Wednesday, October 28, 2009

1 Down, 10 To Go

It's my first Monthiversary in Haiti! Four weeks ago was our first day in Haiti. I vividly remember stepping onto the tarmac and seeing my first sight of Haiti, beautiful mountains. My first smell of Haiti, exhaust fumes and garbage. My first sound of Haiti, mariachi band blasting their music from the entrance of the airport. Customs, Baggage Claim, and hauling our stuff to John's car were enough to make me want to curl up under a seat in the airplane and stay there until I was back in Florida. I had to keep reminding myself that, "those who look to the Lord will renew their strength".

Looking back, it is hard to describe the mix of emotions that I feel toward the last month of my life. God has been so good to use all of the tough things for good in my heart and my attitude toward the world. Something about Haiti has a way of taking every comfort that you lean on and hide behind and stripping them away from you all at once. Haiti has a way of challenging the things that you thought you believed beyond a shadow of a doubt. Haiti shines a spotlight onto things in your heart that you wish would stay in the dark. I am so thankful that I have learned to live without so many of the things that I would have considered necessary even six months ago. I feel like if I can live in Haiti for a year I can do anything.

I have become more confident here. Yes, I can leave the house without makeup. I can even be in a group of new people without hating every minute of it. God has been speaking to me so much more here, maybe because I am taking the time to listen. I have met so many wonderful people who challenge my way of thinking and encourage me. Haiti challenges me in new ways every day and I love that I am growing in ways I couldn't have grown if I had stayed in America.

Today really sums up all of the conflict in my heart about living here. We visited Sisters of Charity Mission today for about half an hour. It is a hospital for sick and malnourished babies. It is so hard to see rows of cribs with severely sick babies waiting for their next meal or dose of medicine. They are understaffed, but they work hard and the place is clean with running water. It is so overwhelming and depressing to look around the room and to know how little I can do. I tried to take it all in pacing the rows of cribs and touching some of the babies as I prayed for them. At first I was scared to pick them up, they look so fragile, I thought they might fall apart. When I did it felt good to know that this one was comforted, even for just a few moments. This is where the conflict is, I loved being there because I could make a small difference, but it is so hard to believe that God loves these little ones as much as he loves me. It is hard to imagine that he has a plan for their lives to prosper them and not to harm them. God, where is the justice in Haiti?

I want to end tonight's post with a parable that you have probably already heard, but I need to hear it again and you may need to hear it again too.
A man went down to the beach one morning and saw that the tide was unusually low. Thousands of starfish had washed up on the beach as far in each direction as he could see. The man knew that if left in the morning sun they would all die. Despairing, he knew there was nothing he could do to help them all. Then he noticed a person down by the water. As he walked closer he saw that it was a boy picking up the starfish and throwing them into the sea. "What are you doing?" asked the man. "Returning the starfish to the ocean," replied the boy. "If I don't they'll die". The man said, "but there are thousands of starfish on this beach, what you are doing won't make a difference." The boy reached down and picked up another starfish and tossed it gently into the sea. "It made a difference to that one," he said.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Well, I guess since I haven't had anything as crazy and "blog worthy" as the flood (thank you God) I haven't updated my blog for a while. So here is your update of my fun weekend and regular life in Haiti. On Friday, we had a girls night at the birthing center, which was tons of fun and got pretty crazy. Unfortunately, I think they all saw my crazy side, since I had an energy drink. I guess I can never go back to being the sweet, docile Corrie that everyone thought they knew. Oh well, I can't pretend to be normal for too long. We had a violent game of spoons and some catch phrase, and then we decided to make an 80's music video wearing scrubs and birth center stuff. Suffice it to say I have moves. We didn't have any warning that this picture was being taken by the way.

(Jonna, Me, Sarah, Brittany, Vivien, Stephanie, not pictured- Megan, Paige)
I'm so grateful to have such a fun group of girls to hang out with! Saturday I painted one wall of my room teal! It is driving me crazy though, because I didn't use any tape, so the lines aren't even. I'm gonna have to go back and fix it or I may just go crazy. School with Joey and Shane is going good, we have a pretty good routine going, and they still think I am pretty smart. So that is good. I am starting to appreciate how much time and effort my mom spent teaching me and my sisters in elementary school. She learned me purty good.

I love Port-Au-Prince Fellowship! I love that it is in English, I love that there is a mix of Americans and Haitians. And most of all, I love the worship. There is a sense of community that is rare in the churches I have been to in America. We had a delicious lunch at John and Beth's house, and some more fellowship with great people. Is it weird that I feel like I have been here at least two months? Yet at the same time I feel like I will be going home for Christmas so soon!

