Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Day in the Life Series?

I'm wondering if it would be too big of a bore if I spent a few days writing about what it looks like to care for a home in Haiti.

Normally I would never think that housework would be something worth chronicling.  I'm not sure if I would want to read a great deal about cleaning toilets or doing laundry.

Once you throw Haiti into the mix, I'm hoping things definitely get a little more exciting even if I will be talking about buying groceries and mopping the floors.

Bear with me as I spend a few days jotting down what it looks like to care for a Haiti home and the people inside it.



First topic...Food

How could food not be the first topic?  We are a family who loves food.  We love to eat.  We love having people over to eat with us.

There are lots of issues that revolve around something as simple as eating and drinking.

Sometimes those issues can be overwhelming because we live in such a fallen, broken world with broken systems and broken ways of doing just about everything.

However, those same issues can be kind of exciting when we think that God created us in His image.  We are image bearers of the creator God.  As people who reflect His image we are given an invitation to redeem and restore things that are broken and ugly on this earth.  In big ways or small ways I truly believe this can be done as we eat and as we drink.

For that reason I don't want anyone to feel overwhelmed when they read this post.  Maybe you share some of the same convictions about food.  Maybe you don't. If you don't, please feel free to opt out.  It's not my personal crusade to make people think about food the same way we think about food.  I'm pretty passionate about this stuff personally, but hopefully I'm just as passionate about admitting that I fail in a million other ways, so I'm no picture of what pure awesomeness looks like.  I even fail pretty regularly when it comes to this exact topic of food and eating.

Maybe you do share some of the same convictions but don't know how to implement them.  Maybe you're way further along in this food journey than we are.  No matter where we find ourselves today, I hope that we are not overwhelmed (or worse, condemned) when we talk about these things.  Instead I pray that excitement grows in our hearts as we desire to live out God's redemptive nature and desire to worship God in the way we eat and in the way we buy the foods we eat (and in all the other parts of life as well.)

Here's what we're aiming for around the Hendrick house...

We want to eat food that is healthy, nutritious, and as close to the way God made it as possible.

We want to be good stewards of the bodies that God has given to us.

We want to buy foods from companies who care about the environment and are good stewards of the earth God created.

We desire to purchase our food in a way that honors God by caring for the people who are producing our food.  God cares about the laborer.  He cares about the people growing our food.  He loves them, and we want to love them as well.

The food industry is notorious for oppressing the poor.  There are lots of companies that recruit illegal aliens, give them jobs in the US and then deport them after many years.  Lots of those families then have birthed children in the US and one day wake up to find that dad is getting sent back across the border.

Many US food companies employ illegal aliens and then never give them raises or benefits.  They work them ungodly hours because they know that the poor...the alien...have no voice.

Oppression right in the US.

We want to financially support hard work, social responsibility, and stewardship of the earth (as best as we can).  We want to avoid companies who treat their employees terribly, who exploit the poor, who destroy the earth, and who think man-made chemicals are just as good or even better than the foods that God created to grow on Earth.

At one point in our life, eating was simply eating.  Eating had nothing to do with God and was not a spiritual activity for us.  We've slowly been learning that everything is spiritual.  God has given us so many opportunities to live a full, rich, and abundant life as we learn to love the things that God loves and stand firmly against the things that God despises.  He has given us ample opportunities to join in the work that He is always doing...restoring all things.  We are convinced that eating in a way that honors God is an exciting way to live out God's redemptive nature.

As we eat we are aware that we have been given a chance to worship God by declaring the things He has made good and right while humbly admitting that man's ways are lower and never as good as God's design.

All that to say, we desire to be a family that worships God as we eat.   Sometimes we may do that.  Sometimes we have no way of knowing for sure if what we just served for dinner honored the Lord because let's face it...sometimes it can be hard to figure out where those eggs came from that are sitting in my grocery cart.

In the US, it had taken a long time and a lot of work, but we were getting close to being able to identify where every food product we bought originated.

Then we moved to Haiti and I was so afraid we'd have to start over here.

I have been pleasantly surprised to find that we seem to be a lot closer to our food sources here in Haiti than we were in the US.

I still have some research I want to do...some asking around...possibly even visiting some of the places on the island that make our food, but overall we've been able to eat a pretty organic, wholefoods diet here in Haiti.

Every few days we walk to the grocery store.  There is one grocery store nearby called Eagle.  We only buy what we can carry home.

Eagle sells most of what I would buy at a grocery store in the US.  However, in the US you may have one full wall devoted to yogurt.  The Eagle may have a selection the size of a small cabinet.  You get two brands of yogurt and about three varieties or flavors.  The only things we buy from Eagle are things we can't buy on the street at the market.

We don't buy much from Eagle because it's more expensive there, and we'd rather support poor Haitians on the street who are selling the same items than give a ton of money to the rich grocery store owners.



Almost every day we go to the market and buy things like beans, avocados, mangoes, pineapple, onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, bell pepper, green onions, zuchinni, eggplant, oranges, limes, bananas, and plantains.



Aaron has his favorite lady vendors, and they adore him.  Really.  They light up when they see him coming.  They are also very protective of Aaron.  If he has to buy something they don't sell from someone near them, I've literally witnessed Aaron's ladies come over to the vendor where Aaron is buying bananas and totally chew out that vendor for charging Aaron too much.  It's pretty precious.

Once a week Soso (the treasure of a lady who helps me with the house) goes to the big market down the road and buys some things for us.  She gets the non-white prices.  We are in love with Soso!



We eat a lot of fruits and vegetables from the market because they are fresh and probably all organic.  Fertilizer costs money and well, Haiti is fresh out of that.  The produce rots in a few days.  It's ripe and ready to eat it the moment you buy it.  The food is crazy flavorful.  I've honestly never tasted anything like this.  Throw some tomatoes, potatoes, celery, celery leaves, onion, zucchini, and garlic in a pot and you've got yourself restaurant style soup.

We don't have a lot of access to meat.  We eat ground beef.  It's very lean.  I have no idea if it's grassfed, but it cooks like it's grassfed.  To my knowledge there are no commercial feed lots in Haiti (like what we have in the US).  I want to try and find out more about meat production in this country.  For now it seems like the beef is healthier here, but I want to learn more about the meat industry.  It does smell a little like shrimp some days, which can never be good, right?

We also don't have much access to dairy.  Milk is through the roof expensive.  Yogurt is expensive too.  Cheese is ridiculous.  So we eat limited dairy.  Most of the dairy is ultra pasteurized because it's imported.  You buy it off a shelf instead of out of the refrigerated area.  It's a dead food, so it's probably good we don't use it much.  Besides, it tastes like we're drinking baby formula.  vomit. in. the. mouth.  We do have French butter.  That makes up for the barfy milk.

There are no tortillas in this country.  All the Texans just gasped.  I heard it.  I know.  Total crap.  These Hatians don't know what they are missing.  Everything they make would be totally yum in a tortilla.

We buy our bread from a bakery we walk to right down the road.  This makes bread cheap and oh my goodness...really delicious.

When we were moving to Haiti we budgeted a lot of money for food.  Most everything at the grocery store is imported.  If we were going to eat American, imported, processed foods I can't even imagine how much money we'd spend for a family our size.  There are five males in our house and they all eat like fat lards, so seriously...I don't know how we'd afford to eat American made food-like items.

A box of cereal is in the 6-7 dollar range.

