Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Haiti on the Hodgepodge

Since I have recently returned from a week-long trip to Haiti, and since I still have a few (hundred) photos to share from our trip, I'm making today's Wednesday Hodgepodge a 'Haiti Edition.' Thanks to Joyce, for asking the questions, and for allowing me to put my own 'twist' on the answers today. Enjoy my answers, then click on the button to visit Joyce and the others.

Here are Joyce's questions and my 'Haiti themed' answers:
1. What's something you take for granted, that when you stop and think about it you feel truly grateful for?

Oh, I don't know….a hot shower? electricity? Nothing like a trip to Haiti to remind you to be grateful. So grateful.

On my last trip to Haiti, in 2012, we stayed in this building.
This time, we stayed here, in an old building which has been newly renovated. Screens in the windows, flush toilets, cold showers, and electricity all night.
Happy and grateful.

2. The color brown-love it or no? What's your favorite shade of brown? Most loved something in your home or closet in a shade of brown?

I love these beautiful faces!
As for a favorite 'something brown' in my house, I love this bowl that I purchased in Haiti several years ago. It's lovely, for sure, but can't compare to those sweet faces!

3. What's something you're looking forward to today?

Tonight, I will get to direct choir practice with these sweet children. A few weeks ago they made shirts for me to take with me to the kids at the orphanage in Haiti.
And they loved them!!

4. The word 'feminism' is not new, but it has been generating all kinds of headlines in recent days and months. What do you think/feel when you hear the word? If you're a woman, do you want to be described as a feminist? Why or why not?

I'm guessing there isn't a word in Kryeol that means 'feminism,' but I do know the women in Haiti spend their days working. Hard. To feed their families. Do the laundry. Carry the water. Clean their homes.
Which takes me back to question #1 about taking things for granted. And being grateful.
Paulette lives on the side of a mountain with many children. Her husband is a farmer. She does her laundry in a trickle of a river down in the valley. That's her kitchen in the background.
Another woman in her kitchen.
Bath time.
This is our friend Jesula making a Hatian pate (pot-ay) for her American guests.
With the hands of a strong, tender, loving woman. Who knows nothing about feminism. Amen.

5. What's something you personally can't eat without making a mess?

These are the pates, made by Jesula (above), and served to us at the party she hosted at her home while we were visiting. The pate (pronounced pot-ay) is a filled fried pastry similar to a calzone. They are served with pikliz (picklese) on top, which is a spicy cole slaw served as a condiment. So good! And also messy when you're eating it out of a bag. :)
Here is the pate,
and the pikliz being added before they were passed out to the guests.
Speaking of food, this is one of the traditional Haitian meals we enjoyed during our visit. We ate well every day, and were grateful for the food, and for those who prepared it. On this day, the meal included (from the bottom going clockwise): goat, red beans and rice with spicy sauce, fried plantains with pikliz on top, and fresh avocado. Yum!
Of course, because of the goat, I have to share our goat joke (which I may have probably already shared, but bear with me). When Jonathan and Jennifer went to Haiti in the fall of 2010, they were served goat for lunch. Jon ate it and liked it. When dinnertime came, and didn't include meat, Jonathan's comment was, "shoulda had more goat." That phrase was later used in a sermon by our then-pastor, Jimmy, who was with them on that trip. It's become a funny (probably only to us) family phrase.

6. When did you last surprise someone with a little gift or when were you last surprised by someone with a little gift? What was it?

Sister Claudette is one of the Sisters who lives and works in the community of Fondwa. I try to take a little something for my friends there, like soaps and lotion, and I shared some with Sister Claudette.
I also took a few things for our friend Jesula. New dish towels, lotion, a mirror, and some gifts for her children.

7. Share a favorite quote, saying, song lyric or scripture relating to gratitude.

This is the blessing we sing before each meal, in Kreyol.
It means: This food you send to us Father, it is the food of life.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Hopefully, this video will load, and you will be able to view it.
This is a little girl who lives at the orphanage. She wasn't at all shy about singing for us.
Maybe in a few years we can bring her to The Voice!

Have a great day!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Home from Haiti

This time last week, I was attempting to recoup after a week in Haiti.
This morning, we woke up to this, and I'm trying to ready myself for cold days ahead. Not. Ready.

Our week in Haiti was a good one. With only 3 'rookies' in our 13 member group, it was a 'dream team' of sorts. The rookies fit easily into the group, and included a cancer survivor, a hair stylist (nicknamed 'cheve', which is pronounced 'chevay' and means 'hair' in Kreyol), and 'Ken', who came to Haiti with his 'Barbie' for the first time. Since most of us have made multiple trips to the mountain community of Fondwa, our leader, Jamalyn, was able to send us off in different directions each day, knowing we were comfortable and capable with our Haitian friends and our work. We were greeted and assisted by Chris and Natalie, who are newlyweds living in Fondwa for a year, much like Dave and Jamalyn did 10 years ago.
One of the rookies in our group compared coming home after Haiti to the time that astronauts 'decompress' after a space flight. It is certainly true that 'reentry' presents both emotional and physical challenges, and it takes some time to process. I hope to write in more detail about some of our projects and experiences during our week, but I wanted to give a little overview in the meantime.

It was awesome to see the new school, nearly finished and already in use by the students.
In the 4 years since the old school was destroyed by the earthquake, classes have been held in small wooden structures like the one on the left side of this photo. The new school provides larger classrooms. and a much more comfortable learning environment for the students.
There are only a few things that need finishing in the new school, and our group was able to help with that process by scraping and painting the concrete walls in 3 classrooms.
Of course, we spent time with the kids in the orphanage, including giving them the shirts made by the children and youth from our church here in Greensburg.
The older girls especially loved the tie-dyed shirts.
Our group enjoyed lots of good food at our meals each day.
We were able to treat the kids to a movie night, complete with jiffy pop and glow sticks. In the photo, some of them are also sporting the headlamps our church was able to provide for all of the kids in the orphanage.
The ladies on our team posed with Sister Claudette, who made sure we had everything we needed while we were there, including my morning tea. :) My family was blessed to have her visit us at the lakehouse last summer. She spent some time on the dock, but passed on a boat ride!
It's fun to visit with the neighbors, and we witnessed a serious game of dominoes. The guy with the clothespins on his face and arm is not winning, by the way. :)

Laundry on the 'line.'
Heading to market.
The beautiful road to Fondwa.
A misty morning in the mountains. One of our group members was not at all enthused about the rooster alarm clock by which we are awakened in Haiti. And in case you've never listened closely, a rooster actually says "I'm a roo-ster," not "cock-a-doodle-doo." True story.
Beautiful Haiti. Bondye beni ou.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Happy Birthday to our sweet baby girl, Jennifer. Little sister to David and Andrew, and ultimately, the girl in the middle. Little sis to two bigs and big sis to two littles. A rose between thorns. :)
She was, teased, protected, chased, dared, raced, bossed, taught, coached, guided, tormented, respected and loved by her brotherly fan club.
From her brothers (or maybe because of them), she learned to be tough, fair, good hearted, even tempered, a good sport, a fierce competitor, a sister, and a friend. Our little missy.

Now, she's a wife and a mother, learning about all the things that fill a heart with love overflowing.
Like a little guy who is soon to be a Big Brother...
to his own Little Sister!
Happy Birthday, Jennifer!
I love you!