Sunday, January 25, 2015

Favorite Day of the Week

When we first moved to Indiana, My Dear had Fridays off of work.   It quickly became my favorite day of the week.   He was home or at least with us!   My love language is acts of service and his being home meant extra hands with the babies or a task accomplished at home.   It was all good and he even got to sleep in on those days!

It is a 6 day work week here on the mission and the 7th day is "on call."   It is, what it is!   Much like a nurse, doctor. pastor, police officer, fireman..... if something happens, they have to be there!   For My Dear it could be issues with our water supply or transportation to and from the airport.   If someone passes away there will be a knock on the door for a coffin and he will need to take care of that.  Any range of things really!

Sunday is a day that much of the mission is shut down with the exception of the playground and zoo which is managed by a guard.  This allows for some rest for My Dear.   That in itself could be why Sunday would be welcomed each week!  But it's not!  Sunday is our favorite day of the week because of these people.....



We love spending Sunday morning with these people....some are absent from this photo that was taken a few weeks ago.   The church at Fermathe has an English speaking Sunday School class.  They have needed a teacher for awhile with another man filling in.   They asked a missionary staff person if they knew of anyone who would be interested in teaching and well.....here we are!   My Dear LOVES this!!!!  I have never been with a more eager group of students!   They want to learn English so that they can read and study their Bibles.   (The Creole Bible is not a direct translation but is paraphrased.)They are hungry for The Word.   They fulfill the place of  my small group Bible study in the states.   We are working toward sharing life together as Mark has 2 of these men going along with him when he knows language will be an issue and needs a translator to help him communicate or to help him understand.   He loves these men and his time with him.   Another of the man in our class is being mentored by another missionary staff member once a week.  

There are 2 ladies that have been consistent to class.  One a mom and a teacher...just like me!   She borrowed my Handbook for Reading book that I used to teach the children to read and photo copied every page to continue to work on her English skills.   The other lady is a young woman in her early 20s perhaps.   She makes me smile.   I have laughed and grown much in my relationship with young women.   In fact, when we moved, I missed those young women!   They were perks to My Dear being in youth ministry!   *Shout out to the small groups of ladies that I love....interrupted movements, scented candles, Fazoli's bread, and "that may or not have been me" kinda love!

The class members are inviting people to come with them.   We are reading through Genesis and reading Francis Chan's book Multipy together at home and discussing it in class.   These people spur me on!!!  

This is our class.   We had a team of Hoosiers working on the mission this week so they joined us.



Literally, every chair in the building was in use.   I took a seat on the floor and sent the girls and their friend into another room to create more room.  Mark sat on an upside down trash can!  

We look forward to what God is going to do in us and through us (all of us!) as we continue to meet together on our favorite day of the week!

I am eager for my home church folks to meet these people.....very soon!

Friday, January 2, 2015

One Word

A few years ago, I was challenged to choose one word for the year.   I prayed about the word and asked the Lord to reveal it to me.   He gave me the word LESS.   In LESS,  I was to purge my life.   I assumed much of that was physical stuff that cluttered our home but as the year played out God showed me oh so much more that needed to be purged.   My heart was a mess.   I was holding onto stuff that needed to go.   My year of LESS actually was 2 years long!

After 2 years of LESS, God laid on my heart to LOVE.   As I think back, LESS was hard but to LOVE was just as hard.   I had healed quite a bit through the season of LESS and now God was going to teach me to LOVE.   It started with a young man that  needed a place to stay due to domestic violence.   It brought new challenges having a teenager in our home and setting boundaries to protect our younger children.  It was okay.   But then another teenage boy came into our home.   This one, although he did not know it, showed me all kinds of areas where I loved conditionally.  This young man rocked my world and my heart.  I could wring or hug his neck at any given minute and it could change within seconds.   I smile as I type this, thankful for what God showed me through this sweet/rooten kid.....you know wring or hug his neck!

Last year, I knew our lives would be turned upside down.   So I thought CHANGE, it will be a year of change.   Our family sold our beloved  home in the woods nestled close to wonderful friends.  We left the community we had grown to love.   Put our possessions out in the drive way with a for sale sign on it and drove from all that had been important to us for the past 10 years. 

