January 2016 – Looking Back and Looking Forward

Where to begin?  Somehow, January is nearly over.  The end of 2015 came with a whirlwind of homework (Organic Chemistry is a life eater…), a transition in jobs, weddings, all that the holidays entail, and plenty of other things to fill in any gaps that were left.

Looking back at last year, two things are very apparent.

1) Yes, we did a lot.

2) But God did a lot more.

January 2016
Our 2015 top 9…. although I really needed like a top 25 grid.

Looking back at 2015, there are many memories to look back on and cherish. We bought our first house! We had the chance to explore the mountains Colorado and share the love of Jesus in the shadow of the mountains of Haiti.   We bought our first car!  Devra ran her first marathon, and qualified for the Boston Marathon!  She started a new job with Trainer Joe’s Health and Weight Loss.

We had the privilege to open our home to two amazing roommates and the joy of living life in community.  We were exposed to the adventures of home ownership having to replace the furnace and water heater and getting to build, hang, and make the Walsh House our own.

Pausing for Thankfulness

Yes, we did all of those things, but that is also where item 2 comes into play. Through all of those and many other everyday adventures this year we continued to learn and see that God has a plan, and He always provides.  We don’t always know what His plan is, His timing, or how He is going to provide, but that’s part of what makes life an adventure.

2015 was a year of opening up our home and hearts to those around us.  A year of putting down roots while also looking to the future.  It has been a fast year, but a full year too.  It was a year of blessings, stresses, opportunities, challenges, and overall it was a year that left us saying “Wow God! You are amazing, and You are here!”

January 2016
Christmas Day 2015

Looking forward to the rest of 2016, we have set some goals:

  • Spiritual – Read through the Bible and pray together daily.
  • Work – For Will, to continue to give his best at work and continue developing himself as a leader and manager.  For Devra, to learn and grow in her new role with Trainer Joe’s and help grow the business this year.
  • School – For Devra to continue doing her best and getting the best grades she can.
  • House – get the office set up, hang curtains, organize the garage.
  • Dreams – Get chickens and have a better garden than last year.  Continue to pray about and pursue our dreams.
  • Relationships – find practical and intentional ways to serve and invest in each other. Find ways to be a better friend to our friends.

Those are just a few of our goals for the coming year, and so far I think that we are doing pretty good!  BUT it is only January still; we will see what the next 11 months bring! Whatever they throw our way, we know that God is for us.  He is always on our side.  He will always make a way and provide the grace that we need for this life. And if there’s one theme we’ve seen in our marriage it’s to not underestimate God. I am sure we will learn that even more this year.

January 2016
2016 here we come!

Pausing for Thankfulness

This evening, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, & all weekend – let’s commit to be present. Click To Tweet

Thanksgiving is my husband’s favorite holiday.  I am not kidding when I say that he starts looking forward to it in September.   He LOVES the food, but I think it is more than that too.  Will is what I call “a notice of life.”  He notices the small sights hidden along the path to the big horizon view. As such, I think he appreciates Thanksgiving because it lines up with his character.  He is grateful for the reminder to notice and be thankful for all that he has.

there really aren't enough ways to say how thankful I am for Will and for our marriage. Sure we frustrate each other sometimes, we get busy and don't see much of each other sometimes, but then there are the moments when you pause and realize how thankful you are for the other person no matter what.
there really aren’t enough ways to say how thankful I am for Will and for our marriage. Sure we frustrate each other sometimes, we get busy and don’t see much of each other sometimes, but then there are the moments when you pause and realize how thankful you are for the other person no matter what.

This year I want to be particularly thankful.  We have so many things that we take for granted.  It’s easy to be caught up in the chase of financial security, a better title at work, a bustling social calendar, a trendier closet, or just a life that is more convenient.

I have nothing against convenience, saving for retirement, promotions, social life, or decent clothes.  In fact, I like all of those things and pursue all of those things.  What I am trying to rewire my brain to do is be against the constant pursuit of the next thing and more things. Where is the time to appreciate what you have?

So this evening, Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and this whole weekend – let’s commit to be present with our friends and family.

Let’s commit to noticing and observing the details of our lives.

I have officially lived for a quarter of a century
I have officially lived for a quarter of a century
Last month we celebrated having Izzy for 3 years =)
Last month we celebrated having Izzy for 3 years =)
I am thankful for my mom, and the simple but profound pleasure, comfort, community, energy, and delight that a cup of coffee brings
I am thankful for my mom, and the simple but profound pleasure, comfort, community, energy, and delight that a cup of coffee brings
My mom came and spent the weekend doing life with me =)
My mom came and spent the weekend doing life with me =)
It's so great to have community to go through life with, and celebrating them is even more of a blessing than being celebrated yourself!
It’s so great to have community to go through life with, and celebrating them is even more of a blessing than being celebrated yourself!

