It’s Saturday morning and the work is done. We built one last house yesterday during what felt like the hottest day of the entire week. Despite the heat, there was something special going on as we put this last one together. We had a rhythm that I enjoyed as we took turns integrating our various elements of the building contruction.
We sort of knew that we weren’t attempting to build two houses today, but didn’t rush through this last one. If you can imagine, I savored it. I knew that it signaled the end of my time in Haiti spending time with the families in that community. In fact, when it was time to go, we all held hands and said warm, friendly goodbyes. I was incredibly touched as one of the boys, who seemed to always stay close to me, began to tear as we left. I guess we did build more than just houses.
As a team, we prayed together a lot yesterday morning, very hopeful for the brightest future for the country and the people that we’ve connected with but at the end of the day we kept things pretty light. We just kept things simple and stayed together as we enjoyed our last night in Haiti and our last night together. I often think that our hi-tech “stuff” can easily separate us—making us more independent and self-sufficient but also insulated – reducing our impulse to connect with others. So it’s been great to be thrown together without all the usual trappings of my lifestyle at home – I know that I let people in and appreciate them letting me in as well.
So for me the big reveal is that this trip probably does more for me than for Haiti. I can remember trying to decide whether I could “handle” coming out here, “can I make the time,” “do I have the wherewithall?” I’m so glad that I followed the call and came. I made a contribution to an important effort, I made new friends, I gained a better perspective, I laughed with the children and sang out loud with my team and in all of that, definitely came out the better for all of it.
I’m excited for the next team who makes that decision. Quite frankly, the week flew by…
You know you worked hard when you’re ready for bed at 10p but I wanted to just share a couple of things before calling it a day.
Our team continued to take more ownership of the building process this morning as we put up another house. However, before we started building the first wall, we stopped to discuss whether we had enough space to operate – our take on the site’s size, gave us pause. To be honest, I’m still processing the experience because I heard several seemingly valid answers on how to proceed. We could stop, sit and wait for the host to return and decide, or change the sizing of the back wall of the house to make it all fit, or perhaps assume the host was aware of the possible issue but was confident that we could proceed.
Our team leader (someone nicknamed her ‘the lionheart’ yesterday – lol!) directed us to proceed as originally planned. When the host returned, he confirmed that we did indeed have a enough space and gave us direction on how to fine tune the placement of the house so that everything would work as he planned.
Some of our readers may have recognized the right answer right off because, although I didn’t recognize it at the time, it turned out to be an example of us proceeding in faith and trust of our leader. As we took more ownership, it wasn’t the time to rewrite the playbook or halt activity altogether because of some fear that we might make a complete mess of things. Since we were still new to things, it was a time to follow more closely the blueprint given to us. To align our thinking with our host and proceed accordingly. It brings to mind the Parable of the Talents. You can’t really bury talents and resources nor wait around indefintely to make sure that every step you make is cosigned. A little faith, trust and understanding gives you some guts to keep moving forward.
That explains the whole trip. We’re here, following through on the call in our hearts to come, hoping that our few days of work positively contributes to the hope, stability, joy and economies of a few people and that they are refreshed enough to keep pushing towards bigger goals for themselves and their community.
We went down to Port au Prince to see an incredibly lively and busy marketplace in the midst of a ton of rubble. The community is already active – working itself out one step at a time. I really enjoyed seeing more of Haiti and most of us on the team wondered what lies ahead in the its future. God willing, I’m already making a date to return ten years from now. I’d love to see how the seeds that are being planted today survive to thrive and grow. Along with the traditional sweat and tears we should add helpings of prayer, love and faith and see what comes of that mixture.
It’s Wednesday night, the end of hump day.. I looked down the row of four houses that we’ve built.. very inspired to do more. A family has already moved into the first house from Monday. It’s very cool to see that what we’re doing is useful.
Today we took more ownership of the process – our hosts are another set of inspiring missionaries, far from home in difficult settings going full throttle into each day. Praise the Lord for their effort, hospitality, focus, and a whole bunch of other great qualities and traits that cause them to bear great fruit in their communities. With our host running off to other errands our team and our local support again worked together to get the job done. We finished work on the house from yesterday and put up another house this afternoon.
Again today, everyone was friendly – more names were exchanged and I started to interview the locals who had noticed my flip camera and wondered what and why I was taping. The fun point of the day was a forced break (waiting on transportation) that led to song. We sang some of our Times Square Church favorites but then one of the Haitian brothers led us in a couple of songs in Creole! We got it on video so hopefully we can share and add that to the blog at some point.
Most of all, I have to give a big shout out to the rest of my team. It was hot and we had to step up and everyone did. We didn’t throw any tantrums (and it would have been totally understandable) but instead worked steadily through obstacles and challenges – starting pieces over when we had to in order to insure that the job was well done.
