The Journey to St. Pierre...

Trip Start Jun 19, 2009
Trip End Jun 27, 2009

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Flag of Haiti  ,
Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Each of you has been blessed with one of God's many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others so use your gift well."  1 Peter 4

Wake up call at 3:30!  I enjoy a last shower and cup of coffee!  We manage to be downstairs by 5:00.  Well except Jane, she's usually the last one (of course you'll also notice in pictures she looks better than the rest of us).  We arrive with plenty of time to spare although we do have to rearrange some luggage as a few of our bags are over the fifty pound limit.  Bill and Dave get pulled out randomly to have their carry-ons measured.  Surprise, surprise, the bags are "too big" so they must be checked for the tidy sum of $100 per bag.  We organize ourselves at the gate and head to the duty-free shops for provisions.  Soon we are on the plane for the final leg of our journey.  My travel buddy has not picked up his duty-free at the gate so he needs to get off the plane to retrieve it.  This is quite frowned upon by the airline personal but Tom is tenacious.  The Jameson's will not be left behind!  I'm thankful for a very uneventful flight!

We arrive at the airport in PAP.  In the airport there are quite a few mission groups.  They all have matching shirts, with proverbs on them, and are dressed like they are going on safari in Africa!  With our duty-free goods, rag-tag clothes, disturbingly large duffles, and loud banter we are definitely the "bad news bears" of mission groups.  If being in Haiti is wrong I don't want to be right!  Which of course makes it so much more fun!  We get through customs smoothly and head out to the parking lot to wait for our rental trucks.  The heat is stifling and the smell in the air is not to be described.  As I scan the surrounding areas I see pollution and poverty.  Avis finally brings the trucks but the spare has a flat!  This can't be so we wait some more for it to be fixed.  The time it takes to accomplish something in Haiti could be compared to watching paint dry!  Our bags are loaded up (we take three trucks) and off we go.  One quick stop at the gas station for some snacks and beverages.  It could be a four hour drive or it could be an eight hour drive so you need to be prepared!  We meet up with our translators as well, Dee and Martin.    We definitely could not do it without them.  They are a wealth of knowledge and are so patient explaining, and re-explaining, things.  (For example, Laurie comments that she has not seen any cats in Haiti, and Martin tells us it is because they eat them!  PETA does not have an office here!)  Martin learned English from watching Jerry Springer shows off of pirated cable TV!  As we head into the mountains we see hordes of people sitting by the road, selling whatever they can.  The roads have improved since my last trip so our drive up, while long (five hours for fifty-five miles) is smooth.  We stop at various points for pictures.  Whenever we stop people gather around us.  They are so hungry and you can see the malnutrition.  They are also so friendly and kind.  They love for us to take their picture with a digital camera so they can see themselves (no mirrors).

We finally arrive at the clinic and it is raining!  We greet Dr. Leo who has accomplished a great deal.  The clinic has a second floor.  He has a full garden now and one of his passions is helping the people grow healthy food.  This means we must leave the trucks at the top of the hill and walk the mile down to the rectory.  It is like a muddy slip-and-slide.  Poor John falls and breaks his camera!  Haitians come out and watch us try to navigate.  They are rightfully laughing hysterically at us as they do this daily!  Eventually they take pity and help some of our group down.  Then they volunteer to clean our muddy shoes.  Their kindness knows no boundaries!

Father Reginald is the new priest at St. Pierre.  He graciously offers up his home to us.  We have solar electricity, flush toilets, and a refrigerator.  This is like the Four Seasons of Haitian accomodations!  My only caveat is I find my mattress on the floor.  I'm not sure I'll be able to sleep with the paranoia of things crawling on me in the night.  Luckily they find a bed frame for me.  We sit down for our first meal; vegetable platter, goat, plantains, avocado, bean sauce, and rice.  At this point, they are cooking with fresh oil so the goat is tasty.  After dinner, people shower, it's a trickle but that's okay.  It doesn't seem to be too buggy but we are liberal with the DEET.  The men find a huge spider in their room but Father kills it for them.  As we gather on the porch to reflect on the day, the excitement begins.  Dave has arranged for us to have a pig roast on Sunday and the pig has arrived.  The pig is walking however!  It did not come wrapped in plastic on a foam tray!  This means the pig has to be killed which, as all things in Haiti, seems to go very slowly.  The noise is not pleasant by any means.  Somehow Chris manages to sleep through the process although it's taking place right outside her window.  (I nickname her "the rock" because she can fall asleep in a minute and nothing wakes her.)  After the carnage, I head off to bed.  Thankfully I missed the dishing out of the blood meat the Haitians cooked up!  I'll stick with plantains thank you very much! 
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