This semester was rough for a lot of the kids. We saw a lot of grades decline so we are working hard with our tutors to bring them up for the 4th and final semester of the year! We still had a good handful of student with almost perfect scores. Just think... 2 years ago some of these kids could not even read or write! 5 of these kids (including John Caesar who was voted SCHOOL president) go to one of the best schools in Cap. We've come so far! As a reward/good grade incentive for the boys that have above a 6 (8 is highest), we went to the beach! These kids worked HARD in school and they deserved a day of fun.
The boys waiting on a tap tap to pick them up for school. President John Caesar is sitting in the chair with a black and red book bag
Johny is getting in trouble here. I was trying so hard not to laugh. He was supposed to be getting water, but instead he was painting side burns on his face... he was late for the tap tap, which caused everyone to leave late. bahaha. These kids are hilarious! "If it's funny later, it's funny now" - Pastor Marion
studying with Professor Guitto after school. Ti-Cardo (skate city sleeveless t-shirt) has the highest GPA in the house. He's earned it!
Wedky and Michel Gladson taking a break from their lesson to pose for a picture. They need a little less posing a lot more study!
The plan was to go to Labadee boat beach, catch a boat taxi to Belly beach (only accessible by hike or boat), swim, eat fresh sea food and Linsey was going to take the kids jet-skiing! The ULTIMATE reward in the eyes of any teen age boy! They jet-ski was broken and they were trying to overcharge us for the beach fee. I was able to sweet talk the beach attendant back down to the normal price of using the beach, but we realized it would be better to go someplace where we can have more an ocean excursion....So after many attempts to find other jet ski's we went back to the boat landing and drove our 8 top scorers to Cormier Plage Resort for some snorkeling, kayaking and amazing fresh sea food.
this is the view from Belly Beach... such a gorgeous country!
Guensly and me on the boat to Belly. He is a great kid. I remember the first day he came to Streethearts. Now he has some of the top grades! He is an average, typical teen... he wants to look fresh and swaggerish, and he enjoys selfies and watching soccer :)
Michel Pierre and me on the boat back to Labadee... He came to my house to see me when I threw out my back (that's a whole other blog!). He said he wanted to sweep my floor. Instead he fell asleep in my guest bedroom. Ha!!
We split up, while some boys were kayaking (that was a hilarious sight to see) the other boys and I went to snorkel. It was amazing. I had not snorkeled in Haiti yet (I know!! how is this possible?!) and I was impressed with the reef. I gave each of the kids a reef conservation talk before we went out and told them basic hand signs based on what they were about to see. It was BEAUTIFUL!!! Samson was by far the most comfortable with floating and chilling on the surface of the water, Julien and Jackie were a close second. I loved every minute of my time with the boys and kept thinking, today could not be more perfect! We held hands and went all over the reef pointing out the different fish, the anemone, sea urchins of all colors and sizes, the different types of coral and all the other little critters down there. I wish I had pictures of all of this, but I had put my phone up to keep it from getting wet :(
This is one of Samsons, my snorkle buddy, selfies I found on my phone after he ran a marathon in Labadee with the Caribbean running cruise team on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Love it!
Julio and Jacky were enjoying the last bit of time at the beach after dinner. These are two very smart and very introspective kids. Love, love, LOVE these kids.
One thing that we do at the house from time to time or when the boys come to visit my house (usually in smaller groups) is look through pictures on my computer so I can teach the boys about other countries. We also look up videos of current events or famous places and talk about them. So with the news of the earthquake (Tranblemantè) in Nepal, They have asked to talk about Nepal again (most of the boys have looked at pictures of Nepal with me before). We talked about avalanches (because of the avalanche at base camp, which we watched on mute since they say the "f" word about 70 times in a row) and how that can be deadly. The boys were fascinated watching some footage of other avalanches around the world. I explained that Nepal is a poorer country than Haiti. This was very hard for some of the kids to understand and specifically Ti-Sony said he didn't believe that was true. So, we did some economic research together.
Ti-Sony and I showing off our ability to lift cannon balls at the Citadelle. We are so strong.
Ti-Sony also enjoys playing dominoes! He's losing here in this picture, hahaha! I still don't get the close pin thing, but whatever!
According to "the internets" (which is never wrong), or more accurately Global Finance Magazine online, the poorest country in the world is Democratic Republic of Congo. So we talked about Pastor Niki's dad, who is from Congo and the trials he had as a kid; how God has used those trials for good and gave him an opportunity to change his life through education, which now allows him to help others all over the world, including Streethearts. Then we got to Nepal. Ranked #19 just behind Haiti, #20 (I was right... duh). They were hard pressed to believe people had it worse than they do. I love how attentive they get when we talk about life in other countries. Usually during prayers, I make it a point to thank God for the freedom to praise Him and ask for protection of people in countries that don't have freedom to choose their faith. This turned into a very interesting conversation. The boys had no idea that people are killed for their faith around the world daily... to further this conversation and really explain, I will need my Kreyòl vocabulary to be a lot larger! Goes back thousands of years kids. For now we continue to pray for Christians and others around the world being persecuted for their faith.
We talked about the riots in Baltimore and what is going on there. They were floored that we have those problems in the US. I explained again that education changes our future, education is power and they should not throw away or take for granted the second chances they have been given. God has beautiful plans for them, for hope and a future (hey Jenn, wasn't that one of our bible verses?... Why yes. Yes it was).
I found Marcny hanging out alone drawing... happy as can be. This new house gives our boys space to be kids
These kids blow my mind daily. Here is a kid that lived on the streets for years. He was a rough one... but today he asked for a coloring book and crayons and he sat there for hours coloring. Every now and then, he would show me a picture, smile and go right back to coloring. Just like any other kid, he was excited to show me his finished product and his face lite up when I would tell him how much I loved it! Love never fails.
Ti-PaP coloring and showing off one of the final products... Look at that dimple!
The other day Ricardo (one of our older kids in workforce program) came to the safehouse after work. I was writing the rules of the house in Kreyòl and he started to read what I had written... very slow. In my efficient "let's get it done" manner I almost jumped in to read it faster, but then I remembered: whoa!! THIS IS HUGE!!! He is reading!!!! This is THE best! Music to my ears!
Ricardo petting our new lil' pup Salsa after work
These kids have come so far and I could not be more proud to know them and share life with them. To watch them grow and change into the young men God intended for them to be. There is no greater gift. These are the kind of moments that make this life worth living. This is why we are here.