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Olivia Millwood's Haiti Mission ~ First Days

We're honored welcome Olivia Millwood to GoGirlfriend to share her recent trip to Haiti. Olivia traveled to Haiti on a mission and this is her second post on GoGirlfriend. Thank you, Olivia, for all you do to make this world a better place and for sharing your experiences with GoGirlfriend.

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How Haiti changes you...

Olivia Millwood ~ Being in HaitiOlivia Millwood ~ Being in HaitiI have to admit, writing this second post scares me. There are so many wonderful experiences from my trip that narrowing it down to a condensed blog post seems overwhelming. I hope to share the best of it, to give you a taste of a mission trip to Haiti. If you haven't done so, please enjoy my first post - Planning for Haiti.

Before I left for Haiti, I began a #Hope4Haiti2012 journal. I learned after the first couple of days to always be ready for inspiration...

Day 1 ~ Sunday December 16, 2012

Day 1: "The drive through the city (if you can call it that) was wild. I saw things that you only see on those awful feed the hungry commercials on TV. It's difficult to put into words what I saw. Devastation, filth, poverty, poor, dirty... This must be how Jesus saw the earth when He arrived..."

I go on to describe other feelings..."Good and bad run on the same track and so the good that I've found here is meeting some of Pastor's family, the girls Belinda and Nelan are so sweet and had fun looking at the pictures on my iPhone with me."

Looking back, I remember feeling small and afraid and out of place that very first night. I didn't sleep that well. I couldn't get comfortable and my mind was extremely full with everything that had happened in just one day of traveling to get to Haiti.

I was probably the most afraid at the airport when we landed. Getting to our luggage and the baggage claim was an event, but we all managed to stay together. Thankfully all our bags were there and accounted for so we all grabbed them and headed for the door.

Learning a new culture - fast

Where I live now, Georgia, politeness is king. Even at the Atlanta airport, as big as it is, most people obey the rules of being polite and wait their turn etc... But in Haiti, it's very different. I found out very quickly that it's everyone for themselves. Grab it and get out of the way is the best thing to do.

Before leaving the airport, your papers and information are thoroughly checked but there's no order to the line. There are a couple of guards and a roped off line before you can exit, but everyone is piled in one place and it's the first and fastest and biggest who get through the line first. Or if you're well known by the officials in the airport, you're somehow ushered through.

At any rate here I am 5' 1" and used to practicing the rules of letting others go ahead and being polite... All of a sudden, my family and crew are nowhere to be seen and I'm in the midst of a crowd of people pushing and shoving to get to the exit. The guards must have read through my little official entry paper two or three times before letting me pass.

Getting lost - and found

When I emerged, there were so many men waiting to grab my bag and carry it for me. Thankfully I spotted Pastor Olistin's face just as a man took my bag - even though I'd said no three times. I pointed toward the Pastor and he walked me there - and then demanded payment.

Olivia & her parents with Pastor Olistin's nephew, Eduardson.Olivia & her parents with Pastor Olistin's nephew, Eduardson.

From the moment I was in Pastor Olistin's care, I was no longer afraid. He has a strength and peace about him that immediately calmed me. We all got to the van and loaded our bags and Pastor Olistin drove us to his home in Croix-Des-Bouquets Haiti, which is very close to Port Au Prince.

The traffic is another frightening adventure. The roads are mostly unpaved and filled with potholes You can't ride with your eyes closed though because you end up being car sick. Motorcycles ride along the side of you on both sides, yes even in the middle. In America we have two solid yellow lines - but they turn that into another lane. And passing another vehicle is like playing chicken.

My journal entry continues that night after we returned from our first day..."We saw the city from the Pastor's roof all lit up. The power comes on every so often. Moving around in the darkness is tricky. The fan came on finally so maybe I can get some sleep now."

Day 2 ~ Monday December 17, 2012

"Woke up before the sun, the roosters crowing all over the island, one next door and a chorus somewhere in the distance. I'm sitting here on the front porch where it is the coolest spot in the house."

