Stickers for Solar Power!

After daily struggles with generators, inverters, batteries, and our electricity not lasting throughout the school day, we have decided to take advantage of our nearly always hot & sunny days and switch to solar power! We use electricity to run our fridge (keeping our weekly market purchases fresh and safe from critters), lights, and fans. We are so excited about moving to a more sustainable and reliable form of energy!

The cost to purchase all the materials & to install will be $3,500. Help us to cover that cost and in return, we would love to send you a sticker! Just indicate what sticker(s) you would like and we will mail your way! 

Sticker Choices:

A. Pink Mèsi Bondye Mèsi (thank you God thank you)

B. Teal Bondye Bon (God is good)

C. White Reveye logo 

D. Black Mèsi Bondye Mèsi 

Thank you to Lexy Popa for taking these photos for us! 

 

 

 

Home Sweet Haiti- Year 2 Begins!

I’ve been back in Haiti for about a month now and WOW God has been doing lots of work both at the school and in my heart. I wanted to take a minute to share with you some of the glory stories and ways He has been moving in this mission. It constantly blows my mind that I am the one who gets to see and witness so many of the glory stories everyday, but it is NOT because of me that they are happening. It is all because of the Lord’s providence and others generosity in supporting this mission. It would be unfair to keep it to myself. 


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Transitions are not always my jam and after being in my American home for over 2 months I was a mixture of excited and nervous to return to my Haitian home. I missed my friends and community, but I was sad to think of leaving my family and friends in the States. Would my creole come back to me? Did I have what was needed for this year? I was honestly so exhausted by the end of last year that I was just praying the Lord would provide me strength and zeal for the start of year 2. I knew the Lord was going to be doing a lot of NEW. My parents, who are honestly the coolest kindest people I know, came with me to help bring 8 packed bags of school supplies and clean and set up the classroom. It was a whirlwind of week as we got everything set up, reconnected with our staff and school families and prepared to start school the following week. 

 

When I returned to the base, the other American missionaries that I live with (LifeTeen missionaries) were not back yet from their summer break. For three weeks I was the only English speaker at the base. This time was SO good for me. I was stretched a lot. Things that I normally would have asked for help on, I had to do on my own. It was so good for me to have moments to be stretched and either figure it out on my own, or lean into the Haitian community around me to help, rather than the comfort of my fellow American missionaries. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me strengthen other relationships that I otherwise maybe wouldn’t have leaned into. I am so thankful for this time of growth and independence.

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I have been learning a LOT already in this second year of Haiti missions. From the very start, my prayer and dream was for our school and ministry to be Haitian run… not dependent on an American to function. This felt like a long term far off goal and I have been pleasantly surprised to see the Lord has started to put this into place much quicker then I imagined. His ways are not our own and sometimes He asks us to do things before we are quite ready for them. For me, it has been asking me to release control. 

This has been beautiful and it is what I want… but that is not to say it hasn’t been challenging as well. I have had to cling to humility frequently in this first month back, release control, and recognize that it is okay for someone to do something differently than I would have done it AND in many ways they are doing it better than I could. I have literally had the Lord tell me multiple times in prayer- this other person can fill this role better than you can. Let them. H-U-M-I-L-I-T-Y.

One of my friends sent me this quote about leadership. “Leadership is about influence, not control.” Boom. That completely describes the place I have been growing in recently. The Lord has been taking these areas that last year were MINE and asking me to give them to someone else. It is a struggle because while has been and is my dream for it to be in the hands of the Haitians, it is still not easy to release control of something you have loved and prayed for and nurtured and exhausted yourself with for over a year. 

Let me walk you through this struggle. 

Our new staff!

Our new staff!

For months and months last year I was confident that the Lord was going to be providing another teacher to help me this year. There were several awesome American missionaries I was praying with and as each person discerned another direction and the door closed, I was at peace about their decision, but still confused on when and how the Lord was going to come through. In my prayer He had made it clear He would send someone. I kept praying and waiting. About three weeks before coming back to Haiti, He provided… just not at all how I thought He would. This year we have a Montessori trained teacher, Marc-Talie, from Port-au-Prince who moved here to teach with me. 

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Y’all. She has been such a gift! She is incredible! But like I said, the Lord has been majorly humbling me, and it has not been easy to release control. The first day as we set up the classroom together there were a few things she wanted to change. I had to go back to my room and cry for a few minutes before coming back with a smile and releasing my way in exchange for hers. I knew by stepping aside, even though it wasn’t easy, it would empower her to pour herself into this role this year. Each time I give up some of my little desires, the Lord blesses it. She is so good with the children, and they love her. The Lord is literally like “See how much better this is?!” She is Haitian! She speaks Creole! And is teaching the children French which is culturally so important. She has so many gifts that I could never possess in this role and I can honestly say is doing such a better job then I could have with our new enlarged class of 19 students this year. 

And, in His wisdom and mercy, I can see how the Lord is using things like my health to help speed along this process of me surrendering my hold. I have been sick on and off over the past few weeks having to miss several days of school because I have been in bed or at the clinic. While last year this would have meant school was canceled, this year it means trusting in the people He has provided to run the school day without me there (and they did awesome! I wasn’t even missed!)

