Thursday, June 23, 2011

Is this real life?

Despite my previous post and me having the faith smaller than a teaspoon, I am on the road to Haiti. Thanks be to God!

Many of you know about my most recent trip to Haiti. For those who don't, please read these here four posts but also know that I was traveling primarily to learn about the organization (MTI) that I might be spending 10 months working with. The Lord taught me a great number of things in those short two weeks I was there. I faced some gigantic decisions that seemed insurmountable. But here I am, ME...planning to move to Haiti in August.

Had anyone asked me any number of years ago if I would be a missionary, I most certainly would have laughed in their face. I'm the queen of comfortable. I love air conditioning, hot showers, ice cream, and pillow-top mattresses. Oh and a bug-free home! And yet here I am, willing to happy to give these things up for this calling. A true testament of how God loves to break us from ourselves!

This next year will certainly bring great struggles and pains but I have no doubt that it will come with great joy and love. I will be living in Les Cayes, Haiti (on the southern peninsula) and working in the hospital at Cite Lumiere. In the back of the first floor is the PT/rehabilitation clinic in which I will work most often. Upstairs and in the front is the inpatient hospital, where I will see burn patients and do wound care, along with hopefully seeing/helping with a myriad of other things.

I will be working with teams from America but I will be, more excitedly, working with Haitian clinicians as well. I hope to spread the message of joy and hope to those that don't know it or don't understand it. I pray for God to be working and doing big things in Haiti. And I desire to be just a small part of that!

There still are many details to be hammered out. And the huge support raising task still looms in my future. But there it is folks. Haiti awaits. Is this real life?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Call me Jonah

Today, my name is Jonah.

God is telling me to go somewhere.
Literally, go to Haiti. It's not easy, it's not care-free, it's full of work, and pain, and hard lessons.

And I keep running.
I want to go somewhere that's easy and care-free. I don't want to face all of the people telling me I can't do it. I don't want to face my own fears and insecurities that are telling me I can't do it.

I need friends to throw me overboard. I need to be shaken out of my bubble.

Today, just as the sailors threw Jonah into the sea to face God and once again put his faith in Him, my friend is making me stop running. Making me stop and look up.

I have a confession. I'm scared. I worry. I melt into a puddle of tears so easily. I've strayed from the Word. My prayer life sucks. And I'm learning the hard way just how bad I am when I try to go it alone.

I sometimes almost always think I can take care of myself. I can plan my own life. I can do it without help. And it's times like these, when the big scary move-to-a-3rd-world-country things hit that I realize that I'm drowning without Him. I can run as hard and as fast as I can but I won't get anywhere.

So I stop and am dumped overboard in faith that I'll land in God's grace, even when I deserve to sink to the bottom. Just please God, let's avoid the big fish part - I don't even like seafood!

Off to Nineveh Haiti I go!
~ Jonah KEZ

Friday, June 17, 2011

Back to it?

So I've ended up with a decent amount of "spare time" on my hands lately - working nights and having friends who are busy during the daytime. With all of this time I've been doing a whole lot of NOT cleaning my room, which is still a disaster area and half-unpacked from Haiti. TV doesn't capture my attention for very long and Facebook can only be refreshed so many times before I go crazy.

So I'm officially un-officially blowing the dust off of my blog and getting back to it. I recently stumbled upon and was inspired by Taryn at A Peine For Your Thoughts. I just wish I were even a smidgen as funny as she is. Guys, I just am boring! Inspired yet boring - what a conundrum!

So what's a young, not a wife, not a mom, not a anything (yet) girl to write about? I can only write about my cat so many times before people start calling me the old cat lady of the future...though the title might be deserved! ;) I can't update you on future Haiti plans, quite yet, though I promise that I will update you as soon as I can! My photography skills still suck and I'm sure you don't want to look at pictures of inanimate objects while I figure out all of the newfangled buttons and knobs, anyway. Hmmm...

Hope I come up with something, soon! But in the mean time, here's a penny for your thoughts! Ha!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Something to look at

So I graduated recently, right? And apparently people give you gifts for graduating college - who knew? So my wonderful parents kept asking me what I wanted as a graduation present. I really had no clue. I'm bad about asking for things - if I like or want something I usually wait until it's on sale and buy it for myself...or I feel guilty asking for it and just live without it. I batted around a few small ideas and we landed on an SLR camera. I've wanted a new camera for a while - I got my one and only digital point and shoot camera 8 years ago. But SLR cameras are pricey and I felt bad. But after lots of hunting on Ebay and Craigslist, my daddy found the right deal and bought my camera!

So I'm learning about the features and practicing different effects on my family and pets. I'm even guilty of wandering through Mck's blog for tips and ideas. Sigh.

