01 November 2014

Second Fiddle

For a month now, I have been first fiddle when it comes to Peter. We left Haiti -and David- in order for me to deliver my second child in the U.S. That was a rough day--leaving is not my favorite. And to make matters more difficult, an almost two-year-old just can't understand where Dada went and didn't seem to be able to connect with the familiar face on the phone.

At the risk of extending this metaphor to breaking, as first fiddle, I have a wonderful ensemble behind me--some excellent violas and cellos and basses who back me well. But there's only one first fiddle, and I was it. The timeouts, the bedtime enforcement, the toy cleanup battles...first fiddle territory. It wasn't without advantages--it also means you get more snuggles and more book-reading and more...well, everything.

But yesterday, my status suffered a demotion. Yesterday was awesome. Not due to costumes or candy or any kind of spooky fun...but because of the look on Peter's face when David​​ came downstairs. "Dada OME! Dada BACK!" He couldn't seem to say it enough. Our month of separation was finally ended, and the rest of the day was walks (with Dada) and books (with Dada) and blocks (with Dada) and eating (with Dada). In the store, he kept pushing me away from the cart..."bye bye Mama. Dada." At lunch, the same story. It was eaten happily on David's lap, a quiet smile on his face. 

This is one time I don't mind playing second fiddle. 

02 October 2014

Thankful Thursday

Lots to be thankful for this week, not the least of which is a safe, uneventful flight from Haiti to Portland!

-that Peter *loves* to travel. Loves it.

-for my dad, who let me borrow my mom for the airplane rides. And my mom, too.

-for things that make me laugh, like this:

-for this view from my midwife appointment:

-that it wasn't raining when I needed to merge onto the freeway today. When you rarely get out of second gear in Haiti, 55 mph on the speedometer can be a bit daunting. 

-for libraries, parks and fire hydrants. If you don't get this, I will draw you a picture.

-for my husband, who works hard and gives excellent advice. And excellent hugs.

-for Honeycrisp apples, which were undoubtedly the fruit that tempted Eve in Eden. 

What are you thankful for today?

25 September 2014

A trip to the doctor

It was my last doctor's appointment today. As we sat in the car waiting for the doctor to arrive, it made me feel a bit nostalgic, so I thought I'd bring you along this time.

Even though this is probably the best gynecologist in Haiti, there are roosters tied up under a giant mango tree. The grounds are nicely landscaped with small flowering shrubs, ferns and vines. The parking area is tiled, and I'm thinking it used to be part of Biomed, the lab which shares their gated parking lot. It's 9:15, and there's about 15 Culligans sitting inside the gate that no one's had the energy to drag upstairs yet.

In the waiting room which is shared among several practitioners, they are showing a French game show with some kind of celebrity panel on a thirty-two inch TV. The host is a young man with a beard and a navy skinny tie paired with a navy suit. Large ceiling fans are going and the windows are open, letting mosquitoes in. Pete parks it on a slightly-worn chair and continues to ask for the crackers he is sure he's entitled to, as he has since we arrived. Breakfast was at 7:00, two-and-a-half hours ago, and he didn't eat his toast. M, the receptionist, is dusting--she speaks at least three languages well, and she sometimes helps me practice French. 

"Oui, Oui," Peter parrots the TV--he has just recently started speaking Kreyol, saying "bondoo"--an attempt at "bonjou"--for hello. He can't decide between another cracker and getting down to run around. "Baby? Baby?" Yes, I tell him, we get to see the baby soon. "Ball? Ball?" No, I didn't bring one, sorry. He entertains himself climbing up and down the stairs, as the house is tiered, like so many houses are here. 

M lets me know that he's ready for us, and we climb the stairs to his office, the door to which has an inset stained glass window in it. He shakes all our hands (even Peter's) and greets us in English, which he speaks very well. On the wall behind him are diplomas and certificates from Haiti, France, and the U.S. and an air conditioner working overtime. On the other wall are a collection of exotic masks, some of which I think are mildly disturbing. Most of the artwork in the office is of Haitian women. I find Haitian artwork to be hit-or-miss in general, but he's got some nice paintings that are evocative without being gaudy. 