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After realizing the gift this was and moving aside I began to question,  well, if I am meant to step aside in many ways from being the main classroom teacher… what IS my role supposed to be? This year we have a new room for Catechesis, a beautiful answer to a prayer. I really really love the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program that we spent nearly all last year setting up, translating into Creole and launching in the community. I grasped onto this. I could fully dive into and teach Catechesis! I loved it! This would be my space. After self appointing myself for this role and starting to move in this direction, I felt the Lord speak to me and say this was not where I was meant to be. Uh WHAT? He shared that He had someone who could do it better than me (again with the humility). I was slightly sad to give up that desire, but also truly joyful because He put the name of someone else on my heart. Mitsy is a new missionary who just moved to our base. She is an amazing intelligent woman, mother of two boys, worship leader, and all around incredible human. I love her to pieces and she has SO many gifts. I had been praying about if there was a spot at the school to invite her into. After speaking with her and praying together, she now works part-time for us at school as our catechesis teacher! She just started last week and the children LOVE her! 

"To take whatever He gives, and give whatever He takes with a big smile." -St. Teresa of Calcutta

Despite the Lord “taking” from me, He is showing me the gift that it is, and giving me the grace of joy in giving it back to Him. After last year being overwhelmed and trying to juggle a million roles, the Lord is doing so much new. This year I am able to focus on loving the children in front of me, teaching them the best I can, influencing my staff to lead on their own (something that I really love), and managing the day-to-day school operations. There are also several goals that I have had for the future of our school to best set us up for success for coming years; goals that last year I had no time to even consider. This year, the Lord is making space for me to do that. He is so wise & good. I can’t wait to see what else is to come. I can’t wait to see what He will do in this space He is clearing and can’t wait to see Him work in the new people He has brought into our mission.

In other news, I am in AWE that I get to be the one first hand witnessing so many beautiful glory stories. This has been blowing my mind!! I have been able to witness peoples’ very lives being changed, and I am the one that they are thanking, when it is not me at all! It is only through what the Lord is doing and through the generosity of others that this ministry is able to operate at all. 

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One of these was my two assistants and very dear friends, Rana and Ti Malen, going to start their school year. They are living several hours away for the next 10 months being trained as Montessori teachers. It was a whirlwind getting them packed, ready, and sending them off. I immediately was missing their friendship and presence in town and at school. A few days after they left, Rana called me to talk. She said she had been trying to get ahold of me and sounded very urgent. I thought something may be wrong… but she was only calling to thank me. I had tears in my eyes as she shared with me how grateful she was for the opportunity; how because of me her life had changed, how she was so grateful for the gift this year would be. She was in awe of what the Lord is now doing in her life and thanking ME for helping to make it happen.

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Another glory story was that we needed a place for our new teacher Marc-Talie to live. After discussing a few options we decided to rent a nearby house from a friend of ours. The only problem was that He did not have a bathroom in the house. Through the Lord’s providence we were able to quickly install a septic tank, water tower, and fully functioning bathroom into his home. In exchange He is letting us live in the home for three years. This is such a glory story because this is something that would have taken him years and years to save for on his own, but something he desired to work toward that will greatly benefit him and his family. Now he has a bathroom and water tower to bless his family for years to come. We signed a contract with him, and the pride and joy in his smile was contagious. He was beyond thrilled to hand the keys over to us and give Marc-Talie a beautiful welcome. It is amazing to see small yet very significant ways this mission is impacting the greater community. 

 

Meanwhile, my heart is wonderfully happy to be back in Haiti. I can’t really describe my life here. It is simple, it is rich, it is radical, it is adventurous and fun, it is challenging, it is mundane, it is spectacular. It is the hardest thing and the best thing. It is exactly where I am supposed to be right now. I am constantly in awe of how much the Lord knows my heart, that He would bring me here… choose this setting to pursue my heart. Give me the GIFT of this season of uncertainty, challenge, and overwhelming joy. Also, I find it beautiful that in His wisdom He brought me here to bring me closer to Himself. How loved I am to be able to grow in virtue in this way… to suffer in small ways but knowing it is helping me to grow to be as holy as the Lord desires for me to be. To have no choice but to lean into Him. Ugh. Sometimes people think I am incredibly holy because I am a missionary in a foreign country. I am far far from it. I truly feel it is because of how far I am from holiness that the Lord had to pull me away from so many things of the world and bring me here to Haiti to have me know Him and love Him. Pray for me! I have so many areas in which to grow. 

 

One last thought, I promise! 

I am constantly being asked from people how long I will be here, when I will come home, what next year will look like. It can really make me lose my peace to get swept up in thinking about the unknown future. For now, I am living as much in the present moment as possible. It is overwhelming for me to think about how long God will have me stay here in Haiti… especially because the Lord is clearly moving things along quickly here. I look to the future and I can get easily lost in the months that are unknown. I have no idea how long am I meant to be here, or when I will know it is time to step away. I have no idea what the lord will call me to next. To be honest, I get a little fearful of choosing wrong. Of staying longer than I’m meant too, or leaving before my time is up. Jesus is teaching me surrender & abandonment. “Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything.” He is teaching me peace and presence. I am choosing to just be fully where my feet are, knowing this is where the Lord has me right now, trusting in Him, and praying that when He asks me for something different I will have the courage to respond Yes


Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged ...Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected ...Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything...Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

AMEN.

