Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Scottish Journey (Part 4) - Galloway Forest Park and Food


This panorama was taken in Galloway Forest Park. It was taken from Bruce’s Stone which overlooks Loch Trool. The stone commemorates the victory of Robert the Bruce and his men over the English near this spot in 1307.

Galloway Forest Park is similar to a State Park in the USA. This park is very hilly and forested with numerous streams, waterfalls, and cascades. This stream and bridge are by the visitor’s center for the park.

This cascade is just down stream from the bridge in the previous photo. It was raining the entire time I was in Galloway Forest Park.

I went for a hike on a trail up a valley toward the top of a mountain/hill (Merrick). The trail, seen in the above photo, was narrow and often included water running downhill toward me (due to the rain). It didn’t take long before my sneakers and socks were completely soaked. But I would do it again. I made the best of the time I had, rain or shine (mostly rain).

There was a raging stream coming down the small valley that I hiked up. After coming back down I went further down hill into some woods. This was what the stream looked like in the woods near a small bridge. The stream was “squeezed” between the rocky outcroppings to make a small waterfall. There were a lot of ferns and mosses growing on the rock walls.

This was a single-lane bridge crossing the small stream (The small waterfall in the previous photo is about 30 feet to the left of the bridge). This forest, road, and bridge reminded me of something that would be seen in a Robin Hood movie set in Sherwood Forest.


I thought I would end with a little about the food. I tried to eat the local cuisine as much as possible. I tried a few new things. The above photo was my first meal in Scotland at a small restaurant in Stranraer. This was breakfast at lunchtime. The only odd thing was baked beans for breakfast.

A “traditional” Scottish food is haggis. This is the haggis that I had in Stranraer (the dark stuff on the left). According to Wikipedia it is a “savoury pudding containing sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal's stomach”. I had it served the traditional way with "neeps and tatties" (Swedish turnips and mashed potatoes). I ate haggis this one time, but didn’t have it again. I had “black pudding”, also known as “blood sausage”, twice for breakfast. It was okay. A few other things that I had were fish and chips, steak pie, and a “ham roll” (just ham in a roll) and chips. Overall the food wasn’t all that great.

A Scottish Journey (Part 3) - Lighthouses and Birds


This panorama is of the town of Portpatrick on the western coast of the south-western part of Scotland. It is a very small town which has a protected harbor and a small lighthouse (to the left) – more on it below.

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse: There were quite a few lighthouses in the area of Scotland where I worked. This one is on the Mull of Galloway on the extreme southwestern tip of Scotland. It was first lit in 1830. This peninsula has 300 ft cliffs and the lighthouse is 85 ft high. I climbed the 114 steps to get the view from the top. Unfortunately it was somewhat overcast so I couldn’t see more than a mile or so.

This is not a lighthouse, but it is a photo of the Mull of Galloway cliffs. I took this in the opposite direction from the previous photo of the Mull of Galloway lighthouse. It was good the sign was there because I hadn’t noticed the dangerous cliff. : )

Portpatrick Lighthouse: This lighthouse is a small one in the town of Portpatrick on the south-west coast nearest to Ireland. The town rings a small harbor. We explored the town for a little while and then got chased away by rain. The sea was very rough this day and the waves were crashing on the rocky coast.

Corsewall Lighthouse: This lighthouse is located on the northern tip of the peninsula northwest of Stranraer. I had to take this narrow, single lane road to get to the remote lighthouse, which is now a luxury hotel. It was built in 1817 by Robert Stevenson, the grandfather of the famous writer Robert Louis Stevenson. Visits with his father to remote lighthouses are thought to have inspired his books “Kidnapped” and “Treasure Island.”

This shot of Corsewall lighthouse was taken as the clouds broke up and the sun came out right before it set. It was one of the few times I saw the sun during my two week visit to Scotland.

Southerness Lighthouse: This “square” lighthouse is located on the southern coast of Scotland on the Solway Firth (A firth is kind of like a bay or river estuary). The “beach” was a wide expanse of tilted sedimentary rocky layers. I could only take photos from this angle since the wind was at my back and I was trying to protect my camera from the rain that was falling/blowing.


While in Scotland I got to see a few bird species I had never seen before. I’m still not entirely sure what these are, but I think they are immature kittiwakes. I shot these on the sea wall in Stranraer.

This is a pied wagtail. It would bob its tail up and down, hence the name. I saw this bird in Stranraer in a park by the shore of Loch Ryan.

I shot these oystercatchers along the western shore of Loch Ryan.

These barnacle geese spend the winter at several locations in Scotland. I visited the Mersehead Nature Reserve which is administered by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). The geese had just started returning about a week before I visited the reserve.

A Scottish Journey (Part 2) - Castles and Other Old Buildings


This panorama is not a castle, but an abbey - more about it below. There are a lot of ruins in this area of Scotland. I believe this is the result of two things. First, many of these structures (castles and abbeys) were built in the 1400s and 1500s. So they are very old. Second, many of these structures were sacked as a part of the English invading Scotland. This happened fairly frequently over the centuries. There are some castles that have been restored and are nicely furnished. I didn’t go to any of those. I preferred the ones that were in ruins or at least not fancy.

