Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Election Time is Comin

Friends,

I just wanted to let all of you know that I am safe. Much violence broke out across Haiti yesterday with the results of Haiti's presidential election. There will be a run-off in January between two folks: Mirlande Manigat and Jude Celestin.

The people are happy about Manigat, but quite angry about Celestin. Supporters of a man named Michel Martelly are particularly upset, saying that the election was rigged and it should have been Manigat and Martelly in the run-off. Martelly supporters have blocked roads and gathered in groups to shout protests and march through the cities.

We are staying inside the Guest House and staying tuned to news reports. We are also in contact with our friends (interpreters, cooks, drivers, etc.) who are away from the Guest House and might have a better assessment of what's going on in the streets. Everyone we know is also okay and staying inside today.

If there are any further updates, I will let you know. Needless to say, this is definitely going to be a story I'm going to be able to tell for the rest of my life!

Praying for peace,
Beth

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Foosball: A Photo Story

Today we went to the Ibo Lele hotel for a little R&R and for Barry's "last hurrah" before he heads home next week on Sunday. I've been to Ibo Lele several times and I always have a great time. During these visits, we've discovered that Sunday afternoons are the best time to visit Ibo because they have a bar area open with American football on the TV, two pool tables, a foosball table, and (of course) alcohol.

The visit today was quite nice - good food, good company, and cooler (73 degree) weather.

However, after lunch is when the real fun began. Oge and I went downstairs to the bar area and played foosball.



Oge has never played foosball so it was fun teaching him how to play. It was an instant hit, though, and soon the competition was on!



I won the first four games. :) Yeah!



Oge was a little confused - why wasn't he winning?? :(



Even though he wasn't winning, he was still having a pretty good time. Lots of laughter, that's for sure!



But then, on the very last game, when we were neck and neck - 1 point needed for each of us to win... he won. :(



Anyway, I thought you might enjoy seeing some of those photos. I think sometimes people back home have the impression that I am suffering and enduring many hardships to do the work that I do here. This is not to say that there aren't difficult times because there are. This is also not to say that I don't meet my fair share of "cultural bumps." However, this is to say that I have moments of "luxury" and fun in this country as well. You just gotta look for the right places.

Lastly, I thought I would share this little bit. As many of you know, I am constantly amazed at what money can pay for here. I still remember when I found out that Robenson got kicked out of school briefly because his mother couldn't afford $32 for 4 months of schooling. Today was another one of those moments.

Tonight I handed out money for 8 boys to take their school exams (yes, they have an exam fee AND if you're in certain grades they make you pay to get the certificate saying you took the test as well), 4 boys to get new sandals, and 3 boys to get some food for themselves and their families. Total, all of this cost less than $75. CRAZY. Anyway, I thought I would pass along their big smiles and loud "THANK YOUs" to all of you as well. God is good!

For now, I'm off to bed. Sending love to all of you. See some of you in a week from tomorrow! :)

Beth

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

It was very strange to be celebrating Thanksgiving in a foreign country today. Haiti does not celebrate Thanksgiving and so it felt like any other day - just a normal Thursday. However, I have been away from my family and friends for 3.5 months now and I was not going to let this Thanksgiving go by without some sort of celebration. It would just be too sad to not do something.

So about 3 days ago I asked Belorne if we could have a Thanksgiving feast for dinner today. She agreed. Then I asked if we could also invite the staff to partake in Thanksgiving dinner. Thankfully, she agreed to that, too. :)

Around 10 a.m. we set out for the grocery store to buy the necessary materials for an excellent Thanksgiving feast. On the menu was: turkey - fried (Haitian style) and roasted, sweet mashed potatoes, regular mashed potatoes, green beans, peas, rice, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, spice cake, and (most importantly) homemade applesauce. Also, we were going to make punch for our drink. Lots of stuff to buy!

It was a fairly normal shopping trip, except that most of the folks there were celebrating Thanksgiving, too. Everywhere we turned ex pats were saying to us, "Happy Thanksgiving." It felt good to be among fellow celebrators.

What was super hilarious, though, was that the store had stocked up on turkeys for Thanksgiving (as a big portion of their business is done with people who work for International NGOs.) However, these turkeys DEFINITELY had to be shipped in and so they were SUPER expensive. We bought a 20 lb turkey today for a little over $50. Crazy!

We arrived back at the GH and began preparations for the meal around 1 p.m. Most of the things we were making didn't take much prep work so that was good.

However, there was one dish that took quite a bit of work... the applesauce.

Now, some of you may think that applesauce is a strange dish to have at Thanksgiving. I found that out today. I mentioned that we were having applesauce to some of our guests and they said, "Oh, well...okay. I've never really thought of applesauce as a 'Thanksgiving dish.'" That's when I would say, "Well, then you've obviously never been to a Thanksgiving on Brucker Family Farm in Dahinda, IL!"

Yes, every year my Aunt Amy makes an AMAZING homemade applesauce for Thanksgiving. This year, as I would not be in Dahinda to celebrate the holiday, I e-mailed her for directions so I could make it myself. It's always my favorite dish at Thanksgiving.

But, I discovered that it takes quite a bit of work to make this one dish. We had to peel, core, and cut up around 40 apples for the amount of people we had to feed.

- Deanna and Belorne help me prepare the apples for the applesauce -

Then we had to put all of them in a pan over the stove with just a little bit of water added. After that I added sugar and cinnamon...


And it was PERFECT. Seriously, once it was done... it was worth all the hard work. Especially since I had some helpers along the way. :) In fact, one of the teams we had staying at the GH, without knowing which dishes we made, decided that the applesauce and the stuffing were the two best dishes of the night and demanded recipes. It felt good to be a chef!

It was also delightful to invite our Haitian family (the staff) to partake in Thanksgiving meal with us. For the blessing before the meal we ended up singing the Doxology and we all sang it in English while our Haitian brothers and sisters sang it in Creole.

It felt wonderful to spend that time with the people here I know and love even when I could not spend it with my family at home. It really made the experience that much brighter for me.

- Madame Claire and her mashed sweet potatoes masterpiece... yum! -

I am often in awe at how God has truly blessed me and when I take the time to think about it, I am reminded how it is my job to share my blessings and bless others. It truly was amazing to spend this Thanksgiving in Haiti - a 3rd world country, in the midst of some political turmoil and violent rioting, while also in the midst of a growing epidemic, while also in the midst of still trying to pick up the pieces of their lives that were destroyed/altered during the earthquake. Seriously, how blessed am I!?! How blessed are we!?!?

Today I am thankful for food. I am thankful that I have enough food to share.


I am thankful for family and friends. I am thankful to have a strong enough support system in my life to be of support to others.

I am thankful for health, for shelter, and for an (easily obtained) education.

Lastly, I am thankful for knowledge of this great, loving God. I am thankful for a family who taught me about this God. I am thankful for children's ministers, youth leaders, and other influential adults in my life who helped shaped this faith in God and taught me to listen to God's call. I am thankful that I get to wake up every day knowing I have a divine Creator who knows me and loves me in spite of all the stupid stuff I do. I am thankful for the hope that I have - for myself, for my friends, for my family, for Haiti - and I am thankful that I get the opportunity to be a small slice of that hope to others each and every day.

I have a lot to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Beth

P.S. I will be posting all of my Thanksgiving photos to Facebook so check there soon to see them! :)

Edit: Click here to see my photos from my Haitian Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Long Overdue

Sometimes I forget that I'm living in a foreign country.

No, seriously. I feel like I've been here for so long now that sometimes I forget that my reality - all that I see and live within every day - is not the reality that most of you face every day. This is not a bad thing, it's just interesting. I truly do live in Haiti now. Crazy!

Now this is not to say that I still don't have times when I see something or learn about something and remember, "Whoa! I am not in the United States..." But it's becoming rarer. I think I'm definitely going to have some reverse culture shock when I return home in a few weeks. It will be interesting to see how different it is coming home this time than it was coming home the first time.

It has been an interesting past couple of days, though.

The cholera issue seems to be getting worse. Granted, those of us with access to good drinking water and hand sanitizer are going to be just fine - but a large portion of Haitians are at serious risk. This causes for some panic, as you can imagine. Therefore, there have been several protests and riots across the country. Some more serious than others. Luckily, we've been able to avoid all of them, but we have had to change our plans for the day on a few occasions because of it.

Unfortunately, it seems like it's going to stay that way for a while until the new president is announced. After that, the protests/riots could die down, or they could get worse. Everyone is fairly unclear at this point. However, I believe that they'll die down. I'm not too worried about it beyond election day. (Which is Sunday.)

Things here have been good, otherwise. We've been taking a few trips out to work sites recently to get an update on work being done there. It's really fun to go from site to site and see the progress. Also cool is that we've had the opportunity to go to these places during school hours and (almost) all of them have schools on the grounds we're working on. The kids are so stinkin cute in their uniforms and big smiles as they proudly show off what little English they know. Too much fun. I have some new pictures from those visits that I'll have to post soon.

I also have an update on Robenson. The best lead that I had for a place for him to stay ended up not working out. Apparently, that place can not take children older than 7. Big bummer. Very, very sad as it would have been a great place for him.

