Feeding the Need

Last week I received a comment from a reader in response to the last post that I thought was interesting. Basically they said that they started reading because of the crisis in Haiti, but that since then the blog has “morphed” into posts about kids and pets. I’ve been thinking about that a bit since reading that.

Truth? I have been talking about Olivia on here. And her adoption. And getting ready to come home on sabbatical. And now how she’s liking Canada etc. We did write about our much loved and now passed on dog, Jabez. And no, we haven’t been writing a ton about Haiti lately.

Why? Well, let me back track a bit for a second here. First off, when I started writing this blog I didn’t even tell anyone I was writing it. I was shy and stepping out into the world of writing for public consumption. It was a little while before people started figuring out what I was doing and reading along. At that time I wrote more about my experiences in Haiti because that was what was fresh and new to me. I had only been on the ground for a couple of months and everything was foreign to me, and I had lots of thoughts an opinions about it. Now that I’ve lived in Haiti for 5 years, those same things are no longer new and don’t hold the same excitement/interest for me. While they might be interesting to others, I can, personally only write about the same kinds of things so often without boring myself. And truth be told, the longer you live in one place and participate in what’s going on around you, the less it blips on your radar. I see this every time we have visitors. They comment on things that I don’t even see anymore. People bathing in groups in the canals? Yes, I see it, but I see it every day. People carrying goats on the back of vehicles tied by their feet? Yes, I remember commenting on that during my first trip in too. Now the goats are just everywhere and I don’t hardly notice them. Garbage everywhere? Yes, it is everywhere and no I don’t pay much attention to it anymore.

If you think about this from a North American perspective, it might look something like checking out a neighborhood that you’re considering living in. You notice everything. Is there a playground? What condition are your potential neighbors houses in? Is there a lot of traffic? Where is the nearest grocery store? Once you move in and have a few years under your belt you don’t notice right away that the neighbors house paint is peeling, that one of the swings in the playground no longer has a seat, or that you don’t ever actually step foot in that corner market because you prefer to save some cash by driving a bit further to the bigger store down the way. Things move and change around you and you just sort of observe it and absorb it and don’t need to comment on it because it’s just part of your life. It is no different when you live cross culturally.

The second big thing is that this blog was started as a way to share my life with family, friends and anyone else who wanted to read it. My life. As in, the things that happen in my life. And then it became our life. If you read back, it has always been a mix of experiences while living in Haiti, and sharing about the particular phase of life I’ve/we’ve been in. When we got married I shared about the process of getting there, going back and forth between Canada and Haiti, and then the wedding. After that it was Haiti mixed with things about being newly weds, and doing that in Haiti. Then we took the plunge into adoption and brought Olivia home. I wrote letters to her and still do and share them on here because I hope that as she gets older and wants to know more about her story, about our story, that this will be a place to come for that. As she has grown up, I’ve shared the life we live as a family on here and people ask me why I haven’t posted anything about her if it’s been a little while. I love that people want to connect with our family this way. Being home here in Canada we’ve met so many people that tell us they read the blog regularly. It’s been so fun to connect with you! To know that you care enough about what we’re doing and who we are to want to keep reading. I know that many don’t ever comment, and from the people we’ve met, and the ones we know that do read, that not all of you read every day just from the stat meeter, but we LOVE that you do read.

The last big thing about this whole issue is actually a combination of the above points. The blog is aptly titled “Rollings IN Haiti”. It IS about our family, and it IS about Haiti. It’s about our life IN Haiti. We cannot separate the two. Telling you just about Haiti and our experiences there is only half the story. Not sharing how we respond to those things, how we feel about them, how they affect daily life, is only half the story. Only sharing about our family and not about the Haiti experiences is only half the story. You would be wanting to know how we do life, marriage, and family cross culturally. You would be asking about it, I know it. We are not one or the other.

We know that many of our now readers found us post earthquake. We love that you did and that you are still following along. We love that we could be a voice in the midst of a terrible situation. But, it was never our intention to be that voice. We were just ourselves and sharing what we knew to be true at that time, hoping it would let our regular readers know we were okay, and what was going on that the news wasn’t covering. To give you an idea of how that exploded I’ll give you numbers. Before the earthquake our average hits per day were about 90. They are now about 150-200, depending on the day of the week and whether I’ve posted. Two days after the earthquake the blog went viral with over 15,000 hits! We still have links coming in from some of the places that chose to feature our blog as a way for people to connect to what was going on in Haiti.

