Reflecting on 2015
2015. Wow, where did you go?
I remember talking with Chris at the beginning of 2014 and listening to him share his discouragement at the fact that we’d owned the property for over a year, and he felt like we weren’t in a position to make any progress on it in the foreseeable future. What was bubbling up in me, though, was different. It was hope. Nonsensical hope. The mission didn’t have the funds to do much of anything, and yet I knew deep in my heart that we would be breaking ground by year end. When I shared that with him, he got a bit exasperated with me, may have even thrown his hands up in the air, and said, “Well, you’re entitled to feel however you want, but I just don’t see how it’s going to happen.”
And yet, here I sit at my make shift desk in our new house, that we moved into less than two years from that conversation. December is a pivotal, significant time in our story, I guess. It was the month we finalized the paper work to purchase the land for the organization, and it was the month last year when we broke ground on the first building. I remember taking pictures of that early work, the foundation trenches in the ground, and feeling so giddy. My sense of hope from the beginning of the year had been spot on. God was doing this thing. And, this December we moved in.
2015 has been a very full year. But full of so many good things. We’ve had hard years here, but this year has been everything but hard. It’s been busy, but the kind of busy where you know you’re pushing toward a wonderful goal. It’s been full of helping more families get access to clean water – 1319 filters installed, to be exact. That equates to over 13,000 people getting access to clean water in 2015 – on top of doing a major building project.
We’ve seen so many wonderful things from our staff this year as well. We’ve gone through a lot of hard years in the staff department, but this year was so full of blessings. Blessings in seeing their ownership and hard work with what we’re doing. Blessings in seeing them gain new skills and pride in their work. Blessings in seeing our staff become more of a family, one that we felt wrapped up in and part of. And, the blessing of seeing them fully embrace this new journey and chapter for the mission, with enthusiasm and excitement. We’re 4 days away from the first day of work for 2016, and I’m so excited to see how everything comes together with the rest of our work yard facilities, and how much that blesses our staff in the hard work they do every day. God has truly given us a spirit of joy in the past year and I wish you could hear the laughter and joking around that we get to hear all day long as the guys work away to help us continue to build this thing.
As a family I see how we’ve gotten more settled in 2015. Our kids are getting older, and we’re loving the stage that they’re in. I do look at Alex almost every day, and my heart breaks a bit to see our baby getting so big and growing up, but when I’m completely honest, I don’t love the baby stage. I don’t love being needed all the time and being completely relied on to meet someones needs. I start to feel worn out and like there just isn’t enough of me to go around. This year has been a very pleasant step back into my “old” self, the person that existed before we had kids. As our kids get more independent, we’re enjoying being able to do more with them, to have more conversations with them, and just having fun as a family. Our summer vacation this year was the best one so far. We were able to move at our own pace, our kids had a blast with everything that we did, they were old enough to leave with each set of parents for a few days while we got some time away, and there wasn’t a diaper or sippy cup in sight.
With the start of school this year, we saw Alex take a step into a different world when he started Kindergarten. It’s been an adjustment for him, but a good one. Does he love school? Yes and no. Depends on the day. He misses his teachers, and out of the two kids, he’s the one that’s eager to get back next week. He likes his routine. He does better with it. Olivia does love school, but this year was an adjustment for her as she moved up to the middle building, which meant less play time, and more serious work time. She’s doing great and excelling as always, but it’s been a year of growing up for her. For Chris and I, both kids being in school opened our days up to focus on other things again, like before we had kids. I know some parents have a very hard time with the first day of school for their last child at home, but for me that lasted about 15 minutes and then I realized all the things I could get done in a day, and slowly this part of me started to emerge that had been dormant for a long time. So, 2015 marks the year that I started to feel like myself again.
As I look to the new year, I feel a sense of contentment. Content. That would be the word I would use to brand 2016. The year that all the pieces came together and we saw things completed. The year that we feel that we’re making strides forward. The year that we continue to settle into all this newness, and see the plans that God has had in the works unfolding before us.
I know that might sound a bit lofty, especially because we’re still hours away from flipping over to the new calendar year, but that’s how I feel going into it. For all I know, 2016 could be a ridiculously hard year, but I don’t sense that right now. And, if it is a hard year, I know that with the things that we’ve gone through up until now, that we’ll walk through those times and deal with them as they come. I feel confident of that.
I’m looking forward to this New Year. 366 days where anything could happen (yes, February has 29 days this year). We’re already excited about some big things. Chris’ parents are coming to visit in February, for one. We’re going to finish off our work facilities, and we’re building a guest house so we can get back to teaching classes and hosting visitors again by the end of the year. We’re looking forward to getting to know our community more. Summer vacation is coming up, and we might get a few other trips in as well. All good things.
As you move into 2016 I hope it comes with excitement and enthusiasm. Maybe it means breaking free from some heavy stuff that hung around you this year. Maybe it means building on something great that started this year. Maybe you have no idea what it’ll hold and are just open to whatever comes. Whatever it is, I pray that 2016 will be a good year for you and yours.
We have a few more days of vacation left, then Monday we’re back to school, and back to work. The rest has been much needed, but I find myself starting to get a bit twitchy and needing to get into some kind of routine, especially now. November and December saw most of our family and life routine go out the door with trying to get the house done and me working long days. I’m looking forward to being able to be the one to get our kids ready for school in the morning, and to go and pick them up. To having a meal plan and cooking dinner because we’ll be quitting work at a normal time every day. I’m looking forward to getting the rest of my house list done in the next month, then getting back into my admin work. I’ve missed it.