Castle St. John in Stranraer: It was built in about 1511. I was not able to go inside since it closed for the season two days before we arrived in town.

Maclellan’s Castle: This castle was built is the 1570s. It is located in the town of Kirkcudbright. It was also closed for the winter (as of Sept. 30th).

Cardoness Castle: This castle was built in the 1500s. I didn’t take the time to go in this one…so many castles, so little time.

Dunsky Castle: We had to take a short hike up a hill and along the coast to get to this castle built in 1510. It is located just south of the town of Portpatrick. The yellow flowers in the foreground are on a gorse plant. It is a fairly “spiky” plant and it seemed to be used a lot as a hedge row.

This shot was taken inside a portion of Dunsky Castle.

Orchardon Castle: According the “Historic Scotland” information this is the only round tower house castle in Scotland. It was built in the 1500s. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was open. I was able to go in the “basement” storage area in the door on the right and in the “first floor” up the stairs on the left side.

I was extremely surprised to find a small doorway in Orchardon Castle that led to this very tight spiral staircase that led up to the top of the tower. There was a great view of the surrounding countryside from up there. I also saw a ring-necked pheasant while visiting this castle. The pheasant and country-side reminded me of central Pennsylvania.

Edinburgh Castle: Travis and I had to make a work-related “emergency” drive to Edinburgh (about a 2.5 hour drive). We got there late one evening and left before lunch the next day, so we didn’t get to see much. However, we did walk around a small portion of the “Royal Mile” portion of the city for about an hour. Ian, another co-worker that was already in Edinburgh, was kind enough to be our tour guide. This photo is of the Edinburgh castle which is on a rocky outcropping in the middle of the city. I really wanted to explore the castle, but it was closed at night. Maybe next time…if there is one.

There are quite a few old abbeys in the southern part of Scotland. Many were destroyed in past centuries by invaders from the south (from England). This is the Dundrennan Abbey which was built in 1142. Mary Queen of Scots spent her last night in Scotland here in 1568 before being exiled to England. The circular gray “spots” in the grass in the central-left part of the photo are where the vertical columns rested that held up the roof in the main hall.

This photo shows me (proving I was really there : ) ) beside the base of one of the columns that held up the roof of Dundrennan Abbey. It was very impressive how well built the remaining walls and arches were (behind me).

I visited the Kirkmadrine Church which is a newer church building built on the site of an older church. It is surrounded by a cemetery and is located out in the middle of a field (but is bordered by a stone wall). The “porch” of the church houses the Kirkmadrine “Christian Stones”. The earliest of these stones is a pillar dating from the 400s or 500s and contains a Latin inscription.

I thought this door and stone wall on the side of the Kirkmadrine Church building had a lot of character.

A Scottish Journey (Part 1) - Overview, Stranraer, Loch Ryan and Mull of Galloway


As many of you know, I (David) went to Scotland on business in October 2011. While I worked much of the time I was able to see some of the sights in the surrounding area. The following are a few photos (of the 2600 that I took during the two weeks I was there) highlighting what I was able to see. Most of the time the weather was poor (overcast, rainy, windy) so the photos aren’t great. But I had fun seeing a country I had never been to before and exploring new things (often in the rain).

I spent my time in the extreme southwestern portion of Scotland in the region referred to as Dumfries and Galloway. I stayed in a town named Stranraer (pronounced Stran-raw). It is situated on the southern end of Loch Ryan and currently is the ferryport for the ferry to Belfast and other locations. Before this trip I thought a loch was like a lake, and it is, but it can also be a bay. Loch Ryan is a body of water that is salty and opens into the Irish Sea.

The area around Stranraer is mostly rural farmlands. Some areas reminded me of Pennsylvania. There were a lot of rolling hills in this area. I was hoping to get to the northern part of the country to see the Scottish highlands, but the weather did not cooperate. So all of my travels were in the southwestern portion of the country.

This is a map that shows the area in which I worked and traveled during most of my stay in Scotland.


This is a panorama of a portion of the town of Stranraer at the south end of Loch Ryan. The large, white building slightly left of center is the hotel where I stayed. It is named the Northwest Castle, not to be confused with the Castle of St. John which is also in Stranraer and is the tall structure near the right edge of the photo.

This is a nighttime shot of one of the narrow streets of Stranraer near the town center. A car’s headlights made the double white streaks.

Stranraer is a harbor town and has many fishing boats and pleasure craft. This is a shot of a few of the well-used, but colorful fishing boats in the harbor.

Our hotel had a curling facility attached. Supposedly this was the first hotel in the world to have one. As a part of a national initiative to encourage interest in curling they were offering free curling lessons. My co-worker and I were able to attend two sessions. It was tricky, but a lot of fun.

My co-worker, Travis, took this shot just after I pushed off the “hack” (the black foot block behind me) in the process of “throwing” a stone. There is a special Teflon foot slide that we slid on to throw a stone. The experts have special shoes. The handle on the stone is used to rotate or “curl” it to make it go where intended.


