Tuesday, October 30, 2012

One Thing

I would love to write a post here for you tonight with several photos for you to enjoy...  But, that's not gonna happen.  Internet issues.

So, words are all I have to offer, and I'm going to make it quick because I am dog tired.

There are a lot of things that are much harder to do here in Haiti than they are in the U.S.  A LOT of things that are a LOT harder.

Although, for the moment, it seems that it's easier here to generate electricity, since it sounds like millions of Americans are without power, due to Superstorm Sandy (and to all of you, know we're praying BIG for your comfort and safety--even though you're probably unable to read this right now).

It's harder to get clothes clean and dry here.

It takes more time and energy to wash dishes here.

It's harder to get wherever you are going.

It's harder to communicate.

It's harder to keep anything clean.

It's harder to keep your yard free of unwanted roosters, tarantulas, and other random wildlife.

It's harder to buy cheese, beef, Very Cherry Jelly Bellies and WAY harder to get Starbucks here.

But, there is one thing that's not any more difficult to do here.  It's not harder to potty train a 2 year old here.  It's just as much work at there as it is here. (I know you've been wondering.)

Each time Naomy gives me that LOOK and urgently says, "Mommy!  Have to!" I don't sigh and think, "Oh, this would be so much simpler back at home."

As I rack up hours spent sitting with her in the bathroom, reading books about the potty and coaxing her to try, or cleaning up accidents or celebrating successes, I think, "If I were home right now, I would be doing the exact. same. thing."  (I'd be doing it with a mocha frappe latte something-or-other in my tummy and a few machines cleaning the dishes and laundry for me, but I'd still be doing it.)

I am not sure why this is comforting, but it is.

So, YAY for the potty and GOODBYE, diapers!
No, wait--here, we say BRAVO for the potty and OREVWA, diapers!

Ecclesiastes 7:8  "The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Picture Day!

Last week, we had Picture Day at Cowman International School!  I was honored to be the photographer, although I ran into a few challenges.  First, it was difficult to find good light early in the morning before classes began and before children got their uniforms dirty on the playground.  Second, I had trouble finding the right camera settings that worked for the wide variety of beautiful skin tones.  Finally, the contrast between the bright white shirts of the uniforms with the dark navy skirts and pants didn’t help, either.  Add to that the work that goes into getting groups of small children to keep their eyes focused on the camera and not wiggling around or jabbing each other, and I had a big job to do that day! 

Nevertheless, I think most of the photos turned out okay.  I would like a re-do for the first grade class, but I’m not sure I’ll get the opportunity.

Parents and students alike were excited to have these photos taken!  I’ve learned that here in Haiti, it’s a big deal to be photographed and folks place a high value on printed pictures of themselves and loved ones.  They just don’t like to smile.  Try as I might, I could not get several of the students to smile.  Not even a little.   

Prints have been ordered and are on their way.  I know I'll treasure my copies as much as everyone else will.  I will never forget that day or any of these precious children. 

I wish that you could meet them all!  You would be tickled to see the preschool class marching in line behind their cheerful teacher, Miss Dee Dee.  And the Kindergarteners would be proud to demonstrate for you how they are learning to read aloud.

I'd introduce you to the first grade class--all girls except for one boy.  And the second grade class--all boys, but one spunky girl!  The third/fourth grade class seems mature beyond their years--they work hard and get along amazingly well.  

I've written here on my blog before about the 5th/6th grade class.  They listen so intently as I read James and the Giant Peach aloud to them (I'm still collecting copies!  I need just five more so that each student can have one).  I look at them and think I can practically SEE their minds conjuring up images of James and his giant insect friends on their adventure.  I've been mentoring the 5th grade girls on Thursday mornings.  We've just finished studying the book of Esther and several of our discussions have made an impact on me (and, I hope, on them!).  I love to listen to them pray and remember the priorities of a pre-teen girl...

And, I would share with you the struggles of the four high school students... Their descriptions of the frustrations of being away from friends at a time when other kids their age are starting to spend more time with peers than with parents.  

