Such an Improvement in 8 Years

May 20, 2017

Bob Swanson ~ First day of clinic was not quite as busy as we had hoped.  We only ended up seeing 57 people.  We think it was because this was market day and many of the people were there.  We do miss Daniel and Hannah who were here with us last year.  It was really nice to see Fr. Vilnor yesterday in Port-au-Prince.  We have pictures of the rebuilt church at St. Joseph Parish in Port-au-Prince.  He seemed happy to see us and told us to return to visit any time.  Fr. Leland has treated us like royalty.  He is always so welcoming and treats us very well.  It is great to see the window in the Church that St. Michaels funded.  St. Michaels Parish is so generous to this parish and has really changed the lives of many people here.  Tomorrow we will go to LeRoche to bless the cisterns and see the water filters that St. Michael’s purchased.  Really looking forward to seeing those being used.  Thank you all at St. Michael’s for blessings on this parish.  They are lucky to have you as a friend.

Don Swanson ~ Arrived in Port Au Prince Thursday.  Spent Friday morning and afternoon exploring the city.  An incredible experience.  The city still has a lot of damage from the earthquake from 7 years ago.  Drove through the market area and it took about an hour to move half a mile…  huge number of people and vehicles trying to share the streets.  I had a lost bag from the flight the day before.  So, we had to stick around Port Au Prince until afternoon until the bag arrived. Very thankful that it was found.  That bag had all my belongings for the week.   Today was our first day of dental clinic.  So, many young people needing to have a tooth or two pulled.  The dentists, Patrick and Pasquel, are so efficient yet compassionate how they do their business.  All the kids seemed so relaxed as they were getting their teeth pulled.  I did mostly assist work for the dentists…  setting up syringes and giving utensils.  There is so much need here in Haiti.  It can be overwhelming.  Yet, I think the small things that are being done by St. Michaels are making people’s lives better.  I have heard so much about the well in front of St. Joseph that was put in a number of years ago by St. Michael’s.  It truly is a blessing for them.  The water is being drawn non stop.  That affects so many people’s lives.  Tomorrow, we will hit LeRoche to bless the cisterns.   Looking forward to this.  This has been a life project for my mom and St. Michaels to get water to as many people as possible.  I am very proud of the work she has done.   Coming up this week we will be trying to set up a latrine for Thome.  We also have 4 more extraction clinics and fluoride applications.  More to come………

Louis Gula ~ It’s hot here in Haiti, but Tim and Lavina are asking me every hour if I have taken water. I am religiously. Such an improvement in the facilities since St Michael’s first group came to make a twinning commitment to St. Joseph’s 8 years ago. The water well is providing the community with safe water, the church is built, the old building that held Mass in those days is now a school with a second story for more class room space. Congratulations St. Michael’s for your commitment to this project. We had a visit with Father Vilnor, who was pastor at my first visit. He is in St. Joseph – Port-au-Prince, and was recovering from pink eye. He was happy to see us, and sends his regards.

LaVina Dise ~ Today is our first day at the dental clinic and we had 59 patients and 68 teeth extracted. It took too long to get started with packing and then setting up, but we did get started at 11:00 AM. Today was market day so there weren’t many people there. Hope tomorrow is better. It is hot here but I love it. Maybe it is the Prestige that I love. Rosanne, I’m thinking of you. Father Lalande said he would like to visit us this Aug. if we can work things out. He well be in New York so we would just get him from there and back. I am thankful that I am here and blessed in so many ways. Thank you everyone for making it possible for me to be here. Father is so nice and is glad we are here. We had a wonderful meeting. There is so much to share with you when I get home.  As Louis said we visited  Father Vilnor in  Port-au Prince at St Joseph. He was so glad we came to see him and asked if we could come again.

Tim Ryan ~ All is well with the team.  Set up the clinic today and everyone quickly learned the routine of the clinic.  Looking forward to next 4 days of clinic, and hopefully we will be able to receive the pain of all that seek out our help.

Arrived in Fond Parisien

May 20, 2017

The St. Michael’s Remus Dental Team has arrived in Fond Parisien.  They were delayed a bit yesterday due to Don’s lost suitcase which came on a later flight.  He is happy to have his underwear and continue the trip.  The group had a nice visit with Father Vilnor and is looking forward to sleeping well tonight and getting started tomorrow.

Team Haiti 2017

April 9, 2017

Team

tim3 Tim Ryan ~ This was a great group for me to travel with this year to Haiti.  Pause for a little disclaimer:  I have never had a bad group.  This team delivered water filters, purchased by the Holy Spirit School students who raised money during Advent, so families could live longer healthier lives.  They also covered homes made of corn stalks with tarps so that families could stay dry during the four month rainy season, built a stone wall to keep the water from damaging the home of a blind man, and worked at Saint Mother Teresa’s Orphanage to bring comfort and aid to the babies and toddlers.  I am so proud of this team for all that they accomplished and for making a difference in so many lives.  This is where they spent Spring Break, and I am sure they will remember it for the rest of their lives.  God Bless our future leaders who share faith, hope, and compassion!

Goodbye, Beautiful Haiti

April 6, 2017

ColleenColleen Ryan ~ August 5, 2017. Today as we passed through many sights of Haiti, it came to me, like it has on other trips, of how beautiful and inspiring Haiti is. From above on Radio Hill, Haiti is seen in its true colors as an amazing Caribbean island. This country is filled with color and beautiful culture that is experienced by coming here. In pictures of trash, broken down buildings, and slums, you are not seeing what is truly underneath and the beauty that is so deep in everything in Haiti. My experience of Haiti has been a life changing experience of seeing a country so rich in spirit that I can only now see Haiti in its true colors. The physical beauty of the island is only amplified by the people within, who make the country full of distinct culture and tradition. The crazy driving, the trucks filled to the brim, kids everywhere wanting to take pictures, markets on all the roads, unique art, and most of all the immense joy rooted in the people is what pulls me back to this island every time. I have had another trip of amazing moments, and I cannot wait to come again.

