Friday, December 31, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Under Construction of Sorts

The nice thing about blogger is that its really easy to make changes and update your look.  The annoying thing is once you start making changes, there is no turning back.  So, I am currently revamping a few things so bear with me as I do them.  Hopefully in the next 24 hours all will be beautiful again in the land of amyrlong.blogspot.com.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!!!

lightoftheworld2010B

Jesus.  Light of the World.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Blessings to you and yours.
Love, Amy

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Countin’ Down.

Four days until Christmas!

That’s all.

The end.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The latest

I keep thinking it hasn’t been too long since I’ve posted and then I look back at the date of my last post and realize…holy cow.  it’s been a while.

I’ve got lots of ‘things’ going on in my head but for one reason or another I’ve lost the urge to write about them.  I keep thinking of things to post and well, frankly I just don’t get around to it.  I asked for blog ideas and ironically enough the three ideas I got were things I unfortunately don’t really know enough to write about them.  So, if you submitted ideas, I greatly appreciate them and think they were great ideas.  I’ll just have to learn more about them (some of which will just take a while to get enough experience and understanding to write anything interesting)…but keep the ideas coming. I  love ideas!

On a less interesting note (although I’ve been told by a friend who is a former nurse that she likes the medical posts!) here is where my eye is at.  And my diabetes.

My vision has improved to 20/50 as of last Tuesday. The eye continues to bleed just a little so the Doctor is still watching for that to clear up.  I am still refraining from bending to the point where my head is below my heart and I am still sleeping on lots of pillows to keep my head elevated at night.  My next appointment is January 4 and at that point I should find out what the future is like as far as timing to get back to Haiti.  But still, only time will tell.

My diabetes is doing great.  The Doctor ordered lots of tests on me.  Including vitamin deficiencies and thyroid.  I am now on thyroid medication (he said mine was extremely low), Vitamin B and Vitamin D; everyday.  My A1C has continued to improve and at the appointment last week it was down to 7.2.  I am on a new insulin program and it should make my diabetes completely manageable once back in Haiti.

If you’ve read this far down into this post, thanks for sticking with it.  I hope to have some posts which have more mass appeal (I use that phrase with a grain of salt, as they say.) in the near future.

8 days til Christmas!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How We Roll

Just looking through some of my pictures from Haiti and came across a couple that are kind of fun.  The quality isn’t superb but they tell a great story. 

Need to move a table? 

 table taxi

the other half of the table

Just strap it on the back of a motorcycle or two.

I Wanna Know What You Wanna Know.

I'd love some ideas.

Its much easier to keep my blog interesting when I am in Haiti and things are going on, but sitting at the house waiting for my eye to heal doesn't make for stimulating content. 

So, would you give me some ideas? 

Are there things that you'd like to know about life in Haiti, about post earthquake Haiti, personal complexities of living in a foreign country?

I love to write, but sometimes just need a little idea stimulation.  Can ya help? 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pics from the Road

Here a few pics from the last couple months. The first two came from Leogane.  I was there in July with a Homes for Haiti team.  David Uttley (UH MAY ZING photographer) and I walked around the area of Leogane, ate kènèps with some of the kids, stopped and talked with some of the residents in the area, and snapped a few photos.

    boys 

little girl

These last two came from Grand Goave,where we also had a Homes for Haiti team putting up a house.  I tried walking around the area on my own but got frustrated with the number of times I was stopped and asked why I/we couldn’t build them (them being whoever it was I was talking to) a house. So I just stuck around the yard, talked to the family and neighbors, and snapped a few photos. 

baby camera

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Missing Persons Report for Amy Long: She’s Been Found.

Like so many of my recent posts, I’m once again apologizing for my absence.  I just spent a month in the states and while, yes, I had to time to reflect and blog, to be honest, I was on vacation, and really, I just didn’t feel like it.  Its my prerogative, or so they tell me. 

I’m home now.   I arrived in Haiti on Wednesday.  I was in Port au Prince by 11am and at my house just after 4:30pm.  I was greeted by what my neighbor referred to as a very lonely dog.  The dog’s been staying at the house, being cared for by neighbors, friends, and staff.  But apparently he was lonely.   I can imagine. Simply being fed is different than being loved.  I can’t really say that I LOVE the dog and couldn’t imagine my life if something happened to him.  He’s not really my dog.  He actually belongs to Susanne, one of my roommates, who has been in Germany since May (she’ll return in January) on furlough.  Beth, my other roommate, and I decided that we’d care for him while she was gone rather than try and find a new home for him, or last resort, put him to sleep.  While I’m not a dog ‘lover’, Bubba’s a good dog and its nice to have the idea of some kind of protection while I’m here alone (Beth’s still in the states until Thursday).  I will admit though, that Bubba’s looking a little rough.  I was going to try and give him a bath before i left on July 30 and I just didn’t have time.  I imagine that one of my weekend activities will be washing the dog.  I’ve never actually bathed a dog before, so that should be interesting. 

