Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ISTEP season is upon us

"Fill in the circle completely and make your mark heavy and dark. If you want to change an answer, completely erase the mark you made and make a new mark."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

School News

Dear Colleagues,
You have likely already heard this, but I wanted to make it public so no one is left wondering. This morning during the English department meeting I volunteered to transfer to the high school. This is not a decision I made lightly or on the spur of the moment. I have been contemplating it for some time and feel it will be a good opportunity for me to grow both professionally and personally.
However, I will miss you all dearly! I've enjoyed working at (my school) for the last 6 years. It's the only school I've ever worked in, and it will certainly be hard to leave at the end of the year. I value your friendship and support more than I will ever be able to express.
Thank you so much for being a great team of people to work with over the past 6 years.

Britney L. Smith

Keep praying for Haiti

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Anthem of the Week

Let the Waters Rise by Mikeschair

Saturday, April 24, 2010


But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands...
Psalm 31:14, 15

My school district is eliminating almost 40 teaching positions. I am not losing my job. But my position certainly won't look the same next year. Thursday was supposed to be the day my department discussed "placement opportunities" for next year. However, that meeting was postponed due to some unknown factors. It's impossible for my brain not to make up scenarios. I wonder if I'll be moving to the high school next year, if I could be teaching 7th grade, if I would be able to teach at risk students at the high school, if I'll have to work with a certain other English teacher in my building, if I will still be teaching Read 180, and if I might just have the same exact job I do now.

On top of all the drama at school, I've been considering becoming a missionary and moving overseas. Maybe "considering" isn't the right word to use. A more accurate term might be "tentatively planning." The Haitians captured my heart, and there is a need for someone to teach English at the Haitian school and to the 12 orphans living in the children's home. I don't know that God has said, "Britney, move to Haiti." but he also hasn't said, "Britney stop pursuing this."

So during this time of waiting, I just keep repeating my new mantra, "My times are in Your hands."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Jesus is Calling

These verses have been rolling around in my head for the past few months...

"In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."
Luke 14:33

"...Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
Luke 18:22

Then on Monday Pete Wilson shared an A.W. Tozer quote on his blog about the monstrous substitution we make when God's gifts take the place of God.

Then my daily reading of Scripture just happened to include the following passage from Acts 4.
32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Counting My Blessings: Due Process

This week one of my friends was detained by the department of Immigration and Naturalization Services. He's in the United States legally and has all the proper paperwork. He had applied for permanent residency status, so when INS sent a letter saying he needed to come to a case review he was excited. However, his case review appointment quickly turned into an arrest. He's been in jail for 7 nights now, and is worried sick about his family. He hasn't been allowed to meet with his lawyer--a judge has to be petitioned for that to happen. We were hoping he would get out on bond this week, but a judge has to be petitioned for that as well. Unfortunately my friend was moved to a facility in another state today, so the bond paperwork has to be filed with a different judge now. The situation is so very frustrating because Immigration does not operate on the rules we are accustomed to. Apparently non-citizens do not have the same rights.

Tonight I'm beyond grateful for my right to due process and all the other rights I have as a citizen of this nation. But I'm also livid that my non-citizen friends are not allowed the same amount of dignity and respect.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

More from Haiti

There were about 35 people staying at the guest house the week I was in Haiti. Some of them wrote about their experiences, and I'd like to share it with you. If you have the time check out what my new friends thought about their time in Haiti.

Lexi is a 16 year old high school student with a passion for living her life with purpose.

Matt was in Haiti for the first time, and took time to write about the details.

Beth answered my Facebook plea for people to join me in Haiti. She wrote some awesome posts about our experiences there. I copied her posts and put them on my blog so you can read them.
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Surrender All

Monday, April 12, 2010

Post-quake Haiti

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Gramothe (pronounced Gruh-mott)

From the guest house balcony
Zoomed in a little closer

The church, waiting room, and clinic
The original church can't even be seen from the guest house anymore. The other buildings are blocking it.
The first church building was too small within a year, so they built a new one. The original building is still being used, just not in a traditional manner.

