Saturday, July 21, 2012

Kreyol Konfusion.

Two funny language stories.  Well, one is not really funny, it's more embarassing.

Two days ago we were shopping for presents in the market for Manita's birthday.  I picked out a film starring Mary Kate and Ashley Oleson from when they were little girls.  Sanndy and Nia were with me and they asked what movie I bought.

What I MEANT to say was, "M te achte film marasa."  (I bought a movie with twins.)

What I ACTUALLY said was, "M te achte film masisi." (I bought a homosexual film.)

I don't know why, but I CONSTANTLY confuse those two words.

Sanndy and Nia just looked at me through slanted eyes wondering what the heck I was talking about.  Or they might have just been giving me their general, "I-am-SO-embarrassed-by everything-you-say-these-days-look" because well, when you're 9 (or 11) and your mom is ME, that's apparently the thing to do.  I feel like I am taking the perpetual embarrassment of my children well though, in fact, I strive to even be better at it.  It's like my new favorite thing.

Second story takes place the next day in the privacy of our own home, where I am less embarrassing to my children.  It was Manita's birthday, and we were putting pony beads and snaps on her long Toddlers & Tiaras fake hair.

Several of the middle girls were helping-- Prisca, Nia, Sanndy mostly, though I helped for a while too.  Rather than do them just random (since we had lots of different colors to grace her 84 mini braids), they were doing patterns with colors.  Some were pink and white.  Some were blue and green.  Yellow and orange.  And then, the next thing I hear (in the gaggle of laughing, chattering, beading girls) was something about an angry/evil white person.  (Move blan.)

I was all like, "Guys don't talk that way.  There are nicer ways to describe people..." Etc.  The girls looked at me like I was crazy.  And so I said, "Who were you talking about?"  And they were still stumped.  Finally I said, "I heard you talking about a move blan. Who are you talking about?"  And as I was saying the words, I started laughing out loud because I realized what was happening.  They weren't talking about an angry white person, they were talking about a pattern of purple and white, or, in Kreyol, "Mov e blan."

We got a lot of laughs about the pun we'd inadvertently made (Haitians LOVE puns.)  The situation was made even funnier to us because I was wearing a purple skirt and a white shirt.  So I kept saying that I was a, "Move blan ki mete mov e blan."  (An angry white girl who is wearing purple and white.)

We even took a picture for the occasion, with me putting on my best move blan face.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

N'ap boule. (Haitian culture question)

A common Haitian greeting is, "Sak pase?" (What's happening?)

The common response to that phrase is, "N'ap boule."  Translated literally, n'ap boule means, "I am burning."  Actually because of the nou pronoun, it is more like, "We're burning" or it could even mean "You're burning."  (Kreyol pronouns are sometimes non-specific.)

Now, I have heard different supposed origins of that phrase.  I have no idea if any of them are really true or what is believed by the majority...  But here's what I've heard:
  •  One friend here told me that this expression is a reference to life being difficult in Haiti.  As if to say, "I am alive, but I am suffering."  This friend also told me that non-Haitians really shouldn't use the phrase because it addresses an everyday struggle that foreigners really don't understand.  (This is the explanation of the term that's always sort of made sense to me.)  Life is hard for Haitians.
  • However, another friend told me that it's not really a negative commentary on life but rather comes from Rasta culture and basically if they are "burning" (ie-- have weed to smoke), that's a good thing.  As in, "I have weed so it's all good."  
  • Finally, the most commonly mentioned thing on the internet is that n'ap boule just means "I'm okay" and the reference to burning just means that it is (to quote one website) "hot as hell in Haiti." (And while I am quite positive that Haiti is not literally as hot as hell, it is pretty hot here.) ;)
Anyhow, I generally don't use the term because I don't think I really understand the cultural implication of the term and so I'd just rather say something different.  But every time I am driving home from Port Au Prince to Jacmel (which has been often lately), I drive through this one section of town right outside of Carrefour labeled "Village Alpha."  This section of land is used as a trash dump.  The piles of trash are generally burning, so there is almost always a pungent-smelling smoke that you drive through.  Often I will see a young child, a granmoun (old person), or a moun fou (crazy person) digging through these smoking piles of trash.
And every SINGLE time I drive through this area, I imagine this scenario where I ask someone in this dump, "Sak pase?" And every time (in my head, of course, since that's where this imaginary scenario occurs) the response is, "N'ap boule."  (We're burning.)   Because it seems the only fitting response.

