Haitian Diaries

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Day 1: We were greeted in the airport with the delightful sounds of Caribbean music. I was inspired immediately by the joy the Haitians feel towards life and their ability to celebrate it. We then proceeded to retrieve the dozen or so suitcases we checked. The crowdedness of the baggage claim reminded me of the crowded streets of Delhi at rush hour. In the middle of all the chaos I couldn’t help but notice the eclectic art hanging on the wall us. It was of a harvest festival. The people in the painting looked happy and pleased at what a season of toiling had brought them. A reminder to me to stop and smell the roses every once in a while. We then proceeded down narrow streets that could barely fit a mule, let a lone the 14 seat van we were driving. Boom! We just hit our tenth pot hole. The markets on Saturday are alive with people. I wish I could have photographed it, but the locals have grown weary of the spotlight. We finally arrived at Hope House. An oasis. Our home away from home. This place will protect us as we embark on our journey with our Haitian counter parts, to better help them mold young minds in the coming year. As twilight came we sang songs of worship and broke bread together. Another reminder to me to be thankful each day for the breath of life God has given us. Before laying our heads to rest we prepared 40 teacher gift bags. A true testament to the way humanity can band together when needed. Tomorrow we will attend a Haitian worship service. I am excited to get to worship with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Day 2: The breakfast bell rang at 6 am. We arose early to see the school where we ill be teaching for the next few days. Upon getting up I was reminded that I was not in Kansas anymore. I shared a frigid shower with a lizard, two mosquitos, and a spider. I say this all in good humor because my hosts have been nothing but gracious. They have made sure that we have everything we want and need. We then went to worship with our Haitian brothers and sisters. Their sense of faith is remarkable. You should see what the earthquake did to a few of the homes across the street. But, by faith and the grace of God this church still stands. Tomorrow we begin our work at the school with out Haitian colleagues.

 

Day 3: We began our first day with out Haitian colleagues. One thing that continues to strike me about this country is their hospitality. Though the earthquake may have physically destroyed this country, it did not destroy its heart and soul. They, a people of very little means, graciously prepared our staff a hot lunch. They are truly a vibrant gracious people. I look forward to coming back tomorrow!

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Day 4: We began our day at the clinic adjacent to the school. When we arrived there were over 75 people lined up to get food and vaccinations for their children. The little girls dressed pink bows and dresses just warms your heart. They dress impeccably here no matter what the occasion. Puts all of us who run out to the grocery store in a bun and sweatpants to shame. They may have very little, but what they do have they care for. We then headed over to the school. I was honored to get to run our small group discussion for the day. At one point I had the teacher role play being in their classroom. It was the finest comedy I have ever seen. Everyone played their part beautifully. Some played the diligent studious type, while other played the class clown. It was great to see the comradery between the staff. I look forward to another day tomorrow. I just wish they all didn’t start at 6 am:)

 

Day 5: Today we had to say goodbye to some of the teachers and translators. I have begun to connect with these people after only a few short days. I will miss them greatly when I return home. All the teachers here have such a wonderful spirit. They believe in a better tomorrow for Haiti. Before they departed we asked the teachers why they went into to teaching. The overwhelming response was because I want to serve my country by shaping tomorrow’s citizens. Think of how greatly we could improve the US education system if we all took this attitude. It is this spirit that I hope to bring back to my colleagues in the US.

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Day 6: We had one last hurray at the school. We called in a small group of elementary teacher to do a small Q&A session. As we had brought no translators with us, I became translator for the day. I think I fell into the role quite nicely, if I do say so myselfJ After eating our picnic lunch in the school’s chapel we took a incredibly scenic drive through the mountains. I could try to describe to you what I saw but a picture is worth a thousand words. “The whole day through, just an old sweet song keeps Haiti on my mind.”

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RIP Paper Peddler

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Next weekend one of my favorite childhood book stores will close. I have so many fond memories of late night Harry Potter book launchings from this quaint unique store. I will truly miss it. Amazon and Ebay are great resources, but this week consider buying a book from a local book store to help them stay in business for future generations.

Hawaiian Diaries

Hello readers!! I’m sorry it took me so long to get this up. Better late than never right??!! Anyway, here is the rest of my adventures on the beautiful island of Maui.

