Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Tomorrow morning, early, I'm heading back to Haiti for a visit. It will be short. Not even a month. My friend Holly is coming with me to the mission and then we'll do a wee vacation next door (D.R.) and after that more time at the mission, time with the UB team when they arrive on the 17th, and then back to Mission of Hope. I just know it will all seem too short.

However, I'm also sure I'll be ready to see family and friends again afterwards.

I know this because of how I have been feeling the past two months.

When I stop and think of each dear one who has blessed me with a smile, encouragement, inquiry, prayer, email, hug, gift of time or any other treasure... Well, I find myself overwhelmed.

To be loved is a gift. To be loved as Christ loves... what can I say? I hope, and pray to Him, that I can love you like you love me, dear ones.

 

 2 Corinthians 3 (from The Message)

 3 Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God's living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.



Monday, 26 September 2011

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

On Changes

Change is.
Change is coming. It's a little unclear how it'll come together. God knows and that's enough for now.
I changed up the look of this blog again (I can't help but comment on it - I'm compelled to do so and may always be). In retrospect, and after discussion with a friend, the eggs have connections beyond my initial meaning.
My friend wondered if they were a throw back reference to Madam Poul, my flighty ex-office assistant.
Then there's the old saying 'gotta break a few eggs to make an omlette' which is not entirely off-base in my life at the moment. I'm not breaking a bunch of eggs so much as anticipating a great spread... which means that, in the end, the eggs will have to break.
Also, I do love breakfast.
Then I find myself wondering if it isn't that I've been doing baking again. Wow I love making cakes and cookies and other lovely sweet things that require eggs.
And then there's the fact that I just love the look of eggs. So aesthetically pleasing. Brown ones, white ones. They're pretty.
So, whatever the reason, the look is changed and may or may not hold deep or shallow meaning.
Enjoy :D

Monday, 12 September 2011

35

Memory is funny. It's something that is based, maybe, on facts or events but that often has very little to do with what literally happened. More so, I think, it is about experience of an event or even a perception of an experience of the thing that 'happened'.
Our brains are pretty amazing.
I was talking to Noah (now 2 years and 2 months old) the other day and asked him if he remembered something we did last month. He thought about it for a moment, his eyes moved up and to the side (the way they do when we're trying to remember), and said that yes, he did remember that thing we did.
This pleased me to no end because when I first came back from Haiti he seemed a little unsure of his past experiences of being with me. I left when he was 1.5 yrs and returned when he was 2. Totally normal and expected, but doesn't make an aunt feel great. Now, just a few weeks later, we have shared times together and played together enough that I'm an active part of his memories. Our relationship is growing again with our shared experiences.
This thinking back and remembering that he did in order to find me in those imprints in his lovely brain also touched me emotionally. Maybe it sounds goofy, but I now have a memory of him remembering me and that memory is full of my feelings of joy and affection and connection to him. I love that.
I think that how we remember each other and ourselves is a very interesting thing. Imagine if you only had factual memories. If you couldn't connect emotions with events or people or with yourself - How would that colour your memory? Your experience of living? 
Some people do live life that way - productive important rich lives - but that's not me.
My life is coloured by emotion. Like brightly coloured threads running everywhere, woven together, connected and related but also separate that tell the story of thirty five years of experiences. Thirty five years of relationships. Thirty five years of colour. Thirty five years of life.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Joy! and Kevin!

A couple of weeks ago a dear friend from university wed her lovely chosen one.
It was a great celebration (the most kid-friendly wedding I've ever attended, bless them), and such a great time of catching up with my old IV pals.
It is really a precious thing to have friends over the years. To walk together, closely or at arm's length, through relationships, marriages, children, jobs, whatever... Such a gift.
A big part of the old gang. I sound like I'm 75.
Anyhow, Joy is in the middle, in her stunning red reception dress, holding the hand of her beloved new husband, Kevin. So sweet!
We did really miss Kayreen - who had to cancel last minute due to Dengue (she's doing well but you could go a head and pray for continued recovery for her).