So this post is really all about asking a question to those who know/understand Haitian culture better than me-- N'ap boule.  Where does it come from?  What does it reference?  Is it appropriate for everyone to use or just Haitians? 


Love Divine, Chuch Norris

We've all heard of the amazing facts and feats accomplished by Chuck Norris, such as:
  • When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone he had three missed calls from Chuck Norris. 
  • Crop circles are Chuck Norris' way of telling the world that sometimes corn needs to lie down.
  • Chuck Norris counted to infinity-- twice.
  •  Chuck Norris drinks napalm to quell his heartburn.
  • Chuck Norris got a perfect score on his SAT's, simply by writing Chuck Norris for every answer.
These facts, and many others, can be easily found on the internet.  What you won't find on this internet, (until now,) is that Chuck Norris actually has a lesser-known Haitian brother named Chuch.  True story.



Thursday, July 12, 2012

"clicks forward": Update on Yves

Our pastor, Jonathan, talks about progress in terms of "clicks forward."  That is a helpful for me.  Progress can sometimes be measured on graphs and charts, but sometimes it can't.  Sometimes it's better observed on a more micro-scale... seeing the tiny clicks forward that could (eventually) drive the gears of progress.
With that thought mind, I want to give you and update on our son, Yves.

 If you've been following along for a while, you know a lot of his background story, but if not, here's a quick catch up.

Yves came to us at (about) the age of 12.  He is a true orphan, meaning that both his mother and father are dead.  This happened when he was about 8, and the rest of the time he lived in and out of the homes of relatives and on and off the streets.  He was brought to us by Unicef/Save the Children after the earthquake when he was discovered living in a tent city-- he's been with us about 2.5 years now.  This picture of him was taken in March of 2010.  Look how little he was then!  (Now he literally wears the same size clothes as Nick and his feet are even bigger than Nick's feet!)

To say that we've had struggles with Yves is like the understatement of the universe.  There is so much pain bound up inside his heart.  This pain manifests itself in troubling ways. I am not going to get into it all, but read up on Reactive Attachment Disorder if you want more details.

We got to a point with Yves where, for his safety and the safety of the other 11 kids in the house, we had to come up with alternate arrangements for living space.  It became clear that he couldn't safely inhabit the space in our home the way our other children could.  The same thing happened at his school.  We were approached by the leadership of his school and informed of several behavioral issues that made them unable to keep Yves as a student.

We talked to friends in the states-- counselors, psychiatrists, child psychologists.  We found a Haitian psychologist to work with Yves (as well as the rest of the kids), to help them process loss/attachment.  These professionals all agreed that a change of living space for Yves was necessary.  This was kind of a nightmare process for us.  We loved Yves (we still do) and we felt like there were no options.  Social services was sympathetic but ill-equipped to handle situations like Yves' and so we had to really think outside of the box.  There was no place for Yves to go for help and it became clear that we'd have to find a solution on our own.

Late last year/earlier this year, we built a small house out on the land in Raymond.  The purpose of the house was two-fold.  First, to establish an office for Joy in Hope, but secondly (and really the driving factor) was to have a place to house Yves.  Yves sleeps out in the house at night (with staff, of course), and during the day he spends time at the house with the rest of our family.  He has a staff member with him 24/7.  (We call them his "shadows.")  These shadows are there to help him remember boundaries and help with issues of impulse control.

It took a while to get into the swing of things.  There's a lot of driving back and forth.  Somethings have worked well right away, others have been harder won.  We had to fire a couple of shadows.  The other ones have all wanted to quit at various times.  But (knock on wood), we seem to be getting into a groove.

Something is changing in Yves. There is a softening of his heart that has happened/is happening that can only be attributed to the love of a merciful God. 

 I am not claiming that overnight things have changed and that it's all good.  Unfortunately, that's not the case.  Yves has deep issues that will likely follow him for the rest of his life on this earth.  But we're seeing clicks forward.  We're seeing him thinking through his decisions at times. (Click.)  We're seeing him make obedient decisions more often. (Click.)  We're seeing him taking responsibility for himself and his actions.  (Click.)  We're seeing him mature emotionally and spiritually. (Click, click.)  We're seeing him accept the extra help he needs.  (Click.)  We're seeing him accept correction without argument. (Click.)  And VERY occasionally, we're seeing an empathetic spirit trying to work it's way through his hard, often mean-to-others, facade. (CLICK!)

