We have finally confirmed all our flight details and whew! It was definitely a challenge to put everything together! We are flying to the northern side of Haiti to the Cap Haitien Airport and there are no commercial airlines that fly into this airport. There are many different ways we considered, but finally decided to book a charter flight with IBC Airlines who fly cargo/passenger flights on a twin prop plane into Cap Haitien three times a week. They fly out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale and while the latter was our smaller airport of choice, no flights were available for our schedule. SO…we’ll be flying out of Miami on July 1st and returning to the states on July 29th – exactly 4 weeks to the day!
We talked about driving down to Miami to save a few dollars, but this past weekend we discovered a “$99 each way” special to Miami via American Airlines. These sold out almost immediately, but I was able to get a deal very close to this so we are going to go ahead and fly instead of drive. Much less of a headache and of course, much less time consuming!
We are now busy packing and deciding what we actually need to take. We will also be taking some medical supplies and other materials to the local village clinics where Melissa will be helping. For those of you that can help, I will be posting a separate list of medical supplies that we are still trying to locate. It might be possible that you already have some of these supplies or know where you can find them. Stay tuned.
So much to do in the next week and a half! More updates to come!
Grace and Peace.
We were scheduled to arrive in Haiti for the month of June with our friends Gerson and Heather Nozea (you can go back through the archives and read more about them). About three months ago, the Nozea’s experienced some unforeseen challenges in Haiti which redirected them back to the states. They have also recently found out they are pregnant! Gerson and Heather are going to finish their college education and see what the future holds from there. We are thrilled to have them back home in the states, but more importantly, thankful for all the work they have done for the people of Haiti – they have truly made a HUGE impact!
So where does that leave us? Obviously, we have been searching for a new organization to serve, but one that also aligned with where we feel God is leading us. For the past few months I have been in contact with various organizations, but this past Tuesday, God aligned an incredible meeting with several different organizations. Let me tell you about each of the organizations and then I’ll explain where we go from here.
So what’s next? We’ll be leaving on July 1st for Quartier-Morin, Haiti (near Cap Haitien airport). We’ll be staying in a compound for 30 days with New Life Haiti International.
View Larger Map
What will we be doing? That’s a great question! We’re not really sure what God is up to so we’ll just take it one day at a time. New Life is busy working on a Children’s Home as well as several other projects. Melissa will be helping with clinics and other health care. We are going to simply serve and to share Jesus with a country full of hope and possibility.
There’s potential that I will have access to the internet so I’m hoping to keep a daily (or as frequent as possible!) blog update while there. We’ll have electricity and someone to cook two meals a day for us. And this time I won’t be sleeping in a tarantula field! The northern part of the island is definitely more agricultural and a different pace of life from Port-au-Prince.
Because there are no airlines that fly into the Cap Haitien airport, we’ll have to charter a plane from Fort Lauderdale or Miami. And of course, now we’re staying in a compound instead of a house with friends. Due to both of these unexpected items, our cost of the trip has increased. Many of you have been fantastic and have already jumped in and became sponsors – THANK YOU!!! For others of you, would you prayerfully consider becoming a sponsor for us? You can donate directly via the Paypal link on the right, or shoot me an email: email@example.com directly. We appreciate any and all help no matter how big or small!
I’ll be updating this blog over the next few weeks so please stay tuned. You can subscribe via this link or just check back in periodically. We’re incredibly excited about this new opportunity and can’t wait to share our journey with everyone!!
Grace and peace!
So what’s next then?
A return. A return to Haiti to continue working with Growing Hope for Haiti. To continue to impact families who struggle every day to survive. No jobs and no money with barely a roof (or tarp) over their head.
But we can make a difference. Maybe not for the entire country, but for at least a few families along the way. We have start to somewhere. And that somewhere is Haiti. We need to rescue helpless orphans like Johnna who barely get enough to eat each and every day. We need to help the tent communities who are so desperately trying to put themselves back together; for their story to continue.
It started with hope and that hope must continue to rise.
So here’s the deal. Not only do I feel passionately about this, but my entire family feels like this is so important that we all need to go and serve. For the entire month of June 2011, the Goldsmith’s (Michael, Melissa, Seth and Emilee) will be traveling to Haiti to do the only thing we know how to do. Work hard, give as much as we can, and love as much as possible. We’re heading to Haiti, but we need your help.
