Friday, November 4, 2011

my moto rides

We don't have a car or truck... so my main transportation since moving here as been by motorcycle (referred to simply as "moto" here). Up until recently, it was by moto taxi... until some friends that were in Haiti short term gave us the moto they had bought here. Thank you Tim and Ruth Weber!!

I love my moto rides. My time on the moto is sacred, really. For one reason or another, I am always drawn to reflect, ponder, muse and contemplate life, God, friends, poverty and justice.

I see this

and this...

and I'm in awe of the beauty of God's creation. I mean, it is gorgeous. I also see beauty in the faces we drive by. But then, sometimes I become angry. Where is the freaking justice??! These people have a crazy hard life. Daily, they walk up and down a mountain just to get water & food for their family. They struggle to get by each day. Life is simply about surviving to them. Shouldn't life be about more than just surviving?? Why do some people have all pleasures and comforts they could possible want... while others just hope to make it through the day. This makes me angry. I usually go full cycle on my moto rides though. I see the struggle and the injustice and get angry. I see the beauty and the unbreakable spirit of the people and I'm filled with amazement and awe. 

I love my moto rides. 

Monday, August 22, 2011


Many of us here in Haiti joke about how much we dread going to church. Okay, it's really not a joke. It's just not fun. Yes, yes, I get it. The purpose of church isn't to have fun. But let me tell you a little bit about church in Haiti. Also, keep in mind that I don't speak Creole, so I don't even know what's going on most of the time (although Gwenn tells me I'm probably better off not knowing what's being said).

It is hot. I know. Some of you think it's hot where you live, too. You look at the weather widget on your phone or computer and think, "hey, it's the same temp here as it is in Haiti. Why do those people complain so much?"I'm not going to go on too long about the weather. Let me just say- WE DON'T HAVE AIR CONDITIONING. When I go to our church in the village, we have to walk a small part of the way (not nearly as much as most ppl probably walk to get there). I'm covered in sweat when we get there. We go inside. But not to escape the heat in a nice cool building. We go inside to a cramped one-room building. We don't even have fans. It's freaking hot!!

A few things I noticed about our church in the village that are probably different than your church in the states.

First, I walk through someone's yard, corn fields, and past chickens & goats to get there. When we get there, someone leads us to our seats. I guess the best term for these people is "ushers"... however their name tags say "officer". And I think "officer" is much more fitting. Through-out the service, they watch for people sleeping or slouching or doing anything not appropriate for church by their standards and they will poke them or nudge them or pull their shoulders back so they are sitting up straight. They are much more disruptive than the person slouching was! If you are a visitor, they will make you stand and introduce yourself. I was visiting at the Mangine's church this past Sunday... and apparently, they do the same thing. It's awkward and weird. Almost as awkward and weird as the "shake the hands of the people around you" time in the states (i HATE that!!!). The service is long. Our church has a Sunday School from 8-9, then the regular service is 9-11:30/12ish. The church etiquette police stay busy. During the service, an old woman gets up to spit out the window. That's normal in the states too, right?? Our church also has a "special" clap. We use it after the visitors introduce themselves. And... I'm not really sure when else they use it. I just join in when they start it. Most churches believe that women need to keep their heads covered in church. If they don't have a head wrap or scarf, they just put a wash cloth on their head. I wondered what that was about at first... I thought it was maybe just a handy place to keep their sweat rag! The pastor says stuff and we repeat it. Like "mesi Jezi" (thank you Jesus) over and over.

And that's really just a starting list of what makes Haiti church different.

Some more specifics from Gwenn's church this week. The first few minutes (well, more than a few minutes) they announced how many visitors and how much offering each Sunday School class had. And then the class that had the most visitors gets a banner, same w/ the class with the most offering. There was lots of singing. It was during part of the singing, where for a split second I thought, "This isn't so bad. Why do we always dread church again?". I was enjoying the moment. Seeing the beauty in the people around me. Watching them sway their hips and step to the music, waving their arms and singing loudly. It was good. But then that song got over. And we moved on to other announcements or something else less exciting.

