... to be vulnerable

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it careful round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless- it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable... The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is hell." - C.S. Lewis

I was talking to my mom the other night about... well, about everything, and I mentioned Jenny. (My baby from the previous post.) I love her so much. I feel like a mom when I hold her. And then I started thinking about being a mom. How am I ever going to survive being a mom? If I love babies that aren't mine so much that sometimes I get choked up about it, I can only imagine how much I will love my own children. My mom has told me that I have, "great capacity to love." I think that is true... but it makes me so vulnerable.

But is that a bad thing? I've had my heart wrung so hard I thought it might break. I've had my heart broken. (I'm not talking about being IN love, mind you, just loving.) I've had my heart wrung by friends, best friends, aquaintences, family members, strangers, Haiti, the U.S., the list goes on.

But I don't regret any of it. My heart was severely wrung and broken this time last year. Haiti. The earthquake. My patients at the clinic. They all broke my heart. The country that I loved, and strangers that forever changed my life. Some of those strangers died in my arms. Some came terribly close to dying in my arms. Some, I have no idea where they are today, or if they made it past January 14th, 2010. And then the U.S. broke my heart. I had to come home. It was so hard. So, so hard.

But isn't there also a saying about fine china being stronger with the mending? Or is it working jeans? I don't remember. Either way. Never in a million years would I take back the lessons I learned from getting my heart wrung.

When my heart is wrung out. Or when my heart is broken it seems that is when I experience the love and faithfulness of my Heavenly Father the most. He holds me in His great Men Dous and keeps me close to his heart. He reminds me of His faithfulness. He reminds me of his love.

And when He has glued the pieces of my heart back together, He fills my heart to overflowing with more of His love. So that I can walk forward and love more.

Yes. To love is to be vulnerable. To love anything is to be vulnerable. But why not be vulnerable? C.S. Lewis knew the importance of vulnerability. If your heart is not vulnerable it is unbreakable, unpenatratable, unloving, dark, musty, sad.

If your heart loves it is vulnerable. True. But if your heart loves it also lives! It gives life to others. It is soft. It is warm. Life may break you. But if you don't live life the Men Dous of our Savior can't put us back together.

Think about God's heart. Oh how He loves us! Think about his love. Really think about it.... (tell me when you are ready to continue... I'll wait.)

Ok. Did you think about it?.... Ready to move on?

His heart must have broken. I know it did. He loved so much that he gave up His only son! That must have been painful, the most painful pain in this world. His heart was wrung very very hard. But in the process He gave life to all who will accept it.

I am so very thankful for a God who loves. Who gives me the capacity to love. And who holds me when I'm broken.

Love others. Be vulnerable.


Men Dous

I have tiny tears in my eyes as I write this post.

I was just blessed beyond measure.

I know I've blogged about Jenny before. Sometimes I refer to her as "my baby". She is so precious. She used to be a little bit afraid of me because I'm white. Now, when she sees me coming she puts her little arms in the air for me to hold her. When I try to put her down or hand her to someone else she puts the death grip on my shirt and squeezes tightly with her legs. I would love to be able to play with her more, but it seems like every time she comes over and I hold her she falls asleep within 5 minutes. (I'm not exaggerating this at all!)

Today my sweet baby came over. She's in the middle of teething and has a fever. I held her and she immediately cuddled up to me and fell asleep. I was called away to help Boss Varis with something and laughingly mentioned that she always falls asleep when I hold her. He said, "In Kreyol we call that Men Dous" when you hold babies and they always fall asleep. I know that Haiti has a lot of "sayings" and was so excited that he shared that with me.  I didn't recognize the word "dous" though. After Jenny left I looked it up in my dictionary.

"Men Dous"- Gentle Hands.

(Did you notice that she's got the Gig'em thumb?)

I was so touched. My friend, Aimee, calls me the baby whisperer. I don't know why, but something about me makes babies fall asleep.

 As I was thinking about men dous I realized that is exactly how God is. He is the only one that can hold me tight and immediately make me feel at peace. He is the one that whispers peace to my soul. Sometimes I wish that I was more like Jenny, I wish I held tightly to him when I feel myself getting further away. I wish I acknowleged his men dous more than I do. I wish that even as I am at peace and sleeping I will snuggle closer and hold tightly to his fingers. My daddy on earth can make me feel very safe. I have fallen asleep many times snuggled up to him listening to his heartbeat.

But my father in Heaven is the ever present one with the most gentle of hands!
Snuggle up to your Father. He is The Men Dous that will wisper peace and rest to your weary soul!

10 on Tuesday

Well friends its been a while since I've gotten a 10 on Tuesday in (especially on a Tuesday!) I had a small panicked moment last night, but then I realized it was only Monday! Unfortunately my picture capabilities are still pretty spotty, so we're back to random facts and word pictures.

Today is going to be 10 on Tuesday: Current Events addition. Meaning these are 10 things that I am currently doing or thinking about.

1. I am currently in the middle of some spring cleaning and de-cluttering. After a fire ant attack a few nights ago I decided it ws high time to deep clean my house. I've been keeping it up ok, but today it was time for a good dusting, mopping, reorganizing. I'm not finished, but I'm already feeling less cluttered. If I had packing to do over again I probably would have left over half the things I brought at home. But hindsight is always 20/20 I hear.

