my life songs

all things la tienda
February 24, 2010, 6:47 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

after making three trips to haiti in january because of the earthquake, rachel and i came back anxious to get things moving with the art co-op.  in between trips to haiti we were trying to just keep things afloat.  and they did.  things were made, people sold items, women were paid, mouths were fed.  i attest it solely to the work of the Lord.  i really don’t know how we managed.

when i got back from my hiatus back in austin, rachel and i immediately sat down and made up a plan for the year.  we know that this year we are capable of taking the art co-op to the next level… yes, a fully functioning, independently run cooperative of haitian and dominican women.  lovely.  the truth is that there are parts of what rachel and i do that can be done by the women here.  it just takes the time to figure out all the parts, teach, and release.  la tienda will always require YOU as a part in order to function.  it’s what we can do to help improve the lives of others.  and, if rachel and i were freed up from our responsibilities here it just means that much more time that we could put into the fight of finding support for our lovely ladies.  so after loosing some time spent in haiti, we have been working double to make up for it.

so here’s a few achievements so to speak, progress:

we opened up three banks accounts in the names of six women.  these six women are now responsible for paying all of the other women.  they have been trained in how to account for the money.  they travel in pairs of two to take out money from the bank.  now the women are capable of receiving their pay even if rachel and i are not here!  HUGE!

rachel and i have been writing procedures for all things art co-op.  (it’s about exciting as it sounds.)  every item that is made in the art co-op has an involved set of steps for it’s completion.  some of the items involve several women, some involve someone purchasing items, or collecting raw materials from the earth, and someone to check the work, and then tag and price the items.  we’re writing out the procedures for every item and translating them into spanish.  this has helped us to get organized in several ways.  now, we are completely aware of all the steps that involve rachel or myself, and we are beginning to train the women how to do those things.  also, we are able to know exactly how much each item costs, how many of each item to make, exactly the amount of supplies to buy, and how to price the items in order to make a profit for our mujeres.

it does feel rewarding to be getting so much done.  however, it’s been a bit of a soul crushing battle.  a lot of the women have been lazy and ungrateful lately, which hurts when we are working so hard on their behalf.  we do always have those faithful women that show up, pull their weight, always say thank you, and never ask for more.  it is my hope that all would realize the battle and sacrifice that we make for them, not because i want the recognition, but because i want them to understand the free undeserving gift of Christ’s love.  when they give us a hard time it makes me feel like they don’t understand that i am doing everything i can to help them out of love.  and then i realize that i do the same thing to Jesus.  every time i sin i’m telling Jesus that what He has given me is not enough…. that i’m not content or satisfied.  pray that the women of la tienda would be enlightened to the free gift of Christ, that they would be grateful, satisfied, matured human beings… and pray the same for me too.

here’s a picture of the place i get my elbows dirty every day.


a little bit of who i am
February 14, 2010, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

i realize that some people reading this blog might not really know me, or maybe they just really only know one side.  most of my friends would probably agree that i’m pretty chill.  but i know i have a tendency to be a little feisty under stressful situations.  i CAN be the first one to speak up when necessary, when justice needs to be served.  i CAN be a bit of a go-getter when it’s on behalf of others.  so this blog is a little bit about me… plus i told you all that i would divulge more information about crossing the dominican-haitian border at a later date.  today is that later date.

as another disclaimer:  i realize that some of this may be a bit incriminating, but i’m willing to take that risk because i trust all of you unknown people that read this 🙂

this first trip we made into haiti we crossed the border at dajabon on a friday.  mondays and fridays the border opens up for market day.  people cross at will to buy and sell things, but if you want to legally cross the border you still have to go through customs.  i don’t want to get kicked out of this country or any other for not having all the proper stamps on my passport, so we went ahead and followed all of the protocol.  when we got to dajabon we were stopped by the mass of people at the border for market day.  we literally inched our way to border control with a couple of young kids making sure we could get through the crowd without hitting any people or carts.  it took hours.  then of course as soon as the dominican guardia saw the dominican tags on our cars we were stopped and made to get out.  we didn’t really know what to expect crossing, so we just did what we were told.

we were led to a tiny un-air-conditioned office where we had to present all of our papers for our vehicles.  some of you know negrita, mine and ashley’s car.  in this country you have to have a piece of paper called a matricula.  it’s like the title of the vehicle.  it cost a lot of money, and most people own cars that they never officially transfer to their names.  ashley and i bought the car off of another missionary that was leaving, so we never really had time to do the martricula, but we did have an “acto de venta” (act of sale).  unfortunately, and because we are stupid, we had left this document at home.  so all i had was the copy of the old matricula and a copy of the passport of the person from whom we bought the car.  i’m glad that the dominican republic is checking people’s paperwork for their cars… i don’t want my car to be stolen and taken to haiti, but i realized this was going to pose a problem for ME trying to cross.  the first customs guy told us to take all of our paperwork to the politur guy to have it approved… and then we could pass with our cars.

