Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Day in the Capital

Team Journal 9 
By Jacob D. 

August 20 
The chatter of team members drifts through the screen as I sit typing on the laptop just inside the door. They are playing Cranium, a game that requires good recall and sharp attention, not something that you would expect from a tired team after a long day in the hot sun! 

The weather today was very typical of any day in the rainy season; a burning sun during the day followed by an hour of heavy rain in the late afternoon. It was our first day experiencing rain here in Haiti and it felt very refreshing after nine days of hot, dry weather. 

Our morning began with a delicious breakfast of fresh pancakes. Shortly after, our faithful taxi driver arrived and drove us 50 minutes through the crowded capital to the outskirts of the city. At the base of bare mountains we found ourselves right in the middle of a refugee camp. This sprawling settlement of tents and temporary shelters covered a large area. Many people had taken up residence in this area after the devastating earthquake in 2010. 

We were here to assist with building a home for a 74 year old Haitian lady. If we finished as planned she could move out of her tent shelter and into her new home by tonight! Since Jason had to fly and Will was busy with her boys, our leaders for today were a Haitian pastor, who spoke English, and a Haitian foreman who had experience in building the prefabricated homes. It didn't take long for our presence to attract other locals who offered to help as well. Under the direction of the foreman, and the help of those in the community we soon had the walls up; the trusses followed, and then it was lunchtime. 

At that point we had been without water for two hours and felt absolutely parched! Thankfully refreshing cool water soon arrived followed by a great meal of rice, beans, chicken and fried plantain.  

After that we “burned” for a while (the Haitian equivalent of “hanging out or chilling out) as we waited for the paint to arrive. 

When the paint did finally arrive we were able to apply the first coat of green paint before our taxi driver came to take us back to Jason and Will's. Before we left we took pictures with the happy owner of the new house who sincerely expressed her thanks. For her, owning her own home was something she could only dream of. She fully expected to live her life out in her tent shelter. It definitely felt satisfying to be able to make such a difference in the life of this lady, and it only took one day!  

By the time we were leaving rain was threatening to muddy the roads. Thankfully we arrived home safely before the rain hit. 

After settling back into the Krul's home we ate a wonderful dinner of lasagna. After dinner, when the rain had cleared, we piled into the back of the truck for a ride to the supermarket. Driving in Haiti is truly an awesome experience! We maneuvered through a maze of motorbikes, broken down vehicles, and people that were constantly crossing the street around us. Vehicles cut in and out of traffic and swerved around vehicles parked on the side of the road. Thankfully, rarely do any of these crazy driving tactics cause any road rage!

At the supermarket we were amazed to see several heavily armed security guards patrolling the parking lot. Inside we were surprised to see goat heads, chicken feet, and goat feet for sale! 

Coming to Haiti has been such an interesting and thought provoking experience. It is definitely something I will never forget! 


 The Day in Pictures 

Driving through the capital.






The refugee camp.






Pastor Dieuson and the woman who received the home.


Working together.





Taking a break in the church.





Group picture.


A tasty delicacy at the local supermarket.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Back to the Capital

Team Journal 8
by Jarin V. 

August 19 
7:00 a.m. - Cock a doodle do! I awake to the sounds of crowing roosters. No need for alarm clocks here! While the rest of the group stays in bed to catch a few more winks of sleep I scramble for a light and get ready for the new day. 

7:30 - We approach the gazebo and are greeted by some friendly Haitian staff. Breakfast is ready and consists of some delicious Haitian coffee, freshly baked bread, peanut butter, cornflakes and milk. 

8:30 – The sun beats down on us as we make our way to the school to finish the windows in the main office room. 

11:00 - We head back to the gazebo for an early lunch. Our MAF plane will be picking us up soon so we need to be ready. Lunch is delicious! It consists of white rice and a red sauce with onions and pieces of goat meat. To drink there are choices of cold water, fruit juice and pop. 

11:30 – As we pack our bags we hear the roar of the MAF plane circling overhead. The airplane attracts many people who come to say goodbye to us. Saying goodbye to our new friends is not easy. Hopefully I can return again some day. 

12:45 p.m. – Seated in the airplane with our seat belts securely fastened we wait for takeoff. Soon we are up in the air soaring over land and water. After about 40 minutes we land in Port au Prince. There we are escorted to a waiting taxi who brings us back to Jason and Will’s place. We are greeted with a smile, some banana loaf and cold drinks! 

