Ok... Where was I...?
Christmas day in Haiti!
We spent the morning playing with new toys and trying on new clothes and then eating cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Then, I finished packing up our suitcases while Naomy napped, the big kiddos played outside and Mark threw the football with the neighborhood guys.
Oh, and there was lots of cooking going on.
For dinner, we joined the Ayars family at their house. There was a turkey (which is a small miracle in itself), cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, fresh homemade bread, au gratin potatoes, and a birthday cake for Baby Jesus, complete with candles and the Birthday Song.
We ate together, played together, prayed together, sang carols together, and laughed together. When family and friends from home are so far away, having good friends like these so close is such a gift.
Our other friends and neighbors, the Aberleys, had several family members visiting and theirs was a full dinner table next door! Still, they took time to stop by and deliver handmade toy horses, accessorized with bandanas and western hats. Fun idea, eh? Yee haw!
Then, it was off to bed early for the Aubry kids. We had to be up early to make sure we got into Cap Haitien for our flight to Fort Lauderdale...
It's just a 2 1/2 hour flight from here to there...but it feels like you've gone to another world. We came down the stairs out of our plane and onto the tarmac and stood amazed for a moment at all the tall buildings around us. Elli took a sniff at the breeze and remarked, "Mommy, the air here smells so good!" She said she thought it smelled like cherry blossoms. Ha! All I could smell was gasoline fumes, but I guess when you compare that to the smells of animals, sewage, and burning garbage, it IS a big improvement.
I knew I was missing my family... But seeing them in person really brought it into focus. I have missed them A LOT. There is nothing more precious and priceless than watching my children run with pure joy into the open arms of their grandparents.
We watched the sun rise on the balcony of our hotel room each morning. (It rises quite a bit earlier in Haiti.)
We spent relaxing days by the pool or at the beach.
Danielle had her hair braided! And, we relished the COLD morning and evening air. (Cold being below 70 degrees--it's all relative, right?)
Our girl Elli is quickly approaching her 6th birthday and amazed everyone with her new skills: shoe tying, whistling, snapping her fingers, and swimming with confidence.
We spent precious time with Aunt Sarah and Uncle Joe and very special cousins, Lily and Hazel.
And, yes, we let the kids watch some TV! Bubble Guppies, Dora, and more.
Naomy explored and experimented on the beach, but didn't venture much into the surf.
I took a long walk on the pier with my mom and dad...
We all took turns relaxing in the hot tub.
Here is a photo of Nana and Papaw with all 5 granddaughters.
What blessed little girls to have such devoted grandparents!
Mark got to see the new Bond movie one night. I got to visit a salon and have my hair cut. We had ice cream almost every day and ate delicious meals each evening. One afternoon, we spent over an hour opening and reading over a hundred Christmas cards from our church family at Calvary United Methodist Church back at home in Normal, IL. We smiled over many of the messages written within them, and cried over a few; learned news of new marriages and new babies born and on the way. What a way to feel connected with home and so many people we miss!
Our last day in Florida was too cold for much swimming. My mom and dad kept our kids in the morning while we headed to the nearest Walmart to stock up for the next few months. I can't remember the last time going to Walmart was such a thrill! (Another big THANK YOU to the M.E. group for the Walmart gift card we received for Christmas!)
We had to say goodbye to Nana and Papaw around noon, which was very difficult. We tried our best to talk them into coming to Haiti to visit us in February, which isn't too far away.
Then, we played at a park for a while and ventured over to a mall in Boca Raton. That was a big mistake. Although I was able to purchase a couple of items I'd been wanting, the scramble for a parking spot and the massive crowds of rude people had me completely overwhelmed. I'm not sure the market in Haiti would have been worse.
Our last American meal was at Chipotle--Yum. We got to sleep early... because our flight left Fort Lauderdale at 5:30 am, which meant leaving the hotel by 2:30. Ouch.
We were home to relax and take naps on New Year's Eve day. New Year's Day is cause for LOTS of celebrating in Haiti.... but that story is for another post.
What a wonderful Christmas season we had. Usually, Christmas has been about UNwrapping gifts, but this year we feel entirely WRAPPED up in the outpouring of love and generosity from very special friends and family. It's hard to express with words how thankful we are and how touched...and how loved we feel. We are so glad you're with us on this journey--we couldn't do it without you.
Peace and blessings in 2013.
Phillippians 1:27 "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel."