It means "writings." I write things.

3:44 PM

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Posted by Brad Polley |

Except my jet plane, in this instance, is a 2002 Honda Civic. I'm off on family vacation all next week, so I'll continue my Haiti journal posts when I return. May God's blessings go with you throughout the next week.

8:48 AM

Haiti - Day 5

Posted by Brad Polley |

The highlight of the trip, so far, occured at 4 a.m. this morning. We attended a prayer meeting in the village in someone's home. This Sunday, the group will celebrate 20 years of meeting 5 mornings a week. Five mornings a week for 20 years! That's crazy. Anyway, it was beautiful beyond words. As they prayed aloud, I didn't know what they were saying, and yet in some way I knew exactly what they were saying. They would pray and then they would break out in song, whose only musical accompaniment was a rooster across the street who was begging us to know that the sunrise was close at hand. We had a translator who would translate the parts of the serice that pertained to us. The Haitians took time to thank us for leaving our families to come and help their country. Then they prayed for God to bless us and for a safe journey back to the States. As they sang again, I found tears running down my face. How can they pray for us? The poor Haitians praying tat God would bless the spoiled Americans. I couldn't help but cry at how gracious they are to us, when we honestly don't deserve their grace. But, after all, I guess that's the nature of grace, you can't earn it. If you could, it wouldn't be grace, it would be a salary. One of the Haitian men named Gaston (great name by the way) stood and said, "We thank God for his grace and love. To wake up each day is a grace." I wish I could say that I see each day as a grace, but I would be a liar. God, help me to have a more Haitian way of viewing you and your gifts. Throughout the whole service all I could think was that we may be far wealthier than they are, but they're far richer.

I will never, as long as I live, forget this morning. I saw God's Kingdom appear like a pearl in the mud. I saw hope growing in the midst of a hopeless land. I saw what it meant to follow Christ and to be a part of his Church.

Later in the day we worked in the clothing pantry. It was total chaos. Each kid that came in was supposed to leave with two shirts, two pairs of pants, and a new pair of shoes. The problem was that there weren't enough pairs pants to go around. The reason for this is that Americans don't think before they donate anything, they just want it out of their house. What does this lead to? A room full of pants with a 40 or 42 inch waist that literally no one in the country of Haiti could possibly wear. This is so typical of Americans. We have too much stuff, we just want to get rid of it, so we dump it on someone else, not even thinking about whether it can actually be used or not. I actually saw fur-lined boots, sweaters, and winter coats. We're in the freaking Caribbean. It was a rough day, and I'm not sure there was anyone on my team that wasn't in tears at some point, including me.

I've come to the conclusion that we really don't have a grasp on what reality really is. I think of the problems I deal with at home, and suddenly they don't seem like that big of a deal. Reality is holding a three year old who has had malaria for three weeks. Reality is not knowing whether she will live or die as she puts her head on your shoulder and then looks at you through bloodshot eyes, silently begging for your help. As I clasped her to my chest, all I could think was that this doesn't have to happen. It doesn't have to be this way, this is a preventable disease.

God, show me where I can help. Give me the courage and the ability to change the world, one person at a time.

9:16 AM

Haiti - Day 4

Posted by Brad Polley |

Today was much less strenuous, but we got a lot accomplished anyway. My group put bookshelves together and set up a library for the school here. It felt great knowing that the kids will now have a place to sit and read.

In the afternoon we spent time helping a guy from Georgia who came on the trip with us. He has come up with a new formula of ingredients to add to peanut butter as a supplement for children's nutrition. This formula is healthier and more cost-effective than current similar formulas. By adding vegetable oil, powdered sugar, powdered vitamins, and whey protein, he can give kids here the nutrition they need. He's here to conduct a research project on it for eight weeks to see if it improves the health of some of the kids in the village. If it does work, he will find a way to mass produce it, and ship it to develpoing countries to combat starvation. We helped him mix the ingredients in and he let us taste some of it. It's incredibly tasty, but not exactly a good idea unless you want giant love handles. Helping him today made me realize that my generation really can end world hunger in our lifetime. I heard a guy from an organization called "Kids Against Hunger" say today, "Jesus said, The poor you will always have with you,' but he never said, 'The starving you will always have with you.'" I had never thought of it that way before. World hunger is so simple to stop, if Americans would just stop using 80% of the world's resources to get fatter and richer. All God asks for is equal distribution of what he has created. When I get home, I will be doing what I can to do my part to distribute everything more equally.

10:48 AM

Haiti - Day 3

Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm beyond exhausted. My crew was responsible for working on building the house today. We worked alongside Haitian masons. Not "masons" like the bloodthirsty American cult (for any Masons reading this, just kidding...sort of), but more of the brick-laying variety. They did the lion's share of the block-laying, but we were able to do some. We mostly hauled mortar (read: really thick and heavy concrete), and cinder blocks (read: heavier than mortar buckets). I estimated that I carried 400 or more cinder blocks in a five hour span. I also was able to hand-sift a mountain of coral sand which is a component of the mortar, which the Haitians hand-mix. The Haitian workers are machines. If I had a construction business, I would hire these guys in a second. Long story short, we got all four walls put up in one day, not a bad day's work.