 

 

Year One-almost done?!

I am sitting on the beautiful beach that is my backyard, after an early morning sunrise run reflecting on this past year. As I watch the fishermen go by in their boats I am in disbelief that it is already June and the last week of school! This first year of teaching in Haiti has absolutely flown by, and while I am very much ready for a break, I don't know if I'm fully ready to have my first year of teaching in Haiti come to an end!

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To describe this year... wow. Where to begin? I was stretched so much in ways that I am still processing! There were many challenges and celebrations, and I truly wouldn't change a single thing.

Personally, the Lord has been moving mountains in my heart and drawing me deeper and deeper to Him than I ever thought possible. From the scary bold leap of faith to initially move here, to the daily joys and struggles of living on mission in a developing country. Between being stripped of my normal daily comforts and having to rely on the Lord daily, to living amongst such heart breaking poverty, to embracing a missionary community and their rule of life and rhythm of prayer. God has been abundantly good to me. A friend of mine described missions in Haiti as a "pressure cooker for virtue" and how true it is! If I am authentically praying and being obedient, then I have no choice but to grow in virtue, everything else is choked out! I feel like I am being broken down and remade new in a very slow intentional way. Even though there are some days when I feel ready to quit and come home, I am so thankful for the gift of this call and for this challenging beautiful life.

As far as my role in the school (not sure the title of teacher quite captures it), every single day held a learning moment this year. How humbling to constantly be learning a new lesson. Most of the year, I felt like I was in survival mode, a constant state of being overwhelmed. The beauty of that place is that I have no option to rely on my own strength and thus am forced to rely on the Lord.

This year, I had my fair share of mistakes, from accidentally offending someone because of my lack of cultural understanding to constantly making a fool of myself in my lack of Creole skills--the list goes on. At times I was discouraged knowing no matter how hard I try and how long I live here, I will never fully understand this culture or language. Some days I cried at how slowly I was learning the language, or how frustrating it was to constantly be taking one step forward and two steps back. Other days I saw photos of my friends' lives in America and thought... what am I doing here? I battled with the fear of how I will one day go back to America and try to be "normal". And the challenge of feeling like I don't quite fit in in either place. And yet with all of that there has been an underlying peace, freedom, and true JOY. My heart has come alive. In all of my weakness and messiness and failing, there is a quiet strength growing that is beautiful.

Thankfully, I have slowly begun to understand family dynamics and daily life and education in this small Haitian village. I can't begin to tell you all the funny sentences I have said and thought & the hilarious situations I have been in this year that I never would have imagined. I need to start writing them all down because at least once a day I stop and think, "what is my life!?" Because it is so NOT normal. While a tendency of mine is to feel like my "real life" is on hold while I am in Haiti on mission, the Lord has been prompting me not to do that. This, although a bit odd and different, is my real life, and it is a good one. I have been trying to invest into life here outside of the school day in small ways like finding hobbies, such as joining the choir or going on runs, making friends, setting boundaries, and practicing self care. It is an ongoing balance of trying to be present here while also staying connected to my family and friends back home. And it is the most challenging feeling in the world to have your heart in two places at once.

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I know the Lord wants me to be here right now and is pleased with my desire to be faithful, even if at times I don't feel successful. He has been showing me such beautiful fruit that has already begun to grow. Over the past year, a school community was formed in which nine sweet children were brought together to learn and laugh and grow. They were taken in and loved and cared for in all their silliness and smiles, and their sicknesses and hardships. I have seen such growth and new life in these children that was not there when the school year began.  We have journeyed with their families, built up a school staff, and unleashed opportunities for adults in our community to have a path to help them provide for their families. We have reached countless more children on the streets and in their homes and shared with them the love of the Good Shepherd through after school neighborhood catechesis. The fruit is continuing to come to life and I'm holding on to that truth!  

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Amidst all that goodness, the past few months have been full of prayer of what is next for Reveye.  Asking the Lord what He desires and seeing what doors He opens and closes. In my prayer I've been voicing both really bold prayers and very small humble ones. Despite there still being many uncertainties, I feel total peace that Reveye is moving in the direction it is meant to. The Lord is slowly unveiling what He has in store for next year and it is really really good.

This past month I have had several opportunities to share the story of Reveye with visitors and new missionaries. It has been so good for my heart to share all that the Lord has done with and through Reveye thus far. I am constantly reminded anew of all the ways the Lord has provided up until now, so why get anxious about what is next?  I know He will keep providing in abundance. God is so good and is comforting me in all of the uncertainty.

There are some things beginning to take shape and what we think we DO know....