CamyCam Mannion ~ Yesterday we went to the orphanage, and it was one of the saddest things I have ever seen. The kids there have no one but the people that take care of them. Us being there for them so so good but so hard, because you would hold one of the kids and try to give them the affection they need, and then you would go to the next one and the one you just put down would cry and cry because they don’t normally get that love and affection from anyone all day. There are so many kids there that it is so hard for the ladies there to keep up with all of the kids. Some of them sit in pee and just cry because they don’t know what else to do. One kid peed on me but it was so easy not to be grossed out because you realize they have no one but you at that time, and you forget about all the other things and just focus on if they are comfortable and if they feel loved. The toddlers were also hard, because the kids at this age are normally pretty big and can walk, but the kids here are just so tiny, and there are some that can’t even walk. The toddlers are harder to look at in a way because they know that they are left, and they know that they aren’t getting the love that they need. It is easy helping someone in a hospital that you know when you finish helping them they have a family to take care of them and love them. But the sick kids here don’t have that. All they have are the people who help out, and the people like us that come to visit. It was an amazing experience to be there to help those kids.

ErinErin Mangan ~ April 6, 2017. Yesterday we went to three different places around Port-Au-Prince. We went to a place called Tin City. There were a ton of shops with amazing artwork in them. Then we went to a restaurant with an incredible view of the island. Lastly, we went to the orphanage. The orphanage is so hard to go to, but I love being able to see all the kids. Showing love to kids who only have the people who take care of them is an experience I will never forget. I am really sad to be leaving Haiti. I wish I could spend more time here with such amazing people. I have learned so much about this country, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. I love you all so much and I can’t wait to see you! 🙂

GinaGina Vicini ~ Out of the three places we went to yesterday, the orphanage will definitely stick with me the most. The first room we went in had the sickest babies. When I picked up one of the baby girls, I could feel all of the bones in her back but she still would smile up at me. The worst part of the orphanage would be when you would put the kids down and they would just wail because it could be the last connection they would get with a person for that day besides getting their diaper changed. When we let the toddlers run out on the little playground, they were so happy but would also scream when we had to go. This spring break has been extremely eye opening and will be one I will never forget.

AndieAndie Johnson ~ Yesterday we went to tin city, which was cool to see different peoples artwork, a really nice lunch with a view, and Mother Teresa’s orphanage. At the orphanage, the kids would cling to you due to the lack of touch they receive. Most of the kids were sick, whether it be fevers from the heat or swelled tummies from malnutrition. Being able to meet them and spend time giving them some of the attention they deserve made me both grateful and sad at the same time. Through this whole trip, I have learned to take nothing for granted, like ice and mirrors and paved streets, and to find joy in the little things in life, rather than being greedy and constantly wanting more and more material things. Though my time here has been short, I am sure of the difference we have made on these people, and I am hopeful to see this beautiful country again.

EmmaEmma Moore ~ Today is the last day we are in Haiti. I’m going to miss it so much but I’m very excited to be going home. I’m going to miss this country and all of the people who live in it. I really would like to come again and see all of the amazing people and my friends who live in it.

 

 

Abby WAbby Wila ~ Thursday, April 6, 2017. Today is the last day in Haiti. I got to sleep in and after that I showered. Now we are playing Peon. I have enjoyed this trip a lot and got to meet a lot of people. I enjoyed experiencing different cultures and trying new things. This has changed my view on my life and the world we live in. I am very glad that I got to go on this trip of a lifetime and excited to travel more!

 

CassidyCassidy Triestram ~ Today is the last day in Haiti, and this week feels like it flew by. Although I am going to miss the views, I can’t wait to get into my own bed and get a good night sleep for the first time in a week in a half. Be back soon!!!!!

 

 

MargoMargo Milanowski ~ Last night, our group sat atop one of the roofs of the guest house in Port au Prince, enjoying the breeze and cool evening air, listening to music. We were being teens, talking and laughing and fighting over what songs to play, until the power of our section of city cut out. For a few seconds, the only light came from hazy moon through clouds, and everything else was dark. The generators in the guest house kicked on, and our light came back, but the surrounding streets remained dark. We heard yelling in the streets, and our minds jumped to night conclusions, that maybe the power was cut, there was a riot, who knows. People were probably just yelling because the power was out. We assumed this was unusual, but in truth, it’s not. In Haiti, the power may go out. There might not be enough food to feed your children for dinner, that night or the next night or the night after. Success might be making it past infancy. We get to ride a plane home to our cozy beds and lives after a few days without showers, but here, the lifestyle does not end at the close of the week.

Visiting the Orphanage and Touring Port au Prince

April 6, 2017

MaryannMary Ann Vicini ~ It is so hard to put into words the sights, sounds, smells and feelings that this trip invokes within you.  I appreciate the work that Tim puts into this trip to give the team members a multi facetted experience in the hustle and bustle of Port Au Prince to the peaceful agricultural living in the mountains at Seguin.  Haiti is a complex country, and I walk away with a different perspective and appreciation of the opportunities that we take for granted every day in the USA.  The kids on this trip were amazing, it gives me great hope for the future!

MichaelMichael Petrella ~ It has been another amazing trip to Haiti.  This is my seventh trip. and I love watching the first time trip goers as much as seeing old friends that I now have in Seguin.  It was great to see Roger, our blind friend, and help build two walls in front of his house to divert water away when the heavy rains come.  We also arranged for his latrine and cooking house to be rebuilt after the last hurricane washed it away, and that construction has already started.  We also purchased a box spring, mattress and frame for him.  He had been sleeping on a bamboo matt on the floor.  He was so happy he pulled Tim and me onto the bed and made us lay with him for a picture.  The kids all had so much fun interacting with the Seguin kids, braiding hair, playing soccer, learning each other’s language and dancing to music.  Many cornstalk houses have tarps over them now, and many families now will have clean water due to the new water filters the kids delivered and taught them how to use.  I love to share this trip with daughter each year, and I already can’t wait wait to come back.

edEd Moore ~ My daughter came last year, and I thought I had a good perspective for what this trip will bring.  Looking at a picture will not prepare you for the sights and sounds of living in Haiti for a week.  Mountains beyond mountains best describe the scenery but words would be hard to describe the people…  Very caring, honest people that love life and have so much to give. As Baby said taking a picture with the girls and a big grin on his face, ”This is life!”  As my first mission trip it was fun making friends and getting to know the other chaperones.  Working side by side and driving around Haiti we had many great laughs about the kids and little things that happened during the day.  I will miss Sequin.

