Monday, May 5, 2014

How I met Jeff Jack.

I have a crazy, great friend named Matt Carter. I don’t recall when or where I first met Matt, but I did, and it’s been a great friendship ever since. He lived in the Dallas area and I was in Arkansas as our friendship grew. He had moved to Georgia for work and to be closer to his family while I moved to Austin. Fast forward a few months to April 2013.

I received a text message from Matt one day in April stating that he had a great friend from the Dallas area who just moved to Austin. He described this friend as an “incredible Godly dude.” Then he asked if he could send this guy my name and number. If nothing else, it could be two people who love Jesus and are new to Austin meeting and becoming friends. I was usually turned off to that sort of stuff, but I found it hard to turn down an opportunity to meet an “incredible Godly dude,” so I said, “Sure.” That was that. No more words about it from Matt or this “incredible Godly dude.” I forgot all about the conversation and went on with my life. I later heard from Matt asking if his friend had called, which he had not. Then he told me he was coming to Texas in the summer. We made plans to hang out for the three days he’d be in Austin. Fast forward to June 2013.

Matt arrives on Monday, June 24, and tells me that he has another friend in Austin who was going to meet up with us when he got off from work. I like meeting new people and making new friends, so the more the merrier! Matt wanted barbecue for dinner, so we decided to eat at Stiles Switch BBQ. His friend was going to meet us there. As soon as we drove into the parking lot, it was very clear that this restaurant was not open on Mondays. So, we waited in the empty parking lot for Matt’s friend to show up so we could make up a Plan B. Fast forward just a few minutes.
A maroon Honda CRV pulls up next to us, and then out walks a tall, dark, handsome, Chucks-wearing guy. I immediately turned into a shy 12 year old girl who couldn’t make eye contact or words. This guy was cute! Matt quickly introduced me and then they began talking music pedals (something like that…who knows). While they talked, I sat in the passenger seat thinking, “He’s cute AND has the coolest name on the planet.” But, he didn’t look at me except one time to say, “Nice to meet you.” I kept reminding myself just to stay cool and not let any crazy show.

Once we finally got seated somewhere to eat, conversation went well. I enjoyed watching and listening to the two of them catch up and then throwing my nervous two cents in every once and a while. After dinner, we went to Mozart’s for coffee. We sat out by the lake for hours. One thing was confirmed. I had a big ol’ crush on Jeff Jack after just one night. I remember going home that night and praying, “God, if this isn’t my husband, please don’t let me fall for him.” Then I fell asleep with this boy on my mind.

Matt and I spent the next day hiking the Green Belt. Matt got us miles off track, but we did successfully complete about a million of them in the heat of Austin summer and didn’t keel over. Even though I almost killed Matt for getting us so lost! I was just too distracted. Not wanting to be “that” girl and talk about Jeff the entire time, I just kept all I wanted to say inside my mind. I was hoping and wishing he would hang out with us that night, which he did. We met for take 2 of Stiles Switch BBQ. We ate dinner and then played washers and darts….or attempted to play. This is where the flirting began. I mean, doesn’t everyone’s hands brush across each other when handing darts over to the next thrower? ;) There was also some competitiveness, which I loved. For some reason, I like to compete in things I’m no good at. It gave us plenty to flirt about, so all was well. This night ended the same way. “God, if this isn’t my husband, please don’t let me fall for him.” Then I fell asleep with this boy on my mind.

Now it’s Wednesday. This was Matt’s last day in Austin, which meant my last day to spend with him and probably my last night to hang out with Jeff. Matt and I went to Top Golf. It was my first time there, and I got hooked! On the way, he tells me that the guy he texted me about in April, the “incredible Godly dude” guy, was Jeff Jack. I was totally ok with that. I was ok with him finally using my number if he ever decided to do so, and if he even kept it. There was excitement inside of me. But I was also very guarded. I had obviously fallen for this guy, even though I asked God not to let me just in case. I was to a point in my life where I was ready for the next guy I date to be my husband. I honestly had the thought, after two nights of hanging out with Jeff, “Could this be my husband?” I kept myself guarded and my hopes down just in case he wasn’t my guy. Jeff met us that night for dinner and Putt Putt. I honestly did not want the night to be over. I had kinda liked hanging out with him. We said our goodbyes. Matt and Jeff hugged bye, and I gave Jeff a nice pat on the arm (like a dummy). As soon as we got in the car, Matt said, “You could have at least given him a hug!” I knew I blew that chance! When Matt and I got back to my apartment, I checked out the Putt Putt score cards. Jeff only beat me by 3 shots. Of course I took this as my chance to talk to him more and made Matt text on my behalf to rub it in. This is young relationship flirting at its finest. Instead of responding through Matt’s phone, he responded to my phone. This was the start of a lot of text messages over the next two days. Oh, and he hit me on the head with his golf club. There was mention of that in all of our text messages as well.

