Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday in Photos

The majority of our day was spent preparing for the team that arrives tomorrow at lunchtime. The kids and I cleaned and got bedrooms ready. Troy worked around the property on various things. It was pay day so everyone was upbeat. The employees here get paid the last Friday of each month. Troy is doing much better with converting their pay and figuring out their wage correctly. Everyone is paid in cash. No need to drive to the bank to make a deposit.

Paige is busy with a math marathon. She is ahead of schedule on all of her subjects except Math. Without TV and the many distractions we were accustomed to having it has been easy for her to focus on her work. It is not her fault that she is behing a little in math. Her Math teacher left the country without her and then was a little busy, but now they seem to have found their groove. Math in the morning, math at night.

Photos from today-Mid-day wrestling break
Mid-day dance party, on the coffee table
Britt had a light day today. Three total first-aide customers. The last guy of the day (not this photo) was crying so hard, we felt bad for him. This little guy is Jeff and his mom is Giselle, one of the teachers here.
There has been a really fun construction project happening here all week. We have fun photos to share but want to wait until after the founder of Lifeline arrives tomorrow and sees it for himself first ... it is a surprise.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
C. S. Lewis

Ou capab - "deep thoughts" post by Britt

Today, my dad paid all the lifeline employees for the month of March. They recieve their money in an envelope, amounts ranging from $20.48 to the highest paid emloyees at $66.27 (there's actually one much higher, the school director, who makes $175). This money is for an entire month's worth of work. I know, that as a fifteen year old, I made $20.48 in about two to three hours at each of my two jobs. How is that not totally insane? Me, a child with no bills or any sort of financial responsibilites, makes as much as the bread winner of a Haitian family in 1/100 of the time? I have a hard time not feeling totally weird/uncomfortable/sad/guilty about it all.

That's not even half of it. Mme. Maxo usually signs for the majority of the employees, since they cannot read or write. (Haiti is estimated to have a 50% literacy rate.) A newer employee, Mme. Emmanuel, was given her envelope and Dad asked if she'd sign the sheet. She replies, "ou capab" - which means "you can". In other words, you can sign for me since I don't know how. I watched her face when she said that and I wouldn't say that she looked embarrassed. It is just the way it is.

Yesterday another woman, who was given what amounted to about $5 US to buy medicine for her sick baby, needed to sign the receipt we use to keep track of lifeline finances. Her "signature" looks like this: x+. An "x" and a plus sign?

Can you imagine not knowing how to even write your own name?? Let alone, read? I know that I totally took reading and writing for granted. It's just something that everyone can do, like making toast. I am not going to beat myself up about the fact that you and I know how to read and write, since I realize that God has truly blessed us. Being born in America affords you all sorts of things, that we don't even consider.

It is just kind of hard for me to grasp that God blesses some more than others. A verse that relates to this is Proverbs 21:5 "The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty". Another is Psalms 33:12 "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance." The Matthew 7:24-27 (see it down below) illustration Jesus gave is perfect. The United States was built upon a firm foundation, with godly men as her founders. Haiti was not built on that sort of foundation.

Now I'm not saying that this is the reason why Haiti is poor and America immensly rich, although it makes me wonder. There are LOTS of reasons, but for one of them scripture seems to point straight to it. You may think that I am being cruel here, but as I look into it more & more, Scripture holds true.

I love the people I have gotten to know here. I feel bad and have nothing but compassion in my heart, but there is only so much that one can do. It's just like with an addict, you can encourage them to turn from their bad habits, but only they can make the choice to get clean. To a certain extent, Haiti needs to help herself.

They've heard about Christ, they know who He is, but over & over they choose their ways over His and a relationship with Him. God may bless some more than others, but that does not mean He doesn't love them. He cares for them & hurts for them, desperately wanting for them to turn from their sins. (That is true for me too!)


Matthew 7:24-27 "Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse, because it is built on rock. But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will fall with a mighty crash."

2 Peter 2:20 - And when people escape from the wicked ways of the world by learning about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up with sin and become its slave again, they are worse off than before.

2 Chronicles 7:14 - Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.

Isaiah 53:6 - All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Psalm 72:17 - May the king's name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun shines. May all nations be blessed through him and bring him praise.