Back in Indiana

I'm sitting at home. It's weird to be here, knowing the rest of the team is still in Haiti. They are touring the village and meeting the people of Gramothe, and honestly, I just want to be there with them.

In an effort to soothe my aching heart, I'll post some more pictures.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Around the Guest House

I'm Angry

There are three reasons I'm angry.

1. Kervens seems to be a little con artist. There are rumors his mom didn't die in the earthquake. I just couldn't bring myself to confront him on the subject. He did say goodbye to my on Friday when we left the clinic. I pray that Willem will be able to mentor the boy so he doesn't become a real con artist.

2. This is not water. Here's the story. Caitlyn and I were sitting outside on the front steps just talking. We had been there for probably more than an hour when Flash, one of the dumb dogs, came over and sniffed my back. The dogs are social and like affection, so I thought he was going to come around to my side. I was planning on talking to him and maybe even petting him. But instead of his head showing up at my shoulder I felt something warm on my back. The dumb dog was peeing on me! You can tell from the picture that it wasn't just a little marking. He was letting it all loose. I jumped up as soon as I knew what was going on, which caused Caitlyn to also jump up. We both started screaming and ran inside. Caitlyn made it to our room before me and shouted, "Mom, I have the funniest story for you!" Then I ran in and shouted, "I HATE THAT DOG!!" Then we had to tell them the story, and of course they felt the need to take a picture.

3. Any guesses as to what this is? You'll only need one! I couldn't believe my luck. We had a mama and a baby that needed to be weighed. We started with the little guy. He stood on the scale very reluctantly. Maybe "reluctantly" isn't the right term. He screamed the entire time and tried to get off the scale at all costs. When he was finished being weighed, I thought I would pick him up to hold him while mama was weighed. Well, he really didn't like that. I started to put him down and I thought my toes feel wet. Then I looked down and saw that my toes were not the only thing that were wet. Baby got me good.

I told Willem I changed my mind about coming back to Haiti. Urine reeks.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Scenes from the Clinic

Thursday, April 8, 2010


The clinic went well today. Mostly I weighed people and directed traffic.

However, my life was altered when Kervens (pronounced like Kevin with an r) walked into the clinic. This 14 year old boy has a resiliency beyond anything I've ever witnessed. His story blew me away. He was at home when the earthquake struck on January 12. He happened to be standing by the door, so he quickly rushed outside. However, his little sister and was inside. He hasn’t seen his mom since the earthquake. He assumes she died, but he holds on to hope that she’ll show up some day. Kervens said when he got out the door, he turned around to see that his house looked like a pancake. At that point he started crying and stayed there until his dad found him.

His story at this point gets a little fuzzy for me. It seems like he’s living with his dad, but it sounds like he’s basically on his own for food, money, school, everything. This morning he came to the clinic, found Willem, and in one minute convinced him that he could work as an interpreter in the clinic. The boy is something else.

After convincing Willem that he could work as an interpreter, Kervens walked into the clinic and worked with strangers from another country as if he had been there all his life. The boy is amazing! He taught me words in Creole, shared about his life, and helped us communicate with the patients.

At lunch Kervens asked me questions like, “Can you give me your opinion on something. In Haiti life is very difficult. What can I do to succeed in life?” and “Why are earthquakes so dangerous?” He’s very preoccupied with how he will have a good life now that his mom is gone and what he should do if there is another earthquake. Thankfully Willem was there. After hearing Kervens' questions, he spent a good amount of time during lunch just speaking words of life into the young man.

Father God, you amaze me with the way you orchestrate our lives. Thank you for bringing me to Haiti and putting me in a place where I could meet Kervens. I am so blessed by how you have protected him and guided him to people who can mentor him and provide for his needs. Jesus, shine your light into his life in a way that is unmistakable, and please continue to guide and protect him.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

This is how we roll

Here are some snapshots of how we travel from point A to point B here in Haiti.

Clinic Day 2

Wow. What a great day!