Please pray for all of them, for the teachers and staff, and our fearless leader and principal/Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Bundy.

First Grade
Second Grade
Third/Fourth Grade
Fifth Grade
Sixth Grade
Upper School

I took the pictures below during chapel last Friday.

At first I was frustrated about this all-school photo, below.  Somehow, when I was on top of our truck snapping photos, I missed the fact that two second grade boys in the front were making faces in EVERY single shot!  Aaaarrrrgh!  But, now... a week later...  It’s my favorite photo!  Hahahaha...  I think I love it because it shows a bit of the character of our school.  Yeah, we’re here to learn...but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.  Now, I just laugh when I look at this photo.  Thank you, Lord, for second grade boys.  Amen.

Cowman International School 2012-13

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Holy Spirit Helps

Last week, my brother-in-law, Jason, brought me a copy of "Walk," the book and study guide that one of our home churches is currently studying (big thank you, J.)  Yesterday, I read the pages titled The Holy Spirit Helps.  Here are the sentences that grabbed onto my heart:

"When we partner with the Holy Spirit, He helps us.  When He helps us, our lives are filled with power. When our lives are filled with power, we boldly step out in faith and God works in miraculous ways." (pg.34)

The scripture of focus in this section of the book was Romans 8:26.
    "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness."

Friends, let me tell you... I have had some majorly weak moments during the last nine weeks I've been in Haiti. Moments when I am ready to pack my suitcase and buy the first plane ticket out of here.  Moments I've cried.  Moments I've whined.  Moments I've lashed out in frustration.  

And yet, when I look back on the week that has just passed, it is plain to me that those words I read are absolutely true.  They're TRUE!  

The Holy Spirit is here, time and time again.  He is here, helping us.  

Indeed, our lives ARE filled with power! 

And--would you look at that--we have been able to step out boldly. 

When all those things start happening...  GOD works in miraculous ways.  Let me show you...

These are some second graders at Kids Alive here in Cap Haitien.  We visited them at school last week and shared basketball jerseys and shooting lessons.  If you look in their eyes, you'll see how they felt about it.

Here are Jason and Adam, out on the "court" with a group of Kids Alive students.  Their court consisted of some gravel-y dirt and a hoop and backboard nailed up on a palm tree trunk.

Students received some shooting lessons.  They were very open to guidance from these coaches about proper technique.  It was pure delight when the ball made it through the hoop!

It's hard to say who had more fun--the kids or the coaches.  Here, you can see their hoop behind the crowd.  Thank you, Kids Alive, for letting us visit!!

Then, we tracked down a friend Adam had made on a previous trip to Haiti.  This man had been building his house when Adam and an interpreter visited with him.  We had no address, no phone number.  Nevertheless, Adam and Mark remembered the general area where they had been.  We drove there and as we got close, they recognized the street.  We pulled up to the now-finished house and asked for "Alasay."  His wife said he wasn't home, but she ran up the street to tell a neighbor to find him.  

Cell phones were borrowed and calls were made until we figured out where he was. We drove five minutes to where he was working, near Pillatre, and we found him!  He was completely astonished to see Adam, Mark and Jason pile out of the truck and nearly tackle him with smiles and hugs. 

Adam said, "Man, I told you I'd bring you something for your new house when I came back--and here I am!" Alasay hopped in the back of the truck and we took him back to his house.  We were introduced to his wife and one of his children (the other two were in school), and his brother (I think) and his nieces and nephew.  Adam bestowed housewarming gifts and got a tour of the home.  

Here is a photo of Adam and Alasay and his family.  You'll note that Adam is the only one smiling.    While most Haitians will agree to pose for photographs, they will not smile.  They think showing their teeth is ugly.  But, trust me, they were ecstatic.  Really!

And then, we prayed.  All of us, together.  Jason prayed and Junias, our interpreter, made sure our friends knew what was said.  We prayed for blessings and peace and protection for Alasay and his family.  We thanked God for the opportunity to be together--again.

