Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Waterfalls and Presidents

Last night as I finished up blogging, I wondered what I would be able to write about today. We were just going to the beach, very routine, nothing abnormal was likely to happen....

One waterfall find, ministry connection, Carnival run-in, UN official yelling, lobster eating, and President siting later....I'd say, maybe I assumed incorrectly. This is in fact Haiti, right?

We began our day eating our oatmeal and peanut butter out on the tiled walkways overlooking the misty mountains attempting to convince you they are actually a postcard--and it works. I've said it before, but it's worth repeating...Cambri. Is. Breathtaking. We have always been downtown in our guesthouse, but here the mornings invite you into the island and at night the stars remind you of your smallness as they rise above the clouds that rise above the lights that throb over Kanaval. Today's agenda: visit the children down the hill at the Cambri orphanage, see the mobile clinic that is being set up by the other team there, and then head out to explore as much of the city of Port Salut as we can in a day.

The children at this site found our hands before we finished the incline. They know enough English to get through sentence number three, probably due to the guesthouse they live near. One finds me, and then sees my nose ring and finds Dana. I say under my breath, "I understand , my grandpa did the same thing." And then my new friend found me. His name is Toto and he is kind of like a little puppy I suppose. I couldn't get over his name or the way that he repeated sounds that I made in a singing voice. He reminded me so much of my friend Peterson from our first trip that left with his family soon after. It was neat to meet a similar personality. He played with my hair and told me things about the other kids that I couldn't quite translate. We made conversation with the older boys a bit, some in Kreyol, some in Angle, and then after a peek in the clinic, we got out of the way and headed further south.

Port Salut was said to be the home of a couple of cultural sites that we wanted to check off for our upcoming Centenary Module. We also had plans to visit another Children's Village to see how their ministry is being run as well as eat lunch on the beach. We parked at the village to see a class happening, which was curious since all schools are out for Mardi Gras this week. We asked the head Mama what was happening, and she said, "Since school is out, I set up a Christian day camp for youth." It's so encouraging to see initiative, and successful initiative at that. And they danced and they sang as we toured the facilities. After about ten minutes there, Kaiti mentioned that this may really be somewhere that the Wesley could make a relationship with and live among this summer. I thought, "This is why we must sometimes trust the change of plans with our flexibility, because we never know what meetings God is setting up." Our last minute added visit could make all the difference for a college team and the people that could become their next Haitian family.

We mentioned to the head Mama at the end of our visit that we had seen a sign on the way in near her entrance that read, "Kaskade"...

"Wi, li se kat minut am mâché." So we headed on foot toward the hidden Port Salut waterfall. It took a bit more than 4 minutes, and we were followed by teen boys who were 100% making fun of us, but surely it was worth it. As you weave in and out of deep greens on a well trodden dusty path, you begin to hear water hitting from a height that the ocean doesn't make. We could make out the sound of a large number of voices as we came upon the gate where we were charged a quarter each to enter. Whether or not that person who is $2 richer was someone in charge, we'll never be sure. The path down is just as dusty but winds more with man made steps sloping ever so slightly enough to make you wonder if you'll domino this whole caravan before its over. And then you see it. Three separate streams slipping down slick tan rock into a pool of beige water pushing into a juggled stream. On top, a preteen Haitian boy sitting, torso dancing to the chatter below, which happened to be the older orphanage kids who had taken a small outing. We moved to the side of our sandy slope when we saw the herd heading back our way, greeted with thirty different "bonjous," and finished our climb down to the water. Haiti is full of surprises. We tookour pictures and enjoyed the hideaway that we had been blessed with, and started our thigh-exercise back to the top. I've always wanted to see a water fall in Haiti. Check!

We left with talk about Kaiti's May team and how our teams can maybe run into each other while we're working this summer. Then we headed to the artisan center in the middle of town, which turned out to be a pretty typical souvenir shop, but it helped us practice our haggling...which I hate to do. Where is Carrie Mercer when you need a painting not to be $30?

After getting information for Centenary about a couple of famous artists' houses in the community, we headed to the beach. We've been here many times with our teams, and it is quite nostalgic at this point. Many shells and debriefing conversations have been surfaced here. A proposal has left its trails in that sand and we have toasted to our love for Haiti and our gratitude of God with many a sugar cane coke under those palm leaves. This trip offered no less of an experience as we talked about our questions, our hopes, what we've learned, what we've yet to learn, and good humor to keep it all running. After our meal was paid for, we loaded back up in our off-roading minivan, and headed back to town.

Little did we know, so was the entire town. And round two of Kanaval had begun. Which would have made for a very uneventful wait in traffic as we discussed how we help our teams cope with the emotions that inevitably follow trips like these, except for the unmistakable train of black escalades that began pushing our long line of cars to the side. And there was President Martelly, surrounded by too many cars and guns to count, windows down and thumbs up to the crowd. Reminder: never dull, always something to write about.

We laughed and told Dr. Ciocchetti that we arranged all of this for his first trip to the Island, then trudged along with the hundreds of other celebrating locals.

The night became even more interesting as we found ourselves lost in traffic and on the edge of a side road staring at the floats passing by. Tonight they actually looked more like the decorations we're used to in Louisiana, with their large colors and loud music and soda carts. We laughed about how we had waited 5 hours and walked 6 miles to NOT actually see the parade yesterday, and then viola! This moment was only squelched by the UN vehicle that rolled his window down at us.

(UN guy in a French accent) "You are cutting off traffic, you are being disrespectful!" (As he continued to not let us in.)
(My thoughts) *Doesn't he know where he is? Would he say that to a Haitian?*
(Dr. Kress in French) "Sir, are you French?"
(UN rudely) "You are English! You speak English to me. You are being disrespectful!" (Rolls up window and moves forward.)

Maybe I understand better why the Haitians dislike the UN. Dana said, "Move forward, I'll speak some English to him..." And we laughed and shook our heads at the rudeness and laughed some more.

A few more wrong turns and floats after that, our wonderful driver finally found his way back to Cambri, and we clapped and proclaimed the bizarreness of the day and crawled out in wonderment of how we would even begin to share the stories of the day.

Today I have remembered that it is important to trust our flexibility to the interruptions. We never know how God might be trying to love on us. I remembered that one way or another the Holy Spirit will get us to the point where we are fully open for whatever is out in front of us, where we embrace it because the most terrifying place to be is not out of control, but outside of God's will. Today through conversations about teams and trips, I remembered that our emotions should be coupled as equally with our education. We should learn, and gain wisdom and knowledge, then ask God to infuse our emotions into that education. So much harm has been done on the back of distraught and overwhelmed feelings.

Today I remembered, sitting on this tile with the blue of the single lights glowing into the thickening dark, smelling the burning of a hundred trash piles, hearing the conversations of the leaders and the other teams on all sides as well as the drums of the festivities below in the city...that no man could write the stories that the Creative Almighty chooses to lead us into. We are blessed to play a role. We are blessed to play a role.

Expecting to write again tomorrow,


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