Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This week in the news

Ok, so I don’t actually have much in the way of interesting news to report.  But here’s a brief rundown of the events of the last few days.

1)  Of the original crew, Rita is officially the last one left at the hospital.  There are a couple others who have been there about as long as she has but I don’t know them like I do Rita.  Gary and I took Rose Marie and her family (2 adult kids and a close friend) home to Chantal today.  It was hard to say good bye.  I didn’t get to go visit Regine today but I sent her a text message and she called me.  We talked for just a minute. 

2) Diet Coke has re-entered circulation in Cayes.  Gary was in town day before yesterday and found a stash.  He picked up a case for me.

3) A little over a year ago, I began experiencing the phenomenon of carsickness.  If you have any experience with Haitian roads, you might realize that these two things don’t mix well.  I usually take Dramamine when I know I’ll be in for a rough ride.  Today I forgot.  The road wasn’t too bad but it was enough to make me sick to my stomach- I didn’t expel any of the contents of my stomach- just got really queasy.  Still feeling it about 4 hours later.

4) Speaking of being on the road, I am going to Port au Prince tomorrow.  There are some things I need to spruce up the little apartment behind the Guest House that are just much more easily found in Port than here in Cayes.  I actually really love going into Port so I’m looking forward to the day.  What I’m not looking forward to the 4:15am wake up call and the 5am arrival of my ride.  Gary confirmed the trip with me on Instant Message earlier today.  It went something like this:  Gary:  We’re on for going to Port tomorrow.  Me:  WHOO HOO!  Gary:  I’ll be at your house at 5am to pick you up.  Me:  Not whoo hoo.

5)  I’ve been asked to teach a weekend class at the “Welcome University”.  Its a language school and they want me to teach an English class.  They’re willing to work with the fact that there will be times when I am not available, like when I am out with teams.  Its not a ‘special honor’ or something unique and different that I’ve been offered the job.  Over the years many missionaries have taught English classes at various schools around Cayes.  But I’d think it’d be fun.  It’d also be a great opportunity for me to get out and learn the community and the culture and make new friends.  I went on Sunday afternoon, toured the school, met a couple of the professors, some of the staff and was introduced to the classes.  I’d be teaching a class Saturday mornings or Saturday afternoons.  That’s really all I could commit to.  I haven’t told them yes or not yet, but I’m leaning towards yes.

6) In the Bible, I’ve read the first Chapter of First Peter a few times recently.  I keep getting stuck on the words “living Hope”.  I like the way it sounds and what it implies.  I think I need to unpack it a little more. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


People are going home.  Every time I arrive at the hospital I see either someone has left or someone is leaving or someone will be leaving soon.  Just when I re-adjust to the “new” scene, people up and leave.

Last Thursday, when I arrived, Regine was leaving.  She had just received word earlier that morning.   She didn’t have much to say.  Just that she was leaving.  I told her to keep in touch and she said OK.  And that was it.  It was especially hard to say good bye to her mom.  She was going around to all the beds saying good bye to her friends and when she came back around to me all we could do was hug.  We couldn’t even say good bye.  I recently found out they are Catholic.  That can mean a lot of things in this culture.  I have a few other friends who are Catholic and I have had conversations with them and found that they believe in Jesus for their salvation, and have a deep faith and a sincere love for God.  While the Catholic and Protestant church in general has some profound differences, one of the largest differences in this culture is the practice of Voodoo.  While it is not a part of the Catholic church, there are a vast number of Catholics who take some part in the practices of Voodoo. That doesn’t mean that they paint their faces and dance around a fire.  It could ‘simply’ mean that they might pay a witch doctor to put a curse on someone. And it might mean that they give lip service to God saying they believe he is supreme and yet in reality they fear the dark because of the presence of demons and spirits that will eat you.  I saw a statistic which stated that 80% of all Haitians profess to be Catholic, 17% Protestant, 3% other and 50% Voodoo.  Figure that one out.  The friends I mentioned speaking to are in the percentage of those who don’t practice and don’t support it; and they don’t believe you’ll get eaten after dark.  I asked.  I am not sure where Regine and her family falls into that though.  Although I spent much time with them, the setting was never appropriate to get into that discussion and because I really know nothing of that part of the Haitian culture (other than a few statistics) truthfully I never could figure out how engage in that discussion.  The voice in my head keeps telling me ‘But you’re a missionary’….and I’m not so sure what to do with that.  My prayer is that I can continue a relationship with Regine and her family and have that conversation in a setting that isn’t filled with the distractions of a hospital ward full of people.   

