Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Haiti Day 1

Before I start writing a single thing, know that this is the hardest and best thing I have ever posted about on my blog. I only wish I had more talent to write in detail about what truly happened. The following posts are probably the most difficult, joyous, and intimate posts, so bare with me.

On Saturday morning, I awoke with 40 minutes of sleep. I was planning to sleep for an entire hour, but Greg called me at 1:40 am. I was so excited, I just got up after I answered his call. I jumped in my last hot shower for a week and rinsed off from the wedding that had ended 3 hours before. 

Ryan is the BEST husband! I mean it! He stayed awake all night waiting to drop me and Sara off at Athens Church at 3 am! THE BEST! 

We dropped by Sara's house, and made our way to the church. At 3 am, we unloaded our luggage, I hugged and kissed Ryan goodbye, and climbed into Kathy's car with Terri and Sara. We were on our way. Haiti was really happening. 

We got to the airport around 5, maybe a bit before, and checked our bags. Mine weighed 49.5 lbs. This is a common occurrence withy luggage! PHEW!!

We first flew to Miami, then hopped on another flight that connected us to Haiti. Our first flight was barely remembered. I WAS EXHAUSTED and fell asleep next to Chris and Brooks. 

The flight that we caught from Miami to Haiti SPOILED us! It was cheaper to fly business instead of regular class. We ate lunch, reclined, and caught an episode of something. I was too busy catching up with Kathy and dosing in and out of sleep to remember. I was able to catch pics of our DREAM TEAM as Amy calls us!
 {Sara and Kelly}
 {Maggie and Garrison}
 {Brit and Amy}
 {Chris and Brooks}
 {Caroline and Matthew}
 {Jordan and Nathan (we learned quickly that he fell asleep as soon as he got still)}
 {Kathy and ME}
 {Terri and Alex}
 Soon enough, we landed and began the Customs process. Can I say it is completely different from the American customs as far as the heat, building, heat, and people go. There are men greeting you while playing music. There are men trying to take your luggage without your permission. There are huge fans blowing inside of a warehouse that is their Customs. Your luggage is sitting in a group waiting for you to claim it without anyone verifying it. People are yelling. Vendors are trying to sell anything you will buy or in our case will not buy! We waited in line only to find out that we didn't get a form that was necessary to be admitted in the line. Amy ran back and got a stack and we frantically filled them out, so we would be admitted! We were!

Kyle was telling us a bit of info before we headed towards the camp. Follow his journey at Kyle in Haiti.
Sweet Kathy! She and I were plane buddies for 3 out of 4 rides. I love her!
Throwing our luggage through the window!
Streets of Port Au Prince
The untouched land in Haiti is no's beautiful!

One of the most dangerous places. Tent City. Massacres occur here. We didn't stop and check it out.
Needless to say, we made it through Haitian customs and made our way to the La Piste camp right beside Port Au Prince. Red Cross organized it, but it will soon be knocked down in January of 2013. Several displaced and disabled Haitians have been living there since the earthquake in 2010. Immediately arriving the heat hit, the language barrier hit, and God's LOVE was there!
La Piste. A temporary housing community.
While we were visiting their community, we had a prayer walk. I have never done ANYTHING like this. You basically walk around the village and say prayers over it. You could pray aloud or pray quietly. I decided to pray quietly. Kids would run out of houses and just grab your hand while you were walking by. One little girl came out and grabbed on to my hand. I put her on my back and began praying just for her. I thanked God for her life, her loving spirit, and her family. I prayed safety, health, and opportunities over her. And then the most awesome thing happened. She began kissing the back of my head and tears began to fall out of my eyes. God spoke to me through those five kisses from this innocent child. I prayed and asked others to pray for a change of heart. My heart was already changing and we had been there less than an hour. God is power and can show it in large ways. Haiti is a beautiful place full of hope, full of sadness, full of God's potential.
(the little girl in front of me in white is my piggy-back rider)
The man in the front lined us up by signing that Blancs (white people) get in a line and Haitians join in. Then he took my camera and had Mary take a photo. It was our first group shot with Team B.
Lots of the kiddos would call out, "HEY YOU!" in their sweet Creole accent and then when attention was given would point to the camera and demand "PHOTO". Once you would snap the picture they would reach for your camera and look at themselves. It may have been the only time that day or week they see their beautiful face.
Since many of the Haitians were deaf in the community we had awesome translators. Mary was one of the ladies that walked around with us in La Piste. This man pictured wanted to know our names. We signed them and then he wanted to know what our name sign was. We didn't have one yet and he would get on to us! Hilarious!

