As I have been sharing what God is doing, a lot of people have been asking "When did this start?" and "How did you decide to do this?". I am sure it was born in a million little ways and the Albert Family or Father Louis may have a different story to share at some point...but here is mine. Enjoy :)
My first time in Haiti was the day I graduated college (literally, I went from my commencement to finish moving out of my apartment to the airport). I got off the plane to my new home for the next 2 months completely unsure of what to expect. That summer I came to love the beautiful culture and joy-filled, generous people. I made incredible friends, and grew in countless ways. It was also during that summer that I was hired to teach 5th grade in Atlanta, Georgia! I left Haiti at the end of July to go set up my new classroom and move to the South. I think it is safe to say at that time that I had no inkling that in 2 years I would be preparing to do the opposite.
Fast forward to March of last year. I had been teaching my 5th graders all year and LOVING it. Over my spring break, I decided to go back to Haiti for a visit. The minute I landed I felt so much peace and was overjoyed to be reunited with people who had grown to hold such a special place in my heart. It was during this week that God started to reveal that He had something else in store.
Her name was Medjina. She was 11...the same age as my 5th grade students back in Georgia. Her mom was busy talking about her latest doctors appointment with one of the missionaries at the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization. I motioned Medjina over and opened my notebook. In my broken creole, I invited her to write with me. After a few words and some nervous looks I understood that she did not know how to write or read. It was then explained to me that she did not go to school because her mother could not afford to send her.
In that moment, my heart broke... and in that place of heartbreak, I knew that God was stirring up something new.
Medjina coyly came over to me looking at my notebook and pen with interest. I asked if she wanted to try and with a shy nod she reached for the pen. We traced letters and giggled. She would whisper to me what she wanted to write (Medjina wants coffee, the doctor). In hindsight, it was very small. Just a 10 minute encounter that settled in my heart. This moment confirmed for me that a desire I had begun to feel to live in Haiti as a teacher was real and was something God wanted me to pray about.
There is a lot more to this story beyond that small amount of time with Medjina. That week contained many inspired and excited conversations and sharing of prayers with the missionaries who were needing a school for their children. I asked the Lord to make it clear to me if this was a desire He intended to fulfill and then surrendered it to Him. He responded through my encounter with Medjina which was then followed by months of waiting and praying. This has been a beautiful journey to be a part of and it is only just now starting!