On March first, my husband, two oldest sons and I journeyed with a team for Hope for LaGonave to visit rural island schools in the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere. Our adventure began with our flight from Miami to Port au Prince. Please excuse my improper phonetic spelling of a phonetic language!
At least four mission groups represented on the plane, abuzz with purpose. A Haitian woman is singing hymns through the turbulence. I guess skinny white nurses aren’t the only ones afraid of flying. One was worshipping through her fear, one was medicating.
I watched my son grin widely as he shook the hand of the first Haitian person he’d ever met…a tall thin reliable baggage porter named Theo who looked strangely like his Papa in his faded Levi’s. Theo called Will “bebe” and pretended to snatch at his arm. Mr. Ben said Theo wanted to eat the white bebe up! I am beginning to understand Ben Baugh’s strange humor-love about babies. Evidently Haitian children believe that white men eat them up…a boogey man of sorts and I guess the reverse is true. Haitian men eat white bebes, too.
Nine white people and three brown, crammed with luggage in a pick up with a camper shell older and smaller than my husband’s tiny Chevy S10 he drove when we first met. Painted artistically on all sides, like so many others! Hand painted advertising is something that American moguls should imitate. It is quite eye-catching! One says “In God We Trust” and indeed I am! Trusting God to make our lungs breathe CO2 and function normally, let no children’s arms out the window and make it to the top of the hill like the little engine that could. I am snapping blurry pictures and grinning like a crazy person because we are HERE! How many people can you fit in a makeshift taxi? I think we might have squeezed one more.
Hotel Palm has a concrete block wall and an armed guard, air conditioning, a small flat screen tv we have yet to turn on, a dorm sized fridge, a trickle of cold shower and a sparkling clear pool surrounded by potted palms and feral cats. Dinner of conch (lambe) and plantain (bannan), a soup like our own recipe of “special” potato soup and staleish bread with a bit of mold for dipping. I choose to close my eyes to the off-putting and give thanks for the huge American sized portion, knowing that on the other side of the muraled concrete and razor wire are empty bellies, swollen with parasites. Mold is cheese and medicine. I am blessed.
To bed, weary, at 7:30pm. Awake so refreshed that even though it is still dark, I know it must be near dawn. I rise, check time. 9:30pm. How is this possible? I am ready to go! Let’s go see Madame Fifi and dirt tracks and lets have Cladel teach us what he knows. Hours until dawn. Why am I not tired? Surely God has refreshed me and taken away my husband and son’s coughs! Blessed God, blessing his children.