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 We met Solomon and other deaf leaders in the community training shelter after our walk. He had us practice by signing the alphabet and our name. We also heard their stories about why they were here. More tears were shed. 
Once the clock hit 3:45, we had to leave. It is a bit dangerous to stay out too late after dark, and our ride home to the guest house was about an hour. I fell asleep over and over again. I definitely needed my SPARK! I think it was a mix of the heat, getting too little of sleep, and a drain of emotions. 

When we arrived home we ate dinner cooked by some wonderful ladies! We were super impressed by the meal we received.  We ate rice and pea-like beans, chicken legs, sauteed onions and carrots, fried plantains, and a sweet potato cake like bread. 

We made our way outside after dinner and started our debrief time. This was one of my favorite times of the day. We were lucky to have one of our talented worship leaders on the trip. Brit Jones led us in worship with awesome music. We even had guests come and stand outside the gate to hear the songs of praise. Their shoes and feet were visible under the gate. After worship it started to rain, so we went inside to share what happened today at La Piste and our thoughts on how God was working on us.
This was our theme song for the entire trip and really got us in the right frame of mind. Listen to the lyrics. 

After worship, we headed to the showers. Another story all together. Did I mention there was RARELY AC in Haiti. You do NOT flush toilet paper in any toilet. And their power is a bit spotty. So, the showers (the ladies had three choices and guys had one upstairs), one was inside that all 12 of the girls could share, or there were 2 additional outside. The first night I used the one inside. We weren't aware of any light in there since the switch didn't do anything. We found out on the last night that there was an additional one in another room that turned the bathroom power on. That was a good discovery, but a bit late. On a scale from 1-10 the shower pressure was a 2.5. Let's just say that this thick mane of mine took a lot longer to rinse out, BUT the shower was cold and it felt nice to rinse away the dirt and sweat for those 4 minutes. As soon as you turn it off, sweat begins again. 

I layed in bed talking to my bunkmate Sara, and roomies: Terri, Kathy, Chris, and Kat. I learned lots from these mothers and am grateful I got to room with them! It was a great first day to say the very least. 

We were asleep by ten and sleeping sound until 4 am. I will pick up there in the next post. 
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Caroline's Wedding Weekend!

Caroline and Thomas were married on Friday, July 6th! It was a beautiful day around the 90* mark! The wedding was inside of the lovely Gainesville Civic Center. 

I had my hair done by the wonderful Carrie along with my makeup! THE GIRL IS TALENTED! I do not lie! She can make you look like a MILLION bucks! I was speechless. Thank you Carrie!
I left the salon, picked up my mom, and headed to Gainesville! We ate lunch once we arrived to the room that the bridesmaids were using to get ready. Everyone was finishing up the last details on hair and makeup!

 Caroline requested a photo booth, and I told her that I had her taken care of! Mom and I set up my photography backdrop set and put the camera with the wireless remote control on the table in front. We used an Organic Bloom frame (I sell them through my photo business if you want to get some) and wrote the directions in chalk! It was precious. Caroline and Auntie Ann bought a whiteboard and dry erase markers for their guests to write messages to them and snap a picture. CUTE! Mom and I thought we should be first!

We hung out in the room while the guests arrived and enjoyed getting ready with the bride. She was stunning in every way and oh so happy. It was touching to watch my cousin on her big day! She has quality friends and we all love her so much! 

  Pictures of the bride and groom were taken, and then it was time for the entire wedding party! ShutterKiss did a great job capturing all of the details! It all went by so quick! Soon, it was time for the big moment! 

Caroline walked down the aisle just beautiful! Some things that I noticed while standing up there: a sleepy woman, my dad's goofball smile, my handsome husband, beautiful mom, sweet brother, Papa pushing Caroline's dress out of the way of the candle, Tommy & Carol figuring out how to pour the sand during the ceremony, Zach almost passing out from locking his knees, the ambulance that decided to make it's roaring siren appearance during the ceremony, AND MY SWEET COUSIN AND COUSIN-IN-LAW TYING THE KNOT AND LOVING IT! I was a giggle box along with the other girls. Good thing I was smiling or I would have been a sap! 
We celebrated by eating a great meal, dancing, spending time laughing and talking with family and friends, and enjoying some yummy cake made by one of Carol's sorority sisters. It was a wonderful evening complete with a glow-stick send off! How fun! 
Congrats Tommy and Carol! I am so happy for you two! I can't wait for you to multiply! I know how bad you would love kiddos! Can't wait to see what the future holds! Always remember LOVE & RESPECT for one another!

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