Although I feel totally inept in almost every other way living in Haiti, I can not stress how thankful I am that God started changing our diet years ago.  Before we got here I had been learning how to cook from scratch.  I was learning the financial benefits of eating out of a whole foods pantry.  I was learning to make our favorite processed meals out of real food.  My children are used to eating whole foods.  They hardly bat an eye when it comes to eating a dish filled with tons of vegetables.

If you've read this blog for long you know that this was not always the case.  A lot of patience, firmness, and retraining had to happen in our home about food, about stewardship, about loving God's design over man's design, about thankfulness, about caring for the poor and how those things are all linked to the food we eat.  It's been a slow, rough road.  We've had to repent a lot as parents for teaching our kids wrong ideas about food.  During long, painful stand offs about food with our boys, we've had to say things like..."You are going to eat this.  I know it's hard eating new foods.  As your parents we should have been teaching you the right things about food.  Instead, we taught you wrong things about food.  We're going to have to relearn together what it looks like to honor God in the way we eat."

Lots of times Aaron and I wanted to give up and hand the kids some fish sticks.  Lots of times I have wanted to hit my kids with fish sticks.  One of our children still acts a fool about food from time to time, but we are grateful that he recognizes his issues as spiritual at their root.  He truly does desire to care for his body.  He wants his parents to care for the poor as we shop for food.  It's just been a struggle.  Most days we patiently walk with him through his struggle.  Some days we want to strangle him because it gets really old.

Food has been a pleasant surprise in this country.

I have had to make minor changes to some of our favorite recipes.  A lot of our meat dishes are now meatless.  Overall, we have eaten well here and have spent less on food than we thought we'd have to spend.

Yesterday I wrote a cry baby post.  Today I wanted to make sure to point out that there are things I love about Haiti.  Truly love.  Food has been one of those things.

Aaron loves this way of living where you go to the grocery store every day or every other day.   He loves visiting his ladies in the market.  Our food is crazy fresh.  We spend a long time cooking dinner every day, but savor every bite.  Maybe the cool factor will wear off and we'll be wanting our one-stop stores back.  For now, we're loving this way of eating.

Most importantly it brings great joy...and I mean great joy to buy our food from such hard working women in the market.  Most of them have their children right under their feet or on their hip.  They work from sun up till sun down.  I pray that the money we spend on their bounty is changing their homes.  I pray they can afford to send their kids to school this year.

As soon as I can get someone to translate for me, I have a lot of questions for these ladies at the market.  Where did you get these vegetables?  Do you keep all of the profit? 

I'm hoping to find good answers to those questions.

It has been a good thing to be so close to our food source.
 
Handing my money to the cashier at my favorite grocery store in the US felt mundane.  I felt numb.  I felt nothing.

Handing my money to the ladies right outside our gate feels like worship.  When I leave them I am filled with joy.  Those ladies have beautiful smiles on their faces. 



I love that part of our life in Haiti.  Absolutely love it.

I do hate the bugs in my flour and the bugs in my rice and the bugs in my beans.  But I mostly like all the other food related parts of Haiti.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jumping in a Different Pool



For two weeks Haiti has been our home.

What I wanted was to hit the ground running.  Two weeks?  I thought by now I'd be starting an orphanage or delivering babies in the tent cities.  Don't laugh.  A girl can dream, right?

I landed in Haiti ready to do something big...giant...revolutionary and kung-fu, gung-hoe for the kingdom.

Instead I hit the ground running...right into what felt like a big, brick wall.

The first night in Haiti I laid in the bed and cried my eyes out to Aaron.

"I can't do this.  I can't deal with the mess...the dirt...Hudson crawling around on the yucky floor.  All the holes in this house.  All the open spots where bugs and mice can enter. I know lots of people could do this, but what were we thinking?  I'm not one of those people.  I'm not even sort of like one of those people."

I fell asleep on a wet pillow angry at Aaron.  "How could you bring us here?  How could you think we could do this?  How could you think this would be good?" 

I haven't written about the harder things...the honest, I want to go home things.  Part of me is afraid that I'll offend someone here in Haiti.  The other part of me is tired of stating the obvious.  I'm not ashamed.  That's not it.  I never thought I could do this, so believe me it doesn't bother my pride one tiny bit to admit that I'm the suckiest missionary ever.  I'm just sick of my own whining and frustration.  I hate talking about how no-good at this I am.

Back to not wanting to offend anyone here in Haiti....

For Haiti (the Haitian people and the other missionaries in Haiti) our house is so nice.  It's bigger than what I was expecting.  We have electricity 24/7.  Electricity is limited at night, but we never notice it.  We have washing machines.  Most of Haiti does not...even a lot of missionaries don't.  We have a dryer.  Unheard of in Haiti.  We have air conditioning during the day.  So see...for Haiti we are living it up.  This is like the Beverly Hills of the island.

So...I don't want anyone to think that I need rescuing from the hard parts.  I don't want anyone here to feel responsible for how hard I have thought it is.  No one needs to fix anything or do more or be more encouraging.  I have had a hard time here adjusting, but it is no one's fault but mine.  I can't stress that enough.

I'm not wanting to go home.  I know we're supposed to be here.  I'm just saying it's not been easy, but I'm equally saying I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me.  These trials...these hard things are my things...it's my junk...it's between me and the Lord.  I'm the one who needs the work.  I need sanctifying.  I need to grow in patience, perseverance, contentment and having joy in all circumstances. 

I am well aware that I'm used to living in absolute luxury.  In my old life, if I needed something done, I did it or Aaron did it.  He can fix anything.  He knows how to do everything.  If there's a leak under a sink it will be fixed promptly.  If I saw a bug, I had our exterminator's number in my cell phone.  We were operating in a world that made sense to us.  We could drive.  We could buy things.  We knew our way around and spoke the same language as everyone else around us. 

It was very easy to fool myself in America.  America made it easy to hide my shortcomings and sin.  When you land on this island it is as if Haiti strips your clothes off.  Leaves you standing there naked...all your flaws, cellulite and skin exposed.  Every pimple.  Every large pore.  Every mole.  Every weird, why-is-that-there hair...visible.  You can't ignore any of it or pretend it's not there.

In some ways I hate it.  I hate feeling this eat up with sin.  I hate seeing myself for who I really am.

And yet...

I know it's good.  I know it's needed.  I'm sure one day (not today, but one day) I will look back and thank Haiti and the God who brought us here for giving me the opportunity to see the person behind the layers and layers of falsity...the pounds and pounds of Tammy Faye Baker style makeup I found myself wearing as an American resident.

After I had my first baby I remember getting in the shower for the first time at the hospital.  I did what no woman should do...I looked down at my body.  You know on Mrs. Doubtfire when he puts on his fat suit?  That's what it looked like I was wearing. A fat suit.  No one warned me about what a post-baby body would look like.  I looked down at what I thought would be me for the rest of my life and did the only sane thing a hormonal, insanely tired woman can do...I cried.  I heaved.  I sobbed. It was so loud the nurse came to check on me.  Through the door she tried to comfort me.

"Your body will heal.  You will look normal again.  It will just take time and a little work.  You're going to be fine.  I promise.  You just had a baby.  That's a big deal.  Be patient.  You will look great again in no time."

I thought she was lying.  I would be an exception.  I must be, because I looked so bad.

Nothing that hideous and disfigured could turn good again.  I was convinced of it.

"No.  No it won't," I squeaked out between the sobs to the nurse on the other side of the door.

