Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Drew’s Backyard Adventures

One of the really fun things about living in Haiti is that the kids play outside all the time.  We never did that to this extent in Florida as it was too hot and the kids were too young to go out alone.  The kids are a little older now and in many ways it’s safer here where we live.  It’s hotter here then Florida most of the year, but when your house is not air conditioned, outside is where you want to be.

Drew is my creative child.  He finds all kinds of ways to make outside play fun. Our yard isn’t huge, but it’s got plenty of room to play.  It kind of just ends at a cliff.  Down below that cliff is the part of our yard  where we have our vegetable garden.  We only use about half of the garden space for planting, so Drew loves to play down there.  We call it “down the cliff” or simply “anba” which means under or below in Creole.  If I don’t see Drew right away, down the cliff is usually where I check first!

For a long while he was really into planting seeds down there.  He planted black beans and got a pretty big harvest a few weeks ago.  Enough to make rice and beans for 2 meals.  Right now, it’s too hot to be planting anything new, so he and Meritha have been up to some new things.

Here is a photo taken after he and Meritha finished making a “tikay” (little house) out of thatch.  It was fun to watch Drew walk up and down our road looking for fallen palm fronds.  Meritha did more of the work building it.  I think she secretly loves some of the stuff Drew asks her to do!










They also made these little shelters, one each for Drew and Tessa.  Tessa really enjoys playing down there with Drew.  It’s interesting to see their differences though!  The day they built these shelters, Drew was playing with his just like you’d expect a 6-year-old boy to play and Tessa was walking around searching for flowers and ribbons to decorate hers.



I remember when we moved to Haiti a year ago, Drew was in a phase where he wanted to be a rock climber.  He thought for sure he was going to be able to rock climb in Haiti.  His wish has come true right in our back yard.  He loves climbing the cliff wall.


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A few Saturdays ago, Rob told Drew he would do anything he wanted with him.  Drew’s idea was for Rob to dig him a foxhole.  I have no idea how Drew knows about foxholes, but he was super excited to have one.  I thought Rob was crazy for doing it!  He had to get out the pick-ax to get thru the limestone to make it deep enough for Drew to get into.  I think he also took down his electric grinder.  In the end, he had a fun foxhole to play in.  The next weekend, they dug a tunnel to hide under in the foxhole.  I don’t have pictures of that.







Thatch playhouses, rock climbing, foxholes, planting seeds…  it’s all a 6-year-old boy could want!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It’s still tough…

and I imagine it always will be.  Our neighbors, Johannes and Luise Schurer, have been serving in Haiti since the year I was born, and even they tell me they don’t have it figured out.  What is the best response to those who come to our doors every day, asking for help?

This morning, a woman came to our house.  I was coming home from somewhere, and Rob was already talking to her.  She told Rob she had cholera and needed to go to the hospital.  It was obvious to us that she didn’t currently have cholera but she was obviously weak and sick (and later on I realized that she might have been telling us she was weak because she was treated for cholera in the past.)  We had never seen her before—she is not one of the “regulars” that comes asking for things.  We agreed to write her a note stating we’d pay for a consultation and medication at the clinic near where we live.  She asked us for a glass of water before she left and we obliged.

She returned later in the day, showing us the medication she received and thanking us.  Then she asked for a little food.  I agreed to give her some and went inside to get some of the manna packs we keep on hand for this purpose.  After I handed her some food, she tells me she’s too weak to walk home (and it seemed to me that it was true) and asked for a little money for a motorcycle taxi.  I agree to give her 5 Haitian dollars (63 cents US, if you are wondering) to get a taxi home.  As I was going in the house to get the money she asks for another glass of water and I oblige again.

Up to this point, I have willingly and happily agreed to help her.  I can say that in this instance I felt compassion for her and genuinely wanted to help her (which, I admit,  is not always the case when I have visitors like this.) 

As I hand her the money and drink, she shows me a picture of her one year old daughter.  Then… she touches my clothes and asks me to give her some clothes.  Seriously??!!  I have to tell you, I got really annoyed with her at this point.  I kindly told her that I already paid for her to see a doctor, medication, taxi ride home, and gave her food and water, and that was all the help I was going to give her today.  So since I used the word “today” she asked if she could come back tomorrow.  Arghhhh!!!  I said no and just walked in the house.

