When we have the opportunity to help anyone, we should do it. -Galatians 6:10a (NCV)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Children's Church

Yesterday we started Children's Church in Peredo!
92 kids attended!
Christmas story on their level!
Christmas Craft!
Christmas Songs!
Tons of FUN!!!

Thank you for your participation in starting programs like this in Haiti. New programs such as this could not be added without your prayers, emotional and financial support.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

House calls

Cholera has hit the area of Haiti I am working in and boy has it been busy. Since the clinic in Peredo isn't finished-house calls are in order. I don't mind getting out and walking around but it does make it hard to leave one patient at his house with a running IV to go start another IV at another house a 15 minute walk away. I'll never complain about walking too much at the hospital I work in in the states!

Would write more but very busy. Please continue to pray for this outbreak of Cholera to resolve quickly. Sometimes it seems this country can't get a break. But God is STILL in control!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Disclaimer: No one was harmed in this trip to Peredo. I had tried to get to the village for 3 days after the election rioting. The roads were blocked-most commonly with burning tires, huge rocks, trees and my favorite-thousands of pieces of broken bottles. The 2nd day I made it (with a Haitian driver) further than 1st day only to be stopped by men standing on the hillside pushing very large rocks down onto the road. In broad daylight. We passed several different groups of UN soldiers trying to clear the roads-only to see them re-blocked when we were forced to turn around.

I felt more defeated in Haiti than I ever have before.

People in Peredo had been calling my since Wednesday saying that Cholera was there and people were dying. There is no hospital in Peredo and they were begging me to come.

This is what I came to Haiti for. To help the weak, pray with the sick, and be the hands and feet of Jesus.

I had the supplies.

I had a vehicle.

I even had a driver.

But the neighbors of the sick people I was trying to help were stopping me. Why can't these people see what is happening?

Why can't they see the big picture?

Will they ever?

(Sing to the tune of "Over the River and Through the Woods")

Over the road blocks and through the riots

To Peredo we go
The people are mad
Cuz The government is bad
But to work I still must go

Over the tires and glass and rocks
Oh how they've wrecked the roads
People are sick, I can't come quick
As Burning tires fill my nose

Park the truck and Wade through the ocean
We can't walk on the road
They're throwing rocks on passersby
On to Peredo we go

Get on a moto and hang on tight
And say a little prayer
God's seen me through time after time
He's watching me now too
Gotta have a little fun when you're stressed...right? On Friday we (driver and I) made it there.
After leaving the truck
about halfway and walking down into the ocean (no shore there) for about 1/2 mile
to avoid the tumbling rocks. Then back up and walked about another mile with the
medical supplies on our backs to find a motorcycle. Took the moto to the river in
Peredo and then crossed the river on foot and found another moto on the other side.

I can not say I wasn't scared. More like nervous-so I started making up the parody to
"Over the River" in my head then out loud. I figured I couldn't look any crazier than
anyone else.

Please pray for them as medical care is pretty much non-existent and Cholera is
hitting them hard.

Also please join me in praying for clarity and rationality for the Haitian people
during the next round of elections.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NCV) (emphasis mine)

Then if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin,

and I will heal their land.

This blog to be continued...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Movie Outreach Night

It all started a couple of weeks ago when some of the teenagers were talking to me about being bored, having nothing to do in the evenings. Most teens will say that when they really have a million things to entertain them but these teens in the village really don't.

Made me think of my old youth group back home and all the events that were planned for us to do. And that was just church. There were tons of school activities and clubs to be active in.

These teenagers don't have electricity, let alone video games. They don't have sports at school, let alone a whole football league. They don't have a computer, let alone internet access.

So I started looking for a projector to borrow and another mission graciously let us borrow it with a super nice Bose Speaker. (thanks Joy in Hope!)

Then onto getting the generator to work (I had to call my friend Chuck in the states to tell me how to fix it!). But after 2 hours this RN fixed the generator! Can you tell I am proud?

But it was all worth it. They loved "A Walk to Remember", but told me next time not to show such a sad movie. Good thing it was in French or I would have been bawling my eyes out like every other time I have watched it.

View from behind movie screen

Those who didn't get a seat

the most important piece of equipment-the generator!

Popcorn for all the kids made over open fire!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Adopting a baby changes everything...

No not really on House Arrest. But I feel like it. Stuck inside with an almost 2 yr old! Somebody help me! No TV, very few toys for Odessa and no one else here to talk to...not like being snowed in with things to do in the states.