I started my 2nd day with a devotional on the front porch before the sun was up. It was cool in the morning, maybe about 70F. The verse I found in the Bible was pretty neat because I had just been wandering around in the dark that morning trying to find a place to journal and have my quiet time. The verse is from Luke 1:78. Our trip was the week before Christmas time so studying the story of the birth of Jesus was what my devotional was about. "All this will be because the mercy of our God is very tender and heaven's dawn is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness, and death's shadow, and to guide us to the path of peace."

Counting my blessings

Rooftop view from Pastor Olistin's houseRooftop view from Pastor Olistin's houseWe were blessed in Haiti with better conditions to stay in than we had been prepared for. We all had beds to sleep on - we were told we might have to camp out. There was a shower and running water and a bathroom in our area. Our room was kept locked while we were out of the house so that we could leave anything we wanted out in our room. I remember wondering what that first day out meeting people in Haiti would be like. I was excited and couldn't wait to meet the kids, but the rest of it all I was pretty unsure of.

My first morning there without my own pot of coffee to make was hard. I'm a creature of habit when it comes to my morning coffee routine. I stumble out of bed and make my way to the coffee pot and everyone in my house knows not to speak to me until I've had a couple of sips of java.

I didn't purchase an international plan on my phone service before I left so I was unable to connect to the internet, Facebook, email or twitter most of the trip. We found Wi-Fi one time at a resort we visited and you would have thought my friend Erin and I were so giddy. I remember tweeting out a few words to my friends hoping it would go through so everyone in the Wonderful Wide World would know I was there and that we were safe.

In my next post, I'll share more of my experiences at the orphanage and how those events changed my world. My first post shares the joys and struggles of planning for my mission to Haiti - please enjoy!

Nelan and Belinda, Pastor Olistin's niecesNelan and Belinda, Pastor Olistin's niecesNelan and Belinda, Pastor Olistin's nieces kept us company on the front porch where it was cool. We had flash lights as our only light source. They told us Pastor had to go and get gasoline for the generator so we could have power. In Haiti the power is coming back, but in sections at a time. Pastor Olistin told us that sometimes at 11:00 pm the power comes on in their section. So we plugged in our phones and waited for the fans to come on to be able to fall asleep. It was the dry season and cooler than in some months when we were there in December. But it was still hot for us coming from 50F temps back home. By the 2nd day I had adjusted to the heat and was thinking how I didn't want to return to winter once we got back.

Andrew, Olivia’s brother on Pastor Olistin’s rooftopAndrew, Olivia’s brother on Pastor Olistin’s rooftopI loved the palm trees and picking coconuts in his yard. My brother asked Joycelin if we could have one so they cut us down one and soon my brother had half the coconut for me to try and eat. The roof was a place our team went to think, meet, pray and enjoy the breeze and the view of the island. You can see almost all the way to the ocean, and you can see the mountains and the city from the Pastor's rooftop.


I took this picture, trying to find the rooster that crowed all night long. The first night I think there were at least 5 roosters crowing from midnight every hour until sunrise. Most First glimpse of the orphanageFirst glimpse of the orphanagerooster's wake you up with the sun, not crow all night. I am a lover of animals of all kinds... However, while those roosters crowed as I tried to get rest and sleep I had unloving thoughts for those creatures to put it nicely. 

Almost all of the homes are made out of concrete block like you see here. Except in the tent city. People literally are living in tents. Lined up as far as you can see. In the middle of the city where I'm sure buildings must have been at one time. My dad told me that after Hurricane Andrew they build the tent cities and after the disasters that have continued to happen that they haven't been able to recover or build new or move away from the tent cities.

About Olivia Millwood

Olivia Millwood ~ helping to build an orphanageOlivia Millwood ~ helping to build an orphanageInterior Design Consultant and Social Media Manager for Niche by Design in Marietta, GA | web operative with TrustWorkz.com web presence management for your local business | singing, dancing, theater, baseball mom, wife, friend , daughter, sister and love my whole family. #ChirpWdstck tweetup creator & host. Social Media fanatic and Twitter loyalist.

Follow Haiti Orphans on Twitter: @HaitiOrphanHelp

Like us on Facebook: Help 4 Haiti 

Read my blog: Swaygrl.com

Donate online: CrowdRise.com

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