Haiti Trip 2014

A while back, I mentioned going on a Haiti trip in 2014 with Mom and Lydia. I also said that a two-year anniversary post was coming up. This is it, by the way.

June 5, 2014.

Mom, Lydia, and I met up with the rest of our group that morning (7am, I think? Not sure though), who had flown in from Kansas the night before. (We were with a group from Haiti Lifeline Ministries)

We landed in Florida, made a gate change, and got on the plane to Haiti. (I must say, it is a whole lot easier to get out of the US than it is to get back in)

You know Haiti; definitely not classified as a first world country, so there was none of this 'wandering off two by two' in the Haitian airport. A truck from the orphanage we were going to met us, and the baggage was loaded on. Everyone piled inside (it was open-air, and the seats were essentially metal bleacher benches, no seatbelts).

The orphanage was a good 30-45 minute drive. I say drive, but the roads were mostly unpaved and chock-full of people and other vehicles. Boy was I glad I wasn't learning to drive there! (Lydia and I had only just finished driver's ed.) I'm pretty sure I only ever saw one stop sign, and I'm positive that there were no stoplights.

The kids were all adorable, and very sweet. Because it was late afternoon (4:30-5ish), we didn't do any work that day, and just played with the kids.

There were four bathrooms, and three rooms to sleep in. The rooms had small a/c units, but in my opinion, they didn't do a whole lot. The breezes were nice and cool though. The guys got one room, and the ladies split up to the other 2 rooms. One of the girls' rooms had a bathroom in it, the other three were connected to the main room, where we ate and had our devotions (which were on Ephesians). The floors were all concrete, and I think most of the beds were bunks. Not nice big wooden ones you'd see around here, they were metal, itty-bitty bunks, smaller than a twin bed. There wasn't a whole lot of extra space for baggage in the rooms, so my backpack got to live at the end of my bunk (I got a top one) for the whole time. Mom was under me, so her suitcase and stuff was able to go under the bunk. Lydia got a single story bed, and our suitcase lived next to it. There were six other ladies sharing our room, so it was a bit crowded.

The main room was big. It had two doors on either end, and several windows, all of which were open pretty much the entire time. The kitchen was connected to it by a large pass-through, under which, they kept their freezer. By about half-way through the trip, everyone was keeping their water bottles in the freezer to keep them cold.

(day 2)

I had brought my camera with me (my point-and-shoot), and the kids loved it. They all wanted their pictures taken, and to see said photos.

Our job while at the orphanage was to scrape paint off the building we were staying in, and to re-paint it. Sounds simple, easy, and fast, don't you think? Keep thinking.

The paint, though it had only been put on a little over a year before, had baked into the walls of the building. I can't begin to tell you all how quickly the paint scrapers got dull. I'm not even kidding. They would work fine for an hour or two, then somebody would have to sharpen them before we could go on.

At some point during the day, two little girls sat me down and pulled part of my hair into a small braid. It was a really small one, and they didn't braid a huge bunch of hair, but goodness they pulled hard. Half of my head was numb when they finished.

(day 3)
Somebody got out a sander, and that was ok, but it kept blowing dust all over everyone. We had fun though. By the end of every day, everyone was covered in paint chippings.

By about the third day, a couple of the team members weren't feeling that great, so they stayed inside and rested.

Two of the kids came up to me, and asked me something in Creole, and I shrugged. They giggled and walked away. I'm pretty sure they were asking me what my name was.

(day 4)
On Sunday, we went to a church, and our team leader preached the sermon. Every couple of sentences, the normal pastor at that church translated what the team leader had said. (Oh yeah, hardly anyone spoke English, most everyone spoke Creole, which is essentially messy French.)

Afterwards, most of the team went out to shop for souvenirs.

At some point, one of the girls braided my whole head. It took a loooonnnng time, and my head was numb for a while afterwards. It did help keep my head cool, and it was nice not having to brush or comb it.

(day 5)
Since several of the team members were still not feeling good, we opted to only try and finish scraping to front of the building, and maybe the sides if we ended up having enough time.

We did a food distribution that day. It was about and hour and a half to two hour drive, mostly on gravel roads, there was one stretch that was paved. We found out that if we stood up and held on to something, we would not be jostled around nearly as much, thus saving ourselves from several bruises in uncomfortable places (heads, as well as seats).

So we got to this place, right? They happily invited us into their church building (a structure mainly derived of scrap metal and wood), and the team leader and orphanage director started handing the people their "tickets" (a popsicle stick, sort-of). The thing was, we only had so many bags of food we could give them, so the orphanage director and our team leader would decide who would get each bag of food (sad, I know).

