Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Memory Lane

Geronne has lived with our family since August of 2008. We have known her since January of 2006.
She takes about 10 days off all year, even though we beg and plead with her to go anytime she wants.
**I** need a break from us - and I am part of us.

I can only imagine her misery at being embedded into this family.

I finally talked Geronne into taking time off.

The kids are gone, there is not a lot to pick up. They aren't being inconsiderate in the kitchen six or seven times a day. The laundry is diminished to less than one load a day. It is a perfect time to take a break from all Livesays and Port au Prince.

G, keeps our house going and is the **only** reason we have any order in our lives.  I love her dearly and we get along 85% of the time.  If we are not getting along it is usually because I asked the kids to clean something and she hates when they clean. 

I am not sure if it is because their work is so half-assed compared to hers or if she thinks I am a bad parent to make my kids do MANUAL LABOR.  We go head to head on that topic a few times a week, which proves neither of us is willing to back down. Like ever. I will never ever be okay with kids that don't do a dang thing.  Geronne will never ever be okay with my kids doing things less perfectly than she can.

** ** **

Last week, after dropping the cleanest most perfectionist housekeeper in the world off, I asked KJ if she would be okay if I went down memory lane and drove down the road we used to live on when we first moved to Haiti.

(Geronne's family is all out there and we met her out there in the first year we lived here.)

Now that 10 years have passed since I lived there, I thought I could do it without feeling sad or like I wanted to vomit. I have not done my best work at letting go of the painful things that happened there.

I think I have done some work.  Just not exceptional work.

We drove down the two mile road and I told her stories about different people we knew and things that happened while we living out there. She is the best listener, she either was interested or she really pulled off faking it.

Of course there are dozens of silly and funny and wonderful things that happened out there. 

I tripped over a sketched out and unpredictable goat while on a jog and fell flat on my face in front of tons of people. Noah walked out onto a very high and narrow ledge at age two and scared the crap out of us while we all stood on the ground far below willing him to freeze.

We hiked a lot. We could get to the beach in 20 minutes. I allowed topless women to visit Troy when he was sick because topless women were no big deal out there. We made frantic calls to the veterinarian in the USA and found out how to get a dog to vomit. We forced our Mastiff puppy to puke up rat poison, he narrowly escaped death. We had hilarious language mishaps and misunderstandings. Plus a thousand other odd and funny things.

The tough things always stand out more in memories, which maybe actually only says something about me and is not a gen. pop. problem at all. 

At that first place we lived in Haiti a lot of things changed about our family and about each of us as individuals.

  • I stopped thinking I could simply trust male Christian leaders without question. (Whoa. So much to say)
  • I stopped thinking missions was only about doing good. ( Whoa. So much to say.)
  • I started to understand Haitian culture. (Whoa. So much to understand.)
  • We fired someone that really needed her job but was really stealing a lot. Neither of us had ever done that before. (Whoa. It sucked.)
  • We had threats of physical harm made against us because of firing her.
  • We had weird stressful relationships with leadership.
  • Troy got Malaria 6X, Dengue Fever once.
  • I got Malaria 2X and Dengue Fever once.
  • Britt got Malaria and Dengue Fever.
  • Hope sliced her leg wide open from shin to kneecap. (An ER Doc friend of Troy's was visiting and fixed her up.)
  • We learned we would adopt again.
  • We learned we were pregnant. (The most read post of the last five years - is here - about that.)
  • One of my children was repeatedly badly harmed there. 
  • My marriage was tested.  Mainly we learned that hosting guests 3 out of 4 weeks a month is not super good for a marriage and big family. 
  • My theology was turned upside down. I stopped believing that nothing bad would happen to me if I loved Jesus and tried to do good. That was so dumb and obviously I was a moron but I did arrive with a massively jacked-up theology.

So much happened in those two years and nine months of living the village Haiti life. I could write for days just about those first years. 

