Be Where Your Feet Are
I've always loved that quote. It's so easy to fight the stages of life. Your mind ends up dreaming of some other location - far from where your feet are today. You start to resent the season you are in, and you just wish it would be over. The scenery around you looks dull, or you even don't notice it at all. The precious people around you who are completely worthy of your time and attention get neglected because you're in your dream world. And it's far from where your feet are.
Zèzè and I just passed our second anniversary, and when we got married, I made a lot of proclamations about how the ticket I bought to Haiti for our wedding was a one way. How I would never cross the Caribbean again without him. Obviously I've had to eat my words. It takes a lot of submission and surrender and accepting the fact that this year airports have meant crying and feeling overwhelmed instead of feeling excited about being off to the next adventure. It takes being willing to accept a lot of help from people on both sides of the Caribbean and just working hard keep a soft attitude. And some things seem just a bit wrong, like moving into my childhood room and setting up my mom's old pack and play in the corner. But I love that the play pen in the corner is also a sign of new life, and it gives me faith in a God that wants to give us the desires of our heart.
And I want to embrace the stage I'm in now - the weekly doctor's appointments, the waddling through Target with my mom, straight to the baby section of course, and eating squash and sweet corn and peaches and blueberries. And watermelon. So much watermelon.
I am truly thankful for all those things (especially watermelon). Wherever you are, some things are harder and some are easier.
When I was in Haiti for the month of June, my feet got swollen every day from the heat. One Sunday, church lasted over 3 hours. It was really hard to feel like I was almost camping or vacationing in my own house... Things had all gotten moved around and I didn't seem to have a good grocery supply or a lot of motivation to cook.
But I also had a lot of great evening talks with my husband out on our beach chairs. I would go out when it started cooling off in the evening and stay out there until almost midnight... Just feeling so grateful for the breeze. We bought and consumed a whole lot of fritay - fried pork or chicken with plantains. And every night the little church next door would start up the drumbeats. A crowd would gather and sing and sway, one lady at the microphone leading them all in perfect rhythm, repeating those old French hymns for what seemed like hours. It's one of the most relaxing sounds in the world to me. Here in Louisiana, there are only frogs. But they make beautiful music too.
It was so good to go to church there again and see everyone. The ladies group even had their Tuesday afternoon service at our house one week. They showed up around 4 PM and their services last around an hour with singing, some words of encouragement, and a special prayer for the people of the house. They also always read at least two Psalms and practice the one they're working on memorizing. The lady that had the special prayer is one of the oldest in the congregation. She's such a strong woman. She's been a widow for years, but somehow still is going strong and helping keep all the children and grands on the right track. She prayed for my trip back to the USA and for all of us in the congregation who were expecting babies. Something about a prayer from someone like that gives you so much peace and confidence. The lady that had the talk read the verse that says "Perfect love casts out fear. She talked about all the fear that is in the country right now and how that we need to replace it with love and faith in God. Even love for the gangsters because God doesn't want them destroyed, he wants them to turn from that lifestyle and be saved. I made cinnamon rolls and iced tea for everyone and we used every cup in the house from plastic juice cups to goblets. And every chair we could round up was full. It was so very special to me.
The last week I was there, we had friends visiting from Brazil, a young couple and then another young married man who barely got back to Haiti in time to be there for the birth of his baby girl. Zèzè grew up with both of the guys. We had them over for lunch on Sunday and mom in law stayed home from church to cook up a huge meal.
We went to the beach together later in the week. We hardly ever get to go and do fun things like that with other couples, so it was a special day. The guys sat in the front and they could rap out in Kreyòl about man stuff and old memories while we girls sat in the back with the car seat and talked English about wife and mom stuff and everyone understood everything and there was no culture strangeness. It's not like I feel strange around my Haitian friends but it's fun to talk to someone that was raised more in the same way you were.
We pulled up to the public beach with the sign that says 100 goudes ($1 USD) for Haitians $10 USD for foreigners. So the hubbies had to get out and have a long discussion with the security guards which involved a lot of gesturing and threatening to leave and go to the resort down the road. They finally let us all in for Haitian price... Grudgingly. And we swam and devoured whole fish with plantains, the guys ate spicy, rubbery lambi (conch meat), and there was relaxing music and people to watch. The guys also had fun tearing around on the jet skis, and I got a very short ride. Felt like the baby got bounced around quite a bit, and at one point I told him to slow down. Then he confessed he was actually terrified the whole time that I would fall off or something.
We had to leave early to get past a certain intersection where a gang likes to hang out. The police station has kinda been deserted I think. It has burn marks in the front and there's a tipped over car almost in the road, so it looks scary. The police sit close by until about 4 PM in big, black armored tank looking vehicles with tiny slats for windows, but after they leave for the day, you're on your own. That road always has a lot of people selling watermelons. So I asked for one and the guys stopped and started haggling and we came away with 2 watermelons!
We ate about half of ours the next morning, and took the rest to the young couples deal our friends had planned for that evening. I went early and helped her make cupcakes and pizza. It was such a fun evening, but I felt so sad all night cuz it was my last night there and I was just wondering when I'd ever see everyone again. Zèzè and I kinda sat in a corner with another couple that just had a baby. By now he's back working in Brazil now too, so they're separated too and I'm sure they were just trying to enjoy all the time they had together just like us. Then all of the sudden it poured rain, and the party broke up and we helped everyone get home through the muddy streets because you have to be careful of flash floods at some of the intersections.
Last week, my husband sent me a video of the plantain tree in the backyard. The one at the very top of the bunch was starting to get a bit yellow and it was time to pick them. I had wanted so badly to be there when they hacked the whole thing down with a machete. I have craved fried plantains ever since.
He said oh... I'm sorry... There's gunfire in the background. Maybe I shouldn't have sent you that video. (Especially since he HAD told me the night before it was all gonna be OK by the next day.) And I just said ya.... There's shooting in this neighborhood today too. Only it's the long, single, hollow shot of a hunting rife I'm hearing. Not the rat-a-tat staccato of crazy gangsters. But I still hate the sound. Probably always will.
My brothers want me to look at their many guns... Hold them. They laugh when I say, "Get that thing out of here." And my dad is slightly offended when I sit in the passenger seat, subconsciously scanning the road. The other day he slowed down because a car was stopped on the side of the road, possibly broken down. My brain was saying to change lanes and accelerate. We don't know who those people are and the situation looks suspicious. It's funny how our brains get wired to recognize danger because of past experiences, and it's not even logical many times.
Sunday was Zèzè's birthday. I'd have loved to be with him. But I am glad that the little package my mom and I sent him arrived in time. He had a great lunch with friends, and I saw them all on video call. Our younger minister was able to come to morning church and they recorded the sermon, so I was happy to listen to it. He lives a ways from church and lately he's been stuck at his house a lot because of gangsters blocking the roads.
I'm gonna end with a screenshot of an Instagram post that someone sent to me way back in May. I found it last week and have thought about it a lot
In a way it comforts me... This role that God has given to mothers and wives. It feels doable. I've had good examples. My mom tried hard to do this for us during some chaotic times our family went through. Now I see so many of my Haitian friends doing the same for their husbands and children. But creating calm in the middle of chaos also seems so hard. It helps to remember that we don't have to create an illusion of peace out of nowhere... It's a peace that we pass along. Our hearts receive it straight from God, if we truly believe in Him. All we have to do is pass it on.