Oh, and this part is very much like it is in the States... you just wouldn't expect it here. People judge each other based on what they are wearing. A lady walked down the aisle before the service started and I heard the women next to me point out a spot on her skirt. During a song, a lady went to fix the collar for a woman a few pews in front of her. I also heard the women next to me point out when a Boujwa (creole spelling of bourgeois. The "elite" in Haiti) woman remained seated while everyone else was standing. Through missionaries over the years, we've pushed some of our western civilization ideas and traditions on the developing countries. You have to look nice in church. If you don't have the proper attire, don't even bother going. So even here, where people struggle to get by each day, they make sure to have a decent outfit for Sunday. And if they don't, they will for sure be ridiculed. Okay, sorry, enough on that tangent.

An older woman (well, not just "older". She was old.) that was blind and very possible deaf to got up to sing a special. It... was very special. Off-key and all of the place... but she sang loud and proud. Though there might have been a few snickers when she hit the high notes, everyone clapped for her when she was done.

At 12:45, it seemed like things were wrapping up. I wondered at which point when someone was up there speaking it was the sermon. I didn't really notice anything like a sermon, but figured it had been in there somewhere. No. At that time, the Pastor got up to preach. Thankfully (as we'd been there for 3 hrs now), the message was only around 15 minutes. And then the service quickly wrapped up after that.

And that is my very brief overview of church in Haiti. I'm sure after more weeks in church, there will be more posts to follow this one.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

PAP vs. Jacmel

I'm not in Port au Prince anymore, that's for sure. That has pros and cons. Mostly pros. :)  I love living outside of the city! However, there are a few things that I'm still getting used to. In Port au Prince, there are huge, nice super markets everywhere. Okay, not everywhere, but there are a lot of them. Pre-quake, the Caribbean Market was just a walk away from me. You could get anything at the Caribbean Market. Oh and then there was Mega Mart!! It's like a Sams Club (they even check your receipt when you leave!). And those were just the two markets I frequented the most. But there were other options.

There is no Caribbean Market here. Or anything even close. The closest market is probably a 10-15 minute moto ride. Which isn't bad. And I'm getting use to it. My selection, that is. When you are use to the Caribbean Market... this place has got nothing. I mean nothing. So in the market department, the city spoiled me.

But I love where I live. Depending on where you're at in the city, and if city power is on, you can still see the starts pretty good in Port. But nothing like it is here. AND nothing beats star gazing while laying out by the ocean. Have I mentioned lately that if I walk across the street, I'm on the beach? Cause I am. :)

And I love the village that we live near. Tavet. It's nothing like walking through the city. I mean, obviously, cause there's grass and trees, not buildings. But the people are different. Sure, I'm still the white person. That will never change. But I feel like I get called "blan" at least slightly less often. And instead of everyone coming up to me asking for me to give them something (again, not that that doesn't happen) but more often, people are offering things to me.

Port, it was nice knowing you. We had a good time. But I'm sorry. Our relationship is over. I've found something better. Known as Cayes Jacmel, Haiti!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

the latest.

I'm just not a good blogger. That's all there is to it. I try. I try so that anyone who cares to keep up with me can just go to a website, and there's the latest update. I guess what it really comes down to is that I suck at updates. Everything just seems normal to me. I look back on my day and don't see anything as interesting enough to share. Plus, my internet is horrible. And doesn't even work half (most) of the time. But I'm going to try to get better at this. So bear with me. 

We've got a few things going on here at Leve house. Francois and I will take walks through the village just to visit with families. There's one in particular we like to visit with. I met Pol and his family when I came to Cayes Jacmel in February. He is diabetic and has an ulcer on his leg. Francois and I have been in communication with some medical professionals and have started him on some Oral Antidiabetics, to control his blood sugar and help the infection. We check on him and visit with his family usually at least once a week. His family is very sweet and giving. His wife serves us bread and coffee and usually sends us off with something too. Last week, she gave us a pumpkin to make soup with. I love the relationship we have with them. Although we do give to them and try to help them out, they are never expecting things from us. They are just happy to see us and visit with us. And they love to give to us what they can as well.

