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  • Tom Stein

January 2020 Trip, Day 7

Past the halfway point of the trip. Thank you Lord for keeping us safe. One more trek over the mountains to the Department Centre, and our project. It's another typical morning here in Port-au-Prince. Woke too early, as the sun rose with the temperature, or the other way around? It's approaching 91°F, so we are happy to going into the country.


Msgr. Pierre came by just when we were preparing to leave. We discussed the agenda for our meeting with the president of UNDH, which is now scheduled for Wednesday morning. This will be our last meeting of the trip and we hope for a positive reception, and the continuation of our collaboration.


We returned to the Salesian center this morning to meet with the Fr. Victor and Fr. Jean. Fr. Victor speaks perfect english, but Fr. Jean speaks only french, and creole, and spanish. We shared what we are trying to do once again with Victor, who had heard about our visits yesterday. When we met with Fr. Jean, Fanfan and Bellegarde did most the talking. After a week of listening and translating for me they knew all the answers and spoke with conviction and confidence about our ministry. This is another step in the development of the project. To have Haitian spokespeople is a very good feeling. Fr. Victor asked a lot of good questions and we left with an agreement to continue our conversation. He will follow up with all the Salesians in Haiti and offered to print an article in their national newsletter.


We then made a side trip with few u-turns to pay for last week's car. Bellegarde decided it would be better to rent a car than to use his. An hour later, we are just about ready to move luggage and begin our trip. But first we need to eat and get water and food for our workers at the farm. We will not make it to Thomonde before 4:00, so we might have to go tomorrow on our way back. We will see. It might be another night drive if we don't get moving soon.


The week has been tough on us physically. I have more mosquito or bug bites than anytime in the past five years. Some look a little infected and my ankles and feet are swollen. I left my shoes and orthotics somewhere along the way and have been wearing sandals for since Wednesday. Just found out they were at Emmaus House, which will save my feet. Thank you Lord.


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We are still waiting on the car. It is 1:30. Lord help us move soon and safely. Everyone is tired, sweaty, hungry, thirsty, but patient. That one virtue you practice a lot. We thought we would have everything done a be on the road no later than 11:00. C'est la vie!


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3:30 and still in Port-au-Prince. Trying to get through town to the highway. Everything is at a standstill no matter which way you turn. Saw a goat going to market on the back of a motorcycle. That's a new one. Another goat bound and ready to be put in a taptap. At this slower pace you can see so much more. The pride in appearance on so many Haitians. Their clothes, their hair, their overall carriage and posture.


Then you see a child with a foot turned so far out that it is painful to watch. But with effort they move and go about their business. Then there is the older man whose legs are so bowed that he appears four or five inches shorter than he ought to. But once again he does not complain. He simply goes about his business. There is lot to learn from persistence, grace, and the ability to keep moving forward, one step at a time, not despairing.


That is lesson for us all.


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One disappointment on this trip has been the trash that is piled along the roads in Port-au-Prince. There had been so much progress in the past few years. Seeing a herd of a dozen cattle foraging in the piles of waste and trash was something new for us. The rivers, streams, creeks, and beaches are littered with plastic bottles, bags, sandals, etc. The clogs are bad enough in some areas to block culverts and stop the flow of the water and the trash alike.


I had the same feeling seeing cords of wood along the roads up north. The foresters there don't seem to see any urgency to make a change. Along the way you see trees 'pruned' back to the trunk. Kind of like the weeping willow by the garage I pruned back. But that grew back, these will not. The next step for these 'giving trees' is to lose their trunks and then their stumps and finally there roots. It's a sad progression we are trying to remedy.


Lord give us the strength and wisdom to continue to move forward step by step -- baby steps -- and teach us to run. Thank you.






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