After lots of text messages, and then not hearing from him for a couple of days (I refused to text him at this point), he finally texted. There were two more days of lots of text messages before we decided to hang out in person with no Matt. Just the two of us. I wasn’t sure if it was a date or a friend thing, so I went with no expectations in mind. Jeff did a good job not to lead me on via texts. As soon as he greeted me in the parking lot of Mozart’s on Tuesday, July 2, he stopped me and said, “Ok, there are few things I want to tell you. I like you, I think you’re gorgeous, and I was hoping we could make this a date.” “Heck yea,” I said…or maybe that’s what I thought. I did say, “Of course.” I was thrilled and respected the fact that he wanted to ask me out in person. The way I always felt it should be done. We walked hand in hand the rest of the night drinking coffee and climbing up Mount Bonnell to watch the sunset. I knew on this night that I could marry him. This night my prayer was more like, “Thank you, Jesus!” And then I fell asleep with this boy on my mind.

We went out every night that week, and then I was off to Arkansas for 9 days. While I was gone, there was constant communication via text messages. There were also phone calls every evening. I missed him. I couldn’t wait to get home and see him again. And I did. The rest is history. Wonderful, happy history.

As I type this, I am 68 days away from marrying him. I thank God for bringing him to me and for not letting me doubt one second that this is the guy I choose to spend my entire life with. I chose him 10 months ago, I choose him today, and I will choose him every day until I die. And that, folks, is how we met. Thanks for your support, love, and encouragement! It has been a fun journey and will only get better from here.

Signed the future Mrs. Jeff Jack,

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Our engagement story.

January 25, 2014

And the happiest day of my life went a little something like this…

Jeff and I had plans to spend the entire day together on Saturday. Spending weekend time together isn’t unusual, so I had no reason to suspect anything from it. I was extra excited about this day though because in the past 8 days, I had spent maybe 3 hours with him. I was in need of some Jeff Jack time! We were going to start our day off with breakfast. He said he found a new spot close to me, so he was going to pick me up at 10:00 am. After that, we literally had a full day’s agenda. I was ready!

I heard his knock (because he has a knock) at 10:00 am sharp. I opened the door so fast with so much excitement to see him and spend the day with him. Instead of Jeff, there stood my sister. She was holding her phone up in one hand (filming) and a Starbucks’ cup in the other with “Jeff” written on it. I stood there in complete shock at the fact that Emily was at my door, and then I started freaking out a little….or maybe a lot. I hugged her, I cried (the ugly cry), and I was shaking almost uncontrollably. She then handed me a single rose and a card. I continued to cry and shake like crazy as I read his note. He told me that he knew we had an entire day planned together, but he thought I’d like his new plans better (he knows me well). I was on a scavenger hunt that would lead me to him. I would be given clues, and at each stop I would have to complete a challenge to receive my next clue. Then he wrote, “I can’t wait to see you. It’s time.” Emily delivered my first clue, and it read, “Pancakes and queso, coffee and cards, being here with you is a favorite by far, our first hangout, where I’m perfectly content, just to hear you laugh, and how your day went.” I immediately knew we were going to Kerbey Lane. After I changed clothes (the Chuck’s, t-shirt, and flannel button-up just weren’t going cut it anymore), we were on the way, Emily driving and being with me the whole way.

When we got to Kerbey Lane, Em told me to lead the way. I walked into the back room to find his sister, Allison and her husband, Brady sitting at a table sipping coffee. Again, I flipped out. Because Kerbey Lane is our favorite go to spot to play cards, my first challenge was to beat Allison at a game of Gin before I could receive my next clue. I later found out she secretly beat me but let me win, which was a good move on her part or else we would have been sitting there all day! They handed me another single rose and Clue #2, which said, “Pizza and pints, in a house on a bend, we’ve had dinner with strangers, we’ve had dinner with friends, and one night when leaving, under bright and shining moon, I first said, “I love you,” and you said it too!” Emily drove me to Pinthouse Pizza, which is in fact where we said, “I love you” for the first time.

