Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sister Marie

On our way to out to Deschappelles yesterday, we were able to stop in PaP and visit with our sister Marie and her beautiful family.

For those of you that do not know, Marie is the widow of Pastor Alberoi Augustine.

Pastor Alberoi went to be with the Lord on the day of the earthquake in PaP.

We met Pastor Alberoi in our first visit to Haiti in December of 2008. What an impressive man. A Haitian with a heart for Christ and a heart to minister to the Haitian people.

Again, one wonders about the fairness of life in Haiti. How could a man of God with so much to offer to this country be taken in such a time as this? How could a loving father be taken from his family in such a time of need?

Not sure I have the answers to those questions and having spent just a few moments sharing and praying over Marie and the children my heart still has questions.

Of this I am sure though:

Isaiah 54:10
10 For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
Says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

Lord, may your kindness, peace and mercy be known in a special way to Marie.


Ryan Reneau Earns $5,000.00 for HATS

PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Distribution February 28, 2010 11:17 AM Haitian Time

Ryan Reneau Earns $5,000.00 for HATS in Inaugural Football Throw Competition

Harkening back to his glory days at San Jacinto Christian Academy, Ryan Reneau stepped onto Haitian soil and quickly earned $5,000.00 for the HATS.

When challenged with Nolan’s unusual banter and trash talking, Ryan quickly matched his folly and successfully threw the Upwards football through the designated window.

The competition began with Nolan challenging the All-Star athlete to what Nolan believed to be an impossible task. A football throw through a 4’x 4’ window from a distance of 40+ yards for a $5,000.00 donation to HATS. What Nolan didn’t realize is that Ryan won the Amarillo Area Punt Pass and Kick competition while he was in the Third grade. He almost successfully defended that title while he was in the fourth grade had it not been for that new girl that moved into the district (losing to a girl seriously Ryan?). Despite that early setback in his football career, Ryan redeemed himself today.

Ryan was obviously ecstatic about the victory he experienced today. In his normal humble fashion, Ryan spoke briefly with reporters “Listen it is all about the kids, I am just here to help in any way I can. I sure didn’t think on the way down here yesterday that all those long days and nights tossing the football through the tire my dad placed from my favorite climbing tree in the backyard would pay dividends here in Haiti, but what do you know the Lord had other plans."

Obviously, Karen has a new hero and favorite quarterback for the HATS team. “Wow, all I can say is Wow!!! I am so happy for the kids, eh!”

Nolan having felt the load lighten from his wallet responded in short order “It was a good throw that is only comment I have for now.”

Ryan and Karen walked back to the house and celebrated with a cool glass of papaya juice.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dickie's Return to Canada

Karen and I left the Compound at 3:30am. Odner followed us on his scooter, with the shotgun, till we picked up Daniel...the policeman and Luckner. We had an uneventful trip to Port au Prince with me doing the driving. We arrived in time for an hour tour of Port au Prince. The destruction and misery the people are suffering is not possible to describe. The scenes you see on TV or through the media can not convey what is on the ground, it is very disturbing to see and deeply affected me. I was dropped at the Airport the 3 hours prior required by the American Airlines . It was sad to say goodbye to Karen at the gate, only passengers are allowed in the Terminal. Check-in was fast because so few were present at that hour.

There was an aftershock while we were waiting in the terminal that knocked out the power for a few minutes. We boarded at our scheduled time and headed for Miami. We flew into a lightning storm that was really rough and we dropped about 500 feet or more a couple of times. At times I wondered if the plane would hold together. The Haitians on board were upset and when we passed the storm they said all the way to Miami "MERCI PAPA, MERCI PAPA" . They have every right to be nervous.

I enjoyed my time in Haiti, enjoyed working with Don, Ken, Jim and Carol, enjoyed the children, enjoyed helping Karen and her staff. It was however a stressful time as well and I was glad to get home.

I stayed in Miami over night and got to Halifax at 9:00pm.Tuesday. It was a nice sight to see Sandra and Bruce waiting for me.

