Monday, December 27, 2010

Mommy's Happy Birthday!

Today was Mommy's happy birthday! I love birthdays!
This morning Mommy and I both slept in a little because I kept waking up last night coughing. Daddy had to work so he left the house early. When we did get up Mommy and I both ate toast with Dutch cheese and tea. It was delicious! Once we finished breakfast we spent several hours making the house nice and clean because Grandma and Grandpa hope to come tomorrow! We are all very excited! Then while Mom hand washed two loads of laundry I played outside with my two best friends Nicholas and Sabboule. Mommy has gotten a lot better at doing the laundry and she got it all done in just over an hour! We are still waiting for our wash machine, but Mommy is beginning to wonder if it will ever arrive. Once the wash was done, Mommy logged on to her computer and lots of birthday messages came pouring in. I could see it made her happy because she kept smiling and smiling. For lunch Mom made a little pizza for both of us. I love pizza so that was great. After lunch Auntie Christine came to visit and drop off a present for Mom. Mom really liked that! Then at 4:00 we heard Daddy honking and we both got really excited! Dad came in with arms full of presents for Mom! Chocolates, and all kinds of Mom's favorite snacks all nicely wrapped up. He also gave her an envelope with a certificate that he had made. On the certificate there was a picture of a bus and stores and a zoo. Daddy said sometime soon we can go on a bus and visit these places across the border. I think the zoo sounds great and thought that was a wonderful gift for Mom! Then Daddy made dinner for us and we ate it by candlelight. It was a very fun day. I'd better go now though. Mom says I need to get my sleep to get over my cough and I can't be tired when Grandpa and Grandma come tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

O Happy Day, the Rat is Dead!

3 days ago
I'm relaxing on the living room couch after a busy day when I hear a yell. Recognizing Jason's voice, I jump up and run to the kitchen. "What's wrong Jay?" I ask, and he smiles sheepishly at me. "I saw the rat and it took me by surprise." "What do you mean, the rat?"I ask, eyes narrowing. "Since we haven't seen any sign of it in the last few days I've convinced myself it was just a cute little mouse, that has now found it's way back outside where it belongs." "Nope, it's definitely a rat, and a big one too with a super long tail." "Nice." I groan. "And now to top it off it's in our kitchen too! I guess we'd better set the traps again." I look dejectedly at the mouse traps. "These aren't going to be very effective are they?" I ask and Jason shakes his head. "Let's just set them anyway, maybe we can catch its tail or foot or something in it." "Okay," I reply and we both get to work. Once they are set and put into place we make our way out of the kitchen and firmly close the door.
The next morning:
I gingerly open the kitchen door and peek in. Not seeing anything unusual I slip inside and close the door behind me. I make my way to the traps and notice quickly that the bait is gone, but the traps haven't sprung. "Hmm.. a smart one." I murmur. Checking the pantry, I notice it has also gotten into my bag of rice. "Oh man, I guess I'm going to have to spend the day rat-proofing the kitchen." I moan, before letting myself back out. Jayden is now playing in his playroom and I debate what to do. When I knew the rat was in our bedroom closet, I didn't want to tell him, because I knew he would want to go see it, but we go in and out of the kitchen all day so I decide I'd better explain. "A rat?" Jayden questions. "I wanna see it!" "He's hiding right now." I tell him and Jayden's eyes light up. "Like hide and seek?" "Something like that." I reply. Apparently satisfied with my answer he climbs up into his high chair and asks for a bowl of cereal. I get it ready and then put it on his tray table. "Don't forget to pray Jayden." I tell him and he folds his hands and says a little prayer. Once he's finished praying he looks up at me questioningly and asks. "Mom, does the rat pray?" I try to hide my smile and then shake my head. "I don't think so Jayden." He looks pensively in the distance and it's not hard for me to conjure up the image that I'm sure he's imagining.

A cute little rat, all sweet and cuddly. Not exactly the same picture, I have in my mind.

Later that morning:

I walk to Eagle Market and find two big rat traps and rat poison. That evening, I set both traps carefully tying on some bologna as bait. I count nine pieces of poison and place each piece on a napkin on the kitchen counter. I really hopes this works, I sigh as I firmly close the kitchen door!