Looking back now on our arrival in Haiti, it is a blur.  I was sick so often and the physical sickness brought out mental and emotional sorrow.   The children and I grieved and to comfort them, I just cried with them.   At that time, my precious sister in Christ sent me a token of the word GRATEFUL.   I hung it in the bathroom because I was spending sooo much time there!!!  I had to choose to be grateful in the change!   The reminder of GRATEFUL meant more to me because my friend had suffered a year of unexpected lost and God had given her the word GRATEFUL before her year began.   The reminder was not just a word but I watched her live GRATEFUL through a year that should have left her in a heap on the bathroom (or kitchen -CN) floor.



Now, 6 months later, it is time to choose a new word.  Looking back on 2014, I know I was just floating along, head above water, simply trying to survive.  I believe God showed me this, just this past week.   Nana and Pops came to visit so we went for a day to the beach location of the mission.    I had never snorkeled.   My Dear helped me to get all of the equipment on and to be comfortable.   I laid on the top of the water looking down at a whole new world!   Rich colors of life were covered by the sea.  To see such beauty, all I had to do was swim out into the water and be still to take it in.  I found myself swimming from one reef to the next and occasionally looking back to keep sight of the others.   There was so much there!!  I realized the past year I was too busy trying to survive, just keeping my head above water, to notice the reef!





So this year, I will SWIM!   I will no long just try to survive but I will put strokes in.   I will pursue more.   I will linger over the scriptures like I did the reef with a snorkel and goggles on so not to be limited by the time I can spend there.   I will dive into my language learning.   I will pursue relationships with others that speak a different language.  This year,  I will SWIM and allow God to show me the beauty of the reef that I have been floating above.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Let Her Go! Let Her Go! Can't Hold Her Back Anymore

The children have been studying England and Queen Victoria.   It was suggested that we have high tea.   That sounds great but in the scheme of things, pulling off a high tea would be a lot of work for me and something I would have to study and learn more about to actually do.   BUT, God put someone very special in our lives to pull this off with class and charm.

Queen Elsa, the original Elsa, sent an invite for a high tea to the ladies of our home.   Elsa is Austrian so her knowledge was far greater than mine on the topic and she has WAY more class than I do.

The girls dressed up fancy for their tea with Queen Elsa.   We were quite the parade walking across the mission with Dolly clanking along in my heeled shoes.   A driver even stopped to pick them up (walk beside them.)   James is his name..........yep, can't make this stuff up Queen Elsa and James the driver.  



Elsa greeted them at her "moat" and welcomed them dressed up in her fancy clothes too. 

She was in full character and instructed the girls in etiquette and history as she served them.  



The girls had a WONDERFUL time and indeed felt like royalty due to their royal treatment.   They left with hugs and curtsies and a favor of a royal trumpet to use for declaration (or decoration.)  




Elsa has served in Haiti for 30 years.  Her husband brought music education to Haiti.   He has since gone to be with the Lord but Elsa stayed in Haiti and continued to serve.   A couple of years ago, she resigned her position and stayed on to aid in the transition of someone else to her position in the child sponsorship office.   This week, she will board a plane and leave her home of 30 years.   She is a wealth of knowledge and entertaining stories.   She has driven all over this country and prayed herself through all kinds of situations.   I selfishly will miss her and the way she loves on our children.   I will miss out on all that I did not get to learn from her.   She has encouraged me in language learning and in parenting our children, reminding me that they are my first ministry. 


                     See the little birdie that catches the drips of the teapot....so clever!

                                Just cutting the edges of a napkin makes it extra fancy.



Lord, I thank you for Elsa, for the heart that You gave her to serve the people here.   I pray God, that you continue to put people in her path that she can minister to.   That folks in the states see the vast wealth of knowledge that she has in loving and serving others.   Help her to find her niche and remind her, when she is lonely that she is still serving you....just on another mission field.




Nou renmen ou Madam Pete....anpil! anpil! anpil!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Messy Motherhood, Messy Heart

Saturday is a work day on the mission making it a 6 day work week.   My Dear drove a team to the airport but stopped at the grocery store on the way home.   I work Saturdays on the mission as well completing projects.   Today was no different.  When I got home from working in the dirty depot sorting through linens, I was a bit overwhelmed by the condition of the house where 3 unattended children had made sandwiches, opened mail,  and did whatever kids do and left the evidence!  

