Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye, 2010

This time last year, I was chattering away about the year's reading and posting links to interesting articles. I was looking forward to the new year after a relaxing Christmas vacation. I had no idea how my life was about to change.

When the new year began, I continued to post trivia: new words I'd learned, pieces I'd read. And then came the post from January 14th. The title was "We are alive." I wrote:
This is my first time online after the earthquake - guess I just outed myself about where I am. Please, please pray. Things are worse than anyone can imagine. Our whole family is fine and our house and school are standing and apparently undamaged. 14 others at our house.

What a year it was. This is my 410th post this year. I think my blog was on the verge of dying a natural death; in 2009 I had only posted 94 times. But in 2010 I became a compulsive blogger. I couldn't stop writing. I couldn't stop weeping and wailing about Haiti and what had happened to it and to its people.

But weeping and wailing wasn't all I did in 2010. This year I experienced the most intense emotions of my life. The most intense fear, panic, grief, and pain, but also the most intense love, joy, and gratitude. I felt like a teenager again, careening between one extreme and the other. In September I called it "the roller coaster of grief and joy."

For the last couple of years, I have chosen One Little Word. In 2009 my word was "LOOK." In 2010 I hadn't chosen a word when the year began. I was thinking about the word "LOVED." There was no way I could have known how 2010 would be the year when I finally began to grasp how very much God loves me. I wrote more about that here. My evidence for God's love for me, by the way, is not the fact that my family and I survived the earthquake. He loved those who died just as much. But in the middle of my grief and pain, God met me. He showed me His love through the beautiful way He took care of me when my world fell down. He met my every need. So much so that I felt guilty. On January 18th I wrote about how overwhelmed I felt: overwhelmed with pain, with gratitude, and with guilt - why was I being cared for when people in Haiti were suffering so much?

I did my best to tell others about what was going on in Haiti, both on my blog and in the opportunities I got for public speaking. I felt there was nothing else I could do. Well, that and support my husband, who was working long days in Haiti coordinating relief work. That was hard to do, being so far away, and not getting to talk to him very often. I had to try to be where I was and let him do the same. And God gave me other people to talk to; He gave me my family and He gave me friends, new and old.

I wrote here about some of the lessons I learned during my time in the States in the first half of this year.

When I got back to Haiti, the challenges continued. I felt broken and of course, Haiti was broken too. Here's a post about a building I see often. We were tired of crisis, what with people living in tent cities everywhere, cholera, a hurricane, and election-related protests.

I was going to say, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," but Katie already used that line. Instead I'll say that this year was not at all what I was expecting. It was terrible and terrifying, but it was also joyful and I end it appreciating everything and everyone in my life more than ever before.

My One Little Word this year is "TRUST." God showed me in 2010 that I can trust Him, even when the worst happens. I can trust Him in loss and suffering. I can trust Him with those I love. I don't want to forget that in 2011. I hope it will be an easier year than 2010, but there's certainly no guarantee of that. But whatever happens, I know God will be with me. I will continue to pray fervently for Haiti and work as hard as I can helping to educate future leaders for this beautiful country. I will also leave Haiti in God's hands, trusting that even when I can't see it, He is working.

Poetry Friday: Apollinaire

I'm writing this post a couple of weeks in advance, since I'm not sure I'll have access to a computer on this future date (December 31st) to post. I looked in my copy of this book to give me inspiration, and I thought what Laurie Sheck chose was perfect, so that's what I'm going to share.

Sheck has Richard Wilbur's translation, and I will also link you to the translation at (why don't people list the translator?), and to the poem in French, which is how I read it first, in college.

I love Apollinaire's reminder that, though the days don't come back, joy comes back again after sorrow. I learned that this year, among many other lessons. And the joy that came back was greater than the joy I had before, because joy tinged with sorrow is an awareness of what life is, how beautiful it is and how fleeting. 2011, I fear you, and yet I reach out to you, too, knowing that God will be with me.