We’re looking for 40 sponsors ($100 each) to make our journey. We’re going to do our part by selling a great deal of our possessions to make this trip happen, but we can’t do this without your help. Would you be willing to be one of our sponsors? (By the way, as of the writing of this post, we have our first sponsor! My friend Stephen Emlund and Creative Improv have graciously extended their help. AWESOME!!) You can sponsor us by clicking on the Paypal link below:
Of course, any amount will help, so don’t feel like you can’t click if you aren’t a full sponsor. Any amount will help. And your sponsorship will not only change our family as we prepare for this remarkable new journey, but hopefully those families in Haiti as well as we go and serve. We’ll also need tons of prayer as we embark on this new path. I’m not sure what the future holds for us, but I do know that this is the next step in our journey. We are simply being obedient.
If you have any questions about this decision, questions about Haiti or need more information on how to be a sponsor, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be glad to visit with you. Be sure to stop by Bucketology for more info and for updates soon.
Grace and peace.
“and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.”
If you haven’t had an opportunity to hear about our groups incredible journey to Haiti this past summer, I encourage you to start at the beginning:
Day One (Part One)
Day One (Part Two)
From Left to Right: Mark Burlison, Michael Goldsmith, Zack Mills, Jake Whitener, Jeromy McDowell, Heather Nozea, Matt Helms,
Melissa McDonough, Jonathan Barnes, Ben Durbin, Justin Yount, Stephanie Hedrick, Jackie Adams
Well…it’s the last day. Hard to believe we have endured a week in tents, in incredible heat, torrential rain (we also had heavy rain at bedtime last night – ALMOST flooded, but thankfully not!), tarantulas, mosquitoes, little food, beans and rice, hard work, cuts, scrapes, bruises and the emotional drain of feeling overwhelmed by circumstances out of our control. I’m not sure how many people would make it through a week like this, but if you asked anyone on our team if they would do it all again…the result? Everyone would give you the same answer…ABSOLUTELY!
We got up at at 5:15am today. We were supposed to shower, tear down our tents and then load by 6:30am. Due to the heavy rain, we decided to leave our tents up to dry. Heather and Gerson will tear them down for us at some point. We’ve asked them to give our tents to the orphanage since they have to sleep on mats underneath a tarp. I think it will really help them to have 3 large tents and hopefully almost all the children will have a place in the tent to sleep.
After a quick shower everyone packed their belongings. I gave Gerson and Heather pretty much everything left over I had: my ponchos, clothes, shoes, fan, batteries, medicine, bug spray, air mattress, etc. These are things they cannot get in Haiti very easily and many things they can give to others. Hopefully it will help in some small way. All of us tipped the cooks as well. We must have done okay, since Heather said they were VERY happy. I gave them $10 and all three ladies thanked me and kissed me on the cheek. With our small tips, we were able to give them as much money as they make in a whole month!!
We said our goodbyes to those at camp and loaded our bus to head pack to Port-au-Prince. Guess what? We had the same driver as we had before. He is amazing, but let me tell you, he can scare the pants off of you with his crazy fast driving and swerving!
Traffic was as bad going into town as it was coming out. We took a little different route into town and ran smack dab into a huge traffic jam. Remember as well that they have no road rules so this made things very hectic and very interesting! We ended up in downtown Port-au-Prince which are streets and streets of market type areas. I hope the pictures will represent this. Most of the buildings were crumbled in, but the people still managed to keep “business as usual.” The streets were packed with people and vendors on a busy Monday morning. Fortunately, we allowed plenty of time to get to the airport, and we arrived shortly after 10am for our 12:10pm flight.
The airport for take off was WAY different then the airport for the landing. There were only a few “red hat” guys, but they didn’t bother us much at all. We quickly made our way inside and found a very clean area with AIR. Thecheck-in and customs areas were small, but we moved very quickly through the short line.
The first few days back were very difficult. There were times I would be driving and the tears would stream down my face. Or I would begin sobbing when thinking of those who had touched our hearts with their story. Life, for me at least, would never be the same.
It’s been months now and most of us have settled back into the daily “routine” that bores our souls. All of us long for another day back in Haiti, another day to make a difference, another day to serve an incredible God that overwhelms us. For now the 2010 journey has ended but yet the story continues…
And as far as I’m concerned…well, that’s a good thing.
