I'm sorry for abandoning the blog. There have been so many times that I've sat down to write since last Tuesday. The problem with blog abandoning is that when you abandon for a while and come back there is pressure to make the new blog post stellar, and insightful, and awesome.... I make no promises for this particular post. I've been putting off blogging because I have 3 blogs written in my head. I had been planning on writing a certain blog for about a month now. waiting for the right time. Its not seeming to come. I want to just lock myself in a room and write for a straight 3 days. I probably have enough to say.

Home has been so refreshing. As many of you know, Sundays were getting so hard in Haiti. It was turning into such a wonderful, but bitter day. I missed singing to Jesus in my language. Hearing the Bible taught in a way that I could understand. Easter was going to be so difficult to be away from my family. God knew. He knew I needed to come home. He knew that I neeed time with my family. He knew that they needed time with me. Easter was wonderful. Time with family and friends was wonderful. I'm so blessed.

Part of the reason that I came home was to work on some applications to other healthcare programs and such. The application processes have brought me to College Station and has resulted in some wonderful time with some sweet friends. I saw my roommates and friends last night for dinner, and I'm currently sipping iced coffee at Mugwalls and talking with some of my former co-workers. So many hours were spent with these wonderful people, with these sweet friends, making coffee, talking with customers, just enjoying life.

Coming home has been such an easy transition. I was worried about the reverse culture shock that I might experience. I always have gone through it in some form or another. This trip home, the transition has been so smooth. Part of me feels like I never left. I just jumped right back into life with everyone, doing normal things, dance parties in the car, late nights with the family, normal life. Its been wonderful. Maybe its been easy because I know I'm going back soon. Maybe its been easy because I feel like I now live two lives. And I've come to the realization that living in two places is not easy. Its hard. And heartbreaking, so I'm showing myself more grace and patience. Whatever it is, the transition home has been wonderful. I've gotten some rest. I've been hugged. I've spoken English. Its been wonderful.

I'm sorry for abandoning the blog, but at the same time I have been trying to drink it all in. Every second. every minute.

I'm going to do my best to blog again soon. I'll post pictures. I'll tell you about the 3 blogs that are written in my head. Eventually it will all come out!

Keep praying for my village, for my friends, my family there, and here.


M'ap Vini

I don't really know where to begin.... My heart is all over the place.

I have been intentionally vauge on the blog recently. Maybe you haven't noticed, but I have. I have 3 blogs written in my head that I just haven't had the clarity of mind to sit and write. I have avoided posting, even avoided reading other peoples blogs, because when I write, everything tends to spill out reguardless of whether or not I wanted to give all the details. I have told a few friends that I feel like I'm teetering on the see-saw of insanity: One second I'm fine, peaceful, trusting God. The next I am the opposite of all those things. Its been fun, let me tell you!

Ok. so here goes....

I'm coming home on Thursday.
As in, day-after-tomorrow. Its still not super real to me. wow.

Before you worry...there is nothing desperately wrong. It is just time. Due to recent circumstances and thoughts of my heart, (which I have not shared because I've been blog-avoiding) I need to go home.

My family is so important to me. My family members are 5 of God's biggest blessings to me. I am who I am because of them. I talked to my brother today. He has decided to spend his life serving our country. I saw him in December before I left. He has been "stationed" in Tomball since March and I'm missing it. He will leave 16 days before was planning on getting home. Basically, we didn't know this until today, but if I don't see him now, I don't know when I will. In the next few years, maybe. This is important to me.

Also, since Wednesday I've been thinking about the future. All those doors that opened when nursing school closed, while they are awesome and I'm excited about them, will lead me far away again. It was beginning to look like I would be home for a week, at camp for 5 weeks, and then very very far away again until mid-August. Some people can be away from thier families for 8 months and not even think twice about it. I can't. I could physically survive. But it wouldn't be fun. I don't do well if I'm not being hugged by loved ones. (Have I mentioned that before?)

Another door that's opened since this round of nursing school comes in the form of a monstrosity of an application for a different program. This has a very small window of time that it will be open, and requires a lot of time and effort. I will be working on this when I get home and have a more reliable internet connection.

Mainly, I'm coming home to be with my family. They need me right now, and I need them. I think God called me to love the people of Ti Guinea in Haiti. But He did not call me to abandon my love for my family. Originally the plan was for me to come home in April, but as I got more confident that I would be in College Station at nursing school I extended my trip, assuming that I would see them because I would be close.

This was not an easy decision. I first thought, "What will everyone think of me?" I let the fear of men overcome my heart. Will people think I've quit? Will they think I just got too lonely? Will they think I'm not strong enough to do this? Will they want to support me in the future? Will they think I'm flakey? Will they understand the reasons I'm coming home? I hope you do understand. If not, please ask me!

Also, I'm not quitting. In fact, I'm coming back. I'm coming back on May 12. I'm going to spend 3 weeks at home soaking up and loving on my family. Then I will return on the 12 to set up and help run the camp that I've been helping plan. Also, after 3 weeks of English, I'll need to brush up on my Kreyol before I am translating! I'll be returning again on the flight I had already had tickets for on May 23. Also, many of the doors that opened will hopefully lead me back to Haiti and this place sooner than later.

I've talked about how bittersweet it is going to be to leave. Oh my! I had no idea! I was a total mess when I told my friends here that I was leaving. I was able to tell Boss Varis and only had misty eyes. I explained everything about Coleman, and how if I don't go home now, I may not see him for a long time. And I told him I was coming back. Everyone is fully supportive, both of me going to spend time with my brother, and of me coming back. After that, I told Tala and Tchaly. I got through, "I'm leaving Thursday" and then started sobbing. Boss Varis had to finish for me. I finally pulled it together. And then Guerline walked around the corner. Seeing my red eyes she asked, "Sa ou gen?" "what's going on"  I got no words out. Just sobbing. Boss Varis told her. All I could say over and over through my tears was, "M'ap vini anko! M'ap vini anko!" (I'm coming back! I'm coming back!) 

I don't know if crying is culturally weird here, or if I'm just super pathetic when I cry. Probably both. They just kept saying, "Don't cry, please don't cry. Stop crying. You are going to make us cry. Please don't cry. You are coming back! We aren't mad!" I just wow.... it was so hard telling them I was leaving. I'm going to miss them SO much. Even now I'm biting back tears thinking about missing them. I told them its so hard to love two places. I told them that I'm going to leave half of my heart here, and take half with me to give to my family. Guerline told me, "You need a bunch of hearts if you are going to keep them with everyone you love.".  Mission accomplished. My greatest goal of being here was to love somone. Even if it was just one person. Her saying that made me realize that she knew I love her. I just hugged her and cried.

Thinking about leaving in less than 36 hours... instead of 36 days. Is a strange feeling. .

I'm excited to see my family. I need to spend time with them before Coleman leaves. I will be be coming back. I could never leave like this if I didn't know when I was coming back, and know that it was going to be soon!

I think the hardest thing I will ever have to deal with in my life is also my greatest blessing. Loving two countries. Two peoples. God has loved me so much. His love through me makes this possible.


10 on Tuesday

I have recently realized how strange my life is. Today I figured I'd use the 10 on Tuesday to highlight some weirdly strange things about my life that seem normal. Let me clarify, there are far more than 10 things that are weird about my life. These are simply the ones that stood out to me in the past few days.

1. I brush my teeth standing on my porch. In the mornings, there are usually 5-10 people at camp and so I brush my teeth with them around. Its very strange to brush your teeth with an audience. And slightly uncomfortable.

2. The other day I was talking to the lady that makes my food. I had to choose what part of the chicken I wanted. Want to know my choices? Head, neck, heart, liver, gizzard, or feet."ummmmmm. pass?"
In Haiti, feet are a treasured part of the chicken. On Saturdays I eat soup. The lady that cooks for me told me she was going to make soup for me and put the feet in it.... for about 30 mintues I acted like I was fine with it. Then I couldn't handle it any longer and I told her, as politely as possible in kreyol, "Madam Marcel, thank you for wanting to make me a delicious soup. But I want to give you the chicken feet. You can take them home and cook them.... frankly, I'm afraid of chicken feet." She laughed and thanked me for the wonderfu gift of chicken feet. I considered that a win, win. I didn't have to eat chicken feet AND I made her happy.

3. There is always the occasional frog/spider/other bug that somehow finds its way into my house and or clothing. I am completely disgusted with myself when I find a spider or bug in my clothes and just calmly brush it off or remove it from my person. Who am I?

4. I have a question for you. how big is the towel you use when you get out of the shower? Is it made of terry cloth? Ok. Well for the past 4 months I have been using a tiny little shammy-type cloth towel that is not much larger than a hand towel. I discovered a terry cloth towel a week or so ago, and have been feeling incredibly pampered each time I take a shower because I have a regular sized-terry cloth towel to look forward to.

5. Speaking of showering. When I get more than one shower in a week I feel like I've acheived something. This may be too much information, but whatever... I've never claimed to be anything but brutally honest on this blog. I am, looking forward to showering like a regular human being again. I may even shower twice a day to make up for all the showers I've missed over the past 4 months.

6. I talked to my mom this weekend and she said she was telling a friend of ours about some of my stories. He couldn't believe the things I had versus the things I didn't have. (So last week I went for 5 days without running water. We were out. There was simply no water. This is part of the reason I shower less often. You never know when you'll run out of water and be covered in soap.) Our friend couldn't believe this news, "You mean to tell me that they have cell phones, but no running water??" I hadn't thought it was all that strange until phrased that way. Oh Haiti, always an adventure!

7. It is strange to me that I can go an entire day without speaking a word of English. I suposse this is how bi-lingual people are. If you speak more than one language this may not seem weird to you. But its very weird to me. I've even caught myself thinking and dreaming in Kryeol. Very strange. But I'm not complaining, its kinda cool!

8. One thing that had never happened to me in the states, and now happens to me almost every day.... Being covered in mango juice. These mangos are super ripe, and super juciy. Many times I feel like I need to shower after eating one. There is always a small puddle at my feet when I finish, and mango juice dripping down my hands the entire time I eat it. Again, I'm not complaining. I'll miss that when I come home!

9. I've never claimed to be an early-bird. You can ask my mom about the joys of waking me up when I was little. I used to be a night-owl. Now.... I don't know what I am. My younger friends in college called me a grandma for most of my Junior and Senior year. I think its true. But being in Haiti has made me somewhat of an early bird. I am usually out of bed by 8 at the latest.... mostly because it starts getting hot at 8 and if you stay in bed you feel like you are going to cook there. I'm starting to love waking up early, but also looking forward to air conditioning and being able to sleep late!

10. I know I mention this a lot... but its true. I miss hugs. I'll admit it. I'm a hugger. I usually make sure that I get at least one good hug a day when I'm in the states. At least! I have not had a hug in almost a month. Good hug, bad hug, side hug, nothing. This is not normal for me. It may be normal for some of you, and if it is I pity you. So be prepared, I will probably tackle hug some of you when I see you for the first time. Wear your football pads!

Have a happy Tuesday


Not Selected...

