Written on July 3, 2018
There’s no point in wearing makeup here. I’m not trying to impress anyone, and I’d sweat it all off minutes after application anyways. Getting ready doesn’t take very long with that process being excluded.
Beginning our evangelism time today is just as chaotic as it was yesterday. Running a makeshift kid’s church service with no distinguishable leader or gameplan in addition to the language barrier proves to be as difficult as it sounds.
Day two of the kids learning motions to “My God” goes beautifully. The 6-year-old students are participating the same as the 16-year-olds. Seeing the kids add their own moves to the song makes it even more marvelous to be witnessing. I can’t stop smiling; I’m sure I look like an absolute goof as I’m overly dramatic in my movements. I don’t ever want the song to end. Dancing to this music with these children feels like the exact purpose for my existence in the world.
After evangelism, before breakfast is ready, the interns play the song “Colors” to waste some time. This is the song all of the kids got to hear in Paige The Intern’s class yesterday. It’s incredibly catchy and everyone is up dancing. I enjoy watching the kids get into this song despite being unable to understand the words. One little girl, who looks to be about ten, grabs my hands and urges me to dance with her. My heart melts at being chosen for this role, and I can’t help but to jump around the room like a fool.
The little girl knows the words to the song, now that she’s heard it several times. Though, I’m sure she doesn’t know what she’s saying. At this precise, perfect moment, she and I are making eye contact and clutching each other as if our lives depend on it, and she sings the lyrics, “There’s beauty in this unity we’ve found!”
My heart almost stops with the depth of this scene. Being completely here in this dusty, minuscule church in the middle of dessert-land Haiti, holding hands and twirling around with this little girl who doesn’t know me at all and has no idea what the words she just said mean…I’m taken aback. There’s such beauty in the unity we’ve found dancing together.
I’m grasping what it means to be one of God’s children for possibly the very first time. He created each one of us in the same way, in His image. He placed us all in deliberate locations and handpicked times of history; here I am crossing paths with this energetic little girl on an island in the Caribbean. What else matters after this realization? I can’t fathom returning to minute tasks in the States. I want to stay dancing in extreme heat for the rest of my life.
Before classes start, I have Martha put my hair in a braid, and now I’m feeling super in tune with the culture. She and I are together in the English teaching class today. The intern in charge of this class is a soft spoken college sophomore named Sami. She’s studying elementary education and is simply perfect in every way. She has an excellent lesson plan laid out, and I’m totally vibing with her.
Our first group is the intermediates, ages 10-12ish. They know their numbers and days of the week and a few introduction sentences like “My name is…” and “I’m … years-old”. They are relatively well behaved and smiley.
The group leader is a tall male who is mostly an intermediate English learner as well. He walks up to me and says, “Sak pase? Ne pulay.” I give him a blank expression and say that I’m sorry, in English. He says “Sak pase?” again, only slower. I stay staring blankly at him. Then he says, “What’s up?” I finally put it together. I confirm, “Oh! Sak pase means what’s up?” He says, “Yes. And ‘ne pulay’ is ‘just chillin’”. I laugh and repeat the phrases several times throughout the rest of his time in the classroom. Ironic. I came here to teach English, but have become the one learning Creole. [of course, I have no idea what the actual spelling of those phrases in Creole are, I’m only doing my best to portray the pronunciations]
During Sami’s introducing Martha and I do the next class, she explains that I am Martha’s daughter-in-law. The class translator, Daphne, is shocked to find that I am married and reacts very animatedly. “You ah maddied? No! How mooch time?” I tell her we’ve been married for five years. She runs to the back of the class, where I am, screaming, “Noooo!!! You ah crassie! How old ah you?” She does the math after my answer and responds, “You wuh sevunteen? No way!” She pulls me up from my seat and hugs me. The expressiveness of the people here keeps on surprising me. I can’t stop laughing. Daphne adds, “I am twenty-sevun and my mudda will not let me have buhfriend!” I continue laughing at her statements, and tell her that Martha has another son who just happens to be single. Daphne says, “Oh my! We could be sistahs!”
Sami is using the same “Days of the Week” song that I use to teach my preschoolers back home. But these kids are not singing it comparably to how my littles do at all. They’ve added stomping and clapping, and a few of the older kids are dancing. “Today is Tuesday!” clap “Today is Tuesday!” clap “All day long!” twirl “All day long!” stomp. I might have to integrate some of this into my lesson planning next year.
Our last class is the youngest, beginners. They’re the cuddliest group. I walk past a little girl sitting on the pew-like school desks. She motions for me to sit next to her. She grabs my arm and wraps it around her shoulder. I glance at her nametag: Widberline. Another little girl walks up to me. I start to stand because I think maybe she’d like to sit next to Widberline. But instead she shakes her head, and pushes me to sit back down. Then she helps herself to sitting on my lap. I see her name tag: Pharley. She takes both of my hands in hers and wraps them around her body.
I do stay to help serve lunch today. It’s wild. Near the soccer field on campus, there’s a large white tent designated for the activity of eating. Two main poles in the center of the tent keep it secured to the ground, but there are probably fifteen or so smaller poles attached to the sides of the tent to help stabilize. The problem, though, is that the wind wants nothing more than to lift the tent off the ground. Several of my team members are holding onto the poles for dear life to keep them from flapping and slicing someone’s head open.
After lunch, around 2:30pm, our team gathers in the pavilion to fight off the heat of the day. The electricity goes out from 1pm-4pm routinely each day, which makes the inside of any building totally unlivable. We lay on the ground and in hammocks.
My social frustrations are fortunately running low today. I don’t have a problem engaging in the repetitive conversations that are unraveling. I even have some fun laughing with the teenagers when the topic of discussion becomes, “How do chickens mate?”
Martha can’t seem to stand not having a task during this down time, so she bursts into action creating an entire puppet show from scratch to a song that no one besides she and I have heard before. Somehow, what she comes up with is pretty spectacular, considering.
In the evening, the plan is to practice the puppet show a couple of times in the second story of a new school house that isn’t in use yet, but our puppets ended up locked inside the current school house at the end of the day. We do our best to play through the puppet show only using our hands as characters. None of us can keep our acts together. Everything is hilarious. We’re all in this stuck state of being tired with a dash of slap-happiness.
We skip devotions due to the puppet show practice, which is a nice little gift. Martha and I head to the showers early. The soft trickle of cold water feels as normal to me as anything ever has. I don’t understand how this unsuspecting shower establishment can seem like such a comfortable place for me to be. I hear Martha singing in the shower next to mine the words to a song we learned at church Sunday: “Waymaker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness. My God; that is who You are.”
Liv – Authentically