After that I looked at another place that's run by a friend of a friend. Turns out, though, that this place only does adoptions - it's not a Children's Home. Now, it is possible for Robenson's mother to forgo her parental rights and put Robenson up for adoption. However, who knows if that would actually be the best option for that family. We haven't even told his mother that U.S. adoption is an option and I can't quite decide if it's a good idea or not to tell her. I'll be seeking out more advice in the next few days and so prayers for discernment would be good. Beyond that, if we do end up telling her, prayers for her discernment would also be appreciated. Discernment for everyone!

So yeah! That's been a bit of the craziness here. I'm starting to really look forward to my visit home, though. I'll arrive in KC on the 13th of December and stay until I fly out early on January 2nd. I hope to see a good portion of you while I'm in town. :)

Lastly, I should mention that the mission fund is running low again and I'm getting more requests for scholarship money now that payment is due again for most schools. Please prayerfully consider, as you're planning your holiday giving, contributing to our mission fund. I have already seen your financial resources do so much and there is still so much more to do. Thank you for even considering. If you'd like more information on the mission fund or are interested in contributing, please e-mail me at bethisinchina@yahoo.com. Mesi anpil!

And on that note, I'm off to get ready for bed. Sending love your way!

Beth

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hurricane

I didn't update during the whole hurricane ordeal. I'm sorry. Very sorry. However, as you can imagine, life was crazy during that experience and the last thing I wanted to do at the end of each day was write on this. I hope most of you kept up with me via Facebook, though, and weren't too concerned as to if I was okay.

It all began Sunday when I started to have concerned teams talk to me about what our plan was if the storm moved our way. I made a few calls home (mostly to consult with my dad, my own personal semi weather expert) and at that time it was determined that we didn't know enough about the storm to know if it was going to hit Haiti or not so teams shouldn't feel concerned about coming.

About Wednesday, though, it became apparent that the hurricane was going to hit Haiti. It was unknown if it would be a direct hit or not, but people were beginning to prepare for the worst. On that day, we had Mike and Bryan's going away party on the Ola Esmeralda - a "floating hotel" in an old cruise ship. (Previously used to house UN officials.) It was a wonderful lunch in a neat setting. However, it was basically empty. We found out that even they were preparing for the storm and were actually going to set sail early the next morning to leave port.

That afternoon, we wrote up a plan. At that time we decided it would be best to bring all of our teams from the field back to the Guest House. We also had to buy extra food, gas (for the generator,) and a ton of extra water.

Once Thursday came, we picked up two teams from the airport and decided to keep one our teams out in the field. By Thursday at noon, it seemed as if the storm would not really affect that work site and so we figured it would be best to have the team stay there. Thursday night, we had a FULL house and lots of anxious people curious to see what the storm would bring.

The actual storm was rather anti-climatic, though. Port-au-Prince received some light rain, but that was about it. We did have one heavy rain storm on Thursday night, but seriously - nothing major. The biggest deal, honestly, was that it affected communities that our teams were supposed to work in - or affected towns on the way to communities our teams were supposed to work in. Therefore, we had two teams hanging around the Guest House for two days waiting to get to their work site. One of the two teams actually had to change work site plans because their project would be unreachable for about a week. Crazy, eh? Lots of organizing to do. Luckily, both of those teams are at their work sites now and all is well.

Now for the sad stuff. First of all: Robenson.

So on Wednesday, in the midst of the hurricane craziness, a woman who lived near Robenson and his mother came with Robenson to talk to us on Wednesday afternoon. We took a break from planning and talked to them. In this conversation we learned that apparently Robenson's mother had been beating him a lot. The woman was quite concerned for Robenson and told us that she did not think that staying with his mother was a good idea.

We went into a bit of a panic - trying to figure out how to help Robenson - MY Robenson. Eventually, Robenson's mother came to talk to us. She explained that Robenson was acting out a bit (as any 12 year old (yes he turned 12 yesterday) would do) and she didn't know how to deal with it any more. In Haiti, the way to correct poor behavior is to beat a child. The beatings weren't working on Robenson and she had reached the end of her rope. After dealing with losing her husband, house, and income, and surviving in a tent for the past 10-11 months while trying to support 3 kids including one baby... a child going through normal pre-teen stuff was the last thing she wanted to deal with. That night she said to us, "I don't want him to live with me anymore."

So now we're trying to find a place for him to stay. A good, healthy, loving place for him to stay. We have a few leads but prayers would be much appreciated as we move forward. Mesi anpil.

Lastly, Mike and Bryan left today. It looks like Bryan will be back to help out in January, but it will be a while before Mike comes back. Mike may come back for a few days in February, but that's about it. He may come back for a more extended time in June, though.

Needless to say, it was very difficult saying goodbye to them. Both for different reasons, but I'm going to miss them both quite a bit. They had become my family here and so it already feels lonelier without them. Luckily, though, there was enough to do today to keep me busy so I didn't dwell on it too much. Also, Tom is here and moved in and Susan Meister (our calendaring coordinator based in the States) arrived today to get a better feel for what goes on here. I know that there will be a lot to do to keep me busy during these next few days. It's still going to be tough, though, adjusting to not having Bryan and Mike around. Very, very tough.

Anyway, I'm off to bed. Sorry for the super long update - just had lots of stuff to share! Lastly, I'll leave you with this: http://new.gbgm-umc.org/about/us/mv/haiti/responsestaff/ It's official!

Love,
Beth

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just so you know I'm alive...

So I'm sure that many of you have heard of the cholera outbreak in Haiti. I'm also sure that many of you (who aren't friends with me on Facebook, anyway) kept on checking here to see if I am okay. However, I haven't updated in quite some time so sorry if I made you worried.

This is to say that I am alright. This is also to say that the cholera outbreak is slowing down and is not nearly as bad as it was on the first two days when news first hit the States. Also, it would be very difficult for me to get cholera (even if it was in the PAP area) and cholera is very treatable. Therefore, no need to worry about me! We're all good.

That is not to say that life hasn't been nuts here, though. It's been all kinds of crazy town.

We had the largest amount of people staying here in the history of the Guest House a few days ago. The number was 47 (including staff.) The highest it had ever been before that point was 40, I believe. Two days before this occurred, our generator broke. Now, our generator breaking isn't TERRIBLE if we get city power every night. However, city power is not very reliable and so, as we expected, around 6 p.m. we'd start to lose power. We had a few smaller generators to power things like pumping water and to get electricity to the dining area and lobby... but that was about it.

Luckily, though, for those first two or three nights, we got city power around 10 p.m. It would charge the inverter system and we'd have power all day until about 6-7 when it would start to wain.

However, on the day when we were the FULLEST EVER, city power never came. So we had 47 people sleeping in hot rooms, without much water, and fumbling around in the dark. It was absolutely nuts.

Things have definitely slowed down by now, though. The Guest House purchased a new generator yesterday big enough to power the three buildings it needs to (which is super exciting!) Also, we got city power yesterday at 4 p.m. and it's STILL on. It's a miracle! Further, we just have one group staying in the Guest House now and one group coming in tonight and going right back out tomorrow. Things are calm(er), and it feels good.

Also in the midst of this craziness, Tom Vencuss, the man who will be replacing Mike once his contract ends, was here this week to kind of learn the ropes and see what all happens behind the scenes. He's a very cool guy and I think I'm definitely going to enjoy working with him. He was a huge help this week and a positive energy to have around.

I should also take this time to announce that I will officially be working/living in Haiti through the end of July of next year. I have been offered a position as the new Assistant Volunteer Management Coordinator for the UMVIM Haiti program and I've accepted. It's my first big girl job with my first big girl title. It feels good!

Lastly, I got to see almost all of my boys last night. It was such a joy to be reunited with most of them and to have a chance to play around and be silly again. Recently, if we've seen them they just want money but they don't want to hang out and play. Last night, though, they were their old, goofy selves and I really enjoyed spending some time with them. I'm so glad that even though the boys have moved off campus, we still remain good friends with them and their families. It's quite the blessing.

Anyway, it's yet another busy day at the Guest House so I should probably be off. I hope you're all swell.

Beth

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Santo Domingo, por favor!

Things have been CRAZY here. CRAZY.

We have 19 teams coming through our UMVIM program this month (AHHH!) and right now we're in the middle of it. There have been teams and out and going all over Haiti. It's been fun but... crazy.

Anyway, in the midst of this, we had to take 3 days off to travel to the Dominican Republic. Actually, we could have traveled anywhere, but we absolutely had to leave the country in order to actually leave the country in the long run. You're not allowed to be in Haiti for more than 3 months without leaving so we left before Mike's time here would "expire."

So we took a bus to Santo Domingo.

BEST IDEA EVER.

I mean, it was a little strange getting there. It's basically an 8 hour drive to get there and you stop 3 times in the middle of it to do all the documentation of leaving Haiti and going into the Dominican. What was especially weird about this, though, was that the "stewardess" on the bus actually held our passports for us and did not let us keep them. It made us quite uneasy at first, but once we realized it was all part of the system, we were a bit more relaxed - although it still felt strange for someone we didn't know to be controlling our passports...

Once we arrived in the Dominican, though, it felt like a whole new world.

