Sunday, January 23, 2011

My New Apartment!

As I mentioned before, I moved! I'm now living on the school's campus! Goodbye waking up at 5:00 am, hello 6:30! I also get to hang out with the other teachers more often. Friday night I went with a group to Chez Wou, the Haitian-Chinese restaurant. Saturday I went to the beach and marveled at God's creation. The tan didn't hurt either. I'm really enjoying being on campus and sleeping in and hanging out with friends.

So when you see these pictures of my new place, just know that I am so excited to be living here. Although it looks like a prison cell and isn't decorated at all, I am still enjoying every bit of it. So before you say "gross" or "ew! What are you thinking?" just know that I know it has a lot of fixing up to do, but getting to be with friends is worth it.

Kitchen Area

My Bedroom Without The Bed

Bathroom sink with nice hole in the wall. The toilet is around that corner, and the shower is just to the right.

The Living Room

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Movin' On Up!

I'm FINALLY moving tomorrow!! I found out right before I left that I would be moving onto the school's campus. I've been back for almost 3 weeks, and I am just now finally getting to move, and boy am I excited!

1) I get to hang out with this girl more often.
And her hubby, and the Hendricks and the Kilpatricks and all the other fun people that live on campus. I'm so excited to be surrounded by people that are dealing with a lot of the same things that I am dealing with. First year teaching in a foreign country where you know hardly anyone. I can't wait to share in our experiences as we go through this journey together.

2) I no longer have to spend up to 3 hours per day in a car. Make that a bumpy car. Today on the ride home I was thinking that the car ride very much seems like an uncomfortable roller coaster, except there is no fun drop to get your adrenaline going. You only get the uncomfortable bouncing around.

3) More time to build relationships with students. Since I will live a mere 50 steps away from my classroom, I won't have to worry about rushing to get home, or keeping the driver waiting while I finish a conversation. Better relationships means hopefully more opportunities to share the gospel, which I am STOKED about!

I'm sure there are other reasons, but my head is clouded with excitement of finally being there.

In other news: Yesterday I posted about hoping for a smile from ear to ear on my "how do I feel picture of the day." I'm not going say anything about it, I'm just going to post it and you can see for yourself.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This is why I love my job!

Some days I wonder why I am a teacher. I feel as if I am not reaching any students and really wonder if my ministry is worth while.

Then I have days like yesterday. I have been so sick lately, and my classes have not been too exciting. I still tutor after school, so yesterday, I was helping a student with some homework, but the conversation was turned quickly. There were two students in the lab, Adam and George (names have been changed). Adam is one of my students and I simply asked him, "How's life." He began to tell me how he was not happy and how he wanted to go back to Miami and go to school there. George chimed in and also told me how Miami was the "best time of his life." I was so curious as to why Miami was all that, and George replied... I was popular and I could get any girl I wanted.

I stopped for a minute. George is 16 and he's already talking about "getting girls." Still curious, I pushed him a little further. "So girl's is what made you so happy in Miami?" I asked. "Of course not Miss, I had football too!" Aha, girls and football. George starts talking about how he is a "playa" and can get any girl he wants. Me, being a female, and having been "played" before, I kept listening, but deep inside wanted to smack him silly for the things he was saying. I asked him why he thought it was ok to be a player. He couldn't really give me an answer.

The conversation kept going. Adam said he was more of a "one woman man" (sweet George Jones song, right?!) and he was still a virgin. George kinda rolled his eyes. He explained sex to me in this way... It's like ice cream, you can't just try vanilla and say that vanilla is your favorite, you have to try chocolate, strawberry, and all the other kinds before you can decide what your favorite is. This led to a whole other discussion. I simply asked him if he would marry a girl that had slept with a bunch of different guys because she was "trying out flavors." He automatically replied, "of course not!" So there I sat, dumbfounded. He is allowed to "try out flavors", but won't go near a girl that has had sex.

So I pushed further. I wasn't sure where either of these boys stood religiously, but they both responded that they were "Christian." I asked where that fit into the dating scene. Both replied that it really didn't. We continued talking, but I had this huge tug deep inside of me to share the gospel and tell them of God's grace. All I needed was an opportunity.

As we were talking, his viewpoint started to change. After telling them a little about my dating history, and telling George he needed to respect women and not just "play" them, his attitude started to change. He almost felt remorse for already having "messed up." Ding ding ding!!! Perfect opportunity! God really laid on my heart to tell George God's truth's. I told him about God's grace and that even when we mess up, He still loves us and he washes away all the sin so that we can start anew. He still loves us, regardless of what we have done. He won't forsake us or leave us. George's eyes lit up and it was almost like he had never heard it before. He looked me dead in the eye and said, I can't promise, but I want to do better. I want to try to wait to have sex until I get married.

