As Tara has already shared, I arrived safely at our new home this afternoon. Thank you for all of your prayers. The country I've seen so far seems no different than any other time I've visited. There is no feeling of insecurity or danger, just the usual necessary awareness of your surroundings. The media reports really do seem to be blowing the safety aspect out of proportion. I met a man from New York last night who pointed out that two years ago, there were 770 murders in the city of Port-Au-Prince. It is a city that is home to over four million people. That same year, the city of Chicago had nearly 1,900 murders with a population of less than three million. I haven't heard the Press and State Department shutting down travel to Chicago and declaring it a disaster, unless I missed it since Tuesday. Yes, things are a bit more heated right now due to the elections, but what I'm trying to say is...the reality of this place is better than reported as far as danger is concerned. And one more time, I'm safe and sound. All glory and honor to God for having His hands carry us here safely and showing us over and over again that He is sovereign.
Since arriving, I've been travelling with Jason (serving with us at Lifeline, from Michigan), Robenson (an employee of Lifeline who interprets and works with the children), and Pastor Rony, who leads the congregation in La Digue. We have had some laughs and enjoyed the work we've done so far.
We stayed in a "guest house" in Port-Au-Prince last night that is run by a missionary family working for C.S.I. Sounds exciting, I know, but we didn't do any forensics :( It stands for Christian Services International, and they have a beautiful home and fed us great meals and we had wonderful fellowship with a work-team visiting from Ohio. They are here building a school in a small village near the Dominican Rep. border.
The most interesting story so far is this:
I received my Haitian Driver's License today (Much quicker than I've ever gotten anything from the government at home). I watched the man type it up in front of me on a typewriter straight out of the 1960's. That was actually kind of fun. It was not fun when about 15 minutes later, I was forced to turn our truck around to circumvent some traffic issues. I followed another truck in front of me onto a side street and we were met by a police officer who kindly informed me that this was a one-way (unmarked, mind you) street and I would be ticketed. He took my brand-new Haitian Driver's License and walked away down the street and around the corner. This concerned me a little bit, so we parked the truck and Robenson and I followed him for about three blocks (I can see my license in his hand the whole time) back to his "squad" - a 1991 Suzuki Sidekick. Through my interpreting friend, I learn of the "crime" and it's penalty (loss of my brand new Haitian Driver's license) until a fine is paid and a court appearance and so on and so forth. There was quite a bit of negotiating and forehead rubbing and chin scratching between the two Haitians, and before I knew it, I was paying the fine of $100 on the spot (100 Haitian dollars, about twelve U.S. dollars). Then I received my license back and upon questioning my interpreter learned that we had just basically paid a bribe and we had better get on our way. I left the scene thinking "Great, I've been in-country less than 24 hours and I've already been stopped by the police, lost my brand new Driver's License and bribed a police officer."
Obviously, that was the worst part of my day, and I was excited to get out of the city and home to this village. Jason and I are trying to unpack at the moment, and remember why we packed certain things, and why we forgot to pack others. Tomorrow we will get organized for next week's mission teams and figure out what else we forgot. I'll check in again soon, and hopefully I will not have had any more encounters with "Haiti's Finest" in the meantime.
Love you all-