Monday, January 10, 2011

Trip to PDP & Last 2 days in PC

The last 1/3rd of our trip… Well almost …. Haha.

I guess the whole being good at blogging thing is seasonal… and this is drought season for us…. Thanks for hanging with us though! Not only have we not had much time but I think it has been hard for us to process the last few days… most of the days have been full of traveling… which means our eyes have seen some new things… some disturbing things.

We left off on Tuesday afternoon. Most of the team went to the soccer field… which was a daily thing for Dustin and Jacob. They were so faithful with having soccer games with the kids each day. Haitians love to play soccer… and they LOVED Dustin and Jacob J Soccer is a big event in Haiti… it’s not just for those who play… watching is part of the fun! The younger girls ran out cheering at times… too cute. Jello was a HUGE hit for our team and others this past August… we tried some for desert this time and EPIC FAIL. NASTY. WEIRD CONSISTENCY. That’s all I will say about that.

Side note----- Mary Kate has been doing a FABULOUS job with writing these blogs from a team perspective over the last few days. I, Jessica, however… I am not so good at that J So I will story tell from my point of view. Hope that’s okay with you all!

Wednesday was the day that I was anticipating since arriving in Haiti the week before… It was the day I was going to go to Port-de-Paix (PDP) to bring Summer, a friend, and 2 special little girls to Passe Catabois. One of the special little girls being Sandra… most of you know her story. But I was so stoked to be able to spend time with Sandra, now Phoebe. I even had the whole group about as excited as I was J Anyways… Wednesday came and went quickly. I went into PDP with Chrisnet and Wilfet on Wilfet’s motorcycle to get the girls while Kate, Christin, Dustin, Rachel, & Jacob stayed in Passe Catabois to hold down the fort. It was hard for me to leave them there… it almost felt wrong. But they assured me they would be fine.

The plan was to leave at 9 am to arrive in PDP around 11, make hotel reservations and be back at the airport to pick the girls up at 12. But you know… we were in Haiti. I’m not sure what came over me to make me think that would actually happen. Wilfet showed up pretty close to 9 but I told him to come at 8 am because I knew he would be late… we waited until like 9 45 for Chrisnet… I must admit I was becoming impatient because I had things to do and people to see J All to find out that he was in our guesthouse the ENTIRE TIME… reading the Bible with Jacques. Haha… hard to be mad at that… right?? We planned to take a tap tap in but Wilfet changed his mind around 10 30 and decided that we would take his motorcycle. That was the best idea I had heard yet so we went with it!

I can’t quite describe the joy that that my spirit felt riding on a motorcycle in Haiti with 2 of my favorite boys…. Seeing more of the country and seeing things from their perspective was priceless. The sun beating down and the wind against my face was a beautiful combination J Wilfet took a different way to PDP than I have ever traveled before, he says the path is easier on his moto… on the way there were fields and fields of corn with workers scattered throughout. Some of the land was green and jungle like/mountainous and then 2 minutes later you would be in dessert like conditions. Haiti’s terrain is so diverse!

Summer actually ended up texting me on the way into the city that they were running behind… gave me a sigh of relief to know that we weren’t the only ones! We pulled up at Tortug’ Air and since Summer the rest of her gang had not arrived yet we ran some errands for Jacques (changed money & purchased milk) and set out to find a hotel for us to stay in Thursday night. Tortug directed us to Hotel Kaf. An employee for Tortug, Martin, put us in his truck and drove us over the hotel. I’m not sure if he was the owner of the hotel as well… but he seemed like he ran the joint. My first impression of Hotel Kaf was sketchy sketch. I have never seen a brothel… but walking into this hotel was what I have always imagined a brothel in a third world country would look like. As far as I could tell we had no other option so I went with it. Paid a deposit of $40 USD… literally just prayed that the Lord would work the rest out. When I asked for a receipt Martin asked me for pen and paper and he wrote down his information and what I had paid. Ha. Legit?? I dunno… but I was hoping so. After we got finished at Hotel Kaf, Chrisnet told me he would like it if one of our guy friends would come and stay with us in the hotel. Haha… talk about make you feel good about where you are staying. I told him I would work on it.

