Our own Tom Roussey reported today on our trip to Haiti, both on-air and online. Read his story here: http://www.wbtv.com/global/story.asp?s=14248817
March 12, 2011
Good morning – Matt brings us our last blog post from Haiti this morning. Know that we appreciate your prayers and support this week. My heart still feels heavy for the people of Haiti, and now the people of Japan as well. – Lelia
It is hard to believe that it is our last night in Haiti. This week has gone by faster than I could possibly have imagined. But that’s the way these mission trips always go. One moment you are packing for the trip, and the next you are packing to head home.
So here we are. We’ve made it. We completed the tasks that were set out for us, and we made some incredible memories in the process. We may have touched a few lives, but we have been touched far more by those we met this week. I think it is safe to say that our lives have been changed forever. There are too many stories for this blog to contain, but be assured that each of us will have a plethora to share with anyone who will listen. The previous posts are only a taste of what each of our team members could tell.
Since this is our last night, I have been reflecting on some of the lessons that I have learned while in Haiti:
For instance, when working on a construction site, always know where the shade, closest source of clean water, and your gloves are (right Davin?).
Check your shirt for ants before putting it on, and watch out for geckos on your bathroom wall.
Also, when in Haiti, always be sure to follow the rules of the road. Think playground rules. The biggest kid goes down the slide first. Applied here, the biggest vehicle gets through the intersection first. And the horn should most often be used to let someone know they are in your way, you are passing them, and if they don’t get out of your way, well…remember you’re bigger than they are. They’ll move eventually.
When stuck between a cactus and a 300-pound pig, try not to fall.
“Hey You!” translates into any language.
But most importantly, the lesson I’ve learned is that love can overcome all things. Love breaks down barriers of culture and ideology. You can spend a week working alongside someone who doesn’t even speak the same language, and if you both have a common purpose a love will develop that can last a lifetime. Love will help you through your darkest hours, even through an earthquake and a hurricane. Those that have nothing, but who share love, may just turn out to be the happiest, most content people you will ever meet.
We have all seen love in different ways this week. I have seen it when a stranger gives crackers to a child who has not eaten in days. Then that same child goes out and shares it with his friends because he knows it’s the right thing to do. I have seen it when young men, whose country has been devastated by natural disaster, corruption, poverty, and disease give up their days to work to ensure that others have a roof over their heads. All they get in return is a lunch, but they praise God the entire time. Love is what gives people hope when none can be found.
Love brings people together to work to make the world a better place. And love is what Christ wants us to share with others more than anything else. That is what I learned in Haiti. That is what I will be bringing back with me.
I am grateful to everyone who helped to make this trip possible. I am especially grateful to those who allowed me to journey with them to a place that many wouldn’t dare go, but for an experience that none of us would ever trade. Mesi anpil!
March 11, 2011
Team member Evan is our guest blogger this evening. He brings us a story about the earthquake and an observation about some of the wildlife in Haiti. Our week is winding down, and we are trying to soak up as much as we can. In the meantime, know that we appreciate your support and please leave a comment for the team!
Tonight one the paid interpreters, named Tamare, ate dinner at my table. The Haitians usually eat separately from everyone else, so I took the opportunity to ask her some questions. Tamare lived in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake struck. Her house was still standing afterward, but damaged enough that she had to leave.
She said she used to attend a large church with 1000 members. Apparently, the day before the earthquake, the pastor warned the congregation to stay away from the church the next day. He told them somehow he knew something bad was going to happen. There were around 100 people in their church building the following day that either didn’t get or didn’t heed the warning, and they were killed when it collapsed. Sort of spooky, quite tragic, and possibly symbolic.
Despite there being wide areas of open land, there are few birds here. There are many turkeys, chickens and roosters, but I have literally seen one wild bird here. He was pretty, similar to a goldfinch, but bigger. I wonder if it is too dry. There are birds in deserts, so I am not sure (scarce food supply?). There are not many trees. I read somewhere that over 80% of the country is deforested, so there may not be any habitat for them. – Evan
March 10, 2011
Hello everyone! This is Haley, and I wanted to share a piece of my trip with you all. Today was my second day in the construction crew. Luckily, my construction skills were better today as I learned how to use a shovel to move piles of dirt instead of handfuls and how to stop hammering all of the nails sideways! This was a great improvement from my first day, when I felt like a fish out of water!