My friends and missionary family, the Mangines, live about 20 minutes from our house. It's nice to be able to see and hang out with them often. Last week, I went with Gwenn to visit a tent city. The organization they work with, Joy in Hope, as been working with this tent city since the earthquake. We gave out diapers and visited with families. Gwenn also introduced me to a lady named Carole. Carole is wanting to start a business selling plates of food. She is 29 years old and has 5 kids, ranging from 7 years old to twins that are 7 months. Leve Project and Trades of Hope are going to partner up to help Carole start her business and be successful. I'm excited to see how with a little bit of money and some business planning we can completely change the direction of Carole's life! 

Okay... just wanted to do a quick update on where Leve Project is at. I will try to make my posts more fun in the future!! But no promises. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

this is my shower... but the water doesn't come down very well from the shower head... 

so i just shower this way...

 and this is how i had to wash my clothes. but after hanging them out to dry... and having to move them inside because it started raining... i'm pretty sure they ended up dirtier than they were before...

Friday, June 3, 2011

sorry, it's a long one!! 

I finally made it back to Haiti!!  I left Haiti on Feb. 11, 2010, almost a month after the earthquake. Ever since that day, I was anxiously awaiting the day I would move back. Almost a year and a half later, the time came. After being in the states for so long, leaving was harder than I expected it to be. I had a home church and was just starting to get more involved. I was making new friends and meeting new people. But then it was time to pack up yet again and journey back to Haiti.

I think it's an unwritten law that traveling is to never go smoothly or as planned. Such was the case for me this time. I made it to Miami. Found my gate. But a few minutes before boarding time, an announcement was made that the flight was cancelled. Even though traveling not going as planned is usual to me, what I was not accustomed to was the airline actually giving me a voucher for a hotel and food! I headed out early the next morning to try again. This time was successful. My flight got into Haiti around 8 am. Francois meet me at the airport with a tap tap. We picked up some of my things that I had left behind here and wasted no time heading to Cayes Jacmel. Our drive was a little under 3 hours. We could have probably found a better tap tap for the journey. It didn't provide much shelter from the rain. And there were may times, weaving through the mountains, I was sure we weren't going to make it. The truck would sputter and stall and make lots of interesting noises. I keep looking behind us, expecting to see parts of the truck fall off in the road. Then, because this is haiti, our driver pulled over on the side of the road. He argued with Francois that our house was farther than he thought it would be and he would need us to pay him more money. They argued for awhile, while we just sat idling on the side of the road. The driver got back in and took off again, only to pull over and have the same argument a few minutes later. We finally made it to the house. We paid the driver the extra money he wanted. 

I knew the house would be empty. I had tried to prepare myself for that. But the idea of "empty" could only fully register to me once I was at the house. I walked to my room. It was just a concrete box with a light bulb. I opened up my suitcases, but I had no where to put things. And everything seemed to smell or feel gross. Three reason for that: 1) some of this stuff has been sitting in storage at a friends' house in Haiti for over a year. 2) since I packed up and left Evansville, I've made 2 stops, having to repack several times. In the end, dirty and clean things were just thrown in together. 3) the rain soaked through my bags, getting most things inside wet. So I have no where to unpack things and most things are damp and dirty anyway. I had packed an air mattress that we were able to get blown up before the batteries in the pump died. So at least I had that. We didn't have electricity when I got to the house, but it came on at some point and was on through most of the night. 

