Moving In Day 1

Yesterday (This was actually Thursday, but to go along with everything else, my internet stopped working Thursday morning!) was move-in day! It was a very crazy day, but the kids are in their new home and we are one step closer to having our rental house ready for when Jess and Sophie come down. I told a friend of mine that yesterday was probably the 3rd busiest day of my life, I just don’t remember what the first 2 busiest days were. Here was my day yesterday:

The first thing I did was have all 6 of our new security guards come over and sign contracts at Hope Rising. There is a story behind this too, but I am saving that for a blog that will be coming either tomorrow or the next day. The truth is that it is fun to see someone sign a contract for work that is so hard to come by down here and the security guards we hired were all highly recommended by people that we know and trust down here so we are confident that they will do a great job.

While I was waiting for the security guards to come and sign their contracts the house moms were cleaning, packing, and getting ready for the move. They were excited about getting to the new house and making it ready for the kids. While they were doing that, Lener went and got a “boss” who was coming to build the outdoor kitchen for Marjorie and Gisele. They went, looked at the place where the kitchen would be located, and came back with a very reasonable price of what they would need to build it. While they were on their way back, Lener stopped by and picked up 2 of his friends to help us move (I asked him to and told him we would pay them for helping) to make things easier and to have someone always riding in the back of the trucks making sure things did not fall out…Unfortunately one of the movers actually fell out of the truck on our very first trip! I am not sure if that is ironic or not, but I am sure that when he fell out so did 2 of our shelves, 2 of our washing basins, and one of our kids’ suitcases. Most everything, including the guy who fell out were ok! In fact, Lener and the other guy just laughed and laughed when they found out that he fell and kept making fun of him. Apparently, in Haiti, it is funny to say that a person is a lot stronger after taking a fall like that because they would say it and then all start laughing (clearly I am missing something in translation here).

At this point, Lener went with the guy to purchase supplies and me, Lener’s 2 friends, Jeff (another of our employees who I found out just today that he can drive), and the house moms started making trips back and forth from Hope Rising to the new home. After a while, I started looking around to make sure we were ready to move in, and 2 things were really standing in our way at this point:

  1. The kids’ house did not yet have a hand pump installed that could give them water.
  2. We did not have our beds yet.

Granted, these are both pretty big problems, but I was confident we could handle them. So at 12:00, some guys we know from Christianville came over on their lunch break to try and install a hand pump at the kids’ house. I, in the meantime, had to go pick up lunch for everyone so I just told them that this was very important and that we really needed water at this house because the boys were moving in soon. They said ok, and then I went to go pickup the food. While I was leaving, Lener called me and asked where he should take the kids when he picked them up, Hope Rising or the new place. That was a great question, but just to make things easier we took them back to Hope Rising so we would have time to do some more work at the houses.

Now, I was on my way to pickup lunch and got out to the main road when I realized that I had forgotten my wallet and did not have any money on me. So, of course, I made the 10 minute drive over a rocky road back to the house to pickup my wallet and drove back. While I was driving, I called Exode who was the guy who was putting our beds together. He said they would all be ready by 5, I told him that we needed them sooner (he initially said this past Saturday), he said some of them were ready now, I said ok we will start sending someone to pick them up soon. This was about 1:00. So after Lener went and picked up the kids from school at 1:00 and then 2:00 (they get out at different times) he went and picked up the first couple of beds. They looked great and I was pleased with the purchase.

So I took another trip back to Hope Rising, passed out lunch to our workers, and checked on the kids. They were all ready to go to the new houses so I told them to let me go back over one more time and make sure everything was good. When I got there, I noticed the beds were still outside so I asked Chinaider to help me move them in…

The beds did not fit through the door of the house or the bedroom doors!

After all that we went through, I forgot to measure to see if the beds would get into the house. They would if they were single beds because you can maneuver them back and forth, but as bunk beds they did not fit! This was possibly the most irritating thing that could have possibly happened, or at least I thought. Because not only did we have the problem that the beds did not fit, but also every new person who came by felt the need to tell me that the beds could not enter through the doors. I promise you that at least 12 people took the time to come and tell me that and every time I just got more and more annoyed.

