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Communiqué #022


to the PEOPLE of HAITI

March 5, 2006

Miragoane – another trip to a place in Haiti where I have never been! Even though the trip would involve riding in a small tap tap for over 2 hours, I was looking forward to seeing a new city. Miragoane is a port where many things are shipped into Haiti. Our trip there was to retrieve a cargo van that was shipped to us from Miami. We have been waiting since early December to receive the van and today was supposed to be THE day! We climbed into the colorfully painted truck early on a Thursday morning. We made several stops before leaving town, one of which was to purchase a chunk of ice to keep our tuna sandwiches from spoiling in our cooler. We finally got on our way about ½ later. I spent the whole trip sitting on the spare tire on the floor in the bed of the tap tap, viewing the countryside out the back opening of the cap on the truck. It really was quite pleasant! This truck offered shade over our heads and sliding stained-glass pieces on the sides of the cap that produced a generous air flow. I used part of my travel time practicing some Creole vocabulary words and trying out pronunciations and sentences on Leon. He was very tolerant of my using the same phrases over and over again throughout the day. My ole brain needs to over-use these new words in order for them to be remembered! We arrived in Miragoane at about 11AM. While the broker went into the shipyard offices, Leon and I had our picnic lunch in the back of the tap tap. Then came my favorite part – people watching! What a bustling little town! You could tell it was a seaport by the amount of merchandise displayed along the road and the number of vehicles that were bulging with bundles of items. We parked on the downward slope of a hill and watched the world from where we sat. Large trucks lined the sides of the road. Men would carry heavy loads of compacted clothing, wrapped in cardboard. They mostly carried them on one shoulder with their head so bent that it touched the opposite shoulder. The strain could be seen in their muscles and their eyes and the sweat that dripped off their faces. If they were not carrying bundles of clothes, they were carrying both large and small mattresses on top of their heads. It appeared seemed that they must be getting paid by the number of loads they carried because as soon as they hoisted a load onto a truck, they hurried back up the hill for another load. I must have seen the same guy carry 7 or 8 different loads in the time that we sat on the side of the road. In the heat, I would not even have made it down the hill with one load, let alone 7or 8. Then, there were all the other people to watch – those carrying huge televisions, those selling little plastic bags of cold water, those selling sun-dried eel, and the man carrying 4 or 5 live chickens in each hand. Each person would make a circuit through the town – down the hill, turning around, and then back up the hill – again and again! I had so much fun watching all of the comings and goings, I was not even too disappointed when I learned that we had traveled all this way in vain. The ship, containing the van, had not arrived on time! No surprise for Haiti! We did not return to Les Cayes empty handed, we had a camera full of people-watching shots!

This has been the week for traveling! I also visited a Catholic parish up in the mountains in a place called Pliche. The priest that had served there for 13 years had brought the area from a lonely little church to a thriving community complete with a radio station, a jam making and juice making industry (using grapefruit, guava, papaya and other Haitian fruits), a fish farm, a school, a woodworking shop that produces furniture and coffins, a bakery and a mill for grains. The entire complex has electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by using a generator, an inverter and solar power. The mountaintop view over the ocean and the cool breezes that it produces were very refreshing! Even the steep climb up to the elementary school had its rewards. I was greeted by beautiful flowers and I was even able to capture a hummingbird with my camera. All of this development is quite an accomplishment in 13 years time! Before leaving the area, we drove through the grounds of the largest hospital in Haiti, Hospital Lumiere. It is run by the Baptist Mission and would require another day of our time to visit all the different buildings located there. The road leading to Pliche is basically a bunch of boulders that four wheel vehicles have to maneuver over. It made me wonder why the largest hospital is located in such a hard-to-get-to place. Probably the land was extra cheap, as is usually the case in Haiti when purchasing land in an undeveloped location. I am sure there is more to the story than meets the eye!

“Back at the ranch”, we are busy working on completing benches for the grass-thatched church on Ile-a-Vache. We have started construction of the benches for the open air church at Kamaurice and we are assembling the beds for the additional boys that we will be admitting to the orphanage. Another mission team will be arriving at the end of April. One of the many things that they will be doing, while they are here, is to help us build the first cabin at Kamaurice. This cabin will initially be used as a parsonage for the pastor of the church. In the future, this will be one of many cabins that will be available to groups holding weeklong seminars or as a retreat that will offer a breath taking natural setting for its visitors. The final product will be an entire community, including homes for the orphans that have reached adulthood and an orphanage and a school. We rely on God to make this happen one-phase-at-a-time.

As I close out this communiqué, I write with my heart in my stomach. I just received an email from a doctor in Les Cayes seeking help for a 16 month old child who has been severely burned.  The doctor included photos. It breaks my heart! There is no medical care here for burns so severe. There is so much suffering here, but to see a little child suffering is especially heartbreaking! Please pray that God will open the doors for this little girl to come to the states for the needed treatment. Pray that the necessary paperwork process is done in record time!

Nora Nunemaker

Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time ………….

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