Thursday, April 29, 2010

A reading list

Sometimes we do a good job of telling you what life is like here. Sometimes other people who tell stories for a living do a better job.

Here are somethings I have been reading. Acknowledgments go to Ruth for pointing me to most of these.

This article is about two different tent communities.

Dave Carter is an awesome man and tells the story of his time here in Haiti better than most. Tissues are necessary to read this.

Wyclef's thoughts on Haiti. (Wonder if I can meet him when he is here. I am a huge Fugees fan)

What? You don't normally read the Architectural Record? Yeah, neither do I. But if you want a more technical read on how Haiti plans on spending the billions donated, this is a good one. * An editorial note. I have been to the "International Airport" in Cap Haitien, and it is quite limited. About 80 feet by 40 feet and spotty electricity.

Lastly, it is was hot today. Felt like 104.

The Strenuous Life

Today I'm inspired by good ol' Teddy Roosevelt:

I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of efforts, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More from Sans Souci Palace

Recap: B and I chaperoned the 8 Quisqueya seniors as they went on a trip to northern Haiti to visit the Citadelle and Sans Souci Palace, both built by Emperor Cristophe in the 1800's after the slave revolt that toppled Napoleon and the French colony in Haiti. This palace was his royal showpiece before it was destroyed by an earthquake. Someone told me Sans Souci means "no worries", like the Kreyol version of "hakuna matata" in Swahili.
I love this shot because there are people living and going about their daily lives literally in the middle of this incredible ruin. There were goats and pheasants (yes, the bird, that H is not an accident!) milling about inside the old walls, and this lady just going about her business.
 Affectionately known as the Hanging Tree. Enemies of the emperor, beware. (Double points if you get the Harry Potter reference in that last sentence).
Statue of the Goddess of Drama outside the Sans Souci palace. When the United States invaded and occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1930 (did you know that happened? I didn't before I moved here...), some Marines shot off her nose and part of her breast. Grrr.
Can't you imagine it was lovely in its prime?
Outer buildings of Sans Souci- servants' quarters, fountains, guardhouses, gardens.
Literally 30 feet from the back of this incredible palace, behind the gorgeous church, is a neighborhood of little shacks. Can you imagine if there were slums one block from the pyramids? Maybe there are, I haven't been... it just seems so crazy, the contrast.
Original toilet. There was a board over this hole at one point.
Statues and clouds
Interesting buildings we saw on the drive away from the palace and Citadel. Once again, any dear Francophiles/Kreyol-lovers able to fill me in?
The northern part of Haiti has this interesting cactus I've never seen, and this enterprising homeowner made it into a very secure fence!
I love Haiti.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Let me tell you a story about the ordinary.

Carrie is a friend from North Dallas. She loves God, serves in her community, and runs marathons. When she is not doing any of those things, she writes math curriculum.

Through her work and her running she has a relationship with Tom Springmeier, the VP of Educational -Technology for Texas Instruments. They met in an ordinary casual fashion- running (something I am allergic to).

After the earthquake we were asking for donations of supplies for the school and for the relief effort. Carrie seized upon her friendship and asked if TI might be willing to donate some graphing calculators to our school. These fancy calculators cost over $100 each- quite a burden for post-quake families who just lost their jobs or business. TI said yes. In August, I will be bringing a class set back to Quisqueya. This is an amazing blessing for our math and science departments.

I love two things about this:
Publish Post

1. The generosity of Texas Instruments. I know a handful of people who work there and all of them are really amazing. You know who you are.

2. How God uses our ordinary lives, friendships, and connections to make the extraordinary happen.

To paraphrase R.C. Sproul: Fortune, fate and luck are blind, impersonal and dumb. Our God is a father who is personal and intentional. Nothing happens in our lives by accident.

At Easter, my school director, boss and friend, Steve, shared how Christ took an ordinary meal and made it something that we remember for all time. He urged us to think about the ordinary in our lives and see God's work in it. In the past 5 months, the ordinary has certainly been what has sustained us. So I want to pass the challenge on to you. Look for Christ in the ordinary in your life.

And thanks again TI!


Citadelle et Sans Souci

Before we share about our trip, let's clear the air...

