In honor of the Olympics coming up and Canada day as well as Independence day happening this week we at Samaritan’s Purse have decided to get in the spirit of competition. We have organized a two week competition with all kinds of events; from Basketball and Hockey on the helipad, to scrabble, to ping pong to things in a box! This Saturday is our final day of the competition. We have a ton of games planned, a BBQ, fire works and camp fire!
Tonight’s event was soccer and Canada + the World (we have all other internation/non-american players on our team cause the US SP staff out number us 1-3) dominated the americans 5-2!! With Eddie, our logistician from Kenya (explains why he’s so good) getting a hat trick and John, our British Columbian nurse/volunteer coordinator/procurement expert scoring the two other points!
It was a fun night! I was really impressed with the skills we have on this base! And I gotta give a shout out to Nathan, aka muscles- you beat a girl at arm wrestling. You are the man!
My brother Nat talking with the UN soldiers from Sri Lanka after helping us clear out the manifestation.
This past month has been pretty insane to say the least…
We started off the first week of June with a manifestation at our work site. This was my first experience with a Haitian manifestation. Haha say that really fast 3 times… This one was extremely mild compared to how things regularly go.. usually things get burnt, cops get shot, and people get kidnapped.
This one wasn’t that bad!
so IHQ told us to hire more employees so we can get this project done faster. We had a meeting on Friday and decided we had to hire 40 people for Monday. I guess the word spread quickly that we were hiring cause when we showed up to work on Monday there was WAY more then 40 new employees waiting for us at the gate.
It was hectic! I knew I just had to keep calm and collected to keep a clear head.
At 7am there were about 80 people pushing up against our gate yelling. Andrea (our HR program manager) and I were on the other side of the gate calling out the names we had on our list. We confirmed everyone with a picture ID before allowing them onto our site.
I figured once the people saw that we were only accepting those who were on our list they would go home.. but that’s not quite how things work here.
So we started the day like any normal day. Devotions, announcement, security talk. During devotions I noticed the crowd on the street grow larger and larger. It wasn’t long before they blocked all of our exits and began throwing concrete chunks the size of grapefruit at our workers. We had workers on the roof of our building doing everything to take cover.
There is this super cute old old man named Sejourne who was on the roof right next to the street and he just looked terrified. I wanted to run up there to rescue him but my brother wouldn’t let me out of our container.
It was scary but I didnt get that scared until Mark our CAD drawer said he got shot 3 different times all while he was in Haiti… then I thought dang, things could get real real fast.
They threw rocks at our vehicles and broke two windshields. Thank the Lord there were no actual injuries though.
Our head of security showed up with extra guards and brought with him the local Haitian police as well the Sri Lanken soldiers from the local UN base. Once they came things settled down, people cleared out and we were able to eventually take down the road blocks around all our exits.
We had two manifestations this month.. My boss hired 10 people as a result of the manifestation.. so they were like “oh yay sweet. it worked.. so lets do it again!” and thats exactly what happened.
A couple weeks ago my life was threatened while I was at work. A man said if I crossed him again he would kill me. That’s about all I can say about that right now.
God is teaching me so so much and that’s really everything I’m holding on to. He has been blessing me with incredible support by my co-workers as well as friends and family back home.
Im learning a lot about myself. My strengths and weaknesses.. Last semester one of my profs had us do some deep soul searching and come up with our core-values and I feel like through that assignment I learned so much about myself… well this experience has put all of that to real life test.
Now i’m working through where the line is drawn when my morals and ethics are being rocked. When do I walk away from something? What action really quantifies standing up for justice? Is walking away from the injustice enough? Is being a voice for the voiceless and oppressed enough? Or are we suppose to do EVERYTHING possible? Go out with a fight? Even if it means going against your bosses and the decision of an organization?
Anyways.. this is just like the tip of the iceberg of what’s been going on here and what I’ve been doing and learning… processing everything on a daily basis.
We had the kids from the orphanage over at our base for a day and it was awesome! We taught them how to slackline- some of them were actually pretty good for never having done it before! Then we had a beach party, some pizza followed by a balloon fight and finally a dance party on our heli pad.
