Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Border Apart - A World Away

We finally did it.
Crossed the border into another world!
Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
One island, two worlds.

Same palm trees, same amazing sunsets.

But check out these roads, bridges, high rises, bus systems, small cars,

underground metro stations,

and multi-layer shopping malls!

It still had poor areas.
But they were just that, areas, not an entire country.

It suffered from corruption.

In fact, I've never been pulled over in Haiti and been told to pay a bribe, but the few days we were in the Dominican it happened.

We had made what must have been an illegal U-turn and a traffic agent signaled for us to pull over. Although neither of us spoke Spanish it was soon obvious he wanted us to pay a bribe for our misdemeanor. When he noticed that Jason had a Haitian license he began to speak Creole to us, since he was in fact a Haitian himself. After haggling for awhile, with his price slowly dropping from 2000 pesos (about $60 USD) to a 1000 pesos ($30 USD), I started to get annoyed.

"My baby is tired," I complained in Creole. "And he needs his sleep. Give me that license back." I reached out the window and began to pull Jason's license out of the agents hand. He held on tight, but I was determined. When I had finally wrestled it out of his grip, I pushed the automatic window button on our rental car and closed it tight. "Go Jason." I yelled. He stepped on the gas and we were gone.

All we could see in the review mirror was that man's bewildered look. Since he wasn't an actual police officer and carried neither gun or badge, I didn't care.

Note to readers: Don't try this yourself. It may not work out as well for you :)

While in Santo Domingo I got my promised trip the zoo.

Jayden was very excited because he got to see a dragon.
I didn't have the heart to tell him it was just an iguana!

We shopped, and ate at McDonalds of course.

And then it was time to go home again.
On the seven hour bus ride (which included a several hour wait at the border), I took pictures of my two favorite boys!

I guess all the excitement must have worn this one out!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I pull up the hood of my sweater and snuggle inside it a little deeper. It's early morning and still cool. Cool and peaceful. My eyes soak in the brilliant blue sky and waving palm trees. The view from my front porch is beautiful. Other then the occasional bird chirping, all is quiet. I love early mornings.

I open my daily Bible study book and find the page where I left off. The text for today is found in Isaiah 26:3;
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

I soak it in. Peace. Perfect peace.

With all the turmoil happening in Haiti, I've struggled with worry. What's going to happen with the elections? Are there going to be more violent protests? Will we have to evacuate? What about the return of the exiled Dictator Duvalier? What does his presence here mean?

I look back down at my book and read the text again.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

I memorize the words. Slowly the worries and concerns fade away. I look back up at the brilliant blue sky, the intricate trees, the delicate flowers, the singing birds. God made it all. He knows our futures. He knows our past. He promises us peace regardless of our situation when our minds are stayed on Him.

Perfect peace.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

He is coming again

There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. Luke 21:11

In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16-17

And call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. Psalm 50:15

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.1 Corinthians 13:12

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. Matthew 24:35

and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Matthew 28:20

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Revelations 22:20

Friday, January 7, 2011

It's Finally Here!

"Madam Jason, Madam Jason!" I turn from my spot by the window where I'm watching the ever darkening sky and make my way to the door. "Lapli, lapli!" (Rain, rain) Hearing the urgency in Anoud voice, I slip on my crocks and head out the door. Jayden, my ever present shadow, follows close behind.

Sure enough it's raining. The splattering drops get steadily bigger until the sky opens and torrential rains pour down. As quick as we can we pull down all the laundry. "Get under the overhang!" I tell a whimpering Jayden, as he begins to cry. "Water falling on my head! Waaaaa!!" I can feel the rain penetrating my T-shirt as it pours down my face.

A few minutes later we have the laundry piled up in a basket and Anoud and I run for cover. "Come on Jayden!" I yell through the noise as millions of rain drops dance on tin. I run to the overhang where he's hiding, grab his hand and then together we make a dash for the door. It's hard to believe that 20 minutes ago the sun was shining brightly. What's also strange is that it's only 10:00 a.m. It hardly ever rains in the morning and we haven't had rain for awhile now. Strange.

I take Jayden to the the bathroom where we quickly towel off. Once we're relatively dry I head back to the kitchen to examine the laundry. Fairly damp, but not too bad. Thanks to Anoud we got it down just in time.

Denise had left for the market an hour earlier and I hope that she's found somewhere undercover to hide.

Inside the bouncing rain on our tin roof is almost deafening. Rain has a whole new definition here in the Caribbean. When it rains like this you run and hide. I focus my attention back to the laundry and wonder for a moment if I should try to hang it up inside or just wait till it stops raining. Looking at the fresh, clean clothes my thoughts drift back to the previous afternoon.

