Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Don't mean to jinx it--- BUT...

I am feeling remarkably better today. I wouldn't say 100%, but after not eating for the past week and a half, I think that's out of the question to hope for. I ate some cornflakes and a banana for breakfast, and tiny bit of pasta for lunch (didn't want to push it), AND then a 7up AND then some more pasta a bit later in the afternoon.

I am so thankful for your prayers. Persist in them! Our Father is listening and answering...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Still sick--

Hey friends--

Again, my deepest apologies for the silence. Apparently I was not on the upswing after all. I am still sick, which is no fun in 100 degree weather. I actually spent the night last night at a local hotel so I could get some AC. (Thanks Nixon and Sandra for keeping the kiddos!)

Not to worry though, I am in contact with US (and Haitian) doctors who have covered the bases with meds and think I just have a nasty virus. I just need to let my body adjust to all the different germs and virus's that I am not accustomed to.

So, sick or not, I am going to work with Nick and Naomi tomorrow on unpacking a bit. I am hoping that rouses my spirits a bit.

Please pray for me to feel better soon. I am on day 11, and just plumb exhausted.

In other news, I have now lost somewhere between 20-25lbs, so I might actually keep a New Year's resolution to lose weight after all! (PS-- it's not worth it.)

I also ask that you keep my sister Melody and her family in your prayers-- more on that another time...

("the sickie") Gwenn

Saturday, June 27, 2009

my 'hood

all less than a five minute walk...

And.... we're back.

Hello friends.

Miss me?

I missed you. I am finally on the upswing of this sickness thing and I am writing from my breezy and not-too-hot kitchen here in Jacmel. It's open to the outside with just bars as "walls" ON half of it (see pic, because it's hard to explain),

so it gets a good breeze, the bedrooms in the house-- not so much. I am finding that Haiti isn't actually as hot as I thought it was not that my fever is gone. Don't get me wrong... it's not like I am COLD... well, actually one night I had the chills so bad that I had to wrap up in blankets.

So what did I have?
That's an EXCELLENT question. According to the Haitian doctor I went to, I had malaria and some sort of gut infection. According to an American doctor who read the results, she said he didn't even test for malaria, and said he was probably just assuming I had it. So I finished the malaria meds today and am on Cipro and it seems that I am in the short rows now. I don't feel 100% yet, but after feeling anywhere from about 1%-16% for the past week, I am going to take my current percentage of somewhere in the high 80s%.

One of the big bummers about being sick when you're moving is that, well, one week later things still look like this:

And it's funny because Nahomi has no patience for it. Today when I was out of bed for the first time really moving around the first thing she said was, "Mesi Jezi, Mama Gwenn leve!" (Thank you Jesus, Gwenn is up!) Then she asked me if I was ready to inventory the supplies for the orphanage. (sheets, toothbrushes, etc..) I told her no.

I have no idea where my camera is in all this mess, but I am sure I will find it soon and have some life-altering pics for you.

The upside of being sicker than I've ever been-- I'm down 15lbs. Yikes. It wasn't worth it. I am going to have to re-think my idea of bottling giardia as a weight-loss product as an orphanage fundraiser.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Been sick.

Sorry for the silence. I have been really sick. I *think* I am better today, just not 100% sure. :)

Please pray we could get some good unpacking done soon-- with me getting during/right after the move, things are chaos here. Chaos I tell you.

I wish that either my mom or my friend Kris Stoner were here. Both of them would know what to do next...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Update-- June 18, 2009

Hello family and friends,

I am writing to you tonight from stormy Port Au Prince. I think the rainy season is here to stay in Haiti. It’s been raining every afternoon, storming actually. This is a blessing for many here in Haiti as they rely on collected rainwater to survive. It is a difficulty for many here in Haiti because it is greatly deforested. Even a little bit of rain sometimes produces great flooding and landslides. This leads to problems and makes roads at times nearly impossible, if not impossible, to pass.

This is our last night in Port Au Prince. Tomorrow we finish language school and move back to Jacmel. I am excited about this move for many reasons.

First, I am excited because it means we’re finished with language school! Mesi Jezi! (Thank you Jesus.) Language school has been a good experience for us, and we have learned a lot. We are both able to speak and understand Kreyol with some proficiency, but we both still need a lot of practice. Language school (and trying to live in a country where very few people speak English) has been exhausting. We’ve been in classes for 3.5 hours per day 5 days a week. Add an hour or two of homework everyday, and we practically had a full-time job just with language school. But, as life goes, ESPECIALLY in Haiti, language school became one of the MANY, MANY things that have been occupying our days.

