Thursday, August 28, 2014

Good morning friends of Hands Across the Sea,

I'm writing this morning to ask for your prayers for my amazing mother and the fearless leader of HATS-Haiti.  Karen has been having some health concerns for a few weeks and has decided to come to Canada to have some testing done.  She is in good spirits, is being well taken care of and is optimistic that the doctors will soon find out what's going on.

Karen and the kids

We appreciate your prayers and support also for the mission in Haiti, at this very busy time as we gear up for the new school year.  The running of the mission has been left in the very capable hands of Luckner, our assistant director in Haiti. He has support from our wonderful Haitian staff.


As the new school year approaches, we'd like to also remind our sponsors that sponsorship donations are due now for the 2014/2015 academic year.  If you are a supporter of Hands Across the Sea, your continued generosity is appreciated as we bring hope and healing to children and families in Haiti.   The ice bucket challenge is reminding us all to support the work of charitable organizations doing good work around the world and we thank you in advance for being a part of the work we are doing in Haiti!

Sponsor student


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Our Last Day

Like every other day since we arrived, there was work work work! There's was lots of admin things to do since Karen has been spending her time up on the roof, it's really been backed up! Occasionally when she figured we'd done enough work she would give us 5 mins to lie on the floor and attempt to cool off.

Late afternoon, Eugene cut down coconuts for us. Coconut milk is absolutely amazing and fresh coconut is just as good. Yummy..

Coconuts cut from a tree in our compound

The boys got their hair cut today. Did you know Karen has 16 kids? Apparently they have been around all this time. We knew of one... JJ who occasionally comes up looking for mama, mama.. . Keith Wight, I hear you've met him before too....

It's too bad she didn't tell us she had all those cuties until now! I guess she was worried, we wouldn't work as much if there was fun things to do... Like play with the kiddies! Just kidding, we spent the evening down hanging out with all of them one last time (for this trip). They have been practicing cooking on charcoal. very lucky for us... We've have some delicious French fries, rice and corn. Today they were making corn!

Kids learning to cook. They share the bounty

Corn harvested this morning that ws planted by the older kids

Kids are practicing their cooking skills again today

After some time with the children, we rounded out our last night by listening to the pouring rain which made our last night of sleeping amazing. We even needed to cover up in a sheet!! We also had one last amazing meal by our chef, Germaine, and some pretty good company.

A huge thank you to aunt Karen, who always seems to be doing something with her children and the HATS mission. The only time she takes for herself is long enough to spread some almond butter on a banana that she eats on the run. Thank you so much for all your hard work and unwavering dedication. Thank you for being an inspiration to me and so many others. Thank you for putting up with us for 9 days and not once trying to send us away early. We are praying you'll forget what it's like to have us around so we can come back again soon. We love you and our Haitian family very much. The longer I spend at HATS, the bigger piece of my heart remains. Take care of yourself and our kiddies until we see each other again.

J & J

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sunday Blog

I can't promise this blog will have much humor or excitement... The beach yesterday drained us, we all relaxed last night and slept well but it hadn't rained last night so it has been really humid again today... it drains even more energy. The beach day was a complete blast everyone had a ball as you've seen.. Everyone fell asleep on the way home except poor Ti Luc. He rode with mama in the truck and wasn't allowed to sleep but Jennifer and I supervised the kids on the bus and everyone fell asleep. Well, I did and I hear all the kids did but I can't say. Poor Judel was asleep before we even left the parking lot.

Today was Sunday so of course we went to church! It was another beautiful service with lots of singing, instruments and movement. Karen spoke about us for a few minutes and I prayed it was all nice things but it's hard to know.. the translator forgot we don't speak creole. At least the parts we understood were nice.

Before church

Let's go to church Jocelyn

Time to leave for church

I finally got to meet one of my sponsor children today.. He sat by me in church. At first, he pretended he wasn't stuck next to the blanc and ignored me but eventually he warmed up to m e and we played a little.. I mean, we sat quietly the entire time and sang along with the music.

Jocelyn with her school sponsored boy Berlens

After church we got to pass out a treat to all the children.. cheesies, cookies and a cold pop. Everyone was quite pleased!

