A day of rest... definitely a SUNday

Trip Start Feb 02, 2009
Trip End Feb 10, 2009

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

We have reached Sunday.  Our day of rest.  No work projects for today.  I wake up feeling good.  Seems that it really is just a 24 hour thing.  I missed seeing the kids yesterday, but I think I made the smart decision.  I feel like I can now contribute again and not be a burden.  Everyone at breakfast says I look a lot better too.  I have color back in my face.  I find I'm also ravenous.  I think I eat two bowls of Coco Krispies and bread with PB.  I am sick of electrolytes though and stick with just water for breakfast.
We had planned on going to the Church on the Hill for service, but with all the rain we will not be able to make the climb.  The hard rain has stopped, but a light rain continues. I am disappointed since I wanted to see it, but also glad that we will be able to attend Sunday School at the House of Hope.  The older kids dress the younger ones in their Sunday best and sit them into the room while they go and get dressed.  And the kids sit in their chairs waiting for everything to start.  Owen and John Kerry are seated near each other.  John Kerry is wearing a nice red shirt.  This is the first time the whole trip that I've seen him out of the nursery.
They have a snare drum, two large bongo drums, and a keyboard for music.  I love watching the kids sing and do the motions that accompany the songs.  At one point, Lala, Ivinsky, and one of the twins are called up front.  They were misbehaving and now must stand in the front of the class.  I never saw Ivinsky look so miserable before.  A little bit later, Sammie's phone starts ringing... well really quacking.  I think it is hilarious how it quacks.  She was so afraid she was going to have to stand in the front of the class.
After Sunday School, they move the chairs around for church service.  While I got a nice breeze now and then where I was sitting, I decided it was just going to be too hot to remain in the room during services.  I move to the courtyard where I find Fred and Dukeman.  Fred says he learned years ago to sit outside.  Instead of the usual table, I find a little chair.  I feel like I'm back in elementary school.  Luckily, I lost that weight so I don't break the chair. 
We have prepared a song in case we are asked to sing.  Last year we were caught totally off guard.  This year we are not called on to sing, since the one family group has prepared a skit telling the whole story of Joseph.  The family groups consist of the kids from the House of Hope.  Each group has a variety of ages and they function as a family.  At times the groups are called upon to lead church service, or devotions, or other activities throughout the week.  In addition to giving the kids some responsibility, it also gives them a place to fit in.  I found the skit was well done and I could easily follow along with the story despite not speaking Creole.
Right around noon, the sun breaks through the gray and the sky becomes blue.  It begins to warm up again.  We are all thankful for the break from the rain.  We find out later that at our home church they took some time and opened up the service so that people could specifically pray for the Haiti team.  They knew one of our big concerns has been the rain.  First from the standpoint of getting Rollin and Keith back and second from the point of the dirt air strip in Port de Paix.
We have been invited over to Linda's house for lunch.  The older kids like to prepare a meal for us.  They did this last year as well.  Since lunch isn't until 3pm, we decide to show the new folks the 'beach.'  While there are nice beaches in Haiti, this is not one of them.  The rocky shore is lined with trash.  The open sewer system in La Pointe drains out here and the water for at least 100 yards out is a murky brown before it returns to that azure color the Caribbean is known for.  There are bigger waves than I remember from last year, must be from the recent storm.  Clair is filming and it seems that Rich is a surfer (is there any hobby this guy doesn't have?)  Clair borrows from Apocolypes Now: "If Rich says the beach is safe to surf, it's safe to surf.  Charlie doesn't surf."
The beach is also located near a cemetery.  The tombs are above ground like they are in New Orleans.  I have been told that the tombs are owned by different families and supposedly the sites are 'rented' out for funerals.  Supposedly it is very important in the Haitian culture to be buried in a cemetery.  So the tombs are rented out and after the agreed upon time, the remains are dug up and reburied elsewhere.  I do not know if this is true, or just a legend that has been passed down trip to trip.  I haven't had the time to independently verify it yet.  So if anyone out there knows, please leave a comment!
Last year, we saw a very odd looking pig on the way down.  It had legs the length of a donkey, but it was a pig.  Must be some strange hybrid.  This year there is also a pig laying in the mud near the tombs; however, this is just a regular pig.  We also see a small kid (baby goat, not child in this case) tied to one of the tombs.  It is sitting on the roof.  Instead of walking back up the road to the compound, Fred leads us through 'town.'  I have never been to this part before and we have no locals with us.  I wonder if this is a safe thing to do.  Fred wants to show Rich one of the local churches.  My guard goes up, and all that training that I have to take each year kicks in.
We are the only whites in the vicinity and everyone is looking at us.  I hear whispers of 'Blancs' coming from some of the children we pass.  I am struck by how odd we must look to those of this community.  I know that when I've seen people not from our group, they have seemed out of place.  I wonder if this is how African Americans felt during the era when they were trying to establish their equal rights.  When 'coloreds' weren't allowed in certain places simply because of the color of their skin.  I hope recent events in the states has finally shown that as a nation we are past that dark period when someone is judged by the color of their skin versus the content of their character.