No earthquake destruction, poverty was a lot less obvious, the cities had actually been planned and laid out in a logical, grid-like manner, and (once you get to the bigger cities anyway) they had American chain restaurants! Burger King, Pizza Hut, and Baskin Robbins - oh my!

When we reached Santo Domingo, we hopped in a cab and arrived at our hotel. We stayed in a 16th century building. It was the coolest thing EVER. Here's the link to our hotel.

The next day was our big sight-seeing day. I was so glad that we ended up taking one full day in Santo Domingo. We desperately needed a break and it was the perfect way to "get away" and be around something different. When you live here, you don't realize just how much seeing destruction and poverty everywhere really starts to affect your emotional health until you leave it. Just the change in scenery was de-stressing. Again, a MUCH needed break.

As part of our sight-seeing, though, we explored the walking street. I ended up buying a painting (that was much more than I really wanted to spend) and it's AMAZING. I've always wanted to be one of those ladies that has a house with all kinds of unique pieces of art around it, and this is the perfect beginning. I love it.

Then we explored some other parts of town and hired a guide to show us all the historical sites in the afternoon. I didn't realize how important Santo Domingo's history was/is to the western hemisphere - but apparently it's quite important. Columbus landed there and began to colonize it but never actually lived there himself. However, he built a mansion there (with the intention to live in, but again - never ended up living in) which his son eventually lived in. It's a beautiful house.

Besides that, shortly after Columbus first arrived, the first church built in the western hemisphere was built there. In fact, it still stands today. It's also (as expected) beautiful.

Last night, though, as our final "hurrah" we decided to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe in Santo Domingo. It was a slice of heaven and it took us "home" for a short while. It really was the perfect ending to a perfect day and a perfect mini-vacation.

I plan to post pictures of the short event tomorrow. I have a ton of photos so get excited.

Anyway, tomorrow we hit the ground running and the pace will keep up for the next 2-3 weeks. Although it may be stressful at times, it is so cool to see all the dedicated, spirit-filled folks who come through here and to see how much work is done for God's glory. I am constantly in awe and so grateful for the opportunity to participate in God's great plan for Haiti.

Love to all,
Beth

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This is Long Overdue

H’okay so. My dad went home yesterday. :( But it was a good visit while he was here. He significantly improved the internet and it was good to introduce him to some of the friends I’ve made here. Good times mos def.

However, he unfortunately missed one of the best parts of this week.

We’ve been working on this for about a week and a half now. Mike and I decided to use some of our Mission Fund money to give every member of the staff a scholarship for their kids. We based the amount on how many kids they had and divvied up our funds. Then, Ruth, the new manager of the Guest House, talked to Pastor Paul (the President of the Methodist Church of Haiti) and he agreed that the Methodist Church of Haiti would match our scholarship amount.

Yesterday afternoon we got to hand out our scholarships. I cannot even fully describe (as I can’t with many things that happen in Haiti) the joy that overcame so many of our Guest House friends. For many, the amount we gave was able to pay for half of their child’s schooling for the entire year. For one man, with 4 kids, we were able to pay ALL of their schooling because they go to a cheaper school.

That man, Ysmeus, took Mike and I aside at different times and thanked us each profusely. To him, the amount we gave was nothing short of a miracle. While thanking me he was on the verge of tears and could not stop saying “Mesi. Mesi anpil. Mesi anpil anpil.” (Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very very much.) So I want all of you who gave to know that, once again, your money is making a significant difference in the lives of many Haitian families.

Also amazing this week is that Mike and I typed up a work site status report about how much has been done at each site we’ve opened up. It was AMAZING to see what progress had been made since the program first began. I am in awe at how awesome the body of Christ really is. I am also so thankful for the willing volunteers who gave of their time, energy, and love to help rebuild Haiti or continue projects that were stalled by the earthquake. Because of you, many of these communities have a new sense of hope. I love our volunteers!

Lastly, I should note that I’m currently in Les Cayes with Donette, Ablamy, and Davidson. This is our mini vacation for three days. It is so wonderful to see them again, although it was quite the trip to get here today. Bryan, Mike and I got in the D-Max (one of our trucks) at 5:50 this morning and drove to the bus station. When we got to the bus station, we realized that the van we were going to bring to Donette and Ablamy’s was stolen! Arrg. We’ve been having bad luck with things being stolen out of the back of that truck so we’re probably going to have to purchase some sort of net that we always keep back there.

Then we started the ride. It was a four hour trip in a crammed bus… although it did have air conditioning. However, about a half hour from Les Cayes, the bus got a flat tire. We had to pull over and wait. However, it turns out that there wasn’t just a flat tire. Something else was wrong with the wheel and break line. So we stood around for about an hour and waited for them to fix it or Albamy to come. A replacement bus came for everyone to take the rest of the way, and Ablamy came right after it to pick us up.

Now I am safely at Donette and Ablamy’s new home in Les Cayes. It’s a neat house with lots of room. It needs some fixing up, but for the most part it’s quite nice. I’m a fan. :)

Anyway, I’m off. I don’t know if I’ll update again soon, but (as always) I’ll try. Love to all of you!

Beth

P.S. Obviously I wrote this yesterday but just figured out how to post it. I’ll post again when I return with what all has happened since then. :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Prayers

It's becoming much more difficult to come up with a title for these things... especially when I do a catch up post from a whole week. (Sorry!)

I've been fairly busy recently as my dad arrived in Haiti on Thursday. Therefore, I've been hanging out with him and also enjoying some of the movies he brought me from my mom. :) Sorry I've neglected the blog!

Life is as it usually is in Haiti - VIM teams to plan for, various documents to create, and kids to send to school.

As school begins on October 4th, our office has been handing out a TON of scholarships. I was so thankful when my dad arrived with a $1400 donation that I was able to add to our mission fund. Otherwise, we would be VERY low on funds to give to the various families that come to our door. Thank you if you contributed to that fund. Thank you if you're praying for those who receive assistance from that fund. You will probably never know how much you just impacted a life - but please take my word for it when I say your support is a significant blessing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Of course, there was one scholarship that we handed out that made me smile more than any other. Thanks to people giving money specifically to send Robenson and Peter to school... we were able to pay their entire way. Seeing his mothers face when she realized that she wouldn't have to pay a dime for schooling... that she wouldn't have to worry at all about that expense was... amazing. I was thinking about that today and recognizing that if we had not stepped in to help, Robenson's mother would be in a pretty desperate situation. Three kids (one a baby), no income, no leads, a limited education, and a leaky tent. I do not know what she would have done (although some likely responses may have been prostitution, putting up some (or all) of her children for adoption, or putting Robenson into the restavek system) but I do know that it would not have been good. How awesome is it that because God has blessed us financially we are able to bless others in such a significant way?

Which reminds me to ask for a prayer request. Since Robenson got sick, I've been spending a lot of time laying awake at night worrying about what might happen to that family when I leave. I never EVER want Robenson, Peter, little Amanda, or their mother (Lomene) to get that sick again and not be able to pay for proper medical care. I also never want that family to get a point where they have to stop sending a child to school because they cannot afford it. Therefore, I am in the process of trying to get Peter and Robenson into a child sponsorship program. I have a contact and he is working on gathering information for me, but it is still unknown if sponsorship is even going to be a possibility or not. Please pray about this. Pray that this family gets the consistent support they need - if not through child sponsorship, through some other means.

Also, as of right now, I plan to sponsor Robenson myself, but I would love it if one of you would be willing to sponsor Peter if they get into a sponsorship program. Or, if a church or youth group wanted to sponsor Peter - that would also be really, really cool. Pray about it, and if you're interested - please let me know.

Lastly, as some of you already know, it is possible that I will be extending my time in Haiti AGAIN because I may be getting a full-time (big girl) job. I will probably know for sure about this mid-late October. Please also pray for guidance for me as I discern further what I am called to do. It would be a big step and I don't want to do it if it's not what God wants me to do, too.

I know I had more to say - including all the neat stuff I've done with my dad. (We went to the look-out and the beach!) However, I am absolutely exhausted and in great need of a shower. Therefore, I'm signing off. I hope you're all well, though. Please send me an update on your life if you have time. I'd love to hear from all of you!

<3 Beth

Monday, September 20, 2010

Do Good-er

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

These past few days I've been a bit down. I just got into a bad mood and found myself feeling super cranky. It felt like much had gone wrong, and I had two super stressful days - one after another. Beyond that, I didn't really get a "day off" yesterday which added to my bad mood. I needed some fun time. Some down time. However, there was work to get done so that didn't happen.

However, in the midst of my frustration today, I was supremely blessed.

We found out that Robenson does NOT have TB (and we literally did a "Mesi bon dieu!" (Thank you, good God!) cheer with his mother yesterday over it.) However, he did have the UTI, anemia, and a severe respiratory infection. Therefore, he still needs to take antibiotics. We gave him some more money for medicine today.

But it is still quite obvious, in looking back at the situation, that if I had not stepped in and said that I would pay the initial $100 to get him the medical attention he so desperately needed that instead of celebrating his recovery I would be mourning his death. I am also thankful that Mike decided that we could take over the rest of his medical expenses through our Mission Fund. That also means that thanks to many of you, Robenson lives today.