Arms full of goodies after church

Enjoying a cold drink and snack after church

After church we all needed a break and Jennifer and I napped in the living room. I completely understand why Haitians like lying on the cement floor. It is the only place to lie that is even remotely cool. It has become my favourite place here. Karen took a photo and claims it is to prove that she doesn't make us work all the time.. We do get some rest, but I want to set the record straight.. She works us nonstop.. We barely have time to breath, we just collapsed. There is only so much one can do, you know! After our rests though, we were put to work again (typical!!!.. As they say, there ain't no rest for the wicked)

Am I really this kind of slave driver.

For anyone who knows Karen.. I want to warn you, she is really aging! She blames it on us but today we had to get her a walker just so that she could make it down to the kids home!!

My walker is a little high and not a lot of help but . .

Moved the the Jolly Jumper down so Magdala can watch and jump

This afternoon we also had a birthday party! Magdala is just turning two and Judel is seven. After our party we spent a little time enjoying the kids and then it will be another early night.. We are too tired for anything! Even Ti Luc couldn't stand up long enough to change his clothes!

Our birthday kids - Magdala and Judel

Wonder how many Judel will grab with that hand

Birthday boy with his godmother.

I can't believe tomorrow is already our last full day at HATS... One more day of hard work and then we quit! (Just kidding, we were told if we stayed any longer, we wouldn't survive the heat... I think it is the polite way of saying "I'll be sick of you by then!!") Good night!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A photo blog of the children's day at the beach.

We are off for a fun day

Slide at kid's pool

Ball games in second Kid's pool

Ti Luc is wondering 'what about me'

Kids having fun. Ti Luc watching wistfully

Papa Luckner helping Judel

This is such fun Mama


Do we really have to leave
J and J


Today is a holiday here so our day started off a little differently. We got to enjoy a walk along the canal with the older children. We left at 7 and just strolled along and stopped to look at scenery, a baby horse, tiny fishes, white birds and whatever else we could see. It was a great way to start our day!

Early morning fun time

Early morning walk

Photo by Leica on our walk

We then came home and got back to work… Guess what we had to do!? If you guessed more material cutting, you are certainly right. Then we did a lot of odd jobs... we prepared the payroll for the end of the month among other things. There isn’t much time to stop around here. Karen wouldn’t even let us have our half hour nap in the afternoon… I guess she thinks we are big and ugly enough that we don’t need it anymore.

Jennifer got to give her godson Judel a present… At first the poor boy was terrified… getting called into mama’s house, he didn’t know what he did wrong this time! He was quite pleased to learn he was getting a present rather than a lecture!

Happy Judel with gift from his godmother

Our Djemima had come first in grade 6 this year after the government exams so she also got presents. She was quite blessed… She got a present from school for being first and also from mama and papa for all her hard work!

While Karen worked in her office today, she had a little helper... She was checking over an email she had written and noticed extra letters kept popping up on the screen. Turns out Magdala was already put to work… helping mama type! We then got baby Magdala out into her jolly jumper, we have been too busy relaxing every day to even think about Magdala needing to go in it!

Karen's new office help

She finally let us go off the compound today… further than the canal. We got to go to Luckner’s store to pick up some cold pop and other things we were running out of here! It was a treat just to be enjoying the air conditioning… We were happy as clams with that; we didn’t need the change of scenery too!!

This afternoon, on our third trip here, Karen FINALLY showed us what her life here is really like. For anyone who visits, she always seems sooo busy and running around non-stop but we all know the difference… She’s busy because she only works when a team is here! Thank you so much for letting us have a taste of reality… It is so nice to see how you really live and to be treated like royalty.

