Tuesday, December 29, 2009

america vs. haiti: on the road


today someone was talking about how a lot of people park their big fancy cars in the back of the parking lot to stay away from other cars. or take up two spots so no one can get too close. wouldn't want to risk getting a scratch on the car.
it's just one of those things that make me chuckle. and make me wish i could bring them to experience a week in haiti.
in haiti, it really doesn't matter what you do. your car is not safe. you cannot protect it. and you really can't do much about it. example:
when i was at Three Angels and shannon was in haiti, we met up with the livesays for dinner. a guy actually directed me on where and how to park. (they do that a lot. i'm not really sure why.) as we were leaving the restaurant, the guy that "helped" me park the car noticed me and started saying "aksidan! aksidan!" (accident). right before we
had walked out, another vehicle had smashed into our parked car. the guy claimed he had insurance and actually gave us all of his info. nothing ever came of it though. and the thing is- when we walked out and noticed someone hit our car, i really wasn't too shocked or surprised. none of us freaked out. we really just gave more of a shrug and "i can't believe someone just hit
our parked car. TIH."

Tap taps/transportation

in american- typically 5 to 7 people in a vehicle. sit on what was actually installed in the vehicle to be sat on. wear your seat belt. simple as that.

in our beloved country of haiti- why would you only have 5 to 7 people in a vehicle? you can squeeze in so many more! and why limit yourself to the seats that were already in the van? there's plenty of room for a bench in-between rows. and why leave the aisle open? that's wasting good space, too. add in a single stool, people can always climb over it and each other. oh, and with public transportation- there is no such thing as personal space. you do not get your personal space bubble. you get to sit crushed up next to a sweaty man with your shoulder in his arm pit. and i've noticed that generally, haitian people do not like to scoot. i see it in tap taps and at church. if someone is on the end, they do not just slide over to let you sit... they make you crawl over them to get to the empty space.

Road conditions

aren't quite the same either. it's important to literally watch the road in haiti. you have to keep an eye out for pot holes. craters. huge chunks of the road that are missing. crowds of people that decide to cross the road (nobody ever taught them to "look both ways"). crazy people that decide to stand or sit in the middle of the road for no apparent reason. and what can you do? you just do what you gotta do to get where you need to go. drive on the sidewalk. use the on-coming traffic lane for a bit. it's all good. in the states, these are things you'd get a ticket for. and also, please keep in mind, that if you're in america- just because you are able to go fast because the roads are smooth and straight does not mean you should. this will also result in a ticket. which leads me to my next and final point.

I'm getting a ticket for what??

i've been pulled over in both countries. i've gotten tickets in both countries (well, i wouldn't so much call it a "ticket" in haiti... but i'll get to that). i was not happy about it in either country, but i guess that's to be expected. my first traffic ticket in the states was not even a speeding ticket. it was after my freshman year of college. i had been back in Evansville for about a week or two and was driving back to Bowling Green (where my college was) for a funeral. a girl i had known had lost her long battle with ovarian cancer. i was running a little late to meet up with some people to head to the service. and then i did it-- i made a left turn in a no-left turn lane. it wasn't that i was turning onto a one way street. someone just decided left turns were not a good idea right here. and that's fine. i'm sure they had a very good reason for that. but i needed to go left. busted. and yes- even though it was my first time ever being pulled over and i even explained i was heading a funeral-- i got a ticket. cops hate me i tell you. i've since been pulled over, and each time ticketed, 2 or 3 times for speeding (i feel like it's 3, but i can only recall two times). some people say certain responses will help lessen your chances of getting a ticket. i say it doesn't matter what you say or do, they've already decided from the minute they pulled you over if they are giving you a ticket. and now for my story in haiti. i believe it was November of last year. i had been in haiti about 2 months and decided it was time i start driving. i had driven several times with Junior or other Haitians- just to the bank or something like that. but decided it was time i start driving by myself. well, at least without a haitian in the car. a team was in visiting and had headed back to the guest house for the night. a friend from the team stayed behind at the Orphanage with me. she came along with me for my first drive without a haitian over to the guest house to hang out with the team. everything was fine on the way there. on the way back, near a corner gas station, a police officer waved at us to pull over. i pulled over into the station. i was being pulled over because we had a head light out on the van. i wasn't surprised. let me back up. the night before, Junior had been driving the van and got pulled over because the head light was out. they took his license away and we had to pay to get it back from the police station. now, it's not that i just ignored the problem. but even something as simple as a headlight is not that simple in haiti. at least, not when you are dealing with and relying on haitians to tell you what the problem is, what needs done, and how much it will cost. so back to current time, the officer then takes my
license away. and gives me a 'ticket' saying what i owe to get it back. however, he did me a "favor" (quotations because it was really a bigger mess than help) by telling me i could just met him in the some spot tomorrow to pay and get my ticket back. Jimmy took charge of getting my license back. it took a good week or more. but hey, i did actually get it back, so i would say we came out successful.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

to be completely honest...

i've been struggling a bit with the thought of- what's my purpose in haiti? do i have one?

this will probably get messy, as it's just a jumble of thoughts. and it's probably a jumble of thoughts i shouldn't make a blog post of (you're not suppose to end a sentence like that, right?) but i am (making a blog post of it and ending my sentence like that).

