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,