Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine and injustice when He could do something about it. But I'm afraid He might ask the same of me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

• Time For Friends •

This weekend we got to meet Dale, Jon and Keith. Dale is the founder of Life Connection Mission, Keith is a mission director and is an incredible singer and guitar player (we got to hear a bit of his music from his CD that was recorded for the mission), and Jon works with Dale and helps with the mission. Jon is originally from Haiti and his son Roberto was one of our guides and host on our trip there.

What a treat to meet these three men. Total strangers one day, and they feel like family the next. Sometimes I find it incredible that so many people can have a heart and a passion for the same thing yet lead very separate lives. But when they come together it's like a family reunion. Talking about the country, the people, the mission. We enjoyed a bar•b•que at Diane's house Saturday night with guests from Chillicothe that participate in the mission as well as Dr. J and his wife Chris from Trenton. Sunday morning Dale and Keith attended church with us at Dockery Chapel and Jon went with Dr. J and Chris to their church.

Our kids were all away on weekend visits and were upset they didn't get to be here. Taylor was determined to make it back in time to meet them. She was excited (even if she was too exhausted to show it!) lol. She flew back from Washington and rode home just in time to hop in the van 15 minutes later only to drive right back to the airport, just to meet and visit with these three new friends.

Jon was just as excited to meet Taylor I think as she was to meet him. He hopped out of the van at our house and said he wanted to be the first to meet her. I think Roberto has shared stories of our visit with our friends. ;o)

I want to thank Diane for being our hostess this weekend. Thanks Chris and Dr. J for our visit to your home when dropping the guys off, and thanks to Dale, Keith and Jon for sharing and coming to see all of us this weekend. I hope you enjoyed your brief stay as much as we all enjoyed having you. And, as Taylor said to Jon when we left "We hope to see you soon in Haiti!" (except she said it in Creole... smartellic little thing. ;o) lol

Friday, July 10, 2009

• More Friends •

Today was a trip to the airport to pick up some friends of the mission. :o) Dale, Keith and John came to Missouri for a visit with Dr. J, Diane and others of us that have been touched by Life Connection in our area.

It was so nice to meet these three gentlemen (even if poor Dale slept all the way back to town from the airport...under the weather I think would have been an understatement for his day). Tonight they visit with the medical team members at Diane's house for a short dinner, tomorrow is a bbq for the rest of us Haiti lovers! ;o) Lots of pictures tomorrow, I'm sure, and blog love to come. I just wish Taylor and Kelsey were home to visit and meet everyone. I know Taylor is upset she is missing the new friends since she's away in Washington again.

I must admit our ride home was a 'mini-adventure' though. Taking time to stop in the Amish community on our way. Dale still napping and Keith and John up for anything. We visited the vegetable market for fresh produce, stopped at the dairy and cheese factory, as well as a small local grocery store. It's a new experience for the fellows from the east and I'm sure a big difference in cultural differences from Haiti. John is Roberto's dad (remember our wonderful host on our trip?). We shared many stories of our memories from Haiti and it was just a welcome change to be in their presence. I can't wait till tomorrow to hear and share in everyone's stories of the mission.

I pray that their visit and experience here will bless them each in their own way, and that they will have safe travels as they head back home to the east and to Haiti on their next trip (which I hear is VERY soon!). :o)

They will be visiting Dockery Chapel on Sunday morning to conclude their visit if anyone wants to say hello and welcome them!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

• Coming Home •

Wow, so many mixed emotions. "Parting is such sweet sorrow." I know Kelsey is anxious to be home with her family, as are the rest of us. But somehow some of us are just not ready to go. Taylor and I will miss Haiti terribly and look forward to the day when we can return. It will never come soon enough. Kevin is just miserable due to his ear infection and I know he likes it here, but probably just wishes he felt better. Weather that's here or in America where he can get a good antibiotic for his ear! Diane is at home no matter which country she's in and after 11 trips, it probably doesn't seem like such a long way home for her.

We were afraid we would oversleep this morning so we ask Alex to be our alarm clock. Which he said would be no problem as he sounded out the tune of a western... It gives spaghetti western a whole new meaning, hearing our Haitian friends do sound effects. lol We were up before Alex gave the signal below our windows, anxious to hear his voice make the funny noises we knew we'd miss after going home. Listening to the ocean waves crash against the shore line every morning, the sound of the men working in the yard... and it's only 5:00 a.m. Why doesn't this happen at home? I wasn't a morning person before Haiti got ahold of me.