Life’s going to be very busy over the next three months.  The way the schedule looks now, we’ve got three teams every month until December.  I was supposed to be out with the team who arrived yesterday.  But late Wednesday night I was overwhelmed with the fact that it was just too complicated for me to go.  The week night person we had taking care of Bubba told me Thursday that she wouldn’t be around next week so she wouldn’t be able to feed and care for Bubba.  Since I was leaving early Friday morning, I really didn’t have time to make all kind of arrangements for the dog.  And I couldn’t leave him here alone.  Perhaps it sounds trite, and normally wouldn’t even be an issue because Beth and/or Susanne would be here, but just so happened this week, I’m solo.  Being here will actually give me a chance to get caught up some photo editing and posting that is back logged, due the flurry of activity this past summer.  I’ll also be able to start getting my head around some new things I’m going to be working on.   So, while I’m not with the team, this coming week will still most certainly be busy.

I am taking a motorcycle taxi to town with Becky in the morning- just for some girl time, ie": shopping!  Even if we don’t buy anything, there’s an abundance of things to browse.  I suppose after I come home, I may be washing the dog.

Anyone heard if it’s supposed to rain?  I wonder if I could just put some soap on him and leave him outside…?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tiburon July 2010

amy2 

girl1

   girl finger  

stunts

 tatoo

 toy

NPR

Saturday, June 5, 2010

P.S.

In case you miss me, I’m alive; just buried under a pile of menus, shopping lists, reservation requests, facility repairs and needs lists, photos to edit and post, phone calls, emails, a full guest house, a full house at Zanglais, four RMI teams in three weeks, and the endless pursuit of catching the elusive mice that prefer my room to the great outdoors.  

Not much time to check in but I’ll try and post a bit when I come up for air. 

Much love.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Baraderes (Bar- ah-dare)

Haven’t had time to write anything in several days so I thought I’d post a few pics from my time in Baraderes.  The team did two days of Medical clinics and saw over 200 patients!  I didn’t get as much of a chance to take pics as I often do because I was busy translating in the pharmacy (which was fun!) but here are a few I snapped at one point or another during the week.  The last one is a picture of Rob Thompson (the new RMI Haiti Director) and his daughter Tessa. 

 

 boy in white 

 

girl in pink 

 

tying shoes

 

Rob and Tessa

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Following

The sky is dark and sullen and the rumble of thunder is constant and the threat of rain is looming.  I rather like Sunday afternoons like this, it makes for good napping.  Although, I can’t sleep.  The weather seems somewhat indicative of how I am feeling.  Overcast.  It will pass. There is sunshine in the forecast; both literally and figuratively, I am sure.

Between the hours of 8pm last night and 8am this morning I read a book.  It was that good. I am a discriminating reader, or maybe I’m just picky.  I love to read and am hard to please when it comes to books but I have been known to buy a book just because I liked its cover.  I love the smell of libraries and the way I feel while meandering through a bookstore.  When people ask me what I miss most about the states I always forget to mention this but its one of the things for which my heart most feels an absence.  I go through spells when I read a lot and then times when books are almost forgotten, when life gets busy and I don’t make the time.  I have read many books and even when I don’t particularly enjoy them I usually purpose to finish them, just for the sake of finishing them but there are few books have truly captured me.  These are the books that devour my time, that I sit down and read in a night or two.  These are the books I recommend to friends and even find cause to mention to strangers.  That list is small.  Until yesterday that list included only four:  The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges, There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz, And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts, and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. 

Today it includes five; Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle by Kent Annan. 

It rings with similarities to the book, A Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, that seems made the Christian Circuit last year.    Both of these books address in one way or another the pressing needs of the impoverished and the marginalized.    I say what I’m about to say in the least self-righteous way possible, and though I may not have known all the statistics on poverty, I have been reaching out to the poor and needy in tangible ways for many years now.  I don’t say that to mean I am better than anyone else, I simply say it to mean that I was just already aware and doing what little I could to “do something about it”.  I live in Haiti.  I have read A Hole in Our Gospel and it was an OK read but it didn’t change my life. 

I already have little compared to what people in the US would consider ‘standard’.  I don’t have high speed internet. I don’t have cable or satellite tv (there is a TV in the common area but mostly only good for watching movies and I have a small 13” in the corner of my room that’s never even been plugged in), or an Ipod.  I don’t have a car, hot water, or air conditioning.   And yet I have so much more than most people in this country can even begin to dream or imagine if ever having.  I have internet, a laptop, a cell phone, indoor plumbing, a ‘modern’ toilet, electricity 24 hours a day, and a 4-wheeler.  And I can go down the hill and watch Discovery Channel (almost) any time I want.  In most ways, I’m living the dream; and there in lies a great divide.  Yes, there are people in Haiti (more every day it seems) that have one or all of these things but still the gap is wide. 

