Saturday, December 17, 2011

Semester One of Graduate School

Since I've been on such a hiatus, I'm going to start from the most recent things and try to work my way back.

When I came home, I enrolled at Lipscomb University to start my Masters of Education. My first class was called Principles of Learning. I basically learned how people learn. It was really interesting, and ended up coming out of that class with a 100. I couldn't believe that I was in a Masters class and received a 100 percent.

My second class was called planning, instruction, and assessment. That is pretty self-explanatory. I wrote lots of lesson plans and learned a whole lot about assessing how students learned. I have gained so much knowledge, and I'm happy to report that I am a lesson plan writing fool! I had to write a 5 lesson plan unit plan, and decided on an 8th grade unit over The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. I had a really great time writing it, and ended up getting a perfect score on it!

Overall, I got an A in both of those classes, so I got my first 4.0! I'm looking forward to my next classes that start in January.

When I started my Masters program, I wanted to teach 7-12 English. I still do, but I have decided to get certified in two subjects... English 7-12 and Math 7-12. I know, I know... who does English AND Math? Well, this girl does! I start taking some refresher Math courses in January along with my basic Masters classes. I'm going to be a busy girl!

In addition to taking Masters classes, I have been tutoring at Davidson, which is where I went to high school. I subbed there every now and then, but just the other day, they offered me a full-time job for next semester! I'll be watching study halls all day, which sounds totally boring, but it will give me a chance to connect with kids. I'll still be tutoring, but I have a more permanent position.

I think what I am most excited about is just connecting with students and hanging out with them and allowing God to work in me in that capacity.

I've been going through a bit of a tough season, but the Lord is faithful and has been putting amazing people in my life to lift my spirits and remind me of my purpose here in Nashville.

Here's a sneak preview of some posts that are in the works...
  • Me and my roomie, Michelle, took a road trip to Texas
  • I went to 48395239 concerts this Summer, including a few of a close friend
  • My sweet Melissa passed away in September, and I haven't been able to write a post about it
  • Awesome things that are happening in the life of my church, Hope Fellowship
That is just a few things that I'm thinking about, but I promise to try to stay on top of my blogging.

K

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

To Blog or Not To Blog

I have been debating on whether or not I want to keep blogging. I have taken a MAJOR hiatus, but I have finally decided that I am going to keep blogging. My life has taken so many twists and turns since I returned from Haiti, and I want to be able to document and share with you the many changes that I am going through.

But I'm not going to start blogging until tomorrow. I want to do a "catch up" post and let you know about some really exciting things in my life and the life of my best friends. Stay tuned!

K

Monday, August 1, 2011

It's Been A While



Hey friends!

It's been quite a while since I last blogged. I wish that I could put in to writing the emotions I have felt lately. I have had good feelings and sad feelings, angry feelings and everything in between. I'm going to try to recap the summer, but mostly through pictures since that is less boring :)

I got home after a LONG day of travel and immediately went to Steak and Shake with my 7 friends that came with me to the airport. This picture is gross, but it's the only one we took that night.

I finally got reunited with the Tripod!



A few days after I got home, my cousins, aunt, uncle, and grandma came for a Nashville visit!

I met a famous guy...

I was a date to a wedding.

Then there was camp. I really want to devote a whole blog to the awesomeness of camp, but this one little picture can show you just how ridiculous it is.

After camp, we headed downtown for the fireworks and a pretty sweet Darius Rucker concert.

After that, I headed up to Pigeon Forge with my roomie to see this guy. I just love Georgey.


That really sums up a lot of the summer. I've been hanging out with lots of people and just readjusting to life. I got in to grad school at Lipscomb University and I start on August 22. I will be getting my Masters of Education in instructional practice. I am super excited about the possibilities once I have my Masters.

I've been applying for jobs left and right, but not having much luck. I'm hoping to have something nailed down in the next week, and actually just got word of an interview on Friday. Yay!

Not a day goes by that I don't think about Haiti. My heart aches all the time. The past few days have been especially hard. I keep seeing pictures of Melissa and Junior, and many other children who touched my life. I miss giving them hugs and loving them. I miss my students. I'm around high schoolers pretty much every day, but I miss the bond that I shared with the students at QCS. I didn't think it would be this hard, but wow. I just want to teleport back there. My life here seems so meaningless. I'm not really doing anything to change the world like I said I would.

There are so many opportunities at my feet, yet I'm terrified to take them. I'm scared to put myself out there and love like I loved in Haiti. I hate this feeling, and I know it is one that only God can cure. So I'm going to pray. I'm going to pray that I love without abandon. I'm going to pray for every person in Haiti that I came in contact with. I'm going to pray for the people I'm around here in Tennessee. I'm going to step up and be the woman of God that I know I am supposed to be.

Sorry for that little rant, I just needed to get it out. I'm going to TRY to blog more regularly, but my life is still pretty boring right now :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

America!

I am back in America! Nashville, to be exact. I haven't really had time to blog because life has been go, go, go. I wanted to give a quick update just to let you know how I'm doing.

After stressing out about who was going to pick me up at the airport, I was surprised by 8 lovely friends who welcomed me with open arms. We went to Steak and Shake where I had an amazing bacon cheeseburger!

Monday I went to meet my niece, Kailee. She is super cute, but the girl cried the entire time I was there. I'm convinced she doesn't like me very much. After visiting for a while, I went to surprise my friend Katie at the airport. She had just flown in from Bulgaria. I wanted to show my support, so we visited, then went to Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. After dinner, being the cheesy girl I am, I visited my friend Kellye and watched the Bachelorette. I do love that show!

Tuesday night I went over to a house and met up with my best friend from high school, Aubrey. I am in her wedding in October, so she introduced me to all of the bridesmaids. It was so fun just to meet everyone and finally be able to be part of the wedding.

Wednesday was best friend Adam's 27th birthday! We went to Chili's for lunch and helped him celebrate the day. After lunch, I went to an animal shelter with two other friends and played with puppies. That night was Bible study, which was a great time of worship.

