Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cha Cha Mountain

More Singing!

Cha Cha Mountain: singing

This is the teacher and his students singing and dancing.

Haiti Trip, 2014: Day 8

Our last morning. Goodbyes can be hard.
Especially when you are saying goodbye to someone you may never see again.

When we got home, spring was in full swing! I had missed my beautiful country, as much as I loved being in Haiti.

Haiti Trip 2014, Day 7

Monday, our last full day in Haiti, we went to Cha Cha mountain. We took two vehicles, a truck and a jeep-like thing with no AC. A few of us rode in the back of the truck with our bodyguard/translator Elijah. We had a lot of fun back there! We took punch and sandwiches to the school children on the top of the mountain. On the way up the poorly sealed punch cooler splashed its sticky contents on both bodies and bags. We had to stop the truck and move it before we could be a bit more comfortable. 
As we made our way up Cha Cha Mountain, some of the group saw a dead body beside the road, covered in dust from possibly hours of being there. He was most likely hit by a car. It makes me think of the earthquake.
There is a book at the guesthouse about the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010. When I looked at the Haitian people before I read the book, it looked to me like they were poor and had a hard life, but they still smiled. After I read the book, I could see more clearly how hard their lives really are. They are so poor, even poorer than they were before the quake, which was poor enough. They have experienced so much, seen so much. Think about it. The earth is shaking so hard that even the so-called strongest buildings are falling all around them. Falling right on people. People they know and love. Crushing them. Killing them. Blood running everywhere. Screams everywhere. Some did not even know what an earthquake was. Why is the ground shaking? Is it the rapture? Have I been left behind? You can never put those images out of your mind. It's more painful, though, when someone brings it up again. We drove to see the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption in Port-Au-Prince. It is a crumbled mess. Beggars everywhere. Tents along the road. A man sleeping in the heat of the day. Because they have nowhere else to go, nowhere else to sleep. Ginette says maybe fifteen will all sleep in one little tent. They see us just looking at the Cathedral and some are angry. "Why do you look? Why do you gawk? You do not know what that crumbled mass means to me. It is like you laugh at my pain when you look. You see a mess that should have been cleaned up 4 years ago. I see the remains of a disaster so terrible it will never leave my brain. I see death. Brutal death. I see loss of my home and my loved ones. I see the reason I am now on the streets, along with my friends. I see bodies piled high in the street, being burned there because nothing else can be done with them." I do not know what you have gone through, dear Haitian staring back at me. I have never felt it. Anything I think is hard in my life, is as a splinter to you. But I wish I could help. I wish I could give you hope. I try. I saw a picture of a man shot for looting after the quake. It haunts me. Lying on his back with limbs sprawled everywhere. Blood running down the pile he is on. His head is turned towards the camera. His eyes are open and he is smiling. Dead. But smiling. Where did he go? When I again take a look at the people of Haiti, I see that they know how to keep on smiling. It is the only thing that will keep them going. They have to put the past behind them. It is too hard to stay back there. They may want to stay, but then their stomach starts to growl, and their children call out for food. The rain comes and shelter has to be found. Life never stops its brutal push on man. So they smile in the pain. They chatter and wave to friends. Life is hard. So make the best of it. But we can't just make the best of things, because we are a fallen, sinful people. We can't make things better, at least not eternally, unless we share the news that Jesus came to earth as a perfect Man and died a sinner's death: just for us. To save us from a corrupt world, so that if we believe in Him, treasure Him, and put full trust in Him for everything, no matter how tough it gets, we will have a beautiful a perfect life with Him after we die.

Apparently we got a lot of  rain the night before....

This is more of the damage form Hurricane Sandy. The road, which used to run on the top of the ledge, was torn down by the rushing water

The leaky orange punch coolers.
As we got higher and higher, we could see farther and farther, eventually even seeing the ocean.
We stopped under the shade of a huge tree to stretch our legs and enjoy the view.

We could see this tree from far down the mountain.