i'm not gonna lie- leaving Three Angels was hard. i was excited and thrilled to be moving to Heartline. and i knew that i couldn't stay at Three Angels. but it was still a mix of emotions. i had been through a lot at Three Angels. i learned and experienced so much. so many struggles and challenges. and the joys and rewards. and then it was over. but i KNOW this is right. this is the way it should be and needs to be. the Nons and I had our differences, but i know they are what Three Angels needs. they have done so many amazing things there. beyond what i could have done. but i still miss it. and i'm not really sure why. i mean, of course i miss the kids and the staff and the American board and volunteers i worked with, but it was hard. a heck of a lot harder than things have been at Heartline. so i assumed i was doing what Sara Groves describes in her song "painting pictures of egypt". like the Israelites, we often look to the past and wish we could go back. but the picture we paint for ourselves is not usually accurate. when you're in a place where you are questioning things, it's easy to look back and remember it as being awesome. "the place i was wasn't perfect, but i had found a way to live. it wasn't milk or honey, but then neither is this... i've been painting pictures of egypt, leaving out what it lacked.... i was dying for some freedom, but now i hesitate to go. caught between the promise and the things i know." so to remind myself, i looked back over a notebook that i would randomly journal in. this was from the end of October, 2008: "Haiti is hard... It's not easy, it's stressful and frustrating. Sometimes I feel like it's me against the world. I feel like I'm going in circles and not getting anywhere. I feel like I'm beating my head against the wall... It's a never-ending battle. It's a struggle everyday." And from March of this year: "I've said it before, I'll say it again. Haiti is hard. Emotionally. Spiritually. It's hard. And it's hard to explain why. Sometimes I just feel so stretched. I feel broken down. Strained. Exhausted." now, don't get the wrong idea- that's certainly not what most of my journaling looked like. and even those pages didn't end that way. they end with holding a child and remembering why i was there. they end with seeing the beauty in haiti.

i had been at Heartline for just about 2 months before i came back to the states (i am currently in the states for the holidays and to work. i head back to haiti Jan. 10). it was just towards the end of that, right before i left, when i started questioning my purpose. when i first moved, it was the excitement of something new. getting away from what i had let become too familiar to me. a perfect escape. an escape from hard, frustrating, and hurtful things. now, this is one reason why i hesitated to blog this. i worried that some of it would be read the wrong way... or more-so, that i would say it the wrong way. moving to heartline was not just an escape. it was a door that God had opened. and i am so thankful He did. even though things had come to an impossible situation at Three Angels, and for many reasons, i just could not stay there- i struggled with the thoughts that i was just running away. i did not want to be someone that just quits when things get hard. is that what i was doing?? often times, what you know doesn't stop you from thinking otherwise. i knew that God had, in His perfect timing, given me this amazing opportunity at Heartline. and i love where i am at. i love where i live. i love who i work with. i love the many dear friends God has brought into my life. i love the ministry of heartline and what they do. but i guess that's just it. it still kinda feels like a "they" and not "we". i'm just not sure i know my place yet. at Three Angels, i had decisions to make, things to plan and organize, fires to put out, complaints to deal with and cry about. i had things to do. right now, i'm still feeling things out. i'm not really sure where i fit. the original plan for my joining heartline was to work w/ the sewing program. then, when john found out i had worked with adoptions at TAs, he wanted me to help out with them at heartline. actually, he wants me to take over for him and work with Junior (the guy that does all the haitian paper work stuff) so he can step out of it. as far as the sewing program, there is a haiti lady, that learned and worked under sheila, who is heading things up now. i don't really know what to do or how to help or like i have anything to offer in this area. marjorie seems to have it under control. as far as adoptions, i have done some running around with john. i think things will pick up with this, in time, when i get back. there was a lot john couldn't really hand over to me yet, since i had plans to be gone for 7 weeks. but i think it will be good. i think that will be my main role. eventually. things just take time, right??

i'm really at peace about things. even if this post makes it sound like the opposite! i'm so thankful for each opportunity God has given me in Haiti. i am amazed when i look back and see how God has worked things out. perfectly. and i am so blessed for the people i have met along the way. i really cannot imagine what my life would look like without the friends i have met on this journey. God is good. and that's about all i know in life.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What matters more??

To most of you, this is probably old news. But, living in Haiti, I usually have no idea what's going on in America. Last year on Black Friday, a man was trampled to death at a Wal-mart in New York. Customers broke through the doors and stampeded in the store. A quote from an article I found, "Witnesses and the police said the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, of Queens, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him."

I don't know about you, but I was shocked when I heard this and read the story. It brought tears to my eyes. Not only because a man lost his life, but because this is who we are. This is what we've become. Does it bother you? We are a people that care more about getting that bargain TV than we care about someone's life. We are selfish and hard-hearted. I'm speaking of the American population in general. And even for those of us that follow Christ and claim that we are changed people, while those terms do not describe who we are, we've all been those things. It's still something we need to constantly check ourselves on. What matters more to us? Do we love like Christ loved? And it's not as simple as, how do we answer those questions-- but, how do we really live?

When I was thinking through all of this, I though of Derek Webb's song, "What Matters More?"

The song touches on legalism and doctrine- how we let those things get in the way of what really matters. Lost souls that are dying. He is NOT saying that certain things, like homosexuality, aren't sins... he is saying that our focus is messed up if we are simply fighting and condemning sinners. Jesus was friends with the prostitutes and tax collectors. He loved them. Okay, but even this is not the point of the song I want to get at. It's the last verse. When we let our debates and differences get in the way of loving people. We talk the Christian talk. But, the way we live- what does that say about what matters more to us??

