Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Weekend Adventures, or Why My Student Humbles and Amazes Me

On Friday, we took a girls' trip to Handal, a home store in Petionville, just north of Quisqueya. I am really starting to know my way around- as in, I could drive up Delmas, then find Place Boyer (a former city park that is now a tent city surrounded by nice restaurants and upscale-for-Haiti home goods stores), then find Handal.

There are 21 of us living on campus right now, including 9 women and 5 children under 5th grade. It is so fun. 19 of those 21 people are twenty-and-thirty-somethings, and it is so very nice to spend time all together. I honestly like every single one of the on-campus dwellers. Most are new to Haiti, less than two years under our belts. So on Friday, Brittany, Jaime, Katie, Heidi, Tiffany, Heather, baby Asher and I crammed into a pickup and bumped along to Handal.

Each time I find a new "resource" here, I feel more confident, more "ok, I can do this". Handal has triple the amount of home goods that the little second floor of the Eagle grocery store has, and at way better prices. They have things like plastic trashcans, sheets, green cleaning products, school supplies, green/organic toiletries and... snacks. Tasty, name brand snacks. I had brought only $13 US, so I had to choose wisely. I left with 3 precious treats: Hot & Spicy Cheese-Its, pretzel Goldfish, and pizza Goldfish. I am not ashamed to admit I ate the Hot & Spicy Cheese-Its (whole box) in less than 48 hours.

Friday night we all went over to the Hendricks house (they have 4 boys, are from Texas, and live in the former art/music building) to play Chickenfoot and eat popcorn popped on the range in a pot.

Saturday I walked across the street to campus and worked in my classroom for about 3 hours. If I do that on Saturdays, it cuts down on several hours of after-school work during the week, so I don't mind doing it. I just can't work well in the afternoons after school- it is just too freaking hot to think.

Saturday afternoon Katie & Jaime (recent grads from Ohio/Indiana, 2nd and 3rd grade teachers, roommates next door to Ben and I) joined Ben and I going up the mountain to visit Jodie Ackerman. Jodie's daughters are now both in college and her husband is still in the states speaking, so she's been here by her lonesome and we wanted to keep her company. Let's not lie, there are some other reasons too: 1) Jodie is really fun, 2) she offered to take us to Delice, a hamburger joint, 3) her house has hot showers, and 4) it's way cooler and less mosquito-y up on the mountain. We played Apples to Apples and laughed so hard. For the first time since we've been back, it was cool enough while sleeping to snuggle with Ben- my usual mentality is more like "get away from me, you heat-producing oven".

Sunday morning was supposed to be pretty normal (going to church), but wound up being quite the adventure. Last spring we attended the Christian Service International house church right around the corner. CSI decided to move the church to the CSI compound in Croix-des-Bouquets (you may remember when we visited their awesome orphanage in May- truly the best one I've seen so far) where their clinic and orphanage already are located, so now church is an hour's drive away.

Art, our Ohioan PE/health teacher and other next door neighbor, was so kind as to volunteer to drive us all, so about ten of us piled in the school's Chinese 14-passenger Jin Bei van (I mean, how in the world did this car wind up at Quisqueya? Donated by one of the medical teams from the spring? It's a mystery). We attended church with about ten other people in one of the exam rooms at the CSI clinic.

When we walk in to church, I see one of my students Hannah, whose parents serve with CSI, and go over to say hello, but I literally stopped in my tracks.

Hannah's holding this toddler covered in the worst case of scabies I have ever seen. Scabies from her hairline to the tops of her feet. So bad she's covered in open wounds from the itching. Her little chin is actually split open from the staph infection under the skin from those wounds.

Oh, by the way, she's also got pneumonia.

Hannah sits in the back, holding Islane, soothing her, snuggling her (by the way, scabies is super contagious, and I ask Hannah about this, and she says "oh, it's ok, I'll just treat myself when we treat her". Then, at the end of the service, she stands up and says "oh". I say, "what's wrong?"

Hannah replies, "oh nothing, she peed on me."

So as we leave church and drive the hour back to Quisqueya (which actually took longer because we ran into 1) a rained-out road that the Jin Bei could not handle, and 2) a section of Delmas that was blocked off due to some kind of demonstration), I'm thinking about how this is what Hannah's life is like as a high school student.

Living in Haiti, an hour's drive from school, living literally inside an orphanage 24/7 with 20 girls under age 13, loving on toddlers with scabies and other yucky sicknesses. Contrast to my high school priorities: pep rallies, Homecoming dates, whether I had the right brand of jeans. I am so totally impressed and humbled.

So maybe I should give her a break the next time I give a pop quiz.


PS Then on Monday we had our first Kreyol lesson. I learned the vowel sounds, subject pronouns, and the word for teacher, professor, and intelligent.


  1. sounds like you have jumped right back into life in haiti!! we pray for you everyday. what incredible people God has surrounded you with! such a blessing. love and hugs!!

  2. Yayy, I'm loving that you are having lots of opportunities for community and friendship! so important! (oh and goldfish and cheese its too!)

    And oh my word...Hannah! I think we all have a lot to learn from her! such wisdom, compassion and love!

  3. I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

    God Bless You ~Ron



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