So here are some basic point/highlights (be they good or bad) :)
Day 1: Arrival and Craziness aka Culture Shock
The flights went smoothly and we had a 2-hour bus ride form the airport to the base. That was quite a sight. The airport was like a big warehouse with a flight of stairs and some fold up tables with policemen behind them. We went through customs and then hopped on the YWAM bus and went through town. That was quite a sight as well so much devastation and so much craziness. The driver’s main tool on the road is their horn it was going almost non-stop! And just so you know there are like no rules for the road the biggest vehicles has the right of way and you better move or you'll be squashed flat. There were some times I honestly thought that we would hit either someone walking or someone on the motorcycle. The compound is surrounded by a high wall and has 2 gates one in the front and one by the new on base school building in the back. There is one big main building that has the open air cafeteria and the dorms (aka big rooms lined with bunk-beds) 1st meal... yep red beans and rice :) and yes I ate it we also had some Amazing pineapple fresh from the market. We all picked bunks after dinner and set up our mosquito netting and then took showers. They are some crazy showers it is a stall with a curtain and a pipe with a string. You pull the string and out comes water, but if you let the string go *poof* no more water, it was a little tricky at first but I got the hang of it and as you might have guessed with just a string there is no varying temp for water it is all one degree cold, but if feels amazing after the long day working or after sleeping.
Day 2: Seeing the City and Climbing a Mountain
Saturday we took a hike. We drove the edge of the city and climbed up this mountain trail all the way to the top were there were these old ruins of a French fort and overlooked the whole city. That was a HARD hike and it was so hot in the blazing sun. The view was stunning and we sat up there and prayed for the city and for the week we were about to start. The hike down was harder then the hike up (funny how you would think that would be opposite) I slipped and fell about a hundred yards from the top and scraped up/ bruised my knee, arm, and hand I felt like such a klutz. After the hike I went swimming and ate some dinner (well pineapple I was too hot to eat much else) During dinner it started pouring and it was WONDERFUL the rain+ the breeze cooled us down and the rain dropped the temp to about 87 or so.
Day 3: "Take the Shackles of my Feet so I can Dance... I just want to Praise You!"
Then on Sunday we had a very interesting day. After a rough night of sleeping and a cold shower, we visited the local prison with the prison ministry team. Just so you know American’s who break the law in the US have it great but people here are all in one cell practically on top of each other and they don't get to come out like ever (even in the courtyard) There were about 20 cells with 310 people (100 teens and 60 women). You do the math of people per cell ;) (Women had 2 cells). That was a lot to take in and I am still processing that a bit but the people there are so in love with Christ (about 220 have made professions of faith including 2 guards, all through the prison ministry) Since the base kind of has a "day off" on Sunday we played a variety of card games throughout the day. Brendon and Bruce taught Tiffany and I Uker (yeah I have no idea how to spell that but it was fun, Brendon and I won) and then I totally smeared Brendon at poker then we had church here on the base that night and it was great. We sang songs in English and Kreol (we raised our voices along with the sound of falling rain because it rained again that night, in fact it has rained all but one night while we have been here) There was one little Haitian girl who moved to my side during the singing and she grabbed my hand and didn't let go all evening and during the message she crawled up in my lap and fell asleep (she knew that phrase "what is your name" "up" and "give me" most kids know that last one though and they say it a lot.) I felt energized after church and slept better that night because it got quite a bit cooler.
Day 4: The 1st day of Working on the House
I woke up at about 5:15ish about when the sun comes up (side note: I was about to go find and kill the rooster that had been crowing since 4ish, just had to find him and a small part of the group would have fried chicken!!!) Breakfast was at 6:30 so I had plenty of time to get ready. After breakfast we all loaded into the back of 2 pickup trucks and hit the road. We drove to the village (quite a bumpy ride by the way :) and all hopped out near the foundation of the house. Each house building team sets up the foundation for the next house, unloads bricks, and makes the doors and windows too. So as soon as we were out of the truck we all put on out gloves and tackled the pile of cinderblocks near the foundation. We made chains and passed the blocks around stacking them in various piles around the foundation and on what would be the floor of the house. Those things were heavy and awkward and we were all hot, sweaty, and a bit tired once we got them moved around. But one cool thing was that right as we started people of all ages appeared out of nowhere and jumped into line and helped us :) Once that was done we started sifting dirt and mixing it with concrete to make mortar. Well, that requires water so the women of the village were carrying 5-gallon bucket fulls back and fourth from the river and pouring them into a huge garbage can so that it could be held for a while. Well Tiffany and I started to help them, that was funny apparently. It was about a 1/2-mile walk to the river and then you scooped up the water and walked back. Well, a flock of children melted out of the bushes and pointed and laughed at the "blancs" (which is what they shout at us everywhere we go) with the orange or white buckets on their head. That hike back was hard, those women make it look so easy but my neck and back and arms hurt after one time and I did it 4 more times lol each times more and more kids appeared. I cannot imagine doing that everyday multiple times becuase I knew I wouldn't volunteer for that again. That sums up that day and we apparently worked faster then most groups and we had our house walls almost all the way up :)
Day 5: Smerfs made an appearance on the worksite :)
Tuesday aka the 2nd day on the house we started stuccoing and painting all the windows and doors for the next house. We worked on painting and building doors/windows for the next 2 houses :)the blue paint wasn't water based and so it got over everything! My hands were totally blue for a while. Then sun was really hot and I drank a ton of water. I got really hot that day though and felt a little dizzy and sick to my stomach but after lunch and sitting under the one tree for a while I felt better. I poured some water on my head and started to work again. But this just wasn't going to be my day: One guy smacked me in the face while we was talking (he uses it hands as inflections just like you mom), then another guy smacked my in the shoulder with a long board he was carrying (that still hurts today which is Thursday), and then another guy smacked me in the head with a surveying tripod they used on the foundation lines of the next house. So I kind of ached in a few places by the end of the day. Went back to the base by 4:30 and did laundry by hand in some huge plastic tubs (With Tiffany, Bruce and Victor (the guys had to borrow my soap, am I the only one prepared for things? lol) after dinner. Then it rained, well poured really! But it was so, so nice and a relief from the sun.