By 5:30 we needed to be heading to the airport. Bags are packed, being loaded into the trucks, saying our good byes is not easy. Bobi brought her mother back to the compound to go home with us. It wasn't easy for Barb to leave her daughter behind yet again. More friendship bracelets were passed around. We've made new friends and family here. How do you let them go? I remember leaving my sister's house every summer as a kid when my granddad took me to Oklahoma for visits. I cried for at least the first 30-40 miles after leaving her house. Somehow it got easier the farther away we drove, but I was miserable at first. It's hard to fight back tears when Alex is standing in the driveway waving and yelling "God Bless You! God Bless Your Families! Give them a big hug for us! Come back and see us soon!" It was a very quiet ride to the airport. Taking in all the scenes that we now understand after our short week visiting the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The hogs atop the trash piles, the broken down buses, the people walking, the smell of charcoal and sulfer. It all feels so familiar now. Not pleasant, but familiar. We want so much for Haiti. And then we pass an older man squatting on the side of the road drinking from a mud puddle where people have walked, cars have driven through, animals have drank from. That's something we won't see at home. Something we can't make other people understand without seeing it and experiencing this country called Haiti.

Roberto could tell we were emotional about leaving and having the heart he does, he begins singing our song again, making us smile and laugh. Then I realize we're at the airport. That long ride that seemed like it would never end when we arrived has come and gone in what seemed like 5 minutes as we're going home. There's chaos everywhere, people wanting to cart your luggage for you, unloading the car in record time as Roberto can't stay parked next to the curb for any extended period of time and had to get to the other side of the airport to pick up the next group traveling in. There are no long good byes here, a strong hug, a quick smile and a God Bless You is all we have time for. We will miss Roberto.

People are butting in line, shoving their luggage past you, we have to go through customs and immigration again, the long lines and the 'dumping' of our luggage to exit the country. When all is said and done, and our wait is over it's time to board the plane to come home I walk slowly going across the pavement to the steps to our plane. Taking in one last look at this country that has stolen my heart. The smells, the sounds.... it will never be forgotten.

Arriving back in the states seems odd. We've been warned about 'reverse culture shock' and transitioning back into our 'normal' lives. Normal doesn't seem so great anymore. We haven't seen a television in over a week, and oddly enough living with three teenagers, it was never once talked about or missed. It seemed strange to see a newscast on the airport television. Even more strange to see commercials for beer or pizza hut or even old navy. I want to yell for everyone to take the time to experience Haiti. To come closer to their Lord, closer to the ones He has created in other parts of the world. It's a long and odd process coming back into the states. But, once we're through immigration and realize we are closer to home the hunger pains begin to get our attention. After all, we didn't eat breakfast and it was past lunch time. Our American heritage takes hold and we head for Chilli's! Everything is done with a new perspective now...I eat a platter of food that would feed 4 children (at least!) and take the time to thank the Lord for the blessings He places before me on a regular basis.

After a very long transition getting back to our homes at 2:30 a.m. I was ready for a hot shower. The only thing I really missed while being away. I'll never complain of a cold shower again when the kids empty the hot water heater. It could be worse. Coming home was something I looked forward to, but at the same time has been so difficult. I broke down and cried at the site of my 5 yr old sleeping peacefully on the couch where he tried to wait up for me in his spiderman jammies. I cried, not because of how much I missed him, but because of how fortunate I am to be his mother and be able to provide him with so much. Somewhere in Haiti I know a little boy his age that sleeps under his mother's bed, in dirt and rocks.... and he's happy. Happy to be with his mother, and happy that he was able to eat today. My oldest son anxious to see us and share all the things we've missed over the last week that are 'routine' in our house. Television shows we never miss that he can't wait to tell us about and watch with us, video games he'd really like to have because he was able to play with friends' this week. How do I explain to him without hurting his feelings that it just doesn't seem as important anymore? He is important to me, but those other things will have to take a back seat.

Kelsey was so happy to see her mother we thought we'd have to hold her back in order to have the car come to a complete stop before she bolts from her passenger door to throw her arms around her mother. A child so greatful to have a mother who can provide so much for her. We all have been changed by our trip, in one way or another. God has touched us in ways that are hard to explain yet we're eager to share about. Someday soon.... I hope it will all make sense to everyone. Why maybe we cry a bit more from time to time, why we feel the need to wear a skirt (when it's not our normal style), why we see people just a bit differently.

