26 December 2011

A late Christmas present for Celine


I am sitting in the hangar office on December 26th. We're supposed to be closed. This stuffy tin box of an office has the six AM sun on its pieced wooden walls.

A store on Delmas, still decorated

David just called me on the HF radio to say that he left the wheelchair out front. I said, "copy that" because it sounded right...and cool. Earlier, I kicked the chocks out, and I felt useful...and cool. Earlier, I manifested three passengers, weighing them, making small talk about Christmas.


We're supposed to be closed today...but here I am, for a boy named Celine. You never realize how great electricity is, you know. If he'd had electricity, maybe he wouldn't have tried to light the fire with kerosene. That's not so bad. I've done it. You just use a little. But Celine mistook the gasoline for kerosene...and now, he probably shouldn't be alive. But he is. 

When I first approached the pilots about someone to do this flight, I expected to meet resistance. But I didn't. No one said, "we're supposed to be closed." No one said, "that's a holiday." They all said, "Make it happen; if you need my help, let me know." I had told Jim we were closed...but he didn't back down. (That's a theme in my job, by the way...people not backing down.) I suggested he try one of the other private operators--he said, "I don't trust anybody but you guys." I suggested he drive him down--he said, "He won't make it that way." His voice was somber, serious. I didn't know then how much time Jim had spent with Celine, but I know now what an advocate he's been for him. And with his help and donated airline miles and miles of paperwork and a generous Shriner's hospital in Boston, Celine is going to get the help he needs.

"FLY landing Pignon!" David yells into the HF radio. "FLY landing!" I yell back, recording the time. It's 7:20. Celine's international flight leaves at 10:30. And an MAF flight was the last piece of the puzzle. How could I say no?

When they landed, Jim picked up Celine and put him into the wheelchair...even at twelve years old, he was so slight that it wasn't hard. As I wheeled him into the terminal, I felt guilty. I wanted to take a picture of him for the blog, but I couldn't. I had my camera in hand, but I couldn't. His hands said it all--one looked as it should, brown-skinned with normal kid scratches and hangnails, while the other had clearly been engulfed in the flames, its skin white and puckered, its nails black or missing. Even in the sparse airport, people gathered around him to stare. (Americans would stare from a distance, pretending not to. Haitians don't have such inhibitions.) Jim shooed them away and by then, their ride had arrived to take them to the international terminal. His mom had the sweetest, gentlest smile, and I told her "bon voyage" and I'd be praying for her.

Please be praying for this kid and his family. You can find more updates about his trip here: www.helpceline.org

25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Yeah, the picture pretty much says it all. It's warm here, but we had a good Christmas nonetheless. In many ways, we've celebrated the day as we normally would...cinnamon rolls for breakfast, a lit tree, lots of cardboard and wrapping strewn about, spoiling my dogs with treats, Skyping with the family. I started a new Kindle book and we watched a movie, then had dinner with friends.

But now, as I'm watching a fuzzy NBA game in French, I realize that there are a few things that might be different. My sparkling cider probably cost more than yours. No one caroled me. And fireworks and noisy church service characterized my Christmas Eve, not a "silent night." Instead of temporary lights and garland, people just re-paint their whole house. This year's neighborhood theme was yellow and white...which I much prefer over Martelly pink.

But you know, the differences really didn't matter as much this year. Last year was really hard...but this year, I was able to set some of my cultural traditions aside and just embrace Haitian Christmas like it is...and it gives me some hope for myself, that if I can do Christmas so differently, maybe there's lots of other stuff I could do, too.

So here's to a different kind of Christmas. Hope you had a good one, too, wherever you may be.

21 December 2011

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday


Today, I'll be doing a "market basket survey," where my friend J and I go to different grocery stores and write down how much things cost. It's one of the ways MAF makes sure we have enough money to buy food. However, I highly doubt these will be on the list. This is actually round two for this particular survey...because we didn't read the directions. (Figures.) Pray for stamina and patience.

17 December 2011

Must be Christmas...

Because my fridge and freezer both smell like peppermint.

Because my Amazon cart is full.

Because that Hawaiian song by Bing Crosby is getting a lot of air time on my iPod.

Because It's a Wonderful Life is warming up in the DVD player. "Happy New Year to you...in jail!"

Because I still drank cocoa while trimming our cute little tree, even in 90 degree heat.

Because it's Christmas!

05 December 2011

"Nap tann ou, Jezi."

My friend M called to see if we had Bible study a few weeks ago.

I said yes, that I was just leaving my house and would be on the road soon. And although we were speaking English, she ended with a common Kreyol phrase: "Nap tann ou." (Pronunciation help: Nap rhymes with "mop," tann rhymes with "yawn," and oo is just like the sound you make when someone gives you a bar of dark chocolate. Well, I do, anyway. It also rhymes with "you.")

