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...


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.