Monday, May 31, 2010


Today was fairly uneventful in many ways, but that was actually kind of nice. With my body being lobster-like in color it was nice to have a low key day. Tres bien.

But in some ways it was very eventful. I e-mailed Lisa about the next COR group and supplies needed for their next mission. I created a bank balance spreadsheet for Doug to use. I updated one of his current financial spreadsheets. Also, I helped my dad by running some diagnostics of the internet. Oh, and I chatted with Cayce and Lisa today about various Haiti stuffs. Good times.

I suppose that I do have one story for you today, though. After breakfast I was in the office with Doug and Mike just hanging out a bit before Doug and Mike took a trip to the bank. They advised that I not come along because the bank can be a fairly dangerous place to be. I figured that would probably be a good idea and I offered to stay behind and help with some of the budget sheets while Doug was away from his computer. Right about this time before Doug and Mike left, though, Jammes, the accountant for the Guest House came into the office.

Doug told me that Jammes is working on learning English. He speaks French and Kreyol fluently but really wants to learn English. I told him that he could teach me Kreyol and I would help him with his English. Shortly afterwards, Doug and Mike left and Jammes asked me, "You speak only English?" I said, "Yes, but I am trying to learn Kreyol."

He came over and looked at my little tablet of notes I had taken of certain words and phrases I wanted to remember and helped me to pronounce them. He also helped me by telling me what words to use instead of the ones I had written down. Some of the words I wrote down were more formal and he told me some more informal phrases. Although we could not speak very much to one another, it was fun to be around him and to let him teach me.

After the short Kreyol lesson, I spoke with him a bit in English. I found out he is 20 years old (Yeah, 20 years old and a full time accountant! Dang!) and he wants to come to America. He asked me where I lived in America and I told him "Kansas City." He did not know where Kansas City was, though, so I pulled up a map on Google and showed him. Later on, when I was helping my dad with the internet he said, "Oh, your dad is Clif!?" I nodded and showed him my dad's picture on Skype. He smiled and I could tell that he was very happy to see my dad's face again. I pulled up a picture to show him of my whole family and that made him very happy, too.

Although we could barely understand each other, I think a friendship began.

Also, in other news, I did finally get a cellphone today. If you want to call me, please let me know and I'll give you the number. :) Beyond that, I get to visit UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) Haiti tomorrow. I will be meeting Samuel who is the head of UMCOR Haiti and from what I hear, he's a very neat man with years of knowledge and experience. I am excited to meet him!

Anyway, I'm off! Au revior!


Here are some words and phrases in Kreyol if you care to learn!:
Hello - Bonjou! (or Bonswa!)
How are you? - Kouman ou ye?
I am not too bad. And you? - M papi mal. E ou menm?
I am good. - M bien.
What is your name? - Ki jan ou rele?
My name is Beth. - M rele Beth.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Clothing Optional


I hope you are well this evening. I had quite an eventful day, but a really great one.

This morning, as it was Sunday, I went to church. Donette is the woman in charge of the Guest House and her husband, Oblami, is a Methodist circuit pastor... which means he has many churches he has to go and visit (a different one each Sunday) instead of just one church. There is a specific order he follows and then repeats the pattern to visit each congregation as often as possible. Today, we decided to join him and Donette... especially since the nice beaches are just a few minutes drive from where the church is.

It was about an hour drive out there but it was wonderful. The church is in a smaller village so there's not a ton of traffic or a ton of people like there is around here. Also, you wouldn't know it was a church, even if you were looking for it. It's not labeled or anything and it looks like all the other buildings nearby. It's literally a "neighborhood church" in that unless you knew exactly what it was, you would just think it was another house in the neighborhood. In fact, just as we were pulling up we noticed that in the home next to the church a woman was bathing her many kids and Mike remarked "Well, apparently this is a clothing optional service!" That was actually kind of beautiful - Jesus is for everyone, even the stark naked kids.

Once we arrived, though, a woman (who was the usher for the day, I believe) shooed a few folks out of their seats so we could sit down. I felt bad for making the folks move but I was also extremely humbled by their hospitality. Later, another mission group came to join the worship service and seats were cleared for them as well. It was also at this time that I realized just how nice everyone was dressed. I felt extremely under-dressed and I even wore some of my nicer clothes. It was so amazing to me that these folks living in tents with dirt floors still kept their Sunday best very clean. We asked Donette about that later and she remarked, "People take pride in themselves and how they present themselves. If they cannot control anything else, they can control that." Beautiful.

Although it was a VERY tiny building, it was a packed house. I would say that there was about 50 of us in the building and a few were standing outside listening to the service (mostly because we kicked them out of their seats!) Although the whole service was in Kreyol (Creole) it was still very moving. The kids looked at all of us white skinned folks with wide-eyed wonderment and wanted to shake all of our hands after the service. Also, the music was wonderful. Again, I did not understand any of it, but it was sung with such passion and joy it was hard not to be blessed by it.

