Last night was crash night around here. In fact, most of the day was one big ol’ meltdown. The blog has been relatively quiet because we’ve been insanely busy over the last month +. Let me put it this way… 37 days, and only 3 of those were visitor free. As in, we didn’t have people staying with us. On top of all the other normal day to day stuff. It has been a bit nutty, but a very good nutty. Now we’re just tired and trying to regroup. Sooo, this is what we’ve been up to for the last couple of weeks.
Mid-month we had our first Vision Trip of the year. We really enjoyed Rachael and Elizabeth. Two very fun ladies. We had fun showing them life here for us and they had some cool experiences because of it. They got to go with Chris to pick Adeline up from the hospital, got to see how a tribunal/palace of justice is set up when they did custody papers for Adeline to go to Canaan, got to go on deliveries, went with us on a staff outing and did all the other “normal” Vision Trip stuff.
On Monday of the Vision Trip (14th) we took a trip to St. Christophe, the memorial for earthquake victims, with any of our staff that wanted to go along. We flew back into Haiti the day before the one year anniversary so the timing was a big crazy with trying to get there earlier, but we had talked with our workers about going and finally set a date. 6 came with us and I think it was a moment of reflection for all of us. Sadly, the memorial that was set up for the anniversary was already showing some wear. A couple of men that had been working in a quarry back in the hills came along as we were getting ready to leave. Chris asked if it was actually the spot where the victims of the quake were buried, or only a space that they set up as the memorial. They told us it was in fact where they were buried, and that everywhere we saw gravel was part of the mass grave. It was sobering to realize how many people were laid to rest there when we looked around and saw how much gravel there was.
The Super Team:
Saturday we said good-bye to our Vision Trippers, and on Monday Chris went to Port to pick up our friend Lori and her team. Her team of 15-18, depending on the day and time. We had 16 people staying here at the mission, and two translators that would come and go.
The mornings were spent doing clinic and other work. Lori is a dental assistant back in Wisconsin, but has been fully trained by her boss to do all sorts of great tooth stuff. Seriously, this lady rocks. She tries to come to the mission a couple of times each year to do a dental clinic for our workers and their families. Kate, a nurse friend of hers, has been coming for about two years as well and does a medical clinic at the same time. We keep it really organized and sign up our workers and their families, giving everyone an appointment time and an appointment card. Some in Haiti would say that’s impossible, but it’s not because we do it and it works. Lori loves doing clinic here because it’s so organized and relaxed.
This time around, because she had such a big team we only did clinic in the mornings, and she took everyone to do other things in Montrouis in the afternoons. This meant we didn’t run out of things for the non-clinic people to do. In fact, these people were fabulous!
In the dental clinic we saw all of our workers and security guards, plus the Rolling family. I love that Lori can bring an entire dental office in a suitcase and tackle things like holes in teeth from grinding (ahem, Chris) and fixing falling apart dental work giving others a prettier smile (that would be me). We love that she can do this regularly for our workers, giving us an opportunity to love them by doing something they often can’t afford to do themselves. She can do fillings for them, and other major work they probably wouldn’t get done here, period.
In the medical clinic we saw about 20 people per morning. I LOVE doing this because it gives us a chance to meet family members of our workers. My favorites are the moms, dads and grandparents. We get to see how proud our workers are to introduce them to us, and how proud they are of their children/grandchildren who have full time work at the mission. I have such deep respect for the elderly here. Their lives are hard. Their bodies show the years of work they have put in to survive and provide for their families. When they come in and say their bodies hurt all over I want to tell them that what they deserve is a good long rest. And I wish some of the services for the elderly we have back home were available here for them. Services that would allow them to rest and be looked after after so many years of living.
My very favorite this time around was Melix’s grandmother. If I had to guess how old she was I would say somewhere in her late 60s or 70s. She was all hunched over and olny stood about 4 feet tall. Her skin was leathered and sagging from years of work. When she was done her consult she got up to leave, thanking Katie and Ruth and headed towards the door. She then quickly turned around and bounced down the step to where I was standing, grabbed my hand and gave me a kiss on it, then ran out the door. I just wanted to hug her and all her sweetness.
The other members of the team got busy on the first day and did a whole lot of stuff. Two ladies cleaned out a very nasty storage room that no one else wanted to touch. Two cleaned out the van that hadn’t seen a cleaning since before it went into the shop over two years ago. They were able to get the smoke haze off the insides of the windows, vacuumed, washed and dusted every nook and cranny inside and out. It was such a treat because it was something that needed to be done but we hadn’t had the time to do it. A bunch of the guys helped load trucks for filter deliveries, build filters and then moved on to painting filters.
On Wednesday it was more of the same, except that almost all the non-clinic people set out to paint filters. We got a huge order to ship 54 filters over to La Gonave this weekend, on top of the two deliveries we did back to back on Wednesday and Thursday. That meant 114 filters going out of the work yard this week. Painting filters is one of the most monotonous jobs there is. When you put about 10 people on it though it can go quickly, as we witnessed. On Wednesday morning the painting crew pumped out 65 filters! Amazing. It meant we could meet all orders this week and we didn’t need to take our workers off of other work, like washing sand.
We had a ton of fun with this group. Big groups can open up a whole can of problems, but this group was fabulous. On top of all the stuff that got done in a few days we had fun playing together. Olivia had her very own entertainment crew that doted on her for three days. We went for dinner on the last night at Club Indigo which was a treat for us. One evening there were some Kompa dance lessons. We laughed a lot. They really encouraged us. They prayed for us. They looked for opportunities to serve. They were SO easy.
