Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ranch Montcel, by Cory


I enjoy most of my work and don't like traveling on Haitian roads.

 Therefore I don't really look forward to our mission annual retreats, but this year I was very happy to hear it would be at Montcel.

Strawberries in recycled old water jugs
While researching the Kenscoff vegetable growing area above Port au Prince, I had seen a "Bon Nouvelle" (Good News) video done by Haiti for Christ about Ranch Montcel.
Cherry tomatoes on former tennis court

Montcel is at just over 5,000 feet altitude, and they have done some research into new crops for the area.

We had already planned on making a trip this summer to visit the Baptist Haiti Mission (4,000' altitude) and Montcel to get ideas on what would grow at Delice at 4,400'.

The main crops we saw Montcel growing are strawberry, cherry tomato, red cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale to sell in Port au Prince supermarkets.

Since the Haitian farmers don't grow these crops they sell at a premium price.

They also grow some celery, spinach, mint and other herbs, pepino dulce, artichoke, asparagus, chayote, garlic (mostly to repel pests) and a small variety of potato (for thier own use).

Major local crops are cabbage, onion, potato and carrots, herbs and flowers.

Many school groups and other visitors come up from the Port au Prince area for a day visit to tour the gardens, see farm animals, ride horses, zip line, trampoline or do other sports, eat at the restaurant and listen to the music.

There is a small demonstration farm with goats, pigs, chickens and rabbits.

I joined a school tour and learned that the pigs are fed scrap vegetables from the farm, suplemented with dried fish trimmings from Montcel's fish import buisness and reject corn flakes from a big Port-au-Prince corn flakes factory.

The next day some of the missionaries were given a farm tour and I had several interesting talks with the manager who gives the tours. He is interested in the natural medicine recipies in the Konsey books and selling the books at their produce store.
Strawberries, celery and spinach in tall grow bags.
Many ideas that may help the farmers at Delice to grow more than corn, beans and cows. We did also see some squash, sweet potato and cassava in gardens at Delice.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Montcel Retreat

Thankfully we knew that even in Haiti the weather can be cold in the mountains especially during a weather system bringing wind and rains.

The adult typical retreat days follow this pattern: get up and ready. Chat a bit with others before and during breakfast. Meetings with a few short breaks until lunch at 1 p.m.

Then free time until supper unless you have a personal meeting with leaders or wellness folks.
After supper we gathered for more meetings/worship time.

Then additional fellowship if you want after that until bed. Saturday night they lit a camp fire and even found some marshmallows for roasting.

The food was served buffet style. Breakasts generally included eggs, hotdogs/ham, oatmeal, fruit [mango, banana, pineapple, or papaya] bread with locally made stawberry jam.

Lunch and supper were also good. Salads and locally grown vegetables! The first pork chop I've had in years and other yummy foods. I was thankful that the food wasn't too spicy!

Anna enjoyed hanging out with the teens and other children and childcare workers. Some crafts included: painted shirts, decorated picture frames by dying them, bubble soccer, time working on flips on the trampolines, games like foose ball, and enjoyed treats.

The grounds gave us lots of ideas on landscaping with plants and flowers that like higher altitude and cooler temperatrues. While they don't have as many rocks as our property at Delice they used them in creative ways. Cory and I enjoyed a tour of the areas where the animals and vegitables are being grown.

When we left the missionary family bought boxes of fresh strawberries, a big money maker. And also received: broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, kale, and celery. We are very exited about the possibilities at Delice and also received some seeds and plants. We shared a couple Konsey books with the staff.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Thank you for your patience while waiting for a new blog.

Last week Tuesday we traveled down to Ortlip. Plans to meet a pastor for some paperwork in St. Marc fell through and the folks at Ortlip were recovering from pink eye so we decided to try to go up to Délice early.

We contacted the TWC folks, made plans, and got back into the truck.

Fort and plantation ruins at top of mountain

Our trip to Ortlip took longer than normal due to rain and trying to protect all the trees and plants in the back of the truck.

So we arrived up at Délice just before supper.

We enjoyed getting to know the TWC folks better and slept soundly after all the hours of travel. Wednesday the three of us spent the morning hiking the Wesleyan land and doing some measurements.

Now we need to confirm if the location one cannot build is 200 meters from the fort or from the plantation ruins.

