Thursday, June 25, 2015

Season of Lasts

We’re living in the reality of the conclusion of our Haiti chapter. Every day now it seems like it’s the last time we see this friend, or go there, or do that, and we are experiencing a lot of mixed feelings.

Some things I really don’t mind seeing or experiencing for the last time! Like the other day when our neighbour burned several months of trash on the street outside of our house, and no matter how many windows I tried to crank shut, billowing clouds of noxious smoke poured through every nook and cranny, making it almost impossible to breathe. Then when I headed outside with Alexander on my hip to talk to him again, he had already disappeared out of sight. I remember thinking to myself that this may be the last time I have to deal with it, so not to worry about it.

Or the other night, when at 10:00 p.m. Jason and I decided to have a late night snack only to see tiny baby cockroaches crawling all over the exterior of our refrigerator trying to get in. As I grabbed the swatter and vainly tried to smack them off, Jason commented “Those all will grow up to be big ones you know?” I remember turning to him and saying; “Well at least I won’t be here to see them!” and for a moment, I was glad.

So there are times when I’m excited to be leaving! Especially when I itch all over due to countless mosquito bites, knowing that any one of them could cause some mysterious tropical disease, or when I see in the mirror that none of my clothes fit anymore thanks to a drawn out battle with a parasite. But other times I’m sad.

I’m sad when I think of the friends we leave behind, the finality of goodbye, that this is the end of an incredible season of our lives where we learned so many valuable life lessons, and the fact that everything about our lives will change and nothing will ever be the same. I’m sad and just a little afraid of what the future holds. Change is hard for me.

God know this about me though, and  has comforted me with the words in Psalm 90:1-2 LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Though everything about my life may change, He never will, and He will continue to be my dwelling place regardless of my country of residency.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Blog Post 500: Jumble

I’ve sat down behind the computer a half a dozen times this past week wanting to blog, only to get distracted or give up due to slow internet. Words have been building in my brain however, and space is limited, so it’s time to let them go. Although the internet is still pitifully slow, there are emails awaiting replies, and household chores and packing that need to be done, I need just a little time to declutter and reorganize my mind.  On the upside, I am certain I will be much more productive by the time I’m finished!

This past week Jayden finished Second Grade. This fall, God willing he hopes to transfer from the American Second Grade system to the Canadian, Grade 3. Embarrassingly, I still have not taken the time to look at his marks online, but I imagine he did well. (What happened to the good old-fashioned report cards anyway?)

Since his school here in Haiti runs from middle of August to end of May, he is going to have a loooong summer. 104 days to be exact! To keep my vibrant boy busy, I’ve come up with a simple homeschool schedule, of Bible, math, science, journaling, reading, and life skills. Life skills include simple cooking, cleaning and learning some of the basics on how to take care of his two younger brothers.   So far so good! 

While I often felt I couldn’t relate to Jayden’s personality and likes and dislikes as he is very much his father’s son, Justin, my middle boy is definitely a mini me. I totally see myself in his large eyes, his eating habits and palate, personality quirks and space bubble. This has made me laugh on more than one occasion and gives me a little more understanding and sympathy for what my husband has to put up with on a day-to-day basis. 

Justin is also my responsible one and is always quick to let me know if his two brothers are misbehaving or doing something potentially dangerous; which happens more often than I would like to admit.

Alexander celebrated his first birthday yesterday. It seems like overnight he turned from baby to toddler. He walks, he babbles, he plays with his brothers and can communicate (sometimes a little too clearly) his likes and dislikes. Seeing the changes makes me both happy and sad. It’s neat to see how rapidly he is progressing, but sad that suddenly my baby is not a baby anymore.

 While Jason has been busy flying, organizing team activities for the five guys that are here, and busy pre-selling our furniture and household goods, I’ve been busy packing.  Let me back up; two years ago I became a minimalist. When I looked up a definition online I found this: “It’s a way to escape the excesses of the world around us – the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distraction, too much noise, but too little meaning. Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essentials in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and value. “

Since then, I’ve gone through our home several times and already sold or given away anything that we had not used or worn in the last six months. One of the minimalist mottos is: “If it’s not useful or beautiful, don’t keep it.”

