Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mini Family Getaway

Two weekends ago we were able to take an extended weekend for a short family getaway to the beach.  Those of you who have come to Haiti with an RMI team are very familiar with the RMI Retreat Center in Zanglais.  Since we have access to a beautiful place right on the beach, we decided to stay there  Saturday thru Monday.  Those of you who are not familiar with the retreat center, I’m sorry, we mostly took beach pictures and didn’t take any while we were at the retreat center itself.  There will be a next time for sure :)

The retreat center is where we take our teams, usually to stay for one or two nights at the end of their trip here.  It is a beautiful location to wind down from the intense experience of a visit to a sister church.  We’ve always been there when RMI’s Haitian staff has been there to cook/clean for the team.  I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a relaxing trip or if the kids would be bored so we decided to stay for 2 nights this first time. 

Zanglais is about 45 minutes from where we live in Cayes.  I would say the retreat center is a step above camping.  There is no electricity, so we had to purchase gas to run the generator in the evenings, mostly for lights and fans.  It took a bit of planning as well.  We have to take our own drinking water, ice and food.  The nice part is there are real beds with linens and bathrooms with showers and running water and a fully equipped kitchen.  And the view is spectacular!  These are the only pics I took there.  Gives you a tiny idea of the view.


The boys set their chairs up in the kitchen to overlook the Caribbean.


All the planning and packing aside, we had such a great time as a family.  We spent each day at the beach.  Rob had big plans to build sand sculptures with the kids.  Day one was “Sandy the Sandman”


Day two was a dinosaur


Day three Drew suggested a castle.  Drew also wanted to be “in charge” of designing this one so this is the result of Drew’s ideas!  He was pretty proud of himself.IMG_5438







Here are a few other beach pics, just cause we had so much fun.













IMG_5386  IMG_5419

Going to the beach isn’t always relaxing here.  A bunch of blan making sand sculptures and with a bunch of beach toys can draw quite a crowd!  Usually by the end of each day, we’d leave behind 20+ Haitian kids that were playing with us, the kids, our toys, or just hanging around.  The good thing is it starts out as just a few kids and they trickle in here and there, so it’s not totally overwhelming the whole time.  In the States, we have a different idea of personal space then they do here.  In the US at the beach, a kid or two might come play with your kids, but you kind of leave people to themselves.  Not here.  Haitians love people, and kids especially like to be where they feel loved.  So as much as I wanted to go to the beach to be left alone, I quickly realized that was not going to happen!  We just rolled with it.  We are in Haiti after all, not the US!  It was kind of funny actually.  You’d look down the beach in either direction and there wouldn’t be anyone.  But where we were, there were a whole lot!


My sister saw this picture and joked that it looked like we were having a bible lesson on the beach or something!  Haha!  Nope, the kids just liked hanging out where we were!


Here are views of the beach looking in both directions.  Beautiful.IMG_5396


When we weren’t at the beach, we were at the retreat center eating or playing games.  The kids had balls and out door toys and coloring books and crayons.  One evening I made pizza and we had pizza/movie night on Rob’s computer in the gazebo on a cliff that overlooks the Caribbean.    We continued our tradition of each telling stories for bedtime, instead of reading books.   After the kids were in bed, Rob and I had a fun time playing games, like Sequence and Take One. 

It’s been a hard 4+ months.  The work we are here to do, combined with language learning, is tiring.  Transition to a new culture and way of life is intense. Living where we do, it’s easy to forget that we live on a Caribbean island!  We had a great time and look forward to being able to do it again.    It was a really fun weekend for our family.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to Eat Keneps…

Does anyone know how to put an accent on top of letters in Windows Live Writer?  I know how to do it in Word, but I can’t find it here.  It’s driving me crazy!  I’m sure if Rob was here, he’d show me right away and make it look easy.  Anyway, both e’s in the word kenep should have an accent on it to be spelled (and therefore, pronounced) correctly.  Moving on…

It’s kenep season here in Haiti. They can be found in almost every little “booth” that has fresh produce for sale. What is a kenep (pronounced keh-nehp), you ask?  There is no real comparison to a fruit found in the US, so I will try to describe it for you.  There is also a certain way to eat them, that Tessa will help me demonstrate.

We were introduced to keneps on our trip here this time last year.  Rob loves them; I can take them or leave them.  They taste kind of like a tart, green grape, but the texture is not like that at all.  I think it’s the texture you either love or hate.  I think they have a slimy texture, but Rob disagrees with me.   It is essentially a big seed with a little juicy, fleshy part around it and you chew/suck it off, then spit it out.

Here is a bowl of keneps.  You buy them in little bundles from the vendors.


Here is how you eat them.