After the service, as it was Mother's Day here in Haiti, the church showed us even more hospitality by offering everyone a glass of ice cold soda. Basically, the entire service was a great blessing and it was so wonderful to be around the joyful congregants at this church.

After church, though, we headed to the Kaliko beach resort. It is GORGEOUS. Beautiful water, tons of palm trees, white rocks all around, etc. IT was pricey to get in but it is a private beach and the price included lunch, two drinks, admission to the beach, and entrance to their pool. The beach was lovely (temperature wise) but it was not a sand beach and as I did not have water shoes, it was not a joy to walk on. I actually decided to just sit down in the water and move out that way. It was much easier. Not only were the rocks semi-pointy, but they were smaller, and very slippery because they were covered in some sort of algi. Not a whole lot of fun to walk on.

Shortly after we got in the water, though, a man came by and offered to give us a boat ride to the beach next to us if we wanted to see it. In any other place, this guy would have looked totally "sketch" and no American would accept a ride from him. He was missing two front teeth and he had shorts where all the stitching had come loose so they were crotchless. Donette looked past all of that, though, and thought it was a fabulous idea. Mike offered to pay and we were on our way! However, that short excursion turned into a two hour long ride and so I now look like a tomato. Sad day. But the boat ride was a ton of fun. We got to see many beaches, including one that was playing the song "Empire State of Mind" by Alicia Keys and Jay-Z. What was hilarious was that our Haitian driver knew the song and was jamming out to it as we passed by. I admit that I judged a book by it's cover... our boat rower (I guess that would be the right term?) turned out to be a ton of fun.

We also found a coral reef and Hal, the guy associated with UMCOR, really enjoys snorkeling so he had all of his gear with him to dive down and take a look. He even passed it along to a few others in the boat so they could check it out, too. It was neat. Also funny was that the boat guy jumped into the water, grabbed some coral, and threw it in the boat to give to someone. That would never happen in America, but I guess that coral is not protected here in Haiti.

After we returned from the boat excursion we swam in the ocean a bit more and relaxed a bit. A man was selling the biggest lobster I have ever seen and Donette and Oblami purchased it for us to eat. The men cooked it for us and brought it to us about 20 minutes later. It was DELICIOUS. So good.

Eventually, though, our day had to end. It was a wonderful day, though.

If you want to see some photos from the day, I have posted what I had time to post here. And yes, you can see them even if we aren't Facebook friends! :)

Sending blessings your way!

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Last night I told Hal, the UMCOR guy who is also living in my building, that having the door to the outside that was always open was "nice for ventilation, but kind of weird in that anyone that walks by can see in." His response was, "If that's the only thing weird about this place, then you're doing good."

So. Where to begin? Lets start with sleeping. Last night was actually fairly cool so I had no trouble sleeping... however, there is a rooster on these grounds... and it does not care if the sun is up or down. If it's awake... it's crowing. I'm hoping that by the end of all of this it will just become background noise (like a train horn) that I can sleep through.

After I woke up I had breakfast and hung out around the guest house as a group prepared to head to the airport. Apparently you need to get to the airport at least 2.5 hours before your departure because they go through EVERYTHING and you have to go through 3 different security checks or something like that. Insane. About 10 a.m. though I hung out with the UMVIM guys - Mike and Doug - in the main office looking at budgets and groups and all that jazz.

During this time, Doug "got a hankerin" for fried salted plantains that they sell down the street. There is an earthquake refugee camp on the Methodist compound and the kids are around the guest house playing all the time. Mike stuck his head out the door and asked these three boys if they wanted to go and get some for the two of them. The boys agreed (especially since they made a bit of money for doing it.) During this transaction, though, Mike noticed that one of the boys had a fairly infected, deep wound on his knee. When the boys returned we scavenged through our various medical supplies to help clean and dress the wound. It was not a pleasant experience for the boy, but at least it won't be infected now.

Shortly after that we had lunch and then after lunch Mike remembered that he promised to buy sandals for three of the refugee boys. He gathered them up and Mike, Doug, Claire (a Haitian woman who works at the guest house,) and I escorted them. Although the sandals kiosk of sorts was just at the end of the street, it felt like a totally different world. At the guest house, life is fairly leisurely and quiet (or at least, quiet by Haiti standards) but out on that street... whew! You take life into your own hands every time you cross the street because cars seem to have the right of way here. Also, once you've crossed the street, there is no sidewalks and there are cars and motorcycles moving just inches behind you. We got the boys safely across the street and back, though, and they each got a new pair of sandals to wear.

