Monday, July 28, 2014

Another photo blog.

Lots of plumbing repairs needed

Break open the cement walls to repair the plumbing problems

Look who led worship in church yesterday

We do love getting outside every day

My kids do love tree climbing

You can do it Djemima

Five kids in the tree

Early morning wonder - on our walk-fun times

Would love to know what these three are thinking

Dieunel's baby frog

Return to the compound at 7 30 to sweet faces awaiting us
I T      I S      A L L      A B O U T      T H E      C H I L D R E N

Friday, July 25, 2014

Time to let you know we are all okay here still.

The saying 'no news is good news' was not necessarily written for Haiti.  When you hear nothing from me it could mean a few, or a lot of, things are going wrong.  Thus I feel I should try to let you know once a week we are okay.

Luckner and I decided we would leave our regular work on Wednesday and go to PAP to take care of something we saw as important for all of us at the HATS-Haiti Mission.

I left the compound later in the morning than planned due to more generator/electricity problems.  I was in 'blackout' again during the night and I needed to take care of some things with generator and inverter so I would 'hopefully' return home to electricity.  I finally picked up Luckner who was standing on the road waiting for me, and we were on our way.

Luckner and I have made a few visits to a business in Port au Prince that sells Lister Petter generators.  This store knew we were interested in purchasing another Lister Petter.  They called us numerous times to encourage us to come in and place an order.  We had obtained information, a group from my home town of Springdale fundraised the total cost, and then last Friday we were were quoted the amount of money we would have to bring in as a down payment for the generator we wanted.  We were encouraged to not wait but to bring a cheque in this week, and were quoted an arrival date of six weeks for the generator to come from Miami.  I was thrilled with the prospect of getting it in six weeks.  In reality, however, I was doubting it would happen that quickly.  This is Haiti! We were told to take the funds to a different address in PAP than we normally do our business with them.

On our drive in we were pulled over twice by police who asked for our vehicle papers. At the first stop we sat for a long time in a line of vehicles that were being checked.  While waiting one policeman walked back the line of vehicles and was looking at license plates. We knew we did not have our sticker on our license plate, but we did know we had one.  It was sitting in the envelope with our vehicle paperwork.  Eventually we made it to the front of the line and a policeman asked for our papers.  He was ready to give us heck for not having our sticker.  He saw it and asked why we had not placed it on our license plate where it belongs.  Luckner explained because it would have been stolen and put on someone else's vehicle. Obviously this was not something new to him.  I was stifling laughter as he quietly explained what to do before we place the sticker on our plate.  He said to take a razor blade to the sticker and make several lines crisscrossed throughout it.  Then when someone tries to steal it they will end up with just a small piece of it.  Too funny, but this is Haiti.   At the second stop the policeman saw our sticker again and asked why it was not on. Luckner quickly explained what the other police had told us to do, so he let us continue with his strong advice to get it on the plate.

In PAP it took quite some time, and a few phone calls, to find the place where we were to make the  down payment.   We found a gate but no sign - no indication whatsoever of what was behind the high cement walls topped with razor wire.  Eventually the gate opened a little bit and a man slipped outside.  He wanted to know who we were, why we were there, who we were looking for, and what we wanted.  We explained we were told to come to this business.  He insisted we give him a lot of information first.  By now, I was ready to leave and go buy a generator elsewhere.  Then a security agent, armed of course, joined  the other man.  Eventually we were allowed to drive inside the compound where someone came outside and led us into the office.  I was not sure if the treatment we received was because they did not trust us or if they had reason to not trust anyone.  Not trusting anyone was something I could understand.  We were recognized by employees, that knew us from our visits to the other location, so we did not need to explain the reason we were there.  Luckner filled out our cheque for down payment on the generator.  All of a sudden we could see something had changed. They would not take the cheque. We were told there was no generator the size we wanted in Miami.  It would have to come from England to Miami to Haiti and it would take approx 3 months.  Now, remember they had told us earlier in the week to not delay coming in as they needed the down payment right away.  While sitting there with the cheque filled in they said they would look into a generator and they would call us.  Obviously the right hand at that place did not know what the left hand was doing.  We have heard nothing since we returned.

