Thursday, July 18, 2013

Haiti Day 6

It's the last day in Haiti. We actually slept in again. If you call 8am sleeping in which I normally do not.

The tropical storm turned out to be a dud here in Haiti. We had some wind one night and it was a cool 90 but that and some rain was the extent of it.

We split up some of remaining snacks and stuff for Boss and Leslie to have. Basically anything we wanted to leave, snacks, clothes, bedding and the like.

It was nice to be able to say thanks to them for treating us so well and taking care of us on this trip.

Morning was basically packing and breakfast. I had a full size suitcase I wasn't going to use on the way back so Jeff and Kara will.  That way they don't have to cram their suitcases quite so full.

We all ran around trying to make sure we didn't forget anything and trying to pack plus ready ourselves for this last day.
The plan was to do a little sight seeing and then hit the worksite and be at the airport by 1.

First off was saying goodbye to Boss and the neighborhood kids that come around every morning. We a ll stood and played with them after a delicious breakfast of corn flakes.
We gave Wood our email addresses. Wood was this really nice guy that came around about day 2. He speaks pretty good english and he made a bracelet for Elaina that had her name on it. That got the rest of us interested and I think almost all of us ordered at least one from him.  I ordered one for Lin, Ash, my mom my 2 sisters and my niece.  Just seemed cooler to have something hand made there with their name than a generic cup or bowl. Although if i had had more money with me I probably would have bought a print or something like that for my office wall.

Anyway we talked to wood and the neighborhood kids and the bus eventually showed up.. We said our good byes to everyone and loaded up.

We drove to the capitol building, or rather the area where it was.  It was destroyed durring the earthquake a few years ago.
Some fellas came up to the van and wanted to sell some art prints.  We weren't really interested but then Elaina saw one that was just perfect for her so she bartered with the guy and eventually bought a really cool piece.
After that we tried to go to a big catholic cathedral but they wouldn't let us in the gate and while we were sitting there a bunch of people came up and were trying to get us to give them money.  Some had kids and they all looked sad but for the most part we were all out of money anyway.
Then you had to decide if it is better to not make eye contact with them at all and just ignore them or if its better to try and get them to understand you have nothing to give.
It was pretty terrible and we all wanted to get out of there as quick as possible but we ended up sitting for a good 10-15 minutes.

We made another stop and Kevin bought a really nice print for his really nice porch.

Finally we went to  the worksite where we were to meet Didi. Didi works for HRI who helped set up our visit.  We got there and he wasn't there so we looked at the kitchen which was finished. It was pretty incredible to see it done since we were there when it started and knew how rough it looked then.

We took some pictures and waited for Didi who ended up not being able to make it and it was getting pretty late so we ended up leaving and going to the airport.

We didn't stop and see our orphans.  At the time we all thought it would be better if we didn't. That was until a few of them walked over to the worksite and saw us. Then those of us who had really bonded with certain orphans started wishing ours would either show up or that we would stop. Kevin put it best  when he said "I'd rather see them and cry than not see them at all."
He and I kept peeking out the gate hoping the rest of the kids would make it before we left but they didn't.

So off to the airport. We got there and made it to the line about 2 hours before boarding but the line was crazy slow. We were in it 45 minutes and hadn't made it thru the first turn in the snake. There was no way we would have made our plane if we stayed in that line. Fortunately someone came and got us and processed us thru separate. It was an incredible blessing.

We got thru the various security lines of which there were several and made it to the waiting area with about 30 minutes to spare. Then our plane was late so that ended up being ok.
I was trying to get my phone charged because it was dead as a hammer and I thought maybe I'd get it at least partially charged before the plane got there. I was wrong again however.

The plane was a larger one than we had previously traveled on. This particular plane had 3 rows of seats instead of 2.  I lucked out and got to sit by Lance on this leg. Unfortunately I was tired and he was enthralled by the window seat so we didn't talk a whole lot.
Still it was way better than sitting by a stranger.

We landed in Miami and got off the plane. We were let out right at the gate which was weird and one guy in the line said it was because the president of Haiti was on our plane. This may or may not have been true but it was weird where they let us out.
We collected our bags for customs and rode the "skytrain" over to where we needed to be to get checked back into the United States.

Customs was simple. You filled out these papers on the plane then when you get to customs they ask you a few questions and go thru your stuff if they want to. Then if you havent done anything weird like try to bring in fruit, vegetables animals or drugs you pass on thru to the U.S.

That is normally what happens. What happened to me however was a "random" pat down and a skin test at one security stop and at the actual customs window I got completely ignored. The dude just mean mugged me and stamped my passport. No questions no welcome to the states, nothing.

After we all met up in the hall we headed towards our next gate. We had about an hour and a hlf before barding so we decided to eat dinner. Kevin and i were going to get pizza's for everyone and we thought we had got that point across but apparently we didn't because after ordering 4 pizzas and 14 drink we returned to find pretty much everyone had scattered to get their own dinner. Still we ate 3 of the 4 pizzas.
Kelly ate at Nathans which is where I would have eaten if I hadn't went in on the pizza.

