The clutch still works but the transmission is slipping

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We have survived another day in Haiti! It been such a crazy day that I’m not sure we can share all our adventures.

This morning we had a surprise for breakfast. Our host wouldn’t tell us what we were eating until each of us tried it. Luckily it looked similar to oatmeal so we weren’t scared that there were strange meats involved. Once everyone had sampled, we were shocked to learn that it was blended spaghetti noodles! The taste was surprisingly amazing.

We headed down to the school and actually made it on time. After a super brief lesson, we headed out into the town of Cange to take photographs. We walked throughout the market where there were fresh fruits and vegetables as well as live chickens. The chickens were ready to be purchased and plucked for dinner. We wandered into Zanmi Lasante (which is the hospital sponsored by Partners in Health) which is a huge complex which features the hospital room and emergency room, a school, and a church. We wandered in the “gift shop” which featured art created by local artists. We found some really cool items to bring back to our family, friends, and our own homes.

We showed the children their pictures that they took the previous day using a donated laptop and a projector at the school. They were excited to see their photographs and were proud of their work. It made my heart happy to see their joy!

Everyone was having so much that we didn’t make it back to the school on time. We had the opportunity to really converse with the Haitian students we’re working with because they opened up to us when we were away from the school. I’m not sure if it was the environment change or the fact that they’re getting more comfortable with us but it’s nice to use more than hand gestures. Their pictures are improving greatly and some of the kids have made huge leaps and bounds in terms of their skills.

We came back and were served lunch again. We’re all afraid to not eat something of our own because they kitchen workers might take our words to heart and not cook for us. We’ve all tried to be really polite and not offend the Haitians by turning down food. Most of us have been eating two lunches every day.

After lunch, we enjoyed our siesta and prepared ourselves to work with the afternoon group.

As we walked down to the school, we commented on the clouds and how tricky they were. We have been expecting rain for days and it has never come. Today, the sky looked overcast again but we weren’t hopeful for rain. Right as we got ready to start the lesson, the sky opened up and rain began to fall. Thinking it was a short rain shower, three of us ran to experience the rain. One of the little boys joined us and we jumped and skipped, much to the delight of the children. Some of the other children who have not been a part of the program came to play in the rain. They taught us some really fun kids games that they play. One of the involved freezing when the song ended and not being the first to move.

It rained like I’ve only seen before during a hurricane. The rain came down in sheets sideways. It was so heavy at times that we couldn’t hear the photography lesson. Instead, we decided to sing. They started with ‘Jesus Loves Me’ which we taught the kids in English and Sign Language. Then we moved onto “How Great Thou Art.” We sang it in English and then the Haitians sang it in French. Finally, we sang it in our own languages simultaneously. It was one of the most powerful moments of the entire trip.

Some of us (Paul) took advantage of the rain to take their first shower of the trip. Others enjoyed the wonderful clean water to take what is arguably the best shower of the trip. It’s been raining off and on all night which we hope will continue to aid our sleep.

Now we’re all dancing in one of the bedrooms. They’ve already Dougied and Wobbled. Now they’re doing the Cupid Shuffle which is hilarious! The other room is learning to walk with bowls on their heads like many of the Haitian women.

If you must have pilgrim on your shirt, then you’re not one!

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Hey everyone! It’s been another amazing day in Cange, Haiti! We’re all alive and well if not a little worse for the wear.

It was quite funny, even though many of us have watches and other ways to tell time, nobody really knows what time it is. We’ve discusses whether or not Haiti is on Daylight Savings Time. The general consensus seems to be that while the country observes it, the school does not. We were an hour late to the school today! However, we think we’ve finally figured it out so that we’ll be on time tomorrow (well as on time as this group can be)!

This morning, some of us at cheesy toast and scrambled eggs. There was also fresh bananas and tomatoes! The tomatoes seem a little strange for breakfast but they taste so good and were covered with green peppers and onions.

Some of us have been under the weather with issues that tend to plague travelers and have missed some of the sessions with the kids. However, EVERYONE IS SAFE AND HEALTHY! Those who have been ill have taken the prescription drugs and have even made it to supper this evening! The issues are ones that are normal for the environment that we’re in and we are taken care of so please don’t worry!

This morning’s session was about framing a scene. They had white paper frames which the children could use to mimic what they would do with the actual cameras. They could zoom, change the perspective, and they could even offset their shot. Then we sent them out to take pictures. Some of the groups walked out towards the trees and some even climbed the BIG hill to take pictures. The kids have really started to get the idea of what we’re doing and have started to take more than shaky photographs of their friends. It’s amazing to make it work despite the language barrier.

During the lunch, it was a lot quieter today. Everyone was tired and laid down to take a nap. We put together our own lunches but then we were also served lunch at the house.  There were hot dogs and french fries.

I am amazed at the sky. During the day, the sky is the bluest I’ve ever seen. There’s so little pollution that it’s just blue. However, by midafternoon, the sky starts to cloud up. In North Carolina, when the dark gray clouds roll in, there is a storm brewing. Here, we haven’t seen rain yet. These clouds seem to just roll over and carry their grayness away.

Later in the day, we had our session with the younger kids. This time, we diluted the curriculum and gave them a lot more time to actually take pictures. Most of these groups didn’t stray as far from the school but they did some good work! Some of the kids took upwards of 80 images.

I had the pleasure of hanging out with the pastors this evening on the roof. It was great to spend some time with the future leaders of our denomination and to be able to pick their brains. Although our time definitely didn’t solve the problems of the world, it was nice to discuss. We shared funny stories about communion, weddings, etc within our home churches.

When we returned, there was a little free time. Most of us took the time to get cleaned up from the day and rinse the dirt off our legs. We didn’t have dinner until almost 9:00 this evening. The food has been interesting even though some of the dishes have been unidentifiable.

This evening, we gathered for quiet time with each other. The theme so far has been pilgrimmage and the pastors with this group have shared their own thoughts each evening. We’ve had a time to wind down from the day and to share some good moments from our experiences.

Now, as I type this, people are hanging out in the girls room giggling about the day. We’re still sharing stories and decompressing.

The funniest part of the day is that no one has any idea what time it is. We’re all befuddled because it seems that the country does observe Daylight Savings Time the school does not. We know when daylight comes and when it get dark; however our bodies seem to be deciding bedtime for us!

Until tomorrow, be safe! We’ll be updating again soon!

It’s a Beautiful Day in Haiti

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It’s been an amazing day! We started bright and early this morning so that we could attend the flag raising ceremony at the school. We listened as the kids sang their good morning songs and they sang the National Anthem. Some of the kids in the back were laughing at us. It made me feel like I was back in middle school with the “cool kids” pointing and laughing.

We hiked back up the hill and really got started with pasta for breakfast. Although it was a strange way to start the day, it was tasty and we ate almost all of it. We also had butter toast and some wonderful fresh fruit! If you’ve never had fresh fruit in a tropical nation, you have no idea what you’re missing!

After breakfast, we had a brief meeting to go over the plan for the day. As with many developing nations, time is a mere suggestion so flexibility is a must.

Our first group was a bunch of older kids. They were very willing to learn. Through the translator, we explained the parts of the camera and how to frame a shot. Once the youth got an idea of what they were doing and how to use the camera, we set them free on the school complex. The youngsters led us around as they examined their world from behind the lens.

The morning seemed to fly by and it was time to return to the house for lunch. It was a free for all for food and we shared everything from peanut butter to pretzels. It is the only meal of the day not provided by the house so we brought our own yummy foods!

After lunch we had a siesta which ended up with most of us setting in the girl bunk room being silly. We laughed about the most ridiculous things. I am constantly amazed at how well we get along with each other! I don’t know if it’s being outside of our comfort zones or that we just got really lucky.

Around 3:00, we headed back to the school for the afternoon session. We had the younger students this time and they actually knew less English so the communicating was a little bit more difficult.  They also seemed to have a harder time with the concepts from the interpreter. However, once we got outside, they seemed to enjoy taking photos as much as the older ones.

Pam said something to that resonated with me. She said that as of this moment, there are no Americans and there are no Haitians – we are all photographers. Some may be photography student and some may be photography teachers but that we were united.

This evening, there is no power (but there is Internet, go figure). We’re sitting together being silly by a single flashlight. Someone has their iTunes up on their laptop with approximately 9,000 songs. It looked like it was going to storm before the sun went down but I don’t think it’s started yet.

I had actually already finished the blog post but something crazy just happened so I felt the need to add it. We walked out in the dark to pray for our food. As one of our group members finished praying, just as she said amen, the lights came back on! We have power again!

We’re safe and sound! We’re having a great time! We love everyone! Until tomorrow, make sure you zip!

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Don’t Puke and Put it on the Seat

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Bonsoir or good evening! We’ve arrived safely in Haiti. Our flights were relatively boring which is always a good thing when you take to the air. Our flight arrived on time and we were immediately aware of the fact that we were in a different country. The baggage claim was mostly a huge warehouse and the bags were lying everywhere. Trying to find your bag was chaos, especially with all the Haitians who were trying to make some money by “helping” you.

Customs were basically non-existent; we handed our form to a man who really couldn’t be bothered to come out of his box if we passed him. Once we grabbed all our stuff and traveled through customs, we walked the red carpet to the vans. It was quite amusing to watch them watching us as we proceeded out.

The van ride made us feel like we were in Mission Impossible because of all the daring stunts attempted. Road signs and speed limits were only suggested. To say that we played chicken a couple times would be an understatement. The horn seemed more like a musical instrument; honking was a greeting, a warning, and a p.s. I’m here.

After a roller coaster ride to get to the house and several people almost getting sick, we arrived at this amazing concrete house. The air moves through it and the detailed gates are beautiful. You can see out across the valley; it’s one of my new favorite places.

We talked a little about our plans for tomorrow and tried to get some idea of what we’re actually going to be doing. Supper was served and now we’re all hanging out on the porch enjoying the evening. It’s interesting, our paths have crossed without us knowing and we know some of the same people but as a group we’ve met no more than two times (one of which was last night). We seem to be getting along really well. Everyone has made an effort to talk to everyone else. We’re talking and laughing as if we’ve known each other forever.

