Friday, December 10, 2010

4 Months Later

You would think that will all this free time I have had for the past six days, I would blog more. I guess it is a mix of laziness and not having anything to say. I have sat silently for days in a row trying to figure out what is happening in this country that I love so much.

Even now as I sit here typing, I have no idea what to say. Four months ago, I came to Haiti to start a journey. A journey of growth, a journey of adventure, a journey to find the Lord and serve Him better. I got more growth, adventure, and service than I bargained for. I really didn't know what to expect coming here, but what I got was different than anything I could have ever imagined.

It started out with a bang. We went to the orphanage, the clinic, and even did a mobile clinic. I fell in love with 2 kids at the orphanage, and really enjoyed helping in medicine. The next 2 weeks that went by were slow, and I wasn't sure that what I was doing here was productive. I now see that God was preparing me for the adventure that He was about to take me on. He wanted me to be still and read His word, pray, and spend genuine time with Him before I jumped into the deep end of what the last four months have been about.

First came the job. Never in a million years would I have thought that I, Kristina Birkhead, would be 1) a teacher or 2) an English teacher. God has really blessed me in this job. I have seen so many awesome people and have had some of the best conversations I could ever dream of. One in particular that I want to tell you about is a Junior boy. This kid is loud and obnoxious. When I first met him, I was afraid to have him in my class. I really wasn't sure how I was going to control his loud self and get things done. He is one of the "popular" kids at school, and he comes from a wealthy family. I automatically placed a stereotype on him and thought that he probably couldn't care less about the gospel, but I want to be Christ to him. I want him to see God's love, because he can change a lot of lives. In class one day we were talking about the Cholera epidemic. He said, in front of everyone, that he didn't want to go on the streets or talk to anyone on the streets because they could have Cholera and he didn't want to catch it. I talked to him after class that day and asked him how we were to share God's love if we weren't willing to meet them where they were, Cholera and all. He kind of brushed me off, so I didn't really pursue any more talks with him until I thought maybe he would be more responsive. A week later, we had Current Event Friday, where the students bring in a current news article and share with the class. He decided to share on Cholera, and his attitude had totally changed. He was asking everyone to support him by wanting to reach out to those in need, and getting hydration packs together. He truly is a leader in his class, and I could see the students warming up to what he was saying. I was shocked and surprised and knew that God was really working on his heart.

Later in the semester, we were in our "study hall". This class is 3 students and me. One of the students was absent this particular day so it was the two students and myself. He started asking me questions on what I believed and what was important to me, and he really opened up and told me how important his faith was to him. He began to share how his parents really supported him in his faith and he began to tell me how God was working in his life. I asked him why he never shared with his classmates and he simply said that "they don't want to hear it." My heart broke. I began to share that it only takes one person to spark something in someone's life. I remember at my high school that it took one football player standing up in chapel to change my entire grade. I have seen a difference in him. He has been nicer to others around him and more vocal about what he truly believes. I think he is scared to lose his popularity, but he is starting to see that there is more to life than popularity. I have started tutoring him in algebra and so I am really getting the chance to invest in his life and hopefully others around him will see something incredible about his life. He really can change this school, and I know that God is going to use him in a mighty mighty way.

Another cool thing that has happened while working at the school is my discipleship group. I was randomly assigned six girls: Maika, Lorena, Claudia, Taressa, Alexandra, and Celine. I knew three of these girls before the group started, but I was excited to see a different side of them. We started looking at the book Crazy Love, by Francis Chan, but most of the time we spent a lot of time praying and listening to songs. Worship songs have been a huge part of my life, and I really wanted these girls to experience a little bit of that. One of the first things I was faced with in this group was "why does God punish Haiti so much? How much more can Haiti take?" Wow. I was speechless. I began to tell them that God has a reason for EVERYTHING, but often we don't see the reason until much later. We have to trust that God knows what He is doing, and we have to be patient for His timing. Two of them are headed to college next year, and they are both terrified. Two of them are Juniors, trying to find the balance of fitting in and sticking out. The last two are Sophomores, both dealing with forgiveness issues. Each girl is so unique and has been such a blessing. I pray for them daily, and I know that God can do amazing things with these girls lives, as battered and torn and crazy as they think they may be.

Lots of other cool things have happened at this school, and I am ecstatic to be coming back for the Spring semester. I am also going to be teaching more. I am teaching two sections of Grade 10 English literature, my same section of American Literature, a creative writing class, and a random Algebra 1 class. I'm really excited to see what God is going to do with the new relationships I will be forming.

The next big wrench that God threw at me was a little baby girl named Melissa Hope. This baby has changed my life forever. I will not lie, taking care of her might be the hardest thing I have ever done. I became a mom and a working mom all within two weeks. You can read back at my previous posts for more about the beginning of our story. Never in a trillion years would I have thought I would become a "mommy" at age 22. And to think, when I came down here, I really didn't like babies! There have been several "I can't do this anymore, I'm not equipped to be a mom!" moments, but I was quickly reminded that God didn't bring me this baby girl without knowing I could do it. I am happy to report to you that she is now 5 pounds heavier, and smiles constantly. God has really worked through this little girl's life, and I know that she is going to change so many lives. When I look at her, I can see Christ's love. When I look at what we've been through together, I'm reminded of God's grace. When I think I can't do it anymore he softly whispers in my ear, "Oh, beloved, you can do it. I am still here with you. Press on. Don't give up. I won't fail you. You CAN do it. I have equipped you with everything you need. Show her MY love." Wow. Ok, God. I was once again shown how little faith I have in HIM to get me through the tough times in life. He is always in control and won't forsake me or leave me, even when I'm caught up in the craziness of life.

Then cholera. Oh the cholera. I heard the other day that it will take 6 years to eradicate cholera from this country. So many have died, so many are sick, and hardly any are reported. The last thing this country needed was a disease strain. We have not been directly affected by it, but it is only supposed to get worse. I have resumed my "germ freak-ness" and we are prepared with hydration packs to serve those who are affected by the sickness.

And now elections. I don't even know what to say about these elections. I have never seen images so crazy. To think that the places I travel every single day are now destroyed by fire and broken glass. My mind is blown and I can't help but think why?! Why are these people doing this? Why is God allowing this country to go to shambles? There is my "little faith" again. He knows exactly what He is doing and He is going to get glory from all of this. I can't help but to be a little scared. We are safe on our hill, but we can't go down from the hill. Flights have been cancelled, lives destroyed, and I'm complaining about being bored. This country needs a leader who can turn this place around. I honestly can't tell you what is going to happen here in Haiti. Things were pretty calm today, but that means nothing for tomorrow. The people are angry in this country. They want justice. They want their voices to be heard. Is burning tires and tearing down signs going to bring that... no. So who knows what will happen to this country. All I can do is pray. I'm seeking God for comfort and for peace, because honestly, I'm scared for the Haitian people. My brain is on overload from the messages we have gotten. I'm trying to digest what is happening, and praying that God takes this and gets so much glory from it. I wish I had better news, and hopefully I will tomorrow.

Please pray for this country, and selfishly, pray that I get out on Wednesday. Airports are supposed to open on Tuesday, but we really don't know what the weekend has in store for us. I hope to blog again tomorrow saying that everything is normal and we can finally leave the mountaintop. I'm ready to be back in the valley.

Until next time...

Kristina

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Haiti Happenings

Late last night, the CEP (electoral board) announced the results of the election that took place last week. And the winners are...

Madame Manigat - 33%
Jude Celestin - 22.8%
Michel Martelley - 21.4%

If you don't remember these peeps, you can look back at my previous post about the elections.

So basically, they announced these results and everyone got extremely mad. A lot of people thought Martelley should at least be in the top two, if one the out right winner. Automatically riots broke out in the streets of Haiti.

I've heard that Martelley and Manigat are asking for a re-count of the votes. Martelley has said that he will not be in a run-off with Jude Celestin, so he is hoping that the re-count will show that he and Manigat are the top two.

Tires are burning, guns are being fired, people are peeing on posters. This is Haiti.

They have cancelled school for the rest of the week and American Airlines has cancelled all flights until at least Sunday.

It's crazy around here, but we are staying safe. We are up on a hill and staying in the house. I'll keep posting as we hear things, and hopefully I can post pictures soon!

