Thursday, June 4, 2015

Haiti - Blufffon University - May 11-29, 2015

May 12, 2015

Yesterday we arrived at the mission center around 5 P.M. We had Haitian Spaghetti for dinner and then we spent time getting adjusted and did some group bonding.

Today we went to one of our mountain schools where we were able to watch the school nurse diagnose and treat some students. Two of our team members from Presbyterian College, Jackie and Jeremiah, got to help her diagnose and suggest some treatment options. After that, we got to play with the kids during their recess. We played soccer, Frisbee, and blew some bubbles and the kids loved it. Once their recess was over, they went back to class and we headed back to the mission center for lunch.

After lunch we hung out at the compound and relaxed for awhile before heading to another school that was closer. We observed the secondary grades in class, toured the clinic the nurse uses and saw the 30 acre farm they use to get fresh produce.

Once we got back to the mission center we had a traditional Haitian meal for dinner of rice & beans, chicken, fried plantains, and some salad. After dinner we relaxed by the ocean and played some games. Overall it was a pretty relaxing day.

May 13

Today we had grits with syrup and butter for breakfast.  We left the mission center around  8 A.M. and traveled around an hour to one of Mission Possible's schools in a rural area.  When we arrived we were greeted by  the children, who were on break.  We played Frisbee and soccer with kids, as well as blowing bubbles for them to pop.  After recess we ate tortilla pepperoni and cheese fillings and the children went back to class.  After lunch the students performed a program for us consisting of several Haitian chants, songs, and prayers.  We sang the hymn Sanctuary in response.  After the program, school ended and we walked with the kids through their village and we able to see the inside of one of the Haitian homes. Afterwards we were driven back to the mission center and relaxed by swimming, reading, and taking naps. We ate traditional Haitian food of chicken, rice, peppers, and beans for dinner.

May 14

Today we saw many things. We stared at the market with oh so many interesting sights, sounds, and smells. It was crowded and hot. We then went to MPCA school just in time for morning recess. We got out the jump ropes, soccer ball, Frisbees, and bubbles. The kids were crazy and very aggressive. They wanted to have the things we brought so it was tough keeping the items and actually trying to play with the kids. Trace and Brittany were able to see their sponsor children. Our nurse Anite opened her clinic and checked about 20 of the students with health problems. Many of them were dealing with eating or hydration issues. We then prepared for some presentations at the Teacher School later this week. After lunch, we were off to St Marc to see the Mission Possible school and church, the Catholic Church, and the hospital. We came back somber after seeing the need for better health care in Haiti. After supper, we sat and talked about the day trying to best process what we had seen and experienced. Pastor Herve shared with us about voodoo and how we can best respond to the needs in Haiti.

It was another hot day. The food was Haitian and good. We ended the day with laughter and games.

May 15

We had an amazing end to our week here! After an incredible pancake breakfast, the team went to our 4th Mission Possible school. To get to this mountain school, we traveled down a gravel road for a little while and then hiked up the edge of the mountain for the rest of the way. The view was gorgeous and as we approached we were greeted with the sound of the children singing. The schools were having a party today to celebrate National Flag Day on Monday, so we were able to observe the festivities that were occurring. We enjoyed getting to know the students while jump-roping and blowing bubbles. As the students ate lunch, we were able to walk through the village on our way back to the truck.

During the afternoon, we went to MPCA and were able to speak to and interact with the elementary teachers. The team began by giving the teachers different exercises and movements to do with the students before the day begins or whenever they need a break from class. Afterwards, we split into groups to talk to the teachers about math and biology. The math group took an in depth look at the concept of triangles and how to utilize different activities to implement it in the classroom. For biology, the muscular system was described and then joints and their functions were broken down. Working with a translator gave the team a new type of interaction with the Haitians. A good time was had by all!

After dinner we were able to visit another local family who is doing community leadership missions. It was great to talk with them and see what their vision is for the local community. We were also able to look at leadership training Mission Possible does with the administration of their schools.

We have learned a lot about the Haitian culture within the last four days and are excited to see what the weekend brings!

