Thankful Thursdays

Three things I’m thankful for Thursday.

Thankfulness is something that I think everyone can use more of. Especially me. I have so much to be thankful for, but I don’t always take the time to sit and think about it. I saw a sign the other day that said, “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday.”  Many people save their thankfulness for November around Thanksgiving, but I’ve decided to take some time out of every week to thank God for His gifts, whether big or small. Significant, or insignificant.

I must admit. The “Three Things I’m Thankful for” Theme is not a totally original idea. One of my best friends, and roommate of 3 years started it. Except her “Three things” is on Monday. So I’m giving Kylie the credit for the idea! You should check out her blog, "Polka Dotted Days" too! (For real, check it out. She's super funny!)

Last Wednesday night, as I was laying in bed and throwing myself a little pity party, I decided to snap out of it and be thankful! And so was born, the weekly ....

(...Except, at the time I didn't have internet, so I'm just now posting it... I'll work on getting it on the right day!)

1.       These guys! Gersan and Betty Valcin are my other set of parents. They have truly been such a blessing this past year, and have been so wonderful to do ministry with. Gersan is the optimist I hope to be one day, and Betty is full of wisdom and truth. I’m honored that they call me their other daughter, and I’m so blessed by their hearts!

2. Electric tennis racquets. (Ok, I didn’t say each of the things I’m thankful for were going to be earth shattering…)These things are a for-real, a lifesaver though. They provide an effective way to kill mosquitoes, and make it a fun sport, all at the same time. I am not as effective as some people with the racquets, as is evidenced by my thoroughly  bitten legs, arms, and face. Betty could totally give Venus and Serena a run for their money with her mosquito killing tennis skills though.  (please ignore the crazy eyes and the bad web-cam quality photo)

3.    God’s plan. Through many tears last night I thanked God for His perfect plan. I am back, or rather, still in the land of Inbetween. But I’m so thankful that I can remind myself “all things work together for good to them that love the Lord.” That God has got whatever is going on in my life under control and He knows what’s coming even though I don’t.  I’m thankful for His plan. I’m thankful I can trust Him. And as much as I fight and cry and wish sometimes, I am thankful He’s in charge.

...And so begins the Thankful Thursdays! Thanks for the inspiration, Kylie!


Changing The Look And Enjoying The Little Things

I think my blog is having a bit of an identity crisis. I don't think the blog, or rather, the author, knows what to do with a "Haiti themed" blog, while living in America.

It makes me feel weird to talk about anything on here that doesn't have some deep spiritual meaning, or some great story from my friends in the village. So I've decided to do a little updating. I've wanted to write this post since May and haven't really done it correctly, so its just sitting in my drafts.

I want to enjoy the little things. Today! The things that otherwise may go unnoticed, the things that may or may not have real deep meaning. I want to enjoy things today! Not tomorrow. Not next year, but today. God has put me in today to enjoy it and learn from it.

Life happens today. Here: wherever I am
Doing what I'm doing (however frivolous it may seem)
Celebrating the little blessings just as much as the big ones

I am not forgetting about Haiti or my time there. It brought me to today. And today may lead me back to Haiti, but I don't want to miss life by looking at yesterday or tomorrow. 

My name is Noelle Faith. I need that daily reminder that He is faithful, yesterday, today, and forever. He is faithful in the little things. So I'll enjoy them today. And then I'll share them with you! 

This blog will be about the little things:

Who I'm with
What I'm making
When life happens
Where I'm going
Why I'm laughing
How I'm doing


10 on Tuesday

So its Tuesday, yet again. I've missed so many along the way, but I've decided just to pick myself up and start again. So here goes. Again, the goal of the 10 on Tuesday is to take 10 pictures every hour for 10 hours throughout the day, but over time its changed into a 10 things blog. Today I'm going to do 10 pictures, not necessarily from today, but they are from this week.

1.  I'm back here!! I realized when I got home to Jacob's Well that so far in 2011 this has been my home more than anywhere else this year. It was so great to be home for a week and see all my friends, and speak Kreyol again!

2. The purpose of my trip was to translate for a medical team from Minnesota. I pleasantly surprised myself with how much Kreyol I had remembered!

3. Of course, I loved seeing Jenny again. (She really was happy to see me too, even though you can't tell.)

4. Remember my old-man friend from this post? I got to see him too! He said every day he's been hoping that I would come back, and we were so glad to see each other. (Also, his had had healed up so nicely I could barely even see the scar, and he couldn't even remember which hand it was at first!)