Until then...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Bazaar

The Christmas Bazaar is an event that QCS puts on every year to fund raise for every class. The middle schoolers had several games for small children. The freshman class had an incredible bounce house for everyone. The sophomore class decided to do a pie in the face booth. The ones getting pied in the face were other students and some teachers, me being a lucky winner. The juniors had a dunking booth. The seniors were in charge of snacks and lunch. They gave away a lot of prizes, and played a ton of Christmas music. A lot of local vendors came and sold their products. It was a great time, and each class raised a lot of money.

In case you didn't know, whipped cream smells TERRIBLE after it gets hot. I hope I never get creamed again. It was not a fun experience. Oh, the things I do for the Sophomore class at QCS. After they ran our of whipped cream, they started soaking a sponge in water and hitting it with me in the face. The sponge really didn't feel good, but I allowed them to do it for about 30 minutes.

The dreaded sponge!
Not looking too hot after all the whipped cream and water.


>K

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's A Selection, Not An Election

Selection, not election. But in reality, this election is no where near a selection. Accusations of fraud have been barreling through the city, which has caused uprising in this country.

So this is the way the elections work: Every voter has an ID card and a specific booth they are supposed to go to. However, many people lost their cards in the January earthquake. Digicel, one of the top cell phone carriers in Haiti, has stepped in and is allowing people to call a number to be told where to go. Pretty simple process.

So here's a who's who of the people I'll be talking about.

Preval - current president and part of the INITE party

Jude Celestin - Preval's son-in-law and one of the top contenders in this election. Endorsed by Preval and part of the INITE party

Madame Manigat - former first lady, and top contender in this election

Michel "sweet mickey" Martelly - very crude rapper and top contender in this election

So those are the important people. Elections in Haiti are usually not a very safe time. The roads are shut down from 8 pm Saturday night until 8 am Monday morning. No alcohol or gasoline is sold during that time either. In the past, many riots have broken out and many people killed.

This year seems to be no different. Saturday night, gunfire was opened at a rally for Martelly. No one was injured or killed, but it is believed to be an assassination attempt on Martelly. Today, three people have already been killed due to an accusation of fraud by the INITE party.

Celestin has been accused of having tons of ballots already filled out in his favor. Also, Preval is shutting down voting booths without the proper authority of doing so. Five of the candidates are holding a press conference today to talk about the fraud. If I spoke better Creole, then I would know what they are saying, but I'm relying on some friends to let me know what is happening.

Fraud is not the only problem being faced right now. Many voters cannot find their names on the list at the voting centers they are going to. So many people will probably not get to vote. One of the voting bureaus was vandalized this morning, and overtaken by thugs. Many voting centers are shutting down early because of all the violence that is happening. There are anti-Celestin and pro-Martelly riots by the airport. Everywhere you turn in this country, there is some form of violence or demonstration happening.

Now, Madame Manigat is asking that the elections be cancelled because of all the fraud. It would not be good for the country to go through this twice. With every election, there is going to be violence, but going through this twice will not be good.

This country is angry with Preval. After the January 12 earthquake, Preval ran. Nothing has been done to help this country. Many of the voters want a president that will help the people in the tent cities have permanent homes, and that will help rebuild this country. But, like most other leaders, the election is about power and money. The winner of the election gets over one billion dollars to help the country, but most of the candidates would pocket the money, and leave the people as they are.

This country needs a God-fearing leader. It doesn't appear that will happen this year, but I believe God can work through whoever is elected. This country needs prayer as the voters are casting their ballots. This country needs prayer for there to be an absence of violence.

Please pray for Haiti today. Prayer is a powerful, powerful tool, and this country needs it so so so much. I'll be updating twitter as I find out what is going on, so if you are interested, you can follow at twitter.com/sweetkristina10

I'll try to update again later.

Until then...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful

Since it is Thanksgiving, and I haven't blogged in a while, I want to devote this blog to some of the many things I am thankful for. This will not be a complete list, but just a few things.

1. Jesus - I am so thankful that my Savior came and died for me so that I can share His love with everyone around me. I am thankful that he looked upon me, a nasty sinner, and saw something worth dying for. I will spend the rest of my days on this Earth praising His name and spreading His love.

2. My awesome family - Even though I didn't get to share this Thanksgiving with them, I was there in Spirit and got to see their beautiful faces over Skype. I'm thankful that they support me even when I wanna do something crazy, like live in a 3rd world country.

3. The Tripod - Adam West and Adam Fox are two of my very best friends who support me and love me no matter what. I haven't seen them in over 3 months, yet they still talk to me all the time and take time out of their busy schedules to check on me.

4. My friends - I probably have the absolute best friends in the world. I know everyone says that, but really. Mine are awesome. They pray for me, love me, and post on my facebook wall just to see how I'm doing. It can be quite overwhelming to live in a 3rd world country with no friends or family, but mine make is so easy :)

5. America - I love that place. I love its grass, I love its trees, I love its restaurants.

5. Haiti : The country that has the other half of my heart. Although it can be so hard, it is such a blessing to see God moving in a country that is desperate for His love. I'm so glad that every Sunday morning, I get to sit with Haitians and Americans and sing praises to our God. Sometimes we sing in English, sometimes in Creole, but either way, we are worshipping the same God. I am also thankful that I have met some amazing friends in this country, both Haitian and American. They keep me sane when I feel like breaking down.

6. My students - I have such an incredible crop of students. I have eleven 11th graders, and 12 tenth graders. I LOVE my students. They can be difficult at times, but they bring me so much joy throughout the day. I have a unique opportunity with them. These kids are the future leaders of Haiti. They have the connections and the wealth to change the country around, and hardly any of them know it. Each day, I am blessed with the opportunity to share Christ with these kids and help them see what they can do for this country. I have already had so many awesome conversations, I look forward to tons more!

Ok.. these are my selfish ones that I shamelessly miss from America, but am ever so thankful for

  • Starbucks - I miss that beautiful coffee. You better believe that when I hit Miami, my lips will be tasting that goodness once again. I didn't realize how thankful I was for this franchise until I couldn't have it for 3 months.
  • Hot water - I am so thankful to get to take hot showers every now and then. Cold ones will do that to ya.
  • Easy access to everyday items - it is a bit of an ordeal to get simple things in this country, and I am so thankful that in America, it is so easy to just run to the store and get things
  • Paved roads - My booty appreciates those
Other miscellaneous things that I am so thankful for
  • An amazing education - both High School and ole faithful : UT (The real one)
  • My health - I have my ups and downs, but I am better off than most
  • Facebook - I can keep in touch with anyone, anywhere
  • Tennessee Basketball

Ok, so that is my short list of things, but I know there are so many more things that I could write. I hope you all had a great thanksgiving!

20 more days :)

KB

Friday, November 19, 2010

Marie's Story



This is a story of a little girl who breaks my heart.

I got a phone call about a week and a half ago from Michelle. She told me that a baby had been dropped off at our clinic. This is baby number 2 that has been dropped off, and I already knew that Michelle had this baby in her possession. We meet up and I see this HUGE baby! She has got to weigh 30 pounds. She is seven months, has two teeth, and is all around pretty adorable.

I hold her for a few minutes, and she pees on me. This is the beginning of our love-hate relationship. I'm still getting used to "babies" so having one pee on me was not a good start. I really wanted to know her story so Michelle filled me in on all of the details.

Marie's dad is a voodoo priest. Every November, there is a ceremony where babies are sacrificed to the voodoo religion. Marie's mom brought Marie and her younger brother to the clinic that day covered in blood. Quickly, the staff at the clinic found out that the children had been abused by the father, and he was planning on killing baby Marie. My heart sunk. How can ANYONE kill an innocent child. My heart started beating fast, and I was so glad that she was in our possession.

We are home with Marie, and she starts SCREAMING. Every time we put this child down, she cries uncontrollably. I automatically get nervous for this child. I know she is out of her comfort zone, even though her comfort zone was being beat. I can't imagine what this baby has seen, but I do know that she hates being put down. If she is held, she is perfectly fine, but the minute she is put on the couch, or on the bed, the tears start flowing.

