Saturday, March 27, 2010

To the Top of the Mountain!

I've not been feeling so good today. I've got some intestinal stuff going on that sucks, but I still haven't puked. That's a plus! I opted not to head to General today and work with the kids because I don't want to faint or get stuck feeling crappy in the middle of my 4-5 mile walk. I laid some blankets down in the back on the CT Scanner and took a long nap. That has been the excitement of my day... rest, fluids, rice, and relaxation.

I'm feeling just fine today, no more feeling sluggish and no more stomach issues. We started group at the CDTI early this morning again. By about 8:30, the kids were circled up and starting to share. Katura was having a rough day and was very quiet. She had a few tears rolling down her cheek and didn't want to share. We all went around and told Katura good things about why we love her. Then, we talked about helping to spread throughout our family and friends some of the hope and happiness that we have cultivated in group. For our activity today, I had everyone sit on the ground and take a piece of sidewalk chalk. Then, I had everyone give the ground a message. In big letters we wrote "No Tremble!" meaning "No more shaking!" Kids wrote the words God and hope and love. It was a neat activity and I explained that when the rains came today, it would wash all of our messages deep into the earth. A couple of the kids then got playful and drew of big hopscotch board with the chalk. In the back of my mind, I got kinda concerned because I thought it would end up singling out people like Katura with only one leg. But, with the same kind of swift progress she has been making, she proved me wrong. This little girl got up out of her wheelchair and hopped over to the beginning of the hopscotch board, went all the way to the end, turned around and hopped back! She's starting to gain confidence and take new risks.

My friend Alison Wright stopped by the hospital today. She is back in town to do a story on the Haitian art for the Smithsonian Magazine. It was nice to take her around the tents and update her on many of the patient's significant progress. She had known them all when they were new patients. Later this week, Alison and I are planning on heading out to one of the remote villages. It should be a nice little adventure.

Instead of heading down to the General Hospital today, I headed up the mountains to the Kenscoff Clinic. I went with Chantell and her cousin Donaldson. He was so kind to bring me up there and the three of us really had a great time riding and laughing. The drive is about 45 minutes uphill. On the way, we stopped at a "zoo". This "zoo" has caged pidgeons, rabbits, goats, a monkey, and a crocodile. It's a pretty sad zoo compared to those in the U.S., but it was still fun to see. I'm always mesmorized by the monkeys. The was pretty close to a big Baptist compound where you could see a Billy Graham bus rolling out, a little too over the top for me, but we decided to walk around anyhow. We passed a little Haitian museum where you could go inside and see everything from generations of Haitian currency to real voodoo dolls. Shortly thereafter, we came to Fort Jacques. This is a massive military fort from the days when Haiti first gained it's independence... more than 200 years ago. It withstood a war and the weather for more than 2 centuries, but it was no match for the earthquake. Cannons have toppled down the hill. The sides of the fort have crumbled, tunnels have completely collapsed, walls have caved in, and what stood as a sign of a strong Haiti is now very symbolic of a force that has finally brought this nation to its knees. It was a very humbling sight.

Continuing uphill, we passed massive green rolling hills, towering pine trees, lush farm land, and at the very top... an antennea garden just like in Duluth. We walked over behind the towers to a place where at your feet you are surrounded by lilies and in the distance you can see Port au Prince. We were so high up that the air had turned cold, we could see our breath, and we were in the middle of the clouds. At some parts, we were looking down at the clouds! I kept thinking to myself, "Am I still in Haiti?"

Finally, at the Kenscoff Clinic, I rounded the corner to surprise the girls! They seemed very excited to see me. Big hugs were exchanged, we quickly caught up, and then they gave me a big tour of the compound including a garden and a forest of thick green bamboo. This place really is a piece of heaven. I'd love to just linger here for a while. As we sat around talking a big beautiful rusty colored horse and his owner swaggered their way into the clinic. A little boy there got to get on his back and enjoyed the ride and the attention. Finally, after discussing some future plans and possibilities, we had to depart. On our way back to the hospital, Chantel and I grabbed some chocolate ice cream, which was a refreshing treat. We got back to the hospital with time left to still wait on the surgical team to wrap things up. As we waited, I went out in the courtyard to show the kids pictures of our day. They get so excited to see pictures of themselves or anyone they know for that matter.


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