30 December 2013

Silence Broken

We've been home about three months now, and I've become very forgetful. Please forgive my silence--consider it meditation. You see, it's really easy to forget a lot of things.

Some of them are the daily realities of Haiti that seem to be on another planet. In an attempt to not sensationalize our life there, I don't write about them all that much, but reading a friend's blog today, it jogged my memory. The smell of urine on the street; the constant sweat on my brow; being browbeaten by ladies selling things on the street; the terrible customer service; the relentless begging; the stares, not unfriendly, but always there. 

I remember it, but it feels like another life.

But I'm not sure whose life I'm living here, either. Being on furlough is a bit like piecing together a quilt from scraps...you've borrowed a little from everyone and you keep staring at the pieces, not sure how (or if) it'll all fit together. I've been staring at the pieces, probably too much. Just staring, sometimes in tears, cognizant of the passage of time and the smallness of my own ability to keep things together. I don't have a pattern for this. I'm working without a net here. 

In this pregnant pause, this silence, I know you've been praying for us. I can tell, because I'm not in a puddle on the floor like I should be. I know, because despite everything I've forgotten, God is faithful still to remember for me and remind with grace. And I know because some of you have stopped and pressed pause on your regularly scheduled lives to listen with me and to me, and it meant a lot. 

Every Christmas, we sing Silent Night. Forgive me for saying so, but every Christmas, I think it's the dumbest song I ever heard. I don't need a God who doesn't cry. I need one who can feel my pain when I've pricked my finger with the needle for the thousandth time trying to piece the patchwork together my own way. I need a God who's perfect in His love, not perfectly proper. I need a God who can enter into the silence and be the light who illuminates my darkness with more than radiant beams from a sweet face.

Merry Christmas to me--that's exactly what I've got.

09 September 2013

On this ground

Three-and-a-half years ago when I moved to Haiti, I mentioned to my program manager that the dirt in Haiti was very pervasive. "The dust of the Sahara," he said. I needed a bit more explanation. He explained that the weather would carry dust across the Atlantic from Africa and deposit it in Haiti--that's why it was so fine, fine enough to be carried on the wind. I don't know if it's true, but I thought that was a very good story.

I reached into my suitcase to pull out a sweatshirt (60 degrees? There might as well be snow on the ground.), and I heard some dirt fall to the floor. So many MAFer's have passed through these apartments on furlough or for training...how many kinds of dirt are ground into this carpet? Maybe that's gross, but I found it kind of romantic to think of all these airplane-flyers and Gospel-spreaders traipsing into Idaho with the dust of Kalimantan and Nairobi and San Jose still on their feet.

And as it always does, my first few days in the U.S. confirm that I don't know how to do life here anymore. We took a wrong turn leaving the airport, and David's dad backed up. We agreed later--we would've just driven over the curb. I went to make some spaghetti and thought, "Gee, I haven't checked the filter today--I hope we have enough water...", forgetting that there's potable water even in my toilet. I felt guilty about running the dishwasher. I was excited to go to church because I could sing in English...but found I didn't know any of the words. Well, I take that back--I did know the last song.

Holy, holy, holy!  Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy!  Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

"Thee," a word I recently learned is akin to the "you" in  "hey you." A sentiment of informality, it's like when you call your mom and say, "It's me," and she knows just who you are. This mighty God, whose presence without mercy would be fatal, we sing to you. We announce how unapproachable you should be, and then, just to show that we know you're not, we say "hey you." Because as the pastor said in his sermon, humility comes from the word for dust. "Humus," which as all gardeners know, is the nutrient-filled soil that holds in the water. Humus is messy--but there's a richness to it as well.

He remembers, even when I forget, that I may be covered in the dust of the nations, but I am also formed from it. And in that space, maybe I can carve out a home wherever I am. I am thankful that there are others who are processing their messy culture shock publicly and also "seem like a moronic or drunk adult to anyone spying on you while you wander around the grocery store." (Thank you, Tara Livesay.) If nothing else, I know I am not alone. 