LauraLaura Mangan ~ We spent a few hours this afternoon at St Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Port au Prince.  I was not prepared for the emotional response of this experience.  Each baby so hungry for human touch and love.  We couldn’t take any photos during our visit, so I tried to capture an image in my mind of each of our kids as they cradled these beautiful babies – each smile, laugh, coo, or just head on a shoulder was breathtaking.

Abby WAbby Willa~ Tuesday, April 4, 2017. We packed up and left the rectory, saying our final goodbyes to our new friends. Took some pictures and hugged and thanked Father Gilbert to which he replied “ok.” I love that dude. He was so welcoming and always so happy to see us. We then started the drive down to the beach in Jacmel. It was my first time in the ocean, and I LOVED it! The water was so warm, and the waves were really fun to jump in. We also got bombarded by vendors on the beach. There was no one on the beach when we arrived, but everybody and their brother found out “blancs” were there. Thankfully, they were easy to barter with, so I obviously snagged some souvenirs. I also got very tan and very burnt. We then arrived back at the Guest House and everyone hopped on the wifi (dang millennials). Camy and I played dominoes way too late, but it was fun.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Today we started our day by going to Tin City (or Tin Town as I called it) and shopped around for a bit. It was so cool seeing all the vendors creating sign after sign and asking us to come in their shop. They had some pretty cool stuff there, but a lot of it would have been too hard to fly back to MI 😦 Again, they were also easy to barter with. From there we took a long hot ride in the 15 passenger van up to Radio Tower. We passed by the rich neighborhoods of Haiti and talked about our communal house we were going to build. There were some beautiful houses there! We also got to see the famous colored houses of Haiti. Once we got to the restaurant at Radio Tower, the view was incredible. stunning. unreal. You could see the coastline and the mountains and the airport and all the different living areas of Haiti. It was so pretty! I ordered chicken tenders and Arizona tea and enjoyed the view. Then we went to the orphanage. It was so sad but so rewarding because they never get that much attention, but giving them a smile and a laugh meant the world to them. It was so hard to put them down. Then we stopped at the grocery store and ate ice cream and bought some Haitian specialties (I’ll show you when I get home, mom and dad). It was very inexpensive, and I even got some Goudes back…Successful last day. See you in GR!!

CassidyCassidy Triestram ~ Today was great, we went to a large market place called Tin City, and I bought a few things and bartered quite a bit. Some of the store owners were difficult to barter with, but I made a few deals. A few of us met a guy who called himself Mr. Gooddeal or Mr. Goodprice, I can’t remember. He even told us that he had better deals than Walmart. After that we went to a restaurant that had an amazing view of the entire city. I have to admit, the chicken tenders and fries was a nice change from quinoa, plantains, and canned chicken/tuna. After lunch, we went to the orphanage where I held a ton of kids. The most heartbreaking part was when I put the babies down, and they would begin to sob. One of the babies I held peed on me and another one drooled all over my shoulder. After the babies, we went outside to play with the toddlers. One of the kids kept coming over to me and asking me to hold him. He gave me several leaves and refused to leave my side. After that I went into another baby room where Joey asked me to “hold this kid because he won’t let go of me”, and then after I took the kid found out that he just forgot which crib he got the kid from and wanted me to take care of it so he didn’t have to. Even after getting peed on and overheating in the car for hours, it was a good day. Even though I never want to leave, I can’t wait to get back to my own bed, take a shower, and flush a toilet. Less than 24 hours to go!!!!!

Swimming in the Caribbean Sea

April 5, 2017

The group arrived safely down the mountain, enjoyed swimming in the warm sea, and are now relaxing at the guest house.  On the agenda tomorrow is visiting Mother Teresa’s Orphanage and touring Port au Prince.

Last Night in Seguin

April 4, 2017

Tonight most of the group is too busy to blog.

BearBearenger Petrella ~ Our last full day in Seguin was full of adventure.  We woke up and had a great breakfast.  After eating, the team loaded up the cars and headed out for ‘Ryan’s Peak.’  We drove through a forest like area up to the peak.  When we got there we were amazed with the view.  Everyone took pictures and watched the clouds until it was time to leave.  We then drove to the water source and learned about it.  The water comes from a spring and is immediately contaminated with bat waste.  We walked down to a small waterfall and took photos again.  We explored the area until it was time for lunch.  We ate by our cars and we were soon off to the rectory.  Everyone was very tired so some of us took a small nap.  We went outside and played with the kids.  We went inside for our last dinner in Seguin.  I will definitely miss Seguin, and I hope to come back again on this trip.

Abby RAbby Rakus ~ Today, we had an action-packed day; yet, it’s also sad to realize it’s our last day here in Seguin. The first thing we did was journey up the mountains to ‘Ryan’s Peak’. Along the way, it looked very familiar to life back in Michigan. The view was absolutely amazing! You can see so much from high up in the mountains! Then, after taking pictures, we got back in the cars and headed to see a water source that had a small waterfall. Next, we ate lunch in the forest and arrived back at the rectory. A lot of us decided to take a nap due to tiredness. After that, we went outside to play with the kids. We just finished our last dinner in Seguin. Can’t believe we’ll be back home in Michigan in the next few days…this trip’s gone by SO fast!