Day 6: "Let the rain fall down..."
Then on Wednesday we went to the worksite and the walls were up! We started roofing the house and that was so great! It is amazing to see it all come together. I think the YWAM people consider PBJ's the food of missionaries because we have that everyday for lunch and it is a breakfast option too :) so I don't think I will want any of those for awhile once I get home :D It was really hard to be around the kids for awhile, not because I didn't want to be but because the most common phrase uttered was "give me!" and it is hard to say no about some things since they seem to have nothing at all. But it is getting easier it is almost as if they don't care if you say no and really you can give it to them to use and then pull the same thing with them and say "give me!" and they give it back and laugh and start the whole thing over again. I really hate to say I was kind of worried about setting stuff down becuase I thought they would take it but they don't really bother stuff, they ask for it but they don't just take it so that is good. This day thought it was a bit crazy, just about 10 or so minutes after we finished putting the last pieces of tin on the roof it started to rain, just so you know it doesn't just drizzle here once it starts it pours and then lulls. So everyone started scrambling and gathering all the tools and putting them in the nice new house, just so you know the roof doesn't leak :D the truck came to get us and we all got SOAKED on the ride home but heavy that means we didn't have to wash all the dust and dirt off our clothes that night or something like that. :)
Day 7: "The bucket must be made of gold!"
Then today we went out the Ba-la-le where 3 of the guys in our group built a house last year. It was great we got to do some serious off-roading. Tiffany and I sat in the cab with the driver so we were the only ones not covered in mud from the splashing on the road. We got stuck once but not for long the scariest section of road was a stretch of all water where at one point it was so deep the car was sort of like a boat but thankfully we didn't get stuck and Todd got some video that he is going to post on FB soon which is really cool! In the village there was even more poverty then in Timonet (where we are building) and St. Marc (where base it) and it was really sad to see but the kids and the people are so happy there even in the poverty. We had some translators and we lined all the kids up and passed out crayons and pictures and it was so FUN everyone was great and then we kicked around soccer ball with all the kids too. We spent about an hour and a half there and then went back to our house site. We put the 1st coat on the house and the second coat on all the doors and windows and then we went to play with the kids. We went to the well to fill all the water-balloons and borrowed a bucket from one lady. Well buckets are some serious things and a HUGE HUGE fight broke out. Another lady was trying to take the bucket that we were using that belonged to this other lady and there were people screaming and shouting and then some hitting and almost rock throwing. Needless to say I was a little freaked out and we dropped the whole water balloon idea and went back to the house. We gathered the kids later and passed out crayons and pictures like in Ba-la-le but WOW such a big difference in the effect. There was fighting and shoving and crying and it just wasn't fun or nice at all really. We put stuff away fast and didn't get it back out. But it calmed down quickly and we just kind of hung out with the kids. Went swimming to cool off before bed.
Day 8: "Off to the resort for a swim in the Caribbean..."
The day was ssssooooo relaxing! Even though I woke up at an obscene hour of the morning it was really relaxing also. After breakfast we went straight to the beach. A resort really, not quite like ones in America but loads better then outside the walls. Our bus went through the gate and it was a drastic difference. One side was total devastation and the other the breathtaking beauty of the ocean. It was nice to swim and relax on the beach.
Day 9: "Not such a great day..."
I spent half the day napping because I felt kinds sick but thankfully I was better by the late afternoon ( think it was cuz people home were praying) It was brutally hot that day so I think that contributed to my feeling crappy too. But I don't think anyone was feeling the greatest becuase they were all laying around sleeping and sitting. I even found one guy sleeping on the cement floor under a table because the floor was cold :)
Day 10: "The end is in sight..."
Last day is here wow!!! It seemed to go buy so fast 1/2 of me wishes to stay and 1/2 of me wished to get out as fast as possible. We dedicated the house and it was Amazing! The 2 families were so excited and it was wonderful! It was so rewarding and exciting.
Day 11: "Homeward Bound..."
I had been up since 3am because I was so afraid of sleeping in to late it was crazy. Took the 2 hour bus ride to Port-au-Prince airport and hopped on a plane. When we hit American soil I wanted to shout for joy. Tiff and I practically raced through customs and found the first pizza place there. We bought a really over priced piece of pizza and enjoyed every single bite!!! Then we had a 2.5-hour layover and then got on our plane to Chicago. Once I got there I couldn't wait to get my bag and get home. But it was late to I went to my Aunts house. Had more pizza and some ice cream too. It was delicious! Took a shower that required no effort and loved every minute. Then I jumped in a cozy bed and went to sleep in a room with AC. Ah the comforts of home. The next morning I was officially home and it was great.