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

i went outside.

Saturday night, some of the girls (young ladies, if you will) got together to hang out at the Women's Center. Jonna, one of the midwives, is staying there and invited us all over for pizza and good times. Things got a little more exciting than we had even planned on. Around 8 o'clock, in the middle of a game of "two truths and a lie", Jonna got a call that one of the women in the program was in labor. To read more about the birth, read here. It was a long night, but I rather enjoyed it. We watched a movie. Listened to music. Talked. Got to know each other more. And hanging out around a birthing center, of course we do things like make music videos, check each others hemoglobin, and practice taking blood pressure. My hemoglobin is great, by the way. My blood pressure on the other hand, a little higher than desired.

People told me that exercise is a good thing for high blood pressure (apparently, exercise is a good thing in general). I'm just not a person that is super concerned about my health. BUT I suppose it wouldn't kill me to try to exercise a little bit. So Paige and I partnered up to try running together. Then Vivien and Corrie decided they wanted to run as well. It looks like my high blood pressure has motived all the young ladies in Village Theodat to run. Paige and I planned to run yesterday. It was a good plan. But I forgot to set an alarm... and then she ended up having to go to school earlier than normal. So, it didn't work out. It was a darn good plan though. However, this morning Corrie showed up at the guest house. Vivien had stuff to work on, so it was just Corrie and I that gave this whole running thing a shot. We mostly walked. We ran a little bit. And we weren't out for long. But, I went outside. I think that's a good start. When I got back, Vivien asked "but aren't you motivated now? wasn't it exhilarating?". Hum. I thought about it for a minute. No, not really. Now don't me wrong, I'm glad I did it. And I think I plan to continue it. I just don't see how people actually enjoy running. I don't know though, maybe I'll enjoy it more once I can run and breath at the same time.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

out of place

Ever feel totally out of place? For example, a few years ago, some friends and i went on a road trip to Chicago. We decided to walk to Navy Pier from our hotel. It didn't look very far. We were wrong. After walking for over 3 hours (and a 3 hrs that we had not planned on walking, mind you), we were tired and hungry. Someone told us there were places to eat in a building not too far from us. We found it, walked in, eager for food. We didn't see any signs for restaurants. We didn't see any people. So now, here we are, walking aimlessly through this building. We walk into a huge common area, filled with men dressed in suits. Then we saw the banner- welcoming everyone to the Neurosurgeon Convention. Needless to say, we felt slightly out of place.

Another time was when Lizzie Huijskens was in Haiti visiting. Three Angels' lawyer, Rolande, runs her own orphanage. They were celebrating their 40th anniversary. I thought it would be a casual get together. Finger foods. Kids running around. People mingling. Lizzie and I decided to stop by this party. The second we pulled up, we knew we were out of place. The only thing casual about it was Lizzie and I. Everyone else was dressed for a black tie event. We could see everyone seated in another room, listening to someone give a speech. Servers were busy getting the fancy tables ready for the dinner. We stood around awkwardly for a few seconds, then someone told us they would go get Rolande for us so we could say hi. We decided not to stick around to say hi to anyone, we quickly replied, "Um, I think we're just going to leave..." as we quickly ran back to the car.

Okay, and final story. The one that spurred this post. Tuesday, John asked me to attend an adoption workshop that the Embassy was hosting. Alright, sure, no problem. My first mistake, was again assuming something in Haiti would be casual. There is no such thing as a casual party or get together. They like fancy parties. This is a fact I know. I blame no one but myself for making such a stupid mistake. I thought it would be a casual get together of people that run orphanages and process adoptions. Casual was the first mistake. Second mistake was who I thought would be there. It was mostly French people with fancy names and fancy job descriptions. There was a Haitian judge that works in the Port au Prince court. The Consul General was there. I'm not even sure who he is or what he does, but it sounds important. The first speaker spoke only French. Finally, a few minutes after he spoke, someone went back and repeated everything he said in English. And from there on out, everything was translated from French to English and English to French. As soon as I realized I was under-dressed, I took a seat in the back corner. I spoke to no one. Until a large man came and sat next to me. He shook my hand and introduced himself as someone with the Embassy. Adding to the fact I was aware I was not dressed appropriate, I had a cold. Not a big deal, I know. But, when you can't breath out of your nose, probably have snot dripping down your face, and have to leave your mouth gapping open so you can breath, there is just something about it that makes you feel even more unattractive. It doesn't matter how nice you actually look, you will just still feel like you look like crap. Now, don't get me wrong. I really don't mind these types of events. If I'm dressed properly, I can pretend to be professional and act like I fit in. However, not dressed properly, I just feel like a kid that is somewhere I don't belong. A little out of place.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

