Monday, November 28, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

Well, we have been home for almost 2 weeks now. And what a crazy two weeks. Getting settled back in, shopping for all the kids clothes (November in Indy does not equate to Haiti weather.... ever), seeing friends and family, starting back up at school, and Thanksgiving! I was hoping that by this time I would have some really good insight to share about our transition back... but I don't. No major epiphanies. No big ah-ha moments. Just adjusting back to our life here and the American culture.

The adjustment is going well. I haven't experienced any major culture shock. This may be because both Aaron and I have travelled throughout the world quite a bit and seen many different cultures and lifestyles. This may be because we have just been to busy to process much. Only time will tell.

So how are we adjusting? Mostly I am thankful for the conveniences and choices I have available to me here in the States. Just look at the grocery store. In Haiti, we had to drive at least an hour to get to a grocery store. A store that was about the size of the produce section at Kroger. And there was no guarantee they had what you needed. And if they didn't have what you wanted, you couldn't just hop in the car and go about 5 minutes to another store like you can in the US. There really isn't anything that I can't buy in the grocery store that is just 5 minutes from my house.

The one thing I have been doing is comparing things I am thankful for in the States and things I miss in Haiti.

Here are some things I love about Haiti:
  1. The way people worship at church. They really worship. No holding back, just pure joy and exuberance. Not like the stiff worship here. I mean, some people get into it at our church, but most don't do much more than stand there. Maybe they will bust out a clap once in awhile.
  2. The way everyone (and I mean everyone) says "hello" as they pass you.
  3.  My American-Haiti Family (Aubs, E'Tienne, Brooke, Brodie, Jim, Cheryl, Jannessa, Jamie, Adam).
  4. My daily talks with Aubs... pretty much anything with Aubree. 
  5. My Haitian-Haiti Family (Clerice, Jolina, Eliana, Louna, Amos, Clemant, Lupson, Claudette,  Natasha, Rose, Franzy, Natamara, Kris, Wadline, Sandi, Ericson, Yolande, and so many more!)
  6. The weather! I mean, c'mon it's a Caribbean Island! This cold and gray stuff sucks. 
  7. Being a daily hands-on part of an amazing ministry to even more amazing people. 
  8. All the people walking along the streets. The business of the streets in general. There is so much more human interaction. Here in the US everyone is in their car, house, or building. No one is just out walking... esp. not in this weather. 
  9. Driving in Haiti. If there is a space... it's yours. Traffic laws are just mere suggestions. Driving presents much more of a challenge in Haiti. And people drive SO fast in the states. Everyone is in such a hurry. 
  10. The mountains and beach. Simply gorgeous. Walking out my door in Haiti= mountain view. Walking out my door in Indiana= corn fields. 
  11. The Coca-Cola. Made with pure cane sugar, in a glass bottle... nothing like it on a hot day. And the fact that you can buy it on any street, anywhere, for about 50 cents. 
Here are some things I do not miss about Haiti:
  1. Waking up with 10 new mosquito bites every...single...morning! No mosquitos here!
  2. Giant tarantulas
  3. Spiders in general... all the time.... everywhere. I have only seen one spider since we have been back (and I am pretty sure it actually was a Haitian spider as it crawled out of a bag of toys that was packed in Haiti and not opened until said spider came out). 
  4. Living with 6 people in 500 sq.ft. of space (especially in the mornings). I love my house in Indy. I mean, I really love it. It is so nice and clean and big and quiet. 
  5. Eating every meal with 30-100 other people. It is nice to sit down and have a quiet meal with our family.
  6. The grocery store (see above).
  7. The limit on ingredients to cook with (I can literally make anything I want now). 
  8. The perception of danger. It is everywhere. There is such a perception of safety in the United States. On the roads, in your house, pretty much everywhere you just feel safe. I never fear being kidnapped or carjacked in Indy (maybe I should... who knows). 

I am sure there are many more too, but that should do it for now. So, is it better to live in Haiti or the United States? I don't think I can answer that. Both have their good and their bad. Neither is better or worse... they are just different.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Welcome Home to Us!

