11:30 - WOW. That's all I have to say about this morning. First of all, never ever again in my life will I complain about a long church service back home. It is 11:30am and church just now got out. It started at 7:30am, and we didn't get there until 8. But still, that is 3.5 hours of church in a non-air conditioned building packed with Haitians shoulder to shoulder. Seriously. No exxaggeration. THREE AND A HALF HOURS OF SWEATING IN A CHURCH SERVICE IN HAITIAN CREOLE.
Okay, but let me back up, it gets way better than that. When we were getting ready to leave for church, we realized we weren't goig to have enough room for everyone in the rental van. Three people were going to have to ride in the bed of a truck. Well of course I volunteered for that one, along with two other girls. I mean how many times do you get the opportunity to ride through Port Au Prince, Haiti, in the bed of a dirty pick up truck!?
|The van that we coudln't all fit in|
Well, it was definitely quite the experience alright! First of all, it had rained the night before, so the bed of the truck was wet. So much for a clean (and dry) skirt for church - that lasted all of one minute once I sat down. The roads aren't nice and paved in Haiti (not in the city anyways) - they are gravel and very bumpy. I may have broken my butt bone flying down those roads and hitting the giant pot holes and cracks in the roads. And to top it all off, we got in a wreck in the middle of the city! It was SO crazy, and my heart is racing again now just thinking about it. The rule of the road here is basically that the bigger vehicle has the right of way. I can't even really explain the roads here, I mean there are just cars and trucks and people walking everywhere, not on their side of the road, there aren't lines down the middle of the road or stop lights, etc. The vehicles drive so close to each other that I could literally reach out and touch them. Well, there was a bigger truck full of people (like people literally hanging off of it) that honked it's horn at us as it came not-so-slowly down the middle of the road. Our driver (Wes) kind of tried to turn away from the big truck, which left the back-end of the truck - where I was sitting with my arm hanging ove the side of the passenger side - out in the way still. And sure enough, just as I thought, "Whoa, this one is getting way too close," and pulled my arm in and tried to lean over out of the way, the truck hit us! I could NOT believe it. I don't think anyone got hurt in the other truck, but we sure didn't stop to find out. Wes said, "If you ever get in a wreck in Hait, DON'T STOP, especially if you hit a person." Ha! Who knows what they would have done to a truck load of white girls. I'm just thankful I pulled my arm in when I did, or it maybe gone now, or at least broken! Wes did eventually stop quite a ways down the road to get out and see the damage. It isn't too bad, a dent and scratched all the way along the bed of the truck, but that's about it.
|These big trucks on the right are just like the one that hit us, except it was full of people|
|Wes finally got out to see how bad the damage was|
So anyways, after a long and hot ride to the other side of the city, we pulled off the main road and down a little bumpy ally way and walked a block or two to the church. The PACKED and HOT church, that is. My hair is completely windblown and nappy looking, and I am filthy (sweaty bodies attracts dirt and smog I guess). I feel really gross. Church was long, and that is an understatement. I kind of felt bad for not getting more in to it, but it was really hard since it was all in Creole. They did give us a little head set device and there was a guy trying to translate for us, but he wasn't very good and missed a lot - and actually didn't even try to translate the entire main message. At one point, he yawned and apologized for the service being so long (we were all sitting there fanning ourselves and anxiously wiggling around). He also called us "strangers" - ha. Pretty sure that one was lost in translation. The guy probably said welcome to our "guests" or "visitors" or something like that. Oh, and they were praying for all of their animals - goats and chickens and BEEFS (instead of cows). There were several times I couldn't help but giggle at the translating.