beautiful stranger

I was at the US Embassy a couple of weeks ago. If you've ever been there, then you know you are never there for a short amount of time. There is always plenty of waiting. Sometimes it's annoying and frustrating. You've got other places to go, things to do. But, sometimes I like waiting (yeah, feel free to remind me that next time I have to go there). I love observing people. "People watching", if you will. The airport is of course one of the most interesting, entertaining places to do this. But, I'm telling you, the US Embassy in Haiti is up there on the list, too. On this most recent trip there, I often found myself staring at this one particular Haitian lady and her daughter (a casual stare, mind you. not one of the 'keep-staring-even-after-they-notice-you-are-staring' stares). This woman was absolutely beautiful. Gorgeous. You could put her on the cover of a magazine. Her daughter, probably around 8, was just as beautiful. I find myself often enthralled by the beauty of a Haitian woman. At the Embassy, everyone is dressed in their best. It might not always match. Sometimes it's see-through. It doesn't fit right. But, it's likely their only "nice" outfit. The same one they wear to church every Sunday. (I don't think it matters what you look like/dress like going to church. However, we've seemed to push our Westernized thinking on to the Haitians- you have to dress nice to go to church. Often times, a Haitian will say they can't go to church because they don't have anything good enough to wear.) They aren't necessarily dressed super fancy. But, they put on the best that they have. Do their hair up nice. Pour on the perfume/cologne. And they seem to walk a little straighter, their head held a little higher. Just the same, you wonder what their life is really like. When they take off the nice clothes, go back home... what is life like for them? Another place where I often ask this questions is at the Women's Program. On Tuesdays, women come in with their child under a year old for a Child Development class. On Thursdays, it's Pre-natals. Some of the women look tired. Is this the only place they get to sit down, rest, and not be working? Some women crack jokes. Some listen carefully, to this basic information they've never heard before. Some fall asleep. I love to see them smile. They have beautiful smiles.

It's so easy to just walk right by people. But these are people. God's beautiful creations (have over-used the word "beautiful" in this post yet?). We all have our own story. And each story matters. I thought of a song by Rebecca St. James, here a some of the lyrics: "Do you see me?
The question’s in her eyes, Do you relate to the pain I can’t disguise? Oh, look beyond what you see, The outside is not all there is....God, I hear You calling out to me, In the voices of the least of these, Calling me to reach beyond my world, To the beautiful stranger, Beautiful Stranger...". These people that we see, do we take the time to actually see them? To get to know them? Which brings me to another song, and then I'm done. It's "Take a Little Time" by Jeremy Camp. You should be able to listen to it, and the lyrics are below. (sorry, i tried w/ no success to upload just the music. had to do a youtube video instead.)

"Take A Little Time"

I picture all the things that I have seen,
All the broken hearts and tainted memories,
All I see are, all these needs.
I'm tired of my selfish tragedies.
It's time that we show,
The hope that we all know.

And, take just a little time,
To give your hand,
See the world,
And take just a little time and try to understand,
That there's more going on,
Than what these eyes can see.

I came across this torn down empty street.
How helpless that I felt,
A burning urgency,
And all I see in front of me,
Are all the faces fading from this vacant scene.
It's time that we show,
The hope that we all know.

And take just a little time,
To give your hand,
See the world,
And take just a little time and try to understand,
That there's more going on,
Than what these eyes can see.

I know it all seems complicated,
There's nothing more that could be stated,
Now, is the time to kneel,
Reaching out to what is real,
So many times I've hesitated,
How much I feel my heart is aching, now.
Ohh, now.

And take just a little time,
To give your hand.
Take just a little time,
To give your hand,
See the world,
And take just a little time and try to understand,
That there's more going on,
Than what these eyes can see.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

let's talk about eyebrows.

This is a random post. about eyebrows. 

i just think it's kinda funny. how much time, energy and even money we put into them. our eyebrows. you can pluck them. wax them. hair removal. laser. shave them. or even do "eyebrow threading" to shape them. the options are endless (okay, probably not endless- those 6 are the only options i can think of). 

and isn't it just silly? i don't much care about my eyebrows, but i waste time and money on other things just as petty.  no worries, i'm not going to get all preachy here.  my purpose isn't to make everyone feel bad. but just think about it. everyday ppl get told they have HIV. cancer. their life changes as the result of an accident. ppl stave to death. child slaves. orphans. rape.  even more devastating-- people die everyday without knowing who Christ is.

and we worry about the shape of a little bit of hair above our eyes. i'm not telling you to stop plucking. i'm going to keep tweezing. especially if you have a unibrow, i would recommend that you keep plucking or waxing or whatever you gotta do.  i'm just saying we need to remember there are bigger fish to fry. there are bigger issues.  we so easily get caught up in things like eyebrows, hair color, tanning, weight, manicures--- and there is nothing wrong with those things in themselves-- but in the end, they are meaningless. so is it not foolish to obsess and spend chunks of money on things that ultimately do not matter? should we not strive to be more heaven-minded? 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Vivien took lots of pictures today and made this cool slideshow. 
Welcome to a day in the life of Vivien, Megan, 3 Livesay children, Annie & Renald.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

day 3

The Livesays headed to the states on Tuesday for Tara's marathon on Sunday, World Wide Village banquet, and visiting w/ family and friends. Vivien and I are in charge of the 5 kids here- Hope, Renald, Phoebe, Lydie, and Annie. But we have help. Geronne, the Livesays housekeeper/does-lots-of-other-stuff-too, is a ginormous help. I love that lady.  There is also a nanny that is here for a few hours in the morning to watch the little ones. 

So far, things have gone pretty smoothly. I'm not a fool. I realize it's only the 3rd day, lots could still happen. And I expect there will at least be a few crazy, chaotic days. But so far, so good. 

