Thursday, June 30, 2011

Family Funny

Last week was very stressful for Mom.  The light at the end of her tunnel was that her friend Beth was coming for the weekend to fish.  Thursday night mom called Beth:

Mom: Ok, forget the Ambian; just bring some crack* when you come.
Other end: Hangs up.

Mom calls Beth back...

Mom: Beth, did I just call you?
Beth: Yes; I just answered the phone.
Mom: No, before this call?
Beth: No.
Mom: Oh no!  And replayed the previous conversation to Beth.
Beth: Well, when the cops come to my house, I'll just send them to yours...

Please note: my mother has never used, nor advocates the use of, crack cocaine.  She meant this in the most sarcastic way possible.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Out of Solitude

I read Out of Solitude by Henri Nouwen last night.  The book is small in size, yet large in conviction.  I knocked it out in about 30 minutes; totally worth it.

This nagging self-doubt is at the basis of so much depression in the lives of many people who are struggling in our competitive society (24).

What we see, and like to see, is cure and change.  But what we do not see and do not want to see is care: the participation in the pain, the solidarity in suffering, the sharing in the experience of brokenness (35).

Joy and sadness are born at the same time, both arising from such deep places in your heart that you can't find words to capture your complex emotions (54).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Today, marks the 31st year my parents have been married.

I did a tiny bit of research to see if I could figure out how many marriages last as long as mom and dad's has.  Based on what I looked at, over 36% of men 50 years and older and over 43% of women 50 years and older are divorced.  Regardless of statistics, kudos to them for making it work for such a long time!

Sweet time

Last night, my friend Mary Glenn came to Charleston for the night.  Our time together was filled with looking at my pictures from Haiti and telling stories, listening to her wedding plans, thinking through the future, a good home cooked meal (if I do say so myself), 14's, a walk around the neighborhood, and lots of laughing.  And I even let her check the USC baseball score from time to time.

It was a special treat for her to come and a special time together before she becomes Mrs. Eldridge and I don my gold hooker shoes.  July 9 will be here before we know it!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Such a nice weekend.

This past weekend was quite restful and enjoyable.  Caught up with a good childhood friend and met her baby.  Spent a lot of time getting re-acquainted with Folly Beach.  Exercised.  Enjoyed a delicious supper not cooked by me.  Danced at a local band's concert.  Tried City Church and liked it.  Fished.  Ate boiled peanuts and a yummy shrimp salad sandwich.  Laughed hard with my parents.  Just enjoyed Charleston...sometimes it feels like I live in paradise.

Funny story from Sunday:

I'm fishing with my dad, mom, and Beth (like another parent to me).  The three of them fished for 13 hours on Saturday which included Beth breaking one of her rods.  (Not a happy moment.)  But troopers that they are, they went out again on Sunday and let me join in the fun.  A fish took Beth's bait, she jumped up to grab the pole.  One hand was occupied so she used the other to take the pole out of the holder.  Oh snap!  She didn't have a good grip and that fish took the rod and reel into the water.

Dad, being the stud that he is, hopped overboard (super shallow in this creek) to find it.  I wish we had it on video.  Mom's instructing him to grid the area for the pole.  Beth is cussing like a sailor.  Several minutes later, just before dad heads back to the boat, he found the rod!  Low and behold if that fish still isn't on there!  He brings it close to the boat for us to net...there were those few seconds of fear on dad's face when he couldn't tell what kind of fish it was and it headed straight for his man parts.  Alas, he was spared.  Not only did dad retrieve the rod and reel, but snagged a nice sized red fish to boot!  It was pretty hilarious.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Can't Shake It

I just can't seem to shake Haiti.  It permeates so many of my thoughts throughout the day.  I assume this will end at some point, but I'm glad for it while it is start on my heart and in my head.

I can't say that I'm a huge fan of Christian music; I find a lot of it to be full of cheese and more comical than glorifying.  (Am I the only one?  Also, what is the correct way to act at a Christian concert?  It is so bizarre to me...I digress.)  However, I've always enjoyed Derek Webb, especially the old stuff.  Since Haiti, I've loved listened to him a lot and especially this song.  How I long for my life to reflect these words...

Derek Webb’s I Repent

I repent of my pursuit of America's dream
I repent of living like I deserve anything
My house, my fence, my kids, and my wife
In our suburb where we're safe and white
I am wrong and of these things I repent

I repent of parading my liberty
I repent of paying for what I get for free
The way I believe that I am living right
By trading sins for others that are easier to hide
I am wrong and of these things I repent

I repent judging by a law that even I can't keep
Wearing righteousness like a disguise to see through
The planks in my own eyes

I repent of trading truth for false unity
I repent of confusing peace and idolatry
Of caring more of what they think than what I know of what they need
And domesticating you until you look just likes me
I am wrong and of these things I repent

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Great Combo

I really like Bon Iver.  I really like Bonnie Rait's "I Can't Make You Love Me."  I'm loving the combination in the form of a cover.  Beautiful piano work.  Such a good voice.  Perhaps I've been listening to it on repeat off and on for several days now?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Just your every day conversation between friends.

Krissie:  I don't want to get old, EA
Me: Pooping your pants and going bat crazy isn't appealing to you?
Krissie:  Surprisingly, no.  I don't want to lose my mind.
Me: Maybe we'll head out while we're still lucid?

Because I'm always looking on the bright side...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lifelong Partnership

While in Haiti, Pastor John Paul said something that has stuck with me.  A few times he said, "I feel bad for you, because now that you are here, you are a part of us.  You come on a short term trip, but now you area a part of this ministry.  We ask you to pray for us and continue to partner with us."

I know I've only been home for a bit more than a week, but I can't get Haiti out of my head and heart.  Last night I was telling some friends about the trip and just burst into tears because I miss it.  I guess there's just so much to process through...lessons learned, thinking how this experience will and should change my life and worldview, etc...

