Friday, May 13

We're Back

It's Hot Hot Hot-- The water in the shower that is. Weather a little chilly. Glad to be home. Will have lots to share
Jim Co

Home at Last

After nearly 14 hours of travel, we are back home!  What a trip!  We have been blessed beyond measure by our stay in Haiti, and we return home with a renewed spirit, tons of stories and pictures, and way too many mosquito bites. (Hopefully, no creatures hitched a ride in our bags...)  Thank you for keeping tabs on us through this blog.  We've enjoyed sharing our thoughts with you, and look forward to sharing more in person!

Thursday, May 12

Metal & Mangoes

Today marked our last full day in Haiti. Julie, Margi, Lynn, Mike, Cheryl and Josh spent the morning with the kids at Little Children of Jesus. After a week filled with lots of laughs and smiles, we were sad to say goodbye. Gene, George, Mark, and the 3 Jims stayed back at Hope House and took care of some various projects including finding and patching holes in the roof, painting, and some other handiwork. After lunch we all headed out to the metal workers village and stocked up on some beautiful local artwork to bring home as souvenirs and gifts for lucky friends and family members. We also stopped by Grace Mission, a nearby orphanage for 30 girls that is connected to the Lazarus project. We were treated to some great singing by the girls and they loved the slap bracelets we gave them. Finally we arrived back to the Hope House, weighed and packed our bags for tomorrow, and enjoyed a delicious Haitian meal topped off with Cheryl's all-time favorite, mango cobbler. Our final night of devotions was a great time of sharing our highlights of the week and what we will take back with us. There is no question that God has been at work in us and through us and around us. We all feel incredibly blessed have been to be a part of this work and the lives of the Haitian people this week.

Pastor Josh

Works of Art

Wednesday, May 11

Emerging from the Rubble

Wednesday, Day 5 of the trip. The guys working at the Village of Hope started their day bright and early. Fueled by Debbie's fantastic pancakes, mangoes, and yogurt, they hopped on the pickup to head to the worksite at 7. They successfully completed the two major projects today! Jim Cantrell, Jim Corbett, and Mark finished the roof of the latrine, while Gene, jim B., George, Mike, Bert, and our Haitian friends Christophe (the Big Boss), Odney (our driver), and Populaire (our muscle), finished the construction of the incinerator. The work day was highlighted by more visits from curious schoolchildren and Jim Cantrell accidentally teaching them some English vocabulary not covered in their studies.
As for those of us who went to the Little Children of Jesus orphanage for disabled children, we arrived early and ready to rock. This week we've been arriving while a group of the more capable children are having "school." They wear uniforms, sit at desks, and have an assigned teacher, but we havent really seen a real lesson in progress. They mostly just play and color. And once again we serve as a perfect distraction, as we seem to rile the kids into fits of laughter, jumping on us and each other. They have been obsessed with these foam filled vinyl cubes, playing catch with them and of course pelting them at each other.
One of my best moments of the day was spending time with one of the orphans, David. David is 22, has Cerebral Palsy, and cannot communicate through words. He can barely move his arms or hands intentionally. We were playing with these foam blocks and he indicated that he wanted to play catch. When I threw the block, he caught it in his lap, and then flung it back at me. It was amazing! We continued to play, and when the block fell before he could throw it, he kicked it to me! This is just one of the many examples of a Haitian making do with what God has given them. I am blessed by having spent time with these kids.
Julie, Margi, and Lynn focused mostly on physical therapy in the morning, and Josh finished painting the chalkboard wall. We all helped with feeding at lunch and then engaged the kids in sports and a fun craft in the afternoon. The kids got to make foam crosses with glued on foam cut outs and loved it. They were so proud of their pieces of art, and we were so touched by the way they paraded around to show them off!
We concluded the day back at the Hope House with a wonderful traditional Haitian meal and great company. The devotion after dinner really touched me. In the aftermath of last year's earthquake, the president of the Lutheran Church in Haiti is quoted as saying "We will not be defined by rubble, but by restoration, for we are the people of the resurrection." It was awesome to hear Debbie, Roberta, and Bert's examples of how they've seen Haitians emerge from the rubble. It also gave us an opportunity to reflect on the way that we, back in the US, dwell in the rubble of our lives. We have such potential to join others who realize that true life is through God, not our fear, worry, or present difficult situation.
Anyway, the team is giving me a really tough time now for writing a novel, so I should go. Got to get back the team and start our ever-evolving card game of "knock." Ciao!!

