The Amarillo, Texas team is here and having a blast. We’re made up of David Nance, Ryan Reneau, Molly and Joanna Ritchie, Julie Ratliff, and me, Brooks Boyett. Molly and Julie are the newbies, and they’re adjusting quite nicely. Our blog post is delayed because we fired our team leader, David, from blogging duties. He did a fine job keeping everyone updated on our journeys here the past couple of years, but we decided it was time for a change. Plus, he’s eating pancakes right now. So the duty has fallen on me..
Our day started Thursday morning at the Amarillo airport at 4:45, getting ready for our 6am flight, when the airlines informed us that Haiti was not allowing plastic crates into the country. This posed a problem, as we had 9 crates of supplies for the orphanage loaded up and ready to go. David showed his calm leadership abilities by quietly weeping in the fetal position for a couple of minutes. Not really. He instantly called Molly’s husband Brian, who was in route with his girls, and asking him to stop by the Wal-mart not far from the airport. They ran in, bought 9 suitcases and rushed them to the airport. We unloaded the crates into the suitcases as quickly as possible, got them weighed and checked, rushed through security, and got on the plane with 10 minutes to spare. Brian Ritchie is a hero.
We arrived safely on Thursday afternoon. The best part of arriving is walking out of the airport to the welcoming hug of Karen. Whether its your first time to Haiti or your fourth or fifth, Karen makes you feel like an old friend. We were extremely excited that Seth and Jessie Huber have made their return to finish out their time here helping at HATS. They arrived here with us a year ago to spend a year with the orphanage. Their return to the States at Christmas was extended quite a bit due to Seth’s tonsils not cooperating with him. He seems quite recovered now other than the fact that his handyman skills seem diminished. He built a wooden door frame yesterday that didn’t quite fit the concrete opening intended for it. He blames the concrete workers for the poor measurements, but I’m pretty sure his tonsils contained all his handyman powers. We’ll see in the coming weeks. Regardless, the kids were very excited to have them back.
|Arrived safely. Let’s go to the mission.|
|Leader David is tired maybe or . . .|
After the long journey from the airport made quicker by our van driver speeding through the streets until Luckner, Karen’s right hand man Mr. Everything here in Haiti (more on that later) told him to be careful and slowed down. Luckner was following in Karen’s vehicle with our luggage. I think that’s what he said – he pulled up next to him and yelled at him in Creole. We then slowed down after that. I also think we convinced Ryan that he and his fiancee Keelie should get married in Haiti and honeymoon here. The Obama Beach Hotel looks wonderful. Hopefully Ryan will have time to stop and make reservations for this August on the way back to the airport on Tuesday. We made it in Thursday night, hugged on the kids, then went to bed. It was a long day.
|Molly with Jonathan & Ismyis|
Friday, we started the day of in the best way possible – a devotional with all the kids and staff. If you want to see what the true joy of the Lord looks like, spend some time singing praises to Jesus with kids that know what it’s truly like to be rescued from the pit and loved on by the Jesus who lives in the staff here. There’s not a better thing in the world.
We then went to work, painting and finishing up the remodeling of the kitchen area for the kids. The house mothers are very excited about us finishing it up. So we painted the walls, cabinets, shelves (which we’ll hang Saturday), and Seth made a door frame that didn’t fit. I’m sure it will be great today. We also got started on a portion of the new guard tower. I’m trying to talk Karen into letting us paint it camouflage, but she doesn’t like that idea. It’s all happy, bright pastels around here.
|Carpenter Seth is back|
|Renovations of kitchen in Kay Margo|
|I then got to do a little magic show for the kids and staff, which is always fun, but as a result, every time the kids see me, they ask me to make rocks disappear over and over again. We then went for a walk up and down the canal before dinner. We thought that ended our day. We were wrong.
|Group watching Brooks do his tricks|
|Canal family walk|
After dinner, we were thinking about bedtime, but Karen had plans to run down to see Lukner’s radio station. Lukner is not only principal of the school here, a lawyer, and owner of a little store, he’s also owner of a radio station that opened last August. He broadcasts Christian music and is impacting this region in phenomenal ways. It’s hugely popular, at least with the Christian community. We loaded up and went to see the station. Lukner invited us on the air, and boy did the fun commence. People call in and request music, then Lukner plays it if he has it. If he doesn’t have it, he and the guys at the studio just sing it acappella. He decided to play some English music for us to sing along to. We tried our best, but it was obscure country gospel music they we had never heard before. It was hilarious, because we tried our best. At least Seth, Ryan and I tried our best. The rest of the team allowed us to make fools of ourselves over the airwaves to thousands. We finally got to sing our own acappella version of “Amazing Grace.” It sounded amazing – during the first verse. Seth got us going on the second verse. We started out with gusto. “Twas grace that…” until we realized no one really knew the right words to verse 2. We made some stuff up, then tried to finish off with a quality rendition of verse 4. It was equally terrible. We then sang along to a few worship songs we actually knew, including “I Can Only Imagine.” I then got to talk to a caller who knew English. He wanted to meet up with me this weekend – since I’m American he was hoping I could give him money. I told him sorry, but I was busy.
|Move over Luckner – Brooks is here|
|Team at Radio Creole|
|Mariah singing on the air at Radio Creole|
Hopefully Lukner still has listeners. Really, it was a huge blast. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. And I can’t state enough what kind of an impact the station is having on the community. Lives are being changed.
It was a long, wonderful first full day at HATS. We’re so excited to be here.