We walked to the back of the restaurant and out the back doors where I found my mom and dad standing. I began the ugly cry again. As I’m hugging them and crying, I see my brother out of the corner of my eye walking towards me. I screamed and fell to the ground with more tears. I was so overwhelmingly happy they were all there. When I finally got my composure, they told me my next challenge. The third time I ever hung out with Jeff Jack we played Putt Putt. He ended up hitting me in the head with his club, but that’s a different story for a different blog. ☺ This head bonk, however, is what led to the first text messages between the two of us that night, so I didn’t mind it too much! In the parking lot of Pinthouse Pizza was a golf ball, coffee can and putter propped up over to the side. I had to hit the ball into the coffee can to get my next clue. When I finally did that (hardest challenge by far…we’ll leave out details of how I managed to succeed), my sweet parents and brother handed me another single rose and my third clue. It said, “Firewords and Mozart’s, sunset in your eyes, your beauty was a sight to see, and it only grows with time, up there on that mountaintop, the second day of July, I looked at you and thought inside, “This Katie Hurt is mine!”” I knew without a doubt our next stop would be Mt. Bonnell, our first date spot.

Emily makes the trek up the mountain with me taking pictures the whole way to the top! I walked her towards where Jeff and I stood on our first date. As we got closer I see his brother, Kevin and his wife, Alyson standing waiting on us. I couldn’t get to them fast enough and hug them both! I then hear Jeff’s mom and turn around to see her and Jeff’s dad walking towards me! After I stopped hugging and crying again, Aly hands me a pole with a string and hook attached to it. She said that Jeff told them I hung the moon, so my next challenge was to clip the hook into the moon, which was a spray-painted styrofoam ball floating in a tub of water. The wind and my shakes were against me, but I finally hooked it and literally “hung the moon.” A few months ago, Jeff and I decided to make a song called I Like the Way You Hung the Moon our song, and that phrase has stuck with us. Yet another perfectly thought out spot and challenge. Words could not express my happiness! Because I completed my challenge, I received another red rose and my final clue, which said, “You can see me where you are, but I’m rather pretty far, follow the river up to the bridge, you’d better take the car, climb the rocks you climbed before, don’t slip and cut your knee, this is the final clue so quick, Babe, hurry to me!” I couldn’t get to him fast enough! His final clue led us to a look out point at Austin’s 360 Bridge. I had been here one time before with my parents about 4 years ago. During that time, Dad and I both slipped and fell on the rocky hike, hence the “don’t slip and cut your knee” comment! Jeff and I had not been here together, which made it even more special. Emily still faithfully stayed with me up another mountain snapping pictures along the way. As I reached the top, there he stood. I don’t think he has ever looked more handsome than he did at that moment. I literally ran to him. All I remember is hugging him, and kissing him, giggling, and crying. I thanked him for the most amazing day. He said the sweetest things, which I wish I could remember it all! I do remember (and I paraphrase) him pointing out the fact that every stop I had made that morning has been symbolic in our relationship thus far. He wanted me to meet him at a spot we had not been to together, because we were about to embark on something new together. He told me he didn’t know what our future held, but he wanted to experience it all with me! I was squeezing him so tight that when he finally managed to pull away, he got down on his knee, called me by my entire name, and asked me to marry him. Of course I said, “YES!” Strangers came out from behind bushes (he asked them to hide and give us a few minutes) cheering and celebrating with us, my sister was cheering, and his siblings were all there. Emily and his brother in law Brady did such a good job of capturing it all on camera! It was PERFECT. After we hugged and drooled over my new engagement ring (that might have just been me), we headed back down the mountain. When I got to the bottom, his parents were standing there with his sister, Laura, on Facetime. She was unable to come because of work, but I loved getting to talk to her and see her face in the midst of it all. Then Emily gave me a huge hug from my brother in law, Drew, who was also unable to be there because of work. We were then off to one of our favorite little Italian restaurants where Jeff had made a lunch reservation for all of us. Our families finally got to meet for the first time, and we just got to spend sweet time together sharing pictures and videos and stories from our fairy tale day.

