Haiti 2017 Recap

Two years ago I visited Haiti on my first foreign mission trip.  To say the experience was life-changing would be an understatement.  To read up on our first visit, you can look through my archives and find the posts I wrote back then.

I won’t go as in depth as I did two years ago with this post, but I would love to give you all an idea of what we did, experienced, ate, and saw while we were in Haiti the first week of July.

 

DAY ONE

3:00AM: Wake up call came quick after a restless night of anxious and excited sleep.

3:45AM: Leave church to head to airport.

12:00PM:  Arrived in Miami and learned our flight to Haiti was delayed.

6:30PM:  Finally make it to Haiti, get in the two rented vans, and head to Petit Goave.

7:30PM:  After about an hour of sitting in traffic, we all start to get pretty hungry.

9:00PM:  2.5 hours we finally arrive to the hotel just as a storm hits, unload our bags, and                 have  a traditional Haitian meal of chicken, black rice, mashed potatoes,           vegetables, fried plantains, and pikles (looks like coleslaw, but “burn your tastebuds off” spicy).

 

DAY TWO

Saturday morning we woke up, had breakfast of made to order omelettes, bread, peanut butter, coffee, and that oh so delicious Haitian mango.

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After breakfast we went to Pastor Phenix Bail’s school to prepare for the week of Bible School and painting that would start on Monday morning.

We scraped the walls of the school, power washed them, and scrubbed all of the dirt so that we could begin painting first thing Monday.  We also organized everything for a Bible School that would include crafts, Bible Story, Rec, and Music.  We were gonna go all out with this Bible School.

Around 12:00PM we got pretty hungry, yet there was no sign of food.  I knew something was up when some intense discussion between Ernie and some interpreters was going on near his home. Turns out there was some miscommunication about food for Saturday, so hot dogs, tuna salad, PB&J, cookies, and anything else you could find in the kitchen was what was on the menu.  We were so hungry that we didn’t even care.

When we arrived back at the hotel, we discovered something that we would end up encountering nearly every afternoon.  No water, no AC, and on/off power.  It was so hot and humid out, that showering before dinner seemed pointless, plus without the water it was impossible, so I ended up taking a nap by the pool in the shade.

Around 6:00 we had dinner.  Options for dinner each day would include Lobster, Chicken, 2 types of Fish, Pork, Goat, and Beef.  I ended up trying everything at least once except for the Pork (probably because I couldn’t stop picturing the bear-sized pig we saw in Port Au Prince on the side of the road).  The always included plantains and some sort of rice, often with vegetables or mashed potatoes.  Here is the fish and lobster.

Pastor Bail joined us for dinner and thanked us for coming and for the work we were about to set out to do. Pastor Bail’s school is one that our church has been helping support since the first time we visited it two years ago.  Tonight Brother Wesley gave him another donation to help with the costs to run his school, and he was extremely grateful.

A storm hit as we began to wind down for the night.  We also heard some gun shots and had two Haitian men trying to get into our room.  Needless to say, I didn’t sleep two well on the second night.

DAY THREE

Breakfast bright and early and then it was off to church at Pastor Bail’s “stick church”.  It was hot, it was humid, and it was 3 hours long, but it was one of the best experiences I have ever had.  You could tell the locals were feeling very special with the “blancs” in attendance.  Ladies and girls sang and danced 4 times throughout the service, Brother Wesley preached with the help of Charlie(one of our translators/drivers from our first visit to Haiti) translating, and we partook in the Lord’s Supper.  The thing that touched me the most was when the offering was taken up.  Nearly every member gave something.  These are people with close to nothing, but they come every Sunday dressed in their best, and give to the church.  Wow.

After church everyone wanted to come shake our hands and tell us God Bless You in creole.

When we got back to the hotel, they were having a Kindergarten graduation with about 100 graduates.  You could definitely tell these were more of the “wealthier” Haitians in attendance.

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We decided to have lunch on the waterside patio at the hotel, and then went to Pastor Enoch’s orphanage up on a mountain.  Susan Marx was able to see one of her little girls that she adopted two years ago, and I got to experience some preteen boys telling me their name was a bad word in Creole just to hear me repeat it.  The view at Enoch’s is breathtaking, and the rebuilding of their facilities after total destruction during the earthquake in 2010 is coming along nicely.

