The last post on this blog was back in June. So perhaps you could say it takes 3 months to effectively transition into Haiti and find time to write on a blog. At least for us. Lets get this thing rollin. I copied this from a recent email to a friend:
Haiti has been wild, crazy, and amazing so far. We’re pushed further out of the boat every day. I’m teaching 3 high school art classes so that our kids can get a free education while we’re here. The school is awesome and I love the administration folks, they love Jesus and really support us well. I’m enjoying the ease of relationship with high schoolers that comes with teaching. Most of the kids are TCK’s so, it’s familiar territory.
The other day one of my students said that about a year ago he woke up in the middle of the night to a strange sound and when he and a friend went outside to check on it they found blood everywhere and their security guard cut to pieces in the back yard, Apparently he was murdered so that the perpetrator could steal his 9 millimeter. I don’t know why the kid decided to talk about this in the middle of art class, but I didn’t really know how to respond other than to ask if he was o.k. Not knowing how to transition back to a more normal class time, and not wanting to make him feel awkward for his spontaneous soul-bearing traumatic story, I asked the class (14 students) if any of the rest of them had ever witnessed a death. EVERY student in the class raised their hand. We spent the next few minutes praying, asking God to heal their memories and to give their minds peace over those things. I never cease to be amazed at what “normal life” is here. The day after that conversation one of the students was walking in his neighborhood and somebody across the street pulled a gun and shot some guy in the back of the head right in front of him. The student came to class, not so much shaken by the murder, but weirded out that it happened the day after our conversation in class.
I paid a 9 year old to pick up trash around my neighborhood yesterday (there’s a lot), so that he could buy some food to eat. I wanted to give him a sense of working for money, so that maybe he can think about how to develop some skills to feed himself more regularly. He always asks for a dollar when he sees white missionaries around the hood. I don’t know why the street kids never ask for more. They always say, “give me a dollar”. And they say it without an accent, then you say something back to them in english and they say, “M pa comprann, m pale kreyol selman.” I’m making a mosaic out of trash with one of my art classes, so this little guy’s litter job is helping me get art supplies. I think he felt good about working like that. But there are about 40 kids like that just on our street… walking around all day waiting for a handout because their parents don’t have any work. supposedly 70% of the country is unemployed. The land is so depleted that there are virtually no resources for industry here, so work is scarce. People live by sharing everything, not paying off debts, and collecting fruit from trees to eat.
Last week I saw a lady walking in the heat (about 96 degrees) carrying her baby. I recognized her because she goes to a parenting class at a mission run by some friends of ours. I pulled over and asked her if she wanted a ride home. She was thrilled and got in the car. She lived about 5 miles away. She was going to walk that far in the heat with her baby without any water bottle. After we had driven about a mile she pointed to her baby and said, “Eske w vle li? Ou kab pran li.” (Do you want her? You can take her.) She said it like she was offering me a slice of mango. I couldn’t believe it. I told her in kreyol, “Jesus gave her to you as a special gift because he knows that you can take care of her well. He’ll help you. I can’t disagree with him, I can’t take your baby.” When we got to her house she let me usher her in the door. 3 other kids were in the one room concrete building with a tin roof. The house was about 20 square ft.
Every day is packed with adventure and learning. We live in an orphanage with 25 boys. They are all between 5 and 15 years old. Really cool kids. I hope they can all get adoptive families. Some of the older boys are right on the verge of aging out of the system, at which point they will be on their own. I have to figure out how to train them to survive outside of the orphanage. I hope none of them have to leave like that. We’ve thought about just leaving with them and recruiting somebody else to take our place while we help the older boys grow up. These kids are so resillient and joyful for what they have been through. It would blow your mind. They are really good kids. There are some who are only 8 or 9 years old and have already been involved in knife fights, drug trafficking, etc. and they are the most polite kids, speaking English as a second language fluently, constantly striving to serve and bring joy to the other boys around them. It’s amazing what a safe environment and a couple ounces of love can do. We have some great worship times with them. We continually ask God to make himself more and more clear to these boys. It has been cool to watch some of them pray for each other and carry each other’s burdens. They have taught me a lot.
Keziah, Zebedee, and Woodelson continue to do well. Keziah is loving her school (the same one I teach at) and W and Z are new best buds. They make me laugh all the time. Zebedee is already speaking kreyol, saying things are “Pou mwen” (for me) and “vini” (come here). In a recent trip up to the mountains he and I took a walk and met some potato farmers. You can see how comfortable Zebedee was with this in the picture. They all wanted to hold him because he was so cute, and he thought that wasn’t the best idea. :o)
We have had the strange experience of doing “official business” here in Haiti, trying to make our presence legal in every possible way: visas, drivers licenses, permits, etc. We have had to laught at how often the “official” meeting places for some of these offices get temporarily resituated to alley ways, parking lots, and random offices with miles of chairs with nobody in them, and signs with apparently important public legal information written on them like the menu of the day at a Denny’s.
More to come…