It has been said that two of the most common words spoken in heaven, especially by newcomers, are “Of course!” There are many things that we see or experience during our lives that just don’t make sense but we hope that someday our poor reflection will be made crystal clear when we see face to face. Everyday life in Haiti and the year of 2020 for the world are a couple of prime examples of things that are just hard to understand. Together, we trust and we hope and we wait. But that is not always easy either. Sometimes we need to make a way through the muddiness of life. For we Americans, relinquishing control is really, really hard. For Haitians, not so much because they have so little control of their circumstances in life anyway. While we try to make sense of how poverty can be so extreme in a place like Haiti, Haitians accept their present condition, provide for their family as best that they can, worship God (or the spirits) with passionate authenticity, and do what they need to do to survive. We continue to learn from them every day. It’s not always easy or pretty. We get frustrated often and we get plenty of opportunities to extend grace and work on our patience. They don’t need our pity. They need our love. If what the Bible says is true about the “last being first” in heaven, then our Haitian Christian brothers and sister will definitely be standing in front of us.
At times here, we feel like roles have reversed. There have been seasons of unrest and uncertainty here in Haiti, when people in the States have been concerned for us. Lately with what we are hearing from lot bo dlo – “over the water” is that we should be concerned for you there. We send prayers for strong immunity, and the best combination of courage, common sense, and kindness.
We are looking forward to heading back to the U.S. next week for a month-long furlough. We realize that celebrating Christmas with others will look a bit different this year but perhaps it will allow us to focus more on what we are celebrating and what the gift of Jesus, and his role reversal, really means for us and the world. While that might not fix anything around the globe right now, it may help things to make just a little more sense to us as we think about what it all means for eternity. Merry Christmas everyone!
Prayer Requests for this month
- For us as we return to the states for our furlough. Prayers for safety as we travel and as we engage with friends and family during this ongoing Covid-19 situation.
- For our colleagues and Haitian staff as they take their Christmas break but then start things up again in January without us.
- For us as a couple as we consider what 2021 will look like for the De Ruiters and for MH4H.
- For Haiti and its people as they continue to struggle for stability and security as a nation.
- For everyone in the world struggling to make sense of the past nine months and wondering when the familiar will once again dominate the instability.
WHAT THE FOODIE IS UP TO
Our campus is operating at normal capacity. We are grateful that our staff, students, and program moms and babies can continue to experience this normal rhythm. I have continued writing a weekly meditation for the American staff and am excited for an upcoming change. Beginning in January we hope to have Pastor Wilna write these. The logistics for this include a few more details as we will take her written words, transcribe and translate them to into an English email form. But our hope is to continue to grow a bond between the Haitian and American staff.
I have been continuing with some Physical Therapy. One little 18 month old (above pic) continues to be too fearful of me because I am white. I have brought treats and toys to try to woo him, but he wants nothing to do with me. I even tried hiding behind the house last time and coached my moto driver/friend in what to do. Unfortunately, the little guy saw me! The second little boy (pic below) is doing great and will soon be on his own. Bubbles are the pediatric PT’s best friend! One of our pastors was in a moto accident recently and broke his lower leg. I have to be honest, he is my favorite patient these days! Because I am not sitting on the ground, trying to make exercises a game, or having to cajole him into even looking at me! We can talk, he understands that stretching can be uncomfortable, and he is motivated to work on his own. My moto chauffeur even helps serve as my P.T. Assistant with some of the strengthening exercises, The two little guys have needed shoes for improved foot control and I want to say a huge thank you to those who provided these. I am also looking for some riding toys that require self propulsion for these boys as a home exercise for them that looks more like fun.
This month’s food report is less Haitian influenced and more “Walmart order- MFI delivered” influenced! We were able to make a Thanksgiving meal that had the best combination of traditional foods for Darryl and delicious salads and vegetables for me! I have learned that when a pie plate isn’t available that a cast iron skillet works beautifully. I did have to make a HUGE pie to fill my cast iron skillet, but that provided lots to share. We have had some of our American staff here this month, and it is always great to have them around. One of my friends asked me, “what food(s) that that I’ve made here will you continue to make in the US?” So far, I’d have to say Pineapple tepache, black bean burgers, fermented mango chutney, fermented carrots, and fried plantains. I will have to get used to guacamole made with avocados that aren’t fresh from the tree!
My gardens continue to improve with each effort. We have arugula, carrots, celery, basil, cilantro, tomatoes, bok choy, and cucumbers all growing well right now. I was given betrav (beet) and pima dous (green pepper) seedlings and some beautiful compost from Claudin our agwonom (agronomist). I am excited to have ready-made plants as my seed growing skills remain limited. Even though I listed several things growing, I am still at about a 50% success rate of what was actually planted.
From Haiti I send encouragement to keep planting even when it seems unproductive, and I will too! Thank goodness it isn’t always up to us to grow the produce, God uses others and His love to produce the best fruits. May the God of all growing and growth remind you of the goodness that comes from decomposition, sunshine, weeding, and rain.
This above photo is evidence of what happens when I neglect brushing my hair for the messy bun on top of the head look too many days in a row and my friends decide to improve my hairstyle while I’m waiting at the gazebo.
This past month has been really good! Busy, productive, enjoyable! There have been plenty of frustrating moments and feelings of failure as a missionary but this month, the positives definitely dominated the negatives. Among the favorite activities for me has been the weekly soccer matches for the boys in our zone. Each week anywhere from 9-17 boys ages 13-18 have showed up just to play soccer. I have enjoyed building relationships, learning their names (and nicknames (we have a NoNo, a LuLu, a NeNe, and a Beesh), and providing a positive activity for them to be active and to be on our campus. These dudes have some serious skill and they love to play soccer! Our small play area is literally the only “patch” of grass in the entire community. Often when they arrive they just do cartwheels and roll around on the grass. So fun! At the end of each match I bring them all together to say a few words. I make sure that they know that they are noticed. That they are known by name, by me and by the One created them and the world. I let them know that I care about them as individuals and that God loves them even more than I ever could. My Creole is not great so I just pray and trust that my message is understood.
As in the U.S., operating a school has been challenging here as well. Just recently we received the government school calendar and we have been able to complete ours for the remainder of 2020-21. We recorded the heights and weights (and took an individual picture) of each of our 100 students. Taking this data and comparing it to WHO statistics has shown us that what we are doing with our feeding program is working. Our average height for our kids is above the world average for kids of this age and our average weight is right at the average mark. This is remarkable really when we consider that we are comparing our kids to all children around the world in all countries (not just 3rd world countries). Bless God! Later this week we will give them each a Christmas gift (Thank you to some special friends of MH4H for providing these each year) and share with them about the gift of Jesus to them and to the world. I pray that their precious little minds can comprehend the Christmas story. I’ll be sure to include some pictures next month of this fun time.
Our community gardens are beautiful and I know that those who are participating in this program appreciate it. The same is true for our goat program. We have a gifted and hard working Agronomy staff and they truly love what they do. They know that their work is having tremendous impact on the lives of local families. I appreciate them very much!
UNTIL NEXT MONTH….remember the promises of a faithful God!
(next month we will be home on furlough but we’ll send out an email to this list and include a few pictures from the handing out of the Christmas gift to the school children as promised)