A few months ago members of my church, St. James United Church in Waterdown decided to plan a mission trip to Trinidad. Initially, I was interested to see what the details were for the trip, however, they were scheduled to go during the first two weeks of May. Since Candice would be working and I look after the two little girls on those days, I didn’t think anymore about the trip.
While Candice and I were driving in the car in August, she asked me if I had thought about going on the mission trip. I told her I had, but not too seriously due to the timing of it. Candice, being the ever supportive wife, said that if I really wanted to go then she knew that we would be able to figure something out. My wife is an amazing woman. She is always thinking about others before herself and more about me than I think I deserve. After that I decided to find out more about the mission trip.
In October, I learned more details about the trip to Trinidad. The team would be working at an orphanage, helping to fix up the roof and other areas. The orphanage is the Whitefield’s Childrens Home located in the town of Cunupia in central Trinidad. Linda’s niece had visited the Children’s Home and took a few pictures of buildings that needed to fixed up and the children there. As I was looking through the pictures, there was a little girl with dark curly hair, dark eyes and an adorable smile. She reminded me so much of my little Alayna. I knew after seeing her that I needed to help.
So I am signed up for another mission trip, two years after my trip to Haiti. I am excited to go, as I have learned how much I really enjoy helping people. Whether it was in Haiti talking with new friends or local business owners helping them become more successful, I have a passion for helping.
One of the major differences between this trip and my last was that we need to raise money for the building supplies, as well as for us getting down there. The building supplies work out to around $4,000. One of the first fundraisers we will being doing is a dance on Saturday November 17th at the Burlington Lion’s Club at 471 Pearl St in Burlington. There will be the steelpan band, Pan Connection as well as DJ music. A Cash Bar and Hot Buffet will be served, as well as Draws and Raffles. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. All the proceeds will go into the fund for the building supplies. If you are interested in purchasing tickets, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I guess I better spend some time on finishing up publishing my Haiti journal, before May!
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The countries in East Africa have seen the worst drought of the past 60 years. Their crops have withered and livestock killed, now millions of people are facing food shortages with little hope in sight for relief. With over 12 million people affected by these severe droughts, many aid agencies are desperately seeking help.
Just recently, UN airlifts have been allowed to arrive in the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu with relief. Somalia has been the hardest hit from the drought due to military conflicts not allowing food and supplies to reach the people. Somali refuges are flooding across the borders into Kenya and Ethiopia, where the camps have become so over crowded that unsanitary conditions are leading to severe malnutrition and death.
According to Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) Valerie Amos, the need in East Africa is expected to last at least three to four months, and the number of people needing humanitarian assistance could increase by as much as 25 per cent. The UN has announced that if the response of aid does not increase quickly, then the famine could spread further south in Somalia. (Click here to view the Humanitarian Snapshot of the Horn of Africa from OCHA)
Save the Children has released the Bob Marley track High Tide or Low Tide for sale on iTunes with the funds received going to the aid in East Africa. I have added new products to the Aid section of the Yesteeyear store with a Horn of Africa design. All proceeds from the initial sales of these products will go directly to the Red Cross to help in the relief efforts. More designs to be added soon. Please think about ways how you can help the children in East Africa.
Sunday August 22nd 2010,
Al let us know that it was 5:30 AM, when he left for a walk this morning, so I rolled back over for another half an hour. At 6AM, I got up, showered and dressed. Then I made my way to the Holiday House for coffee and breakfast. I’ll emphasize coffee! The kitchen ladies have Sunday off, but they made us a coffee cake. Along with the cake, we had Corn Flakes by Alberto and bananas. Julie and Hannah picked us up in the van to take us to the Haitian church service. Wadner came with us as our translator. We also picked up Dr. Rodney Baptiste and his family. Dr. Rodney was preaching today at the service. So that made 17 of us in the van going down the bumpy roads to church.
