All in a day's walk.

I don’t think it’s possible to dream up a day better than yesterday. Saturday. It was nice, normal, and complete with a few welcome surprises.

We’re living in a new place. Yesterday was our third morning here. We started the day with a walk to the middle of town. Now that we’re living on the far-east end of town we’re about 10 blocks away from the first available place to catch a tap-tap. When walking through town you may get asked several times by eager motorcycle drivers whether they can take you somewhere. We usually decline since there are cheaper ways to get around. This very thing happened on this particular walk. After we politely said no thank you, another taxi moto man standing within ear shot said “de moun sa you pa jamn vle paye, memn,” These two never want to spend money, ever. Huh, maybe he’s seen us around…

Although our walk involved only one turn in total we kept bumping into a runner. It’s not entirely uncommon to see people running for exercise but this guy looked like he was well…a runner. Not like someone who run’s races but someone who just runs…everywhere! His calves looked like he’d never taken a car or a bus anywhere in his life!

After we road one tap-tap for the length of it’s route we had the option of walking a short distance and catching another. But, we got into sort of a rhythm while walking and just kept on going. Maybe the morning’s runner was a bit of inspiration. 

Walking lets you experience more of life here. We got to say good-morning to several little grandmas manning their road side shops. We passed a family of five skinning a freshly slaughtered goat. Mom handled the knife while each of her four kids stretched the goat by it’s leg. I mean... not my favorite thing to watch but it’s nice to see kids helping their momma. We saw a very innovative little boy pulling a toy car he’d designed. The body of the car was a motor oil bottle, the wheels made from caps. Anyway…we’re loving the exercise.

We we’re picked up by Johanne and a friend. Her former co-worker. He’s from Ghana and works for the UN. The four of us spent the day together grocery shopping in the Dominican Republic. We got to learn a little about his life and his passion for educating the children of his country. In fact, he’s sacrificing by being away from his family in order to earn the additional money needed to start the school of his dreams back in Ghana.

Here’s a few bits of wisdom I gained from our Ghanaese friend after sharing a bit about our plans.

“Do you have a picture of it, in your head?” he asked.
Yes. I answered.
“Good,” he said. “Keep it in your head. Pray towards it and you will see that it comes to reality.”

Johanne was still checking out in the grocery store and Jenn was helping her bag her things. He and I were guarding a cluster of grocery bags from a group of hungry boys anxious for their chance to help us carry our bags back into Haiti.

He told me about a house he built on the property so that he will be able to live right next to the school when it is finished. I told him about our plans to also live close to our project, above it in fact. “Yes” he said. “Stay close to your vision.”

Pray. Check.
Stay close. Check

Fruit stand - Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is an interesting place. A river separates the two countries. If you have a passport and want to go across just for the day you can do so without stamping in and out of each country. Just walk through the gates like you own the place and trot across the bridge like you do so everyday. You do what you need to do and come back.

Jenn and I have collected a few other border crossing stories that aren’t so docile. Some involving bribing guards, passing a baby through the locked gate, bribing the guards and then shimmying around the gate, skipping the gate altogether and crossing the water on piggy back…but today’s trip over the border was quite uneventful.

A river separates Haiti and the Dominican Republic

This is a common scene in Haiti. Anywhere there’s water your likely to find women washing.

Speaking of washing, the day’s best purchase –by unanimous decision- was a log of bar soap used in Haiti and the Dominican to hand wash clothing. We’d heard a rumor that this is the way to go in terms of laundry and decided to give it a try. The rumors are, in fact, true. We tested the soap on Jenn’s only pair of jeans which, dare I confess, hadn’t been washed in nine days. Apparently she was wearing them that day at the Laundromat. The Dominican bar soap worked like a charm, just slice off a round and scrub away!

Seeing Mark was quite possibly a mutual highlight.

Jenn and Mark

If you haven’t yet met this little boy I invite you to read more about his early struggles. We’ve written about his mom, Monia, on the Second Mile Haiti website. Mark is 13 months old and has had an adventure of a life up until this point. He has a heart condition that makes it difficult for him to grow and develop at a normal rate.  We met Mark when he was 6 months old and very sick. By God’s grace and his mom’s unswerving commitment to his health Mark is alive and doing well.

It’s amazing to see him play with his shoes, and roll around, and babble. Not quite the size and  stature of a one year old but he’s getting there!

Pretty soon Mark is going to be a big brother…

We're so thankful to God for preserving his life.

The day ended with another trip into town for a few more items. A washing basin and a bag of rice. We don’t have a stove but we do have a rice-cooker! Little did we know that in addition to cooking rice it also boils water for coffee, makes oatmeal, and cooks pasta. We’re considering browning meat in it as well….

We’re thankful for our rice-cooker, and this place to stay, and for clean clothes…and our soon-to-be vehicle.

To top off an already great day we got a phone call saying that the offer we placed on a truck was accepted! Jenn and Johanne had gone to great lengths to make this deal. They’ve done the bargaining and the test driving and even had the chief mechanic at the UN take a look under the hood. It checks out well!

By the way… we’re working towards the next step in this process: buying land. If you’d like to help us get there buy a t-shirt or make a donation! We’re hoping to raise $10,000 in the next two weeks.