The phrase "nap tann ou" has bothered me for some time. Literally translated, it means, "We're waiting for you." To my American ears, it had always meant, "you will undoubtedly be late, and we'll be forced to delay until you arrive." But knowing M's good will, and that she would be glad to see me (whenever I arrived), I suddenly realized that that wasn't what she meant at all.

I realized that she meant that they'd be expecting me, that her waiting would be one of anticipation, not frustration. That to her, "nap tann ou" was an expression of love.

That she meant we're waiting for you, as a child waits for Christmas morning, as a bride waits for her wedding day, as a family waits to be reunited with a soldier finally coming home.

And in the same moment, it occurred to me that this might be what Jesus meant, too, when he said for us to wait for his return. Do I expect that? I mean, do I really expect it? Or will I be caught off guard?

Looking around at the world we live in, you'd think it would be on my mind constantly...but it's not. Maybe I'm afraid of seeming, well, fanatical. (No prompting from the studio audience, please.) From the outside, I can see how it looks. This guy, whom most of the world believes has decomposed a long time ago--we think he's coming back. That's unusual. And some of us have really gone pretty overboard about it, too, based on how I woke up this morning...to a man with a megaphone, using the acoustics of the ravine to his advantage. He was shouting the Gospel. That's not love, dude. Not at 5:30 AM or any other time of day.

And then there's those who get so excited that they start to predict silly things...I'm thinking of someone in particular. I don't want to give it away, but he's an old white guy whose last name rhymes with "stamping." That's no good, either...and frankly, sort of misses the point. In my humble opinion, it's not about when Christ comes back, it's about why, and it's about how we've spent our days and hours and minutes and seconds since then.

So here's my benediction: may our lives convey a patient excitement, a quietly strange expectation, a holy yet unobnoxious longing, a sense that we are redeemed souls who say, "Whenever you're ready...we're waiting for you. Nap tann ou, Jezi."

03 December 2011

A BIRTHday life in the life

So MAF's been doing this thing on Facebook, where they take you through "a day in the life"...and I thought, "Oh man, I bet I'm the only one who's done a BIRTHday in the life!" If "a day in the life" is good, a birthday in the life is even better, right? Right?!

So here we go. A Haitian birthday. Because YOU asked for it.


This is the dog who wouldn't go outside on my 28th birthday. She was subsequently locked inside all day and was therefore very glad to see me when I got home. VERY glad.


 This is the traffic I sat in on my 28th birthday. (Booo.)


This is the road that was freshly graded, the day before my 28th birthday...making the ride on my birthday particularly smooth. The people at the Caterpillar company have my gratitude. 

This is the slow, rusty truck I followed to church on my 28th birthday. No, wait, slow isn't the right phrase...he was excruciatingly slow. 


This is what the clock said when I rolled into church for an 8:00 Bible study on my 28th birthday. (Who said God doesn't care about the little things?) It was a small group, but they were glad to see me. I've been doing a study in English for some of the leaders in the church. And every time, they point out things I didn't think of--my 28th birthday was no exception.


This is the baby I got to hold on my 28th birthday. (He's cuter than this, I promise.) He was born about two weeks ago, and he'd just gotten back from the Embassy, where he was applying for his passport. I'm fairly sure it was a long wait. Welcome to the world, kid.

Those are the notes I took at my white lady Bible study on my 28th birthday. I Peter. Good stuff. (For those keeping score, yes, I sometimes have two Bible study groups on Fridays. I really love that book.)

These are the ladies who hugged me and prayed for me on my 28th birthday. Their friendship is a greater gift than I can express.

But Will also gave me a real gift--a lovely card made by my pseudo-nephew J and some cookies he'd helped bake. I hate to disappoint, but if you were hoping for one, you're out of luck.

This is what I ate for lunch on my 28th birthday. Classy, I know. I just can't beat peanut butter and honey for lunch. I eat like a five-year-old...and there's a pirate on my peanut butter jar.

 This is the laundry I did on my 28th birthday. (Life goes on, right? At least it wasn't by hand.)

This is the mail I got my on 28th birthday--REAL MAIL. Not catalogs. Not bills. Cards and notes, for me. Since I hadn't had any mail in two weeks, this was particularly exciting.


And there was Cooking Light. I'll be honest--I can't cook hardly anything in this magazine for lack (or expense) of ingredients...but I love looking through it anyway. 

And on my 28th birthday, we had staff meeting at my house. After the "meeting stuff," they sang to me and we ate chocolate cake. And then they indulged me while I demonstrated how Swedish angel chimes work. Yes, my house is already decorated for Christmas. Yes, it was a good birthday. 

And my husband is right now, at this moment, down in the basement, trying to put our water pump on our backup power system, so I can take a shower with pressure before we go out for a fancy-schmancy lunch. 