We then went on to Haiti Arise.  A Canadian mission compound that included dorms, a tech school, and a woodworking shop.  In the fall, Ernie will begin to teach woodworking here and hopefully will be able to build his own shop at Pastor Bail’s school in the near future.  This will allow the school to not only support itself, but also give locals a skill in which they can earn an income and support their families.

Another nap by the pool, dinner, and 3.4 second shower before the water would surely turn off ended our day.  I don’t think I have every felt so accomplished after taking a shower.

DAYS 4-7

Monday-Friday we held VBS/painted in the mornings, had lunch, and then proceeded to paint in the afternoon.  VBS ended up being much more than we expected it to be, and I truly applaud those who worked it.  I was the lazy one who decided to only paint.  I definitely had the easier job of the two.  200 children who are undisciplined, do not know English, and have never seen a PE parachute vs. 8 Americans who don’t speak Creole and 4 translators…take a wild guess who won.

Pastor Bail’s wife and friends cooked us lunch each day.  The first day I think they definitely overestimated how much we would eat, but the presentation and effort put into this meal each day was amazing.  We had everything from Haitian potato salad, mushroom chicken, lasagna, pizza, goat, more chicken, macaroni, scalloped potatoes, cake, and much much more.  We all left lunch way too stuffed to do anything the rest of the day.  Some of us even took naps before heading back outside to paint. 😉

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Also,  we hired 4 local painters…I’ll keep it short and just say that they DID WHATEVER THEY WANTED.  Most of our time was spent following behind them to fix what they just did.  Painting tape and paint roller scrapers are not something they seem to think they need.  In the end though, we got it done, and the school had a whole new coat of paint.

Did I mention while cleaning out of one of the classrooms in order to clean, we discovered a rat with 4 babies??  Thank you Haitian painters for your help with those.  We will give you that much.

As the week went on, although still exhausting for the workers, VBS began to go smoother and smoother, and you could tell the children were not only enjoying it tremendously, but they were also learning so much.IMG_3897

We spent July 4th working, wearing Old Navy flag shirts, and playing with the hotel puppy.

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My dad was able to get the solar panels working on Ernie’s roof on Thursday, giving him AC at night for the first time since he has lived in Petit Goave.  That night a man named Tony from Canada came to dinner and brought us coffee.  He rides a donkey up a mountain for hours upon hours to buy coffee off the growers at fair market price, then he roasts it, sells it to churches and individuals in the States and Canada, and uses all the proceeds to build and support schools back up on the mountains where he buys the beans.  The man is amazing and his story is even more complex and interesting than what I have just shared.  He blew my mind.

On our final day in Haiti, we finished up at the school with final touch up painting and the last day of VBS.  We ate lunch and then took a boat to a private beach to swim, relax, play some beach volleyball, and eat dinner.  When we arrived back at the hotel, a very emotional and thankful Mr. and Mrs. Bail came to thank us for our work and the impact we had on the community this week.  It was the perfect ending to a trip that ended up blessing us more than we could have imagined.

 

A Year Later

Time flies

Wow.  I can’t believe that a year ago today I was saying goodbye to my Dad and walking into the airport to begin a life changing journey.  Heading to Germany for two months on my own was one of the biggest leaps I have taken in my life thus far.  I know I have spoken and written on the experience I had and the impact it had on me previously, but looking back a year later I can now see even more the immense effects that journey had on my life.

First things first, I long to return every day.  There is literally not a day that goes by that I don’t yearn for a new adventure and a return to Europe.  I don’t even think yearn is a strong enough word to explain how I feel.  I know for certain that this feeling will never go away, but it is a feeling that I am 100% okay with.  This feeling shows me how much that experience changed me in so many ways.  My wanderlust grew 100 fold, and even though it is hard knowing that I do not have the luxury to just up and go whenever, I know my wanderlust will guide me to many adventures and experiences in the future.

Nowadays, as you know, I have started another adventure in a new place.  I have been here at SFA almost 5 months now, which is almost just as hard to believe as the fact that it’s been a year since I left for Germany.  However, it has been an amazing 5 months.  It has had its ups and downs, I miss seeing my family and friends all the time, but I can truly say that I am settling in great and love it here.  My job is the best one I have had, and I can’t see myself doing anything else at the moment.  Every day I go to the office, yet I feel as if I don’t ever have to “work”.  Isn’t that what 99% of us long for?  “Find a job you love and you can truly say you never have to work a day in your life” (something like that).  It is an amazing feeling to be in a position where I can personally vouch for that statement.

