Haiti, from first step off the plane it has been a wild ride! Despite the craziness and lack of American comforts, things are going great here! I've learned that I have forgotten any and all math knowledge while trying to teach my class of 12-16 year old girls. I have more than once had to ask the smart girl in the class to help someone because I'm too "busy". I have experienced so many new things already. I gave my nephew the worst haircut imaginable, my first haircut to give. I laugh every time I see him, poor kid. I experienced the worst traffic in the world, literally it is ranked the worst. I'm learning Creole and those here say I'm picking it up very quickly, but I know almost nothing. I am in St. Marc, it is a beautiful beach city filled with "Motos" (mopeds) as numerous as sand on the shore. There is one paved road, one. Cars have the right of way then Motos and last pedestrians. Honking is a common as breathing when driving, and you pass police going twice the speed limit without worry, the cops also enjoy Prestige(the beer of Haiti) on the job. I've gotten it down to 2 gallons of water to shower, since we have no running water and only a cistern we fill out buckets in. Also toilets are still available, not to squatty potty status yet, but that's a bucket flush system. The roaches are many, as are the spiders, and I have chosen to side with the spiders and wage war on the roaches, I fear I have chosen poorly, but time will tell. I was also taught the proper way to hand wash my clothes; I didn't catch on right away. There is electricity when we charge the batteries or run the generator, and no AC of course. Walks at night are eerie; there are no lights but those of the stars. You hear voices and see small fires, and smell strange smells, most not pleasant, and darkness is all around. Life is strange here, but good. I have so enjoyed being with my sister, brother in law, nieces and nephews. We play card games, they sing while I play the 3 songs I know on guitar, we swim and play and read scripture. There are also fights and squabbles, tears and the messiness of life, and I thank God for all of it. Life is messy, imperfect and fun, and you do it together. Haiti is romantic in so many ways, from the beauty of beaches and mountains, to the simplicity of the people and lack of comforts. It is intoxicating to abide in Christ and walk in the purposes of my life, to share life with family and live honestly and in grace before men and God in a place surrounded by conflicts. Yet I am very much at ease and at peace in this place of conflict rather than comfort. I am blessed beyond measure to have so many wonderful and joyful things to be thankful for on a daily basis.
Haitian people are beautiful and different, the people are poor and deceived by a culture of ritual and superstition, but they are open to hearing about God's grace and love through Jesus. Haitians won't eat the breast of a chicken because that is gross since mother’s breasts are what a child feeds from. Yes I know, chickens do not nurse their chicks. They will eat the feet of a chicken all day, but throw out the disgusting breasts. They are taught repetition and not reasoning, they say amen when you preach instead of processing new revelations of truth. It can be difficult, and it can make things worse to simply give without discernment and helping them as a person. Yesterday we walked up a mountain in our neighborhood and found a shack. There were some kids playing in the dirt with tattered clothing and women worn from the hardships of life preparing a small amount of rice to cook the next day. A young boy 10 years old was there and he spoke English, he had gone to the school I am at now previously and his Uncle had paid for him to go. His Uncle died and they used all funds to build the shack they now live in. The boy wants to study to become a doctor and I believe he can and will do that. He is sharp. I so desperately wanted to post up the $80 a month he needs to go to school, but we first spoke to his mother and asked how much she could afford? From there she is invested and sponsors are then asked to fill in the gap. All their families hopes are in that boy, the other children most likely will never get the same opportunity. But working together rather than doing it for them will reap greater rewards. Decisions like that are huge sacrifices, life and death choices, gut check, what do you value and what do you love heart choices. I was and still am humbled by the gravity of those here in the middle of life not taking it for granted. Lord my prayer is that my vapor of a life can be used as wisely and with as much sacrifice as those who give so much daily and have so little.
The people here also are happy and friendly. I have been blessed to start to make friends with the local body builders near us, and the multitudes of children that live by the basketball court. I take walks down to the seashore past mounds of filth and trash and find quiet places to pray. Haiti is a paradise covered in filth and poverty. The government is corrupt, the people are ignorant and murder is too often a common answer to disputes and greed. But there is hope, so much hope, because God is so big and so loving. The new generation here is stirring with life and sparks of hope. Jesé(Jesus) is Lord, He can and will redeem! I met a man filled with love and joy, he was once homeless and a drug addict on the street, and next week he finishes Bible College. I met nurses and doctors working far above their expertise and long past normal hours even for a doctor, and for nothing but love. I have a girl in my class, her mother died recently, another girl's mother is sick and they have already purchased the casket. There are orphans, poor, sick, powerless and innocent here. There are real and serious issues everywhere and there is a real and powerful Holy Spirit here as well to comfort, and lead to the truth of Jesus love and goodness. I have already had so many easy opportunities to share Christ. The mentorship of my brother in law has blessed me and I have been blessed to serve with him and pray with him. I have also made a friend, Miguel. He is a college student giving this year to serve in Haiti, we live in close proximity and take turns at bucket duty. He is a dear soul with a pastoral gifting. We have prayed together and cried together before our Savior, pleading for the hearts of those around us here in Haiti. I am blessed to feed into his life as he encourages my heart. I even found a new friend in a Jordanian man and Eric and I shared the gospel with several of them. I hope to continue to build that bridge up and see him in the future when I am in Jordan in June. Yahweh is so great and so good! I feel as though I am a passenger and receiving gifts along the way. Speaking of gifts, I have been floored and humbled beyond belief by those who have given to this mission that God has put on my heart. People with some of the hardest life circumstances, sweetest words and most sincere love for Jesus have blessed me by their giving, prayers and life stories. God is so good.
Please pray for me as I share the gospel with the whole school on Thursday. Please pray I keep abiding in Christ and not striving. Please pray for all the relationships I am making and for language barriers to be broken and gospel opportunities to occur with ease. Pray for my students, for the people here, for needed funds for the rest of my journey, for my guitar skill to improve, for the missionaries here, for His glory to shine and His love to be made known to me personally and the people here more everyday!
I am learning and growing and I am excited that I can never arrive, but only learn more of God's goodness and power. I have abandoned, with much struggle, a life of performance and appearance. It is not complete, I am not complete, and neither will I ever be till heaven. That is a beautiful thought to know I will always be learning more about grace till I die, that it goes deeper and farther than I know now. I am thankful for the love of our Father in heaven, He alone is perfect and good. I am honored and blessed by the prayers, love and support everyone has and is giving me. I am overjoyed and humbled to live life with my most loving, faithful, honest friend, His name is Jesus!