The thing I noticed about Haitian buildings is that they choose function and practicality over beauty. This house will withstand a hurricane when it is finished. My house is beautiful, but a hurricane (or tornado, seeing as how I live in Indiana) would reduce my house to something less than rubble. There's the difference. In America, we build for beauty, in Haiti they build for function and strength. I'm beginning to see that it might just make more sense toi build the Haitian way.

I'm starting to adjust to the insane climate. Sweating has become normal, so it doesn't bug me like it did when we arrived. Same can be said for the heat.

I was challenged by the American guy who runs the Mission to try a Haitan pepper. They just call it "pepper" and it's about the size of half an Ibuprofen tablet. I like hot stuff, but anyone who does will tell you that the smaller the pepper is, the hotter it will be. I thought about saving myself the trouble and just going ahead and eating it while sitting on the toilet, but I decided to take a chance. Holy crap, this thing was hot. Ten minutes of pain and increased sweating. I nicknamed it "Satan's Tylenol."

Anyway, I'm calling it a night, I'm wiped out.

9:43 AM

Haiti - Day 2

Posted by Brad Polley |

Haitian children are beautiful. We were working today at building a house for a family who lost theirs in the last hurricane and we drew a crowd, as a group of "blancs" tend to do. I felt a bit like a fish in an aquarium ("Don't tap the glass, whitey gets scared.") The crowd consisted mostly of children and teenagers. The kids crave attention. They will come up and just touch your skin, as if the lack of pigment somehow feels different. They'll hold your hand, and if you put your arm around them, they snuggle up to you. It feels so good to give them the physical contact that they are starving for.

We then took a tour of Grand Goave, the village where the mission resides. It's more of a town than a village. It's ver poor, like the rest of Haiti. The people are so friendly and so polite. Every once in awhile, you would a child's voice shriek, "Blanc, blanc ("white" in Creole if you haven't figured that out yet), photo." We took a lot of pictures and then showed them the digital picture. The loved it. They just giggled and giggled.

Tonight I had the privilege of preaching at a Haitian church in the small village of Jeaty. Their worship was amazing. It was a very surreal experience to be preaching in a dark hut, lit by one kerosene lantern. As I preached, I could hear the people saying, "Oui (yes)." I think it's the Haitian way of saying, "Preach it brotha!" They were very gracious and kind. Worshipping in a strange place and with people you don't know really gives you a sense of how universal God's Kingdom really is. I feel blessed to be a part of it.

8:47 AM

Haiti - Day 1

Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm back, and as promised, will be sharing my journal with you from the trip. Thanks for your prayers for the trip, it was amazing.

I guess this place is everything I expected and nothing like I expected. I expected poverty, but what I saw was hopeless destitution. I expected everything to be a little different than the States, but what I got was complete chaos. The streets of Port-au-prince are hard to describe. Two to three million people, trash everywhere, guys just peeing in the street, people all over the place selling the same crap, and hoping against all hope that someone will buy enough for them to eat that night, taxis called "Tap-Taps" loaded with people and blaring music. It was like some crazy, impoverished street carnival that never ends, and always smells of garbage and sour milk.

So, the drivers are crazy as well. There are no stop lights, no stop signs (did I mention that there are between two and three million people in this city?), no road markers, and no rhyme or reason to the driving pattern. The only general rule seemed to be that the person with the biggest vehicle and/or loudest horn wins. To drive here, you have to be half-skilled and half bat-crap insane. We saw a cop giving someone a ticket. I had to laugh. What in the world do you have to do to get a ticket in this chaos? Kill someone? Drive while sober?

Shortly after we arrived at the Lifeline Christian Mission compound in Grand Goave (by the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ), we unloaded a huge 45 foot long shipping container full of supplies. It was good, hard work and we got to work with some of the Haitian staff here at the compound. I worked with one man named Juvel. We were hauling lumber together and he worked my butt off! We were hauling it about 40 yards and he kept hurrying me back to get more. When we were done, we talked with each other a little (very little considering his English sucks and my Creole is worse). He asked me if I had a baby, and when I told him "Yes", he said, "Very good, good job." I thought that was funny. Anyway, I'm wrecked already from a long day of traveling and work, and because I've been sweating since we got off the plane.

10:30 AM

Hey kids

Posted by Brad Polley |

Clever title to the post huh? I couldn't think of anything else. Anyway, it seems like it's been awhile since I rapped at you (only 6 days or so, but it seems like longer), so I thought I would give the skinny (I have so much street cred, look at the clever use of slang) on what's going on in my life.

Almost a week from the minute that I typed this, I will be landing in Haiti. I'm very excited about the trip, though it will be hard to be away from my wife and child for that long, especially with no chance of talking to them until I arrive back in the states. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere doesn't have a fully functioning phone system? I can't even believe it. Man, Jesus, when you called me to go and do your work, couldn't you have called me to a more convenient place? Geez. Just kidding.

I'm over the flying thing. Hard to believe after reading my last post, but I've pretty much decided that I have no control over the whole deal anyway, so whatever. I'm just going to have a Vet shoot me up with about 100 CCs of Horse Tranquilizer before the trip, that should be adequate.

I'll probably post again before I leave this next Sunday. After that, it will be awhile.