2. The current temperature is very warm. Last week when Hudson and Daniel were here I got made fun of quite a bit for always wearing hoodies at night. One night we slept out in the hammocks under the stars and I wore 2 pairs of socks, jeans, 1 short sleeved t-shirt, 1 long-sleeved t-shirt, 2 hoodies (with the hood up), and slept with my double fleece blanket and a thick sleeping bag and was comfortable. Last night, I slept with as little clothes as possible, a sheet for the mosquitos and the fan on high... I'm not sure what happened to the weather, but it got blazing hot overnight.

3. Currently getting very anxious and excited!! This morning when I woke up and Guerline told me she had eaten a mango!!!!! They aren't officially ready, but she found one good one. The mangos are about to be ripe and I couldn't be happier. I want to just sit and look at the tree outside my house until they ripen and then eat them all! (If you have a good mango recipe for jelly, jam, or anything else that will keep for a while. send it to me!! This also applies to guava and pinapple recipies!)

4. Currently looking forward to May. This morning I talked with my good friend, Caitlin and she purchased tickets to come visit in May!! She will be here the last week that I'm here and then fly home with me. I have already warned her that I might be a crying mess the whole way home (and the entire last week, but she still wanted to come. She's such a sweet friend!) I know Caitlin through my health classes at Texas A&M and she is such a beautiful blessing in my life. She will be starting Physician's Assistant school at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston in June. (Thankfully she was an Aggie first, and is not too excited about wearing burnt orange, so that's good!)

5. Speaking of school I am currently on pins and needles waiting to hear from the college of nursing at the Texas A&M Health Science Center. I had been thinking I was going to be notified online, but it turns out that they only accept people through snail mail. I don't check the mail regularly when I am home, unless I am waiting for this type of thing. At this point I should be hearing any day... errr at least by the end of April. Every time my mom gets on skype I get a little bit nervous, but so far, no word. I'll keep you updated though!

6. I currently have 55 days left in Haiti. My how the time has flown! I bought my plane tickets home about a week ago. I'm not ready to leave yet, but those conversations have started coming up.  People here are saying, "When you leave in May, when are you coming back?" That's a hard question to answer. I don't know. The whole village knows the theoretical plan though... One day I'll come back. I'll live on the mountain. My husband will build a house for our family. I'll have white and black kids. I'll make peanut butter and my kids will make cassava while my husband builds our house. I'll have a clinic, and my husband will do whatever he is good at (which will probably be everything), and then in the evenings we will all sit in our hammocks on the porch and look out over the valley. The peanut butter and cassava thing has become a big joke, so when they ask when I'm coming back, sometimes its easier to joke around about my future home, than to seriously tell them that I don't know. Maybe 2 years? Maybe more? I talked with Guerline last night about a girl that came from Canada a few years ago. Guerline feels like she has forgotten about her. I tried to reassure her that I will never forget about her or anyone here in this village. I'll forever carry Ti Guniea in my heart. At the same time as I am dreading leaving Haiti I am getting excited to go back to the States. I am missing people there so much. I am SO greatful for my semi-reliable skype connection that keeps me sane, but I can't wait to be face to face with people instead of looking at their skype logo all the time! Also, I'm looking forward to non-important things like driving my own car on a "real road", wearing "real" clothes and looking human again, being able to understand exactly what everyone is saying, not just the main idea. But I will miss my friends here,  I will miss holding thier babies, and laughing at jokes I don't get. I've said this before, but its so very hard to live in two countries at once, and even harder to explain it to others!

7. I'm currently thinking about and wondering how my medical patients are going to be when I leave. And how much I wish I knew more to help them. In my head, I want to get all the medical cases wrapped up and healed before I leave, so their books will be closed... but I know in the possible two years that I will be gone more things will happen, more people will get hurt. I Pwish I could care for them all. I wish I knew how to care for them all. But I don't. Its become so very evident to me how important it is going to be for me to go back to school and actually learn how to better help these people. I'm so thankful for the progress I have made with them though. Some are taking longer than others to heal how I want them to, but its hard to put a time limit on these things.

8. I currently should be writing about 6 emails. I wrote two of them last night and then my internet died and lost my message. TIH I guess. As soon as I finish this blog I'm going to get back to work....

9. Currently thanking my Savior for being so gracious and faithful to me. I have been blessed beyond measure both with things material and immaterial. I have super great friends who are daily encouragements to me. God is so great. So loving. So faithful. I was feeling low this weekend. It was the first time in my life I've been homesick. I didn't know what to do with myself. God provided friends (and a mom) who don't roll thier eyes when I complain or get annoyed when I cry. I am so thankful for the text and skype hugs I got this weekend. Monday dawned and the sun was out! I spent time yesterday just sitting with my friends, and feeling normal again. Thank you Jesus for all your blessings!

10. Currently listening to the windmill as it is spinning along. For those of you that don't know the windmill saga, I will spare you all the gory details, but today we had a victory! The light on the battery is GREEN! Not only is it working, but it has already worked! Praise God for His beautiful nature. He has given us gorgeous mountains in our backyard, with wind we can harness and use for power. He has given us mangos and guava for food, and His beautiful creation just because he loves us! Thank the Lord for the wind and the windmill that is saving us tons of gas money!


