"N'ap tann ou"

My heart is light, but also heavy. God has blessed me so much. So many times this afternoon through tear-filled eyes I exclaimed, "Bondye te beni nou." God has blessed us.

We had our final day of day-camp today. We ended up only getting to have camp for two days instead of three due to Haitian holidays on Wednesday. Camp went wonderfully. The children had a blast as always! Fell in love with the Americans and played their little hearts out.

At the end I asked Peter Marc to give them a little thank you for coming and dissmissal. He said, "I think you can do it." So there I go, to the front of the church to give the dissmissal. I thanked them all for coming and told them that all the Americans were so happy they came to camp to learn about Jesus. I told them that the Americans loved them so much and were so glad to have met them. I then decided that this was probably a good time to announce formally that I was leaving Sunday since it was going to be the last time they were all gathered together with me.

I told them that I was leaving Sunday, to go back to school, so I could come back and live here always. I told them that I would keep them in my heart, but I will miss them so much when I was gone, and every day I'll be praying for them. I started getting a little choked up as I finished talking so I decided to cut it short. I asked the lady that was leading worship to sing "He Has Made Me Glad" because its one of the ones I know and love. As they began to sing, I couldn't help but choke back tears. I bit my lip hard, but the tears came anyway. I couldn't believe this was one of the last times I'll see them all in the near future. I will miss them all more than words can express. I remembered how good and gracious the Lord has been to give me this gift. The gift of knowing Him better, knowing and loving His people fiercely, praising Him for His blessings in two languages. He HAS made me glad!! As I looked through tear-filled eyes at all the faces that were staring at mine I couldn't believe this was actually happening. God has blessed me to give me deep relationships. We may not be able to communicate everything, but we can communicate a lot. I am not leaving strangers, I am leaving sisters and brothers. As the song closed, and Peter Marc prayed, I thanked God for my blessings.

Poupette and Shelove came to hug me and they told me they wanted to sing me a song. They got through the words "Orevwa, zanmi'm..." "Goodbye my friend" then they trailed off and buried their heads in my chest sobbing. I felt like my heart was getting ripped out. These girls love me, and I love them. We are friends, we are sisters. They are two of the girls I've known for the longest. I remember them both from my first trip here in 2007. I've seen them grow and mature even since I got here in January. We hugged and cried for almost a full minute, then they pulled away and tried to escape. I looked up and saw tears filling the eyes of face I saw, some already had spilled over and were streaming down the faces of both adults and children.

I couldn't believe they were crying. I knew I would cry, but I did not expect for them to cry. Until today I don't think I'd seen a Haitian cry; they are a tough people. Now I have seen tear stains on the faces of most of my friends here. Colas pulled me aside and comforted me, "We know you are coming back. N'ap Tann ou (we'll be waiting for you). You need to go now so you can go to school and come back to live here. We love you. We know you love us. N'ap Tann ou."  I looked at the faces of my friends. I kept saying over and over again, "Bondye te beni nou!" "God has blessed us!" I told them how blessed I was to know them and call them my friends. There were hugs all around and many tears. My heart loves these people more than I can even describe. Even as I type the words on the screen are starting to blur from tears forming. I can't imagine how much its going to hurt to leave them on Sunday. But God knows. He's preparing me. He's given me this blessing. He's put me in this place for this time. He'll give me what I need to make it. Its never easy to leave Haiti. But I've finished the task I was called to do. I need to go to school, and prepare for the next trip.

My goal for the entire time I lived here was to show love. That was always my motto and theme. I wanted the people I came in contact with to know that I love them always. Today I told a bunch of them, "You know I'll always love you!"  They all responded with a resounding, "oui!"  As I was leaving, a few of them started singing the song, "I have a friend who really loves me, who loves me, who loves me! I have a friend who really loves me, and Norell is her name."  Praise Christ. Praise the one who has poured His love into my heart and caused love to overflow. Praise the One who can free them from slavery to the enemy and give them freedom and eternal life in His Son! Praise the One who loves. Praise Him for His blessings. Praise Him for the blessing of friendship. Praise Him, for I know I will see many of these faces in Heaven, if not on earth!

I can't wait to see my friends and family back home and hug the ones I love, and I can't wait to come home to Haiti. I know they will be waiting!