15,000 hits in one day from 90 is a big leap. It can put a lot of pressure on a person to perform and “feed the need” so to speak. We could have chosen to write about what people wanted to hear, the things that would keep them coming back. BUT, instead we chose to continue being ourselves and writing about the things we had always been writing about. Many people read back on the blog and learned more about who we are and wanted to continue reading, and that’s very cool. When you blog, you are putting yourself out there for public consumption. It would be really easy to keep questioning what we were writing and trying to taper it to what people wanted to read. But, I don’t roll that way. I started writing this as a place to share what I was thinking about and working through, and if people wanted to read that, then that was great. I/we have never written from the perspective of trying to feed our followers, as in, only writing about the things that we think they want to hear.

The truth is, everyone comes here to read with different needs and expectations. You may like some posts and not be interested in others. That’s fine. We have never made promises about what you will find. It’s not like it’s a baking blog and all the sudden I’ve decided I want to regularly talk about fixing motorcycles (which I know nothing about, by the way). We are a family, we are running a mission, and we’re doing it in a foreign country. Those are the parameters for what gets written about on here.

I know that the blog has been less about Haiti in recent months, and more about our family. But, consider where we’ve been at. In the last two years our family has gone through some very difficult things. Now that we’re in counseling for Post Traumatic Stress we are seeing how abnormal we are for being able to move through those things back to back in the way we have without reprieve. We haven’t had one major thing, we have had multiple things flowing into each other over a period of years. Those things have been hard. We have shared more details about them with friends and family and the mission board when we talk with them in person. There are some things we have shared on here, when we have been able, and there are lots that we haven’t for various reasons whether it’s for our own safety, the safety of the mission or that it’s too difficult to share in a way that people will understand. And you know what? In all of those things there has been a lot of pain too. We have been ministering, but we have also gone through a lot of hurt in the process. Those are hard things to write about and share without feeling like you’re going to be criticized. “You chose this life,” or “Well, you’re serving God, you should be willing to take this…” etc. And sometimes it’s just to hard to write about things. We want to respect the people we are in Haiti to serve, so sometimes sharing the ways the culture can hurt us in the midst of that is difficult.

In recent months we have been blessed to have the Craigs working with us as the mission. In an effort to train them and have them ready to set up shop in a new community next year we’ve handed over a lot of the day to day operations at the mission to them. That means that Chris and I have been less directly involved, and for good reason. The Craigs, in this process, freed Chris and I up to work on some big things like Olivia’s adoption. We haven’t been as directly hands on, so don’t have the “hands on” stuff to share, but have also been very focused on getting our adoption done. Our adoption journey was something that we have shared with people here since it started, so it’s natural that we wanted to share the finishing up of it. We know that through the blog we had an army of people praying for us and encouraging us. It has been wonderful. Through that though we had experiences with the adoption process that we probably won’t ever share on here for various reasons. There were things that were very hard, hurtful, anger inducing and just all around sad. We had a window into Haitian culture that we hadn’t had before and we’re not willing to share that at this point other than just saying that it was one of the most difficult experiences of our life. We literally fought for our daughter. So yes, that’s been a consuming thing for us, as it would be for any parent going through adoption. We were just in a place where we could and needed to be very hands on.

Now that we’re in Canada for a sabbatical I’m not really in a place to be talking about what’s going on in Haiti. I/we aren’t there. How can I be sharing about the cholera if I’m not directly there to tell you about it? All of my information is second hand. I believe in being honest and sharing with you what I know to be true. I can’t do that if I’m not there. And, now that we’re finally able to travel as a family and be home and get some rest, I really don’t want to talk about Haiti a lot right now. I’m on vacation. A much needed vacation. I want to talk about the things we’re doing now as a family, the things we’re enjoying, observing and looking forward to, because this is our life right now. We are not in Haiti right now, we are in Canada. I want to be present in Canada. I will leave writing about Haiti and the goings on of the mission to the Craigs, because they’re the ones that are there. When we get back to Haiti, we’ll start writing about Haiti. Until then, I’m afraid you’re probably going to get posts about the first snow fall for Olivia, what it feels like to be pregnant, and our first Christmas in Canada as a family. And I’m not going to apologize for that.