This is why I know that I'm here for a reason. God gave me that opportunity to share His truths and one students eyes were opened. I don't know how God will grow this young man, but I know that a seed was planted in his heart. I'm going to have more conversations with this young man and try to really hold him accountable to what he said to me.

Whoever says that rich kids don't need ministering to was wrong. These kids need Jesus and to know God's truths just as much as the orphans. God has given me such a unique position to minister to the kids that will have power in this country, and even though the conversation started off about how "playas are gon' play" God still allowed His truth's to be shown, and that is something that I will always remember.

News on my sickness:

My fever came back yesterday, but I have had no fever today. As the day went on, I felt better and better. I'm hoping tomorrow I feel like a brand new woman. Here is my picture progression of how I've felt the past two days.

Yesterday, when my fever had returned. Who wears a sweatshirt in 90 degree weather?!

Today: a little better, but still not feeling great.

Hopefully tomorrow's picture will be of me smiling ear to ear with no symptoms at all. Hey, a girl can dream!


Saturday, January 15, 2011

This is my complaining blog

Today I am sick. Yesterday I was sick. The day before that, you guessed it.. I was sick. I have had a fever for three days. It's really strange being in 90 degree weather, yet feeling like a Popsicle.

Yesterday at school was one of those days when I really didn't feel like teaching. I just wanted to lay my head down and cry because I felt so terrible. I was feverish, had a really bad headache, and my tummy was even hurting. Along with a deep dough, I felt awful. Luckily at school, it was in class worksheet day. I simply gave them the worksheet, then if they had questions, they could come and ask me. It was a rough teaching day.

When I got home I immediately went to bed. I put in a movie and slept off and on until 7 this morning. My fever has gone down, but I still feel as if I was hit by a bus. My whole body aches. Every part of me wishes someone was here to take care of me. To make me food and care for me. That part of growing up stinks.

Mix feeling bad with a couple of rambunctious kids and you have what I have right now. A monstrous fever, while trying to keep tabs on a 4 year old that doesn't speak English.

Plus I look like this..

Thanks for reading my complaints. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a much better day.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Google Translate is Saving My Life

My head and my heart are so full right now. Pardon me if this post is a bit all over the place, but I really need to express what is going on right now.

I know Haiti is hard. My last four months here helped me learn that, but now I feel as if I am in a place that I can't even begin to explain. But I want to try. I know that when I make it through this, God is going to get so much glory.

Things in Haiti started off perfectly. I got back to school and started to teach. I came in feeling way more confident than I did last semester. The kids were more attentive, and really seemed excited about starting the semester. I found out that I wouldn't get to move to campus for at least a week, but I was excited about that opportunity and I began preparing myself for when I was to move in.

Things were going just how I liked them. Easy. But easy is not how God has intended me to live. God likes to throw wrenches in my path. Wrench #1: Melissa Hope. Wrench #2: a full-time teaching job.

I guess I was delusional, but I thought that God would make this time around 10x easier. But I know that with hard times, God is going to get more glory that what I can even imagine. I am praising Him for putting me here and for giving me the opportunity to serve so many kids.

So that's where I come to now. This is going to be an emotional week because today is the 1 year anniversary of the January 12th earthquake. Many of my students lost parents, loved ones, and all their belongings. We had a memorial service at school yesterday where many students were weeping over lost friends, neighbors, and family members. I can't imagine what these kids have seen and heard. I remember hearing on the news about the country that stole my heart. Living here has given me a new perspective on a lot of things, including loss. My heart is so heavy for the Haitian people.

My heart is heavy for my family. My great uncle, Doyle, passed away on Sunday morning. If you have known me for any amount of time, you know that death is no friend of mine. I can't even explain how much death I have encountered in my life, and it has made any death encounter so much harder for me. I really miss uncle Doyle. I remember so much about him from when I was younger. The main thing I keep remembering is what he said to me over Christmas break. I begged and begged my parents for us to find just a few minutes to go see him. He had congestive heart failure and has been sick for a long time, so I wanted to take every chance I got to see him and tell him I love him. I didn't expect what he said to me. He looked at me and said that he had his wife read him my blog and he was proud of me and loved hearing about what I was doing. He said he knew God was working in the lives of many. What a great encouragement! I never would have thought that he would've read my blog. My heart was so full and I was so excited that I he said those things to me.

The day after I got back in Haiti, I received word that he wasn't doing too well. A few days after that my mom prepared me by saying that this may be it. Hospice had moved into his house and they weren't expecting him to live much longer. I prayed and prayed and prayed, but my prayers were different than most times. I was praying for God's will. I didn't pray that he would be spared, I didn't pray that he would live a much longer life. I simply prayed that whatever would bring God the most glory would be done. As much as I wanted him to live, I knew that God was in the center of it and that if he left, he would be in Heaven with our father.

