Not to be forgotten:

Friday, July 29, 2011

I've been home from Haiti for almost a month now. Before I returned I had a few fleeting thoughts:
'Don't forget what you've learned.'
'Don't revert back to old, selfish habits.'
'You have it made.'

Oh, how easy it is to forget. Out of sight, out of mind, right? I am determined to not let this happen to me. I see how easy it is to forget such valuable lessons taught to me by the Haitian people and become concerned with "first world" problems. Often times, our problems could be referred to simply as inconveniences. If you were born in America, you are already blessed.

I brought home a few small souveniers to spread about the house as constant reminders of my time spent in Haiti. I bunched them all together for a photo:

1. The handmade woven bracelets are a popular item there. I paid $2.00 for a little boy to make my navy and white "Karlee" bracelet.

2. My sweet new friend, Manes, gave me the black and orange Haiti bracelet. He also gave me one to give to Jake:)

3. The WWJD bracelet is a common bracelet in the U.S. but this one was given to me by one of my new young friends, so it's special.

4. I purchased the hematite cross necklace from a nice young man who makes and sells jewelry to fund his college education. He was a Mission of Hope high school graduate.

5. The wooden egg jar (I think that's what it is) was also gifted to me by Manes. It was given on our last night and I later found a sweet letter of encouragement and thanks inside.

6. The small canvas painting was another item I purchased. I loved the native women carrying essentials in baskets on their heads surrounded by the water and palm trees. I added it to my little gallery wall, next to other pieces of original artwork.

And that's it for my little treasures. Do you collect any specific souveniers when you travel? If so, what are they?

wet & wild

Monday, July 25, 2011

We have been having some summer fun over the past month. My parents recently bought a boat and they have really been enjoying it. Thank God for a hot summer. Above are some photos from the 4th of July and another hot, sunny day out on Higgins Lake.

new around here

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A designer purse, except it's a fake. Would never fork over the money for the real thing. And it was a gift from Mom. Bonus.

The perfect summer pink Essie nailpolish. Mod Squad to be exact.

And Little Bee by Chris Cleave. A good, but hard read.

O's Guide to Life. Just for the pictures.

"My heart's so full I don't even need makeup."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One of the children at the orphanage stole my camera and snapped this.

"My heart's so full I don't even need makeup." Quote by me, mid-week in Haiti.

Let me just tell you what a humbling experience it is to go to a foreign country, without all the comforts of home, work in the crazy heat, and not spend any time in front of the mirror. Some women are just natural beauties. I am not one of them. I'm not saying that so everyone will politely disagree, I'm just being honest. There are a lot of people who can go about their daily lives makeup free. Not me. I have a ton of imperfections and choose to cover them up with makeup. But in Haiti? You don't wear makeup. You hardly brush your hair. At least I didn't. A couple of the girls on our trip only showered one time in a week. Now, I didn't take it that far. I showered daily, but I certainly was not concerned with the way I looked, nor did I care what anyone else thought. And to be honest, it was kind of freeing. So, let me encourage you to take a day, weekend, or even a week in a foreign country, to go au naturel. It feels good.

How I lived in Haiti

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ann was my awesome bunkmate

That was my bed for the week. The top bunk. Yeah, that paper thin mattress, that was mine. And I loved it. It felt so great to lie my head on that pillow after a long, sun-scorched day. I lovingly referred to it as "my cage" because the mosquito nets never came up and that's what it felt like.
One night there was an out of this world wind storm and that window next to my bed was not sealed. It contained slants, blowing and whipping sand through my mosquito net, all over my bed. With one hand shielding my eyes I tried to turn my towel into a curtain, taping it over the window with some pitiful duct tape. Which the next big gust blew right off. We all laughed as I sat slumped over in my sand covered bunk. It was a long (sandy) night.

Just to keep it real this is what it's like sharing a room with 11 other girls...8 of which are teenagers.


And don't even get me started on the bathroom.

Haiti Part IV

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Our last full day in Haiti was a beach day. Now, when I heard this I pictured water, a little sand, and probably a little garbage scattered about. Boy, was I wrong! We spent the day at the Wahoo Bay Beach Resort. It was gorgeous. A little slice of heaven for sure.

Ann I were so excited to finally be at the beach!

I honestly thought we had stepped out of Haiti and into the Dominican Republic or something. Our view went from dust and rubble, to the clear blue Caribbean at the foot of smokey gray mountains. Paradise.

That thing was alive and kickin'!

We had such a great time swimming in the ocean, playing in the pool, and eating a fabulous native lunch. I wore sunscreen all week and totally guarded myself from the sun, and much to my dismay, didn't even look sunkissed. So, on our beach day, the day before we left, I decided not to wear sunscreen. After lunch I laid down on a lawn chair to read a little bit and fell fast asleep...right in the sun. Yup, you guessed it. I got burned. A week later, my shoulders are still peeling:(

Where my sunburn was born
Swimming with Ann and Lee

Jordan and I waiting for lunch

Bye, Haiti. I will miss you. Until we meet again....

Haiti Part III

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New friends-Emmanuel and Manes.