On doing business from and in a 3rd World Country

Getting used to a new culture is difficult. Dropping all expectations of what can happen in a day is almost impossible.

We have been planning our days for 30 years (okay, so our mom's planned for us at one point.) After that many years; it is odd to get up and tell yourself that your list is ... well, it is only YOUR list. It means nothing to anyone else.

If your list had five things, expect to accomplish one, maybe two. It would be better not to make the list at all.

Yesterday, I gave Troy a list with 7 things on it. As I sit here typing it has one thing crossed off. The only one he did was #6, which was "kiss me." He got stuck on another project, had trouble with it and had no way to go get parts ... so his day was sucked into the Haiti black hole of time.

We still have business to take care of in America. Our internet telephone is touch and go. Most businesses hang up on us before the connection establishes so we are having little success dealing with our U.S.A. issues. Lately, we write down what we want to say, email it to mom or dad and ask them to call the business for us.

Because we have had trouble calling to straighten out a few bills from before we left, I knew when the treadmill gave me trouble that I was basically out of luck. Sears is not known for their stellar customer service anyway, so to get them to help us from here, seems highly unlikely. The incline got stuck at full incline, no thanks. Troy was able to switch wires around and trick it into going down but now it is stuck down, no incline option. Troy emailed Sears to get a replacement part sent. This is their response.

"Sears does not ship parts outside the United States and Puerto Rico. We apologize for any inconvenience that this has created." (We all know they are not actually sorry, creating inconvenience is their specialty.)

Troy is considering swimming to Puerto Rico to pick it up.

And, for the record, I think Sears is one of the worst stores on the face of the earth. IF there were a Sears in Haiti, I would not shop there. I was under pressure to get a treadmill fast, to get it down here on the container. I make poor choices under pressure. I won't bore you with the details of how difficult it was to purchase this item, but you would think they don't actually want to sell their products based on this transaction.

We hear (and man, is it easy to forget from here ... what month it is, what day it is ... what is happening in the U.S. ...) that there are taxes due in a few weeks. We have not started ours, I think I see a few late, late nights in our future. Filing income taxes from Haiti is weird. Enough said.

I better go ... I have a to-do list to hurry up and ignore. Wish me luck.

"The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax." ~Albert Einstein

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Thursday in Photos

I have absolutely nothing to say this evening, but here are a few photos. Happy Friday, Happy weekend. Be Blessed.

I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness or abilities that I can show to any fellow creature,let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again. ~ William Penn~

Little things entertain me

Recently while we shopped at "Eko Depot", the Haiti version of Home Depot/Menard's/Lowe's, we enjoyed noticing the difference between this hardware story and your typical United States Super Hardware store.

The entire Eko Depot is about 1/10 the size of a Home Depot store in the States. There are no fancy display's. No one offers you a credit card with 0% interest for 6 months as you enter the store.

Much of the time, the item you are looking for does not exist or is out of stock. They cannot tell you when they will next carry that item. If you want to buy paint, you get to choose from one of one brand that they carry. They have a color card with 15 choices of colors, there is no mixing of other colors at Eko. If you don't like turquoise, you're out of luck.

If you want to buy electrical parts, you get to dig through unmarked boxes without any rhyme or reason to their location within the store.

When you check out, you have two or three lanes to choose from. The person at that lane rings it up, another person comes and takes it over to a different desk to bag it. After you have paid you go show your receipt to the person who took your stuff over to the other counter and bagged it. It makes no sense, it is an added step. (plus, why are they checking your receipt, they are the ones who took it after it was "scanned" and they SAW that the items were purchased.) If you bought your Menard's stuff in lane 10 but then a lady took it to the service counter, piece by piece to bag it up ... Wouldn't you find that to be an odd waste of time?

There I am again, stuck in my American way of thinking about things. Why the hurry? Time does not matter. I need to learn that.

If you were shopping for a oscillating fan, you could pick one up for a cool $60 U.S. If you wanted a cheesy plastic shoe rack that holds six pairs of shoes, that would cost you $45 U.S. Real bargains.

While I was walking around keeping Noah happy, I saw a massaging shower head thing. I don't need one, I don't want one. But, I found the box to be very entertaining.

