This update has been thought about too many times to count over the last 3 months. AND since it has taken me 3 months to sit and type with internet access this could end up a book...will do my best to condense what feels like a "whole lot of life" into a reasonable length for a blog post. I have added a Photo Link tab to our Smug Mug account where interested parties :) can view more pictures of our life here in Haiti.
We hit the ground running on July 14 - settled into our new home and started doing life here. That included some cleaning and organizing of our home and repairs to our family vehicle, plenty of flat tires, frequent trips to the grocery store, getting to know the wonderful people that lived on our property hosting our first short term mission team and welcoming the kids Teacher, Heather and her family that got her settled here. Then we were all GIDDY to receive our friends (26 of them) from The Pointe in Siloam Springs. We had a God filled, fabulous week serving together in multiple settings - including Orphanages, the Maternity Hospital, Pastor Andre's church with a Pastoral Conference to about 50 Haitian Pastors, Revival meetings in the evening, medical clinic, a housing project, worship, fellowship, and a lot of PRAYER! Their visit really laid the foundation of prayer for our time here in Haiti - it was really hard to say goodbye!
We had a third short term team and the rest of our days have been spent learning how to live here and developing relationships. Noel has become an excellent driver - skillfully weaving in and out of Haitian traffic every day. It is funny how nervous I was at first and now all really seems pretty "normal." We are part of a community group that meets every week - around 14 adults and 17 kids so that is a highlight for all of us. We have trained staff at our home for the times when teams are visiting and have developed a great love for all the ladies that help cook and clean and Yodi who keeps everything running at the Guest House.
The Super Kitchen at the Maternity hospital in Cite Soleil is nearing the finish of the remodeling phase and the container with all the contents for the kitchen including the huge steam pots is currently at the Port awaiting delivery in the next few days. We have spent quite a bit of time as project managers for the remodel and God is stretching us daily in this role! We see His hand at work and Noel has lots of opportunities to encourage English speaking Physicians, and the young men working on the remodel and I (lori) have had the gift of encouraging young Moms and praying for them as they labor, recover from surgery, and some after the loss of a baby. There is also a room adjoining the super kitchen that is where all the sheets and surgical drapes are sewn and I have a special Haitian lady named Mdm Pierre that I get to visit with. She encourages my Kreyol, but also speaks English as she lived in Oklahoma for a time when she was younger. In addition - the government is building a National Nursing School on the grounds of the hospital and they are training new obstetrical/gynecological nurses there. In exchange for the use of the building, Outside the Bowl has agreed to feed all patients and staff in the hospital daily so we are very welcome there - the Medical Director frequently reminds us that his hospital is our hospital. We feel the Lord opening doors and going before us constantly.
The reality of daily life here is both wonderful and hard. Wonderful in the moments that we GET to spend just loving people. We are learning so much - every minute of the day - about who GOD is when life is HARD. The Haitian people are amazing - we know so many with great faith and great hope, they love well, they live in community well, they share everything they have, they pray hard, they want more of God, and they don't give up. We also see the very hard reality of poverty every day. The hunger, the disease, the one who has lost hope...It is a privilege to learn and love here. Our kids are the most effective missionaries, in our opinion. They have the instant connection of play and it seems most people are interested in how we all became a family. Louis is awesome as he makes friends fast - and his Kreyol is completely back:) All the kids say they love it here - they miss people, but other than that they are doing fabulous. We all miss friends and family...it is a gift to hear from you by email or facebook. We haven't had any consistent way of getting internet until today with the exception of our phones. It seems I am terrible at composing emails on my phone! The reality of living somewhere that does not have modern conveniences makes every day tasks difficult. We spent 2 days at the bank to open a checking account, 3 visits to the cell phone office, and often stand in lines for long lengths of time only to be shuffled elsewhere - not much is fast or easy here. An exception is getting a tire fixed - this is SO EASY - you can find somewhere to fix a flat on every corner which has served us well.
We have loved being in the Onaville Guest House and the generosity of the ministry allowing us to live there has been amazing. We had concerns about what it may be like to live in a Guest House as a family of 6. It has been good, but we have realized the impact of not having much time together with just our family as well as the house being set up as a dormitory, and being so far out of the city and the places that God has called us to serve. We have taken the last couple weeks to pray and evaluate where God wants us and what is best for our family and have made the hard decision to move in town. It was difficult to say "see you later" to the friends we have already made, but we will be checking in with them frequently. We will be renting a home in the Delmas area soon. Delmas is the area where Pastor Andre's church and land that we are still trying to purchase is located. It is the area that many other missionary families live in as well as where our church is located. We are all excited and also amazed at the Lord's way of directing our steps. Even though we have all been ready for our container and to get settled - it is the Lord's provision that we will not have to move our belongings twice here.
To sum up our last 3 months - or really 6 months - I would say transition and total dependency on the Lord. It is the right perspective - we are not HOME yet - we don't feel at HOME here really - and isn't that how we should be...I think it is easy, with all the comforts of American life, to get lulled into feeling like this world is our home...not so in Haiti. We are not home and we long for Heaven - for Jesus to come and dry every tear, heal every disease, and take us home. And until then we are loving being here and each day holds many opportunities!
We want to say THANK YOU to all who are praying for us - we feel those - and thank you to all who have supported us financially and encouraged us in our ministry here. We welcome any inquiries about how to be involved with the Outside the Bowl Super Kitchens or to partner with our family at email@example.com or www.outsidethebowl.org.
May the Lord bless you and keep you,
The Tugwell Family
Noel, Lori, Louis, Lily, Silas, and Esther Joy:)