Over the next few days let’s examine that we live in the “first world,” and consequently, we have so much to be thankful for.  Most of our problems are #firstworldproblems.  For example, I am going to be thankful for the iPads (yes plural) and the desktop computer we have rather than being frustrated by the fact that my laptop died.

Let’s commit to taking inventory and counting our blessings – OUR blessings.  The blessings we have – not counting and comparing the blessings someone else has or that we wish we had.

Let’s commit to pausing for thankfulness.

Put on your stretchy pants and fill your belly, but let’s also have stretchy hearts – bursting at the seams with gratitude for all the things God has done, all the things God has protected us from, and all the love that He has filled our lives with.

And then there is this beautiful world that God has placed me in. If you can't be thankful for anything else, look around - beauty is everywhere.
And then there is this beautiful world that God has placed me in. If you can’t be thankful for anything else, look around – beauty is everywhere.
Put on your stretchy pants ,fill your belly, but also have stretchy hearts; full of gratitude. Click To Tweet

Having the Courage to Try

The leaves are dropping like it’s hot around here, and the temperature is falling with them.  Autumn is falling into winter, and the holidays are on the horizon.  The beginning of October always marks the start of a very busy end of the year season for us, but this year October has been particularly insane. In fact, I really do not know how we are already finding ourselves at the end of it?!

Where is this going? This is not a time management tutorial or an October recap.  This is an exhortation to have the courage to try.  So why intro with a paragraph about how busy we are and how will be?  Because, life will probably always be busy.  As long as we live in this fast-paced American culture, there’s rarely going to be a “good” time to try new things, and there will probably never be the “perfect” time for it.  We have to create those moments for ourselves.

Having the Courage to Try

I recently applied for a new job (and got it!).  When I was contemplating if I should throw my resume at the listing Will sent me, he encouraged me with the age old adage “Nothing ventured; nothing gained.”  So I made the time and ventured, and God opened doors.  Sometimes we try new things and they don’t take off or they progress very slowly.  Like our grocery delivery and menu planning business – we made the time (a lot of it) to start that, but it’s progressing more slowly than the new job.

In both situations, we mustered up the courage to try something.  This is a lesson that we have been learning this year.  It’s not necessarily about the outcome as much as it is having the courage to try.

Try It

Our prayer, and the way we navigate life has always been to ask God to open the doors He wants us to walk through and close all others.  But inherent in that method is that we have the courage to knock on doors.  If we don’t knock how will we know what’s opened or closed?

Will’s a great example of this.  That man has gone to so many interviews.  He’s knocked on the doors of multiple companies, made it very far into the interview process, but at the final decision time – God closed the door. I respect that courage to put himself out there and to try. It might not have ended up in a new career, a move, a raise, x, y, or z…. but they have all been growing experiences and have given him glimpses into other careers which has helped him shape his desires for what he wants out of life and deepened his appreciation for where God has us right now.

Knock

So, nothing ventured; nothing gained.  What is it that you want to try, but haven’t worked up the courage to make a reality yet?

It could be something small and simple like homemade bread or recreating a favorite recipe your grandma makes.  Maybe you want to learn a new skill like website design or knitting. Maybe you want to buy a house, but you are too afraid to even knock on the door and find out if that’s a real possibility for you.  Maybe it’s your relationships – maybe you need the courage to try to get plugged in more and open up.   Maybe it’s applying for jobs to find out what is out there and begin figuring out what you want to do for a living. Maybe you want to lose a couple of pounds, be able to lift a certain weight, or run a certain distance, but you are afraid to make the lifestyle changes.

Whatever the task is that you are afraid of – try it.  Knock on that door. It might fling open and be easy to walk through, or it might open to some steep stairs to climb on the other side.  It might stay shut.  The important thing is that we try.  Courage, character, memories, talents…. All of these things require action.  Do you have the courage to try?

Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained

Coming Back From Haiti – Processing Reverse Culture Shock

Somethings in life happen without us noticing. Somethings come and go with minimal impact on our daily autopilot.  But there are other things that mess with our equilibrium, speedbumps that throw off our current rhythm, striking moments that you not only notice, but that stick with you.

Somethings come & go w/ minimal impact on our daily autopilot; some come like speedbumps throwing off our rhythm. Click To Tweet

For us, our recent week in Haiti was the latter.  In fact, adjusting to Haiti was as easy as going to sleep the first night and waking up in the morning, but adjusting back… that has been a very different process.

haiti
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Days 5 & 6

I have been waiting to write this post because I was not sure how to verbalize what we learned, how it changed us, and why coming back has been so difficult.

