Monday, January 30, 2017

Little Smiles

Step-by-step to see the little kids below Papa's house. A skinny girl in a large dirty white tank top runs down the hill to jump in my arms. I scoop her little self up and she wraps her arms around my neck. I climb to the top of the hill. Jacques has his kids ministry right now and so Aunt Beck and I sit on the side with our little friends on our laps. This little girl hugged me so tight. She puts her little hand on my face and tilted down to face her. Her huge brown eyes are staring up at me. So big. So brown. So gentle. Her little tiny braids covering her head.

Her little smile. She smiles at me and I smile down at her. I wrap my arms around her and she snuggles her face in my neck. I can feel a lump in my throat. Keep it together. I am so overwhelmed in this moment. I am so overwhelmed with love. I don't know why this little girl just stole my heart but she did. All that she is. Jefflinda is her name. If I feel like this about a little beauty I just met, I can't imagine how I will feel about my own kids. Love is such an amazing thing. As it comes time to go I don't want to let her go. I've never been hugged this tight. I have never hugged anyone so tight. In moments like these, I don't think of the scabies or the lice or the strong smell of urine on her clothes. I just think of how much I don't want to let her go, of how there is no place in the world I would rather be. Heed (Aunt Heidi) is getting her hair braided and it's getting dark soon. We (Beck and I) go and pick her up on my bike. She is sitting getting her hair braided laughing and loving people. Wherever she goes she loves people and they love her. Being half Haitian comes in handy down here right now and the way she is learning Kreyol after only a couple days. Awesome.

Tonight we are going to Jacques house to have a little bible study. Heed is exhausted so she is going to stay home and get some rest. Beck, Mackenzy, Jacques and I sit on top of Jacques roof. Jacques set up a sweet little carpet for us to sit on. We sit and talk. We laugh. We argue. We discuss. We pray. We sing and worship. Beck talks about the constellations and Jacques asks beautiful questions about them. We share about what we love. How big and great God is. I lay on my back. I’m freezing and Jacques brings me a sheet to wrap up in. Staring at the stars. Singing. The smoke and the trees. The little homes littering the mountainside. Fires burning garbage. Breathe in Haiti. We can see almost the whole town from up here. Papa wanted us home by 10 because he didn’t want us to be in danger but now it’s 11:00 and now 11:30…good thing we are on Haitian time. It’s time to go, but nothing in me wants to. I feel so close with these three at this time. I just love them. I am so grateful. I am so grateful.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Pray for Healing

Walking into the hospital to pray over the little girl and boy again. Bringing some blankets tied with pretty red ribbons. As we walk through the first hallway the little girls mother is sitting outside holding a little tiny baby. I tell her I'm going to steal it away from her and so she hands it to me. So small. She tells me it's her cousins baby and that her cousin is sick. Beck and I walk into the room with the two kids first. We give them their new blankets and toothbrushes. The little girl is all smiles and the little boy still lays there without emotion but we can see a little glimmer in his eyes. Still holding this baby the girls mother leads Beck and I into the next room. Here lies the baby's mother on a fly infested hospital bed. The flesh is rotting off her left leg and you can see her whole shin bone. 

The smell is overwhelming. I walk over to her and ask her what happened. She said her leg was swollen and started itching. She itched it and itched it and puss and water started coming out of a little scab on her thigh. The infection had started from the inside out and now her leg is rotting. The doctors say they are going to cut her leg off. What can I do? What is God going to do? Has the infection spread through her entire body by now? Is she going to live? What will happen to this one month old baby in my arms? 

She can't produce any milk. Beck and I run downtown and pick enough food up for the two rooms of people and some baby formula. Her cousin is not going to have the time to take care of a newborn baby on top of trying to work in the market and take care of her daughter. This is something I'm going to have to pray about. Beck and I go back into the room and pay for her medicine. I am snuggling this baby and it's time to pray over this woman. For the first time in a long time I feel hopeless and like my faith is nonexistent. Beck looks at me and says to pray for healing. I can't. I don't believe God will heal her. I pray for it anyway even though my heart is hopeless. I lay my hand on her knee and can barely breathe through the smell of rotting flesh. It takes me back to right after the earthquake. The smell of all those bodies. This is a different smell though because she's still alive. She lays on this bed covered in flys as the skin rots off her living breathing body. We sing over her and she smiles. A faint little smile. When it comes time to go I give the baby back to her cousin and tell them I will be back Tuesday. It's Sunday now. Tuesday seems so far away. At least the baby had food and the mom can get her medicine. Lord help me. Please heal this woman even though I lack the faith or make it possible that we can find a doctor to do the job. Whoever is reading this. If you're feeling called to donate to this woman's surgery. Please do so. Please.

Friday, January 20, 2017

More Adventures in Jeremie

Beautiful morning. Perfect sleep. Manman has made Aunt Beck and I some tea from her herb garden. We eat corn meal with beans and peanut butter for breakfast. Things you would never think to be tasty suddenly become delicious in this country. Today is the day to buy my bike. Papa drives us to the Western Union to pick up cash flow and then our journey begins. An hour and a half he says. Sweet. That's nothing. 