Much of what I have learned about construction has been taught by the Haitian volunteers that build with us everyday. One volunteer in particular has taken me under his wing.
He introduced himself to me as “Jude” and then asked me if I knew his dad. I was confused by this question so he asked me again by saying, “You know my dad, Bobby?” I laughed and told him that was my dad and he went on to explain that he knew I was Bobby’s daughter because I was carrying his backpack from last week. He told me Bobby was his dad too, so now he calls me his sister. I told him that made him my brother from another mother. Jude has treated me like a sister ever since.
He helps me when I’m carrying something that is too heavy, he pulls my hair back when I’m trying to hammer and starting to get frustrated, and he reties my tool belt when it’s falling down.
Today we saw four of the cutest puppies you have ever seen. I am a sucker for puppies and knowing the conditions they would endure broke my heart. I told Jude as we were walking down the hill away from them, “I want one of those puppies, Jude!” He stopped in his tracks, said “Ook, I’ll get you one!” and turned around to go back up the hill to get his sister a puppy. I laughed and had to grab him and tell him that although I wished I could have one, I couldn’t actually take one! He then spent the rest of the day working and plotting to get me that puppy!
We end every day together with a hug and a “See you tomorrow sister!” I chose to blog on this story because it is a small testament to the huge hearts of the people we are meeting every day here in Haiti. Though facing conditions that we couldn’t even dream of dealing with, we have met people with the sweetest nature, the greatest attitudes, the humblest of hearts. They are the epitome of what it means to serve the Lord. What I have learned is that what these people lack in materialistic things, they have more than made up for in their rich faith. This is a lesson that has changed my life for the better. We are here to help build hope for Haiti and the people here are helping us build better foundations for our lives! – Haley
Thanks to our guest blogger, Haley, for today’s post! We did have a great Wednesday in Haiti – we woke up to a blustery wind storm, which quickly subsided as we made our way up the mountain to Tapio, the extremely poor village where we worked the first day. We even helped the medical team set up their clinic this morning, because the clinic was also in Tapio – each day the clinic sets up in a different location. We built two houses today, and the second home went to a family of 10. Can you imagine living with 10 people in a 12-by-12 foot room?
We talked about sacrifice today. How many of the Haitians sacrifice what little they have to make sure that their neighbors are taken care of. For example, yesterday, one of our doctors gave a granola bar to an extremely malnourished 12-year-old boy, only to witness him break off pieces of that granola bar to share with his friends. We’ve seen this happen more than once. It really puts your life into perspective.
Haiti certainly stretches all of us. Hopefully our experience will stretch you, too. -Lelia
March 9, 2011
This is Tom Roussey writing today’s update. Lelia wanted me to be an interviewee for a change, so she wrote me some questions that I’m going to answer below.
What do you eat in Haiti?
A lot of good food thanks to our leaders Bobby and Wanda, plus some great Haitian ladies who help Wanda around the house. Haitians love beans and rice, so tonight we ate what they call “deris ak pois,” and it was quite good. They made a meat sauce to put on top of the beans and rice. They grow a lot of good fruits and vegetables here too.
Tell us about the work that you did today.
Today my group mixed cement and helped build concrete walls. We helped build a house a missionary will live in. Tomorrow we will get back to building shelters for folks in the mountains who need them. Meanwhile the medical team went to a church in Titanyen, the town near Port-au-Prince we are staying in. They saw hundreds and hundreds of patients (365 to be exact).
Tell us about the best story that happened today.
I was talking with “Dr. Vlad,” one of the doctors are medical team is working with, at dinner. He told me something very encouraging. Since the earthquake pretty much all we hear about from Haiti is bad news, but he says when it comes to violence, things have actually improved dramatically. He says as a doctor he used to be a prime target for kidnappers, and he would have four armed guards around him at all times. He says they would point their guns at some patients while he saw them. They were afraid the patients were just con men working for the kidnappers. Dr. Vlad says today that’s not necessary, and things have gotten much, much better on the safety front. It was also great just to talk with such a fine, Christian man who is committed to helping his people and showing them Jesus through his actions.
What has been the most shocking thing you’ve seen in Haiti so far?
