February. It's just as hard to type the word as it is to say it out loud. January started and ended before we even knew what was happening. It's almost hard to believe how busy the past month actually was. Our three student teachers left the last week in January, and it was with some very mixed emotions. We haven't had any teams to the compound since the summer [because of elections that were supposed to happen in December but never did], so having girls around our age to talk to and live with and work with for a month was a huge, huge, blessing. In January, our Mission Haiti Board also visited, and prior to this trip we had not even had the chance to meet our Board since moving to Haiti. It was so great to be able to put names to faces and connect with them.
If I had to sum up January in a few words it would be: school, school, school, sports camps, broken buses and weekend beach trips. School has been super busy, and as all of our teacher friends will know, January to April-ish is push-time. Our students have been exposed to 5 months of English now, and we're trying to cram as much into their heads as we can. Once you get into May, students go downhill, and downhill fast. We're also trying to think ahead to our next report card period, which is coming up in March. The beginning of January was also fun because our bus broke down. Probably 94% of our students rely on the bus to get to school, and so we had to pick up and drop off the students in our Mission Haiti dump truck. Yes, a dump truck. You know you live in Haiti when...
Life has slowly returned to normal after the busyness of last month- normal school routines, normal after school routines, and normal weekend routines. It's good- Kristen and I really needed a break before more short-term teams start arriving in a couple of weeks. We've also started after-school tutoring on Wednesdays and Thursdays for students who need extra help and are below grade-level. Wednesdays are for French and Thursdays are for English. The first week we started, some of the kids absolutely howled like we were keeping them for torture [and some still do]. So I started calling it "game time" at dismissal, and now the whole class wants to stay [and no, I don't consider that deception, exactly]. I would say our biggest focus right now has been Language Development first, and Math second. We've been reading a lot of English books to our classes, and the kids are so enraptured by books that I don't think even an explosion would break their focus. They LOVE books. I'm sure they've never had books to look at in their life. Their favourite lately has been The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, and we made some caterpillar and butterfly puppets with googley eyes. Oh, how they love googley eyes.
Carnival is this week, so we have Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off of school. Can anyone say 5-day weekend?! We are so super, duper pumped because we really needed a break. School had been kind of rough lately, and Kristen and I are feeling drained physically, emotionally and mentally. The point of our school is to be radically different from all the other schools in Haiti- to create a completely different school culture filled with Jesus and respect and learning and self-control and love. Let me tell you, it's hard being a culture-changer. We feel like we're hitting a cement wall right now. But if there's one thing I've learned from my teaching job last year, it's that the school year is like a roller-coaster ride... ups and downs, and ups and downs. So we are just praying that this is one of those downs that is eventually going to turn into an up. We continue to ask for your faithful prayers as we try to do our best to teach these precious kiddos, because in all honesty, Kindergarten is EXHAUSTING. Between tantrums, and sicknesses that work their way through the whole school, and shoes that come untied then thousand times a day, and little hands that yank on your clothes, and feet that trample your toes and erasers and crayons disappearing because kids are eating them and every student tattling in Creole 5-10 times a day... it's kind of a miracle that we're still sane.
Enough about school, though. We have an exciting update. Kristen and I have decided that we are going to stay in Haiti for another year for the 2016-2017 school year. It was a surprisingly easy decision- no stress, no sleepless nights. We know that this is where God wants us, we know in our hearts that His work for us in Haiti isn't finished yet, and so we're trusting in His sovereignty because we're only half-way through this school year. Haiti has become home, and the people have become our family, and it's nice to know we won't be saying good-bye anytime soon.
I also realize that we haven't updated our prayer section in a really, really long time. So here's a quick list:
- health and safety for Kristen and I
- health for our students as it's cold and flu season in Haiti right now and all of our students are sick
- endurance to push through this tough time at school
- a close relationship for Kristen and I to continue, as we are each other's only source of encouragement and friendship [aside from Bethany] right now
Sending love from Haiti!
PS. We actually got to watch the Superbowl on the weekend. We took our Internet stick to our Coffee Shop Ministry Center, set up a table and chairs, and ate sausages, pasta salad and Oreos under the starts while we watched Denver win. Sometimes life here is pretty okay. :)