Sunday, December 29, 2013

Meet our "Aunts"

One of the things I was dreading when we moved to Haiti was sharing my home, and more specifically my kitchen, with other women.  I consider myself a fairly private person and I like my space.  I love to spend time with people and talk and laugh and get to know others, but then I like to retreat and be quiet.  I was not nearly as nervous about caring for five extra children as I was getting to know five Haitian women.  I was nervous about the language barrier, how we would do things, how we would deal with differences, and what our relationships would be like.  The first time I met the two women that were to be our main two "tants" as we call them, I really liked them, but was still very nervous.  How would this work?  What if our personalities were way too different?  What if I could never communicate with them?

Our first few weeks were rough in that we didn't know much Creole and so much of the time we couldn't even communicate with one another.  The aunts work 24 hour shifts so I started to relish the time that the two that were working would leave and the few minutes it took for the two that were coming to get here.  It was the only time I could have in my kitchen without people looking over my shoulder.  It was silly, because it was only a few minutes, but I really did love it.

One of the things I really loved in the States was to prepare healthy, good meals for my family.  I loved planning meals for the week and using different ingredients and trying new recipes.  Now I had to plan meals for fourteen people every day and try to talk with the aunts about what they liked and wanted to prepare when I didn't even know what was all available and the words for many of the foods.  This was one of my most challenging adjustments to living in Haiti.  I took two of the aunts with me to market one day and had no idea what some of the things they were buying were.  I was not used to the conditions you walk through and how you barter and the condition the meat is in.  It was stressful and I was not looking forward to the process of buying food and preparing meals every day.

I also had to figure out how to manage the household.  Who would do what chores: Bathing and feeding children, putting them to bed, washing dishes, preparing meals, cleaning, laundry, etc.  How would we do things....obviously we are all different and have been managing our own homes for years.    Their homes are very different than mine.  How would that impact the way they would work here?Now we all needed to work together and compromise.

I can honestly say after several months of working with and living along side these women we have grown to really love one another.  I look forward to seeing them each morning, and really missed them when we were in the States in October.  We laugh together often.  We laugh at the children, at each other, and can even tease one another at times.  Even though my Creole is still very basic, we can communicate most things that we need to function in the home and ask for help when we cannot.  We have cried together and supported one another when struggling.  We help one another and can tell when one of us is tired or not feeling well.  I have met several of their family members, and really love to see them together.  I don't always love the food they prepare, and I am sure they don't always love mine, but we survive together.  They clean differently than I do, but I have learned to be flexible and just be happy that things are done.  We have found a way to make things work even when we might do things differently.  We are a family that functions through the good and the bad.

Just recently Dan and I took each of the women that works in our home out for lunch.  It was such a great time of fun and great conversation.  We took our friend Toto along so he could help us translate.  We talked about their Christmas traditions and their families.  We enjoyed eating together without having to help children and talking with no interruptions.  It was fun to see them get dressed up and have a special day out.  We prayed together and laughed a lot.  We gave them each a Christmas gift and they in turn told me that they all wanted to come together to get the kitchen ready for Christmas.  They cleaned and scrubbed together and blessed us so much.

When I think about the day when we will one day leave Haiti, I know that these women will be among the top reasons that I will struggle.  Our hearts have been knit together in a way I didn't expect.  They love my family even though they see us at our worst and they have worked so hard to make this home run smoothly.  I love them and I told them the day that we took them to lunch that I didn't know I would love them as much as I do.  They in turn shared that even though the work is harder in our home than in the baby house, they love working together as a family.  Here are a couple of pictures from that day.

Tant Zazou, Tant Monia, Tant Evane, Tant Isline, Tant Lunise

Sunday, December 8, 2013

"Cold weather" pictures

Some of the other international staff assured me a while back that there would be times when it would be cold enough to wear "footie pajamas".  I was skeptical but said, "sure, bring some over".  It has been pleasantly cool in the evenings for a few weeks now.  It still is quite warm during the day, but overall quite comfortable.  Definitely the best time of year to live in Haiti.  (If you want to schedule a visit for next year, do it for this time of year!)  Anyway, I am still quite comfortable in my shorts and tshirts most evenings, and once in a while I pull my blanket on for a couple of hours in the night.  Otherwise it is great with just a sheet.