Monday, June 20, 2011


My mom's mom went grey very early.  Apparently she used to die her hair all the time.  Mom said they never knew what color she'd come from the beauty parlor with!

My dad's mom didn't go grey until her 70's.  Even then, it wasn't bad until she had a stroke.  So, to say I'm hoping for Herring hair is an understatement.

This past Friday night I found my first grey hair!  No es bueno!


I've officially been using my homemade laundry detergent for several loads now.  Verdict:  I'm really digging it.  It was easy to make, easy to use, and gets the job done.

Friday, June 17, 2011

When they make a movie about my life

I'm pretty sure an SNL character would need to play me.  {Tina Fey, you available?!}

I just poured Crystal Light into my giant Nalgene bottle and shook it up.  But it didn't dissolve 100%.  A few minutes later I went to shake it again, only somewhere in those few moments, I'd unscrewed the lid.

My (straightened) hair, shirt, skirt, underwear, desk chair, desk, and keyboard are now drenched in sweet sticky goodness.  Only me...

In other news

I am more than 1/2 way through Atlas Shrugged.  Only 500 pages to go!

My cousin's baby, Pearl, has been transported to Atlanta!  She's in the hospital there which is so much better because the family can be in their home and friends/family visit the hospital.  Pear's a whopping 3 lb 3 oz now!

I'm heading to Atlanta again this weekend.  This makes the 3rd weekend in a row to be in Atlanta for some portion.  I'm excited to witness Amanda and Micah exchange vows, meet Barbara's baby Bennett, hang out with my college girls, but not so much excited about the boring 5 hour drive, each way.

I straightened my hair for the first time in a few months.  It's really long for me, but I'm liking the change for a day or so.

I was up too late packing and got up too early to make a pre-work Wal-Mart trip...could really use a nap right now.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Update on the Keens

Last night I opened the grocery bag where my Keens have been residing since Saturday evening.  Oh my word, it was like opening a bag of sewage; gross!  I washed them last night and they smell and look so nice now!  But the Deet certainly did erode some of the shoe.  Well worth it, though!

One more thing

A few months before we left for Haiti I had a dream that I was watching a bunch of black kids play soccer in a big, open, grassy field.  I was trying to play, but not really able.  Since I don't play soccer, or any sports really, and I don't hang out with a lot of black children, or any children really, on a regular basis, I assumed the dream would come to fruition in Haiti.

At some point during the trip I realized the kids we were around didn't play soccer and there was certainly no grassy field for them to play in.  There was "the view" as we called it that we saw each time we drove out of the orphanage.  It was a grassy field, the only grassy field I saw in Haiti, was an open space with a beautiful view of the mountains.  We always tried to get good pics out of the Land Cruiser windows.

On the last day I realized this was the place the kids played soccer.  The field, the kids, the bright blue sky -- it all looked like it did in my dream.   The dream had come to fruition -- I just wasn't as up close and personal to the scene as I thought I'd be.  It was a cool blessing from the Lord.

It was a very good thing

that I went to Haiti.  I am incredibly thankful for it.  I am in awe of the week spent there.

From the original idea to go, over a year ago, the Lord cultivated desires in my heart.  He paved the way for us to go to Haiti.  He built a team to go.  All of the details fell into place.  People came alongside me financially, prayerfully, and encouraging me in so many ways.

It has been fun to share stories on the blog about things that I saw and experienced.  I can't put all of it into words though.  I know that it was perhaps the best week of my life.  The Lord met me in so many ways.  He taught me much.  I hope that I won't soon forget the lessons learned there and the things seen.  I know life will go, and already has, back to normal.  But I hope its not completely the same -- I want to be different because of this experience.

Being back, I think my heart was happier in Haiti.  One life isn't better than the other, but I think I was more grounded.  The important things in life seemed important, while clothing/cars/bank accounts/comforts seemed less important.  Here, my mind constantly races over things that don't matter all that much in my day to life.  There, I was more concerned with others and basic needs; I fought to find hope and trust in the Lord.

I've really enjoyed these verses for the past month or so, but they are more relevant to me now.

Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Psalm 118:5-9
In my distress I prayed to the LORD, and the LORD answered me and set me free.  The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear.  What can mere people do to me?  Yes, the LORD is for me; he will help me.  I will look in triumph at those who hate me.  It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people.  It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.

The Departure

It was incredibly hard to say good bye to the kids I fell in love with.  It was hard for me to leave with certain parts of our construction project unfinished.  It was hard to drive back to Port au Prince and wonder if things will ever change.  My heart fell hard and fast for a place so completely foreign to me.

As our plane took off, I burst into tears.  The woman sitting next to me asked how long I'd been in Haiti.  I felt like a pansy replying, "one week."  But you know what?  A lot can happen in one week.

It felt good to land in Miami and be back on American soil.  Customs felt a bit like purgatory -- always waiting and it's miserable.  My first meal was a double bacon cheeseburger from Burger King (hey Mary Anne!) and it tasted damn good!  Meat without bones!  Our fast food is of a much higher caliber than nice restaurants in Haiti.

After a double mojito and saying good bye to Nick, the rest of our crew headed to ATL.  Maggie generously picked Weston and I up at the airport, swung us through the Wendy's drive through, and W and I made the trek back to Columbia that right.  Rolling in at 2:30, a nice hot shower was the perfect ending to a long, hard, sad day.  I got back to Charleston around 4 pm on Sunday...home felt good, yet different.


Since Nick is from outside LA and goes to school in Arizona, he's in a bit of a different world than the 5 of us that live in SC -- each of us in our respective hometowns actually.  Sheesh.  {Philip grew up all over, has lived all over, and travels all over for work, though he resides outside ATL.}

We'd often ask Nick how things were done in his neck of the woods and vice-versa.  One thing we discussed a lot were bros; I'm pretty sure I don't see any in Charleston.  Urban dictionary defines them as a usually white young male, found commonly in places like san bernardino county in california, as well as orange county. always, without exception, drive big lifted trucks, often white. has the name of their crew or whatever in big white letters on their back window (ie, "skin", "metal mulisha". wear: trucker hats off center, plug earrings, sunglasses, wife beater shirt or no shirt, sagging dickies shorts, high black socks, skater shoes or those black corduroy slipper things, have a lot of tatoos of things like stars.

