with spicy fish

Cornmeal and beans with sauteed vegetables and beef

Beans and rice with chicken

Cornmeal and beans with smoked fish

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, Haitian style

Cheese and Pineapple pizza from the snack bar--totally NOT Haitian

Breakfast at the Club Indigo buffet--what a treat!
You might also enjoy...
Haitian Food
The Cost of Food

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dusty Roads

Dusty dirt road through the banana fields

During Hurricane Sandy, the bridge on the highway between here and Port-Au-Prince got damaged, and it has been closed ever since. That used to be the only way to get to Port-Au-Prince from here, but recently they constructed a provisional bridge on a detour route.

We were on the way to the airport to drop some people off, and I had requested to go along. It was my first time back to Port-Au-Prince since I got to Haiti, and I wanted to see if everything en route was still as shocking as I found it to be when I first got here. It wasn't. But I'm still not used to the way everything turns into an adventure, even a "routine" airport run.

We got in the tap-tap at 6:30 and headed off. When we got to the turn-off for the detour, we noticed a bunch of people milling around like something was happening. All the buses, semi trucks, dump trucks, and tap-taps were pulled over to the side of the road, and their passengers were sitting on the curb, waiting. The local residents were all standing in little groups, talking excitedly and gesturing.

Someone told our tap-tap driver that the road was blocked up ahead and that no one could get through because there was a manifestation going on. The residents along the detour route were fed up with all the dust that the heavy traffic created, so we were told they had blocked the bridge and overturned a bus in the road and that there were people demonstrating in the street so no one could get through.

Our tap-tap pulled over to the side of the road and turned off the engine. Our translator, Jack, came out to tell us what was going on and explain what our options were for getting to the airport on time. We were trying to make it there for a 10:15 am flight.

"You can wait for the police to clear the demonstration and then see if you can drive through," Jack said, "Or you can walk down this road, take a moto to a footbridge, walk across with your luggage, and take another tap-tap on the other side the rest of the way to the airport."

We considered both of those options and neither of them looked good. Waiting for the demonstration to clear could take hours--or days. We saw one police car drive in to the scene of the manifestation. The people on the street laughed. What could so few police do against an entire angry mob? We didn't expect there was any way for that to happen.

On the other hand, walking across the footbridge with large pieces of luggage did not seem to be the safest option. There were a lot of angry people around. Jack said this was a dangerous area. We were white, and most of us were women. Our bags were huge. We would be obvious targets for robbery.

I prayed a short prayer for God's blessing and direction, and I ended with the request, "Please open the way so that we can get to the airport in time to catch the flights." But even as I said it, I realized that I didn't really have the faith to expect that we could do it. It seemed impossible.

We started talking about trying to re-book the flights for the next day. Jack's friend, Jimmy, said there was another road, but it would take longer than three hours to get to the airport by that way, which was all the time we had at this point. It was another loop that would take us all the way back up through Saint Mark and around to the north.

Jack went to see if he could negotiate a good rate for a tap-tap in case we should decide to walk across the footbridge. He came back almost immediately, however, saying that it was not a good time to try to cross, because there were too many people trying to cross to get to school on the other side of the river. Maybe if we waited for 15 minutes and tried again, he said, it would be safer.

We called one of our staff members in the US and asked her about changing the flights. She said it would be better to try one of the other options. We would wait 15 minutes and check the footbridge again. If that still wasn't an option, then we would wait for the manifestation to clear for as long as we possibly could until there would be no way to make it to the airport on time. In that case, we would try to re-book the flights.

One of the guys led in prayer again, asking for wisdom and direction. I had the confidence that God was going to lead through whatever decision the guys made.

Jimmy came up and said, "I don't think there's any use waiting for the demonstration to clear, because they're saying now that the people have torn up the bridge completely."

We got a call from our stateside staff member, who had talked to someone else, who said they do this all the time, and she always gets through. She said we should just drive up to where the crowd is, find out who the leaders are, and bribe them with $20 to let us through. We were talking to Jack, asking him if he could negotiate this for us, when suddenly someone came up to our tap-tap driver and reported that the demonstration was cleared. Just then, all the trucks roared to life and started going down the road, so we did, too.

How reliable is information that you get from the street? First we hear that they've overturned a bus in the road, then we hear that the bridge is dismantled, and then the news comes that it's open? Quite the telephone game happening here.

