Thoughts From Behind the Hoe

I’m feeling worn out and tired this morning. I was busy yesterday. I had a fair bit of energy in the morning and instead of sitting in front of my computer I decided to get outside and tackle a project while it was still cool. Well, actually two projects. We have friends that give us cuttings and extra plants from their incredibly beautiful garden here. I got a bunch on Wednesday and they needed to go in the ground, so I made flower beds around the outdoor shower and around the one side of the house. I’ll admit it, I’d been dreading the project, even though I knew the finished product would be nice. I had tried to start turning over some of the dirt about a week ago and it wasn’t fun – way too hard. I realized doing something like this two days after a good rain makes things much easier :o)

The finished products…



I planted a bunch (probably 30-40) lilies that give off this crazy white firework looking flower. Those are the ones around the shower. Also, at least two kinds of ginger. I say two, but it could be 3-4. I won’t know until they bloom. I transplanted other stuff from around our yard that was growing, but probably not as well as it could be. I’m excited to see what happens. I have dreams of big tropical plants…mmmmm.

I love gardening because it gives me time to think. Maybe that’s why I’m feeling worn out this morning. When I let my mind go it goes to all sorts of places.

I think about ministry and the fact that I spent a whole day gardening. I wonder if people would look at that and think, “I thought you were running a mission.” In the end I know it doesn’t matter what other people think, but sometimes it’s hard to push away from all of that. When I look around I do see that Chris and I are doing less of the “hands on” stuff, but that in itself is a goal accomplished. Where we relied on volunteer staff to do a lot of our mission work before, we now have 9 wonderful Haitian men doing it – a goal from the very inception of Clean Water for Haiti. So, why should I feel like we aren’t doing enough? I think it’s that North American mindset. The reality is that I don’t feel God telling me to do any more right now. I feel like focusing on the things that we do have on our plate and learning how to be a wife and eventually a mother are what’s tugging at my heart right now.

I think about the fact that ministry goes in seasons too. The work here over the years has definitely proven that. When I arrived in October 2005 Chris was still reeling from everything that the coup brought with it, doing a huge relief project after hurricane Jeanne, and trying to do most of that on his own. There were volunteers that had come and gone, but in that I saw him never really feeling settled because things would flip so quickly. Would there be funding for actually running the mission? I lost count of how many times in the last two years we had to tell our workers that we may have to lay them off or cut back hours. Now I feel like we’re in a season of blessing. We have funding to work for at least the rest of this year and into next. Our workers are learning what it means to take pride in their jobs and to work independently – not something that catches on quickly here. Chris and I feel settled in our work and our lives. We don’t feel scared to live in our home anymore. Granted, we’re still very careful, but we don’t feel scared. Where there was previously no interest from people to come visit we now have a calendar that’s filling up for the rest of the year, just because people want to see what we were doing. We’re feeling encouraged and I’m learning that sometimes the best thing we can do it to just ride the wave and enjoy it. I believe that’s what God is wanting from us – to enjoy the blessings that he’s pouring out.

When my mind goes on it’s happy little wander I think about the coming months and the people that will be passing through here. We have another training class planned for next month. Sometime around that a friend of ours that works for a partner organization is coming in and will be doing some workshops here. We have a small group of young adults coming for a few days just to check things out. Then we get a vacation :o) By then I’m sure it’ll be needed. Chris is already looking at the calendar and muttering things about two more months and the heat combined. I’m doing a little better so far and am not feeling that itch to get on a plane – yet. I give it another month. I think about coming back in September and knowing that Josh, one of my favorite students from my previous ministry, will be arriving a month later. A week after he arrives we’ll probably be seeing our first Vision Trippers. I’m excited about that because it’s a new thing for the mission. My parents are planning their first visit for November, and I think that’s the thing I’m looking forward to most. I keep looking around at all the things that I want them to see and experience and I already know their visit is going to be too short.

I think about the fact that tomorrow I turn 29, and in two weeks Chris and I celebrate our first anniversary. I wonder where the time has gone and think about how much can change in a matter of months and years. I look at who we are and see so much change in the time that we’ve known each other, and even more since we decided to take on life together. As difficult as it can be at times, I love that things are never constant and that Chris and I are bringing out new parts of each other. At the same time I look back on “our story” and I still find it funny that we’re together because the whole thing from the start seemed so unlikely.

I think about the fact that we’ve decided to step into the role of parents. I think about that a lot actually. I’m scared. I don’t know what to expect from the whole adoption process. I wonder about the little person that’s going to join our family next year. I wonder who they’ll turn into. I wonder if we can do it. I wonder about how it will change us as people. I wonder (in the awe sense) at the fact that in the last little while I’ve already started feeling an incredible amount of love for someone that I’ve never met. I get overwhelmed when I think about what it’s going to be like for us to meet that little person for the first time and realize that they’re coming home with us. I think about the stuff we need to do to get ready for that day, the lists that need to be made, the things we need to get. I really feel like we’re expectant parents, but the arrival process is so very different. I won’t get a big belly, I won’t feel the first kick or the constant movement. I do know that we will go through a “pregnancy” of sorts, but our labour and delivery will be different. I never thought I would be thinking these things and I’m amazed at the whole process and am learning a lot about what God must feel when he adopts us, but he has a very different knowledge base.

When I garden I’m reminded about growth and change. You can mark time with a garden. I’m reminded of that when I walk around my Mom’s labor of love back home. Actually I guess it’s been a family labor of love. At some point we’ve all had our hands in it, whether it was hauling dirt one wheel barrow at a time, picking out plants, or putting them in the ground. My family’s life in the last 30 years can be traced through our yard. The plants have a dot on the time line, they mark the memories of birthdays, anniversaries, and Mother’s Days gone by. We have pictures from my high school graduation where things were just starting out, and pictures from my wedding day last year where the photographer took full advantage of the backdrop. When I look around here I see the same patterns starting. I can look at plants or work done and mark the time on the calendar of our lives here. We can see progress and newness in watching how things grow. In a land where people often destroy the landscape around them, creating something new and letting it grow is rejuvenating for me.

So, in case you were ever wondering, that’s where my head is at when I’m mucking in the dirt :o)

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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts From Behind the Hoe

  1. I’m glad that you are finding joy in your work as wife and soon to be mother. I’ve been reading your blog, linked from the Livesays’ and this is the one where you seem to be the most content, happiest. Its nice to be in the center of God’s will, isnt it? :) hugs Amy H.

  2. Hi Leslie,It was good to email with you before I traveled to Haiti. Now that I am back home, let me know if you see things on craig’s list you want picked up. It is a cool thing to be talking about adoption and waiting on the Lord to see what He has in mind. Cheryl

  3. I wanted to tell you how much I love your gardening and construction projects posts. The cement and stone path you built around the shower side of the house will save some tracking of mud through the house. It looks nice, has function and gives you a nice defined planting area. Tell us more about how the garden grows and maybe some updates on the trees, plants and veggies you have growing. You can even have your own gardening show on the TV. The TV gardeners are wimps beside you. Do they plant with Hairless Hairy the Haitian squirrel looking on or Leonard lizard holding court in the overhanging limbs and Timmy Tarantula marking off his territory? Hah! Leslie Machete with the back up of Chris the Clutch instruct us all in the reality of gardening without the sponsorship of Black and Decker. Write on my friend. Barb

  4. I love the gardening!!!!!!It’s so great to see all the grass and flowers and trees growing where there used to be just sand. You’re my hero!!

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