Saturday, July 9, 2011

Give thanks in all circumstances

This morning waking up at my mom's has been wonderful! I started spouting off a list of things I am so thankful for or really enjoying about home so I thought I would give you a little taste of my thoughts right now:

My thoughts of thanks this morning:

  1. I didn’t wake up to clanging of the dog box or to dogs barking
  2. I didn’t have to sleep in a cocoon of the mosquito net.
  3. I didn’t have to put on bugspray immediately when I got out of the bed.
  4. I was able to sleep in a queen bed and I could spread out instead of my twin bed.
  5. I had a fan blowing on me without worrying about using up my battery power.
  6. I was able to check my email from my bed at whatever time I wanted.
  7. I was able to eat cereal and have hot tea!
  8. I get to eat breakfast with my mom!
  9. I can wear pajama pants and not be sweating!!!
  10. I can walk around barefooted without lots of grime on my feet.
  11. I can flush the toilet without having to pour a bucket of water in it.
  12. I get to use a fresh towel!!!

Ahh what a life we are blessed with! I am so thankful to be home but I can’t tell you how many times I have already thought about Cannaan, the kids, the rooomates, and Haiti this morning. I hope that doesn’t change. Thank you Lord for your blessings!

Home again Home again!

Well, we have returned! Bethany and I flew back into the Charlotte airport at 5 pm yesterday!!! It is so good to be home and mostly so wonderful to see family!

The trip home was a long day that is for sure! The night before leaving I got only 30 minutes of sleep and Bethany only a couple of hours. We wanted to squeeze every possible moment in and we both wanted to do a couple of special things for the kids before leaving. Thursday night we hung out with the kids after dinner since we wouldn't see most of in the morning before leaving. We received tons of precious notes and cards from the kids, shared LOTS of hugs, laughed and even saw a few tears. It was hard to say good bye but so great to know we were coming home.

After bedtime for the kids we walked back to our DARK house....the generator was still out and so still no power in our house. We were left to pack by flashlight, candle light and head lamp! I think my head lamp was probably my most useful item I took.....right after BUG SPRAY! Quite a challenge to pack in the dark :-) Once packed I got started on my little project. I always do this- wait until the last possible moment to start this awesome, time consuming project, but I love it! Earlier in the day I had this grand idea to make some art to leave for the kids to put in their houses. Right after lunch I scoured Canaan for some scraps pieces of wood, and at Canaan I was pretty likely to find some! I ended up with eight or nine pieces of wood covered in dirt, bugs, and who knows was else. I cleaned them, sanded them, wiped them down to get them ready to paint. While doing this a little group of interested little boys joined me to help :-) Once all was ready, I got the paint and let the guys paint the boards. I wouldn't tell them what I was making except it was a surprise! They love painting anything and many of them picked up many other pieces to paint. Ferdinand, one of the boys who loves to paint, even decided to give the dog box (the box they drag the dog in for it's burial--see the FB video!) a painting face lift. So with all of the boards painted I sat down around 11pm to craft them into signs with verses painted on them. I wrapped wire around them so they could be hung. I slowly painted letter by letter and finished the project by 2am! Bethany was up much of the night writing amazing letters to each of the kids!

goodbye house!

We left them these surprises on the breakfast tables for the next morning after we were gone. We were planning to leave at 5:30 in the morning for the airport, but in Haitian time that means at least 6:00 or later. Around 6, sure enough Johnny our driver moseys on up to the cafeteria, chats with few people and is finally ready to go. We take off, waving to some of the kids already up busy at their jobs for the day. We head down Highway 1 toward Port for the last time. Johnny the driver takes us the LONG way around getting to the airport b/c last time we were in Port we saw something terrible happen on the road and he won't go that way any more. We drove right through town with lots and lots of traffic. You know that feeling when you know you should be nervous about running late and possibly missing your flight and yet no one around you is in any hurry??? Well, that was me...except I knew I could do absolutely NOTHING about it! So I sat, enjoyed the surroundings, chatted with Johnny and Bethany as we drove ALL over Port and tried not to look at my watch. We kept encountering stand still traffic so Johnny had us weaving in and out of all of these little roads, and I'm not going to lie, it felt like we were getting further and further away from the airport! Finally, 2+ hours later we turned the corner and there was the airport!!! We both let out a sigh of relief once we were finally on the plane then I closed my eyes and dozed off before we were even off the ground!