Mirabeau Bridge

Guillaume Apollinaire

Under the Mirabeau Bridge there flows the Seine
Must I recall
Our loves recall how then
After each sorrow joy came back again

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

Hands joined and face to face let's stay just so
While underneath
The bridge of our arms shall go
Weary of endless looks the river's flow

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

All love goes by as water to the sea
All love goes by
How slow life seems to me
How violent the hope of love can be

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

The days the weeks pass by beyond our ken
Neither time past
Nor love comes back again
Under the Mirabeau bridge there flows the Seine

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

Here's the translation at and here's Le Pont Mirabeau in French along with helpful commentary if you're preparing for your bac.

Happy New Year! I hope to see you in 2011.

The Poetry Friday roundup is here.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Harry Potter Revisited

My reading has slowed down considerably lately, or at least my finishing of books. I have been reading around a lot and not finishing much. But yesterday I finished book #66 of the year - and it's looking as though that will be the last.

I reread Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The first time I read it was right after it came out. I wasn't one of those who stood in line at midnight or one who pre-ordered; I showed massive restraint, waited until the next day, and bought my copy from the heaps at WalMart. Then I read it as fast as I possibly could. We went on a trip that week, and I was in a hotel room with my son and my nephew. I put the boys to bed and then sat on the floor between the bathroom and the room door and read the book by the light from the bathroom until I finished it.

If you didn't read the book yet, stop here, because there might be some spoilers coming up.

It was good to read this book again, and I enjoyed it very much. I love the King's Cross chapter, and seeing all the various threads brought together. I love the complexities revealed in the characters, particularly Dumbledore, James Potter, and, of course, Snape. My favorite quote: "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?" I realize that this could be taken to justify all kinds of delusions, but to me it simply means that the life of the mind has an existence of its own.

I like Rowling's wordplay, her creativity, and the characterizations, which became increasingly subtle in later books. The whole Harry Potter series was entertaining and fun.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Out with the Old

I always enjoy reading people's end-of-year reflections. I've been in a reflective mood myself, and I'm sure I will be posting in that vein in the next few days. Meanwhile, I particularly enjoyed Heather's take on the year that was.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Poetry Friday: Hark how all the welkin rings

Two years ago I posted Charles Wesley's Christmas hymn, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." This year I found a more complete version, with the wonderful original opening line: "Hark, how all the welkin rings." Welkin is an old English word meaning heavens, or just sky. I wonder if anybody sang it this way this Christmas.

I am sad that some of these verses are never sung any more. For Haiti in 2011, I'm asking God, "Now display thy saving power, Ruin’d nature now restore."

For Christmas Day

by Charles Wesley

Hark, how all the welkin rings,
“Glory to the King of kings;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconcil’d!”

Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
Universal nature say,
“Christ the Lord is born to-day!”

Christ, by highest Heaven ador’d,
Christ, the everlasting Lord:
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb!

Veil’d in flesh, the Godhead see,
Hail th’ incarnate Deity!
Pleas’d as man with men to appear,
Jesus, our Immanuel here!

Hail, the heavenly Prince of Peace,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.

Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth;
Born to give them second birth.

Come, desire of nations, come,
Fix in us thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conquering seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Now display thy saving power,
Ruin’d nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to thine.

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp thy image in its place.
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.

Let us thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the life, the inner man:
O, to all thyself impart,
Form’d in each believing heart.

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup, at A Year of Reading.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

John's Haircut

I wanted to follow up on this post. If you scroll down to the bottom of it you will see an announcement that John McHoul had agreed to have his head shaved if Tara and friends could raise $50,000 to begin work on a hospital at Heartline. They raised $56,000, and here's a video of the haircut.

It's fun to see John get his head shaved, but it is seriously wonderful to think of a fully-equipped maternity hospital at Heartline. There's already a birthing center, but because many of these women are high-risk, Heartline ends up having to transport women in labor quite often, and there just aren't a lot of good options for them. This hospital will be life-saving and will treat these women with dignity, respect and love. Every woman should deliver her baby in peace and safety. Hooray for Heartline for making that possible for the women they serve!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Amen, Tara

What she said.