Sunday, April 2nd

April 3, 2017

Abby RAbby Rakus ~ Today, we started off the day by attending a Catholic Mass. It was so cool seeing the Haitian people get into the music! It was awesome seeing a different perspective of our faith and how we celebrate it. Then, we headed out to the mountains to tarp a few houses. One of the ladies that was following my group decided to carry a tarp with her until we got to her house because she desperately needed it for her roof. It started raining on the car ride back to the rectory, so we all decided to split up. I took a short nap, yet it was relaxing. The chicken was really good tonight at dinner! The sunset right now is absolutely gorgeous!

AndieAndie Johnson ~ This morning we were woken up by the sound of father ringing the bell which lets everyone know that Mass starts soon. The Mass was beautiful, and the church was like nothing I’ve seen before. The happiness to be at church and the willingness to sing with your whole heart, which is what everyone did, is something I rarely see in Michigan. After church, we tarped a couple houses before the rain came, which made me feel good knowing that their houses were protected from any damage. A moment that stuck out to me was when we met a quiet girl in frog pajamas, and her body clearly showed malnutrition because of her swollen cheeks and bloated stomach. Everyone here amazes me because of their appreciation for the little things they have, and how the slightest things, like giving them a cracker, can change their day.

GinaGina Vicini ~ Today we got up for Mass, thinking it was at 8, but really it was at 9. At church, it was crazy how all of the clothes were pressed and spotless despite living on dirt. Everyone sang their heart out, and at the end they sang happy birthday to anyone born in April. After church we went and tarped houses after walking through the hills and mountain. My favorite parts of my days continue to be when we get back to the rectory and play/ hang out with the local kids. Today I sat for probably an hour or more with one kid just sitting and reading from a Creole-English dictionary. It was a very long book and we still are not done. I also learned about “WhatsApp” and got some digits. Until tomorrow.

MargoMargo Milanowski ~ I talked with some of the girls here on the mission with me about how the people we meet assume leadership roles – the children all obey the older boys, and when they are not around, there’s an older, bigger child who will tell them not to push each other around, not to stand in front of the jump rope, the like. An older little girl here pulled the boys back when they blocked the jump rope from reaching over the little girls, keeping an eye out for the ones trying to trip them up. There are things that are universal, things that we see in some form everywhere. Kids will always mess with dogs, mothers will always love the children they hold, and someone will always take charge. Our minds and hearts have the same complexities, our personality traits are all the same. There are kids who are introverted and ones who are extroverted, and little girls who are shy and little girls who will ask your name. There are little boys who will ask for food and little boys who will just stand beside you, just like there are little kids back in Michigan who are perfect angels when you babysit and little kids who play pretend and tell you you’re in jail and try and tie you up so they can do whatever you want. Yeah, that happened. Kids are kids, and they’ve got some spunk everywhere.

CamyCam Mannion ~ This trip is amazing. The kids here are so sweet and adorable and never fail to make you smile. This trip has taught me so many things about life, it has taught me that the little things in life matter the most. Never take life for granted, there are so many more things to life that just items. Life is so short and these kids really show you how to live it. The kids here that just come up to you and ask for a picture or a hug or want to sit on your lap just make you smile and wonder how they can be so kind hearted and care about you. The children here are the most outgoing kids I have ever met and I can’t believe how amazing these kids are. The littlest things just like playing with them makes them so happy and they feel special. We whine and cry about so many things, and some of these kids have nothing but it’s like you would never know because of how happy they are. This trip is so amazing so far.

EmmaAlyssaEmma and Alyssa! ~ Today we woke up early to the bells that they ring along with the dogs barking. I (Emma) woke up congested and blew my congestion away:) We went to church, and it was really cool to hear singing in a different language. After church we went to tarp people’s houses and had to walk uphill a lot. We found some cool flowers that tend to make people “crazy” and now they are sitting in the room. It is really cool to see the different culture of the people who live here. The smiles on the kids’ faces makes our day. At night the clouds come down, so it gets very foggy. We didn’t see Ryan’s Peak, but maybe we will tomorrow. We both miss our dogs so tell them we say hi.

ColleenColleen Ryan  ~ This morning we woke very early to go to Mass. The Haitian Mass is always enjoyable to go to since the people are so joyful with even the little they have. We also went out to tarp and Alyssa and I found flowers that are used as drugs for people. In the truck ride back to the rectory we sang old songs and had lots of fun. These trips really put into perspective how amazing our lives in America are. The kids in Seguin are excited for the simplest things like a hair tie or a soccer ball, whereas kids back home feel the need to have everything they see. The joy that the people have here in Seguin is an immense and unmeasurable joy that amazes me every time. Thank you, Haiti, for stopping me in my needy tracks every time and making me realize how blessed we are and how amazing you are.

Abby WAbby Wila ~ Today after the confusion of Mass times, we had a short walk down to the church. We went to Mass in Creole, and although the only word I could understand was “Amen”, it was beautiful. Patrick was translating most of it to us, and the priest was saying how we are all one people under one God. It really put this trip into perspective because that is so true. God brought us all together to celebrate Mass together and help one another. No matter where we are, we are all the same. He was also saying how we often say we’re Christian but don’t do anything about it. We have to act on our faith. I really connected to that because that’s the whole reason we are on this trip, to act in our faith. After Mass, we tarped houses and again, drew a crowd. We met so many little kids and one special little girl in particular, who we called Froggy. She bounced down the hills everywhere we went and was shy to hold my hand. We also saw a skimpy rooster 😉 After tarping, it began to rain on the ride back to the rectory. We sat in the truck bed and talked about our animals and album cover again 🙂 When we got back, Cassidy and I colored pictures and laughed a lot. Then the dinner bell rang so we ate dinner-the rice was not good today 😦 After dinner we went outside to play with the kids again. Valerie braided my hair again and then I was jump roping with the girls. As it got darker, the kids wanted to be held. One little girl, Fila was dancing with me and doing pull ups on my arm!! I tossed her in the air and she giggled. She then wrapped herself around me and held tight to say, “I love you”. I cried. The way she held so tight on to me and didn’t want to leave, touched my heart. Surprisingly, this was the first time I cried on this trip. Then Eddy showed me his Creole/English/French dictionary and we were learning different phrases. He gave it to me so I could study overnight. I love it here because everyone is so happy to see us and always make us laugh. They are all so entertained by the simplest things and it truly humbles me. I love them so much and I can’t believe that I have the opportunity to be here-it is so amazing! Wow life is good.

