Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Patience is a virtue

The air was hot and muggy. The all too familiar smell of exhaust assaulted my senses, it was hour two of waiting for the containers to arrive at the warehouse. It seems like life in Haiti models the same kind of wait people get back home, hurry up and wait. Life in North America is busy and many people get frustrated about the time spent in line-ups and in waiting rooms. I hear comments of “my time is worth is money” “it is disrespectful to make me wait” “ why do they schedule appointments every ten minutes” and so forth. But to read between the lines for most people it is the fact that they have their own schedules too full. Their day is so regimented by the day timer that time makes their world go around. In Haiti an event centered culture waiting is inevitable. So far today we had waited two hours for the containers to arrive at the warehouse that would be the sorting point for smaller trucks to deliver the relief up the mountain. The entertainment from our roadside perch was free, small pickups laden down with more than they could carry, sparks and scraping sounds as they exited the driveway. I could not imagine how they would ever make their destination point but was reminded this is a daily occurrence.

Large container trucks unloaded rice, beans, spaghetti; flour, corn meal, and then ladies carried what they could on their heads and smaller vehicles lined up. Now I suppose by hour two we had created a small interruption as many that had seen us when they went in, saw us still sitting from our corner perch hours later. Praise the Lord John was able to park the truck under a huge flamboyant tree. We had been fed, watered and were shaded what more could we need? For me waiting was not as bad as for some, it was 35 degrees C or 102 degrees F and the air seemed heavy. There were grim reminders of the earthquake, fallen buildings, and papers from a filing cabinet of people that had applied for jobs there in I1. There were security fellows with guns at every building and at every corner, which in hindsight maybe the one fellow thought he should stick around and see that we were kept safe as he stayed all day.

Today we saw…

- a vehicle from Doctors without Borders with a truckload of boxes marked MAGIC…not sure but would be pleased to accept guesses or real answers to what was really in all the boxes

- a vehicle without a windshield

- a truck called at JMC, not a GMC

- A Brinks truck full of ….money ???

- a water truck with “made with reverse osmosis” painted on the side

- trucks with every scripture verse written on them you could imagine

- a man with a wheelbarrow of 7 UP in glass bottles full one way, empty on the return trip.

- a huge assortment of t shirts in English…”I attended the inauguration of Barrack Obama” my fave.

If nothing else people gave us big smiles, there were more bugs then up at the mission, and we bonded as a group over the real appreciation for reliable vehicles. Our day could best be summed up by the painting on one truck “Pale M’ap Travay” roughly translated you sit and talk and I am working. Yep, he was working and we just sat and watched the world go by, discussing once every hour the situation and the need for patience. At 330pm over four hours later when the warehouse was closing, we went home, no containers had arrived….maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

He sustains me in my weakness....

The view from our bedroom balcony.

Most days it seems like our morning devotions are written exactly for us. One day over a year ago the editor prepared the script, the publisher printed it and the distribution people sent out the monthly devotions by mail. So why is it that every day it is exactly what I need to hear? This week in Haiti we went from cooler temperatures in the day up at Fort Jacques to warm humid, pray the air would move nights while sleeping. Parties with loud music, babies crying, dogs barking and the horn honking that goes until late at night was interrupted last night with pouring rain. Now I ache for those in the tent cities but for one night I was selfish and thanked God for the pounding rain on the tin roof to lull me to sleep. Jussi is a sleeper and I suppose that it makes it worse when minutes, literally minutes after his head hits the pillow he is fast asleep. After fifteen years one would think I could be happy for him but honestly it makes me crazy. So this morning as I read about selfishness, I retreated to the ache I feel when it rains for those in tents and for humbleness so I would not covet Jussi’s sleeping pattern. Yes my desire to sleep solidly though the night can only parallel the opportunity to eat a huge plate of Nachos, covered in cheese, served with sour cream and black bean and corn salsa. Add the chance to sip a single grande skinny vanilla latte, mmm. See I had to write it to bring the smile to my face, and to realize I had something to be thankful for….my imagination! I could taste it, I could smell it and for a few short moments I no longer missed two of my favorite things. Now back to my selfishness.

