Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Through the eyes of a teacher (by Patricia Edwards)

 …But aren’t we all teachers? My day started with an interview with Bernice Hillier from the Corner Brook Morning Show. I knew I was in trouble when I started crying last night just thinking about what I wanted to say. It is too difficult, even with photos, to convey the hardships the Haitians have to endure on a daily basis. I tried to paint a picture of the landscape and got through that fairly well. It was when I tried to speak of the children that I my voice caught. I can only hope that those listening could feel a little of what I am experiencing. How can you explain the feel of little arms around your neck, knowing that they are filled with such joy and wonder as any child from anywhere would be, but also knowing that these children are in such great need?

After breakfast, we headed to the school for devotions. I chose to stay near the front with the preschoolers but listened to all the students sing their praises before heading off to class. It is awesome to hear them singing and clapping with such energy!

School Devotions

The first job of the day was to get the new library cleaned. There were many layers of dust on the shelves and books. Karen has a method to her madness (her words not mine) in organizing the textbooks so we simply removed the dirt from windows, shelves, books and floor. The text books are in hard shape and they would have been replaced if I had them at my school at home. There are no resources besides texts that the teachers use in their classes. It is a stark contrast to the Apple TV and 20 Ipads I use in my own classroom. To witness how these kids are being prepared for the world beyond school and what awaits them and what we have in Corner Brook to prepare them for the world beyond their school years is very humbling.

Team cleaning up the textbook library at the school

Jenny and I then headed to the grade 9 class to teach English. We did some basic lessons and they all were very engaged and tried so hard. The hour passed too quickly learning how to greet each other, review the days of the week and months of the year. I think back home I would have been more apprehensive to take on a class of grade 9 students but, here in Haiti, there is such respect expected I figured I could handle the challenge.

Patricia with the grade nine class she taught this morning

It was soon recess and we were swarmed again by the littlest of the students. There is so much love and curiosity from the youngest of them. Is it terrible to want to take them all home? I would certainly make room at my place for them.

The little students run to the team members

Recess time again


After recess, I headed to a grade 5 class for a math lesson. Again, I was amazed at the power that this school has on these young people. I don’t know how I am going to feel walking into my own classroom next week…truly blessed to live where I do, have what I have and work with the resources I have.
After a great lunch, three children came over to receive gifts from the group members who sponsor them. It was very heartwarming to see their faces light up at the gifts and hugs.

Kathleen with her sponsored student in PS1

Jess with her and Caleb's sponsored student in grade 7

Grade 10 student sponsored by Terry & Stephanie of Corner Brook

After lunch, Jenny and I decided to go back to the school to clean the blackboards. Jess decided to join us as it was a pretty big job with all those layers of chalk dust! Teaching the classes this morning using blackboard and having to get chalk from the director is not something I will soon forget as I teach back in Corner Brook. At home I have an interactive white board so I can only imagine what these students would think of the technology we use. I figured the least I could do was wash their boards to make it easier to see their lessons for next class.

Blackboards getting a washing by Patricia and Jenny

In the afternoon we had a wonderful time playing with the kids outside, teaching them games and getting served in Judel and Josie’s restaurant. I find it amazing that the kids here can occupy themselves with anything without complaining. They could certainly teach us all about being grateful for the important things we have: our friends and family.

A fun game - What time is it Mr Wolf

No matter where we live in this world, what we have or have not…….it is all about the children.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Jess here!

Wow. It sure is great to be back! Ever since my first visit to Haiti in 2013, I knew I had to make it back ASAP. I left a piece of my heart here for sure.

As you've been reading, we're all having a great time here so far. Though it has been HOT. And I am not the greatest in the heat. Last night I became quite ill with heat exhaustion. It was a pretty rough night! Thankfully Karen is the sweetest woman on the planet and gave up her room so that I could sleep in the AC for awhile. This morning I woke up feeling much better!

The heat was quite brutal today so we all took it pretty easy. We started it with devotions with all of the staff, so the newcomers had a chance to introduce themselves to the workers. After breakfast Patricia and Jenny went over to the school to teach English to the grade 7 class. Apparently it went pretty well!

Teacher Patricia with assistant Jenny teaching a class in English for Luckner

We drove into Verettes so that Mariah could buy some new hair, and the group got to experience the meat market briefly. It wasn't as crazy as it would be on a Saturday, but there were definitely some interesting sights and smells on the go.

