Isaiah 30:21 - Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!! It's hard to believe it's been over a month since my last post.  Time passes like the wind here; before you know it the month jumped from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  So much has happened, and I really should try and be better about updating, so I'll make that my New Year's resolution.
I stayed in Haiti for Christmas.  Part of me wanted to come home and visit, but the other part of me wanted to stay and experience what Christmas was like here.
On Thursday, we had a school Christmas play and party for the kids and their parents.  Though some are truly orphans, many have at least one living parent.  Teri, the school's principal, and I weren't quite sure how many parents would show up but we were pleasantly surprised when we went into the church and saw that it was full.  In true Haitian style, we started late but it was worth it.  The classes sang several songs and put on several skits.
Joel as Joseph and Magalie as Mary.
The scene right before Joseph found
out he was going to be a father.
One of the kids asked how Santa would come to Haiti since they had no roofs here.  I think I told him he uses the door.  It's funny how some things are universal for kids everywhere like Santa, or Chris Brown and Beyonce.  (The neighborhood kids asked me if I had met them). Back home when I was young I remember trying to stay up as late as I could to get a peek at Santa.  Much to my chagrin for the first 9 years of my life I never did catch a glimpse of him.

Sanette, Teri, Me, and Marthe after
the Christmas party
For Christmas, Mike and Laurie, a couple from Canada spending the week with us, treated Elsie and me to a nice relaxing day at Club Indigo.  It was absolutely gorgeous out with bright sunny blue skies and temperatures in the 80s and I remember thinking as I was sitting on the beach overlooking the Caribbean that it was hard to believe that it was actually Christmas day.  It was a blessing to have a relaxing and rejuvenating day.  Sister Gladys and Pastor Henry couldn't have summed up when they said:

Canaan Christian-Community Even if we don't get to see each other at Christmas, you still have a special place in our thoughts and hearts.
A time of joy, a prayer for peace and the gift of hope and a heart full of love.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas!
Gladys and Henri and all the kids at Canaan

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Today is Black Friday.  A year ago I was sitting in my aunt’s house shopping online for Christmas gifts.  This year, I’m sitting on a couch in Haiti watching Teri kill the multitudes of spiders we have everywhere with a fly swatter.  Did I think I would be in the spot a year ago?  Not at all, but it’s amazing how God orchestrated the whole thing.  We had Thanksgiving dinner here last night complete with Turkey, the biggest turkey legs I have ever seen, chicken, ham, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, salad, cranberries, stuffing, gravy, rice and beans, fried plantains, pumpkin pie and probably one or two other dishes I don’t remember since there were so many.  I don’t come from a large family and this was also the largest number of people I have ever spent Thanksgiving with, think the Cosby show, plus the Brady Bunch, plus the Waltons, times 10.   Canaan was honoring M. Gerard Jean, one of the teachers in the school, who had been teaching for the past 30 years or so. The night was complete with several skits by the school and songs by the choir.  Hardly a day goes by before something happens and I think to myself God really has his hand on this place.  Last night was just another example of God’s blessing here.

They like Mamba too

This past Tuesday was a slow day for Mamba.  It was also a gorgeous day outside, breezy around 80 which felt like a cold front swept in compared to the normal high of 90s. The weather sometimes can be a deterrent for coming but Sarah, the lady that runs Clean Water in Pierre Payan, said it wasn’t raining so the Mamba kids should come.  It’s Thanksgiving week here at Canaan but the holiday isn’t recognized in Haiti so we knew that wasn’t the reason.  In any case, by 10 we had seen all the kids that had come so far and decided to go next door to check in on the new clinic’s progress.  A team from New York came down last week to start tiling the floor and the guys here had continued the tiling this week.  They had progressed to the xray room and the hallways when we walked in and were putting some gravel like sediment down on the floor.  After touring the area for a bit we went back to the Mamba room and found a woman waiting for us with her boy.  This little boy was probably around 9 or 10 months old and I remembered once she started talking I had done her son’s weigh in and check up with her last week.  I looked over her chart and found the long list of notes on the back page I wrote from last week.  “Mom wasn’t feeding Mamba correctly.  Explained how to distribute Mamba.  Told Mom to give 8x a time.”  She should have known by now how to feed him correctly as he had been in the program since August which was way too long in itself.   As I picked him up to weigh him I was really hoping that he had gained weight after our long discussion last week.  I knew it wouldn’t be good news for her if he hadn’t.  His weight over the past several weeks fluctuated only slightly.  He rarely gained and when he did it was only a small amount.  I put him down on the scale and read off the weight to put back on this chart, 7.05 kg.  No change.  I sat back down and asked her if he liked eating the Mamba.  “Oh yes,” she said.  I asked her if she liked the Mamba.  “Yes, I like it too.”  I knew then she wasn’t giving it to him.  Elise came over at that point and looked at his chart.  I told her the woman was eating the mamba too.  Elise asked her if she had other kids at the house.  “Oh yes,” she replied.  “Do they like Mamba?”  “Yes, they like Mamba too.” I didn’t know her home situation.  I didn’t know if she had a husband or family to help provide for them.  If it was anything like the other stories in Haiti she was probably alone trying to feed her children herself. We knew she couldn’t continue in the program.  The Mamba wasn’t for her family; it was for her son.  But how could you blame someone for feeding her hungry kids?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mamba Day

(Written last week) A lot has happened the past couple of days.  I’ve been getting settled in, reconnecting with the kids and staff, and hanging out with Ashley, Kendall, and Elsie.  Ashley is here for one month to take care of Chevy, a mamba baby that ended up staying here at Canaan for a couple of weeks while he gets better.  She leaves Saturday and I told her she should change her flight to stay another couple of weeks.  Kendall has been here since August working at the school teaching the first grade class.  Both have been great fun to hang out with.