In the Bleak Midwinter

Kelly Fineman shared this video with her Poetry Friday post and it is so beautiful I couldn't help sharing it, too. I love this Christmas poem with its reminder that Mary was a new mom, loving her baby, as well as its focus on the divinity of Jesus and the amazing fact that He came to this world even though Heaven itself isn't big enough to hold Him. (At the link to Kelly's post you can read the whole poem, since the performance doesn't include all the verses.)

Poetry Friday: The Present

I finished all my school work yesterday, so today I am home with a very different kind of to-do list. It wasn't easy yesterday, writing lesson plans for the first week of January, thinking about that upcoming anniversary of the earthquake and remembering last year, when I looked forward to the new year of 2010 with so much hope. I shed many tears as I wrote those lesson plans, and I am imagining that teaching them will be challenging as well.

Today I am thinking about the present, and what a gift each day is. Including this day, the first day of my Christmas vacation. This is the oldest of ideas, carpe diem. I always tried to seize each day, but the earthquake burned into my brain that we never know what day is our last. Life is a beautiful gift, and a gift to be enjoyed now because we don't know when it will be gone.

So of course, in that mood, the poet to be reading is Pablo Neruda. (By the way, I just recently saw The Motorcycle Diaries and one of my favorite things about the movie was the way the characters kept quoting Neruda.) Today I am thinking about Christmas Present, and about the joy that each day brings along with its difficulties.

I have the George Schade translation of Neruda's odes (sadly I can't read them in Spanish), and online I found a different translation (not sure whose). So I'll post part of the translation I have and then link you to the other one. I like the Schade translation better but I'm not equipped to say which is more accurate.

Ode to the Present

Pablo Neruda

as a board,
this hour,
this day,
like a new glass,
- there's no
of the past -
we touch
the present
with our fingers,
we cut
its measure,
its sprouting,
it's alive
with nothing
of irremediable yesterday,
of lost past,
it's our
at this
moment, bearing
sand, eating
from our hands,
seize it,
don't let it slip,
get lost in dreams
or words,
grab it,
hold it down,
until it obeys you,
make a road of it,
a bell,
a machine,
kiss, book,
cut its delightful
woodlike fragrance,
and make of it
a chair,
its back,
try it out,
or else
a ladder!

Here's the whole thing in a different translation.

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is at The Poem Farm, and Amy has a wonderful original poem today, so go read it posthaste, as well as the others linked there. That's one of the things on my to-do list for today.

Seize the day!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The next thing on my to-do list is to write lesson plans for the first week back at school in January. I am having a hard time with that. I keep trying, but I can't even think about what I'll do with those class hours. I just can't seem to write "January" on the planning sheet. I look at the plans I wrote for the first week of school last January, and I can't remember teaching them. And then I think about the second week of school, and that Tuesday that shattered Haiti and all of our lives: January 12th, the earthquake that destroyed the city where I live and killed 300,000 people in 35 seconds.

A friend suggested writing "Day 1," "Day 2," "Day 3," and so on, instead of those scary January dates leading up to January 12th. It's a good suggestion, but still, I can't start the planning sheet. I just can't.

So I was doing what I do: distracting myself with something, anything. I cleaned my board really really well. I made a bunch of extra copies of my Reading Log form. I looked at my schedule for next semester. I even got out planning sheets. And then I decided to read some blogs.

And I read this post, where Jonalyn Fincher writes about an accident her dad had, and how God met her family during their time of crisis, in big and small ways, in very personal ways that mattered to her.

Here's a quote from the post:
During house church this last Sunday, Andrew asked about what I do when I feel under the weight of a blues week – as last week was – what comforts me? I told him that I know I’m under Mighty Wings. I’m covered, I’m protected and if I’m under God’s shadow then he must be near. Even when I don’t see him.

Thousands of years ago a Jewish musical artist and king wrote,

“How precious is your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings” (Ps 36:7). (Thank you to Robin Cox for sharing this meaningful verse with me!)

I’ve meditated on that verse for months and months now. Lynn, a pastor’s wife in town, shared a quote about lovingkindness at Finn’s baby shower months ago.