Thursday, 1 September 2011

remove outward expectations

One of the daily devotional thoughts sent out by Relevant Magazine's Deeper Walk:

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

By Cameron Lawrence


"In their hearts human beings plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps."
  Proverbs 16:9 TNIV


FROM A YOUNG AGE, we're taught that leaving is a necessity of sorts. Some of us leave for education, others for fortune, some to escape. One of the problems with such devotion to movement is that stillness, by default, amounts to failure. But as we wander, we are increasingly cut off from this thing we deeply need: a spiritual home. It's this connection that gives us not only identity but purpose. It's how we discover calling and find fulfillment in the gifts God gives us. The wholeness of our community depends on it. And we depend on the wholeness of our community. Of course, this discussion would be incomplete without acknowledging that sometimes, God calls us to leave.
So what does this mean for you? Perhaps you need to ask yourself: Are you willing? Are you willing to stay, if that's what God has for you? Wherever God has you, wherever He leads, give yourself to knowing the place and belong to it; love and serve it. It's hard work. But if you'll be fully present where you are, in all you do, you just might find what you've been looking for all along.


When you remove outward expectations, do you feel God has called you to stay where you are, or preparing you to move?

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Lights me up...

Found this and began to float a little. It's from John Piper and if you have 4 minutes I highly recommend:
God is not boring.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Filling in the blanks... this one's long, look out.

I've been back 3 weeks now and have been avoiding writing an update quite successfully by filling my time with family and friends and foods I've missed.
Today is the day to write something.
It's funny how you know there are lots of things to say but you really don't know what to say or where to start. It seems like many want to hear a synopsis of sorts. How was it? Was it good? Did things work out? These are good questions but the answers, I'm finding, tend to cause my face to contort into 12 expressions before I settle on "good and hard", "yes and no", or "not exactly..." I struggle, as do most (I'm told), to know if the listener really wants a quick and succinct answer to something that is difficult to explain quickly and causes my brain to wobble.
I have to be honest, sometimes I just give the answer I think people want in order to see if they notice that I've just said what they wanted to hear. I'll also be honest that I've been on the other side of that... with people I don't know well, but do have care for, it's easier to let them give an easy answer.
Understand, none of this is complaining. I can appreciate how these things work and need to work. What exactly to share, how to do it, for how long... decisions made in an instant between partners in a conversation who both have their own perspectives and goals for the conversation. That's how communication is I think.
So why write all this preamble? Especially since I've, in the past, gotten feedback that my updates are too long? Maybe avoidance of trying to describe the last six months. Maybe avoidance of cleaning the house. Maybe something else I'm not conscious of.... but my point stands: However I 'update', it will answer too many or not enough questions. So I guess you'll just have to skip the rest and avoid asking in person... or hunt me down for a face to face (with questions in hand on colour coded 3x5's).