Today is the Presidential Election in Haiti. Odessa and I were going to go to church and then come back home to wait out and see if there would be rioting, demonstrations and violence afterwards. But after talking to some Haitians they ALL said we should stay in all day. There have been lots of riots and violence in Port au Prince the last couple days and we don't know how it will be here in Jacmel. Those of you who know me know I HATE being told what to do and especially what NOT to do.
Being told not to do something or that I can't has always made me want/try to do it that much more.

But you know how the saying goes, "Adopting a baby changes everything." Well it doesn't go exactly like that, but it does change things. I have Odessa to think about ABOVE myself now. Let me just tell ya this is a big role change for me. I even surprise myself sometimes in how I think about her before myself.

I have been bombarded with text messages on my phone asking me to vote for one candidate or another. I can't even vote! My dad sent me a panicked email last week saying that they just got 3 angry phone calls in Creole in a row and he thought I had been kidnapped. Then my friends who I have called on my Haiti cell phone started writing saying the same thing. When I turned on my US phone it immediately started ringing and there was a recorded election message in Creole. It didn't sound angry to me-it sounded like how everyone talks down here. But I remember before I could speak Creole I thought everybody was yelling at everybody too. So obviously Haiti doesn't have the same cell phone privacy laws that the US does. They had called everybody on my call list with the election message!

I have been taking care of a sick boy in Peredo this week. They called me this morning to tell me he is not getting any better and asked me to come see him. It is an hour drive though and on election day...I just can't do it although I really want to. I told them to take him to the Cuban clinic about 25 minutes away with the medication he is taking already so the doctors know what he is on. I called this evening to check on him and they didn't take him and are waiting on me to come to work in the morning. I am hoping the streets are OK and I can venture out.

There are so many Haitians who didn't vote b/c they were afraid to go out. We, Americans, truly are blessed. Others said that it doesn't matter anyways b/c all elections in Haiti are rigged. I would brush that off if I had just arrived here. But after working here on and off for 2 years-I don't doubt it.

Not for a second.

Well better go see what Odessa is into now!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Amazon Wish List

Another missionary here (thanks Gwenn!) recommended I make a wish list on Amazon.com to let teams know what the Haitians are currently needing in Haiti-in the little village of Peredo. I started a small list to give some ideas. You don't have to buy the items off Amazon. I just wanted to show you what we needed and about how many.

Here's the link:


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

So had a "Girls Night Out" Sunday night. Yep -that's right. Girls night out in Haiti. There are several American and Canadian women working in this town and one of them put together these much needed nights out for us. I can not tell you how much fun it is! I haven't seen my friends in going on 7 months. Sometimes I think I distance myself from them here b/c well....frankly it is easier. I love that they are happy and can't wait to see them. But hearing about everything I am missing out on stinks! I love living here but life is SOOOOO different than my regular life from back home. But the Girls Night Out brought some comfort.

One of the girls there literally is my neighbor here and I didn't even know it. Her organization does not allow her to drive or venture out alone (not even to walk in the neighborhood) and she is my age! She was quite shocked I live here alone and drive and hour to work and back everyday. So tonight Odessa and I were taking a walk in the neighborhood and we stopped in to say hello.


She was so happy to see us and introduced us to the other Americans staying in the house. But as soon as I entered the house I smelled Pumpkin pie. That's right. Baking in the oven. My stomach sat up straight. (I'm not really sure what that means but that's what it did).

I hadn't really thought about Thanksgiving. Since there is no Thanksgiving here and Odessa has school like regular tomorrow. It would be just like another day here. And it would have been if I had not smelled the PUMPKIN PIE.

How they found all the ingredients and made the crust I have no idea. I would have asked them but my mind was so preoccupied with the pie!

So I am thinking Thanksgiving picnic on the beach for Odessa's 1st Thanksgiving tomorrow...minus the pumpkin pie but with the sweetest girl I know.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Clinic pics!

Here ya go...lots of people asking how the Peredo clinic is coming along. See for yourself-looks great! The workers are doing a great job.

God is good!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Destressing with some Shoe Shopping!

Stressful situations in Haiti right now. Of course there is the Cholera outbreak. It has yet to reach this area but we are being told it is coming and to get ready. I spent one full day last week with 2 of our Haitian workers going through the depot in Peredo pulling out things we might need if/when Cholera comes. Alex, the houseboy here at the mission house and Usted, one of the young men from the Peredo community helped me search for IV supplies, Pedialye, wipes, diapers, alcohol, oral rehydration salts, and IV fluids. We found most of the supplies and I found Lactated Ringers IV solution in town and bought 2 cases. Please pray for the people in this area. Especially the young and very old.