May 17

The past few days have been interesting to say the least. Saturday morning began early as we had a 5-6 hour drive to Cap Haitien. The group was on our way to visit Haiti's famous Citadelle (it's a fort). The ride there was bumpy to say the least and Haitian driving is nothing like American driving! In Haiti, honking occurs several times per minute to alert oncoming cars that you're rounding a bend you can't see past or to let the driver of the car in front know that you're about to pass. We arrived at the overnight location to eat a brief lunch of peanut butter on rolled tortillas and cheesey chex mix, then it was off to the mountain that held the Citadelle. We drove the truck two thirds the way up the mountain before it was necessary to walk, but, for some, the sound of riding a horse to the top seemed more appealing. Now, in hindsight, a Haitian horse (which is about half the size of an American horse and much skinnier, not to mention that the saddles used were far less than comfortable especially after the 5-6 hour bumpy ride in the truck,) on an incline/decline sharper than 45 degrees seems pretty crazy, however, I was one of those brave souls determined to get the best experience I can while I'm in Haiti... I rode the horse. Two Haitian men guided each horse to the top. Once there, we were guided through the Citadelle by a lovely Haitian man, Didi, who explained the history and secrets hidden in the Citadelle walls. The journey back down the mountain atop a horse was just as exhilarating as the ride up as being able to see how far down it -really- is shows you just how intimidated you should -really- be, but everyone made it safely... to the parking lot at least! Being white in Haiti is like being a celebrity in America. The Haitians with something to sell swarm before your feet hit the ground because they are all racing for the opportunity to show you their merchandise first. This is the first time we were in any kind of tourist-based area and being bombarded by vendors was nothing we had ever experienced before. The vendors that approach you in the middle of the mall are nothing compared to these people. They are -everywhere-. Anyway, on the truck ride back down the mountain, a few Haitian boys took advantage of our truck and used the back to hitch a ride and we stopped at the bottom to briefly visit the palace, which Didi also guided us through. After this, a few of us bought paintings from a vendor who had offered us a decent deal and then drove back to the mission to verifying that our dinner reservations were made. We then drove to a very high-class Haitian restaurant where we were given the option of beef, chicken, fish, or... wait for it.. goat. Again, I was one of those brave that tried goat. Believe it or not, it's pretty good. The long day definitely took it's toll so, with our bellies full, we headed back to the mission compound for showers, prayers, and a -really- good night's rest. 
Then next morning, we arose rested and ready for Haitian church! We arrived at the church and, with some dismay, realized that the gate to enter was locked, but a little girl ran to get a guard who let us in with no problem and he even had a large spot cleared toward the back of the church so that we might all sit together and with little disruption. The service starts with singing. When Haitians sing, it is the most wonderful sound a person can hear. The songs might be the same we sing in the US, but their voices are filled with so much more fervor and I was filled with the Spirit and lifted so high, I bawled more than once! Then it was time for the dreaded ride back to the Mission Possible compound. Another 5-6 hours and a few stops later, we were back at last! Dinner was soon served (rice with bean paste and some sort of delicious vegetable mush with applesauce) with relaxing and casual fellowship to follow. Then (something we had all been waiting for) vendors came directly to the compound to haggle with us so that we could buy our loved ones souvenirs. Overall, the weekend was eventful and fun (save the bumpy ride) and an experience that I feel I couldn't have gotten anywhere but Haiti.

May 18

Day to rest so...

  • Slept in
  • Breakfast at 8:30
  • It is warm
  • PC Team left at 11:00 to head back home
  • Reading
  • Journaling
  • Games - Multi-person Solitare
  • Lunch
  • It is hot
  • Fly a kite on the beach (drew quite a Haitian audience)
  • Threw and skipped rocks
  • It is hotter
  • Resting
  • Walked to see our new friends Brian and Heather
  • Games - Bananagram, Golf (card game)
  • Blessed with clean clothes drying on the line
  • Supper
  • Saw our frizzard (cross between frog and lizard) friend Leon
  • Reading
  • Journaling
  • It is cooling, a little
  • Discussion of Luke 16:19-31
  • Talking with each other
  • Listening to the sound of the waves on the beach
Thank you God for this day.

