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Haiti Reflections

So much has changed in the ten years since I last visited Haiti. For starters, the airport is so much more organized. I didn’t have to fight off nearly as many people attempting to “help” me with my bags. And our luggage wasn’t immediately taken off the conveyor belt at the baggage claim. The streets still have trash, but they too are much cleaner. The cars still don’t have much space. I was forced to sit on someone’s lap for a majority of our driving -- eventually, there was room for Nathan to sit in the trunk. Then we sat 4 abreast in the back seat. There are more paved roads which are more organized. I didn’t see any intersection with 5 cars lined up and no room to drive the other way thi

Back in the States

For the past three months, I have had very limited mobility. I have a couple of pinched nerves in my back. It has been a long recovery full of physical therapy and pain meds, with the goal to be able to walk 2-3 miles per day. During PT I couldn't walk more than a mile. I prayed just to be strong enough to do what needed to be done. Not so amazingly, that is exactly what I did, 3 miles per day. When I was diagnosed, Eileen said the cure was to go to Haiti. I know God let us do what He had called us to do. But now that we are back at JFK I am back in a wheelchair, being pushed through customs. But I am not upset. I am glad that God answered my prayers. I knew going in this might happen, but I

At the Airport

Our last day in Haiti. Time pack and repack, trying to get balance the weight. A lovely breakfast of eggs, tomatoes, pineapple and juice, coffee with cream and brown cane sugar to follow, all over a slight debrief. So many sights and sounds, faces etched with struggle. So many lacking the necessities of life -- water, fuel, food, clothing and work. So many children without clothes, shoes and no way to get any. So many orphaned simple because their parents just can't take care of them. There are the smells of the streets and the markets, the layer of dust that covers everything, no matter how often you clean. The aqua and deep blue waters of the Caribbean, the mountain vistas and so much more

A Day of Rest

Saturday has its traditions. For many years, we have used it for R&R before the day long journey home. So after a final chat with a group from San Antonio over a leisurely breakfast, we finished packing. Our the first attempt to make weight didn't make it. We were moving to another residence for the night. A 39 member group is arriving later in the day. We will head lover to Domond's home this evening. Traditionally, we spend the day at Visa Lodge, a quaint hotel a few minutes away. They offer a buffet and swim combo, internet access, usually, but not today, and a large pool deck on which to host visitors and enjoys the amazing view. This is the day old students and coworkers drop by and we

New Friends and Old Bones

Yesterday we had a series of interesting meetings, starting with an invitation extended to the gentlemen at Reno Cafe to join our table. My kids have always been a bit embarrassed by my habit of starting up conversations with strangers, just about anywhere. Jason Good, our new tablemate, is a Mennonite missionary who coordinates teams throughout Haiti. After a nice chat, card exchange, and a prayer for our respective ministries, we parted ways. The afternoon was a drive, too short, up the coast to Titayen for an appointment with Achemetre Jean Felix. He coordinates a transition program to prepare students for the International Baccalaureate Exam and entering university. As we spoke, he gave

We Stop for Coffee

What a wonderful day the Lord blessed us with today. We started the morning with a peaceful rest. I slept hard. They had to wake me for breakfast. The morning's cold shower was not frigid. The breakfast was not hot (a trade off for sleep). But the conversation was delightful. Then it was off to the bank, wait, we didn't need to go to the bank to request more checks. someone else will take care of that. Another blessing. Time to reconfigure the GPS, if we had a GPS, and head to Rebo cafe. Some nice lattes, mochas, chocolate caramel macchiatos and a banana muffin. Our morning meeting with pastor Olistin started, almost, on time. He was going to lead us to the Onaville Baptist Orphanage, which

Cokes and Conversations

Another day, another long and dusty road. But many blessings along the way. After a bit of disappointment -- we were not able to close the deal on the land this week -- we left Hinche this morning and did another bank transaction at Unibank for payroll. I invited everyone in for the experience. Once again we were taken from the queue amid the ding ding dinging tellers. This time to be lead to what appeared to be an office. It was not. It was the continuation of the teller counter with no room to open the door so we had to go in close the door and move behind in order for the next person to enter the room. Fanfan, Valery, Tricia, Nathan and I wedged ourselves in. Then the process begins: form

Peacocks and Slapstick

Wednesday began with the singing of the peacocks. I might have slept through the rooster. Then came the gobble gobble of the turkeys, followed by a not so raring version of happy birthday for Tricia at breakfast. It brought tears to her eyes, but we really don't know what caused them: her emotions, or our poor rendition of the song. We shared a hearty breakfast of eggs, tomatoes and lettuce, porridge and meat, rolled ham, coffee, coffee, and a little more coffee, topped with a nectar and with three scoops of sugar added. Then there was the conversation with a man visiting Haiti to help churches run a camping program. It felt a lot like the David and Tom hour. Wonderful sharing faith, mission

Traffic

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get run over. We almost ran over several chickens driving to and from the farm today. Being in Haiti after 10 years is strange. A lot has changed but a lot of it feels the same. Like the humidity and the undrinkable water. Our first 2 days have been driving and waiting. Our driver, Junior, is very skillful. He maneuvered around a dirt hill and a sidewalk without getting stuck or hitting anyone. I'm glad I don't have to drive anywhere in Haiti. There is more traffic control in the city now than there used to be but the guys directing traffic only wear vests and helmets. They're brave for walking in the middle of the streets.

Day Two, or is it Three?

It depends on how you look at things. Sunday and most of Monday was spent traveling, but we had great encounters along the way. I spent the last leg of our journey to Haiti talking with a man and his daughter, who were returning home after a few days of fundraising in Georgia and the Carolinas. He has a school in Gonaives that he is trying to support. His daughter Ann is in her third year at the National University in Gonaives studying International Relations. So a trip abroad was good for her. Our conversation then turned to why I was going to Haiti. It made the three hour flight fly by telling the tell of BonZeb and HEAR. But why am I here? It is one thing to relate the tale of being hound

Haitian Real Estate

Yesterday was what has become the norm for BonZeb in Haiti. It started with a simple breakfast of eggs, tomatoes, toast, juice and strong Haitian coffee flavored with brown sugar from the cane. Then the long drive to Hinche. We arrived right on time for our meeting with the land owner and notary (Who is a government employee). After an hour of pre-meeting discussions we sat in a small office with the notary, landowner, her daughter and son, a neighbor, and our 7 member team. This part of the meeting consisted of hand writing an agreement verifying the last survey and an agreement to sell. After an hour of writing there was discussion once again about fees, size of property and current land

Leaving for Haiti

It was a hectic day of packing -- last minute packing, at least on my part -- and organizing transport to the airport for the team and a load of donations. We're doing something new this trip. We shrank wrapped all the donations and were able to fit 50lbs in each our bins. This trip has been more relaxed than in the past, probably due to having Nathan and Tricia going with us. We also have actual dates and times for most of our meetings. Easy check in last night at JetBlue. They even gave us 5 checked bags for free. Lat time around, 10 parcels cost over $1000, so free is a true blessing. Maybe we should've taken more with us, but we didn't know they would treat us so well. Eileen says it's b

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