I'm just skyping with Sherilyn, when my cellphone rings. It's Jason asking if there's any groceries I need from Eagle Market. "I'm waiting in the parking lot here to meet up with the truck that's bringing your new wash machine, so if there's anything you need I can run in and buy it quickly!" A tiny thrill of expectation rushes through me. Really? Could it be?

"Don't get too excited," I tell myself. They were supposed to deliver it yesterday too, and the week before and that didn't happen either. Still, I can't help but get a little excited! It's been three months now that I've done laundry by hand and a wash machine sounds like a dream come true!

I give Jason instructions to buy bread and a phone card, and then resume my conversation with Sherilyn. Once we hang up, I help Jayden clean up some of his toys and then we wait.

10 minutes later my cellphone rings again and this time Jason asks if I can let Anoud know that they are coming with the truck! Yes, now I can really get excited! I rush outside to tell Anoud the news and he gets to work pushing open the gate. Jayden and I meanwhile stand on the front balcony to get a look at the truck.

Once we see the truck we head down the steps and out the gate.

And there it is! It kind of feels like my birthday all over again!

At least the "Trans Haiti Experience" truck comes with more then enough workers to carry the machine and it doesn't take long before it's parked in front of my laundry room.

Unlike Canadian or American laundry rooms, my laundry room is separate from our house and can only be accessed from the outside.

Since I have to make a run to the Apparent Project to pick up jewelry and I want to be home before dark, I leave as soon as the truck leaves. Jason promises to move the old wash machine out and install the new one while I'm away.

It's after 4:00 p.m. now and Delmas is experiencing rush hour traffic or in Creole "blokies," which I interpret as being blocked or stuck in traffic, a very accurate description. Knowing this, I decide to take the back roads, which are very rugged but at least have a lot less traffic. With only one wrong turn, since I don't normally take the back roads, I arrive at the Apparent Project 20 minutes later.

Shelley is working hard getting my order together and while she works I tell her about the contact I made in Fond des Blancs. "When Joy Thomas heard about the Apparent Project jewelry, she thought it would be great to sell to all the teams they have coming in. She emailed me today saying that MAF hopes to fly in tomorrow and asked if I can send the jewelry along. It's so exciting how everyone can help each other!" Shelley agrees.

Once the order is ready, I tell Shelley goodbye and head back home. Thinking traffic should be better on Delmas now I take my normal route home. It's still slow moving though, and I sigh as I breath in the polluted air. While I'm waiting, my cellphone rings again. When I answer it I hear Jayden's tiny voice. "Hi Mommy, where are you? You coming home now? I miss you!" He's such a mommy's boy! I rarely go anywhere without him.

"I'm almost home Jayden!" I tell him. "Can I talk to Dad?" He hands the phone to Jason and I quickly explain where I am. "I should be home soon." I tell him. "Okay." He replies. "And oh, by the way, there was a little surprise in your wash machine." "What was it?" I ask curiously. "A dead rat!" "No way!" "Yes, and it stinks!" "Nasty!" I laugh. "Seems like we just can't get away from them!"

By the time I get home, the rat's been removed, and all that is left is a shredded manual and a horrible dead rat smell.

I guess I'd better run my first load with just water, soap and bleach I decide.

How did it get in there anyway?

Once the machine has been purified, I put in my first load of clothes. I turn the knobs to the right temperature and cycle and then turn the machine on. 45 seconds is all it takes. Wow!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

News Release from MAF

Clinton commends MAF’s work in Haiti

MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) makes work of 60 relief agencies in Haiti possible

GUELPH, Ontario, January 6, 2011 – Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has commended Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) for its critical role in relief and rebuilding efforts in Haiti since the devastating earthquake of January, 2010. MAF operations in Haiti have been pushed to full capacity as a result of the earthquake and the many difficulties Haitians have faced in the past 12 months.

“By organizing hundreds of relief flights and delivering thousands of pounds of supplies, you’ve had a critical impact on Haiti’s recovery,” Clinton wrote to MAF in an unsolicited letter. Clinton serves as a United Nations special envoy to Haiti.

MAF has worked in Haiti since 1986 and currently operates four aircraft providing a busy schedule of flights from the capital Port-au-Prince to 16 interior airstrips. These flights enable the work of more than 60 relief and development agencies in Haiti.

Since last fall, MAF pilots have been busy flying IV solution to areas affected by the cholera epidemic, which to date has killed an estimated 3,300 people and hospitalized more than 100,000.