Texas Team (+1 Canadian) Arrive in Haiti

Well, Haiti will never be the same again as the Texas Team plus our token Canadian arrived in Haiti.

Quite an adventure with the travels with a 3+ hour delay out of DFW, a plane that needed a jump start, a jetway in Miami parked 6’ from the plane door, a 1:00 AM check-in at the hotel, a 3:45 AM wake up call for eight of us, a 4:45 AM wake up call for counsel, 18 bags curb-side checked with a smile due to the generous tip from one Brittanie, 3 bags seen left on the tarmac in the luggage transport cart as we fly away, a quick breeze through security and loading of the tap-tap, a grand tour of 1/4 mile of one road in PaP several times over (then again a couple more times just to make sure), an offer of freshly plucked chickens for lunch in the mountainside community of PaP (we passed on the offer), potholes, potholes, potholes, did I mention potholes (we have video, a crushed black suitcase and a couple of spines to prove), more potholes that make you grab air, rain to cool the evening and create dirt balls along forearm as we ride, Doberman pinchers as our welcome party at the Comfort House (Garrett just smile and back away – if that fails push Todd in front of you), a wonderful arrival at HATS to see our blessed sister Karen and the kids – our home away from home in Haiti, a wonderful dinner and conversation – all in all the trip has been great – Ryan says we are “building memories” (such a soft heart that Ryan).

The team is in great spirits and ready to begin the work that is before us. We are humbled to think that the Lord called and allows us to be part of this work.

You don’t spend a moment in Haiti without being changed. Every sight, smell, sound reminds you of where you are. Even though we did not drive through some of the more damaged areas of PaP, the destruction was there. It was already there. Yet through it all you see a beautiful people, a quick smile and wave from a multitude of kids and the resiliency of the adults on the street corner still setting up shop. Yes, you question why a people that has suffered so much suffers again. But that is an American (North American for my Canadian friends) thought process. I am not convinced the Haitians see it that way.

Oh to have the simple joy in our hearts that you so manifestly see in Josie as she receives and holds your hug just a little while longer. An inward joy and peace that we pray is grounded in Christ.

This week will be a journey for all of us. Our prayer remains that we will minister in Christ’s name for His glory. Your prayers are vitally important as we minister.

We are already grateful for a hug from Josie.


Work continues on the compound

The work continues on the compound. Lots of action especially on the water tower construction behind my house. Thursday afternoon and Friday morning saw Luckner busily doing electrical wiring before the cement roof would be poured. A wind and rain storm prevented it from being finished Thursday.

Today, Friday, the cement roof is being poured on the first level. I love watching the workers on the ground scurrying around like busy ants. Workers standing on the ladder passing buckets of cement up to the next person - up, up they go. Someone standing in a pool of wet cement at the bottom scooping the cement into the buckets to be passed. Others on the roof pouring wet cement into a wheelbarrow and taking it to one area to pour it out. Another there with a long stick to push the cement around to keep it underneath the string so it will be level.

Passing buckets of cement up the ladder

Pouring cement for the roof of the first floor

Rice and beans for the workers for lunch

Time to sit down and enjoy a bite before getting back to work

Now this will be left to dry before the work will start on level two of this building. Ti Luc continues to enjoy sitting outside and watching all the action involved with the construction. If Luckner is not onsite then Mama Karen tends to spend more time watching as well.

There were only two tents outside when the rain came yesterday afternoon, mine and Ti Luc's. Carol has had her tent inside the devotional/meeting room since she arrived. I was so concerned about helping to cover all the bags of cement to keep them dry that I forgot to have someone move our tents. Needless to say we had wet bedding, pillows and mattresses in a very short time. We, however, still slept
outside after allowing the tent to dry and changing everything necessary for sleeping with what was dry inside the house.

Early tomorrow morning, Saturday, will see us leaving for Port au Prince to pick up the nine person team from Texas with Kathy from Canada. We are looking forward to a productive and fun week with them. We are hoping and praying that the rainy season will not really start while they are here. It will be difficult to keep beds dry in ten mosquito tents in the rain.

