Transition

We arrived back home yesterday after a fabulous vacation, which I will be writing more about. Today though, I’m talking about transitioning back. 

Every time we come and go it’s always interesting to see what kind of transition I, and we as a family, go through. What strikes as weird/hard/normal… you get the idea. I just said to Chris this evening that one thing I noticed this time around when we were in North America is that I had to remind myself it was okay to leave food on the counter (things like chips, bread etc) and they didn’t have to be all sealed up tight or put in the fridge so they wouldn’t attract bugs. Here you can’t leave anything out or the ants will find it. Things like bread go stale or mold super fast if they’re left in the humidity. I also had to remind myself that I didn’t need to bleach rinse my veggies. And it was okay to drink water out of the tap. Try teaching your 4 and 1 year old that in one country it’s okay, and in another it’s not. Someone is going to get something at some point.

Coming back we usually try to red-eye it from Seattle into Miami, arriving somewhere around 6 am. Then we catch a morning flight into Port au Prince. We like it because most of us (ahem, not yours truly) can sleep on the plane and we arrive feeling okay and still have the day to get home and settle in, do a normal bedtime etc. We did that again this time and it was fine. I made great efforts to try and be happy even though I got about an hour of sleep on the plane. I did good.

Settling in wasn’t so bad. Until we put Alex to bed. And he cried for about two hours between me going in and trying to rock him down. Apparently he does get jet lag. Tonight was a bit better. Only about 45 minutes of crying. Phew. 

On Thursday I asked Olivia if she was excited about getting back. She said No. Flat out, didn’t think about it No. I was kind of stunned and finally asked her why. “Because it’s hot there”. She may have been born in Haiti, but I think she’s done a full citizenship conversion. 

We told ourselves it was going to be hot. It’s really about the same temperature that it was when we left. But, we are cranky nonetheless. Sadly, heat cranky sneaks up on you and you end up having a crap day and then after exhausting all other possibilities as to why it was a crap day you realize that it is in fact hot and that the heat messes with, well, everything. 

It didn’t help that when we were in the Miami airport and I went to charge my Haiti phone that the battery wouldn’t charge. Because it was puffy and looking like it was ready to explode. I mean, it wasn’t fabulous from the time I got the phone in May, but wow about that. Our friend that was watching the mission for us is away for the weekend and has Chris’ phone because he was fielding calls. Thankfully we have a mission “spare” phone and we could swap the SIM card. Stupid problem to have coming back.

Our internet also wasn’t working because of what we thought was a billing issue. Chris phoned, got that all straightened out, and then we waited for our service to get reconnected. They said it would be about an hour. This morning it still wasn’t working. Chris phoned again and they realized there was a problem with our modem. A problem that they could not fix because they no longer service that model and we would have to upgrade. Last time the mission “upgraded” (for similar reasons might I add) it cost $700. And, the guy that used to be our tech doesn’t work for them anymore.

So, rather than mowing the lawn and hanging out, Chris went to St. Marc to figure out another solution. And now we have a flash drive internet thingy that is supposed to be fast and that we can use as a “hub” for all other computers. But, it isn’t fast at our house because we’re apparently just in a weird range place from the tower. And it wasn’t working well to use as a hub. 

In North America these would be minor annoyances, but it’s funny what your brain does when you are hot and tired and both of your main forms of communication with the outside world are not working right. 

The internet thing isn’t terrible. I mean, we have some way of being in contact now. It’s just slower and we need to just step back and appreciate that it’s there. We may just end up each getting a stick and then suck it up and remember that we’ve gotten super reliant on the internet for entertainment. Maybe we should be doing other things with our time. Like knitting. I’ve always wanted to learn how to knit to the point where I can actually make something, even if it is only a dish cloth. And yes, I’m fully aware that it sounds a little absurd to want to knit things, from yarn, that is typically meant to keep one warm, in a climate where the average temperature is sweat, sweat and more sweat. 

And these issues have caused us to look at the possibility of having to be more efficient with our time. If the internet is slow, it’s going to mean making lists and being focused rather than prattling along. 

Sigh. First world problems. There’s probably someone out there reading this that’s thinking, “Missionaries used to have to get on a boat and go away for at least 4 years and maybe get to send letters every few months. And then if you were really lucky you got to use a HAM radio or SAT phone.” Whiners. I know, we’ve had this conversation many times when we start getting too comfortable. 

So, in the next week we will try to buy me a new phone battery, which I know we will succeed in, even if it takes a day of going to several places. And we will figure out the internet. And we will learn to share it until we do. And I will try not to forget how to use a gas stove, make meal plans, feed my kids, pick up toys, and be happy to boot. 

When do we get to go on holidays again???

~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.

2 thoughts on “Transition

  1. Ah, what’s wrong with reading a book? OK, I’ll admit having internet access these days is really nice. Heck, when I arrived in Haiti in 1979 I was lucky to get the Sunday New York Times a week late, and frequently I’d get 2 or 3 weeks worth at a single time. Today I get my daily NY Times fix every morning with my first cup of coffee. But seriously, Lesley, you don’t mention reading as a form of entertainment, and that is a critical habit that children should be picking up early from their parents.

    And here I’m not talking about the Bible… which is hard, and largely incomprehensible to most people. Regrettably, that manages to turn Haitians off to reading in general… although, mind you, you will still see lots of Haitians carrying around well-worn Bibles because it’s the thing to do.

    Anyway, here in Haiti we have the Colony Club Library, an English language library open over at the Petionville Club from 4 to 6:30 PM every Friday. You do NOT need to be a member of the Petionville Club to join, and the cost is $45 per couple per year. Colony Club has been in continuous existence in Haiti since 1924, and although none of the founding members are with us, we have some 75 members from many different walks of life… NGO’s, private sector, embassy folks, English-speaking Haitians, missionaries, health workers, etc. Makes for a very enjoyable end-of-week break, and I invite you and Chris to stop over if you are in town some Friday afternoon. Feel free to bring along some of you in-country English-speaking friends as well.

    Lance Durban

    • Lance, we’re actually avid readers! It’s actually one of our favorite things to do. One of the best investments we’ve made in the last few years was buying a Kindle for each of us so we don’t have to bring books in our luggage. Olivia also LOVES books because we started reading to her when she was only about 6 months old. Until last year (she’s now 4 going on 5) she hardly played with toys, but would rather “read” books.

      If we’re ever in Petionville on a Friday evening we may check out the club. It sounds fun.

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