The following is a daily journal by Christi Gabhart, a member of the Spencer, IA, Hope Reformed Church team working at MH4H partner organization Promise for Haiti (www.promiseforhaiti.org) in Pignon, Haiti. Ezequias Nicholas, MH4H Project Coordinator, has been taking care of them this week. Christi has been to Haiti numerous times in the past.

Wednesday January 25, 2012

Hello,  It was a good travel day today.  Long but good.  Winter weather in Iowa always pops up when it is inconvenient.  But I guess it is inconvenient any time.  Anyway, because of potentially icy travel conditions our team left Spencer right about 3:30 this morning to drive to Omaha.  Everything went well the entire day… flights, luggage, connections, shuttle, and now we are settled in for a good nights sleep in Ft. Pierce, FL.  (kinda warm and humid here tonight) The motel graciously opens the breakfast area just for us at 5:00 AM tomorrow.  Our shuttle guy will pick us up at 5:30 AM to head to the Missionary Flights International hangar and then we are on our way to Haiti, landing in Cap Haitien, Haiti to be cleared into the country then a short flight to land on the grass runway in Pignon hopefully by noon.

We are grateful for the day and are anticipating the best for tomorrow.

Christi and the team

Thursday January 26, 2012

Finally…Bonswa from Pignon, Haiti!  We had a great flight here this morning.  The flight was smooth with clear skies to highlight the clouds as white as your imagination can reveal and water that is such an intense turquoise it hardly seems real.  It seemed electric in places.  Imagine fluorescent turquoise in strips and shapes that outline islands and coastlines.

Customs was as easy as it gets.  All of our gear and supplies had been packed in “luggage” using a very loose sense of the word.  We had “Black Beauty”, “The Torpedo”, “The Tub”, and “The blob”.  700 pounds and it all made it here ready to unzip and be sorted.

Our team met with Pastor Francios from the church where the Family Life Conference will be held on Monday.  We went over plans for the lunch menu…chicken, rice and beans, sauce, and ‘Sweetie’ mixed with Coke for the drink!  We also discussed what would be shared with the Haitian couples during the day to help them grow in their relationships, encourage them to be an encouragement to each other, and make Jesus Christ the center of their family life.  Pastor Francios is hopeful that couples will realize the responsibility they have for their children so the next generation can be better.  Something not exclusive to Haiti.

Evening is near and the air is cool.  We are anticipating clear skies and hopefully a star spangled display of constellations viewed from the rooftop of the dorm.  There are smells and sounds of supper being prepared.  I wonder what it will be…??  Maybe rice and beans.  🙂

Bonswa for today.  God is good, Bondye Bon.  Christi and the team

Sunday January 29, 2012

Good afternoon from Pignon, Haiti,

The weather has been absolutely wonderful here.  Sunny, warm, breezy each day and cool in the evening.  The team has been going strong since we touched down here on Thursday.  We have made a lot of progress on our work project.  We are constructing and varnishing school desks that will replace desks currently at Guimby school.  We have had some good Haitian help working alongside to get the job done.  Cutting, sanding, varnishing, drilling, screwing, sorting, stacking.  There are lots of pieces to the desks which will be transported with some assembly required at the school.

We have managed a hike up Mt Pignon which included a walk through the local cemetery where we saw signs of voodoo practice that had taken place around a gnarly, old tree in the center of the cemetery.  Voodoo is very prevelant in Haiti and has a grip on many Haitians’ lives. There was a very evident object, a voodoo doll, nailed to the tree.  It gave a very unsettling feeling.  Also unsettling was the sight of a very small casket lying open and empty.

There seems to be a high number of patients at the hospital.  We have been singing at the hospital in the evenings.  We have many Haitian friends that join in, as we attempt to offer some joy and comfort to those who are injured or sick.  The latest cholera patient report shows only 4 currently being treated.  It seems that the educating that has been done on proper hygiene has helped reduce the impact of this disease.

Shopping at the market for food items is no simple task.  We purchased chicken, rice, beans, oil, water, cups, coffee, drink mix, sugar, vegetables and spices, all to be prepared and served for lunch at the Family Life Conference.  A wheelbarrow was our shopping cart.  Lots of walking and carrying while winding through the crowds of vendors and shoppers.   Our total shopping bill is around $2800 Haitian dollars which exchanges for about $350 US dollars which should feed in excess of 200 people.

Have to interrupt right now to go pick up the chicken and visit with Pastor Francios about details for tomorrows bible conference.

Everyone is doing great.  Beans on the left and rice on the right tonight.  Something new!

Prayers for open hearts for Christ for tomorrows conference would be fitting for tonight.  In His Service, Christi and the team

Monday January 30, 2012

Bonswa from Haiti,

All is well here.  It was a big day for the team since today was the Family Life Conference.  We had 95 women in the morning, the husbands came and had lunch together with their wives, then the men came for an afternoon session along with the wives.  By afternoon our number had grown to 105 women and maybe 75 men.  All of the preparations that involved MANY people were well worth the effort.  “Gaye Pawol Bondye” (Spread God’s Word) was the theme.  Scripture was shared, gifts were shared, songs were shared.  It was all that we had imagined it could be.  Bondye Bon…God is good.

Tomorrow is the extreme taptap ride to the Citadel.

Tuesday January 31, 2012

Today was our extreme taptap ride to the Citadel in Milot, Haiti, departing Pignon around 6:30 this morning and arriving back ‘home’ around 3:30.  We were a small group and everything went very well.  The scenery is out of this world and the Sans Souci Palace and Citadel are indescribable.  For all of the pictures we took, the essence of it probably can’t be captured except for in person.  If anyone is curious you could Google the Citadel, Milot, Haiti.  Simply amazing.  For breakfast we had warm bread, fresh out of the Haitian oven and a huge bunch of the sweetest bananas delivered right to the back of the taptap we rode in.  (Taptap is the name used for the small pickups that are the main form of transportation.  Riding in the back not in the cab is the Haitian way.)  Better than a McDonald’s drive thru any day.   There are new electric lines running alongside the road.  Word has it that there is Hydroelectric power coming that will supply the whole area with electricity.  It is possible that the electric supply might be a bit seasonal based on the dry season vs the rainy season.  There are also signs of some involvement from the Haitian government with the area of education.  Along the way, there was a ‘school bus’ that was picking up and dropping kids off for school as well as several newly constructed national schools.  President Martelli seems to be putting some value on education

There were several Haitian friends along that had never been to the Citadel.  Driving time always makes for the chance for some good conversation.  We can learn a lot about Haiti, Haitian culture, and even pick up a few words in Creole.

The other part of our team delivered school desks to Guimby school that have been constructed and varnished by our team and the team before us.  Our plan is to take more desks out to Guimby next week. The team members that went today said the students were so excited about the new desks.

Our team has been living up to the challenge of very sporatic running water.  The pump only works when the Hospital generator is running and the well is only supplying a couple gallons an hour is what we have been told.  However, one team member said, “At least we have water to drink.” It is all in how you view a situation.  SO… our appreciation is growing for, what to us, are the simple things of life.  Water has been and continues to be a life giving substance.  Here in this place, water can be a luxury rather than common ordinary part of life.  It puts perspective on the ‘consuming’ habits we have as Americans.

Thanking God for all our blessings, Christi and the team

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