Haiti Blog

Brent & Letitia Jefkins

Let’s Go to the Chicken!

We are currently in the Dominican Republic hanging out with some friends before we head back to Canada tomorrow for a month but I wanted to show you some pictures of our last fun event that we did before we left.

It is most likely that our kids will be back in school in September when we return to Haiti so our older teens were asking for us to do a last fun event for them before that, so we arranged to find a swimming pool for them to swim in. It was a first time for a lot of them in the swimming pool but it was awesome!

A pool in kreyol is called a “pisinn” but one of our kids asked what it is called in english, I told him it was called a “pool”. A “pool”?! He laughed… you mean a chicken?! … “poul” in kreyol means chicken. Well, we had a blast at the chicken.

Here are some shots:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Brent.

Advertisements
1 Comment »

Brother Ben

Image

This is Brother Ben.

He is one of the most “amikal” or friendly people that I know. I rarely see this man without a smile on his face.

Fact. He can’t read. Fact number two. He knows more about the Bible than me. Fact number 3 which is obvious… he loves Jesus.

He often tells me that he prays for me.

He is one of the oldest Haitian friends I have. I think he might be 53. He is wise beyond his years and he doesn’t even know it.

He is the lone breadwinner of a house of 13 people.

He commutes 2 hours each way to work each day.

And…

He is our groundskeeper for Kids Alive.

Letitia and I visited his house today which is pretty much right on the ocean. He toured us around his neighbourhood, which was dusty and did not have many trees, but he kept talking about how he thought his neighbourhood was just beautiful. I walked with him to a local shop to buy some drinks and more than once some witty friends of his asked if I was his son…

This is a man that I love. He makes the world around him warm. There are stigmas around his job that it is a job for the “low” or the “poor”. He either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. I think the later.  He is just happy to work. He is happy to serve. I don’t envy his job (try cleaning up a yard and toilets and classrooms that were just used by over 100 kids). But he does his job well. I feel like this guy is what God is looking for in men.

We need more Ben’s in this world.

Brent.

4 Comments »

Wrote a Guest Post…Check it Out!

My good friend Jillian…who is a fellow missionary in Haiti, and a much more dedicated and skilled blogger than I, asked me what I thought the teens in Haiti needed. 

She and her husband, Hunter, are about to transition into a new organization that is dedicated to caring for the older teens coming out of the orphanage they were working with.

She has a heart for these teenagers…the transition home they are starting is awesome!

Check them out: http://emmaushousehaiti.org/

And check out the guest post I wrote for her: http://jilliansmissionaryconfessions.com/2013/06/19/someonetobelieveinthem/

-Letitia

Leave a comment »

The Impulsive Run

On Friday night I was sitting at a local restaurant with some friends celebrating a birthday party when a conversation topic came up, My friend and her coach were going to make the 6 hour drive to Port-au-Prince at 7am the next day to go run in a Sean Penn sponsored 1/2 marathon in the heart of the city. The top few runners Sean Penn was going to financially support to get to the New York marathon. Then they asked, Brent, want to come? So, I thought about it for a second…

– Have I ever ran 22K before? No.

– Have I trained, or even ran more than 3K in the past year? No.

– Do I have running shoes? No.

– Am I going to drop my plans for the weekend and do this thing? YES!

…So we left the next morning, stayed at a friend’s house overnight and on Sunday went to the starting location at about 7am, The race started late, about 9am or so. They said the roads would be blocked off by police, but they weren’t.

So the race began. The majority of the time I was dodging vehicles as they honked at me, including running behind non-emission friendly tap-taps (public transportation) that were blowing black diesel in my face. Also, it was HOT, there were points where I thought I was going to die. I was getting chills, I was cramping up, I was tired. They did have water stations along the way, and when I was getting close to passing out, I asked the lady handing out water how far I have ran, she said 10K… 10K?! That’s not even half! Gah, you don’t know how bad I just wanted to get on a moto taxi and drive to the finish line.

So…I kept going, determined to finish…surely thinking that some of the buff Haitian runners were probably already done the race because they were so fit. Then I kept running. And running. And running. And then I didn’t see anyone anymore. Then I was in a small community area. This can’t be right!

See…there was no one roping of the track, no one directing where to go. No signs. I was lost.

