Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Haiti Art



We're in Haiti for a spring break visit and today visited two of my favorite boutiques featuring Haitian-made artisan products. Apparent Project and Haitian Creations (with a new line called Fait la Force launching this fall) were chock-full of jewelry, bags, metalwork, soaps, wall decor, stuffed animals, and pottery.

Apparent Project was a hive of activity, with over 250 artisans working to create beads and throw pottery. There was a group experimenting with batik patterns on dyed cloth using wax. Another group was tapping out designs on tin hearts likely recycled from giant oil drums. They've expanded to include a cafe with fresh fruit smoothies as well as a library. Upstairs I watched a lady stringing green and gold beads. It felt good to chat briefly in Kreyol; it's not lost! One of AP's founders, Corrigan, opened a new shop called Ayiti Ink for his tattoo business. So much growth since we left in June!

In the same building with Ayiti Ink is The Irish Embassy, Haiti's one and only Irish pub. Baby Grace made use of the giant carved pulpit to deliver her first sermon. 

Over in Tabarre, Haitian Creations is working on sample products in anticipation of their new line launching this fall. Chandler is particularly expanding into handbags made of a soft, supple leather that looks like something off the Baggu website.

We attended chapel today and saw our former student, Timothy, share his testimony. Stories about his childhood in Nigeria and his German parents were touching.

We attended pizza dinner and Bible study at the Grahams' house with 20 or so teachers, then took the long trek up Montaine Nwa to stay tonight with  John and Jodie. Now I'm falling asleep to the distinctly Haitian combo of tree frogs and the hum of inverter batteries...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Return of the Kilpatricks


We're back! Sweaty as ever, Ben and I are back in action in the Ayiti. Our primary purposes are to love on our friends & students as well as help at TeacHaiti. Today was spent at Quisqueya.

The school is now purple, our beloved juniors have now received college acceptances, and basically everybody had a baby. In our first 24 hours I accidentally attended a La Leche League meeting (and stayed just to be with my friends and their new babies) and we dropped in to our old friend Eagle Market for a $5 bag of pretzels. When we checked out, my name still printed on the receipt... I stood in the hall during the passing period at 11:00 and kissed basically every kid in the high school. "Miss, you're shorter!" "No, hon, you're taller!" We visited home ec class and saw my discipleship girls whip up fried mozzarella as the guys tried to master the sewing machines. I saw an 18-year-old guy rip out a seam that wasn't right. Lunch was white fish and green sauce with a heap of pikliz. I bought a lunch ticket for the first time ever. New school rule- all water, no Kool Aid. Ben sat in on Bible class and I peeked in Jodie's Kindergarten class on the first day of the new unit on African animals. The seniors were having a parent meeting about their upcoming trip, so I got to hug several moms with whom I've spent many hours. We ran into Madame Meristel, our former housekeeper. She asked specifically about my friend who had cancer last year. She said she's continued to pray for her. Josiah's dreads are gone, Stephanie's engaged, Nathaniel is married...

Everything is just the same. Except for all the differences.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Snow Day

Ice storm, no school.
 Not our baby- stolen for snuggling from a dear friend.
 World's cutest tree topper.
 Pinch me- I live here?
 Our frosty neighborhood.



23 in Dallas.
84 in Port-au-Prince.

Love, Katie

Friday, August 2, 2013

Money News

44 months. That's how long we've lived on other people's gifts.

Mostly of my Southern girlfriends hate receiving gifts. We say, "you shouldn't have" and we mean it- cause now we've got to write a cursive thank-you card within the next 29 minutes!

Imagine all your livelihood coming straight from other people's debit cards.

It's humbling. Why would people be so generous? How could God be so good to us, such a faithful provider? How could my friends, whose finances I know are tight, be so sacrificial? Not to mention the total strangers!

It's guilt-bringing. I am not worth it, seriously. Does no one sees what hot messes we are? Have they been fooled into believing we're extra-holy angels? Am I using this money correctly? I hope they won't judge me when they see my French manicure- it was a gift from my mom, I swear!

It's embarrassing. Asking for money is the WORST. You feel like a burden, a leech, indebted and the worst sin for an American: a failure at our prized virtue of independence.

It's faith-producing. God has literally brought tens of thousands of dollars out of nowhere- often from the people we'd least expect. He provided. Everything just in time, just enough.

We even were able to give 40% of our support money directly to ministry in Haiti, which was a wild and unrealistic dream at best. We've written fat checks to TeacHaiti, and built a roof for Madame Meristel, and given to the Heartline maternity clinic and prenatal health care program. All with your money. That part rocks, I've got to say.

I wish I could write all our supporters' names down. You would be so blessed by the stories. I will treasure those people all my life.

We asked our supporters to continue through August, as three months following the end of field work is considered the standard. Almost everybody has. We are so grateful. I can't even say.

Now I ask for one more thing. Would you consider not ending your giving to mission work, but transferring it?

