29 July 2010

Jameson and me

Gifts

While David is in Florida, Will Krul invited me to come and stay with her. Her husband Jason is traveling with David while he renews his medical and he’ll help David with our shipment tomorrow. David is relieved to have someone with him who’s been through the customs process before, and it’s easier for me to stay behind knowing David isn’t completely on his own.

Will, her son Jayden, and I kicked off the visit by going to the store to get a birthday cake for Jocemine. She’s their goddaughter and also the daughter of the family who works for them. We put her in the high chair and set the cake in front of her. I’d like to tell you that she suddenly broke out into giggles and smiles, but the bewildered expression you see on her face was the one she maintained throughout the celebration. Will gave her a balloon, a toy frog that squeaked, dresses her parents had sent, hair clips, and shoes.

Her mom Denise seemed particularly excited about the clothes and accessories—Jocemine mostly wears Will’s son Jayden’s hand-me-downs, so having something girly was pretty sweet. Her brothers and Jayden were also given balloons, which lasted about as long as you’d think. But there was lots of lovely shrieking and running and laughter before the bubble burst, so to speak.

Today, Will and Jayden took me with them to the outreach feeding program she helps with at a local orphanage. I wandered around a while, watching the kids lining up and watching the Americans and the program helpers dink around with the balls while the food was being prepared. My mission was to “go and love,” according to the program director…no problem.


Finally, the gates were sprung open and one by one, the kids began to put their rocks in the can and come inside. It’s not a free-for-all—the couple who runs the orphanage has identified some of the needier kids in the area, and they give the kids on the list a rock so that they know which ones are supposed to be there. After three or four kids came inside, I noticed this really small kid who had lost most of his hair. That’s a sign of severe malnutrition, as well as the hair turning orange.



I scooped him up and started to skip across the cement soccer area, much to his delight. When I got over to the beads, I thought he might like to make a bracelet. “Eske ou ta remen fè yon brasle?” I asked him. He didn’t answer, so I started to put him down, but he pulled his feet up. I laughed. He looked like a pill bug, clinging to my neck and rolling himself up away from the ground. “All right,” I told him in Creole, “but you can’t pee on me. If you have to pee, you can tell me.” (I’d had a bad experience in the past.) He put his head on my shoulder, and I took that to mean he had accepted my terms.

(I had more pictures, but it's easier to post it in two posts--see below for the riveting finale!)

Posted by Picasa

Gifts, Part 2

The next thing I knew, he was asleep. I found out his name—Jameson. I found out he’s one of five siblings, all living with their mother in a tent city. I found out that he’s three years old…he hardly looked it. Jameson slept through the games. He slept through the bracelets and the worship and the skit the American team put on for them. In fact, I could hardly get him to wake up when it was time to eat.


“Leve kanpe,” I urged him, “get up, Jameson.” He barely stirred. I couldn’t let him leave without eating—he clearly needed it. “Wake up, Jameson,” I told him in Creole, “or I’m putting you down. You can’t sleep now.” He refused to wake up, so I started to put him down. His eyes finally popped open--he grinned at me, and the girls watching us laughed. “Time for vitamins,” I told him. He wouldn’t take it. “It’s candy,” I told him. It was mostly true…Flintstones vitamins, the same ones I took as a kid. Nope. Nothing doing. The mouth was definitely closed for business.

I sat on a low cement wall, and someone brought us a plate of diri ak pwa, rice and beans. There was no way he’d eat it all, I thought, as tiny as he was, but he slowly began to power his way through it. He liked to squish the beans between his fingers and pop them in his mouth. I encouraged him to use the spoon, not knowing where his hands had been. Will came up to us and said there was room for him at a table...my shaking arms were grateful for the suggestion. I tried to pass her the plate I’d been holding so I could stand up. Given the way he grabbed it in reaction, I’m still surprised he didn’t rip the paper plate. “I’m not taking it from you,” I tried to tell him, but I couldn’t find the words. Finally, we gave up, and Will carried him, Jameson still maintaining a death grip on his plate.