If you followed our trip with our blog thank you. Bless you for thinking of us while we were away. We hope we can someday share Haiti with you through all our pictures and videos and stories. Keep following the blog because we'll share updates and visits and photos from sponsored kids. We won't forget Haiti, it's our hope that you won't either.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

• One Last Day •

Our last day to enjoy Haiti was Wednesday. It was sad to think we'd come to the end of our journey and would have to leave the new friends and family we had made. Kelsey was definitely anxious to head home ;o) We decided after breakfast would be a good time to round everything up that we had made ourselves at home with so we wouldn't be packing at the last minute. We leave tomorrow morning around 5:30 a.m. and none of us are morning people. lol We gathered our laundry from around our room and the balcony. Diane and I had tried our hand at washing some of our clothes in a tub with bar soap and hung them out to dry. Did I mention Downy is a luxury you should never take for granted? lol Hey, they may not have been fluffy soft or completely stain free, but did I mention Zest smelled better than what they had become? Eeeewww. Haiti is a sweaty, dirty place.....full of love but sweaty, dirty. One of the housekeepers doing laundry offered to do ours too and I'm wondering how much nicer they would have turned out if we'd had someone with experience doing our wash? But we wanted to do it ourselves. Everyone does so much for us as it is, I didn't feel right asking someone else to wash my personals! lol The ladies were cleaning and scrubbing, just like some of us have a weekly routine in the states (I said some....). We thought about their hard work and remembered there is another mission group flying in tomorrow morning. They land as we board, and the caretaking starts all over again for Roberto and Alex and Marjorie and the rest of the staff. And I wonder if they will remember us as fondly as we remember them, or if we'll be just another group that has come and gone. Somehow I think they will remember....

As we're gathering and packing things there were items we shipped over for the children and Kelsey and I had packed the bags to take to the girls. Diane was busy emptying those suitcases that were stacked in the living room to bring them up to our rooms to load to go home, when she discovered him.... the rat. We've spent a week with a rat trap in our bathroom and managed to last an entire week without seeing a single rodent. Diane said he was sitting quietly behind the suitcases and she chased him out of the house. Alex spent some time later that night setting traps again....with fresh meat. Oiy. We use cheese and peanut butter for mice at home, they use meat for rats. I know Haiti is not for everyone, I'm just glad I didn't see Mr. Rat, because Haiti is definitely a place for me.

We decided today would be another day of finding children and making visits for those that need sponsors. It's become a personal goal for myself (as well as some of the others I think) to want to find sponsors for sooooo many of the kids. They just simply amaze me.

Its customary to ask before you take a photo of someone in Haiti. Some don't want their picture taken, others don't mind, others thrive on it! :o) Kelsey even had one man ask her to take his photo because he thought it was good luck for his soul. This teenage girl was excited to meet Taylor and it was fun to see her talk to the kids, learn their names and ages by speaking Creole and they had fun looking at themselves after she took their pictures. This girl loved Taylor's hair too and wanted to braid it and play with it. (typical teenage girls huh?!) We still met so many new kids that need sponsors for school, that have high hopes of being educated and sharing their knowledge with siblings and even their parents. You can't imagine what just the luxury of an education can do for a person in Haiti. Sometimes it might actually mean the difference between life and death. Life coming from working or knowing a special trade so you can feed yourself and your family. Or, lacking knowledge to apply yourself or have a skill needed to put food on the table. It's amazing.

So, speaking of special trades...this young woman is going to school and to earn extra money she braids hair. Imagine what she could do if she knew what cosmetology school was!? She comes to the house when missionary teams visit to see if she can do anyone's hair. We paid her $20 to do the girls' hair. It was fun to watch her work. Taylor's hair was so neat when she was done, Roberto even called her blan bel (white beauty), even though she said she felt like a chemo patient. lol We don't see our scalps often as Americans do we?