Have you seen a lot of bros?

One time

I may have farted outside in Haiti.  I didn't think anyone heard me.  But, oh one kid did.  There's nothing like having a kid laugh at you and tell all of their friends that you farted in a language you can't understand.


I constantly thought of my Grammy while in Haiti.  She's the only orphan I know in my everyday world.

By the time she was 5 both of her parents had died.  She thinks it was cancer, though it wasn't diagnosed as such back then.  She had a brother that was a good bit older than her, and married pretty young, but she went to live in an orphanage after her parents died.  Over the years, her brother would call and tell her that he was coming to get her.  She would pack up her things and wait for him to come.  And he wouldn't.  And the process repeated itself.  {Can you imagine?}

When she was 12 the orphans sang at a church and she met Grace and Mike.  Soon after they took her in and became her foster parents, though Grace was only 22.  Grammy helped raise their kids and they remained close friends until Grace and Mike passed.

I couldn't help think of Grammy while at the orphanage...

The Kids

This little dude is named something that sounds like Beef-alo.  Naturally, with my Southern accent I said, "Oh, Buffalo."  I was constantly saying, "Hey Buffalo!"  To which he would respond, "Hey Elizabet!"

Looking sharp in his school uniform:

Though I steered clear of the livestock, he was not afraid.  There were two chickens and a cat running around all the time and random goats would wonder in and out.  Not only would Buffalo pick them up, but he also knows how to kill chickens, goats, pigs, and cows.  He told me he would probably do that for a living when he gets older.  I really loved my time with this 13 year old boy.  He was a great protector and made the small kids go to bed at night.  If I left my Nalgene somewhere he'd come bring it to me.  He is also the eldest brother of my Lovee, Seriah.  There were 6 kids in the family and they were all good looking!


How handsome is this dude?  He's Buffalo's younger brother and his personality is just as good as his looks.  He's sweet and easy to be around.  I read on Reformation Hope's website that he wants to be a comedian; I think he can pull it off.



For some reason I can't find a pic of him, but trust me, he's just as cute.


Estalli was perhaps the meanest kid I saw at the orphanage.  She wasn't afraid to be pushy or bossy and seemed to always get what she wanted.  If she was going to look out for anyone, it was her younger sister, Seriah, my lovee.  Estalli LOVED Leslie and wanted to be with her all the time.  When we were leaving, she sat crying big, fat tears -- more than any other kid there.  Leslie and I agreed that the hardest ones are usually the softest, too.



Just had to show one more.  So cute!  I don't have pics of Carmello or the other brother, but trust me, this was one good looking family {Buffalo, Rivaldo, Mario, Carmello, Estalli, and Seriah}.


This kid.  Oh, this kid.  He's tactful and would make a great hunter I think.  The first few days we were there he didn't say a word to us, but he would come sit by you just wanting to be  near you.  Then once he realized we were sticking around for a while, he'd chat more and became more interactive.  By the end of the week, he had no fear with any of us.  He's super stinkin cute and has an equally cute older brother, Wjebens.  

Steffan, 1 year old

Isn't he cute?  His mom was around some of the time; I think she's 16.  I didn't see her often, but Courtney had the distinct pleasure of watching this little tyke be nursed: no breast friend, no privacy, no touching the baby really.  To be honest, the 8 year olds at the orphanage took better care of him than his mom did (from what I could tell).  This kid is definitely being raised by a village.  Once in a while he wore a diaper; otherwise, you want to look out for puddles, if you catch my drift.


Jeff's 18.  He came to the orphanage two years ago because home life wasn't good.  He speaks good English and was a huge asset to us throughout the week.  He's involved with the Boy Scouts and will actually be coming to Georgia this summer.  I think it will rock his world; I'm excited (and a tiny bit nervous) for him.  He wants to be an electrician and I hope that happens.

There were lots of others.  

All with unique personalities and fun to be around.

Aren't they beautiful?

School Uniforms

The kids wore uniforms to school and the first morning we saw them was like Christmas morning we were all so delighted.

The tiny tots in yellow:

The yellow dress girls LOVED Courtney.  I think the love was mutual.  Bigger kids in red: 

All together:

Does it get any cuter than this?  The older children wore unis as well, but went off campus for school.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


The only other mission trip I've been on was to Mexico, Spring Break of my sophomore in high school.  I hadn't become a Christian (but would the following summer).  I was a bit of a smart ass (some things never change) and I think my parents made me go.  But I loved it and learned a lot.  The things I remembered seeing and learning came back so much more clearly while I was in Haiti.

I remember some of the kids faces.  I remember seeing people wait in bread lines.  I remember the poverty.  I remember doing construction and playing with kids.  I remember seeing people swim across the river and jump the fence into the United States.  I remember the food.  Things that were distant memories rarely remembered, came to me.

Haiti was much more impoverished.  Our living conditions in Mexico were a far cry from home, but involved a bed and bathroom in the room we stayed.  The food we ate was predominantly purchased in Texas and brought in, and the Mexican food we ate at supper was much easier for our bodies to consume than in Haiti.

I love that seeds were planted all those years ago.  12 years later my parents didn't force me to go, but God called me to go.  12 years later I have a deeper understanding of the way the world works - for better and for worse.  12 years later I am thankful to add this experience to my arsenal of life changing events.

The Ophanage

Is supported by MTW; more informatin here.

The predominant sponsor is Reformation Hope; more info here.

Turns out

Apparently this is common everywhere, but who knew that when boys wear shorts, they just lift up a pants leg to pee?!  Well, they do.  I saw it many, many times on the streets of Haiti.  This turned into a few conversations about the tactics men use to relive themselves as well as wang hang.