This morning I spent some time dwelling on one of my favorite passages. I have clung to this so tightly so many times. And here we are, again. Clinging to God's faithfulness. Clinging to His love. Believing in His plan.

"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD."
Lamentations 3:21-26

I just heard back from nursing school. "Thank you for your interest, but we regret to inform you that you were not selected for admission."
Not what I was expecting. I was upset, but not too upset. Texted my sister to have my parents call me. I picked up the phone:

"Hey honey"

Tears. I don't know why this always happens. I'll be fine until I hear my dad's voice. Then I just lose it. I think its because I know how much he cares. I know I can trust him. He is always fighting for my good. Always protects, always hopes, always loves. My father on earth is a lot like my Father in Heaven. I can trust them both with everything. But as smart as my daddy is, my God is all-knowing.

God knew this whole time. He knew before he laid the foundations of the world that this was going to happen.  He knew that I would end up applying to only one school, and throw away the other 3 applications I had started. He gave me peace that this was the right thing to do. He knows my future. I can trust Him. I was dissapointed for about 5 minutes.(I know, not very long) I wanted this so badly. But my first thought was, "Ok God. You've got this. I don't know what your plan is. But I trust you."  I know He is doing this for my good and for His glory. I just haven't seen the exciting parts yet.

I've clung to that passage in Lamentations so tightly, so many times over the last 6 years. I've spent more than one night crying myself to sleep and quoting that verse in my head. This morning I was overwhelmed by God's goodness to me. I couldn't believe how faithful He always is. He always follows through. His timing is so strange. So beautiful. This morning, while overwhelmed by blessings, I read this verse and thought about God's forever loving faithfulness. With that in mind its hard to see this rejection as a rejection, but more as millions of open doors.

I have no plans past July 3rd.
No plans whatsoever.

I've been here before. On December 11 of last year I found out I was moving to Haiti in 35 days. On December 11th I had plans for the next 8 days. 35 days later. I stepped off the plane in Port Au Prince. God is faithful.

Here I am again. I have no idea what I'll be doing on July 4th. (probably watching fireworks.... somewhere in the world) I know my God is faithful. He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion. (Phil 1:6)

I don't feel too rejected because the girl that I was 8 months ago when I applied is a totally different girl than I am now. She got rejected. Not me. She is dissapointed. Not me. She would look at me now and tell me I'm crazy. But I'm excited. One door closed. Millions have opened. Just 2 nights ago my mom said, "If you don't get into nursing school, which I'm sure you will, I have an idea for you." We'll see what God does. His ways are higher than mine.

I am so thankful that I serve a God who knows my heart fully. Who knows this was not the best for me. Who knows what IS the best for me. Who I can trust fully, with no exceptions. I am so thankful for the blessings He's given me this week, even the ones that seem to be dissapointing. I'll count it all joy.

Welcome back to the land of the Inbetween....


10 on Tuesday

So honestly today I forgot it was Tuesday. I had a friend remind me this morning, and then after chatting for a while I completely moved on and forgot about it being Tuesday. That being said, I didn't write this post in my head all day. So lets see if I can come up with 10 somethings on this Tuesday ok?

I'll start with the easy stuff.

1. Today I taught school. I didn't have school at the end of last week because of something. I know the Kreyol word. And it means that they didn't have school cancelled. I think it was some sort of teachers meeting, conference, get-together type deal. Anyway. So I have missed the last few days of school. Today I had school. Which is always an experience. We were learning simple things... Months of the year. But the exciting part was that the wind felt like it was blowing a million miles an hour (this particular "classroom" is under a canopy tent. not much shielded from the elements.) There were a few times I thought that I was going to have to catch the black board in case it flew backwards. Then the wind would shift leaving me feeling like I needed to run for my life so I wouldn't get smashed by it falling on me. So that made months of the year interesting. When I asked what months and then what day their birthdays were in I discovered a little one with a birthday the day after my mom's. (He was less amused and excited than I was about this news. Oh well.)

2. This afternoon I tried to grab a nap at least 3 times and was unsucessful. That was a bummer. I could definitely have used one! But here we are. Its 7pm and now I feel fine, plenty of energy.... figures.

3. I saw Lelene today. Her leg is starting to look better. I feel weird saying that. It always looks bad. It always looks abnormal. But it seems to be starting to close up some. She told me that the nurse she has been going to for wound care has stopped washing it with betadine, and stopped applying antibiotic. She also has stopped washing it with soap and water. Its been over a week since this wound has been washed. It looked amazingly ok, but I urged and begged her to keep washing and keeping it clean. (We shall see. TIH.)

4. Today is the 40 day marker. I have 40 days left here. Wow. Ever time I talk or think about leaving that lump in the back of my throat appears. I don't want to miss these last 40 days. I don't think I will. I'm trying to soak up every second. Every person. Every relationship. I don't know when I will see these beautiful people again. That day is not promised to me. And that makes me sad. It makes me want to pack them all up and bring them home with me. (Lord knows, we have enough suitcases in the depot to hold everyone!) I pray that I will see them again. Just thinking about not seeing them again makes my heart break a little, and it makes me a little nauseous. I don't know what the future holds. But I know who does, and I know He is so very good. (and, lets face it, He's a way better planner than me!) Leaving is going to be so bittersweet.

5. Not only am I trying to invest my time with people here, but also with my Savior. I've had so many, many hard moments these past few weeks. God has used those times when I'm alone. He's called me to His word and whispered peace and hope to my soul. Sitting in the middle of God's creation and looking at all that He's made and then thinking that He is even concerned with me, much less gave His Son for me so that I may be allowed to enjoy Him forever. wow. I figured that I would get a lot of quality God time when I moved away from everyone and everything familiar to live with people I didn't know or understand, but I had no idea how fun and wonderful it would be!