I am so humbled that God loves me so much to bless me with way more than I deserve. Jeff Jack is an answer to so many prayers, and I give God all the glory for bringing him to me. I cannot wait to marry him and spend the rest of my life with my best friend feeling this happy and doing my very best to make him happy as well. I am beyond blessed that our family made the trip to Austin and were all part of it. I couldn’t have been more surprised! Thank you EVERYONE for the calls, texts, messages, likes, comments. We are overwhelmed by your love and support. Thank you for sharing this with us! Let the wedding planning begin!

Signed the future Mrs. Jeff Jack,

<>< Katie

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Not-So-Secret Angels

I know, I know. I'm a terrible blogger, but here I am! Some things are just blog worthy. :)

My 2nd graders (along with the other two classes) are doing "Secret Angel" these last couple of weeks before Christmas break. I joined the second grade team for the first time this year, and this is one of the many awesome traditions set. I'm crazy about it. All kiddos filled out an information page of their favorite things, drew out of a basket, and are sworn to secrecy as to not give anything away. For those of you wondering...yes, they do this very well! Their first gift requirement was to write their Secret Angel a letter, which was due yesterday. I'm really sorry you didn't get to see these notes. Sweet and so very funny. Not only did they write a letter, but many attached their Angel's favorite candy or book or drink with it. One of the highlights of my year so far was not only seeing their excitement as they dropped their gifts into the box when they got to school, but watching them come into the room later to find the letters and gifts from their Secret Angels sitting on their desks. Pure happiness, joy, and delight. I smile just thinking about it.

The Scripture verse we're focusing on this year is 1 John 3:18, "Let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth." My heart is still warm and fuzzy from a class talk we had yesterday...regarding Secret Angels and this exact Bible Verse. I encouraged my kids to say a prayer for their friend every time they drop their gift into the Secret Angel drop box. I told them to ask God to bless their friend and help them through the day. I also encouraged them to pray for themselves- to ask God to teach THEM something as they are giving and being a blessing. As 7 and 8 year olds, they are loving with actions and in truth. They are experiencing what it means to love on others and bless people. They are learning that we don't give just to receive, but that because we love Jesus, we encourage, we say kind things, we build each other up, we pray for each other. They are doing just that. I got to hear these prayers out of their own hearts and mouths this morning. All I can say is God is so good. My prayer and that He continues to give them these desires to lift others up, to be blessings, and to serve as they grow in their faith and walks with Him. Reasons why my job is the greatest. :)

Always, the Lord uses my students to reveal things to me, which can get pretty hard. :) He shows me things daily through these people I spend my days with, and I really am extremely thankful for it. This is something that really tugged on my heart yesterday. When we get so busy meeting daily requirements of our jobs, families, and life in general, I know it gets hard to focus on much else. We have gifts to buy, gifts to wrap, parties to throw, food to make, houses to clean, kids to bathe, deadlines to meet, alarm clocks to hit snooze through (if you're like me), traffic to grumble through (if you're like me), and the list goes on and on. However, the words He gave me yesterday to share with my babes, I needed. So, here's your encouragement as well!

Let's spend some time this Christmas to live out 1 John 3:18. Live out the gospel...share the gospel! Leave some notes (handwritten), buy the food or coffee for the person behind you in the drive-thru, strike up encouraging conversations for people who need it, smile a little more, thank someone for their hard work, and you get my drift. :)

It's Jesus' birthday. Make Him famous all for His glory. "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

Happy Christmas to all and all a good night.
<>< Katie

Friday, April 5, 2013

Prone to "wonder."

I read a blog the other day by a man named Jon Bloom. He had a neat outlook and perspective on our "wonderment." In this blog, he stated, "The devil is going to do his level best to keep you stupid and senseless." Meaning, Satan does not want us to wonder about things (for lack of a better word). He hates us wondering because it has a great tendency to lead us to worship.

I might be the only one, but when I get to wondering, it more times than not leads me to do the opposite of worshipping my God. It usually leaves me burdened, lonely, frustrated, and confused. My "I wonder's" quickly become, "God, why...?" That's why I know the Lord used this man and his words to uplift and encourage me when I get to wondering about all of the unknowns in my life. Those unknowns that are all so worthy of my worship. I sure an thankful for His gentle, loving reminders...