The next morning:
As soon as I wake up, I head to the kitchen to check the traps. Yes! We got him! The poison has all been eaten and although the bait in trap #1 is gone and it didn't spring, trap #2 didn't let me down. I run back to the bedroom to wake up the sleeping Jason! "We got it!" I tell him grinning and he smiles sleepily. I head off to the spare room for some rubber gloves and then get to work extracting him. For a girl who three years ago wouldn't allow her sister to kill a fly, I've come a long way. I look at the rat for a little while to make sure he's really dead before I squeamishly open the trap and pull it out. I then place it in a bag and tie it shut. I carry the bag outside and place it in the trash. "O happy day, the rat is dead!" I sing as Anoud and the kids watch me. They must really wonder sometimes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sleepless Night

Crunch, crunch, rip. I sit up in bed and peer through the darkness. A second later Jason sits up beside me. "What was that?" I ask, and at the sound of my voice quiet prevails. "I don't know." Jason replies, also peering through the darkness. I lean over and fumble in the dark till I find the light switch from my night light and a second later the room is filled with a cozy glow. Having difficulty seeing, I grab my glasses off my night stand and now together we look around the room. Nothing. "Hmm, it must be some kind of rat or mouse." I tell Jason and he nods. I lean over the edge of the bed feeling for my flip flops and then ease out of bed. Jason gets out too and finds his biggest, heaviest shoe. I make my way over to the main light switch and it makes quick work of dissipating the shadows. Since our room is fairly empty it doesn't take long to check the corners and the few hiding spots. Several minutes later we come up empty. "What was it ripping?" I wonder aloud, and Jason points to the door. "It sounded like it came from there. Maybe it was on the outside trying to get in." We examine the outside of the door but notice nothing unusual. "Maybe it was on the inside trying to get out." I reply, pointing at the inside of our bedroom door. "Look at this!" Jason comes closer and together we examine the door. Large strips of wood have been ripped right off, which now litter the floor. "Wow, this is crazy!" I exclaim, and when one more thorough search of the room comes up empty we both crawl back into bed. Unable to sleep now, I imagine the beaver size rat that can do that much damage to our door. As darkness and quiet descends the ripping and tearing starts again! I flick on the light again, but still see nothing. "The sound came from our bathroom door this time." Jason says pointing. "He must have ran in there and you shut the door before we crawled back in bed." I grumpily slip my flip flops back on and turn on the bathroom light. Sure enough, sharp pieces of wood now litter the bathroom floor. I search the bathroom and the adjacent closet, but still can't find the culprit. "Well, at least he's not in our bedroom any more." I tell Jason as I close the bathroom door with a resounding thunk. I crawl back in bed and wait. Less then five minutes later the ripping and tearing starts again. "It's going to destroy our bathroom door!" I complain, and Jason gets up this time and turns the light on in the bathroom. "Maybe if it's light in there it will stop." He reasons. "I sure hope so." I reply, covering my ears with my pillow. A few minutes later, not hearing a thing, I mentally congratulate Jason on his good idea. Just then I hear a loud crash and bang as my vase of flowers sitting on my bathroom counter tips over. "That's it!" I decide. "I'm going to look for the trap." I search the kitchen and try to remember where we put it, but since it's been over a year since we used it last, I can' t find it. In the kitchen, the clock tells me it's only 3:00 a.m. "It's going to be a long night." I sigh. I go back and check the bathroom again, hoping to a least get a glimpse of the rat or mouse and this time I notice that half my soap bar is missing. "What kind of crazy animal steals soap?" I wonder aloud, and once again not seeing any hide or hair of our thief, I close the door. The rest of the night is filled with crunching, ripping and banging as the rat/beaver/mouse continues to destroy our bathroom door. Several times, I begin to doze off only to be rudely awakened by another bang or rip. By the time the first sun we've seen in days shines through the curtains, I've worked myself in a tizzy. "I am so going to buy a big trap today." I growl.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tears for Haiti

The whir of helicopter rotors overhead draws my attention and for a moment I let go of Denise's wedding dress and look up to locate its source. It doesn't take long for me to spot it and from where I stand on my front balcony I can see its UN logo. "Copter," Jayden shouts and points, and I follow its path with my eyes as it makes its way over Delmas.

The whir of its rotors draws me back in time to post earthquake days and I wonder for a moment how long this will go on. Although the past three days have been relatively quiet, helicopters continue to fly over the city every hour, checking for any signs of protest activity. "Calm, but tense," a news reporter had written in a recent article and I felt it was an accurate description.

After a quiet Saturday and Sunday where everyone had a chance to stock up on food and attend church, protests and riots were expected to resume Monday morning, but so far things had remained relatively calm. Since the political situation is no closer to being resolved however, protests could flare up again at any time, which has left Haiti and her people uneasy and tense.

As the helicopter disappears from view I focus my attention back to the project at hand. Very carefully I drape Denise's wedding dress over a kitchen chair and then pick out a necklace from the pile of jewelry she made.

