Wednesday, July 7, 2010


this one is for all of you that touched my heart in haiti. itunes. jake ousely. times like these EP. do it. thank me later. it totally expresses everything my heart feels.

oh, farewell to all these people that i've known
welcome these seeds that have been sown.
yeah, farewell to a place i've called home.

yeah, farewell to a town i called strong.
and maybe i'm leaving,
maybe i'm wrong.
ooh, if i could i would make them all come along.
oh, farewell to a place i've called home.

and i don't know why i
love this place so much
but i wanna stay
and i don't know why i
love these people
but i do and i wanna stay
i do and i wanna stay.

i wanna stay, stay
stay, i wanna stay.

yeah, farewell to all these friends
i hope someday we'll be together again
yeah i hope someday i'm back here.
yeah i know someday i'll be back here.

and i dont know why i
love this place so much
but i wanna stay.
and i dont know why i
love these people
but i do and i wanna stay
i do and i wanna stay

i wanna stay, stay.
stay, i wanna stay.

yeah, i hope someday i'm back
i hope someday i'm back
i hope someday i'm back here.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

...maybe i'm wrong

i’m sitting on the plane, about halfway to miami. i have the headache of the century and lower back pains that i’ve never experienced before. leaving has literally made me sick. i’ve cried a multitude of times today, typically in small intervals, but they come on strong.

saying our goodbyes at the orphanage, i got to say goodbye to Joshua, who was in St. Marc when i got there, left for almost two months, and has since returned for almost 2 months, although he has been in Port-au-Prince for a little over a week to help train Ethan to be in charge of the kitchen for mission adventures this summer. after we climbed into the back of the teecan, he came over and said he had a word for us. he wanted to encourage us; how everyone prays that the change would begin with this generation, and we are doing just that, impacting this generation for this nation. that the relationships we’ve established with the children, and even with the people on base, will change lives. how he has seen the change from the beginning, how the teachers that have been there since the beginning have made such progress in the lives of these children, and reassured me, that i, too, have impacted there lives so much. i started to get choked up as he was talking, soaking in the encouragement as it was offered to me. jay started up the teecan, i gave joshua a hug, and as we began backing up, i started to lose it.

as we turned out of the long drive from the orphanage onto the alley road, i put on my sunglasses and sobbed silently, literally leaving haiti behind in the dust. as i thought about the words that joshua spoke over us, i couldn’t help but feel like that in my lack of emotion (or inability to process it), God just wanted to encourage use others to encourage me. i was spent; and i’ve had a real hard time even trying to talk to God, let alone even talk to the people around me. ya’ll know that i will strike up a conversation with anyone, friend or stranger, but i just haven’t even had the energy. God knows this. and i think He’s said, thats okay. just be. let me take care of all of this. don’t rush your emotion.

in that moment, realizing my stress-induced stomach pain and mental fog, i realized this: i was constipated. not just the can’t-use-the-bathroom constipation, but the mental, spiritual block that i can’t manage to process anything. i can’t force any words or thoughts or prayers out, no matter how hard i try to squeeze. ya’ll, i’ve never been constipated before; either physically or emotionally. but let me tell you, as of today, i have discovered that they might be the most painfully frustrating things in the world to deal with, especially simultaneously.

arriving at the airport, i was already alone. alone is not a word that i’ve been able t to illustrate much, if at all, in the past 4 months. although at times i felt somewhat constrained by the thoughts of always being surrounded by no-less-than 100 of your yet-to-be closest friends, i almost felt somewhat imprisoned by my newfound loneliness.

saying goodbye to stacia and anne after receiving my boarding pass wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t nearly as hard as i had thought it would be. i will miss them dearly, especially my lovely roommate anne. at the tender age of 21, and the roots of a pennsylvania farm girl, her innocence and acceptance nature was so refreshing. growing up mennonite, her heart and faith have been radically changed by her experience in haiti; and i’ve been so blessed to have gotten to know her. i know home for her is going to be a hard transition, but i see the strength she has in the Lord, and i know He will give her the courage and boldness to step out in faith, even at the cock-eyed look of members of her community and church.

