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Stanley Update

I am not a morning person, and I am not particularly fond of being woken up by anything other than my alarm.

A phone call from Clermelie is an exception.

I am not a morning person, and I am not particularly fond of being woken up by anything other than my alarm.

A phone call from Clermelie is an exception.

I left my number with her again last week and told her to call me if there is anything they need. So she and a translator gave me a call this morning to let me know that Stanley is having another operation and should be out around 11:30. I didn't think he would be having another surgery, as the nurses last week indicated that last week's would be the last. How quickly things can change. She told me that they're doing well and are doing fine with traveling back and forth between the hotel and the hospital via a medical shuttle. I was worried about this aspect, but Clermelie assured me that they're doing fine. They'll probably be in the hospital until early next week, just like last week, which works out well because Anthony is going to bring some children to visit!

Clermelie said that they would be returning to Haiti soon (their Care Coordinator thinks toward the end of this month), and she wanted to know if I would be back to visit before they left. I told her I would try! So if anyone else wants to hop on this train with me, this might be your last chance!

I'll post more updates as they come to me.

Fighting my demons

This post has nothing to do with Haiti, so I'm sorry if that's what you're expecting. This post is a little less rosy.

Some days I struggle so hard with my demons that I might as well take my bow and arrows with me wherever I go. This week seems like it's going to be a tough one. I don't know why I am sometimes plagued by every single thing I've ever done wrong, while other days I'm fine. The past few days have been a constant war between myself and Satan, and sometimes I'm just so tired of fighting. It is much easier to resign myself to being alone for the rest of my life, to let myself drown in homework rather than trying to swim, to stop caring about my job and skip my shift. But God sent me a very loud & clear message through Pastor Wayne on Sunday:

"You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord lives He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.'"
– Hebrews 12:4-6

I know my demons. Undiagnosed or not, depression is real. It's not something I make up. I've never been overly vocal about it, but that doesn't make any less real those days when I can almost physically feel my soul dragged down so low that it's a struggle to get dressed, stop crying, and face the rest of the world. This is one of those weeks. I'm not asking for prayers; there are people with more tangible and devastating problems than mine. It feels wrong to ask for prayers when my struggles are internal. But I guess this post is for self encouragement as much as it is for the encouragement of others: Know your demons. Know that, like Job, God allows the devil to pull you apart to try to raze your faith. It takes so much more effort to hold yourself together than it does to fall apart. God doesn't allow you to be tempted beyond what you can survive, and He ALWAYS gives us a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).

It's surviving the fire that's the hard part.

#TeamStanley!

This update is long overdue, but here is all the recent news I have at my disposal regarding Stanley.

The weekend of July 16, I travelled with my friends Eddie and Lacey to Boston to visit Stanley and Clermelie. It was a Sunday, and Stanley had just had an autograft done two days ago on Friday. He wasn't feeling too great, honestly, and was obviously in a great deal of pain. I asked him about his doule (pain) several different times, and instead of pointing to his chest like I expected he kept pointing to his thigh, where the doctors took the skin for the graft. Stanley got upset when it was time for his medication, but so SO fortunately, Eddie asked Nancy Lanni to give us a call and she chose that precise moment to call. Lace and I stepped outside while the nurses, in Eddie's words, "sat him up, put some [salve] on him, adjusted his chest protector and arm brace, gave him more pain medication, and then we got him into the wheel chair. He was a lot more comfortable."

Eddie took Stanley outside for the first time since he arrived in Boston. Three weeks without fresh air is a looooong time! Eddie said he loved the sunlight and only asked to go inside to get water, and then he wanted to go right back out! They played some drums and Stanley loved that!

While the two of them frolicked outside, Lacey and I drove Clermelie to a nearby Target to do a little shopping. I think we had just as much fun as Eddie and Stanley! We returned to the hospital instead of grabbing some Haitian food because some of their family stopped by to visit – and brought homemade Haitian food! Frantz, a cousin of Loïs (Stanley's dad), operates an organisation called Lakay Dabò (their Facebook page is here) for Haitians to help Haiti, in a nutshell. We left shortly after so the family could spend some time together.

