Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Haiti: Street View

Last week we took little Jefe to the vet. He loves his little doggie carrier, but he does not love the vomit-inducing start-stop traffic.

As I ride through Port-au-Prince I frequently think that I wish I could capture what I'm seeing and show it to you guys. So today, I made a point to bring along my camera and show you the street life on an everyday Saturday.
No air, no radio, no power windows. Will the doors lock today? Who knows!
One of two stoplights on upper Delmas. Purely decorative, of course.
Saturday is a big market day for the marchan ladies. Notice the ever-flowing pile of nast-stank-water.
Rubble from a collapsed parking garage. Three years later, still there.
Local driving school and cyber cafe.
A major intersection connecting Delmas and Delmas 60.
The yellow shirts indicate a charitable program that puts people to work by hiring them for labor projects, typically cleaning the streets. The trash pile, the worn-out political flyers on the walls, and the moto taxi are all standard fare for Port-au-Prince streets.
I try my best to read graffiti, mostly to practice Kreyol but also to see what's going on with the pep la, the people. This is a pro-Martelly tag. Martelly is the current president.
Buy your mattress off the street!!
No plans this weekend? Head to CLUB SHINY.
A very major three-way intersection where Port-au-Prince blends into Petionville, the nicest suburb.
Booksellers at the major intersection.
Moto taxis wait for customers under a sign advertising the Irish Village, a new building with shops and a real Irish pub.
Market ladies selling produce. Please notice the bird on the top left... is that a turkey? The marchan ladies wear aprons to keep their cash.
Need a chicken for dinner?!
Finally, we arrive at the vet. Our vet is a Dominican young woman who speaks French, Kreyol, Spanish, and English. We love her.
The vet was not present, so we saw two other guys. Neither spoke English, so we had to try to get through the visit in Kreyol. Pantomime was a key skill, but we got through it ok. They checked out Jefe's ears and a back leg he was walking on weirdly.

Jefe, unhappy. They took him in a back room to cut his toenails with a machine, and we could hear him howling like he was in a Soviet gulag. He got special treatment for the rest of the day, including some chicken.

Just another day in the life in this beautiful, ugly city.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Brother's Wedding

 A week ago Ben and I flew to Dallas for a long-awaited joyful occasion, the wedding of my brother Matt to the amazing Kelsey.
 The wedding was a celebration of their marriage, of course, but was also in a very real way a cumulative exhale, a celebration of five years in the Marines over with, and Matt home safe.
 My mom, Kels, and I
Bride in the photobooth
 Event 1013 in Plano, Texas
A blast of an evening. Beautiful everything.

Matt and Kelsey-

May His face shine upon you
and give you peace.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

In the minutia

As we were closing another day in Haiti and getting ready to go to bed Katie said, "Feed me! Feed me, Seymour!" I was really worried. Either somebody named Seymour and I were going to need to talk, mano-e-mano. Or Katie has been watching Little Shop of Horrors again. She gets crazy when she does that. Just kidding.

What Katie actually said was, "We have let our blog die." I wanted to deny it, but she was right. So I just stammered and threw, more like gently tossed, our Chihuahua at her.

She is right. But there are some perfectly explainable reasons.
1. We are boring. We lead ordinary lives. Grinding out tests and lessons and last time I checked writing about how unintelligent some of your students are is best done anonymously, here.
2. Our best laid plans often go awry. We were going to spend Thanksgiving in the Pine Forest of Haiti. Bundled up for warmth at 5,000 feet, hiking and being in a place that is not a concrete labyrinth and a cacophony of horns and terrible kompa music. But it was not to be. The river we needed to cross was swollen and impassible. We had a nice 7 hour car ride to end up back at our homes, exhausted, smelling like diesel fuel and needing a nap.

We are just in the  minutia of life. It is not glamorous, or fun, or interesting. Trust me I am living it and while I do not want to do anything else, I certainly do not think you need to know about it.

We will try and do better. Starting tomorrow.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas at Quisqueya

Welcome back! It's been a month- the longest break ever on our blog.

It's Christmastime at Quisqueya! We emerged from chapel on Wednesday morning to find the hallways decorated with lights and garlands- such a treat from a handful of seniors.
 Yesterday was the last discipleship group meeting of the semester. Here are my little chickens. I love them. Five are the same from last year, with three new ones. They're all juniors except one senior. I could look at this picture all day.
 To celebrate the final discipleship, Valerie did what Valerie always does- she bakes! Those who are lucky enough to be Val's best friends and/or discipleship group members get to benefit from the bounty of her Pinterest habit.
 Christmas comes to Haiti! Since it's currently 78 degrees and balmy, we have to do our best.
Saying goodbye for the holidays. I had a big talk with the girls before they left. In Haiti there are huge parties every night during Christmas break. There is no drinking age. There are no speed limits. The last two years, we have woken up on New Year's Day to hear that one of our former students had been killed in alcohol-related car accidents.

It's weird, because in America you spend so much energy trying to help teens make the decision not to drink until age 21, but in Haiti I hear myself telling 14-year-old freshmen to please try to space water between their cocktails.

Let me tell you what we've been doing lately. Praying. There have been several family crises in my circle of students that I'm close to, including two life-and-death situations. Also, we're begging God for clear, explicit direction for our future. I have requested an itemized heavenly to-do list, but thus far it is not forthcoming.

Two weeks ago I stupidly assigned six class sets of papers to be due on one day. I dug myself out of that for about ten days.

Yesterday I taught the senior class to waltz, as our traditional last day of Senior Transitions class before the exam.

A few weeks ago we found out about a Haitian student within our circle of friends who needed a laptop to continue high school. This was a very poor family, not one of our QCS students. That very week somebody made an extra gift to us, so we got to buy the laptop. Now to set it up in French...

Our toilet broke. Then we got a brand new one, and it was the happiest day of my life.

Yesterday Madame Meristel told me that her "tet kay" was finished, which means the head of her house. Her ROOF! I hope to get a picture of that soon.


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