Drinking Coffee, Where I am.

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A month ago, I lived as if in a dream. Cool breezes kissed my face and rolling green-blue hills blanketed with swirls of clouds confined me to the apex of the mountain. I sipped my coffee while looking out at the plantation it originated from. It took me a few days before my reality was clear to me:

I’m drinking coffee in a rain forest…

I was fulfilling my dreams that all the hipster coffee and backpacking photos on tumblr have kindled. I felt infinite to say the least. There with me were a group of high schoolers from Texas and a German. Sounds like the start to a meaningless joke about humanity, but it’s not, it’s the start to an adventurous week filled with camping, rain, and coffee.

After my month in Haiti, I jumped onto Caribe Tours and embraced my journey back to my little mountain town of Jarabacoa. Traveling themes for this year followed their normal path; therefore, only days after I as back, I was packing my backpack once again. Ironically though, this time for the original purpose of a backpack: backpacking…in the woods. It was amazing to see all that could happen in a week; hiking in thunderstorms, cooking without abundance, picking coffee, and enduring sickness in the woods. It was a week of wonder.

Unfortunately, it ended. But the smell of coffee did not. It followed me back to Doulos where I sat at the cafe every morning, drank my morning cup of joe and drew my heart’s desires. Then as that ended I packed my backpack for the last time along with a few extra pounds of the beans and jumped on a plane.  The smell literally followed me from the plan to where I work at a coffee shop as well as with Story Tellers Coffee. The sweet aroma always seems to be surrounding me.

It’s interesting how when I think about my childhood, coffee is something I think of. Lately it’s been a theme to my life, from the coffee shops of my childhood, to the DR, and now with Story Tellers and working at a coffee shop, it just seems to always be around. It’s a lovely drink that has so much impact on the world…it is the number 2 commodity in the world after oil you know… the fuel of our bodies. A month ago I learned as much as I could about it  while living in it’s pleasant aroma and now, reality is blissfully starting to settle in again:

I’m drinking coffee in the mountains of Colorado…

I’d say by the sounds of that, I’m still living in a dream.

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I would like to say, “Happy Anniversary.”

Happy anniversary to those who a year ago  were wed to the real world. Today marks the day that my friends and I walked down a path that led to our dreams. The dream was different for each of us, to some the path took them leaving their imprisoning town and constitutional environments, to others it was entering into subjects they actually enjoyed. Then there were some of us who saw the path as a way to grow up and have the respect that came a long with it. The ultimate dream from all of us was to say we achieved the concept known as high school. So we took our steps down the aisle to our dreams. Along with parchment we were told to take our dreams and live them.

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It took me 48 hours before I started living my dream and jumped on a plane. (In all reality, I guess you could say I started living it 10 months earlier as I stepped onto the plane to Germany.) After graduating and many tears from my partings of people whom I truly love, one of those people and I set off to view the world and feed our wanderlust minds. A year later, my wanderlust has not yet left me. It’s crazy to think that it’s been an entire year. It literally seems like yesterday that I was trying to jump the fence to the Kandern pool or walking with those I loved throughout the Black Forest. But I guess it really has been a year eh?

Well, happy anniversary to those of you who have experienced this year and have been living your dreams. Don’t forget to continue on with the same excitement you walked down that aisle with. I would put some wisdom here about the real world and about being married to it, but what do I know.

Goats. What an Idea…

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I mean look at this guy; it’s a picture of beauty.

This post might not be as deep as my last one, but we’ll see what I can muster up.

Here’s a little secret about goats; they’re amazing. Not only are they extremely amazing, but they’re cute. If there were one farm animal that I would bring and have at my house in America, it’d be a goat. (well, and about 10 chickens.)

Here’s my reasoning why I am quickly falling in love with them. They are so beneficial and easy to take care of. Did you know that from a goat you can get milk, cheese, meat, and a lawn mower? It’s true! All you need to do to take care of them is green grass and water. So just let them roam free and benefit from what they produce.

There are more reasons why I think that they are just so darn neat. One of them is that here at Second Mile, when a mom is finish with the education program and her baby is in a healthy enough stage to leave, we give them a goat. Then they can take this goat, get milk, baby goats, cheese, and meat! It’s a way that after leaving, they have an amazing way to have business opportunities. They can sell the milk, the babies, the cheese, the meat, all of it and make a profit from it. Isn’t that just an amazing idea? I think it’s a grand idea. It’s a way to share and help that wont end…it’s something that can continue past one person’s giving.

Everyday that we are out at the land, where the moms stay, I receive such joy from seeing the goats. Yesterday two of them were playing together and I must say, it was cuter than dogs playing. Not sure if many people think dogs playing is cute, that just might be me. So my reference might be a bit off. But anyways, I think its neat to be able to give someone something that they can actually use.

