How would you better Haiti if you had 40,000 white body bags left over and at your disposal? This is my predicament and I am willing to consider all answer no matter how ridiculous....
 
We have pulled and tightened the Hoop Barn so getting close to finishing the 4th biggest thing I've ever built. It will store all the medical supplies for the MOH Clinic and is located next to the Patient Ward.
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We’ve moved from PMH (Presbyterian Mission to Haiti) with Charles to MOH (Mission of Hope). The orphanage we helped build and operate is now fully run by Haitians. Charles and PMH will manage a steady and self sufficient orphanage. We still plan to attend church at PMH every Sunday and spend the afternoon with the kids. Our goal coming to Haiti was to work with orphans and we feel God continues to lead and transform the kids in our orphanage. With that being said, the earthquake changed everything.

Never, since the revolution, has Haiti been so fertile for change. The world is focused on Haiti and wanting to help. We want to come along side people we believe are continuing to evoke change post earthquake. Since arriving in Haiti, we have taken our sick orphans to the MOH clinic and befriended many of the staff here. MOH is a giant organization comprised of a school, a church, an orphanage (59 boys and girls), a warehouse, and a hospital. They partner with Convoy of Hope (COH has shipped 90+ containers to MOH since the earthquake with relief supplies) and Haiti One (HO distributed 15,000 meals a day all over Haiti prior to the earthquake and since has concentrated on emergency relief while maintaining their daily meals). Before the earthquake, the clinic here was about to shut down because of funding. Yet, in the silver lining of the earthquake, God has provided exponentially for the clinic. They now have the only sterile operating room in Haiti, so all surgical needs from PAP come here. Last week, they opened a prosthetic lab. MOH is constructing new buildings to bring in 150 more orphans. New guest houses, new gymnasium, new supply barns.

Since arriving, Jay and I have been building a hoop barn to store the mountains of medical supplies finally arriving in containers after the earthquake. Diana has been working in the clinic organizing and filing patient reports. As for what our fixed roles might be one day, we are working with the MOH President and they range from construction manager to team host to clinic assistant.

Several observations and facts since arriving:

MOH is fencing in the whole 58 acre property. A man from Texas who owns a fence company is present and working on it with his team. His company is the same company that was awarded the contract to build the fence along the Mexico/US border. His top two fence foremen, both Mexicans, got deported from America while working on the Mexico/US fence and are now here in Haiti at MOH working on our fence. Nice guys, though.

Dr. Cheryl is a chiropractor and a life saver. I fell on my back Super Bowl Sunday onto concrete. I’m not blaming anybody (Toby Landry) or their educational background (LSU graduate) but since then my upper back has hurt every time I attempt to take a deep breath. Dr. Cheryl checked me out and said one of my ribs shifted and needed to be popped back into place. She said it was tough to do and there was a chance I could fracture my rib in the process of putting it back in its rightful place. I shifted into a bizarre self hug contorted position and then she proceeded to push and BAM, I heard it snap back into place. Been breathing deep ever since.

I am sleeping in a tent now. Fitting because it seems everyone in Haiti is doing that these days.

Michelle Obama was planning on sleeping at MOH last night. I was excited because I was going to ask her to cut my hair. She got caught up in PAP and couldn’t make it. So I cut my own hair instead.
 
Yesterday, in 1985, I was born. So was Hans Christian Anderson. We both like stories. I like his stories, a lot. You might have heard some of them: “Thumbelina”, “The Snow Queen”, “The Ugly Duckling”, “The Little Mermaid”, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, and “the Princess and the Pea”. You should read these as he originally wrote them. They read graphic, phantasmal and slightly scary. Like 300, for kids. Here’s my birthday story.

During the night of April 1st, something amazing happened. Silence descended upon my room. In Haiti, I cannot stress how big of a deal this is. So in this quiet time, I began to detox. I was physically wiped out from continuously walking for two hours, back and forth about 70 yards, with 100 pound bean sacks on my back with 10 other guys en route to transport all 20 tons of the beans from a truck to a storage room for future food distributions. Unwilling to move, I picked up a pen and started writing. Without initially realizing it, I began to express all my joys, frustrations and fears collected from my last year of life. Writing, pausing, praying, getting distracted, refocusing, and writing. I finished this “letter to God” with a strong sense of unity. I felt alive and connected, with myself and God.

Someone brought a DVD player and projector down after the earthquake. I am not sure how high those things were on Urgent Needs List for Haiti but trust me, I’m very thankful it’s here. Jay and I watched Gladiator. Maximus is a man, period. I’d like to steal some of his traits. Thus after finishing the movie, I was in bed, awake and amped. That connectedness became present again. I grabbed my pod (iPod, yeah, I’m cool, I abbreviated iPod to pod) laying there tired but very awake praising God and jamming. I just kept getting more and more amped listening and praising.  At one point, I was standing upon my bed silently (it was very late) screaming and singing with my heart pumping pure Spirit adrenaline. I knew the enemy was trying to attack; random thoughts, images and cramps became present to try and interrupt or calm this growing intensity of love beaming through me to God… albeit to no avail. I eventually fell back onto my bed face up, arms wide, laughing to myself with warm sensations washing over me again and againI woke up refreshed. Then someone reminded me it was my birthday.