In the afternoon Cory and I walked around the TWC grounds learning what is already being done and talking about locations for trees and plants.

We also went over to the orphanage grounds to check out a 4 year old with a broken arm.

Thursday we headed down the mountain only to find our way blocked by a very large rock.

Thankfully the local road crew arrived shortly after we did and we spent a couple hours waiting for a few men to work with a sledge hammer to break off enough parts of the rock so that the crew's truck and our truck could slowly squeeze through.

Almost, but not quite enough space before the road crew
We headed up to the Baptist Haiti Mission where we enjoyed lunch and a bit of ice cream at the Mountain Maid before Cory connected with a couple of the gardeners.

Then for about 1.5 hours we walked around looking at plants and trees, many that Cory remembered from visits years ago.

Then we headed up to the location of our area retreat. Found our room. Talked. Ate supper and had a bit of worship time before bed.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

VB Finals Part 3 by Anna

Eventually, the rest of the group rejoined us, and we returned to the gym to wait for the awards ceremony, and watch the remaining games. I had removed my watch for the game, and left it in the room, which was locked. However, it was between 10 and 11 P.M. Since last year we didn't eat until 11, this wasn't too bad. At last, all the teams were lined up, and we stood there waiting as the Junior guys finished their match. 
The 3rd, 2nd, then 1st place Minims were called up first, gals then guys. We were up next. After our pictures, we all sat in the back and waited as the rest of the teams filed through. I was sitting when we heard the MVPs being called. This was a new addition since last year, and each was awarded in the same order as the team awards, and they were only selected from the 1st place teams. As they did the Minims, one of my friends said they would call me, so at least I had a bit of warning before being sent alone. The two Minims (M & F) were each given a little trophy and ball. The two Caddettes were each given a slightly larger trophy and knee pads. The Juniors were given even larger trophies and backpacks. The six of us stood awkwardly before the group of iPone wielding people taking pictures, before being released. 

What is interesting is that of the six first place positions, Eben Ezer and Ouanaminthe took four. Ouanaminth is the school we had to beat to come to Port-au-Prince, and they had brought four teams, vs our two (amusing since last year we brought four, while they brought two) Although they were a different school we were cheering for them, since we were all from the Northern district. Out of six positions Fauche, a little podunk place not even on the map, took a third of the spots. :)

We eventually went to our room, and the adults talked to us so long we didn't have time to take showers, despite our sweaty conditions. (much to my annoyance).

 During or after the talking, most of us packed our bags in preparation for the morning. We were all given matching shirts to wear the next day. The Caddette's blue shirts did say National Volleyball Championships. (they also said USA volleyball, and Junior, and 2016, and Indianapolis...) The Minim's shirts were white, and had volleyballs. (they also said regionals, and 2005) But considering most teams didn't have matching volleyball shirts, they were still something, and I will always associate them with Port-au-Prince finals. 
Then Parrola gave three nice blue shirts saying Haiti Volleyball to three of the Caddettes, including me. I have been waiting a long time for a shirt saying Haiti volleyball, so I am happy to have received one before leaving the team. 

Both team's trophies.
Some of the girls continued to talk and joke around, while others attempted to sleep. Eventually, I joined the rest of the girls watching from the top bunks, unable to sleep due to the ruckus. I can get a titch annoyed...and stubborn, when it is 1:20 in the morning, and I am trying to sleep. At my request, the adult lying by the door and the light-switches, flipped them off. They were promptly turned back on by one of the girls. (Note: most of those who had been playing during the majority of the games, were sleeping or trying to, the noisy ones hadn't been playing)

Let's just say I had to get down from my bed, but the lights went off at 1:24 A.M. (some were surprised when I mentioned the time, having retrieved my watch from the locker) We were a very groggy group four/five hours later when we all went and showered. We were ushered out of our room to sit outside, so that the sheets could be counted by those in charge of the facilities. I haven't a clue how long we sat there. I eventually got some water from the cafeteria, and then our busses arrived. 

I doubt I was ever awake for more than a 10min. stretch during the whole ride home. (though occasional neck readjustment was necessary in the bus seats.) We eventually stopped at one of the Sans-souci rest stops, and there we ate the sandwiches provided back in Port. I also had some pateys [fried dough], bought from a street vender, and then we loaded up again, and slept our way to Limbe, arriving around 1 P.M. 

