Sunday, May 29, 2011

Blog for May 29, 2011 (Mother’s Day and Karen’s 66th birthday)

A wonderful day after Saturday Night Shenanigans. We’ll keep it brief about last evening, but suffice to say there were drums, some yelling and a lot of laughter up on the sleeping deck. Revenge was on the minds of several team members this morning as others wandered around trying to look innocent.

Newfie music time

So began our last day. It was a time of worship at church with our mission children, and others from the community. There were around 74 people at the service, including the 13 team members. What a joy to see the growth in that small church, and all the young, fresh faces playing tambourines and singing.

Children's church

Team in church

We were also treated to the children singing Mother’s Day songs, along with Happy Birthday for Karen. It’s amazing how fast a two-hour service can fly by.

Fabian providing music

Dieunel & Ti Luc at service

Special praise for the men on the team who made lunch today. Tuna melts (nothing like what Martha makes, but still.... Many exclaimed: “Best ever!” Oh, never mind....that was the cooks.)

Ti Luc and many team members also rode Haitian style in the back of Karen’s little white pickup truck this afternoon on a five-minute, wild ride to Luckner’s place. She claims to be a great driver. Others may question that – especially the ones who were riding out back.

Luckner is recovering from a fever so Karen showed us around the trade school and radio station that he is building for his community.

Many team members thought is was merely a funny joke when it was suggested there would be an extra passenger on the ride home. You guessed it: one of the prodigal goats. So there we were, crammed into the bed of the truck, goat and all hoping it wouldn’t aim in our direction if it had to go. Again, lots of laughing – for us, and the curious local Haitians who openly stared or waved as we passed.

Returning from Luckner's with the missing goat from Sat

Team and one goat - the two old goats sitting inside

Last days are bittersweet as we enjoy the last of our time with Karen, her children and each other as we prepare to leave early tomorrow morning. Tonight we’ll celebrate Karen’s birthday (again!) and savour the last Haitian supper that Martha kindly spent the afternoon preparing for us.

Happy Birthday & Happy Mother's Day Maman

Happy Mother's Day & Happy Birthday

The Last Working Day

It really goes so fast: it seems as if we just arrived and were planning what we would do here at HATS-Haiti and, just like that, our last working day is done.

Just a week ago many of us had never met one another and were seeing Haiti for the first time. Seven days later, we're a tight-knit team that has worked hard, shared a lot of laughs and tears, songs, prayers, and spent so much wonderful time together and with the children here. People often leave here feeling closer to God and longing to continue making a difference in the world around them. The children have given us so much that we wish to return.

We started the day finishing painting projects, cleaning up different work sites, organizing supplies and donations for the local hospital, and cleaning the boys' bath house. It has been a fulfilling week and we can see the fruits of our labour in the visual changes that continue here.

Gerry and Bob went on a mission of a different kind with Karen: our first livestock pick-up and delivery in Haiti. It was an adventure that we like to call The Great Goat Chase. We went to Luckner's house, where there were supposed to be six goats waiting for us. Instead, we wound up waiting. And waiting. Eventually, the young boy in charge of the goats arrived with four at his heels. Apparently two had made their escape. He tied up the other four, and ran back to look for the prodigal two. As it happened, he doesn't tie a great knot. Off went two more goats, tied together as they sped off to another man's property with Bob and Gerry pounding the earth in hot pursuit. The only way we got them back was because the running goats each tried to go in a different direction, knocking each other off balance. The young boy arrived back with one of the other goats. We're still waiting for word on the sixth.

See if blan yo can do a better job of tying goats

children visiting the goats

Two old goats with 5 young ones

Bob and Linda gave two of the goats to each of their sponsored children's families, and the other four will be gifts for the house mothers to take home for their families.

Bob & Linda's student receiving a goat

Bob & Linda giving their student a goat

After another hot day of work, it was time to relax a bit with the children. The little girls started braiding some of the women's hair and before long a makeshift salon had sprung up on the porch. Several of our team are now sporting corn row braids.

the hair salon

While all of this was going on, the boys decided it was time for a major soccer game. There was lots of yelling, cheering and screaming going on. We're not sure if there were any goals. But we did notice that one goal-tending Cory was crying a lot in net for one side, while the other Cory's lip seemed to quiver at times.....

Tonight we had a special event to honour our house mothers, and we'd like to say at this time that they have done an extraordinary job in the last year helping to raise these beautiful children and make a loving home for them here. They were honoured with a gift package, many hugs and kisses and something that every mother wishes for: a goat to call their own. In all seriousness, goats change lives here. They are a source of money, milk and food.

Two surprised and thankful housemothers

Baby Sandra smiling for her mama

Jennifer and Jocelyn - our Deer Lake Nfld girls

Linda with Ti Luc

Wanted Dead or Alive

Tomorrow we'll have church service and some time to relax and pack as we prepare for a very early departure Monday morning. Good night for now, dear family and friends.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Guess what we did today?