Second, we’re excited to return to Jacmel to get settled into a home where we will stay (and NOT move out of) for the next 6 months. Since the last update, we were able to find a small home in downtown Jacmel that serves our purposes well. It is small, (2 small bedrooms, 1 bathroom), but it has a small, efficiency-type house in the compound where Naomi will be living, and where we will have access to a lot of storage. One of the unique things about this house is that we have an actual YARD, which is unheard of a city in Haiti—particularly in a downtown area. From our patio in the yard, we can just see the waterfront Port in old Jacmel. It’s very beautiful. We are happy, and very glad to be moving into one place semi-permanently. We will be looking for a larger home to rent starting in December when we will begin accepting children.

Third, we are excited to get back to Jacmel as we’ve been feeling a bit disconnected from our team. Although we have made some new friends in Port Au Prince and many of our team members have come visited us in Port Au Prince, it’s not the same as having them as our neighbors. And at this time especially, we’re feeling like we need to be pouring ourselves into community. We’re starting to feel a little homesick and honestly, a bit overwhelmed at the pace of life here in Haiti.

Let me explain that last statement a little more, because it’s not something I FULLY appreciated until living here. It’s hard to say this without sounding like I am complaining, but please know I am not. Life is just more difficult in Haiti. Everything, even simple things, aren’t simple in Haiti. For example, we need to remember to go get diesel and drinking water every day or so. If we forget and it gets too late—we’re just out of luck. No drinking water or fuel for the generator (we haven’t had reliable city power here in Port lately.) That’s not a huge job, but it takes probably (start to finish) a good 35 minutes. Because of the lack of reliable power for refrigeration, we have to shop for very little (perishable) foods at once. That takes time, and I am still at the point with language where I need Naomi with me to go to the market. That takes at least an hour and a half to accomplish several days a week.

Last week, tired of spending countless hours hand washing our clothes, we hired someone to come wash our laundry for us. Now, that seems like it made our lives easier. And in many ways it did. But then we didn’t have any water at our house. So we had to tote her (and all our laundry) over to team housing so she could have access to water. When she was done (literally, 10 hours later), we had to go pick her up (along with all our wet laundry) and bring it home to hang on our lines. The clothes took a day and a half to dry. It’s these kind of things that we’re adjusting too. Life is much more MANUAL here. We’re having to learn how to make do. For instance, the other day we really needed a plug to be able to plug in our generator in Jacmel and the hardware store was closed for the day. So we had a choice to make. Do we wait until tomorrow (and have no fans) or do we try to work something out? Nick chose to “work it out” and ended up using a printer cord, which he cut and spliced to the generator to make it work.

Finally, we’re really glad to be returning to Jacmel, because that is HOME for us. That is where we will be working together with our team to build Haitian families, and give life and hope. We’re excited about moving closer to the time when our family will expand. We’re looking forward to the time when we will be able to parent motherless and fatherless children. We’ve already had a few people express interest in placing children with us. (Which, incidentally, will not happen until December.)

We have had several answered prayers over the past few weeks:
• We were able to secure (and move into) a home in Jacmel that is within our budget.
• There was a team last week and this week that helped get our home cleaned up and repaired (as it is an older home.)
• We’ve (almost!) finished language school. God has given us grace as we’ve started to be able to understand and use the language.
• Our hearts have bonded with our helper (and future HCH Mangine head nanny) Naomi. We’ve had a few small miscommunication due to language, but for the most part, she understands us and we understand her. She has been very helpful in encouraging our kids to speak Creole. It’s getting nearly as likely that a Creole sentence will pop out of Nia’s mouth as it is likely that an English sentence will!
• God has provided safety and happiness for our family during our stay in Port Au Prince. Even in the midst of a few political scuffles in the city here and there (as tend to happen) we’ve personally witnessed NO violence or danger. God is our protector.
• Woody is home in Jacmel, and is doing very well. He’s able to walk short distances by himself with krutches.