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My departure– The flight out to Maui was one of the most pleasant I have taken. I guess it’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’re heading to a paradise on Earth.  I met a couple from the Midwest who were celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary on Maui. Best of luck!! May we all be so lucky.

 

Day 1– On my first day I took a gorgeous morning swim in Kihei, right near Kamaole state park. Weather and water could not have been more beautiful. After a few hours of baking in the sun I grew faint and weary for nourishment. The locals recommended Eskimo Candy, so of course that’s where I went. I. Refueled and replenished, I headed back out into the sun and surf. I then went over to Lahaina and watched the sunset. What gorgeous town! It’s a stereotypical Hawaiian town with all the quaint charm. I met a guy named Dan who made me three fish out of a coconut leaves. I then ate dinner at Mick Fleetwood’s restaurant Fleetwood’s. Think the name’s ironic? My Dad would be so proud of my life choices:) The only disappointment was that I wasn’t able to get a picture with Mick. Oh well next time. You can run but you can’t hide Mick!! 🙂

P.S. Meet Dan!

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Day 2– We thought we needed to prepare for Iselle. State parks and schools closed, and the island turned into one big end of the world party. Music, laughter, and “Happy Huricane!” resounded from the beaches. I took a coastal ride early in the morning. I attempted to make it to Honolua Bay, but on the dark wooded trail down to the bay I was met by the landowners dogs, who were the exact opposite temperament of my mongrels at home. I decided to visit some blowholes on the north side of the island instead. Here’s the link if you wanna check out a video of the blowhole blowing.

Day 3– How I spent the day waiting out Iselle. I had breakfast at a wonderful place called Freds. I fell in love with our waiter. He was an incredibly funny and helpful local. He steered me towards a Hawaiian delicacy called moco loco. It was delicious!! I then went into Lahaina to go shopping. To be fair it was raining a bit, but nothing like the hurricane like conditions we were expecting. On my way back I stopped at a local fruit stand and bought some banana bread, Mango bread, and a local favorite…pineapple juice mixed with cane sugar. There is a huge sugar industry here on Maui. Then I went to walk on the Kealia boardwalk, where I promptly dropped my key through the boardwalk. I don’t want to talk about it…

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Day 4- I woke up this morning to the smell of sugar cane being burned. Not as pleasant as you might think. Smelled more like rotting fish than sugar. Apparently it is a very effective retrieval method, though. Then after finishing the whole key ordeal…seriously I don’t want to talk about it… we ate breakfast at Freds…again. I had the most delicious panacakes I think I’ve ever eaten…Don’t tell IHOP. After carbo loading I went on a hike through lava fields with a friend of mine. This hike had some of the most beautiful scenery of Maui’s coast line. For dinner I had the most incredible sushi I have yet to experience. The sushi was fresh and expertly made by the chefs. If your ever in Maui Sunsei is a must.

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 Day 5– We once again ate breakfast at Freds. 3rd day in a row. The waiter is now completely judging me. I had a traditional breakfast of eggs and potatoes before out hike on the Hana highway. The hike was one of the most gorgeous, challenging, but rewarding hikes I have been on. We climbed up a rock, up a ladder, through boulder filled rivers, jumped down and climbed over a waterfall (that was the most fun part) and saw 4 gorgeous and incredible waterfalls. At our fourth waterfall my friend was brave enough to climb up the waterfall and jump off. In her comedic like sense of humor, she began to sing the theme song to lion king from atop the waterfall. We then ate some weird local fruit that grows back in the woods. It was pink a sweet like a grapefruit. The views you have of the waterfalls here could not compete with doing this hike. It was an incredibly rewarding experience at the end of it all. We then went to a black sand beach. It was again another beautiful coastal drive through Maui.

 Day 6– Spent the day at Mckena State Park. I got to lie in the shade under beautiful rainbow tropical trees and read for the day. It was like I died and went to heaven. I then went into Wailea to go shopping. Then I went star gazing. It was an incredible experience. I chased the sunset up the mountain and then watched it set over the clouds. At 10,000 feet up the skies were so clear. The stars shown brighter then I have ever seen them before. The moon was full, and allowed us to peer through the clouds and a beautiful night view of Kahlui. It was an experience I will never forget.

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Day 7– I spent my final hours in Hawaii in the Iao Valley. It is an easy, but an incredibly scenic hike. The entire trail through  the valley is 3/4 of mile. Great to do if you have little ones who are not up to doing a long hike. 

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