Archive | September, 2013

Friday, Sept. 27, 2013

28 Sep

Manny and I were both awake at 6:15 am and had the opportunity to go to morning mass again. Father Andrew says 6:30 am mass at the Sisters of Charity (yes, that is Mother Theresa’s order) several times a week. These Sisters run the orphanage that we spoke of earlier. The mornings here in Haiti are the coolest part of the day and when Port Au Prince is less congested so one can see more than the car  in front of them. It was a pleasure to ride over to orphanage with Father Andrew and start the day in this calmer way. The Sisters here are from India, but also a few from France, Africa and other parts of the world. Their official langage is English, not Creole, so the mass is spoken in English. Nice since my Creole has not expanded beyond 10 words!
After breakfast, we relaxed here at the rectory before heading out to enjoy a day at Wahoo Beach. We mentioned yesterday that the beach was close by but not really. It was a two and a half hour drive out to the bay as there was an accident which stopped traffic completely. We in fact had to turn around and go on the only other road to the bay. This was an amazing feet in and of itself as driving here in Haiti has very loose rules. For instance if you don’t like the speed of the car in front of you one just beeps their horn and pulls out into the oncoming lane of traffic. Somehow all three vehilces miss each other but how the vehicles on the edges of the road stay out of the ditches, I do not know! Remember that your image of an American road does not have any semblance to a road in Haiti. Truly by God’s Grace do we arrive safely at the Wahoo Beach resort. The water was Caribbean blue and crystal clear certainly not like any body water we saw this week here in the city.

image

image

image

We swam, relaxed and ate until 4:30 when we headed back to the city. No accident along the road this time so we made it back to Port Au Prince around 6:15pm. Traffic was heavy and we had the running of the bulls in action on the streets. That really is true although they were really cows! But they did take over the road!  Tired and hot, we got water and showered as soon as we got back the the rectory.
After another fabulous dinner, to say nothing of all the outstanding food prepared for us all week by the cooks here at the rectory, we had some lively conversation!  Each night, except for the night we partied to celebrate Father Terry’s (the priest from Our Lady of Mount Caramel in Doylestown) birthday, we had an evening prayer with reflection on the day. Tonight, we each shared about how the week reflects the Bible passage of:
“I am the vine and you are branches”  For me I always have a difficult time expressing myself clearly. While I did say something to this effect, I wanted to write down here what was on my heart. Just like a branch has many parts, the outside bark and the internal fibers so to are we as individuals comprised of  physical, emotional and spiritual components. This week, I  felt my physical component of fatigue from helping in the pharmacy compounded by the heat and not sleeping well grow weak. My emotional component also suffered and grew thin as each day I saw a new, more serious degree of  physical hardship of  which the people of Haiti live in. My branch may well have collapsed had it not been for the spiritual fiber which entwined the ever thinner physical and emontional fibers. This spiritual fiber grew thicker each day, as our team reached out in oneness to each other and in unity to the people of Haiti.  My branch, while initially seeming to be in danger, grew thicker so that it can now grow further to spread out to these people of Haiti.  I also realized today, that I no longer which to use the term a third world country. The Haitian people are not from another, some distant, freakish world but are God’s people who are resilient, strong and put forth extraordinary efforts each day to survive.  As my head hits the pillow tonight, I will say the prayer which started mass this past Sunday; “Should they cry out to me in any distress, I will hear them and I will be their Lord forever.”  I know the Lord is hearing the Haitians cry of distress and asking me and maybe  you also to be His hands and feet to His people in their time of need.

Good Night.

Thursday September 26, 2013

27 Sep

Hello All,

Today we was our last day in the clinic. The last two days were very busy and there was not much time for pictures or writing.  Manny was not feeling so well on Wednesday and had to sit the day out, but today he was back in operation. It was an amazing week to see all that can be accomplished by a team lead by God and working together. The mission treated close to 750 people some waiting all day in the sun to get in. Today was particularly busy due to the fact that it was the last day.

Tomorrow we will relax at a beach about a mile away, before we head for home on Saturday.

Love to All,

Marsha and Manny

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

25 Sep

Another warm sunny day in Haiti. We started the day with Mass at 6:30 am with Fr Andrew at a nearby orphanage and school run by the Sisters of Charity. This is not a typical orphanage in that mothers may place their children here because that cannot provide for them, but they will come in to care for and feed their children and then leave as they do not take their child home.

After breakfast we headed over to the clinic. The day in the clinic was similar to yesterday except that it was womens day and so there were also a lot of young children and babies. I’d say the number of people seen was about the same as yesterday and Marsha and I are getting the hang of the pharmacy. We did not get much opportunity for pictures today, but we’ll try to do better with that tomorrow.