I talked to her briefly on the phone Sunday.  She sounded good and she said all was well. 

Dr. William, one of the Haitian Doctors who took a lot of time with Regine to help her work through the depression told me Saturday that he hoped to pay a visit to Regine Wednesday.  I told him I want to go and so I’m supposed to call him tomorrow and if he can break away and it fits into my afternoon we’re going to pay her a visit.  I love Dr. William.  He’s a great Doctor and you can tell he has great compassion for his patients.  He’s unassuming sometimes in how he dresses sometimes coming to the hospital very casually dressed.  A few days ago, he was wearing a soccer jersey, khaki pants, and was walking around with one of these on his head.  That’s when I knew he was awesome.  Since Dr. Bill’s in town, its surgery time so tonight he was walking around in his scrubs, a while lab coat, a scrub cap, and the headlamp.  I told him he looked very important tonight. 

I’d love to get a chance to chat with him in the car tomorrow more about Regine, and about talking to her about her faith.  He’s a solid Christian man and he, being Haitian, would most definitely understand the cultural perspective.  If I can’t do it tomorrow, I’ll try and visit soon.  I really want to try and talk with him soon, too.  Until then, keep praying for Regine and her family.

My boys left today.  When I arrived, I was greeted by Jonathan who informed me they had both gone today.  He said he’s supposed to leaving tomorrow.  My friend Amil (I haven’t mentioned him on here) is supposed to leaving tomorrow. Vann, my friend Roudy’s mother told me she’s supposed to leave tomorrow too.  And my sweet friend Rose Marie is supposed to be exited tomorrow too.  Gary’s going to help me get her and her family to their house in one of our trucks. 

But do you see what I mean?  They’re all leaving.  I should be happier for them; Really I am, because I know they need to move on with their lives.  But that doesn’t mean I won’t miss them,  terribly.  With all my heart.  What it does mean though, is that during the midst of a very difficult time in the history of this part of the world, God gave me a very precious gift; their friendships.  That, I will always treasure. 

special visitors

Two of my boys from the Hospital, Peterson and Frenel came to visit me at my house yesterday. They were actually visiting another missionary, Connie, who lives across the street from me.  I happened to see them en route, on my way to the Guest House for a quick visit, and Peterson asked me to come to Connie’s after I finished so I could help them talk to Connie.  (They needed my translation services, thank you very much!) Frenel (the amputee) was quite proud that he took the crutches all the way from the hospital (I would say probably 3/4 of a mile) down a somewhat rocky dirt road. Connie was ecstatic to see them and she invited them to lunch with she and her husband.  When I walked in the house a few minutes later, both boys were sitting at the table, grinning from ear to ear.  It was quite an honor for them for them to be invited to lunch like that, with a foreign family of blans.  It may have been a once in a lifetime chance for them.  You could see how special it was to them as they just giggled and smiled.  They were both told they would be leaving the hospital Monday so I told them they had to come see me before they left. 

About twenty minutes later I was out in my front yard to run to another neighbors house when I looked out and saw Connie’s husband Dean coming up the small hill separating our houses and Peterson and Frenel, were close behind, still grinning. We had a short but sweet visit in the front yard and I’ve got pictures to prove it.



When I arrived at the hospital later in the evening, they were still there.  The hospital director, Dr. Bill, is an American general surgeon, who spends a week each month in Haiti performing surgeries that are otherwise too complex for the Haitian Doctors, had just arrived late Sunday and before he discharged them, he wanted to do a consult with each of the patients that he had previously worked on (this is his third stay since the earthquake so he still knows a good many of the patients still around).  He wanted a consult with both of them before discharging them.  Frenel said he was hopeful to leave today and Peterson said probably tomorrow. 


