Wednesday, June 4, 2014

one year

Time is a funny thing. The minutes are all 60 seconds, but emotions and circumstances have the ability to make those 60 seconds tick by as slow as molasses or faster than the blink of an eye.

We left Haiti one year ago today. It seems impossible--both because it feels like we were just in Haiti and because it feels so far away. Thankfully we'll be back on the island in a little over a month for a two week dose of Ayiti Cheri.

I suppose it's true what they say. The days are long and the years short.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


According to my Facebook friends who also attended Bethel College, I graduated ten years ago this weekend. It seems impossible to be ten years removed from college life and my dreams from that period of time. My life looks nothing like I thought it would at this point. And that's okay!!

When I left Bethel College, I thought...
I would move to Chicago and teach at an inner city high school--and maybe even start a community center. Instead I taught middle school reading in Mishawaka, English as a foreign language in Haiti, and now high school English in Goshen. Even though the location hasn't been what I thought it would  be, my desire to work with students who come from low income backgrounds has been realized. And my dreams of starting a community center are still alive and well--I just picture myself running community programs in Haiti instead of the inner city.
I would be married by age 25 or 26, with multiple kids by age 30. In reality I didn't get married until a week before my 30th birthday. But, I'm not complaining. I love my husband, and I'm really, really thankful I trusted God and waited for Arold.
I would maintain my close relationships with my college friends. I was determined that I was not going to be one of those people who left college and promptly forgot about my BFFs. The truth is I was unprepared for how much work friendships take when you don't live in the same building. There are a small handful of friends from college that I regularly talk to, but I do wish I had done a better job of keeping up with my roommate and suite-mates from sophomore year.

Rest assured, some things haven't changed.

  1. Most days you still can't see the surface of my desk or dining room table.
  2. The alarm goes off multiple times before I roll out of bed in the morning.
  3. I would much rather stay up late with my girlfriends talking than do school work.
  4. Discussing grammar is still fascinating. (Seriously.)
Most importantly, though, I still want to serve God with my whole life. I'm just learning that sometimes that looks different than I imagined it would.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I regularly dream of Haiti. Sometimes my dreams are more like memories from when we lived there, but most of the time my dreams are set in the future.

Recently I read about a missionary in Liberia who started a soap making business with some of the people he is working with. They are able to produce 1200 bars of soap in a day and the soap makers and sellers are able to make $10 USD each day that they work, which is double what a decent job would pay there. I think it's pretty amazing. The missionary blogs at Definitely check it out!

Anyway, his post about soap got me thinking. I'm wondering if something like that could work in Haiti, so now I am in full research mode on all things soap making. I even found a place in Ft. Wayne that offers classes in soap making. So on the first Saturday of summer vacation, I am going to learn the basics of making soap. I'm hoping to learn enough to be able to try the process out when we visit Haiti this summer. (I'm counting down until we get our feet back on the island! I miss that place.)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

finally! Tastey Haitian White Rice

This week Arold made some yummy white rice, bean sauce, and chicken in sauce. It was delicious! The thing is that he always makes way more bean sauce than rice, so we have to make more rice or it goes bad. This week was no different. Last night I was looking for something Arold could pack in his lunch, and all I could find was bean sauce--which is not so appetizing on it's own. So I started a pot of rice, but the peanut gallery was not very supportive. I have been making "Haitian" rice for a few years now, but no matter how closely I follow the directions my husband gives me it is too sticky/wet or it doesn't taste right (code for it doesn't have enough salt). I don't think he was very optimistic about his lunch for today.

I carefully measured the water and rice. I made sure to add more salt than I thought was necessary. When it was time to put a little oil in the boiling water, I decided to use coconut oil instead of canola oil because I thought it would be healthier and maybe taste a little better. Probably most importantly, I was very careful about my lid placement while the rice was boiling. (Arold always leaves it a little bit cracked, letting some air out, as it simmers.) When my rice was finished I tasted it and was pretty proud of myself. I had made some pretty tasty white rice. Arold was still skeptical and didn't taste it before going to bed.

Well, all my hard word paid off! This morning Arold pronounced my rice was better than his. Finally, I have mastered making Haitian white rice!!!!

So here's my estimated recipe for Tastey Haitian White Rice

  1. Start boiling a little less than 3 cups of water
  2. Add some salt, then add a little more than you think is necessary
  3. Add 2-3 teaspoons of coconut oil (maybe more)
    Optional: a handful of finely chopped leeks OR two dashes of onion powder, some garlic powder
  4. When the water is boiling, add about 1 and 3/4 cups rice--stir so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan
  5. Bring the water back to boiling uncovered
  6. Once it's boiling again, stir to be sure the rice is not sticking to the bottom. Then turn down the heat to a fast simmer and cover the pot (for not so sticky rice, leave the lid slightly cracked
  7. Make sure the pot doesn't boil over or dry out (adjust lid to avoid both problems)
  8. I occasionally stir/fluff the rice while it's cooking, but I know others avoid that.
  9. When the rice is the desired tenderness, remove the lid to cook out all extra water.
  10. Enjoy with some bean sauce or other delicious dish/sauce.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


I don't think it's a secret that Arold and I really want to be back in Haiti doing ministry some day. Really, we'd like to be there now, but we know God has us here (in Northern Indiana) for this season of our lives. As difficult as it is to deal with the polar vortex, being assaulted daily by consumerism and greed, and the ideology of YOLO (you only live once), we know this is where we belong right now. 

