The theme for these past two days has really been "building relationships." It's been through simple things like watching episodes of The Office, car rides, and dinner... but these simple things have created significant memories for me and moments where I realize I am becoming even more a part of this family here. Awesome.
First let''s start with yesterday. Yesterday was a pretty slow day work wise. Mike was in a lot of meetings that I didn't need to be a part of and there was nothing to inventory. Therefore, I just had a lot of time to hang out... mostly with Bryan. We surfed around Facebook, I showed him my favorite internet game of Taberinos and he tried to beat my high score (so far, no one I know can beat me) and we watched a few episodes of The Office. At this point, though, I would definitely consider Bryan to be an ally and friend.
Last night was our party to say "au revoir" to Hal. He left for the airport early this morning. To send him off last night, though, we all went out to a nice dinner at a hotel in Petionville. It was a beautiful hotel and the company was great (we even invited Samuel from UMCOR along as he was Hal's boss and is a cool guy in general) but the food was... mostly not good. I ordered a seafood bisque (which cost $14, by the way) and it was essentially inedible. The server refused to take it off our ticket, though, so Donette (mama Donette to the rescue) bought me a plate of lasagna for dinner. I was quite thankful. It was a good time, though. Lots of laughter and good times shared by all although it was sad to say goodbye to Hal. It's already weird without him here...
Today was all kinds of fabulous. This morning at 8, Oge and I left with a team to go to Petit Goave. Mike had another meeting this morning and Doug had to work on financials so that left me as being the person to communicate a few things to the staff at Petit Goave when we dropped the team off. Driving there was about 2 - 2.5 hours and coming back it was an hour and 45 minutes. Oge and I basically talked the whole time. Seriously, it was amazing. I learned so much! I learned about his past, his family - parents and brothers especially, about his wife and daughter, about his journey in learning English, about what annoys him and what he likes, and about his experience with the earthquake. It was perfect. It was like sitting down for coffee with your best friend and talking about anything and everything.
I will, however, share with you his stories from the earthquake. Oge was at the Guest House arguing with a guy about a fair price to pay for some car repairs when the earthquake hit. He said at first he didn't know what it was, but then the wall that surrounds the Guest House grounds fell down and then he saw the whole Guest House lean to the left and then lean to the right. Daniel (the other driver) apparently got down on the ground and covered his head. Donette came out going crazy and saying "What's happening!?!?" As soon as the earthquake stopped Oge described hearing screams from the street. The world was silent during the earthquake and as soon as it was done... there was mass chaos. Sobbing, screaming, hysterics. He explained that he waited at the Guest House for another 30 minutes because the earth was still moving and he didn't want to get caught up in another big quake on the road.
He returned home to find his wife and daughter doing just fine. However, that does not mean he did not lose anyone on that sad day. He described how they searched for 3 days for his brother-in-law but couldn't get to him. They still haven't seen/found any of his remains. He also had another brother-in-law who was at a university that completely collapsed. He had many neighbors that he used to see every day that died. Many friends that died, too. However, he did share a word of thanksgiving because his brother could have easily died in the quake but did not.
Apparently his brother was in town for a short while and he went to check his e-mail at a local cyber cafe. Oge, wanting his brother to hang out with him and some old friends at the Guest House called him and said "You can do that later, you need to come and be here with us now." Shortly after his brother arrived is when the earthquake happened and the cyber cafe his brother was in completely collapsed. Oge said it was kind of a wake-up call for his brother. I can only imagine.
It was just very obvious in that conversation that we not only became friends, but good friends. Friends that trust each other and feel comfortable sharing with each other. I actually said at one time, "Oge, you can be my Haitian best friend," and he said, "Of course!" Upon returning to the Guest House, Bryan heard that we were just riding in the car for the majority of the time and commented, "Wow, I'm really glad I didn't go then. That would have been so boring." Oge and I both laughed and said, "No, actually it was really fun. We talked the whole time." Seriously. One of the best car trips ever.
After we came back to the Guest House, we had some down time. Bryan and Mike put up some mirrors. I helped Oge with Facebook again. Later Bryan and Johnny (Eric's nephew) joined us... listening to music and chatting a bit.
This evening was another great moment when Bryan received a love letter from one of the girls living in the tent city. He burst into our house (the Swiss House) saying "Beth. Beth. I got a love letter." I then stopped everything that I was doing so we could read it. It was hilarious, sweet, and very cute. However, this girl is much younger than Bryan, she speaks very little English, she lives in Haiti, and Bryan has an ish-girlfriend back home. All of these factors made Bryan a bit squeamish to let her down but Johnny and Peterson came to help him. It totally made my night.
So yeah. Those are my stories for the past two days. Just good times full of building relationships. Also, I have officially become a trusted, loved person with my boys. Tonight, Robenson and Stanley greeted me with a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. I love it. God has certainly blessed me immensely! :)