  • We will be having a LOT more students in our school this fall! Yesterday was inscription day, which was just shared by word of mouth, and we had people lined up for hours to sign up. So far, we have had 37 applications!! This is a little unreal for me to think about, especially considering our small start of just 9 students this first year. What an encouraging confirmation that our school is filling a need for this community. Most of the parents who came to sign up their children were unable to read or write so we sat with them and read them the school expectations, and filled out the application with them. We are still praying about how many and which students we will be able to accept.
  • We will be sending my two teacher assistants to a year long training program in Liancourt, Haiti. They will graduate next July and will then return to our school as certified Montessori teachers! It is beautiful to think this is an opportunity that neither of them would have had, yet because of the school they now have an exciting path unfolding for them.
  • We will be hiring at least two new teacher assistants for next year. We have already hired one and I have been prayerfully "interviewing" (this looks quite different in Haiti) to decide who else will join our staff. Again, I feel so grateful that I am able to offer a job to people who otherwise would not have one. This is a fruit of Reveye that I had never even considered but the Lord is blessing it and providing.
  • Our catechesis program will be growing in big ways, although the details are still moving and shifting. I am personally so excited about the direction I feel this taking!

There are several other exciting prayers in the works that I will share as they take shape! For now, I am living into this last week of the school year, preparing for our kids summer camp next week, and then receiving the gift of spending my summer break at home; something I had not originally planned to do but for which I am grateful. Please pray for me to be docile to the Spirit and open to whatever the Lord wants to do with Reveye. Pray for me as I go home, for it to be a time of restoration and fullness and preparation for another year on mission in Haiti. I am unceasingly grateful for the prayers, support, encouragement, and accompaniment that people from all over have been showering upon this mission and upon me.

Mèsi Bondye Mèsi!

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Nana

Many of you have been following my many posts on my personal Facebook about my sweet girl Nana and her health journey, but I wanted to share it in its entirety because it truly is a beautiful story of the redemptive work that the Lord is doing in Haiti. I am so incredibly GRATEFUL for the ways the Lord has been moving and for the fact that I get to witness it and share it with others. 

Within the first week of moving to Haiti I met sweet Nana. Her dad had helped out with some of the school construction which was how she came to be registered for our school. She had never been to school before. Her mom had died when she was just a baby and her 16 year old sister looked after her. On the first day of school she hardly spoke at all and did not smile once, until lunch time! She was ravenous and everyday would immediately want to eat a snack upon arriving at school and would finish two heaping plates of lunch. During the first week of school we noticed her ear was quite infected (won’t go into details here but it wasn’t pretty). We took her home and her dad said he had taken her to the doctor before and they couldn’t do anything. 

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A few weeks into the school year we noticed she was not being cared for. She would come to school with a dirty uniform and her hair not done, or sometimes not come to school till much later because no one was available to walk her. Her older sister had a newborn baby several months prior, so she was not able to care for Nana like she once was. Both my heart, and my classroom assistant (and Haitian bestie) Ti Malen’s heart were breaking for her. No one would come to pick up little Nana from school so most days I would walk her home. Upon arriving at her house her dad would call after me “Take her, I don’t want to care for her. She is your child now!” I would laugh it off, give her a kiss goodbye, but inside my heart was breaking knowing this child was not being cared for as she deserved to be. Even though her father loved her, he was not able to provide for her as a father should. 

After several weeks of this I could not get Nana out of my mind. This was a time full of tearful conversations to my parents, lots of on my knees prayer, googling adoption processes in Haiti, and begging the Lord to show us what to do. During this time, my assistant came to me one night. Her heart had been stirred by the same heartache as mine. She shared that she wanted to care for Nana. This 24 year old girl had just graduated high school the summer prior, she lives in a small two room house with her large family, and yet she wanted to give of herself to take in and love this sweet child. I rejoiced knowing my prayers were answered and that this was the best situation for now. 

It was such a victory knowing that now Nana was being cared for and was much happier. She came to school clean, on time, and she had Ti Malen’s whole family loving on her, as well as some more friends around her age to play with that lived in the same circle of houses. It was at this time that we noticed that Nana’s health was not good. Despite her eating breakfast and lunch at school everyday, she had not gained any weight. She had an irregular heartbeat, would get out of breath very quickly, and eventually started coughing and throwing up several times a day. For weeks we took her to clinics and doctors in the area. We were constantly having doctors not show up for appointments, or simply prescribing vitamin c and an antibiotic. She started getting a really high fever every afternoon to the point where after lunch most days she would crawl into my lap and just cry and fall asleep for the rest of the school day. Leaving to go back to America for Christmas break was one of the hardest things. I couldn’t bear leaving Nana behind and knowing that if only she could come with me she would get some decent healthcare and some answers. 

God is faithful though because in January, my dad was able to connect me with probably the best pediatric hospital in Port au Prince, Saint Damiens. Father/Doctor Rick Frachette is an American Passionist priest who has been living in Haiti for nearly 30 years (check out his incredible book, The God of Tough Places) serving at this hospital he created. He has done incredible work in Haiti and my family got to know him through their support of Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos. 