By the way, I have the best boss and coworkers in the world.  There is a true balance of fun, family, and career here, and I couldn’t ask for a better atmosphere to be a part of.  Season has officially begun and we just finished up our second week of official practice.  Due to the fact that our girls workout all summer and fall, and we are able to “practice” during these times, the feeling is different when “official practice” starts at this level than it is at JUCO, D3, or D2, but it is still a very special feeling.  Nothing like that “basketball season is upon us” feeling in the air!!  Especially when the actual outside air feels like “basketball season”.  In my opinion there is Summer, Spring, and Basketball Season.

I hope some of you have the chance to watch us play this year.  I feel as if we have a good balance of returners and new faces that will lead us to big things.  Our bench is deep and we are making huge strides in every area.  I believe it is going to be a special and fun year for us all.  Here in less than a month we will travel to South Dakota to open up the season.  The University of South Dakota is a traditionally successful program and we will actually be playing the very first basketball game in their brand new state of the art arena.  They sold the game out a month ago.  Should be fun, and would be a HUGE win and start to the season if we go up there and handle business.  Once we get rolling with playing, I will make sure to keep you all updated with how things are going both on social media and through my blog.  Also, if you have any questions on games, etc. feel free to contact me through email (scottke@sfasu.edu) or any of my social media outlets.  I’d be glad to chat!

Well, that is it for now.  I hope you all are enjoying this beautiful weather, getting outside, being active, and getting pumped for basketball season!!  Thanks as always for reading!!

Love,

Kayla

 

 

Repost: Hurricane Mathew Response — Joyfulrices In Haiti

Here is a letter Ernie has written in response to Hurricane Matthew. Since writing this letter Ernie has been out 2 more times and is out today. Please keep him and the people with him in your prayers as they travel. The impact of Hurricane Matthew has been felt the most on the western part […]

via Hurricane Mathew Response — Joyfulrices In Haiti

Repost: How to Know Who Your Real Friends Are

I know who mine are, and I couldn’t be more thankful!

How to Know Who Your Real Friends Are

Allison Fallon

These days it seems like people have a thousand friends without really having any friends at all.

I read an article in the New York Times recently that talked about this—about how sometimes the people we think are our friends aren’t really our friends, and vice versa.

Recent research indicates that only about half of perceived friendships are mutual. That is, someone you think is your friend might not be so keen on you. Or, vice versa, as when someone you feel you hardly know claims you as a bestie. —Kate Murphy

Add to that what I’ve heard my friend Bob say several times—that there are really only room for about 8 people around your deathbed—and I don’t know about you, but it leaves me with the question:

Who are my friends—really?

A few months ago I was going through a really hard personal time in my life. And I began to notice something. There was a key difference between the friends I thought were my friends and the ones who actually were my friends.

The difference was really simple.

The real friends just showed up. It was that easy.

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One night I was feeling afraid, so called a friend and she came over and sat with me on the couch. We watched TV. We didn’t even talk about anything. But she knew I didn’t want to be alone, so she came over. Another friend showed up the morning of a big appointment and brought me my favorite coffee drink and gave me a pep talk.

Other friends checked in regularly on the phone or text message, just to see how I was doing. People sent cards and gifts.

Other people disappeared.

Quite literally. It was sort of interesting to watch it happen. If you’ve ever been through a divorce or gotten a terrible diagnosis or lost a family member, I’m sure you’ve experienced this. Some people are so there. They’re a phone call away. You practically can’t get rid of them.

Other people it’s just like… they drop off the map.

And to be honest, I didn’t think much of it at the time. I wasn’t lacking for support, so I didn’t really need those other people to show up. But when I reflected on it later, I just thought that was so interesting.

Actions really do speak louder than words.

Our actions say more about who we are and what matters to us than what comes out of our mouths.

You can talk all day about how much you care for your friends and how important they are to you, but if you don’t show up for them—if you don’t show your face at birthday parties and anniversary parties and random Thursday night dinners and wedding showers and baby showers and TV viewing parties…

They’re not your friends. You’re not theirs.