Sunday we will have a meeting after church for all in the community to come and learn about Cholera and we will demonstrate how to make Oral Rehydration Fluid. There is a lot of panic in this area over this illness. You can visit the World Health Organization website to read more about how it is treated.


But on a lighter note...

We came across the clothes and shoes the team from Bishop Baptist Church in Georgia brought down last month and started distributing these items to the school children in Peredo. Let me take a minute to let you know something about these shoes and clothes. They are absolutely wonderful! They brought very nice, name brand clothes that were all laundered and neatly folded in the suitcases and the shoes!...the kids were so happy with the shoes! They name brand and in great condition.

Bishop Baptist did not simply send things that they didn't want anymore. These items were definitely in resale condition.

They truly gave from their hearts and helped dress these Haitian children how they would want their own children dressed.

Thank you so much! I was the lucky one (once again) to get to be here and help distribute. It was such a destressor to see the smiles, hear the squeals and watch them tuck their gifts into their book bags.

Notice in this last picture the little girl getting fitted for shoes but she is holding her peanut butter sandwich from the nutrition program at the school!

Monday, November 8, 2010

I came across a great Haiti info website today.
It answers so many questions people ask me about Haiti.


Lunch Program

Most of you know that I have been raising money to improve the school lunches in the village of Peredo for this school year. Also to provide breakfast 2 days a week. With the help of churches in the Newark area and Licking Valley High School, we are giving the kids a variety of foods with much needed vitamins they do not receive in their diets at home. I want to add also that most of the money was raised while I was here in Haiti so a big thanks to everyone back in Ohio who led these fundraising projects. This would not be possible without you. It always amazes me how people who have never been here, never seen the kids in their cute uniforms, never played with them at recess-will still step forward and help them. I just provided the facts and the needs and then you all "went to town!"

The enrollment is 165 kids this year! A big change from when I came to Haiti 2 years ago and there were about 60 kids. I had a meeting with the principal and school teachers discussing how the school kids were always sick and we talked about causes. One they came up with is the kids are dirty. As in, they don't have a way to wash their hands after using the outhouse at the school. I thought, "SCORE!" People ARE listening to the heath teachings in the village. So they made a handwashing station outside the outhouse with a bucket of water, a bowl to dip into the bucket to wash their hands and soap. This is moved from class to class to wash before lunch too. I didn't get a picture of it-but I will and post later.

Also we talked about the water the kids are bringing to school to drink in old pop bottles and containers they find. We have a large igloo drink container that we have here when teams come to work in Haiti. All the other times it was just sitting here at the mission house. So I gave it to them to use for the kids. They bring water from the well right outside the camp property for the kids to drink. Twice a week the kids get a kool-aid type mix with Vit-C in it with the money raised for the food programs. Once we get the food program going smoothly we are going to start making fresh squeezed juice for the kids the mornings they get breakfast. I have kinda spun the cafeteria ladies around with the changes so far so I am giving them time before I add something else!

Here are some pics of a lunch last week. It was rice and legumes. Which is rice and a bunch of vegetables all cooked down together with spices and oil. It is my favorite Haitian dish and has tons of vitamins in it. It has spinach, carrots, potatoes, onions, peppers and cabbage. I know it doesn't sound good but it is! The kids love it.

More school lunch pictures to come courtesy of me! More bellies full of nutritious school lunches and breakfast courtesy of you! Thanks so much. You truly are helping make a difference in these children's lives.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Job update

Update on Job-Peredo school boy whose house burnt down a few weeks before school. Money was sent by an American couple to buy him 2 new uniforms, shoes, bookbag and books. We had enough to buy him the little cooler pictured too! He walks about 25 minutes to school so having water with him will be so nice!

Who knows what little Job is going to grow up to be! Maybe a worker for the Kingdom! We never know what plans God may have for him. But he is now attending church with his mother most Sundays!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wednesday was a regular day in Haiti. Got up, fed Odessa, let the house boy in, waited on Odessa's nanny to get here and then headed out to Peredo to work. I have been listening to Podcasts on my iPod on the hour drive to the village and back. There is not radio in the truck so this passes the time. Plus it is in English! I speak and hear so little English these days. The podcast I was listening to was about new movies coming out this week, the new Apple TV, and cool apps for the iPod. Homesickness hit me hard. I haven't seen a new movie in months. As a matter of fact, I have only watched kid movies with Odessa and Seasons 8 and 9 of Friends over and over for the past 5 months. I was thinking how I would kill to walk up to Redbox or Blockbuster and rent movies, grab a PIZZA and squeal with joy!

As I drove across the river and bounced all over the truck, holding the steering wheel white knuckled praying I didn't get stuck like last week, I suddenly missed bridges. Blacktop. Ditches. Pavement. Culverts. Cement. Yellow and white lines on the road. You get the picture.