My favorite is in the bathroom, a pregnant Haitian lady in profile, not meant to be realistic, but somehow capturing the dignity of the woman. I look at it as I change into the gown that's sitting in a neatly-folded pile on a tempered glass shelf. It has snowflakes on it. I snicker and hope he got a good deal on them.

He weighs me, takes my blood pressure, and prepares to do an ultrasound. We do an ultrasound every time. It is the best thing about being pregnant in Haiti. The stress of an untimely birth aside, I get to see my girl once a month, and I still think that's amazing. In general, she's been uncooperative, denying us confirmation of even her gender until 20 weeks. Today, she's showing us half her face, and I still think it's beautiful. David thinks she may not have a nose. The doctor measures her head, femur, counts kidneys and listens to her heart. He explains the different measurements and indications about her health over Peter's running one-word-at-a-time commentary about how it's "DAWK" and we should turn on the "IGHT." The doctor seems pleased that she's not as big as Peter was at the same age, and I ask him to predict her weight. "That depends on how much you eat in the U.S.," he replies, giving me a stern sideways look.

His phone rings, and despite the fact that I'm half-dressed and covered in gel, I expect him to answer it. He's done it before, and I would absolutely want him to. Because around here, part of what people expect is that you're available since there's no emergency room. He's been there for me at some untimely moments when I needed medical help, and I wouldn't want to deny anyone the same treatment. But after he checks the number, he sends it to voicemail, and I can hear him return the call in French as I'm changing my clothes later. David takes a squirmy Peter out to see the sharks in the office...he is just. sure. that those goldfish are really sharks.

We make plans to pick up my paperwork on Monday to transfer my care to OHSU, where I delivered Peter, and he promises to write me a letter so that American Airlines won't try to deny me boarding. We shake hands again, and I thank him for all his good care. He makes me promise to send a picture of our little girl, and it occurs to me that it's probably a bit sad for him that he won't get to deliver her himself. I know he understands, but that might not make it easier.

Back in the parking lot now, we say goodbye to M and head for the car together, as someone is waiting for our spot in the small parking lot. Normally, I have to take David to work afterward, but today, another pilot is meeting him at our house to carpool. It's a big relief, because it saves me an hour of driving and allows me to put Peter down for a nap on time...allowing Mom to eat lunch in peace. 

I fly to Portland on Tuesday; prayers are appreciated for a smooth trip with Peter and an uncomplicated delivery for baby girl in November.

10 September 2014

It's not what you think

That's what I told Peter as I cut up plantains for dinner. "Manay!" he insisted, using his made-up word for bananas. "Beet! Manay!" 

"You think you'd like some of this?"

"Aye." (This is his word for yes. He thinks he's a pirate.) I give him a tiny taste, and the look on his face is classic. For a starchy, hard plantain is nothing like a soft, sweet banana, and that was immediately apparent to him. 

But sometimes things aren't so clear. The other day, my neighbor's househelper sat outside breaking glass bottles. It was a very distinctive sound--a "chink chink chink KSSH." It's not what you think--he wasn't on a bender. He wasn't just mad about something. He was increasing the security on their southern wall by imbedding the necks of the bottles into the concrete...leaving the top part open to catch rainwater and therefore breed mosquitos. "Razor wire is too easy to take down," my friends explain. She had a break-in recently...it's on the rise. I won't say it doesn't bother me.

And then there was the incident at the grocery store...I saw that they had (what appeared to be) chicken thighs for sale. This was exciting because 1) It's usually breasts or whole chickens or nothing. 2) They were cheaper. However, not being fluent in French, I wanted to make sure that's what I was really getting, having been burned before. (I bought veal, okay?! It was traumatic...and delicious.) Here is how Google translated the label:

Hmm. Chicken crotch casserole doesn't sound very tasty. I asked someone who looked official, and he seemed to be pointing to his leg...I took a chance. 

And that's the whole thing, isn't it? Here in our second term, we feel a bit like experts. We sit back a little and think we've got things figured out. Sometimes, we do. But sometimes, we have no idea what's really going on, and when that becomes painfully apparent, we scrape the starchy taste off our tongues and begin searching around for the sweetness of a life that makes sense. And since that's "not a thing," we lean on a faithful God whose parenting techniques are sometimes inscrutable, but always infallible. 

