Archive for December, 2011

Heading Home 11/27/11, Saturday

It is 9:25 a.m. and we are now driving home on Interstate 66 near the town of Front Royal, Virginia. Our plane from Haiti arrived in Newark late as we missed our plane to Wash D.C. last night. We were delayed in Port au Prince leaving about 40 minutes late and once we landed we had to pick up our baggage and get through customs, hence we missed our plane. We had had about a 1 ½ hour layover. Continental was very accommodating and booked us a new flight today leaving at 6:30 a.m. to Dulles. They even put us up in a hotel room for the night.

Now the trees roll by at 70 miles an hour as I see the Appalachian Mountains around me. It is a new day for us in America, back to our prosperous lives while the people of Haiti cling to where their next meal might come from. I think we are still partly zombies from this travel having to get up at 4:15 this morning and our bodies are trying to recover from this past week’s lifestyle of beans and rice, cold showers, breathing dust, and hearing the rooster crow.

This was a cool looking plant in Haiti that was blooming, possibly a Yucca.

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The Last Day, 11/26/11, Saturday

As I sit on the 3rd floor rooftop of the Terre Noire church facing the rising sun a white dove just flew by making its way across the ramshackled rooftops. It weaved with the wind in and around the moving palms and papaya trees. With the sun cresting over the low eastern mountain a young boy in a green soccer shirt with the number eight seems to be playing, throwing tiny pebbles on a concrete roof slab. He is now searching in the overgrown vines for something alive. Life is moving along in Port au Prince.

The blue sky starts to brighten with long wispy clouds amidst bright colors of orange and yellow. Pink abounds everywhere. The sun brightens and songs of joy and serenity resound from the church below. The voices, all in unison make you want to cry for the Haitian people. Goose bumps begin to crawl on my skin as the sun decides to come in all of its full glory. I cry for them now. The cool breeze blows in my face as I try to recover from my sadness wanting to know their pain just a little.

Today I head back to America, the land of the free and wealth. With our short stay here we were able to bless one widow with two children building one home. One tiny speck in a mountain of need. The pastor and his associate stopped by at the house site yesterday checking on his flock like a good shepherd. He was the one who recommended her to Forrest as one of the few lucky ones to receive hope for her future. Many neighbors stood by and watched as we worked, some showed signs of jealousy while others watched with joyful hearts for her bounty. Some even helped. I feel good that we were able to do this for her but why do I feel this way? I do not want to feel good until they all have brighter futures. I know that I have wished for the impossible. The pain is real as joyful songs rise from under the steeple.

A prayer – God you seem like a distant God to me now. I sit here about to leave a humanity that seems to have been treated much like all the trash that flows in its streets and streams. Teach me to have hope and faith for these people. Remind me to pray for them as I go back to my home with electricity, heat, and air conditioning. Where food can be had at a moment’s request. Teach me to love others better, teach me to give more, teach me to pray more, teach me to be thankful more, teach me to desire only what I need not what I want. Please God help me change deep inside my soul so that I can change and do more for those in need. Amen

It is now 6:37 a.m. and the roosters are still crowing and the sun is now providing warmth to my face as it continues to climb higher off the horizon. The southern mountains are washed white while the northern mountains resemble the bumpy Haitian roadways.

Waterfall and swimming hole we went to in Furcy, our first day.

This is a close-up of a stone wall in Furcy.

Children who were late to school had to wait behind this rope.

Part of a mutal I saw in Port au Prince.

Family photo taken with a nice view on our way to Furcy.

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Day 5 in Haiti, 11/25/11, Friday

6:15 a.m. Hundreds of roosters can be heard crowing in this morning hour, along with various other noises such as children talking, the humming of motors, horns honking, and the Creole tongue being spoken. It is another beautiful day here in Haiti. Today is our last full day. Where has the time gone? We have worked hard every day and we feel we have accomplished all that we could but I wish we could have done more. There is so much need it is overwhelming. I keep trying to come up with the catch all solution that would fix their poverty problem. I know you have poverty everywhere in the world and that is just a part of humanity’s plight. Maybe a tax system would help, get rid of the political corruption, provide more government jobs, these could maybe be a start to help make an impact.

It is now 4:00 p.m. add we have finished our work here. In the morning we finished up painting at the clinic and we put on the roof of the house we have been working on. In the afternoon we all took four gallons of blue paint and painted the interior of the home. We then gave the woman who will be living here a couple of small gifts, had a short prayer, and then said our goodbyes. I believe everyone present was blessed.