I think Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle very well may have changed my life.   I don’t know how yet, and it may only be in the smallest of tangible ways or maybe it is in larger less tangible ways, but it has my heart longing for something; something more.  I am not claiming that I will one day sell all that I have and go move to the remote mountains in Haiti.  Mom, there’s not need to fear.  I’m not that rash.  However, it is causing my heart to pause and wonder what it is that I am doing with what I have and how I can do more or at least keep doing what I am already doing, just more effectively.  Sometimes I still feel so disconnected from Haiti- from real life.  I may have been without running water for a week but the nearest place to draw water is just outside my room, from a bucket where we catch the rain.  I know nothing of back breaking work as the very source of my existence.  I may have mice, and termites, and mold but I know nothing of the daily more formidable foes of giardia, typhoid fever, and worms. 

I grow weary of the white elitist attitude that follows me most places and the expectation that enters a room the moment I do.  I get tired of being “stared at”, gawked at, asked and would at times just like to blend in and fade away.  But what if I did move to remote corner of the island and build a tiny cinder block house.  What if I hauled my water from the river and planted a small garden and sold the vegetables at market.  What if?  The tradition that my skin color implies unlimited resources would most likely follow me there.  In Haiti, it would most likely follow me to my grave.  What do I do with that?  Do I stop living a separate life?  Do I rid myself of the few ‘luxuries” I have that most Americans would scoff at that thought of calling them luxuries?  I don’t know that that's the answer either.  But I do know God is stirring my heart.  The result of that is always something big. 

Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle.  Its a story about a man and wife, both white, doing life in Haiti.  I could see myself in some of the places they described.  I could feel myself in the some of the emotions they expressed.  I understood many of the questions and frustrations they had.  Perhaps that why it has affected me so.  Maybe because while not in every sense but in so many ways, they are describing the life that I am living.  They too are trying to figure it out. 

Its a good read.  You should go to a library or a book store and browse the shelves for a copy.  And when you find it, grab hold of it.  And when you read it, let it grab hold of you.  It’s that good.

I’ll tempt with you an excerpt;  its a prayer.  (Following Jesus Through the Eye of a Needle, pps 146-147)

God, our Father and Mother;  Christ, my Savior and brother;  Spirit, hidden presence.

I love you because you know and love me.  But I know so little of you, glimpses through Christ and mixed messages through the world.

I don’t know if I hold you at a distance, or its you who hold yourself at a distance from me.  I need your intimacy, and yet everything I experience keeps you a mystery. 

I am grateful to you beyond measure, my Creator, my every breath, my grace and mercy.  I don’t know how to worship you any more than this—with my proud and deceitful and broken heart.

I give you myself—a pittance, but all I have.  All I ask is everything.  All I ask is you in return.

Christ, I find hope and forgiveness in you—or if I won’t, I’m doomed.  Forgive me for my selfishness and hypocrisy, for my lust after so much that isn't it love, for so many hours and years and opportunities that I piddle away, these gifts I’m supposed to cherish and share.  Lead us. Forgive us.  Maybe we’re supposed to trust you, but you shouldn’t have trusted us.  How can it be worth it, God?

In you, Christ.  I find my light, though its awfully dark.

I pray for my sisters and brothers who are hurting unbearably tonight—that you would suffer with them, that you would stop their suffering, thought I know you won’t stop it all or even very much right now.  It’s more faith that I can muster, yet there’s something in me that trusts you—or wants to so desperately that it resembles trust—despite it all, in the midst of it all, because of it all.  I call out for you in rage and desperation and hope and doubt and tender love.

Call  back to me, I ask.  Call us out of our graves, like Lazarus.  Weep a tear for us all again, and let us weep with you.  Let’s all weep together for this beauty and this mess.  Then come Lord Jesus, come and save us somehow, anyhow.  And meanwhile show us how to save each other…

Amen.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Anticlimactic I suppose

So I guess I left things hanging here with a big lead up to my one year anniversary on April 29.  And then nothing posted after April 28.  Two things happened really…1) I ran out of interesting pictures and mostly 2) I ran out of time. 

Literally. 

We had a team coming in on April 30 and for the week before their arrival I was working non-stop, some days, almost around the clock, or at least into the wee hours of the morning.  The day they arrived, April 30, I started working before 9am and didn’t stop going until 3:30am.  Saturday, I was up by 8am and didn’t stop until I climbed into the truck around 1pm and left to spend a week in Baraderes. 

