FC: The Haiti 13 (plus 6) Fauche, Haiti ~ June 15-29, 2011
1: Haiti Team June 15-29, 2011 Todd & Beth TerAvest Taylor TerAvest Tristyn TerAvest Ty TerAvest Jessica Furrow Beth Thielking Steve Elms Norm Fryer Mark Bunch Becky & Jeff Stice Cory Jackson
2: . Well, we're in the end game at this point, and to be honest it is a little weird being this prepared already. Yesterday was our commissioning service and 'packing party' so now it seems like we are just playing the waiting game. At the commissioning service I was reminded that I have the privilege of pastoring an amazing church. The amount of prayers and support we have already received is quite humbling, and there is definitely great comfort in the fact that we will be bathed in prayer the entire time we are there. Thanks again you guys are AWESOME & remember you are a very important part of this as well!. | June 13th - 20 hours and counting ... | I also find myself with a spirit of great anticipation about what God is going to do in and through us. I am looking forward to watching how my kids absorb and process what they see and experience, and anxious to see how their lives are forever changed.
3: I look forward to those long talks with fellow members of my church family that always happen in the evenings of trips like this, and having a ring-side seat to watch God working on each of them. Also, I'm excited to again visit the country that has been a part of my heart since my earliest memories, and to support my sister and her family in their ministry. At this point my only additional prayer, is that God will use us and this blog to some way bless and inspire you the reader. I know many of you had expressed a desire to go with us, but it just didn't seem to work out. Well, I hope that in a small way this will let you experience just a portion of what we are doing. Beginning Wednesday we will be attempting (depending on weather, Internet, etc.) to write something daily. This will include what we have done specifically that day, prayer requests, pictures (if the band-width holds) and at least one team members musings. God bless, keep praying & we'll "see" you in Haiti! -Pastor Todd & the Haiti 13
4: June 16th -"Haiti 13" in Cap We Made it to Ft. Lauderdale last night around 11:00 pm, grabbed our 700 lbs of luggage and went to the hotel for a 4 hour nap, then got up at 3:30 am to catch the flight to Cap Haitian. We got to the terminal 2 hours early only to sit and wait, but we are learning patience. Not only was our luggage weighed, but all carry-ons and all people as well. I guess we made the weight, although, our bags did not arrive until the next flight into Haiti. Kris and Cory were at the airport and had arranged for our transportation to the compound. However, since we had 2 hours to wait for the plane to come with our luggage, we toured downtown Cap Haitian. Oh my goodness, seeing and smelling the city for the first time from the back of a truck was like nothing I have ever experienced before! | Around here it is very common to see mopeds with three or more riders and a slaughtered animal on the back. The garbage is piled into the streets and burned, and the smell permeates every place you go. Our first stop was a Wesleyan church and school. It reminded me of a parking garage divided into small compartments and crammed with only the very basics for schooling. The kids wear school uniforms that are color coded by age group. Most buildings don't have windows, but simple mesh or wrought iron covers on the openings. It will take some getting used to being so out in the open. After that, we walked through the market and went to a local store where the owner was very gracious, and allowed us access to his roof-top terrace. There we were able to sit and rest with some locally grown bananas and water while looking down on the market. The market was basically ally style with much traffic from people and cars. Never have I felt so out of place! Apart from being a minority we were looked at with curiosity by most vendors who hoped to make a good sale.