A happy birthday indeed. Thanks for the cards, phone calls, e-mails, and many Facebook wishes I got. 
You guys are the best.

29 November 2011

If You're Not Dead...

If Youre Not Dead by ethurphotos
In my roamings around the internet, I stumbled across this. I can't endorse the group, because I don't know enough about them, but the question they pose is interesting: Who would you give a second chance?

It's a question I've been mulling over since a conversation with our front office staff. We were discussing the fact that the U.S. is deporting a lot of Haitians at the moment. Human rights advocates in the U.S. are shocked and appalled by this, because of the earthquake-damaged-poverty-stricken-hell-on-earth-nature of Haiti (that's their opinion, not mine, by the way). But it turns out that my coworkers were upset for a different reason...

THEM: Living in the U.S. ruined those people, so they should just keep them.

ME: What do you mean, ruined? Like, made them spoiled so they can't live without their iPhones?

THEM: Yeah, spoiled. Spoiled. But spoiled because of drugs and crime. They never would have done drugs here. Drugs come from other places, so it's their problem if those people are rotten now. The U.S. has big prisons and we don't, so they should just keep them.

ME: They're not as big as you'd think.

From there, we continued a political discussion which I won't recount here (because I hated talking about it enough the first time). Suffice it to say, the outcome of the conversation was this:

"Those people are rotten."

Spoiled, like an apple is spoiled when eaten by worms. Like milk that's curdled. Like bread that's molded. Spoiled in an irreversible sense, something deep down in the nature of who they are.

I resented that. I told them so. I told them "those people" can and do change.

They disagreed...which broke my heart.

And since then, I have been thinking about human nature. I've been thinking about psychology, about prisons, about drug rehab programs, about foster homes. I've been thinking about the trash heap that these "spoiled" people grow up in. I've been thinking about how to dig them out.

I've been thinking of K, a friend here. He got deported from the U.S. after having grown up there. He lives here now (but he speaks English like a New Yorker, which makes me giggle). He has some problems...but he started coming to my church a month ago. "There's nothing like this in Haiti," he tells me. "This guy is real," he says, pointing to Seige, our pastor. "He's simple, and he preaches the Word. It's like, wow. And I watched them to see how they'd treat you, if they were asking you for stuff. But they didn't." I asked him if he was coming back, and the look I got in return told me that was a stupid question.

I'd say he's changing.

And more than anything, I've been thinking about Christ's power over life and death, over change and stagnancy. That picture at the top of the page sums it up for me: "If you're not dead, you're not done." If I don't believe that, then I don't believe the Gospel...because everyone made in God's image can find it again. We know that in God's kingdom, the deadwood gets cut down--but it doesn't take much of a bud on the branch to keep you around. If you want life--real life--you can find it there.

But on the other hand, my friends were disturbingly correct. If I won't accept God's help to change, I won't change. My vices and addictions may change, but I won't. If I remain a fan of Jesus instead of a follower, I get out of my faith what exactly what I put into it: nothing. How do I know? I've tried it. And it was a huge waste of time.

What am I trying to say? I'm not sure. Maybe just that I can't give up on those curdled milk, wormy apple, moldy bread failures. Maybe just that, as one of them, I won't.

24 November 2011

Ten Things I'm Thankful For, In No Particular Order

1. No school today. Every week day, we "get to" listen to a chorus of motorcycles, crying kids, and people chattering in Kreyol. It really ramps up just about the time we were supposed to be eating dinner...but today, school was canceled unexpectedly. I don't know how or why, but we weren't complaining.

2. Got to Skype with the fam. I could see them, and thanks to the inventors of the iPhone and the mirror, they could see me, too. Missionaries would have killed for that 100 years ago, and it's free.

3. My pumpkin pies turned out okay...even though I forgot half the milk.

4. Giant Supermarket had cranberry sauce. There's just something about it that just makes Thanksgiving.

5. Four cool kids who ate what we put in front of them, said please and thank you, wore out my dogs, and gave me hugs.

6. David took two days of vacation this week, and I went to work without him. I had no idea work would be so much more boring just by removing my husband. I was itching to get out of there at 3:00...but I got to hang out with him today and yesterday.

7. It's almost Christmas. Christmas. And after that, David's parents come to visit...I'm thankful for families who will spend time, money, and safety to see us. 

8. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to me, the precious blood of Christ that bought me (I Peter 1:24-25). I still don't deserve a drop of it.

9. I have a toilet; three, in fact. I realize how silly that sounds, but November 19th was World Toilet Day. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized how great it is to have one. Not just because I'd have to go outside at 4:30 AM to...(ahem). But "as of 14 October, about a year from the start of the epidemic, Haiti's ministry of health reported 473,649 cases of cholera and 6,631 deaths attributed to it across all 10 of the country's departments." (For the rest of the article, click here.) And I bet there a lot more going unrecorded who never make it to a hospital. But I have a toilet, and that helps more than just me.