She set him down at a mostly empty table, and I got down at eye level with him. I hadn’t had much chance to really look him in the eyes, and I wanted to remember his face for when I came back. Seeing me there, he lifted his spoon and offered me a bite of rice. I felt myself beginning to tear up, so I just smiled and told him, “No, thank you, I’m not hungry.” He went back to eating. At Will’s suggestion, I slipped his Flintstone vitamin into the aluminum tumbler that held his water and swished it around, hoping that some of it would dissolve. Jameson may be poor, but he is by no means stupid—he noticed it down there right away and firmly rejected the cup. (That's him in the picture below.)



Will took me across the street to tour the girls’ house and the guest house. On our way back to the car, I spied someone carrying Jameson down the road, back toward the camp. I called—he waved. The gal who runs the orphanage thanked me for coming, but it didn’t seem right. Funny how our attempts to be a blessing to others end up actually being a gift to us.

Thank you for your prayers—they allow us to share God’s great love with others, even when it’s as simple as a shoulder to sleep on.
Posted by Picasa

28 July 2010

David's Florida update

David made it to Florida around 7:30 my time last night, and was able to text me to let me know. :) The plan for today is getting his medical and then coming back to Haiti with our shipment of household goods tomorrow. I'm adopting a "no news is good news" philosophy, but if I do hear something, I will be sure to let you know.

Thank you so much for your prayers! They are greatly appreciated.

Christine

26 July 2010

One step closer

Just a quick update...we are starting to settle into our temporary digs in Port-au-Prince. There is a bit of news on the housing front: the family who might have been leaving in January (and thus vacating their house) ISN'T leaving in January. So MAF will have to find us a different house before the Broyles get back in January...or we will be homeless. Or rather, more homeless.

But homelessness is about to receive a karate kick to the chest, because David leaves tomorrow to get our shipment and bring it here from Florida!! I wish I was going with him, but at least I get to hang out with a new friend while he's gone. I was reflecting today about what I've missed most about not having our own stuff. Here's my list:

1. My plastic bag dryer. If you've never heard of these, and you're cheap like me, Google it. You'll love it.

2. My knives. I have nice knives, and frankly, there's just no substitute.

3. My bundt pan.

4. My cookbooks, especially More with Less.

5. My rice cooker.

6. My bread machine.

7. My nice wooden clothespins for hanging laundry on the line, as opposed to the chintzy plastic ones I'm currently attempting to use.

Okay, so apparently, I mostly miss the kitchen boxes. I'm sure there's good stuff in the other boxes, too...I just wish I could remember what it was. It'll be like Christmas in July.

"David, what are you most looking forward to seeing again from our shipment?"

"I don't know. Probably my tools. My computer monitor."

I think we could have guessed that.

Please pray for David as he goes--he leaves out of Cap Haitian at 11:00 AM EST. Also, he's renewing his flight medical on Wednesday--please pray for smooth sailing on that as well. Thanks for praying for us!!

20 July 2010

Detour

Friday evening, ice water in hand, I sat on a screened porch on La Gonave, watching the rain pour off the roof…that’s right, I said La Gonave, the small island which sits just off the coast of  the main island of Haiti. The move from Pignon had started out well—we managed to get all our suitcases and boxes into the plane, which I had been dubious about, and we had been able to say goodbye to some friends without being hassled by anyone to give them our stuff. (It’s a common problem in Pignon, since so many work teams that come give away all their stuff when they leave.)

I’m cruising along, in the front seat, which means I’ve got the only other headset. Mark is our pilot, and he’s done this flight about a million times, because he’s been in Haiti for 19 years. So I’m not really listening as he starts to talk to one of our other pilots about some weather that was forming over Port. He starts to become a bit more alert, and suddenly, I realize we’re taking a way I’ve not seen before. We flew down a steep canyon, and rain began to fall. Rain’s not usually a big deal for pilots, but as we drew closer to the storm, it looked like a thick, gray curtain hanging between us and our destination.

