Thursday, April 30, 2015

BoB here. AKA BOB THE BUILDER

Here we are again. For as many times as I have been here this place still fascinates me.

Starting with the drive here, with 5 newcomers. The look on their faces from the stories we had told them, to the realizing look. The omg look - this is real. You never know what you are going to experience, but as it unfolds its all good.

You can come here, in my case 13 times, and every trip is different .The people we bring, the jobs we do, and the children and their families we help.

I'm writing this on our last day as I look at our team like all teams we bring here.

I'm seeing changed lives, new interests  and also new friendships like no other.  Anyone who goes on these missions cannot, not be changed . As it stands we have 5 new children sponsored  through this group. Is that not worth the trip right there? This team has bonded with the Haitians very well.  Last night we were on radio Creole. I think we did ok no one said there was any lineup  of people to escort us out of Haiti. So I think it was ok.

We started on the Church but the heat got to me early - its normally two or three days in but I listened to my body and I stopped, lesson learned before.  I'm ok now, well as ok as I can be !!  We are painting windows first then if we have to wipe latex paint off  of oil paint its easier.

Now we deal with people everyday  and I have yet to hear any complaints from anyone.

About  the government owing someone a living,  people here learn that a living is earned.  In plain words you work you eat, you don’t you starve. I seem to compare Canadian living with Haitian  living.  I see more and more selfish people in our society then I have ever seen before.   Some people think the world owes them a living.  My only hope is that  some come here some day for a reality check, it would make them appreciate what we have,  and waste.

Our new people are to my knowledge getting that very thing. The understanding of the Haitian lifestyle.

Once you have been here you learn to LOVE and RESPECT  the Haitian people and what they  have to do to survive on a daily base. Understanding the different rules and way of life for these people sometimes did not make sense to me.  The more I come and see It, it makes logical sense - it is survival .

  AS FOR KAREN

 To dedicate 20 years of your life to Haiti being from Canada is amazing. How much hardship  and tears can one person handle?  The only way is total dedication to God, and total trust. In my opinion I don't know too  many people who have that much trust . If I could have half the trust this lady has I would consider myself good with God. Karen put all her eggs in one basket, but she found the right basket.  A lot of people go through life never knowing what it is all about.  We should only hope to find that basket, this lady is a true Christian.  So my HATS off to you for seeing outside the box and believing in our Lord and Savior and in what he has called you for.   GOD bless.     Bob


 Brian here:
What a great day to be here in Haiti ! Today we celebrate Karen's 20th anniversary here in Haiti ! Thank you  Karen for all you do and for letting us all play a small part in what you do here!  They asked “the veterans” to write the blog for our last day and (I guess that means Bob and I are old) and as a veteran I can tell you this has to be the hottest I have ever seen it here!  It’s pretty much a given that it will be 40 degrees + and high humidity most every day ….thankfully it goes down to a chilly 25 degrees some nights ! lol.

Temperature

 Today started like most with everyone up early (5:30 ) and downstairs for coffee and breakfast ….which by the time we get downstairs is already being prepared by the lovely Germaine, and it doesn’t matter how early you get down there she’s there working!

Germaine

                   As the blog writer we only get a few short minutes to put down our thoughts for our time here and there is just too much to say to be able to get it all out ! We have all seen and experienced so much that finding “right “  words to get our points across is just about impossible …..until you’ve been here to see it for yourself you’ll never fully be able to understand .  You need to come here ! We work hard and bring as much stuff with us as we possibly can but it’s the most rewarding experience you could ever ask for.

There is a new three burner propane stove for the kitchen at the school, which they hope to have in place and hooked up, etc for next September.

Stove

Tools

                   One of my most favorite things every time I come to Haiti is to be able to watch the 1st timers try and take it all in.  Their eyes are wide open and their jaws hang down in absolute amazement of what is going on around them. It is literally sensory overload and no matter how much we try and prepare them for what they about to see I still end up hearing a lot of statements like “This is Unbelievable “ or “No way” and “I can’t believe it.”