Wake up call

Our first night in Haiti, John Paul told us that in Haiti, the sun comes up at 5 am and by 7 am you feel as though it is noon.  I was hoping he was wrong; he wasn't.  Each morning I woke up between 4:30 and 6:00 -- more often than not getting up around 5 am.

The roosters start up around 4:30 am and really get their party started around 5 am.  SO loud!  SO glad I didn't grow up/live on a farm.  Roosters are not my cup of tea in the morning.

Enjoying your beverage in style

Of course I took a koozie with me to Haiti.  It was perfect for my glass bottled Cokes and Prestige.  One night at supper at, you guessed it, American Style Chicken! John Paul commented on my koozie.  What was it?  I, being me, got up and walked down to his end of the table and said in my slowest, clearest, loudest words, along with hand motions, "It is a koozie.  It keeps your hands dry.  And your drink cold."  In no time I was reminded by everyone else that John Paul spoke English fluently.  Yes, of course I made an ass of myself.  What would a day be if I didn't?!  Anyway I left my koozie with John Paul on our way out of Haiti.  Hopefully he'll be using it to keep his hands dry and his Prestiges cold.

The Pizzaria

Puns were a running theme of our trip.  Some of us are better at making puns, ahem Courtney, than others, ahem Philip.  On Friday we ate lunch at a restaurant other than American Style Chicken (woot woot!).  Basically it was like eating in a gas station.  All of the food looked delicious, yet when you're told not to eat the meat or uncooked veggies, you're left with pizza.  It was SO good!  As we're sitting there Nick says, "I hope no one gets the pizzaria."  Hahaha.  Good one!  Well, only one of us got the pizzaria.  And obviously that one person was me.  Again, thanks Sipro!

Bags of Water

The kids got a bag of water each day.  Please imagine a ziplock bag sans ziplock.  Filled with water.  They would bite a corner off and go to town.  Interestingly enough, I never saw one break -- in the orphanage or outside.  One day, I saw a truck full of plastic bags each containing about 20 bags of water.  What a shame if that truck gets rear ended.

Spanish in Haiti

Not many folks speak English throughout Haiti.  Since I was in an area where my native tongue was obsolete, I naturally deferred to the only other language I know a tiny bit of: Spanish.  Great, they don't speak Spanish in Haiti either.  I know no French or Kreyol.  Bummer.  So then a few kids would say, "oh you speak Spanish?!"  To which I had to reply, "Un poco..."  Haha.  I pretty much only learned how to say, Bonjur, Monsuier, Madame, Merci, and Arovwaw (of which I know I butchered the spellings of each of those I'm sure!)

Big Sexy Hair

Of course Courtney didn't want her hair to be flat in Haiti so she packed her large bottle of Big Sexy Hair mousse for the trip.  And of course it was packed in my backpack as a checked bag.  And of course it exploded all over my bag!  My scrub pants were soaked in that stuff.  My toiletries covered as well.  And of course Courtney's hair was as flat as ever.


We were told to bring bug spray that is at least 40% deet with us.  I couldn't find that at my local Wal-Mart (not altogether surprising).  But Courtney was able to find 40% AND 98.11% which we called 100% deet.  This junk was worn all the time.  We put 40% on after our nightly shower -- just for the walk to our tent.  And 100% was put on in the morning and throughout the day.

We joked that we might be sterile after using 100%.  I'm not sure if my lady bits were affected or not, but I know that my shoes were.  The deet started eroding my Keens!   I don't have a good picture, but trust me, it happened.  That meant that I had red Keen coloring all over my feet and legs throughout the day.  Ha.  Regardless, it was worth it.

Also, one morning when deeting up, I accidentally got some in my eye!  It burned!  We read the instructions and it said that you should flush with water for 15-20 minutes.  That is some serious stuff!  I put in some eye drops and thought I'd be fine.  But the deet kept burning.  Luckily Weston knew how and was able to flush my eye for a bit.  I'm sure the others were thinking they caught it on video because I'm pretty sure I looked like a flailing idiot.  Oh well.  The good news: my eye is still working.  Guess the flushing was a success!

Pastor John Paul

John Paul grew up in Haiti.  He started having dreams and visions about being a pastor in Haiti.  He jokingly said, "I  had dreams and visions that I'm too Presbyterian (PCA) to believe now."  Haha.  When he was 9 years old, he went to a revival with his mom.  He said there were people everywhere, but the Canadian evangelist pointed to him in the crowd and said, "You are going to go to America and get training and come back here to be a pastor."  John Paul  was skeptical and didn't want to be a pastor.  Though no mail system exists, months later this Canadian fella found his mom and sent a stack of papers -- plane tickets, visa paperwork, etc.

At the age of 9, John Paul boarded a plane from Haiti to Miami.  He got to the airport and sat around.  He spoke no English and finally someone found a Haitian to speak to him.  Turns out he missed his flight to New York by hours, but they worked it out and he got there.  He always had a place to live, clothes to wear, food to eat, and school to attend.  He went to seminary.  On the day of his seminary graduation, a man greeted him and asked if he knew who he was.  John Paul did not.  The man was the Canadian evangelist -- he'd been paying for John Paul all of these years.  He handed John Paul an envelope with $1,000 cash (early 80's) and told him that now he could return to Haiti to be a pastor.

John Paul didn't want to lie (fully) to this man, but he had no intentions of becoming a pastor or moving back to Haiti.  So he took about $100 and bought a ticket to Haiti...for a visit.  He wanted to be an engineer, so he moved back to New York and put himself through school to get an engineering degree.  He's done everything from driving a cab to working in a restaurant (hence the opening of American Style Chicken!).  Somewhere along the way, he married and had four children.