10. You. Yes, you. You pray for us and support us, and please believe me when I say that nothing can replace it and nothing could mean more.

Happy Thanksgiving.

14 November 2011

Shameless Plug

Hey, you were warned. This is another shameless plug for SendThemForHim.com, the site that gives to our ministry support when you shop through them.

Does it cost you more money? Nope. Just time. I was curious, actually, so I timed it. Without using my bookmark, it only took me 49.4 seconds to get to Amazon.com through their site. So if you've got 45 seconds, you can help this couple stay in Haiti gratis (that means "free").

How does it work? Well, I'm glad you asked.

Step One: You'll start by opening this link in a new tab or window: http://www.sendthemforhim.com/files/Groups/Harms/MerchantList.html

Step Two: Find the store you're looking for. Click on the category next to it, and scroll down until you find it again. Click on the picture to the left to be taken to the website.

Step Three: Shop!

Step Four: Pay!

Step Five: Actually, there were only four steps. Sorry about that. I got carried away by how easy it was. Send Them For Him will automatically credit the charity percentage back to us. Elementary, my dear shopper.

As you do your Christmas shopping, please keep us in mind! We appreciate anything you can do.

13 November 2011

In which Christine tries to cram a whole weekend into one day

This morning, I did not go to church. My yard guy called me last night to see if we were coming.

O: Are you coming to church tomorrow?
Me: We'll see. I'm not sure yet.
O: I don't like it when you don't come. I want to see you. You didn't come last week.
Me: That's true. But I went to Bible study on Friday.
O: Evangelicals are supposed to go to church. It's good to be together.
Me: That's true, it is. Maybe we'll come.

But we didn't. We slept in, because both worked on Saturday and were exhausted. And now I am bravely attempting to cram an entire weekend into one day, before we must go back to work on Monday.

This morning, I locked the dogs on the porch and broke out our new basketball. "You do realize it's only 7:45 AM, don't you?" David quietly reminded me, as I started dribbling. Really? I'd already had pancakes (a weekend tradition) and answered some e-mails. I stopped to listen. Our neighbors were already up. Life here starts at 5 AM anyway.

Our yard is completely concrete. There are about three places where it's not, as if someone sighed and said, "Well, I guess if it's already growing there, we can't stop it." It's bad for plants, but perfect for basketball. I wanted to play HORSE, but we settled on PIG instead. I stumped him with my "backwards over the head" shot, but he won in the end...but only by one "G." After he beat me, we let the dogs out, to see what their reactions would be. I don't know if you've ever shown a Haitian dog a basketball, but there were two distinct reactions:

1) Gracie couldn't believe her luck. Her "grandparents" had brought this GIANT ball--just for her. She couldn't figure out why I was throwing it up into the air instead of letting her chase it, but oh man, was she ready for it. She practically bounced up and down, ears up, tail wagging, barking, as if to say, "Go ahead, throw it--I don't know how I'm going to get it into my mouth to bring it back to you, but I will find a way."

2) Nessie couldn't believe what horrible people we were. We were throwing things. It almost hit her. Her barks were meant to mean, "How dare you bring that implement of pain and torture into my yard?" When she wasn't barking, she was skulking out of range and acting incensed.

As you may have gathered, there was a lot of barking. When the ball went inside with David, Gracie stared at the back door, willing it to open. She was unsuccessful, and then heard a noise in the street and went tearing around the house to see what it was. At this point, Nessie came over to be petted to make up for the indignity of balls falling near her head. She followed me around as I watered my plants.

Nessie remained in the backyard, sleeping under the stack of black plastic chairs my parents bought me last week. She woke up briefly when I came out to put some laundry in the machine. Whites: pilot shirts, socks, underwear, white cotton shirts. Essentials, people. My goal is two loads. Ambitious, but if we don't get rain, we'll be set for most of the week.

Since then, I am planning a baby shower for a friend. Next on my list is "doing nothing." Otherwise known as "resting." If I don't, I'll be wiped this week. Let's face it: I'll probably be wiped anyway...but a nap never hurt anybody. As soon as the church in the ravine gives it a rest, maybe I'll give it a try. While I sleep, David will probably download "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," and after that, we'll listen to it and snicker while I bake him something delicious.

Ah, weekends. What would we do without them?

06 November 2011

Happy birthday, David Harms

Many of you probably have this picture on your fridge. It's a good one. We're both smiling, and we look very "put-together," like good missionaries should. You probably love it.


Here's the one I love. We were supposed to be seriously trying to take the picture for our prayer card, and here's David, making faces and cracking me up. I wish you could all put this picture on your fridge, because this is the real David, right here. That quiet guy who comes to your meetings and sits in church and flies you around in airplanes? He's just fronting. This is him. Right there.


