Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This is the day that the Lord has made....Let us Rejoice and be Glad in it!

(written yesterday)

Well, I feel like I reached a milestone today. As I was walking back from the classroom after a long, full day of art, surrounded by kids we have to practically kick out for dinner, I realized today is the first day that I have really LOVED being here. Many of my days have been pretty good and sometimes fun, but never have I finished the day feeling that I loved being here at Canaan and in Haiti. Today was a great day in many ways:

-I feel like I really taught the students some art skills that they probably didn’t know. Watercolor techniques: Wet on wet, wet on dry, color washes, how to use Mr. Brush :-), horizon lines, and filling up the page with color. On to the details tomorrow!
-Having kids so eager to get into art they beat on the door or wait outside for more than 30 min.
-Having to practically drag students out of the classroom at dinner time because it is so dark from the brewing storm.
-I am feeling much more connected to the students and getting to a point of being able to joke around with them.
-Getting lots of hugs or smiles and laughs.
-I am finally getting used to the slower, relaxed pace of this community.
-Most importantly, I am really loving pouring into these kids.

The day was full and despite kinks in our schedule (that becomes a norm around here with the pace of Haiti!) we were still able to see tons of students and get them started on watercolor paintings. It was neat to see which students took off and didn’t really need much guidance while others needed a TON of motivation to paint a landscape, one color and stroke at a time. We will finish up on these landscapes tomorrow and I can’t wait to post pics of them! Right now FB via my phone seems to be the best avenue for posting pics with our internet service…so check often! It takes a really long time to upload anything through the computer. I am trying to post 2-3 pics a day from action in the art room! I cannot wait to post more pictures, I think they will just astound you!

We are feeling a lot more settled in our little house of 6 six girls! We moved to a different house before the huge team came down to consolidate. With the water pumps fixed (thanks to the team!!!) We have running water for the sink and shower, hurray!! We have internet in our house (spotty most of the time, but better than nothing). We are getting to know our sweet housemates better and better. We are still with two girls from NC, Robin and Amy, who are teaching reading on a similar schedule to art classes. Our other two housemates are of the medical persuasion. Katie and Stephanie have both spent lots of time here at Canaan so it’s nice to have some seasoned friends around. Katie is a med student in Birmingham and runs the Medika Mamba clinic for the malnourished kids that come to the health clinic. Stephanie is a pediatric nurse from St. Louis and she assists in the health clinic. Both of these girls were the stand in vets last night if you saw my Facebook post!! A dog that lives here at Canaan (one of prob 50) had a very badly injured leg that was going cause it to die if not helped. So, the girls used what medical skills they share and amputated the leg! It was a horrific happening of the evening, but it was successful even after the dog escaped a time or two. She is still hanging in there today! And in Haiti with no emergency vet (or vet at all for that matter) you do what you gotta do ;-)

As for the rest of the week...it should be a very different week. Without a team of 40 people buzzing around the community playing soccer, working on thousands of projects, packing out the cafeteria, and the constant high energy it will be pretty QUIET! We are halfway through our trip and I imagine now that we are in somewhat of routine the two weeks will go quickly. Bethany and I planned most of our remaining art teaching days, focusing on three major projects with the kids. We talked through our goals we want to accomplish in the time we have left in this community. We really want to be instruments of God in these kids’ lives. We want to be filled with joy and energy and live life to the fullest with every moment we have left with these kids. We are here to teach them and serve them. The possibilities of what to teach them are endless, but we have to do the best with what we have. I really want to teach them art foundations that they can continue to build on even after we are gone. Please pray that we can be well rested and inspired to teach our very best. Please pray that we can show God’s love through our every action and word.

We are excited to see what the next two weeks will bring!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

fire and dancing

We had such an awesome week! A team of about 40 people arrived on Monday afternoon and they brought........ 13 bags of our art supplies! Praise God they got here and the kids are LOVING them! This team had several different teams who headed up soccer camp, VBS, evangelism in the mountains, cooking for everyone, and construction. They fixed our water pumps so everyone could have water. :) The summer staff here was a little apprehensive about so many people coming in but they were amazingly efficient, and very energetic, so it ended up being a huge blessing to all of us.

