28 January 2011

Making Sense

Beyond my every expectation...despite a dictator dropping by after 25 years...despite electoral limbo...despite my parents' visit...things are quiet. But again and again, I'm reminded that there's little method to the madness. There's not one reason you can point to and say, "Yeah, that's why no one's been protesting." It really makes very little sense to me...and that can be frustrating, since logic is clearly a cultural idol where I come from.

David's been flying doctors from Medecins Sans Frontieres, the French branch of Doctors Without Borders, who have been treating cholera patients in Port-de-Paix. I was reading an article by MSF today, and this paragraph struck me as something that actually did make sense.

A year after the earthquake, it is not very surprising that reconstruction has hardly or not at all started and the city is still full of rubble. It took two years to remove the rubble from the World Trade Center in New York. In the areas struck by the earthquakes in Italy in 2009, Pakistan in 2005, and Iran in 2003, most inhabitants still live in precarious ‘temporary' shelters or accommodation, waiting for their homes to be rebuilt. Indonesia completed major building programmes within 5 years in Aceh (coastline, houses, roads, schools, hospitals, etc., so that according to the press, the consequences of the tsunami are no longer visible), and is an exception in that matter, which can be explained by the determination of the central state and the efficiency of its administration. Those elements do not exist in Haiti. (To read the rest of the article, click here.)  

With so many people asking why reconstruction has "failed," I find that a helpful comparison.

And on an unrelated note, I had a scare with my posse today. Three of them came to the gate, asking for me, and over the traffic noise, I thought they were saying "cholera." I yelled for them to wait for me, as I grabbed Gatorade packets and hurried out with my keys. It turned out to be a miscommunication...but the feelings it stirred up showed me how much I cared.

"No, we won't get cholera," Sandal Kid informed me. "We wash our hands." As if on cue, they each put out their palms for me to inspect. Their hands are already weathered from a hard life, but their skin color allowed me to see all the minute creases in their hands, and I was impressed by their beauty.

"Very clean," I praised. "Do you drink clean water? Water that's been bleached?"

"Oh yes," Sandal Kid said, "we drink bottled water."

"And do you squat away from your house?"

Three little heads nodded.

"And I wash my head," he said. I'm not sure what that has to do with cholera...but it's a good thing. They ran off to share a coconut...but I'm sure I'll see them again soon.

16 January 2011

A Song to Sing

As you may remember, we go to a Haitian church (specifically this one). We go for two reasons: 1) It's great language practice. 2) I hate being isolated and I love having Haitian friends. Also, Seige's sermons are really good...even when I only understand 60% of what he says. 

But David and I both agree that worship is the best part...even when it sounds too loud to our American ears. There's one song we've sung for a few weeks now that I can tell they really like, because the voices get louder and the hands wave. Unlike most of our songs, I think it was actually written in Creole...most of our songs are translated from English into French or Creole, with variations to maintain the rhyme scheme. I'm going to try to translate it for you. Try to read it with a Caribbean beat. If you need to sway, I understand.

God's never forsaken me a day
God's never forsaken me a day
When I meet him one day
I'll make friends with him
God's never forsaken me a day

The God of Israel
He's a God who's so faithful
He never lets go of his child
He's worthy of worship

The God of Haiti
He's a God who's so faithful
He never lets go of his child
He's worthy of worship

The God I'm serving
He's a God who's so faithful
He never lets go of his child
He's worthy of worship

Homeless people sing this song. People whose families members have died of cholera sing it. People who can't find work sing it. And they believe it.

So do I.

We're about due for more "manifestations" (read: violent protests) this week, when they decide the final results from the first round of elections. Thanks in advance for your prayers, for Haiti and for us.

12 January 2011

A day we can't stop remembering

There's a road near the airport called "October 15th." It's near the hardware store, so I've traveled it often, and I've wondered what happened on that day, why on earth they'd name a road after it.

But I will never wonder if they name something after January 12th. Hard to believe it's been a year already since the earthquake. I don't have to tell you how little has changed, physically. They're still finding bodies, I hear. They probably will for a long time to come. And yet spiritually, emotionally, relationally, growth is happening. God still lives here, and He's not going anywhere.

In some ways, it feels strange to stop and remember a day that we can't stop remembering on any day. But then again, I didn't lose a friend. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who was here on that day who can say that.

I invite you to join me in prayer for Haiti today. Many people will be gathered today at 5:00 Eastern time, which is near the time the earthquake hit. Here are some things you can pray for Haiti, if you like:

*Comfort for those who mourn; that Christ would bind up the brokenhearted

*That this would be a year of the Lord's favor in Haiti, where eyes are opened to His light

*That God would give them a crown of beauty for their ashes; the oil of joy instead of mourning; and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair

*That what's done here would be a display of God's glory, for the world to see

10 January 2011

What a Day.