Off to Verrettes

Verrettes - waiting for Mariah to shop

When we got home a few school kids came by to pick up some food donations for their families.

Students picking up rice, beans, cornmeal & oil

Student with food items for her family

Mariah is teaching a group of local girls a couple dance routines to perform on Flag Day, and Karen even joined in for a bit. You should have seen her shaking her hips!

Dance class with Mariah

Old lady trying to follow the young lady

Trying to follow Mariah's dance moves was funny

We spent a lot of time playing with the kids. Crystal had the idea to teach them some worship tunes in English, though it seemed as though they already knew them all! It was fun to sing them together nonetheless.

Late afternoon fun time singing with the children

Jofky only interested in messing up Erika's hair

While I'm here I've been given the special task of taking video and photos of the kids for the website. It has been going pretty well-- getting lots of great shots that will be shared on my Facebook sometime next week for sure!

Anyways, that's all for now! I made myself drink lots of water today and avoided spending too much time in the hot sun, so I'm sure I'll sleep better tonight!

God bless!

Written by Kathleen and Mariah

Ladies and Gentleman,

You all better hold on to your hats (not HATS) because it is story time!!!! Featuring the loud and crazy Kathleen, the Sassy but Styling Mariah and the Stubborn but SuperWoman Director.  Trust me this is a good one.

Pictures will be dark due to the secret spy cam that we had :)

For those of you who have the privilege of knowing Karen you know that she does not sit still for a minute, she is constantly running everywhere.  Yesterday was especially busy, every time she turned around there was another something for her to do or someone that needed attending to.  Last night Mariah and I realized the Madame Director needed her beauty sleep!!!!!  "You going to go to bed?" was responded to by "...mmmmmm NOPE!"  Karen wanted Mariah and I to get sleep though so we used this to our advantage :)  Two words:  SLEEP STRIKE!!!!!

Thats right, we told Karen we were refusing sleep until she was asleep!!!
We would not leave her side until her head was on the pillow with her pj's and evening reading material in hand. (We thought this was going to be easy, jokes on us i guess hahahaha)

The evening started out with Mariah and I starting our business, "The Mariah and Kathleen Cafe".  On the menu... EGGS!!!!  After our restaurant was opened we took the order from our first brave customer, the Director herself!!!  Eggs sunnyside up is what she wanted and was served to her in record time with two kinds of cheese and special yummy salt.  With this a glass of water on hand to wash it all down.  Now i know you are all getting hungry hearing about this wonderful cafe and all it has to offer but after making two last eggs for the us Chefs we decided it would be better to close the restaurant.

The director had yummies all in her tummies, but still had pictures to sort and a blog to get out.  So Mariah and I sat and sat and sat and sat and finally convinced her to pack things up. (Now here comes the crazy because by this time we are all tired so things are just getting ridiculous).

With recent event Madame Director decided it would be best if she slept in the living room, renting her room out to a Canadian.  So the group got her a pillow, mattress and sheets.  PERFECT.... right?.... WRONG!!!!!!!  oh so VERYYY wrong.  The director has a very special directors pillow, designed for directors head.  Turns out the Canadian (who shall remain nameless) had her head on this very special pillow.  The director doesnt want to take it and tells Mariah and I that we need to get it or she wont be able to sleep.  However she does say "I can sleep anywhere as long as I have my pillow" LIES!!!!!!!

Mariah and I fix the pillow but then she realizes that she forgot her tooth brush in the room rented out the the Canadian!!  But no worries we get that as well.  But wait!!  "I cannot sleep without my fan" (Mariah at this time is like "I called it") So while the director is brushing her pearly whites we get the fan into position.  Mariah is laying on the bed telling me where the fan needs to be moved so that the wind is at its best.  It is at this time that Mariah and I pull out the measuring tapes and make sure that her bed is parallel to the walls and the distance between her and the walls are an even number of centimeters, not odd and that she has a regulation walk way between her bed and the couch.  She caught us measuring and could not stop laughing!

So Director is in bed, but we realized this had all just been a hilarious series of events soooooooooo we became spys and came in through the kitchen to take a picture of Karen for the blog.  My head lamp ended up reflecting in the window though and Karen caught us red handed!!!