5. The church has done some expansion! It is going to look so great when its done! Its almost twice as big now as it was when I left. And made of some sturdier materials!

6. Haitian food. Is the best. End of story.

7. I almost cried when I saw Lelene  walking up to me this week! Her leg is almost completely healed. It is nothing short of a miracle! Thank you to all who have prayed for her!

8. I got to meet a few new baby friends. This is Wendel. he is a soccer announcer for the radio in Limbe. This is his son, Wendel Messi, named after the soccer player from Argentina. Wendel has the nickname "Le Grande" in the village because he is at least a head taller and much thicker than most Haitians. Windel Messi is more than likely the biggest 5 month old I've ever seen, following in his father's footsteps!

9. You know how some people are ocean people and some people are mountain people? I'm a mountain person, and I've missed having this as my back yard view!!

10. And lastly, I'm back to skype communicating. I actually didn't have any internet connection at all when I was at camp this past week, but now I'm in Port Au Prince, and back to the old skype instant messaging relationship with Dan and my family. We totally got spoiled by living in the same country and having a telephone. God's reminding us not to take anything for granted!


It Is For Freedom He Has Set Us Free

*This post was started on April 11th, and finished this past week.* 

God is making a movement in this village. There is no doubt. Things are changing. God is blessing people. He is using Pastor Valcin in many ways to spread the good news of the gospel! Gersan has been blessed and we have been able to help numerous people with their living situations, their health situations, and their spiritual poverty. The training at the church here is far from finished, but much progress has been made. God lives in Ti Guinea.

Today I was walking around with Boss Varis and a few of the others who work with us. We were taking pictures of some of the families that recieved latrienes recently. Water Missions International partnered with us and we were able to build 25 latrienes in this village. Today as we were taking pictures I got to see many houses in the village. Some are large, and made with ciment blocks, some very small and made with dirt and sticks.

These houses all had something in common though: Multiple front doors.

Why is this significant you ask? It is, very significant. Let me explain.

I think in any country, even in the states, the further you get into the country the more spiritual people become. Sometimes, in some areas in some countries people are very spiritual and worship the true God. Sometimes people begin to put their trust in the plants for healing purposes and whatever else. Here, we are pretty far away from the big cities. And voodoo is big. In this voodoo culture every house has at least two front doors. I've seen houses with 3 front doors, 3 back doors, and 2 side doors per side. The reason for this is the belief that if someone dies inside the house the spirit will have a door to exit through, and the people won't have to use that door to walk where the spirt walked. Also, that way the spirit has plenty of options to exit, because lets be real, no one is going to want to come visit if there is a spirit in the house that can't get out!

As we approached one of the houses I caught a glimpse through the gate. It was painted beautifully, yellow and blue and red and green. I quickly realized this is a voodoo temple. This is the place that is responsible for preforming those ceremonies that have disrupted my sleep so much for many nights I was here.

My brain engaged as quickly as I could make it, and I began to really look around and try to see details and see what was going on. I couldn't make sense of a lot that I saw, but a few things stood out to me. The feel of the place was not what I was expecting. I didn't feel the oppression or the darkness that I was expecting to accompany that place.

I began to think that maybe the evil that was here could see the light in me and had run for cover. I'll never know. But it did make me think. I thought about how I had always perceived voodoo temples to be such a dark and oppressive place, but really this place was even possibly a little more up-beat than the others because of all the color. I think that voodoo is evil. Pure evil, but I think a lot of the evil comes through deceiving those who are involved. The voodoo priest didn't look like an evil man, he just looked like a sad, lonely, lost man.

 The other thing that clearly stood out. More than anything else, was how everything was tied. Random stuff all wrapped up in ropes and cords around the trees. There were ropes and cords wrapped around every surface with bottles, candles, chairs, feathers, plates, cups, flags all wrapped up in them. The cords went around, and around, and around, and around. On one tree it was probably almost a foot thick of cords and ropes wrapped around and holding stuff in. But on the door posts, and on random smaller trees, and everywhere things were wrapped, bound. Bound up tight. And that caught my heart. These people who are so deep in voodoo are so bound by Satan. So bound by the lies. And Satan is deceptive, he has them bind things up, wrap them tight so there is no hope of getting them out of the cords that entagle them. And while they wrap up possesions and inanimate objects, he wraps them up tight. Binds them so tightly in sin and deception that they have no idea they are bound. They begin to think that their bondage is normal.

