Back At It

Our little family arrived back in Haiti on Thursday afternoon. I’m not going to lie, Chris and I were exhausted. Out of the four of us, I’m the one that never gets enough sleep on the plane. I have a hard time getting comfortable and I’m usually the one sitting next to or with Alex, so I have some sort of limb poking me or leaning on me. I also have long legs, and I can never seem to stretch out enough to be comfortable for long. We flew the red-eye from Seattle to Atlanta, and our flight arrived a bit early – except early was before 5 am Atlanta time. Talk about feeling groggy. We had a layover of about 6 hours, which, traveling with kids who did  sleep on the plane, was challenging. At different points Chris and I each succumbed to a nap on the floor. Ryan arrived in Haiti earlier in the day, so we had a little reunion at the airpot, went and had some really good pizza, then hit the road for home.

We’re in the midst of the rainy season now, and expected that the yard would be less than pretty just because no one was raking weekly while we were away. We had heard that there had been a big rain because of a passing hurricane, but I don’t think we were prepared for what we came home to. It isn’t horrible, but it was surprising! Our driveway has a layer of clay/silt in it almost 2 inches deep, that wasn’t there when we left. When I went out to get groceries the other day I literally had to rev the engine to get over the mud hump around the tires. There are the usually leaves from all the mango trees, and baby trees that have shot up through the grass. Sadly though a bunch of the grass in front of the dorms got covered in mud. Tomorrow when we get back to work it’s going to be a clean up day around here and part of that will be seeing if there’s any way to scrape the mud off the grass to salvage it. If not, Chris will have to put in new plugs and let them fill in again. It’s sad because that one spot was the nicest section of lawn! Isn’t that the way it always goes?

Every time we come home from being away for a while we remember why we love our windows so much. I know that sounds silly, but in Haiti there is so much dust in the air, and it needs somewhere to settle, so naturally it lands in the house. When you don’t stay on top of it, it can build up fast. In the round house there are wood shutters on the lower level to close things up, but the top windows are all open with bars, so there’s always a mess from things blowing in to clean up. Our house has glass louvered security windows, so we can close things up and there is some settled dust to clean up when we get back, but it’s not horrible. I did a minor sweep on Thursday night after the kids went to bed, and then did a good sweep and mop on Friday to really clean up. I know, it’s SO exciting to hear about this!!! :) But, it IS part of life here!

Chris hates it when we come home and I slowly unpack and we have bags that have essentially thrown up all over the place sitting around for a week, so the last few times of coming back I’ve been working at getting everything unpacked and put away quickly, and am happy that I did. It makes settling in easier to get everything out of the way. I had some pressure this time too. We had already decided that we weren’t going home for Christmas this year, so I had to do some planning ahead and get some Christmas stuff bought and stashed away. Knowing the kids would be running around and wanting to root through things meant it had to get hidden away fast.

One thing I was completely excited about was getting back to our bed. I know I’ve talked about our bed saga on here, and I posted pictures of our new bed that I made earlier this year, but I can’t remember if I ever got around to telling you about our mattress. About a week before we left our new mattress arrived. We looked around at options for mattresses of good quality in Haiti and they were few, and what was available was really expensive. I started sleuthing online, but buying a regular sized mattress would be expensive to ship in. Then I stumbled upon “compressed” mattresses. Right in the factory, after the mattress is made, they send it through a special packing machine that pushes all the air out of it and then vacuum seals it, rolls it and boxes it for shipping. When it arrives at your house, you pull it out of the box, cut the outer layer of wrap off, spread the vacuum sealed package on your bed, then carefully cut the plastic open. The mattress takes on air and becomes a normal bed again! We got a 13″ pocket coil, Euro top mattress shipped in for what we paid for our old bed made here in Haiti. And we LOVE this new bed. It’s hands down the most comfortable bed we’ve ever slept on. While we were home I went to the chiropractor MANY times and got myself all straightened out, so now I really get to experience the bed and am SO happy to be home :)

The kids are settling in well. I think Alex is the one that looks forward to being back in Haiti the most, though he’s presenting the biggest challenge right now as far as getting over jet lag. It was a 3 hour time difference, but he’s really having a hard time with sleeping through the night right now. You can pray for us!