We will spend a week in Nampa, Idaho, and then be on to new dust in the Portland/Vancouver area. Thanks for your prayers for a time of good communication and connection here at headquarters before we hit the road once more. 

15 August 2013

Ready or not...

To say that I have furlough on the brain is like saying that Billy Graham is mildly religious. But my brain doesn't know if it's coming or going. For instance:

I forgot how to spell "grocery." (It really seemed like it needed an 'h.')

I was concerned about buying drinking water for Peter in Ft. Lauderdale on a tight connection...and then I remembered about drinking fountains.

At staff meeting, we mentioned a friend who was starting a new job. "Yes," I say, "but it doesn't start until August." The date was August 9th.

I spend most of my free time alternating between making lists of things to pack or buy in the States and knitting hats and scarves.

Pete thought the mittens made for an excellent toy to push across our tile floors, but couldn't imagine why he'd want to put them on his hands in 80 degree weather.

Yes, my perpetual summer baby is in for a shock...but only if my stressed-out brain can get us that far. The emotions of leaving have caught me off-guard, as usual. I was standing in church, singing in Kreyol, and the thought of having no one to sing with in Kreyol in the States seemed tragic. I teared up. I need a break--I'm stretched to the limit, and I know that. I've seen God going above and beyond our needs regarding housing, both here and there, so I know he's in this.

But what are you supposed to do when leaving and staying both seem impossible? How do I keep my mind focused on today? How do I convince my heart not to break? 

If I figure it out, I'll let you know. Ready or not, we leave in three weeks...oy.

03 August 2013

Funny food

Is it fish? Is it...edible?

Sometimes, things just don't translate. I'm going to assume it's not meant for kids.

Ack! Remove that apostrophe immediately! 

25 July 2013

Why I Still Have No Yarn

You know how I had no more yarn? You know how I wished I had more of that lovely self-striping yarn?

I had 15 skeins literally dropped in my lap by a friend who's leaving Haiti, who had no idea I was doing a knitting class until today. Awesome.

Of course, it's all gone again now...but that's what's supposed to happen. They veritably skipped home with their skeins today! 

24 July 2013

Why I have no more yarn

I am still fuzzy on the details of how it happened, and I swear it becomes less clear as time goes on. Last year, when my wonderful mom-in-law suggested that she bring a small team down, we brainstormed and prayed about what we could teach. We thought about sewing, but they don't have reliable power, and we can't buy them all machines. Administrative skills? Parenting? Then someone (they claim it was me--I am still skeptical) said, "What about knitting?" It wasn't really cultural...I didn't know anyone here who knit, but then again, it would be sustainable once they had the needles, inexpensive, practical...it seemed perfect.

And though the first day was rocky, and I wasn't sure they'd come back, it was an incredible week. I watched these ladies go from timid, frustrated, sloppy knitters to confident artisans creating their own patterns. It was assuredly one of my favorite things I've been involved in here.

And that's the backdrop to how I got roped into teaching knitting to 51 middle school kids at my church's kids' camp this week. Confused? Oh, I haven't even gotten to the good parts yet. On Tuesday last week, I was dropping off a car seat at church...and somehow, by the time I left, I'd tentatively agreed to teach the middle grade kids to knit during the kids' camp for their "manual work" session. (Of course, the title made me think they should be breaking rocks, but knitting's way cooler.) M said she'd text me and let me know how many kids were registered on Thursday. I counted up my supplies: I had 14 pairs of needles, 8 pairs of scissors, and more yarn than I could shake a stick at, thanks to the generous ladies of Women of Worth at Rolling Hills. I felt pretty good about it.

Then she texted me: 40 kids had registered. 40. FOR-TY. I know, I know, it's a very Biblical number and probably had great significance, but I didn't have the resources for that. I shared my concern that trying to find more needles in Port-au-Prince could be a "needles in a haystack" experience, pun intended. Even if we could find them, I wasn't sure that the church could afford them.