The church was in the back of a kindergarten. We walked through the gate and around the building. There was a cinder block wall with an empty spot for the door. It looked like the other four walls were either part of the wall that surrounds the land or an adjacent building. It had a metal roof, which was held up by 2 x 4s. There is a stage in the front to raise the preacher and choir up. The pews were mostly just wooden benches that you have to step into, with a desktop in front of you. It was mostly separated with the women on the left side and the men on the right. When we arrived, they put out plastic patio chairs for us. There were two speakers in front of the stage to help hear the keyboard and microphone. Everyone was dressed up. The men were all wearing long sleeve dress shirts with undershirts underneath them as well. I couldn’t believe it. I was already sweating in my light linen short sleeve shirt! The women were all in dresses and the kids had on their best clothes. When we got to the church, the choir was already singing. I noticed that Johnson, who I met the day before at the English service was playing the keyboard. I had a huge smile on when I recognized him. Wadner handed us headphones and a receiver so that he could translate without being too loud. After the songs, the Pastor came up to pray and thank the Lord for this day. He had us stand up, say our names and where we come from. Then he welcomed us and we started to do the passing of the peace. I walked over to a few men and shook their hands but noticed everyone hugging each other. When I turned around into the aisle, everyone started hugging me. It was amazing. It was just a sea of people, men, women, old and young, hugging each other. I saw Johnson and hugged him. It was a moment that I will never forget. For the first time, I could really feel the peace of passing of the peace. The music and everyone were loud, but it still felt so quiet and peaceful. (It still brings tears to my eyes thinking about that moment.)
It has been over 6 months since I left my job. I have been at home with my three kids and it’s hard! I’m not going to sugar-coat it, it is frickin’ hard! I love my children more than life itself, but you definitely need an unlimited supply of patience to be home with kids. There is no doubt that from time to time, my frustration levels have peaked. When my 3-year old is over-tired and absolutely nothing I do will calm him down; or when the twentieth drink (at least that’s what it feels like) is spilt on the floor, it is hard!
When I was working, the single best moment of my day was when I walked through the front door and three screaming kids came running at me yelling “DADDY!!!!”. I might not get that moment of excitement as much anymore, but there are so many more amazing moments. The random “Daddy, I love you” sprinkled throughout my day or “you’re the bestest Daddy ever” touch my heart so deeply that my eyes well up with tears and makes this all worth it.
My 15 days away for my trip to Haiti was the longest I had ever been away from my kids. I laid in my bed at night and watched pictures of my family on my iPod with a big smile on my face. I think I have made up that time lost since!
I don’t know if it’s the universe trying to tell me something or an unbelievable coincidence, but as I was typing this out, my sister-in-law typed the following on my Facebook wall.
[The] “practice of being miserable in a job…creates a dangerous atmosphere, which can affect growing children, who see the adults they love relating negatively to their work, coming home frustrated and unhappy. Imagine being able to face your kids honestly, having them know you cannot be bought that you are among those who do not have a price. It is so much healthier for a child to see parents recognizing that their way of living is wrong and seeking a remedy rather than continuing to rationalize unhappiness, thereby encouraging their child to follow the same pattern.” William Coperthwaite
“Chris you are amazing and someone who’s children admire,respect and love him I read this quote and was SO PROUD OF YOU. You are one of these people”
One problem is that I have a hole in my resume now. I left a good paying job that I didn’t feel like I properly fit in to find a better fit somewhere else. How will a potential employer view this gap? I really don’t care. I have learned more in these 6 months than I would have doing the same thing over and over again. It’s hard to put that on a resume.
In the middle of typing this post, my family came home from swimming lessons. My 17-month old little girl wanted me to rock her to sleep for her nap. Before, she would always reach out for mommy, but now I get the snuggles. That will never be taken away.
I had been rationalizing my unhappiness for far too long. I kept thinking maybe it would change soon. I am now trying to remedy the path I strayed down and hope I will always encourage my children to live the life they want and only strive for happiness.
