Monday, May 30, 2011

Haiti Day 3...the good stuff

We rose early today to gather for a meeting this morning at 7am and one of the members talk to us about John 4 and the woman at the well.  Living water is the only thing that satisfies and makes any long term difference in a life.  We were in organized chaos this morning.  Unpacking all the 20 some bins and 23 suitcases here at the guest house, sorting and sending them to the storage room, transition training facility, the clinic and the two homes.  Some of the group went to the storage room and starting rearranging and organizing some of the many things that have been brought to the orphanage in past months and didn't necessarily find their final home.  Unpack, sort, pack, deliver, unpack.  There was so much and we were so grateful how our churches and friends helped resupply so many necessary things.  We got to witness the value and use of the gummy vitamins today at the feeding program that happens three days a week.  About 150 children from about 4 to 12 are identified and invited to the patio area at the boys home.  The boys at the home help set up, organize and host each of the 12 or so tables.  When the gate opens, these chosen children are welcomed in and go immediately to a table based on their age and gender.  They are so well behaved, probably out of gratitude for the meal ahead.  We positioned ourselves at the tables and helped them do a craft, a cross with beads that represented the gospel message.  Then they sang some great songs and they had a such a great time.  A bible story was told to them as a group, in Creole, so I'm not sure what it was but when quizzed about what they had learned, they answered and were thrilled to get a toothbrush and toothpaste as a different they are than American children. Then we prayed for the meal.  The kids never got up, cried, needed to use the bathroom or anything else.  They all had self control and just seemed to know the rules and the routine.  Then came the food, rice and beans with a small amount of meat.  Some knew they wouldn't eat all of the small portion and immediately poured 1/2 of theirs into someone elses plate or bowl.  No fighting for more or complaining.  Every plate was clean.  Nothing was wasted.  Water to drink and then they were free to play or go home.  We washed the dishes and played with any who lingered.  It was such a great afternoon and if we weren't in love with Haiti before today, our hearts were stolen today.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Haiti...Day 2

After a great night's sleep and breakfast with the team, we were picked up in what was probably a flatbed pickup at one time.  Back inside the cage that protects us from the outside and thank goodness keeps us from falling out, we made our way to church.  It was full and by American standards over full as people packed in tight against each other for the service.  The youngest children from the boys and girls homes sat on the edge of the low stage and looked our direction as we watched them.  The worship time was great and the message about having an attitude that reflects God's promises and ability, was encouraging.  We had time to play with some children in the yard, pushing them on swings and playing hand games.  The language barrier gets to me.  I want to talk to them and hear from them.  A few speak English, but they are the minority.  We came back to the guest house for a quick refill of water bottles and change of clothes and left for the home of the family that had the vision to begin this program and orphanage.  We were served lunch and had time to connect with our team and make some plans for the week.  Then, it was off to the boys home to help them with a craft for their house mom as today is the Haitian Mother's day.  There were some basketball games, soccer games and some pretty crazy monkey bar tricks!  About 5 or so, the women headed back to cook dinner.  We wanted to give the staff the night off and all went well until we were told we had served some dessert bar that was intended for the boys home.  Question:   What could make a girl feel worse than to eat some dessert intended for boys who don't have a mother on Mother's Day?   Answer:  NOTHING.  Tonight we will be planning for tomorrow and what is needed.   I feel so much more prepared this trip.  The degree of poverty here is tragic but somehow I felt more prepared.  The children though, never prepared to see a child 1/2 naked or asking for food.  This morning after the church service Dann went back inside to talk to someone and a man brought in an 8 day old baby, just hoping someone could help him get medical attention.  Another man said his sister has a 4 month old baby girl that his sister couldn't take care of.  Its so much to think about and try to understand. 

Tomorrow we head to the transition program building to paint, organize and build some shelves, then at 2pm we'll head to the boys house for the community feeding program.  Off to the shower and then headed for bed, night all.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Haiti...just say "No, Merci"

We left the house in Ventura about 5:30 and reached LAX in great time, despite the holiday weekend, boarded the plane and left LAX at 11pm.  After a few hours of layover in Miami, some bad coffee and meeting up the the rest of the team, we left for Port A Prince.  Haiti greeted us with a blast of heat and humidity and we boarded the shuttle to the terminal.  The smallest blonde member of our team, the Deeds, was immediately under the watchful eyes of just about all of us.  His mama, had such a tight grip on him, I'm surprised we didn't hear him squeel.  We were given and had read over and over in the airport procedures not to give anything to anyone and say "No Merci" to anyone asking to help us.  From the lines were ushered into, each took his/her turn infront of the immigration desk officer.  Their presentation behind the glass must be intended to break us down and show us right from the start that we are guests and can be removed from the country at the hint of a problem.  I admit I am always intimidated as they look at the visa paperwork, look at me, look at the passport, back at me, back at the passport and then slam the stamp of approval allowing us to move about 10 feet to the baggage claim area  A uniformed guy approached us asking how many carts we needed and though we remembered to say "No, Merci" it came out 4, 4 please!  Dang! That lapse in memory cost us the first $20.00.    In our defense, the US has effectively taught its citizens that when a uniformed anybody in the airport asks a question, we answer. Period.  No hesitation, no questions.   No body wants to be "that guy", the one who shuts down the airport for some security situation because he hesitated in answering the "uniform guy's" question.  So we did.  After all 23 checked bags, with nearly 1200 lbs of supplies and 12 carryons, we headed out.  Uniform Guy asked for our gate passes and our luggage claim tickets.  I'm pretty sure the correct answer was "No, Merci" but instead we each handed over the small claim tickets because "Yes we want to take our bags with us and your uniform has "obey me or go home in a box" written all over it, so here".  It took all of 20 minutes for the real baggage guy to find Uniform Guy and give him another $20.00 to buy back those baggage claim tickets.  We Americans are sharp like a tack we are!  "Big" wearing a hat that said "Jesus is the Boss" picked us up, and all 25 of us piled into the back of a caged truck bed with benches on each side and 2500+ lbs of luggage piled on top.  A bumpy potholed road lead us to the guest house and we listened to some information about the area, tent cities etc... while said Americans sweat the equivalent of a small swimming pool...and oh how I was wishing for one earlier today.  We were given an orientation, introduced to staff and then taken on a tour of the boys' home, girls home and sports center.  An afternoon full of darlings whose smiles could light up the darkest night. The Deeds and some of the young boys traded water bottle sprays and touching each other's hair.  Back to the guest house for dinner and some cause conversation explaining the history of the Manesstero family story of coming to Haiti.  Tomorrow, church then lunch and planning for the week.  Its been great so far.  We are all exhausted and as I finished this up at 9:30, I am pretty sure I am the last one standing and that is just about to end.  Thanks for praying.  I'll try to get on tomorrow.Sorry, no camera is having Err 99 issues.  Pretty sure a local repair shop would have a guy wearing some sort of uniform that I am helpless to stand up to.  We'll see what a good overnight charging for the camera and recharging for us brings..Night all.