Today being our last full day in Haiti, we spent it driving up into Kenscoff which is “up on the mountain” above Port au Prince. It is cooler up there and many fancier homes can be found. The Baptist Mission is also up there, which I saw for the first time today. A lovely craft shop full of hand made bags, linens, jewelry as well as dishes from china and wood. An American woman walked up and introduced herself as “Madam Wallace”, and told us, “I’m 91 years old and I’ve lived in Haiti since 1946!”. When we told her we work at Ecole St Vincent, she brightened up even more and talked about Sister Joan Margaret. She said her name is Eleanor, but the Haitians call her Madam Wallace because of her husband. I asked her about Larry and Gwen Mellon, who founded Albert Schweitzer hospital in Deschapelles, (about whom I am reading a book at the moment), and she told me about Gwen Mellon coming to Haiti and helping her out with caring for sick children. She also knows Dr Gretchen Berggren, who vaccinated thousands of children against tetanus during the 70s and 80s. Apparently Dr Berggren’s daughter was baptized by Pastor Wallace. Then Eleanor mentioned her son’s book, Creole Made Easy. Wally Turnbull, I realized with a sudden shock! I have studied his book and listened to his CD dozens of times! It was like meeting the First Lady and not realizing who she was right away.
With more time and a cup of coffee, I could have listened to her stories for hours. I’m sure she would have obliged! But we had to leave so I said goodbye and she said she would pray for me and our ministry. Quite a blessing from a special person who has devoted her life to the people of Haiti.
Sienna and I walked across the street and “ran the gauntlet” of shop keepers pressing for our attention. We found two delightful paintings and then got out of there, our money spent along with our tolerance for requests from all sides, “Can I show you Madam? Come see my shop Madam? I give you good price Madam!”
Tomorrow we will stop at St Vincents to say goodbye to our friends before boarding the plane for Atlanta. Such an amazing two weeks. As I sit typing for this blogpost at the guest house, sweating and looking forward to air conditioning, I am so thankful for this chance to travel and learn so much more about this country I love. We have memories and treasures to bring home, and a trunk load of stories. Thank you to my readers for sharing some of these with me, and for taking the time to glimpse the “other side of Haiti”.