Much has happened over the past couple of weeks, but little sunshine means little power, and so here I am to narrate the tales of the last few weeks.
I’ll start with a visit from our fearless leader from Hawaii, Sean, the very man under whose leadership Jacques and I met and fell in like. Sean came to Haiti for a visit, and we travelled to the island of La Gonave with him, his son Brendan and a couple others on a speedboat, to our friends’ Katie and Bernard’s place.
Most of our mornings looked like this – hours spent talking and sharing and inhaling his wisdom. All of his words seem to carry a piercing kind of truth, and conversations with him left me feeling challenged, empowered and excited. It has always fascinated me that some peoples’ words can be many and deep, that bring some kind of real change into the atmosphere that they are spoken, and others’ words can be many and meaningless. I hope and pray I become one whose words are deep.
While in La Gonave we rode motorcycles up a mountain one day to a town called ‘Nan Café’ (‘In Coffee’ in Haitian Creole), where coffee trees grow wildly. The land on which they grow is community property, and people pick as they want to drink, or the community gifts them at special events, such as weddings or funerals. We picked lots of coffee cherries.
At the end of that week, we hosted an intensive teachers’ workshop here in Montrouis, with a goal of providing training for teachers to more effectively teach and mentor the children under their care.
It was so inspiring to see how in just a few days, teachers were challenged and inspired to do their work with so much greater skill and passion. The teachers wanted more training like this, and I saw what a great need there is for free or inexpensive but quality training for teachers, and probably many other professions here in Haiti. I wrote an extended email about this seminar – if you’re interested in hearing more, let me know.
It’s kind of always been a dream of mine to have goats. Goats roam the streets of Haiti in all colours and sizes and I find myself watching them in fascination on most days. When we heard one of our cousins was selling two goats and a goat foetus for 3000 gourdes (a BARGAIN), I knew it was a closing door of opportunity that I had to leap through.
And so we did.
It’s such a beautiful thing to trade pieces of paper for living, breathing goats.
We plan to keep these two, Sarah Mami and Pi, and sell the baby goats as they grow. Jacques and I always said we’d build a house on a mountain with a lush garden and animals of every kind. It’s fun seeing this dream slowly become a reality.
Next on my list are pigs!
We moved our life (two fat suitcases and lots of borrowed furniture, cutlery and crockery) into a perfect little house on the other side of the town of Montrouis, which is completely a gift of God. When we first inspected it, I was somewhat discouraged, as I thought it was perfect in too many ways, but knew we wouldn’t be able to afford it. We proposed a crazily low price to rent it, 98% sure it wouldn’t be accepted, and it was!
We have always wanted a home where anyone can come at any time and feel at home. It’s definitely been the case, and at any given time you’ll find a random assortment of humans at our place. Although part of the goal of moving here was to have more private time, it makes me happy to know this home is never lonely but instead is full of laughter, singing, debate and love.
Jacques and some friends have begun working on our garden, which was ugly and bare, but now full of baby papaya trees.
On the 2nd of September, 23 years ago, one of the cutest black babies in the world was born on the ground in a humble home in Montrouis. His name should have been ‘Jacques Smith Celiscar’, but due to human error on his birth certificate, he turned out to be ‘Jacques Ismith Seliscar’. Years later I married this special soul, and I am endlessly grateful that I did.
On the 23rd anniversary of his birth, I had diarrhea about 20 times that day, but family and friends came over and helped host a dinner party to celebrate this wonderful man.
After 5 months of marriage, some which make up some of the more difficult months of my life that provided the time and environment to expose many of each others’ flaws, I can honestly say that I am thankful that God chose him for me.
Here are 10 things I love about him.
- He is wise.
- The way he embodies the meaning of generosity throws out any idea of generosity I previously had. He’d give away everything to bless others and live on nothing but faith in a heartbeat.
- His heart for others always amazes me, and it’s not tainted with a speck of personal agenda. He genuinely loves others, and does all he can to serve them and bless them.
- He is a natural leader, and people listen to him and follow him. He effortlessly rallies groups of people to work together towards something.
- He makes everyone laugh, wherever we go.
- He looks at everything and sees a new business opportunity. The World Cup, goats, Insanity work out, our new home – you name it, there’s a way to make money out of it.
- As soon as he decides he wants to do something, he gets on it. He wasn’t born with an ounce of procrastination in him. He just makes things happen.
- He forgives quickly and easily. More quickly and easily than anyone I know.
- He has so much integrity before God.
- When I get mad about a person or a situation, am hurt or offended, defending my rights, and thinking that as my husband he will side with me and agree with me, instead, he always points me back to Jesus. Reminds me that He is above all. Reminds me of what I’ve been forgiven for. Reminds me that I’m not in control. And reminds me that sulking about it will produce nothing, but prayer will produce something.
All that to say, there are many, many more things I love about him. And some things I don’t like about him, too. But, marriage is fun. And it is a good way to learn about how wretched you are in all the secret places of your heart, and how much you really need Jesus to change.
My husband and brother-in-law came home with three little puppies a few nights ago. That night was like a piece of heaven descending on earth and exploding in my heart, which has deeply longed to snuggle puppies for years as my days spanned over small Sydney apartments, homesick for a countryside yard. They are the cutest balls of fur, and they sometimes resemble fat rats. These three soon became friends with my ex-stray puppy, who now looks big and ugly in comparison.
When we head back to Australia our family here will lovingly care for our goats and dogs (and maybe pigs by then), until we return to expand our animal empire.
As part of our work in BelVil, we screen tastefully chosen movies in local communities mainly for youth as a source of healthy entertainment.
We screened a film on a soccer field one night, and on another night against the wall of a shop.
On this particular night, there was a tragic accident on the main road (about 20 metres from where we were screening the film) where a huge tractor sliced the side of a huge truck carrying sacks of grenadia fruit and some passengers. Four passengers were killed, and one lady’s body was literally ripped in half – the bottom half near the grenadia truck, and her arm and head hundreds of metres up the road. For almost an hour hundreds of people flocked to the site to see what had happened, gathering around the dead bodies and taking photos of them.
It was a surreal experience. Please pray for the families of those who died that night. I can’t imagine how painful it would have been to lose someone in such a tragic and unexpected way.
Well, friends, sorry to end on such a note.
It’s been a full few weeks and we are grateful for everyone who is on this journey with us, whether you’re reading this, praying for us, or just smiling at us in support from where you are. We appreciate and love you so much.