This is how Karen lives all the time and team members when they come

We are too hot. Wave it a little harder please

Tomorrow is going to be a very exciting day here at HATS. The little ones are having a party… Everyone in preschool and under gets presents and cookies! We are putting together a special gift for each child. The older kids and Jennifer and I are really disappointed that we aren’t invited but it turns out Karen has other plans for us… We are getting a beach day! Every year, she tries to take the older children to the beach. It is nice and rare for the older children to get off the compound. There aren’t many places that are safe that you’d want to take them! It is almost like a vacation for these kids. So tonight will be quite busy… We have to call them up and tell them and then make sure everyone has a bathing suit and trunks they can wear! Stay tuned for more! :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Water fights, more material and school registration

Last night, after a long day for Karen and everyone here at the compound, we decided we needed a little fun. We decided to make it a multipurpose event... a cool-off and spending time with the kiddies. We brought enough water squirters  for everyone to use! So we filled them all and Karen, Jocelyn and Jennifer attacked. It was perfect! Everyone had a blast.. especially the younger ones. Sandra and Jonathan had a blast and were so sad when we stopped! I think Magdala had the most fun of all! Every time she got squirted, she giggled and laughed.

Refreshing water squirter play

Water squirter fun with Magdala

Afterwards, the older kids washed the truck and drenched us with the hose... it couldn't have been better! It was a blast to just hang out with the kids (and be cool!!). Most of the kids were drinking out of the hose, I just hope that none of them peed the bed (If they did, no one yelled at us for it). Once we changed, Karen let us sit on her bed and watch tv with the air conditioner on! I'm not sure what we did to deserve it, but boy was it nice! I guess it must have been all that material we cut or the almond butter we brought (I think its all she's eaten since she got it!)... whatever it was, it sure was great. Don't worry folks, we tied her to the bed so she sat and watched the majority of an episode of Law and Order (Thank you Dickie for peaking her interest... She would have fought a lot more if it was a show she didn't like!)

Last night the humidity was awful... The air was so thick, it was almost hard to breath... Especially for Karen. She went to bed with all the windows closed and the fan on low to keep her cool... In the middle of the night, she woke up in a sauna.. She had forgotten to change the power from the delco to batteries. We aren't sure if she was purposely trying to suffocate herself or not... But she is being closely monitored from now on in.

This morning we had to register the HATS children for school. It seems that IMKH has too many students in some classes and Karen was starting to worry that her children wouldn't have a place in the school.. So we marched all 13 that will be in that school next year over and sat them in the office in order from Jonathan and Sandra who will be in preschool one all the way up to JJ who will be in grade 8. We arrived before the director, Luckner (AKA papa) and just hid out in the office and waited. Once he arrived, mama Karen begged him to take her children in the school and to sponsor them because she couldn't afford to pay! We all had quite the laugh! We are still working on getting the two newest students into preschool one but since mama knows the director so well, we think he might be able to squeeze us in!

Mama Karen waiting to register her kids for school before all classes are over filled

Anne giving her info to school director for PS 2

After that, we came home and started on the pay roll for employees. Tomorrow is normally pay day but since tomorrow is a holiday (apparently every second day in Haiti is a holiday) we had to have it done today. We think we did it right, and Karen approved it so sorry to the board if we paid anyone extra.. This Goudes to Haitian dollars business is a little confusing.

J & J fighting for the cool air from airconditioner in offfice

We then got to spend a little time with Ti Luc.. Karen's a slave driver but occasionally she lets us have a little fun.. not often, but sometimes. Don't worry Emma, we haven't forgotten about him since! Jennifer (Or Jocelyn.. the identity crisis is at it's peak so I'm not sure anymore.. The one that isn't me) played games with him on his iPad and then used a speech therapy app to practice his English (Karen got your message Emma.. when you see him, you won't get him to shut up!!).

After that we were allowed to have a nap. Apparently I am really fitting the part. Before I leave, I am gonna be a true Haitian. I haven't worn shoes in the last two days (I'm not even sure I know where they are anymore) and fell asleep twice on the concrete floor.. I claim it was only once but I am told that I may have dozed while Ti Luc and the other one were using the iPad. If only I could go home with the beautiful coloring and skin that never wrinkles.