This panorama is of Loch Ryan. The town of Stranraer is to the right, behind the ferry. Loch Ryan is enclosed by land except for an opening on the north end. This opens onto the Irish Sea. This opening can be seen toward the left-center of the photo at the break in the hills.

This is a ferry heading south in Loch Ryan (toward Stranraer). Together this shower out over the Loch and one of the few times when the sun was visible converged to produce the intense rainbow. At least the orange and blue that I can see are intense. I assume the other colors are intense also. : )

This photo was taken from the west side of Loch Ryan looking across to the hills on the east side.

This was a typical countryside scene in the south-west portion of Scotland. There is a lot of green grass and there are a lot of stone walls separating fields.

There were some cattle and lots of sheep in the area of Scotland in which I worked and traveled. The body of water in the distance is the Irish Sea and the large granite outcropping in the water is Ailsa Craig. The granite from this is used to produce curling stones.

This is a coastal scene on the “Mull of Galloway”. This is the peninsula on the extreme south-west end of Scotland. This was shot on the way to the Mull of Galloway lighthouse.

This Scottish bovine managed to impede my progress down the single lane road on the way to the Mull of Galloway lighthouse. Apparently he can’t “read” the sign.

As mentioned previously I worked in a rural/farming area. We passed by this farm on the way to work every day. It seemed funny to have a stereotypical red British phone booth out in the country (one of the few that I saw in my travels).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Haiti 2010 - by Hannah

Last August we took a team of eight people on a 10-day trip to Leogane, Haiti to serve at an orphanage called Operation Love the Children of Haiti (OLTCH). It was an amazing experience, and we were able to help Greg and Jasmine Martinson, who run the orphanage, both by doing work projects and by spending time loving on their 40+ kids. Some of our work projects included digging trenches to help lessen flooding from the frequent rains, sorting supplies,painting buildings, and constructing another building for the boys, who were still sleeping in a tent at that point. We also had a blast coloring, playing games, and just hanging out with the kids.

This is my account of our adventures, taken from my trip journal. I didn’t have a lot of time to write, so it is brief at times, but it will hopefully give you an idea of what we did on a daily basis.

The team: Josh, Shane, David, Donnie, Sarah, Me, Courtney, Regina

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Overview of the day

  • Everyone gathered at the church at 8:30am and we were hoping to leave by 9:00am, but we were a little slow getting out of there. It ended up being okay, since our flight was delayed. Mom and Dad and Mrs. Reichel drove us to the Orlando airport. Kim and James also drove so they could spend that little bit of time with Josh. After giving hugs and saying goodbye, we made our way through security and then took the tram to the terminal.
  • Our flight was only a little over an hour long, so it went by fast. Landing in Miami, we had only about 40 minutes to trek across the airport to the international terminal. When we found our gate, we had to get seating assignments for Donnie and Sarah and then we were free for a bit. The terminal was packed full of people of all sorts from all around the world. I loved it. There were some globetrotter sorts, some families who looked like they just wanted to get home, and there was a whole pack of Amish, mostly young men, but a few women, older men, and a kid or two. They ended up being on the same flight with us.
  • Then we flew from Miami to Port-au-Prince
  • Went through customs
  • Waited for our luggage
  • Nothing came
  • Found out they had somehow “lost” it
  • Drove to the orphanage – 3 hr drive though a devastated nation. I think I had used that term to describe the country once before, but I didn’t truly understand what it meant. This land truly is decimated, disintegrating, impoverished, without hope.
  • Drove with Greg to the orphanage
  • Met Jasmine
  • Ate dinner, rice with veggies in it and tomato/onion saucy stuff on top. Yummy! Also with plantain. Mmmm!
  • They showed us where our tents and the bathrooms were located
  • Went to bed

Observations and notes from talking with Greg on the drive:

  • It took us 3 hours to make a 20 mile drive
  • The earthquake lasted 40 seconds
  • Greg yelled “Jesus save us!” twice at the top of his lungs, and then it stopped. Their building didn’t fall, but it cracked and all the buildings around them fell.
  • Pedestrians have no right of way
  • People are always moving, micromanaging, nobody works, no jobs to be had, don’t know what they do all day
  • Voodoo is extremely prevalent
  • 9 million people in a country the size of Connecticut
  • You have to have a horn to drive!
  • Tap-taps = small buses, tap coin on side when you want to get off
  • Elites are mulattos, lots of French influence, want power, pay people to riot against the government
  • Restaveks = legal slavery
  • No family structure or fidelity, men don’t take care of kids, moms might have a dozen kids all with different men
  • The Martinsons’ generator died, got flooded on Monday night
  • People are everywhere, walking, driving…

Our first good look at Haiti.

After disembarking, we had to wait for buses to come pick us up and drive us to the terminal.

Waiting for our luggage.

The baggage service desk. It was a busy place...

