Saturday, January 7, 2017


What an amazing experience! I was completely overwhelmed when we arrived. I was thrilled beyond words to see our boys, but the thought of being there for ten days was almost more than I could handle. The heat. The mosquitos. The crazy traffic. The poverty. The lack of warm water. The fact that the running water wasn't clean. I wanted to cry the second night. And I was mad at my selfish American self.

I looked around at the people in the Tlucek home, the people who have given up years or months of their comfortable lives to serve in this country, who give up all those things on my list above and for much longer than ten days. And I thought of the people I saw on the streets when we were out who know nothing different and who have an emptiness I can't understand. Or some who I'm sure know Jesus and the hope He gives and know it in far more real ways than I do. I truly am selfish. I'm not beating myself up about it. It's just a reality. I'm used to the comforts and conveniences of my life, and giving them up is incredibly difficult, even for a short time.

For those who know me, you know I don't shy away from serving others. I love being the hands and feet of Jesus, and I think I do a good job of that, but I do it in a first world country where sure, I sacrifice time and money and energy, but I still have a cushy life. I was slapped in the face with this reality when I was in Haiti. It was hard.  Everyone needs to experience life in a third world country at least once.

We spent a lot of time processing with the kids, David and Sarah because it was new to them, and they are young, but also with James and Jason because it's different to process it after living it with them. I am in awe of them. It's almost indescribable . . . The feelings I have about what they've been doing. They were on vacation from preschool while we were there, so there was a lot of down time, but there was still a lot of work to do. They work hard, and they do it with great attitudes. I loved seeing them interact with the Tlucek family, and I loved watching them interact in the community and with the kids at the Crèche (children's home). The kids love them.

I so enjoyed Byron and Shelley Tlucek and Sue, and it was a true blessing getting to know them and all the Tlucek children better. We really love them all. It was fun going to James's and Jason's church and meeting some of their support system. It was great to see places they hang out and eat at places they eat.

Other things I loved . . . dinner time at the Tluceks. I think the smallest number of people at dinner was 20. We prepped and cooked and ate and sang worship songs and did a devotion almost every night. It was cool! I loved hearing Jason and James playing guitar and singing with the Tlucek kids, who are all very talented. I loved the Caribbean Sea. It was warm and beautiful! The fruit was so incredibly sweet. We had finger bananas, pineapple, mango, oranges, and grapefruit. Delicious!!! We had some amazing pizza at this place called Clay Cafe. It was such a neat little spot for dinner and hanging out. I loved how easy it was to put a smile on the faces of most of children at the crèche. I loved seeing where James and Jason do life, and am excited that when they talk about their days I can now picture the places they are. I'm still in awe that they serve so many children in such a small area. I think it must be like the fish and loaves story in Scripture, only with space instead of food.  It is truly amazing!

 This is a picture of our kids with most of the Tlucek kids.  Such a fun, talented, servant-hearted group of young people.

James with one of the boys at the creche, Gabe.  This little guy was not happy when we arrived, and it took James quite a while to get him to stop pouting, but when he did, he had the most precious smile, complete with beautiful dimples.

I loved going to visit the creche.  This is Ludemia (sp?).  She was quick to warm up to us, maybe a little too quick, but we enjoyed holding her and playing with her.

Sarah and Belle in the pool.  They spent several hours playing in the pool on two different days.  It took them a bit, but they became great friends.

Sarah with Ludemia.

We spent two days at a retreat center on the beach south of Port-au-Prince.  This gazebo was even better than the water.  We spent a lot of time sitting in there, singing worship songs, doing devotions, playing games, and enjoying the breeze.

Our last family picture for this trip.  I'm so proud of my family!

The ocean from inside the gazebo.  It's so blue!

James with Xander, another child at the creche.  Xander is a bright boy, fluent in both English and Creole.  James and Jason said that he is a big helper at preschool as far as language goes.  He can translate for them or help them when the don't know how to say something.  He loves the Jungle Book and was dancing and singing The Bare Necessities while we were there.  So cute!


David and Dom!  They are just a few weeks apart in age and enjoyed each other's company.  We all loved Dom and his fun personality!

This is the Haitian version of Tic-Tac-Toe.  I never figured out what they were doing.  I'm going to try to post a video of James and Gabe playing. Hopefully it will work.  It was interesting!

This was at the Clay Cafe.  It had such a cool atmosphere.  This was a reading area for kids.  Beside it is a place to play corn hole (bean bag toss), and they played that later, along with the rest of the kids.

The kids were fascinated by David's crutches.  They liked taking the bottom piece out and putting it back in.  They were proud of themselves when they accomplished it.  Silly, but great for their fine motor skills.  Whatever works, right?

Xander fell and bumped his head pretty hard.  He was loving every minute of the attention, even quite a while after we knew he was really okay.

Jason has made a lot of progress on his guitar playing since he moved to Haiti.  This is Ben, who helped and encouraged him a lot while we were there.  All the Tlucek kids who we heard play an instrument or sing had great talent.

That is James and Sarah on the beach.

Gabe with the crutches now!

