Monday, May 28, 2012

English Classes

Today  we had the chance to teach some English classes at the orphanage.  This morning, we were supposed to go to Pikmi with the team from Marion, but our plans were changed, so we headed to the orphanage.  When we arrived, some of the older girls who normally go out to secondary school were still at the orphanage.  They didn't have water to wash with, so they couldn't go to school. So we took the opportunity to teach the girls some English since they couldn't be at their school. Some of the house moms and the school secretary also joined in the mini class.  

This afternoon, we went back and did three 20 minute lessons with the kids. The kids stayed in their room and Chrissy, Ann and I rotated after 20 minutes.  We were surprised with how much the children already knew. They were eager to learn new things.  I think it was a good first attempt.  Now we know better how to prepare and teach in future classes.  

Chrissy teaching parts of the body. The kids were laughing at her drawings ;-)

Renee teaching common phrases. 

Ann (and Morgan) teaching the alphabet and phonics.

Friday, May 25, 2012


This is Freneau. He is the 4th grade teacher at the orphanage and has been there for three years.  This week we have started to develop a relationship with Freneau in hopes that we can earn his friendship and trust and then start investing into him as a teacher.  We were talking with him a few days ago and he told us that it was his dream to be a teacher. He also hopes that someday he can take college classes to learn how to be a better teacher. Freneau actually speaks pretty good English in comparison to others here.  He, however does not think that he speaks well and has asked us if we would help him with his pronunciation.  So we've agreed to help him with English and he is going to help us with Creole.  Looking forward to investing in this man and also to giving him his book soon!! He will be SO excited!

I've also just recently been informed of another opportunity to teach an English class (or two or three) at the National School in Anse a Galets.  Edison, a teacher at the school and friend of Matt who we're here with through Okipe, has asked if I would come and teach his class of 100 STUDENTS! He has been teaching them English, but he wants someone who's native language is English to come and "test" them. I'm looking forward to seeing how a class of 100 students works.  More on that later!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thank You!!

In less than 24 hours, we reached our goal for the Translation Books!! Thank you so much to everyone who helped out! We REALLY appreciate it. We have a contact in Port au Prince who will buy the books tomorrow and hopefully we'll receive them by boat on Saturday with the team coming from Marion. Stay tuned next week for pictures of us giving the teachers their books!! Thanks again, your generosity will make a huge impact on these teachers' lives!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Donate Translation Books!

As we have been able to speak with the teacher's at the orphanage here in Haiti, they have all asked for a Creole/English translation books. We did some digging and found an organization over in Port au Prince that distributes a good book we would like to provide to the teacher's.

We are told each book costs $25.00 an we need approximately 10 copies. We will try to negotiate a better price but need help funding this expense. We are looking for a total of $250.00 to supply this need.

If you are able to help please use the Paypal link below to donate! 



Craig and I have started spending our mornings up at the orphanage. Our main task at this point is to observe the daily schedule, school, operations, and build relationships with the staff.  We also like to help when we can. The orphanage is a two story building. The boys sleep downstairs and their bedrooms are also transformed into the school rooms during the day.  The girls sleep upstairs and that is also where the office and kitchen area are as well.  While the children are in school downstairs, the women are very busy cleaning all the bedding, mopping the floors, doing the laundry and cooking meals for over 70 children.  The children's morning starts very early with breakfast around 6:30 and then school at 7:00. The preschool children start at 8:00.  They have two preschool classes and then 6 different classes for 1st-6th grade.

We have been able to start making relationships with the workers there. It is neat because most of them are really anxious to learn English. The kids are starting to not be quite so aware of our presence. Our hope is that we won't be a distraction soon and that we'll just "blend in" as much as possible.

Part way through the morning, the kids have a break from school and all come upstairs for a meal.  The women work non stop to feed all 70+ children in about 20-30 minutes.  When I came upstairs, this little guy in the picture above was laying on one of the benches where the children eat. His mom, Madame Phillipe, is one of the cooks.  He was taking up space for about three children, so I volunteered to hold him :) As soon as the children are done eating, they move back downstairs for more school and the women immediately begin mopping and cleaning the mess from the meal.  I was impressed with all they do every day.

We are learning a lot, but we are still finding that language is such a huge barrier. We have a translator, but it seems that he isn't understanding our questions well enough to translate them to Madame Solliette.  Then she doesn't understand what he's asking and can't quite anwer the real question we're trying to ask.  Then, even when she does give an answer, we only get part of that back because I don't think he knows enough English to really translate what she is trying to say back to us.  Long story short - this is a huge prayer request.  I really want this to work with our translator, Webster. We are forming a good relationship with him, and Mme Solliette has a trust with him as well which is important in the future as we'll be discussing more financial issues, etc.

When we got back from the orphanage this morning, we sat down with Webster and he gave us a lesson in Creole as we drank some Coke. I'm hoping the more we talk with him, the more he'll understand us and us him.