It’s also ridiculously hot right now. I think we expected it to be hot, but not this hot. Last night at 9:30 it was still 90*F and when I was up around 2:30 am with Alex it was still 87*F. I’m afraid to look at the weather in case it shows no rain. It would be nice to get a really hard rain to cool things off, but I’m not holding my breath. In the mean time we’re resorting to lots of bathing and showering to keep our sanity. We have a solar hot water heater, which is great. The funny thing about it though, is that in the winter when you really want the hot water, the sun isn’t as strong, so the hot water is in shorter supply. In the summer when we’re all sweaty messes, the hot water is scalding. In fact, it’s so hot that it melted some of the pipes going into the hot water tank. I know that sounds backwards, but Chris figures that there was such a build up of heat in the tank that it actually started pushing hot water back through the pipes, and the ones going in aren’t heat tempered PVC. Another thing that needs to get fixed this week…

We were away for about 6 weeks, and it was all good. This summer was a lot of driving though, which gets tiring. The fun thing is that we saw a lot of family this year that we normally wouldn’t get to. Here’s a run down of what we were doing:

  • June 18 we flew out of Haiti into New York. Overnighted there and then flew into Seattle the next day. Loved breaking up the trip with the kids and will probably look at doing it again next time if it’s cost effective like it was this time. Everyone arrived much happier and the time adjustment was easier with more rest under our traveling belts.
  • We had our AGM (annual general meeting) for the mission that weekend in the Seattle area. It was great to spend time face to face with our board of directors and to decide which areas of development to focus on in the next year. We feel really blessed to be working with such a supportive and dedicated group of people.
  • On June 24 we loaded up our ’69 VW van and started heading north to Canada. We spent 4 days camping and driving on our way up to Fraser Lake, BC to see Chris’ cousins. He hadn’t seen them in about 10 years so it was a fun reunion for him and good for me to finally meet the people I had been hearing about for so long. Our kids enjoyed each other and we all just had a good time being with family.
  • When we left there we headed 45 minutes east to Vanderhoof where we spent the night with some friends that Chris made while they were working and living in Haiti. They’re now our friends and we love seeing them whenever we can. I love how God can bring people together in one country and set of circumstances, but that those relationships can carry over in to other places and phases of life.
  • After that we headed another 45 minutes east to Prince George to spend the night with my cousin and her family. Our kids are all about the same age, and I hadn’t seen her and her husband since my brother’s wedding in 2010, so it was a fun stop. It was Alex’s 2nd birthday that day and they surprised us with a cake and ice cream.
  • From Prince George we headed south to Quesnel, stopped in to say hi to another cousin of mine, went grocery shopping, then headed east to Barkerville, an old mining town that was the center of BC’s gold rush for many years. We camped nearby then went and explored the town for the day with the kids. It was fun for Chris and I to visit as adults after having been there as kids ourselves, and to share that with our kids. That night we headed to a camp spot, and were bombarded by mosquitoes and noseeums. We have never bailed on a campsite before because of bugs, but the next morning we basically got up, threw on clothes, brushed our teeth and packed up without even eating breakfast!
  • We spent the next few days camping our way south to my parents place in Armstrong where we spent the next two and a half weeks. We did a couple of fundraisers, visited with friends, saw some more family and Chris’ brother flew in for a few days to visit, which was really fun!
  • We did the trip from Armstrong to Bellingham in one day, then spent three days with friends there and as always, had a great time in town. Chris went to Western Washington University, so Bellingham is his old stomping grounds. Since we’ve been married we’ve enjoyed spending time in Bellingham and it’s “subdued excitement” vibe.
  • After B’Ham we drove down to Vancouver, WA to see Chris’ parents and do a church presentation. It was a fast trip, but fun. From there we headed back up to Seattle to pack away our vacation stuff and pack our bags for Haiti. We spent the night at our friends house where we keep our van and several totes of personal stuff. We love that they let us do this! We had a great visit, good sleep and were able to get everything squared away until next year.

That’s the nutshell version, and I know there are no pictures. Those are still spread out between several cameras and I haven’t “unpacked” them yet. I will *try* (I always say that, and then sadly have poor follow through) and post pictures soon.

Thanks for patiently waiting for me to get back into this blogging saddle again. If the heat doesn’t fry too many brain cells I may muster up the energy to post more than once a week, but no promises at this point!

Have a great Sunday!

~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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