Thursday, October 22, 2009

Journey to Haiti Event

Bring the whole family for an evening of the sights and sounds of Haiti!
Sunday, November 1
5:00-7:00 pm
Vermeer Global Pavilion, Pella, IA

Want to try carrying buckets on your heads, learn about noisy animals or talk to a family who lives in a different country? Then we hope your family will join us for Journey to Haiti, a fun family event for all ages organized by Many Hands for Haiti.
We're planning a fun evening for all ages! But we want you to learn something too! We want to reconnect you with the mission and purpose of Many Hands and teach you what it's like to live in a country like Haiti--but we'll do it in a unique, hands-on way. After a brief update on how God is working through Many Hands, we’ll check in with the Nikkel family in Pignon, Haiti, via video call. Get your questions ready because we're going to ask them all about life in Haiti!
After the Nikkels tell us about Haiti, we're going to do some fun activities that will help us experience life in Haiti. We'll have several stations for families to travel through, including...
  • Pics & Prayer: At this station you can write a note of encouragement or prayer for the Nikkel family, or get your creative juices flowing and "Pray in Color" or create a piece of art for someone in the Nikkel family. (I know Will & Natalie would love some artwork for their new rooms that will hopefully be finished soon!)
  • Games Galore: We'll have an obstacle course to show you some of the things they do in Haiti, a picture guessing game of some unique Haitian sites, and a food-testing station to try some of what they might eat in Haiti. We'll also have some laptops that will allow you to explore life in some Third World countries.

And here are a few details that may help families...

  • Some great snacks will be provided to get you through that dinner hour! (And not just the Haitian taste-testing food...) :)
  • A supervised child play area will be available, especially for smaller children, throughout the evening.
  • Many Hands t-shirts will be available for $10 in children and adult sizes.
  • All ages are welcome! Adults will have fun and learn a lot too!

Schedule of Events

Here is a tentative schedule of events for the evening. It is not an "open house." We will begin at 5:00 pm with some brief info and the call to the Nikkels. The evening will end with the freedom to visit the stations, mingle and snack at your leisure, so there will not be a formal closing time.

(Schedule is subject to change...never know how a Haiti to Iowa Skype connection will be!)

5:00-5:25: Welcome & Update on Many Hands for Haiti

5:25-5:40: Phone Pignon (Get your questions ready for the Nikkels!)

5:40-5:50: Explanation of Activity Stations

5:50-7:00: Explore the stations, get snacks and have fun learning about the Third World!

Thank you so much for your continued support for Many Hands for Haiti! We hope you'll join us as we continue to learn about God’s love for those in poverty. Please feel free to contact me, Beth Gaulke, at 621-1628 or with questions.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

An Update from Pignon

Wow, I had no idea it had been so long since I updated the blog! So many things have been going on here and we’re just now getting into a busy part of the year. Starting today we will have a group here every week until November 19th. It will keep us hopping for sure. We are really looking forward to the next couple of months, having teams around to work with, talk to and hang out with.

I am surprised by how lonely we feel sometimes. It has been challenging living in a culture so different from our own. One of the best things to happen is that Will and Natalie are becoming the best of friends. I suppose when you are the only English speaking, Caucasian kids around, you cling to each other. It’s not that they don’t get along with kids here and have a few friends, it’s just a different kind of friendship. They are beginning to realize they can really trust each other and that they need each other.

Natalie has been battling these freak infections from some kind of bug bite that goes from a simple bite to a full blown abscess. They are incredibly painful and get red, hot and swollen. We have found the only way to get rid of them is with antibiotics. Of course everyone knows too much is just too much. Anyway, she was crying one night because it was hurting so bad and Will felt so much empathy for her he started crying too. (He will probably kill me someday for writing it down!) He even told her how much he loved her and that she was so tough! It’s not like they don’t fight anymore, because they do. Believe me. But something has changed in the way they respect each other. It is good.