I feel like that sobbing, flabby, I'm so ugly, I hate myself girl again now that I'm in Haiti.

Here there is no hiding my sin...my gag nasty.  I'm going to have to stand in the shower with it for awhile and bawl.

Unlike that ugly crying new mother, I have such hope.  I know that all this truth...this face-to-face time I'm having with myself...the person I never knew was hiding inside me...is a good thing.  I'm in a new place and seeing a whole new world of sin in myself, but God still remains the author and perfecter of my faith.

He'll smooth out these rough parts.  He'll shrink the nasty.  He'll tone the parts that make me feel ashamed and unlovely.  He'll make something beautiful out of something shameful and disgusting.

After a few months of motherhood, some exercise and marathon nursing a little boy my body did return to normal.  Not perfect.  It wasn't perfect before I had a baby.  It did go back to something that I was okay with...I was me again.

I know it's going to take work and time, but I'm positive God will use each of these trials for my good and for His glory.

Two weeks in Haiti...

I wish I could report that my fantasy orphanage is up and going or post a picture of me holding someone's placenta, but I've been busy breaking down and being comforted by Jesus.

I've been busy trying to figure out how to run a house in a third world country.  These kids, Aaron and this home still have to be my number one earthly ministry.  That can't change just because I changed countries.

I'm learning a routine.  I'm learning how to keep the house clean.  I'm learning how to keep clean clothes in the closets.  I'm learning how to shop...what to cook...how to cook.  Everything domestic that I knew how to do in the States must be relearned here in Haiti.  Everything is different.

And did I mention that I don't know what the heck most people are saying?

In the midst of the madness, I'm making a home for our children...a place that feels comfortable and makes sense.  It will never be extravagant.  It will never be like our homes in the States.  But I don't want it to be.  I wanted Haiti to change me forever in that way, and thankfully it is.

I wanted to jump into ministry...into something exciting and big.

Instead, I jumped into a different ministry...the one called loving my children and figuring out how to care for my family in a place that is hard to figure out right now.  Aaron is doing beautiful work for the kingdom as he teaches Hatian kids about the one true God.  He is loving kids who have faced incredible loss this past year.  I want our home to be a place of rest for Aaron...a joy to return to every day.

We hired a jewel of a woman to help me keep the house going.  She doesn't speak English.  I'm learning Creole quickly.

As I was hanging clothes on the line today I asked God to remind me again that hanging clothes to dry, loving and disciplining a spastic, adorable, strong willed two year old, learning the language, and making a grocery list are just as important right now as all the dreams I have for our time in Haiti.

It's been a better day in my soul today.  I still feel stuck in that sad shower, but like I said...I have hope.

The shower will eventually end, and I'll walk out new and lovely.  I know it's true because like that nurse, God stands right outside the door gently reassuring me...

"You're going to be fine.  I am the God who heals.  I make broken things new and useful.  It will take time and some work.  You just landed in Haiti.  It's a hard place.  It's a little bit hard because it's Haiti.  It's a lot hard because it's something new.  Be patient."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Photos - The Hendricks Hang


This week I've been working towards figuring out this whole "run your house" thing in a third world country.

Four kids.  Two parents.  Four from our family in school.  Lots of laundry.  Tons of dishes.  No paper plates.  No hot water.  Out of this world weird grocery stores.

Sure makes life interesting.

Laundry...

Here's how I used to do laundry.

Here's how I do laundry now...



I have a couple laundry slots each week.  Everyone who lives on campus shares the laundry room.  It's all communal and junk.  I heart anything communal.  Part of me loves living somewhat pre-industrial revolution.  I genuinely enjoy sharing the machines instead of everyone having their own.  It's kind of neat to spend less, work together, and see each other as we hand off our laundry batons.



We share washers and one dryer.  We also share the clothes line.  Ya just gotta love your panties on display for all the world to see.  Haiti has this way of making you do things you never could have imagined yourself doing.  Hanging our undies outside where Aaron's coworkers walk by...yep...that was on my list of things I thought I'd never ever not in a million years do.


Oh...and there are rats in the laundry room.  Big ones.  They look like ferrets.  The flamboyant rodents of unusual size run around like they own the place.

Who ever said laundry is boring has never done it in Haiti.

Any time Hudson says, "Kitty" when we're in the laundry room I grab him up, run out, and take a few deep breaths before going back inside.

I do love sheets right off the clothes line.  From this moment on I declare that I always want a clothesline.  No matter what number of a country I live in...I want to hang clothes on the line.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Woo-Who!!

Remember our stuff that was stuck in customs?




It got unstuck today!

Almost kissed me some Haitians!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When Heaven Speaks Through a Little Girl



It feels like it was a million years ago in another life...possibly a different planet...when a hunger for simplicity and less materialism made it's way into my soul.

In actuality it was only about eight months ago in the United States...a place so hard to believe exists from where I'm sitting right now.

We purged.  We cleaned out.  We tidied up and made piles and piles of "why did we ever think it was a good idea to buy this?"

We had a daddy garage sale and then some baby ones.

Shortly after our chart topper garage sale and the following garage sale remixes we found out we were moving to Haiti.

Selling our beautiful home in our perfect neighborhood...a neighborhood filled with doctors, lawyers, college professors, and an active, often-times nazi-ish home owner's association was very rough on me.

I wrote a lot as I was packing up our belongings...the things I loved and adored.  I wrote and wrote about how obvious it was that I had an unhealthy affection for items made of wood and earth and brick.  I sat in front of my computer, my face an ugly, mascara-less mess as I tried to put words to my emotions.

Sadness as I put batman costumes and my favorite wooden coke crates into boxes...unsure when I'd ever see them again.  Sadness as I held my things and cried into the carpet of one of the boy's rooms upstairs admitting to God that I was the rich young ruler.  I could not let go of this world and follow Jesus.  Sad that I was having such a hard time trusting the Lord and living as though I believe the things I claim to believe.

Shame as I admitted how much I love things that will one day be burnt up with fire.  Ashamed of the money we had spent to collect things that would never see eternity.  Ashamed of how many canisters and knick-nacks I possessed while so many around the world can not even eat everyday or pay for cheap medications to cure themselves or their children.

Thankfulness that God in His sweet mercy was waking us up from what seemed to be a nap that could have rivaled Rip Van Winkle's.

Humility as I came face to face with my greed and love of all things "so me", comfortable, and attractive to the eye.  It's strange to cry your way through every box and every room of your house as you pack it up and at the same time wonder how on earth I thought I was ever in the position to judge anyone...ever.  I cried and cried about the times when I had judged someone else about something spiritual.  I cried and cried about the markers I was using to gauge my own spiritual growth.  I cried that this one act...selling my home and packing away everything I loved said so much about my faith and maturity.

It was like owning a mirror at home that made me look thin and beautiful...looking into that mirror and leaving the house, walking around like an in shape, gorgeous specimen.  Then one day I walk past a different mirror...an accurate one and realize my mirror was distorted...I actually look like Shrek's wife.

How humbling it is to admit it does not matter how much of the Bible I have read...it does not matter how many classes I have taught...how much I have served the church and God's people...none of it mattered.  I was failing the most basic test that Jesus gave the rich young ruler when that young man asked what it took to follow Jesus.

"You want to follow me?" Jesus asks.  "Then sell all your stuff and give it to the poor."

