Friday, January 2, 2009

Haiti Day 1

Jouer 1
Le 2 Janvier, 2009
2:00 pm

There is something amusing about packing for a trip to a place you’ve never been. You rely solely on the lists given to you and the suggestions told by those who have already ‘experienced.’ I’d made certain to have absolutely everything bought and in the house earlier in the week so I needed only gather it together and fit it into my 2 carryon bags so the group could use my 2 checked bag slots for the extremely large black bags filled with tools, coloring books, supplies, etc. It was easier then I expected and I have no doubts about having everything I’ll need.
I spent the majority of the 1st playing video games with Ian and praying with friends to prepare me for the trip. Already extremely exhausted from New Year’s celebrations, I somehow managed to stay awake with Ian until it was time to head to the airport and meet the group at 4:00 a.m. I was texting Billy the entire carride and he could just sense through my tests how excited I was and still am. The realization, though not complete as of yet, hit me like a mass wind. I started crying in the car and just thanking God. He has provided so much. He moved the hearts of my friends and family members who supported my cause. I am forever grateful to them, as I am to my Lord. This is my dream, my future, my life.
Ian and I arrived at the airport at around quarter to four. It took a while for the rest of the group to get there, but when they did Ian and I exchanged our goodbyes. (This was rather significantly shorter than my mother’s ‘hold on to her baby girl forever’ goodbye) It was mass chaos as we checked in bags and we just barely beat the majority of the airport crowding. We got all checked in and went through security where they took the lotion and bug spray I’d unsuccessfully tried to sneak through. (When you only have carryon bags you can only put so much in a quart sized bag!) I take pride that they didn’t find my facial lotion though!  I’ll just have to get sun lotion from others throughout the trip.
Our flight left Minneapolis at 6 a.m. without any delays and landed in Miami at around 10:30 EST. We had a three hour layover in Miami which we spent talking and eating out ‘last meal.’ We boarded the plane at 12:55 pm, left at 1:55 p.m. and I have found myself comfortably sleeping as I had done on the previous flight. Even though I hear the language over the intercom and can see some people on the plane, at this point, I still find it difficult to believe that I’ll be in Haiti in 2 hours. For now, I’ll giggle at the thought of my brother as I eat the crackers and cheese American Airlines serves. (I miss flight food) then shut my eyes, pray, and sleep as I prepare for what I can only imagine awaits my landing.

9:30 pm
From the minute I stepped off the plane, I knew I was in love. The mountains protruded from behind the plane. Security was all lined up to protect us as we walked into the terminal. It took us a while to get all our bags claimed and get out to the bus, but when we stepped back outside it was immediate frenzy. We had people helping us push our bag-filled chariots to the bus yelling at anyone else who tried to intervene and take their dollar. (service cost  ) We had to wait on the bus for a while as Mike worked a lot of things out.
As we waited, we had various people coming up and asking for money. Those approached would try telling them ‘I don’t have any,’ but the inquisitors continued on like they didn’t comprehend. One wandered to my side eventually and stated bugging someone two seats behind me. I immediately went to the window and said, ‘Desole monsieur, mais nous n’avons pas d’argent.’ That hit him and he walked away. Part of me felt bad, but the other knew I’d done well. Later on 2 guys were bothering Adam at his window. He gave me a look, asking for my help. This time, however, the two inquisitors
didn’t leave. Instead, they argued. I tried, and succeeded, in explaining to them that we spent all our money on the plane and when asked about hotel money I told them the truth; we were staying in tents. Then they got witty and asked me for my name, told me I was pretty, and attempted to flatter me. I had fun speaking in French, but eventually I just thanked them and apologized again for our lack of ability to aid them financially. When I sat, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest from the exhilaration of what had just happened.
I faded in and out of consciousness for the majority of the bus ride, but was alert for the majority of Port au Prince. I tried my best to look at it as I would St. Paul or Minneapolis and found doing so to be easier then I was expecting. The ride was smooth for the majority of the trip, which cut back on time immensely. (Thank God for newly paved roads) We twisted up through the gorgeous mounts and eventually found ourselves at the orphanage. The kids stood at a distance watching us get off the bus. We wished them all ‘bon soir’ and unpacked. Giggling soon filled the area and we followed the sound, as soon as we were able, to the old orphanage right next to the one we’re building. The rooms were overflowing with small children. Communication was harder than Id expected but we worked through it. The girls all kept asking me for my name and playing with my hair. I loved it! At one point, this one little boy, he had to be no older than two, comes up to me with puppy dog eyes and grabs my leg. I lifted him up and held him and let the kids play with my camera for a bit. When I tried setting him down to show the others how to work the camera, he rather forcefully protested. I eventually did have to set him down to get my camera back before dinner, but he just clung so tightly to my leg as tears filled his eyes. AI fell in love with that little boy. He’s so precious!!
Dinner was something like spaghetti, but with chicken bones instead of meatballs. I managed to pick around and get enough to eat. The conversation then turned to tarantulas and huge spiders and I found myself extremely arachnophobic. I hate spiders. This could be the one damper on this trip so far.
Anyways, a full day had me practically passing out at the dinner table, so I brushed my teeth and have no crawled into bed. Many people are conversing around me. We decided on having some rest and recovery in the morning, then working hard in the evening tomorrow. It’ll be weird falling asleep to unfamiliar noises such as the wild dogs barking, machines working, cows mooing, goats bleating, and a rooster crowing. I have no idea where all these animals come from, but they’re here! One day down, a gorgeous night amongst me with a clearer view of the stars than any I’ve ever seen. I’m in love with Haiti.