I have lots that I "wonder" about on a daily basis. I wonder about Teacon. I wonder when God's going to take him out of Haiti so he can live with his Mama and Papa. When he can be with his parents who love him and are ready to take care of, hug and kiss, play with, read to, feed, pray over, and raise him. I wonder about my guy. My husband. I wonder where he lives, what he looks like, how he's serving the Lord, how we're going to meet, when I get to finally marry him, what kind of fun and crazy adventures we're going to go on. I wonder about my students. I wonder what they are going to be like and what they will be doing when they grow up. I wonder if I am having an impact on their lives at all. I wonder about my babes in Haiti. I wonder what they're doing. I wonder if they've been hugged and played with today. I wonder when I will get to see them again. I wonder what year 26 as Katie Hurt has to bring. I wonder about Heaven. I wonder what exactly it looks like, sounds like, feels like. I wonder what it's going to be like to see Jesus face to face, to hold his hands, to bow at His feet. I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.

It's ok to wonder. We need to let ourselves wonder. I want my wondering to lead me to radically worship the One who has in all planned out, and like Hebrews 1:3 says, "is upholding it all by the word of His power." To claim this leaves me no other option than worshipping God during times of uncertainties. Trusting His already awesome future for my life gives me so much peace and excitement. Instead of feeling discouraged that Teacon is not 2 1/2 hours up the road, I can be that much more excited that he will be soon. Instead of being impatient about meeting my guy, I have so very much to look forward to, and I will treasure and cherish him like crazy. I can rest in peace that Jesus is wrapping His arms around those kids in Haiti when I cannot. I get to enjoy blessings from my students everyday. And Heaven. Wow. I just can't wait to get there.

Satan's going to hate it. He wants us stupid, distracted and deceived. "If he can't damn us, he'll try to dumb us"...and we just have to resist. Jesus loves you so much, and He has such good things planned for your life. I can promise that because He has already promised it. Cease striving and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). Claiming that verse everyday. Wonder and allow yourself to become overwhelmed by not only what you have coming, but also by the most ordinary things around you.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Haiti-Final Day 5

Friday, March 15, 2013

We woke up early this morning to go see the kids. The ground was already picked up, so we enjoyed some quiet time with them as they were just waking up and getting ready for school. It was definitely different getting out of the truck and not being swarmed by smiling, sweaty kids. Instead, we walked to the back to meet them. They were standing sleepy eyed and grinning  in their school uniforms...just a shivering. It wasn't cold at all, but all they know is heat. The temperature is cooler in the mornings, and their little bodies were frozen and covered with goose bumps. Some were still dripping wet from the baths they just had, and some weren't even dressed yet running around with bare hineys.  I gathered a group together and began rubbing their arms and hands to generate heat, and then snuggled them close to me. Egloose in my lap. He knew today was voyage day, and stuck extra close. We sat with them as they ate their breakfast. We're not sure what they were eating, but we referred to it as porridge. It looks a lot like yellow grits. No matter the size of the child, they were all given a huge pile of it in either an aluminum bowl, sauce pan, or a frisbee. They lick it clean. If not with their tongues, they use their fingers to get every last bite out. As most kids were finishing up and headed to the tent for school to start, Robinson was taking small little  bites and making it last as long as possible. One of the women who help tend to the kids took his frisbee full of food and spooned half of it onto a bowl for Christopher. Naturally, Robinson began to cry. It broke my heart. It broke my heart one because Robinson didn't get to enjoy all of his breakfast, and two because Christopher came so close to not having any breakfast at all. 

When all of the kids were in place for school, we told them we would be back, and then we headed to the compound with our little guy, Teacon. We ate breakfast and got bags packed up and ready to go. We kept T outside and away from seeing the luggage. As always we had so much fun playing, taking photos, and spending some quality time with just him for the last time this trip. Our friend Roody was away with the car when it was time to go back and see the kids one final time. My stomach being in knots. Mom, Dad, and I walked to the orphanage (about 10 minutes) while Drew, Em, and T waited on Roody and the truck at the compound. While we were away with the kids, Roody translated for Drew and Emily to tell Teacon reassure him they were coming back for him and that they love him very much. Not a fun conversation. As if I wasn't already so proud of my sister and brother in law, this trip has increased that even more. I got to see the two in action as Mama and Papa, and it was unbelievable. It is so obvious that God created this perfect little Haitian boy to be their son and to be in our family. Like I've said already, it couldn't be more natural. I am so excited for the day he gets to come home. 

