Monday, September 17, 2012

Answered Prayer!!!

I just wanted to update everyone on a little bit of answered prayer.

As I wrote about previously, Cal's dad fell ill about a month before we left Haiti. He became very weak, had difficultly walking, eating and had headaches. In the week or so after we left, he became very unresponsive.

Praise God, in the past few weeks he has been recovering greatly! He is able to walk with the aid of a cane and is up and about visiting. Just yesterday he was walking down the street in Haut Limbe - something he hasn't been able to do for 2 months!

We are so thankful for the help of Dr. Manno, Dr. Fred and Dr. Joselie at Eben-ezer Clinic who have been caring for him. We are thankful to all of you who have been praying for him. And most of all we give glory to God for the work He has done! Amen!

Monday, August 27, 2012

In Canada!

Hi All!

Yes, we did make it to Canada - sorry for the silence. Cal and I arrived in Saskatoon on August 10 at about midnight after a long day of travel - delayed flights, rushing through customs and security and catching all of our flights.

We left Haiti the first week of August and spent a week with friend and fellow Covenant missionary, Tammi Biggs, in Santiago. It was a great transition week for us. We were able to enjoy some of the things the DR has to offer, relax with friends, watch the Olympics and enjoy some good Dominican food before heading to Canada.

We've been here two weeks now and have enjoyed time here with my family. I've been keeping myself busy by teaching myself Haitian cooking. Cal says that I improve each time I make something, so I guess I'm on the right track.

We will be in Saskatoon for the foreseeable future so we ask for your prayers as we continue to transition, dealing with culture-shock (Calvin) and re-entry culture shock (Janelle), and as I begin seeking employment in Winnipeg.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

2 more sleeps.

Wow! Time is flying by way faster than I ever imagined. The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind and I don't think it's going to stop anytime soon. On Friday, Cal and I will leave Haiti on the bus and head for Santiago, DR where we will spend the week until we fly to Canada on August 10.

This past weekend we held a spiritual retreat for the clinic as well as key leaders in the community. Thank you so much for praying it as it was a great success in my mind. Some major decisions were made and there was a good time of sharing. The clinic now has a new leadership (board) and I believe that God is at work and that we will see great growth in the future.

I want to ask you to keep praying for Cal's dad. He has still not recovered from his illness. We don't have a clear diagnosis, but he is experiencing headaches (less than before) and weakness in his feet and legs which makes it really difficult for him to walk. We've been spending a lot of time with him, encouraging him to eat and exercise so that he can recover. It's difficult to leave him at a time like this, but we have confidence that God will continue to heal him.

Packing kicked into high gear yesterday and today. I have all the things Cal and I will take packed into 3 checked bags, 2 carry-ons and one backpack! I'm so impressed with us! Now we just hope that all our bags make the fairly short connections we have on the way to Saskatoon.

We been enjoying time with friends and family, going to soccer games and beginning our good-byes. Please keep us in your prayers over the next few days.

Monday, July 23, 2012


I've been slowing packing (cleaning, purging, organizing) for the past few weeks. It's amazing what you can accumulate in 2.5 years! I've found a lot of things that I have held on to "just in case" which I actually I think is quite justified as when you live in Haiti, you never really know when you'll need something and can't just run out and buy it (body wash, shampoo, clothes patches, cough drops, etc). Turns out a lot of the "just in case" stuff was buried at the bottom of a rubbermaid and I had forgotten about it. Whoops!

I've been sorting through things and really asking myself "what do we need?". When I did this exercise in Canada, I ended up keeping a lot of stuff. When I do this now, living in Haiti, the "keep" pile is a lot smaller and the "give" pile is bigger. When I think of my neighbours around me, it's really hard for me to justify bringing home 8 pairs of shoes (all summer shoes) to Canada. It's been such a joy to bless those around me with these small gifts.

At the same time, I've been going through my clothes and have realized just how hard Haiti is on them. Getting handwashed and lined dried every week has really done a number on them - stretched, faded & worn. I do believe we'll have to do a clothes shopping trip upon arrival - especially to get seasonally appropriate clothes!

I do believe that we'll be able to get everything into 3 checked bags plus our carry-ons, which I think is pretty impressive. I moved down here with 2 checked bags and 2 carry-ons and this time Cal is with me! What I haven't accounted for is the gifts that people will want to send, namely casav which is a traditional Haitian flat bread that weighs a ton and seemingly lasts forever!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Question #3 - What has been your most challenging experience living in Haiti?

Anonymous (would love to know your name) asked me this question.

It's hard to name just one challenging experience - there have been so many (earthquake, cholera, outbreak, learning Creole, etc.). But one of the most challenging things for me on a daily basis has been learning to give up my independence and control. There are so many things that I just can't easily do for myself. As we don't have a car, we just can't decide to drive into Cap to visit someone or go out for dinner. I need someone with me to go to the market. If there is a problem with the water or electricity I have to wait for it to be fixed.I think that  I have come a long way and have learned to be more dependent on others.

Related to giving up control, with so many needs and poverty here its easy to get overwhelmed and want to fix everything. I think I have learned that it is not my place or responsibility to do that. I can do my small part, but in the grand scheme of things, only God has the power through his people to really change things.

Thanks for the questions! Keep them coming!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Question #2 - Can I see pictures of where you live?

Anonymous asked me to post some pictures of where we live and of daily life.

