Thursday, Nov. 29
We had another night filled with noisy animals and traffic, so I slept off and on from about 9:30 – 5:30. We had delicious scrambled eggs and bread with pb&j for breakfast. We all headed out together in the van, but we split into 2 teams to install the filters. James would drop off Group 1 with Oldi and Patrick, then drive to a nearby location to drop off Group 2 with Robenson. I was in Patrick’s group with Curtis, Hank, Matt, and Jacob, so he showed us how to install the filters at the first house. They must first be cleaned off and put on a level surface (often the trickiest part), and then you add water, the big rocks (level them out), the small rocks, more water, lots of sand (quickly for a good flow), and more water. You rinse it 3 times to remove dirt & debris from the sand. The amounts and levels all had to be very precise. Finally, you time the water flow for a minute to make sure it’s fast enough. After we finish with each installation, we circle up and pray with the family, then Oldi explains how to use the water system. It takes about 10 days before it’s clean and functional. The guides return to the homes in a couple weeks to make sure everything is working properly and the family is using it correctly.
The first house was nice by Haitian standards – we installed the filter on a porch next to a garage filled with soda and juice bottles that the man obviously sold. The homeowner gave us huge hugs afterward.
The 2nd home was also very nice with several rooms. The woman immediately offered me a seat, which I politely took for a while, even though I wanted to be helping with the installation. She had a cute baby in a nice crib; Hank and I were both thrilled to hold the baby. After we prayed, the woman told us how grateful she was for us to travel all that way to help her family.
The 3rd house was a one-room home, but it was nicely kept and had a beautiful headboard and bedspread. The family was very gracious and offered for several of us to sit while we were there. The 4th house had no roof, but it did have a few rooms. The home had chickens and kittens running around through the house. The lady seemed shy, but gracious. We walked to the next 2 homes since they were close by. Unfortunately the van had taken off with the other group with our water bottles & food inside, so we went without for a few hours. The last 2 homes were both rundown, with just a couple of concrete rooms with uneven, rocky floors. We spent a long time in the 5th house, with several family members standing around watching us, trying make a level spot for the filter. We finally got it by placing the filter on 2 cinder blocks. The final house was very close and went much more smoothly.
We finally made it back to the church around 1:30 or 2. Today’s lunch was spam, pb&j, cookies, and passion fruit juice. Soon we headed out for our final installation of the day (2 for the other team). The house was in a tight community with everyone outdoors. Since the home was small, Curtis and I stayed outside. I began taking photos of the kids and a few of the older folks, and they absolutely loved it. I think some of them had never seen their photos before. There was nothing better than seeing their faces light up when they saw their picture. Most everyone said thank you to me for taking their photo, even though I tried to express how grateful I was to them for letting me. If only I had a way to give them a copy of the photos.
When we left, the lady in the house offered me a large papaya as a thank-you. Hank joked with me for at least a day, because he installed the filter and I got the reward. I was temporarily named the “Papaya Queen.”
We returned to the church and played ball and clapped hands with the kids for a while. We had dinner of coleslaw, fried plantain, delicious breaded meatballs, rice & beans, papaya (my gift), and mango. We played with the kids more, and Kinsey, a 14-year-old boy, gave me a mango. So sweet.
I headed inside after dark and listened to the evening church service. Even though I couldn’t understand it, I was still moved by the singing and loud chanting prayers. We had a great conversation during our evening devotional, then we read or played cards until the generator turned off around 9:30.