I rose to my alarm clock of roosters and dogs early Monday morning. Eric was getting ready to head out the door to leave for the Port au Prince airport. The boys asked to tag along and I scrambled to find something for their breakfast in a hurry. “Cereal?” “Nope, cause someone forgot to chill the fake boxed milk.” “Oatmeal?” “Too much of that our first year in Haiti”. “Peanut butter and bread?” “Nope, we are out of peanut butter.” “Will it be just bread then?” “Eggs! We have a few eggs!” Scrambled eggs to fit our scrambled lives. Plans had changed this morning. Eric was supposed to be picking up luggage in the cargo van for the Walker’s large team arriving and then waiting with the luggage to pick up our Heart of God team arriving later in the afternoon. However, the polar vortex decided to reroute the schedules of almost everyone this week, even those of us who can’t keep ice from melting in our freezer! Flights were canceled and now the team is coming Sat.-Mon. instead of Mon.-Wed. No problem. We are all about being flexible around here. So Eric and the boys took off and I was left with the girls and our plans to prepare for guests which we could not do because food doesn’t last that long around here, nor does a clean house.
I had been in quite a grumpy funk (see part 1 of THIS post) for the better part of the last week. One more reason not listed in grumpy funk post is that my children have been out of school for 3 weeks. I love my children dearly and spending lots of time with them. But 3 weeks spent primarily in a house in a Haitian neighborhood (lots of sensory overload going on) without much electricity and not enough planned structure leaves at least half my children climbing the walls and me wanting to climb out of my skin. But today would be different. The unplanned opportunity to get out of the house instead of cooking and cleaning the morning away seemed too good to be true. I truly do love hosting guests in our home, but this change of plans was definitely what we needed this week.
So the girls and I headed out for a 3 mile walk around our community. We love this beautiful walk. But sometimes the things we see, hear, and experience on these walks take a few days, sometimes weeks to process before we do it again. There are realities that are so hard here that you just don’t ever get used to them. I think I understand better than I once did. But the longer I am here the more I understand that I really don’t know and will never fully understand.
One thing we see a lot of is naked people. The word for person in creole is “moun”. We often joke about the moun moons. I am constantly reminded of the story of David and Bathsheba in the Bible and how as a child I couldn’t quite comprehend how King David just happened to see this woman bathing on her roof. Now that is something that I do understand fully. What I don’t understand is how with so much unavoidable anatomical education going around how sex education could be so lacking…at least for my girls. Don’t get me wrong. I am VERY thankful to get to be the one who does the educating. We are somewhat surprised at how little they actually understand given where they have lived the majority of their lives. There are many things they may have seen but just blocked. They blocked a lot. We were thankful that they wanted and needed to still be little girls when they joined our family two years ago and they were definitely not ready for certain conversations. Also because of the way our girls have been manipulated spiritually and watched those in positions of spiritual authority abuse others and preach a false Gospel for the majority of their lives, we have been very cautious in giving them time to grow and discern spiritual things, the Gospel according to Scripture, and what they believe and embrace for themselves. We always hope for opportunities where our children feel free to ask questions and pray we be able to answer in the right way at the right time. But like Jesus, we sometimes have to get away and ask questions to get them to ask questions.
And I’m off on a tangent. And that tangent does have a point. But I’m having a hard time making connections. Obviously. Like I said, sometimes those walks take a few days-weeks to process.