Our team had the pleasure of working with some of the MOH Haitian interns for the week. When Manes first sat down next to me on the bus I thought the language was really going to be a huge barrier in getting to know these guys. Two hours later, we were best buds.

Manes and I in the village of Berse.

It is funny how some things are just universal. For example, here is a conversation I had with Manes.

Me: Do you have a girlfriend?

Manes: Girlfriend? No. Don't want one.

Me: Why not?

Manes: (thinks for a moment, trying to decide how to explain in english) Uh, big headache. Girlfriend big headache. Money, money, money!

Haha. I told him my husband would probably agree:)

Walking to the river while Lickenson teaches me words in Creole.

The guys worked along side of us all week; working on service projects and loving on the village children. One thing that can be said about those Haitians is they are hard workers. And they don't go running for their water bottles every 5 minutes in the 100+ degree-65% humidity-heat. James, in particular, was in one of the fields cutting out all of the unwanted weeds and bushes with a machete. This was the hottest day I have ever encountered. I never saw him take a water break or even hop in the shade for a bit. Finally I went over to him and said "James, you're worrying me. You work too hard. Get some water."
He smiled that million dollar smile and said "Ok, Karlee. I do that."

Me and James.

Another thing I learned about the Haitian people after spending a week with these guys is they will literally give you the shirt off their back. These people have close to nothing but would gladly give you everything. Example: I was telling Lickenson how much I love mangos as we were passing a bunch of mango trees. He said "You like mango? Yes, mango's good."
The next day he handed me a bag of 3 mangos. He had stopped at the market that morning on his way to meet us at Mission of Hope. I tried to refuse but he would not take no for an answer, so I shared with others at lunchtime. And we had to be wise with our compliments because one girl complimented someone on their tie dye shirt and he started to take it off, "Here. I give to you."

Me and Lickenson

Working to clear a rice field in the village of Berse. Imagine jumping into an oven and that is exactly what that field felt like.

Even work days were enjoyable when spent with our Haitian friends. One day was spent preparing the second floor of the MOH guest house for a group of 60 that would be arriving the next morning. We cleaned, moved furniture, set up bunkbeds, installed ceiling fans and vanities, and did A LOT of painting. For some reason I was one of the ones chosen to paint the outside of the building about 20 feet up in the air. I skimmed the walls on the outside ledge very carefully and painted away with about 5 others. It wasn't until the next day we learned there is supposed to be a limit of 2 people up there at a time. And get this-- they're supposed to be harnessed in.

Despite the heat and humidity, we spent the day completely entertained, laughing, joking and singing worship songs in Creole and English. Yes, I learned a song in Creole!

Teaching the village children some dance moves!

Speaking of joking, those guys sure loved to tease us! Like Lickenson quizzing me on my creole. If I answered with the wrong phrase, he would laugh at me. It was good natured of course:) One afternoon Manes asked me if I cooked for my husband. He didn't look like he had much faith in me. I answered, "sometimes." Then Emmanuel chimed in, "Yeah her husband say, Karlee whats for dinner? And she say, Eggs or Bread? Ha ha ha!" They really got a kick out of that. Am I that easy to read that these guys who just met me already know my cooking leaves a lot to be desired???

Manes and Emmanuel playing with the village children.

Now that I'm home I find myself worrying about my new friends. Are they safe, have they eaten? Will they return to university in the fall? These sweet people who we worked with, joked with, ate meals with, prayed and worshipped with might as well be an entire world away. Their culture and way of life is so far removed from everything we know here in the U.S., but one comforting fact is, we serve the same God.  And that same God loves and cares for them just as much as He loves and cares for us. I can take comfort in that. I do hope I can visit my friends again someday.

Haiti- Part II

Friday, July 8, 2011

See? Precious.

The children of Haiti are precious. A few know phrases in English, like "what's your name?" But most just communicate in other ways. I tried my best to learn a few key questions in creole, such as "What is your name?" and "How old are you?" However,  the majority of the time we just communicated through smiles, hugs, hand holding, and piggy back rides.

I feel in love with this 11 yr old at the Victorious Kids Orphanage.

These children are resilient. Maybe it's because they are survivors. They go days without food and live with illnesses that would bring a grown man to his knees. 400,000 of them are without parents or any family at all. We had the privilege of visiting two orphanages during our stay. The one at Mission of Hope houses 60 children and these children live in conditions most Haitian children only dream of. MOH is a christian organization doing amazing things all throughout Haiti.

This little girl was tuckered out.
I almost put this baby in my backpack and brought him home.
a sweet boy I met at church
Meet Jeremiah. He's a mover and a shaker.
See my bracelets? They were given to me by my new Haitian friends.

The second  was Victorious Kids Orphanage. A man named Oscar took 20 orphans into his home after the earthquake and trusts that God will provide for them everyday. This man doesn't have an easy job, but he sure has a lot of faith.

The older kids sang us songs. One of them was "I have decided to follow Jesus." In English.

The sad reality is, those 20 children had not eaten in several days. When I heard that I had to walk away. I had a breakdown and a little heart to heart with God. Life on earth is SO unfair.

Stay tuned for more on my trip to Haiti....


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