Greg and Jasmine Martinson

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

  • Ate breakfast - oatmeal (from MREs all mixed up in one big pot) and muffins/breads from MREs. I had almond poppy seed bread.
  • Jasmine gave us the tour and told us the rules
  • They are living in a field right now, in tents and temporary plywood buildings, because their orphanage building was severely damaged in the earthquake.
  • The guys played with the boys and also started digging the drainage ditches along the tents.
  • We girls had the kids come into the classroom, little girls first and then boys, to make foam crowns with their names on them
  • At one point, some of the team rode along with Greg to get some ice.
  • Lunch – mashed potatoes and gravy from MREs. A lot of their food is from MREs that the Canadian military dropped off here as they were leaving. Amazing how God provides!
  • Rested, played with kids some more
  • Supper
  • Children’s mealtime prayer (written by the Martinsons, sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)
Thank you, Jesus, for this day.
Bless this food for me I pray.
Thank you for all your blessings.
Give me joy and strength each day.
Bless this home and all my friends.
Hallelujah and amen.

  • To see the location of the orphanage, follow this link.

The mess tent

The kitchen tent, where the Haitian ladies made all the wonderful food!

The large white building is the classroom, where we did a lot of coloring, playing games, making crafts with the kids, and it is also where we would have our Bible study meetings in the evenings. The white tent is where the little boys slept. The little corner of the green tent in the upper left of the photo is part of the church meeting tent, and the kitchen tent was just to my left.

This is the tent that we girls slept in, and the guys had another one just like it.

The showers

The generator/tool shed

Daveson (I think) with his crown.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

  • Devotions – woke up at 6:30 to do them
  • Breakfast – bread with peanut butter and honey and hardboiled egg
  • Spent the morning painting the side of the classroom building with Sarah and Regina. It reminded us of whitewashing in Mexico. Since we didn't have our luggage, Jasmine found us some clothes to wear, so that we didn’t have to mess up the few garments we had along with us. Sarah wore some pajama pants and a Haiti t-shirt. Regina wore scrub pants and a gray t-shirt. I got a t-shirt with loons on it and maternity jean capris… weird, but Sarah said I sported them well. :)
  • Sadly, Courtney seemed to have some heat exhaustion so she rested and stayed inside the classroom building near the fan.
  • The guys worked on the trenches some more and made some good headway
  • Lunch – Jasmine let us have some MREs straight out of the boxes. What fun! They were Canadian MREs. We got to use the crazy chemical reaction heating pouch thingys. The main dish was spicy chicken and came with mashed potatoes (that we didn’t eat, since Jasmine gave us more rice), applesauce, bread with pb and j, and some other assorted items. It was very nice.
  • After lunch, we girls washed our clothes and then offered to wash the boys’ clothes too. They took us up on the offer. They had about twice as many clothes, and it took us about three times longer to wash them because they were so dirty. But we did it and we had fun.
  • It started pouring as we were hanging up the last of the laundry. So it all got a second rinse.
  • Eventually it slowed down and stopped, so we girls started working on sorting the open/extra MREs in the supply tent. It was pretty hot in there but it wasn’t too bad. Regina was in her element sorting and organizing. We did that right up until dinner, which was at 5:00pm.
  • Dinner – typical Haitian diet: rice with bean sauce. Delicious! I mentioned that I like the crunchy rice from the bottom of the pot, so Jasmine gave me the bottom scrapings. :)
  • Took a shower after dinner
  • Worship/song time at 6:45pm – lovely! Had three girls leaning on me when sitting. Danced with two, one in each hand when standing.
  • Went and played cards with Sarah and Regina for a while. Josh joined in eventually.
  • Discussion/prayer time in the evening

Sarah and I painting part of the classroom building.

Some of the guys digging trenches.

No, we didn't have to do all of that laundry, thank goodness! The Martinsons pay a lady who comes in to wash all the kids clothes. We just had to do our own. :)

Look what we found in our tent! It was about 5 inches long. From what I can find, it is probably a centipede from the
Order Scolopendromorpha, possibly a
Scolopendra alternans, which is sometimes called the "Haitian Giant." Go figure. :)

One of the more friendly creatures living near our tent. Some sort of anole, I think.
He's a pretty little fella!

Another lizard that hung out by our tent. A Largehead anole (Anolis cybotes cybotes), I think.

