While I work in Haiti, I pick and choose my moments of interaction with American culture. I’m not connected to ABC, CBS, NBC, NBA, NRA, NSA or anything else. While I follow the news, it’s only the items that I choose.
American television makes too many choices for us, and the choices they make are poor choices.
My impressions of American culture after one evening and morning of American television in my hotel room:
1) With twenty some channels, there’s nothing on. The only non-offensive material is usually from another decade.
2) Journalists are gossipers and they apparently don’t realize the difference.
3) Sex dominates our culture in a really out-of-balance way. If programming represents real thought patterns people have, wow! People are really missing out on Life.
4) Cheese professional? I heard a woman identify herself as a cheese professional. Hmm.
I'm thankful to be blessed with the chance to escape American culture. So much has changed here and is changing daily. I think back to 1972 when abortion became a legal right according to the Supreme Court. How speedily we have been 'progressing' since then!
God, bless America with repentance.
Anyone flying out of Haiti has noticed the tension that escalators cause for people who are new to them.
Today, we herded ourselves off of the plane and turned the corner to go up the escalator shoot. I was half way up when I heard some commotion further ahead in the shoot. Then I noticed a green garment bag at my feet. It was hooked on the inside wall of the escalator. It’s owner had apparently turned around and tried to walk back down the moving steps to re-acquire the snagged bag. That caused a pile-up of passengers falling backwards down the moving stairs. It was a slow-motion kind of pile-up. The pile reached me and two or three folks were falling onto me. We all (I think) thought we could just stand steady and it would be over, but on the moving stairs nothing stopped the domino effect. The pile was growing and I was now part of it. The human pile kept moving toward the top of the stairs. I remember saying, “PEZE BOUTON AN!” “HIT THE BUTTON!” No one knew what button I was talking about and the pile continued to grow and move up the stairs. People were gasping and shouting. As we reached the top of the stairs, the pile kind of flipped upside down. Those of us toward the bottom came up over those stuck on the not-moving floor at the top of the stairs. By God’s grace I fell on my back right next to the panic button. Right there it was. God’s provision. I slapped it. There was a plastic cover. I lifted the cover and slapped again. Bells rang. Lights flashed. The moving pile stopped moving.
As we gathered ourselves, I heard someone say, “That man stopped it.” Or something like that. People gathered their stuff and everyone began walking away. I did, too.
Last Monday I bought a bed...mattress and box spring (homemade version). I also bought some plywood and paid a friend to haul them to Pasbwadom for me. I neglected to tie down the mattress. It was lower than the cab of the truck, and I figured there is no way it could lift up en route. As we sped down the road, I kept glancing back. It was there, not moving at all. Two phrases later, it was gone. We turned around and drove back as I prayed that no harm befall any person for my negligence. Not only was no one harmed, some one got a free mattress. As we asked people along the road if they happened to see a mattress anywhere, they all said no. Not only had the mattress grown wings to fly out of the truck, it apparently also grew legs in order to run away. :( I am thankful that I lost the mattress...as opposed to someone else losing something much more valuable than that.
And then, I rediscovered and old hymn this last week. LORD SPEAK TO ME THAT I MAY SPEAK. The third verse is about teaching. One of the phrases of the prayer is WING MY WORDS. The writer is asking God to make his words effective in the lives of others. It is my prayer that God wing my words as well.
"OH! TEACH ME, LORD, THAT I MAY TEACH THE PRECIOUS THINGS WHICH YOU IMPART
AND WING MY WORDS THAT THEY MAY REACH THE HIDDEN DEPTHS OF MANY A HEART."
You have to go though it. There's no way around it. It's offensive to the eyes, ears, and nose. It's Haiti without the good parts. It's Port-au-Prince.
I shouldn't talk bad about it. I'm here so little. Truth is I'd like to be here even less.
I am enjoying a stay at the WFL guest house. Good people. Nice place. And I enjoyed a chicken sandwich last evening with Cookies'n'Cream to cap it off.
STILL, as much as I am comfortable in the countryside, that's how much I'm uncomfortable in this big city.
Looking forward to being in Miami tonight...another big city. :( Then Baltimore, then Dallastown.
Next week this time I will be (Lord willing) in the aiport in Port-au-Prince awaiting my flight to Miami. I've decided to rent a room in Miami. Usually the stay there is overnight but only a few hours long. This time I'll be in the city for almost a 24-hour period. SO, I've got a room at a place with a pool. :)
Here's hoping the night I'm in Miami is NOT the night the Miami Heat win the NBA Championship. I don't do riots well. Maybe in English it'd be better, though.
GO SAN ANTONIO!
There's a phrase in Haitian Creole...kraze tonel. A tonel is a temporary coconut branch structure that folks set up for special occasions. You can't stand around in the sun here in Haiti...it's too hot. So if there are going to be folks hanging out somewhere, you build a tonel. They'll do it for weddings, funerals, parties, etc.
Kraze means tear down or break up. After any big event, there comes the moment when you are done. People are gone and it is over. That's when you kraze tonel.
Well, for the last three months I've been translating teaching materials for Christian Aid Ministries. It's been a lot of work...45 lessons. Finally, just a day or two late, I sent out my final chapter. Then it was time to kraze tonel. The event was finished.
I thank God for the chance to do translation. I pray that the documents (being used even this morning as I type these words) will be a blessing to those who use them to study God's Word.
I've been helping a young man learn to read. Kids can fall through the cracks in Haitian schools so easily. Schools aren't equipped with specialists who are able to assess special needs, and even if someone were able to assess special needs, there would be no one trained to work with the special needs kid.
This nine year old boy lives with a family who graciously took him in. He is the son of a mom who is mentally unstable and has a drinking problem. The father is not much better. SO, this kind family took in the boy and sent him to school. But he didn't do well in school. I imagined he was suffering from low IQ (knowing both of his parents). When they told me two different schools had let him go, I decided to see if I could identify a problem with the boy's ability to learn. I was surprised by his clear speech, vocabulary, and general intelligence. I began teaching him to read. It has been slow, but he now regularly recognized 8 Haitian vowels and is able to tie them to about 8 different consonants with a decent degree of reliability.
His eyes travel all over the room, though. I'm guessing he would be diagnosed with an attention deficit. I work to keep his eyes on a page while we try to read.
But, what a joy helping a young person to read. It's something I'd like to do more often. Maybe next year. There are so many kids who drop out of school because they never learn reading skills.
Missionary in Haiti.