Life in Rollingville

We’ve been having a great visit with Erik and Susie. They leave tomorrow, so today they’re trying to pack in as much Haiti fun as possible. Chris and Matt took them for a hike up a mountain to an old fort in St. Marc, and then they were planning on doing a bit of shopping to pick up some essential Haitian souvenirs, like spicy peanut butter and rum. Chris called me from the store to ask if he could buy a giant bottle of green olives, and was excited because he found sandwich pickles. Yum!

So one of the biggest items of excitement in the last few days is that the new bridge is open! To celebrate on Saturday we went out and had LOTS of fun.

Saturday morning we headed down to Kaliko to visit Ben & Heather for the day. Because they rent one of the resort owners houses they get into the resort to use the pool and beach for free, as do any of the friends they have with them. We love Ben and Heather because they’re about the same age as us, they have young kids, they’re Canadians (woot!), and we have a lot in common. It’s always nice when we get together with them, and we seem to have a lot of fun taking our families (that still seems weird to me whenever I say it) down to the pool for a few hours of swimming. Swimming is one of Olivia’s very favorite things. She could be in the water for hours. It’s always fun for Chris and I to take her in the pool because she loves to splash and will even “jump” off the wall into our arms. Yeah, she’s 8 months old. This is one area where she has no fear. We should have lots of fun once she learns how to walk… I’m thinking a tether system where she can run around in circles in the yard, but no into the ocean ;)

After swimming and socializing on Saturday afternoon, we headed down to Club Indigo for dinner. It was nice to get out for the evening and do something we haven’t done in months. We usually don’t go out for dinner unless we have guests at the mission. Chris says that it’s because my food is way better than anything we could eat at a restaurant around here. Matt thinks I should cook worse tasting food if I want to get myself taken out more often ;) Nothing like job security…

Yesterday we went to church up at Canaan. It was hot. And it was long. I like going to church there, I just don’t like having to lick the sweat drops coming of my nose and upper lip. They haven’t given country power in our area for about 6 weeks, and word on the street is that we won’t be getting it for another 6 months or so, until they move the power poles for the road construction. That and the cost of fuel means people are only using their generators when they need to. No fans in church. 

Yesterday afternoon we hosted our bi-weekly missionary get together. We look forward to the meetings. It’s a chance for us to visit with people that have become friends over the years, to catch up, encourage and pray for each other. We do some singing and there’s a devotional. We had 22 people there yesterday and a couple of people aren’t back from their summer fundraising yet. I like it when everyone is around. It feels like our “Haiti family” is all home. 

In other random news…

Yesterday we came home from church to find a BIG puddle of blood outside our deck doors. There was no indication of what had caused it. We thought the dog might have attacked a chicken or something, but nothing to point us in that direction. She looked totally fine and was happy. We checked our security cameras but the camera was pointed just above where the puddle had been so no luck there. It wasn’t until we were just wrapping up the missionary meeting that the mystery was solved. Jabez started bleeding from her leg like crazy. Turns out she had cut herself on the leg, but it had stopped bleeding by the time we got home. When she started licking it again it opened up. We think it must have been close to an artery because there was a lot of blood for the size of cut. Our nurse friend Elsie was here so we combined efforts and got the dog bandaged up. Today she’s totally fine and things look good and closed up. She was even running around the yard in her nutbar way. It was such an odd little mystery to try and solve. It’s amazing what kind of conclusions 5 people can come up with when they come home and discover blood…

Our apartment is coming along nicely. Can’t remember if I’ve mentioned that Chris and I are considering moving our family in there when it’s done, and using the main house as office space and accomodation for other volunteers. The mission house was designed to be a weekend house, not one that got lived in for the long term, so there are a lot of things that aren’t super functional for a family, like only having one bedroom with doors, which we had to add. Moving to the new building would give us a bit of separation from work too, which would be nice. We’re basically paying a lot of attention to detail while we’re building the apartment and building it so it would be functional for our family if we do make the final decision to move in. That way it has everything we need, but would also work for anyone else living in there. It’s exciting for us to see walls going up and to see things like where the windows will go, especially after looking at lines on paper for so long. This floor is going up much faster than the first since we didn’t have to spend so much time on foundation work. However, we know that the finishing is going to take longer so it’s a catch 22. 

The solar array is coming along too. Thony came in this morning because he had fallen on the scaffolding. People often ask what my job is here. Part of it is playing mom/first aid giver and bandaging up the owies. Thony is now walking around with a bunch of bandaids all over himself :) 

Something happened on Saturday morning that made Chris and I very sad. Manes, one of our workers, was here doing some welding on the molds. I was upstairs sewing when I heard him come to the door and talk to Chris. It’s not normal for Haitians to just cry. They will weep and wail when they’re at funerals, but you don’t often see them express emotion in the form of tears. At least, I haven’t. After Chris and Manes were done talking I went to find out what was going on. Manes had just gotten the call that his baby had died. The baby was only about a month old. Manes is only about 22, and not married, which is quite normal here. He was devastated. I went to talk to him and he told me that the baby had been sick since Monday. It was so hard for Chris and I because we know that babies don’t need to die. There is enough knowledge and resources, even here in Haiti, that babies don’t need to die. It’s just a case of asking. We know that if Manes had come to us that we either would have figured out what was wrong, or could have taken the baby to someone that would have. We know people that could have helped. 

Many Haitians don’t know that when they go to the doctor they have the right to ask questions, not just take the prescription for medication. When they don’t know what’s going on they often turn to the witch doctor because they don’t feel like anything has been done. When someone dies, it’s often blamed on curses or something like that – not that they had an illness that may or may not have been treated. It’s all about education – people knowing that they can and should ask questions, and doctors taking the time to really talk to people about what’s making them sick. I talked to Jean, our foreman, this morning and told him that we were having a hard time with what happened to Manes and his family and that we want all of the workers to know that if they have sick kids, they can come to us and let us know because we might be able to direct them to help that they didn’t know existed. 

Haiti is a weird mix of things that get thrown at you on a daily basis. It’s all about knowing how to juggle stuff I think.

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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

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