I’ve been feeling this for several years. This country has changed. It has been delivered from a darkness. I used to live for months without seeing anything that seemed like real progress. It was THAT bad…locally and nationally. Not anymore. Haitians seem so much more relaxed lately. There are positive signs everywhere you look. They see the signs as well. Our community is hugely affected by the road construction taking place. I don’t know what it’s like in other areas, but it seems to me things are different all over the island. When I watch Haitian TV, I see so many good things taking place. Today I saw a commercial where a policeman (off duty) is being driven by his wife. She gets stopped for traffic violations, and her husband does nothing. After the ticket she gets mad at him, saying he could have done something for her. His response is : “Baby, the law is the law. YOU broke the law, and YOU will pay even if I am a cop.”
An ad like that, to me, is a sign that this country is running from the corruption that made it such a dark place for so many years. What a blessing that is! Haiti is moving forward in beautiful ways.
Two former students of mine who are members of the church are attending a school up in the mountains north of here. A week or two ago they played in a soccer game that pitted the town where they attend school against players from a town out at the highway. One of them scored the first goal of the game. The other played goalie and was not scored on during the game. They were the heroes of the game, and they learned to play at the WFL school. They not only learned to play soccer, but they learned to play in a respectable way, and it’s serving them well. Just tonight as I am writing these lines they played another game. Jude, played goalie again. He scored a goal on a penalty kick, and his team won. He sent me a test message saying that he scored the goal for his team mates and ‘fans’. Then he thanked me for helping learn to play. That’s a sweet moment in the life of an educator.
Friday was the first of May. In Haiti that date is like Labor Day and Arbor Day rolled into one. But it’s not celebrated with barbecues. In fact, for many years it was simply a day when schools didn’t function. This year people in the little town of Pas-bwa-dòm had several possibilities from which to choose.
Our church youth group traveled to a ‘beach’ several kilometers west of here. I’ve ridden by the sign to this beach many times but never visited. We paid a few dollars and were free to spend the day there. There was soft sand, palm trees, coconut-branch pavilions and plastic lounge chairs. They were selling food, but we brought our own. We swam, we played soccer, we sat together while a member of the church taught a lesson about the environment and what we can do to improve it. Not a bad way to spend a day.
Then, a group of young adults organized a morning full of events at the local national school. People taught sessions about the environment and agriculture. One of the folks who taught is a former student of the WFL school. At that program, people left with a tree in hand.
And then, in the evening, Pas-bwa-dòm had its first ‘fair’. It was a small affair, but it was a fair. Local people came and displayed things that they make. There was a mango/rum drink. There was home-made wine from a tree seed. There were candies, and crafts. I got there kind of early and noticed that the young kids didn’t have much happening for their age, so I organized a few impromptu activities: bicycle obstacle course, wheelbarrow race, etc. Then, they interviewed the folks who had brought home-made stuff and we all stood and listened to that. The evening ended with some local artists singing and rapping along with recordings. It was a healthy, community affair. It’s happened a couple of times now where this community gets together and if feels like any organized community anywhere in the world. As a stood and marveled at the progress that’s taken place here, I was humbled. Many of the young adults spear-heading these new, positive activities are former students of the WFL school. They love to come and talk to me about what they are doing, and it’s a joy for me. They love their home town, and are investing in it. I hope I have been a positive influence in that respect. There are now young adults who received a good foundation as kids and who went on to build respectable lives on top of that foundation. When they come back and bless their hometown, it’s a blessing to me.
Back in Haiti again. Travel was relatively uneventful. I had a brief ‘point of tension’ in Miami when the lady at the counter said I could only check in one bag…and I was travelling with three (plus carry on and computer bag). The problem was that for the first flight I flew first class, but for the second flight there was no possibility of first class. When I complained, she calmly said her supervisor had told her what to do…or not do, as the case may be. I complained a bit more. I was looking at tossing one bag in the trash or paying $150 to have them checked in. The good lady at the counter punched some keys and printed some tags. She said, “Where’s your second bag.” I gave it to her. She took all three. I expressed my appreciation. Then she sent me on my way. I came back several minutes later after realizing I didn’t have my baggage claim tickets. I found her and explained the situation. She took my ticket, flipped it over and said, “I put them back here, Sweat heart.” I expressed my appreciation once again.
They began paving the road. It’s a bit underwhelming. The path is really, really skinny. When I saw it, I had to look twice. Folks say they are only going to do two paths and they’ll be skinny just like that one. I sure hope not. Lots of wasted space if that’s all they will pave. We shall see, as they say.
The first few days back in Haiti are always fun. Folks are happy to see you. You can catch up on the big events that happened in people’s lives while you were away. And then people always tell me I’m bigger than when I left. It happens every time. And I am bigger. I’ll be back to ‘playing weight’ in a few weight.
Sleep was awesome last night, my first night back in my house. No sheet or blankets. You just spread your limbs out on the bed and drift away. In the middle of the night I felt a cool air drifting down onto my head from the window I purposely designed to cool my bed at night. Perfect.
Seventy-four degrees at 7:30 this morning and over ninety by lunch. You say, "It can't be THAT warm." Well, it was.
It had to wait twenty minutes for a single Facebook page to come up on my laptop. You say, "It can't be THAT slow." Well, it is.
Missionary in Haiti.