Ministries in Haiti I Trust and Love:
  • TeacHaiti
    Imagine your kids are hungry and you live in a tent. What if the only schools around required tuition fees? Almost 300 kids from Haiti's poorest population are in school now because of their TeacHaiti sponsors. For $35 a month you can put a kid in school for a year, providing tuition, uniforms, books, supplies, shoes, innoculations, and daily hot lunches. On Saturdays an art program feeds kids and teaches them to make jewelry, paintings, and carvings. About 100 of the kids in K-6 attend the TeacHaiti School of Hope, at which I've spend many a happy day reading and playing in the lime green classrooms. Of all our time at TeacHaiti, you can read about my favorite day here or Ben's favorite day here.
  • Heartline
    • Maternity Program
      From conception to six months after birth, women and babies are given excellent, free medical care including weekly classes that feature doctor checkups, high-nutrition meals, and training on subjects like breastfeeding, baby care, and prenatal health. They are invited to deliver their babies in a safe, clean birthing room attended by Haitian and American midwives and nurses. If trouble arises, Heartline has an ambulance that can rush women to local hospitals. I blogged about my first visit to Heartline here, and then I went back a second time to help deliver a baby (a top life moment right there!).
    • Haitian Creations
      Simply put, most "orphans" in Haiti have living, loving parents. However, those parents lack income. Haitian Creations employs ladies to make adorable bags, jewelry, wall decor, and other items that will provide enough income to raise and educate the ladies' children. I blogged about my visit to the Haitian Creations boutique and workshop here.
  • Apparent Project
    Just like Haitian Creations above, Apparent Project believes in empowering parents to raise their own kids well. Their artisans' guild has hundreds of Haitians employed, and their products are selling everywhere from Donna Karen's Urban Zen shops to the Disney store. They have a large array of jewelry, glasswork, pottery, cloth dolls, metal wall art, and more. Their headquarters in Port-au-Prince employs even more people as boutique clerks and staff of the library, smoothie shop, and massage area.
Missionaries Around the World I Trust and Love:
  • The F Family in South Asia
    Mom, Dad, and their four kids work at an undisclosed location in South Asia. Through discipling and training local pastors, the church is growing and being led by nationals.
  • Anna in England
    Anna is a pastor to college students in the huge university town of Leeds. With tens of thousands of international students, often from closed countries, there is huge opportunity for relational evangelism.
  • Michelle in the Middle East
    Michelle works for an organization that provides lifesaving medical care for children as well as training of local doctors and nurses.

    To contact these three, please email me at benandkatieinhaiti@gmail.com and I will put you in touch.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. To God be all the glory.

Katie

Saturday, July 27, 2013

What I Miss The Most About Haiti

Here we are, home again. We went to children's camp, on family vacation to Jamaica, and have attended approximately 234098 hours of teacher certification classes.

People keep asking how I'm doing with the transition back to Texas. It would make sense that I'd be experiencing some grief. But you know, there's really only one thought about Haiti that makes me really sad.

It's the first day of school.

In a few weeks Quisqueya teenagers will bounce back down the mountain or wind their ways through the nameless streets of the capital of Haiti. They'll come through the gates onto the dusty drive-through. They'll kiss the cheeks of every single person they pass as they crunch on the gravel and survey the green soccer field, be it five or fifty, on their way to the secondary building. They'll stand on the steps under the mahogany tree, or sit on the cement half-wall next to the little grove of palms meant to hide the electrical boxes. There are two cement picnic tables build around tree trunks, and the ground is rough cobbled stones (note to new people: do not attempt in heels).

The teachers will be mingling outside the first day, meeting new kids. Everywhere you look will be cheek kissing and sparkling white new polo shirts. The teachers will blow their whistles (no bell system due to lack of 24/7 electricity), and everybody will walk down the cement steps, next to the creek bed where the Haitian workers grow corn, past the door to the basement science labs, and up cement steps leading to the basketball court.

And I won't be there.

Sasha will be there. And Valerie, Cannelle, Chafika, Biderka, Virgloty, Anais- my whole discipleship group. But not me.

Gael will there. And Raphael, Sam, Rafael, Mandy, Hans, Emille, Stephen and all the other basketball boys. But not Ben.

Louis Daniel and Rackel and Natasha and Melinda and Randolph and all the other seniors will walk into Senior Transitions and start their college research project. But I won't be teaching it.

I will not give out lockers, assign textbooks, read a parent letter, or show them my classroom library. It will still be in room 36, but I'll be on the C hall of a different high school's second floor, finishing my new classroom for a new crop of students- strangers.

You just can't know what it's like as a teacher to prepare for the first day already knowing all the kids. It's such a relief. The first day is a safe space, not a scary unknown. The first day is a celebration, a reunion, not an awkward ice-breaker, get-to-know-you-game, "about me" survey, diagnostic test-taking day.

I hate ice breaker games. I hate "people bingo", and "two truths and a lie", and forced alphabetical seating assignments. I want to be with my kids. MY kids.

But I won't be there.

At Quisqueya I could identify the owner of every single 10-12th grade backpack.

At Quisqueya I could identify the handwriting of every single 10-12th grade student.

Sigh. Not anymore. Those kids aren't mine anymore; they're somebody else's. And I've gotta go learn 150 new names, new moms, new handwritings and new brightly-colored backpacks.

Orevwa. M sonje ou Quisqueya.

Katie

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