Please pray that we'd find the sweetness in leaning on Him more each day.

15 July 2014

World Cup Madness

I was outside hanging laundry, when I heard the Argentine national anthem playing over several radios around my house. Nope, it wasn't visiting dignitaries, a parade, a coup or anything of the sort. It was World Cup Finals. Soon the sound of hundreds of people cheering went up from the ravine and surrounding neighborhoods as Germany scored. And no, there aren't many Germans here...let me explain.

Talking with my parents the other day, they asked, "So, World Cup...that's a big deal, right?" I guess you could say that...in the same way that the birth of your first child is "a big deal" or winning the lottery is "a big deal." When you don't feel like a winner in your own right, it's easy to pin your hopes on a successful football team. My understanding is that Haiti almost made it to the World Cup finals once, but hasn't had much luck since then. In the interim, people have chosen up sides between Brazil and Argentina...and to love one is to hate the other. I was praying they wouldn't meet, even in a consolation match, or there could have been real conflict between the two factions. We, of course, root for the United States like good Americans, no matter how bad they are. 

David's Father's Day present was a month-long cable TV subscription so that he could watch the match in English. Yes, I said, "match." They do not, I have learned, play games. It's a pitch, not a field; it's a kit, not a uniform; he's a keeper, not a goalie. And it's a good thing they don't have celebration penalties in football like in American football, or they'd be penalizing till the cows come home. Biting seems to be frowned upon. 

During the matches, we'd text with David's sister M. Sports are always a reliable source of sibling bonding in the Harms family, and M had a vested interest in Germany winning, having seen them play once in Germany. We use Google Hangouts because she and David are both Android users...I know, people. I know. An intervention has been tried, but if someone's not ready to get help, you can't make them...and unfortunately for them, you certainly can't confront them over Facetime, the best invention for missionaries since DEET.

At any rate, it's a phenomenon we've come to appreciate with all its hype. I'm sad to see it go. Even Peter was asking to watch soccer during dinner and we had to tell him, "Sorry, honey--the World Cup is over." But take heart, child...the madness is only four more years away.

19 June 2014

Throwback Thursday

I am washing three-month clothes in anticipation of our newest addition. Hanging on the laundry line next to Pete's eighteen-month onesie, it looks so itty-bitty! What a widdle-bitty-cutie-wutie...ahem. I apologize. Pregnancy is a trial in a variety of unexpected ways. But at nineteen weeks, I'm finally starting to relax into the reality that this pregnancy is going well...and at the same time, panic about how much there is to do. The new nursery? It's a storage room at the moment. A very messy storage room [not pictured]. 

Thanks for your prayers for all the people who wear (or will soon wear) onesies around here and their crazy parents.

27 May 2014

The Chik

I tried. I failed.

I've got the new virus that's taken Haiti by swarm--mosquito swarm, that is. I personally know 13 people who've had it, and that number is on the rise.

Not everybody's got it, but few can pronounce it anyway...



And for the truly lazy..."that chicken thing."

It's your standard tropical illness in many ways. Fever, rash, fatigue...but for the record, I don't feel like my bones are breaking...that's not how I'd describe it at all.

My hips feel like I tried to do the Jillian Michaels 30-day shred--all 30 days at once.

My neck feels like I was rear ended by a Mack truck. (By the way, when I was ten and we were rear ended at a gas station, the nurse prescribed Popsicles and Bugs Bunny. Oh, to be ten again.)

My feet feel like someone ran over them with a loaded grocery cart--and then backed up for good measure. Did you know there are 33 joints in your feet? I did, because I can feel every one when I walk.

And my hands...don't get me started on them. Opening a jar? Forget it. Picking up Peter? Rough. Even typing this with one finger is a bit tiring. 

But the thing that hurts most is that I feel like I should've done more. Yes, I zapped everything that flew. I coated myself is smelly sprays. We limited our outdoor time. But it still feels like my fault. And now I'm not there for the people who need me. 

Please pray that Peter wouldn't get it. I'm thankful for my fantastic husband (who's already had it) who's taking good care of the boy. He's the best.

Hey, I just remembered we have Popsicles in the fridge...

I gotta go.

