24 March 2010

Grief in Pignon

(A quick apology for the stretches of silence you’ve been experiencing from us; our internet is very unpredictable. Wait, check that—it is predictably poor.)

There’s a wake going on behind our housing, a block away. Even now, I can hear them singing. They always sing at night at their evening service, but today, it was during the day, too, which was unusual. I noticed the carpenter making a coffin, but he was making quite a few. Our language teacher mentioned today, during a quiet moment, that it was a wake for a man in her grandfather’s church, and we expressed our sympathies. But I wasn’t sure what to say or how much to ask…it is so much more a part of life here than I’m used to, and yet its constancy was clearly doing nothing to ease her pain.

Death here is much more daily. I have experienced grief before…my sweet friend Annette died suddenly last year, and at first, I was devastated. Yet when we asked a friend about his parents, they were both dead. The kid who keeps asking me to buy necklaces from him (“You tell me what to write on it, and I’ll write it…money after your get the necklaces, as many as you want”) says his mother died in Port-au-Prince. Our language teacher’s father died when she was a child. Death is everywhere here.

Even today, we were talking with Widlan about death (yes, he’s been coming to speak Creole with us—almost daily!). He says he’s writing a song for Michael Jackson (kind of funny, I know), but the comment he made was interesting: “I think he must have angered your god.” I didn’t let him get off so easy. After all, I told him, some of Michael Jackson’s actions were certainly bad, but we are all sinners in need of grace. “Yes,” he replied, “if we know our sin, then Jesus can forgive it all.” He said it, but it left me wondering if he really understood it. He wears a cross, which is unusual here, and he said today that he wants to help us because David will do such good things for Pignon by bringing in the plane.

And in our own way, we are grieving, too…culture shock has definitely set in, and the homesickness and frustration is quite real. But every time we feel that we want to pack it in, God sends some encouragement our way…a Skype session with family or someone knocking on our door who wants to take us to church or practice Creole. Your prayers are felt—please keep them up! They are greatly needed as we figure out how to wisely navigate our new surroundings with grace. We are learning how to “not lose heart,” but renew the inner man, day by day, and be encouraged in the fact that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Please ask God to help us “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV).

P.S. Today, Naomi killed a mosquito by spraying DEET directly onto it. It was hard core.


  1. Wow - what a powerful post. I'm sure the culture-shock is incredible. My prayers are with the two of you! It's so good to "hear" your stories. Love you!!!

  2. Hi Christine and David,
    Thank you so much for sharing both ups and downs. We praise God for what He is doing and will do in that very devastated country. Praise God for MAF and all of you who are willing to live a very different life so that people can see how much God loves them. He is always with you, as are we in spirit and prayers. We love you, Rod & Di