Woah, you guys get two blogs within a days time! I was expecting mine to go out before Karen’s but I guess she’s too quick for me. Be sure to read hers, though, it’s more important than mine, because we all need to be praying for Ti-Luc’s adoption process right now.
I’d like to start off by thanking the Canadian group for all of their help and love while they served with us in Haiti. I know Karen was blessed by them, and Jess and I were as well! Thank you! I’d also like to thank those of you who keep track of what’s going on here through the blog. We get so much encouragement through your comments to us and your constant prayers!
While the Canadian team was here, Jess and I had a conversation with Gerry in which he gave us the idea to blog about our background. We have realized that most of you probably don’t know much about us. You may know where we’re from and hints of our personality through the blog, but that’s about all. So in our next few blogs, Jess and I will share with you some of our background; where we came from, how we met, and a few of our life experiences. I’ll do so at the end of this blog.
Jess and I would also like to thank Karen for allowing us to have a week off for our 1st wedding anniversary! It was such a blessing to have that time of rest and celebration. Since we didn’t want to use much money, we found the cheapest all inclusive in the D.R. and took a bus to Santo Domingo from Port Au Prince. We definitely got more of an experience than our money paid for! 12 hours of traveling each way- Jess didn’t go to the bathroom either way because the bathrooms were, um, disgusting (i don’t blame her!); hours at the border due to customs and on the way back, our driver just decided to drive through without getting our bags checked because it was taking so long (and we got away with it!); we drove through at least a foot of water for at least an hour both ways (our bags were soaked when we got home, but thankfully not on the way there!).
And that’s just the travel! The hotel was a bit shady too. We both felt more comfortable sleeping in our bed in Haiti and cleaner taking showers in our Haitian shower. The food was good, but only because it was something different (Marguerite makes better food!). We thought we were getting away to luxury, but the first night definitely didn’t seem like that. Honestly, the first night we had to sit down together, change our attitudes, and give it up to God. Good thing we did, because now we wouldn’t change our experience for the world! The hotel or food didn’t get better, but we realize that luxury isn’t in things. It helped that the hotel had a nice beach with a bunch of free things to do! We spent so much time relaxing, whether it be laying on the beach, kayaking, swimming, snorkeling or just watching tv. We were glad to come home, though and start fresh, and we were missing the kids!
It has been great being back! We were refreshed and ready to get back to work. Karen is staying busy at the school since it is exam week. She’s a blur in the morning, running back and forth. But we’re in the planning process for an office over at the school so that she doesn’t have to run between the school and the office at her house so much next year. Exams finish tomorrow! Which means that school is out! Which means that we just get to play and have fun all summer- having water fights, going to the public pool, playing mini golf, taking a trips Six Flags and eating coneys at Sonic! Okay, maybe not, but things will slow down a bit and we will have a bit more fun. Don’t worry, though, we won’t stop working!
Jess is staying busy in the office and Karen is delegating more to her in order to lighten her own load. Jess also had church to prepare for on Sunday. I’ve been working on a bunch of little things; a stall door in the girls home, clothes hanger bars in the girls rooms, electrical in the front depot, cleaning up the clothes lines for the kids, organizing, and running new plumbing and electrical for the new washer Karen got for Madame St. Arc. Now she doesn’t have to wash all the clothes by hand! She only has to hang them up! She’s been very happy this week in anticipation of me getting the washer hooked up! Also, last week I painted the basketball backboard. Tuesday morning, I spent hours painting the backboard. Then sometime in the afternoon someone vandalized it by painting USA with stars in red, white, and blue!
No one saw who did it, but the kids blamed me for some reason! But why would I?! It’s not like the USA and Canada were playing a big soccer match that night in the Gold Cup and only one child (Djeumima) took sides with Jess and I. Or maybe that was the case! Okay, I did it! And it was great seeing the reactions of the kids and of Karen as she ran in vain to find spray paint to paint over it! My actions did start a fire in Karen and the kids though, because when Jess and I showed up to the house that evening to watch the game, they were prepared to make noise for their team- Canada! It was a fun evening!
And the next day I painted over the backboard to something all the kids could agree with! And Yes, Jason, that color is Aqua Chinte!
Who remembers my previous story about our mouse “friend” Jean Claude and the disappearance of our recipes? Well, we found our recipes!
One of the first things Jason did when he was here, was give Jess and I some advice on how to catch mice. His suggestion was to put water in the bottom of a bucket and rub peanut butter around the inside of the bucket with a stick leaned up against it. The mouse climbs the stick to get the peanut butter, falls, and ‘Fini”. Either the joke’s on us, or mice here don’t like peanut butter, because we didn’t even get a sniff all week! In our frustration we turned to our best source of advice- the Bible. The Bible doesn’t really have any useful advice on how to get rid of mice, but it’s an obvious choice to use as a tool to get rid of mice. Take a look at our library, “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis and “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan are too small- they don’t have enough weight to kill a mouse with one hit. It seems inhumane to kill a mouse with multiple blows and afterall, I wouldn’t want the regret Mel Gibson felt in “The Patriot.” Beth Moore workbooks have a good striking surface, but don’t have the needed weight. Also, they’re paperback and flexibility is not good. You need something that has a good striking surface and is heavy as well. A rock won’t due because although it is heavy, it could also damage the surroundings. The Bible on the other hand is thousands of pages long and in hardback form provides not only the weight, but also the striking surface needed to be an effective weapon, and it won’t damage anything or be damaged itself. I believe the Bible refers to itself as a double edged sword. In my case, I will refer to it as a mouse trap, effective in getting rid of them. If any of you are interested in using our methods, I suggest not using the NLT(New Living Translation). Either its definition of the word love is too modern, or my small print leatherback version didn’t get the job done in one smack, which has caused me to give it a new name- the SLT or Still Living Translation.