Vivien and Hope still have school in the mornings. Hope seems to be doing really well w/ the one-on-one.  Some days, I spend a few hours over at the Women's Building working. Yesterday, the Buxman family arrived in Haiti, so we spent some time over at their house. 

The only interesting thing I have to share so far- I let Renald take a shower with me this morning. He hadn't pooped yet. He did in the shower. Luckily, I had already gotten out and let him stay in to play in the water. I heard a grunt. But it was too late to do anything. Poop started plopping on the shower floor. (nice image, huh?) Paige told me today to always wait until after his morning poop to take off the diaper. Thanks for the tip. 

hum. tried to post some pictures, but they were not uploading.  maybe later. 

Sunday, September 27, 2009

my work with Heartline.

I returned to Haiti Sept. 22 after a visit to the States. Upon my return, I took an open ministry position at Heartline Ministries. I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to serve with Three Angels for the past year, and I am excited to see what lies ahead at Heartline.

 I will be working with the Women’s Program, in particular, the sewing class. A new group of about 25 women just started this sewing class. They start with learning the basics of sewing and within a 6 month time period advance to making clothes among many other things. This benefits the woman in so many ways. She can make clothes for her family verses buying clothes. She can sell what she makes to earn an income to provide for her family. And a handful of the women that graduate the class will be selected to work for Heartline’s “Haitian Creations” store. Haitian Creations are items hand-made by these haitian women, mainly purses and jewelry, and the profit goes back into the hands of the women that made them, with a percentage of the profit going to the Women’s Program to keep these programs running. 
The Women's ministry at Heartline also has Prenatal program, where the goal is to ensure a successful pregnancy. Lab work is done on each of the woman as they enter the program and monitored on a weekly basis. Each week women in our program are given milk, vitamins and medicine to help them have a healthy pregnancy. This program is amazing and makes a huge difference in the lives of these Haitian women and their children. I look forward to being a part of this as well! And finally, though there are many details to still work out, the plan is for me to also aid with the adoptions for Heartline's orphanage, Maranatha Children's Home. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

good sermons...

Before getting back to Haiti on Tuesday, I spent a few days with some friends in California. a couple of my friends and I were feeling super spiritual and went to two churches on Sunday.  First, Copperhill Church , where Brian Howard challenged us to pursue purposefully relationships with non-believers. Yes, we need Christian friends. We need their fellowship, encouragement and accountability. But if we aren't friends with non-believers-- what's the point? Why are we still on earth? Wouldn't the best thing be to shoot right up to heaven after we become saved? But that's not what happens. We remain on earth to be the salt and light to people that aren't saved. Brian gave this example: a guy comes before your church and tells you he is going off to be a missionary in the jungles of Africa. You ask what he will be doing there. He excitedly tells you about how he will be spending time all his time in church, doing bible studies and hanging with other missionaries. Your church probably wouldn't see the point of supporting a missionary if that's all they did. We send missionaries out to reach the lost. Brian's point was that everyone is a missionary. We need to follow Christ's example of serving and loving the lost. 

Next church service. Francis Chan at Cornerstone Church. A very convicting message. And yet the part of his message was that it doesn't matter how convicting a message is if you're not doing anything about it! He gave a good illustration: you tell your daughter to clean her room. she says "Oh, that's a great idea!". And then she comes back to you later, "Well, I really like what you said about cleaning my room. I thought a lot about it. I got some friends together and we talked about it. We even prayed about it. Cleaning my room would be a really good thing." Would you be pleased with your daughter?? No... because she never actually cleaned her room. 

And I'll leave you with a short video clip of Francis. This was not from his message Sunday, but I recently watched it and it has stuck w/ me. 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why driving is different in the States....

  • you can't honk at people
  • you don't have to be watching out for potholes
  • you can't (shouldn't) drive on the sidewalk
  • you get in trouble if you don't obey the traffic lights
  • you should really stay on your side of the road
  • click it or ticket
  • you can easily drive over 35 mph
  • you don't have police officers telling you to do the opposite of what the traffic light is telling you
  • it's kind of a big deal if you tap another vehicle

Driving in Haiti is just way more fun.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

That time of month...

It’s that time of month again. Actually, it’s almost over. It started a few days ago. I’m hoping to be done with it in the next day or two. I HATE this time of month. Payroll time. I know, I know-- sounds crazy. Most people look forward to payroll. You there. In America, with your job- you love payroll time, don’t you? And sure, maybe there are a few accountants in the states that might grumble when it’s time to work on payroll. I’ve never dealt with it in the states, so I can’t say too much about it. But, if I had to guess, I would guess it can’t be that complicated. With your computers and bookkeeping programs and systems. With your printers and checks and banks. And I highly doubt employers in the states EVER (except maybe in special, extreme circumstances) have their employees complain and bring the money back saying “No, this isn’t right.” That would be because you have an organized system of how things works. You have rules and guidelines that the employees understand. 

And now I will proceed to tell you how payroll looks for me in Haiti. 

