Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ben's One-Year Observations

A year seems like a long time, when so much likely could happen. What will be filling up those 365 days seems full of promise and mystery. When you live a year, it flies by. You're sometimes amazed that so much actually happened, because it seemed like nothing was going on.

This marks the end of our first year in Haiti.

Katie provided the narrative recap of our past year. The frenzied craziness of the past year has been well documented on this blog. But what, if anything, has been learned?

We have learned that if there is a earthquake, you don't go huddle in the bathtub, you get in doorway. Everyone got that? Good.

Some people still haven't learned that Haiti is NOT in Africa. Someone asked me last night, "So, how is Africa?" I told them I didn't know, I had never been there. The awkward silence was heavy. Haiti is in the Caribbean sea. East of Jamaica and Cuba, west of Puerto Rico, next to the Dominican Republic.

Also learned: our school is pronounced Kiss-KAY-uh Christian School. Not "Quesadilla"!

I have learned that I love working and living abroad. After getting married and having a relationship with Christ, it is the best thing I have ever done. If anyone is in a stage in their life where they are mobile, go somewhere. America is a nice place, but go- see other countries learn about other cultures. You will be a deeper, richer person because of it.

I have learned that Haiti requires patience and dedication, like the long-term attention that New Orleans deserved after Katrina. If you wonder what is different in Haiti now, if anything has changed or improved, I would say mostly no. To me, Port-au-Prince looks the same as it did in April; it is too depressing to talk about regularly so I avoid it. In the meantime, governments delay sending their pledged contributions for earthquake recovery and the Haitian government is in deadlock over November's presidential elections (still no winner). All of this leads to a feeling that nothing is changing. The feeling that people are not moving out of the tent cities. They are not finding permanent solutions. What we will learn in the coming year is if the Haitian people are willing to tolerate this much longer.

I am learning how to help. I watch plane loads of blan (white people, or foreigners) fly into Port-au-Prince, then read stories about how $2 of every $100 in some rebuilding contracts goes to a Haitian company, and I wonder how this place is going to get better. All the things we seem to do to help appear to end up making it worse.

I have learned that people actually read what I write. Which blows me away. I thought that after the attention from the earthquake died down, readers would move on. However, I am being told by people that they checks our blog for updates every day. Really? I do not know all the names, but thank you.

Sometimes that requires you to readjust your comfort zone. Like when someone examines your face and tells you your ringworm "doesn't look that bad". Sometimes it devastates you with how cared for you are. Like when old friends tell you that when you do not write for a few days they start to worry about you.

This blog was supposed to be for family and friends to keep up with us. We never thought more than 20 people would look at it.

2011 is here. Our second year at Quisqueya School and Haiti is here. We have more to learn.



  1. May God continue to bless you both and the work you do in Haiti. My husband and I are both subscribers to your blog and live in Crystal Lake, IL. We heard about your blog through one of my high school friends who now lives in TX (and I think she heard about from someone else and posted it on FB). Though we can't be missionaries at this time, we are appreciative of the work you do and your honest updates of how Haiti is doing. Our prayers are with you and Haiti!


  2. I read every post and eagerly look forward to the next one. You both continue to inspire and amaze wise beyond your years. I grew up in South America; I think I "get" your point of view. You WILL be better people, better Christ-followers because of what you are doing.
    Hoping to meet you in person one day in the great Lone Star State.
    Blessings for a more "holy" New Year!

  3. I learned about your blog from Heather Hendricks and also check daily for new posts. You and Katie have a different perspective than the Hendricks (you being a young married couple with no children). When I first found your blog, I spent a whole day reading each and every post so I was caught up. I laughed. I cried. I prayed. I appreciate your posts so I know specific ways I can pray. Keep it up.

  4. I've been reading your blog since right after the quake. Our daughter, Courtney, and son-n-law, Dave Harrington, were in Haiti and reading your updates is like hearing from them. Only they didn't have cell phones (or a phone line ever), internet, or Skype. It would've made life a lot easier on both ends if they had. I would email letters on Saturday night to John Ackerman and he would carry them to church for them on Sunday, that was our fastest comunication. Anyway, thanks for your posts. By the way, can you guys buy diced tomatoes in PAP?

  5. Great post Ben. I feel so helpless and I wish there was more I could do. And it breaks my heart to read stuff like this:

    In regards to the correct pronunciation of your school... I wasn't *too* far off - I had it as Kees-KAY-uh (as opposed to the correct "kiss"). LOL

  6. @grumpy, usually we can buy canned dice tomatoes however it might require that we check a few stores first. Could I ask why?

    @Another Texan- Your pronunciation was much better than some of the butchering than I have heard. The rape story was revolting and left me shaking my head.

  7. And here I've been saying the school name wrong in my head all this time (not quesadilla, though, that's for sure! I'd been thinking "kwis" instead of "kiss"). Now if I just knew what it meant...

  8. @ Tricia, have we never shared about it's meaning? It means Cradle of Life in Taino.

    When Columbus landed on the island of Hispanola, if he had asked the Taino/Arwak Indians living here where he was they would have said. Quisqueya, the cradle of life. Kinda neat, huh?

  9. I read your blog and found out about it from Laura Hudson Taylor or maybe Melinda Gant Burns. I also went to FBCR with Katie's mom & dad & Laura and Kent. I'm also a Baylor Bear!
    I told my friend Alex Turner about your blog too!
    After the earthquake, My 2 DD's (14 & 16) wanted to adopt a Haitian brother...they still do!
    Thank you for your commitment to this country and their people. We will continue to keep you in our prayers.

    Karen in CO

  10. That is neat, thanks for the explanation! I've meant to ask Ruth for ages, but never got around to it.



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