Living The Life That God Has For Us....

God's Plumbline Ministries is called to repair devastation in the lives of God's people allowing restoration both physically and spiritually. Providing creative solutions for employment, education and life skills allowing God to repair and restore hope.  Empowering each community to establish a secure foundation both inside and out, while keeping in tact God given talents and uniqueness, not focusing on man's ways but God's ways.  Developing working relationships within social and economic circles, working hand in hand with community leaders to bring the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. 

Monday, March 31, 2008

In Joy vs Enjoy

As I walked this morning I saw a sign that caught my attention. Many times you see things here that are spelled wrong or they are said in ways that are not correct because of the lack of understanding of the English language. Today it was the later. The sign said,
"In Joy Bar".

I laughed at first and told Shelley to look at the sign. We had the same thought about the great life lesson that it was for all of us to live our lives by.
Maybe we would ENJOY our lives if we lived IN JOY.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Smell...

This past Monday Shelley and I started walking in the mornings. I have always liked walking in the morning, secretly always liking the idea of being a runner. Now I hang out with Beth who will run the Boston Marathon next month. I am the kind of person who can only stay in the house just so long with out getting cabin fever, so walking has always been good for me. It helps me clear my head and gives me a regular prayer time. While we lived in Florida I had gotten out of the habit of walking, so now I am really paying the price since I am so out of shape and Shelley's legs are twice as long as mine, I am enjoying myself none the less.

I was thinking it would be a good idea to try and explain what it is like to walk on the streets here. It is so far from walking in my nice quite neighborhood in the States that I don't really know where to start. This picture really needs something like "smell-o-vision", if there is such a thing.

Here I go:

1. TAP TAPS: Dozens of them going up and down the road making many stops along the way picking up people just starting their day. Tap-taps line the side of the road so you have to make the choice to weave in and out or go around. Going around puts you in the middle of the street dodging what is coming in front of you. Weaving in slows you down some and puts you on the edge of the car catcher.

2. CAR CATCHER: After my walk on Wednesday I have come to the understanding that cleaning the car catcher is the one job I could never do here in Haiti. I used to think I couldn't be the street butcher, but I have changed my mind. The car catcher is a cement ditch on the side of the road that is about waist deep. It not only catches cars if you get too close, it catches water, trash, food, mud and of course it is also where all the pee-pee ends up. For months on end all of these things collect in the car catcher creating a wicked nasty black slim/trash mixture that you can smell for blocks - as seen in the picture. (When Caleb Hojara was a little boy he asked me if you could die from the smell? I am thinking it could happen.) A group of guys get together with shovels and stand in the car catcher scooping out this stuff on to the road. Now logic tells you that a big dump truck will be right behind them to pick it up and take it away. Sorry, this is not always what happens. It sits on the streets for a few weeks while it all ends up back in, you guessed it, the car catcher!! Leaving behind the smell. I don't really know why they dig it out and don't take it away - job security? I have no idea.

3. Food Vendors: Breakfast, lunch or dinner. You name it you can buy it!! Rice, beans, chicken, meat pockets, fruits, veggies, goat, the list goes on and on!!

4. Anything and Everything Vendor: This is what I would call walking in the middle of a flea market. The street is full of people selling anything and everything you will need. If you are white it is best to spot what you are looking for and send a Haitian back for you so you don't have to pay what is often called "white boy tax"! If I had to sit on the street all day I would call it "give me a break tax"!

5. Creek Beds: What you would call a road here can often look more like a dried up creek bed. This makes walking quickly a real challange. At times I am convinced this is why so many people do in fact walk here. They don't really want to drive because they can make better time on foot than you can in a vechile.

I am guessing you are thinking why on earth would you walk in all of that. My answer is - I really am enjoying myself. It was like when I learned to ride a motorcycle and saw things I had never seen on roads I had driven day after day. You loose track of how many times people yell "blan" at you and move in to a whole differnt place and can enjoy the culture and people. I can say that now that I don't need Advil every four hours for the pain in my legs and feet.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sun Rise Service

Happy Easter!

This morning we got up at 4:15 a.m. so that we could all meet together and have a 6:00 a.m. sun rise service on top of the mountains over looking Haiti. We met together as a church so we could sing and pray over the city of PAP and all of Haiti. We had a small breakfast and moved down to our church to meet up with everyone and have a 9:30 service. It is so good to be connected with a home church that you really love. After church Byron and Shelley had a great lunch with about sixty-five people. We watched our lobster children swim for awhile and enjoyed our friends. Oh, we can't forget home made vanilla ice cream and brownies!!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Finally, A Beach Day!