The first half of the road is awesome. Paved and smooth. The roads get worse and I am sitting on the metal bars so the three of us can fit. After an hour we are ready for a stretch. My hips are going to dislocate haha. The rocks and ruts are bad. Aunt Beck and I laugh so hard at every bump. Every rut and pothole that jars us along the way. I love being uncomfortable. I think it's one of the funniest things. Good stories never start with, "so I was sitting in my recliner." We finally arrive in Bonmon and I am overjoyed. I'm ready to stroll into this moto shop and pick my bike out. Black. I've been picturing it for months now. How cool will I be on an all black bike? So cool. We walk through the door and there is a huge selection of Seven bikes. Three styles. This is a bike shop in Haiti. No black bikes. However, in the style I wanted, there stands a shiny gold bike with orange flames. 

Tacky? Yes. Totally me? Yes. How ridiculous of me to think I'd be so cool on an all black bike. Gold it is. Cheesy? Bring it on. 

Signing the papers. I'm so excited and so is Papa. Aunt Beck loves the gold and we laugh hard about it. I get three helmets with it along with some knee and elbow pads and a couple of neon extra large t-shirts. Sweet. Day made. Papa promptly straps my new belongings to all areas of his bike and we are ready to hit the road. A large group has now come to watch the blan drive away on her bike. Please don't crash. Please don't stall. Please don't hit any of these kids in their school uniforms. This road is terrible so it's really breaking me in. Good start! It feels smooth. So smooth. Rocks. Gravel. Dust. Potholes. Mud. I make it through it all without crashing! Aunt Beck drives with me on the good roads and we laugh about the buses passing, coating us in layers of dust and exhaust. Aunt Beck says, "You may as well wrap your lips around an exhaust pipe." The wind. My braids. Aunt Beck. Gold bike. The sun is bright and beautiful. This day has started out awesome and we are almost in Jeremie. As we reach the bottom of the mountain I stare up at the almost vertical hill. This will be the test. Can I actually make it up this hill? Papa tells me after the trip from Bonmon he thinks I can do it. So, with his encouragement I start. It's steep but I'm making it. Little by little!! I make it all the way home. Manman is surprised and relieved. It wasn't half as bad as I thought it would be. I made it and I'm so happy.

Thank you Jesus for keeping us safe

Sitting in a circle with a group of beautiful children. Little hands. Perfect feet. Precious smiles. Beck holds a sweet little girl who quickly falls asleep in her arms. 

I have started to play oslè with them and they love laughing at me. Oslè is a game similar to jacks but played with goat knee caps. You have to flip the little knees to different sides while you throw another knee in the air and then catch it. It's hard to explain but the game is so much fun to play. Hours pass like minutes. I am so grateful to be here with them. Holding them and loving every stitch of their sweet selves. 

Some are wild and bad and smile at me with mischievous grins. Others are shy and barely want to look at me. Lotez sings us sweet songs. Luckily for me I grew up playing oslè with my brother Zeke and we are fairly decent. It makes me miss him and wish he was here to play with us. Beck tries her hand at oslè and the kids laugh and love that she's playing with them. It's hard to play oslè with a lap full of kids but we're managing. I started out with none but am now covered. Is today perfect so far? I would have to say it absolutely is. These sticky, dirty, sweaty and absolutely perfect moments. These moments where my heart is settled and exactly where it should be. Where two hours of holding children passes so quickly.

Walking into the Digicel store to get Beck some minutes for her phone. As soon as we walk in, a huge rock is thrown through the glass door. Glass shatters everywhere and the other people inside are immediately angry. 

A man walks up to me and gets in my face and says "aren't you afraid of me?" I get in his face and say, "Do I look like I'm afraid of you?" He backs off and walks out. One of the leaders calls me to see how I am and I tell him the story. He immediately shows up on a moto and says that the group in the ghetto wants to see me and meet Aunt Beck. Chairs are pulled up in front of a little shop with an ocean view. And we all chat and talk. He is very deep and talks about his love for his people and his country. It's a powerful conversation. He has so much on his mind. He said "I treat everyone as a leader. The poor and the rich because when you treat everyone as a somebody that's what they become." He is gentle but strong. His presence demands respect. I'm glad he got to meet Beck and I'm glad she got to meet him. Another adventure. Another awesome day.

Monday, January 16, 2017


I'm here in Carrefour with Thamar. We talk and she tells me how worried she was for me. We visit Poppyseed (Dad) at the hotel and from there we leave for a sweet little bakery. It is Thamar's favorite place so we get little things to celebrate. I am ready to go back to Jeremie. I am already missing my peaceful mountainside. It is wonderful to see Thamar though. She calls me her Solda (soldier) and has me help her with little things. I sit with Poppyseed in a lounge area at a hotel. He asks me how many leaders I met with the first night I spoke with them. I take a second to recount them in my mind. 12. There were 12. Poppyseed then reminds me of a dream I had had about a week before I came to Haiti. The dream had woken me up in the morning and I felt so strongly about it that I had immediately called my mom and dad to tell them my dream.