Lance stayed and watched our stuff. I had my phone plugged in that whole time and it still didn't have enough of a charge to even turn on.
That was kind of a bummer because I couldn't talk to Lin or the kids at all that whole day and we were backmin the states around 5ish.

After we ate we all gathered to await boarding.  I had a window seat directly infront of Christina, Elaina and Kelly. I was sitting by 2 really nice South African ladies.  I didn't recognize their accent at first. Then it came to me. After that all I could think of was that last scene in Lethal Weapon 2 where the South African diplomat gets caught with drugs and tries to kill Riggs and Murtough.
He holds up his id and yells "Diplomatic immunity!" Then Danny Glover shoots thru his id, and says "It's just been revoked".
I didn't go thru all that with the ladies but I did desperately want to yell Diplomatic Immunity at then but figured they'd just think i was nuts.

Katrina from CLC had been picked on by Kevin all week so she decided to get him back. When the stewardess came by she told her that Kevin never fastens his seat belt on planes and so the stewardess caught Kevin with it undone and made sure everyone knew it. It was pretty funny. Kevin is a really good sport.

When I woke up we were about to land.
In StL we gathered our stuff said good bye to the great people of CLC that went with us. Pastor Eddie, Sarah, Tony and Katrina.

We took a quick shuttle to our vehicles, loaded our stuff and the gang waited on me to use the potty. They waited a while.

After that we drove home. Stopped once for Kevin to get gas however Diesel wasn't the easiest thing to find. We eventually did and we made it to Lebanon about 1:30ish.  Went to the church to get our vehicles. Talked for a few minutes then I walked the few blocks to my house dragging my rolling suitcase.

That was the trip.

All in all we had a great time. It was fun, sad, tiring and a host of other adjetives.
I think most of if not all of us plan on going back when we can.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Haiti Day 4

Day 4

We got up & running a little earlier this morning.
Because instead of work we were going to visit some orphanages besides the one we sponsor

While we were still in bed, Lance had the idea that maybe if we had any money left over of our personal money. Maybe we could afford a bag of rice for the kids at one particular orphanage that has nothing.
They are trying to get a sponsor and haven't yet.

We thought it was a good idea so I asked Pastor Kelly and Pastor Eddie if we could.
They said it was fine so I asked around and everyone put in some money. It ended up being enough to buy 2 bags of rice and some cookies.

We got up the first orphanage and the kids were just heart meltingly adorable.
We played with them. Gave them some love dove shirts and played some more Kelly and Eddie presented the rice to the lady in charge
I can't say enough about the state of affairs at that orphanage and please keep them in your prayers. They have nothing and they honestly don't know from day to day if they will eat from day to day.

I found a lovely young lady sitting alone and trying not to look at us. So I played with some kids near her and eventually made it over to her.
She would hardly look at me but I still teased and danced with her. She would look at me and grin then cover her mouth and turn her head almost all the way around.
It was beautiful.
I'd point to her and say beautiful and she just lit up.

When we were through there we went up a second orphanage just up the road.
They were sponsored by another church & it was pretty nice.

The kids were very playful.  We passed out some shirts and candy.
The kids sung to us as we all sat around on the foyer.
Then Elaina started singing one of our songs and we proceeded to alternate ours & theirs.
Leslie our translator got up and taught us a few Hatian songs and translated some of our songs to Hatian for them.
Everyone was blessed at that orphanage and honestly it lifted the heaviness of our hearts to hear the children after leaving the first orphanage where it was pretty awful.
I don't mean the orphanage was awful. I wouldn't book a stay there but it was a roof for the kids so in glad it was there.
I just wish wholeheartedly they would find a sponsor.

Next we drove to an orphanage that again is sponsored and sponsored well.
They had a pretty nice set up. I wish our children could afford it at le maison despuax.

The problem was the ride there. Several things of note happened on this ride.
First Christina was sitting by me and had been all day. She's quite funny and it was a blast....... Then she choked & spurted about half a cup of water on my leg.
We were teasing Elaina and Christina took a drink of water. Someone said something funny and Christina didn't know what to do with the mouthful of water she had.
She said later that she didn't want to spit on Travis so instead she deposited that mouthful of water on my shorts.

Then she started to choke for real and Tony did the heimlich maneuver on her. Successfully clearing her pathway.

So after that bit of drama and the long car ride we were starting to get wiped out.
That and the fact that there is a tropical storm brewing and the Hatian street vendors were all locking down their stuff.

That kinda gives you the Hebbie Jeebies cuz you gotta figure they know what it looks like before one of these things.

So we drove the rest of the way to the orphanage. However the road leading to the orphanage was too muddy to drive so we had to walk.