Dear Ugly Commenter,

I guess we need to say that our blog's subtitle "A Haitian Vacation" was meant to be ironic. I mean, we thought it was pretty obvious to anyone who's been reading that this time in Haiti has been slightly less than glamorous- amazing, transformational, meaningful, yes, but not exactly luxurious. Upon further reflection, we feel that the subtitle may now be insensitive in light of the tragedy, so it's removed.

Secondly, you called us "classic vacationaries" with "hollow motives" because we chaperoned the senior trip to north Haiti. Ouch. We were asked by our boss to chaperone this trip, and it was a delightful last-minute assignment. As chaperones, our trip cost was provided by the school. Pretty sweet deal for the chance to invest in 8 seniors who just lived through an earthquake and had their entire lives turned upside-down, since, after all, our students are our primary ministry focus.

Whew. On to happier topics....

The first day of the senior trip we visited the famous Citadelle near Cap Haitien. The Citadelle was built by the first free leader of north Haiti, Emperor Christophe, after the slave uprising that overthrew the French colony to make Haiti the first free black republic. The Citadelle is a giant fort meant to help protect against an attack by Napoleon in case he ever came back.
B does not like small planes. At. all.
Sans Souci Palace is near the base of the mountain that leads up to the Citadelle. It was Emperor Christophe's home, and it was destroyed, ironically, by an earthquake in the 1800's. Now it is a ruin, but it is said to have rivaled Versailles in its prime.
Sans Souci
Emperor Christophe
Beautiful little church. They were having a Catholic service inside when we arrived.
I'd love to know what this says.
The drive up to the Citadelle revealed rural poverty.
We rode horses up the long trail to the Citadelle. Fabrice loved the ride.
The Citadelle! Every stone and cannonball was hand-carried up this hill. It took over 15 years to complete and 20,000 men died during its construction.
Mildew is pretty.
Ben explaining cannon mobility.
Historynerd Heaven
Students afar. The Citadelle is huge.
Peeking over the ledge. It was many stories tall, and you walk on the top with no rails!
Cannonballs just stacked and in the open. I know a couple of people here who have cannonballs from the Citadelle.
Our talented resident photographer, Josine
Insert joke here.
Little house on the way down.
"Give me one money," he yelled as we passed.
Laundry day
Sans Souci from the back

We have a few more photos from Sans Souci to come tomorrow, including some surviving sculpture, "the Hanging Tree", and the original 19th century toilet. This whole site is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it rivals Stonehenge and Chichen Itza in my opinion. It's incredible, and I'm so grateful we got to visit.


Friday, April 23, 2010


We're back from chaperoning the Quisqueya seniors. More to come! While we've been out, there has been progress. The military has left our campus. All gone. This will probably mean the end of 24-hour power. Before the quake they were getting 9 hours on school days and 4 hours on weekends, I believe. Also, I noticed upon our return today that most of the Haitian school workers who were previously staying on campus have left. I haven't done a thorough search, but I think sweet little Sarah is gone, too. I love this child so very much. Her mother works in our cafeteria, and I have treasured the last three months with her living on campus. I am anxious to find out where they are staying now, and if she needs anything.
Merry Christmas from the Kilpatricks. I wish! About a week ago B and I were playing outside with Sarah and took some pics. She loves pictures.
Flower petals are better than fancy toys to Mademoiselle. She loves to play this game where she picks up every pink petal she can find and we make a little pile. She teaches me color names in Kreyol.
Loud noise! A big truck drove by and honked.
The flower petal game also involves putting each petal in my palm and blowing it high into the air, then fetching and re-making a perfect pile.
Game continued, pile grows.
Flower petal house, made of fallen leaves from what I think was a mahogany tree.
Another change is that the medical relief teams are slowing down. We had over 200 docs sleeping on campus each night at one point, now it is down to 75 or so per night. This surgeon from Minneapolis came to speak to chapel. He shared about losing his son in 9-11, his faith journey, and his medical career.
There has also been progress in clearing rubble. A bunch of US army guys blocked off the street outside our school last week for a day to make way for a bulldozer to move rubble. This is happening in other places, I hear, as are the evacuations of tent city dwellers from flood prone areas like the Petionville golf course. The rainy season is upon us.



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