Coming out of the mountains, we begin to descend into the valley where Port-au-Prince sits, with the ocean on our right. He skirts the edge of the storm, then finally flies partly into it, to see if he can find a way through it. The windshield is suddenly engulfed in rain and cloud, and I’m forced to close my air vent to keep it out. That’s when my stomach began to speak up. I’m the sort of flier who enjoys being up, up, and away…as long as I can see the horizon. There’s no horizon in a cloud. Thankfully, there was also no way we could navigate in that mess, so we quickly found our way out of there.

Ten miles from Port-au-Prince, with no hope of landing, we ended up deviating to La Gonave. We barely beat the rain there, landing only about twenty minutes before it started…just enough time to pull my purse out of the cargo hold, take in the ocean for a moment, and head for cover. Mark called some friends who work with West Indies Self Help (WISH), and they were kind enough to come and get us.

If I thought the roads in Pignon were bad, they didn’t hold a candle to this. The joke was made that we spent as much time moving vertically as we did horizontally. A World Vision SUV whizzed by us, and I delightedly remembered that World Vision has a large population of sponsored kids on this island, which is one of the poorest parts of Haiti. I also noticed what I thought were painted spikes on the tops of their walls, but when I got closer, I realized that they were thousands of conch shells instead.

We had dinner with the WISH folks, and they offered to put us up for the night. (Good thing, too—we had nowhere else to go!) They were also taking care of a Haitian baby named Rosie, whose mother was too sick with TB to take care of her. The orphanage in La Gonave isn’t really equipped for infants, and they’ve gone from 40 children to 60 children since the earthquake with only 12 staff. Rosie’s malnutrition was due to the fact that her six-year-old sister had been responsible for feeding her, because their mother was too weak. At sixteen-months-old, she fits comfortably in the six-month yellow onesie she’s wearing, as they attempt to feed her spaghetti and cheese biscuits. She can toddle along, if she’s got fingers to hold, but she’s still getting over a respiratory infection, among other things. I try to play with her a little, but she’s feeling shy.

The next morning, we explore the grounds better—there are more birds and varied kinds of vegetation on La Gonave than in Pignon, and I enjoy the smell of the salt air. After a delicious breakfast of baked oatmeal, we’re back down to the strip, watching John land with more fuel for us. It’s strange how something that could have been an inconvenience can end up feeling so refreshing.

Praise God for safe landings and for friends who take in strays. Thanks for praying for a safe move for us—we needed it more than you could know! We’re settling into our temporary housing here in Port; please continue to pray for a more permanent place to be found. David flies to Florida to get our shipment next Tuesday!

19 July 2010

The Citadel


I know I promised pictures of the Citadel, but our internet has been lousy for several weeks. However, we have now moved and have better internet, so here they are:
http://picasaweb.google.com/Christine.Harms/100624CitadelAndSansSouci?authkey=Gv1sRgCIDAx6ywmoOzSQ#
Posted by Picasa

15 July 2010

Hosean International Ministries



Caleb, one of the brothers in this video, has been our gracious host for the last four months--it's a great tribute to how God's working here, as well as a nice tour of Pignon, where we've been living!

We leave tomorrow! Please pray!

K, continued...

Singing with children is one of my favorite things to do, hands down. It’s part ego-massage, I guess…they always think you’re good, and by comparison to them, you usually are. But other than singing with my students, it’s usually reserved for group situations in church and for the shower.

So when K asked me to put some songs on CD for him…I balked a little. “I don’t have a CD,” I told him. “You could get one,” he said. “I don’t know what kind of songs you’d want,” I said. “Church songs,” he replied, “plus the alligator song.” I had taught K and his cousin, who is also our neighbor, a song about an alligator when we’d first arrived, and they thought it was the greatest thing since football. “In English or in Creole?” I asked. “Both,” he replied.

One beef I have with God is that He often asks me to do things that I am certainly capable of doing, but would rather not. This was one of them. I asked my mom to send me some CD blanks, which she faithfully did, and since then, they’ve been sitting on the shelf, silently, blankly, waiting for me. Since we’re leaving on Friday, I finally summoned up the courage today to record a few songs and burn them to a CD for him…it was nothing special, but it was the best I could do. I also put a few books of the Bible in Creole on another CD and threw that in as a bonus.