|The headset they gave us to hear the translator|
The pastor of the church, Pastor Moise Vaval, totally reminded me of President Obama. I mean not only his mannerisms, but he even looked like him, too! He was very charismatic and charming and very humble. One of those guys you could just look at for a few minutes and tell he is a wonderful man. It totally felt like a concert when he came on stage! I mean the people just LOVE him and cheer and clap and holler! People were taking pictures and videos, etc. There was a little appreciation ceremony type of thing for he and his family at church today. Here he is walking up on stage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlJGHjxKdKU
Emily (our trip leader) told us about Pastor Moise's little boy and how he died in the earthquake. He had two little boys that were at the same school the day of the earthquake (his two older girls were at a different school). The boys ran out hand in hand, but at some point, they got ripped apart. The youngest boy kept running and survived, but the other son (8 years old) did not. They didn't find his body in the collapsed school for weeks, and when they did, it was only recongnizable by his older sister who knew it was him because she recognized the socks she had put on him that morning. :( It's just awful, but very inspiring at the same time to see the love and hope he still has for his people after all the tragedy he has dealt with. There actually is a 60 Minutes clip on him (and The Global Orphan Project) if you are interested in watching it. Here is the link: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6668116n
The church was so loud and all the people are so intense and passionate. It was really something to see - quite the experience. Part of me thinks the service is so long because, let's face it, most of the people there have no where else to go! They don't have anything else to do - no house to clean or job to go to (85% unemployment rate in Haiti). No erands to run or facebook to check or emails to send. They just have to rely on God, literally, to provide for them everday, not themselves. All they have is their faith and hope in Him. Sunday is their church /worship day, and it must be an all day affair! Here are a couple YouTube videos of the singing at church: 1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqcfBtuk15o 2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMZ8VxwrISI
When the church service finally ended, the little kids (many of them orphans) came running up to us and begged to be held, of course. One little guy took my necklace off and wore it, and another little guy wouldn't get out of my arms. You could tell he was kind of ornery, and while I was standing there holding him and talking to someone, he literally out of the blue started growling like a dog and biting my neck. I mean not hard, it didn't hurt, just tickling me and being funny, but holy cow, it completely caught me off guard, and he was latched on to me so tight I couldn't even rip him off me! I totally wish I had a video of that - me screaming and trying to get this little guy off me to stop sucking my neck, while I'm dying laughing from him tickling me!
|This is the little boy that attacked my neck!|
We are going to get a little tour of the church (which as been partially re-built since the earthquake) and the school next door, then we are heading back. Since church was so long, we aren't going to the beach. We'd rather spend more time with the kids. :)
|The bathrooms - yes, I used them!|
|The "technolgy room" at the church|
|The school next door|
|Where they are rebuilding the orphanage|
|inside one of the classrooms|
|inside one of the classrooms|
|The view from the classrooms|
|The water filtration system at the church/school/orphanage|
1:30 - We just got home (back to the Inn/orphanage). It was an interesting ride back through the city in the bed of the truck again - but no wrecks this time! Wes actually bought ice cream for us for surviving the wreck and getting back in the bed of the truck, and it was SO good, especially on this hot day. I got some good pictures of the city. I started smiling and waving at everyone, and got some guys holding up their hands like a phone to their ear saying "call me" and I got a couple kisses blown my way and smooching sounds, ha. It was pretty entertaining and I was eating it up.
We stopped at a nice supermarket in the city and I really wanted to buy something. I found some sort of cookies (rock hard) and a Powerade and went to check out. I only had US dollars, so she did the calculation (who knows with what exchange rate) on a calculator and shoed me 2.78. So I handed her three $1 bills and waited for my change. She just looked at me and kind of shooed me away. Ummm...I WANT MY 22 cents, lady! Wes was standing there trying to pull me out of the way, telling me I wasn't getting any change and to just leave, but I kept standing there looking at her with my hand out. I wanted my 22 cents!! Well, I didn't get my change. I guess they don't even have Haitian coins that small or something? Whatever, I thought it was a load of crap. ;) Little funny story: as we pulled out of the super marke and on to hiway, Wes floored it (probably so we didn't get hit again), and I literally slid on my butt all the way across the bed of truck and hit the other side. My hands were full (cookies in one hand and powerade in the other, so I couldn't grab the side. It was pretty funny, and I was squealing the whole time. I told Wes riding in the bed of a truck with him driving was like a roller coaster ride! I got a couple more high fives from guys riding by on motorcyles on the windy ride back. It's cloudy and looks like rain, but we're heading back in to town to metal factory here in a few minutes. Hope we don't get soaked on this ride!
