Sunday, February 9 – Team 1 in Haiti
(We apologize in advance for the length of this post—it covers the better part of two days; we hope to be more brief in the future.)
We left Brian and Emily’s apartment after breakfast and loaded up in the van for the trip to Santiago, DR, where we transferred all of our luggage (about 20 suitcases, many containing items that many of you donated for the children in Haiti) over to a large bus, which we boarded for the trip across the western DR and across the border into Haiti. We also picked up Latitia Jefkins, Kids Alive missionary in Haiti, who was with a couple of the Haitian kids in the DR, to take them to doctor’s appointments. She and the kids (and one of the Haitian house mothers) accompanied us on the trip across the border.
It took a few hours to reach the border, and we arrived, we had to get off the bus, fill out some paperwork, surrender our passports, get back on the bus, where our passports were returned to us, cross the border, then get off the bus and fill out more paperwork on the Haiti side, and then we were finally on our way toward Cap Haitien.
There was one tense moment during the bus trip, not long after we crossed into Haiti, as our bus was flagged down and stopped by several men, one of whom was armed. Another man boarded our bus, greeted us, then walked the length of the bus, looking at everyone, while his companions opened the luggage compartment and looked around inside. We haven’t figured out what was going on there, but soon we were on our way again without further incident.
Less than an hour later we were driving through Cap Haitien, a large and densely-populated, chaotic, third-world city, with much evidence of rampant poverty. Haitians do not like to be photographed on the street, generally speaking, so we didn’t get many pictures. Suffice it to say that Cap Haitien looks like a city that has been left to fend for itself, with very little oversight or administration, and very little of the infrastructure that we take for granted in the States.
We were met at the bus depot by Brent Jefkins, Latitia’s husband, the other KA missionary in Haiti. We transferred all of our luggage to a large school bus owned by Kids Alive, then Brent took us to a restaurant in Cap Haitian, right on the north coast, for dinner. (I had fried goat. It was wonderful.)
After dinner we stopped briefly at one of the tourist markets to find souvenirs (which is an interesting process involving intense price-haggling with very aggressive vendors). After the market, we were finally headed off to our team house in Cap Haitien. After a short orientation from Brent, we settled into our team house, got cleaned up a bit, and collapsed into bed.
On Sunday we got up, had breakfast and team devotions, then were picked up by Mano, who helps at the KA compound, to be driven to church. We attended a worship service at a large (2000+ members) Baptist church in Cap Haitien. The entire service was in Haitian Creole, though the lead pastor did greet us (the only white people there) very kindly in English, assuring us that the Holy Spirit could speak to us even if we didn’t know the language.
The worship service lasted about two hours, and afterwards Mano drove us (riding in the bed of his pickup, by the way) back to the team house to change and freshen up before heading off to the KA compound, where we received a tour and had the opportunity to attend a birthday party celebration for the children and their families with January or February birthdays. It was also a celebration of Kids Alive’s 10th anniversary in Haiti—a significant milestone.
We saw children and house parents in their homes, some of which LFMC teams helped to build. We saw one of the new transition homes, where three teenage girls lived, preparing for their transition out of the KA program and into the real world.
During the party, some of our team members were swarmed by KA children, who were affectionate and fascinated with our cell phones. Some team members remarked that it was a great day, but an emotional day, meeting some of the children and their house parents, being in their homes on the KA compound, seeing where and how they lived—it was great to start relating to the kids right away, even before the work is begun, but also a bit overwhelming.
Larry, Rick, and Doug worked a bit in the afternoon with Mano on laying out the string lines for the foundation that we hope will be poured by the end of the week. Tomorrow we will work with a Haitian crew on that and on preparing the plumbing and electrical conduit before the pour. The work will begin in earnest tomorrow, and it’s going to be hot.
As always, we are grateful for your prayers.
Doug Heacock, on behalf of the team