Sunday, October 31, 2010

Never a dull moment at HATS

The workteam, under the direction of Gerry Rhyno,  left here on Tuesday and arrived safely at their homes on Wednesday.  We were scheduled to leave the mission at 6:00 a.m.  The trip to Port au Prince actually started with the big van sitting on the mission compound needing a tire change before we could proceed.  We were still off by 6:30 a.m.   A good start to a long day.

Good start to six am departure for airport

A lot was accomplished in the week they were with us for which I am extremely thankful.  They worked hard in the hot sun and high humidity but they also enjoyed time with my kids and, of course, my kids enjoyed attention and fun with the group.  They took advantage of a very necessary break from the sun and heat at noon time to regain their strength as you will see from the photo of the four sleeping beauties.  Judel joined them one day he decided he needed to get his rest too.  Sofa or chair he did not need.  Thank you to each and every one of the team members.  God bless you all.

Noon break. Sleeping beauties
Judel. Who needs a bed to be comfortable
The Haitian workers are continuing with the work on the enclosure for our land located behind our school.  As of yesterday there was a small section left to complete that job.   Then on to another project.

Working on last section of enclosure
Yesterday Martha delivered two sacks of rice to me on her horse.  The kids loved seeing a horse on the compound.  Ti Luc was not feeling well, but Martha took him outside and allowed him to sit on the horse.  Wow, he loved it and kept telling it to go, go.  I don't think he needs a big stroller anymore when we have our walks along the canal.  He just needs his own horse.

Ti Luc saying - Let's go
Today has been just another nice quiet normal Sunday at HATS.  Ti Luc was not well Friday night, yesterday, and was worse last night.  He was coughing a lot and having breathing problems again.  He was with me all night so I could give him ventalin as needed.  I was more tired when we got up this morning than when we lay on the bed last night.    Antoinette left 6:30 a.m. for the service at her church and planned to be back here for our service at 9:00 a.m.   Due to the cholera and to the fact one my kids has measles, and looks like others might be starting, I had decided to have Antoinette do the service at the school, and I would help her.   Magalie would do a service here with my kids only.  The best laid plans of mice and men . . . .    Antoinette took a moto taxi to her church and paid him in advance to pick her back up at 8:50.    Antoinette arrived home to find her husband ill, with fever and vomiting and she needed to look after him.   Since the moto did not return for her she could not come back for an hour for church and then return to her husband.   I was so very drained and tired from being awake with Ti Luc all night, and Ti Luc was still ill, so I did not even dress for church.   I could hear kids at the school for church and I could hear Magalie and my kids worshipping here onsite.  What to do now?   So, I interupted their little service here and sent Magalie to the school to look after that service.  I put Vladimy in charge of the service here.  And I looked after Ti Luc.  All is well.  Yeah, right!   Moise left that service and came in to tell me Josie and Ismyis were jumping up and down on the benches and not listening to Vladimy.   I put in a quick appearance, which I knew would settle the mischievous kids down, but grabbed my camera on the way out.   Glad I did.   Josie and Ismyis saw me standing in the door and they quickly became the quietest and best behaved of my children.   And I was able to take a photo of them all sitting and behaving nicely with Karena peeking out of JJ's arms and laughing.

Vladimy leading ti servis on site
All was okay on the surface there so I decided to get back to Ti Luc but Karena chased me crying to come with me.  She was happy to join Ti Luc inside and he loves to have her around.

Cute or what
Antoinette had to take the whole day to help her hubby and Magalie survived but not without several 'dezod'  occasions by the children that I helped her deal with.   At 1:00 p.m. I was informed we were out of water.  Okay, no problem.  I will turn on the pump.  No water came.  Needs to be primed.  With Vladimy and the wrench and 5 gal of water off to the pump itself we went.   We finally got the pump to pull the water, but before we could get one drop in the tanks the water pressure separated the pipe where it was joined and all the water went into the air and over me, with none in the tank.   Nothing I did could fix it.   No problem.  We only have thirteen kids desperately in need of a shower, two sweaty adults, toilets to flush and dishes to wash with  no water.   Because the canal is contaminated we could not bring that in to flush toilets as we could in the past.   Fun and games.   Called the only person I trust here to touch this plumbing system, Luckner, but did not reach him.   Eventually we did connect and by 6:30 the pipe was fixed and the tanks are now being filled.