Art class! With our massive amounts of supplies!!

Monday: Mixing pastepaper and paint to make sketchbook covers. The kids learned how to smooth out the paint, stamp and write designs on it, and take care of the tools. :)

Tuesday Plan 1: Stitching paper into the sketchbooks with yarn. Tuesday Plan 2: Realizing we only have one hole-punch that works so after class has begun we need 700 holes punched by hand before they can get going. Tons of flexibility and thinking on our feet happening here!

Wednesday frustrating morning: We are excited for the kids to have their own sketchbooks in to draw, write, and learn to love using their imagination and observation. We took them outside to draw things around them. The middle-school aged ones are the same as anywhere else: very quick to tear themselves down and easily discouraged. Some want to learn to draw better, but even after I would try to help them, they would go back to the same way they knew, or not want to continue at all. These Haitians have a very interesting attitude towards accomplishing goals. It will take much longer than a blog post to explain, and I don't even understand it.

Wednesday better afternoon: Using Mollye's awesome homemade crayons, we did a texture rubbing lesson with the kindergarten class. They LOVED it! They ran around squealing back and forth- placing their paper on different objects and rubbing their fat rainbow crayons over every surface. Definitely one of my favorite parts of the week. I was thankful for their joy, and that we could build foundations for letting them see things that they pass every day in a completely new way!

Wednesday evening the team organized a worship service that would be in English. This was a great time of refreshment for me. Even with a translator, it's been hard to be involved in a church service that is very unfamiliar. Because of teams coming in and out, the kids have learned many American worship songs so they came and sang along. I can't describe how their voices swelled and raised through the hot air over the mountains. They sing with their whole hearts. My heart and eyes were full as they lifted praise, "You're all I want. You're all I ever needed. You're all I want. Help me know You are near."

Thursday: Puff-paint shirts! Since we had lots of puff-paint donated (so fun!) I bought tons of boys' white t-shirts from WalMart and we passed them out to paint. The always-a-trip Wesh wrote "Fresh Prince of Haiti" on his. He just got back from the states and speaks English very well, even understanding figures of speech and sarcasm, so he is a comfort to talk to if I feel like others aren't understanding me very well. :)

Friday: We decided to have an "open-studio" day where the kids could come in and work on what they wanted to. There are beads all over this campus because the girls and boys have been furiously making jewelry like it's their job. I helped cute little Astephania make a beautiful necklace which I assumed was for her, but she was making it for one of the girls on the short-term team. I was excited to get these beads and jewelry kits here for them because they don't have much of their own, but I've seen that everyone is making things for other people. How awesome to see their love and generosity in those ways.

Friday evening, the team built a bon-fire (just when you thought it couldn't get hotter in Haiti!?!?!?) and we had s'mores around it with the kids and sang songs. We started out pretty mellow, singing worship songs and the kids seemed kinda tired, but man how things progressed. First of all, even Haitian babies can beat out a rhythm on time. They love to drum. The boys started drumming on barrels and we started singing louder and louder. Then the dancing began. We were spinning and twirling with warm cheeks and sticky fingers and fire sparks crackling. Before we knew it there was a big circle and they had started "Little Sally Walker." This is when one person is dancing in the middle, chooses a person who has to imitate their dance, then that person is in the middle. The kids began this and many other dances... some got in the middle and did the whole dance of JBieber's "Baby". I feel like the kids really loosened up to us and we all got to a new level of comfort. At some point Mollye can put up the pictures she took of this fun night. We laughed and laughed and danced and sang and laughed some more. I don't think I'll ever experience something like it again.