17 May 2014

Revenge of the Vermin

Oh dear. 

Mama Rat had a brood. Three, to be exact, who have decided that my house is where the good stuff is. To that end, they are squeaking and sniffing and clawing the doors to get in.

This will not do.

Pete is fascinated. He keeps saying "This!", which is his way of asking for something to be identified. Rat, I say. Rat. He's the one who spotted it, climbing the bars. Needless to say, he lost all interest in lunch. "Hi!" He waves. 

Oh dear. 

I went out to find my dog. She was sheepish. "Come on, get it!" I say, pointing them out. She lay down in the sun to sleep.  

This will not do.

could see it was up to me. I put out my "humane" mouse trap, hoping it will trigger, since they are small. They ignored it, at first. But eventually, the salty scent of peanut butter was too much for one. Pete jumped when the trap went off...then watched it thrash until I scooted his high chair away from the window and tried to get him to watch TV. He is looking over his shoulder now, mouth full of grilled cheese, saying "Ow." 

Oh dear. 

One down...two to go.

13 May 2014

Victory over the Vermin

This is the crack 
in my concrete yard
Where the rat breathed his last.

This is the dog
Who cornered the rat
Who breathed his last 
In a concrete crack in my yard.

This is the boy
Who found the "cat"
(Who was really a rat)
Who got trapped by the dog
And breathed his last 
In a concrete crack in my yard.

...he signed cat and said "mow!" all morning...sigh.

These are the tools 
The brave mama used
To get rid of the "cat"
(Who was really a rat)
Who got trapped by the dog
And breathed his last
In a concrete crack in my yard.

And before you think me cruel and heartless, I *tried* to block his entry into my yard. See?

I was super proud of Nessie, who in general has a very Swiss attitude toward other creatures in the yard...until I found out my neighbor had set out poison the night before. I still choose to think she had a hand--er, paw--in the matter. 

Anyway, I wash my hands of the whole thing.


22 April 2014

The Word on the street

Monday is the day my neighbor boys come to get their crackers...it's a system that works pretty well for us. Well, when they actually come on Monday, that is. Our deal is that I buy them twelve small packs of crackers: seven are for them (one per day), and five to share with others. That's supposed to be our deal--and if they ask for other things, don't bother coming on Monday. The problem is that people who are hungry have a hard time waiting.

J followed me through the grocery store last week. I'm sure he thought he was being stealthy, pretending to look at diapers (which he doesn't need) and olive oil (which he can't afford) and shampoo  (which he probably doesn't know what it is). He followed us all the way to the car, then informed me in quiet tones that his sister was sick and couldn't I give them something today? I told him I didn't have anything for him, as the grocery store guy loaded two boxes of food into my car for the week. I felt like the biggest jerk on the planet, but it was actually true. I know how it seems to them--I see the look in their eyes. It's painful for both of us.

Then J came on Friday. "My sister's really sick. Couldn't I have my crackers today, then skip Monday? She's crying, she's so hungry..." Sigh. "Okay, but nothing on Monday, you understand? This is it, okay? W, do you want yours, too?" He started to say yes, but J signaled him no. I laughed. "Look out, W, he's got plans for your crackers!"

Then Monday came. 

Here they came. J, true to his word, asked for nothing but water, which they can always ask for culturally (and they always do). Then, an unexpected request--"I need to read the Bible," said W. I was taken back by the urgency in his voice. He usually studies the Jesus storybook bible with my neighbor Will, but she's out having her baby. He must be missing it. There's more than one kind of food, after all. 

I had excuses--laundry to hang, lunch to make--but it was too good an opportunity. Peter was sleeping, even. So there we sat on my front step, taking turns reading. W read so well that he corrected my pronunciation. J struggled with even the simple words. We read Zaccheus, which they knew already. "I love this story because I'm just like Zaccheus; I'm not a good person, either," I told them. Their mouths dropped open. "Oh, yes you are, you're a good person!" I shook my head. "Maybe on the outside, but God looks at the heart. I sin, too." I could see their wheels turning. "Why does Jesus say that God has saved him?" I asked. We talked about the difference between saying you're a follower of Jesus and acting like it. We talk about generosity and how easy it is to love money.

