Time Flies When You Are Very Busy…

02/ 22/ 2018

Time Flies when you are very busy

Well a lot has happened since the last blog. Here in Haiti Carnival or we would be more familiar with Mardi Gras is a very big event. The schools close, hospitals only take emergency patients, banks close ect. The school we live on top of had their own Carnival. It was very fun, many of the parents came, and there was music, dancing and lots of food. We were happy to celebrate with the community.

Last week there was visitors at the Sisters house from Tennessee, we had met them last year when they visited and also at the warehouse when they brought supplies to the shipping container. Along with other people who were also visiting the Sisters invited Bob and I to a gathering to socialize one evening. It was very fun to sit around and talk in English. While sitting and enjoying conversation I started to get chilled, then I got colder and colder. Bob is always like a furnace so I started to get closer to him. I was hoping the woman he was talking to didn’t take this as a sign I was jealous, but I just was so cold. Soon I said to Bob we needed to leave, by then my teeth were chattering and I was shivering. When we got into the truck for the first time I turned on the heater (much to Bob’s dismay). My head was pounding and I felt very nauseous. The ride home seem to take forever and when we got home I went straight to my room put on warm clothes, took Ibuprofen and got under blankets. I had a high fever. I went through mentally when the last time I was exposed to mosquito bite, it had been over a week (malaria has a three day gestation period). I felt pretty scared, because I could tell by the fact I couldn’t get warm my fever was only rising.

The ladies had dinner ready and Bob and Bermond ate, I didn’t want anything except water. After dinner Bob and the ladies came in and the ladies prayed over me, when they touched me they were concerned because I was so hot. Bob got a cold wet wash cloth and bathed my head. I then thought to take Tylenol. That and the prayers seem to do the trick five hours after it started the fever broke. I still had the headache but no fever. The next day I was fine. I have no idea what it could have been.

The water project that we help start a few years back seems to be back on track. The water committee came to our apartment to work out the final details. They walked over the mountain before Mass on Sunday. They attended the Mass in Garcin then we met after wards. I prepared a breakfast for everyone. It was another example of how baffling any machine no matter how simple is to the Haitian people. We have salt and pepper grinders. Bob showed our guests several times how to use them but they could not grasp the concept, we just did it for them.

After breakfast we worked out the rest of the details and the water project should have started this week and should be completed in a month. We are very excited for this community of 1800 people that they will have water available and will no longer be drinking the river water. Thank you to all the people who contributed to make this happen.

On the 11th of February Alex our vanilla agronomist came from Cape Haitian to give a demonstration on stressing the vanilla plants to make them bloom. We have five plants ready to bloom that he stressed and several more that he took out of the tree to get them ready to stress once they are a little more mature. Alex carefully disconnected the vanilla from the tree he attached a sturdy stick about 10 feet long crossways on the tree, then draped the vanilla plant over the cross bar. This was to make it easier to pollinate the flowers when it blooms. He then cut off a couple of feet of the growing end of the vine (these cuttings we have planted). The vanilla should flower in late April early May, and then the plants will flower again in September and October. The beans will take nine months to mature, so our first crop we can expect to pick in February and March of next year and the second blooming should produce next June and July.

The next morning while preparing to start my day the ladies came to get me, someone from the village was there to see me and was sick. I went out onto the roof and there was this little lady. I greeted her and ask her what her problem was? She turned around lifted her skirt and dropped her drawers to expose this white and brown blotched sphere about the size of a softball. I felt like this was above my pay grade. I photographed it and told her she could get dressed. I asked her how long she had had this. She said three years. I had to wonder why she decided today was the day she would deal with this problem. I thought maybe this was a prolapsed uterus or rectum but was not sure. I gave her 250 goudes to go to the hospital (about 4.00 US). Because it was Carnival time the hospital wasn’t accepting patients that were not emergencies, so later in the week she went. She brought me back a letter and receipt for the visit. The letter told me that it was a prolapsed uterus and she would need to see a gynecologist. I am now looking for a gynecologist to help her.

