Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Busy Days, Sleepless Nights

The soft pink curtains sway gently as a welcoming breeze makes its way through the flimsy screens. In the darkness I watch their ghostly forms dance this way and that. Turning over, I re-adjust my pillows to find the ever illusive comfortable sleeping position. Insomnia has plagued me these last few months.

Finally, giving up, I sit up and ease ever so quietly out of bed. Walking carefully through the maze of suitcases that plaster our bedroom floor I silently open the door and slip out into the hallway. Closing it softly behind me I flip on the hallway light. Making my way to Jayden’s bedroom I crack open the door and smile at the sight of three small boys sprawled out on beds and air mattresses.

Reaching above the door frame, I feel with my fingers till they touch something metal; the hallway gate key. Closing my fingers around it I insert the key into the iron security gate and it opens with a click.

In the kitchen I fill a glass with water and ice. The kitchen clock reads 3:00 a.m., meaning it’s probably about 3:25. Even with new batteries its accuracy never last long and I’ve learned to slowly add 5 then 10, and now up to 25 minutes to get real time.

Cradling my glass, I head over to the living room and turn on the light. No cockroaches scurry off into darker corners and for this I am thankful. I make myself comfortable on the couch and slowly sip my ice water. Today is a special day. My 26th birthday and the day we travel to Canada. Still unable to fully wrap my mind around the changes that are to come, I decide instead to reminisce about this past week.

With our friends from Canada and their three children visiting us, it’s been a busy and exciting week. As I lay my head back on the armrest a string of memories play in my mind.

Visiting the downtown core.

The heart breaking poverty there.

Parents, so desperate they beg us to take their children.

The filthy streets.

MAF flights.

Landing in Oanaminthe

Feeling like the odd ones out!

Okay, that's better!

A bus ride through the village with adopted Uncle Jason.

Christmas feeding programs.

Make new friends.

Handing out Bible verse coloring books.

Happy kids!

This is for you!

Rice and beans.

Christmas Eve.

And special times with special friends.

Gradually the images fade in my weary brain. Drinking the last sips of water I shuffle back up the stairs, through the hallway and into our bedroom. Crawling under the thin sheet I close my eyes and dream. Winter coats, boots, the flu bug, airports, babies, Jason, Jayden, family, friends.

Slowly I doze off into a restless sleep. Less then 2.5 hours before it's time to get up and get ready to leave Haiti. It seems so unreal.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Outreach Program

The sun steadily sinks lower in the cerulean sky as children push and jostle each other to get through the orphanage gate. Today is the Christmas Outreach Program and anticipation and excitement buzzes through the air.

Finally it's our turn and as we enter the courtyard we can see a crowd has already formed inside.

To get a better view we climb up the side of a crumbled wall and get comfortable on the roof of a neighboring house.

With over 400 people in the community attending, it takes a little for the crowd to settle down, but when they finally do the Christmas program begins.

Strains of 'Gloria in Excelsis Dio' waft upward as the children who regularly attend the feeding program sing their praises to God.

The T-Rex that Jayden had snuck along in his pocket evidently begins to get hungry so the boys collect dinosaur vegetation to calm its grumbling tummy.

The program continues with various songs and skits allowing both those who live in the orphanage and attend the feeding programs to participate.

After a rousing round of applause for all their efforts, the crowd quiets as the Christmas Story is read. As the ancient Biblical words resound around us, I glance up.

The fading sunlight illuminates a cross perched on a neighboring building. Christmas is all about celebrating Christ's birth, but the cross is a reminder of what Jesus came to do. He came to die for sinners.

Darkness falls and the program ends. As we mingle, the kids are quickly surrounded.

Two girls playfully touch Dia's silky locks and she giggles.

Josh soon finds someone his own age and does his best to communicate using sign language.

Other children crowd around us, asking to get their pictures taking.

Slowly the courtyard empties and it's time to return home. In the pale light of the moon we make our through the dusty streets back to the car. The birth of Jesus. What a special occasion to share and celebrate with the community around us.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mosaic of Memories

Sarah's Visit

long flight, crossing time zones, finally here

busy traffic, bright colors, dusty roads
From 2011

colorful art, pushy vendors, bartering time
From 2011

turquoise water, white sand, coconut milk

beautiful sunset, warm temperatures, perfect day

MAF flight, sensational scenery, breathtaking

all on 1 motorbike, village life, step back in time

lazy rivers, crowded markets, friendly children

crumbled palace, broken cathedral, heartbreaking poverty

Haitian rice, feeding programs, brown eyes

beautiful jewelry, talented artists, new hope

dinosaur paint set, dinosaur books, a little boys adoring gaze

long talks, good times, special friends

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You Can Help!

Three and a half years ago we met Anoud, Denise and their two boys for the first time. All four of them were too thin and the youngest of the two boys showed signs of malnutrition.

Anoud had been employed on our property for the past 10 years, but Denise had no income and lived an hour away in a tin shack on the side of a ravine with their two boys. The tin shack didn't keep out the wind, or the rats, or the torrential rain and life was hard.

Not wanting Anoud to lose his job, we agreed to hire him and asked Denise if she would like to live on our property with him as well. At first she was hesitant, saying their two kids were too noisy, but when we convinced her that we had a noisy boy too and that wouldn't be a problem she gratefully accepted.

As we learned the language the friendship grew not only between the adults but also between the three boys.

The following summer their family expanded when Jocemine was born. To honor our friendship Anoud and Denise chose to name her after both Jason and I. It was very special.

A year later we officially became godmother and father of all three of their children in a special dedication service.

Denise who had begun to help me around the house talked often about wanting to learn a new skill. Coming from a large family, she only went to school when her parents could afford it which was not very often, leaving her almost illiterate.

When I heard about the Apparent Project jewelry making program I approached her and asked if she would be interested in learning how to make beads from recycled paper and design necklaces. She was thrilled and several weeks later we went to the Apparent Project to learn together.

It didn't take very long for her to become a talented bead maker and jewelry designer and she soon taught her husband as well.

"With the money I earn I would like to help my elderly parents, pay money to rebuild our church, send my second child to school and save up for a piece of land," Denise told me. Very ambitiously she set to work and did just that. She sent money to her parents, donated to her church, paid for Sabboule's schooling and saved whatever was left to purchase a piece of property.

"This piece of property can change the life of my family," she said. It means that we will always have a place to rent out or live on. It can be a legacy for our children.

Several days ago Denise approached me to say she found a piece of land to purchase. With the legal fees she only needs $1200 more.

She has over $1200 worth of jewelry waiting to be sold so this is where you can help. A friend of mine hopes to return to Chilliwack with Denise's jewelry on December 14. If we can sell $1200 worth before the end of the year Denise can buy the land. If you live in or around the Chilliwack area and would like to purchase some of her amazing jewelry please email us.

Her jewelry is beautiful and unique and makes great Christmas gifts!

If you have family, friends or coworkers that would be interested and would like to sell some of the jewelry to them before Christmas we can work that out as well.

Will you help Denise realize her dream and leave a legacy for her children?