ErinErin Mangan ~ We had Mass today. I loved all the beautiful singing and praising from the people there. The priest mentioned the importance of unity between us Christians. He gave a really nice story about staying together to fight temptation. We also put more tarps on homes. Throughout the hike between houses, we learned many new Creole words. It is so much fun to meet these kind and loving people. They always show their gratitude to us. I’m sad that tomorrow is our last day in Seguin, but I’ve loved every second here. I will always cherish this opportunity to do what I love. I miss you all, and I can’t wait to see you:)

Delivering Water Filters

April 2, 2017

ColleenColleen Ryan ~ Today we went to hand out water filters to the citizens of Seguin. It is great to be back in Haiti and be with everyone again. It’s great to see the beautiful landscape and, most of all, the wonderful people. Walking through the mountains is always a hike, but being with the Haitian kids who walk with us always helps us keep going. Haiti is a rewarding experience that has so many benefits for everyone, the people and myself. I’m very excited to be back in such a joyful place with spirit beyond compare, and I cannot wait for many more adventures to come on this student trip.

Abby RAbby Rakus ~ Today, we handed out water filters to families and explained how to use them. We walked through jungle-like landscapes to get to the people’s houses and through rocky landscapes as well. The people seemed very appreciative of the filters we brought them. Walking through the mountains became tiresome very quickly, yet the purpose of bringing filters to people allowed me to keep walking.The kids kept following us from house to house. I cannot express how thankful I am for this opportunity to be here helping the people of Haiti. In fact, this experience beats the “typical spring break” hands down! The people here are so full of joy and gratitude, despite having less than we do in the States. I’m so excited for the rest of this trip, and to be quite honest, I don’t think I’ll want to leave!

ErinErin Mangan ~ Today we handed out water filters and put tarps on homes around Seguin. It’s amazing to be back in Seguin with so many wonderful people. Everyone is so nice and the people love to help us when we work. Yesterday we were moving rocks and so many kids came to help us. They would fight over who could carry more rocks. I love it here, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to be able to do this. Mom also loves it here, and acts like she wants to come back:) I am excited to have many more adventures with such happy people. I can’t wait to show you all the pictures I have! I love you, and I can’t wait to see you.

AlyssaAlyssa May ~ Yesterday we helped a blind man named Roger. We made him a wall to help to avoid flood damage to his house. We met many young kids who came around his house when they saw us there. They had the brightest little smiles I have ever seen. It is amazing to see how happy most of the people here are. Last night we played games with the kids and taught them how to make friendship bracelets. We also put string in people’s hair. Today, we brought water filters to people and explained how to use them. We also put tarps up on a few houses. The weather has been great, and we only had a little rain yesterday. I have learned lots of Creole from the people. Many of the people speak a little bit of English and can tell us words in Creole. I hope to come back home fluent;)) I have fallen a few times, but you know no pain, no gain!!!!

joeyJoey Meighan ~ Coming into Haiti was quite the experience, when we finally landed in Port Au Prince we had to wait at the airport (which seemed less like an international airport and more like what we’d consider a regional airport) there for what felt like hours. When we finally left we packed up all of our luggage (checked and carry ons) into the back of 2 pick up trucks and all the people that didn’t fit into the trucks loaded into 2 SUVs. We then took a short ride through the constant and crazy traffic that are the streets of Port Au Prince. I honestly don’t think there are traffic laws of any sort. Over the past three days in which we traveled I think i have only seen 1 traffic light. After a fun afternoon at the guest house, we had an amazing dinner (my favorite part was the fresh mango). After dinner we proceeded to go up on the roof and watch the sunset and then look at the views of Port Au Prince and the surrounding mountains which at the time I at least thought was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Then we went to bed and woke up bright and early the next day at 7 am. We then realized that over night our room had seemed to dropped to sub-zero temperatures. And again the guest house had whipped up an amazing breakfast for us, and after breakfast everyone packed up and got dressed into more comfy travel clothes as we were told there could be anywhere from a 6-8 hour drive to Seguin from Port Au Prince. Long story short we had a lot of car troubles and ended up having to rent a different truck than one of the ones we had started with, and the maximum 8 hour car drive ended up taking much longer than 8 hours. This is a random thought about our drive but… the interpreter driving our car informed everyone that in one slightly less than 30 mile stretch of mountainous road on the path from Port Au Prince to Jacmel (a city that marked the halfway point in our journey) there were 386 curves in the road, he said he had counted multiple times, and yet I swear there had to be double that. Once the very very very bumpy ride up to Seguin had concluded, we all hopped out of the cars and got a BIG stretch in and then immediately lined up to go to the bathroom. Then yet again we all enjoyed an amazing dinner at the rectory consisting of chicken, fried plantains, and coleslaw (which we couldn’t eat because they wash it with their water which is contaminated with E. coli among other things). We then unpacked and set up for the night, and turns out Jim and I get to sleep in the dining room on cots! Jim wouldn’t stop complaining about how bad his neck hurt, although I thought that the cots were actually quite comfortable. Yesterday we woke up to people brewing about in the dining room which was kind of weird but also nice because we got to ease into waking up. Also I didn’t have to move much to get to breakfast. Our task of the day was to help out a blind man in the village named Roger, but before we set out we took in the amazing views right outside the rectory walls. Once we set out It was about a 10 minute car ride. Then we had about a 5 minute hike to Roger’s house. Getting there was fine but once we actually got there is when the real work began… starting with finding Roger. Once we finally found Roger we started figuring out what exactly we were going to do. Turns out we were building walls to stop water from rushing towards his house and eroding parts of it away which it already had in the past. When I heard this, I really wanted to figure out how on earth we were going to build a wall, but turns out we were building with the rocks all around us. The highlight of the wall building was when I got what had to be a 600 pound rock loose out of the ground and got it to roll about halfway down the hill. Then we got 7 people to carry the rock down to where we were actually building the wall. After the wall was finished we all gathered around it to take a picture of our work with Roger. Once we got back to the rectory around mid afternoon I took about an hour nap and then woke up and starting playing soccer with Jim and all the local kids. Once we were done with that I somehow got into a game with some younger kids(If I had to put a name on it I’d call it “let’s see how many little colored balls the white (blanc) kid can catch.” We then heard the dinner bell, and we all sprinted inside to catch some dinner…