Missing Normal

Probably 99% of those who are reading this will wake up in the morning, take a shower, fix your hair, put on some nice clothes, and go to church. At church you will sing praises to our great King, be fed by His word, and fellowship with other believers. You will leave church feeling encouraged, and hungry. So you will grab your family, or best friends and hit up your favorite Sunday lunch spot. After that most of you will go home and take the traditional Sunday afternon nap, and relax for the rest of the afternoon. If you are a student, with a life anything comprable to mine when I was a student, you will skip the nap with much grumbling and head to the nearest coffee shop to get as much homework done as possible before class on Monday. At the coffee shop you will more than likely see people you know and maybe even make small talk. You will be distracted by those having conversations and maybe stick headphones in your ears to keep you focused on the assignment, and not on evesdropping. Did I mention that as you travel to and from church, home, and the coffee shop you will most likely drive a car with the appropriate amount of people per seat belt, or less? And you will be able to drive without swerving to miss potholes and bottom out every 3 seconds. Also, did I mention that people will not be staring at you the entire day? Analyzing everything that you do and then whispering to their neighbor about it. You won't be distracting in church, you will fit right in, you will barely be noticed as you drive home or walk into the coffee shop. Because its normal for you.

None of that will happen to me tomorrow. I will wake up, maybe fix my hair (like re-do the ponytail), probably put on a skirt and maybe something other than a white v-neck shirt, the only make-up I will wear is chapstick, and then I will walk to church. As I walk to church people will stare at me. When I get to church I will be noticed. The children's attention is going to be gone for the rest of the service as they whisper. We will sing songs in French. Someone will graciously lend me their song book, so I will have some idea of how to formulate the words, but I won't understand the majority of them. We will sit, and the pastor will begin to teach. I will count it a success if I can find the right passage without asking for help, much less understand the main points of the sermon. After church, I will mill around for as little as I think is appropriate and then leave. I won't be going to Rancho Grande with my family and friends, I'll come home alone. I won't be studying at the local coffee shop. I won't drive a car. I won't be normal and I won't fit in.

I LOVE church here. It has given me a wider veiw of the body of Christ. I LOVE living here. I have learned so much and grown so much. But I miss singing to my Jesus in English! I miss knowing the words to the songs and being able to close my eyes and sing them only to Him. I miss NOT being stared at! I miss sunday lunch with family. Or Sunday afternoon study dates with friends. I miss fitting in. I miss being able to understand conversations around me 100% without having to strain to understand each word. I miss being able to call my mom on the way to study just to hello. Or running into random friends at the grocery store.

Yesterday I cried. A lot. Actually, I am suprised it hasn't happened sooner, seeing as how I cry at least every 2 weeks in the states whether I need it or not! The underlying theme of all the times I cried yesterday was that I am a little homesick. I think there is a common misconception that missionaries love God and the people they are with so much that they don't really need friends. Every single word in that statement is false. Maybe I'm not the normal missionary, but I miss my friends and family. I miss things being normal.

But I'm not ready to come home just yet. The hardest part about living in two countries is trying to explain it to others. When I'm in the States I miss Haiti. I get homesick for Haiti. I miss the people I miss the smells, I miss it all! When I'm here I get homesick for the States. It usually takes longer for me to miss the states than for me to miss Haiti though. Typically, by the time I set foot in Miami I'm ready to return home to Haiti. But after 3 months here I'm missing the States. I'm not saying any of this to make anyone think that I am miserable here or that I would rather be in the States right now. I'm not, and I don't. I'm simply sharing with you how I am feeling so you may be praying more effectively for me.

Hudson and Daniel coming to work and visit here was such a huge encouragement I can't even express it. They encouraged me in ways that I really needed. They made me laugh until I cried (and thought I was going to pass out from lack of oxygen) at least once. I don't think I realized how much I needed them to come until they were here. It was such a wonderful breath of fresh air. But now they are gone and its just me again. Today and yesterday I have been thinking of home often.

I know its impossible for me to write something like this without many of you worrying about me. Please don't worry. Like I said, I AM loving it here. I AM NOT ready to go home. I just miss a little bit of normalcy. Pray that my heart will be full. I know that my Savior is with me. Closer than the air I breathe. Pray that I will be overwhelmed with a new love for these people, and a new urgency to show love to them.

And tomorrow, in church, sing your heart out to Jesus for me! I will be singing in French, but God understands what even I do not.

Praise Him for being so big and wonderful!


"I Double-Dog Dare you"

That phrase used to strike fear into the heart of whatever child was on the recieving end of the dare. If I remember correctly it was against the rules to turn down a double dog dare. Either that, or you turned into a jelly bean if you refused. I don't remember which one.

But I have a double-dog dare for you all!

Are you ready?

"De-lurk."    *Gasp! What does that mean? Can I do that? I can't turn that down!*

You are right. you can't turn down this dare. But what does it mean?

Let me give you some background info:
It seems like at least a few times a week I get someone telling me what they thought of my last post, or my mom will say, " I was talking to so-and-so and they said....blah blah... about your blog." And I think, what? They read my blog?? I didn't even know they knew me!

A few weeks ago I checked on the "stats" part of my blog, just browsing around. You know what I found out? People from 23 different countries have visited my blog. Some are regular readers. Some readers, like the ones in Zambia, and Kenya I know who they are. But there are others from countries that I honestly couldn't find on a map if I tried.

Well in the blogging world we call readers, but not commenters "lurkers." It seems as though I have some lurkers here, and I want to  encourage  dare you to come out and make yourself known.

I want to get one thring straight. I am not trying to beg for popularity or comments (although it may seem like that.) I really want to get to know who is reading what I have to say. Sometimes I feel like I am talking to the wall on here. Sometimes I get lonely. I know there are people on this journey with me, so I want to get to know my travel buddies!!
Also, I am open to constructive critisism and encouragement. Let me know what you like, don't like, want to hear more of, see more of, or any questions you may have, etc.

