Our Dwelling Place!

Well as most of you know, we left for Haiti about 3 weeks ago now. It feels so good to be here and be getting back into the swing of things. It was really hard to leave our friends and family this time, but as soon as we landed in Haiti we were reminded that we are in the right place and God has a plan for us here.

The first week we were back was filled with moving into our new place and getting ready for a wedding of our two good friends: Chris and Grace (which was beautiful).

Last time we were here we had a lot of requests to do a blog with pictures of where we live, but we never got around to it. So we thought we would take the time to show you via pictures where and how we live. Just a little bit of background, we live with 3 of our really good friends here: Grace, Chris and Rusty. We have 4 bedrooms 2 bathrooms and a beautiful kitchen. We are loving living where we do and feel so blessed to have this home to share.

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

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This is what our house looks like from the road. We have a giant gate because the first floor of our house is actually a warehouse for a bottling factory down the road.

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We have a nice little porch in the front we can sit on and feel the rare cool breezes that come our way!

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This is the walkway we follow along the side of the house that leads to stairs up to our main entrance.

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This is the sturdy ladder that Phil built so we can get up onto the roof of our house.

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View from the rooftop

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Another view from the rooftop

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This is the larger of our two bathrooms… don’t you love the blue toilet and sink? And our amazing shower curtain of course…

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When you come to visit us this is the room you will stay in.. our “guest room”

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One half of mine and Phil’s bedroom

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Our bed with our awesome mosquito net.. best 30 bucks ever spent!

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Our stove and our “refrigerator” for now.. until we get our power situation figured out

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Our beautiful kitchen with lots of counter and cupboard space!

Exit Behaviour

Our time back in Canada is almost up!  It has truly been a blur-  a relaxing, exciting, adventurous blur full of family, friends, nature, (and work of course!)
I suppose its only fair to keep you updated on what we did while we were back (and to subtly show our American friends how awesome and beautiful Canada is)

We went fishing at Angela’s parents farm-

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We found a private campsite on a peaceful river in Algonquin Park – Just the two of us!
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Somebody had been craving sushi for three months- So we ate lots of it…too much maybe…
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We had a new appreciation for nature and all things green-  So we took time to enjoy it
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And took time to admire our surroundings – even while we were at work

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We went to celebrations with family and made the most of every minute we had with them

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We went “Roughing it” camping with our friends!

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Waking up extra early to experience the sunrise

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And after that trip, we went camping again  (legit “roughing it”)

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And ate gourmet foods, while enjoying the million dollar view

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We encountered ancient creatures from another world

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And wore our battle scars with pride

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Overall – This has been one amazing summer, and the idea of going back to Haiti in a few days is even harder to wrap our heads around.  We look forward to seeing our friends that we left in May, but it doesn’t make leaving our group in Canada any easier!
Thanks to everyone who has encouraged us in so many different ways, everything from invites over for coffee to talk about what God is doing in Haiti, emails and letters of encouragement, phone calls, and financial help so we can continue to do this thing we call “Life” where we believe Jesus is asking us to do it.

Phil & Angela

Taking a step back

Well, it’s no secret- We have left the country and are nestled back in our home in Canada.  The three months in Haiti went much quicker than we thought, but on the other hand, it was nice to have a start and finish date for our trip.  Allowing yourself a time frame gives you the opportunity make decisions objectively, rather than making them based on emotion or “in the moment”

We learned so much while we were in Haiti.  We were shown the beauty and the importance of community and amazing and simple ways that “living in community” is played out on a day to day basis.  We became aware of the importance in knowing the history of the country and understanding the strengths and struggles of the people you intend to work beside.  We learned basic Creole and the effectiveness of using hand gestures and sound effects.  We learned how to listen more, speak less, to be honest when you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to look like a goof, and let your strengths and weaknesses be a building block for your relationships.

The most amazing thing that we were reminded of is how powerful and faithful God is when His people call out to Him.

Although saying goodbye to our new close knit family was very difficult, we are encouraged that this isn’t that last time we will see them.  Through much prayer, working through doubts, discomforts, and objectively analyzing our gifts, strengths, weaknesses, and the needs of the people we hope to serve- We believe that Jubilee is where God wants us at this time of our lives.  So we will be moving back to Haiti at the end of August until God asks us to leave.

When we return our focus and efforts will be similar to the aspirations we had when we went originally with a few added programs.

Assisting the medical clinic and medical training programs, and helping with “after hours” medical related problems.

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Continuing to improve and update plumbing in the community and continue with a skilled trades training program.

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One of the new and exciting ventures is helping with the (future) prayer garden.  We will be installing and irrigation system, introducing salt and drought resistant plants, amending the soil, and planting shallow root species to prevent soil erosion- with the hopes of restoring natural beauty to the area and providing a quiet place of worship and prayer.

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The decision to return to Haiti is not something that we are taking lightly and we know that the list of unknowns is long and there will be hardships ahead.  But everything else aside, we couldn’t be more excited for this new direction in our lives and we ask that you keep  us in your thoughts and prayers!

Phil & Ang

Bridges-

An important factor of living here (for me) is making a decision daily to not become so consumed with tasks that I become oblivious to needs or suffering around me.  It is easy to take on so many different projects that you can miss simple things that make a big difference in someones life.  This past week I finished up some plumbing loose ends at the school and instead of tackling more plumbing woes I decided to be more intentional with friends and the relationships I have with the kids in Jubilee.  You should see the look on the kids face when you follow up the question “where do you live?” with “Take me there!”  My creole is still rusty but the expressions on their face are unmistakable- “What!?  You want to go to my house and see where I live!?”