Abby WAbby Wila ~ Today after breakfast, we started our journey to give the Seguin people water filters. They were made up of two buckets, one with a string filter and one with a carbon filter.During our car ride, we asked Robinson how to say all the animals in Creole. Here’s a quick lesson: bef=cow, cheva=horse, buik=donkey, posho=pig, cabwee=goat, pol=chicken, muto=sheep, tishie=puppy, gagla=bird, looz=bear, zandolit=lizard, papiyone=butterfly, shen=dog, mimi=car. After about a 20 minute car ride, we walked the trails to find the houses of the people who had previous training of the filter system. When we got to a house, we would set up the system (stack two buckets on top of a chair) and ask the person to explain how to use it. Most of them knew how to do it already, which was really cool to see! We also stopped at one house and saw coffee beans out to dry so of course, being the consumers we are, bought 13 pounds of coffee among all of us. We also met a lady who was making hair oil to sell. She explained how she had to pick the spiky green pods and then leave them to dry out for a day. After that, she would boil them and crush them. Then she would take the oil to the market to sell. We also had our little friends following us again. They were holding our buckets, our hands, and our hearts. (wow that sounds so cheesy but it is so true). On the car ride back, we continued to scream our animal names out of the truck bed. It was so fun. When we got back we got to wash our hair!!! It felt so good!!! Cassidy and I tried the “cooling spray” and it gave us the “post-Haiti glow” (aka oil on our faces). Also, new phrase: cock-a-doodle-don’t. Until tomorrow….

GinaGina Vicini ~ I won’t go into detail about everything we did today, but instead I will talk about my favorite moment from today. When we were setting up the water filters, once again the kids who were barefoot and not wearing pants had the biggest smiles on their faces. It just shocks me how they are always so happy despite living in poor conditions and not having something like clean water. Another one of my favorite memories from today was when we got back and I sat on the bench with some of the local kids. Half of the time neither of us knew what each other are saying and seems like we are just saying our names over and over again. I cannot wait for Mass tomorrow and seeing more of this beautiful country.

AndieAndie Johnson ~ We began our day with spaghetti for breakfast, yet again, and a readiness to help all of the families. We drove to a small town, and on the way we had a good Creole learning session, and I am now able to say every animal in Creole. We delivered water filters and put tarps on houses, and as we hiked through the mountains to get from house to house, we gained more and more kids along the way. Every kid was so fascinated with what we were doing or wearing, and one moment that stuck out to me was when one of the girls was showing off the colorful hair ties she had gotten from someone in my group. Another highlight from today was when we learned how to make coffee from the coffee beans that were grown by one of the men we met while delivering filters, and we ended up buying 13 pounds of coffee. We also learned the process of how to make hair oil from another woman we met. The culture and the views continue to amaze me, and judging by the experiences that I’ve had, I expect the week to only get better.

MargoMargo Milanowski ~ Today was a day of immersion. We immersed ourselves in the language around us, yelling out the names of animals we know in Creole as we passed them on the bumpy car rides in truck beds. We immersed ourselves in our tasks today, asking villagers questions to ensure they understood the water filtration systems we were giving them. We even bought coffee beans from a man whose family we gave one of the systems. We could see the beans right in front of us, being dried under the hot mountain sun, and the family they came from. I can feel us all opening up more and more to the life around us, so different from the beginning of the trip when we were within a walled area, and when I was afraid to wave to people out of the windows on the trip to Seguin. The beauty of this island continues to astonish; the landscape of each mountain and hill, the curve of the ocean coast, the excitement in all the families’ smiles and words, and the loud laughs of our group through it all bring so much joy to this mountain area where we stay.

EmmaEmma Moore~ Today was so much fun! We woke up, and then went to some houses and did tarping and gave out water filters. We made sure each person knew how to use the filters correctly. We played with the children some more and made more friends. I love how we can interact with the Haitians even though we speak different languages. I also love learning Creole and teaching them some English. This trip has been so much fun and this is such a great group to learn and experience new things with! I also really enjoy the food, it’s amazing!

BearBearenger Petrella ~ Today was great… we started off by splitting into two groups.  We put tarps on houses and brought water filters to people.  We were able to explain to people how to use them, and it was great to see them with their new water filters.  It was great to see their houses and culture!  After that, we stopped and ate lunch, ones we packed ourselves.  The groups then went back to the rectory and were greeted by many kids.  We were able to play jump rope and soccer.  We ate dinner and then sat on the porch.  We tell stories and have a few laughs to end the day.

First Impressions

April 1, 2017

Abby WAbby Wila ~ Wednesday, March 29. Flying was fun! I lost my suitcase. We stayed in the Guest House in Port Au Prince and enjoyed goat(?), rice and beans, bread, and a jelly dessert. Then we went to bed.