I was a bit hungry but could not function in chaos....I hear it is a sign of a weak mind if a person has to clean up so they can work...if so my mind is WEAK y'all!   I also had exchanged only a few words with My Dear throughout the day, maybe even the past couple of days.

We needed to make some decisions but being able to talk without interruptions or input was becoming difficult.   We were talking in the kitchen and little people kept entering and interjecting or arguing or just being loud (I know, shocker in our family!)  I asked everyone to leave the kitchen in hopes that My Dear and I could talk.   Now, I also know that one little person is extra curious and wants to hear all of the details....I know, cause I was that kid when I was little.   Riding "the hump,"  middle spot, in the back seat of the station wagon. pushing my face up between my parents so I could get the scoop!   No one wanted the middle anyway so I learned to make lemonade so to speak.

Again, My Dear and I attempted our conversation but they just kept coming.   One was there to help sit the table for dinner without even being asked.   Guess which one!   Yep, the back seat, hump rider!   Plates were less than carefully plopped from the cabinet making yet another noise disruption in my attempt at any type of conversation with My Dear.  It was the straw that broke the camels back!   Instead of kicking everyone out of the kitchen again, I barked specific demands of where they should be.   "I was just trying to help," said one tearful voice.  Not that being sent to the shower is always a punishment, but the tone, most certainly would make it feel that way.

Yep, I blew it!  

My Dear tried to explain to the children that we had asked numerous times for space to talk while I prepared dinner.   Let's be honest, the damage is done.

Sin is like that, you know right afterwards  *BAM* but the damage is already done!

Since missionaries are on furlough for Christmas, Dolly's Doggie Daycare had a client to care for. She's gone international y'all!   I did not want her to go by herself in the dark so to make up for my "performance" I said I would go with her.   After she asked over and over and over again , "are you ready?"  We were off.   We played awhile with the critter and then headed back toward our home.  As we rounded a corner, we heard music playing and singing in English.  

I asked Dolly where she thought it was coming from. We went on a walk across the mission in hopes of  finding the source in 1 of 2 places.   Right here on our campus, a group of young Haitian men were preparing to lead worship with a team that arrived today.   They were in full praise and worship!   Dolly and I entered and they asked if they were being too loud.   My response, "NO WAY!!"  

We sat with the young men as they sang some of our favorite worship music in our native language.   Such a sweet time with this little girl by my side.  I accepted the Lord's forgiveness from my earlier "tantrum" and just basked in who He is and praised Him for just that.....for being Him!

What a sweet reminder tonight was of the good gifts that God gives and that His timing is PERFECT!   Looking forward to tomorrow night as we will join these young men for worship again.   I might just have to jump around as they do as I belt out how God's grace rescued me....it is indeed jump worthy!!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Prayer Request

I was surprised to see that it has been over a month since I posted.   You know what the means, our lives are becoming normal!   Things do not seem as "note worthy" as they did.   The smells and sounds are more normal.  I am no longer awaken by the 6 am service at church.   I no longer smell corn from open fires roasted or even smell cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven at the bakery at the top of the hill ( not sure if that is good or bad!)  The routine is more normal.  The children have a good idea of what their boundaries and limitations are on the mission.   Faces are becoming familiar too....which is all good!!!

About a month ago, we learned that there were items to be  picked up at the docks that had came over on a ship for the mission.   It was assumed, it was the vehicle we purchased.   WAIT, let me back track.

 Early October, My Dear made a quick trip to the states to purchase a vehicle that he found online.   Folks went to check it out for us and began negotiating with the seller on our behalf.  We purchased a little SUV because 4 wheel drive is a must here.   My Dear purchased the vehicle in TN and had to drive it to one location in FL to be shipped and then to another city in FL to catch his plane.   There were lots of paperwork and even an extra bump in the road we did not plan for.   My Dear, along with his sister, sister-in-law, niece, and mom did a massive shopping trip to bring back some supplies that we wanted.  My Dear was exhausted when he got home but he did get to eat at some of his favorite places.

SOOOOOOO.....