6. Today is the 40 day marker. I only have 40 days until I am in the airport in Houston hugging my family, talking fast, and crying (lets be honest. We'll all know I'll be crying.) Leaving Haiti will be bitter. Coming home will be oh so sweet! I can't wait to sit at the kitchen table and drink coffee with my mom. Or sit with my dad on the couch. Or stay up late with Hopie laughing and talking with her sitting on my bed while I'm pretending to sleep. Or catch up with Gracie on all that is going on in all the world. I will miss seeing Coleman by 17 days. But I'm sure a long phone conversation will be in order. I can't wait to spend the week between being home and going to camp soaking up life with my loved ones. I can't wait to have a telephone that always has signal and doesn't cost me an arm and leg to talk to people! I can't wait to see all my incredibly wonderful friends when I go up to College Station or at camp! I can't wait to sit in church on Sunday May 29th and feel "home." I'm sure that week will be full of happy, happy tears and lots of hugs! I can NOT wait.

7. I'm currently still waiting and praying about nursing school. I was confident I was going to hear a week ago. And every day between now and then. I was supossed to hear between mid March and mid April. If I'm not mistaken "mid April" is in 3 days. I talked to a friend that is in the school right now and she said she didn't find out until early May. And at that point she had been waitlisted. I don't know if I have the sanity to wait that long. But I've had the "God's timing is perfect" conversation about 43 times in the last 3 days. I have my plan. (And it is awesome, if I do say so myself!) But God has His. And so far He has a perfect track record of topping my plans. He also has a perfect track record of being incredibly faithful, incredibly good. Maybe I should accept that His timing is perfect. His plan is cosmic. He's got this world under control. He doesn't need my help.

8. On a lighter note. I sometimes joke around that I'm becoming a crazy island jungle lady. (Being the only one that you know on a tropical island will do that to you.) Today I almost went crazy island lady on a group of about 55 Haitians. Here's the story. Boss Varis, Guerline, Boss Tchaly, and I all went to town to buy gas and a few random supplies.
The vehicle I drive here is one of those old "Mark III" vans, with the lazy boy bucket seats, and curtains on the windows, and the high roof. You know the van I'm talking about? We all had a friend with that car. You wanted to ride with them on road trips because they laid the back seat into a bed AND they had a TV in thier car. Ok. So I drive one of those in Haiti. I want to go on record as saying I have never driven a car that is harder to manuver, or with more blind spots. Maybe I would make a horrible soccer mom. I don't know. Its not the size of the car that bothers me. I learned how to drive in a Ford F-250. I can handle big cars. This van is just..... the worst. 
(Phew. ok. van rant over. ready to move on? me too.)
So we go to the gas station. I draw a lot of attention when I go into town. I am a white, female driver. Not your typical everyday sight. Also, apparently the stereotype that women can't drive exists here too. (especially white women.) Long story short. I ended up with about 10 men standing around my car shouting things like, "Come forward! Go back! Turn left! Turn right! Gack! Forward! Stop! Go!" But they were yelling these things ALL at the same time and in kreyol. I got frustrated and declared loudly that I didn't understand what they wanted me to do. So 15 more men joined in to help. Perfect. Just what I need. 25 people yelling different orders at me in another language! We eventually got it all sorted out I got the stupid huge, dumb blind-spot van in the right place and we purchased that gas! (Whoop! Let's get OUT of here!) I also explained, in no uncertain terms, to Boss Varis that I never wanted that to happen again. Nothing makes me feel like a dumb white girl more than 25 people yelling conflicting commands in another language. And the other 30 people discussing how the white girl can't understand or drive (gas stations here are much more crowded than ones in america.) Needless to say. This was not the highlight of my day. But I did survive and make it out in one peice and only yelled minimal mean things in kreyol!

9. For those of you that only comment on blog posts involving frogs.... here you go. I had a frog in my house last night. I know. This is really not a big deal. I am not scared of frogs. But what I have come to realize is that I am scared of the unpredictability of frogs. If you leave them alone, they may just sit there and eath the mosquitoes, or they may jump in your bed and make it all slimy. Either way. There was a frog in my house. Not a dry warty one that moves slow. A sleek, green-brown, slimy one...with an impressive jump range. Anyway. I went through many scenarios.
1. Shoo him out? (and risk him jumping around and hiding.)
2. Smash him? (this is typically what the Haitians do. but I try to avoid amphibian guts when possible.)
3. Electrocute him with my suprisingly powerful mosquito raquet? (this got a few votes from people who were supporting me through this hazard on skype, but I decided against it.)
4. Allow him to co-habitate and hope that he eats mosquitoes and does not make my bed slimy.

I eventually opted for option 4. Jumping frogs are just too risky. Eventually he made the mistake of coming into the open on the floor. I captured him in a random cup that I had, but then I got distracted and forgot about him until this morning. By that time he had given up on life.  Poor froggie, I didn't mean to kill you.

10. I really think I should be exempt from writing a tenth fact. numbers 8 and 9 were long drawn out stories with way more details than necessary. Sorry. Also, I think I might develop carpal tunnel syndrome from typing too much. I think I may take bets on who thinks I'll start showing symptoms... this could be a fun game. Let me know what you think.

Happy Tuesday everyone!


Bondye beni nou anpil!

Ok, I don't know why, but tiny, grey haired Haitian men have got to be the most adorable people ever. You can look at thier eyes and know that so much life has been lived in them.
I have two men that I want to tell you about. They have both stolen my heart and made me love this country even more.

