Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Travel Day in Haiti- An Original

Travel Day

If we plan to leave at five

For this departure we will strive

But don’t freak out if we are late

‘Cause we’ll probably leave at eight

You can stand or you can sit

Either way it’s a bumpy trip

Expect trauma to your calves

And for the bench to break in half

The bumps will turn to craters

And the pain will become greater

Your stride will turn to limping

And you’ll need ice for your bruised kidneys

But fear not for tomorrow

For the fun surpasses sorrow

When we reach our destination

You’ll have an angelic sensation

You will sing and you will dance

And laugh so you’ll wet your pants

But the happiness won’t last

Because that truck will take us back

So through the bumps we’ll ride again

As if the pain will never end

But at last we’ll reach the beach

Where there are cushions for our cheeks

So sleep tight and like a baby

For tomorrow will be waiting

And the bumps haven’t gone away

So our calluses will stay


Sunday, March 7, 2010

My new title: Windshield Wiper

I had to make a trip to the bank the other day to take out some money. It was one of those rare days that I got to drive the truck rather than being driven by my chauffer. Yes, I have one of those.

My record continues in the context of my very presence destroying every working part of the vehicles I drive. Although it is NOT yet rainy season, it poured cats and dogs that day and alas, my wipers would not turn on. I had to take off the shorts I had on under my skirt and stop every 50 yards to wipe the windshield. Then I tried to have one of my Haitian workers lean over the cab and wipe it while I drove......with my shorts. That didn't make things any easier because he could only reach the top four inches.

So I stopped in the middle of who-knows-where with Haitians in a dirt-and-stick hut all yelling "Give me one dolla! Give me one dolla!" at me. They laughed as I ripped a bush from the ground, stripped it bare and tied my detached wiper blade to it with my key lanyard.

I drove for an hour wiping the rain from my own windshield with my left arm out the window, shifting up and down over the "roads", steering and honking as I passed the other trucks, which is a must here in Haitiland.

I was just waiting til we hit the paved road and I could stop shifting so often, but as soon as we hit the paved road, and I mean the VERY SECOND we hit it, God had a good laugh and stopped the rain.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

What would you do?

What would YOU do for a plate of rice and beans (rather than a klondike bar)?

I would…

Upon landing in Haiti, spend four consecutive days at the airport and UN compound looking for someone who had an extra few plates of food for my friends.

After not receiving anything, I would get on the phone and computer every day for hours on end trying to find anyone who had a few extra plates of food for my friends.

After two weeks of that, I would say yes to an offer to go the north coast of the island in the Dominican to pick up enough food for my friends.

A couple of days later I would drive (peppered with sitting and waiting every now and then) for two whole days to get to the food.

Then I would spend four hours waiting at the border to get to the food.

Then I would reach the food, load it up and try to cross the border to go home, but then I would be told that it was too late to cross back over, so then I would sleep at a friend’s house (source of food) with my travelling companions for the night to cross in the morning.

Then I would wake up before dawn to get in line at the border to cross as early as possible, but then I would wait four more hours for a fax that would eventually never come.

Then I would cross the border to get the food to its sorting location by way of another two-day road trip which may or may not include the truck(s) breaking down for the fourth and fifth times in the last three days.

That’s what I would do for some rice and beans.

Plus, I would get lost in Gonaive.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

You know you're in Haiti when...

I feel the need to mix in a little humor with this next post. I’m not trying to rescue any delicate feelings or anything. Nor do I want to take any gravity away from our situation. But every once in a while, like now, the stress needs to be dulled a bit with a healthy dose of laughter.

For this purpose I have put together a list of sorts to give you a better idea of the funny and the real things that go on in a situation like ours. Haiti is in a bad way- a very bad way. But the people here still appreciate life for what it is. Haitians know more than most that life needs to be lived even in the midst all of its rubble. At this time and in this condition, Haiti is like this:

You know you’re in Haiti when the way to get the kids to take a bath is to say, “Come take a bath before the next earthquake!” It works.

You know you’re in Haiti when the first thing you see when you wake up is a blue tarp hanging 2 inches from your face.

You know you’re in Haiti when to earn a few bucks a teenage boy runs to you with an oily rag and starts to wipe the dirt from your sandals. Happened to me on Saturday.

You know you’re in Haiti when the answer to “Where’s the toilet paper?” is “In the freezer.”

You know you’re in Haiti when the solution to several of your problems is diapers and/or duct tape.

You know you’re in Haiti when the theme song for the morning church service is “You don’t have time- you’re already dead.”

