Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Trying to plan in a culture with little concept of planning

In just over 2 months I will be getting married to Calvin. I’m so excited! As I shared in my earlier post, planning for a wedding here is a little different, but it’s been going pretty well. However, as the wise advice says – “don’t just plan your wedding, plan your marriage” – we’ve been trying to do that as well. Part of that is preparing our living arrangements. In Canada, I’m a great planner – I like to know what’s going to happen and how much it’s going to cost before I do anything. That’s a little more difficult here in a culture that doesn’t really value planning or preparing. Part of this is understandable – it’s hard to plan in a country where so many things can go wrong and prevent you from accomplishing your goal. But sometimes, just a little planning would help make the simplest task easier.

Anyways, since I arrived in Haiti, I’ve been blessed to room and board at Manno’s mom’s (Mama) house. I really don’t have to worry about anything here. I get 3 delicious meals prepared for me every day, I always have company around and can go into the kitchen where one of my Haitian moms will take care of me. Really all I need to do is clean my room and bathroom – pretty simple.

But, when Cal and I get married, we hope to have our own home. We are looking to rent a house that is located very close to the clinic that is owned by a Haitian American in the States. We took a look at the house in November and it’s pretty nice by Haitian standards. It has 3 bedrooms, a large bathroom, a living room, a dining room and kitchen that are all tiled and painted. Only the kitchen needs a bit of work with some counters and cabinets installed.

When we started looking at the house in November, we figured we could get everything ready by April, no problem! But then Cholera happened and MSF rented the house for some of their Haitian staff, so our needs were put on hold because MSF is paying a whole lot more in rent than we will! We still aren’t sure when MSF will leave ... we’re waiting.

In the meantime, I’m trying to prepare and plan for something I have no control over. The house isn’t really furnished – it has a dining table and chairs and I think a little propane oven. So, we need to find some things. The other Saturday when we were in Cap we started pricing out some things. A double bed will be about $300, an apartment sized fridge $300 or a full sized fridge $600, a small oven/stove - $300 or a snazzy full sized, 6 burner propane oven for $600. We went to the docks to look at living room furniture. I would really like a couch, a North American style one – not the uncomfortable Haitian kind. At the docks, things don’t have price tags so once the vendors saw the white girl, the price was probably tripled and they said they would sell me a couch, loveseat and two chairs for $10,000 Haitian – which is probably $1300 or so US. Yeah right!! And they wouldn’t sell a couch by itself, nope you need to buy the whole set! I think our living room will be furnished with plastic patio chairs!

I would love to buy some things second hand – but it’s a great gamble here. Nothing here is ever “gently used” and it’s hard to know how “used” something is until you have it. In addition to furniture, we are planning on getting an inverter and batteries so that I can be spoiled with 24 hour lights. I go back and forth on this – I mean, I survived for a year here without reliable electricity – can’t I keep doing it?

Along with having a house, I’m going to have to learn how to manage a house in Haiti! We are going to need food, laundry, clean water, etc. And well, I haven’t really been responsible for that. I know I won’t be able to go to the market shopping by myself and shopping in the grocery stores in Cap is too expensive and too far away to be an option. I’ll have to learn how to cook here with limited cold storage capacity and access to familiar ingredients. I loved cooking in Canada, but things are just different here and take a lot of time. Because of this, I hope to hire a cook for our noon meals during the week so that Cal doesn’t go too hungry as cooking a large meal takes a couple of hours here – you can’t whip something together in a half hour or call out for pizza.

Anyways, all this to say, is that there are a lot of decisions and purchases to be made in the next few months. Along with that, I need to trust that my increased monthly budget will be met as well to cover our living and travel expenses. When I start to think about this too much, I get stressed. I’m trying to let go of my planning personality – which is difficult – and learn how to trust that God will indeed provide for all of our needs and that we won’t end up without a roof over our heads or without food on our plate.

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