There are only two more days and I think (and pray that) we’ll finish strong. In fact, we all woke up with aches and pains but as I write this we are all sitting together hanging out… renewed, refreshed.
Okay yeah — maybe a little tired but you get the point…
I’m actually writing this at 4am on Day 5 because I passed out after dinner last night. j’ai été fatigué! We stopped short of adding the roof on the second of two houses built yesterday (meeting our challenge) before we decided to head home and call it a day. Our team is working well together with everyone pitching in where they can. Again its a fairly small team setting out to do a lot.
I missed the children in the morning, but they were back from school when our team returned from our lunch break. I noticed more conversation and more openness today between our two group while we worked. Hopefully that will continue. I hope we are able to build more than just houses, also wanting to build friendships and an understanding of each other’s head spaces.
Although there are some verbal language barriers, we are able to speak through our efforts. We all seem to walk away at the day’s end very happy at what we’ve accomplished.
More to come! Please pray for our health, strength, determination and overflow of love.
P.S. – due to some technical diffculties, we’re delayed in adding pictures which would tell more of the story here. Please check back for them, you’ll get a laugh..
7am? We started our communal day at 7am, not 730, not 845, nope… 7am… I’m just saying… I just had to share that…
Moving right along.. We had a great first day in the field together – the OnCall Medicine with a Missi0n team in their truck and my team riding along in ours. It was a rough ride because most of the roads in our area are broken and because I was riding on top of the truck (I bet you my dad is cringing as he reads this -like most sane people, he’s all about safety hats and such).
After a couple of miles on the road we arrived at the location ready to get to work. The first day can be challenging because nothing is familiar – again, we’re not construction workers, we’re just following instructions and letting God guide us through it all. We all just stayed together and pitched in every step of the way. But again, the young people (teenagers to toddlers) were very excited to see us and everyone of them that could offer some assistance – did! Some of them put me to shame with their nail and hammer skills. Seriously, I had to put my ego away and stay in the game as I struggled in front of everyone for a sec. Gotta laugh…
Anyway, with their help, their partnership in the process, we all were able to get the first house up by the end of the day. It really is an accomplishment in the heat and the surroundings but I credit everyone’s effort and cooperation in our success.
I think the challenge tomorrow, with a little experience under our belt, is to get two houses done before night fall… As tired as we were coming in at the end of the day, we went ahead and packed the truck with the supplies that we’ll need for tomorrow, so that we can get a jump on the day. THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!
Congrats Green Bay!
All day the team continued to explore and connect to the surroundings. I got in just after lunch time and I know I needed at least a second to adjust from the wintry cold in NYC to Haiti’s heat. But adapting to the strong heat here is nothing compared to fully soaking in the culture, community and some of the current conditions here. I had heard about the many leveled buildings and broken roads, so it was high on my mind to capture a sense of the people here in general (as it’s my first time here) and of course in the midst of the major recovery/ rebuilding necessary after the devastation caused by last year’s earthquakes.
Honestly, I was really happy to hear the children laughing. In the midst of many challenges to their rebuilding, there is still good humor and warm welcomes. There’s beauty and strength in it and it reminds me that we are to remain ourselves in all conditions. Their humanity puts my own into proper perspective.
I’m believing that all of our prayers for their peace and joy are being answered but it’s also great to be here to help physically rebuild. So in prep for our first work day tomorrow, our host spent some time this afternoon showing us the neighborhood. We even visited one of the houses put up by a previous team. It’s amazing how much of a difference the stability of a home makes to a family.
After dinner, we all cleared the tables and continued to prep for tomorrow. I don’t know for sure but I think we’re all really ready to get into the tasks at hand.
Funny enough, on my way here I kept thinking, wow, I’m probably going to miss the Superbowl. Now, I just want to see if we can give those children more things to smile and laugh about.
BrickThink has come to Haiti!
We arrived in the early part of the afternoon. At first, I think seeing green trees and grass was a bit of a shock… all we’ve seen in NY the last several weeks is mounds of snow. The harder shock was actually seeing all the debris and destruction that still remains a year after the earthquake. On our drive to the place we’re staying we saw homes that were completely crumbled to the ground and roadways that were so rough you had to hold on for “dear life”. We had great drivers (our hosts) and we made it safe.
Our last team member will arrive tomorrow for a total of 16. We have two purposes while we’re here. 8 of us will be building pre-fab homes for a week while the other 8 will help run a medical clinic to the poor and needy. We have our hammers and work gloves and an instruction manual…and of course plenty of supplies. We hope to build 2 houses a day.
Our official blogger arrives tomorrow…