Monday, March 28, 2011

Haiti 2011

Well, let me start by apologizing for taking so long to write this. I don't have a good excuse. It took me a good week to get back on track, and then life got rolling again. Anyway, it's not because it wasn't a good trip, nor because it didn't affect me!

All things considered, it was an uneventful trip! I can say that because my last trip to Haiti involved a 7.0 earthquake. So, anything compared would be uneventful, right? Haiti is quite a place. As Dr. Kornblatt, one of my traveling companions keeps saying, it's not a trip for the faint of heart. He also says that Haiti is a place that attacks all of your 5 senses the moment you step off the plane. He is right. It's a tough place to look at, to listen to, to smell, to hear and to touch. It is mostly a place of stark contrasts. And I think we almost might not see the beauty if it weren't for the hard things.  God's creation is so good, and Haiti is no exception. However, it is very apparent what sin and corruption can do to God's beautiful creation.

Here I am on the beach our first morning in Haiti. We arrived in Port Au Prince in the late afternoon on Friday. After the usual chaos that is baggage claim (it's actually improved a bit since last time) we rode with Chad, a missionary friend, to his family's guest house, about 30 miles up the coast. From the moment you get into a vehicle in Haiti, you can feel the Lord's hands on you. We take for granted in our country, the fact that people will generally stay on their side of the road. There are so many rules that we obey here, and we can trust that most everyone else will do the same. Not in Haiti!! And I think that the Lord gives missionaries called to Haiti a special element of danger and risk-taking, so they won't be afraid to drive there! From what I can tell, there aren't any road rules in Haiti, just honk loudly! The Haitians say, you don't need brakes in Haiti, just a horn! Anyway, we arrived safely at the Guest House, a beautiful, quiet place very close to the beach, beautiful views. The Guest House was a great place for us to rest up for our adventure on the island of LaGonave.
We boarded a ferry after breakfast that would take us and all our medical supplies over to the island of LaGonave. (I can't post all the pictures here, but if you'd like to see them all, you can check out my facebook page.) The above pic is of the mainland just after we pulled away from the wharf. Funny story about the wharf, we waited about 3-4 hours for the ferry to leave, waiting for them to fill up enough, I guess. In Haiti, there really aren't any schedules.

While on LaGonave, we stayed in a guest house run by a Haitian lady named Mme. Fifi. This was an adventure! Let's just say there were "facilities" but I use that term loosely! Anyway, it was our base for the next three days. On Sunday we rode up the mountain for about 2 hours to our first clinic. It was held after the church service, in the church/school. After church, Pastor Ben took us on a 4x4 Mule ride around the island of LaGonave. What a beautiful place, like a paradise, until you see all the trash on the beach. So sad. It's fun to drive around there, like a roller coast that last a lot longer than usual! And without safety harnesses, etc. :) What a wild ride! The houses along the water are much the same as anywhere else in Haiti. One room shacks, with lots of people living in them. All the little children come running out when they hear a vehicle, and start shouting, "Blan, Blan!!" which means white, when we drive by.

We spent the next two days doing much the same thing, without the fun ride around the island. On Monday, we saw two groups at one school, because the other school was too difficult to reach by truck. This is definitely a relative thing...since the roads we DID go on were too difficult to ride on by our standards! But thankfully, God's standards are not ours, and He guided our truck up those mountains with ease!

We handed out bags to all the children and adults that we saw. Bags with hygiene items in them, toothbrushes, toothpaste, skin cream, tylenol, tums, vitamins, and small toys for the children. Everyone we saw also got worm medicine. Intestinal worms is so rampant there because the lack of clean water. We also saw a few people with colds, bronchitis, ear infections, high blood pressure, and some other ailments. It's amazing how much we can take for granted the fact that we can just go to the doctor when we are sick. That is just not an option in Haiti. Some of these children had had fever and earache for a week. Imagine your child being so uncomfortable, and not even having tylenol to give them?

The school we went to on Monday is the school where our family's sponsor child attends. I was able to meet him, and hug him and tell him that we are praying for him and his family. He was very sweet, shy, and a little overwhelmed I think. It would be a neat blessing to be able to go back and see him again, to see him grow. It makes it so real for us now, when we think of him and pray for him, that we can put a face and a place with a name.

On Wednesday, we headed back to the mainland on the ferry again. This time, it left pretty much on time, and we were able to watch the sunrise over the mainland, beautiful. It's such a gift to be able to still see God's beautiful creation amidst all the suffering and hardship in Haiti. It reminded me that God's mercies are like the sunrise, new every morning. We spend the rest of Wednesday, with Pastor Ben and his family, at a beachside resort. It was breath-taking. For a few minutes, I almost forgot where we were.

Our trip home on Friday was smooth. It was soooo good to be home. First on the agenda for me was a nice tall glass of water...with ICE! (Ice in Haiti is hard to come by.)

Overall, this was a great trip! As my friend, Brian says, not a trip for the faint of heart! Haiti is a rough place. Why did I go? Because God called me to. :)

Thank you all for your prayers and support!

Keep praying for the country of Haiti, for the people of Haiti, that Christ's love will abound!

In Christ's Service,
Danielle <><

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