The hospital is emptying fast- at least of the quake victims.  By the end of this week, my guess is that Rita will be the only one left of the friends I have known since the early days of my visits.  I have made other friends since then but I imagine my days of visiting the hospital daily are coming to a close.  That’s not to say the non-quake patients aren’t important, that’s just to say, that its a huge investment of time and as are daily activities return to normal (RMI has a LOT going on in the coming weeks, including a team arriving on April 30) I just won’t have the same amount of time to invest.  I’ll be investing in other ways.  If I can get around to it today or tomorrow, I’ll try to make a complete list of names of friends, both past and present, so that you can continue to pray for them by name. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fet la a Kabann 2H ; Party at Bed 2H

I keep saying this, but it really feels like life has resumed its ‘normal’ status.  Though, part of me thinks that the new routine has just become the new normal.  Either way, things have slowed down.  Guests are still swarming the Guest House and we are so busy that I am looking to turn the back apartment into an overflow area.  This is a good thing. 

While the initial drama from the quake is over and the media has moved on to more important things, like Octomom’s new bikini, there are still things going on daily that indeed remind us of January 12.  Before January 12, there wasn’t, according to some ladies I was talking to at the hospital the other day, a number that was considered more or less ‘lucky’ than the other but they informed me that 12 is now considered an unlucky number by many Haitians.  I can’t believe its been over two months since the trenbelman de te a.  (“the earth quake”).

I continue to visit the hospital most every day.  I didn’t go today because I didn’t feel well.  I’ve had a headache all day and my body was just exhausted.  Its not from lack of sleep because I am sleeping fine.  I don’t know what it is.  I’ve just felt really sluggish the last couple weeks.  Maybe its a change in weather.  Its getting hot here.  We skipped spring and went right to summer.  Or maybe its because the rain was coming.  It started raining around 6pm and almost immediately my head was relieved of some of the pressure.  Or maybe my body is just finally letting down from so much non-stop activity over the past few months.

The hospital feels like a little community, a little village, if you will.  There is always laundry hanging around on bushes and trees outside (a common practice you see all over Haiti), people are often sitting together outside talking, making juice, or just taking in some fresh air or down below cooking food.  Patients and family members of patients that have come and gone often return to visit with the friends they made during their stay.  Every evening between 5 and 7 seems to be prime bathing time.  Patients and family members alike stream in and out of the bathroom (which has two toilets and one shower) showering and coming out in fresh clothes.  It seems a little backwards to me, to get all clean and dressed up at the end of the day, but it works for them so it works for me.  Most everyday someone asks me what I brought for them. A few are serious but most of them laugh when I place a kiss on their cheek and say “this”.  For those who are serious, I cannot be angry with them.  They live in a world full of needs and many of them lost what few things they did actually have. 

Since Migline, Ginitte and Jertrude left the hospital there has only been one other person that I was close to that has left.  Last Wednesday when I arrived, Gina was gone.  She was dismissed earlier that day.  I called Migline’s mom the other day and talked to Migline for a minute.  She said she was doing well.  I asked her what she had been doing all day and she told me she had been reading.  I cant imagine that she’d been reading ALL day but I suppose its possible.  I also talked to Jertrude for a moment.  She actually called me.  I had tried her earlier in the day on the number she had given me and then later that same day she called me from a different number.  We got cut off and…I didn’t have enough minutes on my phone to call her back…but it was good to talk to her. 

Even though many of the friends I’ve made are still considered “malad”, or sick, its hard to imagine them that way.  Many of the amputees are up and around, the kids are ‘running’ around in wheelchairs or on crutches, and everyone is in what seems to be great spirits. Frenel continues to be a ham, and a wise crack.  Once when I was talking to someone I said the phrase “M panse sa (m pahn-say sah)  I think so, and  another kid, Jonathan overheard me,  so now every time I see him (and sometimes multiple times during a conversation), the first words out of his mouth are “m panse sa”.  Now, others also do the same.  They’ll walk behind and I’ll just hear, “M panse sa”.   Oliver, one of the older (and by older I mean probably in his early to mid 20s) amputees has been practicing putting his stump behind his head.  Yesterday he told me he loved the Physical Therapist (she been here for two weeks working with the patients) and he wanted me to tell her he loved her with all of his heart…He was joking but I don’t think he’d mind if she was in love with him.   He wants to learn English and he has a copy of a lesson book for people learning Creole but because it has Creole and English he wants to try and use it to learn Creole.  The other day I sat outside with him and some of his friends and we had an English lesson.  It was amusing because I had no idea how to teach him English with a book intended to teach Creole.  But we tried. 