Unlike some NGOs and mission organization, the one I work for does not allow IFS (international field staff) to come with their families so my base is ‘adults only’. Once little Fritz was really sick so Dr. Linda took him out of the orphanage and brought him to base so he could recover. He was so weak and had an IV tubing attached to him but he was so cute. It was great to have him there for those few days cause I dunno theres just something about being in the presence of children that is special. It is so nice to have kids running around, laughing, playing, goofing around. They bring LIFE with them.
Our base is covered with mango trees. There are more that fall on the ground then we can pick up and eat so the kids seriously had the best time collecting all the mangos. It got pretty serious when some kids had the idea of finding a bag or even an old Pringles container to bring some mangos home. Two little girls starting fighting one another over the mangos haha im laughing at it now but they were like totally at it jumping on one another for these mangos. Our dance party was so much fun. DANG! those kids can DANCE! I learned some new dance moves that i will for sure be using at all future dance occasions. And i may or may not have developed an appreciation for Justin Bieber… but its still just at the appreciation level so i feel like i can openly admit it.
This is just a short video I took while the kids were running around having fun. My camera was full and I was skyping at the time so I used ‘photo booth’ to record this. The quality is bad but oh well, its the captured moment that counts.
Tomorrow morning I will be sharing at morning devotions. Every work day here at SP starts off with devotions for ALL the staff. Working at the construction site we leave an hour before things get started here at base to have devotions with our workers.
For the most part I would rather be at our construction site for devotions cause I really enjoy the dynamics of our team, the energy our national staff bring and the quirkiness of having things translated in 3 different languages (Spanish, English, and Creole).
The upside of having to stay here to do devotions (you may have guessed) is that I get to sleep in. Its a really nice change. It happens only a couple times a week (if im lucky) when I have work to do in the office and paper work to fill out to appease the finance and HR departments constant demands (just kidding! I’m really lucky I get to work with such great people or else doing that work would be a lot tougher, and A LOT more frustrating then it already usually is).
SO enough rambling… back to the point. Every so often our program is scheduled to share for the base’s morning devotions. It should really be John speaking tomorrow but he weaseled his way out of doing it (again) by offering to buy me dinner. I caved.
Tomorrow I will be sharing on 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.
Its such a short and simple verse but it is pact with so much. First off, we learn 3 attributes of God 1) He is faithful 2) He is righteous and 3) He has the ability to forgive and to cleans us from all unrighteousness. Pretty straightforward eh?
I think God wanted to teach me about his faithfulness. Dr. Linda spoke about it tonight at chapel in a different context but it was exactly what I needed to hear.
God is faithful. God is faithful even while we waiver. Even when we stop coming to him. Even when we walk away thinking that we are not only good enough without Him, but that we are actually better off without him. Despite my rebellion, my pride, my sins, my blatant disrespect… despite everything, he is faithful. I understand that as being the exact essence of love. I picture a husband’s faithfulness to his wife as a demonstration of his love for her. In his human effort that husband, who is imperfect in himself, acts out of love for his wife. How much more then is God, who IS perfect, who IS love going to be faithful towards us?
For a long time that kind of love scared me. That kind of faithfulness scared me. I tried to find it in human relationships and replace it with those relationships but in the end those relationships all failed to measure up. I think I was afraid to find it in God because of what that would mean for me—Love so amazing so devine demands my soul, my life, my all.
Demands my soul, my life, my all…
Let me share a little secret with you, im a little scared of commitment— Commitment to living in the same place for too long, commitment to plans that are too far away, commitment to a relationship… I was even too afraid to commit to go snorkeling today with a friend because oh no, what if I find something better that I want to do instead? Snorkeling. I mean come on!
So the kind of commitment that demands the most intimate part of my being, my heart, is terrifying to me. But thats totally twisted because God is not some past boyfriend thats going to disappoint me or hurt me or mistreat me. He isn’t another plan thats going to come along and be better.
God is the perfect example of love. This fear, this twisted way of thinking is a straight up lie from satan. I dont have to be afraid of God’s love and His faithfulness. It is the most amazing thing we will ever experience in this fallen world we live in.
There is beautiful truth found in 1 John 4:16-19 that goes like this
“we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us… There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.“
So, with a deep sigh I type this. It can be easy for me to hide behind fear but I cant hold onto it anymore. Fear is crippling. Fear holds me back. Fear is an inhibitor. His perfect love which he has for me casts out ALL fear that I have. And to that I will stand firm.