So beginning my 26th year of life and celebrating 25 of them, I went on a walk. I walked with the filmers here on a path and direction I have never been. It was beautiful. Lots of kids and kites. Lots. And we walked through some super slum areas. Not the friendliest people. So we walked a little bit faster. Found Stavi(I’ve linked his facebook profile if you’d like to befriend him) then saw way too many people bathing then finally returned. It was a long walk.

We ate lunch then decided we were gunna visit the rum factory down the street. We walked down and waited for Marcus to arrive to give us a tour.  While waiting, Stavi thought he saw a snake so he was throwing rocks at this over arching tree stump on the steep face of the riverside embankment making half scared half curious faces that literally had me and Jay side by side looking at each other to make sure the other was seeing the same thing. It was nice to laugh. Then we decided to wait inside the rum factory compound. I saw Makinglove (yeah, that’s pronounced like its spelled) and put together that his dad was the security man there. Makinglove was flying his kite, like most kids here are doing these days, inside this compound and then suddenly yelled over the wall and rushed off tying his unattended high flying kite to a bus. Once he was out of sight, I stood up and untied it from the bus and began letting go higher and higher. It has been a long time since I tried to fly a kite. This was evident because several times under my amateur guidance the kite nosedived, plummeting to earth at space speeds. Right when I was getting the hang of it, Makinglove came back and wanted his kite. Geez, fine… kids, right?

Marcus finally came and took us on a tour, let us taste unfiltered mega fermented “moonshine” rum out of 55 gallon barrels. Still having trouble tasting anything. Then for 12 dollars when bought 24 bottles (50 cents a bottle) of Clairin Sonson Pierre-Gilles’s Kafe di Swa, the finest rum made in Messaille, Haiti. Then we went home, ate, changed, and went to Good Friday service. We walked in while a cute little girl was singing solo upfront with the microphone. I think the song was called, not sure if this is a direct translation but, “Ima Scream til Your Ears Bleed”. I didn’t like it.

After church, some people wanted to take their picture with me because it was my birthday. So I did karate poses with them for their phone cameras. Diana made me a cake, it was decorated with bananas, lollipops and gummy bear vitamins- . We all got to sit down and eat it together in celebration. And just like my 8th birthday, I had too much coke and cake and sugar crashed shortly after that. 
 
Conversation between Diana and Chandler, one of our orphans.

Diana
: If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?


Chandler: Port- Au- Prince

Diana: What would you do there?!

Chandler (eyes getting really big): Ride in a helicopter with Jeremy!

Diana: Can I come too?!

Chandler: No... just me and Jeremy

 
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Food Distribution from our church
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Our first movie night- Tom AND Jerry (circa 1940's thus many Uncle Sam "I want YOU" secret references)
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A small orphanage built by the boys to provide shelter to this newly born chick and his brother...
 
It's interesting to rediscover common threads of our humanity. Take music for example. If I were to examine every human, I know I would discover that each of us connects with particular sound waves that drive certain emotions. Music makes us feel.

I went to an Arcade Fire concert once. I hope to have the opportunity to go again because to this day, it was the closest I’ve ever felt to God through music. They consist of about 9 musicians who pump out sounds as full as an orchestra. Slowly, masterfully building songs, the musicians will occasionally step up to the microphone to join the lead singer and chant. Not just any chant either, I could visually see each and every one of them pulling out of their depths an emotion so strongly connected with the song it sent chills down my spine. Since I was already well acquainted with their songs I, in return, tilted my head back looking towards the rafters and sang/screamed as loud as I could in the chorus of 6,000 other people. You know when you hit a note and actually harmonize (doesn’t happen very often with me so I love when it happens) with a lot of people? It feels as if your voice just latched onto a sound train steamrolling by and you get to ride it as long as you have air in your lungs. This is the rib vibrating ecstasy I was experiencing. And there, right then, something happened. I felt like I went primal, tribal even.

Over and over for the rest of the concert, I united with something so much more than myself, something that for thousands of years people of every tribe and nation finds connection with: the Japanese with taiko drumming, the aborigines with the didgeridoo, the Celtic people with their bagpipes, mountain folk with banjos, and now me through shouts and screams barely distinguishable over the mounting wall of orchestral sound in the amphitheatre. Now this was music, this mattered. I was alive. Like fire burning through me alive. The whole time I was praising God with thanksgiving. I was just so thankful to be there, in that moment, connected to something. The whole world seemed to disappear and there was just me and God and music.

This brings me too yesterday. A bunch of women in the village gathered right outside our house and started singing at 8am and didn’t stop til about 11:30am. It seemed like they warmed up until they found the rhythm of the heart beat. And once they did, they sang, hummed, and clapped with alternating inflictions and intensities. I began to feel these poetic sounds penetrate my skin and connect with my soul. So, I went outside and sat on the tower and felt the cool breeze bring their song and chant right through me. I looked down to see shirtless men in rolled up jeans and hoses working the field to the rhythm of the claps of the women. Again, here I was connected with something that was beyond me.