My heart is heavy for all the displaced people in Port au Prince living in tents. Whenever I think of the rain, I think how very difficult it is for them. Dear God, how can they manage? How can they survive? They have so very many obstacles to overcome just for survival. Lots of illnesses in PaP now due to the lack of sanitary facilities, etc.

Carol leaves with us tomorrow morning. She will overnight with friends in PaP and return home on Sunday. She is going to be missed and especially by TiFi. Ti Fi is glowing in the awesome ongoing attention from Carol. Thank you, Carol, for a job well done. Carole has been the person for finding misplaced and lost items as well. I think she gets 10 out of 10 in that area.

Tifi playing ball with Carol

Tifi will sure miss Gramma Carol!

The noise from the Rice Mill next door continues to cause a problem for sleeping. No doubt it will be a big problem for the new people tomorrow. Trying to adjust to the noise of life in Haiti takes some doing. Having a noisy rice mill next to us does not help. Someone here recently suggested I check to see if a muffler could go on it and then try to be a friendly neighbour and purchase one.

Hopefully the new team will blog while here from their perspective.

Friendly neighbourhood rice mill

Monday, February 22, 2010

Preparing for Dickie to Head Home

Another sad day. Dickie is leaving.

Dickie and I must leave the compound tomorrow morning at 3:30 a.m to pick up Luckner and then on to pick up Daniel, our trusty police escort. Dickie was told to be at the airport by 6:40 a.m.

It was difficult to see Don, Ken and Jim leave last Tuesday, but made a little easier because I still had Dickie. Now, it is extremely difficult. Seeing him pack and preparing to leave as I write this is causing wet eyes already.

Dickie has hardly stopped since he arrived. Today, his last day for awhile, he remade the screen door in the kitchen and did a multitude of other tasks, which included servicing the generator.

This week he made a game for the children "Toss the Disc'. They love it, including Ti Luc who plays with his feet of course.
I will have five nights sleeping outside my house without a male member of my family close by and then I will return to Port au Prince on Saturday morning to pick up the 9 person Texas team. It will be good to have their expertise and fun spirits for a week.

The water tower behind my house is going up nicely. We will see the ceiling poured on the first level by the end of this week, after which the second level will start going up. The work continues too on the housingso support missionary helpcan join HATS.

Our school was repaired and reopened last Monday. It is good to see students going back and forth again in the HATS school uniforms. This week Dickie was finally able to present some students with a gift from their sponsors that had travelled down with the January workteam. One of those was a cute little girl, Ismyis, who is the sponsored student of Little Marilyn at Yarmouth Wesleyan. Due to the earthquake, of course, schools remained closed for quite awhile and ours even a little longer due to the damaged walls that had to be replaced.
We are continuing to distribute food and money to the hungry people in the area. This week Dickie was able to present food to the sponsored student of Pleasant Supplies (Brian Bowers) for his family members. Twenty families were supposed tocome for help tomorrow but due to going to PaP they will come on Tuesday. We continue to do a little to help with the needs around us.
Yesterday Dickie and I went to St Marc. As it was a Saturday, it was a huge market day in Pont Sonde and it was not easy to get through there. The traffic which is always nuts is extremely so on market day. We had an interesting TapTap just ahead of us that was filled with pigs with people sitting with their legs on the pigs. It was a case of 'these big pigs go to market'. Having a pig here is like having a bank account to most families. They feed them until they are huge and then sell them.
Carol continues to provide lots of help with the children and in many other areas as needed. She will be with us until next Saturday when we go pick up the next workteam.
This morning our little Dieunel fell out of the tire swing as it was being pushed much too fast by another child. He arrived at the house covered in blood, but was a tough little cookie. He is suffering but is proud of his bandages.
I trust Dickie will write for the blog upon his return to Yarmouth. I plan to continue blogging but it might not be daily. When the new group arrives next weekend I hope one of them will daily write for the blog.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Trip Home for Jim, Ken and Don

The trip home for the three musketeers, like the trip in, was interesting.  They left the compound before daylight Tuesday and arrived home late on Friday.  Jim kindly wrote about the trip for today's blog. As you read it you could get the idea they just might be missing our kids a tad.  Perhaps??