So here's to my 28-year-old husband...I'm late, but I'm sincere. Thanks for another year of cracking me up when I need it the most. Thanks for loving me so well, even when you don't feel like it. Thanks for your helpfulness, your integrity, your good advice. Thanks for being David Harms...no one else could do it so well. Happy birthday.
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23 October 2011

Home "improvements"

(Side note: I'm feeling better. Thanks for the prayers! Now on the more important things...)

There are a few things that are better about the new house:

1) Getting in and out of the gate is a one-man job...provided there are no four-year-old children standing in front of it. (We live across the street from a school.)

2) I have nice neighbors.

3) We get a lot of city power. Seriously.

But the best thing...the best thing...is the shower. Don't misunderstand me, now. Since long before I moved here, I have been a member of the Society for Scalding H2O Which is Ever Ready...yes, that spells SHOWER (mostly). I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a missionary who isn't a member. We should have a fan page on Facebook...but it might be misinterpreted.

At first, we were being cheap and unplugged the water heater when we weren't immediately using it. However, since then, we've figured out that the water stays warm, even when the power goes off. A warm trickle down your back is better than a cold trickle down your back. When the power is off, the water pump doesn't work. We should hang a sign that says "This shower brought to you by gravity." It's a pretty great invention, really.

The only hitch in my giddyup is that I'll wait as long as possible...to see if the power comes on...to get hotter water. Contentment really is illusive, isn't it?

Happy almost-Monday.

P.S. Pictures are coming. Soon-ish.

12 October 2011

99.4 degrees

That's my temperature.

Because I'm sick.

Like, for real, sick.

I'm achy.

I have a headache.

My throat feels like someone scraped it with a rusty something. 

I feel the need to be pitied.

And the best way to know I'm sick is that I am watching M*A*S*H re-runs with the blanket I bought in Mexico is wrapped around my shoulders.

Oh, I'm drinking Gatorade, too. (That's just for you, Mom.)

Prayers appreciated.

(Sniff.)

07 October 2011

His Song for Me

I was going to blog about something else entirely today, but this is too good to keep to myself.

At the top of this blog, it says "A chronicle of God's faithfulness." That's true. This is a record, a testimony, of what God's done for us and who He is.

The background to this post is that I've been discouraged. There's a lot of reasons why, which I may go into later. But I'm discouraged. I don't want to be. I'm trying not to be, but I am. One of the ways I fight discouragement is through worship. While I wash dishes or cook dinner or exercise, I listen to a podcast or music that gets my head right again.

Today, I was gone for an hour and a half to Bible study two houses down the street. In that time, someone broke through the window I'd just re-screened to steal my iPod off the dining room table. My old iPod, with a scratched screen. It wasn't even an iPod Touch, people. It was old school...but it was mine.

I cried.

Then I felt dumb for crying over something as stupid as "stuff."

Then I cried again.

Maybe it's because it made me feel unsafe. Maybe it's because it was so petty. Maybe it's because I'll miss the worship and the podcasts that kept my head right. Or maybe it's all of those, paired with my previous discouragement. I don't know.

But here's what happened next...

Still crying and angry, I pulled my Kindle off the bedside table, intending to read the Bible for a while, but instead, I opened up a book called Trusting in His Goodness. The first thing written on the page was this:

One of the ways God delights in you and expresses His love for you is in song. It's not just any song. Imagine the exquisite beauty of the sound when the very Creator of music sings over you. Every other piece of music is a feeble reflection. God sings over you and is committed to you. 

I couldn't make this stuff up. And although I couldn't hear it, I knew it was true. God took a moment of brokenhearted discouragement, however silly, and showed me His love all over again. It's a daily love, you know. The kind that can heal all hurts. The kind of love that knows each and every one.

And today, I heard the symphony of God's love for me all around, even without an iPod.

01 October 2011

Remembering Her


I used this picture as a teaser a few months ago, promising to tell you more about my trip to Minneapolis. Much like this picture, it was glorious.

Traveling to and from Haiti is always an adventure, I’m finding. As we have already covered, I don’t do culture shock well, so that’s a factor. But 30 hours of travel time and 5 airplanes (including one that didn’t fly) were a factor, too… I don’t love traveling by myself, and immigration agents make me really nervous. (It’s my country—why can’t I just come in?)

But it was so worth it. 


This is my grandmother. It made her really, really happy that I came. It wasn’t cheap to send me, but she’s been there for me my whole life. Like, literally. The school concerts, the soccer games, the plays, all of it. So with David’s blessing, I did my best to “complete the set,” because all she wanted for her 90th birthday was to have the whole family together. 