I have more miraculous stories to share, but I'll wrap up this post with another excerpt from "Walk" in which Richard Foster's work Life With God was referenced:

"God wants an active partner in relationship.  The spiritual life is just that--a life.  We learn as we go.  We learn as we do.  As we go and do with God, we're changed along the way.  We're called into the struggle and joy of transformation."

Blessings and peace to you, my dear readers, as you go and do with God.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Small Victories

It's quiet here.  It was raining a few minutes ago, but now it has stopped and all I can hear is the water dripping off of the house and trees outside.  Quiet may not be something that catches your attention...but it catches mine.  It's got me wondering...why don't I hear dogs barking?  Why don't I hear a baby crying somewhere nearby?  No cars driving on the bumpy dirt road.  That enemy of mine--the rooster--he's suspiciously silent.  I bet he's just getting some rest right now so he can wake me up extra early tomorrow...

We have two family members visiting right now--Mark's cousin, Adam, and our brother-in-law, Jason. They arrived on Friday and we've already packed in so many activities with them, including a big basketball game with a local team on Friday night and a trip to the beach.  They got spanked (they wouldn't deny it!) at the game and needed the relaxation of the beach to rest their sore muscles.  There are big plans for the rest of the week, too.  Last night, though, the kids were asleep and we grown-ups had time to sit together and talk.  Adam and Jason had questions for us and we were happy to answer, but it was also good to hear them talk about things they have already observed in the few days they've been here.

"Sometimes, I get so frustrated," I said, "because I know God has so much work for me to do here.  But, we're so busy just trying to SURVIVE that there's no time or energy for much else.  I feel like we haven't accomplished much and we've been here two months already."

That remark launched a conversation about all the challenges and tough moments we've encountered.  Adam and Jason listened as Mark and I went back and forth, recounting how we've been stretched in ways we never anticipated.

But, after a while, Adam was shaking his head.  "You guys say you feel like you haven't accomplished much, but I've just heard you mention several things that sound to me like good work has been done.  You guys have to learn to celebrate the small victories--not every day is going to be a big revelation or a huge win."

You know, he's right.

So, let me recount a few of those small victories for you...

That game on Friday night was one of them.  Our "Team Blanc" as we've been referring to them got to interact with a Haitian basketball team on a level that not many visiting Americans get to do.  They may have lost the game, but they scored a lot of points toward gaining respect among those athletes and coaches.

We are learning Creole quite quickly!  In our everyday interactions with Haitians around us, we are surprising them more and more often with our ability to speak with them and/or understand what they're saying.  It's not much, but making the attempt demonstrates to them that we think they're important enough to communicate with in their "mother tongue." The kids may be picking it up even faster than we are...  Tonight, while driving, Naomy saw someone outside the car window carrying bananas and she pointed and said, "fig!" (Fig=banana in Creole)

In just two months of work with my students at school, I'm noticing improvements in their reading fluency and comprehension.  We have received donated books that they are excited about reading, too! On top of that, I am building relationships with the high school students that I supervise and the 5th grade girls that I meet with on Thursday mornings for Bible study.  We are currently studying the book of Esther, which has sparked many good conversations about women and their strength and courage.

And perhaps the most important thing to celebrate are all of the relationships we're building.  Our relationship with Celine is blossoming--she clearly adores our children and we're learning so much from her about daily Haitian life.  And then there is Junias, the young man who started out helping Mark with some translating work for basketball endeavors, but has turned out to be a good friend in so many other ways.  Not all Haitians are as willing as he is to answer our questions and open up about his own attitudes about life and work in this country.  We are also beginning to build relationships with many North Americans who are also living and working here.  It's so awesome to meet them and see their God-given talents and characteristics put to work in SO MANY ways--all for HIS glory.