The week was packed as we did two days of clinic and the usual women’s, children’s, deacon’s, and outreach events.  I spent the week translating and snapping as many photos as I had time for and then Wednesday morning we took the 3 hour drive to Zanglais to spend the evening at the Retreat Center…although I was busy there with the ladies in the kitchen I did grab a little rest and was able to sleep all night without being woken up by a rooster on crack every morning before 4am.  So that was nice.  Yesterday as soon as we arrived at the Mission Center, it was ‘hit the decks running’ until last night when I crawled in bed just before 10:30pm.  And I feel like I owe it to the rest of the RMI staff to point out that each of them has been just as busy…little sleep and lots of activity….we’re all exhausted and yet somehow through the miracle of God’s grace, we still get along and really all love each other dearly. 

Today I was up by 6:30am and I haven’t stopped going much longer than to take the time to jot this down….

Our water in expected to be out for 24 hours…starting sometime today. 

No complaints.  Just stating facts.

I’ll try and post something a little more interesting sometime soon. 

Peace and rest.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Year in Pictures #28

Tomorrow is the big day….ONE YEAR IN HAITI.

statue

Another ode to Port.  A picture of the famous statue, Negre Marron, which stands near the Palace.  Anyone know if its still standing?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Year in Pictures #27

cyber cafe1

After the first month or so post January 12, I took very few photos.  I wasn’t out and about like I had been.  Life had settled into a normal routine of….organized chaos and I just didn’t have time.  This picture was taken in Port au Prince back in September.  Cyber Cafe’s are big in these parts.  You pay something like $10 Haitian dollars for something like and hour of time on a computer that crawls though I’ve seen at least one place advertise ‘wade-less’ internet.  I think that means wireless.  At this particular location looks as if you could make payments on a cell phone, receive money, get color copies,buy Viola phone cards, or use the internet. 

I don’t remember exactly where in Port this was, or if it’s even still there. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Year in Pictures #26

coast guard

My friend Lisa came down for a short visit and the friend who flew her in agreed to fly us to the Bahamas for an overnight stay.  He was doing relief flights in and out of Haiti and the supplies were coming in through an incredible group called Bahamas Methodist Habitat.  They were responsible for hundreds of flights and hundreds of thousands of pounds of relief supplies that were flown into the Cayes area.  While in the Bahamas, Paul (the pilot), Lisa, and myself had the privilege of dining with Cameron, Abe, and Matt, some of the folks who have been making ‘it’ all happen.  We ate at a great little local place where the music was jammin’, the food was great, and the company was amazing.

While at the hanger on Tuesday, waiting to load supplies onto our plane to fly back to Cayes, there were other planes loading and unloading as well.  The Coast Guard was there too. Though, I’m not sure exactly what they were doing.

It was a quick visit so we didn’t get to see much other than the Hanger, the Restaurant and the Hotel.  I’d love to go back and visit the backroads- local style.  The thing I remember most about the Bahamas?  Wishing I’d brought long pants.  It was cold and I didn’t bring any long pants...   

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Year in Pictures #25

migline1 

I made my first visit to the Cite Lumiere Clinic on January 19.  That was one week after the earth quake.  When I met Migline, her leg was in a cast and I watched the Dr. cutting a window into the cast revealing a large piece of skin missing from her foot.  She was crying “Li fe mal” over and over again.  “It hurts”. “It hurts”.  “It hurts”.  That started a very special chapter in my life; almost daily visits to the hospital where I met so many wonderful people and made so many friends.    February 26, just a little over a month later, Migline was well on her way to recovery.  When I arrived at the hospital she was sitting outside.  It was the first day I noticed that she had both of her flip flops on.  She’d come along way.  Within a few short days, she was discharged. 

I talked briefly with her dad late last week and he said she was doing well.  I didn’t find out much more than that.  He was in Port so I didn’t get to talk with Migline, who lives somewhere around Port Salut. 

A Year in Pictures #24

Sorry again for not posting yesterday.  I was too exhausted to care to tell you the truth.  I went to be around 10pm.  Maybe this whole turning 33 thing is catching up with me. 