after making it up through security, i sat on the brink of tears quite a few times while waiting for my flight. but none as crippling as walking through that gate and waiting in limbo before boarding the aircraft. the second i made it past the attendant, i burst into tears, putting my glasses on in the dark hallway as a futile and obvious attempt at hiding my emotion. i still can’t tell you what i was thinking or feeling, as much of this day has been a total blur. but the reality of leaving haiti became real.

as we lifted off the tarmac, my eyes again filled with tears. wanting to stick my heels through the floor of the plane and literally have them take me out of the country with my feet dragging, i curled up under my blanket in my aisle seat and drifted in and out of a light consciousness-- God’s attempt at giving me peace in my restlessness.

i journaled a bit throughout the flight, browsed some pictures, and shared some stories with the two ladies seated in my row. i had a diet coke, with ice, and some crackers; an ironic, personal metaphor to my feet in both worlds. de-boarding, i held my composure long enough to make it out of the gate and up the escalator before having a near-anxiety attack that sent me seeking refuge in the restroom. i felt so lost and overwhelmed; i couldn’t believe i was on US soil again. the culture shock was the most real thing i have felt in days., in the midst of the surreal denial that my time in Haiti was ending and i was, indeed, homeward bound. the overstimulation of impersonal contact-- as thousands of people scrambled about around me, but with no true interaction-- was so hard on my heart as well as my eyes. i tried to comfort myself with a sandwich stuffed with fresh veggies as subway in the terminal, but even the thought of choices and variety overwhelmed me into oblivian, and it took a good 5 minutes before i could even order. even with spinach leaves, olives, wheat bread, and turkey, i’m missing haiti in the worst of ways.


as we lift off the tarmac, tents and tarps have been replaced with the cookie-cutter communities and corporate america. their roofs, intact; the streets, identifiable grid-systems linking baseball diamonds with football fields, shopping malls with high-rise plazas. spanish instructions have replaced the french and creole, and is as dissonant to my ears as my feelings on leaving hating/reentering the states are to my heart. with every inhale, the pain in my lower back increases. i realize the dust that once clouded my lungs as been replaced with clean, fresh, cold air; but it doesn’t refresh my soul as i once thought it would.

readjusting is going to take time.

maybe i'm leaving...

i’m currently sitting, sweating, on a mattress on the floor of the YWAM PaP base. the fan blowing on me just got unplugged for a lady to plug in her computer. outside, i hear the children of the orphanage already up and running around the playground with careless joy for the day. in the distance, another plane lands on the airstrip of Tuissant Louverture just a few miles away. the skies are clear, but in my head is the worst fog i’ve experienced in a long while.

it began yesterday morning, saying our goodbyes in st. marc. i woke up at 4:25, got out of bed a little later and went for a morning swim with the sunrise. the pool was surprisingly warmer than the now-cool 83-and-dark-ness of the dawn. i prayed and thanked God for my time in St. Marc, asking Him to continue the work He’s started in me here; among other things. i showered at the pool, and headed home to change and load my bags for our 5:30 departure.

walking down to base, the only thing thicker than the swarm of mozzis, was the swarm of people and their sincere love in their goodbyes, especially at 5:30 (which i’ve decided, isn’t really that early anymore, especially when it’s already bright as mid-day). but goodbyes, even in the thick of love and thankfulness, are never easy.

i will miss each one of these people for so many more reasons than i can manage to communicate, especially right now. i will miss Sarah, my one-on-one and fellow teacher, for our many moments of bonding over challenges and ridiculous norms of life. i don’t consider myself a funny person, but i could always make her laugh at my simple nuances. i will miss Bryan (hereon: B Rock) for his ever-joyful personality, his sarcastic, witty, borderline-naive sense about him, even for his eclectic taste in music (k.c. and jojo to miley cyrus to justin beiber to rascal flatts to ludacris). i will miss hearing Ben say “Come on!!!” and “Nike, just do it!” or “weeiirrrddd!”. I will miss his voice leading worship and his generous encouragement and positive outlook. i’ll miss the never-complaining, never-negative spirit of J Ruggs (Jesse needed a nickname) as he always greeted everyone with a smile and likely never knew a stranger.