I asked if that was enough reading: nope, still hungry. One more was needed. So we read the prodigal son, which they hadn't heard. The Kreyol is beautifully written: "The son who lost his way." The teacher in me came out--"What do you think the father will say when the son comes back? Will he be angry?" 

"Oh yes," they both agreed. "The father will say, 'Get out of here, you ungrateful boy.'" But as many of you may know, he doesn't say that at all. We talked about how making our own way never works out for long. We talked about love. We talked about fathers. 

As I stood up to go inside, they made sure I knew that this brand of crackers was inferior to the ones I'd bought last week. And yet I went inside refreshed...isn't it strange how something that was supposed to be about them ends up blessing me?

I started to make lunch and saw this year's Hearts at Home verse on the fridge..."teach your children as you sit at home and walk along the road..." Maybe sitting in the road with two adolescents counts, too. They're not my children--if they were, they wouldn't be hungry. But at least for today, their stomachs and souls will be satisfied. 

W on his way home, crackers in pocket.

03 April 2014

To Jerusalem and Back

Sometimes a story isn't ready to be told for a long time...but this one's worked its way out. It was almost a year ago, but it still holds power for me, and I hope it will for you, too. Thanks for your prayers as we prepare to return to Haiti on April 10th. 

Thorns. The sound of rusty tin rattling in the wind. Soul-scorching sun without shelter. Standing on the side of a mountain of dry, dry dirt, looking across makeshift tarps and half-finished concrete construction towards Port-au-Prince. That's what I remember about our trip to Jerusalem, even now.

I'd been out to Bon Repos with a friend before, but this was even farther out. Three of our Haitian MAF staff lived out there, and I was excited to see it. Armed with snacks, sunscreen, and skirts, we piled into the Montero with David's mom and dad, our yard guy O, and of course, Pete. We weaved and wobbled our way through unfamiliar parts of Port-au-Prince, until we hit the countryside. (There were absolutely no arguments over the navigation, and Google Maps never failed us...in case you were wondering.)

The speed picked up and we continued our trip toward the brown hills in the distance. "Stop!" O cried. Unsure of what was happening, David quickly pulled over in a gravel turnout area. O hopped out and waved at a man standing some distance away. "This is my buddy, he's gonna come help us." We should've known. Offering rides in Haiti is just normal...even if it's not your car. The buddy jumped into the sideways seats (sans belts) in the back with O, and we were off. I recognized him from our church, so I asked about his family. A little further down the road...."Stop!" Another pick up, two guys this time. At this point, I'm hoping we wouldn't have to strap anybody to the roof.

We drove...and drove...David is glancing at me, and I'm picking up his nervousness. Aside to me, he says, "Do you think these guys have passports? I swear we're almost at the Dominican border." I think this is a fabulous joke, so I translate it and call back to O. The back of the car erupts into loud laughter. One more pick-up, and we finally turn off the pavement into "town." There are houses. There is a place to buy water. There is a small store.

That's it.

The road is not built for the heavy rains, and it's deeply rutted down one side. We squeeze by it, trying not to let the thorns scratch the car, but trying even harder not to lose momentum and get stuck. "Turn here," he says, and I think we must be getting close. (Insert laughter here.)

A hand-painted sign says "Jerusalem."
"O, is that what they call it here? Jerusalem?"
"Yes," he says, "the city of God."

This is where they came, by the thousands, after the earthquake. If your life was ruined, if you had nowhere to go, if you wanted to start over, this is where you came.

We turned again and drove up a mountain. Not a hill, a mountain. The view was incredible.

At this point, I suppose I should tell you why we came...O is building a house here. Where he currently lives, there's no room for his wife and five kids. He's lived apart from them for years, in order to support them. But no more. He's not an emotional guy, but as we got out of the car, I could feel his joy.

He'd rather live on the side of a mountain with his family than be apart from them. 

He'd rather live in the middle of nowhere and get to be a dad than have comfort and security. 

O and his friends got right to work marking out the foundation for his house. We stood in the sun and watched them for a while, but I realized that Pete was probably going to burn. We were ushered into the church, which was sticks thrust into the ground with tin tied around them. Poorly.

