This morning I woke up to my usual routine, devotions on the front porch to the sunrise and the workers who come early to eat Luciannas breakfast. Never failing, every morning they welcome me with big smiles and warm greetings. There was no school today, but Ivenson, one of the young boys in which I know well, was already at the school playing. He speaks little english, but despite the language barrier we made a bond last year that has continued to grow and grow. I spent the next hour laughing with him and sharing mangos. By the end both of us were covered in mango- face, hands and of course my clean shirt. The rest of the morning I spent visiting and having coffee with Val, one of the long term missionaries here. I had met Val last year during my trip and was so excited to see that she was still serving here with her husband. We talked all morning, and she shared stories and wisdom of her experiences serving all over Africa, and her heart for missions. So much to learn from her- really looking forward to the conversations that I will have in the next few weeks.
Next thing I knew it was time for my class to start. At first the classroom was pretty empty, and because I am beginning to understand Haitian culture, I knew not to start at 12, but instead wait because about 30 more students would arrive in the next half hour. I was right. By 12 30 the tiny classroom was packed full with students, and we had students sitting on the ledges of the walls and in desks outside of the classroom. My 25 student class had turned into 47. 47 students eager to learn and willing to be challenged. It was so much fun!! I had no translator, so I taught the class primarily in creole, of course teaching them English. I had no idea I knew that much creole- until I was desperate for them to understand me. Although they didn't have a great knowledge of a lot of the vocabulary I was teaching them, there was no hesitations in their voices as I said Bondye beni ou, and they shouted out God Bless you. The Lord is building his Kingdom right before our eyes. There was a lot of moments of laughter, and the first question I was asked at the end of the day was " Miss Cassie, why do you smile so much? " I couldn't answer, only smile bigger. They are the reason I smile so much. Their motivation and determination to learn and succeed in their education. It is only day one, but it is a fantastic feeling to see my students succeeding, understanding and learning already. I am already looking forward to Monday.
This afternoon there was a funeral at the church for the young woman who passed away in a motercycle accident last week. Within the first 20 minutes of the funeral women were wailing and screaming as is their way of mourning. All of us within the compound were pushed out of our comfort zones within minutes- not from being at the funeral, but just from hearing and knowing what was happening. Women lay on the ground flailing their arms and legs- this was completely common for the Haitians. However, as soon as this began, I was outside at the elementary school, and women and men started bringing me all of the children from the funeral. At first I didn't understand what was happening, but then I began to understand how a situation like this could affect a child, even within the Haitian culture, and realized that the parents didn't want the children witnessing it. Despite that logic, I was still shocked at how many women who had never met me were trusting me to take care of their children. For the next 1-2 hours I became repsonsible for comforting the children and keeping them as far away from the church as possible. However, women were laying on the road everywhere, and it was something that was quite difficult to avoid. I spent some time this year researching Haitian death rituals for a paper, and even through my understanding and knowledge of what was happening, nothing compared to seeing the heartbreak and mourning of those who has just lost someone so close to them. It made me reflect on north american customs, and ask myself if we are the ones who are "out of the norm" as we sit silently in our pews and bow our heads. Something to think about. Despite everything that was going on, my afternoon was made my spending time with a group of little boys, including Marley and Frientzy.
There is something very significant and unique about these two boys. Both of them are ten years old, and live in the village near where we stay. Frientzy, goes to school at Haiti Arise, and is able to speak creole, french and some basic english. He is very intelligent for his age, and very gifted in reading and drawing. Marley, however, does not go to school, and as we realized this past week, is unable to even spell his own name. These two boys come from a similar family and background, yet one of them was given the opportunity to go to school by a Sponsor and one wasnt. Even though they are not together every morning while Frientzy is at school, the minute school is out the two boys are inseperable. There is something so special in their friendship that we were able to witness. The way they care for each other, they way they take care of each other, and they ways that they love each other depsite their many differences. These boys are going to change the world. I can see it in Marleys eyes. Even when we miss opportunities to change other peoples lives, Jesus is working in them to change ours. My heart is becoming more and more rooted in Haiti- but Lord send me to the ends of the earth. Your will, not mine.
Looking forward to my favorite part of the week tomorrow- church.