i could, and would go on, and on, and on, save for the fact i would likely burst into tears at any given moment. each person here has touched my life in such a way that i will desperately miss their quirks and the way they each contributed to just my every normal day.

saying goodbye to philipson, i found out that he was actually going to come with us (me, jenna, anne, stacia, lisa and ronald) to Port-au-Prince to see us off. as i got on the bus after dishing out hugs like candy on halloween, i didn’t turn around to look back. it would be way too hard after my goodbyes. although i didn’t cry, my body (already exhausted from the lack of sleep) was emotionally spent and aching. i literally felt sick to my stomach.

the dissonance began on the bus ride. i found that i couldn’t think. i couldn’t pray. i barely managed to carry on a conversation with philipson. i was void of the cognitive process, a state i haven’t found myself in often, yet can not seem to shake.

we stopped at the airport to drop off jenna. more goodbyes. you’d think i’d be a pro at this by now. we waited as ronald and philipson looked for a person (whom they didn’t know what she looked like, or her name) for about an hour. anne and i got off the bus to find a bathroom and hopefully seek out some last-minute, early-morning plantains.

we found a gas station with a small coffeehouse next door, and managed to use their bathroom. after ronald and philipson got back, the 4 of us scouted out street food. after deeming 8 am an inappropriate time for fish stew or rice and beans, anne and i settled on bananas and cokes; hey, we were starving at this point!

we made it to New Life Orphanage, the property on which the YWAM PaP base rents a house for its center. they are running Mission Adventures through here this summer, so it is sort of abuzz and chaotic. my plans to spend the day reflecting and journaling (which i desperately need to catch up on and document this past week and a half), were thwarted when they decided to go out to a tent community in Cite Soliel, one of the poorest parts of Port-au-Prince. Anne and i went along, (sidenote: we stopped at a gas station, and ben (different ben, here in PaP until tomorrow) asked if anyone could speak creole to the attendant. i told him i knew a little french, and he asked me to explain to him how much gas and change he wanted/needed in american, etc. without any thought i found myself speaking a perfectly crafted sentence, and translating his answer back to ben. great, my last day in haiti and i’m finally learning the language.)

in Cite Soliel, you can imagine . . . it was sunny and tres chaud! looking back, i perhaps shouldn’t have gone. i was not in the mood for people, heck i could barely handle myself. i found myself cringing as some of the half-naked children vied for my attention and tried to hold my hands. i prayed for brokenness as i saw the depths of poverty, the pits of hopelessness within the tents of that city. in my hour there, i was so sweaty; but i couldn’t even imagine how hot and frustrated the people that live there must be, at all times. i was so discouraged by how seemingly unchanged my heart was at the time, but looking back i think it was and is my general lack of processing that has prevented me from taking on any additional attachment or compassion. which i am not trying to excuse, only explain. i know its still wrong, and trust me, i prayed against it as much as i could manage, but you can not fill if you are not first filled yourself.

we got back for lunch and i laid down for a nap, which i wavered in and out of consciousness for a couple hours before waking in an even greater cloud than i had first been in. in a stupor of self-pity and mourning, i moped around until dinner, not really able to process the fact that i am leaving. this has been such a surreal day of mental limbo, one i can only equate to the drive back from arkansas in january in which i had no foot in either city; great grief in leaving, as well as returning.

during dinner, we come to find that philipson had not even left PaP, so we get to spend a little more time with him. overwhelmed by the influx of MA-ers that arrive for that evenings worship service, he and i decided to take a walk around the base to get away from the hustle and bustle. as i enter the worship service, i feel void of all ability to sing praise, so instead, i worship from outside of the chapel, on the step of a building directly across from the churches doors. i find peace in the solace of my last Haitian night-sky-scape, even though i feel distant from the presence of the Lord. how was i going to be able to do this, to say goodbye to a place and people i have come to just absolutely adore?