2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline”.
Isn’t that amazing? It reminds me of Ephesians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritaul blessing in Christ”.
God has already given us everything we need to overcome. To stand firm. And not only that, but we have his love and his faithfulness for when we forget that He has enabled us. So Im going to hold onto that truth and that promise. Im going to hold onto God’s love and faithfulness and stand firm in the spirit of power and love and of discipline that He has given me. To think I am weak, to think I have fear, to believe I am anything less then capable of living out the life God has called me to live out is a lie.
One thing Dr Linda said tonight that I really appreciated was that sometimes standing firm, as Paul tells us to do in Ephesians, means doing just that; standing- not falling back, and not moving forward. For the past couple years I thought that perseverance meant continuously moving forward and learning and growing and being sanctified and always laying myself down and if I was doing anything less then that then I was failing.
I’m learning a lot about myself while being in Haiti. Seriously I wish you could be in my brain for a day just so you could see how much I’m constantly processing things. No wait, a day in my mind would not be good. You probably would not want to be friends with me anymore or be related to me or associated with me in anyway because really, what I have been learning is that dang I am one mean and bad and selfish and unloving person. But really I think I should save that thought for another blog post for another night…
K so this isn’t at all what I wanted to share with you guys when I first started typing this. I really wanted to confess something to you (something other then that brief confession in that paragraph above) that I have been struggling with since I have been in Haiti.. maybe even before but it became really evident in my time here. But I think God has been working in my heart since I started exploring all these thoughts tonight. As I have been typing this He has been speaking His truth into my heart and It is refreshing. It is liberating.
Matt 11:29 “take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”.
… how could I be afraid of that kind of love?
one of my favorite things… the view from my hammock.
red sky at night sailor’s delight… beautiful Haiti sunsets
One of my favorite photos from the weekend. Adam and Nat and those smiles.
I just got back from a really awesome weekend. On Saturday morning we headed off to Cocoyer, a beautiful white sandy beach with crystal blue water. It was quite the adventure just getting there though. We left at 10am to meet with our boat driver at 10:30. At first we thought we were driving to Petit Goave but then I guess some plans changed so we drove to Grand Goave instead (the town just before). We arrived at Mission of Hope where we thought we were taking the boat but as it turns out the boat was broken (we didnt really understand the whole situation…) We waited for a long time trying to figure out what our next move was gonna be. Thanks to nat and his great creole speaking skills we got a number for another boat driver in Petit Goave. So we all hopped back into our pimp mobile (a 15 passenger van painted gold. yes thats right, gold.. i have no idea who’s idea it was to paint the van gold or the justification behind it but oh well) and then we were off again. Our kind driver Jake, who woke up early on a saturday to chauffeur us around dropped us off right in front of the ocean where we waited for our speed boat to take us to our final destination. We gathered quite an audience of locals just sitting around us watching. Its a past time of Haitians to watch white people. For some reason they find us quite entertaining. After a long wait we finally saw our boat arrive. We loaded our gear and we’re off again. I was totally lying when I said speedboat… it was a small old aluminum fishing boat with a 15hpr motor strapped to it. The ride was fun but we were all eager to get to Cocoyer after about 3 hours of being delayed. But hey, this is Haiti and you have to be able to go with the flow and be flexible when things dont go as planned.
We knew we had arrived when we saw the change in color in the water. It went to typical ocean blue to light Caribbean blue. The ocean floor liked like the bottom of a pool. There were beautiful rock formations along the coast with great reefs for snorkeling.
We set up camp, and watched a guy climb a coconut tree and toss them down, cut them up with a machete and hand them to us to drink. Theres nothing like fresh coconut milk and meat. We spent all afternoon bobbing in the ocean and snorkeling around an island. The water was amazing… so refreshing.
That evening we feasted on hotdogs, followed by some delicious pasta cooked by my awesome brother on his dragonfly stove. While we were eating our pasta we watched a man head into the water with his dive mask in hand go fishing for our lambi (conch)… thats just one of the many perks to living on an island in the Caribbean. That night we walked the beach and met some other aid workers from France who worked for different NGOs in the area. One of the night’s highlights was when a local Haitian man came to join us at our camp fire with his guitar. Nat and him jammed for a while singing creole songs.