This morning the team left and there was a cloud of sadness over this whole community. The team has been here before, are coming again, and house Haitians when they come to the US- so relationships run deep. I got to taste a little of what the kids experience all the time. People come, you make friends, then they leave. People come, then they leave. It's kinda rough. I know we're not here that long and not much longer left, but I was glad to have that taste of that part of their life, so I can know a little bit better what they go through.

Prayer requests:
-As I type this, there's a tropical depression over Haiti. The winds and rain are really strong. It could potentially develop into a hurricane.
-One of the girls here teaching reading, Amy, has gotten some sort of congestion sickness. Please pray for her to heal over the weekend so she can have energy to continue teaching.
-Please pray that I'll really make connections with the older girls. We have gotten much closer but the conversations don't hover over too many significant things. I'd love to encourage them in the most positive ways I can, but if they're afraid to open up, I just want to love and love until all my energy is gone.

-The group came at the perfect time. Thank you, Lord. It was a tough first week and a half, and their tremendous energy lifted our spirits. They were here to love on the kids AND us, and that was an amazing gift from God.
-I get to be here with Mollye. She is an awesome teacher and a great friend. I am learning a lot from her wisdom. I also really really enjoy her comments and perspective on life. I can't imagine being here by myself. It has really helped to have a confidant and familiar face. She adds a lot of laughter just when I need it. ["HurRAY! I found a paperclip!!!"]
-I can feel the prayers of many. Thank you so much. God has given me such a gift by letting me come to this beautiful, needy place. I'm really really looking forward to the next two weeks. I know they're gonna fly by. :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Friday and Saturday

Our hike today. We started at 5:30am up the mountain (to the Caviat- a freshwater spring we swam in at the top) and got back just before 10. We took some guys and girls from Canaan as guides (and for protection/Haitian knowledge). Some of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen. These ladies were already coming down the mountain at 6am- one carrying a load of bananas on her head, and the other a wet load of laundry in bare feet.

Some of the girls from class!

Jefferson, who they call "Son-son" making his self-portrait, and Wenchel. Of course we have fallen head over heels for these little ones. They are so laid back.

highlights from the last week..

A good look at Canaan! Taken from right outside the cafeteria.

getting the art classroom ready...

visit to the malnutrition clinic....

More of Canaan...
view from where we live :-)

lizard in our house :-)

trip to the beach! great relief ;-)

views from the walk back

hurray for water!!

morning hike!


collecting water from the rain

our guides for a morning hike

a dinner out at a local resort

good first week :-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

si si si si si si signeur

We are finally feeling a little more settled here at Canaan. It is has been an interesting few days as we are getting to know the staff and the kids and our roommates! Bethany and I are living in a house with three other girls from NC. We all arrived on the same flight and they are doing a reading program just like we are teaching art. Two of the girls leave in August and the other is only here a week. Our house is at the very top of the hill that Canaan is built on. Currently we are going on 2 days without a shower because there is a water shortage! Before that our showers were from buckets of water poured on our heads. Our house is so high on the hill the pump cannot get the water all the way to our house. Hah, this has made for some interesting times already! Our house has 2 bedrooms, a main room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Bethany and I are sharing a room with one double bed, so we’re roommates and bed buddies for 4 weeks! Haha. As you can imagine we have had a hilarious time in our little room. Just picture really hot sweaty days (and nights!!), electricity only between 6 and 10 pm for our electric fan, completely surrounded by our mosquito net battling the bugs that have snuck inside, head lamps on the ready for when the power goes out, it’s a pretty ridiculous sight as you can imagine! This visual may help:

The weekends here are VERY slow paced with everyone taking it easy, enjoying rest and recreation. This was quite a contrast for us from the busy schedules we left of finishing school and getting ready for this trip! The Haitian pace of life is slow anyway, but the weekends are even slower. It has certainly taken us (or at least it has for me!) a few days to settle down. For most people who know me well, I have a hard time slowing down, a hard time not having a plan, a hard time not being in contact with people. So, this has certainly gotten my attention to CHILL OUT!!! When we arrived no one really gave us much instruction or general explanation of how things run around here. We have been trying to figure out what in the world we need to do. After getting to know some other staff girls here, we feel a little bit more in the know and are getting excited about what is to come.

