Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Haitian Diary, Days 7-12: Dancing To A Borrowed Drum

I forgot to write about the most important part of Monday! We registered Floencia for school. I think I was as excited as she was. Respire is providing her with a scholarship and she is attending school for the very first time at eight!

Floencia lives down the south side of Bellevue with a menagerie of woman and children. She is not ready when I get there. But suddenly a chair arrives. I am told to sit. From somewhere a brush and some sort of breel cream or furniture polish or ambergris for all I know. Smells nice at least. My braids are pulled, my unruly waves are teased board straight and then a very large amount of the aforementioned substance is applied liberally to the entire landscape of my hair. The words shiny and silky and slickery come to mind. 

30 minutes later and somewhat surreptitiously if not painfully shy, Floencia comes out from behind the little shed. She is in a bright white dress with her hair pretty and sharing a familiar sheen. She grabs my hand. Her mother is getting ready now. The wait continues. It is soooooooo worth it! Floencia is so nervous she cannot speak!!

Finally it is up the mountain to the little church house that serves as registrar's office. Megan and Brandi and the girls meet us and Floencia is enrolled. Brandi documents the momentous occasion!

 Floencia in the white dress, nervously awaits the declaration of her enrollment (above). Below, she realizes she is being photographed and quickly hides. Her mother is in yellow, sans stripes.

Day 7 is low key. I am up so early. Coffee and a tired-eyed meander through the gospel of Luke. So amazed at the things Christ said. The way he cuts through the BS and goes straight to the very heart of the matter. So not ready for the BS that being back in the states will bring. Language lessons on Bellevue. Drinking in all of Haiti I can. I will miss the children most.

Megan has a meeting in Port-Au-Prince about a potential grant for the school. Kyle cooks jambalaya and Brandi comes with me to the mountain. We sit on cinder-blocks and she tries to take the perfect picture of the full moon. She is a nurse and runs a baseball league for handicapped kids. We talk a little more then back to the house to get the girls to bed. Kyle and I talk music for awhile and then Tachi and I play Casino, a Haitian card game. It is a game of honesty, bluffing is not allowed and all strategy is based upon the belief that everyone is telling the truth. How refreshing. We play until Esther finally gets fussy and Tachi takes her to bed. Sleep is hard for me in Haiti. In the states sleep is a drug. But here, amidst a life that I'd love, I want the days to last forever.

Day 8. In to Port-Au-Prince to pick Megan up at the Hotel. Then to the airport to pick up a large group of Americans. The group is down to visit some orphanages. They are from all over the States. Rita and Josh will stay for the next month. The rest will stay at the house for just one night. We visit an orphanage, the details of which I'd like to relay but there are reasons I cannot. Needless to say. It would have crushed your heart. If you are the praying kind, then ask God for justice and for rescue for those kids. Here is a taste from Megan's blog

The ride back to Gressier is somber, several of the women are still shaken from the visit to the orphanage. Then conversation returns to other things and I find myself quickly missing the sound of Creole. I sit in the front with Micha on my lap and Jessica to my left. There is heavy traffic from a wreck, a naked man walks by, 2nd today, 4 total. In front of us on the side of a mountain there is a fire. It seems too bright to be so far. I imagine it is the burning bush. Ablaze but never consumed. I imagine it is Holy ground. And as if she is reading my thoughts, Micha slips out of her flip flops. I stare at the fire until I am lost in it. As soon as we get to Gressier I sneak up Bellevue. Prayer is hard but honest. I know I am being heard but I do not know what to say so I just spill.

I walk slowly down the mountain then down to the beach. The moon is covered in clouds but I don't take my flashlight out. I need the darkness tonight. I need to hide. The beds are all taken when I get back. I sleep alone on the porch from now on. Well me and the cat-sized rat. 

Day 9: Bernard, Josh and I go to a hardware store, see 2 naked men, count at 6, and then spend the day building bunk beds, a bench and a bookshelf. Fixing plumbing and other broken things. Whatever Tachi puts on our list. It is the hottest day yet. I am soaked to the bone in sweat. I try and make a "sweat angel" on the concrete. Fail. Its more like a Rorschach test. I see a butterfly where my shoulder-blades touched.  It is beginning to sink in that my time in Haiti is ending. I am restless and cagey. The girls sense my somber mood. Micha sits with me on the front stoop and consoles me with her stillness. I think of a younger her, in tatters, walking up Bellevue with her weight in water on her head. 

Day 10-12: So much more to say. So much else that I should have said. There were so many other players in this Haitian script. The kindhearted Australians, the lovely Keyeski sisters, Thorsten the eccentric upstairs German neighbor/nudist, my new buddy Brian, lunch and language lessons with the Voodoo priest below... But this is not my story to tell. Especially when Megan tells it soooo much betterTanbou prete pa janm fè bon dans.

Sitting in the Port-Au-Prince airport with Brandi, listening to a group of young Americans talk about wealth and their dreams of prestige I realized Haiti would always have my heart like no other place. And as my trip ended I took great consolation that the future of Gressier was just unfolding. Below the newly placed sign announces what that future holds for the humble little mountain called Bellevue and the beautiful people of Gressier. Please pray for them. Give with ridiculous generosity. I can assure you the money goes where Respire says. And the lives they invest in....let's just say, they pay eternal dividends.  

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