Dear family and friends,


Ugly to beautiful

But first, we spent a very special hour at the school for a Mothers Day celebration. The children sang songs devoted to their moms, there were poems, plus great excitement when the special gift for each mother was given to each child. Little baskets which the teachers and the ladies on our team had made up the day before contained biscuits and lollipops. Because it was a special day, school was let out early and the children left with the gifts which they carefully held and carried. Some of us also toured the mission house where Jessie and Seth are living. They shared with us how they've made this spacious, bright home their own for their year-long stay.

Mother's Day Devotions

Singing for mothers

Karen with gifts from her children from school

And now, a word about insects....
Haiti has them in abundance and they are often of unusual size. Some members of our team are especially hoping they don't see a full grown tarantula during their week here. However, the painters at the back of the house yelled today so that a young but rather large spider of the tarantula family could be photographed against a white wall. Eeek.

It also seems that we have a budding Newfoundlander in our midst, Ti Luc. Dora was playing some good old Newfoundland tunes today, including "I's the B'y" and some Great Big Sea when Ti Luc started to dance. He obviously has wonderful taste in music.

This was also a day of childhood revisited as the team was treated to a glorious downpour that brought our first relief from the 40 degree-plus heat. As the skies opened, we skipped with the children, had water fights, and generally soaked each other. What a time. And, oh yes....the house is nearly painted. It looks wonderful. Tomorrow is our last working day. We will finish the last of the painting and some other jobs during that time.

House almost finished

More news and photos to follow.

From your friends here in Deschappelles,
We wish you a good night.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Rainy Day

Dear family and friends,

Every morning while we're here we try to do a time of devotion with staff members and the children. We usually sing songs in English and Creole, read scripture and spend some time wishing each other well before another busy day of work and projects in the searing heat. But today, a gentle rain inspired us to stay a bit longer to share our thoughts and prayers with each other, Canadians and Haitians alike. It became very emotional. People spoke from their hearts. They talked of the poverty they've seen here, the dignity of the people of Haiti and their love for each other and for God. Visits to this very special place have a way of unlocking true expressions of what we really feel. It is a blessing when that happens.

Ti Luc and Ti Fi in morning devotions

Jason with Sandra after devotions

We also spent some time praying for the sick and lame, with laying on of hands, including for a Haitian staff member who is coping with an illness. The ladies spent much time today making gift bags for the school children to take home for Mothers Day, which in Haiti will be celebrated this Sunday, Karen's birthday. What a wonderful coincidence.

ladies wrapping little gifts for students to give their mothers on Sunday

Working on gifts for students to give mothers

Teachers making little baskets for students' mothers

There were a number of plumbing issues to tackle, and two of our team repaired seven badly leaking toilets in the girls' and boys' houses. Other team members took down a cement stairway which is no longer needed. We've had the most excellent meals since we've been here. Haitian dishes of savoury rice, beans, chicken with a tomato-based gravy with onion and garlic, and also home-made sourdough bread tonight with beef stroganoff, courtesy of Seth and Jessie. We had an enormous amount of spaghetti last night...thank you Jason, it was delicious. We finished the pasta tonight. Our chocolate chip cookies didn't set tonight in this incredible humidity, but were delicious just the same.

Painting continues - slowed by rain today.

Play time with the children included singing with Fabian -- "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine" -- and teaching the girls and boys how to skip two at a time with brand new skipping ropes. They loved it! Tomorrow night, double dutch.

Baby Sandra

Jofky with candy and zandolite

Ti Luc and Dora

Jason just came in and stated that today he and Seth cleaned the gutters, so all is now ready for the first big snowfall of the season. Tomorrow we plan to visit the school for an hour for a special Mothers Day event. More on this later.
Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Several Small Jobs

Hello everyone,

We had a very productive day here at HATS-Haiti. The men working on the roof weren't able to get a jack hammer, so that project is being adjusted. We're thinking of tambourines and a few turns around the pillars in hopes that they'll just fall down. It worked for Joshua at Jericho...

Work upstairs finished for now

Roof cleanup

Last night we relaxed with a little ceremony to make Jessie and Seth, the wonderful couple who are here on a year-long mission from Illinois, honorary Canadians for the length of our week-long stay. We sang a version of O Canada, had them kiss a Tim Hortons cup, required them to say "eh" after each sentence, and taught them to say: "Habs good, Leafs bad."
That's for you, Pernell.

We worked on several small jobs today: installing a basketball hoop, and opening up the downstairs bathroom to shorten the shower and make it more accessible for Ti Luc. Karen is especially excited about this project. We visited the school this morning to hear the children sing, say their devotionals and raise the Haitian flag.

More room for Ti Luc in the bathroom

Yesterday the women may have made more obvious progress, and maybe made a few jokes about work ethic, BUT today they spent some of their day repainting a bit of the trim they did yesterday. God is good. (Always remember to scrape off dust bumps, ladies.)

Ladies painting project

Speaking of painting, Seth now has one grey eye and one turquoise eye. We're not sure if it's permanent. That's a little reference to the pleasing shade of blue-green that we're painting the house here.

Grey eye and turquoise eye Seth

We also celebrated Amanda's 22nd birthday last night with a bit of cake, song and some photos. Thank you Fabian for providing the music.