We are trying to calm her down when Michelle gets a call from the clinic director. The mom has returned to the clinic saying that the dad wants the baby back, and we have to bring Marie back right now. Heart sinking part 2. Michelle says that Marie has to go back to the clinic because the dad is still in charge. The pastor of the community church is going to the dad to try to get him to relinquish Marie, but at this point, anything could happen. He could definitely say I want my baby back, and that baby could be sacrificed tomorrow.

Marie left our house, and I couldn't help but plead with our Father to save this baby's life. I was reminded that whether this baby comes back to our house or not, God is still in control and has this baby surrounded in love. We prayed and weeped, and prayed, and weeped. I was sick to my stomach thinking that this baby could go back to her earthly father just to be harmed and possibly even killed.

After praying for a while and talking to some girls that are staying at our house, I walked down to our guesthouse to see what was going on. We got a call and the clinic director said that the dad decided to relinquish his responsibility! He said the baby was his wife's and she could do what she wanted! I immediately started praising the Lord for sparing this baby's life! Once again, the power of prayer showed me how little faith I have. God knew all along what would happen to this baby, and it reminded me once again how sovereign and awesome He is.

So Marie is now living with us. For the first 3 days she did nothing but cry. She would start crying, then Melissa would start crying. We were having a really hard time, but she has finally gotten used to us and has started playing and smiling a lot more. She can even sit on the floor with some toys and not cry! She truly has come a long way, and I'm so blessed to see the transition that is happening in her life.

I don't know where Marie will end up, but I am confident that she will always be protected under God's wing. She has already impacted several people's lives, and I know that her story will impact so many more. I hope her story even moves you as you are reading this. God really is in control, and He knows what is best for us, and baby Marie.



I'll keep you updated as she grows and we find a permanent place for her.

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quickie Update

I am so sorry I haven't been updating much. Life has been so crazy lately, but I did want to send a quick shout-out and let ya'll know that I'm still here! I hope to do an in depth blog later tonight!

I found out yesterday that I am going to teach a creative writing and a speech class next semester! I am so excited about these two courses, and I'm starting to plan out exactly what I want to teach in them.

The Lord has been so good to me lately, and has been reminding me to trust in Him and everything else will fall into place. As always, I am so thankful for your prayers, and I promise to tell you all about recent happenings very very soon!

I love ya'll!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

He never lets go.

This blog was written yesterday during the "hurricane."

“Oh no, you never let go, through the calm, and through the storm.”

These words are resounding in my head today. Not only does is take a literal meaning for me today, but also an emotional one. As many of you know, Tropical Storm Tomas has now turned into a hurricane and is heading our way. The rain started yesterday around 4 pm, and hasn’t really taken a break. I woke up this morning at the sky was covered with clouds, and the rain was still coming down.

I don’t know what is going to happen during this hurricane, but I do know one thing. God is completely in control of this storm. I have already seen his faithfulness because He has already pushed the storm away from us. The eye will no longer cover us, but we will still get the rain. I am so thankful that He knows exactly what He’s doing, and He is protecting us from MAJOR devastation.

That does not mean that we are not in danger, though. Not so much me, but the citizens of this country are in grave danger. A lot of rain causes mudslides and causes disease to spread. A lot of rain also ruins tents, which over one million people are still living in.

But HE never lets go. HE is here through the calm days, and HE is here on these stormy days. I can’t tell you why this hurricane is coming to an already devastated country, but I can tell you that so many people are being brought to Jesus. So many people have been brought to their knees to pray for this country. Jesus is in control, and will bring Himself glory in all of this.

I’m trusting Him completely to do what He wills in this situation, and I will follow Him faithfully.

Several weeks ago, I was teaching English class when a 16-year-old boy named Rodney came in. He some semi-good English and we had several conversations just about him and everything in his life.

I knew of Rodney before I actually met him. Rodney was flown to the states about a year ago to UT Hospital to have some work done on his heart. He had some form of heart murmur, but I’m not totally sure what kind. He had the first surgery successfully, and was scheduled to have at least 3 more.

A couple of weeks ago, we got a call saying that Rodney was having extreme chest pains. We got him into the Dominican Republic so that a doctor could look at him and see if he could have surgery. When he left, he told our pastor, “I don’t think I’ll be coming back home.”

In my heart, I thought that he would for sure be coming back. I thought they would quickly get him a surgery, and he would come back and I would see him again. As the days progressed, the news got worse and worse. The doctors looked at him and basically said he was too far-gone for surgery, and if they cut him open he would die.

So basically, we were now just waiting. Waiting to see if he would pull through, or go home to our Heavenly Father. Chris, a guy that we work with who took care of Rodney while he was in the states, and Pastor Jude, Rodney’s pastor, got to the Dominican as soon as they could. When they got there, Rodney perked up, and he was so happy to see Chris and Pastor Jude. They were laughing and cutting up. Rodney was at a hotel at this point, and he got up to walk out of the door to go for a little walk.

He collapsed in the doorway and died on the way to the hospital. When Michelle told me this, I had this overwhelming sense of sadness. But then a light bulb went off in my head. Rodney isn’t hurting anymore. He is in heaven, and that is SO much better than being on this Earth.

You see, Rodney was just a street kid, taken in by a loving woman who shared the gospel with him. Rodney was a believer, and because one woman decided she would be responsible for him, He got to know our heavenly Father, and he is now in heaven praising His name forever.

As much as we will all miss Rodney, I know he is so thankful to be praising our God.

“Oh no, you NEVER let go, through the calm, and through the storm.”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hydration and Hurricanes


I have had two days off work. At least what I thought was off work. I ended up having to do a lot of catching up on work and preparing for my next two weeks of classes. We were out for All Saints and All Souls Day.

All Saints is the same thing as All Hallows, and is a Roman Catholic holiday. It is a day to remember all of the saints, known and unknown. All Souls Day is a mostly Catholic holiday and is used to remember the "faithful departed."

I don't celebrate either of these holiday's, but it was nice to have a couple of days off of school.

Dr. Jenny flew in because she wanted to spend some time with Melissa, so I not only had days off of school, but I had a babysitter for 5 days! It was really nice just to have some time to relax and chill out before school geared back up. We also had two new girls come and they are staying here until about December. They are both 18, and it is so nice to have someone closer to my age around.

Everyone in this house has been sick, and I have been avoiding it like the plague. I have been extremely successful in my efforts until a "slip" I had, which I'll tell you about later. Because everyone has been sick, we really haven't done anything this weekend. I have been so lazy, but in a good way.

Sunday, we went to church and it was an incredible service. It was so full, and I didn't get to hear much of the sermon, but just being back at Port-au-Prince fellowship was awesome, and really revived me. Sunday night, I was invited to a teacher's party that was on campus. I was really debating on what to wear because I didn't want to look silly, but this is what I decided on.


Ok, so you can't see my outfit real well, but I was gangster barbie :)

Well, it started pouring down rain, so my costume got a little soaked. But there was awesome food! There were salty snacks, sweet snacks, and freshly popped caramel corn. It was DELICIOUS! I had one of the best brownies I've ever had in my life. Or maybe I say that because it was the first brownie I've had since moving here. Either way, it was the bomb.

So for those of you that don't know.. there is a hurricane coming for us. The weather channel has changed it's predictions daily, so no one really knows what is going on. At first it was going to be really really bad, but now it's not going to be as bad. Any strong winds or heavy rain will devastate this already devastated country. Please pray with me that it will either break up, or go a different direction.

There are so many people living in tents in this country, that any type of strong wind will take away their homes and all their belongings, leaving them homeless once again. Also, as many of you know, Cholera has broken out in this country. The heavy rain will make the Cholera spread more rapidly, and this country does not need that!

Cholera is easily treated, but many people to not have access to the treatment. Cholera is spread though dirty water. We are having to brush our teeth with bottled water, and make sure we have purified drinking water. Also, anything that is bought on the street now has to be washed in purified water before we can eat it. These things are extremely easy for us, but for people living in tents and on the streets, these tasks are impossible. Cholera dehydrates you, and causes fever and diarrhea.

To help these people, we spent a few hours yesterday making rehydration packs for people so if they get Cholera, they can put this mixture into a bottle of water and take a medicine and be fine. We are really hoping this disease doesn't spread, but if it does, we want to be able to help as many people as possible. We made close to 200 hydration packs, so if the hurricane hits and the cholera spreads, we can be active in helping this community.