A few weeks ago he started an internship with a local wood-worker.  Three mornings a week, Yves joins Bos Claude and learns how to make furniture.  With his tools in hand Yves looks like a little boss himself.  Yves LIKES this work.  He smiles a lot.  He feels important and he's learning valuable skills.  We're thinking that if things keep going well, by the fall we *may* be able to send him to his internship without staff there to shadow.  (Click.)

Thanks for the way that you support our family so that we can support Yves.  We are all in.  We love him. We're learning so much about ourselves and how God loves us through this process.  (Click, for us.) We don't always react with the grace we should, but we're committed to loving Yves, even if he never really understands what that means.  (Another click for us.)

Stay tuned.  In the next few weeks we will be discussing open opportunities for helping us love and support Yves in the ways he needs to be loved...

Furlough Schedule: We'd LOVE to see you!

In two weeks we're leaving for the states for a 3-week furlough to visit with our family, friends, and supporters on the East coast.  We will be in central NC, in Central NY, and on the Outer Banks of NC (with a brief stop to visit family in PA.)

We'll be talking about our kids-- specifically, the progress we're seeing in our children's attachment.  We'll also discuss the unexpected blessings/provision we've seen as a result of our home invasion/robbery last fall, building a church on the beach of the Joy in Hope property, our work sponsorship program as well as ideas on true community, toxic charity, and much more.  We are at a really exciting crossroads as we're hoping to start building our new, permanent home on the land in Raymond this fall!   So many things are happening and we want to tell you about all of them!  The other day Nick said to me, "Despite the day to day struggles, I really feel like someday we will look back on these days as some of the best times of our life."  I agree with him.

We'd love to say thank you (in person) to as many of you as we can, and we'd love to share our lives with others who may want to partner with us in the future.

Here are some places we will be.  We hope you can join us!
  • Hamilton NY:  Randallsville New Life Church
    • Sunday morning, July 29.  10:00AM 
    • Speaking during the service, have a booth set up in the lobby with more info.
  •  Chittenango, NY: CrossRoads Community Church (Youth and Community Life Center)
    •  Sunday afternoon, July 29, 2012 
    •  3-6PM
    • This will be a meet and greet event with about an hour-long presentation and lots of time for questions. (Snacks and drinks provided.)
    • Boutique of Haitian Products (Beautiful handcrafted Haitian metalwork, photography, and art, coffee, vanilla, handmade leather sandals, jewelry (beaded, paperbeaded, and seaglass,) carved wood and stonework-- and more.  Price points from $1-$100.)
  • Manteo, NC;  FIRST FRIDAY (in front of the Boathouse)
    • Friday evening, August 3
    • 6-8PM
    • Boutique of Haitian Products (Beautiful handcrafted Haitian metalwork, photography, and art, coffee, vanilla, handmade leather sandals, jewelry (beaded, paperbeaded, and seaglass,) carved wood and stonework-- and more.  Price points from $1-$100.)
    • Additional vendors/services will be there working for donations to Joy in Hope as well.
  •  Manteo, NC, Farmers' Market
    • Saturday morning, August 4
    •  8am-12noon
    • Boutique of Haitian Products (Beautiful handcrafted Haitian metalwork, photography, and art, coffee, vanilla, handmade leather sandals, jewelry (beaded, paperbeaded, and seaglass,) carved wood and stonework-- and more.  Price points from $1-$100.)
  • Manteo, NC, SOURCE Church
    • Sunday morning, August 5
    • Speaking/(Nick is preaching as well) at BOTH morning services 9AM & 11AM
    • We will have a booth with more info as well a boutique of Haitian Products (beautiful handcrafted Haitian metalwork, photography, and art, coffee, vanilla, handmade leather sandals, jewelry (beaded, paperbeaded, and seaglass,) carved wood and stonework-- and more.  Price points from $1-$75.
  • Apex, NC: Qdoba (Beaver Creek)
    • Thursday, August 9
    • 4-9PM
    • Bring your family/friends out to eat at Qdoba and Joy in Hope will get 20% of all the proceeds between 4-9PM!
  • Fuquay Varina, NC (Click here to see more information!)
    • Saturday, August 11
    • 7-11PM
    • Story night (hear about some of the latest things happening in Jacmel!)
    • Silent auction for beautiful handcrafted art items.  (Some Haitian artisans, some local artisans.)
    • Food and drink served, but RSVP is necessary!
  • Cary, NC: Crosspointe Church
    • Sunday morning, August 12
    • 9:00am, 10:30am, 12:00 noon
    • Interview at all 3 services-- 9:00am, 10:30am, 12:00 noon
NOTE:  When our furlough is finished, the remaining Boutique items will be available for sale online.

