We made it back to Fayetteville around 9 pm tonight. Sarah Barefoot & Sue Byrd picked us up at RDU on the church bus. It’s great to be home. We look forward to seeing everyone Sunday and sharing the stories from the trip.
We made it back to Miami on time around noon and have made it through customs. Our flight to RDU is at 5:15 pm. Looking forward to getting home.
The entire team went up to Repatriate today to finish work there . Jane & Gail finished painting the trim on the caretaker’s house. The rest of us moved gravel from one area of the compound to another to level the area under the shelter we completed earlier in the week. We had to do so by shoveling the gravel in 5 gallon buckets & carrying it to the shelter area. That seems to be the Haiti way when they lack equipment otherwise.
We then helped the concrete crew that was working on filling a LARGE area with fill dirt and rocks. They had one wheelbarrow and a bunch of 5 gallon buckets. So we shoveled fill into the buckets & carried them into the foundation area. There are no bobcats, backhoes, or other heavy equipment to do this sort of thing, so they make do with what they have. It’s very inefficient by our standards, but they make it work. We just jumped in and helped.
The home we are helping to build was at a point that the professionals had to do all the work. The block is all laid and they began putting the final coat of finish on the masonry to give the house a much more professional look. It will really look good when complete.
We met the entire family around 1 pm at the house today. It was delightful. It is a husband and wife with three small children, ages 6, 3, and 1. As we’ve mentioned before, they are devout Christians and attend the Cite Soleil church. They will be a great influence on the neighborhood. We then had a chance to share “Sweet Sweet Spirit” with them and Wayne gave a wonderful prayer to dedicate the home. Photos follow this post.
We took the afternoon off, and the manager at the compound took us up to Ibo Beach . It’s 30 minutes from Cite Soleil and a more rural setting, but no less needy. Haiti Outreach Ministries has a church and school there, but not enough room or resources for a medical clinic yet. The church started in 1995 and became part of HOM a few years later. The heartbreaking part of that visit was the sanctuary of the church. The roof of the sanctuary collapsed in hurricane Isaac in August of last year. It would cost $30,000 US to get a new roof & they have funneled their resources to other areas to help the community. About 500 people attend the church every Sunday, even as it is. Photos follow this post. We also saw the homes in that area & took a few photos of the local scenery.
Another interesting tidbit – when Snyder sponsored a mission trip to Haiti in Sept. 2010 with the NC Baptist Men(9 months after the earthquake), we built shelters for homeowners near the Ibo Beach area. I am happy to report that the shelters we built are still standing, and in use.
It is quite evident to each team member that God had a plan for our trip, and the work we would do. It was not exactly what any of us thought it would be, but He knew and it worked out perfectly. Our one regret was that Joanne & Gary Copeland could not be with us. They had plans to go, prior to his diagnosis. We are praying for his recovery and look forward to both of them joining us next year on our Haiti trip!
We will leave for the airport at 7 am tomorrow morning & look forward to a uneventful flight and some cooler weather. Thanks again for all your prayers and comments.
Your blogger for this post is Jane Smith.
The community of Repatriate formed in 1997 when the Dominican Republic expelled all the Haitians who had been relocating there over the previous 30-40 years in the hopes of making better lives for themselves. The Haitians were therefore, Repatriated to Haiti. Part of our team has worked there almost every day this week.
Haitian Outreach Ministries has another community center there. The church was completely destroyed in the earthquake. Young Tchaikovsky Bill from Gail’s post yesterday, was sitting in that church with his mother at a Bible Study when the earthquake hit. The six room school has Pre-Kindergarten in the morning and the air is constantly filled with children singing and chanting lessons. Remember, this is all open air. We left air-conditioning behind at the airport Saturday morning.
The school is adding another 2 story unit and that’s what kept George, Wayne, and Robert preoccupied. They tackled the task of erecting a scaffold that will enable the bricklayers to do their work much more safely than ever before. The contractor who works with them says they’ve never had anything that stable. Our men have made a real difference in the ability of these folks to get the work done that will make this community stronger.
Gail and I have been painting for two days. Yesterday we finished work on the Caretaker’s Cottage, today we finished a shade shelter for parents waiting to pick their children up from school. There isn’t a tree in sight and I can say without hesitation that it is HOT down here. 94 degrees in February HOT! We have enjoyed the work and watching these precious children coming and going to school from our scaffold perch has been simply indescribable. Bon Jour! Bon Soir! I love you! Merci!
I’m reading Richard Stearns’ The Hole in the Gospel. He reminds us of the parable of the person trying to save the starfish dying on the beach with the mindset that he might not save them all, but he’d made a difference to the one he just threw back in the ocean. Stearns goes on to write, when we think about the poverty and the plight of the poor, do “we see just a beach littered with bodies, or do we see each unique starfish – a precious part of God’s creation – lying there, with a better life just waiting to be lived? The truth in this familiar story is important; we must never see poverty or injustice as “issues” that need solutions; rather we must see the human beings at the heart of those issues as people who need and deserve our love and respect.”
I think I speak for everyone here when I say thank you for allowing us to come here, to share God’s love through smiles, words, and deeds with these very lovely and worthy human beings.