Haiti was very different from America (except for the fact that most people had smart phones).   There it is normal to only have electricity at night, it’s very odd to have air conditioning, houses are not what we are used to, jobs are rare, and to do lists are minute.  It was not cushy, customizable, and programmable to meet our every desire like America, BUT it was beautiful, bursting with opportunity for relationships, and full of time to savor life.

our neighbors the pigs
our neighbors the pigs

wpid-screenshot_2015-09-20-08-44-31.png While we were in Haiti it was obvious that what we were doing was important. Our daily lives were making an impact.  I think pretty much everyone wants their life to make an impact in some way. Will and I are no exclusion – it’s something we crave. Nearly every morning we send each other off to work with the exhortation to “go make someone’s day better.”  For us and all the members of our team in Haiti it was obvious that we were doing just that.

Maybe adjusting back (reverse culture shock) was so much more difficult than adjusting to Haiti because America is so fast and bursting at the seams with things to have, things to eat, and things to do.  Consequently, our culture leaves little room for intentional relationships and investing in and helping those around us.

praying for this 20 year old first time mom.
praying for this 20 year old first time mom.

wpid-fb_img_1442531912515.jpg Before Haiti I was nervous about having “down time.”  But down time there was good.  It was spent getting to know the people around you, taking your time to eat and talk with the people at the table.  After Haiti, it has taken me two weeks to feel like I am catching up to the pace of my American life.

Coming back from Haiti I realized that I have so much even when I feel like I don’t. Coming back from Haiti I realized that I want a slower pace in my life.  I want to be able to invest in my friends and community. Coming back from Haiti, I have had a hard time reconciling with the lack of an impact I feel like I make here.

But perhaps the biggest thing that I still don’t know what to do about is that in Haiti I felt like I was 100% myself.  100% who God made me to be.  100% alive.  And when I went to work 24 hours after getting back – I didn’t know who I was.

So where do we find the balance between our beautiful, impactful life for a week in Haiti and our “normal” lives here in America.  Where’s the compromise?  Where’s the marriage of the two?

I think the answer is in prioritizing properly.  Make sure the things that truly matter come first and the other things fall in line accordingly.  Know that making time for friends and family and ministry might come at the price of late nights and tired next days because I need to finish my homework.  In the ungrateful moments remember how good and cushy we have it.  In the lack luster moments, remember the luster of the God who we serve no matter what country, culture, or job we are in.

Bottom line – if you have been contemplating a short term mission trip; take the risk.  Even if it requires a sacrifice of vacation days.  I promise you; it’s 100% worth it.

haiti

If you're contemplating a short term mission trip; take the risk. It’s 100% worth it Click To Tweet

Savoring Our Favorite Season – 2015 Fall Bucket List

I don’t know if you know this, but the first day of Autumn was last week! And the weather has started to cool down.

Fall is our favorite season in the Pomeroy Life.  It has the crispest air, the sweetest fragrances, the best flavors, snuggly clothes, and beautiful colors that only come around one a year.

2015 Fall Bucket List
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Cinnamon Sugar Apples, Bacon, and Coffee in my Pike’s Peak Mug from our anniversary trip this summer.
2015 Fall Bucket List
Apple Bread =) My mom and I made loaf upon loaf of this stuff every fall when I was growing up.

I have already been fully embracing Fall and all of its flavors!  Last weekend I made pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes and my mom’s apple bread recipe.   Both were delicious, but they do not nearly satisfy my quota of Fall activities.

I want to do savor every ounce of Autumn that God sends our way! Here is our 2015 Fall Bucket List to help accomplish that.

2015 Fall Bucket List

Pause to enjoy the season – this season of the year and this season of life.  What is the point of a Fall Bucket List if there’s no increase in the enjoyment of life and connection with those around us because of it?  We have a really busy Autumn this year, and I don’t want to allow busyness to trick me into missing our favorite time of year.

Your Autumn may be booked; don’t let busyness to trick you into missing this great season. Click To Tweet

We are off to a good start.  We made Apple Fest this year into a #thePomeroyDen outing.  It was a great send off to Haiti, and a nice to make memories/have an excuse to take pictures with the people we have been doing live with over the last six months.