As I'm wrapping up this blog post, the noises I have become familiar with are once again reaching my ears.  There--now there are a couple dogs growling and barking.  And---oh--there's a car horn.  Yep, I'm still in Haiti.  I'm praising the Lord tonight for these and other small victories that I've been overlooking.  And, I'll be anxiously waiting to see what He has in store for the week to come!

1 Corinthians 15:58 "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

Monday, October 8, 2012

There and Back Again

So, we were strongly encouraged by several friends to get away and relax last weekend (any questions as to why can be directed to my October 1 post).  And, we did!  We  headed over the border into the Dominican Republic.  What an experience...  We decided to take the girls out of school early on Friday and head out.  We also took our new friend, Patrick (aka "Uncle" Patrick) with us.  He is a former Marine and a native Haitian, so we thought he'd be a great asset to our travel activities--and we were right.  Plus, he was just plain fun to have along!

If you happen to be planning your own trip from Haiti into the DR, I have step by step instructions for you....

First, there is the process of crossing the border.  The road from Cap Haitien to the border town of Ouanaminthe is, surprisingly, completely paved.  You will think that you'll be able to travel this paved road rather quickly at first, but alas, there are approximately 13 little villages, each equipped with no less than four speed bumps that will slow you down.  It will take you two hours to get to the border.

You may choose to cross the border on a Friday, which is Market Day in this area.  Every Friday, massive crowds of Haitians cross the border on foot to purchase food items (mainly) in bulk and then walk them back into Haiti where they turn around and sell them on Saturday in downtown Cap at slightly a higher price.  The types of items that they buy include eggs, chickens (oh, yes, very much alive), spices, and all sorts of vegetables and fruits.  These are all things that Haitians themselves could grow or otherwise produce themselves, but it is cheaper for them to buy them in the DR.  You might find this quite interesting, as I did. It sounds rather like another country we know that continues to "outsource" more and more products and services, does it not?

Next, you will slowly make your way in your vehicle through the throngs of people with gigantic loaded carts and bags piled on their heads to a building where officials handle passports and paperwork.  There are two ways to handle the processing of your paperwork (and fees, of course) so that you can cross the border.  Option One is to take your own passports through and navigate the instructions in Spanish and try to get it all done yourself.  Option Two is to hire a guy to handle all the paperwork for you for about $20.  I recommend the "hire a guy" route.  This guy "handles paperwork" for several customers at a time, which means that you will sit and wait a while in the parking lot and pray that he will indeed return with your passports.

And, while you wait, you will be entertained by visits from kids who live on the streets in towns along the border.  You will smile and wave and they will smile back.  You roll down your car window and attempt to talk to them with as much Spanish as you can remember from high school.  They will point and giggle at your two-year-old who is sitting in her car seat playing with your iPhone.  You've heard about kids who live on the streets, and here they are before your very eyes.  Seeing their thin bodies, gaunt faces and tattered clothing, you will then rifle through the stuff in your car and want to feed them every morsel of chips and candy you can find...but you have to wait.  You can't hand them anything until just before you're about to leave because otherwise you'll have a couple dozen of them flocking to your vehicle. (On this trip, I was unprepared to meet these kids...but next time....I'll have bags of clothes and shoes and food for them.)

You will let out a sigh of relief as your hired guy returns with your passports and paperwork and you quickly give away all the food you could gather.  Then, you will exit the parking lot where you've been waiting--very slowly so as not to squash any of the goats or dogs.  You take notice of the big building labeled "Supermercado."  Yes!  That's right--it's a supermarket!  The first one you've seen in a couple of months.


The following thoughts might cross your mind:  "How can this be?" "Supermarkets right here--so close to Haiti?"  "Why aren't there any of these in Haiti?" "Why can't Haitians have access to these products and foods?"  