Once we in Ft. Lauderdale, had traveled through customs, and rechecked our bags we passed a Chili's in our new concourse. We both looked at each other and said: Salad? Margarita? Yes please! Haha, so we sat in Chili's for our first American meal and toasted our fabulous trip :-) Once we were in Charlotte, we descended the escalator to see the smiling, excited faces of Bethany's parents and my mom!!! It was great to be home!

Thank you all so much for your prayers for this past month and more!! The trip was an incredible experience and it's hard to believe it's over! I know there is so much processing, reflecting, laughing to come, but I wanted to let you all know we survived a month in Haiti and it was wonderful! I am going to add some more blog posts because there are still so many stories and pictures I want to share so please keep checking back!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

not to us

Can't believe another week has come and gone by. The realization that we're coming home soon is exciting and depressing at the same time. Here are some highlights from the past few days in Haiti.

Saturday- One of our roommates, Stephanie, had been at Canaan for two weeks working in the medical clinic and flew home out of PAP (Port-au-Price airport) at 8something in the morning. This meant we had to get up at 4something to leave at 5. Typical Haiti happened and we left at 5:35. Johnny the driver said, "I tink Stephanie was a little eeempashunt dees merning?" And after Katie (another roommate) said, oh yes Stephanie was a little impatient, we got what he was saying and laughed. Mollye and I climbed into the back of the pickup to drive 2hours into Port. Let's just not talk about my hair after that ride. Molls brought a hat- smart girl. We got to take tons of pictures and talk about the state of the life we saw around us. We passed many tent villages and saw the extreme poverty that sits in the dust heaps. There wasn't an extreme amount of earthquake aftermath showing near the roads. Katie has been to Haiti several times so she's super helpful as a stand-in tour guide. She says they were very quick to come in a bull-doze the mountains of concrete and rebuild, at least near the roads. The slums were further back. I can't imagine what those were like since I was devastated by what I saw. We got to go see a beautiful mountaintop lookout, walk through a petting zoo at a Baptist mission, visit a wealthier side of town, see the bustling Port market, and passed through City Soleil on the way home- one of the most dangerous parts of Haiti. It felt very dark there and I saw many things I won't soon forget.

Sunday was a beautiful day. The housemates and I have been having "Sunday school" and we're reading through Colossians. We had a great time of discussion and prayer for this community. Church was much shorter than usual. The whole service can last about 4 hours on a given Sunday, and this one was about 1.5 hours. There was a funeral that afternoon they had to get ready for. We decided to go and show our condolences. When the family came in, they stood around the casket and took lots of pictures. Everyone dresses in black and white. You can't wear red because that means you had something to with the death. It was the home-going of an elderly lady who had been involved in Canaan's congregation. If someone started crying they immediately walked out. Haitians don't understand or like tears. A band was there with trumpets and trombones. We left early because two buses full of people came and they needed more room. Apparently Haitian funerals are as big of a deal as weddings and sometimes the whole town turns out. Afterwards we had some roommate time cutting bandanna necklaces for the kids to make and did pilates. :) After eating, Mollye and I got to have a Haitian dance lesson in the cafeteria and learned to Kompa. So exciting because we both love to dance and haven't done much of it this month!

Today we began our last week of school. :( We're working on painting canvases and helped the children finish up those. Mollye and I (and some other little helpers) fixed a mural of a parrot that had been patched over. We had a feast for 4th of July dinner. The Haitian Independence Day is on January 1 but maybe the cook knew because it was a lot of food :). Rice and peas in the mold of a pound cake, tomatoes, lettuce and corn, piklez which is a Haitian "vegetable salad" (I see it as basically a bowl of raw onion slices), and grilled tilapia. Tonight our roommate Katie got back from being in Port all day and brought us Hershey's dark chocolate nuggets with almonds and three candles- red, white, and blue. We sang "I'm Proud to be an American" and lit them. Just kidding about the singing. Hope you're celebrating well, America! Obviously it has been a very atypical 4th. There was also another dog burial- Look on my facebook for the video or get me to tell you about those sometime!

Just got back from devotions with the kids. They know we're leaving soon and it's getting so sad to think about it. God has blessed us with some pretty awesome relationships here. Please pray we'll be a blessing to all around us and use our time wisely these last few days. We also need a good place to leave the art supplies so they can continue to use them when we're gone! Thank you for your prayers and I have been praying for my friends at home. Lots of love from Haiti!