When I lived in Illinois, I always had a mild case of “seasonal depression”. Every year, from January through mid March, the freezing temperatures and lack of vitamin D left me with a perpetual desire for hibernation. I was always tired, didn’t want to go out and do things (a big shift from my normal extroverted self), and basically just wanted to sit on my couch under a blanket and eat pizza all day. Every day when my alarm went off, in the pitch-black morning, the first thing I would do was count the hours before I could go back to bed. I even had one of those clocks that mimicked the rising of the sun. I was grumpy, cold, and sleepy all the time. Yet every spring, when my beloved sunshine started sticking around longer and it finally got warm enough to be outside, my moodiness would fade and I would become my usual, social, energetic self again.
Now that we live in the Caribbean, with more hours of daylight and a consistent temperature of 80 degrees, I didn’t think seasonal depression would be an issue this year. Yet the first five weeks after Christmas were by far the roughest part of this year for me. I joked to Bryson once that even though it isn’t cold and dark here, my body still knows it’s wintertime and thus it needs to be sad. I’ve been tired, lonely, and doubting our decision to give up our life to come here, wondering if we’re really making an impact on the people here, or if we could have been doing more for God somewhere else. I’ve always been a planner, and for the first time in my life I don’t have a long-term plan for my future, and that scares me so much I often feel physically ill.
It’s a different kind of seasonal depression, I suppose – we all encounter seasons in our lives where we question our decisions or doubt our faith. And I’m well aware of the enemy who is constantly trying to trip me up. It seems like sometimes people think it’s easier to work in ministry; that supposedly being surrounded by so much Jesus makes it harder for Satan to break in, that because you’re working with a bunch of Christians there won’t be dishonesty or hurt feelings. But I think the ministries with the greatest potential to be active for God are the ones that Satan tries the hardest to knock down.
Many years ago, when my dad was a campus minister, the college group at my church would put on a youth rally every year. The earliest theme I remember was “Don’t Let Satan Win.” Everyday, when I pull myself out of bed and get ready for school, I remind myself of this. While I may not have control over everything in my current situation, I do have control over my attitude. Even though sometimes it is extremely hard, I’m trying my best to choose joy over sadness, faith over fear, and love over hate. So instead of listing all of the struggles and reasons why I’ve been so down the last few weeks, I will tell you of the joys and the reasons I’ve found to smile.
I LOVE my students. I love teaching them, I’m excited to see them everyday, and I can say I genuinely enjoy my time in the classroom. We celebrated Valentine’s Day last week (my all time favorite school holiday!) and I was showered with love, homemade cards and notes, and even candy from my precious students. I’m already sad that I only have three more months with this class!
This week we didn’t have school – we had a week off for Mardi Gras – and so Bryson and I painted our apartment! I’ve always liked my spaces to be an explosion of color, and thankfully Bryson has accepted living in a sea of purples, greens, and yellows. Seriously guys, my husband is AMAZING! I finally feel like this apartment is our home – complete with a purple door!
Last weekend we traveled with some friends to St. Louis, a town about an hour away. We traveled by tap tap – basically just a truck with some boards on it. You wave them down if you see one with open space, cram on with everyone else, and then tap the side of the truck when you want off. We ate a local bakery and went to an open air market, where people were selling food, clothes, shoes, and everything you could imagine! I even found super cheap purple high top converse!
Yesterday, a couple of other missionaries and I went to a newly renovated pool in town. Despite what it looks like on Instagram, we really don’t get to do this very often, so it was a special treat to relax and actually enjoy the sunshine!
Bryson didn’t come with us to the pool, but instead was invited to go hiking with the 9th grade class. He’s at a point where he’s making really good connections with his students and is excited about getting to invest in them long term – since he’s the only math teacher, he will teach each class multiple years. He got to experience some incredible views – he’ll update more on that excursion soon!
And probably the greatest joy of all – my parents are coming to visit next weekend! Please pray for them as they prepare for their trip, as the travel to Port-de-Paix is not easy!
Thank you so much for your continued love and support!