Then we did some more work.. We put together presents for all the kids at school who scored highest in June. First and second in every grade receive something. We cut a little more material; but never fear, Luckner has bought more so we won't be bored tomorrow.. Another day with no breaks and lots of hard work!! It rained tonight so hopefully we will have it a little cooler and the heat won't zap our energy too much! We spent more time with the kids and water squirters again tonight! It was a blast as always, except it starting raining the same time so some of them were cold and kept asking not to be squirted but still wanted to squirt us.. That was when it was time to finish for the night! It was to the point that even we were almost chilly... There were weird bumps on our arms, I think they are called goose bumps caused by the cold. I'm not positive though, I think I have forgotten the feeling.
We are all exhausted from another busy day!

Yay, cool off time. Playing in the rain

Anne & Karena laying in rain water to cool down

 More from us again soon!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Day 3

Last night we were treated to an amazing thunder and lightning display! It was welcomed after a very hot, humid day and after dancing in the rain for a short time, we went to bed after a long night.

For those of you who follow the blog regularly, you know that Vladimy has been in the hospital in Port Au Prince a couple times over the last year. Over the past few days many staff, Karen and even Jocelyn and I have been noticing his behavior change a little every day since our arrival. Last night, the difficult decision was made to bring him back to the hospital today so he can receive the necessary care, for his safety and that of others at HATS. Please pray for him during this difficult time and pray for strength for Karen as she deals with the added stress.  This is very difficult for her.  On a more positive note, Karen has made the trip safely and is back here at HATS with us. Vladimy is in the best place for him for the time being.


While Karen was away today Jocelyn and I have been enjoying some time with the kids. Don't worry she made sure she left a 'To Do' list for us! We're getting smarter though and got help  from JJ, Moise, Leica, and Djemima so we would have time to play afterwards. The kids were a great help, if only I could say the same about Jocelyn. I'm sure she spent more time chasing and wrestling with kids than she did cutting or folding material! Good help can be hard to find!

Sandra & Jonathan keeping Jocelyn from working. Yeah right.

Jonathan is growing up

Jonathan with Jennifer

Our monkey doodle with Jennifer or Jocelyn. Not sure which any more

We took time to play with the kids today in the devo room. They were playing school with Leica and Djemima as teachers. JJ was the director and Moise the assistant director. The rest of the children changed into their old school uniforms and participated in class. The room was setup with a chalkboard in the middle to separate it into two classes.  The kids answered questions when they were asked. The teachers were strict, the students all sat quietly because otherwise they were yelled at! It was too cute!

Director JJ, Asst Moise, teachers Leica & Djemima

This afternoon, we sorted donations and watched tv with Ti Luc while the rest of the kids watched a movie. Karen's room has air conditioning (possibility to run it for a couple of hours if/when generator is running) and for a short while we were not too hot. While the air conditioning was amazing we are now dying with the heat again. We are now melting into puddles while we await to see what is for supper and what our evening has in store!

Blog Numero 2!

Our first day here was quite busy! It started off with an amazing breakfast. (My mouth has been in food heaven for two days... I think I am taking Germaine home with me.) She made Haitian oatmeal with mangoes and honey dew. For anyone who doesn't know... I'm convinced Haiti has the best mangoes in the world. They aren't worth buying in Canada.. there is no comparison at all.

Ti Luc had started the morning being super charming... Aunt Karen had come in and said "Oh! I love seeing two beautiful young ladies in my kitchen!" and Ti Luc pipes up and says "No, 4! ... Jennifer, Jocelyn, Mama and Germaine!"

 Jocelyn has been doing physiotherapy with Ti Luc... He is gaining so much control over his arms... It is incredible. There is such a huge difference in him from when we were here about two and a half years ago. His determination is quite something. By physiotherapy, I mean play fighting... It helps him to try to control the movement of his arms. He has quite the strong hit. I might be black and blue by the time I arrive home.

After breakfast, we went to the school yard so we could see the progress on the church. It is coming along great! It will be amazing when it is finally finished. They only have one corner of the walls to finish which is being worked on right now. Then more money is needed to finish the floor and the church will be ready to paint! It won't be long until that is full of singing and praise!

The inside of the church is coming along nicely

The church is badly needed... for the school too. Luckner was doing parent-teacher meetings with everyone jammed into two classrooms and then more are piled around the doors.