Another friend I’ve made, Roudy also wants to learn English so I gave him a book in English so he could try and read it.  We’ve tried a few times to sit down and read it together so I can help him with pronunciation and translation.  It usually ends up being a crowd-drawer and everyone wants to take a turn reading and I think it frustrates him because a lot of them are actually better at it than he is so I think he is embarrassed so he just lets them do it instead of taking his own turn.  The other day, we were finally able to sit down and have a ‘ti lekti angle’, a little English lecture, without a big crowd.  There is a row of tall bushes outside in the hospital yard that people often sit under because it provides shade so we sat out under the bushes and were finally able to get a few paragraphs done.  There are always people scattered through out the yard but for some reason this day, they only trickled by instead of pouring by.  Sometimes I feel like I’m starting to blend in, and other missionaries and ‘blans’ walk by and don’t even notice me at the hospital.  I like that. There were even a couple missionaries who walked by who didn’t even notice this day, until I said hi to them.  And even though being under a bush sounds like an obscure location, its not at all.  

I’ve made friends with a group of girls, mostly daughters of Rita and Rose Marie and a few others, along with a couple girls who are in the hospital for themselves.  Every day I am asked by someone if I have a boyfriend.  When I tell them no, they want to know why not.  The answer to that question is complex and not easily understood from a cultural standpoint so I usually just respond that I am waiting on God.  They don’t really buy it and press me.  Its quite cultural to believe that its my responsibility to find a good man and hold on to him.  Waiting on God, even in some Christian circles, seems almost secondary to that.  But I do the best I can to explain to them, I’m waiting on God.  Somehow its become kind of a joke between the ladies, their daughters, and myself and when someone new asks me that question, I’ll ask my girls to explain it for me and in unison they’ll say,  ‘she’s waiting on God’.  Some how the conversation turned in a big joke one day and I asked all of the girls if they had boyfriends…NO.  Well why not?  You’re asking me, but you don’t have one yourself???  So we formed an association.  I suggested calling it “N’ap tann Bondye”, “We’re waiting on God”.  They prefer to call it, “Chache gason yo”, “Searching For Men”.  Don’t judge, we’re just having a little fun!    In the course of a conversation, and I have no idea, where it came from, they decided that we needed to have a party.  So last night, we actually had a party at the hospital, in the middle of the ladies ward.  The original party was supposed to happen day before yesterday.   I wasn’t sure exactly how serious they were so for fun, I bought some cookies and hard candies and when I arrived at the hospital, they asked me if I brought stuff for the party.  They were thrilled when I pulled that out of my bag.  And, yes, they were serious about having a party.  But they told me we would have to do it the next day because they were still searching for the food.  Sandra and her brother, Yves, had actually gone to town that day to search for chicken and other things to make for the party.  So the first night, we decided we would have the sweet foods and the next night, the salty foods.  So, we shared the cookies and candy with all of the other patients, our group sang a song (the only song I completely know in Creole), “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” and then and we followed that up with the only logical thing, we ‘danced’, which mostly consisted of us standing in the middle of the room and dancing awkwardly for a few seconds and everyone breaking out in laughter and then we’d all scatter and sit down until we gathered the courage to stand back up and do it over again.  People from the other ‘rooms’ in the hospital came to see what the fuss was all about and stood around and laughed at the hysterics as well. 

For the party last night, I was asked to bring a case of Tampico, (fruit punch) and they would provide the rest.  I was still unsure if it was really going to happen but just for fun, I brought the Tampico and sure enough they had the other fixins.  They had each put $10 into the pot to buy the food and then the girls cooked everything.  The party was supposed to start around 4 and in true Haitian style, it commenced right on time, around 6:30.  They put two small bedside tables together between Regine and Rita’s bed, covered it with a couple pillow cases and set the food out.  All the girls showered and changed into their cute party clothes and Valenteen and Regine, both who normally wear gowns all day, got dressed up, put on cute clothes, and did their hair and make up.  Regine’s cousin even came out all dressed up, and took pictures for the event.  Again, people from other rooms in the hospital, streamed in and out, checking out all the commotion.  They wanted to know why they weren’t invited and I ask them if they were searching for men…the guys especially appreciated the question.  I did tell them, if they wanted to coordinate a party in their ‘room’, I’d be happy to bring Tampico.   We shared the food with the ‘malad’ in the room and as many others as we could.  We danced and laughed and ate; and laughed some more.  Rita told me it was a good moment for her, that it helped distract her and keep her mind off what she had lost.  It was fun to hear all the laughter through out the hospital. 