I am so thankful that God uses simple object lessons to show me again and again the same lessons. I am also thankful that He understands my imperfections and can gently put me to a place where my heart and spirit line up with my brain and I want for nothing. As I head off to church today I pray that I am able to fully comprehend the message that He has prepared in advance for me to hear. When I forget, which happens often, that He has sent me here for a purpose, I will remember that selfishness is not from God nor does it serve any purpose. I need to be able to give of myself and realize that with every beat of my heart there is no place I would rather be, sleep or no sleep, nachos, or no nachos, lattes or not. Recognition in my human capacity can carry me only so far and although some situations sap every drop of my energy, I can draw on the endless well of Holy Spirit power. So today as I banish selfishness and the “what about me” and what I want and desire attitude, may my weakness give God glory. Only He could take a child like me imperfect and head strong and top up my energy, fuel me with sleep, give me dreams of nachos and lattes and teach me once again that He sustains me. How cool is that!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mouse Golf

I have discovered a new sport....mouse golf. Now don't get me wrong, I cried during Stuart Little, luv Mickey Mouse and mostly think that mice are not so bad running around the farm. Change the location though and mice need to FEAR ME! As I was sorting boxes a wee mouse jumped out of a box of clothes, now if he had stayed hidden he may just still be living in a warm box of clothes but...he decided to make multiple appearances. This was not my idea of a happy place. So every time I sorted a box I kicked it first and he ran out. So by the time I needed to move a bunch back to the other side of the room I enlisted my big strong husband! As he was moving them voila there he was again. This time I had no mercy. I grabbed a broom and told him to scare him my way and I golfed him right out the open door! I was so pleased, and thankful for growing up a tomboy who played hockey. Now they are going to build me my own hockey stick...cause mice live in community....enough said. Yesterday's went for a swim, today I am a wee bit tired but ready to do what needs to be done. So if you have a hankering to save every last mouse send me your thoughts and I will read and laugh then box the next one and send it to you! Check out the new site for GLA...I have been a week cleaning and grouting the bathroom, today I seal everything and Jussi has been building closets, one more day for him.

New skills....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

His Feet

Daily in Haiti we have heard that life goes on. The last week I have been cleaning and sorting and organizing, vague reminders of the earthquake…dust. We saw the images on TV following the quake of the huge cloud of dust hovering over the city, that fine dust is on everything. Now imagine your furniture, figurines, plants, dishes, lamps, light fixtures and every surface in your house covered. It has been a week of washing and knowing that there is no job too big or too small in the kingdom. At one point as I was washing and polishing the wooden carvings, I had a small toothbrush and was cleaning the grooves on the faces, hair, crevices, hands and toes and it was at this moment that I realized the humbleness that I felt in what I was doing. There are a few beautiful statues of Haitian men working, ladies carrying baskets, soapstone carvings of moms with babies, depictions of daily life in Haiti but the ones that brought me to my knees were the few of Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus and Jesus, As I knelt beside the statue of Jesus cleaning the sandals and between his toes I was almost brought to tears at the opportunity that I had been given. You see we had come to Haiti to help with containers and distribution but we had said we would do whatever needed to be done. We wanted to be a blessing. God had put so many pieces of a puzzle together for us to be able to be in Haiti in less than a month we knew He had a plan. Before we came many times he spoke to us through others, in sermons, through songs and one of the common threads was to go with a servant heart. Six weeks after our first meeting with Pastor Scott asking for his advice on us going for a short-term assignment, I was curled up on a floor of a busy room completely unaware of the people coming and going. Did I ever think that God was calling me to Haiti to dust LOL? For those that know me, you can laugh, as back home dusting is something I hate. In fact over the years I have limited the knick-knacks to a minimum so that it isn’t so obvious when company arrives they are covered in dust.

