Saturday, March 31, 2007
Beth dropped us off, we quickly learned we were at the wrong airport and needed to be at the main PAP airport. I chased her down and we loaded everything back into her truck.
At the main airport we learned about an exit tax (X 7 people) that we did not know about. That put a serious dent in our cash flow for the week, Troy forgot where he was for a second and attempted to argue that when he booked the flights, he was never informed of this expense – therefore he could not be expected to just fork over the cash.
HA. Silly Troy. We all took three giant steps away from the counter to separate ourselves from the argument between Caribtair employees who don’t give a darn what Troy says and Troy, the eternal optimist. I kept saying “Troy, we’re still in Haiti.” Finally, Troy gave in, paid the exit tax and we headed to the gate for a long wait.
The flight had 12 people on it. That is 7 of us and 5 other lucky souls. It was to leave at 4:30. It left at 7:30 instead. The daytime flight in a scary little plane became a night-time flight in a scary little plane. Here are the kids right before we took off.
I have been in a tiny plane before, but it was a breeze. Maybe because I was 12 years old and did not know any better, maybe because that pilot seemed confident and sure. The pilot we had to get to the D.R. lacked confidence. Big time. He sat staring at a map for a REALLY long time. Once in the air the conversations between him and the air traffic control people were FAR from reassuring. I don’t know if they recognize that we hear it all or if they just don’t care. The air traffic control guy asked how many people the pilot was transporting, he said “twelve.” The response was “What?!?! iye iye iye, why do they put so many on those planes, they should not do that.”
Then the guy asked the pilot if he had radar. Nope. No radar. Not working on that particular plane. Then the guy asked the pilot why he was taking the route he was taking, that it was not the best way to go. Then we went through a nasty patch of rain. Buzzers kept going off in the cockpit. The airplane leaked so you could feel water coming through the windshield. I was certain we would die at that point. I prayed for our lives. We got through the storm and we all calmed back down. Until the next storm, the whole scene replayed itself.
Once we were safely in Santiago, I asked Troy and the girls if they thought we might die. Troy admitted to wondering if this was how it would all end. Paige said she was pretty scared, and Britt claims she thought it was “cool” --- I cannot confirm that she really thought that in the thick of the storm, we were all too afraid to talk. I never did an undie-check to see who was really afraid and who was calm.
My favorite part, I had been praying and totally afraid. We were about 2/3 through the first storm. Isaac was sitting with me. He said “WE MADE IT!!!” I said, “Isaac, we’re in the middle of a storm, we made it where?” His reply, “We made it far away from Port au Prince!” It is always nice to have an optimist next to you in the middle of a storm. :) I love that boy!
The flight took 1 hour and 50 minutes. It should have taken an hour. Troy was tracking it on his GPS and says we flew straight East almost all the way to Santo Domingo, then turned north. Instead of cutting across the country we made a big square.
We slept in Santiago Friday night. Saturday as we waited for our bus to take us to Puerto Plata we realized that somewhere in the last year of staying put on the mission compound, we forgot what it was like to travel with five kids. We laughed at how dumb we are to think we can just jet around with five kids the same way we did when we had only Britt and Paige. Troy said "we're so dumb," at that moment Noah pushed Isaac who fell backward into Hope who fell into a lady in line behind us. They all started bawling. I joined them.
After the bus ride we took a mini van taxi cab to the resort. The minute we arrived and checked in, Troy went from totally stressed out guy to party guy and things were wonderful from there on out. Apparently trying to figure out how to get this crew across an unknown foreign land, using five different modes of transportation when he does not speak Spanish was stressing him out a bit. He admitted to having some serious doubts about whether or not we would ever actually get to the resort.
The resort was beautiful, our two room apartment condo was a perfect set-up. The swimming pools were great. We enjoyed more hours of sleep in one week than we can ever recall. We could all get used to that kind of leisurely life. :) No one knocked on our door at 5am or 9pm, no one needed anything from us. The electricity and water appeared without any work on our part, there was even air conditioning. It was a wonderful, relaxing and restful break.
Paige cried when we left Haiti and did not want to go on vacation so soon after being in Minnesota, she also counted down the days until she would be back in Haiti … which annoyed all of us, but we recognized a while back that she is the true missionary of our group. She is an adorable weirdo that we love, even if we don’t totally understand her. She popped out of bed at 5:15 this morning excited to go home and "see her peeps."
The resort was mainly occupied by British people, making for some great people watching. We were amazed at how curious our family was to so many. At least six people just flat out asked “Why are they black?” Adoption is not so well known in the D.R. and England I guess. The maid did not seem to believe that both Jack-Jack and Hope could be ours, she asked both Troy and I separately on two different days. She must have thought we were lying.