old man Gabion1

This man was staying at Gabion, the tent city downtown.  I met him on one of my visits.  He must have assumed I was of Spanish descent because he started speaking to me in Spanish.  He showed me his left shoulder.  It appeared to be out of joint although I couldn’t understand everything he was telling me.  He was a gentle old man.  I wonder if he still down there.  My friend Jocelyn, who is living there, told me the folks organizing the area will be closing it soon and the residents will have to find new places to live.   Soccer Season is coming. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Year in Pictures #23

belongings1

January 24, 2010.  I went with Gary and a couple other missionaries to Port au Prince to bring back some of the Quake Refugees to a camp one of the missionary families, The Wray’s, was setting up just outside of Cayes.  We took two pick ups, a large flat bed and a small flat bed set up with benches.    We brought back about 80 people.  Gary and I had 4 with us in the Ford.  The rest of them preferred to ride on the flat beds.  We piled luggage in the bed of the Ford and the back of the other pick up.  Everything they owned was stuffed inside suitcases, bags, pillow cases and anything they had that could be used.  Getting to the church where we were to meet them was also a challenge.  The large flatbed Mercedes literally fit through some of the areas with maybe an inch of clearance on each side.What should have two turns off the mail road turned into about 20 minutes of turning around, backing up, and squeezing through streets jam packed with mattresses, belongings, and people sleeping outside.   

A Year in Pictures #22

palace

January 12, 2010.  No words.  Only tears.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Year in Pictures #21

the stare1

Port Salut, Haiti.  January 10, 2010.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Year in Pictures #20

christmas in port1

December 12, 2009.  In a month the face of Haiti would forever change.  But this day, Haiti was getting dressed up.  It was Christmastime.  This is the tree in front of the Presidential Palace.  At the time I snapped this picture, there were people stringing the Palace balconies with holiday garland and hanging giant poinsettias and bright red bows.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Year in Pictures #19

Nap

In December I spent a day in Port au Prince being chauffeured around by a couple friends.  I had to spend an extra day in Port before flying to the states for the holidays.  It was actually quite enjoyable to have the chance to tour the city without an agenda.  Usually when in Port, I’m there with our guys and we’re there for a purpose.  This day, my friends took me to the Museum which had a great display of artifacts from Haiti’s history; including a crown, lots of old Haitian money, weapons, a large anchor and some of the chains used to imprison the slaves.  They also had a hallway decorated by a large display of modern art.  The art on display was done by a women and its theme was “Women’s Rights”. 

The Museum wasn’t far from the Palace so when we left we took a walk around the area.  These guys were found lounging under a large sign in the center of a square which reads  “The Constitution of 1801”.  I’m not sure what’s going on with that chain.  It looks like it’s attached to the guy loosing his pants.  Who knows.  I didn’t ask and he didn’t oblige to tell.  

An apology and its retraction. And some other things as well.

It’s been days, maybe even weeks since I’ve really put anything of substance on here.  Not that the pictures aren’t ‘substantial’.  I suppose I just mean its been a while since I’ve put anything up that’s required much thought.  I feel like I am often apologizing for absences in blogging.  I have decided I am going to stop doing that.  Instead I am just going to acknowledge to anyone reading this that I am busy.  I am extremely busy.  Everybody keeps asking me what I’m doing these days.  I’m running the RMI Guest house.  There has been a constant revolving door of guests; some here for a few days and some here for long periods of time. There’s been lots of nurses and more recently lots of physical therapists and prosthetists.  There’ve been plenty of other sorts of people as well.  But the flow of people hasn’t stopped.  And an influx of people requires constant attention to every aspect of what happens at the Guest House.  From scheduling guests, to preparing lists for market and grocery shopping to leaving whatever I’m in the middle of to go receive guests as they arrive.  It’s been so busy that I’m making plans to turn the small apartment (two rooms, a bathroom and a partial kitchen) outback into more guests rooms.  And I’ve got a new girl starting tomorrow to help the two ladies who’ve been pulling huge loads these last three months. 

In recent weeks all the RMI staff has been preparing for the arrival of our new missionary family, the Thompson’s.  Lots of preparations have been going into that; from getting their kitchen stocked with enough supplies to get them started, to planning a welcome party.  They arrived Thursday, April 8 and since then I’ve spent a lot of time down at their house translating for them as they’re getting acclimated to their house staff and the guys who have been working on some repairs.  I’m so happy to have them here.

In my spare time, I’ve also been trying to keep this blog updated, design a brochure for the Guest House, put together something special to send out as a 1 year anniversary update on life in Haiti and pass from 32 to 33 without much ado. I did get some really awesome packages from family and friends.  (Thanks guys!!!!)

As life has returned to a more hectic state of busy, my visits at the hospital have all but come to an end.  I miss those days terribly.  Rita is still in the hospital.  I have a couple other friends I have made more recently who are still there but she is the only original friend I have left there.  But I just don’t have the same time to visit them as I had.  I have seen many of my other friends briefly, in the last two weeks as they have been returning the hospital to receive their new legs and the physical therapy receiving a new leg requires.  Many of them have been sleeping at the hospital again, so they haven’t had to come and go each day.  Two weeks ago, when I walked in the physical therapy room (I had heard Frenel was there) I was so surprised to see Rose Marie, Regine, Olivier, Evans, and Roudy (with his mom).

frenel

(The succession of pictures- the smaller ones on the sides- was Frenel’s idea.  He wanted to demonstrate the process of putting on his leg.) 

olivier

(This is Olivier.  The legs are in their first stages.  Once the amputees are ready to begin wearing their prosthetics, they will be made to look like natural legs.  Dr. June said almost every single one of the patients pulled her aside and asked her about this.  Its an interesting process and she did share with me that once the legs are measured and finalized the patients cannot vary the height of heels they wear.  They can change shoes but the heaes have to be the same height). 