He moved from New York to Atlanta, Georgia and worked for Georgia Power & Electric for one year.  Then he left to open his own electrical engineering firm.  He was making a lot of money and had several people working for him.  He lived in a nice house and drove nice cars and was living the American Dream.  He started having dreams and visions again of him being a pastor in Haiti.  This culminated one night when he had a nightmare: He was approached by a man saying that he would die if he did not return to Haiti to become a pastor.  John Paul woke up and was processing through the dream when his wife woke up startled.  She told him she'd just had the strangest nightmare.  A man was going to kill John Paul if he did not go to Haiti and be a pastor.  She described his outfit and it was the same man in both of their dreams!

John Paul hadn't told his wife about the evangelist or going to seminary...until that night.  His wife told him that regardless of his own desires, he had to go back to Haiti and be a pastor.

{The kids stayed in Atlanta to go to school.  They are still there and come to Haiti for the summers.  They were arriving the day after we left.  His wife commutes back and forth from ATL to Haiti.}

John Paul arranged to stay with a relative when he returned.  Upon landing in Haiti, a woman he had never seen before walked up and said, "here are my 7 children."  John Paul told her he didn't want them, that he had 4 kids of us own.  But she said, "take them," and walked away.  So, he had 7 kids to take care of.   He didn't know them, know their names or anything about them.  His relative let them stay with her one night.  One night.  Then he rented a hotel room for them for a bit.  They were his first 7 orphans.  Eventually, he purchased land and started the orphanage.  Today, there are a total of 63 kids he calls his children.  People drop kids off by the gate because they know he won't turn them down.  He is the pastor of the church on the orphanage property that has over 2,000 members (not all go every Sunday).  He works with hundreds of pastors in Haiti to teach theology and equip them to serve the nation of Haiti.  His phone rings all the time with people asking him questions...apparently in Haiti the pastor of incredibly high authority and they want to go directly to him.

I can't imagine dropping a kid off.  I can't imagine being a kid that has been dropped off.  I can't imagine taking all of these kids in.  Yet, John Paul does it because it is what God made him to do.  You can't make things like this up.  It is so cool to see how the Lord worked in his life and continues to shape him into what God ordained for him to be.  I can't wait to see what happens in his life and the lives of the kids he cares for, workers he employs, people he pastors, and community members that hopefully see John Paul and his ministry as a glimmer of hope.

I love that:
  1. John Paul didn't want to come back to Haiti, but the Lord was persistent, and eventually he was obedient.
  2. God fights for us and does not let us go.
  3. There is NO telling what God has planned for any of our lives.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Scenery

The treeline and above is simply gorgeous.  Palm and coconut trees dot the skyline.  The sky is bright and clear blue.  The white clouds pepper the sky.  There are mountains in the background.  It is a truly a Caribbean sight to behold.

Then your eyes drift to street level below and things take a turn from picturesque to grungy.  Trash all over the place.  Unpleasant living conditions.  Livestock running amok.  Hideous roads.  Dirt and pools of water littered with rocks and broken cinder blocks.

But I have to say, the people are beautiful.

Personal Space

Is not a concept to Haitians.  I guess you can't demand personal space when there are so many people living all around you and/or sharing your house, bed, sidewalk, tap tap.

I enjoy personal space and need "Elizabeth Ann time" every day.  Two things that went by the waste side while in Haiti.  Personal space lost because kids are on you at all times: touching you, you're playing with them, they're playing with your hair, etc.  But you know what?  I loved it.  They needed to be loved and honestly, they loved me just as much in return.

Elizabeth Ann time didn't exist because I woke up in a tent with Courtney, ate breakfast and did a devotional with the team, was around kids, did construction with the team and Haitian workers, played with kids, went to supper in the car and ate with the team, got home and played with kids, then showered and went to bed.  Sometimes I stayed in the bathroom a few minutes later just for a breather.  But the bathroom was stifling, a hot box if you will.  God was very gracious with me and I didn't have a personal space/alone time breakdown while there.

Apparently as we were leaving Courtney and Leslie had a convo that went something like this:

Leslie: I really enjoy EA; she's super fun and bubbly.
Courtney: Yeah, she was this week.
Leslie: Is she not like this all the time?
Courtney: No, she gets dark and twisty.  And its a good thing for all of us that she wasn't this week!

Courtney told me this and I said, I was just thinking that I am in dire need of alone time and will probably be dark and twisty this coming week as I process the trip.  The alone time has been amazing!  I'm processing for sure, but haven't been too D&T...another blessing!

Living Among the People

I'm SO glad that we lived at the orphanage while we were there, rather than being bused in.  Though I'm not sure where we would have stayed anyways; its not like there's a Hilton around the corner.  It was so good to be around the kids any time we weren't working/they were in school.

The Poverty

I think the hardest pill for me to swallow was the fact that MOST of the world does not live like I do, but lives like Haiti.  Though it is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, it is a much clearer picture of the world at large than where I come from.  And that is a sobering reality.  It puts many of my complaints into perspective.

Aesthetically, the thing that stuck out to me most was the trash.  It was everywhere.  No trash cans.  No garbage men to collect it.  Just trash all over the ground and built up in piles until it is burned.  I can only imagine the adverse effects on one's health by living among-st it: the air you breathe, the water you drink, the increase in disease, etc.

Jobs are hard to come by.  Not like here -- like 85% of jobs consist of selling stuff on the road.  The government is corrupt.  There is  no water system.  There is no postal system.  There is no trash system.  There are no hundreds of government or private sponsored programs to help you.  There are millions of orphans roaming the streets.  There are people everywhere.  There are people peeing all over the place.  There are shacks and tents in every direction.  When it rains, it floods.  This means the streets get even worse and people die because of mudslides/homes falling apart.  This happened when we were there.  There are only 2 nationally paved highways.  This makes travel bumpy and challenging.

We didn't live 3rd world in a 3rd world nation.  This was hard for me.  We had space to sleep in (tents we brought) and a real bathroom.   Though it was about a block away, and you can't flush it often, and you can't flush toilet paper, and the shower is a 1 inch diameter stream like a garden hose, we had it quite posh.  I took pics of the kids bathroom situation and living quarters but on Weston's camera.  I'm not going to lie, though it was hard for me that we had it better than the kids, I was glad.  The smells of feces, urine, and mildew were hard to ingest.  The cramped space would have been hard.

