Well, hello everyone! Seth and Jessie are back on the compound for another exciting week at HATS! And we brought our two little ones (Aleyah 7 and Solomon 1 & ½) and Jessie’s parents this time!
Aleyah, has been asking for quite some time to come to Haiti. We’ve always told her…” if we are blessed to adopt you, we will bring you to Haiti with us.” Well, we officially adopted her in April and shortly after began planning our trip here!
Originally, I planned on writing multiple blogs, but I was too busy and wrote too slowly. So my plan changed to just writing one blog for the week, that way I can write a little bit each evening. So, find your favorite drink, sit back and enjoy for a while!
I used to enjoy travelling. I remember the days when I used to fly on planes in peace. I would sit there in the seat sipping on coffee, reading a book, and listening to music. Oh the life! Now, I barely have room in my carry on for a small new testament and a thin devo because it was packed with snacks, kids books and games. Those things may even be more important for my spiritual health during travel than a Bible. I think for a moment, I thought about pulling MY books out to read, but it never happened.
Our flight to Miami was great, and things from there only got better! We were so thankful that they boarded us for our flight to Haiti two hours before our plane left the ground, because 18 month olds love being constricted in small places for long periods of time. We were also thankful that we saw our bags out in the thunderstorm uncovered for quite a while because the airport workers couldn’t work in the storm. We were also thankful that one of our bags got left in Miami so we had to wait in line forever to get that worked out. In all seriousness though, we couldn’t complain with how well the kids did considering the circumstances…they were champs!
Solomon loved the van ride from the airport to HATS! Because of the wait for baggage, our friends from Project help were so kind to take our other bags out to their vehicle. The plan was to meet up with them outside, but the parking lot turned into a maze and we couldn’t meet up with them. They took our bags for us, which meant we didn’t have Solly’s car seat. That’s why he loved the ride! He stood 75 percent of the time, which is really impressive considering the road conditions and the way they drive- I don’t think I could have stood that much. It felt really weird not putting him in a car seat, but then I saw a family of five with a newborn baby on a small motorcycle, and didn’t feel so bad.
We arrived at HATS to Karen and the ever joyful children! It was so great to hear their voices and see their smiling faces! They’ve all grown up so much since we were here almost two years ago! And they remember everything! We had a typical first morning at HATS- trying to find supplies and fixing stuff so that we could start some work. I need to remember to bring EVERYTHING, because things tend to develop legs here. The plan was to start painting the new apartment, but first we had to check the paint status. Paint here is liquid gold- imagine how much paint cost at home and then double or triple that cost! Also, it goes bad a lot quicker. Karen and I started out by throwing out 4 partial 5 gallon buckets of spoiled paint. Then we decided to mix the rest of the good partial buckets into colors we liked. It was a pretty enjoyable process. Therefore, the new apartment won’t have any of the typical HATS colors. This is sad news for all of you who have painted at HATS and have formed strong bonds with Aqua Chintz, Tempting Teal, Purple Majesty, Tickled Pink, etc. I figured since I made the new colors, it was only right that I also give them names. The newly created colors had a peaceful feel to them so I gave them names accordingly, and here they are….”Battery powered fan Blue”, ”Plane ride without kids Purple”, “Airconditioned Aqua”, and “Tampico Teal.”(Which is a debatably peaceful name because some people love it and some people hate it.) Hopefully the apartment will give that peaceful feel when it is finished.
It has been a very hot week! We thought that Illinois was preparing us for Haiti because before we came the heat index was getting up to 110 degrees. But you can’t truly prepare for the Haitian heat…we found out that Thursday the heat index got up to 130 degrees! The heat can make sleeping very difficult without a good evening rain and the first 3 nights didn’t give us any- each night seemed to get hotter! Thank God for fans! I even noticed that Solly has naturally developed the correct sleeping position for Haiti- its called the X position, where you’re laid out on your back with no limb touching another.
The week before coming to Haiti, Jess, with the help of her mom and others, ran a vacation Bible school program at our church. They decided that would be a good thing to do this week for the kids. So Jessie spent a bunch a bunch of time translating the curriculum for here, and brought all of the snacks and crafts we needed. The kids have loved it so much! It’s awesome peeking in and seeing them sit and listen so well, especially hearing the older ones talk about what they are learning. Jessie and Connie are doing a great job, but I get the fun part- I get to come in each day dressed as a crazy man named Victor and put on a funny little skit. The kids love calling me Victor and acting out what I did that day.
As always, there has to be the evening soccer game! We’ve had a some intense matches between Haiti and North America. The first game we lost by two- I even tried pretty hard at the end of the game to score goals, but Dieunel was a stud in goal and made some amazing saves to give them the win. The second game ended in a tie. Tracy tried to end the game early by kicking the ball on top of the church while we had the lead, but the kids eventually forced me to climb on the roof and get the ball so the game could resume. Sunday was the BIG GAME! The kids told us it was going to be a mixed game because Luckner’s boys and a few other older boys from the community were coming. But when the teams got made, it was the white people, Moise, Djemima, Leica, Jofky, and Anne. The other team had JJ, Dieunel, Judel, and the reinforcements. Thankfully, we pulled off the upset by winning 5 to 4 on an amazing late goal by Moise!
Our kids have loved it here! At first Solomon wasn’t so sure, but Aleyah was making friends with everyone. Aleyah was perfectly content if she didn’t see us all day, whereas Solomon was perfectly content if we were always in his sight! By now he has mostly warmed up to everyone, except for the times when all of the kids are touching him at the same time( which happens quite often- they don’t get to see a white baby very often!). He loves Moise and especially Luc. It’s so cute to see he and Luc chasing each other around the house- Luc is so great with him and is always making him smile and laugh.
Sunday is always a bit more relaxed, as it should be. It’s so great to get to worship with the people here! Jess gave a great message, I have no idea what she said because I was chasing Solly around the whole time, but I heard it was good. And Victor stopped in for a visit. In the afternoon, we finished up painting the apartment with the help of JJ and Moise and then played toys and bubbles the rest of the afternoon. Mainly, we were distracting the kids while Karen, Beate, and Tracy filled up water balloons. They put them in a tote and we told the kids we had great gifts for them. They were skeptical, as they should have been, but it ended up being a wonderful water fight for all!
Some other highlights for our family were getting to walk through the market in Verrettes, seeing Luckner and the house he is building, and going on a mountain hike with our friends from Project help. But nothing really compares to the quality time we get to spend with the people here- laughing over intense games of UNO (which I suggest we form a HATS UNO committee to hash out some definite rules, because the kids say each team comes with new rules); meeting new servants of God (Heather, Mackenzie, Beate, and Tracy), conversation while eating great food; pictures and snacks during walks; games; and all the little things like smiles, hugs, high fives, bubbles, and holding a kid up by the ankles( over and over and over again). It’s a blessing being here and we hope we can be a blessing to them too. It’s so great to see the kids grow Spiritually- to see where they were last time we were here to where they are now, and to have hope and belief in our hearts that when we come again they will be further along too!
Karen, thanks for welcoming us back as family- thanks for letting us be a part of this! And praise God for his purpose and plan here!
Thanks again! Seth, Jessie, Aleyah, Solomon, Jim and Connie