Thursday, February 02, 2006

Crazy Days, Crazier Nights

Wow. I've been here just two weeks. The amount of work we've done makes it feel like two months. How quickly it's passed feels like 2 days. I can't believe Tara and the kids will be here tomorrow. This whole experience still doesn't seem real. It will be even stranger (and better of course) to have my family here. Please pray for us all as we travel to meet each other and to our new home, and especially for protection from spiritual attack.

This morning I started the task of paying the employees here. Tonight, I'm still not done. It is quite a process, and will get quicker in time I'm sure. The way money works here...well, it doesn't work for me. You basically have to convert everything twice with two different exchange rates to get from point A to point B. One point is the currency in your hand, the middle is a made-up denomination called the Haitian Dollar, the other point being a US dollar. One US dollar equals approximately 8.5 Haitian dollars, which is 42.5 Gourdes. The currency is all in Gourdes, but everything is priced with the mythical Haitian Dollar, which is actually 5 Gourdes. Makes perfect sense, I know. I don't know why I'm having such a hard time with it.

It is strange to pay someone their monthly wages with a stack of bills 5 inches thick, and then realize it amounts to less than twenty dollars US. When exchanging money for the payroll, I asked for it in small bills - I got a huge bag of 50's and 100's. Those are the small bills here, since the money has been so devalued. That was fun to travel the countryside with.
(Oh, by the way, I have already been in a car accident in Port-Au-Prince - that's another story. Have I mentioned the driving here?)

Tonight I went through all of the money to pay the cooks and others directly preparing and delivering the food to the children. I worked with Madame Maxo, who is the "head" cook and manages the feeding program. She does an amazing job, has a huge heart for the children, and is a blessing to this mission. She was quite entertained by my attempts to communicate in Creole and my struggle to convert money into mythical figures.

I can't wait to see all of my family tomorrow and settle in together on this adventure. Our visiting team leaves on Saturday, so it will be another crazy night, I'm sure. The list of things to do grows by the second, and I keep enjoying it more.