Don't get me wrong, these 63 kids have it good.  They have a place to sleep, get an education, receive two meals a day, and clean water daily.  Outside of the orphanage walls, it is much, much, much worse.  I told Philip that I wondered how I'd do if you dropped me off in one of the countless shacks we saw.  He told me I couldn't do it.  I believe him.

The government came in and told John Paul that not all 63 kids could live at the orphanage; they could only keep 48 kids there.  I asked what the government's plan was for the 15 kids getting the boot.  He told me nothing, they would go on the street.  Seems absolutely ludicrous to me.  Praise the Lord church members took them in and the kids come back for school, etc.

Being born in America means my body isn't made for Haiti.  I can't drink their water, eat lots of the food, handle the heat as well, etc.  Sometimes it made me feel like a pansy.  I also questioned "why me?  why them?"  That is only up to God, and so I tried not to dwell on it.

We asked Pastor John Paul how things differed after the earthquake.  He said it looked just the same only without the tents.  Ugh.  Honestly, the quake could have happened one week prior to us being there and it would have looked the same.  Nothing has been rebuilt.  Their buildings are concrete and hanging on a bare piece of re-bar.  I helped make that concrete -- its equal parts dirt/rock, sand, and concrete mix -- mixed with water.  The good concrete erodes and your left with rocks glued together.

Friday we took a trip to Port au Prince and people are doing business and living under buildings that could crumble with one swing of a hammer.  It is so incredibly foreign to me.  It is the only thing most of the Haitians know.

Gas is $8/gallon.  I didn't see a  lot of prices, but what I saw and asked about were 1:1 with American prices.  They don't manufacture many things in Haiti, so almost everything is imported.  By the time goods pass through 5 or so hands, and has been marked up each time, the prices are about what we would pay here.  Only, they don't have incomes.  I honestly don't see a way out.  I think its working on things one piece at a time and hoping change happens.  I'm not holding my breath though.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Team

Thanks to a tip from Shannon Innes, I randomly contacted Philip that works at MTW and that was the start of a trip/team/friendships.  Several months, phone calls, and emails later, the trip was ready to come to fruition.  There were 7 of us -- a perfect number.  Everyone was old enough to take care of themselves, and its small enough to fit into a Land Cruiser + driver, and look around and make sure we're all together.

Philip, our leader:

Me, Courtney, and Weston.  Deemed "Three's Company" for this trip.

Leslie, a friend of Courtney's in Spartanburg.  She's a middle school teacher which definitely came in handy!  Also, she spoke some French -- huge plus in Haiti!

{The girls LOVED playing with our hair!  All of us had curly, textured hair -- except for Courtney.  Hers was also the shortest and straightest.  The gals would touch Court's and then touch ours to compare.  So funny!}

Cathy aka Catherine is a childhood friend of Leslie's.  She was great.

Nick was the last addition to the trip and was by the youngest, also the only one not living in the South.  We all decided he was the MVP of the team.  Being only 20 he had a lot more energy, ha!  Which meant he could do the most physical work on the construction site, ate the food yet was the only one that never got sick, learned the most Kreyol, learned the kids' games, taught the kids new games, etc.  All day long you'd hear, "Nick, Nick, Nick!"as he had several kids hanging on him.

All in all, our team got along really well.  I'd say our personalities meshed well and we had a lot of fun together.  Work hard, be silly, get to know new folks, share more about the Lord with each other.  Good times!  Some quasi team shots:

American Style Chicken

I wish we'd taken more pics of this joint, but I'll show you what I do have.  Pastor John Paul started the restaurant in downtown La Plain, in hopes that older kids at the orphanage can work there -- cook and serve, etc.  And it may provide jobs for kids when they are too old to stay at the orphanage.  I think it is a great idea.

I seriously wish I'd taken a picture of the menu.  The breakfast menu included spaghetti and grits with liver.  I don't even want to know what would have been served.  But I'm sure it would have included bones.

The pros:

  • Coca-Cola (and 7up) in glass bottles made with real cane sugar.  We also had these at the orphanage (for us).
  • Prestige.  Haitian beer.  Tastes similar to Red Stripe.  Very good.
  • Fried akra = fried okra.  So good!
  • Amazing onion rings.
  • Decent french fries.
  • A disco tech of sorts for dancing.  I was really the only one that took part.  Dance with a Haitian in a nightclub...check.
The cons:
  • All the other food.  The fried chicken was doable -- good crust, but the chicken does not taste the same.  They use parts of food where we use an entire breast or cut of beef, etc.  
  • The bathroom situation -- see a previous post.
  • Was like a casino: you'd walk in at 5, bright day light and before you know it it is 8!  Haitian buildings don't have windows, but a few slits in the concrete.  These slits were covered with fans (praise God!), but that meant no light streaming in + bright Caribbean colored walls + a multi colored disco ball light going off in the corner + loud music.
  • The wait staff hadn't mastered bringing out multiple plates at one time.  Haha -- no arms lined up with plates like you see here.  One at a time on a giant tray!
  • Eating there every night.

Mom saw this picture and said, "Look at Weston!  Who's that girl?"  Me, "Really?!"  Her, "Oh!  I've never seen you in a headband thing."  Too funny.

Recovery Process

It is hard to put what I "learned" into words.  I know the Lord showed me a lot and I don't want to forget those things.  Hope stands out for me the most in two ways:

1.  Praying for people on the spot.  I loved sitting with a kid and praying that his/her life would be different.  That they would be used to change Haiti and the world.  That God would raise them up to be strong, Godly leaders.  I also loved praying for healing -- be it a messed up tooth, open sore, umbilical cord hernia, etc.  While I didn't see anyone being healed on the spot, I know the Holy Spirit can do anything and I hope that healing occurs, even if I don't witness it.