But I wanted to share a few of my pictures...the ones that turned out a bit on the better side of bad. ;)

Puppy on the patio

Momma laughing

Sly kitty

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Haiti Part 4 (Final Installment)

Well, folks, this is the last installment for now. My Haiti journey is far from over but these last few stories wrap this trip up.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday brought us back to the clinic. I found my niche as "keeper of the charts" and maintained organization - more like organized chaos. I helped with the patients, to the capacity that I could, and spent the time in between, chatting. Our translators:



Our translators, Bertho, Rony, and Joe were awesome. They were a wealth of knowledge and I loved chatting with them and learning about their lives, their goals and aspirations, their faith, and of course about their culture. It felt like we spent a lot of time comparing and contrasting Haiti and America. We talked about churches, solid doctrine and about voodoo. We talked about marriage and wedding ceremonies. We talked about styles of dress. It was really interesting to unravel more and more information from the story that makes up Haiti. They were all excited to learn of my prospect of coming back. And I'm excited to call them friends! They really are zanmi mwen (my friends)!

When it was slow in the afternoons (we had 2 regular afternoon patients - that's it!) we had some time to goof around and have fun. We taught each other some idioms. They got a kick out of "having a ball". We all tried to rub our bellies and pat our heads. And I taught them the cup game. And much to my mother's chagrin, Rony even showed me what it's like to ride a moto (motorcycles are taxi's in Haiti) in Haiti - very scary and very fun. I'm fairly certain I screamed over half the way home - sorry Rony!

Our patients were mostly the same ones we had been seeing - only a few new ones. We continued to see progress being made and joy oozing from their ear-to-ear grins. Though, I should note, some Haitians don't smile for pictures (even when we ask  them to). It is thought that photos are supposed to be formal and serious and not a smiling occasion. Boy would my facebook be devoid if I only posted formal and serious photos!!

On Monday night I was blessed to have a conversation with MariJo, one of the wonderful women who works in Dr. June's house. By this point I was comfortable holding a very simple and slow conversation in Creole. I was just asking her a few questions about the book she was reading and about her hair - she had recently undone her braids. And while we were talking she offered to do my hair! Now you should all know that MariJo is a bilateral femur amputee and also a partial left hand amputee. She has no legs and only has a thumb and pointer finger on her left hand. I was curious about how this would work but I had seen her around the house and knew she was a very capable and self-sufficient woman so I figured she'd find a way to braid even my "silky white people hair". Sure enough, she did and it turned out great! It lasted two days before the braids came loose and started to look like a rats nest.

Tuesday night we had a big dominoes game. Haitians LOVE dominoes. And they're really competitive. There's so much strategy and "card counting" involved. I really couldn't play very well but I still enjoyed hanging out and playing along. The only problem was that when you lose, you have to clip clothespins on your body (hands, arms, or face/ears). And let me tell you, these were new clothespins that really had some grip to them. OUCH! I lost a lot but since I was a beginner they went easy on my clothespin punishments. =)

Wednesday night was supposed to be missionary church. I actually really wanted to go but we heard some thunder booming a little ways off and the group collectively decided trudging up the hill in the rain was not a good idea. BUT...the rain never came. The thunder stayed off in the distance and eventually went away entirely. But by this point we would have been quite unfashionably late for missionary church. So what did we do instead? Why we went on a tarantula hunt, of course!! We donned our headlamps and checked our heebie jeebies at the door. We were 5 women on a mission! We walked along the road and looked along the cliffs and ditches to see what we could see. We actually found 6 adult tarantulas, 2 babies, and a dead one. Fortunately we met up with a Haitian friend of Kelly's and he helped us capture one! We named him Henry and we all felt confident enough to take a mini photoshoot with him - as long as he stayed within the confines of his glass jar.

How Henry thinks I feel about him

How I really feel about Henry

What an adventure on my last night in Les Cayes, right? Yes, I'm sad to say this was my last night there. The next morning we had a 5am departure scheduled in order to drive back to PaP in order to catch our flights on Friday. Well apparently that thunderstorm came back with a vengeance because in the middle of the night a huge storm rolled in and dumped a ton of water on our little tin roof. Our 5am departure got pushed to 6am, then to 7am, and we eventually left at 8:30am once the rain had calmed down. Dr. June had some errands and meetings to go to on our drive back (at various "villes" outside PaP) so our drive took a while but it was still fun. I'm happy to say that I stayed in the back the whole time and didn't get car sick at all! Once we got into PaP, we took a different route through the city than we had on the way down. We passed some big slums (not Cite Soleil, though) and many many tent cities that are slowly becoming slums themselves, sadly. MariJo traveled with us (she is currently finishing out a 2 week visit the States with Dr. June) and she told us a bit about her childhood. She grew up in Cite Soleil with 11 brothers and sisters and an absentee dad. She told us she loves working with Dr. June but only gets to see her mom and siblings once a year, or so. My heart broke for her but at the same time I was praising God for delivering such a beautiful soul out of Cite Soleil and  offering her a chance to learn and work and know Him.