Then I thought back to my VBS/Girl scout days...finger knitting. No needles required. Weaving the yarn back and forth on your fingers like a loom, you could make really useful things like...a scarf. (Not terribly useful in Haiti unless you live in Kenscoff, where it's like, 65 degrees. In other words, freezing.) Also, you could make a belt...or something else that's long and skinny like a belt.

Okay, so the actual products would be a bit dull. But it was something. Not getting great answers from M due to a family emergency and running out of minutes on her phone meant that I ran with the idea I had. And run with it I have...I carefully prepared for 40 kids, each with their own brown paper bag with a skein of yarn and a group number. I separated out the yarn to give each group a variety of colors to try to curtail the complaining (i.e. "That's a girl color.") I found someone to watch Peter. (I know what you're thinking--"Like that's hard? He's adorable." Can't argue with you there.) I had Sharpies, which are essential to any endeavor with children as far as I'm concerned. I was totally ready. 

And then 51 kids showed up. That was NOT a Biblical number, and the only great significance of it was that I had no idea if I had enough yarn. I literally asked God to multiply whatever was in the box to make it enough--if it worked with bread and fish, maybe acrylic and cotton were up for it, too. And He did. There was a skein for everyone. Not to be dramatic, but it was kind of a miracle.

I had anticipated the "This is a girl color" argument, but not the "This skein is too small and will not last long enough" argument. This young man chose the pink because there was more of it, and he wasn't the least bit embarrassed until I accidentally told him that he looked beautiful instead of handsome in Kreyol. Even then, there was so. much. pride. (Note the teacher in the background styling a green fuzzy belt. Awesome.)

This is J. She was lucky to get some of the "self-striping" yarn, and I wished I'd had more. The first day was chaotic, and we ended up throwing everything back into the boxes in bags with just the group numbers. In the messiness of it all, her knitting came apart. On Day 2, she quietly started over. The same thing happened yesterday--when I came into our narrow cement classroom this afternoon, there it was, a lump of sad tangles and snarls. I said nothing to her, but watched her patiently start over again...this was the result today. Victory.

This is W. I had showed them a headband and a place mat as an example...and looked over to see him knitting with three strands together. I'd never even thought of that, never seen anyone do it before. Pinterest's got nothing on this kid. I have few greater joys than watching students go from "I can't..." to "Gee, I guess I did..." to "If I could do this, I wonder if I could..."

How did it happen? Again, I say--unclear. It's all a mystery. Much like the second day I came to class, when they started calling me "Tatie Christine," which is like "auntie" for a woman you're not actually related to. They call me over 1,000 times to see how far they've come. We laugh. We start over when necessary. And today, when our time was unexpectedly cut short, I was literally tearing the yarn off their fingers to get them to leave.

Please pray for our remaining two days of class to be fruitful...and not just regarding scarves and belts.

23 June 2013

When Culture Meets Kingdom

We pull into the grass parking lot/soccer field at 6:50 AM. "Wow," David comments, "we made good time. Must be all the roads they've been paving lately." He opens the back door and pulls Peter out of his carseat. I put a new outfit on him today--a lime green polo onesie with matching plaid overalls--and he looks sharp. He's wearing small brown sandals with velcro straps, because all babies must wear shoes, whether they can walk yet or not. Nowhere does culture stand out more than at church. Nowhere do I learn more about Haitians and more about God's kingdom...sometimes simultaneously.

We stop to get a friendly "cheek-to-cheek" kiss from our pastor, who's pulled up in an SUV with most of the kids from the church's orphanage in the back. They press their hands on the window to say hi to me...I am very recognizable, and they always remember me, though I've only visited twice. The group wanders toward the large open metal structure that reminds me of a covered play area at a park. The corrugated metal roof serves its purpose, keeping off the sun, and the ushers are turning on the overhead fans mounted on cross beams. On either side of the projector screen are vinyl outdoor signs which, in French, say: "The church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners." I notice another white couple, and I think I recognize her from the Haiti Missionary and Expat Facebook group. (Yes, there is such a thing, and it is super helpful.)

