It’s been a while, which means there is lots to write. This post will probably be a little long. I will do my best to keep it short. =)
Over the Holidays the missionaries here in Haiti got together on Christmas day for a large meal, games, and good fellowship. Tim, Joan, and the family had a good couple weeks for family and getting some things done here on the compound. It sounds like they had a very blessed time bringing in the New Year with a costume party!
On the 2nd of January Brent arrived with 4 Bluffton guys and his brother: Josh Fiechter, Troy Fiechter, Darin Fiechter, Matthew Gerber, and Brian Wagenbach. Josh will be staying for one month as an intern helping Tim and Brent on the compound and going out on teams. Along with them came Steve Hoffman and his daughter Amber. Steve will be staying for two months as an intern and his daughter for one month helping out wherever needed. The guys spent a couple of days preparing for a large group coming in on the 4th of January. This group consisted of 7 girls from Bluffton, the Ron Palitto team of 10 men, Alyssa Knobloch who is living up at the Hospital, Beth Newton, a missionary nurse, and myself. The girls and the guys that had come early formed a separate team from the Ron Palitto team. Now, I will be doing things a little bit differently. My hope is have a couple of the team members write the blog for me. =) I will plan to write a quick summary of the week for some. The goal in this is to get some new perspectives, spice it up a little bit, and hopefully you will hear from us more.
I will first talk about the “Bluffton Team” because I was mainly involved with them. Brent, Bethany, and I led this team. Sean Christenson and his three boys came out with us along with a couple of other missionary girls, Mareike and Joanna who are from Germany. We ended up at the church of Grand Place. Our project there was a little different from places we normally go. Instead of building a whole new roof we took the tin off the old one, fixed up the trusses, and put new tin on. As for the benches, we didn’t build new ones either like we usually do. Instead we fixed up the ones they already had. They had quite a bit of water damage on the legs of them, so we cut that off, put new legs on them, and varnished. Due to the fact that we had two teams out at once, we were a little short on tools and supplies, but it all seemed to go very well. We finished our work here on Saturday. We stayed for church services on Sunday, went visiting after church, and had an exciting evening service. Monday morning bright and early 4 of the guys went and did a small project on a church about 15 minutes from us. They just put a few pieces of tin on and did so in record time! Those who stayed back packed up and we were mostly ready to go when the guys returned. We ate breakfast and headed home. Tuesday and Wednesday we worked at the Azeel Dorcas Nursing Home. Jon and Christie Zeller joined us for this adventure. The men made screens for all the windows and the ladies cleaned and painted some of the ladies rooms. In the pictures below are a before and after shot of one sweet lady’s room. Anna has Alzheimer’s disease and she is locked in her room because of it. She is given one old mattress on the floor that is full of urine and one small hospital gown which she doesn’t wear most the time. She is totally incontinent and eats from a plate on the concrete floor with her hands. We bleached her room 5-6 times, scrubbed food and human excrement off the floor, and could still smell the stench. Bethany did a lot of this work. On the first day, before the sun could dry up the urine in the mattress, Bethany was able to wrap the mattress around a tree to wring some of the urine out. I don’t know how many times we about lost everything in our stomachs through the whole process. To put into words the living condition Anna was in and is still in, is indescribable. By Thursday we were all ready to take a break from the work at Azeel, though everyone said if they had more days they would have liked to have made more of a dent on the work that needs done there. On their last day we did some touring and we all went to the beaches. The guys went to Rainbow Beach and us ladies went to Port Salute which are 45 minuets in either direction. The talks, debriefing, games, singing, and laughs in the evening just topped off the week. We all said our farewells early on Friday morning.
What a blessing and a joy it was to have this group down! They gave us such a boost to start the year off! Now below are few words from a couple of the girls on this Bluffton team.
“My Goodness! I don’t even know where to start. When I came home and started telling my parents all about our trip, I ended up talking (and they asked some questions) for about two hours. I will try to sum up a little bit better than that otherwise you will end up reading a book :)
Well I guess to start was just the shock of Port au Prince. None of us had ever seen it in living color before and I think we were all a bit surprised by the amount of trash. Just the thought of all those people living in those conditions really pulls on my heart.
Church was AMAZING. Defiantly one of the big highlights. I loved seeing their passion for Christ and listening to them singing. Especially that 12 year old boy singing Amazing Grace. Incredible.
I really liked CRP, Cancer Redemption Project (my second high). I loved giving them kisses and hugs and hearing them singing and witnessing their happiness. Their smiles could have busted their faces.
On the downside, Azel was really sad. I mean, we wouldn’t even keep our animals in a place like that. It was just so frustrating that they have to live like that. I am glad that we were able to do something for them, even though it was only just the beginning.
But the one thing that really made the trip was the laughter, talks, games, praise singing, and the closeness our group developed. I can’t even begin to count the times that I could hardly catch my breath because I was laughing so hard.
Oh and one last thing, the beach was a huge highlight. It was so relaxing, just walking along the shoreline talking. And the blue water and seashells.” -Jessica Bertsch
“Haiti. When people hear that word they normally think of a pitiful third world country. A country littered with trash, roamed by starving orphans, and run by a corrupt government. While to some extent this is all true, I felt like on my trip to Haiti I saw a very different side. I experienced a gorgeous Caribbean island filled with regal palm trees, majestic mountains, and hospitable people. While there were tent cities and trash, through it all I saw an undeniable, natural beauty. However the scenery was just one kind of beauty I observed. The Haitian people were filled with a beauty only obtained from God.