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!