Parents in a meeting with Luckner about the coming school year

Luckner had the office FULL and they were pushing to get in from outside

When we left the school, we came back to the compound and were put to work... We started to cut material which will be distributed to the students so they can have their uniforms made. We cut and we cut and we cut. then we folded and folded and folded and then we bagged and bagged and bagged. Finally it was lunch time which means a quick break! We had yummy tuna melts.. Did I mention I'm taking Germaine home? (Sorry to future teams.) After lunch the work continued until we were able to take a break from working to take a quick nap. Its amazing how the heat can drain you of your energy. (According to Karen, yesterday was "cool" for a summer day.. not too hot at all ... Yeah, right!)

Then we continued to work until it was time to take a walk with the children along the canal... It was nice to take our time and stroll along, stopping to let the older ones climb trees and the younger ones throw rocks in the canal.

Our canal walk with the kids

Two precious children

Jennifer's godson

Tree climbers

Accident of stroller with Magdala. Sandra decided she could push her

Jennifer picked this one up on our walk. Thought he was cute and kept him

After our walk it was supper time and then back to the cutting of fabric. This time the older children (Vladimy, JJ, Moise, Leica and Djemima) helped us and the process was a lot quicker... Although, I'm not exactly convinced that the boys have been taught how to fold.... After this it was rather late and we were far too tired to do any blogging.  It didn't rain last night and us Northerners are sure suffering for it today...

Fabric for J & J to cut up

Cutting and packaging uniform fabric

Just an important note for anyone who knows anything about Karen Huxter... she RELAXED today. She sat and ate THREE meals.. and even sat after to chat. I'm not sure where she found out how to do it, but she finally is taking a little time to slow down. She even rested in the afternoon. It truly is a miracle!

Day Two

This morning we had Magdala in her jolly jumper. She was terrified and cried most of the time but she will get used to it! She did jump a little but was too tired, she needed to be put down for her nap. When she woke up she was alone in the room and started to cry.. I went in and she was willing to come with me.. She still cried because shes terrified of my paleness but it is progress! The goal before we leave is for her to not be afraid of us!

Mama Karen's fearful little girl

By 9 am, it was already quite hot and we realized we were in for a rough day. We thought that since it was hot, we could get to go to the beach and relax with the pina coladas flowing.. but Karen insisted we continue working. All work and no play it is around here. We cut more material again this morning and then went to the school for the better part of the day helping to distribute it. We distributed around 200 lots of material. Oh me nerves, what a crowd! People were pushing and shoving to get into the office (The Haitian way) and lined up outside for hours waiting to get the material for their children's uniforms and some were still hoping to register their children for school.. Poor Luckner is awfully exhausted by now. It's been quite a long day for him.

Last night with the older children, Aunt Karen was trying to confuse them so she told them Jennifer was Jocelyn and Jocelyn was Jennifer. We are currently having an identity crisis. We are mixed up enough as it is.. Now I wouldn't be able to tell you what my name is. All day we have been called Jennifer and Jocelyn and I think we are soon changing our names so they are the same and we won't have to worry about it anymore.

We left the school at 3 and came home to have a little rest and attempt to cool down.. By that I mean I showered and felt 'cool' for the whole ten minutes I showered. Karen has finally arrived home from school and informed us we need to cut more school uniforms tonight. We are leaving to walk to Port in the morning.. We quit!!!

It has been another busy day.. we haven't gotten to spend much time doing things with the children yet but we know it's coming..  We have some plans in store! :) Please pray that it rains tonight!!!

On another note, Emma, Ti Luc is in desperate need of his second momma! He was allowed to watch tv while the other kids watched a video as the generator was running.  He was there a long time and was tired so he climbed onto Karen's bed and fell asleep because we had all forgotten about him.. Karen, Jennifer and Jocelyn were all busy at the school, and  Germaine and Roselynn were busy working..  They thought he was down with the other children. He thought he was just resting while the other children watched a video.. actually he was there an extra hour as everyone forgot to tell him the poor video was over and so he slept. On the bright side, one of the other kids came to tell him supper is ready so we know no one is forgetting to feed him!! Don't worry Emma, we promise to take better care of him from here on in!

J & J