I/we are grateful that so many of you want to travel life’s road with us. I hope that what we share with you gives you a window into who we are, and that maybe by sharing some of the things we do that it gives you something to think about. It’s not easy to raise a family cross culturally. It’s not easy to have a strong marriage when you are working and living in the same place and together all the time. It’s hard to hear people yell things about your family because you don’t all look the same and there are years of cultural issues that many don’t ever understand. It’s not easy to know how to get through each day, and to know what is good to share and what isn’t. We hope that by talking about what we can it opens the door for other conversations. I, personally, believe that when we talk about the hard things it removes stigmas and helps us connect better. For example, talking about our miscarriage on here made coming home to friends and family easier because a) they knew about it, and b) they knew we were okay talking about it. Things like that make me happy and make me feel more connected.

I guess the bottom line of blogging for me is that we won’t ever be one of those families that posts stuff on the blog to see the stat meter go up. We won’t ever be those people that only write about what we think you want to read. We will be honest, and we will write about the stuff of life. Our life. If it’s not what people are looking for then, while I’m glad they stopped by, I hope that they’ll feel free to move on just like I do when a blog I’m reading just isn’t interesting anymore. We have never made promises of what will be posted and we won’t ever. We will talk about what is relevant for us at the moment, where we at at the time. If you like it, you like it. If you don’t, you don’t. So be it. This, my friends, is life.

Most of all, we want to thank you for being interested in the first place. The reality is we’re just a couple of ordinary people doing what we feel God has called us to do. We believe God has called us to Haiti to work with the people of Haiti, and we believe he has called us to do marriage well, and to parent well. Thanks for following along with that.

~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.

14 thoughts on “Feeding the Need

  1. Thankyou for your honesty and being yourself. I love reading your blog and your life as its happening. Hope u continue to enjoy your much needed sabbatical.
    Blessings to you and your family.

  2. bless your hearts…we love your updates…and continue to pray for you…wherever God takes you is up to Him…thanks for keeping us posted…we’d much rather “follow” your life than a fictional soap opera…thanks for being honest and real..

  3. Leslie, I love your blog and I check back faithfully to see if there are any specific things I can pray about for you. I love that you share where you are at and some of the things that are going on. I have never met you but I feel that I know you well enough from your blog that if I would actually meet you in person there would be tears in my eye’s and I would want to give you a hug. You are a beautiful family and wonderful people. I can’t imagine the struggles you have faced and not put on here, the ones you put on here were enough to make me cry with you and be mad at time and also happy at times depending on the way things were going. I am thankful for your blog and the things you share please continue sharing the way you do:) God Bless you!

  4. Good grief, people get awfully picky about something that is personal to someone else and shared freely. There is no cost or obligation on the reader’s part! I was one who found you by google to get “closer” to the events in Haiti, but I love reading about your family, your adoption, can relate to the loss of a passing beloved dog. I am glad you choose to be yourselves and not worry about the stat meter! God bless your ministry in Haiti AND your family!

  5. Hi Leslie, Is it possible the commenter in question misunderstands the function of the various CWH blogs? It would seem to me they are looking for the CWH Blog, not your personal Blog.

    I love reading you personal family blog and would not like it to take the place of the official mission blog.

    Barb

    • Hi Barb! I have no idea what their understanding is, other than the fact that they commented that the blog has morphed from what they originally found post-quake. No worries about the mission blog taking over, we’re here to stay for a while.

      Hugs my friend. I’m sad and jealous that I won’t get to see you next week.

  6. Hi, Leslie.

    I googled “Haiti blogs” after the earthquake and eventually discovered about half a dozen that I read faithfully, including yours. They have been a revelation and a challenge to me.

    I strongly support your absolute right to decide what you will write about. The direction you want to take — the things you choose to write about OR omit — this is all yours to decide. Of course you could not continue to write solely about the earthquake, no one could.

    I don’t know what the original comment was like, but I hope it was made respectfully. That person can Google other online resources to follow quake-specific information.

    Thank you for publishing.

    –Nancy

  7. I absolutely love what you write, not only because you have the gift of writing, but because you do write about all areas of your life….which in turn helps us know you better. Loved your recipies, loved praying you through the earthquake, adoption trauma and will love praying you through what it feels like to be pregnant….did I miss something here or was this just a pre-thought??? Whatever it is…. I will enjoy reading through your words what you are experiencing and seeing in a culture that is so different from ours. You just keep on doing what you have been doing. We love you and love what you are doing for the Haitians. Enjoy the holidays with your sweet family.

  8. Of course those of us who really want to know you and how to care about Haiti and your family will never make a comment like that. You keep being you and know there are always some people who won’t like us no matter how hard we try. Tough reality.
    You are in my prayers

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