We left the compound about 4:30 am and picked up Luckner then went on to Pont Sonde to pick up Daniel (our policeman) and drove to PaP. We needed to be at the airport for 0830 but left early to have a brief tour of PaP. We got to PaP about 0645 and drove through some of the badly collapsed areas. Now more than a month after the quake and many buildings still show no signs of anyone starting to clean up the rubble and collect the many thousands of bodies that must still be in there. We saw collapsed hotels, churches and government buildings, a nursing training college that was completely flat. The devastation is not possible for me to convey with words and pictures. It is just too vast to imagine unless you see it with your own eyes.

We then headed for the airport and along the way got a nice surprise as Luckner's daughter Baby was waiting for us to say goodbye. She had spent the previous few days with her mother. There was great joy from all at seeing her there. We all took turns giving and receiving hugs and pictures and rejoicing with our new sister.

They then dropped us at the airport that they had picked up Dickie and Carol at when they flew in via MFI, but instead of just dropping us and running Karen decided to make sure of where we needed to be while we were going through security screening. It's a good thing she did as they had moved MFI to the main terminal so we grabbed our bags and headed back to the truck. We went over to the main terminal, grabbed another round of hugs and handshakes but this time our crew (Luckner, Karen, Baby and Daniel) left us to go on our own. It was about 0800 when we got through security and found our way to where we would check in with MFI. We were first in line and I thought that would be the end of our delays.

Missing the kids already. The MAF crew (who do the bookings for MFI) showed up about 0815 and told us all to find a seat somewhere and they would get to us shortly. Because of the damage to the airport we weren't inside but sitting outside facing the runways. We had shade from the terminal and a nice breeze so it was pretty comfortable. They started to call people in order of booking so I started to get a little nervous as by now there must have been 50 people sitting there for 19 seats. However soon I heard them call Sandra MacDonald so I had to get Ken and Don's attention as they weren't paying any (they both live in their own little worlds) and get them to the front where they took our passports which we later found out meant we were on the plane. A little while later they called everyone back up one at a time where they weighed us and all of our luggage. The number of passengers they take depends as much on weight as it does on number of people. After a few hours of sitting by the runway we were getting a bit peckish so Ken went rummaging through his pack for some snacks and came out with a bag of rocks which he kindly released back into the wild.

We had been told by someone that there was 2 flights that day 1100 and 1600 and weren't sure which one we would get on. As the day dragged on and on and on and 1100 came and went one of our fellow passengers told us that the flight left Florida at 1100 and wouldn't be to PaP before 1330. As the day passed we watched many planes and troops from different countries pass by us and all in all the day went fairly quickly. The fellow in charge of booking the flight started calling us in order to line up as they had a plane on the ground. None of us had seen it yet but I guess it had landed at the other part of the airport and refueled and was taxiing over to where we were waiting. Still missing the kids.

We flew in a Douglas DC3 that was built in 1944. While we were sitting in the plane on the runway in PaP, looking like I had just stepped out of the shower with all my clothes on, the pilot came out and apologized
that the heater was broken but there was lots of blankets if we were cold. I thought he was quite funny but by the time we were on the second leg of the flight I was looking for the blankets. We had stopped in the
Bahamas for fuel at a small airport (Exuma I think) on one of the many islands. After about 20 minutes we were back on the plane headed for Fort Pierce airport. A trip that could have been made with a flying time
of about 90 minutes in a modern jet had taken us about 6 hours on the DC3. The MFI staff were great to deal with and they even gave us a ride from the airport to our motel. The next morning after a hearty breakfast we hired a car to drive us from Ft Pierce to Ft Lauderdale for another night in a motel before our early flights home the next morning. The rest of the trip was uneventful as all went smoothly and I made it back to Lytton about 2pm yesterday.

In case I forgot to mention it we are really missing the kids.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Current Situation in Haiti

Again some information on what is happening in Haiti - most of the thanks for this goes to my friend, Judith, in Port-au-Prince.

