This morning I woke up and the house was pleasantly cool. This is a rarety. I decided to break out my horded stash of Starbucks Via Ready Brew (if you are ever at a loss for a gift idea this is a hint). I was determined to enjoy my morning coffee before the dreaded sweating began. My sweatlessness this morning is tributed by two factors. One is that we had city power last night and our two working air units and fans were exercising at their utmost capacity. The other is because after the entirety of my lifetime (or at least since I can remember) I have relented in my opposition to cereal.

I suppose my relentlessness is my mother’s fault. The only times I ever recall eating cereal as a child were on Saturdays when we were allowed unsweetened Shredded Wheat which we decorated with raisins, grapes, or bananas. I visited my grandmother in the summers and felt I was getting away with some vile sin when she poured me a bowl of Rice Crispies that actually crackled in my mouth. I could barely contain the guilt of accepting a spoonful of sugar but then would think of Mary Poppins saying that was ok . Of course, this was when my parents only had two children instead of five. I’m fairly certain my youngest three siblings have never felt such guilt. Mom was slowly worn down. I feel I am becoming my mother. Sigh. Sincerely I intend only positive connotations…mainly because I am missing her so much. 

I think I just don’t like cereal. I know I used to but I haven’t for a really long time for no other reason than it makes me feel yucky. I had heard complaints from Haiti missionaries before we came that cereal is really expensive to buy here. This was of no consequence for me since I could’ve cared less about buying it. It isn’t just the sugary kid magnet cereals that I detest. I don’t mind a little handful of Cheerios, but I don’t like it with milk. I like milk about as much as I like cereal. I remember the first time I allowed my firstborn to have cereal with milk. Back then I must have assumed he had the same aversion. My sister was visiting and had brought her own box along for my niece who is four years younger than Ethan. It seemed the right thing to do to just go with the flow than to continue in my unrelenting quest for optimal health which in my opinion discluded cereal. I feel certain someone somewhere had snuck my child cereal either without knowlege of my aversion or blatantly disrespecting it, but they would have to live with that guilt, not me. 

Cereal did eventually become a part of our lives especially after my kids started school. But there were serious limits. My boys knew better than to ask or even glance at all the sugary cartoon faced cereals that graced the right side of the HEB isle. Oh no. They had been thorougly warned that everything on that side could be a potential killer. They had argued with that once or twice but never could prove that if those cereals did not kill them today, they could kill them slowly…eventually. In hindsight I cannot believe that I would use such arguements for such things as cereal even if I believe it could be true. I certainly cannot imagine having that argument in the place I am now living. But back then the boys were happy to choose from the few boxes of cereal on the left hand side labeled “whole foods, health foods, or organic foods”. Eventually manufacturers figured they could help out unsuccumbing moms like me by disguising healthy with kid friendly advertising. This charade went on for years and I would have been happy for it to continue. 

This post is going somewhere. Maybe. Maybe I just needed to confess my succumbing and answer questions we get about power sources and other tidbits about life in Haiti. Some people ask if we have a toilet. This post is not about that. But yes. We do. Two actually. And they flush. But we do not have hot water or decent water pressure which makes cold showers last longer than we care to live with…but we do anyways. Life goes on. We stay clean enough. We don’t like to dwell on how much we do miss high pressure hot water showers. And baths. We really miss baths. 

Maybe this post is about missing. Sigh. This is not a good time for me to talk about that so I will get back to the last point which I think was power sources in Haiti. Or maybe it was cereal. Whatever. Let’s talk about power sources.

We have three sources of electricity in Haiti. Most of the population does not have access to even one power source. We try to remind ourselves how blessed we are every time the lights come on…well at least that is the reminder we shout at our kids in the frequent frantic search for a flashlight. But it is hard to feel blessed when not one of the three is working and we are just as hot as the rest of the population…maybe hotter because we are blessed with a kitchen and a stove and have glass paned windows that don’t let in the breeze (but do keep out bugs). 

I’m trying to get to the point of my succumbing. 

Our power sources are often unreliable and have especially been so the past few months. This has slowly been wearing me down. It started a few months ago when a rotten thief managed to steal all ten of our outside batteries that charge our inverter which gives us lights and fans. The security company was held responsible and had to pay the $1,500 to replace the batteries. It took a few weeks to get them up and running again after installing them into a locked iron cage so that they will stay put. The campus we live on has a big generator that is turned on during certain hours of the day. The generator gives hot water (to others lucky enough to have it) and air conditioning (to those who have units…we have them in our bedrooms but not in our main living areas). Sometimes when the generator is not running, the EdH (Electricite d’ Haiti) that provides city power can be turned on IF it is functioning. We can only use plug in heating sources such as coffee makers, toasters, hairdryers, haircurlers, etc. if the generator or EdH is on. Otherwise, there is a strong potential that ALL the power in the house will be blown out for hours. We have had this happen in the past (usually due to the female members of our house including myself and our hair needs) and it makes for much unpleasantness. Times of recalling our blessings usually do not happen when the power is treated with such neglect and everyone suffers because of one person’s forgetfulness. Everyone who lives in or visits our house is adamantly warned to check for the green light on the air unit before using a heating element.