And then, you will remember that you need Sensodyne, a toothpaste just for sensitive teeth.  You haven't seen any of that type of toothpaste anywhere in Haiti.  You'll go on into the supermercado and find that they have it right there on the shelf, just like they do at WalMart!!  And, look at that--it's on sale.  A special "oferta"--a four pack for only $1,411.45.  Why, that's only about $353 per tube!  Wait--WHAT?!?! Before you begin to feel faint, you will remember that in the DR, the currency is Dominican pesos.  Whew.  One hundred Dominican pesos is roughly equal to $2.55 US, so, you're looking at nearly $8 per tube.  That's still a bit pricey--you might be able to have a friend send you some from WalMart that would be a much better deal.

You will continue on your way to the small B&B that you found on Expedia.  You will pass through maybe eight small villages and three larger cities.  This journey is only 163 kilometers and Google will tell you it should take about two-and-a-half hours, but it will, in fact, take you three-and-a-half hours.  The main reason for this is that Google doesn't know that you will be stopped at five "security" checkpoints that are manned by men in military uniforms toting guns.  They will ask to see your identification and they will require a modest payment of a bottle of water, food, or perhaps a US dollar or two.  Having three small and cute children in the backseat of your truck will be helpful at these checkpoints.  Your route on Google Maps.

After the sun sets and it's dark outside, those three cute children in the backseat will be hungry and tired of traveling and they may begin to whine, fuss, and bicker with each other.  When you begin to feel as if you won't make it to your destination, you will pray that somehow God will help you find it fast.  Your driver may sense that you're at your tipping point and he will find a little pharmacy that is still open and he will stop there to ask for directions.  This may seem like an impossible task, given that no one in your car is fluent in Spanish and the pharmacy owner will likely be a Spanish speaker.  And yet, nothing is impossible with God.  Miraculously, the pharmacy owner will speak French and your friend,  Patrick, who is along for this trip, speaks French and will easily learn from him that you are only three kilometers away from where you want to be!!  Thank. You. Lord.

When you finally reach your destination, you will be greeted by the owner who speaks English, among many other languages.  He will show you to your beautiful rental, which sits just 100 meters from the beach.  It will be dark outside, but you will clearly hear the soothing sound of waves crashing on the shore, and as you listen, your stress level will plummet, leaving you feeling very calm and peaceful.  

You'll have a snack and retire for the night and the sounds of the sea will lull you to sleep as a salty breeze blows through your room and the mosquito nets sway over your bed.

Over the next two days, you will enjoy the sand in your toes, finding seashells, braving the surf, horseback riding on the beach, swimming in the pool, and even eating ice cream.   You'll have many choices to make about what to eat and where, but nearly all of your meals will be eaten outdoors.  If you happen to be approached by a man holding a large and beautiful (but dead) dolphin fish (or mahi mahi), it is likely that he caught that fish less than an hour ago and is trying to sell it to you.  You will NOT regret buying this fish and promptly grilling it and sharing it with the B&B owner and his neighbors over good conversation and a glass of white wine. 


 And, there will be gorgeous sunsets...

Finally, Sunday will arrive.  You will not want to leave.  You will think for a while about making arrangements to stay another day--maybe two.  But, then your responsible side will remind you of realities that are waiting to be taken care of and you will pack up and head home.  

You will have to leave early because the border closes at 3 pm. on Sundays.  I highly recommend that you make one more stop at a supermercado for a few more things and snacks for the trip.  The drive home will be quicker because you won't have to stop at the "security" checkpoints. 

When you arrive back at your home in Haiti, there is a possibility that you will realize you are locked out of the house.  But, your seaside attitude and calm demeanor will still be lingering and you will wait ever so patiently for someone to arrive to let you in.  

Or, maybe you won't.  

In any case, in the days to come, you will look back through photos and remember those two wonderfully relaxing days and the fun times you had.  And, you will give thanks.

Matthew 11:28  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Answered Prayers

So, you've been praying...and He's been listening.  I need to share some updates with you!

1. The Internet.  We are connected!  Again.  Remember my post about being cheated by the Internet guys we signed up with?  Well, it turned out that they weren't entirely crooked.  They eventually made it out to our house to clean up our connection and they also explained that two local tech companies are combining right now to one big network.  As the network is reconfigured, there may be times when our Internet is slow.  We shouldn't be completely disconnected again, though.  I'm feeling much better about the whole deal and for the last 5 days, we've been able to get online.