My friend Anthony met us at the hospital and is doing some hardcore arranging of visitors for Stanley. Last week, he wrote that his colleague, who is Haitian, visited and said, "On Friday, they did some redressing of his wounds and she helped with translation which made him happier. "He is definitely a pre-teen – lots of funny back-talk but still very kind 🙂 he really likes to be clean and play but clearly physical play is not an option right now."

And Marty and Larry, bless their beautiful souls, have a pastor contact at a local church, Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church, and the church has raised some funds and gotten some food and clothes together for Stanley and Clermelie. God is SO good at bringing people together and connecting His people together for the good of others!

Fast forward a few weeks, 16 days to be exact. I got lucky enough to have 4 days off in a row from work (I'm neglecting school a little), so Mum, Derrick and I drove to Boston. We got a hotel in Kittery, and the weirdest thing happened: Yesterday, every single one of us slept in until exactly 10:15 am. Not a minute later, and we all woke up within a minute of each other. What's especially weird about this is that ever since I returned from Haiti, I have set my alarm for 7 or 8 am. My mother is usually awake around then also. My brother just sleeps. So we hurried to get ready and check out of the hotel, and after getting gas and breakfast, we flew to Boston and arrived on Stanley's floor of the hospital around noon-ish.

Clermelie was not in the room but Stanley was. He was fully dressed, lying on his bed and watching a movie in Creole on a portable DVD player. All of their belongings were packed, and Stanley told me that they would be moving to a hotel at 1 pm! I couldn't believe it! What happened to the little boy that could barely sit up two weeks ago?? He showed me his hands, his legs, his stomach – beautiful, brown, healthy, healing skin! He could sit up on his own (although I think he was just being cute the few times he had me help him up!) and we PLAYED SOCCER IN THE HALLWAY! My mind is BLOWN by the fact that at the beginning of June he was still in Haiti with raw, painful burns – and now we were playing soccer in a hospital in Boston.


If we had slept in any later that day, we would have missed them. As it was, we lent an extra 3 pair of hands to helping the Pierres move out of the hospital and into a nearby hotel in Charlestown. It complicates things a little, as they still have to take a medical shuttle from the hotel to the hospital for meals and appointments, and they're not quite sure how long they'll be staying. But one of Stanley's nurses, Rich, said that Stanley has one more surgery to fix some minor errors, and then returning home to Haiti would be "getting close" to coming true.

Doesn't that BLOW. YOUR. MIND?!

We are staying tomorrow morning instead of heading back to Maine because Clermelie would like us to accompany her and Stanley from the hotel to the hospital for Stanley's final surgery. We are more than happy to oblige, and I am praying that everything will go unbelievably well. God has taken these beautiful and deserving people into His loving hands so far – with Him standing with them, then what could stand against?

Listen, I'm not telling you what to do – who am I kidding, yes I am. If you feel that in your soul that the Holy Spirit is urging you to do something, DO IT. Don't you dare let another human being stop you. You don't know the things God has planned for you – you may change someone's life.

You make beautiful things

(This short little post was written on Tuesday while I was in Haiti, but I’m posting it anyway!)

“You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of dust.”

-Gungor, “Beautiful Things”

This is my last day in Haiti. I’m sitting here, in the lobby of the super nice hotel Wes booked us for a fantastic price, and I’m thinking of the past four weeks I’ve spent here. I haven’t updated this blog because I decided about halfway through my stay that some things can’t be reduced to a single blog post. Some things are greater than that, greater than any words I could ever say, so I decided to wait until I get back to share photos and stories.

But for now, there is this filler post that is a list of all the beautiful things I have discovered about Haiti. Some of them are silly, some are serious.

  • The mountains. Coming from La Gônave to the mainland, the mountains look like a giant crumbled the land in his fist and left it like that. Everything is green and especially beautiful right now, and the sight is overwhelming.
  • Susie’s teaching. I sat in on every class except for one, and I think the students are learning so much from her. Most of all, the way she illustrates concepts is relevant to the students. For example, in discussing bacteria, she talked about how water needs to be heated to get rid of bacteria. She told them that the water in mud puddles is unsafe to drink, and about how using your wash water for cooking water is not a good idea. As North Americans, we are taught these things from an early age, but it is not that way in Haiti. The students had many questions for Susie, which she always answered, no matter how foolish the students might feel in asking them. So Susie is doing some great work where she is.
  • Worship music. I have never seen people worship Jesus as completely as the congregation at the Wesleyan Church in Anse-a-Gâlets. Hands in the air, Allelujahs everywhere, dancing…it was such a beautiful thing to be part of that. All worship music hereafter will seem like the shadow of a great symphony in comparison.
  • Green grass! It is so rare to see a lawn full of green grass! Sarah and I were just sitting here commenting on this very thing and how we just notice this now. Our hotel has a bit of grass on the sides of the building, and there is a spot in Anse-a-Gâlets where we went swimming that has a small lawn of nice grass.