*** We picked up another straggler in PDP. Anne-Marie invited a guy to stay with our group for a day to learn English. His name is Shervans. He joined us at Tortug Air and came with us to the hotel and then to Passe Catabois.

When we finished with the errands and hotel reservation making Summer had arrived at the airport. It was so great to finally meet her and her friend Sam. Phoebe was asleep in her arms and Chellda was in Sam’s lap scared to death being out of her comfort zone of the orphanage walls. Summer let me hold Phoebe practically the moment I got there… I am so grateful that she allows me to love her! Wilfet sent us a taptap to the airport and he headed back to PC with Shervans on his moto. I sat in the front of the tap tap with Phoebe in my lap sleeping and Sam sat with Chellda. Summer and Chrisnet took a seat in the rear… Summer’s first tap tap ride J Pheobe slowly woke up and gave me the biggest smile when she saw me…. Made my heart melt J She has such a beautiful little spirit! Beautiful, feisty, spoiled, and a toddler…. Makes for a great combination! She cooed, spoke in her little toddler Kreyol phrases, sang, and explored my face the whole way there. I was in HEAVEN!--- This tap tap ride went a lot smoother than the last one I had been on… no break downs.. no flats… we made it to PC within an hour and a half. My toosh still hurt though. Ha.

The ride was uneventful but I should have known that was too good to be true. When I tried to pay the driver he told me I owed him more money because he had made a deal with Wilfet. Well since Wilfet didn’t relay that message I didn’t know whether or not to believe the man. He wanted to charge us almost double of what everyone else paid. I refused and explained to him that his price was unfair. He didn’t care. He was relentless. Most Haitians are. After 10 minutes of trying to bargain with him I just had to walk away. Anne Marie had walked up so I explained the situation to her. She went and delt with it in a very Haitian way…. He finally got over his anger and explained to her that he came to the airport for us and left without his tap tap being full. So he just expected us to pay for the rest because I’m a white foreigner. Dumb decision on his part to leave without his tap tap full and for assuming I would pick up the slack and dumb on my part for assuming that I would be treated like everyone else on the tap tap. We made a deal and called it a day for the tap taps.

Chrisnet, Summer, Sam, Phoebe, Chellda, and I walked up to find that Wilfet and Shervans had beat us to town and the rest of our group at the soccer field. Everyone stopped in the middle of the game to check out the new visitors and when they found out that Phoebe (Sandra to them) was back for a visit they had to see her! So cute to see their responses. Phoebe went right to Rachel… which was pretty impressive because if Summer is around Phoebe usually wants nothing to do with anyone else.

My buddies gave me an update on how their day was… they said they were able to do some crafts with the kiddos, did some coloring sheets, put puzzles together with the hospital patients, and just hang out.

Dance parties were usually always involved. Dustin and Rosmanette have been in MANY dance off’s this week....

We spent the evening chatting about our time in Haiti… struggles… triumphs…passions…desires…callings. It is indeed a beautiful thing to talk about with our partners in the ministry. Pizza was on the menu.,… I’m almost certain the Lord multiplied the pizza that we brought. We were able to feed our group of 6, Summer, Sam, Phoebe, Chellda, Shervans, Chrisnet, Jacques and Isabel! Phoebe was HUGE FAN of pizza sauce and pepperoni… I’m not sure why but it shocked me.

We actually had a bat fly in the kitchen during supper… haha. Christin and Kate came UNCORKED. Funny to watch! Jacques said in his VERY THICK FRENCH ACCENT, “Christin, no worry. Bat eat fruit, Not human.” Haha, She was not convinced. All it took was turning the lights off for 5 seconds and POOF… the bat was GONE! Jacques is a LIFE SAVER and an expert in the wilderness. You would want him on your team… TRUST ME!