Some of you may think that since you don't have a blogger account you can't comment. Not true! You can always comment as anonymous (just leave your name in the comment so I'll know who you are!), or if you aren't comfortable with that shoot me an email!

But really, your comments make my day! And I'd love to get to know all you strangers out there!

I double-dog dare you!


Dramamine & Jazz music

Dramamine is a total essential for me in Haiti, and really, if I'm being honest, if I'm not behind the wheel, its an essential for me even in the U.S. But especially in Haiti! My dramamine intake has dramatically increased in the last 3 months. It makes for a more pleasant ride. Instead of focusing on trying to regulate my breathing, dealing with the cold/hot sweats, or thinking about my face turning green, or what would happen if I vomited. I can focus on the people I drive by, the country, the mountains, the rice fields, the driving, the potholes, etc. A few weeks ago I rode into Cap Haitian to pick up Daniel and Hudson when they arrived here to spend their spring breaks here working on projects around camp. I thankfully remembered to take my dramamine and it was a very pleasant ride into town. I was able to focus on looking out the window and also be engaged in things that were happening inside the car. One of those things being the Jazz music that Gersan was listening to. I was thinking to myself, "I don't really like Jazz all that much, I like the sound, but its so disorganized." As those thoughts were in my head Gersan mentioned a friend of his that said she didn't "get" Jazz. Immediately I felt an "AMEN!" That's my problem, its not that I don't like it. Its that I don't "get" it. Then, as is so normal for Gersan he dove into the reasons why he loved it, and tried to explain it to those car, as if to make his non present friend understand Jazz. He said there is the main drumline, or the main baseline. They set the tone and keep the song going, the trombone or the sax or the trumpet just kinda do their own thing and try to make it work with what the drums and bass are doing. Sometimes the sax and the trumpet clash for a while, but then sometimes it all works together and sounds great. As I was staring out the window, and had a clear, vomit-free mind, and contemplating the nuances of Jazz music, I realized that Jazz and Haiti are a lot alike. I don't "get" either of them. There are so, so many things about Haiti that I don't "get". There are days (and Jazz songs) that I totally get and love. And would listen to, or live over and over again. There are days (and Jazz songs) that I don't get at all and not only that, but they are frustrating and I honestly look forward to nothing more than them being over. Everyone in Haiti, to some extent marches to the beat of their own drum Saxaphone. There is a baseline, or, in voodoo culture, a drum beat that defines the lives of everyone. Many of the people have the same baseline, but what they do with their trumpet and sax can be oh, so different! Sometimes they work together beautifully, but sometimes it makes me want to reach for the "skip/search" button on the stereo. There are things that hold them together, poverty, hardship, language, etc. But there are so many differences, jobs, family relationsips, religion, etc. Each person chooses to be part of a team, or to make their own tune.

As I listen to the music of Haiti, I find myself sometimes reaching for the dramamine. That way I don't have to deal with the ugly or hardship that makes me want to turn green and vomit. I want to be comfortable. I want to pretend that everyone else is comfortable. See what I want to see. But I pray that I won't. I pray that I won't be comfortable with things around me. I have heard the term "compassion drainage", where people, like me, who have seen poverty and pain will see it as normal. It is not normal. Nothing about this country is normal. Nothing about orphans, sickness, poverty, or voodoo is normal. I pray that I will look at Haiti without dramamine eyeglasses. Its good to be uncomfortable sometimes, it makes me trust my Lord more, and praise Him loudly when I step foot on solid ground again.

As I study Haiti. I want to hear the beauty in every Jazz song. Every sax solo, and every compilation. I don't want to have to take dramamine to keep me from getting motion sickness. I want to experience it all, happy, sad, painful, joyful, or heartbreaking. As God intended. It is all music to His ears.


40 on Friday (part 2)

So this is the part of the blog that I am going to add tons of pictures to. Daniel and I gave you 20 random facts and bits of information yesterday. Today I was planning on having Hudson do some contributing because he was buried in Civil Engineering homework last night. I mentioned blogging to him this morning at breakfast and he didn't exactly jump at the idea. So this afternoon, since my internet is working, and I am of no use in the electrical job the boys are doing I decided to spend some quality time with my computer and get to be re-aquainted with my blog. And for the second half of the Fabulous 40 on Friday, I have decided to bring you tons of pictures. So I hope you enjoy! 

1.  When the group came from Port Au Prince for camp last week we had some minor complications with the guest speaker... He didn't show up, so Gersan was the guest speaker in  pinch. He did a wonderful job and was very encouraged by the reaction of the retreaters. We moved a large tent up to the "upstairs" where you can see the whole valley, so they had a beautiful backdrop as they heard the word of God delivered.

2. After some incredible miscommunication (and bad planning by retreat leadership) we had a lot of fun at activites here at camp. My three haitian assistants and myself put up the activiites for Archery and Riflery, then took them down again, then up again, then down, then up, down, and up. Finally we used them and they went over marvelously. As worried as I was that someone was going to get shot I was so proud of my helpers for explaining rules and how things work. they were wonderful helpers!

3.On Tuesday we took the entire group to the beach.All 100ish of them. It was quite an experience, but went very well. That beach is so beautiful, and I highly doubt any of those city kids from Port had ever seen a beach quite like this one. They played in the water and sand all day long and had, what seemed like the time of their lives. So silly and fun!