I had an interesting conversation with Sarah, a midwife from Jacmel, after our sleepover about helping the people of Haiti. She tries to help people who will get the most benefit from her help, like paying for food for the child of a mother who will keep the baby healthy once she stops helping, instead of a mother who is just going to let the child become malnourished again. Or paying for education for a child instead of giving money to kids who are begging on the street. Or teaching beggars how to make things to sell instead of giving them a handout. But she was talking with someone else who didn't think that is what Jesus would do, He thought Jesus would help anyone regardless of whether they deserved help or not. While I understand that we didn't do anything to deserve Jesus dying for us and we don't do anything to deserve to be born into a wealthy society, I also know that Jesus didn't heal everyone who was sick and he didn't give money to every beggar, he didn't raise everyone from the dead, and he didn't perform miracle in every meeting. He has a specific plan for the redemption of everyone. Perhaps Jesus healed those who he knew would draw closer to him only if they were healed. I believe Jesus had a relationship with his Father and with the Holy Spirit that allowed him to know the Father's heart for each individual. Is it possible for us to do the same in regards to who we can give money to on the street and who we should help when they ask for help? Of course that must be true because Jesus himself said that we could do even greater things than he did on earth with the Holy Spirit living in us. I know that I am not smart enough to know what will be best for each person I come in contact with.

Well, that is my sermon for the week, sorry about that! I would love to hear what you all think of this whole debate.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere

One of many many Buckets full of water

So yesterday was really fun! We had a pretty one-sided soccer game with Vivien, Megan, and the older Livesay kids, and then an intense game of ‘waterball’ in their swimming pool. Then after dinner as we were all relaxing with movies and laptops, it started to rain. Hard. Then water started coming in through Lisa’s balcony door and dripping from the skylights. Of course we all dropped everything and got towels to block the water. In less than five minutes we were up to our ankles in water upstairs. We were grabbing every available bucket and towel to try to fight the water that was coming in from everywhere, under cabinets, under doors, dripping from the roof. Our wet towel method was probably not ideal but we really had no choice, soaking the towel, wringing it out into a tub. Gallons and gallons and gallons and gallons. About an hour into the whole ordeal and it stopped raining. We got the whole second floor dry, including moving the couch and chairs, and moved onto the first floor. Needless to say, tons of water flowed down the stairs into the kitchen and then on to my room and the extra bedrooms. The guest room my dad stayed in has about a 4 in. step down and was filled completely with water. My bathroom also has a step down and was filled.

We are soo grateful to our housekeeper, Alex, for her hard work, and for Damienne, who came to live with us yesterday and cheerfully helped us clean. What a great first night for her huh? We were starting to get really silly and sliding around on our knees and singing “the Lord told Noah, there’s gonna be a floody, floody.” We even saw a rainbow and considered it God’s promise that this would never happen again.

When we were getting really close to being done I was just exhausted, and even though I knew we only had a little bit more to do I was all of a sudden really grossed out by the dirty water and the floating dead bugs. I could have sat down in the water and cried. I felt so helpless and weak. In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 John writes, “’My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. … For when I am weak, then I am strong.” So I will boast in my weakness too. I was really crabby, thinking, “Why me?” the whole time, and I didn’t do a good job focusing on God. However, through my weakness I know Christ was strengthened in me. On my own strength I could never have worked for three hours without crying or yelling at someone or giving up. There is no way that was me wringing out those rags and dumping water down the drain, I know that was Christ in me. Once everything was fairly dry, we turned on the water so we could shower the yucky water off of us and get in our dry beds. Showering with no towel to dry off with is a pain. Just saying.

When I woke up this morning, Lisa was calling my cell phone and asking me and asking me to plug in the refrigerator because she was called to a birth. Great timing new baby. But there was no power at all and a really annoying beeping sound. So I woke up Shane to go turn on the generator. I had this massive headache right behind my eye and the beeping was not helping, but that turned out to be our backup internet, so we left it on. We haven’t had to run the generator at all since we have been here, of course we had to the morning after the flood when Lisa was gone.