Now we’re going to play with the kids. The guys have a soccer ball out and the girls have nail polish. More updates tomorrow!

Please keep sharing our blog. We’ve reached 3 different countries so far and hope for more!

Here are some pictures we took today!

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12 March, 2012 08:25

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We’re sitting in the airport in Miami. The flight from Charlotte to Miami was uneventful even though the plane was TINY. Seriously the plane was three seats wide!

We’re getting ready to board the plane. Everyone is running around grabbing their stuff because they just called to board. I’m sitting here finishing this post so you’ll know where we are and that we’re safe.

This will be our last post on American soil! Wish us luck.

So Much To Do!

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We are less than 9 hours away from departing for Haiti. We have to meet at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport at 4:00 a.m. tomorrow. For those of you who aren’t major insomniacs, we’ll be up and on our way before most of you crawl out of your warm beds. We will fly from Charlotte to Miami and then plane hop for our flight into Port-au-Prince. From there, we’ll drive approximately 2 hours to Cange.

Part of our team was going to gather tonight to enjoy pizza and pack. I originally thought I’d be joining them; however, I started packing about 20 minutes before they were meeting. All of us have been busy trying to get our lives in order to leave and I know several who couldn’t attend tonight.

The adventure is almost ready to begin. We will be posting here every day while we’re gone to let our friends and family know we’re safe and to share what we’re doing. We will share our photographs, photographs the kids have taken, and an update of what we’re doing.

To all the worried mommas, please know that sometimes the Internet in Haiti can be sketchy and we may not ALWAYS be able to upload our posts. Updating this blog will be our first priority when it comes to Internet use. However, do not be worried if, for reasons outside of our control, the posts aren’t as timely as you would like!

Check in at 4:00 a.m. tomorrow (or whenever you finally wake up) for pictures from the airport!

What We’re Going to Do!

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As some people already know, we’re going to be teaching the children of Haiti the techniques of photography to use to better share how they view Haiti with the world.
Several members of our team have put together a plan as to what we’re going to do work on while we’re there.
Here is a brief overview:
Day 1.  Introduction to Photography, Camera Basics, and Camera
Camera Care

Day 2. Composition

Day3. Themes/Concepts – Thinking about your photo before you take it.
A Day in the Life of YOU.

Day 4. Themes/Concepts & Shooting Day

Themes to choose from:
Hope – Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

People – Genesis 1:27 So God created humankind in God’s image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Love – 1 John 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

Thanks – Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

Peace John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Creation/Nature – Psalm 24:1-2 The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for God has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.

Good Works – Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Share the blog with the world

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The little sidebar to the right tells me that we’re five days from take off. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m starting to make a pile of stuff to pack, charging up camera batteries, and trying to make sure everything is ready for my departure. Just now, I realized that I need to update my voicemail message so that people calling with questions with my volunteer work know who to contact while I’m away.

It is my hope that that people from across the state, the country, and (dare I say) the world check each day for an update as to what we’re doing while we’re gone. How does that happen? Share the blog. Email it. Text it. Post the link on your Facebook or personal blog! Put it in your church bulletin so your church family can follow us too!

A Little Brighter Today

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Yesterday’s post was a little bleak; today we’re going to share some “fun” facts about Haiti.

1. In 1807, gourds were the national currency of Haiti and all gourds were named property of the state. Today, Haitian currency is called “gourdes”

2. One of Haiti’s islands, Tortuga Island (Île de la Tortue in French), was a pirate stronghold in the seventeenth century.

3. Cow Island, which lies off Haiti’s southern coast, is named as such because it was once overrun by wild cows descended from animals abandoned by the Spanish.

4. The capital Port-Au-Prince was founded in 1749 and was named for the Prince, a French ship anchored in the bay.

5. Haiti was the first post-colonial independent black-led nation in the world.

6. Since 1804 Haiti has had four national flags.

7. The word barbecue comes from the Spanish translation of the native Haitian word barbacoa.

All We Don’t Know

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I still feel like I only know a little bit about Haiti. My normal process when traveling is to obsessively research and then to deliberate on every aspect of my trip. I’m a planner. However, on this trip, I really haven’t had that option. I’m along for the ride … and it’s only stressed me out a little!

When you do a broad Google search for Haiti, your search results are mostly current news articles about the reconstruction of the country and about the problems that still exist there from the earthquake that happened in 2010 as well as data fact sheets posted by various agencies. Even when you search something specific like “travel to Haiti,” you only get posted warnings from various state governments and broad information from a few of the larger travel organizations (Lonely Planet, etc).

Here are seven of the most startling facts compiled from a list created by Random Facts.

1. More than 10% of Haitian children die before age five.

2. Eighty percent of Haitians live under the poverty. The average per capita income in Haiti is $480 a year, compared to $33,550 in the United States.

3. Only 53% of Haitians can read and write.

4. Only about 10% of all Haitian children enrolled in elementary school go on to a high school.

5. Families who live in the country spend almost 60% of their income on food.

6. One in 50 people are infected with HIV/AIDS.

7. More than 200,000 Haitians died and millions were left homeless in a devastating earthquake in January 2010.