So please join me in prayer for this country so that it does not have to go through more devastation.

On a different note.. I'm coming home in 6 weeks for a little bit. Words can't express how excited I am. I got to talk to several of my friends that were at a Bible Study on Sunday night and it was so good to hear their voices. I also got to talk to my mom, dad, and sister, which was such a blessing.

God is truly doing huge things in this country, and in my life. I love this country, I love my job, and I love the people that I'm surrounded by here in Haiti.

Until next time...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tarantula!

So this morning, I woke up, but I really wasn't ready to GET up. So I went back to sleep for a few minutes. Then my alarm clock rang once again, and I knew that I HAD to get up and get ready for school. So I groggily went to the shower to begin my getting ready routine.

I opened up the curtain to turn the water on, and thankfully I looked down. THERE WAS A HUGE TARANTULA!!!!

Anyone who knows me knows I hate spiders, and this was no different. I sort of freaked out, but was too tired to really care.

I went into the other room and got Dustin, 15, to take care of it.

It really didn't hit me until this afternoon that I had my first tarantula sighting in Haiti. It was not fun at all, and hopefully I will never see one again.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Latest Musings





Sweet smiling girl.

Where have I been you ask? Behind a desk. I know, I know. That is NO excuse for not blogging. I feel so bad because so much has happened, but I have been so busy grading papers, and making tests, that I have been so cruel to my lovely readers. But I’m back! And not only do I have a blog for you, but also PICTURES!! Now, who doesn’t love a good picture?

So last time I blogged was about Melissa Hope. I am excited to tell you that she is still a huge part of my life and I spend every single day with her. It pains me to spend time at school because I’m not with her. I’m pretty sure it’s true love between us. She has finally gotten most of her paperwork done (passport and visa) and should be heading to the Dominican Republic in about 2 weeks to undergo heart surgery. Once she is recovered, then she should start to grow like a weed!


It is so challenging to be her mom right now. I have so much going on that sometimes I wonder if I’m capable of taking care of this small child. It is so neat to see her pick up on the things that I do. She puckers her lips and makes kissy faces, and she now clasps her hands. She is growing so much and I’m privileged to be in her life. But that doesn’t make it easy. Many days I feel like I’m not doing a good job, or that I shouldn’t be in charge of a life, but God has a reason, and I’m clinging to that. It is also comforting to know that once my time is up with her, she is going to a GREAT home. I have met the people that are adopting her, and Melissa will have the best life she could ever dream of. Will it be hard to let go of her, yes, but I’m comforted to know that she will be in GREAT hands and I will have nothing to worry about for her well being.



My beautiful home!

Everyone does keep asking me if I am adopting her. I would like to say yes. Every ounce of me would love to have this baby forever and watch her grow mentally and physically. There are a couple of things that deter me from doing that. One is that Haitian law states that you must be 35 and married for at least 10 years in order to adopt from this country. So legally, it would never be possible. I do know a couple that is thinking about having their parents adopt a child then signing over the papers. So it is possible. But that brings me to my next point. I’m 22 and single. There is no way that I could support a baby. Melissa would not have the life that she deserves, and I know that. Plus, she is going to a great home, so I have no worries when it comes to her. She will always be a part of me, and I of her. So no, I am not adopting her, but she is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Ever.

So, now I want to tell you all about school! Today I am actually at a parent teacher conference. I have to be here for six hours, and I basically just wait for the parents to come see me. I have three unsatisfactory behavior grades, and that is no fun, but they are going pretty well so far.


The sun!! It's so bright!

In the morning I aid 5th grade. They are so much fun! Apparently, they have some behavior issues at recess, but their teacher, Tiffany Nash, really has them under control! They respect her and really like her, and she is a wonderful teacher to get to observe everyday and learn from. The students have been reading James and the Giant Peach. I have never read that book, but I am getting to listen to them discuss the book, and it is so interesting. They really enjoy reading and have been really responsive to the things they have to do for their discussion groups. I have also been grading a lot of their papers, and occasionally help a child read or do some math. They are such a fun class, and I have really enjoyed being a part of their lives.

Also in the morning, I aid 6th grade. This grade is an interesting grade. They seem to have a lot more behavior issues than the 5th grade. Their teacher, Kristie Mattenley, is awesome and really gives the kids a chance express themselves through many different avenues. They really struggle with dirty jokes and cursing more than anything. I was really shocked to hear some of the things that come out of their mouths. Kristie is definitely handling it well. Usually in that class I help with Science, Social Studies, and drama. They are sweet kids and really like to learn.

Then, I teach 11th grade American Literature. I never in my life thought I would ever teach American Literature. Mr. Chopson (my literature teacher in high school) would be so proud of me! This class is a first year teacher’s DREAM! They participate, they all have A’s and B’s, and they are so much fun to teach. Right now we are reading To Kill A Mockingbird, which is one of my absolute favorite books of all time!

I then aid some more, and eat lunch, and aid some more. Haha! My schedule is so undefined!

Last period I teach grade 10 English. The focus of that class is mostly to develop writing skills and read novels. Currently, we are reading Pride and Prejudice, which is another one of my favorite books. This class is extremely hard to teach. They are often loud and rambunctious, and it is really hard to get anything done. Behavior grades just went out, so hopefully they will realize that their behavior is unacceptable and they will do better.


My favorite picture of us at the beach.

Teaching is a lot of fun, but also a lot of work! I have decided though, that this is something I could do for the rest of my life. Something I WANT to do for the rest of my life. I enjoy planning my lessons and helping kids understand something they think is impossible. I definitely want to go to grad school and get my Master’s in English so that I can teach English at the high school level.


What's up homie?!

So yeah, that’s school. Here are some other things that have happened. I’m just doing bullet points because I’m too lazy to type out full paragraphs J

I saw my first dead person. Morbid, I know. But that saddest part of that is when we drove past, the police officers that were “on the case” were standing nearby getting their shoes shined. It made me so mad.

I also was almost involved in another Haitian wreck. I was in one on my birthday, but this one was much worse. The guy passed us and his throttle got stuck and he cut us off and smacked into a wall. We were lucky to not hit him.

I got to drive! Michelle taught me how to drive a stick and I got to drive for a few minutes. I’m really terrible at it.

I got to watch the UT-Alabama and the Titans-Eagles games this week. Oh, how I’ve missed football.

The school is starting discipleship groups this week, and I will have 5-10 girls in my group and we will get to do a book study or something. I’m still praying about it.

We went to the beach the other day. It was so fun and relaxing. Melissa quite enjoyed the water. There are pictures scattered throughout this blog.

Things have been going pretty well. There are always going to be bad days. I have had my share of them, but overall, my time in Haiti is well worth the craziness. I feel like I’m impacting the people and that is one of the best feelings ever. I miss my family and my friends like CRAZY, but I know it is only seven and a half weeks until I’m reunited with the ones I love.

Thank you for your prayers, and I hope you are being blessed daily just as I am. I love all of you!

>k

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Melissa Hope: warrior child

Photo credits to Michelle Roberts and Anne Peters!

Melissa Hope has the story of a warrior. I am so privileged to watch her grow day to day. If you follow my tweets, or are my friend on Facebook, then you probably know a little bit about her. I want to take a blog to tell all of you her story and how awesome she is.


This is a recent picture of Mel-loo-loo

Two weeks ago, Dr. Jenny Chapman and nurse Anne Peters came to Haiti to serve. While they were here, we visited the orphanage, held a mobile medical clinic and they served at the clinic in Pernier that we support. On Thursday (I believe), Jenny and Anne were serving at the clinic when we got a phone call. A small child had been abandoned at the clinic! This child was believed to be 6 months and was suffering from being malnourished. She also has down syndrome. Then, to add another whammy, she also has a heart defect!


She looks so cute with her hair smoothed down!

