Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Year in review: 2013

The year started out in the company of my dear family, with whom I went on a week-long vacation to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park in Florida. It was a glorious, restful time of enjoying sand and sea. The peninsula is 7 miles long, and one day we hiked to the end and back. During that hike, I dropped my camera in the sand, and a few grains got stuck in the lens, preventing it from popping out when I turned it on, so it never worked again. That severely hindered my blog, because suddenly I didn't have photos. What would I do?

In the middle of the month, I went back to Haiti and promptly got involved in what I look back on as the most difficult ten days of my life. I was sent to Port au Prince with ten babies sick with cholera. I spent ten days in the hospital with them. One died. It was a time of very little sleep, surrounded by the smell of cholera and nurses who only spoke Creole and not enough supplies--but God was faithful to bring me through it and teach me lessons that I wouldn't have learned any other way.

I got cholera. I remember being in the back of a vehicle, bouncing down an everlasting dirt road on the way to a clinic. My stomach hurt with each jolt of the vehicle, but I was primarily concerned with what would happen if the urge struck. It did. I asked the guys to stop the vehicle, and I walked out behind the truck and down into a slight ditch beside the road. There weren't really any bushes for privacy, but there wasn't a soul in sight. Just as I was about to proceed with my business, there appeared ambling around the corner a lazy donkey with a Haitian man riding on its back. His stare said it all. I could just see it going through his mind: "That American woman is about to use the bathroom on the side of the road!" We locked eye contact as his head craned to watch me for every possible minute until I was out of sight, and somehow I was able to make it until he passed on around the bend. Then I completed my business, eternally grateful for billowy skirts that at least veiled the process somewhat. At the clinic, they treated me with Cipro and an IV and I rapidly bounced back to health.

In February I also had a head-on collision with a moto. Just as a friendly note: If you are ever in a car accident in Haiti, you MUST leave the scene of the accident. It's for your own safety. It doesn't mean you won't deal with the accident--you will just do it in a private way without the involvement of the mob that will inevitably gather.

March was the month we got kicked out of Club Indigo and had to move into the creche. March was the month where I suddenly got invaded by ants, began to wash my clothes by hand, filled buckets and buckets a day with water, and learned how to cook over charcoal. All very useful life skills. And you know what? Now I know how to live without electricity and running water and modern appliances. I could do it again if I had to. March also brought Emily, a new roommate and coworker who became a dear friend. We worked together to develop and teach the preschool program.

In April, I came down with a mystery sickness that I think might have been a mixture of dengue fever and pneumonia. I was lying on my back on a sheet on the tile floor under the mosquito net for days on end. My school teaching came to a halt. I didn't have the strength to lift a mop or do normal things. I did a lot of thinking during that time. I also read Sabina Wurmbrand's book The Pastor's Wife, and I realized that I had absolutely nothing to complain about. It is the story of her imprisonment for her faith in communist Romania. She was the wife of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, founder of Voice of the Martyrs. Her story showed me me that by comparison, I was living in luxury, like a king or a queen, and the change in perspective helped me to deal with the ever-present difficulties in Haiti.

May brought a bit of fun and sparkle back into life. We had an event for adoptive parents that allowed me to do some brainstorming and event planning. I also got to travel to Cap Haitien to visit some of our children in a house up there. Then I went home! Home to the USA! It felt so good to be back. I attended the Set-Apart Girl conference and had a good time with some of my Ellerslie classmates.

I bought a car (an amazing story) and drove back to Tennessee (another amazing story of God's provision), where I spent the last half of the month delighting in being reunited briefly with my family and home church.

In a remarkable and improbable series of events, I got to see both sides of the family. My brother had a graduation ceremony at Ft. Benning, which my dad's side of the family all attended, and when we got back from that, my mom and I drove up to visit her side of the family and attend the family reunion. It was so good to visit with beloved relatives I hadn't seen in a while. I felt like it was an extra-special blessing from God to give me such a gift in the brief time I was home.

Then I packed up all my worldly goods, loaded them up into a 5x8-foot U-Haul trailer, and drove back out to Colorado. I've been all over, but home base has still always been my parents' house, where I had all my books and my craft supplies and the boxes of random junk in the attic. Now that was no more. I was uprooted. It was God's leading to move to Colorado, and though he kept me in the dark about certain things until I got here, I am still convinced I was acting in obedience and following His leading.

My faith was tested when the abundance of provision that I had received threatened to trickle out. The job I had come out to Colorado for wasn't paying. At the end of the month, I went to Wal-mart to get four items, and paid $10 of my last $13 for them. "Three dollars, Lord," I said. I checked out, walked past the bank on my way out, and noticed a sign that said they were hiring. I talked to them and applied that day. That was a Saturday. On Sunday, the manager called me and asked for an interview, Monday I interviewed, and Tuesday I started. Whew! God didn't forget about me after all.

September was a stressful month for many reasons, but it also had one exceptional beautiful day. On the last day of the month, I resigned from the Haiti organization, and the first of October dawned bright and free, full of relief.

In October, God provided a wonderful, incredible place for me to live with a Christian family who had an extra bedroom. Praise God for His provision! I had been moving, transient, uprooted all year, and though this, too, is a temporary situation, it has been wonderful to have a stable, loving home to go back to at night.

Life began to steady out into a routine for the first time all year. My days began to be filled with sameness. Get up, go to work, eat, do laundry, sleep, and squeeze in a bit of hiking. I also had a lovely Thanksgiving and some delightful moments of re-connecting with an old friend, Kim.

For six glorious days at the beginning of the month, I got to go visit my sister in Wisconsin, and that was simply marvelous. I considered that my Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday with family, since I would be too far away on the actual holidays to celebrate with anyone of my kin. I came back to Colorado a bit spoiled for work. Suddenly I was bored and antsy, feeling like I had not enough to do. It is a bad thing if I get bored. If I get bored, I suddenly start thinking about going to another country, or doing something spontaneous and exciting. So I am learning, slowly, not to run away from boredom. Christmas season brought me the gift of solitude, ah, magnificent solitude, as everyone left for Christmas vacation and I got to house-sit.

Gingerbread house decorating party!

My finished house

And that's about the gist of my year.

Here's to 2014 being a year more full of Jesus. "He must increase, but I must decrease."

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