My time in Haiti ended in a beautiful sad way with celebrations and goodbyes. Dance parties with kids, lunches out with friends, kickboxing til my final morning there, well-wishes, questions of when I'll be back again, a million hugs, my initials carved into haircuts, giving stuff away... all the regular things...
I would say that my goals before going to Haiti were not met in terms of therapeutic work. I would also say that my goals were narrow, culturally ignorant and/or misinformed, and made huge assumptions. What did I accomplish professionally and therapeutically? A relational foundation with many of the children at the orphanage as well as a number of North American staff and volunteers - a foundation that translated into a good deal of emotional/psychological/relational support for those I was in relationship with. I also began to understand this new culture and people and language (began). And then there was the vision God planted in me to see greater and more appropriate work in the future... but wait, I'll get to that.
Coming home has been difficult. I was ready for a break and really wanted to see my family and friends and maybe even be cold sometimes (mission accomplished there!). But leaving ones you love so very dearly is difficult. And coming home to a place that just doesn't feel like home in the same way... it leaves you wondering where home actually is and what it actually looks like. And when you will be there -- or at least feel like it. How's that for a description?
At the moment I'm taking it pretty easy. Not doing any counselling at all. Getting back into baking and cooking a bit. Looking for ways to make some spending money. (Anyone want to order baked goods?) Enjoying friends and family and my home church again (missed them so much!). And trying to pray about the future.
Ok you've waited a whole 13 sentences. The future is unknown. I'm so (tongue-in-cheek) philosophical. The gist of it is that I can do whatever I believe the Lord is leading me towards. Return to my previous work (God bless By Peaceful Waters), start something new, go somewhere else, or return to Haiti and MOH.
The vision I mentioned has to do with a greater long-term work at the mission. I believe God's hand is on that place and these times are so exciting to be witnessing what is happening there in every area of the ministry. In my work and time and relationship with the children it became clear to me that, in Haiti, these kids have extreme advantages. They have more clothes and toys and food than most of their national peers. They are protected in a community that values them and has security guards. They have sports facilities at their doorstep. They have Spiritual leadership and instruction. They have medical attention available almost 24/7. They are being educated in a top-notch school (check out the School of Hope ratings sometime). They have opportunity to socialize and work with people from other countries. They are involved in volunteering and ministry opportunities at such an early age... so many advantages (for updates on the mission from dental work to home building to their ace school program, check out the MOH blog www.mohhaiti.org/blog/ to which all of the in-Haiti staff contribute)!
MOH back in March/April, their response was: Well, write us a proposal on how to do that.
So I did. I finished it and gave it to them thinking they would point out what needed changed, what didn't make sense, brainstorm who could do it, maybe ask me to be involved...
Nope. All the honchos gave it 'two-thumbs-up' and then asked me to do it.
I was torn. Actually still am. The thing is that I've never done anything like this before... well, the thing really is that it's another 1 to 2 year commitment... well, the thing really really is that I want God to ring my doorbell and say, as I open the door, "Kara-Lynn! Gosh, I love you so much! Here's what I'd like you to do next:...!" (obviously He needs to fill in the blank).
I met with my Art Therapy Supervisor last week and she gave me advice which I really value: "Listen to what your head, your heart and your gut are saying and not saying.  All three need to be in alignment regarding the response or decision." She also said (along with my family, mentor, friends and own heart) to take time with this decision.
I don't believe that any of my options are wrong or dishonouring to God. I believe I need to choose and take action. I would so appreciate your prayers about this. In a sense, this six-month commitment is not over and your support is important and valuable to me right now... perhaps more than ever... but that may be the 'now' talking.
I'm going to pray the same for you too: that your head, heart and gut are in alignment - that we're all lined up under the Father, aiming to be more like Christ, and filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit.

with love and blanks...,
Kara-Lynn

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Kickboxing

The last few months at MOH were interesting. As the temperatures rose a small group of women became more and more committed to getting up for an hour of kickboxing at 5:30 a.m. Interesting.
I'm finding it quite difficult to have the same consistency and level of sweat that was experienced in Haiti. I find if I go outside on our deck here late morning and work really hard... I'll sweat a bit. It actually seems strange to me how my muscles can be so sore and tired but my clothes are barely damp.
Also, and this surprises me, I really miss the bag. Punching the air is fine, but punching (and kicking) the bag is so satisfying.
Interesting.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Black Eyed Peas

Ok, so you know how sometimes you don't like something but then, with time, that thing grows on you?
That's what has happened with me and The Black Eyed Peas.
I remember being in school in Toronto in the 90's (I know, I know) and seeing these big posters of question marks around the city. The BEPs were coming into the pop-music scene and probably had a tour date in Toronto and so were advertising for their "Where is the Love" album. I recall liking that song, Where is the Love, and how they sing questions about what's wrong with the world and people and how we need to be loving each other. Now they sing about other stuff that just hasn't inspired me the same way.
There are, however, some pretty serious BEP fans here at MOH and I've been hearing a lot of their songs on a frequent basis (especially at kickboxing) and, I have to admit, their beats have grown on me. Sorry Megan Fockler, but it's true. I often find myself humming one of their catchy lines. And it doesn't bother me one bit.
Something I find interesting, however, is that the song that still has most impressed itself upon me is that first one that asks the question: Where Is The Love?
And I've been thinking about this and I think a better or different song worth singing would ask the question Where is the Hope?
I was chatting with a friend here yesterday who is really struggling. My friend told me that one of the difficult things to deal with is the realization that to get ahead at all - to move forward at all - there is dependence on others for help. When faced with this my friend feels shame that is crippling and causes anger. My friend does not see a way and my friend can only hope in the Lord - there is literally nothing else.
If you knew that when you helped your friend get ahead, even in a small way, it would cause shame - what would you do?

Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Office: an Update

My office is no longer haunted by Madam Poul. The insertion of some linen in the space above my door blocked her from entry. Apparently she moved to the next room where visiting groups stay. We've heard from some individuals that they regularly find eggs on their pillows. They say they have to throw out at least an egg a day… I say waste not - let's have omelettes!
The office, while beginning to feel comfortable, was crowded with the large room occupied by 5 big bunk-beds… so we’ve found another home
I’ve moved from the blue building to the purple building. I consider it a definite move up in terms of quality of office. The interior is a bright pink. I deeply appreciate that it is not a bubble gum pink (personal preference). Plus there are no bunk-beds. Obviously moving up in the orphanage!


My amazing helpers. They helped me with my big clean up this week.
 So if you come to Hope Village in the late morning or throughout the afternoon, come to room 17 in the purple building to say ‘Hi’ we love visitors.


:D

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Community Health

Last week I completed my contribution to the Community Health Program here at MOH.
I had been asked to do some simple drawings for the teaching module for use with the Haitian health educators as well as for the educators to use within the communities where they will be teaching about health and disease prevention.
You may be wondering what kind of drawings would be needed for a program such as this. Well, let me tell you, they were not like any drawings I'd ever done before. I have now drawn men pooping both on dry and wet land, children sitting in their own diarrhea, dehydrated babies, animals spreading feces, families with illnesses, food infested with insects and more.
Below are two less graphic illustrations to be used to spur on discussion about penning animals:
Wandering Pig.
Where's he been? We don't know!
What did he do there? How can we tell?
Where's he going? Wherever he wants!

Penned Pig.
Pretty sure we're all feeling just a little bit safer.
Even the pig.
*okay, they may not use my script for the teaching...

Friday, 27 May 2011

Babies!

Toddlers, actually.

Being away from my nephew Noah has been the most difficult part of being in Haiti. The last many many months of his life, before I came to MOH, I spent 2 or 3 days a month with him. Just the two of us building our relationship and bond. It is amazing to chat with people online, to Skype, to email, to text even. Noah's not so into those things though. He will be two in July and I will miss his birthday and that already feels like a roundhouse to my left kidney (I've been doing kickboxing here... which may merit another post).
I can not replace that missed time with Noah but I can at least be distracted by the 5 babies here. I say babies because they're still in the baby group room, but really they are toddlers. And they are amazing and crazy and full of joy and strong opinions and they are starting to have things to say!
It seems like everyone here does a blog post at some point about the babies. I guess it's unavoidable!
Each one has a different story, well, except for the twins - their story is very similar... but I'll get to that.
Pierre is a boy who is maybe 3... we're not sure as he was left here over a year ago. If I am recalling info correctly (as a disclaimer, the following facts are to my best knowledge and with a heart of love for these kids) he was abandoned at the mission following the earthquake. Angelie was also left at our gate after Jan 12/10. Pierre's age is not known as he is very underdeveloped in pretty much every area. We guess that he is 3 or more by the full set of teeth he has. He has cysts in his brain that have prevented brain development and prevented growth. His body is frail, his immune system is very weak, and he has difficulty even holding his head up. When I first came in January Pierre would lay around all day. He was in a crib or in the arms of adults or older children, but he just lay there on his back, waving arms or legs awkwardly. Currently, with the love and attention of dozens of Haitians and North Americans Pierre is longer and stronger. His grip has improved, he can be propped up in a seated position and hold his head up for short amounts of time, he is more responsive to facial expressions and touch, and last week I saw him wave - back! He was laying in church and one of his Mommies was waving at him and Pierre waved back at her. It's now my most favourite game. He will likely never walk, be toilet-trained or have a converstaion. He will likely need to be fed, transported, cared for as an infant for the rest of his life. He is a boy who brings such joy to others, including his siblings in the baby room. They call him Ti Pye (little Pierre) and they love him to bits - like the rest of us.
Angelie, as I mentioned, was also abandoned here after the earthquake. She is probably 2 and is the craziest baby of all. She could not walk when she arrived but had learned to scoot herself around on the floor in a seated position, legs out in front. She started to walk just before I came in January, but, at the time, still preferred the scoot. She now, with her wee bowed legs, runs around with the rest of the babies. She is the biggest, a fact I realized in church when she fell asleep in my arms during worship (Haitian babies sleep through anything). She enjoys singing anything, including Justin Bieber's 'baby, baby, baby, ooooooooh'! and has the best laugh.
Matthew is a boy of maybe 2.5 years. He was brought from another nearby orphanage when some American MOH supporters were touring local ministries. They found him in a corner of the orphanage nearly dead and brought him here. He is now healthy, strong, sometimes bossy, often hilarious with his little jokes, and has the most developed vocabulary. He says my name without missing a beat when we ask him to - and lots of adults struggle to say my name here.
That leaves the twins: Jeremiah and Hannah. These are two more miracle babies. They're the youngest at almost 2 years and have been here almost from birth. Their story is amazing and heart breaking as they were born to a very young mother who refused to care for them and made it difficult for the mission to officially bring them into the orphanage, but they came and were named and are now chubby, joyful, healthy little 'nugs' as my friend Abby calls them.
I could go on about all of these sweet babes, but I'll leave it at that for today and just give you some snaps.