Our kitchen is an add on to our house which used to be the art and music classrooms for the school. When I say “add on” I mean that literally in every way. A hole was cut out of the wall, three sides were attached and the roof was extended. This is evidenced by the fact that the boys bedroom windows which used to be outside windows) are above the kitchen table. We love those windows. Not for their aesthetic beauty (which the entire house lacks entirely) but because the boys have a bad habit of locking the door with no one in the room and because the kitchen/bedroom windows are an allowable climbing outlet for Evan who has great need of such. 

I digress. Again.

The point is that the house was never meant to be a house and the add on kitchen has serious issues with the stovetop/oven being in use all day long. Or at least I have a serious issue with it. You see at all times in Haiti a large majority of the population is busy doing two things…and they do these two things ALL DAY LONG. The two things they busy themselves with are hair and cooking. I have spoken about hair here. I can deal with hair. What I cannot deal with is cooking over a hot stove in a burning hot kitchen all day long. I like to cook only a little more than I like cereal. Our girls however like to cook as much as they like to breathe and they like to do it as often. If there is nothing cooking on the stove they are forever asking what will be cooking and how soon they will be able to see it cooking. Think about how many times you pop food in the microwave or run through the Chick-Fil-A drive through, or go out to eat. Now imagine your life without any of those things. Imagine your life with 4+ kids (we always have plus in our house….always) and how much food they consume and that your stovetop must cook 90% of it. Now imagine doing this all day everyday in a airconditionless kitchen. If you can imagine it, you will understand why after 10 months I now could care less what sugary cereal my children consume in the morning. I have succumbed to many things I never would have if it had not been for Haiti. Sometimes I feel like I was a much better mom before we moved to Haiti. But when it comes to cereal choices, my children will probably disagree. 

At first I tried to buy the healthiest $5-6  box of cereal (that’s how much they cost here) I could find. The ones I actually deem healthy and used to buy cost twice that much here. Then I gave up on my version of healthy and just went for the cheapest box of Cornflakes I could find (all cereal is called “cornflakes” in Haiti) but a generic brand of actual Cornflakes is also the cheapest and sometimes will have a bottle of hot sauce attached to the top as a bonus buy. Cornflakes with hot sauce. I’ve seen stranger things here. The problem with Cornflakes is that one of my children refuses to eat it. She usually refuses to eat anything other than eggs, sausage, hotdogs, spaghetti, chicken or rice and beans for breakfast. All of the above require usage of the stovetop. I beg for an alternative. Much disgust ensues over suggestions such as bagels in the toaster oven for breakfast. I have met my match. Except she is way more stubborn than me. Tonight we made baked potatoes for the first time in Haiti (only because they could bake while we were outside and then we could eat them outside which is at least 20 degrees cooler than the kitchen). Stubborn child refused to take a single bite. They were really good baked potatoes. All the other children including our other Haitian daughter and our Haitian + ate every single bite (even though Haitians have a strong aversion to potato skins and always peel them off…but this time they didn’t). While I was inside hot kitchen getting an ice pack for a soccer player that hurt his neck, Eric tells miss stubborn that if she doesn’t try a bite then she will not eat any sweet snacks or deserts for an entire month. I don’t think she knows how long a month is. I don’t think Eric knows how long a month is either. This is going to be a VERY long month. 

But because of stubborn child I have proudly succumbed to purchasing a variety of “cornflakes” that she and every other body in the house can choose from in the mornings so that none of us have to succumb to sweat before lunchtime (at least at the fault of breakfast). It doesn’t always work out that way but I am real thankful for the days we have fans all night and nothing but “cornflakes” in the morning! 

Never would you have seen this in my house before Haiti. 

Summer Lovin’ in Haiti

The Ream Team
Summer 2012

T.E.A.M. Truly together everyone achieves more. As we write, different teams in different sports are trying to win the championships in their respective sports. It is exciting to watch as the best teams work together to achieve more. Each role player is watching film and making sure they are prepared to do their part by helping to make their team successful. Thank YOU for playing your part on our team in Haiti. It is very beautiful to see the body of Christ team up to make an eternal impact around the world.
Many of you pray on a consistent basis and it has been amazing to see God open doors of ministry inside and outside our school this semester. Thank you for doing your part and praying for us. Please keep praying. We truly believe the best is yet to come.

Some of you are faithfully supporting us financially and enabling us to eat and have a roof over our heads. We are very blessed to have seen God take care of our basic needs this year. I truly mean this. A couple of times we have wondered where our next meal was going to come from and a couple of you made a deposit into our account and we praised God for you and for Him providing through you. Thank you for being that role player. May God continue to bless you as you are obedient to Him.