I passed a mother and daughter walking down the road carrying their laundry on their heads and missed my mom. How we stand in the kitchen and fold laundry together. How she folds the towels all wrong and I redo them before I put them in the linen closet.

When I got to the mission property school was already started and I started looking at all the school kids teeth to choose the kids who need to see the American dentist coming next week. (Thanks Dr Adie!)

One of the guys who works for the mission came and said there was a lady here asking for me. Word spread in about 10 minutes that I have arrived in the village and people start coming. I said I would be there when I was done with the teeth and he gave me a look and said I needed to come now. So I went outside and found a young lady, maybe 19 or 20 yrs old sitting in the shade holding a sleeping baby.

She explained that she didn't come begging or asking for anything for herself. She told me how 2 months ago her sister died and left this baby behind. Now she's trying to raise her niece but has no work and of course no money.

What a rough start to life. Born in Haiti to a single mother. Mom dies 6 months later. Young, poor aunt struggling to do the right thing.

Unfortunately, not rare.

The aunt said she heard I am adopting a Haitian child and asked if I wanted to adopt this little girl too. She said it's just too hard to do on her own.

Suddenly movies and pizza were the furthest thing from my mind. Rivers and terrible "roads" were not too big of an obstacle. I realized how while I am here missing my family, others are struggling to keep theirs together.

I saw how clean this Haitian orphan was.
The hat someone had placed on her head to protect from the sun.
Her fingernails and toenails that were neatly trimmed.
Perfect skin-free of infection and odor.
A young aunt's love.

I made her up a goodie bag of baby supplies from the depot including formula. Most of you know I am against giving out baby formula. But this 8 month old was already on regular powdered milk b/c her aunt couldn't buy formula. I told her the mission would supply her with formula every week as long as we had supply until the baby was a year old. I demonstrated how to mix the formula right with clean, boiled water.

She started to say thanks and I explained to her how I did not purchase these things, how Americans sent them to help out their Christian brothers and sisters around the world and they did it with the love of God. I told her to thank God for providing and talked to her how she is not alone. We talked about being single moms. I sat with this girl and talked about being a single mom! I really needed that. Someone else who understood. We are more alike than different and I really felt a bond to her. I told her I would be praying for her and invited her to church on Sunday.

She stood up, readjusted the sleeping baby's hat and started on her way with a bag full of baby supplies.

I stood up, put my sunglasses on and started my way back to the school.

Monday, October 11, 2010

School Days!

School started today in Peredo! What a site to see all the kids clean, in new uniforms and excited to be there! I love it. But of course forgot my camera! So unfortunately, you don't get to see it. But that's the perk of living here! I get to see the happenings of the mission first hand. You can too-just become a missionary and move to Haiti.

Anyways-wanted to post of pic of the 1st batch of food bought for the kids at the school. Right now they eat the same thing for lunch everyday and don't have a breakfast program. This school year, thanks to VBS donations, extra church support and even a high school fundraiser with cookies (Go Panthers!), they will have breakfast 2 days a week and a different lunch 1-2 times a week.

More pics to come of the kids enjoying the food! This will help their nutrition status tremendously! And make their bellies very happy.

Special thanks to the Licking Valley Church of Christ and all the ladies who baked their hearts out for a bake sale fundraiser (and Summer Conley for spurring them on!), to Licking Valley High School for the fundraiser (behind the scenes of this was Ms Barboza and Tricia Phelps and the LV school cooks), Heath Church of Christ.

Thanks Thanks Thanks!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Picture update-Peredo clinic

New pics taken on Monday of the construction progress of the clinic in Peredo. Super excited and wanted to share!

Front view of clinic-with new wall

Back view of front of clinic from inside the building

Surgical lights installed in the Operating Room!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Aren't you glad you used Dial?

So this is the 2nd time this has happened to me -gave me a laugh today.

I went to the open market in Jacmel today to buy food for the school kids. Open market is always a fun adventure. Kinda like Wal-mart-not in the fact you can find anything you would ever need at the everyday low price. But in the fact that whenever you go it is an experience :)
So I walked past this booth of nice used kids shoes and have been looking for some for some school kids whose parents can't afford. Anyways-I stopped and was looking and asking prices when the l lady vendor looks at me very seriously and tells me I smell like a "blan." Like a white person! You would think since this is the 2nd time someone has told me this I would have a whitty answer. But nope-that one stops me in my tracks everytime. Maybe I am blending in more than I think.