This has helped tremendously with packing and sorting as we have a lot less things than we did two year ago. However, since we are only taking suitcases back and space is limited I now have to go through everything and decide what is easily replaceable (casserole dishes, coffee pot, toaster, tea kettle) and what is not due to sentimental value or cost (paintings, cutlery set, Legos, souvenirs, books, etc.).

Obviously we can’t take any larger items like furniture, but it feels strange selling my living room rug and imagining it in someone else’s house, and other people using our dish set, table and chairs, etc.. It’s not that I’m really sad about it; it’s just kind of this strange feeling that I can’t put my finger on.

As I’ve been working, I feel God gently reminding me through scripture, what truly has value, and where my focus should be.

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. Matthew 6:31-32

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mission Sale & car wash this Saturday

Please come to the giant Garage Sale, Plant Sale, Bake Sale, Car Wash and BBQ lunch this Saturday, May 30  from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Chilliwack Free Reformed Church on 45471 Yale Road West, Chilliwack. 

Proceeds go to support our mission work.
The Kruls

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May Update

I can't believe May is already half over! Time is going so fast. A lot has transpired since our last update.

Exactly one month ago today, Jason turned 30. Friends of ours who were visiting from Chilliwack took us out to dinner, which was really nice.

Another birthday we celebrated was Sabboule's. He turned 8 on May 3.

He made sure that his Mom, Denise, reminded me, so I wouldn't forget about baking cake and wrapping a gift for him! We will really miss them.

Besides Jason's regular flying for MAF, both him and I have been busy connecting friends, business owners and other organizations to projects on the ground here in Haiti.

We love this kind of work and are excited to being doing it with Hungry for Life in the near future, God willing.

One of the missions I've been assessing has a school in a large tent city. It was sad to see and hear how often these children that attend the school go without any food.

The founders of the school said that some days the kids cry from hunger. My hope is that another organization that I know that specializes in feeding school children can come alongside them and help out. Our role is to play connector, which is both challenging and rewarding!

Also this past month, we made a short trip to Florida. It was kind of unexpected, but when we had the opportunity to use a soon expiring airline voucher, we took it. Who says no to a free trip right?

 It felt weird though, as usual, bouncing between our two very different worlds.

But we did have a nice time! We drove on freeways, ate fast food, shopped at Walmart, and spent a little time at the beach and pool.

As an extra special treat, we took the boys to Animal Kingdom, which was amazing!

I was very relieved to see how well Alexander traveled! Especially with all the traveling we plan to do this summer as we visit supporters and speak in various churches across Canada and the United States.

Although he already knows how to walk on his own and loves the freedom of being able to go wherever he wants, he was also perfectly content to just hang out in his carseat. 

At night we soaked in fabulous sunsets and even caught sight of the occasional firework, all which I tried to document on camera of course!

Now our departure date is looming on the horizon. With less than two months left in Haiti we have one final team coming next week before it's time to sell or give away most of our earthly possessions, pack what's left in a few suitcases and say goodbye. The last one; that's the tough one.

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Week in the Village - Alberta Team Journal 2

Below is the second Alberta Team blog post, written by Daniella M. and Henrieke V., journaling their week spent in Pignon at United Christians International. 

February 13, 2015

Ready to board the MAF plane to Pignon!

We all loved the amazing views from above; small mountain villages, lonely little homesteads scattered among the dry, barren, mountainous terrain. Looking down, we wondered how the people living in the little huts, miles away from the nearest town, survived – did they just live off the land, or did they make the long trek down the curvy, rough mountain paths to town with their donkeys to pick up supplies? 

An hour later we arrived at the U.C.I. mission. Settling into our rooms we were surprised to have power and water and bathrooms in each room!

We met Pastor Jean Jean who we all grew to love by the end of the week and soon called 'Papa John'!

We then met the school children on the mission compound.

As we toured the school, university and gardens, Pastor Jean Jean said, “It’s all God’s work. All of this happened in 10 years. We have been so blessed.”

Outside of the mission we saw some of the homes in the surrounding community.

Here a family smiles at us from their perch in front of their home.

We also took a hike to the voodoo caves.

