Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Random bullet point post.

  • I have a new hobby-- making paper beads. It's slow deliberate work but I find it to be kind of calming. I will never be as good as the artisans at The Apparent Project.  For realz.  If you want something lovely, go here.   In my head I have all of these day dreams that I will make all my Christmas presents for people this year.  But then I remember that I will never happen, and so I encourage my friends to all buy yourself something lovely HERE.  Even so-- here's some pics of my attempts.  Don't you love how a kalabas candle cover I have has become my drying rack?  It was like it was MADE for this.  Of course my father in law saw it and said, "What is that-- a Sputnik or something?"  I laughed like I knew what he meant and then googled it later.

  • I have been thinking a lot lately about our vision/purpose/mission.  You know... that kind of "Oh. MY. Gosh.  What the heck am I doing with my life?" kind of thinking.  I am at this place where I am really, REALLY wanting to take life to the next level in terms of love/sacrifice/service, but I am having a really, REALLY hard time dying to myself.  Has caused a lot of inner conflict as it turns out my flesh is a rotting, stinking corpse that wants to infect me.  That might sound dramatic. I assure you, it actually is quite dramatic.  I am learning that there is equal poverty in abundance and comfort as there is in material lack, and that kind of poverty is equally-- or possibly even more-- enslaving, due to its self-imposed nature.
  • While we're on the topic of abundance...  Remember when I posted that picture of the new rainwasher and propane dryer?  Nick totally bought them for me.  I have wanted a washer/dryer for a long time.  That wish was magnified greatly by the Great Staph Outbreak of 2011 (Go back and read the posts from mid-August 2011 if you're new around here and/or into gross things.)   Then a couple of weeks ago a local mission donated a washer/dryer to us. I was so happy I almost cried.  Except that we didn't have the water pressure or sufficient electricity to work either of them.  Then I really did cry. I *might* have had a tantrum too.  But whatever.  Schneider has had scabies for like a month now.  I freaking need a washing machine (actually, a dryer) to kill those little buggers.  Now I have one.  But just for the record-- the washer and dryer will only be used by me or Nick.  It's out on our back balcony.  If we have a widespread infestation of something I will use it for orphanage clothes/linens-- but, quite frankly, me and my little MSC washer/dryer aren't up to doing the laundry for 18 people and Francette (the orphanage wash lady who has worked for us for almost 3 years) still needs a job and well, my kids don't really care about the Tide/Downy smell on their clothes. PS- If you're a mission in the area with good power and water pressure and you want a washer and dryer, let me know.
  • After several recommendations, I am reading the book Toxic Charity.  Anyone who has an interest in missions/social justice/charity NEEDS to read this book.  It puts to words a lot of the things we've been wading through. I feel like I have highlighted every other sentence.  Oh yeah, that's because I did.  More on this later when I can find a way to say the things I want to say with the grace and kindness that I need to use when discussing some of these really tough issues.
  • Related to the above 3 bullet points... Reading the book sparked something in my brain-- a quote my friend Tim had written about in this blog post over a year ago “Jesus’ whole life and mission involve accepting powerlessness and revealing in this powerlessness the limitlessness of God’s love.  Here we see what compassion means.  It is not bending toward the underprivileged from a privileged position; it is not a reaching out from on high to those who are less fortunate below; it is not a gesture of sympathy or pity for those who fail to make it in the upward pull.  On the contrary, compassion means going directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there.” (Henri Nouwen.) Pretty good quote, huh?  Poverty/abundance/charity/washing machine/dryer aside... this is pretty much what I want to do with my life if I can ever get my mess together.
  • I've talked from time to time about Church on the Beach.  It's this really, really cool ministry started by our friends Ken and Diane for missionaries/ex-pats in the area.  It's really nothing more than a house church... a simple service where English-speaking people get together and talk and worship and pray.  Where we share burdens, where we share joys.  It's something that has brought SO much health into our lives.  This worried us, however, as Ken and Diane's time in Haiti ended recently.  We were so worried about this need for community with people who understand our home culture and how that need would be filled with them gone.  But once again, God reminded me that his church isn't about a particular building or a particular leader, but rather about his people.  We needed a location and we wanted to keep it on the beach (because it's called "Church on the Beach" and all).  The first week we tried doing it at the Raymond public beach.  It was not really a finished product due to numerous distractions.  But then this past week we had it out on the Joy in Hope land in Raymond.  A brand new location and 38 people showed up!  Please pray for Church on the Beach to be a blessing to our ex-pat community.  We never want to take the place of Haitian church (which is why we don't meet Sunday mornings like a traditional church), because we know that (for so many of us), empowering local churches are a huge part of the reason we are here.  But we also know that worshiping in our native language is a huge need/blessing.  We're thankful that years ago God blessed JiH with the resource of this location. We're hoping to build a small, natural-material shelter so that we can meet each week regardless of rain. (PS-- I am pretty proud of the signs I made.)


  •   Nick and I took some of our kids to a Haitian birthday party the other day for Paskelita (I honestly have no idea how to spell her name-- all my kids call her Kakou.)  Kakou is the daughter of one of my friend Megan's employees.  Ok.  So, cultural hilarity ensued for me when, at the party, they had me open the bottle of champagne OVER HER HEAD.  (She was turning 5 years old.)  She was absolutely terrified at the sound of the popping cork.  Nothing like driving fear into the heart of a child for her fifth birthday present.  Happy Birthday Kakou.  Hope you like being scared out of your mind. ;)  But please don't think I am judging other cultures for what they do/do not do to their 5 year old kids because I am sort of addicted to Toddlers & Tiaras (in a sick "I can't stop watching" kind of way) that streams free with our Amazon Prime membership.  You want to talk about terrifying things done to small children... YIKES. (PS- Her dad bought Kakou the champagne... not me.  Just thought I'd clarify that. I will also clarify that I did not let any of my children drink the champagne.  Call me ethnocentric if you'd like but cultural appreciation/participation ended there with me.  My kids are crazy enough sober.  Can you IMAGINE Josiah, Nico, and Jerry "with a little color?" ;)  It makes me tired just thinking about it.)