5: People were elbow to elbow and at one point our guide simply disappeared into the crowd offering us a brief opportunity to get closer to God before he reappeared. Then it was back to the airport by the grace of God all bags arrived in tact. It was a two hour trek in the truck to the compound where Kris and Cory live. Bumpy, pot hole filled roads back in the states are nothing compared to this! Picture us standing, clinging to an overhead steel pipe or the sides of the truck, whatever we can hold onto as we make our way through town, and then through the mountain roads dodging what can only be described as craters in the â€œroads€. Quite the adventure Finally we made it to the compound, and had lunch at the Thede's house. We were served some delicious food, most of which was made here in Haiti, and some of which is grown right on their compound. After that we got an opportunity to take a nap then toured the grounds and gardens. -Beth Thielking, Steve & Becky
6: June 17th - Great Day Early risers today were Norm and Steve, just after the rooster crow. The rest of us started with a great breakfast of oatmeal and cinnamon rolls made by Cory Thede. After a meeting about projects that needed to be done we got a tour of the school while the children were in class. Most of the kids were taking final exams. All the children and teachers allowed us take their pictures while they graciously posed with smiling faces. While waiting for a load of laundry (which takes 4 hours to do) Beth, Beth, and Becky with direction by Kris decided to take on the task of prepping the walls in the hospital rooms for new paint. So, with a knife, a brush, and a scraper in hand, they started scraping all the walls to remove the old paint and chunks of plaster. Once it was decided that most of the tools made too much 'â€œnails on the chalkboard'€ noise, we switched to machetes, yes the large knives. We were soon joined and helped by Jessica and Taylor.
7: This afternoon when it started to rain, there was some down time before dinner. Todd, Cory, Mark, Tristyn, Ty, Eli and Anna decided to play some American football with the Haitian children. The kids enjoyed piling on top of the guys, first Cory then Mark. When Mark was down his shorts were down also and young Anna kept telling him to pull them up, but there were so many kids on top, he could only laugh. Jessica, Beth, and Taylor all were taught to play Haitian patty-cake (or something similar) with the girls in the gazebo. We finished the day with a good dinner of left-overs and some very yummy home-made banana bread. -Becky, Jeff & Cory
8: June 18th - Ty's Birthday Our third day in Haiti was a productive day. We got two of the screen doors built and painted for the patient rooms in the clinic. All we need to do is put the screen on and re-hang them. Jeff got two new lights put up in the generator room. After a lunch of fried chicken with rice and beans six of the guys went to the school to remove old chalk boards so we can build new ones that will also serve as room dividers. After that we went for a very enjoyable walk down to the river. When we got back we had Ty’s birthday dinner of pizza and pineapple with cake for desert. The interaction with the Haitians has been very fun, they are so interested in all of us and just love to play and talk with us. -Mark Bunch | Yes, another beautiful and hot day here. Steve and I rolled out early to seal/ prep the roof of the laboratory. While up on the roof, I was treated with hymns being sung by a local womens group meeting to worship. In addition to those projects mentioned by Mark, we began to shore up a cement column supporting the garage/tool shed that was leaning after being damaged by a delivery truck. Plus, we did some termite treatment and painting on the doors we're reconstructing. The ladies continued their work of scrapping and wall prep for the hospital patients’ rooms. A good day! I am so moved by the circumstances of the people here. Today we had the opportunity to work alongside some Haitians, and they seemed genuinely appreciative of our efforts and our being here.
9: The people want to help and assist with anything they can, and most remarkable for me is the fact that despite their circumstances, they seem to be at peace and content. This has been demonstrated in their kind, accepting, and gracious treatment of us. Finally, we had the opportunity tonight to walk through the river valley. A beautiful mountain with a meandering river. Jenner (one of the men who works for Cory) was our guide, and proudly showed us his garden. Which actually is where he has his crops planted. Bananas, peanuts, tomatoes, and beans. Kris & Cory’s work is evident. The smile on his face confirms the pride he takes in his family and work. Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts. The whole team certainly feels your presence here by our sides. - Norm
10: June 19th - Suffering for Jesus! On the fourth day of being in beautiful Haiti, the sweet thirteen spent the morning at the beach. It was a rather far trip in the truck that bumped up and down every second, but we finally got there. The man that was at the gate was charging us money to just go swimming in the ocean for a couple hours, because they had cleaned up the beach and they didn't want it to get dirty. It cost about 80 cents American money for each person, but kids were free. When we finally got in, we slathered up with the sunscreen and went running into the water, well at least most of us did. The kids went to search for coral reefs and fish. All the men went to play Frisbee, while the girls went and sat by the side of the beach. After a while the girls went for a walk and Anna decided to go with them to look for shells. They had just stopped to turn around, when a young Haitian man who had been watching them grabbed the goggles off of Anna’s head and ran off with them! | Taylor was searching for shells, when she found a sand dollar that turned into 24 sand dollars after a fruitful search. She had more than she could carry. It was pretty cool, and the best part was they were all alive and green! Then, Taylor and Todd found a coral reef with tons of little colorful fish blue, red, black and white and a lot more. They took turns driving down with the last pair of goggles to see what they could find. They ended up finding a crab shell and two other beautiful shells. We were just leaving when Todd saw a man with a carved walking stick. It was for sale so he bargained with the man and got a new souvenir. When we got back we ate lunch, got cleaned up and then a souvenir guy showed up with a bunch of treasures for sale.