 

2015 Fall Bucket List
The annual Apple Fest Picture. This is where I got my idea for our 4th of July party photo spot.
2015 Fall Bucket List
I call this the Album Cover Pose
2015 Fall Bucket List
yes! The annual best caramel apple in the world!
2015 Fall Bucket List
a more accurate representation of us.
2015 Fall Bucket List
#thePomeroyDen
(minus Izzy Pup)
2015 Fall Bucket List
Amy is an honorary member of the Pomeroy Den. And I am so glad that God has put her in our lives =)
Love Fall? Want to savor every last fallen leaf? Get you bucket list here: http://wp.me/p4kcVG-190 Click To Tweet

Haiti Day 5 & 6

Friday was our last full day in Haiti. It was another day full of the complete gamut of emotions. So much joy watching the primary school kids laugh and get excited in their assembly, playing with the preschoolers,  visiting another elderly home in a very destitute area, going out for ice cream, and saying goodbyes.

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The day started off with the rooster crowing and the customary coffee delivery. We got to play with the preschool and kindergarten kids for a little while until we terrified the 3 year olds with the color of our skin – there was a chain reaction of screaming and crying. Lol. After that we had several classes and then a little road trip. We went to a very poor town in the middle of nowhere called Derak.

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We went to a new Bon Samaritan that is being started in this town. While we were there we painted several women’s nails, met a pregnant 20 year old and prayed for her, and I was told by the elderly women that they would be praying for us to have children… Maybe two. That same woman also took a selfie with me. She was do excited when she could see herself on the screen of the phone. She started reaching out and touching her face on the screen like a little kid. 🙂

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We went to a French fort, Fort Liberty, that was built in the 1600’s.  The fort was built on the coast to keep pirates out.

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After our road trip we made it home just in time for dinner…. And it was pouring. But we didn’t let the rain stop us from going back out for ice cream. One last hurrah with each other and our translators. One of our translators gave us the sweetest, most encouraging letter.

It was a bitter sweet day, but a good note to end this trip on.

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Adrienne the coffee delivery

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Saturday we had an extra hour before breakfast, but the coffee still came at the normal time. Will tried to teach Adrienne some English, and he tried to teach Will some Creole. The rest of the morning was spent dragging our feet packing,  cleaning up, and chatting. Eventually we had to load our bags onto the bus and ride for hour and a half to the airport….

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At the airport to leave

While I am glad to not be sweating constantly, I am not sure that I was ready to leave.  I am sure I will be processing and responding to this trip for the next few days.

Haiti Day 4

Today has been filled with a lot of emotions. Exhaustion that is setting in for most people,and Will’s been sick since Tuesday. Despite this, today overflowed with moments of joy and laughter. Mixed in there were moments of astonishment, empathy, worship, and heartbreak.

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Will and a student leading the class in head, shoulders, knees, and toes.
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This is my friend Elana. I met her Monday, and today she saw me in the hallway, came running, and jumped into my arms. Think she will fit in my suitcase?

I sang worship songs with some of the students in English classes, and was so encouraged and filled with pride when our 18 year old interpreter Jaccine gave away her food to a hungry little boy in the hallway.

During our upper level English classes we had the opportunity to hear more of the stories and dreams of the students. There are many students here with big dreams and big enough hearts to make them happen.  #hopeforhaiti

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Will in TOFEL

After school we went to a nursing home for the elderly who have no family to care for them. Many of them are deaf or blind. Some of them were brought in off of the streets. We were told these are the people who are considered to be “the poor.”  At Bon Samaritan they are given food, a roof, a bed (if there are enough), and community.  The goal is to provide the cast aside and forgotten with a semblance of dignity for their last days.  The man who runs it is a sweet by a sweet, Christ-loving, Indian man.

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Bon Samaritan is one of the most heartbreaking things I have seen in my life.  We spent about am hour and a half there talking with them, painting the women’s nails, singing with them, and praying for them.  There are few things more beautiful than singing in hymns in two different languages at the same time. Despite their situation, you could hear the gratitude in the elderly women’s voices when we were singing Amazing Grace with them.

After that we walked back to school and ate some really good goat for dinner. Will and I got to talk with one of the teachers here who went to school in Kentucky (his English is phenomenal). He has many passions that line up with ours.  Hearing his story and his dreams was great! He has so much faith. I have no doubt God will use him in big ways!

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We got mobbed again.

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Looking back I realize that today came full circle for me. In morning devotions I read 1 Timothy 6:6-8

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”

With God comes contentment,not matter your situation. With God comes a focus on something more than what you have, where you are, how the pigs outside your room smell, how hot it is, how you feel, how old you are, how ratty your sheets are…. The list goes on. With God comes assurance that this world is temporary and something bigger is at work.

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Haiti Day 3

Today was busy. We were able to watch the debates for school president during lunch, which was pretty exciting. Judging by the cheers, I think Samuel will win.