  • Alright, so, I think that's it for now.  More if I think of anything else to say later.  TTFN.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Post Ambien musings.

Nick Mangine would NOT approve of me blogging right now. Years ago he made a pretty solid rule that I am not to blog (or otherwise communicate) after taking Ambien. Wise choice.

However, I am breaking the rule just a bit right now because it's been several hours since I've taken the med and my "sleepy time" is now over. Yes, at 1:57PM. It actually was at 11:42PM but I've been busy painting for the past two hours. Not a whole lot of bang for the buck with me and Ambien... BUT I DIGRESS...

It has been a rough week. Well- maybe longer than a week.

I am not going to go into all the drama that brought me to this conclusion but I have a statement to make that I think might be true. Missionaries are a transient bunch. Now, sure, most foreign NGO workers are pretty transient. But there's a whole other group of dynamics when it comes to missionaries (ie-- a sense of a call, following in faith or obedience, etc.). I would say that a majority of the time these kinds of comings and goings are a normal and natural part of the line of work. (There are other times that it isn't normal or natural or healthy... but that's not for tonight's discussion.)

I guess what I want to say is this-- it's lonely out here on the mission field. Tonight I am grieving the loss of several friends and co-laborers who have moved on. Sandra, Nixon, Tim, Ruth, Tammi, Jeff, Kyle, Maria, Cody, Laura, Ken, Diane... and those are just some of the longer term ones-- throw medium and short term missionaries in there and I'd be writing all night. (Which perhaps I should consider because it's not like I sleep or anything.) And the kids... oh my sweet children's friends...
But even through my tears, I want to thank you all (and I am sure there are some I am missing... that part I'll blame on the Ambien) for allowing yourselves to be used by God in the way that he wanted for that season. Thanks for being part of our lives. And for Pete's Sake-- COME BACK HOME TO US!!! WE MISS YOU!!! Booo hooo hooo... (I almost held it together there.)

How I long for heaven where we will all be face to face again! (Alternatively, you could just skip the wait for heaven and come for a visit.... hint hint. Just a thought.)

Those of you who are the praying folk-- please pray for authentic community amongst missionaries-- we're starving for it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wait, I have a blog? Oh yeah.

So yeah. It's been an eventful few weeks. Lots of drama I would have blogged about it but I started off the past few weeks with really intermittent power going to my computer (due to a faulty mag port in the computer and due also to a generator that blew up on us.) The past 10 days, however, I have a much better excuse-- I didn't have a computer because our car got broken into (like literally broken into-- they broke the window) and our laptops were stolen out of the car. The person that ended up with my computer is going to be sorely disappointed because (due to the faulty mag port) my computer can't be charged. And there is no Genius Bar anywhere around here (like ZERO in the country of Haiti) that can work in it either. The fact that someone stole a broken computer from us made Nico positively cackle with delight as he blurt out, "Oh yeah. We joked the robbers good!"

So-- here's a quick photo recap of some of the events of the past few weeks... in totally, completely random order---

I got to visit my Viv-girl in Port this week. She is the person who made me a mother the second time... My social worker turned bff. LOVE her. LOVE her.

I turned 35 on April 2nd. I asked Nick to make me a pinata for my birthday. Here is is putting on the final layers. He's pretty much the coolest guy ever.

This kid just gets dimplier and cuter and chubbier every single day. He must take after his Mom in that respect-- cuter and chubbier every single day for the Gwennster too.

We had 25 Maya Nut trees donated. Jean Louis and Yves worked together to get them planted on the JiH property in Raymond. (Well, Jean Louis worked. Yves tried doing kungfu moves with a machete in his hand... Par for the course.)

We went to a church service where our friend Sam Felix was preaching. I got to hold sweet baby Karlens (Edwinson's little brother) during the service. Pretty dang cute.

Speaking of cute babies--Lenise, one of our live-in nannies, had a baby girl last week. She's lovely and perfect and we are so glad that Lenise will be able to raise her with her mother and sister (who are also live-in nannies.)

This is the burning of the umbilical cord. The clinic that Lenise visited burns cords instead of cutting them. It's a sterile practice and a good lesson for women in poverty to observe, as they would easily have all that is necessary to sever the cord their home in a sanitary manner. Some people claim that it's a gentler, slower, deliberate process that keeps the atmosphere mellow. I don't know about all of that... but it does kind of smell like cooking meat at a couple of times during the procedure.

The Mighty Mazda has seen better days. This was the break in up in Petionville last week. I am angry at the person who did this but thankful that God has ALREADY provided for our needs.

St. Cyr makes a great cup of joe... Seriously. Who would've thunk it?

First ever Haiti Ultra Marathon Team all together at the finish line a couple of weeks ago. Unbelievably difficult route. Amazing group of athletes.

Schneider got to snug his grandma last for the first time! We're happy to have Bev and Ken visiting for a couple of weeks.

Josiah at the dentist. Look at that office! I want to move to Petionville.

Dirtbike practice at the motocross park by our house

Fierce competition in the 110 Mototaxi division... looks like a photo finish!

Sunday is American food day. This week it was french bread pizza!

This is my new obsession. I really want this rainwasher washing machine and propane dryer. MSC makes me feel discontent with my life.

That's it for now.

Ta ta.