Jan 7 2011

Haiti: Day Two

The posts that follow are a brief description of daily events surrounding an organized trip to Haiti in the summer of 2010. There were 12 of us total plus one reporter from the Daily Journal in Farmington, MO. I have relayed each post as it was written in my journal so please overlook any grammatical errors or crazy talk. I will also try to include pictures along the way.

Tuesday, July 6th

We woke at approximately 5:15am – it was already light outside and lots of activity – chickens, cars, people…to name just a few. It was shower time and I know there wasn’t any hot water, but DANG! The water in the morning was COLD! It was a quick shower, but definitely needed.

Dressed and back at the tent we found several good-sized holes in the ground right outside our tents. Guess what? Tarantula holes! And yes, they housed live ones! they didn’t like to come out, but occasionally they did come out and I was able to snap a few pictures. Pretty crazy to see them in the “wild” sort of speak. Later they told us to go ahead and kill them. They will bite and I guess it swells up and is pretty painful.

Breakfast is at 7am every morning. There is also a generator that runs a few hours three times a day, usually around meals. Breakfast today was some sort of egg concoction with some fresh bread. Pretty decent. the cooks are extremely nice and do a great job. Unfortunately today there was no coffee, but they promised some tomorrow.

After breakfast we had a short devotional time and a time of prayer – a great way to start the day!

Today it was decided that we would stay at camp and build two “quadro-poopers” as we affectionately called them. They will be four bathrooms (2 guys/2 girls) in an 8′ x 8′ building:

Finding the proper tools was interesting. We brought several saws and other tools which was aย  lifesaver. Otherwise you make do with what you can find. Electricity was supplied by the generator today – they left it running all day for us to work.

By the way – there are several other groups that stay here. Some that are interesting. One group is building a small housing structure out front of our compound. It’s a new type of structure designed for hurricanes. It’s made primarily out of styrofoam with hardened panels. I think they are trying to sell them down here. But hey – if it helps the people then it’s probably a win/win for everyone.

Okay – back to our work. Matt and I cut most of the wood today. The wood is actual 2 x 4’s – full size instead of the smaller ones we have in the U.S. Other guys were framing walls and then we had a roof structure. We had to build things in sections because it has to be transported to the land later. Not sure if we’ll move them or not. It will depend on how much we get done at the land (hopefully tomorrow).

After a quick lunch (rice and beans and some sort of meat – goat? – and then a red sauce. There was also cabbage, but I passed on the cabbage) we were back at the building project. We ended up building two structures (8 bathrooms total) ready to be assembled. There was a thin plywood on the sides and they will add the roofs later.

Several of us made a quick walk down to the local gas station. What an interesting journey! Of course everyone looked at us strangely, but most were friendly and some even waved at us. This (Leogane) was similar to Port-au-Prince but not as busy. Still lots of trash, broken down homes and vendors on the street. And of course, don’t get close to the road or you’ll probably get run over!

The gas station was very cool. It had AC inside – schweet! There were lots of “American” items for sale. The girls bought chocolate bars but the guys didn’t get anything. the money rate is approximately 8 Haitian Dollars (Goulds) to 1 U.S. Dollar. They also had things like corn flakes, SPAM and lots of baby products.

It got dark at 6:30pm again followed by dinner at 7pm. Tonight’s course was “Pumpkin Soup” – pretty interesting and was okay to eat. It had pumpkin pieces, cabbage, noodles and the “mystery meat” again. Not a bad meal, but not my favorite either.

After dinner everyone was exhausted so we headed to bed at 8pm! Some of the guys took Nyquil to help them sleep but I went without any. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep very well! About an hour into bed I had to go pee, but decided to wait it out because a storm rolled in and it was raining again. I finally woke up about 4am and head to the nearby woods for some relief. ๐Ÿ™‚ Probably not the smartest thing that early in the morning, but Jake obviously had to pee as well since he found a spot nearby. Ha! I went back in to bed and slept pretty decent and finally got up at 6:30am. More tomorrow!

PS – I remembered my fan – what a blessing! I just hope it lasts for a few more days before running out of battery!

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Jan 6 2011

Haiti: Day One (Part Two)

The posts that follow are a brief description of daily events surrounding an organized trip to Haiti in the summer of 2010. There were 12 of us total plus one reporter from the Daily Journal in Farmington, MO. I have relayed each post as it was written in my journal so please overlook any grammatical errors or crazy talk. I will also try to include pictures along the way.

Monday, July 5th (afternoon)

We finally landed in Haiti (even a snack on the plane!) and wow! Very hard to describe! We took a “shuttle bus” to the baggage area and then stood in line at the customs area to get our passports stamped. We also had to fill out paperwork on the plane to turn in. Several of us got caught up in line, and by the time we got through, the others had loaded our luggage onto “carts” you could rent for a couple of US dollars. Little did we know what was in store for us!