Tonight I was sitting on my porch just wasting time on facebook. I saw Tancred walking my way. There was no reason for him to be over by my house since he always sits at the gate, and he usually isn't around at this time of the evening. I walked over to where he was and asked him what was going on, assuming there must be a problem. We began talking, and I'm still not sure if there was a problem or not, but nevertheless we got it settled. And then he began to tell me about how he was not happy that I was here all alone. So he decided he was going to sit and talk to me until the night guards got there. We talked for a while about nothing in particular. In case you don't remember, this is the man whom we were able to bless with a house in February. I asked him how his new house was and if he liked it.
His reaction was a little confusing. He looked angry for a second and then began to talk very fast. I realized he reacted this way because he couldn't even believe I was asking such a ridiculous question. He said, "You SAW my old house! You wouldn't even let your dog sleep there. You know that. (true)." He talked for a while about how great his new house was. Since it rained last night I asked about the rain. I thought he was going to cry when he told me that it did not come into the house! We talked about how awesome the sound of rain on the tin roof is. He talked about how "Bondye te beni nou"-"God has blessed us [his family.]"
He told me that today at the gate he heard me tell one of my friends from church that I was leaving on May 23 and that he was going to miss me. *biting back tears*.  I told him that I was not happy to leave. I wanted to stay here. Now the tears are welling in my eyes, threatening to run hot down my cheeks, my voice is getting all choked up and cracky. I tried to explain how God has put love in my heart for the people of Haiti, but that I love the people of Ti Guinea most of all! When I am at home I miss everyone here. I always pray for them. My heart hurts to come back. I told him that even if I'm away a very long time I don't want anyone to think I've forgotten them. I will never forget you. I told him the reason I am leaving in May is to finish school. He said, "I thought you were finished already." I had to explain that I was finished with one kind of school, but need to go back to school at least one more time, maybe two, to finish learning all that I want to learn.He smiled and said, "When you finish learning everything you will come back and serve us here?" It was a question, but by the way he asked it he already knew the answer. I shared my dreams for the future and he said he couldn't wait for me to come back and help them all.
Then we moved on and just talked about other things. Like how much we love the mountain, how beautiful it is up there. How God has blessed us with all these beautiful things here.
It was a precious, precious conversation with such a precious man. He's not someone I get to talk to on a day-to-day basis, but I'm so glad he came to say hello tonight. It started getting dark, and after making sure at least 3 times that I was going to be ok if left all alone, he decided to go home, munching on a mango as he went. 
I'm so blessed by the hearts of these people. He was so gracious to listen to my Kreyol (and compliment me on it.). I'm so glad we were able to give him a house. He knows he is blessed. He is so thankful. It is so beautiful to talk to someone so thankful.

 I believe I'v talked about this man before. I honestly don't know his name. Some people call him 'iron hands", I call him "the most adorable little man ever". Gersan told me he is the toughest man in the village. He is also somewhere around 5 feet tall. Did I mention I think he's adorable? I do. He came to me with a machete cut. He had been slaughtering a cow and somehow, I think he fell on the machete. He lost quite a bit of blood considering his age and size. The cut was deep, and I was worried about infection because it had been two days, and he said the machete had cow blood on it when he cut himself. His cut was decently deep, and his hands are so incredibly tough from all the work he's done in his lifetime. Hence the name iron hands. The first time I cleaned it there is no doubt in my mind that it was incredibly painful. But he stood and just watched and didn't so much as flinch or even blink. It was incredible. I asked if it hurt and he just smiled and said. "oh yes!" I found out later that this man has had a long history of running Americans out of the village. He has never liked Americans and doesn't welcome them here. Because of his situation, and my friendship with his daughter-in-law, I think he was persuaded to come to us for help. As he began to heal I saw his walls come down. He told me about his family. His wife, he told me, is crazy, she doesn't remember him or their kids.She only remembers her sister, so she lives with them to help take care of her. He has a few living kids, but most of them left and are in the Dominican Republic. He has no living brothers or sisters. He told me about his garden on the mountain, but how its becoming hard to climb up there to take care of it. I asked him his age the first day he came. He had no idea. Two days later he came back with a tiny paper folded and put in a matchbox that he kept in his pocket. It had "74" written on it, and he informed me that he found out, or figured out his age. It was so adorable.
Thankfully his hand began healing well. He really could have used stiches, but the butterfly bandages worked almost as well. He always thanks me before he leaves. At his last visit I told him I was so glad he had come and I was so happy that his hand was all healed. He looked at me with the most sincerity and told me, "Mesi boucoup, miss! Mesi anpil, miss! Mesi anpil anpil!" -"Thank you so much, nurse! Thank you a lot, nurse! Thank you a lot, a lot!"  I had to fight the urge to give him a huge hug and tell him that I loved him. (That would be somewhat culturally inappropriate).

I am so thankful for these two old men. Life has been lived in them. You can look in their eyes and see that.

God has blessed us! Bondye te beni nou!


Weekends are....


Weekends hold so much variety. They can be so hard, so lonely, so slow. But they can also be so beautiful, so refreshing, so free.

This weekend, so far has been all of those things.

(Disclaimer: This post is more of a details-of-the-day post. Sorry for giving you all the details and no real thoughts, but my creativity is zilch right now.)