                  Before the kids head off to school we always have a prayer time with them, well actually it’s a few of the kids praying for us and you have never heard anything until you’ve heard little Jonathan praying his little heart out for us ....I do believe he could be the next Billy Graham , the boy can pray !

Jonathan

As Bob said we were on Radio Creole last night and I think we will have a hard time topping that ! What a great night, we sang praises as a group, most of us got to speak and Pastor Jason delivered a great message all translated by Luckner . Keith told us after we were done that the minute we started singing the phone lines lit up and they were calling in to see if we would sing some more !

I’ve been here a few times now and as most of you know, my very first trip to HATS Haiti was back in January of  2010 when this country was hit by a devastating earthquake so for me it’s amazing to come back all these times and to watch the changes and the improvements. I remember telling people when I got back after the earthquake that it would take a decade for Haiti to recover from this and although there is still a lot of work to be done you can see the great strides that are being made.

Just as a little background, after the earthquake hit one of the children here at the orphanage was very ill (diabetes ) so she was taken to the hospital but with the tremendous amounts of casualties that they had to deal with they put her off to the side and as it works here in Haiti a family member has to look after a patients’ needs (you even have to hold up the IV bottle ). The doctors and nurses have too much to do so as a HATS family member I took my turn looking after Serlande and I saw some of the most horrible things I’ve ever witnessed as results of the earthquake (images that I’m sure will never leave my mind) , injured people lined both sides of every hallway and every room was full, pretty much a war scene.                                                                                                                                    
This week Karen graciously took myself, Dr. Laurie and Jocelyn to go see the inside of the hospital, so five years later I finally got to return to the hospital and walk down the very hallway I was in where I witnessed everything. I fully expected to see a clean, sterile environment that was “put back together “ since the earthquake ….what we saw were just about the same conditions that I was in five years earlier, and not the horrific injures but certainly more than enough sick people to fill the halls) and if you are one of the lucky ones to actually be in the hallway then it’s because you have already gone through the long wait, sometimes a couple of days, it takes to wait to get seen by someone!  Imagine sitting in outpatients and you have to wait days (not hours ) just to get your very basic medical needs met  ….that’s life here in Haiti.  As heartbreaking as it was to see I think I needed to see it again and get some sort of closure and while it wasn’t what I was expecting it to be ……nothing ever is here in Haiti .

Next time any of you are at our local hospital ….don’t be afraid to stop and say hi if I’m there …..I’ll be the one smiling  inside and outside at how wonderful our health care system is and by how truly blessed we as North Americans really are.

Hospital

Brian deux                

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wednesday, April 29 2015

Will (with a little help from his friends)

Today started with something we hadn'’t experienced yet in Haiti— - 25 degree weather!  For most on the compound, it might as well been winter but to a hearty few it was the best morning ever, …even if Karen burnt the baked oatmeal!

After breakfast, we headed over to staff devotions and in the words of Will, “this is awesome and it is great how the people here can make a great beat with their hands.  And they sing better than us too!”

Once they were done it was off to work and it was great to be working in such cool weather …for about an hour till the heat caught up with the day.  The team tackled the front of the church and we are happy to report that the front is DONE!! 

The church front is complete

We were lucky enough to take our break at the same time the kids at the school had recess (you would think we planned it that way) and it was so neat to see these kids be happy with so little.  A game of soccer broke out using nothing but an empty pop bottle!  It really makes us realize what happiness really is.

Recess crowd

Of course when you put a bunch of “blancs” in a group of touchy-feely kids, you get touched.  It was nothing to see each of the team having their hands held and being led around the school yard.  It is also amazing to see these well-dressed kids running (and I mean running) around in the heat and not even break a sweat!  I even got welcomed into a group of kids playing and everything was going great until I got knocked over.  But all was good because they were super quick to get me back on my feet.

After a well deserved break at lunch, we all decided to have a rest and it wasn'’t long before it was really quiet.

Nap time or lunch time?

