opportunity to support Kozefò.

The annual Kozefò 5K is being held next Saturday, August 1st in Woodbury, Minnesota.  This is a great opportunity to support the students and staff at a small primary school in Port au Prince, Haiti. This school was once “home” to many sweet family members and friends of mine…

(Check out these dashing dudes that just shared in the wedding of our only child. Love these boys – JP, Eli, Stanley, Gefte, Vinny!)

FamPhoto

Ringbearers

So now, we have the chance to continue the work of education in Haiti.  Our June Kozefò Team was awesome – creating fabulously fun learning experiences, building additional classroom space, sharing sponsorship correspondence, providing a noon meal/drinking water and equipping the school with a computer lab.  Enrollment has nearly doubled for this upcoming school year.  And we will be needing all the support we can get to keep everything running smoothly.

Learning Is FUN

Building Crew

Rooftop Classroom

 

Sponsorship Coorespondence

Noon Meal

Tech Lab

 

New Student Sponsorships are NEEDED – information will be available at the 5K…

Student Sponsorship

 

Please consider joining us!  The Kozefò 5K is open to walkers, runners, observers!  You can register or donate on-line at http://www.kozefo.org/kozefo5k or on-site the morning of the event.  For more information about student sponsorships, please check our website on August 1st at http://www.kozefo.org/sponsor/

Thank you to all of you that have been supporting us through the past few years.  It is truly an incredible journey!

 

 

relationships.

A week in Haiti…filled with activity – Vacation Bible School [music, crafts, games, free play], sponsorship letters, new student registration (42 more enrolled to add to our current 51!) the construction of two new classrooms, painting the computer lab, tech teacher interviews, laptops prepared, English class lessons, neighborhood walk/home visits, budget review with our accountant, teacher meetings, and the year-end Spektak for the school – whew! What a week!!!!

Dreaming, planning, praying for the future. Reflecting personally on all that we have experienced.

Yet, when all is said and done…it is really just about the people.

“Love God, Love Others.”

And that is what matters. Language barriers did not hinder the love between us. New friendships began, and old ones were renewed. There are just so many sweet stories to tell.

Team Kozefo at Spektak

Allen and Bradley

Budget meeting

Eddy and Grace

Dr Bill and pals

Gahls and Clef

Gillian and Bela and pals

Grace and selfies

Interpreters

Jim and James Bond

Judy and Harlens

Laura and boys

Lauren and pals

Lydia

Medal Ceremony

Pastor Brian and Jeremy

Sara and Ruth

Tammie and Lovinska

Tapperson and Paulema

Steve and tech lab

Teachers

Team Kozefo at Wahoo Bay

wants vs needs.

I live in a time and place that I am not even certain that I have ever really had to worry about my “needs.” I have shelter, water and food. Bills can be paid on time. There is money left over to do things for pleasure – to shop, dine out, travel. I really wonder if I have ever had to face a real NEED in my life?

The past few days in Haiti have been filled to overflowing with moments that I long to share – a sweet work day at the school, with building, painting and organizing…a neighborhood walk into the homes of three students that offered us a very small glimpse of the lives that they lead once they leave school each day…worship services that were packed with people and full of the holy spirit…energy filled days with the students – singing, dancing, playing, learning, making music together, jumping rope…English Institute lessons between Americans and Haitians – medal award ceremonies in our honor (a story for another time.) And.So.Much.More!

Yet the piece that has me awake tonight, sitting on the balcony to write this at 3 am…is the conflict between needs and wants. Wifi has been sketchy to non-existent this week. The 23 of us are staying at a lovely guest house, along with another group of 10 or so from southern California, and a couple from Spokane. I am pretty sure that we have maxed out the generator, as the electricity has been flashing on and off for the past 30+ minutes – just trying to get going. And I am not certain how long it has been since the city power has been turned on here.

For us, the inconvenience of limited electricity and wifi, impact the fans and AC that keep us cool at night…and the ability to hop on the internet or iMessaging to connect with family and friends back home. Needs or wants?

For some of our students, they have left the family they know and love, to move from the countryside to live in the city with a relative in order to have opportunities for a “better life.” Not sure how often, or if they have the opportunity to communicate with their loved ones. In the homes we visited, I did not see beds. I can only guess what the sleeping arrangements may be each night. Fans? Nope. AC-certainly not. The foods or drinks we may crave from our normal routine – clearly “wants”…as there are many, many individuals in this place and throughout the world, desperate for a meal.

I have no answers. I can only reflect. And hope that through life’s circumstances, we can pause long enough and regularly enough to encounter the abundance of blessings in our lives…to seek contentment…to share with others…to keep our eyes open…to seek joy.

So, for now, I will crawl back in bed – generator power has been restored – and I will pray for the sweet little faces waiting for us tomorrow. And I will pray for my own strength and patience and peace.

joy(photo snapped by a young student during the English Institute “medal ceremony”)

sweet face(Sweet Lovena – one of our darling students – Lovena’s mother died in March 2013, so her father has sent her to live with her aunt and one cousin.  Her seven sisters and two brothers remain with her father in the countryside.)

when in haiti.