May 19

After spending the last week visiting Mission Possible schools and churches, we are switching things up this week and taking a look at the other mission organizations that are at work throughout Haiti. Today we toured the area with Project Help Haiti. We started at their facility that is right down the road from the Mission Possible mission center. We went to their school, but it was not in session.Yesterday was Flag Day in Haiti, so everyone had the day off work and school to celebrate. Today is the day after Flag Day, so everyone gets the day off of work and school to recover from all of the celebration. We took a look around the dorms that they house mission teams in, and then went to take a look at the clinic. Edgar, the assistant director and our tour guide for the day, told us that to get a consultation from one of the doctors at the clinic it costs 50 gourdes (Haitian currency), which works out to be close to a dollar in American money. They had several consultation rooms in the clinic that each had their own doctor. Right across the street was the actual hospital. We also got to walk through this hospital and go through the different rooms. We saw the room where they sterilize all of the equipment, and even got to go into an operating room. This hospital was so much cleaner and well organized than the government hospital that we saw last week. It was amazing to see the difference even in the atmosphere of the two hospitals. The government hospital had an overbearing feel of doom and discomfort, while this hospital today gave off a feel of hope and compassion. We also got to see the center that has been made for children with Type 2 diabetes. Haitians had previously not thought that children could get diabetes, and that children who showed the symptoms had been cursed by some sort of voodoo. We learned about how the children in the program have progressed since starting treatment, and also about the research being done on the number of children with diabetes in different areas of the country. We visited the nursing school that Project Help Haiti runs and looked through the classrooms and at the new construction being done. We then drove to Project Help Haiti's main campus in Borel. Here they have many different things. This is where their main school is, along with dorms where teams stay, as well as for when they hold large conferences. We also got to see The Water Project and how the filters are built. This is a project to provide safe water in Haiti. The filters put the water through layers of sand and stone to filter out anything bad in the water. We also saw the welding shop where students get hands on experience with fixing and building things. We then went to see the large soccer field and basketball court that have been constructed for the community to use. The group played hangman together while we waited on our ride back to the compound. Upon returning "home" most of us took advantage of our last opportunity to swim in the ocean while we are here. Afterwards we had a nice Haitian dinner of beans and rice, plantains, picklies, and chicken. The rest of the evening was spent playing card games and packing all of our things. Tonight is the last night that we will spend at the mission center as we move on to other parts of the country tomorrow.

May 21

We've had a great time at HIS Home for Children the past couple days! The team has been able to interact with the 1-6 year olds pretty regularly and we were able to visit the three homes which are part of the orphanage (girls home, boys home, and home for special needs children). The experiences we have had with these children and the first-hand situations we have heard about demonstrate how loved by God these children are. Another activity we have been able to do with the students is to help them complete a coloring page for the HIS Home 300. This is a 300 mile bike ride that serves as a major fundraiser to support the children at the orphanage. We are so grateful to our hosts for providing us this experience the past couple days. The experience has formed some great memories that will stick with us for a long time! We're all safe and healthy and look forward to the experiences we will have over the next few days!

May 23

We had another really good day in Haiti.  Today we traveled to Deyemon which is about 7-8 hours west of Port-Au-Prince.  We arrived with only a few wrong turns along the way, but we are all doing well.  The kids were playing soccer as we arrived and seemed excited to see us.  The weather is cooler since Deyemon is up in the mountains.  We are getting situated and will be getting ready to eat dinner soon.

May 25

Sunday we had a great day at Deyemon.  We went to two church services in the morning and the evening where we heard messages on Nehemiah.  These services were both several hours long and included music and a lot of energy.  The message in the evening was on repairing relationships. There were several people that agreed they needed to work on or repair relationships.  Many of these people came up and requested prayer.  Also on Sunday we spent a lot of the day relaxing and had some down time to play soccer and jump rope with the kids.  

Today (Monday) in the morning we did special seminars in the school on hand washing and hygiene.  First with the preschool to 3rd grade students in the morning where they asked a lot of good questions.  In the afternoon we did the same presentation for the  4th through 6th graders. The older kids will get a more interactive presentation since they’ve probably heard most of the info before.

Everyone is doing really well though and the weather up in the mountains is much more pleasant. It's still warm, but not as hot as Port-Au-Prince.  We are having a good trip though and everyone is chipping in to help.  We are looking forward to a good week, but we miss everyone back at home.

May 27

Tuesday we had different sessions in the classes at the school.  We reviewed the information about germs and hand-washing. We also taught a bible lesson from Matthew 18 (and Luke 15) about parable the 100 sheep and if one wanders, Jesus cares about the one. The lesson highlighted that each one is important in God’s eyes. Pastor Wilfred encouraged a response, an invitation, and several wanted to reunify with God.  There are about 8-9 students that Pastor Wilfred will follow up with based on the responses.

Last night, some kids came to the area and the team played soccer and Frisbee with them.  Today, Wednesday, we will be doing some teacher training since the Deyemon teachers are not able to attend the teacher training in Montrouis. Brittany, Megan and Kristen will be leading. They will cover different teaching techniques and lesson prep ideas.  The other students will be interacting with the kids during recess time. 

Tonight we planned to go on some prayer visits with Pastor Wilfred, but the rain cancelled our plans. Tomorrow we return to Port-Au-Prince and Friday we will fly home.  The weather has been good and we have seen God at work every day. Thank you for your continued prayers!

May 28

Today we traveled back to Port-Au-Prince to stay at the OMS facility.  We left early from Deyemon and arrived around 12:30pm in Port-Au-Prince.  The rest of the day we will spend reflecting and getting a little rest at the OMS facility before we make the long trip back to Ohio.  Everyone really enjoyed the trip while being very flexible.  We will miss Haiti, but are looking forward to travelling back to the states to see our families and friends.  Please keep us in your prayers as we journey home and make the transition.

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