Sunday in Chambon-4/10/16

img_0137

Our team: Laurie, Lauren, myself, Kelly, and Delcie

Today we had the opportunity to be fully immersed in the Haitian culture.  We spent the day in the rural mountain village of Chambone, worshipping at the church there and spending time with the locals.

Our drive on the way out to Chambone took almost an hour, and we got to drive through the streets of Port-Au-Prince on our way.  There are no traffic rules, except maybe that the biggest car wins!  The streets were packed with people and traffic.  We were all amazed at the skill of the Haitian women who could so effortlessly carry their cargo on their heads.  We saw many dressed in their Sunday best, headed to their respective places of worship.  Men were in suits, ladies wore their loveliest, and the little girls–oh, can I even begin to tell you how cute they were–wore their adorable dresses.  Somehow, admidst the dust of the streets and the lack of access to front-loading washing machines, those pretty dresses were bright white and perfectly pressed, the men’s shirts as well.  Among the many vendors in the street selling their wares, there were piles of garbage, standing in stark contrast to the beauty of the mountains in the distance.

As we headed into Chambone, the terrain became more rugged and the ride became bumpier.  We passed the home of the local witch doctor and paused briefly to survey her yard, with voodoo dolls hanging from the trees.  I learned that voodoo is the most common spiritual belief/practice in Haiti.  We passed goats, donkeys, and cows, none of them looking particularly well-nourished.  The people waved and smiled as we passed by, friendly but also interested in the novelty of our crew.

Our team leaders, Frank and Scott, have spent quite a bit of time in Chambone and have developed relationships with the people there.  We saw the pastor pumping water on the road to the church, and Frank stopped the car to say hello and tease the pastor that we would beat him to church!

The church service itself was much longer than what we are used to in North America.  Most of the service was in Creole, but some of it was translated into English for us.  One man got up and talked in Creole for what felt like a good 20 minutes.  I thought that was the sermon, but then Scott told me that was just the community announcements!  Ha!  We had a long way to go.  We also got to witness a baby dedication and participate in communion (P.S–no grape juice in this church, we got the real deal!).  The people were very welcoming, and though we did not all speak the same language, we worshipped the same God.

img_0144

The church in Chambone

img_0145

This is the school on the church property. 220 children learn here!

The ladies made us lunch, which was delicious and beautifully gracious.  My favorite part was spending time with the children of the village.  At first they were attracted to us because they knew we most likely came bearing gifts.  We did–bracelets, hot wheels cars, and other small trinkets, which they happily scooped up.  After lunch we took them to a small river to swim, and 3 beautiful little girls fought to sit beside me in the truck.  I showed the oldest how to play thumb war, and we played a few other clapping games.  She was 11 years old, but I would have guessed she was around 8 from the size of her.  The littlest one hugged my leg tight the entire ride, and I was grateful that she trusted me in that short car ride to keep her anchored to her seat.  I missed my babies at home.  The children all appeared well-nourished, which Frank and Scott told us is in part thanks to some of the local ministries that help to provide food.

img_0146

One of my new little girlfriends

The kids, very unselfconsciously, stripped down to their underpants and jumped in the river to cool off.  They made their own fun with no toys, sliding on the rocks and splashing.  I found myself wishing my kids could play with these little ones, to share in this simple joy, and to share the universal language of play with a child from another part of the world.
Those of you who know me well know that I am not a high-stamina person when it comes to outside stimulation.  It usually doesn’t take too much before I start to shut down and need some introvert time.  I was surprised today by my own curiosity.  I didn’t want to miss anything, and I had so many questions.  I wanted to hear everyone’s story and get to know as many as I could.

Tomorrow we get to take a visit to the museum in PAP to learn a little more about the country’s history.  We will also visit one of Heartline’s properties, which includes their women’s education center and the bakery.