Joan and Karen had a wonderful to-do list to get ready for the party on Thursday and it just so happened that we had a group of willing people here to get things done.

Cleaning the bathroom

Back to basics

Scrubbing away on the school walls

Washing coolers in the heater

I got to help the kids here wash down the folding chairs.  Sorry there were no pictures because we couldn'’t trust having cameras around a bunch of kids with a hose in the Haitian heat.  There was too high of a chance of a second round of the water fight from last night.

Always time for the kids

As we write this, the team is practicing their singing and Jason is getting a message ready for our appearance on the radio at Luckner'’s tonight.  We have a good mix of new songs and a couple of hymns.  It should be a blast.

Prepping our singing voices for our radio premier

As I have been here, I have really realized how fortunate we Canadians are and how we take simple things for granted.  We complain about things that really aren'’t that important and I know that when I get back, I won’t be taking anything for granted.  We are all one people and we can'’t judge anyone no matter what.

-Will

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

By Jocelyn

This morning we started out with a delicious breakfast of boiled eggs, fresh fruit, and toasted buns. We prayed with the younger children before sending them off to school, with little Jonathan, Sandra and Karena leading us in prayer. There is something so sweet about seeing a 3 year old pray!! We headed over to the church building to see the children’s devotion before they began classes. The Haitians are so joyful when they sing; lots of clapping hands and smiling faces.

School Devotions

School

Of course it was a little harder for them to concentrate this morning as they had a bunch of visitors to watch. We got to work on the church; the Crackerjack Karen is looking beautiful!! When the kids came out for recess, we got to visit with them and play with them. They were so amazed to see blanc people, touching our faces and hair, giggling and holding our hands.

Inside a Haitian classroom (Preschool room)

Meeting the kids at recess

Meeting the kids at recess

Meeting the kids at recess

Meeting the kids at recess

When the bell rang for them to go back to class, we had to disappear quickly or they wouldn’t go back to class.

We went to the building on the school compound where they make lunch for all the students. All the rice is cooked over a charcoal fire every day no matter what the temperature!

Charcoal fires in school cafeteria

Rice plates on table for the student’s lunch

Kids with rice plates

Completed some more work on the church before lunch then went home to the compound to have some delicious Pumpkin & Chicken Soup. You wouldn’t think eating hot soup in 36 degree weather would be very appetizing but it was amazing! Marissa and I have found the joy of frozen towels, best thing ever!!! We have relief for a whole 3 minutes!

Marissa and I with frozen towels

This afternoon Karen took Laurie, Brian and I to the hospital. We got in as being introduced as Doctor Laurie, Doctor Brian, and Nurse Jocelyn. The conditions and standards are very different from Canadian hospitals. I was shocked by many of the things that they did and how the people staying there had to fight to survive. So many heart breaking things that I witnessed, I will remember forever. We have no idea from a Canadian view what it is like to go without proper medical care, clean and sterile supplies, or even a hospital bed. This experience is probably the part that will stick with me the most, it was defiantly the most heart breaking and it hit home hard as I work in the healthcare field and know what good healthcare looks like. To see those people in there and in the conditions they had to stay in was very sad and made me unbelievingly thankful for what I have back home. I felt guilty as I walked through the different wards of the hospital and thought back to working back home where I would complain about petty things such as the heat, or not having a meal served on time. There was so much to take in, there is no way you can describe to someone who has never witnessed something like that and know that they would have an accurate picture. In spite of the conditions here, I think everyone should witness some sort of poverty to remind them that they have a lot to be thankful for, more than we realize. Things we wouldn’t look at twice, these people cherish and long for. I will not come back from this trip unchanged; there isn’t any way not to be changed in some way.

After our visit at the hospital, we made a quick stop at the pharmacy to get antibiotics and coffee. Sitting in the air-conditioned truck was a nice change from the 39 degree weather!