Here is the front of the house we live in. We live in an apartment in the walk out basement.
Our kitchen/living area

my office - i know you are jealous!
 For some pictures of daily life, check out this post.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Question #1 - What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

My Auntie Roxanna has the first question - "What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?".

We always have coffee, usually just a small cup each. My coffee consumption has dramatically decreased since moving here! Most Haitians only drink coffee in the morning, not throughout the day like North Americans do. Cal was just telling me this morning that he has just learned to "like" coffee since we've been married.
We eat eggs several times a week - boiled, scrambled or fried. It's a good extra source of protein for us. We occasionally have oatmeal or cornflakes. Cal often fries some salami. Sometimes we just have bread and avocado if we have it.
And we usually eat some fruit - bananas usually or mangos when they are in season.

During the week, Marlene (our cook) makes us lunch. It's our biggest meal of the day and she normally makes something Haitian for us. We will have rice, bean sauce, beef in creole sauce, rice and beans cooked together, fried chicken, fried plantain, beet salad, beef and corn gratin, Haitian spaghetti, macaroni casserole, Haitian stew, etc. She usually makes us fresh fruit juice as well.
It's always good and basically fills us up for the day.

I've gotten really lazy with suppers. When we were first married, I tried to make supper everyday - soup, pasta, leftovers, etc. But, I soon realized that we really didn't need to eat that much. Now that we have the dinner portions under control (if we have extras, we usually invite someone to eat with us or give it away), we don't feel obligated to eat up the leftovers. If I have lettuce, I will sometimes make a salad. Usually, Cal ends up eating something at his parents' house (they still leave food set aside for him) and I'll snack on some fried goodness that we buy down the road!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


With our time coming to a close here, you've probably noticed that I've been blogging more than before. There are a few reasons - our internet connection has been way more reliable lately (I can even upload photos), I'm not busy with groups and I partly just want to write down things so i will remember them - I gave up writing in my journal after about 4 months here!

That being said, since I haven't always been consistent, I haven't written about all aspects of life in Haiti. Many things that are everyday to me now, might be interesting to you. So, do you have any questions for me about life in Haiti? If so, leave a comment and ask me? I'll do my best to answer you!

Riding through the storm

Cal's dad got some new medication prescribed yesterday. In case you are wondering what he has, we are not sure. We know that he is anemic right now which is causing headaches, sore feet and overall weakness. He's been a bit better the past couple of days, but not back to his old self.

Anyways, I thought that we had agreed that Cal would go to Limbe to get the medication yesterday after lunch, since we didn't have it in the pharmacy in the clinic. However, when I called Cal at 3:30, he still hadn't gone so I asked him to come pick me up and we could go together.

It had been super hot and sunny yesterday. I took a quick shower when I got home and was contemplating taking the laundry off the line before we left. But it was just 4 pm, and we still had at least 3 hours of daylight left, so I left it on the line.

Cal showed up, I hopped on the bike and we were off. We got to the national road intersection and I looked to the right and noticed some very dark, menacing clouds - as if they appeared out of no where. We were going to have to make a very quick trip if we wanted to beat the storm.

Limbe is just a few miles down the road from us, takes us about 10 minutes to get there on the moto. We arrived as the wind was beginning to pick up. We turned down the street with the pharmacy and pulled up in front. Just as we got inside, the wind REALLY picked up and some rain started to fall. Cal was in discussions with the pharmacist as to whether they actually had what we needed. Apparently they didn't have the suspension prescribed, so we called the doctor to see if we could get pills instead. Yep, that was okay.

All the while I'm looking outside, seeing branches and debris flying by. People running down the street home. The sandwich board in front of the pharmacy toppled with a big bang. Calls of "siklon" or hurricane could be heard.

As Cal was finishing to pay up, I asked what our plan was - do we wait it out in Limbe or make a dash for home? He has a cousin in Limbe that we could visit, but once we got on the bike and started going, he decided we should just try to go home. I let him make the decision as he knows best and knows that Limbe is infamous for flooding quickly when a storm comes.

So off we went. It was raining, not a lot, but what was falling was very cold and hit your body hard because of the force of the wind - I thought hail was hitting me!

We weaved in and out of debris and got on the national road to home. I basically held on as tightly as I could and closed my eyes! The worst parts were in the open areas where the wind could really push you around. Cal kept asking if I was scared. I said yes and he just laughed and said everything would be fine.

By the time we were half way home, things started to lighten up. Apparently the storm had passed through Haut Limbe first. When we arrived, the streets were bare and there were branches everywhere. We arrived at Cal's family's house and delivered the medication and then Cal went to check on our laundry. Thankfully, there is always someone in our yard, so they had taking down our laundry before it was blown all over town.

The temperature dropped quite a bit in the evening - unfortunately it wasn't enough to cool down the concrete walls, so it was still a pretty warm sleep when the power went off. But oh well! We made it home safe and that is all I was concerned with!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Being sick in Haiti

Being sick is not fun. Being sick in Haiti is especially not fun.

I've had my share of sickness while in Haiti - common colds, dehydration, GI issues, malaria, etc. I'm thankful that I've escaped (knock on wood) dengue fever.

Thankfully when I've been sick, I always have 1, 2 or 3 doctors at my disposal for a house call. It's so nice not to have to get up and go sit at a clinic for hours when you feel horrible. I know, I'm spoiled - that's not the reality for Haitians here.