Glad I used Dial and man oh man do I wish everyone else here did!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It is finished! (almost)

Monday was the last day of the Mother/Child class in Peredo. Pictured here are the mothers who were accepted into the class. And behind the person taking the picture are the mothers who came just to listen to the material (and for the free entertainment the American nurse provided).

I have to say I am kinda sad to see this 1st class go. From talking to the 17 yr old mother of a 4 month old the importance of abstinence from now on until marriage, to trying to convince the mother of 7 there are still things she can learn to better help her children. I really hope and pray they take the task of raising happy, healthy children seriously and understand how much God trusts them to do this. Not all of the women in the program attend church, but this offered a great opportunity to show them God's love for themselves and their entire families.

This week the topic was worms. Nice huh? I would guess nearly all the children in this village have intestinal worms. We talked about different kinds of worms and how they are transmitted. They even used some acting skills in class to show how worms can be transmitted. We treat so many kids in the clinic for worms but the problem is they go right back home-to their normal routine and get them again. I am hoping the education in this community breaks cycles like this. It is the mentality of the people here that if you can just take a pill to make you better, then just take the pill. But with education and understanding they can learn how to prevent sicknesses and how to prevent them from reoccurring.

I have learned a ton with this class too. This is the first time I have taught in another language. It took a lot of studying and practicing the classes before the actual class. Here I was nervous to stand in front of women -most of whom have never been to a day of school in their lives! But I wanted them to believe what I was telling them and I knew if I stood up there like a blubbering idiot, they wouldn't. I also wanted them to realize I really do care about them and spent time to prepare a class for them. But I am telling you this was no easy task for me. I prayed and prayed that I wouldn't say the wring thing or something offensive. I am thankful for the time I took last year to meet people in the community and learn some of the culture.

Most importantly I learned that the women in this community are hungry to learn. And they learn fast. I really was impressed. We didn't have a fancy powerpoint show or handouts (they can't even read) or even a chalkboard-and they picked up the material fast. I would quiz them the follwoing week on what we talked about the week before and they were so excited and talking so fast at time I had to tell them to slow down! They all showed up to every single class (after the 1st week!) on time except one mother. She missed a class and sent her 7 yr old son in her place to listen and then come home and tell her what we talked about. Now I am not for sure if she sent him to listen or to see if I was handing out anything to them that week, but, nevertheless I was impressed.

They brought oranges and bananas as a gift of appreciation for me. One of the women told me to make sure I ate them to get some Vitamin C so I would get a cold. SCORE! She listened! She remembered! She applied the material to real life! I literally almost cried at that comment. All my hard work-hopefully will pay off!

They told me they wanted to do something else for me but didn't have the money. I thanked them and then thought of a way they can help the mission and other women in Peredo. I asked them if they would be willing to come to the mobile clinic in Peredo the week a team from the States are coming. They are going to come and "teach" the classes to the women waiting in line to be seen at the clinic. People literally wait in line all day long to be seen. Some of them don't get seen as we run out of time.The women in the group paired off and each took a topic we discussed and they are getting together this week on their own time to practice. I am going back this coming Monday to meet with them and they are going to practice in front of each other. They are really excited about helping the other women in the community. Please pray this is successful and an encouragement to the women completing the class.

I had someone say to me that I needed to take more than 7 women into the class b/c this class could help more than 7 at once. But I really wanted to do this 1st class right and I am still learning myself. But I agreed that the class could have helped more. And hopefully it will...

Thanks for all the prayer warriors for this project-I know a lot of you were praying-keep praying! The women know the information-now time to see if the practice it. But as they say...you can lead a horse to water...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fan mail

I have a request! Someone actually reads this blog and requested a posting! Does it still count if it was a family member? Aunt Terry (aunt pictured on the Left. Nut Hattie is pictured on Right) -who makes fabulous food by the way-asked me to post about the foods I eat in Haiti and post some pics. I have to be honest though. I am learning to cook Haitian food so I have a cook that comes 3 times a week and the house boy here at the mission house can cook up a mean Haitian meal. FYI-not all these pics are mine. I found some of the pics of food on other sites and "borrowed" them for educational purposes.

Breakfast is normal American breakfast stuff. Well pretty much. They try to make spaghetti for breakfast sometimes and I have to veto that. We have eggs, toast, pancakes, crackers, fruit.

Lunch is the main meal here and normally eaten around 130 or 2pm. One of my favorite things to fix is lam. The English word for it is breadfruit. You peel/cu off the tough outer skin and inside is white. you slice it up like french fries and deep fry it. It really tastes like McDonald's french fries. Haitians also boil it and eat it but I am so hooked on the deep-fried variety I haven't tried boiled. We eat this with sandwiches, as a snack. One of my favorite combos is fried peanut butter and jelly with fried lam. Heart attack waiting to happen, but so good!