Shortly after that, I took my first Haitian shower. It was at the hottest point in the day, around 3:30. Cayce advised that 3:30 might be the best point to shower because the water was at its warmest. However, the tank was empty and had to reload... which meant it was new, cold water... not water that was heating up on the roof all day. I will say that it actually felt heavenly. Such a blessing on such a hot day.

I have also started to teach myself some Creole (Kreyol.) The one phrase of the day that you all can learn is: M pa ka pale Kreyol. (I can't speak Kreyol.) It's an interesting language and luckily thanks to my beginning Spanish and French in elementary and middle school the pronunciation isn't too difficult... it's just remembering everything.

The last thing that I guess I really want to talk to you is about how difficult it is to be "the rich amongst the poor." Because the refugee camp is on the Methodist grounds, as I mentioned earlier, there are many kids walking around the campus at all hours of the day. I have been approached at several times and asked for money... outside walking around and even while I'm sitting in my room and they look in the window or the screened door I have leading to the outside. I feel terrible telling the kids "no." We have been told to make that our response, though, because otherwise many, many more kids will come and demand money as well and the problem just exponentiates. Also, it sets a bad precedent for other groups. I have to say no, but it hurts. I know these kids are much worse off than I am and I want to help, but I am not allowed to. On top of that, I do not speak Creole (yet!) so I can't even really communicate to them how sorry I am. Even worse, though, is that this issue has almost made me fearful of the kids... I don't want to walk by them because I will have to disappoint them again by refusing to give them money. It's terrible. Such a struggle between the Christian call to give and the rules put in place to avoid future chaos. Hopefully I can find other ways to show compassion, though.

Tomorrow I will go to church and the beach so I expect that I'll update this again. Also, hopefully I'll have some pictures up tomorrow! :)

Sending love your way,

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sean Penn, hot dogs, and more

Today I traveled to Haiti. Yes, I most certainly did.

The day began fairly early at the La Quinta North in Miami and then I went to the airport. There were many people waiting in line to check in (including at least two mission teams) so I just had to patiently wait. I finally checked in, though, with just enough time to get to my flight. I called my mom real quick, texted a few farewell's and then it was time to board the plane.

Because I had such amazing folks donate their frequent flier miles for me to get to Haiti I got to sit first class. As I was handing my ticket to the woman before boarding the plane I hear an airline official behind me say "Oh Sean! Good to see you! I so appreciate the work you're doing in Haiti." Then I hear someone else say, "Do you have a ticket" and the original woman respond with "Oh no, no, the ticket is on me, please... go on through." At this point I am VERY confused. Was there someone standing behind me who traveled to Haiti so frequently he was friends with all the airline officials? So much so that he was basically above the... and then it dawned on me: Sean Penn. I knew that Sean Penn had been doing a lot of work in Haiti and was pretty much living in Haiti full time so I glanced behind me and there he was... just inches away. He was VERY stand off-ish, though, so I didn't bother him. Most of the folks riding the plane didn't bother him either, only a few said hello and said they appreciated his work in Haiti.

The flight itself was heavenly. I got breakfast, a comfy seat, and a warm blanket (because the air conditioning made the plane FREEZING cold.) Arriving, however, was a unique experience. Once getting off the plane, we got into a small bus to go to immigration, baggage claim, and customs. Immigration and customs were REALLY easy and it wasn't too bad getting my luggage either... it was just fairly crowded and difficult to navigate. When I got out of the airport, though, it was CHAOS. Luckily, a friend of the driver from the Methodist Guest House (the drivers name is O.J. the friend was named Jackson) met me before anyone else could reach me and he guided me through the streets to the Methodist van. Once safely on the van, though, it ended up being a fairly long drive back to the Guest House because the traffic was so bad.

When I arrived it Haiti it was raining. It is still raining. Therefore, traffic was especially bad because many people did not want to walk. I eventually reached the Guest House, though, and I was quickly shown to my room. After dropping off everything I was off to lunch with Mike and Doug (the two UMVIM folks working in the Guest House.) We went to a fairly American style restaurant and met up with a group that is staying at the Guest House tonight.

Knowing that I wasn't terribly hungry, but hungry enough, I saw that this place had hot dogs... so I ordered two of them. What I didn't realize is that the hot dogs are actually foot long sandwiches. They slice the hot dogs in half and lay them out on this baguette. Then, they pile on onions, tomatoes, ketchup, and some other red sauce. It was totally weird. I took off the onions and the tomatoes and it ended up being pretty good.. but I definitely only needed one. I'll eat the other one for lunch tomorrow. :)

Now, I'm just sitting and relaxing in my room. A rooster keeps on crowing outside my window and I hear groups of children laughing and playing nearby. I'm actually not sweating too much, either! Since it rained today it's actually a fairly cool day in Haiti. Also, there's a large screen window that's opened, a screened door that I have propped open and I have the overhead fan going so air circulation is good in my room.