As much as I prayed that, when Sunday morning came around and I found out he passed, my heart was broken. I wanted to be with family. I wanted to hug my aunts and uncles and especially my grandmother. I wept, I cried, I called my mom, but after all my tears were drained, I simply had to say, It is well with my soul. There has been something comforting about being here while this is happening. I feel like God is truly in my presence and I am trusting him to get me through these difficult times.

The Haitian government is in a state of turmoil. The election process is one that I cannot even understand. There is so much hear-say in Haiti that it is hard to tell what is real and what is not. There have been a lot of reports saying things are about to get bad again, but I really have no clue. All I know is that God is in control. My heart is heavy for the Haitian government.

Imagine this: a small, 2 year old boy. Head misshapen from being beat into a wall. Scars all over his body from being hit with different objects. Memories of scrubbing the bathroom floor since he was able to crawl. A fearful face at all times. You've just imagined Junior. Junior is now 4 years old. He has been in an orphanage since he was 3 after being severely beaten my his aunt and other family members. No one knows where the scars came from, or the extent of his abuse. The orphanage he was staying at was an all boys orphanage, and he was the youngest there. There were many older boys staying at the orphanage, and no one really knows how he was treated there. This orphanage is going through a process of trying to get some of the older boys out, and it is possible that the entire operation might be shut down. A lady close to the orphanage and very close to Junior asked us if we would take him in so that he would not be sent back to his aunt. So Saturday evening, we went and picked him up. He speaks absolutely no English and tends to have a hitting problem. This is where google translate is saving my life. He was terrified when he got back to our house. The best place for him to be was in my room on the futon so he could stretch out but still be near someone. After he went to bed I started studying Creole phrases that might come in handy with a four year old. My Creole is now so much better than it was even one week ago. I am starting to communicate better with him and we are doing much better. It's amazing to watch him sleep so peacefully and play so much. It makes me wonder what is going through his brain. He went from being abused to being treated like a prince. I'm so blessed to be a part of this and watch him grow. I'm not a fan of getting up 4 times through the night to take him to the bathroom, but I wouldn't trade it for anything right now. It almost makes me cry when he comes up to me and says "I love you, Kristina." That's the only English phrase he knows and I love hearing it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Going home - the place I no longer belong

I apologize that I haven't blogged since before I left for break. Things were so crazy that week before I went to the States, and once in the States, I was go go go until the day I flew out.

Going home was a bit weird. The minute I flew into Miami, I knew that my heart was not with me any more. I had been warned by so many friends that it might be strange coming back to America after living in a third world country for so long. The injustice is great, and life is so incredibly different. They were right. I felt so wrong being in America. I felt bad that I left the life I had been living and was not amidst a group of people that didn't really care and couldn't understand what I was going through.

I was so excited to see my friends, and the reunion that we had was so great. They understood more of what I was going through than most, but I still felt myself being down. I wanted to come back. I craved teaching. I longed for the Haitian people.

But I made the most of my time at home. The day after I flew in I met with my best friend and her husband for lunch, then made the long trek to Houston, Missouri to visit family. It was a great weekend with family, but all I could think about was what I had seen in Haiti. I didn't have much to talk about unless someone asked me about Haiti. I've never been one to not have much to say, but I found myself at a loss for words. I wanted to explain everything God was doing, and how awesome my time was, and how I struggled hard, but was pulled through by God's grace... but I didn't get that chance. I was still processing my head and my heart, and silence became a good friend of mine.

I got to see old friends, slightly newer friends, and everyone I could pack in to two weeks. I have never felt so encouraged and loved that I do right now.

A few of my favorite visits..

Of course seeing my two best guy friends, the Adams (the tripod), was awesome. They came to the airport with a big sign and flowers. We had so many fun times of eating and playing Wii. They are so awesome, and I can't wait to spend more time with them!

I got to visit with an old friend named Stephen's mom. She has been in my life for so many years and has loved me through it all. She was such a huge encouragement to me and really blessed me with her words. Her youngest son Michael is a little brother to me, so to sit and talk with the family really encouraged me.

I went to Knoxville to see a Vol's basketball game and I saw so many old friends! It was so wonderful to feel like a college student again and be able to sit court side and watch my team! They lost, but it was still wonderful to be in that atmosphere once again.

As much fun as I had with those friends, it doesn't take away the fact that my heart is in this country. I was so ready to be back here and get back to my ministry here with these kids that I love so dearly. I have twice as many students as I did in the fall, so I'm excited about making relationships and getting to know these students.

Thank you so much for your prayers and constant support. They mean more than you know.