Weekends like this are so important to give us the chance to relax, forget about the crazy week we just had and recharge for the crazy week ahead of us. Its amazing that we get the opportunity to go out and explore this beautiful country. I got so much sun this weekend. My skin has turned about 5 shades darker.
When we got back Heidi, Jake and I watched anther episode of The Walking Dead. Oh my word that show is so good. I scream so much… I feel like now that we are mid way through the second season I can confidently say that I am ready for the zombie apocalypse.
Tomorrow we will have 40 new workers joining our crew at the worksite for a ‘test week’. Hopefully they are skilled and hard working and can catch on quick to the rhythm of things. Everyone is working so hard to get this orphanage done as fast as it can so the children can have a clean, safe, loving home. Its been delayed so many times and there have been many, many obstacles to overcome.
Please pray for me as this will be another busy week with im sure many challenges. Theres so much more I want to share but I gotta go get a bit of work done before tomorrow. till next time..
Nat and John and I were driving into Leogane on our way to work. The day before we left at 7am but had a bunch of materials to load onto the truck so we arrived at the construction site a few minutes after things had already started. So to set a good example, and to get on our boss’ good side, we made sure to leave a few minutes early today.
There were bagels and cream cheese for breakfast. AND bacon. I was really excited. I made myself a quick breakfast to go and got into the Fuso with the guys. Our ride was fun. Most mornings we try to see how little coffee we can spill on ourselves as Nat drives through the crazy Haitian roads. If its not playing leap frog with the motor bikes and the tap taps, the semi’s flying by at ridiculous speeds, its the pot holes that get us. The drives to work can be really entertaining. Most mornings I just try to soak in all the beauty of everything around me; the palm trees, the mountains, the sun making its way into the sky.I prep myself for the day, I stay pretty quiet while Nat and John banter back and forth about whatever is on their minds.
We had all just agreed out loud that today was going to be a great day. I think sometimes its more like making ourselves be convinced by our words. “Yes, its gonna be a great day!”
That phrase had just enough time to set into my mind.
It couldnt have been more then 10 seconds that went by when we passed by a UN truck and soldiers documenting something on the side of the road. While still in mid-sentence my brother and I turned to our left to see what was happening and thats when I saw it. A corps on the side of the road. Burned to a crisp. At first glance I didnt know what I was looking at. I had never seen such a thing before in my life.
In movies and on tv its one thing, we’ve become used to such images and in many ways have become numb to the response or reaction we as humans should really be forced to experience.
But there it was, my first view of the effects of lynching. It took my brain a few seconds to really grasp the situation and the implications of what happened.
In Haiti there are a few ways in which you can legitimately be killed. if you get in a car accident and hit someone you can (and if caught- will) be killed by the crowd. Its legal. Its their judicial system. We are told that if we get into a car accident, to just keep driving and get to a safe place (either back to base where we can report the accident to authorities or drive to the nearest police station). Another way to be killed is if you’re caught stealing.
Last weekend a bus had broken down right in front of our construction site and a man was caught stealing the transmission in the middle of the night. It didnt take long before a crowd gathered to try to kill him. He ran into our site and hid in the bathrooms. Our security guards were able to call the police and save the man’s life (for now).
The body we saw today was probably a result of stealing. Tires were put around the person and then set on fire. Before or after he was killed we will never know. Maybe it was done most mortem in a way to show more disgrace to the body, or maybe its how he or she died.
I feel like there are things I will never understand about the way things work in Haiti. I think this is one of them. On one hand, I know why its done. The people have little hope. They cant trust their government or their police officers. Something has to be done and this is one way where the people have found a solution that works for them. It would take a psychologist, a sociologist, and an anthropologist to really break down all the implications these actions have on the people and this society. I dont have that knowledge or education. Right now all I have is just what I know and what I see every day.
The rest of my day didnt end up being “great” either. There was so much work to do and I didnt get it done. There aren’t enough hours in the day for everything that there is to do. We left the construction site almost two hours later then normal. Its just another day in Haiti for me. I need to remember why I’m here and focus on the good things. Cheer up, persevere through hard days and just keep going.