We just went to Garrison’s house to purchase some of his artwork (Garrison is a young man who works at the Blanchard church and lives very close to the church and is an artist.) Linda and I bought a small stone sculpture, a little painting, and 3 pieces of painted metal. The metal pieces were about 8 inches ling of a frog, a dragonfly, and a lizard, they cost $3.00 each.

Finishing up the roof.

Finishing up painting at the clinic.

The woman talking with her pastor as we are finishing up the roof.

Ann Weatherly blowing bubbles with the children.

The finished home in Cite Sole.

We have finished painting the interior walls and are about to have a word of prayer.

Our team of workers in front of the clinic at Cite Sole.

Our leader, our guide, our interpreter, my son.

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Day 4 in Haiti – 11/24/11, Thursday

The roosters are crowing and the sun is rising over Port au Prince, Haiti.

An array of sounds and colors you might see in many parts of the world.

Light pink and blue pastels gently radiate above the distant mountains as curved grooves take form.

The coconut palm leaves sway in the gentle breeze as a new day begins to move.

Brighter and brighter the air becomes clearer as white mists start to fade away.

Life in poverty brings new hope for those who can breathe.

School begins, street vendors peddle, and tap taps move across the dust filled streets.

White washed in dirt.

Today half of our group poured concrete on the floor of the woman’s home we have been working on whole the other half painted more on the clinic at Cite Sole. The clinic exterior is really starting to look great. At the house, for a floor decoration the Haitian workers sprinkled some blue and yellow pigments on the floor with the last finishing coat. I was told that the lady whose home we are working on liked blue and yellow. She carried over 100 gallons of water on her head in five gallon buckets to make the concrete. I was humbled. The finished floor looked Bel – Beautiful. For dinner tonight, which was Thanksgiving, we had rice and beans, chicken legs and onions in a red sauce, instant turkey dressing, canned cranberries, and instant pumpkin pie. We brought the later three with us. We also had two cakes that Madam Sterling had bought for us Blancs that said Thinksgiving – Anniversary. It was all delightful holiday in Haiti.

Morning image from the third story church roof.

Pouring the floor for the woman's home.

The woman carrying one of her 25 five gallon buckets of water.

The finished floor with colored pigments.

Trash in the nearby river.

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November 23, 2011, Wednesday

Another beautiful morning in Haiti. Our bodies are sore but our spirits are high. Today more work in Cite Sole. It was a toss and turn night of sleep.

It is 7:00 p.m. now and we have had a long day. At 7:30 a.m. we left our compound to Cite Sole. Half of our team painted the clinic exterior while the other worked at the home site. I went to the home and we finished stuccoing the walls and prepared the floor to pour concrete. When we left for lunch one of the Haitian workers was just finishing up the block work in the front of this one room house.

We left at noon today as Forrest wanted to take us sightseeing in Port au Prince. Our tap tap driver (Fritz) (he drives us everywhere and Forrest pays him for the whole day) drove us to a restaurant for lunch that Michael and Forrest had been to before which had good Haitian food. As slated the food was excellent costing our table of 11 about 90 US dollars including the tip. After lunch Fritz then drove us to the Iron Market. This is a large modernized artist market and voodoo market all rolled up into one. It was a complete madhouse as everyone hounded us to buy their goods of paintings, wood carvings, and metal works. Linda and I managed to buy a small painting for $10.00, a small metal sun for $5.00, and a small wooden box for $3.00. Michael and Austin both bought a larger painting (18 inches by 24 inches) for $20.00. It was crazy place as everyone was desperately trying to sell you their work. After about 15 minutes we just had to get out of there. Even as we sitting in the back of our tap tap some were still trying to sell us items. Forrest then took us to a recyclable art place that was very interesting. We met “the teacher” and then bought a small piece for $15.00. There were some really creepy pieces there made out of burnt plastic dolls and dirty stuffed animals. Everything was made from filthy ugly found objects. They almost all had a morbid look to them although there were some just about design using patterns and textures while others attempted to be humorous. After this we went to see the damaged Presidential Palace where we ended up going in a tent city located in a nearby park to see a couple of statues of famous Haitians. One is the statues we saw was of Jean Jacques Dessalines who in 1804 gave Haiti their independence. The other statue is of the slave chained to a rock kneeling down blowing a conch shell. It is called “Le Negre Marron” (The Black Maroon). Both of these sculptures were once in the middle of a park but they are now surrounded by homes made from tents. They call this area a tent city. It was strange being there and slightly unnerving even though we had two guys who knew Forrest and said they would protect us. After this, we drove a short distance to see the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, Port-au-Prince, which was destroyed by the recent earthquake. As we pulled up near the police car Forrest warned us that many beggars would come and ask for money but to not give them any. This was true and quite heart wrenching. We walked through the church shell of what was once a magnificent structure full of stained glass windows as the poor quietly surrounded us. We then came home for a dinner of rice and beans, beef and onions in a hot sauce, and fresh papaya juice. Yummy!

