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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday Night Fever

Well, it is Saturday night, and I'm hot, so I guess that counts.

I forgot to mention, on the way down here, we passed a group of people (more of a friendly swarm) and discovered that President Michel Martelly was speaking with citizens.  Not a big deal, but kinda interesting.  Wasn't surrounded with secret service or anything like we would have.  I'm sure there were body guards, though.

Also Bill Clinton is somewhere near by, but he hasn't called on us.  We just saw where the Clinton-Bush Foundation released a bunch of aid money.  Yea.

This morning after a breakfast of toast, strong Haitian coffee and omelets, we unloaded our duffel bags and started a production line making packets for the many prisoners in the Les Cayes prison.  Conditions there are terrible.  There are currently under 600 men, and about 30 women.  For the men, we have boxers, tees, soap and a washcloth.  For the women, we have panties, sports bras, soap and a washcloth.  We will be going to visit the prison on Monday.

Mid-morning, we took a van into Les Cayes, and went to a huge open market "farmers" market.  This isn't the usual Les Cayes market, but beyond the city.  The parking lot was really a donkey lot, with the longest stretch of tied up donkeys I've ever seen.  You could buy anything here, including  sugar cane (which we did), hand woven straw hats (that I didn't but now wish I had), hoofs,sausage, rice, corn, clothing, used shoes, sundries, whole live hogs, and they even had hot dog carts, Laura.  However, they didn't look too sanitary, so we didn't partake. I really was intrigued by the butchered animals.   I'm sure they were delicious after sitting in the hot Haitian sun for a few hours!

The beautiful little girl in the hat (with lower arm amputated) and her brother followed us around the market the whole time.  I gave her some money after we took her picture.
Back for lunch, which was a delicious rice dish (see facebook photo).  Then I took copies of photos I'd taken on my last trip and went to see the Espwa cooks.  They make over 2000 meals per day, and seem to have a great time!   They loved the pictures, and laughed at each other and showed them around.  Made it worthwhile.  They may let me come "help" them cook again later, perhaps.

I took a real nap today, slept and everything, and awoke refreshed. Then two groups of little boys came in the guesthouse and colored pictures.  The first group was about 7 years old, the second probably 9 or 10.  There are some really good artists.   

Dinner time, and we had wonderful home made pizza.  And, we had a surprise cake for pastor Lori, since this is her last day as a Schweitzer employee.  As of tomorrow, she works for Espwa.  So, we had a nun on top, with "Congratulations, Sister Mary Lori", since Espwa is run by a catholic organization.  I don't think she'll convert, but just wanted to cover our bridges.  Also gave her a ruler, as that's my understanding how nuns kept discipline in the good ol' days. Please note the writing was done by our Haitian cook.  Pretty good!

Tomorrow is going to be a fun day, full report then.  Au revoir!

We're here!

Rested, went for a walk this morning already, had coffee, met a young man named Junor who wanted to walk with me and talk.  He is 17, likes school, including Spanish, English, French, arithmithic, and science.  He wants to be a painter when he is through with school.  Only problem is, there are about 3 million painters here, some have talent, some not, but who are you going to sell your paintings to?

The ride down from Port-a-Prince yesterday was interesting.  At least it was daylight.  I've only come this way in the dark before.  In Port-au-Prince, we hot stuck in a HUGE pothole, and a bunch of men lifted us out, --while all 11 of us where still in the van!    Later on, the van with our luggage had a flat tire, and we drew a crowd while that was being changed, too. 

After the extreme poverty showing in PaP, it was nice to see the countryside and all the little villages.  Still poor, but not so starkly evident.  And when we went through the mountains, valleys, and the seashore, I saw a bit of Haiti I'd only heard about.  There are some extemely beautiful areas.  Can you imagine having a beach property here, but only having a shack?  I think I could do it.

When we arrived at Espwa yesterday afternoon, we quickly unpacked, and took a tour of the 125 acres and all that Espwa has to offer the residents.  Then, we went to the village and saw the children.  Always an amazing thing, they run to greet us, hang on, talk, and want to practice their English, if they know any.