Drew and Tessa were out there coloring and Drew comes in the house and says, “Mommy, the lady outside is asking if she can have a crayon for her daughter.  Can me and Tessa give her one?”  My heart said “Are you SERIOUS??!!”  My mouth said, “Yes, Drew, you can each give her one.  But that’s all.  Mommy and Daddy have already helped her a whole lot today.”

I don’t have this all figured out and I doubt I ever will.  There have been times where I know we have genuinely helped someone and times where helping just seems to bring them back time and time again lacking any kind of thankfulness for the help we give.  I just want to show the love of Christ.  We pray for wisdom for each circumstance we face. 

What I realized today, is that my kids need to see the love of Christ in me in how I interact with the many people we see each day.  I think they saw this today.  They don’t need to see me saying yes to every person that comes asking.  I know there have been times where they have seen me frustrated, unkind and annoyed.  But they do need to see me deal with them gently and kindly.  And with love. 


Saturday, May 21, 2011

2011 Missionary Ladies Retreat—Part Two

Back to sharing with you about the retreat!  Sorry it’s taken too long.  It’s been a busy week here.

After our big adventure the first day just getting our speakers to Haiti, we were glad for a day to rest a little and recuperate.  We spent Thursday getting ready and I kept them busy showing them around where we live and meeting some of the missionary ladies.  That night we took them to a Haitian restaurant for some Haitian food.  Unfortunately, Tessa threw up all over the table so it was an interesting night.  Tessa ended up having a 24 hour stomach bug.  It was hard to leave her the next day to go on the retreat, but she was in good hands with Rob.

Vicki, Donna, and Terri ready to take a tour of the area we live.  Also, a picture of Amy, Rob and I with the ladies at the RMI Guest House right after staff devotions.



We woke up to a rainy day Friday.  We spent much of the weekend praying for the rain to stay away, and for the most part it did.  It turn out to be an overcast weekend and a little drizzly on and off, but the heavy rains stayed away.  We packed up and headed to the retreat center early to get ready for all the other missionary ladies to arrive later in the afternoon.  Here Terri and Donna are packing up the bags of goodies they brought for all of us.  Amy and I are ready for everyone’s arrival at the registration table.  The gazebo, overlooking the Caribbean, is where all of our sessions were held.










We really enjoyed a weekend of fellowship, fun and God’s Word.  We looked at the story of the woman who touched Jesus’ robe and was healed from different passages of scripture.  We were reminded of how much we are loved by God, that we can depend on Him, and how much he cares for us.  We had wonderful times of worship and prayer .  There were games and activities scattered throughout the sessions that served a dual purpose:  they tied back in some way to the lesson and offered us missionaries a way to learn more about each other.  One of my biggest blessings from the weekend was the time getting to know each other on a deeper level and just have fun together!

During one of the sessions, we divided into groups and made our “perfect friend.”



Our speakers brought these blankets that were in two pieces.  We were to knot them together, to make one blanket, but we did all kinds of different things with them.  They say “God loves you” and were to remind us that we are blanketed in God’s love.  In the gazebo, we sat with our prayer partners and worked on them and prayed with one another.  A couple people knotted them poncho-style!












We had lots of fun time to hang out and play games. 










We had sweet times of prayer with our prayer partners.

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We closed up Sunday morning as God’s princesses!  It was a fun activity to remind us that we are daughters of the Most High King!















Such a fun weekend!  Thank you much to the ladies in Terri’s Bible study for sponsoring all the goodies and supplies for the weekend.  Much thanks to my Mom’s Bible study for sponsoring some of these ladies so they could attend free of charge.  We left refreshed in body and spirit and all felt like we knew each other a little bit better at the end of the weekend.  We all have different ministries in Haiti, but we all serve the same God and I am blessed to serve here with this group of special ladies.

I am so thankful to Terri, Vicki, and Donna for coming down to minister to us!  We truly were blessed by you!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

2011 Missionary Ladies Retreat—Part One

Last weekend, fellow co-worker Amy Long and I, had the privilege of hosting all the missionary ladies in our area of les Cayes for a retreat at the RMI Retreat Center in Zanglais.  This is a retreat that RMI  sponsors annually, but last year had to be cancelled because it was scheduled for the weekend after the earthquake.  So it had been over 2 years since the last one. 