Grace and peace.
Wow…the last full day. It’s hard to believe that this trip is coming to an end. I have so much in my brain that I know I have missed telling much of it in this journal. I hope to put this on my blog at some point and add more to it including some of the photos. Several of the others on the trip are going to post their pics to Facebook and Snapfish as well.
This morning we arose at 6am again – right as the generator kicked in. That’s been our normal course the past few days – sleep until the generator kicks on. Breakfast came a little early this morning, but I elected to head to the showers instead. I did miss Corn Flakes and milk today – but, I had my normal protein bar and was fine. We had coffee again as well. I was also able to get three small bags of coffee to take home with me – can’t wait to try some.
After breakfast we had our devotional – today talked about finding your inner idols – idols of the heart. Something I’ll go back and visit again – definitely when we have cell group in the upcoming weeks. After our devotional we had a few minutes to hang out, and then at 8:30am we left for our church service. The church was a local Haitian church and we arrived near the end of Sunday School. Come to find out, this was a Baptist church, and it was VERY traditional. There were about 200 people packed inside a building on 20 pews. Needless to say, it was EXTREMELY hot inside. We were packed into the pews and sat there and watched as they finished Sunday School. Next, a Haitian preacher got up and prayed for probably at least five minutes. It was long! Then we stood and sang three hymns in Creole. I didn’t understand any of it, but they loved to sing and worship. It was amazing to see them worship God with a love that was so evident. Not much different than the US, except they aren’t as reserved as we are.
After we sang, another Haitian fellow got up and read what seemed like announcements. Then they asked all visitors to stand and introduce themselves. Three people stood on our left (we waited to stand as a group) and 2 of the 3 said they had just accepted Jesus. Pretty crazy! Then our group stood and they asked us to come to the front (such a comfortable feeling for first time guests, right?) and introduce ourselves. Heather said a few words on our behalf and then we went down the line and said our name. They seemed to enjoy having us there…I think. Finally we went back to our seats and sang a few more songs. By the way, they did have a drum set and electric keyboard for worship. They keyboard player played bass with the left hand and chords/melody with the right. He was really pretty good. The lady beside me had a hymn book in Creole and I was able to follow along and sing some since I can pronounce French fairly well. Finally, the preacher prayed again (for five more minutes) and then we had to depart for the orphanage. The service, we heard, continued on for the next two hours! Wow! One final note on that part – they had a female leading the singing/worship part. She even prayed at one point. I thought that was pretty cool.
After the service (our part) we headed to the orphanage. This orphanage used to be in the mountains but the government gave them some permanent land. Unfortunately, the land is way out on a back road. We arrived at the orphanage and this was hardly a place for kids to live. There was a make-shift fence made out of small sticks surrounding the perimeter and then a few small tent areas. One area was for cooking and the other was where the kids sleep, eat, play, etc. When we arrived the children were getting dressed in “special outfits” (normal clothes for us) for the party we were throwing. We were able to give money for them to have a meal of chicken, rice and beans, coleslaw, plantains and sweet potato fries. This camp used to have a partner that supported them with food, but now they have no one to help them. A pastor takes care of the orphanage and there are currently about 45 that live there. It costs $6 a day for each child if they eat three times a day. Right now, they eat ONE time each day. That is really hard to imagine – but they were all smiling and didn’t see to mind. Some of the younger kids were malnourished and therefore had distended bellies. After they ate they kept holding up their shirts and saying their bellies hurt. Very sad.
Before we ate, four of the guys left to go get the orphanage’s old bathrooms from up on the mountain. They didn’t have any bathrooms at their land – they just went out into the middle of the field and squatted. Wow! While the guys were gone, the rest of us guys played soccer with four of the boys. We had a blast. The soccer field was a bumpy dirt patch with tiny sticks for goals. No one seemed to mind at all.
The guys returned and unloaded two makeshift toilets for them. It will definitely be better than what they had! After that the children sang several songs for us and then performed a few sketches. One song was actually written by a twelve year old boy – a rap about injustice and how it wouldn’t get them down – they would overcome. Amazing!