After the party, I went over to the guys wing and spent a little time with the guys and their families.  Valson, one of my teenage buddies (he’s 14) is always telling me that all Haitians are mean; every single one of them, including himself.  And he tells me that all blans are shish; or stingy.  He’s kidding but he tries to be tough when he says it.  Last night, he told me I was shish; and then he asked me if I would give him a radio.  I asked him what he was going to give me and he said he was just a kid and he didn’t have a job.  Ok, good point.  But then he told me he’d give me a boyfriend.  (See?  It comes up everyday…) I asked him about all Haitians being mean and was he going to give me a mean boyfriend.  So then he told me he’d give me an African boyfriend.  I asked him who he knew that was African and he told me the rapper, 50Cent.  I told him no thanks.  Then he told me that God had told him that he was supposed to do this so if I didn’t accept his gift God would punish him for not doing what he was supposed to do.    And then he told me that he'd find me a Haitian who wasn’t mean.  One that was too young to have become mean yet.  Really?  A kid?  For a boyfriend?  Then he told me he really wanted an IPOD.  But he’d be OK with any MP3 player.  And that he’d give me his baby sister.  Sounds fair, right?

Each day, my hope and prayer is that I can be of some encouragement to the sick, to my friends, and others I meet in the hospital.  And they often tell me that they appreciate me and miss me when I’m not there.  Regine’s mother even told me once, that when I didn’t come for two days, she was afraid that I had left them and had gone back to the states and that she would never see me again.  But truly, they have also done so much for me.  The days I can’t make it for whatever reason, I miss them all.  I think about them and hope and pray for their healing.  What they’ve given me is something special.  Without even meaning to, they helped me improve my Creole.  Immensely.  And while I still can’t understand everything, and sometimes I have to ask them to repeat themselves two of three times, I can almost always get the jist of what they’re telling me.  And they seem to understand me as well.  But what they’ve also given me is friendship,  they’ve given me a community. Something I was so desperately missing for so long.  Today I had sent Roudy a text message telling him I couldn’t make it, because he had wanted to do another English lesson.  I has asked him to greet the others for me and a little while later Regine called me just to check on me.  Sandra just sent me a text message saying she hadn’t seen me today.  I know they are all ready to go home.  Most of them have been there for so long.  Rita, for example, has been here (or at Bonnefin) since only a few days after the earth quake.  But selfishly, I’m not ready for them to go home.  They’ve become my family, too.  And while its possible to keep in touch, its not the same as going everyday and seeing them, all at once, all in one place.  But for now, I’ll enjoy the moments as I can.  And I’ll attend as many parties to which I am invited. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

the war on termites..and mice…and mold…

Thursday, I made a mental list of things I had “wrong” in my life.  It was a really short list and actually rather amusing.  I had termites in the door frame around my bathroom and in one of the cabinets.  I had mice that kept eating things in my room and in my closet- crackers and snacks that I had no other place for.  I had mold growing on the ceiling of my closet that was caused by a leak that was growing with each rainstorm.  My cell phone was dead and it had no minutes on it.  AND I had a headache.  These were all minor problems that were annoyances but nothing tragic or serious.