In fact, today, in the midst of my frustration, we saw Robenson. Seeing him instantly made me smile and he came over and handed Mike and I letters. Oge translated mine for me. It was a thank you letter thanking me for helping him with all of his medical expenses and for stepping in when his mother did not have money. At one point the letter literally says, "It is because of you that I have life."

Wow. Not many people work in places where they get the opportunity to literally save a life... but I am so blessed to have that opportunity. I know that I am still not totally aware of all the reasons why God sent me here and kept me here... but every so often I get little glimpses and it's... amazing. How blessed am I to be called in such an awesome, extreme way?

Beyond that, this afternoon Mike sent me an e-mail to make me feel better with the quote at the top of this blog with a simple "Blessings and thanks for all that you do," underneath it. I definitely needed to hear that and it was another excellent reminder of my call. I was able to take a deep breath and recognize, once again the abundant good that I have been able to accomplish.

Which, speaking of abundant good - I realized today that we have given out money from the Mission Fund 40 times - 19 of which were scholarships. I want to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all of you who have donated to our Mission Fund. Your dollars are making a real and tangible difference in the lives of many Haitian families. There are quite a few folks resting a bit easier in their tents tonight thanks to your generosity and love.

Also, I wanted to say thank you for your continued prayers and words of encouragement for me. I feel your prayers surround me all the time and I am so grateful to know so many amazing, supportive brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you for being the awesome blessings that you are.

Love,
Beth

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Time

These past couple of days have been mostly good. The best part is that they've been a bit slower pace allowing me to have time for me and time for God.

Two weeks ago my UMCOR friend, Lauren, invited me to go with her to the Ibo Lele hotel in Petionville to eat dinner and go swimming. It sounded divine. The one thing I really miss about being in the States is going out for coffee and a good chat with friends. Therefore, I was really excited about a makeshift coffee date.

However, as I believe I wrote in here a few days ago, Lauren is still in the States recovering for a severe kidney infection. (Please continue prayers for her healing!) I thought about forgetting the plans and trying to schedule some other time to go once Lauren returned, but that idea kind of sucked. I already knew that day/time would work, and I REALLY needed time away from work and hang out time with a friend. So I asked Oge to come with me - it killed two birds with one stone as it gave me a friend and a driver!

We went to the Ibo Lele, ate lunch, and had great conversation. It was a good choice bringing Oge along - he's good people. It was also just so relaxing. Beautiful day with a nice breeze and an absolutely gorgeous view of the city from their dining deck. I had some friends hand me "self care" money before heading back to Haiti and this is the first time that I used it. Thinking about it now, I am in tears over how grateful I am for that fund. I don't think I can fully express how much I really needed that "coffee date"... but I did and I am so grateful that I didn't have to worry about the expense. I know some good people.

Beyond that it's just been a little of this and a little of that. However, I do have an update on Robenson.

Robenson came by the Guest House today and asked for more money for medicine. He told me that he ran out of his medicine and needed more. I tried to explain to him that if he ran out of the medicine that means he's done and doesn't need to take any more. Once the amount the doctor prescribes runs out... then you're good! However, he was very persistent so I finally took him to Doug and Barry (our new UMCOR health guy who will be living at the Guest House for the next three months so I'm sure you'll hear a lot more about him) who both speak French to get the full scoop.

First of all, we found out what Robenson's diagnosis is. He said that the doctor told him he had anemia and a respiratory infection. Yikes. When we asked him about the medicine, though, he told us that he had only bought enough medicine for 23 days but that the doctor had prescribed antibiotics for 3 months. We all thought that sounded strange until a light bulb went off in Doug's head - Robenson probably has TB.

Now, we don't know this for sure, but we're hoping Robenson brings the prescription to us tomorrow so we can see what it says. If he does have TB, though, I am even happier to have spent the $100 to get him the medical care he needed. When I told Oge that update his eyes bugged out and he said, "TB!?!? TB makes you die... you don't play around with that." Yeah. Exactly. I hope that it is just a generic respiratory infection, but the symptoms and the prescription add up. Once I get confirmation one way or another, I'll let you know.

Beyond that I've just been taking some time to breathe, to pray, to contemplate. Sometimes in the busy-ness of this place it's hard to remember to take the time to listen to God. It's been good to reconnect and slow down a bit. I needed to slow down a bit.

As for now, though, I'm off to bed. Goodnight world!
Beth

P.S. Most recent photos can be found here. :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bainet

So I should begin this entry by telling you that yes, I have showered and changed clothes. This will be important information as you read further. :)

Today was a busy day! However, lets back up a bit.

Mike visited Bainet, Haiti to drop off a team on Friday. The team was from his own Haiti Partnership organization and Bainet is the community of which Mike has volunteered in for the past 6 years. Therefore, he really wanted to travel with the team to make sure everything was good to go once they arrived. He brought Carlos, a 16 year old boy from the village, back to the Guest House to hang out with us for two days.

Carlos is a TON of fun. He doesn't speak any English (basically) and I don't speak enough Kreyol to communicate many full thoughts, but we still had a blast together mostly because he's so funny. He's just this funny, nerdy, goofy kid who does the most random stuff at the most random times. This is all to say that we got along great and I'd really love for him to come visit again.

Because Carlos was here we went to the beach again on Sunday. This time we went to Obama beach named (of course) after the President of the United States. Too funny. It was a nice, cozy beach, though and it was very cheap. Excellent time.

Also, we found out yesterday that approximately half of my boys were moving out of the tent city today. As a special "goodbye" Mike and I went to the Epid'or and bought a cake to share with them. It was so wonderful to give them each a big slice of cake and be showered with hugs and shouts of "mesi!" We even took some photos that I hope to upload soon, but my favorite shot is now my new Facebook profile picture. I'm very hopeful that even after the kids move they'll still come to visit fairly regularly, though.

Now. Today.

Well, as Mike is usually on a Haiti Partnership team to Bainet at some point during the year, he really wanted to spend some time in Bainet if possible. Therefore, we delivered him today and he'll stay through Friday when the team comes back to the Guest House.

I tagged along for the ridiculous journey as Mike and I had work to do (so we did it on the road) and I wanted to see the Bainet I had heard Mike and Bryan talk about so much. This is my documentation of what happened today. Enjoy.

So we were supposed to leave at 6:30 (which is when I usually wake up) so I got up at 5:45. Just enough time to roll out of bed, get dressed, and eat a quick breakfast. Although that all happened, we didn't end up leaving until 7:30. This was mostly due to various things on our checklist that needed to be completed as well as questions to answer. Also, there were approximately 5 people who requested to have our one empty seat to Bainet. Mike had finally given it to Boss Weche, the site boss for Bainet (as well as the majority of our other work sites.) However, one person who had talked to Mike about it a week ago but never checked in to be sure that it would still work just showed up this morning, ready to go. That was also interesting to deal with and we had to find alternate transportation for them.

We finally got on the road (Oge, Mike, Carlos and I) at 7:30 and picked up Weche in Carrefour around 8:30. We had been working in the car up to that point, and continued working after Weche got in the vehicle. So much to do before Mike went to Bainet and became much less reachable!

By ten my bladder was "bursting with hurtness" so we attempted to make a pit stop at a gas station with a bathroom. We stopped at a place that Mike said, "Oh yeah, this is my favorite place to stop with a toilet." However, he had not visited the toilet since the earthquake. It used to have this big wall around it and a door. Now, the wall is falling partially apart and there is no door. Also, the bathroom is actually an outhouse with just a concrete circle jutting from the floor. Mike went first while I kept guard and then we switched.

It was, by far, the nastiest toilet I had ever seen. It was wet and goopy all around the edges and it smelled LOVELY. Also, Mike had warned me that there was no toilet paper so that made it even more pleasant. I attempted to squat over it without having to touch anything to it but then... I lost my balance and fell... sitting on the wet, goopy, concrete circle. It was disgusting. (See, aren't you glad to know that I've showered and changed clothes, now?) The worst part was that I didn't even have toilet paper to wipe off with so I just had to walk around like that and go sit in the car... still feeling the goopiness on my tush.

What I found out from Oge and Mike was that I needed to "Haitian squat." Haitian squatting is when you stand on both sides of the concrete slab and squat down to do your business. When I found out that people did that a few of my fears were put to rest... I'm guessing that the goopiness came from mud on people's shoes at the ground outside the outhouse was quite muddy. At least, that's what I'm going to keep on telling myself.

After that fun little escapade we found out that the Haiti Partnership team did not have access to clean water as their usual water supplier closed up shop for a while. Therefore, they had almost fully depleted their 10 jugs of water that we had sent out with them. This meant that we needed to stop in Jacmel to purchase water for the team as well as hire a tap-tap to deliver it to them as there was no space in our truck for 10 more water jugs.

That was another interesting excursion because we ended up searching all over Jacmel for water jugs. We found lots of places that had water, but none of them had any empty water jugs to sell us. It was crazy. Finally, after about 20-30 minutes of driving all over the city, we found some water jugs. After that, though, it still took us another 20 minutes - half hour to purchase the jugs and arrange everything for them to be transported to Bainet.

Finally, we started the final leg to Bainet (after grabbing some street food for lunch which, thank God, did not make me sick.) The road to Bainet from Jacmel is a long one and it's totally unpaved. It's very rocky and, therefore, very bouncy. Not for the faint of stomach.

