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.


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.


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,

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!


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. :)

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