I'm also spoiled in that if I'm really sick, I can ask for electricity so that I have a working fan and power for my computer so that I can watch movies to pass the time when I've been confined to bed and the bathroom for several days in a row.

What I love (?) about being sick in Haiti is that you always have people to take care of you. When I lived in Canada, I had my own apartment so I was on my own if I needed something. Not here.

Part of Haitian culture is that you visit people who are sick. Most people don't go to the hospital, but stay at home and once word gets around that you are sick, people start coming by. You always have to make sure you have a chair or two available to receive guests.

The first time I got really sick, it was with malaria. I felt like crap! But, visitors came so I had to receive them, no matter how I felt or looked! Guests don't stay for long, and often not much is said. They just sit with you awhile. It annoyed me at first, but now it is something I really appreciate. The last time I was sick, Cal's dad stopped by no less than 5 times a day to check on me and make sure I was eating! People go out of their way to make sure you know that they care about you - that doesn't happen as much in North American culture, unless you are seriously ill in the hospital.

Cal's dad has been sick for the past week and a bit. We think he is getting better now. He was confined to home, which is a huge deal as he is a farmer and walks out to his garden about 30 minutes away at least once a day to check on the cows and tend the land. We've been spending a lot of time helping to take care of him and pick up some of the tasks he usually does, which includes market shopping! Cal and I have made to market trips for ourselves and his family this week. I always appreciated what his dad did for us before, but know I do all the more! Besides going to the market twice a week, he is always stopping by with fresh bananas, mangoes, plantains, pineapples, etc. Little things, but so appreciated. The other day he asked if we were eating okay, he wanted to make sure we weren't suffering since he was sick. I assured him that we were eating just fine!

We are praying that he gets back to good health soon, not just so he'll go to market for us, but so that we can enjoy our last few weeks with him before we go.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What I'm going miss. What I'm looking forward to.

As we've been preparing to leave Haiti, my mind is constantly thinking about things that I will miss here and what I'm looking forward to about living in Canada. Here are some of my thoughts.

I'm going to miss:
  • sunshine and heat
  • swimming in the warm ocean
  • eating fried fish and plantain at the beach
  • fresh fruit juice - orange, grapefruit, lime, papaya, passion fruit, cherry, mango, pineapple, etc.
  • eating fresh mangoes, avocados, bananas, etc.
  • greeting people with a kiss on the cheek
  • saying "amen" aloud during a church service
  • walking literally across the road to church
  • riding on a motorcycle
  • eating marinad and pikliz on the side of the road
  • the view from the top of the mountain behind our house
  • getting a pedicure for $5 or less
  • Haitian coffee
  • holding hands while walking/talking
  • showing other Canadians life in Haiti
  • always having people around
  • having someone to do my laundry and cook for me during the week
  • cheap cell phone minutes!
  • listening and dancing to kompa
  • drinking Coke out of a glass bottle
  • being a few hours drive from the Dominican Republic
  • relaxed pace of life with the emphasis on relationships
  • sleeping with just a sheet to cover
  • hearing the roar of cheers when the electricity comes on or when Brazil scores
  • warm rain
  • seeing 4 plus people riding on one motorcycles
  • walking everywhere
  • sitting on a porch and visiting

I'm looking forward to:
  • driving my car on smooth roads
  • being about to go to a restaurant or movie
  • 24 hour electricity
  • 24 hour running water
  • drinking water from the tap
  • not tasting or smelling chlorine
  • having a desk with a comfortable chair to work at
  • comfortable chairs in general!
  • strawberries, apples, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, apricots, etc
  • eat fresh raw vegetables!
  • cooking and being able to buy meat easily 
  • a fridge that is always cold
  • reliable, fast internet
  • sleeping with a blanket
  • understanding an entire church service
  • watching the news
  • hot showers
  • knowing cultural norms and expectations
  • being able to use a debit card and not always carrying cash
  • grocery stores with more selection than a small convenience store
  • ice in drinks!
  • the occasional latte or cappuccino
  • affordable cheese
  • walking on roads/sidewalks without constantly looking where I take a step
  • clean toilets with running water and toilet paper
  • clothes that aren't stretched from hand washing and bleached from hanging in the sun.
  • shopping for new clothes!
  • "running errands" and being able to accomplish what I set out to do
  • not hearing roosters, dogs or music at all hours of the night
  • always finding gas at the gas station
  • Christmas with snow and a Christmas tree
  • Thai and Indian food
And lastly, it is our family and friends that we will miss most from Haiti and at the same time we are most looking forward to being near our family and friends in Canada!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The big news!

I left you hanging in June when I said that I would let you know our future plans after Cal got his visa. Well, Cal got his Temporary Residence Visa for Canada (valid until his passport expires in 3 years) and so... we are moving to Canada! Some of you have known this for awhile, but this is the first time I've mentioned it on the blog.

Our plan is leave Haiti the first week of August, go over to the DR for a few days and fly out of Puerto Plata on August 10 to Saskatoon.

This may seem sudden to some of you, but it's been a plan in the making for quite awhile. After Cal and I got married, we decided that we would continue to live in Haiti for the next year or two and would evaluate along the way how long we would stay. Back around the New Year, we began talking and praying about moving to Canada by the end of 2012. After the busy group season, we got to work on Cal's visa paperwork and praise the Lord he was granted the visa at the end of June.