And so together we came. I don’t remember who said it, but at the time, we commented on how nice it was to be together, celebrating something awesome. I caught up with family I hadn’t seen in over fifteen years. I laughed with aunts and uncles. I read books to my first cousins once-removed. I walked to ice cream with my parents and my sister and my cousin. We played a ridiculous game. We toughed out the rain and cold for family photos (taken by the fabulous NoemiPhotography). We talked late into the night. (I told you it was glorious.)


And on Sunday afternoon, when some family had gone for a walk (and some were napping), I sat in a lawn chair in the sun with my grandmother. I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure time slowed to a stop for us. She wasn’t quite the woman she’d always been. After all, ninety years take their toll. She couldn’t see the birds in the yard, so I described a few to see if we could identify them. We chatted a about life in Haiti, past family functions. I got to hear her infectious laugh.  

Then, time resumed its normal speed, and the people napping woke up and the people walking came back. I threw things back into a suitcase (including some rhubarb I was praying made it through customs) and headed home. Over the next two weeks, I settled back into life here with the husband I love.
 
And then she died.

If you didn’t feel prepared for that, I’m sorry, but I wasn’t prepared for it, either. The doctors say it was a heart attack, but I just think she was ready. She had known and loved Jesus for a long time. She got to love on all of us one more time. Her eyes were failing, and her ears, and her lungs…ninety years. For twenty-seven of those, she was there for me, and I’m grateful I got to hang out with her that weekend. 


My family celebrated her life today, minus me. But I’m there in spirit. Today, I remember her. You can’t encapsulate a woman like this in one blog post, so it’s tempting not to try…but I think I must.

She used words like “maven.” She had the patience to sit with me and my sister while we fed the ducks for the millionth time or sewed plastic canvas projects for my mom, her daughter-in-law. She believed in using all the cookie dough…no snitching from the bowl. She went places like China and Micronesia…and yet, when others walked out, she stayed. She delighted in being part of our lives, however mundane.


She read with me. She read in front of me. She fell asleep reading, God only knows how many times. She took the time to read this blog (once she increased the font to a readable size for ninety-year-old eyes). She had access to the secret world of the library, behind the desk (I was consumed with jealousy over this). Before I could even see over the counter, I remember going in and asking to see her, as if it was totally normal for all grandmothers to be found in libraries.

She did not abide pretense or politeness when the truth was better. When I was five, I greeted her and a friend with the information that my cat peed on the rug and my daddy slept in his underwear…and she loved it. She laughed out loud and wouldn’t have dreamed of scolding me. When she thought I shouldn’t get married at twenty, she told me so. When I visited her while I was in college on a break, even when I didn’t know what to say, she still appreciated it and told me so.

 
Part of me feels betrayed that she left…I have more life left to live, after all, and I’ve never had to do it without her. But I have hope left, too, and it’s holding firm to the belief that she lives in God’s presence. I don’t know if she can see me. In fact, I highly doubt it. But I don’t doubt the promise of God, that she’s living a life eternal, because she trusted in Jesus Christ.

But I still miss her. 

Thanks for your prayers for my family.

30 September 2011

Nessie


This is Anyen. In Kreyol, her name means "nothing." That's the first name I gave her, the day we found her on the property at the old house. This was the expression she had on her face, pretty much all the time. That is, if you could get close enough to see her expression. It was a big property, and she'd just run away if you tried to come close.

I thought about having her put down. She seemed pretty...useless. She was skinny and her fur was falling out all over the place. According to the landlord, the people who had rented the house before us just left her there. She survived for weeks? months? on mangoes and rain water. I fed her some leftover beans, but she still wouldn't come within six feet of me.

And then, we had to change her name. Someone tried to come over our wall--pulled down the razor wire--and she protected us. So, David suggested Anyen's name be changed to Onesimus...from "nothing" to "useful," just like that. I call her Nessie for short, and several other adorable nicknames, the best of which is "Happy-Ness."


Some of you may remember that we moved last weekend. Our first dog, Grace, waltzed into the new yard, sniffed around, plopped herself down the in the gallery and fell asleep. Nessie wasn't so sure. First of all, she was just sure we were going to leave her. Just sure. So when we piled her into the car with the dog food and the toys, she didn't dare hope.

The days that followed have been...a little rough. She was never an escape artist...before we moved. She'd never have sneaked into the house...before we moved. (You should have seen her trying to get footing on the tile floors as I dragged her back out. I would have been amused if I wasn't so mad.)

If we leave, she cries. If we go into the garage where she can't see us, she cries. If I feed her, she cries. Let's see, maybe it would be easier to list when she doesn't cry: when I'm petting her or when she's sleeping. To be fair, there are other moments...but they feel few at the moment.