Even in the deep brokenness of Haiti, these vibrant parades of melodies seem, even for a moment, to drown out the cries of hopelessness. I understand praising God can do that, for everyone, even the most hopeless, even me. The louder they sing, the faster they clap, the closer I feel to Heaven. What will a chorus of angels sound like? It’s all a beautiful reminder that I am a soul confined to this temporary skin on loan for my earthbound days yet God finds me where I am, trapped and desperate, giving me glimpses of music, glimpses of meaning, glimpses of hope that foreshadow the day I return home.
 

Haiti is different. Arriving yesterday felt like arriving for the first time in a new place. Sure, I can always expect the staples- a mob of people outside the airport, wobbly wheels on the large trucks ahead of us, and trash everywhere. Yet many things caught me off guard, starting with the people walking onto our plane.
 
An eclectic bunch, our plane sat everyone and my eyes were drawn to several things: men dressed head to toe in extreme khaki on khaki cargo safari gear, elderly Haitians that obviously were new to the whole riding in planes  experience due to their complete misinterpretation of the “fasten your seatbelt and remain seated” sign to meanwander about freely whenever wherever," white teenage girls with braided hair and giant white pillow in hand seemingly heading to a sleepover, and to be sure- many a fanny pack outwardly flaunted around the waist. It makes me kinda wonder if I know what I’m getting myself into either…

We arrived at PAP to be taken by bus to a new hanger for immigration. The airport itself has seemingly traded its plethora of planes lining the runway six weeks ago for large organized military tent villages stationed on the grassy knolls between the runway and airport. There is no customary belt anymore in this international airport to display our luggage in a calm orderly fashion, only men taking luggage off the carts quickly pulling up and throwing it through small half doors greeted by other men who then place the luggage in the middle of a mob of people hunting for their belongings. 

We’re lucky; we find all our bags and are one of the first out the front door of the airport. We find Charles waiting with his blue truck. The white man with him sitting shotgun tells us of his plans to build a food market for Charles supplied by farm lands he wants to buy near the border of the DR. As exciting as that sounded, I couldn’t help but to zone out taken aback by the tents in PAP. From the time we leave the airport to the time we reach our campus, I am stunned by the overwhelming number of tents I see. From these miniature house-like US military tents to the rows and rows of sheets and sticks, it looks like everyone lives in a tent. My initial marvel of the ingenuity and survival practices of the Haitian people soon turns to concern.

Hurricane season is fast approaching.

Before we know it, Jay, Diana and I are home. Before crossing the bridge to enter through the gate, women come out and greet Diana. They instantly notice her short haircut with faces glowingof approval. They tell Jay he looks bigger. We enter and begin to see our old friends. Many ask, “Where’s Zach?” to which I reply that he is engaged and with his fiancé. This response usually induces the same physical reaction from Haitian women who are married. It begins with raising both hands to either side of the face followed immediately with a downward clapping of the hands into resting position on the hips with elbows out like chicken wings. The head is then flung forward with mouth agape followed closely by excited laughter. I can’t blame them; I basically did the same thing when I found out too.

I see the boys and they see me. I instantly here them start singing, “Jer-ra-me, Jer-ra-meeeEEEE”, over and over. How could I not love these boys? Love begets love and they love me well. 

I move into my old room, without a roommate for the first time. It looks the same but feels different. In the 6 weeks since I have been gone, one new addition particularly brightens my bare white walls. 
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A poster of a unicorn running out of the crashing waves onto the beach with a shell laden necklace under a haze of twinkling stars. 

I rest in my bed. It’s hot… but not that bad. I’m back in Haiti and just like that, the rollercoaster I was on that began as abruptly as the earth moved two months ago has ended. Still, as wild as it was, I am acutely aware that moving back here to Haiti is like stepping off one rollercoaster and right back on to another.

Buckle up.
 
We are moving back to Haiti on Friday. I, we, have been on a long winding road for the past 2 months. Its been a confusing, frustrating, exciting and ultimately- a clarifying road. I am also excited to start updating about Haiti again when I get back down there.

Recently, Jay, Diana and I went to California to look at Grad schools. It was incredibly refreshing. Here is a video I made of our trip:
 
Many of our friends have come together to make art and jewelry for Haiti Relief funds.  Please check it out-100% of what you spend will go directly towards our orphanage and relief efforts.  


http://www.etsy.com/shop/lespwa


All of the pictures used are kids that live in our village or our orphanage...

We also have another ETSY site for those of you who didn't know about it before.. our friend Whitney started it after coming to Haiti in December and seeing the desperate need there even before the earthquake.. she is selling lots of authentic vintage clothes.  Here's a note from her website: "Please continue to buy from our section titled "HAITI"- 100% of the money you SPEND on these items will be sent to the Haitian orphanage, allocated towards earthquake relief."  


http://www.etsy.com/shop/otherpeoplesproperty


we've already sold quite a bit, but are in the process of making much more too!  also, if you'd like to participate in the making of the art or real anything for that matter, please email diana at dianalcherry@gmail.com