Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December Update

I can't believe it's already half way December! There is so many things I want to write about, however keeping up with three active boys, and the reality of living in the third world means time to sit down and write is very limited! Even now I have a list of other things I should be doing, but since these two awesome people hope to arrive tomorrow, I wanted to quickly get an update in before I get too far behind. 

Jason, my handsome man, is working hard, like usual!

As part of the Christmas rush he helped out with transporting Christmas boxes from Samaritans Purse.

It's not all hard work though! Apparently, sometimes he just hangs around and eats cake!

Perks of being a pilot I guess! (He was gifted a piece of birthday cake from one of the missionary kids in the village he flew to!) 

All three boys are doing well! Jayden is a very kind hearted boy. This is a note he wrote me recently.

This past week he lost his first tooth, a very exciting event for him! At age 7, he was the last one in his class to lose a tooth which has made him quite frustrated on more than one occasion. When he came home from school on Friday with a very wiggly bottom tooth he was, of course, over the moon! "Mom!" Do you have an apple for me?" He begged.

But even with all the biting and chewing and wiggling, that stubborn tooth just held on tight! I tried to remind him about the value of patience, but when it still had not come out the following day, he begged me to pull it out for him. With the help of a tweezer it came out without a hitch and I had one happy boy, who according to him, 'tried very hard not to be proud'!

With Christmas approaching, we decorated the house to make it more cozy,

The boys loved it of course! I even found a snow 'recipe'. With two cups of baking soda and a quarter cup conditioner you can make some really great snow!

We even made a snowman without our hands getting cold!

Jayden also designed his own wrapping paper, which was a lot of fun!

Justin still struggles with the terrible twos at times. Here he decided he preferred to eat the long, unflavoured, uncut noodles out of the pan.

He can be really sweet too though. Especially with his baby brother 'Zander'.

Today he payed me the highest compliment he could think of by calling me a 'good boy'! Aww.. 

Alexander is the smiliest, friendliest baby I know.

He reminds me of the quote I once read when I was a kid: "Some people look at you and birds begin to sing!" Yup, that is Alexander, or Alex, or Lex, or Lexi or Zander, for you. He has a lot of nicknames, the latest one being 'rooster' as he has this funny tuft of hair that sticks up no matter how often I try to wet it down! 

For Christmas I got two very great gifts so far! Our toilet after many, many months is finally fixed and (can you believe it) the road in front of our house is PAVED! It wasn't a long process either, as roadwork often is here in Haiti. Within a matter of two weeks we had asphalt! Here is the event in pictures:

and now.. Voila!

Jayden said it now looks like we live in California! I'm not sure exactly why but something about the black colour of the asphalt apparently! 

The new road has significantly decreased the amount of dust wafting into our house daily for which I am very, very thankful! 

Finally, I promised to share some "life lessons" I've learned during our time here so here goes: 

One thing that really struck me in the 6 years we've lived here was how people from very different countries, cultures, backgrounds and denominations could work so well together. How could people do it so well here, when back home people, cultural groups, churches and denominations often had the tendency to be so exclusive? What was the secret? I think I found the answer in this quote from Augustine.

"In the essentials, unity; 
In non-essentials, liberty; 
In all things, charity. "

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Thankful Thanksgiving

As Dutch Canadians we could have celebrated Thanksgiving on November 20 like they do in Holland, or on October 12 like they do in Canada, but instead we celebrated it with our American friends on November 27. Call us culturally confused I guess! 

Cultural confusion, or should I say diversity, makes me think of our breakfast foods. On the menu at our house you will find: Brinta, or chocolate sprinkles on bread (Dutch) eggs on toast, or cereal (North American) or spaghetti (Haitian). We also dabble in Indonesian dinners as the Dutch had some colonies there once upon time. But I digress. 

I guess the reason we chose to celebrate the American Thanksgiving holiday instead of the others is because all the other MAF staff is American and thats when Jason has a few days off. Also, Jayden attends an American school and that's the holiday they take as well. 

As we've done in previous years we took one of our MAF airplanes, and together with two other MAF families, escaped the crowded capital and enjoyed a few days in the Domincan Republic. We soaked in the fresh ocean breezes and ran along deserted sandy beaches. We swam, snorkelled and surfed.  We built sandcastles, rode scooters and read books. We jumped in the waves, watched sunsets and ate ice cream. It was wonderful! 

Justin loved it so much that ever since we got back he can't stop asking. Fly airplane? Go beach? Play ocean? 

I tried my best to document our trip while juggling a baby and toddler and bags! It was a little tricky but I did get some good pictures!

Getting a ride to the airport in the mini taxi bus from our faithful friend Dieujust.

The MAF caravan, prepped and waiting for us on the tarmac.

The boys climbing in.

Let's play pilots.

Port au Prince from above.

View from my window.

Bare mountain slopes.

Ever changing scenery.

Crossed the border.

Almost there.

The little boutique hotel we've come to love.

Wave jumping.

Justin surfing for the first time. I think he may be a bit of a thrill seeker!

A little ice cream break!

Alexander chilling in his carseat.

Pool time with Daddy!

Scooter date to a neighbouring beach!

Snorkelling fun!

Fun wheels!

And of course I spent some time every day taking photos of the changing sky as the sun set!

On the flight back I once again took some aerial photos.

Then we were back on the ground again.

One special trip memory happened one afternoon when the ocean was stormy and the waves were high.

Jayden tried to play in the waves, but they weren't very kid friendly.

After getting knocked over a few too many times he dejectedly made his way over to where I was sitting on the sand, enjoying the view. 

" This has got to be the worst beach ever!" He grumbled, his blue eyes glowering and his numerous freckles stark against his fair skin. 

"You know what?" I said. "Sometimes I feel that way too. Not about the beach today, but the times when the mosquitoes attack my ankles while I'm feeding your baby brother, or when it feels like I always smell sweaty no matter how often I wash, or when all three of you boys yell "Mom!" at the same time and I don't have enough hands to help you all at once, or when the cockroaches run over my pillow when I'm laying in bed at night. Then I feel like complaining too. But as soon as I get that feeling, I remember the Israelites as they journeyed from Egypt to the promised land. They complained too and God was not happy with their complaining one bit! The consequences of their complaining were quite serious too. Do you remember the quails and the serpents?" He nodded.

"What has helped me is to think about the things I'm thankful for instead. Paul says in one of his letters, In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  

Why don't we play a game? I think of five things I'm thankful for and you think of five things you are thankful for." 

We took turns and my list included the sand between my toes, the ocean breeze and the brilliant colours in the sky. Jayden's list was different. It included his parents, grandparents, brothers and friends. The one thing on his list that really struck me though was when he said: "That Jesus died on the cross for my sins." 

"You know what Jayden?" I responded. "Because of that one thing we can always be thankful. Everything in life can be taken away from us. Our family, our friends, our toys. But that Jesus died for us; that can never be taken away! 

Do you remember when we talked about the child martyrs in the middle east and what our answer would be if someone pointed a gun or knife at our head and said "Say you don't believe in Jesus or I'll kill you?" He nodded. (His response after much thought was. "Just do it quickly.") Well even in that situation we can be thankful because Jesus died for us. 

The "worst beach ever" now forgotten he stared with bright eyes into the crashing surf. He had a lot to think about. 

A few days later as I was replaying our conversation in my mind the words of a well known hymn came to mind. 

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, 
When sorrows like sea billows roll. 
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say. 
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

For that we can be forever thankful.