The other night, after all the Willis children had bathed and put on their shorts for bed....the boys without shirts, Dan and I were helping with baths for our Haitian kids and the aunts broke out the sleepers.  Wow.  Sleepers.  I think it had to be between 75 and 80 degrees....and after helping eight kids get their baths, I was sweating.  But I went along with it because they looked so cute!!!  And Zion Hope wanted warm pajamas so I dug a pair out for her.  I even made our aunts hot chocolate later that evening.  I took some photos because who knows how many times this will happen.....hopefully several more before it gets too hot again!  Enjoy!

 They were all trying to convince Paco to smile....Loudena and Zion are forever "mothering" all the boys, and I am pretty sure Jacob and Fritzlin were joining in for this picture.

Zeke is giving you all the "peace" sign.  
Isaiah often goes to Paco even before me in the morning.  He loves to make Paco laugh and smile.

 After worship in the evening, Dan often ends up on the floor with a child or ten on top of him.

They look pretty happy in their cozy pj's!!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Post by Jadyn Grace


I (Jadyn) have been wanting to write a blog post fo
r quite some time now, but I have been very busy and I guess it just hasn't been on the top of my list.

One   of my favorite hobbies here is doing art  and activities with the kids. Last week, one of the volunteers brought over a box of therapy activities for the kids. The box contained homemade therapy balls, puzzles, straws, and lots of other things. One of the kids' favorite things was the flubber. Fritzlin and Loudena loved it.  Jacob was not so sure of it until I started rubbing it on his fingers.........I think he liked the coolness of it.  Ezechiel probably loved it the most out of all of them. He kept squishing it between his fingers  Paco absolutely hated it and screamed every time we touched him with it. He had NOTHING to do with it!  Overall, I think it was a big hit. Thank you to all of the people who put together that box of fun! -                             


Hope of Heaven

Many of you know that we named our youngest daughter Zion Hope to remind us of the hope we have in heaven.  We know that although we were created to live life to the fullest here on earth, this is not our home.  Our home is in heaven where we will live forever in perfect peace.  We have three babies waiting for us there and countless family and friends.  The truth of our desire for heaven is becoming more and more apparent as we live in Haiti.  Not necessarily because we have encountered more death, but because of the relationships that come and go on a very regular basis.

When we lived in the States we did have to say goodbye to people from time to time.  We had moved to Lake City as a family, but were still fairly close to Grand Rapids.  The goodbyes never seemed as final as they do here.  Volunteers, adoptive families, and other people come to visit COTP on a regular basis.  Children go home to be with their forever families.  Sometimes it feels like we are bonding with people and building relationships, only to say "goodbye" much too soon.  I had been feeling it this week, and then Malachi, our seven year old, expressed it also.  "It feels like people just keep falling out of my life."  This past week alone he said goodbye to a boy that was here to volunteer with his family, one of his "favorite" baby house children who went home with her forever family, her brothers who he played with while they were here, and one of his close friends who also went home with his new forever family.  He loves people deeply, and struggles with missing friends and family back home, and then also saying goodbye to new friends.  While we realize that we will indeed see some of these people again, in reality we will not connect with many of them this side of heaven.  We meet so many people we would love to have close relationships with but we know that we will likely never live near most of them.  

We have developed close relationships with the aunts that work in our home, and they see us every day in the good and in the bad.  They probably know us better than many of you!  I still don't love having people in my home 24 hours a day, but I have grown to love these women and we have laughed and cried together despite our language barrier.  

We are also very aware that as we grow closer and closer in relationship with the children we are caring for, it will get more and more difficult to say goodbye to them.  They are precious to us and as we experience highs and lows with them, we pray that they will soon be able to experience those things with their forever families.  Please pray with us that those families will hear God's calling on them to consider adoption.  

As you pray for us we would love you to pray for our relationships to be sweet and our fellowship to be honoring to God.  We know that there will be many goodbyes, but we are so grateful for the people God places in our lives.