In my dream I had walked outside of Native's house where 12 large black wolves sat in a circle. The leader of the wolves came and spoke to me and she said, “If you want to run with us you’re going to have to leave your knife.” I said, “How do I know I can trust you? How do I know you will not kill me in the woods?” She said, “You’re just going to have to trust us.” I pondered it for a moment and went back in the house to leave my knife. It was a knife I had bought in Alaska this summer while visiting my Aunt Heidi. I returned to the outdoors and started running with them through the woods. As I ran with them I became a wolf. What is so incredible about this dream is this; When I was going to meet with the leaders I had my knife with me and Justa told me to leave it so they would know I trust them. I arrive at the meeting and there are 12 in the group. One of the main leaders is a woman and she is the one who came to speak with me as soon as I walked in. She told me I was just going to have to trust them. I ended up running with them and therefore became one of them. My dream came to pass. Powerful. After Poppyseed made the connection I realized it was God's way of telling me, God's way of reminding me that He is with me. He knows the past the present and the future. He knew what was going to happen. He gave me affirmation through the dream.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

"You Were Born For Such a Time as This."

Today is day two of waiting. Gun shots this morning. Hiding. Mackenzy, Jacques and I wake up and pray together. We listen to worship music and just sit in the golden sunlight I am not allowed to be seen outdoors. If God is trying to teach me patience this would be the way to do it. Doing nothing. The worst. Stuck inside. I wash dishes, clean, help cook and organize my things over and over. I make another coconut shell necklace. Every motorcycle we hear, every gunshot, has everyone in a panic. I feel calm and prepared. If I am out of anyones site for too long I hear my name being called. I like my space on the roof. I think about the people at the hospital. I told them I would be back the next day. Another day. It was a little chilly on the roof last night. I am so grateful for Justa and Jacques and Mackenzy. They are my heroes. Justa makes sure I am kept busy with chores around the house and Jacques and Mackenzy bring news from town. They sit and talk with me and make me laugh so hard. Mackenzy says he was in town and someone came up and asked him where I am staying. He said I’m safe and left. So they know I’m here, they just don’t know where. More blan leave every day and I guess theres only a handful left. My wonderful friends Natasha and Rose hike all the way up here from town to visit me. I am so happy to see them. I’ve missed them. We talk about Guy Phillipe and their opinion and mine. They say they miss me and are ready for this to be over so I can visit them. What wonderful friends I have. I am grateful. So so grateful. Mackenzy and Jacques come to me with some news. All the blan have left. They are all at the UN base waiting to fly to Port. I am the last one here. This could go either way. Either everyone will be looking for me because they know I haven’t left and I will be a sitting duck or, they will think I’ve left and I am safe. Do I want to hide up here for another week? Will it pass? What should I do? I don’t feel endangered at all. Do I go to Port? My cousin lives about 4 hours from here and she said I could stay with her. I’d still have to fly to Port and then she’d pick me up there and take me to her house. I wish I had her skin color and hair. I wish I didn’t look so white. Am I putting my friends in danger by staying here? It is getting late and the wind has picked up. I won’t be sleeping on the roof tonight.

Another night. Jacques and Mackenzy are always with me. Their lives are at risk. Hiking that mountain every day. Being with me. I am grateful for them. The weather is bad and getting worse. Heavy winds. Rain on and off. The tarp snaps and we can hear the tin being ripped off the roof. This is quite the storm. All of our most precious things are in plastic bags. Justa pounds on the door yelling with her arms full of dishes. We all work together to move everything to a safe place. We re-arrange the beds and make beds all over the floor in my room so we can all sleep together safe and comfortably.

The roof in my room only has a few leaks so everyone will stay dry for the most part. We all laugh so hard and can barely hear one another over the wind and the rain. Justa yells at the kids falling asleep and tries to wake them up. I ask her why she is doing that and she says “We will all fall asleep together. One person can’t fall asleep before another.” I tell her she’s annoying and to let them sleep. We laugh ourselves into exhaustion and try to sleep through the storm. 

Morning comes and Fre Ejen's little daughter comes to snuggle with me. She is cold and so I scoop her up into my bed and she cuddles on my chest. This moment. This absolutely perfect moment.

I rub her little hands and tuck a warm blanket around her. She used to cry when she saw me because I’m white but now she visits me every day. She is beautiful. She is in a little ball and I just hold her and talk to her. I sing her a little song and she smiles up at me. If huge storms meant I could hold her every morning, I’d pray for a storm every day.

The house is a complete mess. The tarps are shredded and whipping up into the sky barely still attached. Everything is muddy and soaked. I help Fre Ejen outside nail boards over the spaces cut out of the walls where windows will someday be. The wind threatens our ladder so we take turns steadying it while the other patches. We wash dishes and hang clothes to dry. We all work together until we are finished. Fre Ejen and the guys have fixed the roof with the leftover tarps. The tin that ripped off is set aside in a pile for another day. Mackenzy has things to do so Jacques and I hang around the house.