I promised the children a video this afernoon.   One way to give Magalie a chance to get something done I thought.   So, turn on the generator first right.  Can't.  No oil.  Did anyone tell me we were out of oil.  Of course not!   Called someone outside the compound to purchase oil for me as I did not feel well enough to go.  Eventually a gallon of diesel oil arrived.  Okay.  On with the generator and turn on TV and DVD player and in with the disc.  Problem.  The image was so dark the kids could hardly see anything.  Couldn't figure out the problem as I could find nothing in English.  Had to rush back home to check on my sick boy who was here by himself.  Judel, Dieunel, and Ismyis were cying when I left as I did not give them the promised video.  I was a mean mama!    Back down to the Kid's Home again and this time I unplugged and replugged everything I could find.   Okay.  It worked.  All the kids jumped up and down and hugged and kissed me because I had just made their day.  I was the wonderful mama!

We all have days like that, where nothing seems to go right and we wonder how we manage to get through it all.  And the days often come when we are overtired or ill.   I know that I get through quieter days like today, or the days that are much more challenging, because I am learning to stay calm and ask God to take care of it.  I am his.  My kids are his.  This work is his and he cares about it all.  I am still learning and working on keeping Karen out of the way and asking him to take control of the various situations that constantly arise.  For 15 1/2 years I have been saying "Never a dull moment at HATS".   For 15 1/2 years I have been asking for some 'dull' moments.  I would still like to have some.  Please continue to pray for the "right missionary couple" to join me and help me with the load.  Just maybe the day will come when there will be a couple of 'dull' moments here.  O Happy Day!!

Whether there comes a quiet and dull time or not,  it has been,  it is, and  it always will be
"All About The Children".

Blessings everyone.   Karen

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Home Safe

Just a quick update to let everyone know that the NS contingent just landed safely in Halifax and are on their way home now...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Final Full Day for Team

Its our final full day at the HATS Orphanage and its hard to keep this short as there are so many stories packed into our last few hours here.  Let’s finish telling you about the rest of the team that is here and their thoughts about this visit.  This is Bob’s seventh trip to Haiti, and he says that each group of people he travels with is a different adventure.
Cora says that it is a blessing just to be here with Karen and the children.
Brian says that events like this week makes your heart ache for the people in Haiti.
Kristopher has enjoyed playing with all the children.
Dana says that the children have captivated him.
Ben in his wisdom says it ‘twas what it twas'
Cathy still feels it is all surreal but she has been happy to work and has been thrilled with every minute of simple and real fun with the kids.
Lora thinks that this has been a great experience and is thankful to have been able to play even a small role.  The camaraderie couldn’t have been better.
Cora is here from Elliot Lake, ON, but she is originally from Springdale NL.  She says it is such a blessing to work with the kids and see their sweet smiles. Ti-Luc has captured her heart with his joy for life. This is her second mission trip.  Five years ago she was in Malawi, Africa.  Cora attends the Pentecostal Church in Elliot Lake.

Cora and Karena
Dana Stone is from Weymouth, NS and he works on a mink ranch. He’s the worship leader at the Emmanuel Baptist Church.  He’s brought his music skills to our daily devotions, and even managed to ‘wing it’ during one of the creole hymns!  The children have certainly enjoyed hearing him play the guitar for them, especially Mirlande.  Dana says this trip has been an even bigger blessing than he ever imagined it would be.  He appreciates the workers and admires how happy they are. 