The truck that was supposed to pick us up was still far away, and so we sat and waited for almost two hours. (Note: It only takes 1/2 hour for a truck to get from Limbe to Fauche.) Everyone was given a piece of bread with peanut butter, and half a Tampico [artificial juice-very sweet drink!]. Others bought stuff form the street vendors. (like the really good looking, hot dog on a stick with mayo on it, or the ice cream vendor selling little cups of it for only 10 goudes=less than 20 cents) Sadly, I am not supposed to eat these due to questionable ice and milk sources (for the ice cream) and possibility of spoiled hot dog (which would taste fine, and can happen in America too, so certainly possible on Haitian streets...) I was very close to giving in when the truck arrived, and we traveled the last stretch home. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

VB Finals Part 2 by Anna

I also learned some interesting things about Fauche volleyball, and how such a rural area became involved in volleyball years ago. Apparently over a hundred kids were being trained with a single volleyball. Parolla, now the northern head of The Federation of Haitian Volleyball, happened by, and saw the kids playing. She promised to send volleyballs, and apparently returned with 20 some volleyballs. She has continued to fight for Fauche's teams ever since. 

The water had been removed from the interior courts, and people were busy mopping to clean up the muddy floor. A rumor that we were going to be playing outside circulated, and we went to the outside courts, before returning for breakfast and joyfully filling the inside gym. That morning we played against the team in our threesome pool, and won 2-1. We should have beat 2-0, but we weren't playing very well. One thing that always messes us up is the volleyballs are lighter, so our servers are off, and our spikes go out of bounds. 

In the afternoon, we played our semi finals and once again won 2-1, though they were more closely matched to us. The minims had also won their semi finals, and our teams usually shower before the final match. We showered, and had to put on the same sweaty under-shirt and shorts (Everyone wears under-shirts, and all who have tight shorts wear them underneath the uniforms. I forgot to rinse my second pair the first night.)

Then it got interesting. As we were returning from showers, a shout went up that they had been called. People started saying that if they did't show up they would be eliminated. Chaos ensued, and eventually they were all off (when we arrived the other team hadn't even arrived yet) 

That morning the minims had worn some of the uniforms that were for the Cadettes if they made it to finals.  Fauche had 20 of this style; however, somehow we ended up without enough. Some of ours had been worn by the Minims. Everyone took their number, however mine was no where to be seen. (The week previous I had tried to get the same number as last year, 10, but had ended up with 1) After some searching, I figured out which Minim wore my number, ran to the gymnasium, and asked her where the uniform was. 

She told me it was in her towel, and told me to ask one of the other Cadettes where it was. I ran back, and couldn't find that girl. After some searching we found her towel tossed in one of the lockers. My uniform was rolled into the damp towel, along with her other shower stuff. To say the least I was thrilled. It was grabbed by one of the adults, perfumed, and handed back. I shook it a little to disperse the cloud of perfume surrounding it, before donning my damp uniform. Now we were being told we had been called, and rushed off to the finals. 

That was probably our team's best game ever. Never before have I seen us all playing so well, defending the corners, blocking, spiking, and faking. Our two teams were so evenly matched that the first game went all the way to 31. We wanted to win 2-0, since we knew from the difficulty of the initial set that we would be too tired to play a third well. My only regrets of the match were the two serves I missed, trying to make them more difficult. (and failing to do so miserably) Once again, it was a close match, 26-25. I am pretty sure the Caddette girls were the only group to be so evenly matched, and thus we had the largest group of spectators.

While we were playing our Minim gals won. (If I remember correctly they finished their whole match during our first set) Thus they were there when we finaly won. The whole Eben Ezer crowd (mostly consisting of yelling girls) rejoiced. Somebody came up to me and asked me to come sign something. I protested that I wasn't the captain (who usually goes and signs something after each match) but was assured that they wanted a player to sign.

I was led off (thoroughly confused) to one of the little tables for the score keepers. A pen was handed to me at the unoccupied desk, and I was told to sign my name, category, and zone where my team was from. They (rightfully) think I have horrid handwriting, since I couldn't keep my hand from trembling. Apparently I still had too much adrenaline from the game, since my hand was shaking uncontrollably. When I returned, both Eben Ezer teams had disappeared. I ran into another lone Caddette, and before we could find the rest of the troupe, we were directed to the supper line.