Hannah and Pierre

Clockwise from rear left: Angelie, Jeremiah, Matthew, Hannah

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

2 Things

1. She came back. Jeff removed her and I'm working on a chicken-proofing plan. Adding this photo is against my better judgement but if it placates her, maybe she'll get out of my hair...

2. Decided to white-wash the blog... it felt cluttered. One can't wear the same thing for ever.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

An Office!

OK, I have to preface this post with the following: IT WILL BE DISGUSTING. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO READ ABOUT YUCKY STUFF, THEN DON'T READ THIS POST.
Seriously.
I wanted to share about my new office space the minute I was told I it was mine (except for 2 weeks in May when I will have to move out and let some team use it to sleep because we are overbooked - sigh of frustration here).
Previously I had been meeting with young people in Rachel's office or in Abby's classroom (whichever was free at the time I needed it). Things here require lots of adaptation on a daily basis.
Anyhow, I was told 2 weeks ago I could finally start to use my office. Unfortunately, there was no key for the lock on the door so I waited another week for a new lock and then, in the middle of last week, began moving stuff into the room.
I had gone in the week before to clean the washroom, sweep the floors, re-arrange the bulky bunk beds that have to remain there until after May. It was dusty but not so bad. In the washroom I found a chicken who seems to enjoy room 14. She has been known to lay eggs on the beds. I decided she would make a suitable secretary.
I was given the new key to room 14 and excitedly gathered my first load of art supplies for the office. As happens in an area with any of 61 kids wandering around, I quickly had some helpers who wanted to carry items to the new office. We opened the door and found a pile of animal poop. Rotting in the heat as though it had been there a while.
Please note the stain from liquid run-off. This will help you to imagine the smell of this welcoming sight.
I remember thinking wow, this poop smells really bad. Almost like a dead animal. Then I remembered Mdme Poul, my creepy washroom secretary, and went to look for her. She was sitting on her shelf, looking, frankly, quite stupid, and on the floor below were the remains of 3 eggs that she had, I can only surmise, laid and then let roll off the shelf. Another layer of the odor in the office.

