In the Summer of 2010 I was one of many lucky people who had the opportunity to take a short trip to Haiti. I fell almost instantly in love and just can't keep myself away. I've spent about 11 months in Haiti since the first time I went two and a half years ago and my time there isn't over. I'm exploring my options on where to take my life from here but it WILL include Haiti in one form or another. This is where I record stories and thoughts about my experiences.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It's been raining every night for the past 4 or 5 nights. The thunder keeps me awake! I believe that rainy season has arrived. It's nice because it cools things off at night. But all this rain is causing our roof to leak. Paulette and I went up on the roof yesterday to clear out the drains but the entire roof is one big puddle. The water has rotted the roof all the way to the inside and there are at least three big leaks in the house. Every morning we wake up to a new puddle on the floor from the water dripping from the ceiling. Our roof most likely won't hold up if there's an earthquake and it's made from heavy concrete. The good news is that Sue found out that she will be moving out of this house in the Summer. We're not sure of the date yet but we hope it's sooner rather than later. Pray that the construction for her new house will go fast so they can get out of this house!

Noah's skin is getting better. Slowly. We still haven't figured out what is causing it. I've started to eliminate things in his environment in case it's an allergic reaction. He's a lot better than he was at first but he still gets new spots every day. We have to wait for him to get better before we try and get him his vaccinations. So we really need him to get better!! Other than that, the boys are doing great. Jackson says "dada" now and he's getting up on all fours. They both respond to their names when I call them from across the room. I thought they didn't know who was who, but they do! It's so fun watching them grow and develop.

The other day, Katie and I went out to walk to get some things at the store. We happened to run into Frankie driving some of my friends who I knew were visiting Haiti. My friend Josh is living on the island La Gonave to do an internship with Extollo International. He had a construction team there for two weeks and I knew one of the men named Willie. I have been to Haiti with Willie once before. I was so excited to see both of them and have the chance to talk to them for a while. I didn't realize they were going to be in my neighborhood on that day so it was a nice surprise. They were at the end of their trip and staying in a hotel for their last night here so they could catch their plane the next morning. Katie and I decided to go with them for a little vacation! We were away from Sue's for less than 24 hours but it was a much needed break and felt like a longer time. The hotel we stayed at was in Carrfour. It was very nice and had a pool as well as a very nice restaurant with PIZZA. Amazing pizza. I swam in the pool even though its was getting late and was cold. I was shivering but it was so worth it.

I was rocking Peter to sleep tonight but there was mostly talking and little sleeping. That was OK with me. He always has a lot to say and I love that time with him because he's so sweet and mellow. Tonight I was telling him that I'll have to tell his new teachers to tell him to focus during school. I always tell my kids that and they get so mad that we had to figure out code words because they got sick of hearing me say "focus!!" so much. We started talking about his new teachers and he said "you aren't going to be here again? I'm getting a new teacher?" I said "yeah, after I leave in May you are going to get two new teachers. I'm going back to the U.S." He replied "but you said you want to stay in Haiti! You said you love Haiti." I almost cried thinking about how much I'm going to miss all these little kids. Oh Haiti, how will I ever keep myself away!!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Video Messages to Parents

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Peter's message to his mom! He recited his St. Patrick's day poem for you.


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Samantha for her mom


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Jennifer telling Francis what her favorite color is

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Juliette singing for her sister Gracie


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SonSon for his mom "Bonjou! Good morning mom! I have a party today, we have chico at it and then I had rice and beans. Goodbye!" 



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Jennifer's message to her mom



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First it was Johnnie boy, he now insists on being called Johnnies



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Michaelle's message to her mom "Good morning mom, we had a party today. I love you! Thank you for the doll you gave me. Goodbye!"

Monday, March 19, 2012

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On St. Patrick's day, Katie and I had a party for the kids. Katie found a poem for the five school kids to recite for everyone. Erline recited a poem in Creole for everone too. The six performers dressed up in green for the occasion and took it very seriously. I love that. Katie and I made juice, bought chico (Haitian cheetos, remember?) and had candy bracelets for everyone. Katie also did a cute craft with all the kids. We had bubbles and put green food dye in them to make green bubbles. It was a good day for a party and the kids were really well behaved. Sorry about the yelling in the video. The kids were well behaved and quiet but the two adults there kept talking through the whole poem! Oh well.

