Day 1: http://www.facebook.com/p.php?i=739583638&k=33LYQ4QX4TYC3GM1XDYVPVVSRWKE3T&oid=1260119389035
Day 4: http://www.facebook.com/p.php?i=739583638&k=33LYQ4QX4TYC3GM1XDYVPVVSRWKE6U&oid=1411389493039
Day 5: http://www.facebook.com/p.php?i=739583638&k=33LYQ4QX4TYC3GM1XDYVPVVSRWKF5T&oid=1418255778460
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Haiti Days 2-5. Soooo Much To Do…Soooo Little Time To Process…
I feel like the past few days I’ve seen so much and I’ve tried to process so much that I just don’t have it in me to write down anything…but I know if I don’t I will forget it all, so I’ll do my best to hit the high points…
First and most most importantly, we’ve had spaghetti for breakfast 2 out of the past 3 days. Rock on! Let me just recall a conversation overheard at breakfast on Monday.
Allison: This is so amazing (in a Southern Alabama accent). What is in this…butter? Parmesan cheese? Bacon?
Katie: …and Magic and Love!
Monday was a day to assess a lot of things. We’ve been able to drive all around Jacmel and get a good assessment of the damage. It seems like the more places we go, the more damage there is. There is so much to be done in this city, but I’m learning to trust God…that he will make this city whole again in HIS time…”I learn to get by, on little victories.” On a complete sidenote, I think it is AWESOME that they are rebuilding this city with the rubble left from the destruction. Many people have saved bricks to rebuild their homes. They’ve take the debris from crumbled homes and repaired the streets with it. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons. It’s just a neat thought to think about…Anyway, on MOnday, we visited a school where I was able to speak to a few of the classes and read a childrens’ book about how to cope after witnessing a terrible thing (Thanks Beth!). Their classrooms are so simple. Just a chalkboard, a few tables with kids crammed into them. A few had books but not all, and the kids seemed so excited to be there I couldn’t help but think how much I could teach these kids with just a few more tools (well, that and how much the rest of the day is going to stink for the teacher because I know how disfunctional the kids get in my clasroom after a surprise in the morning). And how easy it would be for me to bring these things down when I return in June…
On Monday we also went to visit the new land where we are going to build a new church building, school, feeding center and hopefully one day an orphanage. It was a really beautiful pieceo f land…partially open, partially covered with these pretty trees that had brings pink flowers on them. In one direction the earth jutted upward into a small rocky mountain, and there was a clearing just beyond that. There was lots of room to expand. I spent most of the visit just walking the perimeter, exploring, praying, and picturing where my classroom would one day be
Not far beyond the new land was the site where some of the church members had started building a house for an older woman who was taking care of a 14 year old girl. Three walls of the house were almost complete when the earthquake hit, but the bricks and cement used were of poor quality and the entire structure needed to come down and be rebuilt. It was a pretty awesome experience working on that project most of the Tuesday morning. We made a video tape like Ty Pennington does on Extreme Home Makeover just before demo. Ayo got all crazy and announced the demolition before Ben and Shane just pretty much pushed a wall down. We did a lot of clearing away of the rubble. The work was hard and it was extremely hot but we made it fun. Jean Marie kept singing praise songs at the top of his lungs the whole time. Katie almost got attacked by a tarantula that was hiding out in a brick we cleared away. Basil and I both ran screaming. In the middle of the work day, we all decided to take a break. Katie climbed a tree to pick custard apples. I made a broom out of some twigs to make the dust removal a little easier.
A few of our team members have taken turns spending a morning woking with the Salvation Army clearing away rubble. Our new friend Caleb, who works with Mentor Leaders and has been hanging out with us most of the week has gotten us involved with them. Caleb is totally awesome! He’s been here pretty much since right after the earthquake. He lives in a tent with a Haitian family…he call his his Haitian brother (also named Caleb) his twin. Haitian Caleb is apparently on the national Haitian soccer team. They are both pretty awesome to work with, and we have learned A LOT about the lay of the land down here…the dangers, the right way to go about things, etc from both of them. Anyway, on Tuesday, Josh who was working the Salvation Army project had taken a hammer to a pipe, which just happened to be full of sewage. As you can image, the pipe exploded all over him. Apparently, Haitian Caleb had just told him seconds before NOT to hit that pipe, but Josh misunderstood. I’ve seen pictures. Disgusting! That sewage has been festering in that pipe for over 2 months! He took it with great stride. The team rushed him to the beach so he could clean off. We’ve been making jokes about it since Tuesday. Instead of Superman, we are calling him Sewage man. Just think, that could have been somone Haitian persons’ last poop before they passed in the earthquake. Sad but true. ON a side note, the team who worked the Salvation Army project on Tuesday found a body in the rubble. Not RH members, but the people they were working with. Just bones and clothing on a bed. Soooo sad. Back to the work days…The rest of us also got an opportunity to go to the beach after workiong on the house. It was absolutely beautiful. Katie, Alison and I jumpted in the water fully clothed. Walter our translator-cop (who is flippin awesome!) was our photographer. The beach was very rocky…totally OK for Haitians to run about on, but I spent the whole evening and next morning trying to dig a claw-looking sharp rock out of the heel of my foot which has made working hard labor ever since a little painful.