So, here we were. The kids were about to come, we did not have water at the boys’ house, the beds did not fit through the doors, and to top it off everyone had this compulsion to just keep telling me that the beds did not fit. So I called Jess and told her that I don’t know how people do this, I just can’t figure out how people handle these types of situations. Her reply was, “You mean when you have to move your 19 children into a home very quickly so that you can get back home to finalize the adoption of your baby daughter while not know how you will get water, electricity, and many other important things to the houses.” So, when she put it that way, I realized I was not supposed to know how to handle everything, but I did need to take it one step at a time.

My step one was to call the plumbers. They told me they would be back there at 4, but the PVC pipe was not long enough to reach the water and that they would have to rig something temporary until they could get the supplies to make it better. So I told them to please try and get the water there by tonight so the boys could bathe and Marjorie could cook with it. They said they would do their best which instilled very little confidence in me but it was my only option.

My second step was to call the welder who built our beds and ask him if he could help us make it work. I told him the beds were too big and that we would have to cut them and then put them back together with a bolt. The welder actually had the nerve to tell me that he did not have a saw that would cut iron! Think about that. A welder, who makes his living welding, and who speaks enough English for us both to know that he understood what I was saying, actually told me that he did not have a saw that could cut iron. Now, I’m no welder, but even I know that is just ludicrous. That would mean that he would have to buy a perfectly cut-to-size piece of iron for every job he has ever done. The welder ended up calling me back and handling the problem the next day, but I was not very happy at the initial reaction.

So, taking it one step at a time, so far, had not yielded very good results. We still did not have water and we still had beds that could not get into the house. So I called another friend of mine, Sauveir, who has helped us on numerous occasions in Haiti and I cannot think of a time that I have called him and he did not have a solution for me. So I told him the situation about the beds, he called a friend of his, and his friend is coming tomorrow to fix them and make them where they can either be bunk beds or single beds (this friend of Sauveir’s actually ended up helping me in a much different way the next day). At the same time, I was arriving back to the boys’ house and THEY HAD WATER! Things were looking up. The kids would have to sleep on their mattresses on the floor for one night, but they were good with that and so was I.

So, now it was time to eat and the kids sat down to eat while I kept trying to figure out, with Lener, how to get everything in place for us to get through the night until we could do some problem solving the next day. I paid the movers, I paid the “boss,” I met with our last security guard so he could sign his contract, I had a quick meeting with an electrician who may help us install solar panels, and then I went back in to check on the kids. I looked around and the kids were all drinking these little sacks of water that you can by all around Haiti and it struck me as strange but I did not think about it again. After they finished eating, we all met to go over the schedule for that night and for the following morning and I told them what we would be doing and that it would not be much different than what they are used to, I passed out their flashlights, and I told them it was time to go to their houses. When we were about to be dismissed, Gina reminded me that we did not have drinking water! In all that was going on, I had forgotten that we had not yet tested either wells to know if they were ok to drink, and that was why all of the kids were drinking water out of the little sacks.

So, I called Lener, asked him to grab a couple of 5 gallon containers (which are easier to find here than you may think) and fill them up at the Christianville well so that the kids would have water to drink. Then I taught them how to fill the toilets back up with water out of a bucket when they flush, I talked to the new security guard and made sure he was ok, found toilet paper for the boys, walked the girls back to their house, did service with the boys (they are doing service separately some nights), and then got in my car to drive home.

The funny thing is, that when I got home, but day was not yet over.  Apparently, at his school, Apolon told all of his professors that I knew how to bake a cake.  Well, there was a school party on Friday and, wouldn’t you know it, I was chosen to bake the cake for his class.  Can you imagine how that went down?  Apolon probably raised his hand when they were talking about it and said something like, “My big blan (or American) knows how to bake, he will do it.”  So, when I arrived home, I baked a cake (which if you know me you know is not my thing), waited for it to cool, iced it, and then finally went to bed.

I know that this was a long blog, but it was a MUCH longer day! Please pray as we troubleshoot and begin to make plans to make the houses even better!  Stay tuned for day 2 because it was even longer.


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