We were warned that there would be many people waiting to help us with our bags. There was a small “staging” area outside and all of us gathered together there. Outside of a fence were literally hundreds of people – some yelling in at us, others just standing by. There were several airport security folks and then some other men in blue shirts and red hats. We thought they were part of the airport staff, but it turns out that they were the people we were warned about. As soon as we rolled our carts outside of the staging area they immediately ran to us and started to grab our carts. We kept telling them NO very strongly, but a couple of carts in front of us could not get rid of them and had to let them help.

We walked down a cobblestone type path that had been damaged by the earthquake. It was definitely hard to navigate! The cart kept tipping over and we had to reload the baggage. Every time one of the red had guys tried to help us, but we were persistent that they stand back away. We pushed down the long walkway with fencing on the side. It seemed like it went on forever! Finally, we saw a barricade up ahead with hundreds of people behind it. What in the world was going on? Our party had totally been separated by this point. Finally we saw Gerson who motioned us to go thru the barricade to the parking area.

The parking area was jammed with cars, trucks, bikes, etc but we pushed forward and found an old school bus waiting. It was painted blue and white and was rented by Gerson and Heather to transport us to Leogane.

We loaded up and immediately began to sweat. It was definitely HOT and very humid. Gerson got water for each of us which really helped. Port-au-Prince was built for about 200,000 people or so, but since the earthquake it now is home to 3 million!!

It’s hard to describe the bus ride through Port-au-Prince. I took lots of pictures, so I’m hoping they tell a better story than this incredibly messy handwriting. The city – hmm…how do I describe it? It’s like a huge bomb detonated, threw rubble, building and trash everywhere and then added people on top. Totally insane! It’s almost like a never-ending flea market that endlessly winds thru every street. By the way – before we left the parking area the bus hit a car in the lot. Apparently this is a normal occurance!

Our driver was outstanding however. Haiti has no road rules. Pass when and where you can and go fast. There are tons of motorcycles because it is so hard to navigate the streets. The roads are questionable at best – lots of damage everywhere. Most buildings have been destroyed or are falling down.

Everywhere you look – TENTS. Or tarps. And sticks to hold them up. There is no sanitation and dirty water/sewage rolls through the gutters on most streets. And trash everywhere. I’m guessing the Haitians are beyond hope of keeping up with trash so they just litter the streets with it. We even saw one spillway that was full of Styrofoam to completely block off one end. It’s so overwhelming to picture. Poverty everywhere. I have no idea how these people survive, but yet they seem content to do so.

We traveled a long time down the streets of Port-au-Prince. The bus driver was fantastic and many times we thought we were going to crash or hit something or someone. We were hit by another car at one point. They tried to pass us but another large bus was coming and they ended up swerving into us. Not much damage however, and after a short conversation in Creole we were on our way again.

We passed the Presidential Palace, now destroyed, but framed beautifully in the background by a large chain of mountains. I didn’t realize there were so many mountains here.

After a few hours we arrived at our camp. An unassuming compound housed behind a line of broken down walls and buildings. Not quite what I expected (not sure what I was expecting really) but a charming community willing to take us on as guests for the next week.

The first thing we did was setup our tents in a small field inside. There were about 20 other tents or so, most of them on a concrete area, but we only had room in the field. We quickly set up our tent, sprayed on bug spray all over us, and then a quick tour of the camp.

There are showers here, only cold water, but very make-shift. They put on doors to small stalls just last week. They have a large tent area that houses the kitchen. A bigger surprise – running water for the toilet! You cannot put any paper in them however, so a small cardboard box sits beside them for your “waste” products. ๐Ÿ™‚

There is a good-sized rotunda in the middle of camp where we will gather and eat each day. Speaking of food, our first meal was at 7pm today. I say day, but Haiti get dark this time of year about 6:30pm or so (and light by 5:15am!). From what Gerson said, we were treated to an unbelievable feast for our first meal. Chicken, rice, fried plantains and french fries! Schweet! There is a large water cooler for everyone to fill their water bottle. We were warned many times NOT to drink the water or we would get diarrhea. We’re not even supposed to open our mouth in the shower. That’s easier said than done.

After dinner we quickly turned in – totally exhausted. But before we could get back to the tent, a HUGE thunderstorm rolled in – a torrential downpour! It totally flooded the field we were in and all of our tents had water inside. We managed to stack some of our stuff in one corner and find a small place to sleep. Yuck! Talk about a first night’s experience!

The tent I’m in has four people: myself, Mark Burlison, Jeromy McDowell and Jake Whitener. The tent was HOT. Not just warm, but sweat everywhere hot. It was hard to go to sleep in the heat, but finally after about 30 min I was able to go to sleep. A LONG and interesting first day!