Giving a child a piece of bread with butter is love; spreading jam on it is lovingkindness.

Ah, God's lovingkindness. It brings tears to my eyes to think of how He has met me in the past year, like He met Jonalyn, in ways that mattered to me. In March I wrote this post about how God was showing me how much He loves me. I know that now in a way I have never known it before: God loves me.

Some of the ways God has spread jam on my bread in the past year:

Family. He let me spend months with my parents unexpectedly. And both my brothers were in the same state, with their wives and children. The three of us live in three different countries and who knows when we will ever be able to spend so much time together again? I got to go to Pigeon Forge with my parents and my kids, drink tea and talk with my sisters-in-law, who are like sisters to me, enjoy my nephews and nieces, share in family dinners where we all ate and laughed until we hurt. And in spite of the forced separation my family suffered, with my husband in Haiti and the kids and me in the States, God brought us closer together than we have ever been. We appreciate each other much more now than before, and treasure our time together.

Friends. God showed me how many wonderful people He has put in my life. Old friends and new ones blessed me in more ways than I can even count. I'm crying now as I write this, remembering how very, very good God was to me, and continues to be, through my friends. I've written often about this before. I needed people, and they were there. They loved me so well, and they continue to do that. As Haitians say, m'pap janm suspann di Bondye mesi: I'll never stop thanking God.

Writing. For years, my writing has been more a source of guilt to me than anything else. I should be writing more. Why can't I get anything published? What I write just isn't good enough. Now I'm writing more than I ever have (or at least since, as a teenager, I filled notebook after notebook with angst that I find excruciating to read now), and I'm experiencing, maybe for the first time since the inhibiting effect of graduate school, that compulsion to just write it down. Who cares if it's good or bad? Who cares if anyone reads it? If I don't write I'll explode. And it feels so good to be writing like that again.

Oh, and that's not all. I've written it before, how God blessed me this year with music, meaningful work to do, exercise, and so much more.

What does all of this have to do with planning for January? It's still going to be hard to do it. I'm still avoiding it, sitting here in my classroom typing away while the planning sheets lie, blank, on my desk. No matter what, January is going to be traumatic, and not just for me. I know it's normal to be afraid and anxious and sick to my stomach as that terrible anniversary approaches.

But I can trust Him. I know I can. I can trust Him not just for the bread but for the jam. No matter what happens, I know He will be with me. No matter what January brings, and the rest of 2011, and the rest of my life, however long or short that is.

How precious is your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Another Monday

It feels good to be at work this morning after so many days at home. We are not having a normal day at all. This is finals week, and we are trying to get the semester finished off, so just the high school students are coming in today to take their exams while the elementary and middle school students stay home. I am teaching two small high school classes so I had exams to prepare (done and turned in), and I also have parents and kids dropping off writing that didn't get turned in last week, so I have piles of grading. There are notebooks that need to be graded too, and lesson plans that need to be done for January. But even though I have work to do, I feel a need to blog too, so I'm starting off with that.

So far this hasn't felt much like the Advent season, but a couple of things yesterday helped that. I've missed church the past two weeks - two weeks ago we had the elections and last week my husband had just returned from an overseas trip and was exhausted, and our car wasn't working either. Yesterday I got to go to church and that felt great. We worshiped at home on the days we missed, but it's not the same as being with our friends for worship. As always, I cried as I was overwhelmed with God's goodness and love for me - it feels so personal these days.

Last night we had a staff Christmas party; it was a rather muted version of the annual event, because of the situation. It was at school, and we sang Christmas carols together and ate and talked. I love Christmas songs, and particularly enjoyed "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," (which of course made me think of this piece, a Christmas tradition over at Tara's blog) and "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem," with its "hopes and fears of all the years" met in the quiet streets of an occupied town.

Speaking of quiet streets, it rained in the night and is still raining now, and nothing is more effective at calming protests than rain. I felt conflicted about being happy about the rain. There are still so many people living in tents for whom the rain makes life miserable. But at the same time, it washed away some of the mess and the ashes from last week's burning, and it does prevent trouble in the streets. If we can just get our finals finished...