we went to the next office.  there i handed the politur guy the matricula and the copy of the previous owner’s passport.  i’m asked, “is this you?”  to which i respond, “mmmhmmm.”  i realize this was wrong.  we’re fixing the problem.  we will be getting the matricula very soon in our names.  but in this moment, i needed to get to haiti with the crap load of supplies i had in the car.  i know you’re thinking…. “cara, you are crazy.  you just lied to a government official.”  but honestly, i knew i could have just pretended i didn’t understand his spanish and everything would have been okay.  the worst that could happen is that they could have told us we couldn’t cross.  rachel, being the perfectly honest person that she is, started to respond that we didn’t have the proper paperwork, but when she realized i was going to be a big fat liar, she shut her mouth.

so we got our cars approved to cross and headed on over to passport control.  i would have much more of a problem with all of this if i didn’t actually own the car and if i wasn’t trying to bring supplies into haiti for people that needed it desperately.

at passport control we were told to pay $5 at one window and another $20 at another window PER PERSON, $125 total about which i was very concerned.  we were told we wouldn’t have to pay any taxes because we were bringing aid.  so i walked back to the politur office and demanded that they let us cross for free, to which he responded that they would not be charging us for any of the supplies we carried, just for the passports to be stamped.  LADRONES!  $125!  i’m still pissed about it.  i’m here to help you people!  so we paid the money and went on our way.

well… not exactly.  there was a ridiculously long line that we were told to stand in and another long line at the next window.  people hate going through customs in the states.  they hate the security checks where they have to strip down.  be glad you don’t have to pass through a place that has only one window! with people pushing, cutting, and yelling.  i was elected to stand in line for our group to have our passports checked.  well… i volunteered.  i’m little and i wasn’t going to let anyone get in front of me.

all the while we are waiting for chris to show up and meet us.  i won’t leave this a hanger, because you all know we made it to chris’s place in cap haitian.  he showed up to meet us at the border while we were waiting in line to cross.  he was easy to spot… the only other foreigner of the crowd.  which made me think… “what the heck are we doing?  we are the only other foreigners trying to DRIVE into haiti right now.”

chris speaks great creole.  he talked to the one man that was there to control the mob, explained that we were bringing in aid, and then told us that we were going to be allowed to move to the front of the line.  this still was going to require me cutting EVERYONE.  i waited for the next guy to leave the window and then literally pushed my way in.  the window was too high for me to see into so i had to stand on a tiny ledge underneath it and stick my arm up into the air with the five passports in hand.  the women on the other side took the passports and the money, stamped them, and then passed them through a hole in the wall to the next window.

there was more waiting at this window, but i moved my way back up the the front again.  it took a while for the guy to fill out all of the paperwork for our cars, and he passed a few other people in front of us.  plus, in the middle of all this waiting he got up to go to the bathroom and locked himself out of the room that only he was occupying.  you can imagine my bafflement as to why it was taking this guy such a long time to come back… “did he go to the bathroom?” and my amusement when i saw a broomstick being pushed through the hole in the wall to retrieve the keys that he had left sitting on the desk.  oh developing world, how i love thee.

after a long time (i’m not even sure how long), i came running from the window with papers in hand.  we loaded back into the cars and crossed the bridge into haiti…

are you ready for the next story?  i’ll keep it short.  the second trip we made into haiti was to port au prince and we took the bus.  we weren’t really sure when we would be leaving there to come back, but we figured we could just catch the bus back.

when we got to the bus station to leave it was chaos once again, huge lines of people, confusion, etc.  we were first told to stand in line, that we could make a reservation for a bus that would be leaving in three days!  after some pushing and trying to hold our spot in line, i decided that i would go to the front of the line to see what i could figure out.  all of these people were standing in line to nowhere.  there was nothing at the front of the line, no window, nada.  i asked a women there if she spoke spanish and explained to her my situation.  she pushed me inside of the building.  i yelled at rachel to come with our passports.  they were apparently giving aid workers priority.  we could after all leave on the bus that day… in 20 minutes!  we paid the bus fee and then were told that it would be another $28 per person in taxes to the dominican governmernt.  i said NO.  the lady at the counter was very helpful and said that she would put a note on our passports saying that we would not be paying taxes.  the guys in line next to me wanted in on that deal as well.  they had been in port au prince since right after the earthquake doing search and rescue.

here’s the deal:

For every one dollar of U.S. aid to Haiti, 42 cents is for disaster assistance, 33 cents is for the U.S. military, 9 cents is for food, 9 cents is to transport the food, 5 cents to pay Haitians to help with recovery effort, 1 cent is for the Haitian government and ½ a cent is for the government of the Dominican Republic. Source: Associated Press.

my government has already paid you dominican republic.  i will not be paying you again.

i expected that we would be called off of the bus and that i would have to argue my point.  nothing was ever said.  when in doubt just say no.

