Well, at least President Martelly said it did.
Normally when school is in session, the morning and afternoon streets are filled with kids in their brightly colored uniforms. Second hand school buses crowd all other transportation. And the school buildings are packed full of eager-to-learn students.
But not this past week. Although the government said it was time for school, there were few kids out and about in their uniforms.
For the first time in four years Haiti actually started school on time in September. Typically what happens, is that all summer long both the government and the schools say the doors will open again come September. Then September rolls around and the parents start complaining: they still don’t have enough money to pay tuition, uniforms aren’t complete, and book prices are too high. Sometimes riots even form. Then the government graciously extends summer vacation to the beginning of October, allowing families to financially prepare to pay for school.
This summer was just like any other. Everyone claimed school would start in September. And then once September came, everyone started complaining about not being prepared. Except for this year, the government didn’t change the dates. Martelly, who claims that education needs to become a priority in this country, apologized to the families who struggle to pay for school but assured them that starting on time was best for Haiti’s future.
Still, however, most parents did not send their kids to school last week, including us. Assuming that once again school would not actually start until October, our tailor did not complete our uniforms until two days ago. So our teens had an extra week to relax.
And most of them chose to relax at my house.
At any given moment this past week you would have found at least one of our teens at my house. This is nothing out of the ordinary. When we aren’t over at their place one of them is usually at ours. But this past week they seemed to come and stay in the masses. For example, by midday Friday I counted 8/10 of our boys, 2/6 of our girls, and Jonathan’s oldest son sitting in my house and around my yard. The girls were watching Disney princess movies with Dalencia, and Jonathan’s son was playing games with Nalandson. Some of the boys were using the laptops while others were on my roof snacking on avocados and mangos. One of them spent over an hour riding Nalandson’s scooter on the sidewalk and laughing like a five year old. One was asleep on my hammock. And a few others just sat around my table wanting to talk.
My house was like this all week, all summer actually. And come Saturday morning, when I heard the first boy of the day knock at my gate, I almost debated hiding to pretend I wasn’t here.
This is my house. These are my avocados and mangos. This is my electricity and my TV. This is my hammock and those are my kids’ toys. And I don’t feel like talking.
I wanted peace. I wanted silence. I wanted to stay in my pajamas.
As the knocking persisted at the gate, I sat on my bed and began to tear up.
This is my house.
And then I heard His voice. You know what I’m talking about- the still, quiet voice in your mind that speaks to you when you need to be corrected. (Aka: God)
This is not your house. It is mine.
I heard Him. And that was all He needed to say.
Drying off my tears and slipping on some real clothes I opened the gate and my His house once again. And it didn’t take long for this place to fill up.
God was right (Typical, huh?). This house isn’t my own. My days are not my own. Heck, currently this body isn’t even my own. My life belongs to Him. And if He wants to fill this house with a ton of teenagers who need my love and attention, so be it.
School, for our teens at least, began this week. Today they will fill classroom desks instead of my couch. And although I am so grateful for their return, I am also grateful for my time with them this summer.
Time to relax.
Time to serve.
Time to laugh.
Time to share stories.
Time to create, study, and dream.
Time to just sit around and be together.
Currently, I am sitting in a quiet house. The only sounds I can hear are the women selling goods in the street, the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard, and my fan. Today, in the quiet, I am finally able to work on really fun stuff like financial spreadsheets and emails. And as important as those are, and as wonderful as the silence is, I am already starting to miss the noise and the company of my teenagers.
Today I am praying over our teens and for this new school year. I am praying that they will not take their opportunity of education for granted. And I am praying for wisdom, joy, and success in their new classes.
Will you pray with me?