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Updates and Endearments

August 15, 2011

I often write about things that happen here, my struggles and my victories, only to never mention them again.  It has come to my attention that some of you from time to time wonder, “What ever happened?”  So I am going to update you on a number of things.

Driving here has become second nature to me.  I hardly notice the chaos anymore; it is what it is.  The apparent disregard for life on the roads still troubles me.  I have noticed of late that I have begun to take on the characteristics of a Haitian driver; I have become far more aggressive, somewhat less courteous.  Those here often talk about driving while back in Canada or the US, and how they scare the life out of everyone else.  “I’ve had enough of waiting for traffic to move.  Hmmm…. There’s only a couple of people on the sidewalk.  Why not?”

I can now handle Haitian money without thinking about it too much.  The conversions so often necessary take little effort.  But I have hardly begun to learn the value of things here.  I thought I would be a real mark in the market, paying far more for things than they are worth.  But today I surprised myself.  “Ten dollars?!  Madame, I am white, but I am not a fool!  (It sounds better in Creole and brought a gale of laughter from all within earshot.)  I ended up paying three dollars Haitian (37¢) for my pile of piman bouk, the tasty little Haitian hot peppers I have come to love.

Barb’s little street church in MacDonald has become my spiritual home.  Although there is little meat for me there, there is much love.  I usually spend the service with a pile of children on my lap, and there is a point in the service at which I dispense hugs to all who wish, children and adults alike.  I pray individually for the needs of our people, and even though they understand nothing of what I pray, they continue to come to me.  I do however look forward to church in Canada where I can worship with others in English.

The speculation about a resurgence of cholera has so far proved baseless.  Other than the outbreak in the mountains a few weeks ago, I have heard nothing.  I pray I will not.

The mosquitoes seem to have lost their taste for me.  I am seldom bothered and even when I am, it I do not develop the purple welts I did when I first arrived.

Junior, the young man with the growth on his jaw, is awaiting his surgery.  The cost of the operation has been paid and money is set aside for his hospitalization and incidental expenses.

My English class has grown.  Tonight there were eight participants.  Olivier continues to be Olivier.  His hunger to learn English has not waned.  But he can be difficult to deal with at times as he bases our friendship on what he can get.  Satisfied that the English lessons will continue, he has shifted that focus to things.  Knowing that I will be making a trip to Canada, he presented me with a rather long shopping list.  When I made it clear I was not going to return with a suitcase full of goodies for him, he responded with dismay asking, “Aren’t you my friend?”  When I answered that most certainly I was, he turned to, “You are not my friend,”  to which I responded, “Okay.  If that’s the way you want it.”  His family and friends find our spirited exchanges amusing and they love it when I come up with a good riposte.  On the walk home from his home, making sure that none of the others with us overheard, he quietly assured me that he still was my friend.

Jean Hilaire and I have significantly deepened our relationship while Barb has been away.  I have come to recognize that he is a very wise young man.  I enjoy his company and we spend quite a bit of time together, often talking extensively about any number of things.  I always am amazed that we are able to make ourselves understood.   He is always ready to do anything with me, and delights in being my guide to the richness of Saint Marc.

My Creole continues to improve and conversation has become more comfortable.  Being with John Hilaire without being able to look to Barb for assistance has helped greatly.  He gently corrects my grammar and patiently works with me until I find the words I need to discuss some to the weighty ideas we explore.   Spending time with Olivier and his family has been a great help as well.  They are content with my efforts and the conversation seldom pauses.  I was stopped in a police check yesterday and surprised myself by understanding precisely what the officer was asking of me and being able to reply without any stumbling or hesitation.  He understood me perfectly and I was on my way.

Progress on my Permis has stalled.  I will bring back more documents on my return from Canada that I hope will restart the process.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

As I have said again and again, Haiti suits me.  I like the pace of life here.  I like that people always have time for each other.  I like that no matter how many times I visit a person’s home I am treated as an honored guest.  I like that strangers greet me warmly even if we are just passing.  I like that my Haitian friends hug me and I like the traditional greeting of a kiss on the cheek for ladies I know.

I love the beauty of this tropic island.  I like the verdant lushness of the mountains.  I love the ever-changing blues of the Caribbean.  I love the sound of the surf.  I love the peace I find here.

I love walking in the darkness with only the moon to light my way.   I love the warm star-strewn night sky.  I like that the rain is warm and gentle on my skin.  I like that it almost never rains until late afternoon.  I love that I could almost reach up and grab hold of the lightning.

I like being able to wear shorts and a T-shirt most of the time.  I like that I never need socks.  I like that I can go barefoot.

I like being able to get great food for very little money, so long as I eat local fare.   I like that I have been introduced to so many new foods, and that I still have so many to try.  I love the flavour of tropical fruit.  I like the hustle and bustle of the markets and the diversity of products for sale.

I love the richness and ingenuity of degaje, making do.  I love the freedom of being able to live with little.  I love trusting God for my needs.

I love that people here often sing.  I like that they are playful and boisterous.  I love that humor is always a part of conversation and that they laugh a lot.  I am delighted that I am learning to do the same.  I like that anything, and I mean anything, is considered an appropriate topic of conversation.  I love that children are trusting and loving.

I love that Bondye, Good God, is a normal and frequent part of conversation everywhere.  I like that His name and references to Him are everywhere – on the tap taps and the publik (buses), in the names of businesses and schools and clinics.  I like Haitian corporate prayer, everyone praying their personal prayers aloud simultaneously.   I love that He has drawn me closer to Him here.  I love that He constantly opens doors for me to share His love.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

God knew who He was creating, and He designed me for a specific work…..

…. God will ensure my success in accordance with His plan, not mine.

— from Crazy Love by Francis Chen

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