We have been in Haiti since November 26 and have not been to the beach yet. Personally, I think that there is something wrong with that, others would say, "only fake missionaries go to the beach". We had planned to go for a couple weeks since the kids didn't have school on Good Friday and we didn't have sewing school either.

The beach is about an hours drive on a good day and can be filled with many adventures. We have a few friends who drive this road to church each week and I am pretty sure they should get some kind of special certificate for advanced driving skills. You only get this certificate if you can stay on the road, not closing your eyes and screaming every time a cameo goes past you with animals and people hang off the top and sides just barely missing your truck and taking off the mirror as they go past you at about eighty miles per hour.

When we finally got to the beach Parker came to me and said, "Mom, I saw seven dead animals and one naked person!" (I, however, lost track after two dead donkeys.) I am also pleased to report that on the way home the naked lady was finally looked upon with compassion in her community and given under ware and a shirt, but still standing on the side of the road.

We had a great day at the beach filled with swimming, cliff diving, snorkeling and kayaking. We all look and feel like one of the seven lobsters we got for $20 that I boiled after we got home. Haiti's beaches are so beautiful, but not the place to run out of sun block.

As we sat on the beach, we looked at each other and said, "can you believe we really live here". I guess with our personalities our parents knew we would always do something like this. It is an adventure and we are loving it!

p.s. Thanks for the great pictures Jes!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fashion Show

A little Wyclef on the IPod - Fifteen Happy Ladies and the crowd went wild!!

They stayed late to make sure they would be pressed and ready for the fashion show! They all came the next day with new hair styles, lip gloss and fancy shoes!! It was a great day! Some of the ladies looked so different I didn't even recognize them! They have all changed so much in the past month. They have such hope and joy on their faces! I am proud of each of them and can't wait to see what they will do in the next month! As part of the sponsorship each lady got to keep the skirt they made in class! That was a really big real for them! Thanks to all of you who have given us fabric for the program! You made their day!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


How do you fix a sewing machine that is 130 years old?
You call Al Danis in the States. Oh wait! You get on-line via Skype and call Al Danis in the States with your laptop that has a built-in camera and wireless access so that Al Danis can see what you are doing and can walk you through with step by step instructions for a sewing machine that was made in 1878 by the Singer Company only 130 years ago that is now in the middle of a classroom full of ladies getting ready for a sewing final in Haiti. Sounds Crazy!! But, that is what Dan did today! I am not sure they could have fixed it without Al seeing the machine in real time.

When we say, "it takes everyone to make this work", we aren't kidding! Thanks Al!

Just For Fun: We walked around the classroom with Al on-line so he could see all the ladies working on their machines! They loved it!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Practical vs Overkill

Today I thought I would talk about an important part of driving in Haiti - The Bumper! It is important that you understand the unwritten rules of driving here.

RULE: You are given the right of way if your bumper enters the intersection first!
This can be tricky. If you think about going for a second longer than the other drivers deems necessay you will loose your rightfully earned spot in front of the other cars. It's kind of like having a kid and scolding them. If you even think about cracking a smile you have lost the battle and they know that you won't really spank them and after a few minutes of yelling you give in and they win.
Back to the bumper!
Most vechicles here have bumper issues, they have been smashed and trashed as their owner learns the painful and costly unwritten rules. Some things are however out of the drivers control. This is when you have to think about practical vs overkill bumper issues.
RULE: Can my bumper stop a tap-tap that can't make it up a hill, while keeping my bumper and car in tact?
TEST: This morning we started out for church making our way down Delma 33. As we made our way in and out of the traffic, we climbed up one of many hills in our route. All of a sudden, everything slowly began to slide backwards toward us. This was the test! Would we pass? The tap-tap couldn't make it up the hill, his brakes began to fail and he rolled back into the water truck, as the water truck rolled back into the jeep which in turned rolled back into, you guessed it, our bumper! I am happy to report that we passed the test and didn't have to test the back bumper as well this morning!
What seemed like the overkill bumper of the century on our truck has now become the very practical bumper!
LESSON: Never judge a bumper!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Art Adventure

The past two weekends we have been able to get out as a family and see some new parts of Haiti. Today we went to a small village called Croix-des-Bouquets about thirty minutes from here to see all the artisans who create a large part of the tin art here in Haiti. I love going out of the city. I love being with all the people and seeing the good parts of Haiti. Life is so different outside the city. I love the art work and I love having the freedom to walk around with my camera taking pictures and talking to the people. Maddie and Parker had never really been out in the village to experience these things first hand and they loved it. As we walked the little kids yelled "blan"(white) hoping I would stop and take a picture. It was a game. They yell, I stop with the camera ready to take a picture,they run and hide. I love it and am willing to play with many of them the whole time we stayed to look at art. Well, really, Dan did the shopping, I looked at a few things I liked, but I loved taking pictures. Dan said, the digital camera is paying off already since I took 91 pictures.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Exam Week!!

