Friday, January 30, 2015

Haitian School Board and Teacher Team in Haiti

January 19 - 21, 2015

Today was a busy, but wonderful day.  We got up early and brought all our bags and teaching supplies to be packed into the van for the drive to Haiti.  We took over 150 children’s pictures at Ebenezer School in record time, with everyone doing their part. Since we didn’t have the opportunity to see Ebenezer classes last week, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to observe the opening ceremony then be able to quickly visit the preschool and elementary classes.  Ruth and the kitchen staff served us a filling Dominican breakfast for the long journey and we left around 9:30 a.m.

Crossing the border into Haiti was an unforgettable experience! To compound the activity, Monday is market day and so many retailers were there with bulk goods to sell.  There didn’t seem to be any order to this process and so many vehicles were trying to squeeze into such a small area at the same time. Pastor Herve and the Haitian School Board calmly led us through the chaotic experience and we continued into Haiti.

We arrived about 2:00 p.m. at the Mission Center and quickly dropped off our luggage, gathered teaching materials and headed to the Teachers’ Academy to begin the first day of lessons.  Ellionaire introduced us and the teachers sang a song to welcome us. The room was beautifully decorated with ribbons, balloons and flowers.  Instead of keeping the group together this year, we divided into two smaller groups of about 30 each. Bev taught a lesson on how to incorporate music and movement into their classrooms while Sharon taught a lesson on mathematics using the place value manipulatives and rulers that will be left at the schools.   Nicole and Sherry reviewed Piaget’s concepts on learning and demonstrated parachute activities.  The students at the teacher school loved trying out all these activities.  The parachutes and balls will also be left at the schools and Judy gave a lesson about the basics of public speaking.

Waking up today, it felt somewhat bittersweet knowing it was our last full day here on this island that, for the past week, has truly felt like home. However, the last day of teaching surely didn’t disappoint. We visited the school Dupin today. This school has an amazing hike through small villages, across a stream, and up a mountain. Once we arrived we got straight to teaching. I personally taught an English lesson today to fifth and sixth graders (about 42 students). Since their English knowledge is little to none, I started with a lesson on teaching them their numbers and played a counting game, and ended with a lesson on family and created family trees. The students seemed to especially enjoy hearing me try to pronounce some of their family members’ names. It was an amazing experience to interact with the children and be a part of their education. After that we finished up our day at MPCA teaching language and math classes. Reflecting back on this week I have seen God’s hand at work in so many ways. It won’t ever matter how many times He brings me back to the same island, I continue to stand in awe of His majesty.

Last night as I was preparing for my lesson, my devotional reading said this:
“Our Lord Jesus differs from all other teachers. They reach the ear, but He instructs the heart. They deal with the outward letter, but He imparts an inward taste for the truth, by which we perceive its savor and spirit. The most unlearned of individuals become ripe scholars in the school of grace.”

Haitian School Board and Teacher Team in the DR

January 14-19, 2015

Everyone arrived last night - American Teachers and Haitian School Board.  We had a wonderful meal prepared by people from Ebenezer Church and we are currently in our first meetings of the trip.  (See photos below).  We started the morning off with a tour of the school and we are now meeting with school administrators so that our Haitian leaders can learn from them and the excellent structure of our school here in Barahona.

We are in meetings this morning, will have time to spend with children this afternoon, visiting other schools outside the area tomorrow and maybe take school pictures on Monday.

24 hours in Barahona and it feels like we are home.  Our day (all 17 of us~ the Haitian school board and our ladies) was full of exactly what God planned. We were able to meet with the leadership of our Ebenezer School, followed by a meeting with the teachers of the school and wrapped up with a meeting of the parents’ association.  We were all able to share thoughts, ideas and visions for the schools both here and in Haiti. What a gift to have three countries’ school systems represented and to learn from each.  After lunch, the American crew was able to spend a few hours with a small group of students from the school playing games and even slid in a small English lesson. 

Mission Possible is in the process of building a Creole church here and it was overwhelming to pull up tonight and see a physical sanctuary where I personally had walked on a small patch of dirt several years ago.  The small tears were ones of overwhelming joy at the persistence of the followers of Christ here in the Dominican.  

Dominican, Haitian, and American Educators all together

The Creole church - almost ready to be used

We spent the last two days in the capitol city of Santo Domingo.  On the way there we stopped at two public schools to tour and let the Haitian school board men get a look at what the schools were like.  At the second school, we were able to be a part of a teacher inservice and collaborate together (Americans, Dominicans, and Haitians). It was definitely a divine appointment. We stayed the night in a hotel and then had an exciting day shopping in the market, seeing the historical sights, and riding the subway. This was a special treat for the Haitian men as most of them have never been to a big city or ridden on a subway. 

What a wonderful Lord’s Day we have had! Praise God for the Sabbath! After breakfast, we joined the Ebenezer congregation in their morning service, where we experienced worship in many different forms and languages. The praise songs were sung in Spanish, French, Creole, and yes, even some in English. We were moved by the graceful and prayerful dancing of ten Dominican young ladies. Pastor Rosemond, one of the Haitian school board members, shared the message from Galatians 3:21-29. He encouraged and reminded the congregation that nothing is too difficult for our God. The service was spirit-filled and the joy of the Lord could be felt throughout.

We spent the afternoon on preparations for our departure to Haiti tomorrow morning and the lessons we will teach tomorrow afternoon at the teachers’ school in Lanzac.  We then rested in the sunshine, visiting and looking at our view of the mountains and the blue, blue waters of the Caribbean (from the top of the mission center).

Our original plan to travel to Haiti this afternoon was changed.  Once again, God provided a better option.  This allowed us to rejoin the Ebenezer congregation for their evening worship.  What a lively celebration!  We witnessed such joy and love for God in their singing, dancing, beautiful smiles and warm hugs!  There didn’t seem to be a language barrier, even though there were four different languages being spoken and sung.  That is the work of the Holy Spirit!