To soothe or not to soothe, that is the question!

It’s Friday and another week is almost over. I say almost because they’ll be working tomorrow. The long days and having people around all the time is wearing on us, but we just keep telling ourselves that at the end of next week we’ll be stepping back a bit and taking a breather. Everyone is working really hard to have the building ready to do the big cement pour on Tuesday. What this means is that they’ve spent the last two weeks getting the form work up – lot’s of plywood, 2×4’s, and rebar. So much rebar. The potos – the metal support posts that hold the plywood for the ceilings up, have been going up over the last few days too. It’s really a fascinating process to be honest. Nothing like building a wood framed house. Nothing at all. Otto was telling us about the amount of cement that is going to make up the ceiling/floor and balcony of the second level – 12 tonnes of cement, if you can believe that. Think about that. It would be like putting 12 one ton pick-up trucks on the top of a building. Crazy. 

So Tuesday is pour day, which means about 12 hours of the cement mixer going non-stop. I need to take Olivia for her vaccinations and I could go today, but I decided to hold of until Tuesday just because I think I’ll need a couple hour break from the noise. 
Olivia, in the last week, has discovered her voice. It’s actually pretty funny most of the time, once you get to the point where you realize she’s yelling because she’s having fun and not because she’s needing something. We have also ventured into removing the reliance on the soother. Liv was really good at soothing herself to sleep until the day popped a soother in her mouth and found that she enjoyed it. Things started out innocently enough but it’s gotten to the point where the kid can’t go to sleep without it, which would be fine if she wasn’t waking up in the night. The result was that I was up and down putting it back into her mouth each night when she woke up. So, Little Miss O hasn’t been super happy with us and our efforts to remind her that she’s capable of putting herself to sleep. She had gotten really, really good at it. Not sure what I was thinking. On Wednesday night I got up to feed her, cuddled her for a while, and put her back to bed. She was quiet for about 5 minutes and then the crying started. I got up to hold her, put her back. More crying. Chris got up to hold her, put her down, more crying. We let her cry. We let her cry for about 45 minutes, at 2 am, while I laid in bed wanting to gouge my eyes out with a fork. Chris apparently has much more self control that I do which is good because was so close to popping that soother in. So much so that he had to physically restrain me. We didn’t and eventually she gave up and fell asleep. And then slept in. And when she woke up she was all happy and smiley like she hadn’t tortured us for almost two hours total, in the middle of the night. Yesterday was much better. Thank goodness for short memory span at this point in her little life. I’m hoping we’ll navigate through this in the next few days and then we’ll all be happier. And yes, I am very much counting the days until I can put her back downstairs, even if it’s only for a week until Matt arrives. It will be a week where I will *hopefully* get more sleep than I have in the last three. 
Do you want to hear about a cultural experience? Sometimes I hesitate to write about them because people will have all sorts of opinions about how we handled things etc, or they tend to only want to see the good sides of a culture like Haiti and dismiss the frustrating things. 
With the big cement pour happening on Tuesday we thought it would be nice to provide two meals for our workers because it’s going to be a long, long day. We wanted to keep it simple because they won’t have a lot of time to eat, but we also want to see what it costs to make the same food that they buy every day. Right now they’re each paying $10/day for a morning meal of rice and beans with sauce that they buy from local vendors. We’ve talked to them about pooling their money to buy a big sack of rice and a sack of beans, and then having a local woman prepare it for them at the mission to save some money. They all insist that it’s not possible. So, we want to see what it costs to feed 18 of them and whether it’s more or less than what they’re paying, just to have a comparison for them. So, that’s the plan. We asked the one woman on our filter project staff if she would cook because everyone else will be doing the cement work that day and she’ll be on her own. We told her we were going to cook simple food and she curled her nose up at that. The lady that works in the house and goes to the market for us came in to get ready for the day and we told her what we were doing and what we needed for her to buy. Well, she came back from the market with all sorts of extra food because she decided they were going to have something more complicated because the workers didn’t want the simple food. In reality it was the ladies that didn’t want to just cook a simple meal – they wanted to make something more involved because they take food very personally here. There is a lot of pride around it, and I can understand that as a woman, but they’re cooking on behalf of the mission. It made Chris and I mad for several reasons. 1) We aren’t obligated to provide meals for our staff. They get paid well to do the work they’re doing. It was something we wanted to do for them as a gift and some of them decided to dictate what that gift should look like. 2) After explaining all of our reasons for doing things the way we are our market lady went against what we had told her to do and spent mission money on things that we hadn’t asked her to buy. 3) It was the icing on the cake of feeling like things are in a very fragile place right now and juggling a lot of balls. It felt like things were starting to drop. Chris and I eventually got things figured out, were firm in our decisions and made that known, and told our market lady that if people didn’t like what was prepared for them on Tuesday they were more than welcome to go and spend their own money to go buy the exact same thing on the street. They weren’t obligated to eat our food, but that it was a service/gift we were giving them because we wanted to let them know we cared about them. We’re okay with not being like by everyone, or not having everyone like our decisions. We can’t please everyone. The whole thing was just frustrating and annoying. It’s so hard to try and do things here, because often – not always, people will try to push the limits of what you are willing to give and expect more from you. They have a proverb here – si ou bay yon moun salon ou, l’ap mande ou pou chambe ou – if you give a man your living room, he’ll ask for your bedroom. Same as “give a man and inch and he’ll take a mile.” 
Sigh. 
My laundry needs to be brought in and folded. I need to do some data entry (the never ending project) and I need to creatively used some extra veggies we now have… ;o)
Happy weekend!
~Leslie
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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.

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