About 2 months before the retreat, a search for a speaker hadn’t come to fruition and fell in Amy and my hands.  We felt confident that, despite the short time frame to find a speaker, God had the speaker already picked out and we needed to be faithful in asking.  Through prayer, we decided to just ask one person at a time and wait for their response before turning to the next person on our short list.  What I wanted to do was send a mass email and see who responded, but we felt God prompting us to take it one person at a time!  The first two we asked quickly said no as they already had other commitments that weekend.  We were thankful for quick responses.  Then I emailed a good friend and supporter, Terri Robinson, from Absecon, NJ.  It took her 4 days or so to respond, but when she did it was a YES!  I was personally excited.  Rob and I have known Terri and her husband Carl for a long time.  She has a huge heart and I knew she would be great for our ladies retreat. 

Within a week, she had recruited 2 other ladies, Vicki Sommers and Donna Boyer, to come along and share in the teaching.  Terri recruited her ladies Bible study and they all donated funds to cover the materials and goodies they brought along for all the ladies.  And wow, did they bring some great things!  Each lady left the retreat with a goody bag filled with 2 devotionals, music CD, body lotion, spray and wash, a journal, and other little goodies.  We had to charge a small amount for the retreat to cover costs, but we didn’t want anyone to not come because of finances.  So my Mom’s Bible study collected money to sponsor 8 ladies to come.  We had missionary ladies from the US, Germany, Canada, Haiti, Jamaica, and Guyana.

Here’s a picture of our speakers at the retreat center, left to right: Donna, Terri, Vicki


Terri, Vicki, and Donna had never been to Haiti before.  I gave them detailed instructions of what to do and look for at the airport.  That day, Benson, who is an RMI staff member, and I left Cayes at 7 AM to start the drive to Port Au Prince to pick them up.  Their flight was scheduled to come in at 1:15 PM.  Well, I keep learning that in Haiti nothing goes according to (my) plan.  It’s why Haitian Christians always end sentences referring to plans with the phrase, si Dye vle, which means, if God wills.  ABout 30 minutes into our trip, Benson and I learned that there was a roadblock about halfway to Port. These are called manifestations in Haiti and they are usually a form of political protest.  This day, before the sun rose, some individuals decided to force 2 18-wheelers to block the road with their trucks and shoot all the tires out.  In Haiti there is only one road to Port au Prince so we sat, not moving, for 4 hours, waiting for UN troops to move the trucks, with some serious equipment, just enough for one lane of vehicles to scoot by.  Then when we started moving, we were in quite a bit of traffic for a while.

Meanwhile, Rob had gotten word to the ladies while they were in Miami, that we were stuck in a roadblock and might not get there in time to pick them up.  He instructed them to look for the driver we use in PAP, Nadir, to pick them up.  Nadir got them a reservation for overnight at a guesthouse in case we could not get thru the road block.  Only one problem:  when the ladies got outside the airport, Nadir had not yet arrived because he had gotten tied up with another group.  God sent the 3 ladies different people to help them; other people who knew Nadir and called him for them.  They stayed calm and patient (so they tell me!  I know they prayed a lot!) until Nadir arrived.  By then we had gotten through the road block but were still 3 hours away because of traffic.  Rob talked to them and told them Nadir was going to take them to and leave them at a gas station until we met them!  They didn’t know this gas station has tables, food, TV, and a guard with a big rifle!  Finally, by 5 PM, Benson and I arrived.  We all grabbed food for the trip back to Cayes and arrived home by 9:15 PM. It was quite and adventurous day for all of us!

Here are Terri and Donna waiting at the gas station with their suitcases and the guard with the big gun patrolling outside.








Terri, Donna, and Vicki had great attitudes through all their delays and testified that they really saw God’s hand of protection on them throughout the whole day.

Well, this post is getting too long, so I will post about the actual retreat in Part Two!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Jersey’s First Beach Day

In case you didn’t hear the news, we got a puppy in March!  Another missionary here was bringing back a puppy from the same litter for his kids and mentioned there was one more and that he’d be willing to bring them both.  We felt the cost was perfect (free, except we split the cost of the flight fees), the kids were at a good age and it was just the type of dog we wanted for our family.  We named her Jersey and call her Jersey Girl sometimes :)  Her mom is a full-bred Golden Retriever and dad is a black lab-mix.  Her brother lives just up the road and they love to play together.  She is golden in color and looks a lot like a lab, but as she’s getting older she has more of the longer snout of a Golden Retriever.  Her brother, Kabu, is black and looks just like a lab.  Here is a picture when we surprised the kids with her back in March.  She’s already changed so much since then!