The list of things we needed was ginormous. But of course we couldn't get it all right away. Also, I had not planned very well and didn't have much cash with me. I meant to find an ATM at the airport to get some Leve Project cash out... but that didn't happen. So after some tips at the airport and paying for our ride to Cayes Jacmel, I was left with $20 cash. Though it was still raining, Francois and I hopped on motorcycles to see if we could find a place to withdraw some cash. We also had a list of some supplies to pick up. Top on the list was drinking water for the house. We stopped at one place to try and get cash, they were closed. Francois notices most places we're driving by are closed and that's when he realizes it was a haitian holiday. Everything closes on holidays. Seriously. Everything. We continued driving around to at least find some drinking water. After a couple stops, we found some and headed back to the house. Next, I wanted to get online. It kills me not to be able to just hop online when I need to. We tried the hotel across the street that advertises wi-fi. They said their internet was down. Luckily, directly next to our house is a cyber cafe (internet cafe), so I was able to set up there and pay for an hour of internet. An hour flies by. I didn't get much done. Plus, it was slow and I got kicked off several times. 

Today, day 2, has been just has crazy. When I have a list of a 1,000 things to do, and things don't work out, I feel very unproductive. First on my list today was to get internet hooked up at the house. One of Francois' friends talked to someone who knew where we could go. So we got directions and headed toward Jacmel on our motos. We show up there and find out it's not actually an internet provider, it's a cable service. Not what we're looking for. The lady at the desk gives us someone's phone number. We call them. They tell us they'll meet us where we at. That seemed weird to me. But we stood in front of the cable place and waited. A guy shows up. I can only catch bits of the conversation, but I hear "2,000 dollars american" and knew it wasn't what we were wanting. I think it was some sort of satellite or dish service. Not what we're looking for. This guy points us in another direction. We take off. But after still not seeing an internet provider place, we stop and ask someone else. One guy seems to know what we're looking for. So we follow his instructions and take off again. We get to a building where they tell us it's actually across the street, the Access Haiti (internet provider) operates out of the Digicel (cellphone service) building. We go there. They tell us we are at the right place, but the guy that does Access Haiti isn't currently in. We get his phone number and give him a call. He isn't sure if Access Haiti will work at our house, but says he will come out tomorrow (or sometime soon?) to check it out. And that was the end of that. We're no where closer to having internet at the house than we were when we started out the day. While in Jacmel, we stopped at a market to pick up a few things. They didn't have much. I got some dish and laundry soap. Trash bags. Matches and candles. Bread. Maybe a couple other things. While I was at the market, Francois was checking near-by to find a trash can. He found one that was too expensive, so bought a large plastic laundry basket instead. It works just fine. I felt very Haitian riding a moto with a laundry basket in between me and the driver. You always see them carrying all kinds of interesting things. For example, me and my laundry basket passed by a guy carrying roofing tin on his head while riding a moto. There is so much stuff we need for the house, so I felt unsuccessful coming back with my small purchases. After dropping off that stuff, we went back out again, this time in the rain, to look at a refrigerator and stove Francois had seen before. They were decently priced, but they only took cash. We still hadn't been able to get much cash, Francois had come up with $100 for us, but that was it. So we left there with nothing. 

I hadn't been online since my hour the day before, so I decided that would be next on my list for the day. But when we got back to the house, there was no power. Which meant the cyber cafe next door wouldn't have power. Which means no internet for me. Finally, the power comes on. I pack up my computer and we head next door. It's closed. Fail. Back to the house. Francois keeps checking next door for me and finally sees the cyber cafe open up. I spend an hour and half online, but still feel like I get nothing done. I cannot wait to get internet set up at the house. So here I am, back at the house, in my office (my cement box room, on the floor with my computer in my lap and everything spread out around me) typing this up so it'll be ready to post next time I can get online. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

the meganary.

I believe it was in Grand Cayman last year when the name "meganary" was first said. A group of Three Angels ladies were on vacation in the Cayman Islands, thanks to the Monfils and their condo there. It was Shannon, Colleen, Gretchen, Leah, Janelle and myself.

I'm not sure how the conversation went. But I suppose someone used the word "missionary" in reference to me. I'm not really a fan of that word. I hope the word "missionary" doesn't take that personally. I just don't like being called one. And really, I don't like labels at all...  I feel like calling myself a missionary is putting a label on me.  I don't mind calling other people missionaries. Lottie Moon was a missionary. Adoniram Judson was a missionary. Elisabeth and Jim Elliot, they were missionaries. But, it just doesn't seem right to put my name, Megan Haug on that list.