But Satan has not won! God is moving though this village. Setting people free. Giving life, and life abundant. More than 12 voodoo temples were in this village when Jacob's Well was first established 6 years ago. Now there are 2. Both of those voodoo priests are losing some of their trust in their voodoo. They are curious about Jesus. They are curious about what is happening in these people's lives. Christ has set so many free. But the battle is still there. Satan is fighting for them still. He will tempt them again. But Christ is victorious.
Every time I come to Haiti, I try to spend some time on top of the mountains looking over the valley and praying. Praying for freedom. Praying for light. Before I came on my trip this spring I felt the verse from Galations very heavy on my heart. "It is for freedom He has set you free." I am seeing that freedom being given in the village. Praise Christ.

What Satan has bound and destined to destroy, Christ has set free and given life anew!

Coming Home

This post was written on Tuesday, Sept 13, but I didn't have internet until now: 

What a sweet feeling it is to come home. You know the feeling. You walk into your house and its welcoming, normal, comfortable. You have that "ahhhh, finally home" moment. After being off on vacation for 3 months, I'm back home in Ti Guinea. I love traveling in Haiti because I feel like I see so much more diversity of the culture, but I think subconsciously it stresses me out. I don't feel like my kreyol is nearly as good in Port Au Prince or Cap Haitian as it is here in Ti Guinea. I learned it here with these people, so I feel the most comfortable speaking it here with these people. Today as we drove in to the village on the road I saw many familiar faces. They would wave cordially at the truck with the 3 blancs in the back, but then I would wave or say hello and they would shout, "MEN NORELLE, MEN NORELLE!!" ("Here's Noelle, here's Noelle!") I had told a few people that I was coming, but apparently the word did not get around. I am just as excited to see each of them as they are to see me. I didn't get a chance to see many people tonight, but I will be going out tomorrow to visit with all my friends. Praise God for His goodness. That He saw fit to give me such sweet friends from such a different background. Within five minutes of my arrival the skies opened up and poured rain, and Tchaly said, "Bondye kontan ou la. Li beni nou ak lapli paske ou vin we nou!"("God is happy you are here. He blessed us with the rain because you came to see us!")

Tonight I'm laying in bed...just thinking... I came to lay down early for two reasons. 1. Its dark and I have no internet, so what else am I going to do? and 2. I have the traditional "Welcome back to Haiti" stomach ache. So I'm laying here, and just thinking about how things were... How things have been for the majority of this year so far! I've spent more time in Haiti in 2011 than I have in the United States! That just struck me. For now, this really is my home. As I lay here tonight memories keep flooding my mind.

It smells like rain. It reminds me of when it rained for the entire time that my dad and Gracie came to visit in February.

 My room is dark, except for the light from my computer screen. Which reminds me of all the nights I spent up insanely late talking to Daniel on skype.

Even just sitting on the counter in the kitchen reminds me of how I used to sit there and write my 10 on Tuesdays while dinner would be cooking. Or how many, many conversations and hours I spent just sitting there and talking with Boss Varis, Guerline, Tchaly, and Tala. It has been so wonderful to be home. I'm so enjoying seeing all my friends!

My room is missing a lot of the color that it had when I was here, which is making me remember how cute it was decorated and how at-home I was here. I was talking with Theresa, a lady from Foundry United Methodist church who came on a scouting team with us, and I was apolgizing for not being a good guide. And she just said, "Its ok. This is just normal and home for you. I can tell you are comfortable here."
That is a dually true and untrue statement. I am comfortable here. This is my home. This is my heart. These are my people. I can only wait in anticipation the day that I move here permanently. But that statement is also false. There are so many things that make me uncomfortable about being here. The need, the fear, the bondage to Satan, etc. All these things make me very uncomfortable... But they are the reason that I am here. They are the reason that I am motivated to come and make this my real home.

So thanks for welcoming me back, Ti Guinea. I've missed you so much!!


Today I'm thankful for

There is always that moment when you sit down to write something and you stare at the page for 20 minutes before realizing that you've not only just wasted 20 minutes of your life, but have made no progress on the task at hand.
I've been in that situation so many, many times in the last few months. Today it would have happened, but I decided that instead of wasting time writing a personal statement I would write it in the blog. There was a time where I could sit down and write the fool out of this blog. I had thoughts. They were collected. They felt less like crazy and more like normal. I used to write blogs in my head, even the funny parts, which would make me laugh to myself at my own silly humor. And then I would sit and write them out for real.