Canadian MAF pilot Jason Krul, 25, recently flew a medical team and 900 pounds of IV solution to Port-de-Paix on the northern coast for a hospital running short of supplies. Upon landing, he then drove the medical team and the supplies from the airstrip to the hospital, where more than 100 cholera patients were being treated, most of them children under age 12.

Because their veins had collapsed due to severe dehydration, these patients could not receive traditional IVs. The doctors taught hospital staff how to administer IVs through the bone marrow, a painful but life-saving treatment. With this procedure, the hospital has been able to significantly reduce the local death rate from cholera.

Jason, his wife Wilhelmina and their son Jayden have lived in Haiti since 2008. They were in their home in Port-au-Prince but were not injured when the 7.0 magnitude earthquake and its aftershocks destroyed much of the capital city on January 12, 2010. As he left his home to see how he could help others, Jason saw many injured people who had no doctors or nurses to help them. In response, he used the paramedic training he’d received as a volunteer firefighter in Canada and proceeded to stitch up peoples’ gaping wounds and to set their broken bones.

The Kruls’ home church in Chilliwack, British Columbia, later sent teams of Canadian volunteers to Haiti to feed and clothe hundreds of children. They also constructed 26 homes and provided Haitians with the skills to keep building more homes.

Founded in 1945, MAF (www.mafc.org) is a Christian ministry organization that transports missionaries, medical personnel and supplies in 35 countries for more than 1,000 mission and relief agencies. About 50 Canadian pilots, aircraft mechanics and school teachers, with their families, serve through MAF in many of these countries. MAF also provides distance learning services and telecommunication services such as satellite internet access, high-frequency radio, electronic mail and other wireless systems.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Busy and Eventful Day!

I check my instruments and notice I'm climbing slightly so I push the yoke forward until I level off at 4500 feet. I scan the sky for any other aircraft and then glance back at my GPS screen to make sure I'm on course. Jason, still pilot in command, gives me instructions through my headset and I carefully follow his commands.

There's really nothing like flying and I love it! Long before Jason was even interested in becoming a pilot I always had the dream to fly small airplanes and although I may have taken a roundabout route of realizing my dream, I love the fact that I can fly.

This morning we had left the house early and after an uneventful drive through quiet streets we arrived at the Port au Prince domestic terminal. At the MAF hangar Jason got to work completing his checklists, and then Mom, Dad and I helped push the plane onto the tarmac.

After the suitcases of donated items had been loaded, I got to work strapping Jayden in and getting his headset working. He felt quite important wearing his own headset.

Haiti from above is beautiful and I enjoyed the breath taking scenery until the Island of La Gonave came into sight.

Once we had landed, we were met by Jonas, the caretaker of the airstrip. Jason gave him a Creole Bible, something he didn't have and something for which he was very thankful.

It didn't take long for the suitcases to be unloaded and Mom, Dad, Jason and I were soon working on organizing the clothing for the distribution.

Lefils, our airstrip agent had planned in advance for 40 children to come and receive clothing, coloring books and snacks. It didn't take long for the group of 40 children to grow into a crowd of one hundred but we thankfully had something for everyone.

Two hours later, we were finished and we flew to our next destination, Fond des blancs. On the way we flew over this remarkable Island.

Only open since just after the earthquake, Fond des Blancs, is one of MAF Haiti's most difficult strips.

I was glad when my two feet were on the ground there!

In Fond Des Blancs, Jean Thomas and his wife Joy had organized a food for work for program, and donors back in Canada had donated money for the food. Our job now was to deliver the money and help distribute the rice, beans and oil.
After a delicious lunch prepared by Joy Thomas, and a little soccer that Jayden really enjoyed,

we drove to the church where the distribution was held.
Sacks of rice and beans had been poured onto tarps and it was our job now to divide them up into individual portions. It was special to see 3 generations of Kruls hard at work, bagging rice.

Once we had a considerable amount bagged. All 100 people who had participated in the food for work program came with empty rice sacks, black bags or pillow cases to collect their food.

Thank you to all those who donated money to pay for the food. I saw for myself how much they appreciated it!
Once the food distribution was completed we drove back to the Thomas' home, and from there to the airport.
The landing strip still looked just as intimidating the second time around,

but I soon learned, watching Jason,

that it's easier to take off from there then land.
Now still level at 4500 feet, I continue to check my instruments to make sure everything is okay. When I take a break and peak over my shoulder, I notice my boy is sound asleep.

It's been a busy and eventful day!