4.Karnaval was on the road as we left the beach. This is the Haitian Mardi Gras. People get 3 days of school off and just parade through the streets and drink sugar cane alcohol and make lots of noise. As we were driving through a crowd of them I decided that masks kinda creep me out.

5. This is Tchaly working on the slab for Tancred's house. He is the one I mentioned in the February update. We got to finally work on the slab (And finish his house! More pictures to follow!)

6. Betty's first trip to the beach. This is definitely a forced smile on Betty's side. She was scared of the water and had already gotten a little bit more wet than she was happy with. I think in the end she enjoyed it more than she thought she would. We were all happy that she came.

7. Spring break 2011. Already lots of fun with my two great friends. How could we not have fun on the prettiest beach in the country!?

8. This is how the week has gone. Apply these personalities to work projects.

9. Yesterday Daniel mentioned that we got a new windmill here at camp. This is the installation crew. Don't be fooled... the pole in this picture is probably upwards of 500 pounds. The hope for this windmill is that it will nearly eliminate the need for our generator. Currently the generator runs about 15 hours a day to keep up with our power demand and with the windmill, if it works all correctly, we should be able to have equivalent power after only one hour of wind!!

10. Daniel came with many gifts for all his friends here at Jacob's Well. For Tchaly, our carpenter he brought this awesome tool belt. Tchaly is enjoying it, but batman, our dog is very scared of the belt, actually its pretty funny for my watchdog to be scared of a belt. Makes me feel safe!

11. Hudson worked very hard on finishing the roof of the "unfinished cabin". It still needs a paint job, but its much closer to being finished than it was before.

12. This is Madame Tchaly and baby NaNa. She is the one with the burn on her bottom. She is looking so good. She was actually smiling this day and the skin was starting to turn black again. God protected her and has done so much healing work in her body. I can't even begin to describe to you how precious this family is. Tchaly and his wife are always, ALWAYS smiling and laughing. They are a total joy and a priveledge to be around.

13. We weren't exactly sure where the step ladder was... so this was the next best solution. (TIH-This is Haiti.)

14. This is Peter Marc working on the roof of Tancreds house. (Almost finished!!)

15. Tancred standing outside of his new finished house! Praise God for His provision and goodness!

16. While walking back to camp after finishing Tancred's house we heard a lot of commotion. Turns out there was a make shift soccer stadium in this area. It cost 10 (25 cents) gouds for the entrance fee. Hudson and Daniel, being soccer fans were hoping that we could stay and watch the game instead of working on plumbing for the afternoon.

17. Hey Greta, we may or may not have caught the depot rat! Look how excited Dan is!

18. This is the man I mentioned yesterday with the machete cut in his hand. (Remember? The adorable one?) Daniel and I applied butterfly bandages to the cut. Today I checked them, and much to my surprise they were still holding on tight. The cut looked really good and was starting to close just like I wanted it to! Praise God! He also told us how much it had been hurting before (he injured himself last Thrusday and came to see us on Monday) but that after he came here it didn't hurt again!

19. After a long day of working in the sun, what is better than laying on cold tile underneath the mango trees? (Hint: there is nothing better)

20. Family portrait at the beach. Dad, Mom, and the kids after our beautification hike to pick up trash.

Have a happy Friday!


40 on Friday (part 1)

Ok. I feel like a total blogging failure. We are more than halfway through March and I have blogged only twice. In my defense, I have had more internet problems than I care to go into or relive right now. I’m currently writing this post in Microsoft Word hoping that by the time I finish my internet will have loaded the blogger page. I have written numerous blogs in my head and started a few on the computer, so maybe someday I’ll catch up. Today I decided since I have missed two 10 on Tuesdays and numerous other blogs I have decided to introduce this a blue moon special, “40 on Friday.” So here goes… This is all the fun you have missed! This will be a 2 part blog. (it actually was going to be the 10 on Tuesday, but the internet didn’t work… then it was going to be the 30 on Thursday, but again… internet troubles. So here goes part 1 of 2 in the 40 on Friday.

1. On Friday, March 4th we had almost 100 people here at camp for the retreat. They stayed until Wednesday, March 9th and, I believe had a lot of fun. Remember, my job was to find and secure beds for all of them? Yeah, I was planning on having 46 people and then found out there were 81 coming… which quickly turned into almost 100. Needless to say, it was a stressful few hours/days for me. The camp went well overall. It was full of challenges though. The staff of the camp was not open to using our program or hearing our suggestions. I think it was a little frustrating for all of us. Finally, on Monday, they asked for help and after that camp went great. We got to do our activities and play some camp games, as well as have a really special time of campfire. Overall, God was glorified, which is always a victory.

2. We had a few days of rest and then Daniel Frantz and Hudson Stone arrived from Texas on Saturday, March 12 to spend spring break here at Jacob’s Well and get some work projects done. It has been so refreshing for them to be here. After the crazy week with camp and the stress of having 100ish people on our campsite, I needed a change of pace.

3. This past weekend marked the midway point of my trip. That brings up a lot of emotions and thoughts, both sad and happy. Its almost impossible to believe that I have been here for two and a half months already, in some ways it feels like it has flown by. In other ways it seems like its been a long, long time. I have learned so much. It has been so different than I was expecting, but in a lot of ways exactly what I expected. I have accomplished some of my goals for being here and that is so encouraging, but in some ways I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything at all.

