That day was beautiful and terrible and heart wrenching. I cried most of the day. All of the aunts that worked in our home came in the morning. They all wanted to be there. They braided Jadyn's and Zion's hair and then I took them to our back porch which was loaded with things we were leaving behind. Clothes, sheets, towels, bins, toys, etc. I thought it would take them forever to sort through but they were amazing. They had all chosen their pile within minutes. Then they sang for us for a long time. Singing and worship were always a sweet time for us in the Grace House, and it was such a blessing to have that time with them. We all cried, but it was beautiful. So many people came by and said their goodbyes, both Haitian and International staff. It was difficult, but good to be blessed by so many people. The time came and many of the COTP staff came together and prayed with us. The most horrible part of the day was hugging the aunts and the children goodbye. We told them we loved them, we cried, and we told them we would pray for them. That drive away from COTP and the village of Lagossette was rough, to put it lightly. Some of our friends joined us for the last ride and we began looking ahead to the fun we would have with family in the coming weeks and months.
Our return to the States has been greatly blessed in many ways. We have enjoyed time with family. Grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles……what a blessing family is! We have had great times with both the Willis and Ledeboer families and it is so fun to be a part of different holidays and celebrations. We have also been blessed with sweet reunions with friends. God provided a way for us to move back to Lake City, our home for ten years before we had moved to Haiti. This has been good for us and for our children. This transition has been very difficult on all of us and living in Lake City has sweetened this difficulty.
Most people would not expect the transition back to your home country to be difficult. The books and articles I have read, though, have indicated otherwise. And our experience has now confirmed what I read. We love the time we have had the past six months. We LOVE Michigan weather. We LOVE spending time with family and friends. We LOVE America and the opportunities living here provides. We LOVE eating a variety of food and being able to get that food readily. But man, grief is hard. I was texting with a friend late one night about how I was feeling and what was going on with our children and she texted me back and said, "Those sweet babies. Those precious people. That is hard on a heart. Probably a lot like grieving…..there is no time table for that." Yes, grieving. I had read about transition and dealing with change, etc, but hadn't really thought of it as grieving. We parented those five precious children and lived with those precious ladies for over two years…..of course we were grieving. And we still are. We had the opportunity to Face Time with them all the other night. So fun to see their precious faces….to see how they have grown, to hear how their voices have changed. Our hearts were touched when they asked to see each one of us and blessed to hear the aunts' laughter. But it was hard because we still miss them so much. Hardly a day goes by that someone in this house doesn't cry about missing Haiti.
Another friend recently traveled to a third world country. She posted pictures and made comments that were familiar to me. She reminded me of the "hard" of Haiti. The constant real need for basic survival. The lack of resources. The sickness and the lack of food and health care and housing. We didn't post much about that when we were in Haiti. We wanted to focus on the positive and the work we were doing in the Grace House. But we saw it every day. And especially Dan heard stories and took requests from desperate people all the time. You would think it would be easier to live here and try to forget about that, and in some ways it is. But now we think about it from afar. We ask ourselves questions. Is so and so getting any food? Is another friend going to school? Is that house getting built for that family? Were we hearing God correctly when He told us it was time?
We believe we were. He has a plan. He has a plan for us. He has a plan for the children we left behind in Haiti. He has a plan for our many Haitian friends and also our international friends still living there. Because many of you are wondering, I will tell you that we still don't know His long term plan for us. He has been so good and has provided for us until now. Dan has had new experiences in employment and is about to experience more. We are well cared for and we are trusting that God has us waiting on Him for a reason. We don't know why, and I would be lying if I said we didn't get impatient at times, but we DO trust Him. We would LOVE your continued prayers as we wait on Him: that we would have wisdom and clarity in regards to our future.
We didn't send out Christmas cards this year. We are just focusing on enjoying our first Christmas here in a few years and anticipating time with friends and family. In a few short days we will be celebrating with a Haitian friend of ours who is getting married in Iowa. We are extremely excited!! And then I get to be home for my grandma's 90th birthday! What a blessing! And Christmas with family!
I hope this provided just a glimpse of our life since we returned from Haiti. We appreciate so many of you who have prayed for us, supported us, and simply loved us in this time of transition.