11: There were bracelets, globes, paintings, chess boards and more. Each member of the team bought at least one item if not more. After we were finished shopping the boys went to work making doors and putting them up for the hospital rooms. The girls did dishes and laundry and played with the kids Tomorrow will be another awesome hot day... Good night everyone enjoy your air-conditioned houses! - Taylor and Anna
12: June 20th - Great Day of Worship Today we enjoyed worshiping with our Haitian brothers and sisters during a 2 hour church service. Even though it was in another language the pastors sermon was right on! The 2 songs our group sang went pretty well with Beth Thielking accompanying us on the flute. I read a greeting to the church in Creole, and even avoided making a fool out of myself (while practicing I kept mispronouncing words and saying something like I wished courage on their laundry). We also got to present a saxophone to the pastor and the church. In the afternoon, we attended the kids club that meets on campus. We brought little toys for 450 kids, but over 600 showed up. Unfortunately, we couldn't give any of those toys away today though each person that attended (us included) was given a bag of popcorn, a pack of cookies, and some candy. There was a lot of music, and we joined the kids in a parade through the neighborhood. We were introduced and happily welcomed and even got a special song (Here I am to Worship) dedicated to, and sang for us by an 11 year old. We also introduced them to the monkey puppet today with mixed results. Some kids loved it and some kids had a look of terror on their faces. Pray for us and our puppet show, that whatever God intends to communicate is received. We want to have fun, but also communicate something much bigger.
13: I also want to share with you what an awesome group of people the team is. I absolutely love the way everyone has been spending time with the Haitian children. The Haitian young people and kids are like sponges who want to play, practice their English, and just hang out with us. During kids club Steve, Mark and I all got to have time with little ones on our laps. It is an awesome privilege to show God’s love in this kind of way. I don't think it can ever get old. One of the things the director of the kids club asked us was to remember the children in our prayers. Please join us in praying that God would use our time here to show His love to the Haitian people in a very real way. Tomorrow the girls will continue the scraping/painting, and the guys will begin one or two of our major projects (roof, benches, school patricians or replacement of clinic awning). We are ready to get our “claws” into these and are happy that all of the necessary supplies came in yesterday. - Pastor Todd
14: June 21st - Hot, Hot ... HOT!! Today started out with a dog fight at about two in the morning outside of our humble abode... every dog in the area joined in with their encouraging barks, howls and growls. Once that ruckus settled the roosters decided it was time for their morning crowing! It was a very hot and muggy day but we persevered. Todd, Jeff, Steve, and Norm worked on an overhang for shade at the clinic. It is looking fantastic, but the men were a little frustrated with the fact that nothing seems to be square, in fact it is bothering some of them more than others (bet you can guess who). Mark and Cory worked on making benches for the school classrooms - hopefully those were square! The ladies began the morning with laundry, which we do every day because it takes an hour and a half per load, and nothing will dry on the clothes line after about 3pm because of the high humidity. We then started back on our scraping project at the clinic. In case we weren't specific before we are prepping some patient rooms for new paint. We started on two last week and were so excited to get the blue layer of paint off only to be crushed when told that the chalky white layer underneath needed to be removed also.