Gersan church Update

Hello and thank you to all who have been praying for Gersan and the meeting at church. The meeting I asked for prayer about was scheduled to take place on Tuesday night. The people that he is meeting with, the church leaders had schemed to start a fight, and try to blame it on Gersan and get legal action involved. They were planning of falsely accusing him of being a ruffian to try to get the police involved. Gersan realized that this was the plan and asked that the meeting be rescheduled. The leaders are just trying to buy themselves time to spread more lies and false accusations about Gersan through the church. Thankfully the congregation is 100% behind him and supporting him all the way.

Gersan is here at Jacob's Well now and will return to Port Au Prince tomorrow morning. I'm uncertain if the meeting has been rescheduled or not, and if so, when it was rescheduled for. Please continue to be praying for him as this is a hard and hurtful time in their lives.

Betty and Gersan are planning on coming to the states for their daughter, Deborah's high school graduation, at the end of next week. Please pray that they will be rested and refreshed and encouraged in their short time home.

I'm not sure when the meeting is going to be rescheduled for, but pray for peace and rest in their lives!


Unashamed love. [Guest post]

Bonswa! Mwen rele Caitlin, Noelle's "ser" (sister) in Haiti. I am here visiting Noelle for 8 days and am captivated by the people, the culture, the beautiful children, the nature, and the camp, Jacob's Well. When Noelle describes loving two people and two countries, I find my heart longing for that same desire. The second I stepped off the plane on Sunday, I understood God's full intention for me being here; to love His people. Haitians are some of the humblest, most selfless people on the face of this earth; my prayer is that God would give me a desire to be like them. To love all, and worship One.

Today was the first day of camp. Children gathered from all over Ti Guinea to play games, make crafts, and hear about God's unfailing love for them. At one station, we listened to a Bible story and sang songs in Creole, and in English. In case you don't already know, Haitians sing loud. They lift their voices to their Creator, and cry out to Him singing "Alleluia, Alleluia!" They have unashamed love for Him. Hearing children and adults in unison proclaiming their love for Him in song, at the top of their lungs, gave me goosebumps. So many times when I worship I wonder who is watching me, or if I am deafening these people around me with my voice?! May God give me a heart that sings to Him, at the top of my lungs, even if it does deafen those around me. Their unashamed love is something that I long for, and something that makes these people unique and beautiful.

I find myself getting frustrated with the very limited Creole that I know. I am so thankful for Noelle and Jack and their willingness to run around and translate for me. My new saying is "Mwen pa konprann, di Noelle", translating to "I don't understand, tell Noelle". God willing, I want to come back one day, become fluent in Creole, and truly build relationships with the people here. They have so much to teach me, and I could learn so much from them. My new name for those who can't remember "Caitlin" is "Blanc", which means "white" in Creole. I was playing frisbee with a young girl and she kept screaming, "Blanc, Blanc, Blanc!!" when she wanted my full attention. It put the biggest smile on my face.

While my days here are numbered, I will have unlimited memories of the time I have spent here. The friendships that I have made and the relationships that I have started to build will travel home with me on the 23rd. I thank God for sweet Noelle and for blessing our relationship, I feel honored that these children would call me her sister. I pray that He would continue to use me to further His Kingdom and that He would continue to move me by using His people.
Orevwa from Haiti!


Prayer Request

Whatever you are doing at this moment please take a second and pray for Gersan Valcin.

Gersan is the pastor of a large church in Port Au Prince. He is a man who loves the Lord with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength. He preaches the truth fearlessly and passionately. God is working greatly through Gersan to further His kingdom. Over the Easter weekend over 40 people accepted Christ as their Savior.

Satan is not happy with the work that the Lord is doing through Gersan. He has caused great tension in the church leadership. There are three main families that feel as though the church is their church. They are not happy with the work that the Lord is doing through Gersan. This church leadership has a history of running pastors off. They want to be in absolute power. They have essentially fired Gersan from his position as pastor. Gersan feels that he has been called to stay and teach the truth. The congregation is behind Gersan. Many of them are praising our Father for giving them such a solid Bible teacher as Gersan. He is one of the only men on this island that preaches the whole truth of the Bible.

The group of families in leadership have made this a very hard past few months for Betty and Gersan. They have done and said incredibly hurtful things. Currently Gersan is in a meeting with the leadership of the church.

Please pray for Gersan. Pray for wisdom. Pray for peace. Pray for justice to prevail. Pray for the truth to be revealed. Pray for soft hearts to hear the Lord's will. Pray that the Lord will make His name great, and that Satan will be defeated. Pray for strength. Pray for brotherly love. Pray. Pray.


