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Thank God for the guy, girl and Gues
Written by thillman   
Thursday, November 15, 2012 2:13 PM

I returned from Haiti just over two weeks ago.

Every time I go, it's different ...from where to check in at CVG to where to stay in Miami and when to return.

The biggest difference this time was my wife Linn (Beverly Hillman to all who know her for her nursing and work with hospice) went for the first time.

It was the first October trip, which turned out to be hot and humid. We had been there in May for graduation but other visitors said this was hotter. There were evening thunderstorms, perhaps an unknown sign of what was to come a week later with Hurricane Sandy.

Dr. Stephen Arnow has been to Haiti on various occasions and comforted my wife beforehand by saying, you're going during hurricane season?

There hadn't been a lot of storms this summer and there was more concern that American Airlines might cancel some flights and no thoughts of a hurricane.

This trip's mission was to celebrate the dedication of a new church building. Personally, my wife was finally getting to go.

Before ever getting to Haiti, we flew to Miami, rented a car to West Palm Beach to visit three Haitian students whose father promised to kill all spiders in Haiti so my wife would visit.

The stop included a trip for my wife to see the ocean for the first time. She had been on the senior trip to D.C. and New York with the band but never to Florida.

Prayer is always a big part of any trip and prayers by church members are always assured. However, this trip had others praying for us also. A male flight attendant prayed for our daughter on the flight to Haiti when he inquired if anybody had arthritis. She has lupus. 

After a tour of Port au Prince by our driver Nadar, we stopped to eat at a restaurant and a girl named Weslea (who was traveling with a group from South America) talked with us and prayed for our travels.

John Niehaus of Aurora picked us up at the airport and loaded our luggage into the truck and took us down the runway. Yes, a first. He was able to park inside the gate area and then we drove a short distance on the dirt runway before turning to connect to the main road back to Sonlight.

The next experience was our hotel room which had an air conditioner that must have been on a different circuit. 

The electric was off at the hotel from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. but our A/C stayed on longer in the morning and was back on by 2 p.m.

Yet another different but good experience. However, there are three things that I can be most thankful for (after thanking God for a safe and healthy trip).

The first would be “the guy.”

We made a visit to the home of Phebee, our ninth grade sponsored child.

It had rained and we had done walking to prepare for Haiti but no Haiti walking- from rock to rock in puddles.

As we turned onto the street (not paved) and came upon water, it was too far to stretch, so I found a rock to add to the water and provide a needed step. But as I dropped it down, a passing Haitian girl got splashed. I quickly got a wet wipe (not a wet wife) to help her clean up.

Still a need to navigate, we went one way then looked for another as Haitians tried to point the way.

Finally, “the guy” (a Haitian sitting on a nearby porch) came to offer my wife his hand and assistance to make the way safe and dry. Once around the water, it was two houses and we had arrived.

My wife, her two replaced knees and pinned ankle now was set to meet “the Gues.”

They have electricity when they can afford gasoline for their generator. When they saw my wife was red-faced, they went to get some gasoline to light up the kitchen and plug in a fan to cool her off.

After one full day, we had gotten one visit out of the way before any additional rain that might have hampered future visits. We took a shortcut back that was not as wet, except it had continued to rain.

Now it was time to prepare for the dedication. After a three hour church service, there was a three hour dedication followed by serving of over two dozen sheet cakes (frosted by Linn and Charlene Fancher and decorated by Crista Guyer, eldest daughter of Sonlight founders Roger and Norma Alexander).

Jon Weece was dedication speaker which was translated by Amber (Alexander) Pierre who also translated for her brother Scott and father Roger during the service.

One different thing with the service and dedication was visitors, teachers, singing groups and dignitaries had special seating. It was much better when mingling and singing with the Haitians.

I had to sit in front row to pick up a plaque given to the Rising Sun Church of Christ for efforts in the building

I wasn't comfortable having to go forward, and not at the best camera angle, but then came “the girl.”

Jhovany, a third grade student at Sonlight Academy, sat with my wife then invited her to her class (where she went on Monday to help her with plurals).

My wife had one assignment (other than stay healthy) ... pass out four handbags I took. Jiovanni got one with treats. Another went to Phebee's mom (Island) while one went to a Haitian aide and the other to a kitchen helper.

Before you knew it, it was time to get ready to head back home but not before a trip to Sarah's home. Our daughter Brooke is her sponsor. Her older sister, Marie Christie, is sponsored by Becky Smith and Charlene's daughter Karen Lovern.

The third child in the family is Bena, a second grader who I picked on in class when I read a Tap-Tap story and did my traditional Butterfly dance. When we returned to the states, I learned that Bena's sponsor Angelahad died. She had been there many times and I remember her helping teach in the classroom when I was there a few years ago.

It's hard to get back into the hustle of American life after being on Haitian time for a week. Since returning, time has changed back an hour, an election has taken place and high school basketball is ready to go full tilt.

With Thanksgiving coming next week, there truly is a reason to say thank you God.