After you drive on it for two hours you finally arrive in Bainet. It's a beautiful little town in the country and had the same sort of energy that a campsite does in the States. Low key, relaxed, outdoorsy. Very nice area. I can see why Mike likes it so much.

However, after we arrived we did discover that some items had been stolen from our truck bed including all of Mike's work shoes which in total cost over $100. Big bummer to the beginning of his stay in Haiti. Luckily, though, none of the money that was in the back was included in the bags stolen. That is a huge thing to be thankful for.

The trip home was uneventful and much faster. Oge was very concerned about us getting back before dark so he drove as fast as he possibly could while still being safe. We ended up arriving back at the Guest House around 6:30. Long day.

Now I am exhausted and more than ready for bed. I hope you're all well and I'm going to try to post some pictures to Facebook soon!

Love,
Beth

Friday, September 10, 2010

Whirlwind

Busybusybusybusybusy!

I'm really hoping and praying for some down time this weekend because I am going to NEED IT. That's why I haven't updated in a week! So much going on.

Anyway, the biggest announcement is that Robenson is almost completely healed! He's been around these past two days and he's back to his normal self which is SO GOOD to see. I have missed seeing his smiling face immensely. Thanks be to God!

As for other things, last Sunday we went to the beach with Oge and his family. It was so much fun to spend more time with little Laura again and get to know his wife, Josianne, better. We found a fun little beach called "Ocean View" and had a blast. It was small, but quite relaxing and laid-back. Great visit, and much needed. However, driving there and driving back we passed this HUGE tent city. It has always been there but it seems to be growing. Our tent city should disband in 5 days, but I'm guessing a lot of other tent cities are being forced to disband and many families are moving to this area as there's quite a bit of space. However, it was quite sad. I took some photos but it does not even truly begin to describe the scene there. PLEASE continue to pray for the people of Haiti living in tent cities - they are still here and still struggling.

Also, Davidson's last day with us was yesterday. Donette and Ablamy came back from vacation so we met them at the airport to drop off Davidson and transfer his stuff to their vehicle. I think he was very sad to go, but also very happy to see Donette and Ablamy at the same time. I'm sure he'll be happy once he gets to Les Cayes. I'm still so thrilled that he's not going to an orphanage.

Yesterday we also had a scare when we found out our friend working at UMCOR, Lauren, is severely ill. Doug went to the hospital to help out with that yesterday and they eventually decided to evacuate her back to the States. They believe she has malaria and kidney stones, but they weren't for sure. Please keep her in your prayers tonight as well.

As for today - well today was crazy. We've been off of city power for two and a half days now so our inverters completely ran out of power. Therefore, we were out of power for a while until we turned on the generator to juice everything up. That was pretty crazy. Also SUPER CRAZY is that our driver, Espana, got stopped by the police today... for a really stupid reason! While we were stopped in traffic a guy next to us rolled down his window and asked Espana a question, he responded and all the sudden these three police officers get out of their vehicle and demand to see Espana's license. He gives it to them and they take it from him saying he was "holding up traffic" because the vehicles in front of us moved literally seconds before they got out of the car. They told him he had to go wait for them at a gas station down the road if he wanted his license back.

So we went down the road and waited 20 minutes. They still hadn't come so Espana dropped us off at the Epid'or and then went back to the gas station to wait for them. He probably waited an hour total before they finally showed up and then do you know what they said? "You didn't really do anything wrong. We wanted to get the guy who was talking to you, but he drove away so we took yours instead. Here's your license back." Jigga whaaaat? It was just very strange.

I've been living in Haiti long enough to where very few things still surprise me, but that was just weird. I suppose that happens when there's corruption in the government, though. I'm glad that they didn't make Espana pay anything, though, and owned up to the fact that they took his license and yelled at him for no reason.

Also, just a heads up, I will probably be updating more this week. That is because we won't have as many teams come through this week, and Bryan isn't here as he went out with a team to Bainet. Therefore, I'll have very few distractions in the evening and might actually have time to blog and keep you all up to date on everything. Also, on Monday I will be taking the trip to Bainet and I hear it's quite the excursion. I'm sure I'll have a lot to say about it when I return. :)

Sending love, peace, and joy your way,
Beth

Friday, September 3, 2010

Various stuffs.

Went to Petit Goave today. It was a long trip (2.5 hours each way) and not really worth it (found out I didn't actually need to do much once I got there) but it was cool to see one thing...

Do you remember when I talked about seeing the tents set up in the median on the way to Mellier? Well, some of those tents... are gone! I was absolutely thrilled when I saw that. That means that some of those families have found other places to stay which are (more than likely) safer, bigger, and have more privacy. That is awesome. Hopefully there won't be a single tent there some day soon.

As for what we've been doing these past few days it's been a little of this and little of that. Robenson has been in and out of here the past couple of days. He got his x-ray done, but I'm not sure what the test results were for that. However, he seems to have quite a bit more energy than he had the day we took him to the clinic and I think his fever has gone down which is also good. I'm still not sure about what his diagnosis is, but the fact that he's feeling better is fantastic.

I also went to our Thomas work site for the first time a couple of days ago. We had to drop off the team, hand off some funds, and check on a few things. It's a neat work site - they're rebuilding a church and a school which is all in one building. The lower level is the school and the upper level is the church. The school is the most rebuilt now, though, so they've been holding church in the school, apparently. It was a very neat work site. I will, as I am with all of our work sites, be excited to see the progress that happens there.

Lastly, Oge and I went on a bit of a scavenger hunt the other day. I've been working on a "tree project" for quite some time now. The idea is to plant a tree at every work site that we're working on and maybe (depending on the work site) even plant one per team on each work site. When thinking about this, we thought it would be best to plant a tree that would also provide some sort of nourishment for the community. We decided that mango trees would be our best bet. However, believe it or not, it's a lot harder to find mango trees to buy than you would think. We went to three different places last week before Oge finally called a friend of his to ask where might be the best place to get them.

His friend suggested a place called "Double Harvest." We found out that Double Harvest is actually a non-profit with headquarters in the U.S. They have a HUGE farm in Croix de Bouquets. Although Croix de Bouquets is at least an hour away, Oge and I drove there to check it out. We found out that mango trees there are 50 gourdes each - approximately $1.25 per tree! Isn't that nuts!?!? Anyway, we were thrilled to hear that and hopefully (once we create an exact plan) we'll start planting trees on our work sites soon! Hooray!

So yep, those are my updates. Good stuff goin on. I hope everything is good back in the States (I hear the weather in KC is incredibly awesome today - I gotta admit that I'm a bit jealous!)

Beth

Monday, August 30, 2010

What's Important

So much has been happening! I would have updated sooner but our internet has been funky these past two nights. Sorry about that!

First of all, the tent city. On Friday I was walking with one of our best interpreters, Jean Claude, back to the Guest House after visiting the Methodist Print Shop on campus. When walking by the tent city, we realized that there was some sort of meeting going on. I asked Jean Claude what they were saying so we hung around for a little while so he could get the gist. He told me that the man who was speaking to them was announcing that they would need to leave in September and so they needed to start cleaning up their spaces so it would be a quick, easy move when the time came.

I had a lot of questions after that, but most have been answered by now. Yes, it is true that they need to leave. The exact date that they will have to go: September 15. The man who was speaking to them was the principal of Freres school. It must have been a reasonable deal that they struck with the people in our tent city because there wasn't any rioting or upset people coming to us. However, they did not give them a place to move to. I was angry about that until we talked to some of the kids and they all told us that they had other places to go. Not homes - but other tent cities where other extended family members are. Luckily, it also seems like many of them are staying fairly close by and will (hopefully) come to visit fairly often. Good deal.

Which brings me to my next story. Robenson, Peter, and their mother and sister all moved off campus. :( They did this because Mike helped set Robenson's mother up with a micro loan to start a small business on the street selling books. However, the location where she was able to set up her store is at least one or two tap-tap rides away so it was better for them to just move closer. Because of this, we hadn't seen much of Peter and Robenson over the past two weeks. They were around when I first arrived, but a few days after that was when they moved. Thankfully, though, they still come to visit. I know I'm not supposed to play favorites, but Robenson holds a very special place in my heart. I have high hopes for his future.

Anyway, the day after I arrived, Robenson was explaining that he felt ill. I could tell that he must have been feeling sick because his energy was totally gone. He looked exhausted. We gave him some meds hoping that he'd be feeling normal again soon.

However, that did not happen. I saw Robenson for the first time in a week about four days ago and he told me that he was still sick. This was alarming to me because it wasn't just a bad cough - but it was a fever. On top of that, he had kept the fever and his symptoms got worse and worse over the past two weeks. He still looked as exhausted as he had at the beginning of this illness. Also, he had lost weight. Not good.

He told me, though, that he had gone to the doctor and he would start on medicine the next day. That made me feel much better and I gave him a hug goodbye, saying a little prayer for healing.

We saw him yesterday before he went to church and he was still very sick, but I also know (especially with my recent sick experience) that it often takes two days before the medicine starts to make a noticeable difference. I figured he would begin to feel better by the afternoon, and start to feel much better by today.