I have been super busy with everyone, so today is my first day to just sit by myself. A couple of people have asked me how I have been dealing with being back. I honestly haven't even had time to think about it. It has been challenging trying to process all of my thoughts. I miss Haiti so much, but I'm having so much fun visiting all of my friends. I haven't really been able to talk about it much, which makes it challenging to process all of the things going on in my brain.

So once I figure out how I'm dealing with all this, I'll let you know :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Don't Like This One Bit

I've been avoiding blogging because I'm not quite ready to leave. After not being able to cry for the past two months, I have been a blubbering idiot these past few days.

Sunday, I said goodbye to my church family.



Today, I say goodbye to one of my closest friends, Heidi, and a couple of my students.




Tomorrow, I say goodbye to all of my students and another close friend, Katie.




Thursday, another friend, Jaime, leaves.



Saturday is graduation, where I'll see the seniors for the last time.


Algebra one sophomores!

10th Grade Boys

American Lit Juniors

10th Grade Girls
Sunday, I fly out.

I don't feel ready to go. My heart aches each time I have to say goodbye. Last week during class, we had a pretty relaxing week of review and just hanging out. I wrote every single one of my students a letter telling them how special they are to me and how much I will miss them. They all really appreciated it, but no one really said anything until I got to my Junior class.

One of the kids wanted me to go around and say one thing that I have loved about each student. That is so easy. I could do that all day long. After I finished going through the twelve of them, they started saying things to me. I was definitely not expecting it at all.

The things they said to me are marked in my heart forever. I have often wondering if I have even impacted one student while I've been here, and they definitely showed me that I did. God moved mountains in my life, and I'm so glad they were able to see Him moving in my life.

A lot of the boys in the class started out by apologizing for being so bad and rude. In the past few weeks, they were on a roll of bad behavior, so it was nice to hear them apologize. Many of them said they really respected me for leaving my comfortable life and coming here, even if it wasn't what my parents wished.

Cue watery eyes.

They were being so sentimental. There goal was to get me to cry, and I was trying to hold back. I didn't want them to see me break down, and I didn't want it to be goodbye. I held strong through four of five of their comments, but then one girl started. She is in my discipleship group, but has been fairly quiet throughout the year. She is a fantastic writer, but told me that she had quit writing because she didn't see it taking her anywhere. She told me that even though I never said keep it up, keep going, that she was motivated to continue writing because of me.

Cue more watery eyes.

She said that she saw Christ working in my life, and I didn't have to say keep going, and keep it up because she saw that I just up and left my parents and my life to come and work here. She said that I inspired her to keep working hard.

Cue tears flowing down my face.

I definitely didn't expect to hear that. It is incredible how God has moved this semester. He deserves every ounce of glory for the things that have happened this semester. All I have done is try to be obedient to His calling, and I'm glad that He is getting glory from this experience. I'm so sad to leave, but knowing that God has used my time here to glorify Him, I am pleased.

Even though I'm sad about leaving, I'm also really excited to go home and see my friends! These are just a few of them...


My new roomie!

Sweet Maci, and the rest of her family

College friends, Amanda and J
Work friend/BFF Jessie

John Mark!
Best friend, Kellye

The Tripod, of course

Hopefully a reunion will be in the works!

The other day, while I was avoiding grading, I made a list of some of the things I want to do this summer. Most of them are Nashville faves, but they are all things I want to do. I thought I would share with you so you can either reminiscence if you've done these things, put them on your wish list, or make fun of me for being absolutely ridiculous.

1. CMA Festival - I've got tickets to go and I'm so excited! Jaime and my other friend Amy are coming down for it.
2. Play in the fountains - one of my favorite past times.
3. Laser Quest
4. Mike's ice cream - birthday cake milkshake. Yes, please.
5. Margaritaville - they have some dang good nachos.
6. Wildhorse - a little country line dancin'
7. Play at Centennial - preferably the game, signs.
8. Go fishing
9. Go swimming - hopefully lots
10. Eat s'mores
11. Cook a meal for friends
12. Read a book - hopefully lots more than just one.
13. Donate clothes
14. Make a budget - it's time to be a big girl
15. Learn to ride a bike - I still don't know how
16. Have an "around the world" party - I'm big into cultural food. I'll bring the rice and beans!
17. Have a picnic
18. Pancake Pantry - one of my Nashville favorites
19. Eat a popsicle at Las Paletas
20. Gigi's Cupcakes
21. Arrignton Vineyard - a wine tasting could be fun and sophisticated
22. Shoot off fireworks
23. Eat at mellow mushroom
24. Volunteer somewhere
25. Smokies Game!

I know there is a ton more that I want to do, I just haven't been able to put it on paper yet. I'm hoping for one incredible summer, but I never want to forget the things I have learned and experienced here in Haiti. The goodbyes are sad, but God has truly blessed every ounce of my time here.

If you see me in the airport crying, don't be alarmed, I just miss my home.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

One Haiti Dilemma

"Give me one dollar!" "Give me!" Whenever we walk down the street to our favorite little grocery store or the "faster food" restaurant close to us, these phrases ring out in the streets. Those two, along with my personal favorite, "blan!" (Blan means "white" in Creole) My first reaction is to scoop up these small kids and empty my pockets and do anything I can to give them something. What I didn't realize was that in my compassion, I could really be hurting them further. "But how can giving a small kid some money hurt him?" I asked the same thing. My friend Ben found this awesome article on Haitian trafficking that really sent a shock of reality through my bones. There had been talk around campus about these little beggars, and one individual stated that "bigger boys" often take the money from the boys and physically abuse them. It is a way of trafficking that absolutely disgusts me. To think that these little boys, that are just hungry and want some food, are forced to ask for money so that the bigger boys can take it from them makes my heart break. So what can I do? Our friend circle had a conversation and the solution is not simple. If you give them money, they bigger boys will take it and abuse them. If you don't give them money, the bigger boys will abuse them for not having anything. We talked about buying them food and drinks whenever we can. That seems like the best solution, but the trafficking needs to be stopped. Only God has the perfect solution, but it still breaks my heart to know that these kids live a live of tragedy.

Every time I leave the walls of the compound where I live and teach, I can only pray that God would heal them. I may not be able to change the world, but my God can.

I hope you'll read the article. I found it super interesting.