Out of pity, I tried bringing her down to the garage when I worked on screening the back door. She seemed a little happier, but thought she'd be even more happy crawling under the front gate. Sigh. When I finished the door, I picked up her leash and started up the stairs...only to find myself rudely jerked backwards. She looked up at me...and lay down. "Come on, Ness, let's go." No response. No tail thumping against the concrete. No smiles (see above). Nothing. She put her head down on the concrete.

As I carried her up the stairs, much to the amusement of several Haitian onlookers, I realized I must really care about this dog...or she'd be back out on the street. Please pray for patience for us as we all settle in!

Other than Nessie's tough adjustment, things are going pretty well, thanks to help from our neighbor Todd especially. As a nice change, this house actually gets city power (unlike the last one, where they inexplicably cut us off for two months...thank God for generators).

I'm supposed to go back to work scheduling on Monday, but we're both home sick today. Please pray for quick healing, as there's still a lot to be done around here.

25 September 2011

Move = win, First night = fail

The move was a complete success--thanks to all who helped and those who prayed! As far as I can tell so far, only one breakage (and a very cheap one at that). The group started at 9:00 and was done by 11:30, except for the generator. We'd planned to have friends from church come and help with it, but these missionary guys--once you get them on a project, they don't stop until it's done! So they powered through and finished it off. We polished off a few peanut butter sandwiches with some Cokes, and they all went on their way.

Well, not all of them. Jeff, a guy I just met, stayed to help us break up a waterbed. It was not a fun task, but he gave up a trip to go sightseeing to stay and help. I seriously cannot tell you what that meant to me. It was unspeakably helpful.

And then came night...where we realized that electricity without fixtures that work still equals darkness.

My dog whimpered all night and threw herself against the gate.

I went out in the rain trying to help my dog and got soaked.

We couldn't get the bed frame together (after finding all the pieces, we finally did).

I killed five cockroaches and got bit by mosquitoes.


David didn't really sleep.


So the move was a win, but the first night was a bit rough. Thanks for your prayers as we settle in, unpack, and start to fix this place up and make it home.

24 September 2011

Moving Day

It's 5:22 AM, and I don't know why I'm blogging. The Hurricane is still asleep, or I'm sure we'd be madly throwing food into coolers and taking apart the bed. We were up pretty late last night (okay, so it was like 10:30. That's late for me), so I'm glad he's still sleeping. When I woke up at 4:30, he woke up momentarily.

When I woke up at 4:30, there was a crescent moon framed in my window, with an echo, because the windows overlapped. I got up to look out, and the neighborhood was dark. Just a tropical forest's silhouette against the breaking dawn. Not a streetlight, not a headlight, not a security light to be seen.

As the sun came up, I took a moment to say goodbye to the house. The roosters were crowing (which just means they're not dead), and my dogs stayed fast asleep.

I still don't know why I'm blogging when they are pictures to be taken off the walls...but thanks for listening.

21 September 2011

Wordless Wednesday

 Part of the pile...it's a growing pile. 

The view from above. Might need more boxes.

My faithful helpers. Dogs sure know how to live.

15 September 2011

On the Move

There is a power drill in my kitchen. There are ceiling fan blades in my entryway. And when I went to grab a Pyrex bowl, there were none to be found.

Something's happening around here.

I think it has to do with moving. In eight days, fourteen hours and seven minutes, I'm moving. It's not far--less than a mile--but in many ways, it's the weirdest move I've ever done.

For one thing, I was friends with the previous tenants...that's new. For some reason, it's made it more important to make this place "our own," maybe only because I've seen it under different circumstances. I keep catching myself calling it their house instead of mine.

It's my house. Mine, mine, mine.

But so is this one...and I'll still have to drive by this one every day. Every other time I've moved, I've left town--literally. I don't even have to change my mailing address this time.

It's weird. I'm trying to pretend it's easy, but it's not. It's weird.

There's a joke that MAF stands for "Move again, Friend" instead of "Mission Aviation Fellowship." I knew it was a good possibility...but we've already moved three times since we got here. At the same time, there are good things about the new place that I'm looking forward to.

For instance, I'm looking forward to being next door to...the pool. Well, and the friends who own it. We'll have our own basketball hoop. We'll be off the busy street. We'll have hot water. (And all our guests say "hallelujah.")

But I'm leaving the entryway that Simeon, Cathy, Randy, Sandy, and Carol painted for me. And I'm leaving the plants I put into the ground. And I'm leaving my awesome kitchen, my indoor laundry hanging spot, my dedicated workout room.

Since MAF's already put money into the new house, I guess I'll go through with it. The funny thing is that once my cookbooks are on the counter, I'll probably never look back.

Thanks for sticking with us, move after move.

14 September 2011

Wordless Wednesday


This little truck is far pretty from home...just like us.

05 September 2011

Funny Food


It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's SUPER SEEDS! (Super powers not included.)