SIDEBAR...  Have you ever seen the PBS commercial on TV promoting Sesame Street?  You know, the one where Big Bird and his friends are shown interacting magically with children all over the world and the screen displays the "Sesame Street" logo in dozens of different languages?  It's enchanting... But it's a lie.  At least, in Haiti it's a lie.  From Haiti, when I go to the Sesame Street website (because I have a 2 year old who is nuts for Elmo, Grover, Zoe, Abby Cadabby, and the rest of the gang), it tells me that their videos and games are not available in my location.  So, according to the commercial, are they going to send Elmo down here in person or what? 

2. A babysitter for Naomy.  We found her!  And, she was right here under our noses the whole time.  It's our wonderful, talented Celine.  She is the Haitian housekeeper who "came with" the house we're renting. I posted not too long ago about going to her 30th birthday party and what a reality-check that was.  Let me tell you a bit about her.  She has a smile that lights up her whole beautiful face.  She laughs from deep down inside and its infectious.  I can tell she is happy when I can hear her signing in Creole in the kitchen.  She speaks only Creole, but she is making an effort to catch on to some of our English.  She is not married and does not have any children, but she will be a fantastic momma someday.  She has only known my kids for 7 weeks, but I can tell she loves them.  I don't think she ever had the opportunity to go to school, but she encourages Danielle and Elli to be serious about school. She looks at Elli's school papers (which are mainly pictures) and says, "bravo!" and makes sure Danielle is careful with her school books and folders.  Her parents are no longer living, but she siblings who live nearby and 19 nieces and nephews.  She is a little bit shy and very modest.  She is lovely inside and out.  Today, she let me give her a pedicure and I think she enjoyed the attention.
Anyway...  Last week, I asked her through a translator if she would consider babysitting Naomy.  Without a split second of hesitation, she said she would be glad to.  I thought hard about asking her to babysit--mainly because she is at our house 8 hours a day, 5 days per week.  If the babysitting didn't go well, it would be awkward to tell her I didn't want her in that role anymore....And even more uncomfortable if I ended up bringing in someone ELSE to babysit while she was around.  We talked through a few details and last Thursday was Naomy's first morning with Celine.  She cried bloody murder when she realized I was leaving without her, but I kept checking my phone at school that morning and Celine never called to tell me to come back home.  When I did return, Naomy wasn't crying anymore.  I could tell that she and Celine had been coloring, blowing bubbles, and looking at books--some real interaction--which is rare for babysitters in this culture!!  Tuesday was Naomy's second time with Celine while I was at school and Celine told me she cried less and was much happier. Tomorrow, Celine will stay with Naomy again and I'm feeling very good about the relationship they're building.  For now, we'll do Tuesday and Thursday mornings and maybe in a week or so, we'll add on Wednesday mornings, too.
Thank you to everyone out there who PRAYED with me to find a solution for care for Naomy while I am teaching.  I think this is going to work out just fine!  It's hard to express the load of worry that has been lifted off of my mommy heart.  Now, when I'm at school, I can turn all my attention to my students.

3. School.  I think students, teachers, and staff are settling into good routines.  I still pray every day for our principal/kindergarten teacher, who has SUCH a full load of responsibilities on her plate.  After a long wait, we have Internet at school, so the high school students have been able to begin their online classes.  Generators, batteries, and inverters have been installed, too, which help us maximize electricity at school.  I was able to order the A Beka learning to read booklets for the kindergarteners, which I am so excited to use.  I would really like to work on adding some classic books to the curriculum for the 1st-10th graders.  Someone recently asked me if I thought the students could use Kindles or other e-readers.  I've decided that it probably wouldn't be a good idea for a couple of reasons: a) I'm not sure the students have access to enough electricity to consistently keep an e-reader charged; and b) I'm not sure they would have access to the Internet to be able to download books.  I think it would be best to stick with paper copies.
Below is a reading list I've started for each class.  If you would like to donate or want to help collect used copies of any of these, please e-mail me for details!