That did not happen, though. He and his mother came by this morning to drop off information about Peter and Robenson's schooling and it was obvious, once again, that Robenson still felt quite ill. I asked about it and his mother explained that he was, indeed, very sick. He had barely slept at all the night before because his chest hurt and he was coughing too much. Also, his appetite was completely gone, he still had a fever, and as he stood before me (in 87 degree weather) he was shivering. His mother told me that they had seen a doctor, but it was one at the free clinic, and they did not do a good job. They had just prescribed vitamins and pain killers.

Having a fever that lasts a week is bad. Having a fever that lasts two and a half weeks is VERY bad and can often be life threatening. I was not about to have Robenson get worse or potentially die just because his family could not afford appropriate medical care. So, I took out $100, asked Oge about the best place for him to go, and we drove the two of them to City Med to see a good doctor and to get the treatment he so desperately needed.

They got home on their own, and came by the Guest House to report what had happened. They did several tests (he doesn't have malaria - thank God!) and they had given him a shot full of antibiotics. Also, they prescribed bronchial medication and vitamin C. Tomorrow he will go in for an x-ray to see if there's anything else wrong with his chest - which is what's bothering him the most. Already, thanks to that shot I believe, he had much more energy and he even asked for food. We had offered him food earlier in the day, but he just wasn't hungry. The fact that he was hungry was a VERY good sign.

Anyway, prayers for Robenson's healing would be appreciated. I stated on my Facebook that it was the easiest $100 I ever spent and it truly was. That is, once again, the most amazing part of living in Haiti - there are endless possibilities around you to make a real, tangible difference in people's lives. I'm already excited for seeing Robenson once he's fully healed. I'm hopeful that it will happen soon and I'm also hopeful that the x-ray's tomorrow will help determine what exactly is wrong.

I hope all is well in the States. As always, I'm sending love and blessings your way.
Beth

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Scholarships

Today my mom scolded me for being "a terrible blogger." Yes, I know. I know... it's been a long time since my last update. I will say that this is mostly because I am not doing much outside the norm. Also, it means that I'm generally spending the time that I would be blogging with people instead. However, I know that blogging is important so I'll try to make more time for it from here on out - at least when there are interesting stories to tell.

We did recently go to Jacmel again on Sunday and Monday as we had some time off. There weren't any guests at the Guest House so it was the perfect time to get away. We stayed at a lovely (air conditioned) hotel with GREAT food and an awesome view. Overall, it was exactly the relaxing trip that we needed. Things had been pretty stressful this past week so it was good to get away for a night.

However, the real purpose of this particular entry is to let you know that the money you donated towards this trip to Haiti is already being put to good use.

Thanks to the amount of money donated, I was able to put $1000 into a discretionary fund. This was particularly exciting because Mike's discretionary fund was on it's last legs. Already your money has helped in numerous ways.

1. Davidson's biological mother came by and expressed a need for funds for a medical exam, x-ray, and medicine. This cost approximately $38.
2. A 14 year old boy (who we had never met before - named Reitveld) came by the Guest House hoping to get scholarship money for his secondary school. His schooling is INCREDIBLY expensive. He was a very sweet young boy, though, and it was obvious that he had a strong desire to continue his education. We gave him $100 but it felt like barely a drop in the bucket. I am hopeful that his family will be able to come up for the rest. I would love to see him continue his schooling.
3. Jammes, the Guest House accountant, also asked for scholarship money for his sister who is in secondary school in Cap Haitien. We were able to give him $80 to help with that, but might up the amount to $100 depending on what other money comes in.
4. We've also been able to help with random needs. For example, Mike's shoe shine guy came today for the 4th time this week. Mike said he didn't have any shoes for the man to shine because he just shined his shoes. The man told us that he hadn't worked all day, though, because no one wanted their shoes shined. He was hungry and he needed to feed his family. Therefore, we were able to pay him what we would for a shoe shine job without him doing the work. Now he can eat!

Basically, your money is doing good things and I just wanted you all to be aware of how your generosity is such a blessing to others. Also, it's been a good reminder of how there are daily opportunities to really make a difference in people's lives here.

Also, after I preached a few Sunday's back, many of you asked about providing scholarships for Robenson to continue schooling and get Peter, his younger brother, into school. Rest assured that we are working on that and hope to enroll both of them in school within the next few weeks. :)

Beyond that, things have been as they usually are here. Groups to receive, groups to send off to their various work sites, work sites to visit, money to distribute, e-mails to send, people to meet with, etc. Lots of good work to be done for various communities all over Haiti. I feel blessed, as always to be a part of it.

Sending love, peace, and abundant joy your way,
Beth

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Laid back

So what have I done during these past few days? Not much of anything super significant.

I've been working on a brochure for the Guest House, finishing up the name badges so we can (finally) print them, going on shopping trips for teams going out into the field, and various other random things. Beyond that, I've gone swimming with Davidson and Bryan and I finished watching all of Season 1 of Community with Bryan.

We also visited the Baptist Mission and the look out the other day with a group. I love the Baptist Mission and the look out. However, after being in Haiti for as long as I have, there's not much to do at the Baptist Mission anymore except eat and see if they have any new stuff in their store. The shop owners on the side of the road have cool stuff, too, but we've seen most of it at this point and since I'm not headed home for another 4 months - I don't have much that I'm looking to buy in terms of gifts. Even with all of that, I still like going to the Baptist Mission mostly because it's so beautiful and cool up there. It's definitely one of my most recommended places for people coming to Haiti.

Today has been pretty crazy so far. We had to get a team to a work site and get a team to the airport so there was lots of packing up and arranging things. I also got to take a team on a tour of our campus and say hi to the kids. It's still so amazing to me that so many of the tents have left that we now have half a basketball court for the kids to use for recreation again. Love it.

So yes, that's why I haven't really been updating - not much to update! However, we are taking another trip to Jacmel tomorrow (and this time with Davidson) so I'm certain that I'll have much more to report in the next two days. :)

I hope that you're all well... I'll work on having better stories for next time. :)
Beth

Monday, August 16, 2010

On the Mend

It's been an interesting past couple of days. Sorry that I haven't kept up with my blogging as much, but that's mostly due to one big thing - I got very ill.

It all started on Saturday. We went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch - yes, in Haiti - which ended up actually being quite delicious. I should also mention that by "we" I mean myself, Bryan (yes, he's back for a while - hooray!), Mike, Doug, Oge, and Davidson. I totally forgot to mention in my first entry that Davidson is not going to the orphanage any longer. After arriving in Cayes, Donette and Ablamy realized that they could care for Davidson and have decided to take him with them. However, as Donette is on vacation until early - mid September Mike agreed to take care of him until then. Therefore, he's hanging out at the Guest House with us. That was a joyful surprise to come home to. :)

Anyway, after Chinese, we went out for ice cream and then came back to the Guest House and got back to work. I noticed that as the day went on though, I got to be in a pretty bad mood. I had this cough that was developing and I was exhausted. Bryan suggested that we go swimming so Bryan, Davidson, Johnny (Erick's nephew), Elysee (Johnny's friend), and I jumped in. However, I was FREEZING. I thought the water might just be unusually cold, but when I realized that everyone else was not that cold... I became a bit concerned that I might be coming down with something.

That night, I had several hot and cold flashes that told me that I was probably coming down with a fever. Come Sunday morning, I had a terrible headache, my throat was extremely sore, my cough was still there, and I had a fever. This was a HUGE bummer because it was supposed to be a beach day for us and I, obviously, had to end up missing it. Big bummer.

So I ended up essentially sleeping all day, drinking a ton of water, and taking antibiotics. Yesterday I was still pretty sick, but started feeling much better - especially when I took Advil as well. I was so sick that today, once I began feeling MUCH better Mike said, "Oh look! Beth's among the living again!" It felt good.

I will say, though, that I felt bad because my boys kept on calling for me wanting to help me while I was sick, but I couldn't go near them and I didn't know how to say, "I'm sick so I can't hug you." I could tell them that I was sick, but that didn't relay the "don't touch me" part. Therefore, I just had to keep my distance at all times... which sucked but it was for their benefit.

Luckily, though, as I said, today I began to feel MUCH better. I still have a TERRIBLE cough, but the fever is totally gone and the majority of my energy is back. Therefore, we decided today would be a good day to visit Carrefour Manse.

I visited there right before I went back to the States and before any work happened on it. Let me tell you... it's dramatically different! Not much rebuilding has happened, it's mostly gutting the building now before rebuilding and repairs can happen. However, demolition is progress in the world of construction so it was very cool to see how far things have gone in 3.5 weeks.

Anyway, it's definitely my bed time. Goodnight friends. I hope all is well your way!

Beth

Friday, August 13, 2010

I made it!

So I just wanted to update quickly to tell you I made it safe and sound. I hit a few bumps during my traveling - including getting my baggage right as it started pouring and then having to wait under a tarp for a good while before finally walking to our vehicle - but I'm here safely now. :)

I also had another celebrity sighting at the airport but I'm not sure who it was. At first I thought it was Wyclef, but apparently it was not. I saw a picture of him today and realized that he does not have a beard and the person I saw did. I'm now thinking, after further investigation, that it may have been Will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas. Either way - it's pretty cool.

