Confession #111: Back to School and a House That is Not My Own

On September 8th the new school year officially began in Haiti.back-to-school

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.

Reason?

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?

~ Jillian

Confession #110: Hunter’s Missionary Confession

This week I finished watching the 5th and final season of Breaking Bad on Netflix. It was a sad mom10379947_630627700348274_2662116673786942824_oent for me to say the least. I have been enjoying the show for a couple months now, quietly witnessing the life and struggles of main character, Walter White.

If you are not familiar with the show, Walter, a family man and high school Chemistry professor, is diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer in the first couple of episodes. Through a series of events and relationships, Walter’s pride drives him to do whatever it takes to care for his family financially. Over the 5 seasons, Walter becomes one of the most famed and most wanted Meth cooks in the Southwestern US. After making $80 Million in drug money, his plan back fires and he ends up poorer and more broke than he ever was as a simple father and school teacher.

I know this show was big in America. I watched the first season in the states, but have not kept up with it here in Haiti. But I think this time around, the small nuances of the show that passed over my head when I was younger now made perfect sense.

10374944_623500184394359_8914628255232770061_nNow I am a father with two children and one on the way. My family is living paycheck to paycheck and we have so many big expenses in our life (like preparing for baby Jake). As a father, and as Walter did in the show, I have a burning desire to care for my family financially… no matter what it takes. Unlike in the show, I would never justify illegal activity to support my family. But like Walt, I do have a talent, and I am in a great position to exploit the opportunities around me in order to make ends meet.

At first glance, Haiti is a desperate and sad place, full of broken systems and corruption. It seems to be a place where people go to do Acro-Smoke-Haiti (230 of 258)mission trips and remind themselves about how good they’ve got it back in the states. It seems like a place that has spent its resources and is in need of international aid, and a place where Satan has a grip on a large percentage of the population through Voodoo. Now, all of these things are true, but this country is also bursting at the seams with opportunity! The amount of potential energy that is hidden in the mountains, beaches, and people of this country is palpable. Never before has Haiti been on such a high and so ready to change.

As a whole and compared to most other countries, Haiti does not have much to offer the world. One thing it does have though is its proximity to the United States. For many years Haiti has not utilized the tourism industry to bring jobs and money to the shores of this country, but as of late, millions of dollars have been dumped into renovations and marketing. Haiti is slowly rising up in the ranks as a desirable place to go and vacation. American Airlines is scheduled to start flying to a second airport in Haiti (Cap Haitien, Haiti), beach resorts are expanding, business owners are finally catching up to technology to share their services and info on the internet, and you know… I am right 10561741_659360587474985_7358154558619513041_nin the middle of it all!

Why not?!?!

Why should I not be taking advantage of the boom in tourism? Why should I not be available to take pictures for local businesses and organizations? Why should I not be trading my photography services to help get my kids into a good school?

Our family is better off because of the work that I do. Now that I have the extra work, we are not having to pull money out of our minimal savings every month to make ends meet. Because I have extra money from my work, I (with the help of my dad) was able to get some solar panels and now can keep my food cold in the fridge (before we were lucky to have 3 hours of power a day). I now can keep a fan on my children and my pregnant wife at night time. And now I don’t have to go out and buy unhealthy street food (the equivalent of $2US) to feed my family for dinner because I could not afford any better. I can provide for them!

Now, let me say this… There are some really amazing people that support us in the states on a monthly basis and that is a blessing I am beyond thankful for, but when it comes down to it, the money is not enough. We are making 1/3 the salary we did in the states, yet still have to manage roughly the same amount of bills and expenses (student loans, insurance, rent, utilities, food, fuel, etc.). How would you survive if you had to support your family on 1/3 of your salary? Let me be the first to say, it isn’t easy. Going-To-The-Beach-With-Friends-Rat-Island (21 of 31)

So here I am making money (and don’t worry, I pay US taxes on all my photography work, because that is the ‘right thing to do’—read this with sarcasm) and I am able to provide the extra that my family needs to survive.

There is a bit of an internal struggle going on within me though. There is a bit of me that gets carried away with this “need to provide” feeling and it often begins to cause problems in other areas of my life. Often times, these jobs, although good paying, take me away from my family and from my first job which is to run Emmaus House with my wife. The difficulty comes in that I don’t just like getting paid (that part is great), but I also have a passion for traveling, experiencing this culture, and seeing new places. But I also know that I need to be home for my family and I know that I need to be working for Emmaus House.

