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.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Least of These

 Tonight, I was planning to post about Miss B's birthday and all the love poured out on her (and therefore her mama.)   Adults willing to act silly to insure she had a wonderful birthday, those are pictures you would want to see!

That was the plan.

 I walked to the dining hall alone thinking on the post.   My Dear had taken "the Reds" (as I call our redheads) along with the dog to fill water bottles and they would meet me there, the people not the dog.   Dolly left early to  help our neighbor.  It had been a Monday....you know what I mean!   Children whined about "more school work."  "Do I have to do alllll of the dishes??"   "That's mine!"  "MOM!"  "Do I have to?"   "She did it!"  and the newest one "No likes me in this family," followed by tears.

 You get it!!!!

As I made my way around the corner, I was met by a guard and another man  who I did not recognize.  I chatted with the guard who was looking for someone.   Since this someone is on furlough, My Dear is covering his responsibilities.  My Dear who was at the top of the hill filling water bottles with 2 children and a dog trying to get it done before rain came and in time to get to the dinning hall for dinner.   The mission was closed and this guard was off duty so he explained to the man what was happening.   Just as we were about to attempt plan #1, I heard the ATV coming.   I gave My Dear a heads up and took over the water business.

Sent Miss B. to the dining hall and Billy to take the dog home.  I then began to unload large water bottles and the tears fell. 

I had walked past them several times.   Wooden, painted black and so small.   But never looked at the face of a person who needed one.   This small man was here on behalf of  a friend.  He was here to purchase a coffin for a 5 -year-old.

This is the reality in this country, parents bury their children.   I don't like it!   I don't like it at all!   I also don't like when folks do not care for the children in their care such as in some so called "orphanages."   Slavery is ugly and it is real and some children end up there.  Truth is, this is not just in this country.   Thankful I serve a God that sees and knows it all and He has not forgotten the "least of these."   

                                    A few boys.....sweet, rotten, active, 100% boys!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hair Cut, Rolling Pins and Tap Taps!

That past 2 weeks we have entertained children from the other sites.   There is no better way to speed up the motivation in the classroom then to know friends will be around to play.   It also means sleep overs and late nights that lead to crashing when everyone has gone back home. 

 We have prayed for the kids to be more comfortable with the people of this culture.   With the help of our neighbor, we have taken Miss B. to the playground a few times to let her play along side the children who visit it.   I asked her to join me on Sunday to take some mail to drop off at the office.   As we walked past the playground, she asked if she could go play because she saw 2 little girls there.   She did not interact or play with them but played near the children.  God let me see that it was not my suggestion but her's....progress!

A team left last week, so I went clean up with my Creole book in hand to help with communication with the lady I would be working with.   I practiced the words  I knew that would be a part of our work together.   When I entered, it was the normal greetings.   Haitians ask "How are you?" much like Americans do.  It is more of a greeting then the actual concern of how you are doing.   She then asked me how I was.   I thought that was odd since she just did in the greeting.  She stated it about 5 different ways watching my brow draw up in confusion as the unfamiliar words were spoken and then said "Chikengunya."   That seemed like a long time ago but she knew I had been sick and was asking me how I felt.   I saw a joke posted on FB today about Haitians having the right to know everything so her knowing that I was sick made me smile.   I learned she too had been sick but a team was on campus while she was sick so she just kept working.    This of course was her choice.   It was a reminder to me how working is a choice.  I know that some Americans look down on Haitians.  Haitians may not be employed, but they all work! They farm and sell their produce at market.   They work to provide and care for their families at home.  They set up shop on the side of the road selling food, medical supplies, clothes, shoes, Haitian made artwork....they all work!


Speaking of chikengunya, this is how you open a bottle when joint pain flairs up.   Yeah for pliers!


We can not always find the items we want at the grocery nor are we always able to go to the store so making stuff has become necessary.   I found a rolling pin in a store but it was $80.  Needless to say, it is still there!   My Dear really wanted one as he was making cinnamon rolls and biscuits.   An email to Ms. Judy who loved on us in IN was an email away.   She had made a rolling pin for the youth auction and well, now we have one in Haiti.   It is no normal rolling pin cause this one was made by the hands of a woman that we love. 




Another HUGE blessing is that we finally got haircuts!   I had hacked at Miss B's hair and with Billy's help, hacked some of my own hair.   But REALLY needed a haircut for morale purposes as well.   A young lady in cosmetology school was here to visit her sister.   She came to the mission and to visit our neighbor and said she was willing to cut hair for us.   The kids and I all got a haircut!   My hair was so long that I could put the front in 2 little pigtails.  I am a little old for pig tails y'all!



The outdoors does make a lovely salon.   Anyone feeling the need to MOVE here to cut our hair?


I think the hair cut made this guy a few inches taller.   Glad to see his handsome face again!