Advertisements

Airporting-4/9/16

img_0125

Getting photo-bombed before departure

Well, after a full day of travel, I am happy to report that I made it safely to Port-Au-Prince!  It was a long day, full of very confusing airport rules.  I am the WORST at “airporting”.  Every time I go on a plane I just end up looking like a complete moron.  I decided to embrace it this time, and just tell the personnel up front that I don’t travel much, I am really bad at this, and please don’t yell at me if I make a mistake.  The girl at ticketing gave me the blank stare, but otherwise my honesty was well received and I got the support I needed to make it through.  Aside from a small snafu in the security check with a brand new bottle of specialized bug spray that cost $12 on Amazon that I was forced to throw in the trash, I came out relatively intact with my belongings in tow.

Once we arrived, the sun was already down.  We were driven from the airport in Heartline’s truck.  Check it out:

img_0129

Our chariot for the week

I am staying at the Heartline guest house.  It is very safe and secure, in a gated area with security guards and 2 large dogs.  We were fed a meal upon arrival and had some time to settle in and get the lay of the land.  I got to call my babies, which resulted in much weeping (them, not me!).  Everyone pray for Jeff this week, will you?

It is super hot here.  I am working up an Olympic sweat just typing this, even though I am sitting directly in front of a fan.  It is going to be a very drippy week!  Tomorrow we will be heading out to Chambone, which is a rural village where we will be attending church and spending some time with the people  there.  Can’t wait to tell you all more about it tomorrow!

img_0126

Prepping and packing

My trip to Haiti is just one week away now!  Yesterday I had the day off work and was able to use a big chunk of it making some much needed preparations.  After I picked the kids up from their morning day camp program, we headed over to InterVol, which is this really cool place in Rochester that sends unused and donated medical supplies to countries in need.  I contacted them several months ago after hearing about them from a friend.  So I set out with my two little helpers!

 

Leah wants to be the “poster girl” for InterVol

InterVol’s mission is “to connect the world’s neediest to materials, people, and opportunities”.  After arriving I was greeted by a nice man who was waiting for us with the surgical instruments we had requested a few months ago.  The kids were a little confused.  These are instruments?  They look like fancy scissors, not like the flutes and trombones we were expecting to see!  It really cracks me up that in their minds they were picturing me packing musical instruments to take on my medical missions trip!

We were told that we could go back to the warehouse, look around, and help ourselves to other supplies that might be useful for our trip.  I had been so curious to see what the warehouse looked like and what they kept in there, so it was very exciting to take a look around.

 

Walls and walls of supplies….

 

All of the flags represent countries that InterVol has shipped to

Anyone who has worked in the medical field knows how much of the things we use go to waste.  It was so wonderful to see a place like this where these unused supplies could be repurposed and put to good use.  It was hard for me to control myself in there, as there was so much to choose from!  I tried to keep in mind that anything I picked up would have to somehow fit in my suitcase!

The kids were enthusiastic helpers, and got to work looking for various items I had pointed out from Heartline’s wish list.  I heard them both expanding their vocabularies as they sounded out some of the big words on the labels.  “Ur-i-nar-y cath-e-tar.  What is that?”  Then, from across the warehouse I heard Nate holler, “Mom, hey Mom!  Do you need BUTT DRAPES?  Because I found some BUTT DRAPES!  Do you think they could use BUTT DRAPES Mom?”

 

What have we here?

 

A 9-year old’s dream come true! Potty humor is everywhere!

We left the butt drapes at the warehouse, in case you are wondering.  But we came out with a great haul:

 

We gathered some IV catheters, syringes, needles, gloves, sutures, surgical scrubs, and surgical (not musical) instruments

 

Then we headed home to add our haul to the growing pile at home.  Leah loves to help, so we set up in the basement and started packing as much as we could into 2 suitcases.  Nate got in on the action too.

 

Here are all the supplies we have been collecting for months!

I started to wonder how we would ever get all this stuff to Haiti!  First we made a huge mess, but after some effort we were able to get everything into 2 suitcases and 2 boxes.  I plan to ship the boxes later this week, and the suitcases I will take with me of course.