I recall thinking wow, it smells like a sketchy dairy aisle... but somehow worse... and not just because I could still smell poop.
By this time the kids were squealing and laughing at the discoveries. I was deep in thought, formulating a plan of action that included firing Mdme Poul, when, as I walked back into the main area in the room, I sensed an intense cloud of decay. I was pretty much right between the washroom and the entrance, smack in the middle of rotten eggs and nasty poop... but the air was just a little bit thicker in a way that eggs and feces just don't add up to. For some reason, probably the Spirit's leading, I thought to look under the shelves in the main room. And that's where I found it, deep in the darkest corner of the room, lifeless in the shadows, a dead rat.
Now I'm going to post a picture of the rat. It is still in the trap and doesn't look too big in the photo. Using a broom one of the girls got it outside and that's where I took the picture, so you could get a better sense of the decay. You're welcome. Keep in mind that the rat trap is as big as my shoe - it's not little like a mouse trap.
What you can't see in this photo are the tufts of fur that were scattered around the rat under the shelves. Many thanks to our plentiful ants who will, within minutes, find anything dead and begin to disassemble it - promoting the decay process. Apparently they don't want the fur, and so leave it behind, scattered around the carcass.
And so, that is how my move into my new office began. Under the heavy cover of stank, and with the trills of kids (me included) losing it at each new discovery of grossness, I began my move in :)

A couple of end notes:
- Photos were taken on my blackberry and so have lower resolution. You're welcome again.
- I hired 7 kids for 4 candies a piece to do the cleaning (those who followed through got 6 candies each). It's true, labour is one of Haiti's greatest resources.
- Mdme Poul was removed by brave, but slightly nauseous (note the face covering), Monsado using a Mickey Mouse sheet. Apparently she belongs to Jeanson. She was asked not to return to the office. We will have her belongings sent to her new address. I considered adding a photo of her but decided not to give her the satisfaction.

*this post is dedicated to Jenn Mitchell. Jenn, please use your considerable library on poop to help us determine who left the 'gift' - if possible. Keep in mind we have many wandering goats and dogs around the orphanage. I know because they, and the roosters, yell at each other all night.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Another Stamp on the Passport of Reality (quite possibly the lamest blog title ever - You're Welcome!)

A couple of weeks ago I planned and executed a solo expedition to the wild and unpredictable land next door.
I took a bus to the Dominican Republic.
It was an adventure and I definitely added a lot more bullet points to my list of "Rookie Mistakes" (to be embarassingly published at a later date, I suspect), but it was a good time and a good thing for me to do.
I won't go into all the ups and downs of the trip, but I will say that I found the Dominican people to be exceedingly patient, kind and generous. I used the phones of 3 strangers in the first day of my trip and none of them wanted to be reimbursed for used minutes. I don't speak Spanish and almost everyone I met had no English, yet I enjoyed multiple interactions with people I met.
I was there to visit 2 friends (one planned visit didn't work out), but also to visit the countryside of the Island of Hispaniola. I saw a lot of the country, many towns and some of Santo Domingo from my bus. I landed in a town called Higuey for a couple of nights and saw a few things like:La Basilica de Higuey Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia (a church and shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary), and met Haitian children begging for pesos in the streets. I had fresh fruit and juice and burritos and even a Domino's calzone. It was just good to get away for a bit. To have time alone to reflect, to pause and listen to what's been running around in my head these last many weeks, to sort out those racing thoughts, and then to return to MOH having had an experience separate from what is happening here - and there is always a lot happening here.
This week I've been house-sitting for a family who live at MOH full-time. The Van Der Mark's (there should be a link to their blog in the column to the right) went on their yearly vacation to the Dominican Republic. It's been kind of surreal to stay in their house because it's actually like a house. It has a kitchen and living room with appliances and couches and televisions. It has bedrooms without bunk beds and washrooms with hot water and without a million mosquitoes or a family of mice, and a washing machine(!), and power all the time. It's quite luxurious actually. I'm anticipating it will be difficult to move back down to my mosquito-netted bunk in the room without floor to ceiling walls, where there is zero silence (seriously, if the noise ever stops there, between the 61 kids and teams living in Hope Village and the dogs that howl at night and roosters that crow any hour of the day or night and the giant generator that powers this place roaring in a nearby building... well, I'd worry that I'd missed the Rapture or something!). It has been like a mini-vacation while staying on campus. A break from reality.
I'm not sure if you've had this experience before, a break from reality is often a good thing spiced with a little not-so-good. I'm going to have to fight again for quiet and peace, but there have been a bunch of days together where it's been easy to access those things - so maybe it will be easier...
I think life should be sprinkled with little escapes from our regular life, time-outs from our realities, alternate endings of our usual days. I hope we don't have to fight too hard for them because they are refreshing and have such potential to help us re-set for getting back to all that's waiting to be done - and there is much to do!
Working to do it well and praying you are too, KL

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Roomies!

