Friday, Saturday and today were declared days of prayer here in Haiti. I know others have posted about this so there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said. What has been interesting is how seriously the entire country has taken this. Normally this would be a weekend of revelry as people started celebrating Karnival, but this year there will be no Karnival.
Church was packed again this morning. We know that many there had been there for hours before we arrived for the service. It was interesting to sit and listen and hear people talking about their country and the need to pray. In Canada I think we often pray for our leaders, but we pray they will make good decisions that are in line with our personal political views. Today the pastor spoke bluntly about corruption and that those in leadership steal when they feel like stealing and how it is only God that can change their hearts. He listed all of the government offices, starting at the Presidency and working his way down to the local judiciary that we see in communities all through the country. Corruption is not something that exists only on one level, it exists on every level, and it is the average person that suffers. Haiti will not move forward until corruption is eradicated. This morning we sat in a church overflowing while people prayed for their nation. It would be easy for me to comment on how we never do this in Canada but then I realize that we have it pretty good, even when we think we don’t and that our country might be going down hill in our own minds. We do not know suffering and we do not know corruption and we do not know what it feels like to be stuck in place where we wonder if our children will be fed or even survive. The layers are so many and so deep.
At one point this morning the song book got closed and people started singing from memory. One song led into another and another and another. One of the elders in the church was dancing on the stage. He is thin and has tinted glasses and did not care what anyone thought. One of the ladies leading the singing this morning, in her mid-40’s, jiggled and wiggled and praised her God. My favorite though was watching the older woman in the wheel chair. They had parked her close to the front so there was room to move around her. She may have been confined to a wheel chair, but there wasn’t a part of her body that wasn’t moving in worship. I was sure the roof was going to come off at a few different times and I just kept thinking about how much joy it must have been bringing to the heart of God to hear his people, who have suffered so much, worship him with so much joy.
That picture was taken not too long before I headed home to finalize wedding plans back in 2006. Valentines Day is not really a “holiday” for us, or at least not one we celebrate because of the commercial meaning. Instead, it marks the day that Chris proposed and we started this whole crazy ride.
I remember the day so clearly because it was so strange compared to the “norm” for us. The day before I mentioned that Valentines Day was coming and Chris immediately said that we needed to do something the next day and decided we would go for dinner. To me, it wasn’t a big deal and I wasn’t expecting anything and didn’t think Chris was the type to do anything.
The next day came and we did what we needed to do that day. Troy and Tara had called to see if they could stop by and meet Chris on their way home from St. Marc. They were new in the country and I had met them a couple weeks before, but they hadn’t met Chris yet. He made plans for them to stop by. About an hour before they were supposed to arrive Chris decided to go do an errand on his motorcycle that would take him a couple hours. I didn’t understand because it was him that they were coming to meet and he decided to leave. It was very unlike him. Several hours came and went, Troy and Tara came and went, and then Chris came home. I was painting filters and our friend Mike was in the house checking internet stuff. Chris came out and told me that he had forgotten to tell the cook that we were going for dinner so she had made enough for us and that we needed to eat it, but we could go for dessert. I thought it was strange that he was still so adamant about going out and told him we didn’t need to go. He insisted, so we got ready to leave, ate and then caught a ride with Mike to Moulin Sur Mer, a local resort about 10 minutes away.
When we got to Moulin Sur Mer the sun was just going down. We ordered a bottle of wine, another totally out of character thing for Chris to do while we were out. As we sat at a table on the beach, drinking wine, we watched the sun go down. At this time of the year we have what I call “the orange hour”, where the sun sinks into the ocean and everything turns an amazing shade of orange for a short time. The sunset that night was flaming orange and beautiful. I still remember it.
As we sat talking Chris all of the sudden got very serious. I think I asked him what he was thinking about, something I did and still do often because he is a thinker and doesn’t always remember that he hasn’t told me something. He told me that he was thinking that we should make some plans. I asked what kind of plans. He said, “Long term plans.” At that point in my life long term was a few months for me. I thought he was maybe talking about planning our summer vacations to coincide so we could spend some time together away from Haiti. I asked, just to clarify, what kind of long term plans he was thinking about.
“I think we should get married.”
Very matter of fact, very to the point. I stared at him and said, “Are you serious?”
He said, “Um, yeah. So… will you?” He had to ask because I had started crying and still hadn’t said yes or no. I was more shocked than anything because I had always thought he would be one of those guys that would need more time. We had only been together for 5 months. He later told me that when he saw his parents at Christmas a couple months before he had told them that the next time he saw them we would either be engaged or broken up. He just knew that we were either going to get married, or realize that we wouldn’t invest our time in something that wasn’t going anywhere. Turns out the next time he saw his parents it was 5 days before our wedding :)
Yesterday as we sat with Peter, Sara and the kids enjoying some cold drinks at Moulin Sur Mer after a good time of showing the kids the animals and playing on the play ground I teasingly asked Chris what he was going to do for me for Valentine’s Day. A few minutes later he told me that he was taking me back there tonight while Sara watched Olivia for us. He had set it all up days before :) So, the Rolling’s have a date night tonight and I’m excited. I think the last one was when we went away in August.
Tonight we get to enjoy each other and remember how this crazy life together got started. Here we are four years later. We’ve gone from being single to married to parents. We have gone from overseeing about 6 employees to overseeing 20. We have gone through a lot of difficult things, especially in the last year. Understatement. We have a new family here. I think we’ve gotten wiser. And I think we’ve gotten better at being married and at being parents. I think, and hope, we’ve learned a few things. And realized how much we still have to learn.
And, like I told Chris last night, if he asked me again, I would say yes all over again.