We arrived back in Indy around 6pm on Tuesday after a pretty uneventful (and nice) journey. We were surprised to see a whole group of people holding signs to welcome us home!

Sitota immediately started running around and playing with all his friends!

We headed from the airport to the Gibbs house for dinner (Jeff's famous fajitas) with our Church Small Group (whatever it is we are called these days) and enjoyed some "American" cupcakes from the Buzcos and Sterleys.

Our whole small group back together again! Dan and Margie Altekruse, me and Aaron, Sam and Emily Jackson, and Jeff and Sarah Gibbs.

The kids are happy to be back together and causing trouble again!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bittersweet Goodbye

This past week as been full of emotions. Some really big highs, and some really big lows. I guess that was to be expected as we prepare to move back to Indiana after a year in Haiti.

Jay and Amy Shultz returned for a visit to Haiti! Jay and Amy were the family that moved to Haiti alongside us but had to leave in June after Jay's accident

Not long after arriving on campus Jay climbs aboard the Gator to tour the campus.

Jay and Amy with Narette and Clerice

Jay jokes around with all the construction guys.

Jay challenged Mierta to a race... but it still hasn't happened :)

Making Pizza

One day we took our last trip to Double Harvest. It is so beautiful out there!

Which came first?

Just some of the beautiful plants grown at Double Harvest... got me in the Christmas mood even thought it was 95 degrees out!

The Tilapia Farm

On Thursday night we had a grand celebration. We were celebrating the return of the Shultz Family, Fedlaine's 6th birthday, and the end of our year. It was so fun and so sad at the same time. 

Happy Birthday Fedlaine!

On of my most favorite translators, Clerice, and Dianne Pierre present us with an amazing scrapbook of our year here. Filled with pictures and notes (even from some of the kids in the village), it is a gift I will treasure always. 

Wadline has been an amazing blessing to us this year. I am excited to see how she does in her new role as head of NVM housekeeping once we leave. 

It has been a crazy year. We have been stretched as we didn't think possible going into this year. But we have learned so much and met many amazing people. It has been a year we will never forget! Nou renmen Ayiti anpil!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Visit to Kay Pastor

This week we had the privilege to accompany Pastor Pierre to his home village in the Artibonite Valley. It was an amazing trip we will never forget!

We stopped halfway to stretch our legs (and for Sitota to "fall" into the water fully clothed) at the beach right off the road. 

As we headed off the main road for the last 30 minute drive to the village, the road got rougher and rougher. But the scenery got more and more beautiful. This area of Haiti is so lush and green and filled with seemingly endless rice paddies. In fact, this area of Haiti can produce enough rice to feed the whole country.... yet can't compete with the low price of imports from other countries like the US. The lady in the picture below is drying her rice out in the road. 

The road heading into the village.

Rice drying every where you look.

On our last leg of the journey we came upon a truck stuck in the mud. Fortunately Pastor got out and helped push them out so we could get to our destination.

Pastor's childhood home.

Aaron and Pastor

Pastor's mom made us a fabulous lunch of diri ak pwa avek saus Creole and poul (rice and beans with sauce, and chicken). It was so good. Seriously, best rice and beans I have ever had. And she grew the rice herself. All the kids ate seconds... even Isabel said "This is the only rice and beans I have ever liked".

Pastor's dad's church. 

Isabel and Syd got to tour the town on a horse! We started walking through the town and soon had a hundred people following us shouting "ti blan" (little white kids). They had never seen a white child before and it was like the circus had come to town. Many yelled "li sanble poupe" (she looks like a doll). Pastor had to inform them that Sydney was in fact an actual person, not just a doll sitting on a horse. 

Sitota blended right in... even ran around in his underwear after his ocean adventure soaked his clothes. 

All the kids want to meet the ti blan!

Everywhere they went, people followed. 

On the way out of the village we stopped at the rice mill. 

What a great day! Such a fun way to round out our time in Haiti.