Sunday, August 29, 2010

Out after Dark

Here we try not to go out after dark, not necessarily because it's dangerous, it's just a better idea to stay home when it's dark.  Last night however, Nick and I had to take a child to the hospital and it was already getting dark as we left.  We were about half way there, on the worst road in Haiti that we have driven on.  It's called the sugar cane short cut, and the holes in the road are several feet deep, and span the entire width of it.  The road is horrible and almost impassable, almost.  Last night we had just barely gotten past the worst spot when Nick realized we had a flat tire.

It was pitch black by this point, and of course there are no street lights or porch lights here.  In fact there weren't any house where we were at all.  Nick got out to fix the tire and realized that the first Jack we had was broke.  Luckily we had a second.  As I sat in the truck, two men walked by, and one stuck their head in the window and said hi.  This guy gave me the creeps at first, until I realized I recognized that raspy voice, it was Papito, one of our employees and he was with one of our nannies sons.  They were able to help Nick change the tire so that we could keep going.  Unfortunately we didn't have a flash light on us, but Papito never goes anywhere with out a fully charged cell phone so he was able to shine that on the tire for Nick.

They then went with us to the hospital and were able to watch the truck while we admitted the baby and checked on our other children.

We were so thankful that out of all people who could have walked by, the first person to do so was someone we know!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The laughter of a child

Two nights ago my newest roommate was even more adorable than ever!  His favorite time of day is right after bath time!  I don't know why, but he is always in the best mood then!  He was wrapped up in his orange hooded ducky towel, laying on my bed with the biggest smile on his face.  I would give him kisses on his neck and he would laugh really hard!  I then held him above my head and wiggled him around and he thought it was the funniest thing ever!!  I was too busy enjoying the moment to take any pictures or video of it, but seeing a child laugh the first time is always amazing!!

I feed E. every 3 hours all day and night.  It takes him about an hour to eat.  This means that I feed him for 8 hours a day, on top of all my other responsibilities.  This doesn't even include the time I spend bathing, changing, and playing with him!  I'm not complaining though, I  love this little guy!

I told Nick the other day that I think he could win a cutest baby contest!  And I don't even mean just at COTP, although his toughest competition would definitely come from here.  E is so little that I often forget he is 6 months old.  Then all of the sudden he will try holding his bottle up or attempt to roll over and I will remember!  E. loves to cuddle!  I have him wearing 0-3 month clothing and he is swimming in them!  He has been doing a lot better eating and has already gained a few ounces!!

Nick stated calling him a little king the other day, but then demotted him to Prince saying that you have to be married to be a king.  Truthfully, I think that Nick just wanted to be the king!!

Check out the his pics at

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Newest Roommate

Nick and I have the cutest little 6 month old roommate right now.  He is so little and precious.  We absolutely love him.  He is such a little cuddle bug and is a really good baby, he rarely cries which is really nice.  I have to feed him every 3 hours all day and night to help him gain weight!  When I got back from depot this morning, he and Nick were cuddling in our bed waiting for me to come watch a movie with them (Sundays are our "day off" so we get to relax).  Please pray that he does well here at COTP!

I think this picture shows just how well loved he is here!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Three Pretty Ladies

There are some adorable pictures of three pretty ladies on my picture blog right now!  Be sure to check them out to see how big they have grown over the last two months.  If you don't have the password, be sure to email us at!


Playdoh Consumption

Preschool is going really well.  I originally started out with only the 2 older rooms and I divided them up into 3 different days.  Since the kids are so young I wanted to keep the groups small so that I could give each child more attention.  However, they have adjusted very well to going to school and are really becoming great with the routine I have set up.  Since they are doing so well, I have increased the amount of kids that I take at one time and am going to start taking the Batos to see how they do.  They all are getting older and could benefit from the attention and stimulation that I provide at school.  Hopefully it will go well.  They are really young, all under one, but it will be good for them to learn to play with toys and start having stories read to them and songs sung to them on a regular basis.

One of the hardest parts of school is getting there.  School is about 100 yards (maybe more I am horrible at guessing) away from the baby house.  Most of the children don't walk, and so I have to put all the kids in a wagon to get them there.  I am sure it's a spectacle to watch.  On an average day, I will have 4 little ones in the wagon, two walking, and one in my arms.  I always work up a sweat transporting the children to and from school.  It's kind of a bumpy ride getting there, but the kids love it.  Normally it isn't too bad, but after it rains it gets pretty wet and mushy and it's a pain to get there.  We would like to extend our side walk there but are waiting for the finances and hoping that a work group will come down and help us with it.  When Jenny first mentioned that she wanted a side walk I thought she was crazy, but now I totally understand why.  It would be really nice, someday hopefully!

