Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Baseball Habanero Style Feb. 21, 2012

Organized? Baseball has come to Habanero! A coach is coming on Tuesday and Thursdays to coach the children. There are three teams of differing ages playing baseball and they love it! It is every Dominican boys dream to play for a Major League in the US. They work very hard practicing in the hot sun with very little equipment. They are rag tag teams with big hearts.
The coach has asked us to bring bases and equipment in July. Please search your attics, closets and garages for bats, balls, bases, gloves and cleats that we can take with us for the kids. The coach arranged for a bus to come and take the kids into Barahona (the big city) for a game. They loaded the bus up and then went to the beach afterwards. What a great trip it was for the kids. The icing on the cake was – Habanero spanked Barahona for two games! Go Habanero!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Batey Cinco Feb. 17, 2012

I spent yesterday afternoon looking for a cell phone for Benita’s father, Roberto. I wanted to get the best price, but the phone still needed to play music as he requested. I finally found one for $25 that included activation and FM radio. Today returned to Batey Cinco (5) to deliver the phone and see how the new baby is doing.
A Dominican “Batey” is a small village bu...ilt up around and on sugar cane land. The original inhabitants were illegal Haitians willing to do the back breaking work required to harvest the sugar cane. The villages are poor with very little services available such as water, sewer ad garbage. The people now are 3rd and 4th generation Haitians born in the Dominican, but without proper papers. The villages stay poor and the people continue to suffer. These villages have bad reputations for crime and are not the place one wants to hang out in for too long. They are so ill thought of they haven’t even been named. Just numbers along this sugar cane railroad route…….Batey 1…..Batey 2…..Batey 3.
Wilbur is doing well. Benita is quiet and stays away from both the baby and the adults. I’m not sure what she’s thinking or what’s she’s been through but it’s clear she is not interested in being there. We’ve brought Wilbur a new baby bottle, formula, liquid vitamins and some clothes. We’ve also brought the adults some clothes, rice and oil. Roberto is happy with the cell phone and the mother is happy with the food. Tonight all is well in Batey Cinco.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