So yeah! That's about all there is to report today. I'm sure I'll have a lot more to report tomorrow as hopefully I'll get the full campus tour. Also, I hear we'll be going to the beach on Sunday so I'm sure I'll have a lot to report then as well. :)

I hope you all are doing well and I'm sure I'll be talking to some of you soon! Have a wonderful day!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane...

Okay so I'm sitting in the KC airport about to head to Atlanta.

I'm feeling a broad mix of emotions. Excited and nervous are probably the two most overpowering right now. I'm not quite sure what the next two months will hold for me.

However, I do know a few things - some details I thought you all might want to hear. :)

First of all, I will be staying at the Methodist Guest House in Petionville, Haiti, right outside Port au Prince. There I will be working as the missions coordinator on the ground in Haiti for United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. I have been told that during "off weeks" I will also be assisting United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) with their various duties in Haiti.

Last summer I interned in Galveston, Texas and saw first hand what communities that have recently suffered from a natural disaster look and feel like. However, Haiti is going to be a totally different animal. First of all, instead of entering the area 9 months after the disaster, like I did in Galveston, I will be entering just 4.5 months after the disaster. Also, with the widespread poverty in Haiti, the situation is much more desperate.

My hope is that my presence will help bring healing and hope to the many Haitians I will meet, work with, and serve. It's going to be a big job, but I feel blessed to have the opportunity to do something. When I first saw news of the earthquake I prayed that God would lead the right people to go and help. Little did I know that God would call me.

I can't say that I'm ready, but is anybody before embarking on a big journey such as this one? I am, however, optimistic and enthusiastic about this missions experience in Haiti. It's going to be difficult - but memorable, life-changing, and eye-opening.

Thank you, once again, for your continued prayers and well wishes. I cannot fully express how much I appreciate it. I love you all and I'll see you when I see you!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Discernment by Nausea

My mom once said that she generally knew when God was calling her to something when she felt nauseous just thinking about it. It's how she really knew that she was supposed to start a new church. For me, it's how I knew I was supposed to go to Haiti.

Now, don't get me wrong. When I first heard about the possibility of going to Haiti for the summer I was really excited. I had a lot of questions and concerns, but the idea of being abroad and being a healing force for the Haitians was extremely exciting to me.

However, the more I started to seriously think about it, the more nauseous I got and the more times I randomly burst into tears. I was excited, yes, but I was also absolutely terrified. I still am. However, the overly emotional response was a cue. God calls us to the place where our deepest passions meets the world's deepest hunger. It makes absolute sense that for me - that would be Haiti.

I leave for Atlanta to go to training about how to be a global missionary in a week. (I leave on the 23rd of May.) From there, I will go to Haiti on the 28th and be there until July 25th.

It will be a journey. A long one, a hard one, a joyful one, a defining one. I'm not at all ready for it but I don't think anything can quite prepare you for a journey such as the one I am about to embark on. All I can do is trust that God will work with me and through me and that God will grant me little slivers of peace along the way.

Thank you for your prayers, thank you for donations, thank you for your love and support. As of right now, these are specific needs that I hope you can help me with:

1. Prayer! I need all the prayer support I can get. (Amen? Amen!) Here are a few specific things to pray for
a. courage
b. inner strength (so I don't burst into tears at every second of the day... even if I might want to)
c. moments of joy
d. clarity of purpose
e. working through fears - continued aftershocks, being there during hurricane season, enormous spiders, mosquitoes, etc.

2. Financial support - Many of you have already given financially, but I am still $300 away from my goal amount. Please prayerfully consider making a (second) donation. If you and/or your family are willing and able to give (more) to this mission, you can either pass checks along to me this week and I can hand deliver them or you can send them to:

Cayce Stapp
Beyond KC Missions
13720 Roe Avenue
Leawood , KS 66224 -3588

Checks should be made out to Church of the Resurrection (or COR) and in the memo please write "Mission Outfitters - Beth Guy."

3. Read this blog while I'm in Haiti! (and comment!) This will help me stay connected to all of you wonderful folks back home. I know it may not seem like much, but I really do enjoy hearing from home as it helps me to feel connected even when I'm abroad.

4. Learn more about COR and what they're doing in Haiti! COR actually has a blog set up for mission teams that go to Haiti and a few folks just got back from Haiti this week so there's already stuff to read. Also, if you continue to read it throughout the summer you never know when I might be mentioned! Haha. Here's the link to that:

Anyway, I will try to update one more time before I head to Atlanta with an explanation of what I'll actually be doing in Haiti and all that jazz for all of you who have not quite heard that explanation yet. Also, I plan to update this as often as possible while I'm in Haiti so check back frequently!

Sending love your way,

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