They met us at the orphanage around 10:45. We snapped some last minute pictures, and then came the moment I had been dreading since before I ever even got to Haiti. The sick feeling I had in my stomach all morning quickly rose to my throat. I held back the tears as I grabbed as many kids as I could hugging them and repeating, "Naw we pita Naw we pita Naw we pita (see you later)." Egloose had both arms and legs wrapped around me and was squeezing so tight. I was doing good about not crying until he looked at me with big tears rolling down his cheeks. I lost it. I kissed him and hugged him and kissed him again and again, promising him that I would see him again soon. On top of all of this, I knew I still had to tell Teacon bye. When I got to him, the family had already loved on him. I hugged him so tight and told him that I loved him and would see him soon. I think the thing I will miss most about him until I see him again (besides absolutely everything) is hearing him say "I love you." He says it back every single time we tell him. Sometimes I would even say, "I love you more" and Teacon would of course say back, "I love you more." :) I definitely love him more though. I am so blessed to call that boy my nephew. 

We pulled away and drove back to the compound. We did our best to freshen up by changing clothes and wiping the dirt off with wet wipes. We loaded up, grabbed a drink and some gas at the gas station and were off to Port au Prince. The trip was unbelievable as expected. I agree with Dad and his comment of never complaining about Mopac again. :) Before we flew out,  Drew and Emily wanted to see and say hi to their attorney who they are working with on the adoption process. Mom, Dad, and I were able to meet him for the first time, and we had a good (and quick) chat. We were able to see the official, hard documents stating that Teacon is medically cleared for adoption. Now, we just continue to wait on God to make the'll be in His perfect timing. And it will be awesome. Because of traffic (Austin's got nothin on Haiti), it was time to get to the airport. We arrived and got through immigration and security just in time to board our flight, which is where I am now. It was a teary take off, and my heart is aching. I'm sitting here sipping on a Dr Pepper and eating my snack of pretzels and crackers, but wishing I was eating chewy goat meat and spending time with my kids. We have about 45 minutes left until we land in Ft Lauderdale. We'll grab dinner, crash at our hotel, and get ready for an early morning to catch our flight on to Dallas. I have mixed emotions about being home tomorrow. Of course it's always good to be home, but I sure do miss Haiti and everything about it. Thankful to Jesus for allowing me to come this week, and already begging him to send me back soon. Of course I'm also begging God to send Drew and Em back soon so they can bring our buddy home. Keep praying with us. We did have a great trip. Thankful for more memories made with our favorite kiddos. I can't wait to get back to them. Haiti, the place that holds my heart, naw we pita. :)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Haiti- Day 4

Thursday, March 14, 2013

It's hard to get a full night's sleep in here. The generator goes off at about 3:00 am, so our fans cut off. It gets stuffy and eerily quiet as can be minus the sounds of horns, traffic, people talking, and dogs barking. I wake up a number of times a night, and I am up before 7:00 am. We don't go to the orphanage  until around 10:00 am because the kids are in school, so we spent the morning eating cliff bars, brushing our teeth with water from our water bottles, and hanging out with Teacon (our favorite thing to do).

At about 10:00, Mom, Dad, Lukie, and I headed to see the kids. Drew and Emily kept T here at the compound to spend a little extra time with just him. When we got to the orphanage, we did the same thing we always do while there. First, we stayed under the tent for's extremely hot here in Haiti. Next, we loved on as many kids as we could. I had Egloose in my lap. I can never get enough of his sweet self. He had the inside of a pen and was drawing all over his hand. When I offered him my palm do draw on, he refused. When he did accidentally marked on my arm, he softly worked for a good while at rubbing it off so that I stayed clean. If another kid tried to take my sunglasses, which they love to do, he would start speaking fast Creole to them until he had my glasses safely back on my face. He helps me out.  If only he had a dollar for every time I kiss his cheeks and tell him I love him. :) 

Again, I had the company of some older school girls. Most of them don't live at the orphanage, and they come only for school. They're not used to hanging out with us "blans (white people)", so they seemed pretty intrigued. One of the little girls said her Papa was Espanol, so she could speak Creole, some Spanish, and very little English. She's 11 years old, and that was enough to impress me. She was the cut up of the group and had all the other little girls laughing so hard. While trying to carry on conversations with what little Spanish and Creole I know, I could still feel little hands just rubbing all over my arms. I felt little fingers lock into mine. I felt little fingers pointing out every little freckle on my arms and hands. I felt my hair being played with. This stuff never gets old. 

When it was time for their classes to start again, we loaded back up and came back to the compound. If we stay they watch us rather than their teachers, so we clear away all distractions. We ate our normal Pb&J sandwiches and laid down to rest for a minute. With as tired as I feel when I'm here, all I think about while at the compound is their faces and how I can't wait to get back to them. 

When we got back to the orphanage, Drew took some more pictures, Emily and I got our hair braided again, and mom and dad were walking around with a trail of babies. It was time to line up for dinner (we thought they ate earlier, but it looks like this was either their late lunch or early dinner), and I noticed Egloose couldn't get his pants buttoned. He was working so hard.  It was because there was no button, just a small hook and no where to latch it. Because these are the shorts he has had on every day since I've been here, I thought it would be ok to get a new pair on him anyway.  I walked him to the back, did my best to explain to the ladies what I wanted, and they took him away. He came back in some different clothes....and shorts with elastic, so I know he was more comfortable. He missed his lunch line, so I got him a bowl of rice and sardines and he was all set. After the kids ate, I went to the water room to fill their bowls and cups, which they all just share from. They get a couple of sips and are pushed away to go play by other kids wanting their turn with the water. 

One little boy (I forget his name) was walking around just whining and crying because he was so hot and sleepy. As soon as I picked him up and sat down, his crying stopped and his eyes closed. He just needed a little snuggle time. He never let me put him down, so I continued to rock back and forth and hum Jesus Loves Me in his ear. The only moment Egloose left my side was to go play with his buddies. They were having the best time kicking a rock around. Puts into perspective just how good we have it. He kept looking at me to make sure I was watching. I can spot his smile from miles away. My sweet girls gathered around to talk and admire. Again, they told me I was "belle" or beautiful. At one moment one of the girls said something and the rest quickly grabbed my hands in amazement that I had fingernail polish on. Next thing I know, the polish was quickly being chipped off. Bellteen said, "Katie, you voyage diem (tomorrow). I cry." When Katie voyages tomorrow, Katie will cry too. Not ready to tell them bye.

We came back to the compound for a quick break, dinner, and to make arrangements to take them ice cream later. Like I said Tuesday, they love treats. We ended up going to two different gas stations and loaded up on 140+ ice creams. When we got to the orphanage, the sun was fading, and the kids were all under the tent. It was time to have church. They were singing and clapping and obviously having a good time. There were a group of boys at the front banging on drums and making music, and then there were some kids laid out sleeping on the benches in the back.  I do love to hear all of their voices singing in their pretty language. I jumped in and began clapping and dancing right along with them. Then I spotted Egloose. He was sitting on the bench not singing or clapping, but crying. My heart broke immediately. I snatched him up so fast and stood at the back with him as he clung on to me so tight. I'm still not sure what caused him to be so upset, but I just held him. I got him some water, and then I held him some more-rubbing his back, swaying back and forth with him, singing in his ear, and reminding him that I love him. As I held him, I couldn't help but think about when I was sad or upset as a little girl, that's what my momma did for me. That's what these kids so desparetely need and deserve. I want it for every single one of them.

We sat down again with Robinson sitting next to us. He was last to finish his ice cream. It both blessed me and made me sad to watch him share with Egloose and the boys around him. He placed a blob into Egloose's hand, and Egloose proceeded to lick it right off of his dirty little hand. He put some on the lid for the other boys to get and savor as much as they could. My goodness how we take so many things for granted. They get so excited for things we get whenever we want. When we decided it was time to leave I assured Egloose that I would be back in the morning. Instead of the usual big smile and head nod...all I got was a frown and the saddest look in his eyes. I kissed and hugged him and walked away. Again, crying and missing them already.

When we got back to the compound I headed to the shower, but there was no water. When we got the water running, I hopped in only for the water to stop while I had conditioner all up in my hair. Roughin it for Haiti, remember? :) I lucked out and only had to stand there for a minute before the water came back on. I quickly took care of business and got out of there. Everything was smooth sailing for everyone else except for Emily. We lost Haiti power while she was showering, and she was left in the pitch black. Dad stood outside the shower room holding his flashlight from his phone over the door so she could finish up while Drew kicked on the generator. You're definitely brought out of your comfort zone here, but we make it work. 

Our plans for tomorrow are to get to the orphanage around 7:15 to make sure the grounds are picked up before they start school. It was so dark tonight and they were still having church, so we couldn't collect their ice cream trash. We'll go back again around 10:00 while they're on their break from school to spend our final time with them and tell them goodbye. I have a sick feeling in my stomach just thinking about it. Especially having to tell Teacon bye. We've spent so much time with him this week. I am so thankful for it, but I sure am going to miss him. Finding peace in that the Lord cares for them so much, and He has them right where He wants them. I know Teacon's in good hands. I know they're all in good hands. 

