August 6, 2017 — the day that marks only 10 days left in this beautiful country. That seems absolutely unbelievable to me. I mentioned in the beginning of the summer that I would write about people I was surrounded by this summer. Although it was difficult to narrow it down to only a couple people, I couldn't think of anyone better to write about than my friends Vena and George.
~ Vena ~
I will never forget the first day I met my dear friend Vena. The interns were introduced to her during our first training week here and obviously everyone was dying to become her friend. At a loss for words, the first thing I had said to Vena were, "Hi, my name is Katrina and I don't know how else to say this, but I think we should be best friends this summer. I really need someone like you in my life as I am far away from my friends and family for a long time and this isn't going to be easy." She responded, "Hey, my best friend's name already is 'Katrina' so it looks like we were already meant to be best friends." Perfect.
Vena has been working at Mission of Hope since May and her main position on campus is the Assistant Hospitality Coordinator. This essentially means that she assists with the function of all things hospitality on campus and always makes sure our guests' needs are met. This also includes playing a huge role in the kitchen staff, as she is constantly making sure that there is enough food being made for all the team members, or different food being made if there are vegetarians or gluten allergies, etc. Also, did I mention she is on our phenomenal Haitian worship team? Yeah, she does it all! And with a thankful heart that is always giving God the glory with all the gifts He has given her.
No matter how smooth or terrible my day was going, I always knew Vena was there to just simply give me a big hug and kiss on my cheek without any other words. As the summer continued on and the days were getting longer, she was full of empathy and was able to understand exactly how I was feeling just by looking at me. Vena has played multiple roles for me during this season of life including: a dear friend, a loving mother, and a protective and understanding older sister. I would have never imagined anyone could wear all of these hats this summer for a short 10 weeks, but Vena did instinctively. My friendship with Vena is an example of how God goes before us. My Wisconsin neighbors, the Leffins, had helped her through school, which allowed her to be in this role and help me and other interns through the summer. It is amazing how God is working when we have no idea.
Yesterday I had the honor of attending Vena's wedding. It was absolutely lovely. And needless to say, she was the most breathtaking bride I've ever seen. Lord, thank you for blessing me with this sweet, sweet woman.
~ George ~
This summer I was blessed with 10 incredible VBS translators. While they are all wonderful in their own distinctive ways, I would like to introduce you to my friend George. This is George's fourth summer working as a VBS translator at MOH. I grew really close with George during our first week of VBS July 3-6, as VBS was hosted for the first time at a location called "Cina" in one of our partnering villages Source Matelas. Cina was practically a giant field with three trees to provide shade and a basketball court. This was the first time VBS has ever been hosted at Cina. Normally, main campus VBS is hosted in the church and surrounding classrooms. However, during the week of July 3-6, there were students scheduled to participate in national test-taking, and therefore the classrooms were unable to be used for VBS activities.
Somehow my translators and I were able make it through a week of VBS with over 500 children and no kitchen. The absence of a kitchen made the week especially difficult as we didn't have our lovely kitchen ladies to cook the children their rice meals like they usually can. So, every day three giant pots of rice were miraculously driven over to Cina every morning and God would do the impossible and show us His miracle of feeding the 500. You could say all of this left me incredibly stressed as a first-time VBS intern, but George always knew how to step in and calm my nerves and completely handle whatever new difficulty was thrown our way that day. George's strong yet peaceful disposition made the week millions of times smoother than it would have been without him there.
A couple days ago, George told me he wasn't going to be around for our last week of VBS because he will be WALKING for FOUR hours with his church to a surrounding island in Haiti that is in desperate need of Jesus. George is the perfect example of having faith in desperate circumstances and constantly putting his own needs aside as the Lord will always provide. Sometimes Americans think we have all the answers and resources, but here's a Haitian becoming a missionary to his own people. Thankful to MOH and their commitment to training up Haitian leaders to make a difference in their own country.
Last Thursday George asked me on his last day of VBS how I was doing. I "cheerfully" responded, "I'm doing great George, thanks for asking!" To which he responded back, "No you're not, you're not you." I was originally convicted that I wasn't being as honest with where my heart was really at, but also loved the fact that Haitians care so deeply to really know my heart. I explained to George that my mind, body and soul are really aching to be return to my family and my own culture but that I cannot imagine life without them by my side. He reminded me how God puts us through specific seasons for a reason and to be joyful that God is calling me back home after this internship. He also reassured me that this wasn't going to be the last time we see one another.
Although I am excited to be back in Wisconsin, I can't even begin to process what life is going to look like without these gracious brothers and sisters by my side.