UPDATED TO ADD:  Joy in Hope now has the ability to accept credit/debit cards for donations/boutique items at events!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Early July Update and Iphone POW (Pics of week)

 It's been a week (or a month?) or high highs and low lows here in Haiti.  Come to think of it, our past 3 years, 2 months and 12 days (but who's counting?) could be described in that same way.

I don't blog as often or as intentionally as I would like to because it just seems like it takes a lot of time.  I often update my facebook and that's generally the best place to get pics and up-to-the-minute updates.  But, since I think of blogging as my kids' baby book, here's a few pics from the last week or so that were on my iPhone. 

A really great part of our week was last weekend when David and Ginny got married out at the land in Raymond.  They are a wonderful couple that we've known for a long time.  We're so happy to walk alongside of them during this really great phase of their life.

Craig, Travis, and Sarah (and others who came and went) spent a lot of time with us last weekend after the wedding (and the two next days.)  Sitting around playing guitars and board games, making meals together  and just doing life made me feel like we were a big family.  Guess that's the point of the church, isn't it?

Those of you who've known me for a while know about my love affair with food from Mdm. BBQ.  This is her specialty-- barbecued (her own BBQ recipe) chicken with fries, plantains, pikliz, and salad (her own dressing recipe.)  This giant plate of goodness costs less than $4.

There are always vehicle issues in Haiti (especially when you have 12 kids.)  This 3 wheel moto I bought about a year ago or so (thinking it was going to be just a good moto for me to scoot around in), has become an invaluable orphanage vehicle.  Never has a 150cc moto had to work as hard as we make it work. ;)

Nia had a birthday this past week.  She's newly 9.  And she's awesome.  Like SO awesome.

Our friend Lia passed away very suddenly about 10 days ago.  Last week was filled with the wake/funeral/processional/burial.  It was incredibly, incredibly sad.  This is her kids (she had 12 of them like us) holding the banner at the beginning of the funeral procession.

This was near the end of the funeral procession as it arrived at her land, where she was buried.

We were also a part of a much smaller funeral this week for a family who lives in Bwa Vital.  A few weeks ago a mother there died during childbirth, leaving behind 3 children, one of whom was newly born, a boy named Claude.  Three weeks later, Claude died as well.  My friend Sarah blogs about it here.  Claude was buried on the Joy in Hope land, in an area where 3 other babies have been buried in the last two years who also haven't made it.  The maddening thing is that in almost all these cases, the death was preventable.  My friend, Dr. Ken Pierce, calls these tragic situations, "Death by Haiti."

Yesterday was a busy day from the time I got up until the time I went to bed.  I woke up and immediately starting working on the 5 pans of ziti I needed to make for my familiy (and for the Church on the Beach potluck.)

 The potluck was before church.  Then we had church.  Then a special dance performance by Gayly and some of his friends and then a bonfire singalong (with bottle rockets).  It was a LONG day.  My kids had a great time.  Except for Wildarne who didn't want to go and Yves who got punished and had to leave. *sigh*

We're busier than ever this week.  Lots of planning to do for all our furlough stops.  Then some more visitors coming in-- including a really good friend from high school that I haven't seen since high school.  We're hoping for a more boring week this week.  Cross your fingers for us...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How hot is it in Haiti?

It's so hot this dude thought he'd pedal around with a car door so he could open the window and catch some breeze.

On a Moto Episode 16: 4X8 fiberboard

It started out as a 4'X8' sheet of fiberboard.  By the time it got there it was 4'X7.5'...

American food Sundays

 Making 4 pans of ziti for tomorrow.
Haven't made baked ziti in Haiti yet.  When I went to buy the ingredients, I remembered why.

Here's a breakdown of the cost:

Sauce- $12.50
Ziti- $10.00
Mozzarella cheese-  $32.00
Ricotta cheese  (This is only for 3, 15 oz containers since I am halfing the amount I really need because of the price, so it would really be double this)- $22.50
Olive oil- $12.75
Parmesan Cheese - $13.00
Then there's random stuff too, like garlic/onions/spices, but I have all that here, so not going to include it in the total.

Grand total: $102.75, or about $25.00 per pan.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

On a Moto Episode 15: A Saddlebag of Goats.

Nick passed this guy.  (At least) five LIVE goats tied to the moto or in the hand-woven-made-for-donkeys saddle bags.  And the dude is on crutches.  How the heck did he achieve this?!?