But all of that is thrown out the window when it comes to Haiti, it is not about me and what I have to do, it is about what needs to be done. Dusting aka washing needed to be done. You see as I washed and wood polished the many beautiful carvings, I prayed that others would get to feel the blessing I felt at the exact moment. My heart was overflowing with love for people, my spirit was lifted and I wondered as I washed the symbolic feet of Jesus how we could be so blessed to be here in Haiti. Carving after carving, including Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus, I lovingly cleaned, polished and placed back on the shelves. It took all day sitting on the floor washing away the dust of the earthquake from the treasures that had been collected or given to GLA as gifts over the years. The reminders of the earthquake are still evident almost everywhere you look, but God has shown me that every little thing we can do each day is another learning experience for us. It is not about what I can do for GLA but what God is doing in me. As I sit here early Sunday morning I am listening to the sounds outside the window of life going on in Haiti. The sounds of pots banging, birds bantering back and forth, a stray dog barking at something, children waking, women chatting amongst themselves and the smell of coffee coming from downstairs and I smile. Before we left home I was given a prophetic word “believe and trust in the small things I will place in your hands for big things.”

Humbled once again to be here in Haiti, and trusting for all things. C

One of the sweet babies here at GLA

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Donaldson's Story

I mentioned before the stories of triumph that we have heard stories of people carrying on and working to make a better place for their families and of miracles. Today I want to share the story of Donaldson. He is a beautiful little boy who lives with his mom. She lives now in a small metal structure that has been built after the quake from the tin that was on her roof. Her house or the remains of it that we can see, was built using cement block with a small ratio of cement per block. Here in Haiti the norm can be 30 – 70 blocks of cement per bag of cement. Missionaries have told me that they build 21 to 24 blocks per bag. Some say 30 is the norm, but then others say 50 and sometimes as many as 70 blocks per bag can be made and sold. Add to this the construction needs of re bar in the blocks for stability and it is obvious that the house on the hill had very little re bar for reinforcement. We visited Donaldson and his mom to see the site of one of God’s little miracles from the rubble. When the earthquake hit Donaldson was in the house sleeping. His mom was outside, when she realized that the baby was buried under the rubble, she cried for help and people from all around came. They dug with their hands; with small hand tools to make-work faster and everyone prayed that somehow a miracle would happen. God hears the prayers of His people. Donaldson was found under the rubble, completely scratch free. As we were told the story I realized how scared his mom was from the look in her eyes. I realized that long after he has been dug out from the rubble, Donaldson is not the same happy little boy. Behind his careful watching eyes, a little person struggles to understand the enormity of his situation. His mom has rebuilt a small sleeping space on her land, a small cooking space and now works to try and give him the basics of life. Donaldson underneath his wide brimmed hat, has the telltale signs of malnutrition, poor skin, and a reddish tinge to his hair. His mom is being given food and formula now as part of the distribution. God hears their prayers and He is watching over them, today Donaldson is here because of a miracle.

Pending story and pcis
Pending story and pcis

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rising from the rubble...stories of His provision

In Haiti rising from the rubble of post earthquake are stories of triumph, stories of tears, people working together and people struggling to comprehend where to go but holding their heads up and carrying on. There are the stories of giving, of receiving, the telling and re telling of amazing rescues and many times how each day is a gift. Today a lady I had met a few days ago was asking me if we were going home today. I told her no, but that had to make a call and I would return and tell her which day we were to leave the Villa. When I returned a few minutes later she was in tears. I told her I was sorry I had to make the call, and asked her to tell me what was wrong. She had told me that she considered me a friend, and had practiced her best English and told me “ I love you pretty baby girl”. I asked her to tell me what I could pray for her, and she shared her husband had died and one of her children was still in the hospital. I understood it to be a grown child, but I also understood the power of motherhood protection, and the love that I have for my husband. She was in her late sixties and so I sat with her for a while, listening to the story of a child sick, and a husband lost. I listened to her anguish as she shared how the blocks had hit her in the shoulder, back and leg but she was saved with little pain. I told her that I would continue to pray for her and that I would tell her story to my friends back home and they too would pray for her broken heart and her family. I read to her from my Creole bible Psalm 133. She told me she would pray for me and that because I had brought her a cup of coffee one morning when she was tired from traveling, that she will remember me. I smiled to myself because the exact opposite story had happened to me.