I loved the idea of praying for people because I'm trusting God to instill hope and to make changes that I have absolutely no ability to do.

2.  Haiti is not the land of opportunity.  I never picked up on "The Haitian Dream."  In talking with one of my favorites, I asked what his dream was -- while he understood me, he couldn't grasp a dream to talk about.  Ugh.  Breaks my heart thinking about it.  BUT that is only when I look at things through my eyes.  I have to remember that I am only blessed by the things I have, the hopes and dreams I have, and the faith I have that things in my life and others' might change because of the salvation I cannot earn in Jesus Christ.  I am no more righteous, no more deserving, no more worthy of God's grace and love than anyone else.  And I have to have hope that as Jesus saves souls in Haiti, and He is/will, the hope will follow...not to make enough money to buy a shack with a picket fence and 2.5 goats, but hope that there is freedom in Christ, hope that the Lord can do all things, and hope that their world can be redeemed.

I don't want to forget this week, yet I know sooner than later my life will fall into its old's hoping that though my activities return to normal, my heart remains changed.

Pi, Pi, Adpi!

One night on the way to American Style Chicken for supper, I saw the most surprising thing: a Haitian man in an ADPi t-shirt!  Courtney and I loved it!  AND I happened to be wearing one of two ADPi shirts I'd packed.  It was so fun and random to see in Haiti!

Once we arrived at ASC, we were greeted with one of the harsh realities of Haiti: power is inconsistent.  I mean, you get electricity a few hours a day -- on a good day.  ASC was HOT without the fans running.  I decided to step out for a bit and snap some pics of passersby.  Courtney told me I wasn't allowed to find the fella in the ADPi shirt (because too dangerous) and I agreed that I would not.

Well, upon stepping outside I mentioned that to Philip and he said he'd walk me down there!  With Philip and Nick escorting me, I found my man!  So fun!

Oh, yes

The day before I got sick and pooped my pants in the tent, Courtney got sick and vomited in a plastic grocery bag in the tent.  Don't worry, it had a whole in it.  I grabbed another to double bag it.  Epsie -- only a little bit of vomit got on the actual tent.  Nothing a towel and some Purell can't handle.

On Being a White Girl in Haiti

When we arrived at the airport in Port au Prince, the and leader of the orphanage, Pastor John Paul, picked us up.  We were to ride in his Toyota Land Cruiser from the airport to the orphanage, while a tap tap (aka taxi = truck where the bed has been converted by having a roof and seating in it) would follow with our luggage.  Weston and Nick asked if they could ride on the tap tap with the luggage and that was fine.  Of course, I wanted to do the same, and hopped on!  When the Haitian tap tap driver saw me on the back of the tap tap he said I couldn't ride.*

Our team leader apologized to me and I got off and headed to the Land Cruiser.  I can't remember a time when I felt so discriminated against.  Just because I'm a girl.  I'd be lying if I said the feminism side of me didn't come out and I was super pissed/hurt.

I grew up with a mom that told me I could do anything.  As long as I could keep up, I could do anything boys could do.  I was hammering, etc. with my dad at the age of 4.  I never felt limited as a lady.  Today, I don't want to be judged for being a girl, but on my ability.  Which is why I think it struck me so harshly: this man didn't know me; he barely saw me.  I guess it did give me a glimpse of discrimination and what millions of people experience everyday.

Flash forward to a few days later.  We're building the basketball court at the orphanage -- cementing the court.  We had two Haitian guys working with us and showing us how to do it (the Haitian way).  Philip told us they were glad for our help, but yes, they were making fun of us a bit (understandable) and weren't used to seeing girls do this type of work.

As the man was smoothing concrete, I noticed an extra trowel, picked it up, hunkered down in the dirt/poo water/cement alongside him and went to work.  I'm certain he and his buddies made fun of me at first, but at the end of the day, he was used to me mimicking his every move.  At the start of the next day, I grabbed the trowel and we went to work together as a team.  By the end of that day, he was letting me finish a project alone and would grab me to start on the next thing.  I also received one of the highest compliments, well a compliment that I don't think I'll ever forget: he told me I could come work for him!

The Lord granted me favor and diligence to work aside this fella and I loved it.  To me, it redeemed the tap tap incident.  And if I ever post that I've left Charleston to lay concrete in Haiti, you'll know who I'll be working with.

* I recounted this story for Jenn and her eyes got huge and she said, "EA, how'd you respond?!"  I told her that I didn't fly off the handle as she probably expected.  Haha.

My Lovee

Spending time with kids at the orphanage was incredible.  I loved our time with them and so many of them touched me in ways I hope I never forget.  As is my tendency in other relationships, I got close to fewer kids, but hope that our time together was deeper and meaningful.  I don't want to pick a favorite, but I can't help it.  Her name is Serriah (sp?) but I called her Lovee.  At 3 or 4, and a big beautiful smile, she would melt anyone's heart.

She'd run to me when she saw me and I would say, "Hey Lovee!"  Then she'd say the same to me.  A few days into the trip she'd return my, "Hey Lovee!" with "I love you."  Ugh, my heart is breaking just thinking about it...miss this little one so much.  

How could you not fall in love with this little princess?

My prayer is that she's raised up to be a light in a dark world for Haiti...rather than becoming a statistic of rape, violence, teen pregnancy, etc.  It is so hard to look at her and hope that she's able to have hopes and dreams and goals and not succumb to the junk just around the corner.


This is fitting today -- such a reminder to keep my new friends in my prayers.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Would you rather?

Wake up in your tent in Haiti one morning at 4:30 am and fart.  Only to realize it was more than a fart, if you know what I mean.  Run downstairs, outside across the campus, and to the bathroom to have an explosion, if you know what I mean.


Eat a meal at American Style Chicken restaurant in Haiti and go to the bathroom before you head back to the campus.  It is pitch black, definitely a squatter, if you know what I mean, and have an explosion, if you know what I mean.  The toilet does not flush; there's a sink, but no faucet.  You toss your toilet paper on the floor because trash cans don't exist.  And when it is too late, and a bit of light shines in, you realize your aim wasn't perfect, if you know what I mean.

