Friday, October 15, 2010

Day 5 in Haiti: Making plans

A group left early to go on a 2-hour hike to a village in the mountain; I didn’t think I could have energy for that and the beach this afternoon with the kids; while I think it would be amazing to watch the sun rise as I climbed a mountain in a foreign country I really want to have some energy to play with the kids at the beach this afternoon.

Isn’t it funny how we make plans?

It was my plan to try to catch up on some work. Little did I know I would injure myself. The group was starting to trickle back to Canaan and I was in our room. They went to eat and I went back inside. I started thinking about packing to leave because we were starting out the next day. I reached for something on the dresser and moved my foot at the same time. My foot touched a slick spot on the floor.

I don’t know what it was. It could’ve been water leftover from a leak that flooded our bathroom and part of my room. It could’ve been bug spray. I usually tried to mop up any spills on the floor, which tended to happen when I was covering my ankles.

When I hit that slick spot both feet tried to correct my balance but resulted in going in two different directions.

The doctor stateside said it is a severe sprain.

It kept me from participating in the beach activities although I did go. I talked with a few of the kids and held some of the younger ones when they were tired. That is a comforting feeling. You just know the little ones are nestling in to the sound of your heartbeat. With your arms wrapped around them, they probably feel a sense of security.

Believers can find security in God. When all else around us is crumbling, the strongest foundation we can find is in Christ.

These children at Canaan Christian Community hear about Christ and other Bible truths on a daily basis as they memorize scripture and study His Word. Many of them seem to have a relationship with Christ. I pray that is a truly personal relationship.

My new friend Jimmy (seen in photo center, in yellow shirt, helping set up medical mumba tent earlier in week) was an inspiration this week. He served as a translator for the dental team. From Port-au-Prince, he came to spend the week with us at Canaan to help out with the big group. We had a great need for translators — at the medical and dental clinics as well as with the pastoral training that went on with 46 Haitian pastors.

Jimmy lives in his car. He has a business repairing cell phones and selling them. A lot of the Haitian people have a cell phone.

He also tries to put Jesus movies in Creole so more Haitians can here of the hope that can be found only in Him.

The house he shared with his parents was badly damaged in the Jan. 12 earthquake. His parents now live in one of the tent cities in Port-au-Prince that have popped up everywhere.

Throughout the week Jimmy worked with the dental team to provide cleanings for all the kids, staff and pastors as well as some walk-ins through the medical clinic. They cleaned a lot of teeth.

There were a lot of Haitians I met who didn’t have much materially. But the joy that exuded from them can only be described through a relationship with Jesus. They thank God in all circumstances.

I hope and pray that I learn this lesson as well.

See photos.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 4 in Haiti: Sweaty

Sweaty palms.

No, I’m not nervous.

It’s my new way of life in Haiti.

Of course, my palms aren’t the only thing that sweat here. Sweat oozes from every pore.

I’m a spoiled American missing my air conditioning.

But when the Haitians even say it’s hot, you know it is the truth.

To add to my sweatiness, I also have ant bites on my ankles and a heat rash.

Each new obstacle reminds me to be thankful.

Talking to Celienne, a 16-year-old girl here, and the girls she shares a room with, you see so much joy. From before the rising of the sun until well after the setting of it, the girls sing. She has a beautiful smile. She knows that this place offers her a greater opportunity at a better future. If she studies hard, she might be able to go to college and find a good job.

I share the “penthouse” apartment on the second floor of one of the girls’ dorms with two lovely ladies from Tennessee. They are part of my team that is here working this week. Each morning, they too can hear the lovely voices raised in song. Usually it’s in Creole but sometimes in English. Mostly Christian songs but sometimes secular.

Music is part of the lifestyle of Haiti.

You can share the joys and struggles in song. Music lifts the spirit. It encourages.

The braying of a donkey interrupts the sound of children chanting to learn a lesson in school.

Even the pastors who are here for training share together in song. At each meal, we come together and sing a song, clap and pray.

The pastors left today to head home. One of our team members drove the bus of pastors, leaders and school children.

I can’t imagine driving on these roads.

The bus driver even said at least one of the bridges was out, and he followed a line of vehicles down the side of the embankment and into the water. It is Haiti, after all, and a bridge that is out doesn’t slow them down much.

As an American, I take a lot for granted. My life grinds to a halt when my Internet connection is down or phone lines don’t work. Many times I am so reliant on technology that I don’t know how to operate without it.

I had a song in my heart as I watched the sun set above the community where I am staying. I walked up the hillside and saw the light painting the mountains and highlighting the ocean. It is beautiful here. From the people to the landscape, you can see the ugliness — the years of soil erosion and cutting trees — or you can choose to see the beauty — lush grass and trees or a smile.

I also got to hold a precious little boy today. He seems so serious. But he loves to be held. He latches on for dear life to anyone who wants to hold him. I don’t know his story. Who knows what he has seen in his short life here, but Lord, I pray for him and the other children. I pray God watches over them and keeps them safe.

Lord, open my eyes to the beauty around me. Yes, I need to know the reality of the poverty, but help me to find joy in the midst.

Lord, help me to be thankful in all circumstances. Help my joy that I find only in You be evident to all.

