Our Christmas Marathon

This last week and a bit has been an incredibly full one for our family. I’ll give you the tour in pictures.

On the 10th we hosted what is becoming our annual Christmas BBQ with all our missionary friends. It was a good time for everyone. We always have wonderful potlucks and if anyone comes away hungry it’s their own fault. We enjoyed each others company and had a wonderful day together.

 

Monday and Tuesday had me getting things ready for our trip and doing crazy things like baking over 6 dozen cookies. Some went to Olivia’s class and others were for our staff Christmas party. Chris doesn’t understand what drives me to do these things. Some days I don’t either. I think I just needed to be a “mom” and do something “normal” like sending cookies to school. Her teacher was super excited because she’d been wanting to do something special, but was a bit limited so it was a hit.

How to entertain a baby? Let him play with the Christmas lights. I kind of freaked out until I realized that they were indoor/outdoor lights - waterproof - and he doesn't have enough teeth to do any damage.

Daddy has some pretty big pants to fill.

Wednesday morning we started our day as normal with staff prayer down in the work yard. Before we started Fritzner stopped everyone and said that they wanted to do something a bit different than usual. He then went on to say that several of our staff wanted to share a few things with us. We were amazed and incredibly touched when they began to share how grateful they were that we were there, that they thanked God for our courage and obedience to stay when things had been so hard for us and we could have left. They spoke words of encouragement to us. Words that had me fighting tears. They said they were committing to pray for our family, for us as directors, for the board, and for the mission and it’s needs.

I seriously almost lost it. It was so much more than just their words in that moment. It was bigger than that. It was the first time they had ever done that. Over the years we’ve heard people say things like, “Your workers don’t like you, they don’t think you should be here…etc.” (Not that those people really came from a position of really knowing anything.) Heartbreaking words that we, deep down, knew weren’t true. For our staff to take the initiative to do this for us on Wednesday signified so much more to us than I feel I’m able to well communicate. If I had to sum it up, it was the coming full circle of what we knew it meant to be obedient. God has called us to this place at this time and has not told us to go. He has spoken his calling very quietly into our hearts when everything else around us was screaming that it didn’t make sense. When people were saying we were crazy. Those words on Wednesday morning were like God speaking directly to us and him saying, “See, this is what I’ve been wanting you to see. This is why I needed you to stick it out. It IS important. You ARE supposed to be here. Be so very blessed. Let it wash over you. Let it heal. You are my children with whom I am well pleased.”

It was the perfect start to what ended up being a fabulous day. It still makes me feel all mushy and gushy inside.

Olivia’s school Christmas program was scheduled for the evening of the 15th, the day we would be in the air on our way to Seattle. So, we being good parents, went to the dress rehearsal. It was one of those “my baby is growing up” moments. As I watched my little girl sing “Away In A Manger” while dressed as an angel I just started melting. Then the older kids came out and did a big group presentation and I turned into a blubbering fool. When you live in a place like we live in you sort of have a foot in each world. We are always present in Haiti, but we are mindful of things like education and our kids needing to be ready for college or university when they’re in their late teens. From the time we talked about even having a family we weren’t sure what we were going to do for schooling. Until this past summer we still weren’t decided. We finally decided to try out Olivia’s school and see how it worked for us. It’s working beautifully, and I’m so grateful that Olivia has this opportunity. She gets to go to a great school where she has the opportunity to do really well.

Olivia with her best school friend, Esterline, all dressed up for the pageant.

We returned home after the dress rehearsal to finish getting ready for our staff Christmas party. Whenever we do a “fet” it’s always one of those things that leave me feeling a bit anxious. Because of the cultural differences they can either be a huge fail or a huge success, and you never quite know what’ you’re going to get.

I decided to do something different and do hamburgers and hotdogs with french fries, fried plantains, piklis (spicy coleslaw), and Haitian beet and potato salad. Yonese and Esperanta took care of the Haitian food for me and I did the rest with Sheena and Ryan’s help. When I told Yonese that I wanted her to have fun at the party and not be working the whole time she laughed and said, “But I like to help! I don’t always like to sit.” :) The food was a huge hit! I wanted to do something our staff wouldn’t normally get to eat, and I think it worked.

We played some games – BINGO and the present stealing game. We did Bingo with Christmas pictures instead of numbers because not all of our workers can read or write. It was a bit slow starting, but when they got the hang of it, they were SO into it. When Yonese won the first BINGO you would have thought she had just won a million dollars. It was so funny.We also did the present steal game which was also a big hit. I wish we would have videoed some of it. At one point Thony was laughing so hard he couldn’t stand up to go steal a present. HUGE hit all around. It was so fun to laugh with our staff to the point that our stomachs hurt. We had a time to talk about some work and mission stuff at the end and I was surprised that they kept asking more questions. I was expecting them to want to leave as soon as possible. We wrapped things up with handing out their year end bonuses. It was a wonderful afternoon.