This year instead of a white Christmas, it's a black Christmas, with the dark ashes of burned tires raining down everywhere. But I don't need a white Christmas. Feeling like Christmas, for me, has nothing to do with cold weather. I have had more warm Christmases in my life than cold ones. It has to do, instead, with the music and the activities we usually have. I'm glad we got to have some of those yesterday.

And I'm glad to be at work today, with others who are committed to the mission of our school, with kids who have come in to take exams. and finish up the semester. I'm glad to be getting work turned in. These things make life feel more normal.

Christmas isn't about normal, though. It's about abnormal. It's about God reaching into the mess of humanity and saying, "Here's a gift." It's about a young girl whose hopes and dreams for her life were completely overturned. It's about those "hopes and fears" in the darkened city streets. It's about God's love right there with us in the middle of our pain and confusion, holding us together. Just holding us.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Eleven Months

Today marks eleven months since the earthquake. Haiti is in the midst right now of another crisis. CNN asks, "Are you in Haiti? Share your Palin images and cholera updates with CNN iReport." That article is so full of crises that there's barely room for Ms. Palin. It seems the crises never stop, but I'm taking a moment today to thank God for my life, and for the lives of all of us who survived that day back in January. Life will never be the same as it was before, and we grieve all who were lost, but we are alive. And to quote a philosophy I saw on a tap-tap once, "Where there's life, there's hope."

I thank God for every day He gives me. I thank Him for each day I have lived since January 12th, for every moment. I thank Him for the blessing of life, which is full of so much pain but so much beauty as well. I thank Him for hope that in spite of what we see around us, it will be better some day. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Saturday, December 11, 2010


This time of year is always consumed with grading, and even though life has not been normal for the past few days, the grading we shall always have with us. Tuesday was supposed to be the final deadline for my kids to turn in their writing, and of course we didn't have school on Tuesday, so it's still trickling in, dropped off by parents at the office or emailed to me. I have been plugging away at it, but it has seemed slower going than normal. I am distracted and it's hard to stay motivated.

I find that I have to pace myself with grading. If I try to do too much at one time, I either start being too generous and just slapping grades on things (which is what my students would like), or becoming hypercritical and marking kids down for not being Nobel Prize winners (which is what happens more often). When I find either extreme happening, I have to stop and take a break.

I am sad that the semester is ending this way, and that we won't have a chance to read our children's stories to preschoolers (we'll do it in January), or read the rest of the Christmas poetry I had prepared, or finish What Child is This? before Christmas, or play silly word games on the last day. These are minor pri manifestasyon, but they matter to me.

I sometimes still think of those lesson plans that were on my desk the afternoon of January 12th, great lessons for the next day and the rest of the week that never got taught. You make your plans, put in your time preparing, but you just don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. All you can do is be faithful today, in this moment. It's a lesson that Haiti has taught me, and the earthquake reinforced it more memorably.

And being faithful today, in this moment, means more grading. And more, and more!

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Day, New Life, New Hope

Yesterday in this post I wrote about the costs of these protests and how sometimes they seem too high. I chatted with a friend online last night and got some reminders of how important hope is. We can't give up, no matter how bad things look.

Then this morning, I read this post. One of the costs I wrote about yesterday was women delivering babies by themselves because midwives couldn't travel. This woman, Ruth (we even share a name), was blessed to be a part of the prenatal program at Heartline. Ruth had to walk to the birthing center because tap-taps weren't running, but her story has a happy ending.
Ruth named her daughter Grace. It is not common for Haitians to give their babies a name at birth. Partly this is due to so many babies here dying. The last few women we have delivered have already picked out names before they deliver. This shows us that they are expecting to have a live baby. It is very special to be a place of life and hope.
We have seen Ruth a couple times since she delivered. She is adjusting to a whole new life. Please be praying that God would encourage her and give her much grace and patience in being a new mother.

There is hope. There's a new baby. Life goes on.

Ben and Katie on the Demonstrations

Ben and Katie wrote about the demonstrations here and here.