We did get into the school yesterday for a tour and explanation of how things run. They have recently done a lot of construction with some new classrooms. We are teaching in the biggest classroom and have tried to make it like an art room. We’ve made some posters for the walls and organized the supplies we have now. We have LOADS more coming Sunday so that is when the real fun will begin!

We are both looking forward to getting these art classes going. The kids here are sweet and precious, but they are hard to get to know. These kids see people come and go quite often- short term missionary trips, teachers who commit for only a couple months at a time. They are used to telling visitors goodbye. As great as these visitors are, it hurts the kids to say goodbye again and again. As a result, they don’t share too much, they are not quick to open up, they are a little harder to get to know. I really hope that when we start teaching consistently (beginning this morning) we will also be able to connect more with the kids.

One of the coolest things I have experienced thus far was last night after dinner. The kids have a devotion in the morning and evening after their meals. For last night’s devotion the kids were circled in a covered area singing praise and worship songs. Their voices carried all the way up to the cafeteria and even up to our house. They sang so loudly with praises to the Lord, accompanied by claps, drums, and a tambourine. As I wandered down the hill I realized most of their singing was in English. I decided to join them in their singing and sat by a little girl named Charma. The joy in these kids’ faces and the realization that they were singing these words so whole-heartedly almost brought me to tears. How incredible to be in this country that has such a bad history and wrap for being so filled with evil yet these children are singing so enthusiastically to the Lord!

We were also able to visit the health clinic today! Canaan has a health clinic at the bottom of the hill near the main road. People walk for hours to visit this clinic. One of the major parts of this clinic is for the Medika Mamba. This is a free clinic for malnourished children. Bethany and I were both able to see several patients and learn the steps of assessing their growth. Many children and their mothers came through that have been part of the program while we saw some new ones. Several were even turned away because they were not malnourished at all but just wanted to be a part of the free program. Canaan provides these children with Mamba, which is peanut butter with minerals, vitamins, and a few other ingredients. This has become an incredible program that has saved many children’s lives.

And this just in….we have water!!! Hurray! Thankful I don’t have to go three days without a shower ;-)

Monday, June 13, 2011

a small glimpse

A small glimpse into our life in Canaan.....more to come (this pic took 20 min to upload!!!)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

traps, cats, or rats?

Touchdown in Haiti!

Flying over the clear, clear, green-blue water of the Caribbean was a breathtaking sight. We could see the dirt roads and windy dirty rivers, and high deep green hills forefronting rocky mountains. Mollye saw a sunken ship in the water. I was wishing my students could see this view- boats that looked like pirate ships sailing across this gorgeous water. We had less colorful traveling companions than the Miami flight (no cranky couple, but no Bernard to fist-bump), although interestingly I felt like most people on the plane with us were white Christians. Two huge mission groups and a few Haitians. The people here say this is really abnormal. I did feel much safer, to be honest (southern American mindset magnification #1).

Mollye and I knew two other girls would be traveling on this same flight and coming to Canaan to teach a reading program. We 'facebook stalked' them so we could pick them out the airport. Thankfully we were right and met who ended up being three girls from North Carolina. We all didn't know who was coming to pick us up in Haiti. Scary! Thankfully, a pastor from Canaan had actually been traveling in North Carolina two weeks ago and met one of the girls. She picked him out of the crowd of sweaty men trying to help us with our bags. He pulled around what I can describe like this: a truck body with a flat bed, solid siding for about two feet up, then metal-lattice sides (can't think of how else to say that). :) The people here call it "The White Machine". We piled our luggage in and sat on the elementary school-sized chairs they had put in for us, and got ready to see the city. We were told to "blend in" so I didn't take pictures on my camera, but worked hard at taking them with my mind. I think they'll last a while.