No More Sleeping On The Ground Feb. 16, 2012

The Sunday school children at Faith Family Christian Center saved up their offerings to get a set of bunk beds for Josue, Estephen and Samuel. We loaded up the truck and took them to the children. The boys immediately started climbing on them and laughing and playing. So much simple joy with something we take for granted. Samuel the youngest had still been sleeping with his parents, but Josue 5 yrs old and Estephen 4 yrs old had been sleeping on the floor with just a torn raggedy blanket. Thank you to the children of Faith Family for providing the beds for these little ones! Isn't it amazing what we can do when we put our minds to it! Together we can relive a lot of the world's suffering. Let's do it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Benita's Back! Tues. Feb. 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day! A day I will remember always. Benita came home today…………….. Seven of us hopped in the truck and ventured out today to find her in the small village of Bateycinco which is surrounded by sugar cane fields. The locals work cutting sugar cane and loading it onto the freight cars. It’s dusty and dirty, but we see progress coming, the streets are being prepared for paving. We spoke with people and showed them photos of Benita. After a few minutes we encountered one lady who was sure she’s seen Benita and assured us she was with her father Roberto. The woman quickly instructed some children to show us the way.
Batey Cinco is a poor village of 2nd and 3rd generation Haitians who although being born in the Dominican, have no identification papers and are not recognized as citizens. As we followed the children deeper into the village and through back yard paths I was leary of our circumstances. Here we were in unknown territory trying to find a child that was not legally ours. My thoughts races as we walked, would we find her? Was this another dead-end? Are we being lead into a trap? Could we be robbed or the truck be stolen? I said a silent pray for God’s protection as we continued the walk through backyards, pig stys and latrines. Soon we came to a small block house with a woman standing in the door, we inquired and was told no Roberto was not there, we passed onto the next house and then Esau (Yanet’s son) who had looked on the other side of the house cried “Come Mommy come! Benita! We turned around and went back to the house and there she was! Yanet scooped her up and held her close.
Benita looked like she did when I first saw her, sad, timid, shy, quiet with eyes down cast. She buried her head in Yanet’s neck and we all cried. Then Yanet and I went into the dark, dank house which was actually a duplex. There were two small rooms, the first had only a small table the second room had a table, a child’s chair and a mattress on the floor. There we found Roberto’s girlfriend with a 3-day old baby boy, Wilbur. Small, skinny and frail. As I held Wilbur I marveled at how tiny he was and I wondered if he had been born early. Evidently the Mother had no milk as she was soon feeding him something that looked like oatmeal. As we spoke with the Mother she seemed happy to see us and she just said Roberto was “mallo” which means bad in English. As we left the house and began to walk away with Benita, Roberto showed up. Yanet had to use all her diplomatic skills in speaking with him – he did not want Benita to go with us. Yanet talked and talked and Roberto kept saying “No, she cannot go, she is my child, come back for her on Sunday”. Yanet walked a few feet at a time, as we reached the fence Yanet turned and began talking to a couple of women that were standing there. Explaining the situation, pleading our case, so as to build support for our efforts. Yanet told the story of how Roberto had given the Benita away and left her. She explained she had cared for her for two years and then 3 months ago Roberto took her for a visit and never returned her. Over and over and sometimes angrily Roberto responded “Domingo, Domingo, Sunday, Sunday, come for her on Sunday”. It was a very stressful situation to be in, not knowing if we would leave with her or not and not knowing if the crowd that had gathered would turn on us. I knew our hearts were in the right place and hoped that Yanet would be able to convince him to let Benita go with us. Finally Yanet turned to me and said, Roberto says “no, you talk to him”.
I turned to him, put my hand on his shoulder and told him how well Benita did in school, how intelligent she was and it would be good for her to go back to school. I asked him to please let her come stay at my house for just 3 nights and I promised I would bring her back. I was afraid that if we left without her, Roberto would flee with her again. Then Yanet stepped in and began speaking to him again, taking up where I left off, asking if Benita could stay at my house for 3 nights. Finally, Roberto said yes. “Okay, she can go, stay 3 days and then she can go to Yaneth’s house” I was happily surprised by this turn of events. I told him, he would not be out of my memory, I would not forget him, we would help him with Wilbur. He asked us for formula for the baby. As we walked to the Colmado (store) I held his hand and thanked him. We arrived at the Colmado and purchased, formula, rice, oil, salami, catsup, bread, tomato sauce, coffee and surgar. We said good-bye and walked back towards the truck with Benita safe and sound in Yanet’s arms.
My prayer has been only for God’s will to prevail – I prayed that if it was God’s will for Benita to be with Yanet that he lead us to her. And I prayed that if it was His will for her to be with her Father that He protect her and give her the knowledge of our love for her. Glory be to God either way! He knows best – I consider He answered that prayer today and that Benita’s home is meant to be in Habanero. Oh, yes, and on the way to the truck Roberto did ask for one more thing, a cell phone that played music. I promised to bring him one in a few days. I didn’t mind, I thought I got the better part of the bargin. Benita? Cell phone? Easy choice. Benita's back home.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ground Hog Day Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012

It's been like ground hog day here. Blue sky sunshine and children frolicking every day!
The Americans arrive tomorrow – I’m excited about having such great company as the Miller family. I can’t wait to speak English! Haha! Funny how small things mean so much when you don’t have them. I miss full conversations – I only know survival Spanish, which consists of single words not full sentences with lots of hand signals!
We've searched 5 villages for Benita and have not been able to find her. But Yanet heard word tonight that Benita’s father Roberto is working in another village about 20 miles away. We plan to go look for her on Tuesday at 2pm. Praying she is there and we can see her, maybe bring her home, but at the very least let her know we love her and miss smiling face.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Journal Log Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012