We had only planned on feeding the kids, but the orphanage fixed us food as well. We had to eat – it’s disrespectful to turn down food when someone offers it. So we all ate together which was cool. Afterwards, the kids ate bubblegum (I had brought this from home!) and then they sang a few more songs for us. By this time it was after 2:30pm so we left to head back to camp. A great day with them and they (and we) were sad to see us go.
We had planned to work at the land today, but since it was so late we didn’t have time to do anymore. We did want to go back to the tent city however to give them our extra food and some clothing. Everyone in our camp decided to give all of our clothing to Gerson and heather and some to the tent people. It was a good feeling to be able to give something (even though it wasn’t much).
Most of us took a quick shower (we had been totally drenched in sweat today) and then we loaded up with clothes, food, extra supplies, etc. We headed back to the tent city and it was amazing to see the people who had worked so hard with us this week. The bad part is that this community has a “President” and board that everything goes through. Gerson suggested we leave all of our stuff with the “committee” who could distribute it how they wanted. What we all knew however, was that the committee would either keep it all for themselves or give it to the people they picked. Many of us went around and gave out stuff to the workers and kids we had made friends with during the week. This worked well until some of the committee members arrived and told everyone to leave. They had us pile everything in one pile for them to hand out later. Several of us still handed out stuff to individuals, but the committee started getting upset so we stopped at that point. Everyone did seem truly grateful for all that we had done.
We loaded up the van to leave and started telling everyone goodbye. Many Haitians came to the van to tell us goodbye and many of them said “God Bless You.” Christianity is prevalent here, but so is Voodoo.
Best visual moment of the trip: a young 22 year old boy we called “Son Son” came to the van to say goodbye. There were visible tears in his eyes as he told us thank you. I knew in his heart that he got it. It was truly a God thing. To put things in perspective, Son Son’s parents were killed in the earthquake and he is now raising his three brothers and sisters. He is now their sole provider and leader of that family. May God bless him in his journey.
We arrived back at camp – wait…back up…there was a local man, a skilled laborer, who helped us lay all the bricks for the foundation. He busted it hard for two days straight. We called him the “Mason Man.” Anyway, we drove to his house to hand deliver some extra food and clothing to him. Mason lived in a remote village that was very hard to get to. We pulled through a rough jungle area and in the trees was a beautiful overlook to the mountains. Amazing sight. We gave him some supplies, took a group picture and then headed to camp.
As we arrived back at camp, several of us made a final trip to the gas station for a soda. I made that trip a total of three times, but each journey I found something new or interesting. It was very strange walking down a broken road with trash and burning piles surrounding you. Motorcycles were everywhere and large buses would pass by quickly. The locals would start at us, not rudely, but with an inquisitive gaze. There are probably not many white visitors to Leogane.
We returned to camp for dinner. This time it was rice and corn with what I think was a hot dog. It was good whatever it was. After dinner we all hung out. The water purification team was there also and one of them brought his guitar out. For the next hour or so we sang songs together and just shared in worship. A great time and a memorable moment for everyone. At the end, one of their more outspoken girls asked if she could pray for us – a very cool thing. A great blessing and end to our night.
Tomorrow we leave Haiti. We took a few moments to share our thoughts of the week and to plan for the next day. The emotions of a long and impacting week were felt in our group. Sad, but yet hopeful for this tiny country. And of course joyous that we would once again see our families and the place we call home.
Another good day in Haiti! I woke at the customary 6am again. We generally get up right as the generator kicks in at 6am. We headed to breakfast (more eggs and bread) as normal. Last night, right as I was finishing my journal entry, it started raining very hard. We were worried about flooding, but fortunately it didn’t rain very long. I had laid some shorts out to dry (I had washed them in the shower) and they were a little wet, but by morning they were mostly dry. At least I had a good pair of work shorts for today.
My stomach was really hurting this morning. It may have been a result of all the ibuprofen I took yesterday, so I didn’t take any more today. My knee was definitely sore today, but I bandaged it up and it was ready to go.
After breakfast we had our devotional – another good one. This one was on repentance and really hit home with some of the scripture and points in the chapter. I’m finding more and more nuances on The Gospel that I had not discovered before – very cool and a great challenge for me.