There's only a handful of people in the plastic lawn chairs which are neatly arranged in narrow rows and columns, and we make our way toward our normal seats. We tried a new place last week, which turned out to have serious drawbacks. Our normal spot is near the middle, yet out of the direct blast of the large speakers which are positioned at an angle "so everyone can hear." (Since my MAF coworkers half a mile away can hear, I wouldn't worry about that so much if I were them.) We are close enough for me to see Serge's face, which is essential for foreign language preaching comprehension, and David is on the aisle so he can stretch out his legs.

The first song is in Kreyol, and Peter plays on David's lap. The second song is in French, and Peter's decides it's time to nurse. I prefer to nurse him through the worship time, because it's easier to cover his ears. Between the heat, the milk, and the singing, he dozes off. The third song is in French, but I know it in English, so that makes the translation easier. Then I realize that they've changed some of the meaning in order to preserve the rhyme...so that makes translation tougher.

The last song is a favorite, and we sing with gusto in French: "Soldiers of Christ and Haitians / We are citizens of heaven / In the word of God / we find our only true happiness. / Save, Lord; bless our beloved Haiti! / Our small nation is advancing to Zion. / To God, dedicate yourself. / Make Jesus your king. / Save, Lord; bless our beloved Haiti!" I feel silly for singing...but I too love Haiti. I too want to see her saved, and there I stand, a citizen of heaven with them.

We've barely started into Hebrews 13 when Peter wakes up. David is my Bible-holder, but we're both lost, so I swap him the baby for the book. A small girl in a white dress with pink flowers is edging down our row, I assume to use the bathroom, so I move my purse to let her through...but she stops in front of David. She takes Peter's hands, and he squeals with delight. She watches him with fascination, but doesn't smile. Then she doesn't leave. David looks at me helplessly as Peter tries to kick her in the face in his excitement. For five minutes, she stands there, leaning against David's knees...staring. I try to talk to her quietly, noticing her gold bracelet and necklace. "Did you come to see the baby?" She stares at me. "Where's your mama?" She looks back at Peter. The lady to my right tries to coax her away from Peter, but she quietly resists. Finally, her dad, who probably thought she did go to the bathroom, came and led her back to her seat by the hand.

Of course, by now, we're into verse three: Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Serge puts a picture of Chuck Colson up on the screen and talks about how he started Prison Fellowship. If I understood him right, he's been working with their curriculum here, and he's hoping to expand into every prison in Haiti. I knew we had weekly Bible studies going into all the prisons in the Port-au-Prince area--men's, women's and juvenile. This one man's faithfulness, he says, is benefiting Haiti as well. Don't underestimate the influence of your faithfulness.

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. "Check your brakes," he tells us. "We often think it's not infidelity to have sex before marriage, but that's not loving someone as a brother, as verse 1 says. I have blood, too," he says with a grin, and we snicker. "But that's why I'm married. We have a class here, and if you complete it, we'll marry you. But we want you to know what you're getting into and why it's important. If you're not married, check your brakes. Honor marriage, even before you start it." 

This sounds like a "duh" moment to my American ears, but I know that many people in Haiti are common-law married. It's a point of contention amongst missionaries--is that good enough? If they're faithful to each other, what's the problem? I always try to let my Haitian friends and the Bible guide me on cultural issues, and from what he's saying, Serge seems to come down on the "not good enough" side. Because there often isn't fidelity, I know, and some people jump into marriage because she's pregnant, and that's a pretty stressful way to start a life together. But there's all these cultural demands that Haitians put on marriage: you have to own a mattress, which is expensive. There has be a big ceremony, which is expensive. You can't use birth control, which is expensive because kids are expensive. I appreciate how our church is trying to cut through the static and give people an affordable option.

And I sit there reflecting on how I want to reflect the kingdom, not my culture, in Haiti. I can reflect because David sweetly took Peter out, who was punctuating the sermon with noises like this: "BLAH-BLAH-NA-NA-NA! GAAAAA!" He's a cool kid, for sure. Most moms with young children just don't come to church, or they leave the baby with a relative. Not really an option for me, and I'm very self-conscious about his noises, happy though they may be, because their kids are always so well-behaved and quiet. 