One thing shocked me in a positive way. On Monday we were in a town in the mountains where most folks were very poor and most didn’t even have four walls on their house. I figured none of the kids got to go to school, but then one boy walks up and says, “Hi, my name is Al, and I go to school.” He was obviously was very smart and spoke excellent English! I think it was God teaching me yet again never to assume things about a group of people, but to get to know them as individuals that He loves. I certainly enjoyed meeting Al.
Thanks so much to Tom for writing tonight’s post! We did split up today – Haley and I went with our medical team to two separate clinics, while Crystal lead the guys from our group to Cite Soleil, one of the most poverty-stricken areas around Port-au-Prince, to mix concrete and lay blocks for what will become a permanent home.
Some of you have asked about the blue tarp-covered homes that we have been working on. One cool thing about Haiti that I’ve already learned is that many of the organizations who are here doing relief work work together. We are providing the labor to build these blue shelters with materials provided by Samaritan’s Purse – so they have sent the materials here to the Global Outreach compound, and some people actually work to pre-fab the walls. They even transport the “kits” (all the wood, tarp and tin roofing) to the sites. So we show up to a plot of land (I think it’s 12×12, but don’t quote me) with our tools, and the materials are there already so we basically just get right to work measuring, cutting, hammering and leveling.
The clinic I went to was held in a church in Titanyen. There isn’t much to designate the difference in a church and any other crumbling building, except for a few pews. For that reason, it was easy to “organize” the patients as they came in. Everything was very orderly – we set up the “pharmacy,” a whole section in front of the church with probably 200 Ziplock bags filled with pills and bottles. Patients moved one by one down the 6 or so pews, until they had their vital signs checked by our nurses (Bethany and Rachel from Charlotte). Then the nurses sent them to another row to wait to be seen by the doctors. The doctors would then write a prescription, and patients were sent to us to get prescriptions. I tried to help the pharmacist, Jennifer, but between deciphering doctor scribble and my very limited knowledge of medicine, I am afraid I didn’t help much.
Haitians don’t really do a ton of smiling or really a lot of facial expressions at all. So when one little girl who was probably 6 months old smiled at me, it made it all worth it. Of course, there was also an 18 month old who started sobbing the moment she looked at me!
We love hearing from all of you. Thank you for thinking of us while we are so far away.
March 8, 2011
Welcome today’s blogger – Crystal W. She gives us her thoughts on Day 1 below. We love hearing from you guys and I read everyone your comments, so keep them coming! One thing I will add is that it does smell like a mix between a zoo and burning trash if you get caught downwind. But right now, there is a fresh, cool breeze flowing off the bay and I’ve only seen one gecko in our room tonight. Also, we do have a medical team staying at our compound as well, and you can read their updates too at http://hopeinhaiti-rachel.blogspot.com/ They will have a little different perspective, but will be fun to follow stories from the clinic as well – including the woman who had a gaping head wound and needed facial stitches first thing this morning. Luckily, the team is very skilled. More to come! -Lelia
Today has been amazing. Below are a few glimpses into what all our first day here in Haiti contained:
The morning started out with eggs and bacon and chores (e.g. laundry, dishes and sandwich making for lunch). Everyone pitched in with the chores, and before long, we were all climbing in the van to head off to the work site.
We picked up several Haitian volunteers on the way to the work site. These volunteers were a great help. They were our teachers and cheerleaders as the houses were built throughout the day.
The work site was up in the mountains, and the gravel road we took was very steep and curvy, so a bit scary at times…but the view looking back at the ocean was amazing. On the way up we shared the road with many donkeys carrying supplies (and/or people) as well as motorcyclists and pedestrians.
The neighborhood children weren’t in school today because of the Carnival holiday, so we had quite an audience at each of the work sites. The children loved to stare at us and attempt to communicate. Needless to say, lots of hand gesturing and laughing took place.
The houses were surprisingly easy to construct. The first one took a bit longer than the other two because everyone was learning what to do, and where they could offer the most help. By the time we got to the second and third house, the construction flowed nicely, we all knew what needed to be done, and what part we could play in making that happen.
After we completed each house, we gathered together to sing “Hallelujah” and pray for the family who would call the house we had just built a home.
It’s really hard to describe all the new sights and sounds and smells that we each experienced today. Needless to say, this is a long way from home, and way outside of our comfort zones. It is hard to play with these children and not think about what sort of future lies before them, but God is good, and he loves each of us, and he will provide. – Crystal