0f04d-chery-wedding-sans-souci-palace28of38So here is my confession: I want to follow my passions, I want to keep taking pictures for money, I want to support my family financially, I want to travel, I want to meet new people, I want to do new things….. but, I fear that my wants could hurt the things that matter most.

In the beginning of the show “Breaking Bad” Walt wants to get just enough money to cover for his cancer treatments and then support his family for the rest of their lives. I think his calculation came up to nearly $600 K. By the end of the show he had earned over $80 million. At some point he stopped wanting to just care for his family, he also wanted to satisfy his desire to be in control.

I realize that my little photography gig does not compare to this at all, but I still have to be careful. I don’t want to put myself before the needs of my family or Emmaus House. I have to pray that God will bless me with the exact number of jobs and contracts I need, nothing more and nothing less. I have no doubt that God has brought me to this point. He has provided me with the talents, the equipment, the resources, and the drive to have a successful little operation, but I can not let myself get too caught up in it. I need to always remember that my talent and opportunity is not my doing, but God’s.

I will not be stoping my photography… I can’t. What I do want to do though is pray that God helps me to learn howuntitled-22 to prioritize my time, how to break up my life so that the things that matter the most get the most of my attention. I have never been much for multi tasking, just ask Jillian. But I pray that God helps me to be the father that I need to be: supporting, loving, able to give them the attention that they need, and a good example for them to learn from.

Whoa… If you took the time to read all of this then I thank you!

If you want to check out any of my photography work here in Haiti check out my FACEBOOK page to learn more.

And for more information on how to support my family as we work for Emmaus House in Haiti, go HERE. Any and all support is greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Hunter

Confession #109: I Want To Be A Part Of The Change: Jetro’s Personal Essay

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My name is Jetro Compère. I am 19 years old and currently in Rheto at College Christ Roi. I was born and raised in Cap Haitien, Haiti. My interests include reading, studying languages, and social studies. I really enjoy learning more about different societies around the world and taking what I learn from their examples […]

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Confession #108: Please, Let Me Brag a Bit: I Have BEAUTIFUL Children

Dalen-6-Cormier (86 of 108)

All photos by Hunter Kittrell Photography. If you live in Haiti and want some great pictures of your beautiful kids too, give him a call. ~ Jillian 

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Confession #107: Do You Know Your Neighbor?

Dalen and Nalandson Last Day Of School-15

Are you one of those parents who reminds their kid of the starving children in Africa every time they complain about finishing the food on their plate? You know, the ones who would be so grateful to have a plate full of peas and meatloaf? Because I totally used that line the other night with […]

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Confession #106: Oh Baby! Part 2

photo

So a while back THIS happened :-)  CRAZY! I know having a baby is normal, but somedays I still wake up and think WHAT IN THE WORLD??? I guess that is normal too. Regardless, Baby Jake is on his way this November and we couldn’t be more excited as to how God is bringing our […]

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Confession #105: Service is a Lifestyle

Medical Clinic with EH kids (30 of 38)

This past week our teens from Emmaus House were given the opportunity to serve alongside a short-term medical team. They helped in the pharmacy, taught the children Bible stories, translated for the doctors, and assisted patients in the clinics. Some days they were close to home while others they traveled hours away to serve those […]

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Confession #104: What I Learned From Jesus Windows, Dump Trucks & Pig Heads

1sttrip

Next week Emmaus House will be partnering with a medical team from Johnson City, TN. Hunter and I are pretty excited to have them down. Excited because we get to share Emmaus House with them for the first time, excited because they all know what Pal’s Tea is (meaning they are from our home), and excited […]

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Confession # 103: Invest in a Girl

Before moving to Haiti Hunter and I co-led a team of college students to Cap Haitien every summer. Phil Kinzer, our friend/minister/college professor/Nashville father accompanied us. And every year as we prepared for our trip he would repeat one piece of wisdom with us eager-to-change-the-world young people: Do short-term work that will have a long-term […]

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Confession #102: Tennessee/Family/Comfort

Hunter's grandparents came up from middle TN to visit us for lunch one afternoon. Here we are with them and Hunter's sister and husband who we miss dearly!

It’s 5:15 am and I am currently sitting in an airport. Let me go ahead and repeat that for you: 5:15 am. After 12 hours of travel we should make it back to our home in Cap Haitien with our kids by 5:00 pm. In other words…it is about to be a loooooong day. I […]

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