My heart is heavy. I wish I could do something. I am sitting here. Its been days. Hiding. Waiting. Worrying for the safety of my friends protecting me. I pray. I have an idea. I don’t know if it will work. One of my all time favorite books in the bible is Esther. She stood up for her people and her country even though she could be killed. She listened and she acted. She did what she knew was right no matter what might happen. “You were born for such a time as this.” I believe that we are all born for such a time as this. Every single day, to stand up for what's right no matter what. No matter the cost. If I go and speak with the leaders of these protests and it goes well, then I will be safe and the other plan (white people) will be safe. If it doesn’t go well, I could be severely hurt or maybe even killed. Guy Philippe might be all that the media says he is, but he is also a hero to the people here in Jeremie. He has led them and saved lives because of his bravery. Whether he was carrying drugs 12 years ago or not, does not change the way the people of Jeremie feel about him. He was to be their senator in four days when he got extradited. I want to stand with them. I want to show them that Americans aren’t against them and I want the people in the states to know he wasn’t just a drug dealer. I tell Jacques I want to speak with the leaders and tears come into his eyes. I call Poppyseed (Dad) and Behbehghull (Mom) and Aunt Beck and talk to them about this idea. They are for it. I know they are afraid for me because they love me, but they know this could change so many things. They believe in me. I tell Jacques to get all the contacts he can and see if I can meet with them. He makes phone call after phone call and they want to meet with him face to face. He leaves. What if they hurt him for hiding a blan? In less than an hour he calls me back and tells me to get dressed. He said to wear jeans and boots and a jacket. I get dressed and as soon as I’m finished Jacques is back. He takes his jacket off and we switch. Him wearing my hot pink jacket and me wearing his big red one. We walk to the bottom of the hill. It is dark. It is rainy. We meet a motorcycle at the bottom of the hill. I pull the hood over my head and clutch the bottom of it to keep it wrapped around most of my face. We go to an area that I’ve never been in town. It is dark. The buildings we stop in front of are pitch black. No light. This can’t be right. This can’t be where everyone is. We walk up to a door where a guard sits in a chair in front. Jacques asks for the people we are looking for. The guard points to the next door over. There are two big metal doors that are more like the doors to a garage than a building. We enter and are in a room totally empty except for a generator and a small dim lightbulb hanging from a wire. We continue through and there is a long hallway with a light at the end. We walk through the long hallway and into a room full of men sitting in a circle. They are big and strong. Tight t-shirts. Gold chains. A huge beautiful Haitian flag hangs, covering the whole wall. A short haired woman greets us at the door. She is tough. She is like a soldier. She brings us into the hallway and we discuss everything and are brought back into the room. I am not nervous. I am not afraid. I was made for such a time as this. I tell them I want to stand with them. They ask me to join them in the rally the next day and to meet them in the morning. I ask if I can interview them and they tell me to do it tomorrow during the rally. They promise safety over me, all my friends and all my family. I will have three guards tomorrow as well. They say they will not burn things anymore because I tell them it doesn’t do anything but ruin their town. A huge weight is lifted off my shoulders. No more hiding. These people are the high leaders of this protest. God gave me favor with them. Jacques and I leave for home. We pick Mackenzy up and tell him everything that happened. I am nervous for tomorrow. I am relieved at the success of tonight's meeting.

Morning is here. My questions are ready for the interview. Jacques, Mackenzy and I head to town. Mackenzy doesn’t believe in politics or being involved in them so he leaves us. He’s the smart one I suppose Politics in Haiti are really bad. Rioters burned my mom's house in Haiti because Papa Dieudonne was protesting against them. He was big into politics. After that he said he will never join in them again. My jeans are on. Boots laced. Black t-shirt and hair in a french braid. We arrive at Wadson's (Leader) house and he is wearing my same boots and jeans but he has a white t-shirt along with his crew. He immediately sends someone to buy a white shirt for me. This is a rough part of town. Scars don most of these men's faces. Army boots and mohawks. Chains and tight shirts. We start the march outside of his home. I am standing in front with him and his men. Only about a hundred people march behind us. As we march more and more follow. Two hundred. Three hundred. Four hundred. People stare at me. No one kisses and winks at me like they usually do. They just watch me with respect. I am for them. We arrive at the town square and hundreds of people are packed tightly together. Holding signs high and cheering for the freedom of Guy Philippe.

I have never experienced anything like this. We get on a truck and Wadson speaks and sings into the microphone. There are thousands of people following. The march lasts for six hours. Speeches and songs. It is powerful. Everyone stands together.

The march comes to a close and I am given the microphone to interview a senator and other leaders. I am in front of three or four thousand people. I ask my questions. They answer. I tell them I stand with them and that the Americans are not against them. I stand with Guy Philippe. The crowd goes wild. But now, everyone has seen me, everyone knows who I am. I am safe. Our people are safe. I am exhausted and I get on a taxi to go home. The taxi drive says my nickname in town is Solda which translates to soldier. I am not sure if Guy Philippe is as bad as they say he is, but what I do know is something Wadson said into the microphone which was “He was a friend to me. He was a brother to me. He was a father to me. He is my hero and he is my liberator.” He represents bravery for the people of Jeremie. He stood up against Aristide when no one else would. They need him back. They feel like the Americans attacked their sovereignty through the extradition of Guy Philippe. They feel like they are walked on because they are a small country. They will continue to stand up for themselves nonetheless.