Just wanted to introduce you to the lovely ladies I share a room and loo with:
Abby and a puppy -- "It's so FLUFFY!"

Abby is from Jacksonville, Florida and teaches English to the Hope Village Kids and Mommies. She also works with the ladies at *3**Cords (see new link at right), and is developing a Young Life program here at MOH.

Clockwise from top left: Star, KL, Megan, Blaire

Star is from Witchita, Kansas and is part of the team who takes care of and leads the groups of North Americans who come to work here for a week or two at a time.
Blaire is from North Carolina and also helps with the groups.
Megan is from Toronto and is a Nurse who is finishing up her Master's in Community Health. She's been writing the curriculum for the MOH Community Health program while she's been here. Sadly she leaves on the 22nd of March.

Those are the girls I live with!
:)

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

DUSTEEE

It's amazing what you can find when you venture out of this dry and dusty area here in Titanyen.
Saturday morning I went to church with the Hope Village Kids and Rachel and Abby. To be quite honest, it wasn't the best service. There was a kind of unnatural feeling of chaos in the place. Usually the worship, while often seeming chaotic, is actually beautifully covered in a sense of joy and the praises are sweet and overflowing with the Holy Spirit - living water in action: singing, dancing, clapping, shouts of praise. But last Saturday felt somehow dry.
Maybe it was just me. Maybe I was in a stuck or dry place.
Anyhow, after church we walked up for lunch and then a group of North Americans on a team were heading into the mountains to a place called Saut Deau. There is a waterfall there and teams are often taken up to enjoy the place.
When I was invited to join I turned the offer down - I was feeling tired and maybe stuck in that dry place mentally - but one of my roommates persisted (Megan is a gift to me!) and I decided to go with them.
It was about an hour's ride in the back of a canter truck (picture a cube truck or small U-haul with a screen door on the back... for air flow) up into the mountains. UP in to the mountains.
Did I mention how dry and dusty it is here?
After about 15 minutes I tied a towel around my face to shield me from the dust. I was sitting at the very back of the truck so that I could keep an eye on the horizon and try to prevent motion sickness. The result was a fine coating of Haitian dust on every exposed area. Even the inside of my sunglasses needed to be wiped off every 20 minutes or so in order to see anything.
But see things I did. Though the road remained dry and dusty, the landscape began to change. Lush growth covers much of the mountain areas. Farmers are working successful crops. Small villages and towns were active with children playing, women chatting together or doing laundry, men walking around town or working on projects at their homes. There were big shade trees, fields of sugar cane, cattle and horses here and there.
The air changed too.
And when we got out of the truck and paid our $1 and walked down some stairs to behold a hidden waterfall... Well, despite my coating of dust, I didn't feel so dry anymore.
It's easy to think of this land as desolate and barren and desperate and dry. But it wasn't always and this waterfall in Saut Deau is, I think, a glimmer of what this land used to be. It reminded me as well of the hope in God's promise of restoration. Restoration of dry and dusty and barren and desolate lands, okay, but of our desperate souls even more so.
Lush Mountain Vista


Maria's Dusty Braids...
It was a beautiful walk up around and along the water.

Old Lady Hair & a Beautiful Waterfall


Covered up on the way back to MOH... lesson learned :)
 Blessings from a dry and dusty and lush and lovely land!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Two Weeks In

It's been a very interesting two weeks, and I've got many, many things to share, many, many thoughts to express, many, many gifts and blessings to appreciate and praise God for. (Many, many is something my nephew says and it's not strange to hear the Kreyol equivalent around here: "Anpil, anpil"). But there is a risk of boring a few of you (you know who you are) with a long post, so I'll be brief-ish and save the rest for another day :)

The other afternoon I came up to Rachel's (the director of the orphanage and my supervisor) apartment to find her re-wrapping the arm of one of the Hope Village girls. The girl had been riding one of those wiggly car things (like they have at Chapters in the children's' section - you sit on them and wiggle to make them go - those things are super cool and can turn on a dime!). This girl had been riding where she shouldn't have - down a sloped sidewalk that ended in stairs. The result of the ride was a broken bone in her arm. That was last week. This day Rachel was wrapping her arm up because the girl had decided the cast was inconvenient and had taken it off (the way a cast works here is a bit different, it's more like a splint and not so permanent). The girl was annoyed that she was being restricted by this contraption again, but she submitted to Rachel's care.

