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Living in Citè Dalencourt

October 3, 2011

I have to admit I’ve been wondering just what God has in mind for me now.  As has often happened, He hasn’t found it necessary to let me in on His plan for my life at the moment.  I have not begun working at Saint Nicholas Hospital.  Whenever I contact them, someone else has to be consulted before I can start.  I am beginning to suspect that this “hurry up and wait” routine is the administration’s polite way of saying no.  Chris tells me that no one has spoken to him about it as yet.

In the meantime I have been asked to teach mathematics at Touch Ministries’ school a short block from where I am now living.  They had no one on staff up to the task.  I am about to find out if I am.  Tomorrow will be my first day.  I will also be helping out a nurse who is setting things up for the arrival of a series of American surgical teams that will come to Pierre Payen Hospital in a few weeks.  When they arrive I may continue to assist as I am able.  Bill and Cheryl, who graciously opened their home to me, very much enjoy my culinary skills, so I expect I will be doing a lot of the cooking while I am here.  We eat together each evening, which is very nice.  I frequently spend time with Jean Hilaire, who helps me a great deal, and our conversation continues to improve my Creole.

I am told that the house I now live in was once one of the finest houses in Saint-Marc.  It is certainly not what I had in mind, but God gave it to me and I am grateful.  Situated high above the city in Citè Dalencourt, it affords spectacular views of the city and the Caribbean.  It has fallen into disrepair to some degree, but it is still a gracious three-storey house with spacious rooms, patterned ceramic tile floors, a fantastic kitchen, plenty of ironwork and balustrades.  It has no glass in most of the windows but it does have screens on most.  Despite its grandeur it suffers from some typical Haitian problems; electricity is almost non-existent and the water supply is erratic.  Bill runs the generator for a while most days to accommodate the Bible classes he runs, which helps as the pump has time to fill the rooftop cistern.  We do get public power from time to time but the quality is so poor it will not charge my laptop.

The scarcity of electrical power is requiring some adjustment.  I am having a bit of difficulty reconciling my need for only five hours sleep with twelve hours of darkness.  I frequently find myself awake in the wee hours of the morning.  Finding something to do without significant light is difficulty.  My habit for years when awake at night has been to read or to work on the computer.  However in my current situation my laptop is of little help, as even if I have been able to charge it fully it will only afford me a couple of hours use.  But a way of assuring a full charge has presented itself; I am welcome to charge it when teaching.

My room is coming together.  I managed to purchase a quite comfortable bed, but my search for sheets was frustrating.   I simply could not find a set to fit anywhere.   But through the generosity of a dear friend I now have a set of very serviceable though unmatched and not quite the right size sheets.  A mosquito tent was easy; they are readily available here.  I purchased a quality set of plastic lawn chairs with a coffee table and an open armoire made of iron.  My room has some built in shelving which allows me to keep my things organized.  With an oil lamp for light it is very comfortable.

Getting Internet access has proved to be more difficult than I was led to believe.  The new service provider was selling jump drives at a reasonable cost, but a number of enterprising individuals bought up their entire supply and are now reselling them, often at a considerable premium.  Jean Hilaire recommended an Internet café that has proved excellent, and the proprietor very quickly found a jump drive for me at not much more than original cost.

Our housekeeper hand washes my clothes for a very modest fee.  No automatic washer can get them so clean.  I have had to restrain myself from cleaning up the kitchen so as not to encroach on her job.

I have had my adventures with the moto taxis I have come to use quite a lot.  I am sporting a rather ugly looking burn on the inner calf of my right leg from touching the muffler of a bike.  This is a fairly common injury here and everyone instantly recognizes it for what it is.  I was lucky to escape with a few minor scratches when the bike I was on skidded on loose gravel unceremoniously dumping my chauffeur and I.  I have come to a workable compromise for myself. I usually walk downtown (downhill) and catch a moto ride home (uphill), especially when I am carrying purchases.  The drivers are very adept at carrying just about anything; my chairs and table came home on a moto with me.  I have come to quite enjoy walking and have been covering several miles each day.

I became acquainted with how to move major items here.  I hired a guy with a wheelbarrow who pushed my armoire half way across the city and up the hill to Citè Dalencourt for $2.50.

I walk a lot.  Most days I walk into the city and into the market.  It always adds up to many miles.  It has improved my stamina and I can now climb the hills without getting winded.  And I think I am shedding pounds again, although I have no scale to testify to that.

Someone sent me this quote and I thought it very apropos.

The highest courage is to dare to be yourself in the face of adversity. Choosing right over wrong, ethics over convenience, and truth over popularity… These are the choices that measure your life. Travel the path of integrity without looking back, for there is never a wrong time to do the right thing.
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God continues to provide for my needs in some very unexpected ways.  Trusting Him makes life so much easier.

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