Friday, August 13, 2010

  • Last night there was loud voodoo music going on right behind the girls’ tent, across the fence. Though the guys were farther away, they all had a hard time sleeping because of it. I only woke up 2-3 times for less than 30 seconds. Just enough time to think “Why on earth are they still up?” or “What are they doing?”
  • Breakfast – cream of corn stuff and bread with peanut butter and honey
  • We played with kids for a bit
  • Then I did some more laundry with Sarah
  • David and Josh went into Port-au-Prince to the airport with Jasmine and Greg to see about our luggage. They had said that two of our bags had come in. They were gone all day.
  • After the laundry, we all brought the boys in to the classroom building to color. Wilby drew on the table as a challenge to Sarah, so she put him right out. The others mostly behaved.
  • As they were finishing, it started to rain so Sarah and I rushed out to get all of the laundry off the line. Regina came later to assist. We managed to get it all in just before/as it started pouring – and I mean cats and dogs! Shane came running up to us (we were under the tarp at the workshop area) to see if we got it all, and we told him we had. I suddenly remembered that I had left our back then flap open to get some air in there, so I grabbed a wash tub to put over me and sprinted to the tent. Meanwhile Donnie and Shane had gotten umbrellas to rescue us, so we had a dry(ish) walk back to the kitchen tent.
  • It was lunchtime, so we procured some MREs from the supply tent and decided to begin. The rain had poured, and was still pouring, so the kitchen tent began to flood. We were sitting at the table with about 2 ½ - 3 inches of water underneath us.
  • Funny moment – we were sitting with our feet on the rungs of our chairs, and mine slipped off at one point, so I splashed Donnie and Regina who were on either side of me. It made us all laugh.
  • Donnie, Sarah, and I decided to split our MREs, so we had beef stew, mac n’ cheese, and chicken cannelloni (or something like that). They were good. And we had so much fun at that meal!
  • The kids ate much later, since they waited for the rain to stop and the puddle to subside somewhat.
  • After lunch, and after the rain stopped, the weather was much nicer, and the guys worked on making more and bigger trenches to help with the flooding.
  • We girls worked on sorting some more MREs and stuff from the supply tent. Only this time, instead of sorting in the sauna of a tent, we took the stuff to the classroom building to sort and sat in front of the fan. It went much faster in there actually. We’re planning to work on that some more tomorrow.
  • Josh, David, and the Martinsons came back with all of our luggage! Praise God! And thanks to all the prayers of everyone back home! I’ve never been so glad to see my suitcase!
  • We talked about it, though, and we’re glad that God had it happen this way because it gave us a glimpse into the lives of the Haitians, who have nothing. It also got us out of our comfort zone and forced us to rely on God for our EVERY need! And it was neat to see how He used the missionaries and our teammates to provide for each of us. He is so good! If one of us didn’t have something, another of us did, or else the missionaries did. Some odd assemblages of clothing came out of the adventure, but it made us laugh all the more, so it was okay!
  • Dinner – rice and more meat/veggie sauce stuff, with fried plantains and sugar cane
  • Discussion/prayer time

Girls lining up to go do some coloring in the classroom.

Some girls playing in their little shaded porch, where they had some blocks and other toys.

The kids loved getting their pictures taken. They also really enjoyed singing and dancing in front of the video camera, and then watching themselves on the screen. :)

A neat panoramic shot (taken by Sarah) of the supply tent where we spent hours sorting and organizing.

Sorting supplies in the classroom building.

The guys working on some more trenches.

The amazing rice, which had carrots, plantain, moringa leaves, and other yummy stuff mixed into it.

The tomato/onion sauce that was put over the rice.

Fried plantains.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

  • We slept in for a little bit
  • Breakfast – bread and peanut butter, honey and some weird salty German bread/biscuit things – I didn’t like it very much at all.
  • Fed babies during breakfast
  • We girls played with the little girls for a while doing jump rope and bubbles. After a while Regina, Courtney, and Sarah each took 2 girls into the classroom to color. I stayed out and blew bubbles for a bit. At one point, one of the girls (Luna, I think) started petting my hair, so I took it out of the ponytail and let her play with it for a while – with her bubbly hands. I washed it well that evening. :)
  • I went and got a drink and then headed to the classroom to cool down and got involved in coloring. I took over for Sarah when she went to go get the laundry off the line. The last girl that I helped color was Jenny, one of the smaller girls. She’s adorable. I’ll have to ask Jasmine about her story…
  • During the coloring, Jasmine had us help them try to color things realistically. That was a challenge, but some of them were really perfectionists and wanted to do things right.
  • We finished the coloring around 11:45am so we could get ready for lunch. Lunch ended up being delayed a little bit, so I played with the boys some. I mostly hung out with the little boy who is mostly blind with cataracts. He’s so sweet and he asked me “What is your name?” So cute! I can’t quite get his name when he says it – I need to ask Jasmine… (His name is Rodner.)
  • Lunch was noodle and corn soup. I fed a handicapped 6 or 7 year old who stays with the babies, then ate, then took over for Sarah, who had been feeding the slow-eating baby, Michelle.
  • After lunch we took a break and played some cards.
  • Then we went out and started working on more trenches. Eventually we girls ended up sorting more MREs and moving boxes of them from a broken tent behind the kitchen to the supply tent in front of the kitchen. Regina and Courtney used their amazing organizing skills, while Sarah and I moved the boxes – buff women that we are. :) We also rearranged the labeled boxes of MREs in that tent. And we did that until supper.
  • During our sorting time, Jasmine came over and asked for prayer. So Sarah and I prayed for her. She was feeling very overwhelmed by the chaos.
  • God, I pray that you would give her your supernatural peace, patience, and strength to go on. Lord, I also ask that you keep the evil forces at bay here. Haiti is a very dark country, and we are surrounded by people practicing dark arts. Let this be a place of light and love. Please keep all of Satan’s minions far away from this place, these children, these missionaries. Help them to be strong in the face of terrible evil, relying on you for their every need. I pray the same for myself, Lord. And let me be sensitive to and aware of the battle that is raging in the spiritual realm. Please save each of these precious children’s souls, and inspire a great revival of truth and love on this island, for your glory!
  • Supper – hot dogs and “true fruit,” which I though might be breadfruit when I first looked at them whole. It had been prepared in boiled chunks and fried thin slices. I loved it! The fried stuff was sort of like potato fries/chips and the boiled stuff was sort of like potato, but not really. It was somewhat sweet and stuck together better than a potato would have. I wish we could get it in the states… I wonder if we can….
  • Showered right after dinner, after grabbing a few more true fruit chips.
  • Worship service at 6:45pm
  • During the worship service, I had one of the toddlers in my arm and Jessica, I think, hanging on me. During the final song, and prayer we were sitting down. Jessica started petting my face and hair so I started touching hers too. It was sweet. And I was right beside Yemima, who has a disorder of some kind (cerebral palsy, perhaps). She was in a wheelchair, and as I reached up to touch her arm, she reached to hold my hand and she held it for quite a while. Oh sweet joy. The love of God for these kids overflowed in my heart at that moment.
  • Then we had a meeting and discussion of our presentations for tomorrow’s service. Guys – puppet show. Girls – song, bible verses, skits. We’ll see how it goes.

