Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Day in the Life

I realized the other day it is August already and we’ve been here for almost two months! Time really flies, even when you no longer live by a clock. We had a great conference call of sorts with Jared’s family on Saturday night. They all got together for August birthdays and crowded around the computer to call our cell phone by Skype. I have never been a fan of technology, but my opinion is quickly changing. We had our cell phone on speaker and took turns passing it around so we could all talk. It was great to hear everyone’s voices, especially when our 1 ½ year old nephew, Mason, finally said “Chuck Norris” for us. (It’s a family thing!)

Anyway, my sisters-in-law were wondering what a normal day looks like for us so I will attempt to let you enter in. Sleep is often interrupted in the wee hours (around 3:00) by a squawking rooster, usually very close to our house. He likes to instigate a 10 to 20 minute crowing competition with every other rooster in town. If it’s not the rooster, then it’s the bleating cry of a young goat. For the first week we would jump out of bed every time we heard it thinking it was one our kids crying. Now we just want to find the thing and put it out of (our) misery.

The sun starts rising around 4:30 and the day begins for most (not us). Thursday through Sunday there is a loud bell rung at 5:00 from the Catholic Church letting people know the service will start at 6:00. The bell is rung again at 6:00 to signal the beginning of mass, which can last up to four hours, sometimes more. We often wake up to singing, mostly hymns and praises from the churches nearby. We get up between 6:00 and 7:00 and try to spend some quiet time reading our Bibles.

Jared usually checks on the progress of our house and starts getting whatever materials need to be lined up for the days work. He also runs around paying bills for our house and other projects we are helping with. Of course that also requires frequent trips to “Fonkoze,” the bank near the airport. It would be a lot easier if we could use checks, credit or debit! We have to pay for everything with cash, and it’s complicated changing US dollars into Haitian Goudes. The rate is about $8 Haitian to $1 American. It would be easy if that were it, but the Haitian dollar is obsolete, so everything is then converted into goudes (spelled gourdes in French) at a rate of 5 gouds to 1 Haitian dollar. The funny thing is that most prices are in Haitian dollars but you pay with gouds. Fortunately for us Jared is the money man in this family!

For the kids the day starts with breakfast of bread from the local bakery and peanut butter or cereal and powdered milk. We can find corn flakes pretty easily but any sugared cereal can cost up to $8.00 US. So far Will has been kept happy by Grandma Nikkel sending his favorite, Marshmallow Mateys, via MFI. Natalie ran out of Honey O’s quite a while ago. To my surprise they don’t really have any objections to powdered milk, yet. I think it smells funny and has an after taste so I’ll leave milk drinking to them. We were able to find some chocolate and strawberry Nestle Quik in Cap Haitien on our last visit. All is well for Will and Natalie.

The rest of their day is spent playing, (arguing), coloring, (fighting), doing crafty things, (playing with a machete), hating the lunch prepared by our cook, (hugging and making up) and going whereever Mom and Dad go. This includes the internet cafĂ© every few days, which they absolutely dread because it is “so boring!” As you can see I did not mention spending hours watching TV or playing video games, although at times I wish for something like that to keep them contented and quiet. We have heard we can get satellite TV, but it would cost up to $1000 to install a dish and then it has a monthly fee. I don’t think we are that desperate…yet.

Afternoons here are very hot, but we usually have a breeze to make it tolerable. From what we understand we have been blessed because we live in the mountains and not on the coast or in a city. I don’t think we’d survive there! Lately most afternoons the clouds build, generally in the northeast, and bring showers or at least cool air. As a matter of fact, last night I slept with a sheet and a blanket! I thought for sure when I woke up it was in the 50’s in the house, but it was still 78. I think it is safe to say we have adjusted to the weather here.

We are often running here and there checking out a building project, whether it is the library going up by the hospital or a new school being finished. Some days we visit the hospital, specifically the baby room, to see what is going on and if there is anything we can do to help. Sometimes we can, sometimes we can’t. It has been hard living in a different reality, where sometimes praying for mercy is better than praying for survival. Through it all God is good and is constantly revealing himself to us even though we cannot possibly understand all he does and why.

In the evening we have supper; the kids always request “Fast Mac” or “Ramen Noodles.” Pretty nutritious, huh? It’s hard to cook a good wholesome meal without a meat department, produce department, eggs and milk! Our power is limited, usually running from around 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Needless to say, keeping things frozen is out of the question…for now. Eventually we will have a battery bank and inverter to give us power 24/7. Fortunately we have family sending us necessary food items like pepperoni, pizza sauce, pizza crust mix and Velveeta (keep it coming ladies!). We are able to get mozzarella cheese in Cap at about $8.00 US per pound, so we use it sparingly.

Usually we have language class with our friend and helper Gevy. Jared is doing great; I on the other hand am “pa bon elev,” which translates to “not good student.” Even the kids are picking it up some, but they often have no idea what they are saying. We will all get it eventually! After, or sometimes during, class we take turns showering. The water is fairly cool most days and downright chilly on days when the rains come. But the truth is it feels great at the end of a hot day.

After showers and class, we all gather in the kids’ bedroom to read a chapter from a book. Right now the book is called, “It’s a Jungle Out There.” It’s about a missionary family in Peru and all the adventures the kids have growing up. Our kids really like it, and it is quite funny to read together. Maybe someday we will have our own funny stories to tell. Shortly after the power goes out we try to go to sleep amidst the noises from the “disco” and our fine animal friends. Occasionally we hear the distant beat of the Voodoo drums, which reminds us to pray for the deliverance of this nation.