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.

 

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

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

Repost: Two Types Of Pain You’re Going To Experience — Storyline Blog

Avoiding pain was my default mode for a decade or two. I avoided pain like it was my job. I steered clear of situations and relationships that might’ve been painful, and I tried to keep my emotional investment at a minimum. Obviously, this was a disaster. Not only is it impossible to completely avoid pain,…

via Two Types Of Pain You’re Going To Experience — Storyline Blog

Repost(This is a GOOD ONE, y’all!!): “You’re Never Going to Be Fully Ready”

On the very best summer days, the beach at our family’s cottage collects boats all day long—little ones and big ones, friends and family, friends of friends. The day starts quietly and then all of a sudden there is music and someone is grilling and boats are rafted off. Everyone takes turns on jet skis…

via You’re Never Going to Be Fully Ready — Storyline Blog

Patience

“Patience is a virtue.”

It has been a while since I’ve posted any original content on here, and I am sorry about that. Thank you for having patience with me as I learned about patience and am now able to write this post.

As many of you know through knowing me closely, reading this blog, or from conversations we may have had, I have been “in between jobs” for the past year or so. Long story short, I left Oklahoma and my coaching job at Cameron last May with the hopes of landing a job as a Director of Operations somewhere over the summer. This did not come to fruition and I was placed in a position of the “what now?” mindset. I lived abroad, I lived at home with my parents, and I simply lived day to day for possibly the first time in my life.

Instead of thinking “what now?” in the way many people believe it to be of thinking, “What am I doing?”, “Why can’t I get a job?”, “Will I ever get a job?”, I chose to live in the “What now, God?” mindset instead. I was done making plans and decided to fully rely on Him to guide me. Now, of course I am human and this wasn’t a 100% of the time mindset, but I relied on faith and His strength to carry me through the times of questioning. They were luckily very brief and were taken away as quickly as they had come.

So, through this mindset I had finally been able to acquire, what did I learn the most? You guessed it, PATIENCE!! The trait that has been alluding me for probably my entire life. Instead of landing my “dream job” I found myself as a substitute teacher sitting in a class of chatty 4th graders. In a resource classroom helping students read four grades below where they should be. I found myself in a foreign country interacting daily with a seven year old boy whom I couldn’t understand, and who couldn’t understand me. In place of a job working with elite college athletes, I found myself coaching a group 2nd-4th grade girls (who had more pent up energy than any kids I have ever met).

Ultimately, God had told me, rather He YELLED at me, “Kayla, listen here. I know you have all these plans in your little plan everything out just the way you want it head, but I have greater plans for you. First, though, I am gonna teach you a little patience.” And I am determined he was smiling and giggling along the way as I shook my head at middle school boys, said “nevermind” to misunderstanding Germans, and placed my hands on a 3rd grade girl’s shoulders just so she would stop running around and listen to what I was trying to teach her. If you don’t believe our Father has a sense of humor, just check out a coach teaching college athletes, and then watch them attempt to coach youth basketball…

It was trying. It was tough. I was emotional at times. I felt lost. I felt found. I lived. And most importantly I learned.

About 3 weeks ago I was offered and accepted a Director of Operations position at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX. Yes, I FINALLY landed my “dream job”, and I could not feel more blessed and thankful. Here is the thing though, I would be thankful had I not received it, because through my experiences over the past year I have learned and grown so much more than I ever would have had I given up, or lived how I was living only worrying about the future. The job is just the icing on the cake that God gave me the recipe to bake.

I pray that I continue to give thanks, ask for guidance, and the chance to learn patience more and more every day. I still have so much to learn and accomplish. This is just the beginning. It is often when we finally get what we want that we forget who gave us that gift.

We lose the gift that God has in store for us when we seek out our own.