Nicholas is another guy we’ve met and spent quite a bit of time working with down here. He is with a group called Foreign Edge and has been working construction type work on several houses in the area. He’s a young kid and he’s been paired with an older couple, Polly and Nick who are really cool, but I think he is thankful for the younger company. Last night we were at a church event that lasted several hour. It was extremely dark by the time we were to head home. Nick’s mode of transportation has been a motor bike, but as we were leaving, Pastor, Fedony and others were trying to convince him to ditch the bike and just ride home with us. We didn’t understand until Caleb explained to us that since the earchquake there had been a lot of cocaine smuggling in the area. Not only were there a lot of “high” people around at night, but many white people had been attacked with machetti’s because the Haitians automatically think that they had money. It was beginning to become more clear why we had Walter the translator-cop with us all the time. At one point earlier in the day, we had seen a mob of people at a gas station starting to break out in a riot. Apparently, Jacmel and Port-au-Prince had run out of gasoline. A small shipment had come in a riots were beginning to break out. We heard stories from PaP that there was a machetti fight for gas at one point. Crazy. We have been very thankful for Walter. He is like a renaissance man! He many not be a very good translator (his reponse to everything is “OK, No Problem”), but is our body guard, photographer, and a constant source of laughter with the wierd things he says. Walter is trainded in like 20 different types of self defense. He’s always watching out for us…assessing the situation, giving instructions and making sure the job is done. He is very stoic ALL THE TIME. We’ve been trying for a few days not to get him to smile. Allison, Josh, C-Tine and I have been comparing EVERYTHING we do to the LOST island (look for a future blog post on this) and Walter is definitely our MR. ECHO! Anyway, Walter has been a personal body guard to me over the past few days. Apparently I’ve picked up not 1 but 2 Haitian stalkers. They live across the street from the hotel and come to the church sometimes. I’ve seen them each day, and the conversations they try to have with me are suspicious in nature. Rodrigue kicked them out of the hotel when they showed up on the roof one night. He said that he had had some problems with them. They waited for us to get back the second night and tried to make me stay downstairs to “talk” but Walter pulled out his Chuck Norris intimidation moves and saved me from that situation. Today, they wrote me a love letter and dropped it off at the church. Silly boy!
We’ve been able to spend a lot of time around the chuch and the Restore Haiti staff and kids. I got to help out wiht the feeding program both Monday and Wednesday, and every day since I”ve been here I’ve gotten to spend quite a bit of time with 2 of my sponsor kids and their mother. Mom has 3 kids…all from different fathers. The third sister is sponsored by Theresa. It has been absolutely amazing just being around them, watching their family dynamic. Theresa’s girl (Lucia) is the helper. Saincia is the wild child…she’s such a boy, always doing sports, always off doing her own thing…the adventurer…reminds me of me. Guvienson is the oldest and he is kind of the sentry. He’s followed me and protected me. When he is with the other boys he just sits back and listens and jumps in when its important. I can tell he is very wise. He speaks a little English and knows French very well. He made me promise to learn French by the time I come back in June so we can communicate better. I guess I’m going to learn French well…I can’t let the kid down. He told me I was his American mother. I almost cried! It feels almost natural the way this family has welcomed me into it. They hug me every time we pass. Mom has given me Mangos to take home with me to the hotel each night. It feels like family. It feels like home.
There is so much that I’ve seen here…so much to process through and I’m having a hard time doing so…not hard in a bad way, but just trying to reconcile these feelings of complete and utter heartbreak (from what I’m seeing geographically and structurally) and the feeling of home, comfort, peace, and love I am getting from my friends here, the people I am meeting, and the attitudes of all of those around me. I think it will probably be quite some time before I come to terms with what I’ve seen…quite some time before I can put any words that make sense to it. I am already starting to feel like “How on Earth will I be able to go home after this…to go home to all of the stupid junk going on with the State of Illinois, the education system, national politics, etc when I can stay here and actually make a difference. Haitian Caleb told us last night that there are so many people willing to throw money around and say here, do it yourself, but the fact that we are here willing to work, willing to give our time and ourselvese means so much more to them than anything else right now. And there are so few of us actually her in Jacmel doing it. It makes me just want to drop everything and stay here forever.
I know I’m going to think of a million more things I wanted to say the second I post this…but this is what you all get for now. I’ll try to blog again tomorrow (but there just seems like so much to do…why sit in front of my computer when I can do something else…).
Haiti Day 1
I didn’t think it was possible, but the airport was even more chaotic than before. There was a Haitian band playing in the entryway like last time, which I didn’t expect and came as a welcome surprise. It took quite a while to get all 30+ of our bags, but thank God none were lost, and with just a little bit of hassle we made it out of the airport. Bags were loaded into one van and 15 of us + carry-ons were crammed into another for the 3hr trip over the mountain. Once on our way, things were actually not as bad as I thought they would be. Of course, much work has been done in the past 2 ½ months, so I know it’s not as bad as it once was. That’s also not to say that there is not much that remains to be done, but when a situation is already awful, making it worse is not as noticeable. There were tents everywhere, as people have either lost their homes or are still afraid to sleep in them. The capital building was a dilapidated shell of its former glory. The crumbled buildings were random … one still standing but poorly built next to one that looked sturdy but completely collapsed, and there was more as we made our way out of the city and closer to the epicenter. All I could say was “wow” … and I said it a lot. But the thing that had the most impact was the increase in people begging and hawking their goods … somehow continuing with their lives, but the desperation evident in their eyes. About halfway up the mountain, just before darkness fell, we passed what was clearly the fault line where the earth had literally split in two. A short time later, we were pulling up in front of the ‘Loving Light’ hotel … home, sweet home! Truly, I can’t believe it’s been nearly two years since I was last here … seems just like yesterday. We got settled in our rooms, enjoyed a dinner of yummy Haitian chicken & beef stew on the roof, briefed for the week, prepped for church, caught up on Facebook, took the best cold showers ever, and crashed into bed. Big day and week ahead of us … so many more stories to share!
See Day 1 pics here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=215549&id=583499324&l=54a6624c86Learn More