I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, and I know that if I don’t do it now, it’ll remain an idea in my head.
I want to tell you about Yonese. I’ve mentioned her on here before, but I think I said that I would share more when I write a post just about her, because really, she deserves a post all her own.
Yonese was hired by the founders of the mission to come in and clean and cook dinner on the weekends. Over time, her days have changed and her role has developed a bit more. When I arrived in 2005 she was still working weekends, but after we got married we changed her to two days during the week, and it was mostly to clean and go to the market as I had taken on meal prep for us.
Yonese is nothing short of amazing. She’s in her early 50’s and the mother of 4 children. She is a grandmother too. On top of that she has at least one nephew living with her, and has in the past been approached by members of the community to help care for kids that were in dire situations because she’s respected and people know that she loves well.
In the years that Yonese has been working at the mission I’ve grown to love her a lot. I started to get to know her more after we got married and I had to take more responsibility for running our home. While communicating over market lists and me having to tell her what I needed done we’ve developed a relationship. Her patience with me as I learned Creole was something I really appreciated, because there have been some funny conversations!
Over the years we’ve handed the responsibility of organizing and cooking the food for classes to Yonese. Yonese is educated, and I greatly appreciate that we have a rhythm now where I can print off the menu plan and she tells me what’s in season and suggests changes, then I give her a wad of money and leave the rest to her. She loves to feed people well and represent the mission well. If you’ve every been here for a class you’ve probably thanked Yonese for the amazing food she cooks. I appreciate that I don’t have to carry this burden anymore, because on top of teaching and now having a family, it’s one less thing to think about.
When Yonese comes in to do her regular cleaning days I realize that she is doing so much more for our family. As Olivia has gotten bigger she has gladly allowed Liv to follow her around the house “helping” when I know that Liv is not being a help at all. She chats away with Liv and because of that Olivia is learning Creole. I love seeing the special relationship that they have and I am so grateful that God has put this loving, caring woman in our home.
There are times where I joke with Yonese about us having the same brain. Often I think of things that I want to ask her to do when she’s here, and then I forget only to see her tackling the exact job I was wanting to ask about. On many occasions we’ve had a good laugh about it.
Yonese is a devoted Christian woman and Chris and I have laughed at times because she’s taken the time to give us a mini sermon about different topics, and has reminded us when times are hard that we need to put our trust in God alone. She is faithful and as honest as they come. There are mission things that we trust her with that we wouldn’t with anyone else. I know part of this is her age, and part of it is her character. She is responsible and conscientious.
I love that over the years we’ve been able to develop a relationship where we can talk about serious stuff. I can ask her what the Haitian perspective is on things, and she tells me honestly. We can chat about local stuff and she tells me her thoughts. We can share our views on things as two women talking. I LOVE that.
I love and so appreciate the way I see Yonese care for our family, the way she loves my child, the way she goes that extra mile and takes pride in the little things that she knows will be helpful for me. I always try to make sure I’m carrying my own weight and work beside her, so to speak. I want her to know that I don’t take her for granted and that I’m willing to get my own hands dirty too and do the same things she does when she comes to work. I know she sees that because we’ve talked about it and she’s commented on the fact that she’s told people in the community that I do the same work she does, that I’m not afraid to work etc. As my belly has grown I’ve seen her take on the things that she knows will be helpful, like laundry. I have never expected that she do our laundry, but she quietly goes and starts the washing machine before I can get to it and hangs and folds things for me, just because she knows it helps.
I don’t want you to think it’s all roses here though. Because we come from different cultures there are those times where clashes happen. Where we don’t understand each other. When Chris and I get frustrated and upset because we don’t understand, and Yonese gets stubborn for the same reasons. It’s in those times that we learn humility and we work on our communication. I’ve cried with Yonese as we’ve talked through things and realized that our issues revolved around not seeing things the same way simply because of where we’ve each grown up. But always, in the end, we find our way.
We have laughed together, and in times of need Yonese has been there. When we have had security issues in the night that Chris has had to deal with she has come to be with me. I won’t every forget Yonese’s joy when she saw Olivia for the first time. We hadn’t told the workers we were going to be gone that morning, we just left at 4 am and were home by 9 am. When Yonese walked into the house and saw us with this teeny, tiny bundle she covered her face and almost cried, then threw her hands up in the air and said, “Mesi Jezi!!” She’s loved that babe ever since and just this morning I watched her wander around the house working as Olivia held onto her skirt and trailed behind.
We feel very blessed to have Yonese in our lives and hope that we get to enjoy a relationship with her for many years to come.