I had a very serious meeting at a restaurant with the leaders. We talked for hours. Mackenzy and Jacques helped me when I couldn’t find the words. I love these guys. The committee spoke and said that they will keep us safe, but after Friday they can’t promise my safety. Friday is when Guy Philippe will be judged and they will decide whether he is released or not. I am currently involved in two groups in Haiti. The upper class group that is fighting for Guy Philippe and the ghetto group. There is another group outside of town that gets really wild and they will not listen. They could kill me. The committee asks that I leave for a few days and that I not be here Friday when everyone finds out because it could be really really bad.

I do not feel terrible about leaving now. I have done what I can with the time that I have. Everyone knows me now. My friends and family will be safe when they come down. It has been a very wild last few days. A lot of it does not feel real. I feel like I just watched a movie. God protected me. What I did could have gotten me killed. What Jacques and Mackenzy did could have gotten them killed. However, we tried. I will continue to stand with them, I will just be in Port. For real this time :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Meeting With the Leaders of the Riots

I'm in a meeting with the leaders of the riots (protesting the arrest and extradition of Senator Guy Philippe). It's getting late. This is unreal. Safety for everyone in my family and anyone with me. If I want a personal escort or three to go to Port or anywhere they are for me. They said they are for me. I am going to be walking at the front of the march tomorrow with the three main leaders. Get your contacts ready because videos and interviews are coming. If God is for us then who can be against us?!? I am beyond excited. I will have three bodyguards tomorrow as well. They were elated. I will write more tomorrow. I need my phone charge. Love you. Bye

The Longest Night

The later it gets the more uneasy I feel. I still haven't heard from Mackenzy. The last thing he said was he was in town and there was tear gas and shooting. I am worried. I am sure he is fine. He's probably fine. It's been an hour since I heard anything. Now an hour and a half. Still waiting. Still hiding in my room. We turn the generator off so the lights go out. Two hours pass. I call him and he doesn't answer. Mackenzy shows up at the door. He is here! I immediately feel better. We have decided that I should stay here at Papa Dieudonne's. Jacques and Mackenzy are going to stay here and so is Fre Ejen. I carry my bedding to the roof and lift the ladder so no one will know where I am if they come in and if they start to come up I can crawl down the other side. There is a window that I can slide my foot in as a ledge. It's high up but I have a clear landing area. The stars are my ceiling. 
Bright and sparkling. The moon is beautiful. 

It is 1 am before I can fall asleep. I'm awoken to the dogs growling deeply. Rocks are thrown over the fence and roll on the cement out front. Mackenzy is up in an instant along with Jacques and Justa. We all hold our breath to listen. I can hear Fre Ejen go outside. It sounds like someone is walking around the back side of the house. They said they didn't know who it was but at least it wasn't a group. Every twig that snaps has everyone up. Every dogs bark has my hair standing on end. I feel terrible that everyone in this house has to be awoken because I'm here. I feel good about being on the roof though. I stare at my sparkling ceiling and play escape routes over and over in my mind. I could crawl down the side of the building and go through the neighbors yard. If I step on the tin roof surrounding me it will make noise. No, I can't do that. If I hang on the cement ledge of the house I can inch my way to the back of the house, drop down and run through the bush. Aunt Beck kindly thought of the jumping down into the outhouse hole. Thanks Beck but I'm Praising the Lord it's too small. Sleep will not be happening tonight. Doze off. Wake up. Every sound wakes me with a start and then I hold my breath. It's been a long night but the sun is rising above the mountains turning the sky and ocean to gold. I made it through the night. The sun is rising. The sun is rising.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

"Call Upon Me in Your Time of Trouble."

What a day it has been. We locked the gate and the doors. I am not allowed near the windows. I have been inside all day. The rioters are kidnapping blan (white people). They say since the blan kidnapped their senator they will kidnap the blan. 

They ransacked La Caban where a group of blan were staying, but the blan had enough time to have a helicopter evacuate them. They went though the whole hotel. They also went to an orphanage where they knew blan were staying and stole suitcases and passports. The blan had already left. 