PAP arrival

Our fabulous team of 23 arrived in Port Au Prince today…complete with an extra swing through the customs line to verify that the contents in our boxes were indeed school supplies.  Pastor Ernso of Eucalyptus Village greeted us at the airport and transported us through the streets to his sweet oasis of a guest house…via TAP TAPs! With the luggage piled in the back of a truck. Nothing like jumping right in as a local.

luggage loadtap taptap tap travelingLooking forward to a relaxing evening…with plans to start working tomorrow…projects at the school – painting, building, prepping for the computer lab…time with Rock, Nahomie and Rosita!

Agenda for the week:

  • Saturday – work day – dinner at Pizza Amour
  • Sunday – church with Pastor Ernso – PAP tour to include Laboule 12
  • Monday – VBS/Day Camp – English Institute
  • Tuesday – VBS/Day Camp – The Apparent Project – Epi’dor
  • Wednesday – VBS/Day Camp – Wahoo Bay
  • Thursday – Year-End SPEKTAK at the school
  • Friday – depart

Orevwa! Bondye beni ou.

 

5 am saturday.

At this time next week, I will be waking in Port au Prince. Clearly, my mind is racing with “to-do” items to check off…because I should still be sound asleep on a lazy Saturday morning.  Instead, I am wide awake at 5 am, sending emails, jotting down a shopping list, checking off items mentally, as I prepare to take 22 friends and a brother-in-law on a weeklong journey to my favorite little island nation. (Plus, I am quickly approaching the sweet day of Bree and Kyle’s wedding AND I will be changing jobs at the end of the month…so there are just a few things on my mind this morning!)  Go BIG…or go home!  Praise the Lord for his faithfulness in sending peace.

A few years ago, I would most likely be a little frantic and stressed and making the people closest to me crazy.  However, God has been doing marvelous things in my life…prepping me along the way to TRUST and to let go…to savor the moments and break free from the hectic pace and expectations of others. I recently read a passage from Social Worker Extraordinaire – Brene Brown, “We live in a culture with a strong sense of scarcity. “We wake up in the morning and we say, ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’ And we hit the pillow saying, ‘I didn’t get enough done.'” We’re never thin enough, extraordinary enough or good enough – until we decide that we are. “For me,” says Brown, “the opposite of scarcity is not abundance. It’s enough. I’m enough.”  I am determined to believe that. I am enough.  God provides.

I will make a cup of coffee and continue with my day…being enough…being grateful…feeling at peace.  Hope you will too!

Peace

 

the sandwich generation.

sandwich generaton

The empty nesting days were short-lived…we have entered  the “sandwich generation.” I have always attempted to embrace the current stage of life I am living…looking back with fond memories and anticipating the unknown adventures ahead…while living fully in the moment.  Easier done at certain times of the journey then others…not a big fan of raising a junior higher…but made the most of those days too with sleepovers and braces and boy crushes and learning how to study.

With each new phase, there really does not seem to be a “how-to manual” that accompanies it appropriately – certainly plenty of books and websites out there – but none that entirely match our unique situation.  So…we navigate it the best we can…making up our own plan as we go.

This sandwich generation is a new deal for us…helping both the aging parent with decisions about housing, insurance, health care, leisure activities and finances…as well as the young bride and groom to be on similar topics.  The requests that come our way on any given day, may be “can you move a new sofa to our apartment…can we stop to pick up a prescription…do you have any ironing that I can do…may I borrow your fan…where are we going today…can you help me with wedding details…what should I do with my 401K…when should I transfer my banking account…”

Our home is full once again…with helpers in the kitchen…dinners for four or six or ten…conversations about work and hockey and the weather…shared tv shows in the evenings…outings together to new restaurants.  Projects get done during the day while we are at work – ironing and vacuuming, sweeping the front step. Groceries appear and disappear in/from our fridge. Moments of three generations gathered together happen regularly.  Such. A. Blessing.

It may not always be easy…we may not always be making the right choices…but it is good.   I am grateful for this time of figuring out next steps…and sharing the journey with my family.

embracing the real me.

I woke up to this beautiful view this morn in southern Cal… 

…kinda wondering why I choose to live in Minnesota…but then again, that is where my people are…so I will enjoy a few days pretending I am once again a California girl.

I am here for work…attending the Council for Exceptional Children Comference…spending my days in workshops and presentations. Spent 6 hours digging into “Co-Teaching 2.0″ today with Marilyn Friend. And spending my lunches and evenings in isolation-eating on my own…thinking, surfing the web, reading…and reaffirming that I am a pretty happy introvert. Savoring time on my own. (We will see how long the feeling lasts….I may be needing a little human interaction by day 5!) 

The older I get, the more comfortable I become in embracing the real me… 

I LOVE learning…taking classes, attending workshops, reading…And I really do need my down time…to be alone.

And that is okay.