We had previously taken our gifts of backpacks and extra goodies back to our girls' that we had sponsored and Kelsey received a surprise today. Claudia, her sister Linda and their mother walked all the way to our house to show Kelsey the new dress from her bag as a thank you. A sign of appreciation. I know Kelsey was amazed and appreciative of their journey, I think we were all feeling emotions of gratitude for their walk to the house. The fact that they cared enough to walk all that way, just to show her the dress. Wow, at home we send thank you cards, or send gifts. Claudia was still wearing her bracelet Kelsey gave her from the days before. The even better part...Roberto told them that not only was Kelsey and her family going to sponsor Claudia to go to school, but they were also going to sponsor her sister Linda. Now both girls can go to school with no worries. How exciting for their family! Can you imagine how they talked about it with their other brothers and sisters when they got home? You could just see and feel the joy they were overwhelmed with as they walked away to go home before the storm came again. Claudia skipping down the driveway and Linda hugging her mother.

Sorry, you'll have to turn your head for this one... that's Claudia, Linda and their momma heading home down our driveway. So excited. :o)

Our last joy of the day was having Brian and Kristi's family come to the house for a visit. Sherry came and brought with her John Lee, the kids' older brother, Ellie their big sister and a neighbor boy who spends a lot of time at their house. It was great to meet them and see where Kristi and Brian came from. To meet the woman who loved them enough to allow Diane to become their mother. To ensure they would be given a future and a life through a woman who would love them as her own. The kids also took to Kevin just like Brian and Kristi adore their older brother. They have met him before and Kevin is definitely someone who is hard to forget! ;o) He's so great with the kids, playing games, entertaining. I'm tellin' ya.... any teenage boy who allows his little sister to braid his hair is tops in my book. I hate to admit it, but Kevin is special. :o)

You'll have to twist your head for this one too. ;o) And I'll spare him the embarrassment of the hair braiding shots on a public blog. Maybe those will make it into the slideshow for posterity. lol

If you look closely in the background of the picture with Diane and Sherry and the kids you can see some people sitting at the table where we eat. We had a prayer group that came to the house to pray with us before our trip home. We stood around the table as we bowed our heads to pray, it was like taking a time of silent prayer and then simultaneously they all began praying aloud in Creol, and their voices became louder and faster as they prayed. It was an incredible feeling that almost overwhelmed you as you knew they were praising God and thanking Him for their blessings and I have no idea what they said but could feel it within me. It was one of those moments that you wish everyone could have experienced yet no matter how much I might try to tell you what it was like, it would be impossible. After they prayed we sat and Roberto translated for us as they thanked us for coming as missionaries and for the things that we do to make a change in their country. That God would bless us for our work and our love for their people and their country. They prayed for our safe return to our homes and safe travels if and when we return to Haiti. Roberto ask if we wanted to say anything and Diane and I told them how much we appreciate them welcoming us to their country and how much we love and admire them and are grateful for the opportunity we're given to try to make a difference here. We love Haiti with a passion that can't be explained, you can only know it when you experience it for yourself.

Tomorrow we have to say good-bye. Finding our own ways to say good-bye is different for us all. Diane had her private time sneaking down to the ocean this morning before we all woke up. Kevin hasn't been feeling well and likes the quiet of his room (I think he'll secretly miss so many things here, even if he wouldn't admit it). Taylor had her private time as she took a walk to the end of the pier and sat for a long while alone. At the end of the pier it's almost as if you're sitting in the middle of the ocean, and she watched the storm come in. I wish I knew where her mind was and the things she was pondering. Kelsey took a nap under a palm tree today, I'm sure she'll be glad to return home to her family and share her experiences here. My moments come by watching and observing everyone else around me. Whether it's our team, the kids, Roberto and Alex, the other workers around the house, or the dog chasing the rooster in the yard, Marjorie chasing the chickens out of her kitchen, the men working in the yard discussing how they'll make the retaining wall, the gardner hoeing and working in the new plants that are blooming, the lizards sneaking through the bushes or crawling up the trees, the sound of the ocean, the smell of the charcoal.... I'll miss it all.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

• Wednesday •

The start of a new day in Haiti. A day we get to go meet families and children and see who needs sponsors. We get to go back to see Smeralda and Claudia again because we have bags of goodies for them. But, lucky me...Diane decided to share on the last day we're in Haiti that she has a video camera! Hellow! I could have smacked her. lol I took the opportunity before breakfast to roam around the grounds and in a sense "stopped to smell the flowers". I took pictures of the flowers and the beauty I see in Haiti. The things that have made this home for us for a week. I want to cherish every sound, smell and site possible before I go home. Maybe if I stop long enough it will stay in my brain, in my heart longer. I know there is a time and a season for every purpose under heaven. There is a time for us to go home, but I'm just not ready for it yet. ;o)

