I know we're way overdue on an update, but I've been waiting for our internet to cooperate so that I can do a post with photos, but all week we have had very slow internet which doesn't allow us to upload photos or do any other major upload/downloading very easily or quickly. But...we are in a third world country after all...I'm thankful to have internet at all.
So, I'll go back to the last time I posted and try to give you an update on what has been going on.
We've been spending most of our mornings up at the orphanage in meetings with Mme Solliette. We have had a lot of progress with training her on the basics of budgeting and basic financial vocabulary. She seems to understand what Craig is saying and has impressed us with what she is already doing to keep track of her expenses. A little over a week ago, Craig had the opportunity to travel with Mme Solliette to the mainland to a market to purchase the food for the orphanage for the month! As you can imagine, this was quite the adventure. Craig got up at about 5:30am to catch the ferry across at 6am with Mme Solliette. They did not have an interpreter for the day, so Craig said there wasn't a ton of communication, just a lot of observing and learning. To buy food for a month for almost 80 kids is NOT an easy or quick task. However, Mme Solliette has the process down to a science. Craig was very impressed with her bargaining skills! He also had his fist ride in a tap tap - or public taxi. Let me try to give you a mental picture - the back of a big truck - TONS of Haitians piled on top of each other and hanging out of the truck. He said he had a few people on his lap :) I think this was a good time for Mme Solliette and Craig to see each other in a different environment and spending that time together formed an even stronger friendship. Mme Solliette bought our family a watermelon and pineapple as a thank you from her to our family. This past week, we have started training Mme Solliette on a computer program so that we will have instant access to all of her financial records. That way, Okipe will know her balance and when she needs more money and where the money is being spent at all times.
Last Sunday we celebrated Jaron's 4th birthday! I'm so thankful for the awesome group of friends we have here! We took the sailboat out to the sandbar and went snorkeling. What 4 year old gets to go snorkeling in the Caribbean on their birthday?! So cool :) Then, we had a birthday party for him that evening on our friends' back porch. They had it all decorated with lights and super hero decor! One of the girls even made Jaron a Batman pinata! It was a huge success and we had one happy four year old.
I've had the opportunity to start English classes in two different capacities. First, we have two groups of six children from the orphanage who we are bringing down here to the Wesleyan compound during the afternoon for an hour and a half. The first group comes on Monday and Wednesday and the other group comes on Tuesday and Thursday. They are the older kids from the orphanage. We are thinking that if we start with the older ones, they will teach to the younger ones. Also, it's near impossible to teach all 75 of them by myself and be productive. We've had fun playing games, learning new vocabulary and practicing our speaking. Craig and the kids (especially Morgan) have been helping me with the classes. It's been fun (and tiring since it's the HOTTEST part of the day) to see the kids in a different environment. Some of them are learning very quickly and it's encouraging to hear them using English when we visit the orphanage! I've also had the opportunity to help out with the adult English classes that some of the missionaries here are leading on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Five of the workers from the orphanage are taking that class so it is fun to help them too!!
Some updates from the orphanage - If you've been following along, little David went home from the hospital last week. He was there for about 9 days. He seems to be doing better, but still isn't 100%. I think sickness is just a reality here (like home). I think that a simple cold or virus just takes a bigger toll on your body here. One of the cooks, Mme Phillipe is at the hospital now with one of her children. I've not made it there to visit her yet, but you can be praying for her. I know it is a tiring job.
You may remember me talking about my new friend, Faby. She works at the orphanage and was very lonely and so happy that we were friends. Just last week, we had her over for dinner and went swimming with her. We were asking her if she liked it here on La Gonave. She said no. She didn't like that she couldn't leave and have freedom. She is only 23 and I think that she didn't realize how hard it was going to be to work at the orphanage. Long story short, it just didn't work out with her working at the orphanage and she chose to go back to Port au Prince. I told her that it made me very sad to think of her going to Port au Prince and living on the street (since she has no home or family) when she has a home here to stay in even though it's not easy. She has continued to text me throughout all of this and I'm praying that God will be real to her and protect her physically and protect her heart and mind. She is such a sweet girl who has had such a hard life already.
Morgan and Jaron are still doing well. They both had their first successful friend sleepovers this past week! (It helps that mom and dad are within walking distance away!) They were both so proud of themselves :) Again, I'm thankful for the families God has placed here during our time here. There are so many great people and fun kids to play with. Jaron has not had a break from the mosquitoes. They just love his sweet little body. My heart just aches when I look at his arms and legs. He's also been struggling with a rash on most of his body since the week we got here. He doesn't complain about it itching or bothering him at all, but it doesn't look normal. We've tried prescription strength steroid cream which seemed to be the only thing to help. It's pretty much gone except on his fingers which are now peeling as well. So, if you would remember him - just pray that his skin would clear up and that those pesky mosquitoes would leave him alone!!
Finally, just Friday, Morgan and I had a girl date with Marty and her 16 year old granddaughter Hannah. We were all getting low on groceries and so the four of us made a trip to Port au Prince and did shopping for five families! We flew off the island in a little 6 passenger plane on Friday at noon. We arrived in Port a half hour later and our driver was waiting with the truck. He took us to grab lunch at the Haitian fast food place - Epidor. It was surprisingly "American". It looked like a mall food court. Morgan and I both had cheeseburgers and coke. :) Then we spent the next 5 hours grocery shopping. Morgan was a trooper and helped and didn't complain about being bored or tired more than once :) We then made our 2 hour drive to Dan and Joy's house next to the wharf where we would sail out the next morning. Morgan and Hannah decided to go swimming even though the sun was setting. It was a fun memory for them to swim in the dark. Then, Morgan woke up early and they were out swimming again by 6:30 that morning :) The boat ride back to the island proved to be eventful! About a half hour into the journey, we were greeted by about 12-15 dolphins! They gave us quite the show and swam along with the boat for about 5-10 minutes. It was so neat to see them so close! I was so happy that Morgan was able to see them. I know that she was hoping she would. She said that was her favorite part of Haiti so far :) As we got to the middle of the sea, the waves became quite big. I have to admit I was praying and fearing a little for our safety! I even had a talk with Morgan about what she would do if she did happen to fall into the sea. We were pretty wet from the waves by the time we made it safely onshore. And our experienced Haitian sailors did a great job navigating the waters. (and emptying the bottom of the boat 5 gallon bucket by 5 gallon bucket from the water accumulating!)
Today, Father's Day, has been a very restful, cool day. The first three weeks that we were here, we had one night of rain. It was dry and hot. This past week, we have had rain three nights. Today, we woke up to temperatures in the upper 70's and overcast skies!! What a treat!! I felt like I almost needed a jacket! Today is the first day we've had rain during the day. It's made for a nice, peaceful Sunday. (for me anyways...I think Craig and the kids are getting tired of being inside.)
This week we have more of the same - meetings and training with Mme Solliette, English classes with the kids and more planning/preparing for future teams who are coming.
Thanks for hanging in there for this long, picture-less post! We are over half way done with our time here and are looking forward to returning home, but trying not to wish away our time here. We miss and love you all back home and can't wait to see you all soon!