 

Mwen RENMEN Ayiti!

I’ve been a little MIA over the past few weeks. This is partly due to my lack of internet until this week, and partly because I’ve actually been busy.

Busy! Gasp.

But seriously, I’ve been busy.

I could even be doing so much more, but I’m just one person. One sweaty, slow-moving, awkward, blanc-ish person.

Men mwen renmen l’isit la nan Ayiti. But I LOVE it here in Haiti. I love the people that I’ve met, the missionaries who have been so graciously hosting my, the spectacular cooks, the sun, the rooster that wakes me up sometimes, my malaria-meds-induced crazy dreams that sometimes leave me wondering, “Why on earth did I use a roll of wrapping paper to maim those seagulls?” I love going to the hospital with Esner, the wonderful man I have hired to be my translator, and visiting with the patients. I’ve held some beautiful babies and talked to some proud mamas. I love going on walks with Marcia, talking with Larry and Dr. Bob at mealtimes, trekking across town with Marty to visit a school founded by her former student. I love talking with Susie and Wes about Haitian culture. I love that I just stood outside in the refreshing rain, the second this week. And I absolutely ADORE Mèt Johnny, as well as the nursing students I spend class time with almost every day. Their wonder at microscopes warms my heart and makes me giggle.

But my heart also breaks a little every day.

I’m having trouble falling asleep at night. I think about the new mother who wants to leave the hospital but can’t because she doesn’t have enough money to pay her hospital bill. I think about the baby who has been in the hospital for a month because he was born premature; his tiny little hand is hardly bigger than my thumbnail. I think about the kids I’ve seen in the streets during school hours because in Ayiti, you need to pay for a uniform and supplies and exams, and so so SO many families simply cannot pay. I think about the woman who runs naked through the streets because she is mentally ill. I think about the thousands upon thousands of pounds of trash in the streets, in the ocean, in the gutters, in the bellies of goats and pigs and cows and chickens that someday end up in the bellies of children and their families. I think of the thousands of people who desire to work but can’t work because there are no jobs to be had. I lie in bed and think of all these things and it all seems so overwhelming.

I’m just one sweaty, slow-moving, awkward, blanc-ish person. How can I possibly make a dent in any of this?

I can’t. And that just adds to the pile of Things I Can’t Fix.

But, I’ve learned in my two weeks in this beautiful country, that none of us Blancs, or foreigners, are here to fix things, or we shouldn’t be. And if we are here with that mindset, we are destined to fail. Haiti does not need to be fixed by outsiders who think they know better. I’ve learned that programs implemented by Blancs almost always fail because Haitians weren’t the ones to start them. They didn’t believe in them, so they failed. Haiti needs to be healed by its people. People who yes, may have picked up a few things from outsiders. But Haitians are very capable people. Something else might need to be the spark, but they are the fire.

I’m not apologizing for the crazy, stream-of-consciousness quality of this post. But now that I’ve spilled what’s been filling my heart, I can tell you how I’ve actually been spending my time here.

But that’s for the next post. 🙂

So, funny story. 

We got lost on the way to the airport. 

I was supposed to be at the airport an hour early. By the time I arrived, I had a half an hour until departure. The Air Canada representative told me I wouldn’t have enough time to go through security and board the plane. 

So I missed my flight to Haiti. 

Imagine my frustration as I watched my plane sit on the runway for another half hour as I made six phone calls and talked to four different reps. I finally got a flight – next Tuesday 23 May. 

