One of the best things about being down here in Haiti is seeing our All Things New kids interact with Sophie and Elijah. Elijah is 18 months old, and while he cannot say each of the kids’ names yet, if you say “where is” and then name a child he can point to every single one of them. Sophie, on the other hand, I am pretty sure could name all 21 of our kids without pictures and she loves all of them. You may remember the video of Sophie hugging all of the kids when she was just learning to walk or the recent video we posted on Facebook of Elijah kissing Mvinsley when he pretended to cry. Those videos are not rare occurrences. In fact, there are so many moments like those almost every day that we could not come close to capturing all of them in video or picture. Just yesterday Sophie jumped into the middle of a soccer game with Maekin, Apolon, and Tony and they let her play like she was just a part of their team. Elijah, on the other hand, would not kick the ball but would instead bend down and hit it with his hands and everyone laughed every time he did it.
There are so many of these stories like when Sophie sits in Malayika’s lap every time they watch Elmo together, how Elijah clearly loves Shinaider more than anyone else and will run to him across a room, the fact that Sophie’s best friend is a 45 year old Haitian woman named Madam Beni, or how they both believe that Lener can find anything for us no matter what it is (most recently Sophie told us that he was going to buy her some stilts from Target). The truth is, there are many very difficult aspects of raising children here and especially a 2 year old, a 1 year old, and a hopefully soon to be with us 4 month old. At the end of every day everyone is hot and worn out and things are just more stressful in general. Jess and I have recently discussed how different things were when it was just the 2 of us and how much less stress and worry there was coming down to Haiti. It is funny, after just 3 years I can barely remember coming to Haiti without Sophie. I truly believe that having children has increased our ability to do ministry here and even in ways that we probably do not even comprehend yet, but it is also really really hard.
At the same time, there is an incredible beauty to raising children in a different culture and in a different country. Aside from the stories I just mentioned, Sophie and Elijah will have an experience that very few people around the world have ever had. They will, more than likely, speak at least 2 if not 3 languages. They will have friends and family from all different situations and walks of life. In fact, one of the kids that they play with the most right now (Mvinsley) has the same name as their grandmother…Mimi, and this can definitely be a little confusing. I hope that the Gospel will be at the center of their lives, that they can see Jess and I minister together, that materialism will be easier to combat, that the friendships that they make will last for their lives, that they learn to be selfless and humble, and that they live their lives for Jesus and for others. Sometimes being here is really, really, really hard…But it is also one of the biggest blessings GOD has given our family.