The last few weeks have been all about food and beaches on the blog. Sometimes it’s easier to write about that stuff because it doesn’t involve feelings. I mean, other than expressing my love for white sand or steak au poive. There are always feeling type things going on though, behind the computer.
Before Chris and I stepped into the world of adoption we talked a lot about how hard it was going to be for our family to not be able to travel home until we had all the legalities taken care of. Because Olivia has been filed as an abandoned child, we don’t have the option of getting a passport for her in her birth name with her birth mother’s approval for travel, so we are here as a family until she’s officially a Rolling. Chris and I decided before we ever met Olivia that we wouldn’t ever leave the country together without her. That was just something that we felt was important to us. We’ve tried to take weekends away, like last weekend, just on our own, but that’s as far as it’ll go.
Living in Haiti is hard on a good day. Even after years of being here, which you would think would help you get used to things, it’s hard. It’s easy to get into a rhythm of life where you just sort of go on auto pilot. The “big deal” things shift and change over time and you realize what you thought was so hard to deal with a few years ago is now a walk in the park that hardly blips on your radar, and things like death threats or people lighting your car on fire resonate a bit more. It’s like that wherever a person lives though, the problems are just different, and I think bigger, in places that are less comfortable and convenient.
Until Christmas of 2007 the longest either of us had been in the country in one stretch was about 7-8 months, max. We both know the importance of getting out to get rested and refreshed. It’s so vitally important for our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. We need to reconnect with friends and family. We need to be in a place where we don’t have to think so much about everything. We need to be able to go places and not feel like we have to work so hard to do the simplest things like get gas or groceries or drive across town. Under normal circumstances we try to take a month off in the summer to go home and do things like camping and eating fresh Okanagan fruit and hugging our families. At Christmas we try to take about 2 weeks. We’ve found it’s the right amount of time to get the break we need and feel excited to come back and get back on the horse that is ministry.
Chris has been here for 19 months without leaving. I got to go home last summer to be in a wedding, so I’m going on a year come September. Next week Chris leaves for 10 days, and I’m so happy for him. I know how badly he needs it. I’m also looking forward to a few days away in September. My brother is going to Orlando for a wedding and asked if I could meet him there. I just talked to him yesterday and both of us are looking forward to 5 days with no responsibilities other than having a ridiculous amount of childish fun at Disney World, and laughing until our sides hurt. No cooking and no diapers and being able to sleep in past 5 sounds so exciting to me. And I love my brother dearly so the idea of getting to hang out with just him for a few days, while on vacation somewhere other than where we grew up is totally fun for me.
The only problem with looming vacations is that we tend to start thinking about them all. the. time. And then other things start becoming a big deal. You know what I mean? You just keep telling yourself that in x number of days you get a break from “all this”. Then “all this” seems like so much more work, or so much more of a sacrifice etc.
The fact is, we’re both tired. We’ve been noticing things in each other ad not saying much about it. Yesterday things sort of oozed over (wow, that’s an understatement) for me. Okay, really I was a big blubbery, snotty mess. This year has been a stressful one for us with the van fire and the fact that the people responsible have not been arrested yet, even though the police have all the right paperwork and the people are right in plain sight every day. That’s emotionally exhausting for us and will continue to wear on us every day until something more happens. I can’t tell you how hard it is to know that everything is sitting right there, the deed just needs to be done, but no one wants to step out and actually do it. We have seen how words get passed around to placate, with no real intention of follow up. I feel so incredibly sad for the people of this country because as far as a justice system goes, there is no one that is actually wanting to work in the best interest of the every day person. Coming from a country where I see that as a right of mine and know that the systems and people are in place so that as soon as I dial three little numbers people are on it seems unfair. It angers me. But, I think that’s an entirely different post all together.
It’s hot too. I don’t think we ever remember how much that affects our daily functioning. We start wondering what’s wrong with us when we have no energy and we’re crabby all the time. It’s amazing what constant sweat and just the fog and feeling of being grimy all the time will do to a person. After about a month of it a light bulb goes on and we find ourselves saying, “Oh yeah, it’s ridiculously warm and humid right now! No wonder we aren’t much fun to be around.” It’s hard after living in months of that to not start taking it out on each other. It happens subtly, and then we realize what’s going on and have to really work at remembering to give each other a bit of grace, and to try not to continue wit the unhealthy stuff.