Thursday, March 30. For breakfast we had eggs, mango, papaya, and bread. Before we left Port Au Prince for the mountains, we spent about two and a half hours at the car rental place. Once we were on the road, it was beautiful! As we got higher and higher, the views got prettier and prettier. They looked so unreal. At one point we had to drive through a shallow river to get back on the road. Once in Seguin, the roads were just partially cleared paths of rocks. They were so so so SO incredibly bumpy. Cam was so close to peeing her pants. I don’t know how I didn’t get sick (thank goodness!). We arrived at the rectory very late, so we unpacked quickly and ate (cold) dinner. It was still delicious! We had plantains, chicken, fries, rice, and no one ate the coleslaw ;). The girls’ room freaked out about moths before we had to go to bed.

Friday, March 31, 2017. Clear, cool morning. Today for breakfast we enjoyed spaghetti, peanut butter and jelly, plantains, and hard boiled eggs. We drove down towards Roger’s house and then hiked the rest. We gathered so many rocks to build a wall by Roger’s house and all the kids wanted to help. After we built one wall, we took a break and ate lunch. All the kids wanted to take pictures with us and they even sang us a Haitian song, it was so cute! Jim led us to make an assembly line to bring rocks down the mountain and that was way more efficient. We built two more smaller walls and then hung out with the kids. Once we had to start heading back, all the kids grabbed someone’s hand and walked with us all the way back to the rectory and even hopped in the truck with us. My little buddy for the walk was Evan- we sang songs together while holding hands. Once back to the rectory, we took out soccer balls, frisbees, jump ropes, and baseball bats. It was crazy! There were so many people running around playing so many different games. Once the craziness died down, we got out string for friendship bracelets and boy did they love that! They caught on so quickly to making the bracelets! Valerie (Roger’s daughter) started to braid my hair and then we started doing hair wraps as well. After we used all the string, I started to dance with the guys and they were teaching me some dances-it was so fun (and now I have some sick moves for Prom!). Then dinner was ready so we came in to a feast of rice, fried plantains, beets, carrots, rice, popcorn, chicken, and potatoes. Side note: after I write this post we’ll have to have another session of Toilet Talk with Tim- more on that later.

Abby RAbby Rakus ~ Wednesday, March 29. My first flying experience went better than expected! It was kind of scary as we were taking off. Then, we arrived at the Atlanta Airport, and I enjoyed a “Peach on the Beach” smoothie (hence, Georgia ;)) and some oatmeal. Then, we eventually got back on the plane to travel to Port Au Prince, but the views outside of the window were awesome! We had to wait a while to get through immigration, but all was well! We had to stop back at the airport because Abby lost her carry-on. After that, we took a car ride to the Guest House, and let me tell you, driving here is CRAZY! It’s basically a free-for-all, where people walk into oncoming traffic and expect you to stop. We got settled into the Guest House, and we found out there was wifi! 🙂 We ate dinner, which consisted of goat, rice and beans, bread, and a jelly dessert. We played Spoons and BS, and then we played hide and seek; we proceeded to walk up to the balcony and alongside the mountains, where there were lots of houses with the lights on…it looked like the lantern scene in Tangled. I took a shower and tried going to bed, but was kept up by the sound of the other girls screaming about cockroaches outside!

Thursday, March 30. After waking up, I had breakfast, which included mango, papaya, and bread with jelly. We packed all of our stuff and loaded up the trucks. We had to stop at a car rental place because one of our cars had bad tires. We stopped a bit after that and got ice cream; I had strawberry, and man was it good! Then, we headed up the mountains. We saw the sight of the accident from four year ago when the car fell off the cliff. There was a large white cross. We passed through a village, Jacmell. The people there kept looking at us when our windows were down and yelled “Le blancs!” (White people) We continued making our way up through the mountains, and the roads become increasingly worse. At one point, we had to drive through a small body of water to get up the path. As we kept going up the mountains, the views became so unreal and like nothing I have ever seen. Pictures definitely don’t do it justice! As we approached Seguin, it became much colder and the terrain became more rugged. It got dark very fast, and we arrived a few hours late to the Rectory. We unpacked everything after finishing dinner, which included chicken, rice and peas, and fried plantains. Then, a little later, I went to bed.

Friday, March 31. After waking up (late compared to almost everyone else), I proceeded to eat breakfast. Then, I got ready and we were off to help Roger (a blind man) build a wall to avoid future flooding. It took quite a few hours, but we made some cute friends (kiddos) along the way. I spent quite a lot of time with Son and Valerie. A few injuries took place, between Margo, Joey, and Jim from the large rocks that were thrown amongst each other. Then, we walked back to wait for the cars to pick us up to bring us back to the rectory. Valerie and I held hands on the walk, and she told me she loved me. My heart melted! We came back to the rectory and ate some snacks, while also refilling our water bottles. We invited quite a few friends over to play jump rope and soccer. Hair braiding from Valerie and friendship bracelet making took place…it was SO fun! Eddy made me a sick bracelet! We ate dinner, which was chicken, white rice, potatoes, and popcorn. Another session of Toilet Talk with Tim will take place soon. The sunset looked outstanding tonight!

MargoMargo Milanowski ~ It’s strange to think about the simple things we take for granted, like ice water, or communication. Words at home almost always line up with a meaning in our mind, but here, we don’t always know what is happening when someone else speaks. Despite this, we continue to succeed in understanding the people we meet here. When building a wall for Roger today, a blind man who Tim and his group members have known in years past, we formed an assembly line to move rocks and local children quickly stepped in to help. The wall is intended to divert water from seeping past Roger’s house, because this past year, excess hurricane run off destroyed his kitchen building. In the process of constructing this wall, the children tentatively, and then very easily, surrounded us with smiles, singing, and help with the construction. We could barely communicate, but everything necessary was understood. It’s hard to say that love exceeds language, because it’s such an abstract concept, but today, we saw it.

