The Big One-Nine
Alternative Title: Adventures in Haitian Birthdays
One of my favorite experiences yet in Haiti coincidentally occurred on my birthday. So yeah, pretty great day!
In the morning, my housemates surprised me with cookies and decorations, which I was actually really surprised by. Apparently the night before, they had gotten together and baked but I just thought that they were doing something really cool and excluding me on purpose. After silently being angry, all was most definitely forgiven in the morning!
We had a quiet morning around campus, just looking for work, until we were invited on a “field trip” of sorts. We visited NVM’s sister church in the mountain village of Fond Cheval. After a fun, bumpy ride up to the church, the pastor, Jean-Claude, welcomed us sincerely.
My first impression of Fond Cheval was like leaving Dusty Destitution (Chambrun) to the Land of Plenty. It was paradise up there. Not only was the temperature a good 15 degrees cooler, but everything was so lush and alive. There was healthy livestock, corn, avocados, mangoes, and even grass!
We sat under the shade of an avocado tree while Gami and Cathy (who basically run NVM’s daily functions) discussed bringing a mobile clinic and VBS up to the village. The pastor was really excited and I feel like they collaborated really well to make everything as culturally sensitive as possible. He then offered us 7-Ups and roasted some corn for us to eat.
Gami shared something really wise about humility. Sometimes humility is not making yourself less than others; it’s becoming what they need you to be. I was first really uncomfortable accepting his generosity because he didn’t have our American notion of “enough”. But then I realized that he was blessed enough to give and this was him in turn blessing us. Why wouldn’t I accept that?
Jean-Claude then showed us around the church which, even though was falling apart and had holes in the roof, just radiated sincerity. We took a bit of a hike around his property where him and his son collected a bucket of mangoes which he then gave as a gift.
Just being somewhere, getting to know people, and being guests I think just did my soul well here.
When we returned, we got to relax, had dinner, and then our intern small group, where we basically sit around and be vulnerable. If there’s anything I learned from my past week here in Haiti is that it is equally hard and rewarding. It’s very rough on your emotions in ways that are hard to process so getting to open up to others who share your sometimes erratic emotions is extremely helpful.
After a long and hilarious Skype with my family *who didn’t forget the tradition of saying what we love the most about the birthday person*, I got to get a lot of love from letters on Facebook.
I’m one extremely blessed and beloved person. I can only hope to be able to return that love to those I’m serving here.
Photo Cred: Grace Westfall
Author’s Note: My next blog post while be processing my life, with my last three years in particular. I’ve found that this blog is my best medium of self-expression whether people actually read it or not 🙂