The table(s) and friends at Beth's house ...
A Christmas morning nap ...
Cake and a 3D movie for Hope's birthday party Christmas Eve ...
Hiking with friends on Saturday ...
If the photos didn't share it well ... we had an amazingly fun long weekend. :)
Troy's Grandma Livesay passed away on the 23rd. He felt bad about not being able to join his family to remember her life ... it is one of the tougher things about being so far away. We're thinking of them and praying for them as they remember her today and tomorrow.
We took a new angle on our celebrations this year. This Christmas we decided (even planned) to spend little to no time feeling sorry for ourselves or sad about being away from family ... making that decision meant our Christmas weekend was filled with a lot of joy and lightness/laughter. Missing people and whining about it does nothing to actually bring you closer together with those people - so we just decided to skip it. On Christmas Eve, hearing my Dad's voice on the phone almost wrecked it when unexpected tears welled up in my eyes ... but I regained composure quickly and continued on with the plan.
On Christmas Eve we had Women's Program. Hope came with me, it was very fun to watch her responses. Joanna (new friend in Haiti for 90 days - labor and delivery nurse) let her feel a baby move. Hope's eyes got even BIGGER (if you can imagine that).
After that we came home to grill steaks and celebrate our Hopie! I get goosebumps thinking about her entry into the world. We know her birth-mother was trying to get to a hospital on Christmas Eve when - bam - Hope entered the world on a tap-tap ride out of Cite Soleil. The first nine months of her life were spent in an orphanage. She was so severely dehydrated and malnourished she passed a kidney stone as an 8 month old, 12 pound baby. We have seen this little girl throw off her "failure to thrive" label and grow into a sweet, smart, and beautiful (inside and out) little girl. Our Hope was born at Christmas ... literally and literally. :)
In the afternoon on Christmas Day we joined Haitian and American friends and went to John and Beth's for a delicious meal. I brought one of the two things I know how to make. Beth made a million delicious things. After dinner we drove Joanna back to her guesthouse singing off-key Christmas carols. Singing carols on a warm day while driving on dusty bumpy roads is odd - but still fun.
On Saturday we met Matt and Esther and their two little ones for a day in the great outdoors. Our kids cannot stop talking about it ... we had a blast and enjoyed the beauty of Haiti. Isaac keeps asking, "We will go back there someday won't we???" He loved it. We were able to hike a little while and ended up all alone in a beautiful forest preserve. After we walked around a bit and explored we enjoyed lunch and just sitting and chatting and trading Haiti stories. This last month has been fun for us, we've connected with new friends (mainly married couples) and have enjoyed getting to know them all. We have such a large (and young) tribe at home - that making time for friends and socializing is really difficult -- but we've enjoyed a few opportunities in recent weeks and its been great for both Troy and I.
Today Troy led worship at church and John spoke about being light ... it was a message that is simple - yet extremely important. The world is dark and ugly. I often find myself discouraged at the injustice I see each day. But today I was reminded that a small amount of light (one singular candle) does pierce the darkness. I am not without hope. I can be light - with His help. You can be light- with His help. And while our individual efforts won't fix every unjust thing in the world - they still produce light in someone's darkness.
We really enjoyed reading what Joel and Rachel wrote about their thoughts on Christmas in Haiti ... and we think you will too.
The end of the year has always been a time of reflection. I purposefully take inventory and think about the highs and lows of the year. We moved to Haiti in January, so the end of the year marks another year of this crazy-ride we're on, too.
I try to remember not to get any big ideas about what the coming year will hold ... Experience being a teacher, I ought to know better than to think I can plan my year or even my day tomorrow.
Our year started with a beautiful wedding of our daughter to her best friend. We wish we could replay that in slow-motion it was so much fun.
Big highs came mid to late year and included the amazing thing many of you did in making that Medika Mamba fundraiser so successful and fun, and the joy of watching Renald's miraculous recovery.
We were unable to write about some of the most difficult things that happened in 2009. But, as I look back on it - it seems really obvious that God provided for us without us ever blabbing about our situation.
We have felt His provision in tangible ways. His love has been evident in the people He placed in our path, in the Grace extended by close friends and family, in the form of timely visits from: Marcia and Greg and Jen and Tess and Terri and Amie and Tim and Mom and Dad. (All of them came in the same ten week period that we really needed to be with friends.) We have felt Him in the mercy of slow and steady healing. When we needed it most, He showed Himself to us.
*That* is how I will remember this year.
p.s. thanks for sharing your top-secret locations, it was very fun hearing from you.