How’s your week holding up? Personally, my day didn’t go as expected – but that’s almost expected by now. Thankful that the iffy internet made a turn around before bed!
- Waking up: Today while I had my coffee I watched last Sunday’s sermon from home (and finally understood why people from my church were posting strange sounding statuses about ‘Eating more Jesus”… http://www.gracepickerington.org/sermons/he-said-what/wonder-bread-7-21-2013), then I worked on studying childlike faith for a study tomorrow night – humbling as there are always crevices to be found in my inner parts where I’ve tucked pride away. As I’m typing, reading, and listening to music I hear Samedy talking to me. He was over to measure windows and build screens for our top floor & I had given him a pastor’s laptop to check his e-mail. He looks up and says “Oh! I forgot! Today is my birthday!” (I paused what I was doing at this point.) “Samedy, you forgot today was your birthday?” “Oi! – (Samedy’s VERY expressive, this is complete with the high voice and big eyes) – Wi! Kent says….(and he read the English “Ha-pee Birf-day Samedy”)….Stephanie Pineda says….(and he read her wall comment as well)” Amanda and I laughed and looked at each other, we had to do something! Amanda asked Samedy to come by later and he was happy to agree. She asked to take a picture of him for his birthday and he said no! “Later. I need to go to the barber shop.” (Amanda: “Oh, of course, the birthday barber shop visit!” as we smile at each other) I shake my head and go back to working after singing Happy Birthday.
- I worked until a little before noon and decided to have an early lunch so I could get out for the day – can I get another AMEN for that fridge?
- I grab my bookbag & stick my kenips in the side pocket and head out to go visit a family with a mother I haven’t seen in a few weeks besides running into her in Cabaret. The family lives in Bercy, so I walked a road on the way that stopped by a house that Lougiani – one of my favorite little girls – lives. Lougiani is the granddaughter of the woman I was going to see (Madame Renfort) and used to live with her, but was bounced to a different family member in Bercy last month. She’s got a special tug on my heart. While her father lives in Port-au-Prince and her mother lives in the Dominican Republic, it’s pretty rare for her to see either one and she is actually scared of her dad (since he’s a stranger to her). She always lights up with a smile for me, and she’s grown from being reserved and nervous from me coming over to running from a distance before I even see her. This is all irrelevant, of course, because I was called over before getting to either home. It’s common for me to hear my name yelled and a lot of times, I just wave in response. But I stopped and thought one of the kids yelling it from the abandoned radio station could be Lougiani so I headed over. I honestly didn’t know any names of the kids or mothers at the station, but I recognized some faces and they definitely knew me so I followed and sat down as they grabbed my hand to lead me. I then proceeded to get my hair brushed for an hour as kids asked for my bag & played with my sunglasses and a mother asked me for money and showed me that her toddler had fallen. In the meantime, the kids have found my kenips and are climbing all over me (while I have hair blocking my eyes) asking for them. I try explaining that they’re for a friend and the kids listen, look at me, and repeat “Give me a kenip.” I eventually give in and explain I will share SOME and save the rest for my friend. While this happens, Madame Renfort and her son come over – hey, that worked out! – because the toddler’s mom had called him. A boy starts to try stealing my bag for the rest of the kenips while the girls keep dropping my hair to chase him, and I wonder what I’m doing as I just sigh and internally debate how much it really helps to have me show up sometimes. Between multiple debates about why I can’t give away the money in my bag that I brought for a tap-tap and kids coming and telling me they’re hungry and that kenips aren’t enough, I quickly started to operate from HIS patience and love. Then Lougiani shows up! (Like I said, it just works out sometimes!) We play and I end up just giving away all of the kenips with plans to buy more for Nadia, finally leaving when some guys come over and start the typical conversation starting with “Do you have kids?” and ending in “I love you”, with various questions about me finding a husband in Haiti in between. Before I left, I was happy to see that the girl that had been begging for food was called by her mother to come eat – she was being a regular kid and ‘testing’ me.
- After the radio station pavilion: I walked over to the road, running into Madame Renfort again, and stood waiting for a tap-tap with one of the girls from my English class asking about a new session starting soon. A tap-tap blasting rap stopped for us and I enjoyed the music and the energetic worker dancing as he jumped off at each stop while singing along and took money on the way to Cabaret….then got a talk from a man on the back of the tap-tap about how he wanted to see me and the dancing worker together. Oh man, one of those days.
