Thursday, September 04, 2008

Intersection (and You can kiss now)

Over the last many weeks Noah has taken to the idea that he can dictate when his Mom and Dad may kiss. It started as a game only, but has since turned into a habit of his.

This morning on the way to the airport Troy was telling me how much he would miss us and we were all wishing aloud that he could stay here with us … and from the back seat came, “You can kiss now!”

Troy made it out of PAP without much trouble. One day this week Hurricane Hanna cancelled flights, which means three days of playing catch-up at the airport, but he was on his plane and turning the phone off 15 minutes before the scheduled departure so at least one flight was on track today.

None of us are quite “at-home” or comfortable enough in our new house to be 110% ready for the timing of this trip, but we know that Troy has important things to share and that the conference will be a time of encouragement and rejuvenation for him as well as those he’ll meet. We were excited when they invited him. Sometimes the very things you're not feeling prepared or feeling able to do - are the things that God has planned for you! If you want information on a radio broadcast that is happening or the conference please contact Brenda at - it is taking place this weekend in the Grand Rapids, MI area.

We’ve heard from our friends in LaDigue that the rainwater has caused a lot of trouble. For those of you who have visited the dam, they are reporting that the water is up to the thin green bridge that you walk across. That is an insane amount of water. We need about 20 days without any rain for things to dry up. As I type it is beginning to pour again. Sigh. Everyone here is soooo very tired of rain.

I’ve been frustrated with myself for feeling a bit down and unsettled. I think I just expected to immediately feel at home in Port au Prince. But in thinking about it further I realize that I have never been a city girl – Troy and I lived in two outlying areas and I have never lived in an truly urban environment … it feels a little squashed to me … or cloistered or cementish (a new word) or something. Right now it feels like I am only trying to figure out how to get the kids to and from school and I’ve questioned my purpose if that is all I am doing here – I want to do something besides coordinate rides and schedules. On the bright side, Paige told me last night that she loves being at QCS and she would not trade it for anything. Apparently the two weeks I have allowed to feel totally at home is not enough time ... It’s that whole patience issue again.

We’re REALLY hoping to end the Internet disconnect soon! The provider is missing a key part. Like a dish - TIH. We’re realizing that without TV and Internet we have no idea what is happening in the world – an odd feeling – makes us wonder again how anybody lived far from loved ones decades ago when cell phones and email were not an option. Those people were nuts.

We have one bathroom that does not drain, making a lovely nesting spot for mosquitoes ... the washing maching runs through two cycles in a row if you don’t catch it after the first one and our new oven won’t light … but the rest of the household things seem to be falling into place now. Like the microwave - it works great!! :) The EDH (the sometimes city power) angle is a new one for us and we’re learning to jump out of bed at midnight to start a load of laundry. We already hear the rooster farm next door less – that is not to say that we don’t hear them at all – it is just to say that we’re beginning to notice it less. Noah told me today that the "nay-b0h-z have an ugly house" - upon clarification he thinks the chickens/roosters have an ugly house. :)

My friend Beth pointed out that doing life here is often heavy – or amplified in a sense.

It’s like life on steroids – there is always an edge and always one extra thing to consider. On one hand everything takes longer to accomplish; groceries or simple errands are often a three or four hour event. Going anywhere is complicated. While you feel like you do a lot of standing around waiting on things and people – you also feel like you rarely have down time. It is the only environment where you can get almost nothing tangible completed yet fall into bed exhausted from it. I know that will make no sense to anyone who has not had the privilege of visiting.

We heard from some missionaries that left after 20 years to retire in the States. They said they did not even realize how increased their daily stress level was until they were removed from this environment. All of this is not to complain – trust me – it is just to attempt to explain it a bit better.

One example that hit this week especially, sick kids cause much greater stress. If one of my kids is sick in the USA I never automatically wonder if they have a deadly disease (Malaria) or jump to wondering if not taking them to the doctor for another day (the wait and see approach) could result in serious consequence. Annie ran a fever on and off all week and it put me on edge wondering if there was something I should be doing that I was not - and if waiting and seeing was going to cause her unnecessary pain.

With Troy gone I feel extra nervous about accidents or car troubles. It is one thing to get a flat tire on the road in suburban Minneapolis where there are people everywhere who will call for help for you and the worst thing that might happen is you’ll wait 5 minutes for the police to show up. Here, it means trying to communicate in a language that I stink at while trying to use a cruddy cell phone system to call everyone I know to come help me and hoping no one hassles me while I stand in mud and try to locate someone that might be 30 to 40 minutes away. It causes me to pause when I leave the house with a couple of the little ones in tow, that’s for sure.

The people we live near and run into all have their own amazing stories to tell. A friend of the Heartline ministry stopped in to see Beth and John this week and had aged 20 years in just 6 or 8 months. I was told that she barely resembled her prior self. She is HIV positive. A lump rises in your throat as you see the devastation it has caused in her life. A man in our neighborhood has no eyes and is missing some fingers. He ran with the wrong crowd in previous years and has the scars to show for it. Both the variables and the consequences are just bigger here.

Thanks for reading about our odd little life in this odd little country. It amazes us that you do. While we have faced some discouragement and “down” times of late – we simultaneously feel very, very blessed to be here. We’re lucky to live life on steroids; we’re lucky to call Haiti home. We want to remain open to experience what God has planned for each of us as we seek to discern how and where to invest the bulk of our time, energy and resources. As we continue to find our groove in the big city, we both need and appreciate your prayers.

In the coming week we also plan to go get Pierre from Petit Bwa and get him into town to begin examining the possibility of a new leg. We’ll keep you posted as his story develops. Our certainty that we need to try to see why God has laid him so heavily on our hearts is related directly to this quote:

"Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you."
-Augustine of Hippo

In our roles with Heartline Ministries, (John and Beth McHoul) Tara will be working with Beth, Sheila and Shelley in the Women’s Program that currently serves about 80 women. Among many other things, we’ll specifically be trying to develop a program for the teen moms --recognizing that their challenges and needs are different than the more mature single mom. Together T & T will work on getting the Heartline website updated and rolling out some new options for those of you who love and support this worthy ministry. Troy will be working the US side of adoptions and has already enjoyed learning from John on a trip downtown this week; there is no underestimating what a guy who has lived here 20 years knows. Troy is hoping to absorb some of that moxie and wisdom. (But hopefully not the accent or the John sense of fashion.) We thank God for bringing the McHouls into our lives in 2005.

As Troy prepared for his weekend missions conference we had an opportunity to review all of the “God sized” moments that have occurred since we first started down the path to Haiti in July of 2005.(Or even 2002 when we first located Haiti on a map.) It is easy to get distracted or discouraged and forget what God has done and is doing. We've been guilty of that I think.

We’ve met such amazing people both in Haiti and all over the world during our time here. Our lives have intersected in ways we would never trade. It was great to bring those things to mind again. We’re certain that God ordained many of the intersections of the last three years … some of those intersections resulted in miracles and answered prayers and some resulted in the beginning of life long friendships.
As we move forward we’re hyperaware that any intersection might just be - of the God variety.
This post from two years ago was a reminder for me today.
Still Trying,
tara for all of us