“When You’re Here, You’re Family”

Forgive my shameless cheesy title. I couldn’t help myself.

Cause that’s the best way to describe changes I’m seeing. In the close relationships, the ones that lift my heart up on the hard days & remind me that there are a few people that are finally building trust, it can feel like you’re family.

Trust is huge. I mean everywhere, it’s a buzz word, right?

But I’m talking trust in a country where the term has been shattered.

Here’s what it meant to me today:

I was visiting with Janine (our next door neighbor) and her cousin when Kiki got home from school, accompanied by his big cousin Bethsaida who sometimes comes home with him. After they both kissed us all on the cheek in greeting, Bethsaida came over and stood in front of me, with her back to me.

…? Okay? I’m used to kids just standing by me here, so I figured that’s what she was doing. But I wondered why she was, because the first thing you do after school is get your clean uniform off to keep it pristine. Then Janine told Bethsaida “get closer so Stephanie can undo the buttons for you”.

Then I realized that Janine had sent her over naturally (she didn’t tell me) to help her with getting the uniform off, and five-year-old Bethsaida had seen this as natural and come over. I went ahead and helped her and gently said “you’re good, go change!”

Kiki started running around (he does that) and Janine gently scolded him, “Kiki! Go over to Stephanie so she can help undo your buttons on your shirt!” – Which he obediently listened to, respectfully waiting until I said “It’s done!” to take his shirt off dramatically and run to the house.

Bethsaida was already there and they started fighting, I sat for a moment until a meltdown was clearly on it’s way and Janine was about to have to stand up mid-feather plucking (she was preparing a chicken for dinner). I went in and took Kiki out to gently tell them to just change separately, and Janine yelled to Kiki to show me where his clothes were so I could help him get a play outfit on. Walking through a door I hadn’t been to, I went in alone with this three-year-old to the back room of the home, walking through other rooms to get there. We were in there for who knows how long, as I helped him get an outfit and wondered if Janine would think it was sketchy that we’d been in there so long (I don’t just walk in people’s homes alone, and I know that I don’t let others do that in my home).

We came out and Kiki showed off his outfit as I sat back down to have Janine ask him about what he learned in school – “anyen” – nothing.

Kiki's photo skills today: getting a shot of Bethsaida after she got play clothes on.
Kiki’s photo skills today: getting a shot of Bethsaida after she got play clothes on.

She had been plucking a chicken for dinner and asking if I knew how to do it, insisting along the way that she was going to give me a big plate of the food she was making. Because of her insistence, I came back hours later after doing more rounds in the neighborhood. She was with Kiki, a picky eater, and said “Steph will feed you, then” as she asked me to watch him eat.

Okay, now I need to interrupt here so you read this story how it’s intended. Janine is NOT a lazy mother, in any way. She is my age and happens to be one of the mom’s who has it all together. She wakes up early in the morning to take care of Kiki and both sells from a stand all day, including selling phone minutes, as well as sells dinner food at night (she’s trying to start a restaurant). Kiki is her only child and he is the absolute apple of her eye, she adores him. The money she works hard for goes to get him awesome shoes, a secure future, and healthy food all day long. He loves to cuddle her, as does she, and her time is more than dedicated to him. She reflects the Haitian proverb that children are the wealth of Haiti, as that is totally how she sees her son, and she in no way pushes him off on me.

Anyways, I tried to creatively get him to eat (his mom makes amazing food, so it shouldn’t be hard) and Janine plopped a plate for me on my lap (in a basket so the heat didn’t burn my legs) as I helped him. She had even picked all the beans out for him! But he found one and called me out for trying to sneak it into his mouth with the spoon.

Kiki decided to take his shirt off in the middle of dinner. Cause....that's what he does.
Kiki decided to take his shirt off in the middle of dinner. Cause….that’s what he does.

We got him to eat the plate (minus one bite) and he went back to dancing and fighting invisible bad guys. I worked on my plate and Janine gave me a Limonade, insisting I drink it. We talked today about how we’ll miss seeing each other while I’m in Ohio in the spring. We joked about things and she both helped me with my Creole as well as defended what I was saying as her cousin threw the marriage questions at me like many others do on a daily basis.

Rice, Beans, and Bird straight from the yard! My plate was given with a basket to keep my legs from burning.
Rice, Beans, and Bird straight from the yard! My plate was given with a basket to keep my legs from burning. And hi, Kiki.

Now, my point –

First off, teams love kids, but have you ever come on a team? Imagine a kid standing still for you and waiting for you to help them with your uniform (that their mother naturally said you’d help with). You can’t imagine it, the kid would be too busy climbing on you (and getting in trouble for not taking off their uniform to climb). Sometimes I sit back and think, “I’m a white girl doing this. That is NOT normal.” I say that not because I think it, but because everyone else – including the cousin visiting Janine today – think it. They can’t get over the idea that I’m sitting down to talk, let alone the fact that Janine would choose ME to take care of the after school routine. That’s just a part of this to point out and help understand my heart, as I’m so thankful that this is where I am with my neighbor.

More importantly, let’s go to one of our favorite buzz words: trust. I said that Janine does not push Kiki off on me – and I mean it. There is a big difference in how you hand off a child, and to who….I wish you could meet Janine and see her heart (you wouldn’t quickly, she holds back), so you could really understand this friend of mine. Her sending the kids said nothing about her parenting and everything about how she views me as well as how the kids view me. I’ll repeat the idea that children are the wealth here, and it’s true! And Janine trusts me with what is mot precious to her, and on top of that for me to just walk around her family’s home alone with a three-year-old! Trust is not easy to come by, especially the kind that puts itself on the line to defend a friend in front of family like she did with her cousin today.

Going to bed thankful tonight. For Kiki’s personality, for a belly full of Janine’s rice, and for what I can’t believe I get to do. God has created relationships that seem so hard for nothing some days, and then I get to see what he’s doing from a perspective like today. I don’t know why it’s me, but I’m thankful for what He can do when we say yes.


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