On the way back from getting water this morning, I hollered at him across the yard to come find me later…he’s been at a kid’s camp that’s being held here at the school all week (and loving it, I might add). You should have seen his face when I gave them to him. I hardly got a whole sentence out, before he was dashing off to get his portable CD player to listen to it. He stopped by again later to say what great music it was and thank you again and to say goodbye. I was relieved, in a way, that he already knew we were leaving, because I’d been dreading telling him. Pignon’s rumor mill is quite effective, and I’d set things in motion the day before, when I told his cousin.

“My stomach hurts, because you’re leaving for Port-au-Prince,” he said. “You’re sad?” I asked, unsure of what he meant at first. “Us too--we’ll miss you,” I told him. In Creole, to miss someone and to remember them is the same concept, which I always find poignant. “God forgives you,” he told me, which I think he meant as a blessing. It’s sort of breaking my heart to leave him…he’s still got a lot of healing to do, and he doesn’t want to go back to Port-au-Prince, which he’s scheduled to do in August.

I did give him our e-mail addresses, so we’ll see if we ever hear from him again. If not, we know who holds him in His hands. Thanks for praying for K.

13 July 2010

Anywhere you live

I was watching an episode of M*A*S*H the other day, where Radar is being sent home because his Uncle Ed died. (If you are too young to know what I’m talking about, I apologize.) The driver asks him where he’s headed, and Radar says, “Ottumwa, Iowa.” The driver kind of shrugs and says, “I guess anywhere you live is home.”

This week, I’m realizing how true that is. I had no expectation that I would be sad to leave Pignon…and yet, as things start to disappear into boxes and bags, I find I’m upset. ‘Why on earth should I be sad?’ I keep asking myself. ‘You’re going back to civilization, for heaven’s sake! A hot water heater! A refrigerator! A washing machine!’ (As you might have guessed, the socks around here could surely use one—my hand-washing just doesn’t cut the mustard.) 

But I have people here—Haitian friends and American friends. And when I want to go somewhere here, I walk. And when I need something, I know how to get it. I can function here, and that can be a comfort in itself. We’ve been in suitcases for over a year now, so I’m hesitant to release any sense of home that I’ve found. And yet moving forward means that David finally gets to do what he’s trained to do, so I suppose I can muster up the courage for a worthy cause such as that.

Please pray for our move and transition to temporary housing in Port-au-Prince, which begins on Friday. Please also continue to pray for more permanent housing for us, as the search continues...


08 July 2010

Goat


The first time I ate goat was in the United States, if you can believe it. MAF had us participate in some cultural training while we were in Nampa, and that included eating with a group of Sudanese refugees, who were Muslim. Most of the time was spent nodding and smiling at each other—the women insisted that we help them in the kitchen—but the oldest son did speak fairly good English. We knew the meat was hallal, which is meat that’s been slaughtered according to Muslim purity rules, but we couldn’t tell if it was beef or goat…he claimed it was goat, but he wasn’t too involved in the preparation, so we couldn’t be sure. However, now I can tell you for certain: goat is most tasty, and if you ever get the chance, you should definitely try it. I had to share some of mine with David yesterday, because he was distracted by Haitian cabbage and missed the goat coming through the lunch buffet at a friend’s house. He’s lucky to have a wife who loves him so much.

Goats are like cows here, only better—you can’t let your cow wander all over town, but goats seem to have free reign of Pignon. They’re quite a bit cuter, too, though the kids cry sometimes at night and they’re covered with fleas…which you can’t see until you get up close to take a picture of it. They don’t have any kind of indicators (that I can tell) in order to designate ownership, but everyone here claims they can tell them apart. Every once in a while, you’ll see some kid out there with a stick, trying to round up all his goats, usually on a Friday night, since market is on Saturday. The wresting match that ensues when people try take their goats into the stall at the market where they’re sold or slaughtered is quite comical—somehow, the goats know that this is NOT a place they’d like to go and decide that it’s time to drag their hooves. Once they buy them, people often bind their hooves together and stick them on the back of their cart or motorcycle, hanging upside down. This does not make for a happy goat…but it does make for a fresher dinner whenever you eat him. A nice goat goes for $40 American, so it’s a significant investment, and there’s a code of honor here that you don’t mess with another guy’s goat. If you kill a goat with your car, you owe him big time…because, of course, that was his best and nicest goat, no matter which one you killed.