Jesus did not ask the man to show Him his church attendance or ask the wealthy young man to define words like justification or sanctification.  Jesus didn't ask the man to give money or go buy things for the poor.  He asked the rich young ruler to give away

his

own

stuff

the things that were his...held his memories...were a reflection of who he was...his taste...his preferences...give them away. 

Jesus gave a test that I was failing...He wanted to know how attached the rich young ruler was to this earth...to himself...to worthless things that would one day make that rich man's life worth nothing.

I've now been in Haiti for over a week.

Our stuff is still stuck in this weird place called "customs."  I hear it's one of the most corrupt parts of this dear country.

I'd like to say that I've handled not having the few things we shipped to Haiti well.

Instead I'll tell the truth...

I have been having an internal sumo-style, sweaty fat fight with Jesus.

I want my stuff...just the few things we shipped.  God why?  Why can't I have that stuff?  It's not even that much junk for six people.  I want a few things that are familiar...I want a few memories...I want a few of our favorite foods.  Small throw rugs for my all-tile home.  God please.  This house is so plain and blah.  We're thankful for it but it's so not me right now.

There is nothing here that feels like home or me or us.  Nothing that feels like familiarity.  So God what the heck?  What are you wanting me to learn from my stuff sitting in a rat infested warehouse down the road?  What?

And then a Haitian girl from one of the girl's homes came over today.

She walked in my front door...stopped for a minute and said..."Your house is so pretty.  Your baby has his own room?"  She was beaming.  Could hardly believe it.

Whistle blew.  Wrestling match was over.

Seeing my home through her eyes in that moment did it.  In God's ever gentle way of doing everything peace washed over my soul.

"Things" do not make a home.  They just don't.

In those moments when I'm tempted to complain or when I flat out go on a complaining streak, God has graciously put me in a place where all I have to do is look over our wall at the way the people are living just feet from me...

and repent.

Actually I look over the wall and say, "What the heck is wrong with me...I'm an idiot."  Then I repent.

If you're like me and find that not being content has made its way into your heart, I wanted to take a second and let God use Haiti to heal something that is broken in each of us...


Isn't God kind, gracious, and good to gently love us that way?

Granite counter tops, more bedrooms, perfect floors or "my stuff stuck in customs" just seem down right silly now, huh?

Thank you Haiti and thank you God who made Haiti and uses it to teach us new lessons every single day.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Flight

We got to the airport crazy early.

The kids and I moaned about our early departure when my dad announced the time we needed to roll out of the driveway the next morning.  I'm so glad he ignored our groaning and made us get to the airport ridiculously early.

Several stupid things happened at that Houston check-in counter.

We had too many bags.  I have no idea how that happened.  We counted and recounted.

No one make jokes about me not being able to count to twelve because obviously it's no joking matter.

Nothing like rearranging your bags in front of everyone in line at the airport.

We had to take everything out of the extra duffel and put it into other underweight duffels.  Right in front of everyone we're yanking out undies, sports bras, and other super weird things you need to live in Haiti.  Surge protectors, dishes, wheat noodles. I'm sure the people around us thought we were insane.  Moving to Haiti makes you the weirdest packer ever.  Hands down.  The weirdest.

One of the bags we carried on the plane was full of cheese.  See.  The weirdest packers ever.



Ashton was a little cranky.  He and the beloved Boo Boo found the perfect seat while the rest of his family frantically fixed the bag situation.  I love this little boy!

Boo Boo is Ashton's favorite companion.  Last year when Ashton got his new animal, he wanted to name him Boobie.  How do you tell your kid that they aren't naming something Boobie?  I didn't know.  So I just put on my do not argue with me face and then said, "Uh...no.  Why don't you come up with a different name?"  That worked for Ashton.  That would have never worked for Anson.  He would have asked me so many questions and backed me into a corner until I caved and frantically explained to a five year old what a Boobie is and why he can't name his stuffed animal one.  Praise God for third borns, right?

Anson's passport got flagged.  There was an issue with it.  We'll have to get that fixed soon.  For the time being we totally played dumb.

Lots of craziness at the Houston check-in counter.  Thankfully my dad was there to interpret and to be nice to the lady that I didn't think was all that nice. 

One perk...they informed us that we would NOT have to go pick up our own bags and transport them to customs in Miami.  This was glorious news!  We thought Jason and I would be responsible for getting 12 giant duffels and 4 crazy kids through the airport in Miami.  It would be the sporting event of all sporting events, and we found out we got to sit it out.  Awesome!

The plane rides were pretty much uneventful.


Hudson became quite the expert on what to do if we happened to crash.  Good thing because I always get distracted when the presentation is being made.


He played with his buckle most of one plane ride.  The other three boys buried their faces in their gameboys.  I have never been more thankful that we limit their exposure to these things.  I hardly ever heard a word from them while they played their little game machines. 



Hudson being the silliest kid ever.  Can you tell he's the baby of the family?  He knows it for sure.


Ashton and Boo-Boo with their pilot wings.

The airport in Haiti was hot and chaotic.  I was so thankful to have Jason with us helping.  There would have been no way for me to do it on my own.  Getting the bags from the baggage claim to the giant truck the school sent to transport us was quite the sweaty feat.

We were so thankful to see Aaron and the trucks/guys that were waiting for our tired crew.

On the drive "home" it hit me.

We're here.  All of us.  In this crazy place.

It felt like an ocean was inside my chest.  Waves of "this is kind of exciting" and waves of "what on earth have we done" rocked back and forth inside me.

We said good-bye to everything we knew.  Everything clean.  Everything predictable.  Everything that made sense.  Everything we had learned to be successful and good at in the States.

So many "news" and "differents" were waiting for us.  New language.  New school.  New jobs.  New friends.  New church.  Different home.  Different schedule.  Different culture.  Different.  New.

Walking into this country is very much so like walking into a new relationship.  So much uncertainty.  So much to learn about one another.

My relationship with Haiti right now is pretty rocky.  There are times when I really like her.  Lots of moments I am tired of her.  Sick of her smell.  Sick of her dirt.  Sick of how confusing she can be and how inept she makes me feel.

I'm trying to remember that every relationship takes time.  It takes work.  It takes patience and perseverance.

Haiti is being a lot more patient with me than I am with her.  So far she's been a gentle friend.  It's me that needs the work.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Photos - Farewells to Family and Fajitas

After our feast we headed to bed way too late.

Got up early the next Morning.



Said good-bye to Laney Rae, Ruthie, and their oh-so-helpful grandmother.  We call her Old Lady Sandy…cause we’re nice like that.

Jason, Lynsey, and KK joined us at my dad’s in Houston for the night.

Thursday was filled with last minute shopping at Ikea for important things like light blocking/noise blocking curtains for our new bedrooms.

Mornings in Haiti are like an excited child on Christmas Morning.  At 5:30 a.m. the new day is jumping on your bed chanting, "Get Up!  Get Up!  Get Up!"  Like a wound up child ready to open presents there is no ignoring the morning in Haiti.

When we visited the country in May there were a few nonnegotiables for me as we were making our decision to come to the island.  I could not imagine my life without Hudson taking solid naps.  I'll tell ya straight up...I'm not nearly sanctified enough to deal with a cranky, tired two year old every day.

Curtains were a nonnegotiable.

After securing the curtains and my sanity in Haiti, we were off to eat our favorite meal before saying good-bye to America….Mexican food from Chuys.

My brother asked for a bowl of the jalapeƱo sauce.  A big bowl.  We wanted to swim in it.