Leaving in August makes the best sense to us as we do not have any groups confirmed for the near future, we can try to transition to the Canadian climate while it's still summer, I found a reasonable flight on WestJet and we get to miss some of the REALLY HOT SUMMER in Haiti.

As you can imagine, it is with mixed emotions that we are leaving. I often describe it to people as bittersweet. We are excited for what the future holds - being closer to my family and friends, getting Cal's permanent residence, settling down and working and hopefully starting our family someday. At the same time, we will deeply miss our family and friends here, our work with the clinic, Haitian food and culture and when it is January in Winnipeg - the heat!

Our hope is to settle down in Winnipeg eventually. I'm currently seeking employment there and will work on that more when we are back in country. Once we get settled, we'll start the LONG process of applying for Cal's Permanent Residence. Please pray that this will be a smooth process.

What are we doing before we leave? Spending time with family and friends, helping to plan a retreat for the clinic at the end of July and hopefully getting in a couple more beach days!

Please pray for us as we begin this time of transition!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

In the meantime...

It's been a busy week, that's why I haven't posted anything.

What's been happening? Well, on Saturday we had a team of 8 from the States arrive to help at the clinic. The group was mainly medical professionals or students and they provided different service. They ran a vision clinic to test distance and reading and provided prescription glasses and they had lab specialists that did free mass screening tests for over 100 patients in the community! This ministry has been coming to the clinic for several years and we are thankful for how they have helped the lab staff and provided other services.

Also, Cal went to Port au Prince to hand in his visa application to the Canadian Embassy. Please join us in prayer that this would all go smoothly. He will return next week for his appointment on Wednesday to learn the results!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Depot

I found some pictures taken of the depot over the past couple of years. Thought I would post them so that you can see HOW MUCH work has been done!

Work at the clinic

Since I can post photos now, I thought I'd show an update of the work that has been done at the clinic in the past few months.

New, updated sign at entrance. Eben-ezer Health Centre of Haut Limbe

New sidewalk and freshly painted exterior of day clinic.

Bridge over to the wound care room.

Wound care room. No more stinking up the clinic!

View of the cholera centre.

My absolute favourite - the depot!!!

View of the yard from the cholera centre.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Often times in the afternoon Cal and I make a trip to Limbe on the moto just to "get out of Haut Limbe" and go to the "big city"! Cal had gotten some work done on the moto, so we went to pick it up. I thought I'd take my camera along for the ride as well.

Driving to Limbe

Limbe River

Limbe River

Cal on the bridge

Other side of the bridge

They have been working on paving the market in Limbe! So exciting! It used to be a basically a big mud pit and hence why I rarely went shopping there. This will make things so much cleaner.

Yes, they do have a cement mixer in Haiti!

First Baptist Church of Limbe, at one end of the market.

Here is Fonkoze where we have our main bank account. Not only are they a bank, but they also provide microcredit to thousands of Haitian women. I like them a lot! Going there is a much more pleasant experience then waiting in the 2 hour plus lines at any other commercial bank in Haiti. Here, all the cashiers know us and get mad at Cal when he doesn't bring me with him! And who doesn't love a purple and orange building?

After picking up the bike, we decided to stop for a snack and a drink. Here's Cal enjoying his chicken.

You may be wondering why I'm all of the sudden posting more pictures? Well, our internet connection has greatly improved so it no longer takes 30 minutes to upload one photo! Whoo hoo! I'll try to keep posting pictures as long as the connection allows.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My guilty pleasure

When I lived in Canada, I was a big snacker. I was always grazing between meals. I could not make it from breakfast until lunch without a little something - crackers, granola bar, etc. And then after supper, I always had something before bed - cereal, popcorn, carrots, etc. I tried to not keep "junk food" at home like chips and such, but I ate a lot of small meals during the day.
Since moving to Haiti, I've broken the habit of snacking - it's just not really done here. Usually the meals are enough to fill me up and often times Cal and I don't really eat supper because we had a huge lunch (which is the main meal of our day) and we don't really have an appetite.

But, there is a snack food in Haiti that we do not have in Canada. It's called fritaj, literally - fried things! Often in the evening, Cal and I go down the road to Cece's and buy a little snack. Below you can see my favorites, marinad and banan peze (deep fried dough and twice fried plantains). Together with some pikliz (spicy coleslaw), this is the absolute best snack at a cheap price - 1 goud (about 3cents US) per piece of marinad! It's so not good for you, but I really don't care!

You can get other fried things as well - chicken, hot dogs, akra, sweet potato and if you are brave like Cal, chicken livers!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Road Trip

A few weeks ago, May 18 to be exact (Haitian Flag Day), Cal and I decided to take advantage of the holiday and take a road trip. We had seen on Facebook a picture of a waterfall that is apparently just a couple towns over, maybe a 20 minute drive. So we decided to search for it. By about 9:30 we were on the road on our moto ready for adventure.

We stopped in Limbe for gas and asked for directions to the waterfall, nobody could give us an answer. So we continued on to Camp Koq, the town where the waterfall is supposed to be. We arrived just before the local Flag Day parade started - complete with marching band, so got to watch it go by. After, we still couldn't find anyone who knew the location of the waterfall, so we had a decision to make.