The mission got a call that a skid was ready for pick up.   YEAH!   It must be the flooring My Dear purchased to cover this naked, concrete floor (which is wonderful for spills but ugly and unfinished.)  Because it was our personal stuff we were encouraged to go along with the employees to get it so we loaded up "the reds" for a road trip.   Dolly stayed behind with our neighbor because the thought of the road trip brought her to tears.   She knew she would feel miserable with car sickness and the heat as we move down the mountain.

Smart girl that Dolly!   We started the trip off right with lunch and then headed down to "Port."  We followed the gentlemen from the mission.   They knew back roads which made for a bumpy ride but meant we were not waiting in traffic much either. 



We went to a location, to have to go to another location, and then waited.   A lady jumped into the vehicle with the men and we followed them to another location.   The lady was the manager of our case and took us to the items for pick up.   She did paper work and we waited in the vehicle.   Then we waited with the employees in the shade by the truck where the items would be loaded.   We peeked into warehouses of items being held and saw numerous motor bikes that are still waiting for their paperwork to clear or the folks did not do the necessary paperwork....waited and sweat.  




Finally, a pallet was brought out with 5 small boxes on it.   My Dear and I just stared at it!    My Dear said, "This is not ours."   They flipped through clipboards of paper and everyone stood with questionable expressions.   It did belong to the mission but it was not ours and no one here was expecting this either.  Sadly, we loaded up without our flooring and dog food.   We were frustrated because such a trip truly takes a full day.



BUT as we were leaving, I looked out the window and saw what I believed to be our vehicle!  I saw it, it is here.......but is it not HERE!   HERE, with us,  where we can use it.   Instead we continue to use the missions vehicles when they are available.



Miss B. is extra proud in this picture.   She asked if she could climb on top with Billy.   I told her only if she could do it all by herself (with dad standing below just in case.)

Our hope was that our items would be released before Christmas.    Will you join us in praying that our vehicle and our skid of flooring and dog food are released to us soon?   We do not want to feed the warehouse rats but hope that there is still dog food on the skid that is safe for our pup to eat.  We would like to have it before Christmas (and this time My Dear will go down without me and if Billy rides with his dad, he may be given grace on his school work for that day!)  Pray also that all of the contents that My Dear packed are accounted for.   School books for next year were in the car along with a couple of dry erase boards.

Pray also please about some paper work that we have misplaced and need (not associated to the above request.)

Thanks friends.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

We Have Arrived....After Arriving Five Months Ago

After 5 months......I think we are settled!

We are no longer in survival mode with weekly tears of missing our church, our house, our neighborhood, our friends, our familiar.....well.... for the most part.   

We pull a chair up to the sink for Miss B. to fulfill her dish-duty-day.   The water and soap were ready but Miss B. was sitting in the chair with big tears.   I talked with her about why she was crying.   She said, "I want to go home."   As I hugged her, I asked why and she said through her tears, "I want a dishwasher."   I giggled through my hug and realized......We have come a long way!  

We have missed "home" but God is certainly remaking home for us.   I am thankful for the precious memories and the joy the kids have when they think of the brick home on the dead end street that we lived in...really, it was PERFECT for us just like it is perfect for the sweet family that is there now.

I knew the girls were a bit more settled when Miss B. wrote her BFF Eliza a note and said, "It is a lot, a lot, a lot better."   (commas added.)  AND Dolly was able to Facetime with Isa (who now lives in the "home" of the kiddos memories).   She gave Dolly a tour of the house.   Dolly was actually very interested and pleased to have a tour!!  Before she had trouble thinking about someone else calling "her house," home. 

Billy keeps contact with some of his friends with Skype and Facetime.   He still has moments but for the most part...I think we are finally all here! 

My Dear is filling in a new position for a couple that went on furlow.   Amazingly, they went in for check-ups with their health care providers when they got to the states and learned that "Miser Wojer" needed open heart surgery!   We are praising God for the way he took care of our friends.   My Dear will serve in this position until Roger, "Miser Wojer" as it is spoken in Creole, is able to return to work.  Which means he is BUSY!   AND it is a good busy!   He is enjoying what he is doing, getting to know many Haitian men and working on communicating in Creole with them.   He is learning more about the mission and the culture of the Haitians. 