We were ready to go to the land today, but the van left to pick up more blocks. So six of the guys went in Gerson’s SUV and the rest of us waited behind. Or so we thought! Gerson came to us and said that were going to take a “TAP TAP” – a taxi. Pretty cool I thought. We waited a bit at the edge of the camp and then Gerson brought a TAP TAP from down the street. We loaded in, including our cooler filled with ice and 150lbs of water. The driver told Gerson it would be one Haitian dollar per person, but when we were all loaded he then said 50 Haitian dollars. A total rip off! When the Haitians see a white person they automatically upcharge everything. So…we unloaded everything and waited for another TAP TAP. Finally one came for a good price and we loaded up. There were about four other Haitians on board already, and I’m sure they wondered what in the heck we were doing there.
The driver took us to the edge of the tend camp/land we needed to go. By the way, a TAP TAP is really nothing more than a short bed pickup (usually a Nissan or Mazda) with a camper shell on the back – you ride in the back – very interesting driving in this with no road rules! We arrived at the road and had to carry the cooler about a 1/4 mile – it was stinkin’ heavy!! When we arrived we expected to see some sand to mix with, but it was supposed to come after awhile.
Our goal today was to finish the fence wire and then build out the rest of the blocks on both sides. A pretty ambitious day planned. Several started working on putting blocks in place, and Ben and I decided we would run the rest of the razor wire. Not sure how smart a decision that was considering yesterday’s knee injury, but it needed to be done so I volunteered. We managed to do a pretty good job putting up the wire and it looked pretty good. We ran out of wire after one side however, and that’s all they had to put up. Hopefully they will get more soon. The only injury on the wire incurred by Ben, who sliced his finger open pretty good. Nothing a good cleanser and band aid couldn’t fix!
Building blocks by hand takes a very long time. We worked until lunch and then came back to camp. For lunch we had…you guessed it! Chicken and red beans/rice! It’s still good every time I eat it. I’m really enjoying the red beans and rice each day. Gerson stopped and bought all of us a Coke as well. A cold drink tasted fantastic today. I know I mentioned the Haitian dollar which equals 8 to 1 US dollars, but they also use a “Gould” which is 39 to 1 US dollars. Not sure when they use what, but that’s what the sign at the gas station says.
After lunch we headed back to the land to work and alas – no sand! We mixed everything we could but by 3:30pm we were all out of materials and still no sand. We managed to build almost one layer of blocks on the second pad but that was all. Gerson wanted us to build a large 12′ gate as well, but we’re going to tackle that tomorrow. We were supposed to go to the beach tomorrow, but everyone elected to work instead. that will be okay, and good to help them get more work done.
We finished up work at 4:30pm just as the sand pulled in. Oh well…it will just have to wait until tomorrow. The girls had left in the afternoon to go to the tent city nearby to have a party with the kids. Ben had donated $150 to buy drinks, food and different prizes for them. After we finished work we stopped by the tent city to see how they were doing. It was totally awesome! Inside this large tent are were probably 60 kids and many adults. They were all smiling and had some food and drinks in hand. They then started playing music and all of them were dancing and smiling and laughing. A little bit of joy in such a desolate place! Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera since we left our packs locked up in the van. Two things you always have with you and keep an eye on – your pack and your water bottle! Both very important things!
It’s also been cool at the site working with the locals. Several of our guys have the local guys who were working hard food they had brought with them: jerky, crackers, tuna, etc. Tomorrow we are all planning on giving them all of the extra food we have left. Some are also giving up their shoes and gloves. Very cool to give back to a community that has nothing and lives in tents/tarps. They do keep their small areas very clean however and I’ve also noticed that they keep their clothing as clean/neat as possible. Heather told us that having clean clothes is a sign of “higher standing.” This makes sense – the poor only have dirty and little clothing, so it has been and has become a social status. Very sad.
We finished the party and headed back to camp. When we arrived we all decided to walk to the gas station again. Only this time we wanted to try the local beer we had heard about. Each of us bought a “Presitge” beer (local to Haiti) and then a “Presidente” (from the Dominican Republic). Not very good beer but fun to try none the less. And of course the journey to and from the station is always very interesting. I was also able to get some local coffee as well (only ground). Hopefully it will be as good as at camp. Dinner tonight was a nice change of pace – spaghetti!
Tomorrow our plan is to go to church, then the orphanage, and then back to the site to work. Only one more day – it has gone so fast! I’m looking forward to getting home to see my family but will miss this wonderful new culture and the “zamis” we have all met along the way.