One of the things that I’ve been having a hard time with is enthusiasm for my mission work. Part of it is that I’ve got a handle on all the things that are regular for me – email updates, accounting, visitor prep etc. Those are easy and often routine. Also, when Olivia came into the picture I had made a point of handing off anything that I didn’t need to be doing that someone else could. The result is that I don’t have a huge amount of stuff on my plate. Because we have things pretty streamlined now and have no plans of starting new projects, my work is what it is. Nothing really new to deal with on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. I want to state for the record that I LOVE what we’re doing. I know that it’s saving lives every day. I just feel like the heaviness from being tired and everything else is wearing on my enthusiasm. I shared with Chris that I have felt some resentment towards Haiti and the mission work because of the things that we’ve gone through over the last few months and the amount of time and energy that it’s sucked out of us. I don’t really care if anyone disagrees with that, that’s just my reality. I know it’s there and I’m working through it. It’s hard to be in the midst of this every day, to be living and working in it and not able to really get away from it, and to always have a good attitude about it. I know it’s an area where I need to grow and I have seen growth over the years, but this is the season that I’m in right now.
Being tired, being hot. They wear on us and they eat away at things and not only do we find ourselves having to deal with the everyday stuff here, we find ourselves having to pick up the pieces of broken things that tumble down around us because we’re having a hard time looking after ourselves and each other. I know that Chris and I will both benefit from some time away, even if it is on our own and short. We both wish that it could be together as a family, but we don’t have that option right now. We know we need to stick it out. We need to give each other space. We need to communicate. We need to do what we can here to get through until we can take a break.
Today, as part of some self care, I’m getting out of Dodge. I’m going to spend the next two days helping out in Canaan’s clinic, just up the road. I know that getting out and being around fresh faces and doing something out of my norm is a healthy thing for me, and so does Chris which is why he suggested it. Since the van burned I haven’t gotten to go to Port with Chris to do errands, something that I looked forward to even though it can be so nauseating. Just getting out is necessary for me. I’ve just been trying not to be a whiner about it. The other thing is that I have bad back problems and riding around in the work trucks aggravates it a lot. Until my chiropractor gets back next month I’m trying to avoid any unnecessary bumping around. So, I’m going to do what I can this week to feel more healthy emotionally and hopefully that will spill over into everything else.
I know it can be hard to relate to people like us that are living in places like Haiti doing any kind of ministry if you’re not living in it every day. For people like us, it can be hard to really explain what goes on or how it affects us. What I can say is that we need your prayers and support, even if you don’t get it. We would love it if you would be praying for our family, very specifically, or generally. The thing I love about God is that he knows what our needs are before we do, and even when you don’t. If you want to pray specifically pray for our well being, that we would be very aware of what we need to be doing to look after ourselves, and then do it. Pray that we’ll look after each other. It can be hard to reach outside of yourself when you see the things that you’re struggling with, and care about the specific needs of those closest to you. I struggle with this. Pray for our communication, that we would be able to talk to each other about the stuff going on and that it would help us be stronger as a family. Pray for our adoption. Like many others that are here and in the process of adopting, or adopting from abroad, the process is SLOW and frustrating and hard. It doesn’t make sense and it’s the kids that lose. We are so blessed that we get to have Olivia living with us through this time. We know that and are so thankful for it. It’s still very hard for us though because we see her growing up so fast and know that our families and friends are missing out on so much. She’s the first grandchild for both sides and I know it’s heartbreaking to our parents that they’re missing so much. Most of all pray that God will just breathe into us what he knows we need right now. I think sometimes it’s hard for us to even identify those things, but we know the holes are there.
I would encourage you to pray for others that you know are in ministry right now too, wherever they are and whatever they are doing. I know they need it :o)
Okay, off to pretend I know what I’m doing in a clinic setting!