I was in utter disgust when I found out that someone had just abandoned his or her child. Even though I am not a parent, I still cannot imagine just leaving my child somewhere. We went to the clinic to pick up Jenny and Anne and they brought along this little baby. At this point, we were still not sure of her name so we just called her “baby.” The moment I saw this child, my breath was taken away. This little baby was 6 months but looked like a newborn! We took her back to the house, and Jenny bonded with her. We decided to let Jenny pick the name for the baby since she had formed such a strong bond with her. We thought this baby might be one that we had seen before, and Greg confirmed that. Her name was Melissa, and her mom had brought her to the clinic several times. The next morning, Jenny and Anne were leaving and they woke up to a feverish baby.


This is three days after she was abandon!

My disgust for this mother quickly drizzled away when Jenny was telling me that the baby was well taken care of. She had no rashes, no flat spots from laying down too much, but she was just malnourished. I was so quick to judge that mother before I even knew her situation.


Three days with her and I already started to bond with her!

Now, I don’t really even like babies that much, but this one was breaking my heart. There was no way I could send her out to the orphanage with her being as week as she was. So somehow, out of my mouth, I uttered the words “I’ll take care of her until she is better.” WHAT?! Did I JUST say that? I blew my own mind, not to mention everyone else saying, did she just say that?!


My first meeting with Melissa!

So Jenny and Anne left me with a lot of instructions and good hug and they went back to America. So now what? I have this teeny tiny baby and I don’t have any younger siblings, nor have I ever been around babies.

So that starts my journey. I now wake up every morning to a beautiful baby girl who I have grown to love.

She is SUCH a good baby. She hardly ever cries, she sleeps through the whole night, and she smiles 90% of the time when she is awake. I have truly created a bond with her that is unbreakable. I know that she is God’s child and He has His hand in all of this.

So where do we go from here? I feed her every 4 hours, and boy has she plumped up! Her face is totally filled out and her limbs are beginning to get thicker. She is very high functioning! She will grab my hair and smile and move her limbs with purpose. She hates being covered up and often when I put a blanket on her, she will throw it off to the side.


Little bitty malnourished feet!

Her heart is the main issue right now. We are not sure what type of heart defect it is, but we do know that it needs to be taken care of. There is a doctor coming down at the end of September and he has agreed that he will do up to 100 children’s heart surgeries free of charge. We are praying that Melissa receives one of these treatments. If he comes down in September and says that she needs to have the surgery extremely soon, then we will have to find a way to get her into the states to have the surgery. If it is not an urgent problem, then we will wait until the doctor schedules the surgery to have it fixed.

She has so many people praying over her, and I hope that you will commit to praying for her too. She has a long way to go, but I know that God will take care of it. He has placed her in my life for a reason, and I can already tell that she is going to be marked in my heart forever.

She is getting so strong! When we first got her, she could not do anything. She could move her limbs, but could not push herself up or really control her head at all. I am so pleased to let you know that she can roll completely on to her tummy, she can push up once she is on her tummy, and she has really great control of her head. She will be lying on my stomach and she will look up at me and smile. It is the most precious thing I have ever seen. So she really is doing better. I’m excited to watch her continue to grow, and I will do my best to add pictures every chance I get.


This is my absolute favorite picture of her EVER!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pretty Please With Cherries On Top!

Hi friends! So as you guys know, I have been in Haiti for over a month now!

It has been a great experience and I am having a wonderful time. Ministry is tough, and part of being in the ministry is funding the time spent on the mission field. As you also know, I now have a job, so that is definitely going to help in my time here.

However, I still need funds to cover some costs from my time that I have already been here.

I could REALLY you use you guys help! The ministry here is good, and God is doing great things!

God has provided all of my August fees, but I am still in need of some for September since I didn't start my job until the middle of September.

Any amount you can give would be so appreciated! Thank you so much to those who have already given! I just ask that you pray and allow God to use you in my ministry! Every ounce of the funds goes straight to the ministry and funding the essentials of me living here like food, transportation, and rent.

If you would like to donate, please send a check to Kathy Birkhead (my mom) and she will know what to do with it! You can also make the check out to her because she will be sending the money to me by way of other missionaries. (e-mail me for information kristinabirkhead@gmail.com)

Thank you so much for reading this and I pray that God would work in your life through my ministry!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Can we call you Miss Tina?

Yes, my students asked me if they could call me Miss Tina. I quietly chuckled to myself and told them no, you have to call me Ms. Birkhead. And that is weird.


I love to teach. I never thought I would say that. I despised my college classes so much that I never thought I would step into a school building again. But here I am, teaching in a Christian school. The Lord likes to laugh at me and point my life in the direction I never thought it would go.

Right now, I have two high school English classes, and I always help with the elementary.

In the elementary, most of the kids speak English as their second language, so it can be hard to pick up on what the teacher is trying to tell them. This is where I come in. I will sit with them and read with them, and really just work on their English until they feel comfortable and their teacher’s feel comfortable with their progress. I haven’t started doing this yet, but we are working on my schedule currently.

I start teaching my English classes today. My first class is the juniors and boy are they crazy! I taught their class on Friday because their regular teacher was not able to be there. I was caught really off guard and had prepared nothing, so I just took a stab at it, and it went well. We played a round of boggle, and then they had to write a story with the words they came up with. They really seemed to enjoy it, and I definitely enjoyed reading the stories! I did notice that their writing is not the best, so this week we are spending time on how to write a successful essay.

My last class is the sophomores. I have sat in on their class several times, but today is my first day of actually teaching them. We are starting the short story, King Arthur. I think they will enjoy it. I have definitely enjoyed researching it and coming up with ideas for discussion. I just really hope I am effective in teaching the subject and I hope they enjoy it too.

If you have ANY advice on teaching English, I would absolutely love it. I’m kind of thrown into this big ocean and I’m not really sure what I’m doing. I know that God has called me to this, but I could definitely use some advice!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!

Happy Birthday DAD!!!

I want to dedicate this blog to my dad because today is his BIRTHDAY!!!

My dad is awesome. He is one of the coolest people I have ever met. He has always been there for me and has supported me when others thought I was crazy. He protects me, loves me, and teaches me how to be a better daughter and woman.

He is the life of the party and has allowed me to see some of the coolest places and things that I could imagine. He has given me the best life, and I thank God every day for him.

So if you read this, and you are friends with him on facebook, then go over there and give him a shout and tell him how cool he is!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My first day as a teacher! Well, kinda :)

I started my job at Quisqueya Christian School today. What an awesome opportunity the Lord has provided me! I was already semi-familiar with most of the high school teachers because I had met them at the open house for Dustin and Ashton’s classes. All the teachers are so friendly and really welcomed me in today and made me feel like a part of the team!

My day started out with Mr. Dakoter. He is the elementary school principal. He took me on a quick tour of all of the facilities and introduced me to a bunch of different teachers that were not busy at that time. I also sat in on one of the classes that I will be teaching. Mr. Hersey, the director of the school currently teaches 10th and 11th grade English, and those are the two classes that I will be teaching for him. In 11th grade English, the students are just finishing up reading Huckleberry Finn. If you know me at all, you know how much I love reading the classic books, so when I found out this was what they were reading, I was very excited! The class is very energetic and has a number of different interests. I’m excited to get to know them better and really start digging into the material. I will be just an observer for this week and then slowly ease my way into teaching.

I ate lunch with a bunch of the teachers. They were all so kind, and they all knew that I was going to be teaching there because of an e-mail that was sent out to the staff. The other high school English teacher was super inviting and really took me under her wing and let me know that she would help in any way shape or form. It’s really great to know that the teachers are so close here. It is a small family, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

After lunch, I read for about an hour because I had a break, then went and say in on the other English teacher’s class, just to get a feel for how she teaches. Her class is going through Antigone, which I have not read, but I really learned a lot from her teaching style.

And that was my first day of school! Pretty low-key, but also very fun. My awkwardness definitely came out today, but I quickly put it away and became a normal human again, haha!

But I got a double-dose of teaching today!

Every Tuesday, the Roberts teach an English as a second language class at the First Baptist Church of Penier. I had taught it once before, but really found the curriculum they had to be mundane and not helpful. So today, I decided to make up my own curriculum, with the help of an ESL book that was given to us. I had about 10 students in my intermediate class and we went over the verb “to be” and how to use am, is and are. It was a great class, and I really enjoyed it this week because I knew what I was teaching and how to teach them effectively. The students really enjoyed it as well. They were asking me to bring worksheets for them every week so they could learn better.

