Tuesday, April 29, 2014

God Never Changes

It's 10:05 a.m. on Thursday, April 17 and we are on route from Port au Prince, Haiti, to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. With a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, all I see when I look out the window is blue skies above, and white, fluffy clouds beneath. Justin sits contentedly beside me hugging his favourite blanket and staring off into space while Jason and Jayden check out games on the ipad in the row of seats across from us.

As I absorb the beauty of the scene outside the airplane window, my mind mulls over the changes we are about to experience.  Reverse culture shock symptoms, the feelings we experience going back to our own culture, have always been much stronger than the culture shock we experience going to Haiti. One of the reasons for this, I believe, is that life in Haiti is much slower and simpler in many ways. Sure the roads in Haiti are rough and challenging to drive on, however, signs and rules are limited and speeds are slow and most of the driving I do is within a 5 km radius of our home. When I need gas I never pump it myself and in fact don't even get out of my vehicle!  I basically shop only for food and there's only one or two stores where we buy groceries. It doesn't take long to shop as there is only a limited selection of food items to chose from.  I buy everything in cash and never use a credit card, pin numbers, pay pass, etc. 

In the time we've been away, North America has continued to advance; there are high speed, multiple lane freeways, overpasses and bridges crisscross each other, airport check ins are done at fancy kiosks, credit cards are swiped or inserted and have pin numbers or options to sign electronically, the stores have numerous, overwhelming amounts of choices for each item on your list and gas stations are self serve, electronic and frankly confusing. As I drive, purchase fuel, buy groceries etc., feelings of insecurity that I'm not going to know where to go, what to do, or how to figure things out bubble up inside me.

Thankful that I have Jason with me, who is a quick learner and not technologically challenged like I am, I decide to simply enjoy our flight. If there is something you can't figure out all you have to do is swallow your pride and ask, I chide myself, just enjoy your transition time in Florida.
One hour and 55 minutes later, Ft. Lauderdale is in  sight.

After landing and picking up our rental car we quickly find ourselves on a maze of intersecting freeways. After a few wrong turns we're finally heading in the right direction. I for one am thankful I am not driving! 

Clouds roll in and before long the skies open and torrential rains pour down. 

Traffic slows considerably and even at a reduced speed we feel our vehicle begin to hydroplane over the puddles. It takes much longer to reach our little rental unit on Anne Marie Island and it's dark by the time we get there. Giving the kids a quick bath, they both soon fall asleep and we follow suite.

The next morning we awake to partly cloudy skies. After breakfast we head out to explore the island. Stopping to purchase a few snacks and a kite for the boys we make our way to the beach.

The boys run and shout for joy at the sight of the deserted, wide open space.

The $1.00 kite provides hours of entertainment. 

I relax on a beach blanket while the boys run wild. 

After years of living in closed in spaces behind high walls and razor wire, the freedom of the endless beach is exhilarating.  

Walking along the shoreline, I enjoy the sound of the waves, the call of the gulls and the feel of the ocean breeze on my skin.

Noticing the large variety of shells washed up, I soon rope the boys into helping me collect them. 

Birds that resemble puffins, follow us around, waiting for a treat. 

Pelicans fraternize on the dock occasionally nose diving into the water to fill their hungry bellies with fish. 

That afternoon the boys want to fish, so Jason goes out to buy some bait and tackle. Asking for worms he gets laughed at and handed a bucket of live shrimp instead! Baiting the squirmy shrimp proves to be a hilarious ordeal, but between Jason, Jayden and I we finally have a system in place. 

Then off they go, to a perfect little fishing spot right in front of our unit. 

The fish go wild over the bait and keep ripping it off the hook before Jason has a chance to reel them in. After several unsucessful atempts we finally do catch a good size fish. 

The blue heron, who has been watching our every move soon snaps up the fish with one giant swallow. We can hardly believe our eyes! 

We spend the next few days visiting an aquarium. 

Spending time at the beach. 


Chasing birds. 

And simply enjoying our time together. 

We watch beautiful sunrises. 

And sunsets. 

During the days we explore, visit a museam and watch fishermen catch fish on the pier. 

In the clear water we see the fish bite the bait right off the hook. 

A pelican also swimming nearby, waits to snatch any fish that gets to close. 

In the afternoons we take nature walks and study plants, birds and animals; the ones the two rambunctious brothers don't chase away, that is!

One night Dad took the boys out to a little mini golf place. 

They loved it and felt very important, of course! 

On the day we traveled back to Canada we stopped in the everglades for a fan boat tour so we could see some alligators. 

It was a really neat way to get around the marshy swamp land and see all kinds of wildlife. 

The boys thought the creepy alligators were very cool!

Then it was back on the airplane again to Canada, with more changes ahead.

Colder climate, different place to live, a month without Jason, and God willing, a new baby. 

I don't know if it's just my pregnancy that has made me more sensitive to the changes this time around or if it's something that's progressing with age, but God has been faithful and kind, and comforted me with the words of Malachi 3:6a For I am the Lord, I change not; and Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. 

No matter where we go or where we live or what we do; no matter how many changes we go through, God stays the same, He never changes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Our Final Day in Haiti

February 24, 2014 (7 weeks ago)
Guest Post by Daniella M.

Our last day in Haiti.

Experiencing the outdoor market, visiting the Apparent Project, and giving out about 100 plates of fruit and many balloons at an orphanage was a perfect way to end our trip!

In the morning Will and I went to the market together and had fun trying on some clothes and bartering to get the 'Haitian price' instead of the 'blan' price.

It was a very interesting place; each 'booth' consisted of a bunch of nailed together boards with tarps overtop, all connected but on different levels with concrete steps everywhere.
The vendors sold everything from fruits and vegetables to household items, pharmaceuticals, clothes and  meat! The latter could be found on the ground in large baskets basking in the sun and covered with flies! I even saw a basket with skinned baby goats, feet and fuzzy tails still attached! (No, we did NOT buy one for supper!) 
As we walked Will had some guys asking her if they could be the father of her child. Then, when we were leaving, as we side stepped piles of garbage and dodged motorcycles and tap taps, some guys asked why she hadn't found a husband in the market! She just laughed and told them she was married. Never a dull moment in Haiti!

Our next destination was the fruit market, where we bought watermelon, mangoes and bananas for all the kids at an orphanage we planned to visit that afternoon.

When we finished loading all the fruit there was a police truck with 3 large policemen, guns hanging out of the window, blocking our way because we were on the wrong side of the road. After some motioning and shouting on their part, and Will pointing out that she was now unable to move the Toyota because they were blocking her, we were able to go on our way.

After a quick lunch at the Krul's house and some time spent cutting up all the fruit, we stopped in at the Apparent Project, had a tour and made a few purchases.
Then, at the Rainbow of Love Orphanage, we handed out the fruit and balloons. The kids loved it! They also loved looking at the pictures of Canada we brought along.

And so our final day in Haiti ended.

Our whole trip really was an awesome, life-changing experience for us, full of adventures and amazing memories!

Thanks Krul family for letting us be part of your lives for a couple of weeks and for your care and support for the duration of our stay!

Our goofy parting shot!