The latest figures from the Government of Haïti place the death toll at 212,000 persons (and could go as high as 230,000) with 300,000 persons injured, about 500,000 persons emigrating to the provinces (mostly those directly north and on the southwestern peninsula), and another 700,000 persons in camps or staying at others' homes (usually courtyards) in Port-au-Prince. 

Commercial air flights with American Airlines, is scheduled to begin by the end of this week as the number of relief flights continues to decline.  It is now less than half of what it was, but still a good two times more than the usual number of daily flights before the earthquake.  (The cost, however, of a commercial air flight from PaP to Miami has doubled.  For Dickie to use that method to go home on Monday it will cost him $600 US, for a one way ticket out to Miami.)

Floating docks have been installed at the port and it is expected that up to 1,500 containers will soon be able to be handled per day! This is a great blessing, this is the main route for many supplies into Haïti.

Overland travel is still clogged at the border, but it is generally moving acceptably well.

Camps and smaller sites....Drinking water seems to be in enough abundance, and there has been a 'surge' effort to provide two weeks' worth of staples for women of families.  The present surge will continue for about another week, and already about 1.2 million persons have received food staples (2.3 million since the beginning of food aid)--and now in an orderly fashion, too!  There are stories of families setting up the old 'lakou' system in the camps: one common cooking pot that then feeds several families.  "Where there is a will there is a way."  That's the Haitian people! 

One of the solutions that is hard to come by is the latrine issue, there are just not enough to go around at the camps--not enough land to plant them on.  Catholic Relief Services has just been funded to help set up some latrines, however, so there will still be at least several more to be built.  Because of this issue, the Shelter Cluster is planning to 'decongest' key camp sites, that is, ask for volunteers to move to other locations that they will find.  This will not be an easy undertaking because the families will not want to either move away from their networks nor their homes since many still have their possessions under rubble. 

Along with a lack of latrines is the lack of adequate shelter against the spring rainy season that has is about to begin. Actually it rained last night for several hours.  People were soaked and miserable.  Can yoiu imagine all those people in tents lying and shivering in wet clothes.  The tents are not water proof.  On top of the problem of the tents not being watertight, they also require a significant amount of room to be able to be set up, and there simply is not the space.  The organizations are pooling resources to be able to provide at least one tarp per family by 1 May. About one third of the 250,000 families in PAP that are without homes have received either some plastic sheeting or tents, and that number is increasing fairly rapidly.  By Haitian ingenuity, the tarps are also for sale by the street vendor! 

Temporary Shelters...Once everyone has protection from the rains, the next step will be to provide temporary housing kits--poles of either wood or metal, plastic sheeting and corrugated iron for the roof.  These shelters are 18m2 (194 sq ft), have an expected lifespan of about 3 years, and will cost about US$1,000-1,500 for a family of five.  The Shelter Cluster is looking for donations to purchase these kits.  Finding enough space for these is another issue.  The Haitian Government is looking at expropriation of land around PAP for temporary settlements--the camps do not have the space for these, as you can imagine. 

The organization CHF has hired quite a number of Haitian people to clear rubble, especially around the government buildings downtown.  They are working with another organization to see if the rubble can be crushed and then used in rebuilding.  YEAH!  I've been very concerned about what would happen with all this rubble.  It is much more than could be disposed of.

One aspect that will need more reflection, however, is that an intensely populated urban area like Port-au-Prince will not be able to support single family dwellings.  The downtown area is 14.7 sq miles and had over 2 million people living there--that works out to about 136,000 people per sq mile.  Single dwelling homes, especially any larger than these temporary structures, would be impossible.

The newest figures suggest that 3.7 million instead of 3.0 million persons were affected by the earthquake with 1.2 million losing their homes.   I'm not sure any disaster has had to confront this magnitude of population density.

Some of the relief groups are talking about trying to resettle the Port-au-Princians back into the rural provinces.  Unfortunately they are missing a key factor here: all of the jobs are in PAP.  In fact, a large portion of money transfers are actually from within the country and go from PAP to the provinces.  The bottom line: if the folks don't return, no one will have any money to live on.  The money transfer system is what has kept the Haitian people afloat. 

