We decided at the beginning of our time that Dan and I would each spend at least one hour of "special time" with each of our children during the week. It didn't seem like it would be difficult with four days to do it in, but that is ten hours outside of the family time, meals, naps, and sleeping and we got it in, but just in the very last minutes of our stay! Even though we try to do some of this at home, it was really fun to do it in this environment. I played basketball, volleyball, swam, watched the sunrise, had coffee drinks or cokes, read, journaled, and hunted for crabs. I loved hearing their hearts on things and being able to just look one child in the eye and not have to worry about anyone else at that time.
When we weren't spending time with one child we were hanging out with the others, laying on the beach, swimming, taking walks, reading, and eating two meals a day that we didn't have to prepare! Dan played several games of baseball with the boys, which they all enjoyed. We also met some people and were able to talk to people from several different countries. I wanted to share some photos, and then I have a few more thoughts to share!
I wanted to share a few things that made me think about our time here in Haiti while we were on vacation.
First, on our first dinner there at least two of the children commented that they miss having dinner like that as a family. We all eat "together" much of the time at the Grace House but as I am sure you can imagine, with ten children and six of them being toddlers, there isn't a lot of conversation being had around our table. It usually entails a few "don't do thats" and "eat your food" and crying and spilling and requests for more and refusals to eat. Not real conducive to a family chat. I am glad that they miss it, because Dan and I do also. We have resolved to attempt to have a family dinner more often and really sit and chat with each other.
The second thing I have thought about happened at dinner, also. One of the children commented on how they missed one of our Haitian kids, and it was only the second day we were gone. They all began to talk about all of the children and tell funny stories about them and guess as to what they were doing at that time. Sometimes I get stressed about how many kids are in this house and that I don't spend enough time with any of them. I think about what my kids might be missing out on because we don't do as many things with them as we would like to. Never once have any of our children complained about us having to deal with so many needs with our Haitian kids. They have never said that it would be easier without them. I attribute that entirely to God's grace. They have parents who get stressed and overwhelmed, yet they have never blamed that on the other kids in the house. They love them and spend time with them and miss them when we are away from them. I know that it will be very difficult to say goodbye to each of these precious children, but I am so glad that ours have had the opportunity to love and care for them.
Now that I think about it, every one of the things I have been thinking about began with our eating together. Jadyn commented that she felt a little awkward eating so much during dinner when she didn't know if the Haitian people serving it to us had anything to eat in their homes. I had just been thinking the same thing. It has led me to so many thoughts about our place in this country and how we help and how we cause others to want, and what God wants us to do about that. I don't want to feel guilty when I enjoy good food, and I do not think we should. I also do not want to take it for granted and I want to share and give when appropriate. We struggle every day with this issue and people ask us for help for things that are worthy at least once per week. How do we help? What is helpful? What help hinders? How do we offend when we don't understand the culture? What about the women that work in our home? What about our friends that live outside our gates? What do they REALLY think of us? I ultimately believe that it only matters what God thinks and what He wants us to do, but Dan and I have wrestled with that over and over and haven't come up with an answer that fits each situation, yet. I have a feeling we never will during our time on earth. Right now I am grateful that my daughter noticed this and thinks about it. I don't have any pat answers to give her, but I am grateful for her exposure to these people and that she will begin to wrestle with this, also.
This is what we do know. We are in Haiti because God called us here. He made it clear that we should come. Our responsibilities lie with our children and the Haitian children placed in our care. Deuteronomy 6: 4-7. "Hear, O Israel:The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." We are also responsible to live out the gospel every day. Display the fruit of the Spirit, talk about what Jesus did for us to those we meet, pray with and for our Haitian friends and for this country and our native land, also. Micah 6:8 "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God."