I will stay here until it gets dark. The hours are passing slowly. The rioters and kidnappers are close. The next street over. I can hear them. I can hear their yelling and chanting. We shall see. I am not afraid. Not in the least. My cousin Abby sent me a verse "Call upon me in your time of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me."--Psalm 50:15 She told me to remind Him of His promises. I am thankful for family that rocks. God's got my back. It'll be fine :) My boots are on and ready. I have a bag packed. My knife is in my sock so I can reach down and grab it if need be. Tonight I will sneak out the back and through the trees. What's left of them anyway. I will cross the street and have Mackenzy pick be up on his bike go to Justas house. We will take a back road. The air is tense. Everyone talks quietly. Everyone has a plan. Everyone has an idea. Everyone is helpful. Everyone wants to help me hide and protect me. The man that hauls water up the mountain for Dieudonne came to the gate and said "We love you. We don't want you to be afraid. We will protect you. You have helped us and now we will help you." It is a powerful feeling to have people stand behind you. To care enough about you to want to protect you and be there for you. The sun is almost set and I am preparing my things. Mackenzy will come and he will help me decide what I should do.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Urgent Prayers for Safety

Manman and Papa have left for PAP and Justa has come to stay in the house along with three kids. We drink coffee and talk sitting behind the house. We cut vegetables. Justa and I talk about life, Haiti and food. People and the way they are. God and how he blesses and provides for us. I really like her. I've only known her for four or five years but she is always the same. She takes care of these three children and they're not even hers. They are her family's and they don't have the funds to care for them. She gets a phone call and leaves us. I hear her say she is going to try her best and her voice is stressed. I sneak around the corner to snoop. I am my mother's daughter. I don't always snoop but I felt like I needed to. She is talking about paying someone it seems. She comes back and acts like everything is fine. She hands me a chunk of flabby meat. She says it's delicious and I ask what it is. She responds by saying it is cow stomach. Yum. Nothing like steamy cow stomach for breakfast. At least it's better than the intestines. 

While waiting for things to cook I work on carving a circle out of coconut to make a necklace.

I want to visit the hospital today so when we finish cooking I get my things together to leave. Justa has to go sing for a church so she walks with me. I visit her home and she takes a bucket shower. When she is done a precious man enters her house and is asking for rent. She hasn't payed them since July. She pays around 600 dollars a year for rent. The average salary is 50 dollars a month if you're lucky enough to have a job. She hasn't found work since she worked at the hotel so I know money is tight. She looks at the ground ashamed and says she can't pay it yet but she's working on it. He is kind and says thank you and leaves. I want to pay the whole bill but I won't. I will let this sit until morning and give her what I feel is right. She owes 300 dollars still. We walk down the street and she goes one way to sing and I go another to the hospital. Upon arriving Jacques pulls up on a motorcycle. As we enter the hospital hallway I notice it is fairly quiet which I am thankful for. In the first room there is a little girl laying on a dirty hospital bed. Her leg is swollen and bloody and puss oozes out and onto her sheets. 

I kneel beside her bed and ask if I can pray with her and Jacques and I pray over her. I sing her a song and tears are streaming down her face. I talk to her and tell her she will run again and play with her friends. She doesn't need to be discouraged. God is with her and her family is with her. She needs to stay strong so she can heal faster. I wipe her little tears and tease her that she is spoiled because she gets to lay in bed all day. I get a smile out of her. Walking into the next room a woman lays on a bed staring at the ceiling. Her eyes are hollow and drained. A man sits beside her holding her hand. I ask what happened and he tells me her baby died during the delivery. 

My heart sinks. I can't even begin to imagine her pain. Laying there staring at the ceiling wishing he baby was swaddled and snuggled up next to her. Months of waiting to see its precious face. Her boyfriend holds her so gently. I kneel beside them and sing and sing. Her eyes have a little life in them and she turns to look at me. I sing with all my heart. I sing and pray that God heals her little heart. When it's time to enter the next room, I see that it is full of women, some pregnant and some holding their newborns. They all greet me with huge beautiful smiles and are fighting over who I am going to pray for. I tell them I will pray for all of them and they relax. They depend on prayers. They depend on God. It is so easy for us to not believe in anything in the states because even if we're homeless there are shelters. Even if we have no food there are food banks and food stamps. We sing and pray together. We laugh and I look at their small perfect beautiful babies. I tell them I'm going to steal them away for myself and they tell me I better not. One little girl is 14 and about to have a baby. Another is in labor. She has no one with her. I hold her hand and she squeezes it so tightly. I just squat beside her bed for a long time and sing gently while holding her hand. She moans and tears stream down the side of her face. I will be back tomorrow to check on them. Jacques and I go into the hallway and sit. It's empty and the smallest noise echoes. He starts to sing. At first his voice is quiet and cracks. As we continue to sit and he continues to sing he gets lost in his song and he sings loudly and powerfully. It brings tears to my eyes. I see a different side of him right now. A feel love for God and worship. He finishes his song and we leave the building in silence.