Sunday was a wonderful day with three very important and meaningful things happening! First, Church was wonderful! That morning, Jess gave me an un-mandatory(mandatory) assignment. To sing “Give me Jesus” in Creole for worship. Although I wasn’t pumped to do it at first and was nervous, I’m glad for her encouragement (She makes me a better person!), because it went better than expected and we got to teach it to the whole congregation. And it’s been a blessing hearing the kids singing it the past few days! The Presence of God was very present during the service. A few adults gave a special by doing some drama and a song which was beautiful. And Jess’ lesson was on longing for God and both adult and child comprehended what she taught! She brought the kids on a journey through the school that represented God’s people going through the dessert to get to the promised land. Karen got up at the end in tears, thanking all for serving Christ through the talents He’s given them and pleading that we be mindful in sharing Christ with others. It was a powerful service!
Second, We celebrated Dieunel and Jofky’s birthdays! Jofky turned two and Dieunel turned 5. The birthday boys sat in the center chairs and waited as we got everyone else together. It took a while and you could tell that Jofky was sitting there getting more and more annoyed every second that food wasn’t in his mouth. They both received a few toys and we finished the party by seeing who could catch thrown candy with their mouth! Ann wanted to play too so she stuffed a piece of fudge in her mouth that she found.
Third, the Dallas Mavs beat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals!
Our frequent evening walks have slowed down due to the rainy season coming. We have fit a few in the past week though. One of them included a lot of mud and dirty children and the other included a breakthrough with Jofky. All who know Jof, know his belly too. He likes to sit in the stroller or be held, but on our last walk he RAN 4 times for at least 100 feet each time!
Now for some background on Jess and I. I’m going to blog this week about where we came from because it was very real to us this past week in what we were learning. We come from Montgomery County, Illinois. We’ve both lived there the majority of our lives. Jess moved to Hillsboro when she was 6 (over 4 thousand in population) and I grew up in Coffeen (750 in population) which is 6 miles from Hillsboro, I mean, Hillsboro is 6 miles away from Coffeen! There’s not much difference between Coffeen and Hillsboro (except that Coffeen always bred better athletes!). It’s a small town area, with a real family feel where you’re taught good midwestern morals and work ethic. You can drive 5 minutes in any direction and be absolutely nowhere, which I would consider a good thing! I loved growing up in Coffeen where me and my siblings could ride our bikes all over town without our parents being in fear. I have so many great memories of wading in creeks, building trails in the woods, exploring the lake, trips to the laundry mat, picking strawberries, throwing walnuts at the mailbox, and playing every sport imaginable with friends, and I know Jess has the same types of memories from Hillsboro. It’s an area with few attractions, which can easily lead to boredom, but it brings the challenge of making up fun. Our families always encouraged that, so we were always thinking of creative ways to have fun. That continued throughout high school and college and even after. For us, it was a great place to grow up, and it would be a great place to live.
One day last week, I spent some time thanking God for the blessing of Coffeen. The thoughts spurred from thinking about how proud God is of where he comes from. Everything he does is for the purpose of bringing more into his wonderful kingdom. The cool thing was that I thought and wrote all this without knowing what Jess was working on for the sermon on Sunday- Psalm 84. “How lovely is your dwelling place, O God.” “A single day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” “What a joy for those who can live in your house always singing your praises.” Think about it, those that are proud of where they come from make you want to visit their home. The Canada group was so proud of their home, especially the NewFoundlanders, and it makes Jess and I want to visit there! I thought about my experience in Coffeen growing up. I had such a great family experience (which I will write about later), and such a good Christian community through high school and especially college in which we spent so much time in Coffeen. I’d like to share with you what I wrote in my prayer journal that day….
“Father, I praise you for your ability to do the miraculous and for pride in your kingdom. There are people who are proud of the place they came from and people who aren’t. Those who are make you want to visit their home, even if it’s not the coolest place in the world. There are so many people who have a special place in their heart for Coffeen, IL and because of it there are so many more who want to visit. Coffeen wouldn’t be considered one of the top places to visit in the world, or in Illinois, or even in Montgomery County. It doesn’t have many sights to see or attractions or good shopping; it’s not culturally modern or relevant, but it has deep spiritual history. Many have found spiritual insight and refreshment there- true friendship through open dialogue and late night cups of coffee. There’s a pure environment of community where all are invited to share their minds despite differences, while still having its foundation in Jesus. You’re free to have fun without holding a beer in your hand, because enjoyment is created, not copied. People laugh together in each others joys and cry together in each others sorrows. Hurts are forgiven and differences are left at the door. All this produces and environment of encouragement and creative fun. People are free to be who God has made them to be. Coffeen may be entirely different for someone else, but this is my experience. And Father, however weird an avenue for praise this is, it is one that is more real than usual. I praise you for the experience and environment of true Christianity! And however awesome I can make Coffeen sound, your home is so much better! I would never choose Coffeen over Heaven! One of the beauties of Coffeen is that it doesn’t make me homesick here in Haiti, but rather confirms that I am exactly where I am supposed to be! It wouldn’t be the place it is if I had stayed, because the purpose of my learning there was to go out and serve. It is a place of refreshment and renewed vision.”
My physical home is Coffeen, but my spiritual home is Heaven. The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Do we do a good enough job of causing others to want to go to our home- Heaven that is?”
We’ll end with a few random photos that should make you smile. Enjoy!