We started the morning knowing there would be a ton of people at the clinic today. We could see the line along the road to the clinic, and just after breakfast Joanne told us she had never seen so many people there before. I haven't heard official numbers from Marcia yet, but I think the medical clinic saw close to 200 people.

I started the day out counting pills and waiting for scabies patients. There were a few, but no one was any where near the level of yesterday's case. (The picture is of Lexi and me giving a little boy a treatment.) After a while I traded Chad places and became the bouncer. Basically I told people when it was there turn to get weighed, where to stand until it was their turn, and when they could go back to a table. I loved it because I got to see everyone coming in, play with the babies while they waited in line, and give out stickers to all the kids. The part I'm not really fond of is standing and staring at the people while they wait. I can't communicate with them, and there's not much to do. A lot of the time I felt like I was just standing around. I also liked that I didn't have to count pills though. :)

In the late morning a man came in holding a newborn baby. The baby was crying and moving it's mouth like it was hungry. Haylee was worried about the baby, so she pulled the guy out of line and snagged a translator. He told us the baby hadn't eaten anything all day and the mother wasn't breastfeeding because she had something wrong with her head. Finally the mom came, but she didn't want to breastfeed. The baby ended up eating part of a bottle, and we sent them home with some of those 3 oz Similac bottles for newborns.

The highlight of the day for me were the kids. There were some awesome little babies that came in who smiled and giggled and clapped for me. Our last patient was a tiny 7 month old who was super smiley. I got to hold her for a little while while her mom had some lab work done (aka peed in a cup). I know other people got pictures, so I'll post some when I get them.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Clinic's Opening Day

Today was AWESOME!! We opened the clinic around 10:30 am after organizing ourselves and all the new stuff we brought up the mountain. We saw 126 patients and the eye clinic saw roughly 80 people today. We had four clinic stations set up, with a vitals station that all the patients funneled through first. There was also a pharmacy and a scabies station. I manned the scabies station with Lexi, who is 16. Most of the time we counted pills and made 30 pill packs of Tylenol and vitamins. I think we had about 10-12 scabies patients today. About 60% of them were small children, but there were some adults. The scabies treatment consists of rubbing a special lotion all over an infected person. Here are the directions I was given.

  1. For children under 4, rub the cream all over the scalp, behind the ears, between toes and every where in between. Make sure you get the tip of the penis and the butt crack. For kids older than four, the scalp is unnecessary.
  2. Kids younger than 12 need to be lathered up by a "professional."
  3. Watch the teens and adults to make sure they get everything.
  4. Tell them to wash all clothing and bedding, and they can wash the lotion off in the morning.
Our first scabies patient was a 20 something male. Lexi and I quickly agreed that watching him put on the lotion was not necessary, so we just asked him to put his hand over the curtain when he needed more. Most of the scabies treatments were pretty simple, but we had one little girl who was heartbreaking. She had the worst case of scabies some of the medical people, who have been here frequently, and had open sores all over. She had a really nasty one on her leg, one on her crotch and several others. She was crying when she got to our station, but when we started putting on the lotion she lost it. With every screech my heart broke a little more, and by the end I was crying with her. It was traumatizing. I had to leave the building for a little bit after she left because I just couldn't handle it.

The rest of the day went fairly well. We are looking forward to tomorrow.

Monday, April 5, 2010


This morning Beth took the three girls (Beth M., Hannah, and me) up to "36" to do some organizing. Originally 36 was a private home, but Beth and Willem are able to use it as a guest house. It sleeps 18 people in beds with more room for mattresses on the floors. They use it for groups that come to Port au Prince as volunteers with other organizations. Beth provides a cook for breakfast and dinner and household chores, so the people can focus on what they are here to do. It is a very nice facility, and a great service they are able to provide.

Beth and Hannah put some hygiene packs together.

I worked on sorting the various medical supplies. Some are going to the hospital. Some will go to other missionaries and the rest to the clinic.

The beautiful view from the porch we were working on.

After a couple of hours everything was sorted and packed.

Now the rest of the medical team is arriving. Hopefully we'll be busy working again soon.