- Market: I walk to the stand I promised to visit & sit with “Casino lady” as she braids the hair of a friend who sells beside her. We sit in the shade while kids come and stare at the blanc, then giggle and sprint when I greet them in Creole. After the hair is finished, I buy some pineapples and ask about the price of kenips…getting a giant bag for the price of a few bundles because she’s always generous with me. A neighboring stand has people sitting who decide to start talking to me and I make some new friends as (I’m not heartless, there are just a LOT of names to remember!) CL wraps up a melon that she wants to give me as a gift. I say my goodbyes to everyone, tell them I’ll see them Thursday (because they ask, and they want to know WHEN), and start walking to grab a moto. I stop first to visit my friend Baslais, a guy who has done construction for CPR-3 and speaks some English. He’s always got a big smile when we stop by and he believes I can’t visit market WITHOUT stopping. I sit and talk for a few minutes, he tells me to take someone’s money and give them 15 gourde back (“I’m teaching you how to sell. After this you can work for me.”), and he celebrates when I have my first successful ‘transaction’. We go through and talk about the prices of everything that he sells and he PROMISES me, “100 percent”, that he’ll be at church Sunday (100% is one of his favorite things to say. The Sunday promise is another favorite, we’re still working on him actually showing up.) He makes sure to grab a moto for me (“I work for CPR-3, I’m security, I take care of you!”) and I take off for Bercy.
- It’s not necessarily typical for me to just sit in market – the trips are hot, dirty, and exhausting! Many of them are done as fast as I can – but like I said, every day is different.
- As the moto turns into Bercy: I see Kellie playing cards outside of Richard(our neighbor)’s house. The moto stops there and as I give him money, he doesn’t have change. Haitian style, I ask Richard’s sister Jeanine for change as they have a stand outside their home. One of the little boys grabs the purse, gives me 25 gourde, and the moto takes off as I pull a pineapple out of my bag to give to Richard’s mom. I love his mom, and she reacts with a big smile and laughs that I brought her something. I sit with Kellie and do some translating (Kellie speaks a little less Creole and both her and the family have things to say to each other that they couldn’t before I was there) and then see Samedy pull up on a moto piled with his wife and all three daughters, dressed adorably to come visit. Amanda had made a cake and she called me in, I went upstairs to go celebrate with them. Shama, Samedy’s 3-year-old (4 in two days!), eventually started spinning around the dining room singing Happy Birthday after re-watching the video of us singing it on Jordan’s phone for the fifth time and we enjoyed pineapple and laughed about Samedy forgetting his own big day. Dadiye from Laborderie came in as Samedy left to say hi, sing some Celine Dion (if you think we butcher lyrics in America, try a country that doesn’t speak the same language) and tell me that I missed seeing the girls from Laborderie who came earlier. Mickens nicely escorted everyone out as we started to wind down for the night.
- After heating up some soup on the stove – thanks to a fridge to save it! – I unpacked my bag from market and grabbed a few handfuls of kenips. I walked past Richard’s house again, sharing some of the little sweet fruits, and made my way to Nadia’s house. Sharing kenips, I talked with Nadia, Jeslin, and Christella until the sun went down. God showed up as I had specifically asked him to – because I’m in the ‘comfortable’ trap. Here’s this family, clearly on my heart. Here’s the gospel, clearly needing to be shared. Here’s the relationship, clearly still being built but with so little talk about Jesus as I sit underneath vodou items. I’m here every day, in such a dark environment, it’s not like I’m walking up and preaching the Good News every day….or ever. But that’s the ultimate question: God, am I doing the right thing in building this relationship and trying to tread lightly? Or am I being selfish and enjoying being comfortable, refusing to sacrifice this relationship for the sake of eternal life for others? God, you gave me a spirit of BOLDNESS, so what’s the right way to be bold? I’ve felt convicted and had no real answers but to pray, so that’s what I did this morning….and then Christella started asking her own questions. Somehow it ended on if I see Jesus, can I say “Bonswa” – which led to “Do you talk to him?” – which led to “And does he respond?” – which went on to “I know I sound crazy, but I talk to him and yes, he DOES respond, I just hear it in my heart.”…I honestly talked about how of course I sound crazy, but I mean every word as I say that I hear Him. I related it to the fact of how I am in Haiti right now, and I saw the girls actually listening. And they asked me to pray out loud, in English. So, I did. And somehow, Nadia also opened up about “white magic” for a few comments. He’s working, even in my own weakness of having no clue what to do, or if I’m doing it right. Thank you God, for being right beside us when you send us out. Eventually the kenips ran out, the sun was way past sleeping, and Christella walked me home.
- Walking in…: And then I hear this “thump, thump, thump….” and I turn around to Kiki jumping up to me! This kid is 2 and a half and was scared of white people the month before we moved in. I picked him up and he nestled his head into my shoulder to cuddle as I asked him about his day. I walked back over to Richard’s house, “Look what I found…”, as his family told me he was looking for Richard because it’s ‘movie night’ with Kellie at the Sant Mouvman. I take Kiki over, who sits for three minutes then decides he wants to go back. I take him, sit for a few minutes, then come back home and laugh with Mickens as he talks with me and works to get the internet faster for me.
Every time, let me tell you what transforms the entire day: Giving it to him. Asking for him to graciously help grab my hand and pull me into lean on his strength, patience, love, and wisdom for the day. Who knows how He’s using what I did today – but I can confidently tell you that nothing I did surprised Him today. He walked with me in market, sat beside me for all kinds of conversations that I could only understand half of, and probably chuckled at yet another “I love you, baby” conversation. And He’ll be with me, no differently, when I’m back in America next month, pumping gas or having breakfast at Panera.