On your mark, get set......

Trip Start Mar 06, 2010
Trip End Mar 13, 2010

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Flag of Haiti  ,
Sunday, March 7, 2010

This weekend has already gotten off to a great start. Kathy, the president of the Red Thread Promise, picked me up at 3:30 am Saturday morning to head to the airport. My two huge suitcases were bursting at the seams with medicine, clothes, toys, books, and treats for the children at the orphanage. Tom Landry, an architect and my new BFF, and Wade Shields, a physician assistant joined us that morning - bright and early. After many failed attempts to caffeinate ourselves with cafe au lait and diet Coke, we took off for Miami. After only an hour layover there, we were packed onto our 1 1/2 flight to Haiti. There was not one empty seat on the plane. All of the passengers were Americans on their way to help our neighbors in need.

The airport experience in Haiti was a little on the wild side. The luggage was brought into a large warehouse-type building and the passengers simultaneously stormed the area to find their bags. Once we were able to pull ourselves out of the doggie-pile with bags in hand (or what was left of them, we found the others from the New Orleans team and then Beth and Rachoul, our hostesses in Haiti.

The nine of us packed ourselves into 2 trucks to get to the guesthouse. Once we left the airport, we were quickly able to feel the desperation of the people. They swarmed the vehicles begging for food, money, and water. Children held onto the exterior door handles of the trucks with the hope that we would include them inside. It seemed almost inevitable that a child could get hurt or slip under the car.  Driving through Port-au-Prince was equally disturbing. There were miles and miles of tents set up along the highways and roads. Over 30,000 families are living in tents with no idea if the future holds anything brighter for them.

The guesthouse where we are staying is only 13 miles south of the capital city but it took 1 1/2 hours to get there. The traffic crawled along the one paved road through the city. Then the paved road turned into muddy dirt roads that winded up a very steep mountain. The car slipped many times and we have yet to see a guardrail alongside of the road. By the time we finally got to the guesthouse, we were a little overwhelmed and needed a rest.

Today we got to see much more of the village. All 30 guests staying with us piled onto four-wheelers and into the back of cattle trucks in our fancy clothes to attend the local church service with the villagers. No ride at Disneyworld could have ever prepared me for the cattle-car experience in the rain this morning. (You have to check out the video of my trying to record our very bumpy and wet ride.)By the time we arrived to the Sunday service, we were soaked, dirty, and all bruised up. In spite of our eye-opening thrill-ride adventure, we were all awe-struck at the dedication of the Haitian villagers. They were walking up and down the steep mountainside in the rain and very thick mud to attend church. Some walked as far as two hours in the bad weather. Amazing.

The 2 hour service was full of singing and thanking God for all the good things in their lives. After church, most of the villagers came up to us to shake our hands and thank us for coming to help them. We spent the rest of the afternoon sorting medicines in the clinic and touring the school buildings to get ready for our big day tomorrow.

As we were leaving that area to head back to the guesthouse for a late lunch, we noticed people walking back into the village. When I asked Willem, one of our Haitian hosts, where they were going since church was over, he responded that they were finding a place to sleep outside the medical clinic so they would be seen by a doctor tomorrow. The inner strength and determination of so many Haitians is a lesson to us all.

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Ms. Cabal's class on

Ms. Erin,

My class watched your video of you in the back of the truck going to church. They had 2 questions. I will send them via video/flipcamera. We look forward to your answers.

Ms. Cabal

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