4. This past weekend also marked the year and 2 month anniversary of the earthquake here in Haiti. I have done a lot of thinking and praying about it. God has done an incredible amount of healing in my heart and mind over the past year. I am, at times completely overwhelmed by his total faithfulness to me. It has not been an easy year, but I have been far from alone.

5. Its mid March. This means we are entering the phase where I will be hearing about an acceptance decision from the Nursing department at Texas A&M Health Science Center. As much as I am loving not having school this semester and not having to worry about tests and homework, I am starting to get excited about going to school again. I am learning so much here, but a lot of it is learning what great need there is. I’ve mentioned Christina (the baby with the burns) and Lèlène (with the motorcycle accident), and this week I have added a few more patients to my list. I am so glad that I have been able to be here to help them, but every day I see the need to go back to Nursing school. I’m praying (and you can too!!) that I will get accepted to the Nursing school in College Station at the Health Science Center. Due to various circumstances that occurred last minute, I ended up only applying to this one school. I very strongly feel that this is where the Lord wants me, but then again… God is sometimes so full of unexpected surprises.

6. Speaking of new patients… My newest patient is the tiniest little man in the village. He’s so adorable. But don’t be fooled. He is THE toughest guy in the village. Maybe it comes with being small. Gersan told me he has a reputation for running Americans out of the village. He has always been anti-American presence here and doesn’t appreciate us. On Monday he was doing something and fell on his machete. Thankfully he only sliced his hand, but it is a pretty serious cut. Guess who he came to for help? Me. I was able to help bandage and clean his wound and he has come back every day since. Remember how I said he was the toughest guy in the village? If you saw this guy’s hand you would know. He has calluses equal to those on my feet. He watched me clean and dig grass and dirt out of the flesh in his hand without so much as a flinch. It would be great if he could get stitches in this hand, but I don’t have access to them and I know he won’t go to the hospital. Today Daniel and I put some butterfly closures on the most serious parts. I’m very optimistic about the way its going to heal, its already looking good and staying infection free. Did I mention he is the most adorable man ever? The man is probably 4 feet and 7 inches tall and super tough, but so cute. The first day he came with some family that brought him. I asked him his age and he honestly had no idea. Today he came all alone, knowing what Gersan told me about him and how he feels about white people I was interested to see how it was going to go. I walked up and asked him how he was doing. He launched into telling me about his family and his wife and kids and his life. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a match box and took out a tiny piece of paper with, “74” written on it. He handed me the paper telling me he found out how old he was. I can’t wait to see how his hand heals, and maybe continue to change his view of Americans.

7. Since Daniel and Hudson have been here we have been able to get a lot done here around camp. In the states, Hudson is a Petroleum Engineering student at Texas A&M (whoop!) and indoor soccer lover. Daniel is a Biology/Psych student at DBU and a barista at a local coffee shop in Dallas. When they are here in Haiti they become our “professional consultants” on all things plumbing, construction, maintenance, etc. So far they have installed a new hot water heater, built and roofed a house or two, laid pipe for a main water line, fixed the plumbing issues in the kitchen and consulted on numerous future projects here around camp. Its only been a few days and we have gotten so much done.

8. We received word last week that we had an anonymous donor that donated enough money for us to finish our cistern. We are going to be starting work on our cistern very soon. The hardest part of hosting groups here is our lack of water. Without a cistern we are very hard pressed to provide water for our teams. Praise God for His provision.

9. I have almost finished the child sponsorship program for the school. Please be praying for me as I try to finish preparing and try to start this program. It would be such a wonderful opportunity to be able to provide the village with a better opportunity to have some education. This program will give the parents an opportunity to send their children to school, but will give them a sense of ownership and give them opportunities to get involved in their children’s life and education.

10. As I mentioned before my two friends Daniel and Hudson are here doing work and bringing some sanity and English conversation into my life. Its been such a blast hanging out with these two guys and even though we are working we are having loads of fun. Because they are here I’m going to take advantage of them for a second and have them help me write this post.

Thanks for having patience with me (or really my internet). I’m going to be doing the best I can and praying for God to work a miracle and make it move faster than frozen molasses.

Meet Daniel Frantz:
I first experienced Haiti, and Jacob’s Well January of 2010. As a part of the FC team that left the island about 40 hrs before the quake. Back then Jacobs well had one building, a bathroom/storage depot, but as Matt Raines would say, if you have good staff, a field and a ball you can have camp. That is what Jacobs Well used to be, today it is unrecognizable from just a little over a year ago. God has blessed this land, and the ministry of Jacob’s Well. And I thank Him for letting me see His hands at work here.

1. The spring break trip – Hudson and I were here with the last trip, Haiti 6, and both decided we would love to come back, and the Lord blesses us by granting that wish. As Noelle has said getting things done in this country can be difficult to say the least, and traveling is rarely an exception. We had to leave the states on Friday, meaning an overnight layover and almost 24 hrs total travel time from departure to arrival at JW. We spent a pretty good amount of time wondering if our bags would make it all the way to PAP or weather we would be picked up from the airport. But God is good and after a tiring day of travel we arrived in CAP and were warmly greeted by Noelle, Betty, Gersan, and Bos Varis (and a Toro!) Home sweet home.

2. This is my fourth time to come to JW since Jan 2010, I am always astounded by God’s glory as the camp continues to expand. Yet, as much growth as there has been, the plan for the future dwarfs its current state. I cannot wait to see how the Lord will bless JW and pray I will be allowed to be a part of the growth.