The Haitian people are amazingly resilient.  They have had to deal with, and overcome, disaster after disaster.  What they are trying to cope with right now, however, is more than any of us could imagine dealing with.

Please continue to pray for Haiti and for the aid work to be done God's  way.  Thank you for what you have done to help.  THANK  YOU!! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Update from Dickie and Karen

Luckner and I went to Gonaives yesterday to see a Government Offical in regards to HATS related business. The road from Pont Sonde to Gonaives is very rough and dusty, it took us 2 hours approximately each way. We passed some of the largest rice fields I have ever seen. They went on for miles. Rice is grown here one rotation after another . From the rice fields we crossed over a mountain pass into the plain where Gonaives is. The pass is a desert with not much of anything growing except thousands and thousands of cactus. The City of Gonaives was devastated by hurricanes and floods dating back to 2004. There is very little evidence of rebuilding. Hundreds of vehicles remain where they were destroyed. The Government Office we went to still has not been repaired. They have nothing in the building except a couple of chairs and one desk. Most of their business is conducted on the front porch. The official showed me the water mark on their building. It is approximately 14 feet above the ground. He said Gonaives is a flat plain between the mountains and the sea. Over 60,000 people were washed away.

Ken, Don and Jim left at 4:30 yesterday morning, with Karen, Luckner and police escort, to head back to Canada. It was sad to see them go. We got a lot of work done and had a lot of fun together. We teased Ken about losing his hearing aid battery and how deaf he was. Since yesterday morning my ear has been plugged solid and I can not hear anything on that side. I now know what he went through. I put 5 pounds of brick in Don’s carry-on last night but he found it. Ken volunteered to take it to Canada, except he does not know yet. Jim, Don and I are on the Board for HATS. We conducted several meetings here to try and solve some problems. Over the past 2 weeks we did a lot of jobs. Some examples are: fixed dozens of water leaks in pipes, unplug the septic system, build and bug juice a cabinet and a vanity, build benches for the school and devotion room, repairs to school desks and tables, move the depot, inventory of food supplies, new base for the water pump, repairs to doors and screens, etc, etc. The biggest and best job was playing with and visiting the children. I wonder if anyone checked to see if they are still all here. We also enjoyed watching the Olympics together in the evening between naps.

Karen here. We left early yesterday, 4:30 a.m., in hopes of being able to show Ken, Don and Jim some of the devastated areas of PaP. We arrived with time to drive them around so they could see the horrendous damage to the city. I have seen it several times now but once again, tears poured. I don’t see how anybody could see it and not cry. I saw some equipment trying to remove some of the cement debris but I also saw even more buildings down. This country is going to continue to need a lot of help over a very long time period to make any headway. We left the three musketeers at the airport at 7:50 a.m. I hope they will do a blog from Canada and give their travel experience back. Dickie and Carol are still with me for a short while. The group from Texas, and Kathy from BC, are scheduled to arrive on the 27th. They will be working on various things but especially on electrical and plumbing in the new house.

Work is continuing onsite on the water tower building and on the interior of the new accommodations for support missionary staff to help Karen. The compound has lots of men coming and going every which way from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Work Inside New Accommodations

People continue to come to the compound asking for food and asking for Karen to take their children. Too, they come for money to take themselves and their sick children to the hospital. We do our best to help with the needs of the people around us. So many hungry people, so many sick and injured people. So very many needs. A huge thank you to all who have donated towards the needs of the poor and desperate people. God bless you all.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New CBC Radio Information Morning Interview

We're grateful to CBC Radio's Information Morning program who followed up with Karen recently to share what is happening currently with HATS and in the Descahappelles area.  The interview is available via the CBC web site, or directly at the following link:
CBC Information Morning Interview

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

We thought to start todays blog we would share the Vanentine we sent our wives to celebrate the day.

Irene,Cheryl, Sandra and Lila

Although we are in Haiti far away,
Our hearts are still with you on Valentine's Day,
You know that we would never forget,
No matter how many cute Haitians we have met.