Thursday morning we left the house just after 6 am to start making our trip home for Christmas. It was a LOOOONNNNGGG day. I always stress out about getting through check-in in Port. They don’t have luggage carts outside, and we were taking a bunch of coffee back for fundraising, so we had 4 check-in bags, two carry-on’s, two back packs, a stroller, diaper bag, and two kids. Thankfully Ryan was able to help us schlep things in and our friend Barb was able to take a bag too. The red cap guys are notorious for pushing their people to the front of the line, and as we were waiting to put our stuff on the security scanner one came up and tried to bump the line. Chris told him he needed to wait in line and he said, “He’s first class.” Chris looked at him and said, “There’s first class on the plane, there’s no first class in line.” :) There weren’t any lines inside so we didn’t have to wait long and the staff, aside from the lady at the scanner belt who was no help at all, were great. I loathe the fact that there are 3 security stops, all of which involve stripping down and taking things out of bags, within 400 feet of each other. Why you need three stops in the same 400 foot space when there’s only one entrance is beyond me. But I digress.

Our flight to Fort Lauderdale was painless. Usually you have to take your bags to the next terminal to re-check them, but a guy saw us as we were coming through customs and told us to come with him, and walked us right to an American Airlines desk in the same building and threw our bags on the belt there. Traveling with kids can be daunting, but I’m realizing that if you’re patient people are often really helpful and want to make things easier for you. Showing gratitude goes a long way.

As we were waiting at our gate in Fort Lauderdale we ended up sitting across from the pilot of our plane. It was Olivia that broke the ice, because she’s so social like that. In the course of conversation (What do you do? Oh, you’re missionaries in Haiti!) we found out that he was a Christian, and we ended up having a nice visit until it was time to board. He was so genuinely interested in our family. As a sweet little perk, when we were getting off the plane in Dallas Little Missy got to do this…

We arrived in Seattle close to 11 pm – 2 pm our time. It was a late night by the time we got to our friends house. Olivia was so tired that when we put her in bed she just looked up at me and puckered her lips for a kiss :)

Friday morning we hit the road and made our trip up to Canada. Olivia kept asking if we were at Nanna and Pappa’s yet. At one point we were at about the halfway point she asked if were were there yet. I told her we would let her know when we got there. She thought about that for a second then, with exasperation said, “We’re lost.” :) Chris assured her that we did actually know where we were going.

The last few days have been full of seeing friends and family, and going to church. Olivia got to go on a date with our friend Kelly to see Night In Bethlehem at our church here while Chris and I went on an adult date to see friends sing at a coffee house. That was a sweet moment because I had been missing hearing them sing at Christmas, and one song in particular that they always used to sing on Christmas Eve at church. They dedicated O Holy Night to me and it was sort of the cherry on my Christmas sundae.

Friends Tanya, Renee and Wayne bringing some Christmas cheer.

My winterized babies.

I’ve had a hair cut, got to see my chiro (which I was almost looking forward to more than coming home) and yesterday Alex got some of his vaccinations caught up. While at the health unit both kids got weighed and measured. Olivia is in the 50th percentile for weight and the 70th for height which actually surprised us a bit. Alex is in the 95th percentile for weight and as the nurse said, they don’t have a number for his height percentile. She called it a 97 +++++ :) He’s not just a little off the chart, they need a whole new chart for him.

Alex has this crazy ability to make his way to the tree, and then likes to grab at the presents. There *may* have been some presents harmed in his endeavors.

We’re counting down the days until Pappa comes home and it sounds like he has some plans to take his cheeky little granddaughter on a date on Friday so she can get her Tim Horton’s sprinkle donut fix. It’s their “thing” :) Today I’m hoping to finish up any shopping that needs to be done and then wrap things up and enjoy the next week with family and friends.

Decorating cookies with Nanna. No one has been brave enough to eat any of the cookies, because we all saw the icing application. Let's just say it involved some smooshing, then licking, then some more smooshing.

I’m just going to take the pressure off right now and let you know this will be the last blog post until after Christmas, and possibly until after New Year’s. I want to focus my time on enjoying the moments with my kids and family and will catch up when I feel I have time. I hope you’ll be doing the same.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas from our little family to yours.

~The Rollings

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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.

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