Since it was still fairly early in the day and we had no where else to be, we decided to drive on to Plaisance, which is over the first mountain pass on the way to Gonaives and 22 kms from Limbe according to Google Maps. I had my camera with to take pictures of the waterfall if we every found it, so decided to get some shots of our journey since I really have very few pictures of anything here! The word Haiti (Ayiti in Creole) means mountainous, and from these photos, you can see why!

Limbe River

Catholic Church in Plaisance. Stopped here to buy some peanuts for a snack and then found a mechanic to fix our broken clutch.

Going back down the mountain.

People are often surprised how green and lush it is here when they visit. It isn't this lush all over the country, we are truly blessed to live in such a beautiful corner of it!

It's June???

Seriously, how did that happen? In December when I was looking at the calendar and all that would happen between then and now, June seemed like forever away, but here it is!

One week ago we put the last group on the plane for Miami. It was a successful and HOT week, reminding me again of why we don't host groups in the summer months. In spite of the heat, the group was able to help lay the concrete for a snazzy sidewalk from the entrance of the yard up to the clinic and fill SIXTEEN rubbermaid tubs of sorted needles and syringes in the depot! Woohoo! I will be forever grateful! After 2.5 years, the depot may finally be organized and useable!

So what am I doing now? Well, first we have been working on Cal's visa paperwork for Canada. He has an appointment at the Canadian Embassy for next Wednesday so that he can drop off his application. He gets to travel all the way there just to drop it off. And, if it is the same process as last time, we get to wait a week until he goes back to see the if he is accepted or denied. Please be praying for safe travel and for my nerves while he is away! Once he has his visa, we will be able to work on our future plans - to be announced at a later time. :)

Also, the clinic together with the local pastors are planning a spiritual retreat for sometime in July. I'm on the planning committee helping make some of those arrangements.

And before too long, we'll start looking at the schedule for groups for the coming year!

Other than that, I'm trying to stay cool - very challenging in 30 plus degree weather, with high humidity and limited electricity. But I'm surviving.

Oh, and the Europe 2012 Championship is on right now meaning that Cal has "important games" to watch everyday from now until the beginning of July. Yay for soccer!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The question of orphans

A question that comes up nearly every time I host a group is "How many orphans/orphanages are there in Haiti?" and "what are the orphanages like?".

I always have to pause before I attempt to answer the question, because it is a very complex issue and one that I do not have enough first hand knowledge or experience to make an intelligent response.

What I do know is that the number of true orphans (children with no living parent) is very low in Haiti as compared to the number of children living in institutions or with other families.

Below are a couple of links to blogs written by the Livesay family in Port au Prince, Haiti who can more eloquently discuss some of the complicated issues.


A boat that needs rocking

Linking you

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In the last month, part 2

  • 1 week spent in bed recovering from GI issues
  • 1 anniversary dinner and night in Cap Haitian
  • 1 trip to the Dominican Republic
  • 3 trips to the dentist for Cal in Santiago - 1 tooth extraction, 1 root canal and 2 fillings
  • 3 different medications taken by Janelle to resolve GI issues.
  • 2 trips to the doctor for Janelle in Santiago, plus lab tests.
  • 1 diagnosis of lactose intolerance for Janelle (so happy to know!)
  • 1 flat tire on the way home from Santiago
  • 2 successful border crossings
  • 5 folks from Faith Covenant Church hosted for a week in Haut Limbe!
And coming up...
  • host 8 folks from Surrey at the end of May
  • Cal applies for a Temporary Resident Visa for Canada
  • make plans for summer trip to Canada
  • try not to melt from rising temperatures and humidity!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

In the last month...

  • hosted 24 guests
  • 2 trips to the beach
  • 2 trips to the Citadelle (I hiked it once)
  • 6 trips to the airport in Cap
  • organized work project for 3 groups
  • spent 6 days at home recuperating and fighting off some little bug that made me get way too familiar with my bathroom.
In the next month...
  • go to Cap for a night to celebrate one-year wedding anniversary with Cal - dinner, dancing, hotel - oh my!
  • go to the DR for a week to relax, regroup, stamp passport, get Cal's dental work done, hang out with good friends.
  • host group from home church in Winnipeg!
  • get Cal's paperwork done for Canadian visa
  • host first time visitors from church in BC!  
This past month has been busy and the next one is going to be as well. Please pray for health, strength, wisdom, patience and joy!

Friday, March 30, 2012

This may ruffle some feathers!

I just finished reading "Toxic Charity" by Robert Lupton this week. Has me thinking even more than I normally do about the impact NGO's, churches, foreigners, foreign governments, mission trippers, etc on the majority world. Here some quotes to chew on.

In the United States, there's a growing scandal that we both refuse to see and actively perpetuate. What Americans avoid facing is that while we are very generous in charitable giving, much of that money is either wasted or actually harms the people it is targeted to help. (pg 1) (I would lump Canada and Canadians into this statement as well)

...But what is so surprising is that its outcomes are almost entirely unexamined. The food we ship to Haiti, the well we dig in Sudan, the clothes we distribute in inner-city Detroit-all seem like such worthy efforts. Yet those closest to the ground-on the receiving end of this outpouring of generosity-quietly admit that it may be hurting more than helping. How? Dependency. Destroying personal initiative. When we do for those in need what they have the capacity to do for themselves, we disempower them. (pg 3)
Thoughts, comments?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Group of 8 from Saskatchewan arrive tomorrow am and are here until Monday. Please pray for safe travels, good health and meaningful experiences.

