We have had our fare share in the last month since returning to this little island. Getting resettled and adjusting to life back in Haiti has been an expected adjustment. Little things like re-teaching ourselves that the toilet paper doesn’t go in the toilet, bucket bathing outside, fighting mosquitos constantly and remembering what it feels like to sweat are among the small bumps experienced (though sweating off seven pounds of U.S. fast food in two weeks is a plus for me). A larger bump has been trying to get settled back in our St. Marc rental home while trying to work things out with the owner of this house. I have not at all nice words I could use to refer to him right now, but I will spare you. God knows and is working on my heart regarding my nasty thoughts about the giant jerk and justice factor. The owner has been promising to come see his house and the issues we moved into that he promised and we paid to have fixed in our original contract for the past year and 1/2. He lives in the states and speaks English making the situation even more ridiculous because we have been communicating with him the entire time we were stateside about a new contract and getting him paid. He refused to make a new contract nor give us his info to wire him the money for the past 5 months saying that he wanted to come and see the house first. He finally came and arrived unannounced on our doorstep one week after the kids and I arrived in Haiti.
Then he practically moved in for the next week to “fix” the issues. We were thankful for the trying to fix part but were less thankful about his brutality during the 15 + face to face hours spent trying to negotiate anything reasonable with him demanding payment for the things not fixed that we have lived with and refusing to budge. Though it is unjust and we certainly want to make sure we are good stewards with the money God gives us through support, being good stewards of our time and energy is also important. It takes money, time, and lots of energy to move somewhere else. So we worked up a contract and a payment plan (most of which had already been agreed to by the owner) and tried our best to get it to him so he could sign it before he returned to the states a week after his arrival. We missed him by only a minute passing him on the road and calling his name and phone to no avail. We were 30 min late for our appointment due to getting caught in the rain and needing gas to get back from trying to translate a contract that was his responsibility to write up in the first place. We had to go somewhere else to plug in because there is no electricity at the house. Go figure. He blames our lateness on the current ugly state of affairs not remotely taking into consideration the 100+ hours we have waited over the past year for workers to show up at the house and his own hour and 1/2 tardiness the previous week after we rushed back for the meeting at the time he had set and kept the others attending the meeting waiting as well. The slightest consideration of others has not come into play. I called him two days after he returned to Florida apologizing for missing him (even though he was at the house all week and did not produce a contract and has had 5 months to produce a contract) and explained that we would send the money as soon as he signed the contract I would e-mail him. I explained what was in the contract most of which he had already agreed to and told him we had left some fill in the blanks and had a few questions before we sent it to make sure it was ok. He of course was not ok with us suggesting anything other than meeting his demands. Eric and I were praying about what we should do for two days after that phone conversation in order to send a contract that the owner might agree with even if it was not in our favor. We were not looking for favors or justice for us at that point but just to be able to get past this issue. The day we were planning to e-mail the contract for him to sign (and then subsequently send the remainder of the money he demanded) we were served a subpoena to appear at court in 3 days with allegations that we had not finished paying from last year (we have his signature and bank statements for that) among other bogus and simply threatening statements. So Eric got to spend yesterday finding a lawyer and is scheduled to spend tomorrow going to pick up that lawyer two hours away, driving him to the St. Marc courthouse, and then driving the lawyer two hours back after the hearing. Supposedly the judge is coming to our house as well. Um. Okay. Hoping the street has electricity when he shows up so we can prove that we don’t. We are praying and asking for prayers that the judge will see the facts of the case and not just foreigners money OR better yet that the owner comes to his senses beforehand and accepts one out of the many reasonable offers we have given him. This has been our biggest bump so far the past month. We do not expect justice as we did not expect to just settle in and have everything go smoothly. Whether it is Satan’s ploy to distract us from ministry or simply another learning experience we need in order to prepare us for a future battle, these bumps don’t surprise us. But they do stretch and stress us!