 

Suitcase #1, mostly personal care and hygeine items, some toys as well

 

Suitcase #2, all medical supplies!

 

Finished! Now, where will I put my clothes?

 

After packing, we discovered a little care package in the mail from Heartline!  Inside were some luggage tags, a travel journal, sunglasses, and an awesome t-shirt designed just for our team.  It is super fun:


My shirt makes me feel really special, and super excited.   It feels real now!

The kids, of course, had to try the t-shirt on for size too!



Thank you again to everyone who contributed to this effort!  I have been completely overwhelmed by your support and love.  I am so thankful that my friends and family could support me on this journey, whether you donated supplies, gave money, prayed, or just encouraged me and cheered me on, it is all very much appreciated!  Stay tuned!  I travel next Saturday, and I hope to blog while I am there to keep you informed of the day-to-day happenings.  Also, you can watch my hair get crazy frizzy.  That is 100% entertainment right there, trust me!  It will be something like this:

It’s a small world after all

 

image

Today I got to make a new friend.  Her name is Kelly, and she is sweet, bubbly, and so cute and little I could just put her in my pocket.  Kelly and I are going to Haiti together next month to visit Heartline, and it turns out we live in the same city.

Can you believe this?  We have a total of 5 people from the USA going to Heartline, and  2 of us live in the Rochester area.  It gets weirder….

…we both work for the University of Rochester Medical Center…

…we both have husbands named Jeff/Geoff…

… We worked at Strong Memorial at the same time for about a year, somewhere around 2001, and we both thought the other looked vaguely familiar….

… Our husbands are both avid bikers and, in fact, when we met for lunch, both Jeff and Geoff were racing this morning, at the exact same race

…we even wore the same shirt to lunch (different colors, but same shirt).

It was a joy to get to know Kelly this morning, as our kids played with their food and we ignored them as much as possible.  The kids hit it off too!  When lunch was over, Nate suggested, “why don’t we head back to our house, and you girls can talk while we play?”  Alas, there were birthday parties to attend and errands to run, so we had to take a rain check on that.  Hopefully Kelly and I will be able to get more acquainted on the plane ride down, if we can score seats beside each other!

Only 3 more weeks until we depart!

image

The offspring (minus Kelly’s youngest, who had better things to do apparently)😉

New list of items needed for children in Haiti!

heartline
Hello family and friends.  I have been sick at home all week, on my couch.  It is not as relaxing as it sounds.  It is mostly very achy and chilly and sweaty, and there have been lots of tissues involved.  And now I have a little 7 year-old home with a fever who, once medicated with ibuprofen, wants to do things like ride her bike and go to the museum, like she’s on vacation or something.  Ha!  Kids.

Anyhow, I got an email from Heartline today, with a list of things they are collecting for the orphanages and schools they are affiliated with. We will be visiting some schools and orphanages on our trip, and interacting with the children there.  For anyone who hasn’t done their shopping yet and would like to still contribute, Heartline has a need for the following items:

Jump  ropes
Flip  flops
Regular  shoes
Children’s  size  T-­shirts
School  supplies
Backpacks
Soccer  balls
Frisbees
Jacks
Decks  of  cards
Uno  (card  game)
Stickers
Water  bottles  or  those  bag  type  water  bottles
Jump  ropes
Kazoos
Whistles
Bells,  Shakers
Rain  sticks
Chalk
Slap  bracelets
Matchbox  type  cars
Hats
Sunglasses
Clothes
Balls
Candy  (non-­‐sugar  like  jolly  ranchers)
Jewelry  accessories
Small  matchbox/hot  wheel  cars
Art  and  craft  supplies

I am still collecting supplies for the maternity center too.  If you missed it, that list is here, and their Amazon wish list is here.

I had my first conference call last week and will have an update for you, when I have the energy!