We had fun shopping at little touristy shops. Our favorite part was finding Haitian people to talk to. It was fun to watch them do a double take when we greeted them in Creole. Our favorite guy just kept calling us liars, incredulous and unbelieving that we live in his country. It was cute. Paige chatted up a Haitian boy at Burger King (that's right -- they have fast food in the D.R.) and got his life story. It is amazing how many people have split their family up in order to get someone to the D.R. for work. The little boy told Paige he really misses his Mom but needs to live with his aunt.
Lastly, guess what our favorite taxi / tour driver was named? Eddy. Steady Eddy. The law of Eddy follows us three countries. Our MN Eddy, our Haiti Eddy and now a DR Eddy. In true Eddy fashion, he worked us hard for huge tips and answered questions with made-up answers.
On the last day we switched to all-inclusive, the kids made full use of the free food and drink and all had 17 "Banana Mama's" a fruity ice drink. It was fun to eat non stop all day, but Troy had high expectations of us all and most of us have stomach sizes that do not allow for the kind of eating he had in mind. The rest of the week we used our kitchen for breakfast and lunch and had dinner at different places each night. Britt got to have a date night and so did Paige.
This morning, the ride to Santiago made most of us sick. The van driver was .... aggressive and manic. The road was winding and climbing and bumpy. Isaac actually threw up on himself and Britt. I was impressed with how Britt handled it. Then about ten minutes later I needed to ask the guy to pull over so I could get out and try to walk off the nausea ... it sort of worked and I managed to keep it to dry heaves with just a few spectators on the side of the road.
Once to the airport, we repeated our mistake and got dropped off at the wrong place. Britt and Ike changed clothes in the parking lot and we were good to go. The flight home was beautiful. Same little plane only it was our family and one other guy. The pilot seemed sure of himself. The mountains stick up above the clouds in some places and the flight was never scary today.
Peanut and Phoebe did well without us. We were all happy to retrieve our two missing family members. Matt and Tina had trouble in Dallas and are coming in tomorrow instead. We are so anxious to be with them and show them our lives in Haiti. They have never been here and have not seen Hope or Isaac in 14 months ... plus, they've never met Phoebers.
Later we will put up a few photo posts from the vacation week -- kid and scenery photos coming soon. Thanks for your kind words and wishes. It was nice to get away from work and every-day stuff for a while -- we feel totally rejuvenated. :)
We definitely have some thoughts about the differences between two sides of the exact same island. Sometimes that was mind numbing. I'll let Troy write that blog entry. It is time for laundry now. -Tara
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Hi from the DR
Internet here at our resort is big business - and we are cheap - so this represents the one hour we bought to take care of some business on line.
Our time here has been amazingly relaxing and fun.
Troy is not missing the generator or the 5am taps on the gate. Paige is the only one who wants to go home ... but she is a weirdo. We all miss Phoebe and are anxious to kiss her cheeks soon.
We will fill you in on the highlights (and lowlights) when we return to Haiti on Saturday.
God Bless you-
tara for all of us
Friday, March 23, 2007
Happy 17th Birthday Britt!
Britt was a little slow in warming up to me, and I had high hopes that this costume was going to be a breakthrough in our relationship. There is one picture in existence of the masterpiece, but unfortunately we don't have it here in Haiti. The picture shows her cute face all curled up into a scowl and her arms (barely reaching each other around the fry box) crossed in front of her. She was standing in the entrance of her elementary school refusing to go into the 1st Grade classroom out of embarrasment and shame at what we were putting her through. The picture was taken shortly before she burst into tears and we had to get her out of the costume and pack it back into the car. That fry box never saw the light of day. Rockford Elementary never knew what they were missing.
After that miserable failure at impressing her, things have only gotten better...I hope.
Britt - One of my greatest joys has been getting to know you and love you...and watching in awe as you have grown from an amazing intelligent beautiful little girl into an amazing intelligent beautiful young woman. Happy Birthday, we couldn't be more proud of you.
Happy Birthday! I love you. I am anxious to watch and see what God will do as you seek Him to make so many big decisions in the upcoming year. We will be behind you praying and cheering for you. ~Mom
For last years Birthday story go here.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
One More Sleep
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
Troy has been passing off some of his numerous requests for funding churches to the "Pastor's Committee." It eventually might cut down the requests. This frees up more of his time to work out issues between cooks. ;-) I heard him say this week "I am not here to baby-sit you. You are grown women, you need to work it out." It seems that if one lady is rude to another lady (this one was between a cook and a teacher) they think Troy ought to know about it and get involved. He strongly disagrees and is thinking about putting together a committee for crabby-catty-ladies conflict resolution. Let us know if you'd like to sit on that committee.
Troy and Arnold went in on a wing and a prayer. Miraculously they made it in and went to a place that had all six tires that they needed for replacing the old ones. If you pay attention to the tires on the road here, you might come to believe that we give up on our tires too soon in the USA. Sometimes a big 18 wheeler will have tires on the back that are so differently worn that it looks like one is not even touching the ground. Vehicles will take much more abuse than we ever knew. We let the big truck tires go to the very last minute, just for the sport of it I guess.
Thank you to LESLIE for taking care of my kids and thank you to SHELLEY for helping me find my way into the heart of Petionville. When Leslie left, Isaac said "Guess what Leslie, maybe when I am on my vacation I will think about you or dream of you." Leslie is forever kind to Isaac, she said "thanks!!!"" I would of said, "QUIT IT with your obsession with your trip buddy. It's not all about you." The last thing he said when I put him to bed, "Two more sleeps after this, right?" I sure hope it turns out to be everything he expects, the build-up has gotten out of hand.
This morning at 4:40am a goat with a megaphone started going crazy. It was trapped in the little sectioned off garden area behind our stairs. It kept taking a running jump to get over the wall and missing, sort of nailing its body into the wall and falling back. Troy got ticked enough to go try and help it out of its misery (and maybe allow for another hour of sleep.) I layed listening to him trying to catch it and to Noah speculating about what in the heck was going on.
Ten long and frustrating minutes later, the goat catch and release program was complete.
Today Troy brings the four people that are here into the airport. I have three girlfriends coming for brunch. I'm making muffins and an eggbake ... it's all sophisticated and fancy and not very Haiti. I can't wait.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
She knows she needs to rest a lot in order to allow for maximum caloric intake from the formula to add density to her thighs and cheeks.
Tried & Tested Faith
We made our to-do list for all the things that need to happen before we leave. It is a 28 items list that we *might* be able to finish by noon on Friday. Today I am packing the kids. Phoebe does not have a passport yet. She'll be staying with friends in Port. Isaac is very concerned that she may never forgive us for going away for a fun week without her.
Troy's been reading reviews on the place we're staying. It sounds wonderful. It is on a Robert Trent Jones golf course, has multiple swimming pools and kids activities. After living here, we're reading some of the reviews and thinking that westerners are mainly incredibly spoiled and somewhat ridiculous. One reviewer could not let go of the fact that there was a spider in her room. Another was mad that there were bugs at the beach. HELLO???? What in the world? We are infinitely more patient, mellow and accepting of all things annoying and sloooow after living here. It would take A LOT for us to complain about anything. Troy killed a cockroach the size of my forearm last night and thought nothing of it.
We won't be reviewing the bugs at the beach in our evaluation of the resort.
Yesterday we were talking about our current view of God. Specifically about this post. Both Troy and I have been guilty of having a low view of God. There has been internal struggle over not knowing exactly what the future holds. We've both wasted far too much time the last month worrying about things that may never come to pass --but more than that, things that are not too big for God to solve and/or help us deal with if they cannot be "solved" in our way.
This morning in our e-mail, we read this...
THE WAY OF ABRAHAM IN FAITH
"He went out, not knowing whither he went." Hebrews 11:8
In the Old Testament, personal relationship with God showed itself in separation, and this is symbolized in the life of Abraham by his separation from his country and from his kith and kin.
Today the separation is more of a mental and moral separation from the way that those who are dearest to us look at things, that is, if they have not a personal relationship with God. Jesus Christ emphasized this (see Luke 14:26).
Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One Who is leading. It is a life of Faith, not of intellect and reason, but a life of knowing Who makes us "go." The root of faith is the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest snares is the idea that God is sure to lead us to success.
The final stage in the life of faith is attainment of character. There are many passing transfigurations of character; when we pray we feel the blessing of God enwrapping us and for the time being we are changed, then we get back to the ordinary days and ways and the glory vanishes.
The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting. It is not a question of sanctification; but of something infinitely further on than sanctification, of faith that has been tried and proved and has stood the test. Abraham is not a type of sanctification, but a type of the life of faith, a tried faith built on a real God.
"Abraham believed God."
Taken From- MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST http://www.heartlight.org/
We pray that OUR faith will be tried and proven and will stand the test.
Have a great week.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
C.S. Lewis Quote
Saturday, March 17, 2007
For the Irish
Happy Birthday SHEY!
Friday, March 16, 2007
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Bureaucracy & Birthmom
When Troy told her the girls look a lot like her she said all of her children look like her, but these girls look a lot like their dad too.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Troy and Arnold have gone to Port for the day. Two people come in later today that they'll pick up. Troy is meeting with Hope and Phoebe's birthmom. She asked to see Phoebe.
Monday, March 12, 2007
This is not America
Just getting the teacher to understand birth-control here took half an hour. I will never understand people visiting a new culture and trying to tell 20 year residents how it is -- or getting judgy about what you should and shouldn't do. That's just nuttyness.
