Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Haiti Mission Trip Recap - Thursday, part 1

Thursday, July 15, 2010
Jacmel, Haiti - Loving Light Hotel roof deck

I really enjoy sitting up on the roof deck and watching the action in town in the morning.  Yesterday I brought up my IPod - which is running out of charge, yikes! - and listened to music.  Nice to hear familiar songs and words.

Today is our last day working at the church.  Tomorrow we are going to the beach and the market and then having a going away party, Haitian style. Apparently they are going to make us ride Moto (motorbike taxis) to the church for the party. Scary! A couple guys from the team tried to take a moto yesterday, but Fedony (Restore Haiti leader at the church) wouldn't let them.

"Moto" - Haitian sit up to 4 people on the back of a motorcycle taxi. We actually saw a family with 3 adults and then two of them were holding children. It was also pretty common to see someone riding on the back of a moto holding a chair or other large items.

At morning devotions Thursday morning, I asked our team if they had prayer requests to share.  These included: health for 3 of our team members, one team member trying to decide if she should stay in Jacmel another week or return to PaP for a week, healing for the aunt of one of the Haitian students we met (she had been taken to the hospital in PaP but the teenager didn't know why), prayer for a teenage Haitian boy living on the street near the hotel who appeared to be very sick and suffering from mental illness (in Haiti this is usually viewed as a voodoo related curse which makes Haitians scared of mental illness),  prayers for one of the church pastor's and his wife who have been trying to conceive a baby.  

Loving Light Hotel

This was our last day at the church.  I wanted to go to the medical clinic, but one of the team members there is very negative and Gina also wanted to go, so I let her go instead. I went back to my ladies again today.  I wish I had brought my journal to camp because there were quite a few times today that I had a chance to do some good thinking and now, of course, I can't remember most of it.

I started the morning washing dishes with Marjorie.  I had my flip flops on and they got very dirty, so did my feet and calves.  After dishes, I was helping to peel potatoes and Marjorie noticed my feet were dirty.  She brought me over by the water and washed and dried my feet and flip flops. 

I realized when she started leading me by the hand back towards the water what she was planning to do, and tried to refuse her.  I had learned by this point that 3 was the magic number of politeness -- for example, if they offered me a chair, I would say no, they would offer again, I would say no, they would offer again, I would say no (3X around).  If the offer was just politeness, they would accept the no after 3 times. I got the sense that if the offer was made a 4th time, then it would be impolite to refuse. This was a "4 times" command by Marjorie. I actually really enjoyed the "3 times game" because Haitian Kreyol and the Haitian communication style is so loud, it was almost like we were shouting at each other, only it was a nice interaction. I thought it was kind of fun.

I felt really bad - I'm here to serve the kitchen ladies and help them and I end up with Marjorie washing my feet for me.  But, really I couldn't say no either or I would have seemed rude. 

I ended up doing lots of cooking jobs today. I helped with: potatoes, onions, garlic, watercress, some kind of greens (collard?), eggplant and cabbage.  I also emptied 30 1lb bags of rice into pots for lunch.  They used 60lbs to feed the kids today! Emptying the bags of rice into the pots was the first time I was allowed to help prepare food in the real (hot) kitchen.  Oh yeah, I also sorted beans.

My rice prep area was on a log just to the right of this doorway inside the kitchen.
Julie, me, Marjorie

Sorting beans

60lbs of rice
 The ladies have been teaching me the Kreyol words for all of the foods and have me practice them, and then I team them the English. I almost never remember the Kreyol, but they like that I try. I also know the names of almost all of the (about 18) kitchen ladies and young girls.

Some of the kitchen ladies

TiTi, Marjorie, Me
 It's funny because even though my job hasn't been as physically demanding as most of our team, I feel like I have really made progress relationally with the women, much more than the rest have done with the Haitians.  I am sort of the command center of the kitchen for the Americans.  The Haitian ladies ask me for help communicating to the Americans and the team comes to me for water, bandaids, to find out what needs to be done around the camp, or if they are trying to find some kind of supplies.

One thing that happened today for the first time is the ladies started offering me food.  They have always tried to keep me out of the sun, get me to sit ("chilta"), give me water ("bwe"), but never food.  This morning when I was doing dishes, Marilou handed me what I thought was a big lime.  I took it, thinking I was supposed to cut it and put it in the middle water bowl (which often had limes squeezed and then dropped into it).  But when I asked, she said it was for me to eat ("manje").  I haven't been eating raw fruits of vegetables, but since I had already taken it, I felt like I had to eat it.  Turned out to be an orange! Hopefully it won't make me sick...

Later, another first, I was allowed all the way inside the (hot as a sauna) kitchen.  That is where I opened the rice.  While I was working, the ladies kept giving me "testers" (as my kids would say) of our lunch - french fries, hush puppies, they even offered me a whole hot dog, but I said no to that since we were supposed to be eating soon.  I am the only American who has been allowed in the kitchen so far.  When I told Jennifer (long term missionary) about the food treats, she said, "They take care of their own." Nice! I'm "their own"!

While we were eating lunch, I finished and was just sitting and thinking. It is hard to not feel tired when it is so hot and humid outside! I realized a little bit what I am doing -- I am in Haiti doing all this awesome stuff I never thought I could do! I don't think I will "get it" until I get home.  That's sad.  But I was thinking about home and how people have been scared for me and I was scared, but it hasn't been scary at all.  Just amazing.

Thank you God for this opportunity!


  1. Oh, did you ever ride the Moto? That looks CrAzY!

  2. I love that you were "one of them." I love seeing the pictures of the Haitian people. You look so happy, too.

  3. Wow, Amanda this is really powerful. Thank you for all you have been sharing with us!