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Jan 5 2011

Haiti: Day One (Part One)

The posts that follow are a brief description of daily events surrounding an organized trip to Haiti in the summer of 2010. There were 12 of us total plus one reporter from the Daily Journal in Farmington, MO. I have relayed each post as it was written in my journal so please overlook any grammatical errors or crazy talk. I will also try to include pictures along the way.

MONDAY, JULY 5th, 2010

We arrived at The Bridge Community Church early this morning – 2:15am. I didn’t get much sleep the evening before due to the 4th of July activities, but I did get to hang with the family and shoot off some fireworks. Mel, Seth and Emilee made the journey to drop me off.

We loaded all the luggage (and extra luggage for Heather and Gerson) and after a moment of prayer and last minute comments we departed for the airport. I rode with Tim Gray and four women. the women slept and Tim talked the whole way. Ha!

We arrived at the airport and it was absolutely slammed! Tons of people in line and we waited about 3o minutes to check in. Everything went smooth until the carry-on checkpoint downstairs. I forgot to empty one bottle of liquid so they emptied part of my backpack and sent it back through the x-ray machine. Never fear though – they passed me on through.

Our flight to Miami was pretty full. The flight was about 2hrs 45min. I tried to sleep some, but not much luck. I did manage to get a belly full of painful gas – maybe from the malaria medication perhaps? The Miami airport is decent but the food is very expensive. By the way – I did manage to score some Starbucks in St Louis – schweet! My stomach was still hurting in Miami so I just ate some crackers. We had a 2 1/2 hour layover. On the way back we’ll have a 5 hour layover – yuck!

We met some interesting folks in the Miami airport. There is another missions group going to Haiti as well. They are all dressed in “hot pink” shirts. Probably not the best idea to identify yourself that way. We also met a fellow who helps organize groups for missions and other relief projects. He was very helpful with misc. info for Haiti. He did manage to scare a few of the ladies by telling us that at the airport there will be as many as 200 people trying to “help” you with baggage. They will also try to steal purses, etc so we’ll have to be careful. Should be interesting – especially since I’m carrying extra cash for Ben.

On board the second flight now – a 1hr 40min flight. they even served us cheese and crackers – schweeet! Can’t wait to land – then an hour drive to Leogane. More to come!

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Jan 4 2011

Just Around the River Bend…

I’m pumped about sharing a lot of exciting things that might be in store for this year. Some are just ideas spinning around in my feeble brain, while others will hopefully impact communities of people around the world. Let’s start with what I do know:

  • I’ll be blogging a LOT more this year. And not just to say I did, but to generate new ideas, toss about old ones, and strive to figure out how to share more about Jesus.
  • Creative Improv will be taking on projects that will bring about change. We’ve already started. We’re currently working on a project for a group who wants to bring clean water to all places in the world. We’ll be sharing more about them in the upcoming months on our website. Will your cause be the next?
  • My friend, Jon Phillips, has begun work on “Sharism” and I think you’ll want to know more. I’m not sure how this will effect what I’ll be doing, but I know you’ll want to learn more about Jon and his work.
  • I’ve had a project rolling around in my brain for the last year, and I think this will be the year it unleashes. More soon, but for now: Creative. Thinking. Project.
  • My family will be involved more in serving others. We’ve already started by adopting Tia through Compassion. If you haven’t adopted a child yet, I’ve officially challenged you. We’ll also try to find more practical ways to give back, serve, and love people better.
  • Haiti. Myself, my family and many others will continue trying to find creative ways to help the people of this country. We are so inspired by Gerson and Heather and are desperate to help. I’ll begin this week by sharing my journey through a journal I kept during my visit in June 2010, followed by a big announcement.
  • Teaching and Music. Creativity through music has always been a passion. I’ll continue teaching this year as I try to impact others through the love and joy of music. I’ll also continue to play professionally through as many opportunities as possible.

I’m sure there is a WHOLE lot more that God has planned for me this year. I guess I’ll have to buckle up for the ride and see what happens.

What does this new year hold? I’m expecting a lot and I’m hoping you’ll join me.

Grace and Peace.

PS…Join me on Twitter or on Facebook as well!

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Nov 6 2010

Gerson and Heather Nozea Interview Part Two

If you haven’t checked out the story of Gerson and Heather, go here.

If you haven’t watched part one of their interview, go here.

Haiti Presentation Gerson and Heather Part Two from Michael Goldsmith on Vimeo.

This is part two of a two part interview with Gerson and Heather Nozea who have started the organization “Growing Hope for Haiti.” This interview was used in our team’s Haiti Presentation.

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