well, it came and it went with my goodbyes to philipson and mike (whom i also met in St. Marc; he went back to the states for a month before returning to haiti to work with mission adventures). as i bid them farewell, i quickly choked back my tears and ran inside, visibly wrenched from the heartache that goodbye’s elicit. i sat in bitterness towards the coming’s and going’s that have been friendships of the past 4 months, and shortly retired to bed for another sleepless night. between the bites of the mozzis, and tickle of the crawling ants, and the tossing, turning, and snoring that results from sharing a room with 5 people, i didn’t get much sleep. at all. i got up several times to reapply bug spray, and once to get my earplugs. even though my alarm was set for 6:30, i decided to get out of bed already when i couldn’t sleep past the sun anyways.

Monday, June 28, 2010

i know someday i'll be back here

i can't believe it. this is my last day in st. marc. 4 months has flown by in a mix of bittersweet emotion, stretching and growth. ask me for a summary statement, and i'd likely be speechless.

yesterday, i spent my last weekend in haiti at the beach in montrouis, perhaps the most serene place i've ever experienced. i've described it in posts past, but every time i find myself beneath the shade of a coconut palm, basking in the unforgiving haitian sun, or floating in the coolness of the caribbean, with its crackling coral audible beneath the water's surface, i am just amazed by His creative goodness and attention to detail.

i stood in the middle of sea, gawking aloud to myself over the beauty surrounding me. our God is infinitely creative. the aquamarine of the ocean, the jewel-tones of the flora and fauna. the passing clouds-- a metaphor of my life here in Haiti-- as they change shape and purpose and merge with others and become one. i declared God's goodness to man, our unworthiness of such a gift. and i stood there, praising God for the works that He has only begun to start in my life. that as i stood there in the caribbean, that my life would be changed forever, and i would continue to stand for Christ, no matter the cost. i declared His mercy and grace over our lives as we continually fall to sin and the way of the word, and i prayed for the endurance and strength to move beyond that. and even with my uncertainty of the next step, i know that home is where the heart is. and my heart is with God. and God is everywhere. i know that as i stood there in that heavenly paradise, that God stood with me. i let myself fall backwards into the sea, baptizing myself and rising as a proclamation to his faithfulness and my obedience.

as i come to the culmination of such a life-changing experience-- daunting at times, exhilarating at others-- i find myself reminiscing, and already longing for the relationships and memories i've made here. they have left footprints on my heart, infinitely more permanent than the ones we've left on the shores of Montrouis. i ask that God will continue to break my heart for this nation and these people. that He would continue to place them on my heart to pray for them and support them spiritually. that i would not only stay in contact from afar, but that He would bring me back to visit and share in the progress made in their lives and in this nation.

the last service at church was a hard one to have. i'm going to miss the contagious passion in Ben's worship. the excitement and God-centeredness as Philipson leads worship in creole. just taking a look around the arena, i've realized how normal, yet how abnormal, this life is. standing under what practically resembles a poll barn, with the rains dumping in heaps on the metal roof, standing with people from all over the world, worshipping in languages we may not understand, with the sun setting over the caribbean to our rear. as i asked the Lord if i should really leave all of this behind, i felt like He told me i am ready. i am equipped. such formidable words, that although reassuring, don't leave my heart any less heavy for this nation.


after service, bryan, valerie and i went down to "mama's" for some chicken and plantains. only in haiti could i sit in front of someone's meager house, with a few polls posting up a shanty roof over the doorway, as she fried chicken wings and plantain bananas on a charcoal cooking stove in her entryway. 100 gourdes for 8 wings and 5 plantains. Philipson met us down there, and we walked back to the base and all had our street-food dinner together. we talked for a while, with Michelot and Faince, whom was shocked to find out that i spoke french after all this time. he thought i was just saying bonswa and bonju to make passing conversation, while i secretly hoped it would invite more conversation than it had. lesson learned. (sidenote: whenever i speak french, and someone is shocked, the followup question is usually "tu es canadien?" which i humbly reply "non, je suis americanne, mais j'ai etudiee la a l'ecole pour trois ans." each time i am reminded that i am disappointed that A) i don't know as much french as i wished to have garnered by now, and B) my home-country really lags in the whole learning a second language thing.)

