Haiti Mission Trip, Part 1: Background & Details

We're home! Thank you so much for your prayers and good thoughts as my daughter and I spent a week in Haiti. If you visit this blog for weight loss news, you'll have to skip through a couple of entries. Then I'll get back to that. This is also my 100th post, which feels like it should be special!

I've been mentally composing the Haiti story for days, and I realized I can't do justice to it in one post. This is my "scrapbook" - the record to not only share, but to capture my memories while they're fresh. I apologize in advance for the detail. Skip whatever you want!

The Group
We were a diverse group of 14 from our church. Four teens - 3 boys and my girl; five 50-to-60 somethings; three 40-somethings; and two 30-somethings. Five women and nine men, two sets of couples. Seven had made this trip last year, so we had a nice mix of experienced and new.

DFW, early Thursday morning. Little out of focus, but it's the only one we got! 

Once there, we were joined by our two interpreters, Ben and Hassan. Ben had been with the group last year, and they were excited to see him. Hassan is planning on medical school - he applied for his visa, but the Haitian government denied it (and kept his money).

Hassan (left) and Ben

Haiti and the Mission
We flew into Port-au-Prince, and then took a bus to our location for the week, Fermathe. It is about 12 miles from the airport, and takes about an hour to get there.

The Baptist Haiti Mission (BHM) was our home for the week. The history of the mission is fascinating, so I've included a link to the website. The facilities and grounds are lovely -- yes, the bathroom is separate from sleeping quarters, but the weather was nice and it wasn't a hardship.

This church sits at the entrance to the mission. On the right is a gate that is closed at 5pm. Otherwise, the mission is open to the public. This is where we went to church on Sunday.

Continuing through the gate, the mission hospital is right there in the compound. On the left is the clinic, ahead is the pharmacy, and on the right is the hospital. The bridge above connects the two. We heard new babies crying at night a couple of times while we were there.

The view from the dining room

One of the houses on property - the dining room was below this. 

One of the gardens
There is a zoo on the grounds! It's one of the attractions for locals, along with the little park. They have rabbits, goats, ducks, turkeys, and a monkey. There used to be an alligator, but he has moved on.

Mr. Billy Nay-Nay came over to say hi.
The mission is home to missionary families based there, the director, and various other staff. While we were there, the education wing had several students working on their ministry degrees. They were living in the newly rebuilt dorm. In the earthquake, part of the mountain slid away, taking buildings with it.

We worked on projects at the mission itself, including one involving the greenhouse. One money-making endeavor is to sell poinsettias. The area used to be covered with wild poinsettias, and bringing it back is a goal. But they are also sold to the wealthy, with the proceeds going directly to the mission. One of the greenhouses was damaged in the earthquake, and a few of our guys stayed there a couple of days to work on it.

The greenhouse had to be anchored to the concrete wall -- it had bent away and was unusable. Our team straightened the upright poles, and the following day got the permanent supports installed.

Kevin and Mark worked on the plant trays. The bars running perpendicular to the wooden boards roll side to side, allowing walkways to be created by pushing the tray. This allows for the maximum growing area because the walkways can be changed without taking up valuable floor space. They're very proud. :-)

As you can imagine, water is a pretty big deal in Haiti. The dependence on rain and the lack of modern plumbing doesn't just affect the poor -- the mission workers made it clear that we need to be conservative, too, even though there has been a lot of rain recently. The bathrooms had cisterns on top, which provided us with (very) cold shower water and flushing capabilities. But we were told early: "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." Let me know if that gets stuck in your head, because it's been playing in mine for a while now.

The mission had numerous large cisterns like this one:

This is used for irrigation, and is very close to the greenhouses.

Okay, I think that's it for this post. I'll leave you with Bug and me, and I'll be back soon with the important stuff about this trip. Thanks for hanging in there through all the pictures and detail!


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