Before I went on my trip to Haiti, I wanted to find a book to learn more about the country. I went to the Hamilton Public Library online catalog, but couldn’t find much. The best that I could find was a travel guide to the Dominican Republic and Haiti. I requested it, but then found something better. The book was An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a Presidentby Randall Robinson. As I found out, it talks about the history
of Haiti, but focuses, on the 2004 US-led coup-d’etat of Haitian President Jean-Bertand Aristide. President Aristide’s proposed social changes to Haiti would negatively effect the American business interests in the country and the then US government could not let that happen. The US trained rebel forces to distrupt the country, while the US orchestrated removing Aristide from office and sending him to Africa in exile.
The reason that I bring this up right in the middle of my diary entries, is that Jean-Bertrand Aristide has returned to Haiti. During the coup, the US government painted Aristide as a corrupt politician. In an artilce titled U.S. should welcome Haiti’s Aristide by Maria Michalos of the NYU News, Michalos talks about Haiti’s need for a leader like Aristide and the love he has for his country and people. I think that the world needs more leaders like Aristide. When reading An Unbroken Agony, I ran across a quote by Aristide from a conversation he had with the author’s wife, Hazel Robinson. When Hazel asked Aristide what God was, he replied,
“First of all, God is love. That means that wherever there is love, true love, with kindness and compassion, and humour and respect, God will be there. And God’s goodness and mercy will be there. At the same time, God is all around us, and more importantly, within us. And so, each time you observe an act of kindness, an act of compassion and consideration, an act of mercy or justice, no matter how large, no matter how small, that is a manifestation of God. These are all manifestations of the God within us all. And acts of kindness and mercy all around the world combine to create the Goodness and Mercy that is God – on a much larger and more dramatic scale.”
After reading this quote, I had a very hard time believing that the former priest, Jean-Bertand Aristide could be a corrupt politician. Unfortunately, I did not read this part of the book until I was back on the plane leaving Haiti. I wish that I had read it before I landed in Aristide’s homeland. It has really touched my heart and I believe that the world could be a better place if everyone looked for the God within them.
After watching the devastation that occurred in Japan last week, I tried to think of something that I could do to help out. I wasn’t too sure what that could be until I logged into my Cafepress account. Cafepress will be donating 10% of it’s sales on specially marked designs to the earthquake relief efforts in Japan. So I spent some time creating a couple of designs in support of Japan.
Please check them out on my Yesteeyear.com website and know that your money is going to a good cause.
Saturday August 21 2010,
I got up at 6:15 AM and went for devotions and breakfast. We had oatmeal and banana bread. The previous night, when Gordon and I were walking to supper, we noticed a bird just hanging in mid-air. We couldn’t figure out what was going on with it, until we got closer and then saw that there was a fishing line stretched out above the power lines and the bird was caught in it. This morning, the line had been cut, but the bird was still caught in it closer to the tree.
We all got into the back of the truck to head over to the school. On the way there, we stopped off at a “hardware store” to grab a couple of extra rollers. Once at the school, Erin and I went back to the window grates. We still had two that needed a first coat. The white paint was getting low, so the rest of the group worked on the beige around the small building and around the back. We got the four windows painted and gave a second coat to one of the doors, but then ran out of paint. The others finished up the beige. We then cleaned up and came back for lunch. There was a little time before lunch, so I relaxed and wrote in my journal – I was a little behind. Bud joined us for lunch, which was egg salad, avocados and oatmeal cookies. We were going to an English speaking service at 5PM, where we went the other day into the community, so we were given a few hours of down time which let me catch up on my journal. Right after lunch, Erin and I took a walk around the compound, we pretty much walked as much as you could. Before we had to go to church, I got showered and relaxed.
Bud and Jane took was down to Cite de Pup – City of the People in the van. It was the same church that we met at on Thursday to walk around the community. There were a couple of people there before us. Tania started practicing the songs she was going to play for the service. A few more people came in and sat down behind us. We shook hands and I asked them their names. I can only recall a couple of people’s names. The names weren’t any that I recognized as French. Erin got a Kreyol leasson from Ednel, who I talked to after the service for a while. Ednel told me that he had an organization that he was running to help children. He wrote my e-mail address in the back of the book he was carrying – A Purpose Driven Life.