On Saturday morning (just after I had brought her coffee) we hiked up the mountain to meet some people and distribute tools and food that had been given by another team. We left from the Villa on foot and by the time we got to the first goat path I thought, well not so bad, need to pace myself LOL. After taking a wee detour to look at some property we finished our hike and sat and took in the beauty of the view. Flushed red from heat and exercise I am sure I looked rough, but the people were waiting, so the work began. After giving out baby formula to moms, rice, beans, and spaghetti to families, we gave out the tools, all the names from a list that had been made before we arrived. It was a great time to be the hands of those that had given money and not been able to come to Haiti to see the families it had helped.

I spoke with a few people and asked to see their gardens, went further up the mountain, took pictures and received a few stories to write about. (pics and stories later this week) We gathered up our packs, said goodbye, and shared that we would pray that we could come back sometime in the future and that we would leave that in God’s hands. Just as we were leaving an older women motioned for us to stop at her tarp shelter. She had beautiful strong eyes, weathered lines on her face from hard work in the sun, hands that told the story of a life with very little, and a large toothy smile. She wanted to give us a present of bananas but I worried that she had so little. I needed to remember don’t take away her blessing.

Further down the road we stopped for a drink and I realized after hours of hiking I was a little sugar low and needed something to eat. Imagine my happiness when I realized we had fresh bananas! As we neared the Villa I was so thankful for the snack that I asked Bab if he could take some money to her for us. I asked him to tell her the story how God used her to give me a snack when she had so little, and that I needed it. I wanted her to know that the Lord had blessed her with this money because of her faithfulness and that He would care for her, if she cared for others. I was a bit teary at the thought of what had just happened, and in turn we blessed one of the ladies from across the road from the mission with the extra bananas. I thought the day could not get any better but then I hear two days later that the small job of getting up from the table and getting someone a cup of coffee had multiplied the blessing. I pray for both these women that it will be like the story of Zarephath and her handful of flour that God multiplied because she gave. (1Kings 17 v 10- 16)

I would like to dedicate this story to a friend from work named Bill that told me weeks ago before I left that he wouldn’t go to Haiti but was glad that going to Haiti was my thing. Bill passed away suddenly on Saturday from a brain aneurysm; please pray that God will give his wife and family peace and comfort at this time, and join me in thanking God that going to Haiti is MY thing!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Water Baptism

It was a sound that reminds me of the bible stories of choirs of angels that filled the air early in the morning. I thought it was the sound of a neighboring church but when we stepped outside to go to breakfast there surrounding the pool of the mission were people getting baptized and their families. There were about 50 plus getting baptized wearing white and a choir of ladies leading songs between each person, the families, church members, a tall striking man with grey hair, a kind face and a huge smile, he was the Pastor and along with his church elders, had entered the pool. It was an uplifting experience as we sat and watched person after person committing their lives and it made me think of some of the differences in our home church.

In Haiti – they sing hymns between the people,

In Canada – we clap and cry and sound like we are at a soccer game…cheering

In Haiti – the baptisms need to be done often because there are so many people wanting to be baptized

In Canada – we may have ten or more, gathered over a few months, could you imagine if we had 50 plus everytime! The cheering would be like the last Olympic hockey game.

In Haiti – everyone wears white and dress up to look their best that is cultural here

In Canada – we wear something more casual

In Haiti – being wrapped in a large white sheet by your family follows the symbolism of the water and the white dress

In Canada – the symbolism of the commitment is captured on video and forever by cameras

All and all we share the celebration, we share the prayers, and we share the singing and the thankfulness as God smiles down in Haiti, in Canada and across the world. United in one belief, one God and for the glory of Him. I spoke to a few after they had been baptized and wished I could have spoke to more, so many were excited they spoke so fast, I could hardly keep up. Many rejoiced when one lady who started speaking in tongues after her baptism, praised the Lord and danced around. One lady cried and shouted until they asked her to be quiet because she was so happy her husband had accepted Jesus and today had been baptized. She had prayed for him and God answered her prayers. So you see it is not that much about the similarities or the differences. I had forgotten I was in Haiti. I sat and just watched teary eyed and excited for each person and family and for every one of my new brothers and sisters. Singing songs of praise, shouts of praise and giving Him glory, a final prayer was read to signal the end of the service. As everyone returned to where ever they had come from, I came to understand that the day was not the same for me after that. The spirit of thankfulness had reminded me where I was, and the purpose in our coming; the people. I was able to see things through new eyes, His eyes. From that moment on I did not look at crumbled buildings as buildings but as the place where if walls could talk would tell of miracles, suffering, and even death. But walls that knew someone somewhere, was still praying for the people of Haiti.

Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His, we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all the generations.

With nothing left but the shirts on their backs in many cases, the people of Haiti are praising the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness!

So much to think about……C

I sad reminder of the walls that come down and the resilience of the people. Please continue to pray for Haiti and the many organizations that are working here.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Yesterday we had another first, riding on a Haitian bus filled with loud music blaring and bodies crammed in like sardines, some hanging out the door, and some on the roof. Collectively I think we were 50 altogether, smiling and excited to be going to the beach. We heard the children early as their excitement forced many to rise before the sun and their excited giggles were sweet incense of the day to come. Karly had said one child said she was afraid to go to sleep in case she didn’t wake up and miss beach day, and another said he would never sleep, he would just wait up until morning. We were excited but not as much as the kids.

The morning brought the making of kettles of food, containers of plates and cups, an Igloo cooler full of juice, chocolate chip cookies and enough chicken to feed an army. Little did we know we were taking an army? We loaded the food, the coolers for water and ice (we bought along the way a huge chunk on the side of the road) we loaded the children and when we thought we are full, we couldn’t possibly fit another, and we loaded twelve more. In Haiti we ask how many people fit in a tap tap and the answer is “one more”. So loaded to the max, three extra big boys (LOL) on the roof, two more big boys (aka young men) hanging out the door and off we went.

The drive was about two hours, the kids well behaved and the music blaring…..okay that might have been the one thing I could have done without! We arrived at the beach and everyone changed, although the earthquake have flattened the wall and most of the buildings, there was a wee wall for the girls to change behind and one for the boys. A few of the mom’s came along for supervision and to help with feeding the group. In the morning when we arrived we ate cold spaghetti with ketchup is a Haitian regular meal. Jussi who has never in his life eaten cold pasta, ate it, smiled and said what happens in Haiti stays in Haiti. In other words I guess I still cannot get him to eat pasta salad at home!

Soccer games, skipping, games of checkers, and visiting with each other for a bit then it was time to hit the water. Literally hit was a good word, if we had paid for splashing it would have cost an arm and a leg. Many of the children could not swim so the big boys stayed in waist deep and kept guard aka a splash zone. The small ones played in the sand.

We went swimming and then lunch of rice and beans, veggies, fried bananas and the army of chicken. I think most of everything was consumed and Carline also fed a few young neighborhood children that arrived after hearing all the noise. More swimming and just after 4pm we piled into the bus again, tired and half dry, they cranked on the music and most of the little ones fell asleep. It was a great day and we wished we could do it again. For one day the kids forgot about life without school, life in a tent city and the fear of aftershocks. Tired, hot and dusty from the ride home we savored the little things like a bottle of coke and a fan in our room!

PS School all over Port Au Prince is supposed to resume Monday, PTL!

A Big thanks came from all the kids as well as prayer thanking God for their day and to bless those that had made it possible. Jussi and I say thanks as well. PS Sorry for the little photos, internet here is jammed with dozen plus computers and I cant' seem to stay connected...I get bumped off all the time...anyone know a fix??

Friday, April 9, 2010

Haiti Today

It never ceases to amaze me how the day can go by so fast. But again another day is coming to a close. Jussi is having a ti domi (little nap) and T Mac is playing with a toy on the bed, just having some downtime with Nana.

