Touring Port-au-Prince, Arrival at Carrefour
Mt Lebanon Haiti VIM Team
Saturday morning: Everyone was renewed by sleep. Sometimes it came by fits and starts. Many of us slept with wet hand towels to try to cool off. We were blessed with a large fan which provided the added gift of white noise to cover “sleeping sounds.” We six women sleeping in bunk beds in room 3 chose to keep our door open to allow for any night breeze seeking its way through the guest house. Nobody but me seemed to notice when the electricity went off in the middle of the night. The hallway darkened, the fan stopped, and all was quiet. It eventually came back on. We didn’t cool off much, but any drop in temperature was appreciated.
We had time before breakfast to process a bit what was happening around us. I read a quote from A Mission Journey: A Handbook for Volunteers which is now being used in VIM Training. “We do not have to let what happens to us control us, because God gives us the power to choose how we will respond to any given situation. Most of us react to certain triggers in ways we have learned over time and self-knowledge about these triggers can help us rise above our own reactivity and choose more helpful responses.” We talked a bit about the $5 “bribe” I payed at the airport yesterday. I was angry and not sure how to get away from the two uniformed men asking for $20 to allow our suitcase of OTC meds to go through. When I refused, the one asking for the money reduced his demand to $10. I finally handed him $5 and we got outside where Jackson took over controlling the porters. Even he wanted more than the $20 I handed him for our nine big suitcases. He reminded me he had lots of helpers to pay. I replied, “No, that’s enough,” and he dropped the subject. How important it is to know what you’ll encounter upon arrival in the airport. Kimberly knew what was happening. I think we’ve all decided that another person needs to be with the team leader to give support (if that’s possible). We all want the funds we’ve brought along to help the Methodist church in its ministry, not pay bribes to officials.
We had an interesting morning, with a docent tour of the National Museum, a little shopping in the artisan shop, and lunch at the 5 Coins (5 Corners) Restaurant. I had goat (tough), fried plantain (bland), rice and beans (very good) and onion salad (delicious spicy). Peterson (our translator) and Johnny (our driver) were helpful pointing out interesting sights and answering our questions about Port-au-Prince. It was good to get a taste of Haiti and a feel for its history. After lunch we returned to the Guest House, loaded our suitcases into the van, and headed for Carrefour. Jackie sent along a generator, 4 cots, our donation of $1425 ($75 went to the district office), and a cell phone to use in case of emergency.
Arriving in Carrefour about an hour later, we found no electricity. We had single bed (no bunk beds), with the four cots added in, three in the men’s room and one in the women’s room. Ken and Kimberly in a third bedroom had a queen size bed. I’m not sure where Pastor Ralph and Johanna are sleeping. An invertor is providing electricity now. There is no wi-fi; but the Seventh Day Adventists have an internet cafe next door – which is closed for their Sabbath.
Pastor Ralph and Johanna are hospitable and sharp; their English easy to understand. Their dedication is obvious; their theology well thought out. He didn’t fuss that I forgot to pack the Tablet that he had purchased online and had delivered to me to bring in my checked luggage. I’ll connect with another Pennsylvania person coming in two weeks and ask him to do the delivery and mail the tablet to him as soon as I get home. Dinner was tasty Haitian food – goat again – much better than the restaurant!
Church was to begin at 8:00. We got there shortly after 8:00 and it was only about ¼ full. By 9:00 it was packed. Pastor Ralph forgot that they had changed the time of the service because two family members of prominent people in the congregation had died and were buried yesterday. For the sake of those families who were active in the church, the service was moved to 9:00. Getting to church was via two vehicles, the pastor’s truck (Louanne and Tom rode in the back – I have pictures) and a parishioner’s car. We finished church about 11:00. Tom preached, Pastor Ralph interpreted. I did the children’s talk; Lori assisted, Peterson interpreted. Our team introduced themselves – to some chuckles as we tried to master a couple of French words before giving our names, then sang “Trust and Obey” in great harmony. What fun to have a musical team! The young man playing keyboard listened carefully, then about halfway through the first verse he joined in – in our key. The service was in French. Although Haitian Creole is the language of the people, French is an official language and the language of schools and government.
After a light lunch, Sunday afternoon is recovery time. Six of our team and Peterson have gone to the beach. I’m tweaking our journal. Lori and Kathleen are reading. It seems like a good way to prep for the busy week ahead. We continue to practice flexibility, patience, problem solving, and good humor. We use the cold shower (no hot water) to cool off and clean up. Liz is providing me antihistamines as needed to combat itching from insect bites. We are discovering hidden talents and appreciating each other’s gifts. Clark will do devotions tonight and has given us each a “multiple intelligences inventory” to complete.
This computer journal is heading for the Cyber Café. Tomorrow you should be hearing from someone else.