I'm just a 25 year old single woman that lives and does mission work in Haiti. Aren't we all called to serve others and share the gospel? Whether you live in America, Haiti, China, Africa or the Cayman Islands (Hey, that place was amazing... I've considered moving and making that my mission field!!). So really, I'm not doing anything special. I'm not doing anything extraordinary. And if you knew me or worked with me during that first 1 1/2 I was in Haiti... you would know that! I'm just an average Joe. No different than any other believer. Well, okay... maybe different... but I'm certainly not any holier or stronger in my faith.

So that's the first reason I don't refer to myself as a missionary. The second is because that word comes with many stereotypes! We automatically assume a missionary is going to be these certain things. And most of those "missionary" things... are things that I am not. I don't wear long skirts... or even skirts at all. I have short spiky hair that I recently had dyed. I have tattoos. I enjoy a good beer. I probably don't talk like a missionary, either. While, I think the idea of a missionary is changing and developing... I mean, look at the Livesays or the Mangines, they aren't your stereotypical missionaries either!.... I still don't like the label.

And, so as a result of my protest to being called a missionary... I was dubbed the Meganary. I guess that just means I'm my own type of missionary?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

daily life... part 1

It's been a while now since I said I would start posting about my Haiti experience. I managed to get in one post, about my move to Haiti, and that's it. Then, I just didn't know where to go from there. What to share, what not to share? While I love Haiti, and can't wait to get back... life there was hard. I'm going to keep this post pretty light, just sharing what things looked like for me day to day. Then I'll get into some deeper stuff. Maybe.

When people would find out that I lived and worked at an orphanage, of course the next question was "So what do you do there?". I always had a hard time answering that question. I'll try to answer it now. This will be more of what my first 7 months looked like living there. In April 2009, a doctor and his wife moved to Haiti... and having other people there changed my role and the day to day somewhat. So this is what it looked like when I lived there alone.

Eventually, I tried to make a better system. But at first, I was usually woken up, around 5 or 5:30, by a child peeking in my door and pointing out to the patio saying "slip". I finally figured out that it meant they were needing some of the clean underwear that was hanging out to dry on my patio. This went on for a good while. It seems so simple, right? Just don't put their underwear out to try on my patio. Or, collect it and give it to them at the end of the day, before going to bed. It sounds simple and easy. But, nothing is as simple or easy as it sounds. Especially in Haiti. Especially if it involves making a change.

I would usually get up around 6. After time, I started sleeping in until 7. If I wasn't woken up by kids needing underwear, it was a nanny needing milk, food, paycheck, money... any number of things. A cook would come to my room in the morning to get the cash they needed to buy the fresh food for the lunch meal. Usually some type of veggies and chicken. I would also have to go unlock the depot so the cooks, laundry ladies and house-cleaning could get their supplies for the day. Rice, maggi, onions, garlic and beans for the cook. At least two different soaps plus bleach for the laundry ladies. Once, when a board member was in country, we tried to convince them that they didn't need all these different types of soap. It didn't work. Pin-sol, bleach, and surface cleaner for house-keeping.

After everyone had what they needed for the morning, I would head back to my room for my cold, bucket shower. The nannies were usually doing their morning worship of singing and prayers at this point. I loved hearing them sing. I remember once, while I was taking my bucket shower, hearing them sing "Amazing Grace" in Kreyol. I've never heard a more beautiful rendition of it.

Here's my shower. We didn't have running water, but a drip would come out of the shower facet. The blue tub would collect that drip. Sometimes water would drip, sometimes it wouldn't. Someone usually had to carry water up in a bucket to fill the blue tub. And that was my water for showering and flushing the toilet. 

When I first moved there, I spent a lot of time cleaning and organizing. Here I was sorting through some clothes, so we could figure out what we had and what we needed by sizes and gender. And the next one is Reece helping me sort through all the stuff i the storage room in my room. 
I think that's enough for part 1... part 2 hopefully coming soon!!