Many of the families in Port live in tent cities, some in large army style tents, some in small homemade tents made with tarps, Rotary Shelter boxes, Red Cross and World Vision and every NGO that you can think of. What really has struck me is how they look somewhat un-inhabited by day but in the evening after all the people finish selling their wares, working or finding work, or just waiting for opportunities, return the cities come alive. One small tent city is next door with our Haitian son Karly and his family. They have a family house, an old travel trailer, free of doors and windows, Shelter box tents, homemade structures laced with tarps, camping tents and everything else in between. I am astounded at the resisilence of the people. They are putting out laundry, raking, sweeping, organizing food, braiding heads of hair, bathing and watching over each others children. Many stories have been told in the last few days and I will write of the individual stories on the weekend. Now I want to talk about the rebuild, what is going on now and the pulse of the city.

- people still need food..

- line ups take all day in the blazing sun and some never make it close enough to get anything so they return the next day in hopes to be further up the line.

- water is being supplied, in most tent cities with large yellow bladders, almost like a hot water bottle shape

- many work to clean up rubble in bright yellow shirts

- many buildings are abandoned or have for sale signs on them

- large equipment has invaded the tiny streets and works tirelessly

- the airport is abuzz with tons of teams coming and going

- Canadian and American military are still evident

- The UN is also visible everywhere

- Churches have cropped up in tents and a shingle hangs on a nail announcing service times

- Adoptions and legal paperwork for clearing containers is happening

- Medical is available

- And as always you can buy almost anything on the side of the road, including MANGOES.

Today in Leogane, the epi center of the quake and one of the hardest hit areas, I took some pictures. The pics show the other kind of tent cities, the non organized, tent cities made from bed sheets, banana leaves woven together and pieced together plastic.

My heart is so burdened for these people, they have nothing left, all that they have fits in a tiny 5 x 5 shelter that is not waterproof and has water running all around them. My heart breaks for the lady I saw sitting outside the ruins of her house, it is a pile of rubble, a small tarp comes off one corner of the crumbled house and a small child plays on a mattress. She has a pile of mangoes in front of her for sale. I pray that I don’t take anything for granted including time, in seconds her life changed forever. I also cry for the images of those building that obviously people were trapped in, and if the story were told someone was saved, or someone was lost. The final images of the new shelters, we saw Helping Hands for Haiti signs, not sure the actual distributor. These houses are apparently just over $2000 USD per house and go up in two days, and they are pre fab pieces made here in Haiti. That is win win.

Tomorrow I will write about our beach day with over 39 kids from the neighborhood…now that was fun! Thanks for you prayers and the love that you are showing through your home churches in giving and in prayer. Blessings, C

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pinch ME ...I am dreaming... this has been a day of happiness

It is a boy...YEAH..Christopher, born yesterday at noon, 6 lbs, 6 ozs, baby brother for Samuel. This is today just after lunch, so about 1 day old. I am over the top, and yes Gill I kissed him once for me and once for you...and his momma too!
After many years of heartbreak and going through the loss of their last baby with them when we lived here, today holding him was more than I could have imagined!

It is late and I am tired, preparing for our arrival in Port and tomorrow we are looking at a few more wells in communities and taking some pictures of their locations. Our Haitien grandson called tonight and said I love you Nana, can you imagine...what a day I have had....I told him in creole I loved him too and then his mom and dad could not get him off the phone...LOL

Reconnecting with friends here and there and now the night time rain, deafens me on the tin roof....but home here in Saccinville just in time to get my laundry off the line!
Good night from Haiti...

Monday, April 5, 2010

A great day...praise the Lord for HIS blessings.

We are great, without internet for most days. Just celebrated Jussi's birthday with friends. Have had amazing days, Easter Sunday sunrise service, going here and there visiting and reconnecting. It has been amazing! Today was even better a good friend had her baby. So a new baby boy in Haiti, after seven years for them he truly is a little miracle. Please pray for the Emile family as they welcome this new little addition. The doctor thought I was impatient, apparently the Haitians do not pace! Jonathon was so calm as he waited, not me! A great day visiting so many people that we worked with and hugging one after another. Both of us smiling...two more days until Port au Prince...thanks for all your prayers. Traveling in this country is so difficult, and here in the north there are so many people that have moved here since the earthquake the roads are soooooo jammed. Tomorrow I get to hold the baby and will post up pictures!
Blessings to all of you, smiling.....