I retraced my steps and asked for directions. Finally I got back in the right direction. I needed to get to the rich neighbourhood of Petionville! I’m guessing I got off course by about 2km, so retracing my steps makes that 4km off track. Never-the-less I made it. I finished. I’m sure I was dead last out of the people who didn’t quit. Running approximately 26km.

So I’m not too worse for wear. My quads hurt a lot when I walk and because of the shoes I wore, I may have ripped off a toenail. But I finished.

So lessons learned from this experience:

1) Train next time

2) Being impulsive is totally worth it

3) Buy running shoes

Here are some pics:

Image

The 3 of Us Before the Run

Image

The Starting Line

Brent.

8 Comments »

Well, they make good stories.

I know in past blogs Letitia and I have talked about how routine things in Canada seem to take a long time in Haiti. In the spirit of fun, I have written some comparative examples about how Canada and Haiti…well… differ. I know that I may or may not be simplifying the Canadian version of these but enjoy!

Image

Cap Haitian Food Market

Getting a receipt:

Canada

Go online and click print or go to store and ask for one.

Haiti

Schedule date with Haitian who sold you product, show up at his house in the middle of downtown Cap Haitian, chat for 20 minutes, then argue/discuss for 20 minutes about what a receipt should look like.  After doing half the receipt, start over. After redoing half of the receipt, go outside to find that someone reversed into your car and that the bumper fell off. Celebrate with smoothies. Continue with receipts while man we need receipt from gets in car that reversed into us and we drive and follow him to mechanic. Finish receipts on side of road as our receipt man shops for candle holders. Remain car-less for most of the rest of the day.

 

Buying a motorcycle helmet:

Canada

Go to store, pick a helmet, proceed to cash register.

Haiti

Wander around Cap Haitian asking motorcycle shops for one. Nobody has any. Last store says that his friend has one, says friend will pick me up and take me to his place. Decline option. Leave town thinking that nobody has any helmets and stumble across one final store. Go inside to realize that there is a bunch of helmets! Ask price. Not for sale, they only come with a motorcycle (turns out almost every motorcycle comes with one but only 1/100 people actually wear them). Ask if they have “extra ones” lying around from people who didn’t see them as helpful in case they face-plant off a moto. Go down alley to some back dark room and they have a closet full of broken ones. Buy 2 for $15.

 

Laundry

Canada

Go to laundry room, insert laundry and soap, return in 30 minutes.

Haiti

For our clothes, we pay a lady to wash them once a week. She does an awesome job. As for sheets and towels: call friends, see if they have electricity. If no… no laundry. If yes… car is not available, find moto taxi on way and get driven there with laundry on lap, or cannot find moto taxi and therefore walk alongside highway with laundry over shoulder like Santa Clause with his Christmas gifts. Proceed to use machine: you bucket load water into machine (1st  manual compartment), with soap, run for 5 minutes, drain water, put laundry in spin cycle (2nd manual compartment), load laundry into first compartment with non-soapy water, spin cycle again, did I lose you yet? Return home in similar fashion to how you arrived.

 

Borrowing a car:

Canada

Car is at mechanics getting full work up for 3 days. Call friend, borrow car, put some gas in it as thank you.

Haiti

Car is at mechanics getting full work up for 2 months. Call friend, borrow car. Borrowed car’s transmission hardly works. After having borrowed car for 3 days, friend decides he wants to “rent the car” now. Pay to borrow car. Give back car. Friend find different car with shredded interior, no locks, one windshield wiper, cracked windshield… it was actually sitting in someone’s backyard for at least 5 years and friend resurrected it as favour to me. Use it for a while, friend borrows the borrowed car to go to funeral. Need different car, walk to friends house along highway because no moto taxis are around. Their car battery is dead. Go back home and stay in for the night. 

 

Grocery Shopping

Canada

Go to grocery store, fill up grocery cart, proceed to cash register.

Haiti

Park car on side street in downtown Cap Haitian (the one that doesn’t lock). Walk through muddy mess of grey water in outside market that takes up 7 blocks or so of streets. Find lady who has majority of what you want (usually one lady will sell rice, pasta, pasta sauce, flour, sugar, oil, ketchup). Barter price. Proceed to find next person, perhaps to find toilet paper. Barter price. Proceed to vegetable area. Barter Price. Oh I forgot to mention that you are dodging wheelbarrows full of everything from chopped up cow to refrigerators. Also be aware of pushing people, people asking you for money, everybody asking you to buy from their stand. Once in awhile you will dodge the odd motorcycle too. Continue to fruit area. Barter Price. Get out of market. Drive home. Shower. Nap.

