Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why I have not made dinner

Ben will be home from a 3-day trip - to the North, to film 2 microcredit program graduations for Fonkoze - in about half an hour. If I were the person that I wish I could be, I would have dinner on. But since the 1/2 pumpkin in my fridge that I was planning to transform into soup turned out to be moldy because we've had almost no electricity and I have no creative energy (or any kind of energy, for that matter), dinner is not on.

I am tired.

- tired of trying to function in a language that I can't fully speak.
- tired of being stared at and/or talked about everywhere I go.
- tired when I have to communicate with a Haitian coworker that I like and respect and am supposed to work closely with, but with whom I JUST. CAN'T. communicate well.
- tired when the market ladies that I always buy produce from ask me for food distribution cards and here I thought that since I buy my food in the street market and speak enough Creole to shop in the street market and have lived in Haiti for almost two years, these women view me as a person and not another potential white-skinned benefactor.
- tired of being hot when it's still only April.
- tired of my hand-washed clothes being stretched out, of having to wear mosquito repellent at home and of dealing with tadpoles in our water cistern, cockroaches, ant nests and an infestation of baby tarantulas.
- tired of my neighbors dropping by with no warning.
- tired of feeling guilty for all of the above (and for not being a kinder, more compassionate and more patient person).
- tired of people thinking that I am some kind of hero for living and working here.

I grew up in Cameroon [grew up = 18 years]. I have spent 20 out of my 27 years being stared at. I KNOW all about different cultural approaches to money and all about living in a relational culture and a tropical culture and yet it still reduces me to tears when someone in the market asks me for money. I still forget to ask my coworkers everyday how their families are and sometimes forgot to greet every single one of them individually. I still would rather come home at the end of day, lock my gate and not visit with my neighbors. I have not cooked dinner - because cooking dinner requires arguing over prices in the market (something that I usually love to do) in the hot sun and making something from scratch (which I also usually love to do) by lamplight. Most days right now, I have almost no patience and even less energy.

Ben doesn't care that I haven't made dinner. Here's to an amazing, supportive husband who doesn't expect me to have cooked for him when he comes home from a 3-day trip and without whom living in Haiti (or anywhere else!) would be much, much harder.


Listing Straight said...

I have no answers and nothing to offer in the hopes of making it better.

I can only tell you that I hear (heard, read) you.

Donna Hildebrand said...

This was eloquent and very human. You give me insights into Haiti from a North American-woman's perspective that I really value. Thanks, Alexis!

nerkert said...

Sweetie, for the first time in awhile I can say that I understand what you are going through, having gone through such periods myself in Cameroon from time to time. I'll phone or email more. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Tara said...

dinner is overrated. we're reading and praying for rest and pockets of some sort of fun for you guys. if i saw you - i promise i would not stare.

Fred and Jean said...

How grateful we all are that when we hit bottom there is One who knows our frame and knows our weaknesses and desires to respond when we cry out to Him...the love of Jesus for each of us has our pain and anguish embedded in it and His ministering heart and hands to us always takes place in full knowledge of our cries both audible and unspoken. We will pray you both allow Him to embrace you in your ongoing tears and joy as you minister in a truly broken country with people He loves dearly...G-Dad

Jessica Thommarson said...

Sweet friend. You are a hero just for being able to honestly share these struggles with us. I know that I would probably have left Haiti about a year and 8 months ago if I were in your situation. And yet you continue to press on and fight the good fight. I am proud of you (and Ben)! I'll be praying specifically that your language skillz (that's right; I said skillz) will be sharpened & that the Lord will soften the hearts of your neighbors & vendors to see you as a person... and that He can open up opportunities for you to build relationships not based on skin color with them. Be strong and very courageous!

Rhonda said...

Thanks for sharing this Alexis. Your honesty is appreciated. I've been thinking of all of you often since my return home. Returning to Haiti for two weeks was a gift to me, but being there day in and day out is wearing. I remember this only too well from my MCC term and hold you in my thoughts and prayers.

laura said...

I love you both.

Megan said...

Everyone has bad days - life is rough! I have hit places like that so often where I look at my day and think, "I could have dealt with that so much better - I could have been sweeter, more patient, more enthusiastic, etc." I'm not living in your shoes, but I hear you! Thanks for being honest - I think you are very normal and are most definitely not failing at anything! Some things in life really are overrated and should just be let go of. I'm glad you and Ben have each other. Thinking of you, Megan

Anonymous said...

You're never going to be Haitian. You'll always be a blan. There's no changing it, at least probably not in our lifetimes. You might be tired of it, but don't start to resent it. This is what it means to live in a poor country like Haiti.

"- tired of people thinking I am some kind of hero for living and working here."

I feel you on that last one.


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