26 November 2015

Thankful Thursday: Thanksgiving Edition

I'm thankful for the Chinese hibiscus that's blooming in my yard today. This bloom will be gone tomorrow, and it reminds me to live today for all it has to offer. 

This blog post has been brought to you by our generator, keeping the lights on at the Harms household since 7 AM this morning. (Sorry, neighbors.) I am also thankful for it. 

I'm thankful for this little sparkler--and all the fireworks that go with her. 

This man. His goodness, his kindness, his perspective. His listening ear. His good advice. 

These men. This was taken on our Day of  Prayer a few weeks ago, but we also have a weekly prayer meeting every Wednesday at lunchtime. This week, our coworker G said he was thankful for security, because he was able to duck into a supermarket as a violent protest went by. "When was that?" asked David. "Oh," responded G, "right after you dropped me off." 

I am thankful for the unusually overcast day, making today feel a little bit like Oregon. I am wearing jeans, and it is magical. 

I am thankful to be a stay-at-home mom. I think this is self-explanatory. 

I am thankful for the planes and the team that make what we do here possible. 

No, friends. Really. I'm not giving the party line. A surprisingly large number of the people who started this journey at the same time as we did aren't missionaries anymore. I'm thankful I still am. We get to be part of transforming lives, and I'm blessed by that. By you. 

Happy Thanksgiving. 

25 October 2015

Sunday Not-so-Fun Day

It's Sunday in Haiti, the beginning of a new week. We are in the courtyard, Pete and me. He is showing off for the lizards. (We have friends. Really.) We are watching birds demolish the last of the fruit off the umbrella tree, tiny red berries that spiral upward on a long thin stalk. I am listening to Baby E, talking to herself in her crib upstairs. The breeze, the sound, it all passes right through the house here. I can hear her like I'm standing next to her crib, no monitor necessary. She's fussing now, resisting a morning nap despite our late-night parties at 9:30...then again around 11:30...then again at 2:00...I wish I could nap in her place. 

It's Election Day, the beginning of a new administration in Haiti. Church is cancelled for us, to encourage people to vote. It can take all day here. You show up at a polling place, wait in the long line. You finally get to the front...your name isn't on their list. Or someone causes trouble before you ever get there. There's no public transportation today, for reasons I don't understand. So you have to walk to another polling place or give up. That's what it's been like historically. This year, you can supposedly look it up online where you're supposed to be. But it's still so easy to keep the "wrong" people from voting. To keep the poor from voicing their opinions. All you have to do is put their polling place too far away from where they live, as it is for one friend I know. He won't walk ten miles each way to vote. Would you? 

We are stuck at home, but we like being home anyway. It's an unpredictable time to go out, because the different factions may try to prevent each other from voting by various violent means. On the other hand, the city power, which usually goes off by 6 AM, is still on at 9:00. I am doing laundry to make the most of it...and in the spirit of elections, which can be dangerous and unpredictable, I think I'll "live dangerously" as well. Instead of hanging it all up, I'm gonna...use the dryer. 

14 August 2015

Fridays with Will

It was Friday, and Pete knew what that meant. "No go Bible study, Mom. No like Bible study that much." I told him I was sorry, but that Mom needs Bible study. That it's not for him. That Mom does this for herself. 

You might consider our group small...there were five of us...and only two were literate. That's right: not counting the kids, it was just me and Wilhelmina. Sometimes, there were more: Liz had a team in town that particular week, and Sharon was still on furlough. And we used to have Mindy, a physical therapist whose husband worked at Adoration Christian School. We used to have Betsy, who was waiting on her kids' adoptions to be finalized. We used to have Karen, who's just too busy now with four kids running around. And Tina, who taught me how to be real, and Ruth, who taught be a hard worker at home, and Lori, who modeled such a tender, passionate love for her husband. 

But I'd always had Will. Whoever else was too busy, whoever else moved away or lost interest, there she was, blowing on the coals of the thing, keeping it alive. Her husband teased her that no one wanted to study with her, but I always did. Where two or three are gathered, you can still have your socks knocked off by God's voice, let me tell you. You can share a lot of life together in five years. 

And we shared our sorrows and our fears--and that wasn't easy for her. I know that, and it made the gift of knowing her well all that more precious. Her joy over passages I've known my whole life--her hunger to know the Word and apply it daily. Her compassion for those in need, her complete faith in God's goodness. I miss these things.

Such a friend, such a sister in Christ is not soon replaced. She's left now to pursue ministry in southwestern Canada, and I have to add another name to my list...she's in good company among the many godly women who have crossed my path here. And as we walked together for a while, it just made the going easier. And today, I'm just glad Will and I walked together. 

You can read more about their time here in Haiti and their next adventure with Hungry for Life on her blog: www.mafkrul.blogspot.com

17 July 2015

So...how's your Friday going?

Today, I ditched my kids with reliable friends and went to a fancy hotel. There, I received a fantastic massage which was free, thanks to a gift card. After said massage, I drank water without having to share, used a toilet with complete privacy, and showered with water as hot as I wanted it. 

I floated home, made them lunch, and put them to bed. I am now listening to the thunder and the rain, sitting in the breeze of the fan, reading a new Bill Bryson book. 

