Fatigue net – completely exhausted!
This week was a buzz of activity around here. Tomorrow we have a 3 person crew from Crossroads coming. They’ve been long term supporters of Clean Water for Haiti through their Missions & Development fund and we’ve always been so encouraged by everyone from the organization. During the organizational stuff we went through back in 2011, their main rep that comes into Haiti was a sounding board for Chris and I that was full of wisdom. He listened, advised, and helped connect us with solid people that went on to walk us through a lot of things.
In the past their visits have been limited to a few hours simply because they have a lot to do and need to fit it all in while in country. Back in September they told us they wanted to send a film team in to spend a few days with us so that they could do a big push in December for all of the organizations that their Missions & Development fund supports.
I can’t tell you what a big deal this is for us. It’s HUGE. Crossroads is the biggest Christian communications organization in Canada and responsible for programs like 100 Huntley Street. The exposure that this feature will bring for us as an organization is big. But for Chris and I it’s more than that. It’s the fact that they’re saying they see the value of what we’re doing, that it works, and they want to be an invested, long term part of that. So much so that they’re willing to use their resources to help us do what we do better. HUGE!
Chris and I are so looking forward to having the extended time to not only show them what we’re doing, but to just be with them. To spend time talking and being in fellowship. These are good people. As we spoke on the phone doing preliminary planning we were so excited to hear the things that are on their hearts with how they want to represent Clean Water for Haiti and the Haitian people. Respect. Value. Beauty. The good things that are here.
Their visit kicks off a season of having people here every few weeks. Not random strangers either (which we love, by the way!) but FAMILY and FRIENDS! Seriously, starting tomorrow it’s a visit almost every 2-3 weeks probably until mid-February.
With that in mind we decided to give the mission a really thorough cleaning. We typically do this before Christmas break, but this was just an earlier excuse. One of the biggest jobs was getting the round house ready. Not having a volunteer living with us right now means we can open it up for guests to use. The dorms are great, but they’re basically a place to sleep. The round house has a small kitchen, more comfortable furniture, a nice deck to sit and visit on… you get the idea.
When Chris and I were living in there it was a process of going through the place and taking off the “layers” and changing things. It’s a quaint house, and is literally round, but that feature makes it hard to place furniture and limits storage space. It’s also very open, as in the wood roof beams are cemented into the foot thick walls, but there’s an open gap between the actual roof and the walls. There are giant shuttered windows that make it almost impossible to screen. No screens mean it’s easy for rodents (ahem) to come in, and dust too. When we lived in the house it literally took years to get the place to the point where it wasn’t a massive amount of work to just keep it clean. Things like painting all the dark wood white, painting any other dark surfaces (dark surfaces attract certain bugs). That made it easier to see cobwebs and dust. The previous owners had left a lot of stuff that we could finally get rid of after the sale was final. Previous volunteers kept stuff. WE kept stuff for that off chance that we might need it one day.
This week I spent at least 6 hours every day cleaning in there. With volunteers coming and going in the last few years it’s meant sporadic cleaning and periods where the house has sat for months at a time with no use. Things have been moved around and not well organized. When we’ve done classes the ladies have just put things in places.
Yonese and I went from top to bottom. On Thursday morning while she was at the market I almost started to cry because I realized how much work there was still to do. But, then I asked Melix to send me one of the guys to help clean some of the rafters and higher places on a ladder and within an hour or so Fan Fan had worked miracles and there was light at the end of the tunnel.
I saw this whole thing as an opportunity. We’re slowly working on relocating the mission. We know it might not happen for another couple of years, but we can be using this time to be looking at what we have and paring things down to what we truly need and use. I don’t want to have to go through this process when we’re ready to move. I want to plan every foot of space at the new property to store what we know we need, not junk. We’ve stopped keeping things for “someday” when we realize that we don’t even own that particular piece of equipment anymore, for example. We’ve gotten more comfortable with throwing things away or passing them on when we can. As Yonese and I worked I explained that I wanted to go through EVERYTHING – dishes, office supplies, etc – and only keep what we know we used. There was no sense in keeping stuff so that we had more to clean! She was fully supportive since she does most of the cleaning around here.
She was a trooper and took everything off of every shelf in the kitchen, washed it and let it dry (among all the other work she was doing too). As things dried I sorted. Plastic containers without matching lids or bottoms (yes, we truly had lids with no bottoms) got tossed. We had a bazillion pieces of cutlery. Some hand me downs, some we bought in the market to build up our supply and others donated. Same with dishes. We only host training classes for a maximum of 10 students, and we don’t host groups bigger than 6 people. We did not NEED 3 dozen forks. Or spoons or knives or plates. There are certain things we always use for classes and what we needed was half of what we had! There are certain pots and pans and mixing bowls that only get used for classes, so we took all of those things and put them in a covered plastic tote. Everything else in the kitchen was sorted and put away. Any extras were put into a big pile, and on Thursday after work the staff divided it up. I laughed really hard when one of the guys found a fork that had fallen through the holes in the basket while the others were distracted. You would have thought he’d won the lottery :)
Yesterday, as I started to pull the shutters closed to keep things tidy until tomorrow, I looked around and, while I was completely exhausted, I felt so much lighter. I came upstairs and told Chris that for the first time ever, in the history of Clean Water for Haiti being at this location, there are no more “collections” in the house. No more stuff left by people. No more stuff being held onto for “someday”. The things that are in there are the things we use and need. Chris actually came down a bit before I was finished to help with a few things and his first words when he walked in were, “Wow, it looks amazing in here! Makes me almost want to live in here again.”
As I shut things up and moved outside I looked around the yard and felt the same thing – that lightness. It looks good. It looks great! Stuff that had been stashed and kept – gone. For those of you that have been reading for a long time, you may remember we had a Volkswagen truck that Chris bought many years ago. We loved that thing, but Chris, for the first time ever, wasn’t able to keep the motor running. It’s sat in the driveway for the last few years. A couple years ago he decided it was time to let it go, and let people know it was for sale. Several people had told us they were interested, but nothing ever came of it until Thursday when Kiki, the man in charge of the local EDH (Electricite d’Haiti) towed it to it’s new home.
The thing that makes me the most happy? Knowing that if we stay on top of things, it’s less work! Yonese and I just kept talking about how much work now means less work later, and put plans in place to keep on top of the house no matter how it was being used.
And now, I’m going to spend the rest of today doing nothing related to cleaning anything! Just knitting and hanging out with my family.
Have a great weekend!