So, after breakfast we're off! Before we see the girls there are a few stops we're going to make. We get to meet Michael (Myko). He's a little boy that Diane sponsors so he can attend school. She met him once at the school but never at his home with his family. I'm videotaping the trip so forgive me if you get motion sickness from watching. I never claimed to be a good videographer. lol Pictures are my forte. ;o)

Meeting Myko was a bit different than meeting the girls. He lead us from the street where he was playing with his friends to him home. Through dirty paths, past other homes. He was happy to meet Diane again and was excited it seemed to show us him home and his family. Which he does seem to have it a bit nicer than some of the other families we've seen. Was it a shock to me to see that Claudia slept on the floor in dirty laundry with all her siblings in one little dark room with no windows and a dirt/rock floor....yes. But not as much of a shock as discovering that Myko sleeps on the floor under his moms bed. There was no blanket, no pillows, just dirt and rock. Which in a sense, after considering the lifestyle is probably a good safe place for Myko. He's away from the bugs, the sheet dangling from his mother's bed probably acts as a mosquito net of sorts. He's dry if the roof leaks, and, Myko looks healthier than most of the kids we've seen. He has his belly full at night when he lays down to sleep. It was nice to meet his family, play with his baby sister (who was left home alone with him to supervise). We woke her up when we found her in bed alone. She's 4 months old. And so adorable!!! Taylor is falling in love with the children here. Someone who never wanted kids and she never ceases to amaze me. ;o) (Maybe that's my mommy goggles talking but she and Kevin are super with all the kids. I think Kelsey is still in shock mode at times and just wants to take everyone home and away from all the hardship.)

Diane and Michael (Myko)

Taylor and Michael's baby sister

After we left Michael's house we walked through the village meeting seeing children. We soon had our own little parade! There were kids giggling and following us and talking (of course we had no idea what they were saying, except for a time or two when a child would join our little group and ask for a dollar....Roberto would send them away telling them not to beg from us and they needed to go to church).

Everytime we stopped at another house to look for someone in particular that Roberto wanted us to meet, we would acquire more kids to our parade. :o) They were so cute and so loving. Walking along you can't help but smile and as they look up at you with those adorable little faces I couldn't resist reaching down to take hold of the hands of the little boys at my side. Talk about a chain reaction! It was like giving them all permission to release their inhibitions and take hold of the Americans! They all started scrambling to be the first to grab the hands of those left, and if they couldn't find a hand to hold they were holding our shirt tails or our pants legs. They were so happy to be accepted and loved by total strangers. We began singing songs and swinging our arms. Taylor and Roberto started their usual tune. ;o) Kelsey was taking photos and sharing her review screen with them (which is amazing to them!), Diane was sharing her sunglasses as they got to take turns seeing through her dark eyes. It was just incredible to see how far we had walked and how many children we accumulated! When we finally got back to the truck we had to say good-bye. I didn't think we'd ever get Taylor back in the truck. We were all in and waiting for her to load up and she said we could just leave her there and come back for her later. lol

Taylor's parade buddies. ;o)
The two little boys on the back of the truck were my groupies. :o) At one time when someone else had let go of my hand the little boy closest to me had to keep pulling his pants up and the little boy in the pink shirt snuck in and took over. They started fighting over who was going to hold my hand until I showed them, "Hey, I've got two!" Just like home. Separating my boys, don't fight, I have enough hands and enough love for both of you. :o)

We were headed to our next stop which was Oshiani's house, another girl that Diane and Kevin's family have sponsored for many years. She is where we would consider in the country. Like the outskirts of the village. It was quite a little hike and jumping a few creeks but no one fell down today so all is good! Oshiani's house is two rooms, they have a nice yard area where they do their laundry and work. Her house is well equipped with a table, a couple of chairs and a small cot in the living room area and one bed in the bedroom. This small two-room house is home for 9 people. Can you imagine sharing a one bedroom house with 8 other people? It's clean by Haitian standards and has a cement floor that is well swept and free from debris or rocks. I even felt the need to remove my dirty flip flops before taking the tour she offered of their home.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

• Tuesday Afternoon •

Last night Roberto told us the good news that we could go meet the girls we were wanting to sponsor. Kelsey's mom had e-mailed that she could pick out a child to sponsor and I had spent time looking at the Mission website even before we left America with hopes of helping a child.

