choosing joy.

It really is the simple things that have the potential to bring great joy.

For example, here are just a few of the things that put a smile on my face today…

…working with some fantastic colleagues and watching a graphic recorder document and design our thinking and conversations.  What?  Who does that? So very cool. Impressive work Artist Sophia!

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graphic recording

…and there just may have been a little dancing to the Cupid Shuffle during our training session…how can you NOT dance to this song???? Impossible I say.

CupidShuffle

…what about a little dinner on the deck?  Minnesota spring/summer eves are truly the best.

…and to top it off – how about some sending/sharing silly pics with my fav snapchatters!

joy

Choose joy my friends!  Choose joy.  xoxo

slow kingdom coming.

In June 2011, I traveled to Haiti for the first time – I did not have a clue what I would do – I just knew that I needed to go.  Following my sister’s journey of adoption from a small orphanage in Port au Prince, and a longing to go and learn…I simply showed up.  It was 18 months past the devastating earthquake of 2010, and the orphanage had gone from 30+ children to 3 little dudes.  The director of the orphanage had determined that since he had the space, he ought to use it to start a school.  When I arrived that summer, the first year students were just ending their school year.  Upon meeting these darlings on their “report card day” it was determined that since I was a teacher – I should teach!  So with just a weekend to plan a summer school English class, Monday morning arrived with 25-30 learners ready to go.  I spoke no Creole and they spoke no English.  My sweet 18 year-old daughter that had accompanied me on this adventure and I jumped in feet first, teaching English 8-noon for three weeks, living in the orphanage/school and bonding with those three remaining children and the students that kept showing up each day.

Here I am meeting some of the kiddos that first day – all sweaty and excited and completely naive! (Clef, Lovinska and Phadia remain in the school yet today!)

June 2011

This is our final day of class that June of 2011.

Summer English Students 2011

As each day passed that summer, and as each day/week/month go by now, I do my best to be a listener and a learner.  What is God saying?  How am I partnering with my friends, staff and students in Haiti? What now?  What next?  So often with the establishment of a non-profit organization, the desire is to have a Vision – a 5 Year Plan – a step-by-step, detail-driven articulation of tasks to complete.  And yet we at Kozefò seem to function differently – we have a board that meets to discuss dreams, details and projects – we monitor our finances wisely with smart folks that can track the income/out-flow and wire transactions to Haiti – we take teams regularly to learn from and support our staff and students on site.  And then we TRUST.  We make decisions prayerfully and slowly…and sometimes impulsively.  We do our best to let God control our steps.

Kent Annan (writer, speaker and co-director of Haiti Partners – a nonprofit focused on education in Haiti) just released his latest book – Slow Kingdom Coming.  The truth he shares, put words to the experiences that I am having, as I attempt to navigate the kingdom work of “loving mercy, acting justly and walking humbly.”

Slow Kingdom Coming

Kent mixes philosophical beliefs, biblical teaching and real-life practices in this new book. His five principles of awareness, confession, respect, partnering and truthing apply to all of us as individuals in “how to participate in God’s justice in your family, community, country and the world.  They can help interactions with a neighbor as well as how to decide what nonprofit to give to.  They can help you think through how to volunteer, travel, start a business, buy things. They can become part of the practice of your faith in action, shaping you and shaping the neighborhood and world around you.” (p. 24) 

This life we are living is a journey… “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Thanks for walking with me…for teaching me…for learning with me…trusting as we go.

Check out Kent’s book on Amazon, by clicking HERE.

Learn more about the work of Kozefò by clicking HERE.

 

language learning.

I am eager to learn to speak Creole. Books, CDs, and apps have been purchased through the years…flash cards have been made…”repeat after me” style practice has been implemented through the Pimsleur approach as I drive to and from work. And yet I struggle to learn. I lack the discipline needed to master a second language. Just last night I have recommitted. The desire is here…the longing to have real conversations with my friends, staff and students in Haiti is so great. I need to find a Creole speaking partner here in my community to guide me in this new journey. Hoping and praying for a language pal…and discipline…and for the neurons in my brain to start making connections from English to Creole.

To all of my bilingual, multilingual friends-bravo! You are brilliant. I am in awe of your ability to hold words and phrases and intelligent thoughts….and then express them fluently in English, Creole, French, Karen, Thai, Hmong, Spanish, Zinza, Swahili, Hebrew….

A big shout out to my fantastic interpreters, teachers, friends-Gladimy, Falaune, Jonas and Jonas. You are my heroes.