The church is nice.  Fred says it is usually so packed that people are out in the courtyard.  That is something I would have like to have seen.  We continue to walk up the street until we intersect the main road by the hospital.  Seems we made a big U.  We get cleaned up and relax a little bit before heading to Linda's.  I pack up the bowling game.  I am determined to play with the kids today.
Once again the feast at Linda's in incredible.  There is chicken, yams, fried plantains (one of my favorites), the spicy cole slaw, beans, rice, and so much more.  It is just so much food, but we know none of it will be wasted.  When our little gathering is over, it will be distributed to those in the community in need.  We have brought over our last bunch of fudge, but the kids have also made two cakes.  They are very yummy.  We eat and spend some time chatting with Jenny, Linda and each other.
After awhile, Steph, Sarah, and I go outside to spend some time with the children.  I find Jean Mary and show him the bowling set.  We set it up on the basketball court and I show the children how to throw the ball at the pins.  Then I let them have at it.  They are so much fun to watch.  Some of them will throw and others will set up the pins.  Makes me wonder about the days before automatic pin setters.  The soon move from the standard pin set-up to making other patterns.  I don't correct them, I figure let them explore and create their own games.  Baislet is constantly missing the pins when he rolls, but he is having so much fun anyway.  Even Jean Mark is getting into the fun.  He is actually smiling and playing with the other kids.  I think this is the first time I've seen him smile since we have arrived.
We finally meet up with Dukeman and get ready to make the climb up the hill to see his house.  I didn't get up to see it last year, but I heard he hadn't a roof then.  He has been able to put a roof on one half the house, but didn't have the funds to complete the work yet.  I am very excited to go and see the house our friend has made with his own hands.
I was told the hill was pretty steep, but it didn't look too bad.  I do huff and puff my way up and Rich is there to help me.  He asks me if I want to stop, but I say no and push through.  I wonder if I'm still a little weak from being sick or if I'm really that out of shape.  I haven't been hiking since Arctic had that seizure, but I have been walking.  Guess I need to add some more hills to my workout. 
We finally make it up the hill and view is magnificent.  Definitely worth the climb.  I notice a large building near to Dukeman's house.  I find out later that is a church that is being build, so hopefully Dukeman will have at least one set of nice neighbors.  In addition, there is a large gated compound with a huge house behind the gate.  Amazing how all these different type dwellings just exist side by side.  No zoning laws in Haiti I guess. 
Dukeman leads us into the part of the house missing the roof.  There is a pile of bricks in one corner that he will be using in the windows.  They are not solid and will let air and sunlight in, but will still give him some protection.  He shows us where the cooking area will be as well as the shower room.  I don't think he will have running water, just a place to dump a bucket over himself.  He has a ladder, wheel barrel, and bike chained to each other just outside the door.  He also has a chord that goes into the sleeping area, so that he can feel if anyone tries to steal any of it.  He unlocks a plywood door and shows us to the area that is now his home.  Since the rest of the roof is not done, this one room area serves as a sleeping area as well as a cooking area.  It is small, but not crowded.  It also feels pretty secure.  It is very utilitarian, and I think of all the 'stuff' I have in my home.  I really need to simply my life when I get back.  When he finishes the other half, it will be more than enough room.  Makes me wonder why we need such big houses in the states.
He shows us where he is growing some tomatoes plants in cans.  Food has been scare in Haiti since the Hurricanes.  If he is able to supplement his food with stuff he grows, this will be a blessing.  La Pointe is not an area conducive to farming, so growing in the cans is a good idea.  Reminds me of some of those window and rooftop gardens you see in the cities in the U.S.
We head back down, and as usual down is much easier for me than up.  I have no problem keeping up and I'm not huffing and puffing.  We spend the rest of the evening playing with the kids. I play with Djoulie, John Mark, and some of the other kids on the slide.  As they come down, I catch them and pull them up in the air while saying their names.  At least the ones whose names I know. We keep this up until my back can't take it any more. I stumble into a chair near Sammie, who is letting some of them listen to music on the I-Phone.  They also love the camera feature on it.  I learned last year not to let them take too many photos with my camera.  Rich tries to get Djoulie to give him a hug, but she runs away and he comments about yet another woman playing hard to get.  That's amusing.  
I am finding broken bowling pins and wonder if there is any glue to fix them.  Later, I find Rich using his electric tape on them.  Brilliant!  Not only is the tape over the crack, but he's pretty much taping the whole bottom.  That should give a little more absorption to the cheap plastic. It rains a little bit again, but soon stops.  We head back to the compound a little earlier than usual just to spend some time together resting.  I take advantage of the hot shower again.  Now that I've had one, I don't want to go back to the cold showers.  Jerry, Paul, and I are all sitting near each other reading our books.  Reminds me a library, but I like it.  I don't always need to talk and like just having company near by.  I hit the hay fairly early.  Tomorrow is our last day, and we still have lots of work to do!
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