Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The men from Lifeline put our duffle bags in the blue bus and the ladies got on the yellow school bus. The United Nations soldiers stood on guard as we left for Grand Guave. Two off duty policeman rode the bus with us. It did make me feel more secure but I was not prepared for what I saw alongside the road. The internet did not capture the true devastation in Haiti. There were small hills of trash next to tables and booths of fresh vegetables and meats. Next to the food was several pigs routing through the trash for food. It was as if a major war had just happened and the bombs had torn apart houses and businesses leaving roofs off and debris everywhere. People were cramped into the streets and buildings; few were smiling. The stench was overwhelming and I wondered what I was doing there.

It’s really hard to explain what I saw. Water is at a premium as there are few “water stations” where they bring their buckets to fill and then carry back to their homes. It is remarkable how they have a hope in their eyes and are excited over water. I have to force myself to drink enough water at home to stay hydrated. Most Americans do not know the value of water. To the Haitians it is life. This reminds me of the Samaritan Woman in the book of John. Lord, forgive me when I waste water.

We were told not to take pictures as we rode through Port-au-Prince. In fact, we were told to keep our hands inside the bus. If you had a camera in your hand and it was extended outside the window, chances are it would be taken from you. Of course there were some who couldn’t help themselves and they took pictures. I could see the anger in the faces of the young men as their privacy was invaded. One man banged on the door at the back of the bus. I just happened to be sitting in the back seat and my heart was beating fast and my hands were griping the seat in front of me. I don’t remember how long it took but it seemed like Port-au-Prince just went on and on.

The town of Grand Guave was a miniature Port-au-Prince. Mush less traffic and people, but there was still a lot of trash everywhere with broken down buildings. One big difference was the dirt streets that connected to the main cobblestone avenue. The streets were so narrow I am amazed we could make turns. Finally we reached Lifeline Mission and entered through the guarded gate.

On the compound was a lodge, a beautiful courtyard, a pavilion used as a church, and another pavilion used for distribution of shoes. The medical clinic was on the left along with the clothing store and sewing center. The school consisted of several rooms with no outside walls and hard benches for the children to sit on.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

As I sit on the plane waiting for take-off and filling out the information card. I feel a little queasy. There is a missing person but his bag made the plane. So now we are waiting for them to find the bag. I hope the bag is found quickly and I pray the person is ok. Everyone seems real easy going. Judy seems a little anxious. Lord be with her. The airlines found the 2 bags belonging to the person that did not board the plane. I am glad now since the bags could have been left on purpose. And it might not have been a good purpose.

Last night we gathered in our room and we prayed for a good God trip. We are armor bearers for each other. Diane is my prayer partner and she has been fun. I feel like God is surrounding us and we will walk in His covering. Lord in Your name we ask your angels to surround our plane and take us to the mission field safely. I don’t know what to expect. Sometimes different smells can make me sick or trigger my asthma but…I pray my nose won’t react!!

We landed in a rather small airport and had to exit by stairs instead of the ramps like in the US. I stood in line to show my passport and thought of the stories of travelers being pulled over for inspections. I also remembered the words of the lady in charge; “Don’t talk to anyone. Haitians love to touch. Do not be afraid, just move quickly. If asked to have your bag carried firmly reply, “non merci.” The first man that came up to me and said something I just said ‘non merci.’ Then I realized he was being nice and told me I could get a cart for my bags for $1. He worked for the airlines. I felt ignorant. We lined up and walked out in a single file pulling our luggage behind us. Men were lined up beside us constantly yelling out, “help with bag, yes?”

Monday, March 9, 2009

The sun was shining and there was a feeling of expectancy as we gathered at church to pack up the van and head for the airport. We weighed our duffle bags that had been filled with shoes, baby food, lotion, clothes, toys and all kinds of kitchen gadgets for the Badio family in Haiti. James Peter and his family were having their house built. The children of First Christian Church provided the $3,300 from the Vacation Bible School offering of 2005. The house was unable to be constructed earlier due to flooding and shortage of building supplies. But now the time had come and we were on our way to help. It was truly like birthing a baby. With gifts in tow we were going to meet the family and share in their dream come true.
Wanda, Linda, Judy, Glenda, Diane and I were so excited and yet I was a little apprehensive traveling to this third world country. I had read everything I could find on the internet to prepare me for what I would see in Port-au-Prince.
When we arrived in Miami it was very crowded but not chaotic like I thought it would be. We were able to stay in the airport hotel which enabled us to leave our checked baggage on the plane so we would not have to recheck it in the morning. We met our team member Jud, from Iowa whom Wanda had met in 2005 on a Lifeline work mission to Haiti. She was so interesting! She told us how she went to Taiwan on a 2 week mission trip to an orphanage and ended up staying 7 weeks. The conditions were deplorable and she lost 30 pounds.
Sleep did not come as I tossed about thinking of the danger that could be lurking in Haiti. The State Dept. had a travel warning out, reminding US citizens to take all necessary precautions at Port-au-Prince. In fact it said not to travel there. Sixty Americans had been kidnapped in 2006 and 12 in 2207. The thugs were now kidnapping Haitian children for ransom since the mission organizations refused to pay for missionaries.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

These two beautiful girls became so special to me and one day I hope I can return to Haiti to see them. I was with them just ten days, and they taught me so much about humility and gratitude.
I will start from the beginning and tell how I was prompted to go to Haiti, what my journey was like getting to Grand Gauve and the Lifeline Mission, and the trip home with all the emotions searing my thoughts. I never thought I would look at life so differently but I do...and I am so thankful I was able to meet those two precious children of God.