Why is there a picture of me on a Saturday morning in my PJs and robe scraping black off the windows of our Land Cruiser?
Well, it all began many months ago. Before I begin, I want to give you a disclaimer: Haiti, like any place, has a multitude of different facets. It is beautiful, it is difficult, it has rich culture, it has deep sorrow. I never want to describe it as a place where there is only heartbreak; conversely, I never want to describe it as a place where “people have so little, but they are so happy”. It is much more complex than that.
So with that disclaimer, I take you back to early 2020. Haiti had just experienced many months of intense country-wide rioting the last quarter of 2019. In January of 2020, the rioting began to wane, and in its place, the incidence of kidnappings dramatically increased. At night, we often heard gunshots near our home, we had friends who had armed bandits at their gate demanding money, and a child was kidnapped – taken from his mother – just on the other side of our gate. My nerves were frazzled, and I prayed that we could find a way to help us feel more protected as we went about our work.
We talked to several friends, and one idea that recurred was window tinting on our car. Friends explained that if our windows are tinted, the “bad guys” are less likely to approach the vehicle, not knowing if we have guards with weapons inside, or if inside the car awaits a powerful country leader who could take revenge on an attacker’s family. I am not sure if the way it was explained to us is accurate, but we did get our windows tinted, and the number of people approaching our vehicle did decrease.
The kidnappings in Haiti, however, continued to increase. Earlier this year, 17 people were kidnapped in a 2-day period. It got to the point where the Haitian government became all the more determined to do something, anything, to curtail this horror. So they banned tinted windows (with a few exceptions for diplomats and the like, which we are not). The thinking was without tinting on the windows, it would be easier for police to see inside vehicles to determine if armed bandits were inside, and thus be more effective in taking action against would-be kidnappers. We heard this news on a Friday, and the new regulation became effective the following morning.
When I heard the news, I began pulling off the tinting – it is something like a window cling, although stickier and a solid blackish color. And in our case, mostly just the plastic came off, and the sticky dark tinting goo stayed on. It looked like our car was still tinted after I was finished with all the tugging and peeling. The rumor mill said if you had tinting on your windows after the deadline, there would be a fine, and they would detain your driver until the tinting was off. In my case, the driver would be Mark, so I was determined to get all the tinting off in order to keep the hubby.
Since we arrived home that Friday after dark, we did not have an opportunity to purchase anything to get the black sticky off our windows until Saturday morning. Knowing that a trip to the hardware store to buy the proper tools could take several hours and may not result in any given store having what we needed, along with knowing that police checkpoints would be in place to nab those who still had tinting, we decided we needed to make do with what we had.
I had wanted to purchase a razor thingie with a handle like this:
But here is what I had:
Although the hammer seemed like a good option in the moment, I swapped it for a disposable razor (which did nothing, by the way).
After trialing many things, here is what worked, about 30 minutes per window (8 windows total!):
So this was my Saturday. Slopping Goo Gone on windows and scraping off the black with my cake server. So what is my point? I think God calls us to do important work on this earth, whether it is raising children, caring for an aging loved one, serving as a health care hero, or reliably doing some of those jobs in the background that keep the world running. But with every calling, there is some window scraping to be done- those unexpected and unpleasant tasks that come with every job. And oftentimes, we have more of that sort of work than what we thought we were signing up for.
I envisioned working as a missionary in Haiti would be challenging, but full of adventure and rewards of seeing God at work. And it is. But more of my hours are spent doing things like balancing budgets, typing up Word documents, and scraping windows. And all of it is ordained by the Lord.
“Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.”