If you have fallen in love too, then you better listen up. You can be apart of this small business opportunity and help give goats to moms. It’s something that will help and something that will always be needed. Here’s how you can help:

go to: http://secondmilehaiti.com and click the donate button. After that, it’s self explanatory all the way to the comment box. Once you’re there say that it’s for a goat and you’re golden- You’ve then started the process to give another mom a precious animal.

Love so Divine

Recently, I’ve been re-reading one of my favorite books. I read it when I was younger and I loved it; it helped me mature in my faith before I learned that stars were just burning balls of gas in the sky. I remember feeling so inspired to be a Christian. Someone who gets to love everyone, the way Jesus did. The part I remember the most from reading it the first time is when the author mentioned that he felt it was easier to tell his friends about Christ when he was drinking or high. At first I thought he was a sinner for saying that, but throughout the rest of the book I realized that Christianity just really is about love. It was a good book to read at the age I was; changed how I lived my Christianity. (I’m not saying I went off getting high and drunk because of the book. I’m just saying it taught me not to judge people so much, but rather, get to know them.)

Today I read something that really challenged the way I act here in Haiti. To be honest, sometimes it’s really hard to be here.

It’s not because I’m in a new country. I’ve had to get used to being an expat. The past six years I’ve been going to countries where being blonde haired with blue eyes makes me stick out like a fish out of water. Not like a fish at the market out of the water  but one that’s in the middle of the ocean out of the water, that would be strange to see… Sometimes I feel like I’m the main attraction at a circus. Germany was easier; until I tried to speak, then it was back to being “the American.” Sometimes it’s really easy, like in the Dominican. When people ask me what it’s like to walk down the streets, if I feel safe, I always reply with this, “Yes, I feel safe. I just have to tone out what they are saying.” The next question is always, the one you just asked, “What do they say?” I simply reply with, “what any latin culture would say to a blonde haired, blue eyed girl; they get my name wrong and try calling me Linda.” (Linda means beautiful in Spanish.)

Here though, I don’t know the language, and I can’t visually blend in. The people I do blend in with, it isn’t always a good message to Haitians. (You can ask me what that initials later.) That makes it hard. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m being given undeserved praise for being different or being racially discriminated. (Don’t get me wrong, I love it here…just had to point this out) I’ve  had to learn that sometimes, it’s best to not know what people are saying as we drive down the street. That’s weird to me. Intentional naïvety: I don’t like it. It’s not the way it should be, especially when it makes me feel like it’s stopping me from getting to know the people and I know that getting to know people is when you see their beauty. This is what has challenged me today. In my book, the author mentioned something that has helped me love being here. But has challenged my judgmental attitude that comes with only being able to pick up on body language and sounds. In all reality, it’s hit my judgmental attitude that attacks everyone, not just Haitians. The author actually gets his words from a quote by Mother Teresa. Some one asked her how she was able to love so many people; her reply was lovely, one of beauty. Honestly it makes me wish I could meet her, because it’s as salty to the world as is  the ocean’s waters or the depths of a salt shaker. (Matthew 5. 13-16 reference) She replied to her questioner that she loved people because they are Jesus. Read that again, slower if it wasn’t impacting. I literally put the book down and said wow. I knew that I wanted to act towards people as if were Jesus, sharing love to them the way He would have, but to act in a way as if they were Jesus. That changes everything.

Could you imagine?

I am bewildered  at the thought to be  able to talk to Jesus every day in such a way. That’s just neat. Could you imagine not just passing someone by on the street ignoring them, but rather, looking at them and treating them better than yourself? That when someone walks in your home, you host and love them as if they just died for you and literally saved your life for eternity? It just makes me smile. What a new meaning for hosting mission teams for when I go back to the Dominican Republic. So many people deserve so much more respect for being who they are then I give them. I’m not going to  lie, I’m pretty good at internally judging people. But if I acted towards everyone as if I already knew and loved them, well, that’s how it’s suppose to be right? That’s what being a Christian is all about; love. The love that a father gave, the love that laid down His life for people who weren’t even alive yet but will wrong Him, and that love lives in us. It makes sense. If I say I have that love in me and so does a brother or sister in Christ, then why wouldn’t I treat them as though they were Jesus? Now that’s real beauty.

When I think about the Haitians on the street; Jesus knows them, He can speak to them, and He loves them. Not only that, they are truly beautiful people. Why wouldn’t I love them as if they were Jesus? Why wouldn’t I love anyone as if they were Jesus?

