Thursday, August 3, 2006


We left the Minneapolis airport at 6:30 am and flew to Miami. During our layover in Miami, the Sams and Lynley took pictures of a coke bottle on a moving sidewalk in the airport. From Miami we flew to Port au Prince. On the flight we had a little trouble filling out our green cards, but we enjoyed the food. When we arrived in Port au Prince, we drove to a smaller airport, which later we found out was only two blocks away, to catch a plane to Jacmel. Unfortanetly in Port au Prince, we ran into bad weather and had to spend the night at a guest house in CSI, a mission housing. Our first meal in Haiti was pepperoni pizza from Domino’s! We all were taken aback by the poor conditions of the city. We heard gun shots and dogs barking. We saw garbage burning, reckless driving, and armed guards. The group took everything in with a meeting at night.
After having breakfast at CSI, we went down to the smaller airport. We ended up taking two small planes into Jacmel. While in flight, we saw the Caribbean sea, mountains, and huts. Once the planes landed, our group headed for our first time to the Hands and Feet Project. Upon arrival we unpacked our bags and went out to transfer cement blocks from one cottage foundation to the other. Our group also got introduced to our project with no end: the septic tank hole. At night, Drex and Jo took us for a drive into town. The Haitian people usually were outside in front of their small cement block homes, walking with anything from a television to a truck wheel with a tire balancing on their heads, or cooking. We turned around to come home when the paved road ended. That night, some Haitians were having the second night of their 15 day worship service. This could have been in response to the Voodoo worship going on next door. They warmly welcomed us to the service, and they even translated the messages for us. Nancy attempted to steal the Bible, but Ken intervened. Emily was up three rows with the Haitian girls and nearly was left. After we left, the worship service went on well into the night.
When the roosters crowed at the crack of dawn, we were all up and ready to work or almost ready to work. Most of our group headed straight for the hole where we were digging and picking. Sam G., Hailey, Jess, and Nancy went into town on the first trip to pick up diesel, paint, water, and ice. Since not all the stores were open, Ken, Beth, Sam B, Lynley, and Emily went into town with Drex on the second trip to get bread, milk, bleach, and Pepsi. We noticed that most of the Haitian people were actually wearing old American clothes and selling them on the street. After lunch, Ken, Sam G., Emily, and Sam B headed right back out to the hole where we dug just about two feet. Beth, Nancy, and Lynley went to paint the railing. Jess and Hailey played with the kids. Then after supper we played clue-Mrs. White did it- and watched the premier of Audio A’s Adios DVD. Drex also let us in on some inside information about the band.
After breakfast, Ken, Lynley and Jess joined Carlos in the hole and kept digging. The rock they were working on was about 300 lbs and had to be broken up in order to be lifted out. Sam G. and Emily carried cement block, carried and mixed mortar, layed block on the first cottage, and learned some Haitian words. Nancy and Beth became the painting experts. Hailey manned the porch. Our group enjoyed the Haitian meal prepared by the nanny that works for the project. We enjoyed rice and beans, creole chicken, and a pickles, which is a VERY spicy slaw. This was also our first day of VBS with the neighorhood children. The kids enjoyed singing the hokey pokey and Bingo. Then the children took turns singing to us. We performed a skit starring Ken as Jesus and Lynley as a paralytic healed by Jesus. Beth then explained how Jesus cleanses us from the inside. Fernell interpreted for us and helped with the kids. When Nancy brought the suckers out, the kids trampled her. They also enjoyed the water balloons and bubbles. After VBS, we went to the beach. Jess had a fun time getting on floation device! After washing up, we enjoyed Haitian cuisine at Ambiance where on the balcony we looked onto the streets of Jacmel. We saw the a UN truck drive by, a woman chatting it up with an ice chest balancing on her head, a man riding on a mattress on top of a tap tap, and a woman with two chairs on her head. Sam B and Hailey ate goat, while Emily had a fish with the head attached. Later that night we played Clue again- and Mrs. White did it…again.
Drex and Ken spent the morning in town and purchased lumber, propane, and water. Carlos came with and bought fresh fruit and eggs. While walking, a motorcycle clipped Carlos and broke some eggs. Ken also saw a Haitian man with a live turkey balanced on his head. They also went to the bank to cash a check to pay the workers. Lynley, Nancy, Beth, and Sam B painted all morning. Nancy decided using a paint roller is Sam’s calling. Sam G and Emily went and transfered over 200 cement blocks while carefully watching for spiders. Anderson went on a block rampage with us! Jess and Hailey played with the children. They all enjoyed the bouncy balls. We enjoyed another Haitian meal of Creole spam and rice and beans. After lunch we had our second round of VBS where the Sams and Hailey suprised the kids by launching water balloons at them from the roof. We sang Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes with the kids, which suprisingly some of them knew. They also could sing The B-I-B-L-E in Creole. We were better prepared with handing out candy today. Our story today had Jesus, again played by Ken, showing that he loves the children. Oddly enough “Jesus” forgot to hug his own daughter during the skit. Afterwards Lynley, Beth, Nancy, Sam G, and Emily cleaned the splattered paint from the tiles. Drex, Ken, and Sam B built a table and benches for the kids. Jess and Hailey played with the kids. Later, Sam G and Emily made plans for house #2, while Lynley killed spiders for them. Afterwards the women took on the hole until they were driven out by the rain. Jo had a delicious spagetti supper waiting. Nancy, Beth, Sam G, and Emily made cookies and Jesus fish out of pipe cleaners for tomorrow’s VBS lesson where “Jesus” will feed the 5000. The evening ended with a game a Compatability and Emily writing 5 days worth of blog!