A day or two later I was back down for a short visit and saw Regine, standing on her new leg.  I cried.  She’s come so far.  From what I hear from the therapists, she’s got a rough road ahead because she’s still struggling with depression and she’s having trouble adjusting to the new leg.  The patients haven’t been giving their prosthetics yet.  They work with them each day and leave them after each session.  Most of the patients (my friends) are sent home each weekend and spend only the week in the hospital.  Regine lives downtown so she is able to stay at home and comes and goes each day.   

000_0732

(Regine and me- in the Physical Therapy room at the Cite Lumiere Clinic)

Easter Sunday, Regine had a party at her house.  And I was invited.  I was a bit nervous about going because I didn’t know what to expect.  Regine told me Dr. William was going and that I should call him to see if I could ride with him.  I did.  He was.  And I did.  Two of Rita’s daughters went as well.  In the car on the way, Dr. William told me he wasn’t staying.  As I was getting out of his truck he told me to call him when we were ready to come home.  I felt 13. Although he didn’t stay, he sent three representatives; his three kids, and their ‘nanny’.  The kids are 6, 4, and 3.  There was lots of food at the party.  And lots of people.  I had met many of Regine’s friends and family at the hospital over the weeks and those I had never met, still greeted me by name.  I wonder how they knew which one I was….It wasn’t as awkward as I thought it would be and I was so pleased to see Regine just doing normal life.  She looked beautiful with her hair pulled back and she was wearing a pretty sundress.  The party started at 3, we arrived about 4 and we left at 6.  And when we left, everyone else was already gone.  I’ve heard that here, once you eat, you leave.  It’s good to know that for the future.  Regine is supposed to be up at the hospital tomorrow again so I am looking forward to seeing her. 

I was supposed to start teaching English yesterday at the “Wonderful University”.  It didn’t happen.  I was supposed to take a motorcycle taxi and arrive at the school at 7:45am.  Class would start at 8.  It was pouring rain yesterday morning at 7:15am.  I couldn’t get a hold of him by phone even though I tried multiple times because I wasn’t going in the rain.  Of course by 8:15 the rain had stopped for the day.  He called me about 8:20 and asked me where I was.  I told him all of that and he said he suspected it was because of the rain.  From what I understand, it isn’t culturally atypical for people not to show up because of the rain.  A lot of people take public transportation so when it rains a lot of things just naturally don’t occur.  So it' wasn’t taboo for me not to show up.  We’ll try again for next week.  But before we start there are a few things I need to talk to him about.  I need to negotiate my salary a little better.  What he is offering me is not acceptable.  While I’m not in this for the money, it at least needs to be worth my time.  Right now, it isn’t.  Especially if I am having to spend part of the money I earn each week on a motorcycle taxi.  We’ll see how that conversation goes.

The Thompson’s welcome party was also yesterday.  I had the ladies at the Guest House prepare a Haitian feast for the party.  Griot (fried pork), banan peze, pikliz, akra (like a haitian hushpuppy), sweet potatoes and yams (two different things-neither of them like what we serve in the US when you ask for those things), macaroni and cheese, diri kole (beans and rice), sauce, and grilled chicken.  I hung out with the ladies all after noon as they cooked and I got my first experience making banan peze.  I was pretty exited.  I can’t wait for the opportunity to try it for myself.   The party was a great success.  Kudos to the ladies.  And Kudos to Rob and Becky and the kids for working so hard to get here!

And today, we went to the beach.  It started out as a terribly rainy day.  But we got word that where we were going was nice.  I wouldn’t say it was sunny but it was just a little overcast and it turned out to be a really lovely afternoon. It started raining again once we hit Cayes. That was around 6.  It probably stopped raining about an hour ago.  Rainy season has begun. 

We’ll see what this season holds. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Year in Pictures #18

boat on the water

November 2009.  A friend I made while with the team in Boyer took me on a little walk about the village.  Boyer is a quant little fishing village about 30 minutes or so from the Mission Center.  The roads through Boyer are all dirt and it winds along the coast line.  Its a very primitive village in its layout and architecture but quite picturesque and beautiful as well.  We took the walk right around dusk. 