JimJim O’Neil ~ I’ll be short and sweet. Since we’ve been here I haven’t regretted anything other than becoming best friends with a goat which a colleague and I named Chops. Then accidentally eating him the next day:( When we return you have to understand the pictures we have taken can’t quite match the true beauty of seeing and experiencing Haiti every day. There is no human or object that can relate to what this world has to offer. This just helps me understand more deeply that there is a God and he’s present everywhere! My only suggestion is that you experience life while you still have it at your feet. Helping others on this trip has been truly mind-blowing. Without this trip never would I have known that we are so fortunate to have the things we do. In the U.S. kids smile when they get something like an iPad. Here in Haiti, the kids smile when you smile. That’s the most life has to offer; happiness. In our daily lives we become too distracted by objects. In the end these objects make you happy for short periods of time, but the truth is real happiness can only be received through each other.  I’d like to stress this fact. Helping the people of Haiti has truly opened my mind. Never have I been happier!

CamyCam Mannion ~ This honestly has to be the best vacation I have ever been on. I have not had one regret on this trip… it is amazing. This trip is almost exactly like the out west trip, but better. I get to help the cutest little kids that absolutely love all of the attention that you give them. On this trip I have already realized that the littlest things that we do for them are the most amazing things they have ever seen. Just looking at Haiti it looks like it is completely run down, but looking at it after being here you realize how beautiful this country really is. The kids here light up when you hold their hand, or you smile at them and take a picture with them, or even if you just ask their name. That is true happiness and you can see the appreciation that they have for every little thing.When the kids here smile you can’t help but to smile because you just understand the joy and excitement that they have and it just makes you appreciate the little moments in life like these that you can enjoy. Their happiness is the most amazing thing you could ever see. It’s so easy on this trip to not look at your phone. You forget about what everyone else back home or on different vacations are doing, and you just focus on the people here. There is not one moment that you never think, wow I’m bored. There is always someone to talk to and new things to learn, and make new friends and have the best laughs with them. This experience has been the most amazing thing in my whole entire life, and I wouldn’t ever trade it for the world. This is one of the most amazing moments of my life.

Gina Gina Vicini~ This has already been an extremely eye opening trip. I have been here for less than four days and I am amazed by everything around me. We were stuck at the airport for what seemed like forever on the second day, but my car got to know our driver, Will, much better. So far one of my favorite moments was today when we were putting rocks out for Roger’s house and a lot of the local kids ran by us and were more than willing to help. It was just incredible to me that some of these kids were easily less than four years old and were carrying rocks I struggled to carry with a big smile on their faces. I have made many new friends during this trip, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the week has in store for us!

AndieAndie Johnson ~ Though I have only been here in Seguin for a short amount of time, I feel so welcomed into the community due to the helpful children we have met and the grateful parents as well. As we drove past through the overcrowded streets of Port-au-Prince, past endless miles of baby blue sea, and up through winding mountains roads, time flew by because of all of the beauty surrounding me. The experience of entering onto the dirt roads of Seguin and being thrown around in a car with my best friends is one that I’ll never forget. As we began working today, my favorite experience so far has been meeting the kids while we worked on building a rock wall for Roger. I have made so many new friends and lifelong memories that I will never forget. The beauty and positive atmosphere, especially the kids, have made this one of the best trips I have ever been on.

CassidyCassidy Triestram ~ So far, this trip has been so much more amazing than what I ever could have imagined. Haiti is gorgeous and the people here are so friendly, and their genuine excitement to see us entering Seguin is the most heartwarming thing a person could experience. Our first day in Port Au Prince was busy. We spent the first few hours of our arrival in Haiti sitting in the airport waiting for immigration, and I don’t even know what else. The next several hours were spent packing our luggage into trucks and spending hours at the other end of the airport searching for Abby’s lost bag. We got to the guest house later on, and the outside was gorgeous. The palm trees, the sunset, the breeze, and the perfect furnishing and decorations made it feel like we were in a tropical paradise. For dinner I ate what I believe was goat meat, salad, bread, some fruit, and some sort of jelly dessert. We played hide and seek around the guest house property, played cards, and talked later at night. We did see a lizard and a cockroach, which caused everyone to panic. Because of the cockroach sighting, the two other people in my room and I slept on top of the sheets and slept with the light on all night. We even packed up our bags and put them in a pile in order to keep the bugs from getting into out bags. The next morning, we went to breakfast and I ate some mango, papaya, and eggs. After breakfast, we packed our bags back into the truck and left the guest house at about 8:30. We were experiencing some troubles with our car so we spent the next three and a a half hours at the car rental place. After the several hours spent in the parking lot, we drove about 4 hours to a gas station where we stopped for gas, ice cream, and ate our lunches. In Haiti, there are no rules of the road so everyone drives wherever they want, and how fast or slow they want to go. The ride up the mountain took about 5 or 6 more hours, but was time well spent because we were able to wave to the people that live on the mountain. When we finally reached the top of the mountain and pulled up to the rectory, everyone rushed inside to use the bathroom. A while later, while everyone but the one girls’ room was in bed trying to sleep, the people in my room were screaming about the moths. The next morning, this morning, we woke up and ate a breakfast of pb&j, spaghetti, twizzlers, and plantains. We then brushed our teeth, packed our backpacks, and left the rectory towards Roger’s house, a blind man who lives in the mountains, to build him a wall to keep the water from flooding his house. After hours of moving rocks for the wall, we walked back to the rectory with quite a few kids following us. The rectory yard was filled with people braiding hair, making bracelets and necklaces, wrapping people’s hair with string, playing frisbee, jump roping, playing soccer, dancing to music, and just having a good time. After a few hours of that, our group went in for dinner of chicken, fried plantains, rice, and popcorn. After that, everyone headed back outside to enjoy the sunset and hang out as a group. Tomorrow we will be tarping houses and installing water filters in peoples’ homes. This trip so far has been much more amazing than I ever could have imagined. The pictures of Haiti you would find on the internet of dusty roads and sad kids is nothing like the real thing. Haiti is gorgeous and the people here are even more amazing. Everyone here is constantly smiling, and their genuine appreciation for our help is so heartwarming. I would definitely come back in a heartbeat.