These people were on the brink of desperation, right? So. The popsicle stick method was getting a bit rough. The team leader told everyone to get back in the truck, and stay put. They finally settled down enough for the team leader and the orphanage director to start handing out the bags of food. After a while of stopping and starting again, we finally finished.

Lydia hadn't been feeling 100%, so she had opted to stay and take a nap (like, a five hour one). She would have gone into hyper-freak-out-ation had she been with us.

I had gotten some sort of bug bite on my foot, and it was starting to swell by the time we got back.

(day 6)
One of the ladies on the team was a doctor, so Mom got her to check my foot. The doctor said it was a mosquito bite, but it didn't itch, it hurt when I pressed on it, or when I stomped my foot. I was on the top bunk, right? So jumping down onto the concrete was very fun (sarcasm). She put together a rough chart, measured both my feet, and drew around the swelled part of my foot (which by now was pretty sizable). We debated about taking me to a hospital, but it was already about 5 in the evening, and we were told that if we valued our lives, we would stay inside the walled orphanage compound after dark.

Earlier that afternoon they had basically told me to stay on my bed and not move. I was determined to keep scraping the paint, and was willing to push though anyways, but they wouldn't have any of that. They were able to complete scraping the front by the end of the day.

Eventually, Mom and the doctor decided to just pump me up with tylenol and some other pill. It did help a bunch, but it did weird stuff to my stomach that I probably would have liked to avoid.

(day 7, last full day)
Instead of working, we took a trip to the beach about two hours away.

The color of the water was absolutely gorgeous, but there was no sand, it was all gravel. There was a reef within swimming distance that wasn't half-bad. There were two piers. One was about two feet above the water, the other had a pavilion at the end (which was where we hung out and dropped our stuff) with a railing around it. It was about ten feet from the railing to the water below.

You'll never guess who jumped off.

Lydia and I were just bobbing in the water, when we hear a splash. We both look at the water, and see Mom come up. We look back at each other, and I'm pretty sure we both groaned internally (at least I did). We couldn't just let her be the only one out of us three to be brave enough to jump. So we jumped at the same time, all three of us. It was FUN! If I remember correctly, Lydia and I did it five more times after that, before stopping to have our first taste of Coke.

I like rootbeer better, just FYI.

It was late afternoon by the time we got back to the orphanage. I took out the braids I had gotten on Sunday, because they were definitely not going to last until we got back to Texas. One of the girls rebraided the top half of my head, but they looked pretty ridiculous. I left them in overnight though.

(day 8, departure day)
We all got up super early to get to the airport. Lydia helped me take out the braids while we waited for the flight. Then I looked in the mirror. Now, normally my hair can get pretty crazy on its own, but it could have passed for an afro. After much combing through with water, I finally was able to get it to a reasonable volume so I could put it into a regular braid.

We made it to Florida with no hassle, and we discovered how long the process of getting back into the US can take. (It probably wasn't that long, we were all just tired by that time.)

Originally, the team was supposed to split up in Florida, but the flights changed, so we were all on the same plane back to Texas. Mom and I sat in the very back of the plane, and while it was a bit noisy, it was nice being able to lean the seat back and not worry about annoying anyone behind me (because making sure nobody is annoyed because of me is more important than my comfort on a multiple hour flight. Plus, it annoys me when people in front of me lean their seat back).

Dad met us at the airport, along with apples and smoothies (homemade green ones).

A word on the food: Almost nothing was fresh during that week. The team had brought boxed mixes for breakfast, and sandwich materials for lunch. Dinner was cooked by a couple ladies connected to the orphanage.

Breakfasts were almost always a bread. Lunch was turkey on white, or pb+j on white. Dinner was a meat (we were still technically vegetarians a that point, so we didn't eat that part), and a mixture of beans and rice. Carbs. Carbs everywhere.

Mom knew that the meals were going to be like this, so she had us all pack healthy snacks; cups of just-add-hot-water oatmeal, dried plums and apricots, cashews, and assorted granola bars that weren't my cup of tea. I still won't eat dried plums or apricots, and the thought of eating a granola bar almost makes me gag. Plus that whole thing with the medications making my stomach act up. I dropped like five pounds that week.

All in all, it was a delightful week. The kids were so sweet. We always sang at the end of every day (10,000 reasons was a favorite). We had a lot of fun teaching the kids how to make bracelets out of embroidery floss and rainbow-loom bands. We did finish the front of the building, and there were several finished patches along the back and sides for the next team to finish up.

Comments

  1. That's so cool! The only time I've been out of the US for a long time was when my family took a vacation to England.

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  2. Your trip sounds like it was great! What an experience!

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  3. Short term mission trips are awesome, you meet so many cool people, and make so many memories.

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  4. That sounds amazing! What an incredible experience.



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