Tangible Accomplishments?

I currently smell like gasoline.
Maybe because I just bathed in it. Gross.

I do have a semi-decent reason for smelling like the inside of a gas tank though!

I painted all day today. I'd like to say that I creative painted, and that I painted something pretty, but lets be real for one second, I have zero creative bones in my body. It was fun though! I painted picnic tables with Tchaly today.

There have been many times during my stay here that I have been jealous of the teams and individuals that come and get a million things accomplished in 1-2 weeks. Whereas I feel like I've been here for almost 5 months now and have accomplished next to nothing. Today, was fun. I got something tangible accomplished. Something I could take a before and after picture of and say, "I did that." But what was more fun than getting something accomplished was the lesson I learned today. I have accomplished things.

I learned a language.
I formed relationships.

Sometimes I say that and feel like I'm half lying, because I'm not sure how true those statements are. Have I really learned the language? Did I really form relationships? But after today, I know I can say those things with confidence. I feel like when I do something creative, (which, keep in mind that is rare) that conversations flow. Today they did, although as I mentioned our work was not creative (... maybe holding a paintbrush in your hand, no matter why, makes conversations flow?). Today taught me what great friends I have made here. I talked to Tchaly for about 7 hours today, almost nonstop. We covered many topics, including the paint job at hand, politics both in Haiti and America, the economy, church, friends, he told me about how he met his wife, we talked about the other Americans that had come in the past and the ones that are coming in the future, he gave me relationship advice, we discussed music both Haitian and English, joked around, and just had a grand 'ol time! It was so special.

I accomplished something tangible. I painted tables. But the best part was the realization of how much I have accomplished God has accomplished through me. It may not be tangible in the same way. But hopefully I have glorified Him.

I pray that I have made a lasting impact of God's love on the people I've been in contact with these past 5 months. I pray they will never forget my mostly feeble attempts to show them love in all situations. I will never forget them.

This is such a beautiful village. With beautiful people, who have ugly, lost hearts. I wish so much for them. I wish I could make them see and accept the freedom that they can have through Christ. I'm thankful for their joy. I'm thankful for their open hearts. I pray that I will see many of them in Heaven. I think I will!


"Welcome, you'll find your beds freshly Febreezed!"

Today I spent the morning making camp ready for the Camp Peniel group that is coming tomorrow. I searched through the depot for the mattresses and sleeping bags. Thankfully we have just enough for everyone who is coming to sleep on a semi-comfortable bed. Its only for a few days, so hopefully it won't be too bad. If nothing else, all the beds have been freshly febreezed! Isn't that what you want to hear when checking into a hotel? Well... At least we don't make any claims to be a 5 star luxury facility!

Almost as soon as I had finished febreezing the beds, Jenny came to visit me. In case you've forgotten, Jenny is the baby that comes to visit me often. I love her! She recieved a vaccine for something this morning and I suspect it is making her feel under the weather. She's usually an incredibly easy one to hang out with, but today every time she's awake she's fussy. She'll wake up, scream bloody murder for about 2 minutes until I pick her up or change her position and then fall asleep again. Thankfully she's slept a lot! I'm hoping that when I go to check on her in a few minutes I won't find baby tee tee in my bed! I wrote this post this afternoon, and now it is evening. If you are wondering there was NO baby tee tee in my bed when I went to get her. But I was armed with Febreeze, I'm incredibly glad I didn't have to resort to that!
Life feels like its back to normal already. Its funny how that happens. Both in America and here. When I was leaving to come back my mom said, "Its weird how dropping you off at the airport to go to Haiti is becoming kinda a normal routine thing." Yeah. I guess its not everyday that you do that. I am probably one of few people who start packing at midnight the night before they are headed out internationally. Haiti makes you flexible I guess. Life in America felt like it picked right back up where it left off. I still remembered how to drive like a normal person, and not a Haitian, and I still remembered how to speak English. It didn't feel like I had been gone for 5 months, it felt normal, with more hugs and more quality time, but I'm always ok with that!

I know I say this a lot, but I cannot feel more blessed to be in love with two places and people. Its a rare gift, and one that I pray I don't take lightly.
Note: My internet has been spotty as always, but this time I'm worried because I haven't actually paid for it this month. It is possible it will cut out at any moment. So if there are no more blog updates until I get home on the 23 just assume that is the reason! Thank you for your prayers!

