Haiti trip account part 2:
Day 2: Monday
We left from the college early in the morning and drove through more urban area on our way to the dock where we needed to catch to ferry. The scene was overwhelmingly crowded with people: people on the side of the road walking, people in the back of crowded tap taps, overflowing with bodies. People selling chickens. People selling medicine pills. People selling water. People selling flip flops. People talking. People yelling. People running across the street. People in front of their concrete shackish homes. People driving. People honking. Life was going in full-force while we drove, rubble around them, poverty encompassing them, an we literally just drove through it all with our doors locked, our windows up, and taking discrete pictures when we saw things we either couldn’t believe or needed desperately to believe.
As we finally left the clogged, sprawling, crawling urban area, we burst forth into free land, and dotting the open hill-sides were still many tents where people were living — tents made of blue tarps, white tarps inscribed “USAid — Courtesy of the American People”, random boards, and a few pieces of sheet metal. I don’t know how I feel with being associated with the white tarps that still exist as inadequate lodging for tens of thousands of people in Haiti over a year after the earthquake. It does provide covering that may not have been there otherwise, but a white tarp? Really? Is that courtesy? Is that compassion? Is that the sharing of wealth and blessing? Yes, when there is nothing else to offer, but Haiti needs much more than a new batch of tarps.
We got to the dock, and I saw the most beautiful boat I’ve ever seen (not the ferry we took, but a big wooden ship with sails that was docked there as well). (If you don’t know this about me — I love sail boats and sailed ships, and I was blessed to see many such boats cruising the waters throughout our time around the water through the next few days.) The dock for the ferry was as hectic as the area we waited in outside the airport. Many men were there looking for work, driven by desperation, ready to serve in the hopes of earning a bit for their services. finally we did all get crowded onto the benches along the sides of the ferry, and all of our equipment and luggage got loaded and secured. The ride took longer than any of us had really anticipated, and was a solid two hours if not more that we spent there, sitting squished next to one another and our haitian boat-neighbors. The man next to me eventually asked if we spoke spanish, and I felt myself come totally awake and begin to engage. I hadn’t realized until that moment how much not being able to communicate makes me lack energy. I had been sleeping through part of the ride (thoroughly sleeping–head fallen back, mouth wide open type of situation) and this man, in spanish, began to tattle-tale on my lovely friends, Destiny and Lizzy who had so kindly taken a picture of me while asleep. It was fun to get to speak with him in real words that I knew (even if they weren’t in my primary language) rather than having to resort to the charades game continually.
When we got to the dock, we went through the unloading and loading of ALL of our things yet again — this time into a large open-topped cage truck. The pastor of the community we were heading to (Pastor Revoy Lindor of Plaine Mapou Church of the Nazarene) met us at the dock and rode all the way back with us also — something he did NOT have to do, but simply shows his excitement and commitment to this partnership as well.
The truck ride to Plaine Mapou was an experience. It took somewhere around 3 hours, and most of the team was piled into the back half of the truck bed, standing up, trying to hold onto the edges, and eventually some of them tried to sit and not fall on the others. Myself, our W&W leader, Steve, and a couple of the other girls were piled in the front half of the truck bed atop all of our luggage and equipment — making us sit at about the same height as the top of the cab of this large truck. Our height is what caused the problem of branches — or rather, the problem of having to DODGE the branches along this bumpy, hilly, pot-hole-filled, three-hour-long dirt road. About 15 minutes into the ride, as we were all trying to dodge the branches, we learned that some of the branches have thorns…
Between falling in-between suitcases and sinking into inhumane position within the luggage pile, falling on one another, and being in the face, arms, neck, torso with branches, we finally arrived in Plaine Mapou, and as we drove up, the church members were standing in front of the church, waiting in anticipation of our arrival, and as soon as we were within their sight, they began dancing and singing– praising God and simultaneously welcoming us into their lives. those of us did not jump, sing or dance (partly because of our crowded placement in the truck, partly because of uncertainty and difference in culture), but we recognized the significance of that beginning moment as we drove up and realized that this was the beginning of something that can be truly beautiful in the sight of God. We didn’t know the people before us — didn’t know their names, faces, stories, or how they would influence us within the next few short days, but we did know that God was in that place, and that He had brought gladness to us all together.
By the time we got to the town, it was almost dark, so we just set up our air mattresses and mosquito nets before eating dinner, meeting as a team, and hitting the hay to rest up for an early day of work the next day. We went to sleep to the sounds of the church members still singing praises in Creole as they all gathered around the porch of the Church walls, and sat on desks they had pulled out from school rooms. The joy in the air was penetrating.