No flowers, chocolates, dinners, so what?!
Our thoughts of you are still red hot!
You know we'd go through rain, sleet or hail,
But, here are our hugs and kisses by email.

                        - Jim, Ken, Dickie and Don

We met for church this morning as is usual on Sunday but were a very small group. We had a great team leading the worship and praise and had a wonderful time of song and prayer.

After church we had all the children change and took them to the river for a swim. All but Dickie that is. We left him behind as the token Blan on the compound (and he and Don just can't get along without causing the rest of us getting side-aches from the laughter). The scene at the river was typical for the area, the kids were swimming right upstream of some women doing laundry and downstream from then another group were washing their truck.
People continue to come to the gate asking for help and Karen goes to talk to them then provide some food and a little cash to help them out. The need is so great and the resources here are small but always some help is provided if at all possible.
This afternoon we met down at the childrens home for a brief time of prayer and singing in memory of Serlande. Then we all passed hugs around and those of us who remained behind gathered for a group photo. All of us who met Serlande miss her very much and some of the children, especially Josie who almost considered Serlande as another mother or at least her big sister, are very affected by the loss.
Later this afternoon we took a drive over to Luckners for a visit and to admire the work on his house. It is progressing nicely. While there Karen and Luckner had a meeting over HATS business so Ken, Dickie and Jim decided to walk back to the mission. We enjoyed a pleasant 2k stroll in late afternoon heat. I might add that we drew a lot of looks from the locals but encountered no problems along the way.

Yesterday, we rolled three days of reporting into one issue.  We had been so busy, and fun busy,  that the Blog got unattended, and it can take a lot of time sometimes.  However, when it was finally done, I think I got too much credit  -  the title made reference to Don's record breaking Blog.  I did do the Thursday and Friday portions, but theSaturday references re the trip to St. Marc was done by Jim, the prayer vigil upstairs here and the information re the valuable bag having nightly trips to Security Guard Ti Luc's tent was done by Karen.  And, the photo layouts there were done by Jim.  Some of my photos may have been used at times, but Jim and Karen usually do Blog photo arrangements.    Don.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Don's (Record-Length) Posting

Thursday, Friday and Sat. 

“Busy” is the Compound Pass Word these days.  Well, it’s always busy, but more so now with the extra dozen and half of Haitian workers building the water tower, and working on the new living quarters that the Work Team from Yarmouth had started in January.  The base of the tower was gradually filled in with the broken down rocks into smaller sizes, and any spaces in between filled with cement; and,  on Friday, a floor layer of concrete was laid  -  again, man mixed,  and carried by the ‘ bucket brigade’ to the appropriate locations.

Thursday, Dickie, Karen, and Luckner had measured the layout of a bathroom for the new living quarters above the Children’s House, and Dickie started in on making a basin cabinet for the room.  It is very interesting to see the methods the Haitians use when constructing such a building with its masonry walls and concrete roof - very resourceful.  And there are lots and lots of concrete and cement work yet to do.  A truck arrived late Thursday afternoon with 400 bags of cement.  Although it was about quitting time after a long tiring day’s work, it was impressive to see how quickly the workers unloaded the truck, carrying the heavy bags to a temporary storage place to be temporarily covered with some tarps.  Great work, with lots of fun and comradely among them.  As we’ve said earlier, Luckner is supervising the construction of the tower. We try to keep a supply of cool water available for the workers by alternating some gallon jugs from the warm water to cooling it slowly by a block of ice.  It works out reasonably well, and then the diesel generator doesn’t have to be going so often.   The Haitian electricity supply is intermittent here.  Thursday also saw Ken treating and then the painting the four new benches that Dickie had been making before the new three arrived.  In the midst of the major projects that are underway, of course, there are the many small and backup errands and necessary support that Carol, Jim, and Don were giving.  Now, too, with the schools not yet opened after the earthquake, the Orphanage children are around all day long.  They don’t get in the way, or go anywhere dangerous, but one going up or down the Compound can often get a greeting, wave, and /or smile, and they are always ready for a hug or bit of fun. Ti Luc these days sits in the shade and supervises the construction of the water tower.  He’s getting some “hand on/ feet on” experience as well with his ‘spoon shovel’, mixing sand and water bowl, and little dump truck.