I’m trying not to be too upset about this, but I am. It’s a week spent away from my internship. It’s additional funds I have to funnel to paying the difference in tickets and away from funds I could have left behind for people to use in Haiti. It’s more work for Susie and Wes to reconfigure transportation plans. A wasted hotel room, a week without work, an inconvenience that could have been prevented. 

But nothing is an inconvenience to God. Everything happens for a reason. I’m going to use this week off to make some inquiries for my senior internship next fall, catch up on post-finals rest, and hopefully spend time with family and friends. This isn’t the end of the world, I’m telling myself, but an opportunity. 

So that’s my fun story. 

The Final Countdown…TEN Days!

This past month has FLOWN by. I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around the fact that I leave for Haiti in a little over a week. I got my typhoid shot today, so that’s another major thing crossed off my slowly-dwindling To-Do list. Susie recently told me that I can wear sleeveless dresses – WOO HOO! Less sweating! – so I can ease up on the sewing a bit. I’ve started packing, but Mildred kind of claimed my suitcase as her fort (#catmomproblems). The only major things I have left to do are getting my transportation money to Haiti, travel insurance (still haven’t done that – it’s next on my list!), and booking hotels for Fredericton and Montreal. I’m not excusing my slacking/procrastination, but God has taken this trip into His very capable hands so completely that I’m not worried.

I want to take the opportunity before I go to say a huuuuuuuge THANK YOU to everyone who has felt moved to support me financially. I’m not going to name names because I don’t know who would be against that – but y’all know who you are. And I thank you so much for your kindness and your generosity. I truly believe that God intends for me to do some awesome things while I’m there, and all of you givers and prayers are partially responsible for that! I was honestly not expecting the support that I have received, but I truly, truly could not do this without you.

So, a final financial update:

Guesthouse stay: $1700 – Paid in FULL by the Haiti Team 2017 (I HAD to name you guys!)

Transportation: $350 – Paid in full

Hotels, etc: $200 – Paid in full

Emergency (necessary) cash: $250 – Paid in full

Total needed: $2,550 – PAID IN FULL

Total raised: $4,733.38

I’m leaving extra money in Haiti! Woo hoo! Thank you everyone! Hopefully my next post will be written in transit or in the country of Haiti!

60 days.

It’s official.

I’m going to Haiti!

I am leaving on 15 May for Fredericton, Canada, and I will fly from there to Port-au-Prince the following day. I will be on the island of La Gonave shadowing the lovely Susie Munsell for an entire month until 20 June. I’ll fly back from PAP to Montreal, spend the night, and then fly back from Montreal to Fredericton on 21 June.

Whew.

Those are the cold hard facts. The emotional side is this: I leave in 60 days and I’m actually terrified.

I’m a worrier. I can’t help it. I “inherited” it from my mother. Therefore, because I don’t have all the details about the trip, I worry about them. What if something goes wrong with my flight and I’m stranded in an airport? What if my employer won’t give me the time off and I’m forced to quit my job? What if I get roped into someone helping me with my luggage in PAP and end up confronting some angry Haitians? What if I contract malaria, zika, typhoid, ebola? What if, what if, WHAT IF??

The What Ifs drive me crazy sometimes. I get lost in my own head, in a downward spiral that usually leaves me discouraged. But I’m trying to change my attitude. It’s an uphill battle. See what I mean?? Negative. Pessimistic. Worrywart. That’s me.

I went to an interview today for my senior field placement, and I feel pretty solid about it. I think it went well, as far as interviews go. But I decided on the car ride home that whatever happens, it is for a reason. God has my back. He knows in which direction I am supposed to go, and as long as I listen to Him, I will get there. Eventually.

Haiti is the right direction for my immediate future. After that, only God knows.

I am still looking for support, because I’d like to leave as much money in the country as possible for Susie and Wes and Dustin and Nancy to use wherever they deem fit. I’m still making jewellery on Etsy, and I love doing custom orders. I have soaps as well, and… oh, just go check it out. But seriously, let me know if you’d like to support my Haiti adventure!

Mèsi anpil!

A Fun List: 2016 was nuts!

I usually make this list in my journal every year. A list of everything major that has happened this year. But I thought it would be kinda fun to share it and let you know what God has done for me this year. It’s mostly a positive list, I think, and the inclusion of any negatives helps to emphasize the positives.