After several emails back and forth we had a tentative appointment and were able to catch a ride to the hospital at 3am. Ti Malen, Nana and myself walked up to the receptionist and asked for the doctor we were scheduled to see, but were told that she had gone home for the day, but if we waited, we may be able to get into urgent care. We sat down, a little disheartened and  I scrambled through my emails to see if there was a phone number I could call. Because we had left so early, we arrived at the hospital right when it opened, and I had remembered that they had daily mass at 7am. I asked where Father Rick was and they said he was celebrating mass. So, although we were a little late, went to the chapel and sat at the back for the end of mass, when we grabbed Father Rick and quickly introduced ourselves and asked if there was anything he could do. Praise the Lord, because he had a group of doctors and medical students from America who were visiting. Within 5 minutes we were in his office, with a wonderful English speaking doctor (Shoutout to Dr. Chris!) who quickly diagnosed her, called up some X-rays, and gave us a treatment plan. After so many months of worrying, uncertainty, and seeing her get progressively worse she was finally given answers!! (We found out later that this was a total God thing as well--this team of doctors was not supposed to be there this morning but due to a last minute change of plans, they were there at the same time as us. God is so good.)

We found out that Nana had quite advanced tuberculosis, as well as malnourishment. They admitted her to the hospital just a few days later where she was to stay for two months of her six month treatment. Ti Malen moved there with her, staying there with her the entire time, sleeping on the floor next to her hospital bed every night, and caring for her- talk about a living saint. I was able to visit most weekends, which sometimes consisted of a four hour drive in each direction for a quick 10 minutes, but it was completely worth it. She improved quite quickly and after about a week on oxygen she was much less lethargic and had new energy. She had a few complications as a result of the tuberculosis, including a bad ear infection and facial paralysis. She still needs to continue her treatment, but as of TODAY she is back in our town of Madian and will be able to come back to school!! She surprised us at lunch and my heart burst with joy seeing her out of her hospital room, healthier and happier. 

There are too many beautiful parts of this story to fully share, so many ways that the Lord has been working in Nana’s life, so many people He has been witnessing to of His beautiful and healing love. Thank you for all of those who have been her prayer warriors, who have donated to help cover her medical costs, who have sent words of encouragement, or donated childrens movies to keep her entertained in the hospital. 

I am fully convinced that if I uprooted my life and moved to Haiti, just for this one little girl, then it was all completely worth it. She has stolen my heart and the Lord has saved her life. This is the story of Nana and thanks be to God, it is just getting started.

Bòn Fèt!!!

God is so good because today we celebrated the first anniversary of our feast day for our school Acadèmie Notre Dame à Madian! It was a really beautiful and special day and I was moved in ways I was not expecting, so I want to briefly share some of the beauty! 

Feast days are a big deal in Haiti and when we started the school year I picked February 11th, Our Lady of Lourdes. Not going to lie, I initially picked this day largely because looking at the calendar a February feast day seemed ideal.  But also, St. Bernadette is my confirmation saint AND I traveled to Lourdes in June 2015 and prayed for the intention of our school while I was there. The more I thought about it, the more perfect this day became for our little Notre Dame school. 

As the feast drew near I was not looking forward to all of the work that needed to go into organizing it... informing and inviting families and guests, scheduling a priest, decorating the church, finding a choir to sing, making arrangements for the food, and preparing a mini concert for the children. Our classroom community right now is small in size due to two of our students being away in America while their new baby brother was born, and another student undergoing treatment in a hospital in Port Au Prince while my assistant stays there with her. It felt like a lot of work to do for just our little class of 6 students. I went through waves of wanting to cancel or reschedule but thanks to LOTS of help and encouragement we plowed ahead and I am so thankful we did. 

This morning we had a beautiful mass in which Father Yves, the vicar of education in our diocese, came to celebrate for our community. I first met Father Yves when I came to Haiti in November 2015 to talk with him about opening a school. He is an incredible priest and has been a big support to us. He led the church in singing "Bondye renmen tout timoun yo" (God loves all of the children) and prayed a special blessing over all of the students. 

I was surprised when it came time for the Gospel as it was not the reading I was expecting but instead was The Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11). I am little impressed with myself that I was able to understand the Gospel in Creole and most of the homily! I could not help but smile right away because this Gospel has continually come up in my prayer. I went to mass in New York last year and heard an incredible homily on this very Gospel. The basic premise of the homily was how the servants obeyed what Jesus told them to do, and as a result, the miracle happened. The homily itself wasn't revolutionary but the words from it stuck with me after the mass ended. The prerequisite to miracles and joy is doing whatever He tells you! The servants actions opened themselves up to the sovereignty of God, to his power and his kingship, and as a result the water was turned into wine. The priest said wine is the symbol of joy and because the servants were open to obeying what Jesus said, they became participants in the miracle, not just recipients. Talk about a beautiful message especially in light of all that the Lord has done with our little school in Haiti over the past year. At this time last year our school was still a cloudy prayer just starting to take shape. We kept praying and listening and trying our very best to be obedient, and because of that, the miracle and the joy followed. 

Couple that homily from last year with what Father Yves shared today (and of what I understood in Creole). He urged us to do as Mary says and to "to do whatever he tells you." Father Yves too talked about the miracle both of our Lady of Lourdes, of the wedding at Cana, and of our little school opening here in Madian, Haiti. I pray that moving forward we may always do whatever it is that Jesus says, be obedient, and as a result be participants in the miracle and receive the joy! My heart was filled with joy as I was surrounded by my students in Haiti praying with the same message I had received and been impacted by one year prior.