For the last several years I have been the one to give ashes on Ash Wednesday to the people in our village. One of my friends from church asked if I would come to her house and give ashes to her husband. This year the new priest for the new parish was having a service in town to celebrate Ash Wednesday so we loaded up the truck with many people from the village and attended this service. Father gave his permission for me to visit the sick man and gave me ashes to take; I had pix with me so he also gave me Eucharist to distribute to this man.

On Thursday Bob and I went to the Center, we are finishing the pavilion by stuccoing the interior walls; we went to pay the workers and check on the progress. They are doing a wonderful job. This does add acetic value but also strengthens the walls. After we left the center we went to the Olima’s house to distribute the ashes, have a little prayer service and give Eucharist. We parked on the road and then had to walk the rest of the way, Bermond was with us so he showed us the way. We were welcomed, chairs brought out and Mr. Olima came out. He is very thin but looking healthier than I have seen him in quite a while. We prayed the Our Father and I distributed ashes to him and his family that was present. There were several small children; they were quite interested in all that was going on. Then we said more prayers and I distributed Eucharist to the adults and Bob and I. We then sang a hymn together.

The Olima’s have asked us in the past to help them build a new house so while we were there they wanted us to see how badly they need a house. We completely agree that they need a new house their house is eaten by termites and one good wind will blow it down. But we don’t have funding to build people houses (we know three other families that really need a new house). The Olima’s do have a foundation built for the new house, when Mr. Olima got sick all the money they have has gone to his care. It is very sad.

Saturday we left for Port Au Prince. We had a few things we needed to do there then on Sunday we traveled south to Anita and Elwood’s to spend a few days with them. They live close to the hospital our friend Maxo is in. On Monday we visited the clinic Anita hopes to open next month. She truly has a gift for the sick and it is her true passion. They have done a lot of work on the building and it will make a wonderful Clinic.

We then went to St. Boniface hospital; Anita gave me a tour of this incredible facility. We then went to the Rehab portion to visit our friend Maxo. It was unbelievable how good nutrition and rehab has changed him. The last time I saw him last August and he probably wasn’t far from death. Now he has weight on him, his upper body is pretty muscular, and most of all he has hope. He told me he plans to return to school when he gets out of the hospital and plans to study computers. If I had not accomplished anything here in Haiti the change in this young man’s life makes all the effort well worth it.

Tuesday was spent enjoying our friends and we were involved in a conference call with the PTTA advisory council. It is always interesting to hear other people’s opinions on working with their twinned Parish. Bob is also looking for warehouse space to rent in middle Tennessee for the shipping Container.

I am sorry this has been so long we have had a lot of problems getting to a place to use internet. I wanted to get all this out before we leave Port Au Prince.

Thank you for your interest and your prayers,


What we have been up to

February 5th, 2018

What we have been up to

The Parish we serve in Riviere Mancelle has split into two parishes. Two of our five schools, our apartment and The Fr. Jim Agricultural Center are in the new parish; this creates some confusion. The Twinned parishes have agreed to continue their support of the two schools in the new parish for this year

The Haiti Project is mostly located in the new parish (we live above one of the schools, and our Center surrounds the other school), so without abandoning our home it would be very difficult to with withdraw our support from these two schools. This new parish has no outside support and the schools would be forced to close.

Last Monday Fr. Dashmey, the Priest for the new parish, came to discuss how to progress forward. He is very supportive of our work and wants us to stay in our apartment and continue working with the people in the two areas where our schools are located. As of now that is what we plan to do. Fr. Dashmey is very personable and has some English; these two factors are making working with him enjoyable. Bob and I are staying open to where God will lead us.

Tuesday morning we left for Cape Haitian to help our friend Lamouth with his new guest house, and to develop a business plan to present to his benefactor. Lamouth is a very well educated Haitian; he has lived in the US for a period of time, so he speaks very well. He has just finished a law degree here in Haiti. He moved to a village outside of Cape Haitian less than a year ago, it was interesting to Bob and I that the local Haitians in the village treat him as a blan (foreigner). This has been hard for Lamounth to accept

Bob and I are praying for Lamounth as he works through the difficulties he has been presented with. He has been working to build a guest house. It is difficult to manage a building project here in Haiti when you are viewed as an outsider. He does have the advantage of cultural understanding and the language. The guest house is very nice and we wish him success in his endeavors.