Lets Talk About Sex


Ninjas, or something

It all started with this passage from The Hiding Place:

"It was that the solemn mother-daughter talk promised over the years for this night, the entire sex education which out taciturn society provided, was now not possible."

BUT MISS!!! Are you telling us that girls didn't get the sex talk until the night before they were married?!

Why yes, yes that is what I'm saying.
My tenth grade class sat there, stunned.

Miss, I got that talk in the fourth grade.


This remark turned in to an hour long discussion on sex, dating, marriage, and relationships. And I didn't stop it. They were so engaged and interested in what I thought and what the Bible said about these topics. It was truly one of the best conversations we have had. Even though it wasn't on topic of the book, it was an encouraging conversation to have with these girls.


"Miss, why did you decide to wait?"


My class has known for a while that I was saving myself for marriage. I wear my "true love waits" ring every day, so they had asked me what it meant and I simply said that I was waiting until I got married to have sex. I was glad when this question came up because it gave me a chance to tell my story.

I don't recall ever getting "the sex talk" from my parents. I do remember getting it at school. "Sex is bad!" What an inaccurate way of explaining sex! That statement molded my view of sex from that point on. Not only did I want nothing to do with it, but I was TERRIFIED of it. No one ever told me how much of a gift from God it was. It was much later in life that I finally realized that sex is NOT bad. Outside of marriage, it is a sin and there are consequences, but inside of a God ordained marriage, it is a blessing! Even today, I have to wrap my brain around that. I have to put aside the thought that sex is bad, and remember that it is such a wonderful thing IF it is inside a marriage.

I wanted to pour truth into these girls, and I could see that so many of them had questions on the topic. I had them write questions down, and one girl said she had no idea that sex outside of marriage was a sin. I was thanking God that at least one girl heard the truth.

Then it moved to dating. I really don't like to talk about dating often because I have been so scarred by it. They wanted to know everything I thought about the topic, so I was asking God to give me the words to say to these girls. They knew a little bit about my past with boys, but they were asking in depth questions.

But Miss, I REALLY like him, but he is a player. My response: RUN. Don't even think twice about it because you'll probably end up getting hurt.

What if your parents don't want you to date? Obey. The Bible children, obey your parents. Chances are, they know what is best for you, and know that dating in the tenth grade often leads to heartbreak.

What if he asks you to sneak out to see him? Oh no. Don't do it! If he wants you to break your parents trust, then he is not worth your time.

We started talking about qualities that we liked in a guy. They were rattling off "nice eyes" and "great smile." I was giggling, and all of the sudden they said "MISS! What the the top five qualities that you won't compromise in a guy?" That question is often so difficult for me because I tend to be extremely picky when it comes to guys I date. But I tried, and here is what came out.

1. Man of God who loves God more than he will ever love me and strives for a relationship to grow in Christ.
2. A servant who always wants to help the people we are surrounded with and others around the world.
3. Attractive, because you just can't have a relationship if you aren't attracted to the person.
4. Adventurous and always wants to explore and find new things to do.
5. Intelligent, but not overly intelligent to where I feel stupid.

They giggled at some, but understood every single one of the things I was saying. We talked about building your relationship on the foundation of Christ, because without Him in the relationship, it is doomed. Relationships are incredible difficult, but 10 times harder if Christ is not the center of it.

I may never know if anything I said affected a single person, but God was definitely working in several of their hearts. I had them write down the things they learned and the questions they still had. I know God is stirring in their hearts and I'm excited to see where they go from here.

I know that I don't have many answers when it comes to dating and marriage and sex, but God spoke through me and allowed me to communicate His truths. After that class period, I was looking back at the people I chose to date in my past. I wish I would've listened to my own advice in college.

These girls mean so much to me, and I was so excited that I got to share a little piece of how God healed my heart with them.


My wonderful tenth grade class

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Washin' Feet

This Friday is my last meeting with my discipleship group. We have had so many ups and downs during our time together. We have prayed together, laughed together, and grown together. One of the hardest parts about leaving is leaving these precious girls.

We have studied many different passages, learned what it means to be “uncommon”, and talked about our futures. We have dealt with attitudes, family problems, and health issues.

Last week was the best time that we have had the entire year. I wanted to do something really special that they would remember for a long time. I wanted to share Christ’s love for his disciples, and turn that into my love for them. I also wanted to encourage them and serve them.

During lunch, I came up to my apartment and set up the room. I lit candles, put the Bible on the table, a filled a basin with water.

I got the girls and brought them upstairs. I told them that before they go in, to leave their socks and shoes outside of the door. I think several of them suspected something, but for the most part, they had no idea. We sat in a circle and I read the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet. I told them that I wasn’t coming back next year, but I wanted them to know that they will always hold a special place in my heart. I wanted to serve them, and let them know exactly what they meant to me.

I started with one of the sophomore girls, then moved around the circle until I had washed each girls feet. Three of them cried, and in my heart, I was breaking down as I was telling them what they meant to me. It was such a special experience for all of us. I finished reading the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet, then said a special prayer over them.



I was praying so much for God to move in just one of the girls’ lives. I may never know what He did in their hearts, but he broke down barriers and moved us closer as a group. God really showed up and moved in my heart during that time.

I’m sad to leave them, but I know that God is going to continue to work in each of their lives. I, for one, am so excited to see what they are going to be doing in the months and years to come.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I Have A Home!

It is now official. I have a place to live when I get home!

My awesome friend Michelle, who visited me here in Haiti, moved to Nashville and bought the cutest little townhouse. I am so excited to be rooming with her, and can't wait until all of the fun and crazy times we will have together.

I have been a bit stressed about coming home. It is going to be a huge transition, but this is an incredible blessing. Now I just need to figure out job situation. I applied to Libscomb University for a Masters in Education. I will go for an interview when I get home. I'm hoping to be admitted and start the road to becoming a certified teacher.



Michelle and I when she visited!

Monday, April 25, 2011

My B-E-A-utiful Apartment!

I was just looking through my old blogs and realized that I never updated pictures of my apartment once I got a bed!