Jared and I too are finding we are growing closer as the days go by. Hey it isn’t every husband and wife that can do construction projects together and live to tell about it. It’s funny because the things we would have argued about in the states don’t even apply here. Like which tile to buy or what color to paint. We are very limited and I am finding the fewer choices I have the better. Speaking of paint, we finally got our paint problems worked out. We are well on our way to having the interior totally painted! Yea!

We made our first road trip to Port-au-Prince recently. The first 30 Km (19 miles) took about 2 hours with the entire trip (130 Km or 80 miles) taking roughly 4 ½. The road is very rocky and in the low spots very muddy. We came to a huge mud hole and debated if it was passable. Jared and I agreed if we were in the states there is no way we would even attempt to drive through. But, we are in Haiti and we did as the Haitians do, we went for it. Jared tried to get on a high spot, but we immediately slid to the left and got high centered. After some skillful rocking of the truck on Jared’s part, he was able to get backed up and we found enough traction to get onto a higher spot. The whole time the kids and I were silent, in awe of the scene unfolding. We still weren’t sure we were going to get through, but Jared persevered and we came out on the other side. We also knew there was no turning back because we were not going through that again. It didn’t matter that we would have to come back a few days later.

That wasn’t the end of our road adventure. Shortly after going through the mud hole of death, we came down a hill to cross over a stream and found a large “tap-tap” stuck, sideways, in the middle of the next climb. We took a position in the shade along with four or five other trucks and waited to see what the driver would do and if they would get it moved. There were only two options. To get it going, or to let it roll back into the stream and without a doubt on it’s side. Several people were on the truck along with cases of glass pop bottles and an assortment of other stuff. The passengers got off, some walked away, but others helped the driver get a path made for smaller trucks to squeeze by. That of course included us. We all waited in suspense as one beat up white Toyota attempted the climb. He made it through and we were tired of waiting so Jared gave it a shot. I thought for sure we were going to lose a mirror or get our first major dent, but we squeezed through unharmed.

We finally got to the city of Hinche and from there the road started to improve. Things got really exciting when we saw a sign at the side of the road written in French, basically saying “road work ahead.” We were hesitant to believe it, but were soon driving through “construction zones.” The road crews had heavy equipment; dozers, rock trucks, cement trucks and road graders. But there were also hundreds of men mixing cement by hand, and creating rock channels along the road for water runoff. PROGRESS! It was a great thing to see. The closer we got to Port the better the road got until it was all smooth concrete. Jared even got the truck up to 60 mile per hour. I didn’t even know there were places in Haiti to drive that fast, safely.

Once we arrived in Port-au-Prince we drove around for an hour trying to find the entrance to our hotel. It wasn’t very well marked and we ended up driving by it twice before we finally got good directions from a woman on the street. There we police stationed on the road going to the hotel and police in front of the hotel. We were happy to see such a large law enforcement presence in the city.

Our hotel was beautiful and had everything we needed, a big pool, satellite TV with US channels, and my personal favorite air conditioning! The food was great and nobody got sick. The kids and I spent the days swimming and Jared spent the days running all over Port with our friend Gevy, trying to get the things we needed. He did discover a couple of great places to shop for groceries and Ecko Depot, Haiti’s Home Depot. The Caribbean Super Market was the kids favorite find. We walked in and it felt and looked just like a US supermarket. We found all kinds of food, health and beauty stuff and toys. It was great, and I am sure it will be one of our “must” stops when we are in Port.

We had only planned to stay for two nights, but with everything in Haiti, you must be flexible. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get all the things done that we needed to, so we kept our room for another night. By then the kids were getting a little too comfortable and Will even asked if we could just live there all the time. After all, he had everything he needed a pool, A/C and the Discovery channel, which we let him stay up and watch. Natalie’s favorite thing by far was the super hot shower. She spent half an hour after every swim, “getting the pool water off.” We will for sure be making the trip again in the near future, just to relax a little.