Rumour on the street was that one of the teenagers (Wiesgeur) in Jubilee who is a friend of ours had broken his leg in two spots earlier in the week.  I went over to visit with him- shamefully it took him having to break his leg for me to hang out with him in his home.  After a short visit I was quickly reminded how different it is to break your leg while living in a place like Jubilee than in a place like our home town in Canada.  Wiesgeur doesn’t have a nice comfortable couch to rest on and an Xbox 360 to play while he takes medications every four hours to ease the pain.  He wasn’t given crutches when he left the hospital or they were unaffordable if they were for sale.  He didn’t have friends that could bring him his homework everyday in a neat envelope with a nice note from his teacher followed with a smiley face.

He was just laying in the doorway of his home on the floor wearing a cast from his toes to his hip, watching the kids play in the street day in and day out unable to join in.  It sucks breaking your leg here.  We talked about a few things while I was there-  He didn’t talk about how much his leg hurt, how bored he was, or that he wished he could play with his friends.  He mentioned that he had missed many classes this week and wouldn’t be able to go to school on Monday morning because he didn’t have crutches.  He talked about his hopes for crutches, but he didn’t know where he could get them, and then he worried about not being able to cross the small bridge that spans over a 9 foot canal, connecting his house to the rest of the world.  These are not things that a child should be worrying about, but it’s Haiti, and it sucks breaking your leg in a place like this.

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By having an open schedule I found myself in an immediate position to offer some assistance.  I assured him that he would not only have crutches, but he would be able to cross the canal by monday morning so he could go to school.

After a couple hours of labour between Rusty and I yesterday, we created the mother of all bridges made with true Haitian 2×4’s and Haitian Mango hard wood used for the planks.  We were also able to modify adult crutches found in our pharmacy to accommodate our shorter friend and we were able to install the bridge today.  The scariest part of the installation was carrying the new bridge (which weighed over 150 LBS) across the old bridge.  Fortunately the old bridge held on for a few last seconds while Rusty crossed safely.

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Phil

Zanmi Mwen

For the past month a handyman course was being held in Jubilee and taught by an american man (Jeff Rankin)  Thirteen hopeful young men and women attended the course and their ages ranged anywhere from 15 years old to mid/late 20’s.  The course was free to attend and those who graduated at the top of the class had a chance to apply for a full time maintenance position at the school in Jubilee.  After a few weeks of “natural selection” the class was downsized to a manageable capacity, as those who were only willing to sit comfortably off to the side while others were taking apart toilets and receptacles were politely asked to not return.  The class was running very smoothly until the last week when Jeff came down with several concerning medical symptoms.  I was asked to teach/oversee the last few days of the course which didn’t seem too daunting of a task- until I showed up and realized that the translator decided he was going to take the rest of the week off.  Much of the remainder of the course consisted of me pointing to things, scratching my head, and watching the students scratch their head at my choppy creole.  It was during that week that one student in particular impressed me the most.  She was a Jubilee girl, born and raised.  She was stronger, smarter, and tougher than all of the men in the class and proud of it.  I would often watch as she was slowly pushed to the back of the group of students when there was a hands on project like putting a sink together or repairing a toilet.  She would stand patiently and watch the macho men speed through the task and they would argue amongst each other about pieces being upside down, in the wrong order, or missing a step completely.  When it came to a point when none of the men could figure out what step was missed or what was installed backwards and upside down, the girl from Jubilee would quietly push her way to the front of the group and calmly, but assertively, take over and restore order to the chaos effortlessly with a small smirk on her face.  Needless to say- I was impressed.

The course came to an end and I dug deep in my brain to muster enough creole to say “thank you for helping us, See you later”  The class reciprocated gratitude and walked off.  I pulled the girl from Jubilee aside and told her she was a good worker and asked her if she would like to help me the following week with projects around the school.  I could visibly see her excitement as I acknowledged her good ethic and she was even more excited to have an opportunity to continue to learn.

By this time you’re probably thinking- “annnnnnd does this “girl from Jubilee” have a name?!?”

Everyone- Meet my friend Marie

MarieMarie has been helping me for the past two weeks around the school in Jubilee.  After her first day we talked about how much money she would like to make per day, she was so grateful to be learning more about plumbing that she asked not to be paid- to her the education was more important than any amount of money.  We insisted on paying her anyway.  Everyday Marie meets me at the school.  She shows up 10 minutes before she is supposed to and she always arrives with a smile despite the anger and jealousy she receives  from the other men in the class that didn’t measure up to the bar that she raised.  And the judgement she gets from the other men and women in the community that have fallen into the trap of gender disparity- people who strongly believe that women are designed to be submissive, fetch water, and have babies.  She remains confident and loyal despite remarks by countless naive children who ask “is that a boy or a girl?” because she chooses to wear pants instead of a skirt while doing a job that women aren’t suppose to be doing.

It is a powerful thing to see such determination.

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A picture worth 1000 words. Katie (a teacher at the school) using Marie as an example to the children that women can do anything that they want to do.

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Elevated over the village of Jubilee

Elevated over the village of Jubilee

Phil

 

 

Whoops..

What do you get when you combine a new sink installation, the cheapest and most ineffective silicone on earth, very strict instructions not to touch the newly installed sink, and a constant bombard of children and teachers who keep touching the sink?  …..This

Par for the course

 

A good friend of mine in Haiti once said to me “there are nine failures for every one success here.”  Call me an optimist- but I’m hoping for a 50/50 success rate on this one.