I was on an air mattress for about a month, but when they got me a bed, they GOT ME A BED! It is awesome AND comfortable. Thanks to decorations from my friends Michelle and Jenny, my room no longer looks like a prison, but more like a home. I actually LOVE staying in here and reading or watching movies! Here are the pics.


My very own BED!!!! Isn't is beautiful!

Cute wall decorations, courtesy of Jenny C!

Cute orange bulletin board from Michelle!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sports Day 2011

Today was family sports day at Quisqueya. This is a day where families can come to the school and hang out and play various activities. It started at nine, but of course, I had to be fashionably late. I strolled down at 9:15 and went over to the basketball courts.

The high schoolers were playing the game that I knew of as "gotcha", but they call it knockout, or bump. Now I LOVE basketball, but when you put one in my hands, it is nothing less than comical. After they played a few games, they roped me in to playing with them. I think they just wanted an easy target to get out.



If you can't tell, the boy is shooting with one arm. He won. Crazy!

Shockingly, I got second place in my very first game. I am definitely not good at basketball in any way, shape, or form, but I held my own. One of my junior students finally got me out, but we played a hard game. From that point on, another student (who I had to give detention to) decided to make it his mission to get behind me every single time and get me out as quick as possible. He did. From that point on, I didn't really make it past the second round. It was still a lot of fun.

We all ventured to the field and played several games for all levels. There was a tug of war (which I somehow got roped into doing), a hula hoop contest, penalty kick showdown, and then a big soccer game.

It is really awesome to see families interacting with one another. It isn't very often that I get to see the students interacting with their parents, so watching little boys be so proud of their dads when they made a goal, or dads wanting to play games just so make their kids happy was an incredible sight.


One of my sophomores hula hooping. That is talent, right there.

They fed us awesome "ballpark food", meaning hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries. It was so tasty! We played more games, er, I spectated. My fuel had about run out.


I HATE tug of war. I'm the odd ball that does not want to be there.



But I really did try!



I think I could've probably beat him.

I went to watch some of the guys play basketball, when one of my students plopped down right beside me. I could tell that something was bothering her, and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. When I got to the bottom, it was all petty, stupid drama. After talking for an hour, I found my heart aching for her. I flashed back to some of the stupid things I had to face when I was her age. Very similar stories of heartbreak and backstabbing. I prayed for God to give me the words to say to her, and I tried to soothe her. I told her that I faced many of the same things when I was her age. We all have to decide who we are going to be, and be it. I might never know if anything I said got to her, but I know that the Lord was in the conversation.


After the incredible conversation, I played some soccer with a third grader and fifth grader. Soccer is really NOT my sport. I'm terrible at it.

Jaime and I were invited to dinner with The Hendrick's, so we went and ate yummy pasta then played this ridiculous game called "Scum" until late in the evening. I'm happy to tell you that I did not end up being Scum!

It was such a fun-filled packed day, and I was truly blessed through all of it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kidnapped

Imagine being at your comfy home, where you thought no harm could ever come to you. All of the sudden, someone bursts in, robs you, and takes you, all while pointing a gun at you.

Now imagine being a husband, a wife, a child, or a friend of that person. My heart is absolutely broken and torn in half right now.

While I was doing my morning routing at school, a middle schooler came up to me and said, "Kristina, (name removed for safety) was kidnapped last night."

My heart sank.

No other information, just that she was taken.

I met her when I came down for a week long trip in October of 2009. She treated me like I was her own and spoke truth into my life. She is a pastor's wife at a church where I've visited several times.

I taught English to Haitians under her, and she guided me when I realized I had no idea what I was doing.

She gives the best hugs, and always wants to know how I am doing, whether I see her for 5 minutes or 5 hours. She has been like a Haitian mom to me, and one of the downsides of moving to campus is that I no longer get to see her very often.

But now she has been taken. Ripped from her home and taken to a place where we don't know.

My head is scattered. My heart is burning.

I have not once felt unsafe in this country. Tonight, that changes a bit. I never fear that I will be kidnapped. It is extremely rare for an American to be kidnapped, but I never once thought that someone I know, a personal friend, would ever be in danger. Several of my students have had relatives kidnapped, or friends, but her?

All day I tried to push out the thoughts of discouragement and sadness and make it through my seven classes, while continuing to pray for her constantly.

I keep asking God why. Why her? Why now? Will you keep her safe? Will you bring her home? In the midst of all my questions, I only know one thing. I know God is faithful. I know that His will is way bigger than mine, and whatever he does with this situation, He will get glory from it. I won't stop praying for her, for her family, and for all those that she has affected, and I'm asking you to do the same.

I know that God will get glory from this situation, but right now, the vision is foggy. I have faith in my God and trust His decisions WAY over mine.

Please, please, please join me in prayer for this precious woman that I love so so dearly.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tet Kale!

Haitian politics is an extremely frustrating subject. The search for a new President has been going on since November. It is finally nearing the end of the process! Instead of rehashing the entire thing in an extremely long blog, I am going to copy what I wrote down in my journal concerning the election.

April 5, 2011

Around 5 pm last night, the election process in Haiti came to a close… almost. Martelly was announced as Haiti’s next Prezidan. The election process started in November, with about 16 candidates craving the power. We didn’t have school for a couple of days because there were so many reports of fraud. Many of the ballot boxes were “pre-stuffed” with ballots cast for Celestin. Jude Celestin is the current president’s (Rene Preval) son-in-law. Obviously, Preval really wanted Celestin to win, so it made sense that he helped in the cheating process.

Pretty much everyone in Haiti knew ther would be a run-off election between the top two. On December 7, 2010, the CEP (electoral board) announced the results of the elections. Mirlande Manigat (former first lady) – 33%, Jude Celestin – 22.8%, Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly (the people’s favorite) – 21.4%. From those results, Manigat and Celestin would be the top two in the run-off.

Port-au-Prince erupted in anger. People were crowding the streets, burning tires, trash and cars. Martelly and Manigat both challenged the results, and once the challenged results were in, Manigat and Martelly were the two that would face off in the run-off election.

Last week the Haitian’s voted and we all waited eagerly for the results. The results were originally supposed to be last Thursday (March 31), but they delayed it to yesterday.