One of my favorite things happened Monday night. After a long day of hosting and getting everyone settled I finally turned in for the evening. I was just mentally shutting down, Olivia was in bed, and Chris was doing a last email check when we got a knock on the door. My first thought was that there was something wrong, especially when we opened the door to see a whole group of people standing there. Was I ever surprised when I realized it was all the ladies and they told me they were having a surprise baby shower for me! I knew Lori had told Chris something on the phone, and he wouldn’t tell me what it was, but I had completely forgotten all about it.
They brought an entire suitcase full of treats, including streamers and games and snacks. I got gifted with not only baby stuff for Junior, but also fun stuff for Mommy, like cookie mixes and cake mixes and decaf coffee – all things Mommy likes. The ladies took time to pray for our little family, gave me advice about expecting number two, and just loved on me. I pushed down tears a few times. It was really sweet.
Other random bits and pieces (isn’t this a super post??):
Thank you to those of you who were praying for Adeline, the woman Chris helped in the accident. She was moved to Canaan after getting out of the hospital, and this week we contacted a Haitian friend who is good at connecting with people and asked if he could take the bits of information the people at Canaan were able to get from Adeline and try to locate her family. The same day he started looking he found people who knew her family. Yesterday, only the second day of his search, he found her grandfather and from there the rest of the family was finally made aware of her location. Adeline has some mental issues, and apparently had left before. This time they had no idea where she had gone.
Yesterday afternoon Chris got a call from her sister saying she was in Pierre Payen and wanted to come meet him so they could go see Adeline. He met her, took her to Canaan, and then drove all of them to St. Marc where the sister lives. Today they were going to take her to the rest of the family in the Artibonite. We’re grateful she’s back with her family, but please pray for them. Haiti doesn’t have the facilities to take care of people with mental illness so often there are issues within the family. We’re just grateful we were able to reconnect all of them.
Had a doctors appointment yesterday. It’s still a boy! And a big one at that. Junior is measuring two weeks ahead of me. The doctor once again told me not to expect a little baby. I am also retaining water like crazy. My feet look like sausages pretty much all the time. It sucks. It especially sucks when I step on the scale at the doctors office and get a lecture about my weight and yet I know that a good part of that is just fluid that will not leave me alone!
Today I booked flights for Liv and I to head back to Canada. We won’t be going until May, but it feels weird. I’ll admit to putting it off for a while because while I might be looking forward to time back in my home and native land, it’s going to be hard for our little family to be apart for a while. I know we’ll get through it though. The good news is that we have some friends who are past Haiti missionaries, that are committing to come in for the summer to be here with Barry so Chris can get away for longer with me and the family. It’s such a blessing, and they’re seeing how God is bringing their plans together on their end as well. Pray for them as they get all the details sorted out for their brood. We are feeling very grateful.
Those of you that have been reading for a while remember that we got Annie, our puppy, last summer. In July, about two months before we left for Canada. When we got back from Canada Annie was a 70lb spaz. I’m sorry for those of you that don’t like people referring to animals that way, but it’s the reality of the situation. Spaz, spaz, spaz. A few weeks ago we were trying to convince ourselves that there was hope, that maybe she would mellow out etc. I was saying it as much to Chris as I was to myself. Things like, “We need to remember that she’s still a puppy. She’s only 8 months old,” etc.
Well, I think something in her head clicked a week or so ago. The spaziness is diminishing and we’re seeing that she’s going to be a good girl to have around here. Just today I was hanging laundry and I looked over to see Olivia “riding” her (literally, Liv was singing a riding the dog song) – while she was lying there having a nap. No spaz in sight. Just a mellow acceptance that she was being sat on by a three year old. She is jumping less and less all the time. She is listening more. And, a really fun thing we discovered thanks to our Vision Trippers – she LOVES to swim. She’ll go in the ocean and paddle around where she can’t touch for a while, then head to shallower ground, then back out again. She can’t get enough of it, and thankfully our visitors have all thought it was great so she’s gotten to swim a lot in the last two weeks. Jabez didn’t like the water, so this is all new territory for us.
Anyway, where so grateful that having her is looking like a good thing now. I was feeling so bad with being so exhausted with the insanity.
Well, that’s the news from here! It’s definitely been a marathon. Please keep praying for us this weekend and as we go through the next week. While the visitors are gone, we still have a lot to take care of here. Next week will be spent preparing for a full training class from April 3-8. We get a week off after that, then another Vision Trip – our fullest one yet! We’re feeling tired and will be trying to get some good rest this weekend and next week, as well as regrouping as a family. I can always tell when we’re going through a busy time. This part of my, the part that sits just below the surface, is always in boarder line panic attack mode because of all the things that get put on the back burner while everything else is chaotic. Things like the laundry that I haven’t caught up on in over a month. Maybe that’ll be accomplished by the weekend. The house looks like a bomb went off, all. the. time. Seriously. It’s that come in, dump it, walk by it for a week, put it away and then replace it with something else. Yonese is my hero when it comes to that. After a busy week for her as well, we gave her the house keys yesterday and went to Port. When we came home the house was clean, things were put away, the dishes were done, sheets were changed, and she even did some of our laundry. I almost cried. I love her so much. She deserves a post of her own which I would like to do soon so you know why our family loves her like we do.
Okay, I think this book should be enough to keep all you stalkers satisfied for a while. Me? I’m going to go put my cankles up and get some rest. It would be so lovely if the three year old member of our house went into a coma and woke up around 9 am tomorrow, but I know that will not be happening. Sigh.