I made this ‘list’ Thursday afternoon.  Friday, around 2:30am, I was greeted by the presence of a tarantula on the wall about a foot and a half from my face.  I hadn’t fallen asleep yet and had been tossing and turning for awhile but had just closed my eyes and was drifting off when I heard a mosquito buzz by my ear. I swatted it away and opened my eyes for a moment and when I did, I saw a dark spot on the wall.  It took a minute for it to register with me that there was something there but as soon as it did I flipped on the light to discover a tarantula.  It quickly ran behind the curtain and then down behind the bed.  I stood in the middle of the room wondering what to do, and where I was going to sleep because I wasn’t going to sleep on THAT bed with THAT thing back there. It took a minute but I gathered my courage and moved the bed and found it crouched along the wall.   I didn’t want to kill it with a shoe because that meant getting awfully close to it before I was guaranteed a kill.  And I couldn’t remember exactly where the broom is stored and I didn’t want to risk the tarantula escaping; at least this way I knew where it was.  So I grabbed the only thing that made sense, a large rock that was holding my closet door open.  I prayed.  I aimed.  I let go.  And it died.  Ta da.   I killed a tarantula.  Its actually the second one I’ve found in my room.  The first one was a little one inside a suitcase that hadn’t been securely fastened.  Friday it was a bigger one. 

At this point, I was still amused by all the things happening at once.  Its life.  Problems like this are expected.  Especially in Haiti. 

Saturday, though, it wasn’t funny anymore.  I had discovered towels in my bathroom cabinet that had been eaten by something.  At first we thought the mice, but later realized it was the termites.  I found extensive damage along the door frame to the bathroom and I as I searched I also found substantial damage along the door frame to my closet and in my closet.  In my closet the mold was growing and it smelled horrible.  In fact it was making my whole room smell moldy and clothes and other things in the closet were beginning to pick up the scent.  I discovered a roll of toilet paper that was soaked- from the rains two weeks ago and then another roll and another roll.  A total of 7.    DSC_0493Three of which had  also been chewed by mice and the paper shreds were all over a shelf in the closet; DSC_0498 they were now nesting.  I knew I had to do something.  Saturday afternoon I put all of my clothes and anything else I could into plastic storage containers. I kept enough clothes out and put them in a suitcase- everything else was put in a plastic trunk.  I got a cooler and put in all the food stuff (which was already mostly in plastic containers).  While cleaning and clearing I continued to find evidence of mice.  Everywhere.  And water.  Everywhere.  The leak was even larger than expected and it had come down the wall and had soaked a pile of clothes and filled two open plastic storage containers which also had other things in them.  The water had now been sitting for two weeks.  And the clothes which were wet, were mildewing and smelled as though they had also been used as a restroom stop for the mice.  I spent the whole day cleaning and packing and throwing away.  By the end of Saturday I was thoroughly frustrated and thoroughly exhausted.

Yesterday I took it easy.  I missed church because although Haiti doesn’t ‘celebrate’ daylight savings time, my phone does, and it changed the time automatically so I woke up and thought it was an hour later than it really was.  Oops.

This morning started early, with guys coming to fix the roof, arriving just after 7am.  They’ve been repairing and banging corrugated metal into place all morning.  And then Wilfrid arrived shortly after 8:30am and he began drilling holes into the cement in which we can place the termite poison.  He is off now looking for a smaller drill bit.  Its been a noisy morning.  Hopefully these things will at least begin to solve the problems.  Now if I could just figure out a way to kill the mice.  They’re not touching the traps.  I’m hoping all the noise and banging on the roof scared them off- at least temporarily.  Maybe I should get a cat.  I wonder if Bubba would eat the cat…..

Monday, March 8, 2010

different today

I visited the hospital this afternoon with a couple friends who met me up there.  The hospital really is beginning to feel lonely and empty.  There are plenty of people still there but something about it feels different.  For a while, I’d become a welcomed visitor to everyone.  I’d sit and chat and the whole section would joke and laugh and chat together.  But now when I arrive, I often feel like a stranger; I feel looked upon as an outsider.  I don’t know that I am, but I feel that way at times.   And yet as I visit with my friends, I can’t help but meet the new patients moving in.  They’re sweet and wonderful as well.  I feel guilty at times because I don’t have the emotional energy to invest in them the same way I have been with the others for the last two months, though.  There are times when literally, someone will come and find me in another part of the hospital and jokingly (in all seriousness) ask me why I haven’t yet visited them.  I now make a point to at least walk up and down the aisles and at least say hello to everyone.  Some of them, whom I have never even officially stopped and chatted with greet me by name.  While I miss those who have left terribly, I haven’t called them.  I feel guilty for that as well.  Many of them, I have grown to love dearly and yet, I haven’t the time to call them.  But really, the reality is I need to make some time and just do it.  I know they would be happy to hear from me and I would be happy to talk with them as well. Hopefully I can make some time to do that soon. 

