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!