When I see this picture, I do a double take. "This where I live!?"

We went on to the bridge, and it was indeed open, lined with heavily-armed police on both sides. They were directing traffic across the one-lane bridge, letting 10 cars or so across at a time in each direction. We got across!
Photo of the bridge from our way home from the airport. The police were gone by this point.

It was obvious why the people disliked the dust. The dirt road had kicked up so much that the banana leaves looked tan rather than green. But I still don't understand the Haitian mindset. It looks to me like they want to stop the problem via destruction rather than productivity. "We don't like the traffic, so let's destroy the bridge," seems to be the prevailing notion. Why? Why not demonstrate to make them pave the road, for instance? There would be ways to do that--wouldn't there?

Can a plant even do photosynthesis when it is caked with this much dust?

Just past the bridge, someone in the tap-tap said something like "Water is coming."

"Water is coming?" we thought.

Then we saw it: a huge truck with a tank of water, spraying it out in a horizontal jet, right at the level of the tap-tap's open sides. The girls all fled to the opposite side of the tap-tap as the water sprayed in, and then had to sit back down on a wet seat. Ahh, the adventure. But at least they were doing something about the dust problem.

How would you like it if this was your house, this close to the road? 
Just from breathing the air through that one trip to the airport and back, the inside of my nose and my respiratory passages were caked with dust, and it took a few days to really completely clear it out. What if I had to breathe that all the time? My hair was caked with dust when I got home. What if I didn't have a shower, or water to take one? The truth is, Haitian people put up with a lot more hardship than most people even know about.

And we made it to the airport on time! Praise the Lord! God answers prayer! Even when you don't have the faith to believe that He will do what you ask, hey, you have nothing to lose by asking! Who knows if he might just show off a bit to bless you and increase your faith?

Port-Au-Prince Toussaint Louverture International Airport (PAP)

Friday, November 9, 2012

My students

Here are all the precious children that I work with every day! (Click on the picture to enlarge.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hunter update

Ahh, this child with outstanding personality, humongous special needs, and incredible patience in the midst of difficulty. 

He and I have such good times together. I take him and snuggle him and we go on little walks. I say the alphabet to him and he echoes me--more or less precisely--while he looks at the sign-language letter that I make with my hand.

But he has slowly been getting weaker. He used to be able to sit up in a chair while he ate his meals, and lately he has been unable to do that. He slumps more limply in my arms when I carry him, and the skin on his thighs has begun to hang in loose wrinkles.

Also, his hands are still pitiful, and they seem to be getting worse.

I think it's a combination of scabies and hand, foot, & mouth disease, compounded by the fact that his leukemia and HIV have left him with practically no immune system, and exacerbated by the way he constantly chews on his hands.

I showed his hands to the nurse and she cleaned them really well with hydrogen peroxide, iodine, and neosporin. He screamed and writhed while they were dressing his hand, but it was so necessary, I could not help but rejoice that finally his hands were getting some help. 

It made me wonder--how many times do I scream when God is cleaning up something rotten in my life? How many times do I writhe and try to flee from under His restraining hand? How many times do I doubt His love? But if I could only see how necessary it was, if I could only know how it was poisoning me to let it continue, I would know that it was precisely because of His love that He performs the painful surgery. 

The nurse has been dressing his hand every day since then, so he now has a fat white bandage around his left hand. Good thing, because it keeps it out of his mouth. 

• • •

A large mission team came to volunteer at the creche this week, and I was talking to one of the team members. We walked by Hunter's crib and I was bragging on him to her about how lovable he is, how he can repeat words you say, and how he constantly has a good attitude despite his health problems. 

We were standing there loving on him when a couple of other people walked by. 

"Oh, isn't that the one who only has a month to live?" one of them said. 

I froze. 

A month to live? 

"Is that what they told you?" I asked. 

"Yeah, when we had the tour, they told us that he only has about a month left," he said. 

"Oh," I faltered. I could see that he was unaware of the effect his words were having on me. He did not realize that they came across as callous and unfeeling. How could he know?

"Oh. Well, I'm glad you told me that because...I love him..."

I was choking back tears now. I struggled to maintain my composure. I took a deep breath. 

"So..." I continued, "that'll just give me time to prepare my heart."

He walked on, probably unaware of the blow that I had received. 

• • •

If it's only a month now, I will treasure it.