Our first view of the unfinished church on top of Cha Cha mountain.
The school children came smiling to greet us as we piled out of the vehicles. Everyone that I met in Haiti was extremely welcoming and kind.

As we stood in the church and got pictures and heard stories, the women from Cha Cha who had attended the conference came down to us and greeted us warmly and gave us hugs and kisses. They were so happy to see us again.

The woman below is the woman who sold the land to Pastor Maxeau. He went up the mountain after God told him that he was not supposed to stay in the valley but he was to climb the mountain. So he did and many came to Christ throuhg him and the men he brought with him. Later he wanted to build a church so when he found the perfect spot, he went to the owner and asked to buy it. She consented after a while but told him he could not have the one large tree on the land that was used for Voodoo worship. He told her he wouldn't buy the land at all if he couldn't have the tree. She was finally persuaded not only to sell the land but also to turn from Voodoo worship and run into the arms of Jesus, the only One who could ever satisfy her. The tree (hollow in the middle just like the woman's life before she came to Christ) was cut down. Part of it was burned and part of it was sent into the city to be carved into offering plates. As the tree that was used for so much evil was carved into an offering to God, so our lives can be carved into the image of God and used for Him even after they have been used for terrible things against Him.

We got back to the guesthouse and found that there were two other people staying there. Stephen and his 6-year-old son Ethan had arrived that evening and were relaxing on the porch. As soon as I met Ethan I fell in love with him. As the night wore on, I think he fell in love with me too. He is very talkative. Very energetic. And very outgoing. I don't really know how to describe him. I miss that kid. I found out later that he didn't know we that when we said goodbye, we wouldn't be coming back in the afternoon. We would be leaving Haiti and who knows when we'll meet again. I think he missed his mother because that night I brought him to bed and he didn't want me to leave. “No. Stay with me!” But he saw my chunky heart necklace that I wore a lot in Haiti and he asked me: “Did your boyfriend give this to you?” “Oh no! I don't have a boyfriend!” “Oh! You don't have a boyfriend? Who gave it to you? It must be very special! A special person gave it to you!” “No. I don't even know where I got it. Nobody gave it to me.” “This is your boyfriend!” he says, cradling the heart. “What is his name?” “Is it? I don't know his name. What should his name be?” I let him think about that as I pretended to. I wanted to see what he'd come up with. “Hm.... His name is Charley!” and then “Oh no! That is my cat's name!” He dramatically put his head in his hand and went to his father. “Oh no! Oh no!” Apparently he didn't like anything to have a name anything else had.
This little ball of energy was hard to capture in a picture! He made us all laugh so hard.

Ethan and his dad.
Saying goodbye. It was the last time we would see the HUG girls on this trip.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Haiti Trip, Day 6

Sunday we went to the Valley of Hope church. Elisabeth was sick that morning and was not able to go with us. She hated to miss it and of course we hated not having her with us. But she was able to get in the picture before we left!
On the way to church we witnessed our first collision in Haiti. A tap tap hit a truck fairly hard and people were piling out of the tap tap holding their shoulder or limping. But I think everybody was ok. They were still smiling. :)
We got to church a little late and they were already singing. Their worship is so joyful!
At one point during the service the pastor asked if anyone wanted to receive Jesus. About 30 children came up. It was beautiful to see!
My sweet companion for the the day fell asleep on my lap. 
I wish I had gotten better pictures of some of the kids. This little girl's outfit was adorable!
After church we went to the nearby river. 
When hurricane Sandy hit the US, it also hit Haiti. This river used to be about half its size now.

When there is water running through it at all, people come to it to wash clothes or themselves.

A voodoo cross

After we were fed by the sweet women in the church, we went into Port-Au-Prince to see the damage that the earthquake did. It is amazing how much the people still suffer from its affects even four years later.
Each of those tents is a home.

After that some of dropped in on the HUG girls and took their pictures.They are such a beautiful group of girls!