We also have several requests as we move ahead with this next chapter in Jacmel!:
• Please pray for a safe and quick move tomorrow, with good weather and no problems or danger. (And no carsickness!)
• Please pray for our final transition. Our souls are weary from all the moving. Please pray that we’d allow our hearts to open to our new home and neighbors.
• Please pray that we’d continue to learn Kreyol quickly and come to understand the culture here increasingly everyday!
• Please pray for the Pye family.
o Yesterday they marked the one-year anniversary of the death of their precious son, Jabez
Please pray that God is near to their hearts as they are processing this difficult milestone.
o Danny will leave Haiti tomorrow for 5 weeks in the US to represent HCH at the “Summer in
the Son” conference. Leann will have the opportunity to join him for two weeks in the
middle of his trip.
• This length of time out of the country leaves some gaps in the ministry. Please pray for
our family as we try to stand in the gap, with Nick serving as Interim Leader.

Thank you for your prayers and support. We are going to do a more thorough financial accounting for you in July to let you know where we are financially. But just as a preview, know that things are going well for the most part. We’re currently receiving about 80% of our budgeted expenses in donations each month. That is a very good number, but we know for longevity, we need that to be closer to 100%. Please pray that God would provide that need, and I humbly ask you to consider joining with us in this way. For more info, email me at gwenn@haitianchildrenshome.org.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

With grateful hearts,
The Mangine Five
Nick, Gwenn, Nia, Nico + Josiah
Our new house

Our yard in Jacmel!

Nick, maneuvering through the chaos that is Delmas.

Beautiful Naomi with our kiddies!

The living room of the new Jacmel house.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Please remember.

Please remember to include the Pye family (and the HCH family at large)in your prayers as tomorrow we pass the "one year mark" since Jabez passed away.

I will never forget the moment I got the call he was very sick and might not make it.
And then the call just moments later that he had died. Never. My heart sinks and my eyes weep even now as I remember.

Please pray that the presence of God is near to Danny and Leann... especially tomorrow.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Me: Remember that time

that Josiah stood up in the back of the grocery cart in Megamart (Haitian Sam's Club) and reached for a bottle of whiskey and knocked it over and then fell out of the cart on his HEAD into the broken glass and whiskey? And remember the time it caused a big scene in Megamart and there were like 35 Haitians all wanting in on knowing what was going on while I was trying to get Josiah to stop crying?

You: I think I remember that. When WAS that again?

Me: Hmmmm.... let me try to remember. Oh yeah, that was today.

(PS- He's fine-- was just mostly scared. And he scored a new nickname... "Tafayete" (most likely spelled incorrectly)-- which means alcoholic.)

The view from our backyard...

if you look close in some, you can see the ocean. OH YEAH! Literally woke up to the sound of the ocean the other day. Which wasn't great, because it meant we didn't have a fan whirring...

New house teaser pic!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

quick update!

Two great things:

  • 1. Ken's surgery went well. Very well. He's home resting comfortably!
  • 2. We have a house in Jacmel. As in I am presently sitting in it. No, it's not the same one you all saw. It's great in all sorts of different ways. I will doing an extensive post later on in the week when I don't have such a headache... (Thanks to the team from Boulder, CO for cleaning yesterday!)
Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Prayer request--

Today Nick's father, Ken, is going in for a scheduled surgery. Please pray that the surgery is successful and easy. Please pray that he doesn't have pain. Please pray for Bev (Nick's mom) as she tries to help him recover.

Also, and I hope this doesn't sound selfish, because I know that not everything is about us, but please pray for our whole family today as we're far apart during a time we feel like being close together.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Correction: Nahomi, not Naomi

Nahomi is spelled N A H O M I.

It now makes sense to me why it's pronounced "Na- ho - mee."

And here's the funny thing-- her full name is Caleb Nahomi. Her parents really wanted a boy so they named her Caleb even though she was a girl. Her sister is named Dominick. :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A link to Nia's thoughts

on the market.

And some of her pics.

I might have scarred her for life (and me) in the meat section.

Wow. Just, wow.


Monday, June 8, 2009

So, you know, I am a writer... no big deal or anything. :)

One of the things that we have to do a lot of in language school is translate Haitian fairytales. It's apparently a book that many kindergartners in Haiti read. And our teacher likes it because it has a lot of Haitian idioms that people here often use. It's funny because some of the stories are a tad objectionable and contain phrases like, "move kou kong" which means "mad as h.e.l.l." (I spelled it so I didn't have to swear. Cause that's more appropriate right?)

So one of our assignments over the weekend was to write down a children's story that is common in the US. I am going to include what I wrote... Can anyone guess what story it is?