Before we left Haiti, we made a list of goals we had for our time living in the United States. One of the goals we had was to learn more about different models of ministry and to get some type of Bible or missions training. Arold started taking Bible/pastoral training classes online in October. It looks like it's going to be a great program for him. As his spouse I have the opportunity to take the same classes--now or at a later date--at half price. I would love to take the classes at the same time he's taking them because I think it would be good for us to process the information together, but there's no way I can handle the course work on top of teaching! 

Recently I was looking online for some type of mission conference for the two of us to attend, but I couldn't find much out there. Then I stumbled upon a link to Global Missions Frontier and their online missionary training program. It looks like a great program. Participants can earn a certificate of completion, or with varying degrees of homework, participants are able to earn any where from an Associates Degree to a Masters through Covenant Theological Seminary. There are 20 modules in the online course, and they are all "work at your own pace." Most online classes have required weekly chats and homework assignments, which doesn't work for my currently lifestyle. But this particular program only requires each module to be completed in three months. I can watch the videos, read the books, and complete the assignments as I have time and still finish within the three month window. Plus, I could finish multiple modules in the summer when I'm not teaching.

I am trying out the first class to see how it goes, but I am really excited about this opportunity. I am seriously considering working towards the Masters Degree. Can you believe I just said that?!? In recent years I have told many people that I have no desire to go back to school, but I guess I just needed the right course of study to persuade me to step back into the role of student! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

17 months

I can't believe Isaac is no longer a baby. He is clearly a little man at this point. The last 17 months have flown by!

Isaac loves eating, climbing, yelling, singing, and watching birds. He is very social, but doesn't like being dropped off at daycare or the church nursery, even though he gets over it pretty quickly. His favorite foods are french fries and cake or cookies--it makes no difference as long as it's sweet! He can take things off of the table and the kitchen counters. He enjoys emptying both cupboards and baskets or boxes. He is a good helper when it's time to put the groceries away and a terrible helper when it's time to fold laundry. 

His vocabulary expands daily. Common words we hear around here are: up, get down, dog, Da, Mimmy, wawo (zwazo=bird in creole), book, rye (to sing Rise and Shine), ball, more, ji (for drink), tank oo, cat, nose, eye, and ungy (for hungry). He knows the signs for more, please, hungry, and maybe one other word. 

Isaac LOVES music and tractors. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014


My one word theme of the year is renew

I'm looking forward to a year of renewal--in faith, love, friendship, humility, and many other areas.

Psalm 51: 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Ruth 4:15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. 

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Titus 3:4 ...He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

degaje, what I learned in Haiti

At the beginning of the school year I started drinking coffee every day. Waking up at the (butt) crack of dawn forces a person to find ways to keep their eye lids open so early in the morning.

Before we moved into our apartment I picked up a few essential items at a place called The Depot (it's my new favorite store--a Mennonite thrift shop in Goshen). A coffee pot and a toaster oven were my two proudest purchases. 

Unfortunately, I dropped our coffee pot as we were moving in and it shattered into a million little pieces, along with my dreams of drinking coffee in the mornings. 

BUT! using a skill I learned in Haiti, I was able to find a solution to my very grave problem. Behold, my solution to having a coffee maker but no coffee pot:

I effectively used this small sauce pan to degaje, or used my resources to fix my problem. Thankfully my grandma sent us an extra coffee pot she had and we don't have to use this pan anymore. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

long overdue Isaac pics

Sunday, January 26, 2014

confessions of a maladjusted former missionary

It's been a while since I've written anything here. Mostly that's because I have a hard time keeping up with being a mom, a wife, and a full-time public school teacher. But, another major factor in neglecting writing is that I've had a hard time adjusting to life in the States. For most of the past 8 months, and probably longer than that, I've been cocooning myself from the world. I suppose my philosophy was that if I drew into myself and ignored the world, I could avoid some of the pain of leaving Haiti. I've become a master at avoiding interactions with people that might lead to meaningful conversations. The only thing cocooning myself did, though, was isolate me during a time when I desperately needed to be surrounded by people who love and support me. Change is hard no matter what, but this particular change was extreme. We left our jobs, our first home as a married couple, Arold's family, our friends and coworkers, our church, the ministry to Haitian students we loved so much... Everything about our lives changed in one fell swoop.

Logically, I know we made the decision to follow God's leading and move the United States. Irrationally, I felt like God did this to (instead of for or with) us. In the beginning I was hurt and angry, feeling like God had sent us to the US and forgotten about us. When I'm being reasonable, I can see that God is still using us--maybe not in the way we'd like, but working through us nonetheless--and that he has a purpose for our time here. Arold is taking Bible classes, we are learning about various models of ministry, and we are working on becoming financially independent. Knowing that our time here is preparing us for future ministry is the balm to my hurting heart.

Living in the States has been good. We stayed with my parents for the first seven months before moving into an apartment of our own. They adored having Isaac there every day to tickle and cuddle and keep out of the dog food. It was a true blessing to live with them while we transitioned to life here. We enjoy the stability and conveniences of living in a developed nation. And, I personally am thankful for hot showers every single day.

But as good as it is to have access to the conveniences of the modern world at my fingertips, I'm still learning to reconcile the desires of my heart with the reality of today.