We left St. Marc at 7am for the first look at the city that God has called us to. After a minor delay with a semi truck that was attempting to back into an alley that he barely fit in we were off down paved stretch of road that connects us to Gonaives, the department's capital.
The road was smooth and uneventful. Isaac sat very nicely in his car seat and Kristen & Kate took in the scenery.
Once we passed through the early morning bustle in Gonaives, we hunted until we found the turn off that would take us north to Port-de-Paix. Being as there aren't any signs broadcasting the turn off we had to rely on local information that said there was a gas station and taxis that gathered at the turn. Not super descriptive but it proved to do the trick and soon we found ourselves a taxi littered gas station.
I'd like to say that the road continued to be smooth and uneventful, but the dirt road up north was anything but.
And so we stayed on that road for the next few hours becoming more and more appreciative of the two towns along the way that have paved roads.
After those few hours of churning butter in the truck we arrived for our first look at Port-de-Paix.
We had heard stories that Port-de-Paix was one of the smallest cities in Haiti, but as we drove along the streets of one of Haiti's oldest cities it was clear that there are more people here than some people realize. In fact, even on non-market days the city was very busy.
State of the city
So the city itself is stretched along the coast going east and west between the ocean and the mountains. It is unofficially divided into three distinct zones:
The poorer area on the west side of town
The downtown/business area in the middle
The upperclass area on the east side of town
We met with the directors of the two missions that are within the city, as well as a couple more missions outside the city. The two missions inside town, Sonlight Ministries and House of Moses, are focused on teaching and education. Sonlight runs a K-12 Christian English emersion school and House of Moses takes 12 young adults, 6 girls and 6 boys, and helps them accomplish their dreams (for example, one girl wants to become an aviation mechanic so they set everything up for her to attend a school for that in or outside Haiti). Both missions are located next door to each other within the east side of town, along the coast.
The churches within Port-de-Paix appear to be similar to the churches in St. Marc. Most are highly religious and some mix voodoo with Christ. As with most cities, the Catholic church has a large cathedral in the city center as well as a large mountaintop complex where we are told the priests live.
The people themselves were very kind and helpful to us (Admittedly, we had more of a business relationship with people on this trip so we hadn't challenged any of their beliefs yet). With the highway into the city being as it is, the region is very isolated. It is considered the poorest department in Haiti and in some ways the isolation reflects that.
There were many more things that we saw and experienced but I'd rather not make you read the whole book in one sitting! As we continue to move towards actually moving there, the story will develop one page at a time.
One thing that we did notice as we were up there is that there isn't any city power, ever. If you want to have electricity, then you have to provide your own. It is similar in St. Marc, but here we have the campus generator that provides at least 6 hours of electricity a day.
Be on the look out for more information on how you can help us with more consistent electricity, especially with those hot summer months right around the corner! (Fans at bedtime can mean the difference between a good night sleep and laying in a pool of sweat!)
Thanks for everything you do!
We really appreciate everything you do for us! This trip and even our living here would not be possible without your support of us!
Did you know that if you support Jay and I financially , you are also supporting our Compassion international child too?
I personally started sponsoring Jackner three years ago. When Jay and I sat down to make decisions regarding our finances before moving down here to Haiti, we decided that God had put Jackner in our life, and that even though we will have a tight budget sometimes, we would continue to support him.
So, this comes back to you, our supporters! Ultimately, you are the ones supporting this wonderful kid! I may be the one writing letters to him and sending him pictures, but you are the ones really supporting him through your generous gifts to us!
I have been thinking a lot the past few weeks, and if it is you that is supporting him, then you all should get to know him a bit! So here goes:
*Note: for younger children Compassion International has fun forms for the kids to fill out with help. Many of the things I say below may not have been specifically stated, but I have deduced from his letters and some of my personal observations of life in Haiti.
All about Jackner
Jackner lives with his mom, dad, sister and two brothers in a village called Loubier. From his letters I believe he is the youngest or second youngest, but I could be wrong. His parents are farmers.
Song: Map leve men'm anke poumfe (I lift my hand up to praise God)
School Subject: French, Creole, Math
Everyday Activity: Carrying water
Activity at the Compassion center: Praying all together
Family Activity: Eating and playing together
Holiday: Haitian independence day (January 1st)
Holiday Food: Pumpkin Soup
Every day food: Fried Plantains
Where he lives:
It seems like Jackner helps carry water from a nearby community water pump, so no running water. He does not have electricity in his home. His house has a thatched roof and a dirt floor. His family has a garden where they harvest their own food, as well as buying food in the market.
To visit the city of Port-de-Paix (The same city Jay and I are going to be starting our base in!)
To Meet his sponsor (Some day! Soon I hope...)
To help his mom and dad work
He wants to be a teacher and/or a famous doctor
We are so blessed to have Jackner a part of our lives, and we hope that someday we can meet him in person! I am so excited to see what his future holds, and am proud to be able to watch him grow!
If you have any personal words of encouragement or fun things you would like to share with Jackner, please share! I will include it in my next letter. His birthday is coming up in June, and I would love to be able to sent him a little extra money for a gift! If you feel lead to give any extra to Jackner and his family, let us know and we let you know how to do so! One year we were able to give an extra donation, and his family was able to purchase a goat. Jackner has mentioned the goat in many letters, so I know their family was extremely blessed!
Thank you so much for helping us be able to support Jackner, he is your Compassion child too! From now on any letters I receive from Jackner, we will post here on our website. I'm pretty sure God has some crazy things planned for this kiddo, and he is super blessed to have all of you standing behind him.
P.S. .....How to become a Compassion International Sponsor
Are you interested in becoming a sponsor for your very own compassion international sponsor? It is so easy! All you need to do is go to Compassion.com and click on "Sponsor a child" From there you can search for your own kiddo to sponsor. Once you have chosen your child(ren) you will receive a packet of information regarding your child including demographics, family situation, and pictures. You can write letters to your child as often as you would like, online and handwritten. You can also sent your kids small things such as pictures, stickers and other small items. Happy sponsoring!