Kevin was the first to fall in the mud that at times was ankle deep.
In his defense he was carrying the duffle filled with stuff for the kids so his balance was off. I was wearing my "toe shoes" and the mud started packing between my toes and spreading them out like a fan so I had to wash them off.

The kids were gorgeous. The property was great. Water pumps and shelters for the kids that was rated to withstand an earthquake and a hurricane.
I don't think they mean at the same time. That would be the apocalypse.

Anyway, we quickly handed out the stuff and walked back to the van.
We did play for a few minutes and I scared the tar out of a kid on complete accident.
Amusing the other kids a  great deal but making me feel awful.
It was this adorable baby girl. Probably between 2-3 years old.
I walked up and winked at her while an older girl was holding her. Then she came unglued.
So after a couple minutes I peeked in the rent from what I assumed was a safe distance.
It in fact wasn't a safe distance.
She caught a glimpse of me and went full meltdown.
The girl she was with had to take her away.

Next we drive an hour to get pizza in the city at a place called Muncheez.
There were some gastrointestinal hijinx there which I'd rather not cover here.
We ate world class pizza and drank cokes.
While we were waiting for the pizza someone discovered the place had wifi and conversation stopped. We all proceeded to text, check email, FaceTime and, Facebook for a good 10 minutes.
After the meal, Kelly, Eddie, Didi, Travis and chad sat in the restaurant and talked. The rest of us went outside to wait. Assuming that they would be along shortly. It however was about an hour.
While they were doing that. I was outside trying to coax our translator to arrange for me to take a motorcycle ride with one of the Haitian cycle/taxis.  They are mind boggling!
Weaving thru traffic inches from cars. Hopping curbs on sidewalks. Dodging people on said sidewalk.
It just looked like fun.
I had joked about it last night with Pastor Kelly and he said there was around a 70% chance of a wreck. I lined those odds. So I said to Leslie "Alright, let's get serious. How much would it cost just to go around the block with one. "
He said less than a buck and I was Sold.
Unfortunately the guy he tried to get me a ride with was working for Muncheez so he couldn't leave.
I tried desperately to get Leslie to acquiesce to a different driver but he said "no, I uh, I afraid for you. Some time they go & kidnapped."
Well if you've seen me you know that is highly unlikely.
However on this Leslie would not budge.
Seeing as I do not know French I was incapable of securing my own ride.

After the meal of pizza and disappointment we went back to the mission.

Christina and tony washed a local dog.  Because I suspect Christina misses her dog.

We ate some fruit, talked a bit and now I'm here in bed writing this while the others sleep around me.
I'm trying to give them a head start before I start to snore.

I didn't make it to the revival tonight. My feet were pruned from wading in mud and water in my vibram "toe shoes".
Instead we just passed the time til the few who did go made it back.

That seems to sum up today. Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Haiti Day 5

Day 5

Today we actually got to sleep in a little bit.
Normally our bus time is about 8am but today we got to sleep til 9.
Which isn't really saying much because even when they set the time late you still can't sleep.
The windows are always open so you hear all kinds of stuff.
The issues were many. Dogs, rasta music, heat, bugs, an increasingly wobbly bunk bed and GUNSHOTS!

Not to mention Travis and Eddie. I'm sure if they had a list I'd be on it too. However I fell asleep before them and so they made mine.
I think Eddie fell asleep on the 6ft drop to the mattress cuz he slept beneath our window and it was stunning. Not sure the screen door clicked before he started. Unless that was his warm up except sizes for a night of growling.
Travis, I thought was joking when I first heard him. Turns out he either wasn't joking or he was dedicated enough to the "prank" to keep it up 5 or so hours a night for six nights.

Personally I don't mind a snorer. I saw plenty of logs myself so I never ever complain about it.
Actually took my mind off the dance club or cock fight at the bottom of the hill.
So even on days like today when breakfast was at 9 I was still awake between five thirty and six. Then I kinda lay there like I do at home and drift back and forth lightly til more people are milling around.

Today we got up and the breakfast was in my opinion the best we had. I'm not a big breakfast person anyway so the bacon and eggs everyday this week haven't really been impressing me. I mean they are good but still I prefer the American basics.  For instance we had just good old fashioned corn flakes today. Plain coat meal or cornflakes with raw cane sugar.
The milk was a delight. Pastor Kelly and Pastor Eddie went the first day and looked at milk. It was $22 a gallon where they were. Last night they found it for the low price of $11 a gallon. That is in American dollars too.

So breakfast was great.
After that we went out and played with some neighborhood kids while we waited on Kelly, Eddie and Jeff to figure out the day.

The kids that live by the mission are pretty sweet.  I took quite a few pictures with and of them.

They loved having their picture taken. Most the kids we met did.
There were a few shy ones but for the most part they hamed it up or even better, tried to look older.

