Whoa, did I just read that right? Two months? Two months??? Umm it can’t possibly be two months already! Time is going way too fast, it needs to slow down!!! What an amazing two months it has been! Can just say that I am absolutely in love with this place, this work, and these people. My life couldn’t be more chaotic and amazing if I wanted it to be.
A lot of people have asked me what a typical day looks like but I just have to laugh say “Whatever God decides He wants us to handle that day!”. I usually never know what is going to happen on any given day. I usually wake up around 6 am and gather my clothes for the day and head up to the second level of Karen’s house to shower and brush my teeth. Breakfast is around 7 am and my two favorites are boiled eggs with peanut butter toast or pancakes. There’s usually fresh fruit too, eating watermelon and mangoes almost every day is awesome! After breakfast, I gather my meds that need to be distributed. I usually have at least one kid on antibiotics or someone needs some sort of Tylenol or cough syrup. Then we pray with all the little kids before sending them off to school. I get TiFi in her wheelchair and wheel her in for staff devotions. We sing and pray and read scripture together and wish everyone a good day. 8:30 am is school time for Luc! Most days are great, some days we both don’t want to do school! We break for a snack around 10:30 am and then head back to the classroom till 12 or so. Lunchtime rolls around, tuna melts are a favourite of mine! Some days we take a rest after lunch, some days we work right through. The afternoons vary every day. Some days I’m in the office, some days I’m in the depot, some days I’m over at the school, we never have two days that are the same. Supper time is whenever I get hungry or have time to sit down, sometimes it happens at 5 pm, some nights I just grab a quick snack before falling into bed. The evenings consist of hanging out with the kids, or finishing up office work, or playing games, or star gazing on the roof occasionally. Some nights I don’t sleep well, some nights I sleep like a rock. Every day is different, some days we’re over to the school for what feels like the millionth time, some afternoons I play with the kids for hours, some days we go for a walk along the canal in the evening. Some days I get fifteen minutes to sit, and other days I don’t even sit down long enough to eat. Some evenings we plan on going to bed early because none one of us can stand up and something happens. We end up chasing mice out of the house, or fixing a head that got bumped on the cement, or doing that last minute thing that was forgotten. But one thing that is consistent every night is that I always fall into bed exhausted, thanking Jesus for another day. We have a ton of laughs every day. One of the requirements to work down here is having a good sense of humour, otherwise you’ll be pretty miserable pretty fast! Things that go wrong, little hiccups usually end with a laugh.
This last month has been mostly focused on Christmas. The Christmas decorations are hung with care, the tree is decorated, the lights are blinking (grrr)! We began to pack 22 stockings last week for some very excited kiddos! The carols are being sung everywhere, it’s wonderful to be sitting in the office and hear the Christmas songs being sung by the middle-schoolers in their classrooms. The gifts will soon be sorted out and wrapped. The gifts bags for all the kids at church will soon be packed up. The Nativity costumes were sorted out and assigned to our cast on Friday. Our first practice for the skit on Christmas Eve happened. It’s a wonderful time of year!
My faith has grown in amazing ways over the last couple of months. My first month here I had a hard time adjusting to this life. Everything was new, I was missing home and my people back there. I had no routine and no idea what to do with myself. There was no consistency and every day was a new adventure. I didn’t love it at first. It was difficult to adjust to. I missed eating North American foods and the sugar withdrawal was awful. I often cried myself as I thought about being here for six months, I honestly didn’t think I could do it.
This last month I’ve adjusted pretty well to my Haitian life. I love these people and kids, they are my family. I’ve snuggled the little ones, and kissed the sad ones, and gotten a million hugs which I look forward to every day. There is always an adventure awaiting us, you never know what you’re going to get into down here. This is my home. I love being able to say “let’s go home” when we’re out somewhere. I love walking into my apartment and feeling at home. I love getting up in the morning and hearing shouts of “Joooceeellyyynnn!” I love hugging each of the kids in the morning before sending them off to school.
I’ve continued to do things I’ve never done before. I’ve done things that I didn’t think I could do. Usually I experience something new every day. I’ve gotten rid of cockroaches, frogs, spiders, hornets, and mice (Okay, I stood back, held the light, and screamed at the boys which direction it ran, but hey, I was in the same room so it counts ;)) I’ve dealt with a multitude of illnesses and diseases; scabies, ringworm, and unknown illnesses don’t phase me anymore! I’ve squeezed nasty abscesses and administered all kinds of medications. Being a nurse, doctor, and pharmacist are all part of my days work. I’ve driven through places that look like no more than a goat path. I’ve gone shopping in a crazy busy town with people yelling at you as you push your way to the next store. I’ve learned to ignore the stares and hollers. I’ve learned more about what is “normal” around here and what to expect. Some things still shock me, and somethings make me so so thankful for the life I have.
God has really taught me to have compassion this last month. I’ve always been compassionate, or so I thought. But thinking about being compassionate and actually putting compassion into action are two completely different things. When you see the kid running towards you has large patches of ringworm on his head, or that little girl has sores on her body, you want to run the other way or hug another child who is “clean”. You start to worry about catching whatever it is that they have. But that isn’t what Jesus taught us, that’s not how He taught compassion. In Matthew 19:13-15 it says that the kids came to Jesus. The disciples didn’t want them to bother Jesus but He told them to come. I’m sure they weren’t all clean, or wearing clean clothes. They probably had snotty noses, scabies, lice, and ringworm. Anyone who has kids knows that kids love to get dirty. Just imagine trying to keep your kid clean if you had no clean, running water or clean sets of clothes to put on them. These “unclean” kids came to Jesus and He welcomed them. He loved them. And He showed compassion towards them. That is what I want to be like. I want to look past the illnesses and dirt and love those kids.
It’s so difficult to describe my life down here to someone who has never been here. You can hear lots of stories and experiences but you never can quite understand what it is like down here unless you’re in it and you can smell it and experience it for yourself. But if there was one sentence that would describe how I feel about this experience, it would be “I love it”. I love every part of my life here. Every frustrating moment, every difficult situation, every time something doesn’t go right, I still love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. And I can’t imagine my life any other way. Two months down… Prayerfully a lot more to come…