Another side dish you find everywhere in Haiti is Banann. It is a plantain. They boil and fry it. Guess which kind we eat here? How did you know? First you peel the Banann. The cut it into chunks and deep fry it.When it gets soft in the middle and a little crusty on the outside, take it out and smash it flat. You can smash it between 2 plates like here or we use the lid to the mayo jar most of the time.
Then put it back in the deep frying oil until it is nice and crispy. I of course dip it in Ketchup but have never seen a Haitian do this and have gotten some pretty strange looks for doing it. They also put a spicy cole slaw on top if it and eat it that way. Yummy too-if you like spicy food!

This picture is another way they fix the banann and sell it on the streets. I am not sure hw they do it. I think cut it into long, thin strips and deep fry it and sprinkle with salt. It's like a plantain chip. Very tasty. Sells for 5 gourde (exchange rate is around 40 gourde to $1 US) a pack. There are probably 15 in a pack. So a very cheap snack. We love them!

Now to the staple of Haitian food-Rice and Beans!
Haitian rice and beans are so good! Especially if they make it spicy with Pima peppers. These peppers are super hot. A little goes a long way. They make a red sauce with oil, a little tomato paste, onions, and Maggi. It moistens the already moist rice and it so good. I have to admit though that rice and beans does get old when you get it 3-4 times a week. Sometimes we have chicken with it. Sometimes lobster. Rarely beef. I buy our beef in Port-au-Prince when I go at the grocery store. The beef here is killed in the morning and hangs in the open air in the market covered in flies so I opt out of that for us. A lot of people eat goat meat with rice and beans too but I am not a fan of goat meat so we don't. Back to the rice. I have made the rice under supervision twice. You put garlic, onions and other fresh spices bought in the market (which by the way are super fresh and super good!) crush them and simmer in oil. Then add the rice and water and let it cook. Of course I am forgetting you fix the beans first as they take a long time to cook. The cook here usually started making lunch around 10 am and it's done about 1 or 130pm. No instant cooking here!

And Haitian spaghetti. We couldn't talk about Haitian food and leave out the spaghetti! So they make the noodles the same. But there is very little sauce on it and it is oilier than ours. It's spicy too. And of course has the infamous hotdogs inside. Yep, that's right hot dogs. And remember this is a favorite breakfast food in Haiti. Weird! I love the spaghetti (minus hotdogs-Odessa eats hers and mine).

Haiti has so many good fruits. We make fresh sqeezed juice all the time. Odessa is learning how to help make it too. You also get a nice view of the kitchen. And my dirty hair. Ignore that. I am washing it tonight. Seriously. Well...I'm in Haiti-give me a break. It has been raining all week and NO sun to warm the water on the roof to bathe. I jump in and wash off but have been too cold to wash my hair-give me a break-it's long and takes a long time. Too long in cold water. OK back to the juice. tonight we made orange juice and lime juice. The lime is little too tart for me but Odessa loves it.

One cool little fruit Haiti has is called Ka-nips. It has a hard rind that when you bite it it pops open and a little, slimy fruit comes out that feels like a grape without the skin on. It's good and has a hard, large seed in the middle. You can buy 30 of them for 5 gourde. Cheap snack when they are in season. Beware though-they stain clothes! I found that out the hard way-Odessa has ruined many an outfit! It is a clear juice that seems harmless but stains clothes black when it dries.I think I could go on and on about the food here. There are so many different things I have never seen in the US. Maybe another installment of Haitian food blog is needed.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nutrition Class update

Just wanted to give an update on the mother/infant nutrition class. So I've been winging it and teaching about topics I thought needed taught and then the mothers had some ideas for classes too. So we do talk a lot about nutrition and breastfeeding, but have done classes on personal hygiene, baby hygiene, and how we are examples to our children. I have been really impressed with these women. They are always on time (after the first week of me leaving them!) and they really participate in the class. They are starting to ask more questions and let their guard down more. But I have been really happy with their response to the material. We have 2 more weeks of class and then this session is over and other mothers are already asking to be in the next class. I am going to take some time to revamp it a little and hopefully take more mothers in this next class.

This week they all got a month's supply of vitamins and handmade baby blankets sent from churches in the states and I forgot my camera! So sorry no pics. The class was about choosing foods in the market that had the same vitamins in them that the vitamin pills have in them. So I had them take their bottle of vitamins out of the bag and we read what was inside them. Then we talked about foods they could buy in the market with these vitamins in them already. I know they will not be able to afford to buy more vitamins for themselves in the future but I wanted them to know what food choices would give them the same nutrients. For example, they saw there is Vitamin C in the pills. I explained why we need Vit C and then told them they could find it in oranges and mangoes. We talked about Iron and how it gives energy. They learned they could find Iron in red meat and dried beans. We talked about 7 vitamins total.