First one to guess correctly is the winner. But you don't win anything. Because I am in Haiti and I don't know how I'd ship it to you. But if you want to come to Haiti I can make you a KILLER pitcher of sitwon as a prize.

Here's the story:
Lapan Pèdi, Tòti Genyen

Vwala, se te yon lapan. Li renmen fè wè anpil. Li di, “M kab kouri vit, vit, vit! Okenn bèt pa kab de pase mwen! M vle fè kous ak tout bèt. Kimoun ki vle fè kous avek mwen?”

Ti tòti a mache dousman epi li di, “Mwen vle fè kous ak ou.”

Lapan an ri, ri, ri! “Ou sòt! Ou pa kapab pase mwen!”

Ti tòti di, “Oke. Sa Bon. Men ou pa tè dwe fè wè avan ou genyen.”

Donk lapan an ak ti tòti a fè kous la. Touswit, lapa an kouri vit. Li preske fini kous la. Li te vle fè wè, donk li fè yon kabicha. Ti tòti mache dousman, mache dousman, mache dousman…

Lè lapan an te leve, li gade ti tòti prèt pou fini kous la! Lapan an kouri vit, men li pa kapab fini avan ti tòti.

Ti tòti a di, “Mache dousman lontan genyen kous la!” ☺


Dude, mwen kapab pale Kreyol!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Food Network-- GWENN (who learned from Naomi) style-- cherry limeade

We have a cherry tree in our yard here in Port. It's not the kind of cherries you get in the US. I don't know how to describe them... they are smaller and not quite as deep of a red color as the ones in the US. Plus they don't have a super hard pit, they have more of a spongy kind of pit.

Naomi makes KILLER juices. She's REALLY good at it. The first week here she taught me how she makes sitwon (limeade) and this week she's been making cherry limeade often for me. It's. SO. GOOD. So we've been picking cherries everyday. About a bowl-full and 10 small limes makes a pitcher of juice. (Plus sugar, water and ice of course.)

Here's me making it:
First, you pick cherries and pull all the stems off the little cherries.

Then, you take a break to fan yourself because it's REALLY stinkin' hot here and we don't have power during the day.

Then you wash the cherries and put them in a mesh screeny thing and pound the heck out of them with whatever you happen to have nearby. I used a cup. Pound away for a little bit, then rinse the juice off the pits (through the screen) and "jete" (throw away) the pits. Repeat until all your cherries are juiced.

Next, wash the limes and cut them in half. USING THE CITRUS JUICER, Squeeze them through the screeny thing.

Add your juice to a pitcher with ice, sugar and enough water to fill it and then stir for a long time, because Haitian sugar crystals are bigger than the sugar you buy in the US and it takes FOREVER to dissolve. You could, theoretically, make some simple syrup, but if you don't have power or more than a handful of ice, you'd have a hard time cooling the drink in time for dinner since the generator doesn't get turned on until 6:30PM.

Finally, serve your juice and let not one, but TWO of your children spill the work of your hands all over the table within the first 3 minutes of dinner.

So that's how you make cherry limeade. Or, if you live in the US, you could just swing by Sonic. They have the good ice. *sigh* I miss Sonic...

The Food Network Naomi Style-- Chicken feet

So we were at Delimart today and we were looking at the meat. Naomi spotted some chicken feet and asked me if I liked them. I told her no. (I have ACTUALLY HAD chicken feet believe it or not!) She told me she loves them. I told her I would get some for her if she wanted. She wanted. Tonight she cooked them up for dinner. (Full disclosure, we also had hamburgers... so we weren't relying on the chicken feet to nourish us...)

I am going to be honest. I ate two really small bites and I could only swallow one of them. They were all mostly this rubbery, bumpy skin.

Of course my Haitian son gobbled them up... the rest of us decided we'll probably steer clear of "pye poul" in the future.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Wahoo Bay

On the road to Wahoo Bay...

Took the kids for a field trip today... these pics were all along the way.

The Yaweh Depot-- cause who couldn't use a little more God in their life?

Sweet potatoes for sale...




Nick's a good Haiti driver. Plus he's cute.

The really creepy part where there were no people.




This was weird. There was some sort of run going on for Food for the Poor. They had TONS of police escorting them. What's WITH people running in Haiti? Weirdos. :)

Bike shop.

Art for sale.

I can't be certain but I am pretty sure that "Le Chateau Adam & Eve Hotel" (located on Adam and Eve Road) is the kind of place that rents their climate controlled rooms by the hour...