Life has been fast-paced and exciting lately—the good kind of excitement for the most part! We’re into a good groove in terms of a schedule, and many feelings of chaos we’ve been experiencing are starting to fade. Haiti feels more like home everyday. The temperature is cooling down (meaning the low 90’s instead of high 90’s) which makes a HUGE difference. We’ve finally been getting regular afternoon rains that cool off the day and make sleeping more bearable.
School started for all the Mangine kids last week. Every morning at 6:50AM, Nia, Fritzie, Nick and I head out the door to go over to the office where we do school. Fritzie meets downstairs with her teacher, and Nia and I do school upstairs in team housing. Nick spends his mornings in the Joy in Hope office doing “desk work” (or, more likely, dozens of around town errands.) We finish school at noon, when we head back to our house for lunch—our big meal of the day—which Nahomie prepares everyday. We’ve started eating a mostly Haitian diet—which is a big change. We eat things like pitimi (a grain) with okra sauce, ble (another grain—wheat-derived) with beans and Haitian salami (DON’T ASK!), mai moulet (corn meal mush) with bean sauce. It’s taking some getting used to, but we’re making it. Nia TERRIBLY misses American food and so every Saturday it’s American food at the Mangine house. And we’ve started a tradition of bacon and pancakes every Sunday morning!
Today I thought I’d take some time to give you all an update on each member of our family individually. This might give you better ideas on how to pray for us specifically. So here goes:
Nick: From my perspective, Nick is thriving as a missionary. He’s very good at problem-solving, a quality that serves him well in this crazy setting. Lately he’s been busy as it’s been an active time for the Joy in Hope Board of Directors, (check out the Danny’s announcement explaining the changes!) but he’s doing a good job of balancing work and family—which gets confusing when your job IS your family. Sunday he had a bit of excitement (not the good kind) when he was involved in a small accident. He opened the door of the truck into the street and a motorcycle crashed into the door. The motorcycle driver fell off of his motorcycle and was scraped up a bit, but other than that, no one was hurt. We’re so thankful for God’s protection for Nick, our kids (the boys and Fritzie were in the car), and the motorcycle driver. We’re thankful for Nixon who was our voice for us, negotiating with the driver and making sure his needs were attended to. (And the car didn’t really suffer any major damage either… just a dent in the door.)
Gwenn: Things are going great for me. I love homeschooling and I love doing it outside of the house. Being an extrovert, it’s nice for me to see other people on a daily basis. By doing school at the office/team housing, I get the chance to see a lot of people pass through. I have started helping more with teams—assisting Leann with cooking on Sundays and rising early Wednesday mornings to make breakfast and give Sandra a morning off. We have a team of 18 here from Minnesota now—they are a lot of fun.
Nia: Nia has settled into school well. She’s a good student and generally pretty easy to teach. She also loves teams. She’s become very outgoing with teams and begs to spend time with them whenever they are here. It’s actually something we’re trying to figure out. We want her to spend time with visitors, but we’re also aware that she has many, many people coming in and out of her life. We want her to make healthy friendships but it’s hard doing that one week at a time. Does that make sense? Pray we can show discernment and that Nia would find a true “best friend” here in Haiti.
Nico: Little Nico is having a hard time lately. He’s not been enjoying us being out of the house in the mornings, and he’s been exhibiting a lot of “attachment” behaviors that have been difficult for our family. We’re trying to meet him where he is and adjust our lives appropriately. We’re praying that God will give him a sense of peace and come to know that we are truly his forever family. It’s definitely a process. We’re striving to slow down with him and spend good, quality time with him every day. And we recognize that all of these new experiences and people must be very, very confusing for him. Heck, things are confusing to us and we’ve not had to experience a fraction of the loss he’s had to experience.
Josiah: Josiah is two. That pretty much sums it up. He’s an extremely strong-willed child. Extremely. We love Josiah to pieces, but by the end of the day (multiple days of the week,) we are doing all that we can do to hold it together. He’s a lot of work. We’re praying that God would give us the wisdom to understand how to channel his “energy” into something amazing. We know that strong, determined kids like him end up being world-changers. Plus he’s really cute these days, and talking up a STORM, in English AND Kreyol. (Usually in the same sentence.)
Fritzie: I know this is what you’ve all been waiting for—an update on sweet Fritzie. She. Is. Fantastic. We love this girl. We are so incredibly thankful God brought HER into our family. Her specifically. She is a gift. She has a hearty joy-filled laugh and a sweet, tender spirit. She’s also very clumsy. Very. Every single day she trips or spills a drink or a plate of food, or something like that. At first we just thought she was clumsy (like me), but we now have a more definitive diagnosis—she only has vision in one eye.
Last week we brought Fritzie to the Dr. Ryan Price in Christianville to have her eyes checked. He confirmed that she has almost no sight in her left eye. She can see a little bit of light and some shadows, but when he covered her good eye, she couldn’t even see his hand right in front of her face. The good news is that in her right eye, her vision is perfect.
So, this brings up kind of a series of events we need to investigate. Ryan said that when she had cataract removal surgery earlier this summer, it led to a bunch of inflammation inside her eye, as well as some “debris” that has grown on the artificial lens they implanted. Because she went so long (nearly 15 years) without being able to see in that eye, the pathways in her brain are “set” so that it is extremely unlikely that she’d ever be able to see out of that eye, even if we were able to clear up the residual problems she has. On top of that, there is the issue of her eye being crossed. That can be repaired with a muscle tightening surgery. But even if we were able to find a way to get that done (no one in Haiti does the surgery, so we’d have to take her out of the country), it would only be cosmetic.
That being said, we do see the merit in trying to find a way to do the surgery, even if it’s only for appearances. We think that it would be incredibly useful for her self-confidence, as Haitians are generally pretty harsh about anyone who is different. They are usually pretty quick to point out differences and tease… even adults. In fact, this past weekend, we were driving to the beach and Nick was in the back of the truck with Fritzie, and people on the side of the road were pointing and shouting out (in Kreyol), “Bad eye! Bad eye! Bad eye!” Nick said it broke his heart. Please pray that we might be able to find a way to help her get corrective surgery, and please also pray that we could show Fritzie that we love her and care for her just the way she is. In the meantime, we’re going to order her some stylish glasses with protective lenses so that we can protect the vision in her good eye.
I need to wrap this up—but let me just give a quick update on Nahomie and Esther as well. (They are our staff members.) Nahomie is thriving in her role of “head nanny.” She’s learning how to shop weekly at market and plan meals. She likes having Esther around, whom we hired full-time to assist Nahomie in running our home. Like me, she likes to be in charge, so having someone “under her” works very well for her. And I think it works well for Esther too. I still teach English classes twice a week to Esther and Nahomie, but I fear that once we start taking in more kids (in December) that this is no longer going to be logistically possible. So we’re going to look into some options for local English schools around here that we can send them to. That will make me sad, because I really do like teaching the classes, but it’s a change I know is inevitable.
Thank you for your faithful support of our family and Joy in Hope. We love the life we get to live. We know it’s because of you, sacrificially giving and faithfully praying.
With grateful hearts.
Gwenn, for the Mangine Many
Nick, Gwenn, Nia, Nico + Josiah
Nahomie and Esther
Nick and Fritzie trying to harvest keneps.