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."