Going to sleep with Ephesians 1:5 on my heart. "In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will." Thankful that they are His. 

Haiti- Day 3

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Today looks a lot like yesterday did. Teacon woke up requesting to finish watching what he fell asleep to last night. He's so sweet and smiley in the mornings. Go figure. :)  We ate breakfast provided by our Haitian friends here at the compound. They had eggs, bananas, bread, and peanut butter waiting on us. It reminded me a lot of home. I eat a lot of that, so I was happy. I remembered that being my favorite breakfast last time I was here.

We timed it so that the kids would be on break from their schooling when we arrived this morning. As I sat with the kids, and as they kept looking up at me and smiling, I couldn't help but think about how cool it is that God calls me out here to love on them. All they want is a hand to hold, a chest to lay their heads on, an arm to lean on, and someone to just say, "I love you!" They are perfectly content doing nothing at all but being close. I pray that they will grow happy and healthy and loved. While we have Teacon with us, I watch how happy he is. How loved he is. How much fun he is having. Every kid deserves that. They are perfect little creations by God. I see it when I look at them. He makes such beautiful things. I  have a hard time putting into words how much I love these kids. I'm so thankful to know them. 

Their teachers came back, so we let them start class again. We gathered all of our women workers at the orphanage together to talk. Our translator, Lukie, translated as Fred thanked them for their hard work, and then mom talked to them from the standpoint of a mother. She explained to the ladies our desire for the kids to be taken care of the way they would tend to their own babies. I'm blessed by my momma. :) As they finished up school for the day and ate their lunches, we came back to the compound to eat, cool off, and rest. It's amazing how much the heat plus so many little kids crawling on you drains your energy level and makes you hungry.  It's all so worth it though. It's also amazing how much our little Teacon buddy  can put in that belly of his. He is one good eater. After lunch we laid down for a little bit, Teacon watched a movie and played, and then we were ready to head back to the orphanage. 

When we got back, the kids gathered around quickly. I snatched up one little guy who wrapped both arms around my neck and laid his head on my chest. He fell asleep fast, so I soon laid him down on one of the wooden benches to nap.  Egloose was on my left and sweet Julieka girl was on my right...their arms interlocked in mine.  There were about 7 or 8 older girls gathered around asking question after question. They just stare, smile, play with my hair, rub my arms and legs, and talk. It's like when you're at the nail salon and you know the workers are talking about you, but you just have no idea what they're saying. I finally got Lukie to translate for me. They told me that I was pretty...not the first time I heard "belle(beautiful)" in their pretty Haitian accents. So sweet. Then they were asking where I was from, how old I was, if I was married, and what that thing was on the back of my bottom teeth. I told Lukie to tell them that thing was called a retainer, and it's there to keep my teeth from moving. :) I've also been asked a few times this trip if I speak Espanol...not sure what that's all about! They just want to know everything they can know about us.

Emily and I got our hair did by the older girls who can braid like non other. We played some music and sang and danced to Justin Bieber and Rhianna. We  enjoyed lots more hugs, giggles, and sweat. It's just fun being in their presence. Time flies at the orphanage, and it was quickly time to go back to the compound to eat, shower, and call it a night. For dinner we had fried chicken, rice, and french fries. It was so very good. Knowing what the room looks like where these ladies cook, it astonishes me how they produce so much good food for us. They serve us well...and all we can say is, "Mersi" (thank you).

After dinner, Teacon got a good bath and some clean clothes put on him.  He's also got on his spidey undies, which he is so proud of. It's dark, but we have pulled chairs out on the porch and are just hanging a family. Teacon's been on Drew's lap with his head lamp on watching bits and pieces of just about every movie on Drew's computer and playing with his machines (toy cars). We wish we knew what he was saying because he is talking and giggling away. Music to our ears. I picture many more nights like this. The family sitting in the back yard, talking, watching, and laughing at just how funny Teacon is. He has so much personality. 

It's now time for my shower and more application of bug repellant. The mosquitos love me here. Tomorrow is our last full day in the country, and so I'm going to pray it goes by slowly. Thankful for more blessings and an overflowing heart tonight. God, You are so good.