3:30 - The group, being warm and sticky are given the privilege to go to a hotel for a swim. It is great cooling down and playing pool games together! We then eat dinner; burgers or sandwiches and fries. 

7:30 -  Darkness falls and the temperatures drop as a thunder shower passes over. It's been another interesting day! 


 Some Pictures 

 Men in the village, hard at work.



Boys' sleeping quarters.



MAF's caravan.



Haiti from above.



Salt flats.





Thursday, September 4, 2014

Final Day in Anse Rouge

Team Journal 7 
By Henk V. 

August 18
Lightning lights up the night sky. It has become our ritual to star gaze in the evenings. Tonight however, most of the stars are hidden by dark clouds that skid across the sky. Lying here now, I reflect on the day. 

The morning began early with a 5:30 a.m. visit to the local market. Obed and Thony, our two translators, accompanied us. As we walked the sky slowly lit up as a new day dawned. The closer we came to the market the more people and donkeys joined us. 

When we arrived, vendors were busy setting up. Some arranged a few neat stacks of mangoes and limes on a mat on the floor, while others organized a wide assortment of imported goods such as rice, juice powder, cookies and spices. You could also purchase shoes and clothing, veggies, goats, smelly fish and charcoal. 

Later, we walked by a lumberyard where rough cut lumber and poles for fencing could be purchased, a cock-fighting ring which wasn’t being used at the time, and a place where people could winnow their seed and grains. 

Before we were picked up in the truck, Thony bought some bananas and sugarcane for us. Back at the mission we had a delicious breakfast of baked oatmeal, cornflakes, hardboiled eggs and sweet bananas. After breakfast we spent the remainder of the morning painting tables and installing windows at the school. 

For lunch we had Bulgar wheat with a fish sauce. After lunch we relaxed a bit in the hottest part of the day and then continued working. 

At 4:00 p.m. we went out to deliver twelve bags of food to the blind, lame and elderly. This was one of the more moving experiences of our trip. We went to visit people who lived in mud huts and had so very little. Some were blind, others lame while other had simply become old and frail. They could do very little if any work for their sustenance. Many of the recipients told Thony, who translated for us, that they were happy we could come for a visit and that they thanked God and us for the food. We were also asked several times to remember them in our prayers. It was a humbling experience that made us think about how much we have and the huge support systems we have in our lives that we take for granted. We have our climate controlled spacious houses most with garages much larger than the small huts the people here live in. What a difference and how thankful we ought to be! 

After returning to the mission we had some wonderful soup and home baked French bread for dinner. The interesting variety of food we have eaten this week has been a great experience! 

 After dinner we played soccer with the locals at the airstrip. When it got too dark to play, some of us relaxed in the mission house while one of the girls had her hair braided. 

Now we lay, flat on our backs on the airstrip, our final night in the village before heading back to Port au Prince in the morning. 

Suddenly I hear a yelp. Jake leaps up shaking his shirt vigorously. "Do you see something on my shoulder?" He asks. I look, but see nothing. “I felt something crawling on my back! When I tried to brush it away it stung my hand! It feels like a bee sting!” Cell phones click on as we search for the culprit. All of a sudden a scorpion crawls from under his shirt. I swat it with a towel and it falls to the ground where it quickly meets its death. Jake remains rather skittish; every time he feels a little bug land on him he leaps into action. Fortunately no other scorpions appear.  Meanwhile, the clouds have dissipated and the stars glimmer down on us once again. 


 Some pictures.

 At the market.


Plantains.


Life stock for sale.


Driving back from the market.


Sugar cane; a sweet tasting wood.


Visiting the elderly and sick.





Monday, September 1, 2014

Sunday

Team Journal 6 
by Stephan H. 

August 17 
Church in Anse Rouge is a different experience. The morning service is scheduled to begin at 9:30 but in reality begins later as attendants continue to trickle in until 9:50! It is obvious from looking around that the roughly 100 people in the simple building are dressed in their “Sunday clothes”. 

Accompanied by a variety of musical instruments, the service begins with the congregation singing a number of hymns. In between, a few words are spoken to introduce the songs. 

After prayer we are welcomed by the one who leads the service. Although he repeatedly expresses his appreciation that we are here, he reminds his audience that it is not about us doing the work, God deserves all the honour. As he preaches he sometimes asks a questions and then the whole congregation responds. The entire service is in Creole and lasts about one hour and 15 minutes. Before the attendants returns to theirs huts and homes they shake hands and greet each other. 