I know that God is doing BIG things in Haiti. One of my projects while on staff at Quisqueya is to start a mentoring program for the girls of the school. Mentoring is so close to my heart. Many of you know that I mentor girls back home in Nashville, so the opportunity to continue that here is such a blessing. I really want the students to feel God’s love and really understand what it means to live a Christ-centered life. I know that the Lord is in this school and He will guide me through this awesome time!

Well, that is all for now. I have another full day of learning and growing tomorrow! Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers! God is working!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty!

I’m trying to be better about blogging more often. I was doing good for a while, but I know I have slacker tendencies, but I’m going to try to stay on top of things. I’m just going to leave off where my last blog ended!

So, I have been looking for different places to serve while I’m here. I have been to the orphanage at Thomazeu, I have helped in mobile clinics, and done other various things. As much as I have loved doing both of those things, I knew that God had something bigger for me. The kids started school at Quisqueya Christian School. The director of the school told Greg and Michelle (the missionary couple I live with) that there might be an opening for a teacher’s aide position. I scheduled an informal interview with the school director and prayed that God would do what he wanted with this opportunity.

So off to the interview I went. I was more nervous than I had been in a long time. I didn’t know what to expect or what God was going to do. I just prayed that whatever the outcome, that God would be the center of the decision. When I went in I was as nervous as nervous can be! Mr. Hersey, the director of the school started out with the regular questions… what is your degree in, what do you feel competent to teach in, what are your hobbies, explain your spiritual walk, etc. I breezed through those questions and Mr. Hersey told me that there is a lot of need at QCS and if I would commit to staying until May, then I could teach a speech class and a Bible class. My mouth dropped open at the thought of staying until May. I knew that I would have to pray hard core about this and talk to my family before I could make any decisions.

So I prayed. A lot. I talked to the missionaries about it then talked with my parents, and truly feel like God is totally opening doors for me to stay here until May. So I’m staying til May! I’m going to start teaching sometime soon.

Surprisingly, my parents were totally okay with it. I mean, they were sad that I wasn’t coming home to stay, but also excited for me.

I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, but decided not to pursue it. This will be a great indicator or whether or not I want to make a career out of teaching, and possibly get my Masters Degree in education. So yeah, I’m super pumped!

God is doing such great things in Haiti. Last Saturday we did a mobile clinic with World Orphans. I have blogged about them before. When Chelsea and Hannah were here, we did a mobile clinic with World Orphans (Chelsea gave me a tetanus shot). We went back to the same location to finish looking over all the kids with Dr. Jenny Chapman. We saw about 40 people all together, which was incredible. Most of the kids had either worms or a cold. Dr. Jenny was excellent with all the kids. Her passion totally showers through all of her work.

I’m going back to Quisqueya School today to talk to Mr. Hersey more about teaching there. I’ll try to blog some more tomorrow between taking care of a six month old and preparing for English class tomorrow. Sorry for such the delay, but I will blog again VERY soon!

Thank you for your prayers and support. They are truly amazing, and God is at work in this place.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A tale of a lazy girl..

I know it has been a while since I last blogged, and I really wish that I could give you an awesome reason that would blow your mind, but I don’t have anything. Not even a good bluff! Truth is, I’ve been doing a lot of N-O-T-H-I-N-G!

But, I promised I would blog about the orphanage, so that is what I’m going to start out with. We went out to Thomazeau to Children of Hope Orphanage and Hospice. This was my third trip there since I’ve been here, and probably my favorite one that I’ve taken out there. As I blogged about HERE, last time I was there I fell in love with a little boy named Israel. If you remember, Israel is the first boy that I played volleyball with last time I went to the orphanage. As soon as we got there, I went and found him to see how he was doing. We had been told that a lot of the kids were running fever with a cough, so I wanted to make sure that he was feeling all right. I finally found him after 10 minutes of actively searching for him, and he was not sick at all! I was so thankful that he was feeling good and ready to play! He went and grabbed a soccer ball and we played soccer for at least an hour! During a break we were taking, Julie came and found me. Julie is a girl that I met in October, and instantly fell in love with. I have been looking for her every time we went to the orphanage and finally found her this time. She wanted to hold my hand and touch and hug and sit together all day. It was so hard trying to divide my attention between two kids who I absolutely loved, but we all sat together and took LOTS of pictures.

As much as I love the orphanage, but it is so hard for me to come and go. The looks on the faces of these kids when we leave absolutely break my heart. I told someone the other day that if I had a job, a house, and a husband, I would adopt Israel and Julie in an instant. I can only pray that someone loves these kids as much as I do and want to take them home. So if you need a couple of extra kids in your household, I definitely know these two deserve an amazing home!

However, I am REALLY happy that I get to go back as many times as I want between now and December to love on not only Israel and Julie, but the rest of the kids at the orphanage as well.

After we kicked the soccer ball for a while, the kids gathered around me and brought a book that had English words in it. We sat for about an hour and read the book. The kids were learning English and I was learning Creole. We went through body parts, colors, numbers, and other random words of objects we saw around the orphanage. I finally felt like I was doing something productive that would pay off in the long run. It was all around an awesome day, but leaving again was so so hard. My heart breaks each time we leave because I know that at the end of the day, I have two amazing parents and a ton of friends that I get to go home to. These kids don’t have that luxury, so I want them to feel like they are loved each and every time I see them. It’s heartbreaking, but I wish that everyone could experience the feeling that I feel when I leave this kids. It is gut wrenching, but it is also a beautiful thing to know that I’ve poured out love to them whenever they don’t have that luxury or receiving that same love from a parental figure.

So that was my trip to the orphanage. It was a wonderful wonderful trip and I can’t wait to go back and see Israel and Julie again.

So back to my laziness. I haven’t been TOTALLY lazy. I have worked out every day except Saturdays and Sundays! Michelle and I are trying to get toned and work off all the calories we eat! We usually get up and work out then get ready and go pick up the kids. I try to help them with their homework as much as I can, then get ready for dinner. We are finally in the groove of school. The reason for my laziness was basically trying to figure out where I could serve keeping with the schedules of the kids. And I will get to more of how I will be serving a little later in this post! (What? I’ve got to keep you interested)

One interesting thing that has happened to me since the last time I blogged is a little Haitian bug. This little bug decided to crawl up in my belly and make me feel terrible for two days. I must admit, I did not work out on these today, but only because my body physically would not let me. I couldn’t keep any food down and just felt absolutely horrible the entire time. I still have no clue exactly what happened, but it was terrible for those two days. I am fully recovered, and back in a good work out schedule once again.

So right now, the missionaries I live with are fundraising for a generator. Being the PR major I am, I have been trying to help them come up with ways to raise $6,000 to purchase a generator big enough to run the house and the guesthouse. I had not really seen the absolute NEED for one until a few days ago. We have three types of power here in Haiti: EDH, which is public power, the generator, and the inverter, which runs of batteries that charge when the generator or public power is on. EDH hardly ever comes on. We never know when we will have power or not. The inverter can only run for so long on battery power before the batteries die and have to be recharged. The generator often cuts itself off because it is having to work so hard to power all of the things that need to be powered, I.E. fans, fridge, electronics, things of that sort. So the other night, the kids were tucked in to bed ready to go to sleep when all of the sudden the power went out completely. EDH was not on, the inverter had no battery power, and the generator had stopped working completely. Greg quickly ran to the generator and had our guard, Zeke, help him try to fix it. An hour went by, and let me tell you, an hour with NO fans is misery. It was stinking hot, and all the kids were awake. After the hour, they finally got the generator to turn on, but I quickly realized that the generator was not big enough to run two houses! So here is my fundraising plea… we NEED a generator. If you would be so kind as to help us raise the money, I would love you forever. Just E-mail me, and I will definitely let you know what you can do to help! (My e-mail is kristinabirkhead@gmail.com)

In other news, a huge cockroach ran across my floor the other day. A cockroach the size of TEXAS! Luckily, Dustin, the 15 year-old missionary’s son came to my rescue and killed the cockroach. I am forever grateful!

But, now I am tired, so I am going to bed to rest my eyes for a bit before a new week starts. I’ll try to blog more tomorrow because I have some wonderful news that I want to share with all of you!