A Year in Pictures #17

Oops.  Missed one again.  I thought about it, again, when I was laying in bed.  But this time, I was too exhausted to get up and do anything about it.

 bananas1

Mmmm…Bananas.  This was taken in Boyer, the beginning of November.  Not much else to say about it other than that.  Tasty!

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Year in Pictures #16

sunset fishing

This picture was taken in TIburon in the late fall.  The sun was just taking the plunge below the horizon.  To the left and right of where I was standing is the beach- or garbage dump- whichever you prefer to call it.  Its hard to imagine such a juxtaposition with such a calm and serene image but trash and pigs dot the shore as a mixture of mud and who knows what else lies just beneath your feet.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Year in Pictures #15

Phew.  Almost missed the deadline. 

Not taxes.  But posting a pic for April 15….Was laying in bed and realized…I never posted a pic today.  So, here it is….

bright flowers

Flowers.  Not very exciting?  Well, I think its pretty amazing to have beautiful flowers all year round.  And I did actually finish my taxes.  Yesterday.  And I get a refund so I am celebrating by giving myself some flowers.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Year in Pictures #14

girl

Not much special to say about this photo.  Just a sweet face to make you smile. 

A Year in Pictures #13

Sorry I forgot to post yesterday.  I think I was really busy.  I feel like I was anyway.  Yesterday was one of those days that you look back and think, ‘Huh, I don’t feel like I ever stopped going but I don’t feel like I got anything accomplished.”    Se lavie.

bus

I snapped this photo on a trip to Port au Prince last fall.  It’s not terribly artistic but I was snapping from a moving vehicle so it’s a bit difficult to get great shots that way.  Here is an example of public transportation; you can take a bus such as this from Port to Cayes (or beyond) and back.  You’ll see them loaded down with almost anything you can imagine.  People stack mattresses on top of them, tie sacks of charcoal, and even sit on top (often atop these others things).  And these buses move fast.  Sometimes it would seem they come around corners on 2 wheels.  Before I realized what was happening with the earthquake, I thought one of these had rounded the corner and was passing the church. Seriously.  I wouldn’t kid about something like that.

But, they’re fun and colorful and you’ll see any variety of decorations from rappers and singers, and bible verses, to scantily clad women (sometimes painted underneath the Bible verses) and I’ve even seen one with Sylvester Stalone, as Rambo, painted on the back. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Year in Pictures #12

boys 

These kids are living in an orphanage in the area near Zanglais.  We visited the orphanages with one of the teams who was here over the summer.  If I remember correctly they feed about 180 kids a day (a few kids sneak in through the gate at meal time) but I’m not sure how many kids stay at the orphanage on a permanent basis.  We toured some of their dorms where the kids sleep in bunk beds on foam mattresses that are aired out regularly to dry them out so they don’t smell so much like urine.  There was very little, if anything, beside the bunks in the rooms; no toys, no games, nothing that would make it seem like children lived there.  At least they have food in their bellies and clothes on their backs.  I believe its at something like 14 years old that the kids are released from the orphanage and left to care for themselves.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Year in Pictures #11

portrait  

I don’t see many opportunities to get a shot like this.  While it may not seem like anything too special, its hard to get a shot of the women in a moment of stillness as most often its the women of the church who are off cooking and cleaning and making the teams feel at home.  This was a lucky moment.  We were headed back from Maniche and one of the team members was Haitian so we made a quick stop in his home town.  We also visited his home church.  This woman was sitting outside a small store the church runs.  Every time I see this picture I’m struck by her dignity and poise.  I am also struck by the beauty in her face and I can only imagine what stories her wrinkles and grey hairs tell. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Year in Pictures #10

 

groucho marx 

I posted this one on Facebook, so it’ll be new to some and not new to others.  This was taken in Les Irois (Lays E-wah).  This was in July.  One of the hottest months I remember.  We were packed in our rooms and there was little airflow so each night was H-O-T; the kind of heat that makes it hard to sleep, and when you finally fall asleep you wake up b/c you’re hot.  And there is no ‘cool’ side of the pillow. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Year in Pictures #9

peeking 
This picture isn’t new, and if anyone’s been following my blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably seen this one already. But its one of my favorites. 

