After a little vacation and rest away from school, the first week back to school from a vacation is always exhausting. I can say that I missed the kids and I was ready to see them again, but this week was very exhausting and was filled with trying to get back into school routines. Even after a small vacation, it seems like the children forget what routine is, and how to sit with self-control in a classroom. Thankfully by Friday, the kids were finally realizing that they were in school again.
Before we had our little vacation, where we enjoyed some much needed relaxation time in Florida with Paul's family and friends, we finished our English testing with our students. We have now finished report cards and had our parent meeting this past Tuesday where we discussed one on one with the parents about their child's success. Thankfully, we had a translator with us for our parent meetings and we were able to communicate with the parents exactly what we needed and wanted to say about their child and how they were doing in school. Both mine and Cassie's students are doing amazing in English. Better than we thought they would, and we are learning that small victories are glorious victories. Although it is very encouraging that they are learning English and enjoying it, I am being reminded that it is not just about teaching them English, it is about investing in their lives, taking time to ask them how they are doing, taking time to hug them and love them, taking time to smile and be silly with them, and taking time to make sure they know they are special, and so loved by Our Creator.
While we were in Florida, we enjoyed some time shopping for jeans, which doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but to someone who has been living in skirts for the past 4 months, putting on a pair of jeans feels pretty amazing. We enjoyed wearing our hair down without sweating to death and enjoyed being outside without being eaten by mosquitoes. We enjoyed a lot of American food, which included Chic-Fil-A that we tried for the first time, burgers, pizza, ice cream, and lots of salad. We went to a restaurant, and I decided to order a salad since we don't have the liberty of eating salad here, so I was very excited to have a caesar salad. The waitress came and asked how my salad was, just like every polite and good waitress would do, and I responded with a very exuberant, "IT TASTES AMAZING! THANK YOU SO MUCH!" Little did she know how sincere and truly thankful I was for that salad.
On the second last day of our time in Florida, I noticed that I was getting a little bit of a rash on my face and on my chest. I didn't really think anything of it until the day we arrived back in Haiti. My whole body broke out into a huge rash. We had no idea what it was. We were going through our options of chicken pox, measles, or an allergic reaction. With the limited internet that we have here, we tried to look up symptoms of each and tried to matdt it to how I was feeling. We realized how much we took for granted by having doctors and clinics nearby and readily available to us in Canada. In situation like this, there's really not much we can do except trust that God is our ultimate Healer. Both Cass and I were very scared because we didn't know if it was something very serious or something minor. As I was stuck inside my room praying to the good Lord that He would miraculously heal me, my wonderful sister was contacting family and friends back home trying to figure out what was wrong with me, and speaking loads of creole with people around here to try and help me. The next day, it still didn't go away so we got in contact with a Haitian doctor that worked in the United States for a bit. He came over and looked at what was wrong with me and gave me some medication to help my cause. Cass and I both learned a lot of patience, how to trust God with everything we have, and that God will always be our help in times on trouble. Thank you Jesus for doctors, people with willing hearts to help and for medication. We still don't know exactly what it was, but we are assuming it was an allergic reaction to some type of food.
One of my best friends shared this devotion with me and it seems to best explain where my heart is. The devotion is called "Changed Expectations."
Acts 1:1-11; v.6 "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom of Israel?"
You've been waiting for God to restore your Kingdom. That's probably not how you understand your deepest longings, but that's what they amount to, in a sense. You have desire for fruitful and satisfying work, deep and lasting relationships, peace and purpose in your heart and fulfillment in your vision and dreams. Much of what you do in life is based on realizing these goals. You know deep down that you were built for fulfillment, and you are waiting for God to fulfill. In other words, you are waiting for Him to restore the kingdom you envision. Jesus' answer to you will probably be as indirect as the one He gave the disciples. "It is not for you to know" (v.7), He will say about whatever specifics fill your heart. What we are to know is that He is at work and we are His coworkers. We are to be about His agenda. The Kingdom is in His hands, and our fulfillment will come in its proper time. Meanwhile, by taking our eyes off our own agendas and fixing them on His, we find that He fulfills us anyways. That's almost always the way of Jesus. That's why He told His disciples to "lose" themselves in order to "find" true life. That's how they can carry their cross of death and still truly live. The paradox is consistent throughout Scripture: those who abandon themselves to God find themselves completely embraced. What Kingdom have you been expecting? Whatever is it, stop striving for it. Live instead for the agenda of Jesus' Kingdom. Be His Witness, live in His Spirit, seek His will on earth as it is in Heaven. In abandoning your own idea of the Kingdom for His, you'll find that His includes everything you deeply desired anyway. That may be a long way down the road or that may be soon. Either way, you'll be satisfied. The real Kingdom will be much more fulfilling than you own. Before we can pray "Thy Kingdom come" we must be willing to pray, "My Kingdom go."
For the next week, I encourage you to wake up every morning and before you even get out of bed, to pray this short prayer;"MY KINGDOM GO." We must be eager to pray these dangerous yet powerful prayers, and expect God to move in our lives. I encourage you to put aside your own agenda, your own things that need to be done, and listen to the plans God has for you in this week. Maybe God's agenda will line up with what you had planned, or maybe unimaginable things will happen.
Thank you to everyone who is supporting us through encouragement and prayer. We cannot thank you enough for how you have uplifted our souls and encouraged us on our journey here. Please continue to pray for us and for the mission as a whole.
Sending lots of love from Haiti!