Thursday, August 26, 2010

Love Letter to My Wife From This Island Paradise

Day 4 continued (Wednesday, Aug. 4)

Leogane, Haiti

My darling Susan,

Here, I am a quarter of the way around the world, slaving away in a tropical paradise, and I’m feeling sorry for myself. My wife is not here to share the experience of working in 95-degree F temperature and 80 percent humidity.

Today, as I watched our team care for the little children, I thought, “Suzie would have fit right in.” You would have been such a great lover of these orphans. You would have been a great hugger. You would have been an awesome wiper-away-of tears. You would have taken lots of pictures of the kids. You would have let the Haitian teenage girls braid your hair. You would have laughed with them. You would have cried with them. I missed getting to see you do what you do best, which is to love other people. I get to feel that every day, but these children have never felt it. They missed out.

Four and a half years ago, we went on a romantic vacation together in Hackberry, Louisiana after having dated for six months. We were on a mission trip to roof houses, and you wanted to be up on the roof with me and the other men on our team. You insisted on carrying your own weight, and you did.

Do you remember the day when the church from Mississippi joined us to roof First Baptist Church? Their under-their breath comments about you belonging below in the kitchen were not so under their breath. (Little did they know that I was the one who spends so much time in the kitchen!) The comments from those good ‘ol southern boys were beginning to bother you, and you asked me what to do. I told you to do what God tells you to do, and you stayed on the roof. The tomboy in you always wanted to play with the boys and not with Barbie dolls with the girls.

The other men in our group stood up for you to those country bumpkins. “Suzie’s a hard worker. Leave her alone. She’ll pull her own weight,” the men from our church said.

They left you alone, because they realized the spirit of faith gave you just as much energy as any one of them. Or maybe it was because you outworked a few of them.

A little while later, the pastor of the church sidled up next to me, pulling nails from the roof. We struck up a friendly conversation, and he asked me: “You planning to marry that gal?”

I stopped working. “Yes sir, I believe I will,” and went back to work.

“Good, ‘cause you’re a fool if you don’t. My daughter’s just like that. She goes on mission trips like this and she wants a hammer in her hand. If she were here, she’d be up here on this roof, too.”

That day, I knew I wanted to marry you. That was February of 2006. A few weeks later, I asked your mom and step-dad for permission to marry you. It took me another six months before I asked you to marry me and another year before we actually married, but that day on the roof I knew you were the one for me. I had been single for 13 years, because I knew I wanted to marry someone who had a heart to serve God as I did. You were worth waiting for. And, the fact that you were pretty darned cute didn’t hurt, either.

I always enjoy serving the Lord a little more when you are beside me, whether we’re distributing food to the homeless or cooking meals for people in the church. I like that feeling and look forward to feeling it for another 30 or 40 years with you.

So here I am in Leogane, Haiti, working on our church’s construction team, and I’m sad because my partner is back home. I know you wanted to be here, but the timing just wasn’t right for you this time. I know that God opened all the doors for me to come, but closed them for you. Know that I always want you beside me. I love that you care so much for people like the Haitians; I know you are praying for me this week (that I won’t bash my thumb with a hammer, no doubt). We believe in helping those who can’t help themselves. It’s who we are.

Right now, that’s the Haitians. In a couple of years, another disaster will strike some foreign land, and we’ll talk about going and pray about it. I know we will have many more mission trips to take before we die. Someday, I’m sure you’ll come to a place like this without me, and you’ll miss me in the same way I missed you this week (you better!).

It’s getting late, and it’s time to go to bed, so I will be refreshed and ready to go at 5 a.m. tomorrow. I wish you were here beside me, sweating in this tiny hotel room on this island paradise. But then, if you’d come, you might have fallen in love with one of the little buggars and wanted to adopt one, and you told me not to bring one home.

Love always,



Caption: Bethany, a college student at Indiana Wesleyan, spent two weeks of her summer vacation in Haiti, caring for the children at the orphanage.

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