It was also pretty amazing to let one take your phone.
Because they would set beside you or run off and when you got your phone back it would have 50-100 pictures they took of complete random objects.
I never got worried about my phone. For one, they were basically fenced in wherever we were.
Secondly they were pretty polite kids, at least to us. To each other is a different story. Thirdly I have an upgrade available on July 20th and so I'm not too worried about my iPhone 4S.

Basically anything you had was fair game as soon as they could grab it.
They always gave it back. The lady day most of us let them keep some things.
For instance several of us gave our hats to the kids at our orphanage. Plus bandannas, shoes, extra clothes just anything you had that you didn't need for the trip home.
I did keep my sunglasses. Several kids wanted them but I kept a close eye on them.
It is my first pair of Oakley's. (I kinda always wanted a pair) but I never understood how people spend extra money on sunglasses til I had a pair.
There is a world of difference in vision when wearing Oakley's as compared to my regular $5 aviators.
Not to mention a strange boost in confidence.

Our first stop today was the orphanage we sponsor.  The kids were happy as always to see us. We loved on them there and gave them some gifts. Then we grabbed our bags and all walked the few minutes to the worksite where we helped this week.
The plan was to see the progress on the kitchen and then to have a VBS.

Originally we had planned to take the kids to the beach.
However the threat of a tropical storm had our handler from HRI nervous. So we had to scrap that idea, roll with it and course correct.

We decided to have the VBS at the worksite which is also the children's new orphanage.

First thing when we got to the site was ball. Tony, Chad & Jeff taught the kids kick ball.
Some kids opted out & flew kites or played frisbee.
Others were content to stay in the building and play or just sit and talk.

There is a lot of just sitting and talking happening there. That and hair braiding.
My beard got French braided which was a first.
My face & neck are both kinda sore from the kids pulling my beard so much.
It was full on braided 6 times this week.

Kevin took the logo for our bible school theme and drew it in chalk on the wall. It was pretty impressive and I'm sure there are pictures of it somewhere.

After some playtime Jeff said it was time to start so we got everyone corralled into the building for VBS.

We handed out Love Dove shirts. Lance kinda spearheaded that particular portion. It didn't take too long.

Elaina & Jeff started VBS with songs and Leslie, God bless him translated them.

While that was going on we realized we had forgotten the crayons for art time at the orphanage. So Kara, Estella, Tony and I walked back to retrieve them.

We got the crayons and hoofed it back to the worksite.
It was at that point the kids were all handed paper and asked to write their names. Then they came up
In front if Kevin's gotta move art one by one and then got their picture taken by Jeff and Kara.

It was at this point that time begins to fly by.
I started drawing comic book characters for kids and next thing you know they were swarming me.
The rest of the time there was just me drawing while the rest of the team did whatever it is they did.

Finally some of us walked the children back to the orphanage to say good bye.

Then we drove over to pick up those that stayed behind.

After all that. The Pastors Eddie & Kelly took us to the beach.

It was the most picturesque thing I've seen in real life.
Just gorgeous.
Most of us got in the ocean while others waded and looked for shells or interesting rocks.

After some ocean time we showered, those of us who wanted to at least.
That us the pint in time that I lost my Oakley's.

The ride home was interesting. It was the first time any of us had been out after dark.

When we did arrive at the mission, Boss Michelle had dinner ready. Tonight was whole fish and French fries.
The fish was good, I think Kelly said it was sod but I can't remember for sure.
I guess I could ask him cuz he's 4 feet away but we will jus go ahead & call it sod.

When we finished eating Cheistina presented her devotion and I went upstairs to bed to write.
Jeff had asked us all to prepare a little devotion to share with the group. We usually did this at breakfast and dinner.

Now it's 10:51 and I'm heading to sleep cuz the generator is off and frankly there is nothing left to do. M
Thanks for reading.

Haiti Day 3

Day 3

Today was my favorite day so far.
We knew that we wouldn't be working the whole day because their were so many Hatian workers on the kitchen project we could just kinda clean up for them
Well most of us. Kevin has basically been accepted as a day laborer for the Hatian construction team.

Travis and Chad were pretty close too and by that I mean unlike myself they weren't physically stopped by a Hatian when they tried to help.

I seemed to not mesh well with them and I'm pretty sure they think I'm a lady.

So we worked for half the day. I picked up trash for the most part. I found a trashed alley, Christina and Kara helped start it but they were each called away for something or other and I ended up finishing it.
Which was fine with me. I got pretty filthy but it was completely shaded and that was well worth it.
Not to mention I actually felt like I carried my weight today.

After the alley was cleaned I found another little room and cleaned it.

When I was finished pretty much everyone was standing by Leslie's truck having a water.

So I grabbed the hackey sack I brought and proceeded to try and play with the kids.
Tony from Christian Life Center was first to join us.
 Us being the 4 or five boys that had come around the worksite from the neighborhood.
They didn't seem to really like the game but then someone brought out the kick ball. Might have been Tony but I can't remember exactly who. My apologies.

