Sunday, June 29, 2014

So What Exactly is Normal

 So, what exactly is normal

Today, Saturday, was our first day without a team here so we will start to discover our ‘normal’ day to day life.  Still lots to figure out.  We will be officially starting our language training Monday morning.  We are excited for this because there are SO many people we want to share more than casual greetings with…Bonjour, Bonswa, Koman ou ye? (how are you?) Mwen kontan we ou (I am happy to see you) Bondye beni ou (God bless you) Bon whit (good night) We tell the cooks, “Mesi, bon manje” (Thank you, good food).

We made our first trip to Market in Pignon as shoppers rather than sight see-ers.  We found one gorgeous pineapple, some cute little potatoes, a jumbo bag of macaroni, a can of SPAM (eeeewww), some perfect sized cans of tomato paste for the macaroni, a jar of RAGU brand spaghetti sauce!! A bottle of some kind of saucy seasoning, we needed 2 marmits of sugar for juice, and we got a big can of powdered milk (a request from the cook) AND fresh bread in a SLAB from the bread baker.  There is Haitian peanut butter available but that is one thing we did bring along to eat…some crunchy Jif!

It has been HOT of course.  There have been some amazing down pours of rain as it is rainy season now.  The road we travel from Savanette to Pignon (about 4 miles) is THE WORST!  We are navigating the motorcycle around, and over and through mud and rocks and huge puddles (more like ponds) of murky, muddy water.  Craig is getting more comfortable each day with the motorcycle…as long as we aren’t out just after one of the amazing down pours!  We were in the taptap (truck) coming home from Pignon the other day and it was pouring.  The road was just like a river flowing.  Our friend Zeke was driving, weaving about, spraying the cactus with the muddy water on either side of the road as we sailed through the flowing road-river. 

The next day we were headed into Pignon on the motorcycle and came to a spot that was slippery, slimy mud across the entire width of the road.  I got off to make it easier for Craig to navigate but then a friendly Haitian had sympathy for us and drove the motorcycle through the mud for Craig.  We tiptoed across and got back on and away we went.  Coming back home it had dried up enough and there had been many motorcycles passing though so we could find a dry path and made it on our own. 

Earlier this week there were 2 moms with babies at the MH4H compound that needed medical attention for the babies.  Craig and I took them to the hospital in Pignon, Clifford was our driver that day.   Both babies had tests done and then were given prescriptions to be filled.  It took a good part of 2 days to get that all done….and then there are 4 different meds that were prescribed that are not even available in Pignon.  SO…there is a health agent that works with MH4H that is trying to get these medications from one of the larger cities.  WOW!  Nothing is easy here.  We got lots of practice with the money system those 2 days…..paying for the tests that were done, paying for some prescriptions, buying some food/drink for both of the moms as they are nursing the babies, and extra water in a bag to mix with one of the prescriptions. 

The main program, Thrive for 5, that has been going since September is on a break now.  This past week we organized a food distribution for the families enrolled in the program.  Each family received 25 # of rice, 11 # of beans, 50 bouillon cubes, and a gallon of oil.  This is to help supplement their food supply during the break.  Part of the program is to provide a meal for the kids, and pregnant moms and nursing moms enrolled so now they will have food during the break as well.  The program requires a parent to come each day with their child. The break was requested by the parents because they said they need to stay home a take care of their gardens.  I have a couple of pictures showing the moms as they head for home on foot carrying ALL the food plus their babies! There are some grandmas that bring the grandchild…they also would carry the food the whole way home.  (some walk for 1 ½ hours to come to the program.) One younger sibling was carrying the rice, beans, bouillon and it could have weighed as much as she did.  Unbelievable!  AND it was NOON and HOT!

We are doing well.  Love, C&C 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rediscovering Rich Mullins

We have completed a little over a week of our time in Haiti.  A short memorable week packed with new friends, new experiences and new insights into the Haitian culture.  Even though we have been here before on several mission trips, there is so much we need to learn and experience.  There was a team here with us this first week from Des Moines and Pella.  It was a great time for us to just be a part of their experience as we start to get settled in.  We are getting to know the staff better each day and they are getting to know us better as well. 

