My Grateful Heart

It’s nice an overcast today, which actually matches my mood perfectly. No, not feeling all “Eeyore” with a cloud above my head. Having overcast days here makes it feel like snow days do back home. The change in weather makes me want to hunker down and be cozy.

Last night the kids kept waking up, and therefore I was up. I think it’s the full moon cycle. It always makes my sleep cycle go a bit crazy too. To top all that off my back has been angry and so I often wake up wishing I could do a hip exchange with someone. I know part of the answer is getting that new mattress I mentioned in the last post, and part of it is getting some exercise and stretching, but I struggle to find the motivation to do that when I’m in pain. I should probably just push through that and aim for end results.

Needless to say, when the alarm went off this morning my body was no where near ready to get vertical. In fact, I didn’t hear the alarm. It’s right beside my side of the bed. I didn’t hear Chris get up. I didn’t hear him go brush his teeth with his electric toothbrush. I didn’t here him come back in the room. I finally started to come to when he was singing to me (and no, don’t go getting any ideas about it being lovely and quiet). I sort of rolled over about that point and begged him to let me sleep until 7, something I almost never do. This week though has left me feeling beat up and tired and all I can think about is how much I’m looking forward to getting a better nights sleep.

The day has moved along slowly, but nicely. Olivia and I went with Evens to St. Marc to do some errands. I let him drive, which isn’t normal, but I just didn’t feel up to having to mentally navigate traffic and pay attention this morning. I just wanted to ride. On the way back we stopped at the land and checked on the guys working there.

My heart gets happy when we drive in. As we drive along the road people call out our names and we roll down the windows to say “bonju” or “bonswa” depending on the time of day. Yesterday Chris and I took Olivia out for a couple of hours so we could talk about some things and check in with the workers. While we were there our neighbors son, Junior (or Ji Ji as everyone calls him) came over and followed us around. He’s a sweet little boy with dancing eyes. When we arrived Olivia asked if she could “go see the kids” and we readily agreed. She went running out the gate and disappeared down the lane.

I noticed that some of the mangoes on our trees were looking like they may be ready to pick, and Michelet confirmed it, so we started picking mangoes and loading up the trunk of the car. I think we got a few dozen easily. Every time we’ve been out there Ryan and I comment on how tasty they looked. It was fun to be able to reach up and pluck them off the tree. Our trees in Pierre Payen are so high that one of the guys has to go up to knock the mangoes down. We did a walk around the land and checked out the avocado trees, which are all flowering right now. One had baby avocados on it. They won’t be ready until August or September, but it’s exciting to see that they give fruit. We also have an orange tree. In Haiti there are sour oranges and sweet oranges. Yesterday I finally remembered to ask Michelet which ours was and he very happily said it was a sweet orange. He had tasted it himself to check. I was assured that we’ll be able to make lots of juice :)

As we did our walk Olivia came running back into the property. When she found me she said, “Mom, I’m sorry! I was with the kids and they went to find water and I went with them and I didn’t tell you!” She’s not used to this kind of freedom to run through the neighborhood. I assured her that it was totally fine and we knew that she was with the kids, wherever they were. Being able to let her run like that is a foreign feeling but a good one.

A little while later we stood and talked to the guy we bought the land from as we tried to clarify what water rights we had when the canal that runs through opens up. I kept watching Olivia and Junior playing in the water that was running through. They found baby mangoes and would run to one end of the little concrete bridge we built by the gate to cross over, drop them in, and run to the other end to see who’s would come through first. Olivia asked to take her shoes off so she could wade with Ji Ji in the canal and the joy on her face was priceless. When we left we decided to head over to Ji Ji’s house. His mom, Siliene, had come to say hello, so her and I walked while Chris drove the car over. I watched Olivia and Junior run down the lane barefoot and my heart was overflowing with joy. I’m so thankful that God has provided this place for us. A place where my kids can run barefoot and carefree and where Chris and I as parents feel no worries when we tell them to go run. I’m thankful my daughter is able to have relationships like that now.

As we sat in the shade of Siliene’s house her kids divided the noon meal so there was enough for all of us. Casava in a creole sauce. It was tasty and filling and I was thankful that we got to sit and share such simple offerings like we were part of the family. We met a new neighbor who is building a house further down – Monique.

Today as Evens, Olivia and I were driving out and again greeting our new neighbors along the way, a woman flagged us down. She’s older, and repeatedly gave Chris a hard time when he would drive in and out. He made the choice to stop and chat with her every time and now she loves us. Taking the time to be with people is such a vital part of the culture here. When she doesn’ t see me she asks about me and when I’m coming again. Earlier in the week Chris took her one of his small June Plum trees and planted it in her yard. Today, as we stopped the car in front of her place one of her kids quickly finished shoving about a dozen mangos in a bag and she passed them through the window to me as she asked after Chris. It’s these moments that I’m so grateful for.

As I held the bag of mangoes on my lap for the rest of the ride home my heart filled with gratitude for all the hard stuff we’d gone through in our current location. I think to fully grasp the gift of being wanted you need to feel unwanted. To fully grasp the gift of community you need to know how it feels to not be part of things. To fully appreciate friends and neighbors here you need to understand how it feels to be the “blan”. We know we will never completely fit in, not the way a Haitian might, but we are so grateful for where God has lead us to and the future of the mission and our family that he’s planting in Kan Marie.

I know that the process of us getting the new site developed is going to slow, but I also believe it will be steady. Just yesterday we were made aware of a large donation in Canada. That paired with some other large donations mean that we will be able to maintain operations at the level we have them, take care of some financial needs with the new Canadian branch and have funds available for the next stage of development – digging a well!

I love God’s provision and seeing His care for us as his children. He really does care about the small things.

~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.

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