So we set off on our walk, the girls and I. It was a beautiful day and we all remarked how good it felt just to get out. I told them I was sorry for being so grumpy lately and that I was really happy to just spend the day with them. We made small talk as we climbed the hill overlooking the ocean and came around the bend past the beach. We came upon a mother goat who had just given birth. I was excited. The girls were like, “What? It’s not like we haven’t seen a goat before.” But then the mama goat turned around and they noticed something hanging from the goats behind. It was the sack the baby just came out of. They said, “Eeeewwww! That is SO gross!” The mother goat was licking the afterbirth off the baby when all of a sudden another baby begin to emerge. The girls and I stood a few feet away watching the wondrous event. I was mesmerized for a brief moment until I heard Elita shriek, “I can’t see! Oh! I can’t stand! I can’t see!” Knowing the drama queen that she can be, I responded with, “just drink some water” and handed her my bottle while still watching the goat birthing process. When two sacks hung from the goats behind I looked over to see her swaying back and forth with her eyes rolling back in her head. I caught her just in time and made her sit on the side of the path with her face to the ocean and her back to the goats.
Esmée and I stood and watched some more and talked to Elita over our shoulders. I said, “I know we have talked about it before, but now you have seen how a baby is born.” “And it is disgusting!” returned Esmée. “And I am never having a baby! If that goat having a baby almost made me go to heaven, then I know I can’t do that!” returned Elita. “Well I think it is about time you girls leaned about the birds and the bees” said I. “Oh I already learned all about those.” said Elita. “Oh really?” said I. “Yes the birds fly…” continued Elita. “Not THOSE birds and bees. It’s an expression used to talk about something else.” “What else?” “Well, I know you know how the baby comes out but do you know how the baby gets in?”
“Um. No.” they say. “Do you want to know?” I ask. “Um. No.” they say. “Well, Dad and I think it is about time you know before someone else tells you who might not tell you in the best way. And since when are my girls who used to pluck their own eating chickens so squeamish?” “What does squeamish mean?” “It means you can’t watch a baby goat being born without almost passing out!”
We didn’t talk all about the birds and the bees on Monday and I am still praying about the “best way”. But I was reminded in those moments as I allowed myself to be fully present that God will grant us opportunities to teach our children as we walk along the way if our eyes and hearts are open and ready to receive these gifts. As we continued to watch the beautiful gift of life in our moments with those goats and talk about it this verse came to the front of my mind.
“You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 11:19
Many times when we walk along the way we get open doors to teach others children too! These boys learned that the verb “to give” in Creole does not exactly translate as nicely in English. They learned that it would be better to ask, “May I please have”. They learned that not every white person has “dolla” on their person at all times nor is it nice to ask at all times in all places to all white people. So they settled for asking for a picture (actually a few until I showed them one they liked) which was much more appropriate for the occasion. They also got to learn all about the goat birthing experience they had just missed!
As we walked home I asked Elita what she meant when she said, “that goat almost made me go to heaven” because a few weeks ago she said she didn’t think she would go to heaven and since has been studying more about that subject. She answered, “because if I went into a coma from passing out from that goat and I didn’t wake up again I would go to heaven”. I asked, “what makes you think you would go to heaven”? She said, “because I believe that Jesus died for MY sins and was buried and rose again…and I don’t just believe it but I decided to accept and trust it with all my heart”. Trying to fight the tears I asked, “when did you decide that?” and she answered, “I’ve been deciding it for awhile but now I really know for sure”. “That’s SO wonderful honey! I can’t wait to talk about it more!” She said, “yeah, I was kind of waiting till we go to the states because I figured I would get a bigger celebration there, but then I just couldn’t wait anymore”. LOL!
I wonder how long we would have gone without having this conversation if our schedule would have gone as originally planned and we had not taken this walk this day. Thank you Lord for orchestrating our days and opening our hearts to accept changed plans as gifts from you.
The next day Elita came home from school and the first thing she said was, “Mom, everyone at school kept asking me all day why I always had such a big smile all the time and I told them it is because I have the joy of Jesus in my heart!”
I pray this all over the place post rambling about rooster and dogs, what’s for breakfast, scrambled schedules, naked people, baby goats, and beggar boys helps someone else think through their days and how God can bring all these things together to fill us up with the joy of Jesus …”when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” too. As you celebrate the gift of life today, find ways to talk about His ultimate gift of eternal life that is our hope and source of joy as we walk along the way.