I thought it was a ton of information and didn't know how well they would remember. That complicated for me to keep straight and these are women who didn't go to school! I quizzed them at the end and they did awesome! Now the real test will be to check their shopping bags in the market!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Job and The House That Was

Last Sunday a 4 year old little boy came up to me and told me he couldn't start school next month. When I asked him why he said b/c his house burnt down last week and his school uniform, shoes and books were inside and now they are gone. His family doesn't have the money to buy new ones. Then I remembered last week I was stopped by people on the street 4 times total to tell me about his family and their house that burned. Now I was meeting Job, at 4 years old he is the youngest of the family. Job came to church by himself and I told him to tell his parents I was coming to talk to them at their house on Monday morning. The school principal, Met-Sorel, said he would go with me to show me where they lived.

We went to a house that is made of banana leaves and some old wood. I met mom, dad and their 3 sons. Mom did all of the talking and said they were renting this house until they figured out what else to do. Now I use the term "house" very loosely. It has 4 crooked, warped, wood walls and banana branches and leaves as a roof. But I guess it is a dry place to sleep. We walked even farther up into the mountains and found the remains of their house. It literally burnt to the ground and everything in it was lost. This family has no clothes, cooking utensils, bedding, nothing. They are not Christians and do not attend church. The mother said, "Sometimes I think God has to shake some people to make them listen. I've been shaken and now I'm listening." I encouraged them to come to church this coming Sunday and told them the start times. We talked about how material things can all be replaced and how thankful we were that no one was inside the house. We talked about how God never promised we would not have difficult times in this life but He promised to never leave us to go through them alone. We talked about how much God loves His children and He is waiting for all of His children to come to Him. They walked around the ground which used to be in the inside of the house and tried to recognize the charred contents.

I was telling this story to an American couple that evening and they asked how much money it would cost to replace Job's school supplies. I gave them an estimate and they readily agreed to send the money! Job's family does not have a telephone but I am returning to Peredo tomorrow and will share this gift a Christian couple hundreds of miles away is giving to their child.

I looked through donations received on Haitian Christian Outreach's containers that were sent after the earthquake and found bed sheets, clothing, soap, and toiletries to give this family as they start rebuilding their lives. To everyone who brought and collected items to send -thank you for doing so and helping this family. Please pray with me that this Christian act of love will encourage them to seek the God who we already love and serve!

Monday, August 16, 2010

This is a family I met in the mountains of Peredo while looking for babies and mothers for the nutrition program. I was passing a hut when a man asked me to come and look at his mother who was sick. I did and noticed this little girl sitting propped up by blankets. One of her eyes are crossed and I started asking about her. Her dad said she is year old but doesn't sit or stand or walk yet. Her name is Fondla. I went over and started playing with her and she had the brightest smile. I couldn't help but think that if she was in the states she would have been put in Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy to help her. I could tell she had the potential to learn if helped. I could also see the love this family has for their little girl. I told her family I was going to look into getting her help. I had no idea how-I don't know any Physical or Occupational Therapists in this entire country. But at Nationwide Children's Hospital at home they are everywhere! Sometimes we don't realize how blessed we are to have so many resources in the United States.

I was down at the Texaco gas station in town one morning and saw some people from other mission in town. They were so excited about the new missionary who came to Haiti and promised to work here for 6 years. I asked what she does and they said she is an Occupational Therapist! Wow! Exactly the person Fondla needed. God's perfect timing. I am sure God brought me as the connecting piece for these 2 people. I set up an appointment with Jen, the Occupational Therapist and then told the parents.

Last Wednesday I made the hour drive out to Peredo. Fondla and her parents were waiting at the church for their ride. We made the hour drive back and entered the hospital for Fondla's appointment. A lot of buildings fell or were damaged at the hospital in Jacmel so the Therapists are set up outside in a tent. Jen came out and greeted us and met Fondla and her parents. She was excited at the potential Fondla has and spent an entire hour teaching the parents how to do therapy with her at home to help her meet developmental milestones she has already missed. Jen was confident Fondla will catch up and her parents were encouraged to hear that she has the capibility of walking one day.

