Well, it's been 12 days now that I have been in Haiti. It is all going so fast. I've been able to settle into a pretty consistent routine. Getting up at 6AM every morning, grabbing some water and a piece of bread as I walk down to be picked up by the water truck. Because the truck only holds 3 people and there are 4 of us, we take turns riding on the outside of the truck through the streets of Porte-au-Prince and Cite Soleil. At first it was quite nerve wracking, trying to hold on to the mirror, making sure of my footing on the gas tank, not wanting to slip, but it's funny how now it's becoming somewhat comfortable. (I even took a short video clip to show you what it's like that I've linked below). I've been emailing with my wife and telling her how exhausted I am at the end of each day. My routine at night is pretty much the same. Get dropped off by the water truck, go to my room, change from my soaked t-shirt and shorts. Go up to the eating area with my computer. Access my emails. Eat a small dinner. Go back to my room. Download new photos to my camera onto my computer. Update the schedule and expenses for the truck. Go to bed.
The problem is, even though the routine seems pretty straight forward, I am often so tired at when I get home, I just don't have the gusto to always complete the days work. I think I can do it all, but sometimes I just can't. And then when I fall behind, I put extra pressure on myself to "catch up" and it just makes matters worse. God knows our limits and I think he used his sense of humor to teach me mine...
After falling asleep last night, I was abruptly awakened by "that feeling", you know the one, the gurgle in your stomach, the cramping, the one that tells you "you better get to the toilet..." and quick!!!!! Well, without going into anymore detail, let's just say I spent the night dealing with what is referred down here as "Haitian Happiness". It's anything but happy. I took Imodium that my wife so graciously packed for me, hoping that I would feel better by the time the truck came but to no avail, I had to tell the driver I was "sick" and couldn't work today. God knows my limits, better than me and after not listing to them for the last few days, God used his sense of humor to set me down, give me time to rest, give me time to catch up and give me time to write this email. And so I pray "Thank you Lord, for knowing me better than I know my self, for giving me rest... that I really needed... but please if it is your will, give me only one day of this. :)"
And so here is an update.
I've captured a few short video clips and have uploaded them to YouTube so that my email files would remain as small as possible. Please click on the links below to view them.
The first one is a video I took of some children. You will see, I tried to capture my special friend, the one I spoke about earlier that had the burns on his face and hands. He has definitely take a soft spot in my heart. If you listen, you will hear the children saying "Hey you", Hey you", "Jeff", "Jeff", "Jeff", "Jeff"... it's like this at every stop. Each one just wants to be me to look at them... The last frame of the video is of my special friend and makes me sad.
The next video is a short clip of delivering water bucket by bucket. Listen to the people, it is almost deafening in real life... At some stops, the lines are orderly and at others, especially when there has been no rain, they are very chaotic... everyone knows there's not enough water for everyone, so they attempt to push and shove their way to the front.
The next video was actually shot when Alyn was here in July. It just gives you a wider angle of bucket by bucket from the top of the truck.
The last video is my first attempt to video from the outside of the truck. We have just left Cite Soleil and are headed back to the well to get more water. You can see many buildings with holes from gunshot and many that have been destroyed by fighting between the gangs and the UN. Notice the children at the end of the clip on a homemade cart carrying a 5 gallon bucket of water.
Sunday was my day off. I got up at 6:30AM and went to investigate a small orphanage that Alyn and I have found... or should I say that found us. It's kind of a long story how we met Jackson, but Alyn and I both believe it could be a "God Thing". Since finding out about each other, Jackson (the orphanage director) and I have been emailing and talking to each other for the last 4 months. He told me that a hurricane came through their small village in 2004, wiping out many of the tin roofed shacks with high winds and flash floods. Maranatha is a small, very poor village with poorly constructed concrete wall houses with tin or thatched roofs. It is located aprox 60 minutes north of Porte-au-Prince off Hwy 1.
Jackson is a follower of Christ and because of his faith, he and a friend took in 30 children who had lost their parents and siblings. In 2005, his friend became suddenly ill and died during surgery. Jackson was devastated. He did not want to go on. He did not think he could continue by himself. He wanted to quit. But as he said, "God had other plans for me". He knew he could not turn the children out because there was no one else to care for them. Jackson is only in his late 20's but has the maturity of someone much older. He believes that God's Will will provide and he steps out in faith every day to serve God and God's children.
Jackson was a school teacher in Porte-au-Prince but quit his job to take care of the children. His pastor rents him a two bedroom house he calls "Maranatha House". All 15 girls live in one bedroom, All 15 boys live in the other. Each bedroom holds 10 bunk beds which means that 5 of the children have to double up in each room. The only source of income for Maranatha House is gifts from donors.
I am attaching some photos of my visit.
All 30 children with "Jackson" in the yellow shirt to my left.
We brought down 30 pairs of "Crocs" for the children. They were very excited to get new shoes.
The house does not have an eating area for the children so they must eat on the floor of their bedroom. The rooms do not have light in the room so they eat in the complete dark. The only reason this photo is light is because of my flash. Girls room.
Each child has a backpack that doubles as a dresser for all the clothes they own in this world and for school.
Boys room... can you imagine, they all have to eat and sleep in this tiny room?
Jackson (left) and my friend Jean stand by a mattress that has been hung out to dry after one of the children wet it during the night. Jackson told me about the need for new mattresses for the children. Most of their mattresses are stained, torn and falling apart.
Alyn and I will visit Maranatha House when she comes to Haiti around Thanksgiving. We don't know what God has planned for us, or for Maranatha House, but He has put it heavy on our hearts. Please pray that God will reveal to us the role He has planned for us and pray for Jackson, that through him, God will fulfill the needs of the Children of Maranatha House. We are all so very blessed. When you see first hand children who have lost it all and one person, who is making a difference in their lives, it answers the question "What can one person do?" With God, all things are possible, even if you are just one person.
Connecting people who have much and need little...
to those who have little and need so much.