When we get to school, I take the walkers out of the wagon first, then the crawlers, then I carry in the ones that aren't mobile yet.  They all go in through the gate and sit down on the mats ready to start signing.  I don't even have to ask them to sit down anymore, they do it on their own.  Some days I will have the mat up on the table so that it doesn't get dirty, and the older kids will pull it down and drag it to the middle of the class so that all the kids can sit on it.  I never even told them to do this, they just do it on their own.  When we first started going to school the kids would wonder all over the classroom and I was constantly chasing them and forcing them to sit down.  Now they sit through most of it with out getting up.  They improve each time.

Last week I decided that it would be a good idea to have the kids play with playdoh.  What I didn't think of when I did this is that these children had never seen playdoh before.  This day there were 5 kids at school, 4 of which could play with the playdoh and one who can't because of physical problems.  When I set the playdoh down in front of them, one little boy tried to eat it and I had to run to the other side of the table and pull it out of his mouth.  Even with constant reminders he still would try.  He would look around to see if I was watching and then would pull off the smallest little piece and try to put it in his mouth.  He was so cute trying to be sneaky, but I caught him every time, or at least I thought I had, but several went back with pink stuff in their teeth, so maybe I didn't.  One of the little girls was TERRIFIED of the playdoh.  She screamed, began crying and refused to sit at the table and definitely would not touch it.  I tried to show her that it was ok, but she still didn't want anything to do with it.  Don't worry, she played with it this week and is beginning to like it.  The other little girl was weired out at first, but then tried to steal it from everyone else the rest of the time.  The last little boy thought it would be a good idea to throw his on the ground and across the room constantly.  He has been put in time out several times at school for throwing toys, but is learning that this is not a good idea.

Today we played with playdoh with the younger group.  Before I set a chunk down in front of each child I said "pa manje" "Don't eat it."  This was the second time that everyone in this group had played with it except for one little boy, so most of the group was good with it.  That one boy however, instantly grabbed the playdoh and took a giant bite of it.  I constantly told him no but he kept trying to eat it.  I had to eventually take it away to get him to stop, but gave it back after a few minutes and I am proud to say he didn't try to eat it once after that.  He was so cute today.  He is pretty little and so the table goes up to his chin.  All I could see was his head sticking out over the top.  I love this little boy.  After two weeks of playdoh, I am proud to say that the "playdoh consumption" has decreased substantially and will hopefully continue to go down!!

It makes me nervous having this group sit at the table because although they all sit up on their own, several don't have good balance and I am always afraid someone will fall out of their chair and hit their head on the cement.  So far so good.  Sitting up and keeping their balance is great for them and it is really helping them.

The kids love school SO much.  When I pull the wagon out in the morning, all the kids know what I am going to do, so all the mobile kids run/crawl to the wagon and try to get in.  If they are left behind they cry and try to guilt me into taking them.  Sorry guys, I've gotten used to your cries and it doesn't affect me the same way as short term volunteers, so there will be no giving in from me!!  When we return, the kids who I did take cry and are upset that school is done!

Well this is a really long post so I should go!  More later!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Moto Request

First I want to say Thank you to everyone who reads this.  Nikki especially puts a lot of time into trying to keep everyone informed of what we are doing here.  Most of our readers are our faithful supporters, friends and family that have already helped us out so much.  Because of that I feel really awkward for what I am about to ask.  While being in Haiti I have had the privilege of meeting so many awesome people.   One person in particular, Reekins, has been amazingly helpful to our (especially mine) successful transition moving down here.  He speaks English and is constantly teaching me phrases in Creole.  Reekins has worked at COTP for 3 years and is a great employee.  He works hard 6 days a week and always goes above and beyond what he is asked for.  Reekins is ready to get Married but before he does he wants to build a small house for himself and his wife.  He will build it on his mothers property so it should only cost a couple thousand dollars.  Reekins is a steady employee here but saving that much money is next to impossible.  He thinks that the best way to save that much money would be to own a motorcycle taxi.  Conservative estimations predict that after expenses on bad days he will earn 5 US dollars and on good days 10 or more.  With the money that he can save with his job at COTP, and the money he could make with his taxi he should be able to start building within 1 year!  He will hire a person to drive it 6 days a week while he works here and then he will drive it on his day off.  Motorcycles here cost $900 US brand new. (It is next to impossible to find a decent used one)  Reekins has been saving his money for a while and has a large amount to put towards this purchase. Nikki and I are going to give him a little, and we have already received a generous donation to put towards his bike.  However, we are still short $250 dollars to help him potentially get a house and get married.  If anyone would like to help out Reekins big or small feel free to e-mail me  Thanks so much for reading this.