Life continues to move forward and January 12 sometimes feels like the distant past.  We haven’t forgotten the tragedy as we are in one way or another reminded of it daily.  Yet, it still feels so long ago.  It will have been two months ago on Friday. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

A week already?

I can hardly believe its just a few hours away from Saturday. Its been a whirlwind of a week.

Saturday.  It rained for a few hours and flooded in Cayes and surrounding area. I heard there were people who died; about 20 or so from what I understand.  In some places water was neck high.  There are still low lying areas around Cayes and up further towards Port that are wet. 

Sunday.  While at church, my roommate’s car rolled down our hill and landed on its backside. I tried to get pictures several times but had battery problems and couldn’t get it with my camera.  She had walked to church that morning so one was in in it.  But its a strange thing to come home and find your car in a ditch, or a ravine, or not where you left it.  It rolled down and then up a small incline, over a bush, and clipped a phone pole before landing on its back.  Had it continued to flip backwards, it would have hit the house on the hill below us.  Fortunately it stayed put and they chained it up to keep it from falling.  Its in the shop now and seems repairable.  It should be ready in about a week.  Sunday afternoon my friend Lisa arrived in Cayes for a short visit.  She brought me lots of lovely things like cheese , snacks, a chair cushion, flips flops, a cozy blanket and a white noise machine (thanks Alison!!!) We had Chinese food for dinner and made a plan to stay over night in the Bahamas on Monday night.  She flew in with a friend who is a pilot, who has been doing relief supply flights to Cayes.  The trip to the Bahamas was courtesy of him.

Monday.  Benjamin took Lisa and me to the airport at 10am.  Paul was supposed to arrive around 10:30am.  Around 11:15, Lisa looked at me and said, “You have your passport, right?”  I smiled and said, “nope”.  She smiled and said, ‘You’re kidding right?”  I smiled and said, “Nope”.  And then I took a taxi back to the Mission Center- about a 15 minute drive on the oldest, most decrepit motorcycle in Haiti.  I wasn’t afraid for my safety, only the comfort of my posterior. I retrieved my passport and took a 15 minute drive back on the oldest, most decrepit motorcycle in Haiti.  I found out my driver is a farmer in the area who lost three of his cattle and many pigs and goats.  He also lost some of his crops.  Paul arrived and we left sometime after 1pm.  We arrived in the Bahamas sometime after 4pm.  It was windy and cold.  We checked into the hotel, spent a little time there and then met some of the Methodist Habitat for Bahamas guys for dinner at this great little local restaurant full of mostly Bahamians and only a couple tourists other than ourselves.  After a great meal, we took a taxi back to hotel and I went to bed. 

Tuesday.  I woke up still in the Bahamas.  Its wasn’t cold but it was still chilly.  We loaded up the plane at the Methodist Habitat hanger with some supplies for Cayes and took off around 11am.  We arrived in Cayes around 1:30pm, Benson met us, took us to lunch at a local Haitian restaurant and then took them back to the airport where we said our goodbyes.  I can’t even remember what I did Tuesday afternoon other than visit the hospital.  But whatever I did, I was busy tying up the ends of things that were left on Monday.  Oh, I remember; I got a call from Gary saying Dan Shoemaker and Kim Rose (the new VP of RMI) were in Haiti.  He was in Port picking them up and would be back later that evening.  I spent the afternoon making arrangements for their stay.  And then after their arrival, we all went to the Chinese Restaurant, again.  Often at the Chinese restaurant they don’t have what you want, so you have to come up with an alternate choice.  I always order the same thing Schezwan Chicken,  They’ve always had it however this night,  the waitress told me they didn’t.  I ordered my back up; honey garlic chicken. They didn’t have it either.  I had take time to review the menu now, so I told her to come back to me.   I can’t even remember what I ordered the third time, but whatever it was, it had chicken.  A few minutes later she came back out and told Gary they didn’t have what he had ordered.  So he reordered….honey garlic chicken.  And miraculously, they had it.  After everyone had gotten their food, except me (this wasn’t the first or the second time I’d been left til last) she came and told me they didn’t have what I ordered.  In fact, they only had lobster.  I could get whatever I wanted with lobster.  Really? I don’t really even like lobster.  But I was left with no choice.  I ordered Schezwan lobster.  And as everyone else was finishing their food, mine arrived. 