A woman named Cristy is here from Portugal to visit for a week. She is a really great lady. She has traveled all over the world and had a great spirit. There have been some really great people who have come to stay with Sue and I'm lucky to have met all of them. I fell like the timing of each person who came to visit was perfect. They each had something to teach me that was exactly what I needed at that time. It's amazing how that works out. Thank you Pastor Bill, Shannon, Collin, Serena, Mary, Cristy, Bob, and Grant! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I took Noah to the dermatologist in PAP on Tuesday. I was very disappointed because she just told me pretty much the same thing as the other doctor. They say it's infected bug bites on his body and an allergic reaction on his face but I don't believe it. He's never had bug bites that look like this. I am going to keep using the prescription lotion and anti allergy medicine though. Today, he looks better than he did before so I'm praying that it's healing. On top of that, we've still been having kids with really high fevers. We can't figure out what that is either. They'll get really high fevers in the afternoon and then once their fever breaks, they're fine until the next afternoon or night. It's been about the same cycle for so many kids in the house. Today it was Marvins. His temp had to be 104. I stuck him in the bath because I didn't want to waste time taking his temperature. Sue commented that she thinks we haven't gone a day without at least one sick kid in the house for months. It's no fun! But I guess that's what we get for having 19 kids. I'm so thankful that I get to be here to rock a feverish kid or put lotion on cracked skin. It almost brings me to tears every time I'm holding a sick kid to think about all the kids in Haiti who don't have someone to love and care for them when they're not feeling well.

Yesterday, when everyone was in their beds, Peter called me over to give me a belated birthday card. I am happy to say that he had perfect handwriting and spelled everything correctly with no help! Yay for smart students!

Speaking of students, my kids just graduated to the second grade books. We're discovering that second grade is much harder than first! They finished their math books a few weeks before they got their second grade books and we've become rusty on the basics like addition and subtraction. Does anyone know about math wrap-ups? They're a tool to help kids learn to memorize their math facts. I used them in school when I was younger. Since buying them isn't really an option, I cheated and made some out of left over cardboard from the corn flakes boxes.  Oh, to be a teacher in Haiti.

I didn't mention before but the boys are 6 months old as of a few days ago. Where has time gone??? I gave them bananas for the first time today. They weren't stoked.

Other than that, nothing is new here!

Prayer requests:
-Marvins to settle down
-Noah's skin
-Haitian Government
- Generator/circuit breaker/battery problems to not happen again
-For me to have patience with the kids

Videos

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Happy birthday!

 
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There were ten in the bed!

Monday, March 12, 2012

This past week our circuit breaker box had problems which left us with no power for two days. No power meant no lights, no tv, no internet, no way to charge our phones, and no water. The water pump for the house is electric so there was no way to get water from the well. No water meant no bathing, no teeth brushing, no drinking, no cooking, no flushing the toilet, no washing clothes and no washing hands. The first day without power we filled up a big barrel of water with a hose from the neighbors. The second day we walked down the street to different neighbors and carried water back to the house in buckets. Yes, I did indeed carry buckets of water on my head like a Haitian. I got pretty wet.. The third day our water got fixed. I think about all the people in this world who have to walk far, sometimes miles, to manually pump their water. Then I think of all the people who live in the tent city that I can see out the school room window at the foot of the mountain. They don't even have a well. They have to rely on rainwater and a water truck that delivers water once a week. Unlimited, running water is such a luxury and something I rarely am thankful for.

Noah has had a skin problem for the past week and a half. I took him to the doctor last Tuesday. The doctor could only guess what the problem was and gave me three medications and a creme in hopes that it would fix it. It's been a week and he's still not better. I'm going to try and take him to a dermatologist in Port au Prince tomorrow. Poor little baby.

Last Wednesday Haiti had a 4.6 earthquake. It was in the evening and I wasn't sleeping yet but the shaking woke up the workers. They were scared and grabbed all the kids in their room and ran outside. Faboila said she grabbed baby SonSon by the foot and just ran with him like that because she was going so fast. After the ground stopped shaking we heard dogs barking and people in the neighborhood shouting. I'm glad that most of the kids slept through it. It sad to see how scared the workers were from such a small earthquake. I can't imagine what a reminder it must have been for them from the earthquake two years ago.

