TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
January 21, 2011
Ahhhh! It is seeming more and more like home! Now back in Haiti, I have been able to sort through more boxes, put some more wall hangings up, hang some more curtains, purchase a full size bed (vs. two twin mattresses on top of two camping cots), actually have chairs to sit at a table with, have a full size refrigerator (even though only the freezer section works) and feel like things are taking shape.
Our new home has its challenges. We have one bathroom that does not have a sink. It does have a shower stall, but the showerhead only produces a tiny trickle of water that is totally impossible to bathe under. Washing your hands in this bathroom is rather comical. A water-filled bucket located by the shower stall is one way to wash your hands. You need to use a pan to “dip and pour” water over your hands, being careful to hold your hands into the shower stall so the bathroom floor does not get all wet OR use the other method of entering the shower stall and bending down to the spout located near the floor to wash your hands under running water, while trying to keep your shoes from getting wet. I guess having this sort of running water is still better than the periods of time where we have no water at all. Do you know how many times a day you use water??? One quickly finds that out, when no water is available!
We have purchased huge containers to store water in for the periods of time when the city water to the house is shut off. It seems we are constantly bringing water from one place to another. To keep water on hand, we are often seen filling the drinking water purification system, filling pitchers with safe-to-drink water for placement in the refrigerator and filling the water storage containers. When we are without city water, we are busy filling buckets for toilet flushing, hand washing, dish washing, clothes washing, cooking and cleaning. Whew! At least we do not have to walk three miles to a water source, as many people in Haiti have to do!
We now have electricity most hours of the day, thanks to an inverter! An inverter is a device that stores power into batteries when the city power is on. When the city power goes off, you flip the inverter switch and draw power from the batteries. We soon learned that the more batteries the better!!! When the inverter is in use, if you do not have enough batteries, you cannot use anything that heats or cools – such as a hotplate (our indoor means of cooking) or a refrigerator (which is not of much use if it only works two hours a day) or an iron (yes, Haitians iron all their clothes) or a coffee pot. Pulling too many amps shuts everything down! Before purchasing more batteries, our routine for consistent power was also a comical series of events. When the city power went on we would hurry to shut off the inverter and plug in the refrigerator, the coffee pot and the hotplate. When the city power went off, we would hurry to turn on the inverter and unplug all of those devices and cease doing the ironing for the day. It is even more fun performing these tasks when the city power goes out in the middle of the night. We do not worry about not having a hotplate at night, but it sure is nice to have a fan blowing to cool us down and keep the mosquitoes away. To make sure we find our way to the inverter switch … a nearby flashlight is a necessity! Once we had purchased more batteries, our “race through the house” was just limited to the shutting off and turning on of the inverter. No longer was it necessary to visit every electrical device in the house!
Can you see why most of the day in the life a Haitian is consumed just by tasks such as these??? For those who do not have the luxury of electricity and indoor plumbing their daily tasks in life are even more challenging. Hauling water is an all-day process for the many water needs of a family – such as bathing and cooking and cleaning. Purchasing and preparing of food is time-consuming. A daily trip to the market is required for those not having refrigerators. Ready-to-heat-and-eat meals are not found in Haiti. Everything is made from scratch, which involves feather plucking, scrubbing, slicing, dicing, peeling and much more. The cooking of food is also time-consuming. Starting the coals for the fire, standing by the brewing pots and serving the meal takes time! Scrubbing the dishes right after the meal is not only a good idea, but it also a means to keep the rodents and insects at bay! In between, time must be found for scrubbing the children, the house and the clothes! No modern devices for those chores either! Bathtubs with yellow rubber duckies, vacuum cleaners and permanent press settings for wrinkle-free drying are unknowns to most Haitian households here! A nearby cactus or a wire strung from house to tree will do just fine for the drying of clothes! Haitians have a reason to boast about their clothes washing and drying techniques. As many visitors will testify, Haitians have the whitest whites and the brightest brights. How do they do it in a country that is always dusty and dirty?
As if the day-to-day struggles are not enough for a Haitian family, add to it the most recent series of events. The lingering effects of last year’s earthquake, the cholera epidemic, the violence following voting for presidential candidates, and the return of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier have left the people here wondering what else could possibly happen to the people of Haiti! Tonight, PLEASE take time to kneel by your bed to pray! PLEASE remember the people of Haiti when you do so! Their problems are not going away. Their future seems bleaker than ever before. Before the earthquake, the Haitian people always seemed to have this wonderful ability to hope when things seemed hopeless. After the earthquake, it seems that hope is dangerously wavering into an abyss of despair! Only God can makes things right! We need to be on our knees for JESUS to reign in Haiti!
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time. God willing ……