We got back to the compound and everyone has been busy playing with kids, putting supplies away from the suitcases we brought, giving new clothes to the kids, and getting ready for the big party on Thursday. What a celebration it will be!

kids trying on new clothes

Unpacking suitcases

What a wonderful time we’re having down here in Haiti. Despite the incredibly hot weather, I am having an amazing time. I am so in love with these kids; I don’t know how I’m going to say good bye on Friday. God has opened my eyes so much while I have been down here. The immense poverty down here is devastating but there is so much potential. These people may only eat one meal a day or only have one set of decent clothes, but they are such hard workers. As soon as the sun comes up, they’re working out in the fields, and then working under the hot sun most of the day. Many don’t go home to their families until dark. They don’t sit around and complain about what they don’t have, they just keep living life as best as they can. The scenery is absolutely breath-taking. I love waking up and looking out at the mountains or picking fresh mangoes right off the trees. I’m completely in love with this place; I cannot wait to come back.

Monday, April 27, 2015

By Krista

Day four of our project here at the Hats mission. Today we met the children for morning devotions before they went off to school. We all stood in a circle holding hands while several of the little ones prayed.

I was able to go over to the school to see hundreds of the children file in to the chapel for their morning devotions. I am amazed at the way they make music with their hands you would think there was a band playing with each one clapping and making different sounds.  Everything they do here in Haiti is with much expression and enthusiasm!  We then went outside for the raising of the flag. All the children in their green and white uniforms showing respect for their country was so nice to see.  I love the way the girls all have their hair decorated in ribbons, barrettes, and baubles…they go all out!

Bob with kids

Flag picture

A lot of progress was made on our painting project today.  I am really enjoying working with our amazing team! Everyone is really working well together and the laughing and joking makes the heat more bearable. With it being 41 degrees today we decided to create our own “beach in a bag”.

Us with the water bags

We were excited to finally start rolling on the paint color today on the outside walls. When we cleaned our brushes all the colors mixed together made “Jaunty Joan” (this is for you Sandra wink wink).

Picture of bucket - Jeanty Joan

 I am really enjoying my experience here in Haiti. I have learned so much about the difference between a need and a want. It is causing me to reflect on my own attitude and making me so grateful for the things we have daily that we take for granted like ample supply of clean water and food as well as air conditioning!  Many of the things that I have considered a need in my life I now realize are only a want. I am also learning about kindness and love. The Haitian children are so free to show love with their hugs and hand holding and caring for each other.  The way the older children protect and care for the younger ones and the way they all work together and participate in chores, playing, and every day living is truly an inspiration. It speaks to me of the true meaning of family!  I am so happy to be here with this team …not only to serve but to learn some real life lessons! This experience is truly life changing.  One person can"t change the world but by showing Gods love and being kind we can all make a difference to someone!

Picture of Marissa with kids

To end our day we had a mango eating contest with all the kids. There is a huge mango tree here on the property with the most mangos I’ve ever seen! It was my first time to eat a mango right off the tree and to my surprise it was really good! There was a lot of laughs to see all of our yellow mustaches. What a way to end a day!

Picture of tree

Kids

Mango eating


Sunday, April 26, 2015

By Marissa

Today was adventure day! We stared with some delicious pancakes made by the lovely Germaine, and then we got all dressed up for church. All the kids joined us in the living room, they all looked so cute I thought I was going to die.

Beautiful Sandra ready for church

Jocelyn with two handome boys, Judel and Jofky

Before church

We all headed over to church together, and the service was incredible. I’ll tell ya Hatians know how to praise Jesus. There were 115 of us together this morning. They all had the drums and tambourines out and were clapping and singing. Although we had no clue what they were saying/singing it didn’t seem to bother any of us, we were just happy to be here and see all the children worshipping. Jason spoke at church this morning. He used a balloon as an example to show how when the balloon has no air in it, it does not perform its purpose, and when filled with air it changes to do what it was meant to do. Just like how without Jesus we do not fulfill our purpose in life. But when Jesus enters into our lives we are filled with love, kindness and grace that we are meant for. Being here in Haiti for just a few days I’m already seeing myself, along with my teammates, being so filled up by God. Everyone on this team is here for a special purpose.