You know you’re in Haiti when your new office is located directly below the tree that sheds the most leaves and happens to also contain the most ants which constantly fall on you like rain.

You know you’re in Haiti when your indoor office gets fleas, your outdoor office gets wasps and
your bedroom is outdoors with every dog and baby in the neighborhood NOT sleeping right next to you.

You know you’re in Haiti when you get yelled at for staying inside the building for more than 7.5 minutes.

You know you’re in Haiti when the only qualification for a pleasant conversation is that the other person doesn’t beg you for something.

You know you’re in Haiti when your satellite phone’s guarantee of 98% no-drop calls turns into 98% of calls are dropped.

You know you’re in Haiti when you are more likely to have a helicopter drop supplies onto your property than to eat a pizza.

You know you’re in Haiti when climbing on and off of 20 ft containers for miscellaneous reasons is one of your daily chores.

You know you’re in Haiti when you have to put “Take a bath” on your to-do list.

You know you’re in Haiti when “Count dogs” and “Count goats” are also on your to-do list.

You know you’re in Haiti when you’re throwing rocks at your own dogs.

You know you’re in Haiti when the locals respect you more now because “You die the same that we die.” One of my workers told me that the day after I got here.

You know you’re in Haiti when everything is tentative, everyone is afraid, every place is desolate except the airport and everything takes longer than it takes.

Love you all. More soon.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The New Haiti

It’s quite odd to drive down the same roads and see a totally different place than before. This is what the people of New York felt like on 9/11 for sure- total disaster that changes the course of a country and a people, and even their landscape.

Poverty set upon poverty. That is the only way I can think to describe it.

Driving through the city for the first time the other day showed me things that I never thought I’d see. Mass graves were one of them. Coffins are being made everywhere that the tools to do so are available. Buildings are damaged or fallen all over the place. We drove by tent cities that had signs outside of them on the road that read “NEED FOOD AND WATER” in French, Creole and English and others that said simply, “NEED HELP”.

We stopped at one tent city to take pictures and found out that no help had come to them yet. None whatsoever. The camp was empty save a few markers where families had marked where they would put their sheets that night to sleep. Everyone had gone to find work or food or water or something. A group gathered around us nonetheless. One always does.

In that specific camp we found that not one single family had been spared the grief of losing at least one of its members. Most of them had lost many more than one and all of their few possessions on top of that.

It is easy to be intimidated by the task ahead. We are trying to start the best way we can to prepare for long-term aid for those we can help. It is overwhelming. We (the mission’s leadership) haven’t even had the chance to mention the damage to our buildings yet. Though the damage is not immense, it is significant to say the least. But there are PEOPLE with bigger issues and emergencies at hand.

Their emergencies are our emergencies and so first things come first. We are here for them. But we need help. We don’t have nearly enough to provide for all of them. I am running around like crazy walking miles and miles around these UN and airport compounds trying to find some food to distribute. But everyone else is doing the same. Every missionary in this country has an emergency that needs to be tended to and the organizations in charge are overwhelmed.

Everything that was difficult in Haiti just became much more so. For everyone. Around everyone. To everyone’s dismay.

But we continue. And we will continue to continue. Don’t ask me what I get done every day. I don’t have time to remember. Shaina and Dee and Wilckly are working equally hard and more so.

Progress will be made. It must be.

Work with me. This is not something that is done by anyone alone. We appreciate and depend on your help.

In it to win it,

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Reaction to Disaster

I'm sorry I've not been on here. I've been overrun with e-mails and phone calls.

We've received word from Dee in Haiti and Carries is still standing with no significant damage. We are sending people to Port au Prince to try to track down our people. We have one school and at least 3 and up to 5 churches in or near the epicenter. Waiting to find out what their status is. Wilckly's family is slowly being accounted for. But still looking for several members.

We're getting supplies and funds gathered to take with us next thrusday and send next week in the container. Contact me for more details. 573 822 8018.

Crying out,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Almost There

Last week I told you about all the exams we were dealing with. Well, we're still in that stage. And now I have to edit, print, stamp and copy three more tests with one broken printer and no paper by tomorrow!

No worries, though. We have a back-up printer and we're making a trip to town tomorrow to get the paper. Very solvable problems. We deal with lots of these kinds of things in Haiti. So goes life.

Tomorrow is also my last day here before my Stateside visit. I have nearly finished all of my goal projects. I spent most of my day today making admission badges for our women's conference in January. It's great to get those things done ahead of time and they look really great. Everything I have left to do is quite minor, Thank God.

I hope I'll get to see most of you while I'm around. It really is a privilege to have you on my team.

Much love. See you in America.