Two weekends ago we took her to the beach for the first time.  The kids were so excited to take her with us.  She was pretty nervous the whole car ride there (about 45 minutes).  She really loved the freedom to run and dig in the sand!



She really enjoyed rolling around in the sand and found a nice, cool place to rest when she got tired.







Then Rob took her down to the water and she was pretty afraid of it at first.  But Rob picked her up and carried her in and in no time she was swimming to the shore herself!  It was fun to watch her learn.  After that, she’d get in the water all by herself, swim to Rob and back to the shore.  I think we need to take her every time we go!






We all had a fun beach day.  Here are some pics of the other fun stuff we did:



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Such a fun day!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Sewing Projects

This post will definitely bore some of you immensely!  I give you permission to skip reading it all together if you aren’t interested!

Last May, for my birthday, Rob gave me a sewing machine.  It’s only taken me a year to complete 2 projects!  There were a few times I felt like throwing the machine because it was giving me a hard time (and no, it wasn’t operator error—yeah, right.)  Honestly, I did a little sewing with my Mom when I was little and in theory knew what to do, but haven’t actually done it before.  Here they are for those of you who are interested. 

Shopping for the fabric was a lot of fun and challenging!  It’s a little more of a process to go and find fabric.  You don’t just drive down to Joann Fabric.  I’ve been able to find a good selection on one of the streets in town, but it’s been hard to find exactly what I was looking for.  The different vendors put out folds of fabric on the street and it has a big yard-sale feel.  I’ve been looking for fabric for curtains for Tessa’s room, the boys’ room and Rob and my room for a while now.  A few times I’ve found something I like for the boys and they just don’t have enough.  What you see is what you get.  Often the fabric is flawed and I have to decide if I can still work with it or not. 

The best part, was that I started looking for fabric not long after I started language lessons.  It has been a great experience being out on the street, trying out the Creole I’ve been learning, bartering, etc.  I still remember the first time I looked with my friend Amy.  I could hardly say anything and I was just taking her lead.  A few months later, I wandered down to a vendor by myself while Amy was looking at something else, and bartered for the fabric for Tessa’s room all by myself. That was a first!  When I found what I wanted for my room I was with Rob and could more clearly ask questions and articulate myself.

Here are the curtains I made for Tessa’s room.  They are a super-simple style and were a great first sewing machine project.  I found this fabric and bartered for it myself last summer.  Then, I realized I didn’t have enough and found the same vendor on the street.  Actually, when she saw me she waved me down and asked me if I wanted more, which was good for me because me Creole was still pretty limited!  She didn’t have it out on display, but sure enough, she ran somewhere and came back with more of the same fabric.






Her room is pink and green and the white with green polka dots is a pretty accent.  The biggest part of this project, and what used the most fabric, were the curtains made to cover her closet.

In December, I found exactly the fabric I was looking for for my room—a red and cream colored ticking stripe.  Even better, I found plenty of it.  The down side was that 2 of the 3 bolts I found had huge sections with flaws in the printing.  I bought it anyway, knowing I’ve have to “degaje” it.  There’s your Creole word for the day.  “Degaje” means to “make do with what you’ve got;  to use what you have and make it work.”  We do a lot of “degaje”ing here in Haiti.  It is very much a part of culture to “degaje.”

My Mom made us curtains for the windows when we lived in Florida that co-ordinate with our quilt.  Both have the same ticking stripe.  This time, I needed curtains for our closet and the doorway to our office.  I decided to try something a little more complicated— tab-top curtains.  This was where I wanted to throw the machine!  One day, it would be working great, and the next I couldn’t get the thread to stop snapping or the needle through the extra layers of fabric.  At one point I had to give up for two weeks because I was tired of trying to figure it out!  Thanks to help from my neighbor and advice from Rob’s cousin, Becky, I finally finished them.  They are not perfect, but after a year here, it’s nice to finally have curtains on the closet!













It’s been fun working on making our house our home in this way. I’m still on the search for the perfect fabric for the boys’ room. 

The best part?  I can look at these two projects and two things come to mind.  First, I am slowly teaching myself, through trial and error and lots of advice, how to sew.  Second, I can look at these fabrics and it reminds me the fun of learning how to go about buying stuff like this here.  It’s kind of a concrete reminder of how far my language abilities have come, and how fun it was and is, to figure it all out!