We continue to operate here with one refrigerator only for all of us on the compound - normally we have three refrigeraters and at least one freezer running.  We continue to purchase large chunks of ice in Liancout to put in a freezer so some things can lie on top.  We continue to daily bail out the cold water as the ice melts.  We continue to purchase perishables in very small quantities.  We are making out okay.  We continue to thank God that our old generator can put water in the tanks and we have lights in the evening.  That in itself is a big blessing.  The small inverter that is now at my place can't run much at all, and can only run for 2-3 hours at a time.  I thank God daily that we do at least have that one small inverter to help a little until such time a new generator is ours. We have lots here to be thankful for that others do not have available to them.

After realizing we had made an unnecessary trip to Port we took care of two things for HATS and headed home.  We arrived back to Pont Sonde and quickly realized there was a problem just ahead of us.  We heard lots of gun fire, we saw people running and yelling, we saw rocks being thrown, we heard rocks hitting vehicles.  We saw lots of police, those to control riots and those for ordinary daily police work.  I was thankful I was in the vehicle with Luckner.  The one and only thing to do in a situation like this is to calmly try getting away from it.  Luckner stayed  perfectly cool and calm and slowly backed up as people got out of our way, while keeping a close eye on the situation.  I stayed low but kept an eye out as well.  I saw a lot of very angry people and was thanking God that they were not after us.  We sat and waited it out. Eventually we saw things start to settle down.  We waited until we were told it was okay to proceed and then quickly passed through Pont Sonde and headed home again.

Made it home and walked into my house thanking God for our safe arrival.  Discovered quickly that I had no electricity.  My place was once again in 'blackout' and had been for some time.  We were, however, home safely and that is what was important.  It was just another day of life in Haiti.

Germaine returned to work a couple of days ago from her bout with Chikungunya.  She is not 'up to snuff' yet but is doing what she can. She spent five days in absolutely horrible amounts of pain unable to do anything - could not lift a finger, or turn over, or anything.

The children are all well, as you will see from the photos.  Our newest little one, Magdala, is fitting in beautifully.  She is getting so much love, attention, affection, along with good nutrition, that she is thriving.  She still dearly loves her "Ti Mama Leica' but will now happily go with the other children and all of us adults.  If, however, she sees Leica her hands quickly go up for Leica to take her.  All the children here just love having a new little sister in the family.

Sandra likes being a big sister

Fun on our afternoon walks

My adorable mischievous Jonathan

Mama's early morning walk with Moise

No mangos for months. What a treat they got from Richard

Magdala and Ti Mama Leica

Sandra sat there and said - Photo for Dickie, Mama

I T    I S    A L L     A B O U T    A L L     T H E     C H I L D R E N

Blessings,
Karen and gang

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hello my name is Magdala.

I am the new kid on the block so to speak - a beautiful addition to the HATS family.  I am wondering if one of the men of HATS, called Keith, might recognize me.  I will be here with the other children waiting for you to return , with your wife this time, in October.

I am the new kid in the HATS family

Magdala, trying to figure out who Luckner is

Magdala did not had access to 'mother's milk' or to regular good nutrition.  She is little and not yet walking on her own.  Mama Karen believes with the nutrition that is available here at the mission, along with lots of love, prayer, affection, and stimulation, that before long Magdala will be toddling around after her new sisters and brothers.

As soon as the temperature dropped a little in late afternoon the children dug out our two old strollers to see if one was in good enough condition to take their new little sister on our regular afternoon walk along the canal.