As soon as Rachel finished this task, another couple of Hope Village kids arrived with an issue that required a cold compress. That taken care of, another boy arrived with complaints of sores on his hands (I found out that he gets infections that often result in sores on his skin - he doesn't have HIV, they wonder about some kind of poorly treated infection from before he came to the orphanage as a toddler because he always gets these sores). He was crying about the intended treatment (to prick the blisters on the sores) and I found myself overwhelmed by this picture of 6 kids standing around the boy and Rachel, encouraging him to listen to her, to mind her. This picture of family, with Rachel mothering the little group and all their bumps and bruises, brought me to tears.

This is a big place and there are literally thousands of people who come through the gates every day. Teams, usually from North America, arrive every Wednesday and Saturday to do all kinds of construction, medical and evangelistic work on the campus and in the surrounding communities. There are many, many Haitian workers who come to the campus to work - there are a lot of projects on the site (the building of the new two-storey guest house, a giant warehouse, the expansion of the clinic into a hospital with an E.R.) - and there are many other indigenous workers at other locations nearby (a project to build houses in a nearby town, for example). There is a LOT of activity here every single day. That's not even including all the church activities on the weekends and some week nights... OR the thousands of children who attend the school on the property (they added afternoon school after the earthquake to accommodate all the children from the tent communities in the surrounding area - families who left Port-Au-Prince).

And in the middle of it all sits Hope Village. Home to 62 children and 24 caretakers for these children. That's many, many.

So to make a family here, I've decided, is a crazy thing. To think that you could come together and provide for the needs of these children in the middle of all this - is nuts.

Unless God is in it.
And He is.

Oh boy, is He in it.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Another Post Already? Naw, mostly pics :)

Handiwork in the library - dig the bright colours:

 
This is the building in Hope Village where I’m living (that window below the arrow is beside my bed... I realize in retrospect that the arrow is too small... oops):

Last weekend at the beach:

It's quite beautiful here... 

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Thanks for your patience!

I'm all set for using the Internet now! It took some finagling... not really, just some time...

This week I've been studying Creole and doing different things around campus while waiting for my Creole teacher to be arranged. I think we have someone lined up and I should start intensive lessons Monday - looking forward to it and praying that God will open up my brain in amazing ways!

In the meantime, I've helped out at some English classes with one of my roommates, another intern, Abby. She works with the Hope Village children and adults (Haitian men and women who work there with the orphans) to teach them English.
I also did some painting in the children's library getting shelves and tables ready for them to use the space.
Today I spent some time down at 3 Cords - an initiative started here for people who have had prosthetics fitted at the lab here at MOH - where Haitian women are employed hand-making head bands, hair clips, jewelry, purses and shoulder bags that are for sale here on campus. Very cool stuff and totally cute. All of the workers at 3 Cords have had some sort of amputation and now have full time jobs! A bunch of sewing machines have been donated so that should aid in their production of these goods.

I'm getting to know more people and what goes on here but have yet to do any Art Therapy sessions. I'll wait until March to start working with Haitian children, but I may have an opportunity to work with some North American children and families starting in the next weeks. A number of children and parents from Canada and the US were here when the earthquake hit last year and so I've offered support if desired. I'll meet with one family in the next week or so about what their needs might be and if I can help.

I've begun to build some sweet friendships and treasure these getting-to-know-each-other days.
I'll find some good pics to post this week... lots to see!

Bon Swa, Ya'll!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Two Weeks

Today is two weeks til my departure date.

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti.

There is something about an anniversary that feels like we should commemorate or postulate...
but, as much as I'd like to have something of worth to state,
all I can do is to sit with the quiet weight
of January 12th.