Jacques and I walk down the road and I feel a tension in the air. I can't explain it so I look at Jacques and ask him if he feels it too. He says he does and so we grab a taxi to head downtown. We are heading down a road when all of a sudden hundreds of people are running towards us yelling and screaming and waving pieces of paper in the air. Jacques yells at the driver telling him to turn around the crowd is running straight for us and Jacques is tense. He screams at the driver to hurry up and we drive off into an alley. Jacques tells him to pull over so he can explain to me what is going on. They are protesting for their senator to be set free. Supposedly some blan (white person) took him captive. Jacques says there are rumors that this group will kill blan because they are blaming all blan for what is happening. I want to run with them. Jacques manages to get one of their papers and hands it to me. He says as long as I am standing with them they can't do anything. So we run. We run right into the middle of this insane protest. Hundreds of people sprinting through town. Chanting and waiving anything they can get their hands on. So loud. I can't believe I am in the middle of this. A little hand grabs mine and I look down at a little boy running beside me with a mischievous grin. We are obviously a team now and work together to dodge motorcycles and cars and people. We run and run. I haven't ran for this long since I was a little kid. It feels good. I feel wild and free. The sun has set and lights and flames fill the street. The group running gets bigger and louder and more tense. My adrenaline is pumping. Some Haitians tell me I'm going to get killed and others run beside me telling me they are happy I stand with them. What an experience. Jacques and I hop on a taxi to to the bottom of The mountain and hike from there. I am drenched in sweat and covered in dirt. I shower and rinse off before I take Jacques home. Mackenzy comes to pick us up to take Jacques home. Burning tires litter the streets and the town is covered in thick billowing smoke. Flaming tires block the road to Jacques' house and so he gets off the bike to take a side path. As we drive Mackenzy says "Haitians are passive until they are mad. Then they are like fire." He walks me home and I get ready for bed. What an experience. I've always watched Jose wild rally's but never been a part of one. I am not allowed to leave the house today. The town is fiery and tense and if they see a blan they will take them. I can hear gun shots and wilds roars from town. But don't worry for me. I am sitting in the roof of Papas house on the mountain.

This blan is locked inside today

Thursday, January 5, 2017

He Calls the Stars by Name

Papa makes us spaghetti for the morning. Haitian spaghetti isn't even remotely similar to what we know to be spaghetti. After breakfast we clear out Manman and Papa's bedroom to start painting. It is a beautiful day. Papa mixes the paint with water so it goes farther and we paint their walls.

Papa had things he had to do in town and Manman is out and about so it is just Claeme and I painting. She has been so helpful. She copies everything I do. It's so cute, but I'm not sure if it's a good thing haha. I feel like God continues to put little girls like sisters in my life to give me patience and improve me. I am really starting to love this little Claeme. She works diligently on her painting. The paint is so thin and it looks terrible, but it is what it is.

Papa returns and Claeme and I go to the orphanage. The kids look good and are happy. We talk and laugh and they say they want to go to the beach again. I'll take them one of these days. We walk all over the town. We visit Marie Claude. Claeme is getting tired and so we head home. James and Chancley drive by and pick us up. They give us a ride to the bottom of the mountain and we meet Manman halfway up the hill. I stand outside with Papa and we look up at the stars. I show him the Big Dipper and Orion's Belt. I explain North Dakota and how big and flat it is. There is something about Haiti's sky that is bigger than the North Dakota sky. I ask Papa why I feel like that and he says because Haiti is so small the sky swallows it up and in North Dakota the earth is bigger than the sky. That's exactly how I feel as we stand on this mountain. The sky surrounds me. It swallows me up in its great deep sparkly mass. I look at Papa as he stares at the stars and my heart is full. Holding Claeme's hand all day through town. Making sure she didn't fall.

Manman bringing home fried fish for a treat. Papa always taking the time to talk and to listen. The stars here are so big. So bright. So beautiful. There is no buzz of electricity. Crickets chirp and dogs howl. Life. Isn't it absolutely beautiful? It's moments like these that make me so thankful for living. "Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by name. Because of His great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing." --Isaiah 40:26 Calling each by name. Every single star has a name. A beautiful perfect name. Every single one created just as it should be. Just like every single one of us. Haitians and blan. All created perfectly just as He sees us. Beautiful beautiful people. Everyone has a place. Everyone has a purpose. Not a single one is missing. I love that. God sees us and He is with us. He counts us just as He counts the stars. He knows how many hairs we have on our heads and He has given us a name. So let us get up. Go where we are called. Be where our hearts are because if we really live with purpose, knowing we have a name, knowing we have a place, what can we miss? I love this simple and complex, perfect and tragic life.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

First Day in Jeremie

Another beautiful day. First day waking up in Jeremie. It's much better now than it was. It's beginning to feel like Jeremie again. The trees are green and flowers are everywhere. These trees are so much like the Haitians themselves. It doesn't matter what storm or tragedy knocks them down they will bud. They will bloom. They will stand tall and proud and continue on.

Helping Manman Clanide in the kitchen. We sing and cook. Charcoal smolders. She is teaching me a new song. I balance a neighbor's baby on my knee while using a pilon (mortar and pestle) to mix the garlic, onion and so on together into a paste.

Manman and I squat in the dirt and pick the feathers off of a chicken that was sitting next to me alive just minutes ago. Poor little fella had to get eaten. Fre Ejen came and killed it for Manman Clanide. She doesn't have the heart to. I suppose when there aren't any men around this will be my job. As long as I don't give it a name I don't mind butchering things. Life is simple when you live simply and I absolutely love the perfect simplicity of this morning.