He has begun developing the agricultural aspect of his project, starting tree seedlings and utilizing different growing practices, these practices are foreign to his neighbors. Lamothe has been instrumental in developing the farmer’s workshops that we hold.

We traveled home on Thursday, it is about a 75 kilometer drive ( 47 miles); the roads where so bad it took five hours. Our neighbors where happy to see us return and sent dinner over so I didn’t have to cook. The next morning was the big feast at the church in town.

Here in Haiti the feast day for the Saint the church is named after is a big celebration or feast. The mass was over three hours long; it was said in French, Haitian Creole and Latin. It truly was a beautiful celebration. There was food served afterwards but the line was long that after 30 minutes in line, and not making progress, Bob and I decided to just go and get our favorite egg sandwiches.

When we finished eating we had a two hour meeting with Fr. Gracia. We think the water project will now be resumed and Fr. Gracia will oversee the work. Fr. Gracia expressed some insecurity with the parish splitting. Bob and I reassured him that we would be glad to consider any projects he presented to us to collaborate on.

While we have been traveling and attending meetings and feasts we have also been writing information for the Salvatorian news letter and providing information to one of our Salvatorian Sisters in California. Writing is time consuming and our lack of internet access means going to town to send these correspondences and pictures. The booster for our internet we received last fall helps but it is easiest for us to write on our laptops and the booster does not provide a strong enough signal to have wifi to send information from our laptops.

There have been several people coming to the apartment for medical help. One of our teachers needed to go to the hospital, a grandmother that now has a new born after the mother died in child birth. She is very poor and cannot afford formula for the baby; this will be a year of dependency on our support. Donations of formula are so very helpful, formula is very expensive here. I have also cleaned up some cuts on children at the school.

A young pregnant girl came that had been bitten by a dog four days before. She had an infected hole on her leg. She came in the evening; so I cleaned the wound and told her to return the next morning. Looking at her in the day light I could tell by all the red in her hair that she is poorly nourished. Without intervention she will not have breast milk to feed her baby. I sent her to the hospital because most dogs do not get vaccinated here in Haiti. Rabies is a real threat. The hospital gave her antibiotics and worming meds. They must have not thought rabies was an issue.

She is returning each day for me to clean the wound and today I gave her a peanut butter sandwich and some iron pills. I asked around the village and found out this girl lives with her mother and does not know who her father is, they are very poor and do not have much food or any way to get food.

There is a woman in pur village that prepares food each day and sells a plate of beans and rice for 50 goudes, this is about 75cents American. I talked to her about paying for the girl’s meals; giving her baby a chance at a good start, and the young mother having milk to feed her baby. I am seeking ways to develop a mentoring program for these young girls that find themselves pregnant. I am still not clear on how to do this. I just have to keep trying.

My friend Anita lives relatively close to the hospital Maxo (the young paralyzed man we helped last fall). She went to the hospital on other business and went to visit Maxo. She sent me pictures and you could not tell it was the same person. He has put on weight and looks so much healthier. The rehab program has him making bracelets; all together he is doing a 100 percent better. This news makes all the times I feel discouraged go away, if we can only help one person it is all worth it.

My last closing note is also very good news. Last August I brought to Haiti some flowering orchids that I received as a donation. I had removed them from their pots and sanitized the plants, there were seven of them I tied one on a tree at the sisters house and the rest at the center. When I left last November they had attached to the trees, except one of them had died. Now four of them are blooming! It is so exciting to see these beautiful flowers in their native habitat.

Thank you so much for your interest and your prayers,

Denise s.d.s.

Virus-free. www.avast.com

Failed blog

Thank you to those who let us know that our last blog failed to post.I am posting this by phone and when we have access to a faster connection we will attempt to repost. This may take a few days. As Sr Pat says, "It takes three things to work in Haiti, Patience, Patience, and Patience. Blessings to all, Bob and Denise