I am writing this post in shame because it's been three months since we've written any type of update, and now so much life has happened that I feel it's almost impossible to catch you all up on it. In spite of that, I will do my best to give you a glimpse of what our lives have looked like for the past little while.
February and March were a blur of short-term mission teams. Life was busier for Kristen and I than we anticipated because Bethany had to return to the States to finish out her pregnancy because of the Zika virus. That left Paul, Kristen and I to hold down the fort here- and also meant Kristen and I stepping into the gap to take over the work that Bethany would have done with the short term teams here. I know a lot of people have their opinions about short-term mission teams and whether or not they do more harm than good. But as I've mentioned in other blog posts, if there's one thing we miss greatly here, it's the fellowship and community with other believers [who speak our language]. These teams have fed us emotionally and spiritually, and given us the "oomph" we needed to keep on keeping on down here. In a strange sort of way, having these people down here has also given us a different perspective on our lives down here and the work that we're doing. It's really, really hard to explain missionary life to those who haven't lived it, but it's really easy to feel burned out and lack insight into the difference your work is making. So to have people come down and affirm that God is using you to make a difference that they can tangibly see is a huge, huge deal. Short-term teams make a big difference for long-term missionaries that live here. They're the encouragement we need, and the voice our ministry needs to keep and gain support.
Kristen and I had Spring break at the end of March, but we opted not to travel home to Canada for two reasons: number 1, there was a short-term team of high school students coming and we wanted to be able to experience a short-term team without having to teach at school at the same time and we hadn't had a younger team come yet since we had moved here, and number 2, we were going to be travelling to the States at the beginning of April anyway.
That brings me to our next adventure. Kristen and I had the honour of travelling to Sioux Falls, South Dakota where Mission Haiti is based out of in the States at the beginning of April to attend a fundraising dinner and dessert auction to raise support for the ministry. We were particularly excited for this for a multitude of reasons: we were intensely craving American food, wanted to get out of skirts for a week and wear a pair of jeans, we wanted to be able to speak English and have someone understand and speak fluent English back to us, and we wanted to be able to meet the huge community of people that make Mission Haiti happen. We both had to make a speech, and contrary to popular belief, giving a speech is ten thousand times more nerve-wracking than teaching a class of students.
Right now, our major focus is finishing out the school year well. We're also planning our Kindergarten graduation party, so things have been busy, busy, busy. We've both been feeling some pressure lately to push our students in English because they're at grade-level in French but below grade-level in English in some areas simply because Creole is so similar to French that they had a huge advantage going into the school year. For the past month and a half I've been trying to teach my students to read in English, and that was a challenge in and of itself. But some of them are starting to read and apply strategies by themselves to figure out words, and it's just the most exciting glimpse of the opportunities that our school is going to open up for these students when they finish school.
In other news, Paul and Bethany are both in the States right now [awaiting the birth of their daughter as I type this], leaving Kristen and I to fend for ourselves here at the compound. It's so strange being here by ourselves, yet at the same time so normal- just like ordinary life. Yesterday we went to the basketball court to watch a game [which is right beside the ocean], and it hit me again as I was watching the sailboats head out to sea, and the kids running around without shoes on that I'm really truly living on a tropical island doing exactly what I had always dreamed of doing. I'm so thankful for those out-of-the-blue moments that remind me of where I am and why I'm doing what I'm doing.
This is getting a little too long already, but I want to close with one horror story to make you glad you work where you work. A month or two ago as I was teaching, my class went into an uproar because there was a humongous rat running along the top wall of my classroom up by the roof. It disappeared and I hadn't seen it for a couple of months. Well, the other week when it was raining outside, the rat showed up and was sitting at the top of the wall again. It was right above where I was standing to teach and I was praying that it wouldn't fall on me. Well, low and behold, it decided to die and fell literally 3 inches from my head. I hate to admit that I ran screaming out of the class, and then realized I had left my class behind to fend for themselves. When I went back in, my Haitian co-teacher Angely was standing with her foot on the rat's head in case it wasn't actually dead. Then she wrapped her hand in Kleenex, picked the rat up by the tail, and threw it over the wall of the school property. So nasty. If it would have fallen on my head I would have ran home and had the longest shower of my life.
Our school finishes at the end of June, and then Kristen and I will be heading home to spend the month of July back in Canada. Thanks to everyone for being patient with our lack of updates!
Sending Haitian love!