God Bless,

Manny and Marsha

Monday September 23, 2013

24 Sep

Today was our first day in the clinic. In total the team saw 130+ patients. The people waited very patiently in the hot weather some for 11 hours to get in and seen by a doctor. The operation of the clinic went very smoothly which is much to the credit of the team from OLMC parish and Fr Andrew and his team of Haitians working in the clinic. Overall the clinic experience was awesome and the pictures below say it best.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013

23 Sep

A restful sleep last night rejuvenated us when we arose for mass. The time on our cell phones relayed 6 am but actually in Haiti it was 7am. Many of us here had the same curious error. Nevertheless, we all made it in time for our pick up ride to church which started at 7:30. It was my first real view of Port Au Prince as yesterday in the psychedelic bus my view was more like a keyhole with partial glimpses. I had the front seat next to the driver so I had a full on view. A few roads are paved but even then the juncture of two roads is with a sharp ditch. Many of the streets are not paved at all with trash, old tires, and stone haphazardly strewn throughout the supposed driving lane. I use the word lane loosely as one has to drive wherever there is a relatively safe area to drive through. Also this drive was with many of our group sitting in the back open part of the pick up. I must emphasize how safely and skillfully our driver negotiated us through this maze.  The view out in the distance is gorgeous and breathtaking with the mountains and valleys and such a dichotomy with the cars alongside of the road in various stages of abandonment, usually without tires which are extraordinarily expensive. Father Andrew relays he only buys 2 at a time. The small homes are of concrete for the fortunate and for others a makeshift roof suspended by 4 makeshift poles. Square footage is a luxury and almost difficult for one to comprhend without seeing. On the way to mass, there is only one tent area left from the earhquake. I was told that there are a few others but most people have moved to other living arrangements.

The church buildiing for St Judes parish was not damaged in the quake, but it has been under construction for many years due to limited funds. Currently Mass is said in the basement of the building and the first floor which is to be the main church area has the roof under construction. The Mass was very lively with lots of music. Amidst the living conditions outside, the people come to Mass dressed inthere finest clothes and would put most Americans to shame. After this eye openning view on the way to church, Marsha and I were struck by the openning prayer for todays Mass.

I am the salvation of the people says the Lord. Should they cry to me in any distress, I will hear them, and I will be their Lord forever.

After Mass we lingered for a bit and talked with several of the parishioners who welcomed us with much joy. Manny and a few others from our group walked back to the parish house and stopped along the way to visit with one family. The family was very open to have us strangers in his home and told us repeatedly that this was our home in Haiti. It was a simple concrete contrustion home rebuilt after the earthquake and nicer than most in the area. Lighting in the home was very limited and the rooms were dark. I noticed wires hanging from the ceiling with hopes of a light bulb in the future. They also were working on a roof top garden to grow some food, but this seems to be difficult here but to the hot weather. They were very proud of their home and their family and also asked about our familys back home.

The following are some pictures of the church, the people, and neighborhood aroind the church.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

This afternoon we spent time in the clinic setting up the pharmacy where Marsha and I will be working. The challenge for us (especially Manny) is , learning the pharmacy lingo. At 7:00 pm we had dinner at the parish house followed by evening prayer and Fr Andrew telling the story of his experience in the earthquake.  This was a very remarkable story which I will summarize another time, but is best heard in person.

It is now late and time to get ready for our first day in the clinic. Please keep us in your prayers that we can serve well tomorrow and bring some comfort the people we meet.

God Bless,
Manny and Marsha

Semptmber 21, 2013

21 Sep

Today we traveled to Haiti for the start of our medical mission. We are traveling with three others from St Norberts, Steve Ryan and Helen and John Lazono as well as 9 others from Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Doylestown, PA. We left home at 4:00 am and arrived in Haiti at 1:00 pm via JFK airport.

Many bags full of medicines and vitamins at check in at JFK:

image

We arrived safely in Haiti and and all the Haitians on the plane clapped for the safe landing. Interesting , this once a day flight from JFK is generally full. Outside the airport we  were greeted by friendly faces from St Judes parish and our hosts of the medical mission.

image

image

We were transported in the very colorful bus above to St Judes parish. It was a very rough ride up hill on a nearly non-existent road which was more pot hole that road. Again we arrived safely at the parish compound to unload, enjoy a tasty lunch and relax in the outdoor courtyard. It was good to use this relaxing time to get to know everyone here at the parish and on the mission.

image

image

The black tanks in the background in the above picture are the parish water supply tanks installed by the parish priest, Fr Andrew.

The weather is warm here, but some afternoon showers have kept the heat down. Tomorrow we will set up the clinic which will operate from Monday thru Thursday.

