Today I Saw God
Haiti Mission Trip Day Eight by Steve Bracewell
[Editor's Note: In early December, a Floris mission team returned from Haiti. Since there was no internet available while on their trip, we will be posting blog posts written during their time in Haitiover the next few days.Read previous posts here.]
It's a 4 AM wakeup from Donette Ablamy and "chop chop" people, get a move on! If ever I own any sort of lodging establishment I want Donette Ablamy in charge. Donette is Pastor Ablamy's wife and runs the Les Cayes United Methodist Guest House, she's a fantastic host, full of laughter and fun, but man she runs a tight ship and at about 100 miles an hour. She's sort of a tornado from Guiana with a great sense of humor thrown in. Donette serves us a light breakfast with strong coffee. After loading up the truck with luggage, Pastor Ablamy blessed us by serving communion, the reverence and energy of this service gave me chills and a sense of calm all at the same time. It was a sacred moment to reflect on our work and pray for safe journey while accepting the body and blood of Christ. We pulled out just after 5 AM and the Church of God next door had just started their 5 AM service, makes our 8 AMers at Floris seem like oversleeping sluggards.
The "Transportation Chic" bus pulled out on time by Haitian standards and we were on our way back towards Port-au-Prince. As we rolled through the hills of southern Haiti, I was thinking of and already missing all of our new friends in Bercy, I know everyone else was feeling the same. Our 1st detour was around a blocked off bridge, if the Haitian's say keep off the bridge I trust them. It was no big deal, just a bypass to an older lower bridge. Later we came upon a bit of a slow down, then I saw the problem, a jack-knifed tractor-trailer across the road. All traffic diverted down what looked to be more of a culvert or wash than a road. The bus suspension and drive train clunked and groaned as we slowly negotiated the off-road terrain. We ended up going through a community off the hi-way and traversed back towards the main road next to a cemetery missing some crypts by inches. It was very surreal, I kept expecting ominous music to start playing followed by the voice of Sam Elliot as though we were in some kind of off-roading bus commercial. The remainder of the Chic Bus trip was only marred by a traffic jam on the outskirts of PaP, it seemed as though we'd never make it, but in the end arrived at our destination only 15 mins late (not really worth mentioning in Haiti).
We were blessed with getting Johnny, Tom Vencus's personal driver, for the day. He dropped us at the UMVIM Guest House in Petionville to offload our luggage. Then we did the standard Baptist Mission lunch followed by the PaP overlook stop. At the Baptist Mission a very energetic Octogenarian engaged us with a sales pitch for some jewelry which is made by and benefits mothers and widows in Haiti. I'm used to getting a sales pitch about every 3 steps I take in Haiti, but this was a little different, an 80-something Bla (white person) selling something was new. It turns out we were incredibly fortunate and were being bathed in the radiant fire of one Eleanor Turnbull, who along with her husband, Wallace Turnbull, founded the Baptist Mission in 1948. Eleanor has been in Haiti since 1946. As one can imagine she's a fountain of knowledge on Haiti; the more we talked, well, the more we talked. Her vision is "the fissure in the wall of despair" and she believes that it is through production of goods that Haiti can overcome their troubles and open a fissure in this wall, I tend to agree. Eleanor hooked me up with a Creole Bible and a book "God Is No Stranger" of Creole prayers which she compiled and edited, I plan to send these to my good friend Enso in Bercy. I think the human reaction to other people when they exhibit a burning passion for anything is to shrink away and disengage similar to how we react to insanity, but I'm learning to engage deeper in these situations. I usually come away feeling either blessed, or at the very least amused definitely blessed in the case of Eleanor, wow, what a wonderful woman.
The PaP overlook continues to be improved. The steps were finished and included a handicap ramp. The wall along the back of the overlook now has a bar and there are tables and chairs on the overlook. It was very nice. My only concern is this little overlook with its incredible view may cease to be free. But then again, it's an awesome sight and a great place to enjoy a soft drink and have a conversation with friends while providing meaningful commerce. We weren't pressured to order anything but didn't stay long, just enough for a few photos then back through the gauntlet of souvenir vendors on the way to the van.
We stopped at the Giant grocery on the way back to the UMVIM GH, a bit disappointing. It was very modern and like shopping in the USA, including the products. We did find some Rebu coffee and Haitian hot sauce, but not the local hot sauce I'd discovered on a previous trip at a market in Croix-des-Bouquets. We'll have to wait for the critique from Saucy Jenny.
Back at the UMVIM GH we all took turns showering, catching up and friending each other and our new Haitian friends on Facebook. After dinner we de-briefed with Tom Vencus and Danette Segroves. We shared all of our joys and delights as well as concerns over the building issues. I found devotion to be quite relaxing as I utilized our few minutes between debrief and devotion to take a dip in the UMVIM pool, it was very cool and quite a luxury after a week in the field. I highly recommend pool-side devotions!
Apparently the roosters crowed all night, I never stirred, I guess I'm used to the fowl noise now.