Finishing up the walls in preparation to pour the concrete floor.

Lunch at the Haitian resturant in Port au Prince. These two dishes were shared by 3 people.

A disturbing piece of recycled art.

Statue of Jean-Jacques Dessalines in a tent city accross from the Presidential Palace.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, Port-au-Prince after the earthquake.

Our son Forrest helping Woodley do his homework one evening.

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November 22, 2011, Tuesday

6:15 a.m. What a beautiful day from the rooftop at Terre Noire. The distant mountains to the south show deep curved lines from erosive rain, half shadows forcing its reflective half. A slight breeze is blowing as the sun peaks over the third story rooftop. A large white cross welcomes its light.

I just ate breakfast, spaghetti with onions in a thin red sauce, papaya, a hardboiled egg, ¼ cup of coffee, and 8 ounces of fresh juice. I feel guilty when such poverty sits below me. I do feel the Haitians are very resourceful maybe partly because of their democracy. It seemed in China this past summer poverty was dependent upon the state.

The clatter of children begins to amplify with happy crescendos of joy. A water truck approaches with music playing “Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday dear Haitians, Happy Birthday to You”. On and on the music plays as clean water helps keep the cholera away.

“Asta e ala hatta, an matta le-ca sota,” the children sing welcoming the new day, hope for their parents, and a brighter future than they had. A hope for all of mankind.

9:00 p.m. It has been a long day. I am sitting out on a roof top writing under the stars and artificial light. There is music playing in the background and the sound of a truck is starting up. Today we worked on a Haitian woman’s house. We helped put up concrete blocks to make the roof smooth and we stuccoed the walls with concrete. We also broke up the rubble on the ground in preparation for pouring a nice level concrete floor. The woman whose house we were working on was carrying two cement blocks at a time on her head from a temporary structure nearby. She then proceeded to provide all of the water that was needed to mix the concrete. This was a lot of water she carried (over 100 gallons), in 5 gallon buckets on her head. It was amazing to see how hard she was working for her new home. We did not put that much block up but it took a long time to complete. The woman then made lunch for all the Haitian workers. You could see the eagerness and joy in her unbreakable worn face. She was proud and hard working just as much as us, if not more. It was a humbling experience. After our lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the church in Cite Sole half of our team went back to the house site while the other half stayed at the new clinic and painted. The front of the clinic is starting to look like a real place to welcome patients.

The following was written based on how I interpreted the woman’s eyes.

They are here! I must hurry and carry the cement blocks to my new home. One, two, three, help has arrived, they are here. I must get them water for the concrete. Three gallon tubs, 5 gallon tubs, 5 gallon buckets, is eight enough for them? My house is being built, it will be my home to live in. They promised to have this done in July but then they said they had no money left. Praise God! I sleep with no roof but they say I will now have a new roof, even a new secure door. I can’t help cry tears of joy, praise God almighty, he is providing for me. What else can I do to help? More water, they need more water for the concrete. Look at what they are doing, building my walls, stuccoing the walls, so smooth. I can’t wait to touch them. I think I might sleep here tonight, who cares if there is no roof yet. I am so happy, praise God. It is time for lunch, they must be getting hungry. I must make them a hardy meal to help give them strength. They need manna for their bodies. How many meals do I need? The man laying block, his helper, the foreman making my walls, so beautiful. The young man mixing the concrete. That makes four, anymore? I hope they like my cooking, it is for them. My new home will be for me, Praise God, Praise God, Praise God!

Do you now wonder why I am here in Haiti? To see this woman’s face and how much this means to her. There are many people who have made this possible which makes me even more humble. I wish everyone living here could be so lucky. And so do they!

Beginning to start working on the woman's home.

Denny preparing to do the stucco.

The woman whose house we were working on.

The woman in Cite Sole.

The children preparing to sing.

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