The following are some of the newest additions to Jacob’s Well.

3. The windmill, after some stressful moments regarding the mill, it seems to be an amazing tool and will hopefully save a ton of money on gas for the generator.

4. New plumbing, an ongoing process, we are in the process of running a new main line that will provide a more reliable water source for the time being. Improving the current “cistern” (two cubic meter water tanks), repairing leaking drains on the kitchen sinks, and hopefully repairing a drainage problem at the shower house.

5. New water heater (well old heater new installment) it is quite an expensive propane powered, heat-as-you-go heater, and has been sitting in the depot for at least a year now (the current heater is a standard 40 gallon electric heater). We haven’t purchased the propane yet but hope to have it running within the next few days. Switching to propane will also lighten the load on the generator and reduce the amount of electricity needed to run camp.

6. Cabins, we are helping finish the last of the two rooms cabins and put up two more one room style cabins (same style as Tancred’s new house that was finished today! Noelle is planning on posting pictures when the internet isn’t as big of a disappointment).

7. A few days after we arrived we were introduced to an amazing new trail to the “upstairs” that is much better than the old ankle breaking path.

8. Another beautiful addition is the Jacob’s Well mosaic. It used to be a gravel platform used as a meeting/eating area in the past (and under where the Haiti 6 interns, Jack, Greta and myself hung our hammocks).

9. One thing Hudson and I were able to do is bring some new tools to Jacob’s Well (thanks to “the Man” Richard Stephens for buying/providing them!) Some of the tools we brought include a stellar Dewalt Table saw which I have yet to use, but hope to work on a few projects with Bos Tchaly and get some use out of it. We also brought Tchaly a new tool belt, every carpenter of his skill needs a good tool belt, and some seeds for Guerline’s garden.

10. Finally, another item we brought with us were mouse/rat traps (they deserve their own number). When I was here with the other interns over Christmas break Greta and I saw a massive rat in the depot, and Noelle has seen a few herself recently so I figured we could put an end to these rodent shenanigans. So far the traps have been set for a little over 24 hrs and the body count thus far is 4. Three of the slain were rats and one mouse, but we’re hoping to kill off a lot more before we leave (and Noelle will then have to empty and re-load the traps, she doesn’t seem thrilled to do that)

... stay tuned for part 2.


Beautiful in His Time

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." (Eccl 3:11)

I'm kinda a sucker for beautiful things. Thankfully, I am living smack-dab in the middle of beauty right now. I have a mountain in my back yard and if I walk a little way I have a huge gorgeous valley in the front yard. I live among the most beautiful people I have ever met. I see the beauty around me and can't help but worship the Creator.

Not everything here is beautiful. There are very, very ugly things here. Satan and his hold on these people's hearts is ugly. Very Ugly.

The lack of, well, everything, food, shelter, and healthcare is ugly.
Or is it? Is it ugly? or is it Joy? Is He making it beautiful?

The lack of resources is not the main problem that this village has. It is the lack of Christ. The lack of freedom. Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost (Lk 19:10). But if we look at His life, he did more than that. He helped the poor and crippled. He healed the sick, and fed the hungry. If we are to be the body of Christ we are called to do those things too. He is making all this hurt beautiful in HIS time.

His time can be so different from mine sometimes, and as Solomon says, we cannot find out or understand what God is doing from beginning to end. But sometimes.... Sometimes, before the word leaves our lips, before we are even aware of our need He has provided.

On Friday night I was talking to Gersan and Betty about Tchaly. He is our carpenter here on campus. Always laughing, always singing, always joyful, always a total joy to be around. He works so hard. (He is also the one with the baby, who's burn I have been taking care of.) Gersan was talking about how he wishes he could pay Tchaly more for his hard work. And he could probably get a better paying job somewhere else, but God has a track record of blessing those who work here, and the money they earn. Some of these other people came from better paying jobs to work here, and have been offered other, better paying jobs, but they choose to stay, because they love working here and because God is blessing them for that.

Gersan told me about Tchaly's house. He described it as only a tiny step up from Tancred's house that I wrote about earlier. Tchaly has been saving and saving, but will probably never be able to finish building his house. Gersan said, "I want to give him a house, but that would cost around $2000 USD and we just don't have that right now."

Immediately, my heart leaped! $2000!!!!
I had gotten a text message from my mom that afternoon that Redeemer Bible Church, my home church in Tomball wanted to give $2000 to us to use however we like. I hadn't told Gersan and Betty this yet, but felt this was a good time.

God is so good. Without them even knowing it, He put that amount on the hearts of the Redeemer leaders, on the day that Gersan mentioned wanting to use that amount for a house!

God is making this beautiful! It has already been made beautiful, but He is letting us glimpse the beauty!

God is using Jacob's Well here in this village to change the mentality of people here. After giving Tancred a house, and taking care of  Lèlène and her leg the village is starting to talk. They are starting to see the "pay it forward" mentality. Doing nice things for others just because. I call it the "pay it forward" mentality, but really, it is the "Body of Christ" model. Tala's house needs a new roof, and we are almost sure that if we help Tchaly with his house that he will gladly take care of her roof out of thankfulness, and ask nothing in compensation. We are praying hard that God will continue to change the hearts of the people here.