We return to the mission for lunch where Judy, the cofounder of Lemuel, tells us about the religious changes that have taken place. About fifteen years ago Christians were hardly found in this area. Although this had changed, the connection with voodoo is still strong, even among regular church attendants. People often believe they've been cursed when difficulties and hardships come their way. Lifting these curses can only be done by offering sacrifices to appease the spirits. Judy also tells us that there are only a few that she considers true Christians. General Biblical knowledge is incredibly low and many people have a different view on what being a Christian really is. Some are satisfied with going to church once a week, while others go to church while living a life that does not corresponds with what the Bible teaches. Yet others view church attendance as an opportunity to meet others. 

Unfortunately, the notion of a personal salvation through Christ is often not fully grasped. 

In the afternoon we listened to a CD sermon by Rev. Roos on Romans 12 verse 12: a remarkable call in times of tribulation. This sermon was preached before in Chilliwack in May 2010.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Fun Saturday

Team Journal 5 
By Christoph V. 

August 16 
We started the day with painting the remainder of the tables. When we were finished about one and a half dozen local children gathered at the school; as we had previously requested. 

They started out shy, but as they became more comfortable with us they quickly proved to be typical rowdy children. 

Our group organized the games and they played musical chairs, duck, duck, goose, and tag. The children quickly caught on to the rules of the games and seemed to enjoy them. Several of us introduced them to 'selfies' which they found rather amusing. 

As the children left for lunch we were entertained by the local adults who showed us an assortment of their talents. Two did tricks on their bikes and the others played songs on the piano, electric guitar and bass guitar. After showing their talents Maria played amazing grace as a Haitian sang in creole. 

 After lunch Sarah and Karen played basketball with some of the Haitians, while others fell asleep on the perimeter of the gazebo. 

 At 4:00 pm we piled into the box of the missions truck and headed for the coast. The drive was interesting but also a bit painful because of the poor road conditions. Our drive took about thirty minutes. The beach was beautiful and the water was very warm. 

Shortly after our arrival, the beach began filling up with locals. Some joined us in passing a ball around. They all tried their utmost to communicate with us. We also found some sea life, like sea urchins, crabs, scorpions, and colourful snails. 

We were back at the mission by 7:00 p.m.. Supper consisted of pumpkin soup with the usual fresh bread. At night we relaxed in the gazebo. 

 A Few Pictures 

The kids that came to play.


Playing games.




Selfies.


Sharing musical talents.


The beach.


Natural beauty.


Sunset.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Friday in the Village

Team Journal 4 
By Sarah S. 

August 15 
After a breakfast of cornflakes, eggs and some delicious watermelon and pineapple, we headed over to the Lemuel school where we finished painting the tables and chairs. 

 When the work was finished for the day, Sam, another volunteer at the mission took us on a tour to visit the local watering holes. One was an area that had a wall of dirt around it so that when it did rain the water could collect there and would be easily accessible by the community. The ground was so dry here that it looked like a perfectly formed jig saw puzzle! 

Our next stop was a watering hole where people would bring their animals once a day when the sun was scorching hot, so that the animals would drink as much as they could. This was amazing to hear and see as back home our animals always have water readily available. Sam told us that during times of drought, which were often, the animals would have to wait two days before getting a drink. 

Since water is so scarce the people of this community are very careful about how much water they use. This made me think of how privileged we are back home where rain is plentiful and water is never in short supply. 

After the tour we had a scrumptious dinner of pumpkin soup, avocado, and bread. We were then invited to a prayer meeting that would take place at a neighboring house. During the meeting the people all prayed out loud simultaneously. They also sang songs. We were all in awe by this; their singing was incredible and it was really neat to see the harmony between the people as they gathered together to pray and thank God for all His blessings. After the prayer meeting we, together with some of the Lemuel staff sang a few hymns together and then took turns singing our National Anthems. 

Later that night we headed out to the airstrip where we admired the stars and an amazing display of lightning. We also shared our granola bars with some Haitian men who were still working on building a house, even though it was already 10:00 p.m.! They planned to continue working till midnight! We were very impressed by their hard work and the fact that the only light to see came from a small fire they had built. 

Overall this was another great day that flew by and was filled with eye opening experiences. I am really enjoying myself and I thank all the people here at Lemuel who have been so welcoming and are taking the time to show us many new and interesting things. 

Some Pictures of the Day.

Freshly painted tables for the school.


Henk working hard.


Touring the area.


Animals drinking at the watering hole.


Lots of interesting things to see.




Stephan got too close to a cactus.


Sam, sharing his insights.


Group shot.


Evening prayer meeting.