What a week it has been! I have been here for two weeks and I have learned and done countless things I have never done before!
The kids had exams all last week and have this week off, so teachers can work on report cards and such. We are all happy to have Keith and Joan back here with us.
We took a trip to St. Marc on Thursday to do two necessary items. Road trips here are always an adventure and you never know what you’re going to see. This trip was, thankfully, uneventful (for the most part) and we returned home safe and sound.
In the afternoon we had some Canadian visitors come to see us. It was a wonderful visit. They belonged to a group ‘Friends of HAS’ (the hospital in the area). A few of them had been to HATS a couple of times before, the last being five years ago, and wanted to see the kids. They brought valuable things for our school students – as they have done each time they came, a picture of the kids from the last time they visited, everyone has grown so much, and two pictures of them with Karen’s brothers they had met in Newfoundland. Karen gave them the grand tour of the expanded school, church, and compound. When it was time to leave, we loaded everyone, and I mean everyone, into the truck and drove them back to the house they were staying at. We had about 23 people piled into our little pickup truck, it was a tight fit but a lot of fun. It was a regular passenger load by Haitian standards!
On Friday Karen, Magalie, Dickieson, and I went up to the hospital close by, to sort out a prescription for one of the kids. The first time I had gone to that hospital was my first trip here in 2015 and it absolutely broke my heart. Not much has changed. There are newly painted walls and new flooring down, in some areas. Some men were doing construction work while we were there. But there are still patients lined up on stretchers in the hallway, people crowded on all the benches just waiting to see a doctor. The sight of some of the patients in there is enough to break anyone’s heart. There is no privacy, the only bathroom some of them have to use is a white metal bucket under their beds. There are no privacy screens, so you do what you have to do and no seems to think anything of it. Small sickly babies screaming as their mothers try to console them. People crowded in a room just to get their medical files sorted out. There is just not enough room and certainly not enough doctors or nurses to make the situation better. It certainly makes a person thankful for what we have back in Canada. We may complain about our healthcare system, but we are so blessed and don’t even realize it. We take so much for granted, myself included. Visits to the hospital are just a reminder of how much God has blessed us with back home.
We enjoyed a long walk as the sun rose on Saturday morning, it is always breathtaking, and the beauty of Haiti amazes me all the time. The compound is between two mountains and I love watching the sun rise and set over them. We actually enjoyed a quiet relaxing morning, after a walk of one and half hours. With tired legs Karen and I each had a book in hand and a cup of chai tea for her and coffee for me. It was lovely, while it lasted. In the afternoon the kids watched a movie while Karen and I went around to check on a few things around the compound and over at the school and church where clean-up was being done. We try to squeeze in office work wherever and whenever we can. There are always lots of little things to be done and it’s always a never-ending list.
Keith built a wider ramp for Ti Fi’s wheelchair, so on Sunday we wheeled her in the back of the truck and brought her over to the church for the service. She was smiling and waving, you could tell she was proud. (Karen wants to teach her the royal wave.) It was a lot easier on her than trying to drag her legs up the stairs and sit on the bench. We all walked over to the church with arms full of drums, tambourines, water jugs, Bibles, cups, and an assortment of other things. The music was loud, and upbeat, and wonderful.
I love services at HATS in Haiti. Back home we often just stay in our seats, arms at our side, mouthing the words at best. Here we have children jumping all around, hands clapping, feet stomping, drums pounding, all while everyone is singing their heart out in praise. I don’t always know what they’re saying but they sure know how to worship. I spoke the message again this week, with Karen translating, and keeping with my home churches theme from the last month, I spoke about how we are ordinary people serving an extraordinary God. The children connected well with the story of David and how he was chosen even though he was the youngest of his family and not as big as his older brothers. The children learned how David fought Goliath, not with sword and spear, but with the power of God on his side. We finished up church with some very joyful music and headed back home.
We heated up some lunch and began to make our plan for the afternoon; a good plan for Sunday family day – have a rest, play games with the kids, enjoy the day. Sundays are quiet, relaxing, restful… oh wait, we’re in Haiti, never mind! JJ soon runs in to tell us there is no water in the children’s home. Turns out there was no water going to the compound at all. So, we climbed up to the water tower, checked the tanks, right no water. Keith did lots of checking then we decided to wait for the one who would know, or quickly figure out, the problem, Mr HATS-Haiti, i.e. Luckner.
Luckner is our electrical (and everything else) guy but he won’t be able to look at it for a couple of days. We knew we’re going to need water for cooking, cleaning, drinking, bathing, etc. so we grabbed a big barrel out of the depot, three brand new garbage bins, four 5 gallon water containers, and three buckets, loaded them all up in the truck and drove down to Luckner’s house. We filled everything and slowly and carefully made our way back to the compound. We unloaded most of the buckets, keeping the big barrel on the truck. We will likely have to do this a few times. Hopefully we’ll have the situation solved soon! Never a dull moment around here!