I still write blogs in my head. I still make myself laugh for no reason. But I haven't written them out for real. I've currently got about 4 drafts of different blogs that haven't made the cut to get published. Writing helps me process, but hitting that "publish" button gives me closure. My heart rate races a little before pushing that little orange button, then I have about 2 seconds of "OH NO!! Did I just do that? Then I realize its done, its out there, and I can relax." So today. I'm going to publish. I may not even proofread because when I do I take out things, or get too chicken to publish. So here's to publishing... (I wish I actually had a glass of wine to toast with... that helps with the pre-publishing jitters.)

Life recently has been interesting. Life recently has been fast paced. Life recently has been wonderful. I've been dying to write about life recently, but I always chicken out. I feel like I owe it to my readers, if I still have any, to play catch up, but I'm not really going to. I think that's why I haven't written.

Life recently has taught me so much. About life, love, friendship, blessings, joys, hope, and trust.

I've been striving to live today. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next month, not next year, but today. Focus on today, enjoy today! Its too overwhelming to focus on tomorrow, I have no idea what I'm going to be doing... hopefully attacking the mountain of laundry threatening to take over my bedroom. Its too emotional to think about next week, and how next week I'll be back in Haiti. I'm so happy, I miss them so much. Emotional, good emotional, but still emotional. Its too overwhelming to think about next month, and how I still won't have heard back from nursing schools. But maybe by then I'll have gotten a job!? Its too far away to think about next year and how I have no clue what life will be like, but I do know this.... Today is here.

Today, my parents have packed up the important worldly possessions that we have. They are waiting on pins and needles, watching the smoke from the Magnolia wildfire rise, watching the ash fall, and waiting for a phone call telling them to evacuate.

Today, I'm thankful for my the friends that God has put in my life. How blessed I've been the last 2 weeks by the people who care about me and love me.

Today, I'm thankful for this past month. I know that doesn't fall into the category of "today", but still. I'm the boss of this blog, so I can write what I want! I've had a wonderful month. I've laughed so much. Laughter is so healthy! I'm thankful for the time that I have had with my boyfriend, Daniel. We started dating when I was in Haiti and our communication abilities were very limited. Then when I got home we were at camp, he was the program director and I was there working as well. At camp we had to put our relationship on hold and essentially pretend that we weren't dating. This is hard to explain to those outside the camp world, but camp is about the campers and if our focus is on another individual then we've failed at serving them effectively. So I only really got to spend time with Daniel on the weekends, and we were both so tired and the weekends were so short that it was never enough. August has been my favorite month so far. We've gotten to talk, actually be together, and not pretend we don't know each other, we've laughed, road tripped between Tomball and Dallas, and even, at times reverted back to skyping. However, skyping when I'm in America is different than when I was in Haiti. Here it works like normal. In Haiti it worked like a bad version of AOL instant messenger. I am fully convinced that a little man had to swim my typed messages from the coast of Haiti to the Gulf of Mexico and then run to Dallas and deliver it to Dan. Anyway, bottom line, I'm thankful for Daniel today, and thankful for all the times that Daniel has made me laugh till I cried this month. What a blessing!

Today, I'm also thankful that I'm blogging. I love writing. Its like running. (I don't love running, don't get me wrong... that's not what I mean.) Its like running in that I love it when I'm doing it. I've only loved running once in my life. I was on a running kick. It was a love hate relationship. I hated it while I was doing it, but then felt good about myself afterwards, then I had an accident involving a wet curb, and my knee. And I quit running after that. Point being, blogging is like running in that when you are in the practice of it its so good, you get the endorphin high, its not hard to do, but when you fall and quit running, or just quit blogging its hard to get back into it. I sit and stare at the computer until I give up and browse pinterest, just like I put on my running shoes, and then make excuses to not go running. So today, I'm thankful for blogging. Hopefully I'll get back into it. Hopefully I can give my blog a facelift. Hopefully... we'll see... I'll take it one day at a time.

Today, I'm thankful for the "publish'  button and how I can push it without proofreading, because I know if I proofread, I'll chicken out and not post this....

so here goes.... (still wish I had that glass of wine.)


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