We totally gorged ourselves.  If I wasn’t leaving for Haiti the next morning our display of gluttony would have been totally disgusting.

Under the circumstances, it seemed less like gorging and more like carbing up before a big race.

My sweet dad…

He filled our bellies with fajitas on Thursday night and then took us to the airport early the next morning. 

Our dad was a hero at the airport.   Normally when we fly, I hang on tight to Aaron while navigating airports.

There are way too many people to study and conversations on which to eavesdrop.  The airport is another one of those places where I want to sit down on the floor up against a wall somewhere and watch people for hours.  Although we’ve flown a lot, Aaron is always with me.  I stare at people.  Aaron does all the important airport stuff.  When we walked into the airport this time I realized that I don’t really know how to work the airport without Aaron. Thankfully my dad flies all the time and totally knew what to do.   We would have been lost without him.  Thanks again, Dad!

More pics from the flight next week.

I’m cheering inside that this here blog is almost caught up to the point where I can start posting more about Haiti.  I have so many pictures and stories of our new life here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Got Patience?



“What is your favorite food?”

The boys got quiet…a rarity. Their eyes pointed towards the ceiling as they thought about their answer.

Chicken n Dumplings

Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo

Mashed Potatoes

They were serious about their list because my Aunt Debbie had just informed them that the night before we left for Houston we would celebrate with a huge feast.

And oh what a feast!

Dear friends

Yummy food

Brownie Sundaes and homemade peach cobbler for dessert

The meal was heavenly.

Our sweet friends helped us finish stuffing our duffel bags.

They weighed them.

Stacked the bags in the living room.

And then we cried, held on tight to each other, and prayed.

I know I might be driving everyone insane with this, but we truly have been given the sweetest friends and family.

I miss them already.

Not having an easy way to be on the internet makes them feel further away, so I’m asking God to give me patience. I know it won’t be like this much longer.

Right now I can only get online long enough to answer pressing emails and post something on the blog or on facebook.

I long for the time when I can not only tell you about my life but catch up on the lives of everyone else.

Patience

Have I mentioned it’s not at all one of my strong points?

I have been wondering if the reason God brought us to Haiti is to dispel every missionary myth.

I always think of missionaries as natural beauties who don’t like makeup or care about their hair. I think they are patient, go-with-the-flow kinds of people. I think their hair could catch on fire and they’d simply shrug it off and then go take a cold shower without ever complaining. They are fine with dirt and being dirty. Roaches don’t even make them blink an eye.

Um…that’s not me. Least likely, remember? I’m the least likely pick.

So if this story ends well, then I’ll just go ahead and say it…no one else on earth will have any reason at all, whatsoever, to ever ever think they are not cut out to go to the nations, share the gospel in word and in deed, care for the poor and defend the cause of the orphan. Nope. Sorry. No one will have any excuse.

Patient

Another thing I’m naturally not.

I’m a take it into my own hands type of gal.

Haiti is teaching me to wait. Or should I say forcing me? I have no choice but to learn this lesson.

There is so much I need to do right now. The house needs to be organized so that it’s functional. Our stuff is stuck in customs. This house is a mess. Not just dirty. Messy. Like shoes and toys all over the living room messy.

And yet I have no idea how to buy things. I haven’t learned yet.

I barely understood how to work US money, so understanding gourdes (like dude with a g) seems impossible.

Aaron rarely let me have cash in the states because if I panicked at the cash register…like if someone wanted me to do math on the spot…mental math…I was very likely to drop my cash on the counter, no matter how much was in my hand and run away. I’d run off to find a happy spot free of numbers and adding and anything mathy.

Imagine that girl in Haiti with money in my hand that is so weird it’s not even the same size bills. I have a lot to learn before “shopping without Aaron” makes it onto my daily to do list.

But so help me…I’m going to learn it. For real. I’m going to get it.

Patience

The theme of this move has been to know and recognize the goodness of God.

He is good. I asked my friends to pray that for me as we left and as we try to adjust.

Pray that I remember that God is good. He wants good things for His children. He did not move us to Haiti to torture us or to be mean to us. This move is not supposed to be one gigantic wedgie from God.

He moved us here because He is good and everything that happens to us is for our good and for His glory.

Every hard lesson we learn are lessons we need to learn to know and understand God better.

Some moments in every day since I’ve been here I could have sworn God hated me.

Thankfully the thing God whispers in my ear as I’m falling asleep at night..the lullaby He sings over me are words about His goodness.

Every trial is good. Every hardship makes me know Jesus better.

I’ve never had to cling to those words like I have the past few days.

He is good.

I’ve known His goodness demonstrated through the love of family and friends. I knew His goodness in the United States. I am asking God to show me His goodness in Haiti. I know His goodness reaches to this island.

Patience

Thankfully God’s supply is never ending.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Alive in Haiti

I have a large amount of pictures on my camera ready to make their debut on the blog.

I have a large amount of posts that are written in my head.
Stories of saying good-bye.

Stories of saying hello.

Stories about the flight.

My first night in Haiti.

Going to a new church on Sunday.

Eating Sunday lunch with John and Beth McHoul.

Crying with Beth about women, boobs, and breastfeeding.

How in love I am with the people here.

How insanely hard living in this place will be for awhile.

Beautiful thoughts.  Ugly thoughts.

A few months worth of experiences in only a short number of days.

It will take me a little time to go back…sift through my brain and put this new world into words.

We have limited internet at the house right now.  Limited as in hardly any.  Hopefully we’ll figure out a way soon to be online at home.  With all the strangeness that is Haiti…all the things I’m having to learn I think having internet in the house will help me to feel like a normal person again.

For now…my boys.  Today was the first day of school at QCS.  Aaron was excited to meet his students.  Last night we had to get onto our kids several times because their eagerness to see the next day caused them to giggle and talk way later than we wanted them to be awake.

Their teachers are an answer to prayer.  We live on campus.  I can see the boy’s classroom doors from my kitchen window.  What a neat life.

I had to blink back the tears as I watched each of the boys with their classes today.  White kids are the minority.  There was something incredibly lovely about seeing my children surrounded by so much color.

I will miss many things about homeschooling this year.  Not everything.  Oh geez…I’ve been so ready for a break from teaching.   However…the things I’m going to miss were so far surpassed and outnumbered today by all the good that these boys will experience…it’s been a wonderful day.  I guess that’s all I can say.

Thank you for praying for our family this week .  It has felt like we’ve moved to a different planet.

I have so much to learn to simply be able to keep clothes clean in this house and food in our bellies.

The boys are having a blast here.  They stay outside most of the day catching giant lizards and chasing rats (gag…yes…rats).  So far, no breakdowns from the boys.  I’m the only one breaking down, but we all knew this would be the case.

Even through the tears, the meltdowns, the moments of panic when I’m asking myself “What have we done?” one thing is consistent…

God is here.

I have never felt His care like I have in this hard, odd place.  As soon as I break…as soon as I start crying or I get crazy irritated something happens…something perfect, right on time and meant just for me.  The problem I’m upset about does not get solved, but a person stops by…they say just the right thing.  Or I sit in church and God speaks straight to me.  I get an email that says, “I haven’t seen you in seven years and I dreamed about you and your family last night.  I prayed for you in the middle of the night.”

God prompts strangers to email me and say, “I can’t stop thinking about you.  God brings you to my mind throughout the day.  I normally struggle with prayer and have a hard time remembering to pray, but I can’t stop praying for you.”