I had thought long and hard about what kind of a child I wanted. Some of you know that Eric and I had lost a child before Tanner. She would have been 7 years old now. Just a year ahead of Tanner in school. So I thought it would be a nice memorial to her to sponsor a child. A 7-yr-old girl going into the first grade. Surely there were plenty to choose from..... or so I thought. :o) There were only two girls this age and going into the first grade. Roberto had told me we could visit both families and see their needs and then I could choose if I wanted. Well, after laying awake talking to Eric in my sleep I discovered my answer. I told Roberto it just wouldn't be right to visit both girls and only pick one. How would that make the other girl feel? I couldn't do that to her. So, I picked Smeralda and that was that. Roberto had told us about Claudia's family too and how poor they were and how much they needed. That was all Kelsey needed to hear. She didn't need to search the many photos, she wanted Claudia. So, off we go.............

On our drive to Smeralda's house we had a little 'car trouble'. The truck just quit right in the middle of the street. Now I know where all the abandoned vehicles come from on the sides of the road and in people's yards. lol All we could do was pull it off the road in an old abandoned Texaco station and start walking. After watching 5 or 6 men stand around and discuss what they thought was wrong with the truck we started our hike. After all, they're certainly not going to take any advice 4 American women could offer up about car trouble. ;o) I told Diane when we left the house something was wrong with the truck.... I could hear it. She laughed when we broke down that I would be able to tell. Too bad I haven't figured out how to fix them yet. I think Taylor's short-lived time on the Ag-Mechanics team should have been on big engines.

So, who cares, we're walking again. Getting to know the village and the people. It's easier to learn and see when you're walking among the people instead of driving through at the speed of light. (maybe not quite that fast but sometimes it feels like it) lol

Our first stop was Smeralda's house. We were only about 10 blocks away when we broke down. Off the beaten path, through a small alley, that became even smaller the farther you walked. We passed lots of kids playing, lots of trash, people urinating on the walls (not an unusual site in Haiti). When we finally reached her house we were greeted by her great aunt who was home. She sent some of the neighborhood kids to find Smeralda and tell her to come home. We were offered the best chairs from the house as they brought them out and set them around the porch for us. When Smeralda came through the gate Roberto interpreted for us telling her why we were there and how much we were looking forward to being her sponsor and how proud and honored we were to be able to help her. We received lots of hugs and took lots of photos. Taylor had made friendship bracelets for Smeralda, herself and me to share. We told her how wearing them would remind us of her everyday and how we couldn't wait to come back to Haiti and see her someday and we looked forward to her letters and hearing her progress in school. I can't tell you how wonderful it felt to have this little 7 yr old climb on my lap and give me a hug and a big smile. How wonderful it must have been in her home that night sharing the good news with her momma when she came home. My children get excited over new video games and movies, Smeralda was excited to be able to go to school and not have to worry about how to pay for it.

Time to go to Claudia's house! Which was quite a walk in the opposite direction. Roberto shared stories with us as we walked along. Listening to the chatter of the people in the street and Roberto told us different times what people were saying. And, other times, told us he couldn't repeat what some of them were saying. It wasn't proper. Yes, they were talking about us and calling us names I'm sure. One woman I greeted even spouted back with an emphatic "SUCKAH!" I told Roberto if I would have been on top of things I would have yelled back, "God Bless You!" But we were laughing too hard. ;o) Lots of kids yelling "blan blan!" White white! Taylor has learned her creole good enough she talks back now.... "My name's not blan! My name is Taylor!" lol She never ceases to amaze me. lol :o)

After a small hike we came to the bottom of a little mountain standing in a dry creek bed. Looking up the hill Roberto explains this is where we're going.... uh, okay. Kelsey headed up with a hand from Roberto, Taylor had her boots on (smartellic kids), I decided to go barefoot. I have better grip with my bare feet than I do with slippery flip flops! Diane brought up the rear making sure none of us came rolling back down! lol

At the top of the mountain Roberto keeps watching the sky just to ask Claudia's mother if we may take shelter under the awning to her house. There was a storm coming and here we are stuck on top of a mountain. The rains came, the children came running up the hill and through the straw dividers of the wall bringing in laundry, tossing in little baby brother, water pails. They move fast and work hard. I was in awe to see little kids not much older than Tanner carrying containers of water up the mountain, older kids about 8-10 carrying 5 gallon buckets of water on their heads. I grumble carrying two buckets by hand to the barn, and here these kids are packing it on their heads! Oiy... I feel so spoiled yet again.

