We have officially been in Haiti one month!! It has flown by so quickly. We are loving every day here. Even at the end of a challenging day we still love being here and love what we do. It’s a crazy adventure and we love everything about it.
This past month we have learned so many new things, have experienced a lot, and have grown in tremendous ways. I wish we could sit down with each and every one of you over a cup of coffee and just share about all the things that have been going on this past month. Sadly we can’t exactly do that internationally, but we still want to share some of the highlights from this past month with you. So grab your cup of coffee and let’s pretend, okay?
- My beautiful bride. For the last two years, I never really had the chance to see Amanda teach a class. But last week was her first week of teaching English to the Village Champions and I went every day, partially to serve as a comfort to her but also to be there with them and see them learning. She was amazing! And they love her! They all have a lot of fun in class and are super eager to meet with Amanda/Madame Matt. She makes class so fun and invests in their lives so well, and is such a wonderful, engaging teacher. It was a blast watching her spend time with them.
- Village Champions. This group of men and women have become like family to both of us. It’s been great to watch our relationships with them grow from a little bit of hesitation to absolutely loving us. I made a deal with them that if they try to speak English to me, then I will try to speak Creole to them. And they definitely took me up on that. Even the ones who know basically no English are eager to teach me Creole and they get so excited when I try. Justin and I started going out into a couple villages this week to see where the VCs live and meet their families and see what God is doing in their villages and what their needs are. They love the Church Advancement team we have now and we’re all so excited about transforming their villages with the gospel, physically and spiritually.
- Haitian food. We are so grateful that eating strange food is not something we had to adjust when moving out of America. Chicken, plantains, rice and beans, etc. It’s just amazing. Although one of my friends here today told me his favorite food to buy off the market on the street is bananas with fish sauce. Yeah. That’s what I said too. But he said it’s good and there’s always a first time for everything, right? So I’ll try it one day! Twice since we’ve been here we’ve been able to drink water from coconuts cut right off a tree, which is great.
- Francky and Junior are two translators who solely work in Church Advancement, basically translating everything for me. I spend hours with these guys every day and they’re brothers to me. They teach me a whole lot about Haiti, make me practice Creole, and give me tons of advice in doing my job. They’ve made transitioning into this role so much easier and I’m so grateful for them.
- Bourik chaje, pa kompe. “When a donkey is loaded, it does not stop.” Haitian proverb. Can be used to mean when we get started on our work and get moving, we’re not going to stop. Or the fuller meaning is that when God begins something, he does not stop what he began. The Lord is doing a work in Haiti through Mission of Hope and these Village Champions, and he is not going to stop that work. Haiti is going to be transformed through the power of the gospel, and I’m learning to pray and ask Him to bring these projects to completion and draw people to himself.
- Worship. Ya’ll, there is something so unbelievably sweet about worshipping the Lord in another language. We go to church on Sunday mornings and again on Tuesday night. Tuesday nights are primarily worship. Sometimes my heart can’t handle how sweet it is to sing with my brothers and sisters in Christ. A lot of the songs are sang in Creole and in English. The Haitian people have such a passion for worship. I love being able to sing with them and pray with them. What a blessing it is to be able to do that twice a week!
- The Lord’s heart for His people. I wish I could let you all into my heart for a day. Some of the things I see, think, and feel leave me feeling speechless. Being here, I have seen the Lord’s heart for His people like I never have before. It’s almost impossible for me to look at one of the sweet babies, or my students, or the people I pass when I walk down the hill and not see God’s heart for them. He longs to bless them. He longs to bless us. God delights in giving us gifts. It’s so easy for me to see that when I look at other people, yet so hard when I look at myself. I tend to look at myself and see all my flaws, my failures, my shortcomings, my lack of talent, my insecurities. Rarely do I look at myself and think about the Lord’s heart for me. Can I be honest for a minute? That’s one of the last things I think about when I look at myself. But I have to say that the Lord has been sweetly reminding me daily of His love for ALL His children, including me. He is so good, sweet friends. His heart is for you.
- Language. Oh my. The day we landed in Haiti I felt so discouraged. When I left my internship here in 2010 I knew a lot of Creole and could carry on a conversation for a little while. Well, three years later and I found myself stuck. I couldn’t remember ANYTHING. But then it started to come back. Slowly but surely it’s coming back. I’m also in a really neat, unique situation with teaching English to the Village Champions. Teaching them English has taught me more Creole than I could have learned on my own. It also really helps when I tell them that I know what it feels like to be learning a language and I understand their struggles. I think it has really helped in building strong relationships. We also just started a Creole class for the staff and I am so excited to get a more formal education on the language. Please keep praying for our language acquisition! It’s challenging, but so fun!!
- Matt. Goodness. The Lord has blessed me with such a sweet and wonderful husband. I am daily amazed by his character and by his work ethic. I know I’ve said it a lot, but I am SO proud of him. It is beyond clear that he was made for this job. I love seeing how the Lord is using his education and his last year at seminary to equip him for his job. He loves all the people he works with so well and it is obvious that he cares about them as a person and wants to build a strong relationship with him. He may get overwhelmed at times, but we all do. He always handles it with grace. I love watching him interact with the Village Champions and it’s awesome to see their respect for him. He’s awesome. So thankful he is mine!
- Relationships. If I could sum up what we have been doing this past month, I would say it has been building relationships. We live with, work with, eat with, and do life with an amazing group of people. Between the North American staff, the interns, and our Haitian co-workers, we have tried so hard to build strong relationships with them. We love these people. The past few months of our lives have been so crazy and insane, but so full of people that the Lord has placed in our lives. We had such a sweet group of people we called family in North Carolina, which made moving so hard. Then we transitioned into life in Buffalo and met so many awesome people and within one month had grown some really neat friendships. And then we had to leave again. Man, it’s hard leaving people you love. But the Lord is so good and has given us an abundance of precious people here in Haiti that we get to do life with. It’s only been a month and I can’t wait to see how our friendships grow over the next year!
So that’s been our month in a nutshell. We have been so blessed!! Living here in Haiti is such a sweet adventure and we love that we get to do it together. I hope you feel like you get to be a part of this journey with us, because you are. You’re prayers and support are so valued. We feel your prayers & can’t say thank you enough. Keep ’em coming! 🙂