Grace and peace.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I cut my hair!!

I finally chopped all of it off! The pictures are backwards because I can't get them to flip!

After!
Before!!

I absolutely LOVE it!! Let me know what you think!


Monday, August 23, 2010

My favorite thing: FOOD!!!

So, I have been in Haiti for two weeks now, and it was brought to my attention that I have not told you guys about the Haitian food! I have been so excited about the hamburgers and ice cream that I haven’t even touched on the awesome food that our Haitian cook, Lannie, makes! So this blog is dedicated to the food lovers out there that don’t care about my pizza and hamburgers!

RICE AND BEANS: Of course, we have rice and beans every single night. Lucky me! I love rice and beans. Most nights we have rice with peas in it, so naturally I pick all the peas out and just eat the rice. The rice has a bit of a spicy flavor to it, but tastes AMAZING. I could eat it every single night. Some nights though, we have white rice and pinto beans, which is my favorite type of rice and beans that we have!

LE GOO: I have no clue if that is how you actually spell it, but I don’t really eat it. It is vegetables mixed up in a blender, and then you pour it over the white rice. I don’t like veggies, so I don’t eat it. The main vegetable in it is some kind of green leaf, so it really just looks like green stringy stuff. Everyone says it is delicious, but I haven’t had the guts to eat it yet!

BULLION: I’m killing the spellings of these things. This meal is like a vegetable soup. It has chunks of potatoes in it and beef and carrots. It has an amazing flavor, and you put the rice in the soup and eat it all together. It is so delicious, but soup is hard to eat when it is 100 degrees outside.

CHICKEN LEGS: Lannie makes some of the best chicken legs I have ever had. I am not a huge dark meat eater, but her chicken legs have the best flavor! She bastes them in some kind of sauce with onions and it tastes amazing. We have those about 3 times a week!

MAC N CHEESE: Now, this isn’t your run of the mill every day macaroni and cheese. This is Haitian mac and cheese. She takes long penne noodles and cheese of course, but puts ham and some seasonings in it. It takes like heaven on a plate. It is so good! I wish I could be more descriptive, but that’s really all I can tell you. I’ll try to start taking pictures of our food so that you can see the deliciousness I am talking about!

SALAD: The salad here is so fresh, because all the ingredients are bought fresh from the street markets. She puts cucumbers and onions and we usually have a vinaigrette dressing. YUM!

FISH: I don’t eat fish, but this is the main thing that people eat in Haiti. Fish and shrimp. We went to a fish place the other day and when you order the fish, they literally bring out the ENTIRE fish. Head and all. It looks absolutely disgusting to me, but everyone says it tastes good. So if you like fish, Haiti is definitely somewhere you should go!

CHINESE: You read it right… Chinese!! In Haiti!! Say whaaaat?!?! We discovered this awesome little Chinese restaurant the other day! It had traditional Chinese food, but was way overpriced, so we won’t be returning there unless it is a special occasion, but it did taste wonderful! I had sweet and sour chicken and fried rice!

BBQ CHICKEN: When we went to the fish place, I ordered BBQ chicken. It was chicken wings (bone in) drenched in a wonderful barbeque sauce. And fresh cut French fries of course.

JUICE: When Lannie cooks, she always has fresh squeezed juice for us to drink. My favorite is fresh squeezed lemonade! It is to DIE for! We have also had grapefruit, and mango, but I try to drink water at dinner because it’s better for you!

HAITIAN BREAKFAST: I’ve only had a Haitian breakfast once. We had a buffet! A normal Haitian breakfast: boiled eggs, spaghetti, and bread with butter. I ate boiled eggs and bread with butter, but I’m not a big fan of spaghetti in the morning. Their spaghetti is really good. I’ve had it for lunch, but didn’t venture trying to eat it for breakfast.

PLANTAINS: So I thought plantains were like bananas. I was wrong. When Greg and Michelle picked me up from the airport, Michelle was buying plantains from a guy on the side of the road. She gave me one and it literally tasted like a potato chip! We eat them all the time now! Lannie made some the other night, but she cuts hers extremely thick so it tasted very starchy. I like the thin ones must better!

So there is my tribute to Haitian food. I am still pretty partial to the hamburgers and pizza though! I haven’t been asked to eat goat yet, so I’m doing pretty good. I eat a lot of sandwiches and cereal for breakfast and lunch. Overall, I’m getting a good mix of American and Haitian food, and loving it!

Oh and today is my sister’s birthday, so I couldn’t imagine writing a blog without giving her a shout out!

Happy birthday Marissa!! Enjoy old age!

Be on the look out for my next blog about my trip to the orphanage. It’ll be a heart wrencher!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Christ Compared to a BRA!

Today is Sunday and we went to Pastor Jude’s church. This church is unlike any church I have ever been to. We woke up pretty early to get ready and left to head to church. We got there just in time, but it is 100 degrees inside the church so I stood outside where it was a little cooler. We sang for a little while but it was all in Kreyole, so I really had no clue what they were singing. All of the sudden, a Haitian started singing “Draw me close to you… Never let me go… I lay it all down again… To hear you say that I’m your friend… Help me find a way… Bring me back to You… You’re all I want… You’re all I’ve ever needed… You’re all I want… Help me know you are near.”

I was suddenly reminded of how amazing the Lord is and how good He is to me. I was a little discouraged because I couldn’t understand any of the songs that were being played, but as soon as that song came on, I was completely humbled and put in awe of my Savior once again. It was such a good reminder to know that He is near and that He loves me more than I can ever know. I’m reminded of the song “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.” And it is so true! I all the time take for granted all that He has done for me, and being here in Haiti makes me never want to take anything for granted again!

Our sermon at church was about making Christ the stronghold of your life. I was taken aback when all of the sudden, the pastor took out a bra from the pulpit! He held it up to his chest and compared Christ to a bra!! He was talking about how a bra secured a woman and protected her, and said that Christ should do that for us. Christ is our light and we must stay in the light! It was unlike any sermon I have ever heard in my life, but strangely, made a lot of sense! Hahaha! I’m sure I’ll never hear another sermon like that again!

After church we went to eat at this wonderful little restaurant and I had a bacon cheeseburger and French fries! Who would’ve thought! But it certainly didn’t compare to my last cheeseburger in America at the Shingletons!

Speaking of the Shingletons, they are probably having Bible study right now. I miss that! If you went, holla at me and let me know how it went!

I’m pretty sure that Church of the Cove is livin’ love for the homeless tonight too. Faye let me know how it went!

Anywhoooo, sorry I am getting so distracted! After lunch we came back to the house and everyone took a nap. I tried so hard to fight it, but when I started reading, I got so sleepy and passed out. When I woke up it was time to take the tour of Haiti and see some of the damage that the Earthquake caused. What an experience that was! There is still so much destruction in Petionville, which is where the epicenter of the quake was. I took lots of pictures and I hope to post them soon! As we were going through the city, we saw houses destroyed, businesses destroyed, and tons of people living in tents on the side of the road. We saw the president’s house too, and it was still really destroyed even though they had started cleaning up some of the destruction. I couldn’t help but pray for all the people that were killed and orphaned and abandoned. They showed us where a hotel collapsed and still had dead bodies of UN members under the rubble. It was heartbreaking to see that. I can’t even explain what my heart was feeling as we were looking upon all of it.

I don’t think I’ll ever experience it again.

We ate Domino’s, yes DOMINO’S after the tour! Who would’ve thought that I would get to eat American style pizza in HAITI! It was a good slice of home… no pun intended. I lied, there was totally a pun intended hahaha!

Now we are watching Michael Jackson’s This Is It. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a HUGE MJ fan. This movie is making me so happy. It’s the perfect end to an awesome and gut wrenching day. Tomorrow we are going to the clinic to help out there. Pray for the people that we will be seeing, and pray for us to be like Christ and show His love to them.

Thanks for all your prayers. They are much needed! I love each and everyone one of you!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Two More Days In Paradise

What a whirlwind of a week we have had! I could not have asked for a better week to start here in Haiti! I already told you of my first two days in Haiti so I’ll fill you in on the rest of the week so far.

