I feel like a lot has happened in these past few days and at the same time - nothing at all.
Yesterday I went with Oge to pick up a group at Furcy - which is a town about 45 minutes up the mountain past the Baptist Mission. (Also, we apparently passed the President on the road there because he lives near the Baptist Mission. We know we did because there was police everywhere directing traffic. I wanted to wave, but Oge said that would be a bad idea.) Since we were headed that way anyway, Oge and I left a bit early and drove to the lookout at the top of one of the mountains. It was GORGEOUS. You could see all of Port-au-Prince, Carrefour, and Petionville. Very, VERY cool. I'll post pics at some point in time. However, it was a bit cloudy so some of the photos didn't turn out well. But seriously - you could see everything. The National Palace, the Digicel building, etc. Awesome.
Also, Oge and I went to his land where he is in the process of building a home for him and his family. So far he only has a foundation built and some rebar towers for wall support. I'm guessing it will take quite some time to finish because building materials in Haiti are so expensive right now. However, the land is GORGEOUS. He's up a bit past the Baptist Mission so it's filled with green grass. Also, it's nice and cool up there. I'm excited to come visit him some day when it's complete!
After that, we picked up the group in Furcy. It was really funny because some of the guys there came over and started talking to me right away and even though they had just known me for 5 minutes - they all wanted pictures with me and remembered my name. They were nice guys, though, and so it was fun.
We ate lunch at the Baptist Mission and then came back to the Guest House. That night at dinner, Wendy and Tom (the leaders of the Furcy team) started talking about their memories from the earthquake as they were staying at the Guest House when it happened. It was crazy hearing their memories. They shared that one of their biggest concerns was standing over the cistern while the earthquake was happening because they didn't want the earth to split there and them to fall into it. Also, apparently Donette was a mess after it and Wendy was explaining that consoling Donette was one of the things that helped to calm her. She had to be strong for someone else and that helped her to stay collected and not fall apart. Absolutely unimaginable hearing their stories.
Today was filled with more interesting moments. I went with Oge to drop off the Furcy team at the airport and then we went to an artisan shop nearby so I could look for a cloth to give as a gift. I didn't find the cloth, but the prices there were CHEAP so I was able to get a few other gifts for folks on my list. Awesome. However, there was another crazy guy experience today. While we were driving to the airport I was sitting in the front seat with Oge. A man crossed in front of us but instead of going all the way to the other side of the street he came and stood right by my window and stared at me. It was really strange. He didn't talk to me, or ask me for money or anything... he just stood there and stared at me until the light turned green and we drove off. It was creepy.
However, Oge has become like the older brother I never had and I knew that he was keeping a close eye on the man. I wasn't too scared it was just... creepy. Especially with the crazy guy kissing me just a few days ago! Things like this only seem to happen to me. There was a whole van full of white people but this guy just wanted to stare at me. So weird. I do think it spooked Oge a bit, though, because after we dropped the team off he told me to roll up my window halfway. I said, "You're scared for me, aren't you?" And he said, "No... well, maybe a little bit." Haha. At least I know I'm in good hands.
I also got to hear more stories of Oge's experience with the earthquake at lunch today. It's obvious that he doesn't get to talk about it that much and sometimes it's just... necessary. Although I already knew about what happened to him when the earthquake hit I did not know what happened afterwards. I found out that he did not have a place to stay because the house he was living in fell down. He was able to get most of his stuff - but the house was unlivable. Therefore, he slept in one of the trucks at the Guest House. His family came and stayed on the back lawn of the Guest House. The only reason why he didn't sleep back there with them is because he wanted to create more space for others. He said that on that first night there were 150 people just sleeping on the ground wherever they could find space. Apparently, that's how our tent city was originally formed - from people who came to find safety and rest on that first night.
He told me that he slept in that truck for about 3 months. He moved into the house he's living in now a week before I arrived in Haiti. During that time, his wife, daughter, and mother-in-law stayed with his sister's family in a city that wasn't really affected by the quake.
The Guest House ended up running out of food 3 or 4 days after the quake and it was very difficult to find food. All the grocery stores closed and there were a few folks selling food on the streets but it became very expensive because it was in such high demand. It was also difficult to find drinkable water. Luckily, it is not difficult to find food or water now - but for at least a week after the quake those things were in low quantity and high demand.
Oge also told me about how you could hear people all over the city screaming for help that were trapped in the rubble. He noted that was the hardest part. Hearing their screams, knowing they were alive, and yet not being able to do anything. He said, "It's just you - you don't have any heavy machinery, you can't move those big boulders and so the people just stay there. It's very difficult listening to someone dying and wishing you could help, but you just can't get to them." I almost burst into tears at the lunch table thinking about that. I can't imagine walking past a building hearing people screaming for help. I am certain that some of those screams still haunt Oge. I'm sure those screams still haunt many Haitian people. Wow.
I had more to say but I think that's where it needs to end tonight. I know that when the earthquake hit we knew there was a great need for food, water, and medical attention. We also knew that it was an unsafe place for kids as kidnappings were high. What we didn't really hear about (or at least, what I didn't hear that much about) was how people were continuing to cope with the situation. I mean, Oge lived in a truck for 3 months - separated from his family. Most Haitians are dealing with some PTSD and there is almost no counseling available to help deal with that. They have seen dead people being burned in the middle of the streets, heard the voices of people trapped underneath rubble, and lost friends, family members, and folks they saw every day. I have no idea how they are so strong even after experiencing all of that. I just don't understand it.
Haitians are a special kind of people. God has blessed them and cared for them in some incredible, awesome ways. I am so thankful and glad to participate in God's great plan of healing for Haiti.
Love to you and you and you and you,