Please pray for health, strength, patience, wisdom and energy for me and Cal while we host them.

This is the beginning of the crazy season - after they leave, another group of 8 arrive a week later and 4 days after that another group of 8 arrive! Then we have a little break until the 2nd week of May when a group comes and then finally a group the last week of May!

Thank you for praying!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Just throwing it out there...

I've been going back and forth in my head as to whether I should write this blog. Why? Because it's an uncomfortable subject for me. It puts me in a vulnerable position. In my head, it opens me up to criticism and judgement and that is scary. All to often I do not put my faith and trust in God to meet our needs and that creates fear and is destructive. What subject can do this? Money!

One of my greatest personal challenges about serving in Haiti has been fundraising for my personal needs.  I hate asking for money for myself. I'll gladly ask for money to support others or organizations I know that are doing good work (I used to work in the fundraising department of a non-profit). But asking for myself - so hard, and so humbling!

Cal and I live on what I consider a modest budget here in Haiti for a missionary, about $900/month. I don't put that number out there to be comparative or prideful, just as a reality. We have chosen to live a simple life here and because of our circumstances (location and surroundings) we are able to do that. That amount is enough for all our expenses with the exception of my health insurance, travel to/from Canada and ministry tools (i.e. repairs to computer, books, etc).

We have been blessed with some committed individual and church supporters and we are so thankful for them. However, we still do not raise the amount needed monthly to cover our needs. That being said, the ECCC (my sending organization) always forwards our monthly support, even if the money has not been raised, trusting that the money will come in.

So why am I writing this? Would you consider helping filling in the gap by giving a one-time gift or even better by becoming a monthly giver? It doesn't take much and every gift helps.

For example:
$20/month pays for cellphone minutes.
$25/month will buy propane for our stove.
$30/month can help pay for our motorcycle repairs.
$40/month pays for our internet costs

If you feel led to help, you can look over at the right of this page under "Support me financially" or at the top under "Support" to learn how to make a tax-deductible gift via cheque or online.

Thanks for reading and thanks for the support you give - financial and otherwise.

Bondye beni nou!
God bless you!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The times are a changin'

Daylight savings time, that is.

New president, new time! Under Preval, Haiti did not observe daylight savings, just like the Dominican Republic. But now, Martelly decided that we will. The public awareness campaign apparently wasn't very strong as I only learned about the time change on Sunday night - whoops! Church still started at it's regular time too.

Being a Saskatchewan girl, I'm quite fond of the non-observance of daylight savings. It just makes sense to me. Why torture yourself with getting up an hour earlier, especially when you are so close to the equator that it doesn't really make a difference!

But anyways, the time has changed. There is nothing we can do about it, at least until there is another election and the president decides to change it again! Now I just have to drag myself out of bed every morning...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Sunday morning, I woke up way too early. My tummy was rumbling in a way that insisted I spend more time than usually necessary in the bathroom. This started at 4 or 5 am and I was not able to go back to sleep. I decided that it probably wasn't a good idea to go sit in a hot church for 2 or 3 hours later that morning, so elected to stay home. Cal and I made some breakfast - hoping it would all stay in me, and then Cal got ready for church while I rested and watched tv shows on my laptop.

By the time he came home, close to noon, I hadn't made any more trips to the bathroom and thought it might be nice to go outside at least once during the day. Before lunch, we decided to go for a moto ride to his father's garden in Acul Jeannot to see the baby calf our (by our I mean the family's) cow gave birth to last week. This is a big deal. In Haiti, a cow is called a "Kane Bank" or bank account. You can gain more "interest" by raising a cow and it's even better when you get a calf! A big asset for most Haitians.

Acul Jeannot is a section of Haut Limbe which is probably a 30 or 40 minute walk from our house. Every morning, Cal's dad walks to his garden to work and to check on the cow. By moto, the trip is 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the amount of rain we have had.

The house Cal's dad grew up in.
Before we went to the garden, we drove a bit further so that Cal could show me the house where his dad grew up. His grandparents are no longer living, but the house is still there unoccupied. Along the way, we passed many people making the 40 minute walk home from church in the midday sun. I'm so thankful we have a moto!

it's a boy!
After looking at the house, we backtracked to the garden, and saw the cow and calf! He was pretty cute.

We started on our way back home and along the way we met 2 young boys walking with machetes. I immediately saw blood dripping from one of the boys knees that was wrapped with a dirty cloth bandage. The boys had been in their garden cutting wood for charcoal and were walking home. The boy had cut his knee with the machete. Cal asked if they would be going to the hospital and the boy replied that his mom did not have the money. We decided to drive him with us to the clinic and sent someone else to get his mom.

We called one of the nurses to meet us at the clinic and they were able to stitch up the boy and clean the wound. I can't imagine what kind of infection he would have gotten had we had not passed by him. As Cal says, "God sent us there today". I kinda have to agree.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pause and a rest

Sorry for my absence! it's been busy around here. On Wednesday we finished hosting a group from the Breton church for 10 days and I'm working on catching up on all the stuff I neglected while they were here!

