SURPRISE! I’m home! Sorry it has been so long since I’ve written you all about my trip, but you will soon be satisfied by the bounty of information that is coming your way.
First off, some of you may be asking “but Josh, weren’t you staying in Haiti until October?” Yes, this is true. And no, I did not come back because I got malaria. I came home because Bruce was heading back to the United States so I could no longer work with him and I learned that the opportunity I had with Baptist Haiti Mission which I was going to do for the next few months might not be what I was looking for. I was informed that I would not be doing as much civil engineering projects, I would be living on a compound, and it might not fit in with my goals and passions. This is something Bruce and I decided after he got to know me better. Early August I looked into working more with IOM (International Organization for Migration) in Port-au-Prince to do further development work and experience the chaos of the capital for a while. Unfortunately, they are out of funds and are waiting for the $50+ billion to be distributed and therefore had no work for me. SO, I decided enough was enough, so I boarded a plane August 15th and headed home (kinda).
Kinda… after almost 6 hours in the Port-au-Prince airport (not much to see) my plane took me to Miami then Detroit. Why Detroit? Why not? I cheapened my return trip by meeting up with Scott Ellis to drive him and his car back to Seattle. He essentially decided to follow his girlfriend back to Seattle since she just got a job here. The road trip was fantastic. Highlights: we found camping hear for both of us for $15 (pads, sleeping bags, tent), stayed with someone we knew (or kinda knew) every night, saw the beauty of Colorado, and wave-jumped in Lake Michigan. That last one totally blew my mind. Anywho, as of August 21, I was home safe and sound. Just in time for my good friend Kenny’s wedding, which I am very glad I had the chance to attend.
Back to Haiti. That is how I got home. Now I can tell you about the end of my time there and possibly even some disorganized afterthoughts. Here goes… The last week and a half in Haiti was quite interesting. The other 6 interns were leaving Aug 11th, so everyone was trying to finish reports and projects before it was time to go. John and I were especially putting a lot of time into our reports because Canal Elme (the canal we had surveyed the week before for 7 days) was set to start construction the next week and because we needed to have design details and a PowerPoint ready for the Trois Riviere Pump Station project (mine). It was really tough putting so much time in the report and powerpoint with the other boys getting ready to leave, but it needed to get done. A lot of engineering is not very glamorous but is necessary. I keep having to tell myself this, because I’m not a huge fan of the report side of things. Anywho, we also spent time hooking up running water and installing a roof on a French Volunteer’s house (Julie). The rest of the time we devoted to saying out goodbyes, hugging ,singing “Kum ba yah” and crying. Just kidding. But we did spend some good time sitting on the roof stargazing, making meals together and then spending one final night as a group at Bruce and Deb’s house. We told them both how much they meant to us and taught us that summer and I could tell it really meant a lot to them. They really were great mentors and examples for God’s love while we were there. And I for one can say that Bruce showed me how we can and ought to integrate Christ into every facet of our lives. Even if its an engineering project. Development in Haiti does not get done if God’s will is not behind it.
Then they left.I said bye bye and then I was on my own. I spent 5 days in the team house by myself and it was definitely something I needed. And it was challenging. I know it doesn’t seem like a long time, but during those 5 days I had the chance to reflect, I got to know the kids better, I got to have a few great conversations with Pastor Burnix and I got to know Bruce and Deb better – a huge blessing. In those 5 days my Creole skills nearly doubled – I spent the evenings playing guitar and joking around with the kids or just talking about Haiti with the pastor. Bruce and Deb also had me over for dinner and one time Bruce told me that I shouldn’t use the word “sucks”, especially around the ladies, because it would ruin my chances with them. Advice like this was quite common from him.
The last project I had in Haiti was probably my favorite. For those last 5 days I basically got the chance to explore. I was to walk the entire drinking water pipe system and take GPS points from the source to the end for the towns of Passe Cateboix, Poste Metier, Ti Cousin and a bunch of other small “towns”. There is over 35 miles of pipe, a lot of which is not accessible by car/moto. In other words, I ended up doing 25 miles in three days on foot and also spent a few days riding around on motorcycles. It was awesome. Each day something new would go wrong with the motorcycles and one day we ended up walking the last 5 miles back to town after a flat tire. Its still odd to me how efficient everything is now that I am back in the states…
The value and provision of hope. This is something that Haiti has taught me. Pastor Burnix asked me what God was teaching me during my time in Haiti, and at first it was hard to think of an answer. It was so easy to just think about the projects, what we were accomplishing or hoped to accomplish. We’d just get caught up in those details without thinking of the people whose lives we were trying to effect. We went to Pastor Burnix’s church in Moulin on our last Sunday, and the choir performed a beautiful song. It said something to the effect of this:
there will be no hungry, famished, diseased, disabled, thirsty, poor, sad people once we are in heaven. This life is not it, this is not the end, there is still hope. Praise God.
This was quite beautiful to me, and I told Pastor Burnix that the people that sang this along with the countless other Haitians I have met during my time there have shown me the meaning of hope in Christ. If the Haitian people can appreciate the sacrifice of God how much more should I be able to do so?
God bless all of you for reading this and for supporting myself, Bruce and ODRINO in Haiti. I’ll keep you posted on Peace Corps info and that trip to come, but in the meantime I am hanging out trying to think of something meaningful to do with myself.
Love, hugs and n’a wé,