When Claudia arrived home Roberto shared with her why we were there also and she was very shy but grateful as she gave Kelsey a hug and took her picture while Kelsey tied on her friendship bracelet. Roberto laughs at us sometimes for crying. Although he definitely means well and thinks we have big hearts, he just likes to try to make you smile through it all. :o) We could tell Claudia's family was much more poor compared to Smeralda and had lots more brother's and sisters. Smeralda has one younger brother. Claudia has 6 or 7 siblings. What a difference those mouths make when you are trying to feed your family. Some of Claudia's siblings were malnourished and wormy. So we decided to take some medicine back to her family the next day.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. We had to walk through the construction site at the river because the bridge is out. We are so proud of Diane with her fear of bridges that she managed to walk across this little wooden plank bridge to get to the other side. It's been a great day!!! How could it get any better? Maybe an internet connection so I can share with my friends and family?! Like that's going to happen..... lol :o)

• Tuesday •

Our time is going by so quickly! It seems we can't get enough of Haiti and today we are off to the orphanage at Canaan again to see how Bobi works the Medika Mamba program for the children in the medical clinic. Always something to learn and help with.

A Healthy Boy Soon to Graduate! :o)

Roberto took us to the orphanage in the truck and we all stepped inside the clinic to see how the day would start. There were lots of people sitting around and standing, waiting to get into the medical clinic, and the Mamba clinic. Medika Mamba means peanut butter medicine in creole. The parents bring their children much like we can take our babies to the health department or doctor's office for well baby check ups. We stood in a corner and watched as patients started coming in. The children are all clean and have clean clothes on, and shoes. It's a change from what we've seen for the last few days. But then again, when we take our kids to the doctor we clean them up too. ;o) It's really no different than home in so many ways.


When the babies are brought in they are weighed and measured to see if they are on target for their age. The people working in the clinic have been trained in how to check their charts, properly distribute the Mamba and when to know if they need further treatment for other things such as Malaria or worms. Many of the children are wormy, which is no different than us giving worm medicine to our pets. The parents can tell you if their child has worms in their stools. It's sad to see children with their health not as good our our family pet.

The Mamba comes in plastic pouches and much like anything else, it separates in the pouch so we all spent our 'observation' time in the corner mixing bags of Mamba like kneading playdough in our hands. If your child is eligible for the Medika Mamba you are given enough of the mixture to last until the following week. The Mamba looks and tastes like peanut butter so it's very important that the parents are instructed that the Mamba is a medicine. Not a food or a treat. That it is to only be given to the child they bring to the clinic. As voo doo is still going on in Haiti it is also explained to the parents that the Mamba is not magic or voo doo. That the people working at Canaan are Christian and God has blessed them to come to Haiti and help the people and the children. That the Mamba is a good thing, it is of God and will make their children and babies better. They will gain weight very quickly so the parents are encouraged to keep feeding the medicine and not stop because it seems like a magical cure.

The Mamba is significantly fortified with lots of protein, and nutritional supplements to nourish the children. Within 6 to 8 weeks you can transform a starving child to a healthy, thriving and happy child. It really is amazing to see.

The down side to the clinic....not all parents follow directions. After all, the Mamba does taste like peanut butter and it's hard to keep it from the other children in the house and it sometimes gets shared or other family members start sneaking it because it's so good. We had to watch as it was explained to one mother that if she didn't follow the program properly she wouldn't be allowed to have the Mamba anymore. How do you explain to a mother that you aren't going to help her make her child better anymore because she has failed to follow directions? This same child is the one we saw earlier this week in the village. Yes, he was better since Diane had seen him last as he could stand and walk when he was so close to dying. But he's still not gaining as he should. The Mamba is something that can be so closely regulated they know how much weight your child should gain based upon the dosage they tell you to administor. It's amazing. Bobi is so caring with all the families and the children though. It's great to see her head up this program and watch the children grow. She's good at what she does and it makes her very happy.

After our work at the orphanage we went back to the house for water and a break and to drop Kevin off. ;o) He has fishing to tend to while us girls go check out our new kids we're going to sponsor! Yeah!