Yesterday Elise and I went down to the clinic so she could train me for the Mamba program.  There was a lot to go over but Elise did a great job explaining everything especially with the refresher course in the metric system.  It has definitely been a while since I had to do anything with kilos, centimeters, milliliters and milligrams.  Which on a side note, if anybody coming down wants to bring an electric scale for babies and adults that reads the weight in kilos that would be much appreciated.  Being a kilo or centimeter off can determine if the baby or toddler can be admitted in the program or not; being exact is key. 

(Written this week) Tuesday was my second week doing Mamba.  It definitely went a little smoother than the first.  I was more comfortable with the scales, books, and the routine that goes into checking and evaluation the kids.  I’ve been communicating to the parents in my broken Creole and Sarah and Joanne have been a big help explaining things when I get stuck.  Sarah and her family live down the road at Pierre Payan, about a 10 minute drive.  She’s been coming every week to help out with Mamba day.  Joanne is one of the nurses at the clinic.  She’s a sweet lady and is coming to the English/Creole class at night.  I’m glad she’s there to help out with cases that require more medical attention. 

It’s hard not to be affected emotionally by all the kids that come in for Mamba.  Everywhere you turn there are kids that are hungry, sick, and without clothes.  I can’t imagine what it must feel like as a parent to want to be able to feed your child and to not be able to.  It’s hard to think back to being in the US and how wasteful we are as a country.  I’m ashamed to admit I never thought twice about throwing food out.  The saying there’s a starving kid in the world was only a saying at the time; now it’s a reality. 

Let me tell you about two things that happened that touched my heart.  The first thing happened last week on my first Mamba day.  There was a young woman who couldn’t have been more than 20 that brought her young son in for his Mamba checkup.  She had walked two hours down the mountain to bring him down there.  Elise and I reviewed the file and noticed that he hadn’t been gaining much weight over the course of the past couple of weeks.  In the middle of Elise explaining to me what happens with cases were the child is not gaining enough weight, the mom interrupted our conversation with tears streaming down her face. “Si te plait, est ce qu’ou ban mwen quelque choses a mange.”  Please, can you give me something to eat?  She herself was hungry.  I looked stunned at Elise wondering if this was a normal occurrence.  She herself looked a little stunned and she later told me it’s very, very rare to see a Haitian so emotional.  Generally they are very stoic with their emotions.  Elise gave her the name of someone at Canaan who she could talk to about getting food.  I remember thinking back to my devotion that morning and how the author talked about how God is always with us.  Does this starving woman think that God is always with her?  She was supposed to come back this past Tuesday for a Mamba checkup but didn’t.  I prayed that she would know that God does provide and is with her wherever she goes.

The second thing happened the following week, again on a Mamba day.  We saw kids all morning as they came in for their weekly check up.  One of the last patients of the day was referred to us from the clinic.  He was 7 years old but looked like he was 4 or 5.  We weighed him so he could start the Mamba and sent him to the hospital for a TB test.  He weighed 35 pounds.  There are many more stories like these everywhere you turn.  I am so thankful that there is a Mamba program at Canaan.  I am thankful that we have generous supporters from back home that can buy the Mamba and other supplies for the program.  I am thankful for a place like Canaan where kids can grow up in an environment of knowing Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

3 days!

I've never blogged before. In fact, after going to college where writing papers seemed to be a weekly occurrence, and grad school where I learned how to write papers in my sleep, I never thought I would start a blog.  But, I thought blogging would be a great way to share with everyone what's going on before leaving and and the adventures I'll have while I'm there.  I meant to start this earlier but things have been a little crazy and hectic at the moment with getting everything organized and ready for the trip.  Things I never thought to think of suddenly spring to mind and get added to the list of things to do.
I had an absolutely amazing and wonderful going away party in Charleston the day before driving up to Virginia.  It was hard to say goodbye to my dear friends but I felt so blessed at being able to spend some great quality time with those that have become so precious to me over my last eight years in Charleston.  The highlight of the night was getting Derek's going away present, a hand held yellow chicken that squawks when you press its stomach.  Derek had a party one time at his house and as the night was winding down it turned into a music jam fest.  I started out playing the trombone, true story, but since I never learned how to play the trombone my instrument quickly became this yellow squeaking chicken.  I found great amusement with my new founded friend that I received an email a couple of days later asking if I knew where this chicken was as it was missing in action.  I assured Derek I hadn't taken it though I wouldn't have minded had it someone found its way to my house.  My new chicken is coming with me to Haiti, it might end up with it's very own calendar one day.

I am now in Virginia spending the week with my parents, sisters who come tomorrow, and Maddie (my dog) before flying out Saturday morning.  I've had a great, but busy week.  I spent some time this afternoon packing and organizing what I brought up to Virginia.  One of the good things about Haiti is you only need one wardrobe, summer.  It's a lot colder here than in Charleston and I'm looking forward to getting back to the warmer weather.  I miss walking around in flip flops, and was so cold the other day I almost put on a winter hat when I went outside.  This is quite different than the 85 degree weather I left in Charleston.  I never knew so much went into moving, especially moving out of the country, but I have learned lots and am now a pro at what needs to be done; the key is lists and then more lists. Three days till I fly out!