15: Currently, some of the men folk are showering, and us gals are sitting outside the Thede’s house relaxing, and the kids and a few of the guys are playing with the Haitian kids. We are quite the spectacle here. The children gather throughout the day watching and waiting for one us to make the first move and then they can't seem to get enough of us. Each one of us 13 has a unique perspective and the impact of this trip is very individual. My biggest prayer is that somehow on our return we can give you a small glimpse of our experiences, and how God has used them to grow and shape us. We all agree though, that no matter how hard we try we will not be able to explain this trip adequately. | These are 10 by 10 foot rooms with just one small window. At least three of us were working in each room with 90 plus temperatures, and humidity that you've never experienced in Michigan. Needless to say we were excited when we finished the walls this afternoon. In celebration ,Kris just announced we are having Key lime pie tonight! | We are still healthy and there have been no major boo boos. The food has been awesome and the cold showers delightful! Continue your prayers and if you would like to pray laryngitis on the roosters and dogs that would be much appreciated as well! -Beth Thielking
16: Today was a day where both the guys and the girls had a feeling of accomplishment from finishing projects. Todd and Steve finished putting up an awning around the clinic out of four different colors of corrugated fiberglass. This will provide both shade and shelter from rain for the waiting patients. As for the girls, we were finally able to paint the patient rooms in the clinic after several long days of scraping. All four rooms had two coats of paint on the walls by 4pm thanks to some help from Norm, Mark, and Cory in the afternoon. It has been interesting observing members of this group and learning about each others personalities. We have seen who can't stand the slow pace of some jobs, who is a perfectionist, and who has no problem taking an hour rest time each day after lunch! | June 22nd - Finishing Projects
17: Last night in devotions we discussed how despite our differences we all bring something unique to the team. My perspective on this trip has been a little different because I was in Haiti the most recently (just three years ago). As such, I was not shocked by the extreme differences in culture, heat, and smell the way some of the others did. Now that it's been almost a week since we stepped off the airplane in Cap Haitian everyone seems to be adjusting well to the weather (doesn't mean we like it), the schedule, and the uniqueness of Haitian culture. | There are several children on this compound and every day before dinner we've had time to play and hang out with them. We have learned who knows English because they love to practice with us. Most of the kids know our names, and it's so fun to hear them greet us as we walk around working during the day! Even the kids who don't know English still enjoy spending time with the members of our team. | We've discovered lots of things that we can do with them despite the language barrier such as: teaching the kids American football, playing Frisbee, throwing water balloons, playing jacks with rocks, and clapping games. Our youngest team member, Ty, wants you to know he enjoys chasing lizards, and even rescued one from the mouth of Anna’s cat yesterday! Tristyn reports that he has made many new friends among the Haitian children through water balloon fights. Thanks for continuing to read and leave comments for us! - Jess
18: The team enjoyed a nice evening of cool breezes after a hefty thunderstorm rolled in after dinner last night. Many of us even had to cover up with something to sleep, which has been unheard of up until now! Even though the sleeping weather was better, the neighborhood dogs were restless, so there was much noise with the dogs fighting. This morning was market day in Port Margot, so I headed out with Cory, Todd, Beth, Jess, Taylor and Tristyn. It was quite an adventure. Cory took us to the bakery in town, where the owner gave us the grand tour. We walked into a gigantic barn where workers were kneading bread on a belt-driven machine; the dough was formed into small loaves then loaded into a huge kiln oven for baking. After that we were shown to a back room where ginger cakes were being prepared, and the batter poured into giant muffin tins. The owner told us to stop by on our way back and the breads would be ready, it smelled so good, I could hardly wait. | The market is hard to describe, but I would say it is similar to a farmers market only 10 times bigger with everything from dried fish, to sea salt, to vegetables, and flip-flops. Cory had his list of things we needed- two pair of shoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, rice, eggs, and carrots so he guided us through. We were quite the spectacle being the only “blancs” (white/ foreign people) in town, but everyone was very nice to us. Then we stopped back at the bakery to pick up our fresh bread right out of the oven, and ate a few bites on our way back to the compound. All the food here has been wonderful! Another busy work day for all of us. There are always challenges here with the projects, but we persevere... | June 23rd - Haiti 13 plus 6 Adventures
19: Power has been a problem today because the main generator broke down, and the government power only comes on intermittently. Jeff says he knows what part is needed, but they can't get it here until next week. So, we re-group and move on to another project. Benches are being made for the school, but without power it is a bit slow going because Mark, Jeff and Cory had to cut boards by hand. Pretty exhausting in this heat! However, Steve, Todd, Norm were able to start on a roofing project for a school building today. Have to go get ready for dinner. Fresh banana shakes tonight! We miss everyone, but are having an amazing experience. Please continue to pray for our safety and good health, and special prayers for the additional government power, and that all our equipment gets fixed or stays working. Blessings to all of you. -Beth Thielking.