One man outside of our gate at school has worked in the same spot for 7 years. We invited him and his friend over for a meal. He told me that was the first time anyone in 7 years had invited him inside the gate, not to mention to their home for a meal. We have enjoyed building these relationships and could because of YOU, our teammates, in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A number of college age and young adult men and women have sought us out over the last couple of months. It started with sharing the gospel with 12 guys. Some of these have continued to seek out a relationship with us and visit our house each week. This has opened the door not only for discipleship but also to speak at a language school close to our home and share the gospel with about 40 students at a time. Please pray for wisdom and direction for what God could be beginning through this open door.

We are continuing to work on Creole so we can have the deeper conversations of faith and life with so many more people who do not have a clear understanding of the gospel. I worked with 70 plus students in getting them to think about the gospel. The students have written down at least one person they know who needs to hear the gospel. Now we are all praying and preparing to share our God story with our one. Please pray for the students as they are continuing to be challenged with the gospel and its eternal impact on them, their family, friends, country and world. Thank you for being a part of OUR team in Haiti.

My favorite of many more opportunities to share the gospel came at the end of this school year. One of my stated goals before coming to Haiti was to be able to share the gospel completely in Creole before the end of the year. That opportunity came and we are so excited to see God become everything to this young man. He has a heart for people to know how they can have eternal life. Yesterday he asked two people very dear to him if they had a relationship with Jesus Christ. They knew the Savior and that brought much joy to him. His parents both died in the earthquake and he has been separated from his siblings. He was unsure if his parents knew the Lord and this was one of his first questions to those who knew his parents. Yesterday he told me that he wanted to make sure the young people in his country know that Jesus Christ is the way to have eternal life…it does not get much better than this folks!

We love that many of you have partnered with us in a variety of ways for the sake of the gospel in Haiti and around the world. I hope this has brought a smile and tears of joy to know God is using YOU in Haiti. There will be Haitians in heaven coming to thank you for feeding them, giving them a drink, praying for them and helping the Ream family to live, teach, and be faithful to share the gospel in Haiti.

We had originally hoped to return to the states for the summer months with our entire family. We had previously planned on this because we thought surely our girls would have their passports and visas by now and the break from school would allow us to leave work in Haiti for the summer. We left a lot of loose ends back in Texas because the doors opened for us to come to Haiti so quickly. Renters have moved out of our house, new renters moved in (but we are not sure how long they will be staying because we thought we were coming back and had that arrangement), family members had to move into a much smaller space and relocate our personal stuff we were storing there, 2011 taxes have not been accomplished, financial support needed to live in Haiti has not yet been raised for 2012…those kind of loose ends. Those were the things we were planning to tackle when we returned for the summer months. But those are not the things we were looking forward to. Longing for the day we would reunite with all our loved ones in Texas and Illinois is what we were mostly excited about this summer. When it became clear that our hopeful plans were not to be, we asked the Lord what other plans He had in mind and that we would be just as excited about staying in Haiti for the summer. We know the loose ends will continue to unravel but we are trusting the Lord’s timing and provision and doing all we can from this end. We dearly miss our family and friends but our hearts have been so encouraged because of all those who we have been able to see in Haiti! 

Just because school is out for the summer doesn’t mean there is nothing to do around here. We are excited about this time to get to know our neighbors better, work on Creole, visit churches in our community so that we will have a better knowlege of churches we can recommend to students/families (our little missionary fellowship house church is taking a break for the summer because most everyone else is traveling), spend time with our family, work on all those loose ends, prepare to teach upcoming classes, continue to work toward passports and visas for our Haitian girls, hang out with seasoned missionaries, hosting teams, encouraging adoptive families, assisting in various children’s ministries, womens ministries (KOFAEL), along with all the Haiti craziness that presents itself daily!

Because we are unable to come to the U.S. this summer to raise prayer and financial support for all that God has us doing in Haiti, we ask that you would consider a one time gift, or become a monthly support partner with us in Haiti. We are excited to watch and see how God will provide for us as He has faithfully done in the past. The truth of the situation is this, we are under budget by $1500/month for our basic essentials (meaning that is the bare minimum we must raise very soon). This does not include insurance, ministry expenses, or a vehicle. We would love to be able to travel more and accept offers we have had to serve in remote areas of Haiti, but we have not been able to afford the expenses to do so. One thing we really need is a reliable vehicle and the support to keep it reliable (Haiti roads are hard on vehicles). Access to rent a vehicle is not always easy nor is it inexpensive for our family of six and our many regular visitors. We would like to purchase a vehicle soon. Please pray and ask God if He would have you partner with us!

Here are some recent family pics we took in May at the beach. We were blessed to take some friends and their adoptive kids along with us and stay in a dear friends beachside apartment. The Lord provides in many ways! We are lovin’ our summer in Haiti!

Ethan and Evan

Daddy and his girls

Mommy and her girls

The boys had no interest in taking any more family pictures!

Our beach beauties

Elita Marguerite and Esmée