And now Rowen!  If you look on the metal gate there, you can see where Brent put his creativity to use.  Sue, who manages the creche staff and lives there with the children, asked us if we would do some games that would get the kids active to run out some of their energy.  She got out chalk for them to draw and for hopscotch, which we did, but they also had a soccer ball, so Brent put points on different squares on the gate, and the kids kicked to see how many points they could get.  They loved it, and it was so simple.  However, they were frequently distracted by those crutches!  Most of the houses have cement walls around them and big iron gates that lock, and the Tluceks have a guard on the premises all night long.  It's a strange feeling to know that you have someone walking around the property in the night with a gun in order to protect you.  At the creche there are armed guards at the gate to the neighborhood, rather than at the house.

Another gazebo picture!

Here we are getting ready to swim in the Caribbean!!!  We were all really excited!

Brent, James, and Sarah got up early one morning and walked on the beach collecting rocks and shells.  Sarah found some beautiful shells!

More walking on the beach!

More swimming!

When your adult kids live in Haiti, you have to get creative with stocking stuffers.  This was a winner . . . the couch pouch!  It can be used anywhere, including on the water.  Jason enjoyed it to lounge in the sun.  I think he was reading Anthony Limiero's and Tyler Ferris's book that they recently published!

Our first night in Haiti!  We were exhausted, but we were all together, which makes a mom's heart very happy!

Spot it!!!  Another favorite!

Belle and Sarah playing ping pong.

One of the dinners we had with the Tluceks.  It was nice to eat outside.  Usually by this point in the day it was cooler outside than inside.  Shelley, and all her helpers, prepared delicious meals, and the fellowship around the table was fantastic!

A little morning jam session!

More morning jamming!

A little idea about the traffic.  It was unreal.  There are no street lanes . . . or lights . . . or stop signs (we saw one of each the whole time we were there).  People just drive wherever they want.  There's no such thing as "no crowding" or "no cutting in line" in their world.  And both pedestrians and cars are on the street.  Pedestrians put out their hands, sometimes even touching the cars, when they want traffic to stop and let them through.  It's unreal and terrifying!

Playing at the beach.  Sarah didn't want to go out so deep, so she played on the shore . . . until later in the day when she got braver.

Nothing like swinging in the hammock with your big brother!

Belle and Sarah with Jason!  His hair is so long!  He usually has a hat on, but it really does look good down!  It just won't stay out of his face.

Ping pong . . . David learned how to play even with his broken leg.  He became quite good at hopping on one foot.  We are lucky he didn't break something else!

Another dinner picture!

More time at the creche.

Hopscotch . . . they draw it differently than we do, but it's otherwise the same.

Sarah and Ludemia on the swing.

More traffic, only at night.  We were on our way to Clay Cafe.  There were probably six people riding in the back of the truck.  That's not very many compared to some of the trucks we saw.  It didn't really seem safe to me, but people don't drive as fast in Haiti, at least in the city, and that is how everyone gets around.  The trucks have metal railings welded into them (I guess) for people to hold on to while their are standing in the back of them.

Jam session!

Driving to the coast . . . We drove out of the city through some pretty scary stuff.  Once we got into the "country" it was interesting to see the housing.  For the most part all along the way there were small towns or villages, some very small.  You might drive a stretch of land with no houses, but it never lasted long.  I would say never more than a couple miles before there would be stretch of buildings.  The buildings or houses were always right next to the road.  Most of the time you could see beyond them and there was just land.  In front of the houses, there would be a little table and sometimes a makeshift tent or umbrella where people were selling things.  They know traffic will be coming by and might be interested in buying.  I didn't actually see a lot of begging, but there was a lot of peddling.  Everybody wants you to buy whatever they are selling. I was impressed though that most people were working for their money, not expecting handouts.  We also liked the fact that people were walking in and out of traffic selling cold water and sodas.  How convenient.  What if while you were stuck not he 405 someone came buy with something cold for you to purchase to drink?  I'm sure we can all think of a time that would have been great!!!  Also, something interesting, they sell individual waters in plastic bags, about the size of a sandwich ziplock.  Again convenient for them.  They are small and not too bulky to carry.  Usually they had a larger plastic bag full of the water on their heads.  I wish I had taken a picture of them.  Another interesting and sad thing is that they don't have any littering laws.  All along the roads, and sometimes in the middle of the roads, there are huge piles of trash.  Sometimes the trash is burning.  It makes you appreciate the fact that we do have laws about things like this.

Here you can see both how colorful the buses can be and how people ride on them.  They fill them up inside and then sit on top and hang on to the back.  I saw other buses or trucks that had multiple people holding on on the back or the side.  They don't drive as fast as us, but they aren't always in traffic either, so they do get to going probably 45 to 50.

A time lapse of the sunrise at the beach.  Beautiful!

It was truly a remarkable time . . . both the good and the not so good.  It showed me so much about others and about myself.  I highly recommend everyone go spend some time in a third world country. It stirs something in your heart that calls you to action and helps you to realize how blessed you are to have been born in the United States.  Our poverty is nothing compared to what we saw there, and even those in poverty here have more opportunities for making money.  Things seem so hopeless there.  And we could be in the midst of that hopelessness, if we had been born there.  Stop, look around you, and be thankful for all of the comforts and conveniences you have and figure out what you can do to make a difference for those who do not have even the most basic comforts.

It is not expensive to go to Haiti; I'm sure we will go back again.  Brent would like to organize a short term team to go do some work and to experience preschool in action.  Hopefully we can do that in the future!  

Note:  Well, my videos aren't uploading, so I have to try to figure that out, but I'm posting anyway.