It was a good group and we did a lot (even if they may not think that!). The biggest accomplishment was doing a huge chunk of sorting, organizing and pitching a bunch of medical supplies in the depot! Thanks to the rubbermaid bins they brought, we now have the majority of the supplies safely stored in containers that prevent any rat or mouse from entering!! The cockroaches may still squeeze their way in, but oh well! This is a huge burden lifted and we even have a written inventory of all the supplies we have now! Thanks everyone for your help!

After dropping of the group, I've taken it pretty easy for a few days, catching up on sleep and taking some time to relax. Yesterday we took of to the beach by motorcycle with our friends the Hamiltons. 4 on one moto, 3 on the other! We were quite the attraction on the trip. It's normal to see 3 + Haitians on a motorcycle here - not so normal to 3 + Canadians. We enjoyed the beautiful ocean, ate some great fish with plantain and all got nice and rosy from the sun!

In just over 2 weeks, the next group arrives, with 4 more coming after that before the first week of June! Please pray for good health for Cal and I. We both were fighting colds when the last group was here which takes a lot of energy out of us. We want to be able to give our best when we are hosting!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

That kinda day

Today is a good day. Yesterday was not.

Yesterday just didn't have a hope. You know it's not going to be good when it starts raining the night before, continues all night and all day. If it was just the rain, I probably would have been ok. I decided to stay home and work instead of slopping through mud and tiny rivers to get to the university. That was going well, until we learned that we had no running water. Turns out, some hooligans in the community decided to break a bunch of the water pipes for the community water system. There are deeper issues at play with this, but in the mean time, the majority of the community does not have access to running water. Turns out the ridiculous amount of rain was a good thing as we were able to fill every bucket, basin and bowl we own with rain water to get us through the next couple of days.

I kept working at home, but eventually the batteries died and we were left without power. There has been a shortage of gas and diesel for the past week so we only had enough to run the generator for a little bit in the evening. Suddenly being. home, sitting in the dark without power or running water didn't sound so appealing. I decided to get out and take refuge over at some Canadian friends' house at the university. A cup of tea, a funny movie and friends can do wonders. By supper time, I was ready to come home.

Today I woke up to sunshine, EDH (electricity) and the news that gas and diesel were available again! Funny what these simple things can do to change your attitude. I got up, ate, showered (which approximately 10 cupfuls of water) and went to work! I feel great! Nice that it lines up with Valentines Day.

Life in Haiti has a lot of bad days and a lot of good days. Somehow the bad days have much more power over my attitude. It's easy to fall into a trap of frustration, anger, self-pity and sadness. When those days come too close together, it's not good and its easy to lose perspective of the big picture. If you focus too much on details in Haiti - you will go crazy!

So today, I'm choosing to be joyful and celebrate Valentines Day with those I love. Cal and I will go "out" to dinner at the little resto down the street for your choice of spaghetti with chicken or hotdogs (I know you are jealous) and after if its not raining, to a party where Cal's brothers are playing.

Yep, today is a good day.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

We're Back!

Back in Haiti! This past Saturday we returned from the DR after a lovely holiday in which we spent a couple of days in Santiago with good friend Tammi and then a week in Puerto Plata at a resort with my parents. It was great to see my parents and enjoy a week relaxing and eating way too much! We had a number of cloudy/rainy days, but the last few days were glorious. While my parents and I enjoyed the sun, Cal got his fill of soccer on the 5 or 6 dedicated soccer channels on tv - his heaven!

I always look forward to getting away from Haiti for awhile - to enjoy some of the conveniences of life that I used to take for granted - electricity, hot water, cheese, smooth roads, reliable transportation, reliable internet, ice cream (the list could go on). But I also find by the end of my breaks, I'm ready to come back to Haut Limbe - to speak Creole, to see my family and friends here, to climb the mountain behind our house (much needed now so I can fit back into my pants!) and enjoy the slow paced life again. I know that in no time the cultural frustrations will come back again, but after a little break, I'm ready to face them again. I've come back with more energy (even though Cal and I both didn't sleep well in the DR) and a drive to get back to work and ready for the groups that are coming.

I also got my computer back! It had crashed in December, so I sent it back to Canada to get it repaired. Turns out I needed a new hard drive and nothing could be recovered - boo! But, it's repaired now and I also was smart enough to get an external hard drive as well for back up!

Cal's mom just had cataract surgery yesterday in Cap Haitian. Everything went well, and she'll be going for a check up today again. Please pray that the surgery helps with her vision which has been deteriorating a lot in the past year, keeping her from her favourite pass time - sewing! She had a cataract removed from her other eye a year ago, but the recovery was very slow.

I'll try to be more regular at posting again now with my computer back!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Are you a Christian at 4 am

I don't think I am.

One of the "charming" things about life in Haiti is that there are no rules/laws about noise or noise pollution. If there are, they are certainly not enforced. So this means that at any given time (when we have electricity) people can blare their music from their massive speakers in front of their house, even if its the middle of the night. Or someone can drive through town advertising something or playing music blaring from their car. Or someone dog(s) can bark incessantly in the middle of the night for what seems like hours. Someone can have a house party, starting at 11 pm ending at 4 am (remember houses don't have glass windows). All of this can happen and no one can or will say a word.

This week, there has been some noise in my life - at 4 am. It seems there is a kind hearted gentleman in the community who sees it as his duty to sing hymns into a megaphone throughout the town at 4 am to call everyone to prayer. I guess he's been doing this for a long time, but i just started hearing him this week. And of course, no one will say anything about him disrupting people's sleep, because if you do, you must not be a Christian as you are not getting up to go an pray at church. A few choice words run through my head at this time, I'm definitely not a Christian then.

