Haiti’s gray skies promise nothing but more rain. For four days the rain has been constant. A rushing downpour like we’ve never experienced before. The yard is flooded. The ground is a slick mud pile. Our ears have been deafened by the sound of rain on tin. The kids are wrapped in sweaters to stay warm and garbage bags to stay dry. Jacquelyn’s plantain garden out back is flooded.
How do you put to words what a torrential downpour does to a country that lives most of its days outside?
The streets are dirt when it’s dry, and mud when it rains. The outside market -with its vegetables and fruits that lay on tarps spread across the ground, all cramped together with barely enough space to walk between the vendors- is a swamp. Homes are constructed of tin and scrap metal. Every roof leaks. Garbage clogs the sewers and drainage system.
Life has been a mucky, sticky, soaking wet mess. Yesterday the sun came out for a bit, the water dried up some, and we ran around the front yard playing tag and hide-and-go-seek. It was a much needed day of sunlight and fresh air, and we were so thankful (and so ready) for it.
Now the sun has disappeared, and the rain continues to fall.
The kids have been sick with a fever since the weekend. Every morning there’s a new face Bonnie is giving medicine to, or a different body sleeping on their couch. Ray caught it on Monday. Lou followed close behind, catching sick on Tuesday. It’s a nasty bug- complete with a fever and a cough and an ache-y body. Stephen and I are just praying that, if we are going to catch it, it happens before we have to travel back to the States. Plane rides and head colds are a miserable combination.
We find it hard to believe the days are winding down here. In some ways, we feel as though we are just finding ‘our way’. We’ve begun to feel like we’ve established somewhat of a routine and a schedule. We’ve got a better handle on school, and the kids have been getting used to the way we do things. We’re moved into the new apartment and have drawers and cabinets organized. It seems a shame to be leaving. Yet on the other hand, we are ready for normalcy. We are looking forward to the 14 hour roadtrip to Colorado, with smooth roads and coffee breaks. A hot shower sounds incredible. The chance to be a normal newlywed couple out for a date night will be a breath of fresh air.
We are excited to see family and friends, to tell our stories and hear other’s stories. We are also excited to take a break from being “Hannah and Shaggy”, and to find time to be us for a while.. without 1/2 a dozen children tagging along behind us. Haha. But then Mikey giggles on his mats in the kitchen, and Carl tries so hard in school, and the girls have finished their first knitting projects. And we wish we had just a little bit more time..
On Tuesday afternoon, I sat in the bedroom working on some of the bits of this blogpost. On the other side of the door in the kitchen were Shaggy and Carl. Earlier they had been thumping around in the eaves mopping up puddles of water, now they were finished, and eating cake at the kitchen table. I listened to Carl’s question after question, changing from bicycles to life to spiritual questions. Every Tuesday afternoon is another boy at our kitchen table, another set of questions, and another testimony of what God has done. (Stephen has been doing a bible study with the boys once a week, and part of that study has been getting them to share their testimony with the group). There are always questions that come up at the most unexpected times.. “Hannah, does Shaggy have another girlfriend?” is one we hear often. “Did you make Hannah take a blood test before you got married?” was one that blindsided Stephen a bit more, in the bike depot surrounded by tires and bike parts. “Are you gonna take another boy besides Shaggy oneday?” The questions go on and on.
The questions remind us we don’t know why we are here or how God is using us. Because you can think you’ve come so they can read better and solve math problems. You think you’ve come to do a bible study and teach boys to fix bicycles and maybe ride the dirt bike. You think you’ve come to make the boy in the pac’n’play giggle and engage this beautiful world around him. But the unexpected questions in the unexpected moments remind us God has us here for His purposes, being mere tools and instruments in His hands, for whatever ways He deems fit. And we may never fully know what those ways are. We only are faithful to Him.
Those words are easier to type than they are to live out.
Downstairs below us in the senior home, Mondezi shouts. 6:30 shower time, right on schedule. Today promises another day of multiplication bingo, spelling tests, and 1/2 a dozen energetic children climbing all over us. It’s funny the things that begin to seem normal. I’m exhausted already.. to think of the battle over pencils, the relentless teasing among the kids, and the arguing that seems to take place in the classroom. God really does give only enough grace for the moment you need it, and not a second before.