Dear friends and family,
Grace and peace to you! I hope this update finds you well. I don't follow the American news as much as I should while we're in Haiti, but it would be impossible to not know of the harsh winter many of you are facing. I hope you're warm and avoiding cabin fever.
Life here in Haiti is currently pretty stable for us, which is GREAT news! ;) So without further ado, let me share some pics and info on some of the comings and goings of the past month.
We are FINALLY moved in to our new place! We are loving living with more space and the yard is so fantastic we can overlook some of the challenges we're having with getting everything just how we want it in the houses.
Here are some pics of the finished product!
Mosaic has become a big thing in Jacmel, and the new mosaic walkway down by the Jacmel Bay waterfront was just inaugurated last week, although it's been finished for months. We often take our kids down there to run, fly kites, ride scooters.
Things continue to go well for Church on the Beach. (Or Church off the Beach as we've taken to calling it recently since we're currently meeting in a home and not on the beach.) I couldn't imagine doing life without these other families down here who are a support to us in every way. I love the way our children play together too... it's neat to watch our American kids start to develop community of their own outside of our family.
We had an ex-pat kid Valentine's Day party that would rival any United States party. There was cake and candy, Valentines, games, crafts, and swinging each other in circles on our hammock chair until one person became physically ill. As my friend Deena said to me once, "It's not a good party until someone throws up in the bushes."
Our friends Tim and Greg came to visit in early February and they came with the tools and skills to work on our new place. Each day they worked on things like electricity, internet, and car maintenance. They were so fun to have around AND, as an added bonus, we discovered a new restaurant near the airport when we went to drop them off. It's called The Shack and it's AMAZING! (Fair warning: It will give you the meat sweats.)
We were also blessed with a visit from our friends James and Lindsay. James is a friend of ours who had come down to visit on a short-term team and he wanted to bring his wife, Lindsay, down for a visit for their anniversary. They came strictly as tourists and stayed at a great hotel in Cyvadier. I loved that! These two could choose anywhere, yet their ideal anniversary trip was to visit the beautiful Haitian Caribbean! They got to experience some of the fun pre-Karnaval festivities in Jacmel.
We had a little unrest earlier in the month. Here's the story. Several neighbors in one zone of Cyvadier were tired of having lousy power, so they all pitched in money together to buy a transformer for their zone. Together they raised the few thousand US dollars to have it purchased and installed. It was installed and power was good. Well then, no one knows why, one day the power company came and took down their transformer and put in a replacement one that was smaller and didn't provide good electricity. The people were livid. They tried over and over to have the power company come and re-install their transformer. They didn't. So, the people took to the streets and set up a roadblock of rocks and burning tires and wouldn't let people pass. Finally the police and fire department interceded and the roadblock was cleared several hours later. But that very evening, the power company came over and changed out the small transformer for a new one like the community had bought. I like that story because it illustrates how a lot of the perceived "violence" is not random or senseless. It is unfortunate that the only way for people to see results is to make a big noise.
February we worked hard on changing the menu at our house so we're not eating the same old things all the time. We made good progress so far, so we're going to go at it for a month or so and see how it goes. Here, Nick is having Fritzie and Josiah help him make pasta with cream sauce.
Prisca and Wildarne went for a visit to see their grandmother this month. It's a joy to see our kids maintaining relationships with extended relatives when possible.
Yves turned 18 last week!!! (Can somebody say, "Amen!"?) We had a great beach party out at Kabic Beach to celebrate Yves. It's good to see him growing in maturity. We are proud of the young man he is becoming.
Finally, as I've mentioned before, the celebration of Karnaval is a big deal in Haiti. Jacmel is known for it's beautiful colors and paper-mache masks. Here are a couple of pics of Schneider's Karnaval celebration at his preschool. Pretty ridiculously cute, huh?
These are a bunch of kids in his class. He is the little one with the red satin pants. :)
And here's a shot of Nick walking through the crowd the day of the paper-mache parade. It was fun, as always!
February had its challenges as well. One of our neighbors was taking down a tree and accidentally took down our power lines with it. It caused some damage, but thankfully, within 24 hours everything was back in working order.
We're dealing with a lot of the normal teenager drama in our house, having so many teenage kids in the same family. Nia and Wildarne had a whopper of a fist fight-- the first time each of them has fought like that, and we're still working on leveling out emotions from that. And we've also had some challenges with one of our boys that has caused us to make some changes in the family dynamic. Please pray for wisdom for Nick and I to parent well during these difficult parenting years.
As always, we are thankful for the trust you have in us to steward your resources. February was a tight month financially, from a donation standpoint, but because of the planning and saving we've been able to do, we didn't have to miss any payments. AND, thanks to our friends from Crosspointe Church and College Heights Baptist we've been able to purchase and install a new electrical system in our house complete with 4 battery chargers, 2 voltage regulators, a new inverter, and 8 new batteries. This system will allow us to get several more hours of electricity each day and prevent us from having to run the generator so much, which saves a lot on diesel fuel! It is SO nice to sleep through the night without the interruption in electricity.
We are always on the lookout for people to join our support team as financial donors. Even a small amounts are helpful. Visit http://www.joyinhope.org/donate/ to donate securely online, or, email me at email@example.com for more info.
With grateful hearts,
Gwenn, for the entire Mangine Many