Here is what I wrote in my journal on Day 2, which was Good Friday (April 2nd).
Today we took a 4 hour tap-tap ride to go from the main mission in St. Louis du Nord to the orphanage out near Beau Champ. It is only about a 26 mile trip but it takes 4 hours due to the road conditions and the fact that we had to cross through a river. That water in the river came about half way up the side of the truck.
When we got to Beau Champ it was market day and the whole place was filled with people. It was really difficult to pass through town, because off all the booths set up to sell things and the streets were flooded with people. At one point the truck was surrounded by a Rara band and they were waving machetes, blowing a horn, waving machetes, banging a drum, waving machetes, dancing, and did I mention waving machetes. It was a pretty scary moment. However, this Rara band didn’t seem as creepy as the one we encountered the day before.
Eventually we made it through and then we had to traverse down “the hill”, as everyone called it. It was quite a hill and I am pleased to say that we made it. Although coming back from the orphanage and going up “the hill” was fun as well. The truck ties even spun a little bit because it was pretty difficult to keep traction.
It was so much fun at the orphanage! The kids just flocked to us! At one point some of the kids were fighting over me and yelling at each other “My blan!” I had about 6 kids surrounding me as we walked over to the church building at the orphanage. Two were holding my hands and the other four were hanging onto my shorts and/or shirt. It was so funny.
When we got into the church building the kids started entertaining us by singing songs. I tried to get some video of it but as soon as I started doing that some of the kids that were around me started hamming it up for the camera and then wanting to watch themselves. They became more thrilled with the camera then singing the songs. They were so cute and it was a lot of fun just sitting there watching them.
As we were heading back to the orphanage from the church building one of the guys on our team, Paul, was talking with his sponsor child, Junior, who was about the same age as the one I sponsor and asked him if he knew Ti-Frane. The boy said yes and Paul told him that I was his sponsor, so Junior took off running to go get him. He brought him ou to me and it was neat to meet him. Unfortunately, Ti-Frane does not speak very much English so Junior translated for us. He seemed a little shy about meeting me but I told him that we would be back the next day and that I would have some stuff for him. Paul took a picture of the two of us. (I haven’t gotten it from him yet and that is why I don’t have it posted here.)
After that we started talking about our plans for what we were going to do the next day when we would install the solar panels. The ladies were planning on doing some games, face painting, etc. with the kids so that way the guys could get the panels up without the kids hanging all over us. We had our game plan so we started unloading the tap-tap with the bags that carried the solar panels, tools and the stuff to entertain the kids.
We then headed back to the mission at Beau Champ to set up our tents on the roof of the house there. Before laying down to sleep Dan, Rick and myself spent some time looking up at the stars. It was really amazing and reminded me of one of the times when we did that at summer camp in northern Michigan. It was so beautiful! What a great end to a great day.