More photos.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 3 in Haiti: Tiny baby

Most of today was spent working with Sister Gladys, one of the founders of Canaan Christian Community. She needs lot of administrative help. She not only runs this place but she also is in charge of about 150 churches. Her father was a prolific church planter and these churches have stayed in contact and basically made an association.

For many of these pastors this was the first time they had ever been to Canaan.

The most heart-wrenching story of the day was one of a premature baby.

Born about 12 days ago, the baby was released from the hospital and basically sent home to die. The doctors told the parents that the only hope the baby had was to buy some formula to build up its nutrition. But a relative – not even the parents – brought her into the clinic today. She weighed less than two pounds.

The dad, not seeing the point of paying for something that would most likely result in death, had condemned his daughter to die without even trying. The mother was most likely malnourished. Reality is harsh here. Life and death part of every day.

Elsie, who is in charge of the clinic, and two of our volunteer nurses went to Port-au-Prince to try to take the baby to the hospital. She was turned away from at least three hospitals before one agreed to take her.

Of course, that is also dependent on the money provided by Elsie and the medicine that they had to leave the hospital to buy nearby. Even then there were about 60 babies in this one area of the hospital.

In spite of this harsh reality, you see hope here. Many times when Haitians build they leave room for growth to a second floor. On the drive here and even here on campus, the buildings have rebar and plumbing pipes sticking up from the roof – looking toward growth in the future.

We ended the day without me taking a shower – again. Our water-soaked floor became even worse with the sink leak and the toilet overflowing. I did not want to have to wade through “water” to get a shower. Maybe tomorrow. There is always hope.

It was too late to try to go somewhere else so I went to bed dirty again.

If this is the worst I have to deal with I feel very fortunate.

More photos.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Day 2 in Haiti: Fortified peanut butter

Last night I went back to my room shortly after a bunch of Haitian pastors arrived on campus. When they arrived, they shook hands with the people meeting them in the cafeteria and began to sing and pray.

While I couldn’t understand a word they were saying I could understand their heart for God. They so desired to get some formal training that some walked up to seven hours to a car to then drive three hours to get here.

Almost 50 pastors are here learning about the Bible, getting better training and receiving encouragement from our pastors that we brought here. They are from various denominations. It is amazing to see

This morning I woke up to the girls singing in the dorm below our room.

After breakfast I went down to the medical clinic where Tuesdays is a special day. Mainly women bring their malnourished children to receive a special paste made up of peanut butter and vitamins. The women are supposed to come every week to get their children the treatment they need.

Medical staff weigh and measure the babies to see where they are and whether they qualify for the treatment. Called medical mumba (Creole word for peanut butter), the clinic drew about 50 patients today not including those who were seen by the other medical personnel.

I did not sleep much last night. I finished up with Internet stuff after 11 and headed back to my room. It took a while to find my stuff to get ready for bed. I was thankful the power was on in my room even though we still didn’t have light in our bathroom. But we have an American style bathroom. I’m so thankful for that!

I spent time in prayer for the day. While it wasn’t a long trip, it seems like we are a long way from home — or the comforts of home. The humidity is definitely high. Everyone is sweating, even when they are standing or sitting still. Our kitchen crew is thinking steps ahead trying to make sure there is enough food for the children, staff, our team and the pastors who are here.

I slept off and on but I am not tired today. Each time I woke up — be it for the wild dogs barking off and on, or the rat scurrying around on or in the roof, or whatever that sound was in my room that I really don’t want to know what it was — I took time to pray and thank God for the many blessings I have.

See more photos:

Monday, October 04, 2010

Day 1 in Haiti: Love the people

Hey everyone! We had a long but good day. Travel actually went pretty quick. We have about 40 people with about 56+ bags of 50 lbs or less that we checked -- not including our carry-on items.

We have wifi around the cafeteria area and are enjoying the slight breeze when it comes by ... I shared some photos on facebook:

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Praying for Haiti

Pack light.

Not allowed to carry more than what I can carry on the plane, my heart is pounding. So much to do before I leave. I ache for the people. Ever since the Jan. 12 earthquake I have been praying off and on for the people there.

I regret that I wasn't praying for them before then.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. It was the poorest before the earthquake. Afterwards .... just trying to imagine it leaves you speechless.

North Carolina Baptists have responded to many disasters. Haiti is one of them. Teams continue to go in working in various areas but mainly with Samaritan's Purse building temporary shelters and working medical clinics.

Monday I leave for this struggling country. Please join me in praying for the country. I will be traveling with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

  • Pray for the pastoral training team. They will be training approximately 30 pastors there. What a privilege to train God's workers in-country.
  • Pray for the medical and dental teams. They will be facing some tough sights, smells and sounds.
  • Pray for the kitchen team who have taken on the challenge of feeding the volunteers, pastors, orphans and staff.
  • Pray for the sports, tutoring, VBS team that will be working with the orphans and leaders.
  • Pray for the construction/miscellaneous team that has to be ready for any project that is thrown at them.
  • Pray for the media team, that they will cover what is going on and be able to share the stories of the people there with the people back home.
Thank you for joining with me in prayer for me as well as my fellow volunteers. Please check back to see pictures and videos. I will be trying to update as often as possible.