Greg and Michelle (the missionaries that I live with) wanted to take their niece and her best friend to the beach while we were here, so Thursday was set-aside for that. We traveled about an hour away and went to a place called Club Indigo. It was a super nice resort. We got there around 1 that afternoon and checked into our rooms and got some lunch. We played at the beach for a while and at the pool for a while and just relaxed completely.

I ate a hamburger for lunch, and it was DELICIOUS! I had a hot dog for dinner and a coke, which tastes way better here than in America. The water was absolutely beautiful and the temperature was perfect! I couldn’t help but stand in awe of the sunset Thursday night at think about how awesome our God is.

Friday morning we woke up and went to an awesome Haitian breakfast buffet. I had boiled eggs and French toast and boy was it good! We haven’t really eaten just an awesome breakfast, so it was nice to eat some “American” for breakfast. Lunch was pretty delicious too. I had a hot dog with cheese. It really is the little things in life that you miss like something as simple as a hamburger.

We played at the beach for the day then came back home for dinner. After dinner we came back up to the house and I wanted to continue reading “The Shadow Of The Almighty”, which Ms. Janet Shrum so graciously lent me while I came to Haiti. I read quite a bit then got pretty sleepy so I popped a movie into my laptop and tried to drift off to sleep. I was watching the movie when all of the sudden my Skype made a noise to tell me that it turned on. We hadn’t had Internet since Tuesday so I couldn’t believe it was working! As soon as it turned on, my son from Super Summer, Caleb, chatted me to see how I was doing. Our chat soon turned into a phone call, and I got to talk to him for a while. It was so good to hear a familiar voice and see a friend!

My sister and brother in law then called me just to chat and give me Big Brother updates. I know that I’m an addict to crappy reality TV. I’m just itching to know what is happening, so they filled me in on the details.

After I got off the phone with them, Adam West called me and it was so good to see him and John Mark. Even though I’m having such a blast here, it is hard to leave my friends behind. They have been such a huge part of my life for the past two months, so I want to share with them every detail of my life and what I’ve been doing here in Haiti.

I talked to Adam and John Mark for about 15 minutes, and then decided we should conference call with Adam Fox!! The Tripod was reunited! And it did feel good! I finally got to catch up with both of them for a little while, and by the time we were done chatting, it was time for bed!

So once again, I turn my light off and restart my movie and try to drift to sleep, but of course… ANOTHER phone call! I felt so important and popular!

This time, the call was from my dear friend Jared Shingleton. I told him about what I had been doing here and then out of nowhere, he pulled out his guitar and started singing me a song called Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show. We both really love this song so it is funny when both of us listen to it because we tend to think of each other when we hear it. It was so good to catch up with him and see how he was doing. We came up with an awesome business plan that we would both LOVE to make reality one day, so I pray that the Lord would have His way in that.

After I talked to him for a while, I finally lay down, but was WIDE-awake! I finally drifted to sleep around 1 and had to get up around 7:30 the next morning to get ready for a mobile medical clinic.

We left the house this morning around 8:30 to get ready for a medical clinic out by the airport with World Orphans. We saw 64 children today with a range of issues, from worms, to scabies, to colds. I fell in love with a little boy named Sam, and still can’t get my mind off of him! He was the cutest little thing, but ended up leaving the clinic in tears because he didn’t feel good.

We started out the day dividing vitamins into bags so the children could take them home. Mary, one of the nurses on the team, began giving Tetanus and Diphtheria shots, and my friend Chelsea wanted to try. Mary talked her through it, and before I knew it, Chelsea was giving shots to little kids! Another member of our team decided she wanted to try, so she started giving shots as well. Then they asked me if I wanted to try. I was super hesitant, but Mary talked me through it, and I gave my first T/D shot! The boy didn’t even flinch or cry or anything!

It was so much fun that I gave a bunch more! We gave a ton of shots to children over 7 that had not been vaccinated, and it felt so good knowing that those kids could be healthier from a simple shot that I so often take for granted.

So now I have sorted pills and given shots… I think Walgreens would hire me in an instant! Haha! Today was such an awesome day watching so many children be treated of whatever they were dealing with.

Right as we were packing up, the members of our team began to ask me if I had had a Tetanus shot, and of course I said no… I HATE shots! I hate doctors, hospitals and needles. I probably should have got one before I came, but I just really didn’t want to before I left the states because I knew they hurt for a few days. Chelsea, who just started giving shots, decided she wanted to give me a shot, and for some reason, I let her!!! What was I thinking??!?!?? She did a great job though, and even though it hurt, I know that I am now safer having been treated for Tetanus.

Things are going so great here, and I’m so excited to go to church in the morning and see what the Lord has there. I know He is working so much in everything here, and especially in my life. It has been so great to see so many faces light up just from getting a simple vitamin for other medicine, or just from having their belly tickled, or a little massage. It has really been such a great experience, and I can’t wait to see what else He has in store for this week!

Friday, August 13, 2010

My first two days in a place that feels like home!

Today is my second full day in Haiti. I am having such an amazing time. It is extremely hot here, and that will wear any person out, so I start to lose energy around 1 or 2, but I’ve been doing just fine!

Yesterday was my 22 birthday. Yup, I’m totally old. Woke up this morning feeling my age haha! But yesterday was definitely filled with lots of fun adventures. We woke up around seven and got ready for the day. We then headed out to Children of Hope Orphanage and Hospice to play with the kids. I visited this orphanage back in October and fell in love with it then, and going back yesterday just reminded me of how much I do that those kids!

We played with the kids for a few hours. I fell in love with this boy named Israel. He is probably 6 or 7 and we played with a beach ball and volleyed it back and forth. I haven’t seen a child’s face light up that much in such a long time. It was so fun just to love him and hang out with him.

After a little while, we got in the car to go back to the house. It is definitely a bumpy ride, so we were all hanging on for deal life in the truck. We had stopped and all of the sudden someone RAMMED us! We had 4 people in the bed of the truck and they were definitely shaken up! Everyone was fine, but it took two hours to swap information and figure out what needed to be done. After that we were finally on our way back to the house.

But of course, we had to make another stop. We went to the market to get some snacks. Since it was my birthday, I decided it was ok to eat an entire Toblerone, and that is exactly what I did. It was absolutely delicious. Some girls we were with were on the hunt for Dr. Pepper. The first market didn’t have any, so we went to another market, which took about another hour. By the time we got home, it was time to eat dinner! Oh, and we did find Dr. Pepper, and they bought 15 of them!

We got home and we went down to eat dinner. We have spaghetti and meatballs and salad! It was so delicious! As I was about to start filling my plate, Greg turned around and showed me this BEAUTIFUL cake that he had bought for my birthday and everyone sang. I started to tear up, but held in back. It was so awesome for them to think of me. And this cake was amazing! It was from a French bakery in Petionville, which is about 20 minutes from our house. And it tasted delicious too!

As a matter of fact, I just ate another piece, and it is still delicious!

After dinner we came back up to the house and I skyped with my sister, then Adam West and John Mark, who sang me an AWESOME birthday song. It is so good to still be able to see familiar faces while I’m here.

Today was an excellent day as well. We had to wake up super early to head to the orphanage. Rozlynn was a young girl that had been at the orphanage for a really long time and she was more of a caretaker than an orphan. She died on Monday, and her funeral was today. We went there early this morning so that we could take care of the kids while all of the workers went to the funeral. As soon as we got there, we were swarmed by children. Automatically, Israel, the young boy that I played “beach volleyball” with wanted to play again, so we started playing.

A few minutes later, a boy named Lookins wanted to play basketball, so me, him, Rivaldo and Kinsley played 2 on 2. The basketball goal was a small tin round thing that is nothing like an American basketball goal. But, apparently, I’m not too shabby. Me and Rivaldo won the first game, and tied the second game. It was so fun, but definitely wore me out. Dashna is another young girl that I played with today. She hit her head on a bench and we bonded through that experience.

Now we are back home and all very exhausted. I just wanted to let you guys know what I was doing! It is raining right now, so the Internet went out, and I’m not sure when it will go back on, so this might be a little delayed because of the rain.

I appreciate all of your prayers, and know that they are what is getting me through the days. The work is hard, but totally worth every bit of effort put in. Just know that I am doing great, and the Lord is working in this place! I love each and every one of you!