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Watching the debate with the secondary students.

During our break we were able to do some shopping for souvenirs from a few vendors who the school allows to sell on their property. One of the vendors has a son who is in the tenth grade here, Midnight Son. He is so sweet, and his English is very good. He has been to the Kentucky Horse Park before! He was in a choir that sang at the world equestrian games.

Two of the other vendors are 20 somethings who paint to earn a living and are also going back to finish their high school education (not at this school).

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Max. His English is so good! He's been painting for 2 and a half years and is finishing his school.
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Willgins and his paintings. He is also finishing school.

We also spent and hour talking with the TOFEL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) students to help them with their conversational English.

After school Hughes (he started the school) drove us out to his farm. He had 20 acres and the school has 200. The goal is to grow the agriculture income into something that can support the school. They grow papaya, yuca, cashews, cherries, lemons, limes, oranges, sweet potatoes, several varieties of mangos, coconuts, and lots and lots of peanuts. They also keep bees and sell the honey.

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There are so many possibilities with the land. Will enjoyed seeing it and hearing Hughes’ vision to help bring jobs to the area. He sees beyond the walls of the church. He sees a beautiful and bright people who just need an opportunity to make something of themselves. His goal is to be Jesus to them by providing that opportunity.  That process gives him and his staff avenues to share the Gospel and disciple along the way.

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Haiti Day 2

Bonsuoi (good night)!

We had quite the busy day today. We started at 7 with breakfast. We started the day with an hour long sign language class which is so fun! We taught English classes the rest of the day.

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We had a pretty crazy English class with the 12th graders (that’s junior year here).  In that class we were guests so we just walked around and answered questions. One of the boys told us it was nice to see such beautiful women. When they found out I was married, they froze for a second and started apologizing.  I pointed at Will and had him wave at them. They were so embarrassed.  After I went back to my seat they asked Will to come back and talk to them. They wanted to apologize and ask if he was angry with them. So hilarious!!!

Will did great teaching today! He even taught a few of the older girls some Chinese.

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Several things happen after school today. First, a man from the Dominican came and fixed the air conditioner in our bedroom. For the win. In the meantime one of our teammates and I got the chance to play soccer with a bunch of 7th grade boys.  We  had taught sign language to some of them, and they remembered my name.

The third thing was a little heartbreaking… There are a lot of kids who play in the field on the other side of the school’s wall. We can see them from our porch. They play and pick through the trash.

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The kids next door

Today they spotted us sitting on the porch, came up to the wall, and started shouting “Blanc! Blanc!” at us. When I walked over they rubbed their swollen bellies and were putting their hand to their mouths asking for food….. We aren’t allowed to give them anything because it would cause trouble for the school if all the neighborhood kids were always begging when teams come to help. We wanted to, but we had no way of explaining that we wanted to help but couldn’t.

Lastly, we went on a walking tour of Ouanaminthe. We saw to the market, the clinic the school runs, and the bakery here at the school (it smelled sooo good!).

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The bakery
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The Baptist Church
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View from the clinic

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For  tonight I will leave you with this:
Haiti is a beautiful place full of beautiful people made by the same God who made you and I. And it’s even more beautiful to hear them talk about God.
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Haiti Day 1

Warning: I am posting from my phone. I am sorry if the pictures do not come through or if the formatting is messy.

We left Miami yesterday at lunch time bound for Haiti. We landed at what is officially the smallest airport I have ever been in, paid $10 to enter the country, and spent the next hour on a bus taking in the country side and enjoying our last hour of air conditioning.

Leaving for Haiti

Leaving for Haiti 2

Our room is right next to a pig stye and several chickens and roosters. About the time the generator kicks off shutting off the fan in our bedroom is when the rooster starts crowing…. But! A few minutes later, Adrian, the most helpful mandatory you’ll ever meet, delivered the coffee to our porch. 🙂

Haiti Day 1

Will taking in the sunset and the pig stye

Today was our first day of teaching. We taught in 30 minute segments. We are teaching English and sign language. It’s not my specialty, but I am enjoying it. My favorite was recess! The kids all mob you and say “Blanc! Blanc!”  translation: “White! White!”  They all just want to touch you. Literally I have never been so mobbed. But it was awesome. They just want you to play with them or let them stand and hold your hand.

Haiti Day 1

 

This afternoon it rained so we didn’t do anything. Tomorrow we get to tour the town after school.

For now I will leave you with this nugget –  I have been in Haiti two days and already being married to an engineer had proven it’s worth two times. Our very ingenuitively hung mosquito net and when we were locked out of our room. Who knows what he’ll MacGyver for me tomorrow!

Haiti Day 1