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

1 comment:

  1. what a precious post, holly! and you look simple stunning, btw!