Amanda's Birthday

Birthday girl

We ended our work day today with a walk along the irrigation canal that runs through gorgeous countryside outside the orphanage. We saw some interesting sights along the route: lots of local people, cows and horses (including two newborn colts).

Jennifer, Jocelyn & kids enjoying the walk

Comfortable Sandra on our walk

Walk time

We'll update you tomorrow with more on our adventures and photos.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The team arrived on Monday

Dear friends of HATS-Haiti,
The team arrived on Mon. May 23 and it was a smooth landing compared to the usual experience at the airport in Port-au-Prince. Karen jumped up and down from the other side of the customs barrier to greet us. We made the drive safely to the orphanage where a line of smiling children stood in the rain to greet us. What an unforgettable welcome.

We awoke early on our first day, Tuesday, at 4:30 a.m., after a hot night in tents with roosters crowing, dogs barking and truck horns blaring before first light. We began work after an excellent breakfast prepared by the wonderful Haitian staff here at the orphanage -- eggs with onion, garlic and butter.

Before school time this morning

Out to start our day early, painting the main residence white and a shade of turquoise called "Tempting Teal." The strongest members of our team spent their day on the roof swinging mauls at concrete pillars that have to come down off the roof. They realized after a full day achieved a very small opening in the reinforced concrete that they will need a jack hammer and air compressor. Off to St. Mark's to look for those tools tomorrow. The women made more visible progress with the painting today, but are less sun burned and heat fatigued.

Doing a little job at Luckner's place

Today we also are celebrating the 22nd birthday of Amanda Muise, who is on her second trip here and deeply in love with the children, although she misses her Mike. For the first-time visitor to this wonderful place, the warmth of the children, Karen's family, makes such a strong a lasting impression. Their laughter, their openness, the really have to experience it first-hand.

Painting was started this morning

The other big impression is the heat. It is hot, hot, hot here compared to Canada and the humidity is intense. But we're pacing ourselves and have the fans on in the evening. We will update you soon with more photos, and we are truly thankful and blessed for this experience.

Note from Karen. I feel I must include a photo taken before bed last night. One of the first timers, who is a small man, arrived with size XL underwear. Dora quickly to the rescue - with something more his size which he had to model. A good start to a good week.

 First night's entertainment

Update from Team

Just a little note to let our family and friends know that Gerry and the team made it safely to HATS-Haiti. We had a wonderful greeting from Karen and her beautiful children. We are happy but tired, so a more detailed update with photos will follow soon.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Double celebration at our HATS-Haiti school.

Yesterday school functioned differently and teachers and students all had a great time. Yesterday, May 17th, was a day for our teachers - Teacher Appreciation Day. Today, May 18th, school is closed as today is a national holiday - Flag Day. Yesterday, we had a double celebration - for our teachers and for our flag. On Monday all students at the school made a small flag with their red and blue colours. Also many other flags were made and hung all over the the school yard.

Flag Day - assembly

The school events started at 4:30 a.m. for me as eight students arrived at my house 4:45 to go to the school and start preparing a meal for teachers, visitors, and students. We started our school day with our regular devotion period which was followed by an assembly of all students about the Haitian flag, what the colours meant and how it came into being. Met Luckner, the director of our school, and Met Weschnel, the superintendent of schools in this area, both shared with the students. This was followed by students waving their flags while singing. A band had been hired to provide marching music both on our school compound and to accompany our students on a short march outside on the street. It was beautiful seeing all our students, in their three different colour uniforms, including our littlest students in prescolaire 1, 2 and 3, marching on the street, with their flags . Ti Luckner walked with the other school students although it was really too far for him, especially in the heat. He was extremely tired but still loved the whole thing. The marching students returned to the school yard and continued to to march around the compound both front and back sections while the band continued to play for them.

Lining up prescolaire students to take to the street

Ti Luc tired and hot but still marching

While other students marched and sang, the group of eight students worked diligently preparing the meal. Luckner ended up spending quite a lot of time in the kitchen, albeit all dressed up, helping with meal preparation and serving. The teachers were able to relax yesterday, to sit, chat, and be served.

Luckner checking on the meal being prepared by students

All dressed up and in the kitchen helping students

The day was a huge success and good for all the students and teachers. As well as taking photos to share with you I endeavoured to do a couple of video clips. I apologize for the shaking in the video I am attaching. I had several students trying to touch my camera and a very tired Ti Luc holding unto his mama. I hope, however, you can open it up full size and feel like you were there with us yesterday. Wish you could have been!!

Marching to band and singing national anthem

Ti Luc & Poppa at Flag Day celebration at school.



Thank you to all our supporters. Without you the school would not be functioning and a lot of students would not be attending school. Thank you to all HATS student sponsors. At this time we are not in need of more sponsors for our school. We, however, have teacher salaries to be paid twelve months of the year and we seek sponsors for that. Within the next week a photo of our teachers and of our other employees will be posted on our website.

"Remember one child's life being changed is more important than all the material things the world has to offer."


God bless you all.
Karen and children, at the orphanage and at the school.