Tuesday, May 10

A Therapeutic Smile

Raising the Roof

Chalk One Up

Another early rise to start our busy day. The 5 newcomers are off to see the food for the poor and do some Haitian shopping, the others are on their way back to the school and orphanage to resume their projects. Since I am a newbie I was able to visit the food for the poor and was able to see first hand how many families rely on such a program just to survive and feed their families. We also where able to serve the people their daily rations which really hit me hard because of the look of despair on their faces as I filled their buckets with rice. Next I went to the orphanage to some painting. When I was done painting I interacted with the children and played some games with them. The children were having a great time and at one point this young girl about 8 years old wanted to play catch so we played for a little bit. When her and I were finished playing I had to take a walk because my emotions took over and started to tear up. In summery this was one of the most humble days of my life. Jim B.

Monday, May 9

Monday busy Monday

Monday May 9, 2011 - Our day started early, as our truck and van rolled out of the Hope House compound at 6:45. Traffic was heavier today as the work week has started again. The roads are hopelessly full of huge potholes and the Haitian rules of the road are quite different.

We arrived at Village of Hope just as all of the students were arriving for class. There are about 630 students kindergarten through high school, and they all wear uniforms to school. They were are smiling and waving, interested in the visitors in their midst. As a special treat we watched the youngest kindergarten students march and sing onto the playground for an assembly. We met the principals of the school Clovis and Helen, and we introduced ourselves to the kids. Seeing the bright young faces of these children was great.

5 of our team left for the Little Children of Jesus orphanage while the rest of us stayed for work projects at the school. Our two main projects are to build an incinerator to burn the trash and to put a roof on a latrine. Despite putting up some tarps and trying to stay in the shade whenever possible, it was very hot work. And when the kids were let out of the classrooms for recess we suddenly had dozens of helpers around. We worked as long as we could until our water ran out and we were overheated. We have a few more days to finish up.

On the way back we stopped at the LCJ orphanage for disabled children. Our team members were working with the staff to bring joy to and entertain the kids. They are so full of love and joy and they are so happy to see us. The director of the orphanage Gladys and her staff do a great job with the kids.

As we returned back to the compound the work was not yet done. The tool batteries need to be recharged and we built the grate for the incinerator. Everyone is now finishing their showers and we are relaxing before dinner. Pastor Josh is strumming the guitar and it is very peaceful. Haiti is a beautiful island full of wonderful people who have faced a lot of adversity.

For the friends and family we are all doing well. The food is good and plentiful and no one has gotten sick with "Haitian Happiness" we are a bit tired and sore but we feel like we are doing God's work. Blessings to Debbie, Bert, and Roberta as they are the true heroes here.


Sunday, May 8

Our Great Sunday Experience

Today is Sunday! What a great day we had. it started at 4:00am with the rooster talking-to us. we also had coconuts falling on our roof very early in the morning! the day started with a cold shower to get the blood flowing and then had breakfast. We then jumped into the back of the open truck to head to church at Village of hope. what an experience it is to get from place to place. the roads are not paved by any stretch of the imagination! Plus there are no rules for driving. Everyone is honking to let you know that you are in the way or I'm passing you by on either side, so don't move over. I'm glad that I don't have to drive here, I don't think that I would survive. Bert gave us a tour of the school grounds once we arrived! what a great spot they have to teach the kids. It is however MUCH different than what our kids have in the states. They are so blessed!

Church in the chapel was a great experience. Even though the entire service was spoken in French and Creole you can feel the love of the Lord in the room and in each individual! We were asked to sing a song for them so the 12 of us sang "Waves of Mercy" for them and asked that they clap along. It was a great feeling to see all the smiling faces looking back at us and enjoying our music. After church we got the opportunity to talk to a few of the kids and. I found out that they walk an hour to get to school and church one way in the hot hot hot weather. Another thing that I noticed as we were driving today was all the sharply dressed people walking to church. They all take such pride in how they dress with the little bit that they own.

Lunch was good! We went to a hotel for a buffet. At first I was a little nervous, but was pleasantly surprised by the great taste of food that I tried. Yum Yum!!!

Back to the open truck for another ride of your life. We had a great adventure to ST. Christophe to pay our respects to all those who lost their life in the horrible earthquake in January of 2010. What a humbling experience it was!