It read:

"A torrential downpour of cascading showering pleasure!"

That sounds good. I wonder if cold water will produce the same results as warm water? It was hard to leave it on the shelf with that kind of product description.

At Caribbean market, the grocery store shown yesterday, here are a few examples of the way groceries are priced ... random ones I wrote down (but did not buy)- It is easy to look at the conversion on the stuff you are NOT going to buy ... I hate converting the things I did buy. Ouch.

Package of 5 sausage links - Johnsonville brand - 1.25 lbs total weight - $8.98
Large 480z. jar of Mott's applesauce - $4.81
Box of 10 Fruit Roll-Up's - $4.67
One normal size bag/package of Chips Ahoy cookies - $6.00

Needless to day, we are not eating many Johnsonville products these days.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

How was your commute today?

Today we went to Port au Prince to work our first Agape Mail shift. Our commute was 34 miles and lasted 95 minutes. We reached a cruising speed of 40mph for about 12 seconds. Along the way we saw many interesting things.

Had we been commuting together in Minnesota, we would most certainly have stopped at one of four gas stations or one of three specialty coffee places to grab some coffee for the ride. Here, we passed zero specialty coffee places and the one gas station we passed, sells only gas ... no coffee kiosk, no fancy creams available. In this country, you must feed your coffee addiction in the privacy of your own home. There is no help along the way.

Had we been commuting from Zimmerman to the nearest large city of Minneapolis; we would likely have encountered some road-kill. No problem, a dead squirrel or racoon or even the occasional deer is to be expected.

Today, we saw two dead horses, a dead goat and almost hit a dingo and a horse ourselves! (Dingo's are really nasty, gnarly dogs --- but we like to call them dingo's.) Dead horses are not a pretty sight. Don't worry, no photos.

Photos from our commute-

This is from about one half of an inch of rain that fell last night. The drainage system is less than effective. On they way home six hours later, it looked no different. The city road repair workers must have taken the day off. ;-)

We gave the up-nod to our friends at the United Nations compound. They returned the greeting.

This is a river that you cross as you enter the outer "suburban" edge of Port au Prince. This river is used for many things. Just to name a few: Car washes, trash dumping, doing laundry, sand for cement, and a watering hole for swine and bovine alike. Two words: No good.

No need to call 911, this is the way it always looks. Mmmmm, the sweet, sweet smell of burning trash in the morning.Maybe this has something to do with the horses?

Before our Agape shift we went to get groceries for the team of seven that arrives on Saturday. Our list was long, we mostly experienced success. The bummer of the day: no chips ... not one bag of potato chips to be had. The big BIG find, a few liters of Diet Dr. Pepper. This is also the store that sells the non-stinking variety of ground beef. We bought a lot of that too.

On the way home from the big city, Troy took this picture of the sea. We enjoy the crazy sights of Port, but we are really happy being "village people."

It was a fun day. Every time we go into Port we notice new things that amuse (or alarm) us ... we enjoyed our first solid day together (without little people hanging on us) in months.

We called it a "date" and grabbed a hamburger and fries at a place in Port au Prince to seal it and mark it as such.

At Agape our shift was fun, we met new people AND we got letter's from the 6th grade Sunday School class at New Joy (our church). That was pretty fun. Thanks guys!

Troy and I agreed that the best song we listened to on our way in was this Sara Groves song:

You Did That For Me Sara Groves

I don't have to cry anymore. I don't have to worry about what's in store. I've walked that road exhausted and poor. I don't have to cry anymore.. And I don't have to know it all. I don't have to be so proud and stand so tall. I climbed that mountain only to fall. I don't have to know it all.. You did that for me. Oh, you did that for me. You wore the chains so I could be free. Yeah, yeah. You did that for me.. And I don't have to be ashamed. Hang my head or shoulder the blame. Wondering if my life's been in vain. I don't have to be ashamed. Oh, you did that for me. Oh, you did that for me. You wore the chains so I could be free. Yeah, yeah. You did that for me.. Man of sorrows. Well acquainted with grief. Drug down to the city dump. Spread eagle on a cross beam. Propped up like a scarecrow. Nailed like a thief. There for all the world to see.. You wore the chains so I could be free. Yeah, yeah. Oh Lord, you did that for me. Oh Lord, you did that for me, You wore the chains so I could be free.. You did that for me.

