Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
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
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
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
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)
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
A Healthy Boy Soon to Graduate! :o)
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
This was a family that we went to meet and check on the boy in the wheelchair. He had been fine earlier in years, and then would just start falling down when walking to school. Then one day he just stopped walking and couldn't get up. They don't know why....
I can't get photos to load. :( It's getting ready to storm.... We visited the Orphanage and learned alot about their place and the education. We visited the local school to help fix desks and benches and will go back later to paint. The kids have all done a great job. We have lots of photos and details to share when we get home. But here's food for thought.... We learned how much money it takes to send a child to school here. When you see commercials or hear pleas for sponsorships of a child..... it really takes so little to make such a HUGE difference. For the price of a pizza..... (yes how many of you had pizza tonight? It's Saturday after all.) ONE pizza can send a child to school for TWO years plus provide him or her with one meal a day while at school. Hard to fathom. That’s how much it costs a Haitian family to send their child to school. Sponsoring a child costs us so much per month so you’re not helping just for their schooling, but the supplies, and teachers, and desks and books, uniforms. The school building itself. Seeing the construction and work they do is amazing with what they have. The children are also being taught they need to earn this privilege. Not to take it for granted when they have a sponsor. It’s wonderful to learn about.
We visited families and saw how they live, Diane and Kevin have gotten to see Alexandra. Kevin has sponsored her for the last eight years with his family. She knew exactly who they were. It was fun to visit with them and the other places we'd been today. So many families, so much sickness and poverty, yet they manage a smile and a welcome hello.
We combined play with work as the kids wanted to play in the ocean again and we all swam, but they clean rocks out of the sand on the bottom to use to build walls and barriers to prevent the erosion here. So we all dove for rocks and filled five gallon buckets and dumped them in the rock piles. I have to admit, it was the most fun I've ever had working. ;o) We all got sunburned but oh well. ;o)
We've done a lot of walking today and never once did any of the kids complain. Kevin certainly commented about the temperature ;o) but we kept trudging along. Remember we only have electricity a few hours a night. So while you're all thinking of us at home (even if we don't have any comments on the blog *hint*hint*) I challenge you to do something. Take one hour of your day.... just ONE and turn off the tv, the a/c, the internet, the video games, the telephone, don't use the microwave or your dishwasher, but go about your normal routine. Oh wait, I almost forgot, the washer and dryer. ;o) Then when you've done your work for this ONE short hour, and you're hot and want to cool off, try a cold shower. And I don't mean that metaphorically. We don't have hot water. Every night is a cold shower. Today was the first day it was comfortable for me! :o)
More great food and fellowship with friends and loved ones. And to entertain ourselves at night, we played volleyball in the yard tonight. Last night was cards (skip-bo and phase 10).
Kevin has learned to climb coconut trees, he went spear fishing today and actually got a stingray (which of course tried to sting him as he was showing it off), but that's Kevin. ;o) He convinced Marjorie to cook it for him and just like a grandmother would she rolled her eyes and shook her head, but did it just for him. And SURPRISE it was good! (so they said....I wasn't brave enough to try it.) Diane said it tasted like fish and of course Marjorie threw some special touch to it.
Taylor has been learning Creole and has even surpassed the expectations of the Haitians who are teaching her. It's rather impressive (and sickening at times!). ;o) lol She has been able to communicate enough that even kids that don't speak English understand she knows a little (petee petee) Creole and she had fun skipping rocks in the ocean with one of the local boys yesterday. She did so good once he smiled and jumped for her and gave her a 'knuckle bump'. ;o) It was so funny. I actually have pictures of my daughter smiling!
Kelsey is in love with every child we pass and amazingly, they are drawn to her. God has blessed her with something that those of us over the age of 10 cannot see. They laugh and smile at her and play games. Even if it's only from a distance. One of the kids at the orphanage leaned over on her when we took their picture and one of the staff told us that child doesn't interact with any of the Americans that come to the orphanage. It was amazing to see her leaning on Kelsey. And, Kelsey said when I took their picture she leaned to Kelsey and told her "friend" "you're my friend". :o) Brings a tear to your eye doesn't it??? (Sorry Annette.... but she's doing great being away from home and I think you have a future missionary on your hands.)
Well, the storm is in full swing and I'm signing off. Hoping this uploads. :o) We'll be home soon, but not tooo soon! ;o) We're thinking of you all....
Thursday, June 11, 2009
We met Roberto at the airport to bring us to the compound and instantly fell in love with his sense of humor and spirit. He drove us to the compound in style (that's air conditioning in layman's terms) aaahhhhh.... ;o) While driving 'home' I was so overwhelmed with everything I wanted to take photos of that of course I missed most of it. Like a child I was too excited and by the time I remembered to try to take a photo it was too late. But, we did see a 'parade' of people coming down the street singing and praising. Roberto explained today in Haiti, it's God's Birthday. They had a truck covered with streamers and ribbons, walking carrying crosses and singing their hearts out. Christ's birthday is December 25th, I learned God's is June 12th! :o)
Happy Birthday God Parade
There are goats, cattle, and horses and donkeys all over the countryside. When we asked how they know who they belonged to Roberto explained stamping the cows (branding) to us. ;o)
Kevin of course has been his charming self, asking every hour (at least) "Are we there yet?" Even after we got here. lol While riding our 1 1/2 hour drive to the house he managed to locate two nightclubs and 20 different 'super banks'. Which are just places to play the lottery.