Everybody look at our 'new little sister'

Big sister kisses for Magdala

All of a sudden Jonathan is a 'big' brother

Sandra loves the walk back home with big sister Leica

Jonathan likes to return home with big brother JJ

A regular early evening play time in the yard before bed

Go to the top Sandra. I am coming too

Sandra, Jonathan, Jofky

Ti Luc says anything Jofky and Anne can do I can do too

The blog written Wednesday evening reported the employees were much better and back at work with no new cases of Chikungunya at HATS.  That quickly changed.  Germaine now is suffering with it.  She is in a lot of pain and unable to use the right side of her body.  Three of our employees were in flareups of it yesterday as well and unable to move around easily.  We, however, limped along here onsite and the important things managed to get taken care of.

Thank you for all your support for the HATS children.  Thank you for your support too now for our newest little one.  Without you Magdale would not be able to become a part of our family.      

I T    I S     A L L     A B O U T     T H E     C H I L D R E N

Blessings everyone.
Karen and kids

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Greetings from the sauna a.k.a. Haitian steam bath

It is hot.  It is humid.  It is hot.  It is humid.  From 9:30 am until late afternoon we are too hot, too wet, sweating profusely, showering again and again whenever we have water enough to do so.

I know some of you in Canada are finding it too hot this summer and I certainly do understand.  It is not the heat that kills us here but the intense humidity along with it.  It saps our energy and at times we resemble zombies.  Yesterday I decided to check our temperatures.  In my house with cement walls 36 degrees.  Outside in the shade 47 and in the sun 58.  Put that together with high humidity and it makes for moving around like zombies for sure.  One stays out of the sun as much as possible.

Late afternoon every day I take the children for a walk along the canal and play time underneath the six huge mango trees by the canal.  When leaving the compound yesterday Anne told me the back of my blouse was dirty.  I thought I must have touched it against something, and since we were only going out to walk and play I did not check it.  When I returned I discovered that my black blouse was more white than black - white almost all over with salt rings from sweating.  Not a lovely sight.

One of our every afternoon walks

Judel 6, Dieunel 8

Jonathan - Look at me Mama

Sandra - Look at me too Mama

checking out a just born baby mouse

Photo taken by Djemima

As I sit typing this my fingers are wet and sliding all over the keys.  I have to constantly check for typos.   I seem to have water running everywhere over my body.  I am very thankful for the fan to push a little air around in my office when I have charge in my inverter batteries.  Our generator is running again, but since the damage to it caused by lightening, it does not run as it used to. It often shuts itself down, but we are learning what to do to restart it.  Needing to restart it often is not a problem at all, but it is the times when we are not able to restart it that turns into a big problem.

Despite the heat and humidity for which the valley is infamous we at the HATS Mission are doing okay.  The  employees and children are doing better.  We have had no new cases of Chikungunya for which we are extremely thankful.  Employees are all back at work albeit not completely recovered.  Cifila, Yolande, Eugene, Magalie, and Luckner still suffering pain in feet, legs, knees or hands, but can work now.   Djemima is still not completely well, but doing much better, and the other children are as right as rain as the saying goes.

I try to keep them occupied inside one of our buildings during the highest heat of the day and let them run and ride bikes early morning and after 4:00 p.m.  Then our play walks along the canal followed by games in the yard before bed, after it cools down.

I still have not received the passport for Ti Luc.  We wait and 'try' to do so patiently.  'Try' is the important word in that sentence for me.  I need the passport so I can send the application for a visitors visa so I can take him to Canada with me.  I do believe it will come eventually but often struggle with patience waiting.

Ti Luc continues to amaze us with his determination and drive.  He is one gutsy little boy who wants to do and accomplish everything the other children can.  Lately he has taken to trying to feed himself by using spoons and gagets people have given him.  He is determined that eventually he will feed himself.  We believe with him and encourage him.

Ti Luc trying to feed himself with spoons from Dickie & Kathleen. Not easy for him.

Putting in good effort

Jonathan has become a little helper with those doing the laundry for the children's homes.  He likes to help carry the full laundry baskets to the room with the washing machine.  He especially likes to carry the empty baskets back to the boy's and girl's homes.