|The supermarket - the nicest place I saw in all of Haiti|
|"Magic Time Yummy Tummy" chips|
4pm - We went back in to Port Au Prince (not very far) to a little metal shop - in the bed of the truck again. I'm used to it now, so it didn't bother me at all thi time. I bought the coolest piece of metal art! This guy hand makes all kind of art - big and small - from piences of sheet metal that he hammers out flat and then carves the designs in to them. It was pretty cool to see, and I was happy to support the local economy!
|This is the one I bought!|
When we got back from the metal shop, we went out to play with kids for a little while, and then we went over to Clydes orphanage across the street. It is much smaller, and we played over there for a little bit - jumped rope, colored some more hacky sack balls, and blew up some balloons. We decided to just bring those 20 or 30 kids back over here to play - there is so much more room!
|The gate to the orphanage across the road|
|Standing in the gate back to our orphanage|
I'm aking a water break in my room for a minute now, and I'm just now realizing I'm kinda sunburnt from the time in the back of the truck today. I need a snack too! I don't know how these kids only eat twice a day! The weather really hasn't been bad here. It cooled off and sprinkled just a little, so it hasn't been near as hot as it was supposed to be (thank goodness)!
|My sweet Aileen|
The beach ball was really fun - while it lasted anyways. As soon as we got it blown up and threw it, there was a stream of kids chasing it. I was actualy surprised it lasted as long as it did, but it was LOTS Of fun while it was going. I think Ellison's teeth biting the ball killed it - that's what the kids said anyways. But the fun didn't end there. They turned the plastic in to bandanas after that! These kids are creative. :)
While most of the kids were screaming and laughing, chasing the beach ball, sweet little Jamison was kind of standing alone in the corner. He's the cute little half-white boy that gets picked on for his lighter skin. Erin picked him up and ran around with him on her hip or back for a LONG time (I don't know how she did it), and every time the ball came to them, his face would just light up. So of course my object of the game was then to get the ball from the kids and throw it to Erin and Jamison, just to see that beautiful smile...
I actually got a little teary eyed tonight when I said goodbye to the kids. Clyde and Aileen walked me back, hand in hand, and a lot of the other kids lined up along the fence and gate waving. I don't know if I'll see them tomorrow morning before we leave or not. Sometimes they get up early and sometimes they don't. I'm not sure if I want them to or not - it's only going to be harder tomorrow. I have to keep reminding myself that these orphans really are the "lucky" ones here in Haiti: they have a safe place to stay, they get to go to school, and they get two meals a day. They aren't sad (AT ALL) so why should I be sad for them? They don't need the "American Way" to be joyful or full of hope and love.
9pm - I'm back in my room now, packing for our 5:30am departure to the airport. Dinner was really good tonight! It was some sort of lasagna-ish casserole thing, and everything else was the same (spicy cole slaw, rice, etc). We talked a lot tonight about "pure religion" and what it truly means to care for "the least of these." I've learned a lot and had some great conversations in the evenings, that's for sure. This has been a very eye-opening experience...I'm not even going to go in to all of it tonight. It's just too much to type on my phone.
9:30pm - Emily (our trip leader from Fort Collins, CO) and her boyfriend, Tyler, just got engaged!! He is 23 and she is 25, and they've been dating almost a year now. They seriously are the perfect couple and so wonderful together. They are so cute and they definitely both have a heart for Haiti and orphan care. The proposal was so sweet, too. Tyler wrote her a poem and read it to her up on the balcony. He named reasons why he loved her, something like, "I love you because you're my favorite dancer. I love you because I alraedy know your answer." I mean it was a lot longer than that, but I can't remember all of it - and I don't think Emily could either, she was so excited. She screamed and came running down waving her fake ring (the real one is waiting on her back home), and we all screamed too. The kids at the orphanage came running out and mocking their kiss when they found out what happened. It was too cute. This was just the perfect place for them to get engaged. They are both SO happy. What a perfect ending to a wonderful trip to Haiti!