On Friday afternoon Guerline left and went to Limbe, planning on returning on Monday night. This gives me Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night all alone. Half of me was excited to have some time where I'm alone and can just relax, do whatever I want, talk to myself without feeling totally crazy (I live on an island and have no one to speak English to... don't judge, you'd do it too!), whatever. Then Friday night came.
I checked skype. No one there.
My friends and family were all working, celebrating birthdays, going out with friends, taking weekend vacations, etc. I felt so alone. Then I wished Guerline was here. Instead of doing the normal thing that most human beings would do (enjoy some peace, read a book, etc.) I allowed myself to get very lonely. Cried a little, (ok, ok. a lot.) and went to sleep around 7pm, (yes I'm aware that I'm a grandma.) Around 11, I got an urgent text from a dear sweet friend of mine. Her brother was in the hopsital, very scary situation. I cried some more. Wishing I could do something. I hated that I wasn't there to talk to her or help in some way. Its hard to say, "Call me if you need anything at any time of day/night. I'm here for you." When your phone signal is spotty and you are oceans away.
I couldnt sleep again, so I distracted myself by doing some catch up reading on a few blogs, and eventually went back to sleep around 3am feeling much more peaceful and sane than I did at 7pm earlier.

Saturday was pretty stellar, and included all of my favorite things.

Jenny, (my baby) came by to visit me. She is such a cuddle bug, and I love that! One of the things I didn't think about before coming here was how much of a touch person I am. And how much I would miss being hugged all the time. (Meaning that when I come home I'm expecting all of you to hug me like you mean it!!!)

The whether was perfect: sunny, but not scorchingly so. I took a nice, long, cold shower (not my favorite, but being clean is nice), washed my hair for the first time in, well its not important how long its been, but I felt refreshed and clean. Then I warmed up dinner, which happened to be my absolute favorite Haitian food and skyped with a friend and compared our awesome days while I ate. After that I put fresh sheets on my bed, and it started raining on the tin roof (my favorite). After that I texted my mom for a while and had a few good laughs.

Since I had finished the book I was reading (Crazy love, by Francis Chan) that afternoon while Jenny was sleeping, I decided to start another. I began reading God Is the Gospel, by John Piper.  Y'all. Go buy this book and start reading it now! I'm only through the introduction and chapter 1, but its SO good so far. My sister, Gracie gave me Crazy love when she was here in February, and my dear friends Jeff and Natalie, whom I've adopted into the family, gave me God is the Gospel for my birthday in September. I can't believe I haven't started it until now, but I'm glad I finally started! So Saturday was just all around a great day! Praise God for days like that!

Today has been good so far. Sundays are always hard, but today hasn't been as hard as others. I figure Sundays are what you make of them. So I've started going to 2 churches on Sundays. The one here in the village. And also my church back home... (Thank you podcasts. My mom raved about the "Gospel of John" series back in '09, but I hadn't gotten to listen to it until now!)

Something I thought I'd never do that I did today... Listen to a sermon and suck on a mango and pick mango fibers out of my teeth... (I hope God didn't mind. I was enjoying His creation!)

So I guess the point of this post is to say that sometimes weekends are weird. This weekend I went from crying myself to sleep on Friday night, to having an awesome day on Saturday, to having what is so far, a pretty great Sunday. And I'm sure tonight will complete the weekend of awesome-weirdness!

If you are still reading this post you must be truely dedicated. I feel so lame that I'm just spouting off details of the day. I'm sorry if I bored you. I'll try harer next time. But for those of you that wonder what I do on a day to day basis and what little things make me happy (skype conversations, cuddly babies, cold showers, rain on the tin roof.)... Well. Now you know!

Have a Happy Sunday!


10 on Tuesday

Today is the 10 on Tuesday: Thankfulness edition.   (Its very long and wordy. But I am thankful for so much!)

Today God has opened my eyes to the beauty around me in Himself, in His people, and in His nature.

1. I'm sure you all have noticed, or I have told you how I've been missing home the past week or so. Its been hard. There have been times I wondered what possessed me to think I could do this for almost 5 months? I've cried. I've been upset. I've wanted to go home. As that was happening I began to lose my love for where I am and for the people I'm with. I started to only think about home. And at times, be upset with my decision to be here. Today. That is not the story. Beginning Saturday I started to feel more "here" than I had for about a week. Today, I feel totally here. Its been so wonderful. I had started to get nervous that I was going to spend the next 50 days counting down to coming home and not enjoying my time here. I am still looking forward to coming home, and I'm still missing people greatly, but I know the time will come to leave and I will be sad. I didn't want to leave with a bad taste in my mouth I wanted to spend the last two months I have here "ALL HERE" and that's how I feel today. Being all here has opened my eyes to many other of God's blessings that I had been missing. So, today I'm thankful for being 'here'.

2. Today I'm thankful for the mountains! I was walking to school today and looked up, I usually look down at the road because there are boulders, trash, animal excrement, and sometimes snakes that I like to avoid stepping on when I can. Today I looked up and was struck by the beauty. I truely live in the most beautiful place on earth! There is a huge gorgeous mountain in my back yard, an entire mountain range in my front yard, and river and hillside in my side yard. If I climb any of these hills I can see the whole valley. Lush, covered in trees bearing fruit like mangos, banannas, coconuts, among others. It is truely a gorgeous place. I had been missing it, so today I'm thankful for my eyes being opened to beauty.

3. I think a lot of my homesickness and feeling lonely was due to the fact that I have been doing a lot of work on my computer and haven't had the chance to go out in the village and visit with my friends. Even that short walk through the village is so special. I pass by the houses of those in the village and the children run out to say hello. The women look up from their washing clothes, or braiding hair, or whatever the chore of the afternoon is, and greet me. In recent months its not such a big deal for me to walk down the road. I've become somewhat normal. And I love that! I love that they know me. They know my schedule, and I'm just a part of their village. I walk by and have random coversations with the machans- street vendors. They make their food. The best I can describe it is little pillows full of a Haitian type of cole-slaw that are then deep fried to a golden brown. I've never tried one, but they look delicious. Some of them sell cold bottles of juice, or little crackers, or gum, or small bottles of rum, or shots of klere- homemade sugar cane liquor. Today I am thankful I got to walk through the village, have short conversations with my machan friends, and say hello to those walking down the road. Today I am thankful that they have accepted me into their village.

