Sunday, January 31, 2016

God's support in growing up

It’s been a very eventful January here in Haiti, which I hope justifies the neglect of my blog for over a month! Just after settling back into a semi-routine in Cap-Haitien following Christmas, I made a quick, last-minute trip back home to take care of some health concerns. It was nice to be able to visit with family and friends, some of whom I would not have seen otherwise. Less than a week later, my parents came to visit me in Cap and we had a nice weekend together visiting the Citadelle and showing them around the city. The next week, I gave the first quarter exam to my students at CASB, and not too long after, I was asked to attend the Diocese of Haiti’s annual convention (Synod) in Port au Prince with members of the Development Office team from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, along with a few other missionary colleagues. I felt so privileged to be able to attend meetings between the Presiding Bishop’s staff and various clergy from the Diocese of Haiti, many of whom are running Episcopal schools. I even got to present on CASB with a co-missionary, Kyle Evans, who has been coming to Haiti for many years now.

Now that I am finally returning to a more normalized schedule, I’ve had some time to reflect on some of the wonderful opportunities as well as stresses and challenges that I’ve experienced, not just within the past month, but since coming to Haiti in September. Although I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding and more blessed experience overall, I’ve also (quite naturally, I think) combatted loneliness, challenges in daily life and in my responsibilities and homesickness. In the past few weeks, I’ve found myself at times so wrapped up in these feelings that I’m tempted to indulge in self-pity. It’s taken some courage to accept the grittier aspects of adulthood, to which my transition from childhood seems to be moving faster and faster as I take on life in a different country and a culture far removed from my own.

My youth director from my home parish, who, upon hearing that I had decided to do YASC, said to me, “you’re going to be forced to learn how to sit on your discomfort.” There won’t be as many easy escapes to the challenges you’ll face, she added. And she was right—there are no easy escapes. I can’t go running to others as easily here when I’ve had a hard time. In moments of particular weakness, I long to be coddled and pitied by others. But whenever I sense that feeling starting to grow and cloud what could be a much brighter outlook, I check myself. Each time that I do this, I become more and more impressed upon the notion that it is the transition to adulthood that reveals to us the hard truth of Christ as the only one who is really capable of supporting us in every stage of our life journey. The things that I would like to change about my life are not things that other people can “fix” for me. And even then, I can’t always fix them myself. That’s when the “sitting on my discomfort” comes in, and when I am left with only God to help me sort through my emotions, to carry the weight of them, and to find my grounding, my hope and my spark again.

Thanks to my ever-growing relationship with Jesus, my burden IS eased and I’m given the time and space to embrace the positive aspects of young adulthood, enjoying the privileges—some for the first time— that being technically “grown up” bring, particularly in terms of my experience in Haiti. I get more control in some parts of my life that allow me to exercise my creativity and my own ideas—I get to structure my English classes the way I think is best, I get to take on extra tasks and responsibilities that I’m interested in accomplishing, and I get to explore this rich place in the way that I want to—by seeking relationships that are genuine and that depend solely on what I have to offer as an individual, and not on what someone else thinks is best for me. I’m able to exercise my own judgement in making decisions about my actions and my behavior, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be treated and trusted as an adult by my coworkers and supervisors, here in Haiti and in the U.S. 

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me -Psalm 54:4
Visiting with my grandfather and Ferlito cousins

Cannons at the Citadelle Laferrière

Panorama shot from the top of the Citadelle

It was a long way up!

View of fellow visitors from the top

Insignia on cannons

View of the Sans Souci Palace in Milot

View of the city of Milot from the palace, including Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church

The guardhouse beyond the Citadelle

Family shot

My parents ended up needing the horses

Dad fitting some work in during our tour of CASB

Things are starting to grow in the fields behind the classroom buildings!

Another beach day at Labadie, because why not?

An advertisement for the new English class offered at St. Esprit Episcopal VoTech School (one of which will be taught by yours truly!)

Art at the Perroquet Hotel in Port au Prince

"The Gingerbread House" at UNEPH (L'Université Episcopale d'Haïti). Constructed in the 1920s, the building is considered a historical site, and cannot be torn down.

An enclosed memorial dedicated to the students of UNEPH who were tragically killed in the January, 2010 earthquake

A distant view of a statue of King Henri Christophe in the Champs de Mars district of Port au Prince


Gardens of the Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien in Port au Prince. We had lunch at the adjoining restaurant.

Handprints of students at St. Vincent's Episcopal School for Handicapped Children in Port au Prince

The temporary structure of the Cathédrale Sainte Trinité in Port au Prince, set for the opening Eucharist of the Diocese of Haiti 2016 Synod. The cathedral was destroyed in the earthquake and is currently in the process of being rebuilt.

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