Yesterday was my birthday. It was one of the best birthdays I've had. Katie and I took the boys with us and went to a church in Port au Prince that is in English. I didn't realize how amazing church is when I can understand it! I got chills when they started singing the first song. I felt so revived afterwords. Our  new friend named Grant came to church as well. He is an American and is going to live in Haiti for 3 months. He and his friend came with us to Epidor (a chain fast food resturaunt with pizza and burgers and things) after church to eat pizza with us. Katie bought us the pizza and Grant bought us cheesecake. The cheesecake was better than life itself and I have never appreciated pizza like I did that day. After Epidor we went to Pierre's house to visit with one of his American friends who lives in Haiti. They loved Jackson and Noah! The boys did SO good all day. They didn't cry once. They flirted with all the ladies in church and were perfect babies.

We got home shortly after the rest of the kids got home from church which was good. I got the BEST presents that I've ever gotten. Samantha told me that she would pray for me for my gift. When I laughed a little she said "don't laugh! That is a beautiful gift Rebecca!" I love that girl. Later on in the day she gave me 1 gourde (there are 40 gourdes in one American dollar). It was all she had. Jennifer made me a beautiful card and signed all the kids names by herself ;) She also asked Faboila for 5 gourdes to buy some cookies for me. She talked about it for a week before she actually got them. She was excited, but not more excited than me! Juliette told me she would give me five BIG hugs for my gift. Erline made me a card and wrote something in French for me. All the kids colored pictures and gave them to me. Katie made a card and all the kids signed it. Sue worked really hard to make a cake for me. She told me she had to go to 3 different stores before she found the right kind of sugar to make the frosting. I got a big kiss and many hugs from Claudeson. Peter gave me a pamphlet that he got in church about heaven and hell "so that I can read in Creole." Jackson threw up on me and all the kids said that he gave it to me for my birthday. My family and friends wrote me cards months ago and sent me to Haiti with them to open on my birthday. They made me cry. I didn't get any fancy or expensive gifts but the 1 gourde, cookies, heaven/hell pamphlet, endless cards, hugs and kisses were enough to make me the happiest birthday girl ever. Personally, I recommend having a birthday in Haiti with people you love. Even if they're sticky, stinky, crazy little people. Those crazy little people have big hearts and it's wonderful to be on the receiving end.

SonSon in his party hat on my birthday

Passing out party hats

Scheelanda and I ready to eat supper and cake

Me, Noah and crazy Claudeson

Blowing out all 23 candles

My card from Jennifer

Excited for cookies from Jennifer

Samantha, me and Michaelle hanging out in the kitchen

My birthday hair courtesy of Jennifer, Erline and Samantha

Noah and Jackson

Noah and Jackson

Peter and SonSon in school

Paulette is in the back and Faboila is in the front

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Photos

Tomato plants from our new garden

Peter and SonSon watering our little garden
SonSon playing in the water

Me and Michaelle being goofy


Jean, Bebej, Diana, Scheelanda, Francesca

Peter, me and Michaelle in our classroom

Katie, Claudeson, Jennifer, and Samantha in their classroom

Joshua

Jackson, SonSon, Noah, Joshua

back row: Betchina, Mislanda, Marvins, Juliette, Erline
front row: Scheelanda, Bebej, Diana, Jean, Francisca

Claudeson picked some flowers for me 

we always end up a mess

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Guess who got to go to Leogane yesterday? Yup, that's right, this girl did. My friend Frankie called and said that he had to run to the girls orphanage to pick up some tools. I took the opportunity for a free ride to go give the girls hugs and kisses and bring Katie to meet them. I miss them so much when I'm here and wish I had more chances to go see them. They're pretty special girls.

On the way to see the girls we drove past a big truck piled high with sugar cane. The guys who were sitting with the sugar cane were throwing pieces off every once in a while to the people walking by. They threw off a pile to a bunch of kids who swarmed it like a pinata had just broke. It warmed my hart. I wonder if I had a truck full of sugar cane to sell in the market if I would have given it out to people passing on the street..

In Bon Repos, two nights in a row, a mechanic down the street has been burning HUGE piles of tires. The first night it happened, we were worried a house was on fire because it was so big. Anyway, we woke up in the morning to a yard covered in soot from the tires. We're hoping it rains soon to wash it all away. Our floors are soooo dirty. All of our feet are covered in black soot all day long because we track it everywhere. When I give the boys a bath at night the water runs off brown. Yuck.