Although in the immediate area surrounding the mission voodoo is no longer practiced, witch doctors from farther away come to use these caves and we saw some of the items they use for their witchcraft.

One of our undertakings for the week was to work alongside a family of seven to finish building their brick home. They had been trying to build it for several years already but simply did not have the funds to finish it.

It was very different than how we build our homes. All the work was done by hand. 

We sifted sand to make the mortar which was mixed on the ground. 

Then we carried the bricks one by one from a truck to the house. Next we formed an assembly lines to pass along buckets of wet cement. 

To build the roof we helped shave down logs with machetes.

The family was very thankful for the funding and help we provided. The mother served us a hot sugarcane drink and bread to show her gratitude. Here she is carrying the big water barrel we used – incredible! 

We also got to try some fresh sugar cane! 

Doing things the Haitian way! (and yes, they were full!) 

One day we visited a market in Pignon. We took a bus through a river to get there! 

Some interesting items for sale! 

Everything from horses, pigs, goats, chickens, rice, flour, vegetables to shoes, clothes, machetes and even a bakery for baking bread -  which we sampled! 

We also helped at the nutrition centres in the outlying area, since many children do not have enough to eat.

Pastor Jean Jean took us to our first nutrition centre Monday afternoon. When we arrived we were immediately surrounded by little Haitian children. We spent the next hour playing soccer, duck duck goose and other games. They were delighted to spend time with us and we with them!

When it was time for them to eat they all pulled out a bowl from their bags, many different shapes, colors and sizes and some pan lids. They handed our team their bowls and we took them to the outdoor kitchen where the cooks filled their bowls. We looked on in amazement at how much food was put in the bowls. 

What really surprised us was how these children finished it all; even the smallest children!

We found out later that many of these children suffer from parasites, due to sleeping on dirt floors. 

When they were finished eating, we handed out candies and a coloring page with a crayon. Just a small gift, but we got the biggest smiles!!

During our stay, we also learned something about voodoo and witchcraft and its effects on the people. We witnessed a witchdoctor convert to Christianity which was a very powerful experience for us. We visited this young man at his home along with Pastor Jean Jean and another Pastor. We gathered around him as he sat on a chair and the Pastors started to pray over him. As they continued to pray, read the Bible and sing, it was obvious the evil spirits which controlled him did not want to leave. He began to twitch, clench his fists and his eyes were rolling. After a while Pastor Jean Jean called his name and when he didn’t respond the Pastor said he was still in a trance and continued to pray over him. After about 15 minutes he tried to raise his hands as a sign he wanted to serve Jesus instead of Satan. However it was as though his hands were being pulled down. He finally relaxed a bit and recited parts of the Bible after Pastor Jean Jean. Pastor Jean Jean then removed some voodoo fetishes from his home along with one he had given him and we walked down the path a ways and burned them. We saw how strong the power of Satan is, but how the power of God is stronger.  

We also went on a several beautiful hikes in the mountains and admired God’s wonderful creation.

A beautiful sunset.

A picture in front of the home we helped build.

And then we had to say goodbye. We will miss the new friends we made!

Friday, April 24, 2015

MAF Family Conference

Even though I ended up getting sick at the tail end of our trip (see previous post), our family did really enjoy our annual MAF Family Conference in the Dominican Republic. We were once again joined by a team from the Rock Church who facilitated the sessions, taught us from God's Word, and helped out with the kids. 

Our focus this year was team building and we spent time looking at how God made each of us with unique giftings and strengths. Isaiah 64:8 says, But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. 

We also studied the importance of loving each other. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:34-35

The importance of forgiving one another. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21-22 

And how Jesus exemplified servant hood. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. Matt 23:11 

And of course I took a lot of pictures! It was hard to limit them for the blog but I did my best! Enjoy!

Goodbye Port au Prince.

Pretty sky.

Haiti's mountains.

Crossed the border.

Puerto Plata.

Picturesque hotel.

MAF team and Rock group.

God's handiwork.

Beautiful beach.

Rough ocean.

Fun in the sun.

Pool time.

Bedtime for the kids.

Date night for the grownups.

After sunset.

From 2015
A starry night.

Homeward bound.