It was really fun to see Jacques and Isabel react to seeing Phoebe …. You can see the love in their eyes for the children they have cared for in the past. They are the ones that cared for Phoebe and Chellda when they became orphaned and eventually went to LFM in PDP. They sing to the children they care for each night in a sweet French lullaby. We asked them to sing to the girls…. And they did. Words cannot describe the peace that fell over the room. I could tell the girls remembered them singing to them. I am confident that those songs at night were a HUGE part of Phoebe’s healing process. Thankfulness cannot begin to describe the way I feel about Phoebe having Jacques and Isabel raise her during a very difficult time in her life. They are a beautiful picture of God’s love.

Phoebe fell asleep in my arms after supper and Summer asked if I wanted her to sleep with me tonight…I didn’t hesitate a bit. I was in hog heaven. As soon as I laid down with her in the bed memories of nights with her as a newborn came flooding back. I got a little nervous and began praying that she would sleep all night… I laughed as I prayed thinking “that’s a shot in the dark”… and plus it would not make for any good stories. But to my surprise… she slept most of the night. I didn’t sleep good because I was worried I wouldn’t hear her if she woke up and didn’t want to disturb the rest of my roommates. She sat up in the bed around 4 am… no crying. Just up. I got up with her.. fed her a bottle and she was ready to go for a bit J Haha… Kate and Christin were up with us and we were playing in the room like it was 4 pm. Rachel rolled over and asked “what time is it and what in the world are ya’ll doing??” Phoebe and I went to the kitchen so that we wouldn’t disturb the others anymore. More memories came flooding back. Many nights in the kitchen with her… but this time it was different. She was a secure and happy little girl. I held her and rocked her in the kitchen until she fell back asleep around 6am. I carried her back to the bedroom and we both slept hard for 2 more hours.

We had discussed spending half of the day in PC before leaving to go to PDP but ended up deciding that to drag out good bye’s would be harder than necessary. Dustin and Jacob made a special trip to tell their sweet friend Duff “Na we” --- in english it means “see you later”. They have really come to love him… precious. When I asked them something they wanted to share about their time with Duff there were so many special things mentioned that I have to share with you :) Most of the time they spent with him was around the soccer field because it is so close to his house. Every time they got up off of the ground, Duff would dust their booties off :) Dustin and Jacob said they would dust his off too. Can you imagine a little 5 year old doing that?? Also, one day Dustin had a bandaid on his ankle because of a small cut. Duff wanted to see it so he took the bandaid off. It started bleeding a little bit again... Duff looked around... found some old styrofoam on the ground, wiped it off, and helped Dustin with his wound :) How precious is that?? --- here is a picture of the boys and their little buddy :)

I handed out some marbles and some small things to the faithful kiddos, we packed up, and said our goodbyes and headed to try to catch a tap tap. A large number of the kids live right by the tap tap stop…so we spent some time with them while trying to get a ride.

Ever since July 2010 Kate has had a heart for a little girl in PC named Lushka. Christin and Kate had a dress especially picked out for Lushka (it was hand-made by Christin’s Mawmaw Marion). Lushka is a little girl that is no longer being cared for by her parents… and is living with Madame Jal almost as a slave. In Kreyol the word is “restavek”. Madame Jal is good to her and loves on her but she still has more responsibility than any 5 year old should ever have. Lushka always had the dirtiest clothes… they never fit… you know I can remember being 5 and feeling like a princess when my mom dressed me. It’s heart breaking when children don’t know that love and that empowerment just from being told you are beautiful and feeling you are beautiful. We are all princesses… daughters of the King. We thought it was time she felt like one.

I wish you could have seen her face when she saw the dress…. It was the most precious thing I have ever seen. The dress is turquoise with a little bow at the top with lace at the bottom. She immediately went inside, changed her clothes and put on the new dress, came out immediately and showed it off. A part of me wondered if she had ever had anything that really belonged to her. She posed for a few second for a picture then sat down with us and let us love on her before taking off. It was so special to her that she went inside, took it off and put it away as though it were worth all the money in the world. My heart melted as I began to realize that we all have so much…. And to whom much is given much is required.

