Haiti Revisited

Going backward in time describing my trip has allowed me time to mull over my thoughts about Haiti. What did I want to say about Haiti this time (I visited there for the first time one year ago.) What did I think about Haiti? And then my friend posted this wonderful piece of writing about the dreams and disparity that you see in Haiti. THAT’S how I felt! She voiced it so much better than I could.

When I go to Haiti, I tend to be overwhelmed by everything. The heat! The humidity! The electricity is off! The masses of people everywhere trying to sell stuff on the sidewalk. How can any of them make enough money to live when there are so many trying to sell the same thing? The dust! The despair that I see on so many faces. The traffic! The little trucks on their very last legs packed with people like sardines in a can–how can they even breath in there? The “roads.” The slums. The LANGUAGE. I can’t understand a word they are saying. (LOL, sometimes I can’t even understand when they are speaking to me in English…)

And yet. And yet….

There are flashes of brilliance. Of greatness. Spending time with a man who serves God like none I’ve ever experienced before. Pastor Gilbert is our host when we go to Haiti. He has an SUV and two cell phones. Every day as we traveled back and forth to the villages with him, we had traveling companions with us. He would be giving a ride to this or that person. Drop them off at their work corner. Get them down the road a ways. Taking them along on his journeys so he could talk to them and instruct them. Bringing them along to experience the small villages. Delivering a bit of food or some supplies. Constantly taking or making calls (presumably to arrange these pick ups and drop offs, and fielding other requests.) Providing a word of wisdom or encouragement. And if they happened to still be in the car when he arrived home, ALWAYS, a big plate of rice and beans for them before they returned to their own home. His life is God’s life.

And now, the trip. As we arrived in Haiti, Pastor Gilbert met us at the exit and took us to his car, where there were (of course) two other women that he was giving a ride to! One was an animated American who CAME TO HAITI ON VACATION EVERY YEAR BECAUSE SHE LOVED IT. What the what???? No comprehendo. I’m still mulling that one over.

This is one of my favorite pictures. Because it is so typical of my brother. This is Pastor Gilbert and my brother trying to order a plain cheese pizza at a huge fast food joint that we went to on our first night there. It was quite the ordeal trying to explain that to the young clerk.

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This place was huge, and had a number of different types of food offered. Maybe like one of the food courts in our American malls? I wish I had gone around the corner and seen the Haitian chicken before I ordered my “steak sandwich.” I told my brother later that it was tasty, but there was no discernible steak in it! Tasty french fries though.

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The next morning, as we headed to Carrefour Poy, I was surprised to see that much of the tent cities were cleared out. I hadn’t expected that big of a change in one year.

And then we came upon these little pastel block houses that had been built at the location of one of the tent cities!

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This is just a typical scene of the street vendors. They are everywhere—city, country, and on the major roads in between.

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And then we arrived at Carrefour Poy. My friend Claudel gave me a tour of the classrooms. It was Friday, and I think the kids were in high spirits because it was a half day.

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The well that was installed in the church yard is constantly in use.

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One of “my” girls, Ketlyn.

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And the other, Elvena. Elvena was home sick, but somehow Claudel sent word for her to come to the school to see me. Its a mystery to me how they communicate out there in the middle of nowhere.

Alvena’s mom has died, and her dad is supposedly the voodoo priest in the town. What he really is is a man who has fried his brain on alcohol. I worry about her. But it does seem she has a stepmother who cares about her, because she has been well-dressed and well-groomed each time I’ve visited.

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The main purpose of our trip: my brother presented a “seminar” on hog management in each of three villages. It cracks me up how they “do business” in Haiti. The seminar is supposed to start at 9. We show up about 9:10. No one is there. Pastor Gilbert hangs around outside for a while, and pretty soon people start appearing (again with the mysterious mode of communication in the boonies.) And then we start about 10.

My brother always spoke from the Bible for a few minutes, and then got into the hog management aspect. What he does is so far removed from what they do in Haiti, we wondered if there were anything he could offer them. But by the third seminar, it did seem that he had some very practical suggestions for them. I was so proud of my brother for doing this. Just going to Haiti was so far out of his comfort zone.

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While my brother spoke, I stitched on one of my little travel quilts. I had put together some “quilt kits” to share in case anyone expressed any interest. Two different women started watching me, and so I gave each one of them a kit. One of them happened to be my favorite teacher from our previous trip to Haiti (she helped us with the shoe giveaway) so I was very happy about that. It turned out that the other woman was also a teacher! She opened her kit right away, and we sat and stitched companionably for about an hour!

On Sunday we returned to Carrefour Poy for church. It happened to be their 18 year church anniversary, so they had decorated the church with streamers.

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Church is so special to these people. They all dress in their very best. There is no glancing at watches to see if the service will be over soon. They are there to worship!

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My friend Claudel. He is the young man I mentioned in this post. 

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He was so excited to show me the construction that he had started on his new home.

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And for your amusement, (and to show that I’m not ALWAYS a whiny American baby,) here’s one of the “bathrooms” that I visited. I don’t think its used too often because the “toilet” (brick hole) was a little covered in cobwebs. A nice young woman did hold the “door” closed for me as it was quite breezy that day!

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One of the young pastors we met asked me “do you love Haiti?” To which I replied “I love the people of Haiti.” I thought to myself as the trip neared its end, I don’t think I’ll come back again. But now as I write this, I know that Haiti is an important part of my Christian pilgrimage, and that I will indeed return again someday to Haiti.

 

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9 thoughts on “Haiti Revisited

  1. I love this post Debby! Makes my heart miss Haiti so much. If I had the money, I just might turn into the crazy lady who visits Haiti every year for vacation! Oh, and I LOVE the paragraph about Gilbert. You captured him perfectly! 🙂

  2. Beautiful. A lot of what you’ve shown reminds me of Zambia when I lived there from 1979-1983, especially the street vendors. When I first came back to the USA I used to miss those vendors!

    I would never call you a whiny American because the fact is simply that you live differently. But I think these people have grabbed your heart and that God intended for you to have your own type of ministry there.

  3. no whining..you are going outside your comfort zone for the love and hope for those people. that is walking the walk..I just looked back through your past few posts. I love that kale salad mix too..

  4. “His life is God’s life.”
    Your description of Pastor Gilbert was so moving. I think of all the “famous” people in the church world, that get all the applause and attention. But I tend to think that it will be the Pastor Gilberts of this world that will be so honored in Heaven, that really touch the Father’s heart.

  5. Love seeing the pictures, love hearing your take on the country, love that you are so willing to step outside of your comfort zone. The pictures of “your” girls are just so sweet.

  6. I loved reading this post. We often hear of disasters that happen like in Haiti, the Philippines or else in the world. At the moment it happens, money is donated, help is on it’s way. But it’s people like you that go back and keep helping. It’s not people like me that donate money but people like you who actually help make the difference. Too bad there are more of me than you in the world. I admire you for this Debby.

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