2 Comments »

A Thought From Riding on the Back of A Moto

Most of it just feels like routine these days, but yesterday I had a glimpse of how blessed our lives are. The funny thing is that I didn’t have this revelation playing with our kids or anything like that. Rather, it was when I was riding on the back of a motorcycle with a 3 foot car part on my lap while my friend driving was dodging potholes, dump trucks and buses along the main “highway” in Cap Haitian.

Image

The nice part of the “highway”

My revelation wasn’t even a thought, but more a sense. I guess I could define it as a sense of fulfillment. See… I am naturally someone who wants to keep moving forward, going onto the next thing. I tend to get bored easily. So the fact that I felt this way is enough for me to hijack our blog for today. But seriously… we are living in the exact place God wants us and it’s beautiful.

While Letitia has been has been making strides with her relationship with our older teens in our program, I have found a resounding love for our community kids (these are kids that don’t live full time with Kids Alive but simply come to our school and are fed).  Mainly the love started from them. Ever since I got here, they have kind of magnetized themselves to me… my life is blessed.

Speaking of our older kids. I am trying to play soccer with the boys on Saturdays. By trying I mean they kick my butt every stinking week. In their bare feet! It’s a humbling experience when a 13 year old with no shoes can run circles around you.

– Brent

Here are a few more random shots for you!

Image

HA! We are finishing up our 3rd children’s home with a family that already moved into it last week.

Image

Brent and one of the girls who moved into our 3rd children’s homes on site.

Image

Letitia doing one of her regular tasks. Keeping the kids focused on their homework!

 

Brent's new mode of transportation. Only $2/week on gas!

Brent’s new mode of transportation. Only $2/week on gas!

Brent out with the community kids.

Brent out with the community kids.

 

7 Comments »

Beach Day

I posted a good chunk of photos on Facebook, but for those of you who aren’t ‘Facebookers’ I thought I would give you a sample of how much fun we had on our annual beach day!

 

 

As we were driving home, I had this overwhelming feeling of contentment. I’m so happy to be apart of this organization for however long (or short- depending on how you look at it) God calls us to be here. All the younger kids were exhausted from a 12 hour day of fun, so within a few minutes there were little ones passed out in older ones laps. Dads and moms with a few kids in their arms, older boys with younger boys asleep on them, some seats full of everyone sleeping but somehow still keeping themselves from falling out of their seat. It felt like one big…really big, bus full type big…family!

Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of this because I also had a sweet child passed out on my lap!

We are blessed to be able to know these kids and families. It’s what makes all the difficult times worth it!

Letitia

2 Comments »

We haven’t posted in over a month. Sorry to all our faithful readers…how boring 🙂

Since we last posted, school has been let out for the summer, and a wave of teams have come. Two have come and gone, and in two weeks a two-week team comes.

The last two weeks with a team from Texas and a team from Connecticut, were busy and fun. Besides being a blessing to us personally, they got a lot of work done. They painted and pretty much finished our guardhouse- equipped with surrounding sidewalk. They build a sidewalk to our 3rd house. They cleaned out our first house, which was full of stuff (an explanation on that later). They built trusses for our new school (also in the explanation later) and helped pour the foundation and pillars for our new school. And there is probably a handful of things I’m missing. We had a games day with the first team, with all the kids, and a weeklong science camp with the second team. All were a blast! It kept me busy too!

In other (sadder) news, you may have already heard through our newsletter, but we lost our school land, which housed our school- obviously- and our team house. It’s a complicated and mostly uninteresting story of why we lost it. But I’ll tell you that it threw a wrench into a lot of our plans. House construction plans, team plans, summer program plans, intern plans, etc. Our Haitian construction workers spent a week moving everything off the land, taking down the school (to rebuild at the new site), packing up all the stuff we had, and they even took out the windows and doors to reuse later.

It was sad and disappointing to lose the land and there were lots of things up in the air for a while, but everyone is being flexible and working with what we have. Spirits have come back up again, as the initial sadness has worn off. Our new site is a beautiful place, with lots of trees and big mountains off in the distance, so it’s actually lovely being there!

All in all God is good! And we can celebrate everything He has done for us!

I hope to post again soon, before Wave Number 2 comes!!

-Letitia

2 Comments »