Rather then focusing on the uncertainty of the political situation here in Haiti, I decide to distract myself by showcasing some of her latest designs. As I arrange and snap pictures I can't help but feel proud of her. With no help from me whatsoever this last month she has done an excellent job making the beads and designing the jewelry all on her own.

As I finish taking the last photo, the somber sky threatens to cry. As quick as I can I pull my chair, Denise's dress and jewelry back inside. Through a window I watch as a few scattered tear drops patter down on the city. Tears for Haiti in the dry season, how fitting.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Just a Trip to the Store

I maneuver the cruiser through the twisted streets, keeping an eye out for Christine, but I don't see her. A minute later I've reached the large orange gate of Eagle Market but it's firmly shut. Maybe the other gate is open on the Delmas side I think to myself and edge my way out onto the main street. This is the first time I've seen the main road in 5 days. The pavement is black with soot, a rogue dumpster sits on an awkward angle, half on the sidewalk, half on the street and I can still see the treads of numerous burnt tires. Expressionless people stand around, but since they haven't formed into a mob, I decide it's safe to proceed. Nervously I drive on, and it doesn't take me long to see that the second gate is closed as well. I wonder where Christine is? I muse. I didn't see her walking along the side of the road and now Eagle is closed. I quickly dial her number but get a busy tone. A few seconds later she calls back to say that the guards, seeing a white girl waiting outside the closed gate quickly let her in. You can come in too," she says. "Just park somewhere alongside the road." I quickly make a U-turn since traffic is light and find a spot to park in front of a closed pharmacy. Before I get out I double check to see if my money is still in my one pocket and my cellphone in the other. I then grab my taser off the seat beside me and hop out of the cruiser. On the edge of the road I look both ways and then make a quick dash to the center divider. My flip flops slap rhythmically against the blackened pavement. One more dash and I've made it to the gate. It's locked so I wait as a Haitian man knocks on the gate. You can't come in, he's told through a slit in the side and the man then walks away. I try to edge closer to the slit so that the guards can see me, but I can't get the right angle. What to do? People stare at me as I wait, making me nervous so I decide to call Christine again. No answer. Just then another Haitian man walks up and opens a slider window in the gate. When the guards catch sight of me through the slider they quickly ease open the gate and pull me in. A second later I'm standing smack dab in front of Christine. We look at each other and grin. Haiti is so weird, sometime you just have to laugh. I look around and notice that instead of the usual two guards there are now 8, and they look serious and heavily armed. The wife of the owner of the store, spotting us, immediately commands us to move away from the gate. She looks very nervous. "As if someone is going to shoot us through the crack." I joke to Christine, and we both laugh again. "You can't go in yet." The owner's wife then tells us. "Just wait there." She points to a spot just in front of the store so we oblige. A few minutes later she tells us we can come in. With our grocery carts ready we split up and start shopping. What to get? I wonder. I didn't make a list and I'm not sure if I'm shopping for a few days or several weeks. There's so much uncertainty. We're on Stage 2 of our evacuation plan meaning we have to have our suitcases ready, but that doesn't mean we're going anywhere. If things escalate we need to be ready to leave quickly, but if not, we need to have enough food to last us for several weeks. There's no saying if grocery stores will stay open and if we have to lay low for awhile we need to stock up. Looking at the rows of grocery I get this weird almost panicky feeling inside me. What if I forget something important? Pushing those thoughts aside, I get to work filling my cart with fruits, vegetables, eggs, spaghetti sauce, noodles, bread, flour, milk, toilet paper, dish washing liquid and laundry soap. When I'm finally ready to pay at the checkout counter I realize I didn't bring enough money so I quickly scan my cart and then put some items aside. The clerk is kind enough to give me a 5% discount so I can almost purchase everything I've picked out. By now, the front gate has been pushed open and the store becomes increasingly busy. Leaving the store, I look curiously at the determined and focused expressions of those coming in to shop. That's probably what I looked like too while I shopped I decide, smiling now. Once the groceries are all loaded I drive Christine the short distance back to her house. A few minutes later I'm home again too and a relieved Anoud quickly pushes the gate open for me. Since Jason is back at work today, Jayden is playing outside with Denise's boys. "Come inside to Mom", I yell to him, before I push open the door and get ready to stow away our supplies.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