20: We awoke to another beautiful morning, but it did not take long for the hot and sticky to set in. Our routine starts with laundry, like every day since we arrived. Today however, we did some hand washing in tubs out back to try to get more of the mountain of dirty clothes clean we have learned whole new meaning of the word perspire. Jeff, Cory and Mark continued their work on the benches for school, while Norm, Steve, and Todd worked on the roof of one of the school buildings. Although, Norm said that Todd was causing him to break into spontaneous prayer because of his acrobatics on the roof beam... The ladies continued our painting project, and have successfully completed four hospital rooms and have only a little touch up left to do in the nurses’ room. We also want to stencil some inspirational words in Creole on the walls before we leave. In the afternoon, a group of us went out into the neighborhood behind the compound and gave Moringa plants to people as Kris prayed for them. | June 24th - Extreme Heat & Extreme Rain
21: Moringa is a tree that has very nutritional leaves. It is like a vitamin supplement. Kris and Cory have been distributing a lot to their neighbors. We had a whole group of Haitian children leading us down the paths to their houses and the houses of their friends. It is hard to believe that 10 or more people can live in one little home. Yet everyone was thankful and hospitable toward us as we delivered them plants. We ate dinner right after a hard evening rain, so we may not have this posted online tonight - the Internet definitely depends on the weather. Everyone is doing fine, I think we are starting to miss home a bit, but we've passed the halfway point and look forward to finishing strong. Rumor has it that there will be over 600 children here on Sunday for kids club to see our puppet show, please pray that we can finish up our script, and what we say translates well to the children!
22: The team got off to a great start today. The rain last night and the coolness of the evening was a welcomed break from the heat. Not even the distant sound of voodoo drums could hinder our jobs for the day. The goal was to get the roof on the new classroom before the heat and sun baked us. Steve, Pastor Todd and I got started around 6:30 this morning. With the help of Mark (showing off his wood cutting skills with just his thumb & knuckle as a guide), Jeff, Cory, and of course our Haitian helpers Genner and Evon we completed the roof by 11:00 a.m. The heat did take its toll on us (don't tell Kris), but we're glad and feel quite blessed to have another project done. The daily chore of laundry continues to be shared by the “non-male” members of our team (given the conditions of our clothing after a day of work, NO WAY would the guys have the courage or stomach to wash the laundry!). Beth TerAvest & Becky coated some of the new school desks & benches with termite preventative, while Beth Thielking & Jessica began stenciling some words on the newly painted clinic rooms. In her spare time Beth also mended some curtains and hung them in the patient rooms. | June 25th - Just Another Day in Paradise
23: This afternoon we had the opportunity to expand our project/service task list. I joined Becky and Beth in painting the medical records office here on the compound (our new task). Jeff, Cory, Mark and Steve worked together on putting the school partitions/chalk boards and more student desks/benches together. Beth and Jessica did more stenciling and work in the patient rooms. Things are really coming together! Though we are starting to tap into our energy reserves in order keep up the pace and keep our goals in sight, the excitement on the faces of the children, the appreciation of the adults, and of course your prayers make our jobs easier. We miss you all and look forward to seeing you soon! God bless, Norm
