Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day Six in Haiti - Port-au-Prince (1/10/10)

We didn’t have to wake up until 8:30 AM, but my body must be used to 5 AM wake-up calls because once 6:30 hit…I could not go back to sleep! It didn’t help that we had gone to bed fairly early the night before. Well, after tossing and turning for two more hours, I finally got up. I was taking advantage of the internet in the lobby when I glanced down at my watch and realized it was somehow 9:15. Keep in mind I had come downstairs at 7:45 and Adam was still in bed (we were getting picked up for church at 9:30). As I rushed upstairs, Adam was walking out and we figured out that our iPod (which has been our alarm clock) had reset to Central time when we had hooked it up to the computer the night before. We had enough time to change, grab some breakfast to take with us, and hop into Erick’s van and head to church! When we got there, there were already a number of members socializing outside. We enjoyed meeting everyone and I even found someone that wanted to practice their English with me (and tried to teach me a little Creole as well).

I’m pretty sure Adam and I had very different experiences at church. For the first hour, we split up into classes – Relief Society for the sisters and Priesthood for the brothers. I could follow along with the hymns we sang in French and some of the scriptures we read, but as for everything in between…it sounded like everyone was learning and sharing , so I just tried to imagine what they were saying based on the few words I could pick out. Next, we had Sunday School where I was reunited with my English/Creole speaking husband. We played Hangman to figure out the topic of the lesson and somehow, I was the one that figured out the word first (it was “preordination” – spelled the same in French AND English). I was also asked to say the closing prayer in English, which I was happy to do. Finally, we had sacrament meeting. We sat next to the missionaries at the back and it was so nice to look ahead and see such a full church full of faithful Haitian members! The ward is so much bigger than ours in Lawrence and full of returned missionaries and young families. It was so exciting to see how strong the Church is here in Haiti.

My experience was different from Karen’s because, well, I know the language. After feeling pretty horrible the day before, I felt a lot better today and church was an amazing experience for me. It was such a beautiful sight to see so many faithful Haitian members that were living the gospel in such difficult circumstances. The lessons in Priesthood and Sunday School were very well prepared and really showed that the members were confident in their understanding of the gospel. It has always been a dream of mine to see fully functional church units in Haiti and today that dream was realized. I cried a little just seeing how many families and returned missionaries there were in the ward. This truly was an answer to prayers!

After church, we headed back to the hotel. Since we hadn’t had much for breakfast, our bodies both needed some food! We discovered our favorite sandwich here – The Cuban. It’s on chicken, ham, and mozzarella cheese on a baguette. So good. After eating, we headed upstairs for a much-needed Sunday nap. As we were in the middle of changing out of our church clothes, a hotel employee started coming in to bring new towels, so Adam (for the second day in a row) had to frantically yell, “Pita! Though slightly awkward, it still gave us a good laugh about the perfect timing that the employees have here. After that excitement, we drifted off for a long nap.

We woke up with enough time to wait for Erick to pick us up for a fireside at the Church. However, in the street right in front of us, we heard a loud brass band playing music and saw a crowd gathered, blocking the intersection and surrounding blocks. As we were waiting, we got a video of the music and dancing, then realized that the crowd was growing and moving in the same direction that Erick would be taking to pick us up. We went out to the street to find out what was going on and were told that it was a celebration gearing up for Carnival (Mardi Gras). We got a hold of Erick by phone and he came to the same conclusion that we had – no fireside for us tonight! He had started making his way here, but police were redirecting traffic and it would’ve been impossible for him to get here and then to get to the church.

Instead, we’ve taken the evening to catch up on posting pictures on our previous entries. We also have been searching the internet to catch up on our Haitian history. Turns out, the path to the Citadelle isn’t 7 km. It’s 11 km…or seven miles. Wow. We’re both kind of glad we didn’t know that as we were hiking it the other day! We’ve also gotten to know a few people here at the hotel. One of them is an American who lives in the middle of nowhere in the southwest part of Haiti called Grand Anse. Another is a radio journalist for the United Nations and he told me stories and showed me pictures of some of the stories he’s covered. He also explained how the United Nations is structured with jobs and it’s something I might look into more when we get back. Our new friend from the UN was about to leave but then the sky opened and dumped buckets of rain. It was raining REALLY hard! It stopped the Carnival band and made everyone go inside (including the hundreds of blood-thirsty mosquitoes). Now we’re going to dodge the streams of water from the leaky roof as we make our way back to our room. So far, no leaks in our room but we’ll let you know in the morning.

12 comments:

Emily said...

Yikes, hope you can find something to put on those bug bites! I enjoyed reading about your different experiences being at church. I can totally relate to Karen's experience as that was how it was for me while nannying in the Netherlands. Glad you're feeling better Adam!

Kate said...

I just read about an earthquake over there! Are you guys ok?!?!

Other than that, I love reading about your adventures in Haiti!!! :)

keighty said...

I second Kate's comment. I hope you two are okay!

Emily said...

Just echoing the two before me. I got home and that's the first thing I saw on CNN. Praying for you and hope that you are safe.

Joel said...

Adam and Karen: We're praying for you and trying to find out any information! Please post as soon as possible and let us know you're ok!

disillusioned said...

With everyone else--know you may not be able to access this---but praying you're both okay!

Mary P.

Sole said...

Scanning the media photos and relieved not to see either of you. Thinking of you both!

Joel said...

For anyone looking for info on Adam and Karen, I'm Adam's brother in law. Adam and Karen's parents heard from them this morning. They are safe and in the US consulate's office in Jacmel. We look forward to hearing more details, but for now, it's excellent news.

Linley said...

Karen and Adam,

You're in our prayers. I hope that you can let us know of ways we can all help. Be safe!

Lolly said...

I am so relieved to hear that you are both safe.x

Miss Wright said...

I went to orientation today and Sally Roberts said - "I know that sometimes we are in our little bubble at KU, but things happen in the world around us. Some of you may have heard about the earthquake in Haiti and that we have a UEC student there..." I said in a loud whisper and gasp - "It's Karen!!!" I was terrified for a few moments and then a guy sitting a couple seats down from me said, "I know her brother and he facebooked me and said they are OK." I was so relieved! I hadn't even heard about the earthquake. I hope you guys are able to come home soon.

Stacy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.