I will write more about our journey to PDP as a team, the night in our hotel and the days to follow SOON. Just wanted to give you this portion of the book before it got any longer :)

BTW… we are home now. Safe. Wishing we were with our family in Haiti. But we hope that our family in US will surround us with love and patience as we walk through adjusting to this world. We love you.. stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bon Anne "Happy New Year"

Bon Ane! Or Happy New Year…

So sorry but updating the blog has been an almost impossible task. Where to start? We got all of our bags just after we updated!!! Such a blessing!!! We celebrated New Year’s Eve eating one of the most delicious meals…sos pwa (rice with bean sauce) and crawling into our beds at 9 pm. I know you are thinking…what party animals!!! We woke up around 10am on New Year’s day and Jessica, Kate, and Christin went for a hike with Jacques and Isabel to Toutoon’s House. We were on a business trip. Toutoon’s daughter, Roselanie, wants to attend nursing school. We discussed options including a program that Canada is offering. She speaks fluent French…so that would be the simplest option. They were so welcoming! Bread and ginger jam was served on their finest china. We were also blessed to get to try Haitian hot chocolate…yikes! Just imagine a hot mud shake…that was the consistency…so gritty! We could only stomach a few sips. Overall, it was a great experience. Jacque, the botanist, gave us a grand tour of Passé Catabois. Meanwhile, Jacob, Rachel, and Dustin had a great morning of coloring with the kids near the hospital. It is so sweet to see how these kids respond to a little extra TLC and compassion. The afternoon was spent on the soccer field! What an event to watch small children out run and play the “blanc’s”…or white foreigners! After the game…We spent some time with the smaller kids. We played “donkey”…which consisted of carrying a kid on your shoulders and them slapping your back while yelling “Ale!!!” It was precious…to watch Jacob and Dustin love on these small children! The evening was spent with three sweet Haitian girls…Anna-Rose, Miriam, and Lisa!! They have been with Rob for several months in the Netherlands, and just returned to Passé Catabois on Dec. 24th. We made Mac-n-Cheese casserole for dinner…what a hit! We made friendship bracelets with the girls and spoiled them rotten! After the torturously cold showers…we crawled into bed. We (7 girls) fought for bed space between the four twin beds pushed together! Oh well…definitely worth it! PANCAKES where a huge hit on Sunday morning. We got dressed and ready for church. Ah yes…Haitian church…well we walked in at 10am and they had cleared an entire row for us! We listened to the beautiful music and watched the sweet church members praise God. About an hour and a half into the service a woman stood up to step outside. She became weak and fainted to the ground. Jessica, Kate, and Christin were the closest and offered assistance. What a mess…I mean we couldn’t feel a pulse…she was cold, clammy, and unresponsive. I don’t think I can describe the situation well enough. Several of the men came over to carry her to the hospital. About half way to the hospital and Haitian nurse met us with a stretcher and blood pressure cuff. The woman came to a little when we got her on the stretcher. When we got her to the hospital the family explained that she had been crying all day yesterday and not eating. She had been grieving the death of her child…eight months ago. In Haiti, a person is allowed to grieve until the funeral…and then they must stop. Ann-Marie explained that she is just overwhelmed with grief and was possibly dehydrated. The other half of the team remained in church…Jessica, Kate, and Christin decided to not interrupt church and wait outside for the group. Well…they didn’t leave until 12:30!!! Church in Haiti is an all day experience. They start at 8am and go until 5 or 6pm…with only a break for lunch! We were exhausted…I don’t know if it was from the three girls or the church service, but a nap was definitely necessary. After our nap, we conquered the crowd of children outside our house with bubbles and balloons. Rachel silenced the kids with her soothing voice and music. I have never seen 20 Haitian kids sit quietly for 30minutes…PTL! We spent our evening in the kitchen doing “team time” and making tacky bag lanyards!!! And yes they will be for display on our arrival to the Monroe airport. Oh the laughs we have had together has been unreal!!! It rained and the night air was quite chilly! I can’t explain how great it is to crawl into bed every night at 9pm completely exhausted!!
We went on a team hike yesterday morning (January 3)…which turned into lets go to every kid’s house and cross all of Passé Catabois…with every house we visited, we picked up more children!! It is amazing to see how far the children walk to visit us everyday…kind of gave us all a little more prospective! We spent the first part of our afternoon painting fingernails and toenails around the hospital. It was so sweet to watch the women’s faces when we finished. Even a few of the boys got the nails painted!!! Our team has taken on the mission of helping "Jada", a patient at the hospital, walk. She has been in a wheelchair for months... She says she is paralyzed and cannot walk... Doctor Anne-Marie seems to have a different opinion :) So we resolved to get her moving and out of the chair. It was a task at first... Jessica and Kate on her sides and Dustin moving her feet to help her walk for the first time in months. She has a different look about her now... maybe she has gained some confidence that with a little work she may walk again... who knows?? Say a prayer for Jada.... that she would know that she is loved and that she will have the confidence to keep pushing herself to walk once we are gone. While Jessica, Kate, and Christin organized the hospital supplies, Dustin, Jacob, and Rachel dominated the soccer field with the children! We concluded our day with rice and wolf chili…the boys were so pumped for this meal!!! We are all a little burnt today…guess we will be better tomorrow about applying sunscreen.