Here's a picture of Craig helping one of the younger children eat their breakfast this morning.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Slack Line Pictures

Tightening the slack line

And a gang of pirates!

My Heart is Full

We arrived on La Gonove on Saturday. Things really slow down on the island on the weekends, especially Sunday, so we were able to have a couple days to settle in and rest before we hit the ground running.  God has truly provided in so many ways. The people here are wonderful.  Morgan and Jaron have fallen in love with one of the missionaries here who teaches English classes to the locals.  They have adopted her as their grandma for the summer. Mama G loves on them both as if they were her own. Everyone has been so welcoming.  The kids have had non stop playmates since we arrived.  There are a lot of families who are serving long term and the kids have been spoiled with entertainment.

Yesterday after lunch, Matt hooked up his slack line for us to try. All of the kids had a chance and then some of us adults took a try too.  It's much harder than it looks!! It's my goal to walk without any assistance by the time we leave. Usually on Sunday's they'll take the boat out to the sandbar for snorkeling, but yesterday was too windy and the waves were too choppy to go out.  The kids were great about it and didn't complain at all.  After we were done with the slack line, Craig dug out the Ladder Ball set that we brought.  Most people had never played before so it was fun teaching them the rules and watching them figure it out. I think we'll have many more games in the future!

I feel like we're all adjusting pretty well.  The heat does take a toll, but I hear that it's been in the 90's back home! The sun is just really intense. We find shade whenever possible.  (No worries mom, we're layering up in sunscreen and mosquito spray!)

Today starts the beginning of our official "work." We're a bit nervous about what the next few days will look like. It's kind of the nerves you have when you start a new job.  It's a bit overwhelming and first impressions are always important.  Please pray that Madame Solliette will connect and feel comfortable with Craig and that she will see/feel our hearts. Help us to be humble and to show love through our actions since we are not able to speak much of the language.  I have a feeling we'll be observing a lot this week, just trying to get our bearings.  The kids are excited to finally get up to the orphanage and meet all the kids.

I'll post a couple photos from our slack line experience when I have a better connection!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Thank you all for your prayers. All four of us slept MUCH better last night!!  Getting ready to get on the boat and head over to the island. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

We've Made It

We have made it to Haiti. Wednesday was a full day of traveling. We arrived in Port au Prince late afternoon and met our driver who then took us to a guest house for the night.  The kids were able to play with three of the four girls who live at the guest house. It was nice for them to have some kids to play with right off the bat.  We had a huge thunderstorm welcome us on our first night. It was sooo loud - we were quite a ways up the mountain - I don't know if that made it louder or not, but it was definitey louder than Indiana storms.  It was a welcome storm though. With the storms usually comes cooler temperatures. 

Yesterday we visited three different grocery stores.  One of the things that I was most nervous about was the food.  After seeing the supermarket, I really had nothing to worry about.  We were able to get just about anything that we would have in the states. Even some of the same brands of food that I buy regularly.  The only catch is that the items are about double the price.  It was also really difficut to shop and plan for a month since we won't be making a trip back to the mainland for a month or so.  We'll see where we're at in a month if I did a good job or not!  It's also tricky keeping the frozen food frozen and cold food cold since the stores are about a 2 hour drive the the boat dock. Then we'll have a two hour boat ride to the island tomorrow. 

After shopping we made our way to Dan and Joy Irvine's place.  They live right on the coast and we were able to snorkle with the kids a bit yesterday.  It was so refreshing and it was just what the kids needed.  They have really done so well.  Morgan seems to be more of a quiet observer. Each night we've talked about things they saw that day that they thought was interesting, scary, different, neat, etc.  Morgan usually has quite a bit to talk about and Jaron just listens for the most part.  Jaron has been pretty emotional.  I think some of it is due to being tired, but he is also having tummy trouble. He's on the toilet with diarrehea multiple times a day.  I think the malaria medicine is just running its course through his little body.  He isn't complaining and we're making sure we're keeping him extra hydrated. 

Nights have been tough.  I (Renee) haven't slept well either of the two nights we've been here.  First, it is very hot, even at night.  I also just have a lot running through my mind and can't seem to shut down.  There are also a lot of different noises - dogs barking, roosters crowing at 4 in the morning, the waves of the ocean, the local taxi's and other traffic driving by and blaring their horns all hours of the night.  Once we get to the island, things will be a bit calmer.  Praying I'll find GOOD sleep soon :)

We head for La Ganove tomorrow morning on the boat.  Hopefully we'll have calm waters to cross.  Yesterday the water was very calm, but today it is pretty rough with lots of white caps.  It's still very sunny and clear so I'm not to sure what makes the difference. 

