Yes. Fun. Like, lots and lots of fun.
Our boys were so free range. They climbed so many trees. Chased so many goats. Collected so many scrapes.
Kaden and Blue and three of the missionary kiddos. There were two other older boys not pictured because they were at school. (And six girls, and haitian kiddos...)
I'll go through it day by day.
Thursday, March 20
We left via MFI (which means arriving at the hangar at 6am). Matt McCormick of Paulos Group met us at the Cap Haitien airport and once we'd collected all our stuff and he'd gathered up his packages that had come through MFI that day and cleared them through customs, we were off.
Blue and Kaden outside Lakay.
Then we hit up one souvenir place with handmade items from artisans across Haiti. And even though we already have one nativity from Haiti, we couldn't pass up this scrap metal piece for our collection:
(And you don't even have to travel to Cap Haitien to get these. Their makers, Women of Milot, have a website.)
Then it was off to Fort Liberte to the Paulos Group Community. (See previous post to read all about them.)
That purple house in front is where we stayed and right inside was a welcome note that told us where we'd be eating dinner each evening. How great is that! (We'd brought a cooler with our food for breakfast and lunch.)
Friday, March 21st was a market day where goods from the Dominican come into Haiti. This is NOT an organized process and Matt drove us over to watch the frenzy.
Everything was carried in on wheelbarrows or heads.
As in... Dominican trucks drove up goods and unloaded, items were carried over by throngs of people, then goods were reloaded onto Haitian trucks. (Because they are sold further in, not right there on the border)
That makes sense how?
It doesn't, but we were entertained as we rode along.
Afternoons were about resting from lunch till about 3pm, the hottest part of the day, and then playing hard before dinner. In fact, dinner was often a very short pause for the kids before playing hard before bed.
This poor cat. Seriously, this poor, poor cat.
Friday night at dinner the Gauthiers offered Kevin and I their kayaks to take in the morning to paddle around the bay by the fort. Kevin's not the biggest kayaking fan (in spite of the few times a year I don't give him a choice) so it was decided that it would be more fun for Kara and I to go together.
So we did.
Saturday, March 22
And joked that all the Haitian fishermen must have thought we were some crazy lost tourists who'd floated in from the Dominican.
But holy wow - what a beautiful morning.
Kara paddling by a what's left of a sunk ship.
Me in front of the fort.
The rest of Saturday ended up being a work day. Flower planting for me. Trellis building for Kevin. Oh and at some point I walked down to witness the releasing of the goats.
At a stand-off
Sunday, March 23rd.
We went to church! And it was all in Creole! We were there for a two hour service and then an hour-long Sunday school. At the service I recognized one hymn (Count Your Blessings), enjoyed the wide assortment of hats, heard in one prayer that they were giving thanks, (Because I can understand the word "merci" and get the gist of a prayer when it is repeated often, within a cadence. Later there was a prayer peppered with "pardon" and my spiritual soul understood that too.) and I tried to get the girl in front of me to smile. (She didn't, not even when I gave her a sticker, but her grandmother did.) The class we went to was chosen for us because it was for people who'd at least graduated high school, the intellectual class. Apparently they were talking about marriage. At one point our friend Matt translated for me that the teacher had just asked, "What do you do if your spouse curses at you?"
Keepin' it real :-)
Monday, March 24th
We made it back into town to take the kids to the fort and play at the small beach there, but first we stopped to check out Fort Liberte's market day.
This booth smelled wayyyy better than the meat area around the corner.
Heads were the most common way to carry goods. Donkeys were probably second.
...so we could try these yummy yums.
The market was a sight but so were we. Two tall white women with long blond hair, a pack of kids around us, one little girl with only one shoe. (Because... kids.) Everyone had to stop and point out the missing shoe. Most were probably wondering why we didn't just buy the poor girl another pair with ample opportunity at numerous tables along the market route.
There was also the fact that I paid for the above treats with American money. (Which they accept, but it still drew attention.)
My big 'ol camera got attention too - obviously I wanted to take pictures, but a lot of people weren't so crazy about that (unless we were buying). I get it. Their work, their life, it's not a novelty tourist attraction. They don't know if I'm pointing my lens in pity or celebration. Also, with Kara there, who speaks Creole, it was an opportunity to say no, be heard. There's a church right up the street that has American groups in all the time, and I'd guess they visit that market and snap away without asking. So there was that too.
I never took a picture of a person who didn't want it, but...
Wednesday, March 26th
Stateside... Throw Mountain Dew and Double Stuffed Oreos into my Target shopping cart because these are hard-to-come-by favorites of our new missionary friends. Figure I'll toss in such extras for the next few Target trips then send down a filled cooler to Haiti sometime.
That evening Kevin gets a call from Matt of Paulos Group. Kevin had told them he was scheduled to fly Thursday, and Matt swore he wasn't going to call, but... they needed finished nails (for nail guns) and a few other odds and ends that would come faster via Kevin/MFI than a DR trip.
Thursday, March 27th
Home Depot goods along with a 12 pack of Mt Dew and some Oreos dropped off at the Cap airport and Kevin waves through the crowd at Matt's wife, Pam there to pick up the supplies.
See? How fun is that? The connection we made. The group on the receiving end we now understand so much better. Not just its ministry, but the people, the landscape.
What an opportunity.
In the four years Kevin has served with MFI we've never had doubts about this ministry, this calling. Not on low support months, not on long flight days or surprise overnights. But this trip, these first-hand experiences, without a doubt renews our family commitment and passion to the vision of MFI to stand in the gap between state-side provisions and Caribbean-side ministry.
So grateful that this is our journey.