The babies and handicapped kids that needed to be fed. They were all so sweet! :) From left to right: Katini, Merkenwise (or Mercy for short), Yemima, and Michelle (not sure about the spelling of the names...).




Claudia - It was rare to see her smile.


Playing with the babies and blowing bubbles.

Taking a break in the classroom.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

  • Woke up early to practice our song for the church service
  • Breakfast – corn flour pudding and bananas
  • Went in the classroom and practiced our song and skits for the church service. Our stuff was about doing the loving thing, rather than being unkind and unloving.
  • Church service was at 9:30am. Jasmine sort of organized everything. One of the Haitian ladies led the praise and worship time. Then a few of the ladies and Frizline, one of the adopted Martinsons, took turns singing solo or duet songs.
  • Then the guys did their puppet show about obeying parents. Sarah and I held their tablecloth stage.
  • We girls did our presentation after that. It went pretty well. We sang a song and also did some skits that contrasted being unkind with being kind and loving, and encouraged the kids to choose to do the loving thing.
  • Then there was another song and prayer. The song was Chris Tomlin’s version of Amazing Grace. The kids had been singing it off and on this past week. So cute! “Amazing gwace, how swee the soun that save a wesh li meee…”
  • Lunch – MREs - all I have to say is don’t pick the grilled chicken one. It comes with cornbread stuffing mush and it’s nasty. Bleh…
  • We had planned to go to the beach this afternoon, but a big storm started to roll in, so we decided to wait and go tomorrow morning.
  • We had some of the little girls color and play with play dough in the classroom. Courtney and I played Chutes and Ladders with four of the girls.
  • However, it was much cooler outside, so then we played with the girls out there for a bit. Duck, duck, goose, an intense game of catch, and some football tossing were the order of the day.
  • Then I sat down to take pictures and video of Jenny and Jessica goofing off and singing. While sitting, however, my hair became fair game, and a whole passel of girls began playing with it. Eventually they ran off one by one to get combs or hair bands and began tugging and yanking on my hair in every direction, aka “braiding” my hair. After that whole episode, I’m just thankful to still have some hair left on my head! Courtney joined the “fun” and got her hair pulled too for a while. The girls doing my hair eventually gave up. I think because none of the braids would stay in my hair. They just came undone.
  • I took the last girl, Cristella into the classroom to color.
  • Dinner – rice stuff (yum!), salmon, coleslaw stuff, and crepes for dessert – handmade by Jasmine and Regina
  • Worship at 6:45pm – I sat with Jenny and Argentine.
  • Showers
  • Meeting/discussion
  • Beach tomorrow…
  • Stars were absolutely beautiful, and clear tonight. God gave me a shooting star. Just one, but that was more than I expected. :)

Jasmine and one of the Haitian ladies leading the worship time on Sunday morning.

The pews were made of MRE boxes, and each of the kids got some sort of percussion instrument to join in the service.

Jessica and Jenny, as they were marching around and singing until they were out of breath.

Jenny came and sat on my lap for a bit, while some other girls were playing my hair.

Luna (right) and another girl working on Courtney's hair.

While I was stuck getting my hair braided, a few of the girls wandered around with my camera, and they got some good shots. :)

The ladies working in the kitchen.