Tim & Wick spent the day at the house helping the masons and the remainder of the team went back to Repatriate to work. Jane will have a separate post on this activity. Things were a bit slower at the house today, as they had to build the forms for the porch columns and horizontal beams. We moved additional cinder blocks to the site today so they could keep working. A large part of the day was sifting the sand used for the concrete. It must be screened to use only the fine sand for mixing for the spackling that will go over the masonry on the outside and inside to give it a finished look. That process should begin tomorrow. We helped pour the concrete for the top course of block shown in the photos below, so we did get in some harder physical labor to finish up the day.
For what it is worth, we will not finish the home this week. That is the norm when building a house like this. We will get the folks from the church to send us a photo of the finished home when it is complete.
To explain one of the photos below, we had to take rebar to the job site for the concrete beams. The Haitian way is to drag it behind your vehicle. We did that for about three miles across both dirt streets and paved roads. What a concept!
Also, the first photos are of the children arriving at the school in the compound where we stay. They are too cute for words. One is of a father shining his son’s shoes after walking to school on the dusty dirt streets.
We will wrap up tomorrow and meet the entire family that will be living in the home and will dedicate it at that point. We’ll post plenty of photos of that!
It got up to 94 today, but everyone was really productive at two separate locations. Tim, Robert & Wick stayed at the Citi Soleil house. Gail, Jane, Wayne & George went up to Repatriate to work there. Here’s the report from the Citi Soleil house. Gail will post a little later about their work.
We got all the walls built today on the home. We had to haul all the cinder blocks from the compound to the home location – about 500 yards. We started with two wheelbarrows and hauling 7 blocks per wheel barrow. We then found a bigger cart that we could push that would carry about 25 blocks per load. We also got the cement bags to the site that way. We then worked to supply the four masons with block & morter all day. It was physical work, but very rewarding. Late in the day, we were pouring the columns that were at the corners of the house and at the intermediate sections of the walls.
As is the case with virtually all of these houses, there are no windows in the home. There are “vent blocks” on the sides, and a door in the front & one in the back. This is done for security reasons.
Tomorrow, we will pour concrete in special blocks that will be laid on top of the walls with re-bar for reinforcement. We will then begin to spackle the walls so they have a smoother surface than just the block.
I was talking with our translator, Max about the experience of these people and how they love to worship God. It is quite evident in their services. The one we attended lasted about 2.5 hours, and was joy-filled. Max said they will have a special service next Sunday for Pastor Leon on his 25th anniversary of starting the Citi Soleil church. There will be over 3,000 people there. It will last about 5 hours. When I shared that many of the church goers in the US get really restless when things go beyond an hour, he laughed. He said that Sunday worship service was the most wonderful thing in his life. What a statement about his faith, and that he is not distracted with “stuff”.
I had a chance to walk to his home and meet his mother today. It’s only about three blocks from the house we are building. He lives in a block home among the many row houses in Citi Soleil with his mother that was built in the 1980′s. It is not as large as the one we are building and leaks severely when it rains. He said he was honored to show me his home. This is truly a mission trip!
Written by Gail Dickens:
Today George, Wayne, Jane and I worked at Repatriot on several projects. Wayne and George set up two stories of scaffolding and cut 2×4′s most of the morning with a dull hand saw. Jane and I painted the white trim of the gatekeeper’s home. It was hotter today with very little breeze. School is going on during the day at Repatriot.
When school let out I noticed a young boy sitting at the gate. He asked if I was “teacher” and if Wayne was “teacher”. I told him yes and was surprised at his broken English. He wanted to show us his homework which was written in a notebook. He was soon seen running away from the compound only to return with his reading book which was in French and English.
He wanted to read some of the words to us. He was a wonderful student and we enjoyed his eagerness to talk to us in English. He wanted to hear us pronounce in English some of the words. We had a great time with him. He told us that his name was Tchaikovsky. When we asked if he knew of the musical talent of Tchaikovsky he said yes and played in the air both the piano and violin. He said he played bongos and gave us a brief demonstration. Needless to say we were amazed at the joy this little fellow shared with us this day.
I am looking forward to tomorrow at Repatriot in hopes that Tchaikovsky will be there too. Thank you for your continued prayers. I am thankful for this opportunity in Haiti.
We had a very productive day today. We all worked on the house we are constructing. They only got a small portion of the floor poured yesterday, so we poured the remainder of the floor this morning and were finished by lunch with that task.
We are mixing the concrete on the ground with shovels – its the Haitian way. We passed the concrete in buckets from the mixing point to the floor of the house. It was tough work.
The masons started laying the block for the walls this afternoon. We helped with ferrying the block and mortar to the masons. The photos below will show the progress we have made. The going will be a bit slower from here forward as there is a lot of block to lay.
The featured attraction of the day was Robert Barefoot learning how to make dirt cookies. He helped with the mixing of the clay. It was quite a sight. See photos below.
The future homeowner of the home was working with us all day, carrying water from the cistern to our mixing spot in 5 gallon buckets. She was working as hard as anyone out there.
We will probably split the team tomorrow due to masonry work only at the house. Some will go back to the Repatriot compound for more work.
Thanks from the team for all your prayers & comments on the blog and Facebook.
We will check in tomorrow.
Ok, here’s the final scoop on the dirt cookie dilemma directly from Pastor Leon. The cookies are made solely from a special clay they get here on the island. The cookies serve two purposes. First, there are supposed to be minerals in the clay that are nutritious, especially for pregnant women.
The other purpose is a very cheap way of filling their stomachs. The family in the home adjacent to the one we are building is making them and selling them. The water they use is very unclean, and drying them in the open in that area allows for a lot of dust and dirt to settle on them.
More to come when available.