Dana and kids
I guess you’ve all heard of free range chickens in Canada, well in Haiti they have taken it to a new level and they have free range goats!!!  And by free range we mean free to roam the river side, the fields and the streets.  Gerry thinks it puts another twist on the saying to “get your goat”!!

Free Range Goats
Speaking of wildlife we learned this morning to be careful when moving the cinder blocks.  Nesting underneath was a tarantula about the size of your hand – it’s surprising how loud grown men can scream!!  So the girls continued to work while the men recovered and we released a frog and then let a rat run free!! 

Mr. Frog
It appears we have completely destroyed an ecosystem in the back yard.  But we are trying to replenish through the gift of a chicken from the biological father of Karen's Calgary granddaughter, who came to see her today.

repleinishing the ecosystem
Childlren & Mariah's biological father
As a token of our appreciation to the workers who toil under the hot sun every day,  our group presented each man with a cold drink as well as a bag of clothing that had been donated.  How grateful they were!  Gerry spoke and thanked them for all the hard work they do, and will continue to do.

Goodbye to Haitian workers by Blan yo
Today more blocs were moved by blan yo.  This time from downstairs to the sleeping level upstairs.  Too, the wire fence that had to be removed for the construction of the water tower building was straightened out and put back up. 

Moving blocs to sleeping area
Putting fence back up by water tower
Ti Luc has enjoyed time with everybody on the team and they have all enjoyed him and his antics.  Today again he spent some good time with the professor on the team,  Rollie, writing and showing his other skills.  Rollie, like the rest of the team,  is very impressed with his capabilities.

Teacher and student
Though our trip was cut short, we are thankful for the time we had to play our small role at the HATS mission.  Thanks to Karen, her children, and her staff for a wonderful experience that we will never forget. Our next blog will be from home.  We want to thank everyone for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Weekend

Saturday started out with a wonderful pancake breakfast cooked by Karen, even though she was ill and trying not to show it. Soon, however, it could no longer be hidden. We saw very little of her as she slept most of the day away.

Our work day began slowly, however, as the trip to get more supplies at the big ?? plumbing hardware store in Liancourt was delayed with battery difficulties in the truck. After pushing the truck and getting a boost the shoppers were off. A bunch of supplies were purchased and when they did return, we wasted no time in working on fixing bathrooms in the children’s house, and installing new sinks to put the finishing touches on the residence for the new couple that with God`s help will hopefully soon be selected.

Battery Problem

Bob in big plumbing store
We were all so blessed to have the kids home with us all day. We had great fun playing soccer and blowing bubbles and skipping rope. We were so happy when Daniel got the water hose out to wash Karen`s truck because we ALL ran under the hose to cool down. Some of us also went for a short walk to the HATS land behind the school to check the progress of the new wall. We passed around some snacks to the Haitian workers and admired their great work. Due to the Cholera outbreak we have to spend our time on the main compound.

Delivering treats to Haitian workers
My turn now Cory En
As you know the majority of our mission team is from the Yarmouth area in Nova Scotia. Well, four people from that group are siblings from one family!!! Daniel, Cory, Amanda and Pernell are the children of Henry and Leota Muise. The biggest reason they are together serving the Lord is because of a praying mother. She did not let a night go by without praying with and for her 4 children. When Gerry presented the opportunity to help his team in Haiti, they were on board immediately....they will never be the same. They are very grateful to have done a small part!

Muise family (What a great bunch)
As you can see Pernell is the tall dark and handsome one of the 4 and he is very humble.... ok ;))

Sunday began another glorious day in Haiti with roosters and sunshine. Gerry was making coffee at 5:15 am and Ti-Luc was the first one in the kitlchen to keep him company. We rise early in Haiti so families should be prepared for that when we return home!! Another present Sunday morning was Marta’s early arrival and a fantastic breakfast omelette and toast before our prayer service at 9am. It was an uplifting service with wonderful music (thanks to Dana Stone on guitar) and the kids singing to guests and the guests singing to the kids. We were all one big happy family easily fitting together after only a few days. Pernell Muise delivered an inspiring sermon (translated by Karen for the employees and children of HATS) that reminded us all not to look at lifes circumstances or to the past or future for guidance, but to look upwards and follow Gods will. It is helping us all come to terms with Monday being our last day here. The church service was a family affair today held on the main compound due to the Chlorea epidemic in the area.