Step one: pick off a kenep


Step two:  bite into the skin, just to split the skin in half

the skin looks like a citrus skin, but it pops off cleanly


Step 3:  pop off half the skin so it looks like this like this

note the fruit inside


Step 4:  pop the fruit out of the rest of the skin and into your mouth


Step 5:  suck on it and chew on it like a piece of hard candy

Note: you are just trying to suck on and chew on the fleshy outer part.


Step 6:  when you you are done chewing and you only have the seed left, spit out the seed

Tessa tends to spit them out before they are really finished :)



Rob and Tessa LOVE them.  It took Drew a while to try them—he insisted he didn’t want to try them at first.  He likes them as well, although it’s Tessa I have to watch out for!  I’ve found her sneaking a few when I’m not looking.  Yes, my 4-year-old has a spit cup :)


Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy 4th Birthday Tessa!

Yesterday was Tessa’s 4th birthday!  We had a busy weekend so I forgot to put up a post earlier.  Saturday we had some friends over for pizza, cake and a movie outside on the “big screen.”

She got really shy when everyone started singing to her!


One cake mix made these two cakes.  Not too bad for my first time trying to make something like this!


Me and my girl:


Our “theatre.”  Now showing: “Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure.”


Our “big screen.”


On Sunday after church and opening gifts, we went to Rainbow Beach where Daddy made something special for Tessa.

Drew worked so hard on a gift for Tessa.  In the box was a cardboard fish, airplane and ramp for her to drive cars on.  Also, 2 gift bags and a wooden rod for her to carry them on.  He put so much thought into each item, it was so sweet.  He had no clue he was using a “canned meat” box to “wrap” it all in! Hahaha!


Tessa loved the bike we got her.


Daddy made her this special sand sculpture at the beach. 


And last, but not least, I always like to do a progression of pics since birth to see how much she’s grown.

Tessa on her birthday 4 years ago:IMG_5938

On her 2nd Birthday:


Our big 4-year-old:


We love you Tessa!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

God’s Good Gifts

I really love when I see glimpses of God’s truth resonate in my kids’ hearts; when I can see they are really thinking about what we are trying to teach them.  Tonight we had one of those moments and it was pretty cool!

For our family worship time, we are working thruLeading Little Ones to God: A Child’s Book of Bible Teachings” by Marian M. Schoolland.  A special thanks to Drew’s former preschool teacher, Mary Bergen, for suggesting it to us and taking an extra step and sending us a copy!  We are loving the theology the kids are getting working through this book.

Tonight we read and talked about the good things God gives us.  I really resonated with this.  The author talked about how God takes care of us and gives us beautiful things to enjoy.  Even though it was written for children, there was a nugget there for me—something I had never thought about before.  The author talked about when God made Adam and Eve, he put them in the beautiful Garden of Eden.  When they sinned, God took that away from them.  BUT, He did not take all the beautiful things away from them.  They certainly didn’t deserve beautiful things that would make them happy, but despite their sin, God wanted them to still be happy because He loved them.

One of the questions at the end was “what are some of God’s good gifts to us today?”  We all took turns answering.  Rob and I went first because we wanted Drew and Tessa to really think about their answer, not just say “Jesus.”  Rob said his wife (awww…) and I said the gift of three beautiful children. 

Drew, who I could tell was really thinking about it, said all the plants he’s been growing and all the seeds that had sprouted.  Right now Drew is really into planting things and I could tell he connected with the idea that these were God’s good gifts to him.  Then Tessa said, “all the kids.”  Rob and I were confused at first and thought maybe she really didn’t get it, but then we asked her what she meant by that, what kids?  Turns out, she was really thankful for her brothers.  She really meant it!  It was very sweet to see Drew, with big smile on his face, turn to Tessa and give her a big hug.

Braden made his way into a box of clothes and came across an old pair of Drew’s sneakers that I was saving for him.  He insisted on putting them on, and they fit him well.  He has been obsessed with these shoes today and pretty proud of them too.  Rob said, “Braden, what good gift did God give you?” and Braden said, with a huge smile, “blue shoes!”  He’s been saying that all day so it really made us all laugh!

Here’s a beautiful gift God gave to Rob yesterday: a gorgeous sunset with Braden.


Our family worship times don’t always go smooth or end well.  Today’s family worship time was one of those good gifts from God that I will cherish.

So, what are some of God’s good gifts to you today?


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mom and Dad T’s Visit to Haiti:Part Two

Part Two highlights the fun parts of their trip.  The whole trip was fun: just showing them where we live and about life here was very enjoyable.  This isn’t all we did, but some of my favorite parts.

On Sunday, after church, we took them to our favorite beach, Rainbow Beach.  Other missionaries were there so we all had fun hanging out. I think Mom and Dad enjoyed getting know the other missionaries that live here in Cayes, as well as playing on the beach.

