It’s been pretty darn quiet here in blog land, hasn’t it???
This was the first time we’ve ever spent Christmas in Haiti because we chose to, not because we had no other option. The last time was in 2009 while we were still in the midst of our adoption and couldn’t leave unless we left Liv behind, which wasn’t going to happen. Both years that we were here for the holidays mid-adoption we got to spend them with family, which was great. It made it less “have to”, if that makes any sense.
This year, as you know, my parents came to spend Christmas with us. They arrived on the 23rd, unscathed and with all their luggage. The only traveling issues that arose were on the way home from Port au Prince when we got to Cabaret, the halfway point, and found a manifestation that had just started, blocking us from continuing down the National Highway to home. Thankfully we were in an area where we could turn around. We decided that it would be more fun to turn around and take the road over the mountains through the Central Plateau and Artibonite Valley, than it would be to sit in the line of traffic for the same amount of time just being annoyed. Chris and I had never been to any part of the Central Plateau, and while the road just sort of skirts the outside edge of it, it was fun to do something spontaneous that was a new experience for all of us. We always love getting out into the more rural parts of Haiti because they’re so different in the sense that things are more peaceful. It only added an hour and a half to our drive time, but was beautiful and like I said, better than sitting in a line of traffic hoping that something would open up. Later, after getting home, we found out that it was actually multiple manifestations that popped up one after another. One would get broken up and another would pop up several hundred feet down the road. We made a good choice :)
The rest of our visit with Mom and Dad was great! Honestly, it was probably the most relaxed Christmas we’ve ever had. I did miss the snow a bit, and all things “North America Christmas”, but having family here and not having the pressing feeling of traveling here and there and the kids being off schedule from the time change was bliss. They could play around in their pj’s as long as they wanted and go outside when they got bored and play to their hearts content, and we didn’t have to put layers of clothes on them to do it.
On Christmas Eve we relaxed, watched some movies, decorated cookies, wrapped gifts, and just had fun.
Olivia fully understands this whole Christmas thing and why we celebrate the holiday. Alex, is just getting everything. And, that’s what made everything so fun. Last year he was still too little to understand and most of the time just looked dazed and confused. This year he was often found sitting by the tree peeking at and poking presents. He would ask when we got to open them. His sister would explain that Christmas is the time we celebrate Jesus being born, and my heart melts every time I hear him say “baby Jesus”. We always let the kids open one gift on Christmas Eve, and it always involved pyjamas. It was always fun to see what Mom got us, and to sleep in new Christmas jammies. We’ve carried that on with our kids, but have also added a book because our bedtime routine always involves reading a story to each of the kids. It was fun to see the kids so excited about new pyjamas and a new story.
Christmas morning was slow and relaxed and just plain fun. Now that Alex understands the whole concept of opening gifts he started to get into it. For some reason he’s been talking about trains for the past few months. I think it might be from when we went to the train museum in Revelstoke, BC, this summer when Uncle Ben came to visit us. The funny thing is that he didn’t seem really excited about trains when we were there. Anyway, almost any time we asked who was coming for Christmas he would say, “Pappa!” When we asked who else was coming (Nanna!) he typical response was “Train!” ??!? We have one book with a train in it, and he found it and would spend hours pouring over it. Sooo, we got him a train set for Christmas, and Mom and Dad got him some extra trains to go with it. We cracked up when he went to open the first present on Christmas morning and we asked what he thought it was, and he yelled, “Train!!!” Even better was that after every gift he would lift it up in the air and hold it like a trophy.Olivia got a new Barbie and some Barbie clothes for the ladies, which is a good thing because it’s been a bit of a Barbie nudist colony around here for a while. We gave her a kid “lap top” with lots of learning games on it. When we would ask her what she wanted for Christmas her two answer were a Barbie and her own computer, so two for the win from us and Nanna and Pappa. I think the best part of the whole gift thing for the kids this year is that they LOVED their gifts, and still spend hours every day playing together with everything. They’ll build trains on the floor, then go to the bedroom and play Barbies together, then come and sit on the couch and play with the “computer”, then read stories… You get the idea. The nice thing was that while they got new toys, we tried to not go crazy and it was just the right amount of stuff because they’re playing with all of it and enjoying it. The rest of our time with Mom and Dad was great. We did a trip into Port au Prince that took us up to the Baptist Mission for lunch. Since my parents have only been here twice before and we spent most of our time on those visits in our local area we wanted to show them something different. They both enjoyed seeing a bit of Haiti’s mountain areas. We went out to the land and had a hot dog roast one night, which is something we never thought we would ever do in Haiti, but is a fun thing about the new property. So much so that we’re already planning to build a permanent fire pit when we do the landscaping. It’s not something we do every week, but it’s been fun to go out and do something different in Haiti that feels like “home” to us. It’s a nice social thing that we’ve been able to do with friends here too. The best part of Mom and Dad’s visit was just having time together. The kids had a blast and we enjoyed just being here, sharing our lives as they are now. With Dad working out of province back home we’ve only gotten to see him in bits and pieces when we’re on vacation, so it was nice to have more time with him. Mom and Dad left on the 30th, and on New Year’s Eve we had friends come and stay the night. We had a relaxed evening with the kids, shot off some fireworks and played games. The next morning I slept until almost 9 am, which is probably about the second time I’ve done that in the history of living here. Their kids were a big distraction for our kids so I guess things were just quieter in the morning. Whatever it was, it was bliss. The rest of New Year’s day was relaxed and laid back.
We’ve spent the rest of this week just enjoying time off of work. Normally we only get a day or two of holidays here in country at any given time, so it’s been nice to have a couple of weeks with no staff around. On Friday we went down to Kaliko with a group of friends for a swim and lunch, and yesterday we had a site visit from a group of college students, but other than that things have been quiet.
And, tomorrow it’s back to work! I always love winding down one year and starting a new one. It feels like closing a door on a year of ministry, and anything that year may have held, and opening the new one to all sorts of new possibilities. How many filters will be doing this year? Will we need to scale up production? What will our funding look like? Will we be able to start building on the new site? So many things. One of the best things to start our year off though, is that in just over a week Gramma and Grandad are coming! Both sets of parents within a few weeks of each other is one of the best gifts and ways to start off the year that we can think of! And the best part is that for the first time ever, Gramma and Grandad will get to celebrate Olivia’s birthday with us. So exciting!
We hope that this Christmas and New Year’s was a good one for you and yours, and that as you look into 2014 you do so with expectation.