Laundry baskets walking back to the kid's homes

I will never be able to stop saying thank you to one and all for your support of the work of the HATS-Haiti mission with children.  Thank you so very much.

I T    I S     A L L     A B O U T     T H E     C H I L D R E N

God bless you all.
Karen and gang

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

THANK YOU BEATE AND VIVIANNE.

Beate, your being here this month was different than all your other times.  It was not as comfortable for sure, but you were a trooper.  Thank you for bringing Vivianne with you.  You both accepted everything here - no electricity, no water, and all that goes with that, in the midst of temperatures in the forties with very high humidity.  I thank you both from the bottom of my heart for coming and helping, and accepting all of us and everything as you did. 

Thank you, too, for your willingness to be a part of the message at church Sunday morning on 'not judging by  outward appearance'.  Thank you for going to our service in torn and dirty shorts and t-shirts, with dirt on your faces, arms and legs, and Vivianne with nothing on her feet.  

My kids did not know quite what to think when they came and saw how you were dressed for church.  They were more than a little surprised for sure.  
 
My children ready for church but surprised at the way Beate and Vivianne were dressed for church

Off we go to church

The older children figured Mama was 'up to something' and perhaps I was going to use you in the message.  The younger ones thought you were not dressed properly for church, but accepted it because Mama Karen did.  They, however, told me many times before we made it to the service that I was beautiful.  Meaning my clothes looked a lot better to them than yours.  Looks like I have more teaching to do on this subject with the younger ones as they grow up. 

The message Sunday was clear and well received thanks to you two. You willingly left for church looking like you had just come from a garden in our area after planting rice.  You not only sat through the service everyone could see you thoroughly enjoyed the service.  
 
Two clean and beautifully attired ladies at church this morning

Sitting in church

Instead of looking for some clothes you thought were decent to put on for church, you had to come home after the service and look for something decent to change into.  Thank you for being a willing part of the message.
 
Church is finished. May we go home and put on decent clothes now

You are both missed by all of us.  We will be waiting for your return.

IT  IS  ALL  ABOUT  THE  CHILDREN

Karen and children

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Our last day has crept up on us so fast.

It’s 8:45 p.m. and the day is winding down. We just said bye to all the sweet, beautiful, incredible happy and loving children. It was when Dieunel said “I love you,” to us that the flood gates opened and both Vivienne and I were crying our hearts out. However, I know that the year will fly by so fast and then I’ll be back again…or should I say “we’ll” be back again. From the moment that Vivienne arrived at HATS, she was already talking about coming back with this and that for Karen and the kids. I know that Vivienne was truly touched by the wonderful children, and she instantly became Karen's friend. I am so happy and blessed to have met that woman, and that she was willing to come with me and is wanting to come back with me next year.

Tonight, I’m not going to give you a run-down of the day. You’ll see what we did in the following pictures. I just want to tell everyone what many of you already know. HATS is Karen’s and Luckner’s life. It is their combined teamwork and passion to help the people of Haiti that makes HATS such an incredible place. I had a chance to see Luckner’s smiling face a few times during the hustle and bustle of the week, and that really lifted my heart. I just want to let him and the world know that I think he is an incredible, remarkable person. He does so, so much for Karen and the children; for the organization of HATS, for the school children, for his own family and for this community.  I don’t know how I would ever be able to describe my sincere gratitude for all you do Luckner. Thank you so very much, and I leave here always at peace knowing that you are a part of all of this…Thank you a thousand times over.

Good night all With love, Beate and Vivienne

p.s. It just dawned on me...We forgot to THANK Karen...soooooooo thannnnnnkkkkkkk you (we did in private).

Treat time after church

Our young men drumming group

Sitting in palace at Ti Riviere

Overlooking the Artibonite Valley

Water play on an extremely hot day

Play time with the children

Jonathan is going to miss Vivianne's arms

Germaine did not realize both ladies were soaking wet

These two are going to miss each other

Ti Luc's new friend and therapist