God is aware we are in Haiti.  He knows.  He’s been on this island forever.  He sees us.  He knows what day our plane landed.

I’ve never been more aware of how “in your face, right on God’s radar” I have always been.
I know it’s been true forever.  It’s true for me in Haiti and it’s true for you wherever you are. 

God is near.

He sees.

He knows every need.

He is aware of every weakness.

Every struggle.

Haiti has hammered that home in my soul the last few days.

I have experienced Emmanuel, God with us this week.  The God who comes close to broken, bratty, freaking out, melting down, crying themselves to sleep people.

Thank you Haiti.

Friday, August 13, 2010

If You're the Praying Kind...

Will you pray for us today?

I haven't slept much in the last few days.

I don't think I slept at all tonight.  Up too late with last minute packing.  Up too late spending time with my family we'll be leaving behind tomorrow.  It's 3:15 and it's time to get dressed and ready to leave for the airport.

My brother, Jason, has been so kind to travel with me to help with the boys and luggage.  He's in charge of getting 12 giant duffel bags through the airport.  Normally this giant task would be nothing for my giant of a brother.  However, he has hurt his back.  He's strong and tough, so I know we'll make it.  But he's in pain.

I'm totally exhausted.  Moving and packing are always exhausting.  I've been up late getting everything situated.  I've been up late loving my friends...holding onto every last minute with them.  It has caught up with me.

Please pray that God gives Jason strength and relief today.

Please pray that we get rest over the next few days in Haiti.  If this happens, it will be a miracle.  I have no idea what I'm walking into or how much work it will require to get the kids situated in the new house.  It's loud and bright in Port-au-Prince.  We're moving to the noise and the chaos from living in a quiet subdivision and then on a farm for the past two months.  Day and night difference.

More than anything I want to be strong and able to love and serve our kids over the next few days as they see their new home for the first time.

Please pray God keeps us well in spite of lack of sleep and that we can physically do this airport thing today.

Please pray that the stuff we shipped about two weeks ago gets released from customs today.

Please pray that we walk in the strength that God provides...that we're patient and flexible.

I'm off to take a shower at 3:30 a.m.  The weirdest!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

On Our Way


We leave for Houston this morning.

The last few days have been extraordinarily sweet, and yet I've cried more tears than I knew I owned.

So much to write...so much to process.  Life has been full and rich with long good-byes the last few days.

I have lots of emails to catch up on...please be patient with me.  I'm taking the computer with me, but so many of the people I love are staying here.  Time with them has been treasure.

We leave Brenham today and the arms of my precious Aunt.

Tears flow the moment I think of saying good-bye to her.

Not the ones that fall softly down your cheek.  The kind that plummet from your eyes and cause your chest to rise and fall.

We have been so dearly loved this summer.

Who knew that the Lord would use this move to Haiti to bring about so much healing in my soul.

It has been a beautiful thing to live with a mother-figure again.  I've been married for a long time, so it's been a long time since I've lived with someone old enough to be my mom.

I have loved watching my sweet aunt...watching her cook...knowing how she folds her towels...where everything goes in her kitchen.  I have loved watching her stop in the middle of a busy day to love on one of the kids or listen to one of the boys go on and on about all the magic that's in their heads.

It touches me to walk past her bedroom door and see the light on early in the morning and late at night.  I know what she's doing.  Reading about Jesus, savoring His Word.

The love of God and stories of His faithfulness are always sitting on the tip of her tongue.  The kindness and gentleness of Jesus mark her life.

Blessing.  Pure blessing to us these last few months.

I love you Aunt Debbie.  Thank you for sharing your home with us.  For being so generous...the kind of generosity that has nothing to do with money and everything to do with giving of yourself to others.  You have given us an open door to your life and that is the sweetest gift.

We leave this country loved well.  We leave rested, reminded of the goodness of God, and ready for service.

God has used you, my loving aunt, to patch up some places in my soul that were wounded.  You are one of the sweetest blessings in my life.


She is clothed with strength and dignity;  she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
                                                                                                                     ---Proverbs 31

I love you!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Aaron's Update

Aaron updated the Mosaic Village blog yesterday.

I had no idea until now.

Somehow I failed to subscribe to my own husband's blog.  How rockin' awesome of me.

I have lots to write about, and I'll try to find time tonight.

For now, I just miss Aaron.  I have plenty of help.  I'm in no way overwhelmed.  My family is a treasure.  They have helped so much.  The boys have been wonderful (what saint is praying?).  I've gotten lots accomplished and had very little stress doing so.

I just miss Aaron...the person...my friend, my husband, the daddy.  I miss him.

I miss him coming home every evening.  I miss seeing him in the mornings.  I miss having him in the house.  Mostly...I miss him in my bed at night.  It's very strange how 14 years of sleeping next to someone makes you ache for them in your sleep.  I wake up in the middle of the night and reach for him.  I wonder how often I do this when he's there.  Maybe often because I notice it now that he's not there.  Maybe when he's there I don't even wake up once I find him.  With him being gone, I wake up several times a night because my hands can't find his skin.

Sigh

Friday, August 06, 2010

Possibly Uninteresting Update that's Definitely Partly Bulleted

This update may not be interesting, but it will be bulleted.  I've never used the bullet option in blogger, so I decided right this second that it's high time.

  1. Aaron is adjusting well to Haiti.  The house is not ready yet so he's staying with other teachers.  It's been great for him to get to know people who have been in Haiti longer than three days.
  2. The house will be ready soon.  I may even get pictures of it tomorrow.  Fun!  Then I'll make a final list of things we may need from Ikea.  I did research.  Ikea is a swell place to shop if you want to feel confident that your purchase wasn't made by children in slavery across the globe.  Doing some research, I found lots of articles about Ikea like this one and this one.  The first time I walked into an Ikea I paused in the lobby.  I had never seen a store so pretty.  After a few moments I wanted to tap dance...out of pure joy I wanted to break into a Broadway number.  Aaron almost wept.  Smartest company ever.  I don't know how they did it, but even with four kids we were able to spend three pleasant hours in that place.  We all ate a great lunch for six bucks.  Ikea will forever be dear to my heart.
  3. Okay wait...I'm not doing the bulleted list thing anymore because I can't put spaces between the numbers.  I need white space. Lots and lots of white space.  It helps me breathe when I write.  These tight fitting words are making me claustrophobic, cutting into my skin, and possibly giving me a yeast infection.
4.  We found out we'll have more electricity than we thought.  We'll pretty much have electricity most of the day...not so much at night.  Only in Haiti does electricity most of the day sound like the best thing ever.  Weird how your standards of "yippy" change when you take an airplane ride that lasts an hour and a half.

5.  Aaron is busy setting up his classroom and morphing into a school teacher.

6.  He went on a tour of Haiti today.  Saw a lot of cool stuff and a lot of sad stuff that made him very aware, once again that God wants us in Haiti and He has a plan for our family and for all of you in this broken, beautiful place.  Haiti will change us.  We're more convinced than ever before.

7.  While on his tour Aaron took zero pictures because I kept the camera here in the US with me.  Couldn't part with it.  Sorry.  I just couldn't.

8.  Aaron emails me long emails because it's hard to talk right now.  I fell in love with Aaron through his writing.  Back in the dark ages when people wrote letters to each other, Aaron would write me tons of notes and letters.  Even now I hang on every word and re-read his long emails several times.   They bring me comfort.  His notes to me don't say that living in Haiti will be easy.  But Aaron tells me about the hope that is in his heart and about how precious the people are that he's getting to know.  Comfort.  Those kind of words bring me comfort.