I was taking quite the long nap when I was jolted awake by loud screams and gunshots (the good kind, of course). I raced outside and all I heard was MARTELLY! I knew exactly what happened. The people had spoken, and Martelly was announced victorious by 67%.

The teachers that live on campus peeked over the wall for about 30 minutes and we heard so many shouts of joy. Many of them were singing. Large herds of people were running down the streets in celebration. Everyone was so happy, and thankfully, they settled down by 8:30 so I could go to the White’s house to watch the Butler/UConn championship game.

There have been reports that the results have been challenged, but I do not think that the results were change. I am still waiting on the date when Martelly will finally be inaugurated as President. Then, and only then, will I finally feel like this process is completely over. My fears of missed days of school will finally subside and the Haitian people will finally get what they deserve… a voice.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Obsessed

I just finished reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. It has taken me an incredible amount of time to read, but I think that God allowed me to finish it at the exact time I needed it. I have been feeling so off lately. Apathy has been my worst enemy. This feeling started about two weeks ago, and I am finally at my wits end with it. Instead of enjoying my last few weeks in Haiti, all I have been looking at is getting home. Throughout the week, I am totally fine. The days go by so quickly, but when the weekend rolls around, I wallow around in my self-pity and feel bad for myself. Instead of doing something about it like reading my Bible and praying, I would watch movies and play on Facebook. I didn’t care what was happening in my heart. I shut it out, saying “I’ll deal with this later.” Later finally caught up with me.

I don’t want to regret my last 8 weeks here. I’ve been on that path. I am in no way miserable being here; I’m just really homesick. I see what my friends are doing and I long to be with them. I love my friends here, I love my students, but my heart is so set on Nashville, and what life will be like once I’m there. I’ve been disobedient to what God is calling me to do. I have not abandoned my faith, but I’ve become a lazy person in all aspects. I’m not being the best anything: best teacher, best friend, best daughter, best sister.

As I was reading the final chapters of Crazy Love, Francis Chan profiles characteristics of the obsessed. I recalled the times in my life when Christ was my all. I remember in High School, facing the torment of other students because I was a “good girl” and a “Bible beater.” I remember in college and being involved in 5 Bible studies a week because I couldn’t get enough of Christ. I recall a few months ago when I was sitting in my room crying out to Christ because He was ALL I had. I look back at Spring Break when incredible friends surrounded me and we had so many great conversations about what God was doing. So many instances have I seen those characteristics in my life. I look in the mirror right now, and all I see is lazy, avoidant, unloving. All of the things I never wanted to be, I have become.

Where did that “obsessed” girl go? I’ve been avoiding conversations about the topic because I was terrified to admit it. Until last night, that is. God has placed some incredible people in my life while I have been here in Haiti, and last night was one of the nights where God used His perfect timing to break me down. One of the teachers was in my apartment until 1:00 this morning and I poured out my heart to her. I told her how unhappy and disappointed I was that I’ve let myself get this far. I have no willpower to even care about the Bible or prayer. I haven’t loved my students like they need.

She was so practical and said “then start doing something. Talking about it will not solve anything. You will wish for these days in Haiti where you can sit around and be lazy, but don’t waste this time.” So profound. Exactly what I needed to hear. I can complain and mope and say I wish I was still that girl, but if I just talk about it, nothing will change.

So I am going to be the girl that I know God wants me to be. I’m done complaining and moping. I’m starting to cry as I write this because it feels so good to say those words. I haven’t wanted to say those words in so long. I’m completely surrendered in every aspect of my life. I will not waste these last weeks.

Ok, Kristina, it’s out there. You’ve said it. But what will change? What are you going to do?

Francic Chan laid out 13 different characteristic of being obsessed.

1. Lovers – I want to love those that have hurt me. I will pray for those who persecute me and don’t understand me. I will give without repayment, whether that be physically or emotionally. I will love those that cannot love me back.

2. Risk Takers – I will not be consumed with my personal safety and comfort, but I will look more to what will advance the Kingdom, whether that involves my pain or not.

3. Friend of All – I will love the poor. I will pray for them. I will help them in any way that I possibly can, whether that be in Haiti or the States.

4. Crazy One – I will stick out. I will not conform to what everyone expects me to be. I will follow Christ, even if that path does not end in wealth of success.

5. The Humble – I will NOT be prideful. I will refuse recognition for anything because I know that it is Christ that is working through me.

6. Servers – I will not look at serving others as a burden, but a pleasure. Not because I have to, but because by serving someone, I can love them.

7. Givers – I will give. I will give financially, emotionally, physically, in any way that I can. I will always see my self as “too fortunate” and help those that I know are in need.

8. Sojourners – I will constantly keep my thoughts heavenward. I will rejoice in what God allows me to do on Earth, but I will keep my focus on what is above.

9. The Engrossed – I will have a passionate love for God above every other thing that I love. I will not allow my family, friends, job, or anything else to become an idol.

10. Unguarded One – I will not mask the ugliness of my sin. I will not hide the struggles I face. I will never be afraid to tell God exactly how I am feeling and what I am going through.

11. The Rooted – I will be fed through the Word of God. I will be more intimate with Him by spending time learning about Him and growing in His Word. I refuse to be distracted by all the messages I face each day.

12. The Dedicated – I will not allow my joy to depend on the circumstances around me. My joy will come from the ultimate joy giver, God alone.

13. Sacrificers – I will be faithful to my Savior no matter the cost. I will thank Him for everything, every day. I will be a child and a friend of God.

I’ve known for a long time that I’m not going to be normal. I’m not going to live a comfortable life in the States and make a lot of money. God did not create me that way. I have a burning passion for Him and I want to focus on being right here, right now. I do want to look to my future and pray that God does His will in my life, but right now, I need to get back to the girl I know I’m supposed to be. That means that I’m spending way less time on Facebook and worrying about what is going on in America, and more time delving into His word and learning more about my incredible Savior. I finally feel that burn and the passion for knowing Him more, and I do not want to be distracted by the things that have distracted me for the past several months.

I have an incredible opportunity. It is right here in front of me. I am not going to waste my final eight weeks. I will have intentional conversations and I will love my God with everything that is inside of me. He has already transformed me so much, and I refuse to be apathetic anymore.