Anyway the kids LOVED it.
They played this game which was for all intents and purposes "monkey in the middle."
Five or six people with one in the middle.
The ones on the outside of the circle kicked the ball past the one in the middle. If he intercepted it then whoever kicked it was in the middle.

Let me tell you, you do not want to be in the middle.
Hatian children are quick. Scary quick. They distract you with trickery and fancy footwork and then kick it away and laugh.
If you get in the middle it is only the grace of God that gets you out of that nightmare.
The taunts of half a dozen adorable Hatians will haunt my dreams.

Your best and really only hope was to pray an American got it. Then you hung back and awaited his inevitable lob that would free you from your tiny prison.

After the game we were called to move some bricks and we all made a line.
The ladies of ClC & Lifepoint really shined here.
They toted bricks with the best of em'.

That is until a really heavy one would come down the chain and Leslie would either say "no" or "heavy" to Elaina and pas the block to me.
I have no doubt she could have handled it but Leslie was adamant.

After we nicely stacked the bricks we rested. Played some more ball and finally met Pastor Boliere.
The 84 year old founder of the orphanage we support.

He was awesome and inspiring. It was an absolute pleasure to be around him.
However he didn't stick around too long because he had just arrived back in Port Au Prince and obviously wanted to check on the kids and rest.

After he left we moved more brick. Then removed the first bricks because we stacked them in the wrong place.

Next we packed up and headed to the  market.
Eddie the Pastor of CLC was serious about us walking around in small groups and experiencing the market.
It was nuts. Packed beyond common sense and alive with smells, textures & color
Walking single file most places and keeping an eye behind us Elaina and I were on the search for mangos.
Mangos if you were unaware are delicious bits of sweet tangy heaven.
They have a slight sting of acidity mixed with their fruitiness that makes it feel almost like eating a carbonated fruit.

We found some and was looking at other fruits when we were passed by a wheel barrow of butchered goat.
It smells exactly like you are imagining by the way.

We stopped and bought some coke in glass bottles. It was really good. Coke always tastes better in glass.

Then we picked up a few other things. Elaina bought some cherries & mango.
Katrina bought a watermelon, I bought 2 melons of undetermined origin. As I write this only one has been devoured this far and it turned out to be a stunningly ripe cantaloupe. It was just so big we didn't know what it was. I offered the lady an American dollar bill and she asked for 2 and I bought it.
Of course I picked up some mango too. I really dug the mango.
Hatian currency is gourdes and there is roughly 42 gourdes to an American dollar.
We exchanged some money the first day, which at the time seemed cool. However, it got confusing when you ran low and were trying to pay in gourdes and in dollars.


After the market we went to the orphanage  and played with the kids. They are so loving and so precious it's almost painful.

Chad and l lifted kids up to look over the fence. Gave piggy back rides and woolered kids.
Everyone of us had a little group around us.
They love to take your stuff. Hats phones sunglasses and cameras. Then they run around giggle and play.

I played a couple really fun games with them which were lower impact than soccer.
One was laying on my stomach and sticking my hands ünder the gate. Where waiting children would try to smack it.
This was fine until one tried to take my ring. In there defense they probably just wanted to see it.
Secondly one stomped my hand in play and that worried me so I quit.

The second game was the best. I laid down on my back and pretended to be asleep. Then they gathered around and tried to wake me.
I would spri g awake and tickle anyone remotely in reach.
This went on for quite a while til pasto Boulielle thought I might be hurt or about to get hurt and we stopped.

Two little girls tiny tight braided my beard.
This was painful but fun.
The subsequent 3 other times were only matched in their pain by the tiny fingers unbraiding it & combing it out so they could braid it again.
Several kids learned my name and would run up and tag me then yell "Ah-lahn" giggle and run off.
Closest thing to the joy I feel when my kids yell daddy when I come home from going somewhere.
Real close to that. Your heart sings when they say your name.
It's mesmerizing.

So while I was getting my beard assaulted. Kevin, Katrina, Elaina and Kevin again got their hair played with styled and messed with in general.

Then the kids had pizza and soda. They sang to us and pastor Boulielle talked a bit.
I cried and hid around the van.

Then after that we said our goodbyes.
Hugged cuddled and loved the tar out of them and loaded back on the bus.

Carlo our bus driver is a daredevil with a heart of gold. He maneuvers inexplicably around traffic. It was crazy.
Travis sat in the front and said we didn't know the half if it.

Kevin and I desperately want to take a "taxi bike" back to the mission but it is unlikely Kelly will let us.
This remains to be seen. As of this writing we've joked about it. Just planting the seed. Now to see if it falls on fertile or stony ground.

Back at the mission I had decided to skip the revival. I was tired and I wanted to emerita this and prepare my devotion.

That was my plan at least until after dinner.
Tonight dinner was salad, however the ingredients were separate. It was a ring of tomatoes, with sliced onion surrounding lettuce.
There was also fried chicken, pasta and rice.
I ate a lot of pasta. It was the best thing so far to me. The Hatians know how to fry things, as I told Lance but they don't know how to stop frying.
So the meat the last two nights were pretty crispy. I could only half eat the chicken.