Dreaming a Deeper Dream

At first I was impressed by their age. Now, I’m amazed by them.

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Jenn and Amy, two daughters of Christ that let that title shine. I can’t help but to just be memorized by them and be thankful that I get to spend an internship watching and learning  from them. The way I’ve see them live about their dream inspires me to go achieve mine. Well, to create dreams that seem impossible for me to achieve without God directing my every move; because quite frankly, if God is directing my dreams and steps in-between, nothing is impossible. God’s pretty neat like that…

The thing I love is the way they think. They just know how to do things. The way they have set up their ministry can only have room for God to work best for the Haitian people, and not just for the expats coming in. It’s to encourage and allow the Haitians to grow on their own in the best possible ways. They really have gone beyond being a “clinic for moms.” (That’s what I find difficult. How am I suppose to describe to people where I am, what is being done here, or just how amazing it is without taking up their entire day? There are just so many amazing things going on right now that I can’t just “sum it up.”) They want to have a clinic for moms and their babies in order to educate the mothers how to care for their child while sick but also to allow them to be together during the experience. Just this idea by itself is amazing- at least I think so. BUT then, they want to give them business opportunities. (This is when it gets amazing…) Some of the ways this is done is through making beads, selling eggs, selling goat and cow milk, sewing… the list goes on. Today, I realized just how amazing it all is mainly because I was telling someone how they want to be self sustainable.

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Their sustainable farm!

Who does that? By next year, they will be able to feed everyone on the land including some to take to sell- both meat and vegetables and have solar power. This just puzzles me…one day someone will write a book on them. It will read that they opened a clinic while in their early 20’s but that they did it with such detail that it went “the second mile” with all the opportunities besides the medical need. I would also like to point out the fact that Jenn has said that when the clinic is all up and running her dream would be to start a school. How great is that.

The world needs more people like them. People who realize that somethings just need to go beyond what the norm is. They’re pretty neat if you haven’t noticed so far. They’re good people to learn from…

I’m tempted to continue raving about them, but I might not be able to stop. God really does shine through them. It’s beautiful being able to see Christ’s heart shown every morning. I wish more people could watch them smile; they’d meet Christ through the sight…

“Remember the ladies with baskets on their heads?”

I like to tell some people that my life story began in Haiti. This comment may sound a bit weird if you know parts of my story or you might be really impressed by what I am about to say, or you could be my family, in which case; you’re laughing because you know the whole story:

It was back in the 80’s when my family had moved to Haiti for mission reasons. For six years there were picklis with rice and beans to be eaten and adventures to live. And boy were there some adventures to be told about later on. My favorite, the ladies who seemed to always have baskets on their heads. The catch: I was born in the 90’s. Yes, that’s correct, I wasn’t in Haiti. None the less, I thought I was and thus began a vivid imagination. I used to mention to my family random comments about the tap taps and those ladies with baskets on their heads. Only to be responded by my family with, “Anna, you weren’t born yet! You weren’t there…” Well… what do they know.

In reality, it effected me. It changed the way my family acted and the lifestyle we lived. Because of the experience they experienced it has fueled my desire to travel and it gave me an awareness of the world from an early age. But  most importantly, it has bought me here, the island of Haiti itself. I’m originally here to learn spanish in the Dominican Republic but by God’s will I’m able to write this post in the place where ladies wear baskets on their head.

For the past few months I have been in the Dominican Republic hosting mission teams at a school called Doulos Discovery School. I’ve been trying to fulfill my goal of learning spanish so that when I obtain my nursing degree, I will be able to put on my resumé that I speak another language. So far, I think I’m on track. It’s been an amazing few months filled with meeting amazing people, jumping into waterfalls and oceans with clothes on, bug bites, rice, and pure adventure.  About a month ago I was given the opportunity to go to Haiti for the weekend to visit two wonderful ladies that are in their 20’s. One was a nurse and the other was in charge of construction and  their dream; to provide for the physical needs of sick and malnourished children while empowering their mothers through health education and small business opportunities. We went and learned all about their mission and saw their property. Then we went back to the Dominican Republic. After a few weeks of being able to be their “translator” on the DR side of the island, they said I should come back to Haiti.

Long story short I took a took a short leave from my Dominican internship and am now in an internship in Haiti with Second Mile Haiti (internship squared I like to call it.) I think it’s really neat that I am here. This is where my family was, back where every thing started to fuel my desire to “Go!” This is where I say my life started and this is where I start my blog. I mean, why not, I needed a corny way to start it. My other option was to talk about coffee and say “the ‘bean’gining.” That will probably still be used later on- despite the cheesiness of it.
So here I am, in Haiti.