I would love your prayers. This is definitely a process, and I’m not claiming it to be an easy one. I know that God will work in me and I finish out this incredible experience in Haiti. Love you all.

Monday, March 21, 2011

YEC!

I was looking forward to YEC all week during Spring Break. I have never actually gone to YEC, but I know that God has always done huge things at this conference. I was psyched to finally be involved and be refreshed in Him. Most people know that one of my favorite places to eat is Buffalo Wild Wings, so before heading to help out, a couple of friends and I went to BWW to enjoy those delicious wings.

We got there pretty early to "finish setting up", which really means we just hung out until it was time for doors to open. Doors opened and people flooded in. I was on the "greeting team", so I welcomed the kids as they came in the door. It was a lot of fun, primarily because there was a lot of my friends around me doing the same thing. After the first session started, we went downstairs to set up a mission project area called Change This World. They made a presentation that absolutely broke my heart. One of the startling stats they mentioned is that every 3 seconds, a child dies from starvation. What is so sad about this is that starvation is a preventable disease.
"The world produces enough food to feed every human being 2700 calories per day!" Over 1 billion people in the world are undernourished, and change this world is doing something about it.

Change this world schedules events for schools, churches, and individuals who want to help. The school/church raises 12,000 dollars to package 50,000 meals. These meals are then distributed all over the world, including Haiti! 12,000 sounds like a lot of money, but it doesn't require just cold donations. They have a store where you can buy t-shirts, and all of the money that purchased that t-shirt goes to your event. You need at least 150 volunteers on event day, so if all of the volunteers bought a shirt, you've already raised $3,000!

We helped set up the event because several groups throughout the weekend were going to be packaging 50,000 meals. The meals include rice, soy, a dried veggie blend, and chicken flavored vitamin and mineral powder. Once the family receives the meal, they just add boiling water and voila, there is a balanced meal that can save someone's life.

I've always had a heart for the poor, but I really haven't known how to tangibly help. I know several high school students who feel the same way, and Change This World is such a great example to show that you can help. You don't always have to go, sometimes you can package meals.


This shirt from Change This World helps pack 50 meals!


After we finished set-up, and packaged a few meals ourselves, we ate lunch and got ready for the second session. I greeted once again, and this time around, I think I did even better than the first. The night session usually has more people, so we decided to have a little fun with them. We decided to be manikin's then once the group got inside the door we would jump out at them and yell "Welcome to YEC!" I sound like a total dork, but it was A LOT of fun! I was really excited about getting to actually watch the second session. Everyone that saw the first session said it was incredible, so I was excited to see God move this time around. The speaker was Afshin Ziafat. He is a former Muslim, who was disowned from his family for preaching the gospel. He really spoke to students about his experience, and how it paid off for him follow Christ. When we follow Christ, we have to give up a lot, but we gain so much more! It was a fantastic sermon, and when the time came, a bunch of students accepted Christ, and stood up for what they believed in. It reminded me to keep the faith no matter what adversity may come my way, whether it be unbelieving friends, rotten students, or personal attacks on my ministry.



A bunch of friends at the Youth Evangelism Conference
L to R: Patrick, Michael, me, Molly, Adam, Justin, Miranda, Lindsay

That night, the Tennessee Baptist Convention was so wonderful and allowed to stay in a hotel within walking distance of the convention center. I was staying with my friend Krystyne, but I was determined to get some Mike's Ice Cream before going back to Haiti. My favorite flavor is birthday cake! They close at midnight, and it was getting awfully close to that hour, so we literally RAN part of the way. If you know me at all, you probably know that I'm not much of a runner. That night I totally was. I was leading the pack and running my heart out to get to that wonderful birthday cake milkshake. We got there at 11:55 and asked the workers if it was any trouble for us to come in and order. They welcomed us with open arms and I got that delicious dessert I had been wanting.

After gulping my milkshake, we headed to another hotel to visit some friends from Parsons, Tennessee. We are all friends from Super Summer Camp. I never get to see any of those people (probably because I live a plane ride away), so I was extremely excited to visit with them and see how God was blessing them. We stayed for a little while, but after two noise complaints, we decided to jet. We went back to our hotel and all hung out for another 30 minutes or so. We were all zonked, but it's not often that we get to see each other for extended periods of time, so it was worth the tiredness.


A group of us with the Super Summer sign
L to R: Jande, Jamie, Maci, Adam, Jared, Adam, me

Saturday morning we got up early and got ready for another full day. The speaker this time around was Derwin Gray. Derwin used to play professional football, but gave up that life to pursue Christ, and is now a preacher. He is a very emotional speaker, and really affected many of the students with his sermon. He also spoke on giving up everything to pursue Christ. I really related to both speaker's messages and was convicted once again that I need to give up EVERYTHING and pursue Christ with all that I have.

We ate lunch. I greeted again. I definitely think I should persue greeting. Wal-mart won't know what him 'em when I step in the spot! It was a beautiful day outside so we layed around outside and talked with strangers. I really enjoyed my time just relaxing and enjoying the weather. After all the sessions were finished and we packed up what we could, the TBC was gracious enough to take us to Pie in the Sky pizzeria. I really enjoyed the greasy mess of pizza and the fellowship with all of the workers.

After eating we headed out to laser quest for a fun night. I am TERRIBLE, and I mean TERRIBLE. But I still had a wonderful time. We arranged a "girls alliance" and we tried to dominate. We failed. We were all terrible every time. But that's half of the fun.

I said my almost tearful goodbye to the friends I love so dearly and headed home to back for my last round in Haiti. I was eager to get back, but I haven't had such a hard time saying good-bye as I did this time.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's Coming To A Close

Spring Break, that is.

Thursday I got to see one of my very best friends, Brittany Carter. Since she is a big girl, and has a big girl job, we squeezed in a lunch date to catch up on life. It's so encouraging to see how the Lord is working in her and her husband's lives. They are very involved in their church, and God is completely blessing their marriage for being faithful. I'm excited for the day when I can fully invest in their lives and hopefully be a blessing to them. We ate at a whole foods, which was a new experience for me.