The other thing that bugged me, people who focus on what CANNOT be done. We can't do this and we can't do that. How lame. How about thinking about what you CAN do. My goodness, a missionary would not last here for seven minutes if they only thought about what they cannot do. That list is enormous!
Sometimes I just wanted to punch someone. I did learn how to take blood-pressure though. My sweet stressed-out friend that was hosting the event, had HIGH blood pressure today.
One lady came saying she was seven months pregnant. She insisted she feels the baby moving. After not finding the heartbeat she was sent downtown for an ultrasound. Turns out there is no baby. I think I saw a Maury Povitch like that once. People who believe they are pregnant so they start exhibiting symptoms.
I wonder what happens in the reverse, if a pregnant woman refuses to believe she is pregnant. The power of denial is no small thing. But, I digress.
Enough about that. What else?
It is a good thing we decided to take Isaac on the vacation later this month. His excitement level far exceeds all the rest of us put together ... and we are pretty excited! This morning in the hour I was with him getting ready to leave for Port, he mentioned it no less than six times. He calls it "going to the big hotel" and "BAcation" ---- he is obsessed and wants it to be the topic of every conversation. Howmanymoredaysmomhowmanymoredays? Willweswimmom? Willwesleepinabighotelwillwewillwemom. Icantwaitmom. As a two year old, he liked going to hotels. He even likes the Super 8 ... he's a weird one for sure.
Britt and Chris are out stitching up a foot right now. Paige is on her usual after-school tour talking to anyone and everyone, getting village gossip and spreading joy. Troy and Britt are now officially admitting that her Creole is better than theirs. She speaks it fast too. I cannot understand even 1/3 of it when she talks. She's a smart little whipper-snapper, that one.
The attorney went and represented Troy in court today. Troy did not go. We have no idea what the outcome is yet.
I think it is official. Haiti is sharing time with the Central Time Zone now.
Troy FORGOT one of our kids. He made a list of our family history, a little document that said where he was born, where I was born, talked about our parents and our siblings. Then it listed our children. The document was an overview document for the home-study guy here in Haiti.
Yeah ---- He forgot Noah. Left him off the list completely. When we noticed it I wigged out like I am known to do and said, "well, we gotta fix it before the guy makes us pay for the homestudy all over again!!!!!!" Today I went in with amended information. You know, I remembered the child from my womb ... it must be a mom thing or something. ???? How do you forget one of your kids?
I handed the paper to the adoption worker that sort of represents us right now and said, "Here, Troy forgot to list Noah on the list of our children." The guy looked me in the eye and said "Ah, it does not matter, it's not that big of a deal to them."
HUH? Help. It's not? Just the fact that Troy-boy cannot list his five kids correctly should DISQUALIFY him from adopting. I argued that it might matter --- but my argument fell on deaf ears and now I really don't know what to do.
It all goes back to my title and my first paragraph today.
This is not America. A person needs to readjust their expectations a teensy-tiny bit.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Old John's Party
Spring Ahead When You Get To It
Paige and Isaac and Noah stayed back with me and went to church in Creole here at Lifeline. I am a church-skipper lately. That's what I did today.
Tomorrow 3/4 of the students will show up to school an hour late. By Tuesday we'll all be playing by the same clock. :) Or at least we hope so.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Random Kid Stuff
- Isaac, last week before the team arrived: "Is this team going to be white people or brown people?" "You mean they are ALL white?" "Huh."
- Paige, last night after Troy and I left for a business dinner with the boss: (speaking to Britt and Chris) "Okay, here are the rules. You guys are here to watch the little kids. And I am here to watch you." She then proceeded to shadow them like the secret service all evening.
- We are coming to realize that our boy Jack-Jack has a real problem with authority. Troy says this should be no mystery to us; the people that put his genetic make-up together. But still. At age 3? Pretty much anyone who tells him to do something, or not do something will get this response: "I'm MAD at you." or, the popular twist on that, "I'm not happy at you."
This morning he was ticked off that both of his pairs of jeans are dirty. I told him he would be wearing shorts. He didn't like that and he responded poorly. I swatted his behind and told him to go lay down. When I came in to talk to him two minutes later I asked him if I could lay down and talk to him, he said "No, I'm mad."
I believe there is hope. Within five minutes we usually get an apology. He came into the office a minute ago and said "Sorry I was mean at you Mom." "Will you come lay with me now?" I am not sure how we got to kid number five before we ran into one with some serious rebel in him.
On a positive note, Jack has really become an amazing exterminator. There are no less than 200 spiders in the house at any given time. If you spot one, just show Noah and he will grab it with his bare hand and crush it dead. He's saving us a lot of money on bug-killer-sprays.