Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jacky the Cat, Robin Williams, and a Moto-Bike

I not only rode my first Moto-bike in Haiti today…I learned to drive one!!! (On a low traffic, side-beach-street, with small amounts of potholes and distractions, Mom.) It was exhilarating, and after a few good jolts and a nice solid wobble to find my balance, Frantzou (our translator) and I were off. Slowly at first, then second gear, and *gasp* up to third gear even! And I laughed out loud and told Frantzou how funny it must look to see an American girl taxi-ing a Haitian man around Les Cayes. He said, “I will tell them, ‘She knows what she’s doing!’” And I said, “And I will shout back, ‘I am pretending!’” And we laughed as I avoided dips in the road that were unnecessary to avoid just before I got a glimpse of the main road and quickly inquired, “How do I stop?”

It’s a lovely day in Les Cayes.

This morning I woke up at 6:30, watched the curtains blow around the sun rays until about 7 when I got out of bed to get ready for our 7:30 breakfast--pancakes and mangoes. I was introduced to the guesthouse kitty, whose name I expected to sound very foreign, but turned out to be “Jacky.” We talked about the different ministries that the Pastor and his wife here at Hosanna Guesthouse have been a part of growing over the last 40 years. They are visionaries who know their smallness and recognize the reality of God’s provision. Their ministry, Bethanie Missions, was a dream when they started, they said. Now, it has turned into a denomination that supports 65 congregations, two guesthouses, a school, a clinic, and an orphanage in Haiti. They said that Bethanie runs on faith. And that when God wants them to build, they build. And when God wants them to wait, they wait. When the money is there, they expand, and if it is not, they pray, and continue fasting to see where God takes their adventure next.

The wife of the Methodist Superintendent of Les Cayes said yesterday, “How can we preach the God of the good news to people who cannot eat? That is why we do both. We feed them and we tell them about the greatness of God.” I think that’s the most beautiful thing about the name Bethanie Missions…it is active in its caring for people. And that is a natural response of a God who is not booming over us as in the voice of a disappointed boss…but in the voice a Savior who has asked to help carry the load and take us somewhere that makes sense. Who asks us to yoke up to something lighter than lies and more freeing than selfishness or loneliness.

The Pastor and his wife at Hosanna asked to take us up to the place that they wish to establish a clinic, just outside of the Anniversary Arch. We bumbled over a broken, rocky dirt road that winded through a mountain, and came out at a very large, empty, concrete facility. The couple has a vision of turning it into a Christian hospital that cares about life. They are disappointed with the state of the hospital and clinics in Les Cayes and want to be about offering something different that heals people’s bodies and speaks to their souls. We walked around what used to be classrooms as the Pastor painted a picture of the ER and waiting rooms and examination spaces that would one day be there, when God leads people to support it. And I could see a time when I trek back up that mountain side and walk in a place with painted walls and enhanced quality of life for many. Then they took us back past the car and up a hill. And as we peaked the top of that mound and leveled out onto a small grassy area, I realized that I was looking down over all of Les Cayes. Downtown, the villages, the sea and the side Island in the distance. It was that one place you keep in the back of your mind when you travel but you can never fully explain what you want to see or how you’d even get there…but once you’re there, you know. And all I could think about was, can I go higher? I can’t wait to take our summer teams back there to see the city and pray for the hospital and the ministry and healing that will happen on that land. We drove out back toward the city, catching a glimpse of one of the Catholic schools named after a Saint whose picture painted on the side of the building strangely resembles an American Robin Williams, Hu pointed out.

Coming back to the guesthouse, I went to the upstairs porch to plunk out some chords of Jesus Loves the Little Children (as I’ve been volunteered to play that and tell a Bible story at the Children’s Chapel in the morning, haha). And just as I started, I was summoned downstairs because I had a visitor.

Mama Lis! Maxo’s wife who used to work at the other guesthouse, who took us in as her children while we were in Haiti. She speaks as little English as I do Creole, but her presence, affection, and expressions speak deeply enough to reinstate that we belong to her and she belongs to us. It was as if somewhere in our souls something recognizes itself in each other. We attempted the small talk that any four year old could accomplish, then let her know that we would come and visit her and the children with a translator tomorrow. And she filled a bag with some of Madam Franchette’s peanuts to make Mamba a, and left with a wave and a big white smile.

Of course, after that, was the Moto-bike lesson. And as I rode around on the back of the kelly-green cycle, passing through more of Cayes than I’ve ever seen before, wondering (as always) about it’s multiple paradoxes of feeling comfortable as well as unnerving, feeling dirty as well as gorgeous, feeling like home and like anything but home…I thought about my driving attempt and my earlier conversation with Lis. And I said to Frantzou, “If I get better at driving this thing and knew the language fluently, there’d be no stopping the possibilities!” And he laughed and said, “You move here?” And I said, “Oh no, maybe when I’m old. We can all be old and in Haiti together. But when I come now, I think I would be much more effective and have many more relationships if I could communicate and could get around your country.”

Which makes sense, I suppose, since we’re all following the life of a divine guy who had the same mentality. That if He could communicate in the way we communicate and travel on the grounds we live on, His ministry would be effective and relational to a greater degree than any god ever followed before. He would be able to speak with the people, meet them in their element, and show them He loved them in a way they could understand. In hopes that they would yoke up with His lighter load and envision, surely live into, a freer, fuller, less fearful, more connected life.

Hu asked if I was going to get a moto-bike when I get back to the states. I said, “No, because there I’d have to wear a helmet and I have TERRIBLE helmet hair.”

Which is true.

This afternoon we’re going to visit Darivaje Orphan Village to check on the children there as well as meet with the pastor to discuss projects for the summer. Tomorrow is Children’s Chapel, back to Bighouse to pick up some painted beads and say goodbye to the children, another visit with Virginia and Lis, then a tour of some of Bethanie’s ministries, and packing for home:)



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