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,“Never will I leave you; / never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence,“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. / What can mere mortals do to me?” You wouldn't think that a church in an impoverished country would need to hear this...but he turns it around. "Do you use your money for yourself, or for your children? Don't steal their dreams. Don't steal their future. Send them to good schools. Have confidence in God that He'll take care of you. That's the context when Paul says in Philippians that he can do everything through Christ who strengthens him--whether he's hungry or full, having plenty or in want. It's a verse about money--not that you can get anything or do anything in the name of Christ. The context is important." 

The context is important, indeed. And my context is here, putting shoes on my baby. Kissing my pastor. Worshiping outside. Listening and learning how they apply the same words here and now. Finding God faithful to this small nation, advancing to Zion. May we advance with her.

13 June 2013

Only Six Months...

Here's the little guy who turned our lives upside six months ago...

He is eager to help and explore. 

He is very good at putting things in his mouth. Even things you don't want in there. Like your watch.

He has finally succumbed to the reality that yes, Mom and Dad will make him do tummy time. He loves to roll, particularly at 2 AM. 

This is what happens when you let him hold the speech bubble.

Can it have only been six months? How is that possible? He has made leaps and bounds in that time, dragging us along with him as we figure out how to not only keep him alive, but help him become a person you'd want to be around as well.

Happy half-birthday, sweet Pete! We love you, little dude.

06 June 2013

Lessons learned after an appendectomy

Lesson 1: if a book called "Where There is no Doctor" tells you to find a doctor based on your symptoms, you're in trouble.

Lesson 2: if you're in the hospital on trash collection day and you live in a hot, humid climate, you should text your house helper and ask her to put it out for you. No, really; you should.

Lesson 3: Spending the night in the hospital overseas might be the worst night of your life, but it is not the worst thing that can happen to you. We saw evidence of the worst thing lying on a gurney on our way out, wrapped and toe-tagged.

Lesson 4: if your son has been making mild progress toward mobility, this will be the week he begins to take leaps and bounds. Like this morning, when he leapt forward six inches. Seriously?!

Lesson 5: when you are ill, you find out how many people in this world really care about you. At least in my case, it's a lot, and that's humbling. 

I am definitely on the mend and starting to feel a bit better today. Thanks, guys. Please pray for a smooth follow-up appointment tomorrow. 

02 June 2013

Bed 9B

That's me. I'm the "blan" in Bed 9B at Bernard Mevs hospital in Port-au-Prince. I have appendicitis. I cannot sleep. The fourteen-year-old boy in 9A has been vomiting and has a high fever. Currently, his mom is yelling at him for peeing on the tile floor. He is apologizing over and over, and I feel for him. 

My own baby is spending the night with someone else for the first time. I am not worried about him, but I do miss him. When we arrived at the hospital at 8:00 this morning, we had no idea what kind of day we were in for. He was such a good boy, playing contendedly in his car seat for most of the morning, chewing on the big red feet of his frog toy. That's his favorite. I know, because I'm his mom...but right now, I can't be. That almost hurts more than the pain the morphine isn't cutting through. 

Our MAF neighbors kindly brought us some essentials: bed sheets for the thick foam mattress; David's Kindle; food; my milk pump. (You know, so I don't explode.) The room isn't much to write home about, but it's clean. The walls are a salmon pink that's probably supposed to be soothing, but which reminds me of Pepto-Bismol. It's poorly screened, and flies and mosquitoes keep landing on me. There is a storage closet with a broken sink which ten different people need access to.

There is only one light in the room we share with Bed 9A. Of course, it's on our side of the plywood barrier, and it's a 75-watt bulb. The doctors and nurses here are mostly short-term volunteers, and they are excited to be here, even at 9:51 PM. It reminds me of summer camp--I smell of DEET, I'm sweating profusely, and as usual, I'm the only one who wants to sleep.