This is the second time this week that God has blessed our socks off.
I found out this week that for almost a year now, or maybe more, Gersan has wanted to start a chicken business. Immediately after Boss Varis, one of our head guys, started working here he was asking about when he could start the chicken business. His son knows how to take care of them and it would be a wonderful micro development project. Gersan had wanted that for a long time anyway too, but never mentioned it to anyone. Last week I got an email from my boss at Frontier Camp saying that he wanted to talk about chickens. (I'm thinking... "ok??? That's random.") There is a family that goes to Foundry United Methodist Church and they teach the confirmation class for the youth there. They want to start emphasizing missions more, and wanted to use Jacob's Well as their project. The teacher of the class raises chickens in his backyard as sort-of a hobby, but also for meat and eggs. They decided that they wanted to raise the money, as a class, to buy 100 chickens for us as well as all the materials needed to build a chicken coop, hire someone to take care of them, feed the chickens, and gather eggs and meat to sell, or use for the staff here at camp. (Remember Gersan has never mentioned that he wanted to do this to any Americans.) I wish I could have seen his reaction when he recieved that email!

God is so good. He is so creative. His timing is so perfect. He can use things like chickens to remind us of how good He is.

Sometimes when God's timing is the same as mine it makes me realize how cool He is. But God's timing is not always the same as mine, not at all. But It is times like these that I learn I can trust Him. His timing is better than mine. It may not feel like it as i sit and wait and wait and wait and pray and pray and pray, but it is beautiful. He will make all things good in HIS time. 

For example, earlier I mentioned the ugly things here in my village. Satan and his hold on the people being one of them. While, for now, the big voodoo ceremony is over I know there will be others. It is not God's timing to totally remove all of the voodoo preists right now. But if you consider the whole picture you will see that less than 6 years ago there were 12 voodoo temples in this village. Today there are 3. THREE! And God is slowly turning the hearts of at least two of those three towards Him. I want them to know Jesus today. But, His timing is perfect.

He has made all things beautiful. He is a beautiful creator. Life is beautiful already. But sometimes He makes it more beautiful so that we will stop and recognize Him as the creator.

Notice something beautiful today.
Happy Sunday!


10 on Tuesday

So today is 10 on Tuesday: Thoughts and Random facts edition.

I've decided that the 10 pictures on Tuesday gets a little old week after week, and its too much pressure for me to remember my camera all day. Also, there are always moments I miss on camera or can't actually take a photo of.

So this afternoon I made a decision. 10 on Tuesday is no longer going to be only 10 pictures (or word pictures) on Tuesday. It can be 10 of whatever I want it to be. At first I felt like I failed because I'm "giving up" on the pictures, but its my blog, and I've decided I can write what I want to write about... because when I do its typically much more enjoyable for everyone. I'll try to have a theme for my Tuesdays, but I make no promises!

So. Thoughts and Random Facts: go!

1. It is so hard to get anything done in this country. I don't know why. Maybe because I'm living in a world without subtitles... Today I felt like I worked hard, and was even borderline stressed out. Looking back, I acomplished barely anything. And I still feel like it was a productive day here in Haiti. Strange. This is a very strange place.

2. Speaking of strange... Tala wore bubblewrap on her head today for her headscarf. (Yes the kind that comes in packages with fragile things.) It was all I could do not to laugh at her every time I saw her.

3. This weekend is the Haitian equivalent of Mardi Gras in Port Au Prince. Lots of loud, loud music and drinking and other crazy stuff. So Gersan's church decided to have their youth retreat here! We are so excited. This is going to be the first retreat group to come here. We are going to do our very best to show the city kids how to really camp!

4. I have been staying up entirely too late recently. I have decided that I need to institute a bedtime. I would like it to be somewhere around 8, but I think I'm going to go with 9 o'clock, and make exceptions for weekends and busy days. Yes, I'm fully aware that I am a grandma. Call me names if you want. I don't care.

5. I have learned it is astronomically more difficult to speak and understand Kreyol if I am tired.

6. I love living here. I am so thankful for this opportunity that God has given me to live here. God is the best. I love every day here. Some are hard. Some are very, very hard. But I am very happy here and love living here. This trip has given me a lot to think about for the future..... which will require a post all in itself. I'll come back to this sometime when I have all my thoughts together.

7. There were numerous encouraging moments today that I would be explaining something in Kreyol or just making conversation and whoever I was talking to would say, "You speak Kreyol so well!" or, when I would explain something, or reference a conversation I had overheard, they would look at me shocked and say, "You are very smart, you know everything that goes on around here!" Which, frankly is my goal!

8. At the end of the day, today was a lot more sucessful that I anticipated. This morning skype was making me want to sit and cry and pull out my hair all at the same time. I was depending on skype today because "mwen telephone pov." (my telephone is in poverty... poor... I have no minutes.) Waiting till the weekend to recharge, but may buy some tomorrow to hold me over. Skype worked well this afternoon and I just turned up the volume really loud so I could hear it if it went off without me around.

9. I was grateful for outdoorsmanship class with Wes Woodard at Frontier Camp today because my job for the day was to set up tents. We currently have enough bunk beds to sleep about 44 people here. We had plans to set up another couple of beds because we were planning on having 46 people for the retreat this weekend, so we were going to put a few in the tent....This afternoon I found out that our 46 people had turned into 81. Hence the tent scramble.

10. My 10th fact of the day is that it is now past my newfound grandma bedtime!! And my brain is out of things to say.

 Honestly I was out of things to say after I told you about the bubble wrap. Sorry if you could tell. You probably could. I'll try to do better next Tuesday. Until then, please don't be too dissapointed in this post. My creativity is nonexistant tonight.

Thank you, and goodnight.


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