I’m not normally in a hurry to get our Christmas decorations taken down, but I know that will happen this weekend to make space for the work that needs to be done starting next week. I find myself already switching into work mode and thinking through the work I have left to do, and deciding what I should start with. I think it’ll be the office, so we can be fully functioning in a few weeks. I’m seeing the lists I’d written and taped on the wall slowly coming down, which feels good. After the office is done, the work left in the house isn’t a lot, and will mostly be cutting, screwing together, and then installing because it’s all closets and cabinet fronts. I did get all the left over work done in the bathroom over the holidays, which feels good. Just little things like caulking and hanging up hooks and things like that.
Our makeshift office, or at least my corner of it. When all is finished I’ll be in a different corner :)
I’m looking forward to having Yonese back at work regularly. She came back from her vacation 5 days before we moved, so not only have I missed her over our vacation, but for the last three months too. I know it might seem weird to have household help in 5 days per week, but the truth is it’s a lot more work to keep house here. Because everything is open all the time we have a ton more dust and dirt that comes in the house. That and kids that run around bare foot and sandals that drag dirt in, we’re constantly sweeping. I can sweep twice a day and end up with big piles each time. I look at what got wiped down and dusted after we moved in, and then again last week, and there’s a layer of dust on it again. Yonese is also like a kind of glue that just helps hold us together better. She helps take care of the little things around the house so Chris and I can focus on our family and running the parts of the mission that truly benefit from our skills and gifts. She’s also kind of like a Haitian grandma to our kids. We’ve all missed her being here regularly, and I’m looking forward to us all learning the new quirks and routines of this house and property, and settling back into what is familiar for all of us.
As an aside, one thing that we’re adjusting to is the different wildlife out here, as in bugs. Because the old mission site was much more developed, and we had a yard full of grass, we had less critters coming in our house. The new house was completely open until the day we moved in and Chris went around and put all the screens in. We’ve been dealing with spiders and other bugs since then. Especially ants. Oh, the ants! We had friends over the other day, and asked their kids to catch us a few lizards that we could release in the house. Yes, we intentionally released lizards in the house. Why? Because they eat the bugs. We didn’t even think about it when we moved in, but this house is sealed up with no spaces where they can get in, unlike our old place where they could come in as little guys under the door, then take up residence and have a happy life. We have different doors with tight thresholds, so no lizards. The kids released a couple downstairs, and that same night Chris and I were in the office and I squealed with excitement when I saw a baby lizard on the office wall, because it had crept in from outside. I don’t know if it was from the doors being opened more during the day with the kids running in and out, or if he managed to eek through the small space between the wall and the door frame where we had to take the door out to get the fridge in, but he was there. Our friends also brought us some good ant poison, and in three days we’ve gone from having to spray the dickens out of our kitchen 5-6 times per day to doing it maybe once. Take that ant colonies! Hiya!
And, miracle of all miracles, the internet is working okay today, so here are some pictures from the last few weeks :)
Some friends of ours hosted a Christmas karaoke party before everyone left for the holidays. I thought Chris was really into karaoke, but apparently he’s found his brother from a different mother in our friend Robert. We had to drag this guy away when it was time to go home. My stomach and face hurt from laughing so hard. They were SO into it! Our friends mentioned they were thinking about getting a different karaoke system and would be selling theirs, and both Robert and Chris looked at me for approval at the same time… lol!
Our new furry family members…
Chris wrote their initials on their foreheads the first day they were here so he could tell them apart. Anna, Elsa & Kristoff. The previous family were Frozen fans :) The puppies have all settled in well and we’re having fun with them. They’re really funny and very energetic. Elsa is the run and still small enough to squeeze through the gate, so she gets out at least 2-3 times per day. Anna is always quick behind, and Kristoff is a perpetual good boy and will stay in the pen, even though he’s smaller than Anna and could get out, and whine and bark to let us know that the other two have escaped. Anna is the alpha dog and the one who has the most energy. She’s the one that attacks the others just for fun. They have BIG personalities and I can’t wait to see what they’re like when they get bigger and we can let them out more.
Christmas house pictures! I promise to do a more thorough run through in January/February after we get more stuff finished.
Chris got me that rocking chair for Christmas in 2008, and I may have cried. It’s very unique with hand painting all over it. I love it. It’s been in the kids room all these years, and I’m excited that we can finally have it where we can use it more and people can see it.
Alex wrote his own gift tags this year :)
In the past few years it’s become tradition to go down to Moulin Sur Mer one evening before Christmas because they light everything up and it feels festive, so on the 23rd we went down for drinks, then bought “Montrouis Chicken” – this delish bbq chicken you get from street vendors – and took it home for dinner. It was a fun evening.
I’m not sure where those kids came from. Mine are smaller…
Opening stockings. It was SO early…
Apparently Alex was still hungry after we finished our Christmas dinner…
Well, I have milk waiting to be made into ricotta, and some banana bread to bake. Fun thing – now that we’re living in an agricultural area, we have people we can buy milk from every day, so Chris wanted to get into making cheese. He’s been accumulating his tools and yesterday he made a big batch of mozzarella. I’ve been making ricotta for a while because it’s really easy, so tonight we’re having lasagna with homemade mozzarella and ricotta. :)
Happy New Year from Haiti!!