Home again

I love this country. Sometimes when I'm home in the states enjoying the people that I'm with and the things that I'm doing I forget how deeply I love this country. Sometimes I treat it as a chore or a sacrifice to come home to Haiti, but the minute I step off the plane I remember my love for this place. The smells, even the bad ones, make me love Haiti. The language all around me, reminds me of "home". I couldn't help but smile when I saw the airport people with their little plaid shirts on and caps walking around and talking rapidly with one another. As I thought about all of this, little tears welled in my eyes. "I'm home." It is so weird to call another place home, but I do. This is not a beautiful place, or an easy place to call home. Only God, in His wisdom and with His grace and understanding could put a love for a place like this in my heart. Its also strange that 3 weeks ago I was longing for another "home". I felt the same way when I stepped off the plane in Houston. The smells, or lack thereof, the language. All of it made me feel home!

On Friday morning, I woke up a little later than I had planned due to a late night catch-up conversation with Betty. She is such a wise and understanding woman. She is a wonderful listener, and I am so blessed to have her and Gersan in my life. We ate breakfast on Friday morning and headed off to the airport. Once in Cap Haitian I was greeted by Tchaly, Guerline, and Boss Varis. Oh! How wonderful it was to see them again! In true Haitian form, only one of my bags had arrived at the airport, so we ran some errands in Cap Haitian and then went back to pick up my remaining bag. On our way back to the village we had a bit of car trouble and were stuck on the side of the mountain for an hour or so. I was caught off-guard by none of this, I caught a nap in the car while waiting and then was actually suprised that it only took an hour or so to get going again. So while I arrived in true Haitian form, late by about 4 hours (because of the bag issues and car troubles), I was not greeted in true Haitian form, usually when an American drives by they are greeted with either blank stares or chanting of 'blanc, blanc". When people saw us coming in the car they ran to the street clapping and shouting! I heard some chanting of "Men, Noelle! Men, Noelle!" (Here's Noelle! Here's Noelle!"). A crowd of old men stopped their game of dominos to wave, and a crowd of young boys paused their game of football to cheer. Guerline commented that I was greeted with a party fit for the president (The current president was a former rap star, so I felt like that was a big complement!). Within 6 minutes of arriving, there was a small crowd gathered at the gate. The sun was setting more rapidly than I could talk to everyone. I got to see some of the little boys that live nearby, Kendy, AdeKa, Devon, and some of the other neighbor kids. Baby Jenny and her mom came by to say hello as well. It was so sweet, and such a precious time.

That evening I got to brush my teeth outside again. This is something I didn't realize that I had missed. But how many of you look at the stars while brushing your teeth? I had missed that special time and it was so sweet to look at the stars and brush my teeth again. I slept better and harder than I have in a long time, which is truely amazing considering how stellar the holes in my bed here are.

I'm so thankful to be home. And looking forward to the next few days here! I don't have long left here, but I will hopefully make the best of it all!


10 on Tuesday

Once again, sorry for abandoning the blog. I've been distracted by life here. Its been going at a relaxing pace of 90 miles a minute. It has been relaxing, but its also had its crazy days.

Today is going to be the 10 on Tuesday: 5 and 5

5 things I love about being home: 5 things I miss about Haiti

5 things I love about being home

1.  Family time.

2. Driving dance parties to Justin Bieber and Jessie McCartney with my crazy sisters.

 3. Hugs.
4. Reunions at LaBodega with sweet friends!!

{not documented. utter failure.}

5. Being able to put pictures on the blog again!!
         5a. Did I mention hugs?
            5b. Did I also mention sweet time with wonderful friends and family?

5 things I miss about Haiti.

1. Jenny. (of course)   This picture is from before I left. I put her in one of my shirts and headbands. I thought maybe when I tried to sneak her through customs they would think that she was my child. In the end, I decided it would be a better idea to leave her with her real mom.

2. Sunsets on the hill with Guerline and Tala.

3. These precious little ones at school. 
4. My Haitian mom and dad. (I don't know how its possible that I don't have a picture of just us, but I thought I'd use the family photo.)

5. Hammock time. 
{also not pictured. I only have pictures of other people in hammocks.}

I'm still loving home. I'm definitely missing Haiti today.

Please continue to pray for:
 -my trip back to Haiti on May 12.
-my summer as I figure out what God wants me to do.
-the 20 something applications that I'm working on (and my sanity.)


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