The church
It was shade, and I was grateful. They found chairs for Kathy and I. We were drawing a crowd, as usual. Kids were peeking in through the tin, and seeing Peter, they began chatting with us in Kreyol. "Are you an American?" "Do you have any soccer  balls?" "Who do you work for?" "Where do you live?" I tried to subtly breastfeed Peter as I talked and joked with them.

One of the boys kept repeating everything I said, giggling to himself. At first, I thought he was just being obnoxious...but watching the other boys interact with him, I soon realized that he was mentally handicapped. Handicapped isn't the right word--but he wasn't all there. I wondered how it'd happened. Once we got on his wavelength, Kathy and I both really enjoyed his joyful personality.

Then the pastor of the church showed up. He slipped quietly into the back, Bible in hand. He started a discussion about generosity, if I remember right. I just love that he couldn't resist a crowd in his church, even if they mostly wanted to stare at the white people and see if we had anything for them.

I left Peter with Kathy and edged down the hill in my skirt to see how it was going. (Yes, pants would've been more practical...but culture is seldom practical.) "How's it going?" O shook his head. "The contractor thinks you're with a house-building organization and he's trying to charge me more." He snorted. "Typical." I felt terrible. All I wanted was to see his land and rejoice with him. He could see that I was upset, and he grinned. "Don't worry, madam. I'll wait him out. I can wait. He'll see that I'm not changing my price, in time."

I offered to talk to the contractor, but he gently refused. I went back to the church to wait until he was done, figuring that I'd done enough damage already. As we left, a few people followed us, asking us to build their house next.

Bumping home, I passed snacks back to our Haitian friends, who had brought no food. They politely ate them, though I'm not sure they really enjoyed it. They thanked us profusely, for the ride, for the food, for the help we were giving O to build. It meant a lot to them.

We were all quiet. He would make that trip many more times, via tap tap, and it would take a lot longer that way. He would walk those roads on foot to come to my house and to church. But he drove home with a rare smile on his face.

He didn't seem to mind.

02 March 2014

The running joke

I am out of breath. (gasp)

Rolling Hills was having a women's retreat. (gasp) Never done that before.

Wanted to run a 6K. (gaspNever done that before, either.

Picked the 6K. (gasp)

Rhonda encouraged me to go to the retreat. (gasp)

Decided that physical training was of some value, (gasp) but training in godliness is useful all the time. (gasp)

Bagged the 6K. (gasp)

Came to the retreat. (gasp)

God came, too. He talked. I listened.

We laughed. (gasp)

We ate. (gasp)

We sang karaoke at 10:00 at night. (hee hee)

Saw an old friend, asked if I could run along. (gasp) We ran, she discipled. I...gasped.

She took me farther than 6K.

Don't tell me God has no sense of humor.

21 February 2014

People came!

Here it is: hard proof that someone wanted to hear what we had to say last night. Nine someones, in fact...not counting family members, who are perennial guests at these things and have only heard our presentation 1,459 times. True story. 

Please keep praying for our meetings to be fruitful! We've still got eight days left to do all the work we can! 

20 February 2014

What smartphones don't know

There's a lot of things my smartphone knows. Here's a few conversations heard in my house:

"Siri, what are the rules of curling?"
Seriously, it's a funny game...and oddly addictive. Now I can say ridiculous things like, "Man, that skip doesn't know what she's doing. She better get in the house on this end."

"Siri, how old is Bob Costas?"
Love him or hate him, we can't shake him...until there was pink eye. 

There was an IMDB search to figure out where we've seen that police chief before on Psych.

There was a BabyCenter search to find out why toddlers seem to lose interest in eating.

There was a Pinterest search to find new ways to cook pork in the crock pot.

I did a search this morning to find out if I'm in the top 5% richest people in the world. (I'm not.)

It knows a lot of things. Here's what else I asked Siri today:

"Siri, will anyone come to my event tonight?"
He pulled up a calendar for today, confirming that I have events. (Yes, my Siri is a guy.)

"No, Siri, will anyone come?"
He didn't know. Maybe I'd like to find pictures of killer whales instead? Maybe I'd like to know how windy it is outside or find my sister? Maybe I'd like to call Brian or play my party mix?