Workteam singing for us
Before our church service we had some photo time - workteam with children, Martha, Antoinette and Magalie and Karen with her kids.

Workteam and HATS family before church
Karen & kids before church service
A wonderful surprise gift that was given to the children this weekend was their very own television for their house!!! You cannot imagine the look of excitement and joy when it was first powered up. They get to watch one movie DVD a week on Saturday nights and they LOVE it. Karen had it for some time but waited for the right time to get it up and running for them.

As Sunday is always a day to relax, we spent the day with the kids just doing whatever they wanted. The men fashioned hockey sticks for the older guys and we even got to watch a shootout. Canadian Ice Hockey watch out. Haitian Cement Hockey is moving up quickly.

Haitian Cement Hockey
We finished our Sunday by enjoying a fantastic meal with the workteam and the HATS family all together. Karena was spotted very much enjoying her dinner.

Karena enjoying dinner

Thank you for your prayers for Haiti and its latest serious problem. Please continue to pray as the death toll and people becoming ill continues to rise. There are many more deaths in this area and it has moved to Port au Prince. God bless you all.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 3

It's Friday in Haiti but it's with heavy hearts we all woke up this morning.  Late Thursday afternoon we were shocked to hear that there is a cholera outbreak in this area and that over 160 people are known to have died and 1580 known to be quite sick.  Our love and prayers go out to all who are affected of course but our thoughts also went to our families back home and concern over their reaction to the news.  We are all fine and there has not been symptoms exhibited by anyone living or working in the school or orphanage so we are thankful for that.

Karen and Gerry immediately got current information for us and we discussed any health concerns the group may have had.  Karen consulted with Luckner and it was decided to close the school this morning and keep all the kids home with us today just to be careful.
Word has come that a lot of people throughout this valley area have died, in some cases several in the same family, but they did not go to a hospital so the deaths have not been recorded.   The Haitian people have suffered so very much and now this.  Please pray that those in charge will be able to find the cause of this epidemic and be able to get it under control.

We had another group discussion this morning and even though a lot wanted to stay and let this challenge run its course it was decided that we call Air Canada and check out our options.  Regrettably we will be leaving our mission only half completed on Tuesday.   We are leaving early and the team scheduled to follow this one will not be coming to Haiti at this time.   While we are all sad and disappointed it has energized and motivated us to get more things done.

First an update from Thursday and the Haitian workers who continued to dig out for the foundation on one side of the perimeter wall as the rest of the workers built the wall on another side.  The work is tough but they work well together as a team.

On Friday morning some of us continued to move the cinderblocks for the local workers to install while others did some of the small jobs in the buildings that were needed.

New taps were put on the drinking fountain in the school so they can automatically shut off when the kids are finished drinking.

A much needed air conditioner is being installed in Karen's office and the kid's house is getting a new table top for their dining room table.

In the middle of the jobs we are all making sure to spend more fun time with the kids – so having them home from school is good for us!!

While we may not have started our day full of positive spirit we certainly ended the day full of thanks and joy.  At dinner this evening Ti-Luc fed himself for the very first time!!!  He is a determined and independent young man and besides drawing for us with his feet this week, he took it upon himself to feed himself for the very first time.  We all cheered with excitment as he continued, with a little help and encouragement from his Mama!  What a fantastic moment for us all to share and what a great reward to end the week.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 2

Day two in Deschappelles started with resounding voices of the kids in the school as they sang their morning devotions. We all stood on the back of the classroom and listened with our ears and our hearts as the kids clapped and rejoiced for half an hour. What a great way to start the day!