Posing with a roll of toilet paper? :)


Monday, August 16, 2010

  • I was so tired when I was trying to finish that last night…
  • Breakfast – cheesy corn grits and bread with pb and j
  • Didn’t feel real great after breakfast, but prayed that God would help me feel better so that I could better love the kids. I started playing with some of the girls and I was soon feeling better.
  • A little while later we left for the beach. I was in Sam’s (a friend of the Martinsons) car with Josh, Sarah, and David all in the backseat and Courtney in the front.
  • We drove through the town and out some back roads and fields, past devastated buildings and a tent city. Eventually we came to a place where it was so muddy that we couldn’t go any farther, so we walked the rest of the way. We walked through some fields and tramped through some mud and at one point took a trail through some mangroves where there was just really muddy water. And there wee little fiddler crabs all through it! It was so much fun! I loved it! Sadly, we didn’t get to come back that way.
  • The view from the ocean was very pretty, although the beach itself was kind of dirty – lots of trash in and out of the water. The water was also not very deep and the bottom was mostly mucky, so it wasn’t the most pleasant beach experience, but it was still nice!
  • We brought along Philip, Daniel, Anne, and Geraldine, four of the oldest kids. The Martinsons also brought their three girls. We had a lot of fun goofing off with the kids, towing them around, trying to teach them to float and/or swim. The guys tried to teach the boys how to do chicken fights, but they didn’t really like it. Philip seemed hesitant to get in the water at first, and he refused to get up on someone’s shoulders.
  • Donnie found a small sea urchin and we held it for a while. (I think I stepped on one too.) It was whitish-greenish and had 10ish purple squiggly, radially symmetric lines. When it was put under water, there were small white fleshy blobs that floated amongst the spines. It was really neat, and Sarah named it “Charles.”
  • We found some dead chunks of coral, and I saw a tern and a gull, but otherwise there was no evidence of wildlife. Quite sad and barren…
  • I looked for stuff along the beach for a little bit, and found some seabeans, shells and rocks. My neatest find was a pretty hamburger bean. Thanks God!
  • We walked back to the car a different way than we came. It was less muddy. Once we got back to the Martinsons’ car, we found Sam wasn’t around, so we thought about trying to fit us all in there, but we realized we couldn’t quite make it. I ended up in the back-back of the car with David and Philip. It was a bumpy ride.
  • The others that got left behind started walking, and walked about halfway back before the car got back to pick them up.
  • We splashed off in a wash tub to clean up and then changed in the shower room.
  • Lunch – MREs? I think some people had MREs, Sarah had just a pb and j, but the kids all ate some noodley stuff which was really salty. Donnie said he thought it had fish in it. Anyway, I didn’t care much for it, so I only ate a little.
  • After lunch we played some cards and had a long discussion about Shane’s terrible grammar in today’s Bible lesson. It was quite amusing.
  • Then Sarah, Regina, and I worked on organizing/sorting in the supply tent.
  • Dinner – more fish, whole with heads chopped off. Also boiled true fruit and plantain. Tried honey on the true fruit and it was pretty good. This batch seemed salty, while the last one was more sweet, which I liked. The true fruit chips were the best, though.
  • Showers
  • Discussion
  • Sleep
  • Couldn’t finish this last night, so I’m finishing it now. (8/17/10)

On our way to the beach! (All of the beach pictures were taken by my teammates - I forgot my camera that day.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

  • Sarah and I woke up at 6:00am to wash laundry. Unfortunately, it had rained last night, so all the clothes were still wet. So we went and helped with breakfast instead.
  • Breakfast – MRE cereal and bread with pb and j. The kids had pb and honey in the nasty German “bread,” which they all seem to like.
  • After breakfast, Sarah, Regina, and I went and did the guys’ and our laundry.
  • Then we started painting the Martinson’s house. Sarah and I did most of it. Regina did some filming and Courtney helped for a little bit, but couldn’t take the sun for very long (she had gotten badly sunburned the day before), so she went and helped Jasmine update the kids’ files.
  • The guys worked on constructing a building for the little boys, so they can eventually move out of their tent. Some other missionaries came and helped too.
  • Lunch – egg salad sandwich (yum!) and vegetable/noodle soup
  • I fed baby Michelle and then Sarah took over for me.
  • After lunch we were going to start painting again, but it started thundering, so we put all the stuff away and got the laundry off the line.
  • We ended up sorting the rest of the MRE stuff and finished organizing the supply tent.
  • We plan to finish painting tomorrow.
  • Dinner – was very late, more yummy rice (hooray!) with the tomatoey sauce (I didn’t have any, just rice please!) and fried plantain slices (tostones). Also very yummy. I also split an MRE (Tarragon chicken) with Regina, Sarah, and Donnie. I didn’t care for it, so I ate more rice and plantains.
  • Showered after dinner.
  • Read my Bible for a while like I’ve been needing to this whole trip. Good God time.
  • We all had a short discussion on 1 John 3.
  • Watched a video that Jasmine recommended, called Indescribable by Louis Giglio. It was neat. I journaled through parts of it, though, because I was too tired to just sit there and watch it without falling asleep.

The start of the new building for the boys to sleep in.

Floor is complete, now starting on the walls... It began raining, which halted the progress for a while, but the guys went right back to work after it stopped.

The little boys would use whatever was nearby to keep off the rain.

The Martinsons' dog had some puppies, which were popular with the boys.

Monelson, Lowenski, and Daniel. (Teammates: correct me if I'm wrong on any of these names.)