I sent out 65 paper invitations and 30 Facebook invites and made five dozen cookies and folded thirty paper airplanes and got all the cups and napkins and plates together and I just want to know if it'll be worth it.

I just don't want to wait until 6:30 to find out if anyone's going to show up. Because I have already warned my husband that if no one shows up, I will cry. I don't even blame anyone who doesn't show up. People are busy. I get it. I'm not crazy about going out on a weeknight myself.

Hmm. I think I'm going to have to wait to post this until after the event so I don't get pity attendees.

No, wait...I'm posting it now.

"Siri, what if my support doesn't come in?"
Siri is on. 

Good to know. If no one shows up and I get to eat five dozen cookies by myself, Siri is on. I hope he's got some good weight-loss strategies. We're at 94% of the support we need, which is about $450 short per month. If we're not pretty darn close to 100% by March 1st, our bosses will be discussing extending our furlough...as in, we won't be going back to Haiti in March.

Also, I taught my son to give high-fives today.

I just thought you should know.

06 January 2014

Looking over my shoulder

Re-reading my last post, I feel I should make something clear--I am glad to be home. I've missed the United States, with its smooth roads and 24/7 power and beautiful parks and sidewalks. And having the family I adore practically next door? Amazing. I admit to still being a little unclear on a few recent developments...for instance, there's a fox who speaks but no one seems to know what he's saying...and what are chia seeds and why are we putting them on everything? But being back is good. I can see in a unique way all the growth that's happened in the church while I was gone, and it's encouraging.

The painful part of furlough is when people welcome me home. It's well-meant, and I understand that. My head understands it. But my heart softly says, "This is just one home. One of two." I'm a house divided, you see. A sort of permanent brokenness to my life that I've come to accept, but which never gets easier. When I'm in Haiti, I miss the U.S. When I'm in the U.S., I miss Haiti. And I never miss it more than when something goes wrong...

I don't know his name, but he watched my house. From the shadows, he waited until the power was off to make his move. He parted the razor wire with a stick, hopped the wall, barefooted, silently landing on my dusty tile balcony. 

He carefully removed my windowpanes. He cut my screens open. He pulled out a laptop, hard drives, Internet box, router. He disappeared.

Are you looking over your shoulder? When something goes bump in the night, when the dog starts barking...do you peek through the curtains or roll over? Is there a baseball bat under your bed? 

On her way home from work, late at night, my house sitter D got on the wrong motorcycle with someone she didn't know. They deceived her; she thought he was trustworthy. But after the third wrong turn, when he stopped and more men came out of the shadows, she suddenly knew what was happening. All she lost was her wallet and purse, but they wanted more. They shot her in the leg as she tried to get away, and she dragged herself back to the restaurant to get help.

"Helen Keller said security is mostly a superstition," I reminded David last week while walking through an affluent neighborhood, looking at their driveway gates and alarm systems. I had no idea, of course, that this belief would be put to the test when my house was broken into and D assaulted. "Do you feel safe in Haiti?" Another question that hurts a little. I want to say yes, I want to reassure you that the media blows things out of proportion. Most of the time? Yes, I feel safe in Haiti. When this happens? No, I don't.

Do you look over your shoulder? Do you know who to trust?

Jesus gave the ministry's moneybox to a thief. He washed the feet of men who would later deny knowing him, let alone being his best friends. He healed the crowds who would spit on him and scream, "Let his blood be on us and on our children! Give us Barabbas!" Yes, he knew who to trust--and it wasn't any of them.

Who's looking over my shoulder? Who do I really trust?

I could make my wall higher. I could install more razor wire. I could hire a security guard or buy a meaner dog. We may do some of these things, but it probably won't help. It's no accident that God had me studying trust this week in preparation for speaking at Women of Worth at Rolling Hills next week.

Trust isn't easy, but it's based on experience. And in my experience, God has always looked out for me. That's all I can say. Whether I feel safe or not, I'm in His capable hands, unsnatchable...even if I lose an internet box or router along the way.

Please pray for D--she's recovering well and has been released from the hospital. Pray for her to have confidence in the goodness of God despite it all. Pray for us as we try to figure out how to take care of our stuff since she can't stay at our house, and thank Him for the MAF neighbors who are filling the gap for us.