Friday, August 13, 2010

2 months!

WOW, can you believe that Nikki and I have been in Haiti for two months?  I find myself using my watch not for the time but to literally keep track of the days.  In a culture where time is not as important days seem to instantly turn into weeks. 
In two months it is amazing how much you can learn.  I have learned how to navigate the greater Cap-Haitian Area, which is much more difficult than it probably sounds.  The downtown area is numbered and lettered but everywhere else is just another unnamed road.  
I have learned how to entertain myself when I spend a lot of time at the airport.  The other day I was there and ended up waiting for around 4 hours for a group.  It was no big deal because I have a pass that allows me to hang out on the tarmac.  I have made friends with the guy that parks the planes.  The day I was there was pretty slow so we sat in the shade and talked for a couple of hours.  A U.S. National Guard Chinook helicopter landed while we were there so my friend and I went over and talked with the guys.  They were based out of Montana and working in Port au Prince.  We received a long tour of the Helicopter, but since there was no General present I will have to wait for my ride!
One of the first big projects I worked on here was installing new power Inverters.  One of the other staff members here has been working with a place in the Dominican and purchased us two new inverters batteries and all the necessary cables and connection hardware.  In addition we ran a wire to make our generator start automatically when the batteries run low.  It took several days of mounting stuff, making a table for the batteries, running wire and reading manuals but we managed to successfully install an amazing power system upgrade for COTP.  We now have power 24 hours a day and run the generator less.  We will hopefully be buying more batteries in the future which will allow us to run the generator even less!
Last week COTP had the privilege of having E-3, a church group from the Phoenix area spend the week with us.  They were primarily a work group that came down to help us with projects.  We were able to construct a pavilion for visitors to wait under, until our nurse is able to give them a consultation.  We also fixed up our ENTIRE perimeter fence which was overgrown with vines, and grass, and broke in several spots.  More importantly than all the work that was accomplished it was really nice for me to spend some time with other guys.  Thank you so much for all of your work!
There is no amount of training that could prepare a person for working in Haiti.  I find every day that I am so under qualified to be working here.  Everyday I encounter things and problems that I have never seen before.  I have a pretty long list of important projects that we have been slowly checking off.  I am continually praying for wisdom, knowledge, and strength for the things that I will encounter.  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Good Chefs Speak Creole!

Today I had a little sit down with about 5 of our nannies.  They informed me that good Chef’s (bosses) speak Creole and that if I want to be a good Chef I need to learn to speak Creole.  I tried to deny that I was a Chef, but they insisted that I was, so I told them that they needed to teach me to speak better Creole.  At first they all said no because they weren’t teachers, but then one of the nannies pulled a chair over (it was a plastic children chair which is about 8 inchs off the ground, but it worked) and told me to sit down.
I didn’t have anything that couldn’t wait awhile to be done, so I hung out with the nannies for almost 2 hours speaking Crenglish to them!!  Luckily several of the nannies that worked today understand a little bit of English so they could translate when I couldn’t figure things out.  None of our nannies will admit that they understand English, but occasionally they will slip and I will find out.  The other day for instance, I kept trying to talk to one of our cooks in Creole and she couldn’t figure out what I was saying.  I muttered it under my breath in English and she responded back in perfect English.  I then asked her is she speaks English and she got all embarrassed and swore that she didn’t.  Most won’t speak English, but some can understand some of it when it’s spoken to them.
The two hours mainly consisted of them laughing at me every time I either couldn’t say something or said it wrong.  I’m ok with them laughing at my expense!  It was definitely beneficial.  I learned all the words for family members and can now say grandma, aunt, nephew, etc.  It was fun hanging out with the nannies and getting to know them a little better and letting them get to know me.  It’s hard because I don’t know enough Creole to have conversations with them, so most of our interactions are all “business” related!
Theres a possibility that there was a bit of a translation issue and now some of the nannies think that I’m going to divorce Nick and marry someone else in 2 years.  Not really sure how this happened.  They were asking me how many kids we want and if we are going to adopt.  I was trying to explain to them that we wouldn’t be adopting from Haiti because you have to be married for 10 years and Nick and I have only been married for 2.  I’m still pretty sure I said the phrase right, but I think they were more confused with this rule than anything.  Anyways, after several minutes of going back and forth trying to figure out what I was saying, one asked me if I was going to divorce Nick.  Luckily a different nanny understood and helped translate.  Hopefully we got it all cleared up, but for the record, I have absolutely no plans on divorcing my husband and am definitely not marrying anyone else in 2 years!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Last night Nick and I went to the beach to take the night off and celebrate our 2 year anniversary (can you believe we have been married for 2 years already??  We can't).  The past few weeks have been busy and we were starting to get tired.  It was so nice to relax, play in the ocean, eat different food, and take lots of naps.  We even took nice clothes and got all dressed up for dinner, not because we needed to, but just because we wanted to feel like we were out on a "real" date.  Dinner was great!  Nick had lobster and I had some beef thing!  For dessert we had homemade ice cream.  It was a tiny scoop, but we ate it extremely slowly enjoying ever bite of it.  Dinner was candle lit, and not to be romantic but because we actually needed it.  The generator shut off in the middle of dinner and they had to bring candles out to us so that we could see!  We've eaten lots of candle light dinners, but never because we had too!