After the mass ended, everyone was invited to the school for a little mini concert. The students sang two songs (except Sondy who got stage fright) and then invited their parents into the classroom to show them some of their favorite activities. We ended the celebration with a big and beautiful meal prepared by our awesome cooks. Tonight we are having a movie night at the school complete with a projector on the wall and popcorn for all. I love my little Haitian life :) Even in the stress of trying to figure out what all goes into a Haitian feast and get it organized in time, the Lord provided. He's so good at showing up.

Humble Homecoming

Hello friends! I finally have an afternoon where I have both the free time and the cooperating internet to get a blog posted. Thank you Lord for Sundays and random chunks of 3G! I have guilt over not blogging more, and then when it is finally time to blog I have no idea where to begin. So... I am just beginning. There are lots of gaps and things I could share about the school and my life in Haiti, but instead, a little vulnerability on the less glamorous side of foreign missions is what is coming out. 

The end of 2016 meant a nice long break at home in Georgia. While sad to leave my students in Haiti, especially not knowing if they would be healthy and fed over the Christmas break, I was looking forward to family time, American comforts, and getting to step away from the day to day of my life here to really have space to take in all that has happened over the past few months.  My family can attest to the fact that my break was anything but restful! I foolishly stretched myself wayyy too thin in my desire to see everyone and give all of my friends and family 1-on-1 time. This resulted in a stressed out version of myself that felt bad disappointing others and got extremely overwhelmed as the days of break began flying by. During my last week at home I had a breakdown and with that, a breakthrough realization that trying to please everyone was not working. I had to learn to say NO (which I hate doing), set some boundaries for myself, and protect this transition time. I was overwhelmed enough trying to process my feelings as I adjusted to life back home. I felt like a new Meagan that has been formed during the previous 3 months in Haiti was trying to fit into this old Meagan mold and the result was not good. Communicating these feelings with others, even my family, was difficult for me. I was going through some waves of cultural shock, and struggling between being both homesick for Haiti but also preparing to be homesick for my family and life in America when I left them. My heart was in two places and it was challenging for me to enjoy and be present to where I physically was. Basically, by my last week of break I was discouraged, exhausted, and felt like I had completely failed at my first visit home. 

I thought when I came back to Haiti after break I would have completed my 3 page long to-do list that had been growing over the past few months, have quality catch up time with everyone I know, and have the time and space to pray through the goals and dreams for Reveye for this upcoming year. Silly Meagan :) My trip home allowed me to grow a lot in humility and come face to face with some impossible expectations I had set for myself. Something that my roomie in Haiti and I have been talking about is limitations. We only have 24 hours in the day, and we need to eat and sleep for a good chunk of those. There is no way we can do everything we desire to both on mission here in Haiti, and back home in America…. and that is OKAY. The Lord gave us human limits for a reason. 

 “How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none.” - A W Tozer

Living in another country is not easy and there are lots of daily sacrifices, small sufferings, and crosses. However, I was not expecting that one of my challenges would be my first visit home. I really hope and pray that the next time I go home I can set more realistic expectations for myself and through that be able to love those around me a whole lot better. Despite some of the struggles of my visit home, there were MANY good things too. I had several much needed coffee dates to catch up with friends that hadn’t been possible over spotty internet the months prior, I was able to visit the school I used to teach at and visit some of my old students. They have been SO supportive of my mission and it warmed my heart. A friend hosted a Christmas fundraiser for Reveye and I had the opportunity to share some of the ways God has been moving through the mission. I went to the movies, took hot showers, ate cheeseburgers with my family, played board games with my cousins, and spent way more time then I care to admit just hugging my dogs. 

To my sweet and understanding family, you all are the best. Thanks for loving me in all my mess and showing me mercy and love. To my best friends that surprised me at the airport and made me burst into tears as you enveloped me in a huge hug, y’all rock and love me so well. I know America isn’t bad. I know coming home isn’t bad. I just gotta get better at it. Please pray for me! 

Byenvini Ayiti (Part Two) Our Little School!

Hello from Haiti! Please enjoy this long overdue look at the start of our school year. 


The best way to describe our first trimester of school is a "beautiful mess". We have very much been in the mode of figuring things out as we go, which despite my preference for order, is the nature of starting a school from scratch, and of doing almost anything in Haiti! We had students registering for school as they walked in on the first day, were borrowing kitchen equipment for a few weeks until we purchased our own, and one time had to end school early just so I could go to the bank. In between teaching, I am swept up in the random tasks of making sure we have toilet paper and enough money to go to the market that week. It has been a rollercoaster but I have loved every minute because...just look at these precious faces that I get to surround myself with! I am honored and humbled to be invited into their daily lives, their stories, their families, and their hearts.

Our first nine students! 

Our first nine students! 

Meet our little class! We are a Montessori primary classroom, which means we have students ranging from age 3 to 6, all learning side by side. In addition to that age span, we are also blending languages and cultures. My staff consists of two beautiful Haitian women who cook our daily breakfast and lunch, and two kind and big hearted classroom assistants who help me out for half of the day to manage our circus. Our students arrive at 8am, eat breakfast, and then begin their 3 hour work cycle. We end our morning by coming together to sing, read stories, or have a mini dance party (in both English and Creole) before going outside for recess and lunch. My younger students leave after lunch and the older children stay to keep working until 3pm. 