After dinner I retired to my bunk to study when Elaina mentioned taking her tambourine to the revival.
I was trying to get her to join them and I have no doubt she would have been not only welcomed but encouraged.
Still I told her I'd go to if she'd play. I thought she would and even if she didn't volunteer I was going to volunteer her.
Elaina however is a clever devil and took a different entrance so I didn't get the chance.

The revival was fun. Great music and the kids started coming and sitting with us.
Chad was first. The kids loved him. Then one came and sat by Elaina.
Finally I got  one and Christina was swarmed.
She put 2 to sleep on her lap by the end of church.

The revivalists asked if we'd like to come up and help pray for people so Elaina, Kevin and I did.
It was pretty intense.
 Afterwords we played with some kids and I carried one on my shoulders up the hill to her house.

It was pretty late but when we got back to the mission we had cantaloupe, watermelon and MANGO.

Sorted the stuff for tomorrow which consisted of shirts, hygiene products and toys for the kids.
We are visiting several orphanages tomorrow weather permitting.

Think we will end the day at ours though.

After sorting I came up to write this. Talked guns with Travis and Tony. Talked random nonsense with everyone as they came up and eventually started to drop off one at a time.

Then we heard gunshots and a few of them woke up. Not everyone which was a little concerning. Lance was wearing earplugs so he missed it.

That sums up day 3

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Haiti: Day 2

Day 2.

We woke about 5am got around and ate breakfast.
It was delicious. They scrambled eggs and bacon all cooked together. Great stuff

After breakfast a few of us (not me) did the dishes. It want because I didn't want to but someone called it first.

The driver was supposed to be at the house at 8am but was about an hour late. We loaded some bags and took an awesome drive thru a genuinely busy city. Traffic was nuts for sure today. I don't think there is a way to describe the traffic really. Maybe Thunder Dome, It's an insane mish mash of cars and motorbikes weaving in and out.  You can just throw a U-ey at any point and we did in the middle of the road in front of a cop.
Lots of close calls and all but 2 of us were crammed into the van.
Kelly and Eddie rode with the translator Leslie.

We arrived at the worksite which was pretty close to the orphanage.

When we, and by we I mean Kelly assessed the situation it was decided that we needed more tools.
He ended up going with a group to find, floats, trowels and a pick axe.

The finally made it back about 2 hours later maybe more

While he was gone I tried to float the wall and it was not the floating I'm used to.
Normally you put some stucco or "mud" on the float, a flat plane with a handle. And you evenly spread the mud.
In Haiti however you get a little mud on your float. Then you take a trowel and flick it in such a way that it sticks to the wall.  Does not splash and looks really cool.

I cannot float this way. Could probably have got it down after a bit but after didn't get the chance. A very nice Hatian took it from me twice and would not give it back a third time.

Kevin however was a natural and worked the ENTIRE day floating the kitchen wall.

I helped dig a few holes.  Moved some bricks drank some water and generally just tried to help where I could. Unfortunately I am a soft weak little man and left a lot to be desired in the manual labor dept.

A few kids walked over from the orphanage and we had some candy on us to give them.
They seemed to really enjoy it.
They were pretty great kids and then they started helping and they became even better kids.

Kelly and the others returned from
Getting supplies and I think was a little let down by our progress.
The Harians have a system and it seemed we were gumming it up a little.
With the help of the translator he got us a little better on track.
We cleaned a room.
Passed out more candy.
I chased an adorable little girl around the van. Much to her delight.

We worked some more. The ladies cleaned & I picked up trash & a lot if it.
Chad dug holes like a gopher. For several projects. Travis and Kevin helped build the wall and float it.

Lance did a bit of everything. I think he's scared to stand still.
Pastor Kelly was a heck of a digger as well as Jeff.
They worked tirelessly on the trash pit.
I took a few turns but being soft and raised by women I didn't take any real long shifts and the ones I did take were basically the equivalent of Kelly, Lance, Jeff and Chad taking a break to let me play in the hole while they caught their breath.

Finally after the pit was finished Kelly and Eddie got us to load back up and took us to the orphanage where our kids, for lack of a better term, stay.

I cannot get across to you in words the adorable ness of these kids. It was only matched by their vigor for sweets.
They had our carcasses stripped of candy like adorable piraña's.

A few girls were shy but eventually the curiosity about my beard got the better if them and before I knew it they were pulling me to sit down so they could braid my beard.

They did so in the most eye watering way possible and I weep for my lost follicles.
Still I wouldn't have said no for any reason. They were just too cute

We unloaded a few totes of supplies and what not for them and went to the market for rice and sundry other groceries.