We took a moto there which was an experience in itself!  My husband is basically Haitian, he swerves in and out of traffic even when there are cars coming at us only a few feet away!  If traffic is going to slow he will go around it all.  I told him that if our parents knew what we were doing they would freak and he said that they wouldn't freak but they would probably pray more!  Yes Mom we wore helmets and we were being safe!!

We went a different way than what I have ever come before and it was nice to experience something new.  Nick pointed out a lot of things to me and it seemed as if he has been living here his whole life!  It amazes me how well he is fitting in here and how much he enjoys his daily tasks!

On our way back we stopped at the bank to get money which is kind of fun.  They have a metal detector wand that they check you with before you go in and a sign that says no guns.  As we were finishing up our transaction the teller asked Nick if he liked Haiti and then after he said yes asked why he doesn't speak Creole.  Wow... guess we better go into Creole over time so that we can make our banker happy!!

Even though the day off was great, we are very excited to be home!  We love it here and missed all of our kids!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Anyone ever wonder what it would be like to have triplets?  Any one want to know what it would be like to have sick triplets and be a single parent?  I got a little taste of what this was like the other day, and let me tell you, it’s a LOT of work.

Nick took the group that was here to the beach, and our nurse went away for the night to have some time off.  This left just Maria and I here to man the place.  Maria took over Amy’s job of giving all our children their meds and watching one of our little one’s who has been staying in their apartment.  I was in charge of the other three who are staying in the volunteer house as well as my normal duties.  These three aren’t actually triplets, and in fact have no relation what so ever, but they are fairly close in age, so for the day I considered them triplets.
Two of the three can’t hold their own bottles, and the third will often choose not too and eats way better when being held.  All three children are very stubborn and if they feel like it will refuse to eat, which means you can spend 45 mins with one child and only get .5 oz’s down them, or sometimes none at all.  Basically, as soon as I was done feeding, changing, bathing, checking temperatures, and administering meds as needed to all three of them, it was time to start the process over again.  This went on from about 7 am to 5 pm when the group got back home.  I had about a 30 min break all day where they were all sleeping and was able to grab a bit to eat.  
At one time, I had 2 of them screaming, all 3 needing to eat, one covered in diarrhea and in need of a bath, the laundry ladies telling me that the clothes were done and that I needed to come to the baby house to put them away, and a mess all over the floor and play pen.  And it was just me!  
Since being here I have become accustomed to having random bits of poop, diarrhea, boogers, slobber, etc all over me, but this day I had way more of that then normal.  And this is coming from someone who a few years ago swore I would never change a poopy diaper. 
When the group got back I was so exhausted that I just sat there and couldn’t even think clearly.  The ironic part is that Sundays are our “Day Off,” but that never really happens!!
Even though I was extremely busy, I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be.  Each day these children find some way to amaze me.  It may be a little look or them trying to talk, or wanting to help, but each day I fall more and more in love with these children and this place.  We said that before we left we were confident this is where we were supposed to go, and we still feel that way. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Now I know why I didn't go into Accounting!!