Yes, I shat my pants.  Yes, I exploded (literally) in a grungy public restroom.  Yes, I got the cholera in Haiti.  And, yes, I have recovered, mostly.  Thanks, Sipro!

The first night

Courtney and I scurried into the tent for a long night's sleep after a long day.  I was SO excited to hit the sack, the sleep sack.  I fall asleep to my tv at home, but the iPod would need to suffice for the week.  I popped a Benadryl and got ready.  I'm not going to lie, sleeping in the tent was hot.  Excited to be protected from the mosquitos, ahem malaria, but more excited that we had two fans to help beat the heat.  After laying there for an hour or so, I finally drifted off to the land of nod.

A street party of some sort awoke us all off and on during the night.  The pavilion attached to where were staying had a tin roof and a few nails must have come loose/out.  How would I know that?  The roof slamming into itself.  All.  Night.  Long.  Around 2 am, Courtney and I both woke up and realized it would start raining.  We got out of our bug haven to get our towels from the clothes line outside and bring them inside.  Upon re-entering the tent, all of my hair got caught up in Courtney's fan!  OMG!  Praise the Lord she was able to get it out!  I tossed and turned the rest of the night, but got enough sleep to get the job done.

Sadly, my hair getting stuck in the fan was a huge party foul: it burned the motor out.  Yes, that means that we were down to one fan for the rest of the week.  Luckily, these white gals were able to survive regardless.


It is hard to express my first thoughts of seeing Haiti...the best way I can sum it up is this: (1) it reminded me of being in NYC where there's always someone wanting to make a buck by doing something you're not interested in having them do...but times 10 (2) I was immediately as desensitized to the poverty in Haiti as I am to violence on TV in America.  It was everywhere.

Like any city, people were all over the place.  I loved seeing the people and trying to soak it all in.  I would have loved to walk around talking to random strangers, getting their stories, seeing what their lives were really like...but it was way too unsafe for that (or so I'm told.  The invincible side of me doesn't think so, but I know I'm wrong.  Ha.)

The orphanage we were staying/working at was 12 miles outside of Port au Prince in La Plain.  12 miles takes about 45 to 60 minutes.  Part of the travel included riding on one of two paved national highways.  The other part included bumps, bumps, and more bumps.  We got to the orphanage and were immediately bombarded by children willing and wanting to love us and to be loved on.  It was a bit overwhelming, but in a great way.  Without thinking, you find a kid, pick him up, hug him, and try to make a friend.

Eventually, we went to set up camp.  And when I say camp, I mean camp.  The fellas shacked up in a room downstairs while the ladies occupied some vacant space upstairs.  Courtney and I borrowed a tent from Epsie and accumulated some sleep mats and sleep sacks.  We had two battery powered fans and iPods to help us fall asleep.  We Deeted up and headed down for supper.

I'm going to be honest: I've come to appreciate meat in America in ways I never thought possible.  I take for granted the fact that I can order a piece of chicken and it comes in one piece, typically a breast without any bones.  I'll say this: we continued to joke throughout the week that our food was "bone in."  Seriously, you had to look out or else you'd be chomping down on some unwanted marrow.  Fried  plantains and some various fried meats later, we hung out for a bit and then decided to shower before bed.

The orphanage had guest showers that were pretty nice.  You're not able to drink the water or flush toilet paper.  There's also the motto, "If its yellow, let it mellow; if its brown, flush it down."  The shower had a stream unlike my shower at home, yet nothing to complain about.  Though the water was cold, it felt great and helped un-stickify you.  After showering, Courtney and I headed across the campus to the tent (oh, yes, I forgot to mention the bathrooms are quite a bit detached).  We settled in for a long winter's nap...


6.2.11 -- Leave work and head to Columbia.  Spend the night with Jenn & Ryan in their new house!  Jenn and I ate at Moe's and got to catch up - great!

6.3.11 -- Meet Courtney and Weston in Columbia and head to ATL.  Drinks with Maggie & Andrew.  Supper at Maggies (amazing homemade pizzas!) with Steven & Mary Alice!  Courtney, Weston, and I rearranged our suitcases and backpacks to get all of our gear situated.

6.4.11 -- Maggie graciously takes us to the airport.  We meet most of the team and head to Miami.  We pick up our remaining team member and make the trip to Haiti. 

I'm Proud to be an American

The trip to Haiti was incredible (lots of stories to come!), but I'm thankful to be back on US soil!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I made jorts last year, but never wore them.  They needed some tweaking which took place last weekend.  I have to say: one wear and it was love at first sight.  A new summer favorite!

Try to Manage

While I try to blog on the reg, I'll be taking a bit of a hiatus for the next week or so.  I'm heading to Columbia after work today, will head to ATL Friday, and Saturday 7 of us will embark on a trip to Haiti. Prayers are welcomed.  I'm sure I'll have lots of stories when I return!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Shred Wrap-up

Well, it is June.  I can't believe how quickly the year has flown by!  I have to say, I'm thankful to be in June and out of "Shred a day for the month of May."  I started strong, but unfortunately didn't finish strong.  Fail.  But I'm hoping to get back into it sometime in June.  Until then, walking is my exercise of choice.

I applaud Maggie and Tracy for doing it all the way!

Great Dog

I've been on a bit of a hot dog kick lately.  Typically plain ketchup on a toasted bun works for me.  But last night I decided to spice things up a bit.  I cooked my dog in a cast iron skillet (too lazy to grill) along with a split and seeded jalapeƱo pepper.  Once the bun was toasted, I put a layer of ketchup on there.  Then I julianned the pepper and placed in the bottom of the bun.  Next, the dog; to finish off, I put a layer of shredded cheddar on there.  Popped it in the microwave for 30 seconds and then let the cheese finish melting.

I have to say, it was pretty awesome!