I know some of you are reading and are curious about making cross cultural trips with your little ones in the near future.  It has definitely been an exhausting, emotional trip so far.  My advice is to pack plenty of snacks that your kids love. (Which I did not do) When they are adjusting to everything else culturally, if you have picky kids, food is not something you want to battle.  It's so important that they are eating something that if you have things they like, it's helpful.  Also, try not to schedule too much the first week.  You're going to need time to adjust.  Bring games and activities for the kids that you can do with them.  There is so much change that they need your attention even more than home.  I also had friends and family make cards for the kids and I brought them with us.  I gave both kids their first card last night and that REALLY lifted their spirits. I'm so thankful that they'll be able to hear from so many of you. It seriously helped them feel "home" after they read the card.

I'll try to post some more pictures soon.  I've posted some on facebook if you're friends with us on there.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer!

Thanks so much for the prayers and following along!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Today's the day!  We're all packed up and heading out this evening. First stop - Chicago! We'll be staying in Chicago tonight and catching a flight at 7:30am to Ft. Lauderdale and then on to Port au Prince. If all goes as planned we should arrive in Haiti by 4pm on Wednesday.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support!!  I have felt the peace of God over these last days, weeks and months.  I know that without Him, I would be a mess right now. I am so thankful for His peace that passes understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

First of all, I am so thankful for these two children. God has given me such wonderful, caring, loving, forgiving, laid back children.  They mean the world to me and I am so thankful that I can be their mom.  I truly feel that being a mom is one of the most wonderful things in the world. Once I became a mother, I started to understand a bit more the love of our heavenly Father.  
 I also really love this next picture.  I love that my mom made a choice to serve God and to raise us kids in a different environment than she was raised in.  I'm also very thankful that my grandparents now know and love Jesus.  I am not one who has a long generational faith, but I cherish the fact that my mom wanted something different, something better, something eternal for her future generations.  I have so many beautiful memories of my grandmother - playing at her house and spending the night - playing in her cupboards for hours, and her spinning us in a chair until we couldn't stand it any more.  
Then, a few months ago, while grandma was visiting - she was walking around the entire time humming or singing hymns and praise choruses.  Morgan asked her, "Nana, why are you always singing?" She said, "Because I love Jesus and that way Satan doesn't even get a chance to ruin my day!" Love that example for my little one :-)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

10 DAYS and counting!!

Hey friends! Just wanted to give you an update on how you can be praying for us this week!

First of all, please pray that this stress and anxiety does not creep up on me this week.  My emotions are starting to be a bit raw with the goodbyes (see ya later's!)  My parents just left after a weekend visit and I know that this week will be full of more see ya later's. So please pray for a peace and a calm over our family. Pray also that we have FUN this week together and don't get too caught up with the "to do's" that we forget what's important.

My goal this week is to be 90% packed by Friday.  (I'll keep you posted!!) I want to be able to have the weekend and last two days to rest and leave time for any last minute things. 

Also, please pray for health.  I have a couple things I'm dealing with that I'd like to get taken care of before we leave and I know that it's probably a bit stress related, but if you could pray, that would be fantastic!

Lastly, since so many of you have asked if we have time for one last get together before we leave, we are planning an evening for our friends and family to come out and see us all at once.  This Friday, we'll be having a campfire at Craig's parent's house.  We'll plan to meet around 7:00.  We'd love to see you and if you want, bring a snack to share!! We'll cover the s'mores!  If you don't know where Craig's parents live and would like to come, please just send me an email at and I'll get you their address!

Thanks everyone!! We appreciate your support of our family!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Language Learning

(taken April 2010 when we were on a walk)

Over the past three months, we've been trying to learn Creole, the language spoken in Haiti.  I'm so thankful for modern technology.  Craig and I have an app on our phone that was free because of earthquake relief!  Last night as I was practicing, I was having a really tough time. I remember just thinking, God, please help me. I can't remember anything! It was seriously instant - I felt my mind clear and I could remember things REALLY easily!  I'm not only thankful for technology, I'm thankful for a GOD who is in control and can do BIG things!  What a wonderful assurance of God's presence that was for me!!  He cares. Even about communication.  Keep praying that we'll continue to absorb as much of the language as we can before we leave in just 13 days!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Good Reminder

"Every hour of the day is useful and may lead to divine inspiration...every hour of the day is holy. What matters is to live it as Jesus taught us. And for this, one does not have to shut oneself in a monastery or fix strange & inhumane regimes for one's life. It is enough to accept the realities of life. Work is one of these realities; motherhood, the rearing of children, family life with all its obligations are others."
-an excerpt from Letters from the Dessert by Carlo Carretto

I'm so thankful for this reminder. In my crazy life, it is enough to just accept the craziness as realities of life.  I don't have to shut myself in my closet or steal away to a place of solitude to see every hour as useful and holy.  God is helping me to see each moment as a gift from Him and to not ever minimize what being a stay at home mommy means for my family.  So thankful for this opportunity and wouldn't trade my craziness for all the "normalcy" in the world!!