Actually, David wants to sleep. He's here with me, still, trying to get comfortable in an armchair that looks more like a torture device. But our door squeaks, and someone is singing outside and the fan got turned off.

So here I am, the "blan" in Bed 9B. Sitting up, listening. And, like my son, I know at some point, sleep will overtake me...and tomorrow, my recovery begins.

Thanks for your prayers for an excellent surgery tomorrow and a speedy recovery.

10 May 2013

Funny Food

The function of the neck dust brush is obvious, but what would you do with lime-flavored cherries? Is that a thing? Also, who needs Greek yogurt when we have SWISS yogurt?

02 May 2013

Not Enough

David's mom and dad are here visiting. I can't speak for David, but for me, it is glorious. And not because they spoil us at the supermarket (though they do). And not because they bring us presents (though that's true, too). And not because they hold the ladder and wash our dishes and carry our screaming son (yeah, that may have happened).

It is glorious because they love us so much. They love us SO. MUCH. And though it is not profoundly said, we love them too. They are the gift, and after they leave, there is no way to fill the void. I find love's fullness inexpressible. It seems too little to say it, and even its attempted manifestations fall short. It's just not enough. It won't do.

23 April 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Rough translation: "if you pay your power bill, you'll get more service." Is that extortion, or does that just make sense?

11 April 2013


"Everything can be taken from a man except one thing: the last of human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
                                                                                               Viktor Frankl

'Well,' I thought to myself, 'at least we made it through the night.' Our fancy-schmancy remote on the wall indicated that we had 69% left on our batteries, but I happened to know that our battery cutoff was fast approaching. In order to keep batteries in good condition, you have to keep them charged pretty well...and we haven't had any city power in three days. I sighed. Pete was happily kicking his feet, lying on a quilt on my cracked kitchen tile, oblivious to our power situation.

"Honey?" I called up the stairs to David.


"If I make toast, will it kill our batteries?"

There was a pause. "Probably not..."

I'm more cautious since earlier in the week, when I flushed a toiled, which activated the water pump, and everything went dead. Today, however, I decided to chance it. I've been sick, and I didn't think that oatmeal was really a good idea given my current digestive situation. Cold cereal was out because when I eat dairy, it makes Peter incredibly gassy. Seriously, Al Gore would be complaining to Congress.

We enacted our new system--David checks the oil level, fuels the generator, turns it on and flips the switch to charge our batteries. All I have to do is check the remote and remember to turn it off. It's a pretty sweet deal for me...but not cheap. A five-gallon container of diesel usually costs me around 1,000 goud or $25 USD. I ran the generator for 2.4 hours today and only got the batteries up to 91%...so that adds up fast.

But I'm feeling thankful this week, because our generator doesn't run on gasoline. On Facebook yesterday, I read a semi-desperate plea from a fellow Haiti blan who was out of gas for their generator and hadn't had city power in about 5 days. Say goodbye to your refrigerated goods, friend. (As this article from Haiti Libre explained, "There's no shortage of gas in Haiti; it's just that we don't have any right now." Not sure I understand the distinction, but maybe it makes more sense in its original language. Maybe.)

When I'm sick, I like to lay on the couch, drink ginger ale, and watch Back to the Future. But today, I limit my TV watching, I use the propane stove instead of the microwave. I delay a nap to do laundry while the generator's running. And in a strange way, in this powerless state, I have even more power to bless my family than usual. Peter and I read more books. We go outside to enjoy the breeze instead of using fans. And although David teases me about using the kerosene lamp while we watch TV at night, I know he appreciates that I'm trying to make the most of our power.

Funny how what's been "taken from us" can't compare with what we gain in spite of that. I'm sure that's the lesson the city power employees are trying to teach us. Now that we've learned it, maybe they'll have mercy on us...maybe.