24: June 27th - Another Sunday in Haiti | Sundays are great because we get to sleep in and eat a big breakfast! Today Kris and Cory made us banana pancakes, and creamed eggs. Our team attended the church on campus again, but this week the kids went to children church for most of the service, and joined the rest of us at the end. The sermon was about reasons we should serve Jesus, and we were all thankful Kris was willing to translate. Church didn't seem as hot this week, so maybe we're finally adjusting to the heat! | This afternoon we gave a puppet show for the kids club, and again Kris translated for us. Some of the kids were afraid of the puppets because they had never seen anything like them before. Most of them have only seen cartoons, costumes, and masks in Voodoo, so before and after the puppet show Kris explained what they were, how they worked, and why there was no need to be scared. Aside from that, kids club also included singing, memory verses, musical chairs, and at the end everyone got candy. The program has been going so well that similar ones are now being started in other towns! Tomorrow is our last official day of work. Tuesday will be full of packing and cleaning. The kids from kids club were invited to come back and pray for our team before we leave, so hopefully we will get to see many of them again Tuesday afternoon.
25: This past week has flown by, I can't believe it's already Sunday night. I (Jess) will miss the kids that shout ‘photo’ whenever they see me. I will miss the slower pace of life, and I'm the only one on our team not feeling ready to leave Haiti. Of course I will also miss the home cooked food and eating bananas in some form at every meal. Thank you all for your prayers and support we appreciate you all so much! - Jess & Tay
26: Today was the last official day of work for the Haiti 13. We were able to wrap up two of the classroom partitions for the school. This gives one of the buildings four classrooms. The partitions also got painted with chalk board paint which gives the teacher a 5 ft. by 21 ft. chalkboard to use. Thankfully, we were able to finish tarring the roof on the laboratory today after being put on hold several days waiting for the weather to cooperate. Todd and Mark got their hands dirty doing some plumbing in the lab and clinic rooms. Hot water is not an option here, so all they have is a faucet running into the sink for plumbing. Cory put Jeff’s expertise to work at rewiring some of the circuitry from the main generator. All in all we had a productive, albeit short work day. The women painted the benches that Mark, Jeff, and Cory have been working on. Beth TerAvest painted some window screen frames that Todd and Mark had rebuilt. They have also been doing a lot of laundry as we are starting to plan our packing for the trip home. | June 28th - Last Work Day
27: This afternoon we had a chance to go up a mountain and take in the beautiful view of the area. We could see almost 360 degrees of mountains, and Cory’s truck temporarily got stuck on the way up! In the distance the ocean could be seen between mountains and as we were heading down we saw a large cruise ship in the distance. Before dinner, four Wesleyan pastors (part of a district meeting) came by to visit and thank our team for the work we have done these two weeks. They gave everyone a gift, something special from Haiti to remember our time here. They then proceeded to serve pop and cake which we let Chris and Kathleen cut because it's their anniversary. It was very humbling for us to be given gifts from people living in a culture that does not have a lot of excess to give. The thanks they shared were so sincere, it was very moving. That's all for today, I managed to type long enough to avoid my turn doing dishes! -Steve
28: Well, today was our last day in Haiti. It was full of finding all our stuff, and getting it packed without being over the 50 pound limit. After lunch the kids in the Kids Club came to say good bye. They prayed for us, thanked us, and wished us safe travels. We are all ready to come home and see our loved ones, and not be so hot all the time. This trip has been a life altering time for me and is something most of us will never forget. Please joint us at GLACC Sunday July 3rd to see some of our photos and hear the team share about Haiti! Thanks again to all who have prayed for us these two weeks, we fly out early tomorrow morning. - Mark | June 29th - Bittersweet Ending