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!