We took a Tap Tap ride, which is a form of a taxi where as many people cram into a pick up truck with benches in it as possible.   We used a tap tap that was a van.   Billy, Dolly, and I joined some friends off of the mission for a ride to get pizza.   My Dear was under the weather and well, you will remember the first paragraph about Miss B.   Well, she cried not to go and asked me to give her a list of chores to do instead....I think she was desperate.   She did get some pizza though.   Our friends, the Wards, use tap taps often so they took good care of us and the pizza was good!!!!  


Side note, see that grey band on Dolly's wrist?   They are called Sea bands and are wonderful for travel sickness.   The road down the mountain is one curve after another mixed with windows down, pollution, and strange smells...it makes the drive down a bit harder on a person prone to get car sick.   These little bands have been well used!    My girlfriend used them for her newborn under doctor's orders for getting sick in the car.   They work for any kind of nausea well, at least they have for us.   My Dear picked these up for us at a Walgreen or CVS after we had 2 kiddos get sick last time we were in Haiti.   One in the car and one on the plane....we keep it exciting!

Click here to see more photos and read Jen's blog about our pizza outing.  
http://wardfamriskingtheocean.blogspot.com/2014/09/legit.html?spref=fb


My Dear has been working in a different position the past couple of weeks to learn that position as the couple that works in that area will soon be going on furlough.  It has been a great way to learn more about the mission.   It also allows him to work with the Haitian men.   Last Friday was pay day for the employees of the mission.   The security guard was heading to the check in location and Billy usually runs out to unlock the door for him.   My Dear had his paycheck and ran out cheering and waving it.   It was fun to watch this big guard's gruff appearance fade before his long night shift at the front gate.   My Dear thanked him in Creole for the work he was doing.   I was so impressed with how easily the Creole rolled off of his tongue and congratulated him when he came in.   He said, "Well seeing that that was the 51st time I said it today, it should be good."   Funny guy!

He is currently working on a writing a couple of grants for reforestation. This country once was rich and plush but the needs of the people  have destroyed much of it.  The mission has worked in reforestation in the past and hopes to continue that education in the future.   The area around the mission is plush, evidence of the years of service and education in those areas.

We have found a vehicle to purchase in the states and would appreciate your prayers as we work to get it to us.   So if you think about it about this week and next pray that My Dear gets the vehicle where it is supposed to be with the paperwork in the right places.   It will take awhile for us to get it through shipping and our wait is probably 2 months once we get it to Port here.  Pray that it is kept in safe keeping as theft is ALWAYS an option and happens state side as easily as it does here. 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pitchin' In

The primary responsibility of the kiddos and myself, for this season of our lives, is schooling.   But because the children do not have a schedule of activities in the evening , we can still help out as needed at the mission.   Dolly feeds the fish in the pond 2 times a day and also checks in on the zoo animals.   She "dog sat" for a family who went on furlough and whatever else comes up.   I know she has given impromptu tours of the zoo and have played with younger children on the playground who have invited her to play with them.   When the zoo keeper sees her coming, his hand flies up to wave.   He speaks to her in Creole and some days she comes home saying, "What does (this word) mean?"   There is a guard on campus that tries a different Creole phrase with her each time he sees her.   She asks him what it means and he tells her in English.   She said, "He always ask me that."   I let her know he was asking because she still did not know the phrase.   She does not shy away from his questioning as he is determined to teach her.  

Miss B. is still a bit fearful of folks she does not know.   BUT when Dolly came home from feeding the fish and shared that a little boy who spoke English, about Miss B's age wanted to play, I presented an offer I hoped Miss B. could not refuse.   She was washing dishes when Dolly asked her if she wanted to go play.   She said she couldn't because of the dishes.   I gave her the option to ditch the rest of the dishes if she would go to the playground.   DING!   She was out the door with her sister!

Billy has helped offer muscle when needed and recently helped to count out jewelry to fulfill an order for Mountain Maid.   Check out their goodies at www.mountainmaid.com   The sell of these items support the Haitians who make them.

The other job he LOVES is filling water bottles.   My Dear repaired a water filtration system when we moved here.  It is saving the mission and the staff a few coins.  We have water coolers in our homes and have a central location to get water and return our old bottles.   We have to use bottled water for drinking and some cooking.   It is near our residents so that is a blessing.   The water filtration system is up the hill at the gate of the mission.  To get the bottles from one location to the next requires just what a 13year old boy would LOVE to use!   AND oh Chester likes this job too cause he gets a free ride!





Last week, an unexpected opportunity came up to "help" that we could not resist!   Ice Cream taste testing!!!!   My Dear and work partner had some samples of ice cream to taste and needed opinions to know if they should sell it in the restaurant.  We had three very willing volunteers. 
 
 
 
Dolly giving it some real thought.   I think the chocolate chip was her favorite flavor.


Miss B. liked vanilla the best.  I guess it went with her bright yellow shirt.   If you trust a girl with one pigtail, you might like it too!


How did the ice cream rank?   Well,  no one LOVED any of them and the yellow vanilla was a little scary to even look at.   But it was fun to try!  It is not everyday a person gets to be an ice cream tester!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What Chikungunya Will Teach Ya (take it from me and try to skip the lesson on your own!)