Lowenski, Wilby, and Daniel.

Jethroson :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

  • Woke up early this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep right away, so I started journaling. Went back to sleep and woke up at 6:45am.
  • Breakfast – corn mush, and we grabbed some applesauce and bread out of the supply tent.
  • Sarah and I painted the rest of the Martinson’s house. Regina helped for a while and also did some filming. Courtney played with kids and took pictures.
  • The guys all worked on the boy’s new building.
  • We painters had Donnie come help us with the high places, since he’s so tall. We finished it up while everyone else was eating lunch and then we ate after we had put the stuff away. We left the painty stuff out to get rained on, since it started raining as we cleaned up. We’ll need to get all of that tomorrow morning.
  • Lunch – spaghetti and sliced peaches from MREs
  • After lunch we helped around the boys’ building. They were finishing putting the tin on the roof. Sarah and Regina put screen on the windows. I picked up a bunch of trash around the site. David helped too. And we put some of the tools away. Regina, David, and I put the extra wood away in its pile beside the work shed and Rigan, Sarah, Regina, Courtney, and I worked on getting the boys’ beds into their new building.
  • This was apparently the record for putting up a building – only two days!
  • I helped with putting shutters on the windows – mostly finding and handing nails, pieces of boards, etc. – nothing important, but I did get to help with the boy’s building a little, so I feel like I’m now attached to it or something. It’s always that way when you build a building. Kind of strange…
  • Dinner was rice, vegetables in brothy stuff, and sliced hot dogs, carrots, and onions all cooked together. It was good.
  • Showered after dinner.
  • Packed up most of the way.
  • Discovered major ant festivities in our tent. They were coming in through holes in the floor and were eating my granola bar crumbs. We duct-taped the holes shut and killed all the ants we could find. Hopefully they won’t find us in our sleep…
  • My, my, it’s hot. I’ll be glad to go back to air conditioning and ice cream.
  • That reminds me, Rigan (the nurse here) brought us a frozen chocolate shake with peanut M ‘n M’s in it. It was a little taste of heaven, as Sarah said. We were each very thankful for the few small bites we got! Rigan is sweet.
  • After we found the ants, we joined in the worship time, and apparently the kids all sang each of us a blessing, although I didn’t catch it. I think I was too busy keeping track of little people: I had Rosalin, who had wet herself, trying to sit in my lap, and Felo hanging out beside/behind/on me. He’s so cute and he sat down to sing with me, with his sweet little voice sounding out “Halleluia and amen!”
  • After the worship time, we all went in the classroom with Greg and Jasmine and some of the kids to pray for them. The kids: Rodner (cataracts), Yemima (cerebral palsy), Claudia (skin disease, development problems, fear/shyness), Rositan and Jessica (athlete’s foot), Oltania (blind in one eye), and Katini (mentally handicapped). We also want to keep Ashley (severe scoliosis) and Mercy (not growing like she should) in our prayers, although we didn’t specifically pray for them tonight.
  • So tired…

This is a picture of Rigan that one of the kids took with my camera.

Walls going up.

Putting on the tin roof.

Almost finished.

Inside the new building.

The Martinsons' house before we painted this side.

Almost done - just have the finishing touches left to do.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

  • Finished packing up.
  • Ate breakfast.
  • Said goodbyes. :(
  • Drove to the airport.
  • Got to see more of the scenery than we did on our first day here, since we drove in the daylight this time.
  • Flew back to Tampa via San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Argentine and I. :)

Our team with all the kids and the orphanage staff.

The view of the orphanage gate from the outside.
Until we left, I hadn't realized that there were people living in little makeshift tents just on the other side of the walls.

Driving behind a tap-tap.

Tents filled almost every open field that we passed.

Evidence of the earthquake was everywhere, and there seemed to be surprisingly little effort to rebuild what was damaged.

Haiti was far more hilly and mountainous than I had expected.

Trash was absolutely everywhere, and the Haitians seem to have a habit of burning it, which creates a terrible haze over the island.

One of the many shantytowns that we passed on the way back to Port-au-Prince.

The airport in Port-au-Prince.

The tent cities don't look nearly as squalid from the air as they do on the ground.

Goodbye, Haiti.

That's all that I have for now. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me. :) And if you want to read some of my teammates' perspectives on the trip, you can check out the blog posts that we wrote after we got back. Start reading from the bottom of the page, since the oldest posts are down there. There is also a really neat video on that page, which was created by Shane.

Our first trip to Haiti was an amazing adventure that left us standing breathless before the throne of God. He challenged us in ways we didn’t expect, provided for us in ways we couldn’t have imagined, and used us despite our weaknesses.

He has graciously provided an opportunity for us to return to Haiti in March, from the 5th through the 12th, and I am so excited to be able to minister to the Martinsons and all of their kids once again! Five of us will be returning, and we’ll have three new team members joining us. We aren’t sure what projects the Martinsons will have for us to do, but there will certainly be no shortage of work. Please be praying for us as we prepare for this trip and as we serve in Haiti!

For the glory of God!

~ Hannah