Hugs and Love and Warm Sunshine from Haiti


Beautiful Children

Isaac and Hope love to sing "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, brown and white, they are precious in His sight ... Jesus loves the little chilren of the world.
(The Little Children and Jesus)
Matthew 19:13 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."Mark 9:37 "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."

(Not all photos were taken by us. One was taken by previous missionaries and the black and whites were taken by Jeremy Reeder, from the last short term trip.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Troy went to Port, we layed low, did school, painted and played and cleaned. Britt had a few patients. Paige took one patient while Britt was busy. The last photo is of Paige singing with her friend Caroline in church tonight. On Tuesday's they have sort of an open mic sort of thing and anyone can go up and sing or read a passage. The only major malfunctions were, a dead mouse in the laundry room, (mice are nothing to me now) and Pastor Rony coming to tell me something that I totally did not understand. I thought he was saying the men don't want to work, will you come up to talk to them. That is not what he was saying. I just walked up to see them, gave them water and said "pa compren" --- (I don't understand.) Troy later told me they were asking for a raise for the particular work they were doing because it was much harder than they thought and they belived they were being underpaid ... Rony was the messenger. I need to learn Creole. Troy is darn lucky I did not agree to giving any raises.

Today's photos -

Good Night!

Shout Out to Dad

Quickly, before I squander my nap-time freedom-

Can you imagine what missionaries of yesteryear went through? Man, it is crazy to think of how lonely they might have felt. No phones, no faxes, no email. No contact with the United States. Even when our internet phone is cruddy, I still know in less than a day or two I will get a good connection. I cannot imagine waiting weeks or months for a letter to arrive to my mom if I wanted to tell her something. Today my sister had an ultrasound, and I will find out how it went about ten minutes after she gets home. No waiting four weeks for her letter.

I have a fear (irrational or not) that the generator will give up and it will leave us without power. My fear is based more on not having internet than not having lights. I can light candles. Modern technology saves me from missing my friends and family more than I do. If the blog ever goes quiet for more than a day or two ... you'll know my fears have been realized.

We showed Pastor Rony the webcam a few weeks ago. He saw my friend Kris in Illinois. She saw him in Haiti. He thought it was very odd. We think it is amazing.

We really don't know how the people who were here, and around the world, serving 50 years ago ever got by. They were the real deal.

Now, for my shout out. My Dad is in the Ukraine working on a short term mission team. He checks email and the blog from there. Crazy to think about. HI DADDY --- we are praying for you. Stay healthy and get rest. We love you SO much.

Huge Hugs from Haiti,

Dentistry in Haiti

Troy's mom is a dental assistant. Teeth are an important thing, we are sure you agree. Since she asked ,Troy would like to briefly describe what he had experienced in the area of dentistry.

Ladies and Gentleman, Mr. Troy Livesay:

When one has a toothache in Haiti, all one need do is be able to point to the painful tooth in question, and bleed.

Pastor Rony complained of a toothache and told me he wanted to visit the dentist. This, of course, sounded like fun to me. We drove to Archaie (the nearest "large" town) and I stopped when he said "okay, here". I looked around, and all I could see were cinder block shacks with tin roofs. The one painted white with the green sign was the dentist's office. Now, I'm not sure what qualifies one as a dentist in Haiti, but I'm pretty sure I would pass. This guy just asked Rony what was wrong, gave him a pill, which I assume was a pain-killer, waited 5 minutes, and yanked the offending tooth out with pliers. The roots of the tooth were actually rotting, so I was happy to see that he pulled the right one. But since Rony showed him the offending tooth, I was not impressed. I guess his X-Ray machine was broken that day. And his hygienist must have had the day off. Oh, and his assistant was missing too. He did wear a labcoat, however, so it kind of felt like home. The waiting room was a patch of dirt in the shade of the building next door. There were no magazines to read or forms to fill out.

After spending some time here, I was actually impressed and surprised that there was even someone practicing dentistry. That probably isn't high on the priority list for people whose children are starving.

