Laura came to our village without warning. My internet was down since Friday. I had seen the storm on a website and knew it was going to pass by to the north of us. I didn't see the forecasts over the weekend. Sunday morning in church, it rained. In a church with a great big tin roof, rain kind of stops the ability to communicate. After church, I was feeling a bit ill...headache.
I walked home, got a little wet, and felt worse. I recognized this kind of headache to be malaria. I had chloroquine on hand, so I started taking it on Sunday. Sunday evening was rough...rain, wind, headache. Monday got better, and Tuesday was gloriously sunny, and I was at full strength. The storm kind of paralleled my illness : Came suddenly, was strong for a day, was better the next day, and then was gone.
I am thankful to God for His constant healing. His record with me is really impressive.
I hope Louisiana and Texas are ready for the storm.
Here are some more things that just pop up into my consciousness as I try to adapt to this new life back in Haiti after 5 months away...
1. It's hot. This morning I sat at my computer. I had showered. I was in the house with door and windows open. There was a breeze. I was still. And yet, sweat drizzled down my back. Some nights are nearly dramatic in regard to heat and stuffiness...even thought my bed is bordered by 2 open windows.
2. People here mention the virus as an ice breaker. Some ask about what it is REALLY like in the USA that has been so "overtaken" by the virus...according to reports they hear. After a few ideas, they are ready to move on in conversation. Churches will be back to normal in a week or two. Schools are finishing up the 2019-2020 school year now.
3. Toilet seats are great. My outhouse doesn't have one. We honker down. I find it more difficult to get down and to get up now. The hip. The knees. I may at some point have to invest in my own personal toilet seat. Aging.
4. People in Haiti are more in tune with spiritual events than Americans are or admit to be. People here know what evil spirits can do. They know Satan is real. The developed world can't confess that fact.
5. It's hot.
6. You can do your own doctoring here. I had a belly ache. I recognized the pain at the belly button. It's a sign of worms. I sent people for worm medicine. I took a pill. I feel great.
7. I tried to by Hydroxychloroquine in the USA...$100 US for 30 pills. I said, "No, thanks." (We use it to prevent malaria when mosquitos are bad...which they are pretty much right now). I sent a person to by it here. I paid $100 H for a bottle of 25 pills ($100 H divided by 23 is about $4.30 US).
8. Church in Haiti is not like church in PA. It is, but it isn't. I love both. I am blessed to have both. Singing good old songs is like a fresh rain on the soul. In Haiti, people sing. They don't whisper or hum along way down low. They open up and sing the song. It's powerful to be beside people who are singing. Add the worship element, and church is a powerful event.
9. My new freezer is a glorious source of refreshment nowadays. Several people in town have them. It allows you to share (sell) cold water with neighbors. The guys at my house make juice...cold juice. We buy canned juice...cold canned juice. When we make quacamole (?), we can make it cold. We enjoyed a cold watermelon last week. We have an icepack ready for injuries and have used it once already. Ice is nice.
10. It's 87 degrees in my office now (cement roof). It's 94 in the kitchen (tin roof). Later today that will flip. In the evening, the cement roof area will be in the 90s and the kitchen will cool down to the mid 80's. In the USA, a 77 degree room is hot and stuffy. So, I can say it : "It's hot."
Impressions After 5 Months Away
I had never been away from Haiti for 5 months at a time...not since I came here in 1992. This year was different (understatement of the year). I was about 10 days away from being gone for 6 months.
I have not walked around town yet. I am 'kind of isolating' myself so that people feel more comfortable around me, and so that I can't be blamed for anything. :) BUT, I have yet to meet anyone who is apprehensive about getting close to me.
I am surprised to see the growth in certain kids. It's dramatic. I am also delighted to see noticeable advances in maturity from a couple of people. That's encouraging.
I have been hearing stories about "ASAPH" things that happened while I was away. That is a blessing. I left 3 guys at my house...WEC showed up as things closed down in March and April. They appear to have handled the house very well. No official ministry stuff took place due to the government's rules about meetings, but there were things that happened that were positive. A Compassion student and member of the brass band had to hand in an important paper on a short deadline. He showed up here asking for electricity overnight so that he could work on his laptop. I was not here. The guys at my house made it possible for him to accomplish his task. It is little things like that that impress me as I learn what happens while I am away.
As always, I anticipate learning some things on the other end of the good/bad scale as well. They take longer to bubble up it seems. A have noticed a few broken things, but nothing dramatic.
God keeps working in people all day every day. It's a good thing. I am thankful we cannot escape Him ever. God is good.
Travel In The COVID World of 2020
I flew from BWI to PAP on Sunday August 9th. The airport was not as busy as usual, and as a result things went quickly and smoothly. Checking in was normal...except for masks. Security was normal...except for masks. Waiting was normal...except for masks.
The flights were full, but by God's grace I had an empty seat beside me on both flights. There was no drink/snack service on either flight. Miami's airport seemed normal, though I was there for only about 30 minutes.
The airport in Port-au-Prince was close to normal. While waiting in line for customs, a group of 3 ladies were pointing a thermometer at the heads of travelers. I saw no one that was called aside. We all came through with no delay. After customs, a gentleman in street clothes standing by himself was asking (some) passengers for their Covid tests? I said I had none. He asked to see my Passport and copied down my last name...nothing more. He waved me on ahead. I saw no one who actually presented proof of a test.
I did receive a tiny card on which some instructions are printed in 4 languages. It tells me to carry the card in my wallet and take it to the hospital with me if I get sick.
I feel great now four days after travel.
Haiti and Covid 19
Ever since May, I have read articles that tried to address the Covid 19 situation in Haiti. There were recorded cases. Articles presented the idea that the next two weeks in Haiti would be catastrophic...death...hospitals overwhelmed...chaos. May went by. June went by. July went by. Haiti has since opened its borders. Life is moving on.
Many people here in town will tell me they had a fever a few months ago. They felt bad. They felt feverish. They couldn't smell or taste a thing. Then they got better. They only half believe that they had Covid 19. What doesn't make sense to them is that they did not die. No one they know died from Covid 19 either. How could it have been Covid 19, because Covid 19 is so deadly, right ?
I have asked people this question : "If 100 people get Covid 19, how many will die from it ?" One young person guessed about 20. Another suggested 75. Another suggested maybe 15 or so. One educated young man said he thinks they would all die...100 out of 100.
That is what they have been led to believe. Bad information leads to horrible predictions. Haiti is timidly back in school now (the first week of school in Haiti is only ever attended by about half of the students). Life will go on.
Haiti is a beautiful, tough, fascinating place. It's lambasted often. Sometimes it is ahead of everyone else.
Missionary in Haiti.