Poetry Friday: The battle that did not happen

Earlier this week, I wrote this poem, Fire, about the rioting in Haiti. But today, I want to post something more hopeful. I shared this back in January of 2008 during the post-election violence in Kenya. What I wished then for Kenya I wish now for Haiti: peace, peace that lasts so long that nobody remembers any other kind of life.


William Stafford

This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.

Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed – or were killed – on this ground
hallowed by the neglect of an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

More Riot Photos

We are very fortunate to have so many talented photographers on campus this year. Heidi Saylor has posted commentary and amazing photos. Take a look.

Amen, Alexis

What she said.

Pri Manifestasyon

Yesterday there weren't many merchants out on the street, but the guy who is usually selling sugar cane right by our gate was there, and my husband asked him if there was anyone around selling fruit. He disappeared and was back a few minutes later with a lady with a box, and in the box were some tangerines and avocados.

The gate guard let the merchant on campus and my husband started to haggle with her. He is very good at this; I have to admit that he is better at it than I am. This is a bit of a shame for me since I grew up in a developing country and he did not, and bargaining is supposed to be something women are better at than men. Also, my Kreyol skills are better than his, so I would be expected to bargain more effectively. But I accepted a long time ago that in this, as in so many other things, he just surpasses my abilities.

However, this time his haggling didn't work at all. The marchann wasn't budging on her prices. These, she said, were pri manifestasyon, demonstration prices. My husband laughed and paid up. She was right. Where else was he going to go to find better bargains? He ended up paying 100 gourdes for eight tangerines and 25 gourdes for an enormous, beautiful avocado. Normally he would pay ten to fifteen gourdes for an avocado and about 50 gourdes for six tangerines. (The exchange rate is about 40 gourdes to a US dollar.)

Of course, paying pri manifestasyon is something we can afford. But I started wondering about the other prices of this season of protest. How many children didn't eat at all yesterday or this morning because their parents weren't able to get out to sell on the street? How many people with cholera, or any other sickness, couldn't make it to the doctor? How many women gave birth by themselves because the midwife couldn't make it? How many people didn't get their AIDS or TB drugs, which have to be taken properly and on time if they are to be effective? How much aid didn't get where it was supposed to be going? How many people who might have invested in providing employment for Haiti decided to go elsewhere? How many children missed out on learning (remember, those children fortunate enough to be going to Haitian schools at all lost four months earlier this year due to the earthquake)?

How many people lost hope of Haiti ever being different?

And for what? Whichever candidate ends up being president, will he or she really make such a huge difference? We can always hope so, but based on what we've seen in the past, it's hard to believe.

Can't we have an election where people go and vote and their voices are respected? Can't Haitians be treated with respect and dignity? I read in people's comments online that a common opinion is that Haitians are acting "like animals" by demonstrating and protesting. Of course violence is never helpful, but tell me what other way the majority of people in this country have to express their point of view, other than getting out on the streets and demonstrating? (Or manifesting, as people here often say when they are speaking English.)

A Facebook friend posted this quote today from Herman Melville: ‎"Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed." Really, how do we have the nerve to criticize how Haitians respond to the political crises of their nation? What do we (Americans like myself) know about being voiceless?

It reminds me of the advice people give to tent-dwellers to prevent cholera. Wash your hands with clean water. Great, where am I going to get that? Boil your drinking water. Where am I going to get charcoal to do that? And how will I store it so that it stays clean? Use latrines. OK, except that there aren't nearly enough and lots of them are out of order and not clean anyway.

What do we really know of how difficult life is in Haiti, even those of us who live here and see it all around us? We haven't earned the right to criticize Haitians. Go live in a tent for for eleven months without enough to eat and with no hope for anything better, and then vote in a corrupt election and have the powers that be decide how things are going to turn out without paying attention to the votes, and then talk to me about how you would react.

But even though I know that people have no other way to speak out, I'm tired of all of it. I'm tired of the constant crises. I'm tired of the disrespect for the people's voices. I'm tired of injustice and violence and the burning up of what people have worked so hard to have. It's too much. Haiti has paid enough of these outrageous prices. Enough now.