God Bless

September 20, 2013

20 Sep

Tomorrow Marsha and Manny will be traveling to Haiti to volunteer for one week at a medical clinic. This clinic is currently supported three times a year by three teams from Catholic Churches in Doylestown, PA and Orefield, PA. Our home parish, St Norberts, church is planning to become a third parish to support this medical clinic so that the people in Haiti will have medical access four times a year. Marsha, Manny and three others from St Norberts will be traveling with the team from Doylestown for the next week to learn how the clinic is operated and in the future lead teams from St Norbert’s parish.

We travel tomorrow to Haiti and will return next Saturday (9/28/13). Dependent on the availability of internet access we will make posts each day to update our friends and family on our experience at the clinic. Marsha and I are looking forward to a fruitful week and we ask your prayers for the success of the mission.

God Bless

Manny and Marsha

 

 

Labor Day, Sept. 2, 2013

2 Sep

Happy Labor Day everyone!
Since we last wrote we were in Illinois.  Manny realized that when we would be driving through Indiana, we would be crossing paths on the interstates with Ronnie and Wayne, his sister and her husband, as they were driving to Florida. Sure enough our driving times matched up, so we joined together at a Cheesecake Factory for dinner. Wonderful to see family and a great mall walk after dinner to get some exercise!
  We headed onto Dayton, Ohio to participate in the Midwest Tandem Rally. We arrived early on Wednesday evening, August 28th. The event started on Friday so we were able to enjoy an extra day of cycling on our own. Dayton has 365 miles of paved bike trails. Great system which does have great route choices. Our cycling day took us to Fort Ancient a 25 mile trip east.This area has earthenworks from 5 to 20 ft high.It has been researched that this was never a fort but a native settlement of the Hopewell people from 100 BC to 500 AD. At that time, the Hopewell peoples left and the area was not inhabited to the best of anyone’s knowledge until 1200 AD by the Mound people, which was a native clan of which very little is known.  The ride back to our hotel was fine but certainly humid. That evening we went to see a movie, Closed Circuit, since we had plenty of time.

Friday morning, we toured the Wright Patterson Air Force Museum which is located adjacent to the Air Force Base here. The museum was amazing and extensive. It started with the history of flying with air balloons to the Wright Brothers to the establishment of the Air Force. The museum then went on for 3 more very large plane hanger bases covering each war. Certainly very well done but you could spend a year there looking and reading everything. After 4 hours we were planed out! Perfect timing as our new friends, Anne and Kent from Fort  Wayne, IN gave us a call to head out for the ice cream ride and enjoy dinner. Both accomplished with good conversation catching up on news since we last met while on Candisc, our North Dakota bike ride.

Saturday morning was the official first ride of the Midwest tandem rally with about 350 tandem teams assembling in Wright University’s stadium parking lot to begin in a mass start. Great riding for 70 miles but hot and humid. We welcomed our refreshing showers and rest till we headed out for mass at St. Luke’s parish. On the way back to the hotel, we found City Barbecue which turned out to be delightful!  Back to the hotel for socializing with the otherr tandem riders and then some relaxation before a well deserved rest.

Sunday dawned less humid and off we went on the day’s 65 mile ride. We happened to be in the front of the pack which started out at  a quick pace and never thinned out till the first rest stop 15 miles later. Another gorgeous day of riding! The dinner banquet was made so much nicer as Anne and Kent had saved us seats at their “Hoosier ” table. Great friends, good conversation and good food-always a winning combination for a fun evening!

We joined up again with Anne and Kent for a 20 mile breakfast ride today before saying good-bye till next year’s Midwest Tandem rally which is in Fort Wayne. Anne and Kent are the co -chairs for 2014 so we certainly expect to attend to reconnect with them as well as enjoy our 2nd Midwest Tandem Rally!!

This brings us to the conclusion of our blog as we are now driving thru the Allegheny Mountain tunnel on the PA turnpike.  We will most likelly sleep in our own home tonight!
Some stats before I end this blog. We travelled 14,500 miles by car and 3,500 by bike.  So about 25% of the trip completed on the tandem. Our max speed on the tandem was 43.5 mph on the Candisc ride on a downhill with most likely a tailwind. Our slowest was a portion of the Kings Ridge road, a 17 % grade  near the Pacific coast, and a close second on the way up to Cedar Breaks in Utah at 3 to 4 mph. We had 5 flat tires, 2 broken chains, and 1 broken spoke. All in all the bike did great. Our car, with 183, 500 miles,  with three oil changes, 1 new headlight, and a variety of repairs ,all at one time taken care of in Albuquerque, is chugging along fine also. No accidents nor injures sustained by bike or by car! Our lowest elevation was 190 ft. Below sea level in Death Valley and our highest at 10, 600  ft, achieved on bicycle no less, at Cedar Breaks, Utah.  We visited 31 states, made many new friends, enjoyed countless amazing views and had  5 months to celebrate this time together with the man whom I married 34 years ago and love all the more today!

Blessings to all!

Love,
M&M