Well, another day at the camp today! Actually, we’ve kind of settled into a pattern now which feels decent. Nothing too crazy or out of the ordinary.
Today we woke at 6am. Last night as we were in our tent and getting ready to bed down, Mark decided he needed to go pee so he took the flashlight and headed outside – in his underwear. No problem, right? Wrong! It’s dark of course, but Mark walked around the tent and lo and behold – a gigantic tarantula! Mark’s only words (and very loudly!) – “Holy Mother of God!” Quite funny! So Mark’s yelling brought the girls out of their tent and Gerson from his and there was Mark standing in his underwear. A bit awkward to say the least. Fortunately, Jake had busted out and killed the spider with his shoe. Everyone went back to bed including Mark, who decided he didn’t have to pee any longer.
Also, before bed last night, the group decided to play “spoons.” It’s a card game similar to musical chairs – get four of a kind then grab a spoon on the table. As soon as someone grabs a spoon then everyone else has to grab a spoon as well. The last one doesn’t get a spoon and is out (you play one less spoon than the amount of people). A very fun and fast-paced game which I had never played before. As luck was with me, I won the first game of the night! Schweet!
So back to this morning. Up at 6am and breakfast was different today. Oatmeal with a hard-boiled egg. I decided to have a protein bar again and we also had some coffee again. The coffee is excellent, and we are hoping to get a few bags to take home with us. After breakfast we had our devotional. Another great lesson comparing “The Law” to “The Gospel.” Really good lessons.
Our goal for today was to get to the site early and finish building the bathroom site as well as the fence. We have been working with an architect named “Billy” with the Fuller Foundation. Billy hasn’t exactly been reliable to say the least and today was no exception. By the time he got to camp it was nearly 8:30am (late to start work) and he told us that he had changed the bathroom plans to a newer more “permanent” structure. That sounded good, but it meant that our first day’s construction was no longer going to work. the new plans called for six bathrooms but only using four and when two get “full” then there are two additional available. They decided to “compost” the waste instead of having someone have to change barrels out. Probably a good choice, but it would have been better to have this plan in advance so we didn’t waste time and materials. I’m hoping Billy is working well with Gerson since Gerson doesn’t have much of a budget. But we of course, as a team, will roll with whatever they want us to do.
We finally arrived at the land at 10am. Half the team started on constructing a two-foot high cinder block wall to set the new bathroom structure on. The cinder blocks are definitely NOT like our American cinder blocks. They are much smaller and the material they make them with is very brittle. As a matter of fact, they had to split several of them in half – they do this by taking the blunt side of the machete and whacking the block. Two hits and the block totally split in two! I hope the block will stand up to the use it’s going to take!
The rest of us started work on the fence. Today was my day to work on the fence. It was by far the most difficult work that I have done on this trip. On your knees you had to dig out an 18″ hole in the ground with a crowbar. Talk about exhausting! then you had to dig out the dirt with your hands. The dirt is very soft however – not like Missouri clay – and we were able to dig out approximately 40 holes this way. After all the holes were dug (and we also had to line them up with string and our eyes!) we put in 8′ 2×4’s and filled the bottom with rock and finally cement. We managed to get the entire fence line complete which was great.
The guys finished putting cinder blocks on one side only. One local Haitian basically worked two days straight and helped pour concrete and mortared the blocks. He was a very hard worker. At the end of the day they brought one more load of blocks (50) for the other pad, but we were all spent and the Haiting man wanted to go home so we called it a night.
One additional event for me today. My legs have been covered with scratches from the sugar cane fields (most of us have been dealing with this( but I was helping another local fellow with the razor wire. Jake had stretched two sides of the fence with regular barbed wire today and then on the bottom they wanted razor wire.
The razor wire is like the type they put on top of prison walls if that helps with a visual. So, I’m helping this fellow with the wire, being very careful and wearing gloves, when we ran out of one strand. We grabbed on the strand of the razor wire and as we took of the wire straps holding it, it unwrapped and shot towards me. It was so quick I didn’t realize what had happened, but I guess half of one razor went into my knee and I had a pretty good puncture wound. At first I thought it was fine (like most puncture wounds) but then it started gushing blood and pretty soon my entire leg was soaked with blood. I took some wipes I had with me and cleaned it up and then held pressure on it for about five minutes, and it finally stopped. Whew! Mark had some type of medical tape that I wrapped a clean wipe around and taped to me leg. It didn’t really hurt at the time, but tonight as I write this it is starting to get sore. I’ll take a couple of ibuprofen before bed.