After our pancake and muffin breakfast, Beth, Lynley, Sam G, Emily, and Jess headed for the hole. Ken and Sam B finished up the tables and benches for the children with Drex. Nancy and Hailey played with the kids. Then Beth, Lynley and Jess went to paint the tables and benches. Sam G and Emily went to help with the Haitian workers on the cottage. They also learned their Creole pronouns. Sam G also learned the importance of understanding another language when Anderson asked for the hammer in Creole and Sam moved the ladder he was standing on. Ken and Drex then went into town. They thought maybe the owner of the lumber yard should hire someone to sort through the pile of boards. They spent about 30 minutes looking through a woodpile for a 2×4. Sam B and Beth also transferred more block while being seranaded by Nancy and the children singing “motor boat.” We had another session of VBS with the neighborhood kids after lunch. Note to future groups: the kids love water balloons, but T-Bone, Drex and Jo’s dog doesn’t. Also, when the translator doesn’t show up, Jo can fill in. Our story this time was Jesus feeding the crowd. After VBS the whole group minus Emily went to work with Didi and Carlos in the hole. After learning that Carlos knew Spanish, we started a chain of translation. Someone would speak in English, Lynley would translate to Spanish, Carlos would translate to Creole, and vice versa. Meanwhile Emily worked with Anderson and Otis at the house while trying to make Carlos sing to us from the hole. Then Patti and Rebekah from LA arrived for their second trip to the Hands and Feet Project. Then they joined us for supper at the local hotel. We had lobster and chicken with french fries, rice, fried plantain, and VERY VERY spicy slaw. Since most the group was riding in the back of the truck, they had a chance to truly enjoy the tropical storm. For our late night entertainment, Drex played a video of John Daker singing ”Christ has Risen” and “Amore.” Unfortunetly Johnny just couldn’t remember the words. (Check it out at
Drex let us have the day off, and we slept in….until 7am! Sam G, Lynley, Beth, Jess, and Hailey went into town with Drex to buy water and ice. While they were in town, Nancy gave Jo a haircut, and the Californians unpacked. Later Drex brought the whole group to market. We saw a mass chaos of slaughtered cows, rice, carrots on heads, RX’s, shoes, clothes, extra long hair extensions, and lots of chicken bouillon cubes. Older Haitian ladies were pushing us around shouting “blan” which means “white.” At market, Ken bartered with a Haitian man and bought two large carved statues. Oddly enough this occurred after Ken told us all to be careful on how much we buy because we needed to condense our luggage. When we drove up to the project site, the souvenir lady was waiting for us. We all came out very well and so did she. After lunch the whole group went to a nicer beach. Unfortunately in our fight with the waves, Ken and Sam both lost their sunglasses. The man Ken bought the statues from showed up at the beach. His persistence paid off when Nancy bought a walking stick from him. When we came home, Sam G, Lynley, and Emily walked down the street to buy cokes in a bottle to take home. We had a little confusion when they asked us to bring the bottles back, but we finally explained that we wanted to pay for the bottles also. Back at the house we heard a man yelling “Ken” from the gate. The man selling the statues had followed us home! His persistence did not pay off this time when Drex told him to go away. Later on, Carlos and Didi came to play soccer with us. The whole Iowa group minus Hailey went to play. They kicked our butts! Hailey and the Californian people ate and braided the kids’ hair. After playing or attempting to play soccer, we gave the Haitians kool aid and took pictures. They love having their picture taken. Didi also gave Sam B, Lynley, and Emily a ride on his motorcycle. Since we hadn’t seen a tarantula yet, Beth led Sam G, Emily, Lynley, and Hailey on a spider hunt. Finally we found a spider in Jonesy’s backyard. Drex then took our group on the porch to have a end-of-the-trip discussion. He would like Beth and Nancy to stay forever to keep everyone in line. Then we enjoyed the banana ice cream Ken made along with the brownies Beth made. Now as I’m finishing the blog for our last night here, we are listening to Audio A in honor of our trip here.
Late last night, Sam G, Lynley, and Emily decided to have one last swing in the hole. After Sam had completed his turn, he took the flashlight, and Emily got in the hole. As Sam was shining the flashlight for Lynley to come in with Emily, he yelled, “get out of the hole now, seriously.” There was a tarantula in the hole with us!
This morning we left for the airport. All of us were sad to leave and were already planning the trip for next year. After saying our goodbyes, we flew from Jacmel to Port au Prince. At the airport, Ken paid an airport worker to get us to the front of the line and a back way through customs. Meanwhile, Emily bartered with two Haitians to buy a wooden globe. We left Port au Prince and flew into Miami. After going through customs, we all went to Drex’s first stop upon arrival back to the USA…Burger King. We also may have spotted Fantasia from American Idol there. During our five hour layover, the Sams and Lynley took a picture of a sign in the airport that said “pardon our dust.” Also, Nancy did a great job at handling her walking stick. We arrived back in Minneapolis around 11:30 pm and then everyone, minus Emily drove home to Waverly, Iowa. We had an amazing experience and would strongly encourage anyone to work with the Hands and Feet Project! Until next time…Adios!

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