My students call me Miss Meagan (and occasionally Mom, Matant, which means Aunt, or Marenn, which means Godmother). I am their teacher, but most days I play many additional roles ranging from nurse to janitor to counselor. I have never had my heart so full or so broken as it has been these past four months. As I learn their stories, I encounter way too much suffering than should exist in the life of a little 5 year old. Yet despite that, they are full of SO. MUCH. JOY! They walk into school with smiles and they delight in almost everything from running water, to capturing a spider (happens frequently), to a new science lesson. They are curious, rambunctious, thoughtful, spontaneous, hardworking, and silly. They are learning letters and sounds, how to count, about their faith and how much the Lord loves them, geography and culture of other places, how to be courteous, colors, shapes, how to take care of themselves and their environment, and so much more! Everyday is a learning adventure and I must admit that we are having way too much fun. 

That being said, our daily life is far from glamourous. We did not have running water until a week ago so it has been a lot of toting buckets and attempting to keep our bathrooms hygienic. There are almost always distractions, such as after the hurricane when helicopters would fly overhead nearly every hour resulting in all of my students excitedly jumping out of their seats to go look up at the sky, or someone working on our roof to fix leak. There has been vomit, scraped knees, accidents, and more tears then I care to count. But mixed in with that there have been more smiles, giggles, and kisses then I could possibly count, and actual moments of learning! I have seen my students grow from never even being in a school setting before, to walking into school in the morning excited to dive into a lesson that they started the day before. I have seen a beautiful blend of the sharing of languages and culture between not only myself and my Haitian staff, but also between my Haitian students and the American missionary children. 

Even though it has been almost four months now, sometimes when I walk to school in the morning and prepare for my students to arrive I look around the classroom in disbelief at all the Lord has done and how quickly He has moved to make this happen! I promise that none of this is my doing. I am very much unqualified and unexperienced so it is only through and because of the Lord that any of this has been able to happen. I love that! I would not want it any other way. Thanks for joining us on this beautiful messy heartbreaking and joy filled journey as we seek to awaken wonder, joy, and curiosity through education in our little town. 

Stay tuned because big things are brewing for our little school and there is much in store for this year! 

Fund Our Food!!

Before our school year began I knew that we should offer lunch to our students daily. This is not something that most schools in Haiti offer, however I felt it was necessary. We are investing into their minds, we should in the same way be providing for their bodies.

Right away, we were very blessed to receive several generous donations which allowed us to kick-start our daily lunch program. We have two ladies come each day to cook and help clean, Mariannie and Islan. I have known Islan for several years. She has eight children and is very poor. Mariannie has six children. I am so glad that we are able to offer them both a steady job and source of income, a dignified way for them to provide for their families. The ladies come each morning and cook outside over a coal stovetop making rice, beans, chicken, and vegetables.

In addition to the daily lunch served at noon, I had brought a few big boxes of Cheerios with me to serve as a snack for the kids, as needed. I was amazed when after the first few days of school, the boxes were almost gone.

One of our students is a little girl who is 5 years old yet is very small and malnourished. I noticed on the first day of school that she was constantly at the snack table filling up yet another plate with Cheerios. When I would try to introduce her to a lesson or activity, she began flailing around, visibly upset and anxious. It broke my heart to realize that she was not being fed enough at home. All of her focus at school was on filling up her little body with as much food as she could. I learned that little NaNa's mother had passed away when she was a baby. She lived with her father, 15 year old sister, and the sister's newborn baby. The first week of school I refilled her heaping plate 2-3 times full of food and she still ate it all quickly and ravenously. I then sent her home with a packet of peanut butter crackers to eat on the walk home, as well as some of the extra rice left over from lunch. I prayed that as NaNa began to trust that I would always have food for her, she would be less fixated on eating and begin to engage in academics. 

Before moving to Haiti, I knew that people in Haiti are malnourished and often times do not have food, and that there is much poverty, suffering, and hunger. As I began to grow acquainted with my community it became a reality for me as I learned that I have friends who can go entire days without meals. Seeing this little 5 year old girl unable to enjoy the school day because she is so hungry, so desperate for a meal, completely broke my heart. Her hunger was preventing her from learning. While I was so happy that sweet little NaNa was able to eat a full lunch meal each day, I felt it was still not enough. I couldn't expect her to come in and get started learning when she most likely hadn’t eaten since the previous day at lunch.  

  • Close to 2/3 of the population lives on less than $2 a day.
  • One-hundred thousand children under five years of age suffer from acute malnutrition, while one in three children is stunted, or irreversibly short for their age. (source- World Food Program).
  • Less than 50% have access to safe water (I imagine this has worsened since the Hurricane).
  • 87% of the rural population of Haiti do not get the minimum daily ration of food as defined by the World Health Organization.
  • 30% of children are chronically malnourished. In the Haitian countryside you are 7x more likely to be malnourished than if you live in Port Au Prince.
  • Malnutrition =potential for permanent adverse affects on learning and behavior.
  • A large portion of food was produced in the Southwest of Haiti where the Hurricane damage was greatest, causing an impact on food availability and cost.