hope this made you laugh and you won’t be reporting me 🙂

February 12, 2010, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

a few months ago i wrote a blog about yoslena.  in a horrible situation she ended up losing her baby.  this week i took her to the doctor again to have a pregnancy test.  we already knew that she was pregnant because she is showing a great deal, AND the test was positive.  next week i will take her back for her first consultation.

pray for her.  i fear that she has no idea what it means to be a mother.  i also worry for myself that i have taken on too much responsibility trying to help her.  i think… if you can’t even go to the doctor by yourself, how are you going to be a mother?  i love her though, and if i were 17 and pregnant i would want someone to go with me to the doctor.  she asked me to be the godmother.

we had been trying to set up some kind of vocational training for yoslena.  maria, benjamin and johan’s mother, that lives across the street from us, has a salon.  she would be the prefect person for yoslena to learn from.  now i’m just praying for God’s timing in all of that.  we need to get her a healthy baby first.

pray that the Lord grace would be enough to make our efforts perfect, and that He would work miraculously in yoslena’s life.

little dudes go to the states!
February 12, 2010, 1:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

jakob and isaak went home with mama sharla yesterday!!!!

trip to port au prince
February 8, 2010, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

january 31st rachel, gideon and i traveled back to haiti.  after having set up chris and johanne with a space to receive children that had been recently orphaned by the earthquake we were eager to help them connected with the right people to bring kids to cap haitian.  this time we packed up our suitcases and left on the first bus in the morning to head to port au prince.  we took in some medical supplies and a few coloring books for kids that were stuck in the hospitals with injuries.   we had to switch buses in santo dominigo where we met our new best friend, jonathan.  he was traveling to port au prince to work in an orphanage.  he left miami not knowing how he was going to find the orphanage.  so we decided to adopt him and help him find his way.  although we all felt that the Lord had called us to this trip and provided a way, it was a lot of closed doors, with the exception of what we were able to do for jonathan.  i’m okay with it if the only purpose of our trip was to help jonathan find his way without dying.

jonathan, you’re a good soul.

after leaving montellano at 5 AM we arrived in port au prince after dark.  (needless to say after this trip… i never want to ride a bus again.)  most of the bus was filled with the wealthy haitian type that were coming in to find their families.  as we drove through the city, even though it was dark, they pressed their faces to the windows and looked at their destroyed city.  i couldn’t imagine coming back into austin this way.  we decided it was a good idea to force jonathan to come with us so that he would have a safe place to stay for the night and wouldn’t go wandering around port au prince at night saying, “ki kote ofelinat?”

praise the Lord our contact luke was there at the bus stop waiting for us, and chris had made the trip down from cap haitian.  for our stay there we were graciously hosted by an orphanage.  we set up a tent and slept every night under the stars.  the orphanage sits at the top of a hill off of delma 75 in port au prince.  it was a beautiful place, with beautiful women, and even more beautiful children.  they care for a lot of handicapped children.  the kids were all sleeping outside even though their building was untouched… everyone was still too scared.  there were some medical groups staying there as well, along with a couple that was waiting on their adoption to go through.  in our free time when we waited for phone calls or debated our next step we played with the kids there… well worth it.

here’s the view from the orphanage.

we got up the next day and miraculously found the place that jonathan was headed.  most of the rest of the time i spent in port au prince i felt like all we did was drive.  we delivered our medical supplies, drove around the city, waited on phone calls, drove around, visited some tent cities, handed out the coloring books.  the best information we got was from the guy that ran the orphanage that jonathan was staying at.  we basically realized that bureaucracy had made it impossible to help children.  we were unsuccessful and getting any kids released to us, but we were successful at not getting arrested!  basically a huge exodus of people has occurred out of port au prince.  the Lord will provide chris and johanne with kids to care for in due time.  actually, the already have 6 in their care!

as for the looks of the city and my perception of how things are going…. i’ve never seen anything so terrible in my whole life.  i question, in the same way that i ask, “why not here? why there? why that house and not the next?  why that family, but not all?”  there is an overwhelming amount of people that still need acceptable shelter.  a large portion of the city still needs cleaning up.  i really felt like we didn’t see any military personnel.  we did meet some guys that had been doing search and rescue with YWAM when we were leaving.  they rode the bus with us back to santo domingo.  Lord bless their souls.  i can’t imagine a more horrifying job.  they were called to a huge task.  i won’t try to describe the stench of the city… it puts a sick feeling in my stomach still.

basically there is still so much to do, but for now i know that the Lord has called me here.  since getting back on wednesday rachel and i have been working on art co-op stuff full force.  i have so much to share about what has been going on there, but we’ll leave that for later.  i will say this… some of our ladies have heard from there families, some not, some have heard that they have lost their family members.  we will continue to do our best to love them here.

thank you so much for your prayers and love.  keep praying that people stay motivated and interested in what’s happening in haiti.  it’s to soon to forget and there is still so much to do there.  i will wait on the Lord.  it is well with my soul.

one should not live this way…

i’ll have more stories soon… for now i’m rushing to get art c0-op work done 🙂


cara jane