For years I’d been wanting a DSLR camera and I’d finally been able to purchase one not long after moving to Haiti.  The trip out to Chamballen was the first opportunity I’d had to play with the camera so I had so much fun taking pictures of everything and everyone.  This picture is from the portrait session for the 14 couples who got married on this day.  Some of the ladies didn’t have head pieces to go with their dresses so I love that the Pastors Wife got creative and cut up a petticoat and used it as head pieces.  This bride happens to be wearing one of them.  I also love that I was able to capture this groom with one eye on the bride and one eye on the camera.  Priceless!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Year in Pictures #8

hybiscus

Not much to say about this one but that I’m surrounded by tropical flowers; and  they’re beautiful.  Bougainvillea are in bloom right now.  White and Pink bougainvillea twist their ways around trees, fences, and anything else they can wrap around.  I can finally enjoy beautiful flowers without spending money on them and then worrying that I am going to kill them. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Year in Pictures #7

small cat

This is Leila.  She belongs to the Moses family, who served here in Haiti, with RMI, for about 7 years.  Leila and I bonded when the Moses’ were in the states in May of ‘09 for a few weeks.  They actually acquired Leila the same day I arrived in Haiti.  They greeted me at the airport in Cayes with cat in tow.  Her real name is Leila, but I preferred to call her Small Cat, and when she was in trouble, I called her by her full name, Small Cat with Big Ears.  The Moses’ have been living back in the states since July and when they left, they took Small Cat, and their 3 dogs with them.  They also had an iguana, which they left in Haiti, though I can’t imagine why…?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Year in Pictures #6

tree at zanglais

Each team wraps up their week’s visit with a stay at Zanglais, RMI’s Retreat Center which is about 45 minutes outside of Cayes.  I went out with 14 teams last year, so I spent quite a bit of time at Zanglais.  I’m not complaining.  Greg (my home church’s Haiti Team Leader) jokingly always tells teams not to show anyone shots from Zanglais because we need people to think we’re suffering, not spending a week in Paradise!  This is one of those pics (sorry Greg!) taken from the porch at Zanglais.  Where the grass meets the ocean is a small cliff that drops down to the road.  Cross the road and descend a few concrete stairs and you’re at the ocean.  It’s amazing to sit out at the gazebo (just to the left of the tree) and enjoy the sights and sounds of God’s beautiful creation. And every morning, awaken to the sound of the ocean’s song.

Oh. Yeah.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Year in Pictures #5

DSC_0655

While this doesn’t look very “Haitian”, in fact it is because Coca-Cola (tm) is bottled in Haiti and distributed through out the country (…and because I’ve been looking for an excuse to post this photo because I just happen to like it…).  Being diabetic, I can’t drink coke.  I don’t even like it.  When I first arrived canned Diet Coke was only available in the large grocery stores in Port so when anyone would take a trip in, anyone else who drank Diet Coke would put in an order for a case (or cases) and hoped it would last until the next trip into Port.  In a real life example of supply and demand, there were enough of us here in Cayes asking our local store (read: the larger “bourgeoisie grocery store”) owners when they were getting Diet Coke.  By mid-summer, Diet Coke was a staple in two of the three stores we frequent.  After the earthquake, it took a couple months but it seems Diet Coke is making its way back into the economy.  My most recent purchase was made at another of our frequented stores, which has just made Diet Coke available for the first time.  There is also a much smaller store in Simon (the village just below the Mission Center) and the owner’s wife told me just the other day she’s waiting on a delivery of Diet Coke from Miami. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Year in Pictures #4

abriko

People often ask me if I like Haitian food.  My response is some of it.  When I came back from the states in January, I was actually craving rice and beans, so Iguess that’s a good sign.  I’ve had a lot of new foods to adjust to this year, including fruits and vegetables.  Abriko is one of the locally grown fruits so when its in season we have it in abundance.   A good one tastes like sweet dried apricots.  A bad one tastes like sour dried apricots.  I prefer the good ones.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Year in Pictures #3

cow

There were lots of sights and sounds I would be getting used to…this included sharing space with cows.  I’ve even seen them running down the beach.  This one was tied up just outside the gate at the RMI Retreat Center in Zanglais.

A Year in Pictures #2

waterfall close up

I was out with the first team within two weeks after my arrival.  We were in Picot.  This waterfall is about an hour away so we took an afternoon to take the team.  Most of them went swimming.  It was a little too cold for me so I just enjoyed the view.

A Year in Pictures #1

April 29, 2010 will mark my one year anniversary in Haiti.  I can hardly believe it.  Life has been full, to say the least, these last 11 months; from field staff changes, new job responsibilities, a tragedy on the mission field, to floods and even an earthquake, its been quite a year. 

I’m a couple days late getting started on this ‘project’ but I’ve decided I’m going to post a picture a day this month.  Some of them may be pics I’ve already posted but I’d like to honor the last twelve months by remembering them. 

I will try and give them some sort of chronological order but I can’t promise there won’t be rogue pictures from time to time.  I’m not that good. 

 

money

The first Friday I was in Cayes, the Moses’ took me to town to change money and buy groceries.  I remember it being quite an overwhelming experience and tried for weeks to blog about it.  I eventually gave up, I was in sensory overload, and this normally observant processor was out of words.