We had pasta last night; it was delicious.  We hung around for a while, had a wonderful sharing time of our first impressions, and hit the hay.  It was good to have a fan in our room, as the room was still quite warm.  The cool shower was good.

Haitian coffee is strong, and I've already had my 2 cups.  Breakfast soon, so will report more later.  It's good to be here.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Our bags ARE packed!

Finally have checked in all our bags, and are now waiting for boarding to Port au Prince.  3:30 was especially early this morning, and part of our group is out looking for a Starbucks to get us going.  Miami airport is really big, and I believe we've covered all of it on foot.

Dang it!  I'm the oldest one on this trip, but not by far.  Lori is next, close behind, then the ages fall to college age.

There are 3 men with us this trip.  Greg Heard was on my first trip to Haiti in December, 2010.  He is going to school.  His wife sings at church, his daughter is a puppeteer, and he also has a school age son.  He is the sound man at church services.  Darrell Hasse is married and has two children, as well. He is in the Praise Band.   Dillon is our youngest man, and works for the park department and is also in the Praise band.

Women on the trip are me, pastor Lori, Diane Joy who is a hairdresser and has 2 children.  Doris Plaster is from Columbia South America, but has been here 12 years, is married and has one son and four step children.  She is a social worker at the Maples, a skilled nursing facility.  Leah Cagle is a physical therapist, married and has two children.  She also sings with the Praise band.  Kayla Brown is young, single and cute, and is also a physical therapist who works with Leah.  Last but not least is Keeley who is a student, single, young and cute, but is an item with Dillon.  You can pick us out of this picture.  We're the white ones.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again

This is a very small painting (approx 2 1/2" x 2 1/2") by Sami Nelson, who lives at Espwa (Pwoje Espwa Sud- which means Project Hope, South) in Haiti.  It's painted ont the back side of a piece of cardboard box.   Everything is reused, recycled, repurposed here. 

We're leaving first thing in the morning, and will arrive at Espwa somethime Friday afternoon.  Les Cayes, Haiti, is only 199 Km (123.6 miles, according to google maps) from Port au Prince, but will take us 5-6 hours to drive.  Roads?  Yes, there is one, and it even has a number, but not like ours and it is certainly an adventure.  The driver will go from a complete standstill to God only knows how fast in a matter of seconds, and every mile per hour in between--often.  The last time I went, we took a detour through a river, because the bridge was damaged.  In the dark.

We all met last night and packed our duffles with items we are taking with us (not our personal items-they are in our carry-ons). Approximately 1000 lbs (half a ton!!)  I have never seen so much underwear in my life.  Clothing, dresses, computers, soap, christmas presents, and numerous surprises for the children.  Thanks to all who contributed.  We also have items for the 550 prisoners in the Les Cayes prison who are often held unjustly and in deplorable conditions.  We've all heard of the harshness of Mexico prisons, and I'm guessing they are 100 times better than the ones in Haiti.  8 x 10 cell , sometimes 40 or more in each cell.

We will also be visiting another orphanage/hospice in Les Cayes, run by the Sisters of Mercy (Mother Teresa).  They have disabled children, and a hospice for adults, I believe. 

It might not sound like it, but this is really a very uplifting journey.  Every day we see smiling faces, children who are loved, eat regularly, go to school, have medical care, and have hope for the future.  What more could anyone ask?!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Where oh where did the little moose go?

OK, This makes me pretty mad. I wrote a big long fat post from Salt Lake City, about breaking my husband, Mormon weddings, and the zoo, but then it disappeared. I tried forever to find it, but then decided I'd better enoy my vacation instead of trying to be all techie. But since I'm getting ready to go to Haiti next week, I want to make sure I know what I'm doing. So, this is a test drive only.

The trip was good, Yellowstone what everyone says it is, Saw lots of animals and geysers, snow, bubbling mud, etc. and I'll post more later.

 I might mention now would be the perfect time to go to japan. It would not be crowded at all, since they are all here. More to come.

Btw, the answer to the header is.....anywhere they want.