Last week, I struggled through the virus Chikungunya.   It is carried by mosquitoes and it hit HARD!

This, I know about me, when one aspect of me is down, the rest of me suffers.   Physically, I felt horrible and even rest would not cease that feeling because insomnia is part of it.   I could easily write of all of my misery, but I will spare you those details and just put them in my tear stained journal.   Let's just say, the last time I felt that bad someone handed me a baby all bundled up and told me congratulations.............where is my congratulations gift???

During this time, I realized how much I missed the old.   I missed the hardwood under my feet, my dishwasher (okay, I miss that everyday!), the yard, neighbors, phone calls, our van, dance classes, church activities, and our ability to go places.   I missed familiar, I have the same bed but it is in the wrong room.  I can lay on the sofa but the antiques from the Boaz/ Blake families are not here for me to look at.   There would be no sending someone to Wal-Mart or no Blizzards from Dairy Queen for dinner (yes Blizzard for dinner for me, I am sick ya'll.)   I could not pick up the phone and call my mom and dad for advice or send My Dear to pick up pizza or wheel through Wendy's to feed the troops.  When I am down, I am down...for the count and feeling bad begins to feel worse.   In fact, 2 people I love asked to Skype with me (and they have seen me ugly before) but I refused both knowing that I did not feel well and to see their faces from the states would be just the signal to start the water works.  

One night, I was so tried and went to bed but could not fall asleep.   I finally just lost it.  Not only was I exhausted but I had taken a nice dose of Benadryl to help with the rash and to help me sleep.   So I was medically tired too.   I was ready to put myself on an airplane to a Florida hospital and pay them to just knock me out and let me sleep in a room undisturbed. 

After a good cry and the realization that there was nothing I could do to rid myself of the itch of the rash and that I could not make myself sleep, I had to make a choice.

My sweet friend Carolyn loaded me with music for this journey on her old cellphone.   I laid in bed in the early hours of the morning and allowed the Lord to minister to my heart with the lyrics of the songs.   I could feel myself relaxing and in the relaxing feel myself rest.   Five hours later, I finally feel asleep.  I had two nights like this but the tears did stop.   I can not control my situation or circumstances but I can control my response.

No, my bed is not located in the home that our kiddos will hold dear to their hearts nestled in the woods of the city.   It is located on a mountain with breath taking views.   My floors are concrete but have dolls, Barbie, cardboard boxes created to be doll beds and computers covering them.   My sofa, worn with years, holds the same bodies everyday at school time and sometimes in the evenings it holds those of new friends who are also striving to serve the Lord with their lives.   So, things are different....very different!   Sometimes it is hard and sometimes it isn't.   I still miss the familiar and the comfort that comes from familiar.  So as I am in transition, with life, our family, and my ministry, I will sit in the presence of The Lord and allow Him to heal me physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually and allow Him to prepare me for what happens next, cause He knows all about that too.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sovereign God

Last Sunday, we arrived at church during a long and spirit filled prayer.   We waited outside of the door until the prayer was over.  As we waited, we saw a white family.   This never happens!   Not only were they white but the man was bald....perks!   When service was over, My Dear called the man by name.   I thought, "Does he know him?"   But of course, he just saw his name on his Bible when we stood and decided to use it to mess with him a bit.

We introduced ourselves and Jen, the "wife" and "mom" shared that she saw our kiddos a few months ago when we had returned from Atrel.   They were here visiting with our neighbors.  

We talked for a bit and asked them to join us for spaghetti (cause its Sunday!) They have only been here for 3 days.   They moved from Nashville but lived in Louisville for a time.   Chris left youth ministry to move to Haiti with Jen and their youngest daughter who will begin college here as well as teach English.   We were able to help them get a bit better situated.   We had a mission that helped us transition and it was sweet to be able to give back to others.   We have enjoyed our time with the Ward family!!   AND our pound puppy loves Ms. Jen!  

Jen and I connected on Facebook and I think today is the first day that we have not seen them this week but they know that I am a bit under the weather and did offer to come help out with the peeps.   Sweet people!

Jen sent me a message a couple of days ago.   She posted a blog post about our meeting.   A friend messaged her and after sending a Facebook message to another "friend" to confirm the following...

Two weeks ago, 2 ladies met at the beach.   One was from Louisville, KY and the other from Bardstown, KY.   If you live in Bardstown, you go to Louisville to shop or whatever...they are that close.   I am sure the 2 ladies at the beach found this entertaining.   As they visited with one another, the lady from Louisville shared about her friend that was moving to Haiti.   The lady from Bardstown shared about a family she knew that has just moved here.   The ladies talked about the families and prayed that they would meet.   Indeed they did, that Sunday in church when we spotted the white family at church.   Two families for KY, prayed for our meeting and it was a meeting that has blessed all the parities involved.   Praise the Lord!   Both Jen and I received email messages from our friends to tell us about their meeting.   Reminded once again of our Sovereign God!