Week 2 of a much-needed vacation is officially commencing. If there's one thing we're realizing, it's that although breaks back at our "Canadian home" are necessary for our own well-being, they're never quite as relaxing as we hope they'll be- simply because everything that we can't do or buy in Haiti gets put on a seemingly never-ending to-do list. Nearly every day last week was filled with appointments and outings, and our minds seem to run with everything that needs to be renewed and updated before we leave again. Top that with family and friends to see, and well, life is busy. A different sort of busy though- we have a break from thinking about school, short-term missions teams that come, and the cares of life that sometimes run you down when you live as a missionary in a poor country.
Before we left Haiti, life was [surprise, surprise] CRAZY busy. We were finishing up report cards, and planning for our year-end party and Kindergarten graduation. I suppose our year-end party is worth a bit of a mention, simply because it marked the end of a school year that we weren't sure we would see the end of some days! It was a testament to the faithfulness of a God who envisioned this school long ago, brought it to fruition, and saw all of us involved to the last day of year one. We wish all of you could have been there to experience what we experienced that day- to see the little kiddos presenting songs and poems in French and English for their parents, and to listen to the gratitude of the parents who can't completely put into words how much our school means to them and how excited they are about the opportunities it's giving their children.
After finishing school, life at the compound was crazy as well. The day after we were scheduled to leave Haiti, a short-term missions team from Minnesota was coming for a week- that meant we had to prep the compound for their arrival before we left, and train our new missionary couple on how to run teams since we'd be gone.
A lot of people have been asking us how our year was. And we always say in unison, "It's the best life, and the hardest life we've ever lived". And that statement truly sums up what it's like to live and teach as a missionary in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. You live the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. We pray we've made a difference this year- sown seeds and showed the people of Haiti the love of Jesus- but we are both changed in ways that will never be undone. We will forever have Haiti tattooed on our hearts. And because we have both changed so much, in some ways it's hard coming home and trying to fit back into a life that no longer fits us. We have grown and changed and stretched too much to fit back into the molds of our former selves. And it's also hard for the people we left behind to understand the changed people they've welcomed back home. Our perspectives have changed, our attitudes have changed, our priorities have changed, and truly our lives have changed. We don't know how long we'll be in Haiti, but we both agree that we are willing to stay for as long as God has work for us to do there.
We were burned out- nothing truly teaches you or prepares you for what it's like to be a missionary teacher in a country where you don't know the language and the culture. But now we truly understand what it means to be a servant of Jesus. It's hard. It's not glamorous. Some days it's not pretty. Some days we feel discouraged and unappreciated and lonely. Some days life is prickly and thorny and nothing seems to be going right, and we double-check with God to see if He really knows what He's doing. But it's on those hard and prickly days when we have to give but we feel like we have nothing left to give that we get the most beautiful glimpse into Jesus' ministry on earth. It was hard. He was unappreciated and rejected and so many people refused the precious gift He came to give. But that is the heart of ministry- serving others [in whatever form that may be] so that they may see the love of Jesus over and over and over and over, and expecting absolutely nothing in return. Sacrificing so that others will come to know Jesus. And remembering that only what's done for Jesus will last.
We're home until the end of July, and we're enjoying every minute. Haiti was getting unbearable hot- and by unbearably hot, I mean we would wake up and sweat, sit on the balcony and sweat, eat and sweat, and go to bed and sweat. Coming back and having air-conditioning has been slightly shocking... we often walk around our house in jeans and sweaters because our bodies haven't acclimated to the cold air yet! We've been spending our fair share of time shopping, and eating our fill of foods we don't have in Haiti. We've been planning trips to see friends we miss desperately, and realizing how spoiled we are with 24/7 electricity!
Life is going to be crazy when we return to Haiti, so we're doing our best to spoil ourselves while we can!
We're glad to be back, but missing Haiti already.
Sending love from...Canada!