Sunday, September 11, 2011
School is going swimmingly. I am teaching American Lit (two sections), 10th grade English, Advanced Literature, and Senior Transitions. We just finished The Crucible in 11th, and are beginning Julius Caesar in 10th. Transitions class is working on college applications and just turned in a rough draft of an admissions essay on Friday. Advanced Lit just finished a children's lit unit where they were reading The Secret Garden, Little Women, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Treasure Island, Charlotte's Web, and other books that make you want to crawl into your mama's lap again. I am teaching over 90 kids, and I'm really only having problems with about three of them. Any teacher will tell you that's not bad! The students' behavior is good, which enables us to have fun, revealing, controversial, insightful conversations about the deep questions of life- exactly what I want to be doing. They're turning in assignments and actually like the books we're reading. Oh joy!
I'm making connections with students, which makes my heart sing. I've got a few who drop by after class to talk about life, boys, friend drama, the works. My favorite part.
I feel great in my house. The top photo is of our living room bookshelf. The first year and a half, I'll be honest, I experienced a large amount of disgust. My face unconsciously went into "I'm seeing something nasty" mode often: rotting trash, gas fumes, rat sightings, sick bathrooms, fly-covered meat on the street. I sincerely prayed about it and felt there were two solutions: become more humble, and maybe make my apartment more comfortable as a mini-retreat. I feel guilty about this, as if it's shallow, and who am I to be bringing Tyler candles into a country where people are starving? I've been in a near-constant state of asking some version of that question for the last five years: God, given the suffering of people in our world (and city), exactly how am I supposed to live my life? My current status of that investigation leads me to this: 1) live modestly, yet also remember- I am no longer in "campout mode" here in Haiti. I am not here for a short-term trip, or even for a semester. I have been here eighteen months, and I will be here at least nine more. I work all day, every day, on the job God has given me: my little flock of 90 crazy teenagers who need to learn about apostrophes, Jesus, and Romeo and Juliet. That's my job. So I need to be able to "sharpen the tool" (phrase from Seven Habits of Highly Effective People), sabbath, and nourish my marriage. That means some comforts that you don't really pursue when you're short-terming it. Like decorating your bookshelf, and putting up curtains in your bedroom. Also, Tyler candles. Instant nasty-smell-hider. I really love my Haiti apt.
Ben and I are experiencing affectionate and conflict-free (or conflict-minimal) days, mostly. Last year that was not so much the case- frequent bickering over nothing, which can ruin your day riki-tiki-quick. It's a story for a whole other blog entry, but I have some theories about the "why" of this change... but for now, I'll simply say we are having happy, kissy days.
The on-campus and Haiti-friend communities are a blessing. We continue to thank God for the dinners, the movie nights, the hangout time with no plan but just enjoying togetherness.
Matt, my Marine brother in Afghanistan, is nearing the end of his deployment. Less than a month until he moves away from the front lines, and less than two months until he is HOME in the US. Oh, Jesus, please make it faster. We'd love continued prayers for my parents, and for Matt's beloved Kelsey.
Thanks, God, for this fat season. Life doesn't usually continue in this vein for long. Let's be honest- I'll probably get malaria tomorrow or something.