First group to sing this morning

Nap time in church for Magdala

Needed a nap too

Too precious for words

Receiving a needed cold drink after church

We had quite the time this afternoon. Twenty six people piled into one truck, to go buy some pop at Papa Luckner's. It was so much fun seeing all the smiles and giggles on the children’s faces. They were all so happy to receive their pop/juice. Something as simple as a bottle of pop brings so much joy whereas I would not think twice about being thankful for a glass of pop.  I am learning so much from these kids!

HATS TapTap

This afternoon we went for a drive to see a bit of the town. Our first stop was to the hospital and along the way we were discussing about how maybe people in Haiti are more fortunate than us in some ways. For the fact that they don’t want everything, they have what they need to survive (some) and that is enough for them. Upon arriving at the hospital our minds changed a bit. The hospital yard was packed with people standing outside trying to get inside to visit others.  Since they don’t have enough nurses/doctors to care for the needs of the patients one of your family members has to take care of you.  Many patients are put in one big room.  It’s the sad truth of people living here. I wish I could change this for them.  Some people came out wailing as they had just had someone die.  It was difficult to see.

Hospital Albert Schweitzer

As we continued to drive around a little I was in awe of the beauty of this country. Mountains upon mountains and the grass and trees are so bright green.

Countryside beauty.

This was followed by a soccer game on the field in front of the church.  We had the Canadian team and the Haitian girls from the HATS church and school on one team with Keith in goal for them.  The Haitian boys from the church and school were on the other team.  It was an action packed fun game of soccer.

Soccer game

I’m so incredibly happy and blessed to be in Haiti. I love hearing the stories of Karen’s experiences and getting to know the kids. I’m excited to see how God will continue to use us throughout the rest of the week!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Jason

Our first full day in Haiti began with all the usual sounds; anyone who has been here knows what I’m talking about.  The sleep through the night was anything but quiet for some of the team due to the rather large party going on ALL night next door.

After a wonderful but very simple breakfast, some of the group and Karen began to share a little about their experiences during the earthquake.  As the rest of us who only knew about it through the news listened to Brian, Bob, and Karen share their stories the room was silent.  It was as if God opened their hearts and allowed them to comfortably share what was on their hearts and maybe get a little freedom from that horrible event in their past.

A Hard Day’s Work

We then figured it was time to get at ‘er.  We grabbed the supplies and headed to church!  We had gotten a start yesterday scraping the rough spots off the walls but we just couldn’t get to work because we were transfixed with the beauty of the colour scheme for the church.  We must have spent an hour ohhing and ahhing.  The scheme of Boring Keith Wight, Cracker Jack Karen, and Sulky Sandra are going to look absolutely amazing.  Words can’t describe how they look so pictures will have to do.

Boring Keith Wight and Cracker Jack Karen

Sulky Sandra

Don’t you all agree the colours are amazing?

The team worked very well today, scraping and painting…and painting.  We had great weather today and it made the day just melt away.

Nice Painting weather

Brian deux painting

Working Hard

But, all work and no play makes for a boring day.  As anyone who has been here knows, there has to be times for hanging out with the children and a midday break offered just that.

And there is always time for the kids!

As the day came to an end, the cleanup began to change the painting zone into a worship zone for tomorrow.  Once things were cleaned up and the benches placed, we headed back to the compound to clean ourselves and rest for the evening.

Cleans up well

After supper, we were reminded that tonight is Saturday night and every Canadian worth their salt knows what that mean (unless you’re me.  I don’t even know what end of the hockey bat you’re supposed to use).  That’s right.  It’s hockey night in Haiti.  And what a game!  Too bad the Leafs lost.

Hockey night in Haiti

Now, there has been a rumour going around that Karen can be a bit of a trickster.  I know!  I was shocked too.  But we were assured by her that this wasn’t so.  That she was above trickery.  Huh?

Things that go bump in the night