You see, every Monday to Friday morning, at about 4, around 60 people gather at the church to sing and pray. Talk about devotion. My mother-in-law is one of them. Most days, she gets up, before dawn, with now alarm clock or electricity and goes to church before she starts her day. We were discussing this the other day and she told me, "I must go to church in the morning to give thanks because God has done so much for us."

Huh? That made me feel like the most ungrateful person ever! By North American standards, she has led and still leads a hard life, but yet she feels driven to get up each morning to give thanks before she starts her day.

Yeah, I don't think I'm a Christian 24 hours a day yet - I have a long way to go.

Lord help me to be thankful in all circumstances and give you the glory for all.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Two years plus two days

I was intending to write something on Thursday, but I just couldn't seem to get my thoughts together to write. It's really hard to know what to say. Two years have passed since 300,000 people died in one night in a country of 9 million. Two years have passed since 2/3 of a city was destroyed. Two years have passed since 1 million set up "temporary" shelters to sleep - they are still there.

I am no expert. Especially since I don't live near Port au Prince nor  have I been there in the last year and a half. It's so hard to know what to say when people ask if there is any progress. How do you define progress in a country that was so devastated before a 7.0 earthquake shook it? I don't know.

What I do know, is what I've witnessed here in my little community of Haut Limbe. Since the earthquake, I have seen:

  • 2,000 patients treated (for free) in the weeks following January 12, 2010 at Eben-ezer Clinic. Some were victims of the earthquake, some had migrated back home to the country, some just hadn't been able to afford treatment until that time.
  • The in-patient facility "finished" 2 days before we received our first cholera patient. Since then, we have treated nearly 4,000 cholera patients.
  • Probably over 100 Canadians and Americans have visited to either train and give assistance in the clinic, volunteer and work on construction and organization projects, run an art camp, and build relationships with this community.
  • A new solar panel and inverter system was installed at the clinic decreasing our dependency on the diesel generator and EDH (state power).
  • Nearly 100 elderly people receive a meal every Sunday before church and a food package each month because of a Canadian church's generosity.
Progress and change are slow, but it is happening. In a country as complex as Haiti, we can't expect fast change. 

Here is what I wrote on this day two years ago.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bon Ane! Happy New Year

Oh how the time flies by!!

We are already well into January – hard to believe. Let me give you an update of what has been going on.

We had a nice, quiet Christmas here. On Christmas Eve, Ben and Shauna came over for a “Canadian” Christmas dinner. With help, I was able to prepare and fry the chicken Haitian style. Shauna brought boxed scalloped potatos and Stovetop stuffing from Canada. Added a precious can of sweet corn to the mix, and voila – Christmas dinner! It was very good and I probably overindulged on the potatoes and stuffing!

On Christmas Day, we had Cal's family over for a little celebration. We had bought a goat a few days before, so his mom came over with it and we prepared it and some fried plantain. Cake for dessert and it was a hit!

We were able to get to the beach a couple of times with Ben and Shauna and enjoyed some sun – I kinda forget what the sun looks like. It's been cloudy and rainy since last Wednesday!

Just after Christmas, we discovered that Cal had shingles – boo! Luckily we caught it early on and it started to clear up shortly after he started taking the medications. We are thankful that it looks like he won't have any lasting symptoms.

On December 30, our group from Wetaskiwin arrived, finally! The plane was due to arrive from Miami at 10 am, it didn't end up coming until 4 pm because the plane they were supposed to take had a crack in the windshield, so they had to wait for the Ft. Lauderdale plane to return from Haiti. It was a LONG day at the Cap airport. Cal and I had been dropped off at 9 am, so we didn't have an easy way to get into town to pass the time, plus we were never really sure when the plane was going to arrive, so we just stayed put. Luckily, there is a little restaurant nearby, so we found some food.

The group had a good time here. We started out easy – went to the beach on New Years Eve day. Everyone got to try some fresh coconut water and lobster! New Years Day, church started at 6 am and afterwards we gathered at the University to eat some traditional Independence Day pumpkin soup. Haitians eat pumpkin soup every January 1, to mark their freedom from slavery. While slaves, the French never allowed them to eat the soup as it was seen as too rich or refined for the slaves. So, once they received independence, Haitians have eaten the soup.

The rest of the week was spent at the clinic – doing some amazing cleaning and organizing in the depot (thanks to the large rubbermaids they brought) as well as constructing a little building that will be used to clean and treat stinky abscesses and wounds.

Unfortunately, the rain came on Wednesday, so it put a bit of a damper on activities. But, we were able to have a couple of Creole classes and be treated to a little concert by a couple of mens singing groups.

We got the group off to the airport on Friday am and had a nice relaxing weekend, catching up on sleep and relaxation.

I'll be back to work full force in the next couple of weeks, lining up things for the coming months. Please pray for patience for me as our internet connection has been lousy lately, and I'm working on a computer I'm not familiar with that doesn't allow me to compose and read emails offline. It's really frustrating. I was able to send my old computer back to Canada with the group and am hoping it can be fixed in time for my parents to bring with them when we meet them in Puerto Plata at the end of January.

Blessings on you as you begin 2012!