Christmas in Haiti. It's about noise and it's about heat...at least in comparison to the Christmas with which I grew up.
A lot of Latin America uses fireworks to celebrate The Birth...I've been told. Here used to be crazy with pennysticks and other explosives. It's not so bad this year. Someone was telling me the government said NO to the free-for-all fireworks. I'm not sure if it's true. We had a bunch show up in late November, but since then it's been quiet.
We had a concert yesterday with musicians from our church and neighboring churches plus a couple of special invited guests. It is the first concert (I know of) in this area that was just music...no singing. I hope to make a habit of it as the my instrumentalist students progress. There were some very nice moments...and some 'missed opportunities', shall we say.
Read Matthew's list of 'fathers' again this season and marveled at how he went out of his way to NOT say that Joseph was the father of Jesus. Thirty some fathers in the list, I think. And Joseph was just the man who married Mary, the mother of Jesus. Clearly, Matthew saw that it was important that Jesus was the Son of God. Emmanuel...God with
The book of Isaiah talks about the work of John...flattening the mountains, filling in the valleys, and eliminating curves. I've heard choirs sing those phrases and pastors read those phrases for years. "Every valley shall be..." This year I understand them in a new way.
The government of Haiti is building the road that comes into our town. Last January, it was a path about 20 feet wide with crazy turns, dips, and bumps. They began work, widening the road first. Then they started attacking the mountains...cutting right into them. Huge low points were filled in. (The other day my motorcycle taxi driver stopped at a point in the road. I remembered he had family near a big dip in the road. As he walked into the house, I had no idea we were there at that point in the road. It's now level.) This week the big trucks are back in our town making the widened road even wider. The result is that you can see forever both east and west. Towns that seemed far away, we can see now. I get to the end of the lane where I live, and I look west to Flammands and east to Laborieux. Amazing. I can SEE.
In the passage after the valley being filled, the mountain made low, and the rough ways smooth, there comes a fascinating word. Isaiah wrote that when that 'construction' work is done, 'all mankind will SEE God's salvation.' God's salvation is Christ.
When the turns and mountains and valleys are eliminated, you SEE further. I want to live like John the Baptist...eliminating the obstacles that keep people from seeing Christ.
Every time I see a dump truck or a bulldozer, I think of that now. Every time I ride on a cycle out to the highway I SEE. This Christmas season, may you SEE God's salvation!
Banking in Haiti
I went to do some banking. I walked into the bank with 5000 gourdes of cash, my ID papers, my bank account books and a desire to leave with a 'certified check' that I need to renew my PERMIT that allows me to stay here long term. That was my plan.
They quickly told me that there would be no chance of getting the check today. "Come back tomorrow." I had paid thirty dollars to get there, and would be paying thirty to get home. Another sixty tomorrow? I didn't smile.
In the end, they took my 5000 gourdes plus another 440 gourdes as a fee. And they gave me...nothing. I left with no check (the director who needed to sign the check was absent) and no account book (because they had no ink to record the transaction).
Sadly, it's not an atypical banking experience. Next time you go to the bank and get what you intended, be sure to say thanks.
Well. My plan was to do some banking, do some buying, and hire a driver to bring everything here to my house. In the US, it would have been the activities of one good morning. Here in Haiti, it took two days.
Monday morning began with a trip to Cayes on public transportation. I spent the $200 of borrowed money that I had on me to travel there, eat an egg sandwich, and fill a propane tank. Then I headed to the place where they would change a check for me, and I'd start shopping. Except the gentlelady said, "No checks to be changed today. Tomorrow. Goodbye." Well. I stepped outside and started complaining to the folks with me. We checked every other corridor we could think of. Nothing. Then as I stood and complained some more, a lady who had 'saved' me once before showed up there in the street. We shared the story with her. She smiled and said, "Sure I can do that for you...if you buy some groceries from me." I took her up on the offer and filled a big cardboard box with a month's worth of the items I can't buy here in town. Everything worked out fine from there. I regretted not praying when I was stuck. Then I could have said that my prayers did the job. Instead, I must honestly say that while I complained, God did the job for me.
Later that same morning I wanted to see a certain doctor about a friend of mine he is treating. But, I didn't want to bother him as he treated people. As I walked by his front door, he appeared right there...on his way in. He answered my question and we both went on our way. It was a God appointment...in nobody's notebook but His. :)
I bought some chairs so that I can now teach more than three people at a time. I'll buy them four at a time till I have 24. And I got a marker board that'll serve as blackboard. These are exciting little steps forward now that the building is standing. PLUS, I found in town of Cayes the kind of foldable plastic tables that I want for the teaching center. I had thought it would be impossible to find them here. I haven't bought them yet, but I know where there are. :)
God is faithful!
Missionary in Haiti.