29 August 2011

Running towards the storm

I have a new job. I'm scheduling all the planes for MAF Haiti. It's taken some getting used to, but I'm finally starting to get the hang of it and really enjoy it. (Don't tell the guy I replaced, or I might become permanent.)

Last week, I'd been e-mailing back and forth with Medical Teams International (Shameless hometown organization shout out! I remember back when they were NW Medical Teams.) about two paralyzed patients who needed to get home. They've been getting treatment here in PAP, but were both originally from northern Haiti. We'd worked out a flight that was about an hour and a half long to two different locations, Cap Haitian and Port-de-Paix. Collectively, they saved at least ten hours of driving. It felt really good to put them in that plane.

We'd made the manifest, filed the flight plan, tied down the baggage, loaded in one patient and were about to load the second one, when the guy from MTI stopped me. He covered the mouthpiece of his phone. "There's a problem," he said softly. Uh-oh. I know I have an official-looking clipboard, but I'm the new guy. No problems, please.

Apparently, somehow, another passenger had found out we were going to Port-de-Paix and wanted to get a seat. MTI wanted to bump the paramedic and put this guy on instead.

"Is he here?" I asked. "If he's not here, he can't go." He was here. Ready, waiting. Hopeful. I weighed him up and rushed him out, since the plane was already late leaving. He was over his weight allowance, so he gave his cheese to a pastor. (I'm not sure if that will make sense to you, but if you lived here, you'd know just what I mean.) As we're hurrying across the wide, open cement plain of the airport, he says to me: "You have no idea what a blessing this is. My wife had to go through the last hurricane by herself. This is great!"

And that's when it hit it me: this guy is running into Hurricane Irene. He's running towards the storm. He lived through Hurricanes Gustav, Hannah, and Ike--he knows what he's getting into. And he's still hurrying home...for his wife.

Oh, for a love that truly knows what "selfless" means.

25 August 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Found on the MAF hangar fridge...gee, I wonder why they don't advertise this more?

23 August 2011

Presence

As many can attest, I'm excitable. Well, excitable is the nice way to say it. My sister would probably say I "freak out" about things. It's probably true.

This is our third tropical storm since we've been here...her name is Irene. She's actually a hurricane, but the hurricane part of her won't be coming to Haiti, praise God. Weather websites like to put up scary pictures like the one below. Originally, Irene was forecast to come right across Port-au-Prince. As David put it this morning, "I'm starting to not trust those guys." I concur.



Her presence here has largely gone unnoticed, so far. She was supposed to hit us during the night, which I much prefer, because no one is out on the street without shelter. (Well, okay, some people are. We'll pray the prostitutes take the night off.) The airport has closed a few airstrips, mostly in the north.

But it's another presence I'm feeling right now. And it's probably unspiritual, but it's David's presence that's affecting me.

Last night, as I was folding laundry, I was reflecting on the fact that I'm not freaking out about Irene. I'm not worried about it, really. Trying to figure out why that was, it hit me: it's David. Usually, he goes off to work on days like this, and I sit around and speculate about how it's going down there. But now that I'm working at the hangar (a whole other blog post), I'm here...with him.

I've been a couple with this guy for ten years. That has an effect on a person. We just had our seventh wedding anniversary on Sunday, and with every one that goes by, I become more and more convinced that I'd be a lot worse off without him. So it's good to have him nearby today...and every day. And as much as it's been a challenge to be working in the same office together, it's also a blessing.

On the theme of presence, I've been thinking a lot about all the short-term missions teams here. I don't think they usually cause any harm. They come, they love, they leave. But as I was reflecting, I think what Haiti really needs is people to come and live their faith here in a normal, everyday way. It's not that most Haitians don't believe in God--He is constantly on their lips. "See you tomorrow, if God wills" is a common way to say goodbye. Their tap-taps write His name in big red letters. Church attendance is a badge of honor.

It's not that they don't believe--it's that they're not transformed by that belief. It changes nothing. As James writes, even demons believe in God, but they don't act accordingly. We all need to see believers who act accordingly, who let this good news stain every part of their lives. People for whom nothing is exempt from the scrutiny of the Holy Spirit, who convicts us concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.

People like my pastor, S. When I was teaching English, I got a "TA"...R sat in the back of the classroom and didn't say much, but he spoke great English and obviously enjoyed our classes. He was hoping to be hired for the next session. When the next session list came out, I was shocked to find out that R wasn't teaching. When I asked Pastor S, his answer humbled me: "He was a good teacher, but we weren't sure about his walk with God." R wouldn't have been teaching Bible study, but that was irrelevant to Pastor S. He didn't want any ungodly example in front of these students. He wanted leaders who could lead from the inside out. What humbled me is that he sensed that in me...I hope it's true.

May God keep changing us with His presence and may others be drawn to emulate that Presence in us.