Almost immediately into our school year we realized we needed to expand our lunch program to include lunch AND breakfast! We now feed each child breakfast when they arrive at school, as well as a full Haitian lunch and daily multivitamin. There are many studies that show the importance of a healthy diet in children. Our prayer is that providing two nutritious meals will improve their energy, focus, and concentration.  We are tracking students weight and height (which they love checking) throughout the year to see their physical growth. 

Praise the Lord because as NaNa has started to be fed consistently she has been able to worry less about meeting her basic needs and instead is able to learn, laugh, and be joy-filled! If you are interested in supporting this program, please consider becoming a monthly mission partner. Giving a sustainable donation of just $25 a month will help us to continue providing meals for our students, as well as offering a salary for Mariannie and Islan! Our food program costs $500 to operate monthly and our goal is to fund the entire lunch program for a year.

Help for Haiti Day

I am so excited to report that my former school in Duluth, GA, Notre Dame Academy, is holding a "Help for Haiti Day" next Wed, Nov 16! They will be collecting money from students and families to help Académie Notre Dame à Madian buy some critical items. Students who donate will get to have an "Out of Uniform Day" on that day. Some key needs that have developed at our school since the hurricane that they will be helping to fund include:

  • A large water tank mounted on a concrete platform to provide us with fresh water! The pipes to our base were damaged in the hurricane and we have no running water to drink, use for preparing food, and to service our restrooms. We currently have to get buckets of water to flush our toilets and fill our water tanks. This new tank will be a tremendous blessing, but will cost approximately $3000. 
  • Industrial batteries are needed to provide electricity to the school. Our base runs a generator for a few hours each evening which can charge our batteries. By connecting our school's inverter, we can then operate our lights and ceiling fans during the school day. Some days the room has been too hot for the children to focus and the fans help keep the room at a more comfortable temperature for learning. We also hope to power a refrigerator if we can procure a total of 8 batteries. They cost $125 each.
  • A small refrigerator is needed to keep our food fresh (once we have electricity) and to protect it from rats and other critters. Académie Notre Dame à Madian now provides both breakfast and lunch to our students, since the hurricane has left some families without their farms and gardens, and we have had children arriving to school hungry. So far we have just been storing the food in my office next to our classroom. A new refrigerator will cost about $300.

I am so incredibly humbled by the support and am proud to be associated with Notre Dame Academy. Community is big and I am thankful to have you all as community supporting our mission in Haiti! Please keep us in your prayers, as I assure you are all in ours daily! 

Love, Ms. Meagan Bradford

A few of our Académie Notre Dame à Madian students in their NDA shirts!

A few of our Académie Notre Dame à Madian students in their NDA shirts!

Map Aprann Kreyol (I'm learning Creole)

I just learned that some of my old students check my blog frequently for updates and I feel bad for not providing more, so I wanted to share a quick story until I can get my longer post about the start of the school year up on the blog. 

In Haiti, people speak Haitian creole, a French/African dialect, and while not an extremely difficult language, it is a bit tricky to learn. I have slowly been getting better but still have about 10 moments a day in which I either say the wrong thing and am laughed at, or completely misunderstand the other person. Yesterday one of the Haitian missionaries told me "I haven't seen you all day" and I responded with "I am happy to hear that!" clearly not understanding what she had said to me. It is humbling to make mistakes and not understand and just part of living in a new country with a new culture and people. 

I have been praying and praying that I can learn the language quickly. I so badly want to be able to understand people when I am talking with them, and want to share life with them through language. I would love to be able to more clearly communicate with the parents of my students, with the ladies who cook at our school, with the people I live in community with. I want to understand the songs we sing at mass and be able to follow along during the 45 minute long homily! I also would really love to not have to depend on someone else to translate for me and to have to ask for help when I want to communicate something. I desire so much to know Creole right NOW and to speak it well. 

There is beauty in learning a language. It allows you to understand jokes, make someone laugh, pray with someone, and carry on a conversation to build friendship. However, I recently learned the difficult part of learning a new language... it also means that you then are able to enter into and understand the others struggle and suffering. In Haiti, there is a lot of that.  When you begin to learn the language you can no longer just smile, apologize, and say "M pa pale keryol! (I don't speak kreyol)" when someone needs something. You can no longer be ignorant whens someone tells you that they have not eaten food, or that they are sick and in pain and have no way of getting medicine. When you can understand what someone is saying to you, you are no longer blind to their pain... and while that is beautiful it is really very hard. 

The other night I was spending time with a friend of mine and we were able to have a nearly hour long conversation entirely in Creole (largely due to his patience in explaining words to me that I did not know and in grace from the Lord that allowed me to understand him). During our conversation he shared part of his life story with me. It was full of suffering. Hearing and understanding what he was saying broke my heart, and made me not enjoy my dinner, and made me struggle to fall asleep that night. I was so thankful to be able to understand and talk with him, but it was difficult to hear and process. At the end of our conversation, he was still smiling even after sharing everything he has been through. He was still holding on to hope. He was still praising the Lord.

Please pray for me as I learn Creole, please pray for those who share their stories with me. God is so present in the suffering of these people. I pray that every word I learn can be used to help me enter in to their poverty and respond with love. 

 

Mesi Bondye Mesi.