Faith and Tomatoes

I asked at the end of my last post for questions, so I would know what interested the readers and I could write about that. I’ve heard that blogging is just writing about whatever’s on your mind that particular day but I’m new to blogging, and anyway I suspect I’m too goal oriented to blog the way Leslie does. Barb J. asked a great question:

You asked for questions in the comment area. I think you explained the beginnings of you faith in your first installment of your journey to Haiti. My question is, “How has your faith evolved, changed or deepened since coming to work at CWH.” 

This question really got me to thinking. Perhaps, I thought, Barb should have included “eroded” along with “evolved, changed, or deepened”. I don’t think that’s the case though, but my faith has definitely evolved. 
For me, my faith has always been about action. After all “… faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20) I believe that someone who really has Christ in his heart will bear fruit, and will be happier for it, in spite of hardships. This has definitely been the case for me. I’m happy knowing I’m doing God’s work and being faithful to what he’s called me to do. In fact, in my mind when I hear talk about faith, I think about “being faithful” instead of just “believing”. 
I really want to live my life the way God wants me to. Before coming to Haiti, a big part of that was being generous to others and helping both friends and strangers. A major struggle for me was trying to put this into practice in Haiti. The problem is that the need here is just so great. I bought a motorcycle shortly after arriving here, for example. Often, one or another of my new friends would ask me to lend my motorcycle for some important errand or another they needed to take care of. Inevitably, something on the bike came back broken, and at least once the friend returned injured. Haitians don’t hesitate to ask for things, and I quickly realized I was going to have to change my ways or become seriously overwhelmed. The only response I give now to the majority of requests is “no” (except in special cases) and it allows us a bit of breathing room to get the really important work done of providing clean drinking water. 
The next part is where is gets more difficult for me. Back as a high school student when I studied my bible daily and kind of settled in my theological beliefs, I concluded that Jesus is very much opposed to violence and killing, apart from the turning over the tables of the money changers in the temple and that sort of thing. “Turn the other cheek” is the theme of the new testament, not making war, or fighting for what’s yours. Honestly, I try not to think of the theological implications of what we have going on here now.  
The problem came to a head when we were robbed at gunpoint at the end of 2005. I wasn’t here, actually, it was a couple of volunteers who were taking care of the mission while Leslie and I were having Christmas in B.C. Please try to imagine this situation: we were (are) living in a community where the police don’t have working phones or vehicles to use to get to a crime scene. If you offer to take them there in your own vehicle, they tell you they need a “displacement fee”. If anyone there is a crime in progress, they will often refuse to come altogether because they might get hurt. The justice system is almost entirely non-functional. I heard recently that out of roughly 1800 prisoners in the main prison in Port au Prince, only about 150 have seen a judge. Yes, judges are bought and sold here. Fortunately, Canadians and Americans are backed by their embassies and that tends to help them in legal situations, but I digress. 
The long and short of it is that here, unlike in North America, you’re kind of on your own as far as home protection goes. Furthermore, if a criminal comes to your home and gets what he wants, with no resistance, he or his friends are going to come beck again. As the only foreigners (and perceived “wealthy”) folks around, we’re very much a target, and constantly being watched. If someone comes to your home with a gun, you can’t say anything unless you have something to answer is with. The practicalities of the situation demanded that we either get used to being robbed, or get a gun. So now we have a gun, and I hate it, but word quickly spread that we had one and we haven’t been robbed sense. I try to make myself feel better by telling myself that I’ll aim for the knees, if it ever comes to that. It doesn’t help that the gun is a .45 – enough to drop a bear. (if there are any local missionaries reading this, would anyone like to trade our .45 pistol for your .22? Perhaps someone in the capital who wants more firepower?) Hopefully, we will never need to use it. 
Finally, a very important part of having a healthy faith comes with finding healthy Christian fellowship. That, I have found in the other missionaries in our area. They are all from a different generation from ours (50 years +) but we more or less all have the same heart when it comes to Haiti and we’re all here for the same reason. This may not be true about all the missionaries in Haiti, but our friends are all wonderful people. We make a point of formally getting together for a bible study/fellowship time once every two weeks. Christian fellowship can be so hard to find in North America, in a culture that puts more importance on material wealth than on Christian living. 
Now, onto something crafty to satisfy the crafty types. Our Friends Mathew and Nels helped motivate me to make our own solar food dehydtator.

I’ll explain what I did. I salvaged some wood that was leftover from the apartment formwork (the stuff that survived the fire) and made a 4′ X 2′ by 1′ box and drilled holes in the bottom, along the edge that’s closest to the ground. I also drilled a row of holes along the top edge along one of the sides, the side that’s highest. Then, I painted the whole thing black. (More accurately, I directed one of our workers to paint it black. I hate painting.) I made several screens, painted them black too for good measure, and then made the lid by wrapping saran wrap around a wooden frame. I’m a lousy carpenter, so I made the whole thing very simple. The saran wrap makes a nice, airtight seal on the top edge of the box. The tropical sun is so hot, that I can feel the hot air coming out of the vents on the top edge. So air goes in, heats up, dehydrated my tomatoes, and then leaves through the top vent.

We already dehydrated a batch of bananas, mangoes, and tomatoes and today we started on a second batch of tomatoes – about 15-20 pounds worth this time. I got the idea because when we get bananas out of our garden, we get a huge amount all at once and they are impossible to eat. Some go in the freezer, but the rest we give away. Now, we can dry them and eat them like candy. It’s tomato season right now, and they are dirt cheap (like under 20 cents/pound) so we’re making sun dried tomatoes today. They will be ready after about 3 days of sun. 
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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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