Part of the adventures of My Dear's "filling in position" is the zoo.   A crocodile arrived and My Dear asked for a man to go to market and get some chicken.   He came back with 4 live chickens.   My Dear giggled a bit as he slowly put words together to explain he wanted DEAD chickens.   There was laughter and then the meeting of the minds as the employees and My Dear put a plan together to feed the croc....the croc that wouldn't eat a dead bird.   Nor would he eat a live bird but enjoyed sharing his cage with him I guess.   My Dear tied the bird to a pole and waved it in front of the croc but it only nibbled.   Sadly. 2 dead birds and a dead croc who did not adapt to it's new home.  

One Sunday afternoon, a visitor on the mission sent Dolly home to let My Dear know that the croc was not in the cage...for real!   It had scooted out into a swampy area much more appropriate for a croc.   A sweet Haitian man Johnny was on the scene and helped My Dear make sure it was secure in that area but a crowd certainly had gathered.



Speaking of culture!   This happened this past week.   Our B. lost her first tooth!





Our sweet Haitian friend was visiting with us so I shared with him what children in the United States do when they lose a tooth.   He then began to giggle and said, "You are not going to believe what Haitian children do."   The children take their tooth and through it over the roof and call for the rats (after living here, I understand why it is rats!)   The rats are supposed to collect the teeth and bring the children back new ones.   I asked Miss B. if she wanted to do that and well, you can imagine the crinkle in her nose when she said, "No."  Her tooth is laying on my desk in a little bag cause like her brother and sister did, she wants to keep it.

With My Dear filling in, the girls and I have been helping sort through the produce when it comes in from market and deliver it to those who have ordered it.   We are learning food words in Creole.   We are a bit pampered, but here is how it works.   The mission employees go to the market for us.   Haitians can get a fairer price in negotiations.   This allows us to stay on the mission to carry out our responsibilities here.   Dolly enjoys fresh fruit so she is helpful in making our "wish list" for the market.   Sometimes you get all of your stuff and sometimes you get some of it.   It depends on what is available.   Dolly had to look up a few words to make sure she was picking the produce that she wanted.  Unfortunately, there are no apples, grapes or strawberries but there are pineapples!   We can sometimes get bananas off the trees in the mission but they are different than the bananas we are used to.  Mangoes and avocadoes are usually present as well.  I must say I appreciate the fresh produce that is available to us long after the gardens in the states are finished producing. Tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, and carrots are our favorite.

I met Linda at a Bible Study and she offered to give us a ride to a pool party last week.   The kids had a nice time and had not been in a pool all summer, so they were excited.  They met more children there and got to know some a bit better.   It was good!  Children who live in a culture that is not either of their parent's culture are called Third Culture Kids.   This was a fun day with other TCK as our faith and our residence already have us connected.  We joined Linda and her family again this weekend for a birthday celebration.   We lost track of time in our visit and Miss B. said being at their house was like a vacation!



Last of the ramblings is that we Trick or Treated on the mission.   We did not do it much in the states until one day I saw our elderly neighbor sitting and waiting at her door.   There were no children coming.   I told the kids to grab something from their dress up clothes and go to her house.   They loved it!   We never put much thought into costumes and just let the kids make something out of what we had at the house.   The following year, we made baked goods and the kids delivered those to our neighbors to give them a treat as well.   I saw how God can use ANYTHING for His glory.  

It was Baby C's first Halloween so his mama dressed his as the Big Bad Wolf which inspired Miss B's costume!  Baby C's grandmother made Miss B. a way cool cloak that she wore all day so that our Little Red could hang out with the Big Bad Wolf!!!!  The precious folks here on the mission were ready and armed for trick-or-treaters.   It was so sweet.   I am not sure if the kids or the adults liked it best!



Billy was not quite sure how he fit into the festivities so he hung out with Mr. Colton who Dolly said was dressed up to look like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.   Dolly was dressed as Chester the dog and Chester the dog was dressed as Dolly....just long enough and then he peed on his skirt....it happens!



