West Tennessee Haiti Partnership


Here I am at 4:30 AM again, writing about Haiti because I am unable to sleep anymore. Must be some of those “stress hormones” in action.
The guest house is quiet with sleeping souls, a few snores coming from the rooms. Of course, the night is anything but quiet. Sitting near an open door, I hear crickets. Cars going by on the road outside the gate. Dogs barking. The ever present rooster crowing. There is a bird which makes this incredible laughing sound as it flies through the palm trees. Our guest hostess, Gail Buck, tells me they call it the “monkey bird”. It is easy to see where it got its name.
This evening we had a most delicious supper, full of dishes I did not recognize that all tasted wonderful. Some sort of salad with sliced chicken, garbanzo beans, bits of pineapple and fresh tomato. Another dish with chunks of grilled fish and vegetables. The most popular item looked like black oatmeal. Honestly. We have all become adventurous in our culinary habits, and knowing how good everything else tastes at the guest house, we tried it. Many folks had second and third helpings. It has a Haitian name, but “black bean risotto” is the most apt description I could come up with. There is a shaker of seasoning on the table with the name “Habanero Harmony”. I love spicy food, so that sounded like just the thing for me. The label describes it as “inspired salt”. It makes everything taste fantastic, from eggs to salad to the “black bean whatever”. Maybe I can find some today at the market. We hope to go to an arts/crafts market today discovered by Ruthie online.
After supper many of us sat together and shared stories of the day, stories of trips past. Margaret told me a story I had not heard before, about something that happened to her in April 2010 when we went to Montrouis shortly after the earthquake. The kids had been evacuated from St Vincent’s, which was in ruins, to a village on the coast where there is an old seminary campground. The grounds are right on the beach, and in the mornings and evenings we would sit on the stone wall looking out over the ocean. One morning Margaret was there, enjoying the peace and beauty of the shore and the water, watching the fishermen work their boats. Jean Robert was playing his violin, a beautiful sound above the gentle waves. One of the St Vincent’s staff was sitting with 2 of her children, talking to Margaret. She had a two year old girl in her arms. Suddenly she put the girl in Margaret’s lap and said, “Take this child”, meaning of course, Take this child to the States. She was crying when she said this. Margaret started crying as well and told the woman, “This child needs to grow up in Haiti, because she will become a lawyer and work in the courts to help her people”.
Margaret’s story reminded me of baby Margaret, who was abandoned at St Vincent’s 2 years ago while we were at St Vincent’s, at the school before it fell down in the earthquake. It was November, Advent. I thought then about the tears of the mother who had to leave her child in the hopes she would be cared for. What must it be like to try to raise a handicapped child in Haiti, where food is scarce, medical services expensive. Raising a child with special needs is difficult even in the States, with all the resources we have available. We saw baby Margaret today, brought to the school by her foster mom who is caring for her and another disabled child named Vincent. Vincent was abandoned at the school last year during our trip to St Vincent’s, again during Advent. We were blessed to be part of the baptism of each of these children. The intense experience of being in Haiti brings to life the message of Advent, that God loves this weary world still, that he has not forsaken us. Seeing a brilliantly blooming bougainvillea with pink and white flowers growing out of a collapsed building, speaks to me of God’s faithfulness, God as Emmanuel.

Susan Nelson

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