The market was intense. Traffic was front to back side to side and a little spooky. Kevin the outgoing guy he is sat up front next to the driver and he was pretty intensely watching the cars and road. As our driver, merged, narrowly missed cars/people and was almost hit himself numerous times

Back at the mission, men had done up and spread their wares on the porch for us to peruse and buy.
A few people made purchases but I was wanting to wait a day or two so I held back.

Then  we cleaned up and settled for a bit before dinner.
I took a shower and it was cool, not cold. Which was a surprise because we had zero hot water. We also had zero water pressure. Seemed like it was just gravity fed so it trickled

Still it was wet, which is all you can really ask from a shower.
The shower was followed by a beard treatment.

Dinner tonight was AMAZING. rice with beans and fried goat on the bone. Kinda like ribs.
Might have been ribs.
Anyway it had a sauce that was optional and wanting to really experience Haiti I gave it a shot.
It was wonderful.
It was red, not spicey but just flavorful enough to compliment the rice without over powering it.
In the sauce was carrots, potatoes, unions and bean pods.
I think the beans or peas themselves were the ones in the rice.

It was excellent and I had seconds because there was plenty and I figured I might never get it again.

After dinner Kevin, Lance and Travis washed dishes. Afterwords we went down the hill to the revival again

After church we danced with some kids and goofed off. One took shine to me and I ended up carrying her up the hill to her house.

Elaina was in heaven during the service and the glow lasted the rest of the night.

When we made it home we ate some mango, which is now one of my favorite fruits and sang. Jeff played guitar, Elaina played ukulele and tambourine.
My voice is not good and I don't normally sing unless I know I can't be heard.
Lance heard me however and that knowledge told me it was time to come write.
This is the result of that writing.

Thanks for reading

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Haiti: Day 1?

Preface: This was written on my iphone the first night we slept at the mission. I originally planed to go back and correct spelling and such but then decided to leave it as is.

Day 1?

Getting ready for Haiti has taken a few months and as I write this on my top bunk in the mission where we are staying I'm sure I'm still not prepared

First, after months of trying to think of everything I think I'll need for the trip.  which I was richly blessed to be able to take.
We gathered at the church Sat July 6th for our "send off".

It was great to see everyone that showed up to pray for the trip and say "See you in a week" to.

Around 5ish we were packed and on our way.
Rode to St Louis with Lance Gladden, Kevin Blackmon and the Trujillo's.
surprisingly for the 3 hour trip we didn't stop for any potty breaks.
It did however rain on our bags which were exposed in the back of Kevin's truck.
Luckily for us the rain didn't really kick in until right before the hotel.
The hotel that  pastor Kelly had reserved for us weeks back via Travelocity. Y'know the site with the roaming gnome.
So we get to the hotel. We park under the awning and are greeted by two fellow travelers.
Who were standing  in the doorway of our hotel dumbfoundingly staring at a sign posted that said "Hotel Closed thanks for your business".
Our business being paying for rooms that we in turn couldn't stay in.
Kelly called Travelocity  and he was told that they couldn't refund his money yet because no one was answering the phone at the hotel to verify that it was closed.
You know the locked & abandoned hotel where were there people to answer the phone we wouldn't be in this situation.
So Lance suggested we just go to the airport & sleep there. We all humped on board that idea. It seemed like an adventure and we were on our way to the airport 8 hours before our flight.

Then we stopped at Home Depot to procure a tarp. Which for all intents and purposes was used primarily to lock in the moisture our bags had endured in the truck bed on the trip up & subsequent trip across town to said Home Depot.

We ate at a Culvers before heading to the airport as well.

After filling our bellies we went to Lambert airport to await our flight.
8 hours is a while to wait without sustenance  so Lance, Travis and I set out to find a late night eat morning coffee.
God was good and on the bottom floor of the airport we found an all night bagel and coffee shop.

That was a blessing for both the coffee and the monotony break of walking the distance to the shop. Further for Elaina because she over shot the first escalator and went the even longer way at least once.

Coffee was good and the exploration was fun.
Lance and I spent some time on the escalator because..... Well why not.

Kevin laid on the rail, Kelly, Jeff, Travis and Elaina played with a ukulele that Elaina had brought.
Chad read, Christina face timed her house and tried to sleep. Kara disappears for a bit and tried to nap.
Eventually Jeff decided to play cards and after some rearranging of some deceptively heavy chairs we were set to pass the rest of the remaining 4 hours playing cards
This got Chads attention and he joined us with cards.

Finally it was time to check our bags in and get our tickets.
This went relatively smoothly. Couple hiccups but mainly all good.

Security went equally well.
Linda packed my bag because she's awesome. However I didn't know what was in it so I had to have it searched by TSA.
Speaking of which. I got to use one of those full body scanners and it was interesting
Bought a charging cable for my phone at the airport and settled in to wait to board.
Travis had no carry on bags on account he is a freak of nature so he got to board before us.
Then we got to board.
The plane ride was uneventful other than the fact that I couldn't recline my seat. Because I couldn't find the button and didn't want to ask.

