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  • Toby Banks

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

2021 has been hard.

If we focus on the difficulties and frustrations, we lose touch with the blessings God had for us this past year. For us, 8 years of separation from our girls in Haiti is finally coming to an end. This year we spent Christmas in Haiti with the five oldest girls from the former HOPE Orphanage. We moved them to a bigger apartment (where they are not on top of each other), we shared the joy of Christ’s birth together, we baked and decorated Christmas cookies, we had a special Christmas Eve outing, and of course, there were some presents. Blessing upon blessing.

We arrived in Haiti on the 18th with our biggest surprise for the girls: our daughter/their big sister, Hannah. Josh and Paige helped with the happy deception (and covered for mom when I almost blew the surprise during a pre-visit phone call). They hadn’t seen each other since 2015 when Hannah went to Haiti on a mission trip. The squeals and laughter were a joy to see.

We finished setting up the new apartment, talked about how they finished up the semester at school and how they are looking forward to in-person classes, rather than distance learning, starting in January. We remembered our family Christmas traditions from when the girls were young. They had found a Christmas tree and some lights from a missionary family that was leaving and had some decorations to put up. They were looking forward to making and decorating Christmas cut-out cookies. We made three batches but by the time they were all decorated, there were significantly less cookies than when we started decorating…

We had a special night at a fancy restaurant on Christmas Eve. The girls got all dressed up, tried some new foods, saw pretty fireworks, AND we got stuck in a very tight traffic jam before ending up at home.

Some needs and a couple of “wants” were delivered by Santa (the girls asked that we bring some school supplies for a school in their old neighborhood so they could bless the teachers and kindergarten students).

Then it was time for us to leave. Josh and Paige had travelled to the US earlier, so the girls were on their own for a few days, babysitting Josh and Paige’s dogs and managing the apartment by themselves.

Josh and Paige arrived back in Haiti today and found the house still standing and the dogs healthy. Monese summed up their time on their own by saying:

Jusqu’ici l’Eternel nous a secourus

(So far the Lord has helped us)

As we look back over this HARD 2021, it will serve us well to remember these words as we move into 2022.

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