Heather quoted yesterday from the Advent hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel. (Caution: link plays music.) That is the cry of my heart. Emmanuel, God with us. We can't take any more. We have paid the pri manifestasyon and now we can't pay them any more. Deliver us.

And More

Heather posted one more time last night...

And Ben and Katie posted a video.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

And Another Post from Heather


Heather Updates

Here, with more great photos.


Photo Credit: New York Times


Burn it
Burn it all
Tires and logs,
Merchants' stands where on better days
Vegetables tempt passers-by.

Burn it
Burn it all
The contents of an overflowing dumpster
Pushed over in the middle of the street.

Burn it
Burn it all
Posters of a smooth, smiling candidate
Ripped down by people who support
A different smooth, smiling candidate.

Burn it
Burn it all
Schoolbooks, voters' cards, ballots,
Dreams for the future,
Pride from the past.

Whatever you have,
Add it to the blaze:
Stoke the fires,
Burn it all.

Ruth, from

This post is linked to Weekend Wordsmith from December 3rd.

More on Riots

I have stayed home today, even though I could have had a front-row seat to all the drama on Delmas. My husband went to work and watched some of the rioters from the campus, but I contented myself with looking at pictures taken by people who live over there on or near the campus, including people with cameras much bigger and fancier than mine.
Katie got some great ones, for example.

My husband told about a guy with a big super-soaker gun (you can see pictures of him at the link above) directing traffic. He saw people tending the burning tires, motorcycles going up and down with Martelly posters, people on the side of the road preparing Molotov cocktails. He saw people pushing dumpsters over and dragging them into the middle of the street. Others were pulling down Celestin posters and banging on billboards with rocks. There were some angry people but most seemed to be having a pretty good time, he thought.

I am sad and disgusted that this is happening yet again. By this I mean post-election violence, but not just that. I mean all of it; the drama, the continued state of crisis, the constant diet of adrenaline. When will this country have a few months of ordinary? When will there be a whole year with no messages from the U.S. Embassy suggesting Americans avoid crowds and public places? When will children have a full year, even one full year, uninterrupted by days off because of chaos? No hurricanes? No earthquakes? No epidemics of deadly disease? No riots? Is that too much to ask?

More from Heather

More photos and commentary from Heather.

More Riot Pictures

Here and here.

From Campus

Brittany Meadth took this photo over the wall of our campus this morning.

More photos here.


The election results were finally announced at about 9 PM. It was expected that Manigat and Martelly would be the two candidates in the runoff (if no candidate has more than 50% there is automatically a runoff). Instead, the two candidates are Manigat and Celestin. Celestin is the government's preferred candidate, belonging to INITE party like the current president, Preval, who is unpopular at the moment due to his lack of effective response after the earthquake.

I never talk about politics on this blog and I'm not planning to start now, but here's how it affects us: we are home again today. In the streets, crowds burn and shoot. Children all over the country lose yet another day of school. And don't forget that a million people are still living in tents after the earthquake, and that 92,000 people have been infected with cholera and 2,000 have died.

And here are some other people talking about politics:

Ben and Lexi
Haiti Elections 2010 (in French)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


The announcement about who won the first round of the elections is scheduled to take place in just over an hour. Rumors are flying, and they run the gamut from everything will be calm to everything will explode. Take your pick, and good luck trying to decide whether or not we should have school tomorrow.

Here's Ben and Lexi's take on the situation. Here's what the AP has to say. Here's a really interesting article about Manigat and Martelly.

Stay tuned.

Another Day Off

I'm not going to complain about having a day off. No matter what the reason, it's always a treat. But today was supposed to be the day all my final middle school writing came in, giving me plenty of time to get it all graded. Due to the anticipated announcement of election results, and potential problems resulting from said results, we're staying home again today.

I have plenty to keep me occupied: grading the work kids have already turned in, writing tests, and working on the growing mess in my classroom. Let's hope we'll have school again tomorrow.