Mariah and Kathleen being super spies

Mariah and I thought that it might be a good idea to keep an eye on her so we moved in.  However we didnt want bugs on us.... Soooooo we moved our tents as well.  Germaine and Ti Luc did not know what to do with themselves when they got up in the morning.  I am sure it was much more hilarious for us, but a fun sleep over for sure.

Kathleen's new home in Karens home

Karen hiding from Mariah's Camera



This morning...

...we woke up and went over to the school to do devotions with the children, lots of singing and clapping! It was truly amazing to experience such joy and passion in worshiping Jesus!

After devotions we came back to the compound to eat breakfast, pancakes and lots of fresh fruit!! We then bagged rice,beans and cornmeal to give out to the community.

Measuring the food to distribute

Preparing rice, beans, cornmeal

Two little helpers

During the children's break at school we went over to meet and play with the children, it was overwhelming to interact with them and see their reactions to us. Our eyes filled up with tears and a part of our hearts will always be here.

Visiting school at recess time

Surrounding the visitors

Patricia with preschool students

Jenny surrounded at recess

Karena Mariah with Ti Mama Mariah

It was heartwarming to be able to feed the preschool children their lunch and see their faces fill up with big smiles.

Delivering a meal to preschool students

Afterwards, Karen took us into Verettes to go to the pharmacy. We rode in the bed of the truck, it was refreshing to feel the nice breeze as we drove as it's very hot and humid!

After lunch we had a mango eating contest Erika ate 3 and Emily ate 5... the winner was JJ with 12!!  We are definitely all enjoying the fresh mangoes!

Four kinds of mangos for the contest

Who can eat the most

After cleaning up we all took a walk down the canal.. we are all very exhausted and are looking forward to getting a good nights rest!  Can't wait to do it all again tomorrow, as we are feeling very blessed to have this experience!

Judel & Jofky - two loving brothers

-Emily Gaunce & Erika Watson

Sunday, April 27, 2014

By Crystal Young

Have you ever fallen asleep under the stars with the moon is your light. That was my experience last night. I felt an awesome overwhelming joy as a lay down  to sleep; the voices of  people singing,  animals and music were all my entertainment. As I went to bed, I was so thankful to God for allowing me the opportunity to be here and experience his splendor.  As the morning approached my group and I got up had breakfast and prepared for Sunday morning service. Breakfast was fantastic! I enjoyed the best tasting oak cake I have had in forever, it was to die for. After breakfast we prayed and gave thanks, many of the kids came over to say good morning. The kids are just a blessing to be around, they are so lovable. Many of them gave us big hugs, smiles and ‘hi fives’. What a blessing! God’s love being expressed through interacting with a child, it is a humbling experience. The children embraced us as if we were family they haven’t seen in a while…wow, I feel right at home.

Crystal with Judel, Jofky & Jonathan

Patricia, Sandra, Anne, Leica, Karena & Djemima

Silly Goose Ti Luc with Silly Goose Kathleen

Before church photo

In a crowded church I heard the voices of angels, their melodies were so harmonious, the room felt as though it was immerse with the power of God. Glorious, magnificent, wonderful are the words that only begin to describe the praise and worship this morning. As for me, I felt right at home, dancing, singing and of course beating the tambourine! The children and locals that attend the church performed a few  special selections that they have been practicing…they were perfect…no music, just the voices of angels….I can listen to them all day.
Church service

Team singing in church

Students group - Voice of the angels

 After the service we spent some time with the attendees, we gave out treats to the kids, they loved it!.

After church

Refreshment time

During a short rain time this afternoon Jess was dancing on the top of Karen's place with the children standing on their gallery dancing with her.

Jess dancing in the rain. My kids dancing with her but on their gallery

After lunch we had an opportunity to watch the kids from the school practice for the Haitian Flag Day, with only one practice with Mariah they were technically ready for the show…so talented! I can definitely learn a thing or two from these kids. In the cool of the day we took an opportunity to organize our donations. My heart was heavy as we did this, I thought about all the things we throw away, all the clothes, shoes and everyday items we disregard without thinking of those less fortunate than ourselves. Our teams donated a variety of items, clothes, shoes, medical supplies, toys, and things you would never think to donate 'maple syrup'.

Donated medical supplies that will be going to a clinic and hospital

Some of the donated toys

This day will forever be in my heart and mind. The scripture that resonates with me today is "'.... whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Matt 25:40.  I am so happy I decided to come to HATS, this experience will stay with me for my life time.