This is not a dig. It’s not even a shameful thing. Nobody needs to apologize for not being friends with everybody (after all, only eight people will fit around your deathbed). It’s just the truth.

And if we can’t tell the truth, we can’t love or be loved.

If you want to know if somebody loves you, it’s simple.

Do they show up—physically, emotionally, spiritually, practically? Can they show up for you when you need them the most? Or, do you constantly find yourself wondering where they went, and why they aren’t around?

Let me say this one more time: if you want to know the truth of a person, pay attention to his or her actions—more than his or her words.

Words are easy. Actions are where our truth lives.

Also, if you have a thousand people you call friends but you aren’t really showing up for them, can you cut yourself a break? Can you make a decision to stop spreading yourself so thin? Can you choose the eight friends you’d like to end up at your deathbed and invest more fully and deeply in them?

You’ll feel more loved and more connected and more at peace with yourself.

Part 1: The “Gals”

I am a HUGE US Women’s National Soccer Team fan.  Like fangirl level.  Like little 8 year old girl in the stands who looks like she might die right then and there, fan.  I watch nearly every game, try to go to as many games in person as I can, and own who knows how many shirts and jerseys.

This obsession has been ongoing since I can remember.  Watching my idol(and still idol to this day) Mia Hamm run rampant on the field, the chills I got(and still get every. single. time.) as I watched the ’99 World Cup, and the tears of joy and heartache after each big win and loss, are some of the most vivid memories and moments I have had in my 26 years of life.

If the US is playing a friendly match, you can bet my DVR is set if I can’t watch it live.  If the US is playing in an international tournament, you can bet my DVR is set, and I have also stopped whatever I am doing, wherever I am, to seek out a TV and watch.

Why though?  Why am I and many other people, both male and female of all ages, so obsessed and invested in this team??  What makes them so irresistible to even people who have little interest in soccer?  It may just be my rose colored glasses, but it seems as if no other USA team captures the hearts of our country like the USWNT does.

Here’s my list of why I believe many of us have such a love affair with the group currently known as “The Gals”.

  1.  They are GOOD…                                                                                                                                             I love the men’s team as well, but they just don’t match up when it comes to          international success.  3 World Cup Titles 4 Olympic Gold Medals, and many more international tournament titles.  We have dominated international women’s soccer since it started.
  2. They are good and do it with STYLE…                                                                                                      The way the USWNT plays is unlike any other team in the world.  Fast pace, pressure, high scoring, passionate, skillful, and always dramatic in big moments.  Whether it is winning by PK’s, winning on last second goals (see Abby Wambach in the 2011 WC against Brazil *chills*), or scoring midfield goals in the WC final against Japan (See Carli Lloyd’s amazing performance to lead the team to their 3rd World Cup Title in 2015).  They get you to watch because they win, but the way they do it keeps you watching game after game and year after year.
  3. They are attractive…                                                                                                                                   We all know it.  And we all know this is why they initially get attention from many viewers.  This often times leads to an appreciation for their badassness, so I am okay with it.  For those of you who only watch because you think they are hot and do not appreciate the skill and heart shown on that field…shame on you.
  4. They are INSPIRING…                                                                                                                                 Name a team who has captured the hearts and minds of so many little girls (and boys) in recent memory like the USWNT has.  You can’t.
  5. They represent GIRL POWER…                                                                                                                  Obama said it himself when the team visited the White House after winning the 2015 WC, “This team taught all America’s children that “playing like a girl” means you’re a badass.”  They give girls the courage to go out there and play with the boys.  To beat the boys.  And to hold their own and stand up for themselves.  To see more about their visit to the White House, and what Obama had to say about how they represent girl power, check this out http://www.sbnation.com/lookit/2015/10/27/9621552/president-obama-uswnt-us-womens-soccer-team-white-house-playing-like-a-girl-means-youre-a-badass

More to come. Did you really think I could fit everything into one post?? 
-Kayla

 

Interesting take on things. Repost: If You’re Not Scared

If You’re Not Scared, You’re Not Doing It Right

(This is something I think we can all relate to in some way.) Repost: What to Do About Jealousy

Four Tips on Tackling Jealousy