just spending the night in conversation made me realize how much i will truly miss the friends and relationships i've made here. the spiritual wisdom and guidance and support i receive from each of them is paramount to the growth i've been able to experience. my heart has been engraved by this nation. it has been transformed in this nation by the Lord. it has been made whole.
pardon my lack of blogging. i'll make up for it soon, i promise.

in the meantime, be praying for my re-entry. be praying for my heart. be praying for this glorious nation and these wonderful souls that have touched my own.

and praise God for His goodness and faithfulness and fullness of His love. O, how He loves us!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

to do

my to-do list, for lack of any space on my hard drive, i am posting it here (and will cross them off as i finish . . . you know, it makes us list-makers actually feel accomplished!)

  • order patés . . . 82 of them. take a haitian staff and 410 gourdes.
  • finish testing. (one absentee to go, so its sort of a win).
  • write up portfolio assessments.
  • turn in my grades.
  • finish Liberty Academy photo collage (if i can find it hiding on my computer), finish kindergarten class photo collage.
  • take said photos, to a "photo place" here (if i can find one hiding in the city), and get a 16" x 20" print made of the school photos, and 11 8" x 10" of the class photos. (Well, i tried. my computer ate my photos and wouldn't let me edit them. and then shut down.)
  • Go to Deli Mart for my last one-on-one with Sarah. (moved to Wednesday!)
  • Bake 2 cakes, make homemade icing, and enough macaroni salad for 41 people.
  • Pack up my classroom.
and that is just by monday.

  • field day with the kids.
  • pick up patés, macaroni salad, cakes and pudding, get utensils and plates, and set up food for lunch by 11.
  • bake homemade cookies after school. at least 3 dozen. pray i have enough (and the right) ingredients. (woo-hoo! got the cookie dough made already tonight!)
  • finish packing up classroom. because let's be real: you saw my monday's list, the classroom will not be finished by then.
and until my departure:
  • wednesday morning: graduation rehearsal.
  • wednesday night: graduation.
  • thursday: likely more packing and cleaning.
  • thursday night: women's small group - ice cream and a movie.
  • friday night: birthday night, dress up. both are mandatory.
  • saturday: farron's birthday, and kay foun's for dinner. i'm over kay foun's and i rarely enjoy the food more than the company.
  • sunday: hopefully beach in montrouis. i would love to spend my last weekend on the shores of this nation. i'm not holding my breath.
  • clean the house.
  • sunday night: church. last service. lots of tears will be assumed.
  • monday: tour around haiti. hopefully headed north to cap hatien. again, not holding my breath because we all know even managing to get to the market is a feat and a half.
  • monday night: goodbyes and deli mart (it's usually a given). i don't think i can do this.
  • tuesday morning. wow. tuesday morning. we leave saint marc, and head to port-au-prince. i'm even typing in disbelief right now.
  • tuesday night: spend the night, in a tent, down by the-- rubble. bittersweet way to leave the country. on second thought, just plain miserable way to leave the country.
  • wednesday morning: i'm leaving, on a jet plane.
  • 6:55 wednesday night. arrive in Tampa (Lord willing!). cry with Christina. get an iphone 4. see my family. hickory hollow. i can't even contain my excitement!
it would do my heart no service to continue on with my plans for after that. but i will leave it at this: every moment from now into then is going to be jam-packed with busyness. i pray that the Lord will continue to bless my time here and pour into my heart. i pray that He allows me to get all this junk done so i can focus on the relationships i've made and enjoying my quickly-fleeting last moments here.

RIP Kenzi

maybe it's premature. but having to bid adieu to all my photos means one of two things: Kenzi (my Macbook) is either dying a slow death, or i'm going to usher in death early for losing my pictures.

either way, pray i get a job so i can get a new computer. ya'll know how much photos mean to me. everything from haiti is gone, not to mention, france, africa, and all my summers' of fun.