I sat by strangers whom I quickly befriended because Kevin was behind me and we talk a lot.

Landed in Miami without a hitch.
Deplaned if that's a word and ate a quick breakfast/lunch at a little place in the Miami airport.
I ordered a Cuban. For two reasons. One they are delicious and two Dexter Morgan on Showtimes
Dexter eats them in Miami in the first season and I've had that stuck in my craw ever since.

It was pretty terrible however. As was Elaina's breakfast croissant.
She just picked at the top croissant half.

When we went to board the plane the stewardess at the door was chewing out an employee for not properly checking luggage for size.
They were forced to send a dude back off the plane because his bag wouldn't fit.
This made the dude nervous and he took it out on my carry on by confiscating it. Even thought it would have fit and had fit on the previous flight.

Flight to Haiti was smoother than the flight to Miami.
Arrival at Haiti however had its hitches.
It was pretty packed & the luggage was slow in coming but eventually it all did and we proceeded to lug it all to the waiting vehicles.

Pastor Eddie from clc had told us that when you arrive with your bags that Haitians would swarm trying to get a tip for helping with the bags.
Sounds reasonable but the problem comes when they consider "helping with your bags" lightly placing a hand on it while you push the cart thru a crowd comprised largely of people looking for an open spot on your bags where they too can place their hand.
Finally got thru the crowd to the van/bus. Which is AMAZING by the way.  It's a Toyota something or other that we do not have over here.
Just a beast.
We loaded up the bags, on the roof of the bus and the back of a truck and took off.
I rode with our translator Leslie, Lance & Eddie.
The ride to the mission was eye opening. There weren't many people on the streets because it was Sunday. Or at least that's what Eddie told us. Edie is the pastor at clc in rolls and has been on a lot of mission trips and several just to this orphanage in Haiti.

How often does he go you ask? Well as I was writing this he came into the room and proceeded to inflate an air mattress.
When asked about where he packed it. He told us he leaves it here for his visits and just hopes its here when he comes back each time.

Any way, the roads are terrible but the drivers, the drivers are phenomenal.
I'm not sure if it was the guts they had or the attitude that impressed me more.
Everywhere you looked almost ever car had some sort of rub mark from another vehicle. You drive so close to other cars you could stick your arm in their vehicle from yours.  They drive side by side like that for pretty decent distances.
All the while motorcycles, taxi trucks and pedestrians are weaving in and out of traffic.
When we finally turned up the hill to the mission house we were staying at. I was shocked by both the amount of tents and shanties as well as the poor condition of the roads.
The road was washed out beyond reason and you basically tried to keep your tires on theses concrete block paths about 2 ft wide.

The mission at the top of the hill is really a sight.
There is a brick wall around the entire property. The main house has a small kitchen, a dining room, bathroom and 1 bedroom downstairs.
Upstairs there is 3 bedrooms and one bath.  Also an amazing veranda with a pretty great view.

It took us a couple hours to settle in & nap after our day & seeing as hardly any if us had slept we went out pretty quick. At least the guys did I believe Elaina and Christina stayed up til actual bedtime.
Which for me was 8ish.

After my nap Kevin asked if i wanted to take a walk so we went down the path. We heard music at the church so we stopped by. We were standing outside when a nice young man asked us if we'd like to go in.  Of course we did. We were then treated to a service that was just amazing.
Couldn't  understand a word that was said during the songs but they were beautiful. The spirit was thick in the room. People danced and sang and no one cared what anyone was doing.
No dirty looks, zero judgement. Just the carefree attitude with which they worshiped was astounding.
I have a pretty horrendous voice and only sing when the only person that might hear me is Lin.  She's gotten used to it.
The worshiped like no one was watching.
It was electric.

After the singing and prayer. The prayer lasted about 10 minutes by the way.
Long enough to confuse me because I kept thinking surely it's over and I'm the only one bowing my head.
I wasn't so I just put it back down and waited.
Finally after more music the preacher stood to give the sermon, IN ENGLISH! By then Lance and a few people from Christian Life Center had joined us.
There is a missionary/preacher and 2 companions staying at the mission house with us and they are holding revival there.
So she preached in english and the regular pastor yelled it in creole translating what she said.

At the e d if the service there was a few more songs and they broke for the evening.

We we went to the house fir dinner. dinner which for me was a bottle of water and a snack bag of trail mix.

The rest of the gang ate peanut butter & jelly which is off the table for me. Just can't do it.  Ate it when I was a kid then one day just couldn't do it. Haven't ate it in years. It's the ideas of jelly I just can't take.

After dinner I went upstairs to write this. It was about 8pm when I started.  Got groggy about an hour later and had to quit mid way and go to bed.
I'm finishing this now a little after 9 on day two.
I want to start day 2 but I'm crushing bugs with every screen tap. They seem to be attracted to the screen light.

Thanks for reading.