I just thought you'd like to know. 

24 May 2015

40 years and counting

I was sitting in a Subway catching up with two friends from high school over a six-inch spicy Italian. I was bemoaning the fact that I wanted to go to a friend's wedding in Spokane, but wasn't able to. 

"Why not?" they asked. 

The wedding was on a weekday just after we'd gotten back from a trip, and David couldn't take any more time off. 

"So?" they asked. "Just go by yourself." 

Truth was, it was a long way from Vancouver to Spokane, and he didn't feel comfortable sending me on a six-hour drive alone. 

"So?" they asked again. "Just go anyway." They were getting agitated. "You don't need his permission! You're an adult, too. Just go! It'll be fine."

I smiled, shaking my head. That's when I knew what it meant to be married. I didn't like David's decision about the situation, but I didn't resent it, either. It wasn't that the wedding didn't matter--it was just that our relationship mattered more. It would've cost me much more than I gained. Because when you know someone loves you, you'd do almost anything for them. 

I know, because I've watched my parents be married. And this month, they're celebrating 40 years of it. 40 years of a deep and growing friendship, service to others, passion and even a thriving business. You can't live and work together without conflict--I've seen that, too. But once the dust and their differences settled, they were better for it. Stronger than before, even. I so admired that. 

They've pursued dreams together, some of which came to fruition, others which spiraled to the ground in flames. They made the time to sneak away together while we were growing up. It meant that they sometimes missed a few things in our lives...but we knew we had parents who loved each other, and now, it's a much greater gift than being on the sideline at my soccer game. 

We praise God for His hand in bringing them together and keeping them that way. If you know my parents and want to celebrate with us, please feel free to leave them a comment here! (Believe it or not, they check my blog regularly.)

Also, the meme at the top of this post comes from a wonderful group called #staymarried. You can find their good encouragement on Facebook or on their blog. 

23 March 2015


The college I went to boasted "four distinct seasons" in their promotional literature. As I soon learned, that was actually a warning that the winters were frigid and the summers were muggy. Here, we don't do frigid. But we do have seasons, and I think this one might be my favorite. It's the end of the cooler weather, of which I mourn the loss, and the leaves on the almond trees turn red and fall off. 

The coughing spells from the clouds of dust blowing down my unpaved street are over. The mosquitoes are just starting to get organized. Carnival is over and most people have gotten their crazies out...at least until July, when we do it again.

My plants are taking off, some getting ready to bloom. The bougainvillea is brilliant, but a tree with tiny pink blooms is beloved for me and the birds both. There's a pair of black-crowned palm-tanangers nesting in our backyard, near the line where we hang diapers. 

My husband is happy, because we went to a computer store and paid $18 for a TV service so we can watch college basketball. But he'd be happier if my bracket wasn't doing better than his. (BURN.)

And the krem mayi guy is back--a guy with a cooler on his head, selling ice cream bars. He does not play "The Entertainer" on loudspeaker, and if you suggest it, I will be unhappy. 

The kites are lined up on the street for sale--they're rather crude materially, but they're bright and colorful. I want to get one for Peter, and I wonder if someday, he'll think it's tradition to fly kites at Easter. 

It's spring.

11 March 2015

Funny food...and two cute kids

Weirdest looking croutons I ever saw. ;)

Pete noticed I was taking a picture, and he wanted one, too. 

25 January 2015

Pace and peace

The tile floor is warmer here, where I've been standing. I've been standing here for a while, thinking, sweating, sifting. Ellie is in her swing, burrito'd, Peter is asleep upstairs. Every few minutes, she opens one eye to make sure I'm still here, and I still am.

For I am sifting the world's grossest flour.

I want to calculate out how much of the five-pound bag has been eaten by these creatures...but it would be as demoralizing as the time I calculated my hourly pay as an elementary school teacher. It is a five-pound bag, and it will need to be sifted twice...at least. I'm glad it's been in the freezer for 24 hours, so there's nothing actively trying to escape.


But would I have slowed down for anything else? It's my impulse to keep on to "what's next"... But today is a sabbath, and it's made for me, not vice versa. (For proof, see Mark 2.) And this task too, even in its unavoidable activity, feels stiller. Scoop a heaping cup, put it in the sieve. Tap tap tap on the side of my scratched batter bowl...the baby stirs. Tap tap tap a little quieter, until the bugs start to show in the bottom--dump. Scoop a heaping cup...think on my week. Put it in the sieve...highs and lows and in between. Tap tap tap...still more to do, but it'll wait. Dump. Listen.

The club and its shouting DJ have finally stopped. The church services have ended. The last rara band has trundled by. 

Listen, there's words to what I'm listening to.

Can a rich man work to save his soul?
Can a rich man work to save his soul?
For every good deed, there's a million bad ones.
Can a rich man work to save his soul?

And that's why everyone--including me, maybe especially me--needs to stop and breathe. To be reminded how unimportant I am and yet how loved. In small details, devotionals and the comments of friends and time in His word and other "coincidences," God is teaching me about pace. How slow and steady still loses the race unless you trust in Jesus...and yet it matters. Pace determines peace in large part. Forcing my focus back to what matters most only happens in stillness, in the slow. 

Thank God for buggy flour; can it really be grace?