Emma and Joanne here. Sorry about not getting to the blog yesterday, we were so overwhelmed with the excitement of the trip and it was very late when we stopped to blog….soo here are two days (which feels like a week)
After a stop over in Miami; which lead to a wonderful evening, we hunkered down for a few hours of sleep. Our flight to Port au Prince began with an early rise to catch a 6:30 departure, We were “pumped”. After arriving at the Port au Prince airport Our fiery Redhead (who bribed her way in to arrivals) met us with humor and smiles. Then it was time to collect our luggage and precious cargo.
Needless to say the event did not go smooth as we had anticipated as our Don realized that his camera was not in his pocket. That camera has documented every detail of our journey since we left Deer lake, NL (so we decided he was important enough for us to look for it…leave it to a man). After going to the lost and found without any luck, a few airport employees went to check the plane. After waiting awhile hoping for the best the employees returned unsuccessful. We hope whoever has this camera enjoys viewing our beautiful and handsome faces.
|Is Don trying to remember something|
Then came our journey to customs. Easy you may think…but this is Haiti and we have 16 totes and several suitcases. We approached customs with confidence thinking it would be a breeze (but a breeze is hard to come by in Haiti) For the first time since Karen has been accepting teams at the HATS mission we were stopped at customs. (….its not what you think there were no police dogs involved!!!) Thinking we had been diligent and properly labelled all our luggage by putting lists on the outside, the word Tylenol proved to be a red flag. The security officers proceeded to herd us all into a side room. As we stood speechless and not sure what was going to happen….our fiery redheaded leader (aka Karen) took charge and delivered an Oscar winning performance with her teary display of emotions. “please don’t take my vitamins kind lady” This worked like a charm. Some of the bags were checked and we were cleared.
We gathered everything and headed to the parking lot while attempting to discourage some Haitian men who felt we needed help (which Karen had already made arrangement for). This is how some of the Haitian people attempt to make income. Luckner (Karen’s assistant director) and Daniel (policeman security) assisted by our own Gerry, Don and Todd swiftly loaded the vehicle and we were on our way.
|Van and truck loaded. Ready to head for the mission.|
We left the airport in a van driver by a trustworthy person of Karen and Luckner’s choosing for the two and a half hour drive to Deschapelles. For those of us who were first time visitors this scene played out like a movie. Instead it proved to reflect the daily life of people simply trying to survive. It is an eye opener when you see people in their desperation trying to sell sticks and rocks among other things simply to make a dollar. The speed of Haitian drivers would make one dizzy.
We arrived at the Orphanage and as the gate opened we were greeted with the beautiful smiles and waves of the children. We got off the bus and there was an abundance of hugs and kisses. When we walked through the door of the house there was Roselene and Germaine we were treated to a wonderful meal.
Then came the big tour. Karen showed us all of the compound, children’s homes and school. I was amazed by the library and how well everything is organized and available. It shows the diligence and hard work of Karen’s labor of love. With great enthusiasm came the ” Piece de resistance” A new church. Karen gave us the tour with all of the details of what is yet to come. The church will eventually have doors, windows and a place to serve water to the congregation. Quite a change from using the children school rooms for the past number of years. We were excited to know we would be holding the Mothers Day service there tomorrow.
We then took all the children outside the compound for a walk and short play time.
|First afternoon fun time outside the compound|
|Ti Luc with his Mama Emma|
|Happy Ti Fi with Gerry|
Our evening ended with Emma giving each child a new outfit for the Mothers Day service for which they very proudly modeled. The it was off to our tents on the roof. (thanks guys for caring enough to spray our tents to keep away the creatures )
|Boys in their new pants, shirts and ties|
Bonne Fette.. .Happy Mothers Day
After a much needed, restful sleep it was up and atam again. Today is the big Day that Karen and Luckner have planned for all the mamas and their families in the community. There will be a church service and Karen estimates there will be 250 – 300 people attending . Following the service they will be served a hot meal and cold drink. Preparations took place yesterday with some of the older children from the school helping prepare the food to be served. After a breakfast of fresh fruit and Haitian porridge we all did final preparations for the “Big event”. After getting the children all dressed in their finest we headed off to church. Wow what a service!! Our fine leader |Emma delivered a special message in English translated by Karen. Emma then delivered a beautiful solo “Make a joyful noise”.
|Emma doing a solo after a little pushing from Karen|
The heat was tremendous but was overshadowed by the beautiful children all dressed for their mama’s special day. The church was filled with prayer and praise and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Karen’s estimation of attendees was a little low as Luckner had mentioned on the radio about the service. Last rough count was 450. Wow and double Wow! Luckner had to rush to get more rice and beans as Karen was feeding EVERYONE!! The loaves and fishes were stretched to capacity – there were no baskets of food left over!!!
|Mother’s Day Church Service|
|Luckner helping serve the meals for all the people|
|A meal for those attending the Mother’s Day service|
|People enjoying a meal after our Mother’s Day service|
After the last people left we returned to have our meal then spend the rest of the afternoon playing with the children and the men of our team assisted Karen with clean up of the school yard and removal of chairs and garbage. To have experienced what happened here today gives a deeper respect and admiration for Karen and all that happens here at HATS throughout the year.
Our Mothers Day ended with the children presenting two of the house mothers Yolene and Germaine with a present.
Karen had a Mothers Day photo opt (that the kids had to change back into their dress clothes which we are also chalking up to a new experience.) The children sang a song ( taught to them by Emma on Saturday) especially for their mama and they each said they loved her.
|Karen with most of her family on Mother’s Day|
Talking about mama….she is telling us we are taking too long with this blog so we are signing off and the rest is up to your imagination. See you tomorrow. God bless.
~Emma and Joanne