We have been involved with pouring a cement floor in the home for a local family.  So many have dirt floors to live and sleep on.  The cement floors are a huge benefit for health and sanitary reasons.  The process in Haiti is quite labor intensive.  The home was on a small hill.  The cement is all mixed by hand.  A pile of sand, some rocks thrown in and a few bags of cement.  All mixed on the ground, adding water that was brought in by oxen and cart in 5 gallon jugs.  The cement is prepared then shoveled into buckets and carried to the home bucket-brigade style.  Cement floors is an ongoing project as most homes are just dirt floors.

We also were able to help a family by getting their soil ready to have a personal garden.  Many Hands for Haiti has a Haitian agronomist on staff that is training the local residents on proper techniques and how to maintain a garden.  This too is an ongoing project.

Church on Sunday was amazing!  It always is in Haiti.  So much singing, praising, worshiping.  We understand very little of what is said, but it is easy to feel a part of what is going on as the Holy Spirit moves.

We have been to the market a few times, exchanged some dollars for Haitian goudes, and got a few supplies.  

Our second day here, Zeke, the Haitian staff leader, drove in on a shiny red motorcycle and said, "This is for you Craig".  So, I have been getting lots of practice in and am quite comfortable getting into town by myself or with Christi on the back.  This is the rainy season in Haiti.  So most afternoons it rains for awhile.  This makes the roads quite muddy.  A trip to Pignon (4 miles) takes about 25 minutes.  There is a truck stuck in the mud most every trip.  On the motorcycle it is a lot easier to maneuver around the road hazards.  Still its an interesting ride that most motocross riders would really enjoy.

When preparing for this trip, I was going through some of my old cd's to decided which ones I wanted to make sure were on my ipad to have along.  I listened to Rich Mullins song "Sometimes by Step".  This is a revamp of the popular praise chorus "Step by Step" where Mr. Mullins added a few verses.  Check the song out if you can.  If not, I will close this post with the lyrics to the verses.  This really hit me as its how I feel about our experience here in Haiti.

verse 1
Sometimes the night is beautiful,
Sometimes the sky looks so far away,
Sometimes it seems to stoop so close,
You could touch it but your heart would break.

Sometimes the morning comes too soon,
Sometimes the day can be so hot,
There was so much work left to do,
But so much You've already done

Chorus... Oh God you are my God....

Verse 2
Sometimes I think of Abraham,
how one star he saw had been lit for me.
He was a stranger in this land,
and I am that, no less than he.

And on this road to righteousness,
Sometimes the climb can be so steep,
I may falter in my steps,
but never beyond Your reach.

Chorus... Oh God you are my God...

Till next time!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Come as We Are

Now it is really time to start...the weeks of preparation (physical, mental, emotional) have led to today...household items organized as much as time allowed, various personal business items in place, many farewells spoken and meaningful embraces given and received.  All this has been uncharted ground for Craig and I.  The part we are familiar with is a travel day beginning in northwest Iowa...the potential for delays is endless.  With a 4 hour drive to Des Moines, a one hour delay for our first flight which resulted in a missed flight in Chicago so a new itinerary for the remaining parts of the journey, we are properly positioned to be able to actually ponder the life we are about to embrace.

Our thoughts go to the anticipation of greeting friends in Haiti, the anticipation of seeing and feeling the reality of abject poverty all around, the anticipation of finding out just exactly what it is that God has planned and how we fit in.  Oh, and Craig says the anticipation of beginning a 3 year run of perspiring nonstop.

While traveling and waiting, i have felt completely at ease sensing how God has worked on us and readied us for years so tomorrow we will come as we are, no cover, no facade, no baggage...well... except the 8 gigantic suitcases/duffles we are banking will stick with us ALL the way.  We will just BE ourselves and tap into the varied bits of wisdom and knowledge and experience that makes us who we are.