I normally start a few days before the end of the month. I start reviewing the schedule-- absences, advance pays, substitutes, and rarely, but sometimes someone may have been docked pay. I enter the info into a spreadsheet. A lot can still happen in the next few days, but I go ahead and get an idea of what payroll is going to cost. And now the real fun begins. I need to somehow get that money. We, of course, have to pay our employees in cash. Our nannies and most employees get paid in Haitian Dollars (HTD). However, some of our higher paid employees (director, security, nurse, assistants, etc) get paid in US money. We use to do wire transfers to get the money to Haiti. At a normal Haitian bank, it would take weeks or even months to get a check cashed. At the bank, when we picked up our wire, we could get the money all in US and then exchange some of it to HTD. We have a new method, but in many ways, it is just as complicated but with less fees. There are several businesses that have their own little banks. You give them the check. They give you the cash. However, they make their money by giving it to you at a smaller exchange rate. If the exchange rate at the bank is 8.2%, they might give it to you at 8.1%. If I ask very nicely, they might give me up to $500 in U.S. dollars. But, I need closer to $2,000 (They stick to HTD because they make their money off the exchange). For this month, I ended up making two trips to cash checks, giving me $1,000 US. Close enough. I just had to pick certain employees that would hopefully not complain if I paid them in HTD verses US. 

So, now I’ve got some US money, not enough, but we’ll make do. And some HTD. This isn’t over yet though. The bank-like place couldn’t give me anything smaller than 100 goudes. (The Haitian currency). I need 25’s in order to make most of our employees salaries. Okay. Next step-- take it to the street. I send an assistant out to try and get smaller bills. he comes back unsuccessful. I go out with him later in the day. We asked at least 5 people. No one had 25’s. Or even 20’s and 5’s. At this time, it’s the last day of the month. So we exchange our money for 50’s. I’m just going to have to round up for everyone’s pay. Whew. It is NOT easy getting the change you need! 

I finally get workable bills. Finish up the spreadsheet. Write on and stuff envelopes. And the people can start picking up their money from me. Because of day offs-- it’s usually a few days before it’s all picked up. And because of shift changes-- I have people knocking on my door all hours of the day. 7AM. 8PM. People interrupt my showers. They interrupt my Jack Bauer. My reading. My sleep. And then so far this month, 2 people have complained and fought that their pay was not correct. (yes, we have made some changes about how we do it, so I expected it more-so this month.) You can’t simply say “yes, it’s right” and expect it to be over. You can’t even simply show them how/why it’s right. A long debate is required. If you are lucky, you can keep it from being a heated debate. And in the end, of course, you are right. They either come to an understanding of that. Or, you get tired of repeating yourself and trying to “make your case” so you just tell them to accept their pay because it is what it is. 

...... Is payroll time over yet???

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hidden Meanings is a fun little book full of Haitian Proverbs. Some make you laugh. Some make you ponder. Some make you wince. 

I was reading through some of them a while back with the nannies. (They just like to hear me try to read Creole). They all enjoyed it when I read this one: 

Mwen pa’t manje pwa, m’ pa ka poupou pwa. 

Literally, it means- I didn’t eat beans, I can’t poop beans. The meaning of it-- I can’t give you what I don’t have. I can’t confess to what I don’t know. 

There’s truth in that! I think it’s a nice little proverb. Of course, the kids just like it because it says “poupou”. (yup, just like American kids). I would randomly quote this proverb, just because it gives the nannies and kids enjoyment. And it’s become somewhat my catchphrase. The kids will often come up to me and say it. Especially Jean Baptiste. It’s kinda our thing. It’s almost just our way of greeting each other. 


“Bonswa Jean Ba!”

“Megan! M’ pa’t manje pwa, m’ pa ka poupou pwa!” 

And that’s how we roll. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

just some tid bits

  • We have a team from Canada here right now. they do say "out and about" just like you would expect them to.  i like to hear them say it. it's fun. 
  • i've caught myself speaking in an accent sometimes. not a haitian one. too many teams from too many different places i think. and i've caught myself saying "you know" like those ppl from Minnesota... 
  • i can't be exactly sure how many kids they have at Wings of Hope right now, but our tour guide told us it was in-between 38 & 39. 
  • you're suppose to pay your bills, right?? so why do they make it so darn difficult?? i tried to pay my Verizon bill online. really, i did. but, i couldn't remember my log-in or my password. (which i KNEW that would happen, so i wrote the info down on sticky note. problem is-- i lost the sticky note). if you forgot your log-in or password info, they can text you a new one. problem is-- my phone cannot send or receive text messages. still haven't paid that bill....
  • in the car today, we looked to one side of the road and saw a bunch of goats. alive. looked on the other side of the ride and saw a bunch of goats. skinned and beheaded. guess someone was having goat for dinner.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Medika Mamba

a friend of mine here in Haiti, Tara, is running a marathon to raise money for Medika Mamba, a program that feeds the hungriest and most malnourished children in Haiti. please check out their blog for more information. Renald is one of the lives changed that i have seen with my own eyes. 

Yes, there are so many different ways you can help. but i'm telling you about this one because it's a cause i believe in. i've seen it work. i've seen it change lives. 

please consider what you can give. your gift will directly give these children a chance at a life. 

click here to learn more and find out how you can help

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

things i’ve learned from working with adoptions:

1. you never get the same information twice. here’s how something will play out (a different color for the different days & different info)-- the dad is coming to the Orphanage and will bring his birth certificate. the mom doesn’t have one. the parents live 11 hours away in the country side. we will have to go there to get their birth certificates. they have no phone, we can’t contact them any other way. the mom lives in the country side, the dad is here in petion-ville. but the dad’s birth certificate is in the country side. the mom doesn’t have one any more, she never got it back after a previous child was adopted out. the mom never had a birth certificate, it used to not be required, so she didn’t need one from when her previous child was adopted out. they made the 2 day travel back and forth, but couldn’t find the dad’s birth certificate. it must have been wiped out by the flood.