Feeling more settled and more at home in the mountains as we continue to learn more of the culture, language, and how the Lord desires for us to serve Him.  He is faithful!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sweet Spot

Because of the demands on the mission and the electricity, My Dear does not shave his head everyday.   In fact, he doesn't even do it weekly so his hair is growing out.    I have noticed the change in color in some spots.  I was surprised by the shiny slivers of silver in his hair. 

My hair too is sporting a cluster of grey   A patch right in the front.  While Skyping with a family member while My Dear had a quick trip to the states, I heard him quietly whisper, "did you see the spot in her hair?"   I realized he too had noticed yet another change in his former 21 year old bride.  I mentioned that I was going to get it colored while we are on furlough and he was quick to say, "No you're not!"   Not that he wouldn't let me but just to let me know how he truly felt about the spot of "wisdom."

My hands now look like my mother's.   My abdomen has housed 3 babies that took a breathe of air that captured us as their biggest fans.   It is no longer flat as it once was.   It droops and folds around the scar that brought one of children to our arms.  Parts are sagging, dropping, shacking, and flapping and well, I am no longer 21.  Some of me is bigger now than before.The diamond he bravely asked my parents if he could give me still spins on my hand beside the $40 gold band that is more precious to me than any real estate.  

My Dear can no longer land his back tuck that swept me away.   In fact, he doesn't even try it anymore.   His  24-year-old baby face  now wears a beard speckled with a salt, pepper, and a few shards of ginger.   His body is still strong but grows tired at the end of the day.   He is not up for midnight basketball games like before.  Instead of gathering sports equipment off of the floor, I am gathering books and commentaries.

I remember coming home from a special education conference that overlapped with his youth ministry conference and finding a card on my pillow in the days when it was just the two of us.  Years later, the bed had nursing pads, burp clothes, tiny socks that had fallen off during the night time feedings when I was just too tried to sit up in the rocking chair. Later, we found little cars in the sheets, "blankies", and favorite board books.  Sometimes they brought a giggle and sometimes we were just too weary to appreciate what was our normal.  We passed out beside one another to prepare to do it all again the next day.  Recently, I pull the covers back to find a big ole Holman Christian Standard Bible. 

When we were first married, I would get emotional and just need to talk and cry that one time a month.   He, of course, wanted to fix it.   He would try so hard and what I really wanted him to do was just listen.   I came up with a line that I would add to my weeping and jabbering to clue him in that I just wanted him to listen and hug me.  I recall seeing him physically relax when "and children are starving in Africa" came out of my mouth.   Recently, I was sharing my heart and mind with him while preparing a meal together.   As I began to weep, he said, "How about you wait until your over your period before you decide anything."   I just began laughing.  I don't have to give the line anymore, in fact, he is giving me the reminder!

 In 18 years of marriage, a lot has changed.   We survived college together and then graduate school with a baby.   He has been by my side for truly the most monumental moments of my life.   Funerals, births, memorial, encounters with Christ,  celebrations and defeats.   I do not look like the young lady in our wedding photos, that dress does not fit me and I can't even guess that last time I wore a full face of make-up.  But, as I wash dishes, he comes behind me and whispers, "You're beautiful."   He knows what treat to buy me.   He knows when to just listen, tease or to hug me.   He prepares a plate of veggies for me and I prepare a plate of meat for him.  After 18 years and 3 babies (and two teenagers and one young lady in our home) we are in a sweet spot.   The getting to know you bumps and curves are over.   The trying to figure out this parenting thing is getting easier and more often than not, we are on the same page.   See, sweet spot.

Many of the teenagers we have worked with over the years are now adults.   We chat about our marriages and the difficulties.   I see folks getting divorced and even saw an advertisement making fun of marriage.   Couples are choosing to just live together instead of marrying.   They are giving up on marriage after starting or not starting at all.   Marriage, is a journey. 

 The roads of Haiti are probably the best descriptors of marriage.  Bumpy, rocky, steep hills, big holes, and unrecognizable at times.   There are sweets spots along the way, fresh pavement here or there and even places where it is safe to pass.   Stay on the journey!   There are bumps, pot holes and puddles still but you learn to navigate those.   Allow the Lord to grow you together with Him.   You will reach your destination and there are plenty of sweet spots along the way.  It takes time to get to the point where you can be saggy, stinky, and at our worse and still know you are loved.