Event 1: Awoke at 2:30 to find my fan off. Assumed the motor had burned out. Went back to sleep.

Event 2: Got up this morning to find that the lights also didn't work...which means our batteries are having problems. Which means little or no power today, unless we can fix it or get city power (EDH). I hope my milk doesn't spoil.

Event 3: David and I inhale our cornflakes and go to work on the battery system...we get it charging, but it doesn't seem to be getting enough power...sigh.

Event 4: A stressed David goes to work, but not before he gets an e-mail that says there's a maintenance problem with the plane he's supposed to fly today. Double sigh.

And now, I sit, typing fast to save power, with wet hair I can't blow dry, getting ready to leave for my first day in the new session of English classes at Calvary Chapel Port-au-Prince in a car that likes to stall out. I'm teaching a new class I've never taught before, too. At least I found my Creole/English dictionary!

What a day...and it's only 7:20 AM! Please pray for us today!

03 January 2011

A Vacation Day Flight

This morning, we got a call from our flight scheduler that a man in Port-de-Paix (Port duh PAY) needed a medical flight. David needed some help fueling up and pushing the plane out, so I got to go along. Do I look excited? I was. I wore my MAF hat and my badge to look official (and it totally worked, by the way).

The traffic was surprisingly un-busy. As we drove, David told me more about the patient...he'd had cholera, but was getting better, and then suddenly began to lose feeling in his arms and legs. They were able to get in contact with an organization there in Port-de-Paix who agreed to pay for the MAF flight. I watched David as he drove, weaving in and out of traffic, and in our haste, he'd forgotten to shave. He grinned at me. "Sorry to drag you along--I'm sure this isn't what you want to be doing on a day off." Was he kidding? Rescue missions may be old hat to him by now, but they're still exciting to me.

I tried my best to be helpful when we got to the airport. I checked the fuel for him to make sure it was aviation gas and pulled out a tow bar, so we could get the plane out of the hangar. We had to fuel the plane by hand, so I also got to hand the fuel cans up to him, while he sat on the wing. David had to dump water on the cans to discharge the static, so that made things a bit slicker, but we managed. The plane was dusty from the vacation we'd all had over New Year's, but of course, I figured that wouldn't matter much to our passenger.

David took out two seats while I searched through the storage container for the stretcher he wanted. He'd never used one with a passenger before, and he was a bit nervous, understandably. I told him I'd be praying for him all the way.

After a short briefing on how to use the radio, it was just me and the ants in the office. Our office and hangar storage are made out of metal containers, like you can put on the back of a truck. For their sake, I can't wait until we have more space for all these hard-working guys, someday. Also, if you've never sat inside a metal box in a tropical country, you should try it sometime. I think the inventor of air conditioning might have found some inspiration there.

Thinking that I might be bored waiting for him to return, I brought along a book...but I didn't get much chance to use it. By the time I called B to tell her not to come today, lent a tool to another airport worker, signed for a port-a-potty cleaning, talked on the radio a few times and called the ambulance service, they were back.

The Americans who showed up to take him to the hospital were long on medical knowledge and short on Creole, so I was glad to be able to help them get a little history. I stood so that my body shaded his face from the sun, knowing that he couldn't do much about it himself. His arms were folded unnaturally across his chest, and he looked...scared. We talked with his sister and his dad--Was anyone else sick? No. Was he still having diarrhea? No. (Although I think you could have told that from the plane's cleanliness, but maybe not.) He had cholera before? Yes, but he was getting better.

The Haitian driver they'd hired wasn't interested in touching our passenger...and I can't really blame him. They got him strapped onto a new stretcher and whisked him away, just as a large jet started to power up. I waved at the family to say goodbye; they looked at us as if to say, "Oh, you're not coming?" They had already thanked us profusely. The dad raised a fist, as if to say, "We'll keep on fighting," and the sister just waved. "Great job," I told David. "For what?" he asked. "All I do is fly airplanes." Right, David. All you do is fly airplanes...to help save lives. In moments like this, I realize even more fully that the grace to do what we do comes from God, despite our unworthiness to be part of it.

Thanks for helping us share God's grace with one guy who really needed it. Please be praying for his recovery.

01 January 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Years, all. I've documented for you my attempt at Haitian culture--I made my first batch of pumpkin soup this week! It's a tradition for Haitians to eat this particular recipe when they celebrate New Year's Day, as they prepare for Ancestor's Day on January 2nd. I happen to love this recipe--it's spicy and it has good depth of flavor. And yet, each family has their own personal variation, some putting in spaghetti or macaroni, some using leeks, some using goat meat rather than beef.

All week, I've noticed people cleaning up the streets, burning trash, getting ready for the holiday...I've got some trash I'm leaving behind in 2010, too. Here's to a new year, walking with God, day by day.