Today is a day for visiting. I forgot my medical bag and was reminded quite a few times to bring it next time. Everyone is well. They have made so much progress. It was amazing to see shiny tin on my friends' roofs. New cement. What a wonderful thing. Thanks to you and to God. Papa Dieudonne finished a beautiful room for me. He even made me a bed! I'm going to be spoiled I swear. I have a little place to put my clothes. A roof over my head. I am just so happy.

I am laying here in my bed. It doesn't smell like dead animals anymore! I have a fever. My nose is running and so I'm holding a tissue under it. It's almost 2 am and I still haven't slept. I can barely swallow. I wore myself down and now I'm sick. I should be ok by morning...except it's 4 am now. Nose is still running.

Today I am resting. I hate resting. Manman Clanide made me some tea. It seemed to help. I have had a fever on and off and can't swallow very well. Delice came to visit. Papa Dieudonne and Manman Clanide went to town so it is just Claeme and I for the day. She plays dolls with the neighbor girls. I rest until late afternoon but I am going stir crazy so I go to town with Mackenzy. Manman Clanide doesn't have any minutes on her phone and neither do I. There is an ATM here and it works! I'm not sure if this is a good or a potentially bad thing for me I'll just have to keep it under control. We go to the Digicel store and they put a plan for a month on my phone. Can I even explain my joy at having a one way ticket? I am so at ease. Darkness comes and we walk up the mountain to Papa's. Jacques is there to greet me. He can't wait for Aunt Beck to be here and neither can I. I am feeling better now. I don't have a fever anymore. I will get some sleep tonight and go to the orphanage tomorrow. Night everyone!

The small joys of Haiti: I enter my room to find two baby goats jumping on my suitcase and roughhousing. They were the cutest kids. I shoo them out.

Papa Dieudonne asked where Claeme (7) was and Manman Clanide said "she went next door to buy you a beer." I laughed so hard. I love the freedom here. Claeme is not a drunk because she can buy beer whenever she wants. She is not sneaking around. She is just a kid buying beer for her Papa. When we don't make things a big deal no one wants to "break the rules" to do them.

Geckos climb on my walls. I enter the bathroom and there is a huge cockroach nestled on top of my bar of soap. Thank you Kayla for making this soap for me. I love it...and apparently so does Mr. Cockroach.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A New Year

If I'm being honest, I wasn't ready to come back. I have had a crazy past two weeks of traveling, visiting family, Christmas shopping etc. I needed a couple days of rest, but After looking at the cost of changing my flight I decided to just go. I get on the plane and my seat is in the very last row. I'm surrounded by loud Kreyol and my heart is immediately content. I sleep for the full three-hour flight from Atlanta to PAP after getting up at 3 am with Native and my youngest brother, Bear, to drive to the airport. Landing. From snow to palm trees. I suppose I won't be needing my flannel. Thamar (my best girl friend in Haiti) picks me up at the airport to take me to her house. Thamar and I haven't seen each other for a year and I am so happy to be with her again. She is doing really well. She is confident. She is beautiful. She is strong. She is a single mother. She has her own business. She can cook better than most anyone I know. She is so kind. One of the most genuinely kind and loving people I know.

Everyone knows her and tells me how wonderful she is. I am honored to be her friend. I truly admire her. It is the eve of Haiti's Independence Day and Americas New Year's Eve. Thamar has a lot of cooking to do and I join in to help. We are both really tired but we are doing our best. We talk and talk as we slice meat and smash bañan peze.

The music is pounding and as the night goes on it gets crazier and crazier. The streets are filled with hundreds of people and everyone wants food. Thamar, two other girls and I are running the kitchen and the waitressing. Of course I would get roped into this. It makes me laugh. The kitchen is thick with the smell of frying meats and plantain.

The music is so loud we have to yell just to hear one another. The doors are wide open and there is a constant flow of people. Everyone is wearing fun clothes. Everyone loves Thamar's food and rightly so. I am in Kafou which is one of the most dangerous areas in Haiti. I don't feel endangered at all. I feel safe and content. I just feel comfortable and like this is all second nature. It is wild here tonight. So wild. I love it. I am tired though and now after taking my bucket shower and writing it is almost 2 am. Goodnight.

4 am comes early. My eyes are burning. Thamar wakes me up because she said the bus has almost arrived. Jacques is waiting for us. We rush into the car and are on our way. She has been working all night and hasn't gone to bed yet. She's so tired. Poor thing. Hopefully she will get some rest soon. We arrive just after 4 and I am still sitting on the bus. It's 5:30. I wouldn't have minded another hour and a half of sleep, but I got to see Katy and I'm happy for that. Sitting on the bus. Totally packed with people. You thought this bench seat was made for two? Think again. Four of us squeeze together on this bus seat.

The diesel fumes are thick. I look out my window and can see the shadow of the man fixing the suitcases on top of the bus. His shadow is dark and strong against the worn once white building doors. He moves and organizes everything with ease. There is something so powerful about his shadow against this building. Konpa, traditional Haitian dance music, blasts from seemingly every direction. People are still celebrating. We are finally leaving. 5:40. Nice. The breeze is wonderful. Even if it is smoky and dirty, it's still way better than the diesel fumes.