Thursday afternoon the donation of packaged rice along with enough cash to buy some beans to cook with it began for some of the more needy people in the area. Some was picked up by the people themselves if they were close enough to make their way here and some was delivered by volunteers because it would be an additional hardship for the family to make the trip to the mission.

The feeding program of the HATS school students continued through the week.   School was not yet open but students came mid-morning for a meal.  School will reopen on Monday.

After the wheelbarrows or project truck are stopped at the end of a workday, out comes the soccer ball, and all ages, and genders, and all lengths of legs are ready to run, dribble, and shoot.  Good football skills come early!   As we know, the soccer/football here is like the puck and hockey stick to Canadian boys and girls.
Thursday evening saw the crew down with the kids while Carol gave out the stuffed toys donated by the crew of the MFI flight they came in on. The children were thrilled with their new cuddly friends.

During Friday, Dickie the Foreman of the Canadian visiting workers, almost finished a cabinet for the bathroom in the new quarters as mentioned above, with help from Jim.  Ken had finished treating and painting the benches, and Don was doing errands with Karen.  Carol, at age 77, is hard to keep up with.  She does super work with Ti Luc and Ti Fi, looks after the daily washing and drying of us visitors clothing, washing evening dishes, interpreting Creole for us with Martha and Germaine when Karen is not around (Carol lived in Haiti 15 years ago), giving Ti Luc most meals, etc, etc, as Karen is often loaded with errands or someone needs her for something.  Last year Cecile compared Karen to a helicopter, flitting around here and there.

Friday marked a month since the Earthquake in Haiti. This was a very important day in the history of Haiti. It was reported on several radio stations that the president accepted Christ and that he made the announcement that the country of Haiti must be given back to God.  According to Luckner, who knows the history of his country, Haiti has never before had a president who was a Christian.  Since the earthquake it has been reported that thousands have accepted the Lord.  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, February 12th, 13th, and 14th were designated to be days of fasting and praying for Haiti.  President Rene Preval announced on Thursday that no one had to work on Friday, to enable them to join in the prayer vigils.   Those of us here at the mission, including all men who are working on the projects, got together to pray.  It was very moving to see a group of men standing with their hands in the air telling God they wanted to put Haiti into His hands.  This is happening all over Haiti for this three day period.

This morning, Saturday, we went to St. Marc in hopes the bank would be open, but nothing was.  The main road was blocked to traffic because there was a big prayer meeting for Haiti happening.    Seeing a blockade for this reason brought joy to all of us.

You know that since the quake we have been sleeping in the yard in mosquito tents.  Too, we have been taking a bag, with all passports, wallets, airline tickets, and mission funds, etc out of the house with us. Nightly we dress Ti Luc in three pairs of pyjamas and carry him out to his tent after he is asleep.  Lately that special bag has been going into the tent with Ti Luc, instead of being locked in the truck, to avoid anyone else on the compound seeing a pattern of something going into the truck at bedtime and coming back into the house in the morning.  A couple of days ago Ti Luc discovered the bag at the bottom of his bed and promptly opened a zipper with his feet.  When I went to bring him in he was sitting there happily playing with a bunch of $10 Haitian bills and did not want me to take his money away from him.

Luckner called it a day for the crew at 3pm and they energetically entered into a football game. They quickly chose sides and it was skins against the shirts and a more entertaining afternoon would be hard to imagine. Many of them played with bare feet which.  In the second half Lukner asked if Jim wanted to get into the game, he declined stating he was too old but Lukner declared that there was an older gent on the field already. The fellow was a very young and in shape 68 years old and kept up with them all and outplayed some. These guys take their football (soccer) seriously and went at it as if they hadn’t been working hard all week on cement work. It still amazes us at how quickly and efficiently they get things done.

Now the Olympics are about to start so I will get this off and we will relax in front of the TV and enjoy a relaxing evening as long as the eyes will stay open. Kens are already closed and it doesn’t take long for more to follow.