We got back to camp and the other group was here. 20 in all – a group from Louisville, KY. They are here to work on getting clean water to the Haitians. Mostly college kids so what a great experience for them. Since a new group was in, we had a great meal again (same as Monday): chicken, french fries and plantains. A great meal! And we were incredibly hungry tonight from another day’s work.
I also met a crew doing some video for the temp. housing (I think I mentioned this already) and he gave me his card and said to look him up if I’m ever in NYC. Pretty cool.
It’s VERY hot here tonight. Not much breeze, but hopefully it will pick up. Some are playing spoons again and I’m finishing up my journal then we’ll be set for bed! Tomorrow is our last day of work. It’s really hard to believe it’s nearly over!
WOW! What a day today!
Early rise as always – around 6am today. We are still having problems with tarantulas. I think we are camping in the tarantula field because every morning you will find three or four large holes with tarantulas in them. Zack has started killing them each morning. I forgot to mention that yesterday morning I came out of the tent and went to brush my teeth. Right after I came out of the tent mark came out and then he started hollering. Right by his foot in the corner area outside of the tent was a very large tarantula. Evidently they like that little cubby area because Zack killed one in the same spot this evening. We’ve only seen them in the morning so tonight’s showing was unusual (I hope!).
After breakfast (eggs and bread again – I didn’t eat anything except a protein bar this morning because my stomach was a bit “rumbly”) we had our devotional time. Another good session – I’m enjoying them a lot.
After our devotion we loaded the van to head back to the land. Little did I know what was in store! We arrived at the land and had to gather materials from a “tent house” that had let us store some cement and rebar there overnight. then from somewhere in the trees they brought out the lumber we had left. Amazing how this process worked. there is a small tent community and an orphanage nearby. We have come to enjoy our conversations with many of the locals. One boy and I have really hit it off because his name is also Michael. He and I are “zamis” – friends.
The guy who let us store stuff at his house is named “Wilson” and he is an incredibly hard worker. Some of the men help and work with us, but others just sit in the shade under the tree and watch. It’s very strange sometimes. Almost as if some of them don’t want to improve their life situation. Very sad.
We knew today that our goal was to pour the two concrete slabs. It sounded easy enough, right? Well…first off, it was extremely hot today and the humidity was absolutely killer. And of course we have only one small shade tree so we had to work in the hot sun all day. Everyone applied TONS of sunscreen (even me!) and everyone seemed to survive that part of the day.
We had to pour the two concrete pads but had very few tools. We had to mix our concrete by hand on the ground – an interesting experience! At the bottom of the land (it’s not too steep, but it does grade down toward the dirt road) was piled the sand and rock. The cement was at the top near the area to concrete. So…we had to shovel the sand and rock, wheelbarrow it to the top of the hill, add concrete and water and then mix. I’m not sure how many batches we made, but my guess was about 20 batches or so – that’s 3 sand and 2 rock to every batch. My job for most of the day was to shovel each wheelbarrow full and sometimes I even carried the wheelbarrow (actually push it) up the hill to the mixing area. I’ll let you do the math, but that’s nearly 100 wheelbarrow’s full! In the heat of course! Everyone really worked hard today and by the end we were all beat tired and totally worn out. Many had blisters, pulled muscles, etc. We did manage to pour both concrete pads and we also set about 40 wooden posts in concrete. A few of the local boys took crowbars and dug each hole 18″ deep! With a crowbar! WOW!
Then we put posts in and added cement. Tomorrow we are supposed to go back and add razor wire and complete the rest of the posts to have a small fenced in area. that way it can be a safe area to put the toilets in. We’ll also have to add some concrete blocks to the pads so that we can set the toilets on top of them. No one is quite sure if we will actually be assembling the toilets or not. It would be cool to finish that portion of the project before we leave. Gerson also mentioned moving some toilets from a mountain side orphanage to their new home in Leogane. Not sure if we’ll have time, but we’ll see.