I know all of this is the Devil trying to get us down. And I’m trying to stay cheerful when inside I’m my worst crabby ever. God sometimes cracks me up! When I got in bed last night I flipped my Bible open to Psalms, because at a time like that, you wanna read Psalms. I opened right to Psalm 93, “The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up the roaring of their waves. The Lord on high is mightier and more glorious than the noise of many breakers and waves of the sea.” Haha good one Holy Spirit, you got me laughing.
Now I am facing a day filled with laundry and cleanup. God help me stay semi-cheerful at least. Renew my strength!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I learned a new word in Creole recently. Degaje:[day-gah-zhay] (v.) go with it, make it work. I have had a crazy adventure with my dad today that can only be described as degaje.

We decided to go to petionville today and then up to the Baptist mission to get some (comparatively) fresh air. We didn't have a car so we degaje'd.

We took the taptaps. It didn't take me too long to get used to sitting smashed up next to strange men and going at rollercoaster speeds on pothole-covered roads. Of course I wasn't really thinking and I wore my cute black shoes. We walked through garbage and mud strewn streets. They are now caked with mud and who knows what else. All I can do is degaje.

On one of the taptap's the seat was really sharp, and going over a huge pothole, my pants ripped in a straight line right underneath my, uh, back pocket. I was wearing a dress over them so I degaje'd.

In Petionville, I tried on some knockoff Levi's, they didn't fit over my kneecaps, but they seemed to fit everywhere else. They seriously didn't fit so I could not degaje, but I would have.

We found a taptap driver fixing his truck on the side of the road, and my dad decided to offer his assistance. Once they fixed the truck, the driver came around to our side of the cab and jiggled the door open for us. As soon as we started driving downhill he turned off he engine to save gas. Then he did something even stranger, he pulled over and ran to grab an empty bottle at a car parts store. He jumped back in and kept going. A few blocks later he stopped at a gas station and filled his bottle with gas, and added it to something in the engine. He must not even have a gas tank on that bad boy. Degaje to the max!
At least 3 people today have had really weird question about me. 2 guys asked my dad if I am his sister. Oh wow, I guess it is time to start using wrinkle cream and wearing diapers. Another guy in English asked my dad if I was his son. I am really hoping he just got his words confused. Somehow, many of those guys who thought I was a middle aged man were still very interested in getting to know me. Very strange. I guess I'll just degaje.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Cockroach

Okay, the picture doesn't do a very good job of showing how huge and menacing this cockroach was, but believe me it was big. I could even see its fangs! Next time I will zoom in more. He chose the wrong day to relax in my shower that is for sure. Lisa warned me that there is a crunching sound when you kill one of these bad boys, So I protected my ears with loud music from my ipod, armed myself with a flip-flop, closed my eyes and swung. It was still crawling around when I opened my eyes, so I ran out of there. Five minutes later he was dead. So now you know the story of how I mortally wounded my first cockroach!

Actually, I am improving in speed and accuracy in my mosquito hunting also. There is something thrilling about starting every shower with a little bug slapping cardio. It doesn't send chills up my spine to know that the mosquito's guts are on my hands anymore either. See Courteney, I can be 3rd world girl after all!

Me and the boys started school on Monday, and they have been great at jumping right back into all of the work. We have been starting out our days with a small Creole lesson, I am so not qualified to teach that! The last two days we have been taking field trips to the guest house to borrow their internet, but today our internet got set up. Hurray!

My dad is on an airplane to Fort Lauderdale right now and he will get in to Haiti tomorrow morning! It will be fun to have him around for a while, and great to have a translator. Between Lisa, me and the Creole dictionary, we can sometimes get our point across to the Alex, our housekeeper. The other day I almost told the Jean Paul, our yard boy, to take out the thrash. That could have been bad! Maybe we will hop on a tap-tap (the only public transportation is Haiti, basically brightly painted trucks that you can ride) and go on some adventures. I really miss the independence of having a car and the ability to communicate with people that I had in America.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A week of firsts

This first week in Haiti was brought with it a long list of first experiences

  • First time to fatally wound a cockroach (for your enjoyment I will post a picture later)
  • First shower under 5 minutes
  • First time to wake up to a rooster crowing
  • First shopping trip in Haiti
  • First time to cook in Haiti

As soon as I have my camera I will fill you in on the story of "the cockroach". I am starting to get used to it here, and along with that comes completely giving up on looking good and accepting the fact that I will never again be clean and dry.

I am looking forward to going to church tomorrow! Another first for me!

We are starting school again on Monday, it will be interesting to see if we can find everything we need. I will try to post another blog again soon, we do not have internet set up yet, so I just need to remember my camera the next time I go somewhere with an internet connection!