You will have to forgive me for not having a blog in a few days - it has been exam week here at school. Little did I know what that meant! Thinking back to exam week at school in the States I never really liked it. I still don't like the idea of it, so me being the one in charge isn't what I had in mind, but it is part of what I need to do.
I can say that this week has been a test of my understanding of the Haitian school culture, creating a wicked learning curve, often referred to as, "baptism by fire"!
I have said, "You've Got To Be Kidding Me" this week more than I have ever said it in my whole life. Today, was the biggest,"You've Got To Be Kidding Me"! I had to remove the teacher from the class for talking to the students and giving the answers to them! Hello? Why was she helping them? Again, "You've Got To Be Kidding Me"!

Lesson Number One: In the Haitian culture, she would not be considered a good teacher if she didn't help them cheat because, very simply, she knows all the answers. Logical? No, not really, it all seems confusing to me because while she teaches class it is normal to hit them with a ruler, grown woman, with a ruler, or to encourage the whole class laugh at them if someone can't answer the question or heaven forbid asks a question considered to be foolish. It seems to me that this all is a bunch of mixed signals. I will admit and I am the first to say, I don't begin to understand how all of this works.

By Friday, we had reached the last step in our testing! I was so relieved because part of me had been holding my breath for each of them. Will they pass? It was twelve o'clock,class was ending and each lady was clearly on her way to having
compleated a project that they could be proud of and the class room was full of giggles. I am so proud of each of them!

Stay tuned for the fashion show!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

What Can I Say?

What Can I Say? It has been so much fun getting to know the ladies in sewing school. In some respects we are worlds apart and our worlds would normally never meet. But, in more ways than you think we are the same in every way. These are the things that I am learning everyday. They are shy, funny, ready to learn, love their children and want a better life. We are the same!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Funny Miracle

Today Parker Boy said to me, "Hey Mom, do you know that Jesus did a really funny miracle?" Oh really? Yeah, there was a group of people that had this really bad black stuff in them. Jesus told the really bad black stuff to go out of the people and in to the pigs, so it went in to the pigs. To help me understand better Parker started screaming and running in a circle acting out the pig drama. He stopped, looked up at me, laughing and said, Mom, isn't Jesus funny! The black stuff had to listen to him! Well said, Parker Boy!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Google Earth

On Friday, as we finished up with sewing class, Beth dropped in with some friends to show them the sewing program and asked if I wanted to have lunch with them. I could honestly spend my whole week here at the house and not go out until Sunday for church with all that I have to do, so I jumped at the chance to hang out with this group that I love. It would take me a bit to clean up, so I said I would tap tap over and meet them in a few minutes. After lunch, we would try to find Sisters of Charity - Hospital for the Dying for John and Beth's daughter Morgan who will be coming in today and wants to do some volunteer work for them. We finished lunch while Jen, the doctor, was on Google Earth looking for our destination - In Haiti! (Hello!) We thought we had a good idea of the general area, so we all piled in the car and off we went. We Googled ourselves pretty close, but had to stop and ask for directions a few times. Finally, we found a very kind older man who got in the car with us and took us where we needed to go. Go figure! Google Earth -vs- A Wise Old Man!

Now, I don't always like to talk about things that are hard here, but Haiti is hard. Really hard! After parking we found the sister in charge who gave us permission to walk around. I am guessing because Jen, the doctor, was with us. We went upstairs to the woman's section, did a quick tour, returning to the first room at the top of the stairs. As we walked in again, I could feel the tension in the room, with a quick glance around I saw the problem and said, Beth, I think we should pray for this lady! That quickly the room was filled with crying that you would never hear in the States. She was gone. I can't seem to shake the picture of those thin, poor, sick ladies laying in the beds alone. I keep thinking, we can Google the whole earth so we can see it, but, we can't really see it. We can't seem to get rid of so many painful things on earth, like people dying alone, HIV, mama's who deliver babies alone with out any help and kids without food or medicine.

So, for now, we will continue to work in our one little area here in Tabarre, while others continue to work to also make a difference, in Haiti, and so many other places on earth. I wonder if we can Google heaven? I think that is where another wise man keeps all the answers.