IMG_3141  beach 2

Monday morning, Dad got to work and Rob and I had our Creole lesson.  I came back from our lesson to find Mom in the kitchen with Carline and Josette.  They were all laughing, Mom was learning some Creole words, and she was telling me all about the ingredients they used in some of the dishes.  Here she was stirring the diri kole (rice and beans) that she “helped” make!  We had lobster and bannann peze as well that day.  Anyone that knows Mom, knows she is crazy about fresh juice.  She had a blast everyday in the kitchen helping to make sitwon, zoranj and chadek juices for our meals.


We definitely ate well at lunch all week!  It was fun to plan a menu that included some the of the fresh things Haiti has to offer.  In addition to the juice and lobster, we had fish, roasted chicken and a  full-out Haitian meal (bannann peze, grio, akra, legim, and rice).  We also had pizza!

thompsons and staff

I love this pic.  It was taken on a walk around where we live.  To the right is the driveway that goes down to our house.


My kids have been loving these “swimming pools.”  Grandmom watched the kids play in them on Saturday and decided it was too hot not to get in herself!  She did this with the kids a few of the days they were here!  She and Tessa, especially, made some really good memories!

IMG_5088  IMG_5092

A beautiful sunset view from our yard one evening.


Grandmom set a date, place and time with Tessa and Braden for another pool excursion.  They planned to “swim” the next morning at 9AM under the thatched-roof gazebo in our yard.


It was also fun that Mom and Dad came right between Braden and Tessa’s birthday’s, so they got to enjoy seeing the kids open gifts from them.IMG_5071









Our last night together we had a campfire.  Drew was busy planning and building it before they came and collected all the scrap wood to burn.  We used to have a nice tree in that circle, but it died, and we have yet to replace it.  It made a nice place to enjoy a campfire.  Drew and Pop-Pop lit it together.


Overall, a really fun week that went by fast!  We can’t wait for them to visit again!

So who is going to come see us next?


Friday, August 13, 2010

Mom and Dad T’s First Visit to Haiti: Part One

Wow, I can’t believe we haven’t blogged in a long time.  It’s not that there hasn’t been anything to say.  I’ve just been at such a loss for words the last 6 weeks or so.  I’ve got a blog post swirling around in my head on that topic, but that will have to wait for another time!

Last week, Rob’s parents visited Haiti for the first time!  It was so fun to show them where and how we live.  I think they really “get it” now; they saw first hand what draws us here.  Not that they didn’t get it before, but I can see it put a real face on life and ministry here and that is exciting for us.

Dad T was supposed to come here January 14th with Rob to work on the house before we moved here.  The earthquake January 12th changed those plans.  Mom T. bought her tickets 3 days before they came as she didn’t have a passport until a few days before that.  I think that was a blessing!  She didn’t have much time to think about the fact that she was about to spend a week in a 3rd world country!

The original purpose of the visit was for Rob’s Dad to do construction projects around the house, so for part one I’ll post some pics and comments about that.  I’ll post pics and comments of fun in part two!

They arrived on a Friday and on Saturday made plans for what Dad wanted to work on for the week.  Plans included: build a closet in the boy’s room, rebuild pantry shelves to make a more organized space, fix a leaky roof, and build some kind of box around our inverter/battery back-up system. They went out to buy the supplies Saturday afternoon with the plan to start construction on Monday. Dad got to see right away that buying the supplies is not as easy as going to Home Depot or Lowes!  I think they went to 5 or 6 different stores and didn’t get all they needed.  The first store they visited was where they bought the wood, which they paid for and picked up on the way home.  Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication and they bought the wrong kind of plywood.  Since the store was closed when they picked up the order, Rob had to go back Monday to return it.  Welcome to life in Haiti!

Dad got right to work Monday morning!


Drew and Pop-Pop working on the boy’s closet day two.


The finished closet!  Lots of storage and finally a little hanging space.  I couldn’t be more pleased with it.  We will stain it and I will make curtains to close off the hanging part and probably the bottom part by the floor—I haven’t decided yet.


Dad T building some new shelves in the pantry area.


Up on the concrete roof caulking the area where we have a significant leak.  So far, so good! (Although we haven’t had a major, major rain yet!)


The finished “cage” for the batteries.  Our inverter is attached to the wall.  This gives us power when the city power goes out.  Our fridge, some lights and fans run on this.  The power goes out at regularly scheduled times every day and then goes out at many other unscheduled times as well.  When we have power, the batteries charge, and when we don’t have power, the inverter runs off the batteries.  These batteries were sitting exposed on our front “porch” area and we have been concerned about the kids near them since we moved here.  So the cage is more to keep the kids away and safe then anything else.


Thanks Dad, for all your hard work!  You were such huge blessing to us last week!

I’ll write part two about some of the fun stuff we did when they visited!