Wednesday.  The water pump went out on the other hill.  My hill had water but the hill that the Guest House is on, didn’t.  Well, they still had water but it was a slow trickle.  It was enough to make do with but not to really cook and clean with.  So, I had to get water carted over to the Guest House from the Depot where we store our trucks and other things.  After the service on Wednesday I got a call from Dan.  He asked if I had any cold cokes.  He and Kim came up and we sat on dimly lit porch and discussed random things- the Haitian culture, ice cream machines and the iron work on the porch.  After a nice chat, they headed home.  I sent them away with toilet paper.  Hey, what can I say, I am the Haiti Hospitality Coordinator, I do what I gotta do…know what I’m sayin’?

Thursday.  I went to Baradares. We left Cayes at 7:30am.  Its a small town about three hours away from Cayes.  Its a rough ride on a good day.  This wasn’t one of it’s better days. My neck and back are still sore.  The route was up the mountains over some extremely rocky paths.  This day, those paths were even rockier, slick with mud, and full of ruts and small ravines carved out by Saturday’s rain.  I went because they were making a relief delivery of rice and beans and some other supplies and needed a staff representative.  I was also going to take a few Hope for Kids pictures.  I couldn’t get many school kids pics because school was still closed due to all the flooding.  This was one of the places where water was neck high- in the school.  They lost 10 church benches that the water washed out the door and down the road.  It was rainy and foggy all the way up and most of the way back.  I was hoping for a more creative way to describe the condition road rather than just say it was bad.  Here is what I came up with.  I held a pen to a piece of paper and let the road take the pen where ever it was going.  Here’s what it looks like- this was over less than 5 minutes.   Try doing it while driving around town and compare.baraderes 










I visited the hospital after returning.  I found Migline and Ginitte gone.  And Gina was on her way out.  I knew this day would come but wasn’t ready for it.  The hospital seems a bit empty without them there.  Others will be leaving soon.  I’ll try and prepare myself better for their departure.  Thursday night Dan, Kim, Gary, Marilyn, myself and a few of the Haitian staff went to a place called Gelee (Jehley)  Beach for rice and beans, fried plantains, pikliz, conch, griot (fried pork) and fish.  Its one of Dan’s favorite places and Kim needed to be introduced to good local cuisine.  The food was great.  We dined by candle light- small candles stuck in empty glass bottles, and stuck inside small plastic cups to protect the flame from the wind.  Eventually the cups melt.  But its a good idea while it lasts. 

Friday.  I received a message at 6:20am.  Madame Ti Jean (one of the ladies who works at the Guest House) asked me to call her. That's not usually good.  I called and found out the water was completely out.  Sam was planning on taking over a couple more containers later in the morning but apparently whatever had been left in the pipes was now completely gone.  They had no water and they needed it to prepare some of the food and to wash the dishes.   I told her I’d figure something out.  Benson came to the rescue again.  They now have water; plenty of water.  Sam took some more over later; in 2 large 10 gallon containers and buckets.  I wonder  how long it will take to get the pump working again.  When the water was out on my hill, it took a week. The group staying there now is leaving in the morning but we have another visitor coming on Sunday.  We’ll see what happens. 

Saturday.  It hasn’t happened yet.  But Jenn is in town and we’re going shopping in the morning.  By shopping I mean to the market in Cayes.  I need a new purse.  Did I mentioned the strap broke on mine this week?  Yep, so I need a new one.  And she needs a back pack.  And I might try and find some cute shoes, really cheap…..

Sorry for such a long post.  I should write a quick update each day, but as you may or may not be able to tell, by the end of each day, its been an exhausting adventure and I’m just too tired to sit down and process it all.  Life in general has returned to ‘normal’ and the activities which fill our days may still be random but they’re less urgent than they had been.  I haven’t heard much news out of Port either.  I know there’s still lots going on there and lots of needs still exist, I just hope and pray that those needs will eventually be met and life can return to normal for those who lives have been turned upside; or at least maybe they can figure out a new standard for normal. I imagine that's probably more likely the scenario.