|Posted by Linda Stapleton de Martinez on November 19, 2012 at 6:10 AM|
We needed to take food to Messef more than a week ago. Due to delays in obtaining the permit to take the truck across the frontier, we had to wait and go at the first opportunity, which was Saturday, 17th. There is a new administration and everything is more formal and more costly, along with the usual demands for "tips" every step of the way....but we will not be deterred!
Hoping for a relatively smooth run with the said papers proudly displayed in the front of the truck, we set out just after 4.00 a.m., hoping to make good time. More than five hours later, having battled with flood, pestilence and hunger, we finally arrived at Dejabon and the frontier. Due to flooding from a burst reservoir following days of torrential rain, we were forced to take a long detour and approach Haiti by a different route. The roads were surprisingly good but, when natured called, we discovered that the area was absoluted SWARMING with mosquitoes. Being the only woman on this trip, accompanied by the fearless Pastor Quirico, Danilo, Cecilio and Maximo, there are times when I wish I were a man and this was one of them....they have to expose less skin to the elements (and the mosquitoes) when nature calls!
Despite no-one from Messef meeting us, we got through the border with more ease than usual, although Danilo was called back with my passport and I prayed that they didn't confiscate it prior to my visit to family at Christmas. It turned out an official had seen someone trying to pocket the fees without stamping my passport, which would have resulted in problems on our return, so fortunately that was resolved. But, there are no accidents. During this hold up, Pastor Quirico and I were approached by a young woman who said she'd been a Christian but had turned away and we had the opportunity to minister to her and pray for her, so all was for a purpose. Having since talked to a friend who got caught in no man's land on the bridge on late Saturday afternoon because of a change in clocks and a difference in the time when the two sides of the border close, it could have been much worse. He finally managed to get out when a US envoy was coming through, but it was touch and go. I can think of better places to spend the night than in no man's land on the frontier!
When we finally arrived at Messef, no welcoming party, everything locked up....all very different to our usual homecoming. We soon discovered that those left holding the fort were facing many challenges. Pastor Altesse and Huguette were away preaching, trying to raise offerings for Messef. Dany, the new Children's Director who we spoke so enthusiastically of after the last visit, had burned her leg so badly on a motorbike exhaust pipe that she was hospitalized. In the same hospital, a long way from Messef, was Kindlie, the lovely young wife of Joseph (the new couple who are also doing a fine job), whose baby had died inside her at 6 months and, due to the delay in realizing this, she is now critically ill. So Joseph was left juggling trying to be with his wife and being with the children at Messef. Fortunately, Onikel is not new to taking control, and the older children seem to be becoming more and more responsible, sharing the load, so they press on....battle weary but not beaten.
We also found one poor little boy with the worst conjunctivitus I have ever seen in my life, so distressed with the pain and irritation. It's a miracle that none of the other children appeared to have symptoms...yet....as it is highly contagious. They had nothing to treat it with (or thought they hadn't) so, like so much in Haiti, he was just left to get on with it. Fortunately, I knew of a natural remedy of cherry juice and there was a tree with ripe fruit right on their doorstep, so God always provides. I hope he's now on the mend. We also found poor Gilet, our wonderful chicken keeper of around 15 years, recovering from mumps. The swelling in his neck had gone down but he was still in agony in the nether regions. Poor boy. The dogs didn't look any better and had just produced more puppies. Pastor Quirico insisted that they not be kept inside the orphanage as they can carry all kinds of diseases when untreated, but Joseph felt that decision could only be made by Pastor Altesse. I'm an animal lover, but when you can't look after the children as well as you would like, it is not easy to also try to care for the animals....a sad fact of life in desperate countries.
As it was a Saturday, the school children weren't there, but apparently they have 350 already attending with enrolments still being taken (time is less important in Haiti) and they expect to be up to 500 as the year progresses.
Finally, on a positive note, the children were as loving and funny as ever. I gave them all plenty of kisses and cuddles from you all, which they are desperate for. They hadn't eaten since Friday lunchtime at school, so were very glad of the little biscuits we took and then the big pot of rice and beans that was cooked with great haste by the wonderful young man who is now the carer for the boys.
The chickens are doing amazingly well. In the photos you will see how well, along with a batch of eggs laid over recent times. We took a roll of wire donated by Martin Bampied to extend the size of the chicken run adjoining the coop and the guys completed that job, along with help from Fritz et al, while we were there. Thank you so much to Shauna Quinn for faithfully donating each week towards the chicken food. If a few more of you could step up to help her with a monthly donation, we would have that covered.
We thank everyone who has donated time or money to keep us going with this. You all know who you are. We also thank Cliff Sturdy and Trudy Oliver for becoming regular sponsors in the UK. Even if you cannot give a fortune, knowing that we have a set amount coming in each month is a huge relief. We are taking less food than we used to because everything has gone up in price and it is running out earlier and earlier, but we do the best we can with your generous help. We have a few irons in the fire to try to get more assistance and we are still trusting God that the Bakery project will finally come about but the wheels grind incredibly slowly...at least in my timescale.
Categories: Visits to Messef