School Devotions

Next the kids gathered in the courtyard and sang the Haiti national anthem as the flag was raised to start the school day.

Flag Raising
Our fun was over then as we were put to work in the hot sun. We all admire the local workers ability and stamina to continue labouring as we had to take multiple breaks during the morning. Our task was to make a dent in pile of 600 cement blocks and move them behind the school where a new wall is being built. We loaded wheelbarrows and carried blocks about four hundred feet so that the local labourers wouldn’t run out of blocks to lay.

Blocks to be transported
Karen was happy to have the help of some of our ladies who worked on preparing books for recording of salaries for the next year for the school teachers and for the employees on the main compound. Too, she is thankful for the help from the group with framing pictures of her wonderful kids to be hung on the wall of fame.

Cora & Amanda doing work for Karen
Today we are featuring our two Cory’s.

Cory Muise, or Cory En as he’s called here, is a farmer back in St. Bernard, Nova Scotia where he lives with his wife and three sons. Cory is happy to be a part of our HATS in Haiti, where the kids here remind him of his own three that he’s missing back home.

Cory En
Cory Melanson, or Cory De, is from Church Point, Nova Scotia. He is a fisherman and part-time sea urchin diver back home, and has a wife and two sons. Cory says his eyes have been opened wide since he’s been here, and he appreciates just how lucky we are.

Cory De

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Safe Arrival

Well we’ve all had our first morning wake up call in Haiti. We arrived safe and sound after a long day of travel capped off by a three hour drive to Dechapelles.  The sights and sounds and smells of the trip were unforgettable eye openers for the new people in the group and for the repeat missionaries. It was saddening how little things have changed since the devastation of the earthquake nine months ago.

When we arrived and unloaded the 33 suitcases filled with generous donations from all of you, we got to meet the kids who were all waiting patiently to get the first hugs from the vanillas. After the first taste of the wonderful food we all found our beds and settled in for an early night.

We have a group of 15 people, with 12 from Nova Scotia, 2 from Newfoundland much to Karen’s delight (1 via Elliot Lake, ON ), and one from Nunavut.  

Today was spent acclimatizing ourselves to the HATS compound, and the heat!  Some of the group spent some time opening and sorting all of the donations that were sent.  What a huge and varied amount of clothing, medicines, bedding, school supplies, and toys for the kids.  Karen was thrilled with the amount of donations, and she will identify the needs for the school and for the kids, and distribute it as required.   Some of the smaller jobs that got done today were installing a new  washing machine, cleaning up old batteries , and installing two much needed air conditioner.  After a day of Karen taking it easy on us, tomorrow we face the work full on!

One of the big treats today for all of us was a tour of the school grounds and a visit with the kids recess time!  Not sure who had the most fun!!

We will be featuring each person in our group over the next two weeks of our mission.  Today, we’ll put the spotlight on our teacher and our student.

Kristopher Dugas is 16 years old student in Grade 10 from the Weymouth area of Nova Scotia.  He is the sound guy at the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Comeauville.  He’s taken two weeks off school to help with the building of the perimeter wall of the school, and since it is his first trip south, he will have a lot to tell his fellow students about when he returns. 

Rollie Herritt Is a retired teacher who marvels at all the work Karen is doing.  It’s his first trip to Haiti but he has been thinking about HATS for quite some time.  His organization “Every Child Counts...Every Student Matters” is sponsoring 21 of the 301 children in the school  this year!!!  A one year sponsorship will supply the tuition, books and uniform for a student as well as contribute to the salary and food costs – every child in schools get a delicious and nutritious lunch every day.  Rollie will definitely have lots of stories to share when he returns home because his video camera is almost always in his hands.

So stay tuned for more updates in the days ahead.  We will be hard at work to make sure we help all the local workers get some jobs done. Thank you and God Bless you all for all your love and support in our mission.