Today has been a good day :) Pancakes again for breakfast... just as big of a hit as they were last time. After breakfast we helped Jacques and Isabel move some of their belongings into another house they are preparing for themselves to live in once Rob & Anne-Marie move to the guest house with the girls. So we carted large and small items to and fro for most of the morning. As a treat Jacques made us Passion Fruit juice from his own personal tree!!! (that's right Norman... good things come to those who wait :) :) ) haha... it was tasty! Jessica went on an adventure with Wilfet to visit his family in "FWASION". They went on his motorcycle and she was able to see more of Haiti... her heart :) Meeting his family was fun too... they all wanted their pictures taken. Christin, Kate, Rachel, Dustin & Jacob were on mission to walk Jada again today. She is doing SO WELL! She has come farther even since yesterday :) ---- We have spent some of the day finalizing plans for the days to come. Tomorrow... Jessica, Wilfet, and Chrisnet will go to PDP to pick up Summer, her friend Sam, Phoebe and possibly some other sweet faces :) They will spend the day with us in Passe Catabois and then they will travel back to PDP with us on Thursday as we prepare to head to PAP. There will also be another guy joining us to learn some english..Shervans is his name. Anne-marie things it will be good for him to be around us. So we will see what that adventure holds :) Plans are still kind of up in the air as to where we will stay Thursday night before we fly out of PDP early Friday morning. We have a few options but are confident that the Lord will provide. He has so far :)

Thank you guys for reading and for staying up with us on our journey. we will probably not update until we arrive in PDP. So sorry the blogging has been splotchy.... TIH (this is Haiti.. for those of you who remember our stories from the summer)

Please pray for us... that we will continue to embrace the time we have left... that we would love unreservedly.... and that the King of the Universe would touch the hearts of the ones we spend our days with. We love them very much. And we want the best for them... the best means knowing the King of the Universe...the King of our hearts. Thankful for His promises today... I pray that you are too.

Just a side note...
There have been several occasions of doubt and uncertainty on this trip. We can see the struggle amongst the full time missionaries here in Passé Catabois and throughout Haiti. The frustration of it all is wearing on them. My plea tonight is that you pray for all the missionaries in Haiti. Pray that they find strength and passion to live out God’s will.

Our thought for the day…
The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. –Fredrick Beuchner

We love you,
Jessica, Christin, Kate, Jacob, Rachel, and Dustin