Short tangent: Ever since living in Haiti, my views on organic foods and eating "clean" have changed a great deal. I try to eat mostly organic while I'm here, and I have never felt better in my life. I have hardly been sick, except for the amount of bugs that I've ingested, and I just feel wonderful. I know that eating organic costs more, but I really have seen the benefits of it. Not only do I want to eat organic, but I've realized how important it is to truly "go green." I'm really working at jotting down my views and how I want my life to look as far as organic and going green. If you have any advice on how to do either of these things, holler at your girl!

So after lunch I went downtown to help set up things before the youth evangelism conference that was happening that weekend. I got there and automatically got put to work. I visited for a few minutes, then started sorting t-shirts for the several t-shirt tables. I then had the privilege of putting these awesome t-shirts on fake bodies and hanging them up for people to purchase. Sounds super boring, but I got to do this with a bunch of my friends. We made it super fun, and finished surprisingly quick.

As a nice little treat, Kent, the guy who runs YEC/pastor of Hope Fellowship, took some of us to Chili's for dinner. Since I was going to dinner with my family that night, I didn't actually eat, but really loved getting to bond with some of my friends. We had a really wonderful dinner topped off with an amazing molten lava cake. We ordered one normal one and one with peanut butter on the inside. It was probably the best dessert I've had in a long time. The peanut butter one tasted like a melted Reece's Cup! Every time I tried to take a bite, Jared would literally hit my spoon and steal my bite. I would perfectly concoct my bite, then he would jack it. You think I would learn after the first 3 times it happened, but I was convinced that I would get to eat that marvelous piece of cake. I got maybe two bites. But those two bites were fantastic!

I rode with Jared to Chili's, so before he took me back to my car, he, Justin and I went to the bookstore. I didn't really know Justin, so it was fun getting to know him and us all goofing around in the store. While we were walking back to the car, the boys decided last minute to carry me across the pedestrian walkway. We gave a lot of people a lot of laughs because not only were they carrying me, but Justin is somewhere around 6'3" and Jared is probably 5'10". So I was lopsided being carried across a busy intersection, giving everyone a pretty good laugh.

I finally got to my car, and drove to meet my family for my last dinner before I went back. My sister was literally about to pop, and I wanted to see her husband's parents before I came back to Haiti. We went to my favorite Hibachi Japanese place, Kabuto. What I'm about to say might completely shock you! I ate SUSHI! And what is even more surprising is that I LIKED IT! I had a bite of a Tennessee role, which technically is deep fried, but it still tasted wonderful. I had a little gag reflex because I realized that I was eating sushi. But thats not even the start of it. After my sushi tasting adventure, I ATE SHRIMP! And I LOVED IT! I've been missing out on the wonderfulness of these foods, but since living in Haiti, I've branched out and started eating so much more of a variety. It was so good to sit around and talk to my very preggo sister, her husband and his family. I really do love my family, and I'm thankful for every time I get to see them.



Family Dinner

My next blog is going to be my favorite one. I can't wait to share with you what God did at the Youth Evangelism Conference!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wednesday, Wednesday

After taking the GRE and being absolutely elated, I headed to Smryna to have coffee with my good friend Jared. I have known Jared for several years, but we have just now gotten closer through this year. I knew that God was doing amazing things in his life, and I was really excited to talk to him about all of it. We talked for a couple of hours about all of the wonderful things happening in his life, along with the church his family has planted, Hope Fellowship. I'm really thankful that God has put people like him in my life to encourage me and remind me that He is in control, not me.

After grabbing coffee with Jared, I raced to Green Hills to have dinner with a college friend, Kaitlin. I saw Kaitlin at Christmastime, but wasn't able to really sit down with her, so I wanted to make sure we got to sit and have a good conversation. She told me all about her new job and other new things that were happening in her life. We even talked about the possibility of living together at some point if our paths crossed. She is such a great encouragement, and I really enjoyed just hanging out with her.

Wednesday night, I surprised the youth at Inglewood by showing up. I was a little late, but it was so awesome to worship with that group of kids. I really miss being there for their lives. I think the hardest part is getting a text message from a girl that I've mentored for 5 years saying, "you've missed so much." My heart totally broke for her because I know that she is going through so much and I'm not there to be with her. I know that she understands what I'm doing here, but it is still so hard to know that she has a lot going on and I'm missing a lot. She also informed me that I'm missing her graduation, and I think she was upset, but she will understand at some point.

After church, I had dinner with my pastor and his wife and kids. I really love their encouragement and words of wisdom they lay over me every time we meet. I'm really excited about what God is doing in their lives, and I'm so thankful for their support of my ministry.

Wednesday was super jam packed, but I loved every second of it. God was truly blessing me throughout this trip, and I'm so thankful for all of the incredible people he put in my life to be with me.

More later :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A New Sister in Christ

Today has been such a wonderful day. Physically, I feel like crap. I have some form of a head cold that will NOT go away. Lots of coughing and random hiccups. In spite of all of that, it has still been an amazing day!

"Now Kristina, what part of that is amazing?" A precious seventh grader who I have spent a whole lot of time with accepted Christ today! We had chapel this morning, and the message was fantastic. The speaker talked about knowing about Christ, but never realizing LOVING Christ.

She ran up to me after chapel and said "I need to tell you something! I just accepted Christ! I'm a Christian!" She started crying, and I knew that something had transformed in her heart. God finally got through to her and she began to understand loving Christ, not just going through the motions of being a good person.

I hugged her and told her I was so excited for her. She has had so many seeds planted in her life from various people, and it is so exciting to see her finally wanting to walk in his ways.

Pray with me for her. I don't want to say her name because she hasn't quite had time to tell her family, but she has the potential to be an incredible woman of Christ. Let's bathe her in prayer as she starts this new walk.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More Spring Break goodness

Monday of spring break I ate at Pei Wei, one of my favorite oriental places, with one of my best friends from high school, Aubrey. Aubrey and I had lost touch for a while, but we have recently started e-mailing and have rekindled our friendship. She is getting married in October and has asked me to be a part of that, and I am so excited. I can definitely see God working in her life, and I am so excited for our new friendship to continue growing. Aubrey and I in high school

Monday I also studied for the GRE. Well, I say study, but I really mean, look at the book, close my eyes, get distracted, look back at the book. It was really challenging for me to even have the motivation to study, but I did the best I could. Monday night, Adam and I decided to go to Margaritaville for some yummy dinner. It was good for just the two of us to hang out and talk and eat some extremely delicious food. It was my first trip to the restaurant in Nashville, and it was definitely worth it. I savored every bite and enjoyed the company of one of my best friends.