“In Christ, we are a grain of corn in a clear bottle.
Satan comes like a chicken and pecks for the corn,
but never reaches it.”
“You survived.” This was what we got to hear each time we asked the owner of our rental house to consider what we have been through at our expense and his benefit. We argued that we did not pay to simply “survive” but after thinking about it a lot (not nice thoughts) I have realized that what he said is true. I think maybe he was surprised as others have been that we actually came back knowing what it is like to live this survival life. We survived and are still surviving despite lots of stretching and stress. This is not because we are super saints that love being insulted, accused, used, and unnecessarily forced to sweat buckets because the owner had the electrical wires detached but then neglected to pay for the company to hook up the meter he promised to hook up 18 months ago (in the same way he has neglected to pay for other promised essential things like windows, doors, and plumbing). Therefore, while the rest of our humble neighborhood has enjoyed some electricity the past two weeks, none has come to our house. It is easy to feel deflated and depressed in these times, but we are reminded daily to “count it all joy” and keep on surviving. There are days it feels like suffering. This is in the blessings section because it would be a blessing to suffer for Christ sake. Yet compared to our brothers and sisters around the world who are truly suffering in chains and/or facing death for the sake of the gospel, it is no comparison to our silly circumstances. It is a blessing to sweat and survive faithfully. Our sweating and surviving has made us extra excited as we continue to anticipate the day when we will be able to hook up our biggest blessings (at least in size and costs) of the month…our new generator, batteries, inverter, and one of a kind transformer! We are blown away and super encouraged by God’s provision for these things through many of you who gave money to purchase them, to the friend who surprised us by building and shipping us a one of a kind inside the house mount transformer (which fixes the voltage problem so that when city electricity is available we can access it without burning up our appliances and save money on generator fuel), to missionary and Haitian friends and workers who have helped us purchase and prepare all these things for the day we will be able to fully enjoy them! The biggest blessings we have been able to already enjoy this month are being reunited with dear friends and continuing ministries in Haiti, having sweet and servant hearted Miguel live with us and join our family in ministry for the next few months (at least). He has been a huge blessing and help with the kids in the midst of the bumps of the past few weeks. Another blessing in disguise (that we all thought was a bump) is that the Pfaff family of five who has also planned to come and live with us has been delayed due to the contract on the sale of their house falling through and fund raising being a slower process than they had expected. But God knew what we would face when we got here and it has been a good thing that they are not here just yet. We are praying to be blessed with their presence and introduce you to them at the end of this month if those plans line up with His!
Another blessing that I know many have been praying for is that we are all healthy and functioning well despite the heat and mosquitos. We do not know for sure if the chikungunya mosquito virus has complete run its course on the island, but we are counting our blessings that we have not been its latest victims.
“Don’t put your load of trouble in a basket on your head.
Put them on Jesus head.
You won’t have headaches.”
BACK UP PLANS
Of course we didn’t know any of this would happen with our house situation the past month and don’t know what the resolution will be. When plans fail due to unforeseen circumstances, it is often difficult to know how to progress beyond the daily “we survived”. Ministry has continued as we plan and pursue but is easily caught up in the daily grind. Every missionary book we have read has listed this as one of the top reasons missionaries leave the field. They tire of leading the “simple life” while simultaneously trying to type a newsletter without electricity. We are thankful to remember that while we make our plans, the Lord directs our steps. We continue to have peace in trusting that whenever our plans falter, He always has a back up plan that is always better. We have a potential back up plan for another house not far away should we end up having to move. Perhaps if that was God’s plan all along, we will soon see how much better it is! If His plan is for us to stay right where we are, that will be better too (at least once we get our generator delivered after this house mess is settled)! Prayers appreciated for protection as we pursue progress and backup plans!
Your servant doesn’t know left from right.
Even now I don’t know which one of your hands I am in.
Whether I am in the left or the right, it doesn’t matter.
I am in Your hands.