2. you can have many different spellings for your name. in fact, you can spell it a different way every day if you want to! it might be spelled one way on your birth certificate, another way on your ID card, another way on your passport, and you sign it matching none of the above.

3. never take “it should be done in a week” to actually mean “it should be done in a week”.

4. Pet├Ęt se vre (maybe that’s true) is the only way to respond to info birth parents give you.

5. you can never ask too many questions. it’s also important to ask the same question many different ways. of course, that might give you many different answers. maybe one of them will be what you were looking for.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

it ain't easy.

I had a thought. And this is it-- We've gotten so use to things in life being easy, that when things get hard, we think something is wrong.

I think we're mistaken.

Who ever said life was suppose to be easy?? More specifically, the Christian life. Jesus never said it would be easy. In fact, this is what He said:

"If the world hates you, know that is has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." John 15:18-19

"Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.... Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name's sake." Matthew 10:16-22

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." Matthew 7:13-14

But why is the narrow gate so hard?? Why is it hard to follow Christ??

Because He requires everything of us.

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple....So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26-27;33

It is more than simply giving Christ a part of your life. It's giving Him everything. And that is hard. It's more than giving Him Sunday morning. It's more than giving Him 10%. It's more than saying the right prayers and following the rules. Following Christ is realizing that there is absolutely NOTHING on this earth that compares to Him and living accordingly.

I think of the disciple's. For example, Peter & Andrew and James & John (Matthew 4:18-22). Peter and Andrew were casting a net into the sea. Christ said "Follow me". And Scripture tells us they immediately left their nets and followed him. As they were walking, they passed James and John, in their boat fishing with their father. Jesus called to them and "Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him."

So then I try to picture myself in that situation. I'm pretty sure this is how it would play out: Let's say I'm at work. At the Vineyard (the christian bookstore i used to work at). Jesus comes in. "Hey Megan, come with me." My response, "Jesus. Fancy seeing you here. But, can you hold on just a minute? I'm right in the middle of trying to convince this customer to buy this awesome ESV study bible.... oh hey, I bet you could help me sell it to them!! But then sure, I can come with you. Well, I don't get off work for another 5 hours, but maybe I could talk with my boss. Um, but where exactly are we going?? I should probably run by my apartment to get a few things. Then I will come with you. Well, actually, just so you know... I have to be back at work tomorrow at 8am."

I just simply cannot imagine stopping what I was doing and leaving EVERYTHING (and everyone) behind without question. Oh sure, it's easy to THINK or tell ourselves that we would. But you know, even though Jesus can't physically come up to us and tell us to literally follow Him, as a believer the same thing is required of us as was required of the disciples. We ARE called to drop everything and follow Him. He might not tell each of us to sell our homes or to leave our families. But we all must LOVE Him more than any of those things. If we love Him and seek to glorify Him as we should, we would not hesitate to walk away from and give up anything else.

I heard a preacher (I believe it was Paul Washer) say that he disagrees when people say we must seek to make God number 1 in our life. To make Him number 1 implies He is simply first on a list with many things following. We should not seek to make Him number 1 in our life--- He should be ALL of our life. It's not God first and then this or that. It's simply God. He is everything. And He requires we give Him all of ourself. Like the widow.

"And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing tot he offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in EVERYTHING SHE HAD, all she had to live on." Mark 12: 41-44

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

restaurant fun in haiti...

it doesn't so much matter what you ordered or what you want. you just take what you get.

I was at a restaurant with some friends. one friend and i decided to try the pizza. we wanted a medium pepperoni pizza. we were told they couldn't serve us a medium, only a large. for whatever reason- their medium pizza pan just wasn't working... only the large. okay. then we'll take a large pepperoni pizza. come to find out, they are out of pepperoni too. (please note- we weren't just making up things that we wanted, we made our choices off of a menu). okay. then we'll just take a cheese. she then asks if we want anything on it. yes, we do. we wanted pepperoni but you told us you didn't have any so we settled for cheese. we finally get the pizza ordered. unsure of what we were going to end up with. we got a large pizza with green onions and tomato.

at another restaurant. we were a fairly large group. our orders are pretty simple, mostly sticking with cheese burgers & chicken sandwiches, with a few exceptions. i ordered a ham sandwich. the waiter brought out about half of the orders and we had to wait a little longer for the rest. the other orders kinda came out one at a time. a lady was brought her club sandwich. the waiter was also holding a chicken sandwich. we told him no one else was waiting on a chicken sandwich. he walks away. then comes back, still holding the chicken sandwich. he then tells her that what he gave her wasn't the club, he accidently gave her the chicken. except, it didn't look anything like the other 6 chicken sandwiches that were ordered. and what was in front of her and exactly what the menu said a club sandwich would have. we just shooed him away and told him it was fine. though he insisted she had the wrong thing. me and one other girl are waiting for our ham sandwiches. the waiter comes holding two plates. he says one is a ham sandwich, i take it. he says the other is a club. we told him we were needing another ham, not club. so then he just changes the name of it. oh, well, then this IS the ham sandwich. my ham sandwich had no ham on it. just cheese, lettuce and tomato. her ham sandwich was actually the club.