Adam and I

Tuesday rolled around and the pressure was on for me to study for the GRE. I have always had really bad test anxiety, and this day my stomach was in my throat. I was terrified of failure, so I spent most of the day trying to cram in as much information as possible. I knew I was going out to dinner that night, so I studied as much as I could before getting ready to eat with an old friend. All of the mathmatic equations were becoming jumbled in my head, but I tried to be as prepared as possible. I really wanted to relax that night and not think about anything, and that was an absolute answer to prayer. I met Nathan my freshman year of college at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry. We became friends in Chicago while we were serving on a mission trip there. We had lost touch after he graduated college, but decided to meet up and talk about life. We went to California Pizza Kitchen and ate some delicious pizza while telling each other about of journey of life. It was really wonderful to see how God was using him. Nathan and I in Chicago

Wednesday was the big day. I had studied as much as possible, and now it was go time. I left really early to get to my test, fearful of being late. They let me start my test a little early after filling out a lot of paperwork that said I would not cheat. I was expected to be at the testing center for 4.5 hours, but I decided to take no breaks and finish a little earlier. Surprisingly, it only took me about 3 hours to complete. As I was going through the questions, I really thought I had not done well. I knew that I needed an 800 to get into the grad school I want to attend. I'm closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and waited for my score to appear. 910.
910!!!!!!!!! That is the happiest news I could ever have gotten, well at least that day. I skipped out of the building, so proud of the score I had just received. The only way that I would've gotten that score is by God's grace. He is so good to me all the time, and I feel more affirmed that I am walking in the path He has laid out for me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Oh, the perks of being a teacher..

One of the best perks is that you get SPRING BREAK! I was so excited about spring break this year because it meant not only did I get to go home, but I was able to see God move through the lives of thousands of students at the Youth Evangelism Conference in Nashville. All the pictures I put on here are not from this break. Even though I took my camera almost everywhere I went, I somehow forgot to take a single picture.

I left Haiti at 5 pm on Friday, but a bunch of my students were on my flight, so I wasn't totally out of "teacher-mode" yet. Once we hit Miami, I was exhausted and was just ready to be home. I arrived in Nashville around 11 pm and went straight to Ihop with my mom, the two Adams, and Jared. They really are the cream of the crop when it comes to friends.

The Adam's and Jared when I came back in December!

Saturday I slept in late, and watched tons of Glee! I have missed watching that show, and it was really the only one that I wanted to see (you can go ahead and bash me for watching stupid tv shows, it's ok). I took one of the longest, hottest showers of my life and really rejoiced in the fact that I was sleeping on a real bed. The littlest things remind me so much of God's love for me. After being lazy and enjoying the luxuries of life, I got ready and went over to visit one of my best friends, Kellye. We had already decided to hit the town that night, but I wanted to spend some time with her before we were surrounded by tons of people. We ended up going to eat with my friends Michelle and Whitney, then we headed downtown for my favorite ice cream on the planet. We then went to see a local band play where a couple of other friends met up with us. I felt like I was truly living the "Nashville life" that night, being surrounded by southern accents and country music.
Kellye and I at her bachelorette party!

Michelle and I when she visited Haiti in February

Sunday morning I decided to go to a new church, Hope Fellowship. They have only been meeting for three Sundays, but I had been attending their home study meetings in the Summer. I really wanted to see how God was working in this church, and I can tell you that He is! I'm so excited for all the exciting things that are happening in this life of this church, and I'm even more excited that I get to see it happen! I was put on the spot to share a little about Haiti. I was so nervous, but really just asked God to speak through me and put something on my heart to share that might allow them to see a little bit of what He's doing here. It's so hard to summarize Haiti in any length. It would take me days upon days to truly explain everything that is Haiti. The sermon was fantastic, and the community there was so wonderful. I truly felt that these people that didn't even really know me, loved me, and that was the best feeling in the world.

Sunday afternoon I wanted to spend some time with my sister. I can't remember if I have mentioned this on the blog, but I am going to be an aunt, so I wanted to spend some time with her before the big day. I was praying that it would happen, while I was home, but instead, she is having little Kailee Ann tomorrow morning in a scheduled c-section. We went to lunch at Olive Garden and just sat around and talked for the rest of the day. It was great to hear her thoughts and tell her a little bit about Haiti. I miss getting to see her all the time and talking to her about anything and everything.

My sister, me, and her husband at dinner

Sunday night we decided to have an impromptu game night. There ended up being a lot of people there (several who I didn't know), but it ended up being one of my favorite nights. We played signs (my absolute FAVORITE, mafia, and killer). I loved spending time with people my age and not having to be a responsible adult at that moment. I love being all grown up, but I needed to let loose and not be in "teacher mode" for a few days.

I'm going to space out my week at home because I don't want you to get bored with a ten page blog. I want to share with you all the cool things God showed me this week so I'll continue this crazy story tomorrow.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Homesick in Haiti

Today I am feeling homesick. I know that in 6 short days, I will be back in Nashville, but today just sucks.

Today was my sister's baby shower. Not only have I missed pretty much her entire pregnancy, but I missed the shower today. I was supposed to be skyped in to the shower, but I haven't heard from anyone in the family today. Every ounce of me wishes I could just teleport myself to Nashville to be there for this occasion.

I know that what I'm doing here is what I am supposed to be doing, but right now, I am just wishing I could share in this occasion.


Isn't she the cutest little pregnant lady ever! At least I will get to meet Kailee while I'm home next week!

I whole heartedly believe that I'm in Haiti for a reason and God is doing awesome things. Even though I wish that I could be there with her, I'm excited for this week before Spring Break to pour into my students and be the best teacher and mentor that I can be.

Until next time...