Here's some snapshots.

-ladies walking down the side of the road with boxes and baskets gracefully balanced on their head (I would later find out some walk to the top of the mountain to get to a spring, and carry their wet laundry and a stool back down the steeep mountain, balanced in this large basket on their head)

-a girl of about two, in a pink and white dress, beating on a large rock with a smaller rock to make homemade gravel- that's what a lot of the kids do and try to sell it

-people here work hard, but when they're not working, they sit around. just sit. no schedule. and they're not on time if they do make schedules (american mindset magnification #2) which drives us pretty crazy

-graffiti on the side of the road: "We NEED Help"

-some brokenness in the city but lots of restoration

-a man trying to pull a huge pot-belly pig by a rope around it's neck in the middle of town, and kicking it when it wouldn't move

I couldn't read what the dark eyes looking at me driving through town and entering this community were saying. Some smiled and waved, one flicked us off, and most seemed apathetic. When we pulled into Canaan, my feelings were mixed. I was excited to be here, yet I knew so little about this place. Would the kids be able to open up to me? Did they want to? These are things that will take some time, but after today I feel much better about settling in here.

In case you were wondering, yes, it is hot. We don't have a thermometer or cell phones and the internet only works for about two hours at night, so I'm lacking my usual info. But we can sure tell you how it feels. The people here walk around with rags to wipe their faces and necks. Mollye and I tore out pieces of construction paper to use for fans at church, 2 pieces each, folded, and when two small Haitian girls sitting beside us found out there were really 4 pieces, so we could each use one, their eyes lit up like they had just unwrapped a christmas present. I think we will be making some fans in our classes. :)

I woke up this morning to the singing of the girls' dorm beside mine. These people LOVE to sing. Their voices are beautiful and float through the air from 6 or 7 in the morning until 11 at night. The children also know many american pop songs (even Haiti has Bieber fever) and christian songs. They are not ashamed to lift their voices loudly with their whole heart. I love it.
The church service this morning contained singing of course and the sharing of scripture from Pastor Joel, and songs and scripture from another group working here. Several groups are going to be coming and going this summer, but it's kind of nice to be one the more "long-term" staff and get to work more behind the scenes.
We got to go to the beach today and the Caribbean felt as good as it looked from the plane. Canaan normally takes kids on Sunday afternoon to get away and to cool down. It was a good time to talk to the other mission group, hold the babies, talk with some high school girls, keep the 6 year old boys from trying to sneak-attack splash me, and hunt for crabs. They live a good and simple life. They are happy in small things. I've been quieter than usual today and yesterday, taking it all in. There's definitely much to see and learn in this place.

This has turned kinda lengthy and I still have to scoop water out of a bucket for my shower. And the "traps, cats, or rats?" option was given to us tonight for the dorm we're staying in... it's known for having tons of rats so we could get a cat, or traps, or rats. No rats have been sighted so far. Just lots of lizards and apparently, mosquitos. 79 bug bites later, Mollye and I have another lesson learned and are going to try to soak in bug spray right before bed. And tuck the princess canopy of a mosquito net into the mattress.

We also both read before bed with headlamps on, which we think makes us look really cool.

I'm going with the girls' voices still in my head, "and all will sing how great.... how great.... is our God"


Saturday, June 11, 2011

The long Journey to Canaan

Well, here we are! The journey of a lifetime has begun J Already the day has been full of stories and blessings. We left for the airport at 5am from Rock Hill running on an excellent night’s rest of 3 hours in a soft bed and air conditioning. I tried to savor every moment before opening my eyes. Reached the airport and successfully checked our 4 huge bags all the way to Haiti. Of course both of mine were packed ridiculously full and marked with a bright orange tag informing everyone around that they are HEAVY!!! One of the biggest blessings is that a short term group coming from Raleigh is taking 10 suitcases full of supplies down to Canaan next weekend! They have a group of 40 ppl and you do the math: Bethany and I with 10+ bags vs. 40 ppl to handle our 10 bags= very easy decision to let them take them!!! So wonderful to only have one bag in each hand….plus a backpack and a purse….and pillow J Us getting through to our gate with PLENTY of time to spare was awesome….and blessing #2 of the day we heard once we landed in Miami. Apparently shortly after we checked in all of US Airways computer system shut down!!! Lots of flights were cancelled and many delays began…but we made it through! I cannot even begin to imagine the insanity of trying to get another flight schedule figured out. So BIG PRAISE there!