Epi'dor is fun because you never really know what you are going to get to drink. they might be out of coke, but they don't tell you that. they just let you order a coke, then they hand you a luke-warm fruit drink. or, from our team's experience--- you try to clarify that you want a coke to drink, and they yell at you telling you that a coke comes w/ the meal. yet the people before you didn't clarify they wanted a coke, and they ended up with.... something else. or, you say "two cokes" and the receipt says "one coke one sprite". you just never know.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


cutest cat ever. and may i also add, a proud mother who gave birth two. they didn't make it, but that's apparently normal for a young mother and her first litter. (and her last!) i think becoming a mother though pushed her out of the kitten stage. now she is just cuddly, calm, and sweet. she is definitely one of the best cats ever. (no offense to Newton or Sassie. they are of course among the best too)

the upside down w/ the legs above the head is just always cute!

Eames and my friend Dana bonded....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


It's more than just what you can see, it's what you choose to believe.

What do you see??

An old woman or a young girl? You have probably seen this picture before, so you know to look for both. But when you looked at it for the first time, you only saw one or the other. You could see the old woman, while someone standing right next to you sees the young girl. If you got angry and starting yelling at that person "You fool!! It is clearly an old woman! What are you thinking? Either your vision is horrible or you simply have no brain in your head!", you would soon come to realize that you are the fool. You assumed that what you saw from your perspective was the only thing there was to see. We all know that there is more than one way to view this picture, but we usually fail to realize that this is also the case in most everything in life. And who could blame us? How can you not assume that what you see is that only truth? While it is natural to do this, we must work to overcome it, because it will also make a fool of us. This old woman/young girl is a small, small example, but it proves the point. There is always another perspective. Another side to the story. More than meets the eye.

"The underside of a weaving usually makes no sense. Even the upper side makes little sense if we view just a tiny piece. Only God sees the upper side and only He sees the entire fabric in it's complete pattern. Therefore, we must trust Him to work out all the details of history to His glory, knowing that His glory and our good are bound up together." -Jerry Bridges

While the point of this quote is urging us to trust God in all things, because only He sees "the big picture", it also reinforces the fact of how little we know. Most situations in our life provide us with a very limited view. God is the only one who sees all of it; but we need to consider that even another person might be able to offer another perspective.

With all of that said, I'm going to get down and dirty and apply this to Three Angels. This issue has just come up a lot for me lately. It seems to be the root of many recent problems. We see or hear something, and just tend to run with it without considering it might not be as it appears. I am so very guilty of this. So I am not preaching or lecturing to anyone, because it's a lesson I am still learning myself. And maybe that is why I have just so clearly seen it in every problem. We all have our different roles and reason for being a part of Three Angels. Being a waiting adoptive parent certainly puts you in a completely different situation than that of a board member or volunteer. But I pray that we could all trust each other and not let our different perspectives divide us. Sometimes we just have to take a truth that we know and keep reminding ourselves of it when everything seems to contradict it. The board and volunteers work very very hard to give the best that we can to these kids. We strive to run TAs with integrity. If you hear or see something that seems to contradict that, please consider that there might be more to the story or another perspective. I often have to remind myself of this truth- I cannot understand the pain and whatever 5,000 other emotions there are waiting for a child to come home. Without reminding myself of that, it would be easy to jump to false conclusions in some situations.

I am not simply applying this to adoptive parent and board members/volunteers. But, in those two positions, our experiences are so very different, it is easy to fall into the trap of forgetting the other side very likely has a different perspective. However, I think EVERYONE in ALL THINGS need to work on being more sensitive to this. Just because you see the old woman and I see the young girl does not mean we should draw our swords and fight each other thinking what we see is the only truth. I am not saying that there is not an absolute truth (totally different subject), I am simply saying we should consider there might be more than meets the eye before we let ourselves become the fool. Again, I am not preaching to anyone, this is a lesson for myself as much as anyone. I am just a stumbling fool after all....

Saturday, April 4, 2009

back in blog land...

sorry i've been a blog slacker...it's hard enough to keep up w/ posting pictures on the TA blog, threeangelsorphanage.blogspot.com...but i'm gonna try to get back into the swing of this!

There are two guests staying at the Orphanage right now, one who has never been to Haiti. so we went out yesterday to see the sights! even if it's stuff i've already seen, it's always good to get out and about every now and then. we actually did some new stuff that i hadn't done before, so i had a really good time. we went by the Palace, which i have seen before, but also stopped at near-by museum. there, we learned about the Indians, why haitians are scared of dogs, the slaves brought over, Christopher Columbus, and the guy Petion-ville was named after. did you know the Santa Maria sunk around Haiti? they have the anchor at the museum. anyway, you can do your own research if you want to learn more!! :) then, we decided we wanted to just see a neighborhood. we could always go up the mountain and see the where the rich ppl live, visit other orphanages, see the forts.....but we wanted to just see Haiti. So Junior, our wonderful guide and driver, took us somewhere he used to go as a kid. we parked the car and walked around a little bit. Although some Haitians might not like their pictures taken, you can be sure a child always will!! we stopped and played (took tons of picture) of some neighborhood kids. they liked to pose for us, and then look at their picture. they were especially fond of the "kung fu" pose. we had a good time! here are some pics of our outing...