As soon as I arrived at the Guest House I was also greeted instantly by my boys. Apparently they had been waiting for me all day, yelling "Beth, Beth!" whenever any car pulled into the Guest House driveway. However, we came around the back way so they didn't see me pull in. When we started walking closer to the Swiss House, they heard my voice and started yelling, "Beth, Beth, Beth!" Eventually, they turned the corner and saw me and I was attacked with hugs. It was a very happy reunion.

It feels great to be in Haiti again and it actually felt like coming... home. I feel like a girl who now lives in two totally different worlds - but I love it. Wouldn't have it any other way.

I hope all is well back home - I'm sure it is!
Beth

Monday, August 9, 2010

Preparing

So now that my time in KC is nearing an end, I'm preparing to head back to Haiti.

This consists of a lot of things. Practical things like obtaining insurance, taking money out of the bank, getting malaria meds, buying toiletries, and packing are certainly taking up quite a bit of my time. Also, I have a great desire to see many of my friends before I head out - which I've also been spending a significant time doing.

Beyond that, I've been trying to mentally prepare myself. Four months is a long time - the longest I will have ever been away from my family. However, I know that God is good and will take care of me. I also know that I have a Haitian family (or at least, a family made up of people living in Haiti with me) that will be there to support me. Further, it is looking like one or both of my parents might be able to come visit me in October around my halfway point, so that would also be super exciting.

I've also been doing some personal discernment as to how long God might really be calling me to be in Haiti. At this point, it seems as if I may have a few options if I feel like God is calling me to extend my time even further than these four months. I would still come home in December - can't spend Christmas in Haiti - but it might happen that I come back to Haiti instead of working in the States after that. Prayers for my continued discernment would be appreciated.

I suppose that things just feel different this time around. I'm super excited to see my Haiti friends and jump back into things there. I feel much more excited, in general, than I did last time. Last time, I was quite nervous... it was a nervous excitement. I didn't really know what I was getting into or how things might pan out over the 2 months. Now, though, I know what I'm getting into and I'm stoked for it.

Things that I am excited for:
Giving my boys a big hug.
Seeing my many other Guest House pals - Oge, Erick, Johnny, Claire, Marie Claude, and Belorne just to name a few.
Seeing Mike, Doug, and Bryan of course. :)
The excellent food at the Guest House.
Trips to the beach.
New places in Haiti still left to explore.
Movie nights.
Progress at the work sites - I'll be especially interested in hearing about Carrefour Manse's progress... two work teams have been there since I've been home so I bet quite a bit has changed!
English classes.
Learning more Kreyol.
God speaking to me in new and powerful ways.

Lastly, I wanted to tell you all that I preached at Living Water Christian Church (the church that my mom planted 5 years ago) this Sunday. If you would like to listen to the sermon, please click here and enjoy! If you miss it this week, though, it will be moved to the worship archive space on the site so you can still find it there!

Sending peace, love, and joy your way - next time I update I'll be updating from Haiti! :)

Beth

Monday, July 26, 2010

Kansas City

So I suppose I should update and let you all know that I made it safely home to Kansas City.

It's weird being here, though. It doesn't feel like much has changed or anything. It's still great to see my friends and family, especially since it doesn't feel like anything has changed. That's always good to come home to. :)

However, this world is so vastly different from Haiti that being here makes Haiti feel like it's a billion miles away. I think that's what I'm going to struggle with the most - how do I help people from this place truly understand the realities that exist in Haiti? Prayers would be helpful as I explore that further.

Also prayers would be appreciated as I continue to process everything. I was processing things while I was in Haiti, but it's different trying to process things in the States because you're in a different context. Not that it's a bad context - just different. It's interesting to come back to a reality I've grown up knowing with knowledge of a new reality and trying to find ways to process both.

Anyway, yes, I am in Kansas City safe and sound. I'm headed to Colorado tomorrow and after about a week I'll be back in KC until the 12th. Then, I head back to Haiti to spend 4 months. I have a very strange life, but I suppose I wouldn't have it any other way. :)

Love to you and you and you and you,
Beth

Saturday, July 24, 2010

On the Road Again

So I’m writing this report from the Port-au-Prince airport, but posting it later when I’m safe in my hotel room in Miami. I got through security, immigration, and everything else super quickly so I have about an hour and a half to kill. Cool and lame at the same time.

Today was hard. I’ll just be honest. Today was hard.

I mean, it already kind of sucks that my flight was so late that I was in the “ready to go” mind set, but I didn’t actually leave the Guest House until close to 2. Therefore, that’s almost a full day’s work before leaving and so things were as crazy as they usually were. It was weird and difficult to be in the “ready to go” mindset but also stay in the “ready to work and deal with life as usual in Haiti” mindset.

Also strange was that absolutely no one was ready to see me go. I mean, when I left the States, most people did not really want me to go – they would have preferred for me to stay there and have a great summer with them. However, they knew that this was such a great opportunity for me and most everyone was super supportive and weren’t upset to see me go.

This was different. Now, again, most were happy that I’d get to see my friends and family – but they weren’t excited at all about me being gone – especially since I’ll be gone for 2 and a half weeks. Mike did not want me to leave (he even threatened to rip up my passport a few times), Oge and Erick did not want me to leave, and many others expressed their sadness over me leaving. The worst, though, was saying goodbye to my boys.

I told you that yesterday they were already upset. The fact that I was leaving was a reality that was never far from their minds. But yesterday was nothing compared to today. Today, Robenson was outside my door at 6:30 a.m. sharp –when he knew my alarm would go off. I shooed him away for a short while so I could get dressed and pack up a few last minute things. By the time I came outside, though, he rushed and gave me a big hug saying, “Pa ale, Beth. Pa ale.”

He was soon joined by Davidson who also gave me a huge hug and showered me with kisses. He quickly joined Robenson in the “Pa ale” chant. I just hugged them back for a while before I had to let go to go to breakfast. It was then that I knew today was going to be difficult.

In a little over an hour, I had a whole group of boys standing outside the office wanting to talk to me every time I walked by. Their time with me was precious and it was running out. They all knew it. However, I often had to say “pita” (later) because I was busy doing other things.

When I finally saw Oge this morning I asked him how he was. He responded with, “Sad.” Yeah.

Again it is just so amazing to me how I’ve become so much of the fabric here. In just two months I have built such strong relationships, and become such a vital part of the daily life at the Guest House. It’s definitely been a God thing. I knew that God wanted me to come here, but I didn’t know just how much I would be affected as well as how much I would affect others.

When it was finally time for me to load up the van to head to the airport, things got really nuts. I went inside the Swiss House to grab my things and when I walked outside I was greeted by Robenson. As soon as he saw my big suitcase, though, and realized that I was really leaving… he had tears streaming down his eyes. Soon, Davidson saw me and came over. As an act of love and kindness, he grabbed my laptop bag to help me carry it to the van.

By the time I arrived at the van, Robenson could barely control himself. I kept on trying to tell them that it would be okay and that I was coming back. I also kept on trying to remind them that Bryan was coming today so they could have some fun with him. Nothing seemed to work, though.

Once all of my stuff was loaded in the van, I started my rounds of hugs. Only 3 kids were there so I started with Robenson first, trying to give him a comforting hug. He didn’t hug back, though. It almost seemed like it was just too hard for him.

I then gave a quick hug to McKinley who was making fun of Robenson crying. We told him to stop, but boys will be boys – and he let up a little, but not a lot.

The hardest one, though, was hugging Davidson. Davidson had been pretty happy all day. I mean, he gave me more kisses than usual and held his hugs a lot longer and told me not to go… but in general he seemed to be in a decent mood. However, when Davidson walked over to give me a hug I saw the tears start to well up in his eyes. By the time I had my arms wrapped around him, he had become a puddle of tears. I held him there as long as I could, but I had to let go so I could get on the road.

Davidson was especially difficult because I know he was thinking that he would never see me again. By the time I come back, he’ll be living in his new orphanage. Apparently, Mike had told him several times that day that I would be visiting him when I came back, but that never helped. Each time he thought about me leaving and that fact that he would be gone by the time I came back – he became very upset. That moment in my arms was when he lost it, though, was tough. It’s extremely difficult for me to think about it now without breaking into tears, myself. It was hard to be strong for them in that moment, but I knew that if I lost it, too – it would be worse.

Mike asked me how I was doing once we were on the road. I said I was okay and he said, “Well, you’re doing very well considering what you just went through. I think I would have lost it.” I said, “Yeah. I just can’t think about it. At least not yet – maybe when I get to my hotel room tonight.”

So now I’m on my way back to the States – or at least, I’m in the airport waiting to board the flight to the States. I’m leaving Haiti with a mix of emotions. Excited to see my friends and family while also totally bummed to be leaving my friends here in Haiti. I suppose that’s why I also feel extremely blessed and glad to be able to come back and continue my time here. I know that God has called me to this place.

Sending peace and love your way. Hopefully I’ll see many of you soon. :)

<3 Beth

Edit: I am now safe and sound in Miami, heading to Kansas City tomorrow. Thank you for your prayers for safe travels!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pa ale

So today was a good day, a weird day, but overall it was mostly uneventful.