The total cost for the tooth removal, approximately $15.00 (USD). That is a lot for Rony, but nothing for us, so it was an easy choice to pitch in.

One other interesting note: For the next two or three days, every time I saw Pastor Rony he had a towel wrapped around his head. A bath towel. Covering his mouth. "To keep the infection out". I'm not sure if that was Doctor's orders, but it sure made communication difficult. Learning a new language is hard, but learning it through cloth is much harder.

I am happy to report that the towel succeeded in fighting off any infection, and Rony has made a full recovery now. (And I can again understand what he's saying, most of the time.)


Monday, March 27, 2006

Laborious is putting it nicely

Mme Maxo is an amazing cook ... she is more amazing because she cooks here, in Haiti with less than favorable cooking conditions.

You all know how I feel about any variety of cooking. That is what makes Haitian cooking all the more amazing.

Everything has so many steps. Every step is very labor intensive.

Britt went over to Rhonda's today to take part in a plantain cooking lesson. She came home with her plantains and made them on her own. Mme Maxo checked in on her right as she finished and was pleased with her work.

Plantains are everywhere where we live. American's would think they were bananas because that is exactly how they look, but they don't taste anything like bananas and they require a lot more than just peel and eat. They are starchy (even though they are technically a fruit) and taste similar to a potato. They cannot be eaten raw.

Britt was proud of her finished product and we added them to our dinner. She and Mme Maxo had a big time shaking their heads at "Mme Troy" (me) over the fact that I am not interested in cooking. I wish Britt would get on the blog and list out all the stinkin steps to make these plantains, but she is not cooperating with my request tonight. The picture below is the part where you smash them flat between two pieces of wood. There is no convenience easy, fast cooking here. With peeling, frying, smashing, dipping in salty vinegar and frying again these six plantains took 40+ minutes to make.

Britt with her finished plantains.

You can eat them plain or with Kethcup. Noah love, love, loves them and screams "dan tain, dan tain" until he gets his plate filled, then he starts hollering for the bep-up.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

All things are relative

This is our Port au Prince Church - It is called Port au Prince Fellowship. We have never been happier to drive two hours anywhere in our lives. We all look forward to going.

It is worth the drive! Today our pastor preached on walking out your faith. Focusing on heros of faith, using examples like the Ten Boom's. Asking us all to walk out our faith in the hard times, not just when things are good. It is pretty easy to trust God when things are good, but what about when things are tough? That is where you need to do more than just talk about your faith, you have to live it. It was a great service.

Uncle Rick, we sang your favorite song! We hope when you visit us we can bring you to visit our church too. (hint hint).

After church we were on a mission to find the Domino's Pizza. It might be one of the only things we have seen here that reminds us of "home". When we pulled up we did not see anyone inside but just as we were about to give up they turned on the "Open" sign and everybody cheered.

We drove through this "market" to find our pizza.

The most average food in America becomes the greatest food on the face of the earth in Haiti. We looked like a bunch of vultures while we devoured our pizza. It was a really fun treat.

We have found that there are not many ways to spend money here. You basically need groceries, and then an occasional trip to the beach or Domino's ... but there is no option for mismanaging funds because there are not hundreds of stores, restaurants and entertainment venues begging for your dollars.

We think it is mainly a very refreshing thing. It is easy to be wise with your money and make responsible decisions. The groceries are expensive but because it is the only thing we are buying regularly, it has not too difficult to stick to a budget. God is providing through many awesome and loving people and we are thankful for each of you. We really feel at home now and are so happy to be here serving the Lord. We could not do this without you.

We were invited to celebrate Easter with our friends from church. We are very excited to spend some more time with them and celebrate Christ's resurrection. We are also looking forward to having Easter "American Style" (with a ham).

We hope you had a blessed and refreshing Sunday, and if you ate Domino's Pizza today, just think how much better it would have tasted in the third world. :)

~Troy & Tara

And Lastly-
This is the road that leads to LaDigue. The path you see on the mountain is the path that leads to Petit Bwa. La Digue sits at the bottom of the path. At church today we were referred to as the "village people" most everyone at church lives in or directly surrounding Port au Prince ... which makes us the odd ones out and gave us the nickname "village people".