"Parish the Thought" Blog
- Written by Don Kavanaugh
Friday, Sept 19
Well the days continue to be hot and very humid. Oh for air-conditioning! Nancy was off to Mass before six o'clock with me coming down soon after. Still have to have a cup of Haitian coffee even though it is hot outside. Cathy came down around seven o'clock, right after Nancy returned from Mass, to get her and Gary coffee as well. Both returned from upstairs thirty minutes later.
Gary and I are off to St. Louis high school, me to check on the computers I was updating in classroom one and Gary to inventory supplies. The computers updated completely and now I can set everything in motion in classroom two. But first I must rectify the problems with the camera in CR1. Reseating the SD memory card for storing video and focusing the camera itself, all for Mr. Puckett. Glad that is done. Now on to CR2.
But first Cathy, Gary, and I are due to visit the new pastor of the Cathedral de St. Louis, Fr. (Monsignor) Emile Marc-Arthur. He is young, 47, and very eager to make our acquaintances. Seems Fr. Tony has told him a lot about us. The meeting went well. He seems to be a very humble man more interested in the plight of the poor than any of the material needs of the parish. We visited for about two hours and came away with a wish list for helping the poorest members of his new parish. One thing you need to know. Not only is he the new pastor, but second in command behind the Bishop. Quite impressive but it carries a lot of responsibility.
Well I'm headed back to the high school. CR2, with all of its computers, waiting to be updated, awaits. Gary and Cathy are off to another orphanage, this one run by the pastor where Francklyn goes to church. Seems she was given a water purifier, which happens to be just like the ones we use, and has no idea what to do with it. She also has a generator and several other pieces of equipment and would like our help in making use of it. Gary thinks for a couple hundred dollars he can give them clean water. No batteries or invertors to install, just some plumbing work.
On my way back to the high school I hear my name called out. It was Augustine, the French seminarian who was glad to see we had arrived safely in Jeremie. Seems he has been ill with some sort of intestinal problem and was returning from visiting a Cuban doctor. We chatted as we walked towards the high school. Very nice young man and I was pleased to see him again. He was a guest in my house for a week during the summer. As we parted ways he promised to have dinner with us once he got to feeling better.
OK, I'm back at the high school, back in CR1 to gather my things and head for CR2. I noticed that Nancy had been there painting the keys on the laptops so as to keep her returning students from cheating at typing by looking at the keys. I did not think much of it even though it was going to keep me from accomplishing one more task on each of the laptops so I closed the lid to my T4K laptop, gather it and a few other things up, locked the room and headed for CR2. Inside the classroom I sat my laptop down, plugged it and the router I was using in an available electrical outlet, then proceed to open the laptop up to begin working. As I placed my fingers on the keyboard, I noticed black smudges on the screen. Then I felt the sticky black paint under my fingers. What the $&@)(;/!? Yes, Nancy had also painted the keys on the laptop I carry around in my quest to update the one hundred plus laptops that Tek4Kids has placed in the various schools. I was not a happy camper and I'm ashamed to say my sailor cursing drew the attention of a few of the students who just happen to be passing CR2. I quickly shut the door, cursing ever more, to also discover that she had visited CR2 earlier and had painted the keys on all of the laptops. So, me with blacken fingers could do no work except to fiddle with the camera in the classroom as I had done with the one for David in CR1. (Dave here ...Don didn't tell you that he had put Micro SD cards in the cameras back in May ... almost! And then he asked me if his focusing helped ... had to remind him the Internet connection at the high school was down ... must be the heat!)
Packed up and headed for the house, cursing under my breath the entire ten minute walk. As I came inside, Gary asked how things were going. He got both barrels but then he and Cathy began laughing. Nancy popped her head over the second floor bannister to find out what all the commotion was about. Of course by then it was just funny and Nancy apologized over and over. Seems a student sat at the desk in the front of the classroom and she did not pay any attention to the yellow cable running from the laptop to the router. So all evening long we have been joking about it. No hard feelings. I will just have to remember how to type without looking at the keyboard. Tomorrow is another day!
- Written by Don Kavanaugh
Tuesday, Sept 16
Heat still overwhelming! Slept some. Thank goodness the nights are much cooler. Finally got up around 6:45 AM, first one up. (Don usually is first up) No electricity, no hot coffee. Even the propane tank is empty, so no boiling of water for green tea. Gary came down around 8:00 AM. We, actually he, made the decision to have BaBa and the guys come over this morning and attempt to resolve, once and for all, the electrical problems at the house. We ran the generator for a couple of hours last night, after replacing the batteries used to start it, and thought we had charged the batteries enough to last until morning. But the breaker kept tripping thus we ended up having no power through the night.
The guys are going to remove and clean all 16 golf cart batteries and then redo the area where they are housed. (... Dave here. I learned something new! Golf cart batteries (deep cycle) are used because they have thicker plates and can be recharged many times. They are used with inverters. Car batteries would not last but a few weeks.) The batteries were filthy and had to be part of the problem. Gary also replaced the breaker with a larger one so hopefully the breaker won't keep tripping.
We're waiting around (as of about 4:00 PM) for Boss Benice to finish the concrete work so we can put the batteries back and reconnect them. Hopefully all of this will help with the charging of the batteries when we have city power and/or run the generator.
I'm always amazed at how much we depend on electricity and wonder how anyone survives without it but then again our civilization survived without it for millennia.
- Written by Don Kavanaugh
Up and at ‘em by 6:00 AM. No one else up yet. A cup of coffee, suitcase in the hallway, email checked. Oh so quiet! Kind of peaceful. Well everyone else up. Nancy is in good mood. I would be too if all of her company was leaving and she could finally get the house to herself. Fr. Ernest is here and we are off to catch a private plane back to Port Au Prince. Jeff lands the plane precisely at 8:50 AM just as he said he would the night before. Love not having to take Tortug. No having the luggage gone through, answering questions, having luggage weighed to see if it is over weight. Just climbing into the plane right after it lands and off to catch our flight to the US.