4. Today I'm thankful for my school kids. I haven't taught school with any regularity since my dad and Gracie were here visiting in early February and I think I missed it more than I realized. Teaching school here is always interesting. Every day is an adventure. Its easy to get discouraged, and in fact, that's what had happened, I felt like, I wasn't a good teacher, and even if I was I don't speak the language, and what is me teaching them English vocabulary going to do to help them? While its incredibly easy to get discouraged about teaching school here, I have realized its more about the relationships than anything else. Its not about them learning English, its about me spending time with them and pouring into their lives. The more time I spend here and the more I learn the more I realize that my ministry is about relationships. I'm not doing the health education in the same way I imagined, but I'm forming relationships. Maybe in the future I will be able to do so. But today, I'm thankful for my school kids. I'm thankful for them loving me. I'm thankful for thier smiles. I love my older class. They are so smart. I feel like they get it, and we can talk and goof off at the same time. Such a joy. The school kids are such a blessing. Thankful for them today.

5. I'm thankful for my weekend. This weekend I spent a lot of time in my hammock and reading books that have been in my little library, but I haven't gotten time to delve into. I relaxed, I napped, I spent time with Jesus. It was wonderful. On Sunday I went up to the mountain and had church with just me and God. I listened to podcasts of teaching from my church back home. It was so refreshing to sit in the sunshine and hear teaching from men who love Jesus and love to make much of him. (I think I even got a small tan in the process!) The sunshine and my "American" church refreshed my soul. So today I am thankful for my weekend, for the sunshine, and for the Savior who refreshes my heart.

6. I woke up this morning refreshed and feeling great! That is something to be thankful for in itself. I have never been one to dream much, or to remember my dreams when I do. I definitely don't have many scary dreams or nightmares. Until I came here. It seems like I dream every night. I can remember most of the dreams when I wake up, and many of them are very scary. In my time here I've woken myself up many times with little shrieks, from being afraid. Twice I've woken myself up laughing (I much prefer that). But today, I'm thankful for two consecutive nights of sweet sleep, and minimal dreaming. And when I did dream they were 'sweet dreams'. Today I'm thankful for rest.

7. Today I'm thankful for good mommys. On my way home from school I stopped by one of my favorite houses. I have to walk right by anyway and they are always in the yard, so I stopped by to say hello. This lady blessed me today. She always has a million kids all over her and in her yard. I don't know how many of them are her's, but I think she has at least 3 between the ages of 8 and 3. I have alway felt like she is a good mom, she just gives off that vibe. (Did I mention that she's beautiful? She is.) She's a little older, but wears her years well and shows the joy of those years in her face. Today I stopped by, and as she was helping one child get dressed she was helping her other little one learn how to read. I get the feeling that most of the adults in this village don't know how to read, and also that most moms don't help their children with homework. It blessed me to see this mother helping her little one to learn. So today, I'm thankful for mom's who care about their babies, and spend time making sure that they are getting the most from their education. (This includes my own dear, sweet, beautiful mom!)

8. I've been blessed recently in the food department. Until last week a woman named Janet came and made food for me. Her food was wonderful. After 3 months I'm still not sick of rice and beans. Its a miracle. But I'm still not sick of it. Last week I got a new cook. This lady is Tchaly's sister. She makes food for the orphans in the hospital in Limbe. She also used to make food for the American doctors who worked and lived here. She is straight from heaven. Her food is always an experience. Every bite is heavenly. Its also so spicy that it makes me reach for the water to put out the fire in my mouth, but the González in me really missed that. Anyway, after totally being blown away by her food I asked if she would teach me. So she's been teaching me how to make stellar Haitian food. I can't wait to try it when I get home!! So today I'm thankful for Madam Marcell and her willingness to help me be a better Haitian cook!

9. I'm thankful for silly moments when silly things happen and it makes me laugh. I was sitting here writing this post and heard Manfred Mann's song "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" in French. You know the song I'm talking about?
"There she was just a-walkin' down the street
Singin' Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do
Snappin' her fingers and shufflin' her feet
Singin' Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do
She looked good (looked good), she looked fine (looked fine)
She looked good, she looked fine and I nearly lost my mind"

I know you know the one. Anyway. Very funny and strange to hear it in French! So I'm thankful for weird moments that make me laugh.

10. Lastly, but not leastly.... I'm incredibly thankful for my friends. Both here and in the States. The ones in the states have listened to me complain and moan about how I miss home, how I miss them, etc. And they haven't complained (at least to my face.) In the past couple of days I have been so blessed. I've had wonderful, encouraging conversations with so many friends. I so much appreciate that I have friends that I can word vomit on. I'm thankful for friends that still ask me my opinion on everything, from heart issues, to haircuts. It is such a joy and a pleasure to know that I am not on this journey alone. I litterally could NOT ask for a better support group. So today I'm thankful for you! If you are reading this, I can't wait to give you a huge hug when I get home, and if we are lucky have a long chat over some coffee! Thank you for your prayers! Thank you for sharing your life with me. Even those of you who are strangers, I'm thankful for you! It blesses me to know that even people who I don't actually know are before God's throne praying for me. Thanking God for His provision of support and friendship.

I feel like I could write all day about things I'm thankful for. God has been so faithful. He always is. I can't wait to see what will happen in the next two months that I'm here. And I can't wait for you to journey with me!