House bound

I check the cards in my hand and then what's on the stack on the table. We're playing Phase 10 and this is day two of being house bound. I smile at the thought that we kind of broke the rules, since where I'm sitting is not my house and this is not my game, but we are still in a house and that has to count for something. When Julie called earlier today asking if we wanted to come play games with some other missionary staff in the neighborhood we were all for it. You can only hide inside for so long right? "Don't go far" Anoud and Denise kept warning us worriedly as we pulled out of the driveway, and we couldn't help but tease them a little. "We're just going to drive down all the main roads for a few hours," we joke. Anoud doesn't catch on and shakes his head, but Denise laughs and finally he cracks a smile too. Ever since the election results were announced the streets are "hot," as the Haitian people put it. Protesters burn tires, throw rocks, rip down election posters and kick rubble onto the streets. Because of the unrest, schools and many business are closed and the airport is shut down as well. This means all the MAF pilots are home. Although Jason has kept busy finishing various tasks for me, I can tell he is raring to get out, so this little get together in our neighborhood is perfect. As we drive the short distance to our neighbors home I can't help but notice how serious the people on the back streets look. Normally everyone is friendly and smiling, but today the mood is somber. A helicopter hovers overhead and I wonder what it's pilot and passengers can see. Other then the pictures and video clips that get emailed to us, we haven't actually seen the demonstrations first hand. It feels strange to be right in it, but not actually get to see anything. A few minutes later we arrive at the neighbors house. It's nice having other people to talk too and we spend some time just socializing and snacking before we get the games out.
Once the games are chosen kids and adults break up into various groups to play. It doesn't take long to get into the game. Now staring at the cards in my hands, I focus on calculating my next move. 6,7,8,9, and 3,3,3, wild. I win Phase #2 of 10.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Root Canals and Uncertainty

I squint into the bright light and Dr. Diaz quickly adjusts it. "Sorry about that" she tells me in perfect English and then instructs me to open my mouth. Today she's working on three cavities and a root canal and I brace myself for a long appointment. At the angle I'm sitting I can still look through a top window, so for some distraction I watch the angry swirling clouds. The somber weather matches the mood of the city. Today election results will be announced and the whole city is on edge. On the drive to the office I noticed the roads were unusually empty, the people that were on the streets weren't smiling and a burnt out carcass of a car sat still smoking in front of a school.
"Can you lean slightly towards me?" Dr. Diaz breaks into my reverie and I'm quick to oblige. From this angle I can watch her work and I'm impressed with her skills. With my soft teeth, I've made numerous trips to the dentist office in my life and I'm very thankful I've found a good dentist here in Haiti.
When my teeth started to hurt again several months ago I was really at a loss to what to do. My last dental appointment had been in May in Chilliwack and I was hoping that would be enough to last me till next summer when we hoped to visit Chilliwack again, but when my teeth progressively became more painful, I had to come up with another alternative. With no yellow pages or advertisement, all I could do was ask around. "Dr. Paola Diaz from the Dominican is a great dentist," someone finally told me and wrote down her email address for me. Once I had sent her a message she was quick to reply and when I told her about my "no car" dilemma she even offered to pick me up, which was very nice of her! My first appointment had been two weeks ago and visiting her office had been a pleasant surprise.
The walls looked freshly painted and everything looked clean, neat and tastefully decorated.

Inside the exam room, all her dental equipment looked modern and well taken care of.

The only bad part of the visit was, when after taking X-rays and carefully examining my teeth teeth she gave me the news that I had 5 cavities and a root canal.
Since she had already fixed several of the cavities on the first appointment, she promised to finish all the rest, including the root canal today. As she worked I enjoyed listening to her speak in multiple languages. To her dental assistant Marie, she spoke a mix of French and Creole, English to me, and then later a phone call in Spanish. Two and a half hours later, I was sure thankful when she told me she was done and my teeth were fixed again! Gathering my purse, I couldn't help but overhear one patient after another canceling their appointments. "Everyone is afraid about the people's responses to the election results so they don't dare to go out on the streets," Dr. Diaz tells me. Maybe I shouldn't have come, I think to myself, and am relieved when I'm safely home again. Walking in the house I'm glad to see Jayden nicely eating a snack in his high chair and to hear a good report from Denise. "I even counted in English and played hide and seek with him," Denise tells me proudly and I can't help but smile. Hide and seek is currently Jayden's favorite game and Denise has become quite familiar with me counting in the kitchen and then searching all over the house pretending I can't see or hear where he's hiding. "Mesi anpil Denise!" (Thanks a lot!) I tell her and then seeing it's almost 1:00 I quickly get to work getting ready for our Tuesday afternoon Bible Study. When I take a moment to check my email I find out that since school has been canceled for the kids, the Bible Study is canceled as well. There's also conflicting emails about what time the results will be announced and what to expect regarding demonstrations. Oh Haiti, I sigh, as I stare at the computer screen. What next?