(“God Gave Me You” – Dave Barnes)
So what does dating in Haiti look like, anyway? Even though I never did much dating in the states, I can tell you with near certainty, it is nothing like that. It probably can’t all be blamed on Haiti, as it’s also very unique to be dating while living on a missionary compound. Either way, here’s a glimpse of what it’s like…
In the year we were dating, we went on a grand total of six actual dates. Four of these were to restaurants in town, all of which have basically the same menu. For Wilson’s birthday we took his motorcycle to a remote waterfall, and we were the only ones climbing the series of waterfalls, swimming in the pools, and enjoying the sun and shade together. For my birthday we went to Paradise Beach, a beautiful secluded place which you can only reach by boat.
That only accounts for one day every other month, so what did we do the rest of the time? The first six months we were together, we were not allowed to go indoors at COTP and had a short time frame between when he finished work in the evening and our curfew of 10pm. We spent many evenings in the early months sitting on the playground together, talking about anything and everything. When it got rainy, we would go to the preschool, which is open air but has a roof. I remember the first time Wilson was allowed in my apartment! What fun is was to cook dinner together and sit on a couch instead of a wooden bench or concrete floor!
We went to church together on Sundays, often taking one of the kiddos along with us. I’ve always thought that seeing a guy interacting with a child is the equivalent of a woman showing up in lingerie. It just doesn’t seem fair that they can do that out in the open, but he had me hook, line, and sinker! Many of our nights together consisted of doing med rounds, me checking in and giving the kiddos their medicine, Wilson playing and cuddling and being tackled as we worked our way through the rooms. He knows these kids almost as well as I do and I love him for that.
There are so many other things I love about him, too. Do you mind if I brag for a bit?!
He is exceedingly patient, more than I’ll ever be. He taught me to drive a manual and to drive his motorcycle. Even when I was stopping traffic, he was never impatient or embarrassed. His life is ruled by Christ, not by Haitian culture. He has never resembled some of his counterparts who think infidelity and laziness are normal and acceptable. Every other Haitian will tell me not to cry because it gives me “bad blood” but even before we started dating, Wilson would just give me a big hug and tell me it was going to be okay. He loves to cook and started Saturday night BBQs as a way to bless both me and my roommates. He is motivating and supportive in small things like getting the dishes washed and in big things like setting aside time for grad school. He loves his own family and he loves mine. Phone calls to the states are usually prompted by Wilson who will randomly say “I miss mom and dad. Let’s call them!”
I could go on…okay, I will 🙂
He listens and is open to change. When we first started dating, Wilson always called me pretty. I don’t know how you feel about this word, but in my mind, your mother is pretty, that floral fabric is pretty, but your girlfriend? There are better words! I asked him if he knew that there are other English words for the Kreyol word “bel” and that they represent increasing levels of beauty. He replied that he did and that he thought pretty was the best. Oh, Wilson, please talk to Nick or Bill or someone who can teach you new words. Since then, he often uses beautiful or gorgeous, with a sparkle in his eye showing pride that he remembered. He buys me flowers, which actually have to be ordered from the Dominican Republic. Wilson can fix or build anything! Did you see the photo of the grad school desk he made for Valentine’s day? He even took the time to fix a little retractable tape measure that I really liked! He is so smart and often finds the small problem that no one else could see to fix the generator or a vehicle. He offers to give me massages and never asks for one in return (don’t worry, I give him massages too!).
Never mind our G-rated start to dating, it was probably good for us. Don’t worry, mom, we haven’t progressed much further than that! Not physically, anyway. In the last year, God has formed in us a bond that can never be broken. It was because of this I knew a proposal had to be coming soon….