The one story that most defines our time out there involves the mystery of God's provision or protection or just the mystery of EVERYTHING.  I say mystery because I know people that didn't get the outcome we got and I find that mysterious. I am not better than them, my faith is not greater. It is a mystery to me that Lydia's life was spared --- but I live in the tension of that sort of mystery every day here.  Some prayers are answered and some are not. Some babies live and some babies die.  Some moms in Haiti find care and many many do not. I'm a mystic and my theology does not give answers to those things like it once did. I believe God is good and that good and evil are at war. That's all I need to know. Love God love others, live in the tension. The end.

Lydia had been born in Minnesota.  I returned home to Haiti with her after the rest of the family because I was moving our oldest daughter, Brittany, to Baylor University.  I returned home to Haiti in mid January 2008.  The other kids were home, Troy was home, we had a friend/nanny helping us with our kids because we also had our niece in our care, so we had three kids under 18 months old. (Phoebe, Lydia, Annie).

I had been home a week when I noticed Lydia was running a fever and seemed a bit off.  She was not terrible and she is my seventh child so I wasn't in panic mode. I had seen some fevers.  I made a mental note of it and thought, 'I'll just see how she seems tomorrow.' I have always been a wait and see Mom. 

A few hours later the phone rang.  My friend Jen called.  Jen explained that she had a situation she needed out of and asked if we could please consider coming to Port au Prince to get her.  I could tell by Jen's tone that she was asking because it was necessary.  I told Jen I did not know where Troy was but I would see if he could drive to Port to get her.  Back in those days, at that organization, I was not allowed to drive. After all, I am merely a woman.   <eyeroll emoji>

I found Troy and he agreed we could leave in a while and go get Jen, about two hours away from where we lived.  I called Jen back to let her know it would be awhile, As an afterthought I said, "Oh hey, Lydia has a fever, do you think that's anything to worry about?"  Jen asked a few questions and requested that I come to Port au Prince with Troy and bring Lydia with us.  Jen said she could at least look at her and decide if she needed anything else before we were two hours outside the city again.

Troy and I finished what we had to do and left for Port au Prince. 

We got to Jen and picked her up.  Jen took a look at Lydia and asked us to go right to a hospital.  Once to the hospital Jen did her uber-professional-but-assertive-and-smart-act. (It is not an act as much as it is a way of being.) Jen helped steer the Doctor there toward a spinal tap / lumbar puncture to check for Bacterial Meningitis.  The test was positive and Lydia was immediately admitted.

For four nights I stayed with Lydia in Port au Prince and Troy was outside the city doing his job.  On the fifth night I was getting SO lonely.  Wanting to be helpful, Jen came to stay with me for the night.  That night we were sitting and talking and just about to share a pizza.  We discussed what a long hard week it had been but Jen thought it likely that we would be discharged after seven days.  As we were talking Lydia started seizing. 
Jen and Lyd 

On a Friday night, it turns out hospitals don't necessarily have Doctors in them, at least not in Haiti.  Jen kicked me out of the room in a loving way and took charge of the situation. She yelled for staff to get the right meds to stop the seizure.  She directed the staff as they attempted to get a new line into Lydia. It happened as fast as it could in Haiti, which was not fast enough for Jen or I -- but she was able to get the seizure stopped. A whole crap ton happened after that all that never would have happened if Jen had not been in that hospital. Somehow Jen demanded and got the Radiologist back to the hospital to look at a scan of Lydia's head.

While I drove down the road to the village we used to live, chatting it up with KJ, I remembered the miracle of everything that happened in January 2008.

BECAUSE Jen called for a ride - so because she called -  I decided to mention Lydia's fever - so because I mentioned it Jen said bring her in - so Lydia got the right diagnosis very quickly instead of a day or two later - so she got antibiotics and care - so then when all is going well - the night there just happened not any doctors at the hospital - that night Jen would choose to help relieve my loneliness - so because she was there on that night she could stop a seizure that no other employee at the hospital was prepared to stop themselves. 

BECAUSE all that ...

Our kid lived, our kid had no hearing damage, and we were spared a devastating loss. 

A trip down memory lane is rough on the tummy, but man, it is also beautiful.