We got back to camp, unloaded our equipment, and one-by-one we finally showered. It felt amazing tonight. The water wasn’t too cold and of course it felt great to be clean after a long day. We didn’t arrive back to camp until 5:30pm or so. Better late than never!
Dinner tonight was the same as lunch for the most part. Which, by the way, since we couldn’t stop pouring concrete they had to bring lunch to us. So we had rice, beans and chicken twice today. Notice we have rice and beans everyday right? Good thing I like rice and beans! We also ran out of water twice today – not good in the heat! Hopefully that won’t happen tomorrow.
I did get to talk to my family tonight. That was AWESOME and I can’t wait to see them on Monday night. Another group has arrived tonight – a group of 20…we’ll see how that goes!
Up at 6:30am sounds good, but around here, if breakfast is early (it was today) then you missed out. People don’t wait around to see if you’ve eaten. So, late to breakfast, I ended up eating a granola bar – perfect for the morning. But guess what? All the coffee was gone – NOOOOOOOO! Dang!
We gathered for our morning devotional and as we did – VOILA! The cook lady brought over a new container of Haitian coffee! Man, was this stuff good! Rich, dark and full of flavor! We’re going to try and buy some before we go. After our devotional we headed out to “the land.” It was basically a large field full of small sugar cane plants. Gerson had rented a backhoe for the day (not cheap or easy to find!) and fortunately Matt is a machine operator with tons of experience – perfect for this job.
Matt started clearing a road while the rest of us grabbed machetes and began “whacking” down all the plants. All this in 100 degree heat and 100% humidity – it was hot! There was a large tree on the lot that provided quite a bit of shade and as we finished one section all of us took a break.
By this time many of the locals had come over to help or just watch. I didn’t mention that yesterday the girls went to an orphanage and did a small VBS unit with them (I’m hoping we get to go this week sometime). Today the girls went to a local church by the land to do another VBS unit.
While we were resting under the tree, the girls came back with several of the kids and we all stood around and talked for quite awhile. It was so cool to try and communicate with them. A few could speak a few words in English, but mostly it was trial and error and a LOT of hand signals!
We had to wait for some supplies so we all went back to the compound for lunch. Today was rice and beans and leftover soup stuff from last night. It was enough for lunch especially given the heat. Did I explain the dishes? Each person was to wash their plate, rinse it, then dip it in a bleach solution to sterilize it. Then in a tub it goes or on a plate for drying. Quite interesting!
After lunch we went back to the land and cleared out spots for the two concrete slabs for the bathrooms. It took quite awhile to dig them out, build a 2×4 frame and lay out the rebar. Then we hauled rock to both concrete slab areas. We had planned on mixing concrete today (by hand of course!) but just as we were getting ready, a thunderstorm rolled in and rained us out. Dirty, muddy, tired and flat worn-out, we loaded up and headed back. Tomorrow we’ll try to finish pouring the slabs.
When we returned we had to wait on our backpacks which were in another car. We take our packs everywhere to keep them safe. Many have their money/passports inside along with snacks, etc. So far no issues – let’s hope it stays that way!
When we got back Gerson decided we would also put in posts for a perimeter fence tomorrow, so we cut the rest of the 2×4’s in half and then made “points” to try and put them in the ground tomorrow. We had to cut many of the posts with a hand saw since our batteries were out and the electricity doesn’t do to well with the electric saws. Talk about a work out! We’re supposed to hand dig 82 post holes tomorrow! Yikes!
We finished cutting posts and then most of us showered and then it was time for dinner. Yep – you guessed it – rice and beans with some leftover chicken legs in some type of stew. It was okay I guess. I really like the rice (esp. when they add the corn) but to tell the truth, most of the food really tastes the same. I think it’s because they cook it the same way with much of the same spices.
After dinner I read my devotional for tomorrow and am now finally catching up on my journal writing. We’ve heard that a new group from Kentucky is coming tomorrow. They are with a water purification team – a total of 25! That should make things interesting around here. Especially with space – where will they put their tents? There isn’t much space left. What will happen during meals? The poor cooks already work most of the day. And finally, what about showers and toilets? (Did I mention that there are only 3 toilets? One guys, one girls and one open – no paper in toilets – it goes in a box – yikes!)
It should be another interesting day tomorrow! I sure do miss my family. I think of them often and hope they are doing okay!
To be continued!