Since goats are inclined to roam, they figure that since they can’t fix all the doors and fences to keep them out, they’ll just fix the goats…most goats are outfitted with wooden “collars” to prevent them from wandering in houses and yards where they shouldn’t be. And sometimes, it even works. Unfortunately, when they do get into places they should be, they’re not terribly easy to frighten away…I guess I need to spread around how tasty I think they are, and maybe they’ll disappear!

We love you guys. Please pray for the shipment packing, commencing this weekend!

03 July 2010

Creole 101

“Bonjou, mesyadam,” an older man says as he passes us…this is one of my favorite things here. “Mesye è madam” just takes too long to say, apparently, so they push it all together to greet everyone at once. My favorite “how are you” is more difficult to translate…the first person asks, “S’ak pase?” (What’s happening?) and the second person responds, “N’ap boule,” which literally means, “We’re burning.” I think its meaning is something like, “we’re cool,” except the temperature has obviously been adjusted for the island climate.

We’ve been at this for about four months now—hard to believe sometimes, since I still sit in church and just shake my head, understanding like this: “God…Christian…sin…saved us…Abraham …we must…”, just like that for two hours. But overall, our skills are improving. We both realized the other day that we can eavesdrop more easily now, without having to look at the person’s lips…which is great fun when our neighbors are outside arguing about who took 100 goud that was sitting on So-and-So’s bed.

We are able to hold real conversations now, but when we first got here, our conversations revolved around very few subjects:

1. I don't have any children: "M'pa gen pitit."
2. Yes, I am married: "Wi, m'se marye."
3. I don't know why I don't have any children: "M'pa konnen poukisa m'pa gen pitit."
4. Don’t do that, please: “Pa fe sa, souple!” (This is particularly useful when small children try to eat things off the ground, climb on you like a jungle gym, break your screen door, look in your windows, etc.)

5. No, I don’t have a football or candy or money for you: “Non, m’pa gen yon football ou siret ou lajan pou ou.”

6. Do you think it’ll rain?: "Eske ou ponse lapli ap vini?"

However, what’s more interesting is the things people say to us in English. Here are a few examples:

"Good morning!" (Useful any time of day.)

"How-ah-you?" (Usually a gesture of friendship, but if you offer any other response but “I-yam-fine,” you’ll get a big blank stare.)
"Give me one dola!" (Usually a gesture of extortion.)
"You're beautiful!" (Proper response: I’m married.)
"Help me learn English." (Proper response: Byen si! Of course!)

Words are, of course, such a cultural structure that we’re learning a lot about Haiti the more we learn Creole. Creole is a fairly simple language, but I’m coming to appreciate its quirks. For example, if you want to say that someone’s really sick, you just repeat “a lot”: “Li malad anpil anpil.” If you won’t gossip about someone, you say “bouch mwen feme”: my mouth is closed.

And then, there’s Cringlish. This is the best part of learning Creole, because you can throw in an English word and keep right on going: “M’ ta remen yon…Twinkie.” No one bats an eye at this, because they’ve already incorporated quite a few English words into Creole. Bleach? “Klowox.” Generator? “Delco.” Refrigerator? “Frigiday.” Stick a French accent on a popular brand name, and you’ve got yourself a Creole word.

Of course, it’s simple until someone informs you that you’ve been using a French word, which is not really Creole. You may try to argue with them that ALL CREOLE COMES FROM FRENCH, but this usually just annoys them and does little to change their mind. People who throw in French words here in the village are thought to be flaunting their education, but in Port-au-Prince, everyone does it. Since we are white, and therefore educated, people who first meet us often assume that we speak French, and will even greet us with “salut” or “bonjour” which are more French rather than “bonjou,” which is Creole. Interestingly, they are often very relieved when we don’t, because it means they don’t have to put up a front of knowing the language, when they truly don’t.

Mesi, paske ou priye pou nou (Thanks for praying for us)!