7:40 woke up, way later than I EVER sleep in.  We have gotten up at 5 almost every day this week. Got myself and the little boy in my room ready for the day.
8-8:45 Depot
9-9:30 feed the little boy and gave him a bath since he choose to throw it all back up.
9:30- 10 breakfast.
10-4:30 worked on the paper and computer part of payroll. (with a 15 min lunch break)
4:30-5:30 Nick and I filled 60+ envelopes with our employees monthly salary in them.
5:30-6 took a break under the mango tree.
6-7 began the process of handing out payroll
7-7:15 Depot
7:15- 9:20 finished handing out payroll
9:20- 10 showered and got myself and the little girl staying in our room ready for bed.
10- 10:45 got up several times because our little bundle of joy decided she was wide awake.  The rest of the night I was up every 2 hours feeding her.  Couldn't fall back asleep after the 3 am feeding, so I laid in bed until Nick got up to let the guard out at 6.

Isn't this what everyones Saturday consists of??

One of the duties that I am taking over is payroll.  Each morning I do roll call and verify who is and isn't here.  Most days there are around 2-3 subs, sometimes up to 5.  So since yesterday was the last day of the month, I had to go over all the roll call sheets and rewrite who subbed for whom onto the calendar.  I then have to write down each time a staff member missed a day and see whether or not they can use that as a paid sick day or if it's an unpaid day.  After doing this I transfer all this info into an excel spread sheet on our computer which calculates everyones monthly salary.  Since some staff work both as nannies and cleaning ladies, I have to be extra careful to see which days they worked in what positions as the pay is different.  For instance, one nanny might have worked 7 of her 8 scheduled shifts as a nanny and all for of her laundry shifts for the month.  In addition, she might have picked up 2 days doing laundry and 6 days being a nanny at the hospital with some of our children.  I then have to figure out how much she should get paid and whether or not the day she missed is covered under her sick time.

Doing all this by hand for over 60 people is a lot of work.  Yesterday I went really slow to try and minimize as many errors as possible.  I was sure to ask Jamie any time I had a question because next month when I do this both of our directors will be gone and I will be all on my own.  I'm sure he got very sick of Nick and I yesterday because we were in his apartment a lot!

Filling the envelopes was an interesting task as well.  By this time of the day my brain was fried from spending so much time figuring out everything else.  When it comes to Haiti, money is very weird.  Everything is labeled in the Haitian dollar, but paid for with the Haitian Goude.  The dollar doesn't even exist.  We calculate our employees salary in the Haitain dollar, but pay them in Goudes.  So on the front of the envelope, it may say for instance that so and so made $300 Haitian dollars.  Well I would then pay then $1100 Goudes.  Make sense??  And Haitian money is VERY OLD AND DIRTY.  It looks like it was printed 100 years ago and often is very hard to read and is basically falling apart.  We ran out of large bills early and had to pay a lot of people in small denominations.

By far the hardest and most stressful part of payroll was handing it out.  As you can see by my little time line above, it took Nick and I nearly 3 hours to hand out payroll.  This was only to the 12 ladies that were working last night.  We have to do it every night and afternoon for about a week until everyone is paid.  3 hours to hand out 12 envelopes.  Needless to say our Creole is less than perfect and so this caused most of the hang up.

A lot of the time we would understand what they were trying to say to us, but lacked the vocab to communicate with them what we were trying to say.  Trying to explain payroll in a foreign language is a VERY challenging task.  It seems like we had issues with almost everyone we were paying.  Some of those were our fault.  For instance, one of our nannies always has her sister sub for her and they look identical.  A few times this month, I just marked our normal nanny down not realizing that it was her sister that was working.  I then had to go back through and change who worked what days and try to explain to her what I did.  There was another lady who had an extra day added in the middle of the month, so our formula to figure out her wages was wrong on excel.  It took us a long time to figure out what was going on in her case.  Anyway, we got most of it worked out and are ready to try again tonight.

Good news is that it can only get better!  As I said, I went really slow this time to try and minimize errors.  Hopefully next time I will be able to go a lot faster.  And by next month we are really hoping that our Creole will improve drastically so that we can communicate better.  

The moral of the story is that if anyone knows of any good payroll software that I could just type this all into once rather than having 3 sheets that I have to fill out, I would really appreciate hearing about it as it would save me a ton of time and eliminate errors!