I definitely had the "last day" cloud looming over me all day, though. I told the boys today that I was leaving for the United States tomorrow. I instantly had three boys clinging to me, some crying, all saying, "Pa ale! Pa ale! Pa ale!" (Don't go! Don't go! Don't go! in Kreyol) I told them that my family misses me and I miss them. I said I needed to see my manman (mom), papa (dad), and frere (brother.) Eventually they resorted to begging me to call my mom and tell her that I'm not coming.

They were begging so hard that finally said, "Okay, I'll call my mom and you can talk to her." Suddenly the sadness turned to 3 giddy boys - way too excited to talk to my mom. Luckily, she picked up and I was able to pass the phone around to all three boys for each of them to say, "Hello," How are you," and "What is your name?" It was adorable to watch as they all tried to steal the phone from one another to talk to a woman they had never met before. Because she was my mom, though, she was special.

Within an hour, all the boys in the tent city knew that I was leaving and I was having waves of boys coming by. They offered hugs and kept on asking me if I was really going tomorrow. After I told them that yes, I really was going, I was instantly asked, "When are you coming back?" In the afternoon, Stanley came to visit and said he had something for me. When I came outside, he presented me with a bracelet he and Robenson made for me - complete with Argentina colors. Very touching - it will be a while before I take that off.

I always knew that I was loved here, but the response I got when they found out I was leaving really showed me how much I had become a part of the fabric here. I'm definitely going to miss them when I'm gone.

As a "last hurrah" before I return home a group of us went out for a really nice dinner tonight. Mike, Ablamy, Davidson, Oge, Doug, and I all went to the Karibe Hotel/Conference Center to eat at a buffet that others had told us about and said was delicious. They weren't kidding - best meal I've had in Haiti. They had amazing beef, cucumbers(!), pumpkin soup, and the best balsamic vinaigrette I've ever had - although it may have tasted that good because it had been so long since I last had it. Delicious.

We also called Hal (who was here at the beginning of my stay) to say hello. He's currently in California and doing well. Also called was Donette, as she's gone in the Bahamas, Nate, and Bryan - as his flight got cancelled today to come back to Haiti. Instead, he's coming back tomorrow after I'll be going through security in the airport. Very sad - definitely put a bit of the damper on the day, but at least Bryan will still be here when I return. It was good that we got to talk to him tonight, though, as well as everyone else we had the opportunity to talk to. :)

Anyway, now I get to go take a shower and pack. It's so weird to think that I'll be headed back to the States tomorrow. Although, I'm spending tomorrow night in Miami so it won't really be "home" quite yet. When I get to KC around noon on Sunday I'll be happy.

Sending blessings your way,
Beth

Video

I made this video about my summer in Haiti. Enjoy!



Blessings,
Beth

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

31 Dollars

Today was super busy, but also super fulfilling.

This morning Mike and I were running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Financial stuff to check, people to meet with (LOTS of people to meet with,) and groups to assign and contact. Whew! Then we ate some lunch and went to go buy Robenson some new sandals as his were VERY worn out.

We did a few other things today, too - went to two car places to check on three different vehicles (two new ones, one getting repaired) and came back in enough time to do what was, to one family, a small miracle.

So right after lunch, when we were going to buy Robenson's shoes he told us that he got kicked out of school today. Mike and I had noticed that he had been around in the morning when usually he was at school. Mike asked him why and he explained that his mother was behind 4 months in school payments. Because they couldn't pay - they sent him home.

Now, this is tragic for any child. It really stinks knowing that simply because you cannot afford school, you can no longer receive an education. However, this was particularly tragic for Robenson because he was just weeks away from taking the government exam which (if he passed) would state that he graduated primary school. Without school, though, he cannot take the exam. Absolutely tragic - especially for such an intelligent 11 year old like Robenson.

So, me, heartbroken over it, asked Mike how much his school costs. We found out it cots 300 gourdes per month, so his tab was up to 1200 gourdes - 31 US dollars. At that point it was obvious, we had to do something.

We had to be smart about it, though. We couldn't just hand him the money or just hand his mother the money and not expect others to ask us for money for school as well. So, we found Robenson's mother when we came back from the car places and asked her about the situation. She told us that yes, Robenseon had been sent home because she could not pay his school fees. She told us that her husband, who ran a small store on the street (their only income) died in the earthquake. They also lost their house in the earthquake. Now, she has no income, no house, and no place to go. Therefore, a $31 fee is a difficult price to pay. Robenson is also her only child in school - she hasn't even started Peter in school because she cannot afford it.

So Mike, Oge, and I pulled her into a more secluded space and gave her the 1200 gourdes needed for Robenson to continue school and take his final exams on the 4th and 5th of August. She was on the verge of tears. We were, too, recognizing the profound impact that simple $31 had on this family. She thanked us over and over again and Mike responded with a, "Well, we're just happy to give you a small blessing today." So true - but it blessed us as well.

After that encounter it was obvious to us that we needed to more actively pursue funding for school scholarships here. Mike said that he would be contacting his organization - the Haiti Partnership - to see what funds might be available for that. Hopefully we'll be able to sponsor more kids and help more families through this financially (among other things) unstable time.

I should also note that today I met Davidson's mother. Davidson, if you remember, lives with Ablamy and Donette because his mother cannot afford to care for him. She was here today, however, because Donette and Ablamy will soon be moving Davidson to an orphanage/boys home right before they move out of Petionville. She was here to see him, talk with Donette and Ablamy, and make plans to attend Davidson's baptism on Sunday. I'm totally bummed that I'll miss that - but I'll be there in spirit.

But yes, Davidson will soon be moved off this campus. That's a very sad reality for everyone, but for him especially. He's become extra clingy since then. He's always enjoyed giving me big hugs and kisses on the cheek, but now he does it several times in one encounter and holds on a lot longer. Tonight I was helping him with learning the alphabet and at one point he just came over, sat in my lap, and just wanted to be rocked for a little while. He's 8 years old, but with how crazy his life has been - he's obviously very sad to leave stability and people who love him. Luckily, though, Donette says that Mike and I will be allowed to visit Davidson at the orphanage whenever we want to. We're also working on Mike getting permission to take Davidson out of the orphanage for a weekend. With that, he can either come stay with us at the Guest House for a weekend of fun, or if there's a hurricane (as the boys of this orphanage are sleeping in tents) then we can pick him up and keep him here for a little while so he's safe. As Mike worded it, "I could not live with myself if he died in a way I could have prevented." Agreed.

So yeah, crazy day, heart warming day, one of those days where you recognize that the ministry you're doing is vital, important, positive, and life-changing. It feels good, but it also makes me want to work harder, to go further, and to more bodly be Christ's hands and feet.

And with that, I'll end with a simple, "Amen."

Beth

The United States

So I’m about to go home. Because of this, I’ve been thinking a lot about packing as well as what needs to get done before I leave, as well as what needs to get done once I’m home, and before I come back. Whew! Lots of checklists to create in my head. However, I’m looking forward to being in America for a short while. In fact, here’s my list of things I’m missing.

Things I miss about America and am looking forward to when I return:

Starbucks (I am in want of an iced, non-fat, carmel macciatto like WHOA. Also, there aren’t really coffee houses here or places like coffee houses where you can just meet up with a friend and talk about life. I miss that.)

Chipotle (Because there is little to no Mexican food here. It’s such a staple in the U.S. so it’s strange that there aren’t really any Mexican places here. I mean, Oge has never had a taco. Oh, the tragedy!)

Air conditioning (Although I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would. Strangely, I’ve adjusted to the heat. I’m worried that sleeping in air conditioning is going to make me too cold!)

Hot showers (Most of the time I enjoy my cold showers here, but on cooler nights, the cold showers are not joyful experiences. I’m ready for a nice long, hot shower.)

Driving (I really love getting on the highway, blasting my music, and crusin. I definitely look forward to that when I return. Also, as I cannot drive here, and it’s not really all that safe – especially at night, I can’t really go off by myself. It will be nice to get out on my own, hang out with some friends, and enjoy some freedom.)

Debit Cards (I mean, I still have a debit card here, but I can’t really use it. I’m looking forward to not carrying cash. I’m also looking forward to having an ATM machine to use that won’t charge me fees to take out money. Yes.)

Of course, I’m also absolutely stoked to see my friends and family. My mom asked if I was getting excited to come home, or sad to come home. I think I’m definitely on the excited end, but that’s probably because I know I’m coming right back. If I wasn't coming back so soon… I’d probably be bursting into tears every minute. However, since I am coming back, I’m so excited to see all of you!

I come back to KC on the 25th and then I leave for vacation on the 27th. I will be on vacation until the 4th and then I’ll be in town until the 12th. Then I fly back to Haiti! So lets find some time to get together if you’re one of my KC pals.

Also, I will be preaching at Living Water Christian Church on August 8th at 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. After the second services, there will be a lunch as well as more discussions about Haiti to follow. Beyond that, I will be bringing some Haitian coffee that morning for all who want to try. I hope to see you there! If you want more information/directions and all that jazz, feel free to contact me! Oh, and if you're one of my readers from outside the KC area, then the sermon will be posted online the Monday after I preach it. :) I'll post the link here.

Anyway, I’m off. Busy day today! Couple of meetings, errands to run, shoes for the boys to buy… lots to do!

Beth

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