I have tons of pictures of the slums but I've decided not to post them anywhere online. The tent cities are already plastered in the news and blogs everywhere. But I really feel that you need to go and see the slums (and the rest of Haiti) for yourself. A five minute journey down the road will open a window into a whole 'nother world - one that will shake you to your core. One day, if I get the chance and feel peace with doing so, I would like to visit Cite Soleil or any other slum in Haiti for a day. I might not be able to do much but I can visit, I can talk, and I can learn. Sometimes a friendly face is all they need to know they are loved and there is hope in God.

For the rest of my pictures and many more mini-stories that I've not blogged about here, you can visit my picasa album. Feel free to comment and ask questions. And stay tuned - my Haiti journey is far from over!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Haiti Part 3

Thursday and Friday had us back at the clinic. We found a groove and worked, hopefully, to the glory of God. =) Pictures speak louder than words...

All of our patients worked really hard. Most of them have never received physical therapy before coming to our clinic so they love coming. They get to re-learn how to use their muscles to walk, sit, or even squeeze a foam ball. I'm sure anyone who has been to PT before will tell you that it is a TON of work but SO rewarding. The smiles on our patients faces at the end of the day makes me know that they're enjoying their therapy - or at least a little attention and TLC. =)

Although we had only worked two days since our last day off (thanks to Flag Day) we were still all exhausted and happy for a weekend. Really this just meant we got to stay in the workshop and help the orthotist and prosthetist fill, strip, and modify their casts/leg molds.

Don't worry, though, we still found lots of time for fun! On Saturday I went on a walk to my missionary friends' house. They only live about a mile away from Dr. June's house where I was staying. My friend and I walked up the hill, past the clinic, and around the corner. We came to a fork in the road and we didn't know which way to go. I asked (in my very poor Creole) an older man who was sitting in the shade if he knew where they lived. With lots of gesturing we decided which way we should go and we continued on our way. Not long after that fork, we came to another small intersection. I recognized the RMI guest house (where I had stayed for one night on my previous trip to Haiti). I knew exactly where I was but just didn't know where to go. My friend called her friend who knew the area but he didn't answer. We were very downtrodden. It was hot and we were semi-lost. The only thing we could do was turn back. After walking just a few short paces and redialing her friend's number a half-dozen times, he finally picked up. He knew exactly where we needed to go. PTL! We headed down the correct path and came to the missionary housing area. We asked a few MKs who were outside playing which house was theirs and we finally found it! I was very thankful to have found their house and for the chance to sit in the shade and talk a while. Friends and familiar faces are always a welcome respite when traveling in a foreign country. God always knows what we need and sends wonderful people to encourage us!

After our walk we got back to the house and worked in the shop some more. I must not have looked busy (I'm not a good orthotist, apparently) so Cerafin invited me to bring food to some hospital patients. In Haiti, hospitals generally do not provide food (or personal hygiene care). Some hospitals don't even offer medicines - family members must go buy it and bring it back for the hospital to administer it. Anyway, there are a few patients who are in the hospital and don't have family with them. They have been long-standing rehab patients who have grown to know Dr. June. Thus, she sends breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the hospital for two patients, daily. Cerafin is usually the food delivery boy and I was happy to be invited along. Though I had been in Haiti nearly a week by then, this was the first time I had gone upstairs to the hospital. The setting met my expectations (though I must confess they weren't very high) but I definitely had no way to prepare myself for the smell. It wasn't unbearable but it definitely made you cringe a bit upon entry. We chatted a while...actually I sat there and looked around while Cerafin chatted. He doesn't speak English so it's not like he could translate for me. We witnessed a very sad event (which was also confusing for me since I wasn't exactly sure what was going on at first...considering I speak and understand very little Creole). But Cerafin stuck with me so all was good.

Sunday greeted us nice and early. We awoke to the beautiful sounds of the church choir practicing. It was a nice background to get ready and eat breakfast to. The church service was beautiful. There's so much energy and you can really see their joy come alive. It didn't matter that there were several hundred people cramped into a stifling hot room, they came to worship the King...and worship they did! It made me smile as I bobbed to the the beat and worshiped God in my different/American way. I may feel awkward raising my hands and crying out loud but I certainly appreciate their desire to do so...and that they shirk all fear of awkward-ness. Maybe one day I'll get over that.

After church we went on a hike. We made our way along the river and saw many people swimming, bathing, washing clothes, and washing cars. It was actually funny to see it all occurring in the same area. We also climbed some mango trees to get a few mangoes and found a very large and funny fruit/gourd thing that the Haitians call a calbas.

Cerafin helped me cut and empty out my fruit/gourd thing (like a pumpkin). I wanted to dry it out and try to make bowls. Apparently it wasn't ripe yet because it dried all wonky. Oh well, I'll have to try again another time!

Cerafin is such a ham. He loves to goof off...especially at the expense of my poor little calbas bowl.
To Be Continued...