We learned tap taps are taxis (okay.... toyota trucks, old buses, whatever you can hold LOTS of people in) that are everywhere. Diane had told us what to expect when we got to Haiti, the culture, the weather, the atmosphere, and lots of trash. Alot of trash is an understatement. I know it would be impossible to ever clean it all up. There are miles and piles of trash, bigger than my car. Some as big as my house. Sad for such a beautiful country. Fighting the urge to clean for all you OCD people would likely kill you. lol :o)
My aversion to long car rides due to car sickness was reinforced by Roberto's mad skills behind the wheel. He seemed to be in his element as we dodged goats, tap taps, bicycles, and.... PEOPLE. I swear Kevin and Taylor secretly learned to drive here. I ask if people were ever worried about getting run over (we were certainly driving at a faster rate of speed than any of us American's would have taken the road). ;o) Roberto explained there is no 'sueing' in Haiti. If you run over someone or they get in your way and they are dead, you are responsible for paying their funeral expense. That's it.
I've never seen so many people crowded into such a small area and living in such poverty. Knowing already I was spoiled is a gross understatement. Roberto covered the rules with us later, ignore the vendors, give nothing to people begging. This is going to be hard on Kelsey. We had stopped in traffic and a little boy had his nose stuck to the glass of her window looking in begging and all you could hear was "awwwwwww". But she recovered nicely mom! ;o)
Arriving at the compound was like stepping out of the house from the tornado and landing in Oz. We're definitely not even close to KS anymore Toto. The compound is a beautiful home and the grounds are breathtaking. Our backyard is the ocean. It's like something from a magazine on extreme makeover (without the new plasma tv's or phones). lol When the gate opened and we went from trash in the street and potholes big enough to drop my car in, to the beauty of it, all I could say was "This is where the spoiled American people stay." :o) And once again I realize how fortunate my family (and friends) really are. God has blessed us beyond belief.
We had a 'rules' meeting, got snack that Marjorie fixed for us that was fresh bananas (don't worry Annette.... Kelsey steared clear), pineapple, watermelon, papaya, avacado and bread with homemade peanut butter. Also some mango juice that was to die for!!!
Today, I'm looking forward to dinner (spoken like a true fat girl), we're waiting on our lugage, Kevin is snorkeling in the ocean, Kelsey is taking everything in stride and looking forward to visiting the orphanage, Taylor is already collecting seashells and has ask Alex (another Haitian guide) to teach her the Creole language (which she's already picked up exceptionally well) ;o) And, I've watched Diane instantly come to life like she's come home again. So happy to be here, seeing familiar faces and ready to serve.
*UPDATE* Dinner was a bunch of stuff I can't spell or pronounce.... Djon Djon (rice with black mushrooms and turkey sauce), banana pese with picklies (holy cow those are delicious...something like a smashed cooked banana with some sweet spicey onions and sauce topping (WOW), more fresh juice, watermelon.... I thought I was going to lose weight this week. NOT! Everything is "Boomba-guy" !!! Lord knows that's not how to spell it, but it's how to pronounce! Which means VERY GOOD! SWEET! AWESOME!!
Bobbie, Taylor, Kevin, Diane, Renea and Kelsey (yes, we eat oceanside baby!)
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
It was hard tucking my kids in, explaining to Tanner where mommy is going and how long I'll be gone. Even harder to have him cover his eyes to keep me from seeing tears welling up as we said his prayers at bedtime. Someone needs to keep Annette company and check on her while we're gone. I somehow think she'll have more trouble than Tanner.
In case I haven't told everyone lately, thank you. Thank you to our church family for allowing my daughter such an opportunity. Thank you to Diane for introducing us to what will be an experience of a lifetime. Thank you David and Tammy for giving me the chance to accompany my daughter on such a journey. Not only a wonderful mission, but also my daughter's first view of the ocean. Her first trip in an airplane. Bittersweet to see her grow, but such an inspiration as I see the wonder and excitement in her as we get ready. That wouldn't be possible without you both. And Eric.... thank you for worrying, for taking care of the boys while I'm gone, and for missing me before I ever leave. I love all of you. Last, but certainly not least....thank you Lord for bringing all these amazing people into my life. I'm so truly blessed beyond words.
It's only 7 days right? 7 days..... to Haiti and back again. I hope you enjoy the trip! I know I will. :o) Back to packing!
Just a glimpse.... Diane forwarded these links to me.
This is part of the trip from the airport to our house: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHFq93bPnSQ&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Flivesayhaiti.blogspot.com%2F&feature=player_embedded
This is the mission she works with: lifeconnectionmission.org