We would never make it without Jesus.
We don't even have enough fingers combined to count the number of times that life here in Haiti has completely blindsided us.
But let me back up a couple of weeks and catch you all up on what's been happening.
The third week in March we finished our second trimester at school, and went through the craziness of testing, report cards and parent conferences. That's normally a challenge in and of itself, but this term was particularly difficult because we've been playing catch-up ever since Hurricane Matthew hit since we missed a month of school, and have had to try to make up all that time. In spite of how busy that period in March was, it was in a sense a really cool milestone for us both. We were asked by our director to give "teacher speeches" to our classes of parents before we went into individual conferences, and we spent days writing and memorizing our speeches in Creole. We could have asked for translators, but just really felt in our souls that it was important for us to make the effort to communicate in their language, even though we knew we would make some embarrassing mistakes along the way. IT sounds silly now, but we were both so nervous- number one, because every time we've asked these parents to do something that goes against the grain of their culture they've laughed at us, and number two, it has been an uphill battle trying to gain their respect and support. Well, we did it- Creole-ed our way through speeches about classroom discipline, not beating children, about being upstanding examples for their children and taking their education seriously. And not a single soul laughed or yelled at us.
This day was also a milestone for us in the sense that at every other parent conference day, we've either had a translator with us to help, we've used the little Creole we were learning, or we've relied on our Haitian co-teachers to communicate to the parents what we wanted them to know. Well, not this time. Both of our co-teachers threw us to the wolves and asked us to complete half of the parent conferences by ourselves in Creole. And we didn't just fumble our way through. This does not sound humble, but we totally rocked those conferences without uttering a single word of English. We were thanked over and over, and even hugged by these parents and it was enough to bring tears to our eyes. Haitian mamas are fierce and scary, but we come to love them a little more every time we meet with them.
Normally after parent conferences and report cards in the spring, we have a Spring Break- but this year we didn't. We jumped right back into our third trimester the day after conferences and haven't slowed down since. It was also especially busy after this because we knew come the first week of April, we would be leaving to go to Sioux Falls for our annual Mission Haiti fundraiser banquet. That meant we would be missing a week of school and our kiddos wouldn't be getting any English; so we bumped up the number of English teaching days to try and make up the days we would be missing.
We ended up being gone for a week, and it was the best possible thing that could have happened to us. We were so burned out and exhausted at that point that we felt like running away at the thought of facing another week of school. We ate a ridiculous amount of good food, shopped until we almost dropped, got a massage, fellowshipped with dear friends, and slept in longer than we've slept since school started in September. Even though we couldn't go back to Canada to see family and friends, we joke that Sioux Falls is now one of our homes anyway, and so many people that have become near and dear to our hearts live there that it was just as filling as going home.
We joke in Haiti that once things seem quiet for too long that something dramatic is bound to happen- well it did, unfortunately a couple days after we left for the States. We don't know how it happened or even who did it, but the generator at our school that provides all of our electricity was stolen in the middle of the night by a group of people who were able to saw the deadbolt and haul the generator over the school wall. This meant that for nearly two weeks we have not been able to have lights in the morning when we get to school in the pitch black, have not had fans going in our sweltering classrooms during the day as the temperature climbs, charge our technology such as iPads and laptops, use projectors for lessons, or have running water in our bathrooms or sinks for our kids.
These people deliberately waited until we were in the States to essentially commit this act against Mission Haiti as a whole, not just our school. It is so discouraging to realize that after all Mission Haiti has done and is committed to doing in the future for this community, after everything that those in the States have done to support Mission Haiti and keep it running, after everything we do here to serve, there are those who seek to tear down what we are trying to build up. It's in these times that it's so hard, but even more important to remember that when you are a Christian and love Jesus with your whole life, there is one who seeks to tear down and destroy all that God is trying to do through your life. Our battle is not against these people, but against the one who has confused and lied to them, and our greatest weapon right now is prayer.
On top of that, we have the worst pink eye epidemic at school that we have ever seen. It started while we were gone in the States, and Sunday when we got back to the compound, we were warned by many, many people that is has been going through the village. All of our cooking/cleaning ladies have it, some of our Haitian teachers, and nearly all of our students have gotten it last week or just this week. This morning we spent half an hour Lysol-ing everything in our classes, from tables, to chairs to markers and pencils. Thank goodness that Bethany has a stash of eye drops, but our days are essentially filled with schedules of drops and sanitizing our hands obsessive-compulsively. We are praying to the good Lord that this epidemic stops soon.
On top of all of this, a short-term high school team arrives on the ground this afternoon...
We find ourselves muttering that there's no rest for the weary, and have to remind ourselves that rest was made for the weary, and we have to make it a priority!
We love you all and are so grateful that you take the time to read our updates and pray for us. Like we said at the beginning, we could not do it without Jesus and your prayers.
Sending love from Haiti!