Haitian Interpreters

And to all of the students that show up in schools across the world, knowing their native language and acclimating to the language of the school-hooray for you! The patience and determination it takes to master a second language eludes me…yet these little learners jump in and out of French-Creole OR English-Karen-Thai as they seek to converse with different groups. Simply amazing to me.

Cheers to these three beauties that arrived in Minnesota from Burma/Myanmar via Thailand refugee camp when they were in grade 5.

image

Karen girls grown up

Mwen vle aprann. Mwen vle pale Kreyol. Orevwa. Bon Nwit Zanmi mwen.

friday night rant.

There should probably be rules about posting my thoughts on a Friday night when I am tired from a long week, having hit the happy hour favs at Ray J’s, but here I go.

Secondary traumatic stress is the emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another.

nctsn.org

I have seen and heard so much trauma this week – there are individuals experiencing REAL trauma.  Hard stuff. Painful. And then there are the people that support those facing the trauma.  The family members, caregivers, teachers, therapists, social workers, behavior specialists, and school administrators…that feel the pain – that empathize and create solutions. These folks need our tender loving care.  They are strong and in-control…making decisions and care plans and picking up the pieces of a scary sad life. So…love the people in your life and save a little extra space for those that are in care-giving spaces.

And then…how about that Kelly Clarkson song on American Idol?  What????  Be still my heart. Check it out here:

Piece by Piece.png

Pretty much started my morning in tears, watching this raw emotion, as she sang on the venue that gave her such a bright future, reflecting on the love a parent has for a child – and the staying power that she has for her babes in contrast to the loss that her father experienced, leaving her as a young girl. Wow. Brave. Vulnerable. Love it.

And about my niece.  Hmmm. I have some pretty awesome nieces and nephews.  All of them. Love them so much.  Sweet Faithy has tossed her life experience into the worldwide web, sharing her courageous journey and real teenage vulnerability via this sweet blog:

faithismakingachangeBLOG

And finally. Politics.  This is NOT something I often choose to discuss.  Not even in safe places.  But really?  Trump?  I LOVE America.  And these candidates are the best we have? It all makes me just a little sad.  A little like I want to pack up my bags and move to another country.  Who in their right mind says things like this?

  • “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems…they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
  • “I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me —and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
  • “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s, like, incredible.”
  • “I love the old days, you know? You know what I hate? There’s a guy totally disruptive, throwing punches, we’re not allowed punch back anymore. … I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya.”
  • “We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.”

We cannot be serious to consider this man as a leader of our nation?  Can we?  Just looking for a little LEADERSHIP – wisdom, discernment, respect, class.  Can I get an Amen?

Signing off.  Feeling a little bit better getting that off my mind.  Happy Friday my friends! xoxo

 

loving & living life.

Okay…the Africa vacation video created by Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell was a viral sensation this weekend…and I have to admit I was smitten.  I mean seriously – how cute are they?  Exploring the African plains, dancing, singing, playing the air flute and looking all cute. Dang. Loved it.

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd - Africa

{image via hello giggles – video via youtube}

In fact, I loved it so much, I decided that I needed to live large myself and capture some video footage of me and my cutie boy. Duh…of course, right?   Our sweet young friend Si Poo joined us as our “videographer” as we headed to Colby Lake for this plan!  [We treated her to dinner in payment for her fantastic filming skills – and for not thinking I was completely crazy!]

dinner reward

And then there is that husband of mine, that just rolls with it and jumps into the adventure.  Good times.  Many laughs. Sadly, we did not have quite the same choreography, lighting, editing skills, or creative flow as Dax and K did.  I mean really – how many shoots do you think they took????  Did they even see Africa?

So I messed around with some instagram pics and an easy editing program – animoto trial – to capture the sweet little adventure Bob and I get to share in this life journey.  Enjoy!  We did.  :)

back to business.

Wow. What a week.  We soaked it all in and have now returned to our work of teaching, nursing, doctoring, ministering, painting, running a craft store, filling pharmaceutical prescriptions, supporting school staff and living the life of retirement…and for our four students on the trip – they are back in class.

Our school in Haiti welcomed us in with open arms, kisses on the cheeks and creative greeting signs.

WelcomeSign

We experienced so many “good moments” together and share a common love for our students. And now business is back to normal in the hands of some incredibly kind, smart, creative, hard-working and caring individuals.  Thank you so much to the staff at ANA Primary School!  We are grateful for you all! Mesi Anpil.  Until next time.

Roselaure

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