The Inbetween

I've tried to write an intro to this post 3 times now and failed. I'm not sure how to articulate the way I'm feeling right now.

I'm back in the Land of Inbetween. I used to call it the "Rollercoaster of Life", but this is so much more beautifully put.

A friend of mine posted it on her blog a while back and it touched my heart.

(from Deeper Walk, a Relevant Devotional Series)
italics and bolds added my myself.

There's a place between here and there. A piece of ground in the middle of take-off and landing. A section of the unknown within beginning and ending. You probably find yourself there from time to time. It's the land known as Inbetween.

Inbetween is one of the most rugged places in life. You aren't fully here, and you aren't fully there. Your emotions and hopes are strewn across an endless list of possibilities. Door knobs of wood, brass, and silver line the path, but which will open? In the land of Inbetween, the paths are lined with sealed envelopes and foggy dreams. Excitement runs forward and fears hold back. And if you stay long enough, you feel the tremors of your soul.

The land of Inbetween is downright scary. It's a place of blind trust. It's where the pedals of faith meet the narrow road of fortitude and where movement is demanded though there's no place to go. The worst part of this land isn't the uncertainty or frustration that accompany it - it's that God likes it when you're there.

While He's no sadist, God loves the land of Inbetween. He loves what it does to us. He loves the humility and dependence it creates in our hearts, so He creates innumerable forks in life's road that swerve us into the land of Inbetween. The unknowns of job, marriage, children, and home are the signs of this uncertain land. At times, people are thrust into Inbetween by mishaps, accidents, sudden deaths, and even unexpected fortune. Some people visit so many times they begin to wonder if it's life. And they aren't far off.

So what will hold you steady when you walk through the terrain of Inbetween? A recognition that Inbetween is God's design. In one miraculous moment, the Creator of the universe placed you in the greatest Inbetween of all time - the place between the earthly creation and eternity. Life's smaller lunges forward and backward are merely postcard reminders that there's something greater than this place we're visiting.

If you're in your own land of Inbetween, remember that God was the original designer of this journey. You can get mad, scream, and even pout if you want. But it doesn't change the fact that you're merely passing through. Everything else is Inbetween.

Praise the One who knows my future. Who keeps it safe. And who makes me trust Him.


Only slightly traumatized...

*If you aren't a fan of rodents. Or if you would like to pretend that rats don't exist in countries like Haiti. Or if you don't like discussing dead things. Or if you are going to be offended by me talking about vomit. Or if you don't appreciate people being overly dramatic.... this post is not for you* Consider yourself warned. Proceed at your own risk.

Ok. So. Here we go. As you may have guessed this is a rat story. (All of our favorites right? ugh. Gross. no!)

So here's the background story... When Daniel and Hudson came they brought numerous mouse traps and 2 oversized rat traps. In their stay here they caught, I think 5 rats and 1 mouse. They left the traps set and ready to go. (They left last Wednesday...)

On Tuesday of this week I realized the rat traps hadn't been checked. I told Boss Varis and he said he would do it in the morning... needless to say we both forgot. I've thought about it almost every day at some point, but chose to hope that if I ignored the need it would eventually go away on its own.

Last night I decided that it HAD to happen today. With the advice and encouragement of a few friends I decided I could do this. I don't need to ask for help from a Haitian. I'm a big girl. I could use a pair of medical gloves.... and cover those with a pair of gardening gloves just for extra safety. Also, I was assured that the rats would be "riggored out" and have no eye function. (I was a little paranoid that they would open thier eyes or something as I was throwing them away. *shudder*) This morning. I woke up determined to accomplish mission: Disopose of Riggored-Out Rats.

I went to the depot and retrieved said medical and gardening gloves. I came armed with an extra cliff bar to load the traps. I walked towards the location of the traps. I have never felt a more determined expression on my face. I started imagining what I would see, how it would go. Would I handle it like a champ? Or would I get all woozie and want to throw up?

I made another trip back to the depot to get the ladder. Slowly began to put on my gloves.... at this point I am feeling my stomach start to churn a little bit, and I'm alternating between being in a cold and hot sweat. Hot because its a million degrees outside, cold sweat thinking about seeing a rat, that has been caught in the trap dead for almost a week in this hot humid weather. Thinking about the complete and utter nastiness of this whole thing. Wishing Daniel and Hudson could come back and do this themselves. Or that they had never brought the traps in the first place. I mean, the rats were here, true, but I didn't have to acknowlegde them.

I took a few very deep breaths and climbed the ladder... step. by. step. When I got to the top of the ladder I realized that I would have to litterally STICK MY HEAD up in there so I could see. "ok.... deep breaths... You can do this, Noelle." I steadied myself on the ladder, just in case I jumped back, or threw up, or fainted... (I felt like I was about to do all three and I didn't want to fall down (safety first).

Timidly looked in the roof... straining to see the trap.....

..... nothing there. Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! The trap had been set off but wasn't holding any rodents! I feel as though normal people would have been upset and loaded the trap again to catch the little sucker that stole the food.... not this white girl!

Today I counted that as a victory and left the trap empty! I took a deep sigh of relief and decended the ladder with huge smile on my face.

I was only slightly mentally traumatized by the scenarios running through my imagination, but I have no real rodents stories. Score one for Noelle!

Have a happy April 1st. And don't believe everything you may hear today! (Although this story is 100% non-fabricated.) I thought about writing a rat into the trap, but grossed myself out too much by just thinking about it. So I decided to keep the blog honest! I'm sorry for the the over-dramatized story with no real climax. But, I was too worked up to not share.

I wish you all a lovely, rodent-free afternoon!


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