29 March 2013

Goodnight Noises Everywhere


I've been reading Goodnight Moon to Peter, and as an English major and a reading specialist, I have some concerns. Now, I have nothing against Margaret Wise Brown, and I'm sure Peter hasn't picked up on it yet, but there's some inconsistencies. For instance, we're introduced to the telephone first thing...but we never say goodnight to it. Why? Also, how we can we say goodnight to nobody? to air? There's pages for these things, but not for the telephone? WHY?

But the page that cracks me up the most is the last one: "Goodnight noises everywhere." As I rocked my little guy, I couldn't help but think that the noises we hear at bedtime might be a little bit different. Haiti will be home to him, so he may not realize it...yet. I felt compelled to write the rest of the book and say goodnight to our unique noises:

Goodnight wind through the kenep trees,
Goodnight laundry flapping in the breeze.

Goodnight mosquitoes buzzing 'round my net, 
Goodnight thunder, at a distance yet. 

Goodnight trucks rumbling down the hill,
Goodnight dogs that bark at will.

Goodnight neighbor chatting on our stoop,  
Goodnight bouncing basketball, goodnight hoop.

Goodnight roosters who crow day and night,
Goodnight church who sings with all its might...
(no matter how out of tune they are.)

Goodnight geckos, though you don't make a sound,
Goodnight noises all around! 

Sweet dreams, friends--thanks for your prayers.

02 March 2013

A half-day in the life

Since things are a bit newer now that Pete's arrived, I thought I'd give you a peek into a day into the life of my little peanut and I. Well, a half-day, anyway. Let's not bite off more than we can chew.

We start things off early; Pete likes to get a jump on all those people who sleep until the sun comes up. He was kind enough to only wake up once last night to nurse, so I let it slide. David needed me to reprint a form that I messed up for our insurance costs for travel, and the first few hours are a whirlwind; David goes to work and I quickly wolf down some oatmeal before Peter wants to nurse again. (This will be a theme, by the way...)

We take our morning nap as the school across the street gets going full-tilt. One student is late and he and his parents continue to bang on the gate...for half an hour. They keep me up, but Pete's out cold. Would that I were he.

We get up and say good morning to B, who's hard at work washing our dishes. With the help of some pantomime, she teaches me the Kreyol word for hiccups, thanks to Pete's example--such a helpful guy. I put Peter into the sling and we hang laundry, which he mostly tolerates. We both like to be outside, and it's a beautiful morning...just like always. (Oregonians: yes, the sun still exists. I promise.)

While Pete nurses, I do some emails one-handed. Thank God for smartphones, right? To John: our fire extinguisher is fine and not expired, but we do need a new air horn because we used up the old one to break up dog fights (sigh); To Patricia: your Pyrex is on its way home via the Husband Express, and thanks for bringing us a meal. I spent some time working out the housing for some upcoming visitors for our retreat in March. I read an update on a shooting that happened outside one of our staff homes.

I had planned to go to the grocery store, but can't do so without a meal plan for the week, so I do my best from the couch without my recipes in front of me and plan to update it later. In the kitchen, I hear B coughing...and then it stops. Having just gone to a first aid training yesterday, I call out to her: "Ou anfòm?" (Are you okay?) No response. I get up and find her in the bathroom--she's okay, but my heart was pounding. 

Since the boy is happy, we attempt to take the "Pete picture of the day" for the family. I should note: he was happy, but not terribly cooperative. However, my patience was eventually rewarded with the picture in the lower right corner. Worth it.

Armed with diapers, a change of clothes and a list, we're off to the grocery store, which is about two miles away. Since it's between the start of school and the noon rush hour, I think we should be okay...I think. However, Pete did not think this was a good time to be in his car seat. NOT. AT. ALL. (Tantrum not pictured.) I do my best to reassure him as we headed up Delmas...I sing to him. I talk to him. I tell him jokes. (Yeah, apparently, I don't know what babies think is funny, either.) On the way, we see this awesome road construction. I am not being sarcastic--road construction is something I used to take for granted. No more, friends. No more.