9.  Have I mentioned that we'll practically be living on a commune?  For real.  We'll live on campus with lots of other teachers.  We'll work together.  Hang out together.  Serve Haiti together.  I will force everyone to be friends and play lots of Settlers of Catan....maybe even a round or two of light as a feather stiff as a board.  Who knows.   I've ALWAYS wanted to live on a commune.  Always.  Laugh if you want.  In the weirdest way ever, this is a total dream come true for me.

10.  We miss Aaron like crazy.  We tried the g-chat/video thing.  Poor substitute.  I want my husband.  My real husband...the 4-D version. I got a little sad and discouraged when I looked at the calendar today.  It seems like forever until we see him.

11.  The kids and I are doing well.  I'm glad I'm not by myself.  Aaron has only had to call and talk to one of the boys for totally pushing the mom buttons.  He seemed like a new child after the phone conversation with his daddy.  That's why I will never equate these two weeks to being a single mom.  This is nothing like being a single mom.  Single moms...the real ones...I love you and you're a bunch of heroes.

12.  I was treated to a two hour massage today.  After it was over I felt like I was in a coma.  I thought for sure someone was going to have to scoop me up off the floor with a shovel.  While she was working on my head the massage lady said, "Did you have a head injury...like did you damage your skull in some way?"  In that peaceful, pretty room I did the forbidden...I started laughing hard.   I said, "No.  Not that I know of."  That might be the worst thing to hear when you are getting a massage, even if a brain injury would totally explain so much about my life.  Other than that funny part, the massage was something I'll remember for the rest of my life.  It was so therapeutic and relaxing.

13.  Last one.  I'm tired.  I'm going to sleep.  Ashton has had a bad reaction to his typhoid medication.  He has run fever and had a terrible tummy ache for about a week.  I've been up several times a night with him for the past few nights. He's been sleeping with me.  Last night he was crying in the bed in the middle of the night.  While sobbing he said, "My stomach feels so bad it feels like it died."  Poor thing.  He's done with the medicine.  Finishing the pills and eating lots of yogurt today seemed to keep him out of the bathroom.  We may even sleep though the night tonight.  I'm eager to go to sleep and find out.

Soon Aaron will be writing about the Haiti stuff on the mosaic village website.  He is waiting to write until he gets some pictures.  I won't be the one doing these updates for long, but so many of you have asked about Aaron through email today.  Thanks for loving us.  You now know everything I know.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Closing Thoughts on Church Ministry



For the last few days I got to spend time with my sweet, oh-so-funny sister.

What a blast.  I always cherish our time together.

This has been one of the most precious summers as we have literally soaked up our friends and family...held them close, breathed them in...spent time laughing, crying and living with each other.  If we stay in Haiti long-term, I pray every summer is just like this one.

Moving to Haiti marks the end of a huge chapter of our lives.  For 13 years we've been involved, in one way or another in leadership at a church.  As with everything else, I've spent time this summer thinking over so many things...saying good-bye to church ministry is one of them.

I was thinking the other day about how different my life would have been over the past several years if something drastic had not happened a few years ago. 

Ya see, a few years ago Aaron and I were both on staff at a very large church.  That church started two new churches and when it did we went with one of the new churches.  Aaron has been leading worship for New Life up until he left for Haiti.

While on staff at that larger church I had bought into this super weird lie (probably no one's fault but my own...not wanting to blame anyone, just saying this stupidity on my part happened while we were at the larger church). The reason may have been that I was young and immature.  Who knows.

The lie went something like this:

You are in leadership, so that makes you very different.  You can't really let people know you or be honest about your failures.  Oh you can be honest about failures publicly, but only AFTER you are no longer dealing with those problems any longer or if those failures make you really seem super holy in some weird passive-aggressive way.  If you have "victory" in an area of struggle...share that, but if not then keep your problems to yourself or only share them with other staff members.

I'm not exactly sure where that came from or more importantly why I believed it, but my word...how dumb. Maybe I am the only person who has ever dealt with this.  Who knows.  I will be the first to admit I can fall into "dysfunction" faster than most people.

No matter where it came from, that train of thought led to lots of unhealthy ways of thinking and behaviors.  It led me to believe that I could not have any close friends, because that didn't look good.  It might make others in the church jealous.  It made me think I was not a real person.  It made me want to take breaks from the people at church because they were a job to me instead of dear friends.  It made me want to go on vacation from the people in our church body because I wanted to get away from our job...our vocation.  The church was a career, not my family.  No one knew the real me.  I thought I had to seek out close friendships among other staff wives or among minister's wives from other churches.

I'm seriously rolling my eyes just remembering this craziness.

Thankfully, through a series of fortunate events, God began to heal me and reteach me.  Total freedom ensued.

I was struck by the Jesus of the Bible...the Jesus that was so loved by his closest disciples that they were willing to die horrible deaths to defend what they had seen and learned from Him.  Jesus redefined family.  He said anyone who does the will of His father was like his mother...his sister...his brother.  His disciples loved him...as a person...a friend...not as a public figure.  They saw him weep.  They saw Him get angry.  They loved being with Him.  They did not live in fear of Jesus.  They were themselves with Jesus, almost to the point of embarrassment. 

Slowly I began to ache for real, genuine relationships where I could be myself.  Where people could see how I was struggling...present tense struggling, not past tense struggled.

People in the church became my family.  We grew in close relationships with others.  Instead of wanting to hide away on our "day off" or turn our phones off, when people from church called, we answered because those people weren't people anymore.  They were our friends.  We didn't want time away from them.  We went on vacations together.  We hung out constantly.  Yes, we still reached out and met new people...and I pray we were just as genuine with them as anyone else.  But most importantly we no longer felt guilty about having close friends who knew us, loved us..all of us...the good, the bad and the downright shameful and embarrassing parts of us.

When I'd catch wind that people were jealous of a relationship I had with someone else, it didn't even bother me anymore.  It still doesn't.  I refused to allow anyone to put me in that yucky, prideful place I had allowed myself to be in years earlier.  That place was gross and unhealthy.  It was also unhealthy for everyone else around me.  No one and no snide remark was going to push me back into that nasty spot where I thought I had to be...the girl with the frozen smile, waving, being friendly, knowing no one and no one really knowing me.

If your pastor's wife has a close friend, please don't be upset that she does.  If your worship leader's wife has a bff, good for her.  They are people too.  Just like you.  They aren't any cooler than anyone else.  I promise.
They are just as needy, just as sinful, just as human as every other woman in your church.  A pastor's wife or a worship leader's wife or an elder's wife or any other staff wife isn't a female Jesus.  She's a person. She's human.  She can't invest in every single person that passes through the church foyer.  It's impossible. It's silly for her to think she can and it's just as silly for people to expect her to do that.

If your pastor's wife looks like she's sitting on a parade float, for the love...grab her, sit her down and tell her you're going to be her friend.  Kidnap her and don't let her go until you convince her that there's nothing really special about her.  Nothing that makes her have to live her life far away from the love of people and close friends. No title is worth that.

I hope you know me well enough to know that I'm not advocating for cliques or holy huddles.  Jesus despised exclusive groups that practiced favoritism.  However, I do think staff wives can go too far and be so afraid of cliques that they have no true friends...no real connections with others.  They can be alone in a giant sea of people.  Leadership becomes synonymous with isolation.  Somehow Jesus pulled off leadership and still had close community.

