I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
- Isaiah 43:19
I've started William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. I've discovered a soft spot for Southern lit since I've been in Haiti- narrators who use the word y'all!- and my heart ached with nostalgia through To Kill a Mockingbird a few weeks ago. Two funny quotes:
"She approved of him associating with me because I at least revealed a blundering sense of noblesse oblige by getting myself born below Mason and Dixon."
This one is dedicated to my friends Ruth, Steve, Miriam and Dan:
"Ever since then I have believed that God is not only a gentleman and a sport; He is a Kentuckian too."
In other news, I've had such interesting conversations with students in the last few days. I can never lose sight of the fact that in the middle of the Haiti's total hurricane of needs, these 65 kids are my flock, my purpose.
I have one student who told me yesterday her father is running for one of the highest offices in Haiti. Yet in the midst of that, she is getting lost- she routinely comes to school without lunch or lunch money. Ben has bought her many a slice of pizza.
I have one student who told me today that her grandfather was once president for 72 hours, but that "it wasn't his fault". One day when she was little, she left school and was driven straight to the airport, where she had to flee the country immediately due to a kidnapping threat. They didn't come home for 4 years.
One student's father was out of town two days ago when her mother became seriously ill. She and her brother drove mom to the hospital and stayed for most of the night. She was in class the next morning, homework done perfectly.
One student says she doesn't spend the night away from home because the only time in her life she did, her father was shot.
One of my students came to school on Monday with his hands swollen and cut. He told me two teenagers tried to get his brightly colored soccer shoes while he was walking to a friend's house. His hands are in rough shape, but he defended his sneaks and the boys ran away.
Yesterday in the middle of the high school bake sale, one student came up to me sobbing. His behavior has been very disruptive and difficult, and he's been given warning after warning, but for some reason it had never occurred to him until now that this might result in him not being invited to return in the fall. We had a long talk about consequences, and about his dream to be a doctor one day.
Every day I teach 6 girls who lost their fathers 4 months ago. 2 of them wear their fathers' wedding rings on their necklaces. Yesterday in our lesson about connotative and denotative meanings, I asked the class for word pairs with different connotations. The class started talking about "father" and "daddy". Father is just a male parent, but daddy is who comes to your recitals, and walks you down the aisle, and teaches you to ride a bike. Oh, how painful that must be for those 6 little girls, and oh, how well they bear the pain.
The highlight of my day today was telling a 7th grade girl and a 9th grade boy I had selected them to give the prayers at our last day of school ceremony. For some reason I got to pick- such a blessing to me. It is so very fun to be the bearer of good news, to tell two young people I admire their speaking skills and spiritual leadership.
Sometimes I feel frustrated that I'm not "fixing" or "solving" anything in Haiti. I perform no surgeries, I built no latrines. But I have the privilege of being a part of the long, slow, march of being in teenagers' lives. I stand in front of them and lecture on metaphors or Dickens' moral justice, but there are all these secrets in their lives, just one inch below the surface.