We get to the store, and I remember that I wanted to check their "home" department first, which has a separate parking lot. I hadn't been there before, but from the outside, it looks pretty nice. I was looking for curtains for our family room, a baby bathtub, and a crib. After a careful search, I decide that one out of three's not bad--at least Pete will be clean. He sleeps through most of it, worn out from all that fun screaming in the car.

The story is different, however, when we get up to the main part of the store. He looks downright overwhelmed. Bright lights. Music. People. He tolerates it for a while while I try to hurry through and keep the cart moving...but to no avail. Again, I have to leave without everything on my list: they don't carry un-popped popcorn. But overall, the selection is good, and I'm stoked to find cumin--something I used to have to order from the U.S. We may share an island with the DR, but apparently, we don't share their taste in spices.

The checker lady was nice and tried to entertain Pete while we waited for her to finish.

Ah, the sling comes through again! He's happy to be out of the car seat...just long enough for me to put him back in. It doesn't take long over the bumpy roads before he's conked out again and we're home. As I pull up to our big red gate, I notice a large amount of smoke wafting through the neighborhood...right onto that clean laundry I just hung. But it was such a successful trip, I don't even mind. Laundry washes, babies do sleep eventually, and we have cumin. Victory.


10 February 2013

Sleepless Days...I mean, Nights

I really love the people around me. But lately, they're asking me a silly question...

"So, are you sleeping?"

Given that I'm not, let's brainstorm some better questions--ones that actually have interesting answers.

"Have you put your bed sheets on the bed inside out?" Yes, I have. And I even noticed, but then forgot to fix it by morning.

"Do you have any zits?" That would require a mirror and time to look into it.

"How many restaurants have you breastfed in?" Three and counting, airport restaurants not withstanding. Coincidentally, two of them had art with naked women in it, and I was prepared to mention this in the event that the management complained.

"Can you hang laundry on the line one-handed?" Not yet, but I'm pondering the feasibility of using my toes, which have proven useful in drawer-opening and dropped-item-retrieval.

"What's your funniest memory loss moment?" Can't remember.

Despite the lack of sleep, we're hanging in there and adjusting well. And during those sleepless nights, while the nightclubs play on, I sit, I rock, I lean my head back, I pray.

I mostly pray for David and for Peter, but if you've got something else to add to my list, I'd be happy to groggily offer it up as well. Thanks for your prayers for us as well, midnight or otherwise.

28 January 2013

Apples and oranges...and bananas.

Sometimes, the stark contrasts we find in Haiti really hit you. Take these bananas, for example (see the end of the post for a picture).

Which ones would you choose, at face value?

Now let me tell you this: the ones on the right are four times as expensive as the ones on the left, for fewer bananas. Still interested?

They are also imported, the same Chiquita bananas that you're buying at Fred Meyer or Winco or Walmart. This is where things get gray for me.

Some people would say that it's apples and oranges--that the choice to buy imported bananas is unrelated to the availability of local ones. But if I don't support the local economy, how will it grow? How will the country change?

And yet, if I buy a product that's clearly inferior, what message does that send to the seller? Most people aren't willing to make that trade off; it's not sustainable.

These sad bananas probably came from the southern coast, enduring a long, bumpy truck ride over unimproved roads before arriving here. That's not something the farmer can control. The government is trying to improve the road to Jeremie...but some people are unhappy and have stalled the work, because they think a better road will bring people who want to deforest their land for charcoal. That's outside the farmer's control, too.

So which ones did I choose? I took the easy way out; I didn't. Our family will just have to eat apples and mangos this week.

What would you do?

17 January 2013

To the TSA

To the TSA:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I pity you for
The job you must do.

If you open my luggage,
It may not close once more;
For having a baby
Creates luggage galore.

So choose well what you open
When my bags come through;
I'd hate for you to bite off
More than even you can chew.

And yes, that's peanut butter.
What about it?

To everyone else:

I fly to Miami in a few hours with my mom and dad and Peter; then he and I continue on to Port-au-Prince tomorrow. Prayers very much appreciated for: safe, uneventful travel; calm, happy infant; peace in the hearts of those who must once again say goodbye.