I sent the parents with money for a tap tap (taxi to ride home) and a little food. They were so grateful for everything and kept saying, "Mesi Miss Ginny." I reminded them that God provided the means for me to meet them and the Occupational Therapist and He provided Haitian Christian Outreach with a vehicle for me to use to help people in the
community. I told them Miss Ginny could not do this on her own. I asked them to thank God and tell others what the Lord has done for their family. Thank you too for being a part of helping the people here. Without your prayers and financial support, we would not be able to help kids like Fondla.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Class Runneth Over

I am so excited to give an update on the mother/infant nutrition class in the village of Peredo. Last Monday I had to go through tap-taps and high water to get there. But it was so worth it. The mission truck was still broke down last Monday. I had prayed about canceling the class as I didn't have transportation and only one mother showed up the week before. But I knew I had made a commitment to them to help them with infant nutrition and I decided to go. I left the house at 11am and struck out to find a motorcycle taxi to take me to town. That went very easy. Then got to town and the tap tap was pulling out to leave so I flagged it down and they of course stopped for the white lady :) This tap tap only broke down once on the way and we were making good time. Or so I thought. I must have been enjoying the ride b/c an hour and a half had passed. When I drive I can get from my door to the church in Peredo in 50-60 minutes total. We pulled up to the river and everyone started getting off the truck. Normally it crosses the river and takes you into town. they said the water was too high that day. There were men waiting to be paid to carry us across the river. I had a quick conversation with God. It went something like this:

Me: "Lord-you've got to be kidding me."
Him: "Don't be a sissy."
Me: "Sissy?!? I just came all this way in a 3rd world country by myself!"
Him: "You were never by yourself. You give yourself too much credit. Now hang onto your skirt, climb up on that man's back and enjoy your journey."

(This pic is of the river when it is low enough to cross by truck)

So I did. I have to admit I stomped my feet all the way over to a man. He was getting teased by the other men that it was his lucky day getting to carry a white lady across the river. I climbed on and held on tight and soon all I could hear was the rushing river water and instead it making me more scared it calmed me instantly. I looked up at the mountains and their beauty-The beauty of God's creation. I had seem those mountains a hundred times but never from the view of a Haitian's back in the middle of the river. I learned that day to not to forget to enjoy the journey God has planned out for me.

Sooooooo....I took another motorcycle into town and he was driving like a maniac and giving me a huge headache on all the bumps and pot holes. I told him he could stop, I paid him and checked the time. 7 minutes until class. I held onto my skirt and started running down the path to the church. I made it there on time and to my delight all 7 mothers were there for class! They all even got there before me! I took a deep breath remembering how discouraged I was the week before when One mother showed up alone. I had prayed and asked God if this is not what He wanted to see me do in the village to please close this door and open another wide so i wouldn't miss it.

All the moms were dressed in their nicest clothes and they all brought their infants with them. I checked all the babies and they all looked good. We held our first class on the importance of Breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding for the 1rst 6 months. We talked about the risks of them feeding their babies unclean water and introducing them to solids way too early. The mothers were telling me they start giving them food after the baby is a month old. Food like rice, smashed bananas and mangoes. All the research doen by the World Health Organization in 3rd world countries states these babies she be exclusively breastfed for the 1rst 6 months. We discussed the advantages to this and the importance of compliance. THe mothers participated in the discussion. I had a "test" session at the end of the class to see if they really understood what we were talking about that day and they answered them wonderfully! I was so proud! Now getting them to put it into practice is another blog...

That was last Monday. This Monday the truck was finally fixed after 14 days. Thank the Lord! I went out to Peredo for class and there were 11 mothers there. Some others in the village heard about the class and wanted to join. I felt bad but had to turn them away. I don't have a big budget for this class and want to be able to "micromanage" this first class. I had already evaluated all of them and their home situations. These extra mothers begged me to start another class with their babies. I told them they could sit in on the class that day and I would see their babies after class. I checked the 4 babies and they looked OK.

I thought back 2 weeks before when I felt like I was begging mothers to come to this week where I was turning them away. My class runneth over. Praise the Lord!

I am posting a picture of one of the moms in the nutrition class. Her name is Elenal. She is 31 yrs old. Her first husband died and her current husband went to the Domincan Republic to work. She told me he has been gone for months and hasn't sent any money yet. Elenal has 5 children. theyoungest pictured here is 3 months old. She is having a hard time raising her kids alone. When i visited her house she told me she is borrowing food from neighbors and has to repay them. I went to the market that day and bought them food for 3-4 days. One of her daughter attends our school in Peredo. She has a son who looked to be about 10 yrs old and has never been to school. He was cutting weeds in the yard with a machete when I was there. She is very interested in the class and you an see her love fo rher children.

Please pray for Elenal specifically in the nutrition class. Her family can greatly benefit from this program.