The plane ride to Miami was just fine. Bethany and I were sandwiched between ridiculous this couple from DC who continued an argument across us. The girl fussed at her boyfriend via text, via mouthing curses, until she covered her head with a blanket and went to sleep. Haha, we finally insisted we rearrange so they could sit together! Halfway through the flight we made friends with the flight attendant named Bernard who was from “Chaaalot” (otherwise known as Charlotte). He asked us what made us qualified to teach art down there and then told us how amazing it was we were doing this by choice and not to make money. After harassing Bethany for not teaching in a real school since it’s private. But we got pats on the head and well wishes as we exited the plane.

After making our 30 min trek to our new concourse in the Miami airport we started talking to a family in the security line. They were traveling to Turkey as the 4 yr old little boy informed us. The woman asked where we were going and once we explained she started crying! It’s just amazing to see how this story and work in Haiti touches people so differently. We’re now sitting at our gate in a sea of people in green shirts. So many huge groups of youth group kids playing cards, singing, sleeping on the floor, and excited for the adventure ahead (boy does that bring back memories of HS!). We are so excited to be a part of this journey on which God has brought us. God is doing great things in Haiti. Despite the devastation his love is there and he has great plans for these beautiful people. I feel Isaiah 54:10 says it beautifully:

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Our prayer is for God to use us how he needs us, speak through us, work through us to inspire these children, and exude his love and joy to everyone we meet.

Thank you all for your help in making this prayer possible and the honor to see it become a reality!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


then Friday,
then Saturday!!!!

::Beth-like a chicken with its head cut off-any::

Monday, June 6, 2011


On a regular basis, I don't talk much about money. I don't like to talk about rent prices or complain about bills or how much it is to go to the movies. There has been a small piece of my life in which I've had to think and talk about it. That would file under the title of "support raising." I inwardly groan at the thought, and probably you do too. When someone needs to travel to offer help or spread good news, it's obvious that this takes finances. It puts them under pressure to ask their friends, and it puts their friends under pressure to cut out something from their already-tight budget.

Lately, the smallness of my financial conversations developed into the bigness of my thankful conversations, thoughts, and prayers. I cannot tell you how many times I've used the words "overwhelmed" "thankful" "grateful" "excited" and "speechless" in the last month. More than my life quota combined (Mollye can attest). But I am those things. Here's why. I happen to live in a community that takes furthering the Kingdom and spreading the truth of Scripture seriously. I also happen to live in a community that truly values the arts. Thank you God for having this plan since before the beginning of time. So many folks have joined with Mollye and me on this endeavor like I never dreamed possible. They have given and given with words, money, hugs, tears, time, and countless other ways. I've been loved by best friends and people that don't even know me. I know I can only feel so enveloped in this kind of agape love because Christ is the head of His body, and the Holy Spirit is working here.

So OK. Usually I don't discuss money. But sometimes, we gotta give credit where credit is due. I knew God was calling me this year to teach art to beautiful orphaned children. I took a step of faith and told my friends the bare minimum of what I would need financially. God has blessed me through the dear, sweet, generous friends with $1482.30 OVER what I asked for. Now we will be able to take twice as many supplies, and leave this community with a great start for continuing their own art program. To HIM be all the praise!!! I am going to Haiti!!

"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." James 1:5

"For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly." Psalm 84:11

Laus Deo!