Well Gary got me good. He went up to the counter to check on the flight and got bumped up to first class. I tried and only got my seat assignment changed to 18 seats closer to the front of the plan. We take off and they serve us a snack and a drink. Gary shows up at my seat to tell me of the meal he got and to give me a cookie. What a guy.
Landed in Miami. Got through immigration really quick. Got through security fairly quick to our amazement. Did not have to wait long for the flight to Charlotte. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, we took off 30 minutes late. Not sure we will make our flight out of Charlotte to Louisville.
Landed in Charlotte. Of course our next departure gate is all the way across the airport and the Charlotte airport is fairly large. So we take off for the gate in E terminal from B terminal. Flight is supposed to leave at 8:00 PM and it is now 7:45 PM. Don’t think we will make it. Got to E terminal and Gary flagged down a ride. We get to our gate, E28, and the door is closed. Seems we did not make if after all even though it is only 7:53 PM. The gentleman at the door says he can’t open it and we just look at each other. Then to our amazement the door opens and one of the stewardesses is standing there. Gary immediately asks if we can board. She looks at us, all three of us. We have been joined by one more person who was on the flight to Charlotte with us. To our amazement she agrees and tells us to run. We ran. So moral of the story is that against all odds, don’t give up. There is always hope.
Texted Dave before we took off that we had somehow made the flight. Would talk to him when we landed. Well an hour and a half later we land. David picks us up. We joke and laugh about the days events. It will be good to get home, take a shower and get into my own bed.
- Written by Don Kavanaugh
Monday, Sept. 15
Thankfully the day was uneventful. No one got a lot of sleep in anticipation of our trip back to Jeremie. Got up at 2:00 AM. Needed to be at Dave Puckett's house by 4:00 AM. Our flight to Miami is scheduled for 6:19 AM. Arrived at Dave's twenty minutes early, much to his amusement. At least it gave us a chance to sit down over a cup of coffee and go over some tasks I need to accomplish while in Jeremie. (Dave here - Don and I usually have several things WE want to accomplish and have to wrestle with Gary and HIS todo list!)
We then picked Kathy and Gary Boice up on the way to the airport. Gary limping as it seems he twisted is leg and foot the day before. (Dave here - What Don didn't say, was the Devil was telling me to call Gary and say "Don fell and twisted his ankle and can't go. Last time we did a prank call, we both broke before we could needle Gary very long.)
Flight to Miami went smoothly. Bumped in Nancy Hibbard on our way to the gate for our flight to Port Au Prince. I knew we would meet up with her at the gate, but it was a surprise to bump into her so soon. Flight to Port Au Prince is crowded as usual but otherwise uneventful also.
Ah, Port Au Prince. It is a sweltering 96 degrees today. Breezed through immigration and
customs. Seems they have a new policy in Ayaiti (Haiti). It now costs $10 a person to enter the country.
Met up with our driver, Lazzar, who drove us to the smaller airport where we would
board a plane for Jeremie. Tortug has gotten too expensive, what with charges for over
weight luggage, not to mention the fact that we would incur charges for a hotel and a meal,
so we now charter a plane and save money. Flight to Jeremie was great, scenery was
magnificent, flying about 6,000 feet above the ocean so you get to see everything.
Fr. Ernest picked us up and drove us to the house. Arrived at the house with little fanfare.
Got inside, greeted by Mia with her never ending smile, to find no electricity, no generator, no water (pump needed to pump well water to tanks on roof), no food other than what Mia provided for the evening meal. But still more than most Haitians have on a daily bases. With no electricity, hotter than blue blazes. Most of us decided to retire with the hope of getting some sleep in this sweltering heat.
- Written by Don Kavanaugh
May 22, 2014
Sleep did not come easy. The neighbors decided to run their generator until the wee hours of the morning. Still got up at 6:00 AM, drank a cup of coffee while figuring out what is left to do on this last day. I have a lot of labeling to do or Mr. Puckett will have my hide. But first, off to Marcel’s to fix the sink in his new bathroom. Now back to St. Louis to swap out the laptop I took the day before. Now, across the street to Jardin St. Louis for my labeling assignment. OK the word is out that I am some kind of computer wizard and can fix anything. One of the priests wants me to look at his personal laptop. I could probably set up a business and make a decent living just fixing computers.
Well labeling has to wait. It’s time to test out the water purification system for the first time. Gary is having fun testing the pressure by using a garden hose, squirting water at the kids making the scream with delight. He still is a kid at heart. Well everything seems to work except for the chlorinator. Gary is going to have to swap it out. Me, back to the residence one more time. Natcom is once again supposed to show up and I need to be there to configure the router if they actually get wiring run.
Well Natcom did show up and did run wire to the house. But I have been unable to get the NetGear router to sync up to the Internet. Natcom is coming back to bring us a different router. They once again show up, to my amazement, and we how have Internet access again.
The day has passed oh so quickly and things I had hoped to get done will have to wait until another trip. Dinner was excellent and now all I want is a shower before tackling some of the other things I need to do, like packing. Well shower will have to wait. It turns out the priest whose personal laptop needed looking after is none other than Fr. Luxo whom we really want in our good graces. He’s at the door and wanting me to take a look at his laptop. I do but it turns out to be a hardware problem that I cannot solve. He agrees for us to take it back with us to have it repaired and he will pick it up when he visits in July.
Well I’m packed. Things that need to go back are lying on the floor and sleep is calling. Tomorrow will be a day running through airports so I’m off to bed.