Also, the boys have been getting up into a crawling position. It won't be long before they're mobile. We'll be needing to put up some baby gates for sure!

That's all the updates for now!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

These past few days have really made me not want to leave Haiti. These kids have been so sweet. Peter, oh Peter. He is a sweet kid but he's very emotional. When he's upset, he's UPSET. And man can he hold a grudge. Being his teacher, I sometimes need to make him do things that he doesn't want to do. So I often am the target for his anger. I've gotten used to him being upset with me for the majority of the day. However, for the past two days, he's been so good! He has rarely been angry. Two nights ago after everyone had gone to their beds, I asked him if he wanted me to rock him to sleep. I had asked him this question before and he always had said no. This time he said yes. I loved rocking him! Last night, he even ASKED me to rock him again and of course I said yes. School had been going a lot smoother and we've been having way more positive interactions. Hopefully we can keep it up!

Yesterday, it was Jennifer's turn to go on the weekly trip to the market with Fabula. She always gives the kids a few Haitian dollars to spend while they're there. When Jennifer got home, she pulled me aside to my room to give me a lollipop that she had bought with the money Fabula gave her. She used 1/3 of her precious money to get ME a gift! I was so touched because going to the market is such a treat for the kids because it happens so rarely. Thanks for making my day Jennifer!

Our new boy, Marvins, is doing good. He's a happy kid and pretty darn cute. He has been sleeping well and seems to be enjoying all the delicious food we eat. We sent him to school already and he has a good time. He has trouble pronouncing words which makes it hard for the other kids to understand him. It could be because his four front teeth have partially or completely rotted out. We've also discovered that he is a bit of a wild child. I don't think he's stopped moving since he got here. Even in his sleep he moves! We think that he probably has ADD. Last night Katie had to give him a coloring book because we could not get him to settle down enough to sit for more than 5 seconds. He finally calmed down and went to sleep two hours after the other kids. Tonight, we JUST got him into bed. He's not asleep quite yet but at least he's quiet. (Two hours after the other kids) He had Katie and I laughing so hard tonight. He literally was trying to bounce off the walls.. I told him to come to me and before I knew it he was up on a chair jumping into my arms. (just kidding about him being in his bed, he's running around the halls now...) Katie and I seriously are considering giving him some cough medicine. Is that ethical? Probably not huh? He is so sweet though and he loves giving huge hugs and kisses to Katie and I. It may take a while for the other kids to warm up to him but it's understandable. Marvins hasn't yet learned the rules of the house so it get's annoying for the other kids sometimes. The older kids are working hard at trying to kindly remind him when he does something wrong. We have to tell him things like "Marvins, we don't hit our friends.  In our house we are kind to each other. Marvins, we don't jump off the chairs like that in our house. Marvins, your feet belong on the floor, not the walls. Marvins, the balls belong outside and the books belong inside." He's only been here a few days so I'm sure with a little more time, he'll catch on. I really like that goofy little guy but man, are we in for it.

The boys got their first hair cut today. I really wanted to have them grow out their hair until they said their first word because that's how people do it in Haiti. But it was just so long that it was getting impossible to comb without them screaming their heads off. Sue said she was going to cut it after I left anyway so I just decided to do it on a whim today. Paulette did it for me but I took a few snips here and there just to say I did.

Noah's first hair cut!!!

 
Things in Haiti, politically speaking, are heating up. A while ago, the prime minister resigned. Without a Prime Minister, the government can not function. That is not good news for anyone, especially the families who are in the process of adopting. In addition, yesterday, thousands of Aristide supporters gathered in protest in Port Au Prince. This is also bad news. Aristide was president of Haiti but after being forced from office in 2004, he was exiled. He returned to Haiti in March of last year. During his presidency he supported Haiti's ruthless and violent gangs and those gangs supported him. Needless to say, he was not the best President Haiti has ever had. This is why it is bad news that his supporters are gathering for protests. It could mean that more protests are to come and more protests could mean violence. We found out today that Aristide probably has something to do with the resignation of the Prime Minister. Be praying for Haiti people because things may be getting crazy.