We’re often asked -whether by random strangers, family, or Haitians-how long we’ll be Haiti. I wish I could answer that. There is something unsettling about not knowing how long you’ll be in a place for. Until now, I have never really understood people like my sister, who bless her heart, always finds a way to throw into any conversation that veers towards her heritage, background, or family, that she is a California girl. Even though her address has been Virginia for the last eight years, her heart will always belong and relate to the place she grew up. And she always hints about coming back, someday. While I have always thought it was just a mean tease to get me off her back when I’d hound her about moving back to California, she really thinks or even hopes that one day she will indeed find her way back to the west. And she isn’t alone. I have another dear friend, who experienced a similar thing. She moved to California the day after her wedding, thinking and hoping she’d go back to Colorado, and soon. It was a rough first year, as she realized she was actually not going back anytime soon. She was always caught in this weird place of “When are we going back? Are we actually ever going back? If so, when?” (Mind you, five years later,she is now back in her beautiful Colorado where when we visited last Christmas I finally understood why she longed to go back so much!!)
Thus she was always caught in this strange place. And I finally understand that strange place, because I am there. A place where you want to live life to the fullest right where you are, but because those thoughts are always in the back of your mind, it effects many little and big decisions. Decisions like ‘should we join this club or that thing if we might leave soon?’ or ‘how deep should I allow my roots to grow if I’m just going to have to uproot them?’ or ‘should I even bother getting deep with people if we might leave soon?’ or ‘should we spend money on this or that if we might be moving someday soon?’ and on and on it goes.
I am here to tell you that yesterday we cross a line in the sand and I’m not sure if it excites me or terrifies me. We bought furniture. Here we have lived here for a year and a half, and have only recently begun to dig some roots. Why has it taken so long? I think it started because when we first moved to Haiti we lived in a tent. It doesn’t scream permeant when your bed is a blow up mattress. The next place we moved we rented from the organization we partnered with. It was clearly not our own, and we weren’t really allowed to do much with the place, even painting it. And, because we didn’t have bedroom furniture, we lived out of our chests that we brought with us when we first came here. Again, you don’t feel like your staying a while when your clothes are in a foot locker, and your food is in tubs. So here we are now, and for the first time we do feel more settled. Right now, we are renting a house that is mostly furnished with the owners stuff, so it still doesn’t really feel like our own place, but we are getting there. Worth mentioning, is the fact that we signed a loose two year commitment with Living Water, so we do actually have a loosely vague idea that we might be here another two years. (you like that non committal wording?)
Now we are moving for the third time since first moving to Haiti. We were in Port au Prince all this week-for meetings with LWI of which I will share later-and we had a truck that had just cleared customs. We need many things for this new place, since almost all the stuff here needs to stay with the house. And so we went shopping. A task I normally would relish, but seeing as how we had a list of about 20 things, that meant we going to be making 20 different stops. The day turned out pretty good, surprisingly, and we only had to stop at about 7 places. But there we two amazing discoveries we made along the way-sratch that-three. One, Port au Prince has just about everything and that makes me jealous. Not jealous enough to live in the craziest city ever, but a little green. Two, we found a furniture store, and I walked it with my wind blown hair and hot crusty self to utter a soft cry of, ‘it’s an oasis’. It was a Jeromes in the middle of nowhere, with air conditioning blasting, complete with mock room and fake flowers. We spent the next half hour walking around in a daze, with eyes bulging and mouths open, feeling each piece of pretty furniture, sitting on every single couch. Of course everything was about double what you’d pay in the states, since it was all shipped in. So as we passed the $4,o00 couches, I resigned myself to the idea of just drooling, no buying. However, we spotted a set in the corner that was on sale. It was reasonable. We chatted, debated, and left to think about it at the next store. You can pry imagine which way we swung-me wanting it, Brandon thinking it was a bit too much. Him thinking we can just continue to use our folding chairs, me envisioning lounging on something comfortable. But after doing some more errands, and more thinking, I actually came around all by myself. I wanted it so bad, but when push came to shove, and we pulled back into Oasis Land Furnature Store, I couldn’t do it. I was too practical. Back to the question, ‘how long will we be here for’? If it’s ten more years -and no I would not be ready to hear that, so God continues to only reveal a little at a time!!!! -let’s buy that and a few more things. If its two more years, why waste the money?
We sat in the hot truck. Silent. We weighed the pro’s and cons over and over. Folding chairs and patio furniture inside wasn’t that bad, I could do that.And suddenly Brandon blurts out,”let’s do it!” Surprised, I jumped down and silently walked in behind him. I hadn’t even turned on the charm, or pleaded my case. I didn’t even try really. As we were waiting for the guys to load it on the truck, I turned to Brandon and asked what swung him the other direction, what changed his mind. He looked straight at me and said, “I don’t want to see you sitting in the one semi-comfortable chair we have here anymore, you tough it out enough here already.”
I have the best husband in the whole world.