Friday, December 03, 2010


I got this mango in the cafeteria today with my school lunch. I took a picture of the glorious fruit with a dictionary, for size comparison purposes. I didn't eat it yet because I didn't have time to go home and take a shower and brush my teeth before my next class. But I will be eating it as soon as I get home.

Don't hate me because I live in a beautiful tropical country where it's warm and sunny in December and we get mangoes like this for lunch on an ordinary school day. Some of us just get all the blessings.

Poetry Friday: Dawn Dreams

Wednesday's Poem-A-Day email from contained a poem about dreams, the kind you have right before you wake up, the ones that are tantalizingly close, but escape before you have a chance to look at them. I think Rachel Hadas has perfectly captured how that feels.

The poem ends:

Their colors at once brighter and less bright
than you remembered, they
hover and insinuate all day
at the corner of your eye.

Here's the whole thing.

I have been waking early lately, before sunrise. Since I live in the tropics, the sun comes up about the same time every day, even now, in the winter. I never used to be a morning person, but lately those moments of dawn dreams receding in the pink and orange sky really have been hovering in my mind all day long. Thank you, Rachel Hadas, for putting the experience into words.

Don't you love how poems do that: give you words for what you feel? What have you read lately that has put an elusive moment on paper for you? Or, what moment have you put on paper because nobody else had expressed it quite the way you lived it?

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Time Again

This morning I linked you to photos interpreting the theme of Time. I've been thinking a lot about that subject - time - lately, as this terrible, difficult, impossibly beautiful year of 2010 comes to an end. I can hardly remember the end of 2009. What did we do for Thanksgiving? (I looked back on my blog and found out.) How about Christmas? (I'm not entirely sure.) Everything was eclipsed and driven from my mind by the earthquake of January 12th.

Already I feel the coming of the year anniversary, as though I am being pulled towards it. Frankly, January scares me. Today in seventh grade we read a John Updike poem about December. He ends it by saying:

The shepherds wait,
The kings, the tree –
All wait for something
Yet to be,

Some miracle.
And then it’s here,
Wrapped up in hope –
Another year!

As soon as I read those words, I thought, Hope in the new year? Not likely! As I had that thought, a kid in the second row voiced almost exactly the same idea.

Where has the time gone, the eleven months, and soon a whole year, since the earthquake? Sometimes it seems as though it happened last week - after all, the city is still full of rubble, and of people living in tents. Other times, it feels far in the past. Most of the time I can hardly remember what my life was like before it.

As the year anniversary inexorably approaches, I wish the earthquake had never happened. I wish that for the sake of people I love who lost so much that they can never get back. I wish that for the sake of my beloved Haiti. And yet, God has brought so much into my life that is beautiful this year. New and deepened relationships. A greater ability to trust Him. A sense like I've never had before of how much God loves me - and all of us. God didn't let the earthquake happen so I would get those gifts. I can't say that often enough. I'm not that full of myself, to believe that. But I have been amazed to watch Him redeem the pain and misery in my life and the lives of those around me. I can't even explain it, but I am so grateful for it.

Time. We have no control over it. We don't know what will happen in the next moments. We are not guaranteed tomorrow.

And yet, Time. Such a beautiful gift. Twenty-four hours a day, to use as we choose. To keep or give away. To praise or complain. To love those around us or to focus on ourselves.

Soon 2011 will be here. I greet it with some trepidation. What next? But I also know that God was faithful in 2010, even though one of the worst things imaginable happened. He was faithful to me, and He was faithful to people who lost so much more than I did, and He was faithful to people who lost their lives. His faithfulness is not about everything working out peachy. It's about how, when everything falls apart, He is there. He just is. He's there in so many ways, and one of the most amazing is in His people. And I know He'll continue to be there in 2011. I can trust Him to do that.

Theme Day - Time

The Daily Photo blogs always have a theme day on the first of each month, and this month's theme is Time. Eric has a photo of a public clock in Paris and here are thumbnails of the photos posted by other participants around the world. It's always fun to see how these talented photographers interpret the monthly themes.