Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Little Clarification...

A few days ago, I posted this on facebook:

"I LOVE my children, don't get me wrong....but 6 months with them NON STOP...24/7 is 
making me a little CRAZY! Isn't there a dance class...or karate class...or something I can send 
them to for 60 minutes of quiet?? "

I just wanted to follow up with a few thoughts since then...

Many of you commented with suggestions on ways to have some "free time."  I must admit that I may have exaggerated a tad when I said 24/7. The kids do play at the neighbor's house sometimes, and I do have my Sunday night ladies Bible study that I go to. 

However, it has been a huge adjustment for our family to spend so much time together. I honestly don't ever recall a time when we have seen so much of each other. I LOVE it. And, it's sometimes hard. When the kids were first born and before they were in school, yes, I spent every hour with them. However, we did have date nights and occasional overnights were spent with grandmas and grandpas. And, Craig would leave every day and go to work and then come home in the evenings. 

This in itself is something to adjust to. I love my family dearly. I've said before that one of my favorite things about living here in Haiti is that Craig can work from home and the kids and I have school together in the same room where he's working. We eat our meals together every day, sitting down at our dining room table. I love the time we have together. The memories that we're making. Sometimes, you just need a break. And when I do, I go in my room, shut my door, turn on my fan, and read a book, play a game on my computer, or sleep. :) Also, after the kids go to bed, one of my favorite "getaways" is to climb the ladder up onto our flat roof, lay out a towel and star gaze. I love talking and dreaming with Craig. I love feeling so small under the vast sky. I love catching a glimpse at how powerful our Creator is.

But, this adjustment isn't just with my family...

We're adjusting culturally too. Here on La Gonave, 80-90% of people don't have a job. Most people will just sit on their porch or in their yard or outside their gate and watch the day go by. They are relational. And I love that. I thought I was relational. And I am. But not to the extent of Haitians. If you see your neighbors (or practically anyone for that matter) and don't greet them every time (even if you've greeted them previously that day) they can be offended. If you don't let them know that you're leaving after a conversation, they're offended. If they get offended, it never lasts for long and is easily righted by a simple "I'm sorry." You learn quickly that these are the only people you have. Life can be miserable if you choose not to address conflict and forgive. If you close yourself in for the morning and don't show your face until the afternoon, most times you'll be greeted with, "M pa we ou!" I haven't seen you! I'm not used to interacting with my neighbors back home on a daily basis. I'm  not even used to interacting with close friends and family back home on a daily basis. It is exhausting. I guarantee you, my neighbors have seen sides of me that not even some friends have seen. I'm not that pretty and nice sometimes :(

We also have a constant stream of people in and out of our house. We have learned that we need to latch our gate and have people knock, because we turn around and people would be on our porch (or IN our house) without an invitation or permission. At first, I was so afraid of offending, or not being accepting of their culture. But, Craig reminded me that we need to protect our family emotionally and socially too. And, he reminded me that I didn't have the neighborhood kids in my house back home every day, whenever they wanted to play. When Morgan or Jaron would want a friend to play, we would call and ask and schedule an afternoon for them to visit and play. Or, they would go play outside with the neighborhood kids. It's hard for me to tell people here that they can't come in "right now." Or to tell them, no, I can't do that for you right now. 

When we leave our house, it feels like we're famous. Everywhere we go, someone calls out one of our names. We are constantly being watched. I feel like I'm constantly "on." I have to smile and wave because I don't want them to think I'm rude and ignoring them. At first, when they would call out "Blan" - white foreigner - I could ignore them, because it was a bit more rude of them to yell it out. But when they call you by name, whether I know them or not, I feel like I need to respond. When we're on our moto, it's a bit easier because we're going quicker and we can wave. But whenever we walk, there are always little Haitians following. Poking and picking at the kids' skin and hair. Giggling and laughing and saying things that even though we're learning the language, we're still not sure are good or bad. We live in a town of about 30,000 people. Close to the number of people in our hometown. But here, word travels fast. Everyone knows everyone. We're all pretty much squished into a 2 mile square area. It's not uncommon for 10 or more people to live in each house. So everyone is MUCH closer. You don't have solid windows and doors on your house - which means you don't really have any privacy. You hear what's going on next door, across the street and down the road...all day long. I hear babies crying, screaming sometimes...I wonder why. Is it pain, hunger, fear? I feel helpless. 

I hope you don't feel that I'm complaining in any way here. It is truly a blessing for our family to have the opportunity to live here.  I'm just trying to help some of you understand a little about life here for us. There are so many things we are learning. We love being here. The other day, Jaron thanked me again for "letting us live here." We are growing. We are making memories. We are loving life. This simple life is just hard sometimes. And I wouldn't trade it for anything.


Michelle Chamberlain said...

Thanks for your open heart and words, Renee! I love you so much! ;) Seriously...what a blessing and joy for you guys to have all these experiences and challenges. xoxo

Kris Thede said...

Hang in there. The transition stage can be hard as you try to find what works. We still have some kids that come to the door during school hours and we've been here almost 7 years. Protect that family time when you need to. Keep saying the sorries and pull back when you need to. But only for a bit, pray, get some personal time, rest and then head back out into the fray. God Bless.

Donelle said...

Thanks for your honesty! It helps me know how to pray for you.

Randy said...

You and your family have taken on a request that God has asked of many us but few brave enough to accept. But your emotions and fears are still real. My prayer for you is for peace of mind and patients of heart. I understand your words and sympathize with the lack of private time. Your husband is correct on setting some bounderies. Keep us abreast so we can continue to pray for your specific needs. In God Always!!!