So here it is. In 2016 I:

  • travelled to Haiti on a mission trip
  • moved to a new town
  • got my own apartment
  • got a new job (the featured photo is of the first tip I made!)
  • was in a wedding
  • was accepted to 3 different colleges for 3 different majors
  • resigned my job at T&S
  • asked someone out on a date
  • made a new best friend incredibly quickly (I still don’t know how that happened, Jess)
  • discovered that I can successfully run 5.5 miles
  • spoke to several churches about my Haiti experience
  • comforted a broken person
  • killed a cockroach
  • cried in front of people
  • snorkeled in the Caribbean
  • drastically improved my relationship with my family
  • read some WONDERFUL books that are still inspiring my own writing (Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – read it!)
  • enjoyed falling snow for really the first time
  • saw a movie by myself
  • supported myself 100%
  • blindly followed God, even though I didn’t have all the details, money, or a solid plan
  • told the absolute, embarrassing truth
  • wrote myself a love letter to try to combat bouts of depression
  • learned more about adoption in general, my own specifically
  • sold over 172 handmade items online and at craft fairs
  • discovered Ed Sheeran
  • did a lot of charity work for Becca’s Closet
  • said yes to helping out with Kids Church and fell in love with the little angels there
  • ventured to Grand Manan
  • cut my hair twice
  • cooked successfully for other people
  • grew emotionally closer to my besties Jenn & Jerusha
  • worked hard on my book: 16 chapters, 507 typed pages & 123,872 words to date

That’s a lot of accomplishments for one year! Seriously, I feel like I’ve never worked this hard in my life to get the things I want – no, the things I need. Above all, that is following God to fulfill His purpose for my life. And I’m doing it. I want to cry in relief. At last I’m doing it.

First blog post

I’m going to start at the beginning. Not at the beginning of my life, because that’s not where the story starts.

 

 

Since 2014, I have been trying to piece together the remnants of my broken life. Although teaching is a door that has been shut, I was never happier nor felt more fulfilled than when I was helping my students. To them I became mentor, counselor, chaperone, accountant, tutor, motivational speaker, and so much more. I have realized through all of this that God is calling me to help His people. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This verse in Philippians rang true for me twice in the past year when I travelled to Haiti. We stayed at the Wesleyan Church’s compound on the island of La Gonave, where we repaired, painted, and cleaned a pharmacy, painted roofs, and repaired shade structures for the adjacent hospital. Last year was an eye opener, but this year was a chance for me to bond with my team and see more of the beautiful country and its people. When I came home from my second mission trip to Haiti, my heart felt anew the sentiment that had awoken last year: I belong to God. I belong to His people. That is my calling. And a conversation with someone dear to me solidified that. 

As a result, I applied for the Bachelor of Social Work program at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. It was such a risk for me to take. I had little money saved up, as I used most of it to pay off previous school loans, and very few living supplies. I prayed about it it and asked God to show me the way. I applied to UMPI on June 6; I was accepted on June 9. I looked at apartments on August 24-25; I signed a lease on the 26th. I applied for a job on August 24 and went in for an interview on the 26th; I was hired in 20 minutes. I’m not bragging about my victories, I assure you. I am simply praising God for showing me so quickly and clearly the path I need to take.

Now I have seized the opportunity to return to La Gonave in a longer term than I have before. My goal is to spend the month of June on the island assisting Nurse Susie in whatever capacity I can. As I previously mentioned, I don’t have all the details yet, as the devastation wrought by Hurricane Matthew has taken rightful precedence. But I will post updates as they come.

Thank you to everyone who has been involved in some way or another in this journey with me. Thanks to Jenn and Sean for always being there for me, whether it was opening your home to me or helping me move. Thanks to my family for loving me. Thank you to the Haiti Mission Team (Eddie, Jerusha, Wayne, Colby & Big Rhonda, Carrie, Janice, Clay, Big Mo, Arthur, Terry, Kevin, Andy, Lacey, Laurie, Scott, and Carlene!); you guys were such an integral part of my journey. Thank you, T&S Market, for teaching me to stand up for myself. Thank you to Suzi and Lacey M for supporting me, making fun of me, and playing cards with me. Thanks to Jess for running, laughing, and doing that stanky leg with me.

Just THANK YOU EVERYBODY!