1st/2nd Grade class:  The Magic Treehouse series; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; anything by Laura Numeroff (the "If You Give a..." books); anything by Kevin Henkes (the author of Lily and the Purple Plastic Purse).

3rd/4th Grade class: I just ordered 15 copies of "Mr. Popper's Penguins" for this class.  Although there are two reading levels in this class, it will be good to read the same books together, even if we're going through them at different speeds.  "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe;" "Island of the Blue Dolphins;" and "The BFG."

5th/6th Grade class: I'm in the process of collecting 15 used copies of "James and the Giant Peach" by Roald Dahl for this class.  I'd also like to get "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory;" the Lemony Snicket series; and "Bridge to Terabithia."

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers.  God has been listening.

Matthew 7:7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

Monday, October 1, 2012

Win or Lose

Today I’m feeling very discouraged.  I sweep the floors and minutes later dust has blown back in.  I make one meal and feed the kids, clean it all up and set the dishes out to dry only to find someone digging in the cabinet for a snack.  I’m tired of mosquito bites.  I’m tired of my feet being constantly dirty.  I’m tired of the smell on the streets here.  I’ve had it with bumping up and down the potholed streets.  I’m so frustrated with internet pages that download one....





On top of all that, the wiring that connects our house to the generator is a crazy, dirty, falling-apart mess, and today, there is no power.  The generator was on, but the power wasn’t getting through the mangled wires.  I was tired of its constant roar, so I turned it off and now I’m sitting here while the little one is napping, typing this up and hoping that I’ll have a chance later to copy and paste it into my blog for you all to read.  The refrigerator is quickly warming and I’m hoping all of the food in there isn’t spoiling...

I’m not sure I can stand another hour alone with my 2-year-old today, either.  Sure, she’s adorable, but one of her current favorite habits is “gargling” her water and then spitting it out.  It dribbles all over the tile floor and if I don’t happen to catch her in the act of this delightful behavior, I will inevitably step into the pool on the floor, and then my dirty feet leave black footprints on the freshly swept beige tile.  She also enjoys pulling DVDs off the shelf in the family room and not only popping the disks out of the cases, but also pulling the paper title covers out from under the plastic and whisking them about on the floor.  She’s a three-foot tall tornado with pig tails and I’ll admit that I daydream about tying her to a chair a couple times a week.

I don’t really get any “me” time here in Haiti.  I can’t go for a walk by myself.  I can’t go for a run.  I can’t hit the gym for a workout after putting the kids to bed.  No bike rides.  No visits to the park.  No zoos.  No museums.  No playdates with other mommies and kids.  No lunch with a girlfriend just to catch up.  No pumpkin patch this year.  No fresh apple cider.  No hayrack ride.  No jack-o-lantern.   

I know I’m complaining. I’m sorry.  It’s one of those days.

We all have ‘em, wherever we are.  And I’m wondering if one of the biggest challenges we all face is to praise God through them...

In chapel at school last Friday, the high school students watched a few clips from the movie “Facing the Giants.”  Have you seen it?  It’s about a high school football coach and his team and the transformation they all make together.  In one clip, the coach was talking to his team and he said, “We win, we praise God.  We lose, we praise God.”

Oh, but that is hard to do.

It’s so easy to be happy when we win.  Easy to be thankful. Easy to treat others with kindness. Easy to be patient with small children.

But on the days we lose, it is so difficult to be happy, thankful, kind and patient.  Instead, it’s easy to be grumpy...to think about all the things you DON’T have....to snap at others...to lose your temper.

So, I concede to lose today.  But, I won’t give in to my own bad behavior.  I’ll take deep breaths.  Look for the blessings.  Call on scripture in my head.  I’ll pray.  And tomorrow will be a new day.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.  This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” (The Message)