I am sick today and have stayed mostly in the house resting, reading, reflecting….. it’s hard to explain life here. I have little food in the house now that the team and Scott are gone. Life is one day at a time here, and as my prayer goes, so does theirs, “Give us today our daily bread”.
Not feeling well and not up to the chore of driving into Barahona to shop. Thank goodness the team left some Cliff bars to nibble on. So tonight’s dinner consisted of soda crackers with a piece of left over ham I had stashed in the freezer. As I opened the crackers I wondered at the fact that not one single cracker was intact. Opening crackers at home I always expect the quality I am used to, fresh, perfect squares, here I always hope for just one that is not broken! Still, dinner is humble, filling and enough. And more than some will eat tonight.
Ramona stopped by and we remembered together about our first meeting at the clinic. I told her I’d come visit her and she told the whole village. No one believed her because no Americans had been here before. We talked about Gerson’s death, the sadness that brought us together and our faith in knowing God’s hand was on us. We believe Gerson and the school in Habanero are all part of God’s great plan. There is comfort and peace in that faith tonight.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Missing Benita Friday, Feb. 3, 2012

We left America January 19th and already completed our dental mission in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We served over 200 needy people, most of them in pain. The American team is already back home and Scott will leave Habanero tomorrow. Lots of work has been done, but my heart is saddened and missing Benita.
Benita’s father left her in Habanero when she was just 4 years old and she has been in Yanet’s care and supported by ...Evergreen4kids for the last 2 years. Benita became the Little Princess of Habanero, taken in by the people, loved and adored. I saw her blossom from a frightened, shy little girl to one with her head held high and full of spunk. In December her father came and asked for her to spend the night with him in another town, with no legal rights Yanet had to let her go. He never brought Benita back. We have searched four villages so far and have no word of her. We pray she is safe and well cared for. I personally pray to see her one more time so I can tell that wherever she is our love travels with her over dusty roads and tin roof shacks…………. And we wait with open arms for the day she comes home.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dental Mission Haiti/DR Feb. 2, 2012

The dental team flew into Port Au Prince and Scott and I met them in Fonds Parisen a small Haitian village just across the Dominican border. There was plenty of work for the dental team and they put Scott and I to work as well. Scott cleaning instruments and myself helping Marika triage the incoming patients. The days were long standing on the concrete porch where we set up our mobile clinic. The patients were orderly and patient with us and so very happy to see a dentist! We were able to relieve a lot of pain and suffering.

We left Haiti after helping over 200 patients and drove across the border in the Dominican. We set up the clinic in a poor barrio in a small town called Cabral. We worked in a yard under a tree for shade. The people were thankful for our out reach to them and invited us back next year. It was hot and dusty, but all the team members were troopers, serving everyone that came in with a smile. I estimate we saw 50 patients there before moving on to Habanero.

Habanero is our home base and everyone was happy to see the Americanos arrive. We spent the evening having dinner of rice and chicken and catching up with old friends. The dental team had time to visit some of the homes of students. This was the dental team’s fifth trip to Habanero but the first that allowed time for visiting.

Three of Evergreen4kids’ Board Members were on the dental team. I was happy there was finally time for them to see the entire village. The mission house where we stay is in the wealthiest area of Habanero, with cement block homes that even have toilets inside. The rest of the village is much poorer, they live in wooden houses with tin roof and shared outhouses. We went to Josue’s house, which is one of the children we provide monthly assistance to. The children are used to visits from Scott and I, but were very shy with the entire group being there. Still it was a treat for them to know the Americans care enough to come to their home. And I think it was an eye opener for those who'd never been outside the school or mission house.

I can see the impact Evergreen4kids has had on this small village over the last few years.
The people are much more industrious, there are vendors on the street and fruit trees producing food for the table and I believe the people have a glimpse of their own potential and hope for the future. Change is slow and our consistent presence is necessary. We are impacting this
next generation of children. Slowly, but surely I see Habanero blooming………
Thanks to all the many hands that help plant the seeds…….