All that to say....

We've learned in over 13 years of ministry and 14 years of marriage that relationships are most important.  Although it hurts desperately, I am most thankful for the way God has literally woven our souls together with so many precious people in our lives.  We feel the sting as we're saying good-bye, but only because we've already invested deeply into these relationships.  A few years ago, we could have left this town and people would have been a little sad...but all they would be grieving would be the loss of our position.  Not the loss of us as people.  People they know.  People they love.  People who have known and loved them.  Praise God for His rich mercy for teaching us how to love and how to be loved.  Real.  Honest.  Genuine. Love.

If the Lord ever puts us back into church ministry, I will never ever go back to being the lady on the float.  No way.  People want to be her, but people don't love her and from way up there on that decorated float, it's awfully hard for her to love other people.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Haiti gained 1000 pounds today


1000 pounds of stuff.  That's what we took.  1000 pounds.  That sounds like a lot.

I don't feel too terrible though.  One couple we talked to said they took 600 pounds to Haiti when they moved.  There's two of them.  There's six of us.

We had to take enough toiletries to last us through Christmas.  Dish soap.  Cleaning supplies.  Laundry soap.  I already had most of that stuff from being a crazy, coupon stockpiler.  Who knew moving to Haiti was why I was learning to stock up and save, right?

By the way...books are heavy, and yet apparently we can't live without them.  None of us.  We took books instead of things we actually need.  How awesome certifiably insane of us. Oh well.  When we're hungry or have worms in our butts, I guess we can always dive into a good book to distract ourselves.

To ship our stuff Aaron dropped it off at a missions organization that flies these sorts of things into Haiti.  Aaron and Will unloaded the trailer in Ft. Pierce yesterday.  Aaron got on a plane today.

Lots of our poundage was toiletries, food, and kitchen items.  I think I have enough food to act as a buffer while I try to figure out how on earth I'm going to feed my family in this new, crazy place.  Imagine your grocery store.  Ahh...close your eyes and imagine all the aisles...the giant produce department...the organic section...one full aisle devoted entirely to juice.

Well...the grocery store in Haiti is nothing...um...nothing...like your grocery store.

Learning to shop and eat in Haiti will be interesting, but it's kind of exciting to me.  A challenge.  I totally love a challenge.

When I was packing, I constantly asked the Lord to give me wisdom.  I didn't want to take too much, cause let's face it...we have no idea how long we'll be in Haiti (past the nine month commitment we've made).  I don't want a ton of unnecessary items over there.  We also have to pay $1.50 per pound to ship our stuff.  So that totally ruined any happy packy moments I would have normally had.  However...I also know that if I hate my house there...if I feel like I'm camping indefinitely, obviously I'm not going to want to stay for long.  They don't call me Heather Hilton for nothing.

I had to remind myself over and over...this isn't a one week mission trip.  This will be our life for at least the next year or so.  While I was packing I was also praying...asking God how to make our family a home while not living with excess or in extravagance in a place with so much need.  How can I help our family adjust to this new place?  How can I make our house comfortable and inviting without using much money or living crazy different than the people outside our gate?

I wanted to pack the necessities and anything else that was lightweight that would help our house be organized and livable.  Have I mentioned that Haiti is fresh out of Targets?

I packed lots of collapsible, organizational items.  Even though I've never seen my kitchen I prepared for it to be a lot smaller than what I've been accustomed to here in the States.  We'll see if Ikea saves the day in Haiti.

Aaron landed on the ground in Haiti today.  There was a mix up at the airport and he ended up taking a taxi to the school.  Totally freaked me out when he told me that.  I won't even try to describe the airport in Haiti.  Hands down the scariest part of our trip.  The taxi ride was eventful.  Aaron liked it.  He's weird, so he would.  Lots of yelling.  Lots of near wrecking.  I'm sure Aaron had his hands in the air yelling in the backseat.

Our house on campus isn't ready yet, but it's close.  Huge sigh of relief.  I know everyone has been very busy this summer at QCS.  I am in awe of the life that most of the teachers have lived since the quake.  Some of them have been separated from their spouses and children.  Tragic, hard stuff has been going on.  Selfishly I'd love to know when we get to Haiti our house will be ready for our wild bunch.  But it's really hard to be selfish when so much is going on in Haiti that has been hard and way bigger of a deal than what's going on in our lives.

I'm asking God for patience and peace.  I won't lie.  I'm no good at the patience part.  For that reason, I'm already doubting, once again, that God picked the right person to do this Haiti thing.  Me?  Really?  I am like the least patient person around.  I'm barely flexible.  I like things organized and I'm truly moved...brought to tears by efficiency.  I'm not very efficient, but I'm moved by it.  Just like I'm not artistic, but art makes me cry.

I'm asking God to convince me again...like for the nine thousandth time this month that He really wants me in Haiti.  I think He's lost His holy mind.

When we were in Haiti in May we saw the building that would be our house.  It was not a house yet.  Just a building that was being gutted and turned into a four bedroom house for our family.  Aaron is going to send pictures soon so I can know if there's anything else I need to bring in our suitcases when we come.

Parenting alone with four boys update:

I suck at this.  I miss Aaron.  I keep wanting to send the boys to their dad, but he's not here.  I miss Aaron cause he's funny and my favorite friend.  I also miss what happens to the boys when their dad walks into a room, or when I mention his name when they are doing something totally ridiculous and sometimes illegal.  The middles stole sensors from Plato's Closet today.  They got busted.  How could they not?  They walked out of the store with the sensors that beep when you walk through the doors.  Totally embarrassing cause they stole something...and because they weren't even smart about it.  Aaron, seriously...we just don't do well without you.  We really don't.

Welp...consider yourselves updated, folks.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Real Test...


Moving to Haiti is one thing...


Being away from Aaron for TWO WEEKS...well, that's a whole different thing.

We have never been apart from each other that long.  Never!  I know lots of couples have to do the "away" thing all the time.  We've never had any reason to be apart from one another for two weeks, so this is new to us. 

Lots of tears today as Aaron was leaving.  The boys were crying.  I was crying.  Aaron was crying (only because he's a total wimp and cries any time his wife cries).  Our niece was a total mess.  She packed Uncle Aaron a bag of snacks while she literally sobbed in the kitchen.  She started crying the moment Aaron's brother arrived on the farm.  She knew seeing Will meant it was time.

Poor Will.  He offered to drive Aaron all the way to Florida pulling a small trailer with some of our stuff inside...the stuff we're shipping.  What a nice brother, right?  When he drove up the kids treated him like he was the Grimm Reaper.  He did not receive a warm welcome.  It's not fun to have small children stare you down as you walk up to the house.  It's not fun to have people start crying just because you arrived.

Our daddy loaded up today and headed to Florida.  He flies to Haiti on Wednesday.

My brother, Jason, will fly with me and the kids to Haiti on August 13.

Until then we will miss Aaron something fierce.  We don't do well on our own.  The kids totally know they have me outnumbered.  I can feel it.  Thankfully I'm with family.  They are so precious and a huge help.  No way could I do this without them.

Aaron is twittering his updates.  I've loved getting the play by play today.


Totally sappy, but I teared up posting this picture.  I miss you Aaron!

Thank you for driving him, Uncle Will...and a huge thank you to the Palermos for letting us borrow your trailer to haul across the country.